Sunday, April 13, 2014

An Apple a Day

Each transfer, we have a day of training for the new missionaries.  They get some training on arrival day, then a few weeks later, they come with their trainers and have a more in depth training.  This seems to work much better because we are not stuffing their heads with all the info they may need to succeed on a day when their brain is mush from travel.  Instead, they get it in small doses - just like General Conference.  We have enjoyed listening to the talks over the past week because of the day and a half delay, and then spending the next 6 months making sure that we can digest all that they teach us.    

While everyone else is learning, Elder Feil is using his accounting skills to tape a mirror with duct tape while it is waiting to get fixed at smash repair.  It looks as good as new - even better than the garbage can it wiped out.

After the training, they all congregate at the office just to take pictures, visit with each other for a few minutes, get supplies, and of course, see their favorite office workers!

There is a great camaraderie amongst the missionaries.  That kindness and love not only comes because of their desire to be like the Savior, but also because they are keeping the commandments and have love for their fellow man as well as God.  President Monson's talk on Sunday morning is well portrayed by our missionaries.  
The camera was snapping quickly and yet they were aware and posing so fast it was amazing!  These two missionaries are companions - the tallest and the shortest and while one posed, the other added to the humor of the shot.  

We have several missionaries from Kirabati and Vanuatu.  Before coming here we had not even heard of these places and now we know someone from there.  The Gospel is going forth to every continent, country, clime and sounding in every ear.  We feel at times like we have front row seats to the action! 

We reached the weekend and pondered where to go on Saturday.  Since it is the fall season, we thought of heading to the mountains to experience the cool weather, trees changing colors, and fresh apples.  We had streamed conference the previous weekend, and watched most of the sessions.  That gave us a little free time to pursue "fall" activities.

We have never seen apple trees and palm trees growing in the same field.  Also, because of the number of birds, they have to cover the fruit trees either individually or collectively.  We saw both and either way seems to be effective.  Another reminder that we can solve problems different ways.  

We thought these were ceramic mushrooms - decorations if you will.  But on close examination, realized these were the real deal!!  Some friendly Asians confirmed that they are probably very poisonous and should not be touched.  We heeded that advice and did not pick any for tasting. 

In the Blue Mountains is an area called Bilpin, the apple capital of Australia.  There are also other country towns, and the one we decided to visit was Mt. Wilson.  This quaint little village is filled with gardens that are available for tours.  We passed up the garden tours and did our own.  Every little home had the most amazing gates - "straight is the gate and narrow the way and few there be that find it"  is appropriate for this village.  It was 40 k's beyond Bilpin on a side road.  

 This is eye candy for the garden.  Can you imagine this in our backyard in Utah??  Elder Feil was not too keen on finding out the price, so don't check the mail.  I guess we can't give Kevin Moore a run for his money on yard decorations.
We closed the last beautiful gate and headed for the Cathedral of Ferns.  This area is all within 90 k's of our home.  We think we have seen everything and then there is more that we find.  

These rain forests are never silent, with birds singing, water dripping, and surprisingly enough we could hear someone mowing their lawn!  

The large tree below was struck by lightening in 2008.  The gum trees grow to amazing heights and as you can see, widths.  But no matter the size, there are times that we can all get humbled.  We have definitely been humbled as missionaries.  We have learned that we certainly don't know much and can always learn more.  We learn from conference talks about the areas in our lives that need improvement and how we can become more like the Saviour.  This may be hard to believe, but even as old folks, we too are changing. We hope to be better. 

Now that is one big fern!!  It even has a head. ;)  And check out the forest nymph below, or maybe that is Vanna White Green...we always have fun together, whether working or sight seeing.  We are grateful that our companionship never gets changed.

 There is not much left to tell about these photos; we saw more gates and Elder was patient with stopping the car, letting me out, and waiting for me to take more photos.  Gates are great symbols and I'm certain you can think of more scriptures.
A beautiful country road on a fall day.  The colors are not like the east coast, but the temperature was cool - 15 C and with apples in hand, we imagined a crisp autumn day in Utah...  

This lookout, Du Faurs Rocks was on our way back towards Katoomba.  Yes, we are sitting on the edge of a precipise and the camera is on the rock across from us.  Elder sits still, I push the button then carefully make my way to pose as if I had been there all along.  I love this camera!

The growth in the front has been burned from a fire.  We are continually amazed at how fast the areas grow back after the fires.  We should all be as persistant as the Australian Bush in overcoming trials, or as Elder Anderson said on Saturday morning, "Don't let the whirlwinds drag you down. These are your days - to stand strong as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ."

We finished our tour in Blackheath, another country village.  This is the restuarant where we ate our dinner.  We had an amazing lamb roast with roasted vegetables.  The Aussies do a great job of roasting vegetables and with cool weather, leaves turning, everything combined to make our day a complete success.  We finished off our perfect fall day with a rugby game in the rain.  The game was hard fought, but the home team won and just like home, there were plenty of crazy people yelling and singing.  

We learned from the talks of General Conference and just like our post title states, An Apple a Day is just what we all need.  That apple might be a kind word, or profound scripture, a small miracle or applicable talk from conference. We are waiting and praying for a new grandson to make a safe arrival.  We leave you with the helpful words of Elder Neil L Anderson: "Embrace more deeply His love, His mercy and grace, and the powerful gifts of His Atonement. As you do, I promise you that you will see the whirlwinds for what they are - tests, temptations, distractions, or challenges to help you grow."  We love you all and encourage you to study and learn every day.
  Elder and Sister Feil

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