Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sending Love to You---our dearest Valentines!

Home is where the heart is, and our hearts reach out to you this February holiday and every day!!  Our hearts have dual residency because we love you all so much and the great people here who make our mission come alive with opportunities each day.  

Finding our math solutions in the dark of  a moonless blackout!
January blew in and out like a whirling winter snowstorm, and we watch the months roll past us as if they were only a week!  That's the beauty of mission life, and we couldn't be happier.  Each day brings sweet and challenging engagements with people and situations which bring substance to the meaning of the word "SELF-RELIANCE!"  We are so humbled to be busy in the work of helping people to perceive how to better their lives.  Watching them take steps in that direction is so fulfilling, and we are witnessing many "starts" as new life adventures unfold.  From employment to higher education, or from helping kids succeed in school to handling family finances, we are blessed to be teaching and/or supporting the process in many dear souls' lives!   Wednesday we begin a "Personal Finances" class
Now Elder Lamositele,  our YSA SR student left for his Perth mission 
about 45 minutes away which will be taught weekly for two hours for 12 weeks.  In our second semester of BYU-Idaho Pathway we are deep into "Maths," as they call it.  How's your memory of how to find the surface area and the volume of a sphere?  Yes, we're a bit rusty and in the dark on some of these principles, so we do our math homework as well in order to tutor some of the students who are struggling. Once again we had the power go out during a 2 1/2 hour class, and we limped along with only our phones and computer screens to light our  'pathway' through the likes of variables and formulas.  It's common here to have outages as everyone who can afford it is cranking their "air-con" due to the very hot and humid days!  This week it's supposed to get to 104 F, but the 100 degrees  we had today was sweltering enough, thank you!
A few of  'our' Logan Stake Sister missionaries at conf.   

In late January, we had a beautiful  half-day worldwide mission conference broadcast from Salt Lake, then another half-day of training with the Brisbane FULL crowd of nearly 200 missionaries.  For the "junior" missionaries, SLC streamlined some of their reporting, gave more latitude to them on governing their schedules to suit their days, and showed great respect for their ability to "act for themselves." We are blessed with a great mission president and wife, the McSwains!  They have a true love and zest for the work and make everyone feel capable and positive!  We have a lot of sweet sister missionaries who are so earnest and full of love!  We even get to start inspecting missionary flats for another of our mission duties!  Hmm.  We passed our own  1/2 year inspection from the Kuraby Woods flat manager with flying colors.  Guess that qualifies us to evaluate elders' and sisters' flats.  The checklist for mission flats is very exact so I'd better find several pairs of "white gloves."                                                                                                                    
Newest addition to the Kooka gang--young baby.
Noisy Miner bird enjoying seeds on our bottle brush tree blossoms
Nature is constantly stunning us with beauty and its beasts, both large and small!  Meet our newest kookaburra baby who is trying to get brave enough to join his parents on our back fence.  Each kooka has its unique markings and characteristics.  This little fellow is still a whiny toddler, but laughs like only a kooka can----LOUDLY!!  Outside our back garden fence is bush land, as you recall.  We USA'ers would call it the woods.  Wallabies  are quite normal and we get regular visits from one pair, especially the mama wallaby.  This is her latest sweet little darling, and it's first time out of her pouch that we've actually seen itmove around---even bouncing on its spring-loaded back legs. Well, if you can call 50 yards away and a full zoom on the lens while mama  and baby are in the bush a true sighting!  Despite the brush and distance, you get the idea.  The mama wallaby is a very efficient mother; her young one stays in the pouch about 6 months, and nurses several months more.  Meanwhile, another embryo forms into a little pink hairless critter who makes the "Australian climb" into the mother's pouch when it is only the size of a jelly bean!  There it will suckle, and mama wallaby usually always has another little joey in the pouch simultaneously.  Amazing adaptations!  The spider is a 'tiny' garden spider on about 6-inch rock, but its back is a shiny tinfoil reflective metal armor of some sort!  Watch your step!

But the best beast of all surprised the daylights out of us and came three days in a row from the bush, under our fence into the back garden where it had clawed out two little spaces to enter and exit by. We were astounded to be hosting none other than a nearly 6 ft.Lace Monitor Lizard!  Day one he just kept along the back fence, and we watched him in awe with those powerful arms and menacing claws. Day two we caught sight of him on the patio, but he quickly scooted away when he saw Elder Yates inside the patio door staring at him.  I ran for the camera but we were too late!  Day 3 he came right up on our patio, and was flicking his tongue (how he smells) on our patio door.  He slowly moved under our patio table, but shot away when Elder Yates opened the door to get a decent picture of him.  Nope.  He was not about to stick around for a photo shoot! So, the picture is fuzzy, but notice the LENGTH of the tail back beyond his body in the iron grill of the screen door.  He is HUGE, and powerful, and a welcomed guest, if he wants to return.  The other picture is from the internet, so you can see what he would look like!  We feel so lucky to share this bush land with such fine creatures!    Go, Mr. Goanna (what the aboriginals call them, and they're a delicacy to eat! Fried lizard, anyone?
Indigenous Aussie playing his Digeridoo

Grandpa Yates digging in to his first and maybe last dragon fruit!
Head shot of the Lace Monitor Lizard type that investigated our patio/back garden.  Does he smell the kookaburras?
Bush fire burning out of control on the Freeway we were on
Ah! Just the smell of ripe mangoes is delicious!

Now to the Saturday AM Kuraby outdoor market where we buy our fruits and veggies fresh from the farms inland.  This aboriginal man above was playing his 8 foot digeridoo--a wind instrument that is like a natural wooden trumpet.   In usage over 1,500 years, they have a beautiful tone, and the longer the pipe, the lower the sound. However "natural" the man looks, I doubt he will be eating monitor lizard for lunch!  We popped over to see a fruit that was called the "Dragon Fruit." Pink and green, it opened to our surprise with a clear melon-like center with suspended poppy seeds throughout. Better looks than taste, though.  We much prefer the "toad melon", known as piel de sapo--so tasty 'yous'! Overall, nothing beats MANGO SEASON, for sure! We wish it would last all year. 

It's been fun to catch you up on our mission experiences, and hope you find a bit of joy in reading our meandering account of fragments of our busy days.  We feel so blessed to know each of you, our wonderful family and friends, and wish you could each come for a week to experience a koala hug, or a snorkel in the ocean, neither of which we've yet experienced here. But we want you to know how often and deeply we think about you, your challenges, hopes, and dreams.  We send our LOVE to each of you at this special time and express the happiness we have in counting you as the dear ones in our lives.  BLESS YOUR HEARTS, EVERY ONE!!

               As ever,  Elder and Sister Yates
                              Dad/Mom; David/Marsha
                              Grandpa and Grandma Yates