Auckland

Auckland
Gae's first photo, from hotel

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.