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!  :-).  


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