Saturday, 28 February 2015

Time to blog about Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands. 

We were able to speak to most all the kids and wish them a Happy Valentine's Day on Saturday the 14th.  It is always a little strange living in two different hemispheres.  We have a holiday and then the rest of the family has it the next day.

Monday, January 26th was Auckland Days so the Area Office was closed.  We went with Elder and Sister Winters and Elder and Sister Aland and headed to Waiheke Island.  We took the ferry from Devonport to Waiheke that took 25 minutes.  The weather was perfect.  We took a two hour hike around one part of the Island to enjoy art walk.  All along the trail were different art sculptures that were for sale.  Wow!  They were all thousands of dollars.  The van driver that took us to the start of the walk said they called this area Billionaire Cove because so many billionaires lived there.   There were some pretty fantastic homes with great views and a vineyard along the walk.

 Above is Elder and Sister Aland and Nada on the top deck of Fuller's Ferry.  The sky was a little overcast and the breeze coming off the water was cool  By the time we arrived on Waiheke, the clouds were gone and it was a beautiful day.  To the right is the beautiful bay we get to see every time we cross the bridge and it never grows old.  There seems to always be at least once sailboat out sailing.
 As we came into the dock at Waiheke you can see this peace of art as part of the sculpture walk.
 Here in New Zealand they really try to protect their forests and parks.  They have you spray some kind of solution on the bottom of your shoes in some places so you don't bring any harmful critters into the environment.  Here they had the solution on wet mats they everyone had to walk across to start the sculpture walk.
Nada standing in front of one of the first sculptures we came upon.  It was arrows and a target us along the trail.

 Reed and Nada along the trail with the ocean below us.  Beautiful views of the ocean and island all along the walk.
 This sculptures was a giant top.  They were just at different places all along this trail.  You would just come upon them and they had price tags on them.

One of the homes along the walk.  What a view!

Nada, Sister Aland, Sister Winters, Elder Winters and Elder Aland.  They needed a break.  The first sculpture we saw from the bay is in the back ground.  We could not understand what all of them were about.

Below Sean Connery taking a selfie.

 This dome was one of Nada's favourite.  It was flowers and it had an opening that you could go inside and was painted red on the inside.  It would be fun to sleep in at night and look up at the starts.
 This mirror sculpture was the most interesting.  We took a lot of different shot angles here.  People enjoyed this was the most and stayed here the longest.

 As we finished the walk we just enjoyed the view looking down into bay at Waiheke with the ferry terminal and dock.  This island is the third most populated of the New Zealand Islands and has surpassed Martha's Vineyard as the highest income population.

 These Maori carvings were on the beach as we came off the hill and headed back to the ferry terminal.

We then bought a $10.00 off and on bus pass and headed into Oneroa and had lunch.  We ate at a Thai Restaurant.  There is a lot of Thai food here.  It was nice sitting on the verandah and enjoying good food and good company.  We then hopped back on the bus and headed to Onetangai to enjoy the ocean and beach.  We only had a half of an hour to play in the water and walk on the beach.  Reed of course snorkelled while the rest of us got our feet wet and enjoyed the beach.  We only had about 25 minutes there because we had to catch the bus and catch the 4:p.m. ferry to get back to Devonport.We will definitely have to go back and spend more time on the beaches now we know how to get around.

 Elder & Sister Aland, Sister and Elder Spencer and Elder and Sister Winters enjoying the sun and beach.
As we arrived back to Devonport there was an old wooden classic sailboat in the harbour.  Gorgeous.  As we pulled into the dock people were jumping off and swimming there in the bay.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 we headed to the Matakana Market.  It is a small town about an hour drive north of Auckland.  It was a great market with lots of different kinds of cheese, breads, oils, fruits, vegetables and other kinds of foods to purchase.  They also had some interesting shells and items for sale.  We went to the Kauri forest and then to a wood carvers home.  This man is from Bethelehem and does a lot of carving out of olive wood.  He gave us a tour of his shop where he works and the shop where they sale his carvings.  Very nice people and most of the senior missionaries go there for their nativities and wood carving items.

 This is the wood carver's shop.
 This is the wood carver's home.  They had quite a large peace of land with sheep, a shop, their home and a display shop where they sold his carvings.
 He carves a lot of ornaments.

We then drove to the Waitakere Forrest and went through the visitor center.  We ran out of time so we will need to go back and do some of the hikes around there.  There are some waterfalls and places we want to explore another day.
We just love these fern trees.  They are so beautiful here.

On Wednesday, January 28th we met with the entire Area Presidency, President Pearson, President Haleck and President Nielsen, the DTA (Director of Temporal Affairs) Brent Buckner, Dean, Reed and Nada.  We were a little nervous when we walked into the room and all of them were waiting there.  We presented the information we have created for the Education Initiative.  They were very complimentary and excited about it.  They wanted us to reword a couple of sentences and then they were going to present it to all the Area Seventies on Saturday.  We were suppose to only meet for 15 minutes and ended up being in there for 40 minutes because they wanted to hear more.  We were so excited when we left the third floor.  What a thrill to know all our hard work was exactly what they wanted.  We are so grateful that we have listened to the Spirit and worked so hard.  Reed made the comment that this was one of the best days of his life.  To meet with the entire Area Presidency who are men called of God and to know we were on the right track of why our Heavenly Father wanted us to come here and serve!

On Saturday, February 7th we caught the ferry again and went to a different island by the name of Rangitoto.  It is the newest island in New Zealand formed by a volcano that erupted 600 years ago.  There is no running water or electricity on the island.  All the water is from rain and they use propane for cooking and heating.  The cottages on the island were built in the early 1900s and can only be passed on to family members.  They cannot be sold.  There were originally 140 of them but now there are only around 30.  People still live in them but mostly like summer cabins.

Nada walking down the pier from the ferry to Rangitoto Island.  Elder and sister Whidden in the forefront.

 Nada and Reed as they stepped off the pier and onto Rangitoto Island.
 Reed hiking to the top of the volcano.
 The volcanic rock here looked like mud clumps.  Very different than on some of the other islands.  It is interesting how plants just find a way to grow through anything.
 Nada and Reed on the top of the volcano.  It was about an hour hike.  Mostly a walk until the last twenty minutes.  Beautiful view.  You can see Auckland in the back ground.
 We went through some lava tubes.  They do not have running water but when it rains it collects in the bottom and keeps it a little damp.  We needed the flashlights because the lava was rough and you didn't want to put your foot in the wrong place.

Hiking back down the trail.  Nada, Sister and Elder Winters and Sister and Elder Whidden.
 By the pier there was this old rock gate.  It used to be the men's latrine for the convicts.
 This is one of the cottages.  They call them Bach's like in bachelor pad because they are small and humbles dwellings.  No luxuries.

Nada walking along the trail back to the pier.  We will have to come another day and hike to the lighthouse and the other side of the island.  We caught the ferry back to Devonport which was about a twenty minute ride. It was another glorious day.

We feel so blessed to be able to serve the Lord in such a beautiful area.  There is so much to see.  We try to explore something new as often as we can on Saturdays or holidays. May the Lord watch over and bless all of you.  We love you and hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful things New Zealand has to offer.  Bye for now.  Elder and Sister Spencer!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Kia Ora, today is Thursday, February 12, 2015, and we have been in New Zealand for 3 months now.

Boy have we been busy.  We keep thinking we are going to blog more often but time just gets away from us.  Reed has been coming in a lot of mornings between 7 and 7:30 a.m. while I finish up my walk and get ready for the day.  Usually we arrive at 8:00 a.m. and leave around 5:00 p.m.  Some evenings we stay longer just because it is quiet and we can get a lot done when no one else is around. 

On Saturday January 17th we left the flat at 5:55 a.m. to head to Hamilton to attend an 8:30 a.m. Temple Session.  There were 180 people in the session.  It was so nice, there was a gentleman in our ward that is deaf that received his endowments and was sealed to his wife.  He was so excited to be there.  He is so friendly and happy all the time at church.  He communicates with sign language that he and his family mostly made up.  It was wonderful to be a part of this day with them

After we finished at the temple we drove into Hamilton and visited their History Museum.  It was very interesting.  They had a lot of Maori Ceremonial Cloaks that two families had made.  They were woven and had a lot of different kind of bird feathers woven into them.  We did not have our camera with us so we will have to visit again so we can share the beauty of these cloaks. 

We met a couple by the name of Julia and Eric Wilcox.  They saw our name badges and stopped us to talk about the church.  They are active members in a little town south of Hamilton.  They asked if we would have lunch with them and we had a nice visit.  We found out brother Wilcox has cancer and had just come from a treatment.  We wish them the best of luck.  Nice people!  It is amazing how many people stop us to talk to us because of our name badges.

On Friday, January 23rd after work we went with Elder and Sister Wilkins to Kennedy Beach.  It was only a 20 minute drive from our flat.  The tide was way out and we explored some tide pools and just enjoyed the fresh air and scenery.  We packed a picnic and just ate there on the beach.

 To get to the beach you had to walk down 120+ steps.  During World War II this area was Castor Bay Battery where the New Zealand Army camouflaged barracks and guns to protect New Zealand from any attacks by sea.
 We saw some starfish and other little fish in the tide pools.
 There were quite a few different colored starfish along the rocks where the tide had gone out.

 We walked to the farthest rock shelf that was not covered by the ocean.  .

The beach is on the right and we had to get a little wet to get all the way out to this farthest rock shelf.  On the other side of this formation the drop off was quite deep into the ocean.
The tide came in very quickly.  All the rocks you can see to the shore were covered within 20 minutes.

We saw this Kingfisher up very closely.  It was a beautiful evening.  A nice way to unwind from a busy week.

On Saturday, January 24th we went with Elder and Sister Winters to the Auckland War Memorial Museum.  It is free to Auckland residents which we qualify for the next two years.  They had some interesting planes, memorabilia, displays, etc. One floor was dedicated to World War I and II.  One floor was dedicated to Maori Culture and the other floor was for nature.  They had skeletons of animals and taxidermy ones.  They had information on volcanoes and cyclones and weather patterns.  Quite interesting.   We spent a couple of hours and when it is rainy and cold we will go back again to see the rest.

 They had a Maori traditional house and were restoring the carvings all along the walls.
 Reed and Nada standing in front of The Spitfire that was used during World War II.

 Reed standing next to a Great White Shark.  Much better to meet it here than in the ocean!

They had these little green geckos in glass aquariums.  We have not seen any while we have been out hiking or in the mountains  We would like to see one not in an aquarium.

New Zealand has done a good job preserving the history of their country and making it available for people to enjoy.

That evening we attended the Saturday session of stake conference.  They had the Samoan ward provide the music.  It was so beautiful.  The men sang the prelude music and it was like being back in our ward in Samoa.  They harmonize and sing loudly.  It just fills the whole chapel.  We then attended the Sunday session at 10:00 in the morning.  It was nice to understand everything that was being said.  It is hard to attend church every week that is all in Tongan when you don't speak the language so it is nice to every once in a while hear it in a language we understand.  President and Sister Going, Temple President and his wife, spoke and our Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Balli spoke.  It was a very nice meeting.  The theme was "Hastening the Work, Going to the Rescue."

That will be it on the blog for today.  We have a lot more to write about but we will do a separate blog.  We hope you enjoy learning about New Zealand and seeing the beautiful things it has to offer.  We are well, busy and doing our best to help the Lord's Work move forward.  Have a great week.  More later.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer.