Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

We got up, cleaned, did laundry and then decided we wanted to go for a drive.  It wasn't raining so we headed out about 10:00 a.m.  We decided to drive over to Raglan, a small tourist town on the west coast of the North Island.  It was about a two and a half hour drive.  We went there last year but decided to check it out again.  We took a turn off at Huntly and drove on roads we have never been on before.  We were mostly alone on the roads and saw some beautiful country.

This is our car.  The road was canopied with these trees much of the way.

We love these hills the way they are terraced like this.  We were told it is because of the sheep and cattle grazing.

We drove through Raglan, which is a small town.  We didn't stop because we wanted to find the beaches.  Our daughter, Christy,  had a co-worker tell her she served her mission here and thought Raglan Beach was the best beach in New Zealand.  We never did find a Raglan Beach.  This is Ngarunui Beach about 15 Kilometres outside of Raglan.  When we got out of the car the wind was blowing fiercely.

I thought it was going to blow us away.  We hiked down to the beach.  They say this is one of the top 10 surfing beaches in the world.

There were a couple of surfers out and some people playing in the waves.  Too cold for us.  We actually had hail for a few minutes.  That is the first time we have seen hail here in New Zealand.

Nada on Ngarunui Beach.  The hail and rain stopped and the wind settled down to a breeze.  It was a nice beach.

The sun came out for a few minutes and everything was colourful again instead of so grey.

They had some changing rooms, and this building that looks like a surf shop during the summer time.  The top of the hill is Ngarunui Beach Lookout.  We did not climb to the top because of the weather.

These are called Cabbage trees.  We headed back to the car to find Manu Bay.
We drove about ten minutes and came to Manu Bay.  The waves here did not come toward the shore.  It was very interesting.  The Tasman Sea was very rough and grey today.  Some very big waves.

We drove about five more minutes and came to Whale Bay.  We had to walk between these houses and down these steps to get to the Bay.  There was no beach, just a lot of huge rocks.

If you walked along these rocks for a while you would come to a beach.  I, Nada, did not want to walk that far on these slippery rocks.  Reed went for quite a ways and ran into a warning sign that there was an Indian Burial Ground and the ground was sacred and no trespassing so he came back.

The waves here were huge.  We love watching and listening to the waves.  We only wish it would have been a sunny day but oh well.

The rocks had some interesting motion and colors in them. 

We walked back up to the path to get to the road.  There was this gigantic Flax plant.  They grow all over New Zealand.
We then headed back to Auckland.  We decided to stop at Bridal Veil Falls and check it out.  It had been raining off and on for days so we thought it might be running pretty fast today.  It was a beautiful 10 minute walk into the falls.

You can see how brown the river is.  It was running much higher and faster than last time we were here.

We are standing right at the top of Bridal Veil Falls here.  It was running pretty fast and the water was all brown.  When the water is clear you can see the large rocks in the pool.

This is taken from the mid view point.  The water falls 55 metres from the top of the falls to the pond.

You can see how much standing water is in the stairs.  We got our feet pretty wet because you could not avoid every puddle.  There are 261 steps down to the base of the waterfall.

This is the view from the platform at the bottom of the falls.  The rock on the face of the cliff is a Basalt formation.  We were here by ourselves and it was very peaceful.

Nada after climbing the 261 steps back up to the mid viewing platform.  It was a very peaceful, nice hike.  As we walked back out to the car it was starting to be dusk and it was dark amongst all the trees.  It was kind of fun.

Reed took this picture of the green hills as we were driving back to Auckland.  I, Nada decided to drive since we were not on busy roads.  I drove for about half an hour and then decided to let Reed drive the rest of the way home.  That is only the third time I have driven since being in New Zealand and by far the longest.  I did okay.  What a fun, relaxing day we had.  We saw some new places, some we have visited before and just enjoyed being together and away from the office.  It rained most of the way home.

We went to bed tired.  At 1:30 a.m. the fire alarms in the building went off and woke us up from a sound sleep.  It said for everyone to evacuate the building.  That is a rude awakening.  We put on sweatshirts, shoes, grabbed our wallets and passports and headed out into the light rain and cold.  We stood outside for about half an hour before they stopped the alarms and allowed us back into the building.  It took a while to fall back to sleep.  We have never had this experience before.  At 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning the alarms went off again and we had to evacuate again.  Twice in less than 12 hours, crazy.
We hope you have enjoyed seeing a little bit of New Zealand with us.  It is such a green, lush, beautiful country.  We never grow tired of driving and looking around.  We feel so blessed to serve here.  The people are very friendly, everything is clean and we always feel safe.  The Lord has truly created so many beautiful places and things for us to enjoy. 

We are well and happy.  We stay busy and are trying to do our very best.

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

Thursday May 19, 2016

We took the day off from the office to meet with Elder and Sister Johnson who have finished their mission in Brisbane, Australia and are headed home to Utah.  They are taking a 38 day cruise throughout the Pacific, the Hawaii Islands and then to Los Angeles.  One of their ports was Auckland so they asked if we could meet them and show them around.

We met up at the dock in downtown Auckland at 9:00 a.m.  We were able to pull right up to where the cruise ship was docked.  They had never seen the temple so we headed to Hamilton.  It takes an hour and forty-five minutes to get there.  It was a cool but mostly sunny day so we were able to see a lot of beautiful country.

Mary and Auston Johnson.  We became good friends with them while serving our missions.  They took such good care of us the two times we went to Brisbane for training.

Reed loves these Blue Gum trees on the Temple grounds. 

The flowers were colorful and all in bloom.  The New Zealand Temple grounds are beautiful.

Looking from the temple to the visitors center.  This is a very nice visitors center and they have a distribution center in the basement.  We spent some time talking to the missionaries serving there.  That were loving their mission.

We walked all the way around the New Zealand Temple and just let them soak it in.  It was a very beautiful day.  We spoke to a couple members as they came out.  They heard our American accents when we were talking to each other so they stopped to ask us questions.

Sister Johnson, Nada and Elder Johnson headed back to the car.  We enjoyed visiting and catching up on the past couple of months.  They really loved their mission and enjoyed working with their Self-Reliance Manager, Carl Maurer, so much.  He treated them like family.  We will really miss them.
On the way back to the cruise ship we stopped at the Greenstone Museum so they could buy some souvenirs and then stopped in Pokeno for ice cream.  That is a Mormon tradition, if you go to the temple you stop in Pokeno, a small town, on the way home for ice cream.  It is very good ice cream, Tip Top, and it is only $3.00 for two scoops.  You can buy flavors you cannot buy in the store, Yum!

We took them back to the cruise ship at 3:30 p.m. so they could spend a couple of hours walking up and down Queen Street to buy souvenirs.  We hated to say good-bye.  It was a great day.

We feel so blessed to be able to meet so  many wonderful couples who leave their families, homes and countries to serve the Lord.  We really become life-long friends with many of them.  Life is good.  Serving a mission is a blessing in so many ways. 

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

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday evening Reed and I headed through rush hour traffic to get to Sandringham.  Getting over the Auckland Harbor Bridge from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. is very slow.  We did an education workshop for the Young Men/Young Women at the Kiwitea Chapel.

Ariel Wetere is the Young Women President and we work with her at the Area Office.  She is the Operation Manager for Self-Reliance.  We have already presented an educational devotional and another workshop for this Balmoral Ward.  Tonight we had them put into practice the things Reed has been teaching them.

This is Cody Wetere, Ariel's husband also in the Young Men Presidency.  They are getting the "feed" ready for after the workshop.

Ariel's son, Aaron, playing basketball with some of the Young Women before the evening starts.

Ariel and some of her Young Women peeling eggs to make egg salad sandwiches.

They began opening exercises about 6:20 so we could begin the workshop right at 6:30 p.m.  We only had about 12 people when we started the devotional.

By the time Reed got up to begin his part at 6:35 p.m. we had 20 YM/YW and five leaders in attendance.

We had them sit at tables with three of them at each table and assigned each of them a number.  First Reed presented a lesson review and taught them how to take proper notes.  They all took notes, some much better than others.  He told them in advance they would need the information from their notes for quizzes.  He helped them understand how important it was to work together in groups such as study groups.  Then during the quizzes he would give them a question and then give them a minute to discuss.  Reed then called out a number and the person that had that number had to come to the board and write the answer.  Some obviously paid much better attention than others.

Reed giving them some more instructions and talking to them about paying attention to hints the teacher might drop about this is important, this could be on the test, how to abbreviate and highlight important quotes.

We had a lot of fun, laughing, cheering and some moans and groans.

Most of them really had an enjoyable evening learning how to study in groups, take proper notes and applying what they had learned.  We passed out treats and then they had some good food after the closing prayer.
Reed and I are grateful for these opportunities to train and work with young people to help them understand the importance of education and how working together can help you learn more and study better.

We hope you enjoy seeing some of our actual missionary work.  We usually blog about visiting different areas but most of our time is spent working at the Area Office, participating in meetings, providing workshops, devotionals, trainings and supporting our Self-Reliance and Education Specialists Missionaries out and about.

Love you all, until next time Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Monday, 16 May 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Today Reed and I decided we wanted to go and visit the Auckland Zoo.  We had heard that it was very nice and we did not want to stray too far today.  After getting all the laundry and house cleaning done we headed  to the Zoo.

The weather was clear and very warm.  A beautiful day to walk around the Auckland Zoo

They had three large giraffes and two babies.

The Zebras, Ostrich and Giraffes were all in the Safari area.

They had Meerkats.  We had never seen these except in movies before.

These African Love Birds were so colourful and fun to watch.  They had about 25 colourfully painted birdhouses that these birds kept flying in and out of.

They had large tortoises and very small tortoises.  Some of these little ones were about 2 inches long.  They were fun to watch. 

Springbok type of Antelope


There were two lions and they were laying down every time we walked past.  They had a lot of hiding places in this enclosure.

Pink Flamingos

They had a male and two female Orangatangs.  They said he weighed 99 Kilos.

This is a Serval.  A medium-sized African wild cat that has the biggest ears of any cats.  They said it's hearing is so good it could hear a rodent under ground.

They had quite a few Baboons.

They had two elephants.  They hung big branches with leaves from these trees and the elephants broke pieces off with their trunks and ate them.  They also had big blocks of frozen, colored water and the elephants would pick them up with their trunks and smash them on the rocks and then eat the pieces.  It was interesting to watch them.
We watched the elephant show and then we headed back to the other side of the Zoo to see some Kiwis.  As we did we walked back past the Giraffes.  This one was very close and eating hay.  The enclosure where the Giraffes and Zebras were was hard packed dirt.  There was only some green around the very edges.

This is a Red Panda Bear.  We had a hard time spotting him in the tree.  The camera actually picked him up better than we could see with our eyes.  We have never seen or even heard of a Red Panda Bear before.

The tiger was laying asleep in the shade.

They had a fenced end area that you could enter with Wallabies and Emus. They would let you touch the Emu. 

They had two pretty good sized Alligators.

Some of my favourite animals were the Ring-Tailed Lemurs.  They were climbing around and all over each other.  Their tails were fascinating to watch.  They had a sign by their area that was from the movie "Madagascar" with "I like to move it, you like to move it, we like to move it, move it!"  We had never seen these in real life before only in the movie.  We really enjoyed watching these animals.  We thought about the grandkids when we saw these Lemurs and knew they would love them and would be singing the "Move It" song.

We saw two Kiwi birds.  It is very dark in the Kiwi house because they are nocturnal animals.  This is actually a picture of the picture telling about the Kiwi bird.  We could not get one of our own to turn out but they looked exactly like this.
We also saw a Tasmanian Devil but he was asleep under some rocks and could not get a picture of him.

It is strange that here in New Zealand it is May but Fall time.  The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is getting cooler.  In our minds it should be getting warmer, the days getting longer and the trees just growing their leaves and blossoming.

We hope you enjoyed visiting the Auckland Zoo with us.  We were very impressed with the cleanliness and the layout of the Zoo.  The Zoo was very busy today with families.  It made us wish our children and grandchildren were with us.  They would have loved the animals.

We have been staying very busy and have not been doing a lot of exploring the last couple of weeks.
Hopefully we will have more time to explore some of the things on our bucket list in the next five months. 

I (Nada) had to speak in Sacrament meeting on Mother's Day along with the other two senior sisters.  I wondered why they had the people in the ward who are mothers speaking but it turned out to be a good meeting.  I also was able to speak with all of our children and that is always a highlight.  We are teaching the Temple Prep class and have ten YSA attending.  A couple of them are getting married this Summer, a couple getting ready for missions and a few who just feel that it is time for them to enjoy the blessings of the Temple.  This is one of the highlights of our mission, teaching these young people about the Temple and then attending the Temple with them.  

We have been in New Zealand over 18 months now.  It is hard to send our missionary friends home that arrived after we did.  Reed and I are now the longest serving Senior Missionaries in the Mission.  Life is good.  We are grateful to be serving. We will continue to work hard and do what our Heavenly Father wants us to do.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.

Until next time, love Elder and Sister Spencer, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Reed & Nada