Saturday, June 22, 2013

MAY 31, 2013

It is nearly the end of another month and the last official day we will spend in the Australia Melbourne Mission Office.  Our friends  ordered  Chinese food to celebrate our departure and for them, the restoration of peace and quiet in the office setting.  We will miss the Woffindens, Sister Horne, Sister Epa, President and Sister Lifferth, Sister Balmes, the Oillataguerres, Blaires and the many missionaries who come for training and supplies.  Some days have been boring; other days we've felt like we were in a whirlwind, twisting and turning, and not sure where or when we would light.  We greeted 25 new missionaries on May 22, and thankfully, they all have a place to stay and a companion.  If they are coming from the Provo MTC, they are jet-lagged and look like "deer in the headlights."  A lot of planning and preparation goes into establishing new "Goldens" in the mission, but we still receive calls that there aren't beds in the flat, neither of the missionaries assigned to a car has a drivers license, or we forgot some poor missionary at the airport.  Elder Smith, who happens to be Craig and Tami's grandson and the son of Tony, is one of our new missionaries.  He arrived a couple of hours before the others, and Max quickly enlisted him to help bring sandwiches from Subway. 
Our affiliation with the Chinese Branch ends this week-end as well, and we will miss our Chinese friends, sons and daughters.   Serving with them has been a gift from Heavenly Father to us, as they have enriched our lives and  mission experience more than we ever could have imagined. 
We are excited for Shannon, Brian, Josh, Sam, and Claire's arrival on Monday morning, and the adventures we will enjoy with them is a chapter yet to be written.  When we return from our trip with them, we will fly to Tasmania and settle into our vacation home. 
We wanted to see the autumn colors in Nicholas Garden, and we weren't disappointed.

In the spring, this pond is supposed to be a close replication of Monet's "Water Lilies."  We will never know for sure.
The boughs from this evergreen would certainly make a great Christmas garland.
Max is the proud "owner" of 10 brand new cars!


Because of a flat tire, we were unsuccessful when we tried to ride our bikes from our winter home to our summer home, so decided to try again, this time going from our summer home to the city.  It was a great ride, mostly taking us through parks and along streams.  Max enjoyed the luxurious restroom accommodations in one of the parks.  Everything is automated...dispensing of TP, water and soap, locking the door, and flushing the toilet.  Great "elevator"  background music plays, and you are given 10 minutes to complete your task,  then the door automatically opens.  

We locked our bikes at Flinders Train station, took a nostalgic walk down Swanston, then rode the train back to Nunawading.  After submitting our behinds to more than 20 miles riding in to the city, it  was really a pain in the butt to have to get back on the bikes for the 2 mile ride back to our flat. 

Yes, Elder Gerber can stuff the entire Aussie burger "with the lot" in his mouth.  This traditional burger comes with hand formed mince (hamburger,) cheese, beet root, pineapple, bacon or ham, fried egg, spinach, grilled onions, and tomato.

It was a perfect evening for "Footie" at the MCG in Melbourne, where the Hawthorne Hawks annihilated  the Sydney Swans.  We had great seats, right behind the goal, thanks to Sister Horne.  In fact, Max caught one of the balls when it was kicked through the goal, and no, unfortunately,  he didn't get to keep it. 
The people who sat behind us were diehard Swans fans and were happy to explain the game to us as long as we cheered for the Swans. 
Fans were polite, and in a country where there is a liquor store on every corner, we didn't see nearly the consumption of beer as we see at professional baseball games.  Maybe they go home to celebrate or drown their sorrows.
We, along with Sisters He and Zhang were invited to President and Sister Lai's home for dinner.  We were pretty late arriving, because the sisters were teaching a lesson, but the Lai's kept the food warm.  The food was delicious, and the acceptance and warmth we feel from these great people was a perfect respite from a rainy, cold  evening. 
Aaron, President Lei, Elder and Sister Fillmore, Sister He, Lei, Ella, and Sister Zhang.
It is a great sacrifice and act of service for these two fine people to bring their family and serve as leaders in the Chinese Branch.  The fruits of their labors are evident, as the Branch has grown in just a short period of time.  President Lei watches carefully over his flock.
Just us girls.  I think we were all feeling a bit sorry, knowing that Sister He would soon be returning to her home in China in just a few days. She and Sister Zhang had a baptism 5  weeks in a row, a record unequaled by any other missionaries.  They made a great team and were the first sisters to serve in the Chinese Branch. 
Elder Woffinden always tucks his tie in his pocket to keep it out of the way, so we thought it would be a good idea to give him some shortened ties for his birthday.  He was a good sport and wore this throughout the day.  When a realtor came in for an inquiry, he forgot he was wearing the short tie, and spent 5 minutes or so talking to him.  We had to hide in the corner, we were laughing so hard at the "looks" he was getting from the realtor. 
The entry to the Branch
Our last transfer meeting with the Chinese Zone.  Fortunately, we drove the big blue van that day, as we drove missionaries and  their stuff all over Melbourne, as companionships were changed and they moved from one flat to another. 
Mission rules dictate that elders aren't supposed to hug sisters, and sisters aren't supposed to hug elders, but it seemed okay as Max bid Sister He a tearful farewell at the airport when she left to return to China
Group photo.  Sending her through the doors to enter security was like sending a daughter away.  We hope Sister He will be admitted to BYU and that we will  see her again.  It is hard to realize that we probably won't ever again see many of our Chinese sons and daughters.  We are thankful that many of "our" missionaries live in the USA and won't be half a world away. 
I thought the departure board was interesting.  It would be fun to travel to some of these exotic places that really aren't very far from Australia.  It makes us realize that we really are on the other side of the world.
We drove to Shepparton, about a 3-4 hour drive from Melbourne, so we could inspect the cars during Zone Conference.  Max served here 50 years ago, so he was eager to get back to the district.  We walked along the Golburn River and thought this might be a nice retirement home for us. 
Problem is, I'm sure there are lots of snakes in this river.  The paths and trails that criss-cross the area are great for running and bike riding. 
Max posing with Yasmine and Jacky.  They are good friends and an interesting contrast in personalities, as Yasmine is quiet and Jacky never stops talking.  We love them both!
President and Sister Lifferth will complete their mission on July 1, after spending 3 years as Mission Presidents in the Australia Melbourne Mission.  We commissioned Robert Matheson to paint this picture of them walking in the Rhododendron Gardens.  We think they were pleased with it.
Sister Epa.....our office-mate, personal technology specialist, chauffeur, neighbor, and friend.  She exemplifies the Savior in how she lives her life and in the example she is to everyone of service, dedication and kindness.  We will miss her as we transfer to Tasmania. 

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about your mission. Good luck in Tasmania!