Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016, Reed and I participated in the Self-Reliance training with the departing missionaries.  Every six weeks, Renee Solomon and Reed do a two hour presentation with the young missionaries the day before or the day of them being released to go home.  They talk to them about Self-Reliance Through Education. 

We had 6 Sisters and 5 Elders leaving either tonight or tomorrow.  They are going home to Germany, Samoa, Tonga, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Fiji, Belgium, Utah and Cape Town South Africa.

Renee asks each of them to talk about their goals and plans for when they return home.

She has each of them write a Me in 30 Second statement.  This is for when they interview for a job or to get into some form of schooling.

Renee helping one of the young Elders with his Power Statement.

We ask them to write down skills they have learned on their mission that will help with schooling, careers, being parents, serving as leaders in the church, etc.

Reed takes the second hour and talks to them about their mission as a beginning not an end.  It is the beginning of the rest of their lives.  He talks to thme about the doctrine of education and how being educated will help them provide, be able to serve and eventually help them become like Our Father In Heaven.

He talks to them about things they should not whine about.  He tells them that schooling is more about being tough than smart.  That if something is hard don't quit, try it a different way, give it more repetitions and learn to say I can't do this, YET!  This is about the only time we really get to spend any time with the young missionaries so we really look forward to it.  We only wish the mission president would let us spend time with them sooner to help them set their goals and get registered for school before they go home.  Some mission presidents are letting our senior missionaries work with the young Elders and Sisters for the last three months of their missions on their P-days.  They are finding this very helpful to the missionaries being ready to move forward when they leave their missions and get back to their home countries.

This is the view we see every day when we walk out of the Area Office.  The building on the right is the Spencer Hotel.  We always joke that we own it and live in the Penthouse Suite!
We have been so blessed on this mission to do such a variety of things.  Life is never boring.  The gospel is true and we hope that we are helping these young missionaries and our senior missionaries strengthen their testimonies and know who they are and why they are here.  We Love The Lord.

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

Sunday, 21 August 2016

This is what we look at every day from where we live.  The big green field belongs to a college (high school), the fancy building is an art center.  You can see Hauraki Bay, the city of Auckland and on the left are businesses and a parking terrace.  This is Fred Thomas Street which our apartment complex is located on.  This week we have had wonderful weather.
Friday, August 19, 2016, we went to the YSA regional dance at the QBE (North Harbour Stadium).  We arrived at 8:30 p.m. and there were a few people there but not many.  The music was very loud and the area around the stage was a little dim.  The YSA pretty much just danced in their little groups all night.  We were hoping they would mingle a little more or have some different activities to encourage mingling but it didn't happen.

The theme was the 90's and this group were all dressed up like this.  I'm not sure what it has to do with the 90's but they were having a good time.

These girls are from our YSA ward, Jessica Evans (on the left) is one of our Relief Society Presidents.

Lose and Amanda also from our YSA Ward.  We stayed until about 11:00 p.m. then headed home.  While we were leaving some YSA were just arriving.  The dance ended at midnight.

Saturday morning the 20th we left at 9:00 a.m. and headed to Omeru Scenic Reserve with Elder and Sister Henderson.  It is about 40 minutes north of where we live.  We have decided that we are going to try to see something different every weekend if we can for the next 8 weeks before we go home.

Nada, Kathy and Jim Henderson with Kaipara Bay in the the distance.

Omeru Scenic Reserve in Kaukapakapa,  This was the first set of waterfalls.

Reed in front of the second set of waterfalls.  It was a little cloudy today but the temperature was just right for hiking.

Jim, Kathy and Nada by the river after the waterfall.

The foliage is just so green and beautiful everywhere we go in New Zealand.  We are amazed how many different colors of green there are.

These two waterfalls were close together.  They both had nice swimming holes if it was warmer.

So beautiful and green.  You can see the bridge down the river we had to cross to get to the big waterfall.

This trail down to see the big waterfall was very step and slippery.  Thank goodness someone had installed this rope to hold onto.  Kathy slipped and fell but did not get hurt.  It was a pretty good workout.  You can see Waitangi Waterfall in the background.

Waitangi Waterfall.  This would be a great swimming hole during the summer.  In the literature it says that people come here to swim.

The trail got really rough after the waterfall so Reed went alone to see if we should all follow.  He said no but saw this at the top of the trail.  Beautiful scenery.

When we got back to our car there were about 8 or so big hens and roosters just wondering around the car wanting some food.  We had a snack and threw some of the crackers to them.  They loved them.
We had a great day again.  We drove over to Helensville because Elder and Sister Henderson had never been there, stopped and had a fruit infused ice cream cone and then headed home.  We spent the afternoon cleaning, doing laundry and relaxing.  New Zealand is a beautiful place.  There are so many interesting and beautiful things to see within an hour or two of where we live.  We feel so blessed to serve here and have some time off on the weekends to do some exploring.

We are so grateful each day for all our blessings.  Heavenly Father has created so many beautiful things, people and places.  We hope you enjoy some of these with us.

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

Friday, 19 August 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016, was our good friend Elder James Henderson's 70th Birthday.  Reed and I stayed a little later on Thursday evening to blow up some balloons and make signs for his desk area to celebrate on Friday morning.

Jim with his Birthday Bandello, balloons and Happy Birthday signs!  He loves to celebrate his birthday.

It was Judee Flavell's birthday as well so we did a few balloons for her.  She is the S&I administrative assistant and we worked closely with her while we were also acting as the ITEP Coordinators.

June Anderson is our receptionist for the Area Office.  Every morning she is the first person we see and she is always positive and very friendly.

We all went up to the first floor where Jim and Kathy Henderson's office is and celebrated birthdays with cake and ice cream.  Later that evening we went on the bus into downtown Auckland with Jim and Kathy to have dinner at Elliot Stables.  They had never been there or the Sky City Tower so we showed them around and had a fun evening.
Saturday August 13, 2016 we got up and cleaned the house and Nada fixed cream of cauliflower soup to take to Dallas Olsen's home for lunch.  We work with Dallas and he invited us to come have lunch with his family.  They live about 25 minutes from Takapuna in a town called Hobsonville. 

We had a very nice lunch and visit.

We all helped clear up the table and then we played games for over two hours.  The kids were very polite and fun to be with.  They all helped each other and were very  kind.  Dallas and Angie are very kind, gentle people.  We played a game called Five Seconds, Catch Phrase and another one where you have a topic and six letters that you have to write words using those letters. For instance, the topic is fruit and there would be p, s, p, f, r, l.  The first one to get a word for each letter says done and everyone has to stop writing.  It was very fun.

Here is Dallas's family left to right
Nada, Vanz, Kayla, Izrael, Dallas, Angie and in front is Zion and Cruz.  They really made us feel at home and it made us feel like we were with family. 

At 6 p.m. Saturday evening we met Renee and her family at McDonalds in Onehunga for some dinner and then walked to Mount Sparks Stadium to watch a pro rugby game.

The team is called the Vodafone Warrirors and this is the stadium.  We got there a little early to walk around and feel the pre game excitement.

Renee Solomon, Arwen, Odin and Nada.  Renee and her husband Ricky are season ticket holders and had a couple extra passes and invited us to the game.  Reed was very excited to see a professional rugby game.  This particular team plays Rugby League.  It had been a pretty nice day, no rain a little sunshine so the evening was very bearable.

The Warriors warming up.

Ribbitohs, who are from South Sydney, Australia, are in the white, Warriors in the black.  The Warriors scored the first try which is worth 4 points and made the kick after which is worth 2 then the Rabbitohs owned the ball and field most of the rest of the game.  It was still fun to watch but the home team lost.

This is a scrum.  They do this after a penalty is called.  Rugby League moves very fast.  They play two 40 minute halves and the clock pretty much never stops.  In football they have so many penalties and stop the clock for everything but here the time just keeps going and the game is over and done in 80 minutes.  Reed sat by Ricky and learned a lot more about what was going on during the game and what different things meant.  We feel like we understand rugby a little better now.

 We had a very fun and enjoyable weekend.  We have made some life-long friends.  It is so nice to be invited into peoples homes and interact with their families.  We really miss our children and grandchildren and this helps take a little of that homesickness away.  We work with some great people.  We have had some very nice experiences and been able to learn about so many new things.  Until next time, love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The last weekend in July we were very busy speaking and training on education all weekend.

On Saturday, July 30, 2016 we left the house at 8:00 a.m. and headed to the Howick Ward chapel in the Panmure Stake to do workshops on education all day.  Renee Solomon, our PEF Coordinator in the Pacific Area office, who we work very closely with, set it all up.  She is the ward Self-Reliance Specialist.

From 9:00 to 10:30 we did a workshop for parents and grandparents with children five and younger.  We talked about reading with them, what skills they need to have when they enter school.  We also talked about routines and how the home should be the most important educational gathering  place. 

From 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. we did a workshop with parents of children ages five to YSA.  We talked about the doctrine of education, about the new booklet "School Success Begins at Home" and again about making our homes the most important educational gathering place.  We talked about locus of control, having routines and how to support your children with homework both at home and at school.  We talked to them about staying in touch with the school and making sure students are attending school. 

From 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. we did a study skills workshop for youth and parents.  We helped them learn how to read for information better from their textbooks.  We taught them how to take notes more effectively.  We talked about the importance of study groups.  We had them break into groups of three and discuss certain topics they had just learned about and then chose one from each group to present what they had learned from each other to the whole group.  Helping them understand why study groups work.  They teach each other, ask questions and then have to explain what they understand.  Went very well.

From 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. we did another skills workshop for YSA and adults.  It was very well attended.  There was a lot of discussion, questions and good study skills information presented.  Reed is a great presenter and is so passionate about learning and education.  He really knows how to help people feel excited and capable to learn.  Renee set this all up and felt that it was very well attended and successful.  She received a lot of good feedback from those who attended.

This was the flyer Renee created and passed out to her ward to promote the Education Weekend. 

On Sunday we drove to the West Harbour Ward where we spoke on education to Dallas Olsen's ward.  He also works at the Pacific Area Office with us in Self-Reliance.  He is in the bishopric and asked us to come speak to a combined Relief Society/Priesthood group and introduced the new booklet "Success in School Begins at Home."    It went very well.  It rained so hard when we arrived at his chapel.  The last time we went to his ward to talk on a fifth Sunday it poured like that too.  We laughed about it. 
We then drove to our meetings at the YSA Ward which was about 40 minutes away from Dallas's ward from 2 to 5:00 p.m.  We started a new Temple Preparation Class.  We then had to hurry back to the Howick Ward to do an Educational Devotional at 6:00 p.m.  All these wards are about 1/2 an hour to 40 minutes away from where we live so we usually just take food in our cooler with us because we have to eat on the run  most Sundays.    The devotional went really well.  We had three speakers talk about their experiences of going on to tertiary training.  One was a newly married young man who is in the bishopric, working and going to school full-time.  They just had a new baby and is trying to juggle everything.  Ricky Solomon spoke about going back to school to get some further training for his current career.  Dr. Fiona Shepherd spoke about being divorced and a single mom with three children at age 37.  She had always wanted to be a doctor so she went back to school and is now a doctor with a successful practice that she and another doctor own.  I (Nada) shared my testimony and introduced us and Reed spoke on the doctrine of education and no whining.  It was a very busy and successful weekend. 
We love our mission and when we get to speak and train with people we enjoy it even more.  We have met so many different, interesting people.  We love the gospel, we love our family and we love doing whatever we can to help move the work of our Heavenly Father forward.

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

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Today, Wednesday August 3, 2016 is my (Nada's) birthday.  The day started out with calls from our wonderful children and emails from some of our grandchildren.  They are the best!  We went to the office and they planned a wonderful morning tea for me.  There was a great variety of food there.

Reed gave me a Silver Fern necklace and you can see the yummy food on the table.  Dallas' wife made me German Chocolate Cupcakes because he knows I love German Chocolate Cake.  They were delicious.

Our wonderful children sent me this beautiful bouquet of flowers and box of chocolates.  I had a wonderful day.

Reed took me to a movie and wonderful dinner at Portofinos.  I carried the flowers home so I could enjoy them and you can see after I took them out of the paper and put them in a vase they started opening right up.  I had a wonderful birthday.  Thank you to Reed, our children and I received cards and emails from a couple of sisters.  I am blessed!
Friday, August 5, 2016 Renee, Nada, Ariel, Louisa and Sister Preator spent most of the morning cutting up fruit and vegetables for the refreshments that will be served after the devotional today.

Nada had to run home and get her good knives because the ones in the kitchen at the Area Office are very dull and not very high quality.  They really made a difference!

Nada and Louisa putting the fruit platters together.

The Area devotional was to introduce and welcome the new member of the Area Presidency, Elder Craig A. Cardon and his wife Deborah.  From left to right, Brent Buckner our DTA, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen first counsellor in the Pacific Area Presidency, President O. Vincent  Haleck, Craig A. Cardon second counsellor and Sister Cardon.

Sister Cardon spoke for a few minutes and told us a little about them and their time as Mission President in Rome, Italy.  She talked about how she recognized that she could not do it alone, she needed to depend and trust in The Lord to get her through raising their 7 children at that time and being the Mission Mom.  She says it was a valuable lesson she learned then and continues to trust and depend on The Lord in all their callings. 

Hans, Hatu, Alfred, Richard, David, and Randall, all employees, sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" and did a great job.

Elder and Sister Cardon got up together and Elder Cardon paid her the most beautiful compliment about how she despises contention and avoids it always.  He shared a nice testimony and expressed their excitement to be here and serve with the wonderful people in the Pacific Area.

I played the prelude, opening and closing hymn and postlude.  I have been able to share my piano playing talent a lot here on this mission.

Elder and Sister Cardon stood at the front of the room and shook hands with everyone in attendance.  It was nice to meet them and get to know them a little more.
Saturday, August 6, 2016, we decided since we only have 10 Saturdays left before we go home we need to do a little exploring when possible.  We headed to Hunua Ranges Regional Park which were about an hour drive from our flat.  First stop was Hays Creek Waterfall.  Nada is looking down from the top of the falls.

Reed walked down the road so he could get a picture of the river and Hays Creek Waterfall which you could not see from the top.

We then drove to Hunua Waterfall.  It has been raining all week so the water was running pretty fast and was a little muddy.

When we first arrived there were a couple of young men and us at the waterfall.

Nada crossing the bridge over the river to get to the other side.  It was only 10 degrees Celsius and raining off and on.

The Hunua Waterfall from the other side of the river.  When it is warmer people swim in this pool at the bottom of the falls.  Right now it is over the banks because of all the rain.

You can see how brown the water is.  It was a beautiful little area.  We had no idea this was even here.

We took the lookout view trail so we could see the waterfall from a higher view.

Everything is so green.  We love these Fern Trees.

Nada on the lookout trail.  The hikes here are always through beautiful foliage and the trails are well taken care of.

We took another little detour to get a different angle.  The wind was blowing the mist from the waterfall and it was getting us wet and cold.

We decided to stay for a while and eat lunch in the car.  As we finished lunch the sun came out and there was blue sky so we walked back down to Hunua Waterfall so we could get better pictures.

Reed posing and getting as close to the water as possible without getting in.

Looking down the river to the bridge.  When you cross the bridge there are a few different hikes you can take through the Hunua Ranges Regional Park.

As we left there were a lot more people coming to explore.  It was a very nice day even with the rain and wind.  There are so many beautiful places within a short distance from where we live.  We are going to try to explore as many of these waterfalls as we can over the next 10 weeks.

We stopped at Martha's Backyard on the way home after our hike.  It is about a 35 minute drive from our flat.  This is where we shop to buy American products.  We can find things here that we are familiar with from home.  Everything costs about 3 to 4 times more than what we pay for it in the US but sometimes it is just worth it.
We hope you enjoyed learning about what we did for our first week of August 2016.  We love New Zealand.  There is so much to do here and it is a very beautiful country.  We will really miss it when we leave to go home.  We feel truly blessed for the opportunity to serve here in the Pacific Area Office.  We get to meet and serve with so many wonderful people.  We stay very busy and are grateful when we have time to explore this beautiful country.  Heavenly Father has created so many beautiful places.  How blessed we are.

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