Sunday, 31 January 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016. 

These are some of the plants on our deck.  You can see how sad our tomato plant is.  We are keeping it barely alive so we can harvest the 12 tomatoes off of it.  We think it is just too hot and windy for it.                                
We are headed to Sydney Australia.  We flew into Sydney and Elder Johnny Leota picked us up.  He is the Self-Reliance Manager for Sydney and Melbourne.  He was our Mission President when we served in Samoa.  He is also the Area Seventy for Sydney.  It was so good to see him.  He took us to temple housing which is where we are going to stay for the week.  It used to be a motel and the Church bought it.  It was fine.  After we checked in he took us to lunch and then we went to the Service Center to meet people and pick up a van that we would drive while we were there.

We met Elder and Sister Myers and Elder and Sister Jose at the rooms.  They are our Self-Reliance and Education Specialist Missionaries from Melbourne.  He flew them up so we could train all of them at the same time.

These are the rooms at Temple Housing.  Elder and Sister Myers getting into the van we used while in Sydney.

We all met at the Self-Reliance Center to head to the Villawood chapel to do a two hour leadership training on the Pacific Area Education Initiative.

Wednesday morning we headed to Hebersham chapel and spoke to a  group of mums from 10:00 a.m. to noon.  A YM/YW group from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and a YSA group from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  I did not take any pictures.  On Thursday we did the same schedule at Prairiewood chapel.  I introduced us and bore my testimony then Reed did all the training.  He was pretty exhausted each night.  To the left is the group of mums.  We had 70 women there and about 50 children that we provided a nursery for.  I held a one year old boy most of the time.  He was so cute and loving.  It gave me my grandma fix.                                                                                                                                                     
Below is the YM/YW group at the Prairiewood chapel.  We had over 50 youth attend.  We felt pretty good about that since it was in the middle of the afternoon on a week day during Summer break.

Reed presenting during the afternoon
Thursday evening YSA group.  The twins on the front row are both nurses and both returned missionaries.  They had come to a couple of trainings.  They were a lot of fun and we spent a lot of time talking with them. 
By the time the YSA meeting started Thursday night we had 50 there.  They were very responsive and a lot of them talked to us after we finished.  We went home very tired that night.  Reed did a great job.

Friday we spent the day at the Self-Reliance Center training the four couples and discussing next steps.  We all went to the 5:00 o'clock session at the Sydney Temple together.  It was very nice.  We saw Sister Mauga, a single sister we served with in Samoa working at the Temple.  It was so nice to see her.  We did not take any pictures of the Temple.  We were just so busy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016.  Elder Leota gave us all the day off and we headed to the Blue Mountains.  It was about an hour and a half drive to Scenic World where they have a gondola, tram and train you can ride to different views and hiking trails.

A view of the Blue Mountains from the aerial tram ride.

The cliffs had quite a bit of red in them.  There are a lot of Blue Gum trees here, that is why they are called the Blue Mountains.
Reed and Nada standing in front of the Katoomba Cascade Falls.
This is called a Rough Tree Fern.  They are a little taller and the bark much rougher than the tree ferns here in New Zealand.  This was a beautiful hike.
In the Blue Mountains they have these formations they call the Three Sisters.  You cannot get right up to them.

This is a Cockatoo.  He did not come any closer.  I saw some others really close up but I did not have the camera.
They call this rock formation Orphan Rock.
We road the tram one way and then hiked back to the main building.
 A Blue Gum loosing its bark.
The group deciding which trail we wanted to take back.

Riding the steepest train in the world.
A better view of the Three Sisters

This is the track for the train.  It went through a tunnel.  You can see the track coming out of the tunnel.
The Blue Gum trees are so pretty.  The air smells different here because of all the eucalyptus trees.
This is the cable for the gondola ride.  We rode the train down, hiked around the bottom trails and then took the gondola back up to the gift shop.
 A close shot of Orphan Rock.
We took the aerial tram back over to the other side so we could get a better shot of Katoomba Falls.

We had a really great time.  The temperature was perfect and the Blue Mountains were beautiful.  We headed back to Sydney and stopped in the town called Katoomba for lunch.  It was a nice small town.

Katoomba town center.

We then drove to the town of Leura.  This was a very quaint tourist town.  We walked in and out of all the little shops and just enjoyed site seeing.  We really had a great day.  Reed lost his wallet in this little town.  We did not realize it until Sunday morning.  The lady in the shop where he dropped it found it.  She tried to call us from our business card in the wallet but our phone was dead.  She is not a member but called the local LDS Bishop and he called Elder and Sister Elliss.  We were able to have Elder and Sister Dinger that were going to Leura for meetings pick it up and return it to us.  Nothing was missing.  We felt truly blessed.  We were so thankful to Wendy who went out of her way to find us and return the wallet to us.  Heavenly Father does answer prayers and there are still a lot of very good people out there.
Reed, Nada, Elder & Sister Elliss, Sister & Elder Mackay, (both serving in Sydney) Sister & Elder Myers, Sister & Elder Jose, (both serving in Melbourne) Sister & Elder Leota. 

Reed, Nada, Betty and Johnny Leota.  They invited all of us to their home for dinner.  We really enjoyed being in their home and the food was very delicious.  Reed and I spoke in three different sacrament meetings and then did a two hour leadership meeting Sunday evening, January 24, 2016.  It was our last day in Sydney. 
Below is a picture of a Lorikeet.  He and another one just sat in this tree by the stairs going to our room for a long time.  We stood there talking to them and taking pictures and they never flew off.  There are so many beautiful birds in Australia.
At temple housing you have to clean your own room.  They give you fresh sheets and towels and then you clean the room and leave it ready for the next patrons. 

Elder Leota picked us up at 6:30 a.m. Monday the 25th of January and we headed to the airport.  We arrived back in Auckland at 4:00 p.m.  It was a great week.  We worked really hard while we were in Sydney but felt very good about it.  We felt like those missionaries now understand how to train and work on the Education Initiative.  We had Church Service Missionaries attend a couple of the trainings and some of the Self-Reliance Specialists attended as well.  They can move forward now and hopefully be able to help their people help each other.  The leaders who attended the trainings and the Sacrament Meetings talked to us and to the other missionaries and asked how they could get things started.  If they get started helping their ward members and own families our trip will be well worth it.

We are so grateful for this opportunity and all the other opportunities we have to help the good work move forward.  We feel so blessed and know that Heavenly Father is watching over us.  Reed's wallet being found and returned was a miracle for us.  We felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost over and over during the training sessions and while we were speaking during the Sacrament Meetings.  
We hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to Sydney Australia.  We are well and busy doing what we can to help the good people here in the Pacific move forward with education, training and becoming self-reliant. 
We love you all, until next time.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)


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