Saturday, September 30, 2017

Picking Up Speed in the ABM!

Happy Fall to our family and friends,

We hope your season is blessed with a bountiful harvest, kids happily settled in a new school year, and you all enjoying the mellow days of weather as Mother Earth puts on her fall gown of glowing colors! Nothing is more enjoyable than the change of seasons, and here in the Australia Brisbane Mission, the switch is hardly noticeable.  Spring's sprinting into summer at an alarming rate and we're already "sweatin' a bucketload!" Happily we report that Elder Yates is easing back into missionary work with the Heart Surgeon's approval. At his six-week post-op visit, he got flying marks for the good healing that is taking place.  A tickling side note: When we
Elder Yates enjoying Karawatha Forest Walk  
walked into the Surgeon's office, he gasped, "Wow!  You're a very tall man!"  Immediately, we realized Dr. Wall had NEVER seen Elder Yates in any position other than lying flat on his back! We realize how far he has come when he can go a whole day without a nap, and when his chest isn't the constant center of attention. Healing of the disrupted nerves, arteries and muscles still causes him pain, but it's manageable.  Doctor Wall gave us permission to walk as much as we want to, no restrictions and to sensibly ease back into use of his whole body.  Yay!  He can lift more than 2 kilos now and do a few things he loves to do!  He began Physical Therapy two weeks ago which will help strengthen him in every way to get back on his feet to lead a fully active life again! How we count our blessings for these daily miracles leading toward a total recovery!

Now, don't think he's up to jumping jacks and 50-yard dashes just yet!  We arise early like all good missionaries, attend our meetings and do our duties, but then the reality hits---"I need a little rest!"  Deservedly,  we find time to let him rest when he needs to. Our longest day is Thursday where we now teach two PathwayConnect Classes from BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the newly-named old BYU-Idaho Pathway program which has been moved from Rexburg to Salt Lake City because it's part of an amazing new world-wide
Grabbing a much-needed catnap on the church benches!
program for our ever-increasing world-wide church!  Leaving home  by 9:30 AM, we drive way north of Brisbane to Burpengary Chapel where we have 14 morning students for 2 1/2 hours of Institute and Academic studies classes.  Again at 7 PM we teach our evening class of 24 students.  Tutoring is from 6-7 PM so we really just hang out all day at the chapel until class ends at 9:30 PM. Still,  we have some follow-up duties that take until 10 PM.  Since it's usually a 90 minute drive south to our Kuraby home,  we arrive home LATE!  One perk is that the ONLY COSTCO in Queensland is 10 minutes from the chapel.  We fuel up with our liters of petrol and a few groceries at times!
Our Vivacious Daytime PathwayConnect Students at Burpengary chapel
Our Brave Evening Class--Starting their University Studies at ages 19 to 70!
Not a pushover, butcher bird sings dozens of gorgeous songs. 
Gecko on glass! (Outside our Bathroom)
With spring comes a new flurry of blossoms and opossums!  A huge brush-tailed possum jumped up into the tree as we got into our car late after our above Pathway class.  At our flat, we're now serenaded all day with the noisy miners and butcher birds who are nesting.  We continue to be whacked in the head by them on certain walks if we near their nesting sites.  A first for me, I rounded a corner to meet an angry butcher bird who dive-bombed me twice, delivering a hefty WHAP both times!  How RUDE!  The geckos have returned in full voice claiming their territories and chirping to find a mate.  This one sang from outside our bathroom window.  I hope his dream girl shows up soon, for he and his friends sing a great chorus all around the flat!  The latest spring surprise is the nightly screeching of the fruit bats who are drawn to the nectar of the blooming eucalyptus trees in the forest over our back fence!  These are huge, with a wingspan of about 2 1/2 feet.  Haven't been able to get a picture of one because it's night when they arrive, but we've seen and heard plenty of them.  Credit to google for this good look at one. How fun it is to live at the forest's edge.

 Not to be outdone by the flyers and squeakers that are easily heard and spotted, the lizards of the forest have returned in their camouflaged serene silence. The spiked nearly 4-foot lizard on the left was spotted as he ambled over the bush-land floor and found a lookout on a tree just over our back fence. His rounded belly bespeaks that he fared well through the winter here. The very next day another similar lizard took the same path and climbed the same tree!  However, look at the difference in the two---this unlucky creature must have been the last one in line for every winter morsel!  Poor dear---he looks like a mere scrawny version of his former self when the weather was milder and food was plentiful.



We continue to give service wherever we can, and that includes supporting any ward or stake in any endeavor. Logan Stake in which we reside had their stake conference a couple of weeks ago.  I was asked to play the organ for the Saturday Evening session, and our own Logan ward was to provide the choir for that session as well.  Here, choirs usually have an "outfit" where the women have matching scarves or corsages, and the men matching ties.  It's a powerful bonding tradition of the Pacific Islanders.  The picture shows only four of the women's portion of the choir, for most had already split up after the meeting.  It was a great showing for one of the smallest wards in Brisbane!  We filled the numerous (60+) choir seats to overflowing, and sang with the spirit to match!  Our visiting authority was a newly called Area Seventy, Elder Tufuafu, a warm Tongan man.  He told of Elder Russell M. Nelson's Grandfather sharing a sacred story of when his Father was able to visit him from beyond the veil.  This occurred in 1891, before the 138th section of the Doctrine and Covenants was received by Pres. Joseph F. Smith and published as part of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1918. To me this astonishing account was so spiritually nourishing that after the meeting I looked the story up for more details. If you'd like a full version, go to  leefamhistory.blogspot.com.au.  The questions and answers are very poignant as some of these truths had not yet been revealed.  Since we have Nielsens in our family line, notice that though Russell M. Nelson's grandfather was Andrew Clarence Nelson, his great grandfather was Mads Peter Nielsen.
How we love interfacing with our missionaries as they ready themselves to return home.  Pictured here are two sister missionaries (beside Sister Yates) who are leaving---one last week, and one next month to return home to Samoa. They happen to live in the same stake back in Samoa! In our goal
Sister Alovao, on my actual right, now has exciting hopes for her spiritual and academic future!
setting class for the two, it was hard to hear that Sr. Alovao's wish was to go back to work in the fish factory where she had worked before her mission. She hadn't graduated from high school, and had no hopes for better employment.  We told her about PathwayConnect and its possibilities for her to show in 3 semesters of Pathway that she can study successfully at university level.  With some emails back and forth to Samoa, we learned a class would be starting in January which she could join.  We urged her to go back and finish high school by getting her GED.  She'll have no trouble after being such a successful missionary! So, now, she has some goals and a plan to get there which promise much more potential for her future.  Bless all the hearts of these brave, dedicated hard-working Elders and Sisters!!

Amazing things come in twosomes this month both at home and around our flat, we have found! Mason Edgel, our oldest grandson, married His sweetheart, Brandi on Sept. 9th. đŸ’•Congratulations to them!!  New baby kookaburra gets taught proper manners by mama, while this wallaby shows off her latest springtime baby. Twin gardenias bloom in the cool of spring in our yard (can't you just smell their sweet fragrance?) while afar our new little twins in Utah are growing fast! 










As the month was one of recuperation, we have simple missionary successes to report. Our duties were put on hold and blessings flowed into Elder Yates' heart and life as we watched his healing take place steadily.  When the surgeon said at our six-week check-up, "You look so good!" I couldn't discern if it was because of his progress physically or the glow that accompanies Elder Yates as we gratefully acknowledge the Lord's hand in allowing this healing time.  Though we might have moved like tortoises physically for a while, spiritually we used the time to learn and grow. We're ready to "work with a will, our duties fulfill!" Thanks again to everyone for your support as we have felt so sustained with your love!  As we look forward to General Conference, we know that Elder Uchtdorf 's promise to us will be fulfilled: "There are messages in each General Conference given as a gift and a blessing from heaven specifically for our personal life situations."  
May each of you be blessed and prospered in your lives and families!  You each are fine examples and dear friends and family members who light our lives with your goodness!  

Love to you and yours, 
Elder and Sister Yates
Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
David and Marsha
(that about covers it!)


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

MISSION  "NEARLY" IMPOSSIBLE!

A SORE but NOT SORRY, grateful Elder Yates & Companion!!

Hello to our amazing family and friends,
What a way to get a day off!  The public ER? 

We still can hardly believe it ourselves, but the following is a VERY TRUE story which we never expected to experience, especially on a mission!  Early in July following a cold/flu illness, Elder Yates wasn't feeling very well.  He wasn't able to exercise strenuously, so we took it easy.  He complained mid-July of a little tightness in his chest when we took our morning walks in the forest. Thinking it was left over from his flu cough, he ignored it.  Asking if we shouldn't go get it checked out, he quipped, "No, I'll be all right!  I don't want to deal with an international medical bill." The same conversation was repeated with other walks where he felt slight 'tightness" in his chest with Sister Yates asking that we PLEASE go to a doctor.  On July 25th just when we began our walk, he had some pretty hefty pain in his chest which scared us both!  "Now will you go to the Doctor?" I begged.  

Elder Yates heads to his angiogram-- a short procedure, yes?
Yep, we called mission doctor who ordered us to head for the nearest ER---Logan Hospital. After 12 hours and several standard tests, they concluded it was NOT a heart attack, but there had to be some reason for the pain. ER doctor hooked us up with a notable cardiologist at a private hospital and told Elder Yates to go home and take it easy and not even think of flying home! Elder Yates had a Priesthood blessing by two Senior Elders who pronounced that all would be well, he would heal, and we could finish our mission.  Relief! Peace! In conferring with our experienced mission doctor, he assured us that if an angiogram was required, we could be confident Drs. here are very skilled and capable with a great cardio record. He added almost parenthetically, "And if you happen to need bypass surgery, I would trust them implicitly with that as well!"  We called the next morning for Dr. Chua's next possible opening, At our Monday, 30 July appointment, the EKG (ECG here) showed a strong beating heart with no structural problems. Dr. Chua needed answers by looking inside the vessels with an angiogram, which he scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 3rd. He said we would be permitted go home if no stents were needed, and stay overnight in hospital if 1 or more stents were needed during the angiogram. 
Tim and Jen's sweet twin girls!

August 3rd turned out to be a very paradoxical day. Our son Tim and his wife Jennifer's precious twin daughters were born healthy and happy!  Joy of joys!  What a relief that all is well after a tough pregnancy. Now Mom and Dad's arms are full of beautiful heavenly newborn babes that we've long awaited!  Their names are Madison Amelia Yates and Adelyn Claire Yates and grandma's arms will have to wait a few months to hold these angel babies! Each child is such a sublime blessing from above, and we count these fraternal twins as evidence of Heavenly Father's love and trust that we mortals can raise His innocent and perfect children well.  Now siblings Brayden, Austin, Landon and Katelyn will be extra big helpers!  Adelyn and Madison are our 26th and 27th grandchildren, and it makes our arms almost ache to hold them and to give hugs all around to each one of our incredible grandchildren whom we adore!  

Back to the not-so-sublime part of the day.  Elder Yates was wide awake through the short angiogram and could see the stark evidence in the arteries that all was not well!  The procedure was short because it was very clear that the blockages discovered were too bad to be rectified by stents, so Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery was needed ASAP!  Shock of all shocks!  Not just bypass surgery, but a triple bypass!  Three important arteries were badly blocked---the left main 70%, the right coronary artery 60%, and the circumflex artery, otherwise known as the "widow-maker" was 95% blocked! The circumflex is called the widow maker because it usually gives NO SIGNS of a heart attack before doing massive damage and often causing immediate death.  Doctors feel Elder Yates was fortunate because he had enough symptoms, probably due to the blockage in the other two arteries, to seek medical attention! They said he was a "walking time bomb" and we were very lucky he hadn't had a heart attack already!  The nurse frankly told me, "It's not a matter of months or weeks, but of a few days or hours before the 'big one.' You should be glad he made it here in one piece!" Dr. Chua had the surgeon, Dr. Wall, come to our bedside and explain the bypass surgery.  Our heads were swimming with a million thoughts!  A triple bypass?! You could have knocked us both over with a feather, we were so shocked at the news!  This angiogram was going to be more than a "three-hour tour," as Gilligan's Island theme song declares!  
Aug.5th, just before surgery: Butterflies in tummies, but peace filled the day!  Pathway student Aggy visits us.
The "Dream Team" supports Sister Yates during surgery: L to R;  Miss. Pres.; Clydes, Osbornes, Briggs (new mission Dr.) 

Together, we "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth" us!  This "health mission" is possible, too!

Elder Yates was admitted immediately into Holy Spirit Hospital and plans were made for surgery ASAP.  Dr. Wall had to put a team together and book an operating theater in this premiere heart hospital.  We were reassured that it was the best in Queensland, by far! Glitches popped up but Dr. Wall pulled some clout and the surgery was performed Saturday, Aug. 5th. That was about the longest 5 1/2 hours of my life, but finally came the good news from surgeon Dr. Wall that all went well.  David was still unconscious and intubated, but I was able to see him briefly.  By morning, they brought him out of unconsciousness and the slow recovery began. His pain was off the charts, but able to be controlled soon.  Within a very few days he was only on mild Panadol. He is our champion, and a patient, tolerant patient.   
Elder Yates in ICU where he had his own nurse 24/7.  Success is waking up!

Where does one find a good artery?  In David's left arm!

   We feel so blessed to have had such marvelous doctors and nurses throughout the whole 9-day hospital stay.  Though each day and each task was a challenge, small baby steps forward were observed daily!  If you're squeamish, skip the next part.  However, bypass surgery is NOT FOR WIMPS!  Three large arteries had to be harvested from David's own body to use for the 3 bypass grafts.  Since he's had trouble with his leg veins, the doctor elected to use an artery from his left arm and two from his own chest. The arm picture was what prompted one of our children to reply with the "tattoo" man.  


What?  No rest?  1st Walk 3 hrs. after becoming conscious! The sooner they are up and moving the better the recovery. No post-op pneumonia in this hospital. What marvelous care Elder Yates received throughout this whole experience!

Babies Madison and Adelyn go home from the hospital the same day Grandpa Yates moves from ICU to his own very private room at the end of a hall with big view of eucalyptus trees. Now sleeping can begin for everyone in earnest.   

This surely doesn't look like a missionary tie!  Dear Elder Yates and Sister Yates hung on to the beautiful words given to him in a blessing before his bypass surgery.  Elder Watts and Elder Briggs (brand new mission doctor)  pronounced that "this surgery will provide the means for the prolongation of your life." That unusual word 'prolongation' stood out to us like a beacon of hope and a promise that things would go fine and he would be sustained during and after surgery. Prolongation, after all, means "to make something continue or last longer; an added part."  How truly grateful we are for this precious blessing of being preserved until proper help was available.  It surely makes us appreciate the wisdom of the Lord in not sending us to a 3rd world country on our mission!  Wouldn't that have been disastrous? ! :( We see the hand of the Lord very plainly in the timing of this unexpected event.  He truly does know the end from the beginning at all times. Humbly we acknowledge His mercies and miracles in this experience!

Amidst  the tubes and hospital sterility inside, outside late winter Queensland beauty continues--a cheery azalea delight!


"Create in me a new heart!"

There might be many questions floating in your minds that will remained unanswered.  But people here keep asking us the same few questions, so perhaps you'll like hearing a couple of those answered:  

#1) Why didn't you just fly home for the surgery? Answer:  From the get-go when we went to the Emergency Room, David wasn't allowed to do anything strenuous.  I began driving, hauling the loads of projectors, etc. as he was not to exert or be stressed at all.  A heart attack was imminent, but we DID NOT know that!  After the surgery, we asked Dr. Chua, who said, "I expected to find something of this caliber in the angiogram when you described your pain."  Also, flying with the stress and sitting so long can contribute to bringing on a heart attack. 

What's the best way to stop the chest pain?  A nice foot massage! We await word that we're free to go HOME!

#2) Will you be able to finish your mission?  A resounding and happy YES is our answer!  We felt all along from the blessing David received in the ER that whatever  was going to happen would not prevent us from finishing our mission and that David would HEAL!  That is proving to be true. :) The Mission President said to me during the surgery when he visited in the ICU waiting room that  Salt Lake Mission  Hdqtrs. had indicated that we should fly home as soon as he was able to fly after the surgery. " Well, "quipped President McSwain, "why do they need to go home to recover after he's recovered enough to travel?"  SLC agreed that by the time he recovers sufficiently to fly, he'll be able to resume most of his Self-Reliance Missionary duties.  

Home at last! A sweet service was the loan of the big recliner from a dear ward member so Elder Yates can relax and keep his sternum straight! No bending, lifting, twisting, reaching nor pushing off!

 #3) How long will the recovery take?  Many activities he can do by 6 weeks, and most all activities can be resumed by 12 weeks.  Sedentary work he can do 4-8 weeks out.  We're fortunate that lots of our missionary work is preparing lessons for teaching PathwayConnect (Pathway's new name!) and other assignments.  Even now, he works on his computer more each day. We have been holding our team Self-Reliance meetings at our flat to keep him in the loop!  Doctors want him up and moving and not just sitting----blood clots are still a danger.  He has exercises to do and starts physical therapy next week.  By 6 weeks out (Sept 16th) doctors' goal is walking at a good pace at least 1/2 hour twice daily!  So each day we take walks which started out at a snail's pace, but are picking up nicely!  

What does the future look like for keeping healthy?  No more deep fried fish and  chips, but EAT YOUR VEGGIES!  The darker the color and the bigger the helpings, the better!  Above is the beautiful dish of Libyan Lamb curry and fresh salad made by our awesome Libyan neighbors, Sallah and Najah.

#4) Didn't Elder Yates have a good physical before the mission?  Yes, of course he did and passed the stress test on the treadmill with flying colors!  Then why could this happen so quickly?  Stress tests don't show everything, and David is very healthy overall there was no reason to require further testing.  We learned from the cardiologist here that up to 80% of having hardening of the arteries is due to genetic predisposition.   David's Father had similar troubles at about age 83--a heart attack and subsequent stroke.  Also, his Father's mother died of a massive heart attack at age 80. Still, 20-30% of factors are dependent upon diet!  Therefore, all with ears to hear and a heart that you love, always consider the far-flung effects of what we put into our mouths!  Ah!  We are what we eat, for sure! 

This blog needs a little nature to cheer the month of medical issues we've encountered.  Elder Yates and I have resumed small neighborhood walks which started as a stroll.  Being early springtime, insects and creepy crawlies have begun to emerge!  In the last few days we've seen two huge lizards in our back bush---about 2 feet each!  Walking on a short trail in the Karawatha forest yesterday, we were greeted by a surprising BROWN snake baby---with a greenish cast!  He was about 2 feet long and just a foot off the path on some leaves!  WARNING:  They are the 2nd most deadly snake in the world and even a newborn has enough venom to kill 20 people.  Respect it, we did and took a wide berth around it.  No post-op snake bites allowed!   The birds are out in massive numbers this early spring. Yet another innocent- looking bird turned out to be a menace to Elder Yates' HEAD! This cute but evil-eyed Noisy Miner tried and very effectively let Elder Yates know exactly how she felt as we apparently walked into its nest territory while on our neighborhood walk!  

These cute birds feed in our bottle brush trees (right) and are usually very nice.  But they have turned into mobsters the past 2 weeks as they defend their nesting territories.  They form temporary coalitions for specific jobs like mobbing a predator! Noted as being very territorial and aggressive, they'll target initruders---which they thought we were!  Three times now in the three times we've walked by a certain area on the public sidewalk, this bird has dive-bombed Elder Yates' head!  Making a screeching noise like none other, it flapped him in the head with its wings and tail creating a big smack.  Obviously I didn't catch it on camera, but someone caught the above picture of a Noisy Miner attacking their pet who wandered into its territory.

Our hearts and prayers go out to those people in the Houston area who are so badly affected by the unprecedented downpour after Hurricane Harvey.  How wonderful to see so many volunteerw working together to relieve the suffering of so many in dire need.  What a beautiful world it would be if we all gave so freely of our time, resources, and loving concern for our earthly brothers and sisters at all times. 

 We send our love to each of you, our sweet neighbors, family, and friends all!  How fortunate we are to know you and we celebrate our cherished relationships with you. We thank each of you who have been so kind to exercise faith through your prayers and fasting in behalf of David.   Again, we give thanks to our dear Father in Heaven for His kindness in guiding us through this medical emergency with the peace and comfort that comes from Priesthood power.  We have witnessed  many blessings and miracles as a result.  

With all our love to you and yours, 

Elder and Sister YatesDad and MomDavid and Marsha Grandpa and GrandpaThe happiest,  most blessed missionaries in all of Australia!  


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Christmas Blooms in July? & Hellos and Goodbyes!



Hello from Australia to our dear family and friends,

 Sandy likes poinsettias low enough to see the blooms in this 60 x 30' patch!.
You might be sweltering as you hit the heat of summertime in the USA. We hear you have had some very high temps and a dry spell interrupted  by some stunning, dumping rainstorms. Be assured, we're not suffering in our "winter" here. We grab a few more layers for the evenings and mornings, but sunny and sky blue are the norm. Even the poinsettias are in full bloom---a bloom like we've never seen before!  Poinsettias are really TREES, as we San Diego girls remember from seeing our Grandmere Allen's 25 ft. tall poinsettia tree in her yard.  We drove out to the real "countryside", about 1 1/2 hours southwest of Brisbane to a beautiful valley called Korralbyn to train a new Ward Self-Reliance Specialist named Sandy Williams. Little did we dream we would be witnessing a mini self-sustaining piece of property of about 3 acres.  This lady is 72, dynamite and a recent widow who has taken charge of the property for the last several years when her late husband became ill.  She grows about everything possible and has a horticultural background so propagates most all of her plants. Fruit trees abound from banana and star fruit to papaya and passion fruit. Her vegetables are Texas size and her chickens do very well under her careful feeding and breeding routines.  She was getting ready to incubate a few more chicks to prepare for the next generation of roosters and hens.  A few of the "oldies" are ready for the stewing pot! Then came the surprise of her food storage---the size of a 2-car garage, she had this shed insulated, shelved and organized to a T. Bottling and preserving are her passion and, in summary, she did not need a lesson on physical preparedness!  How we enjoyed the day away from the city and in nature, with huge gray kangaroos lounging in the fields right alongside horses!! She was as excited to hear about the other aspects of Self-Reliance as we were to see her ingenuity and resourcefulness.  We felt blessed by her kindness, and she even fed us lunch.  Elder Yates was then able to give her some computer help to get her up and running again so she can resume her Family History work and begin her new role as ward self-reliance specialist!    

Star fruit and passion fruit! Yummy!
Gidget guards her domain with puppy teeth.

   Sandy with a rare iris cultivar she propagates.      This land's beauty just gob-smacks us daily!

Sisters Evans & Tahloobah enjoyed mission & goal setting!
Our Self-Reliance work continues to advance through the stakes in Brisbane and beyond. Working with the missionaries as they prepare to leave the mission field is a special treat for us. This last group to leave included 17 elders and sisters.We teach a class on goal setting and the Osbornes, the other SR couple in Brisbane do a class on getting them ready to reenter the workforce and/or school. So many of the sweet missionaries DON'T WANT TO GO HOME, for they don't have the opportunities to advance that they would like. Lucky are the ones who have goals and a plan that is doable from the get-go.  Many have to still improve their language to be able to be accepted into a site or program of their choice.  We love the spirit of the work and the hope it brings for them to set achievable goals and outline a plan to make it happen. In our mission alone we have missionaries from 34 countries!  When we gather at the mission HOME for their last day or two, we have a fun time seeing all their luggage piled up in the garage, having their last few classes, and then a lovely dinner---their "last supper" before their flights home. Then President McSwain gives them their exit interviews, directives about airport schedules, visa info, and all the particulars.  The evening ends with a marvelous testimony meeting which has such a spirit as to make each one feel of our Father in Heaven's love and appreciation for them as they've labored in the kingdom to bring many beautiful people the happiness of the gospel!  Each weekend we average about 8 baptisms throughout the mission.  The Mission has set a goal of 500 for the year...we're a bit shy, but gaining speed as we all fast, pray, and work to our potential!   
The "Kitchen Help": AP's, office Elders & Yates drew kitchen seating this meal for 50! We love to serve & bring dessert!
Squeezing as many as can fit in dining room w/ Pres. & Sr. McSwain. About 15 more are fed on beautiful deck...chilly!

Our backyard's blessed w/ "pets."  Mamma kangee naps FLAT while  baby kooka nibbles meat.:)

Wahoo!  Last Hour of the Last Pathway Class!  We're Successful "uni" students, and proud of it!
Since September 15th we've been teaching a BYU-Idaho Pathway class.  Actually, we teach the Institute portion, 2 lessons per week at our weekly gathering on Thursday evenings.  Then we launch into another 70 minutes of academic work led by a lead student.  We supply the moral support throughout the evening and the week. Our last class was July 20th, and our 8 students did very well in their English 106 class.  Last evening, July 29th, we had a big completion ceremony to celebrate their year of studies.  Believe us, they spearheaded the WHOLE THING, and it was a beautiful evening with a dinner for the grads, full program, testimonies, and celebration in song with information to inspire others to join Pathway.  Have you heard, Pathway is now under the Church's umbrella education program called BYU-Pathway Worldwide? The university portion is now called PathwayConnect.  It's an inspired change which takes the program to Salt Lake so BYU-Idaho isn't swamped with it!  It's growing so quickly and there are about 500 in the Pacific Area alone currently enrolled! We are so proud of our graduates and have built such a bond with each one.  Our cute Lisa quipped at the dinner last night, "When you guys go to the airport,  I'm going to be there like a little koala around your legs!  We're NOT letting you go!!"  Another, Tepepe, said we were like the Grandparents she never had!  They are in our hearts forever!!! We begin another cohort mid-Sept. and certainly have a testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost to teach us all things. What a journey!
Grads being "sashed" with their well-earned ribbon of victory.
A remarkable and spiritual woman, Cecelia Ngere draped in her Maori Tribal Robe poses with family. 
As we approach our year mark of the mission, we marvel at the many opportunities we've been blessed with.  We are busy and happily engaged in the work of building  the kingdom in whatever way we can.  Today, for example, is the 5th Sunday.  Our Bishop called us 1 hour before Sacrament meeting to say his program speaker for 3rd hour called him and was very sick and couldn't present. He asked if we would share with the adults and youth what has been happening in our ward in regard to Self-Reliance and in Self-Reliance as a whole!  Would we?  We've been praying for an opportunity!  Yesterday I also spoke at a Women's Relief Society Conference along with our Boss, Brother Carl Maurer.  Since it was a women's conference, he gave David a pass.  He was our fearless tech guy. Our hearts are thrilled when we can testify of the way the Lord desires to provide for all of His saints, both spiritually and temporally. We've been out long enough and participated enough in these inspired initiatives to see miracles happen all around us. It's a joy to be 100% engaged in this work!  Hey, anybody considering serving a mission---get on with it! Wherever you serve, it would be the delight of your life!  Besides, we'd love to have someone to replace us when we leave!  Senior missionaries are so needed everywhere, and there are marvelous assignments all over this Earth!
  
Yes, Sister Yates is tightly hugging a stately grey eucalyptus gum tree on a forest walk. You can't walk these beautiful forests without feeling of their majesty and LIFE-giving energy!  Elder Yates reminds her to always check the back of the tree before the hug!  Truly, you don't know what or who is lurking on the other side. Photo on right is the huge goanna (monitor lizard) who is about 6 feet long and frequents the woods right over our back fence.  She is stealthily hiding between two trees, hugging it tightly for several hours at a time awaiting an unsuspecting bird or lizard to present itself to her as DINNER! She's another forest delight who is now in winter hibernation. How do we know she's a she?  Well, her name says it all---Go Anna! đŸ˜„
 Along with hugging trees, we pass our hugs and love on to each of you at home.  Our hearts are always reaching out toward home and ALL of YOU, our dearest family and cherished friends.  We miss you and our association, but it will be all the sweeter in the end!  Bless each of you for your strength and dedication to all that's good and right in the world.  Carry on joyfully, for we're on the winning team!!

Sending all our love to you,
Elder and Sister Yates      Dad and Mom     Grandpa and Grandma     David and Marsha
Australia Brisbane Mission                       We also love Snail Mail: 14/30 Allingham St.
Self-Reliance/Education Missionaries                                               Kuraby, Queensland  4112
0424 351 854                                                                                     Australia