my goodness how time flies when you are having fun!!!!! It is now really 2018. Where did 2017 go?
Monday, 18 Dec - The morning was spent with Sister Haley helping declutter the sister's house. Elder Haley ran other errands. The afternoon was spent taking apart Bethlehem, Zarahemla and Grafton Christmas scenes. It was a lovely activity and everyone seemed to have a great time.
Tuesday, 19 Dec - Last primary activity day before the summer holidays. We also spent time at Bunnings (like Home Depot) looking for some parts for the curtains we are working on at the branch meeting house.
Wednesday, 20 Dec - a "normal" day, kind of. We got ready for the District Training Meeting. Tonight we have the elders from Coffs as well as the Grafton Elders, so there is more food to prepare - pancakes and bacon (that is what they wanted). We are amazed at how these young men (and women) step up and are able to lead the meetings and bring really good, spiritual thoughts. The power of being a full time missionary. We gave each of the elders a small Christmas present.
Thursday, 21 Dec - lots of errands and tasks and yard work. Have to start getting things cleaned up for our YSA guests who come in on Sunday. We went shopping to fill 3 Christmas hampers for some of the members in the branch who have less.
Friday, 22 Dec - Clean the meetinghouse. We delivered the hampers with President Norman in the afternoon.
Saturday, 23 Dec - nothing written on the calendar, so we must have died today. I am sure we did things as there never seems to be a dull day around here.
Sunday, 24 Dec - The Hyde Park YSA arrived this evening at about 5 pm - Shawn Long, Klaus Ni, Deshao Liu, Kayi Ng, Emma Teng, Wu Jie (Vicky). All are from Hong Kong or China. These kids are great and we really enjoy being with them. We rented an 8 passenger van to haul us all around the area. We just drove around the Junction Hill area today and saw some kangaroos and looked at the stars.
Monday, 25 Dec - CHRISTMAS. Santa was able to find Grafton, NSW, and left presents for the YSA and the Haleys. One of the presents for the guys was a large bubble wand, so everyone went into the back yard and made bubbles. We went to President Normans for Christmas lunch - Ham, Turkey, and all the fixins and desserts. A HUGE storm came in at 3:15 just after we finished lunch and drenched the entire town. We were eating outside under the porch awning, so we did not get wet. Then back to our home where we goofed off and played board games.
Tuesday, 26 Dec - Boxing day. We drove over to Broomshead to see the ocean from the bluff. We also were able to find a number of roos for the kids to see and photo. They were able to get within 10 feet or so of some of the roos which was a delight for those who had not seen roos in the wild before. We then went home, went to Coles to buy the makings of dumplings, and then home to start a production line on making a million (or so it seemed) pork or lamb dumplings. The best part of making the dumplings was in eating them after they were made
Wednesday, 27 Dec - A sad day. We took the YSA to the train station and sent them back to Sydney 😢 The rest of the day was in cleaning up the house and washing the bed sheets. The YSA are good at cleaning up after themselves - they do all the cooking and washing of the dishes. It is a real pleasure to have them here.
Thursday, 28 Dec - Talked with Mom this morning instead of Wednesday am. Another errand and clean up day. Busy, but nothing exciting.
Friday, 29 Dec - Talk about exciting. Today is Margaret's birthday. Happy Birthday Margaret/Sister Haley. We went to Coffs Harbour for the day. Spent much of it with the Coffs elders. We needed to check out several things in their flat that the landlord said needed replacing - some can be repaired in my opinion. Took the elders out for lunch at one of the local Chinese restaurants. Margaret and I went to the "jetty" where we walked out to the end and watched the ocean. We did see some kayaks get into the water and then row out past the jetty into the sea - more power to them. We drove along the beach front and stopped at a few places to see the ocean/beach. Then started to head home and went to Sealy Lookoout where you can see the entire valley around Coffs Harbour. It was a really nice view. We then took the back roads to Woolgoolga and saw this little town that we have heard about, but never visited. It is just a small beach front town that gets heaps of visitors/campers during the summer; and then dwindles back to normal size after the summer holiday season. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant there. Then we headed for home and got back home around 930pm.
Saturday, 30 Dec - Lots of calls on Viber from the kids, wishing Margaret a Happy Birthday. Finished cleaning up the house and getting ready for Sunday. We did run some shopping errands and took one of the sisters into shop so she would not go shopping on Sunday.
Sunday, 31 Dec - Last day of 2017. Attended our Church meetings. worked on several assignments for the Branch. We did stay up until midnight so we could watch the fireworks in Sydney - live on Youtube. Then collapsed in bed from staying up so late - we must be getting old.
Clean up after the Branch Christmas activity
Our favourite calf - the white/brown speckled one with mom
One Charley Brown Christmas tree
Silver & purple - waiting on Santa
Oh boy, pancakes and bacon
One of the things that elders do best - eat
Happy campers after dinner & dessert
One set of curtains that we have bought and hung in the meetinghouse
Two of the Christmas hampers we delivered
Christmas tree in the living room
our favourite calf again. Love the big, floppy ears. He is part Brahma
look at those ears. Dumbo would be jealous
Flowers all over the place. Allamandra
The train is arriving from Sydney. Hooray
We are not excited or anything
The YSA contingent from Sydney. Shawn, Deshao, Klaus, Vicky, Emma, Ka Yi
the happy group. Hail, Hail the gangs all here
On the way to the Clarence River. Our evening walk
Sunset. The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous here in Grafton
I am forever blowing bubbles
bubbles - more
and more bubbles
Margaret checking out the bubble makers
Catch it on your tongue. Yuck, what a taste
Christmas breakfast - Danish compliments of Margaret
The ham for Christmas lunch
Where there are YSA, there movies & videos
Christmas lunch is served
Let's eat. What are we waiting for?
dessert. Pavlova, fruit, ice cream
Spencer Norman (aka Harry Potter), Ka Yi, Emma
The rain after Christmas dinner
Oh, and did I tell you that this is our favourite calf?
A nice, cozy game of cards whilst it is raining outside
Christmas is a time to relax - hang in there Shawn
The crew in a sugar cane field
Brooms Head bluff
Roos laying down on the job at one of the Brooms Head camp sites
On part of the beach, Brooms Head
the YSA on the hunt of a roo
Happy and in the kitchen. Working on making dumplings
Klaus kneading dough for the dumplings
The team at work
the assembly line - even Margaret is getting into the act
Dumplings, dumplings. coming out of our ears
and more dumplings
Sending Vicky off on the train to Sydney
Love the kids and they love Sister Haley
Vicky on the train before departing for Sydney
Sigh - sending the kids home
The YSA - love them
Oh, Elder & Sister Haley
Coffs Harbour. The jetty is on the right
The Jetty - looking out to sea
The Jetty - it is a long walk
Kayakers in the ocean, past the protection of the Jetty
Coffs Harbour from Sealy Lookout
The other side of Coffs from Sealy Lookout
A banana bunch with the flower on the bottom of the bunch
Another bunch of bananas
A bunch of bananas covered to protect them from birds. The bottom is open to allow the bunch to get air and grow
Margaret on the hunt for a wild banana
Sikh Temple at Woolgoolga
Woolgoolga headlands with Margaret
What is Mike taking a picture of?
This crevice and surf
Under 11 years, calf riding
Team steer roping. One rider lassos the head and the other lassos the hind legs
Now this is a bull that is trying to be ridden - good luck and watch out for the horns
Oh man, the bull was mean