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

1 comment:

  1. I Loved reading your blog entry today. It makes me happy to see all the wonderful people you are meeting and helping. Thanks for posting!! Love, Beverly