Monday, August 27, 2012


On Thursday, 23 August 2012, we headed to Wellington for a two-night stay, so that we could participate in a training session from two visiting General Authorities:  Elder Craig C. Christensen from the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy (and his wife Debora) and Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the First Quorum of the Seventy (and his wife June).  They met with us in a chapel in Tawa just outside of Wellington and taught us for three hours.  All of the senior missionaries from the North Island were invited to attend, along with all the young missionaries from the Wellington and Hutt Valley zones.  It wasn't feasible to bring all the missionaries from both islands to the conference, but Elder Pearson will be back in November to tour the entire mission.  

One of the messages that impressed us most from Elder Christensen was that, when we take notes at a church meeting, to also record "impressions" in the margin that affect our lives from what we hear.  Those are the things the Spirit wants us to focus on...we need to listen and to heed those impressions.  It was amazing to watch those margins fill up!

Both Elder Christensen and Elder Pearson emphasized the urgency of our missionary work and that everyone who lives on the earth today was valiant in their first estate; therefore, they know the Gospel is true...our role is to help them receive that knowledge, and we can't be content with being average missionaries.   Only the Holy Ghost can unlock  that memory of truth for everyone because the Bible has promised in Romans 14:11, "As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."

At this wonderful conference, we heard from President & Sister Kezerian, Elder & Sister Christensen, and Elder & Sister Pearson.  It was like having our own General Conference, and no one wanted it to end.  Later that evening, all the senior missionaries gathered with these six amazing leaders and went to dinner at The Fisherman's Table in Wellington. That was a fun time, getting to know them personally and learning interesting facts about their lives and their Church service.  Here's some pictures we took to remember this occasion.
This is the group that were fortunate enough to attend the special conference, close to sixty of us, with a few chopped off on the sides (not my picture), but it didn't seem that anyone could get everyone in.

This isn't the greatest picture either, but in order L-R, are Elder & Sister Christensen, Elder & Sister Farnes, and Sister & Elder Pearson.
Here's the restaurant, "Fisherman's Table"

Going around the table clockwise, there's Sister Brazzeal (office), then Clyde and me, then the Christensens, then Elder & Sister Hirschi (Brigham City), can't really see the next four, but they are the Becksteads from Orem and the Shepherds from South Jordan. Lastly is Elder Brazzeal (office, St. George).  Elder & Sister Brazzeal finish up their mission 28 August 2012.  We hardly ever get to see other senior missionaries, so these rare opportunities to get together are cherished by all of us.  We enjoy getting to know each other and sharing the experiences we are all having as we serve.
Now the second table, clockwise:  Sister Freeman (new office couple); President & Sister Kezerian, Elder & Sister Pearson, Sister & Elder McVey (Family History missionaries from Denver); skip the next four (they're too hard to see).  The last three are Elder & Sister Overton (Family History from St. George), and Elder Freeman (new office couple also from St. George).
 Sister Debora Christensen & Elder Craig C. Christensen
Elder Kevin W. Pearson and Sister June Pearson

Almost forgot to mention that, after the morning conference, some generous members of the Tawa Stake fixed us a scrumptious lunch, so afterwards we sang a few songs to them.  One of the senior missionaries had brought along a song for we senior missionaries to sing.  If you haven't seen it, here are the words below, sung to the tune of "Called to Serve".

We the Seniors, who are getting older, left our canes and rocking chairs behind.
New responsibilities to shoulder, challenges of every kind.

Seniors make a difference in the world both here and now.
Seniors made a difference, and we're here to show you how.
For decades we have labored, and we've shed blood, sweat, and tears.
Youth of Zion, rise, pay homage to the wisdom of our years.

We the Seniors of a Royal Army called to serve in lands both far and near.
Leaving homes and all our friends and family and a comfort zone so dear.

CHORUS:           (words are from Sister Marilyn Kearl, Canada Mission)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

President Kezerian urged us to enjoy our trip, take our time traveling, and just enjoy the sites, so that's exactly what we did.  The weather for traveling was perfect, we didn't get lost, and here are a few pictures of the things we saw.
This is the oldest LDS chapel in New Zealand, and it is teeny, located on the outskirts of a town called Dannevirke.  It's not used anymore and isn't even ever locked.  It's a museum now, but we sure wish someone had been there to tell us more about it.  From what we understand, the Apostle Matthew Cowley spent a lot of time here.
Inside the museum are a lot of pictures of the people who lived in the area at the time, along with quite a few pictures of Matthew Cowley, who was just loved by the Maori people especially because he became so fluent in their language and was known to work many miracles among them.
 Beautiful coastline of Wellington
 Lots of high-rise condominiums and unique trees

More coastline pictures, this one on the way out of Wellington on our way home

The New Zealand people love the United States, and we were impressed to find a monument to US Marines who gave their lives at Tarawa Atoll, Saipan, Tinian Island, and Okinawa.  The particular marines honored are those who were camped in this area near Wellington, Camp Russell, from June 1942-October 1943.  The monument was erected in 1992 to mark the 50th Anniversary return visit of servicemen from the USA.

The monument in front describes what I just wrote, and the six monuments in the back represent six barracks that were in the camp, each of them showing various things the marines were known for in the area.

Then in the back of the six barracks is a monument to the boats that were used to land the marines on various shores where they fought and where so many died.

Behind the monument is a hiking trail I thought was interesting because it was called the "Yankee Trail" from the monument (Paekakariki-Wellington Rd), 2.7 km, or about a 45-minute walk.
About halfway home to Hastings, we came across a LOT of huge windmills that are used to produce electricity here in New Zealand.  The area is run by Te Apiti Wind Power . Here's some information below about the particular area.

 Go to if you want to know more.
Lots of windmills, hard to count with the huge area they cover;
also a speed limit sign in front for motorists

On the way back to Hastings, driving on Hwy 2, the largest freeway in New Zealand, we came upon a sight you'd only see in New Zealand:  cows being herded down the middle of the road.  I got out to take pictures; but then they got really close, so I hurried back to the safety of the car.  It was quite an entertaining experience actually!
 Here come the cows!
Here's me back in the car taking pictures of all the cows surrounding our car!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


We made it through winter...and, golly, it wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be!  For one thing, it's SHORTER.  Now that it's August, it should still be winter, but spring has decided to come early, and we are loving it.  It's pretty cool in the morning, but it's been warming up nicely, and we're wearing sweaters instead of coats most of the day. Here's some of the beautiful spring flowers we've seen in the last couple of weeks.

We don't know the names of most of these beautiful trees, but here's the tree (above), and here are the blossoms close up.

Again, the tree to the left, the closeup below.  The photos are good, but they sure don't completely capture the beauty...and there are so many of them everywhere.

This is a very interesting tree, not much greenery at all, but the flowers are so delicate and pretty. As before, the close-up flower is below.

We call these "tulip" trees because that's what the flowers look like. Not much greenery on these trees either, but they're also very pretty, and the flowers (seen below) are quite large.

Clyde says these are primroses. We see lots of these, all kinds of colors, in the gardens planted around the various towns.  They are really bright, vivid colors.

And I knew these were calla lilies. We have a large bush of them growing in our yard.(Clyde says it's a plant, but they're so big, they sure look like bushes!)   It looked like it was dying, then our landlord chopped it way back, and we thought it was dead for sure.  A few weeks passed, though, and it started growing so fast, it seemed to change daily...and voila!  We had these gorgeous flowers.

These are also growing in front of our flat, not quite as pretty, but they're unique and do add some fun color.

The fruit trees are everywhere! Right now we have all the oranges, lemons, mandarins, and tangerines in season.  I know there are grapefruit, too, but we haven't seen those yet.  Here's a lemon tree (small, but cute) and an orange tree.  Lots of families have citrus trees in their yards.

Aren't these trees interesting! They look like orange berries, hanging in clumps like grapes, once again not much greenery on the tree.  Below is the close-up of the berries.

This is some kind of fir tree, I guess, but we call it the "corn-on-the-cob" tree.  Sure looks like cobs!

We see a lot of big, old stately trees that just look regal even without their leaves.  I can see some particular grandkids scaling this tree....

Just another pretty flower...but we never tire of seeing them.  By the way, we just keep our camera in the car, and as we searching for "lost sheep" in the Lord's vineyard, we also like to take pictures of His glorious creations.

We thought these were berries, but on looking closer, they were actually crab apples, lots and lots of them!

Another stately, old tree waiting for its springtime to arrive.

A garden of daffodils, one of the welcoming flowers of spring we see at home in Utah.

Frimley Park in Hastings, one of the many well-groomed parks we see in all the towns.
This particular park is known for its gorgeous rose gardens, which will be in bloom here in December.

These flowers captured our attention when we were in Napier inspecting missionary flats.  They look like they might belong to the daisy family (except that this is a bush), yet look how large their centers are in the close-up picture below.

These beautiful flowering trees are everywhere now in New Zealand.

Big "purple" tree...this one is in Flaxmere. 

Close-up of purple-flowers. 

Saw this large, unusual flower on one of my morning walks in Hastings. 

And right now (in October), there are these fascinating "pink" trees...but it looks like they're trying to change color, so we'll see what they look like in a month.  Yep, they all turned green, but what a beautiful way to go to chlorophyll!

Close-up of can see some darker ones, but most of the leaves now are losing their color.  We're guessing they'll eventually turn green. It's interesting to watch the metamorphosis.

 More pretty flowers!

And BLUE flowers!

Flowers just pretty...we love spring in New Zealand!
And these pretty, dainty, colorful flowers are right in front of our New Zealand home (flat).

It's now mid-November,
and the colors are still vibrant everywhere.  

Brilliant orange flowers...

...alongside pretty yellow flowers.  So many different colors.

Spring has been incredible!!!