Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Life just seems to move so fast!  We have officially gone past our one year mark now and are really on the downhill side of our mission.  We have had a lot of really special experiences and we don’t want to forget them.
The couple that lives next door to us, Elder and Sister Brereton are assigned to the Pacific Area Office where he is the Executive Secretary to the Area Presidency and she works alongside him doing whatever is needed.  The last weekend in January (January 30, 31 & February 1) was the Pacific Area Coordinating Council - meeting which consist of the Area Presidency and the Area 70’s assigned in the Pacific Area.  Sister Brereton was asked to prepare the snacks and meals for these brethren.  She asked if Debbie would like to help and of course she did!  It was really fun getting to be creative, decorating, preparing, and serving these brethren who preside over the church in the Pacific.  They are valiant servants of the Lord and it was a pleasure to feel of their Spirit and be in their presence.  Timing was of the essence to make sure the food was ready right on time for their breaks and meals.  Their days are packed to the max with meetings so being on time is very important to their overall agenda.

PICTURE: Sister Brereton and Sister Perron fixing dessert for the leaders with Elder Buckner - Director of Temporal Affairs for the Pacific Area looking on.  

Sunday we had the privilege of attending their sacrament meeting - a fast and testimony meeting - held at the Area office. During the testimony meeting Elder Tarati, Area Seventy over French Polynesia [Tahiti] shared an experience.  He told of three members of the church, a former stake president – very close friend – and a senior missionary couple serving in the Tahiti Mission who had set out for another island in a small boat on a church assignment; It was a couple hour voyage.  They had departed on a Thursday morning; by Friday morning the group had not arrived at their intended destination nor had they returned to the port from which they had departed.  There had been no communication from them.  By Friday night it was apparent that they were lost at sea.  He said he received a call Friday even informing him of the situation.  He said he immediately got on the phone to all the stake presidents in French Polynesia, instructed them to call all their bishops and asked all of the members to pray and fast for these three members.  He said they heard nothing about them all day Saturday or Sunday.  He said all of the members in French Polynesia were praying and fasting!  On Monday he got a phone call and they had been found and were safe.  He said they reported that when they set out on their trip the winds were calm and the skies were clear.  They said all of a sudden winds came up and clouds set in; their GPS stopped working; the storm got strong.  They could not see any islands – these islands he explained are mostly atolls, small flat islands with no mountains.  They did not know where they were and to continue could mean they were heading further out to sea so they turned off their motor and were driven by the winds.  They said they just read their scriptures and prayed.  On Monday they saw an airplane and shot a flair into the sky.  The plane spotted the flair and they were rescued.  It was noted that the search and rescue teams were just about to call off the search prior to finding them.  Elder Tarati tearfully testified of the power of fasting and prayer.

Elder Tarati also talked about a meeting he had with the Prime Minister of Tahiti – not a member of the church but who has been a long-time friend of his.  Elder Tarati – invited all the stake presidents in Tahiti to attend a meeting with the Prime Minister and his cabinet and other government officials.  During the meeting the Prime Minister told his cabinet members that the LDS church is the only church in Tahiti that is growing.   The rest are falling back and the economy is trending down and yet this church is trending up.  That ought to tell you something the Prime Minister told his cabinet.  Elder Tarati said his friend, the prime minister, has great respect for the LDS church.  

Following the fast and testimony meeting we were invited to join the Area Presidency and the Area Seventies for lunch.  After this special weekend with these brethren, we were on a spiritual high that just seemed to accelerate through the week.


PICTURE:  Area Presidency and Area Seventies of the Pacific Area.  Front row:  Elder O. Vincent Haleck, 1c Area Presidency; Elder Kevin W. Pearson, Area President; Elder S. Gifford Nielson, 2c Area Presidency.  Second Row: Elder O'Riordan, Main Ridge, Australia; Elder Fata, Samoa; Elder Meurs, Perth Australia; Elder Cummings, Papua New Guinea (Lives in Sydney, Australia); Elder Tarati, Tahiti; Elder Thomson, Hamilton, New Zealand; Elder Coward, Auckland, New Zealand and Cook Islands; Elder Walker, Brisbane, Australia; Elder Tukuafu, Tonga. 

 PICTURE: Elder and Sister Perron with Sister and Elder Brereton following clean-up after the meeting was over.  Elder Brereton is executive secretary to the area presidency.

We have been on the committee planning the 2015 New Zealand National Young Single Adult Conference.  As mentioned in our last blog the chairman of the committee asked Elder Perron and me if we would take on the responsibility for arranging billeting – private homes for the YSA from outside Auckland to stay in– and transportation to and from the bus station or airport.  ALSO arranging for the anticipated First Aid requirements during the conference.
The brother on the committee who originally had this responsibility is a very busy man with considerable responsibilities at work, serves on the High Council in his stake, has a family, and as a result is very hard get in touch with; On the few occasions when we were able to visit with him over the phone he assured us everything was in order and that he had handled this assignment for past conferences.  Still no details were coming forth.  The conferences was two weeks off and the reports from the committee indicated we needed billeting for 154 young adults that were coming to Auckland from all corners of New Zealand.  Finally on February 2nd (Monday) just three days before the conference we started to be inundated with emails from YSA who said they had not yet been notified of their billet arrangements.  Very concerned we made contact with the brother in charge and told him we had to have a meeting the next day (Tuesday) and go over things so we could help him pull things together.  We are out of time!  For the first time he was amenable to meeting.  We agreed to meet at the Papatoetoe Stake Center where he serves on the high council and where we had access to computers and the internet.  The purpose of the meeting was to start matching host families with young adults needing a place to stay, and then contacting both parties notifying them of the arrangements.  As it turned out he had arranged enough Host families to billet 28 out of the 154 YSA who needed billeting.  No notification had been sent to the YSA or the host families as to who and where in regards to billeting.  I looked at Elder Perron and said, “This can’t be done.  This is an overwhelming task!”   I should have been chastised with, “Oh ye of little faith.”  It seemed like an impossible undertaking!  Elder Perron suggested to our point man that he needed to get on the phone and find families who were willing to billet young single adults since we did not know enough families.  Make sure and let us know if they were willing to take female or male guests and how many they could accommodate. After a prayer Elder Perron and I went to work assigning YSA to the homes that had been arranged and sending emails to the parties involved.  By now it was 5:00 P.M.  The point man was calling everyone he knew on the phone trying to find more homes.  He would come in throughout the evening and hand us another couple of names of host families that could take three to five more youth.  We just kept matching and organizing names and calling YSA on the list to see if they still needed billeting.  I shot off an URGENT request on Facebook to our YSA stakes advisors and leaders asking if anyone would be willing to host young adults coming to the area.  Our point man left us about 7:00 PM to go to a meeting.  We thought he was coming back after his High Council meeting but he didn’t realize we were still there.  We left the church building about 11:30 P.M. because it was being locked up.  We continued working on this back in our apartment until about 2:00 AM.  We went to bed still having 70 YSA to be billeted.

PICTURE:  Sister Perron working on the billeting in our apartment.

PICTURE:  Elder and Sister Perron back working on the billeting at our command center in the Papatoetoe Stake Center.
We got up early the next morning (Wednesday, February 4th) and started checking our e-mails, Facebook messages, and phone messages looking for responses to our urgent request for families willing to billet.  After breakfast we returned to the Papatoetoe Stake Center using it as our control centre because we had access to phones, internet/WiFi which allowed us to use laptop computers as well our I-pads and I-phones.  At one point in the morning we had a host family cancel saying they would not be able to host the five young women we had assigned to their home.  We had no other homes available to put them into but almost immediately we got an email informing us that another group of five young women would not be need the billeting we had arranged for them because they would be staying with one of the girl’s relative.  One door closed and another door opened.  Perfect fit!  We simply sent an e-mail to the five girls who had lost their home – they didn’t even know they had been homeless - telling them there had been a change and gave them their new address and the name of their new host family.  Miracle number one!
We continued getting families from around the area that were responding to our call for help but the information trickled in slowly throughout the day.  We would have four female young adults from a stake on the South Island who still needed billeting and an e-mail would come in from a family stating they could take four girls.  There were nine young men from a stake that needed billeting and two homes would come in that could handle five and four.  Just so happened these two homes were within the same ward here in Auckland making transportation for all nine very simple.  This is the Lord’s work!  We marvel as we watch him “open doors.”  By late afternoon we still had thirteen young men that needed billeting.  Three of them were from one stake but the other ten were pretty much ones and twos from all over the country that had sort of been left out as we placed groups of three, four and five from the same stake.  Two of the young men on the list kept concerning Elder Perron.  One was a single registrant from the very bottom of the country (Dunedin Stake) and the other was a single registrant from the very top of the country (Kaikohe Stake) with the last name of Wihongi.  Elder Perron had known many Wihongi’s from years earlier this might be one of their descendants.  Every time we tried to place either of these two young men we would say, “No this is not the right fit.”  Now these young men were left with no place to stay!
By now it was nearing 4:00 P.M. and we were seemingly at the end of the rope.  We even joked with each other that we might have to ask the senior missionaries to take two each and house them in their spare bedrooms.  Desperation brings about desperate ideas!  We decided we needed to offer another prayer.  Soon after our prayer Sister Perron’s friend – Sister Crouch – whose home she had gone to one evening for a women’s get together mentioned in a previous blog – called her.  She was simply calling to see how Sister Perron was doing in general.  Sister Perron told her what we were doing and mentioned we still needed a few homes for the young adults to stay in.  Sister Crouch offered, “Well we could take some if it would help?”  Sister Perron asked, “That would be nice, how many could you handle.”  Sister Crouch said, “Well, we could take up to ten maximum but they would have to be young men.”  Bingo!  Another miracle!  We quickly emailed her the list of ten names who would be staying with her and sent out e-mails to the ten young men as to where they would be staying.  Not long after this one of our Young Single Adults – Bronson Burgess – called and said he could take three young men to stay in his home if that would help us.  We said, “Bronson we have three young men that still need billeting and when we have placed them we will have everyone billeted.”  He said, “Good, I will take them.”  We said, “Bronson does your parents know about this?”  “They are in Hawaii on vacation!”  Elder Perron said, “So when your parents come home they will see you have had a party in their home.  This is not a good idea.”  Bronson, “No, I called my parents and, they are okay with this!”  This experience while explained in a few paragraphs played out over a 48 hour period, indeed the Lord is mindful of all of his children and knows their needs.   We wrapped things up and finished about 9:00 pm when the last billet was made and the last e-mails had been sent out.  We got the job done!  The YSA National Conference was scheduled to start the next evening, Thursday (February 5th) at 6:00 PM.
Perhaps one of the biggest miracles related to the billeting experience came to light within the next 24 hours.  Sister Crouch – the family that had taken ten of the young men – called Sister Perron very excited and said, “Two of the young men you placed in our home have just recently received their mission calls and they are going to the same mission.  But best of all they report to the MTC in Provo on the same date.  They were so excited, they stayed up all night talking.  It turns out our young man from Dunedin – bottom of the south island – and our young man from Kaikohe – top of the north island – the two young men Elder Perron had fretted over were the two young men Sister Crouch was talking about!  Those two young men were seen together all during the YSA conference.

PICTURE:  A billeting miracle.  The two young men -  (standing) from the south island, (sitting) from the north island - were together all the time.  Here they are talking during a conference break.
Going back a couple of days – Tuesday the day we started our full court press on billeting – we received a phone call and the young single adult male representative from the Mt. Roskill 2nd Ward had died Monday evening while at Rugby practise.  He had collapsed and they were unable to revive him.  He appeared to be the specimen of fitness and health.  He was one of our leaders and obviously registered to come to the YSA conference.  To compound the tragedy Samisoni Valevale was from the same ward as Lovey, the young lady who was killed in a car accident reported in our last blog.  This ward family had lost two of their young single adults in two months.

PICTURE: Samisoni Valevale (Soni) - the Young Single Adult who collapsed and died at rugby practice.

 Back to our Young Single Adult National Conference preparation.  Thursday morning (February 6th) we went and bought the first-aid supplies that we needed to supplement the first aid kit we borrowed from the Institute building.  We went to the institute building and printed out a billet assignment list to give to the people at the National Conference registration desk - just in case anyone needed to know.   We then drove to the grocery store to get some groceries because we were hosting – billeting – a lady from Hamilton in our apartment.  Sister Ballard -. The sister we were hosting is the official history photographer for the church here in New Zealand.  She was attending the 2015 YSA New Zealand National Conference and assigned to be the historical photographer.  She turned out to be such a lovely lady with so much talent and so many stories.  After dropping the groceries off at our apartment we hurried over to the AMI NETBALL CENTER to set up the first-aid room so the fun and games could begin.  Who knew running a first aid center would be part of our mission.  We compiled a list of nurses, and EMT personnel assigned to different shifts for the entire conference.  We also had a female young single adult who is medical doctor that works at a local hospital.  She was registered and attended the YSA National Conference so we had her cell phone number and she would come to the first aid room when we needed her.  Her brother also attended the conference and is an EMT so we had great back up above and beyond the people we had scheduled.  We talked Elder and Sister Reeves – a senior missionary couple from Kangaroo Island, Australia who work in the mission office (Sister Reeve i the mission president's secretary and Brother Reeve is the mission financial manager) to attend the conference on Saturday and Sunday.  They are registered EMTs.

PICTURE:  The first string when it comes to "first aid" at the conference.  Pictured with Sister Perron is Faoa on the left.  She is a YSA who is a medical doctor and on staff of a large local hospital.  On the right is Fia who is a licensed EMT and is Faoa's brother.  They were both attendees at the conference so when we had a serious problem we would call them... they would leave the workshop they were attending.  We cannot even express what great people they are! 

PICTURE:  Elder and Sister Reeve in the yellow vests talking to Sister Ballard who is the church's official photographer here in New Zealand for special events.  Sister Ballard lives in Hamilton and billeted with Sister and Elder Perron in their apartment during the conference.  This little space - in the main lobby ASB Conference Center - was the designated "First Aid" station for the conference.

What a week – starting out on a real spiritual high being with the Area Presidency and Area Seventies in their fast and testimony meeting; then the stress of getting the billeting done, accented with so many tender mercies as we worked through that process and the week is not even over.  It is only Thursday and we have 803 Young Single Adults gathering from all over New Zealand for the 2015 New Zealand National Young Single Adult Conference.  The theme of the conference “Live True to the Faith.” The first activity of the conference was a sports / activity night at the AMI Netball Center on the Northshore.

PICTURE: Let the games begin. Some of the outdoor courts of the AMI Netball Center (netball is basically basketball without a backboard).  The indoor facilities were just as impressive including a huge snack bar. 

PICTURE:  Our first injury of the conference.  Ice pack did the job!

The conference activities revolved around these main themes.  BE THERE - BE INSPIRED – BE TRANSFORMED – BE MOVED – BE CHANGED – BE ENTERTAINED –- BE FILLED - BE EDIFIED.  From the very outset of the planning for this conference Elder Pearson, Area President gave the committee this direction: “This is to be a life changing event!”

The Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday activities included a sports evening, an opening devotional, daily workshops, service activities, a formal dance, plenty of food all weekend, a variety show, relief society and priesthood meetings, and finally a closing devotional !

PICTURE: Elder Kevin L. Pearson, member of the first quorum of the Seventy and Pacific Area President, gave a very moving address to the Young Single Adults in the opening devotional Saturday morning.  "All great endeavours begin with a vision.  Success in life requires a vision. Understanding our divine identity requires personal revelation.  All revelation begins by asking inspired questions." 

PICTURE: Lilli Anderson was the keynote speaker of the opening devotional and daily workshop presenter. Sister Anderson completed her PhD in Marriage, Family, and Human Development at BYU. She has a full-time private practice in individual, marriage and family counseling. Currently, Sister Anderson serves as the president of AMCAP, the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists. The young single adults loved her workshops that centered around Dating and courtship Demystified.

PICTURE: Daily workshop presented by Jim and Carolyn Ritchie were a hit with the young single adults.  They focused around the theme Good To Great.  "It is easy to be GOOD but to become the BEST and GREAT one must know the formula." 

PICTURE: Service Project - Feed the Need.  YSA donated and collected cans of food for the needy.

PICTURE:  Service Project - YSA assembled Hygiene Kits for the Red Cross.

PICTURE:  Sister Perron with Kaye and Kevin  Davies.  Sister Kaye Davies is the sister of Glenys Rasmussen (Bob and Glenys Rasmussen) who we served with as ordinance workers in the Idaho Boise Temple before we left for our mission in New Zealand.  Brother and Sister Davies served on the planning committee for the 2015 NATIONAL YSA CONFERENCE. They were in charge of the devotionals and all general assembly programs.  They were always up front with the dignitaries.  Here they are just helping hands with the assembly of the Hygiene Packets for the Red Cross.

PICTURE: Entertainment - Fun at the dance!

PICTURE: Sunday - Priesthood and Relief Society letting out for Dinner.

PICTURE: Lots of food all week - big event - lots of excitement - Brandon let us sit at his table.


PICTURE: This "First Aid" stuff is easy - especially when everyone is in a workshop!

PICTURE:  Everyone needs direction at one time or another.  Here we have Sister Perron doing the directing and Elder Perron is being directed.

The night of the "big dance" Elder Perron and I left the conference to attend a wedding reception for Ephraim and Emma; they were married earlier in the day at the Hamilton Temple. We would have liked to attend the wedding but we could not get away from the conference for such an extended period of time. The reception was a fun and lively Tongan/Maori wedding reception!  We returned to the conference center and the dance following the reception.
PICTURE:  Ephraim and Emma are perfect examples - poster children - for the YSA Program.  They graduated so to speak and are moving on with their lives.  No longer YSA!  
One of the greatest spiritual experiences of the conference for Elder Perron was his interaction with a young man who had special needs.  When the committee saw the medical diagnosis there was some concern as to how we could best care for the young man and allow him to have a spiritual experience.  In communication with his mother prior to the conference she expressed this concern.  “Due to the nature of his disability and other difficulties surrounding his diagnosis of Aspergers-Autism, please from day one if there is a 'go to' person or group that he could identify with just for directions or clarity on activities that would be helpful.”  Elder Perron recognized the young man’s name.  We – Elder Perron and I – had met his parents several months ago on one of our Sunday visits to one of the many wards.  We did not meet the son during the visit to the ward, but now things were coming together in Elder Perron’s mind.  This young man is a grandson of one of the families that had been so very special to Elder Perron fifty years ago.  When we left Idaho for New Zealand, Elder Perron knew that there would not be any of the heads of families still living that he had worked with in New Zealand but he said, “We will serve a mighty mission and bless the children and grandchildren – figuratively speaking – of the people that had done so much for him!  Elder Perron volunteered to be the ‘go to” guy for this young man.

The young man would stop by the first-aid area which was centrally located in a room in the central hub of the conference center.  Elder Perron would direct him to where the next workshop was located.  The young man would head off in that direction.  Elder Perron would go and check in the room later to make sure he had gotten to the room.  As the conference progressed he would stop by less often as he became comfortable with the conference center layout.  He never talked much above a whisper.  Most of the communication was simple questions and answers back and forth, never a running conversation.  When the crowds would seem to close in on him, he would turn and look out one of the large plate glass windows escaping the confusion of the crowd.  One evening at dinner in a hall of 800 he had a tough moment.  The committee member over catering noticed his anxiety and asked him what was wrong.  He said, “They have given me two deserts and I do not want them.”  She said, “We can fix that.”  She took the deserts off the table and he relaxed, the problem was over.  Mid-afternoon on Saturday he was standing next to Elder Perron during one of the breaks between workshops.  They were in the hub-area near the first aid center.  He whispered to Elder Perron – looking straight forward out the window avoiding all the confusion – and asked, “Do you have any money?”   “Yes, I have some money, do you need some money?”  “I would like a fizzy [soda pop].”   There was a snack bar in the area so Elder Perron took him over and bought him a fizzy.  Elder Perron asked him if he wanted a candy bar or some chips, perhaps some popcorn?  "No, just the fizzy.”  He wanted to keep things simple.  Knew what he wanted!
Perhaps the finest moment.  Sunday evening the concluding event of the conference was a spiritual devotional where Elder Gifford Nielson, Second Counselor in the Area Presidency and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy was our concluding speaker.  Sunday evening before the devotional there was a nice sit down dinner.  Elder Perron was scouting the dinner hall to make sure his friend was getting dinner and was comfortable.  He founding him seated at the table with Elder and Sister Gifford Nielson and other notable guests.  No one had planned it that way.  The Lord just loves the young man and it just turned out that way.  I mentioned the fact that he had dinner with Elder Nielson to his mother a few days after the conference. Seems the young man had not said anything to his family about being with a general authority for dinner.  She just said, “Heavenly father know this young man and loves him!”  We certainly agree!

PICTURE:  Our friend Niwhai enjoying a break during the conference.

On Monday, Feb. 9th, I announced this day as our P-Day and Recovery Day.  We slept in and took it easy all day!  That evening we attended family home evening at the Area office for the senior missionaries.
Evening Stake Institute classes have started up again and we have started attending them once more.  During the days we have been going into the City Institute to get it set up and get ready for classes which start the first week of March when the university students come back to school.  We also shopped and bought office supplies and staple food items to get the year started.

Evening Stake Institute classes have started up again and we have started attending them once more.  

PICTURE:  A light supper following Institute classes in the Henderson Stake.  Welcome back! 

 February 13th Friday - We spent the day at the city Institute and working on some family history.  That evening we met in the park at Pupuke Lake by the Pump House Theater for a picnic with the senior missionaries – about three blocks from our apartment.  After the picnic several of the senior missionary couples attend a Shakespeare play at the Pump House out door theatre.  Our next door neighbour - Sister Winters – was walking to the park with her husband and tripped over a broken piece of concrete and broke her wrist in the fall.  It turned out to be a pretty bad break and required plates and screws to mend.  Poor thing!
February 14th, Saturday and Valentine’s day, we caught the Ferry to Waihiki Island with Elder & Sister Brereton.  Elder Perron and I walked the outdoor sculptor trail, had lunch, and caught a bus into town where we had a delightful ice cream dish.  The Brereton’s took a zip line excursion coupled with an outdoor hike.  We all met back-up in town and then walked back to the Ferry; caught the last Ferry of the day back to Davenport. 

Waiheke Island is the home of Sculpture on the Gulf an outdoor sculpture exhibition that is free to the public.  This art exhibition runs from the middle of January to the middle of February each year inspired by its location; showcasing the artistic skills of sculptors who conceived 31 new site-specific works.

TARGET - "We are faced with many challenges in life, some more demanding than others. At times there will be frustrations at not succeeding at first, this teaches you to be resilient, to have patience and perseverance to achieve your goal."  So says the sculptor.  If you want to buy one $45,000.
STOP THE CLOCK - "This installation consisting of 3 giant kinetic dandelion seed heads seen at different moments in time, is set on an exposed headland enabling it to respond to the wind.  The seed heads are a celebration of heart and mind inspired by childhood memories of wishing on dandelion clocks to tell the time."  So says the sculptor.  Price for the set of three $85,000.  Welded steel.

Colonial Fence - a modern day tinker - "The story of wire objects begins in  seventeenth-century Slovakia, where thin strands of laminated iron forged by ironmongers were first used to repair broken pottery.  Ingenuity and innovation - instead of creating objects, wire was used to fence thousands of kilometres of farmland - 'straight lines en-masse'.  History has shown there are one hundred and one other uses for this iconic material beyond fencing."  So days the sculptor.  Price for entire piece $80,000.  Individual pieces $800 - $4,500.

The sculpture exhibits were built along a 2 mile costal trail taking about 2.5 hours to walk when you stopped to look at the exhibits. Part of the trail is shown in the picture above. Picture was taken from a vantage point along the trail.

The walk was enhanced by beautiful costal vistas.  Such vistas evidence that God's sculpturing is by far the best! 

First Step to Existentialism - "STOP. This is really important.  Have you flossed today?  Do you buy free range, organic?  In life we are faced with decisions constantly.  Some big, some small.  We are forever processing information.  How do we choose to do what we do? Is it easier to do what is expected of us?  I believe in doing the right thing whenever possible.  But sometimes it is more complicated than that.  Sometimes it is a matter of not doing the wrong thing,  Is the right thing the wrong thing?  It is a judgement call.  Sometimes that takes courage.  Don't forget who you are.  You're a fully fledged human being.
OK the light is green now, you can probably go.  But don't listen to me.  What would I know?"  So says the sculptor.  Price $5,900 per work.

My Pic Is My Bond - "Celebrity selfies are all the rage, hitting the headlines... forget the stage!  What better method to prove you were there?  Show the world? go 'viral', then loud and clear!  Bond land, sea and sky... but minus the birds, a picture, yes... worth a thousand word!"  So says the sculptor.  Price $19,500

Massive Vessel - "A depiction of a stylised boat or small craft, fabricated corten steel and stainless steel.  A reduced simplified form, loosely based on that of the dory - a common flat-bottomed, flat-sided small craft once widely used for fishing.  My intention is to play with the emotional signature of the 'vessel'... to create an object that suggests gravitas but ultimately rejects the viewer's ability to take it seriously."  So says the sculptor.  Price $65,000.

PICTURE: Sister Perron eating lunch at an outdoor café on Waiheke Island... Valentine Day! 
PICTURE: View of the main harbour - Oneroa, Waiheke Island, New Zealand - taken following lunch.  

After returning from Waihiki Island Elder Perron and I then hurried off to the Tamaki Stake Saturday evening session of Stake Conference where we were privileged to hear Elder Gifford Nielson speak.  We left there and got a sandwich at our favourite McDonalds and went to the Mt. Roskill Stake YSA Valentine’s Day dance.  At the dance we found out from Sister Kohe that our nephew, Tyler (Elder Perron the younger) had been transferred into their ward.  He has been serving up north in Dargaville and will now be serving in Mt. Roskill.  He had gone to her home and she said, “I know your Uncle!”

Feb 15th Sunday, We went to Tamaki Stake Conference.  It was a very uplifting and edifying meeting.  Elder Gifford Nielson and Sister Nielson spoke.  Elder Nielson is in the Pacific Area Presidency and a member of the first quorum of the Seventy; other speakers included President and Sister Balli - our mission president and his wife; President and Sister Going - president and matron of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and President Flavea – the Tamaki Stake President – whom we love!  They were all mighty speakers leaving us uplifted and with a determination to do better.

The following Tuesday, we had another occasion to hear from Elder and Sister Nielsen, also from President and Sister Balli.  Elder Gifford Nielson of the Pacific Area Presidency conducted a tour of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.   Once again we were on a spiritual high from the things that were said and felt.  We felt that this was indeed a tender mercy of the Lord for us, especially for me to have these spiritual uplifting experiences at this time, because we had gotten word from home that my mother was quite ill and not doing well.   I spent the next week on the phone daily with my sister getting updates on my mother’s condition.  We continued to do our daily tasks attending evening institutes.
On Thursday Feb. 19th, all of the YSA National Conference Committee members were treated to a very nice buffet dinner at an elegant restaurant to celebrate the conclusion of our successful conference.  It was so nice to meet with everyone and not have to be planning the event anymore - just relax and enjoy each other’s company!  We sat and visited with Lynn and Kaye Davies who served on the committee with us.  Kaye Davies is the sister of Glenys Rasmussen.  Glenys and Bob Rasmussen are good friends who we worked with in the Boise Idaho Temple as ordinance workers prior to our mission.  It’s a small world in the church.

On Sunday, Feb. 22nd We attended the Otara Stake Conference.  Stake Conferences give us a great opportunity to see all of the active YSA in a certain stake whereas visiting the individual wards takes us several Sundays.  It was a great stake conference.  The conference visitor was Elder Aisake Tukuafu, Area Seventy from Tonga whom we had just met at the Pacific Area Coordinating Council three weeks ago.  I need to take minute and comment on the preparation for stake conferences that we have experienced down here.  The Polynesian leaders and people do many things to bring the stake members together.  There is usually a month long preparation and almost always a week of celebrations – cultural evenings – leading up to the conference. Their music is incredible.  A few pictures will better tell the story.

PICTURE:  Cultural hall stage was decorated along with the rest of the hall with murals.

PICTURE: This was a night of cultural performances and refreshments.  Most of the couples came dressed in matching outfits. 

PICTURE: The stake YSA was one of the evenings cultural performances.

PICTURE:  Young children and mothers taking pictures of the performances.

PICTURE: Luncheon following the Sunday session of conference for the visiting authorities.  We were invited to attend by President Pulu the stake president.  Pictured: Sister and President Pulu; Elder Tukuafu, Area Seventy from Tonga who was assigned to preside over the conference; President and Sister Balli, mission president of New Zealand Auckland Mission; Sister and President Elkington, councilor in the Hamilton New Zealand Temple presidency.
Also on Sunday, Feb. 22nd all the senior missionary couples had an evening with President and Sister Balli’s at the mission home.  The guest speakers were Elder and Sister Nielsen, and we were once again fortunate to hear them speak.  President and Sister Balli called the event an “appreciation night” for senior missionaries.  It was such a nice evening - an intimate evening with a general authority and his wife topped off with elegant desserts and hors d'oeuvres.  Elder Nielsen said to me, “I bet you are getting tired of hearing us speak.”  I said, “Uh, no, I don’t think that could happen.  I get something new out of your talks each time.  I enjoy hearing you speak!”  My private thoughts were – “Are you kidding me?!  Tired of being in the presence of a general authority, enjoying their countenance, knowledge, and the spirit they radiate.  I don’t think so!”


PICTURE: President and Sister Balli - our mission president.

PICTURE: Elder Gifford Nielson - member of the Area Presidency - and his wife, Wendy.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24th, we went to a missionary meeting that Elder David A. Bednar of The Quorum of the Twelve held with all of the fulltime missionaries of the New Zealand Auckland and the New Zealand Hamilton missions.  It was held in the Redoubt Sake Center.  We got to see a lot of the missionaries we have gotten close to.  Elder Tibbitts, Elder Jorganson, Elder Perron the Younger, and Sister Smith – just to name a few.   The Spirit was very strong!  By observing Elder Bednar’s style I learned a better way to teach my students in the Institute classes allowing the Spirit to teach more abundantly.

PICTURE:  Elder Bednar, Member Quorum of The Twelve speaking to the missionaries.  Other priesthood leaders on the stand.  Far left: President Lavea, Tamaki Stake President; Elder Gifford Neilson,  1c Area Presidency; Brother Reid, Counselor in Auckland Mission Presidency; Elder Bednar; President Martin, Harboour Stake President; President Broederlow, Papatoetoe Stake President. 


PICTURE:  Missionaries assemble to listen to Elder Bednar, Member of the Quorum of The Twelve at the Redoubt Stake Center.  Elder Tyler Perron is seated on the far left, three rows from the front in the center of the row.  His red hair will make him east to spot.

Let me note here that Elder Bednar and Elder Lynn G. Robbins one of the Presidents of the Seventy visited the Church’s Pacific Area February 18 through March 1st.  What a blessing to the members and the missionaries in New Zealand.

 On Wednesday. February 25th, Elder Perron and I went to the Mt. Roskill Stake Center where Elder Lynn G. Robbins, of the Presidency of the Seventy, held a devotional for all of the Young Single Adults in the Auckland Area.  Just as we pulled into the parking lot of the stake center I received a phone call from my daughter, Jade, informing me that my mother had passed away.

 This past week has been a very sensitive time for me as I received daily phone updates about my mother who was failing fast.  This was a sad time, a heart wrenching time, and I might add a spiritual time also.  During the week I received many personal revelations and was probably more open to the whisperings of the Spirit than at other times.  I knew each day my mother was getting closer to going to the other side of the veil.  I felt that the Lord was showing tender mercies to me by giving me these gigantic spiritual experiences.  It was still a hard moment for me even though I knew it would be coming!

 Now that I have had time to contemplate on the situation I saw many tender mercies given to my mother, my family, and to me here in the mission field during that last week.  Elder Perron had been trying to get me to write a letter to my family about my feelings, and about my decision to stay here during this time.  I had been putting it off!  Finally I was sitting here reading emails from my sister about Mom’s condition and all of a sudden, I decided I was going to write that letter.  I was actually writing the letter about my memories of Mother to my family at the very time of her passing.   I do not find that coincidental that my deepest expressions of love to her were at that time.  My sisters and brothers were all very attentive to mother during her last days and hours, and were there for my Dad during this time of grief.  I am truly thankful for the knowledge of eternal families and the Plan of Salvation.

 On another note, I can also see why sometimes genealogy may get mixed up.  I am in New Zealand functioning on New Zealand time.  To my family back home she passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 24th, at 9:00 PM.  It was on Wednesday, February 25th, at 5:00 PM here in New Zealand when mother passed away.  Just depends where you live and who is keeping the records.

PICTURE:  A recent picture of Debbie's mother who passed away. 

PICTURE:  A bouquet of flowers sent to Sister Perron with a note:  "Brother & Sister Perron, Our prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.  Thanks for all that you do for us!  Love Always, Otara Stake YSA." 

The following day, I was feeling a little blue, so my dear attentive husband and I just took things easy.  We still went into the City Institute around 11 AM.  University is still not up and going full swing yet following summer break.  The students start back to class March 2nd although we have had some students coming into the institute building during orientation week.  After being in the Institute for a couple of hours we went to lunch, did a little shopping, and then walked back through Mt. Albert park where there is a Chinese New Year celebration going on.  It was a spectacular sight!   All of the Chinese lanterns.  We took pictures and then walked back up with Bob – Ding Pengbo – the co-chairman of our student council when it got dark.  All the lanterns were lit up!   There are approximately 150,000 Chinese people residing in Auckland, NZ.  A strong influence of the Asian culture here.  It was fun to be there with Bob.  He said it made him homesick!


PICTURE: Sister Perron standing beside Bob at the festival.  Bob is co-chairman of our Institute Student Council.  Albert Park where the festival takes place is a five minute walk from the institute building.


PICTURE:  At the conclusion of the Chinese New Year their is a fireworks display that emanates from the Sky Tower which dominates the Auckland skyline. 

Saturday I took dinner to our sweet neighbours, Sister and Elder Winters.  She has just had surgery on her wrist which she broke when fell was walking our senior picnic in the park mentioned earlier in this blog.  She is healing and mending well!

This concludes this blog.  This has been one of my favourite months in the mission field.  Many tender mercies and many spiritual experiences!

 Aroha Nui,

Elder & Sister Perron






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