Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Having a Merry, Very Green Christmas!

We're Wishing You and Yours a Wonderful Christmas! 

Though we're far apart, dear family & special friends, we are close in our hearts!

What a shocker to have everything in full bloom and the sun blazing during December! Most of you are in store for a beautiful white Christmas while the temperatures keep climbing daily in Brisbane.  No slipping on ice, no shoveling, but we're missing the ambiance and beauty of winter, no lie!  So enjoy having to put on a coat to shovel the driveway! 😊🌟  Here we sit in our flat blasting the AC with our sweet 24" tree, and a wreath on the door, happily enjoying the joys of this most special season of the year. Pictured is one of the live displays at the Brisbane Temple where the public was invited to a celebration of Christ's birth with music and lots to see. We were privileged to usher one evening which surely put us in a permanent Christmas mood!  We've been very engaged in preparing for our Logan Ward's Christmas Musical Fireside where Elder Yates narrated and Sister Yates played the organ, sang in the choir and accompanied several musical numbers.  Elder Yates even sang with all the beautiful voices of our Samoan and Tongan brethren as they belted out "O Come All Ye Faithful"!  We love our South Pacific Islanders who comprise about 95  percent of our ward!    

 Pictured here is our amazing BYU-Idaho Pathway students who last week completed their first semester with us as their "Parents" in the Institute and Gathering parts of Pathway.  They range in age from 19 to 61, and are either beginning, returning to, or working on another college course of study. It's an online program that is all over the world now!  These 15 students have worked very hard, putting in about 12 hours outside of class each week to prepare for the educational portion of their courses.  On Thursday evenings we drive about 1 1/2 hours north to Burpengary to meet with them for 2 1/2 hours, where we teach Institute, then we have their academic gathering which supports them in their online studies.  Many transformations have taken place as "old" or "lazy" brains have been activated and they are reaching new heights...the brains and the students!  It was so touching on Thanksgiving Day, a Thursday of course, to have them feel badly that we "had" to teach them instead of celebrating Thanksgiving on that very day.  They threw us a little surprise mini-Thanksgiving program complete with pumpkin pie, gave us a sweet class card, and sang "Count Your Many Blessings" at the top of their lungs!  How could we be more thankful than to have these awesome students as our thoughtful friends! We have two weeks off and then begin 2nd Semester on Jan 5th---MATHS this semester.  (Not a typo---they call math "maths" all over AU!)  We'll have heaps of fun with the maths, and Elder Yates will be in charge of tutoring.

We have also begun teaching an English class  to some Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese people, and one Japanese student.  We have a limited curriculum while we are searching for better programs, so are scrambling to serve the needs of our 5 students.  3 are new English speakers, and 2 have a good command of the spoken language but want to improve writing. Johnson An has finished a bachelor's degree in Taiwan and came here to apply for a Masters in Business program.  He does not yet qualify, for his written language skills are too low.  Sister Yates' school teaching skills are being called into play and Elder Yates is tutoring the 3 beginning students!  We're all learning and stretching ourselves!
The beauties of the summer continue to dazzle us!  Right now the poinciana trees (also called flame trees) are in full bloom---a perfect display of intense red and green just in time for Christmas.  One of our favorites is the frangipani trees which smell absolutely heavenly.  You'll recognize them as the flower  on our blog page.  We first were enchanted with their beauty and fragrance when visiting our daughter Heather in Vanuatu where she served in the Peace Corps! There are over 300 recorded types and colors of frangipani flowers in Australia alone! It's no wonder the South Pacific Islanders wear these flowers tucked behind their ears---it's better than any perfume, and the wearer gets the best benefit of its enticing aroma.  The gum trees are in full bloom and springtime new leaves which makes for good koala food.  Sadly, we learned from a local biker we met while 'bush-walking" that the koala population is challenged because of encroachment upon their territory.  They are being attacked by dogs, both wild and domestic, and foxes when the koalas come down from the treetops of the eucalyptus trees to find a mate. Koalas dine exclusively on the eucalyptus leaves, as you know, but their favorite is the grey gum tree.  (Gum trees are the broader class which includes the eucalyptus trees.)  We've only seen three koalas in the wild, for one needs to go way out of town to see them in the wild now.  Sad, but true!
Spotted Gum Tree
Grey Gum (Eucalyptus) Tree
The wallabies of the area are also in springtime mode, having their little joeys start pushing out of their mothers' pouches to be introduced to the world.  Right over our back fence is bush (forest) which supports several wallabies.  One mother wallaby we have been watching for two months, and her pouch became more and more round as she came to munch the on tender greenery.  Last week for the first time we saw a couple of little ears sticking out of her pouch, then the whole head of a CUTE LITTLE JOEY emerged!  Ah----we ran for the camera, returning to find her turned around, and all we could see was her backside.  
You have that view here--- the best shot we could manage.  But in a minute, while Mommy Kangee was bent over munching, a second head emerged under her arm and began eating the same tender leaflets!  Yep, a hilarious but beautiful sight which looked like a two-headed kangaroo, if we didn't know the second head belonged to her young offspring!  Another quiet miracle of nature we were blessed to see!  We included an online shot of a joey in the pouch for your enjoyment! 

To finish the nature portion of this blog, we have seen the first toads and frogs of springtime. The toads are small to huge, and the frogs follow suit!  The tiniest frogs we've seen are the size of a pencil eraser!  Our manager's sister, Colleen Lawton told me a hilarious tale of going into the ladies' restroom in their church building and raising the lid of the toilet only to be greeted by a huge green tree frog staring back at her from the bowl!  After her loud shrieking was under control, she decided to flush him down to return him to wherever he belonged.  Wisely, she chose another stall that day.  A week later, she again entered the restroom to use the facilities----you guessed it!  The same frog was in the same bowl!  She reported the errant visitor to the building maintenance man who burst out laughing.  Apparently this frog is a "regular" visitor to the ladies' room, and knows how to return to his favorite cooling-off pool whether they flush him down, or carry him outside and far away to relocate him!  Persistence gets results in this case! Just google "Frog in Toilet" and you'll get many such stories!  When it begins to dry out in summer, these little amphibians need a cool and wet place to hang out to regulate their moisture and body temperature.  Colleen didn't get a photo, but I've included one of a Queensland toilet-dwelling tree frog--we live in the state of Queensland.  Be aware before you sit around here!  😄 And be aware of where you step as well!  We have been warned about the very deadly snakes around here, especially the brown snake and the red-bellied black snake, and.....lots of them!! Where I stand to feed the kookaburras daily is at our back fence with bush lands behind the fence.  One morning while we were preparing breakfast in the kitchen Elder Yates suddenly grabbed my arm and said "LOOK!" pointing to the base of our wooden fence.  Though it was young and small, (only about 3 feet), it was a brown snake!! So kooka-feeder beware! I watch my step and clear the bushes away to check the ground before I set nary a foot on any patch of ground in our backyard!  Our kookas are worth the risk! 

Our mission continues to delight us with the many varied opportunities we have to further the work in this part of the kingdom.  As senior missionaries, we don't follow the same schedules as the "juniors."  It makes for varied schedules and we are in charge of furthering the work as Self-Reliance missionaries in whatever capacity we can serve others. We almost always make it to the Brisbane Temple once a week, and attend meetings all over the 11 stakes in Brisbane, focusing on Logan Stake where we live, and Brisbane North Stake where we teach Pathway. We just had a 3-day conference here in Logan where our manager, Brother Maurer invited the "outlying Senior" missionaires from Perth and Adelaide to join us. We hosted the Adelaide couple, the Snells who are from England. Note, they FLEW in because of distance.  Brisbane to Perth is like travelling from South Carolina to Los Angeles.With the local couples, (some 3 hours away), we had 20 people in total for our Self-Reliance Missionary Training Meeting. We had in attendance Paul Reid, the Pacific Area Self-Reliance Manager, who was inspiring and wise in his counsel to us.  We all participated, and since we and the Osbornes are Carl's two "local" Brisbane couples who live nearby, we got to help with the whole conference.  Lots of warm friendships were begun or renewed, and it's good to know there are 20 of us working across Australia where only 2 years ago Auston & Mary Johnson and Carl Maurer began to build this initiative of Self-Reliance from the ground up.  A lot has happened in a little over 2 years!  The photo is 13  of the conference attendees as we hiked one evening to a waterfall  near Tambourine Mountain.  Well, they call it a mountain, but to us westerners, it's a hill!  Beautiful rain forest environment!
Brisbane Australia Self-Reliance Missionary Support Training Conference,  the 13 who hiked to Tambourine Mtn.  
We have a dear local Brisbane missionary couple, the Tarrs.  Though a local Aussie, Elder Tarr wrote this poem for us "foreigners," knowing we're away from our Utah homes and families this Christmas season, serving and loving our missions, but missing our families and friends.  He poignantly captures many of our feelings.  It's a fun quick read:

        Christmas Across the Miles By Elder Tarr

I search through my window for snow on the ground.
My heart sinks within as there's none to be found.
And for one fleeting moment tears fall from my eye
As I sadly recount the very reason why.
I'm here on a Mission and a long way from snow,
Far, far from family and good friends I know.
No snowman, no mistletoe, no gathering 'round the tree,
No grandkids, no siblings to hug and kiss me.

No sled tracks in the snow, their marks cutting deep;
No stockings on the fireplace, no watching baby sleep.
And I'll miss all the great food at our Christmas dinner
Where we all eat too much and then long to be thinner.

Then I become sadder with the same reason why
So far from my home and I breathe a long sigh,
'Til my laptop makes a noise and I cease all the hype--
"Merry Christmas" they call.  It's my family on Skype!

Then the distance dissolves like snow in the sun
As I see all the kids 'round the tree having fun.
Then one at a time they all speak to me...
Oh, I feel like I'm there 'round my own Christmas tree.

Then the Spirit fills me and warms me inside,
Although I sit here in the heat, hot and dried.
But my family I love makes me feel they're here,
Far, far from my home and yet ever so near.

With eyes brimming tears, I don my brave face, 
I laugh and I frolic as if I'm at my place, 
And I thank God for family whether here or o'er there,
For wherever I am, I know that they care.

And yes, it's still hard with a tiny fake tree
In this air conditioned flat, just my husband and me.
I'm glad that we're here with our Little Christ Child, 
And sense His deep gratitude and I feel reconciled.
So I search out my window for snow on the ground, 
And yes, I still see there's none to be found.
But the Spirit shows me in a vision divine
My Savior's pure love as our hearts align.                         

May Heaven's blessings continue to be showered upon you during this precious Christmas season and for all of 2017!  With our Savior's birth, there came to Earth great hope, faith, and ultimate peace and joy.  He taught us the higher law, to give of ourselves and love and serve each other. You are such fine examples of doing just that, as you lift others by your kindly daily actions.  We know He lives and loves each of us purely. And we love you too, each one, and pray for your well-being and success always.  Love and Merry Christmas! Elder and Sister Yates, Dad/Mom, Grandparents Yates, David/Marsha

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bush Turkey for Thanksgiving, Anyone?

Hello, dearest family and friends, 

  It's with happy hearts we report that there WILL be turkey for our Thanksgiving, even though it won't be from the grocery stores here!  Turkey is not a favorite meat at all in AU, so one can't find it in the stores.  This fine specimen and his wife started showing up for dinner when we feed the kookaburras.  They do the "ground work," cleaning up any scraps the kookas miss or drop.  However, their ballet as they tiptoe across the back fence is quite the hilarious sight.  Truly,we have no desire to "bag this bird", so we may be enjoying ham for our Un-Thanksgiving.  Being it is an American holiday, it won't be celebrated, so we teach BYU Idaho Pathway program on Thanksgiving day.  No worries!  We'll fine plenty of food for which to be thankful, and we will look for other Americans to share it with--on another day.  We'll be thinking of all of you fondly as well!

November Family Home Evening with 2/3 of Brisbane's Senior Missionaries
Our lives are enriched by associations with other fine Senior Missionaries.  Not everyone can always attend because some have other assignments which take precedence over our get-togethers.  This was a special evening, for the lady seated in the center, Sr. Tarr, was having a heart procedure the next morning.  They are a local couple who serve full time as Member Leadership Services missionaries.  That's what most senior couples serve as.  Sr. Tarr had had the procedure done two months ago, but it was unsuccessful.  We added our faith and prayers to the beautiful blessing that she received at the FHE as these fine brethren gathered around her and anointed and blessed her.  Such a sweet thing to see her surrounded by a circle of love.  And, the procedure took well this time, and she's doing fine!
We are doing a lot of teaching of youth groups lately. Many young people are needing help to improve their skills to achieve more in school.  This is a group of Samoan youth in Karawatha, near our flat.  We taught an Education Workshop with important skills to "work smarter" in a fun way.  The balloons had surprise statements inside that drove the lesson.  When they had to race to blow up their balloon and pop it to retrieve its message, we had the youth leaders from other areas of the building come running to see if we'd set off a bomb!  Nah, it was just us having fun learning about serious things in their lives.  It is difficult in their culture for some parents to want to help the students with homework.  First of all, many parents speak little English, so when a child needs help in school,the child often knows more than the parent.  The parents don't like to be in a position of feeling inadequate, so they often separate school and home.  When the child is in school, it's the school's responsibility, they feel, to educate their child.  When the child is home, that's home time, and you do chores, and spend time with family.  That is the extreme, but symptomatic of the difficulties Pacific Islanders have integrating into another culture---one that speaks English!  These particular kids are lucky--most parents want the best for their child even if they can't help.  One sweet girl in this group lost her parents at an early age, was raised by her grandmother until she was 10 and NEVER attended any school.  Her aunt and uncle adopted her and they all left Samoa to give Marynati a better chance in life.  She just finished year 12 (high school), and would like to do higher education, but needs more English skills.  These are the types of individuals we try to assist.       
Oh where's a kookaburra to hide during a spring downpour?
Apparently nowhere!  This little guy sat out as a huge thunder storm
hit the area and POURED  huge raindrops.  We were sure he would
fly to take cover, but I guess it was time for his springtime shower!
As you can tell, he still hasn't done his hair since the storm. They
love to sit on our back fence and we now have 4 regular customers!

What a Bougenvilla Bouquet--A single stem! 
We took a 3-hour "tour" not on Gilligan's Island, but on
Coochiemudlo Island, just off Victoria Point in Brisbane.  We
had Church duties first, but Carl, our "boss" encouraged us to
take time to ferry over, put a toe in the water, and grab a burger
with "the works!"   And it was amazing!  Mine was grilled
chicken with beets, fried egg, pineapple, salad, plus everything
that would be on an American burger.  Coochie-Yummy!

We are with the Osbornes, the only other 2 Self-Reliance
missionaries in all of Queensland.  Great people from St.
George, and we spend lots of working time together!  They both
are retired school teachers, and Elder  O. was an administrator.
Lots of talent to put to use in the Self-Reliance initiatives we
try to implement.  Sr. O. and I are helping two different groups
to set up a "Mum's Preschool" for 3-4 yr olds to get them caught
up skill-wise to be able to enter their kindergarten at age 4 1/2.

"Whadduh ya want"?  While hiking around Coochiemudlo, we cut across the
island  and were surprised when this "little" 2-foot fellow was nearly underfoot. He scampered
to safety and defiantly raised head in victory that he got away!  Such an abundance of
beautiful creatures here---the lizards are LARGE!! Just look below!!!

Look closely to meet the 2nd lace monitor lizard we've encountered while doing our
morning "bush walks."  He was a younger one we surprised by a tree, and he
shocked us!  Being 5 feet long, he scampered up this smooth-barked tree.  But
as we stood at the bottom of the tree to admire and catch a picture of him, we
watched him slowly start to slip down the bark.  Madly, he reached with his left arm
to brace himself with a branch, but started to quiver---out of fear or exhaustion we
weren't sure.  Quickly we left so he could get safely to the ground.  These lizards
love to empty birds' nests  of their eggs.  Lizard omelets, anyone?

A few hundred meters from the monitor lizard is a dirty  rock pile .  We've watched over the
past weeks little projects emerge from the rubble pile.  This was a surprise to see in the bush, as
we rarely ever see another person where we walk.  As we looked at the message  this person
chose to share, I thought how like life this is:  Sometimes we have hardships or adversities in
our lives.  Our problems can seem like we're in a whole messy heap of trouble.  But, with a little
effort and imagination, one step (or stone) at a time,one can turn a pile of rubble into a positive
solid growing experience in one's life.  Build with what you have.  Look at the tools around you,
and move forward into the future with FAITH.  Life is good, when we make the effort to make it so!

We send lots of love to you, our faraway friends and family who are close in our hearts.  May 

you be blessed to have that which is needful come to you and your loved ones.  As we are 
apart, may we all learn and grow and become that which we came to Earth to become!!

With  wishes for  a happy Thanksgiving, and  much love, 

Elder and Sister Yates, Dad & Mom, Grandpa and Grandma, David and Marsha  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Butterfly Migration is Kookas' Bane

White Caper Butterfly
Hello to all our dearest family and friends,

Greetings from Brisbane to each of you and your loved ones.  We love hearing from you in any form, and appreciate the news from home. We trust this finds you well and enjoying the crisp fall weather over there.  Any big frosts yet? And how is the water situation in Utah as far as drought?  News here for us consists of an occasional look at BBC or KSL on our tablets.
A Crested Pigeon with bright orange Halloween eyes!
Nature story of the fortnight:  About one week ago we started seeing these beautiful fluttering butterflies EVERYWHERE! Out of thin air, they just appeared, gracing the skies with their elegance, and all flying NORTH, of course. We were told by the local folks that this is quite normal for springtime, when different species of butterflies hatch out and head north to the tropics. It's called the "Kaleidoscope of Butterflies." These elegant "White Capers" just fluttered northward, at about 6 feet off the ground, surrounding us in traffic, on our bush walks, and all over the city---wherever

Young "Fluffy" kooka who ate too many butterflies!
they desired.  Enter:  hungry predators.  Yep, a new fresh treat flashing before the eyes of hungry birds and mammals was too tempting to resist.  But the birds have a better chance of catching them because we NEVER saw even one caper butterfly land! A species of moths was also out in force, hanging on our walls and having a royal moth celebration of life! See their fuzzy little heads?  Our "pet kookas", now a steady party of three who never miss a meal, suddenly disappeared for 3 solid days.  Worry took over, when three bedraggled birds finally returned to our back fence to repent of their gluttony!  They were so dehydrated that they could not eat!  The food would stick in their bills, and they'd tip their heads back to eat, and the food could not be swallowed.  They sat on the fence, moaning and crying so sadly.  Problem?  Too many butterfly and moth treats and not enough water!  It has taken about 3 days now to have them finally get hydrated and be able to eat normally. Talk about having something stuck in your craw, these birds did a superb job.

We had a fine opportunity for all the senior missionary couples to meet President Nielsen, the 1st Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency.  He was en route from Auckland, New Zealand, to fly to Adelaide with President McSwain, our mission President, for a Mission Presidents' Conference.  We were blessed to be able to have him take time to talk with all of us.  We met at the mission home
to share dinner and he spoke to us for about an hour. He graciously offered for us each to have a quick photo with him!  Now that was a surprise.  He is over Self-Reliance for the whole South Pacific region, and was thrilled when we (and Osbornes, the only other Self-Reliance missionaries in all of Queensland) introduced ourselves as Self-Reliance/Education Missionaries.  We got 2 thumbs up and a big smile.  He is a humble and inspiring man.  He instructed us in many areas, but a couple of ideas meant much to us.  He said that the true indication of the Lord's people is how they care for one another.  He spoke of the outposts of the church, some of these little islands in the Pacific where contacting one another is so difficult.  Creative ideas were given for being unified as a people, and being able to improve in their life situations and make progress, both temporally and spiritually.  As "mature couples," he reminded us to have our faces reflect the joy of the gospel, for it is a gospel of pure joy.  And we were reminded to keep a spring in our step.  We have to to keep up with the work!
Fame in the South Pacific:  Remember Gifford Nielsen, (on left)
famous BYU quarterback anyone? He's now 1st Counselor in
 the Pacific Area Presidency. (In back), Mission  Pres. McSwain.

Photo left above, We love our sweet missionaries!  These two sisters
serve in our home stake with 20 other missionaries!  Our Logan  Stake
covers a large geographical area, as do all 11 Brisbane Stakes.
Sister Tavivongoaiboon  is from Bangkok, Thailand,, and her name
is as long as she is tall.  A sweet little ball of joy, she is. Sister 
Grawrock is originally from Russia, and was adopted at age 2 by 
an American couple.  She considers her blessed life a miracle! 

We love our mission, and the increased connection we feel each week with these amazing people.  The world is so full of beautiful people who are trying to do their best, most often.  We are glad to offer some opportunities to help in that process as we introduce people to some of the amazing principles of Self-Reliance.  We've been doing lots of teaching, workshops, meetings, and are planning some big events coming soon.  I know  we're learning so much each day as we immerse ourselves in the work.  So, dear grand kids all, your Grandpa and Grandma have HOMEWORK  every day, and lots of it!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spring Beauty Brings the Beasts!

Greetings to all you special family and friends, 

Beetle All Dressed up for the Ball!  
A Huge Moon Dog  Fit for any Halloween  Night
The NOT Itsy Bitsy Spider!
How's it going for you all? Has it frosted a good one yet in Utah?  It seems quite strange as October hastens on that here in Brisbane it's getting hotter each day instead of colder!  We'll enjoy 2 springs this year and skip the winter----quite a good deal, yes? During springtime here, everything comes to life---plants and animals alike.  We've been warned by the locals to watch out for the cranky snakes who are looking for mates and are in no mood to deal with a human!  Since Australia has some of the most plentiful species of poisonous animals, as in very deadly ones, stay clear.  The brown snake is most feared since it loves to dwell where humans do and its bite is lethal in about 45 minutes!. But how about diving birds? Note the sign, about 50 yards from our flat, which warns of "Birds Swooping" and tells you that you are in an area of high concentration for nesting birds who won't  hesitate to protect their territory from YOU by dive-bombing and pecking you on the head!  Wearing a hat and not riding a bike are recommended. Sounds like a good sequel to an Alfred Hitchcock movie. And watch out for the overhead BIG spiders in the woods where we walk.  We climbed up a path and noticed a stick overhead dangling in midair.  Hmmm.  Reason said it wasn't a magic Harry Potter wand, so we scoured our surroundings and found a large 5" spider in its web above the stick!  The web was strong enough to catch that stick! Not very nourishing prey, that stick!

Okay, all you GRAND-KIDS and young-at-heart folks---

this is for you!  Thinking about differences in foods here made Grandma start SINGING a silly little song.  So, luckily, you can sing along too.  Just use the tune from "Are You Sleeping,"  Ready?
VERSE 1:  
In Australia, in Australia, 
Eggs are brown, very brown.  
Most kiwis are yellow, 
Most kiwis are yellow; 
Don't you frown!  
Come on down!

In Australia, in Australia, 
Sultanas are raisins,
Sultanas are raisins.  
Capsicums are peppers, 
Capsicums are peppers, 
They are found
All 'round town!  

                                                       VERSE 3:
In Australia, in Australia,
"Avo's are HUGE!
 Avo's are huge!
Orange are purple. 
Oranges are purple.
(Just kidding!)
Thanks for singing!

 Again,  we're so fortunate to enjoy a cultural delight wherever we turn in Brisbane whether it be sights, food or people.  These are our neighbors directly across the very narrow lane we live on.  They are from Libya in Africa and are Sahlad, and Nagia with their 4 little children. This picture is missing the mom, Nagia  & 12 year-old Ali.  Nagia has her master's degree in English/Linguistics and teaches at  a  high school.  She is always in traditional Muslim dress, whereas Sahlad usually only dresses in his traditional clothing when going to the Mosque. They came because of the poor political situation in Libya, but now it is too dangerous to even think of returning.  ALL of their entire families live there still, so they long to see their families.  Little sweet Lamar, the baby girl in arms, is waving at you!  Just last week Sahlad, the dad, was cutting a frozen chicken to get dinner on, and the big knife slipped and two fingers were badly, badly cut--tendons and nerves!  After surgery and 3 days' stay in the hospital, he is on the road to recovery and the fingers will  be saved!!  

We have been enjoying the variety of work that we are able to participate in while on our Mission.
 Last week we attended some Zone Conferences and were able to meet with Elders who are within 2 weeks of completing their missions.  These Elders and Sisters all participate in a "What's after the Mission?" type of activity with us or the Osbornes, the other Self-Reliance missionary couple.  We loved meeting with these  fine, polished and accomplished Elders who all spoke no English when they arrived 24 months ago!  It is a testimony to how incredibly well most learn the language while on their missions, because 2 out of the 3 of these were able to pass an English proficiency test that will enable them to get into most universities. The third was very close to passing and will take it again soon.  Such success gives them much hope for a better future to know they have the opportunity to follow their dreams and get more education,  Most  would not have been able to even think it was possible to do a higher degree before their mission service.  The three we worked with this week (at different times) were from Fiji, and 2 from different areas of the Philippines.  We're pictured here with Elder Flojo who is so short that he didn't qualify for one university who had height restrictions! That wouldn't fly in the USA! Can't you hear the CLU jumping on that restriction!
Best Air-Freshener on the Planet--Fresh Gardenias and Jasmine

Ah, come on, Grandpa!  Have a HEART!
If you want to keep the "pet kookas" happy,
you need to have their favorite foods ready
and cut into their bite-sized pieces.  Their
favorite meats are chicken gizzards, livers,
and hearts!  They watch carefully for when we
arise in the morning or get home, and call
loudly to be fed!  Look on line for a kookaburra's
call!  What an unusual racket it is!
While in one church building this week, I walked into a ladies restroom, called "Toilet" here, and smelled the best refreshing smell EVER!!!  As I rounded the corner, to my surprise, there sat a fresh bouquet of gardenias and white jasmine, freshly picked by some loving person---most likely not a missionary.  That's a first in my lifetime---fresh flowers in the church restroom!  But there were bouquets in the mother's room and the 2nd ladies restroom as well.  When I questioned Elder Yates if he had a bouquet of flowers in his restroom, he looked at me, puzzled.  Sadly, no one had given the men's restrooms the same treatment!  Ah, the glories of springtime!
Yes, Grandpa loves the kookaburras as much as Grandma does!
Because Brisbane is known as a "teaching" mission, we get an inordinately high percentage of new missionaries who know little to NO English.  The scales were tipped 2 weeks ago when 16 new Elders/Sisters arrived and 9 of the 16 were non-English speakers.  Problem: where to put them so they have a companion who is at least semi-proficient in English. So our mission President, is being very proactive in providing the mentoring these new "greenies" will need to get up to speed.  And with faith and lots of ambition, miracles do happen.  We're witnessing that every day in this marvelous work! We are blessed to be a small part of what goes on as we learn more of our duties and how to spread the word about Self-Reliance initiatives that will assist people in making progress in their lives.  

These greetings come with much love and admiration for you and your families and all the good works you're involved in every day.  The world turns on an axis greased with the oil of service as each one of tries to do our part to make the world a better place.  Have a superb week as fall  puts on its glorious show of autumn colors!  

Love to each of you in abundance, 
Elder and Sister Yates, Dad/Mom, Grandpa/Grandma, David/Marsha

Sunday, October 2, 2016


...Even if it's only a teeny wallaby!  

Beautiful Karawatha chapel offers plenty of grazing hectacres 

Hellos to all of you far away and farther away.  It's always with happy hearts that we carve out time to catch you up on a bit of what's happening down under!   As part of everyday life, we get to see refreshing reminders we're in a foreign country.  Instead of cattle or deer crossing signs, we are greeted by 'watch out for other critters' signage!  And they're real, and especially the kangaroos cause big trouble for drivers at dusk, dawn, and night.  A friend lives off west more in the country side, which is stunningly beautiful, and she has "been hit" by a kangaroo several times.  Literally, she said the worst was a 6-foot red kangaroo---the biggest of the species.  It was dusk, and 2 emerged at the road's edge. Quick as a wink, she thought, "Whew! I've missed them!"  But nah,..there was a 3rd giant one that literally ran into her SUV broadside and did over $6,000 damage.  Yes, no insurance company in Kangee country would dream of insuring kangaroo damage.  They certainly are a "national" disaster!
Ekamjot helping  to re-pot plants day before her 6th b-day.

All aboard for an Australian bushland ride

At Home Amongst the Clivias

This country is perfect for growing beautiful flowers year round, and reminds us of Vanuatu with the plants we grow indoors surviving outdoors as they were created to do.  As it's springtime here, my two green thumbs started to itch, and I had to have a couple of house plants.  Don't ask where to buy house plants here, rather just go find regular garden plants, because most of them ARE our houseplants.  I invited our little neighbor girl, Ekamjot, who turned 6 this week, over to help repot them, as she loves to "garden."  Our excursion for the last 2 weeks was to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, about 2 hours' drive west of Kuraby.  Beauty was in bloom on every side as we toured private gardens, parks, and a Japanese garden which all were remarkable.  We met up with many of the Senior Missionary couples and office staff for a royal tour. Their Clivia flowers were superb and I guess they are quite a Toowoomba  passion for there is a Clivia Society there.  Elder Grandpa Yates enjoyed the Thomas "bush train", complete with seats.  Wildlife and culture abounded as we saw people from every walk of life and many nationalities enjoying the day with family and friends.   

This has also been a week of fantastic animal discoveries!  Walking through our backyard Kuraby Bushland is always a treat.  However, a native runner we encountered on our second day in the woods suggested that when we hike down by the wetland portion, that we watch out for red-bellied snakes, pythons in trees, and monitor lizards.  When we asked how big the monitor lizards were, he said about 3-4 feet.  We have many paths to take as options, but have tried to steer clear of the heart of the wetlands. Friday we took a new path which led us to an area still very wooded, but signs of wetlands too. We can often hear the frogs croaking, and we stay clearly on the path!  A long, skinny shiny green snake was warming himself on the path.  Looking non-threatening boasting a 3 foot length and the girth of a kindergartener's first pencil, we took its picture, and felt content for the new critter we'd been privileged to see.  Not too far away, David spotted a HUGE lizard scurrying away from behind a tree at the edge of the path.  No joke, his body was so well camouflaged that we could hardly see him, and yet his body just kept flowing out behind him as if he grew when retreating away. Then he stopped at his safe distance to size us up. Well, the estimate of there being 4-foot monitor lizards was wrong!  No exaggerating, this guy was 5 feet at a minimum.  It was thrilling to see him 
A most incredulous encounter---5 foot monitor lizard!
flick his tongue to see if we were a threat.  
We took several pictures but our  zoom
couldn't do him justice.  A beautiful, powerful and wary creature.  He finally relaxed enough to bend over and eat something from the ground where he was resting.  We thanked him for staying around and letting us share a few minutes of his existence with him. Now we'll be walking more with our heads up looking for pythons, and heads down watching for red-bellied snakes since we know the runner who told us to watch out for them wasn't kidding! But that doesn't leave much time for us to gaze steadily into the bush to see the kangaroos hop by, right? And all this right outside our doorstep! Of the animals seen in the last 2 weeks, this was the greatest find.  Others included,  beautiful galahs, rose-colored birds about large pigeon size.  At the Japanese garden we saw so many Australian White Ibis and turtles that made us miss our little red-eared slider, Tatum that lives in our pond.                

Two well-fed galahs in Toowoomba 
How to capture the essence of these beauties with a picture is a poor substitute for the real  thing! Still a picture's worth a 1,000 words.

Australian  White (but black-billed) Ibis
Lights Out, but Brains Still ON in our Pathway 1 1/4 hr. Blackout
We had a couple of building blunders this week which remind us that life isn't perfect in any country, 1st world, 2nd or 3rd world.   Blunder #1: This is the ending of a 2 week holiday from school as the spring break is in full swing here.  That means that families and different groups gather to celebrate, and often use the church buildings if they are available. So, we were expected to teach a Self-Reliance class over at the Park Ridge building this afternoon to their youth.  As I checked email this Sunday morning, we were greeted by the news that the Park Ridge building was unusable.  Apparently, all the celebrations put an overload on the sewer system and,,,,, Well, it's unsavory to tell, but no one will be allowed in the building until things are fixed.  Thus, we had 3 wards from that building split between the other wards in the stake, and we had a wonderful group of displaced saints to our meetings.                                                                                       
Young Kookaburra Gobbling  Meat Morsel on our Patio Table
Blunder #2:  Thursday night we teach the BYU-Idaho Pathway course to 15 amazing students who are, as we told in the last blog, beginning college on line, or reentering college after a  hiatus for any reason.  About halfway into our class, Sister Yates was teaching an Institute Class, and in this remote chapel up North of Brisbane about an hour, BOOM!  The lights were totally out!  Students looked
outside and agreed that the lights were out all over Burpengary, the town.  I asked if this happened often.  Answer:yes!  Again I asked, And how long do the lights usually stay out?  Answer:  It varies, but usually a few hours. One student checked his phone and said the lights were going to be on by about 10:30 PM.  We agreed to continue by the light of our cell phones or laptop screens.  Needless to say, my power point was defunct, and we were blessed to get through the darkness and finish our Institute and academic coursework.  Our lead student was well into her Academic portion of the instruction when the lights flashed on.  Wahoo!  Being flexible is surely a great skill to develop, and the students were chipper, and the evening productive!  We are buying FLASHLIGHTS our next Costco trip!

Just like this mama kangaroo who had a joey in her pouch on the church grounds is hopping  to it, we awake every morning thrilled by the challenge of a new day and new experiences.  We hop to whatever we're able to do! Hope the video works.  Last week we went out of our office and found 31 kangaroos feasting on the grounds around the church building!  That's a sight, and we love seeing them so often.  We know this is very centered on what we're doing, but we are very interested in the events and experiences of your lives as well.  Please contact us via email, WhatsApp, blog, Skype, or whatever suits you.  Get WhatsApp if you don't yet have it!  You can talk and text free anywhere in the world that has wi-fi.  Let's get talking, all you precious family and friends!

Love you all, and wish you a beautiful beginning to your Fall season!

Elder and Sister Yates, Dad/Mom, Grandpa & Grandma Yates, David/Marsha
Self-Reliance/Education Missionaries
0424 351 854