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