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.

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