Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 17, 2013

Happy belated Valentine's Day to everyone.  Valentine's Day, like most of the major holidays that we are used to celebrating, seemed to be down-played here.  School children don't exchange Valentines with their classmates, and cards and other Valentine's Day gifts/etc. are minimal.  We celebrated with Woffindins, a couple we work with in the mission office, by going to "Grill'd" our favorite hamburger joint.  For a mere $26, we each had a hamburger and shared an order of chips and a drink.   We also saw and thoroughly enjoyed "Lincoln." 
 We are in the process of changing assignments from working in the Chinese Branch (guess our Mandarin wasn't coming along well enough) to working in the mission office, an assignment neither of us relish.  However, it is the Lord's work, and someone has to do it, so it might as well be us.  Missionaries in this mission will increase from 165 to 216 by June, so there is a need to help with logistics. Max is in charge of keeping track of  63 cars, which involves keeping track of  K's (mileage,) infringements (tickets,) which missionary has which car, drivers licenses, accidents and accident repair, requesting additional cars (we are hoping for 10,)  making sure all cars are properly maintained, and inspecting cars.  Last week we attended 4 zone conferences, dressed casually and inspected the cars.  Missionaries open hoods and boots, leave keys on the seat, and go to their meeting, then, like vultures, we attack and  check for cleanliness and safety. 
  Poor Max was pooped after a week of car inspections. 
Australian money seems more like play money than real money, but it spends the same.  The coin denominations are 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, one dollar, and two dollars.  Actually, it all spends.  It just takes more of it. 
 The Yarra River Trail
 Brighton Beach on a P Day
 The lawn care truck.  Mostly they scalp the scanty grass/weeds with a weed eater.  
 An adventure with Robert and Rimmers to Warburton.  We hiked on an old trail used by trams for logging and where Robert's grandfather worked.  We were happily hiking along when a red bellied black snake slithered across the trail.  EEK! 
 Halloween FHE at the Branch.  Guess which mummy is the missionary?
 This colorful, very common bird, is a Lourakeet.  One day when we were walking home from the market, we met a man who had a one legged Lourakeet on his shoulder.  He had found the injured bird in a park and rescued it. 
 Liansu is one of our Chinese daughters and is a Branch missionary.  She has been a member only a few months and is faced with the challenge of telling her parents she has joined the Church.  I think they work for the government. 
 We golfed at the Yarra Bend Golf Course, and on the 13th and 14th greens, thousands of hanging foxes (big bats) nest in the trees alongside the river. They are protected, and golfers aren't supposed to bother them.  Some have insomnia and fly around, disrupting the sleep of others, who noisely complain at being disturbed.   
 Elders Wang from Taiwan and Gerber from Lehi helped clean out the fridge one day.  They also helped us install our window air conditioner so it worked more effectively.
 Aussies love their dogs, and this one patiently waited while his owners spent Sunday afternoon sitting at an outside table drinking beer. 
 Everyone on the train snickered when this colorful gentleman boarded.  The photo isn't great, but I didn't dare get very close.
 This was the first patch of real, healthy lawn that we saw and probably will be the last. 
 Hotel courtyard in a town near Queenscliff. 
 After our outing to Warburton and our encounter with the black snake, we had dinner at a great old inn with Robert, Miriam, and Paul.  They are so good to us, and have taken us places we never would have been. 
 The corner bar/hotel near our tram stop on a Monday morning.  Note the empty kegs of beer being loaded on the truck.
 Robert pointed out this area to us when we were on one of our outings then presented us with this original painting.  He is an amazing artist.
 The schedule of tram times posted at each tram stop.  Can't count how many time we looked at this, then at our watches, wondering how long we would have to wait for the next tram.
 One day we rented a, what a liberating experience... and drove to Inverloch to see Nigel and Ina.  Max met Ina when he was here as a missionary in the 60's.  The countryside was spectacular.
 The beach at Inverloch.
 When Max was in Dandnong on a mission 50 years ago,  church meetings were held on the second floor of this building. 
 The IKEA putting together furniture expert.  So far we have assembled 15 or 16 pieces and only have one black thumb.  
 On a train ride to Pakenham, we had the entire train car to ourselves.  Pakenham is near the end of the line, and it was early on a Saturday morning. 
 Ruth took us to the Dragon Boat Restaurant for a buffet lunch.  Elder Li is relishing the chicken feet.
 Cruising down the Murray River near Euchuca, during a couples retreat. 
Fillmores and President and Sister Lifferth in front of the Melbourne Temple on the day or our arrival. 
 Another first day picture.  Do we look wasted or what??
 Queen Victoria Market is a huge mostly sheltered market that encompasses an entire city block.  We expecially love the warm, jelly-filled, sugar donuts. 
 Obviously too tired or drunk to make it home the night before, this poor man was asleep on our parkway early one Saturday morning when I left for a run.  He was still there when I returned an hour later, but was stirring, so I knew he wasn't dead.  He left soon thereafter. 
 We attended an organ concert at the Town Hall in Melbourne.  All the original music was created by students and played via computers.  The lighting on the pipes was great, but we left after a couple of numbers, because the "music" sounded like traffic accidents.   

 The foot path leading to the MCG stadium, where Footie and Cricket are played. 
 Nika sent all this stuff for my birthday. The homemade fudge in the ziploc container was especially cherished.  Junior Mints, Sugar Babies, and Big Hunks made us feel like home isn't so far away.  The nylons were a welcome necessity. 
 A couple of characters on the tram who willingly posed for this photo.   I think they were headed for a party someplace. 
Beautiful Fitzroy Gardens was about a mile from our Winter Home  and was a great place to run, walk, stroll, or relax and read a book.
 This miniature Tudor Village in Fitzroy Gardens reminded me of our Dept. 56 Christmas houses, only on a bit larger scale.
 The Fairy Tree is near the Tudor Village and is intricately carved picturing magical people and animals. 
 Leaded glass windows in one of the naves of St. Patricks Cathedral.
 The main entry to St. Patricks Cathedral.
 The grass is sparce, but tiny yellow flowers bloom in abundance.
 Chicken feet anyone???
 WHAT GRASS??  This sign is on the grass of our "summer home" in Vermont.
 Elders Kirklin and Staples with James and Christine at their baptism.  James left the next day to study at Columbia University.  They are a sharp couple, as are all the Chinese we've met. 
 Angeal, a Vietnamese, telling the story of "The Three Little Pigs" at a FHE.  He likened the story to the fact that we need to cooperate and get along.  He drew pictures to illustrate his version of the story.  Angeal is attending Chef School and is definitely a character. 
 Max grabbed the camera to snap this photo of the Melbourne Temple, soon to be shrouded in clouds.
 He wasn't so observant this day, when he wore different black shoes to a baptism.
 After a baptism, we had a few hours of daylight left, so drove to St. Kilda Beach and watched the kite surfers.  The Melbourne Skyline is in the background.
 We love the city of Melbourne, and everytime we see the skyline, our hearts beat a bit faster.  Moving to the suburbs is definitely an adjustment. 
 Laundry/moving day from our Winter Home in Richmond to our Summer Home in Vermont.
We taught Catherine (left) and Angela (10 years old) recent convert lessons in their home, which was definitely in the high rent district of Melbourne.  Catherine's mother visited from China, and though we could only communicate through smiles and gestures, felt a real connection with her.  She requested that we visit before she went back to China, because she wanted our photo.  Maybe she had never seen Americans???  We loved visiting in this home, and Grandma always had yummy fruit prepared and iced for us.
 Our bedroom at our Winter Home.  Doesn't look so bad, but there are only about 6 inches between the bed and the chest of drawers.  I finally wrapped the bottom bed posts with bubble wrap, because our shins were always scraped and bruised.  Problem solved.
 Yes, the day we moved out of our Winter Home, cable TV was installed.  We started nagging for tv reception pretty much the day we arrived in August.  I guess that if you live on Murphy Street, you should expect Murphy's Law to be in effect. 
I asked if I could take this cute little girl's photo, because I wanted our grandkids to see the type of uniform that pretty much all girls, from KG - Grade 12 wear to school.  They have matching sweaters and blazers for when the weather is cold.  The boys wear dark pants or shorts....never jeans, and a shirt with their school logo.  Uniforms are worn in public and private schools. 
 Pretty typical of the baggage this pack horse carried to and from the Branch. 
 One of the grates in the sidewalk we tried to avoid walking on when we walked to and from the tram.  Not sure of it's purpose...maybe a utility hole. 
We decided to ride our bikes from our Winter Home to our Summer Home, a ride of about 20 miles.   We would be on a trail most of the way.  This is a pipeline bridge that crossed the Yarra River.
 View of the Yarra River from the bridge.
 About half-way home, Max's bike had a punctured tire, and we walked and walked and walked.  We weren't really sure how to get home, but eventually ended up at a train station and took the bikes on the train to the stop nearest our Summer Home, walked another couple of miles, and arrived, exhausted, but in one piece.  To ease the agony, we decided to collect street signs of family names.

 We stopped for lunch outside a pub.  At least the bench was in the shade.
 Finally we arrived at the train station and knew we could find our way home.
 If you ever get a puppy, it looks like you should move here for puppy preschool.
 Chinese New Years festivities just around the corner from the Branch
 The Year of the Snake
 Then came the dragon.

The dragon was easily 100 yards long and was embellished with jewels and fringe.
So as they say on the Bugs Bunny cartoons, "thats all folks"  At least for now.  We love the opportunity to be here serving. Sometimes the view is clearer than others, but we have no doubt about how wonderful the missionaires are and how much Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father love each one of us.  We do know that it is important that we all be a part of "Hastening the Work." Hopefully we are doing our share.  We are attempting to.


  1. Great update! Love all the photos and details. Miss you!

  2. Loved this!!! Such a great update and amazing photos! We love you, miss you, and are so proud of you!