Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What A Wonderful Mission!

What a great country New Zealand is – it is a very Christian country - we enjoy it so much.  We have just completed the four-day Easter weekend which many say is an even bigger holiday down here than Christmas.  Friday and Monday are government recognized holidays, all the stores are closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and Monday a holiday is referred to as Easter Monday, so the people enjoy a four day weekend.  Families do things together!  There are no protesters fighting to downgrade the Christian ideals of the general population.  Peace and kindness one to another is just the Kiwi way of life! 

The University is on break for a couple of weeks but we still have institute classes – however there are only one or two students in each class here on the campus – so things are slow.  Right now all institute classes are over and Sister Perron and I are the only two people in this three story building.  The institute classes out in the stakes on the weeknights are still attended as usual. 

With that being said the YSA activities were hopping.  Long weekend!   We will share with you our weekend.  

Friday during the day we went to the Auckland Museum, where exciting stories of New Zealand people, the Pacific, flora, fauna and landforms of this wonderful country are told within a memorial museum dedicated to those who have sacrificed their lives for this country.  The museum is located in the “Auckland Domain” the oldest park in the city and one of Auckland’s largest tourist attractions.  After visiting the museum we walked through the park where families were participating in games, hunting Easter-eggs and flying kites.  We then drove through Ponsonby on our way back home stopping for lunch and an ice cream cone.  A day of leisure!    

THEN THE FUN STARTED: We attended and participated in the activities of the Manakau Stake YSA Conference.  On Friday night we were at their YSA dance – keeping us young!  Saturday was a temple day and then that night there was a movie night where each ward YSA group showed the “short movie” they had written and produced.  There were seven movies.  These movies were fun and incredibly well done.  These young people are so technology savvy that the filming and use of special effects made their movies so enjoyable.   When you entered the church building at the beginning of the evening each person had a single colored ribbon –one of four colors - tied around their wrist.  After two movies the lights would come on and the crowd – according to color – went to each corner of the cultural hall and then there were competitive activities where the groups competed against each other – like, singing a song that had “the word” yelled out by the director in it.  For example “HOME” then he would point to group 1, then group 2, then group 3, then group 4, and of course the group had to sing at least a couple of the bars of their song until there was only one group left …. “home on the range” …. “love at home” …”home sweet home” …  “Miles from Our Home”  ….  “Home” … “Turning Home” … “Our Mountain Home So Dear” … “Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth”…  ah, ah, ah,   your group is out!  … “Almost Home” …. “I’ll be home for Christmas”… ah, ah, ah, your group is out!  … “Take me home country roads”… ah, ah, ah, your group is out!  WE HAVE A WINNER!  We must have had six or seven games like that spread though the evening between the movies.  Of course there was popcorn and candy at the movies. On our way home late Saturday night Debbie said, “I have never had so much fun at an activity!” 

Sunday we attended a Tongan Ward in the Harbour Stake; A Chinese Branch then a Samoan Ward in the Waterview Stake.  We didn’t understand much of what was said but the Spirit was felt in all of the meetings.  I observed  that it did not matter the language or nationality, ALL of the small babies were held and lovingly cradled by their parents, the slightly older children all cried in the same language, WAAA, WAAA, WAAA, “insisting” to be taken out of the chapel rather than having to sit on the bench and be quiet; in all cases the small children tried to “break free” and run up the isles during sacrament meeting.  Each congregation nodded approval when the speaker made a good comment.  They each nodded off when the talk droned on.  They each laughed when the speaker told a funny story.  All in all I understood more in the Tongan Ward than the others because Sister Perron and I were called on to come to the pulpit and bear our testimonies.  I understood Sister Perron’s comments!  

Back to the Manakau Stake YSA Conference; Sunday evening we attended a YSA Devotional where there were four YSA speakers, three special musical numbers mixed in, a video-montage of the events of the weekend shown; a member of the stake presidency called Sister Perron and I up to bear our testimonies and then he concluded the evening.  Refreshments were served. 

Monday was the final day of the Manakau Stake YSA Conference.  BEACH PARTY!  It was held at the Wenderholm Regional Park.  The Manakau Stake is located at the south end of Auckland and the Regional Park is at the top end of the Auckland area on the northshore – across the Auckland Harbor bridge – about 40 minutes north of Takapuna where we live.  So Sister Perron and I leisurely got ready and left home about 9:00 A.M.   The beach activities were from 8:00 A.M. – when the large chartered bus left the Manakau Stake Center and the bus left the park at 4:00 P.M. to return home.  What a beautiful park out in the countryside where there is lots of grass, trees, open spaces, and ocean.  There were organized activities on the grass areas, on the beach, unorganized activities such as Rugby, Volleyball, music and of course FOOD!  These young people are so kind to each other, respectful of their leaders and so kind to us.  Sister Perron and I left a bit early and went home to take a nap! 

About 6:30 P.M. there was a knock on our door and Elder and Sister Reynolds – a senior missionary couple living next door – said they were going out to dinner, wanted to know if we wanted to come along.  Sure!  We grabbed our “name tags” – don’t need any coats yet – and off we ran. 

Today we are at the institute building in Auckland.  No one around; Three students came in for two different classes, we have had two teachers come in, one student wanting to use the copy machine.  It was so slow Sister Perron and I walked down to Queen Street to get some lunch.  Walking back to the institute we started counting our blessings.  Our overwhelming conclusion:  “What a wonderful mission.”   
The beautiful Auckland museum


One of the many Easter festivities going on on this park

Maori exhibit inside the museum.  Their beautiful carvings and artwork

Lunch in Posenby

YSA Dance

YSA Movie Night

Elder Perron in the skit.  He's just a little bit competitive!

YSA Beach Party
 The blind preparing to feed the blind a banana.  So funny!
YSA Beach Party
Hopping Relay Race

Sister Perron helping to prepare food.


Thursday, April 17, 2014


What a blessing to have such a great companion who is so focused and dedicated to her mission.  It has been a major concern of mine that I not smother her enthusiasm and her inspiration.  I have spent many years in priesthood leadership learning to understand the order of the kingdom – priesthood and church government – I have said to her on more than one occasion – honey that will not work because;  that is a great idea but we need to modify it because;   Let me put it simply like this… in two months she understands the role of the Area Presidency, Area 70s, Coordinating Councils, Stake Presidencies, High Council, Stake Councils, Bishoprics, Elders Quorum Presidencies, Relief Society Presidencies, Ward Councils, YSA leaders, YSA advisors, YSA committees; Then complicate her understanding process when you  try to weave the Church Education System (seminaries and institute) into, under, on top of, around,  the “order of the kingdom.”   Church education is administered for the great part by church employees so in many ways the stake presidents see CES as a “dump truck” bringing a load of “stuff” to dump on them.  They believe in the “stuff” but soon the “stuff” it is lost in the pile of other “stuff.” Caring for and lifting burdens consume these brethren and “stuff” needs to wait. Our mission is to take the “stuff” and with their blessing deliver the “stuff” down line where it is the sole focus of those whose responsibility it is to implement the “stuff” as outlined in the handbook! Our mission is to help it happen over a 12 Stake area, consisting of 86 ward YSA committees and do it focusing on the ONE.  Rescue the ONE! Then another ONE!

To summarize, Debbie understands all of the bits and pieces discussed above better in six weeks than – well just let me say the Lord has revealed to her mind the “mysteries of the kingdom here on earth.”  Now when she presents an idea to me she prefaces her remarks with, “Now don’t interrupt until I have finished.”  Unbeknownst to me she got up at 3 o’clock the other morning and had worked on something for two hours and said to me when I woke up “I have this all worked out, what do you think.” It was revelation written and delivered by an “angel!” In the midst of all this Debbie still focuses on the ONE!  At a session of general conference this past weekend we arrived about 30 minutes early and there was a YSA sister that was sitting alone on a back row reading and studying her scriptures.  Debbie went over to greet her.  The young lady wanted to know if Debbie could “visit - talk with for awhile.”  “Of course I can!”  Debbie sat down beside her, and the young lady started pouring her heart out to Debbie.  Nothing confidential, just something that was on the young sister’s mind.  Courtship and Marriage!  Not the frilly stuff but heart- felt, deep feelings, and concerns   The YSA’s just love my companion!

My daughter – Tami – who puts up our blog, and who has a daughter – Cassie – serving a mission in Las Vegas, Nevada gave me some advice in her last little e-mail.  “I will tell you what we tell Cassie – work hard and be obedient!”   Good advice!  Receiving such good advice and being blessed with a great companion I must come to the conclusion – My Heavenly Father loves me!  My odds of getting “sent home” are very slight!

A quick rundown of our week:  Institute every day and every night is the same.  Teaching Institute classes remains the same.  Debbie’s cooking class is constantly growing – Hawaiian Haystacks – this week.  Friday activity “Fun–Food–Games” has increased every week!  We are happy with the progress.  This past Friday I had a very good one-on-one conversation with two different students that lasted about an hour each.  They sought out the opportunity to talk about education, making a living and families. “Fun-Food-Games” is working in many ways!    

During the week we were walking across campus on our way to get a sandwich.  A student stopped us and said, “Elder and Sister Perron, you were in our ward two weeks ago when I gave a talk in sacrament meeting.”  He remembered us because we had gone up after the meeting to visit with him and compliment him on his talk.  We were trying to build him up!  Obviously our efforts are bearing some fruit.  He stopped us and we visited for about ten minutes.  He does not attend institute here so we did not know him outside of our brief contact after the sacrament meeting.

 Several weeks ago a couple of full time missionaries came into the institute building and wanted to know if they could find a place to give a missionary lesson.   I said, “That is something I can handle.”  We shuffled some students who were studying and others who were just lounging around to clear a place so the missionaries had a quiet, private place to teach.  These elders had just found their investigator out on the street that runs past the university while street contacting and the individual showed such a keen interest the missionaries were looking for a private place to give a full 45 minute lesson.  After their lesson was over we visited with the missionaries and told them we would always find a place for them to teach a lesson if needed.

 Two days later they were back to give another lesson, afterwards we gave them the names of the non-members that we have visited with around the institute.  The next day they were back and had already called the students we had given them and had made contact with two of them that are willing to take the lessons.  The others were away, as the university is on a two week break, left them messages.  That day we sat in on a lesson with Emily, a young lady of Korean descent.  Emily has committed to baptism on April 26th and accepted an invitation to attend the “Sunday morning session” of general conference.  Since Debbie and I have the freedom to travel the whole area we agreed to meet her at conference in the stake center where she lives.  When we arrived at conference Sunday morning her friend, a member, and the missionaries were there but no Emily.  You could see the concern on their faces.  Their cell phones came out - they kept getting up and going outside until the meeting started.  After the meeting we asked them if they had made contact with Emily.  “Yes, she caught a ride with some members and they went to another building.”  That happens I guess.  At that Sunday morning session Sister Perron and I happened to sit by a family of five; Mom, Dad, three young daughters.  It turned out they were investigators.  They were really into conference, taking notes and you could see they were moved by the Spirit.  We visited with them afterwards and shared with them the blessings the gospel has brought into our lives and how it has blessed our family.  As a follow-up the elders have indicated that conference really touched this family.  While visiting with this family I noticed an elderly Moari man there in the chapel watching us so I politely waved and smiled.  I did not know him but he seemed to radiate a “familiar spirit” so to speak.  After our visit with the family concluded I went over to shake his hand – I will relate my experience with this great man later.   

 With the Sunday morning session over Sister Perron and I decided we would drive over to the Tamaki Stake center for the afternoon session.  Elder Tibbetts – Travis and Jenny’s – nephew is serving here in New Zealand and we have never met up so we figured he would have to be at the afternoon conference session in the Tamaki stake since he is the Zone Leader in the Tamaki Zone.  We drove about twenty-five miles to Tamaki stake center. 

When we got there the conference had just started so we sat towards the back.  We could see Elder Tibbetts sitting up towards the front.  He was the only “pakeha” in the building.   After the conference session was over we stood up and here came Emily running over to Debbie to give her a hug.  It turns out this is the other building that Emily had been taken to.    We pray continually that we will be guided by the Spirit to be in the right place at the right time; we have too much territory to cover to be effective without the Spirit guiding us.  Debbie asked Emily if she had enjoyed the conference sessions.  She said, “They were so spiritual!”  Obviously the April 26th baptism date is firm!  Elder Tibbetts saw us and said to those around him, “I need to get out – from the middle of the row where he was sitting – and get back there, those are my relatives.”  He came back, we hugged, visited, and laughed over some of his blog posts that I had read; then Emily took a picture of Elder & Sister Perron and Elder Tibbetts.  Then Elder Tibbetts returned the favor by taking a picture of us with Emily.  While we were all standing around visiting a priesthood leader had gone to the podium and reminded those who needed to know that there would be a Stake YSA Committee Meeting at 4:30 in the high council room.  Debbie and I looked at each other and said, “That sounds like a meeting we need to attend.”  Our visit to the Tamaki Stake for a conference session was well worth while.  

 At about 4:20 P.M. Sister Perron and I we went to the high council room and introduced ourselves outlining our missionary call.   As we all sat around waiting for everyone to arrive, I asked the member of the stake presidency who was presiding over the YSA committee meeting if he knew Elder Tibbetts?  He said: “Yes, I know Elder Tibbetts, he is a great missionary.  He serves right here in this building!  He is a very good missionary!”  “Of course he is… we are related” I commented.  On our way out of the building after the YSA committee meeting there was a man standing by the door of one of the Bishop offices, I stopped introduced myself and shook his hand.  He happened to be the bishop!  I told him we were related to Elder Tibbetts.  The Bishop commented, “Elder Tibbetts serves in our ward, he is a great missionary.”  I asked, “Did Elder Tibbetts ever tell you he is related to Bishop Stevenson, the Presiding Bishop of the church who spoke in conference this morning.”  “No, he has never said anything about that.”  “Of course he wouldn’t he is too humble, but his mother is a Stevenson.”  The bishop said, “I will ask him about that.”  Elder Tibbetts does not know it yet but I blessed his life, if the Bishop follows up Elder Tibbetts will have to get into his Family History!   

So much for Sunday; let me now go back to the Saturday sessions of conference.  Keep in mind we are a day ahead of you but our conference is a re-broadcast that takes place a week later than when you heard it.  Anyway on Saturday morning Debbie and I were awake about 4:00 A.M. and could not go back to sleep so we decide to get up and bake some bread and study.  As we were studying and talking we decided we needed to ask Heavenly Father for a few special blessings.  We decided that we needed to pray specifically for Hayden and Brock two of our grandchildren.  Now we pray for all of our grandchildren every day but we were focused on those two this day.  At about 9:00 A.M. just before leaving for conference I called Greg, our son in California – It was about 2:00 P.M. Friday afternoon for him, so I figured I could catch him at his office.  I wanted to see how everyone was doing but specifically Hayden.  Debbie then called Jade to see how Brock was doing.  With that information in hand we checked in with Father in Heaven to see if we could “cash in some of our chips” on behalf of our two grandsons.  Then we were off to conference. 

We arrived at conference, in our home stake, the Harbour stake, and sat next to our neighbor’s, Elder and Sister Reynolds who had brought a couple that he had  baptized two weeks ago. The new converts are about 55, she is a Chinese lady who grew up in mainland China and he is from New Zealand.  They were “golden contacts” and are now “golden members.”  After the morning session the six of us went to lunch.  The newly converted sister who had been very impressed with conference said:  “This church will never be compromised, they know who they are.”    They loved the afternoon session also!  Bruce, the husband went back to priesthood meeting with us.  After the priesthood meeting the young Elders asked Elder Reynolds if he would go with them to visit a contact who had just informed them that he was going to remain a Catholic.  The five of us had all gone to the priesthood session together, so Elder Reynolds informed Bruce and I that he was going to drop us off at our homes and then he was going to go to a meeting with the Elders.  He told us a little about the man they were going to see.  Bruce said, “Do you want to go with you?”  Elder Reynolds said, “That is up to the Elder’s?”  “Do you want Bruce to come along?”  Bruce spoke up, “Yeh, I will go with you.”  Bruce WANTED to go!  He WANTED to share his testimony!  I smiled to myself as I got out of the van at my apartment.  As they drove away I very quietly said: “That a boy Bruce, You go get em!”  His EXCITEMENT was uplifting to me.  Bruce is about 55 and has been rejuvenated by the SPIRIT!  

Back to the Saturday afternoon session; While we were waiting in the chapel for the afternoon session to begin – following lunch with Bruce, his wife and Elder & Sister Reynolds – one of our YSA girls came into the chapel and when she saw us she came running over and excitedly gave Debbie a big hug; Her eyes were sparkling and her smile was gigantic!.  She said, “Elder and Sister Perron, LOOK!  I got engaged last night.”  Her excitement was bubbling over!     

Now let me return to the Moari man that I visited with following the Sunday morning session of general conference.  When I went over to shake his hand and introduced myself I told him about our mission call to work with the Institute and the YSA in the 12 metropolitan Auckland stakes.  He informed me that he was the first counselor in the Auckland 1st Ward bishopric and they meet in the Scotia Place chapel at the top of Queen Street.  I informed him I had been in that chapel many, many times; told him I had served a mission here 50 years ago and that my first area as a young missionary had been in Ponsonby and that my chapel had been the building there on Scotia Place.  He then asked me, “Did you know Rangi Davies?”  I said: “Yes, I knew Rangi Davies!  I not only knew Rangi Davies, I loved and revered that dear sister.”  As I said that, tears started running down my checks!  He said, “Rangi Davies was my auntie.”

When I received my call to New Zealand 50 years ago I was quickly introduced to a talk that Matthew Cowley – a member of the Quorum of Twelve – had delivered at a BYU devotional entitled “Miracles.” Most of the talk was about the priesthood and miracles that had taken place in New Zealand when he served here as a missionary and later as a mission president.  I came to New Zealand excited to serve and expecting to see miracles because of the faith of the people.   Two weeks after I arrived I was asked to give a blessing to an elderly Polynesian sister who was lived in Ponsonby.  It was my first experience giving a priesthood blessing.  The day following giving the blessing to this sister my companion and I returned to her home the next day and she had passed away.   The brother of the Polynesian sister who had passed away – an old high priest – noticed the shock and disbelief on my face.  After awhile this brother took me aside (D&C 42: 44-48) and reviewed this scripture with me and assured me that his sister’s death had been “sweet unto her” and the blessing was answered. She was peaceful when she passed and indeed she had “hope of a glorious resurrection.”  He then sent me home with some assignments to study.  This I did diligently!

Living in Ponsonby – my area – was Rangi Davies, an 80 year old Moari sister who was a member of the church.   Sister Rangi Davies was bent over with age and health problems, walked with a shuffle.  I gave her several priesthood blessings over my two separate times of serving in Ponsonby.  She was a walking miracle and if she experienced a problem she KNEW a blessing would take care of the problem.  Her long life was a testament of that fact.  She had received many blessings from Matthew Cowley.  She had been cured from Tuberculosis and was alive despite heart problems for which she had received blessings.  Every Sunday she would shuffle up the long hill from her home to catch a bus along Ponsonby Road and then get off the bus and walk down Queen Street  to the Scotia Place Chapel.  Several times a week I would stop by Sister Davies home to make sure she was doing okay.  She had a picture of Matthew Cowley hanging in her home.  She would share stories with me about Tumaki Cowley.  Shared stories with me about her Moari people; sometimes she would shake her finger at me, and say “God will not be very happy with some of my Moari people.”  Other times she would talk loving about her people and cry as she told me of their exceeding great faith.  Rangi Davies was a balm to my soul.  She was an inspiration.  She was my connection to acquiring my faith in Jesus Christ.  She was also someone I could serve!  

When Debbie and I received our call to New Zealand, I often said, “all the people I knew when I was in New Zealand will probably be dead by now but I am going to wear myself out serving their children and grandchildren.”  As I repeated those words my heart always held a very special place for Sister Rangi Davies who had done so much for me.  She was 80 back then and was living alone.   I thought of all the people I revered and would love to do something for, but never dreamed I would have a chance to bless any of her family.  There was an empty spot recessed deep in my heart!  I knew no other member of her family.  NOT SO!  I met her nephew Sunday morning.  Tears came to my eyes as I visited with him.  Monday morning of his own volition, unannounced, Sister Davies nephew – who is about 65 years old – came by the institute building here in downtown Auckland and we visited for about two hours!    

Today we walked downtown – Queen Street – to buy a small wireless-remote speaker we can use with our I-pad.  As we were walking out of the store an employee – about a 23 year old Tongan – was standing by the front door as Security and to help direct people coming into to find what they might be looking for and to make sure no one walks out with something they haven’t paid for.  As we were leaving, noticing our “black badges” he asked, “What ward do you belong to?”  I asked him if he was a member of the church?  “No, but my brother is, he is on a mission in Australia.”  “Well why aren’t you a member of the church?”  “I still live at home with my parents and they are Methodists but my brother would ask me come to church with him and I liked it.”  I asked him if he had ever visited with any missionaries. “No!”  I told him the missionaries had several lessons about Jesus Christ and about the Church and asked him if he would like to visit with the missionaries; told him he could see firsthand what his brother is doing in Australia.  He kind of shrugged and said “Ya!”  I told him we would bring some missionaries by and introduce them and he could come up to the institute building and talk with the missionaries before or after work or on his breaks.  Perhaps his brother’s prayers are being answered because we needed a “speaker.”  Funny how someone’s weakness can bless others – you see I do not sing very well without  music letting me know where the tune is going – so we needed a speaker to amplify the hymns off the ipad…and “viola” we meet an investigator! 

 We have so much more to share.  We are busy. Until next time, Kia Ora!


Elder & Sister Perron
Richie and Stevie --- just got engaged over the weekend!


Personal study time.  I think he is receiving revelation!
Most beautiful clouds here all the time.  "Land of the long white cloud"


 At General Conference with Elder Perron, Emily, and Sister Perron

General Conference at the Tamaki Stake.  Here we met Elder Tibbets finally!!!

Elder Perron's awesome companion!  :-).  Baking cookies at the Institute

Friday activity....notice the diversity we have. 
A pakeha, a Polynesian, and an Irish man.  
Suit,  casual and bare foot.  We Love them all!

Friday Activity

This YSA is always playing the piano. 
He is so good.  He plays by ear. 
His favorite song right now is the theme song from the movie Frozen, "Let it Go". 
He plays and the girls sing!

He knows how to pick up a crowd!  :-).  


Monday, April 7, 2014

Kayaking, Ice Cream and Temple Trips

By the time you read this you will have enjoyed General Conference.  It’s funny, we are a day ahead of you but we will listen to General Conference a week after you.  The custom here is to have the following Saturday and Sunday (April 12th -13th) as the conference weekend.  In so doing life goes on as normal down here – the rebroadcast is held in the chapels on this coming Saturday and Sunday.  There was an e-mail sent out by some over anxious senior missionaries stating that if you desire you can come to the area office building and watch conference live.  I could have watched the Sunday sessions broadcast live by being in the area office today – Monday – at 4:00 A.M. through 10:00 A.M.   After having a rather busy Sunday and Debbie going to the Women’s broadcast last night – a week after the live broadcast but on time for the way things are here – it seemed sensible to me to say “when in New Zealand do as the New Zealanders do!”

Last night while Debbie was at the broadcast I listened to President Monson’s opening remarks  delivered at the opening of the conference and I listened to the Conference business where I had a chance to sustain Elder Blake Alder a week before anyone down here will know.  Actually we had a heads up, our kids texted a message Saturday morning immediately after it was announced so we got the message Sunday morning.  Just so happened we were visiting a ward where Elder and Sister Alder’s niece – Sister Smith – is serving.  First time we had met since arriving in New Zealand 

Debbie and I fasted this past Sunday – seeking for confirmation –“are we going about this mission in the right way?”  We have that question constantly on our minds; always looking to see if we can do it more effectively.  

The best way to let you share what we are doing is to walk you through our week and let you see how things multiply and grow.  Last Monday we were at the institute building in Auckland with the students during the day.  Monday evening we drove to a home in the Redoubt Stake – at the south end of the Auckland Metropolitan area – where we attended a ward YSA Family Home Evening.  Elder Perron learned of this FHE group during an Institute class last week.  After the institute class Elder Perron approached the student who had mentioned that they were holding a FHE.  He asked if they would mind if we attended.  They were excited giving us the time and address.  Next day Debbie called the YSA adult advisors where the FHE was going to be held to make sure everything was okay.  They were excited!  When we arrived there were three YSA and the ward advisors.  One of the YSA was a recent convert having joined the church eight weeks ago.  We had dinner – pot luck – then a lesson, another YSA came late, we played a game that Debbie had been given the responsibility to organize. During the evening we shared the purpose of our mission.  The young man who was at the FHE said that if we wanted to be with some YSA that his “Preach My Gospel” class which is a stake sponsored mission prep class – all YSA members – were going to the beach on Saturday to do some kayaking.  He invited us to come along. We said,”We would love to go!” He then asked,, “Do you want to do some kayaking.”  “No we will just hang out and eat the cookies.”  He said, “if you want to come along we are going to meet in the parking lot of the Stake Center at 9:00 A.M.”  “We will be there.”  We then drove home from FHE getting home about 10:30 pm. 

Tuesday we were at the Auckland Institute during the day interacting with the students.  Tuesday evening we decide we would forego our institute classes which we had attended for the past four weeks – Otara, Papatoetoe, and Tamaki stakes combined institute – and go to a YSA Stake Committee Meeting in the Harbour Stake.  During the YSA Committee Meeting we learned that the YSA in the Stake were going to go to the Temple in Hamilton to do baptisms for the dead this coming Saturday afternoon.  Instructions were to be at the Temple at 3:30 so they would be ready for their 4:00 appointment.  We invited ourselves along. “Of course, you are always welcome!” 

Wednesday we were at the Auckland Institute, taught our classes, sat in on or visited other classes just to be with the students.  Taking time here or there to testify and share a life changing experience.  About 5’oclock we locked up the institute building, walked down to Queen Street where we got something to eat and then we drove out to the Manukau Stake Institute.  Generally – but not always – Debbie and I go into different classes so we can spread our influence around.  On this particular night I went to the “Mission Preparation Class” and Debbie went to “The Book of Mormon” class.  We had been in this Stake the previous Sunday where we attended 3 YSA Sunday School Classes and the Stake YSA Committee Meeting.  When Debbie came out of her class she said she learned that one of the wards we had attended was having rescue visits this coming Sunday at 10:30 A.M. (three hours before their block of meetings.)  Debbie asked if we could come along.  They were excited!  We put it on our calendar. 

Thursday we were at the Auckland Institute during the day.  Debbie’s cooking class is growing in numbers.  She cooked chili and cornbread.  I walked up stairs about an hour into the process and found about fifteen students sitting around on the floor eating chili and cornbread visiting and having a good time.  They loved it!  The honey-butter was the best part.  A stake Supervisor of Institute in the Harbour Stake asked Debbie about her cooking class.  She said she had heard so many good things about it from the students that she would like to start one.   That evening we went to the Manurewa, Papakura, and Redoubt Stakes combined institute.  We had a warm welcome from all since we had been there about four times.  There was an especially a warm welcome from the three YSA students where we had attended the FHE on Monday. 

Friday was a day where Debbie visited with the Relief Society President (who has responsibility for the YSA sisters in her ward and has a YSA son and daughter living at home) from the Hibiscus Ward of the Harbour Stake.  The president is Debbie’s new hair dresser.  The first hair-do in New Zealand!  Debbie is so dedicated that even her “get her hair done time” is productive.  They had quite a good visit about the YSA.  Debbie’s hair looked great!  A great color job and a great cut!  Her hair is ABSOLUTE proof the Lord blesses her for doing missionary work in every aspect of her day! Hahaha.  During the day we held a planning meeting with the chair-persons (Bob and Emma) of the activity committee of the Auckland Institute to review and plan our future activities. 

Saturday – We got up early, readied ourselves for a day of diverse YSA activities.  We were at the Redoubt Stake Center parking lot at 9:00 A.M. where we were greeted by about 20 YSA who said, “Elder and Sister Perron are you really going kayaking.”  “Absolutely!”  Our Family Home Evening on Monday night had turned into a group of twenty.  We found we knew some of the kids from our prior stake institute visits. In the parking lot with them was an “older” Polynesian man.  He is the high council advisor to the Preach My Gospel group – these young YSA members.  We visited for about 30 minutes waiting for the kids to get everyone and everything ready.  The high council man was here in 1963-65.  Had grown up “up-north” and knew President Barnes (My mission President in 1965) quite well.  His comment to me, “back then these people were a simple people of faith, there were many miracles back then.”  Soon we were off for the beach!   We drove about thirty miles from the stake center out through the countryside before popping over the hill and finding before us a glorious view of the Pacific ocean.  We drove down to the beach and the fun started.  One of the young ladies of the group – who has been a member of the church for two years, and who is leaving on a mission next week for Japan – has grown up at this beach.  Her family owns a ranch and part of the ranch borders the ocean.  She pulled about 10 Kayaks, life jackets, and all the necessary equipment from the storage-building behind the house.  We left the beach party about 1:30 P.M. and headed south towards Hamilton. We were hurrying to get to the Temple Baptism Excursion with the Harbour Stake – had to be at the temple by 3:30 in time to get ready for the baptismal appointment. 

We pulled into the Temple Visitor Center parking lot and went into the outdoor restrooms to change our clothes.  We entered the Temple and were greeted by the YSA and leaders.  “You came all the way down here, we are impressed.”  Debbie was needed; she went off to help the girls.  I stayed with the group until the baptisms started and then I left to do initiatory work.  There were about twenty YSA in attendance!  Our attendance at the Tuesday night YSA Stake Council Meeting had clued us into another opportunity to be with and serve the YSA. 

On the way home – about halfway between Hamilton and Auckland – we pulled off the Motorway into the small village of Pukenoe to get some ice cream.  There we ran into two more of our YSA sisters returning from the temple.  Ice cream cones sounded good to them also.  Debbie and I got double-decker ice-cream cones.  The best deal in New Zealand.  It cost us a total of $4.00 – BIG SCOOPS!!  Pulling back onto the Motorway – with ice cream all over our faces – we looked at each other and smiled.  Debbie said, “Is this really a mission.”  I said, “I am sure it is!”  

Sunday we were off to visit some YSA Sunday School classes.  We try to find some place in one of the Stakes that we haven’t been for awhile.  We will be forever getting to all the wards even at three a day, however if we choose the wards wisely in conjunction with the Institutes we attend we can keep our presence and influence felt.  We stopped by the Ward that Debbie had learned on Thursday night that they were going to do Rescue visits.  The YSA and the Bishop was surprised and excited to see us.  They had already mapped out their visits so we all agreed that they would plan on us next month and would have a lot of youth out because we would be there.   One of the wards we visited Sunday was the Manurewa 2nd Ward – a Samoan Ward.  The music was great BUT all of the meetings – including the YSA Sunday School class – were all in Samoan.  I kept a smile on my face and stayed awake for the entire time.  The high priest group was quite animated and had a lively discussion – wished I could have known what it was all about.  A Samoan brother – who appeared to be in his 80s – didn’t say anything during the meeting and at times kind of rolled his eyes leaned over to me and said they are discussing all the changes that have taken place in the church over the years. 

After returning home, we had dinner and then Debbie went off to the Women’s Broadcast with a few of the Senior Missionary sisters who live in our apartment complex.  As they walked into the stake center a couple of YSA came running over to Sister Perron and said, “Sister Perron, will you take a picture of my sister and me.”  “Of course I will!”  The other senior missionary sisters asked, “How do you know them?”  “Oh, they are some of our YSA!”  Then a senior missionary commented to Debbie, “I bet you guys are really loving your mission.”    


Kia Ora – until next week!

Elder and Sister Perron
Elder Perron visiting with the kayakers.

Ready, Set, Go

Elder Perron and a YSA

Elder Perron at Orewa Beach.  Beautiful spot!  

Getting safety instructions

What is a beach party without music?

A quick change and we are off to the temple
Left the beach and drove two hours to the temple.  
Look how pretty the area is around the temple!

Elder and Sister Alder's niece, Sister Smith.   
She is serving in one of the ward's we visited on Sunday. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Work Moves Forward

If I was transcribing this blog entry on metal plates – where every word had to count – then our experiences this week would confirm these words of the Lord and would say; “My Spirit shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”                                                

Our desire and intent is to serve a “Mighty Mission” but the Lords has stated “things needs be done in mine own way.”  There is no “new program,” there is no mighty-works “outside the boundaries of the handbooks” yet the Lord is hastening his work.  Our mission call has focus – YSA and Institute – where we must perform a mighty work.  

Our week has been very busy in “doing good work” as has every week.  As we love and gain the love of the young people we are obtaining the “one on one” opportunities and have witnessed “where two or three” of us “are gathered in my name there will I be in the midst of them.” 

Debbie’s cooking class is getting bigger every week – this isn’t an institute class, it is a class held in the institute building where food is served, and friendships are made and confidences are gained.  This week the class learned how to cook a beef teriyaki stir fry.  Debbie sits in on other institute classes just to be with the students and hear their comments and discern their needs.  We have had some students ask us to sit in on their “Celestial Marriage” class.  Our tender expression of love and kindness to each other is perhaps a case of where “seeing a sermon is better than hearing one.”   

The “Fun, Food, and Games” on every other Friday at the Auckland institute is improving.  This past Friday Debbie had games where everyone got to know each other; they divided into two groups and had silly competitions where everyone was laughing and enjoying each other.  One game was simple… you had a plate full of tic-tacs and a set of chop-sticks and in a one minute of time whatever team transferred the most tic-tacs to the empty bowl using the chop-sticks was the winner.  Each team chose one person to represent them, the remaining team members cheered on their leader.  Well, Bob – the YSA, mechanical engineering student, from CHINA – was his team selection to wield the chop-sticks.   What a blast!  Bob being competitive – national pride on the line – started transferring tic-tacs with simple ease and rapidity; before long he realized he was far ahead so he started taking tic-tacs from his competitor’s plate and putting them in her  bowl – helping her out.  Then he started taking a “tic-tac” out of his bowl and holding it up to feed one to his team members, one after another.  Then he would get back to business assuring his team the honor and bragging right that come with winning.  Fun and laughter!  

Later that evening a student posted on the Institute Facebook Page: “Our appreciation to Elder & Sister Perron who brought us so much fun!”   I write this only as an indication that through simple things the Lord is helping us gain the trust and confidence that set up the opportunity for us to teach and testify one on one.  Save the one and rescue their friends. 

We teach our usual institute classes; occasionally substituting where a teacher has to be gone for one reason or another.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings we are out at the evening institute classes where we are blessed spiritually.  Three weeks ago we met a young lady who is in her late twenties; she had been baptized just two months prior to our meeting her.   She was on a spiritual high from her baptism and now she was doubly excited because she had just introduced the gospel to an acquaintance she had just met, and the missionaries were teaching the family.  This young lady was so happy, she had a smile from ear to ear and she just needed to talk – share her spiritual rapture – so we listened for quite some time.   We have seen her each of the past three weeks but this week the smile that went from ear to ear was bigger!  The family of five she had introduced to the gospel had just been baptized. 

We have only been here a month but we are seeing some of our YSA for the last time.  Good news, they are leaving on missions but we will be gone before they return home. Tavo and Celeste (pictured below with Elder Perron) both left for the MTC this week.  Tavo is going the New Zealand Wellington Mission.  He has been working as a security guard for the University of Auckland so we would see him most every day in the institute building where he came during his breaks and then we would see him each Tuesday evening at institute in one of the stake buildings.  Celeste we would see each week at institute in her stake center.  Her call is to the Tahiti Papeete Mission.  Of course she knows about Debbie’s great, great grandfather.    

The good news we are laying a foundation for good works.  However there is a lot of work to do; we have YSA who are unwed mothers; there are a number of YSA that are not with us more than what we have with us. What can we do to make a difference?  This question is constantly on our mind and in our heart.  We have “studied out” our challenge and opportunity.   We have been into every institute in the twelve stakes – most multiple times – and we have visited three ward YSA Sunday-school classes every Sunday; attended YSA devotionals; talked to quite a few parents of active and less-active YSA; been to Regional and Stake YSA Committee meetings; have established a relationship with most of the stake presidencies.  We have “studied it out in our mind.” 

This week we individually have read the General Handbook as it relates to the YSA, we have studied the Area Presidencies goals as it relates to the YSA.  We have pondered for many hours.  We have fasted and prayed and we attended the temple on Saturday.  Together we have discussed our ideas and recommendations.   We have taken our ideas to the Lord – our experiences all summed up are this:
“My Spirit shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” 

Thursday night I lay in bed, Debbie was asleep, and my mind was going so fast that I had to get up and write things down.   It was 2:30 A.M. before I went back to bed.  Late for a missionary!  Unbeknownst to me Debbie got up late Saturday night (wee hours Sunday morning) with a similar experience – problem was we attended three separate ward blocks on Sunday and I noticed that she was still receiving revelation during sacrament meeting – at least I noticed her eyes were closed on several occasions.   

The three wards we attended on Sunday were all Polynesian Wards.  Two of them spoke English and one spoke Niuean.  Niuean is the fourth largest ethnic population in New Zealand  1-Samoan, 2-Moari, 3-Tongan, 4-Niuean). 

All three sacrament meetings were so very spiritual.  These people are all love and faith.  One Sister told of going to work in a new job and after about six months a co-worker said to her “I do not like Mormons but I like you.”  The sister said this made her mad and she wanted to “really preach” to the her co-worker but she didn’t say anything and let it go for three days (“Be Still..”) and then when she came into work three days later she said to her co-worker, “the reason you like me is because I am a Mormon.”  Her friend is now taking the missionary lessons.  In another ward – the third and final speaker – was a Samoan brother.  He said when he was growing up in Samoa he wanted to be a boxer.  He liked Muhammad Ali.  He said he liked how Ali was such a dancer, and was quick with his hands.  He told his mother, “Mama, I am going to be a world champ!”  He said his mother would always say, “Son, you are too little – Ali is a big, tall man!” “No mama, I am going to be a world champ!”  He said I went to the beach and filled a big bag with sand and brought up to the house and tied it up in a tree and I would punch it and dance around it.”  I did that day after day!”  Now this sacrament meeting is like my boxing, the first speaker spoke on Family Home Evening – that is the left hook.  The second speaker spoke on covenants – that is the right hook.  And I am the ‘knock-out’ punch – I am going to talk on the atonement.” And he did!  You can’t help but love these people.  They all want to shake your hand!  We arrived at the Niuean meeting just a few minutes late and they were singing – the only seats left were up on the second row.  A sweet sister got up from about half way back and brought us her song book to use and showed us where we were singing at that moment.  How moving!  They do not have hymn books in the chapels here for most of the Polynesian wards – the saints take them home and they never seem to come back.  Everyone has their own hymn book that they bring to church or they use their technology – phones, ipads, and such.  In the Niuean ward the Stake Presidency was there because they were reorganizing the bishopric.  At the end of the meeting the stake president bore his testimony - He is a tall, handsome, Samoan man.  His testimony was so powerful.  Debbie said to me when it was over, “I will never forget his testimony, it was so powerful.”   

After attending a Stake YSA Committee meeting in the Manakau Stake Sunday evening we commented how our “souls were filled with joy.”

Now I will share with you something that was very moving to me this week.  On Tuesday while we were at the Auckland Institute building, I was reading the General Handbook of Instructions and Debbie was going through some old files looking to see if there were any gems “hidden away” that might help us in our work.  She found a one page history of our Institute building in Auckland and attached to it was notes on the talk that Elder David B. Haight gave when he dedicated the building in 1976.  The following is special witness to me of the Lords hand in the latter-day work. 


Auckland Institute Building

By: Rex Kennerley

In 1975 Brother Frank Hirschi of the Seminary and Institute programme came to NZ from Head Office in Salt Lake City to review the seminary and institute programme and in particular the needs of the institute programme. 

After traveling around NZ with Brother Hirchi, Brother Rex Kennerley the Division Coordinator for Seminaries and Institute in NZ explained to him the number of NZ’s who were now attending Tertiary education.  At the end of his visit he said he was going to recommend that we have Institute buildings here in NZ to cater for those students and other YSA. 

I was with great joy we were informed shortly after his arrival back in SLC that we had approval to look for a building in Auckland and Wellington.  We started looking in Auckland around the University thinking it would be easy to find a building that would meet our needs.  After spending weeks looking and getting a little concerned I felt we were doing it wrong.  A lot of fasting and then prayer was then put into the search.  Shortly after, President Garlick a Stake President in South Auckland called me and said he heard we were looking for an institute building and suggested that I go and look at a certain address in Lorne St. right opposite the Technical institute there.  I rushed to look at it and found a shell of a brand new building that the builders had completed and were waiting for an owner to decide the layout of the interior.  On looking at the building I was immediately impressed that here was what we had been looking for.  If I were going to build a one this is exactly how we would have built it with offices downstairs and a separate entrance for students to go upstairs.  It was a three story building.  The second floor would be classrooms and the top floor classrooms and a social area with kitchen facilities etc. 

I quickly phone Elder Roberts who was the church real estate rep in NZ and explained what I had found.  He immediately came over and looked at it and agreed with me that this was perfect.  Within a short time we had an option on the building while resource consents were looked at.  We received the go-ahead from the City Council and the sale then went through.  What a blessing it was.  The interior was completed and Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve came down to dedicate the building on 26 Feb 1977. 

Since that date the entire area surrounding the Institute building has been purchased by the Auckland University and the Institute building is right in the middle of the campus.  The only building the university has not been able to purchase despite many attempts.  The Lord knew exactly where he wanted the Institute building and prepared everything for it.


Elder David B. Haight

 Speaking of finding the institute building as referenced above, Elder David B. Haight said in his address at the dedication: “I know that things like this do not come about accidentally.  I know that it doesn’t, anymore than any of the other miraculous things that we see taking place in the world.”


Elder Perron’s Observation

 This institute building was purchased ten years after I left New Zealand and I knew Elder Roberts  - referenced in the history of how the building was acquired.  He was the Stake President in Auckland and President Garlic (also referenced) was one of his counselors – knowing and working with those brethren while I was in the mission presidency personalized the history of how this building was found.  Fifty years ago when I was here Auckland was a big “town” but today it is a big “modern city.”  Now 40 years after the purchase of the institute building one only needs look at where our institute building is located to see the hand of the Lord.  On the map below you will see a red mark indicating the location of our Institute building.  The buildings shown in black are University Buildings and they are all new and are high-rise buildings that are from seven to twenty stories high.  None of this was here forty years ago.  The Institute of technology was a small school.  Everything has been torn down and replaced.  As stated in the article, the University would love to have our three story building so they could tear it down and build another high-rise.  As the map indicates the University has already expanded into new sections across Mayoral Drive with three new high-rise towers.  From the institute building I need only walk a block-and-a-half and I am on Queen Street right downtown Auckland and only about four blocks from the sky tower –(space needle) attraction.

Until next week....we love you, we think of you often and you are in our prayers.
Elder and Sister Perron
YSA Friday activity pizza party

"A minute to win it" tic tac toe challenge

Throwing kleenexes for a basket challenge
Tafi, office administrator, teaching us how to play the guitar.
Celeste and Tavo, the YSA members that left this week for their missions

Sunday suits

Hamilton Temple Visitor Center

Hamilton New Zealand Temple

Young single adult, Brandon, from Florida.  He is here on a study program