Hello from us! This is a really long post! I realized recently that the reason it is hard for me to keep up the blog is because I go so long between posts that it takes me forever to do one blog post. So I have a New Year’s resolution…I will try to blog weekly in the future. This will mean less time spent doing it, I think and you will get the news much sooner than waiting a month in between posts. Stating this resolution publicly will require me to work harder to keep it!
Now to catch you all up on this last month + since I last posted. It is Summer Solstice today here in the Southern Hemisphere. We were told that it gets hot here in Canberra and for the last few days, that is correct. It’s been hot! And we expect more of the same as the summer moves on. We get heat like this in SoCal every summer, so it is not a new thing. It does feel different to experience it at Christmas time, however.
Since I last posted, we have been just as busy as before! We had a Stake YSA activity…”The Amazing Race”. It was so well planned and those that participated loved it! We were one of the check points so we didn’t get to see all the crazy happenings, but we did get a closer look at some Roos on our way home. Here’s some pictures from the event as well as one of the Kangaroos.
The next day we held our Seminary Graduation. It was great with recognition of those graduating as well as Scripture Mastery awards! The Youth of this stake are amazing and so much better prepared to meet the world and serve on missions than we were at the same age! Big kudos to our three great Seminary teachers!
We have continued to teach our weekly Institute classes and we are almost complete with our course on “Teachings of the Living Prophets”. It’s been so good to go back and re-read and study the words from the brethren at the last General Conference. We have seen the Lord’s hand over and over in the guidance and inspiration in what we have taught and to whom we have taught each lesson. Our students are wonderful and we have grown so much from the teachings we have prepared. We look forward with great excitement to start teaching our courses on “The Book of Mormon” starting in February. We will have guest speakers in January and hope the students will appreciate what we have planned.
We attended the Woden Ward Relief Society Christmas Party, as Elder Larkin had been asked to speak. It was one of the best talks he has ever given. What a wonderful thing it is to serve this stake, in any capacity that we can.
At the end of November, we did a re-broadcast of the CES devotional. These timely messages are well received by those in attendance. We have had several new YSA’s move into the stake and we are looking forward to getting to know them better. We love the new infusion of friendships they bring. There is more than one way to increase our activity and involvement. We hope it pulls more in, however.
We were able to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner (even though they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here) with a family from one of the wards. They invited us and all four elders serving in that ward. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed all the “American” dishes in the meal. Since all the four elders were from America, I do believe they enjoyed it too! We all ate ourselves into a food coma, at least! They have two sweet young children and even though it took me awhile, I got their little lovely little girl to give me more than a “I don’t want anything to do with you” look. Here are some photos from this lovely day.
We had a wonderful Fast Breaker at one of the Bishop’s homes on the 1st of December. The bishop and one of the young men showed us a profound demonstration of the love of our Father in Heaven and his son, Jesus Christ. I have written about it in my journal and I promise that in the future, I will share with you what we witnessed. It changed me and I think it changed many of our young people there. I’m sorry to not tell you more now, but it will be better that I save it for it’s own post, I think.
We attended a baptism of a lovely single Mom on the 7th. She has been searching for a good foundation for her two daughters and is enthusiastically embracing the Gospel and all that it has to offer. We were able to help with one of her lessons and enjoyed seeing her take this big step.
After the baptism we attended a Ward YSA end of year activity. They had a paint fight, sizzle and swim. Later they went Christmas carolling. So fun to do summery things followed by something as sweet as carolling. Here’s a few photos. Note the flip-flops while carolling…coudn’t resist..!
We had a wonderful opportunity to attend a CES CCT (Country Coordinators Conference) in Sydney last week. All the CES coordinators for Australia were in attendance as well as another CES missionary couple serving in the Sydney North mission. It was so great to receive training and participate in learning how to make our programs better and increase the ways in which we can help the young people of the church gain stronger testimonies and be faithful saints. On the third day, we attended a church office Christmas party with everyone who works in the church offices in Sydney. That was so fun! Here’s a few pictures. Note the “summer” themed decor hanging from the ceiling with the Christmas tree in the background, the cute “Aussie” version of the 12 days of Christmas as well as the Australian Nativity picture which was one of the decorations on the wall. The food was great, too!
We spent the next day doing some sight-seeing. We’ve been into the center of Sydney, but have not been to the main tourist sites that everyone goes to. We considered doing the Harbor Bridge climb, but (after fighting off my fear of heights) we have decided to do that another day. Seeing the bridge close up and taking photos and videos, I feel like I can conquer that one in the future. As soon as my knees heal from the rest of the things we did that day. We decided to climb the Bridge pylon and take in the view. A few hundred stairs later (the bridge climb has 1300+ stairs!!!, the pylon only 200!), we were treated with a spectacular view of Sydney Harbor and downtown. Here are a few photos from the top. Note the picture with the bridge behind us, the climbers on the right lower side of the bridge. Our plan is to do this in the future!
After climbing down the pylon and the three staircases that lead to the path to the pylon, we decided to go down to the wharf and see the Opera House from there. We had to go down several more flights of stairs that meander between buildings to go down the edge of the wharf. We took more photos there. Here are a few.
We then walked around to the Opera House which is close as the crow flies, but about a mile to a mile and a half in walking. No stairs, thank goodness. We took more pictures climbing more stairs around the outside and entered the building where we found they were giving tours. Great opportunity and we took it, of course. It was fascinating to hear the history of that iconic building and see it’s construction. It required many more trips up and down more stairs! We were allowed to take photos everywhere but in the concert halls as there were rehearsals going on. The halls were amazing! There are two main halls and two sides to the Opera House. On the tour, the tour guide mentioned they had a presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” that evening and after finding out they were not sold out, and did not have a dress code, we acquired tickets! We had a quick dinner right there and purchased a few souvenirs and then climbed back up to the concert hall and got one of the best treats ever…hearing a huge choir and orchestra perform “The Messiah” at the Sydney Opera House! Here are some photos from our tour and looking back as we walked back to the car.
I cannot begin to tell you how exhausted we were and how much discomfort we (especially me) were in after this amazing day! We had considered the Bridge climb for the next day, but after getting up hurting the next day, we spent it enjoying spending time with our CES director and his family instead. Very enjoyable and much more comfortable. It will be the last time we do a week’s work of sightseeing in one day! We really are too old for that!
Before heading back home, we met up with the YSA’s from Canberra who came in to Sydney to view the temple Christmas lights and presentation on Christ. That was followed by the next day with some time in the Temple for baptisms and sessions. This was very enjoyable event for our little group and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Here’s a few photos.
We had our Institute end of term/Christmas party just this last Tuesday. Boy, was it fun! the turnout was amazing and the evening went so well. We held it at a lake/park with many fun things to do. We grilled (had a “sizzle”), swam, played volleyball, talked and ate and ate! Welcome to a summer Christmas celebration, Australian style! Here’s a photo or two. One of our girls let us help her celebrate her birthday!
Well, are you tired of this marathon post, yet? Hopefully not and you’ll come back for shorter and more manageable entries in the future. I will finish off by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will end by showing you our “electronic” Christmas Card that we will be mailing out to some of you.
We are busy…as you can see for yourself! We do have two weeks with no Institute, so we may see some of the sites here in Canberra that we haven’t had time to visit, yet. More is yet to come!
Until next time…