We've now been on our mission 10 months, we're still companions, we haven't been transferred, and we're still getting along! Our schedule remains somewhat the same, although presently we are spending a great deal of our time right here in Hastings helping our new bishop, Bishop Sandy Bates, try to get a ward roster that is up-to-date. Each week we try to find 20-30 families, who haven't been coming to see if we can encourage them to return to Church or at least receive home teachers and/or visiting teachers. Quite often, these less-active people have moved, and we used to have to keep these records in the ward until they were requested by another ward. Fortunately, that is no longer the case, which will make it so much easier on the wards to keep track of their members. If someone has moved, we can send the record to the area office, and they will keep track of it until it is requested.
In our Hastings First Ward, we have at least 320 less-active families, so this is a huge "searching" assignment. We like it, though, because we feel like we're really helping. We've met a lot of very nice people, and some are ready to come back to Church and just need member fellowshipping and encouragement. Others are allowing Elder Farnes and me to come to their homes to do Family Home Evenings, so their children can learn more about the Church. And other times, when we can't find someone home, we'll check the homes on either side of them to see if the neighbors know if the family we're looking for is still living there. And with that approach, we have even found a lady who wants us to start teaching her the Gospel. Of course, we're thrilled to do that.
In the Korongata Ward in Bridge Pa, we still spend a fair amount of time, too. Right now they've lost their seminary teacher, so we're teaching seminary once a week...and currently they're studying Isaiah...so, believe me, we're studying it, too! We have twelve students who come regularly, 11 boys and one girl! They meet Monday-Friday in the Relief Society room at the chapel at 7:00 am.
New Zealand is blessed in most areas to have quite nice chapels in which to meet. The building in Bridge Pa is also the Hastings Stake Center. The chapel in Hastings is the newest of the chapels in the Hawkes Bay area. Here are pictures of these two chapels:
This is the Hastings 1st and 2nd Ward Chapel, and they, too, trade meeting times annually between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. The Kiribati Branch also meets there, but they always have the 1:00 pm schedule, which they like. This chapel is located on the main street in Hastings, which is called Heretaunga Street, and everyone in town knows that it is the Mormon or LDS Church and admire how beautiful it is.
Well, as long as I'm doing chapel pictures, here's the Flaxmere Chapel, which is only about a 10-minute drive from Hastings or Bridge Pa. Until today (13 Aug 2012), I had never seen the front of this building because we come in the parking lot from the back because there's no entry to the parking lot from the front of the Church. Anyway, three wards also meet here: The Flaxmere 2nd and 3rd Wards and the Heretaunga (Samoan) Ward. This is also where Elder Farnes & I go to our district meetings each week, now that we've been transferred from the Hastings to the Flaxmere District with the arrival of a new senior missionary couple.