Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sunday, 19 Nov 2017

Monday, 6 Nov - Mike picked up Spencer Norman and took him to Kindy School since his mum was not feeling well.  We made some visits to the hospital this morning.  There were 2 members and the mother of member there.  We could have spent all day at the hospital, but we were headed out of town to show some of the country to Rhonda Crosbie.  We drove the old Glen Innes road which was about half blacktop and half gravel.  We stopped along the river to have lunch. We then went on and  stopped at the old tunnel (65 km from town) and turned around.  When we got back to town we had to pick up a dinner to be delivered to the son of one of the sisters in hospital.  Then we picked up Spencer from Kindy and took him for dinner at I Scream (ham & cheese sandwich, hamburgers & ice cream) and then put some petrol in his mum's car where she had left it near our house because she ran out of petrol.  Mike then drove it to a petrol station and put some petrol in it.  We got hit by a big lightning, thunder & rain storm - nice to have the rain.

Tuesday, 7 Nov - This is the last day of Rhonda Crosbie's stay with us.  It has been a good visit and we are glad that she came up for awhile.

Wednesday, 8 Nov - normal day with normal activities, including playing taxi driver.  I thought taxi driving ended when our kids left home.

Thursday, 9 Nov - Visited with one of the investigators and then normal activities.  Branch Presidency meeting and YW/YM in the evening.

Friday, 10 Nov - Helped clean the meeting house in the morning - an every Friday task. Drove out past Half-way Creek (45 min drive) to visit with Barry Ward - we like spending time with him.  Then back to Grafton to deliver a meal to one of the members.  Then Margaret met with Sister Stiller to work on the Christmas Activity - a progressive dinner starting in Bethlehem, then Zarahemla and ending in Grafton NSW.

Saturday, 11 Nov -  visited several members of the branch who needed a visit.  Then worked on preparing food for the Branch luncheon Sunday after meetings. Veterans Day in the USA.

Sunday, 12 Nov - Pres Alfred and his wife visited the branch today and spoke in Sacrament meeting. We had a potluck lunch afterwards - HEAPS of food.

Monday, 13 Nov - We finished submitting our Australian Federal Police background check application today.  We are working on extending our mission by 6 months.  Made a visit to hospital to check on members there.

Tuesday, 14 Nov - Called the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral to make an appointment with Bishop Macneil, but ended up talking with Reverend Ian Chaplin, Senior Priest, at Christ Church.  More on this tomorrow.  Went to the Primary activity and then went to the printers to pick up the Christmas activity flyer.  At 630pm the branch council met to work on distributing the flyers to members and community personnel.

Wednesday, 15 Nov -  A very special day in the life of Elder & Sister Haley.  This is going to be a long winded email (something I do not do very often), so have a seat and a hot chocolate while you read this.  I hope that I am not bragging, but showing what can happen when we follow the promptings of the Spirit and are not afraid to be a witness of Jesus Christ and take a step forward in faith.  This was not an easy task for us and a few times we almost backed out, but we knew it was the right thing and that we were being led by the Spirit to do what was right. (I am not good or comfortable hobnobbing with officials in organisations.)  Also, this shows how we can do what our local leaders are inspired to ask us to do, as President Norman wants to become more active in the community so that we can be known for our good works and community service.  In his words, he wants to bring the Church out of obscurity in Grafton – in a good way as we have some old impressions and biases to overcome.

During the Jacaranda festival, Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral hosted an ecumenical church service.  President Norman was made aware of it by one of our members, but he was not able to attend.  I originally said – ok, not my bailiwick and decided not to go; however, the Spirit prompted me to take Sister Haley to the service and meet the member who brought this to our attention. We went and many of the ministers in town participated in the service (we did not as we were not involved with the planning of it), and we noticed that there was a Grafton Ministers Association (GMA).  I talked with Pres Norman and he asked me to find out about the GMA and how we could participate.

So I thought I would approach Bishop Macneil, Anglican Bishop of the Grafton Diocese, since she was the one conducting the ecumenical service.   I was also prompted to give her a Book of Mormon to fulfil my Book of Mormon challenge that is going on in the Branch at the moment. Well, I could not make an appointment with the Bishop, so I tried Reverend Ian Chaplin, Senior Associate Priest at Christ Church Cathedral.  He answered the phone and I asked if we (Sister Haley & I) could meet with him the next day as we had a few questions we needed help with.  He agreed and invited us to his 10 am service on Wednesday, 15 Nov.  Originally we were not going to go to the service, but were prompted by the Spirit to attend in order to show some interest and sincerity towards Reverend Chaplin. Sister Haley & I attended the service and then met with Reverend Chaplin after the service. We talked for a few minutes at the Cathedral and then he invited us to come over to his home and chat.  His home was the Bishop’s house – he is the husband of Bishop Macneil.  We had a pleasant visit for about 15-20 minutes thanks to Sister Haley who is a wonderful conversationalist.  Without her I would have been at a loss to keep a good conversation going that helped build a good relationship with Reverend Chaplin.  We then asked about how we could join or be invited to join the GMA and talked about that for a few minutes. The Reverend was quite favorable toward the idea of the LDS Church being part of the community minister’s group. During this conversation we presented him with a Book of Mormon and asked him to read the Introduction when he had a few minutes as it pointed out that we know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world.  We also gave him a copy of the Articles of Faith and an invitation to the Branch Christmas activity which is a progressive dinner starting in Bethlehem, then Zarahemla and ending in Grafton. Reverend Chaplin knows of the Church, seems to have a positive view towards it and likes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The visit was very friendly and cordial.

Reverend Chaplin took us to the Cathedral office and introduced us to Reverend Camellia Flanagan and Roger Moore, office manager, and got the necessary information about the GMA from them.  Reverend Flanagan is the one who attends the GMA meetings and she invited us to attend the 19 December luncheon. President Norman hopes to be able to attend this luncheon, work permitting. We are now going to visit a few of the clergy in town prior to the luncheon so that we are not crashing the party or shocking them when we arrive for the luncheon.  The GMA is active in a few community activities that support/further religious education and awareness.

We hope and pray that we will be able open more doors and create new friendships with the other religious leaders in Grafton. We are off to a good start thanks to the leadership of President Norman. This experience definitely shows that the Lord can use the weak (me, not Sister Haley or President Norman) to bring about His purposes.

Thursday, 16 Nov - Taxi driving time again.  We went out to Maclean (45 minutes to the north) to visit some of the sisters who live/work there.  We also took sacrament to Sister Hibberd who is in a nursing home in Maclean.  On the way, we stopped in Ulmarra at a used book store and picked up 5 Arthur Upfield books (fiction) for Mom Haley on a part aboriginal detective named Bony (short for Bonaparte).  Mom has several of the series and we added to her collection.  Then back for YW/YM in the evening.

Friday, 17 Nov - Meeting house cleaning.   Then visit hospital only to find that the sister there has been transferred to a nursing home.  Grocery shopping for the branch picnic & bike ride tomorrow.  Mrs Judy Howard, a neighbor, came by this afternoon and we visited with her for a while regarding her son who is a member.  Sister Kerry Arthur stopped by for a visit and she hopefully will get a flat in the near future in Grafton. I am working on the blog and Margaret is working on emails to some of the kids.

Saturday, 18 Nov - Grafton Branch Picnic and bike ride time.  A few people suggested that since it was cloudy and a forecast of rain that we cancel the branch picnic, but Mike recommended that we go forward since we constantly get rain forecasts in Grafton and nothing of consequence rarely happens. We did have a very light sprinkle, but the day was good and a success - 26 people attended which is good for Grafton.  5 youth did the bike ride.  Elder Haley & President Norman did the sausage bbq and we had lots of fruit & salad.  The kids played soccer and the adults sat around and gas bagged - fun for all.  Later in the afternoon Margaret & Mike visited with Judy & Martin Howard, our neighbors and parents of Scott, for a bit.  Then off to the Norman's to help decorate the Christmas tree and have dinner.

Sunday, 19 Nov - President Leneham, counselor in the mission presidency, was the visitor today in Sacrament. He talked about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and shared several accounts about the lives of the Three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. They all had ample opportunities to deny what they saw and touched, but none of them ever did - in fact they bore testimony of what they did see/hold was true even when they were remote to the Church.

The Old Glen Innes Road

The country

Loading cows into the truck from the corral and up the chute

Opps, ran out of blacktop

The river

More of the river

The water was a nice temperature, but we did not go in

Down at the river after our picnic lunch

rapids on the down river side of the road

more of the old Glen Innes Road

This is one way to mow the grass along the road

Plenty of cattle along the road side

There are even Jacarandas out here

Guy Fawkes River sign

Dalmorton - you would think it was a town, but  I think there was just one old deserted farm building

The road on the way to the old tunnel

Aah, we finally made it to the tunnel

With water at one end about 6 inches deep

There was no passing in the tunnel

Rhonda Crosbie & Margaret at the tunnel

We were being watched

ok folks time to moooove along and stop bothering me

On the road back to town.

From one of the local shops in the area

Grafton art gallery showing Aboriginal art

More Aboriginal art

The needles are echidna quills

clay pottery.  This is modern stuff as the real aboriginals did not do pottery work, but used wood.  Gorgeous work

Elder Haley in a chair at the art gallery

Tuesday Primary activity

It seems that every cow (or steer) has its own white bird.  Sometimes more than 1 bird per cow

Arielle & Willow with their personal progress books

More cattle and birds

Anglican Christ Cathedral, Grafton

Some interesting names for creeks around here

ssshhhh, I think we are being watched

post boxes are kind of unique here in the country

Beautiful green pastures with cattle

One of the last Jacaranda trees in full bloom

Our destination on this country drive

1 of just a few buildings in Nymboida

Nymboida local church building.  I think it is deserted now

A museum of interesting things. Looks like not many people are interested

Now we can see the "things" in the name

Nymboida local public school

We have heard of Couts Crossing and now we can say that we have been there

I wonder of the creek is flowing over with kangaroos?

Well, not flowing but not totally dry of kangaroos

Part of the Clarence valley where we live

A herd near our home.  The bull is about 6-12 inches taller than the cows.

House in Lawrence built on a single pedestal. And it is circular to boot

Most houses are built on stilts, poles or brick pillars, but this one is much taller than most

soccer after picnic lunch

finishing dessert and cleaning up - Sister Jones, Haley, Rapmund, Stiller

Clean bbq grill.  Sister Beth Norman & Amanda Jones

Storm cloud arising

Sister Haley (blurred) and Spencer (dracula) Norman

The finished product - Christmas Tree

What Christmas is all about - the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ

Growing at the edge of our driveway - beautiful Allamanda flowering vine