"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, January 29, 2017
Monday,January 23, 2017

Our what would be July in St. George, is rather lovely.  It is raining and temperatures have been in the upper 70's.  We are so thankful to have our comfortable little flat nestled among our many Catholic neighbors.

After skyping with our children I did some mending for our 93 year old next door neighbor and then indexed the huge binder of Primary class pictures, Gospel Art, to make it easier to find what teachers need.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

In Seminary today I taught a talk President Uchtdorf gave at a BYU devotional in 2003 titled "The Wind Beneath Your Wings".  We get to choose in life whether we scratch with the chickens in their pen, or fly with the eagles.  He talked quite a bit about the Wright Brothers which I told them, Sheila 1:verse 1's opinion, flight was an inspired gift to man in order to further the speed and ability to dfo missionary work throughout the world.

Elder Berger has had a toothache for a week so today we returned to the dentist he visited once before.  They have a couple of humorous pictures on their wall, I guess to encourage proper dental care.  We have seen quite a few here with missing teeth.  Elder Berger needs a root canal.

Dr Anubhav Verma, his assistant, and yours truly before the work started. I didn't feel up to an "after" picture. He is an excellent dentist, however.

These guys have not been to the dentist lately. No teeth = no dentist.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

We had a downpour today.  It is interesting here as there are very, very few sprinkler systems.  The area depends on Mother Nature for water.  Most lawns are pretty stressed looking but after a rain like we have had over the past couple of days, they green up quite nicely.

Thursday,  January 26, 2017

In Seminary Elder Berger played a talk by S. Michael Wilcox about the Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1.  In his comments he mentioned that sometimes we don't get an answer when we think we should and why is that.  He said in his experience it is because in teaching us, the Lord needs a pocket in us to put the further light and knowledge and sometimes we have not yet created that pocket in us for him to use.  I really liked that idea.  I guess it would be like trying to explain Einstein's theory of relativity to a child who had never heard of science.  Certain steps and evolution in our spiritual learning processes are needed. 

Today is Australia Day.  It celebrates the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, NSW and the raising of the  Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.  President Sully needed Elder Berger to assist him with some branch business in Inverell so after Seminary and District Training meeting by phone, Elder Berger left for Inverell and Is stayed behind to work on next I forgot it was Australia Day and left the flat to do a little shopping for Primary and was greeted within a few minutes with a downpour of rain.  I wasted my time because the stores were closed for Australia Day.  Here is my first selfie.

Tonight we joined the Smiths who invited us to eat bogan 'Straya Day' dinner with them in celebration of Australia Day.  Some of the traditional bogun  (which translated is "red-neck" to us), foods he made for us were:  oysters, Chiko Rolls, pie'n peas, mushed peas, (cooked frozen peas, blended with cream and flavorings which goes on the meat pie)prawns (hard for me to eat something with eyes)and lamb cutlets followed by lamingtons, Weis bars and Jaffas. candy which looked like orange m'ms with chocolate inside about the size of m&m almonds, and tasted like American sixlets candy,  and Australian mango soda.
Image may contain: indoor

We had a lovely time and ate until we were as full as a doctor's wallet (an expression common here for very full). 

The young Elders, Sheila, and the Smiths

Friday, January 27, 2017

Our friends, the Pierces, are leaving for home February 1 so we met them again in Gunnedah for lunch.  We have really enjoyed them and hope we can keep in touch once we are all back in the U.S.

The ubiquitous tennis courts of Australia are visible here but I never see anyone actually playing tennis on any of them. I am surprised, tennis must have been more popular when all of these courts were built.

Our last lunch with the Pierces before they return home was at a hotel restaurant that had a bar inside of it. We had to order our lunch at the bar. Don't tell President.

Sunday, January 22, 2017
Monday, January 16, 2017

Skyping with our children and then a phone call from the elders, "We've locked our keys in our flat".  We spent some time with them working on the best way to get inside.  As breaking in proved impossible without damage, we contacted the mission office in Sydney and obtained the landlord phone number.  All turned out well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Early this morning Elder Berger joined the elders and Brother Clarkson to do service for the Dicksons who have acreage nearby and needed help clearing some land of branches, etc.  Sister Dickson is on dialysis twice a week and Brother Dickson has health problems as well.

Branch presidency PEC meeting tonight for Elder Berger.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Seminary discussion on keeping our reservoirs of faith full to withstand the challenges of our day.  We had a good lesson.

After, we took a walk downtown and had a poster of a CTR shield for this year's sharing time theme blown up and laminated.  I really miss all of the easily available office helps that I used at home, i.e. color copier, laminating machines, UPS stores.  Those kinds of services here are rather expensive.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our Primary Valiant, Joshua Smith, left us today and was ordained a deacon.  Here he is with his proud father.  We now have a DEACON to pass the sacrament, haven't had one for a long time we am told.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, suit and indoor

Sunday January 15, 2017
Monday, January 8, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

President Checketts asked us to help Elder Hut'ka with his English so the elders joined us at 3:00 today and we did our best.  They are such motivated and sweet elders.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Seminary this morning, with the theme a speech by Elder Russell M. Nelson to the youth of the Church, "the Millennial Generation" which had wonderful advice for any age group in the church and taught me about how similar the process is for the Brethren to gain inspiration and for we individuals in the church to receive personal revelation.

After, we had some errands to complete and then traveled to Ben Lomond to spend the afternoon and evening with Frank and Narelle Benesch.  Elder Berger went with Frank to visit members far away and Narelle and I window shopped in Glen Innes and prepared the evening meal along with feeding the chickens and ducks their daily treat of bread crumbs.  We took an appropriate movie and watched it after "tea", dinner during which an impressive lightning and rain storm leant quite an atmosphere to the movie.

This is the Glenn Innes Town Hall. It looks like it could be in Disneyland.

Sister Narelle Benesch in her kitchen. 

Benesch's Christmas decor that will shortly be put away for another year.

Frank Benesch and an inactive member named Frank Wheeler reading from the Book of Mormon.

Frank Wheeler's tepee that he built in his back yard. He is an interesting person.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This morning we were asked to travel to Sister Styles home to administer to her husband.  He is suffering with cancer and other issues. We took the elders with us.  It was a lovely experience, they are sweet people.

Brother Styles (middle) with his brothers. 

This afternoon was Priesthood Preview for Joshua Smith, turning 12 next week.  We were able to have his nonmember mother attend which was wonderful.  Those involved in his Primary life and the new Young Men's President attended.  We had brownies and ice cream for refreshments.

 Putting on the armour of God with Joshua's face Ephesians 6:11-17

Gift for Josh Smith to remind him of the Priesthood that he will shortly receive.

Josh's Priesthood Preview.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Brother Jeremy Hoffman, Josh's primary teacher the last four years

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Today was the continuation of what has been a rather hectic few days.  I taught CTR and then singing in sharing time. Brother Hoffman taught his last primary class and will move on to teach the teens in Sunday School.  Elder Berger taught his class and then we travelled to Tamworth to meet the Leisters and exchange our missionary car which has reached its limit of miles to exchange for a new one.  It is an hour and a half drive one way.  

Brother Hoffman and Primary

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Monday, January 2, 2017

Yesterday a high of 90 degrees F and today a high of 72 degrees F.  The climate here is quite refreshing as intense heat is sprinkled admidst cool temperatures.  I really like that asw compared to day after summer day in St. George with very hot temperatures.  It rained pretty hard today.  We enjoyed skyping with our children and preparing for the week.

Tuesday, January 3, 2016

In Seminary today Elder Berger showed a BYU Education week talk by Brad Wilcox on grace.  After, Sister Tan said how much she had needed that talk.  She said she gets so lonely and fights feeling a lack of belonging in the brach.  She said a week between Sunday, with no socialization with members was a struggle and sometimes she just wanted to back away.  Sister Betz agreed.  There is so much need in these little branches so far away from the major population of the church.  It is hard not to think they should all move closer to the bigger areas.  Some days I wonder if a skyping/conference call association will be needed.

After Seminary, I worked with Elder Hut'ka on improving his English.  After that we did a quick groery shopping, I did my morning walk, and started preparation for Seminary on Thursday and sharing time.

Elder Bell on the left, Elder Hutka on the right.  Elder Hutka is holding our study book and a children's book on Australia we are having him read.

Muy one and only attempt at growing tomatoes.  I have never had a tomato plant grow so tall

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Today we and the elders travelled to Sister Chamber's home so the elders could teach Sister Chamber's daughter, Una.  She is 26 years old with a six year old daughter who is depressed and questioning her beliefs in the church.  They are from Tonga.  They live in the midst of fruit orchards and sell fruit when they have it.

Angie, Una's six year old daughter

We always visit on the front porch which has a lovely breeze and beautiful scenery.

 Sister Chambers and Una

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We drove to President Sully's farm to do home teaching.  President Sully let Elder Berger shoot some kangaroos which are considered a varmint, doing harm to their crops. To alter a phrase borrowed from Oliver Cowdrey, "this was a day not to be forgotten". President Sully did me the great favor of inviting me to accompany him on a drive around his massive farm. The day was perfect, cool and just a little bit of a breeze. We talked about the gospel and how it benefits everyone, even non-belivers. He told me of his concerns for some of the members in our little branch and how much he loves them. As his counselor, I feel inadequate to give advice, but he wanted to know what I thought. President Sully is a great man and it is my privilege to know and serve with him. We spent 2-3 hours culling kangaroos and rabbits from his property. He is required to keep these pests under control and if he doesn't want to do it himself there are professionals that he can hire. I was thrilled to help him with this responsibility. I am an enthusiastic firearms collector and shooter at home but, as you may know, chances to handle firearms are rare while serving a mission. We were very careful and all kills were one shot instant kills. We used a Browning model 81 BLR in .243 Winchester caliber with 85 grain bullets. This round was extremely effective for this task. President Sully is an avid handloader like me and he is good at it. I hope to get the opportunity to do this again before our mission is over here. We had dinner with them after we home taught and enjoyed a wonderful conversation.

The Sully farm is so beautiful and peaceful.  We always enjoy our time there

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fast and Testimony meeting today. Our branch is so blessed with such a strong spirit in these meetings. One sweet sister, who has been excommunicated once and struggled is doing so well and bore a wonderful testimony today.  We had 38 people attend which was a good turnout for our branch. 

In Primary Sharing Time I used a talk give by President Uchtdorf at a BYU devotional.  He talked about airplanes and choices.  He likened an airplane's lift, power and control to choices.  Our theme this year is Choose the Right so it fit very well. We talked about the Wright brothers and the 747 and how flight is a blessing to spreading the gospel. At the end I gave each child a colored paper plane and we went outside and flew them.  It went over well I think.  Elder Berger taught both Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School and then"Success in School begins at Home" during a combined Relief Society /Priesthood meeting.

Beef stew cooked all morning in the crockpot, salad and baking powder biscuits ended the fast.  This experience is a wonderful thing.