Last holidays in Australia
We can hardly believe that the year is almost over. The holidays have flown by and now we are looking forward to a few days in Sydney and the new year.
For Thanksgiving, we had the camera gang to our house for dinner. Lupe had gone to Sydney to be with her sister and daughter and grandson so we missed her, but the rest of the group was here. We had a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with everyone contributing to the dinner. We even had turkey this year. What a fun group to be with. We couldn’t have asked for a more congenial group with which to serve the last six months of our mission. We love them dearly.
Next came a Christmas party for the mission office staff (we were included since we live in the area) at the Sister Sister’s flat. Dede Cox and Adriane Higginson are actually sisters (also Paul Cannon’s sisters) so everyone calls them Sister Sisters. Their flat was beautifully decorated for Christmas. We enjoyed dinner and charades.
The need to purchase gifts for the Senior’s Dinner kept us in town one evening. After finding our prizes and a quick dinner at Victoria Marketplace, we headed to the decorated area of town. Melbourne doesn’t decorate much with lights, but they have fun decorations. Since we are on daylight savings time and it is almost summer, the nights stay light until almost 9 pm. The Melbourne Town Hall had these huge soldiers standing outside and down one block was a small park which had the Christmas tree and other fun things for the children.
Over 300 missionaries here for the Missionary Christmas Conference. What a fun day that was. Talents were shared, then a movie (How to Train Your Dragon 2), lunch, then a Christmas program in the chapel. Finally came passing out gifts sent from parents and family to the missionaries. Almost every room in the stake center was used to organize the gifts. During the movie, Marv was out talking to the kitchen staff and met the lady, Sis. Harkness, who started the digitizing of records at the Melbourne Archives. How nice it was to meet her.
|Getting ready for the talent show.|
|Setting up for lunch.|
|Sis. Madden and Cox|
|Elder Freeman and Sis. Pulu|
|All the camera operators and Sis. Harkness|
We also have sang for the Heidelberg Stake Christmas program and the Gippsland Stake program at Narre Warren.
Mark Kelly, our boss from Sydney, came to Melbourne and took all of us to lunch as his Christmas gift to us. We didn’t get a good picture.
Waiting on our door step one evening was a Christmas present from our son Keith. It was a large arrangement and lots of fruit. We have really enjoyed it.
Christmas Eve day and into the kitchen we went. Marvin made two bubble wreaths, one to take to a dinner invitation that evening and one for Christmas day BBQ at the beach. I learned how to cut, de-vein, and clean prawns.
Christmas day was spent in Torquay at the beach. We found a park across the street from the beach which made BBQing and setting up very convenient. All the camera operators were with us except Lupe who was having Christmas with her niece. The following pictures are of our Christmas experience, an Aussie Christmas BBQ.
|Elder Jim Freeman|
|A nice walk on the beach|
|Elder and Sis Dillingham|
|Sis. Dillingham, Madden, and Freeman|
|When the BBQ doesn't work, move to the hot plate.|
On the following day, Boxing Day, Marv and I decided to drive to Ballarat. We didn’t have enough time to go through Sovereign Hill, a mining reconstruction area, ($40 each) so we went to the Botanical Gardens and Lake (free!) and enjoyed the gardens then had a light lunch/dinner in town.
|Inside the Conservatory|
|One big fat wierd tree|
This has been an amazing year with accomplishing so much in Hobart and in Melbourne for FamilySearch. We have seen and visited beautiful areas in Tasmania and Victoria. We have made wonderful friends whom we love dearly and will miss when it is time to return home. We have grown in the gospel and have been amazed at the testimonies and abilities of these young missionaries. We have enjoyed the miracles which are continuing to happen as the gospel is shared with so many. Sadly, only 7% of Australians are actively involved in religion. But there are many Chinese and other Asian people who are recognizing the truth and joining the Church. Many Chinese families send their children to the universities here in AU, where the missionaries are teaching them. We have six Chinese missionaries from the same branch in mainland China serving here. We have learned that the Church is growing very quickly in India and Pakistan. Truly the Lord is hastening His work and we are so glad to be a part of it.