Monday, October 26, 2009

October 1, 2009. We went with Sister Pasina and Sister Staples to Mt. Beauty to have a hangi dinner at the Greenings.
Erin Peacock was baptized on September 26, 2009

September 21, 2009. We had some chicken kebabs on the barbie by the Murray River. We fed the ducks and a very persistent magpie.
September 21, Sally Carter and her girls spent the night on their way to Melbourne. Sally plays various instruments. This is called the hurdy gurdy. It is wound by a handle and the pegs on the front are played like piano keys. On the inside, the wooden sticks press on strings like a violin. It sounds much like bagpipes. Very interesting, but I wouldn't want to hear it all day.
On the 14th of September we drove out to the Weir (Lake Hume Reservoir) It was a beautiful clear day and the lake was perfectly still. Notice the tops of trees in the background. We have had quite a bit of rain since then and the lake is even higher.

On Sept 14, 2009 we took the Sisters to the Oz.e.wildlife park for a BBQ and some fun with the animals. This kangaroo wanted the food, he didn't think I was feeding him fast enough, so he took the bag out of my hand and helped himself.
This little koala kept us entertained watching him nibble on the eucalyptus leaves.

These beautiful black swans have three little babies, called signets.

This beautiful fellow put on quite a show for us...and his lady friends, they wanted nothing to do with him, but we enjoyed the production.

Shoes worn out in service to the Lord!
August 23, 2009. The Branch held a Welfare Evening. President and Sister Nielsen did a workshop on cooking with wheat. Howard made his famous wheat pancakes, which were the big hit of the evening. We served cracked wheat cereal, popped wheat, wheat sprouts, homemade syrup and homemade brown sugar. There were workshops on finance, education, employment, spiritual, emotional and mental health preparedness. We enjoyed a demonstration on 72 hour kits and a pot luck dinner of dishes we prepared from food storage. It was a great evening.
On August 17 the Wangaratta District met in Beechworth. Here is our District Leader, Elder Kahaiali'i beside a statue of Ned Kelly, infamous Australian outlaw. "Such is Life" were Ned Kelly's last words. The rest of us only came up to the bottom of Neds' sleeve. Elder Kahaiali'i will be returning to the BYU football team after his mission.
Just south of Beechworth is a place called Flat Rock. This is the beautiful view looking west.

Our guides took us to a lovely little cafe where we were treated to some "European Hot Chocolate," so rich and delicious we had to eat it with a spoon!

Friday, October 23, 2009

July 27, 2009 was a transfer day. Our flat was the meeting place for the moving of missionaries and belongings. These Elders are efficient and organized!
Did you ever wonder where Sesame Street is? It is in Wodonga, VIC, Australia!

Sheep and lambs at Morgan's Lookout, Walla Walla, NSW, Australia. July 20, 2009.

Morgan's Lookout, Walla Walla, NSW, AU. Morgan was a bush ranger who used the rocks as a hiding place. These huge boulders are all by themselves in the middle of paddocks; from the top of them you can see for miles in all directions.
July 17, 2009. Spiritual Spa Enrichment Activity. I was assigned to do the session on the Sense of Smell. I had a crock pot of wassail and we talked about how certain smells can bring back wonderful memories; sugar cookies, bread, pot roast on a Sunday, newly cut grass and so on.
There were also classes on the senses of hearing, sight, touch, taste and spirit.
It was a wonderful evening.

It was our turn to do the flat inspections again in July. We enjoy visiting the missionaries and seeing the sights as well. On this trip we stayed at the Church Farm near Griffith, Kooba Station. It is 115,000 acres of cattle ranching and some crops. This is the homestead. We stayed in the wing to the left.
Howard is standing in the Lounge Room

The beautiful grand piano in the main living room.
Notice the lovely stained glass windows.
The main entry into the homestead. The home is full of this wonderful antique furniture.
Master Suite in the Homestead.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

June 29, 2009. Such an unusual cloud formation, I could not resist shooting it.
June 29, 2009. We went to Kathleen's for tea, but she was not there, so we visited with Joel. Kathleen kept calling, clearly having some sort of emergency. Joel finally said her car had broken down near our home and could we please drop him off. When we got to the house, I noticed that lights were on that I had turned off. We went in to find the house all decorated, dinner on the table and food prepared. Katheen had made arrangements with the Sisters to unlock our doors on their way out that afternoon. What they didn't know was that Howard checks and locks all the doors when we leave. So, Kathleen arrived, two kids and dinner in tow and could not get in. She went to a neighbor and asked him to help her break in. They could not get the sliding door to open, so she said, "Okay, we need to pray about this."
So they both knelt down on the cement and prayed. After two more tries the door opened. I don't know if the man is religious or not, he has not responded to our thank you note, but he will definitely believe in the power of prayer!
42nd Anniversary Dinner. Kathleen doing dishes in the background.
Christmas in June Zone Conference, June 22, 2009. Sister Lindley and Elder Petty wearing the new scarfs we received to remind us to be "Righteous in the Dark." It is winter here, the days are shorter and we are in need of the inspiration. The scarfs are embroidered with AMEM, (Australia Melbourne East Mission) Gloves arrived a few weeks later.

On the top of Huon Hill is this interesting plaque telling how far we (in Wodonga) are from just about anyplace of note in Australia. Just to the lower right of the date is a very long name. It is all one word. How would you like that on a spelling test?
June 15, 2009. Sister Zhang's last day in the Mission Field. We got Subway sandwiches and went to the top of Huon Hill in Wodonga. It is a lovely view of the entire area. We had a terrific time, but we will miss this humble and sincere servant of the Lord. This picture is looking south toward Mt. Beauty.
June 11, 2009. We had a branch activity which was a farewell party for Sister Zhang. We had a great turnout and a wonderful time. Here Sister Zhang pulled the string on a "popper" that shot confetti across the room. She is a cutie.
June 8, 2009. The Wangaratte District met in Beechworth for our Preparation Day and the last P-Day for Sister Zhang and Elder Pauna. It was rainy, but we didn't care. June is the middle of winter here. We drove down a narrow one-way road through "the gorge." We had all stopped to look at the scenery when another car came along and we had to move our cars. President Nielsen thought he could four-wheel in the Camry. The left rear tire is about 18 inches off the ground. Fortunately the other three tires were on solid ground. We love our little white Camry!

President and Sister Nielsen at "the Gorge," Beechworth, VIC, AU. Looking north toward Wodonga.

Friday, October 16, 2009

June 6, 2009. Sister Kathleen Smith went to the Temple in Melbourne for the first time. She has worked so hard for this blessing and was touched by the Spirit there. Sister Nielsen went along as her escort. After the session those who attended met a the mall for lunch.
L-R : Ali Ziegelbauer makes arrangements on the phone,
Sister Nielsen, Kathleen Smith, Lisa Smith (no relation)

L-R Sisters Sykes and Zhang, Vincent Ezou, Kevin Clacy, Sister Nielsen, President Nielsen.
Monday, June 1, 2009 was the baptism and confirmation day for Vincent Ezou. Vincent is from Togo, Africa. He is thirty years old and totally delightful. He has a strong testimony of the Gospel and is eager to learn more. His brother, Joseph and two of his kids attended the baptism. The rest of his family lives in Togo. The Spirit was so strong in the meeting most of us were in tears. Vincent will be a great blessing to this Branch. We have enjoyed teaching him and getting to know him.

The weekend of May 29-30, 2009 we were blessed to be taught at the feet of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He came to our mission conference and we feasted upon his words for two days. We were amazed at his insight, humor and delightful personality. What a wonderful weekend.
We found some time to go to the Dandanong Market. It is a place of many sounds, smells, sights and textures. Wares of every kind are one sale there usually for pretty reasonable prices. Here President Nielsen tries to decide which veggies he wants to take home.

On the last day of the Senior Couples Conference we attended the Temple. It happened to be our Branch Temple Day as well. Brother Thickins and Brother Bishop went through for the first time in many years, Alfred George did baptisms and Robyn Williams did confirmations. No way was she getting in the water again! L to R Sister Zhang, Marg Goode, Don Thickins, Alfred George, Robyn Williams, Sister Nielsen, Sister Sykes and Rob Bishop.

Baptism of Rose Nugent

Rose Nugent was baptized on May 9, 2009. We had been teaching Rose for some time. She has had a difficult life, but feels the Spirit. She is deathly afraid of water. Howard was in the font waiting for her and I was standing behind her. She could not enter the water. She saw one of the little girls in the Branch smiling at her and said, "I can't let that cute little girl down." So she went in and was baptized and, of course, her hand popped up and she had to be baptized again. This time she came out of the water beaming and she has been smiling ever since.

Baptisms and Beautiful Places

On the 15th of May we traveled to the southernmost tip of Australia, Wilson's Promontory. We stopped at squeaky beach, only problem was that the beach only squeaks when it is dry and it was a cold and wet day. It was still beautiful and we had a great time, rain and all. The Senior Couples Conference ended with a trip to the Melbourne Temple and a testimony meeting. We are so blessed to be able to serve in this beautiful country.
On May 14the we attended the Senior Couples Conference in Melbourne. There are six couples in the mission. We rode the steam train, Puffing Billy. It was so much fun. Billy was not too long ago, the main way that people on the mountain east of Melbourne took their products, animals and families to Melbourne. Now it is a great trip up and down the mountain! We were not brave enough to sit on the side like these kids.

Christian Agbauze was baptized in Finley on May 2, 2009. We had been teaching him with the Sisters. He moved to Finley where the Elders finished teaching him and baptized him. Christian is from Nigeria. We went with our district to the Oz.e.wildlife park again, which was fun. We attended a Zone Conference in Melbourne on April 17 where we were taught by Elder Tad Callister. It was an inspiriting meeting, he is a master teacher. Our District Conference was held in Wangaratta on the 18th and 19th where we were again taught by Elder Callister and President Lindley.

Shaun Saker was baptized on April 25th between the sessions of General Conference. We receive DVD's of the conference and show it in the chapel. Up until now they have huddled around the TV set, we purchased a projector and small sound system, hung a huge sheet on the back wall, and they can watch General Conference on the Big Screen. We had a huge turn out for conference in April. The children were thrilled with the "Conference Packets" that I made for them.

While we traveled through the Zone on out flat inspection tour, we stopped in the river town of Echuca and rode the paddle steamer, EmmyLou. It was a wonderful, relaxing trip down the Murray River, longest river in Australia. The port at Echuca used to be the third largest port in Australia, considering it is inland quite a way, that is really something.