"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.

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