If you received an email from us telling about our MSN/Hotmail email account being hacked and giving you our new email address, you can ignore this entry. However, if you did not get an email telling you about the new email account that we have set up, that means we no longer have your email address. We lost most of our addresses, along with all your emails that we were still hoping to answer, and it's not looking promising to ever be able to get to that account again. So, if you'd like to stay in touch with us (and us with you), please email your current email address to us at our new email:
We're sorry if any of your email sites were hacked because of us, but that's one of those things we didn't know was happening until it was too late. Computers can be wonderful, but they can also fray the nerves.
As you know, the Maori people have become very dear to us, and we have made so many new friends here in New Zealand. We've also been able to learn a few words in the Maori language and have discovered that there is no "F" in the Maori alphabet. So, with the approval of our Mission President, we ordered new badges to reflect our being adopted into the Maori families here. Below is a picture of our new badges...in the Maori language, "Wh" is pronounced like "F".
Somehow got this very significant event out of order, but I want to tell you about the marvelous time we had in Hawkes Bay when we were visited by Bronco Mendenhall, BYU head football coach. We've been looking forward to his visit for months and were not disappointed! The BIG day for the Bronco Mendenhall fireside in Flaxmere was Tuesday, 5 June 2012, and the chapel was packed. Bronco was accompanied by his mother and father, who were a delightful addition to the evening. Bronco's parents live in Alpine, where his father, Paul Mendenhall, serves as a stake patriarch. Bronco's father also served a full-time mission in New Zealand from 1951-1953 and then returned in 1999 with his wife, Lenore, to serve for 3 years as the Auckland Mission President. Bronco's grandparents, his parents, his uncle, and his brother have all served in New Zealand, but this trip was Bronco's first to New Zealand.
Bronco's grandfather was Wendell B. Mendenhall, who served as a young missionary in NZ from 1927-1930 and later became chairman of the Church Building Committee and of the Church Board of Education. He oversaw many building projects in the USA and throughout the South Pacific. Wendell Mendenhall is considered the "father" of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii and is equally remembered in NZ for his role in helping select the site for the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and supervising the construction of the temple and the adjacent Church College of New Zealand. The library at the church college is named after him and is still in use, although the school is presently closed, and plans are not definite yet as to what the land and buildings will be used for in the future.
We were privileged to hear from both of Bronco's parents. His mother also comes from a strong church background. Her father was John Henry Vandenberg, 9th Presiding Bishop of the Church from 1961-1972. He also served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Bronco was an amazing speaker, who had the rapt attention of everyone in attendance, especially the youth. He talked about the values and standards he has for the BYU football team and brought with him a large white flag with a blue "Y" on it, which is carried onto the field during BYU home games. He invited everyone who was willing to stand for the values we hold dear to sign this flag, which would be waved and carried in front of the 60,000+ plus fans who come to Lavell Edwards Stadium to watch the Cougars play. Of course, Elder Farnes and I added our signatures.
After the fireside, Elder Farnes and I were invited to join with a few dignitaries in having a small supper with Bronco in the high council room, and that was a real treat. There were only about 10 of us there, so we were able to visit with the Mendenhalls on a one-on-one basis. Elder Farnes got to spend about 15 minutes talking with Bronco. Naturally, we got pictures of this great evening.
And then to our surprise, we found out that Bronco was speaking to us again the next morning at a missionaries-only meeting, which was attended by the 18 missionaries in our zone. What a great experience! Bronco talked about what it takes to have a perfect missionary day, and we could sure picture that he'd make a great mission president in the future.
(L-R) Bro. Selwyn Jones, good friend of Mendenhalls, responsible for getting them here, Patriarch Mendenhall, Bronco, and NZ basketball star, Paul Winitana (captain of his team and called the "bishop" because he refuses to play basketball on Sunday)
Yesterday, Saturday, 23 June 2012, we were invited to a special program at a marae in Korongata (Bridge Pa). The occasion was a visit from President and Sister Bleak (pronounced "Blake" but is the Irish spelling of that name), who is the New Zealand MTC President. Along with them were one of his counselors, President Armitage, and his wife, who is a Maori from Bridge Pa. The NZ MTC is closed for three weeks for cleaning, etc., so they have some free time to do a little traveling and wanted to come to the Maori origins of the LDS Church in New Zealand, which are both in our area: Bridge Pa and Te Hauke.
This turned out to be one of the most incredible memories we will have in New Zealand, turning into a very tender experience as the Maori people here shared their traditions and their hearts with us. When you've never been on a particular marae (and they're all over the country but run by different tribes), you must first be welcomed onto the marae with quite a formal ceremony (a Powhiri, "poh-fir-ee"). We, along with the Bleaks and the Armitages, were those being welcomed. We were led in by someone who could speak Maori...and greeted by chanting done by senior members of the tribe. This is shown below.
This is President and Sister Bleak. Prior to being the NZ MTC President, he was Mission President in the Marshall Islands. Sister Bleak is President Gordon B. Hinckley's niece.
Here is President and Sister Armitage. Behind them is the lady, Agnes Nuku, who led us onto the marae and chanted in Maori who we all were (the response is called the Karanga). This particular marae is on land donated by the Reid family and is called the Mangaroa Marae (on Ruakawa Road). There is an older marae in Bridge Pa, too, called the Te Aranga Marae (on Maraekakaho Road). We have been welcomed on both of them now.
Not the best picture, but these are the ladies chanting and motioning us onto the marae. Women almost always do the welcoming, and the men do the speeches after we go inside. Once we were in the marae, those who belong to the marae are seated on one side, and we were seated on the opposite side (men on the front row, women in the back). Then two different men gave welcoming speeches, which were all in Maori, not a word of English, but they were just incredible, and we could feel their sincere love and respect for us. One of them was an LDS bishop, Bishop Jerry Edwards; the other man the Mission Leader of the Hastings 2nd Ward (our master carver, Taka Walker). Their messages were so touching that all I could do was cry. Then the spokesman on "our" side spoke in Maori, too, thanking them for their hospitality and promising continued friendship from us. When the speeches were over, we shook hands and "rubbed noses" and are now considered "part of the family", which is tangata whenua, meaning "we belong". From this day on, all of our family are welcome on this marae and treated like family. When the Maoris greet each other, they don't really rub noses; they press their foreheads and noses together for a brief moment, sharing in the same air, which then makes them kindreds. It is not uncomfortable at all and, actually, is quite meaningful.
Following the welcoming ceremony, we were invited for snacks over in the dining hall...and when Maoris serve snacks, they always serve a feast. These people live so simply and have so few material goods, but they love to share what they have...they're the most generous people we have ever met anywhere. I wish I had taken a picture of the huge table filled with all kinds of food.
While we were eating, we were also entertained by a choir of Maori singers, along with a wonderful man, Tommy Taurima, who shared with us the history of the LDS Church in New Zealand. During the years long ago, when Christianity was first brought to New Zealand, there were a lot of different churches coming here. The Maori people asked their chief which church they should join, and he said he would meditate about it. After several days, he told them that the true church had not yet come to New Zealand but when it did, their preachers would come in twos and teach them in their own language in their homes. When the LDS missionaries arrived, they were recognized almost immediately from the chief's description, and Maoris joined the church in droves. This dear narrator shed tears almost the whole time he was telling us about the church's history here; so, of course, I cried, too! Here's a few more pictures of those who entertained us.
Many of their songs have hand gestures; you can see that Sister Armitage joined the singers.
This was their very poetic spokesman and music director, Tommy Taurima, who had all of us enthralled. He also shared with us various Maori words and their meanings...they love rainbows and have six different words for "rainbow".
One of the singers is a good friend of ours, Poppy Maere, who everyone calls "Auntie". Her mother is our friend, "Mother Marae", who is 93 and still going strong...does a radio show on Fridays and works at a youth facility for troubled teens on Thursdays.
The young missionaries knew President Bleak was in town but were not allowed to come to the marae, so President Bleak was invited to a baptism in Napier that evening, which we also went to. All the young missionaries from any of the South Pacific Islands and New Zealand and Australia come to the Missionary Training Center in NZ, which is located in Auckland, so they were all quite excited to see President Bleak and his wife again. Here are some of the pictures we took last night after the baptism.
BACK ROW: Elder Levy (Samoa), Elder Aiono (Tonga), Pres. Bleak (Nevada), Elder Aumua (Samoa), Elder Heinricks, ZL (Alberta Canada) MIDDLE ROW: Sister Hemi (NZ), Elder & Sister Armitage, Sister Bleak, Elder Haiane (NZ), Elder Tamale (Tonga, now Hamilton NZ), and Elder Barnes (Farmington, UT). FRONT ROW: Elder Eneri (Kiribati), Elder Hunt (Samoa), Elder Wehipeihana (Hamilton NZ), and Sister Tito (New Zealand)
President & Sister Armitage, Sister & President Bleak, Sister & Elder Farnes, Sisters Tito & Hemi.
A few weeks ago, we happened to glance out our back window and saw the most gorgeous sunrise. I grabbed my camera, took a few snapshots through the window, and was surprised at how well they turned out. The building you see below the sunrise is the Greek Orthodox Church that is behind us...our "beacon" to find our way back to our flat when we first came here to Hastings.
Unfortunately, there are times at our small wards and branches in New Zealand that there is no one to play the organ, so Elder Farnes and I have decided to step up to the plate and share our musical talents. Fortunately for these good people here, we have digital organs, so all we have to do is find the hymns we want to play and press the button. We can even press a button to play an introduction, another button to change the tempo, and even another button to put the music into a lower key, so it's quite easy to appear rather talented. We just love these organs and are hoping to teach some of the members how to play them. I think most of the members think these are regular organs and are scared of them. These valuable tools need to be put to use.
Oh my, you're probably thinking I've really gone off the deep end now; but because of Clyde's interest in genealogy, we have spent a considerable amount of time visiting cemeteries in the United States. Therefore, it just came natural to us to stroll through cemeteries here in New Zealand, especially since many of the LDS churches are located next to or near cemeteries, plus all the towns have cemeteries.
The traditions here vary somewhat from what we usually see in the USA. Generally, the grave markers are put on the grave sites here one year following the death of the loved one. That is a very special day when family and friends gather again to tell stories and share memories about the person who has passed on. The graves are very, very respected here, and absolutely no one desecrates them, steals flowers, or takes mementos that are left at the grave.
Most of the families make use of whatever surface there is on the monument to leave messages, names of survivors, pictures, etc. They are so interesting that I wanted to share some of the pictures we have taken. As always, my husband and I feel a great sense of reverence in a cemetery for the feelings of people when they lose someone special to them; so I share these with you to show how various people express their losses.
This is the cemetery in Hastings, where there are several walls like this...each little box is for the cremated remains of loved ones. As you can see, some of them also have tiny vases, plaques, or messages on them.
Other cremated remains are either buried here OR taken somewhere else, but a rose bush is planted and a plaque put in place to honor the memory of the deceased.
This is a huge cemetery in Hastings that is quite old, and the headstones are very close together...it is almost full to capacity, so the city council is looking for a new site.
Now we're at the Maori cemetery in Bridge Pa, which is right behind the Korongata Ward Chapel. I know you can't read what's on the stone, but it is an example of the long messages left to this baby that had passed away.
Many of the grave stones leave no doubt that these were LDS people. Bridge Pa was one of the strongest LDS towns in all of New Zealand for years, but that has sadly declined, and we're doing our best to re-ignite their testimonies.
Starting with "Princess Bubbles" these four pictures are from the cemetery next to the Te Hauke Branch. You can see all the mementos here that are never disturbed.
This is the gravesite of the Branch President's wife, who died 5 years ago, and he continues to serve faithfully.
Another tribute to the loss of a young daughter.
The Maori culture expressed
This picture begins the cemetery next to the Omahu (Oh-mah-hoo) Chapel, which sadly, is only used once a month for the YSA (Young Single Adults). It's quite tiny, but it's also a lovely building that used to be a lot busier. The families all go to the Omahu Ward, which now meets in Napier.
Maori culture again
All Maori carvings are painted in the "Maori red".
Not uncommon to see banners and large pictures.
Recent death, some of the loved one's belongings will stay there undisturbed.
Many of the graves are quite close together.
And, lastly, the rest of these pictures are gravestones in another larger cemetery in Bridge Pa that we visited just today, Monday 4 June 2012.
Note the heading on this one: "Foreva 17"
Nickname says it all.
Much of the language seen is Maori or Samoan or Tongan.
Another Maori carving
Most common terms of endearment here are Mum, Auntie, and Nana.
This stone is for the husband of our dear friend in Bridge Pa, Mary Reid. We don't know what the S.T. stands for, but everyone called him Tori. He played rugby with the All Blacks and was much loved by everyone. He died 8 years ago, and people still talk about him a lot.
Another Temple couple...plus I loved the nickname "Gooch".
This lady was born on Christmas Day...then died on Christmas Day 38 years later.
Who was this little boy's hero?
And this man was a truck driver.
Have you ever seen this on the back on a gravestone?
This is the front of the "Whatever" gravestone, and there are several pictures of the man it memorializes.
This is a close-up of one of the pictures.
A tribute to an only son...very sad.
And, finally, I love the message found on this stone. It's so true!