Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We Absolutely Love Our Mission!

We absolutely love our mission!   The personal growth that I have received from being here and serving the Lord makes me so happy!   My testimony, my spiritual, and my emotional growth have grown by leaps and bounds.   My love for my husband has increased.   Life has been good these last 8 ½ months.   It’s hard to believe that we are almost at our half way mark.   Lest anyone thinks I don’t…..I do miss my grandchildren and children, but I have seen that while I am in the service of my Lord that he has blessed my family and taken care of them in ways that I could not.   For this I am eternally thankful.

This week we have given five hours of missionary lessons to Lataai and Joshua.  It has added another dimension to our mission being able to study and prepare the lessons and then teach them.   It is hard to explain the feeling as you watch someone come in for the first time for the missionary lessons with confusion about the gospel, and then as they are taught line upon line and precept upon precept you actually just watch the light in their eyes become brighter and brighter.   It has been the most amazing thing for me to be a part of.   Lataai is what some may call a Golden contact.   She is very sensitive to the Spirit and recognizes when the Spirit testifies to her and/or prompts her.  She already had a testimony and the knowledge of fasting and prayer and of tithing.   In fact one day when we were giving her a lesson she was fasting because that evening her boyfriend, Joshua, was going to take the first missionary discussion and she wanted him to feel the Spirit and hoped he would accept the teachings of the Gospel.  That night when we taught him and then we challenged him to be baptized he accepted and said “yes” he would.  Four months prior to Elder Perron and I meeting Lataai and Joshua, his sister Catherine was baptized into the church.  At the time of Catherine’s investigation and baptism, Joshua and Lataai were not very supportive of her; they tried to talk her out of getting baptized, and gave her a pretty hard time.   Now – miracle of miracles – they both are taking the lessons, are so excited about the church, they want their parents to know of the gospel and be baptized, they can’t wait until the next lesson, they ask lots of questions and are so eager to learn.  When we are not teaching them Catherine is discussing the gospel with them and teaching them, and I am so amazed at how much she knows and how well she teaches them.  Joshua and Lataai have set a baptismal date for November 15th.   We still have three lessons to teach Joshua, and Lataai is attending those lessons again with him so she is hearing everything for the 2nd time and it just increases her testimony!

Elder Perron and I have had a flu bug this week.  He started it with hoarse voice, stuffy head, tired, and I felt bad for him….that is until he shared it with me!  Some things he just doesn’t have to share and I’m quite alright with that!  We have had a three day weekend this week because it is Labor Day Monday today for New Zealand.  Most of the senior missionaries took off and went sightseeing.   We were going to but then our weekend booked up with YSA activities and missionary lessons and so we have had a wonderful weekend full of activities.   Our favorite of course was teaching Lataai and Joshua.  On Saturday we got up early and went to a YSA BBQ at 6:00 am.  Yep that is right….not a misprint…at 6:00 AM!   The High Councilman and Stake President Counselor over the YSA wanted to treat them for a job well done at the YSA Regionals and express thanks for how hard they had worked preparing and putting on their Book of Mormon play and 6:00 AM was probably the only time they – stake presidency and high councilor - had free to hold this BBQ … we attended too!   It was fun being there so early and visiting with all the YSA. 

Then Saturday afternoon we went seashell hunting.   I was determined I wanted to find a sand dollar.  All the times I have ever been on the beach I have never found a sand dollar.  Some other senior missionaries were on this certain beach and said they found almost a hundred of them.   Bill and I went there once last week in the evening and found two broken ones but we didn’t find a good one….and besides Bill found them and not me.  I wanted to be the one to find a sand dollar!  So we had the afternoon free and it was low tide at 3:00 pm and that is supposedly the best time to find them at low tide.  Well we were at the beach for about 5 hours looking for seashells and we had a wonderful time!!  The first beach we went to where the other missionaries had found so many sand dollars, we combed the whole beach, and on our way back to the car….Elder Perron and I spotted one sand dollar at the same time!  I was so excited.  We also found a whole bunch of live Starfish at this beach and I had never found them before on a beach.    Then we decided to go to another beach where we had found some really good seashells once before and try looking there.  We went to one and I kept saying this isn’t the right beach.  Bill was determined it was.   After talking awhile and after we had combed the 2nd entire beach and found no good shells, then Bill remembered where we had been before, so we took off for that beach.  This was the jackpot!   We had to walk a long ways and through some rocks but we found an urchin green shell fully intact; but broke before we got home.  As we were walking back to the car I found five sand dollars all lying in one spot!  It was almost if someone had laid them there for me!  I am satisfied now….anytime I find a sand dollar from now on it will just be a bonus in life.  Then as we got up on the grassy area two wild parrots landed right in front of us.  They were so beautiful!  Bill would try to walk up close to get their picture and they would fly another 10 to 15 feet away which was beautiful because we saw all the colors in their wings, but we were never able to get close enough to take a good picture.  It was just so exciting to get to see them.   Then we got in our car and three wild peacocks walked by.  One male with all the beautiful colors and feathers and two female; I jumped out and tried to get a good picture.  The male got curious and started walking fast towards me, and of course I got scared and jumped into the car.  In the process I rolled part of my hair up in the window.  WE were laughing so hard.  The peacock came right up to my window.  We got beautiful pictures of him.   We had such a blessed day with the wonders of the world.  We also saw some really unusual large black birds with long – about 9-inch – orange beaks.  They were on the beach but were land birds so the beaks must be used to fish in shallow water or to dig for sand crabs?  We must have got too close to their nests because they were really squawking at us and were acting like they were going to attack us.  As soon as we got past this certain point they ignored us and all was well.  Later that night I dreamt those black birds did attack us and Bill had to wake me up because I was thrashing about and crying out.  They definitely left an impression on me. 

A change of writers here and Elder Perron is going to write about the other activities of the week.   It’s been a great week!

                Let me return to the early morning YSA BBQ that Sister Perron spoke about.  When we arrived at 6:00 A.M. the stake presidency had the BBQ grill heated up and there were about 10 YSA there at the appointed hour.  Those few YSA were in the cultural hall trying to get a basketball game going.  One of the young men was the Tongan missionary we spoke about in our last blog who had served in the Idaho Boise Mission, whose father had passed away while he was on his mission and now he was supporting his brother who is on a mission; and supporting his mother.  He mentioned he needed a scholarship to get an education.  We invited him to the institute building; was the one that I had introduced when Lataai (the young investigator we are teaching) was so moved by the Spirit.   The day our Tongan RM visited the institute he was taken over to the University by Ephraim – one of our institute students – to introduce him to the people at the university that help the Polynesian students who need assistance.  We had not seen this young man since that day.  He informed us as we visited with him on this early morning that it was going great at the University.  He had filled out all of the paperwork, had submitted his application and was being walked through the process by the advisor Ephraim had introduced him to AND it looked like he was going to be accepted and given a scholarship.  What good news!  Then this Tongan RM wanted to know if I wanted to play basketball with them.  I said, “No I will just watch.”  He said, “No come play with us then I can send an e-mail to my former mission president and tell him I finally beat an American in basketball!”  My competitive juices started to pump.  He had thrown down the gauntlet, but the Spirit whispered, “You are too old and will get hurt.”  So I replied, “Tell your mission President you still have not FOUND AN AMERICAN you can beat but you keep looking.”  It is amazing how much these Polynesians love basketball.  By the time we left there was a large group of YSA who had shown up for the event.  They arrive on YSA time when it comes to dances and activities – about an hour-and-half late.

As Sister Perron spoke of Lataai, she studies here at the institute for her university classes.  Lataai has had all five missionary lessons, but just comes up to our office and wants to know if she can have another lesson.  We have given her eight lessons in all and she has taken two with Joshua and they are scheduled for one tonight.  She loves the gospel!

Last week we needed to speak with the mission president.  We wear so many hats in our assignment.  We are directed by the CES personnel but they seem happy with what we are doing so we receive no real direction; we do have an ever expanding schedule of classes we teach here at the city institute.  Next semester we will be teaching six classes.  With our YSA hat we work with the 12 metropolitan stakes and three of those stakes are out of our mission boundaries so in that aspect we keep the mission president informed if there is anything pertinent we feel he needs to know.  Also there are two stakes up north which are in the New Zealand Auckland Mission but they were not included in our assignment but the Area Seventy over Auckland covers that area and when we made presentations to the Stake Presidents the stakes up north were included and they have both requested that we come up and meet with their Bishops.  So that was approved.  Now we are teaching missionary lessons.  Even though they sent us to the MTC and gave us a week of training on Preach My Gospel – senior missionaries usually turn any investigators over to the young missionaries – but again virtually all of the other senior missionaries work in the mission office or in the area office and are not out in the field.  Working with institute students and the YSA we are quite involved in seeing them come into the church so teaching is what we do – giving missionary lessons is not the norm for us BUT here we are.  All in all our efforts take us outside the box and I feel like I need to keep my file leaders filled in on where and what we are doing so they do not feel we are a law unto ourselves.  There is no formal process so I called the mission office to see if we could get five minutes with the mission president.  They said he was at a transfer meeting at the Panmure Stake Center with all the missionaries who are being moved this transfer and our best bet to catch him was to go to the transfer meeting and visit with him right after things were concluded.  The mission office said he would be leaving for the Cook Islands the next day.  We therefore drive to the Panmure Stake Center and WOW the parking lot is filled with missionary cars.  Large enclosed U-haul type trailers hooked on the back of the cars, bikes and luggage all over the parking lot.  Unbelievable if you have not been around for such an occasion.  We go into the chapel and sit in the back while the mission president addresses a chapel full of missionaries – turns out this is Tyler Perron’s first transfer.  Tyler had just come out of the MTC and was at this meeting.  Was getting his first companion and going to his first area.  What a blessing and a surprise for us to be in this meeting.  Next surprise, Elder Tibbitts who is a relative and had been the Zone Leader in the Whangarei Zone up north is being transferred and was in the meeting.  In that meeting we find out that Elder Tibbitts is to become the Zone Leader in

Auckland.  He will be the Zone Leaders with responsibility for central Auckland where the Institute is located.  We will see him around quite often.  More good news, Tyler’s first assignment was to go to Dargaville which is a small town up North in the Whangarei Zone where Elder Tibbitts just left.  Elder Jorgensen who had been a Zone Leader in Auckland is the new Zone Leader in Whangarei – Elder Jorgensen has been in the institute about three times a week so what a great relationship we have had with him.  There are 11 zones in the mission – not counting the Cook Islands – and 9 of those zones are here in the Auckland Metropolitan area so some missionaries will never serve up north.  Tyler is blessed!

JUST A NOTE to follow up on Tyler’s new assignment.  Sister Perron and I went to the Lynfield Ward in the Mt. Roskill Stake with Lataai, Joshua and Catherine this past Sunday.  There was a new missionary in the ward; had only been there about three days.  In visiting with him I find out he has just been transferred down from Dargaville – it turns out Tyler took his place.  Elder Freemanis – the Elder I was visiting with – said Elder Anderson – Tyler’s first companion – is a “great missionary; he is a very hard worker and follows the mission handbook and rules exactly as they are printed.”  I said, “Boy, I am happy to hear that!”

 It seems fire engines are becoming a bigger part of our life.  A few months ago we were evacuated from our apartment complex on a Saturday morning before we were dressed in any fashion presentable to neighbors and onlookers – but the fire engine was out front with lights flashing and firemen entering the building so I took long enough to become somewhat presentable.  Turns out it was nothing but an experience.  It was not more than three of four weeks later that some students here at the institute were cooking some rice – got involved in a table tennis game right off the kitchen – forgot the rice and were startled when the smoke detectors set off the fire-alarms which are connected to the fire department.  Engine with lights flashing and firemen in full gear show up; we knew it was not serious so no one evacuated the building.  Seems I was taught a lesson at the institute building that day- by the fireman – “everyone always evacuate the building when the alarm goes off.”  NOW that we know the procedure we had another fire truck show up at the institute just a few days ago.  Seems the same kids were cooking some chicken – got distracted and burnt the chicken!  The smoke set off the fire-alarm.  We evacuated the building so everyone – except Elder Perron – was out front when the fire truck showed up and the firemen in full dress with ax in hand ran into the building.  WE HAVE THREE free false alarms before they start charging you $1,500 per visit.  WE need some rules; WE have some rules; It seems YSA do not read rule books.  A great picture of the YSA standing out front of the building with the fire truck in the back ground all pointing at the culprit.   

                Sunday we went to Church with Lataai, Joshua and Catherine and introduced them to the bishop.  They found some neighbors that were members of the church.  Sunday evening Sister Perron and I went to the Henderson Stake for a YSA devotional.  Sister Perron spoke and did a great job!  A member of the stake presidency when he concluded the meeting used her comments as a great part of his closing remarks.

Monday was Labor Day down here so it was a holiday – we had planned to go on a short three day trip with some of the other senior missionaries but with the YSA 6:00 A.M. BBQ just popping up – then going to church with our investigators – finally there was the Henderson Stake YSA devotional where we had been invited to speak so we stayed home.  Monday we came into the institute and worked on some things and then we drove over to Mission Bay and had Mexican food at a nice place on the beach.  When that was over we walked down to the corner and bought some ice cream.  People have said to us – speaking of the brand – “It is the best ice cream in New Zealand.”  It costs $7.50 per scoop.  Have walked past it before and always said, “No ice cream is worth $7.50 per scoop!”  Seems we got two scoops each on this day!  Why not?  We saved money on petro and hotel rooms by staying home over the weekend!

After the ice cream we returned to our apartment and watched, Thomas S. Monson - An Errand From The Lord.  After it was over Sister Perron said, “That was great, I could watch that again, should we watch it again?”  I am not stupid so I said, “Yes, let’s watch it again!”  After the second viewing we retired to bed.  A great week! 


Aroha Nui,

Elder & Sister Perron
The colors in this bird were absolutely beautiful!!


It was Irvin again!

Fire truck at the Institute again.  Someone burnt food on the stove!  Who was it?!
Transfer day.  Elder Perron and Elder Perron

Elder Perron and Elder Tibbitts

Transfer day.  Amazing what a production this us. Trailers, bikes, suitcases. 
  President and Sister Balli shaking hands with all the missionaries.

That trailer is packed about as full as it can get!

Early morning BBQ.  These were such good men to get up that early and cook for the YSA.  They had been at the church the night before with a relief society dinner and had not finished clean up from it until after 9:30 PM
 Early morning sports and BBQ at 6 AM.  That's William shooting the ball. 
He wanted to beat Elder Perron.
My lovely find of seashells!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good

What a great day to be in New Zealand but in actuality every day is a great day to be in New Zealand!  Back in May we received word that Tyler Perron – my nephew’s son or I could say my brother’s grandson better yet I could say my mother’s great grandson – received his mission call to the New Zealand Auckland Mission.  His departure date was not until October.  Seemed far off back then – but TODAY (October 9th) Tyler arrived in New Zealand.  We have not seen him yet and it may be quite some time before we do see him but when Tyler’s plane touched down at the Auckland airport Sister Perron was up already – early in the morning at our apartment – baking pies for her institute cooking class. Two pumpkin pies and two apple pies.  

The flight from Salt Lake City to New Zealand is a long and gruelling process but you just keep at it until you finally get here.  In the process you have crossed the international-date-line so when you arrive you are very tired and have no clue as to what day it is.  That is the reality of the journey down.  NOW let me describe the trip from our point of view since we are in New Zealand anticipating Tyler’s arrival.   Yesterday morning - a day later than your day – Sister Perron and I commented to each other, Tyler is getting on the plane in Salt Lake City right now.  Later after we made that comment we drove from our apartment in Takapuna across the bridge into Auckland where we taught some institute classes; went back to Takapuna for a meeting in the Area Office; then back across the bridge and out to Mt. Eden for combined institute classes for the Mt. Roskill, Henderson and Waterview stakes.  Following the night institute classes we made a late night trip the store to get some things for Sister Perron’s cooking class the next day. Left the store, went home and made pie crusts getting to bed about midnight, got up in the morning and started cutting up apples and baking pies. Tyler was still not here yet... However before we were done with the pies he had landed.  I thought to myself – man that IS a long flight! We had put in a long days work, had a good night sleep and were starting another day all the while he was on the plane.  

Tyler is now in the MTC.  Funny thing we will be going to institute tonight at the Redoubt Stake Center – our normal routine – and the MTC is only 100 yards away.  Tyler will not know how close we are.  We may see some of the YSA returned missionaries at institute who are instructors at the MTC.  Maybe they can tell us if Tyler snores because I know we were useless the day we arrived.  Snoring would have been good!  Tomorrow when Tyler can keep his eyes open he will have a beautiful panoramic view of the area.  Both the Redoubt Stake Center and the MTC are built on a large piece of hillside property just off the Motorway in the south end of Auckland. 

A post script to the above paragraphs – When Sister Perron and I left institute late last night at the Redoubt Stake Center I glanced over at the MTC and the lights were out, just a few lights on in a couple of the apartments.  Thought to my self – I bet Tyler is asleep. 

We have had some great experiences over the last couple of weeks; simple things but spiritually uplifting to us.  Last April 25th Emily – a university student of Korean descent – was baptized. She was converted to Christianity; gained a testimony of Jesus Christ and the restoration of the church through the prophet Joseph Smith by reading the Book of Mormon.  That was six months ago because we attended a session of general conference with Emily while she was investigating the church.  Immediately after being baptized Emily enrolled in institute and is currently in one of Elder Perron’s institute classes.   Emily called us the other day and asked if we could take her to meet with her stake patriarch to get her patriarchal blessing, the ride she had arranged had fallen through. We were happy to give her a ride. During our visit with Emily while driving to and from her stake centre we learned that Emily has obtained a limited use temple recommend from her bishop.  Although she has not been able to attend the temple to do baptisms for the dead as of yet, she has her recommend.   She indicated that she has had such a desire to go to the temple that a few weeks ago – by herself –she caught a bus from Auckland to Hamilton – a two hour bus ride – then in Hamilton transferred to a city bus to travel out to Temple View where the temple is located.  Temple View is about six miles from Hamilton. She went to the Visitor Centre and spent some time.  She said before she could even see the Temple she could feel the Spirit.   She loved it there.   She is so faithful and so sensitive to the feelings of the Spirit.    She is a bright and intelligent girl.  She is 21-years-old and is a 4th year student at the University majoring in Medical Physics.  She will be graduating the end of this semester and then will be finding a job.  She is so sweet and is such an inspiration to us. 

A couple of Sundays ago – September 28th – we attended the Otara 1st Ward – which is a Tongan ward.  During YSA Sunday school class the YSA teacher asked a member of the class if he would sit behind us and interpret for us.  The young man moved over behind us and did a great job even though half of the class was in English anyway.  After class our interpreter asked us where we were from.   We told him, “Boise, Idaho.”  He got really excited, said he had served a mission in the “Idaho Boise Mission”; he had served in the Meridian South Stake; and his favourite area that he served in was Burley.  During the visit he mentioned that he was living in Tonga when he received his mission call and had moved to New Zealand following his mission to find work to try to support his family.  His father has passed away and he has a brother on a mission and he is supporting him.  When he found out we were working at the institute at the university he asked if we knew where he could get a scholarship because he was trying to get an education but could not get to school without a scholarship because all the money he was making was going to support his brother and his mother.  They do not have the perpetual education fund available in New Zealand but we told him to stop by the institute and we would help him look into things. 

On Wednesday we got a phone call and he said he had caught a bus into the city but could not find the institute.  Turned out he was only about two blocks away so we gave him directions.  About ten minutes later I got a text, “I am here!”  I went down stairs and he was standing just inside the front door.  I greeted him.  I then walked him around the lounge area and introducing him to the students that were sitting around.  I said, “This is William, he is a member, he lives in Otara and is visiting the University today to see if he can get accepted, he needs some friends,” I then asked a couple of the girls if they would show him around the building.  It is a three story building; they jumped right up and off they went.  I walked back to my office.  About twenty minutes later they brought him to my office.  Just so happened Ephraim, a great young man who returned from a mission about 5 months ago was here in the office.  Ephraim had just gone through the process of meeting with counsellors at the university who help Polynesian students who need assistance get into the university.  Ephraim said, “Here let me take you over there and see what we can do,” so off they went. 

 The next morning – Thursday – we had just finished breakfast in our apartment when our phone rang.  It was a young lady who introduced herself by saying, “I am not a member of your church, but I was in the institute building yesterday when you walked that returned missionary around and introduced him, telling everyone he needed a friend, do you remember that?”  “Yes.”  Well when you did that, it was not for that return missionaries’ sake that you did that, I felt such great, sweet feeling when you did that; I do not even know how to describe it to you but what you did was for my benefit,”  then she started to cry.  She wanted to know if we were going to be in the institute building today, she needed to come and talk to Elder Perron.   We agreed to meet her at 10:00 A.M.  She said, “I did not even know who you were but I have a friend who is a member of your church and I described you to her and told her where I was when I had this experience.”  My friend said, “Oh, that is Elder Perron” so she found your phone number for me.  Within five minutes of the call the phone rang again.  This time a young lady said, “I have a friend who is not a member of the church and she may call you.”  The caller indicated that her friend had told her about the experience she had had when she was in the institute building. “I gave my friend your phone number, hope that was alright.”  I told her that her friend had already called, just five minutes ago and we were going to meet with her at 10 o’clock!  We visited for awhile and were both excited that her friend had followed through by calling.  We agreed that we would keep in touch.  

 At 10 o’clock, Lataai, the young lady who had called our apartment showed up for the appointment.  Sister Perron was just starting her cooking class so I took Lataai upstairs and introduced her to Sister Perron.  We then went to where we had some privacy.  Lataai started by saying she had had a couple of very unusual experiences.  Then she started crying, eyes filled with tears she stopped talking to try and gain composure...  told me yesterday when I introduced that young man she had “a great warm feeling just sweep over her”... started crying some more...  “I do not know how to describe it”... she struggled trying to describe her experience. “I had this warm feeling just sweep over me and I got goose bumps.   I felt at that moment God was telling me I needed to be taught about the Mormon Church and I needed to get baptized.”  She continued by saying,” I have been diligently looking for a job for quite a long time and had nothing going then yesterday afternoon – after I had this experience here – I got a call and was offered a job”... then she started crying... “And that is not all, I got a second job offer later in the day and I had not even put an application in with the second company.  I asked them how they knew about me and they said someone had given them my resume.  I have gone from no job, no prospects to now having to make a decision where to go to work.  This all happened after I had been here yesterday and after I had that warm feeling sweep over me.”  She was still crying telling me of her experience all the time apologizing because she did not know how to describe what had happened to her.  I said to her, “I know how you feel – you have had a very moving, spiritual experience – you cannot describe a spiritual experience to someone but I have had spiritual experiences and I know what you are trying to describe to me.”  She continued, “I want to have you and Sister Perron teach me about the church and I want to get baptized.  I have had friends for years try to get me to take missionary lessons, I really did not want to take any lessons, I did not want to be a Mormon, felt I was a Christian and that was good enough.   Said she did not want the Elders to teach her.  We told her we could teach her the gospel.  After explaining this was really The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that some people called us Mormons because of our belief in the Book of Mormon which is a book of sacred scripture; Another testament of Jesus Christ.   We set up an appointment to start teaching her on the following Tuesday here at the institute.  

Since that time we have given her two lessons; are scheduled to go to church with her this coming Sunday.  At the close of our first lesson we asked her if she would offer the closing prayer.  She said she was not experienced in praying but she would offer the prayer.  It was a great heartfelt prayer punctuated with period of silence when she was crying.  She also prayed following the second discussion. When we left institute today she was there studying some of her college courses in the serenity of the institute building.  We are very excited about the opportunity to teach her the gospel. 

A few weeks back the students brought a couple up to our office, they were members of the church from Chile – South America – and he had come to New Zealand to take some university courses.  They were going to be here for several months.  They had just arrived in New Zealand two days ago and were walking through the campus and happened to see the sign on the front of the building – Institute of Religion - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They were so excited, did not know anyone in the country and stumbled into the church.  We introduced them to the students.  Sister Perron had a cooking class going on so they joined in and instantly had new friends and something to eat.  The sweet sister comes to the institute several times a week while her husband is in class.  She reads and helps do the dishes that the students seem to leave around.  When we left the institute today he was there studying.  The two of them and met through the YSA program in Chile and graduated from Institute.

Last week out in the Institute at the Panmure Stake I was attending a Missionary Preparation class and the instructor had divided the class into several groups.  They were working on giving one of the discussions from Preach My Gospel.  The instructor asked me if I would work with one of the groups and they were to give me the discussion – each taking one of the major points in the discussion.  Obviously they were nervous – so I told them to just follow the promptings of the Spirit and teach what they knew about their particular point and not worry about trying to memorize the paragraph.  Relax and enjoy the experience.  The next young lady in our group started telling us how much she loved the gospel – then she started to cry – she told us her father had recently passed away and how strong her family had been through the whole experience; Said she had a sister that had just entered the MTC a couple of days before her father’s death but how she stayed on her mission.  How the families knowledge of the Plan of Salvation was such a comfort to them.  She had experienced how much support the extended family and the church members had been to their family.  That she could not wait to get on her mission.  Everyone in the group was teary-eyed.  I suddenly realized this was a daughter of the Bishop that had passed away several weeks ago; we mentioned the incident in our blog at the time.  I was so very emotional the whole night; the strength of the gospel and the blessings of the Atonement.

We had a time change - Daylight Saving Time – a couple of Sundays ago so the days are starting to be lighter- longer; the sun is moving back South.   All you people back home might have noticed the sun is leaving your area and is headed our way.   It might make you sad but it makes me HAPPY!  The temperatures are still pretty cold here in the mid 50’s to low 60’s.  The wind blows a lot and we still are getting a lot of rain.  It is cloudy most of the time.  I am really ready for the warm weather and sunshine!   That probably sounds funny to most of you since you are headed into fall and winter.       

Thursday for my cooking class this week we made Pico de Gallo and Cafe Rio Tacos!   I think the students inhaled them.  They were gone before I turned around!   I did not do the salad, but we used little mini taco shells, cheese, cabbage, Pico de Gallo, and onions.  They were delicious!

On Friday, Tafi’s little girl, Ann Vahry, (Tafi is the office manager at the city institute) - came into the office with her.  When I tried to talk to Ann, she just stared at me and would not smile or say anything.  She just stared at me.  I took her picture and couldn’t even get a smile.  Her Mom said, “Yah, she is quiet now but just wait until she warms up!”  She never really warmed up I guess.  But when she left she gave me a hug and told Elder Perron “thank you for making me a pancake.”  As she was leaving, we heard her in the hall tell her Mom, “I love them sooo much!”  That same day we also had a Friday Activity at the Institute.  The committee planned a Quiz Bowl that was really fun.  We then had heaps of pancakes with ice cream and toppings to put on them.  Elder Perron is the Master Pancake Maker!

Before the activity and the pancakes were finished we got a call from the Area Office – they told us to come in and pick up our new car.  We received a new car when we arrived in New Zealand seven months ago; now another new car?  After we concluded the activity at the institute we had to go trade in our car; now we have a brand new white Toyota Corolla to drive around.  Being a missionary here is tough!!

Saturday we had so much fun!  We cleaned our tiny apartment really good.  We went shopping for a tower fan for our apartment – getting ready for summer – but never found one.  We found other things though that we weren’t really looking for.    Then we decided to find “The Woodcarver” that other missionaries had told us about.  It was a rainy cold dreary day and not really a good day for sightseeing so we thought it might be the perfect day to go visit this place.  I am so glad we did!   This sweet Palestinian couple from Israel were the kindest people.  Their place is like driving back into the rain forest.  The shop/store is also their home.   He carves religious carvings and a few kiwi birds.  He uses wood native to New Zealand, the Kauri tree is one of the main woods he uses.  He showed us all over his shop, his different tools.  He took a flat piece of board and carved us a small kiwi bird.  Elder Perron drew the pattern on the board.  From there the master woodcarver took over.  His wife made us a glass of orange juice.  Later she asked if we wanted some hot chocolate.   She was going to drill the eyes for our Kiwi bird and her husband told her to show me how to do it and to let me do it.  I said, “Oh no that is fine.”   They insisted so I drilled the eyes on the bird.  I was so afraid I would ruin his bird if I flinched-the-least-little-bit... but it was fun and I did it!    The nativity scenes that he carves are beautiful.  He had carved for 21 years in the Bethlehem area, and then he moved to New Zealand and he has been carving here for 27 years I think he told us.   I will put some pictures of his nativity sets below.  They are beautiful!  Later that night we went with Elder and Sister Wallace to dinner in Posonby at our favourite restaurant.  It was fun ending to a good day!

Sunday we attended Papatoetoe’s Ward YSA Committee meeting bright and early at 8:00 am.  There are wonderful things happening there.   We only expect greater things to transpire as time goes on.  Then we went to Sacrament meeting and Sunday school.  

This past weekend was the quarterly YSA activity.  Each of the twelve stakes had to put on a 15 minute stage production of a Book of Mormon story of their choice.  The productions were presented Saturday afternoon and then there was a dance that followed.  On Sunday there was an YSA devotional.  The Book of Mormon productions just set a spiritual tone for the whole weekend. 

We received a call from Lataai – our YSA investigator – and she wanted to know if she could come to the institute building and talk to us.  We were wondering what was up and were preparing for whatever might happen.  When she came in she said she had been talking to her boyfriend and he was willing to meet with us and take the lessons.  She was so excited.  She said he worked during the day and she knew we had institute at night so was concerned and wanted to talk to us about it.  We told her we could make it happen.  She also said she had talked to her mother and her mother was okay with her getting baptized.  She talked to her grandma and her grandma said she had met with the missionaries several times and went back into her bedroom and brought out a Book of Mormon.  Lataai was so excited she could hardly contain herself.  We taught her the Third lesson today.  She has accepted a baptismal date of November 15th.  She also complimented Sister Perron.  She noted that in Relief Society last week they talked about dressing modestly and wearing appropriate clothing and that modesty was beautiful.  She said when they talked about that I thought of you Sister Perron.  You are always dressed so nice and look so beautiful.  Needless to say we had a good day. 

Tomorrow night we have another lesson with Lataai and her boyfriend.  We will find a way to teach mother and grandmother also.  

This week is the last week of institute classes at the university.  Summer break starts next week.

Funny thing we started this blog on October 9th... seems we are so busy that we just keep putting this off.  Today however is the day Tyler came out of the MTC.  We have not inquired what area he has been sent to so we started this blog talking about Tyler and we will end it talking about Tyler.  He is sleeping in his apartment tonight in his first area here in the New Zealand Auckland Mission. 

We love you all!   You are in our thoughts and prayers. 
Aroha nui,

Elder and Sister Perron
PS – I found Sister Perron’s blog and added some STUFF so you may figure out who is or was writing!
Emily right after receiving her patriarchal blessing.

Graduation day for some of our students.  People make them lolly leis.  This is Craig. 

This is Bryton and Kane.  They just recently got married about 4 months ago.  They met at YSA and dated for a long time before they got married.   Wonderful people.  We have talked about them and their parents before in our blogs.  
This is the most adorable Ann Vahry who wouldn't say one word to me, and then as she leaves tells her mom, "I love them soooo much!" 

This is the Institute Quiz bowl.  Marilo, in the pink sweater is the girl from Chili.  And then Tena, Hailey, Latu, Tom and Bronson. 

The Quiz Bowl winners!  Emma, Bob, Katelyn, Tim, and Stevie!  They are so smart!

The master pancake maker

The start of our kiwi bird at the Woodcarver's.  
Elder Perron is tracing it the bird on a block of wood.

And no time later it is starting to take shape!

We loved him and his wife, Marciella.

Making eyes on our kiwi bird - hands steady please!

Some of the beautiful nativity sets he makes.  This one I think was out of olive wood.  The rest are made out of wood more common in New Zealand. 


This little beauty is only a mere $950 if anyone wants one. 
Our new car

A sweet note left on our car

Pumpkin pies

Elder Perron and Stacey. Stacey is moving to the States in a couple of weeks. 
She is an extremely bright computer tech!

Just proof for Nicole that I do lead the singing now. 
FHE with Elder and Sister Gifford Nielsen, Pacific Area Authority.

Book of Mormon plays by the YSA at the Regional  Conventions.  They were awesome. Each Stake put on a play, so there were 12 plays in all.

Just a sampling of the props and costumes they made.  Each Stake had an assigned BOM story to write a script to which usually included some dancing and singing.  It was quite awesome!   Talented people!

Nephi up on a tower preaching.

Brother of Jared when he took the stones to be touched and saw the finger of the Lord.

This is when Haggoth left the Americas and took many people on the boat somewhere.  The Polynesians believe they are from those people.

Me with the "warriors".  I love this men.   Even if Bill let me leave the house with two different shoes!  :-).   None of them even noticed, but I all of a sudden was conscious of EVERYBODY'S shoes!!!

Do you notice anything wrong with this picture?!   I must be too busy or too tired.  This is how I went to work today!  Hahaha. I went to the Institute and did my cooking class.  Ran to a missionary meeting..exchanges and as we were sitting in the meeting on the back row with all the other senior missionaries, I crossed my legs and SAW that I had two different shoes on!   Several pictures later with missionaries leaving etc. and a visit with the Mission President we left.  I begged Bill to take me home and he said no one would notice. Lol. We went back to the Institute and I took off my shoes as most all the Poly's do and spent the rest of the day in stocking feet. Got home at 9:45 pm.....took this picture.  All day and no one noticed.....OR they didn't say anything.  When I saw them I almost got the uncontrollable giggles in the missionary meeting in the chapel.  Jennifer...look in all those pictures I sent you...Yep...two different shoes! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Long Climb

I guess if you were back packing into a high- mountain-lake you would start your adventure excitedly anticipating the beauty that is up there.  The climb proves difficult at times and you grow tired but on the upward climb you pass “thru the woods and forest glades… and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.”  How invigorating!  Then back to the climb - higher and higher.  The climb proves difficult but when you are almost completely exhausted you come to a vista; looking “down from lofty mountain grandeur” you “hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze; then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, how great thou art.”  Energized - back to the climb, the lake is just over the next hill, and then perhaps just around the next corner.  Finally arriving, camp is set up and everyone settles in – “I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,” His “power thru out the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, how great thou art!” Having paid the price but feeling blessed we settle in to enjoy the experience, knowing God’s hand is in the beauty that we see and feel.

I guess the previous paragraph kind of describes the first six months of our mission.  We have worked hard; attending three ward blocks of meetings virtually every Sunday so we could meet the YSA by being in their Sunday school classes and also meet the various bishops and introduce ourselves – there are 83 wards.  Monday through Friday we are at the institute in the city on the university campus teaching classes, being around the students visiting and helping them create social opportunities.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights we are at institute classes in the 12 stakes in metropolitan Auckland.  On many Friday and Saturday nights we are often at YSA dances; during the day on Saturday we often go to a beach party or go to the temple with ward or stake YSA groups; always some activity going on.   We attended various ward and stake YSA committee meetings.  Having a black missionary badge and having plenty of church experience I am not shy so Sister Perron and I just show up and are lovingly accepted.  We attend regional YSA committee meetings which are made up of members of stake presidencies, stake YSA advisors and special guests – we just started going – the first time after we had been here only 8 days.  We invite ourselves to YSA family home evenings.  We have set up an Institute student council, started special activities at the institute. Through all of this activity we spent a lot of time silently OBSERVING what was working and what was not working; we resolved we would be a high energy, low maintenance, resource for priesthood leaders.  We desire to be dump trucks that haul heavy loads away from stake presidents, not dump more stuff on them.  Our desire is to solve problems not just point them out!  We have climbed a big mountain!  We are well known by all the stake presidents, many bishops and virtually all of the active YSA.  We have received more than we have given.   We have been refreshed over and over again all along the way by these great people, they love us – or tolerate us – and shower us with love and affection.  Not because of us but because they love the Lord and we are His servants.    

 Our Father-in-Heaven also loves us.  We were blessed when we first arrived in New Zealand.  Our next door neighbor – in our apartment complex – and also serving as fellow senior missionaries was Elder & Sister Reynolds.  Along with their area welfare assignment, Elder Reynolds was the executive secretary to the Area Presidency.   Noticing our hard work and listening to our stories, Elder Reynolds said, “I think I can get you an appointment with Elder Pearson the member of the Area Presidency who has responsibility for the Young Single Adults in the Pacific Area… if you would like to visit with him.”   “Yes, please try and set that up!”  We were informed that a meeting had been set up.  I think that was when the climb started getting steep very fast.  We spent many late night hours praying, fasting and preparing for this meeting, pulling from our OBSERVATIONS preparing RECOMMENDATIONS.  The meeting with Elder Pearson I would describe as one of those high vista points where one looks “down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze” because as we left the meeting our souls wanted to sing “my Savior God… how great thou art.”   

Elder Pearson did not take as presented our recommendations.  We discussed parts of the Pacific Area where these ideas were far ahead of the capacity of the church organization in some of the islands but he said for the “rock pile where you are chipping away” meaning Auckland, these ideas have some value.  He recommended that we get in touch with Elder Coward the Area Seventy over the Auckland Coordinating Council and present the ideas to him, they are worth pursuing.  Said he would be happy to write a letter to Elder Coward introducing us.  No, we will make contact with him.  With that encouragement the climb got still steeper.  We felt we had observed, read the Handbook over and over, prayed, fasted and had some recommendations of value and had now been encouraged by a member of the Area Presidency.  We spent many more sleepless nights fleshing out the proposals.  When our recommendations were quite polished and prepared for presentation - not by chance but what we now consider divine intervention – we ran into Elder Coward at a sacrament meeting we both attended.  Elder Coward was trying to depart out the side door of the chapel after the meeting and just happened to run into us.  We shook hands and Elder Perron said, “We need to set up a time to meet with you.”   Elder Coward said, “Do you have five minutes now?” The five minutes turned into forty five minutes.  Elder Coward quickly evaluated us, determined we might have some ideas of worth and asked us to send him an e-mail with bullet points outlining our proposals.  Time was spent summarizing the proposals into bullet-points and the e-mail was sent with the full proposals as attachments.  A day later we got an e-mail back letting us know he liked the proposals, asked us to make some revisions which we did and sent them back.  He sent an e-mail back with a copy to his executive secretary telling us we were on the agenda to make a presentation to the stake presidents on September 14th at the coordinating council where he meets with all of his stake presidents. 

Elder Perron started organizing and creating a power-point presentation for the Coordinating Council Meeting and writing the training curriculum, putting dates together, and implementing a pilot program in the Papatoetoe 1st Ward.  September 14th arrived and we made our presentation. 

The next day we received an e-mail from Elder Coward:  “Elder and Sister Perron, Thank you very much for the excellent presentation yesterday at our coordinating council.  It was very well received.  Many thanks.” That was on Monday.  On Tuesday the Stake President from the Whangarei stake called and wanted us to come up and speak in the YSA Session of stake conference.  Ten minutes later the stake president from the Otara Stake called and wanted us to make a presentation to all of his bishops on the coming Sunday.  At institute on Tuesday evening the stake president from the Papatoetoe stake told us he had instructed his bishops to call an Assistant Ward Clerk Young Single Adult which was included as part of our recommendations.  The Tamaki Stake President called and wanted us to make a presentation to all of his bishops on the Sunday next.  The stake president from the Kaikohe stake called as calendared us to speak to all of his bishops on November 9th.  It is nice being in the top of the mountain enjoying the efforts of the climb.  NOW THE EFFORTS OF OUR MISSION WILL BE VERY FOCUSED.  We will run; we will work endlessly on rescue, retention and registration.  Our day to day routine will not change, just get busier but we are now linked arm in arm with all of the priesthood leaders.  What a mission it has been AND what a mission it will be for the remainder of this assignment!  The Lord loves His children – even us.  WE LOVE THESE GREAT PEOPLE!   

Sister Perron will finish this blog from her points of view: 

 Anyway back to Elder and Sister Reynolds….their last day in New Zealand was Thursday, September 25th.   We picked them up at the Area Office at 1:00 PM to take them to the airport.   We were there early about 12:30 but they were not ready to go.  Being faithful missionaries they stayed right up to 1:00 PM.  Elder Reynolds was finishing up some paperwork on the computer.  Sister Reynolds was still saying some tearful good-byes.  Finally Elder Reynolds was ready and three or four more hugs goodbye to people in the office as they left the building.  It made me sad already for the day when we will have to say “good-bye”.    We finally got to take them to our favorite restaurant in Ponsonby called Cezanne’s for lunch.  We took our time and enjoyed this quaint little place.  Their plane did not leave until 7:00 PM but they wanted to be to the airport between 3:30 – 4:00 PM.    After lunch we drove up to “One Tree Hill” - they had not been up there.  It was a bit windy and cloudy so the view was not as good as other days, but still beautiful.  They were happy to mark that off of their to-do-list.  We then headed to the airport and got there about 3:30 pm.   We hugged and said our good-byes with hope that we will actually take the time to see each other again when we get home.  We have surely loved these good people! 

One of the students told us we needed to go shopping at Otahuhu, (a town here in greater Auckland) if we wanted some native clothing.  So on one of our really slow days at institute – during spring break – we slipped away and went to the market.  It reminded me of the clothing district in Los Angeles.  Not near as big but we did find some lava lava’s for both Elder Perron and I with nice Polynesian designs.  It was fun!   It was quite an experience!  I actually want to go back and look for one more thing. 

On Sunday the 14th we were so fortunate as to present our thoughts, ideas, and proposed initiatives to the Area Coordinating Council with all 12 Stake Presidents, Elder Coward, and President Balli, our Mission President in attendance.  Our proposal was well received.   The Spirit was strong with all these faithful men in attendance.  After our presentation we were privileged to linger a little longer while they discussed some YSA issues and to see if anyone had questions for us.   We felt very blessed to be asked to present and to be in attendance.   Elder Perron spent hours preparing for the presentation and in my opinion he did a grand job!

On Thursday the 18th we attended our second missionary zone conference.  Last time most of the senior missionaries all attended to the same zone conference.  This time they separated us and spread us out so we attended different zone conferences.  We attended the Manakau zone conference with two or three other senior couples at the Manakau stake center in Mangere. One of our delightful missionaries that used to be a zone leader and would come to the Institute to teach YSA investigators at times is now one of the Assistants to the Mission President.  It was fun to watch him help out and he and the other assistant also presented a portion of the meeting using Family History as a tool to teach and bring investigators into the church.   They presented the pamphlet called “Me and my Family.”    

President Bali talked about the Lord hastening the work.  He each asked each of us to ponder these questions…”’How do you feel the Lord has invited me to participate in this hastening of the work?” and; “What do I need to do personally to keep pace with this hastening?” – some thing for all of us to ask ourselves. 

On this day I was having a hard time keeping my mind on what was being said.  Our daughter, Brooke had gone on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and was there when the eye of Hurricane Odile passed directly over Cabo San Lucas.  We heard from them in the wee hours of the morning - after the hurricane had struck - that they had survived and that there was a lot of damage. They had not been able to get away from their hotel so did not know just how bad things really were but reported the bottom floor of their hotel had water waist deep.  Cell service went down shortly after that and we had not heard from her for four days.  At lunch time – at the zone conference – Elder Perron and I found a quiet room and he gave me a blessing to try and calm my troubled nerves.  He told me to have faith in the Lord and trust that he was taking care of our daughter – better care than we could.   Our zone conference ended at 3:00 pm.  I checked my phone immediately after the closing prayer and I had received a text from Brooke timed at 2:56 – just before our meeting closed – that said, “Mom we just landed in Tijuana. Call you when we get into San Diego.”  Relief!   I cried with joy!   We felt we had just cashed in on one of our blessings of serving a mission.   That was one of many blessings we feel we have received from our loving Heavenly Father watching over and blessing our children while we serve.   I wish I could write them all, but they are personal and dear to our heart. 

On Saturday, the 20th the 12 Stake LDS Share Expo was held at the Redoubt Stake Center.  Jonathan Johnson the founder and president of The More Good Foundation and two of his people came from Utah to attend.   We had fifty YSA trainers there and ready to assist and train anyone on eight different social media platforms – they helped people learn how to share the gospel through social media.  At each platform booth (Face book, Pinterest, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, YouTube, Blogging, and Church websites) they gave the members a card with three assignments to share the gospel that evening on that particular platform.  Once they completed the card they got a lolly -which is candy;  Then on to another booth and another platform.  After five platforms - 15 tasks they got a chocolate bar as a reward.  Just keeping things fun!  During the day from 12-3:00 pm it was for families.  From 5 to 8:00 pm it was for Young Single Adults.   The total of missionary social media shares that day was 2,128.   It was a good day!   The trainers came at 8:00 am that morning to set up.  They did not leave until after 9:00 pm.  It was a long day too!   But everyone was happy and felt we had done a good thing in sharing the gospel without any shame. 

The following Sunday was probably one of our busiest days since we have been on our mission.  We left our apartment at 7:00 A.M. to be at a Ward YSA Committee meeting at Papatoetoe 1st Ward which began at 8:00 A.M.  We are seeing success in this ward with these meetings.   There is unity between the committee members.   All committee members were in attendance.   The YSA rolls are being cleaned up and members being transferred that are no longer there and members that have been lost are being found.   Less active members are being reached out too with love and acceptance, and an invitation to come back.  A list of 95 YSA is now at 65 YSA with about 24 of those being active.  Brother Michael Vea , the new Assistant Ward Clerk Young Single Adult told us of two experiences he had the previous week.  He JUST HAPPENED to run into two YSA on his list while he was out trying to find them.  None of us feel that it was just a coincidence.  We feel like Brother Vea had some divine intervention.   He is a diligent faithful young man.  He does not have his driver’s license - he has a car but not a driver’s license for New Zealand – so he rides his bike to work, to all the meetings he attends, to church, to Institute.  He has such a strong testimony and he is so faithful and reliable.  He strengthens our testimony and is an example to us. 

We left this meeting and went directly to Otara Stake where we met with the stake presidency and the bishops.  Here Elder Perron presented his Recommendation for Rescue, Retention and Registration – institute – as pertaining to the YSA.   The presentation was well received and I think we will be seeing much more training for us to do from these meetings as new Assistant Ward Clerks Young Single Adult – which are to be YSA returned missionaries are called in these wards.    Our hope is to present this at all 12 Stakes in Elder Coward’s Area.  We are hoping to get all the wards and stakes in unity helping us help them rescue the many young single adults that are inactive.  We have 7,400 YSA in the metropolitan area and 2,500 are active.  This number is too mind-boggling for Elder Perron and I to handle.  It will take all of us working together and working hard to make a difference and “save the rising generation” that will be leading this church in the future.  I do not think this is a problem just here in New Zealand.  I think this is a problem worldwide.  The young adults from age 16 to 25 years of age are the largest age group joining the church today.  Young adults from that same age group are the largest group also falling away from the church today.   We all need to beware of our responsibility to help save and prepare the “Rising Generation.”  As President Monson asks all of us, “Who is the last person you rescued?”  Our dear prophet is a prime example of reaching out to the ONE! 

After this meeting we headed for Whangarei, which is about 2 hours north, where we had been asked to speak at a YSA Devotional following their Stake conference.   I always get way more out of these meetings than I give.  Also speaking at that devotional was President and Sister Going, Hamilton Temple President and Matron; President and Sister Balli, Auckland Mission President and his wife.  What a pleasure to be in their presence and hear them speak!  After this meeting the YSA handed each of three speaking couples – who had traveled to speak to them a boxed lunch to eat on our way home.   How sweet was that!  And I was getting pretty hungry so I really enjoyed it!  That was just so thoughtful and kind!  We get to hang out and meet the nicest people!

After this meeting we traveled the 2 hours home and went directly to a Regional Young Single Adult Committee meeting that was held at 5:00 PM with members of the stake presidencies, YSA leaders and advisors in the Auckland region.  These are always informative meetings and we don’t want to miss them.

After this meeting we had an hour with nothing to do but we were forty minutes from home so we just sat in on an informal meeting with the couple heading-up the 2015 National YSA Convention being held here in February.  It’s a really big affair and I get tired just hearing all the things everybody on the committee is responsible for and what they are in charge of getting done!  Finally at 7:00 PM the 2015 National YSA Convention committee meeting got underway with all the members in attendance.  They all deserve a great big GOLD star when this is all done! 

Finally at about 9:30 PM we got home.  Yeah….I was a little tired!  I went right to bed and slept like a baby!

Our cooking class this week was really fun!  Two of the students taught the class how to make Sushi.  Each student made their own sushi roll.  Even Elder Perron and I made AND ate a sushi roll.  Pictures below to see what a fun time we had! 

On the Saturday the 27th we attended our first Beach party of the summer.  It’s not really summer yet but everyone is wishing for summer to arrive!  The Papatoetoe Stake YSA had a beach party and BBQ.  They had a lot of fun with games, hiking, and food!   I was pretty cold so you will see me wrapped up in a blanket!  It was windy that day and the weather did not cooperate for a beach party but that does not deter the Kiwi’s here.  They are outdoors no matter what the weather and enjoy life to the fullest!

On Sunday the 28th – yesterday – we were invited to the Tamaki Stake Presidency / Bishop’s Meeting.  This is the most extra-ordinary stake.  Every meeting we attend with them our hearts are so touched.   The Spirit is always so strong there.  These men magnify their callings. In our meeting with them I have never heard the song - “The Spirit of God” - sang so beautifully by nine men.  They had the volume and beauty of a whole congregation as they sang a-cappella with exquisiteness amplifying their rich voices praising their Lord.  They passed the sacrament as many of the Bishops were missing their ward sacrament meetings to attend their quarterly training.  It was so special to have a counselor in the stake presidency bless the sacrament and the Stake President pass it.   President Lavea offered the sacrament to me.  I was deeply touched.  Elder Perron gave his presentation and it was received with enthusiasm.  I pray the Lord will bless this area as they implement these programs and focus on the rescue, retention and institute registration of the young single adults - “Save the Rising Generation.”  

We love our mission.  We love the young single adults of New Zealand and of the world.  We pray for blessings upon this great land and upon our own.  We testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  We are thankful for the atonement of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.   We are thankful for a loving and kind Heavenly Father.  We are looking forward to General Conference and the teachings of Latter-day prophets.  We are happy and busy trying to serve a mighty mission.   We pray God will bless you in all your righteous desires.   

Aroha Nui,

Elder and Sister Perron 
Brooke, survivor of Hurricane Odile, smiling pretty, happy to be in San Diego and have a shower, thankful to put on make up, and order in pizza!  Life is good and she is feeling blessed!

Zone conference.  President Balli teaching.

 Some of the trainers getting ready for the LDS Share Expo

Sister Perron and Kaiawhi, my dear friend and one of our key trainers

Some more of our trainers. Dominic, Irae, Simone, and Manu.  Love these guys!

Hatu, the Director of the Area LDS Publishing Services and Sister Brereton

Elder Coward

Elder Coward and Elder Perron.  As Elder Coward told him after our first meeting with him, " Let's link arms and go forward."   And that is just what we have tried to do.  Elder Perron has a special fondness for Elder Coward. They work well together. 

And is Bob one of our favorite people?  We might just bring him home with us.  Lol

I don't know what all these hand signs mean??

Lots of "selfies".  :-)

Conway.  We love Conway.  You will see him in all the "Haka's". Front and center!   He is one of our key trainers too.  We will cry when we come home and have to say goodbye to him.   There's many we will cry   about when we say goodbye.  We are not even close and we are already sad about it. 

Elder Perron and Raven

Ephriam, one of the four key trainers, is beat!  Still hours to go!  :-)
All of our trainers together
More "selfies"!  :-)

Dantzel Tiakia, Sister Perron, Manako Nemaia, and Hatu.  These Institute students are both his nieces.   He was so happy that we knew his nieces and that we were good friends with them. 
He was a proud uncle that day!
Lei, Me, and Maria.  Lei is Brother Soloai's daughter.  Brother Soloai is the Institute Director that we work most directly with here on our mission.   Maria is a Stake YSA leader that is so shy!  I live to tease with her.  We have a lot of good laughs together.  Lei helps teach my Institute music class she can sing very well and can play about anything on the piano.  And she teases me all the time!!   :-)

Who gave the lolly bowl to Dave?   I think he thought it was Halloween.  He was passing out candy to everyone!  He forgot they were suppose to earn it!   Dave and Ephriam.

How many missionary shares on social media we did that night. Yes!!

A picture these guys shared with me.  A little bit of Tongan cultural tradition.  This was the day of the birthday celebration for their one -year -old niece.  The uncles wear these ta'o gala outfits.  The oldest Uncle Tom will hold the niece for pictures.  He is older than his twin brother by six minutes.  They will just sit in these outfits in the front of the room at the party and be honored and in honor of their niece.   They will not eat at the festivity until all have eaten. They had a small birthday party for their niece, there was only 100 people invited.  In photo:  Chris's mother, Dave, Chris, Tom, and another one of their aunties.  This picture becomes more valuable to the niece as she grows up because she sees her uncles who were there for her and cares about her, and loves her, and who will watch over her throughout her life.  In our tradition a father will traditionally give away a bride ( his daughter) to the groom.  In Tongan tradition an Uncle will give away the bride.  Usually the oldest uncle.     I love the Tongan traditions!  They are so family oriented with deep roots.

Papatoetoe 1st Ward YSA pilot program with YSA assistant clerk.  Ward YSA committee meeting is fully staffed and all in attendance. We are seeing progress!  Michael Vea is closest to the camera on far right. 

Our picnic lunch prepared for us by the YSA in the Whangarei Stake after we spoke at their Stake devotional. They were too kind to us!

 On the way home God smiled upon us with this beautiful rainbow.

Loni and Emma preparing rice for the Sushi cooking class.
We are ready for the rest of the students to arrive!  manako, Emma, me, and loni.  I love these girls!  Loni makes us laugh so hard.  She is so full of life and so funny!

And all the students have arrived.  Getting ready to make their own sushi roll.

I guess I thought Dave needed some more rice.  Hahaha

Wow!  Even Elder Perron is making a sushi roll.  I seem to remember somewhere in my life him telling me and the kids he would NEVER eat sushi.   Lol. However this is not raw fish sushi.  It is teriyaki chicken and tuna.  We , both Elder Perron and I, quite liked our home made sushi roll! 

Elder Perron and my favorite little restaurant.  Good-bye to our dear friends the Reynolds. 
Lunch before we took them to the airport.

Papatoetoe beach party!  Me in the background in a blanket!

Hey!  It's cold but it's a fun beach party!

Someone just got a fun text!  :-).  And I'm not the only one with a blanket!

These guys are tough!  I thought they might be the All Blacks rugby team!

Always more than enough food!