Gae's first photo, from hotel

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.