Sunday, April 23, 2017

A trip to Tauranga

I was supposed to have a meeting with the Boomerang Bag group this afternoon but it was cancelled via email around noon About the same time, Elder O'Neal was reading an article in the Church News about a new park that was renamed in Elder Matthew Cowley's honor in New Zealand last Saturday. In looking up the location of the park, he realized that it was only about 3 hours away from us. Sooooo, we decided that since our afternoon had just been freed up, we'd go see it. Tauranga is a place we've never been to and of course the drive was really windey but worth it. Here's a couple of pictures of the park (which is Matthew Cowley spelled in Maori and the phrase on the bottom is one he used all the time which meant to be humble, loving and kind or sincere)

It was beautiful little place and well worth the drive. Elder Cowley is rather famous in this country and was instrumental in converting a huge percentage of the Maori's in the early 1900's. Lots of streets and other locations are named for him.
After that, we found an old part of the town that has been turned into a little shopping area:

It was closing time so the streets were bare- just perfect!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Morgan's baptism

Elder O'Neal never could find previous records for Morgan (the father of the family that was baptized three weeks ago) so the Stake President asked that we just rebaptize him. Morgan was keen with that idea so on Sunday morning Elder O'Neal was able to baptize the father of our sweet family. We went to the previous place about an hour before our Church service and you can tell it's getting a little colder:

Morgan was shivering even before the ordinance was performed. Then here's a picture of most of the branch or at least all who attended to baptism:

The Branch president was gone for a family reunion so Kohia (in the red tie) was in charge but he had Elder O'Neal do all the officiating. He is the first counselor in the branch presidency but pretty shy and doesn't like to be in charge. Afterwards we drove over to the branch building and had our regular meetings where Morgan was confirmed.
I had made some stuff for a luncheon afterwards to celebrate the baptism and the other two sisters had also brought desserts. We assumed we'd have about 12-15 in attendance. Next time, I must remind myself that holiday weekends get crazy in resort towns. We ended up having 63 people there!! We had chairs set up on top of chairs and every spare space was full. So, by the time the meeting was over, we got out all the food we had and somehow, just like the story of the loaves and the fishes, it was enough for everyone. My own mini-miracle. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful way to commemorate Easter.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We had a very busy day on Monday, working with the younger missionaries and then watching the Ribet's four boys for a few hours. After all that, at about 5pm, we left town for Temple View (3 hours away) because we had a Zone Conference on Tuesday. This was our first zone conference where only about 1/4 of the mission gets together at a time and we receive instruction from the Mission president and his wife as well as others. We did go to a conference about 2 months ago but that time we met with the whole mission to hear Elder Renlund (a member of the twelve apostles) speak to us. So this Conference involved only about 50 missionaries instead of over 200. Here's a picture taken at the mission conference from two months ago, but its not enlargeable so you can't see much. Elder O'Neal and I are on the front row to the right. Elder Renlund, Sister Renlund, Elder Cardon and Sister Cardon are in the middle
Whenever we go to the Hamilton area, we always plan on doing a little shopping. This time we wanted to find some gospel art for our flat. There's a tiny church bookstore underneath the visitor's center at the Temple site so that was our destination.
We first found four awesome pictures and then asked them for four frames. Sadly, they only had two left in the store. So we kept all the pictures but only got to hang two of them. Here's our new artwork: The wall behind the dining room table-

And the wall at the top of the stairs:

Now it really feels like a missionary flat! It was a fun trip and we made it home safely in spite of tons of rain on the return trip and a few slips (or mud slides) that didn't affect the driving lanes.   Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hedge Rows

There is an interesting phenomenon here to protect grape and other types of orchards. At first I couldn't figure out why on earth these things were planted Iike this. So I asked the family where we help in their gardens. Belinda told me its to protect the crops from wind. Here's what they look like:

Here's the grape vines inside:

They seem to prune them up to about 30 feet and then let the bushes/trees grow naturally. They're beautiful! And then, let's not forget to post another different name for a grocery cart:

We've had a wonderful week and today after our stint in the garden, we had the newly baptized family over for lunch and committed the dad for baptism on the 19th of April. They are so excited about what they call "our beautiful new church". This work is divine!
Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal

Monday, April 3, 2017

Conference, Church and How they deliver the mail

Our time changed from daylight savings back to standard time so we're now 18 hours ahead of Utah. Because of that we were still able to watch conference live but we had to be up at 4 am to do so. So, we watched all the Saturday sessions beginning at 4 Sunday morning. At 6 we went back to sleep for an hour then got up to be ready for church before the beginning of the afternoon session (knowing we'd have to miss the last talk to get there on time). So, we watched that session from 8-10:45, then church at 10-11:30 then the Priesthood session at noon. And it was Fast Sunday too. What an awesome day. 

Then Tomorrow (Monday) we'll rise at 4 again and watch the two Sunday sessions. Are you confused yet?? One interesting thing I saw Saturday: I've been wondering, since we got here, how they deliver the mail. Do they have a steering wheel on the left side so they can reach the mailboxes as they drive on the left side of the road?? Then as I was walking home from my sewing project, I saw this

I guess they bicycle the mail around. Here the lady is leaning over to get the letters into the mailbox. Now isn't that cost-saving?  Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal