Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apostle Visits - North meets South

Missionaries arriving at the conference held at the Baulkhams Hills Stake Center.  It was time to hear from a visiting Apostle (Elder Russell M Nelson), the Asia Pacific Area President and an Area Authority Seventy and their wives.  Before the meeting started, all the missionaries went up row by row to be given a welcoming handshake by the visiting authorities and their spouses.  The words they shared with the missionaries were very kind, uplifting and encouraging.  Missionaries from the Australia Sydney North and South Missions attending this nice event. When the mission was divided on 1 July 2013 there were about 220 missionaries.  Now between the 2 missions there are more than 400 missionaries.

A Zone Leader was assigned to direct traffic to the right parking area.

The excitement and enthusiasm of the young missionaries is obvious.  They are always happy to be gathered together to hear instruction from the Lord's servants.

Association after the meeting shows the friendships among the missionaries.

These sisters performed a special musical number.  One plays the piano and the other sings.  It was lovely.  One of our elders accompanied the hymns.

The Senior Couples also enjoy the association with each other and the young missionaries.

 You can't beat these smiles.  From all over the world they come together in the work of the Lord.  This program is so much better than the United Nations.  These missionaries proclaim peace to the world.

The two shortest missionaries in the mission - one from Hong Kong and one from Japan.

We love learning from our leaders and the association with the missionaries helps us appreciate the wonderful opportunity we have to serve them.

There are so many scenic places along the rivers as they flow to the ocean.  Here is yet another very beautiful place.  This little out of the way town has a swimming beach on the river.

The rivers, streams and bays contribute to the growth of the trees, bushes and flowers.  Plus the people here enjoy all the activities associated with water-boating, sailing, surfing, fishing, etc.  Does this remind you of a scene from a movie????

We enjoyed some very nice pastries at the Wauchope (Pron. Warhope) market.  These nice ladies showed their skills at baking these goodies.  On Saturdays, there are many small markets where people come to sell their wares. We had scones, whipped cream, and jam.  This is a typical tea time treat both in England and in Australia.  The scones are more like our biscuits.  Everyday around 10:30 am it is morning tea and in the afternoon around 3 it is afternoon tea.  We are not so much for tea but certainly enjoy the treats. :)

The scenery we see everywhere we travel is always incredibly beautiful.  Have we taken a bad photo yet in Australia?

Which way should we go?

Looking down to the bottom of the falls. These photos are all related to the hiking to and seeing the impressive Ellenborough Falls.  What could be said more?  A picture is truly worth a thousand words! 

 The headwaters aren't extremely impressive.  But it's still a beautiful scene.
A new friend has been added to our group.  Nice and interesting tree stump.

The view is a bit different at the bottom of the falls.

We are glad to be here and that we are able to take self-portraits.  We are also happy we weren't here when these rocks fell!!!

Going down was the easy part.  Going back up 641 metres, now that's work.  We got our exercise for the day on this hike.  This is the bush.  The outback is the desert.  So we are bush walking.

There's something strange in the neighborhood.  Who ya gonna call?  Termite busters!

We are still learning how to use the timer and take self portraits.  We are not always sure what the camera is "seeing" until after it shoots.

Because of the water and canyons, there are always bridges.  Some look safer than others.  Sister Feil is getting more comfortable with bridge crossing. 

Does anyone remember the wood carvings in Port Republic, NJ???  Eagles vs. Kookaburras ( a new NFL team)

Our newest past time - bush driving.

Houses on stilts is typical construction - especially in the country.  Apparently it helps keep houses cool in the heat of the summer.  Also it helps with not getting flooded.  Not sure how this compares to the wise man building his house upon the rock. 

Mooooove over.  A study in black and white.

We crossed a lot of bridges this week.  We are half way through our mission, we were able to listen to  two apostles speak, we drove north to Port Macquarie for the second time, and we had the great blessing of seeing another grandchild join our family.  We welcome Peyton and send all of our love and hugs to her.  Elder Nelson taught us that the Lord uses the unlikely to do the impossible.  We are living proof that is true.  The story of Gideon in the Old Testament, Paul in the New Testament, and Joseph Smith in the latter days are all examples of this truth.  Nothing is impossible with God on our side and so we will continue to move forward with faith, knowing that He will make up the difference for our weaknesses and accomplish His work.  That is our testimony.
Love to all,
Tired but happy, Elder and Sister Feil

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olympic Gains - Sochi vs Sydney

 It has been an olympic week!  We were able to get in more visa waiters than at any other transfer.  We started another zone and opened more apartments. We had more missionaries moving at this transfer than at any other transfer since we got here.  It was a pretty hectic week with lots of changes.  We can hardly keep up with who is where, who won what, and how should we get it!  Yes, family, we have been able to watch a little of the Olympics but the emphasis by the TV is all on the Australia athletes.  What is up with that???

On transfer Monday, the missionaries going home and the missionaries changing places all meet at a chapel, listen to the talks by the leavers and find out where they are going next.  The office is so quiet during that time, Elder Feil gets caught up and Sister Feil gets her head on straight!  And then they all come to the office.  They need to get supplies for their new areas, they need letters so that they can use the computers in the local library, they turn in their train and bus receipts and they need to come and see us and lift us up with their great spirit of love and friendship.

 As the office fills up, someone gets a hold of Sister Feil's camera and here are more pictures than I didn't even know were taken.  I didn't see these until tonight when downloading them for our blog.  This was just like the surprise finishers at the Olympics!

Who took this photo??? But at least you can see how crazy it is.  

 The interesting part are the leavers - here are a few of them - as they try and decide what to do with their time left and how do they fit in to the mix for the next 12 hours.  They will have a delicious dinner at the Howes and then leave early Tuesday for home.  It is a sad but happy time.  We find it very interesting to see who the new companionships are.  You can definitely see inspiration at work.  There are some that don't make logical sense, but the growth that comes from a new companion is amazing.  President is truly inspired as he makes these changes and then the missionaries go and do as commanded and the mission surges forward again.

 We have a new couple in the office and that has changed our assignments and work load.  They have taken over most of the flat issues which means that we are doing most of the office assignments.  Elder is pretty sad because he doesn't get to go shopping as much and you know how he loves those Olympic shopping events!  He has turned into a gold medal shopper.

This is his sad face at not being able to shop.  But he is considering training for accounting cross country because he has come in second in that event almost every month that we have been here.   :)
There is a large map on the wall that all the missionaries like to look at and get their bearings for their area.  I think this Elder is dreaming of where he wants to serve next - probably Hebersham because of all the "feeds" the missionaries get to enjoy.  This is the mail/transfer room.  Each zone has a black box where we put their mail.  We try to get it out as quickly as we can to the missionaries but some of the zones are quite far away and only get a delivery once a week or so.  We also put baptism pictures on the wall and they can see who got baptized that they may know.  During transfers, this room fills up with suitcases of missionaries going home so that they can weigh their luggage and throw out all the items that make it overweight.  One of the Sisters was very lucky this time.  She was flying home with an Elder who had lots of room in his bags, so she took all of her "extra" heavy items and packed them in his suitcases.  We are thinking of an Olympic event for this activity.  :)

And then came the new missionaries.  I have looked at this Elder's file for 6 months - he finally got his visa and I was more excited to see him than his mother would have been! My visa delay file is the smallest since we came.  We understand the political aspects of sports because we know the governments go back and forth jockeying for position on the visas.  But in the end, we win and get every missionary that is assigned.  Well, almost everyone.  We are still waiting on a missionary from Kiribati - pronounced Kiribus.  Someday we will go there and see for ourselves what the problem is.

They are so tired they can hardly see straight, but they are happy to be here.

 Elder and Sister Killebrew helped with the intake and talked about their duties in the office.  They have real estate experience and will be a great asset in the office with those issues.  Sister Killebrew has won ribbons for quilting.  Who knows, we may even get some special training from her and start a new Olympic event!

These are our new assistants.  They help the President with training, transferring, reports and any details the President needs.   They are a great example of diligence and we think that should be a lifetime skill.  

 After we orient the new missionaries, the trainers come in to meet their new companions. We have so many new missionaries, almost everyone is training.  Especially the Sister missionaries as we continue to build in numbers with the Sisters.  We should hit a peak next month and then we hope it will level off.
Sister Cox helps cook the meals and leads in the trainers to the stadium for the Opening Ceremony!  See everything in life relates to the Olympics!

 You don't find any bigger smiles on the medal winners than these trainers have as they come to meet the new missionaries.  We agree that they look younger and younger - or maybe we look older and older.

The older sister on the far right helps with meals and is here with her husband who is legal counsel for the area.  She actually used to date Elder Feil before his first mission!!  How is that for a crazy coincidence.  Dating is not an Olympic event but living to this age is certainly a contender. 

I, Elder Feil have had a nice opportunity to go with the missionaries to help teach an investigator.  It has given experience in teaching principles of the gospel and giving testimony about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us, as well as the importance of prophets and apostles.  The investigator is a woman who visited the Art Exhibit and Nativity near the temple and expressed interest in learning more.  She is progressing in her study and learning from the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  The young missionaries are excellent teachers and by their dedication they influence people to desire to know more about salvation and eternal life.  I am learning to say things that are prompted by the Holy Ghost. It is a great feeling to serve others and encourage their desire to learn the truths of the restored gospel.  I know that Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer and it is only through and by Him that we can partake of the blessings of eternal life and exaltation after we complete our mortal lives.  Love to all of you!
Your Favorite Olympic Missionaries,
Elder Feil representing Germany and Sister Feil representing Australia :) :) :) :)