Gae's first photo, from hotel

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sydney Conference and the Tornado

We are really enjoying our time together. We were a little concerned about being together 24/7, but we are getting along well. We have grown together in many ways.

Gae and Terry in Sydney at the Opera House
 We travelled to Sydney to support a conference for all of the national directors of public affairs in the Pacific Area. Each country has a national director called (assigned) by the Church; these directors all traveled to meet in Sydney. It was wonderful to meet people we have been working with for the first time, and to renew acquaintances with those we had already met. The seminar lasted for two days, and we were in Sydney for five days in order to do our share of organizing and assuring that the travelers got to and from the airport. As part of the activities we attended the Sydney Temple, went to Sydney Harbor and the Opera House, went to a wildlife park to see many types of animals and pet kangaroos, and went to lunch and dinner together several times.

Flying Foxes (aka Fruit Bats) in Sydney
 The conference went well. Terry talked for an hour on media ideas and resources, complete with 47 PowerPoint slides and several handouts. Gae instantly made friends with everyone and was able to help people feel welcome. She has a great gift for it.

After the conference we had most of a day free, which turned out to be our anniversary, so we drove out of Sydney into the Blue Mountains. We are sure they are lovely mountains, but the whole trip was in a downpour with clouds near ground level so we did not get to see much that was very far from the car. We had a great time with each other anyway.

Stan and Rosalie Nance have been the public affairs missionaries in the office next to us since we arrived a year ago. They went home at the end of April, but before they left we went with them for a ride on a ferry that makes a mail run around a few islands. It is really a tourist ride, but they did drop people off on two of the islands and deliver some newspapers along the way. We had a great time with the Nances. We had lunch on the boat (billed as American hot dogs, but they turned out to be not so American). We hiked up to an overview of an old iron smelter during an extended stop on one of the islands. We saw two little blue penguins from the ferry boat at different times. The whole trip was beautiful and helped us recharge ourselves.

Gae on the mail run ferry
 The Nances were replaced by Jeff and Karen Larsen from American Fork, Utah. We are getting along splendidly with them. It is fun to watch them learn about their new assignment and try to get their arms around the job. We went through the same struggles. We are sure they will do well.

Gae accepted a big assignment to organize a videotaping for a crew from Salt Lake City. They were going to film in Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand; Apia, Samoa; and Sydney, Australia. She had almost all of the arrangements made including lining up many people for interviews when the trip was postponed until October. So she cheerfully unwound all of the arrangements. She did a great job even if the project did not come to fruition.

We have accepted an assignment to be the editors for the Ensign and Liahona magazine inserts. There is an eight-page insert in each magazine for ten months each year. We have to produce about 2500 words each month. Terry is writing some of it, but mostly we are organizing a group of people to get photos and write articles for us to edit. The end game is to get it all organized and then turn it over to a local person who will be called (assigned) to be the editor. We have produced two months worth of inserts so far and so far everything has been approved by the Area Presidency. It has been a busy but fun project.

Gae & Terry in Sydney.  It is said to be good luck
to touch the pig - Gae is going for the gold!

We just finished the first quarter report, which involves us gathering information from each of our countries and organizing it into a spreadsheet. As always, we have a little trouble getting some of them to report, but in the end we got it put together. One of the amazing things was our public affairs councils in Samoa overshot their media placement goal: 141 media exposures vs. a goal of 2. The media team is headed by George Hunt who is constantly working on relationships which allow so many placements.

Our director and his wife, Richard and Laura Hunter, are about to have their fifth son. We are very excited for them. Their son, Charlie, who has three sisters, is very happy that the new arrival will be a brother.

A tornado passed within a mile of our house and did significant damage. One man was killed. We were eating lunch at a restaurant in Birkenhead which was in the tornado’s path only 2 hours before it passed through. Tornados of this magnitude are rare in New Zealand.