FINDING JOY IN SERVICE
June 1st (Monday). Today is a national holiday – the Queen’s Birthday! It is not her actual birthday but this is the designated day set aside to honour her. Four of us senior missionary couples – Perron, Brereton, Wallace, and Fugal – took advantage of the holiday to travel north to the Puhoi Café and Cheese Factory for lunch and then to travel south to visit the Wood Carver.
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder and Sister Brereton, Elder and Sister Fugal, Elder and Sister Perron, Elder and Sister Wallace.
PICTURE ABOVE: The drive to Puhoi is beautiful and the food is good. When no one knows where to go we all settle on Puhoi.
PICTURE ABOVE: The shop in the "wood carvers" home. Always a pleasant visit!
PICTURE ABOVE: Sister Fugal was buying a nativity set so they had them set out changing the pieces around to decide which was most loved.
June 3rd (Wednesday). This is the last week of Institute classes before semester break. We therefore planned and held a special devotional – Brother Hans Sorenson was our guest speaker – following Sister Perron served freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. We will talk about Hans Sorenson a little later.
In 1975 the church bought the institute building in Auckland and it was dedicated in 1977 by Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve. The location of this building is a miracle in itself. It is located a couple of blocks from the University of Auckland which was established in 1883 and now has 41,000 students. The Technical Institute referred to below was a small building across the street from the institute building at the time. That small Institute was founded in 1885 and in the year 2000 was granted university status and changed its name to Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and now has 27,300 students. The road that used to run in front of the institute is gone. AUT has grown up around the institute building and beyond. The campuses of AUT and Auckland University blend together. The institute building is a three story building that sits in the middle of this high rise complex of universities where combined there are 68,300 students registered. We are located in the very heart of downtown Auckland just a two blocks off Queen Street.Following is a short summary of Elder Haight’s address and dedication of the building:
"We are glad for this building and that they found it the way they did… I know that things like this do not come about accidentally any more than any of the other miraculous things that we see taking place in the world… Talking about how they were able to find this building, I thought of an Institute I dedicated in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the only building that was near the campus that we could acquire was a fine Church building, of a Church that now has gone out of business, and also in that building was a pipe organ that cost some $100,000. One of the finest pipe organs I’ve ever seen and it was part of the building, and we bought the ground, and the building and the pipe organ for about $75,000, because that Church had gone broke. But when that Church was built, carved in the stone out on the corner of that building, as I went into it and looked it over, and looked and saw that stone, it had carved in stone, “FOR THE TEACHING OF THE TRUTH”. I don’t know who thought of the words, but as I stood and looked at it and we were about to dedicate it, and it would become part of our Institute, I thought someone did not know at the time that that stone was carved, that this would be part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and would be part of the teaching. We are grateful that we have [Institutes] at many of our great Universities all over the world and we are grateful that we have one here in Auckland now.""[Acquiring this building] was not accidental. We needed to find a location near this University and near the Technical Institute. Why? So that our young men and women who are University students and who are out to find and to achieve higher education could come here and receive training, that I would tell them is far more important than what they would receive at the University or at the Technical Institute. The world would not recognize it as such, but we know that it is... It is important for us to have a facility here so the students can come here and pray, and they can come here and be taught the words of God, in this facility… the young people who will be the future Bishops, and Stake Presidents, and Regional Representatives, and those who will be wives of leaders, and those who will raise their families in righteousness, will grow up receiving their secular education and at the same time furthering their education in understanding the words of God.”
Now back to Hans Sorenson our devotional speaker. This institute building was dedicated in 1977. Hons was a student of the Institute class of 1978 while attending the University of Auckland studying law. Hans graduated from the University and from Institute. He went on to become a successful lawyer owning his own firm. He has served as a bishop, stake president and area seventy in the church. After twenty years he retired as an attorney and now works for the church in the Pacific Area office in charge of welfare services area wide. Brother Hans Sorenson is a fulfilment of Elder David B. Haight’s statement outlined in bold letters above. Brother Sorenson mentioned in his presentation that while he was serving as Stake President here in Auckland that most all of the other stake presidents in Auckland at that time were also members of that 1978 institute group of students. The students really enjoyed the devotional.
PICTURE ABOVE: Looking out of the second floor window of the institute building at students a small mall area of the university. In 1975 when the building was purchased that was a street with a small building on the other side of the street that housed the technical institute. What a miracle to have this building right in the middle of the university complex.
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder Hans Sorenson the guest speaker at our devotional. Brother Sorenson was a student at this institute in 1977, went onto become a very successful attorney, bishop, stake president and area seventy. Rose is at the keyboard and Latu is leading the congregation in the opening hymn.
Thursday (June 4th). We are introducing a new weekly segment to the blog. Sister Perron what is on the stove for cooking class? “Minestrone soup and corn bread with honey butter!”
Friday (June 5th). Today was the last day of Institute classes at the university for 6 weeks. The next two weeks are finals at the university so there will be kids around the institute from early morning until late at night studying for their tests. We will be in the building for these two weeks keeping the place stocked with Milo and milk. The student council planned a mid-day mid-week break for the week of June 15th – NBA FINALS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME on the big screen TV with PIZZA. The big day will be determined by how the finals play out but we know it will be that week. Basketball is a big thing down here. Following the week of June 15th the institute building will be closed for four weeks. The stake institutes in the evening will still be running. They are on a different schedule.We attended a social event – party – at the new YSA 1st Ward in the evening on Wednesday
PICTURE ABOVE: One of the first ward parties for the new YSA 1st Ward. Elder Perron front and center talking with his hands. Sister Perron is the blonde clear across the hall in the center of the picture serving hot chocolate - you can only see her head.
Saturday (June 6th). Elder L. Tom Perry’s funeral was broadcast over the LDS websites. We watched the funeral services and then went into the institute to prepare for a meeting with the new YSA 2nd Ward Bishopric tomorrow.June 7th (Sunday). Went to our meeting with the YSA 2nd Ward Bishopric. We then went south to attend the YSA 1st Ward. Elder Perron bore his testimony in sacrament meeting – this being fast Sunday. These YSA are coming together from seven stakes for this ward so they do not really know each other that well. In priesthood opening exercises Elder Perron sat by a young man he did not know. In visiting with him he learned that the young man was a recent convert to the church. His girlfriend had moved her records into the YSA ward but he was hesitant because he felt his English was not good enough but his girlfriend assured him he would do well in the ward so as he said, “I moved my records into the ward and this is my first Sunday attending the ward.” During opening exercises Elder Perron stood up and introduced the young man and told the returned missionaries and the Elder’s Quorum presidency to introduce themselves to the young man and make sure he is friend-shipped into the ward. Elder Perron chuckled about this on the way home. He said, “I doubt if half the brethren in there knew each other so this young man is better off than most of the others because they all know his name and about all of them came up to greet him.”
June 8th (Monday). There we lots of students in the institute building today but they were sequestered away studying. FINALS seem to get their attention. Not much interaction.
Wednesday (June 10th). We attended the Panmure Stake Institute in the evening. Traditionally Sister Perron and I attend different classes. I usually go to the Mission Preparation class and she goes to the Eternal Marriage Class. Or she goes to the Book of Mormon class and I go the Doctrine and Covenants class. On this evening she attended the Book of Mormon class. During the Book of Mormon class one of our great young single adults – Conway – shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it had changed his life. Conway grew up here in New Zealand in a rural area of the country. He said he was illiterate – could not read at the age sixteen. Sister Perron asked him why he had not learned to read. He said he had missed a lot of school when he was young. Why did you miss so much school? Lots of reasons. If I was tired I would not go to school. If it was cold outside I would not go to school. If I wanted to go swimming I went swimming and missed school. When I did go to school the teachers would tell me not to come back. They said you are just wasting our time. You ought to just go find a job! My family was dysfunctional in many ways. I pretty much did what I wanted. Then at 16 I started talking to the missionaries. I could not read so they would come over and read the Book of Mormon with me. Before long I was able to read the Book of Mormon by myself. I read it and re-read it. After I joined the church I kept reading the Book of Mormon over and over again. I would read all of the Ensign magazines. I became a vociferous reader. Then I heard Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone give a talk and he said, “Reading the Book of Mormon will arouse all your faculties.” I could not let go of that statement. It just kept going through my mind. I read the Book of Mormon over and over again. I found myself wanting to get an education. I seriously began to apply myself getting enough education to be accepted into the University. I went on a mission. I obtained a University degree in Phycology. In addition Conway is blessed with musical talents. Conway bore testimony that indeed the Book of Mormon had aroused all of his faculties as Elder Featherstone had promised.” In sharing this experience with Elder Perron during our drive home – Elder Perron said, “That is interesting. Conway taught a Book of Mormon class in the Redoubt Stake institute last year and he is by far the most knowledgeable Book of Mormon teacher I have seen. He could almost quote the Book of Mormon verbatim no matter what lesson he was teaching. It is obvious he has read that book many, many, times.”
PICTURE ABOVE: Conway training the trainers for the LDS Share Expo last year.
PICTURE ABOVE: Conway posing for a great picture to post on his "social media pages."
PICTURE ABOVE: Conway training a member of the church on how to use social media at the LDS Share Expo.
June 11th (Thursday). Sister Perron what is on the stove for cooking class? “Elder Perron, there are no classes this week. I am just going to bake several dozen cookies to have around for the kids while they are studying!” For lunch Sister Perron took Loni out to Elliott Stables, a nice, unique place to eat. Loni has been so kind to us and keeps us laughing every day.
PICTURE ABOVE: Rose and Loni - always up for posing for a picture, always smiling!
June 12th (Friday). We had a Mission Zone Conference – we attended with the Tamaki and Otara Zones – meeting in the Ferguson Road building (Otara Stake Center). President Balli presided and did most of the training. The conference started at 9:00 AM, it was a very spiritual meeting. After lunch we asked to be excused and drove down to Hamilton for the wedding of Manu and Hannah. They were married in the Temple and their reception was held in the stake center in Temple View. Manu has been the Manukau Stake YSA male representative. He was one of our leaders in the Regional LDS Share Expo (social media event) last year. Manu also taught the Missionary Preparation class at the Manukau Stake institute. He was one of the first YSA we met when we first arrived in New Zealand. Manu and Hannah met at the 2015 New Zealand National YSA Conference. Another miracle! Hannah is from Hamilton. It is very special for Sister Perron and I to be invited to these weddings.
PICTURE ABOVE: When Elder and Sister Perron first arrived in New Zealand one of our first YSA activities was a beach party with the Manukau stake. There is Manu front and center (yellow shirt) serving chicken patties for the sandwiches.
PICTURE ABOVE: When we help select a committee to organize and run the LDS Share Expo's in New Zealand, Manu was one of the leaders. This picture was taken in the area office in Takapuna. Manu is sitting at the table on the left next to Elder and Sister Perron.
PICTURE ABOVE: Manu and Hannah following their marriage in the Hamilton New Zealand Temple.
June 13th (Saturday). Sister Perron had scheduled an Etiquette Dinner for her Eternal Marriage class. The students were supposed to bring a date. It is something that her class had planned and talked about during the semester. Giving the dating culture here this was a major test of faith for the students. Saturday morning we went over to the institute building where Talita – a young single adult from Mt. Roskill Stake – met Sister Perron and helped her decorate for the dinner. Following the decorating we went to the store and bought a large prime rib roast and other groceries and returned home to start cooking the meal. Between cooking and trying to find dates for students who said their date had fallen through we were busy. Sister Perron had to keep reassuring students to come because, "they would have an enjoyable evening." Sister Perron what is on the menu for your Eternal Marriage Etiquette Dinner? “Hot and cold hors d'oeuvre, prime rib, potatoes and gravy, steamed vegetables, rolls, chocolate cake and ice cream.” The evening was a delight – games were played, people visited, food was good. The dinner started at 7:00 PM and the evening ended about 10:00 PM.
PICTURE ABOVE: The decorations are ready for the Eternal Marriage - Etiquette dinner.
PICTURE ABOVE: Bab always the comedian had to be reminded by Sister Perron that the napkins were for the table and not for his bow tie.
PICTURE ABOVE: A delightful evening.
PICTURE ABOVE: As the evening comes to a close everyone needs to line up for a picture - isn't that the proper thing to do?
June 14th (Sunday) We had a 10:00 AM meeting with Bishopric of YSA 2nd Ward in Takapuna. We then drove south to attend the full block of meetings with the YSA 1st Ward in Manukau.June 15th (Monday) When we arrived at the institute building about 10:30 AM all of the lights were out. The place was dark. When we went inside there were balloons all over the floor, there was some notes on a white board near the front of the room. When we turned the lights on students jumped up from behind the furniture and started singing “Happy Birthday” to Sister Perron. June 15th is her birthday. These students really love Sister Perron. That evening Sister Perron and I had dinner at Tony”s Steak House. Tony's is a 47 year old establishment on Lorne Street three blocks from the institute. A very upscale, small intimate establishment. A great day!
PICTURE ABOVE: Surprise! Happy Birthday!
PICTURE ABOVE: Students climbing up off the floor and from behind the furniture. A truly surprise party!
PICTURES ABOVE: Close us pictures of the work of art that the "insti building kids" put together for Sister Perron's birthday. (Elder Perron was happy - look at all that candy - perhaps Sister Perron will share.)
PICTURE ABOVE: Emma brought Sister Perron a bouquet of flowers.
PICTURE ABOVE: Elder Perron - no surprise party, no flowers - tried to recover by taking Sister Perron to dinner at Tony's. Happy Birthday you great companion you!
June 17th (Wednesday). Game on! Today is the day! NBA Finals and Pizza Party. Quite a few attended saying everyone needs a break from study. Some disagreed and kept themselves sequestered away on the third floor studying. Everyone did take time out for a piece of Pizza however. In the morning Newman reviewed some of the material that had been presented in the Area CES training with Sister Perron and me.
PICTURE ABOVE: The NBA final Pizza Party.
PICTURE ABOVE: The game is over - the real winners were those who ate the pizza.
Nothing better than serving a mission with your wife. We are blessed in so many ways. Our maturity and sound judgement has blessed lives this we know. We have also been blessed by the enthusiasm and vibrant testimonies of these young single adults. The opportunities to serve as senior missionaries are varied and vast. We serve with many senior missionaries who have so many different callings. We will forever count our blessings. We appreciate our eight children and twenty-one grandchildren who love and support us with their prayers.
Elder and Sister Perron