Sunday, 20 March 2016

On Wednesday, February 17, 2016 we had to drive to Hamilton to pick up Elder and Sister Benjamin to take them to the airport.  Since we were already going to Hamilton Elder Pearson asked us to pick up a white suit from the temple there because he was participating in the Temple Dedication in Fiji over the weekend. 

Elder and Sister Benjamin arrived in December but Elder Benjamin just was struggling with driving on the left side of the road, the food and some others things and wasn't eating well.  He had lost 20 pounds and the Mission President decided to give them a medical release.  Above is Elder and Sister Benjamin and Arama their Self-Reliance Manger outside of where they had their office in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Sister Benjamin was very sad about leaving but knew they needed to get Elder Benjamin some help.  We had a nice visit on the way to the airport and bid them farewell.  We have heard from them since and he is already doing so much better.

On Saturday Feb. 20th 2016 we flew to Brisbane to do trainings and devotionals again.  Elder and Sister Johnson picked us up and since it was Saturday we decided to see some things we did not get to see last time we came.

We headed toward the Sunshine Coast and first stop was the Eumundi Saturday Market.  This was a great market.  We arrived toward closing time but still walked around and found a couple of great souvenirs and had some good food.  I wish we had a market like this in New Zealand.  We have a couple of nice ones but nothing this large.
Then we went to the Ginger Factory and Macadamia Nut Factory.  I had no idea there were that many different types of ginger.  We bought some macadamia nuts, plain and with different toppings.  Way yum!

We then went to a park where we saw beautiful gum trees and there was supposed to be a waterfall but it had been so dry that there was no waterfall today.
Elder Johnson,  Sister Spencer and Sister Johnson walking through a beautiful park.  I forgot to write the name down.  The air smells different because of all the Eucalyptus trees.  Reed has been reading a book about all the different Eucalypts and wants to see them and learn all about them.
These purple blossoms are so beautiful and colourful.  We just had to take a picture
These are the Glass Mountains.  The picture really picks up the moisture in the air.  This area received its name when a ship captain from England saw these mountains.  He thought they looked like the glass houses in England.
We walked through this rain forest.  These are Flying Foxes (bats) just hanging in the trees along the trail.
This is a Rose Gum.  It was beautiful and huge.  The sign said that it is probably 500 - 600 years old.  They are very rare because of the change in climate in the world.
These are Picobee Palm Trees.  Very different than other Palm trees we have seen, the leaves and the trunk are different.
This vine growing and crossing the path and hooking onto the other trees was very interesting.  Very strong.

During our walk through the rain forest we saw some Paddymelons.  They are the smallest in the Kangaroo family.  It was so fun to watch them hop across your path and hide in the foliage.  We saw about 8 of them in total.  Reed said he never saw them like this the whole time he served his mission when he was younger.  Lots better than seeing them in a Zoo.
Brisbane has so many different motorways, bridges, etc.  It is huge.  We were so glad Elder Johnson drove us everywhere. 
This is the view from our hotel room.  That is downtown Brisbane that we could see in the distance.  This time we stayed in a hotel about five minutes away from where Elder and Sister Johnson live so we never made it to downtown.
Sunday, February 21, 2016 we spoke in two different Sacrament meetings on education.  We attended a Coordinating Council meeting with all the Stake Presidents and explained the Education Initiative a little more to them.  Then Elder and Sister Johnson took us to their home and fed us a very nice lunch.  Back to Karawatha Chapel for a meeting with all of Carl's (the Self-Reliance Manager for Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) Self-Reliance Specialists from Queensland.  Reed presented for over an hour and we got some great responses.  As we came out of the building there were half a dozen Wallabies in the field connected to the church parking lot.  They let us get fairly close to them before they hopped away.

Wallabies are much bigger than Paddymelons but not as big as regular Kangaroos.  Sunday evening we spoke to around 600 YSA.  They had a Regional Fireside at the Karawatha chapel. That was the largest group I have ever had to speak in front of it.  It went really well.  The young people were really listening and had a lot of questions and wanted to talk for quite a while after the fireside ended.  We went to bed very tired.
On Tuesday, February 23, 2016 we did a parent training from 10:00 to noon and then a YSA workshop from 2:00 until 4:00 in the Forestdale chapel for the Centenary Stake.  They both went well.  Did a leadership training that evening for the same stake.  The Stake Presidency were really on board but did not feel that same excitement from the leaders in the audience.  Interesting!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 we did another workshop for parents in the Burpengary chapel.  We had about 30 parents there.  We went from 10:30 to 12:30 and they wanted to stay and chat for quite a while.  Some of them asked if we could do a youth fireside but we told them they would have to have their local Self-Reliance Missionaries and leaders do it.  We drove to Bribie Beach for the afternoon and then came back to Burpengary chapel for a leadership training.  We had dinner at the church with the Stake leaders and were able to have some really good discussions.  They are really switched on as Sister Johnson would say.  We had more than 80 in attendance and the feeling at this leadership training was so much more positive.  They participated and had so many questions and really were saying the right things.  They are ready to help their people!  This was a great day.  We had some interesting feedback from a few that attended the parent's meeting earlier in the day.  Made us feel like what we are doing is worth it and making a difference.

Thursday, February 25, 2016 we went to Karawatha Chapel to do a Mum's Pre-school training from 10:00 a.m. until noon.  They told us there would be 20 but only 5 showed up.  Reed did a great job and Carl Maurer, the Self-Reliance Manager, sat in the training and took notes.  The ladies all asked if we could do it again and we told them we were leaving in the morning.  We told them to contact Elder and Sister Johnson or their Self-Reliance Specialist to have another training.
After the morning training we went to Elder and Sister Johnson's house and ate some lunch and I did some laundry.  She has Kookaburras in the gum trees behind her house and she feeds them everyday.  You can see two of them sitting on the fence.  They make the most interesting sound.  They really do sound like they are laughing in a very different way.  Australia has the most beautiful birds and is a very interesting, beautiful country.
That evening we did a leadership meeting at the Nerang Chapel.  We had 85 in attendance and it went very well.  We went back to the hotel and got our bags packed.  We will be leaving for Melbourne early in the morning.
We really enjoyed or time in Brisbane.  The people are very friendly and there is so much to see.  We feel like we had some very successful training sessions and can feel the excitement in a lot of the parents, YSA and some of the leaders.  Hopefully they will help each other get into school and be much more successful in staying and graduating.
We are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity.  We love our mission and knowing that in some small way we are helping the saints here in the Pacific understand the Doctrine of Education.  We pray that we are all on the path to becoming more like our Father-In-Heaven. 
We love you all and know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  Until next time, love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)



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