Thursday, February 11, 2016


February 2016

December was a busy month.  New missionaries came in, I flew to LAX and drove to San Diego for my grand-daughter, Kiera’s wedding, celebrated the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ and welcomed 3 new senior sisters who are taking over many of the duties in the Mission Office..  They will be joined by a mission couple from New Mexico in March.

I will begin with my trip home. It was very short.  I flew out of Brisbane on the 20th of December.  The first leg was to Sydney where I changed planes and flew to LAX arriving at 6:00 AM on the 20th.  I picked up a rental car and drove out of the lot onto the left side of the road when I realize it was the wrong side in the US.  Good thing it was early Sunday morning and there was not traffic.   I rented a GPS as I am not that familiar with Southern California.  It was good as I would never have found the house the kids had rented for us on the Beach just north of San Diego.  It was a lovely drive but I could not check into the house until 3PM.  I had arranged to pick Kiera and Sebastian at 3:30 PM in San Diego.  I found a nice pleasant park near the house, laid the seat back and took a nice nap.  When I arrived at the airport I found out their flight had been delayed an hour so I returned to the car and read my book.  Upon returning to the baggage claim the display indicated the flight had come in at the scheduled time and there were no passengers at the baggage carousel.  I had not phone so I found a pay phone which cost a lot to call Kiera but she did not answer.  As I was walking down the corridor I hear this voice call Grandma.  I turned around and there was Kiera and Sebastian.  The flight had indeed been delayed and they had just arrived in baggage claim.

Beach House

View from Beach House

We gathered up their luggage and drove to the house.  I had figured out how to get there earlier and it was a good thing because it would have been really, really hard to find in the dark.  We had stopped at In-N-Out for dinner so we just waited for everyone from Alaska to arrive.  Kiera and Sebastian’s families were on the same flight so they all arrived at the same time just in time to go to bed.

Flower Arranging

 Monday was preparation day for the wedding on Tuesday.  A trip to Costco for the Bar B Que after the wedding.  Sebastian’s biological father came from Central America with many, many roses for the bouquets.  He grows roses commercial and sells them to stores in North America.  All the Safeway stores in Alaska purchase their roses from him.  They were beautiful ivory roses.  Sebastian’s aunt is a florist and put together all the bridesmaids bouquets, corsages, etc.  They were all lovely.

Denise & Kiera Checking Out Dress

Monday was a beautiful sunny day and we were hoping for the same for Tuesday.  Not so!  The sealing in the temple was wonderful.  When we came out for pictures it looked like their was a lull in the rain but just as we were all positioned it began to rain.  Looked like the Northwest with the rain blowing side ways.  We were finally forced to go for cover of the Temple entry for the majority of the pictures.  The kids had arranged for sunset pictures at the beach but the weather was so bad they had to postpone those until the next day.

Families & Bridemaids

Kiera, Sebastian & Parents

Everyone gathered at the house on the beach for our BBQ.  Everything turned out real well once we had everyone changed into dry clothes and the food set out.  Everyone had a great time and celebrated with Kiera and Sebastian.

Because the weather was so bad on the Wedding Day the photographer took pictures at the beach the next day.
The Happy Couple

Wednesday morning we all packed up and prepared to leave for various destinations.  Sebastian’s parent and siblings were going to spend a night with family and then board a three day cruise for Christmas.  Denise and Zane were leaving at 9:00 PM for Salt Lake City and a 4 hour drive to Rexburg, Idaho to spend Christmas with Ky and Gabi.  I was headed back to LAX for a 11:05 PM flight back to Brisbane.  Denise, Zane and I went to the temple for a session.  It was so good to be in the Temple with my daughter and her husband.  After the temple session we had lunch in the Temple cafeteria.  I decided to leave and head back to LAX as I wanted to make a couple of stops to pick up items missionaries had requested I bring back to Brisbane.  Good thing I did because the traffic slowed down to a crawl for about 30 miles.  Instead of a 2 ½ hour drive it turned into a 4 hour drive.  I had allowed myself several hours leeway so I was not stressed.  The flight back was good.  The best I have had.  I was able to sleep and felt rested when I arrived Christmas morning.  I felt so good I was able to attend the Senior Missionary brunch.

The 26th I began my move to another flat so that the three bedroom would be ready for the three sisters who arrived on the Wednesday the 30th of December.

They settled into the flat and were ready to begin training on Thursday morning.  Elder and Sister Michelsen left on the 21st of January so it was a very hectic three weeks trying to get as much information transferred to the new Mission secretary, Sister Dever.  I have been training Sister Denton who is from Sydney to take over the flats.  She is very bright and will do very well.  I am also trying to help Sister VandeMerwe with the duties she has been assigned.

 New Years Eve all the Senior Missionaries gathered for a fun evening of food and games.  We had a wonderful time and it was a great time to welcome the new sisters.

Sister VandeMerwe, Sister Denton, Sister Richins, Elder Richins, Elder Slemboski, Sister Slemboski and Sister Mizukawa

Elder Madsen, Elder & Sister Johnson, Sister & Elder Michelsen, Sister Dever, Elder Mizukawa, Sister Madsen

Mary CairnCross Reserve

I have been taking the sisters to some of my favorite places.   Our first excursion was to Mary Cairncross Reserve.  They loved the wonderful trees and we saw several Pademelons.  The sisters are delighted with Australia and loving the beautiful countryside.  We also made it to Mooloolaba beach.  We had dinner at one of the many restaurants near the beach.  We also had a nice walk on the beach.

The next Saturday we took the City Cat to downtown and Queen Street which is the walking mall in the city.  We visited several shops, walked to St. George Square where City Hall is located.  Took the return trip on City Cat to Brett’s Wharf to pick up the car and return to our flats.

There is a park near our flat that was originally a Women’s Prison in the 1800's and an airfield during World War I and II.  I had never walked over to it so on the 10th of January we took a walk through it.  Zane had told me about it when the family was here as he had come across it on one of his morning runs.  It was amazing and gave a lot of history about the spot.  Enjoy the picture tour.

So much history on these few acres over the years.
A woman's prison, a 1920 runway, World War II runway, and an airplane testing area.  Captured plane were brought here and torn apart to help develop better planes for the Allied Forces.  Brisbane was the headquarters for MacArthur as commander of the Pacific forces.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

On the 16th of January we visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary so the sisters could see the Australian wildlife up close.  They had a perfect day and Sister VandeMerwe had her picture taken with a Koala.  They also enjoyed the Lorikeet feeding.  I love the Lorikeets.  They are very social and noisy but beautiful in color.

Baby Koala

This koala is about a year old and just taken from his mother.  He was busy running up and down the three limbs while the keeper was replacing the eucalyptus that is their main food supply.  I have never seen a koala as active as this one was. Super Cute......

Sleeping wombat.  They are also marsupials. 


 Siste Denton with Lorikeets at feeding time!

Sister VandeMerwe has a beautiful smile..  

Sister Dever with a kangaroo.

On the 22nd of January I drove to the Gold Coast to spend the weekend with Elder & Sister Prigoone.  Elder Prigoone is the Mission handyman.  He fixes all the holes, broken doors, screens, etc in the flats.  He also moves a lot of furniture when we obtain a new flat.  He is such a great help to the Mission.  I don’t know what we would do without him.  I met his wife, Alice, early in my mission when Sister Parsons and I met Elder Prigoone at Ikea to pick up items he had taken out of the flats.  They had asked us a number of times to come spend the weekend.  We just never made it so this was my last chance.  They have a lovely home on one of the lagoons in Gold Coast.  We saw a pelican on the water and a sting ray in the water.  We took a couple of walks on the beach and up Burleigh Head through the forest.  It was too steep for me and I had to stop about halfway up and wait for Alice and their exchange student from Germany come back for me.  It was just too hot for me.  They host foreign students from China and other countries who come to attend college or high school.  They are an amazing couple.  They lived in Utah for a time when she was studying for her teaching degree.  They also served a mission in Canada.

Elder & Sister Prigoone & German Exchange Student

Lagoon at the Prigoone's

Sunday we went to church and Brother and Sister Stoten were there.  They were called to help the mission find new flats for missionaries when I first came out.  She came over and gave me a big hug and we reminisced about my first few months here.  They were really a help until I got my feet on the ground.  I will truly miss the people I have come to know here in Australia.  They are taking an Alaska Cruise in August so maybe I can meet them in Juneau when they arrive.  That would really be fun. 

This last Saturday I spent a couple of hours in the mall with Sister VandeMerwe purchasing a phone and phone plan.  She came with an iPhone and we had been to the Apple Store three times to get it to work here in Australia.  We struggled and struggled with it and did not get much help from the supposed experts.  In frustration I finally told one of the employees I would never buy an iPhone.  Not looking forward to deciding what phone and plan I get when I get home. 

I received my travel itinerary.  I leave Brisbane at 11:00 AM on the 20th of February and arrive at LAX at 6:30 AM on the 20th of February.  I have a 6 hour layover before I fly to Seattle arriving at 4:05 PM.

 Last trip last Saturday to Burleigh Head.  Took the walk along the water through the woods for 1.2 kilometers.  It was a showery day but we missed all the showers on our walkabout.

Sister Denton, Dever & VandeMerwe on the walking path

Beautiful waters of the Coral Sea

Elder Halleck, Second Councilor in the Pacific Area Presidency, came to the Australia Brisbane Mission on a mission tour.  He net with all the missionaries in the mission in three different meetings this week. He gave the missionaries inspiring counsel and encouragement to help them be the very best missionaries they can be.  Elder Halleck is from American Samoa.  He joined the church in his teens.  Went to school at BYU Provo where he met his wife.  They returned to Samoa and raised their family there and in Hawaii.  He was called as the Mission President for Samoa and American Samoa a number of years ago and is now in New Zealand in the Pacific Area Presidency.  All the Senior Missionaries in the Mission had dinner with he and his wife at the Mission Home on Tuesday evening.  It was great to get to hear about their lives. 

This will be my last post from Australia.  I have enjoyed this mission not just for the wonderful country I have seen, the beautiful beaches, and amazing wildlife but because of the work I have been able to do.  I was able to build my own job and what an amazing experience it has been to help the missionaries appreciate what the Lord has provided for them while they serve him.  We did not understand why Sister Parson’s visa was good for only 18 months and mine for 23 months when they were both applied for at the same time.  I believe, I understand now.  The Lord knew the sisters would not be coming until the end of December, the Michelsen’s would have to leave early, the new office couple would not arrive until the end of March and I would be needed to bridge a part of the gap.  I have met some wonderful people here that I will miss.  How grateful I am for the technology of today that allows us to keep in touch.  Leaving will be bittersweet but it is time to return home and begin a new chapter in my life.

I will be living in Kent, Washington in my son and daughter-in-laws condo for a time until I determine just where I will settle.  It will be great as there are a lot of condos in the area with lots of walking and biking trails.  I am looking forward to  getting out when the weather permits.  Working in the office from 8 to 5 did not leave a lot of time for exercise. 

If you ever have a chance to come to Australia do not hesitate to jump on a plane and visit this amazing continent.  I have not seen much of it because of it’s size but I think I have seen the best part of Australia the Australia Brisbane Mission (Queensland).  It is the Lord’s work and I am grateful for the small part I have had in helping with it.

Farewell from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Friday, December 11, 2015

December 2015

It is almost Christmas.  Here is wishing you a Very Merry Australia Christmas!

Aussie Christmas Wish

On Halloween Sister Parsons, Sister Mickelson and I went to the New Farm Market.  They had wonderful produce, food and crafts.  The Halloween witch was also there.

Had to take a picture of the road sign because I could not understand what it is trying to say.

The 4-7th of November we had a Senior Conference.  All the senior missionaries from the northern part of the mission came to Brisbane on Wednesday.  We had a nice chicken dinner at the Kangaroo Chapel next to the Temple.  A number of the seniors were involved in a training at the chapel that evening so the rest of us went to the Temple.  Thursday morning we had training until 12:30 and then we could choose from a list of City Activities for the afternoon.  Before we disbursed we had a picture of the group in the garden at the Temple.   

Senior Conference 10/ 2015

In the evening we all re-grouped for dinner at a Thai restaurant.  The meal was marvelous.  Friday we went to Mt. Coot tha Botanical Garden to view the Japanese garden and for a group picture.  We spent several hours in the gardens viewing the beauty God has created for us.

Japanese Garden Senior Conference 10/15
In the evening we all took the Kookaburra River Cruise on the Brisbane River.  What spectacular views of the city and all the lights.  The dinner was very good but the company was better.  Enjoy Brisbane by night and a couple of our senior missionaries.

Brisbane Skyline w/Story Bridge Lights

Brisbane Skyline

Elder & Sister Prigoone, Sister Parsons, Brother Gordon

Brisbane Skyline

Elder & Sister Prigoone 

Elder & Sister Prigoone served a mission in Canada a few years ago.  He is currently a Service Missionary and assesses and makes repairs to our missionary flats.  He is a tremendous help to the mission.

Saturday morning we had a continental breakfast at the Mission Home.  President Henderson recognized all the missionaries who will be leaving within the next 3 months.  I will be one of the missionaries leaving prior to March.  We all bore our testimonies about the Gospel and our Heavenly Father.   After the breakfast everyone dispersed for their homes or the airport for flights back to the North.

Elder & Sister Mickelson, Sister Parsons and I had discussed preparing an American Thanksgiving dinner for the office.  We asked Sister Henderson if it would be okay and she asked if we could possibly help her provide the same dinner for the Missionary Leadership missionaries who were meeting on Thanksgiving day at the Kangaroo Chapel.  So our dinner increased from under 10 to 50 missionaries.  It was a delight to do this for the young missionaries and even better to see the faces of missionaries from countries who have never heard about Thanksgiving.  They are amazed and enjoyed the dinner.  For the most part we enjoyed putting it together for them although we had to work through a couple of glitches.  Such as the electric roaster would not heat so we had to put the turkey roasts in the oven and cook the dressing after the turkey was done.   Sister Parsons was at the church roasting turkey while I was at the flat also cooking turkey, dressing and gravy.  Sister Mickelson cooked carrots and green beans.  Sister Henderson cooked the potatoes.  Desert came from Costco in the form of pumpkin and apple pie.

Turkey Dinner

Elder Pitts, Elder Halo and Elder Tanner

Elder Matheus &

Elder Stringham
Elder Stringham is sitting in the left of the picture.  My mother's maiden name is Stringham.  I asked him about his ancestors when he came into the mission.  As it turns out we have Bryant Stringham as our common ancestor.  He married three sisters and Elder Stringham is from one of his wives and my family comes from another wife.
The last weekend of November Sister Parsons and I moved flats.  We have three Senior sisters coming into the Mission to replace us.  Sister Denton is coming from Sydney and will be serving for 1 year.  Sister Dever and Van Der Mewre are coming from the US.  They should be arriving the end of December after Christmas.  We moved to a three bedroom flat on the street level.  It has a large outside area with a small yard.  It is a lovely flat and will work well for three sisters.

Elder & Sister Michelson will be leaving the end of January and Sister Parsons leaves the 24th of December.  I will be staying to help the sisters get their feet on the ground.  I am hoping to leave by the end of February the latest middle of March.  The new office couple will be arriving mid March if the visa application is processed timely.

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Kiera & Sabastian Engagement Pic

I will be flying to LAX the 20th of December to attend my grand-daughter, Kiera's, wedding at the San Diego Temple.  She is marrying her best friend Sebastian who she had a crush on when she was 15.  They both served missions in Brazil, grew up together in Juneau, love the outdoors and are both very bright and students at BYU Provo.  It will be a quick trip as I will be returning to Australia on the 23rd of December arriving Christmas morning.

 December 5 Sister Parsons and I went to the Steve Irwin Australia Zoo as we could not leave without seeing the Zoo and especially the Salt Water Crocodile show.  As you can see he is a huge croc.  The rhinos were really big as well.  It was a lovely zoo but did not have a large number of animals because they keep them in their natural habitat.  I think, we liked the bird aviary the best.  We saw several types of doves.  The Emerald dove is beautiful and of course the lorikeets are the most beautiful.  Just prior to the croc show they introduced a number of birds.  The one we had never heard of was a black cockatoo.  There were two; one orange tail feathers and one with yellow tail feathers.  They were so different from the normal cockatoo just the opposite in color.

One Large Turtle

Salt Water Crocodille


Emerald Dove in Center


Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.  May we all remember the true meaning of Christmas and the love our Heavenly Father has for each of us as his sons and daughters.