Monday, 24 Apr - We met with some of the senior missionaries that are assigned outside of Sydney and took them to Costello's so they could look at opals. Jamie Costello was nice enough to host them, explain about opals and help them select opals that they liked. After Costello's we went to Phillip's Foote for lunch - a tough thing, but someone has to do it.
Then we came back to work with some of the English Students and FHE later that evening.
Tuesday, 25 Apr - It is ANZAC day today - LEST WE FORGET. It is a day to remember those in the armed forces that have given their lives and/or served their country. It is a big deal here in Australia and there is a 2-3 hour parade in Sydney and all the small towns have their own patriotic celebrations. It is quite moving. The Lems took us out to the Royal National Park for ANZAC day. We hiked for about 6 miles along the coast. It was beautiful scenery and lovely company. It was nice to get out and stretch our legs.
Wednesday, 26 Apr - We took the train & bus out to Carlingford and picked up the car from the mission office that we will use to drive up to Narrabri. We then used the car to visit some of the lost sheep that live out in the Carlingford area. We were able to visit with one from Korea and he was a nice young man and seemed to be happy that we thought enough of him to stop by. Then back to Hyde Park for some more 1on1 English teaching.
Thursday, 27 Apr - We spent the day in the office working with 1on1 students and getting some things ready for the trip to Narrabri tomorrow. We got news in the morning that Cristina has been accepted to apply for her skilled visa with the Australian government. She has 60 days to get all of her paper work together and submitted - it will be a busy 2 months for her. She also will be teaching the maths class at the University of Notre Dame one day a week. When we get back from Narrabri we will fix a date to go celebrate her IELTS score at Phillip's Foote.
Friday, 28 Apr - It is now 10 am and we are on the road to Narrabri today. We are going to go through Hunter Valley on the way up and through the Blue Mountains on the way back. Hunter Valley is the vineyard area of NSW and being autumn the leaves were mostly off of the grapevines. We then went through horse country and finally got to Cessnock. We ate lunch in one of the local cafes in Cessnock. Then on to Gunnedah. Gunnedah is the Koala capital (of the world, I guess). We did not see any koalas hanging around in the trees by the road, but did see plenty of signs telling us to slow down so we would not run over a koala. Around 6 pm we arrived in Narrabri, population of 7,000) and found the Center of Town (COT) B& B where we have a room. There was one person ahead of us and they had called Judy, so we knew she was on her way to register us. Judy arrived, fluffy pink house coat and all. She asked us if we were friends of Kate, but we did not know Kate. She put us in a room and then we talked some more and found out that Kate is the wife of President Polsoni, Narrabri branch, so I guess we knew Kate. Then Judy moved us to a better room which had a sink in the room and an air conditioner/heater. The bathrooms were down the hall. After getting our luggage into the room, we went out for a stroll and to find a place that was open so we could get a bite to eat. We ended up at a Subway. The young man there knew the young missionaries and was a friendly bloke. After our subway we walked back to the COT and unpacked.
Saturday, 29 Apr - We had breakfast at the COT - cereal, toast & fruit. Then we headed northeast to the Kaputar National Forest area. We first went to the Sawn Rocks which are slow form lava rocks, so they end up in a pentagon/crystal form - just like the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. These rocks form a wall and cliff on one side of a creek, rather than stepping stones like in Ireland. We met some Aussies playing tourist and talked with them for a bit. As I was climbing up the side of the creek to get closer to the Sawn Rocks I could hear the Aussies say that it must be nice to be young and able to climb around the rocks (made me feel good). We climbed around the rocks for awhile and then decided to go see the Waa Gorge in another part of the Kaputar Forest. We travelled for about an hour, mainly on gravel and dirt roads until we finally arrived at the parking lot for the gorge. We had to go over several cattle grids and through 5 or 6 farm gates to get to the parking lot. We were the only ones there and I can understand why. We walked to the Two Eyes ponds which are 2 pools "carved" out of the rock - one above the other, so the water flows from the upper pool into the lower pool. This is all part of a creek. The Waa (pronounced "war") Gorge is about 45-60 minute walk up the creek from the pools. Because of Margaret's foot still not being 100%, we did not walk to the gorge. We climbed around the pools and creek and then headed back to the car. We then drove through the gates and dirt road. On the way we passed an olive orchard and saw 2 kangaroos back in the orchard. We also saw a pair of emu a bit later in the same orchard. Then we finished driving back to Narrabri. When we got back to town we found the Polsonis at COT eating their dinner. We introduced ourselves and ran out to get a take away and come back to eat & talk.
Sunday, 30 Apr - We followed the Polsonis to where the Narrabri branch meets, which is the local funeral home. They hold 2 hours of meetings instead of 3 hours. That is because the branch is small and people need to get home. Most of the members drive 1 to 2 hours to get to Church and then the same amount to go back home. One sister drives 2 1/2 hours one way for Church meetings. Margaret & I were the speakers in Sacrament meeting. After the 2 hours of meetings, the members broke out all kinds of food for lunch. Apparently they do this on the Sunday that a missionary couple comes to speak. It is a good socializing tool as most members live hours away from each other. We stayed at the funeral home until about 4 or 4:30 pm. Then we headed for Collarenebri where the Polsonis live. Collarenebri is about 2 hours from Narrabri and has a population of about 700. We stayed the night with the Polsonis. On the way from Narrabri to Collarenebri we travelled on dirt roads about 1/3 of hte way. Since we did not make it to Collarenebri before sundown we had the pleasure of many kangaroos running along side, in front of and behind our cars. One roo missed the Polsonis car by about 3-5 feet and jumped in front of a road train (semi with 2 trailers) but just missed getting hit by the road train - the roos lucky day. Exciting and & fun, but glad we did not collide with any of the roos.
Monday, 1 May - We drove up to Lightning Ridge, home of the black opal, in the morning. It is about 90 km north & west of Collarenebri. We did not see any roos on the way up, but we did see 2 or 3 flocks of Emu - that was fun. We took a tour of the red door community which is one of the old mining areas and they use red doors and street or mine signs. The Ridge (as it is called locally) is very dry. One sign we saw said - "When it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, we got 1 1/2 inches" We had lunch at the bowling club and met the Ridge Church members there. I also had some time to sit with Stan and look at the boulder opals that he had cut. He self taught himself how to cut bolder opals. We looked at a lot of pretty opals on one of the tables and I learned a bit about how to cut opals. There must have been at least $100,000 of opals laying on the table at one time. After lunch we took off to do some more sightseeing. We stopped at the John Murray art gallery. John Murray is a local that is well known in Australia for his Australian animal paintings that are commical, but portray life in the Bush or Outback. Then we went to one of the mines to see what they look like. Most of the mines are dug out of the ground and are really caves. Since the Ridge is quite hot, the mines are nice to be in since they are cool and are 50 to 100 feet below the surface. After the mine we went to the local hot pool. The water smells like sulfur since the water comes from a bore hole that is about 1 km deep and brings up the hot spring water - at about 40-45 C. One cannot soak too long in the water at that temperature, so you get out for awhile and then slip back in. Around 5 pm we realized that we were way late in heading home, so we wrapped towels around ourselves and headed for Collarenebri (nicked named "Colly". Since the sun was going down by 5:30, we saw LOTS of roos on the way home.
Tuseday, 2 May - Time to go home and get back to work. We left Colly at 9 am after helping unload supplies and donations at "Kate's Place" which is the community centre the Polsonis run. Most of the clientele are Aborignal and it is a safe place for them to just sit and visit; as well as, have a place to buy clothes and some food staples at a reasonable price. Then we headed south along A39 highway. We stopped at Naminda Caves which is a bunch of sandstone caves that are used by one of the Aboriginal tribes. It is now basically a park or reserve, but the colors and shapes of the sandstone are really quite remarkable. After an hour of looking we got back into the car and drove on to the Blue Mountains where we took a back road through the mountains to Rouse Hill where we spent the night at Rhonda Crosbie's home. We did not see much of the mountains because it was already sundown, but we also did not see any roos which was nice (and safe).
Wed, 3 May - We went lost sheep looking in the morning and then had lunch with Rhonda. Then we turned in the car to the mission home and took the train back home.
Thursday & Friday - back into the YSA & English teaching routine. We have several of our students/YSA taking the IELTS test this week and last week. Hoping the best for all of them. We will start finding out their test results on Friday, 12 May & 19 May.
Saturday, 6 May - It was a ward building cleaning day. Margaret & I cleaned level 1 of the building since we traded with the Lems. Then we also cleaned the foyer & chapel on level 2. I was mentally exhausted by this time as I feel I am so far behind with all of the work that needs to be done so I am caught up. We went to the Rocks for lunch and to have a break. Margaret is still looking around the Rocks as far as I know. It is now time to add the pictures and go home to clean up before the ward activity tonight at 6:30pm
Confucius - OUR GREATEST GLORY IS NOT IN NEVER FALLING, BUT IN RISING EVERY TIME WE FALL
Freedom is described as the power or agency to act for oneself. Cecil B. De Mille (Director of The Ten Commandments movie) – “We are too inclined to think of law as something merely restrictive . . . something hemming us in. We sometimes think of law as the opposite of liberty. But that is a false conception. . . God does not contradict himself. He did not create man and then, as an afterthought, impose upon him a set of arbitrary, irritating, restrictive rules. He made man free -- and then gave him the commandments to keep him free. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them. – or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God”
We have a loving Heavenly Father and Big Brother, even Jesus Christ, who love us and only want the best for us. They have provided the sacrament for us to participate in each week –to remember Jesus Christ’s Atonement, to cleanse us and to give us the strength we need to become more like them, to not give up on ourselves and to keep trying to do what is right no matter how long it takes or how many times we have to start over.
an inlet in the Royal National Forest
"corn cob" flower
Ravine, Royal National Forest
Elder & Sister Haley, Royal Forest
Ravine, Royal Forest
Part of the coast, Royal Forest
Elder Ben & Sister Marsha Lems, Royal Forest
Rocks below the cliff, Royal Forest
The Lems at a creek leading to Ocean, Royal Forest
Small Chinese Screen, present from Sam & Serena Sun
Other side of the screen
Sister Money & the Haleys
On the road to Narrabri. Going through Hunter Valley
Toilet for babies. How do they get in there and how do they get out?
Typical Aussie home, Cessnock
Scone, NSW (pronounced "scawn" like lawn
Don't mess with the Koalas
Aussie country side, Hunter Valley
Gunnedah - koala capital
Dress code for the Center Of Town B&B
leaded glass windows in the COT parlor
Bank buildings, Narrabri
Maitland street, Narrabri (main street)
Aussie country farm mailbox.
Sawn Rocks, Kaputar National Forest
Sawn Rocks sign
More sawn rocks
Sister Haley with Sawn Rocks
Sign before the flood area that covers the road. On the way to Waa Gorge
One of the cattle fences we had to go through to get to Waa Gorge
Going through one of the flood ways
the locals looking at the crazy tourists
Sister Haley doing her thing at the gate.
The danger of driving on the road were the cow paddies
On the trail to 2 eyes pool Waa Gorge
Two Eyes pool sign
The top pool
Water flowing from top to bottom pool
Crossing the creek to get back to the car park
The other "visitor" at Waa Gorge
Two roos in the olive orchard
Elder Haley coming back through the fence after an unsuccessful try to photo the emu we saw in the olive orchard
The Center of Town B&B
On the road to Lightning Ridge
A flock of Emu on the way to the Ridge
Bottle & can house, the Ridge
The Ridge Castle - someone's home
a Ridge house
The other side of the house
Red car door sign to the next mine site
One of the first houses in the Ridge
The Ridge landscape. There were heaps of these mounds all over from the diggings into the ground
John Murray gallery
John Murray wall
John Murray wall
The Ridge street banner
more John Murray
site of the first mine at the Ridge
The Ridge landscape
Hope springeth eternal, but no opals laying around
Another bottle/can house
inside the house
more inside the house
The Ridge sign at the outskirts of town
steps into a "tourist" opal mine. first floor is 50ft down and then the opals are another 50-75 feet down
Kangaroo at the edge of the road on the way from the Ridge to Collarenebri
Kate's Place. The community centre that the Polsoni's have started in Collarenebri
President Gabe & Sister Kate Polsoni
on the road home from Collarenebri
Danger ahead, be careful. A roo will take out the radiator of a car if you hit them
on the trail to Yaminba caves
One of Yaminba caves. These caves were used by Aboriginals and are considered special to them. Caves are made of limestone.
More caves. Note the various colours
More of the caves
A bench to sit on and look at the forest landscape
Note the colours in the limestone
The valley landscape from the Yaminba lookout
Aussie country side heading south towards the Blue Mountains