Our mission is finished!

This will be my last and final post on our missionary blog. I felt there were some things we wanted to share with all of you as well as photos from our last few days in Australia. Our last full day in Sydney was a wonderful warm Spring day and we did some wonderful things. It was an exit day…meaning all the missionaries that were going home were together for all or part of the day. We met some of them at the mission office and then went with one of the exiting senior couples, caught a train to the city and disembarked. We bought tickets for a two-hour Harbour Cruise and then took a walk until the departure. It was so nice spending this lovely time with a wonderful couple. The cruise was also lovely! Here are some photos from this activity. The other couple is the Haynes and they returned to Brisbane. They were office/administration missionaries.

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Look at the close pictures of the bridge…see the teeny tiny people? Yup, we did that! The unique bridge on the bottom, is the ANZAC bridge, also in Sydney.

The rest of the day was also wonderful. But my camera battery ran out of juice, so I didn’t get any more photos of the day. After our cruise, we walked over to the Opera House. We sat on the grass at the Botanical Gardens as we waited for the mission president, his wife and the three exiting young missionaries. After meeting up with them, we joined the young missionaries who get to see the Opera House as they leave. We had lunch right outside and walked all around the building taking photos and seeing it from all angles. Elder Larkin and I have done this before, so it was fun seeing the young ones enjoying it.

We also walked over towards the bridge and stopped and listened to the natives who play their didgeridoo. A unique form of music, for sure. After more exploring for several hours, our group returned to the Opera House to be picked up by the Office missionaries to head to the Mission home. After arriving at the Mission office, we got the car and headed there ourselves. All the exiting missionaries (well, almost all) stay the last night in the Mission home. We had a lovely dinner with everyone and the AP’s. This was followed by a testimony meeting with the three exiting senior couples and the three exiting young missionaries, along with the President Back and his wife. I feel a little sad that I didn’t get photos of any of this but the memories are dear and we will never forget this lovely day! Knowing we were leaving was an emotional time and many tears were shed as we said our goodbyes and what we had learned from this experience.

Here are some of the things we have learned from our mission: We learned to love each other with a greater love than we had ever had before. We learned that loving others is what testifies of Christ and that you can really change other people’s lives by loving them the way Christ loves them. We learned that our Father in Heaven loves us more than any of us know. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to learn and grow and come unto Him through the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We learned that His word is in the scriptures. The wonderful scriptures…the word of the Lord…our lesson manuals when we taught! We are so grateful for being able to teach the scriptures to our Institute students. We learned so much having this great opportunity. We are so grateful for our mission!

Our trip home on Tuesday, the 23rd, was just as much fun as it sounds…NOT! Traveling is hard. Fourteen hours on a plane is hard. Checking in and dealing with an obscene amount of luggage is hard. Checking through customs and immigration is hard. Here are a couple of photos from our arrival. We don’t look too bad for two people who felt like the bottom of a shoe. The last one is us setting up our new phone numbers before we even went home!

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Setting up the home you have not been in for 18 months is also hard. Coming home has been good, but a bit hard… We really miss the wonderful people we met in Australia. We miss our students. We miss the beautiful country. We miss the gorgeous weather and skies. We just miss it. Period. However…on the flip side…

We are grateful to be home. We have seen a bit of family with more yet to see. We have enjoyed bumping into and seeing old friends here…our home. We have enjoyed the hugs and “welcome homes”. We love being on the same continent with our children and grandchildren and the freedom to text and Skype when it is way more convenient. We have a lot more to do to settle in, but we work a little more on that everyday. We have both been called as a Visitor and Home Teachers. We hope to be working in a calling(s) soon. We hope to visit with more of our family very soon. We are just approaching one day at a time. It is good to be home.

The end of our mission brings us to the end of our Larkin Missionary Blog. It will have no more posts after today. I am retiring it…

Until next time????

 

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Two more sleeps!

This will be my last blog from Australia! (And it will contain a lot of photos…so be prepared). It’s hard to believe that we are leaving day after tomorrow to go home! What an amazing experience this has been for us. We never dreamed how wonderful this mission would be! And we are so very grateful that we have had this amazing opportunity and would not trade it for the world! After we return to the states, I will share with all of you what we have learned. We are so very grateful to our Father in Heaven for giving us a chance to serve Him here among loving, good and kind people!

I posted last Sunday, and it is Sunday again. Here are a few highlights to our amazing last week:

We spoke in one of the wards last week…on missionary work! Then hurried to another ward to bear our testimonies. We love being with this great stake! And, the goodbyes and hugs have been happening for a while, now. Here’s a few photos from that day:

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Later that evening, we had dinner with one of the American families along with two of the young elders. Great food and good company. Here’s a couple of pics:

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Monday, we fulfilled a wish we had for our entire mission! We had planned to do it back in December when we had a couple of weeks off of Institute, but it didn’t work out then, so we did it on Monday. We climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge! It was an exhilarating and wonderful experience and something everyone should do just once! They don’t let you take cameras up with you, so these are the photos they took of us:

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The suits are required and are not very flattering, but it’s the price you pay! I thought my fear of heights would be bad, but it didn’t bother me too badly. The 1300 steps were a different matter and we both felt the physical effects for several days. It was ALL worth it! Fantastic experience!

Tuesday was spent prepping for out last week of Institute classes. We taught our ANU class as well as our night class and UC on Thursday. All for the last time! So hard to think we won’t be teaching Institute any more…it’s been so good for us, and we have grown so much as teachers as well as our testimonies! We said more goodbyes to some of our students. Here are some photos from our last classes:

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We had a wonderful Skype call with our replacement couple, Elder and Sister Stendlund. They will arrive in about a month. We are excited for them, because we know how much they will enjoy Canberra Stake and serving there. We also began preparations for getting our flat ready for them.

On Thursday  evening, we had dinner with a wonderful family. The parents are one of our advisor couples for YSA and two of their daughters have been in our program from the beginning. We were joined by another couple here in the stake. They are service missionaries who take care of the young missionaries apartments down the South coast. Here are some photos, but we didn’t get shots with the girls until Friday.

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Friday morning we had two short Skype calls with two of our son’s. One for his birthday and one with the son who is greeting us at the airport on Tuesday. We enjoy talking to both, but quickly finished and started working on things that had to be done for our departure. We went to the bank, got our passports, shipped some things home, picked up some Tim Tams, candies and shipped those home and then prepared to attend our farewell party. The other Larkin’s in the stake organized it and it was fantastic! So many came to attend and there was some fabulous entertainment. We had a Tongan War Dance…Elder Larkin said it was one of the best he’s seen. Mostly performed by our YSA boys and their dance group. Also other Polynesian dances by three of our YSA girls! So good! And a sweet brother sang a couple of songs. There were those who paid tribute, including our first CES director who drove 13 hours from his new home with his two oldest daughters to say goodbye, along with a member of the Stake Presidency and one of our YSA girls! We took photos, hugged, nearly cried, and bid our farewells with sadness in our hearts! But we LOVED it!!! Many thanks to those in the stake who worked so hard on our send off! Now, for photos:

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There were more photos than these, of course…and some more photo bombing, but that’s what you get when you hand off your camera. Actually, we are pleased to have so many photos of such a good evening. WE LOVE CANBERRA STAKE!!!!!!

Saturday we spent a lot of time preparing to leave!. We packed, cleaned and then delivered keys and tied up loose ends. It was a long day. We visited Sister Levine and her parents in the hospital and then headed to Sydney. She is doing okay, but still needs lots of prayers. She is not fully awake, but she looked better to us, with more color and her face seemed more relaxed. We saw this as a positive sign. It’s been a long journey so far for her parents and her. We pray the Lord will continue to bless her.

We are here in Sydney right now and went to church today. Tomorrow we will have a nice cruise of the Harbor with the other departing couples who will fly out with us on Tuesday.

This has been quite a wonderful adventure. I hope to post when we get home and have wifi and other things settled. We send our love to everyone!

See you on the flip side….

 

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Counting down…

First, let me update you on our injured sister missionary. The last word we heard was this morning when her mother posted an update on a special page on Facebook. If you are interested to follow her recovery status, I recommend that you join the page, if you have a Facebook account. Put in a request and someone will let you in. It is called: “Prayers for Sister Kendal Levine”.  Her mother posted that she is now breathing on her own, but is receiving some added pressure to assist her. She has had her sedation and pain meds reduced and is moving her limbs. She also has no current pressure problems with her brain. We pray, now, that she will regain consciousness very soon and be on the road to recovery and being healed from this traumatic injury. Please, continue to pray for Sister Levine. I also spoke with our Zone leader tonight and he said her companion is also feeling a little better and sounding more like herself. Many tender mercies from the Lord, of which we are grateful!

Our countdown is on…we fly home in 10 days!That does not mean our work has stopped and I have much to tell you about our last week.

Last Saturday, we attended a baptism for another YSA! They are happening faster and faster. This was a young man from Ghana. He had the lessons in Africa, but for whatever reason he was not baptized there. After a while here, he found the phone number of one of the bishop’s here in the stake. He called him and asked him where the church was. It happened to be the ward he resided in. The missionaries taught him again and he was baptized two weeks later! His name is Raymond. He is enthusiastic and has been attending our Institute class. Here are a couple of photos of him and the Tongan Elder who baptized him:

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He had an even bigger smile when he came up out of the water! I love baptisms!

Sunday was the Australian Father’s Day, so the children sang in Sacrament meeting and they handed a yummy cookie to all the Dad’s.  We were invited to have Father’s Day dinner with a darling family in one of the wards. What a fun evening with four adorable children and two great parents. It was a lovely meal, too. And, I also failed to get a photo…we just sometimes have so much fun, the idea of a photo just flees from my brain!

We spent Monday prepping our lessons and doing other mission duties. We were also waiting to hear word about Sister Levine, but she had no change that day.

We taught our lessons on Tuesday and Thursday. We have a day class on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as our stake night class on Tuesday evening. Nearly record numbers for our night class as well as the Mission Prep class. Our Thursday class also had a record number with 6 in attendance! We started our Doctrines of the Gospel course and our lesson this week was on Truth. We also had several non-members present in each of our classes this week! The missionary work is so exciting right now!

On Wednesday, we found ourselves at the hospital in the afternoon to see how Sister Levine was doing. They had performed surgery on her the night before to relieve  pressure in her brain, so she was heavily sedated. We did not even go into her room, but spent a half hour talking to her parents. They are faithful, strong people who are taking good care of their daughter. Such a difficult position to be in! We add our prayers to theirs for a complete recovery for their daughter.

After our visit with Sister Levine’s parents we quickly drove to our friend, Susana’s home for dinner. We have been sharing dinners and Family Home Evenings with her family our entire mission. No one in the stake has been kinder to us and we have loved having them be a part of our lives. Here are some photos of our evening there:

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Her two-year old was in constant motion! And her oldest son is serving a mission. He began in Sierra Leone, but was taken out of the country after the Ebola scare. He is now serving in the Brisbane mission. We are so proud of Dion and grateful we knew him before he left! Some of the baptisms we have been having are friends of his who he was helping before he left! The fruits of his labors! After our visit with Susana, we hurried over to Lipou’s home for a visit with the sister missionaries. How wonderful it is to see his progress in the Gospel. He prayed and bore his testimony to us. His countenance has changed and he is truly a happy man! We are so happy for him! Here are some photos we took with a timer on the camera. It was a little low on the table, so the photos are a funny angle, but they’re good.

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After our day class on Thursday, we were able to have dinner at the home of one of the bishopric members of Tuggeranong  ward.  We enjoyed another great meal and the good company of his sweet wife and their two children. We had our “Thanksgiving” meal there last November and love their hospitality to us. They used to be the YSA advisers in their ward until a few months ago. Loved our evening with them!

For the whole 18 months we have been here, we have shopped a lot at Costco. It’s been so good to enjoy several American foods as well as more Australian ones. It’s been a big blessing when we shop for the YSA, also. We met a very friendly clerk there whose smile has just made our day. Her name is “United” and we soon found ourselves looking for her every time we went. We would go several weeks and not see her, but always say hi when we did and go to her check stand. About 6 weeks ago, I found her as we were leaving and went to her busy check stand to greet her. She said, “We need to write” and handed me a piece of paper. I quickly jotted down my email address and handed it back. We have been corresponding since then! She invited us over to her flat to meet her children and yesterday we had that sweet opportunity! It was such a blessing to us to be able to cement what will be a life-long friendship with her. She also brought a friend over with her kids and we found out the friend was a member of the church, but not active! We asked if both of them if they would like to have the missionaries stop by and they both said yes. We are excited to hear how their visits will go and we just wish we could have a little more time to visit with her and her friend again. This has been an amazing experience. Here are the photos from our visit. United is in the pink sweater and her friend is in the striped one. And a photo of their seven combined children:

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And to top off this amazing week we were able to attend a baptism today of another YSA! She is Chinese. Her English name is Cindy. But we were impressed that the Elder who baptized her said the ordinance in Chinese! She seemed very happy and will make a great addition to our group. Here is her photo with us afterward.

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Lastly, I will post a photo we took last Sunday of one of my good friends here. Her name is Eeva and she is a baseball fan and a wonderful forever friend, too! Even if she does root for Rangers! She is especially fond of the Canberra Cavalry, the local baseball team here. Baseball is not a huge sport here and so we immediately took to each other when we found we had this in common. She is also a lovely woman! She attends our day class at ANU.

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As the heading of the post says…we are counting down. We leave Canberra a week from today and fly home a few days later on the 23rd. I hope to put up one more post before our departure, but the time crunch is getting crazy! We are forever grateful for our time here and can’t imagine our life without this experience.  We have absolutely loved our mission and Canberra, its people and all the members of the church and the missionaries will hold a special place in our hearts!

Until next time….

 

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Prayers needed

I started this post yesterday but was interrupted by a phone call from our mission president. He was telling us that one of the full-time Sisters who serves here in Canberra had been hit by a car and asked us to go to the hospital to meet with the District leader Elders who were rushing there. We are two minutes from there, so we arrived and found the elders. After much waiting, and with other missionaries and members gathering in the ICU waiting room which they had placed us all, Elder Larkin and the district leader were finally able to go in to her and gave her a blessing. Fairly soon after, the mission president arrived after a 3 hour drive from Sydney.  She is from America and is in critical condition at this time with head and chest injuries. We left the hospital late last night and have been told today that they are waiting for her to regain consciousness. She and her companion had stopped off the road to take some photos. Her companion was sitting in the car with her seat belt on and she was about to re-enter the car when the car hit her, tore off the door which was open and propelled their car forward. She was pinned under the car that hit her. Her companion was not seriously hurt. Please offer a prayer on her behalf. Her name is Sister Levine. Thank you.

Last weekend we had our monthly Fast Breaker. Our Fast Sunday was  month early because this coming Sunday is Australian Father’s Day. We hosted it at the nearby chapel and then the YSA put on the most wonderful Music Fireside. It was a good evening and we had a real good turn-out for both events. I did not get a single photo. Just one of those things where I had my camera but was too busy. Just know that it was a  great evening. And my pulled pork was a hit!

We spent some time on Monday morning with a couple of Skype calls. We are so grateful for the modern technologies available to us. This was especially evident last night when the mission President had a Face-time call with the sister’s parents so they could talk face to face with the doctor and the President.

On Tuesday we prepared for our end-of-term Institute party that evening. All went as planned until we went to pick up the large pizza order and they not only did not have it ready, they didn’t have the order! So we walked out 1/2 hour later with the pizzas and scrambled to set up and get the party going. Even though I had my camera ready, I again took no photos! I was the time-keeper among other things. It was chaotic fun and Minute-to-Win-it games were never more lively! We had another good turn out!

We have received several dinner invitations for the last few weeks here and had a lovely dinner on Wednesday with the parents of one of our YSA missionaries. Good food and good company. An enjoyable evening. No photos!

We are preparing for our new course of study, “Doctrines of the Gospel” which we start next week, as well as preparing things for the CES Missionary couple who will take our place here about a month after we go home.

We leave Canberra in 2 weeks and fly home a few days after that. Looking forward to coming home, but so reluctant to leave so many friends we have made here! Since it had no photos to share this week, please enjoy the one I took of a cheeky Australian Magpie that hopped into our flat looking for his bread crumb handout a couple of days ago, as well as some photos I took of our oncoming Spring:

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Please pray for our sweet sister.

Until next time….

 

 

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Two more YSA Baptisms and more!!!

I have attempted to find time for a post in the last two weeks, but many things have taken priority. So, here we are! We are in the final weeks of our mission. We will fly home in about 3.5 weeks and we have about three weeks left here in Canberra. There has been a lot of things happening so I will get to it!

I enjoyed a Skype call a couple of weeks ago with a good friend back home. It is always fun to connect with friends and we really hope we will be able to stay in touch with everyone in one way or another after we return to the states.

On the 16th, we had the wonderful opportunity to go to another baptism of one of our YSA’s. His name is Anau. We have seen quite a lot of him in the last few months and it was so good to see him take this big step in his life. The Monday before we were invited to a lovely evening at his home. His mother prepared a lovely meal and the sister missionaries gave a short message to the family. Anau joins his brother, (who is on the left in the back row of the second picture) who baptized him into the church. His mother is the cousin of our friend, Lipou. They are a Tongan family. Here are some photos of that Family gathering, as well as Anau’s baptism:

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The day after the baptism, we attended two wards so we could witness the confirmation of both Caleb (see previous post) and Anau.  It was so good to watch these two young men change their lives and brings some of their friends along with them! That same Sunday evening we attended our regular Stake YSA FHE at the home of one of the Advisers. They graciously provided dinner for all of us that night and it was delicious! We had a record turnout for this event as 47 YSA’s were there! (Was the food an incentive…perhaps!) As you can see in the photos, we spilled ourselves onto the floor and into two rooms!. The lesson was taught in the hall between them. It was a wonderful, fun evening and I took a lot of photos. Here are some of them (sorry for the overdose, but it was so fun!):

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In the week following this event, we taught two lessons, each as we substituted in Seminary for two days. So we spent some serious study time for a few days! It was a good experience and we loved being with the younger kids. They were really good to us, too! It was a bit tiring, but we loved it! In between all this crazy, we do the laundry, shop for food and do a little cleaning here and there.

On Friday of that week (the 22nd), we had a mission Canberra Zone Conference. These are always worthwhile and we never tire of new thoughts on how we can do our missionary work better. The young elders and sisters are the best! We really enjoy them and love being able to work with them. And, of course, it’s always good to see and chat with President and Sister Back. I got one photo and since I took it, we are not in it. But here is the Canberra Zone:

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We also said goodbye to one our YSA’s this last week. Dannie moved back to his native Samoa. He breezed into Canberra a few months ago and really left his mark. We will miss him. Here’s our photo with Dan (and yes, he’s a TALL one!):

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The day after the zone conference (Saturday) we had another baptism of one of our YSA’s! This time, it was David. He’s a great young man and we were excited for him! It has been such a good thing to see so many young people join the church and feel of its spirit! Here are some photos of David’s baptism:

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The day after David’s baptism was last Sunday. We spoke in one of the wards and said our goodbyes. There are four wards here and that was the first of our last four Sundays in Canberra, with us going to each ward one more time. We are having a farewell party the night before we leave, given by our good friends, the Larkin’s! On last Sunday evening we were invited to a family home for a lovely Tongan dinner. It was delicious! And the real deal! Elder Larkin was in Tongan heaven! We brought more food home than we ate and enjoyed it for three days! Here are a few photos from the evening. One of them was taken by the four-year old daughter!

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We taught our last Book of Mormon lesson this last week. Because we  wanted to finish the course, we had asked for an extension on our mission several months ago. We were granted that, and it was worth it! We have loved teaching this course this year. And what a wonderful book of scripture! We have both gained a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon by studying it in-depth and then teaching it! We thank our Heavenly Father for this great opportunity! We bear testimony of its truthfulness. For anyone who has not read The Book of Mormon, please read it for yourself. You will learn to love your Savior and his Gospel!

We held our YSA Committee meeting this week. It was productive and it really needed to be. We had to cover two months worth of information because the missionary couple coming in to replace us will not be here for about a month after we leave. We love these young people so much, we don’t really want to leave them. But they are great, and with a little assistance, things will go on in our absence. It’s hard to believe it’s almost time to go home!

We had a lovely rainstorm this week. And while we were driving to our class, I caught this magnificent rainbow right over the Parliament building! Enjoy!

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We helped out the Zone leaders and Sister leaders this week by letting them use our computer and Skype account for a training meeting held in Sydney. These guys are amazing! They worked so hard and this meeting was Skyped in from four locations. Quite a feat…but a lot better than everyone driving into Sydney. This is a LARGE mission! (But not as big as Adelaide or Perth!) I caught a couple of photos of them:

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Lastly, I will show a photo of our friend, Kevin. Kevin runs the chaplaincy at ANU.  He is a friendly man and very helpful to the missionaries as well as other churches who use the facility. A very good man!

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Well, that’s it for now! Whew! What a post!

Until next time….

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Tick, Tick, Tick…

Greetings from us to all of you! It has been two weeks again since my last post. I can honestly say we have been very busy, but with the clock ticking down, that’s exactly as we like it! On Sunday, 4th August, we were able to be a part of the Aaronic Priesthood ordination of our friend, Lipou. Elder Larkin stood in the circle as Lipou’s uncle (here from NZ for his baptism) ordained him and gave him a wonderful blessing. Lipou is doing well and everyone has been so good to reach out and fellowship in a good way. Also on that Sunday, we helped teach a Sunday School class for the YSA’s in one of the wards here. Their advisors/teachers have moved South. We also attended our monthly Fast Breaker in the evening at the home of our Stake President. It was a very good evening and we met new people and worked at getting better acquainted. Here are a few photos from that evening:

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We had the chance to drive to Sydney on the 4th of August for a Senior missionary couple FHE at the Mission President’s home. These are fun, but the drive can be long. This time, on our way, we stopped briefly in Goulburn which is a little over an hour outside of Canberra. There is a huge sheep statue there and we just had to stop and take the tourist shots with it! So here we are in front of the Big Morino sheep. Also is our photo from our FHE. Our new mission president and his wife (President and Sister Back) are front and center.

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Of course, we continue to teach our classes. We are nearing the end of our Book of Mormon course. Our last one is at the end of the month.  We are so grateful we have been able to stay long enough to finish the course and we will confirm that our own testimonies of this amazing book have been firmly cemented within us and we hope in our students, too. We love The Book of Mormon and we are thankful we have been able to testify of its truthfulness to our students. The following weekend (8-10 August) was our Stake Conference here. On Friday, the 8th, was a family Stake dance. It was a Carnival theme.  This was so much fun! There was a great photo booth set up, face painting, and a great group of stake members who made up the “band”. There are some mighty talented people here. Many of our YSA’s did the decorating as well as one of our talented girls doing all the face painting. Here are some photos of all the fun! And yes, we actually danced a little this time. image image image image image image image imageimage

Sitting next to the photo booth allowed us a chance to sneak a photo of our wonderful Stake Presidency! What a bunch of clowns!  😉

Following the dance, we had a couple of days of great Stake Conference sessions. It was as wonderful as usual with great messages about many things. Loved every minute of it. We also said goodbye to missionaries that day as it was transfers. We had three from the stake here that we’re going home on Monday, so we said our tearful goodbyes. One was sweet Sister Pea, who went home to Tahiti. She is on the right, in the coat. She and Sister Sauaki (from Tonga) were the ones who taught Lepou. (Along with Sister Sauaki’s previous companion, Sister Burgess…also from Tahiti). We will surely miss her. Here are some photos.

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On Saturday of that weekend, we also helped with the Stake Young Men’s and Young Women’s Service project. We helped with the fleece blanket tying while others did the cooking of the meals made for the homeless. I failed to take photos because I spent my time instructing on the blankets, but I caught a couple of the cooking project. Here they are:

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That Sunday night we attended a ward YSA FHE. It was a good turnout and an excellent lesson and food. We had several friends there who are not members of the church and this gave our young people a chance to fellowship. Elder Larkin and I had a good discussion about the church with one of the girls visiting that night. She’s from a Muslim background and has some great questions. She also attended our Institute class the following Tuesday. We hope we can have a future opportunity to teach her again. Here’s some photos from that evening.

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We met with the Stake Presidency member that guides us here on  Wednesday of this week. Since we are leaving in less than 6 weeks (!!!) we had several things to discuss for the transition to the new senior couple coming in to replace us. They won’t arrive until about 2.5 weeks after our departure so we wanted to make sure some things were in place.

The highlight of this week was a baptism last night of one of our YSA’s. His name is Caleb. What a good young man! So proud of him and the choices he’s made. He’s been a regular at Institute and other YSA functions for a while now. I forgot my camera! But I caught a couple of lower quality photos from my iPhone. It’s always a bit tricky when you hand your camera to someone else. Anyway, here’s our photos. Had to include the cute cupcake toppers by one of our YSA girls ,

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Ok, that’s it for now. We have a baptism tomorrow night so look for photos of that next week. We are happy and anxiously engaged!

Until next time….

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Two week catch-up!

Yes, I missed a week. But last weekend was a bit crazy and wonderful and there was just not time for a post. So here we go with catch-up!

On the 19th of July we held our Seminary teacher’s training session. I have mentioned it before, and I will again…we have three of the BEST Seminary teachers! Love them and their dedication to their callings…even in the face of chaos! It was a productive meeting.

On the 20th of July we attended a wonderful get together at the “other Larkin’s” in the stake. They currently serve as the advisor couple to the Mission Prep class. They are fantastic at their job and had a fun get together at their home. After a fine meal and a watching a video of President Monson’s announcement of the age change, we ended the meeting with a rousing game of Spoons and Apples to Apples! It was fun introducing some of the YSA’s who have not played these games before. Here are just a few pictures from the 45 or so I took that night. My favorite…the blurry one when everyone went for the spoons.

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What a fine bunch of youth this is! One of the girls, Brittney, is leaving on her mission tomorrow. She travels to the states to attend the MTC in Provo where she will train as a visitor center missionary. Then she will fly back to New Zealand to serve! Also in this bunch is another young man waiting for his call! (The one with his spoon above Elder Larkin’s ice cream!) They’re terrific youth!

Here’s the photo with us and Brittney, (the blonde) and also our photo with Keisha. Keisha came to us from Canada a year ago to live and work here as a Nanny. She leaves to return to Canada in a week. We will miss her very much:

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Also during that week, we attended a ward FHE, taught with the missionaries, had our YSA committee meeting, as well as prepared and taught our regular classes! It was a fine week and then got more crazy at the end!

Last Friday, a week ago, we held a stake YSA dinner and dance! It was a Rock and Roll theme and the YSA’s and we spent a great deal of time getting it ready! But that’s half the fun, of course! What a fun group! They came through for the decorations, food and other assignments! And it was a blast! It was, in part, to say good-bye to the two girls as well as one of our advisor couples who is moving to Sale (South of here by a few hours). We had a cute photo booth and some of the crazy stuff they’re wearing was from the props! Here are some photos from that night:

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The very next day was one of the highlights of our mission! We were able to attend the baptism of our good friend, Lipou! We so admire his courage and faith in choosing to enter into covenants with his Father in Heaven and so proud of him. It was so sweet to see his glowing smile. We have attended his lessons with the sister missionaries for months as he has been learning more and more. It’s been the best experience. The following day, Elder Larkin was able to confirm him a member of the Church and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost upon him. He gave Lipou the most amazing blessing that day! Here are some photos. In the first photo, from left to right, is Lipou’s good friend in the church, Brother Tim Kalonihea, who baptised him, Sister Sauaki (from Tonga), Samuel Libeau Prescott, Sister Pea (from Tahiti), myself, Elder Larkin and Solomone Ahokava, who recently returned from his mission in Tonga. The second photo, Sister Kalonihea has stepped in. In the third photo, Elder Webb (who was one of the first missionaries to teach Lipou) and Lipou’s children are in the photo. The next photo includes two other sisters and friend of the children and the last photo includes Lipou’s uncle who flew in from New Zealand for the event. His uncle served as a missionary in Tonga around the same time as Elder Larkin’s first mission, but, sadly, they did not know each other, then.

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On Monday this week, we helped one of the sisters in the stake make some purchases for a Youth Service project which will be coming up. Since she asked us to help, we went with her to make the purchases, also. It was fun being in a craft store again. But elder Larkin was a bit bored! We also had FHE with Lipou and talked about our feelings at his baptism. I noticed a change in his countenance! He has other Tongan friends who have wanted to be baptised, but have not had the courage. He hopes that his example has helped them see they can make that change.

We are so grateful for being able to teach our classes this week. Our CES coordinator came and visited two of our classes as well as the Seminary classes. We love our students and we really love to teach. Getting to the end of the Book of Mormon means we are getting to the end of our mission. I’ve hesitated to talk about it because we are sad it has to come to an end. We have just a few weeks (7) left and even though we are really looking forward to going home, we will be sad to leave all the wonderful friends we have made here. One really good thing is there is a couple who have been called to fill our place. They are from Oregon and will arrive less than three weeks after we go home. We would have loved an overlap, but it just didn’t work out. We have had, and will have a few more Skype calls with them to give them information that they will need.

I was faced with some tech challenges again this week. It seems to have been one of our biggest challenges. But we testify that we have been sustained by our Father in Heaven as we have served and we are so grateful for the Tender Mercies that have been given to us. This experience has been amazing! We are so grateful we have been able to be missionaries here!

Until next time….

 

 

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