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