Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Australian Adventures!

G'day to One and All! This is Scott once again, telling of our month's adventures:
In May, we had a lovely Missionary Zone Conference. Two separate Zones combined, meeting at the Stake Center in Narre Warren, just out of Melbourne. Elder Burton and his wife from the Area Pacific Region were our special guests. Elder Burton is also a medical doctor and he held personal interviews with any missionary that had health issues. We were invited to meet with him, also, but felt that appointment was not necessary!!
The Pakenham Stake Road Shows.....because Traralgon ward is so small, as well as a 'country' ward, we invited the entire ward to be in it! The theme of these road shows was Fairy Tales with a Twist. Our ward was given "The Princess and the Pea", Bro. Tainton, a cute 60-year old man, has a loud and strong singing voice, so he was Prince Babel. Sister Suzanne Walters, (from U.S., by the way!) was our Princes Winifred. Everytime they referred to the princess, she recited the Young Women's Theme. And Prince Babel was "smitten" over her from the moment she enters for the Ball, all muddy and bedraggled, because she had had a car accident. We had portions of 14 songs in 15 minutes, which included 3 Royal dances (VERY basic, but clever!). The Ward received a certificate for 'Participation.' Three of the wards meet in the Stake Center building and were used to the stage and did major productions that lasted 30-40 minutes. Traralgon ward is 1 1/2 hours away and of course we had to arrange transportation for everyone. But all-in-all, it was of great benefit to all, and our ward had a ball at Elder Solomon's professional directing. Our costumes, were basically pointed hats with ribbons and paper crowns. The wedding dress was made from polyester we found in an Opp Shop for $4 and the veil, a lace curtain for 50 cents. The dress had no back!! It was a very fast costume change!
Now, into June, all you that know me know 'I'm not one to complain.' BUT, at the Zone Conference meeting, I found a note on our car from the office staff that inspect missionary cars and the note said "Please Clean Me!" Now, I need to explain that we live in the 'country'. I had washed and vacuumed the car before the week-end because we give members rides to church. Our drive way, or "car park" as they say in Oz, is barely wide enough for the car and a foot path to the front door. I, therefore, must walk in the ever-present mud, so my car mat is always a mess. Then on Monday and Tuesday, we give rides to Family Home Evening and Institute class. Thursday was more people going to Roadshow practice. Friday we had an appointment in Yarram. Yarrom is over the hill and through the forest, one hour away, at which time we enjoyed rain most of the trip. After a lovely dinner at one of the homes there, as we crossed a grassy front yard, in the dark, I unknowingly stepped on goat poo!! In the dark that night, we were lucky to find our car and start for home!! When we got home, our porch light revealed the truth! But Saturday morning, I vacuumed and washed the Driver's side of the car; sprayed it with bathroom deodorizer and prepared for the day. At 3:00pm, we picked up this cute Nigerian family in the ward and headed for Narre Warren, 1 1/2 hours away to perform the Road Shows. The car was full of props, costumes, little kids, a Mom and us. Sunday morning, I discovered the back seat and floor were covered with crackers in bits and pieces. Again a quick vacuum and off to pick up members for church. Monday and Tuesday were busy as usual. Wednesday we were up at 5:00am to go back to Narre Warren for the Zone Conference and received my little' note' and not once have I complained!!!
Another special activity in June was our Senior Couples Retreat, planned and hosted by Elder and Sister Solomon! Last year, around April 2010, shortly after our arrival in Australia, we had a wonderful retreat with all the Senior Couples, which have all gone home. So this year it was up to the Solomons to plan the trip. The couples involved Elder & Sister Clymore, from Idaho, who work as heads in the Mission Office and are in charge of finance, missionaries coming and going, housing, transportation, etc., Elder & Sister Williams from Nebraska, who are assigned to live in the heart of down-town Melbourne and teach English to Chinese students and run a Church Youth Center. Chinese students come here to study when they join the church and then take the language skills back to China. We have a lot of members in China and have many wards. However we still can't proselyte in China. It is very interesting how many Chinese and Hong Kong missionaries we have teaching English, and how many English-speaking missionaries teach Chinese.
Back to the Retreat: The other couple was Elder & Sister Woodruff (yes, 'direct' descendent to Pres. Wilford Woodruff!), from Utah.
President and Sister Lifferth also went accompanied by the Solomons. It was so fun for us to take these couples. Except for the Lifferths, none of them had been anywhere but the Office. Because we have been stationed out and about the state of Victoria, we have truly 'seen' the sights, and met a lot of people.
Out Trip: We left Melbourne on a Thursday a.m., drove north to Shepparton; stopped and visited the famous Cow Park and all the painted cow statues; had a Subway lunch in the park and then left northwest for Kyabrum, a town with a famous Park. In town we met up with Pres. Lauder for directions to the Florel and Fauna Park. As luck would have it, at the corner we were to meet him at, had a Vinnies!!!(St. Vincent's Thrift Shop) I wasn't even the 'first' one in, but I did get a hand-painted plate for $5. Then on to the Park. It was acres and acres which included a Wetland, an open range and exhibits.And thus, our couples had their first view of Australian animals! An emu came over and walked with our group, which was just great until he opened his beak!! The kangaroos were just as interested in us and we were in them. I didn't realize how many different kinds of 'roos' there are. (In Oz, we call them 'roos.') The dingoes were in a large area with a 12-foot fence. I didn't care how tall the fence was, it made me nervous to be that close. We also saw Tasmanian Devils, wombats, echnidas, and all kinds of Australian birds. Oh, snakes also. It was like a Zoo; we stayed until dark, bought a few souvenirs, then headed up the track (narrow Oz road) to Echuca!!
Bro. and Sis. Ludby had invited us to their home for dinner. They had also arranged for us to stay at the Comfort Inn that night, breakfast at his restaurant, tickets for a steam Paddle Boat ride up the Murray River AND lunch on the boat. The Murray is the longest
river in Australia. In the early, Colonial days, the Paddle Boats brought goods up from Melbourne and Adelaide to Echuca and returned with cotton, wool, grains, etc.
Back to story: a member in Traralgon had given Sister Solomon and me, each a hand-tooled leather wallet. On the trip, mine kept falling out of my pocket while we were in the van. We were to meet Sister Ludby on the highway before we enter Echuca township. On the highway, a car was parked along the side, so we also stopped, thinking it was Sis. Ludby. It was not. I did notice we had stopped near a certain building. We continued up the road until we found her and followed her to her house that is in the outskirts of Echuca. As I got out of the van, I realized I had no wallet. Pres. Lifferth took me back to the two spots we had stopped on the highway...and there it was, ten kilos back, in the dark, on the side of the road.
The next day was really pleasant because it is winter down here. There are no flies, mozzies or sun burns. We just wore coats and enjoyed every minute. On the way home, Elder Clymore insisted I take pictures out the window of the sunset. I took a couple to please him, but when we got home and had them printed, they were rather good, so I took the credit. We all had a great time. It was nice to get to know the other couples better, and we were glad to see some of the country we had grown to love in the first part of our mission.
This morning after studies, I went to the local Barber for a hair cut. He remembered me, the Yank, and how I like it cut. An older gent was in the chair next to me. When his cut was done, he emphasized how much he liked his cut and how good it made him feel. After he left the shop, I told my barber "There are two things that make a man feel good: a trip to the Tip (dump) and a hair cut." The Barber laughed and agreed.
Our chapel here in Traralgon is about the same as the Viking Chapel in Las Vegas. It is quite similar except the door handles are all up high. Anyway, the building has been in need of some TLC; cobwebs are very visible under the eves; a lot of black mold in the grout joints and the footpaths are black with cement mold.
Saturday, a group of members met to dust, vacuum, wash windows inside and out and pressure-wash the outside walls. Of course, that called for a "barbie" for the noon break! We aren't sure whether we're just getting used to the sausage or if we were just hungry, but it was very tasty! And the fact that there is only one ward in this building, they keep sausage in the freezer and bread in the cupboard. It's really like a "kitchen away from home." Yes, and the Bishop's Mother-in-law always does the dishes and keeps the kitchen sparkling clean. A thought 'from the past'....When the Sacrament cups were glass, my mother said it was the Bishop's Mother that would wash them and had them ready for the next Sunday. I was very young and barely remember the glass cups!!
We sure have missed the American holidays! It will be so nice to be home for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Last year, we were invited to a high place in Dandenong Mtn. to watch the fireworks over Melbourne. The idea of driving on the wrong side of the road in the dark, late at night didn't sound fun to me! However, as we sat alone in the flat, we wondered if we should have tried it! I guess it was televised world-wide!
Halloween is strictly an American holiday. Some Australians think it's a good idea; others don't want it if the Americans did it first. Also No Thanksgiving here either: no Puritan here to build a nation for religion. The criminals were sent here for punishment!
Christmas: the "shops" put up some very sun-bleached decor that is usually covered in dust. The Christmas trees that we have seen in homes are very small, no snow underneath and not many lights because electricity is so expensive. Besides it is summer-time and everywhere is HOT.
Probably the biggest holiday, with the most exciting, is called Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas for sales in the shops., and packing up Christmas, to get ready for the New Year's parties.
Our calendar is always full in 'ticking' off the days. Here are some of the items: every Wednesday morning, Sing-a-long at the Hazelcrest Care Center in Churchill; President's Fireside in Melbourne, the first Sunday evening of every month; Choir Practice every Sunday after church; Family Home Evening every Monday evening; Institute every Tuesday evening; we had four dinner invites in June and taught several lessons; a Saturday Missionary activity at Sales. Sales is the name of a town about 1 hour east of Traralgon and very very near to the coast. 4 young Elders and the Solomon couple participated at a Missionary Booth in the Sales Farmer's Market that a member in the Sales Branch created. Sale is also a port. There is a large lake nearby, so in the early days, men hand dug a canal big enough to bring cargo boats into Sale to pick up supplies. The canal is still there but the boats you see now are all recreational.
Sister Solomon had a Stake Relief Society Conference in Narre Warren. She rode there with Sister Bates and Scott hung out with Brother Bates and watched a couple of movies and ate meat pies! Australians LOVE their meat pies. We're still not crazy about them. As I always say, everything in Australia is the 'same' but 'different.' Because the week-end was so messed up, Sister Solomon taught piano here and there when ever time would allow. It's quite a challenge!
Other news items were losing Shirley's temple recommend, which was such a puzzle and our checkbook. After searching for 5 weeks, she just this week, found both in another purse that was out-of-sight on the top of her cupboard! So, all is well, and time is "flying." There's been a strange "phenomena" occur recently, where now the time nears to end our mission, we don't want it to end. Is that normal? First we're "trunky" and now we're sad to be leaving. You just never know. But we have truly loved our service here in Australia, and have both 'grown in our testimonies and love for the Lord, and the members of the Church that we serve with and will always treasure these blessings. Until we meet again, Elder & Sister Solomon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Winter Down Under"

Author: Scott

I cannot express how green and beautiful it is here in the Traralgon area. And now I know 'why' rains on & off continually and now it is cold and miserable! Our clothes dryer vent is on the front of the machine. When the dryer is on, we open the back door to let the steam heat out to keep the rest of the windows in the kitchen from 'steaming up.'

(Beautiful spider web on our clothes line)

To start with our May Blog, we received a message about Osama and his son. It said: "Osama bin Laden and his son have brought a new meaning to the phrase, "taking the bins out!" to a whole new level." In Australia, one puts 'rubbish' in 'bins.' Also, in the news, the Aussies love Kate Middleton who just married into the Royal Family, because she has a relative that is a criminal! Australia was originally populated by penal colonies.

The Sunday before Easter our ward choir sang for the first time. It was a very exciting moment. We sang an arrangement from the Hymnal Plus, "I Need Thee Every Hour." They had never sung anything except from the hymn book. Two of our Polynesian families were absent however, so I went through the congregation and gathered some replacements. On top of all this, the Bishop asked us to speak. Sister Solomon talked on how the Atonement can help us in our daily lives and Elder Solomon talked on the Atonement, the Spirit World and our resurrection.
The same day, Sister Solomon taught Relief Society. She had been assigned the topic of 'gratitude' which pleased her because she brought some of her talks and lessons with her, and this was a 'favorite.' The most interesting part of the lesson was when she opened the discussion for comments as for what, as a Latter-Day Saint woman , they were most grateful. The sisters all expressed how grateful they were to live in Australia and how much they loved their country. This is a good thing. Everyone should like where they live.

Our sweet, wonderful Shepparton Branch President Fa'amoe had a terrible accident at work in the orchards, and was hospitalized in Melbourne. He had to get off his tractor to remove a piece of hose that was left in the orchard between the trees. As I understand it, the slicers cut him on both sides of his shin bone and broke his ankle. I am sure he will be out of work at least 6 months. He is one of just a few men that work all year in the orchards. Not only does he run the big equipment; he also organizes the 'pruners' and 'pickers' throughout the year.

In April, there was a Quilt Show in Sale, about 50 minutes east of Traralgon. Sale is the name of a very old town. So, of course, we had to go see what was what!! We are so glad we went because we appreciate our Cedar City Quilt Guild more than ever. The quilt stands were made out of timber(an Aussie word). They had three different classes on making selective quilts. There were about 20 small quilts made with old doilies and lace. Another class was a fast diamond-shaped square that looked to me like they were re-used material from outworn dresses! Fabrics here in Oz are from Singapore, Africa and the U.S., and is v-e-r-y- "dear"='expensive!!! And, there was only one quilt that was hand-stitched.
I have just checked the list of things I wanted to mention. Of course, nothing is in order so please accept our comments.

Last Sunday after church, the Priesthood, including several sisters, went on a ward project. A family in the ward moved to Queensland, taking with them only their clothes in a couple of suitcases. They left everything including furniture, etc. and most of it was in the back yard, along with everything broken and bags of used clothing, toys and junk. Well, the garbage pick-up and the Tip(dump) are privately owned so everything goes on their schedule. The Bishop did not want to leave such a mess for the land lord and the garbage pick up would only be at 6:00am, Monday; and only if everything was broken down and bagged and placed out on the 'nature strip'. We all wore yellow vests with "Helping Hands" and pulled the "ox out of the mire."
In our blog, we are careful not to tell personal experiences. Some things and people we deal with should not be discussed. Please know for sure that we keep busy.
The big news this month so far is that I turned 73. And Shirley and Arlene can be any age they want to be, too! The fact is I can't believe how well I am. I have never been a good reader, so books were never a good past time for me. But here in the mission field, I must read and study. When I was young, I could read a page from top to bottom and never know what I read. I have truly been blessed serving the Lord. Not only do I study the standard works, but I've also read Jesus, the Christ again and the Articles of Faith by Talmadge and my third novel! After I finished my first novel, I wanted to tell my mother because she knew how hard reading was for me.
Our health is really good, too. We are truly blessed and we know it. However when we get home, we will need a health 'pit stop.'....things like teeth, eyes, and some inners, so we can keep going a few more miles.
Pakenham Roadshows are on the 14th. We will report on them in the next Blog, but once again it is a rare experience!!!
Australian expressions: like Americans goon 'vacations'...Europeans go on 'holiday'....Australians 'go away.' A 'tree trimmer' is a 'tree topper'' the Bishop is referred to as 'the Bish' and twice we have God referred to as a 'good bloke!' And talk about travel! Here are some names of towns we pass through: NarNar Goon...Koolumburra...Bunyip...
Koo-Wee-Rup....Moorrabin... Pakenham...Wagga Wagga...Narre Warren...and the list goes on.
Easter Friday, we were invited to a quaint town up in the mountains, called Erica, for a family get-together at a restaurant. The main street consisted of a General Store and a family-type Bar & Grill. The decor was done in tree-cutting machinery from 'days past.' They had a chain saw the size of Paul Bunyan. It had two handles like a dirt plow and a third handle that came out the other end of the rotation. It was a monster! For lunch, we had a steak served on a hot rock. The steak was seared on top but had not been cooked. We were to cut a piece and lay it on the rock until it was done to our own preference. For dessert, they served 3 colors of Italian Ices on a 'cold' rock. We surely enjoyed the food and the experience.
We have a few pictures to show all these experiences.
We are hoping to do some traveling the next 3 months, to see the sights that are a must before we leave. And once again, we feel the love and prayers in our behalf and send our love, best wishes to everyone. Elder and Sister Solomon

(Famous mountain resort area)

(Maureen & Warren Bates:escorted us on sight-seeing on the way to Codes Farm)

(Campers along the way)

(Sights along the way to Codes Farm)

(The Codes Family)

(Ian Codes playing piano for us...nice!!)

(An original mining station on the Codes Farm)

(Enjoying a BBQ)

(Parrots and Cockatoos everywhere we go!)

(Us in a forest of trees and ferns)

(Scenes on the way to Erica for a steak dinner)

(A beautiful house on the way to a town called Sale)

(Quilt show in Sale)

(Quilts on display)

(New piano student Turrie)

(Making lap quilts for the elderly in our wards cold chapel)

(Our little garden area in our backyard)

(Hilltop view of the Gippsland valley where we live)

(Christine and Willie)

(President East Fireside participants; The O Lord My Redeemer quartet)

(My Shepparton friends, Isa and Chris)

(Fascinated with garage doors here)

(Bostonian Elder Baker singing "His Hands")

(Bark from Euchaliptus tree)

(Our new District Group: Elders Ipsom, Pak, Mills, Masuka, Nebeker, & Stinson)

(Bishop Watson anxious to go cycling)

(See steak on volcanic hot rock? We "shared" one)

(Meals in preparation)

(Grandpa thoroughly enjoying visit with Bishops brother)

(After dinner fun and games)

(Bishops extended family at Erica Lodge bar and grill)