Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Missionary Service: A Passport to Excitement and Blessings

When we left home – Boise – to serve our mission in New Zealand I would say, “virtually all the people I taught in New Zealand fifty years ago will be gone but we” – Sister Perron and I – “are going to serve a mighty mission seeking to bless the lives of the children and grandchildren of the people who blessed my life so abundantly those many years ago.”  Of course that was figuratively speaking indicating so many, many of these great people blessed my life that we were going to do everything we could to bless their families, not even knowing who or where they might be.  This past weekend we came to find out that my figurative statement is literally being fulfilled. 

This past weekend Sister Perron and I went to a Young Single Adult dance in the Henderson Stake.  There we met a Brother and Sister Pilling.  Brother Pilling is the high council advisor in the Henderson Stake over YSA.   Brother Pilling grew up in Calgary, Canada.  Sister Pilling grew up in New Zealand.  Her maiden name was Palmer.  She went to Calgary from New Zealand to work as a nanny.  While there the two met and were married.  Brother Pilling and his new wife then moved to New Zealand where they have raised their family.  Sister (Palmer) Pilling was born in 1965 the year I left New Zealand to return home.  Her father was President Palmer, a member of the stake presidency here, who I worked closely with when I was in the mission presidency.  Obviously I never knew this daughter because as stated she was born the year I left New Zealand.  We again visited with Brother Pilling following the Sunday evening YSA devotional in the Henderson Stake where we spoke.  On our drive home following the devotional lights started coming on in Sister Perron’s head.  We had a Bryton and Britney Pilling who attended institute classes at the Auckland Institute last semester.   Sister Perron sent a text to Brother Pilling wanting to know if Bryton and Britney were their children.  His response, “Yes, Bryton and Britney are our two oldest children, they are great kids.”  The rest of the story; Elder Perron had Britney in his Doctrine and Covenants class last semester at the City Institute.  Bryton and his fiancĂ© were in the institute every day, he was graduating from University – which he has now done – and they were planning a wedding – and are now married – but we visited with them literally every day.  We were literally having an influence on the grandchildren of one who blessed my life.  “Where ere thou art act well thy part!”  You never know. 

Last week we met a Brother and Sister Roberts who are the Ward YSA advisors in the Lincoln Ward of the Henderson Stake.  We attended the YSA Sunday School class in that ward and they were teaching the class.  We had a short but delightful visit. They are preparing to put in their mission papers. They are down-sizing, selling their home and moving into a smaller one.  We could relate.  On our way home lights started coming on in my head.  When I was here in New Zealand President Roberts was the Stake President and President Palmer mentioned above was his counselor.  At the YSA devotional in the Henderson stake referenced above I again ran into Brother and Sister Roberts.  I asked my question.  Yes, he is the son of President Roberts of fifty years ago who I admired and revered.   

The Universities have been on break for the past six weeks so our lives have been a little different.  We have attended  the stake institutes on week nights as usual; visited the Ward blocks on Sunday as usual; attended some stake YSA activities on the weekends but we did not have to be into the Auckland city institute building on any set schedule because there have been no institute classes.  We went into the institute every day but that was when we wanted to go.  That was good and bad.  On days when we got into cleaning we were there all day and late at night.  Other days we would go in around 11 o’clock – even noon on some days. 

Not realizing our schedule had more flexibility, but wanting to know if we could be of assistance, the Publishing Services Department of the Pacific Area Office contacted us.  Brother Hatu Tiakia,  the director of the LDS Area Publishing Services Department  (who we met  following a sacrament meeting several weeks back) , wanted us to come into the Area office to talk about Young Single Adults.  Bottom line the Area Presidency wants to get social media as a tool for sharing the gospel firmly established in the Pacific Area.  People will be coming from Salt Lake City and will be holding an LDS Share Expo in Auckland in September.  They want to have a crew of YSA who are tech-savvy and social-media savvy trained and ready to help the members who come to the expos.  There will be expos here in New Zealand and then in Australia.  The first expo will be held here in Auckland for the 12 metropolitan stakes and they have a pretty short fuse when it comes to getting everything ready.  They wanted to know if we could help them find about 40 YSA adults who could be trainers for the masses.  We said that will be easy, we are with them every day in all 12 stakes.  They indicated that a letter had just been sent out to the Area Seventies in the Pacific Area asking them to get geared up and ready.  I said. “Send me a copy of the letter sent to the Area Seventies and we can make this happen, however I will not get out in front of   the priesthood leaders so send me the letter and we will go into action.”  

When we got back to the city institute building we already had an e-mail copy of the letter.  I contacted our Area Seventy.  Told him we had been invited to the area office – not by anyone in authority – but they had asked us to help get YSA trainers from each stake.  He said, “You guys are awesome!   You have my blessings and I will notify the Stake President of what you are doing.”  We went to work on it and by the end of the week we had 50 YSA contacted and signed up representing all of the stakes.   The YSA love Sister Perron and I take good notes.  We have spent another week – several meetings – and things are ready from our end!  We will be in a meeting where they will train the trainers this Saturday.  Our work is bearing some fruit.  Time and time again we see that when we are prepared the Lord opens a door and in every case we have been ready to walk through.  We pray that with hard work and preparation that will be the story line of our mission. 

During the university break we also got a student council organized and functioning.  We met with the male and female reps twice and organized a week- long series of welcome back events including an open house at the newly renovated city institute.  Students were encouraged to invite friends.  

Monday, we cooked pancakes all day, some consider pancakes and syrup the way to eat pancakes but to many of the people pancakes are a desert so we went through a lot of ice cream and chocolate topping as well – quite good!  Tuesday we served fresh fruit and Panipopo buns – Poni is bread and Popo  is coconut – so Sister Perron baked several dozen coconut buns  (dinner rolls) but they were soaked and baked in a coconut milk sauce.  Wednesday was the final of the Annual Auckland Institute Table Tennis Tournament – Bob, like in China Bob, was the winner.  Made me feel better since he took me out in the first round so no one knows how good I really am – except Bob – and he swore he would not tell.  During and after the tournament final we served Pizza and soda.  Thursday was Sister Perron’s cooking class so she prepared Sloppy-Joes and prepared enough to serve them all afternoon with chips.  Friday was cookies and ice-cream, Sister Perron baked 9 dozen cookies throughout the day!  

If Sister Perron is not teaching institute, speaking at YSA devotionals, personally visiting with YSA, cooking and baking, she is shopping for food-stuff getting ready for the next day.  We usually are shopping at about 10:00 P.M.  They even gave us a church credit card.  Said it was easier than approving all the receipts and cutting her checks.  We do have a budget however? 

Friday night after institute we drove down to Papatoetoe where we met Cory Christiansen, the son of our good friends Scott and Caryl Christiansen back in Boise.  Cory works at BYU-Idaho and lives in Rexburg, Idaho; he has just been appointed supervisor of the BYU-Idaho Pathways program in the Pacific Area and is in New Zealand for some meetings.  Pathways is the program where you can take BYU-Idaho college courses on-line.  It was great to meet and see Cory.  

After the meeting where we met Cory, we then headed off to the Mt. Roskill Stake for a YSA dance.   When we arrived at the building the dance was going on; as we walked into the building we were greeted by a bishop and he ushered us right to the food which was set up in the room next to the kitchen, told us to fill up our plates; he then ushered us into another room where some adults were eating.   We were greeted as always, made to feel right at home, while we were eating and visiting we found out we were at a combined three-ward youth dance, they told us the YSA dance was at another building.  They wanted us to stay and eat and watch the cultural floor show the youth had prepared.  We did and then we were off to the YSA dance.  We got home about mid-night.   

Saturday we met in the area office for two hours where the three YSA “key leaders” were trained for the LDS Share Expo mentioned above.  (Picture included below.)  These three YSA leaders will now train the other 40 YSA trainers who will man the social-media booths at the Expo.  When the members come thru the Expo, these YSA / tech-savvy /social-media-savvy leaders will train the masses how to get on the various platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Websites, etc.) and then post on them. 

Sunday we visited three wards – Mt. Roskill 1st (Samoan); Mt. Roskill 4th (Tongan); Epsom (English) – and during the Epsom ward sacrament meeting a young man – about 30 years old – spoke and mentioned that he had grown up in Cambridge, a town I served in 50 years ago.  After the meeting I visited with him.  His name is Ezra Nordstom.   I mentioned that 50 years ago there were only about 17 active members in the ward and most of them were the Tipene family.  He said, oh yes, that would have been my grandparents.  My mother was a Tipene.  As we talked it became apparent that his mother, Raewyn, was one of the children - an 8 year old daughter – at the time I was there.  He said his grandfather passed away in 1975 of cancer and that he had never met his grandfather.  I shared with him how kind his grandparents were to us.  I told him what a great man his grandfather was.  Yet another experience of Sister Perron and I literally teaching and loving the children and grandchildren of the people that blessed my life.  This mission is one great experience.  Too bad we have to take time to sleep. 

Sunday evening Sister Perron and I spoke at a YSA devotional in the Mt. Roskill stake.  Sister Perron has become a veteran – a very good speaker – and is instantly prepared no matter the gospel topic. 

We must share an experience we had when we visited a ward party in the Papatoetoe 1st ward.  It was a family history night and the ward had three rooms set up where ward members rotated through.  In one of the rooms they had a bank of computers set up for the members to log in and set up their own family history account and get started.  The response was so overwhelming Sister Perron spent most of the evening helping people log on and set up accounts.  The ward clerk’s wife who was in charge of that portion of the event was so thankful for Sister Perron.  During the event Sister Perron met her first Maori with a full-face tattoo.  Even fifty years ago I did not see a Maori with a full-face tattoo.  Tom has been a member of the church all his life, in fact Tom brought a non-member friend that has been taking the lessons to the event, and that friend got baptized the following week.  (Picture is included.)  

As you will notice from our pictures we have been able to stop off and visit a few sites around Auckland.  We did not have to rush from place to place during the days the universities were on break so we would take a leisurely lunch (Davenport) or drive to the top of a look-out (One Tree Hill) or visit a local park for a walk.   

Well my advice is to turn in your paper and get one of these “black badges” it is a passport to a world of excitement and blessings.
Aroha Nui, 

Elder & Sister Perron     
Elder and Sister Perron meeting with the 3 keyYSA leaders and
Area Leaders for the LDS Share media Expo

Look who we met!   Cory who is Scott and Caryl C.'s son all the way from Idaho!

The first wave of the cooking class.  There was about 30 students this day.

Cooking class of sloppy joes.  Most of the students had never heard of them or tried them.
They thought they sounded really wierd, but were willing to try them.   
I did the recipe x 6.  Every drop was ate! 
The picture is of one batch of the recipe that we made during class.
There was a big pan of mix still on the stove.

Tuesday of Orientation Week and Open House. 
Fruit, panipopo rolls, and cornbread with honey butter. 
The rolls and cornbread disappeared fast! 
Luckily I held two pans back to make it last longer. 

Elder Perron cooking heaps of pancakes!

The cute, cute Institute students!

The lounge busy with students starting school for a new semester

Sheep dotting the hill at "One Tree Hill"

 The huge monument on top of "One Tree Hill".
The Maouri Chief is about 10- 15 feet high to give you an idea of how big this monument is.

The "dashing" Elder Perron at top of  "One Tree Hill" overlook.  Beautiful view!!

A day at the park and Elder Perron is trying out the zip line
King of the Hill

Crocodile Dundee!  We are all safe now!   :-)

I have to admit.....this was fun!   :-)

The Ward party where we met Tom.  I asked Tom if Sister Perron could have a picture with him.  Tom was very comfortable with the picture he has lived with his tattoo for years.

Ward party Friday prior to their conference where their YSA are doing Maori cultural songs and dances. Here they are dancing with the poipoi balls.  I love love love this!  I can't get enough of it! 

Ward party prior to Ward Conference. Here is the family History workshop.
Elder Perron helping Tom and Tom's wife.

Cold windy days bring out the kite surfers! 
We sat in our car and ate fish and chips while we watched them. So fun! 

Sister Perron relaxing at home preparing an Institute lesson


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

Consider this promise given by the First Presidency to missionaries: “The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him.  More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among his children.”

Last night Sister Perron and I spoke at a Young Single Adult fireside in the Papatoetoe 1st ward.  It was attended by about thirteen young single adults and the bishop.  It was a very spiritual event.  At the conclusion of the fireside the bishop asked the Young Single Adults if they would sing their special mantra to Elder and Sister Perron as the closing hymn.  With that said they all stood, came to the front of the room, and standing directly in front of us they sang a cappella three verses of a song in their native language. They sang in part, syncopated all in beautiful harmony!  Sister Perron and I had tears in our eyes and several of the singers had tears running down their cheeks.  Never have we felt more special. More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among his children.”  One conclusion we have reached.  Down here the musical instruments are the saints and their voices.

“The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him.  Sister Perron has been richly blessed.  She can deliver a talk, a lesson or add a powerful, timely, comment at the drop-of-a-hat.  It would not take her a week to prepare a Relief Society lesson any more.  This week she taught a Book of Mormon institute lesson at the Self Reliance center to about 15 adults.  She taught a YSA Sunday School lesson when a teacher did not show up; she taught an Eternal Marriage Institute class when a teacher did not show up and last night she spoke at a YSA fireside.  Last week she attended an Eternal Marriage Institute class where the teacher started talking about how some couples they know argue and how they can have some really loud, heated arguments.  The teacher then turned to Sister Perron and said, “Do you have anything you want to add about this part of a marriage?  Sister Perron said, “I remember a prophet saying the only time a husband and wife should “speak in loud tones to each other is if the house is on fire.”  The students laughed, a proper principle was taught and the lesson was brought back on track.  As Sister Perron was telling me of her experience on our drive home I said, “You go girl, the Holy Ghost is really sweetening your mind.  What a terrific comment in a difficult situation!” 

Lest anyone think that teachers do not show up down here, quite the contrary they are very faithful. One only needs to realize that during a week we have 37 classes being taught out in the stake institutes and 16 classes being taught here at the city institute so we have 53 chances of something coming up during any given week; therefore we can very often be the first OR the last resort.

Last blog I spoke of our suggestions made to the Area Seventy and his acceptance and enthusiasm for our recommendations.  Following is a copy of an e-mail he sent out to all of the stake presidents in his coordinating council.
Dear Presidents:

     We have a very valuable resource in Auckland for the next several months to have Elder and Sister Perron who have been serving here now since March. They are full-time missionaries, slightly older than young F/T missionaries, and are a delightful couple. They report to me and are specifically assigned to help us with our Auckland-wide institute and YSA efforts. When you see them at institute or YSA in various wards and meetings, please welcome them and know that they are “our” resource, to bless us and our YSA’s. They are engaged and energized and their heart is filled with love and concern for YSA’s

     As you know we have 25% of our YSA attending meetings and less than half of those attending institute. There is great concern expressed for the YSA all the way up and down this Church. I am very keen, like I know you are, to change the YSA landscape. A training program is being prepared for each stake high councillor who has YSA/institute as their portfolio. The first of these training sessions will likely include a counsellor in the stake presidency. We will let you know as this unfolds.

     We will likely have Elder and Sister Perron visit with us at our next Coordinating Council for a discussion about institute / YSA’s.

     Thank you brethren.

Our recommendations are things that are sustainable – meaning that they will be able to be carried on after we leave – and are NOT new programs.  They are things that are applicable to the conditions here in this part of New Zealand.

I cannot even begin to tell you how the Spirit has guided our efforts and the places we go.  After our Area Seventy sent out the letter referenced above I have been working on getting the material ready for presentation to the Stake Presidents.  It so happened that we did not have a YSA activity to attend this past weekend so Sister Perron put out a post on Facebook to the 12 stakes asking if there was any activity taking place that we could attend.  Bishop Leuluai of the Papatoetoe 1st ward responded to Sister Perron’s Facebook post and said they did not have anything planned but he would like to have us speak at a YSA fireside in his ward if we were available.  We said, “yes” so he quickly organized the fireside.  After the fireside he wanted to know what could be done to move forward on the momentum of the fireside.  We briefly shared with him what we had recommended and what was planned.  He said,” I already have a returned missionary called to a position all I would have to do is change his assignment to fill the call you are recommending.  We would not have to wait for stake presidency and high council clearance of a new person.  Let’s do it right now.  I gave him encouragement that we would work on getting thing rolling.  I came home and immediately sent an e-mail to our Area Seventy.  He got right back stating that if the Bishop wants to proceed and has asked for help for us to proceed and that he would tuck the stake president into the loop which he did with a copy of the E-mail he sent back to me.  Short version, I have our first implementation taking place in the Papatoetoe 1st Ward this coming Saturday morning at 5:30 A.M. when I attend their bishopric meeting.  This whole process has been approved and moved to implementation in just a few weeks.  Each week Sister Perron and I have been in the right place at the right time!.  Not circumstantial; we are on an errand from the Lord to rescue Young Single Adults.  We recognize the hand of the Lord directing our efforts!

Change of writers here….Elder Perron got busy and has not been able to finish up this blog so I will try to start where he left off.  He has been very busy trying to develop and write a training curriculum for the YSA leaders to help with the functioning of the YSA and “rescue” of those less active.  He has his first training with Papatoetoe 1st Ward this Saturday.  (I love these names of towns now that I can say them).   We feel very privileged they are allowing us to implement our ideas and the recommendation and approval process is behind us.    

I t has been really slow this week with school and institute out.  Sooo we decided to clean up the Institute Building….all three floors!!  I started in the office and cleaned off about 4 long tables of office supplies and equipment and put them in cupboards.  There were about 50 boxes of books that had been in the library downstairs before the remodel.  There were more boxes and boxes of old files of Institute and Seminary records and rolls. .  Elder Perron attacked the large boxes and started going through them saving some books and discarding others.   The books  he  saved he carted downstairs and put them on shelves .  The boxes of files we discarded most of them.  I then went into the storage room and organized and moved boxes and labeled what was in the boxes.   Then we took down tables and moved tables, chairs, file cabinets and organized everything.  We took large framed pictures out of the other storage room and hung them on the walls. We then went upstairs and carted things out and rearranged all the tables and chairs and hung art.    We love it!!   Now to see what the director thinks of all we did.  They said do whatever you want so we did!   Don’t turn Elder and Sister Perron loose and leave them alone, unless you really mean it!   (We have photographs of the after effect….unfortunately we don’t have pictures of before so that you can see all that we did) 

At one of our Institute Eternal marriage classes there was a student who was in her late 20’s, that said she had been dating her boyfriend for two years and they had been ready to get married for quite awhile.  However as custom to the culture they would not proceed until they had both their family’s blessings.  Her family would not give their blessings for what she felt was prejudice reasons.  She and her boyfriend were at the point they did not know what else to do.  They had been patient, they had waited, and they were worthy to go and ready to go to the temple, but out of respect to her parents would not proceed.   I talked to her a little while after the lesson and told her to go to her parents and have a heart to heart talk with them.  She was very reluctant but said that she would.  I thought about her all week and my heart ached for her.   The next week, Elder Perron and I were headed to another institute stake building and it was raining really hard.  We whizzed right past the first exit, and then missed the 2nd freeway exit and got kind of lost, and it ended up that we had gone past all the exits and turns and the only institute left to go to was the one that we had just attended the week before.  Because the traffic was so bad and the rain, we decided we would just attend it again.  Besides I said that I would like to talk to that girl again, I had thought about her all week.   That was the class I attended above that Elder Perron said I made the comment in. It was a class and a discussion that I felt the Lord had sent me to be in.  There were many comments and discussions that night and I felt I needed to be there to make remarks to clarify some points.   Also after class I met with the girl again and I asked her, “Did you talk to your parents?”   She said, “Yes.  And I am engaged.”  They said okay!  They are to be married in the Hamilton Temple in November.   She is so happy!     I felt like we just kept missing those exits because we were guided to be there that night, in all reality both nights. 

I have thought I wanted a ukulele.  Elder Perron got on the internet to look to see where we could get one.  Come to find out there is a music store 2 blocks from our apartment that specialized in guitars and ukuleles.  So we went in one evening and came out with a sweet ukulele.   Now I am trying to learn how to play it off YouTube.   I have learned a few chords and how to strum the ukulele.  There’s a lot to learn!  Tafi, our office administrator was telling me that when she was pregnant she learned how to knit and how to play the guitar while she was at home.  She said you can learn anything off of YouTube.  So I believed her and I am going to try!  I am having fun trying.  It’s been less than a week so I will let you know when I learn to play a song.   J 

Oh another big milestone for me!   Elder Perron finally has let me drive the car into and out of downtown Auckland.  He is only scared a little bit.  I tell him to just shut his eyes and if he doesn’t hear a scrape, we are fine!  Photographs of the parking garage we have to park in and where he gets really scared when I drive are included.   But it is just fine….no scarier than when he drives only I don’t scream!   He screams like a girl!  lol 

On the 4th of July – back home but on Saturday the 5th here – we had a FHE with the other missionaries here.  Because it is COLD, wet and rainy, and the wind blows a lot now, we had it inside at the Area Office.  We listened to a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”, ate sloppy joes with a variety of salads, and had plenty of desserts.  We then played a get to know you game and we learned some very interesting things about some of their pre-mission life.  It was way funny and we had a good time! 

We have a new Mission President as of July 1, President and Sister Balli from Colorado.  We have not met them yet.  I am sure they are very busy with lots of things to do.  As long as we stay out of trouble we will probably not meet them for awhile.   

On the weekend we drove 40 km from Auckland to Piha; New Zealand’s most famous surf beach.  This black iron sand beach has a reputation for awesome surf which rolls in over the Tasman Sea.  When Uncle Toby’s Iron-Man contest was held at Piha in 1997, canoes were snapped in two by the pounding surf and they’ve never come back.   It can be moody, misty, and mysterious, wild, wet, and wind-swept.  The electrical power goes off, the phone lines come down, sometimes the road in (and out) get blocked.  Living there is not for the faint –hearted.  Piha has rips and currents and is very unforgiving.  Not real safe in other words.  Fisherman regularly die off the rocks, so they advise you to check with the clubs before you venture out.  It was very windy and rugged the day we were there.  No swimmers, no surfers, and no boats were out.  Piha is not just surf and sand.  With rugged cliffs and the majestic Lion Rock standing guard over the beach, the scenery is dramatic and inspiring.   The beach is backed by the Waitakere mountain range, and a parkland of sub tropical forest.  It was beautiful! 

So basically life is wonderful, beautiful, and we are happy.  We are thankful for our experiences.  We are thankful for our children’s support as we serve the Lord.  We pray for their safety, their happiness, their successes, their spirituality, and we want them to know that we love and miss each and every one of them.  We are thankful for the Book of Mormon, for prophets to guide and direct us, for the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation.  We love you all!

Aroha Nui,

Mom and Dad

(AKA: Elder and Sister Perron)

 Pahi and Lion's Head rock from up above.  Notice the sky and clouds at about mid day

Papatoetoe 1st ward fireside after they had sang their mantra to us

Learning to play the ukulele

Work work work

Work work work

Pahi and Lion's Rock from the ground 30 minutes later. Notice the blue sky.

The forest road at Piha just above the beach.

I love rainy days and umbrellas!

A rainbow just outside our window.  The colors were so vibrant!

Clean up day!

Storage room before I cleaned and organized

Boxes Elder Perron has emptied!

Organizing and cleaning out the cupboards

The after pictures of arranging chairs and tables - 2nd floor

The view from our desks now

Upstairs new look - 3rd floor

Game Room

We even decorated the stairwell!


Sister Perron's first time driving.  The Auckland bridge. 1st scare of the day for Elder Perron

I'm cool as a cucumber!  No problem!

2nd scare for Elder Perron, but we're almost there!  :-)

Down into the parking garage. Sharp corners, tight lane, no problem!


Now up to the 8th floor. 
 "Just close your eyes Elder Perron. If you don't hear scratching, we're just fine!"

Sister Perron at your service.  Where would you like to drive to next?!  :-)