Sunday, June 22, 2014

"There Be Whales Here"

We usually show you pictures of at least one sunset.  But with the Winter Solstice upon us, we had time to rise before the sun, get ready for church, and head to the Gan Gan Hill Lookout to watch the beautiful sunrise and then head off to Church in Toukley.  Sunrises remind us that we have a new beginning, a chance to do better, be better, and improve on our actions of the previous day. 

We also had a chance to remember those who are leaving us and we want to acknowledge the great life of Uncle Joy Bybee.  He lived long and happy and was always a loving, positive influence.  He is a great tribute to Fathers and we will miss him.  

Another great Father who we would like to honor is Dr. Donald Dearborn who is 75 years old today.  Happy Birthday Dr. D.  We love you too and wish you many more!

Father's Day in Australia is celebrated in September, but we enjoyed talking to family and appreciated all of the wonderful comments and pictures on facebook.  

 On the way to Toukley we saw this old church in Tomago and stopped to have look.
This is the after church picture of the wonderful missionaries assigned to the Toukley Ward. They are loved and appreciated.  Beautiful! They represent Japan, Samoa, Tonga and the US.
We crossed paths with the awesome missionaries assigned to the Tuggarah Ward which meets in the same building. A goodlooking group! This group is from the United States.
We stopped at Norah's Head Lighthouse to eat our lunch and watch the whales work their way north.  But they were reluctant to give us a showing.  We still enjoyed the great views here.

This is the view looking south toward Newcastle.  A local told us he walks 42 kilometers from Newcastle to Nelson Bay every year along the beaches.  He only takes water with him because the fishermen feed him.  And, he does it in 2 days!!!

Still looking for the whales.  The ocean looks calm but is always in motion. The tide was beginning to rise.

 We had leavers and arrivers this week.  It's quite a challenge to pack the luggage to the maximum weight and size. Yes, it's a headache for those who fly to Asia and the Islands when they can only take one piece of luggage.  We laugh, but know our time is coming.

 Transfer week is very busy.  Monday is transfer day for the whole mission. The leavers head out on Tuesday. New missionaries come on Wednesday.  Thursday is training for District and Sister Leader Trainers.  It's a busy week but we enjoy seeing the missionaries come and go.

As always, mail and supplies are so important to keep them going and whoever comes to the office becomes the postmen for the Zone.  We have a tradition of providing microwave popcorn and hot chocolate for them to eat.  Some weeks we also buy fresh fruit.  They love anything and are so grateful.    

We also had an opportunity to take missionaries to the train station, pay bills, and manage the on line referrals.  We fit our weekly trip to the temple and enjoyed some fun moments.
The Sisters learned that Sister Feil likes the mini dark Tim Tams.  So they became the bearers of good gifts and won their way to the top of the A list!  The only problem, the Elders found them first, opened them and helped themselves to a few.....they made the B list!

Sisters love mail too, especially when your Mom always puts it in polks dots!

From May to November, the whales migrate north to warm waters from the artic to have their babies, and then head back to their feeding grounds.  One of the best places to see them is where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean right off Port Stephens Peninsula.  We signed on a whale watching cruise on the Imagination.  

There were beautiful views as we headed out of Nelson Bay.  This bird is the Australasian Darter.  We have seen him other places drying off in the sun.
Looking back at Nelson Bay, our "ship" carried about 30 people with a crew of 3. Another whale cruiser was chasing us and it was a race to see who would see the whales first.

We headed out past the headlands to where the currents of the two oceans meet.  Remember that is the current Nemo rode in to Sydney.

We were ok in the bay but once we hit the swells, we needed to do something about the motion sickness.  We obviously do not have sea legs yet!

We are fishers of men not fishers of fish.

The armaments on the cliff wall above the boat are left over from World War II.  These rock coves are perfect for hiding boats!  

 This little guy was waving like crazy.  He reminded us of kids in the US always wanting the big truckers to blow their horns when they pass!
This was the original old light house that is not in use anymore.

THERE SHE BLOWS!  It is so exciting to see that  plume of water and air because you know that the whales are right there.  The trick was taking pictures as fast as you could while the boat was rocking.  That is definitely when the motion sickness kicks in!  But it is all worth it to see these magnificent creatures in the ocean.  They move slowly, coming up for air about every 10-20 minutes.  Once you sight some, the boat shuts off the motor and you rock quietly by the animal's side.  Then down they go for another 20 minutes and you don't know what direction they are heading.

It was riveting to see them so close.  The day before, an albino whale named Migaloo had traveled from Sydney, past here.  He comes every year and the locals love getting his picture.  We were, of course, a day late and a dollar short!

But these guys put on quite a show and this picture shows them slapping each other's tail.  Do you call this a "high two" ??

Here is is head starting to come out.  These were hump back whales.  We were on a cruise with several people who had the giant, long lenses for their cameras.  But for our small equipment, we think we did ok!

We did not see them breaching - maybe another day, another cruise.  But tail slapping is quite exciting.

After trailing the whales for two hours, we took a quick tour around Cabbage Tree Island.  It is the home to these rare birds that have red eyes, red beaks, and red legs.  We can't remember their names, but we want you to know that the red eyes are not the fault of the camera!  

There is a small colony of seals on Cabbage Tree and this little lazy guy is taking a nap while we shoot pictures of him!

Cabbage Tree Island also has caves with bats.  We couldn't wait around until dusk to see them.  We wondered if they were as big as the flying foxes we have seen.  A fisherman got his small boat stuck in this cave - the tide came in, a wave lifted his boat up, and he was stuck for a day until being rescued.  Crazy, huh!

Sunset on the ocean, and of course we took pictures.  Before ending our cruise, we saw a number of dolphins cruising around eating the tuna.  It was a magnificent experience to see more of Heavenly Father's creations and the sunset was a fitting end to a glorious day.  Happy Winter Solstice.
So ended our busy week.  We have been reading the Book of Mormon each day as well as George Q Cannon's biography of Joseph Smith.  We have also been trying to keep up on the news in the US/world about all the crazy wars and rumors of wars.  We know that only true peace comes through Jesus Christ and living his gospel.  We know that "...persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent 'til it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; 'til the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say: the work is done."  Joseph Smith.  We will continue to move forward doing our part and hope each of you will do the same.  We love you all!!  Have a whale of a week...  :)
Elder  Captain Ahab and Sister Ishmael ( we may have to read that book too) 


  1. Molly what the two of you have shRed is absolutely wonderful but can't wait to hug you for real again!

  2. Moly we love and miss you. Can't wait to hug you for real!