Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hello everyone.  On Monday, October 19, 2015 it was Reeds 64th Birthday.  We went to work as usual.  We had training most of the day with Elder and Sister Henderson to turn over the ITEP Coordinator position to them.  Michael Carthew, the new Assistant to the Area Director over Church Schools was here and he was involved with some of the training since he is new as well.  Actually Reed and I have been involved with ITEP more than anyone else here in the Pacific at this time. 

Our office on the ground floor, Self-Reliance/Education/Welfare had a birthday morning tea for him.  We had some really good food there along with a birthday cake.  Then we had lunch with Seminary and Institutes along with birthday cake.  He was spoiled with well wishers.

We were also able to Skype with all the kids which is the best gift of all.

I bought Reed, Neil Diamond, tickets and the concert was on his actual birthday.  We drove Elder and Sister Preator, new public relations missionaries with us and met Elder and Sister Fugal and Art Edson and his wife De at Dos Amigos for dinner.

We had mentioned we were celebrating his birthday and when we got up to pay the bill they told us to sit back down.  They brought these four churros with hot fudge chocolate to dip them in and sang Happy Birthday to Reed.
Reed celebrating his birthday at Dos Amigos a pretty good Mexican Restaurant!

We then headed to the Vector Arena in downtown Auckland to the Neil Diamond concert.   We have never seen that many old people all in one place at a time.  The excitement in the air was contagious.  It was interesting because Nada sat next to a lady that was a member of the church.  She was fun to talk to and the manager of public relations at the Area Office used to be her Bishop.  Small world!
They were having people tweet in.  We were saying let's go Neil as well.
We did not tweet but we were excited to be at a Neil Diamond concert in Auckland and it was AWESOME!

For a 70+ man he can still move around the stage and perform.  His band was so good.  When they did close ups of them most of them look as old as Neil Diamond.  They sure can perform. They were all very fun to watch.

He sang for 2 solid hours.  He sang some of his new songs and a lot of his oldie but goodie songs.

It was a very fun evening.  We are so grateful that Elder and Sister Fugal had purchased some extra tickets and offered them to us.  We enjoyed good company, good food and great music.  Reed said it was a very special birthday.

We have enjoyed having the Hendersons here.  They are a great couple and will do a good job.  We are still busy trying to train them and help them understand what needs to be done.  We are also trying to teach them about ITEP and TVET and what we expect from our missionaries serving at the different Church Schools.  We have really enjoyed staying involved with the ITEP program and will miss that part of this mission.  However, we are glad to only be doing one mission from now on.  We have started being really busy with our Education Specialist Mission now that we are getting other couples called to come and serve here in the Pacific.  We are trying to train them and write booklets, do workshops and devotionals.  Life is busy but that is good.  We hope we can make a difference.  The Gospel is true and we are grateful to be serving here in Auckland, New Zealand in the Pacific Area Office.  We have learned a lot and rubbed shoulders with some great leaders.  We are well and trying to do what The Lord wants us to do.  Until next time.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)


Thursday, 12 November 2015

On Monday October 5th we made a trip to the airport to pick up Elder and Sister Wood and Elder and Sister Simmons.  They have both been serving in Tonga and are coming to New Zealand to have their exit interviews before they go home.  We picked them up in the early afternoon and asked if they wanted to go to the hotel or do a little exploring of New Zealand.  They wanted to tour so we headed to the Waitakere.  There is so much to see and do in the Waitakere but most tourists don't head out there.  We wanted them to see some different things.

Nada, Suzie and Bob Wood, Elder and Sister Simmons eating fruit infused ice cream.  They loved it!

Next stop the Gannett Colony at Muriwai Beach.   It was very windy and a little cool but so beautiful.

One of the reasons they nest here is because of the wind current when they are teaching their new baby birds to fly.
The Gannett birds mate for life.  They start arriving back in August and come to the same exact nesting spot with the same mates.  They are happy to see each other because when they fly to Australia during the late Summer, Fall and Winter they separate until they come back here to mate again.

Muriwai beach is beautiful.  It was high tide and with the wind the water was quite rough.

We had never seen this blow hole before.  We had never been there during high tide.  It made an awesome sound when it shot up.
Nada and Reed with the Tasman Sea and all the Gannetts in the background.  You can see we were still in our missionary attire.  We were doing our missionary work, taking care of our ITEP couples!
You can see the Gannett birds on the tops of the two main ledges. 

We took them to the Parry Kauri Park.  This Kauri tree is 800 years old.  It is hard to believe how big they are until you stand next to one.  They were very impressed.
This is the Silver Fern which appears on a lot of things here in New Zealand.  They are actually trying to change the official country flag to have the Silver Fern on it.
There are wild Calla Lilley's growing all over the place right now.
We headed back because it was getting dark and everyone was getting tired.  We stopped in Waiwera (there are some very nice natural thermal hot pools here) for dinner at Woody's.  It is a small café and bar with great food.  The owner, Woody, waited on us and cooked our food.  We heard he is retiring and will close down in about a month.  Too bad, his food is very good and reasonable.

On Tuesday we had both of their exit interviews with Michael Carthew calling in via Polycom and Aaron (the director of all S&I and Church Schools here in the Pacific) came in for part of both exit interviews.  We then took them to the airport to get a rental car because they are going to go south for a few days to tour together.  This is one of the perks of being the ITEP Coordinators.  Doing the training, exit interviews and spending time with these wonderful Senior Missionaries.

Reed and I stayed out in South Auckland after we dropped them off because we were doing a Young Men/Young Women workshop on Education in the Otara Stake.  We went to the Self-Reliance Service Center in Manukau and visited with the Mickelsons and Moses and worked for a while.  Then we headed to our workshop at 5:30 p.m.

Reed did a great job.  It was a Samoan language unit.  The kids asked some good questions as did the leaders.  There were quite a few parents there as well.  Hopefully they will help each other get some study groups and language groups going.

On Friday, October 9, 2015, we arrived at the airport at 7:30 a.m.to pick up Elder and Sister Edwards who are going to be our TVET couple at Saineha in Tonga.  This was the first time we were late.  Their plane arrive half an hour early and they got right through customs.  They said they had said a little prayer and then there I was at the sliding doors to the airport.  We felt bad.  They were fine but we felt a little bad.  We trained for a few hours that day and took them to their hotel at 1:00 p.m. 

On Saturday we trained from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m with Ameet who is over all the TVET for the Church Schools.  Elder and Sister Wood showed up to get their luggage we had been storing for them so they were able to meet the Edwards and we were able to say a final good bye.

Saying our final goodbyes to Elder and Sister Wood.  We will really  miss them.  They are headed to Australia to stay with a daughter and grandkids for a month then heading home to Utah.

This is the map of the Pacific Area with all the different countries and missions it includes.

We took Elder and Sister Edwards to the airport about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.  They wanted to see the New Zealand MTC so we drove them there on the way to the airport.  It is in a nice location and sits on a hill overlooking the Manukau Bay and city.  We had a busy but great weekend.

We hope you enjoyed seeing some of the great things we get to do as Area ITEP Coordinators and as Area Education Specialist Coordinators..  We have made a lot of  early morning trips to pick up new missionaries and a lot of afternoon trips to take them to the airport to head to their countries for their missions and to head home when they have finished their missions.  It has been great to see both sides, the new ones and the ones who have finished with  honour.  We feel so blessed.  We work hard and have learned to enjoy every minute of free time to explore this beautiful country.  We love the Gospel, we love being able to serve our Father-In-Heaven and we love all of you. 
Until next time.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada) 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Saturday, October 3, 2015 we decided to take a trip out to the Waitakere to a new place.  The Waitakere is a Regional Park and mountainous with lots of hiking trails and waterfalls.  It also includes many different bays and beaches, very beautiful.  We love going out here and it is only about an hour drive from Auckland.
Usually we go to the central portion of the Waitakere and today we decided to go to the southern area.  First bay we stopped at was Mill Bay.  The beach was short but not many people stopping.
 The weather was a little cool but the water was a pretty colour.  Nice little bay.
We crossed the narrow river on the foot bridge.

We love to just walk along the beaches and enjoy the waves and the breeze.

 Next stop was Cornwallis Beach.  All these Variable Oystercatchers were on one part of the beach.  As Reed approached they all lifted off the beach together.  To the right is the Cornwallis Old Wharf.
 The trees here in New Zealand are so big and interesting.

 We decided to walk all the way to the end of the wharf.  It has been rebuilt and the different planks had names on them from donors.
 The water was very clear and very deep.
 Beautiful view of the bay.
 The tide was all the way up to the seawall in Huia.
Mast from the HMS Orpheus worst shipwreck in New Zealand in 1863.  It was recovered 121 years later and given to the Huia Settlers Museum

These two ladies were volunteering in the museum and were full of knowledge of the area.  We really enjoyed visiting with them.

Above is Whatipu Lodge and the beautiful mountains of the Waitakere.  The old building is a very clean outhouse.
Whatipu reserve had a lodge, camp sites, a light house, caves and beautiful walks.
 This beach was huge.  The sand was very soft in some areas you would almost sink up to your ankles just walking.  The beaches in the Waitakere are black sand.
Looking towards Manukau Bay to the left and the Tasman Sea to the right.  Off this point is where the shipwreck took place.

The Tasman sea.  Interesting rock formation.
The light house was on this rock.  When the tide is out you can walk all the way out to the rock and climb up to around.
 We walked the beach for around an hour and did not even come close to the end.  We could have kept going for at least another hour but we decided to head back to the lodge area and try to find the caves.

Nada standing below the light house.  The wind really picked up when the clouds came in and it was pretty cool.  Then the sun came back out and it warmed back up.

We got back to the lodge area and found the trail to the caves.  There was a stream running most of the way.  It had been raining most of the week so the ground was very soggy and the stream had overflown in some areas.

 There were five different caves that we hiked to.  You can see Reed's shadow while taking this picture.  Nada is already part way in the cave.
 This was the main cave.  It was huge.  It goes back another 30 feet or so from where Nada is standing.  There were a couple of different coves inside the cave.  Someone had a party in the big cavern and left a lot of rubbish.
This cave had quite a bit of water in it.
The Tasman Sea is just on the other side of those rocks but you could not see it from this trail hiking to the caves.
Some we did not go very far in because they had quite a bit of water in them.  Others were very shallow caves.

We had a very nice p-day today.  We really love exploring and saw some new things today.  We left Whatipu Reserve around 6:30 p.m. as it was getting dark.  We work hard all week and try to use our Saturdays for exploring new and exciting places.  We feel blessed to serve here and see so many beautiful areas.  We hope you enjoyed our day in the Waitakere today.  We love you all and love The Lord.  We know He watches over us and blesses and guides us.  Until next time, Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)