"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, December 4, 2016
Monday, November 28, 2016

Skyping and prep day.  We skipped the home evenining we normally teach as they have lice there today. Also, I do not feel very well. Normally, we love to have a FHE with these members because it seems to help them feel loved and that they are important to us and to their Father in Heaven.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sister Tan, recently reactivated, asked if she could come to Seminary too and of course we welcomed her. An interesting coincidence is that everyone in our class except Kristen Smith, our official teenage student, was born in the same year including Sister Berger and myself.  Today we talked about Mormon 8 and the characteristics of the church and society in the time prior to the millenium.  I used Bonnie Oscarson's conference talk from October on women rising up.  Both sisters commented that they had gone inactive because of the clique type atmosphere in the branch and that they didn't feel like anyone cared about them.  We talked about what we as women can do to avoid having that happen in the future.  It was a good class.

On the Rockvale Road with another beautiful sky.  We found another old, deserted church.  In a way these abandoned churches also illustrate an abandoment of faith in this country.

The old Church on the Rockvale Road.

When we arrived back at our flat there was a surprise package from Erica, a lovely Christmas feast. the Pepperidge Farm chocolate mint cookie presented a wonderful taste to my palate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Today we travelled to Uralla to do home teaching with the Styles Family.  Brother Styles suffered an anuerysm years ago and then mild Alzheimers set in but he is sweet and happy to see us.  The Styles have a son who is a gunsmith so  Elder Berger drove to his house to see what he has in the gun line and Sister Styles and I had a good visit.  She and her husband are the only members, their five children are not.  She loves to paint and one of her paintings is of the beach in Coffs Harbor where we stayed during District Conference in October. I recognized it immediately and  I really like the picture. The Styles' son, Adrian Styles, lives just around the corner from his parents. I got to spend a couple of hours talking about my hobby with him. He has a very nice gun collection and the time just flew by. Though he is not LDS (yet), he does respect his parents beliefs and their strong love for the family. 

Above is a photo of a similar beach at Coffs Harbour.

Sister Styles with her paintings.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Catholic cathedral grounds and our Coleman Court grounds are maintained by Al.  Each morning on my walk around the Cathedral block, I meet him coming to work and he always says, How you doing Da (short for darling).  I love his accent.  He is a very nice gardner and has helped me with tools and when I have wanted some flowers, given me permission to cut some. We call him "Big hearted Al" after a philosophy professor that I had at the U of U.


Friday, December 2, 2016

New names appeared on our latest branch list so we headed for Warialda Rail. We met the sister in Warialda.  She said she and her entire family joined when she was fourteen and all of her children had been baptized but they had all given up on religion.  She said 5 of her children/grandchildren had died and she no longer believed in God.  I really felt like if she lived close to the branch and we were able to establish a friendships we could help her to see that bad things do not indicate that God does not love his children.  It was sad.

We found Frank Clyo Wheeler at his place, Mustang Ranch at Gum Flat.  He joined the church in America as a teen.  He and his wife were sealed in the temple.  At some point, he stopped being active and hasn't had another Mormon visit him in over 15 years. For some reason his records just recently showed up on our Branch list even though he has lived there for 15 years.  His wife passed away in 2001.  He was very interesting.  He has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering.  He was a pilot for the United States Government Drug Enforcement Agency for many years, searching for drug dealers from the Mexico border to Panama.  He is an inventor and has lots of patents.  He has books full of pictures and news articles telling about the various things he has done in his life, his inventions and so forth.  He said he still believed in the church.  The nearest place for him to attend church is our once a month Inverell sacrament meetings but I doubt he will attend without someone to encourage him and perhaps pick him up.  He is 78 years old and is quite well off financially. He said he would like us to return and visit hin again.

Warialda Rail and Warialda are two small communities on the extreme western edge of our area. These pictures, looking west, look into the Outback of Australia where the climate is extremely dry. You can see in the telephoto version what looks to be a couple of extinct volcanoes off on the horizon. Very few people livi in the Outback. It is a wild and wooley area.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

We are filled with emotion as our youngest grandchild, Olivia, started having seizures and has had , six total in the last 48 hours. She was hospitalized and put on anti-convulsive medication. We as a family are praying, putting her name on the temple roles and adding her to our Sabbath fasting.  Her ward is adding her to their fast this Sunday as well. It is so hard to be so far away from her and her parents at such a frightening time.  We are so thankful her wonderful Grandmother Barney is able to be with them and watch over the other two children.
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The Relief Society Christmas luncheon was this afternoon.  Sister Sully went to a great deal of work making it a nice event and she succeeded.  I think the sisters bonded in a closer way.

Sister Clarkson gave a recitation on "teach the children" the true meaning of Christmas and used this little tree has her prop.

Next toour plates were bonbons, no not chocolate, but wrapped boxes that make a noise when youo pull them apart and have little toys and paper hats inside.  Australians put them by their plates at Christmas lunch and don't start eating until they open them and put on their hats.

Left ro right: Sisters Fenton, Clarkson, Betts, Jackman, Tan, Sully and Ford  We do have some younger sisters but none were able to attend. These faithful sisters provide great strength to our little Branch here in Armidale. Sisters Betts and Tan are in our Seminary class.

Sister Betts with some lovely fruit and some lychee nuts which I had never tasted, not a big fan

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What a beautiful spirit attended our meetings.  The Dicksons, who attended our investigative Suday and haven't been active in many years, came back today and Brother Dickson bore his testimony. Another brother who has been hit andf miss in his attendance, bore his testimony.  Beautiful testimonies of the savior, repentance, forgiveness were expressed.

Elder Berger joined in our fast, as he is diabetic that is not something that he can easily do, but he wanted to be part of our fast for Olivia.  When we broke our fast, he cooked steaks and we enjoyed a nice meal.  The elders came over to touch base on who we are all working with in the branch and what is needed. They are great young men.  They were given a sack of ties which are old fashioned and very wide and they went on You Tube and watched a video on cutting down a wide tie which they said was simple and they have altered four of them so far.  Elder Mitchell wore one that had been done and it looked like a normal tie.

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