Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Monday, 11 Sep - We said good-bye to Zizi this morning as we put her on a bus to Byron Bay at 0800.  Margaret went to help continue the declutter of one of the sister's homes and Mike went back to the house to vacuum & clean.  Finally got the last of the unwanted things in the garage into the rubbish bin.  Now we can make our own clutter.  Dinner tonight is meatloaf and we have Scott coming over for dinner and FHE.  Both Margaret & I took a nap this afternoon to catch up on rest that we missed over the past few days.

Tuesday, 12 Sep - we made a trip to Bunnings (hardware store) to pickup an inside/outside thermometer.  We are told that it will get hot here in Grafton and we wanted to be able to measure the outside (and inside) temperatures when the summer months arrived.  So far this spring the lows outside have been in the 9-11 C range - chilly, but not too cold.  Then over to one of the Sisters places in South Grafton.  She is moving houses - just around the corner thank goodness.  We spent a lot of time packing and removing "clutter".  Then some of the rest of the ward  helped move the packed things over to the new house.  We were able to make it to the Primary youth activity at the branch meeting house in the afternoon. The kids played soccer with the young missionaries.

Wednesday, 13 Sep - Talked with Mom Haley this morning.  She still has an extra house guest for another week or so. Then we went back to South Grafton to help finish packing and moving the sister. We did not read Book of Mormon with the YM today as the flu is still making a rampage through Grafton and the boys are recovering, but not well enough yet.  We miss reading with them as they bring some very good comments and questions.  We held District Training Meeting (DTM) at our house at 730pm.  I accused the elders of doing this so that we would provide dinner before the DTM.๐Ÿ˜Elder Gibb is the new District Leader and he did a great job conducting the meeting and providing the training - his first.  The training lesson was on "The Spyglass" by Richard Paul Evans.  It was about vision and having a vision which would lead us to making the vision become reality - we are what we think we are.

Thursday, 14 Sep - Today was an errand and fix things around the house day. No emergencies today.  We did go back to South Grafton for a bit in the morning to help sweep out the house for the sister there, and we did take a car load of things over to the new house.  YM/YW was held together tonigh and will be from now on.  The YM/YW made a practice TREK by pushing wheelbarrows around the neighborhood which had several bricks in them to add weight. Margaret worked with Sister Stiller on a shoe box charity project and prepared for the upcoming 72 hour kit activity this coming Saturday.

Friday, 15 Sep - BE NOT WEARY OF WELL DOING. A day without having to clean or move one of the members.  It was a welcome relief and change from the last 3 days.  We did go to the bank and ask them to check the night deposit box as one of the Church deposits had not been recorded.  We had a similar problem in Sydney where the night deposit box was either not checked regularly or the deposit was stuck up in the box.  Either way, this causes a problem when Church HQ looks for a deposit in our bank account and it does not show up.  The bank people said they would have a look into the box and let us know.  We got a call from the Elders and the Auntie of one of our members was admitted into the Emergency room with breathing issues, so we headed to hospital.  There we met with the lady and talked with her for a while.  Then asked the nurse if we could have some privacy so that we could administer a blessing.  The Auntie is a member of another faith, but she was pleased to have us give her a blessing.  Then back downtown to try out the Indian restaurant there - it was a good meal and we will go back.  While downtown Margaret took me on a shopping trip to look for items to be put into the shoe boxes.  The shoe boxes are for children ages 2 to 14 in some of the 3rd world countries.  This is a community service project and not directly sponsored by the Church. We found several things, plus some items for the 72 hour kit activity on Saturday.

Saturday, 16 Sep - The Relief Society held a "72 hour kit" emergency preparedness activity this morning.  There was a reasonable turnout, but not the largest.  Several items were distributed to help the sisters get started in making their 72 hour kit.  Mike went over to one of the neighbors during this time and visited with her as she was having a garage sale.  She was wearing an apron that one of the ladies in town made and sold - it had a lively aboriginal print on the front.  I showed it to Margaret when she got back from the RS activity.  We spent awhile talking with Maureen and offered to help take things to the "Op shop" (opportunity or thrift store) in town if they were not sold by her.  She will try 1 more garage sale this coming weekend and then take any leftovers to the Op shops.  In the late afternoon we went back to hospital to visit the Auntie (Bobby) and see how she was doing.  She was not sure when she would be going home, but still had a bad cough and was on oxygen.

Sunday, 17 Sep - Branch Presidency meeting at 730am - at least it is not at 630 am like the Newbury Park Stake High Council meetings ๐Ÿ˜ Then PEC and by 10am we were ready for the Sunday branch meetings.  The speakers delivered really good messages this morning - the messages are always good.  The first speaker was one of our YM (young men) and he talked on being in the world, but not of the world - he did a good job.  He was followed by his mom who talked on being spiritually self reliant. She has been fighting cancer and shared some experiences with us that were really strong testimonies of her faith and trust in the Saviour, Jesus Christ.  The final speaker was a sister who lives 1 1/2 hours from the branch meetinghouse. She and her family face that challenge each week for Primary; YM/YW and Sunday.  She talked on how to keep the Sabbath Day holy.  All the talks were good and down to earth so that we were able to see how to apply the Gospel principles in our lives.  After Church Margaret and I stopped by hospital and visited with Bobby since she was still there (we learned that she would remain in hospital until Wednesday).  Interestingly she has asked that I say a prayer for her after each time we visit.  We also visited another Sister who was in hospital and made arrangements to visit with her at her home on Tuesday and give her a blessing.

Primary Age Activity - soccer

The Elders are trying to keep up with the younger kids, but not sure who is winning

The sun setting on Grafton and the Clarence River

The clouds help make the sunsets here.  This is from the Carr Peninsula

The cattle do not seem to be very impressed with the sunset

Rainbow Lorikeet like the bottle brush tree.  Boy are they noisey.  Mike sees them each day on his morning walk/exercise

Caught one Lorikeet in flight

The wood deck was removed and now we have dirt - hopefully grass some day.  Mike moved extra brick from the fence line to make steps on/off of the veranda so we did not have such a big step up or down.  We walk this way several times a week to put out laundry to dry.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sunday, 10 Sep 2017

Monday, 4 Sep - Margaret is over at one of the Sister's homes helping de-clutter some more of her house.  We took over several glass jars so she can store her food in them instead of plastic containers which  are eaten through by mice.  I found the e-waste depot and dropped off several DVD players that were being stored at our house.  Then I have started laundry and hung up the bed sheets on the clothes line.  Time to go do some ironing until it is time to pick up Margaret.  Then we will run a few more errands in town.  It was a quiet FHE today - Just the two of us.  We usually try to watch a video from

Tuesday, 5 Sep - Today at the Prmary/Youth activity day the boys played Cricket and the girls worked upstairs with Margaret on some things, plus they fixed the snacks that we have each week.  This was my first time to play Cricket.  It is heaps different than US Baseball and was interesting to learn some of the basic rules.  I was able to play out in the field to catch the ball if it were hit there, was the bowler (pitcher) and then did a little batting.  Sister Norman joined us about half way through the game.  No YM tonight as they YM (both of them) were sick with the flu.

Wednesday, 6 Sep - Talked with Mom Haley as usual in the morning - it sure is nice to have such technology things as Skype/Viber/Wechat.  This helps us keep in contact with our parents, children & grandchildren while serving our mission - it is quite a blessing.  We did not have District Training this week since the young Elders were down south for transfer day.  We will be keeping Elder Gibb and getting a new companion for him.  Elder Ta'ala has been transferred since he has been here for quite some time - He is a good misisonary.  One of the sisters was to have outpatient surgery today, so we went over to see how it went. Miraculously she did not have to have the surgery, so we just chatted for a few minutes and then went on our way - after leaving a small lunch for her.  We then went to an auto repair place and paid a bill for one of the members, so they could have their wind screen fixed. While in the area we stopped by another sister's place to meet her family since we will be going over to her place next week for dinner.  Then off for our Wednesday afternoon Book of Mormon study with some of the YM; however,they were still under the weather with Flu so we just said "hi" & dropped off a few cookies.

Thursday, 7 Sep -  Today we drove down to Dirty Creek to spend a few hours with one of the branch members and have lunch with him. We were able to learn more about his family, drop off some temple/family history cards that we performed the work for last month and keep the cards that we had not been able to work on for the next trip to the Brisbane Temple.  Then we drove back towards Grafton and visited with one of the sisters who lives out in the country about half way between Dirty Creek and Grafton. We had a good visit and left a few cookies and a spiritual message with the sister.
Later in the evening we went to YW, but it was cancelled because the YW leader's son was sick and she was not able to make it.  The Flu is really getting around the neighborhood in Grafton.

Friday, 8 Sep -  This morning Mike went grocery shopping for one of the families in the branch.  Then he went back grocery shopping for us.  We are stocking up on food as we have a weekend guest coming in and we will have the missionaries over for Sunday dinner.  Zizi Xu from the Hyde Park YSA ward is traveling around parts of Australia before she leaves for New Zealand and will be spending the weekend with us.  Zizi joined the Church in January, 2017 and is growing quite strong in her testimony of Jesus Christ's Gospel.  We picked Zizi up at the Grafton rail station at 5 pm today.  It is so good to see her and have her stay with us for a few days.  We took her to our home for a quick dinner and then over to the Branch meeting house for Movie Night.  We saw "The Cokeville Miracle" which is based upon a real hostage incident in 1986 in Cokeville, Wyoming.  Then home and sleep.  Tomorrow will be a full day.

Saturday, 9 Sep - The tradesman, Paul, arrived at 8 am to put in the bathroom window screen and then fix the hole that the oven was sitting in.  He had made a frame and came to install the frame around the oven.  The part of the wall that the oven sits in was open all the way to the rafters in the roof, so we asked him to block off the top so we did not have such an up/down draft which was causing the oven to fluctuate in temperature.  He did that and then installed the frame - now it looks finished and we hope the oven will keep a more even temperature.  Then the 3 of us (Me, Margaret & Zizi) piled into the car and headed for Brooms Head which is on the ocean.  On the way, we saw a sign selling sugar cane mulch and since Margaret had never eaten sugar cane we went up to the farm house to see if we could buy some.  I talked with a older man who pointed to the sugar cane field near us and said "There it is, go help yourself".   I told him that the field did not belong to me and I did not want to steal any sugar cane.  He said the field belonged to his son-in-law and that they were planting sugar cane at the moment, and would we like to go see how that was done - YOU BET WE DID.  So we followed Bryan (his name) to field and got to see how sugar cane is planted.  We also got to see how sugar cane is harvested and prepared for planting.  The farmer uses a machine similar to a corn picker to pick the sugar cane and cut the stalk into 1 foot lengths.  The cane has "eyes" on it similar to potatoes.  The stalk is planted into the ground and and new stalks of sugar cane grow from the eyes.  It takes 2 years for the sugar cane to grow to maturity and be ready for harvest.  We were given a full stalk of sugar cane and also one of the cuttings that would be planted.  We met several of the farm hands and spent 45-60 minutes with them.  They were SO NICE AND FRIENDLY to us USA yokels.  We learned a lot and met some nice people.  They asked what we were doing out in the middle of no where and we explained about our serving a mission for the Church in Grafton.
Bryan then took us into Lawrence so we could catch the ferry across the Clarence River and continue on our journey to Brooms Head.  We stopped in Maclean for lunch at the Fishing coop and then on to Brooms Head.  At Brooms Head we took a detour to the Brooms Head Lookout where we were able to see some beautiful ocean/beach scenery.  We also were able to "almost" shake hands with a kangaroo that was moving around one of the camp sites.  Then we meandered on over to the Brooms Head beach and walked on the rocky part of the beach for awhile.  Then we headed home for dinner and sleep.

Sunday, 10 Sep - We got up early.  Mike had a 0730 Branch Presidency meeting and then Margaret/Mike attended the Branch Council meeting. Zizi came with Margaret at 0830 and she met a number of the members and talked up a storm. Sacrament meeting talks were good - one sister talked about being of the world, but not in it, and the other sister talked about honesty and gave a great story about being honest with her tithing.  The Lord will take care of you if you will keep your covenants and promises.  After Church we went home and finished preparing dinner. Most of dinner was already done as Margaret made a pork loin/pumpkin crockpot meal - it was good and was a recipe that she had gotten from our daughter, Brea.  The Elders (Gibb & Corpany) arrived around 4:30 pm and we made quick work on the pork loin.  The Elders left us with a message and then headed on their way.  Zizi spent the evening packing and getting ready to go on to Byron Bay then next morning.  Margaret and I watched two of the Face2Face videos by the Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling.  We gave the web link to Zizi as she did not know about the Face2Face firesides.

Playing Cricket in the backyard of the Grafton meeting house

Mason is the bowler

Sunset with smoke from bushfires

Sunset with the bushfires

Welcome to Grafton, Zizi

Zizi on the search for "wild" cows

Zizi with the local neighbors

Elder Haley & Zizi on the banks of the Clarence River

Zizi & Sister Haley on the Clarence River

Following Bryan back to where the sugar cane is being harvested 

Almost to the sugar cane field.  Surrounded by sugar cane

The harvester and wagon that catches the cane cuttings for replanting

Sugar cane mulch/chaff from the harvester going all over our car

The chaff was not so bad, but the sugar syrup from the cane chaff coated the windscreens and the car, which made it kind of sticky

The other side of the harvester

The cut cane ready to be put into the planter

Bryan & Elder Haley

Bryan & one of the farm hands.  All friendly blokes

Getting on the Lawrence ferry - we were the last ones on for this trip

Would someone please help scratch my tummy

Sister Haley at the Brooms Head look out area

Zizi at the lookout

Panorama of Brooms Head lookout

The sea was beautiful with all the waves coming in

Elder & Sister Haley


Looking south from the lookout towards Brooms Head in the far distance

Just to prove we really were at Brooms Head

Elder Haley walking out to the rocks where the surf is crashing

waves crashing on some of the rocks at Brooms Head

The sugar cane

sugar cane cutting that would be planted. look for the "eye" at each section joint which will produce a new cane stalk

Elder Gibb, Elder Haley, Sister Haley, Zizi, Elder Corpany

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Monday, 28 Aug - Ah, a day to rest & relax & recuperate from the visit by some of our Hyde Park YSA friends.  Well, not much of a rest & relax.  Margaret is off helping one of the branch sisters declutter their house.  Mike is left to do laundry and work on the blog, plus clean up bathroom toilets, etc.  We have been reading the Doctrine & Covenants together in the morning and we just read D&C 130.  There have been a lot of interesting things in the D&C and we have had plenty to discuss with each other as we have read - hopefully some of what we have read will stay in our heads. The sun is shining brightly today (as most days) and the world is warming up from the low 40's F to about mid 60's F, so it will be a bit cooler today than the last few days.  BUT it is still winter so what do you expect?????

Tuesday, 29 Aug - We held District Training Meeting a day early because the Coff's Harbour Elders were in Grafton for trade offs. It is interesting to be part of a District training where the young(er) Missionaries preside & conduct the training. We (not so) young missionaries come along for the ride and LEARN much from these young men & women.  We go over last week's activities that are of special note, discuss what we will do the coming week and then have a 30-60 minute spiritual training lesson where all participate, but it is led by the District Leader (usually about 19 to 20 years old). Then a Primary activity in the afternoon (3:30-5 pm) where we provide a snack every other week. Then the Young Men & Young Women had a practice hike getting ready for TREK by walking from the branch meetinghouse to our house in Junction Hill - about 5 km (3 miles).  We had hot cocoa, ice cream and brownies waiting for them.

Wednesday, 30 Aug - We talked with Mike's mom on Skype as we do each Wednesday AM.  Then off to the Branch meetinghouse to fix a cabinet door and check out some other things at the meetinghouse.  At 4 we dropped off some of the brownies from Tuesday night at Joseph & Decklin Lynch's home since they were not able to make it on the TREK practice.  Decklin has been crook with the flu for over a week.  Then we hustled home to prepare dinner for one of the members who lives near us.  We had chicken kiev compliments of Coles Supermarkets who had a sale on them - there were pretty good.

Thursday, 31 Aug - The rental agency came by late morning to inspect the house - to make sure we had not dismantled it or trashed the insides. (We passed inspection with flying Aussie colours).  Then off to Maclean for a dentist appointment - just teeth cleaning (for A$ 580 for the two of us).  OUCH things are a bit expensive. We stopped by to visit Joan Hibberd after the dentist and had a good time.  Joan had fallen earlier in the week and her face was a bit mashed up, but she was chipper and as mentally alert as the last time we saw her.  Maclean is one of the Scottish towns that has Highland games, so we will be taking Joan to those during Easter time.  The Young Women (YW) met tonight and we all worked on preparing food for the YW/YM dinner to be held on Friday for the ward members.  It is a service project for them.  We made pumpkin soup,  potato/leek soup, and mince pasta/lasagna.  I am ready for Friday night so I can sink my teeth into the meal.  Oh yes, we had to report our car mileage back to Carlingford since it was the end of the month.

Friday, 1 Sep -  SPRING HAS SPRUNG IN AUSTRALIA.  This is the first day.  We spent the morning at home getting things ready for the YW/YM dinner later tonight.  We headed to the meetinghouse just before 5 pm and started to warm up the potato/leek soup and the mince/pasta/lasagna.   The branch members were ready to eat at 6:30 and we were ready to feed them just a few minutes after. The Elders & YW took food orders and the YW served the food to the members.  We had about 30 in attendance. The YW decided to use china, glasses & silverware for the dinner.  That was nice, but the washing & clean up was a bit more challenging.  The YW did a LOT of the dish washing and we were on or way home by 9:30 pm.

Saturday, 2 Sep - We slept in for a few minutes this morning.  Then got up and went for a walk through part of the neighborhood that we had not walked before.  We also tried to see if we could get over to the Roo fields, but the fields were a bit further down the road and there was not walk path.  We went to visit Sister Cave's in the afternoon for a visit and had a good time with her & her husband.  Then a quick stop by Vicky Carters - she was home and we were able to get her new phone number.  Now we are home and Margaret is fixing a chicken pot pie for dinner, and then we will begin our fast since tomorrow is Fast Sunday.

Sunday, 3 Sep - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, AUSTRALIA.  Today was Fast Sunday (the first Sunday of the month) so there were no early morning meetings before Sacrament - a nice way to start off Father's Day.  We had Elders Ta'ala & Gibb over for dinner in the afternoon, after we got home from Church.  Elder Ta'ala is being transferred to the Baulkham Hills district so he will be near Rhonda Crosbie.  We spent most of the rest of the evening reading - I have started a book on Brigham Young that was loaned to us by Rhonda, and it is pretty interesting.  There is a fair amount of information on Joseph Smith as well, as related to Brigham.

The sun coming up in the morning, during one of Mike's exercise walks

The same sun a minute later

One of the games played by the youth during Primary Activity day - Tuesday afternoons.  The young Elders play with the kids

The Clarence river in the foreground and marked by the fog coming off of the water.  This is just at sunrise on a cold winter day in August.

The sun coming up and hidden in the tree on the right.  Notice the fog/mist on the Clarence river is beginning to disappear

Some of Mike's morning walk companions

Sugar cane growing on the island off of Maclean and at the Maclean/Lawrence ferry 

All roads lead to Grafton

Just in case you wondered if the Aussies were into ecosystems.

The ferry coming into our side of the river.

A front row seat on the ferry - headed to the Lawrence side of the river.

The mighty Clarence river

Our portable dishwasher - Make is Haley and model is Mike.  We wash in the green bowl and rinse in the sink.

We love the birds here in Australia.  Above is a Galah

We were lucky enough for a Galah to land on a fence near the car.  Normally they are quite wary of humans and we have not been able to get this close  before.

Some more of our neighbors, about 1 km from our house

The neighbors having a block party & BBQ.  This is one of two or three mobs of Roos in the area near our house.
The same group of neighbors with one hopping along in the left background.

The sun is setting on another day in OZ.  This is the sunset seen we have from the corner of our house lot here in Junction Hill.

Sister & Elder Haley, Elder Ta'ala  He is a great young man

Sister & Elder Haley, Elder Gibb He is pretty good, too.