Monday, December 26, 2011

Welcome to HASTINGS and to HAWKES BAY

We live in Hastings in a "flat" (apartment) with three other units. We have a tiny front yard, and the backyard is a parking area and lines to hang clothes. We have only met one neighbor, a Maori named Jonno, his partner Mahi, their son CJ, and a new 2-week old son they haven't named yet. Our flat has no heater, no air-conditioning, no screens on the windows, and one electrical outlet in every room except the bathroom where there are NO outlets. We do have two bedrooms (a queen bed in our room and twins in the other room for when missionaries need to stay over), one bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. Despite these humble circumstances (at least compared to what we are used to), our home here is considered very lovely, and we are comfortable and content. Neither our stove nor our oven worked the first three weeks we were here, but we could use a hotplate, a crockpot, and our toaster...or, if need be, we would go out to dinner! Going out to dinner is a challenge, too...the prices are exorbitant, the food really different, but at least there is no tipping in New Zealand. We have found out that we quite like Burger King and Domino's Pizza...see, we're just like the missionaries! We're not complaining, just commenting; every missionary needs to make adjustments to different ways of living, eating, and cultures...and we're loving it. Here are some pictures of our flat, and many, many Maoris live in far more humble circumstances.

Here's the front of our flat, living room on the left, master bedroom on the right.

See the signs for the intersection where we live...and Willowpark should sound very familiar to our family as one of our favorite places to visit in Logan. No wonder we feel right at home!

Backyard, our car, and clotheslines

...and our living room, complete with Christmas tree decorated in blue.

...and our kitchen with its tiny fridge...but plenty big enough for two of us.

ARRIVAL in New Zealand - 24 Nov 2011

The big day finally came, and we arrived in New Zealand on Thanksgiving Day (at least by USA reckoning). We were met at the airport by the Assistants to the President, Elders Lekias and Lemalu. Elder Lekias' is from Australia, and his parents are currently serving as the Mission President and wife in the New Zealand Auckland Mission. President & Sister Kezerian were at a zone conference but would arrive home later that evening. We went first to the mission office and met Elder & Sister Brazzeal (St. George), the office couple, along with the office elders (Lott and Bonifay-Jenkins). We were then taken to the mission home, where we would spend the next two nights in the General Authorities suite! It was raining in Auckland when we landed there, but after our one-hour flight to Wellington, the skies were blue, and we enjoyed beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery our few days there. On Saturday we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with most of the senior couples at the mission home before we were bid "goodbye" and sent on our 5-hr drive to our assigned flat in Hastings, NZ. Elder Farnes had had one driving lesson in our 2010 Toyota Yaris, and we were both scared to death to head out on our own on the other side of the road...but it turned out to be a good experience. We built up some confidence and saw some beautiful countryside on our trip. We arrived in Hastings about 9:00 pm and were met by our sweet landlord, Sister Rose Edwards, who is also the stake Relief Society President, mother-in-law of our bishop, and wife to the 2nd counselor in the Stake Presidency. She had really gone more than the extra mile to make our flat comfortable, attractive, and stocked with many of the things we would need.

Elders Lekias & Lemalu
Assistants to the President with "newbies" Elder & Sister Farnes
Mission Home in Wellington with "our" Toyota parked out front.
Back of mission home shows it's a lot bigger than it looks from the front. The upstairs has a dormitory that can hold about 12-14 incoming elders, a room for 2-4 sisters, the Kezerians quarters, and offices for both of them. Downstairs had "our" suite, large living room, large dining rooms (2), large kitchen, and large family room, plus a big garage. They host a lot of incoming missionaries there, as well as visiting authorities.

President & Sister Kezerian with the"newbies" in their gorgeous backyard.
One of the breathtaking views of the coast in Wellington. Wellington is quite hilly, and it is also a very windy city. We loved the tours both Pres. Kezerian and Elder Brazzeal gave us, but we were happy that we didn't have to drive there (except for Elder Farnes driving lesson).