Auckland

Auckland
Gae's first photo, from hotel

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jensen & Turley

We had a very busy and fruitful week. Elder Marlin K. Jensen and Brother Robert E. Turley, Jr., the Church Historian and Assistant Historian, respectively, are on a history tour within the Pacific Area. The tour will culminate when Elder Jensen rededicates a uniquely historic chapel in Tubuai, an island in French Polynesia, which has been remodeled. If you like history, you’ll like this story. The really short version is that Addison Pratt and others went there in 1844 as the first missionaries to Polynesia.


Elder Jensen and Brother Turley spoke at devotional at our office building on Wednesday. Gae and I enjoyed each of their thoughts.

Elder Jensen and Brother Turley spoke at several firesides in Auckland and Hamilton during the week. We were not able to go to one of the firesides, but we worked with our good director of public affairs in Hamilton and he was able to get two Members of Parliament to attend the fireside there and to meet with the visitors and at least two of the Seventy from New Zealand. The visit went well, of course, and working with these opinion leaders is a very important part of what the Church’s Public Affairs is tasked with.
Clockwise from front right:  Roberts, Wilsons (w/Levi), Streiffs, Pearces, and Nances.

One of the perks of our calling is that we are working with several of the Seventy on a regular basis. These are all very bright, kind, and caring men. On Saturday night we went to a social for the New Zealand National Public Affairs Council at the home of Michael A. Roberts of the Seventy, who is their advisor. He and his wife are very down-to-earth people and we had a great time eating a grand BBQ dinner and playing some fun and competitive games. I’m afraid our team came in second and tied for first (out of two, so I guess we tied for second as well. Their home could easily have been built in Utah, and the setting made us a little homesick.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gae Wins!!

When Terry wrote the previous blog, Gae was dismayed that her bowling victory was not the banner headline. Hear ye, hear ye: be it known to all that the senior missionaries went bowling as a family home evening activity about two months ago. Gae beat Terry. Gae beat every other woman. Gae beat every man. Gae won. See photo. Terry is not bitter… not much anyway.

Gae has fully recovered from her ‘split’ injury (see previous post, not bowling split). It took many weeks to get well and she had to spend a lot of time in the flat resting and healing. We are grateful to all our friends and family for many kind words and prayers.

Our work in Public Affairs has been very interesting and very busy. We have the privilege of regular association with four general authorities of the Seventy. Elder Tad R. Callister is the President of the Pacific Area. Elders Brent H. Nielson and James J. Hamula are his counselors; they all reside here in Takapuna, New Zealand. We also have frequent contact with Michael A. Roberts, who is the priesthood advisor for the National Public Affairs Council in New Zealand and for the Auckland Multi-Stake Public Affairs Council. We feel it is a rare privilege and a blessing for us.

For the last week and a half, Terry worked on a 20-minute video of Elder Callister about the importance of Public Affairs in the Pacific and our goals for next year, to be presented to the Australia National Public Affairs Council at their annual meeting. It was a very condensed schedule due to Elder Callister’s travel schedule, but everything stayed on schedule and the video turned out well. Next, the video will be edited slightly for use by all of the Public Affairs councils in the Pacific. Terry had lots of help from our Public Affairs team (including Gae), the videographer that works in the office, and from a very good video editor, Mike and Michel Ramirez, respectively. Michel is Mike’s daughter. It was very interesting work - Terry and Gae’s first experience on professional video production.

Our New Zealand Auckland Mission held a mission-wide zone conference three weeks ago. Richard Hinckley, of the Seventy and Gordon B. Hinckley’s son , spoke. He is very spiritual and gave a very engaging talk about “be attitudes” additional to his father’s. He also talked about his mother’s passing and gave insights into his parents’ lives. He called for questions from the missionaries and answered them with wisdom and humor. Gae and I felt spiritually filled after the meeting.

Gannets at Muriwai

 

We have been visiting the gannet colony at Muriwai, about 40 minutes away from our flat.  Terry took these photos showing gannet nesting areas.  We have not seen any eggs or chicks yet, but they should come soon.  We’ll keep checking.  Muriwai is a very nice beach on the west side of the North Island.  The waves on the west side are much stronger and Muriwai is a famous surfing beach. 

Gae at Muriwai Beach

Gannets at Muriwai, surfers in background
For Thanksgiving (not a Kiwi holiday) we enjoyed a family home evening barbeque with the senior missionaries, the Area presidency, and the mission president. Gae bought and marinated some steaks that turned out tender and tasty. Each couple brought a dish to share and we enjoyed salads and desserts galore. Not as good as Thanksgiving at home, of course, but better than sulking in a corner. Gae made baked beans. The canned beans here are in tomato sauce and have an interesting flavor so Gae started with dried beans. We couldn’t find navy beans so we used some white dried beans. They were soaked overnight, cooked for hours before the party, but never really got soft. So we had semi-crunchy (but delicious) baked beans. We kept them cooking in the crock pot for an additional 24 hours but apparently whatever kind of beans these are do not get softer. It is hard to cook when the ingredients are off-kilter.
We are busy and happy. We miss our family and friends at home; we have difficult days because of this. Amazingly, we have passed our six-month mark and we are counting down our last year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Splitsville Is a Bad Place!

Gae (in a swimming suit)
showing her colors.
The big news for this episode is that Gae can do the splits! As we were walking through our parking garage on the way to work on October 4th, there was a nearly invisible patch of grease or oil near the refuse bins. On her heel strike, her right foot started slipping and just kept going until she executed a full split with legs front and back, torso nicely vertical. Unfortunately, despite being graceful, she tore her hamstring. Not completely torn through, thank goodness, but she has been very sore and her leg has been very colorful. She can’t sit for more than a few minutes. She worked for half days three days this week and will gradually work up to full time again. Terry is very grateful that she has been cheerful since the accident. We have had an outpouring of love from home and from the employees and missionaries in the office. She should be mostly better in about 4-6 weeks.

Sister Julie Beck, Relief Society General President, and Sister Mary N. Cook, first counsellor in the Young Women General Presidency, are currently on a tour of the South Pacific including Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa. Along the way each has many meetings with Church members. The Directors of Public Affairs in each country have set up the meetings. Our Public Affairs group has been supporting their trip. Gae managed the calendar as various meetings were set up, changed, or cancelled. Terry assembled a package of briefing documents for each meeting, and wrote or rewrote several of them. The Sisters are just wrapping up in Australia and the Area President, Tad R. Callister, attended some of the functions and reports that everything went ‘super-duper’. It amazes both of us how much time and effort go into making all of this go smoothly.

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We have seen so many glorious sunsets here.
 We enjoyed an evening of home-town entertainment with the Albany Singers. This is a non-auditioned community choir, and the music was lively. We enjoyed ourselves. We went to dinner first at a Japanese steak house (chop-chop place) with two other missionary couples, which turned out very nice. New Zealand seems to have a few quite good restaurants and many uninspired (or worse) eateries. There are not too many in the middle quality range.

Photo for Kids Helping
Kids Article
Terry has written several articles for the web site, but it is very hard to get newspapers to publish things about the Church. He is still working on getting more into the papers. His article on the Mormon Helping Hands in Hastings was put into the Pacific insert, a local section that is added to the Ensign for residents of the New Zealand.

There was a major earthquake in Christchurch two months ago. Both of us have done quite a bit of work supporting public affairs in that area. Terry wrote an article that he particularly liked, and it was put on the New Zealand and Australian websites. He also rewrote an article about 72 hour kits that turned out well. The article was enhanced by a graphics designer, Aaron Hall, and turned out like this. Christchurch has had over 2,000 aftershocks and it has been quite nerve-racking for people living through it. Most of the structural damage was from soil liquefaction, which is also a potential problem in the valleys of Utah.

We did take an overnight trip to Rotorua. Paul and Terry read about opening day on the Ohau channel. It is a short channel between Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti and is always packed with fly fishermen on opening day. If the smelt, a tiny bait fish, are on their spawning run through the channel it is common to catch trout up to 18 pounds, and for each angler to catch many large fish on opening day. Alas, the smelt were not yet running but we did manage to catch one fish each. Paul caught a 7-pounder and Terry caught one that was probably between two and three pounds. Terry’s first landed New Zealand trout, at last!

We all had a great time on the Rotorua trip. We stopped at a roadside cafĂ©, actually part of a farm supply store, which certainly didn’t look too promising. We ordered cheeseburgers and they were served with the cheese fried separately and stacked on. The cooked cheese looks like a piece of grandma’s crocheted tablecloth. It is crispy and full of little holes, and is really a taste and texture delight.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gae making friends at Takapuna Beach
It seems like all of our blogs start with something about how busy we are. It is true this time, too. Gae is becoming more and more skilled at doing things on the computer. She reworked email address lists for all of the Directors of Public Affairs in the Pacific Area, amounting to about 140 names. She entered most of these from several different sources. These are all nicely sorted so that we can email to different areas as we need to. She also sorted through hundreds of photos of the MTC open house.

We spent two evenings and two Saturdays at the MTC open house in Manukau. It was fun, but by the end we were very tired. The results were very good. We had about 1800 young members aged 14 and up and the youth advisors attend. We also had about 400 members attend in addition to the youth groups. During the tours, members were invited to fill out referral cards for friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Over 1,000 referral cards were received. We met a lot of very nice people, especially young missionaries who were conducting the tours. We were able to visit with Sister Mahas, the missionary who was on the same flight with us as we came to New Zealand. She is a remarkable young lady and is tacking her mission with power and enthusiasm.

Rainbow from our balcony 
Sister Mahas’ companion is Sister Chen, who has a remarkable history. She was originally from mainland China, where her parents still live. She went to Australia and graduated from university. She joined the Church 3 years ago and is now serving her mission here in Australia. She has shared her testimony with us and it is powerful and so sweet. She and Sister Mahas were presenters in the MTC open house.

Gae with Sisters Nance, Porter, Callister, and Steiff (R-L) at MTC
Terry wrote an article on educating and inspiring our youth at the MTC open house and it is on the New Zealand Church website.  He also had an article published in the Manukau Courier, here.  Terry also wrote an article for the main Church’s Newsroom Blog and it was published. The article is credited to Richard Hunter, our boss, due to Church policy because missionaries are kind of ephemeral. The link is here.

We went to Zone Conference (missionary meetings) in Hamilton. While there we also attended the temple. With the 2.5 hour travel time, it was a full day. We enjoyed the trip very much. While we have little to do with normal Church missionary proselyting, we are very proud of our mission for baptizing 175 wonderful new members this month. This is a new mission record.

Lake Tawarewa
We haven’t been able to recreate much because of the MTC open house, but yesterday Gae spent much of the day with Pat Streiff shopping and talking and talking and talking. Terry went fishing with Paul Streiff. Winter is apparently a very hard time to catch fish in New Zealand. Paul caught one and Terry caught none so that Paul would feel better about his one fish. Oh well, we’ll probably keep at it.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Prime Minister John Key Visits MTC

We have had a very busy and exciting month. We are starting to feel like we have a better grasp on our public affairs assignments. Our little public affairs group in New Zealand comprises our director, Richard Hunter (full-time Church employee), and two other senior missionary couples: Pat and Paul Streiff, and Rosalie and Stan Nance. The Streiffs are longtime friends whose home is near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake. The Nances are currently from Star Valley Wyoming, but they lived in Bountiful, Utah for many years.

Each couple is assigned to support specific geographic areas of the Church. Our current assignment is Hawkes Bay and Hamilton in New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. We continue to build relationships in all three areas. The Church Public Affairs is organized in a Director of Public Affairs in each stake who report to a Multi-Stake Council who in turn report to the National Public Affairs Council. In the case of smaller countries like the Cook Islands, where we have about 1800 members, there is one Director of Public Affairs for the Country.

The Church has just completed a new missionary training center (MTC) in Manukau, a suburb of Auckland. An open house was organized for members, especially for the 14 to 18 year olds. The open house was coordinated by the Nances, which is outside the normal purview of Public Affairs – but they were assigned the job by Elder Tad R. Callister, Pacific Area President. In the end, this turned into a very good opportunity for Public Affairs.

The Prime Minister (equivalent of President in the US) was invited to come to the open house and kindly accepted our offer. All of us at New Zealand Public Affairs worked on different aspects of the special VIP session set up for the Prime Minister. There was a choir of about 20 young missionaries who sang the New Zealand National Anthem with Maori and English verses upon his arrival. On his way in, he shook hands with several senior missionaries and the Mission President (Porter) and his wife. Gae was in that group and got to shake the hand of Prime Minister Key. After a twenty-minute meeting with President Callister and three other Church officials, the Prime Minister shook hands with each member of the choir, chatting and joking with them. He was running late, but he spent the extra time greet each young missionary and listen to a parting song. They sang the Primary song about the armies of Helaman: “We’ll Bring the World His Truth”. On the way out, he posed with a couple of “missionary bikes”, but declined to demo them.

We worked hard on getting the press to come to this event, and we were able to get one photographer there from a chain of newspapers. The editor that I talked to who sent the photographer produces two Sunday papers, so I don’t know yet if anything got published. We also were able to get a higher level editor/reporter from a Chinese language New Zealand newspaper. This newspaper also has a website, in Chinese, that gets 20 million hits per day, obviously mostly from outside New Zealand. Who knows what the eventual outcome might be from these seeds.

Terry found a young man who will be in the first intake into the new MTC on 2 September. His name is Ross Pokere and he is enthusiastic and prepared. He is just itching to get going. You can read an article about him at http://www.ldschurch.org.nz/  right now, or longer term at http://www.ldschurch.org.nz/newsroom/article.asp?id=52A2A399-A2E2-43A5-8994-8D639BCF7088.

This is getting long, so I’ll just summarize some of our other happenings.

- We went to Hamilton (2-hour drive) and visited our Multi-Stake director there. We also went to the Temple, see photo.

- Terry spoke in Sacrament Meeting in our Albany Ward. The talk was on the assigned subject of judging righteously.

- We went for an overnight trip to Rotorua with the Streiffs for a p-day. The girls shopped, the guys fished, and we had a good time. In one of the spots we fished, there were 24” to 28” rainbow trout cruising around us, but we could not get a strike.

- Terry and Paul Streiff went back for another p-day, hired a guide, and tried the same lake near Rotorua. It was windy and rained all day. This time we got 8 and 6 strikes respectively, and Terry had a 26” to 28” fish on for about ten minutes, got it to the edge of the lake, and lost it. The fish jumped twice and was clearly visible from time to time in the very clear water. So sad.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We completed our project to make a Pacific Area database the opinion leaders submitted by our Stake, Multi-Stake, and National Public Affairs Councils. This project was complicated because the data was submitted in as many different forms as there were Councils. We are glad it is done and we can move on to more interesting work.

We had a meeting of about 2-hour duration with our director, Richard Hunter. He is a great boss and we like working for him. He clarified what he wanted us to focus on and our responsibilities. He is pleased with our work and our progress.

Last Sunday we helped with a public affairs training for 12 stakes from the Auckland area north. Mostly we were there to learn how to conduct our own training. We will be offering training to our two Multi-Stake Councils in Hamilton and Hawkes Bay. We are ready as we have been developing a lot of the knowledge needed to do the training over the last few months. We are enjoying our work more as we gain knowledge and skills.

Gae has been driving enough to not be nervous about going to the grocery store. Terry hasn’t killed us yet, but we have progressed to the point where many of the close calls are caused by some other crazy driver.

On 17 July, we went to Otara Market, a few miles south of central Auckland. Otara Market is a long-established market with many fruit and vegetable stands. It also has about anything else you could think of that can be transported by auto and set up under a canopy. We didn’t get to more than half of the booths because it started raining with gusto. We ducked into a McDonalds next to the market and had the worst meal we have ever had at Mickey D’s. Even the beverages were relatively foul tasting.

We Have started to swim over at the leisure center here in Takapuna. We jog back and forth for exercise. 

We Have meetings about Government Relations that cover all the Islands and what to do about it.  A Lawyer is always present for legal reasons.  One thing that we can tell you about is that over in Papua New Guina, several youth wanted to go to a YSA Conference but could not get the airfare for it.  They walked for 5 days through the brush, with very little food and water so they could attend their meetings!

After the Otara Market we went to Awhitu National Reserve (pronounced Ah-fee-two). It is on the west side of the island. There is a nice beach for walking and shell collecting, which is what we did. A national reserve is what we would call a national park. This park was remarkable well kept and perfectly clean, including the toilets. We had timed our arrival for low tide so that we would have the best shot at shells on the beach. We found quite a few shells, but not too many that are different than what we find right here at Takapuna Beach where we live.
Awhitu Beach (in foreground)
On 24 July we went with three other couples to a woodcarver’s shop west of Auckland called Woodcarvings N.Z. & Christian Creations. He is a Christian from Bethlehem in Israel. He and his wife are wonderful people. He took the time to show us how to make a bandsaw box with natural bark and then insisted that we take the boxes. He wouldn’t take anything for them. Gae chose a nativity scene cut into a beautiful fork of a tree for us to purchase. We have included a photo of this piece.

Wood Carving from Woodcarvings N.Z. & Christian Creations
A Few of our shells
After the woodcarver, we went further west to the Cornwallis Peninsula with the other couples for more shell collecting. This beach had very different types of shells as it is directly on the Tasman Sea (the Pacific between New Zealand and Australia). Access to the beach was either a longish walk over easy terrain or a short walk down a very steep dirt trail. Due to recent rains, the ‘walk’ was more like a mud slippery-slide than a trail, so we took the long walk. We had to clamber over a lot of slippery rocks and Gae had a little trouble from her knee not wanting to cooperate. We made it in and out, and really enjoyed our time together and being with our friends.
Terry, Gae & friends at Cornwallis (Gae at center)


Today at Sacrament Meeting, Richard Hunter (our boss) spoke. He is a very good speaker, and is on our stake’s High Council and a member of our ward.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Whitebait; Gae Drives the Car!

The whitebait fritter that Terry ate and enjoyed, as reported in our last blog, drew many interesting comments and replies. We have inserted photos of whitebait fritters for the readers’ enjoyment. For the record, Terry really and truly enjoyed eating it.

We have been working on many projects in the area of public affairs. We go to an office to work every day, similar to a regular job. We report to the public affairs director for the Pacific Area, Richard Hunter. He is fun to work with. We have 4 other missionary couples who also work for Richard Hunter – three couples work in New Zealand and two couples work in Australia. There is another manager in Australia named Alan Wakely.

Each stake in the Pacific Area is supposed to have a director of public affairs, and most do. This is a church calling and part of our job is to train and support these stake directors of public affairs. As with most large organizations, we have to be well organized and report to our management including the President of the Pacific Area and the Public Affairs Department in Salt Lake.

We had a semi-controlled panic a week ago when the Area President asked our group to prepare a very nice 16-page booklet about the Mormon Church in New Zealand to present to Mayor Len Brown of Manukau City, an important political figure here in New Zealand. The panic was over the fact that the request was made on Thursday afternoon and the visit was the following Tuesday morning. After a great deal of scrambling by many of us, the booklet turned out great. More importantly, the visit by Mayor Brown was a smashing success.

In the past couple of weeks, we both came down with head colds, Terry went to a meeting of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand, met with the New Zealand national public affairs council of the church, we both worked on collating data for opinion leaders in the area, communicated with many national and stake public affairs people, and attended a dozen internal meetings. Our Taylor kids and grandkids are organizing a pow-wow in Utah for the head of state of one of our island countries late this summer (sorry we can’t be more specific; security and all).

Terry went fly fishing with Paul Streiff and Gae went shopping with Pat Streiff on two different Saturdays. The Streiffs are our long-time friends from when we both lived in the Union 11th Ward in Sandy, UT. Paul caught a half dozen small trout in one short stretch of a spring creek on the first day of fishing and one small trout on the second day. Terry caught none. The fishing is very tough here in the winter, but we haven’t given up.   The photos show Terry fishing in the Waihou River, a spring creek, and the Ohinemuri River, where we fished the second Saturday.

It turns out that Takapuna, where we live, has one of the best beaches in the Auckland area. Gae and I have enjoyed walking on the beach. There are many dogs running freely but we have never seen a poop – the owners are very careful to clean up after their dogs. Our shell collection is growing. We inserted a photos of Gae and Terry on the beach.   The beach is only a 5 minute stroll from our flat.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Visit From The Prophet

President Thomas S. Monson visited New Zealand last week. He came with Elder Eyring and Bishop Burton to see the former Church College in Hamilton, which has been closed for a while. They had a few meetings and a Maori dance presentation for them, but mostly it was a low-key visit to allow President Monson to see the school site, because the Church is now formulating a plan regarding the future of the site and buildings. The temple is adjacent to the school, so it is important to the Church that the school site remains something that should be around the temple. We were not invited to go to Hamilton for this visit. We would have liked to go, but we understand that for the purpose of this visit, large crowds would not be a good idea. We did get a great report from our Area Presidency in a special meeting two days after the visit.

We are getting into a more stable routine. June in New Zealand is the equivalent of December in the US, so it was the shortest day of the year here yesterday (winter solstice). Since we are closer to the equator than Utah, the days are longer than they would be in December in Utah so we are not feeling as daylight deprived. We get wonderful sunrises when the clouds cooperate. Gae took the photo attached. We also have seen more rainbows here in only a few weeks than we would have seen in Utah in ten years. High temperatures have been in the fifties and low sixties, lows in the forties and low fifties.

Gae and I have been working together on several projects, and we have had several articles posted on the Church’s New Zealand website. At least one of our articles was read on the news by Mormon Radio (http://radio.lds.org/eng/). We are working on a shared calendar system for all the groups in the Area Office (where we work). We are having a few technical problems, but today we gave a progress report to management that was well received. We are working hardest on getting our arms around the whole public affairs job, and we are getting closer.

We are getting along with each other very well. Being together 24/7 is a new experience and we have enjoyed most of the transition. On each of the last two Saturdays we headed north for a while. We visited Whangarei (pronounced ‘fongaray’) a week ago. Last week we went with Pat and Paul Strieff to Matakana and visited an open-air market. There was live music, and lots of food to eat or take home, produced or grown by locals. Terry had a whitebait fritter, which is an omelet on toast. Besides eggs, the principle ingredient is a small fish, about 1/8” diameter by and inch to an inch and a half long – dozens of the little guys, at least. They are whole fish with blue eyes and pale whitish bodies. Gae, Pat, Paul, and two other missionary couples who happened to be there would not even taste it, so Terry ate the whole thing. The fritter was very delicious, honestly. Everyone else had Belgian waffles with bananas, whipped cream, bacon, and syrup. Terry had one of those as well but it was definitely not on his diet.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Visit to Hawkes Bay – Napier and Hastings


Rongokako - The Sleeping Giant




Terry & Gae on Rongokako - The Sleeping Giant


We are starting to settle into our flat (apartment). We both still feel that we truly received a blessing in getting in a week early. That reduced our stress substantially for the week and allowed us to get comfortable more quickly. We can see the bay from our east windows, and this morning there was a truly beautiful sunrise. We are on a corner and from the other windows we can see the swimming pool and the office building where we work.

This week Terry wrote his first article for the church website and it was approved by our director, Richard Hunter. It looks like Terry will be writing more articles for various media as a central part of our assignment. 

On Wednesday morning we packed up and drove to Napier and Hastings, part of the Hawkes Bay multi-stake public affairs council that we support. The other area is Gisborne (pronounced Gisbon, hard G). We were not able to drive there on this trip but we look forward to our first visit there sometime in the near future. We met with the council on Wednesday night and got to know them a little. The council is headed by the wife of one of the stake presidents and he presides over the council. On Friday night we went to their home for a delightful roast lamb dinner. Gae enjoyed it very much and that may have been because she did not know it was lamb until after the main course.

On Friday afternoon Desma Ratima took us on a tour of Hastings and told us many fascinating facts and stories about the area. Bro. Ratima is Maori and his employment is to lead efforts to educate many of the Maori in their own villages. He is having great success. He is also a city councilman and is running for mayor and will also be running for a position as a member of parliament. To say he is busy is understatement, but it makes it all the more special that he took time out his schedule to be with us.

One of the things he told us about was the Maori traditional story of Rongokako, a mountain known as the “Sleeping Giant”. I have attached a photo of Rongokako in which the sleeping giant is clearly evident. I have also attached a photo of Gae and me from the peak of the mountain, overlooking Hawkes Bay.

On Saturday morning we went to Hastings to participate in a Mormon Helping Hands food drive. A couple of stakes were collecting food for the food bank operated by the Salvation Army. We met a lot of very nice people during the process and collected lots of food. Sadly, some of the people in our collection area had to explain that they simply had no extra food. Gae and I felt bad for them. Not every house contributed, but they were all nice to us.


Terry & Gae in Hastings, NZ at Mormon Helping Hands

 
Our drive down to Hawkes Bay was quite a white-knuckle ride. It is normally about a 6 hour drive, but it took us a lot longer due to heavy rain and Terry’s ever-improving-but-not-yet-perfected ability to drive on the correct side of the road. The last third of the drive is through mountains and most of the road is very curvy. It was also dark for the last hour, not helping the situation. Fortunately there are frequent passing lanes so that the other drivers can get past the slowpokes like us. We did better on the way back on Saturday because the roads were dry and we were in daylight until we were out of the mountains.

We went to our Albany ward for church today. We both enjoyed it. There are many people with very different heritages and it is very fun to be with them. No one seems to pay any attention to that sort of thing. Tomorrow is Queens Day, a public holiday. The stores are still open so we will do a little more shopping. It is amazing how much we had to buy to set up our home.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Week 1 is Done

We are at the end of our first full week of work. It has been a little head-spinning trying to get used to a new set of jargon and lots of acronyms, meeting a hundred or so people that work in the office building, and working with our director to get our assignments worked out.  We learned today that a chilly bin is New-Zealandish for an ice chest.

Paul and Pat Streiff arrived from Samoa on Thursday, May 27th. They are our friends from a great ward we lived in together in Sandy. Neither couple has lived there for about 13 years or more, but we have stayed in touch. We are so glad to have them here with us.  Pat and Paul are also senior missionaries and will be working with us in public affairs.

Terry is still learning to drive on the left side of the road. So far no really close calls for an accident, but lots of little boo-boos. It is getting much better and more comfortable. Gae still says she will not be driving, but one never knows.

We are assigned to support two multi-stake councils in New Zealand and the public affairs in the Cook Islands. Our multi-stakes are Hawkes Bay and Hamilton. Hawkes Bay has 3 stakes and Hamilton has 5 stakes. Next Saturday there is a Mormon Helping Hands project in Hastings so we are going to leave on Wednesday headed for Hastings to visit with people down there. Hastings is about a 6 hour drive south from Auckland. We will stay over and visit with other people on our way back so that we’ll be gone until Tuesday night of the following week. We will be making calls tomorrow to start setting up appointments and finalizing the schedule. 

We will also be leading our department for media-related matters. We’ll be getting into that more after our trip.

This week we had lots of meetings, and it appears that we will have lots of meetings every week. We’ll probably get used to it by the time we leave. Gae is doing better at being regimented. We attended an evening meeting of the national public affairs council of the church, the people who have callings as stake directors of public affairs and those who lead them. The meeting was at night in Auckland and we had to drive across a very long bridge in a torrential downpour, on a narrow single lane with pylons on both sides, and very difficult visibility. White knuckles all around. We had enough adrenaline to keep us awake during the meeting, and then some.
We got a scare from the home front this week. My best babysitter horse, Porsche, colicked and nearly died. Kevin noticed the problem when he was feeding and Carrie got the horse to the vet. I have had horses colic before, and they died, so I was really pleased to hear that Porsche recovered and is doing well.  Thanks and kudos to Carrie and Kevin!

Our apartment is working out well. We were able to move in earlier than they originally said, so we did not have to stay in the hotel so long.  We moved in on Wednesday, May 26th.  We are only a five minute walk from the beach and we have a good view of the Bay. We’ll do better on using the camera so we can post pictures in this blog.

All in all we are having a great time and although we have each had a couple of melt-downs from wanting home, family, and familiar surroundings, we are enjoying ourselves.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Zealand Arrival

On Monday, May 17, 2010, we stopped in at EdiZONE and said goodbye to everyone and had a nice lunch with Tony and Carrie. Then we had to say goodbye to our children and grandchildren at the airport in Salt Lake City. That was tough for them and tough for us. We are already missing our ability to see them often. One of the fun things that the kids did was make us a ‘flat family’, which is a cute photo of each person on a laminated body. We’ll be able to take pictures of us with the flat family as we visit different places while we are working in the New Zealand and South Pacific area.

We met a beautiful young missionary sister, Sister Mahas, at the MTC, which is more than coincidence since she would be traveling with us on the same flight to New Zealand. She is truly committed to the work and was working on getting a message to people in the Salt Lake airport and in the Las Angeles airport where we had a 4-hour layover.

We arrived at the Auckland airport on Wednesday morning at about 5 AM. After we collected our luggage, we met a dozen or so young elder missionaries and delivered Sister Mahas to them. We met the mission president and his wife (Porter) who was with the young missionaries. We were picked up at the curb by another senior couple (Nance). Traditionally, the new missionaries are taken to One-Tree Hill, a vantage point to look over Auckland. The Nances tried, but there was thick fog and we did not make it. The Porters got the young missionaries there. The peak was above the fog and we saw some beautiful photos that they took. We will be heading up there ourselves soon. There is a road all the way to the top.

When we got to North Shore City, which is where our office is located, we were delivered to a hotel that is a short walk, like a city block, from the office. That gave us a chance to shower and change clothes so we could hit the office refreshed. Everyone at the office is terrifically nice to us, and we are getting lots of assignments from our Public Affairs Director, Richard Hunter. Gae is adjusting to the need for a structured schedule – which is quite an adjustment after 40 years of setting her own schedule at home. Terry is feeling fine about the environment, it is what he is used to.

We were assigned many jobs, but two stick out. We will be coordinating with and supporting three areas: Hamilton with 5 Stakes, Hawkes Bay with 3 stakes, and the Cook Islands with one District. Stakes and Districts, in the LDS church, are structured groups of local congregations, which are called Wards and Branches, respectively. We will also be working on media production and relations. There is a new video designed to introduce the church to people in the South Pacific area. The video funding was just approved and the script is being finalized or rewritten now so we are in at nearly the beginning.

We found an apartment only 100 yards from the office. It is quite nice, has lots of glass and views galore. It is in a tower, but only on the 5th floor (more like the second floor of apartments). We can move in on June 1, so we will live in a suite for a week and a half.  In the hotel suite we will have a kitchen with a washer & dryer . We are quite interested to try an urban lifestyle for a while. The area is surrounded by dozens of restaurants and hundreds of shops. Food stores are only a few blocks away. We are being assigned a Prius Hybrid, so we will have everything we need to thrive.

We have been to some kind of luncheon every day so far. Some for us and some for the couple we’re replacing (Sandy and Reece Webster). On Friday we were invited to the Mission President's home for lunch. We had a very nice time and really enjoyed getting to know President Porter and his wife. They are both fascinating people and have great senses of humor. One would have to have a sense of humor to be an ecclesiastic leader of a large group of 19 to 22 year olds.

On Sunday, May 23, 2010, we attended a country-wide stake conference. Most of the program was a video satellite feed from Salt Lake City. The speakers included Richard G. Scott and Boyd K. Packer, members of the Quorum of the Twelve. They gave insightful talks keyed to members in New Zealand. There are so many members, wards, and stakes, that the general authorities simply cannot get to all of them and this is a great solution. We are adjusting to the time change well, and neither of us fell asleep in the meeting, although Terry did come home and take a nap.

We are excited to get to work. Much of last week was spent learning from the couple whom we are replacing. They have worked their last day, so we’re on our own now. Gae is a little nervous, but only because she has no idea how good she will be at this job. (Terry is being really nice, because Gae says she is scared to death!)

MTC

We went into the Missionary Training Center on Monday, May 10, 2010. Monday was registration and orientation. Then the instructors put us to work, with role-playing on each of Tuesday through Friday. It was harder than we thought it would be, but very spiritual and helpful. The role-playing on Thursday and Friday was two-way; we played missionaries with another couple, then switched to a second couple and played less active members.

Overall, the experience at the MTC was spectacular. If young people considering going on a mission knew how great this experience is, they would not wonder if they should go. On Tuesday, there was a devotional just for the MTC. They reserve seats for us wrinklies on the front 4 or 5 rows. So we ended up being perhaps 12 feet from Sister and Elder Holland. He talked about responsibility and preaching with power and authority. He certainly was a great example of preaching with power and authority – he did not hold back in his message to the missionaries.

We decided to stay in our home and commute to the MTC. It worked well for us. We ate breakfast and lunch at the MTC. The food was good and varied, but not the quality we are used to from Gae’s gourmet cooking. We were tired by the end of the week and spent Saturday packing. Amazingly, we got down to 5 suitcases and only had to pay $88 in overage charges. I think they were a little kind to us because we were missionaries.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Beginning

We will go to three days of training in Salt Lake City on January 11, 2010. We will enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo for a week of training on May 10, 2010 and will leave for New Zealand immediately afterwards.

We will be serving in Public Affairs, the public relations department of the church. We will report to the area director, and may be asked to serve in New Zealand or any of several other islands in the area, including Samoa and Fiji. Senior missionaries get to recreate and travel quite a bit more than junior missionaries. For example Terry is definitely taking his fly rod as New Zealand has world-famous trout fishing. Our long-time friends Pat and Paul Strieff are currently serving in Public Affairs in the New Zealand area, and they are assigned to Samoa. Paul snorkels for exercise most days. It may be tough, but we will do our best.
We were required to attach a photo to our missionary application. Here it is. The trees in the background are the quakies that we planted shortly after we moved into our home. When we planted them, the entire bundle of baby trees was about 2 inches in diameter and each tree was about 12 inches tall. Now they are between 20 and 30 feet tall.