ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Wednesday (April 1st) - We taught our institute classes in the city institute then went to the Panmure Stake institute in the evening returning to our apartment about 10:00 PM. As we were getting ready for bed Sister Perron said, “Let me read this letter to you and get your opinion. I have been mulling this over all day.” Sister Perron read me an email from one of our daughters. The daughter had recently attended Time Out for Women and had sent her mother some notes from one of the talks given at the conference and asked her mother what she thought about the talk. This matter had apparently been bothering Sister Perron all day. When Sister Perron read the e-mail to me the material was close enough to being sound that I believed it could have been given in a talk BUT it was off base just enough that it bothered me! I said, “I need to contact someone and make sure the material presented by these speakers is reviewed and approved… if one of the sisters attending the conference took this stuff for absolute guiding principles to build upon it would not be a good thing! A couple of things in the notes were: “you do not need more than 6 hours of sleep a night.” “if you are frustrated with your husband or children go outside and scream as loud as you can releasing your tension and then go back inside and carry on.” Sister Perron and I both agreed that some young mother who is already sleep deprived – caring for a new baby and with small children – upon hearing such stuff is going will go away feeling guilty, inadequate, and wonder what is wrong with her. Then try to adopt such non-sense into their routine. Following our brief family council Sister Perron sat down and sent off a four page email to our daughter giving her better advice! You know, the stuff a good mother would write back.to a daughter who is raising two little boys. By now it is late and we go off to bed.
About 3:00 AM Elder Perron has to get up to take a tinkle. While he is tinkling he hears the iPad tinkle indicating a message has just been received. Before returning to bed he sleepily flips open the cover of the iPad and sees that our daughter has sent a message back, “Here is a copy of the real talk.” Still basically asleep Elder Perron crawls back in bed. Sister Perron stirs a bit. Elder Perron asks, “Are you awake?” “Yes.” “You just got a message from Kendra stating – ‘Here is a copy of the real talk’ – Sister Perron immediately sits up straight in bed – like she has seen a ghost – and says, “Oh no, she got me.” Elder Perron asks, “Got you what, what are you talking about, go back to sleep!?” “She got me, her notes were an April-fools-joke!” Remembering past experiences of being taken in by our daughter’s jokes we started laughing. We were now fully awake sharing stories. We finally turned out the lights; as we lay in bed we would burst out laughing time and time again. We had a ‘gut –buster-laugh’ that lasted for at least an hour in all. We woke up tired but very relaxed! Nothing better than a good laugh!
Thursday (April 2nd) - Sister Perron’s cooking class at institute has been running for a year so we are starting to recycle some of the favourite recipes. We had chicken enchiladas today. The YSA and Elder Perron like this one because you cannot find good Mexican food in New Zealand unless you cook it at home. We even had to buy some of the Ortega Chili Sauce from an American import store. They have great food here in New Zealand so we normally cook things the students can use at home but something different is a special treat every now and again.Just before leaving the institute building in the evening we sent off an email – April-fools-Joke – to our daughter Kendra. A stealth last minute joke. You see April 2nd down here is April 1st up home and while it is 6 o’clock in the evening here it is approaching mid-night up home. Sister Perron asked, “Do you think she will believe this?” I said, “Send it to all of the kids; Send it to my brother Denis, if Kendra sees a big distribution list she will have to consider it as the real thing!
After sending off the email we went to the Manukau Stake institute. On our way home we stopped and got an ice cream cone to enjoy on our drive home. Now back in our apartment we read our scriptures for a while but we were tired from being awake most of the night before so went to bed earlier than normal. About 2:00 AM our iPad tingled indicating a message had been received. It woke us up. Debbie reached over and looked! It was from Elder Perron’s brother Denis. At first we were wondering why Denis would be contacting us this time of night. Perhaps something has happened. No, he was responding to out April-fools email. He said, “Good try but I am not buying it. There are no ice cream stores where you say you are going so I know you would not accept that assignment. You guys better come up with a better story!” Debbie and I just burst out laughing! We said, “We are pathetic, we cannot even pull off an April-fools-joke! Funnier still, we had just stopped to get an ice cream cone a few hours earlier. We are predictable! We had another belly-buster of a laugh. We turned off the light, laid back down, then we would both start laughing again. Lasted for thirty minutes or more! To further put an exclamation point on our failure our granddaughter Cassie – who had just returned home from her mission – sent a sobering message, Grandpa, 2 Nephi 9:34. Love, Cassie.
Friday (April 3rd) – Good Friday – no school, the beginning of the Easter weekend! It is also the start of FALL BREAK – the same but then again the opposite of – SPRING BREAK. University is out for two weeks so there will be no institute classes.Saturday (April4th) - Went for a leisurely drive! In the late afternoon we stopped in Remuera (a suburb of Auckland) where the mission home and office was located fifty years ago when Elder Perron was here before. We had planned to eat at the Portofino’s – an Italian restaurant – but they were not open yet so we to ate dinner at St. Pier’s Sushi in Glenn Innes.
Sunday (April 5th) - General Conference in Salt Lake City. They do not hold General Conference here until next weekend because of the time difference – For example the Sunday session would be Monday down here. With that being said Sister Perron and I listened to a live feed of the Saturday sessions from Salt Lake City over the internet.
Monday (April 6th) – The Monday following Easter is called Easter Monday and is always a public holiday down here. Sister Perron and I listened to a live feed of the Sunday General Conference from Salt Lake City over the internet. Elder Kevin W. Pearson of The First Quorum of the Seventy and Pacific Area President spoke in afternoon session. Sure enough he used one of his patented phrases: “Everyday! Everyday! Everyday!” Those words are like exclamation points that draw your attention to things that are important. Let me share a very important piece of counsel he conveyed. “Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day! It’s the key to spiritual survival and avoiding deception. Without it, we are spiritually lost.”
Following the closing session of conference – which ended at 10:00 AM here – Sister Perron and I took Elder and Sister Brereton to Puihoi (small village about 40 minutes north) for lunch; drove over to Wenderholm Regional Park where we walked the beach; went to Ponsonby (Café Cézanne) for an early dinner and then went to Mission Bay and hunted sea glass on the beach. It was a great day!
For the rest of the week we went to institutes at the various stakes during the evenings. During the day we cleaned the apartment, shopped for groceries, studied future lesson and basically got prepared for a visit from Debbie’s cousin (Monte and Janice Rogers) who will be coming for a visit. Janice has worked for Delta airlines for twenty-five to thirty years so they travel all over the world on stand-by when their vacation time will allow another adventure. We coordinated their visit to correspond with our spring break.
Saturday (April 11th) - Monte and Janice arrived in Auckland in the morning. We were driving away from the airport by about 8:30 AM. We drove to our apartment to let them unpack and take a nap. They said they were fine and did not need a nap so with that being said we set off on Monte and Janice’s great New Zealand adventure. We took a ten minute drive from our apartment to Devenport sea side village. With breath taking city views, stunning beaches, boutique shopping, this historic village on the north shore is billed as a must see when visiting Auckland. Here we climbed Mt. Victoria (an extinct volcano) later walking through the shops before finding a place to eat a late lunch. Fish and Chips!
PICTURE ABOVE: Seaside village of Devenport with a beautiful view across the harbour of Auckland.
PICTURE ABOVE: We are with Monte and Janice in a small café in Devenport waiting for our Fish and Chips. Just in case anyone might wonder the brown bottle is a bottle of water.
PICTURE ABOVE: Monte and Sister Perron playing a lawn game at the waterfront in Paihia.
PICTURE ABOVE: At the wharf in Paihia, Bay Of Islands.
PICTURE ABOVE: Monte and Janice at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Bay of Islands.
PICTURE ABOVE: Sunset in Waitangi.
PICTURE ABOVE: Typical New Zealand. Green rolling hills, sheep, and ocean views. Wynua Bay from Preece Point.
PICTURE ABOVE: Lunch at Puhoi Valley Café and cheese store.
PICTURE ABOVE: Roadside beach near Kuaotuna.
PICTURE ABOVE: Sunset on the beach in Matarangi.
PICTURE ABOVE: Picture at Haruru Falls, Bay of Islands.
PICTURE ABOVE: Beach in Piha.
PICTURE ABOVE: Sister Perron has been in New Zealand so long that flashing a sign when being photographed is normal BUT her cousin Monte is looking at her with this question in his mind..."What are you doing?"
PICTURE ABOVE: Dropping Monte and Janice off at the Auckland International Airport.
Sunday (April 19th). Sister Perron and I drove to the south end of the Auckland to attend church in Papakura – which is in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission – but is part of our Institute/YSA assignment for the greater Auckland area. When we pulled into the parking lot we knew we were in trouble because there were only about five cars in the parking lot. It turned out the stake was holding the April General Conference broadcast because they had their Stake Conference on the 12th. Quickly adopting a backup plan we drove over to the Mt. Roskill Stake and attended the Blockhouse Bay ward. We had been in the Blockhouse Bay building many times but had not attended the Blockhouse Bay ward. That evening we went back to the Blockhouse Bay building to attend the Mt Roskill Stake YSA Devotional. Catherine spoke and mentioned us in her talk; she was very respectful and kind to us. A very spiritual evening!
Monday. 20th (April). We went to a family home evening in Papakura with the YSA from that Stake. Outside of institute and regional YSA activities we have not had a lot of contact with the YSA from Papakura since that stake is at the very south end of the Auckland area. It was nice to be in the home of the stake YSA advisors in a more intimate setting and get to know these young adults a little better. The lesson was about why they celebrate ANZAC day
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, however; In 1915 (World War I), Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula in the East Mediterranean to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied casualties included 21,255, an estimated 8,709 from Australia, and 2,721 from New Zealand. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home. In cities and towns a somber and almost surreal stillness reigned due to the heavy loss of life – husbands, fathers and sons.
Though the Gallipoli campaign failed to achieve its military objectives of capturing Constantinople and knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war, the actions of the Australian and New Zealand troops during the campaign left an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an "Anzac legend" became an important part of the national identity in both countries. April 25th quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
Tuesday (April 21st). We taught our usual classes during the day. In the evening we went to the Great South Road chapel in Papatoetoe where we attended the Papatoetoe, Tamaki and Otara stake Institute classes.
Wednesday (April22nd). Taught our usual classes during the day. In the evening we went to McDonald’s in Epsom for dinner. There is a Countdown (grocery store) that shares a big parking lot with McDonald’s where we went shopping for items Sister Perron needed for her upcoming cooking class. There was a very nice lady – a customer – in the store that was running all over the store trying to help Sister Perron find a custard mix she needed to use in her Trifle on Thursday. One cannot begin to explain just how kind and friendly the people in New Zealand are. Following our shopping spree we went to the Mt. Roskill Stake Institute.
Thursday (April 23rd). Sister Perron cooked Spaghetti with bread rolls and a Trifle for dessert. Her cooking class is the most popular class every week. She even has people coming in on off the street to attend her classes. There is an Oriental lady who is a non-member who is coming to Sister Perron’s class. This lady heaps her plate with food like perhaps this is her only meal of the day. The lady has started inviting her husband to come so he can eat also. He really heaps his plate. Since it is Sister Perron’s cooking class we will let her describes the situation:
“She (the oriental lady) has told her husband about the class and he shows up right at the end of class when we start eating the food we have prepared during class. They both help themselves to quite large servings and if there is anything left over – usually with YSA there is nothing left over – they wrap the left overs up in a napkin or put them on a plate and take them home. It has left me wondering what to do about them if anything. It has been a little awkward. Before this couple started coming if there were left overs the Institute kids that could not make it to class would eat them when their university classes got over. Elder Perron says “don't worry about it” so I have not said anything but it still bothers me a little. Last week I talked to the lady a little bit about taking the missionary lessons. Her English isn't real good so having a good conversation is difficult. I did get out of our conversation once that she wanted me to pray for her.so I will do that. Perhaps you need to pray for me too - to be nicer and more understanding. Her husband has no interest in the gospel.”
Friday 24th – Spent the day at the Institute building. About 4:00 PM Lataai (Lataai and Josh the young couple we baptized a few months back) sent a text message and wanted to know if we were still at the institute building and wanted to know what time we would be leaving. Sister Perron sent a message back saying, “we are usually here until 6:00 PM.” Lataai sent back a message stating that she and Joshua were headed to the city and would stop by the institute building. About 6 o’clock Lataati and Josh showed up as promised. They had been out to Waiheke Island and had just gotten off the Ferry at the Downtown Ferry Terminal and had walked to the institute building. After a short visit Lataai said, "Well we have a little something to tell you,” indicated they had been at Waiheke Island all day and then she held up her left hand with a beautiful diamond engagement ring on it!!! We are so happy for them! They always said that when they got engaged we would be the first to know. They held true to their word. How great is that! We love them, they love us! They plan on getting married in September and going to the temple in November. They have really gained a testimony of the gospel and understand the Plan of Happiness. Our hearts are full.
PICTURE ABOVE: Josh and Lataai in our office the day they were engaged.
After Josh and Lataai left Sister Perron and I went to the Mt. Roskill Stake Center where there was to be a 30 year birthday celebration for three Tongan Wards in the area. It was to start at 7 o’clock. When we arrived there were four cars in the parking lot. At about 7:30 there were only about ten cars in the parking lot. It was obvious that this party was going to start on Polynesian time. We were tired so we left stopping to get an ice cream cone on the way home. When we got home the Brereton’s came over (across the hall) and we played some board games for a couple of hours.
Saturday (April 25th). We got up early and drove to the Mt. Roskill Stake Center for a sunrise ANZAC Day memorial service held outside in the parking lot. It was much like attending a veteran’s memorial back home. It was quite touching to see their patriotism. There were speakers, music, a flag raising, bag pipes, a minute of silence, and several wreath presentations. We presented a wreath with the YSA. We saw Elder (Tyler) Perron at the memorial service. It looked like all the missionaries in the Mt. Roskill Zone were there. We enjoyed being there. They served breakfast afterwards. We grabbed a donut and hot chocolate and hurried off to catch the Ferry to Tiritiri Matangi Island.
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder Tyler Perron - front and center with the red hair - at the ANZAC Day memorial services held at Mt. Roskill Stake center.
PICTURE ABOVE: The "Sky Tower" which dominates the Auckland skyline ablaze in red, white and blue celebrating ANZAC Day!
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder and Sister Perron with Elder (Tyler) Perron and his companion as we were leaving the ANZAC Day sunrise memorial in Mt. Roskill.
Tiritiri Matangi Island is a predator free, open wildlife bird sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf about a 75 minutes Ferry fide from Auckland and 20 minutes from Gulf Harbour. We had planned to go to the island with Elder and Sister Brereton, Sister Nielson and Sister Buckner. We wanted to attend the ANZAC Day memorial service which they did not attend so we had to plan carefully and rush along to make the trip. The other members of our group caught the Ferry in downtown Auckland but Sister Perron and I left Mt Roskill, drove back through Auckland, across the bridge, past our apartment, and about 40 minutes further north to Gulf Harbour. It took the Ferry longer to cross by water from Auckland to Gulf Harbour than it took us to drive. The advantage we needed allowing us to make the trip. When the Ferry pulled in to Gulf Harbour the rest of our party was on the boat to welcome us on board. We then proceeded to Tiritiri Island where we hiked around the island with a guide who gave us tips about the best spots to see specific birds and how to identify the birdcalls we could hear. It was a very enjoyable day!
In Sister Perron’s words, “It was a pretty rushed event to get to the ferry, but I'm glad we made the effort. The island was absolutely wonderful! We had good weather, maybe our last nice weekend before the cold hits. The Island is a sanctuary for all the native birds of New Zealand. We saw so many different birds, it was great! We had a tour guide and he would point out the birds and tell us their names. I loved it! We had to pack a lunch because there is no food or drink on the Island to buy and you have to pack all the stuff back off of the island that you bring onto the island – meaning no trash containers. There were some picnic tables set up and there were bird feeding stations set up nearby so we could see birds fly in and out during our lunch. Tourists are absolutely forbidden to feed the birds. During lunch we saw so many beautiful birds – blue ones, yellow ones, spotted ones – it was really neat. The trails we walked on were so nice too. Much of it was like walking on a sidewalk through the forest. New Zealand does a lot of things right and really nice!”
PICTURE ABOVE: Ferry from Auckland and Gulf Harbour arriving at Tiritiri Matangi Island.
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder Brereton, Sister Brereton, Sister Nielson, Sister Buckner, Sister Perron, and Elder Perron on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a day of bird watching.
PICTURE ABOVE: A bird.
PICTURE ABOVE: Another bird - in center of the picture - well camouflaged. "I was busy taking pictures and missed the guided tour," says Elder Perron. "A bird is a bird if you do learn the finer details of it all.
PICTURE ABOVE: This picture is titled, "Looking for Bird."
PICTURE ABOVE: The best part of the day was people watching... like watching people stick their heads in the trees looking for birds.
PICTURE ABOVE: Sister Perron relaxing on a bench on beautiful Tiritiiri Matangi island.
PICTURE ABOVE: The light house on Tiritiri Matangi island.
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder Perron was so busy trying to find a bird to take a picture of that he fell behind the group. His companion is encouraging him to catch
PICTURE ABOVE: Taking a Ferry ride is always enjoyable! Sister Brereton and Sister Perron.
That evening we attended an engagement party for Dave and Emma, and Tom and Mary at the Takapuna chapel. It was nice to be invited but it didn't have a big attendance. They had had to change the venue at the last minute and I just don't think the word got out. It was nice to meet all of their families although we had met most of them previously. After leaving the party we stopped to put petro in the car and bumped into Elder Haleck of the Area Presidency who was filling his car up with petro. Saturday is the day we get ready for Sunday – so the song goes.
Sunday (April 26th). We visited the Redhill ward and the Papakura 1st ward In the Papakura Stake. Ngati Smith, CES Institute Director Pacific Area and First Counselor in Papakura Stake Presidency was attending the 1st Ward with his wife. It is their home ward. Also met Elder Tibbitts of the Hamilton Mission who is a cousin to our Elder Tibbitts who is an assistant to the President in the Auckland Mission . Also met Brother and Sister Armstrong who attend the Papakura 1st Ward. They served on the 2015 YSA National Conference Committee with us. He is also the director of the Self Reliance Center in New Zealand. We talked to him about Joshua who is looking for a possible new career path other than Rugby.
Monday (April 27th) ANZAC Holiday. Because ANZAC Day was on Saturday today is the Public Holiday so we had the day off. It was windy, rainy and cold all day so we just stayed home and Sister Perron baked bread and cookies.
Thursday (April 30th). Sister Perron made chocolate mint brownies – like the ones at BYU and the Lion House – for cooking class. “I had more kids in the class today than I normally ever do. I guess this is something they like.”
Well we love you all and hope all is well with you. We love the gospel. We love being here on a mission and the growth and blessings we have received. We love teaching the gospel.
The church is true. The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith was a prophet called by God to restore the gospel in these the latter-days. President Monson is a true and wonderful prophet called to lead the church today. We sustain him and we love him. I bear my witness of this to all of you. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
Elder and Sister Perron