Monday, September 1, 2014

More Enjoyable Than Any Work We Have Ever Done

We are busy every day and it all revolves around the Young Single Adults and the Institute but still our efforts seem to pull us in many directions. 

For example we are members of the committee planning the 2015 National Young Single Adult conference.  We have no real assignments but are there to give input and then of course make sure the YSA are all aware of the conference.  It is an honor to be on that committee but as with anything in the church it involves meetings. 

We have previously reported that we have been involved in the LDS Share Expo – a share the gospel by social media event.  We are not in charge of the Expo but were asked by the area office and our area seventy to get involved in helping recruit YSA to be the trainers at the regional expo in Auckland.  Since we are with the YSA every day we have found YSA that are willing and excited to be trainers for the multitude.  We turn the names into our area seventy and he forwards them onto the stake presidents and we get approval back immediately verses the normal route of asking the stakes and wards to respond with names.  We have been involved in the training sessions up to now to make sure the trainers show up and are doing their job – simply because our area seventy asked us to remain involved because YSA need lots of reminding sometimes.  The expo is about 25 days off and we have enough trainers found and have helped train them on an instant or two but we are not too involved now until the day of the expo.  The expo is not our responsibility… just finding the YSA to carry it off to a successful conclusion. 

Last week our area seventy asked us if we would help in the process of getting enough YSA on board for the 2015 New Zealand EFY conference.  This is a national conference for the YM & YW in the Auckland Region. They need 100 YSA to be counselors for the week-long conference.  The names for counselors were coming in very slowly if at all from the stakes.  In an email to us we were asked “because of your excellent relationship with the YSA and the Stake Presidents will you assist in finding YSA who will serve as counselors.” So we are again involved.  Do not have any real involvement in the program but just a good relationship with the YSA across the whole region. 

Our next big responsibility – meaning we feel the pressure of the occasion more than our daily responsibilities – is to make a presentation in the Auckland Coordinating Council on our training and rescue initiatives.  We have some of them in place where a few key priesthood leaders who know about the initiatives have asked us to help implement them (obviously with the Area Seventy approval) prior to their introduction.   However we have been invited to make a presentation to all the stake presidents (September 24th ) in their coordinating council. 

Just this past weekend (August 22-24) we concluded a big event.  The Auckland region for YSA – 12 stakes – have a quarterly event.  Three stakes are assigned to organize the event and all twelve stakes attend, then next quarter three different stakes organize, this is done four times a year; thus a region wide quarterly event.  This past weekend was one of the quarterly events.   Friday evening was a regional YSA dance for the 12 stakes that we attended at the Manakau Stake Center.  Then on Sunday evening,  Sister Perron and I were the invited guest speakers for the Sunday evening devotional.  It was an honor, the YSA leaders, advisors, and stake presidencies plan the event.  We have been here 6 months and were the invited guest speakers.  Sister Perron gave a great talk… at one point she said, “In an institute class I was attending – some of you will recall this because you were in the class – a student asked me what I thought about “going clubbing”.  They stated that they had a lot of non-member friends and they do not want to lose those friends, I don’t drink or anything but it is wrong to go clubbing with them?”  Sister Perron said she was quiet for a period of time in the class waiting for the Holy Ghost to impress upon her mind an answer that would state the obvious but not offend.  Then the person spoke up again and said, “Well, we all know it is wrong, but is it really that bad?”  Sister Perron said, “Well you have answered your own question.  You said you know it is wrong!  When you hear the Spirit, you need to take heed; If you go clubbing the Holy Ghost will not go with you.  You leave him at the door and you enter in alone.  Is that a risk worth taking?  I don’t think it is!”  In her talk what she addressed listening to the guidance of the Spirit and thereby making good decisions.  The decisions we make will determine our destiny; some decisions will even determine our eternal destiny.”  After the meeting the Area Seventy told her she had done a great job.  A member of the Mt. Roskill stake presidency said clubbing is a real problem and he was grateful for her comments.  He said she had handled the subject very well and it was received much better than if it had come from one of the priesthood leaders.  We have spoken on this subject many times.  There were between 1,200 – 1,500 YSA who attended the Sunday evening devotional.  The largest crowd Sister Perron has ever spoken to.  This past Thursday she had to teach an institute class (substitute teacher) out in one of the stakes.  One of the students said, “It was our class you spoke about in your talk wasn’t it?”  She said “Yes, and I love you all!  Remember no question is a bad question.  We all learn from every question asked.  How will we learn and grow if we don’t ask questions?”

On Thursday evening (August 14th) we attended the Harbour Stake Institute.  They had a devotional, then a sit down dinner for their students and then everyone participated in some well organized competitions.  Each table (seating eight) competed against the other tables. Then desert was served.  The event was used as a thank you for coming to Institute and then also to register for next semester.   This stake is doing a good job.  While we have been here the attendance has gone from 40 the first semester to 80 last semester and on Thursday night they registered 100 for this new semester.  The stake presidency is very involved, the stake YSA advisors and the stake Institute advisors work hand in hand.  Institute people make sure they have good teachers and classes and the YSA advisors have activities and supper (snacks) every Thursday following Institute.  They have YSA showing up for their activities that do not come to institute but you know what they seem to pick them up the next semester around.  We have left the building at 10:45 P.M. before and the place is still rocking.  Basketball, volleyball, other games going on in other rooms, and snacks for everyone!  Obviously the stake presidency has put some budget monies into making this a success but it is working.  

 With this being winter, we do not have as many beach parties and outdoor activities on Saturday with the YSA so we have found time to visit some sites in and around the Auckland area.  On Saturday (August 16th) we drove south of Auckland about fifty minutes to visit a small shop in a small town – about halfway between Auckland and the Temple in Hamilton – where carvers create Maori hand crafted Jade carvings.  Pounamu is the Maori name for the native jade/greenstone.  Pounamu plays a very important role in Maori culture.  It is considered a treasure.  The Pounamu carvings increase in prestige as they pass from one generation to another.  Jewelry and other decorative items are often presented as gifts.  One does not traditionally buy greenstone for themselves.  We spent several hours looking at various carvings and pieces of jewelry.  Maori tradition is more important in our search for a jade carving  than is  the jewelry significance; maybe a piece of Pounamu that will pass from generation to generation not so much for value but prestige to the possessor.  We bought a few small pieces for gifts.  

Once we arrived back into Auckland we drove out to Mission Bay where we had a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant – which is hard to find in New Zealand.  As we were leaving we ran into another senior missionary couple coming in for dinner.  Seems something like a good Mexican food is something that passes from missionary couple to missionary couple.  We all live back across the bridge in Takapuna even in the same apartment complex so to meet at a restaurant in Auckland by chance was a novelty.

After dinner we went to the LDS chapel on Scotia Place – often referred to as the Queen Street Chapel – for a baptism.  Shannon, a YSA who has been receiving her missionary lessons at the city institute building was baptized.  We have several YSA taking missionary lessons at the institute.  Shannon had 95 people at her baptism. Several were YSA from her stake supporting her.  Quite a few of the other people were her family members who are not members of the church.  Her mother was there with many aunts and uncles and cousins.    It was a great experience and a great missionary event.  These young people have such great faith and great commitment to the Lord.  It has been a pleasure to have been a participant in Shannon’s baptism.  These students just seem to automatically come on into institute. 

 On Sunday ( August 17th) we started the day off with a YSA ward committee meeting in the Papatoetoe 1st ward where we have our first Assistant Ward Clerk/Young Single Adult functioning.  It was a training meeting as well as an actual YSA Committee Meeting.  Everyone was in attendance – Bishopric, Relief Society, Elders Quorum, YSA Leaders… It was a text book meeting and the focus was on rescuing the one.  We then attended two Ward blocks of meetings and then we returned to our apartment.  Sister Perron was helping prepare supper for the YSA trainers who were preparing to present an LDS Share Expo in the Habour Stake.  This Expo was an actual event where the YSA trainers sat up for the Expo and then carried it off.  Since the Area Office is located in the Harbour Stake it was a great place to have a trial run.  The YSA showed up at 4:00 p.m. to set up and review assignments and then they had a light supper which Sister Brereton and Sister Perron had prepared for them.  Stake members started coming about 6:00.  The Expo went well.  The YSA are ready for the real thing on September 20th when the members from the 12 metropolitan stakes will take part in the Expo.  There will be a few more small training events but all is on track.  A full exciting day!  We went home after all the clean-up and put away was done.   

 Sister Perron and I have organized a committee of Institute Students – student council - at the city institute.  We have helped them develop a calendar full of activities and happenings beyond the institute classes.  It has taken some time but the events have been happening more than not. We had a very spiritual devotional last week – this is a monthly event.   The girls have Wednesday afternoon activities that they plan and carry off – this past week it was a knitting workshop.  The next Wednesday class is applying make-up.  The boys plan Friday afternoon activities. The boy’s activity last week was games and Pizza.  We are getting good turnout and everyone is having a good time.  In our council meeting when ideas were being discussed, the girls suggested knitting.  Bob – like in China Bob – said boooring!  Bob was front and center in the knitting class however as a picture will show.  He is a good sport and full of fun.  Sister Perron was downstairs talking to some of the girls last week, a married student who was here last semester was in and visiting with some her friends – the visitor is expecting a baby and the girls were asking if they knew if the baby was going to be a girl or a boy.  It is a boy!  Do you have a name picked out?   No we are trying to decide…  Bob – like in China Bob – was nearby in the kitchen area fixing him some lunch and was in earshot of the conversation.  He said, “How about Bob?” Everyone laughed.  She said,”That name is first on our list alright.”  All the time Bob continues quietly going on about his business; Sister Perron would like to bring Bob home us.       

Saturday (August 23rd) not just another Saturday.  Before we were really dressed to go outside the fire alarm for our apartment complex went off.  Loud speakers were telling everyone to evacuate the building.  I figured it was a test because we had received notice that the system would be being tested.  BUT it never went off, it just kept going, Sister Perron looked out the window and said it is real there is a Fire truck with its lights flashing in the parking lot.  We left the building and stood outside with other apartment occupants.  Three missionary couples were out with us.  Stayed outside for about 30 minutes before the building was cleared to go back inside; THEN another Saturday jaunt for Sister Perron and I; we drove to Orewa Beach, bought some fish and chips and watched the surfers play in the water.  There were twenty kite-surfers in the air, 12 sailboard-surfer and several wind sail-boards with wheels playing on the beach and in the water surfers out in front of us.  After that we drove out to Shakespeare Regional Park where we walked the beach looking for sea shells.  Nice spring afternoon!  

Sunday (August 24th) the day of the YSA Regional devotional we visited three ward blocks – Saione Ward, (Tongan) Reboubt Stake; Tamaki 2nd Ward (Samoan) and the Clover Park Ward both in the Tamaki Stake.   After the last block we returned to our apartment to get something to eat before going to the Regional Devotional where we spoke. 

Monday  (August 25th) regular institute day.  Monday evening we attended a YSA family home evening for institute students living in the city.

 Tuesday (August 25th) a regular institute day.  I teach a Mission Preparation Class and Sister Perron teaches an Institute Choir/Hymns of the Latter-days class.  Sister Perron had prayed that we might have a missionary experience.  We were preparing to leave the institute building about 6:00 P.M. when one of the students brought a man to our office who had walked into the building and wanted to talk to the person in charge.  He was about 40 years old.  Said he had been talking to some missionaries and they are continuing to teach him and he said they are great young men but he had some questions that they flat out told him they did not know the answers to.  Said he walks by this building everyday so just decided to stop in.  He wanted to know if we had some time to visit.   Yes!  We all sat down around a table.  He said that he had been reading the Book of Mormon but found a few things that bothered him.  He informed us he was a catholic.  We told him that was great, we loved talking to Catholics.  He informed us he had attended “theology school” and just wanted us to know that before we got started.  We had a good visit but his problems were centered about certain statements made by Nephi in relation to the timing of events that he could not square with his theology studies.  He could not accept the Godhead versus the Trilogy.  Bottom line we had a very cordial visit and he insisted that he was seriously studying the Book of Mormon, but the Spirit seemed to indicate otherwise.  We pointed out some things he had over looked in his studies, and bore our testimony of Joseph Smith.  Told him it was simple, if the Book of Mormon was true then everything we told him was true.  If you will study with real intent and pray… he had trouble understanding how the Spirit could talk to you.  Bottom line we opened the conversation with prayer and we concluded with prayer.  He was a very polite man.  This was Sister Perron’s first missionary experience of that TYPE.  When it was over she said, “I didn’t even know what he was talking about half the time.  It was a good thing you were here!

When that experience was over, we locked up the institute building and headed back to our apartment. No evening institute – students had one Tuesday night off for semester break.  We were tired so we decided we would stop at McDonalds to get dinner; a spur of the moment decision as we were driving past a McDonalds.  We went inside – the McDonalds here are much larger stores than back home – ordered our Big Mac and went to our table.  Said a blessing on the food, and started eating.  A couple of young men brought their food to a table nearby.  We noticed they said prayer over their food.  After a while one of the young men spoke up and asked, “Where are you guys from?”  “We are from the United States; we live in the state of Idaho?”  “How long have you been here?”  “Six months.”  After a few minutes he asked, “Do you mind if I come over and sit with you guys?”  “No, we would be happy to have you join us.”    He comes over, looks at our name badges and asks what is that?  We told him who we are and what we are doing here in New Zealand.  That started him off.  He was a born again; animated, energetic, proselytizing, young man who had no time or inclination for any discussion, just a long winded one sided preaching.   We just smiled and listened long enough to be polite.  Said we needed to be on our way.  Another missionary experience!  When we got to our car we wondered if our LIGHT was dim… looked like we were easy marks.  Sister Perron had had two missionary experiences in the same day.  She can now say she is a real missionary.  Not many of those experiences hanging around Institute students.  

We had one of our less-active YSA adults that was killed this past week.  We did not know him, we have 5,000 less active but it is still a small enough community of saints that such a thing has an effect on everyone.  We need to hasten our work. 

On our Saturday drive when we went south to look at the greenstone carvings, as we crossed over the Auckland Bay Bridge we noticed a very large number of sail boats of all shapes and sizes in the bay just below us.  We crossed over the bridge and drove out to the waterfront.  They were having sailboat races for various classes of boats.  We managed to get some pictures; also other signs that spring is coming; a few pictures of blossoms on some trees and shrubs. 

We love the work, it is work, but the blessings are so great that it is much more enjoyable than any work I have ever done.  The pay is the best!  My companion looks after me day and night!  There is no better life!  
Aroha Nui,

Elder & Sister Perron    
Saturday sailboat races

A large green stone that the jade jewelry is made from
Sister Perron, Shannon, and Elder Perron

Our crazy YSA.  These are our "Lds Share Expo" trainers after a long nights work!

Manu, Tom, Chris, and Dave. 
Handsome YSA that are always there when you need them! 
"The Church is true".  That's what Chris always says.

Our beautiful YSA ladies!  LDS Share Expo

Lots of work getting set up for the Expo Share!

Aawwww!  This us our cute Kasia from Idaho that is here working on her doctorate! 

Institute Friday activity.  Playing pictionary

A lot of young single adults came to the dance! Having a great time!

Look what I saw out our apt. window.  "Should we evacuate or wait and see?"

We got the best sea shells on this beach!!

I love this park!  So beautiful!

Friday night dance

Knitting class

Loni and Latu---- so darn cute!

Bob....he can do the chopsticks....but these knitting needles...not quite so.  But he tried!! 

Our family!   We are all cousins!  Manako, Eleta (niuean), Tafi (Samoan), Sister Perron (American), Chris (Tongan), Ephraim (Maori), Lin (Phillaphines ),    Belinda (European ),  Atah  (American Indian), Loni (Tongan).   We are definitely the melting pot! 

No comments:

Post a Comment