Monday, March 24, 2014

We Love Our Mission!

We have really worked hard this week trying to learn the names of the young single adults that we are working with - I feel we are making great progress but there are several
hundred so this will be a work in progress.  We are developing close relationships with quite a few of them however.  We love them!
Monday, Debbie visited the "Missionary Preparation" class taught by Brother Soloai, our Institute Director.  There was a class discussion on how you can know that your
mission call - where you are called to serve - is inspired and comes from the Lord.  It was a great discussion.   Debbie bore her testimony that she knew "for sure" that our call to New Zealand was inspired and that we are serving where the Lord wants us to serve. There are no evening institute classes on Monday evenings for obvious reasons (FHE) so got home earlier than usual.  We walked to the beach from our apartment and watched the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful!  By the time we got back home it was dark. 
 Tuesday and Wednesday we had our usual daily activities, being at the Auckland Institute all day and then the Stake Institute classes in the evenings.   Tuesday evening at one of the stake institute classes we were on a panel, answering student questions regarding missionary work.  Wednesday we taught our Doctrine and Covenants class.  We had a non-member, Jasmine, who attend our class being brought to institute by one of her friends.  Afterwards we visited with her and Elder Perron taught her about the Restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon.  I challenged her to read Joseph Smith's testimony in the front of the book and asked her to pray to know if it was true.  We have a time set to meet with her next week. 
Thursday we shopped in the morning for ingredients for my cooking class. Then we rushed to the Institute to set up.  Last week the youth wanted to learn how to make a fruit
salad.  I told them that wasn't cooking, but I think they just wanted fruit.  They LOVE their fruit here.  I decided to do something a little different than what they are used
to... I made a "Snickers Candy Bar" fruit salad with whipped cream.  You can't find Cool-Whip here, so we had to use real whipped cream. They loved it!!  I think my advantage is I don't have a tough crowd.  The youth like about anything edible!   After class they asked me about cornbread.  They said they see pictures of it with chili in magazines but have never tasted cornbread.  So, next week we are going to make chili and cornbread. I hope I can find corn meal.
About 2 o'clock we drove back to our apartment to meet with an exterminator.  It seems we had a "little welcoming committee" waiting for us in our apartment when we
arrived here in Auckland.  I think through our own work we have just about got the bugs taken care of but just to make sure we will have them sprayed.  I wake up every morning with new bites and Elder Perron has none!  I don't get it. 
After visiting with the exterminator we hurried back to the Institute.  Later in the afternoon we visited with three young people that wanted to know how you can tell the difference between "receiving a confirmation" from the Spirit compared to just "feeling giddy" about someone.  One girl has been through a lot!   She had been fasting and praying trying to make the proper decisions.  In one of her prayers, she got a strong impression that said, "be patient my child... get through this last trial... and I will bless you."  Elder Perron gave them really good advice and read a couple of scriptures with them.  Unbeknown to us at the time, one of the three, a young man named Jason, was not a member of the church.  We gave him the discussion on the Restoration.  I then gave him a Book of Mormon and challenged him to read the Joseph Smith testimony and to pray about it.  He said he would.   After we left the room where they were talking he told the girls that he has been studying a lot of different religions lately and he shared with them that twice in the past few weeks he has had "like a dream" where he was told, "don't do anything yet... something really good was going to happen to you."  He had a feeling that THIS church was maybe the good thing that was going to happen to him!  We meet with him again next week.
It's hard to share these experiences and give them the "story" they deserve or the feelings that we experience as the Holy Ghost bears witness. The Spirit is so strong.  We LOVE our mission and testifying of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Thursday evening we went to a Stake Institute that we had not yet visited.  We were introduced during the Devotional and asked to give a short talk.  We already had met and knew many of the kids from our Sunday visits to their wards.  This institute is being well run and is thriving!  There is probably 110 youth that attend Institute there weekly.  Afterwards they had a light supper.  The mini homemade meat pies (hamburger and onions) and the mini sausage rolls had the flakiest homemade crusts I have ever seen.  Delicious!  There was also fruit and homemade doughnuts AND the best homemade lemonade I have ever tasted!  We got home about 10:30 totally exhausted! 
 Friday was a very easy day. Institute from about 10 am to 4:30 pm.  We even walked downtown (Queen Street in Auckland) for lunch at a little India restaurant.  The food was a little hot for us, but we enjoyed the experience still the same.  Across the street was a "Lush" store and Bill was patient and let me shop in there for a few minutes.  (Just wanted to let Kathy and Kendra know there is a Lush store in Auckland!)  On the walk back we took a wrong turn.  Let me tell you the hills in Auckland are STRAIGHT up! We laughed and said, "act like this doesn't hurt!"  As the college students passed us and smiled, you knew that they knew it was hurting us!   On our way home in the evening we drove through Ponsonby, a suburb of central Auckland, where Bill had served 50 years ago.  We then drove the beautiful scenic way home with a beautiful view of the ocean. We fixed a nice dinner and just enjoyed staying home.
Saturday was a real treat!  It was our first real P-day since we have arrived in the mission.  Bill asked if I wanted to see some beautiful country and visit a very sacred historic site. I said, "that would be nice!"  Bill suggested we drive up to the Bay of Islands and visit the quaint little village of Paihia and then go to Waitangi where the Maori and the English signed their treaty and visit the museums. It turned into an all-day trip but Pahia is BEAUTIFUL!  Both Pahia and Waitangi are located right on the waters edge of the Bay of Islands.  (Don't worry if you have no idea how to say the names of these towns.  BUT the cool thing is that I am starting to say them right!! )  The little village if Paihia is so pretty.  Waitangi is where the current country and government of New Zealand got its start.  In 1840 the British and the Maori Chiefs signed a treaty that allowed the Maoris to keep their independence and freedom while allowing them the protection of the British.  The British were in a hurry to get the treaty with the Maoris signed because France had designs on these islands.  It was not an easy thing to get accomplished because there were quite a few Maori tribes and no one chief could speak for any other chief.  The history and the historic grounds at Waitangi are beautiful and well preserved.
 Now for a little Polynesian history and church history….the treaty here was signed in 1840.  In 1843 when Debbie's great, great, grandfather Noah Rogers, the first missionary sent to the Pacific Isles, arrived in Tahiti he records in his journal that "the natives in Tahiti were being attacked by French War Ships.  The French warships were firing their cannons on the natives."  Today Tahiti and the surrounding islands in that area are known as "French Polynesia."
On Sunday we visited three wards - attending the YSA Sunday School classes in each ward.  The first ward we visited was the Mt. Wellington Ward - a Samoan Ward.  The sacrament meeting was all in Samoan.  It was a very spiritual experience being in the ward and listening to the members sing.  I also understood some of the messages in the sacrament meeting talks - David O. McKay - Thomas S. Monson - Richard G. Scott -There is a marvelous work and a wonder about to come forth.  If you serve God do it with all of your might, mind and heart.  Just from those tidbits it is incredible where the Spirit can take you - a few words to set things in motion.  It was a very spiritual sacrament meeting.  The young people spoke English in the YSA class and just about everyone in the ward greeted us in English.  We then attended the Glen Innes Ward and the Waipuna Ward.  Following the ward blocks we drove back to our apartment to get a bite to eat before going to a CES broadcast in the Harbour Stake which happens to be the stake in which our apartment is located.

Elder and Sister Perron with the native Moari's at Waitangi treaty grounds.

Sister Perron in the Moari's carved meeting house at Waitangi

Moari's carved canoes

Moari's large war canoe. 
It is one of the longest canoes ever made.  It takes 86 oarsmen

Beautiful northern New Zealand green countryside!

Sister Perron with her little office assistant. 
 Her Mom was teaching an institute class and didn't have a babysitter.   Sooo...we bonded! 
 Sister Perron with her cooking class assistant, Ricky and Bob.   Ricky is a good cook! 
And I feel right at home because I'm used to my grandson, Brock being in the kitchen with me.  
 It's a tender mercy for me. Bob is a member of the church from mainland China studying
mechanical engineering. He is way smart!!!
Elder Perron at Waitangi Treaty Grounds.  At the Bay of Islands.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Week Two

Last week we spoke of the young lady from "Up North" that came up to us while we were standing on campus out in front of the Institute building.  She not only signed up for institute but signed up for the Doctrine & Covenant class we are teaching.  We can care for her even more.

Later in the week Debbie said let's take a walk through the campus and get a sandwich.  We were not very far into our walk when a young lady ran up to us and stopped us.  She jumped in front of us and looked at our name badges and said, "I thought I saw your name badges are you missionaries?"  "Yes!"  "Where is the institute building?  I was looking out the window from one of my class rooms up on the 10th floor and I happened to see the Institute building but I can't find it?"  "Well come with us and we will take you to the building and introduce you to some of the students and get you signed up for some classes."  "That would be great!"  We never did get our sandwich.

The next day we were in the area office and Debbie was sharing some of our experiences and the area director for Seminaries and Institutes said we are prohibited from having our Elders and Sisters proselyting on the University Campuses but since the church owns the institute building and it is in the middle of the campus I don't know why we couldn't do something out if front of our building there on campus because we have the right to be there.

While the director was talking I was thinking to myself, missionaries cannot be on campus proselyting so then walking around campus for us is kind of like fishing in a fish hatchery.  Yeh... get after it! 

This week Debbie started teaching a cooking class at the Institute building in Auckland.  It is an informal event held in the kitchen and lounge area for anyone who is interested.  Because there is food it seems almost everyone gravitates to the event; either to learn or watch or eat.  This week the class was on the art of making "Dutch Oven Bread."  Debbie was up late the night before the event mixing the bread dough so it could rise over night and be ready for class. There is no institute credit for this class just a way to mix with the students.

On Friday we started a "Fun, Food, and Games" event that will be held every other Friday.  There are no institute classes on Friday so it is a time for those who are around to have fun and mingle.  In preparation for the event Debbie was up late Thursday night baking 6 dozen cookies, cutting up watermelon and pineapple for the event.  We played table tennis, darts, miniature golf, visited and had some food to snack on. 

This has been a busy week for Debbie, she baked five loaves of bread, made three dozen cinnamon rolls, baked six dozen cookies cut up watermelon and pineapple.  This has been in addition to all of the other activities we normally handle.  She also sat in on a couple of institute classes during the day just to interact with the students.

We have been out to institute classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings held in the stake centers returning home about 10:15 p.m.  We are getting quite close to the students, teachers and priesthood leaders.  We were invited to be on a panel in one of the classes... It gives us a great opportunity to bear our testimony while interacting with the students.

On Sunday we attended two different wards - the 3 hour block - attending the YSA classes in each ward.  Then we attended a Regional YSA fireside where President & Sister Going - the temple president and matron - spoke.  Cid Going is probably the most famous sports star in the history of New Zealand.  The fireside was a well attended event!  After the meeting Debbie and I visited with President and Sister Going for a bit.  When I was here fifty years ago Cid Going was on a mission is Canada so I did not know him but I knew his mother and father quite well.  My interaction with the family back then was quite eventful for me.  The Going family joined the church here in New Zealand in the late 1800's. Most of the extended family lived up north in the Miramaku Valley and were active in the church.  All the people in that valley paid a full tithing.  The church - Salt Lake City - wanted to build a building up there for those faithful saints and instructed the Mission Presidency to get it built.  The members didn't want the new building, they already had a building.  Paraphrasing their sentiments, Matthew Cowley had helped them build the church which they were then attending.  It was wooden framed building that was built on property which the family had donated to the church and it was built from timber harvested from their property and which they had donated to the church.  They felt the Lord could use the money to build a building for someone else.  Simply stated that was their position.  Our position - since I was a member of the mission presidency - was quite simple, the church told us to build a new chapel for YOU faithful saints, not to just build one!  Well the faith of that family is the "faith that precedes the miracle."  What a great evening it was for me to tell President Going how much I loved and admired his parents!  They have passed on by now of course.

There were about 800 YSA attending the fireside - Debbie and I recognized about 70 % of them from being out and running so hard to get involved with the institute classes and visiting the YSA Sunday School Classes.  All their names will come to us later with the help of the Spirit and the "gift of tongues" helping us put our tongue around some of the Polynesian names.

On Sunday between the ward meetings and the YSA fireside in the evening Debbie and I went to dinner in the home of Brother and Sister Crouch.  He had served in the stake presidency of the Harbour stake for many years.  They have some YSA children - one living at home active - three others less active not living at home.  It was a great hour and a half getting insight, food and hospitality.  What great people.  She is Maori and he is Irish but was raised in New Zealand.

HOW GREAT IS THIS - In one of the wards we attended we met a member of the Stake Presidency of the Auckland New Zealand Harbour Stake who looked at our name badges, then asked, "Where are you from?"  Our reply, "Idaho."  He said, "I served with an Elder Perron from Idaho in Australia any relation?  "What part of Australia?" "Melbourne - he had red-hair!"  I said, "Yes, that is my nephew Lari Perron."  "Yes, that's him!"  The last name here is PERRETT.  His first name is President.  Back then it was Elder.  We will be in a meeting with President Perrett this Thursday night and I will find out what his first name is.  I will do all that just for you Lari!  He wanted to know where you are living, what you are doing.  I hope you can live up to all the stuff I told him because I piled it on pretty deep.  It so happens President Perrett has responsibility for the YSA in their stake so we were invited, right there on the spot - to speak at their devotional this Thursday evening.  There you go Lari, your mission is still paying dividends!

Debbie has to teach our D&C class this coming week and she has to teach a Book of Mormon class next week so she is studying right now.  The brother-in-law of our institute director was killed in an accident in Long Beach, California this past week so he and his wife - he is Samoan and she is Tongan - will be flying to the states next week; therefore Debbie and I will be running the show down here and covering for any teachers who do not show up for some reason or the other.

I gave him Greg's cell phone number there in California.  He said he might give you a call just to let you know how we are doing.  He was being kind and will probably be too involved with family to call but if he does give you a call his name is Newman Soloai - his last name is pronounced Soli - just like the Soli's who lived in the tenth ward, Deanna can help you there.  For being a Samoan his first name is unusual - Newman - his mother named him after a missionary.  He is about 57 years old and served a mission in North Dakota.  He showed up at the mission home in Salt Lake City in a "thin, white, suit" that works well in Polynesia and thought Salt Lake had to be the coldest place on earth - then they sent him to North Dakota.  He had never seen snow before!  If you look at last weeks pictures with us and all the "directors" Newman is standing on the far left in a light colored sport coat.  He is a great man, very loving and kind.

We are blessed to be able to serve a mission and love you all.  In fact we love some of you so much we turned your names into the missionary department.
Our Friday Institute group at activities day

Food, Fun, and games!  
AJ in the front in the red sleeve shirt was a companion to Elder Ryan Reay from Gooding. 
AJ has been to Gooding and rode a horse for the first time and shot a gun for the first time. 
He loved Gooding, Idaho!!!

Activity Day

Elder Perron reaping the fruit of our labors at home before going to Institute.
Debbie making chocolate chip cookies

Teaching Dutch oven bread cooking class.  It was a big hit!!!

My assistant helping me.   He loves to cook too.  He already has made bread!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Busy Week

I spent two hours last night writing about our experiences for the blog and when I was finished I hit a wrong key and it was lost.  I hit the wrong key when I sing - all the time - and nothing seems to happen.  Singing and wrong key/note is on my mind since yesterday we attended three different wards. All three hours of the block, we then attended a Regional YSA committee meeting and then finished the day off attending a CES/YSA broadcast. Lots of singing. Lots of driving.  The wards we attended were at the top end of our area and the YSA Regional Committee Meeting was in the middle of our area and the Devotional was held towards the bottom of our area.  Area does not sound so big but the Metropolitan area of Auckland - that we cover - has between 1 and 2 million people.  I have driven on the left side of the road - without incident - so much this week that I am not sure I could return home and drive on the other side of the road without incident.

We have been on the "go" this week.  In fact we have been on the go so much that we have eaten dinner at McDonalds, Subway, NZ Greatest Fish & Chips, and Pita Pit.  How disappointing to be in New Zealand and find the same "stuff" we have at home - however this habit of eating out will have to stop - Debbie ordered the fish and chips while I was busy on another matter.  It cost her $16.00 for two pieces of fish and a few french fries... she didn't buy me one because she said, "it cost too much!" - so we shared.  Prices on everything are high compared to home.  We bought a hand held hair dryer and it was $99.95 and an electric toothbrush which was $189.00, gasoline "petro" is about $8.52 a gallon.  BUT IT IS ALL WORTH IT BEING HERE!!!

This past Monday - the first day of our missionary efforts in New Zealand - was "let Bill drive day!"  We visited the area office and then onto the mission office.  We were accompanied by the missionary couple we are replacing.  Their last day!  We met more people than I can ever remember!  After visiting the offices we traveled across the bridge into the heart of downtown Auckland where the Institute of Religion Building is located.  Met the people there and spent time with some of the students.  This is a short version of our day.  We live in a nice two bedroom apartment in Takapuna which is on the "North Shore" of the greater Auckland area and our home ward is the Takapuna Ward of the Harbour Stake.  We will not be in our home ward much at all.  When we go home the members of the ward may not even know we came or left.  We attended church there last Sunday however. 

Takapuna is the home of the Pacific Area Office so we have three general authorities, a mission president, and all kinds of senior missionaries - at least 15 couples who work in the mission and area offices - who all attend the Takapuna ward.  There are many other employees who work in the Area Office but they live in the area and attend church in their own wards.  Every other Monday evening there is a "Family Home Evening" for the senior missionaries which is held in the area office and the Area Presidency attends if they are in town.  What an incredible "Family Home Evening" we had Monday evening.  I will never experience another one just like the one we enjoyed.  After it was over I told Debbie, "Record this in experience in your journal and keep in filed away in your memory."

Our Area President - Elder James J. Hamula, his wife and two of their children - twins boys who have just received their mission calls - agreed to sit as a panel and answer questions from the group about the blessings and challenges of being a general authority; including the blessings and challenges the family has experienced.  This was the most candid and honest look into the sacrifices made by these great men and in this case the family.  The blessings they have received were shared.  The family was very candid.  What a spiritual feast and time for reflection.  I have spent a lot of time around general authorities but one will seldom if ever get such a peek into the thoughts of the entire family as we did.  They all cried and they all laughed!  We truly need to pray for these men but more particularly for their families.

Tuesday we moved out of the hotel and into our apartment.  This involved putting seven suit cases and a big briefcase into a small car.  We had a taxi driver offer a helping hand.  We finally got it all in - had to slam the doors shut and Debbie had one suitcase on her lap but we only had to drive seven or eight blocks.  We then went by the grocery store to buy some supplies.  In the evening we drove to the south end of the Auckland area and attended institute classes at the Papatoetoe chapel where the Otara, Papatoetoe, and Tamaki stakes hold evening institute classes.  There were about 160 students attending - there were six courses of study offered.  Classes run from 7-9 pm and then there is a combined devotional following classes.  We arrived back home about 10:30 and in bed by 11:15.

Wednesday we went into the Institute building in downtown Auckland to meet with the Director of Institutes for more detailed orientation than we had received on our brief visit on Monday.  We found out that we were teaching an Institute class on the Doctrine & Covenants.  We had one hour to prepare.  We did great!  During orientation we found will be involved at the institute every day but we have an assignment with the YSA out in the stakes also so we will not be tied to the  institute building all day.  We will be at the Auckland institute building every day (M-F) from 2-5 pm and will be responsible for locking up the building when we leave.  We will be at the institute from 12 - 5 on Wednesday because we will be teaching a class.  We also have some desk work helping with the records.  After locking up the building Wednesday night we drove to the Rua Road chapel where we attended institute classes held by the Waterview, Henderson and Mt. Roskill stakes.  Classes were from 7- 9 pm with a devotional held after the last class.  We arrived back home about 10:45 and were in bed by about 11:30.

Thursday after spending the day in the Auckland institute building getting to personally know and interact with the students (we see some of the students we have met in the evening institute classes out in the stakes here in the building)  we drove to the Redoubt Stake center where we attended Institute classes held by the Maurewa, Papakura and Redoubt stakes.  These three stakes are actually in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission but since the institute is directed by the Auckland director of Institutes we have an assignment to work with them even though they are out of our mission boundaries.  What an incredible experience we have had these past three nights.  We have been in the classes with the students.  We have participated in their classes.  Most of the students we have met are Tongan, Samoan, Moari, some Asian and some Caucasian.  They are all so kind and loving.  They come in all shapes and sizes, are all dressed in whatever they have to wear; it does not  seem that any of this matter to them.  Many of the institute teachers are young returned missionaries - Elders and Sisters.  We attended a great Book of Mormon class... it was on the "Liahona and Faith"... we were all running around the building and the grounds getting text clues and texting the answers back to the instructors and waiting for the next clue to be texted back to the group... classes were divided into six groups... we had to depend on the cell phones devices, the directions from our teachers texted to the groups, and we had to learn patience, waiting for a response.  It was very effective and exciting to be involved with... Debbie and I were on different teams... we were both running through the halls of the building, and through the parking lot... I had to stop and apologize to a Stake President for running in the building.  His comment, "You bettered get going, the group is getting away from you."

Friday we had a spiritual experience that we have recorded in our journals.  Our assignment is to RESCUE Young Single Adults and where possible get them involved in institute.  Our challenge, we have approximately 6000 YSA, 2800 active, and 700 attending institute.  The Area Presidency wants a focus on YSA as a group and not just on institute.  Debbie and I spent most of the day at the institute building in Auckland, doing some desk work, interacting with the student who were playing table tennis, playing the piano, just hanging out and many who were studying.  About 4:40 I walk outside - let me describe the location of the institute building - the church bought the building and dedicated the institute in 1977, at the time it was seven or eight blocks from the University of Auckland.  Over the past 37 years the University has expanded and the institute sits in the middle of the University.  The University is not like a campus that you might think of because it is made up of many high rise buildings and virtually no grass or trees except at the very center of the old campus.  As such when you step out of our institute building you are actually on the campus, standing on a typical big city street, but where we are located the street has been blocked off and a courtyard like atmosphere exists. ANYWAY at about 4:40 pm I stepped out of the building to enjoy the weather for a few minutes.  I then went back in the building (3 story building) and went upstairs and said to Debbie.  Let's go outside for a few minutes.  She replied, "I am in the middle of a project, lets wait until I get this done."  I said, "That can wait, let’s go outside!  Bring the camera and we will take a picture!"  We walked outside and took a picture or two and were standing there looking at them to see if they were keepers; a young lady walked up to us and said, "Are you missionaries?" "Yes!"  "I am from 'up north' and I am a  member of the church but have been inactive for several years, my friend who came down to the university with me is also a member but is also inactive, we were talking and said we need to get back to church.  I came by the institute but I lost my nerve, I couldn't go inside.  I then saw you two standing here.  My friend and I want to come back!  We took her inside the building and gave her information, wrote down her phone number because she does not know where she will be living; they had just registered for school.  She was so happy!  She said several times, I would not have come inside the building; if you hadn't been standing there I am not sure I would have made contact with the church.  I am so glad you were standing there!"  The Spirit directed us to stop what we were doing and to go outside. If Debbie had not have come out with me we would not have been missionaries standing there.  I by myself would just have been another person  standing on the street. The prayers of some parents who live "up north" were heard by the Lord and the young girls were touched by the Spirit to return; the Lord had us standing on the campus in the right spot at the right time…a very spiritual experience.  Rescue has started.  

Saturday, this seems to be our p-day, when we find one.  We have no official P-day and all Saturdays will not work because our calendar is fast filling up with YSA activities.  Anyway this was our P-day this week.  This weekend happened to be the Annual Polynesian Cultural Event held in Auckland - it runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday - and is called PASIFIKA FESTIVAL.  This is a festive atmosphere where every Polynesian country (Tonga, Samoa, Cooks Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Tokelau, Kiribia, etc.)  has a village set up where cultural dances and music performances take place, cultural foods are for sale, and booths displaying the arts and crafts of each country are available to see and purchase.  The event is held in a park that is about 40 acres surrounding a lake.  Four senior missionary couples carpooled and went to the event.  Left at 9 am and returned about 3 pm.  A good day.  Debbie and I met many members of the church who recognized our "black name badges".  We found one of our YSA students working in one of the booths selling food. After the event we went shopping and bought a dutch oven and a mix-master. We have got to have all the equipment for "Fun and Food" if you are around the YSA.

Sunday, a very busy day... recited above somewhere.

The best part of this blog.  Today, Monday, 10th March, when we arrived at the institute the young lady we met on Friday had not been in to register so Debbie called her at the phone number she had given us.  She answered, said she was just going into a class (at the University) Debbie invited her to come over to the institute and get one of the cinnamon rolls she had baked (Debbie baked about three dozen rolls that we brought in this morning.)  The young lady said she would be over after class.  Sure enough she showed up.  She picked out a class she could attend.  Debbie then took her upstairs and introduced her to the students who were hanging out.  They all accepted her with open arms.  Sitting in the room - a regular around the institute - was one of her close cousins.  It was like a family reunion.  I went up stairs to visit with her about 45 minutes later and she had a big smile on her face, her cousin couldn't wait to tell me that she was her cousin.  A very close relative.  I turned to the young lady who approached us on the street and said, “See there, your Heavenly Father loves you.”  She is back.  When she left the building she stopped and collected a cinnamon roll that Debbie had saved for her!      

One of our YSA's working in a booth at the Pacifika cultural event

Trying some of the cultural food called "Hangi".  It's cooked in the ground  
To me it was like our foil dinners over the camp fire only this had chicken, pork,
  beef, and cabbage, taro, potatoes, and pumpkin.

Dancers representing the Cook Islands

The Senior missionaries that went to the Pacifika Cultural Event

Sister Perron using her clerical skills at the Institute office
The Institute of Religion building

The Area CES directors we met with on Friday.
The gentleman on the left of me just got called to be mission President in the Philippines. 
The one on the far left is our Institute director, Newman, that we work directly with. 
All of them are awesome awesome people!

This was Sister Perron's team from at Institute on Thursday night.
We were winners!   But then again everyone was a winner.  :-)

This is our awesome YSA at the institute on Thursday night at one of the Stake Centers. 
The one in the middle with the white shirt holding the Book of Mormon was the teacher
along with the gentleman to the right of him. They were the ones that taught the "liahona" lesson.  They were cute when we took this picture.  They said, "no hand signs"!  This is going to the USA."  And then laughing they said, " we're going to be on the Ensign!"  They are so awesome!!!!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Welcome to New Zealand

It's been quite a week!   It was really fun last week to talk to some of the grand children on google plus.  Dean was just staring at us and then said, "look mom, they have missionary badges."   That was really awesome to him.  We told him that Grandpa gets to wear his suit everyday now, and the next day he wanted to wear his suit to preschool and dance class. So for at least two days he wore his suit.   All the children were adorable!! Hopefully we can get set up to be able to talk to all the families on Google plus or skype soon!

At the MTC we discussed the privilege of wearing the black missionary badge and how it has two names on it.  Yours and Jesus Christ.  Already as we have been out and about, I see how people treat us a little more special because we are wearing the black badge.    I know that it won't always be the case, but for now it has been.  In the airport the badge brought up several conversations with people and a lot of smiles.  Members especially want to talk to you.  We met  a TSA agent working in the security screening in LA that saw our missionary badges and names, and through talking to him as we walked through we figured out he had served in the same mission as Jennifer and knew her!   Already I have gotten where I don't want to be separated from my badge, it brings with it a feeling of safety, courage, and love for everyone. It also carries with it a responsibility that you are always representing the church of Jesus Christ and you are testifying of Jesus Christ.  As we drove up to the airport in SLC, Utah to unload our luggage, there was a man standing there smoking the most awful smelling cigar.  And I was thinking, Yuk, when all of a sudden I got the strong impression, "Debbie, be loving... You are wearing my name and representing me."   My attitude immediately changed as we walked by and he was watching curiously and I smiled and said "hello". Little changes on the outside, but big changes on the inside for me. 

This week we were in a small group of about 12 couples consisting of the couples going on a CES mission or on military bases.   We had training everyday from 8 am to about 4 pm. We became really close  as a group.  The last day we were told how they go about picking where you are chosen to serve and how it really is in the Lord's hand. Some of the stories were very touching, and confirmed to Elder Perron and I that we are going where The Lord wants us to be. 
We had one dear Sister in our group that tripped in the cafeteria on the little ledge where the tile meets the carpet (we are Senior missionaries you know) and really messed up her foot.  This happened on Tuesday.  Wednesday she found out they were going to have to do surgery, so they were on their way home to have that taken care of and their mission to Scotland/ Ireland would be delayed four months.  She was heart broken!

We had quite a dilemma trying to keep all our luggage at 50 pounds when we flew to New Zealand .  We worked and worked at it.  We would take a book or a pair of socks out of one and put it in another. Weigh and re-weigh.  Finally we got them all at 50 pounds or close enough to it so we weren't charged excess baggage.  We think our luggage gained weight at the MTC like we did!
We made it safe and sound too New Zealand on Saturday (It would have been Friday in the U.S. But we lost a day on the way over at the international date line.).   The fight from SLC, Ut was a 15 hr flight with one layover in Los Angeles.   However, we left the MTC at 2:30 PM on Thursday and we did not check into our hotel room until 3:00 PM the next day in Auckland, which would have been 7:00 PM our regular time.  We had actually been up for 28 hours with just a very little sleep on the plane. We were very tired and having a bad case of jet lag!  We got to the motel about 10 AM to check in and they told us we couldn't check in until 2:00 PM.  Our CES director, Brother Neuman Soaloi,  took us to get a bite to eat, and then we toured the institute building and helped him set up a room for classes to start on Monday.  We really like him. He is a fun Samoan that has a fun sense of humor.  We then came back to the hotel about noon and had to wait in the lobby until almost three before our room was ready.  Our hotel has a really nice view.   It is absolutely beautiful. We will be in the hotel until Tuesday when the other  senior missionaries go home.   The other senior missionaries were going sailing and wanted us to come with them, but we were exhausted and couldn't get to our clothes and sailing in a suit and nice dress didn't sound very fun, so we didn't go.  I guess they had a really good time.  They had two American Cup sailing boats. A lot of ward members went and they were complaining about their arms from having to crank the sails.  It still sounded fun to me!

Today, which is Sunday for us, we started the day off with a nice walk to the beach and back.  Since church didn't start until 1:00 PM we had time for a walk, and after being so crunched up on the airplane the day before, it sure felt good to stretch our legs!   We went to church at the Takapuna Ward, which is our home ward.  It is the same ward that Vicki Worthen was in while their family lived here.  For those of you who don't know who Vicki Worthen is, she lived in our Ward in Boise.  The ward here knows who she is and of course loved her!  In fact Vicki you should know the lady you left your seasonings and other food stuff is bringing them over to me tomorrow.  She thought as a missionary I would have more need for them.   So thank you!  

We loved the ward and met so many wonderful people!  After church we had dinner with two other Senior missionary couples and our CES director and his lovely wife.  It was so fun and they are all so talented, spiritual and fun!  We also got to see our little apartment.  It actually has two bedrooms with two king size beds, two bathrooms, a little tiny office, and a little deck.  We are on the third floor and it has a beautiful view of the city! 

So tomorrow is Bill's birthday, for you in the states it will be the next day since we are a day ahead of you!   We will be meeting all the mission presidency etc tomorrow.  We are looking forward to that.
It only 9:00 PM and we are exhausted.  Our biological clocks are not on New Zealand time yet.  Normally this would be 1:00 am for us and that what it feels like.  In fact Bill is sleeping right now. :-).  

We are loving our mission!  We live The Lord, and we are thankful for this wonderful blessing of getting to serve him here on the wonderful island of New Zealand.  We love all of you.  Thank you for your love, prayers, emails and support!

Elder and Sister Perron

The view from our apartment

The view from our hotel

The Master Packer

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We're Here!

We made it safe and sound.  We are tired.  We didn't sleep too well on the plane of course.  We got to the hotel about 10 am to check in.  We couldn't check in until 2:00 pm.  Our CES director took us to get a bite to eat, and then we toured the institute building and helped him set up a room for classes to start on Monday.  We really like him. He is a fun Samoan that has a fun sense of humor.  We then came back to the hotel about noon and had to wait in the lobby until almost three before our room was ready.  The other senior missionaries were going sailing today, but we were exhausted and couldn't get to our clothes and sailing in a suit and nice dress didn't sound very fun, so we didn't go.  It's now about 3 and we just got settled and jet lag is really setting in so we're going to take a nap.  That may prove to be a big mistake, but oh well, we are really dragging!   We just wanted to let you know we made it.  Here is the view from our hotel room.  It's really a nice view and a nice hotel. We will be here until Tuesday when the other senior missionaries go home.  We saw the outside of our apartment and it is only about three blocks from the hotel.    Love you all and good night or I mean good nap!  :-)