"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, July 31, 2016
Monday, July 25, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

Seminary and skyping.  We were able to visit the Urayani's.  They are such a wonderful couple who just received their son's visa so he could join them a month ago,  He has been with grandparents in the Philippines for over a year.  They lost their first son to Dengue fever when he was only two years old. They are both in University and working at a retirement home. He works graveyard shift and she works mornings. Life is difficult for them but they are trusting in the Lord and working hard to provide a good life for their family.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

After Seminary, we visited the elders at their flat.  President Checketts asked us to do a walk through inspection and tell the elders what additional cleaning needed to be done.  Elder Berger was asked to look for any repairs needed.  The flat has been rented by the church for the missionaries for nine years and we could see there had been several things neglected over the years.  It was amusing for me to see that they do not understand cleaning a stove, oven, refrigerator or bathtub.  Elder Kelly said that missionaries don't see the need to do heavy cleaning as they are usually transferred every six weeks to twelve weeks.
I think they are hoping I won't be asked to do an inspection again while they are here.

Afterwards, we worked with Elder Yang and his English.  We enjoyed a serious workout at choir, trying to get the piece in a better condition.  We work with the orchestra in two weeks.  It is a beautiful vocal score. The choir has reached the tipping point between learning the piece and perfecting the piece. We mostly know our parts and can finally work on diction and dynamic range. It is time to bring the emotion that the director feels into the piece. When that happens, it ceases to be tedious and becomes fun and exciting. If you haven't felt that in your life, join a choir. With the right music, it feels like the voice of the Almighty is flowing through the choir.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

After seminary we traveled to Walcha to look for a sister on our branch records and dsicovered she had moved.  We will look for her again another day.  Walcha is a town of approximately 2600 people and quite charming.  We met a lovely shop owner that sounded exactly like Robin Williams portraying Mrs. Doubtfire.  She migrated to Australia many years ago from Scotland.  She said she is often told she sounds like Mrs. Doubtfire.

Next to the welcome to Walcha sign we discovered a kangaroo that did not appear to be very concerned about our appearance.

Probably more like a pet, this marsupial was just feeding by the side of the road as we drove into town. Even when we disturbed him, he just hopped a little way and went back to feeding.

Kangaroo has had enough people watching - what a long tail!

Walcha had several of these Aboriginal wood carvings, life sized

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Seminary, District training meeting by phone and then we fed the elders fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and worked on Elder Yang's English.  

In the grocery store today, I spied something that I have not seen before, at least in an Australian grocery store. Right before my eyes was a package of grain fed beef steaks. They were beautifully marbled and would have been graded at least choice if not Prime in the U.S. We had to buy them even though they were $30.00 a kilo. That works out to about $10.00 a pound U.S. Not really too bad a price for steaks like these. Normally, all I can find is grass fed beef which is probably healthier but without the great flavor of a steak like this. We baked potatoes and cooked vegetables to go with our meal and for a while I felt like I was eating at the Celestial Restaurant.

Friday, Jyly 29, 2016

Today was Sister Betts' birthday so I made a cake and we took fruit and had a little celebration before we studied Josiah, the boy king ( one of my favorite bible stories). Sister Betts' seemed to really appreciate the remembering of her birthday and that made us all feel good.

After, we decided to take a ride and ended up at the Dorrigo Rain Forest information center and skywalk.  It was a wonderful day and the beauty of the rainforest is amazing. Dorrigo is a small town about midway between Armidale and the Pacific ocean on the very edge of what is called the tablelands. Right after you pass through Dorrigo the elevation quickly drops on your way to Coffs Harbour. We ahd fish and chips in a little Takeaway shop and I asked the cook what we should see in Dorrigo if we only had a couple of hours. She sent us to the Rainforest and the Skywalk. Lots of pictures follow.

This is Ebor Falls on the way to Dorrigo.

This is Sheila sitting on a tree that fascinated her. The Tree comes up and goes along the ground and then grows skyward at about a 45 degree angle.

The Dorrigo Rain Forest is on land once inhabited by one of the Aboriginal tribes and the visitor's center has beautiful mosaics created by tribe members decorating its walls.

An Aboriginal mural.

Another long mural depicting the natural history of Australia.

Heading to the end of the Skywalk.

This Fern is probably 30' across.

Views from the top of the Skywalk.

The sky is not as blue as Armidale due to the moisture blowing in from the coast. We are about 50 miles from the ocean at this point and about 100 miles from our flat.

The obligatory "I'll take your picture and then you take mine, OK?"

We now descend to the rainforest floor itself.

It is amazing that these scenes are not to be perceived from above.

The vine above Sheila goes up about 125".

A great big old tree and us.. If you think that I look like the camera wasn't focused and I look blurry, don't worry, Sister Berger says that it's just how I look. I know, I asked her.

Tangled vines were everywhere. The camera compensated for the low light and these photos make it seem much lighter than it really was. It was a cool day, probably about 50 degrees, so we did not see any snakes or lizards. We are mostly grateful for that.

An exhibit in the Visitors center. This poor little guy has to stand here forever. 

Elder Berger wanted to get on the road so we would get home before dark.  We saw 25 dead kangaroos on our way here and didn't want to risk increasing the number but this souvenir shop had so many things I want to purchase and take home for our kids that he promised me we would return. We barely made the weight limit on the way here. I can't wait until we get to try and pack all this stuff up in a year and a half. We will probably need to hire a freighter and sail home.

So much stuff to choose from.

The photo below is a close up of the picture above on the left. These are birds that we see often here.

The bird on the left is what they call a Magpie here and is ubiquitous in this part of Australia. The other 2 are called Major Mitchells Cockatoos. They are less common, but we see them regularly.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Our newest member and the investigator we taught with the elders, gave her first talk in Sacrament meeting.  She spoke on faith and did an outstanding job.  It is so wonderful seeing her faith increase and her excitement to involve herself completely in the gospel.

In Primary, my eight year old, smart, pretty and very truthful and outspoken Lucy asked me what the little bottle in my bag was.  I told her it was a facial product that was supposed to tighten skin and make lines and wrinkles less noticeable.  She said, "Not to be rude, but it isn't working."  I laughed and laughed and Elder Berger and I had another good laugh over it on the way home.

Elder Yang (one of the young Elders assigned to Armidale) is sick and they asked if we had anything he could use to feel better so after church we gave him Sudafedrine, orange juice, 1000 mg vitamin C packets, throat lozenges, an orange and chicken soup.  We think that this combination will either cure or kill. If he is really sick enough, it won't matter which.

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