"Grand as it is, planet Earth is part of something even grander- that great plan of God. Simply summarized, the Earth was created that families might be." Elder Russell M. Nelson
Sunday June 26, 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

Many people have told us over the last few months that Armidale gets very cold this time of year and we have discovered it to be true.  We arrived to rain, maybe snow, and temperatures of about 24-41 degrees.
        The flat that we are living in is quite comfortable and nice for a senior couple. There is one heater/air conditioner that is located in the living room. All other areas have neither heat nor cooling. Now, to be clear,  I am not complaining about this. I am just putting my observations down in this Blog/Journal. The one unit has the impossible job of heating or cooling the entire flat and must be supplemented with space heaters when it is cold or fans when it is hot. This situation leads to us spending most of the time in the living room when we are in the flat. The bedroom is always either too cold or too hot. When it is cold outside it is "Jimmy Carter cold" inside in the bedroom. If you remember the Carter years and the energy crisis, we were all told to keep our thermostats at 65 degrees or lower in the winter to save energy. That was OK if you were active, but if you sat down to read or watch TV you would need a blanket or coat to wear in your house. I find that if I am reading or studying in the bedroom that I get uncomfortably cold. I have taken to using the space heater as my own personal campfire. Like a campfire, it only warms you on one side at a time so I must keep a good rotational schedule or negative consequences will result. It is actually quite comfortable when I can control the dizziness and the nausea. It seems strange to have to take a Dramamine just to prepare a Seminary lesson. Ah well, the sacrifices that we make will build our character.

The Campfire

  It was good to be back with our early seminary group and after we finished we spent today putting away the many items we brought back from Sydney, hooking up electronics and hanging things on the walls.

Wonderful Kate MacDonald invited us to dinner, Pad-Thai noodles.  I have never had these before and enjoyed them. I made brownies and we took vanilla ice cream.  Her husband is out of town doing army maneuvers so I felt badly having her work extra for us without any help.  She had the elders there as well which is always a wonderful experience.  Elder Yang is so sweet but so bewildered with the language.  We will start working with him in conversational English this week we hope.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

After Seminary, we had planned on driving to Maitland to attend Zone Conference tomorrow but discovered it is a four and a half hour drive so we called President Checketts and received permission to skip it this time.  We are tired of long drives right now and the weather continues to be rainy and cold.

We did a quick grocery shopping and were happy to get home and settle in for the evening.  We plan on recovering and re-energizing this week and after Elder Berger attends branch presidency meeting tomorrow where questions can be answered, we will be able to plan for next week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I printed sharing time ideas from Sugar Doodle which were wonderful helps, after seminary, then in rain and cold went to the salon to have my hair cut.  Tonight Elder Berger had branch presidency meeting and I worked on my lesson for tomorrow's Seminary class and ideas we picked up in Sydney on how to present English to Elder Yang.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Today was my turn to teach in Seminary - David fleeing from Saul, fighting the Amalekites, marrying Abigail, etc.  After, we printed up some materials to help with Elder Yong's English training.

Sister MacDonald has been alone with her four children for over a week so we asked her if she would like us to watch her children while she had a couple of hours to herself and she immediately responded with "Yes".  We went to her house at 10:00 a.m. while she did some grocery shopping.  I remember well how wonderful it was to have a few hours without being constantly interrupted.  When I hear women say, "Now what was I saying, I lost my train of thought", I think, "there is a mother who never had the opportunity to finish a thought and never got from A to Z with anything unless interrupted many times".  We enjoyed Toby and Tessa.  The two older children were in school.  Many of the words spoken with an Australian accent are fun to us but spoken by a child they are absolutely endearing.

After, we picked up a rotisserie chicken and I made coconut rice and salad to serve the elders, along with the bread I baked yesterday.  We enjoyed having them join us for lunch and spent a half hour working on Elder Yong's English.  He is sweet and humble and really will be able to be a better missionary when he is able to speak more English.

Tessa MacDonald

Toby and me playing in the kitchen of the MacDonald home.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I exchanged 70 degree weather and walking around the Sydney Temple to 45 degree weather and walking around the Catholic cathedral.  I am so thankful that I can still enjoy my daily walk.  In seminary today our new member, Jo, asked us about why the church had a Relief Society and did not men do service and relief work in the church?  It opened up an interesting conversation.  We brought her a 16x20 picture of Christ, the one in the red robe by Del Parson, from the distribution center in Sydney which she really loved.  She noticed the blue eyes in the painting and I explained that Joseph Smith was to have said the Savior had blue eyes.  Later, she emailed me an excited note about scientific articles discussing the genetic components in the people of the middle east, particularly the Jews and that many of them had blue eyes and red hair or blue eyes and dark hair.  She said she accepted what I told her on faith but it was wonderful to find scientific evidence supporting it.

We visited a sister in the branch who has had a very hard life and left her husband of 30 years and returned here after previously living here and then moving away.  She is very poor and bitter toward her ex-husband.  We had an enjoyable time listening to her and trying to lend some positive thoughts to her life.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

We visited the Styles in Uralla today.  He has alzheimers.  They were sealed in the temple only two years ago and then received the news about his condition.  She is a lovely lady and attends church as often as possible, depending on how he is doing on that day.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

President Thacker, first counselor in the mission presidency, attended and spoke today.  After Sacrament meeting, while setting up chairs for Gospel Doctrine, one of the elderly sisters tripped over a bag and fell to the floor.  After 45 minutes and the emergency medical people checking her, she was finally able to limp tot he car where one of the members drove her home.  We were only able to have about a 15 minute gospel doctrine lesson from Elder Berger.

We took President Thacker home for a quick lunch and then he traveled with us to Inverell for our monthly Sacrament meeting.  He is very interesting and we enjoyed our conversation with him.  The Malini family, as usual welcomed us warmly.  There was a wonderful spirit there.  Each time we go there, I try to learn a little more about Mr. Malini's Muslim faith.  

Brother Jeremy Hoffman teaching Primary in the Armidale Branch.

Elder Yang, President Sully, and Brother and Sister Malini.

The Malini's and us at Sacrament Meeting in Inverell at their home.

Me, Elder Kelley, Rishaad, Sister Jackman, Kristin Smith, President Thacker, and Michelle Ali.

Sunday June 19, 2016
Monday, June 13-18, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

We are going to have to lump this week into one message.  We learned in the MTC that Elder Berger's cousin, Carol Butler, had a son coming to the same mission as us.  We met him in the Sydney office.  He frequently comes to the office with the other Mandarin Chinese speaking missionaries for the Chinese to have English class.  We were able to snap a picture of him today. Meeting Elder Butler was a great blessing to me. We were able to talk about his family and I was able to share some stories with him of his Grandma and her sisters, his great grandparents and their siblings, and about his great great grandpa, James Lawrence Healy who was my grandpa. Most were stories that he had not been told and it was fun for me to relive those times.  

Us with our replacement couple, the Cox's.

Elder Butler, me, and Sister Berger.

Elder Butler, me, Sister Berger, Sister Shen, Sister Money, and Elder Tsai.

Sister Watts spent some time helping to cut out the figures for the Plan of Salvation kits.  She was having a few struggles and we enjoyed talking to her, a very sweet missionary. We found that she is from the Holliday area of the Salt Lake valley.

Walking from our flat to the office one dark evening to practice the piano, I stubbed my toe and fell flat on my face, bruising both knees, both hands and my thumb.  I sat there with as prayer on my lips as I am no spring chicken and was worried about having broken something.  Thankfully, I am recovering and only my thumb still shows the bruising that at one time was quite spectacular.

So this week was full of trying to pass all the information we have been trained to do and have been doing for approximately the last three months into the hands of Elder and Sister Cox. I have always thought training was taxing as you still have to keep the current needs of the job going and at the same time try to teach.  Sister Cox wanted to take very, very detailed notes which is no surprise but did slow the process down. Training Elder Cox was much easier. He had been an accountant before their mission and I had created a file with step by step instructions on how to accomplish 90% of all of the things my job required. The other 10% are things that rarely happen and maybe have never happened that we need to handle in our calling. He will need to figure that part out on his own. 

The Leister's bought Custard pie and Lemingtons (Australia desserts) and had a goodbye party with us after work one evening.  Elder and Sister Black asked us to dinner to say goodbye Friday evening. They have been great friends to us and taken us to see wonderful things in Sydney.  We will miss them.

Friday we spent much of the day cleaning the flat and packing.  Our car packed to capacity but Sister Berger could have found more to take if I could have found the room. We looked like the Joad's, moving from Oklahoma to California in the 1930's (if you don't get the reference, watch "The Grapes of Wrath" sometime soon).  Saturday we managed to finish up the final packing and leave for Armidale at 9:00 in the morning.  We traveled to Cessnock and dropped off a new phone to the sister missionaries there and arrived to a rainy Armidale about 5:00 pm.

Sunday we went to church and Elder Berger taught Gospel Doctrine and I did sharing time in Primary and played the organ in Sacrament meeting.  Sister Clarkson had us over for tea - sausages - something Australians really like.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Monday, June 6-Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.
Sorry that we are late posting this week, we are training the great new office couple and have been very busy. Please cut us some slack, I am posting without my usual editing. You may see misspelled words and duplicate pictures. 

After work we joined the other senior missionary couples, and took the train downtown to see Vivid. During June the businesses put on light shows on the outside of their buildings which they call Vivid. They are beautiful.  We enjoyed each other's company and had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant in downtown Sydney.  We will miss our association with these wonderful people.  On the train ride to the event, one of the sisters said to me, "It really is a sacrifice to leave my grandchildren behind and miss their growing up."  She said only the fact that she loved her Savior so much was she here and I agreed 100%.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It is hard to prepare to train someone when you are so very busy doing the job you need to train them on and still learning yourself.  Tomorrow our replacements arrive as well as two new missionaries that I have prepared arrival folders for.  We are hearing that it is pretty cold in Armidale, frost on the ground in the mornings.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Cox couple are sweet people in the seventies, eager to serve, happy to be here.  The house that is on the complex for them is a wonderful place to reside.  It has two floors, a huge dining room and living room and even a piano.  There is a lovely garden spot outside and every reason to feel very much at home.  However, in the job that I have been doing, there is little time at home other than to eat and go to bed except on the weekends.

As we have had opportunities to spend more time with the missionaries we have grown to love and enjoy them and it will sad to lose that association.  They love to come in and see what I am working on and quiz me on who the new arrivals are and when they will be here.  News of other missionaries is something they seldom have and are excited to hear.

We had a lovely surprise when Elder Berger's phone rang and it was the MacDonald family from Armidale in Sydney for a little vacation and they wanted to see us.  They were at the temple grounds which is very close to us so we had them come over to the office and spent about twenty minutes with them.  Tessa brought me a flower she had picked on her walk from the temple and Toby, following her example, handed me a green branch he had picked from one of the bushes.  They are such a wonderful family and Elder Berger commented after that all of the children seem very happy.

Thursday and Friday

I am really surprised at the constant flow of questions, needs and responsibilities we have.  In a conversation with the secretary of the Sydney South mission, she said she had never worked harder and would agree.

President Checketts with his pork-pie hat

We love President Checketts, He is a very special person and is perfect for his calling.

Elder Leister, fleet secretary, which means he handles cars and flats.

Elder Mackey, he and his wife are self reliance missionaries

Elder and Sister Asplund, Seminary and Institute missionaries.  This is their fourth mission and they said they are ready to hang up their hats so to speak.

President and Sister Checketts and Elder and Sister Mackey at the restaurant

The Vida  restaurant where we ate

Sister Dinger and Sister Ellis

Waiting for the train.

Lots of foot traffic at Vivid

These images are projected onto the buildings.

And on the roof of The Opera house.

The Opera House which changed colors and patterns all night long

Waiting for the train back to our flat

Sydney at night.

Leisters and Dingers.  Elder Dinger has a direction app and was thrilled to keep track of the train schedules

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Two of the sisters lost their support cards and the replacements arrived yesterday so Elder Berger and I ventured out on our own for the first time to take the train to downtown Sydney.  We had the sisters take us on a tour of the Singles Ward building which is inside a business building but very nice.  We walked to Paddy's Market which is like a huge, three floor garage sale.  One booth was closing out everything and some of the clothing was $5.00.  However, she would not allow anyone to try anything on.

One of the longest escalators we have been on, taking us down into the bowels of the earth to board our train for Sydney.

Paddy's Market

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Today we again attended the Oakhurst ward in Hebersham.  They are a strong group of mostly Samoans and Tongans.  Because there are four wards meeting here, as I previously  mentioned the Relief Society and Priesthood meet at opposite ends of the cultural hall and it is quite noisy but Relief Society still has a lace tablecloth!