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