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.


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