Sunday, 5 June 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Today is a national holiday, the Queen's Birthday, so the Area Office is closed.  Reed has some heavy tasks he has been assigned so we still came into the office.  Sometimes when everyone is gone we can get a lot more accomplished.

Last week we had many meetings with Elder Gifford Nielsen.  Elder Pearson will be leaving the end of June for a new assignment in Utah and will no longer be the Pacific Area President.  He has been the member of the presidency over Self-Reliance and the Education Initiatives and that has now been assigned to Elder Nielsen. Elder Nielsen has a very different style and is very hands on.  He has been in our office five times over the last two weeks.  He just pulls up a chair and wants to talk to us.  We have never had this kind of experience with a General Authority before.  He has called us up to the third floor for meetings numerous times and called us on the phone. He is really trying to understand these two initiatives, what we have done, and where we are headed so he knows how best to direct and counsel us.  It has been a new experience for us.

On Friday, June 3, 2016 we attended a wedding dance for Leai Fale and Epoki Vuki.  They are both Tongan and she was the first YSA we met when we were assigned to the Saineha Ward the first week we arrived here in Auckland.  She is a great young lady and we have really enjoyed her friendship.

We forgot our camera so we had to use the cell phone.  It does not take very good pictures.  Some of the YSA from our Saineha ward.  They had the cultural hall decorated very nicely.  They served a buffet dinner.

Leai dressed in traditional Tongan costume and danced for the crowd. 

Leai dancing.  They cover them in coconut oil so people can slap money onto them.

At 11:00 p.m. they had the couple stand in front of the arch and people lined up to greet them with these candy leis.  This is the time that people congratulate them.  You can see that Leai's uncle came and took some of the leis from her because they got so heavy and started covering her face.

Nada hugging Epoki.  This is a fun tradition.  We asked what they do with all the candy and someone told us most of them would go home with the family to Tonga.
Saturday morning, June 4, 2016 we left our flat at 6:15 a.m. to head to Hamilton to the temple.  One of our YSA, Jordyn, was going to the temple for her first time.  She has been in our Temple Preparation Seminar.  We went through the 8:30 a.m. session.  It takes us an hour and forty-five minutes minimum to get from our flat to the temple.  It was much colder and we drove through fog most of the way down.
You can see the fog around the temple grounds.  The sun was trying to break through on the steeple.

It was a little more foggy out in the fields.  It was only 1 degree Celsius which is about 33 degrees Fahrenheit.  By the time we came out of the temple at 11:30 a.m. the fog had cleared and it was nice and sunny.  Still a little cool but not too bad.

We went into town and bought some lunch then returned to the temple for Leai and Epoki's wedding.  These are some of our YSA kids waiting for the couple to arrive.  They are the bridesmaids and groomsmen.  Tonga is in the wheelchair, then the Mariana, do not know the next girl, Loni and Ana.  The boys were all Epoki's friends and cousins.  We went into the sealing which was supposed to be at 2:30 but ended up starting a half hour late at 3:00 p.m. because family members got caught in bad traffic coming down from Auckland.  Some people ended up missing it because they were even later.

Elder and Sister Spencer headed into the temple for the sealing.

Epoki and Leai coming out after their sealing.  These were all the cute little family members dressed up. 

Leaifanga & Epokifo'ou Vuki

They did not have a reception, just the dance the night before and these friends and family members meeting at the temple.  We took pictures for about an hour and then they needed to head to the airport to fly to the Cook Islands for their honeymoon.  They did not have a photographer so Reed ended up taking most of the pictures and trying to get them into some order.

Epoki and all his groomsmen jumping for joy!

It took forever to get most of them together for a group photo.  Tonga wanted me to be next to her and behind me to my left is the Ahokava family.  They are good friends of ours since their daughter Tracy and her husband Connor lived with Reed's Mom to help her for a year. 

The newlyweds.

Reed standing on the temple stairs taking a picture of  the beautiful countryside and everyone talking in different groups. 

Lei and her bridesmaids.

We left the temple after saying good-by about 4:30 p.m. and headed back home to Auckland.  This is Huntly, a small town we have to drive through every time we go to Hamilton.  This is the Waikato River and the building is the Huntly Power Station the largest power station by capacity in New Zealand that produces electricity. The sun was setting, and this was such a beautiful site we had to stop and take a picture.  New Zealand is a beautiful country.
 We have had some wonderful experiences with our YSA from both the Saineha and YSA Auckland 1st Wards.  We feel so blessed to have these young people in our lives.  They keep us busy with all the different activities but to attend the temple when they receive their Endowment or to be Sealed for Time and all Eternity is the best. 

The work is moving forward and we stay plenty busy.  We are so grateful for all these wonderful opportunities we are able to participate in and all the new things we are learning.  The gospel is amazing.  We love The Lord, our family and all our dear friends.

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

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Saturday May 28, 2016

Friday night the 27th the YSA had a ball at the Sunset Stake Center.  We arrived at 8:00 p.m. and they had it decorated very nicely.  They had a live band that was very good.  There were not a lot of people there when we arrived because the YSA never come when activities are supposed to begin.  They usually start showing up about an hour later.  Reed and I did some dancing, talked to the bishopric members from both of the YSA wards that were in attendance.  About 9:00 p.m. more of our YSA started arriving.  We greeted them and visited for a while and then we left just after 10:00 p.m. because we had to get up early to go to the Temple.  When we left, the cultural hall was pretty full and more were coming.  We forgot our camera so we have no pictures.

Saturday morning we left the house at 6:00 a.m. to get to the 8:30 temple session with Damarus who has been in our Temple Preparation class for the past six weeks.  The weather was terrible all the way to Hamilton.  It rained so hard for a lot of the way we were worried we would have to pull over.  The rain finally cleared and it ended up being a nice afternoon,.  The session was very nice and it is always a pleasure to be there with our YSA.  We then stayed and did some sealings.  Nada had a family name on her Dad's side and there were a couple of other people with just a few names each.  It was very nice to seal these couples and families together. 

Saturday evening we had a regional YSA activity at the Ferguson road stake center.  The workshops started about 6:340 p.m.  They had six different workshops you could attend and then they had food and a dance that started at 9:00 p.m.

One of the first workshops we attended was working with the YSA on dancing dos and don'ts.  They talked to them about looking at each other when you dance.  How to ask someone to dance and to walk them out on the dance floor.

They had all the girls form a circle on the inside and the boys on the outside.  They walked the opposite direction and then when the music stopped they had to dance with the person across from them.  They were supposed to look at each other and talk to each other.  They did pretty well.

They had the hall decorated and the kids were pretty good sports.  More girls than boys.

This one the girls put their shoes in the middle of the floor and the boys had to find the girl that went with that shoe and then ask them to dance.  They had a lot of fun.

Another workshop was trivia played like Jeopardy.  This couple really spent a lot of time organizing this.  The questions were great, the challenges were a lot of fun and the kids really had a great time while learning something.

This workshop had puzzles that you had to use your brain to work out.  It was very creative and fun. 

Nada and Reed and these two young YSA girls were a team.  We figured all the puzzles out.

Nada was on this team for Jeopardy.  Our team actually won. 

Everyone having a great time trying to figure out the answers in case the other team couldn't answer it.

Doing a challenge of sucking the jelly beans on the end of the straw and transferring them to the other bowl.

They had a workshop on dating dos and don'ts!

We had a really fun time and got to know a lot of the other YSA throughout the region.  We did not stay for the dance.  We were tired and got home a little after 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 29, 2016 we got up at 4:30 a.m. and headed to the airport to pick up a new couple that are going to serve in Kiribati doing a humanitarian mission, Elder and Sister Reese.  They were very nice and will be a great couple.
We did a fifth Sunday lesson in Dallas Olsen's ward on education, then headed to our YSA ward where Reed spoke in Sacrament on education.  We taught a make-up class for our Temple Preparation class for three girls who missed lesson five.  After church we headed to a ward in the Otara stake to attend a devotional about why and how to set up a Mum's Pre-school.  We finally got home a little after 8:00 p.m. 
We had a very busy but great weekend.  We love the work and are busy trying to do what we should.  We hope you enjoyed reading about some of the things we get to do here in New Zealand to keep the good work moving forward.
Until next time, Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)