Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016, we were invited to Jeremy and Melissa's home for dinner and family home evening.  They are so kind and it was such a nice evening.  Melissa fixed a wonderful meal and Kathy and Jim Henderson did the lesson and Reed and I planned a couple of games.  Jeremy works for the church schools and we have really enjoyed his friendship and getting to know him.  What a cute family they have.

Summer and Leila Higgins.  They are so fun to be with and speak so kindly.  It was a great evening.

Summer, Melissa, Leila and Jeremy Higgins.  We feel so blessed to be in their home and share a friendship with them.
On Thursday morning, October 6, 2016, we were awakened by the FaceTime ringing.  We knew something had to be wrong.  Christy was calling us to tell us Reed's mom was in the hospital and unresponsive.  They thought she would die as soon as they took the oxygen off of her.  We stayed on the call for about an hour but she seemed to stabilize so they moved her to a room.  Reed decided that he felt very strongly that we needed to go home.  Oh my, how do we wrap up our last eight days of  transferring files, deleting things, packing, cleaning and leaving our mission and New Zealand into two days.

We called President Balli and he said that we needed to go home and he would call church travel and okay them to change our flights from the 14th to the 8th of October.  I felt very sad for Reed that he would most likely never get to spend any time with his mother and share these wonderful 23 months with her.

We went to the office and told everyone that we would be leaving on Saturday instead of on the 14th of October.  They were all shocked and I was in tears.  Luckily we had already planned our farewell luncheon with all the senior couples for today at noon.  We all went to Daikoku, a Japanese restaurant, for lunch.  It is really good food but to be with every senior couple that works at the Area Office was so nice.  We will really miss our association with them.

Elder and Sister Champlin and Elder and Sister Streeter eating lunch at Daikoku a really nice Japanese restaurant.  They cook your food right in front of you

Sister Seamons, Nada, Reed, Sister Collins waiting for them to begin cooking our food.  We really enjoyed being with all these wonderful senior couples for a final meal.
Later that day we got confirmation that our flights had been changed to Saturday, October 8th and that Reed's mother was never going to wake up because she had a major stroke.  Lois took her home to her house so she would be with family until her heart stopped beating.

I spent the evening cleaning, doing laundry, packing and having couples come over to see what they wanted in our cupboards and closets.

Friday, October 7, 2016, we got up and went for our final early morning walk.  I took four sweaters down to Sister Streeter who was very glad to get them and she came up to the flat and took most of the rest of the food I had left in the cupboards.

We went to work for our final day.  Oh my it was very hard to keep back the tears for me.  Some people were gone that we really wanted to say goodbye to.  That was even harder.  Paul told us they had a big Area Office farewell party planned for us on Monday when everyone was back.  So because that could not happen he asked if they could at least take us out to lunch today.  Paul, Ariel, Dallas, Reed and I walked across the street to "Honey's" and had a very nice lunch.  It was so good to just sit and talk and enjoy some quiet time together.

Nada trying hard to get the last newsletter finished and files transferred to the shared drive.  It is hard to get seven days worth of work done in two days.

Ariel paying for our lunches at "Honey's" restaurant.  It was really good food and nice to take a few minutes out of a very hectic day.

This is the Area Office building.  Our office is on the ground floor on the right.

This is where our desks were for the last 23 months.  Reed always told everyone we were in the hallway and basically we were.  This is the entrance into the Self-Reliance and Humanitarian offices.

We finally got home about 6:00 p.m. and started cleaning.  We had couples come over to finish taking our food, containers and plants.  Sister Maughan came over and helped wipe out cupboards.  It was very kind.  About 8:30 p.m. Loni, Jonathan and Luisa came over with gifts, cake and to say goodbye.  It was so kind of them.  We will really miss these kids.  This is Nada and Loni, they all wanted pictures and so did we.

Jonathon Seve, Nada and Luisa Vaifale.  Luisa works in the office with us.  She is the administrative assistant for Humanitarian services.

Renee Solomon and her husbank Rikki came about 9:00 p.m. to say goodbye.  Renee and I have become very close.  We will really miss her and her family.  They brought a beautiful New Zealand Greenstone necklace that had a wonderful meaning with it.  It was so thoughtful.  I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. cleaning under and behind the refrigerator, washer and finishing up the second bathroom and getting laundry done.

Saturday morning, October 8, 2016 our final day in New Zealand.  We got up early and tore the bed apart.  Kathy Henderson agreed to help me wash some of the bedding so I took that down to her by 8:00 a.m.  I washed, cleaned and we kept having people stop by to say goodbye.  Leai came over to say goodbye and I was able to give her all the food and some kitchen items I didn't know what to do with.  She was so grateful to get them because they just got married and   these kitchen items are expensive.  We went over to the office to drop some things off and I transferred the last few files I needed to transfer and sent a couple of emails.
At 4:00 p.m. I walked back to our flat from the office for the final time.  I put the finishing touches to our packing.  I did not get the flat vacuumed but everything else was spick and span.  Kathy and Jim said they would vacuum and finish dusting the living room when they got back from taking us to the airport.
Anne and David Maughan came up to say goodbye and took our last couple of bags of rubbish out for us.  There were a few tears as we waved goodbye to them.

We left our flat for the last time at 4:30 p.m.  This had really become home and it was very hard to leave, knowing we will most likely never be back.

Jim and Kathy Henderson took us to the airport.  They have become such dear friends.  We will really miss them.  Reed sat in the front seat and took pictures of places and signs that had become such a part of our lives.  This is the final time we will see the Sky City Tower.

We took this Gillies exit every week when we went to church and the dozens of times we picked up or dropped people off at the airport.

There has been construction on this road by the airport the whole 23 months we have been living in New Zealand.  These pictures will bring back lots of memories.

After we got our luggage all checked in we had people there to send us off.  Leai and Epoki came and put these candy bar leis around our necks.  Leai was the first YSA we met the first Sunday we were in New Zealand and attended the Saineha Ward.  She was the YSA rep and we have remained good friends.  She and Epoki were married in June.

Aaron, Ariel Wetere, Reed, Nada, Pamela and Paul Reid and Kathy Henderson.  These are our good friends from our office and we have been able to get to know their families as well.

Oscar Utai and his fiancee coming down the escalators as Reed and Nada are headed up.  They came back up to say good-bye.  They were wondering where we were.

Judee and her two nieces who also gave each of us a candy bar lei,  Brother and Sister Renata, Oscar Utai and his fiancee, Nada, Reed, Pamela, L'Rey Renata, Kathy and Jim Henderson, Aaron and Ariel Wetere all come to tell us goodbye.  We felt so loved and blessed that they were there.  It was so hard not to cry.  They all stayed and waved to us as we went through the departure gate.

Elder and Sister Spencer getting ready to head through the departure gate.  We will really miss these wonderful friends.

Oscar and his finance, Oscar was one of our YSA when we served in Samoa and lives in New Zealand now, Nada and Reed's final moments at the New Zealand airport.  Our plane left New Zealand at 7:45 p.m. and we said goodbye to New Zealand for the final time.  We have loved every minute of our mission and have met so many wonderful people.  We did not think it would be this hard to leave.

We had a long tiring flight.  Almost 12 hours from New Zealand to San Francisco.  We had a three hour layover and then arrived in Salt Lake City at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2016.  We got back the day we lost two years ago when we flew to New Zealand.  As we flew over Utah we realized what a desert we really do live in.  New Zealand was so green and lush and Utah is so dry.  We stopped and put our candy bar leis back on so the kids could see how loved we felt when we left.  This is the beautiful sight we saw as we came around the corner at the Salt Lake City airport.  All 25 of our children, in-laws and grandchildren were there to welcome us home.  What a glorious sight.

Reed and Nada coming around the corner to the baggage claim area at the Sale Lake City airport.  We were the last people from our flight because we stopped to put our candy leis on.

Grandpa being hugged and loved by all the grandsons.  Grandma being loved by all the granddaughters.

Everyone talking and deciding who was going to ride home with who.  The kids were all so happy to see us and helped us get our luggage and they all wanted a candy bar from our leis.  They thought they were so awesome and really enjoyed the chocolate.  What a wonderful homecoming.  We were so tired but so grateful to be home and be with all our family that we love so much.  We are so blessed.

We then drove to Lois's house, Reed's sister, so Reed could see his mother.  What a very sad reunion.  I felt so sad for Reed.  We stayed for an hour then headed home.  All the family met us there for pizza because we were all so hungry and so they would be there when we were released.

Brad Waddoups, our Stake President and his wife Linda, came to our home at 9:00 p.m.  We visited, shared our testimonies and then he released us.  We are no longer missionaries.

We are so grateful for this wonderful 23 months we were able to serve our Heavenly Father in New Zealand.  We met so many new and interesting people and visited so many different fascinating places.  We have learned so much and felt our Heavenly Father's love and direction over and over again.  We hope we have been able to make some kind of a difference in the education desires and awareness of the saints in the Pacific Area.  We know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  We know that Jesus is our savior and we are so grateful for his Atonement.  We know the Book of Mormon is true and that we have a living Prophet today and other general authors who lead and guide us.  Thank you for sharing this fantastic journey with us.  This will be our final Pacific Area, New Zealand Auckland Mission entry.  We are so blessed.

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


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