Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Speaking Assignment Caved and So Did We

This was a week of making adjustments and changes.  While some things don't change others are in flux and we just make different plans as needed. That's a wonderful statement on the temple reminding us of how important our relationship is with the Lord.  And these 3 great young men are examples of dedicated service to the Lord as they teach the gospel and provide leadership to other missionaries-The Assistants.

Sounding the gospel as a trump as represented by the statue of Moroni and the Elders. But seriously, these missionaries always remind us of angels, as they strive to take the gospel to the Australian World.  New Zealand and American coming together to get the work done.  

Hey, what's this?  It's cold outside.  That must be a source of warmth. That container looks suspiciously like a drink mix that will give us nutrition and warm us up.

Milo to the rescue!

No liquid here, but boy, these are delicious.  Elder D is quite a cook - coconut, chocolate, smashed cookies, sweetened condensed milk, and now you have little balls of deliciousness!  Good job Elder D and thanks for sharing with your entire zone.  

This was one of the Elders wanting to use our camera and practice.  That was the most pictures we have had taken of us at the temple - 6 to be exact!

had fun taking pictures.
Companions, companions, companions.  How many companionships can you find in this picture?
 PRESENTING..., the Harbour City Zone at the Temple.  It had rained buckets all morning and the sun broke through just as they were all coming out of the Temple.  So while they gathered we 
This amazing zone includes missionaries from USA, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Tonga, Singapore, and Hong Kong.  They canvas the city, teach English classes, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ every day.  They are very personable, confident and a joy to serve with.  We will continue to help their efforts as we send them referrals, supplies, and once in a while

 A moment of FUN.  They keep us smiling.  Maybe our next mission will be photographing Church members around the world; or better yet, grandkids around the US of A.
By the time the Harbour Suburbs Zone finished at the Temple, the "liquid sunshine" known as rain was washing our world.  So their Zone Photo had to be shot inside the office once more.  This group includes USA, New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, Samoa, and Taiwan.  Can you find the oldest missionary?  

We made certain that we had plenty of fresh apples, oranges, popcorn, and hot chocolate to keep them healthy and happy.  Actually, they all head to lunch at Carlingford Court after the Temple and before they head back to their area for preparation time.  

This zone is in the more populace suburbs south of Sydney.  They include a Tongan Ward as well as another University area so the teaching is varied in age and background.  They speak 6 languages - English, Tongan, Samoan, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese.  All of the missionaries from other countries are learning English and if they choose, they can take an English proficiency exam online with BYU and get a certificate.  Of course, if you count Australian, and New Zealand, then that would be 8 different languages.  :)

We have worked hard at learning their names and how to pronounce them correctly.  They have even learned how to say ours correctly and we love their humor and "photogenic natures".  Whatever that means.  :)

We try not to be partial with the camera, but some missionaries jump into every picture no matter what we do!  Photo Bombing is definitely an art in the mission field.  We have observed it and when we come home, watch out grandkids as we WILL Bomb your pictures!

We also enjoy when they ask us to be in the pictures with them.  We feel that they are our friends as well as fellow workers in the mission.  We wish that our family could meet 200 of our closest friends, but that will problably not happen.  Utah is looking farther away all the time.
Always beautiful are the Blue Mountains and the surrounding valleys and rolling hills.

Normally we are out at a country branch to be helpful and most likely speak in Sacrament Meeting.  But the speaking assignment caved and so did we.  Here's the entrance to the Jenolan Caves. It's a narrow, one-car-at-a-time-entry.  We have been here previously, with our friends, the Williams.  But this time we actually got to tour one of the many caves here.

So, here are the greeters in the Lucas Cave.  Yes they are real and yes they are alive.  It was quite amazing how comfortable around humans the animal life has become.  No, grandchildren, we did not touch or feed them.  That would be against the rules. 

Two Rock Wallabys welcome us as they warm themselves by the "fire", that is some lights on the ground.  We've been trying to convey to you that it can get cold here.  These two prized models prove that it gets cold and any source of warmth is welcome and used regularly. Outside the cave it was about 7 celsius (44.6 Fahrenheit).

The formations in this cave are strikingly beautiful

Well, okay, everything in the cave wasn't beautiful :| But everything was old!

We've been in the Lehman Caves in Nevada, which were amazing.  But this is only one of 13 caves available for touring. Our tour lasted about 1 1/2 hours and had over 400 stairs to climb. We also walk a lot of pathways to see the different areas. Our tour guide, Sasha, was very informative and helpful.

"Going up"! Anyone interested in an exciting ladder climbing experience?  Luckily these ladders are only for the workers to replace the light bulbs.  We found that humorous.

There were some steep places that the early explorers used.  We took the easy and safe way down.

There were over 60 people on our tour and many photos were taken.  There were people on the tour from all over the world.  We really appreciate the multi cultural aspect of Australia.  If we could only speak some other language; but we have come to realize that English is the second language of most.  

Hey! There's a beautiful woman in the cave :).  The backdrop is pretty, also.  Fortunately for the old guy, she's old too LOL.

The earth shifted at some point in time and the column broke. We weren't there when it happened.  We are not that old...yet. The lighting inside this cave was wonderful.

Old is good, right?

Nice backdrop for a shot of the couple.  The guide was willing to take pictures of anyone as they passed her at this point. We just needed to have the camera all ready to shoot.   Even though we are dressed in casual clothes, we have chosen to wear our name tags because they generate questions and opportunities for us to talk about our work and the Church.  Thanks, Sasha, for the picture.

We took most of the photos without a flash.  This was an attempt to show the dripping of water that helps with building the limestone formations in the cave.  There are different ways to do conservation.  There are not any heavy solid doors they close to stop the formations from getting dry as they do in the Nevada Caves.  The environment is allowed to do it's normal work.  The deeper we went into the cave the more dripping of moisture was visible.

We could look down into the River Cave, but that's a whole different tour.  They said the water is very cold and very good to drink.  We hope to come again at least once more and see the River Cave.  Our Aussie friends from church tell us that is their favorite.  

The tooth fairy room is quite interesting to view.  How about this mouth full of teeth?

Toward the end of the tour, Sasha turned on the red, green and blue lights which were strategically placed in order to get this beautiful effect.

There are a lot of steps to take on the way down from the tour.  The surroundings are beautiful.

There are more caves to explore across the way.  You could spend hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours here, but the work is calling and we have miles to go before we sleep.

We were Platypus hunting here.  It's quite difficult to see them during the day.  And it was not our lucky day. Last time we were here we actually saw a Platypus for about 1 or 2 seconds.  They disappear into the water so quickly photos are hard to get.

This is a Superb Fairy-wren we met along the path.  This bird is so hyperactive it was hard to get a good photo.  This was the best we could do before he disappeared into the bush.

Now here's a performer looking for attention.  He was just diving now and then to eat an insect or who knows what.  But he wasn't afraid of the big, bad photographer.

So, the last 8-10 kilometers into the Jenolan Caves is very narrow and bounded by these rocks on one side and a cliff on the other.  These are areas where you must watch for animal life-kangaroos, wallabys and wombats.  Two cars can barely pass and there were piles of rocks that had fallen onto the road.

Duelling cameras! Fun.

We had the opportunity to attend a baptism.  It was great to see another friend join the church.  This was the young Chinese couple that we watched get married.  Now they are continuing their journey in the gospel of Jesus Christ.   The missionaries involved are very dedicated and happy servants of the Lord and have continued to friendship and work with both husband and wife.  We love our association with them in this great work.  On Sunday, we went to the Chinese Ward for our friend's confirmation.  It is amazing to attend church one week with the Polynesians and the next week with the Chinese.  Both cultures are unique yet they come together in the gospel. We love hearing the hymns sung in Chinese and Samoan while we add English to the mix.  We hope that as you read about our week, you enjoy the Spirit of missionary work and love for all we meet.  We  love and miss each and everyone.  Happy Caving - you never know what beauty you will find if you dig deep enough!
Elder and Sister Spelunker

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