Gae's first photo, from hotel

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 ( 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.