Thursday, 19 March 2015

March 2015 - All about the visit from Elder Bednar and Chinese New Year!

I am going to try to catch up on some of our blogging.  We have had a little more breathing room these last two days so I am using it wisely before all the business returns.

We were so blessed to have Elder Bednar here from Tuesday, February 24 through Thursday, February 26, 2015.   We were able to attend a meeting where he spoke with all the missionaries in the New Zealand Auckland and New Zealand Hamilton Missions.  We were all asked to arrive one hour early and then he was about 20 minutes late because of speaking at the MTC.  This meeting was at the Chapel adjacent to the New Zealand MTC.

The parking lot was full of Toyota cars.  All the missionaries came in their own cars from the Hamilton Mission.

This is looking from the Chapel to the New Zealand MTC.  We assume these flags are of the countries where these missionaries who train here go to serve.

Before the meeting started we found Nada's nephew Elder Jeffrey Barker.  He is serving in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission so it was fun to be together and visit for a few minutes.  He is happy, busy, healthy and doing a great job.  It is great to see these young missionaries so excited to be in the presence of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles!

Elder Barker on the right and his companion Elder Gutke
Elder Spencer, Elder Barker and Sister Spencer.  He is a great young missionary.  We sent these pictures to his parents so they could see how good he looks.

While we were waiting for Elder Bednar to arrive, Reed asked permission and went up and took pictures of all the missionaries in attendance.

Reed is on the stand and taking a picture of all the people in attendance.  You can see the chapel is full of young missionaries into the cultural hall and the senior missionaries are sitting in the very back of the cultural hall.

The picture to the right is all the missionaries from the Hamilton Mission.

The missionaries on the left are all the missionaries from the Auckland Mission.  They divided the chapel right down the middle.  The young missionaries were having a great time acquainting themselves with each other.  This chapel is actually in the Hamilton Mission.  Right across the street the Auckland Mission boundaries begin.
Elder Bednar is a great teacher.  He had asked the missionaries to read four articles before this meeting and then proceeded to ask them questions about what they learned and how they felt.  Then he opened it up for questions from them.  He had his wife, Elder and Sister Robbins and himself answer the different questions.  He was trying to help us all understand that The Holy Ghost is the teacher.  We all learn differently and The Holy Ghost helps us understand what we need to know.
We were able to hear him speak again on Wednesday evening, via satellite to all the stake centers throughout New Zealand.  We could have been in the Redoubt Chapel where he was but we didn't want to fight all the traffic so we went to a closer Chapel.  Again, he had members read some articles and that is what he discussed and asked questions to the audience.  He also let them ask him and other leaders from the Area Presidency questions.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 Elder Bednar came to the Area Office to hold a special devotional.  We were sitting right up front.  It was broadcast to all the service centers throughout the Pacific but we were blessed to be in the same room.  This time he spoke to us about Joseph Smith being a true Prophet and the translation of the Book of Mormon.  He told us to read it and let The Holy Ghost bear testimony of its truthfulness.  He also told us to buckle up because the hastening of the Lord's Work is here and it is His work, not the brethrens.   Really inspiring!  When the meeting finished, the whole Area Presidency and their wives, Elder and Sister Bednar and Elder and Sister Robbins lined up and we all walked past and shook hands.  It is always a wonderful feeling and blessing to be able to shake an Apostles hand!  This was a very spiritual week!

Friday and Saturday, Nada helped Sister Aland get things ready for the principals conference that will begin on Tuesday. 

Elder and Sister Winters and Sister Spencer.  They are the Humanitarian Missionaries and we are all in the same office.  Sister Winters fell and broke her wrist in two places. 

On Saturday, February 28th, we took the ferry over to Auckland to see the boats from the Volvo Ocean Race.  There were tents and all kinds of booths and make shift buildings for this event.  However, none of the boats were in yet because the wind had died done and they wouldn't be into port until after midnight.  It was fun to be among all the excitement and advertising anyways.

 They had big displays and exhibition tents all over the wharf.  They are brining the boats in for repairs and so the crews can rest.  They have a tent set up for each crew.

 We decided to take our picture in this frame with the city of Auckland behind us.  Elder and Sister Aland, Sister and Elder Spencer.
There were a lot of people on the wharf today.

We walked through downtown Auckland to find an eating place called Elliot Stables.  They use to be horse stables and they have turned them into an upscale food court.  Bruce Yerman wanted us to check it out to take all the principals to next week.  There were some very nice restaurants there.  We ate at a Venezuelan restaurant.  It was very delicious.  The owner squeezed us fresh lemonade which was wonderful.  It was a very warm day and we had been doing a lot of walking so it was very refreshing.  We ordered a dish called Holy Guacamole.  It was almost too much for four of us to eat!

We walked up to Albert Park to check out the Chinese Lantern Festival.  It was a little early and you could not see all the lights on yet but we were tired and didn't want to stay much later.  As we were leaving there were lots of people coming.  We were able to enjoy it without all the crazy crowd.

 These are watermelon lanterns.  They were very colorful
 They had lanterns that were figurines, dolls, fish, all kinds of animals.  The whole park was covered in lanterns.

They had different colors and kind of dragons.  They were at the entrances.
You can see that it is starting to get a little darker because you can see the lights in the swans and fish.

These fish lanterns were very cute.  They were all quite large .  Next year we will have to go later in the day so we're not so tired and want to stay until dark.

They had different people demonstrating and selling their art.  This man is cutting these paper designs like snowflakes but much more intricate.  They had different performances. It was quite the festival celebrating Chinese New Years!  Sunday night they had fireworks to celebrate the last day of Chinese New Years.  They shot them from the Sky City  Tower.  Reed took pictures from our apartment.  Not quite as close as from Brown's apartment on New Year's Eve but you could still see them.

Well, another busy and enjoyable week.  We had spiritual highs, a lot of work, enjoyed time with good friends and learning about other cultures.  We hope you enjoy sharing some of our experiences and it encourages some of you to serve a mission.  There is so much to do and learn.  We love you all.  Until next time.
Elder and Sister Spencer (Reed and Nada)


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