Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bimbimbie, Minchinbury,Turinjah,Moruya, to Narooma - What's in a name??

We started this past week with 3 new missionaries arriving from Tonga, the Philippines, and Tahiti.  While these are exotic places and definitely on our "bucket list", we are required to stay within the boundary of New South Wales during the time of our mission.   To be more exact, we follow the direction of our President and go where he assigns.  He asked us to visit some pretty exotic places this week - at least their names sound pretty exotic.  So while we may not have made it to Tonga, or Tahiti, we did see the sights from Minchinbury to Narooma and all points in between.  

Our first stop was zone conference in Minchinbury, west of  Carlingford. Missionaries are divided into geographical areas called zones and districts.  Zones comprise several districts, and once every 3 months, President Howes and Sister preside over 1 or 2 Zone conferences.  These are meetings that last most of the day.  We hear talks, do role playing, receive training, and have a great meal prepared by Sister Howes.  

The fleet Elders, did a session on how to clean and entertained with a "minute to win it" game.  You can see them pitted against each other in tense competition trying to scrub walls, clean tiles, shine mirrors, and the ultimate test of spot removal from carpets.

They provided a myriad of products - some we have not heard of because they are unique to Australia.  Sugar Soap was the leading wall cleaner as well as carpet cleaner.  Who knew!!

Elders Vermeulen, from South Africa, and Baker from Sweden were the star contestants in getting cranberry juice out of a carpet sample.  Hopefully they will never have to do that in real life!

After the conference, they like having their pictures taken with each other and also with us.  We enjoy the camaraderie and felt uplifted by President's talk on being yoked with the Saviour as well as Sister Howe's talk about being a consecrated missionary.  We are learning and growing as we study.  The Elders and Sisters keep us young!

Sister 'Eteaki is a funny lady from Tonga.  I taught her how to make microwave popcorn a few weeks ago.  It reminded me of Carrie baking the rice krispy treats.  Love you Carrie.

Elder Young on the far left, is an amazing Elder.  He has been in a district with all asian missionaries, and now he is with all of the polynesian Elders.  We should all be more like him - patient, meek, submissive, and loving.

We love our missionaries.  Elder Featherstone is hearing impaired but jumps right in and keeps up with everyone.  I had to help him activate his new card on a 3-way conversation with the company.  That was a challenge but we got it done!  

By Friday, we were ready to be off on our exotic weekend to Narooma to speak in the branch.  We were heading south, which would seem like a warmer direction, but not so when you are south of the equator already.  So we are on the beach and it is 50 Fahrenheit.  Not the typical beach weather.  To make it more exciting, it was raining.  We were on vacation, but the weather forgot to cooperate.  But we thought it was beautiful, and the ocean is always amazing during a storm.

Some members of the church own this resort.  They have cabins, trailers, tents, and camping spots.  Last New Years Eve, they had 1600 people in this area.  So you can appreciate the size and extent of this resort.  That is our cabin through the trees.

We walked through the wall of trees and there was the ocean.  We could hear the waves pounding the shore from our cabin.  We even used our nifty IPhone flashlight to find the ocean the night before, but ended up on a muddy road and gave up the adventure to wait for daylight.

The beaches are clean, the water is clear, and the sand is amazing.  We just need some warm sun to complete our exotic paradise vacation.  HMMMM, maybe God is trying to tell us we are not on vacation!

The cabin was immaculate and fully outfitted with dishes, TV,  hot chocolate, and our favorite Aussie treat, TimTams.  

Lorikeets are everywhere.  These two thought I was going to feed them and all I did was take their picture.  I am certain he was disgusted with the cheap American!  The Narooma Branch goes to church in the second floor of this building.  The front of the building has an ice cream restaurant.  We had breakfast here because we noticed there were lots of customers.  Elder Feil had his first "brekkie" - that is a poached egg, hash brown, bacon, tomato, lettuce, grilled onions, and barbecue sauce, on a soft bun.  I had french toast with berries, mascarpone cream and syrup. All exotic vacations come with exotic food. :)

The sea lions were waiting for the sun to come out and warm them up.

This is the Australia rock.  The opening is in the shape of Australia.  We tried to climb up there but the tide was coming in and we weren't willing to get our shoes wet.

Yes it was a resort vacation spot - but remember, we have an assignment from our President, and we were speaking in the Branch the next day.  We get to play one day a week - Saturday.  And we play hard!

There are bowling clubs in every town.  We stopped by and received a commentary from a self-proclaimed champion on the intricacies of the game.

The old gentleman even knew where Utah was because he had been to the States numerous times as a marine.  He asked us if we were Mormons.  Don Dearborn would love this pastime.  They have tournaments and are always out competing.  We may have to take this up when we get back to the states.

A pelican on a light pole.  We love the birds here and enjoy listening to all of their sounds as well as seeing their colors.  This was just humorous because he is such a big bird on such a little light.

Sunday dawned warm and sunny.  But alas, our exotic holiday had come to a close as we went for a quick walk on the beach, headed back to the cabin to pack up and leave for Church.  As we drove to Church we passed Bimbimbie Road, Turinjah, Moruya, and finally made it to Bateman's Bay.  We enjoyed meeting with about 40-50 members.  Elder McAra and his wife are a senior couple from Washington State who have been called to serve as the Branch President and Seminary Teacher in the Narooma Branch.  Twice a month they meet in Bateman's Bay to accommodate the members there and the other weeks they meet in Narooma.  After the services, they had a yummy pot luck lunch for us.  Once again, we are left feeling blessed by these strong members of the Church.  Our Sunday school teacher was an 80 year old sister from Sweden who is raising her 3 grandchildren.  The Relief Society lesson was taught by a lady from Austria who came to Australia 30 years ago and became active in the church again.  There was a young newlywed couple from Scotland who had just moved here to find work.  Our lives are filled with love from these humble souls who lift and bless one another and we hope we do the same.  

We hope you are all well and happy.  We know if you put that which is of most importance first, you will enjoy the peace that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring.  Love each other, love yourselves, and most important, love the Lord and dedicate your life to His service.
Elder and Sister Feil

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