Monday, December 26, 2016

Tuesday, 27 Dec 2016

While Margaret is working with a couple of the girls on preparing for the IELTS English test, Mike is out goofing off with some of the missionaries and YSA.

Some of the YSA waiting for lunch - Giulia, Sister Yu, Gabby, Mrs. Kamikawachi

Master Chefs at work on the barbe

Some working and some waiting

Our bbq spot in Prince Alfred park, Sydney 

Food.  It is getting closer to ready for eating

Monday, 26 Dec 2016   Boxing Day

Margaret worked with one of the girls on her English for a few hours this morning.

Today some of the Senior Missionaries hired a boat and went out on the Sydney Harbour to watch the Sydney to Hobart sail boat race start.  We then parked the boat in a cove and some of the grandkids of one of the missionary pair swam for awhile.  The rest of us sat and napped or talked.  A nice relaxing afternoon.

The Opera House from our departure point

Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Just to prove that Mike was really on the boat with Margaret. Sydney CBD (city business district) in the background

A larger sailing ship that is just out to watch the Sydney to Hobart race

Sister Marsha Lems and Sister Margaret Haley

The race is about to begin

The lovers out on the bow of the catamaran

Boats racing to keep up with the sailing ships as they head out through the North & South Points on their way to Hobart, Tasmania

The Aussie Elder Haley looking longingly back at Sydney

Bombs away

yes you can swim in Sydney Harbour. 

Sigh.  Time to leave the cove and go back to the real world.

Sunday, 25 Dec 2016   CHRISTMAS DAY

Sacrament meeting was a special program of music and narration from the Scriptures regarding the birth of Jesus Christ.  Mike & Margaret narrated the program.  Music was provided by a number of people and the ward choir.
After Sacrament meeting, the ward walked over to Hyde Park for a ward picture. Then we walked back and waited on the final food preparation.  After Christmas dinner everyone helped clean up and then we all went home.  We got home around 4 pm and laid down for a short nap.  Three hours later we woke up and decided to have some guacamole dip for dinner - which we had to make before we could eat it. Then we relaxed for a bit and then went to sleep - a nice ending to a long, hard day.

One last cupcake picture before they are sacrificed on the tables to the YSA

Hyde Park - YSA milling around as they try to get organised to have a ward picture

Going through the serving line - ham, chicken, turkey, veggies, stuffing, gravy

Christmas dinner table with food & YSA

More Christmas dinner

and more Christmas dinner - Nicole, Hannah & ??

Christmas dinner table set with food before the YSA sits down

Christmas dinner table

Serving table - Margaret serving stuffing and gravy & turkey

Intimate dinner for 110

More of the 110

and more 

Some of the Elders and YSA members. From left to right - Elder Jung, Pay, Elder Tseng, Elder Mistura, Elder Dong, DeShao

Saturday, 24 Dec 2016

We cleaned level 1 of the meeting house early Saturday morning.  Then went back to the flat where Margaret worked on finishing up the fancy cupcakes for Christmas dinner.
Mike came back to the meeting house at 2 pm to help set up tables and decorate the tables and room.

Some of the fancy cupcakes made by Margaret.  The recipes are at

Orange flavored cupcakes

More cupcakes

close up of some of the cupcakes

Another close up

and one more

Ginger bread with cinnamon icing

and one last shot of the cupcakes 

A side table with deocrations and hand carved watermelon & radish

Watermelon carved with leaves - very intricate.  Radish carved as bird with feathers and tail from watermelon rind

tables set up before any food is on them

Another shot of the tables.  Set for 100 people

Friday, 23 Dec 2016

My how time flies when you are having fun or on a mission.  It is Friday already and I am not sure what happened to the other days this week.

Monday -  I am not sure what we did in the morning and afternoon, but it came & went.  Around 6 pm
we both went out to the Mission home with one of the ladies that Margaret is working with on her English.  She is from Iran and is Muslim, but has an interest in learning more about Christianity.  Margaret is learning how the Muslims revere Jesus and Mary - it is all quite interesting and enlightening.  We have a whole lot more in common than one would expect. They (Margaret & her friend) took about 1 1/2 hours to view the 33 paintings of the Saviour's life in the Christmas display. Then off to the video of the life of Christ and then look at the Nativity.  We got back home around 11:30 pm.  A long, but fruitful, day.

Margaret explaining Joseph Smith's vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to her friend from Iran

Tuesday -  Mike went grocery shopping with one of the SA that needs some help from the Church.  He also needs to be taught how to cook his own food.  One of the Elders has written some instructions and gave him the web site for  Chinese cooking lessons.  He will not starve.
Then the rest of the day was working with others on English and Bishopric meeting in the evening.

Wednesday - We took a train to the Blue Mountains with the Lems and 8 of the YSA.  We went out to see the Three Sisters and the Katoomba falls.  It was a nice tourist day with sunshine and cool temperatures.  We had a picnic lunch and enjoyed the views.  We also did a fair amount of walking.

Friday - We went back to St Mary of the Cross and watched the light show with our friend, Rhonda Crosbie.   I took videos of the Nut Cracker and Madonna & Child - see the videos on Mike's FB page

Starting our train trip to Katoomba from Central Station with the Lems and some of the YSA

Arrived at Katoomba 2 hours after leaving Central station

Katoomba station

The Three Sisters - the 3 large pieces of rock in center of the picture

A closer look at the Three Sisters.  

Panorama of the Three Sisters (left) and the valley they look over.  It is a Grand Canyon with lots of green

The Three Sisters and the 3 sisters (Lems, Haley, Gabby Xing

The Leura bird.  More on this when I get the story from Margaret

Crossing the bridge over to one of the Three Sisters

Looking out into the valley from one of the Three Sisters

The sheer drop along the edge of the mountain near the Three Sisters

Mike & Margaret posing (per instructions from one of the YSA) on the edge of the cliff (above)

Katoomba water cascade, not Katoomba Falls

Katoomba water cascade.  On a hot day this sure looked inviting

On the train on the way home - we are all "dead"
Mike (squinting to do a selfie), Margaret and Rhonda Crosbie at St Mary of the Cross

St Mary of the Cross - beginning of the light show