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. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you won't be needing your "skinny" suits anytime soon...:) Denis