Tuesday, 19 July 2016

On Friday, June 24, 2016, we went out to our Stake Center for our Stake Conference Cultural Night.  We got there a little early and the Stake President, President Tafiti, asked us to sit on the front row.  They are always so very respectful to us senior missionaries.  We forgot our camera so we had to use our cell phone.  It does not take very good pictures but we had to have some memories.

Our YSA kids had been practicing for over a month.  They did a great job.  They performed a dance from the Cook Islands.

We have a great group of YSA, both girls and boys.

We actually had more boys participating than girls.  They are not bashful when they perform.

After they finished their dance they had the boys go to the audience and ask a female from the audience to dance.  Nada was asked by one of the Tafiti boys.  They are so polite and nice.

All the girls got a man from the audience to dance with.  Reed danced with one of the Ezekiala girls.  We started out slowly and then the music got faster and faster.

One ward did the Maori Dance.  Most of the wards had primary age on up performing with them.  They all did a great job.

This is not a great picture but the boy in front on the left and the man right behind him are President Tafiti and his son.  The Maori men always look very war like when they dance.

The Samoan ward in the stake doing a Samoan dance.  It was a very enjoyable evening.  On Saturday morning we drove to the temple to go through with one of our YSA, Kelly, for her first time.  Going to the Temple with our kids in our Temple Preparation Class has been a wonderful blessing to us.
On Sunday, June 26, 2016, after Stake Conference we drove to Hamilton to participate with Arama Puriri and his Self-Reliance team in a seminar for the week.  That evening he and his family had all of us over to his home for dinner.

Arama and Heidi have six children.  They helped their parents serve dinner and then after we cleaned up we had a little meeting and did a "Me in 30 Seconds" so we could all get to know each other a little better.  His children joined right in.  It was very nice and made us think of our grandchildren.

Arama has three sets of full-time missionaries in his area that help with Self-Reliance and the Education Initiative.  He also has three sets of Church Service missionaries and he brought his Self-Reliance Specialist couple from the New Plymouth area.  It was so nice to meet them all in person and we had a great evening together.  We all stayed in temple patron housing.
Monday, June 27, 2016, we were involved in training all day.  We had some good discussions and learned a lot from each other.  That evening we had Family Home Evening with the Hamilton Mission President, missionaries and members from the area.  It was a farewell party for President and Sister Rudd.  They will finish their mission this week and return to Utah.  He is the first Mission President of the Hamilton Mission.  His father had served in New Zealand with Matthew Cowley and is very loved by the members here.  His fahter has returned to New Zealand like 23 times to visit and serve in different positions.

This singing group are local members and they did a great job.  They sang quite a few Maori songs and other songs as well.

These three girls did a great job with their song, they are daughters of members of the other musical group.

These three men sang "Elvira" and "My Girl."   We sat right behind President Rudd and he was singing along with them.

There was a lot of beautiful and fun music performed.  They broke into many different groups.

This is Rangi Parker.  She is a wonderful lady.  She and her husband are Church Service Missionaries and have been very instrumental in getting the New Zealand Church History Museum going.  They are building a brand new building with all the new construction going on by the temple.  She has spent years gathering stories, pictures, histories, journals and memorabilia from the early missionaries who served here in New Zealand and taught the early Maori Saints.  She feels that this is her calling and she is very good at it.  When she shares stories about how every time she comes to the States and meets with families The Lord always guides her and puts her in the right place at the right time.  It is amazing to listen to all the stories and miracles she has experienced.

 President Rudd.

We really enjoyed ourselves and met a lot of nice people.  They had a pot luck after.
On Tuesday morning the 28th of June we all went to the 8:30 a.m. session in the temple together.  Elder and Sister Gowans are our Education Specialist couple serving in Wellington.  Elder Gowans served his mission here as a young man and has not been back to New Zealand in 50 years.  It was fun watching him connect with people who knew his Uncle that served here before him and visit places and people he knew from so long ago.

All of us in front of the temple.  We had one of the missionaries serving in the visitor center take our picture.
While we were in the visitors center it rained really hard for a few minutes and then it cleared up and we went outside for pictures.

Right as we were getting ready to leave some of our YSA kids showed up.  Calvin, two over from Nada, was going to the temple for his first time today.  We felt bad that we would not be able to go through the session with him but we were obligated to more training meetings with the Self-Reliance group.  We sure were glad we ran into them though and were able to take this picture.  Great kids.  Dillin, fifth from the left on Calvin's right just went through the temple two weeks ago for the first time.  Both of these boys have been in our Temple Preparation class.

The temple is in such a beautiful location.  It sits all lighted up on the hill by itself.  Wednesday morning we got up early and Reed went out to get an early morning shot of the temple.  We were staying right on the temple grounds and were able to walk around the temple for our early morning walks.  We had training in the morning and then we headed back to Auckland.  What a wonderful three days of training we were able to enjoy.  We feel like we know these missionaries and the specialists so much better now.  We appreciate being able to serve with them and are grateful for their service.  Serving a mission is a wonderful experience.  You get to meet and work with so many remarkable people.  We are thankful every day for the guidance and direction we feel from our Father In Heaven.
We love you all.  Until next time Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada) 


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