Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Palagi Fourth of July

The strangest of holidays is the Fourth of July in another country.  What makes it odd is that you celebrate the 4th of July all of your life in the summer - picnics, water games, fireworks, family, friends, carnivals, rodeos, parades, all of the memories you can conjure up about the 4th have part if not all of these events.  And then you come to the southern hemisphere.  July is now the dead of winter.  The sun goes down at 5pm, it is cold (relatively speaking), apples and pumpkin abound, hot soups, warm indoor activities; how does the 4th of July celebration fit in here in Australia?  Well the following will tell you how we made it work!  We started with pumpkin pie.  You cannot buy canned pumpkin.  Australians love their pumpkin, but they do not can it.  It is roasted, boiled, fried, baked, but never canned.  And it is a savory vegetable.  They cannot imagine eating it sweet like the Americans.  But we all know the Americans have the sweetest appetities in the world, so have no problem eating sweet pumpkin.  You buy a pumpkin, roast or boil it, scoop out the pulp, blend it in the blender, and TA DA, pumpkin for pie.  Then you share with 25 of your closest missionary friends who like pumpkin pie as much as you do.  That is a celebration all by itself as the Sisters in this photo are trying to express!  Oh we also whip the cream and add SUGAR - a strictly American tradition. 

On to the picnic part... remember it is now cold and dark on the 4th of July.  The day was clear, beautiful and sunny, but we all had to work.  The 4th of July is not a recognized holiday in Australia.  But we know they still love us! So we barbecued the hamburgers and hot dogs on the grills outside.  Aussies do love a good barbecue grill, and we have two close by.  We are all wearing our  sweaters and jackets of red, white and blue. 

We rearranged our small flat to accommodate 20 people.  It was actually quite comfortable and everyone brought the typical 4th fare of potato salad, baked beans, chips, watermelon and cantelope, and ending with chocolate cake from Costco, which is very American. 

Because we work in different areas, we don't always get to visit so this was a great opportunity to eat, visit, and share stories.  Remember how young couples always talk about having babies?  Well old couples tend to get a little morbid and tell stories of aging, death, and wills.  Not to mention the aches and pains.  We did throw in the Tabernacle Choir singing  the Battle Hymn of the Republic which added some excitement and holiday feel.  

We had some funny moments and ended the meal with Magnum Ice Cream Bars.  These couples work in  Public Affairs, the office, Legal, Family History, Self Reliance, and Temple.  

 They come from Florida, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Texas, and Australia.  That was a pretty good mix for an evening of fun.  

The Temple President and his wife were born in Europe during WWII so they shared their inspiring stories of how their parents were able to escape the horrors of war and make their way to Australia to freedom and a better way of life. They both joined the Church as twenty year olds and were the only members in their families. We all felt inspired and appreciative of the freedoms we have grown up enjoying in America and realized that for many others, Australia was their land of opportunity and liberty.  

 As we work with all of these great couples, we appreciate their strengths and talents.  Serving together creates unity as we learn from each other. We do not serve in the same ward, but we feel sometimes like we are our own ward - and we don't mean the geriatric ward!  Many will remain friends long after they return home.  

No good 4th of July Celebration is complete without the fireworks.  We did not have to call in the fire department as the only legal fireworks are small sparklers and it is a chilly 14 degrees celsius - you do the math.  Notice the clothes line in our side yard.  We have not told you that many here hang their clothes out to dry even though they have clothes dryers.  The air is clean and sun is radiant and we enjoy hanging out the laundry.  We have picked out a place for a clothes line in Lehi.  

Imagine the Star Spangled Banner being played as well as every John Phillip Sousa March for the 1 and 1/2 minutes the sparklers were burning.  We have seen some magnificent firework displays here in Australia, but that is when the Aussies are celebrating.  It was a grand finale to a very lovely evening.  We are crouching down because with the camera on timer and sitting on the barbecue grill, we thought we were too tall and didn't have time to adjust as the sparklers were burning....

This was our first Ward Dinner in Mt. Druitt.  They had a no talent talent show.  The Primary kids sang songs from Frozen.  Kids all over the world love that music.  The stage in the cultural hall had lots of lighting effects.

We forgot our camera and had to rely on the Elders to provide pictures.   We are not sure what this hat is but the kids in the ward sure had fun trying it on and watching the Elders try it on.  Group after group performed dances and songs.  They did an amazing job of lip syncing and we threw ourselves into the ring by dancing a waltz and a swing in between acts.  They thought that was amazing and we received many compliments on how agile we are for being so old!

There was more food at this gathering than we have ever seen at a ward function.  They know how to feed you.  Kids love to run around to music - did we mention that there was a DJ at this ward dinner?  Evan Adams would have loved the Feed - mostly meat with a little vegetable on the side.  There was one small green salad which Elder and Sister ate.  One of the members saw Sister Feil's plate and decided she did not have enough food, so he added a large slice of pizza.  "Palagi (all non polynesians) eat to live, Samoans eat 'til the food is gone, and Tongans eat 'til they die."  by Elder Afu

Our baptism story this week is another miracle.  This young man was interested in learning more about the Church and had come to the Temple grounds to find missionaries to teach him.  The temple workers took his name and phone number and gave it to Elder Feil.  Sister Feil put it in the referral system and sent it to the Dural Elders.  They began teaching him that week and asked Elder Feil to help as the member present.  Nick has a humble attitude and has earnestly been seeking for truth.  He was baptized yesterday and will be confirmed today and receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  The ward provided a beautiful luncheon after the baptism and we felt blessed to be a part.  We were not able to participate in Brandon's baptism this week, but we are just as excited for his progress and know that he also is making a good choice to follow the example of the Saviour.  We know that the power of godliness is manifest in the ordinances of the gospel and we know we are blessed whenever and where ever we participate. We were with you in spirit Brandon. We love and miss you.  God Bless America and Australia!
Ta Da and Cheers,
Elder and Sister Feil
The dessert was cake and ice cream.  They had two five gallon buckets of ice cream.  No one went home hungry because after the dinner, all food was divided up and taken away.  We had a great evening and laughed and visited with these cheerful church members who really know how to have fun.

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