Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hello everyone.  Today I am going to blog about our Self-Reliance Managers Seminar.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, we had all nine Self-Reliance Managers and the Area Office team join together at the Area Offices for training.  It was great to finally meet all them face to face instead of through email and WebEx.  We also had Trent over PEF from Salt Lake and Jared working with Self-Reliance from Salt Lake City here to listen and help with things coming from headquarters.

It was a great week.  We did a lot of great training, discussing and playing in the evenings.  Reed and I learned a lot and helped all of them understand the importance of the education side of all of the Self-Reliance information.  It was kind of like a light came on and everyone could see that this is the right direction we need to head at this time.

Tuesday night we all walked over to this really nice Italian restaurant called Al Fornos.  Everyone had steak except for Nada who had fettuccini and prawns.  The food was delicious and we enjoyed visiting with everyone.
We walked back to the area office and did Karaoke.  Renee was the DJ and did a great job getting everyone up to perform.  Most were great singers.
Reed with Ned as his backup singing "My Girl!"  Ned Taito is our Self-Reliance Manager from Fiji.
Arama Puriri our Self-Reliance Manager from Hamilton, New Zealand.  He loved performing and did a great job.  Verna, Renee and Ariel in the background.
Carl Maurer is our Self-Reliance Manager in Brisbane, Australia.  He sang a Neal Diamond song and surprised us all.
Ned and Paul Reid our Area Self-Reliance Manager singing together.
Johnny Leota our Sydney and Melbourne Self -Reliance Manager.  He was our Mission President when we served in Samoa and is also the Area Seventy.  He is a fantastic manager and a great singer and dancer.  He was singing "Happy" here with Bruce McCarthy our Self-Reliance Manager from Samoa.
Ariel Wetere and Renee Solomon.  They both work in the Area Self-Reliance office with us.  Ariel is over operations and Renee is over PEF.  Great girls.

Verna Tukuafu our Self-Reliance Manager in Tonga.  She is very sharp and our only female manager.  She was quite the performer.  She went to school at BYU Hawaii and performed for the Polynesian Cultural Center while she was at school.  She gets things done! 

Paul Reid and Reed singing together.  Reed loves to sing and wasn't afraid to keep doing it.

We all got up and did YMCA!  It was fun and everyone got up and participated.   Everyone participated, some more willing than others, but everyone had a good time!

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, we had meetings all day.  Each morning we had a devotional and then a discussion about that topic.  Reed did Tuesdays devotional on Education, Jared did todays on Faith.  They both went really well.  This whole conference was pretty much run like discussion groups.  It gave everyone a chance to learn from each other.  We held the meetings in the main conference room at the Area Office where we hold Monday morning devotionals every week.  It was a great few days.

Carl asking a question while Paul is facilitating the discussion.  Carl has been a Mission President and is a very sharp man.  We really enjoy being with him.  As you can see we are wearing the Self-Reliance shirts we had made up for this conference.  Paul gave them permission to have dress down days every once in a while!
It was Bruce McCarthy's birthday so Bryson found a candle on his device since we cannot have any open flames.  We sang Happy Birthday and he blew out the candle!
We headed into downtown Auckland at 5:00 p.m. to work as teams at Escape Masters.  You compete against each other to solve clues, put puzzles together and open locks to get the comb to the locked door to escape before the Zombies wake up.  They give you 50 minutes.
The young men are giving us instructions.  They made Reed and I team captains so we could not be on the same team.  We had all four women in our group.
Reed's team won!  They got out before the 50 minutes were up.  We opened all the locks but did not make it under 50 minutes. They let us finish and we went two minutes over. None of us were attacked by Zombies thank goodness!  This is our team heading down the hall while the other team waited for us.  It was a lot of fun.  We will probably do it again.

Above is a picture of downtown Auckland as we were walking back to the Sky Tower for dinner.  Reed and Nada with the Maori mask behind us in the foyer of the Sky Tower.
We had dinner at a wonderful buffet.  Everyone enjoyed being able to eat whatever and how much they wanted.  Another wonderful successful day.  We did not take our camera on Thursday.  Trent did the devotional on adversity.  We had some more great discussions and did some wrapping up.  We spent some time with Trent on PEF with those mangers who needed to learn more about it.  It is not available in Australia, Tahiti or New Zealand.  Everyone left very excited about the new education push and had a lot of great ideas to get going on.  These kind of seminars are great to be together, support each other and get excited to keep going.  That night some had to catch planes early and wanted to visit family.  Some really wanted to go to KFC for dinner so we went with them.  Wonderful three days.
On Friday morning the 17th, Reed and I had to be at the airport by 6:30 a.m. to pick up Elder and Sister Bearce.  They are our new TVET couple for Tonga at Liahona High School.  He taught technical/vocational classes at a high school and was an administrator so he really understands what should be going on in the TVET classes.  It is so nice to have a couple who is hitting the ground running.  She is a musician.  Part of being the ITEP-TVET Coordinators is picking up these couples and taking care of them during their training here in Auckland.  It is wonderful to get to know them and then stay in touch with them during their missions and watch them grow.  The gospel is truly amazing.  You take ordinary people, who are willing to serve The Lord, and wonderful things happen, both for the missionaries and for the people they are serving.  We are so blessed.  We had an exit interview, via satellite, with Elder and Sister Decker finishing up in Fiji and then were involved with training all afternoon on Friday and Saturday morning with Elder and Sister Bearce.  Then we took them to the airport Saturday afternoon and they headed to Tonga.  Another wonderful, busy week.

We love you all and hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about what we are involved in with both our Education Specialist Coordinators and ITEP-TVET Coordinators missions.  We love it!!!

Until next time.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Kia Ora,

It has been quite cold this last week here in New Zealand.  The sun comes out but if the wind blows (which it usually does) it is very cold.  Especially on our morning walk at 8:00 a.m. to the office and our way home at 5:00 p.m.  During the lunch break when we walk home it is pretty nice.  We do not have central heating just two portable radiator heaters so the flat is pretty cold in the mornings when we get up.  It is usually around 58 degrees Fahrenheit.  We do leave the small radiator heater in the bedroom on during the night on low so it is more bearable to sleep.

On Saturday July 11, 2015 we did all our cleaning and then decided we wanted to go some place we have not been before.  It was cool but sunny so we headed North and a little West to South Head.  We ended up taking a wrong turn but saw some country we had not been to before.

We really enjoy driving and looking at the beautiful countryside.
Reed kept stopping everywhere to take pictures.  He would just all of a sudden stop and pull over.  Nada waited in the car.
This ride was very up and down and curvy roads.  Below is a nice little sectioned off farm.  Reed just loves looking for interesting pictures.

We stopped in Helensville for a few minutes and took some pictures.  This hotel was built in 1882.
The Helensville Post Office built in 1911.  Some old and interesting buildings in this little town.
We see homes with this kind of architecture all over New Zealand.
Beautiful rolling hills with sheep, cows and even sometimes deer farms.
In the picture below you can actually see barns.  We see all these cows and rarely see any barns.

We stopped at Shelly Beach.  We thought from the name it was where you could find a lot of sea shells.  Not true.  Mostly there were a lot of boat trailers there for fishing boats and not too much of a nice beach.  There was a little restaurant, some bathrooms and a long narrow pier where a few people were fishing from.

There is a lot of water everywhere you turn here.
Nada walking out on the pier at Shelly beach.  The wind was pretty cold here.

People were fishing from the pier.  They catch quite a bit of snapper here.
You can see all the trucks and boat trailers.  We only saw two boats out so they must have gone out of the harbour and into the Tasman Sea.  We are assuming they use this old trailer to help haul boats, trailers or cars that get stuck going out to far into the sand to launch.

The hillsides are so interesting here.  We assume it is the rocks underneath the grass that give them that shelve look.
To the right are lots and lots of Manuka trees.  They make Manuka Honey here and a lot of healthy things from the Manuka trees.
We passed a Red Deer farm.  Quite a few of the restaurants have venison on their menus.

Looking into Kaipara Harbour.  There is a North and South Head here.  We drove to the South Head today.  Maybe one day we will drive to the North Head of this harbour but it will probably have to be an overnight trip.
We drove to the end of the road and then parked.  We hiked down to Mosquito Bay.  The trail was very steep.  It was covered with pine needles so it was a little slippery.  It was not too long of a hike just steep.
Nada about half way down the trail to the beach.
This is Mosquito Bay.  There was one other person down here and he was fishing.  They have this little river running out to the bay. They had a one way culvert.  The door would let the water run into the ocean but it closed against the ocean water being able to go back up into the river.  It was very quiet and peaceful.

 We found a Jelly Fish on the beach.
The sand had interesting movement in it.  The sand did not get hard even where it had been wet.  We would sink quite a bit when we walked.
There are some interesting birds here.  This is another type of Oystercatcher.

The trail was fenced off with this turn style to climb over to get in and out.  Probably trying to keep animals out.

Below is a harvested corn field.  There were acres and acres of these cut down corn fields in this area.

We hope you enjoyed our journey to South Head in Kaipara Harbour today.  We had a nice, new adventure. 
There is so much to see and do here. 

We are grateful to be serving in such a beautiful country.  We love our mission, the other missionaries and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are well and doing our best to serve and help the people in the Pacific.  Take care until next time.
Love, Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

We wanted to wish our youngest son, Kip, Happy 31st Birthday today, July 13, 2015.  We love him and appreciate he and Jaki and their kids living in our house and taking care of things so we can be here serving The Lord.  Have a great day!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Saturday July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

We are experiencing a cold and rainy 4th of July unlike Utah that is experiencing a hot sunny 4th of July.  We got up and went with Elder and Sister Whidden and Elder and Sister Winters to the temple.  It rained most of the way.  The temple was very busy today.  It was great to be there.  We ran into quite a few people that work at the Area Office who were working at the temple today.

It had stopped raining and was a little nicer when we came out of the temple.  We drove straight home and changed clothes because we are having a 4th of July Family Home Evening beginning at   4 p.m.  We walked over to the Area Office to be with the other senior missionaries and have a fun time. 

We sang patriotic songs and had a nice lesson on comparing what was going on in the US during the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition with what was going on in the Church at the same time. It was very interesting.

Then the fun began.  We actually had a picnic meal.  The two couples in charge of Family Home Evening grilled hamburgers with all the fixings, fresh vegetable trays and potato chips, so good!

We played a few Minute To Win It games.  We did a lot of laughing and had a lot of fun.

The first game was trying to keep hitting 2 balloons and trying to keep them in the air and not hit the ground for 1 minute.  The next group had to try to suck up a Skittle with a straw and keep it on the end of the straw until you could transfer it to another plate.  Some did really well at this game, some not so well.

The next round of games Nada had to put panty hose on her head with a tennis ball in one leg and try to knock over the water bottles.  It is much harder than it looks!

Reed below had to do the same game.  He did better than Nada.

Above is the group of senior missionaries serving in the Auckland New Zealand Mission. Some of us serve in the Area Office, some at the Mission Office and some serve as MLS Missionaries, Self-Reliant Missionaries and Records Preservation Missionaries.  It is a great group.

In the top picture the winning team is sporting their Fourth of July glasses they received as their prize while the others are showing their plastic Fourth of July rings they won as consolation prizes.  All were good sports.

When we were finished playing the games they served the root beer floats.  So yummy.

This was a great Family Home Evening.  We missed celebrating with our family but are grateful to serve here in New Zealand with such great people and have a fun 4th of July Celebration.

We hope you all had a great 4th of July and were able to enjoy being with family and or friends.

The Gospel is true.  No matter where we are there are always great people who care and are striving to be obedient to Our Father In Heavens commandments.  Keep moving forward doing great things.

Until next time.  Love, Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Wednesday June 24, 2015

This week we have been mostly doing our second mission as ITEP Coordinators.  As the coordinators we are responsible to get our incoming and outgoing missionaries to and from the airport, make the hotel reservations, feed and entertain them. Elder and Sister Hammond finished their mission in Apia Samoa and are headed back to Idaho.  We picked them up at the airport on Tuesday and waited forever for them to get through customs.  They hassled them about a Kava bowl they were carrying.

Judy, our new Administrative Assistant, and I went to the Shoalhaven Apartments where Reed and I live and where the flat that we have been using these last couple of months A213 is to make beds, clean and have it ready for Michael and Matt to stay in.  We figure if we are paying rent on it until the new couple come in August we might as well save the $249 a night per room at the Spencer Hotel when they are staying more than two days.  They both stayed for a week so we saved the Church a lot of money.

We have also been attending the strategic planning meetings for 2016.  We have Michael Carthew here.  He is going to be Bruce Yerman's replacement beginning the end of July which is the Director of Church Schools. It was good to have him be here and have a lot of input with all the changes happening.  There was also a man from Salt Lake by the name of Matt Pope who works with the Church Schools and S&I but lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We were able to accomplish a lot during the two days of planning with the whole team here.

On Wednesday we left the meetings at noon and took Elder and Sister Hammond to explore a little of the Auckland area. That is another benefit about being the coordinators.  It is our job to entertain the couples while they are here for those couple of days to report if they are leaving or do their training if they are just coming into the mission field.

We decided to head to the Waitakere and do a little hiking and beach walking.  It was probably the coldest day we have had since we arrived in New Zealand.  But whenever the sun came out it was bearable.  The high today was 11 Celsius which is 51.8 Fahrenheit.  Not real cold but with the wind blowing off the water is feels colder.

Beautiful cabbage tree with an interesting house above it.  We took them to Karekare Falls for the first stop.
This is a New Zealand Black Bird.  A little different from the ones in Utah.

Karekare Falls is very beautiful.  The way the water spreads out over the rocks is so interesting.  Elder and Sister Hammond and Nada.  We really enjoyed being with them.  They were our replacements in Samoa so it was fun to talk about places and people we knew.  It has been great to see the teachers we worked hard with finish up their Teaching Certificates with the Hammonds.
After the waterfall we hiked down to Karekare Beach.  That was interesting.  We started on the road we took a couple of weeks ago and it got muddier and wetter as we went.  Reed said lets walk on the grassy part and it was like a bog.  After we got our feet wet to our ankles we all turned back to find a different, dryer path.  It was much nicer.
On the beach the wind was blowing pretty hard.  You can see the wind blowing the mist from the ocean across the beach.
Beautiful water, waves and rock formations.

Above Nada and Sister Hammond walking Karekare Beach!

To the left we had to cross a little river to get back to the car.  Reed gave Nada and Sister Hammond a piggyback.  He told Elder Hammond he was on his own.  This was a duck just sitting in the shallow water.  He was a little different colored.  The bird is a Paradise Duck.  We had not seen one with a total white head before.
We then drove a little farther to Piha Beach.  The waves were really crashing and the wind really picked up.
Lions Rock.  One of these times we are going to hike to the top but today it was too cold and windy.
Reed went up the trail on Lions Rock just a little bit.  We did not want to get our feet wet crossing this little river so Elder and Sister Hammond and Nada just watched him.
There were a couple of people out trying to surf with wet suits on.  They didn't last too long.  We returned the Hammonds to their hotel around 3:30 and we went home changed and headed to do an education devotional for the Waterview Stake.  It was on the way back from where we had been all day.

On Thursday we did the exit interview with the Hammonds and then we took them to the airport.  We got them all checked n and left them only to find out the next day their flight got cancelled right at the time of departure and then they had one crazy experience after another until they arrived in Idaho.

We just wanted to share with you some of the things we do as ITEP Coordinators here in New Zealand.  It is great fun to experience different things.  It keeps things exciting.  Between being the Education Specialist Coordinators and the ITEP Coordinators these last 5 and 1/2 months we have been able to keep very busy and have many different kinds of experiences.

Until next time.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer