Sunday, February 9, 2014

Singing the Blues

Our week began with one of our missionaries baking cookies for us!  That was a change of roles, but the "bickys" were yummy and everyone, including Fleet, enjoyed the reward.  This missionary is quite the cook - must be because he is from Nevada! 

We also enjoyed another visit from Brother Williams, our neighbor in Lehi.  He has been doing some work here this week so we had fun with meals and visits.  It is always good to see people from home.  We are not homesick, but when we see friends, we remember home and family and our hearts twinge just a little.

We had a speaking assignment in the Leura Ward and decided to make a weekend out of it.  Leura is in the Blue Mountains, lovingly called The Blues. Only an hour and a half drive from Carlingford, this area has cliffs, gorges, and rainforest walks.  
We have learned to drink lots of water.  With the temperature at 90, we needed to hydrate.  We are also pretty good at remembering our sun screen.  Casey would be proud to see us now.  We rarely get sunburned!  

We are on the Cliff Walk.  First you are walking along the upper edge of the canyon.  Then you descend into the gorge and rainforest on the valley floor.  Aussies love their scenic country and spend time and effort in making the trails easy to navigate.  
I am getting used to the highs and lows of missionary life and just have to hang on to my hat for the ride!

Katoomba Falls from the cable car.

The Skyway is the highest cable car in Australia at 270 meters.  We were gliding between cliff tops above the Jamison Valley.

The ferns are incredibly large, beautiful and abundant.

Waiting for the Scenic Railway.  The ride goes down through a natural cave as it descends into the valley.

Scenic World has two trams and one railway to take people across and down into the rain forest in Jamison Valley and back out.

The railway has an incline of about 52 degrees.  It's the steepest passenger train in the world.

This is a recommended view to see and only from this position.  What is Elder Feil seeing that is so wonderful?

Isn't this view simply amazing?  Our point of view makes all the difference in the world!

A rest stop, also known as the Miner's Hut. During the late 1800s and early 1900s there was extensive coal mining in this area.

The view of Katoomba Falls from the rainforest below.

This is a Rough Tree Fern.  It's very unique among all the trees in the Blues.

The termite nests are very large.  They are quite common here and thrive because the available food-dead trees.

The 3 Sisters are a main attraction.  The background of valleys and mountains is stunning and impressive.

Four Sisters and an Elder.  Nice balance:).  This view was taken at night last winter-June.  So this gives a different perspective.

What's a rhino doing in Australia? This one is being used as a fundraiser for a cause.
Our reward for a day of hiking was dinner at this beautiful restaurant in Leura.  We sat outside and enjoyed the cockatoos scream above us in the trees.  By evening, the temperature had begun to drop into the 70's.  It was truly a day of contrasts.

The Leura Chapel is unique among LDS chapels.  It was designed by a local architect who was not a member of the church.  The baptismal font is in the main foyer and the white color helps it to stand out from the surrounding area.  

  Elder Baker is standing at the front of the chapel.  It has skylights and windows that allow natural sunlight in.  There used to be water in a channel along the outside left wall that reflected around the room, but the members found it to be distracting so they don't use it anymore.
This is the main foyer with the baptismal font behind the Elders.

The rounded windows and various angles draw your attention upward. There is also a beautiful courtyard.  We have seen courtyards in several of the churches here.  When your weather is this beautiful, it is good to have courtyards.

It was San Sunday (sandwiches and goodies after church).  We enjoy the fellowship of the members and we can spend some time getting to know them better.

This was Elder's last Sunday as he will finish his mission this week.  The Primary sang him a few songs of farewell.
It was touching and reminded us that our time here is so short.  We try to live each day to its fullest and we hope to go home with no regrets.

We always try to find someone to take our pictures at least once.  After church, we went along the Cliff Drive and stopped at a few overlooks on our way home.

We walked along this beautiful path to Bridal Veil Falls.  It seems every country has a Bridal Veil Falls.  Can you find Sister Feil in the Ferns??

This water must come from springs.  It started out quite small at the Leura Park and by the time it was at this point, it had grown quite large.  The Church in Australia is just like that, starting out small and now is a force for good in many communities.

And here is the Bridal Veil Falls.  If you look down at the bottom, you can see the people who have hiked there.  That should help give you some perspective.  We all need perspective some days.

Once again, we are slightly overdressed for hiking, but we have fun joking with people along the path and answering questions about why we are here in Australia.  This arch is a rock.  This reminds us of Arches National Park in Utah.
And the final house of the day is this amazing rock structure.  So we head for home with a busy transfer week ahead.  We have been able to get a number of visa waiters in this week and look forward to transfers, missionaries heading for home and new missionaries arriving.  We have been busy helping our new couple with their assignments and dividing our duties in the office.  That change has helped relieve some of the pressure and we hope to be much more effective in our assignments.  We have had some miracles in referrals and been able to get information about the Church to those who have asked within 24-48 hours.  We have had people wanting Books of Mormon in their own language and missionaries have responded with members who also speak their language.  "By their fruits ye shall know them" and our missionaries have been producing lots of good fruit.  Elder Feil has been offering Books of Mormon to numerous people that he meets as he goes out in the community.  He is becoming a finding machine!  His next goal is to get someone to take the missionary lessons.  He has also been able to go on a few teaching appointments when the Elders needed a member.  So we are moving along, growing, developing talents we never thought we needed, seeing sights and becoming more of what our Heavenly Father wants us to be.  We are looking forward to the birth of a grandchild this month and are sad that we will not be there.  We love and miss all of you and hope your week is a good one.  Happy Birthday to Marylee!
Elder and Sister Feil

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