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.