Friday, January 16, 2015

Catching Up!

Our last Blog ended with Joshua and Laatai being baptized on Saturday November 15th and confirmed on Sunday the 16th so we will pick up from there.

November 18th  (Tuesday) .We taught Joshua and Lataai a post baptism lesson.  Since they are so very focused on getting married in the temple the lesson was on the doctrine that families can be together forever and the importance of the temple.  We answered a lot of their questions.  During the lesson they finally understood that they could get married now – civilly – and still be married in the temple as soon as they have been members one year (obviously qualifying for a temple recommend and Joshua obtaining the Melchizedek priesthood.)  They were excited!  When they decided to get baptized they were working under the idea that they would have to live apart for one year and could not get married until they were married in the temple. 

Joshua shared a comment made by one of the speakers in a sacrament meeting talk –made while they were investigating the church - that had made a great impression on him.  The speaker spoke of his grandfather who had joined the church against stiff opposition from his parents.  The speaker talked about how grateful he was for the courage of his grandfather because of the blessings of the temple and the fact that all of his aunts and uncles, cousins and his brothers and sisters and now his children were all enjoying the blessings of the gospel because of the courage of his grandfather.  Joshua was receiving some opposition from his family about joining the church.  Joshua shared that when he heard that talk he decided right then and there that his future wife (Lataai) and their future children and grandchildren would receive that same blessing. 

November 19th  (Wednesday) Debbie received a facial at Smith and Caughey’s – a large Macy type Department store - in down town Auckland.  We had been in the store a couple of weeks earlier shopping for some nylon stockings for Debbie.  As we walked past the cosmetic counter they had a special going where they would give you a full facial massage and then give you a $60 gift certificate towards the purchase of cosmetics.  I signed her up!  Today just happened to be the day.  We walked down to the Department store – from the Institute building.  While she had her facial massage I went across the street and waited in one of the biggest McDonalds you have ever seen.  Takes up the whole bottom floor of a high rise office building!  That evening we attended Institute at the Manukau stake.  During the devotional in the chapel following the classes Sister Perron and I were asked to bear our testimonies.  These young adults have a special place in our hearts.  When we first arrived in New Zealand our first YSA weekend outing at the beach – Wenderholm Regional Park – with the YSA from the Manukau stake. This was the last Institute class until next year for this stake.  A very spiritual experience.

November 20th (Thursday)  Debbie was not feeling well.  We have no institute classes in the City so we just stayed around our apartment.  Did some cleaning, did some grocery shopping.  Since we do not have any designated P-day this must have been one of those days.

November 21st.(Friday). We got up early and drove over to the Tamaki Stake where met with their YSA and went to the Temple with them.  We spent the morning in the temple and then we all had lunch together in the temple cafeteria.  The Stake Presidency was there along with many other stake members doing initiatory and endowment sessions.  The stake presidency bought their YSA and Sister Perron and I lunch.  Very Special day!  On the way back to Auckland from the temple Sister Perron and I stopped in Pokeno for an ice cream cone.  TRADITION!

November 22nd (Saturday)  We had a Thanksgiving day celebration in the Pacific Area Office with the other senior missionaries.  Thanksgiving is not a holiday in New Zealand so we celebrated on Saturday because the stores are open and no days off work for Thanksgiving..  We all contributed $10 per-person to cover the cost of the turkey and ham and decorations and then everyone brought a salad or a dessert.  There were about twenty couples there and then some visitors.  We took Kasia Cook with us as a guest.  Kasia is a young single adult from Idaho who is in New Zealand working on her doctorate degree at Auckland University.  Following the dinner we took Kasia for a drive up to top of Mt. Victoria where she could look out over the Harbour and the city.  Elder & Sister Hallick of the Area Presidency attended the dinner.

November 23rd (Sunday)  Sister Perron and I spoke in the Auckland 1st Ward (Scotia Place chapel at the top of Queen Street)  Elder Tibbitts also spoke.  What a wonderful job he did.  He is a Zone Leader.  Elder and Sister Broberg and their family happened to be visiting the 1st Ward.  The Brogerg’s have just finished their mission and their children have come down to visit and tour the country with them.  The Broberg’s are from St. George.  After the sacrament meeting I was swamped with people coming up to me and wanting to visit.  I had served in this ward 50 years ago.  This was my first area back then and I was a later a zone leader in the area so as I shared experiences and names of people who touched my life years ago.  The talk touched chords with people who had relatives in the area back then.  Also a Maori lady came up to me after the meeting.   It was Amber Ahmu.  Amber was a young woman living in the California Anaheim East stake when I was the stake president there.  As a stake presidency we spent the entire week at girls camp so we had a special connection with Amber and all the other young women.  When I was speaking she said she quickly looked up and said “I know that voice! That is President Perron!”  Amber’s parents were Maori and from New Zealand living in southern California so I had a close relationship with her parents.  That was over 25 years ago since Amber was in the YW program so I would have never recognized her if she had not come forward to greet me.  Her first question to me was “Do you remember me?”  I said yes, you are Sister Ah Mu.  Good guess on my part.  Quite a small world.

Following our speaking in the Auckland 1st ward we drove over to the Lynfield Ward in the Mt. Roskill stake and attended church, Sunday school, priesthood/relief society with Joshua and Laatai.  Later that night we attended a 2015 YSA National Conference Planning Committee meeting.

November 24th (Monday)  We went to institute building in the city.  Did some work on preparing class schedules for next year 2015.  I needed a haircut so we walked down Queen Street to find me a new barber – Never ending quest to find a good barber.  We took some pictures of the Christmas decorations along Queen Street.  We called our granddaughter Lacey who lives in Yucca Valley, California to wish her a happy birthday.

November 25th (Tuesday) .  Attended Institute at the Papatoetoe, Tamaki, Otara combined stake institute at the Great South Road chapel in Papatoetoe.  Institute was over about 9:00 P.M. so following Institute we drove over to the Maurewa Stake to attend a fun and games night for YSA from around the Auckland Area.  This is a weekly event, the YSA that are interested just know it is place where something is happening.  The High Council Advisor is there to supervise the building.  The YSA play indoor flag Rugby in the cultural hall. Ping pong on the stage… We got home about 11:45 P.M.

November 26th (Wednesday)  Members of the 2015 YSA National Conference Planning Committee visited the ASB show grounds and buildings, the site of the conference.  The ASB show grounds are located in Auckland on Greenlane Avenue.  While we were walking around the grounds we saw two wild parrots fly past us.  A lady working there said she watches them fly around every day, they are always here. They were so beautiful.  This is the second time we have been lucky enough to see wild parrots.  That evening Sister Perron and I attended the Panmure Stake Institute.  This was their final institute class for the year.  I usually attend the Mission Preparation” class and Sister Perron usually attends The Book of Mormon class.  What a spiritual experience the Mission Preparation class proved to be.  The Teacher wrote of the white board… Mission Preparation; he then asked the class members – in no order and with no pressure – to come to the board and write something they had learned during the class over the past year.  It began slow – one wrote.. “Love the People” another “Teach by the Spirit” another “Study the Scriptures,” “Follow mission rules.”  Pretty soon there were forty or fifty things written on the board.  Many students, including myself made multiple trips to the board.  We all started sharing our thoughts about the things written on the board.  We shared experiences!  We shared testimonies!  Wow!  Sister Perron had an equally moving experience in her Book of Mormon class.  During the closing devotional Sister Perron and I were asked to share our testimonies.  Sister Perron was so touched spiritually and emotionally she was on the verge of tears the rest of the evening.  We love the YSA here in New Zealand!

November 27th (Thursday)  Attended the Redoubt, Papakura and Manurewa combined institute. This was their last class before the summer break.  We met two YSA ladies that had just been baptized that week and were at institute with a member friend.  At the Devotional following classes just prior to the blessing on the food Elder Perron spoke up and introduced these two young ladies and told the kids these two girls needed some friends.  The girls had big smiles on their faces as these kids swarmed around them.  The remainder of the night was Pizza and games.

November 28th (Friday)  We attended a Redoubt Stake YSA Carnival held at their stake center.  There were booths for all kinds of carnival activities that each of the wards YSA groups set up.  It was fun! Sister Perron and I set up a booth to encourage the YSA to sign up for the 2015 YSA National Conference.  Sister Perron helped YSA register and Elder Perron wandered the cultural hall visiting all the other booths.  Following the Carnival (about 9:30 PM) Sister Perron and I went to Manukau Stake Center to attend their YSA dance.  This dance was the beginning of a weekend of activities the Manukau Stake YSA are holding.

November 29th (Saturday)  We attended an event that was organized and sponsored by the Manukau Stake YSA called THE BIG GIVE.  This was such a great event that Sister Perron decided that we needed to get this event written up and in local newspapers.  We took pictures, interviewed people and wrote an article about the event.  Turned it into the Pacific Area Public Communications office and it was published in the Mormon News Room on and in a couple of local newspapers.


Mangere, Auckland, New Zealand – Saturday, 29 November 2014
The Young Single Adults (ages 18-30) of the Manukau Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined together for a weekend of activities which they themed STAND-A-LITTLE-TALLER, and they definitely did just that.

Nothing makes a person stand a little taller than when they give service to others.  The main focus of the Saturday activities was dubbed by the organizers as THE BIG GIVE.  For the last two months the young single adults had been asking the members of their local church units to donate to the cause.  They have been collecting items to be given away to those in the community who are in need.  As Manu Fisi’ihoi – one of the young single adult organizers said, “We didn’t want people to have to pay for anything.  That’s why it’s called The Big Give.  One guy came in today and picked out a TV and asked, “How much does this cost?”  Our answer to him, “Nothing, it’s yours!”  He couldn’t believe it!  He was so happy and said, “I would like that one!”  Two husky young single adults picked it up and carried it out and helped him load it into his car.

One young boy was heard to say, “Wow we have a new couch!”  Even though it was second hand that boy was excited over something many of us take for granted.
Seini Folau, one of the architects of the event said, “We have been working on this for two to three months; at first we were afraid no one was going to donate stuff and we would have nothing to give away.  But the turnout has been so good and everybody pulled through!”

Manako Nemaia, a young single adult female who was helping a little girl fill her bag with clothes said, “This is really exciting!  It’s just good to see all this stuff going away to good homes because I know all these things just lie in the back of our closets and cupboards collecting dust.  It’s just really good to see it go to other people.”

THE BIG GIVE was held at the LDS chapel located at 15 Robertson Road in Mangere.  Upon entering the building the scene was captivating. The cultural hall and the foyer were filled with donated items – couches, oversize-reclining chairs, television sets, furniture cabinets, dishes, cutlery, clothes, shoes, toys; and there was a throng of people picking through the items.  There were young single adults all about reorganizing the merchandise, answering questions, and encouraging the public to take anything and everything they could use.

President Sione F. Tuione – Manukau Stake President - was asked to share his impressions of THE BIG GIVE.  His response, “These young single adults have been asking members to donate, they have sent invitations to the community to come and take as much as they need.  This is the first year they have done this and it has really been a big success!”  He continued, “It is really good to see the non-members of our community come in and feel at home.  I have seen them take bags of clothes and everything they need for their families.”  Speaking of one family in particular he said, “They came and left with bags of clothes, pretty soon they were back with other members of their family.  They returned a third time with extended family members.  I think it was the feelings that they felt here when they come to the chapel.”

While visiting with President Tuione a small family of six – Mom, Dad, three young boys and a baby -were passing by sorting through the merchandise.  They had a small stroller that was loaded down with bags full of clothes in the stroller where the baby would normally be and bags of clothes hanging from the handles of the strollers.  Mom had her arms full of boxes of board games, the small boys had some bags they were carrying, Dad had his arms full and the twelve year boy was carrying the baby.  President started visiting with them.  During the visit he found out that they had walked to the chapel – two to three kilometres.  They did not have a car.  President indicated that when they were finished gathering the things they needed and were ready to go home he would load their things in his van and drive them home.  Smiles lit up their face.  Dad then told the boys they could get one of the Televisions sets that they had been wanting.  The young
 single adults started loading their things in the President’s van for a happy ride home.  Before they left mom found herself a pair of knee-high black boots.

Many of the young single adults were really touched by the event.  Jessica Folau who was sorting and organizing clothes said, “It’s been cool to give our all.  I feel like by doing this we’re showing love to these people.”  Her friend – Damaris Petersen – who was helping her sort and put out clothes chimed in, “It’s been good to see people who actually need things to come and find it.  Just to know the things we’ve given them are needed.  Like the Christmas tree, that was probably one of the best parts of my day.  Someone donated a Christmas tree with ornaments.  Two little boys grabbed it up and were so excited.  Their eyes lit up and they got big smiles on their faces!”

The young single adults had also procured an oversized van and were making home deliveries of the larger furniture items when the people had no way getting the needed items home; truly a service of love!

Manu Fisi’ihoi, the young single adult male representative for the stake, said, “It’s been a great success!  People have been able to come and just take whatever they want or need.  After it’s all done with and what we have left over, we will ask our missionaries in the area if there’s anything they need and then we will donate the rest to Salvation Army.

President Tulione expressed it best.  “It’s really good to see our young single adults willing to give and invite the community; they spread the word all through the community by word of mouth and with signs all over the place. They might make this an annual event.  We are looking forward for some more activities like this!”

Roger Mataupu, commenting on all of the weekend activities – Friday evening workshops; Friday night dance; The Big Give on Saturday followed by games and an evening bonfire; concluding with a Sunday evening musical devotional – said, “I can honestly say it has been one of my most memorable weekends in young single adults.”

November 30th (Sunday)  We attended three different ward blocks of meetings to be with the YSA in their Sunday School classes.  Sunday evening we attended the Manukau Stake YSA devotional – the closing event for their YSA weekend.  The stake presidency asked Sister Perron and I to bear our testimonies.  There were about five hundred YSA in attendance.  As usual there we some YSA from other stakes that showed up; typical since the YSA are a nomadic bunch when it comes to activities.

December 1st (Monday)  We worked on a presentation that Sister Perron has to make at the upcoming CES training for New Zealand S&I employees.  The senior CES missionaries serving in the three missions in New Zealand missions – Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington will also be in attendance.  In the evening we went over to Elder and Sister Brown’s apartment and Sister Brown took pictures of Sister Perron and I in our Polynesian outfits.  Sister Perron thought it would be fun and Elder Perron said, “Okay, but only if I have to?”  “You have to!”  Therefore we had our pictures taken and Elder Perron had fun!

December 2nd (Tuesday) Mixing some work with some pleasure, we drove to Devonport and then rode the Ferry across the harbour to Auckland.  We had lunch along the waterfront and then walked up Queen Street towards the institute building – shopping for ladies shoes along the way.  I was not counting but it seems Sister Perron found a couple pairs of shoes.  In the evening we attended the Papatoetoe, Otara and Tamaki combined Institute.  Following institute we ran into William (Viliami Sipanisi Faka’ositau TAKUAFU a member of the Otara 2nd Ward (Tongan) who served a mission in Boise, Idaho and whom we have reported on earlier (William is the returned missionary who needed a scholarship.)  William has been accepted into Auckland University of Technology and will be attending Institute at the City Institute when university starts up in March.  Sister Perron visited with a young single adult sister that confirmed that the young sister Sister Perron had previously encouraged to speak to her parents about getting married (Manukau Stake) had indeed been married in the temple just a couple of weeks earlier.

December 3rd (Wednesday)  We drove to Hamilton for our first day of CES training.  The meeting started at 11:00 A.M. in the Institute Building in Hamilton across the street from the University of the Waikato.  On the first day Aaron Wi Repa and Ngati Smith were not with us as they were in Samoa but were returning and would be with us Thursday and Friday.  Had a great meeting.  Met the other senior missionaries that are on CES missions in New Zealand:  Elder and Sister Zollinger, Hamilton Mission and Elder and Sister Poulsen, Wellington mission who are living in Christchurch on the South Island.  Also met Stranz Wihongi the director of the Institute in Hamilton.  His father is the nephew of Tia Wihongi who was the matron of the mission home when I served in New Zealand 50 years ago.  I met Stranz’s father in Huntington Beach, California when our daughter Jennifer was a YSA living in Huntingtin Beach some years ago.  Brother Wihongi was a member of the High Council working with the YSA in Huntington Beach.  Stranz grew up in California and loves surfing.  Still surfs.  Told me he had “shot the pier” at Huntington Beach when he was a young man.  I told Stranz he “looked smarter than that!”  I brought the subject up because in conversation I mentioned I had recently seen a YouTube video of some guy shooting the pier in Huntington Beach.  It was good making acquaintances.

December 4th (Thursday)  Full day of training and interaction conducted by Ngati Smith.  Great day! We had a dinner that evening after training catered by a member of the church who does the catering for special events such as when the mission President has a special event or when general authorities visit.  My point is this – It was the best meal we have had in New Zealand.  All the food is great in New Zealand but this was delicious: roast beef, new potatoes, fresh cooked vegetables, home-made rolls and yummy dessert!  Simple and home cooked!

December 5th (Friday)  Training continued. We had sandwiches and fresh fruit for lunch.  We had a great three days.  Sister Perron found an immediate soul mate – Sister Poulsen senior CES missionary from the NZ Wellington mission – they were friends as soon as they heard each other speak.  They met day one and hated to say goodbye at the end of day three.  The conference ended at 2:00 P.M.  Following the conference Sister Perron and I set out for parts south.  We had planned a SPECIAL TRIP and received permission from our CES leaders and our Mission President to travel outside our mission for a few days.  Our next blog will be a report on our SPECIAL TRIP.

Aroha Nui,
Elder & Sister Perron

Thanksgiving feast with all the Senior missionaries.  We brought Kasia with us.  Love this girl!    She is from Albion, Idaho studying for her doctorate here.

The National YSA Committee checking out the ASB Showground facilities.  
Elder Perron waving in the background

ASB Showgrounds - Very large facility!

Panmure Stake YSA Institute - last classes of the year.  

Sister Smith (Elder & Sister Alders niece), Sister Perron and Lataai. We went with Lataai to her new ward after her baptism and we found Sister Smith who is currently serving her mission in that ward.
Downtown Auckland at Christmas time.  Smith & Caughey department store is where sister Perron got treated to a wonderful facial.  Thank you Elder Perron!  :-)

The very large Santa and his reindeer.  Santa is five stories tall and his reindeer  three stories with their antlers.  They were quite impressive.  Queen Street is always this busy.  

Redoubt Stake YSA - Two new converts at their first Institute class. Just baptized within the week.  Best friends and they got baptized on the same night.  They were so happy and so enthusiastic  about the gospel.

Manu the YSA leader

 Manukau Stake YSA at their Christmas "Big Give"

Riding the ferry from Devonport to Auckland

William, from Tonga, that needed the education scholarship with Elder Perron, and another YSA.

Lavina,  they DID get married in the temple in November and she is happy as can be!!!

Snack time at CES training  in Hamilton.   They treated us well!.

New Zealand CES Training - Front row:  Elly Edwards, Sister Poulsen, Aaron Wi Repa, Sister Wi Repa, Sister Zollinger, Mereana Ngakuru, Sister Perron.    Middle Row:  Elder Poulsen, Brother  Richard Aspinall, Brother Stranz Wihongi, Elder Zollinger, Brother Jonathan Warwick,  Elder Perron.    Back Row:  Ngatai Smith, Phillip Skeen,  Newman Soloai.  
E/S Perron in our native Polynesian clothing.  Called Puletaha if you are Tongan.  Puletasi if you are Samoan.   Probably the only time and the only picture you will get to ever see Elder Perron in his lava lava skirt.  Enjoy!  :-). Me on the other hand, I love them. They are so comfortable and cool.  Actually on a hot evening in the house unbeknownst to anyone might see Elder Perron in his lava lava.  They are quie nice and comfortable! 

Elder Perron loves these outfits so much he insisted we buy two different sets!  Lol.  J/k

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