Wagga Wagga means "Many Crows," and we have seen our share of crows, magpies, different varieties of cockatoos, colorful parrots, lots of bugs, flies, bees, and even a poor little lizard that found its way into our kitchen. We weren't happy about the prospect of sharing our living space with lizards, so bought weather stripping to put on the door, hoping to stifle any efforts one may make to enter our house. We have heard and read horror stories of poisonous snakes showing up in places like yards, toilets, and closets. These warnings have prevented me from running on the numerous trails through the reserves in Wagga; instead I take my chance dodging cars in the streets. We have experienced temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, and yesterday, the temperature dropped 50 degrees in 12 hours. It hasn't rained much; rather the big sky in this bush country is generally blue without a cloud to be seen. We are very careful if we are driving in the bush in the evening, as we see evidence of lots of big red kangaroo road kill, one of which fell victim to President Maxwell's car when he came from Melbourne for missionary interviews. His car had to be towed back to Melbourne for repairs.
Missionary work is great, and we have the privilege of working with 4 sister missionaries who are motivated, committed, and full of fun and energy. Max is also serving as district leader, so we do the best we can to keep in contact with and support 4 sisters who live in Griffith, 2 1/2 hours away.The Wagga Branch is small, with a handful of incredibly faithful members who are dedicated, willing, and eager to serve in any capacity. The branch boundaries encompass a large area of the bush, and some members drive over 2 hours, one way, to attend meetings.
We are blessed to help the sisters in Wagga teach people from Iran, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Africa, and Taiwan, as well as Australians. It is amazing to witness how the Spirit helps those with limited English understand the concepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The diligence and obedience of the sisters is paying off, as we have had 3 baptisms in the last 3 weeks. We are also searching for many "lost sheep," with hopes of bringing them back into the fold.
For a PDay activity, we hiked to the top of "The Rock," a large outcrop shaped like a crouching lion that rises over the plains south-west of Wagga. It is the highest point in a small range that stands distinct from the flat farmland that surrounds it in all directions.
Sisters Fameitau, Cook, Ricks, and Tui.
Sister Cook at the top of The Rock. We pretty much had a 360 degree view of the surrounding farmland.
Matt Ede, a member of the Wagga Branch, is a sheep shearer. He invited us to one of the shearing sheds to watch the shearing process.
When sheep are sheared, their entire fleece comes off in one big piece. Depending on the size and breed of sheep, Matt shears between 150 and 300 sheep in a day. Foot positioning is very important, and the sheep don't put up much of a fight because of how the shearers hold them while shearing. Definitely this is a very skilled profession.
I think we were previewing a Mormon Message for use in Family Home Evening.
It is quite a coincidence that of the 8 of us serving in our district in Tasmania, 4 of us ended up in the Wangaratta District. Elders Whitehead and Sargeant are two of our favorite elders.
Max looks a little overwhelmed to be in charge of so many women, but he should be used to it. Sister Cook and Shurtz both were transferred back to the city. We will really miss their leadership.
Sister Tui is a great missionary, good cook, and has a fun sense of humor. She keeps us well entertained. The sisters from Tonga wear black tights and long sleeved blouses or sweaters, even when the weather is really hot, because they don't want their skin to get any darker. I think their skin is beautiful!
For a Family Home Evening game before Halloween, we played the mummy wrap-up game.
The "blood" on the mummies came from mulberries on our two mulberry trees.
The Wagga Chapel is located on a hill, so its steeple is seen from the distance.
Many people put kangaroo guards on the front of their vehicles.
Our trees were loaded with juicy, sweet mulberries.
Sister Gonzales is from the Phillipines, Sister Ricks is from St. George, Sister Fameitau is from Sydney, and Sister Tui is from Tonga. Sister Tui loves to pose for photos.
We don't know the name of these birds, but they like the seeds in our weedy "lawn."
The Wollundry Lagoon is a beautiful backdrop for the the Wagga Civic Theater, library, and amphitheater. The open space in this area is used for festivals, weddings, and a farmers market.
A mother duck was taking her ducklings for a swim in the lagoon.
Sister Tui "won" the gold coin in a FHE game. I'm not sure if the dollar she earned digging through the flour with her teeth was worth it.
Elder Fillmore and his district. Talk about hormones!
The tall and the short of it. Sister Gonzales and Ricks comprise an amazing companionship.
The roses in the Wagga Botanical Garden were spectacular before the hot windy weather