Wednesday, March 25, 2015


We returned from our Special Trip – last blog – on a Friday night.  The next morning we got up early and headed for the temple in Hamilton to be with the Tamaki Stake YSA group.  We  had gotten home late Friday night and left early Saturday morning deciding we would stop at a McDonalds for a quick breakfast on the way.  We were almost to Hamilton before we drove past a McDonalds where we did not have to go out of our way to locate.  We decided we would go inside to order so we could get out of the car and stretch.  When our order came – we had ordered it to go - I said to Sister Perron, “let’s eat it here.”  She said, “No let’s eat it in the car and get down to the temple.”  “We have a few minutes to spare so let’s eat here.”  What a great companion I have, she is always putting up with me.  She said, “Ok, let’s eat it here.”  After eating we continue onto Hamilton.  When we arrive at the Temple the parking lots are quite full – sure it is Saturday.  We drive around, I pass up a good parking place because I know there is a better one someplace.  My companion smiles and kind of shrugs her shoulders.  I drive around and there are no other spaces.  So we wait for a couple we see coming from the temple and take their parking space.  As we walk to the front of the Temple there is Emily – as in our Korean Emily who we have talked about in previous posts.  Emily is just walking out of the doors of the temple.  Sister Perron says, “Emily, what are you doing here?”  Emily had, on her own had been to her bishop and received a limited use temple recommend.  Had caught a bus from Auckland to Hamilton, then a city bus from Hamilton out to Temple View and had walked to the temple.  She had just been into the temple recommend desk and told them she was there to do baptisms for the dead.  The ordinance workers at the recommend desk told her there was a group doing baptisms at 3:00 P.M. she could join in with them.  She now had six hours to wait.  As she was telling us her story she indicated that her return bus to Auckland was leaving at 4:00 P.M. and was wondering if she would have time to do the baptisms and still catch her bus.  This is all new to Emily.  I said, “Let’s go back inside because I am sure we can arrange something better for you.”  We go back in and I visit with the ordinance workers at the recommend desk, he gets on the in-house phone and in a flash there is a sister ordinance worker at the desk and says to Emily, “We can put you in the group that is just going in now, come with me.”  Sister Perron say’s. “I am going to go with her.”  The ordinance worker say, “No we can handle her.”  Sister Perron says, “No, this is Emily’s first time in the temple and I am going to go with her.”  The ordinance worker smiles and says, “Okay.”  Sister Perron and Emily left me standing at the front desk as they quickly departed.  I spent a few hours in the temple and then waited inside to meet Sister Perron.  During the course of events some people in the temple from Auckland knew Emily so they offered to take her home with them so Emily did not have to ride the bus back to Auckland.  She stayed in the temple all afternoon and was able to see the temple grounds all lit up at night.  Christmas lights!  As for Sister Perron and I we headed back to Auckland in the afternoon stopping in Pokeno for ice cream.  On our drive home we marvelled how the Lord works.  If we had not stopped at McDonalds, had not missed that parking space and not walked in as Emily was walking out - Emily may not have been able to visit the temple.  We were supposed to have been there at that time!  Emily has since moved to Perth, Australia.  She graduated from Auckland University with a degree in Medical Physics.  She obtained a job and a scholarship in Perth where she is continuing her post graduate education.  We keep in touch with Emily via Facebook.  Her first post was a trip to her ward building in Perth.  She attends church in the building right next to the Perth Temple.  She is a special Young Lady!

PHOTO ABOVE: We met Emily on the steps of the New Zealand Hamilton Temple as she was coming out and we were going in.  An unplanned surprise meeting.  We took Emily back in and got her into a baptismal session so she did not have to wait for hours.  Her first visit to the temple. She is a very spiritual, self motivated, young lady.   

PHOTO ABOVE:  Elder Perron on the New Zealand Hamilton Temple grounds 

Three days later Sister Perron and I drove back to the Temple – about a 2 hour drive – where we attended an endowment session with the fulltime missionaries from the New Zealand Auckland Mission.  President Balli had arranged for all of the missionaries to be taken to the temple via charter bus over a three day period.  He had assigned specific zones a specific day; senior couples could drive their car and attend any one of the three days that best fit their schedule.    Sister Perron and I chose to attend on Tuesday because Tyler Perron – son of our nephew and niece - who is serving in Dargaville, New Zealand would be there that day.  When we were going into the endowment session Tyler waited in the hallway for me so he could sit beside me.  What a special day.  After the session we had lunch in the cafeteria where Tyler and Elder Tibbitts – another relative – Jenny and Travis Stevenson’s nephew – ate lunch with.  A room full of missionaries and these two great men spent their lunch with us old people.  Elder Tibbitts is an assistant to the president.  On our way home sister Perron and I stopped at Pokeno for ice cream.  Tradition…TRADITION.

Sister Perron got up early and baked some cinnamon rolls – we thought they sounded good for breakfast – she baked extra ones so last night we invited any senior missionaries who might still be around to our apartment for a cinnamon roll and some hot chocolate.  Seems most senior couples take a little time off to travel the country during the summer break; anyway we had four other couples drop by so we had ten people sitting in our apartment in a circle knee to knee.

Kendra and Jeff – our daughter and son-in-law – came down for a visit.  This is our summer and the University is on summer break so we have a breather from teaching daily institute classes.  This temporary change in our schedule allowed us to really enjoy their visit.  Never-the-less some things do not change, there are always Young Single Adult activities so we took Jeff and Kendra to a Young Single Adult dance with us on New Years Eve.  I think it surprised Jeff and Kendra to see all the Young Single Adults come over to talk with us.  It is not like the dance stopped when we walked in but we are loved and treated very well by the YSA.  Some pictures of their visit...

PHOTO ABOVE:  Jeff and Kendra holding two baby lambs.  Nothing more New Zealand than sheep!  We had gone to the home of an elderly couple commonly referred to as the carvers.  They are a Christian couple that moved from Bethlehem, Israel twenty-seven years ago because of the turmoil in the area.  In Bethlehem he was a wood carver who carved Christian items for sale.  He does the same thing here but out of his home.  He has some sheep as pets.  These were newly born lambs about two weeks old.  

PHOTO ABOVE:  Jeff, Kendra, Elder & Sister Perron getting ready to board a sailboat in the Bay of Islands in the Northland - Pahia, New Zealand.

PHOTO ABOVE: Elder & Sister Perron stopping for a photo opportunity on one of the islands in the Bay of Islands.  We spent the whole day sailing around the Bay of Islands.  Our sailboat is anchored in the cove behind us on the top right of this picture.

PHOTO ABOVE: If you are a fan of LORD OF THE RINGS  or HOBBITON then you must know they were filmed in New Zealand.  We stopped by the movie set in Matamata, New Zealand.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Hobbit Holes - where the Hobbit's live! 

PHOTO ABOVE: During our travels we left the beaten track and stopped in Puhoi, New Zealand to eat lunch at the Puhoi Cheese Factory Café.

 PHOTO ABOVE:  Sister Perron and Kendra walking on the beach at Kawakawa Bay southeast of Auckland. 

PHOTO ABOVE: Devenport, New Zealand - Devenport is a small beach community full of specialty shops so we are obviously shopping for items Jeff and Kendra can take back home to their boys. Kendra found a Kiwi bird and had to stop and pet it; I don't think the artist will mind?
The morning after the New Years Eve dance we left town to do some sight-seeing.  We returned home after being away from home one night.  Upon returning home we stopped by the grocery store to get some groceries.  While at the check-out stand I could not help but notice the headlines and picture on the front page of THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD newspaper.  One of our young single adults, a "Beautiful Angel" had been killed in a car accident the night/morning/wee-hours after the dance.  What a traumatic experience!  The young lady was an active member of the Mt. Roskill 2nd Ward (Tongan Ward).

PHOTO ABOVE:  Lovey Taimani was a beautiful, positive, happy out going young single adult. Everyone was her friend and she was a friend to everyone.  This picture on the front page of the paper was a tough way to learn about her death.  What a shock!

Jeff and Kendra left to go home on Saturday.  On Sunday Sister Perron and I attended the Mt. Roskill 2nd Ward to be with the Young Single Adults.  Some other time we will explain Tongan tradition when it comes to funerals – they are five days long.   On Sunday the whole ward was dressed in black, it was fast and testimony meeting and was a very spiritual experience as you would expect.  The young ladies father bore his testimony and it will forever be remembered by Sister Perron and me.  As mentioned the funeral tradition is quite involved covering days mostly for immediate and extended family.  The actual funeral service for friends was to be held the next night – Monday – at the Mt. Roskill Stake Center.  We attended the funeral.  It was a three hour event and was very moving!  The father conducted the service with the stake president presiding. It was held in the cultural hall to accommodate the traditional adornment.  There was a very large crowd.  Lots of Young Single Adults from around Auckland and a lot of non-members friends from the University and work.  This young lady was active in the church – attended her meetings every Sunday – but she had been out with some of her non-member friends and was a passenger in a car where alcohol was a contributing factor in the fatal one car accident.  During the funeral the father who was conducting took a moment and delivered a message directly to the Young Single Adults.  He said. “If you live the gospel and are where you are supposed to be the Lord will bless you.  If you do not” pointing at the casket he continued, “then you very well could end up here!”  A very heart broken father who conducted the funeral with emotions in control took time to teach a never to be forgotten object lesson.  Very sobering.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Lovey's funeral was held in the Mt. Roakill Stake Center.  The crowd was large.  The funeral was held in the cultural hall with seating in the main hall, the chapel overflow area was full and on the stage was full.  The end of the cultural hall that you cannot see was decorated for a "Tongan Funeral" with many hand woven and decorated  matts covering the floor; walls covered with tapa cloth; white draping covered the walls that were not covered with tapa cloth; pictures of Lovey and the casket setting in the middle of this with the podium off to one side.  There were friends  from Otaga University in Dunedin, New Zealand who had flown up from the south island.  Lovey had attended school there last year.  Their were friends and owners from the business where she worked. Lovey was loved by everyone.

PHOTO ABOVE:  The Young Single Adults formed a choir to sing at her funeral.  At the funeral her friends from Otaga University were asked to come join in.  They were generally standing in front and singing LDS hymns that they had not heard before but family made this a missionary tool.   Elder and Sister Perron are on the right side of the picture second row.  Sister Perron is clearly in view, Elder Perron's grey hair is in view.

Joshua and Lataai are doing great.  We attended church with Joshua and Catherine at Joshua’s ward and he was interviewed by the bishop to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  Following the meeting we went to Joshua house where Lataai joined us – she had to teach a primary lesson in her ward so couldn’t attend Joshua ward.  We had a post baptism missionary discussion with Lataai, Joshua and Catherine.  Joshua and Catherine’s mother is a great lady and is warming up to the church.  As she says, “It is making my children happy.”  We had the lesson in the back yard under a gazebo.  Joshua’s mother kept bring us out food… sliced pineapple, strawberries, grapes, Pork rolls, passion fruit cheese cake.

Following the missionary lesson with Joshua and Lataai we attended a Young Single Adult regional council meeting with leaders from the 12 stake area.  To our surprise Elder Coward our Area seventy was there to make some leadership changes so he conducted the meeting.  He asked Sister Perron and I talk to the group about the things we are doing, an unexpected surprise. Felt good!  It is amazing what impact two simple missionaries can have by simply loving and serving the leaders and the Young Single Adults.  The mission is simply doing and loving in simple small ways day after day but looking back from this advantage point we can see where good and great things have been accomplished.  We are making a difference.

We attended a Family Home Evening at the area office.  There was a presentation on Samoa by one of the senior missionary couples who have spent a lot of time in Samoa.  Very interesting.  Debbie and I are very much involved in Polynesia.  Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world.  We are with these great people from Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands,Niuea, and New Zealand every day.

These summer months have been an adjustment for us because we are not constantly on the go – like being booked for 12 hours days - but we are still busy but we have flexibility to find ways to be constantly involved.  Plenty of ward and stake Young Single Adult Activities to attend.  However Sister Perron for instance was finally able to go out on a Tuesday night to a home of a Sister who has constantly invited her to some of her special occasions.  On this night the Sister had an evening planned in her home with some of her church friends for a light supper and desserts.  Sister Perron said maybe I should go.  I said go.  When Sister Perron returned home she gave me a glowing report.  One of the Sisters at the get together is the receptionist at the front desk when you enter the area office.  Her name is June.  She said when she was born the official people asked her father what the babies name was.  She said her parents had not discussed a name but he had to give them a name so he looked around and there was a calendar, the month was June; so he named her June.  She said, “It is a good thing I wasn’t born in September.”  Another Sister at the party is the - better half – of the stake Young Single Adult Advisors in the Henderson Stake which is in West Auckland and the party was in North Auckland so there were sisters there from all over.  A great night.  Now when we visit the wards there are ladies and Young Single Adults giving Sister Perron big hugs.

We get around to every bit of this city attending two to three different wards every Sunday, attending institute in in the 12 stakes on week nights, attending YSA dances, going to YSA devotionals and beach parties.  Young Single Adults telling us good places to eat, good places to shop for bargains.  You get the idea!  Most of the other senior missionaries work in the mission office and in the area office.  One of the senior sisters had a daughter that was killed in an accident about six years ago.  On the anniversary of this accident Sister Perron noticed that the Sister had not gone to the area office as usual.  She was having a tough day.  Sister Perron walked across the hall – of our apartment complex – and asked the sister if she wanted to come to the institute with us.  Sister Perron said, “Elder Perron can keep himself busy at the institute building and we can go shopping downtown along Queen Street and go out to lunch.”  She said, “I would love to do that!”  A summer day for Elder and Sister Perron.  Elder Perron kept himself busy getting things organized for when institute starts back up after summer break.  Sister Perron enjoying the day with a friend.  The ladies returned about five hours later with a twinkle in their eyes, a spring in their step and far less bags of stuff than I expected.  They said, “Let’s go home, we have had a good day!”

On another day three of the Sisters – senior missionaries – who work in the area office wanted Sister Perron to take them to shops in Otahuhu that Sister Perron had found.  It’s shopping about like the clothing district in Los Angeles.  Small shops packed with clothes.  Good prices, but you have to get past the clutter and four women have trouble moving around in the small shops.  The shops are usually owned and operated by Chinese people who import the clothing.  This find was made by being out and around and having some members tell us, “You need to go to Otahuhu to shop, you save lots of money.”  Some enjoyed the experience and will go back, the experience was a bit too much for others.  It took them all of three hours to drive there, shop and drive back.  Otahuhu is in south Auckland.

Now for the good stuff!  He had two of our special Young Single Adults graduate.  We attended the wedding reception for Stevie and Richie!!  What a great occasion.  These Polynesian receptions are not things you pop in and out of; they are sit down occasions with dinner, bride and groom singing to each other, dance performances, a whole gala evening.  We left early after four hours!  They are no longer Young Single Adults! Ya hoo!!!  We tell these kids YSA is not a permanent parking place, it is just a bus stop.  Get on the bus and keep on moving along your eternal journey.  The sooner the better.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Richie Sikuea and Stevie Davis and their wedding party outside the Hamilton New Zealand Temple following their wedding ceremony.

 PHOTO ABOVE:  Richie and Stevie at their wedding party (reception.)
PHOTO ABOVE: Stevie and her bridesmaids doing a Polynesian dance for Richie and his groomsmen at the wedding party (reception). 

We took Joshua and Lataai out to dinner on a Thursday night.  A good opportunity to visit with them any enjoy their company.  That was on a Thursday evening.  On the following Sunday we attended church with them and following the block of meetings – under the direction of the bishop – I conferred upon Joshua the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained him a Priest.  These young people are on fire with the gospel.  What a blessing the church is to them and this mission is for us!

Sister Perron and I have a lot of things bearing down on us.  We have been on the committee planning the 2015 New Zealand National Young Single Adult Conference.  Up to now we have been token members offering advice here and there and acting as a barometer for the committee when anyone wanted to know how the Young Single Adults might feel about this or that since we spend our whole life with Young Single Adults.  Suddenly this all changed!  The member of the committee that has had the responsibility for arranging billeting – private homes - and transportation to and from the bus station and airport for all out-of-town attendees.  AND arranging for the anticipated First Aid requirements during the conference had missed the previous four five meetings and was not responding to e-mails or phone calls.  THEREFORE the chairman of the committee asked Sister Perron and me if we would take on that responsibility.  “Yes! We will take over those responsibilities.”  After the meeting – which ended about 10:00 PM – after getting into our car to go home, Sister Perron said, “How are we going to do that, we know all the young single adults but we do not know a lot of members well enough to ask them to house these Young Single Adults?”  I said, “I don’t know, all I do know is that the Lord is never in a frenzy, let us worry about that tomorrow.”

Prior to the assignment above we had already accepted an invitation to make a workshop presentation at a Young Single Adult weekend camp – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – held by the Papatoetoe 1st Ward on the subject “Standing in a World Filled with Temptations.”  The conference / camp is being held in Hamilton at a church camp near the Temple; our presentations starts the morning after our late night return for a planned trip.

Since this is summer and we have a few less responsibilities insofar as we have no institute classes to teach. And since I have been in New Zealand three years already – counting my mission 50 years ago – and I have never been to the south island, I decided to scratch that itch.  Therefore with the approval of our file leaders and the mission president we had booked a quick trip to the south island several weeks ago.  We were to leave on this trip in three days.

We got a good night of sleep – following the new billeting, transportation and first aid assignments in relation to the 2015 Young Single Adult National Conference.  We got up early the next morning and went into the institute.  I started preparing the hand-outs we had designed for the Papatoetoe first ward YSA camp.  Sister got on the computer and started looking to see how many Young Single Adults had stated on their registration forms that they would need billeting for the 2015 National Conference.  She identified health problems that had been identified on the registration forms.  We had 154 YSA requesting billeting and several serious health problems we needed to plan for - to say nothing of the possible sprains, breaks, cuts, seizures and unseen possibilities when you have 800 people at a conference.  .  About 4:30 P.M. we left the Institute planning to get some healthy take-away food - like sushi - for dinner and headed out to mission Bay with our scriptures, beach chairs and enjoy the evening sunset.  We could not find any healthy food places along the way so we ended up going through a McDonalds drive through.  We had a dilemma.  Fast food in general is expensive down here.  For example a Big Mac, fries and a drink is about $13…. so two of is $26. Chicken sandwiches more expensive.  However a family pack is less expensive.  Therefore I ordered a family pack.  A family pack comes in a nice big box –like a Kids Happy Meal but a big box; a walking advertisement for McDonalds.  We got 4 sandwiches, 4 French fries, 4 drinks, 4 ice cream sundies and proceeded to the beach.  We read and prepared for the Papatoetoe 1st ward YSA conference which is a little over a week away; Debbie found a scripture she was looking for;, at dusk at low tide we walked along the beach looking for sea glass – we found a lot of it –  we will go back.  After we left the beach and headed back to our apartment there was a big Princess Cruise ship leaving the Harbour so we stopped and sat on a sea wall and watched it sail-away.  We stopped by the grocery store and bought a few groceries. Did not need many because we will be leaving on our trip south on Monday.

Friday we spent the day at the institute building working on things and in the evening we went to Brother and Sister Kohe’s home for a social evening with the Young Single Adults from the Mt. Roskill Stake.  The Kohe’s are the Young Single Adult advisors for the stake.  They are great people!  We got home about 11:45 P.M.  We left early!

Saturday Sister Perron and I attended several different stake Young Single Adult fund raising activities around the city.  These young adults were raising money to help offset the cost of attending the 2015 YSA National Conference.  We attended car washes, baked good sales, auctioning off R.M.s for a date – lot of fun things going on.  Obviously we spent money every place we stopped.   We offered to rent some of the R.M.s who were not successful in being rented for a date and send them out on activation visits if they did not get grabbed-up.  They all got dates!

PHOTO ABOVE:  A baked goods sale, sausage sizzle, and RMs auction off for a date at the Tamaki Stake Young Single Adult fundraiser.  It lasted most all day.  We bought some homemade Maori bread, cookies, cupcakes and a sausage sizzle (roasted hotdog.)  

Sunday – Since our assignment allows us to go to any ward in Auckland I decided we would visit the ward where the individual - married adult Melchizedek priesthood holder - who was in charge of billeting for the 2015 YSA National Conference attended church.  If we could redeem him it would help him feel better about himself when things were all over and it might be of some benefit to us rather than starting from ground zero.  The conference is just three weeks away.  We made contact with the individual and it helped relieve Sister Perron’s stress level.  Now I could “scratch my itch” and we could head for the south island.

Monday morning early we caught a flight from Auckland to Dunedin located toward the bottom of the south island.  We rented a car – drove to Queenstown – took a tour bus to Milford Sound for a cruise of the Sound – drove to Franz Joseph Glacier – drove to Greymouth where we turned in our car and then rode the Trans Alpine train to Christchurch; Caught a late night flight back to Auckland.  We spent a week exploring, and I can report that I am doing well and the “itch” has gone away!  We have included a few pictures below of this grand and glorious experience.  

 PHOTO ABOVE: Dunedin, New Zealand a Pacific Ocean port near the bottom of the south island.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Larnach Castle, New Zealands only castle, located on the Otaga Peninsula near Dunedin.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Private boathouse located on Portobello, New Zealand on the Otaga Peninsula.

PHOTO ABOVE: 1843 saw turmoil in the Presbyterian Church in Scotland.  The Disruption as it was known, effectively split the church in half.  The Free Church of Scotland was formed and withdrew from the Established Kirk of Scotland.  Both the Rev. Thomas Burns and William Cargil joined the Free Church of Scotland and in association with Edward Wakefield and his New Zealand Company, started the daunting task of settling Dunedin, New Zealand.  PICTURE ABOVE: A statue of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns is prominently sited in the Octagon, the City's center.

PHOTO ABOVE: The railway station in Dunedin with Sister Perron standing out front with her yellow umbrella.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Sister Perron standing on the mountain top viewing platform in Queenstown, New Zealand overlooking Lake Wakatipu.  This lake is so large you cannot capture it all in several photos.

ABOVE PHOTO: Our touring bus that took us from Queenstown to Milford Sound which is located in the Fiordland National Park on the south west coast of the south island.

ABOVE PHOTO:  Before we arrived at Milford Sound the view from the windows on top of the bus were more revealing that the windows on the side.  Majestic mountains!

PHOTO ABOVE:  Our cruise ship for our Milford Sound trip.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Debbie with a partial view of Milford Sound behind her.

PHOTO ABOVE:  A water fall cascading down the mountain into Milford Sound.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Milford Sound.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Picture taken from the Bus window on our ride into Milford Sound traveling through the Fiordland National Park.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Picture taken from the Bus window on our ride into Milford Sound.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Driving north from Queenstown along Lake Wakatipu towards Glenorchy, New Zealand. This area provided many of the stunning locations used in the filming of the LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBITON trilogies.


PHOTO ABOVE:  Debbie standing in Lothlorien Forest - arrows were flying through the air in some of the movies in this exact location.

PHOTO ABOVE:  This little town is Franz Joseph, located in the southern alps.  We stayed here overnight after leaving Queenstown.  Visited the Franz Joseph Glacier.

PHOTO ABOVE:  A beautiful view of the southern alps - reflecting off  the glass smooth waters of McKenzie Lake.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Just like back home.... cars backed up on the highway while a rancher moves his cattle from one pasture to another.

PHOTO ABOVE: Driving the scenic road through the southern alps we stopped and hiked into the BLUE POOLS of HAAST PASS.  Sister Perron standing on a suspension bridge.  Notice the beautiful blue water of the river running from the high peaks.  Haast Pass is one of three passes crossing over the southern alps.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Sister Perron sitting on a bench during our hike into the BLUE POOLS.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Sister Perron boarding the train in Greymouth, New Zealand to travel the trans-alpine route to Christchurch, New Zealand.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Sister Perron on the train - eating lunch in the café rail car.

PHOTO ABOVE:  Flight from Christchurch back to Auckland.  Sun setting on a great trip with the moon making an appearance in the sky!

What a beautiful country - it's people and places.
Aro ha Nui

Elder & Sister Perron







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