Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five Signs of Fall in Australia

 We are now in the fall season and we have been here almost a year. We are experts at recognizing the various signs of the seasons and feel we should share some of this knowledge with those of you who live in other parts of the world.  So the first sign of fall - it rains more!  This past week has been rain every day.  We are trying to get the weather stations to post an 80% chance of rain instead of 20% chance when we receive more than 3 inches in a single day.  Our other challenge is how to get 28 boxes of copy paper from the warehouse to the office when it just keeps pouring rain.  We have two old men and two old ladies working in the office and no one to bring up the paper until the young missionaries show up, so they answered our call for help, and ran to the warehouse for the paper - in the 20% chance of rain.  They were so fast it all stayed dry - almost.  
They are the most handsome bunch of go-phers around and assured us that their ties were water repellant.

The second sign of fall in Aussie-land:  Senior missionaries wear more orange and brown clothes.  Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, and we have learned that since there is no Memorial Day or Labor Day here, Aussies have no rules about when you can or can't wear white.  They wear it all year round.  So some of the Americans have adopted that practice! Case in point, the Senior Elders.  :)

This was our final FHE with the Tanners who leave this Monday so of course we played  a game - Mormon Pictionary.  

Our biggest challenge was understanding the drawings of other Seniors - we come from varied backgrounds and experiences and we are not such great artists.  But that was also the fun of the game an we laughed alot at ourselves.
On Saturday, the clouds broke, the sun came out and we headed for Paddington Market.  This is an older part of Sydney with victorian architecture for the buildings.  We don't have pharmacies here, we have chemists.  That name seems much more appropriate.

The third sign of fall - some leaves fall from some trees and some leaves turn yellow, but don't fall.  But regardless of what the leaves do, the outdoor markets on Saturday are always in full swing.  We enjoy shopping at them where you can buy everything
from soup to nuts, literally.  We do enjoy just being outdoors again after all of the rain and that is the only "bad" weather we have to speak of.    

One of these birds is not like the others......

Waverly Council Offices which has now become the cinemas building.  Notice the blue skies of Fall.

After shopping, we took the Smiths, a Senior Couple working in PEF Self Reliance, to Bondi Beach.  We decided to have a picnic lunch and Sister Smith chose to throw out a small piece of bread.  Having lived in Jersey for 19 years, I knew that one piece of bread attracts 30 seagulls and of course that happened. 

Number 4 on our countdown list is less people at the beach.  This seems to vary depending on the beach, the weather, and the day.  Saturdays are always exceptions to the rule.  This picture is showing the "cool" hats the beach patrol wears.  Don't rush ahead to the picture below; stay focused on the orange and yellow in the above picture.  Another curious fact, Speedos started at Bondi Beach in the 1950's.  We are always looking to expand your knowledge!

As Senior Missionaries, we usually stand out no matter what we wear.  I told the men they could wear shorts, but they like the flip flops and jeans attire.  
Rocks always attract climbers, and water always attracts kids.

The plaque above explains that this rock was moved to this beach by a storm in 1912.  If it gets moved again, at least they will know where it came from.  We have heard of tagging animals so that you can track their migrations, but this is the first time we have heard of tagging rocks.  :)

We love the crashing of the waves and are getting better at taking pictures without getting wet.  They certainly make for a magnificent background.

The mosaic behind us is particularly beautiful and we hope you can zoom in on that.  We look the same - with a few more wrinkles and grey hair.

And finally, #5 is not that they are surfing, but the NRL - Football - season starts in the Fall!!  Just like America.  We have a returned missionary from the Brisbane Mission playing on an NRL team close to our home.  So we decided to go watch him play and get into the Fall Season.  The game is in Parramatta, the team are the Eels and the stadium is the Pirtek Stadium which holds about 16,000 people.  It started at 5:30 and was over in about 2 hours.  The game is non-stop action, with few timeouts except for injuries.  We were rooting for the Blue and Yellow team.

Here we are with all of the local fans.  The rival team are the Penrith Panthers.  That name seems much more vicious than Eels.  But the fans get into it and yell at the refs just like in America.  They boo the bad calls and cheer when a try is successful.  A try is when you score.

Here is our reason for coming - Wil Hopoate.  He is an amazing young man and a great example to all around him.  We were able to listen to him speak at a fireside and in a sacrament meeting.  He has a million dollar contract and we helped pay his salary. :)  He was on the big screen for making a try.  The fire explodes when we score.  That was a novel idea!

That is Wil, grinding it out in the trenches on a Saturday night.  One of the other players, Fui Fui is also LDS.  Because of their great examples both on the field and off,  the Church is receiving lots of attention right now and that always helps missionary work.  We have people asking us if we know these fine young men and we are blessed by their actions.  We hope you are blessed by our actions and we want our grandchildren to know we did not leave them, we are leading them on to a mission.  We love you all and pray for you each day.  So wherever you are, enjoy whatever season you are in both in life and in your world.  The gospel is spreading throughout the world by improbable people doing impossible things. Keep up the good work.
Elder and Sister Feil

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beaut and Grandis

The pictures this week are totally out of order, but we know that no one cares and we just have to put them together with a story line of our week.  The above photo is Shelly Beach, near Port Macquarie.  Our speaking assignment was there this weekend.  This is the second time we have gone to Port which means that we must have been here close to a year!  We have made the rounds of all the country branches and are now starting over on the list.  

This is a "beaut" scene at the beach in Port Macquarie.  The background is even "beaut" :)  We have decided to collect some shells at the beaches we visit.  We have been told that there are some blue shells that Chanel will buy but so far we can't find these shells - beauty!  Oh well, the fun is always in the hunt....

The surrounding sites were marvelous. We even got some exercise going down to the beach and back up the stairs to the top of the hill.

We met a new friend at Harry's Lookout.  It's a goanna.  The Aussie family who showed it to us called it a water lizard.  It wasn't afraid of us and seemed satisfied that we helped it get a drink of water.  In return he patiently posed for the camera. We were warned earlier that we don't want a goanna bite.  They are not poisonous but their mouths are full of bacteria and it's an automatic trip to the hospital for treatment. Whoa!!!
Also if you stand still like a tree, they will climb you - naw, we did not want this "grandis" lizard climbing us!

What more could we ask for than our own, private little beach?

A bird's eye view of our little beach. We were able to get in the water and feel the waves and undertow.  Australians spend lots of time at their beaches - and no wonder, they are clean, cool, and inviting.  The Tasmen Sea is peaceful, lovely and never ending; a beautiful place to be on a clear fall day.  Hard to believe it is autumn and heading towards winter, but that is the subject of another blog entry.  

The Port Macquarie Branch of the Church is composed of some very dedicated members. They have had wonderful missionaries to help teach the gospel to people they meet.  There were about 55 people there today and a young man who is getting ready to go on a mission spoke as well as one of our Elders who is getting transfered on Monday.  Sister Feil was able to play the electronic keyboard and Elder Feil taught the Young Men in priesthood meeting.  We left after church to head back to Carlingford and one of the very kind sisters, brought over a cooler full of lunch for us to eat on the way home. Not only does this small branch have a young missionary getting ready to go but they also have a couple leaving in April to serve in the Family History Center in SLC, UT.  These branch members are obedient and diligent.  They are a great example to us. 

The 8 acres of grounds surrounding the chapel have some beautiful trees. This is a Lasiandra.  In spring, the Jacarandas have the purple blossoms and in fall the Lasiandras have the purple blossoms. It is actually a bush and very popular in NSW.  We think this would be beautiful in our yard, but of course, it likes warm weather.  And we do too - when we see pictures of snow, it seems so "foreign".  

This is the tallest tree in New South Wales.  It is about 400 years old and we feel we can relate.  A Senior Missionary in the tree world!!! The site is called Grandis which basically means grand and large.  This is a Flooded Gum Tree.  This area has a lot of these trees in different sizes.  Some have fallen.  It reminds us a little of the Redwood Forests in California.

Nearby palm trees are also very large.  The forest is full of these trees, too.  We were now in the rain forest - 5 k's on a dirt road.  It was definitely the road less traveled.  But the peace and quiet were deafening.
Every forest must have it's own, quintessential outhouse.  Also referred to as a toilet.  Welcome!

Possibly the next tallest tree in New South Wales with a very small representative of humanity in the front.

These are photos of the road to Grandis so we could see the tallest tree.  These show the abundance of trees in the area.  So, what is new?  This is New South Wales.  There are beautiful trees everywhere!

These views of the M1 show how this heavily used freeway was a difficult one to build.  The rock doesn't move easily.  Everytime we return from the North, this site tells us we are close to home.  Whenever we see the trees coming out of the rocks, we are reminded of the phrase "Bloom where you are planted".  
This is a "beaut and grandis" scene.  The Sydney Australia Temple backed up by a full moon.

This is a rare photo of the missionaries from the Hebersham Zone following their attendance at the temple.  This is a wonderful group of dedicated missionaries.  They serve in areas where there are many kind and generous people who feed them well.  They have to balance good food and good exercise. :0  Of course, so do we and 30 minutes at 6:30 am is sometimes not enough!

We had some visitors from Sweden-recently released missionary (Elder) Robert Baker and his sister, Sophia.  It was good to see them and we had some nice chats.

Following a lease signing it was good to have lunch at the nearby "beaut", Dee Why Beach. Our lunch was the ever-favorite Kabab sandwich.  It is flat bread with meat, hummus, tahini, cheese, veggies, lettuce, onions, and sweet chili sauce!  It's a bargain at $8 and missionaries love them.

The older gentleman above was putting on his flippers and preparing to surf - he must have been close to 80 and is our newest idol.  Beaut!
Notice the Sydney skyline in the background.  

This is Captain Phillips Lookout.  He was the first captain who brought the convicts over.  

And totally out of order are the last three beautiful photos of Shelly Beach and Port Macquarie.  The house above is the B & B we stayed at.  We are going to try those from now on.  
Just so you know it has been a "beaut" of a week and also a "grandis" week is coming up.  You have probably guessed accurately that "beaut" is short for beautiful and "grandis" means grand or large. The world was created by God and it is large and beautiful.  Although we are on the other side of the world we enjoy learning of your activities thru FaceBook, FaceTime, Google Plus Hangouts, iMessages and emails.  Thanks for your efforts to keep us included, involved and informed about your lives.  We enjoy it immensely.  With love and hugs from Oz,
Elder and Sister Feil, Grandpa and Mamoo, Molly and Tom, etc.