Thursday, February 15, 2018

President Hamon’s funeral

Early Sunday morning, our thoughtful, loving Branch President finally succumbed to the affects of Leukemia and passed away. We found out as we arrived for Sunday service in Coromandel town. He had been diagnosed nearly a year ago but had been in remission for several months. About three weeks ago he began complying of back pain and was not able to make it to Church for the last two weeks. We had visited him last Wednesday though and he was still his usual chatty self. Even on Saturday, he had called Elder O’Neal in the afternoon to be sure we had everything figured out for the meeting on Sunday. That call made the announcement less than 24 hours later quite a surprise! He had been either the president or a counselor for the last 25 years so this will be quite a loss for our tiny Branch. He lived in Kennedy Bay about 25 minutes north of Coromandel and the funeral service was held there. We were invited inside the Marae this time so I could take a few pictures.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The beautiful summer continues

We continue to enjoy this wonderful country. Our gardening days on Fridays are such a delight. Yesterday we picked lemons, avocados, plums and apples.

This is just one of many apple trees. We also had the opportunity to see the arrival once again of the Navy ship the HMNZS Mannawanui. This is technically its home port but this is its last visit as it is being decommissioned at the end of the month. Some residents are petitioning to get it sunk off the dock here so it can become an artificial reef. Here is the ship as it pulls up to the wharf:

And then, not surprisingly, we are always finding new gorgeous beaches around here. As we left the garden, we turned right instead of left (to come home) and drove to this hideaway. It’s called “Sailor’s Grave Beach” and actually has a sailor’s grave from 150 years ago over on one hill. The town of Tairua, close by, celebrates the anniversary of the man’s death every year. We did not walk over to get pictures of the gravesite but here is the beach:

This one has waves large enough for surfers and we watched a few out on their boards. Next time we’re bringing our lawn chairs so we can just relax for awhile.
Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O’Neal

Towing your Boat

The ocean is very close to everyone in this area, it allows for a different way to move the boat around. If you are not cool, then towing your boat can be done by just about anything; car, truck, four wheeler, whatever.

But.....if you Are cool, then there is only one way to get the boat to the ocean.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Kiwi Christmas

We’ve had a totally different, totally wonderful Christmas in New Zealand. Since we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the middle of the summer when the days are the longest and school is out for summer break. We put up a small string of lights but its only dark for about an hour before we go to bed so they’re not on for long.

 The Ribets from our church group invited us over for Christmas Eve, where we had a dinner of things that might have been eaten in Christ’s time and sang Christmas hymns with the help of Nick’s ukulele.

On Christmas Day, Utah’s Christmas Eve, we talked to 6 of our kids and my sweet parents and sister. Then our friend Sue Collins invited us to have a picnic with their family on the beach in Tairua. We garden at her farm every Friday and were thrilled to get to meet her extended family. Her husband Derek resides in a care center in Tairua but got to be at the beach with us for the day. 

They also invited us to go to their Anglican Christmas service with them but we had family phone calls and couldn’t make it. After the beach, we made a stop back at the Ribets to see what Santa left the kids and have a few more treats.

We’ve had a joyous, delightful day to celebrate the anniversary of our Savior’s birth

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Kiwi Thanksgiving

We had a bit of a struggle trying to have a Thanksgiving dinner so far from home. I mentioned some of the ingredients I couldn’t find to my kids and Jennifer and Jon sent this: Now we had the cranberry sauce and the pecans for pies (along with delicious graham crackers for evening snacking)

Then we received a package from Rivka with decorations, plates and napkins and I hadn’t even thought about that:

After that, we discovered that turkeys were on sale last week for about $30 less than they usually are so a 12 lb. bird was $60 instead of $90 (at that point that seemed like a good deal!)  We went to an American store in Auckland for corn syrup and Stove Top stuffing. We used a Kiwi yam which they call Kumara and had to cut up large marshmallows since they had no miniature ones for the candied yams. They don’t have canned pumpkin so I baked a pumpkin and puréed it so I could use it to make pies. Then we invited the Higgins and the Chaddertons from our Branch and introduced them to a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

We had to explain what candied yams are and cranberry sauce and stuffing. Buddy took time beforehand to explain where the holiday comes from and when it was made an official holiday. We had a delightful time sharing our traditions with these wonderful friends.
P.S.- Kiwis usually don’t wear shoes in the house so even though we tell them they don’t have to take off their shoes, they seem to be more comfortable doing so. And though the drinks may look suspicious- we didn’t bring them home in a paper sack- they’re just sparkling grape and apple juices. 
Kia Ora! Elder and Sister O’Neal

Monday, November 20, 2017

A few weeks in Review

In looking back at photos for the last few weeks, I can’t come up with one theme so I’ll just explain a few. My sewing machine broke again so I’ve only been able to get things ready by cutting and ironing. However, we were able to go to Auckland today and get another belt for this old machine. The repair guy advised us to fix it and give it back to the city before it breaks again since the last belt should have lasted longer than two weeks (I agreed!). Actually that will be ok because Trish, the sewing teacher at the school, offered to let me borrow a machine from there. Yeah!! I’ll take her up on that offer next Tuesday. Here’s a pic of the crazy sewing room at the school:

I think I’ll still sew with this old machine until I can get to the school on Tuesday.
A few months ago, the Branch President in Coromandel asked me to help an elderly friend with his genealogy. He knew he had some Jewish ancestry but couldn’t find anything past his paternal grandmother. With a lot of help from, we managed to get him back 5 generations into England including copies of census reports, marriage and birth certificates. He was so excited! For his “day job” , though he’s retired, he fixes chain saws. I managed to get a picture of Elder O’Neal visiting with him after Church last Sunday where he took us down to his shop. The ceiling is barely shorter than Buddy so he had to duck at the 2x4’s. This kind of place is to Buddy what the sewing room is to me- mess with so many exciting possibilities.

And then, I had to include this wonder of nature that I found on my walk today:

The most wonderful tree! I can just see a family picture with all the kids sitting or hanging from the branches. Where was a tree like this when all my kids were at home??  It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks!  Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O’Neal

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Kauri Trees

Today we usually go to help in the community garden but when we got there, we were the only ones there. It looked like there’d been a lot of helpers the day before so even the weeding didn’t need to be done. About once a week, they have a special contingency of inmates from the jail come to work so they must have been there. Since there was no garden work, we decided to hike to the Kauri Grove about a half hour hike up the hill. We’ve been wanting to take this hike for months but its been too wet and muddy.
     Kauri Trees are another species indigenous to New Zealand and just in the northern part of the north island. They can grow over 150 feet tall and even though they grow low-lying limbs, they shed these as they grow taller making their wood of mostly parallel grain. That made them highly sought after for ship building in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. They can also be over 15 feet in diameter and live up to 1000 years!

Most harvesting of these trees has now ceased and the remaining groves are protected by law. We happen to have a grove of 20-30 trees just outside of town up a very steep trail. But the walk was worth it. Here is a view of town from the grove:

 and I made Elder O’Neal pose for one:

 And it's still only spring!    
Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O’Neal