Saturday, May 12, 2012


What a great week we have had, one which will stay in our memories forever.  We drove to Hamilton on Tuesday, May 8, taking two of our dear friends from Bridge Pa with us:  Mary Reid, 83, and one of her daughters, Viola, who lives with her (pictures of them in previous blog entries).  It's a 4-hour drive, but beautiful scenery, and we enjoyed good weather most of the way.  When we arrived in Hamilton, we dropped Mary & Viola off at another daughter's home (Tootsie), checked into our hotel, and then went to lunch.  Much to our delight, we found a GOOD Mexican restaurant, Amigos, within walking distance of our hotel, and feasted on a dinner of fajitas.  The funny thing is that, in the USA, we are used to "pigging out" on chips and salsa prior to our dinner arriving.  Well, we were each served FOUR chips, along with a tablespoon of salsa to share...obviously, left us plenty hungry enough to enjoy our meal when it arrived.  After lunch we went and picked up Mary & Viola, so we could attend the 4:30 pm session at the Temple.

We did arrive before dark, though the days are getting a lot shorter now that winter is almost here, but I took these pictures after the session when we came out of the Temple.  Each stake in New Zealand has two weeks each year that are "theirs", and a good number of the faithful members spend the whole week up there.  This was both Hastings' and Flaxmere's weeks, and that's one of the reasons we so easily got permission from President Kezerian to attend.  And our experience was one of the highlights of our mission.  We knew almost everyone in the Temple and were greeted so warmly, as always.  We were asked to be the witness couple, and when we got to the celestial room, the tears were brimming over for both of us as we shared this incredible time with friends we have grown to love.

After a good night's sleep, we went to another session the next morning (May 9, my birthday!) at 10:00 am and again were asked to be the witness couple.  This time we enjoyed having 44 new missionaries from the Auckland Missionary Training Center join us.  We  also got to meet President and Sister Blake from the MTC and a new couple from Hamilton, Elder & Sister Hayward, who were leaving the Hamilton MTC the next day to join us in the New Zealand Wellington Mission.  Hamilton is in the Auckland Mission, and that is why we needed special permission to travel there.  What a great way to celebrate being alive

This picture in the middle was taken during the summer by another missionary couple in our mission, but we really liked it, so added it here.
Here's the New Zealand Temple during daylight hours.  Across the street from it is a Visitors Center, and on another side of the Temple is the Church College, which is closed now to students, but is still functioning in some areas like Church History.  Being avid BYU fans, we were excited to see a building named after Bronco Mendenhall's grandfather...which, by the way, Bronco will be in New Zealand in June, and we will be attending a fireside he is giving in the Flaxmere Stake!
In the Visitors Center, there is a beautiful, large statue of Christ like we see in most of  our Visitors Centers around the world.

Across from the Wendell B. Mendenhall Library is the Church History Museum of New Zealand, and there we were given a fascinating tour by Rangi Parker, a lady who has been collecting pictures and other memorabilia about the Maoris, the missionaries, and the Church for years.  She is so knowledgable and can name every person in every picture.  There were lots of pictures of our good friend Mary Reid, when she was young, and also her husband (now deceased) who played for the All Blacks rugby team.  We also watched a video of the building of the Temple in New Zealand, an amazing story that once again brought us to tears.  As going-away presents, Sister Parker gave us three DVDs that are just priceless.  The first is a DVD of the Danny Kaye show back in 1966, where the Maoris first performed in the United States.  Mary Reid was part of this group, and they spent three months in the USA touring and performing.  The second DVD is one of President Monson visiting New Zealand in 2010, and the third is a compilation of Maori music and scenery put together by Sister Parker...all of them treasures we'll be anxious to share when we get home.  Elder Glen Rudd, a Seventy who also served here in New Zealand, had one of the first Book of Mormons translated into Maori that he decided should be in this museum, so it was given to Elder Dallin H. Oaks to deliver personally to Sister Parker.  Here is a picture of Sister Parker and then Elder Farnes holding that precious book.

Much as we hated to leave, we did need to get back into our mission area, so we drove back to Hastings after visiting the Church Museum.  I'll stick in a couple pictures of the scenery, though it's hard to capture their full beauty in pictures.  Everything is so green, and there are lots of lots of rolling hills, dotted with mostly sheep but also some cattle.  Other areas are thick with lots of bushes and wild ferns and beautiful rivers.

1 comment:

  1. What a great temple trip, sounds like you had a wonderful time. We attended stake conference this week-end. It was great, as usual. We think of you often and you are on our missionary prayer list.