Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lift Where You're Standing

 This week involves work - we worked to get ready for new missionaries coming.  We worked to get ready for 9 superior missionaries leaving.  We worked to prepare for training, housing, and teaching wherever we were needed.  Since we didn't travel to a country branch, we had time to help and prepare in other areas.  We have two outstanding missionary couples finishing their missions.  The Kohlerts and the Bakers have been great examples of working and lifting where they were standing.  Kohlerts have served 3 missions.  Twice they were the mission president and sister and this last mission have been in the Public Affairs for the church.  They are in their 70's and have spent the last 10 years or so in the full-time service of God.  They are great examples to us and to all good people throughout the world.  The Bakers are potato farmers from Washington who came to the big city of Sydney to support members.  They have taught English to Chinese speakers, cooked food, fed the multitudes of young single adults, hauled them all over NSW to see, learn, and do at various activities, and spiritually led, counseled and loved all they met.  They are spiritual giants and humble servants of Jesus Christ.  They leave next week to go back to the farm and told everyone to eat fish and chips instead of beef and rice - that would support them back on the farm! :) But they will truly be missed.  And along come Elder and Sister Dick, who left their 8 children and families, to run the institute program in the city.  They are the "newbies" and have already stepped up to the plate to fill the gap left by others.  They will do just fine for the next two years and will learn and serve in the process.
So we have cried to see the old missionaries leave, but smile when the new ones arrive.  We work to get them here and work to keep them here.  Then we will do what needs to be done to see them safely home.  A satisfying but emotional week.

Here are the unsung heroes of the mission, Elder Nelson and Elder Noble.  The Fleet Missionaries have worked hard at making the housing livable for the missionaries by shopping for and purchasing (with the help of the mission credit card possessed by Elder Feil) mattresses, bed frames, chairs, tables, desks, pots, pans, utensils, refrigerators, washers, dryers and rice cookers (essential for the Asian missionaries).  Plus, they tirelessly manage the 38 cars, numerous bikes along with necessary repairs, traffic fines and licensing of bikes.  They make arrangements and take the cars damaged in accidents, such as in kangaroo slayings on the road, to the "smash repairer".  In their spare time they help move things as shown above.  We love them very much.  In addition, they are fun to associate with :).

There was an art show/fund raiser at the King's School just down the road from us.  It's a private boys school and there are several pictures of students in their uniforms.  Sister Howes thinks they look like band uniforms.  These two old men are made out of acrylic with a touch of real clothing.  They looked like they could talk to us.  The young children thought it was great after overcoming a little fear.

More of the King's Boys

This is what a school fund-raiser looks like in "winter" in Australia.  We love winter in Australia!

Every old school must have their own, old church.

Elder Noble has gone home, Elder Shim is now a Zone Leader in the city, Elder Freitag and Elder Nelson got new companions.  And everyone kept on working.

We are trying to do our part here to support the missionary work. We hope all of you are striving to do the same in your communities, homes, wards and work places.  Most important are the people that we learn to love and appreciate along the way.  And we hope that we bless their lives in some small way. We love you all and think of you often. Elder and Sister Feil

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Regular Work Week and Preparation Day

Our week starts on Monday morning.  We usually get up at 6:30, exercise for 30 minutes, get dressed for the day, cook breakfast, eat and head over to the office.  We walk to work which takes about 30 seconds.  The office hours are from 8 am to about 5:30 or 6 pm.  If there is someone to answer the phone, we come home for lunch, but if not Sister Feil makes lunch and brings it over to the office for Elder Feil.  Sister Feil writes letters and mails them.  Written communication from President or Sister Howes is handled by the their secretary - Sister Feil. :)  Missionaries receive their calls to this mission about 4 months prior to arriving and we send them a welcome packet and wait for their travel plans which come about the week before their arrival.  We receive missionaries in about every six weeks and send missionaries home that have finished their missions a day before the arrivals.  In between, we prepare for them to leave and arrive.  We arrange for apartments, buy bedding, furniture and transportation.   We order teaching supplies, materials, and sometimes clothing.  When missionaries need clothing alterations, Sister Feil handles it.  Elder Feil collects and delivers the mail each day and answers any monetary concerns for missionaries.  We coordinate with the service center for special needs and make sure President and Sister are supported in all that they do for the mission.  We handle referrals, baptisms, and answer questions when anyone calls.  Sometimes that includes grumpy people - but we do our best to love them as the Savior would!  :) Tuesday is temple day for the missionaries and we are right by the Sydney Temple.  The missionaries come for a few minutes of love and nourishment.  We have found that popcorn and hot chocolate is a popular and easy treat!  The missionaries are always creative and the first picture is them wishing their mothers and fathers happy birthday.  We love this picture and hope their parents enjoyed it too.

Saturdays are our preparation day.  We clean our house, do the laundry and when not traveling, we take field trips with the other senior missionary couples.  This past Saturday we went to the Auburn Cherry Tree Festival.  L-R The Williams from Idaho, E. Feil, Roberts from Utah, Jorgensens from Washington.

We have lots of fun and develop friendships quickly because like the young missionaries, we are all coming and going at different times.  Jorgensens are the legal couple and will head home in October.  Elder Jorgensen was a judge in his previous life!  We have a lot of fun with that!

Turtle Island - A turtle ran over a snail.  The police asked the snail, "Did you see what happened?"  He responded, "It happened too fast."  This is an Aussie clean joke that one of our Branch Presidents told us.

Sister Feil practicing the Crane!

The cherry blossoms were beautiful and had the most delicate fragrance.

People dress in native costumes for this event.  This little girl looks like a doll - and here she is with Mom.  No we don't know them.  They just allowed us to take the picture.

The cowboys were trying to figure out the sun dial.  Elders Williams and Roberts are real cowboys - they own ranches, grow crops and have herds of cattle. Elder Williams wanted to lasso the  kangaroos that we saw, but was worried he might get arrested and President wouldn't bail him out!  :D

Elder Roberts minored in photography in college and he and I took turns taking photos of one another!  But that is why you actually get photos of Elder and Sister Feil together this week.

I set the camera on a log, focused it and pressed the timer - SNAP!!  A picture of the entire group in the Australian rain forest.  I love technology!

This is a reminder of the New Jersey guinea hens - the Australian bush turkey must be a distant cousin.  We have one of these little darlings running around our mission complex.  Last week he dug up the pansies by our front door.  The count down is on with his nine lives - and November may be the perfect month!

We could not figure out why the water was such a deep blue green but this made for a very unique picture of the Gardens.  Aussies love their Botanical Gardens and every town has one.  They set a great example of nature conservation and preservation.  

This week, Sister Feil was on the phone to a Japanese Elder, who was talking to a Korean lady who needed an address in Korea.  Although all five of these Elders speak Korean, not one of them was available to help Sister Feil! The Japanese Elder, whose companion is from Spain, needed help spelling the Korean name. Elder Feil was able to look at a map and find the name of the place, which we then texted to the missionaries.  WE love the diversity, the challenge, work, associations and stimulation of minds that is involved here in Australia.  Every day brings new opportunities for growth.  We laugh and love each and every day.  The "stone...cut out without hands"(Daniel 2:34) is rolling forth and we feel privileged to be part of this great work.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is true!  Love to all,
Elder and Sister Feil

Monday, August 12, 2013

Port Macquarie - A Prisoner's Paradise

 Port Macquarie is a beautiful paradise that was a former site of a penal settlement.  It was founded in 1821.  It is not a shipping port but today it is a tourist port and in the winter it is still warm enough to attract plenty of "old folks" like us.  We are doing our assigned country visit.  We travel to the Branches and speak or whatever the Branch President wants us to do.  The Branches usually have between 10-50 people in attendance, of the 150+ that are on the rolls.  So you can see the amount of work that needs to be done with seeking the lost sheep. But the most inspiring part for us is meeting the stalwart members who keep on doing what is right, fulfilling their calls, helping the missionaries and moving forward with faith.  We try to travel on Saturday, depending on the distance; we speak on Sunday, teach a class, or play the keyboard for the music.  After the 3 hour block, we hop in the car, plan our route back to Sydney and enjoy a picnic lunch/dinner on the way home.  This works for most trips because the Branches are about 4-6 hours drive, but there will be a few trips that will take 8 hours of travel time.  So back to our last adventure at the prison - we drove up on Saturday after helping one of our missionaries get a white shirt that would fit him.  He is Tongan and has a 19" neck, 32-33" sleeve length, and 34" waist.  It has been a challenge but his learning English is more of a challenge.  He is now looking great in his white shirts that fit him.  We are getting good at men's shirt sizes.  

 So this Pelican has a great looking white shirt and he posed for the camera.  They are all over the shore and waterways in this area of NSW.

The Port at sunset.  

The view of the port from our hotel swimming pool.  Yes we did our laps and then jumped into the hot tub.  Mission travel is hard work and requires much needed R&R.

Elder Feil is chatting with the locals - this guy was a little stoic and not very talkative.

This seems to be the major source of dinner  or income.  They are hard to distract and Elder Feil couldn't get much conversation from them either.

 Our usual beautiful sunset picture.  I am taking lots of pictures for the kids to enjoy when we get back!
Along their waterfront, families have painted the rocks on the sea wall.  It is fun to see how creative people are.

And we found a Tom and Molly!! Who would have thought that possible!

How's this for creative?  This little guy let me take his picture.

There were skate board parks in all the small beach towns.  This guy was pretty good.

This reminds us of the stalwart members of the Branches blooming where they are planted.  A great lesson for all of us.

This is the Branch - the missionaries come early and welcome everyone to Church.

Elder Burawis from the Philippines.  Notice how the photographer caught the sun glinting off his name tag.  Elder Burawis said that was the celestial light!

President Conry and Elder Feil talking over ideas and plans on how to expand and grow this Branch to a Ward.  We could use Craig and Debra Bird here with all of their experience!

This building housed the kitchen and classrooms.  Some of the Branch members visiting on a beautiful sunny winter day.

This building was the chapel.  It will hold about 100 people.  They are bringing in more chairs and hope to get 60-80 people in the next few months.

The faithful members who inspire and motivate us to be better.  We come away feeling blessed to have met them.

We also taught Sunday School - the teenagers.  We loved it and were able to teach them about Family History.

Little boys waiting for Mom and Dad to stop talking.  Kids are the same everywhere.

Elder Balmes from Australia is 6'3" and Elder Burawis is 5'7" so he wanted to stand on the steps and be as tall as his companion.  These two are amazing.  They strive to live the gospel and are prepared to teach all they come in contact with.  Have we told you how much we love the missionaries??? :)

The Church owns 5 acres of land here - the members said they are thinking there will be a temple here in 6 years.  We love their hope and optimism.

Cathie Bay - pronounced cat-eye.  We came here for our lunch/dinner stop.  We are enjoying our picnic lunches on Sundays as we strive to keep the Sabbath Day holy.

Do you think he looks a little out of place??  We were slightly overdressed for the usual Sunday, beach-going group.  

Rainbow Beach

Pelicans on the water way.

And instead of our usual sunset picture, we thought we would end with the beautiful rainbow that we saw on the way home.  We are so thankful for all of God's creations and grateful each day to be healthy and alive and living in Australia.  We know Heavenly Father loves all of his children and is always mindful of our needs.  We pray for all of you and we are grateful for your love, support, and prayers.