Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful experience at our missionary Christmas activity.  It was held up in Launceston, 2 hours north of us.  The sister missionaries from Glenhuon drove up and carpooled with us, so it was nice to get to know them better.  The Relief Society of the Launceston ward had decorated the cultural hall beautifully.
Sister Maxwell had planned the day and we started out with community singing then went into a missionary talent show.  Each companionship was to do some talent, but not all completed the assignment.  Sis Roberts played the flute;
we had a violin solo;
Elder Garret did beat-box (making noises with your mouth while you sing); Elder Sessions performed Shamugel; Elder Jones did a frisbee demonstration;  Elders Guilan and Solomon did a skit which ended with the haka;
and we sang a song, O Holy Child, with Sis. Roberts and Elders Sessions, and Sis. Maxwell playing the piano.  Earlier in the fall, each zone was given the assignment to make a short video take-off from a movie theme.  These were edited into a movie (not so short, 2 hrs. long) and we watched it.  Then came lunch prepared by the Relief Society.  After lunch, we did a gift exchange game.  We had brought two packages of Lindt chocolates which we were sure would be fought over.  But to our surprise, both young men felt that they were not good for you, so they were actively trying to get others to take them.  Pres. Maxwell ended up with one of them.  He knows a good thing when he sees it.   We then met in the chapel and had a Christmas program with script and songs prepared by Sis. Maxwell and sung by many of the missionaries.  Then came gifts from the Maxwells for each missionaries.   There were 23 of us there and the camaraderie was just wonderful.  There is such a love between all of the missionaries serving in Tasmania.  Pres. Maxwell said that the best missionaries are sent to Tasmania because they are not close to the mission home and they have to be more mature and willing to work hard.  That certainly is the case here.   It was a wonderful day.

Saturday evening we sang with our Stake choir at Christmas by Candlelight which was held at Tolosa Park.  The park has a type of amphitheatre where there is a stage which faces the hillside and part of the hillside has been made into flat rows for seating. 
When it gets dark, people turn on little battery charged candles, or strings of Christmas lights, or real candles and wave them during the different songs.  Our choir was very well accepted and we sounded pretty good.  We didn’t sing until 9:30 but there were still lots of people there until the end at 10:00.
Aussie Jingle Bells
Dashing through the bush, In a rusty Holden Ute , Kicking up the dust, Esky in the boot.  Kelpie by my side, Singing Christmas songs, It’s Summer time and I am in My singlet, shorts and thongs.
 Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, Christmas in Australia, On a scorching summer’s day.  Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut, Oh what fun it is to ride, in a rusty Holden Ute.
Engine’s getting hot, We dodge the kangaroos.  The swaggie climbs aboard, He is welcome too.  All the family’s there, Sitting by the pool.  Christmas day, the Aussie way, By the barbecue! Chorus
Come the afternoon, Grandpa has a doze.  The kids and uncle Bruce, Are swimming in their clothes.  The time comes round to go, We take the family snap, Pack the car and all shoot through Before the washing up.  Chorus
Now the Australia slang meanings:
Esky = portable cooler, boot = trunk of the car, Kelpie = sheep dog, singlet = sleeveless undershirt, swaggie = homeless person,  Holden = Aussie made car, Ute = utility truck.
Sunday, we performed the same numbers plus several more for the Stake Expressions of Christmas held in our stake center.  We had several political people attend, the Glenorchy mayor and his wife, someone from Parliament, and I don’t know the rest, but the front row was filled with distinguished visitors.  It didn’t hurt that the Stake President is also the Glenorchy Fire Chief.
Monday evening we were invited with the Glenorchy missionaries for dinner at one of the homes of the ward widows.  There were 5 sweet widows who have Family Home Evening together each week. 
They had enough food to feed three times as many people.  We have enjoyed getting to know these sweet and dedicated members.
We found the only Mexican restaurant in Hobart.  It wasn’t like Mexican restaurants at home but it was quite close.  I ordered a beef chimi and it came with plum sauce all over it.  It was really good.
Sunday we had our ward Christmas program.  The 9 children in Primary sang along with the teachers and we sang in a small group (7).  It was fun to meet family members who came to spend the holiday with ward members.  It filled our little chapel.  There were also major changes in the ward auxiliaries.  Every Presidency has changed in the last month except Relief Society.  Change is good, just hard.
Aussie Creche

Cookies for the Neighbors

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Aussie Style

Thanksgiving was a bit different, but we did have guests and turkey roll.  We tried to find an American missionary, and there were some, but all had other appointments.  So, we had our zone leaders, Elder Wood and Elder Atkinson (both Aussie) and Elder Soloman (New Zealand) and Elder Guilan (French Tahiti) (from right to left).  They were wonderful guests and seemed to enjoy a huge meal. 

 I was asked if Thanksgiving always meant having lots of food.  The following day we had a wonderful zone conference.  Besides President Maxfield and his lovely wife, we were the only ones over 25 years of age.  We were both amazed at the strength, knowledge and dedication of these young missionaries.  The mission is not an easy one for conversions.  Most Aussies are satisfied with how their life is and don’t see a need for religion.  We are working with four families who are inactive.  Three are trying to hide from us, but one is very receptive to us and we enjoy visiting with them.  Last night, Elder Rust challenged them to come back to church.  They have committed to attend the Stake Christmas Program this Sunday in which we both are singing.  We hope we can bring the blessings of the Church back into their lives again.

Last Saturday we took a drive east and went to Seven Mile Beach.  The wind was quite cool yet we saw 3 people swimming.  Surprisingly the water wasn’t that cold.  Maybe it just felt that way because of the little difference between air and water temperature.  Walking along the beach was wonderful.  We found several different varieties of shells and very few people on the beach. 

 That evening we attended a symphony concert with a recently returned senior missionary couple, Maron and Kris Barnhard, and heard the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra play for the HUSH Music Foundation.  HUSH is a project brainchild by Dr. Catherine Crock of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. 
The hospital staff interviewed patients and parents regarding what could be done to help them feel better when having to go through the ordeals at the hospital.  The suggestions were to create a more uplifting and positive environment.  So the Foundation invites certain Australian composers to produce music to reduce stress and anxiety for the children, families and others in the hospital.  The symphony played the music from their current album and it was marvellous.  You could feel how it might raise the hopes the children and their parents would feel.  It is played in the hallways, operating rooms, and everywhere in the hospital.  What a wonderful project.

We actually are enjoying a Christmas tree with decorations.  The children of Elder and Sister McDonald who were here before us, sent them the tree for Christmas last year.  We appreciate their thoughtfulness as we and those who follow us, will enjoy the tree each year.

Each morning, on the way to work from the bus stop, we walk down this lovely pedestrian walkway on Elizabeth Street.  I love this open air flower shop which adds so much color and beauty.  What a great way to start a morning. 
A beautiful walk

Snakes and Ladders instead of Shoots and Ladders

 The city has added Christmas decorations in the trees and around the tree trunks and fun games for the children to play on the sidewalks.  Hobart really is a lovely little city to work in.

 In our living room we have a collection of Wasatch Mountains and Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls in Tasmania.

When you go to wash your car, take the dog along.  You can give your doggie a bath while your car gets cleaned.  Everyone goes homes cleaner than a whistle.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Air Walk

On a rare sunny Saturday, we drove south to the Huan Valley.  I think it might look a bit like Ireland, as it is green rolling hills and pastures, small communities along the river, and sailboats moored in the little bays.  It is a beautiful place.  Our destination was the Tahune Airwalk which is on the edge of the National Forest. 
Unlike our forests which have pine trees, here, most of the trees are eucalyptus.  This was like a rain forest with lots of different plants, trees, ferns, and a river running through it.  It is one of the homes of the Huan Pine which is now protected from logging because it is so rare.  Woodworkers can only use salvaged Huan Pine which has been washed down by floods.  We had a lovely guided walk through the forest and then up onto the metal airwalk which is like a catwalk that winds through the tops of the trees.

After lunch, we walked around the other side of the path and crossed the swinging bridges.  Marvin was not too happy after he crossed the first one to notice that there was an “s” on the end of “bridges”.  He does not like heights and hanging high above the rushing river was not fun for him. I thought it was great.

Sunday was church meetings and choir practice.  We are practicing for two performances, one for the community and one for the stake.  Of course the director wants the music memorized, so Marvin has been working on getting it on his computer so we can practice it more and be ready for Dec. 14 and 15. 
Nothing outstanding occurred during the week, just work, but here is a picture of some of  the volumes of books that we have been digitizing.  The first books we did were about  500 images.  Now, they are closer to 900 per book.  Each book is one year’s burial records for a large cemetery in Hobart.  We are about 1/3 of the way through this project.
Yesterday we had a baptism after church of a 19 year old girl, Bronte.  There are so few young single adults in the ward, but they are strong.  Afterwards we went for “tea” at the Stake Relief Society Presidents/High Priest Group Leader’s home.  It was wonderful to get a chance to socialize and become better acquainted.

Getting ready for Thanksgiving has been a bit of an eye-opener!!  We were looking for turkeys (ham is the Australian meat for holidays) and finally found this one, a 16 pounder for $70.00!!!  We didn’t buy it.  We found a turkey roll with dressing in the center.  It will have to do.  Also, no canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie.  The people are huge pumpkin eaters and you see lots of different pumpkins in the grocery stores, but they all cringe when we talk about pumpkin pie.
  I will be making pies from scratch this year and will probably have to make extra to take to people who can’t even dream of making pumpkin into pie.
(The Australian dollar is about the same as the US dollar, so, yes, that is the correct price we would have to pay).

Word of the Week: “panel beater” =  a car repair business (which we hope we never have to visit).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Australian Observations

Observations of Tasmania

I think living in Tasmania is like living in Oregon.  It rains and rains and rains.  We are told that it will get hot ---really? I’m looking forward to it.  Then I’ll believe it.  We took only a few pictures this week, so I’m writing about my observations of differences in living.
Women:  Women, middle age and older, don’t wear makeup and don’t wear hair styles other than ponytails or straight hair.  I have yet to see anyone with a hair style that I could ask where they get their hair cut.  Now we have seen some very interesting hair COLORS!  Pink, bright red, florescent green!!!!!!!  And most wear dark colored clothing, usually all black.
Girls:  No matter how cold it may be, the girls will wear shorts or short skirts and puffy black parkas.  I guess they don’t mind having their legs cold as long as their bodies are warm.
The bus:  We are now riding the bus to work each day.  It is pretty cheap:  $1.52 each way for seniors.  There is a car park next to the archive where we park when we do drive in to the city.  If you park there all day, it is $22.00 a day.  If you get there before 9:00 am and there are still early bird parking spaces left, you pay $11.00 a day.  Or you could do what we do – the car shuffle.  The first 1 ½ hours is free. So we set the alarm at 1hour 20 minutes and drive the car around the block and then back into the car park.  It’s a pain, but cheap – FREE!  
Roses:  While riding the bus we are able to see the beautiful roses around town.  They grow very well here and are gorgeous.
Swans:  We have driven to Bridgewater, about 15 minutes north of our home, to help with the Family History lessons taught by one of the men in our ward.  As we pass over the river, there are huge numbers of black swans that must live there.  We were invited to Family Home Evening at this man’s home and his home looks over another river which flows into the Derwent River.  Again, there were numbers of black swans.  He told us you only see black swans in the southern hemispheres and white swans in the northern hemispheres.  I didn’t know that.  He had never seen a white swan until he traveled to America.
Travel:   You cannot believe how many people here have traveled to America.  Almost every person we have talked to has been there.  But there seems to be a reason.  The minimum wage here in Australia is $15.00 an hour!  And their vacations are for 1-3 months long after working 1 year.  But looking at homes, you would never think anyone had any money.
Teeth:  There must be a poor dental program here as we see so many men and women who have missing teeth or very crooked teeth.  Colored hair but no teeth!!!
Welcoming:  We have been very impressed with how polite and welcoming everyone seems to be.  Even when we run into a homeless (or so he seemed) as we are walking in town, he stops and says “Have a good day.”  The children who ride the bus to school always allow the older riders to get on the bus first.  I have tried to allow them to go first, but they refuse.  Their parents must have taught them respect.
Food:  Well, this could be a blog by itself.  Marv was so firm that we bring peanut butter with us because Australia doesn’t have peanut butter—but Tasmania does.  So, with the extra money we spent on over weight baggage, we figure we had $30 peanut butter.  They don’t have shortening, canned pie filling, or pancake mix.  Hot dogs are actually sausages with a tough skin and there are no green peppers for Mexican food.   We have found some cereals which we like and Marv is grateful for that.  Australian oranges are really good and juicy.  There seems to be an abundance of fresh vegetables. So I think I am going to have to learn to cook like my mother did back in the 50s.  Most of the recipes I brought call for packaged goods of some kind, so I guess I’ll learn to cook from scratch.  Fun! Not!  For those who have been to Europe and eaten eggs, this won’t be unusual, but, like England, the yolks are orange, not yellow.  (Actually, this picture makes them look fairly normal - they really are orange.)

Word of the Week:  Ta =thanks.  

This is our abode (flat)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 5

We are getting into a routine, kind-of.  We come to the archives Monday thru Friday, just as if we were employed here.  We are working 7-8 hours on most days. Our “P” day is Saturday and of course Sunday is Church and rest.  There were a few different happenings this past week.  On Monday, MJ Dowe (we can’t remember her given name, it’s a Maori name although she is not Maori) came to the archive and invited us to dinner and Family Home Evening.  We arrived at the family home and met an two of her brothers and a sister.  Their parents were working, so the youngest, a teenager, was making dinner.  She had also invited a young man, Sean, who had been baptized only 4 weeks ago.  We had dinner and then MJ gave a wonderful lesson on the Restoration.  I was so impressed by the knowledge and respect that the family had for one another and the lesson.  Sean gave the closing prayer, and, again, I was amazed at how sincere and personal he was saying the prayer.  We have been impressed by these Tasmanian people.  They are very knowledgeable and have such wonderful testimonies.
The mission had asked us to buy a clothes dryer, so Tuesday we purchased one and it was delivered to our flat on Wednesday morning.  There is no room in the laundry area for it, so it sits in our dining area. 
In Australia, the dryers do not have to be vented to the outside.  So, it blows moist hot air into your room.  But, then the windows fog up and mold grows.  So we bought a plastic venting pipe kit which allows us to run it to the sliding glass window and out the door.   It has been really nice to wear clothes dried in the dryer instead of stiff ones which were hung outside.

Thursday was Halloween, and true to our tradition, we stayed away from our home.  Next door to the Archives is “The Playhouse”, so we stayed in town, had dinner at the Fish Frenzy restaurant on the wharf, and attended the play, “The Hollow” an Agatha Christy murder mystery.  The Playhouse sat about 200 seats and it’s an old building.  The people attending were interesting to watch.  Most were in their senior years and seemed to know each other.  Before the play began and during the intermission, many bought wine, beer, and other drinks in stemmed glassware.  So there was lots of glass tinkling as they returned their glasses.

Saturday surprised us by being warm and sunny.  We went to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.  The spring flowers were beautiful.  We found a lovely spot to sit and rest (and nap) before the breeze got too cool.  On our way home, we stopped at a hardware store and bought a weed whacker, so we could cut our lawn in the backyard, two tomato plants, and weather stripping to go around the front and back doors. 
Australian Lawnmower
It’s amazing how poorly they build the homes.  As we have been in other homes, they are all cold.  Everyone wears sweaters and coats inside. 
I used to think Utah weather was changeable.  Here it is even more so.  The clouds are really low and the wind blows a lot.  So you can watch the clouds moving very quickly.  The winds are usually from the west which blows up and across from Antarctica, carrying rain often.  So, during a typical day, it can be sunny, then rain, then sunny, wind blowing, and rain again.  I don’t think we will have to water our lawn and tomato plants at all.
View from our Dining Room

 Word of the Week:  sachet=small packets of food (hot chocholate, instant oatmeal, etc.)