Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Melbourne Experience

A mission gives you many opportunities to meet lots of people.  Our mission provided opportunities to find friends all over the world.  Bishop and Sister Jeffree and Brother and Sister Smith became our friends as we worked together to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Harbour City YSA Ward and found we had much in common, even though they were native Aussies and we were crazy Americans.  As we prepared to return home, Brother and Sister Smith insisted they share Melbourne with us.  We couldn't imagine why it was any different than any other large city, but hopefully these pictures will take you on a journey that will convince you, as it did us, that Melbourne is a city worth visiting. Seeing it through the eyes of friends who love their homeland made it a very special destination.  

Large shopping malls are usually very similar, but this one built in old buildings with character along with Christmas decorations seemed so unique.  The two statues that keep the clock ticking and sharing the time are Gog and Magog.  Read about them in the Book of Revelation and then have a closer look at these two!  That made us smile!  The floors of this mall were beautiful mosaics.  It was hard to keep our mouths shut as we walked through this area several times on our way to eat each day.  

 And then there was the eating...we had read in a travel book that Hopetoun Tea Rooms was THE place to have tea or a meal.  So we enjoyed breakfast here one morning.  Breakfast in Melbourne is quite the adventure.  The commuters come off the trains and then head for Degraves Street where they choose from one of the many restaurants a delicious brekkie!  Restaurant employees/owners are standing outside their shop inviting you to come and try their wares.  Sister Smith had a plan though and each day it was something and someplace different.

Our great leader Sister Smith.  The one on the left.  :)

Instead of the usual "Break Glass in case of Fire"  here is the actual water hose and turn on to put out a fire - Elder is ready for any emergency!

 We stopped by the candy shop to watch them make these cute little Santa candies, then on to the Kola Black shop for the best hot chocolate anywhere - made with lots of cream and dark cocoa.  We love Elder and Sister Smith!

Melbourne is full of interesting sculptures - no purse snatcher would be successful and Sister was looking to see if there was any extra money so she could buy more souvenirs to take home.

One of the large department stores had the windows decorated just like in NYC.  These school children with their cute hats were on an excursion and got to watch the animated story of Santa and the 3 Bears as it was displayed in 5 shop windows.  This is the main train station - Flinders Station.  Between 7:30am and 9am the commuters pour out of this building.
Apparently they had built a new library and this was commemorating the old one.

Automated art at its best.  This head rolls around the paper with two markers in his nose making a masterpiece.  Funny!  And the carousel below is one of the slowest in the world - it moves at about 1 foot per minute, round and round, allowing you plenty of time to get on and off.  Art is in the eye of the beholder, but a place to sit after 2 hours of walking was worth the stop.

 More unusual sites - yarn bombing.  Knitters and crocheters of the world have decided to knit coverings for statues, bike racks, and even this sign pole.  It's all about making the world a beautiful place. Sister Feil will not be participating, because she is trying to finish all the knitting projects for grandkids!

We went to see Les Miserables one evening at the theatre.  We all cried when he sang "Bring Him Home" and enjoyed the acting and singing talent of a member of the church playing the part of Cosette.

Every morning a delicious brekkie.  Aussies do a beautiful job of poaching eggs.  They are always absolutely perfect.  We will practice that skill when we return home.

Elder Feil is waiting with the commuters.  Melbourne is beautiful in spring as they prepare for Christmas.  Elder was able to bust out the jandles.

 When pigs fly!

We managed to take a tram to the beach/port area of Melbourne.  Only Elder Feil remembered his hat on a warm sunny day, but Bishop Jeffree and Brother  Smith each had a hankie and with a little Aussie ingenuity, they protected their heads from the sun.  As we walked to the modern museum, Bishop decided to borrow Sister Feil's hat.  An example of sharing with friends.

This will be printed in black and white and titled "Man in Museum".  We think it may be famous in a few years and worth lots of money!  

 The Melbourne architecture is as varied as Sydney.  Old and New side by side.  Sister Feil loves clocks and this display was right up her alley.

Horse and carriage rides seem to be the fun thing in many large cities, and turn your computer to see this pigeon torturing this respectable statue honoring a former leader and founder of  Melbourne.

Dinner was also entertaining as we attended the Queen Victoria Markets with 15,000 of our closest friends and enjoyed finding food from one of the stalls.  Everything from Spanish paella to sugar cane juice was for sale and eating.  After eating our way through Tassie, we seem to continue the trend and are eating our way through Melbourne.

 The Yarra River which runs through downtown Melbourne provides sculling and boating opportunities for the community.  There were many teams practicing at 7am.  We just arrived a little late for the photo shoot.

 We did not use a car at all and traveled everywhere by tram and bus.  Sometimes, we just got on any tram and took it as far as we could and then decided where we wanted to go from there.  We did that because we were getting tired of walking and riding the tram was rest time.  

We are always on the lookout for funny signs for Elizabeth and this one was great once we got Brother Smith to pose unknowingly with Elder Feil.  We were sad to leave Melbourne and friends because that was our last moment in Australia.  We are  finally coming home and we hated to say goodbye to a country we have grown to love and appreciate.  Our dear friends put us on the shuttle for the airport and waved goodbye until we were out of site.  Thank you Smiths and Jeffrees for the wonderful 19 months of memories.  We look forward to sharing our country with you.  

We flew from Melbourne to Christchurch NZ.  We did not appreciate the fact that this city experienced two earthquakes in a year in 2010-11.  The devastation was incredible in the downtown area as they still struggle to clean up and rebuild.  As with other locations, they have an animal statue that is painted by local artists and will be auctioned off to help support the rebuilding projects.  The giraffs represent Christchurch standing tall as it rebuilds.

This was a city of magnificent old structures with did not do well in an earthquake.  They are struggling to not only repair but to retrofit for any future problems.  After the quakes, they put everything in these storage containers.  As they finish rebuilding, they are able to clean out the containers and restart their lives.  Not sure of the reason for this, but this is two volkswagon fronts put together to form one car.  You can't tell if he is coming or going.  :)

Artists always find the humor and make beauty out of rubble.  Look closely and don't get confused by the perception.

Even the car parks aren't always what they seem to be...

This was our mode of transportation for our tour of Christchurch.  We were on here for so long, the bus driver became our friend.  :)

An expansive view of the city with the Southern Alps in the background.  We will be heading to the Alps tomorrow but for today, we are enjoying our first view of a black sand beach with the wind blowing like crazy.  Christchurch has mountains on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other.

While these homes are no longer occupied, the challenge has been how to get their belongings out without causing a slide.  There have been insurance issues, safety issues, and various problems which hinder the rebuild efforts.  We really came to appreciate their tenacity in overcoming the challenges that continue to hinder even 3 years later.

On the bus with another interesting sign.  We believe it has to do with the lowering of a step for disabled travelers.

On the airport shuttle were 5 US Air Force personnel.  We learned they were flying to Antartica for a few months tour.  There is a separate terminal for Antartica at the airport because this is the most direct way to get to the base.  Being near the 45th parallel means that as we go farther south, we will be getting much colder.  It is crazy to think of being so close to Antartica but we were grateful to enjoy an encounter with the USA in a faraway place.

As the Queen waves goodbye, we head for where else but Queenstown, NZ on our quest to visit every Queenstown in the Pacific Area.  We will never again think of Australia as a tourist place on the map.  It is a place of love and friendship, memories and growth, beauty and experience.  We are changed because we were willing to come here for 18+ months and will never be the same.  A loving Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us and if we are brave enough to follow that plan, we are blessed with friends and experiences that enrich our lives.  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."  (Proverbs 3:5) Be brave, move forward, trust in God and your life will be full.
The Traveling Missionaries

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