Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Accidental Tourist

 This week we entertained, talked to, assisted, fed, and trained a variety of "tourists" passing through our lives.  We even had an opportunity to be tourists on Saturday, which is a regular role that we assume at least a few times a month.  
We have been involved in training on the new referral manager system which handles referrals from all over the world.  We usually get referrals from Salt Lake/BYU as people go to the Church's web site and request information or material.  We then send it to the missionaries who are working in that area.  Other missionaries also get referrals throughout their days and we send those on to other missionaries as well as missions.  
Most of the missionaries who come to the office are there for very specific reasons.  They don't get to just come and hang out with us...they have lots of work to do and so do we.  This is the regular temple trip for 2 of our zones which we have told you about.  When they do come, we are always busy getting supplies, collecting bus/train tickets, catching up on referrals, writing library access letters, receiving baptism records, and getting their mail.  For a short time, the office is a bustling place.  It feels much like a Stake Conference where you get to see old friends and catch up on what they have been doing.

The first picture shows 4 of our sisters who are way out on the west end of the mission and that we don't see very often.  They are a mixture of Aussie/American and bring lots of smiles to our faces when we see them.  We think they are absolutely beautiful, inside and out!  The next picture is of the Penrith Zone - with a few additions.  A few of the missionaries also meet once a week near our office for training/study time and so of course they jumped in and photo bombed.  The two Elders went to a shop and bought matching suits and ties.  We had a good laugh as we noticed their efforts - great zone leaders!  This zone covers some of the coldest places in the mission - the Blue Mountains - which this past week has been in the single digits for a high.  One of the Elders is from Tonga, so of course he is really enjoying a very different experience.

This is the Hebersham Zone which is where we go to church on Sundays.  We see these missionaries quite frequently.  They represent a wide range of countries, Indonesia, Australia, Spain, Canada, America, Japan, Samoa, Tonga, New Caledonia, the Philippines, and even England.  This group also got photo bombed by the Baulkham Hills Zone Leaders who were picking up supplies from the office.  We have finally learned what photo bomb and selfie mean and have even tried our hand at these activities.  The grandkids should be grateful that their grandparents are up to date on the lingo of the 21st century.

 A full moon deserves a photo moment - if Church archives is lacking in pictures of the Sydney Temple, we think we can supply them.  We have also enjoyed taking tours of other temples this week via web sites and are carefully watching the progress of the Indianapolis Indiana Temple where Brandt provides construction expertise.  We hope we can visit more temples before we leave here and look forward to visiting temples where our children live in the US.  Did we mention that we have been able to do the work for 31 ancestors that we have found since coming on our mission?
TOURIST SATURDAY Back to Sydney for a different view - from the top of a double decker tourist bus.  We really are "accidental tourists" as people want to know how long we are visiting Sydney and we say, "18 months".  That always brings more questions and we are able to explain about our mission and about the Church.  Most people don't read the name tags but we hope after they talk to us, they will be more receptive to missionaries the next time they see the tag.  Sooooo....The clock tower at Central Station.  We came here the first month of our mission to sign on a lease.  On Saturday, we finally realized we had been here before and how that related to the whole city!  Maybe we have been here so long we really aren't tourists anymore.
As the bus drives you around for 3 hours, you can get on and off as desired.  For us, it is a great way to hear a few facts that we didn't know before and get a better perspective of the layout.  Here is the Queen Victoria Building - the QVB.  The crystal Christmas tree was in this building.

 The grafitti is professionally done and just adds another dimension to the old and new of Sydney.  By the way, we started Saturday morning at Haberfield, Little Italy, in our favorite Italian Bakery, and some yummy pastries.  We rarely take pictures of food, but who knows, that may change.
This is St. Mary's Cathedral - does this silhouette remind anyone of another famous building???  We were thinking of Salt Lake?

 This is more building art - in Bondi - and we just realized that they have a Saturday Market that we may have to visit before we come home.

This is a park in Dover Heights.  We want to come back here when we can drive ourselves and really take some photos.  The tour busses are on a strict schedule, so the challenge is in jumping up, taking the photo and sitting back down before he takes off and you fall down into your seat.  

The Smiths have come with us several times.  We always seem to fall into some amazing trips together and Saturday was no exception.  They are from Idaho/Nevada which may seem confusing but just means that they are retiring and will be living somewhere after their mission.  We enjoy their company and seem to have similar "travel personalities" which adds to the fun.

Sorry for the redundant photos, but we so enjoy this skyline and never tire of taking photos.  Have we told you how much we love this city, country, and people?  Once you have been here a year, you become completely immersed in the area and your old life seems light years away.  Family and friends keep pulling you back home or you may be inclined to live here forever.

The why of these photos - the top one has so many electric wires in it.  Are there that many electric wire in the US or have we just forgotten?  Maybe it has more to do with the wires spoiling our beautiful view.  And then there are the unique additions to shops - little models that help describe the shop.  This airplane is outside of a children's shop.  This could go in any child's bedroom - any takers?

We have never been to this side of the harbour - Vaucluse, Rose Bay, Double Bay and on to Kings Cross.  We want to come back for a quick run and stop to see the views.  So many places have matching names in England.  They have kept their English heritage much better than the US.  We were the rebellious children. :)

Woolloomooloo is an aboriginal word meaning baby kangaroo.  And kangaroo means "I don't know what you are talking about."  At least, the tour guide is passing this for fact so we can blame him for any inaccuracy!  

These buildings are by the University of Technology Sydney.  Did all of these people decide to grow the same plants??  How do you get this effect without planning?  Just a few thoughts.

The architecture is amazing and the universities abound in Sydney and the surrounding area just like any large city.  We should mention that we are much better at driving/parking down here now and considering that we come from Ely, Nevada and Rose Park, Utah, that is quite a miracle. 

We had heard from the students that the fish market is THE place for fish and chips.  So, off we hop and with a skip and a jump, we are right there in the middle of more fish stores than you have ever seen in Utah.  Of course, New Jersey has a number, but this was pretty amazing.  We did not take enough pictures, because we were intent on getting lunch.  But next time...

There were instructions on how to use the toilet in the women's restroom - no pictures were taken of that either, but it was quite instructive.

The Anzac Bridge - we have been over this twice this week and have seen it now from several different angles.  It is the means of getting us to the Italian Bakery - so you may see more pictures before we are through.

The Wharf area by Darling Harbour also has a Japanese Garden.  We realized that we have not been there yet.  We have so much to do and so little time.  We are adding to our Australia Bucket List.

The views from the Rocks - so called because of the Rocks that were part of the Harbour in that area.

QVB and the symbol over the Customs Building.  The Paragon Hotel/Honey Bee/McDonalds are all part of history and wrapped up in one building.  No we do not eat at McDonalds.  And we do not eat at KFC either.  Just saying...

Being a tourist is hard work and sometimes gets tiring - we have talked to lots of people about our callings and met folks from Germany, Taiwan and Australia today.  Elder Smith served his first mission in Taiwan and we are noticing an improvement in his Mandarin language skills.  We have not found anyone for Elder Feil to speak Navajo with.

 There are so many clock towers and we don't know the history of all of these old clocks.  They remind us that our time is ticking and we must use it wisely.

We met 3 more couples here for dinner.  The Sydney Tower has several restaurants, 4d movie theater and  skywalk.  We were here only for the restaurant that  rotates while you eat.  As for the cost - $85 per person for 2 course meal and $95 for 3 course meal.  We considered this a once in a lifetime meal and with the view and experience, well worth it.
If you have been paying attention, you can now name this Bridge - Anzac.  Yet another view but this time from the Tower.

The added bonus was a sunset thrown in for next to nothing.  

Taking these pictures was  a little tricky considering the floor is moving at one revolution in 65 minutes.  They can crank it up to 1 in 20 minutes, but not recommended when people are eating and drinking.

The reflections and lighting were tricky to work with but we hope this gives you a feel for our experience.  We were the heavy drinkers - lots of "still water" as opposed to "sparkling water".

Who is that guy blocking the view and why can we still see the lights through him??  The mysteries of reflection, light, and cameras is something that also needs more learning.

 While we didn't take pictures of the food we will tell you what we ate.  Entree - Kangaroo Carpaccio and 360 Pate.  Main Course - Seared King Salmon and Roasted Rack of Lamb. Dessert - 360 Platter for 2 - Rhubarb Panna Cotta, Dark Chocolate Marquise with salty caramel ice cream, Pineapple Turnover and Snickers Semifreddo.   
We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the views with a few attempts to capture for history.  There were moments when you felt a little motion sickness but you had to look out periodically.  The kangaroo meat was very good - chewy but good flavor and the pate was also good.  We are not experts on pate so as our experience grows, we may become better critics. We have eaten more lamb here than ever before. Some cuts are better than others but Aussies know how to cook lamb.  Desserts were delicious.  We appreciated the portions and did not leave feeling too over-fed.  

Back to the real world and our feet on the ground.  The week has been very good.  One of our miracles is that we left the office after 6 pm only 3 days!  What does that mean?  We enjoy our work and try our best to keep up on doing what is needed.  We are blessed with work and enjoy being a support to all the missionaries and President and Sister Howes.  We know this is the Lord's work and we are grateful we can be part of "hastening" it in such a beautiful land with wonderful people.  Our time here has been well spent and hope we have had a positive influence on people we have met.  It is our testimony that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and that His kingdom on earth will continue to spread and grow throughout the world.  Our great blessing is to be a small part of the effort to grow the church in New South Wales.  We love and appreciate your prayers and support.  We hope this finds you and your families well, happy and healthy.  May you be blessed in all your endeavors this week.  With love from Down Under, Sister and Elder Feil (The Accidental Tourists) 

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