"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 6, 2016
Monday, May 30, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue

We will be leaving Sydney to return to Armidale on June 18th and it seems close.  This week is Missionary transfer week, arrivals and departures.  The next week is mission leader conference when I will have map requests to fill and the Cox family will arrive for training.  It will be busy.

After work, we went to the Epping train station to pick up Sister Kareria-Coulson, who has been here temporarily until her visa arrived allowing her to go to her assigned mission in Oklahoma City.  We picked up something for her to eat and delivered her to President Checkett's home where they were having a leavers dinner for the missionaries who have reached their release date.  She is a sweet girl who is one of those without much family support.  We went home for a simple meal and happily fell into bed. I envy this sweet sister because in a few days she will have access to a real Oklahoma beef steak from a real grain fed steer. Enjoy good beef while you can, it is very hard to find down under.

Sister Coulson, in the middle of her two companions who accompanied her to the train station where we picked her up.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It has been cold for Sydney, 18-19 C - about 67 degrees F.  I guess it is the humidity that makes that seem so much colder than at home.  It was a hectic day.  Every transfer I have to create new library letters for those who have moved locations.  In order to email on a computer on preparation day, the missionaries have to have a signed letter from us with their new location and name in order to use the library computers.  Missionaries in this mission do not use the church computers.

I have also been printing, laminating and cutting out figures for new arrival missionary Plan of Salvation Kits.

This Plan of Salvation kit is one of six items that we include in a booklet for each new arrival that I am responsible to have ready.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

We had rain last night and rain on and off today.  Elder Berger drove to Newcastle to pick up a missionary car that was rear-ended and needs repair. I love to drive. It was a four hour round trip along the coastal areas and I got to see some beautiful scenery. I worked on laminating copies of passports and visas for the new arrivals today.  

We joined the new arrivals, seven elders, for lunch and then trained them on opal cards, cars, phones, mission rules, goals and all the other things within our area of responsibility.  The elders, suffering from jet lag, had a sweet and exhausted manner.

Elder Yang, a new arrival from Taiwan, has very limited English.  President Checketts assigned him to Armidale and asked us to meet with him weekly to help him with his English.  We are both excited to do that.  Maybe we could skype with our son, John, and he could help.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Today was once again full with new referrals, additional surprise arrivals for next week, shopping for warm blankets for the missionaries at Costco, emailing library letters so the transfer elders will be able to email home next Monday, and moving files to archived and current.

The mission feeds the new arrivals lunch and dinner for two days until they leave with their newly assigned companions and the president invites us to eat with them so it has been great to eat what the caterer provides; no thinking about a menu, no shopping, no cooking and no cleaning up. How great is that!

Friday, June 3, 2016

I have been reading the book of Acts and really enjoying it.  I am experiencing I guess a "friendly" experience as I read about the disciples and Paul struggling with doctrinal and ecclesiastical differences as they attempted to run the church.  It is similar to the experience of our day.  The Savior is in charge of His church but he allows we humans to handle as much on our own as possible, always watching, intervening only when necessary.

On the news today a reporter visited a butterfly zoo at Coffs Harbor.  He had a moth that was as big as his hand.  It was colorful, like a butterfly, and only lives two weeks and never eats.  I couldn't help but think how fragile that little insect was, how seemingly unimportant its existence and yet how beautiful the butterfly is and how much joy it provides to those who appreciate it.  There are so many indications like this to me, of a loving Heavenly Father who provided things of joy on this earth.

Saturday, June 5, 2016

Raining cats and dogs doesn't begin to describe the rain that has descended upon us.  I suppose a torrent of rain does it justice.  As Mission Leader Conference is next Tuesday when the zone leaders arrive and all of the districts send in requests for supplies to be picked up by them, I knew I could never be prepared so we went to the office for half a day.  I was happily able to get the packets put together for our 17 July departures that need to be picked up by zone leaders at Tuesday's MLC.  I am receiving map orders which take a long time for me and then the Cox couple, our replacements, will arrive Wednesday as well so Monday and Tuesday I will try to prepare.

After we finished at the office we went to Rashay's to try some Italian cuisine and were happily surprised to find it was customer appreciation day and there were four menu choices we could have for free.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

This morning we did a quick skype and then headed to the Winston Hills ward for church.  They recently divided the stake and added members to this ward and it is huge.  There are so many Relief Society sisters they won't fit in the Relief Society room so we met at one end of the cultural hall and the brethren met on the other end.  It was quite noisy. 

There are many challenges and heartaches in life, especially with  our children, but the ward and branch families are there to include, comfort and strengthen all who love the Lord and come under the umbrella of the church to find some shelter from the storms of life.  This following incident reminded me of that. In Sacrament meeting a mother, daughter and father entered.  The little girl had an adorable face much like her mother but where her mother had thick black hair, the little girl was wearing a ski hat.  She was about eight years old.  They sat in front of us and she took off her hat and it was obvious that she has had cancer treatment.  The mother was tenderly attentive throughout the meeting. 

A little boy at the other end of the row saw her and moved over to sit by her to show her what he had on his ipad.  

I really don't know why this picture taken immediately after the one above is so bright but I like it.

 A wonderful missionary board.  This huge ward has lots of missionaries.

 This cute brother latched on to Elder Berger the moment he saw him and acted like they were old friends saying he was sure he had met him before. He was a very nice man. He was an attorney and was somewhat verbose. He must charge by the hour.

 So adorable, dressed up for church with pink boots which I didn't get in the photo, makes me miss my grand children. I just saw a photo of Heidi's grandfather on facebook. They incorrectly identified the individual as Perry Neilsen. I think that I am right about this.

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