Thursday, April 2, 2015

Last week in the mission and home coming

Monday, March 23, was our official last day working at the Archives.  It was a picture day, for sure.  Marvin got a shot of taking the image of the last document we had.  Other pictures were of the couples and companionships.  They were a wonderful group of people to work with and we surely have lots of love for them.  We were asked to publish our “15 in 15” (4 generation groupsheets) so here is a picture for that.

Lurae and Delbert Dillingham

Jim and Marilyn Freeman

Lupe Pulu and Delayne Madden

Marvin taking his last image

The fabulous Melbourne Eight

Tuesday we spent the morning in the Melbourne Temple with all of the elders and sisters and their companions who were going home.  Then we attended the transfer meeting, where new companionships are created.  Each of the leaving missionaries bore their testimonies and plenty of tears were shed.  The afternoon was spent finishing packing and cleaning our flat. 

 That evening we had dinner at the mission home with all the elders and sisters who were going home and another testimony time and lots of pictures.  

 Our mission president, Pres. Cory Maxwell and his wife, Karen, were the greatest.  They had so much love and caring for the missionaries.  Karen sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir so we had opportunities during our mission to sing for different events with either her conducting or playing the piano.  She is quite a talented lady.

Wednesday was our departure day.  Elder and Sister Hullinger (from Roosevelt, Utah) picked us up at the mission office after we turned in our car, and drove us to the airport, after a quick stop at the archive to say our last good-byes and shed more tears.  Our trip took 14 hours to fly from Melbourne to Los Angeles, one hour to go through customs (after Marvin realized that he left his ipad on the plane, which was retrieved), then a trip to Salt Lake City, arriving about 8:30 that evening.  What a fun welcoming committee we had. 

 Our son Keith and his family and Marvin’s brother Joseph and brother Dilworth and his wife Pat and our friend Bob were all there to greet us.  It was so fun.  Bob drove us home, arriving about 10:30, and the neighbors had created a sign for us which was lit and had balloons attached. 
Sign on our driveway, but our neighbor's house.
 The neighbors came running out of the house when we drove into the driveway.  What a welcome home!  Jeanne, Bob’s wife, had staged our home like it was on HGTV, with flowers in almost every room.  It was quite spectacular!
An Easter decor

The candy eggs didn't last long once the grandchildren found them.  They left the bunnies for us.

Beautiful flowers.  Can I keep them alive?

One of Marvin’s first “to do”s was grocery shopping.  He excitedly brought home 12 boxes of cereal.  No more Wheat Bix, Crunchy Nut, or Sultana Bran cereal! 

 Thursday morning, President Sargent come to the house for our official release.  What a bitter-sweet event that was!  Kay (and others) cried all most the whole time he was there.

 Our family began arriving on Friday and we had warm weather and lots of fun through the weekend.  Sunday we reported our mission at Church, had 24 for dinner, and then relaxed.

The family playing "Scene It".  Notice who is asleep in the chair!

I realized that we did not have a picture of Mark Kelly who was our supervisor from Sydney.  This one we took in December when Marilyn presented to him his embroidered name. 

 She also gave one to each of us (our own names) and to many of the senior missionaries and important people who have come into our lives during this remarkable experience.  How grateful we are to have had the opportunity to serve the Lord through this Australia Melbourne Mission.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Last few months in Australia

Where has the time gone?!  We have less than one week until we return to the United States.  We are excited and have been so blessed to have had this mission experience.
So, here is a look at the last two months.

We have waited to go down to Phillip Island until the days were cooler to go to the Penguin Center.  We began with a stop at the Grand Prix race track.  It was huge and we saw several drivers out driving the cars.  Inside the visitor’s center there was one of the cars which can be driven.  A lady said Marv could get in it for a picture.  Getting in was the easy part.  Getting out was much more difficult.

Next stop was the Koala Conservation Center.  You can walk on these metal sidewalks in the air to get close to the bears.  They live in the eucalyptus trees because the leaves are what they eat.  We also visited the farm, the town and the beach at the north end of town.  We decided to drive to the south part of the island and found this great beach with lots of surfing going on.  That was fun to watch.
At the Koala Center

As the evening began, we headed to the Penguin Center, but first went to view the Nobbies.  A storm was circling and we did get windblown and a little wet, but the views were wonderful.  At the Penguin Center, we found a seat on the bleachers at about 7pm and waited and waited.  Finally at 9pm, totally dark, we see these little white bodies coming up the beach.  They are fairy penguins, very little guys.  They have their burrows in the hill sides and so they cross the beach and climb the hills to get to their homes.  Observers have to stay on the raised walks, but the little guys walk right next to the walks so we were two feet away from them.  Quite an incredible experience.

Settling in to see the fairy penguins
Since the Chinese population in Melbourne is huge, so was Chinese New Year.  Although we didn’t get to Chinatown to see the festivities (about 4 days long), we did see the dragon which was set up at Queen Victoria Market.

A group of us went to Her Majesty’s Theatre and saw the Austrian musical Strictly Ballroom.  The song, Love Is In The Air, is from that musical.  It was so fun.  All of we women were up on our feet dancing by the end of the play.  Good thing there was no one behind us.

Ticking off the “bucket list”, we wanted to drive out of the city into the countryside.  There are beautiful vineyards and rolling hills and then into the bush (forests) and mountains.  These areas are so beautiful.  We stopped at a forest walk and grabbed a few photos.

Moomba, the biggest 4 day celebration that Melbourne puts on.  We took the train into the city on Saturday to see the wakeboarding championships on the Yarra River which runs through the city.  Wakeboarders came from all over the world to participate.  There were carnival rides all along both sides of the river.  Although we didn’t see the parade, we did see the Chinese dragon coming back into the city after the parade.

Our last train trip into the Bayswater station.  These Metro trains run from the suburbs into the city about every half hour.  It has been a great experience to learn how to commute on the trains and the trams in the city.

An evening with Pres. Maxwell was a wonderful experience.  Most of the senior missionaries met at the mission office for a pot luck dinner and then Pres. Maxwell talked about the life of his father, Elder Neil A. Maxwell.  We also celebrated the birthdays of Sisters Dillingham and Lettier.

We didn’t get any pictures of the next event, but we had the pleasure of having Elder Packer, the son of Pres. Packer, and several other Family Search dignitaries and their wives visit us at the archives.  We arranged an afternoon tea and had the opportunity to meet with them and discuss our work.  They were quite impressed with the work we have been doing and how much the archive staff enjoys our association.  And, mentioning work, here is a new project, inner-coastal shipping records.  This project has been given to us and the two sisters to work on. 

We got the opportunity to return to Tasmania for one week to do the metadata for the archives on the last bit of work we finished.  We stayed downtown so we were able to walk everywhere.  We were able to have dinner with Jan and Frank Robbins, our Tassie neighbors, Len and Cecily Watson, previous digitizers, and Dana and Richard Lang, the ward mission leader and his wife.  It was great to see our friends from church.  We had rain only twice during our trip.  Not bad for a Tassie autumn.
One of our favorite restaurant, The Fish Frenzie, at the warf.

No umbrella, so a plastic bag did the trick

Last Friday, we were treated to an afternoon tea at the archives, since we are leaving next week.  All of the important people at the archives were there and our Family Search group.  It was a very nice gathering.  Daniel Wilksch, our direct supervisor at the PROV, gave a little speech which told what we had done in Tasmania and here in Melbourne.  He is such a shy person, I was surprised that he would talk that long.  It was a lovely way to complete our work here.

Daniel giving his speech

Saturday a group of senior missionaries met at the Lynbrook Hotel for a wonderful buffet luncheon.  We saw that there were slot machines in a room and realized that they are called “Pokies”.  We had wondered about the meaning of that word.  They gave us two hours to eat as much as we wanted, but more than that, we enjoyed the companionship of these good brethren and sisters.  There is an amazing connection between senior couples/companions who dedicate their time to the Lord’s work.  What a blessing it has been in our lives.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January gone already

January gone already

As we got back to work after the new year, we found out it was Marilyn Freeman’s birthday.  We had been so impressed with the hamburgers at Grill’d in Sydney, that we found one not far from the archives in Melbourne.  Since hamburgers are a favorite meal for Marilyn, be all decided to celebrate her birthday there.  We sure do have a fun time with these seniors.

I received an email from our daughter and she said it looked like we were doing mostly traveling.  I figured the day-to-day work in the archives is not the most exciting, but I had better let you know that we are there Monday through Friday, working harder than we have ever worked before.  Kay does most of the document preparation work (since that is Marvin’s least favorite job).  The documents are stored, folded in quarters and tied with ribbon, in these boxes.  Kay must unfold them, remove any brads or staples, cut the strings or ribbons which are sewn to keep papers together, flatten the documents, and then let them sit for a few days to flatten out before being digitized.  Marvin then takes each stack to the camera table, and takes the picture of each document, checks for any errors and then restacks the files.  Kay then refolds each group of documents and puts them back into the boxes.  Each box contains an average of 65 document groups.  A group would be the documents of one person who is deceased.  We average more than 10,000 images each week.  So with the other missionaries here doing the same thing, we are adding over 40,000 images each week.  OK.  Enough of work.

Ksy busy unfolding and clipping

Nice pose

Click that camera

Boxes waiting to be digitized

Boxes to be done and completed

When we first moved to Melbourne we had the back property full of very tall trees and lots of birds.  The owner has now cleared the property, as he is planning on building two flats back there.  I wondered what would happen to all the birds.  Gratefully our next door neighbor has a few tall trees and the parrots have taken a liking to that tree.  There can be several hundred which congregate on the top of that tree in the early evening, and they make quite a racket.  Often we have to close the doors because they are so loud.  The picture doesn’t show off their colors very well but they have blue, red and yellow marking.  They are beautiful.

One warm Saturday afternoon we decided to drive up into the Dandenong Range (about a 15 minute drive from our house) to the William Ricketts Sanctuary.  We were greeted in the parking lot by a kookaburra.  He did not laugh for us though.  The sanctuary was built by Wm Ricketts who had become ‘one with nature’.  His statues are of the aborigines and many of the forest animals who lived there.  His statues are ceramic but made to look as if they were carved from trees.  It is a very beautiful place.

Quite a tame bird

What a handsome guy!

Kay's two new mates


While there, we drove to the observation point where a chainsaw carving contest was finishing up.  We got there in time to see the awarding of the prizes and the auctioning off of the pieces.  There was one (we didn’t get a picture) that we particularly liked and would have bid for it if we lived here.  There were eight carvings in total.  The artists started with one log and had 5 days to create their masterpiece. An American woman won the participants favorite prize, but the overall winner was an Aussie and he carved a beautiful dragonfly which was amazing.

Crocodile Dundee 
Dinosaur with eggs

Overall winner

Observation Point overlooking Melbourne

Last Saturday we had dinner with Daisy and Ashley from China.  Daisy is a friend of Marv’s brother, Harold and his wife Pat, from when they were teaching in China.  She is now in Melbourne studying bio medics and Ashley is a classmate of hers.  It was so fun to get to know them.  We served an authentic American picnic, hamburgers, BBQ beans, potato salad, and root beer floats.  They were so funny, taking pictures of huge hamburgers and root beer floats which they had never seen.

Daisy, Kay and Ashley

Monday was Australia Day, so another holiday.  We celebrated by having some of the senior missionaries over to our house for a BBQ.  We got to know the McFaddens (Orem, UT) and the Jose (Perth, AU) a little better.  Sis. and Bro. McFadden work in the city with the international branch, and Sis. and Bro. Jose work with the Stake Presidents with self-reliance, employment training especially for returned missionaries and young single adults.

The evening finished with a very cold concert in Whitehorse.  The main attraction was Bjorn Again, who sing the ABBA songs, and they were great.  They had been on tour some time before in Australia and Marvin had looked at getting tickets, but they were so expensive.  So, this was great as it was a free concert.  The concert ended with fireworks at 10pm which we saw as we turned back to look while we made a quick dash to McDonalds for hot chocolate.  Marv had brought a light jacket but it wasn’t heavy enough to keep him from chilling.

Gas drops below $1.00 a litre

Town hall concert on a very cool evening

On Jan 15, we had the pleasure of having the new Pacific Area President and his wife with us for a mission conference.  It was an outstanding conference and I have included my notes so as not to forget where they are.

Notes from Pres. Kevin Pearson, Pacific Area President                            

Am I a person who Heavenly Father can trust to do what He wants me to do?  The more we feel without acting upon it, the less and less we will feel.  When you pick up one end of a stick, you pick up the other.  Choices have consequences.

“I want____, but not yet,” really means “never”.

Do we ‘act’ or ‘become’ the person we are supposed to be?  God knows our potential and what He wants us to become.
1.       Have faith in yourself and your calling.  Rely on the Lord for His help.
2.       Obedience and personal sacrifice is required.  What is your attitude toward being obedient?
3.       Seek and ask for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

If you are happy, notify your face.

If you want more revelation, you need to ask questions.  Ponder, reflect and meditate on what you read for more revelation.  Often it’s in the pondering that we receive revelation.  Revelation comes when we are ‘doing’.  Pray out loud for increased revelation.  A person is more focused when praying out loud. 

Feeling the love of the Savior and Heavenly Father is revelatory.  When we feel the love, we know we are forgiven.  The Spirit knows all things about us.  2 Nephi 31, we need
light from Heavenly Father in order to understand.  The Holy Ghost knows what we need
to know.  True doctrine understood changes attitudes and behaviors.  Don’t focus on what
you are not, but what you need to become.  There is no revelation without thinking.

Alma 13 – we are the ones who have been called and set apart to teach.  Everyone on this
earth has a complete knowledge of the truth when they come to earth.
Mortal amnesia – at least a partial inability to recall immortality.
After resurrection amnesia is gone and we have a perfect recollection.
The only power that can lessen the amnesia, is the power of the Holy Ghost.
Your testimony is the tool which allows the investigator to feel the Holy Ghost.

This is about HIS mission, not my mission.  A mission is about doing HIS work.  
You BE what you are BECOMING.
The harder you work, the more Heavenly Father reveals who we are.
The more you do, the more the capacity expands.
In order to become something, you have to let go of what you are.

Quoting Elder Holland, “The spirit of this work is urgency.  NOW.  Move more rapidly
in your personal growth.  Live up to your potential.  God is easy to please but hard to

Spiritual self-reliance – focus is outside of self and aimed at service.
There is no power is misalignment, only in aligning what we do with the will of the Savior.
Your identity depends upon your values and beliefs which depends upon your attitude and behavior which depends upon your actions which depends upon your reality.
To change your destiny you need to change your identity.

Obedience is the first law of EVERYTHING.  Purpose of obedience is faith.  Faith in Christ is the first principle.  Purpose for repentance is to be able to qualify for covenants.

The word ‘trying’ holds no commitment.

Feed faith by increasing obedience.

Consecrate – to do something whole heartedly
Sacrifice – to do something begrudgingly

Missionaries have more rules because obedience to them gives them more faith.

Faith has a very short shelf life.  It needs to be fed daily.

Sis. Pearson – Stand up, Stand out, Stand firm

So, today is Jan 31 and the middle of summer, but it is overcast and very cool outside.  This part of Australia gets the cool fronts that come from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.  We will still get some hot weather next month, but this seems like a summer without a summer.