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. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Spring in Queensland, Australia My Last Spring Here

November 10, 2015

Australian Spring has arrived with the blooming of the Jacaranda trees.  The poinsettia’s have been blooming for several months.  The Plumeria trees are beginning to bloom.  I love the Plumeria flower is one of my favorite flowers.  The blossom is so beautiful and the smell is wonderful except here in Australia.  They do not seem to have any fragrance which was a real surprise.




We have not taken many day trips in the last couple of months as I have been busy delivering chairs and tables to the missionaries for their study areas and kitchen tables.  The wooden chairs just do not hold up with the elders.  They lean back in the wooden chairs and they break or the joints work loose making the chair unsafe.  Because the missionaries are transferred fairly often they have a tendency to live with whatever they have instead of calling the Mission Office to report a need.  They are wonderful young men and women but I have to remember they are between 18 and 25 years old.  Part of their mission is to learn life skills as well as teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have missionaries from 22 countries assigned to this mission.  Many from third world countries such as Micronesia, Tonga, Samoa, China, Taiwan , etc. where they may not even have a bed or a floor in their homes.  They have no concept of what or how to clean a flat.  It is a constant struggle to teach them these skills. 

Abbott Street Candelabra Trees 

Sister Parsons and I did visit Abbot Street here in Brisbane to see the candelabra trees which were planted on both sides of the street many years ago.  The residents of the area park between the trees.  They are amazing trees.

Stag Horn

I did go to the Toowoomba Flower Festival with three senior couples.  Sister Parson was not feeling well so she stayed at the office with Elder & Sister Mickelsen as he was unable to go because of a back injury which he has been dealing with for a couple of months. 

Toowoomba Public Garden

Oregon Grape Imposter

Ice Plants
Wisteria Tunnel

National Cash Register Posting Machine
We did take a day trip with Elder & Sister Mickelsen on October 3rd to visit the Caboolture Heritage Village which is a short drive north.  It has over 70 buildings all with historic backgrounds, decorated and preserved and fully fitted in the way they were originally intended.  They had a National Cash Register Posting Machine on display.  The first job I had was for Columbia Tractor Company in Northwest Portland operating a machine just like the one on display.  There was a computing scale on display with a history of this type of scale.  It was invented in 1885 in Ohio, sold in 1891, in 1895 the first computing scale was introduced, in 1911 the International Time Recording Co, the Computing Scale Company and The Tabulating Machine Company merged to form the Computing, Tabulating, Recording Company then in 1924 it became the international corporation we know as IBM.  How fascinating is that?

Computing Scale

Prisoner Art

There was a display of  art created by prisoners.  The art depicted Australia animals and indigenous people. 

Gas Station

A gas station with old cars inside.  I can remember seeing stations and pumps like this as a kid.

Giant Tree Stump

A giant tree stump which depicted the timber industry of Australia.  The stump weighs approximately 10 tons and was felled in 1952 with an ax and cross-cut saw.  The tree was 5 meters tall and ten meters at the base.  How amazing are our ancestors.  They did not have the tools we have but they created beautiful buildings, built amazing bridges, roads, etc. with hard work and hand tools. 


We were able to walk through a typical Queen slander house which was interesting as it had a hall from the front door to the back of the house with all rooms off that hall.  It had a beautiful wrap around porch. 

Two grey haired ladies delivering chairs to the missionaries in the Australia Brisbane Mission.  Sister Parsons is taking the picture.  Fun Road Trip!

Elder Pu left this mission in October.  He is from
Elder Pu
mainland China.  He served as an Assistant to the President and was in the Mission Office for a couple of months.  He worked with me on housing for the missionaries.  He has a fascinating story.  His father was a high ranking official in the Chinese government.  They had a daughter and she found she was pregnant so the response was to have an abortion based on the one child rule in China.  They went to the clinic.  The mother went into the room for the procedure and his father was I the waiting room when he heard a sound beside him.  There was a covered bucket next to him so he lifted the cover to discover aborted fetus in the bucket.  He immediately went into the room where his wife was and told her they were leaving.  The baby that was born is Elder Pu.  His family currently live in the country and his father farms as he had to leave the government job.  His sister is a student at BYU Hawaii and he has applied to attend next spring.  He will become an amazing leader in China some day.

Old Brisbane Town
When Lieutenant Henry Miller, the First Commandant of the Moreton Bay Penal settlement, sailed down the Brisbane River in May 1825 and founded the town of Brisbane, he could never have imagined the changes that would occur over the next 190 years.  Life in “Brisbane Town”, which was deemed a suitable location or relocate the worst convicts from Sydney, was far removed from today’s comfort and convenience. 

Dean Prangley explains that life was hard and full of risks.  “If you cut yourself and it became infected, you probably died.  Malaria, dysentery, typhoid and other diseases were common and life expectancy was much less than today.  The water was brackish and bad to drink unless boiled.  Toilets were dep pits out back and you walked everywhere unless you could afford a horse.  With no refrigeration, you ate what you grew and bought meat from the butcher as soon as he killed the animal otherwise it would decay quickly in our climate.

Clearing and cultivating dense scrub in order to facilitate development was back-breaking work.  Medical help was hard to come by so childbirth often meant loss of life for mother and baby.  Despite these adversities our early settlers kept arriving and persevered, like the Mayes family. 

Historical home - Mayes Cottage
Mayes todayIn 1871 John and Emily Mayes arrived from England with their two small children and took 321 acres of land in the area know as Scrubby Creek, which would eventually become Kingston.  The family build a slab hut no larger than a modern-day bedroom, which would be their home for 1 years.  Emily cooked for her family of nine on an open fire and used a hollowed-out anthill for an oven.  The family’s hard work paid off and they began selling a range of fruits including mangoes, pineapple and citrus.  By 1887 they were able to construct a larger home, known today as Mayes Cottage. 

Down Under Signage

 Went to the Saturday Market at New Farm Park on Halloween.  Purchased fresh veggies and fruit.

Halloween Witch

Banyan Tree Downtown
The first week of November was a busy, busy week.  Monday 15 missionaries came to the Mission home for their final day in Australia.  They spent the day with President and Sister Henderson and then left early Tuesday morning for various destinations throughout the world.  Tuesday was transfer day when the missionaries are transferred to another area and a new companion.  On Wednesday 11 new missionaries came into the mission.  They began arriving about 9:00 AM to complete all the paperwork required for the Mission, then to the Mission home to meet their missionary trainer.  I attend this meeting and give out a bag of bedding to each of the new arrivals with instructions to the Trainer to help their new companion make their bed.  Many come from countries where they do not have beds with mattress protectors, sheets, pillowcases and blankets. 
Wednesday we began our Senor Missionary Conference with a dinner at the Kangaroo Point Chapel.  Thursday began with a morning of training then free time in the afternoon to visit the sites in the city and dinner at a Thai. restaurant.  Friday another morning of training, a visit to the Mt. Coot tha Botanical Garden, and a dinner cruise down the Brisbane River on the Kookaburra Paddle Wheeler.  The day had been warm and it was a beautiful evening on the river.  More on the Senior Conference in the next post...  President and Sister Henderson are in the middle of the front row.  I am next to Sister Henderson.  Pretty good looking group, I think....

Australia Brisbane Mission Senior Missionaries

Sunday, September 6, 2015

September 4, 2015

It has been too long since I updated my blog.  I just realized it has been 4 months which have flown past.  We had a real cold snap in July that lasted a couple of weeks.  Since then the weather has been pretty good.  I was afraid the cold snap would last through my families visit but we had really nice weather.  The sun was out everyday they were here and rained the afternoon they left. 

Denise, Zane, Ky, Gabi, Kiera, Brett, Meredith and Paige all came on the same flight that arrived on Wednesday the 29th of July.  I was able to spend the two weeks they were here with them.  The missionaries in the Mission Office covered for me and I am really grateful for them.  Meredith had rented a house here in Brisbane that slept 10 people so we had plenty of room. 

We spent 4 days visiting numerous sites in the city of Brisbane and Brisbane area.  We visited the  Brisbane Botanical Gardens, walked along the Brisbane River, visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, climbed the Story Bridge, visited the Town Hall Museum, walked through Southbank, drove north to Mary Cairnscross Reserve in the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands.

 Ky and Gabi with their friend at the Lone Pine Koala Sactuary

Denise with her friend. 

Gabi, Ky, Denise, Zane and Kiera with their Koala friend. 

Brett, Paige and Meredith with their Koala friend.

We got up, close and personal with the kangaroos.  Everyone had a fabulous time feeding the kangaroos and wallabies.  There was a mom with her Joey in her pouch and all you could see was the back legs and tail.  We had pictures with the Koala Bears.  Paige held the Koala with Brett and Meredith in the picture.  Denise held the Koala for their family picture.  After the pictures we enjoyed the Koala presentation.  Also visited the Platypus presentation and Tasmanian Devils feeding.  We spent some time walking through the reserve and enjoyed all the amazing Australian animals before the Sheep Dog Show and shearing of a sheep exhibition.  Last but not least was the feeding of the Laurakeets.  Everyone had a turn holding the feeding containers.  We were surrounded by the beautiful but noisy parrots.

   Story Bridge Climb - Brisbane City Center and Brisbane River in the background.  This is the highest point on the bridge.

Our next adventure was climbing the Story Bridge. The Story Bridge here in Brisbane is one of three bridges in the world that you can legally climb.  I have wanted to climb it ever since I arrived here.  Everyone but Denise was up for the climb.  The entire experience is two hours.  You are given a special jump suit, harness and lanyard for your glasses.   You are not allowed to take anything up on the bridge with you as a safety factor.  It would not be good to lose something that would fall onto the traffic going across the bridge.  You have to walk along a grated walkway to get to the bridge.  This part of the climb bothered me when I looked down onto the street once on the bridge I was good.  The climb consists of a long climb to the highest point of the bridge down to the middle of the bridge which is the middle of the Brisbane River across the bridge to the other side back up to the highest point then back down to the start.  All the way we were attached to the bridge by our harness.  The tour guide was really good and gave us a lot of history about the River and Brisbane.  Everyone had a great climb.  The guide was good about giving us rest times as we climbed.  I would encourage you to climb a bridge if you have one in your area which allows it.  I do know the second bridge is in Sydney but don’t know where the third bridge is.  Tick that off my bucket list.

Mary Cairncross Reserve is about an hours drive north of Brisbane.  It is a rainforest reserve.  It is the fourth time I have been there and have never been disappointed.  It is an easy walk through the rainforest.  We saw a number of Pademelon (small wallabies) along the walk.  The trees and their root systems are magnificent. We saw fruit bats hanging in the trees, and were serenaded by the birds - the Kookaburras were really loud, the Whip Bird (their calls sound like a bull whip) were letting us know they were there too.  After our tour of the rainforest we drove to Maleny and had lunch.  The drive was spectacular as you drive the ridge of the mountain and have a spectacular view of both sides.  There were a couple of view points where we stopped to view the marvelous valleys.

On Monday August 3 we all headed North our final destination Airlie Beach.  Airlie Beach is about halfway between Brisbane and Cairns.   A full day of driving and we arrived at the Capricorn Caves where we toured the caves and spent the night in some really nice cabins.   Each cabin could sleep 4 or 5 people.  They had a full kitchen, lounge with TV and two bedrooms.  I was impressed that they were so nice.  The caves are about an hour west of Rockhampton. The tour of the caves was good, the guide gave us a lot of history about the caves and a great description of the inside of the cave.  The fern in the picture only grows in a very few places in the world and here in the cave is one of those places.

The caves were discovered by the sons of a man who lived nearby.  Here is the story of the discovery.  A man who lived near them had two sons.  The horses got loose so the boys were sent to fetch them.  As boys do they became distracted chasing brush turkeys through the woods.  One disappeared and the boys found it had gone into the caves.  They immediately ran to tell their father who came with a rope.  He tied it to a tree and went into the cave to explore with only a candle.  He left the matches outside because of the moisture in the cave from the bat Guano(pooh) which was over a meter deep.  Each time his candle went out he had to return to the entrance to relight it.  He crawled thru all the bat guano (pooh) to explore the caves.  He realized he had a great find and made a claim on the land.  Before it was grated a government official had to survey the land to determine there was nothing of value on it.  He made sure that the surveyor came on a very hot day and started him at the far end of the property before he reached the caves and that sis exactly what happened.  In the early 1900's people from all around came to see the caves dressed in their finery to go through the bat guano.  The owner finally let miners come in to remove the guano for fertilizer.  So no guano(pooh) now, only hard rock.         

It was really dark so we were able to see the Australian sky in all is glory.  It was spectacular with the milky way right above us. We also saw the Southern Cross on the horizon.

Another long day in the car through the beautiful countryside of Queensland.  We drove through forest, sugar cane fields, hills and valleys.  We saw a few kangaroos along the way more on the road than in the fields.  They are like deer and come out in the evening and night to feed, venture onto the road and get hit by the cars and trucks.  We arrived at Airlie Beach house  about 3PM.  The house overlooked the bay and was about 4 blocks from town.  We walked down to the beach and picked up shells.  There is a beautiful park all along the bay with a wadding pool for children.  The town was about six blocks long with a variety of stores and restaurants.   Denise made reservations for the next day for the Great Barrier Reef Adventure on the Cruise Whitsunday.

The boat departed for our Great Barrier Reef Adventure at 8:00 AM.  The cruise included a stop at Hamilton Island to pick up passengers, morning tea of fruit and biscuits, buffet lunch, afternoon tea of muffins on the return.   The boat took us to a pontoon that was anchored at one of the reefs.

Brett and Meredith signed up for a scuba dive.  The rest of us went snorkeling.  I went with Paige.  We had hoped to take the submersible first but were too late for the first run so got our wet suits and changed then picked up our flippers and snorkel gear.  Paige brought her own snorkel which closes up when it goes under water.  Sure wish I had one.  I swallowed salt water at least twice once when I put my head too far down and once from the wave action.  The was a swell of about a foot.  The reef was beautiful and I saw a few fish but we were not in very long.  I made the mistake of using a noodle instead of a life jacket.  I could have stayed in longer with a life jacket.  Paige is like a fish in the water.  The water did not seem all that cold when we got in but we were all cold when we got out for lunch.  No one went back in once we were out.  We did take the submersible and had a good look at the reef after lunch.  Just before we were to start back I saw a big sea turtle swimming next to the pontoon.  I called my Brett over and we got some good pictures of him.  It was a really rough ride back.  We were all glad to be on firm ground.

 Roped off area was snorkeling area.  Ropes were for resting. 

Denise, Kiera and Paige soaking up the sun.

A friendly Sea Turtle

Sunset at Airlie Beach on our return from our Great Barrier Reef Adventure.

Four Kookaburras in the tree at the trail head.

Friday August 7 we headed back to Brisbane.  Denise and family were planning on visiting Eungella National Park to see the platypus. We also went to Eungella National Park to see the platypus.  We stood on the bridge and watched the platypus in the river.  They were amazing.  They are much smaller than I thought.  We were told that they close their eyes and ears underwater.  They swing their heads back and forth to find their food with whiskers (feelers) on their bills.  Brett, Meredith, Paige and I stopped at French Hatton Gorge before going to the bridge.  We hiked 2.8 kilometers to the first falls.  It was all uphill.  Brett, Mer and Paige walked 410 M further to the creek crossing.  I returned to the car and enjoyed the walk back down.  Going down was a much easier walk.

The Waterfall we hiked to. 

The uphill trail to the waterfall.


I made it with Brett, Meredith and Paige.  It was a beautiful waterfall.  A hiker who came after us swam to the waterfall and immediately got out.  It was really cold. 

Platypus in the river.

Our destination for the night was Mackay.  We had made no plans with Denise’s family .  Just before we arrived Denise called to ask if we had left some tennis shoes in Airlie Beach.   During the call Meredith found out we were staying at the same motel.  They waited for us and we went to dinner together. 

The next morning we both packed our cars and continued our journey.  We went to Oscar’s for brekky.  As we were sitting there who should arrive but Denise and her family.  Who would have guessed we would pick the same restaurant for brekky. 
We split up at this point and we went to the Mackay Marina to see the horse races on the beach.  Lots of people dressed in their finest with their fasinators on their heads.  Little kids all dressed up as well.  We watched three races.  The most entertaining was the ponies.  We left Mackay about 1PM heading for Gladstone.  We arrived about 7PM.  We saw a number of live kangaroos on our drive.

Our next stop was  Rainbow Beach.  It is a cute little town on the beach.  We drove down to the end of the peninsula where the ferries load up to go to Frazier Island.  We had a nice afternoon walking on the beach and through the  Mangrove trees.  As we were on the beach three pelicans came up onto the beach.  Here they are them marching down the beach.  They were so close.  I have never seen them up so close.

Monday August 10, 2015 I went to work.  Brett, Meredith and Paige went to Costco to purchase lollies (candy) to take home.  They also bought salads and lamb chops for a family dinner.  In the afternoon they rented paddle boards and paddled up the river.  Brett was set on paddling under the Story Bridge so he could say he had been on top of it, driven over it and paddled under it.  They had a great time.

Denise and her family arrived just before 6:00 PM.  Brett helped me cook the lamb on the BBQ out by the pool.  We had a lovely dinner.  For dessert we had a Mango Passion Fruit cake to celbrate Brett’s  Happy Birthday, Denise and Zane’s Anniversary  and Ky’s graduation with a degree in Economics.  When my back was turned they placed a huge chocolate cake on the bar with a birthday card for me as my birthday was the day after they left.

The last day they were here I took the day off to go to the Stradbroke Island with the Clark family.  I was suppose to follow Zane because he had the GPS but I lost him.  Kiera was with me.  I had a general idea of where I was to go but we had taken the no toll route through the city.  It took me a while but I finally found the Old Cleveland Road which was the road I needed.  It took us directly to the ferry landing where the rest of the family was waiting and hoping we would make it in time for the 10:55 ferry. 

We even had to wait for the ferry.  It was a pleasant ferry ride over and the bus was waiting for us to take us to Lookout Point on the North East side of the island.  We walked the path around the south and north gorges.  We saw whales spouting, a good number of dolphins and the girls were able to sun bath on the beach. 

Wednesday morning we all went to the airport for their flight home.  I went back to work to greet the new missionaries coming in that day.   Everyone arrived home safely and I am back to my routine taking care of the flats in Queensland. 

It was wonderful to spend time with my kids here in Australia.  The Australians are very nice and helpful and they made our trip enjoyable. 

Spring has arrived and the weather is warming up.  Before I know it it will be time to get on a plane and head back to Washington.  Two Single Senior Sisters have been called to replace us.  They are scheduled to arrive on December 27.  My companion is leaving on the 24th as she is taking a tour of Tasmania and her visa expires on December 30.  My visa is good until June so I am staying to help train the sisters and get them settled.  I my take a bus tour of  New Zealand.  I don’t think I will be back here again so need to take advantage while here. 

It has been a marvelous experience here in Australia and I am so grateful I could share a part of it with my family.  It will be time to move on before I know it.  Time flies when life is good.......