Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Teaching the Spragg family

Since they joined the Church over a month ago, we have been trying to set up more teaching appointments with the Spragg family. They live an hour away and they both work a swing shift so it's been hard. We were finally able to make it to their home Sunday afternoon. They live in what would definitely be considered substandard conditions in our country, something like a shed with an old travel trailer hooked on for the girls room. They have no indoor plumbing and only a hot plate to cook on, but they have the sweetest spirit there. Elder O'Neal gave the lesson on the Being of God the Father. He also managed to figure out how to have some small videos though they have no wifi. It was a special experience. Because they live on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula, we also managed to get a picture of the sun setting. Since we live next to a large hill to the west, we don't really see the sun setting, just rising in the east, but here's what it looked like:

 Today we did a bit of sightseeing along the northern side of the coast 
and then came home to deliver meals for the soup kitchen and then prepare for the younger missionaries to spend the night with us. When they come, I like to be sure they have plenty to eat so here's everything I could find (including the chayote) thrown into one pot

I was afraid that I might have made too much but no worries. It was gone by the end of dinner time. And for dessert we had rhubarb/apple crisp. How I love all the fresh produce we get from the Collins' place!          

Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Yesterday we drove out to Cook's Beach to give the Higgin's family some pointers on using familysearch.org. They fixed us some lunch and I hope I got them to where they're feeling comfortable finding ancestors on the site. On our way home, we saw this beautiful stand of trees exhibiting our opposite season here. How can it be fall in May??

And along the beach, they've installed this little gem.

I'm sure you're all excited to come visit so you can get your picture taken behind it.
And, lastly, when we first moved here, I was loaned a sewing machine to use which has come in sooo handy for mending jobs. But yesterday we finally got the screen prints so I could begin a city service project using the sewing machine: Cloth grocery bags to replace plastic ones in the stores. We use fabric and other clothing donated to the 2nd hand stores in town. Young kids at the school have begun doing the screen printing on the pockets since Monday. It took about 2 months to get the screens back from Australia to carry the "Boomerang Bag" logo along with the city name. I think they're way too cute so people will probably just take them and not bring them back but what do I know?

This will be once-a-week project and I love it. It also gives Elder O'Neal a chance to go help a brother in town with a very messy garage.  Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal

Friday, May 5, 2017

A trip to Temple View for FHE

After watching Buddy's father's funeral service via Facebook messenger live and then attending the memorial service for Frank all in one day, it was a welcome diversion to head out for Temple View on Monday. The senior missionaries who live close to the Temple have a joint Family Home Evening every first Monday of the month but since we are 3 hours away, we seldom go (even though we're always invited.). However we had been informed that they'd found us some more gospel art for our flat so we decided to combine reasons and make the drive. Deanna and Rivka will be impressed that I did finally make goat-cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates to take to the Monday night meeting and everyone loved them. The next day we also got to attend the temple, always a soul-refreshing experience. Then we loaded up our pictures into the boot of our car, did a little shopping in Hamilton and drove back home. We did make one stop in Tairua to visit Derek Collins in the care center. Derek, the owner of the bed and breakfast where we garden on Fridays, has been confined to a wheel chair for about 10 years. About a week ago he got an infection and ended up in the hospital at Thames for a few days and was then transferred to the care center to see if he could get well enough to return home. Here's a picture of the view from the carpark at the care center:

Today we went back to Whenakite where the Collins bed and breakfast is located, to help in the garden again. Elder O'Neal spent his time moving a huge, rotting wood pile while I weeded a hill. I kept hearing what I thought was 4-wheelers in the distance until I finally stopped weeding long enough to look up and see the actual source of the sound:

The biggest, fuzziest bee I've ever seen! I'm glad he was quite satisfied with the flowers and didn't head after me.  Then tonight we had the Ribets over for dinner. I think Hannah enjoyed the guacamole we made.

It's been a good week. Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal

Monday, May 1, 2017

A New Day

This week has been very interesting as we received word that Elder O'Neal's dad passed away Wednesday morning. He had been weak and sickly for years but there was no indication of his time being that short even the evening before. He went to bed as normal and just didn't wake up. Great way to go if you ask me but rather difficult for his daughter who lived with him and cared for him. Our hearts go out to all to all those who are traveling and present for the funeral and good-byes. We are comforted by the thought that the end of this life is not the end of life and families can be together forever.
     Our week has been full and fulfilling as usual. The memorial service for Frank has been scheduled for Sunday so we spent one day traveling between Whitianga and Coromandel to be sure everyone in the branch and at the Care Center were informed of the meeting. While in Coromandel, we noticed a bit of an oddity:

A phone booth- with a real pay phone inside! No, we did not try to make a call but we have heard that, in some areas, this country is still considered somewhat "third world". I guess this is the proof.
     We also took this picture of another phenomenon, the terracing of hills all over the countryside:

This is caused by sheep roaming over the hills for centuries. They always try to walk horizontally so they don't have to go uphill. Until recently, most all of the farmers raised sheep but now there's a prevailing opinion that cattle is a better cash crop at least on the north island so there aren't so many.
     Then, at the community garden, there was a weird palm-type tree with huge red flowers.  I had no idea what it was so I finally asked the garden manager. He took me to the tree and pointed up past the flower to the fruit:

Bananas! I know I'd seen a banana tree in Hawaii but that was over 20 years ago. And they are not supposed to grow here. The gardener told us these were cast off trees that were brought over from someone's home and burned in a pile and this little grove grew from the burn. Tenacious little trees! And the bananas are almost ripe so we can so take some home. Just another week in paradise.
 Kia Ora, Elder and Sister O'Neal