Friday, January 18, 2013

JANUARY 18, 2013

It is a new year, and we have been a bit derelict keeping up our blog.  We are nearing the 6 month time line on our mission and are finding that things that seemed so strange and difficult are much easier and normal.  We have fallen in loved our new Chinese friends and missionaries.

 We were invited to a Chinese wedding.  We didn't even know the bride and the groom, but the mom, Helen, visible in the background and a member of the branch, thought we needed the experience.  A 12 course meal was served, and we ate whatever we could or dared get to our mouths with chopsticks.  It was a fun, noisy, and great experience.
 We didn't eat the fish head, but Elder Tsui devoured it....eyes and all.  
 The Eureka Tower is the highest public building in the Southern Hemisphere, and the view of Melbourne and the surrounding area is spectacular.  We have fallen in love with the city...the mix of old and new architecture, the many colors, the ethnic diversity, the clamor of people, trams, and buses, the art, the small shops and the huge malls.
 Max posing by a statue in an art gallery in Federation Square.  The man behind the counter made certain he didn't get too close.
 Some of our wonderful missionaries preparing for the Branch Christmas Devotional.  The men of the choir sounded really good...the women left a bit to be desired.
 On one of our P Days, we visited an art gallery that featured art representing the Aboriginal people in Central Australia.     
 Frank Wong, accompanied by his sister Sarah, played his guitar for the Christmas devotional.

Four of our new Chinese daughters:  Liansu, Yvonne, Kiki, and Aileen

 Ann came with Elders Grey and Snyder for a dinner and teaching appointment.  
 Elders Snyder and Gray borrowed our bikes to ride to the train station to meet Ann for the dinner appointment, since they can't take investigators in their car.  It was pouring rain, but they didn't care.  They are two of our favorite missionaries, and have taken us to Costco a couple of times.
 China Town in Melbourne is basically a couple of blocks long and mainly is comprised of restaurants and small shops.  Actually, the entire city seems like China Town.  One day Max counted Asians and I counted Caucasians for one block.  I counted 27 to his 100.  
On Christmas Eve day, which was P Day,  Elder Tsui invited us all to his house for lunch.  The missionaries had just returned from playing soccer at the park, and quickly changed into their regular missionary attire.
Our Family Home Evening Christmas Eve presentation of The Nativity.  President and Sister Lifferth were Mary and Joseph, the missionaries were the shepherds and wise men, and new members and investigators were the narrators.  Angela, our only primary kid was the angel and memorized all her parts.  The narrators worked hard to learn the correct pronunciation of the verses in Luke 2.  This was the first time many of them had ever heard about the birth of Jesus Christ.  It was an incredible experience to join with them on their first Christmas Eve.  

Vietnamese and Chinese all lined up to read their scriptures from Luke: 2.  
After Family Home Evening, Max and I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral to listen to the Christmas music presented by the church choir and organ prior to their midnight mass. The church and the music were spectacular, but didn't come close to touching our hearts like our Branch Family Home Evening activity and Nativity.      

Robert Matheson, our Aussie friend, met us at the cathedral, and following the pre-mass program, we decided to see what was happening in downtown Melbourne.  We were surprised at all the activity.  Restaurants were crowded, and families were milling around at 1:00 A. M. on Christmas morning.  We liked seeing the animated Myer window displays, which depicted the entire book of  of "Russell's Christmas," at night.  The bells overhead on Burke street were lit and changed colors.  Robert slept on our couch Christmas Eve night, because there was no public transportation.  He left before we got up on Christmas morning.

The bells overhead stretched the entire length of Burke Street. 

 Christmas morning was a bit of a let-down, and we shed a few tears that we were so far away from home and family.  But later in the day, we were all invited to the Wongs for a traditional Christmas Day BBQ, consisting of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb.  I think even the hungry missionaries were filled up.  That evening, we went to the opening performance of Les Mis at the theater on Collins.  We were surprised that only about 20 people were in the theater.  
On the day after Christmas, Tam, (pronounced Dumb) took us to a yummy Korean Restaurant for lunch.  It was also Boxing Day, the Australian equivalent of Black Friday.  The streets were mobbed with people searching for bargains.  
 While most of you were freezing in sub-zero temperatures, we were enjoying warmer temperatures.  Registered on the thermometer we brought from home are the maximum indoor and outdoor temps registered that day.
 LeYaung is an Aussie born Chinese, a registered nurse, and a recent convert.  She invited us to her home for a "Chinese version of Halloween."  Tradition is that for the first three days in January, guests visit the homes and enjoy pastries made from traditional family recipes.  We weren't hungry for a long time after eating everything she offered us.  Chinese treats aren't nearly as sweet as those we make.    
 We are enjoying some of the treats LeYaung and her mother prepared.  Mom didn't speak any English and was entertaining a guest in a different room while we were there. 
 We drove to Ballerat to visit Victoria and her kids.  Little Aiden, who was born 3 months early, and weighed less than 4 pounds, obviously is thriving.  We took the family to Kentucky Fried Chicken, and being with them reminded us of  our grandkids.
 This Vietnamese Church is our back-yard neighbor.  On Friday nights, they have an activity for young people, and the drums and music can get quite loud.  Fortunately, they wrap things up around 11:00.  We often hear beautiful singing on Sunday mornings. 
 We live really close to a Thrifty Car Rental agency, and this truck is generally parked across the street from where we live.  The building with graffiti is being renovated into a up-scale apartment (for sale, not rent) complex.   I'm sure it will increase the value of the place where we live.
 This seems to be part of the neighborhood decor, as it hasn't moved since we arrived.
 This is a shortcut we take to avoid the roundabouts and one way streets when we go anyplace.  Somehow, people park in some of the garages.  
 Sidewalk and entrance to our "Efficiency Flat."  Our door is just under the stairs. 
 Posing with Liansu at the Branch.  She is one of our favorite Chinese daughters. 
Melbourne Central Language Zone Missionaries, with Gloria and Liansu, Branch Missionaries, and Elder Tsui, the Branch Mission Leader. 
 Our Kitchen
 Branch members at the Melbourne temple following a night of baptisms. 
 Two old farts sitting in our "lounge" ready to go to the Australian Open Tennis Tournament.  Notice the can of Diet Coke and styrofoam cup on the ottoman.  Some things don't change.  
Max primping in our combined bathroom and laundry room.  
 Australian Open Tennis Tournament.  Tipsarevic, seeded #8 serving to Benneteau, seeded #32.
 Sam Querrey from the USA.  He had a wicked serve.
 A small portion of the venue for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament.  

 Tram wires overhead at one of the busy intersections.  

We purchased ground passes, which enabled us to go to 23 courts.  We were not able to go in the Rod Laver or Hisense Arenas with our ground passes.  We watched 3 matches in the Margaret Court Arena.   


  1. Wow - that is a long and equally awesome post. I loved all the pictures and the descriptions of the activity! Miss you guys and love you!!

  2. Yippee! A post. So great to be updated on your comings and goings. Love you!