Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

The time seems to be flying by.  We only have five weeks left before we finish our mission.  This week we were in so many meetings it was hard to get things done.  The new after school study pilot started in Vanuatu this week.  They had 41 students attend the first night (Tuesday) and they were excited to be there and learn.  The second night (Thursday) they even had more students attend and there were good homework, study groups taking place.  We hope this will really make a difference in these young students lives.

On Friday morning we went to work for a couple of hours and then headed to Hamilton.  We stopped at the church museum there in Temple View to donate a couple of woven purses from Papua New Guinea and give them some of our pictures.  We also met our Self-Reliance couple, Elder and Sister Jacobsen, to give them their new Education/Self-Reliance posters and some Tongan copies of the "Success in School Begins at Home" manual.  Then we headed to the temple for the 1:30 p.m. session.

We had one of our young women attending the temple for her first time today.  She is going to be married tomorrow.  We just finished teaching her the Temple Prep lessons.  She and her fiancé both work at the airport.  They are a cute couple.

The wind was very chilly but the sun was nice.

Leone's Mother, Leone, Nada and Nise Tafiti

Koga, Leone, Nada and Reed

Koga and Leone.  They were so happy about being in the temple together.  Their emotions were running very high.

Leone and Koga with their parents and aunts and uncles.

Leone and Nise best friends.  Both are in our YSA ward.  We were so grateful to share this special time with these two great young people.  We hope they will be very happy.  We will miss them in the YSA ward but are always happy to see these young people taking that next Eternal step.
We drove to South Auckland to attend at YSA dance at our old Saineha ward.  Loni asked us to please come to their Spring Ball so we stopped and did some shopping at the Sylvia Park Mall in Mount Wellington and had dinner there.  Then on to Ellerslie for the dance.

We arrived a half hour later than it was supposed to start and there were six YSA there and a few leaders.  They had it decorated very nicely.  The theme was YSA Vintage Spring Ball.  They had old black and white pictures and stories of movie stars from the 30' 40's and 50's.  They had decorated with balloons, streamers and paper umbrellas.  They had gone to a lot of work.  They had a DJ playing music and it was sooooooo loud.  I do not know why they have to play the music so loud.  You cannot hear the person next to you speaking unless they yell!

They had a table full of sandwiches and cakes.

These are the YSA that were there for the first hour before a few more started arriving.  Some of these are new since we served in this ward.  It was very nice to catch up with some of the ward members and with some of these YSA that we have not seen for quite a while.

This young lady came up and talked to us.  She arrived home from her mission in Texas just three weeks ago.  This was her first dance since returning home.

Bishop Akolotu, Brother Maru, Diane who is the YSA parent for the Saineha ward and some YSA taking a break.

Loni and Nada.  We have stayed close with Loni and she is the one who invited us to come tonight.

A few YSA dancing.  They just dance around in groups and move around the dance floor.

Nada, Loni and Reed.  We stayed for a couple of hours and then decided we had had enough.  We were tired and did not want to listen to that loud music any longer.  We are glad we went to see these good people.  It is strange to believe that this could be the last time we see them before we leave in October.  Really good people.  We feel very blessed to have served in this ward and learn a lot more about the Tongan culture but especially about these strong, faithful saints.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 we slept in a little because we have been going like crazy.  We got up and cleaned then went with Elder and Sister Henderson to the Sunset Chapel for a baptism.  Ameet Kumar, who we worked with in S&I and is over the TVET program for Church Schools, baptized his son and invited us to attend and Reed to be a witness.

Ameet, Anu, Aryan and Ameesha Kumar

Nada, Ameet, Anu, Reed, Aryan and Ameesha in front of the Sunset Chapel before Aryan's baptism.

Mom and son so happy for this day.

Dad and son so excited to get this baptism started.

The Kumar family.  They just bought a new home and started to go to this chapel.  They used to be in the Takapuna ward.

Nada playing the prelude music.  The pianist was late so I filled in until she showed up .That is what missionaries do.

It is Aryan's actual birthday today September 10th and he had a dinosaur cake.  He looked very handsome in his new suit.  He is a very friendly young man.

Nada helping with all the food after the baptism was over.  They had a luncheon and cake for his birthday.

President and Sister Haleck.  He is the new Area President and they are from American Samoa.

Aryan's Dinosaur Cake

He had fun visiting with his cousins, friends, new and old ward members.  They had a great turn out.

The Bird of Paradise flowers here are so beautiful.  It was a very nice day.  We were so glad Ameet invited us and we were able to share in this special day with the Kumar family.  Another one of those sweet blessings we were able to participate in.

We went home and got all the bedding in the second bedroom washed and ready for Justin and Lana to come on the 23rd of this month.  We went through some drawers and the closet to start cleaning things out because time is growing short.  It is hard to think that we need to start giving things away, cleaning things out, and start packing to go home.  We are working hard and trying to do all we can to finish up all the little projects, and do whatever else the Lord needs us to complete before we finish this mission.  Life is busy but we love every minute. 
That evening we went out to the Self-Reliance Center in Manukau with Elder and Sister Henderson and met up with Elder and Sister Jarvis and Elder and Sister Byrnes.  The men watched the All Blacks play a rugby game on the big screen and the women played a card game together.  It was a nice relaxing evening.  Reed learned a lot about rugby because Elder Jarvis played rugby for BYU and answered all the questions he asked during the game.  It was nice to get to know the other two couples a little better.
What a busy couple of days.
Until next time.  Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

We got up and left the flat at 6:15 a.m. to drive to the temple.  On the first Saturday of each month the 8:30 a.m. session is officiated and staffed by the YSA.  Some of our YSA asked us to please be at the temple today and take pictures after so of course how could we refuse.  We asked Elder and Sister Henderson if they would like to attend with us and then we would do some exploring a little farther south.

It is so nice to see our young members officiating and working in the temple.  In Utah we just don't see that as much.  The YSA really look forward to it and love attending and serving in the temple.  It is a great experience for them and we really enjoy being there with them.

Bishop Akolotu and his wife Ofa were in the session this morning.  He is the bishop of the Saineha Ward we attended for the first six months of this mission.  It was very nice to see them again.

Oscar Utai was working in the temple this morning.  He was one of our YSA when we served in Samoa, has finished his mission which he served here in Auckland, and is now living in Auckland and engaged to be married in December.  It was so nice to see him and catch up on things.  The young lady is a friend named Alisi Maasi.  Chantel, in the green dress, works in the finance department in the Area Office.

Most all of these YSA attend our Auckland First YSA Ward.
Jordan, Nada,not sure, Loise, Christine, Amanda, Mele, Chantel, Stacy, Teresa, Sister Tauiliili, Sanna in the tan.
Back row, Reed, Winston, Lance, Brother Tauiliili, Dillon, Sione

Reed, Nada, Kathy and Jim Henderson

Dillon and Nada.  Dillon is one of our YSA members and was in one of our Temple Prep classes and is the ward photographer.  We will really  miss these young people.

We then changed our clothes and headed south about an hour.  First stop was Te Kuiti about 7 kilometres from the turn off to Waitomo Caves. We wanted to show Elder and Henderson the bar/restaurant where they hold the world champion sheep sheering contest and helped them find a motel to stay at when their family comes in December.

In the bar they have all these sheep shearing shirts hanging up all over.  During the contest they bring in a stand and sheer the sheep and have a hole in the ceiling where they have a big hose that sucks up all the wool.  You have to be there to really get the feel of it all.
We then drove up to Waitomo Caves to show them where it is and how to get there.  We drove past the caves for about 30 minutes and came to a place called Mangapohue Natural Land Bridge.

We stopped at a lookout.  So green and beautiful.

The trails and paths to different places are very well taken care of.  There was a nice little river running all along the path.

Nada crossing the bridge held up by cables.  A young couple came behind her and started bouncing up and down.  It really made the bridge swing and made her very nervous.

Reed crossing the bridge.

This was the natural bridge.  You could not walk over it but it was very interesting.

We decided to not take the same path back to the car park.  However, this trail was not very well marked.  there were some beautiful rock formations, hills, trees, etc. to look at.  We had to walk around a lot of cow manure but it was an adventure.

The bushes and trees are starting to blossom.  You can see the interesting rock formations.  They were just all over in this area and then we did not see them again.

The mud was very slippery, more like wet clay, so we had to be careful where we stepped.  We do not know why these big holes were all along this part of the path.

The people who own the sheep and cattle let you walk through their fields and they have these fences with turn styles you have to climb over to get in and out.  Sometimes the fences are electrified.  We saw some beautiful country, enjoyed the fresh air and the temperature was just right.
We got back into the care drove about five minutes and came to a car park for Piripiri Cave.  We stopped and went on another walk.  This time we stayed on the well marked path and it was only about a five minute walk to the cave.  Our phone was dead and we did not have a flashlight with us.  Not very Self-Reliant but another couple were in the cave and had a flashlight so we could see.

It took our eyes a few minutes to adjust to the dark so we could walk down the stairs.  You can see the couple with the flashlight at the bottom of the stairs.  Right here we are in the opening so we could still see okay.

Kathy, Nada and Jim standing at the bottom of the stairs.  We could not see very far into the big hole.  Amazing how the flash makes it look not so dark but it was totally dark inside the cave.

We could see stalagmites, stalactites and a few columns.  We wish we would have had a flashlight with us.

Looking from the bottom of the stairs back to the opening.  You could only walk about half way down into the cave and then the stairs stopped.  It was worth seeing.
We then drove to Marokopa Falls.  It was about 10 minutes from the cave.  It was only a five minute walk to the waterfall.  You could hear it long before you saw it.

If you look through the trees you can see the waterfall.  The sound was powerful.  There was so much water you could fill the mist and the ground on the viewing platform was wet.

This was a beautiful waterfall.  It looked like it had shelves.  There were different little pools and water falling from places all the way down.  This waterfall is the biggest and most different one we have seen here in New Zealand.

It's nice to have other people with us so Reed and I can be in the same picture.

The roots on this tree were very interesting.  On a lot of the paths you hike they have benches so you can sit down and rest or just enjoy nature.

Another beautiful hike in and out.  The trails are very well taken care of and here when they saw five minutes or half an hour walk or hike it really is.
We got back into the car and headed home. It took us almost three hours to get home.  Elder and Sister Henderson slept most of the way home.  Reed did a great job with all the driving.  Nada got very car sick even riding in the front seat.  It was a very windy road until we got back onto the main highway.  It rained a bit on the way home and we arrived back in Auckland at 7:00 p.m.  It was a full, fun day.  We started off with enjoying the spirit in the temple and our YSA and then enjoyed the beauties our Father-In-Heaven has created for us.  There is so much to see and do.  After 21 plus months we are still enjoying new adventures.  We feel so blessed.  We hoped you enjoy seeing the beauties and wonders of New Zealand with us.

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