Sunday, 21 December 2014

Hello, today is December 22, 2014.  Wow, we have been here over a month already.  We have been so busy these last two weeks that I have not had time to do any blogging.  I have a little break today so I thought I would do a short blog of our trip to downtown Auckland on Saturday, November 29, 2014.

In our Area office we have Welfare, Self-Reliance/PEF and Education.  The Welfare couple are Elder and Sister Winters.  They wanted to take the ferry from Devonport over to downtown Auckland and asked if we wanted to go with them.  Elder and Sister Wilkins also wanted to go so we all went together.  It is about a 10 minute ferry ride but it saves you from driving in terrible, downtown traffic and paying for parking.  It was fun and you can walk pretty much wherever you need to go.  It was our first adventure since arriving in Auckland other than trying to find grocery stores.

This is downtown Auckland from the ferry on the bay.
 Reed would have loved to be on these sail boats instead of the ferry.
They had these bikes all stacked up like a Christmas Tree with lights on them.  We think they were for charity.  They were right outside the ferry terminal.  The old building in the back ground is the ferry terminal.
Reed and Nada standing by an old fashioned light pole.  They looked very Victorian to us.  More like something you would picture in England.
This is a look up the main street in Auckland.  It is called Queens Street.

These are Maori Carvings of masks and tikis.
Looking at the Sky City Tower, the tallest building in downtown.
We walked up to Albert Park.  There were some great photo shots here.  The trees were magnificent.
This is the outside of the Auckland Art Gallery.
Inside the gallery there were a lot of pictures and information about the Maoris.  Very interesting.
This store had a huge Santa and two of his reindeers.  It reminded us of the Macey Store in New York City.
Sister Winters, Sister Spencer and Sister Wilkins waiting for our fish and chips.  We decided to walk to the open fish market on the wharf and have lunch there.
Elder and Sister Wilkins, who are Legal Council Missionaries, Elder and Sister Spencer, Education Specialist Missionaries and Elder and Sister Winters, Welfare Missionaries.  We had a great time getting to know them better.
Some of the fish for sale at the market.

We had a great day and it was a little warmer than it has been.  It did sprinkle on us a few times but not enough to stop us from having a great day!  We will definitely need to go into Auckland a few times to see all the museums, shops, buildings that are there.  We only saw a small portion today.

On Saturday, December 6, 2014 we drove to Panmure to see their Christmas Parade.  Some of our YSA kids and the Missionaries were participating and they asked us to attend.  It began at 11:00 a.m. and finished at noon.  It was quite multi-cultural.  They just went down main street turned at the roundabout and came back down the other direction.  It was fun to watch and cheer for our kids.  There was quite a good turnout from the community.  There have been quite a few Christmas Parades advertised.  It seems like each community or small town has one.

This is in front of the Chapel we attend.  It is in the town called Panmure and the ward is the Saineha Ward which is a total Tongan speaking ward.  Some of our YSA along with others from the stake and full-time missionaries.
 Before the actual parade began they had some people singing, playing Christmas songs, and had this group of Maori dancers.  They sang, performed some traditional dances and some did the Haka.

They had quite a few fancy old cars in the parade. 
There are a lot of Chinese people who live in Panmure and there were quite a few different groups who marched in the parade.
A group just dressed up like a live nativity.
They had two different groups that marched playing the drums and bagpipes.

This is the YSA and Missionary float.

The girl in the fine mat called a Ta'ovala is Loni and right behind her is Laei both in our YSA Class.  These Ta'ovala's are worn by both men and women who are Tongan.  We are learning about them and as we learn more we will share that information with you.
We have not driven around very much so we only know one way to get back to Takapuna where we live.  Over the bridge.  There was an accident on the bridge on our way home from the parade and our usual half hour drive took us 2 and a half hours to get home.  You can see the backup in our mirror.  We will be finding out other routes soon.

Well, that is enough for today.  We are working hard and learning a lot.  We have got our flat pretty much the way we want it now.  We are learning our way around and getting to know people better.  We are finding out how small the world really is.  It seems we find out we have friends or places in common with people we meet all the time.

We are both well and grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord.  We have two education specialist couples in countries now and two more coming by the middle of January.  We are working on the strategic plan and have new projects in motion to help our people become better educated so they can become more self-reliant and contribute to the Church and their communities or villages.

We love the Gospel and know it is true.  We love our Father-In-Heaven and his son Jesus Christ.  He is the greatest gift we have all received.  We want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.  We will blog next time about what we are doing here for Christmas but we wanted to make sure we were able to wish you all Happy Holidays for now! We love our children and grandchildren.  We miss them but know they are busy doing good things.  We love you all.  Take care until next time  Ka kite, Elder and Sister Spencer (Reed and Nada)


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