Tuesday, June 16, 2015


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.”


PICTURES ABOVE:  Sister Perron's cooking class.

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: 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

Aroha Nui,

Elder and Sister Perron

Thursday, June 4, 2015


What a blessing the past summer has been.  Being with the Young Single Adults in Sunday school classes, temple trips, beach parties, dances, service projects, and the 2015 YSA National Conference made for a busy summer.  Young Single Adult activities never seem to end when you are involved with 12 stakes and 83 wards.  (Summer = no school = no institute classes = more activities.)
“To everything there is a season…”  The stake institute classes started again February 10th and the Universities started back March 2nd.

PICTURE ABOVE:  A picture at sunset taken from the balcony of our apartment.  The end of summer.  School is back.

 Sister Perron baked some cinnamon rolls for the students to have as they wandered in and out of the institute building throughout orientation week (February 23-27).  Institute classes at the Universities started on Monday March 2nd.  Elder and Sister Perron are teaching 6 institute classes this semester.  Elder Perron teaches Missionary Preparation, The Gospel and the Productive Life, and Introduction to Family History.  Sister Perron teaches Eternal Marriage, Institute Choir /Hymn Appreciation, and of course her famous Cooking Class.  Our schedule is pretty much as follows.  Since the weekends are very busy for us attending YSA activities and attending multiple wards on Sunday – to be with the YSA in church – we do not teach any classes on Monday.  Monday morning on our way into the Institute building we go by the grocery store and buy 10 quarts of milk, 5 loaves of bread, 10 packets of instant noodles, milo (a form of hot chocolate almost), peanut-butter, and jelly.  We place this in the snack room for the students to use during the week.  We then teach our classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Sister Perron holds her cooking class on Thursday so we make another trip to the grocery store Wednesday night following our evening institute visits to the stakes to buy the necessary ingredients for her class.  Friday there is no institute classes but we are in the institute building all day supervising the institute, hanging out with the students, and usually we have some kind of activity going on for those who wish to attend.  The Institute building is a social center, good place for the university students to study, and a place for gospel learning.  We usually leave the building between 6:00 / 6:30 PM.  Since we attend stake institutes every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night getting home between 9:30 and 10:30 PM.  Our apartment is basically just a place to sleep.  We eat out most of the time except for breakfast and snacks when we return home late at night. 

“To everything there is a season…”  Welcome back!!  The first week of March at the institute building was a festival of activities.  Monday, Sister Perron Baked Cinnamon rolls again.  Tuesday, Elder Perron cooked pancakes all day to go with the ice cream and toppings (the only way to eat pancakes is with ice cream!  (A new-found-truth revealed because of faithful missionary service!)   Lest we forget Tuesday was Elder Perron’s birthday.  That morning Sister Elly Edwards, institute director and teacher made him a cake.   Elder Perron stepped out of the office for a minute and we gathered all the students into the office.  When Elder Perron stepped back in the room was full of students singing “Happy Birthday!”  Sister Edwards walking in with the birthday cake with candles burning.  It was fun to see the surprise on his face.  Most the students signed a birthday card for him with sweet sentiments.  And sweet Loni brought him a container full of Rocher’s chocolates and a card.  Then again that evening we shared 100 cupcakes with the institute students from the Papatoetoe, Tamaki and Otara stakes.  I was trying to be sneaky and plan a surprise party for Elder Perron following institute but he saw an email that was sent to me regarding the baking of cupcakes.  It was still a great celebration.  100 students sang “Happy Birthday” again, as he stood up and led them like a chorister.  It was funny!  He has another birthday cards signed by most the students from Papatoetoe, Tamaki and Otara.  It was a sweet and memorable day for all of us.  The students were too kind to him.  Wednesday, Sister Perron served Sloppy Joes for two hours mid-day.  Oh yes!  It was Elder Perron’s birthday back in the states so there was another day of “happy birthday” messages flooding in from family and friends.  Elder Perron celebrated his birthday for two days.  Elder Perron “highly recommends this extra-ordinary celebration and suggests any and all readers might want to consider getting into the mission field as soon as possible – DO NOT MISS OUT ON THE EXCITEMENT!”  Thursday, Sister Perron baked about seven-dozen chocolate chip cookies.  Today was my mother’s funeral back in the states (Wednesday - March 4th in Gooding, Idaho).  The day was full of calls from our children followed with Facebook pictures of family members that had been at the funeral.  I was able to talk to my sister and my dad!  It was a very touching day even though I was thousands of miles away.  My heart and prayers are especially with my Dad at this time of sorrow as he journeys the rest of life without his beloved wife at his side.  I was told it was a particularly rough day for him.

Friday, the students attended a devotional followed with a Pizza party.  This week of excitement was simply the exclamation marks to punctuate the 16 different Institute classes that had been taught throughout the week and will be continuing through the semester:  Doctrines of the Gospel; Book of Mormon 1; Book of Mormon 2; Doctrine & Covenants 1; Doctrine & Covenants 2; Music; Mission Preparation; Eternal Marriage; Devotional Series; The Pearl of Great Price; Teachings of The Living Prophets; The Gospel and The Productive Life; Old Testament 2, New Testament 2, Cooking Class; and Introduction To Family History.

PICTURE ABOVE:  Sister Perron in our apartment preparing one of her institute classes. 

PICTURE ABOVE:  Elder Perron and his birthday cake in the office of the institute building.  Sister Perron is behind the camera taking the picture.  Such a sweet loving companion.

PICTURE ABOVE:  Another birthday celebration following institute at the Papatoetoe, Tamaki and Otara stakes.  Elder Perron says after you reach a certain age they celebrate your birthday twice a day just so you can remember it is your birthday.  A new procedure to improve short term memory.

PICTURE ABOVE: Debbie’s father - Bob Rogers - getting a hug from his granddaughter Kendra with his great grandson Dean looking on.  This was at the funeral in Gooding, Idaho.  It was a tough time for Dad.  In the background is Bob's sister Darlene Rogers Bartlome. 

Since our nephew – Elder Perron the younger – has been transferred from the northland (Dargaville) down into the Auckland area (Epsom) we bump into him once in a while when we are out and about.  We called him the other day and offered to take him and his companion to dinner.  He wanted to know if he could bring his Zone Leaders to dinner also; seems four elders were housed in the same apartment.  One of his Zone Leaders – Elder Jorgenson – had previously spent quite a bit of time serving in downtown Auckland so he and his companion used a room at the Institute building to teach four different investigators; three of which were baptized.  Elder Perron and I got to sit in on a lot of those discussions and take part so we became very close to him and his companion.  It was great to have dinner with him and Tyler.  They of course chose an upscale Mongolian Buffet Restaurant.  It was very good!  Those young men can put away the food!   I’m sure we got our money’s worth. 

Friday, March 6th – Sister Balli – the Mission President’s wife – put on a women’s conference for all sister missionaries – young and old – serving in the Auckland area. The theme was, “What Manner of Woman Ought Ye to be?” President and Sister Balli spoke to us in the morning and presented a slide show.  It was a lot of fun!  Each district put on skits teaching some gospel principle.  They were fun, humorous, and taught a lesson.  While the skits were going on, President Balli, Elder Tibbitts, and Elder Smith – Assistants to the President – were busy in the kitchen helping the caterer chop up fruit, vegetables and chicken and fixing salads for the sisters.  I went back there and they were working their little hearts out helping prepare the meal.  I was really impressed!  We had chicken wraps, salads, fresh cut up fruit, and dessert.  Elder Tibbitts is also related – the nephew of our daughters husband.  After lunch the sisters were doing a craft so Sister Wallace, Sister Fugal, and I – senior missionaries - left early making a quick stop to buy a few things at the American Food Store on our way back to our mission assignments.  Sister Wallace drove us to the conference so she drove through downtown Auckland for the first time as she dropped me off at the Institute.  It was quite nerve wracking for her.  When we got to the Institute Building she said, “Just get out!  Get out!”  Later we laughed about that so hard, because it came out way different than what she meant.

On Saturday (March 7th) we had a Regional YSA Devotional with Elder Allan F.Packer of the First Quorum of the Seventy who is visiting the Pacific Area.  One of Elder Packer’s responsibilities at church headquarters is over the Family History Department.  The theme of the devotional was “Igniting Interest in Family History.”  The challenge to those in attendance was to finish their “15 in 15”.  Which is to finish their four generation group sheet this year and take family names to the temple.  We have been blessed with visits from General Authorities all of a sudden.

ABOVE PICTURE: Elder Allan F. Packer shaking hands with some of the YSA at the Mt. Roskill Stake Center just prior to the devotional. 

 That day we also visited with Billa, the young single adult from Tonga that had served his mission in Idaho Boise Mission.  We have mentioned him in previous blogs.  He was very happy to see us but seemed extremely stressed.  Elder Perron took him aside and asked him what was wrong.  He was worried because the family he was living with did not want him to continue in his education.  Remember he has just received a scholarship!  In addition the family (his extended grandfather) would only allowed him to attend one church meeting a week.  He had received one hiding because he had disobeyed.  This limit on church attendance meant no more Institute or YSA activities.  He is the Stake YSA male rep and so this was limiting his ability to fulfil his calling.  He was quite upset.  Said he needed to find a new place to live.  Elder Perron asked him if he had talked to his Bishop.  “No, I am too shy and embarrassed!”  Elder Perron saw his stake president at the meeting and told him of the situation and followed up with the stake president by email giving the stake president a quick summary of the situation along with Billa’s name and ward. The stake president emailed back that he had forwarded the information to his bishop and told him to meet with him during the week.  Next time we saw Billa – a few weeks later – he was bright, enthusiastic, and cheerful.  The bishop had helped him find a new place to stay.  He is a testimony to us that when you are obedient to God’s commandments and diligent in serving in every way you can, the Lord is aware of your needs and blesses you.  We have seen miracle after miracle in Billa’s life.  He is so faithful and diligent!

Monday 9th Was at the institute building as usual but in the evening we attended Family Home Evening with the senior missionaries at the Area Office.

March 13th Friday . Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu as the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane and is likely the most destructive disasters in Vanuatu's history.  Vanuatu is an archipelago nation consisting of 83 islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, north of New Zealand and east of Australia.  More than 6,000 Latter-day Saints and 31 congregations live in Vanuatu, spread among the 65 inhabited islands.  There are 250,000 people who live in Vanuatu.  The first reports out of Vanuatu were of total disaster.

Early reports from Church leaders in Fiji and Tuvalu confirmed that all missionaries in the Fiji Suva Mission were accounted for and safe.  All the missionaries in the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia areas were also safe.

In the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission – which took the direct hit from the cyclone – all missionaries were accounted for and safe except for 11 elders serving on the island of Tanna with which no contact had yet been made.  President Brewer – mission president indicated that all missionaries were notified before the cyclone arrived and moved to the safest location in each respective island.

Let me here paraphrase a report that I heard from some of the senior missionaries serving in the area office discussing a report from President Brewer, mission president in Vanuatu:

 Initially all the cell towers were down and out all through Vanuatu so there was no communication.  We did have a satellite phone in the mission office but it was tough getting through at times.  After about two days we were able to talk more easily and account for all missionaries on the island of Elfate; where the mission home is located. Soon there after we had accounted for all the missionaries except for 11 missionaries located on the island of Tanna.  After about four days we were very concerned about those elders.  There were no communications of any kind coming from Tanna and we could not fly in yet.. President Brewer would try calling the elders cell phone several times a day but no answer there was no answer.  You can imagine the anxiety of the mission president and the church leaders.

On the fourth day the president called the zone leaders cell phone again.  The zone leaders answered and reported that the missionaries were safe and accounted for.  The phone call lasted about 15 seconds.

President Brewer was in town – Port Vila the capital city – so he stopped by the stopped by the cell phone company to thank them for getting the cell phone towers up in Tanna.  They said, “We have not been able to communicate with Tanna and we have no cell phone towers up in Tanna.  We have not been able to get any of our people out to Tanna.  President Brewer told them he had just communicated with his Elders on Tanna via cell phone.  They said, “there is no way.”  President said, “I know the Elders phone number, it was their cell phone that I called.”  No one could explain what had happened.  Then someone noticed President Brewer’s black name badge and commented.  “You can call it whatever you would like, insinuating a miracle.”

Several days later the Church chartered a small plane and flew from Port Vila to Tanna.  There were two missionaries on board with food and other supplies to give much needed relief to those suffering from the effects of Cyclone Pam. The plane was also be used to bring the 11 missionaries on Tanna back to Port Vila.

A NOTE OF INTREST:  Several weeks after the Cyclone passed through Vanuatu I had a young single adult who is a regular attendee at institute come into our office.  He introduced another university student to us.  The student was from Vanuatu, member of the church, studying at the University here in Auckland as an exchange student.  He did not know there was an institute building.  I asked him if he had been in Vanuatu when the cyclone hit.  “No I was here in Auckland” but he said, “all of the people – member and non-member – sought shelter in our church buildings because they were virtually the only buildings of concrete construction.  My family is all safe!”  Many Church members and others lost their homes and are sheltering in Latter-day Saint meetinghouses.

PICTURE ABOVE:  Computer enhanced image of Cyclone Pam passing over Vanuatu with Fiji and New Caledonia being sweep by the outer edged of the storm.  Australia is off to the left and the North Island of New Zealand is in the bottom center of the of the picture. 

PICTURE ABOVE AND BELOW:  Some of the first images coming in from Vanuatu

PICTURE ABOVE: Young Single Adults and missionaries in New Zealand assembling emergency relief packets to be shipped to Vanuatu.  Elder Tyler Perron is in the middle of this picture at the far end of the table.  You will notice him by his red hair. 

On Sunday the 15th Elder Perron and I attended a Sunday evening cottage meeting for the Young Single Adults in the Waterview Stake.  The evening consisted of a general opening session; the attendees were then divided into four groups; the groups then rotated through four different presentations located at different rooms in the building; presentations lasted twenty minutes each; there was a closing session and then a light supper in the cultural hall.  The four area of focus was self-reliance, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.  Elder Perron and I were located in the chapel; our presentation was on “Spiritual Well Being.”  To make a difference in twenty minutes we focused on a statement of President Gordon B. Hinckley: “

“I have had the feeling that if we could just encourage our people to live by three or four covenants everything else would take care of itself. …

The first of these is the covenant of the sacrament, in which we take upon ourselves the name of the Savior and agree to keep His commandments with the promise in His covenant that He will bless us with His spirit. …

Second, the covenant of tithing. … The promise … is that He will stay the destroyer and open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings that there will not be room enough to receive them. …

Three, the covenants of the temple: Sacrifice, the willingness to sacrifice for this the Lord’s work—and inherent in that law of sacrifice is the very essence of the Atonement. … Consecration, which is associated with it, a willingness to give everything, if need be, to help in the on-rolling of this great work. And a covenant of love and loyalty one to another in the bonds of marriage, fidelity, chastity, morality.

If our people could only learn to live by these covenants, everything else would take care of itself, I am satisfied.”
The quarterly Young Single Adult Regional activity – involving the twelve stakes in Auckland – was held Saturday and Sunday March 21st and 22nd  Saturday was a sports day involving track and field competitions.  Once again Elder Perron and I were asked to bring our first-aid-kit and skills.  We only had one injury.  Irae – a young single adult from the Henderson Stake pulled a hamstring in the 100 meter dash.  Elder Perron had ice on it and wrapped before you could bat an eye.  He looked like he knew what he was doing.  Quite impressive!  Who ever thought that first aid would be even a portion of our mission?  It was a fun day hanging out with and watching the YSA compete in all sorts of events from the high jump, touch rugby, 100, 200 and 400 meter sprints, gunnysack races and a tug of war.  And only one accident!  Whoo hoo!   It was a beautiful day weather wise also – no rain and not too hot.


PICTURE ABOVE:  Elder and Sister Perron manning their "first aid" station at the Regional YSA activity.  Nice day sitting under a canopy with a gentle breeze keeping us comfortable.  We got their early - just waiting for SOMETHING to happen.

On Sunday at the Regional YSA Devotional, Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Pacific Area President spoke.  Elder Pearson announced that they will be creating two YSA Wards in Auckland.  One in the South Auckland and one in North Auckland. YSA from the Papakura, Manurewa, Redoubt, Manukau, Papatoetoe, Otara and Tamaki stake will combine to create the Auckland YSA 1st Ward and be a unit in the Manukau Stake.  The YSA from the Harbour, Waterview, Henderson, Mt. Roskill, and Panmure stakes will combine to create the Auckland YSA 2nd Ward and be a unit in the Harbour Stake.  The YSA are free to choose if they want to move their records to the YSA wards or remain in their existing conventional wards. There is quite a bit of excitement and a lot of mixed emotions among the YSA.  Many have callings they love in their home wards and do not want to leave.  Others are worried about the travel and cost because it will take them 35 to 40 minutes one way to get to their new ward.  I think it is wonderful and I hope the YSA will give it a chance.  The YSA Wards will be organized Sunday May 3, 2015.

Earlier that day we attended a meeting called by Elder Coward, our Area Seventy, to discuss weekday parking problems at the Scotia Place Chapel.  Attending the meeting was the Waterview Stake President, the agent bishop of the Scotia Place Chapel, the director of the Family Services Center – which is located beside the chapel – and the regional physical facilities representative and Elder Perron and I were representing the Institute which is located about four blocks from the building.  Since the Scotia Place chapel in a two story structure with VERY limited parking with hotels and apartments all around it – everyone is trying to park there.  Not just members but hotel guests, apartment dwellers, anyone needed a parking place and seeing an open space, church members working downtown, university students, institute students.  Parking is very tough to find in downtown Auckland.  The local church authorities in consultation with the regional physical facilities representative put a vehicle towing policy in place.  As a result some YSA iuniversity/institute students had their cars towed and it cost them $300 to get their cars out of impound.  The Area Seventy did not like the towing policy so he called the meeting.  It is a difficult problem but I am sure there will be a solution.

Most exciting – the weekend of March 21st seemed to be the weekend of proposals, engagements, and announcements.  It was so fun because I received a Facebook private message from Tom that he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him that weekend.  Then his twin brother, Dave, passed through our office and told us he was going to ask Emma to marry him on Saturday.  I was so excited!!  I see Emma every day and visit with her and it was all I could do to contain my excitement!   Sure enough they came through with fabulous, exciting, proposals and I got to hear first-hand from Emma.  When we walked through the institute doors on Monday she was waiting in our office for us to tell us exactly how it had happened and show us her beautiful diamond clad finger!  Then later on Monday, Michael Vea announced his engagement however he had told me the week before that he was going to ask his girlfriend when we were in our New Testament institute class.  He shared with me a spiritual experience that had just happened and he had the strong impression that she was the one and he was not to waste any more time but was to ask her to marry him.   And then Wednesday at Manukau Institute Manu came up and said, “I asked Hannah to marry me this past Monday and she said, Yes!”   We could not be happier for these couples.   We have been watching them and hoping this would transpire!  We are like two of the happiest “Grand-Perron’s” there are!!

Monday 23rd.  Sister Perron and Sister Wallace drove up to their hairdresser together.  She lives about 45 minutes north along the Hibiscus coast.  Her shop is in her home.  The Sisters only got part of the day off - they were both back at their assigned posts in the afternoon.

PICTURE ABOVE:  Sister Perron is preparing an evening meal in our apartment.  Elder Perron  is just relaxing - but he bears testimony that having a great companion is one of the best parts of a mission.
PICTURE ABOVE:  Sister Perron is working on a project.  Elder Perron is still relaxing - however he says taking these pictures does contribute to our Family History.

On Friday the 27th we travelled to Hamilton to attend the temple with Kaiwhia – a YSA from the Tamaki Stake – as she was taking out her endowments.  Her father died a few years ago and Friday would have been his birthday and so she took out her endowments on his birthday.  What a sweet sentimental thing to do.  It was a special day for us to be there with her. 

Friday evening after returning from the temple we went to the Saineha ward – a Tongan speaking ward – where they were celebrating the wards 30th year anniversary.  This was the first Tongan Ward in New Zealand.  The Young Single Adults – and many others – were preforming cultural dances.  Thus our invitation.  What a celebration!!   When the Tongans put on an event they go all out!   Loni invited us because she wanted us to be there and to watch her perform.  The colourful costumes, the decorations, the hospitality, the feast.  I have never seen such a celebration!   What a delightful experience.   We were sitting on the chairs along the sides of the cultural hall happily taking it all in, when they came and invited us to sit at the head table that was all decorated, and piled high with food and four or five roasted pigs lining the table.  We tried to decline but I could tell we were upsetting them and so we sat at the table like a king and queen.  I cannot tell you how much I love these cultural events and celebrations.   They are truly a delight.  The people are not inhibited, they dance, they sing, they laugh, they perform, and they are cheerful and happy as can be!  They are beautiful!

PICTURES ABOVE AND BELOW: Saineha 1st Ward (Tongan Ward) birthday celebration!

PICTURES ABOVE AND BELOW:  There was - and always is - plenty of food at a Tongan celebration.

PICTURE ABOVE:  Elder and Sister Perron were treated with great respect and shown an abundance of love from these great saints! 

PICTURES ABOVE AND BELOW: Everyone participated in the celebration.

PICTURE ABOVE:  Loni - third from the left - invited us to come watch her group preform.  Loni is a member of our student council at the university institute.
Saturday 29th  We hosted the Massey Ward YSA party at the Institute Building.  These kids keep us young at heart!

 Sunday we went to a YSA cottage evening at the Papatoetoe Stake.  The YSA had spent the weekend doing service work at the Auckland Botanical Gardens.  We were not at their service project.  However the culmination of the weekend was a nice devotional with get to know you games and great spiritual talks by Bishop Leuluai of the Papatoetoe 1st ward and two returned missionaries.

Aroha Nui,

Elder & Sister Perron