Wednesday, November 26, 2008

27 November 2008 - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Let me see if I can remember the order the photos are in and identify them:

1. The view of cockatoos from our kitchen window
2. The front of the house in Sunbury - imagine green!
3. The front side view of one of the surviving plants
4. Harley the famous featherless cocky - and a virtual chatterbox!

Things here are fantastic! We are preparing for our Thanksgiving feast tonight with all the other senior couples and really look forward to it, even if they are serving kangaroo! That could be a stretch for me, but I'll give it a go. It is a very warm day today - 30 degrees celsius - about 90 fahrenheit. And summer hasn't even started yet. The weather is still terribly dry and any prayers you would like to send heavenward for rain in this parched land would be appreciated. It was supposed to rain yesterday and today, but sadly that's how the weather forecasts always are, however it never quite happens that way. Bush fire danger is already very high and I hate to think how bad it will be when summer comes in full force. Still, we hope for the best and especially we hope for rain!

Our assignment is very satisfying to us and we love the work we are doing. Our volunteers are extremely capable and helpful and we have formed friendships with all of them. We appreciate the staff at the PROV and keep finding out about more and more projects underway at that incredible facility. So many things are slated for online use in the next 12-24 months it will be great for any researcher using Victorian records.

We love working with the young missionary elders here in Sunbury too. They are very dedicated and keep very busy. Elder Nelson from Murray, Utah is so tenderhearted and caring and Elder Gremmert from Washington state is a wise young man. Our association with Rose, the sister we are teaching is very rewarding. She has had some severe health problems but keeps battling on. We met her fiance last night and he is also a very kind and good man. He was particularly interested in eternal families as he lost his 30 year old daughter last month. Please pray for Rose and for those the elders are teaching - the world is such a confusing and chaotic place and the gospel brings the peace people everywhere seek.

We had a wonderful time last night too with one of the sisters from Sunbury ward - Paula - she's a real card and a truly caring woman. We love it when she asks us for dinner. I took a picture of Harley, her unusual and featherless cockatoo. I will put it on the blog for you to see. She is also taking care of an orphaned magpie, as well as kookaburras, other cockatoos and galahs and of course, their dog Milo. He's a real softie and I love him.

Our train trips to and from Melbourne every day are fun - good thing we love train travel - because we get a lot of it! However, country trains are very nice to travel on, much cleaner and no grafitti to deal with. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Melbourne from our place and then a 15 minute walk to the PROV. It's even fun in the rain - the one morning it was misting, pretending to be rain. The one thing we have noticed a tremendous increase here is the horrible grafitti - it's on everything. Even on high chimneys and air-conditioning units on top of buildings. Someone must be very anxious to get his message across - but it is so ugly and much of depicts violence. The ethnic mix here in Melbourne has also increased a lot in the last several years. Lots of folks from India, Pakistan, African countries, the Middle East, and the Islands like Vanuatua, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, etc. Makes for some interesting times.

Prices here are quite high. Of course, income is very high and the quality of life is very high too, but sometimes it makes it tough for us older missionaries on fixed incomes. One of the new sister missionaries from America thought it would be nice to get a turkey for thanksgiving - imagine her surprise when she saw that a small (about 5lbs) turkey cost over $AUD29.00! Obviously, it's not eaten here much! However, you cannot get better bread anywhere in the world and I happily pay $2.50 a loaf at the local hot bread shop. Eggs cost between $3.60 - 6.00 a dozen, butter is over $3.00 a pound and milk is around $3.75 for 3 litres - that's full cream milk of course. Fresh vegetables and fruit are extremely plentiful and tons of variety. We love being able to buy fresh mangos, passionfruit, avocados, etc. etc. etc. and those prices are very reasonable. It's a great place with great people and we feel privileged and blessed to be here serving.

Well, with that said, I have heaps of potatoes and sweet potatoes to attend to for the 'do' tonight. We think of you all often and keep you in our hearts and prayers. Let me just close by saying that we are grateful again, for the miracles and tender mercies of a loving and gentle Heavenly Father in His blessings to AmyLynne and her family. All of her tubes are now out and she may even be home by the time some of you read this. Her surgery was long and difficult, but best of all it's over and deemed successful. Her next steps are Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City for the high dose chemo for five or six days, then a day to recuperate and then re-introduction of her stem cells. When that is completed, she will be there for an additional 3 weeks while she is monitored. Hopefully by the first part of January she can go home to stay. Next spring she will receive radiation to her lungs to make them inhospitable places for cancer to grow. She is cheerful (what else!!) and positive and a complete delight to all around her. She's very excited to go home and be with her family and I know they are very excited to have her come home. Your prayers, your concern and your love and support mean the world to us. Thank you! I wish I could say more, but please know just how much it means to us and to our family.

Isn't the earth glorious?! The beauties around us, the birds, the trees and flowers, the variety and granduer makes one pause and reflect and give thanks. The technology made available to us to help make contact so effortless and fun, and to make family research a ball. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. How thankful we are. God bless each of you, we all can celebrate Thanksgiving for we all have much to be thankful for.

We love you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our friendly Kookaburra having a little taste treat right here in Sunbury.
Bob, Lesley and my Dad all working hard at the PROV (Public Record Office of Victoria). Bob is indexing, Lesley is digitising and Dad is preparing a box of Probates ready to be digitised.
Hopkins Falls in Warnambool, Victoria.
Cocky comes to visit our bird feeder now and then, right on our back deck. He chatters away while he eats. Quite the entertainer!
A scene from our trip to Warnambool and the Otway Ranges. This was taken in the Otways, a beautiful rain forest along the southern coast.

Our experiences here in the wonder Down Under - the land of Australia - are incredible and we want to share them with you. So, from the moment of arrival at the MTC right up to the moment, here are our thoughts, pictures and times. We are very grateful to this opportunity to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to help in the most important work of preserving records for the State of Victoria. Our digitising efforts move forward, the volunteers we work with are terrific and hard-working and very diligent. The staff at the PROV couldn't be nicer and are always ready to assist us in any way. We have a new missionary couple joining us and we will start their training tomorrow (Monday).

Each day is a new wonder and brings its own set of adventures, challenges and joy. We hope you will enjoy reading our updates and browsing through the pictures we post here. For those who are just joining us, welcome! For those who have been with us from the beginning, thanks for your support and prayers and now for your patience as you begin at the beginning.