Sunday, February 24, 2013


Last weekend (16-17 February 2013) the Hastings Stake, where we actually live, held a wonderful stake conference, presided over by a visiting General Authority, Elder Andrew O'Riordan of the 8th Quorum of the Seventy.  I couldn't even find his picture on the internet, only that he was from Australia.  Well,  he was absolutely amazing, incredibly spiritual, and gave us all such inspired counsel.  I was thrilled today when I found his picture with President Kezerian that Sister Kezerian had posted on the mission blog (
Elder O'Riordan and President Kezerian

Among the things we learned from Elder O'Riordan are:

1.  The Gospel helps us be the best version of ourselves.
2.  There are NO losers in the Lord's eyes!
3.  There is NO sacrifice in the Church...Christ's sacrifice is the only real sacrifice.
4.  Commit to always serve the Lord; it's the only true path to happiness.
5.  Read and ponder the scriptures until you love them; then you will feel the Spirit as soon as you open them...every time.

We also heard from other wonderful speakers, some of them new members of the Church, others who had found their way back to activity, one man in particular who had been away from the Church for 30 years.  He was so humble, and everyone was touched by his precious testimony of gratitude.

We senior missionaries often get a few perks the young missionaries don't get, so after the Sunday session of Conference, we were invited to a luncheon with Elder O'Riordan. We were once again impressed with his down-to-earth gracious nature.  He reminded Elder Farnes and me to always remember that not a day goes by that our family at home isn't praying for us...and that the General Authorities and Temples around the world pray for us, too.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


What an incredible week this has been!  On 12 February 2013, we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary...and being on a mission is a wonderful place to be grateful for all the blessings we have been given since that big day for us in the Logan Temple.  We took ourselves out to dinner and also brought chocolates to our district meeting, so the young missionaries could celebrate with us.

Then on the 15th, we welcomed 8 more couples to Hastings (7 senior couples, President and Sister Kezerian, and us...for a total of 18) to enjoy Art Deco Days in Hastings, which Elder Farnes and I, along with President & Sister Kezerian, had attended last year.  It was so enjoyable (see blog from last year) that we decided to make it a grand get-together for all of us on the North Island this year.

We started Friday out with a "light" brunch in the Hastings building, hosted by the Hastings 1st Ward sisters.  We stressed that it be a light meal, since we would be going out again in the evening to dinner, but as always, they went all out for the occasion with a massive array of wonderful foods and desserts, decorations in the Art Deco style, and even music in the background.  Here are a few pictures from our brunch:
Here we are, the Grand Hosts for the day!

President Kezerian welcoming everyone

Sister Kezerian welcoming us, too

Setting out the array of foods

...and the yummy desserts, with lots more on serving trays!

Gail Jackson, experienced and tireless caterer

Front (L-R): Lyrae Smith, Gail Jackson, Mihi Edwards, Janene Tihema
Back (L-R:  Rowena Tuimaseve, Gail's daughter Tara, Harriet Reid, and Rose Edwards
(L-R, with spouses in back:  Kezerians (Orem, UT), Overtons (St. George, UT), Shepherds (So. Jordan, UT), McVeys (Denver, CO), Farnes (AF), Hirschis (Brigham City), Hadlocks (Orem, UT), Freemans (St. George, UT), and Richards (Hamilton, New Zealand)

After our delicious luncheon, we headed over to Havelock North to visit Taka Walker, the master carver who has just finished a huge project for the Hawaiian Polynesian Cultural Center (see previous blog).  Brother Walker will be going to Hawaii in March to oversee the installation of these new carvings, which took over a year to complete.  This time he was working on some "smaller" projects, a 9-ft carving of his grandfather, 19 generations back, for whom Te Mata Peak is named, and his wife, who may have been "wee", but Bro. Walker made her 8 feet tall, so they'd look more balanced together.  Here's a few of the projects he was working on:

This is a carving of a Maori who died several years ago; he was well-known, and Bro. Walker is carving this statue which will eventually be at a marae in a "framework" that Bro. Walker has designed below.

Not only is Brother Walker a master carver, he also is an amazing artist, who draws very intricate things to be carved. He always does a pattern like this before he begins carving.

This 9-foot giant will go in the foyer of an office building here in Hastings.

And next to him will be his 8-foot wife.
In Havelock North there is also a mountain that looks like a sleeping giant, Te Mata Peak, and it's one of those"musts" when visiting the Hastings area.  The drive up is scary with the narrow road, and the drive down is absolutely frightening, but we didn't want anyone to miss out, so we headed up again...third time for us. What is so amazing in these pictures is the brown everywhere...we have had such a dry summer, and most of the beautiful green is gone because there is normally no need for irrigation.  The view from Te Mata Peak is spectacular on a clear can almost see Los Angeles!
Panoramic view from one angle
Elded & Sister Hadlock and Elder & Sister Richards

Two out of the 9 couples took the RIGHT turn and beat the rest of us who got lost for a short time.
You can see the ocean in the background...easily in person, a little harder from a picture.

This is one of the many vineyards in the Hastings area, complete with a restaurant and wine making facility. Obviously, they have a good irrigation system because their livelihood depends on it!

This is the look-out area, complete with a map, so you can see what towns and other landmarks are around.
And here's the group of senior missionaries again, L-R:Elder & Sister Shepherd, Elder & Sister Overson (going home 22 Feb 2013), Sister & Elder Richards, Sister & Elder Hadlock, Sister & Elder Farnes, Sister & Elder Hirschi, Sister & Elder Freeman, Sister McVey (Elder McVey was taking the picture), and Sister & President Kezerian.
After visiting Te Mata Peak, the couples were given almost a whole hour to relax, check into their hotels, etc. before it was time to meet back in Havelock North for dinner.  You've also seen this restaurant (Pipi's) on our blog; delicious food, plus we wanted everyone to experience its uniqueness.
Left side (F-B): Elder & Sister Freeman; Elder McVey, Elder Shepherd, Elder Overton, Sister Hirschi, Sister Farnes, and Sister Hadlock
Right side (F-B): President Kezerian, Sister Kezerian, Sister McVey, Sister Shepherd, Sister Overton, Elder Hirschi, Elder Farnes, and Elder Hadlock

Although all the events of the day were lots of fun, the climax of the whole day was going to Napier that evening for our Art Deco Days experience.  Though there are lots of lots of people there, the ambiance is so amazing, everyone is friendly, and most people are dressed for the occasion.  There are parades of vintage automobiles, a spectacular air show with vintage airplanes, and a band playing 1930's music for everyone's enjoyment and dancing pleasure.

Downtown Napier, Marine Parade Road, town on one side, Pacific Ocean on the other side

People milling along the beach...couldn't have had more perfect weather!

Even the children are dressed in Art Deco style.

After the air show, the band started playing music, and the evening dancing began.

People on the balcony of the Masonic lodge

Elder McVey had a camera that could get much closer shots than we could.  These two planes flew clear across the bay with the top plane upside down ...amazing!

We thought we were going to witness a terrible disaster when these planes looked like they were turning into each other, but then they each arced out and brought huge sighs of relief from the spectators.  It was a wonderful, wonderful show.

A busy, fun-filled day!  We seniors all slept good that night!  In the morning, before heading back to our areas, everyone was invited to our flat for a light breakfast:  granola, yogurt, juices, fruit, date muffins, toast, jelly, etc.  We always want at least one more chance to visit; we so enjoy each other's company.  They are definitely friends we hope to see again when our missions are over.
Our flat isn't very big, so everyone could arrive anytime between 8-10 am.
L-R:  Elder Hadlock, Sister Hadlock, Sister McVey (back), Elder & Sister Overton,  Elder Hirschi (seated),  Sister Farnes, and Sister Hirschi.  Elder McVey was once again the photographer.