Sunday, July 17, 2011

Zone Conferences

This picture doesn't even show all the food that was prepared. It took many helping hands to prepare this feast.
The Hutt Valley & Wellington Zone Conference is one of our largest. This was our first Zone Conference on our mission. We were amazed at the member support. They love to feed the missionaries and support them in any way they can. I've never seen so much food so beautifully prepared. Not even hungary missionaries could eat it all. No one has to worry about the missionaries in this Zone starving. The missionaries sang for their food and I think tears were shed.
President Kezerian was taking way too long with the interviews. The Elders were totally exhausted. However Elder Bourne never slept. His original call was to Papua New Guinea but his visa hasn't come through yet. We wish we could keep him. We will have four more Elders that have been assigned to Papua New Guinea coming in next month.

This is the Southland Zone. Our Zone Conference here was truly a spiritually uplifting experience. I wish every parent and family member could hear the testimony of their missionary serving in the field. There is nothing so powerful. This Zone includes Morningside, Oamaru, St. Clair, Invercargill, Gore, Queenstown and Dunedin.
This is a view from the Dunedin Airport. The snow was almost down to the valley floor. Our flight down to Dunedin was the most turbulent flight I've every been on. It's surprising that anyone is allowed to fly in those conditions. We were bounced up off our seats numerous times. No sleeping on that flight. It's much clearer and calmer today so I'm sure we'll have smooth sailing.
This is what President Kezerian does at airports. There really is never a dull moment.

The Hawke's Bay Zone Conference was held in this lovely chapel (the warmest chapel we've been to). We had a great conference here again being uplifted by the testimonies of the Elders and Sisters. Hawke's Bay Zone covers the areas and wards of Napier, Omahu, Waipukurau, Hastings, Kirabas, Flaxmere and Herataunga. We have such wonderful missionaries.

We had a little time before an interview so we drove along the coast in Napier. On one side the beach was covered with smooth black rocks. There is a very strong under tow in this area. On the other side there is a beach with soft sand and smooth waters.

It is winter here but you wouldn't know it by looking at all the beautiful bushes and flowers that are in bloom. Everything is still extremely green but some trees have lost their leaves. I can assure everyone that it does get very cold.

Proof that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand.
This is actually a Rugby School. The grass in the foreground is the field. Rugby is taken very seriously here and with the World Cup coming this fall Rugby will be the main topic of conversation. The missionaries are going to have a lot to compete with.

These are examples of the beautiful scenery we passed as we drove home from our Zone Conference in Hawke's Bay. You can see the snow covered mountains in the background contrasting to the lush green rolling hills in the valley.

Auckland New Zealand

We arrived in New Zealand at about 5:30 a.m. after a 14 hour flight from the United States. We lost a day in the process. We were given a few hours at the hotel to clean up and rest before being oriented and receiving training from the Area Presidency.

We had the opportunity to visit the MTC in Auckland along with the other Mission Presidents and their wives who were traveling with us. We meet Elder and Sister Burton, the Area Medical Doctor and his wife and Bro. and Sis. Blake, the MTC President and his wife. Our Area President, President Hamula and his wife also accompanied us. We were a little disappointed that we didn't get to meet any of our missionaries there but we did get to talk with missionaries going to Tonga and feel the powerful spirit and love for the Savior that they possess.

Neighborhood Party & Farewell

Paul and Becky Lekias will be our neighbors in the mission field. They will be serving in the Auckland, New Zealand Mission. Their son is one of our assistants. We will be in good hands.
Evan and Cindy Schmutz are off to the Phillippines. We've so enjoyed our friendship and association with one another in the Stake this past 7 1/2 years.

We had to take a few of the traditional photos at the MTC. New Zealand will always be our home away from home now.

Nicki and Courtney delivered us to the MTC in Provo after many goodbyes, kisses and hugs. We certainly will miss family and friends but rejoice in the opportunity to serve and have the blessing of knowing that the Lord will be watching over and blessing our family.

We have the most wonderful friends and neighbors with whom we shared a memorable evening of food and fun before we entered the MTC. Dick, Mike, Vernon and Terry all learned the Haka from two professionals. Vernon Marks, having served in New Zealand on his first mission, was an expert.
This should come in handy during Zone Conference and Training Sessions.
We were given many useful tidbits of advise from the Hemmert's and even tools for the mission.