Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Night Bush Walk and A Night at the Opera

How ya goin mates and fam.  Lest you think all we do is work, work, work, and play the tourist role, we had a cultural and educational week.  We joined the other senior couples for dinner in Darling Harbour at Adria's - a nice restaurant  that offers an early 2 course dinner menu for $25 per person.  That fit our budget and the food was great.  We do eat a lot of lamb - they do a wonderful job on cooking it and we have come to really enjoy it as an option on the menu.  

 We had bought these tickets way back in April and had done a fair amount of planning for this event.  After dinner, we took some taxis to the Opera House for the performance of The King and I - et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

It was truly an enjoyable experience for our date night.  Working out the logistics was even fun and we were happy that all had a great time.  Of course, there are always a few serious discussions.  But we have become great friends and hope to continue these friendships when we return home.  

In the foyer of the Opera House they had different scenes set up so you could have your picture taken.  Here is Yul Brynner with hair (picture taken by the annoying teacher lady) 

The hall is magnificent and the play was brilliant.  There are several different concert halls and restaurants on site.  This place is huge!  Even though we bought the tickets early, we still could not all sit together.  We were in three small groups through out the hall.  But the sound was magnificent as well as the performances.  

Let the play begin as the monks arrive...

By the end, we were singing "Shall we dance" and "Whistle a happy tune" and of course Elder and Sister Feil were dancing all over the place!

Only Mormons can have this much fun even sober.  We laughed and laughed.  Hopefully you can see the inside of the hall.  They have left it unfinished cement for most of the walls.

Then in this area, they put wood on the walls.  The effect is amazing.

When we came out, the views were breathtaking and and we all felt blessed just to be in Sydney in the springtime.  The photo below is taken from the Opera House looking at the Harbour.  After the performance, we walked back to Liverpool Street through Hyde Park where we had parked our cars at the Church building.  It was a walk of about 2+ k's.  We are amazed at our ability to get around a large city now.  We can do trains, taxis, buses, cars, and use a GPS to find our way around a foreign country.  We CAN do hard things!  Utah I 15 will seem like a walk in the park.

Here is an update on our masked lapwing that is nesting in front of our office - she and he are still sitting.  We think this may be the week as they take about 4 weeks to hatch.  Maybe we should all get a life - but these animals are so different than what we have in the US and we just enjoy watching them.

Speaking of animals, we also rounded out our cultural weekend with a night bush walk in the Bidjigal Reserve which is about 4 k's from our house.  Once again, we carpooled to the Reserve and took our torches ( flashlights).  We needed to dress warm because it was a beautiful evening but on the cool side.  It is a typical spring.

 We signed our lives away in case we were injured, and used the pictures to make sure that at the end we all returned!  President and Sister Barr organized this event, with the Smiths providing a dinner before hand.  We had an authorized guide provided by the reserve as well as a small animal expert.  

The first animal sited was this sugar glider.  He can actually "fly" from tree to tree - well glide would be more accurate.  The expert found him after we had all walked past.  Without our guides, we would never have seen any of the animals.  

Even though the reserve is in the middle of a city with houses all around, when you are out here, you feel completely surrounded by the bush.  We enjoyed the company as well as the learning experience since most of us are Americans.

 This ant home was really quite large - about the size of a large bowl.  One of the guides was actually a plant expert and we learned about the trees and bushes that we see every day.

There is a small waterfall near the end of the walk and these frogs are all around.  They sound very large but are actually only about an inch long.  Yea for our beautiful camera which was able to take this photo.

On our way back from our 4k walkabout, we saw several ring tailed possums.  They are very different from the possums in the US.  The first one we saw was well hidden and far away.  But the second little guy was right by the trail and did a great job of playing possum and posing for the picture.  Possum Magic!

We all made it back safe and sound from the bush - and enjoyed some TimTams for a treat.
We have also been helping our YSA in the Baulkham Hills stake prepare for Songfest as a regional activity.  The format is pretty interesting - they have 12 minutes to perform 1 hymn, 1 small group number and 1 large group number.  The small and large group numbers needed to be songs from the theme - Motown.  We had a lot of fun and work as we sang "Heard it through the Grapevine", "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" and "Wishing".  It was a great experience for us and a change of pace from the work that we usually do.  September has slipped away and we are staring October in the face.  We are busy preparing for the last transfer as well as several weeks of training for the couple coming to take our place.  We are still reading the Book of Mormon each day, writing in our journals, and looking forward to listening to the Prophet and Apostles at conference. Enjoy your world and we will continue to enjoy ours.
Does Lincoln..." have enough guns and elephants for transporting things?"  "I don't think they have elephants in America, your majesty" "No elephants?  No wonder he is not winning war!"
From the Opera House, Elder Feil the King and Sister Feil, the Difficult Woman 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Walk like a Man and Spit

Haircuts - we get them every 6 weeks.  We try different barbers, hair stylists, and shops, and sometimes the results are quite funny...  This time Elder had a new lady who wanted to jazz up the end results.  So when he came back to the office, we were all a little taken back by the upward swoop that she gelled into his hair.  We did not laugh at him but when he chose to pose this way, we couldn't help but have a good time.  So go ahead, enjoy the laugh, and know that at the end of the day the only difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut  is two weeks - or a shower to wash out the gel.  

 Walk like a man..
Sometimes when on other errands, we have been able to feed our Elders in their areas.  This was a quick breakfast with 2 amazing Elders.  The food is excellent here.  You can always tell if the food is any good by how many "tradies" are eating there.  The room was packed with tradies.

Walk like a Manly Man - over the Spit Bridge and on to Manly from Mosman.  There are so many beautiful walks around the Sydney area.  This one involves a bridge called the Spit Bridge.  

It connects two very close peninsulas and came from the phrase - " so close you could spit on it."  But today, it is a beautiful area with quiet bays and beaches.

We parked on the Mosman side of the Spit Bridge and walked across.  Then we came to the area where the actual trail to Manly starts.

We found "Vanna" Feil showing us the way.  It is a 10 kilometer walk along the shore line ending in Manly Beach.  We knew we were going to a baptism and because of our late start, we decided to walk for an hour and then hustle back and retrieve the car.

At times it is hard to believe that you are only about 10 +k's from Sydney.  Of course, we weren't the only people out walking; the locals enjoy this as exercise and the alone moments were nicely spaced.

They have benches at viewpoints - there is that Spit Bridge again with the Manly Man standing in front.  If you want to learn about fauna, there are signs describing the plants.  We didn't want to bore you with too much information.

The above picture should be a poem...but neither of us are poetic.  But we can stand and look photogenic by a big rock!  The layers are magnificent and this had some historical significance, but due to old age, we are unable to remember it at this point.

Along the walk, the path is right along the shore of Sandy Beach.  We were lucky to be here at low tide.  We are guessing that if you try and walk it at high tide, you have to go around to the street at this point.  We found some beautiful white shells to add to our collection.  Now if we can only figure out a cheap way to get all the shells home.

At this point, imagine us sprint-walking back to the Spit Bridge, over the bridge, and into the parking lot to get the car.  Then driving back to this point, finding parking and continuing on the walk.  While we didn't walk the 10 k's, we more than made up for it by going back and forth.
The next little segment had more small beaches.  There are very few houses along in here.  Not sure who owns this stone boat house as well as the abandoned boat.  

The kayakers are everywhere and this one got tired and brought hers on shore for a solitary rest!

Here we are playing the FBI and wondering what the Coast Guard is doing on this beach.  We never figured it out and it still remains a mystery.  

We have shown you the stone pools on the beaches for the littles, but this one was totally fenced in and the kids were having a great time.  This is a harbour area but behind us is a park for them to play in.  There are so many beautiful places for the children to enjoy the water and the land and sand.  No wonder the Aussies grow up loving the outdoors.

Here is a little artistic photography by Sister, the ocean and sand.

Now we are getting to the end of our time but not the end of the walk.  So we sprint back 3 k's again, pick up the car, and zoom ahead to the North Head Lookout.  Brilliant!  And worth all the effort.  Yes that is where Sydney Harbour meets the Ocean and the North and South Head.

And that is our Brilliant Sister Feil with her Manly Man of the hour!  Amazing what you can find on a stroll on the beach - Too Right!

We hustled to Manly Beach for fresh fish and chips.  They are famous for that.  Then we changed in the car into our Sunday-go-to-meetin clothes, passing this old building on the way.  At a red light we had time for a quick pic.  Then, oooops, Elder, we forgot to turn right.  Oh No, we ended up going over the Harbour Bridge twice and 7 minutes late for the baptism.  No worries, the Relief Society President was also late.

We can't resist taking pics of our manly Elders and beautiful Sisters.  This was 2 baptisms by 2 zones - Beaches and City and because transfers had just taken place, a few other missionaries got to come along because they had worked with the two investigators.  This is the chapel with the courtyard right by the baptismal font.  

This is lots of great friends getting together to share in the joy and love of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This picture started out with 3 Elders and grew to this massive group.  Even the Ward Mission Leader got in the mix - he is the older man on the left, married and expecting their first child.  All good fun.

Temple day again.  The Tongan Elder on the left,  asked his mother to send the two fans that Elder and Sister Feil are holding. This was his gift to us!  We were so grateful and brought to tears.  They all decided it should be a picture with only Polynesians and 2 Palagis - the Feils.  Oops, one more Palagi.  He is the Zone leader so he can be in it if he wants.  :)

Baulkham Hills Zone on Temple Day.  We were missing a few "laters".
Remember this is the day we feed them hot chocolate, apples, oranges, and popcorn.  They love it when they come out of the temple.  After the hors d'oeuvres, they head to Carlingford Court, the shopping mall, for lunch.  

 Spring has sprung, the weather is getting warmer, the birds and bees are mating, and our local masked lapwing has mated and is now sitting on her nest in the middle of the field in front of our office. The Manly Mate is guarding.
Her manly mate takes his turn on the nest, keeping the eggs warm.  There should be about 2 weeks left and the babies will hatch.  The joys of springtime down under.
We close with a painting done by a member, from a photo taken of us demonstrating how to dance at the YSA Ward.  We were also invited to a ball to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Emu Plains Ward building.  We danced alot and our fame is spreading across the land.  Ha! Ha!
We love you all and miss you.  The work of the Lord continues to move forward.  We see miracles each week as people find our missionaries and want to know the truth.  We share the joy and love of the Saviour and invite all to come unto Christ.  We are excited to listen to a living prophet, apostles, and seventy's and know that as you listen you will learn how to solve the problems in your lives.
Elder Feil, the Manly One, and Sister Feil, who loves Manly!