Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016 we had a farewell potluck for Elder Gary and Sister Susan Winters.  They are our Humanitarian Missionaries and have served in the same office space with us since we arrived in November.  They arrived in September so we have been with them a long time.  It is kind of hard to say goody-bye to not only missionaries but friends.  We have been on quite a few adventures with them.  We will really miss them.

Louisa in front then Elder Winters, Elder Maughan, Sister Winters and Sister Maughan.  Elder and Sister Maughan are their replacements.  We will get to know them since we will be working in the same office space for the next 7 months.
Elder and Sister Winters in front of the food.  It was a very nice lunch.  We had two different cakes so they could invite other people down to say good-bye plus we celebrated birthdays of three of the people who work in the office.
Elder Bennett and Elder Winters having some lunch.
Nada and Susan saying good bye.

We will really miss them.  Serving a mission together is great.  Not only are you missionaries together but you become friends and depend on each other since they are like your family while you are away from home. We are glad they live in the Sandy area so we will be able to stay in touch.

They were great missionaries and helped us out a lot when we were new here.

The gospel is true.  Making new friends while serving together is one of those blessings.

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

On Saturday, March 5, 2016 we headed to Wenderholme Regional Park for a YSA activity.  They had an all day activity. We arrived about 11:00 a.m.  We were tired from all the travel and needed to get some things done earlier.  When we arrived most of the kids had arrived and the games were beginning.
The YSA gathered around getting instructions of what games they were going to play.
Elder and Sister Mickelsen, Self-Reliance Missionaries and also in the YSA Ward with us, talking with Brother Renata who is the high councilor over YSA for Manukau Stake.
Some of the young men were cooking the lamb and chicken.  It was very good, they did a great job.
Brother and Sister Pome'e arriving with their children.  He is the second counselor in the bishopric.
Getting ready for a tug of war.  Brother Tauili'ili giving them instructions.  He is the first counselor in the bishopric.

The above team and this team are going against each other.  Can you guess which team won?  The team above, but they were mostly men and this team had a lot more girls.
It was a pretty serious tug of war.  These guys are strong.

Nada and Sister Tafiti, the bishops wife.  She is such a good lady.
After a few games it was time to eat.
They always make us lady senior missionaries go first and then the girls then the men.
These are seriously large salads.  I always worry because even here they bring salads with mayonnaise, play, talk and then eat.  At least they had them covered and not in the direct hot sun.  No one got sick.  There was not much left by the end of the day.

Reed talking to Bishop Tafiti's kids while they are eating.  They had set up mats, blankets and tents.  They were there the whole day.  Reed is ready to go in the water.

Reed snorkelling.  Not much to see but he gets in the water when he can.  The weather was very nice today.

Some of the kids played card games.
They do not wear swimming suits.  They just got in the water with their clothes on.  They really get along well together and had a lot of fun.  We really appreciate how much they include us in their activities and events.

Sister Mickelsen and Nada walking down to the beach to watch the kids playing water games.

We had a great day at the beach.  We left around 3:00 p.m. because we needed to do some shopping and finish laundry from being gone for two weeks.

We really love being in the Auckland YSA 1st Ward.

On Sunday, March 6, 2016 they finally released Bishop Tafiti.  He has been acting as Bishop and Stake President for six weeks now.  We are very sad to see him and his family go but he will be a great Stake President.  Brother Tauili'ili was put in again as the first counsellor to the new bishop but Brother Pome'e was released.  We will really miss this cute little family.  Always changes.

We are so grateful to be serving here in New Zealand.  We live in a beautiful country with so much to see and do.  We are blessed to serve with the YSA and their leaders.  We are trying to do our best.

We love you all.  Until next time, Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Friday February 26, 2016.  Elder Johnson took us to the airport at 5:30 a.m.and we boarded a plane to fly to Melbourne.  Elder Leota wanted us to come back to Australia and do some training in Melbourne so he and Carl decided to have us come back to back and share the cost.  We landed in Melbourne at 10:00 a.m. and Elder and Sister Myers picked us up.  We went to their house to drop off our luggage because they are going to let us stay with them because they have three bedrooms, two baths and it will save time and money.  It was fun to stay with them and get to know them better.

We wanted to go to Queen Victoria Market so after we unpacked we headed to town.  We went to the market when we visited in December of 2013 on our way home from our Samoan Mission and I really wanted to go there again.  It is the greatest market place.
Reed loved being in Melbourne again and recognizing some of the old buildings to the right and new buildings above.
 They sold quite a few Aboriginal art pieces.  This market has all kinds of clothes, art, purses, crafts, boots, ties, leather products, etc.  We bought some gifts to take home to our granddaughters.  Most of the products are well made and a decent price.
Besides all the crafts and clothing booths they have rows and rows of fresh fruit and vegetables for sale.  Some of which we have never heard of or seen before.
They also have a deli area with so many different kinds of cheeses, olives, sausages, smoked meats, etc.
Then they have a whole meat market with any kind of meat you can think of to buy.  We had a wonderful time walking around, eating, and shopping.  If you ever get to Melbourne do not miss The Queen Victoria Market!  Elder and Sister Jose met us and we had a fun time together.

Elder and Sister Myers and Reed and I headed about an hour out of town to see some sand sculptures.  We arrived five minutes after they closed and they would not let us in.  We walked around the fence and looked through the cracks.  They are pretty fancy sand sculptures.  Wish we could have seen them all and up close.

We walked around the park area over to the bay which leads out to the Tasman Sea.  You can see the sand sculptures behind us.  Beautiful day and area.
 Headed back into town and stopped at Saint Kilda Pier to wait for dusk to watch the penguins come to shore.  We went over to the pier where the big cruise ships dock and had some very good fish and chips.  Elder and Sister Myers then Elder Jose.  Other side Nada and Sister Jose.

Nada walking on Saint Kilda Pier.  Someone was throwing food into the air to keep the birds there so they could take pictures.  I had to borrow a jacket from Sister Myers.  It was so hot in New Zealand and Brisbane I forgot to take a jacket.  It was quite cool in Melbourne and I had to pretty much wear the jacket everyday.
Looking through the sailboats in the harbour to downtown Melbourne.
The penguins did come out as it started getting dark.  You could see them swimming in the water and then climbing up on the rocks.  They were hard to get a good picture of in the dark because you were not allowed to use a flash.  More of them probably came out after all the people left.

Reed and I standing in front of the Melbourne Temple.  It is about 1/2 an hour out of town.  Beautiful area and Temple.  We were able to do a session at 9:00 a.m.  We then changed our clothes in the church across the parking lot and headed to the Dandenongs for the day.

First stop was in a town by the name of Sassafras.  Very cute little town with fun shops and nice people
Next stop was a town called Olinda.  We ate at this restaurant called Pie in the Sky.  They serve great meat pies here.  They do not have these kind of meat pies in the United States.  Very good and everyone eats them in Australia and New Zealand.
There were a lot of fun shops here as well.  I would have bought some things but I have no more room to get things home.
Stopped at a place called Sky High for some great views of the Dandenong Mountains, surrounding areas and looking back to Melbourne.  They had a machine by this maze putting out a lot of bubbles.
 Nada and Sister Jose is the gardens at Sky High.
Next stop the Chocolatier Store.  Oh my, chocolate everyone.  Nada is trying to take a bit out of this giant chocolate bar outside the factory.
They were preparing for Easter.  They had lots of giant chocolate bunnies and eggs.  It was pretty good chocolate.  They had all different bars with different flavours some were called bush tucker and different herbs.  Very interesting.  The chocolate was good but I don't think they were as good as Sees Chocolates.
Nada and Sister Jose checking out the lime, lemon, and apricot trees which they used in the different chocolate candy..  It was fun to visit and we took chocolates back to Auckland for friends and our office mates.
On the way back to Melbourne we saw these kangaroos hopping in a field by the side of the road.  Not something you would every see anywhere else.  Reed said he never saw this when he served in Melbourne as a young missionary.

We went to a park and there were these kangaroos sitting on the side of the road.  As we got close they starting hopping away.  Very interesting animals.  It was really fun to watch them and see them like this.
Reed standing in the parking lot of the Fairfield Chapel.  Brought back a lot of memories.  He said this is where they always came on transfer day.  He shared some fun stories with us.  We went to a High Priest meeting Saturday evening.

On Sunday morning, the 28th of February, after church we headed to 1216 Burke Road where the Mission Home was when Reed served in 1970 - 1972.  The Mission Home is gone but we walked around these new houses and Reed shared some more wonderful memories of his mission.  I was so glad to be there with him but felt sad that he could not see his old Mission Home again.

Elder Myers in front of their home.  We fixed a really nice dinner and had Elder and Sister Jose come over for dinner as well.  That afternoon we went for a walk around the park about 10 minutes away from their home to see some beautiful birds.  Below these two Lorakeets were singing in one of the trees but we didn't see any other fancy birds.

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk around the park about 10 minutes away from their home.  Sister Myers said they usually see really pretty birds there.  We did see these Lorikeets but no other colourful birds today.  Maybe they are out more in the mornings.  That evening we drove to the Deer Park chapel and did a YSA devotional with about 300 in attendance.  It went very well.  We talked with people for over half an hour after and finally had to excuse ourselves to go home.
Monday, February 29, 2016, (Leap Year) we headed back to the Deer Park chapel to do a parent meeting at 10:30 a.m.  We had 18 parents there including a stake president and bishop.  It went very well.  Lots of good questions and interest.  Reed really is a very good teacher.  Heavenly Father has prepared him his whole life for this mission.
That evening we had off so we took the train into the city.  Reed wanted to walk around and see what he remembered.  He remembers this church across the street from Flinder's Street Train Station.
Flinder's Stree Station where we arrived into the city on the train.  As we passed some of the suburbs Reed remembered some but not all.
As we walked up the street some of the trees had these colourful knitted wraps on them.  Not sure what they are for.
Reed wanted to go to the library.  It is a beautiful library.  He spent a lot of his p-days here.  Again shared some of his fun mission memories.
Nada, Sister Myers and Elder Myers acting like we were studying in the reading room.
The University is right across the street.  This is one of the science buildings.
Tuesday morning, March 1, 2016, we got up early and went back to the park to see if we could see some birds.  Yeah we were successful.  We saw these beautiful Gallahs.

We saw a whole flock of Cockatoos.  Australia truly has some beautiful birds.  We saw quite a few yellow and green parrots as well.

This is a Gray Gum tree.  They are so cool looking.
We did another parent group at the Fairfield chapel at 10:30 a.m.  I don't know how they were promoting these but everyone that ended up coming said they wished they would have known what they were going to be about and they would have encouraged more of their friends to come.  Some asked if we could do another one, if we could come back and some asked if they could do workshops in their homes for the non-member friends.
We me with Elder Leota and our missionaries for some specific training with just them and then had a new MLS couple come in to work with us on some English Language helps.  They have been assigned to the Chinese branch and are helping them learn English.  That evening we did a leadership training with about 80 people in attendance.  It took us over half an hour to get out of the building.  People are really showing a lot of interest in education and how they can help their own children and families and help the members in their wards.  This is what we have been hoping for.

Wednesday morning, March 2nd we had to drive about an hour to get to a parent meeting at NarreWarren Stake by 10:30 a.m.  We had 51 parents in attendance and Sister Jose and I did a nursery for 16 children.  What a great turnout.  People were excited about what Reed had to share and asked a lot of questions. 
Sister Julie Bielenberg, the Stake Relief Society President, had us over to her house for a very nice lunch because we had to do a leadership training in this same building Wednesday evening.  The people have been so good to us.  That evening we had over 90 people in attendance.  Some great feedback after the meeting.  A lot of leaders with questions of how to get started.  We told Elder and Sister Myers and Elder and Sister Jose, "We have planted the seeds, now it is your job to help them grow!"  I think they will be able to stay very busy.

Thursday morning, March 3, 2016, Elder Leota came and picked us up to take us to the airport.  His flight left at 11 and our flight left at 11:55 a.m. so it worked out good.  We had such a great time training and meeting all these new people.  We really enjoyed getting to know Elder and Sister Myers and Elder and Sister Jose better.  We went home very tired but felt like we had done what we were called to do.
We feel very blessed for all the wonderful experiences we have had so far on this mission.  We have been places we never thought we would ever see.  To visit Reed's old mission area was a real treat for him and for me.  To be able to see and be in the places he has talked about many times was great.
We know the gospel is true.  We know how important this Education Initiative is.  We see many wonderful things coming together.  It is great to see The Lord is in charge.
We love you all and hope things are well in your neck of the woods.  Things are moving forward here in the Pacific.  Until next time, Love, Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)