It is my turn to blog the BlogSpot, and I do not know where to end, let alone where to start. Oh well what else is new. We participated in a very fun and nice senior missionary retreat this week hosted by our Mission President and his wife. Tuesday afternoon, the Woffinden’s from Arizona who are serving in the mission office, drove to our flat. They have been here a couple of weeks longer than we have and had not ventured very far from the square mile of space that surrounds their home and the mission office. They have use of the mission van, so came to pick us up to take us back to their house, where we would spend a couple of nights.
Since they had not seen any of the city or the Chinese Branch where we meet, been on a tram, or walked the busy Melbourne streets, they parked the van near our flat, and we went in to the city together. We walked around downtown for a few blocks, went to the Branch and saw a few members, missionaries, and investigators, then had dinner at Madame Kay’s, a Malaysian Restaurant. The food was so yummy, that we are going back tomorrow to celebrate Sharla and Elder Mao’s birthdays.
Wednesday we drove about 3 ½ hours through miles of lush, green back country and saw acres of fields of yellow flowers, which we later learned were canola plants, saw kangaroo road kill, and ended up in Echuca, a country town on the Murray River. We met 5 or 6 other couples and some senior sister missionaries. We all rode a steam powered paddle boat on the lazy, muddy Murray River, which according to locals is a healthy river when it is muddy, because that means it is active. We were reminded of lots of fun trips to Lake Powell, as we saw many large house boats docked along the river banks. We strolled the streets of Echuca, eating ice cream cones and bakery treats, did a bit of window shopping, and enjoyed the beautiful spring day. We drove to a wild reserve at Kyabrum and spent a few hours in a very casual setting observing many of the inhabitants of Australia, including koala bears, kangaroos, dingos, wallabies, Tasmanian Devils, emus, wombats, cockatoos, and snakes indigenous to Australia. Dinner was at a Pizza Hut, and we were glad Elder Woffinden was the driver back to Melbourne.
Thursday we went to the Melbourne Temple, had a BBQ at President and Sister Lifferth’s home, then visited a couple of sites in the Dandenong Mountains. Even though they are not mountains as we know them, they are spectacular in terms of the trees and plants. We went to a huge botanical garden that had over 300 varieties of rhododendrons, mostly in full bloom. Talk about spectacular colors and beauty! We loved it. After a light supper of soup, we had a meeting where testimonies and experiences were shared. Elder Woffinden took us to our tram stop, and we were home before 10:30.