|Nothing but DARK CLOUDS do we see lately! |
PS: Who can spot the hidden cockatoo?
|"Oh, Mom! This storm's too scary! I'm|
hiding my eyes until it's over!"
|A local 3-Ft. Submerged 'Road Closed" signs not far from our flat.|
|Cyclone Debbie hits 500 miles north of us in wild fury.|
This blog will be soaking wet and wild, because that's what our current weather situation is here in Brisbane. A huge Category 4+ cyclone made landfall up the east coast a few hundred miles, leaving much damage to the area and the properties of the 25.000 people that were evacuated where it hit the hardest. All was sunny here in Brisbane until the stalled storm did its lazy reversal and headed straight for us! For 3 days the warnings have been given: prepare for high winds, torrential rains, and much flooding. Debbie, the cyclone. had just about settled down when a huge massive storm kicked up south of us in Sydney. The two wicked fronts collided here today, and life in Brisbane came to an abrupt halt. Both exits from our neighborhood are flooded and the roads are closed! The high winds are downing branches and rain has been pelting us for days. Today it hit its apex, sending an expected 15 inches of rain in about 8 hours. There is nowhere for this much water to go! We are fine and safe, and feel blessed to still have power. Everyone is under "house watch" with the media and law enforcement telling everyone to go home and STAY HOME! Today's school closings were extended through tomorrow at least.
Today we were supposed to feed lunch to 50 missionary Zone Leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders for their quarterly training with President McSwain, etc. We confirmed with the Mission Pres.'s wife that yes, the meeting would go forward today. This AM when we heard news of the fronts colliding by about 1 PM, we called the Mission Office. "Yes, training is on!"So we finished our preparations and just as we were starting to load up the car with the menu of pulled pork sandwiches on FRESH bakery buns from our friend Jean's bakery, baked beans, cookies, fruit, coleslaw with all the trimmings the call came: "The Temple is closing, and the police want everyone out by noon!" (The meeting was in the Stake Center which shares the Temple Property.) So, lunch was cancelled! What does one do with four huge crock pots full of food, 72 buns, etc when one has a cozy little fridge to fit our cozy flat? Hmmm. We got creative and will feed missionaries Monday, and Tuesday, etc. at their Zone conferences until the food runs out! (Pictured with Sister Yates is Sister Kolia from Samoa who stayed with us a while when recouperating from foot surgery and was unable to tract. She had never tasted snow peas, sweet red peppers, nor tangelos, all of which we'd packed in our sack lunches on this very busy day a few weeks ago! But all three were winners, and I've never EVER heard such happy lip-smacking during a meal!)
We had some extra hours when in Townsville and were able to enjoy their beautiful beaches, wildlife, and history. While eating dinner at President Mayer's home, we heard an awful screeching outside. Asking what it was, Pres. told the story of hearing the same noise when he first came to Australia. He was a guest overnight at his future in-law's home, and heard the screaming. Thinking the neighbors were having a row, he decided to go back to sleep, but was awakened several times during the night with more screaming. In the morning he carefully asked if the neighbors were all right or did they have squabbles because he heard a lady screaming off and on throughout the night. Their hosts chuckled as they told him it was a bird whose proper name is a curlew, but has the rightfully-earned nickname of "Screaming Lady Bird." This bird was everywhere in Townsville, and we were at peace knowing that despite the noise, no one was suffering at all! Their beaches are beautiful and we walked miles on them! The rare black cockatoos were not rare here, as they were harvesting red berries and munching them delightedly. They are all black when still, but in flight put on a show of brilliant red beneath their wings and under their tails. A history lesson was had as we hiked up to a sharp peak along the ocean called "Kissing Point Fort." This point was of great strategic importance in both WWI and WWII and battles were fought in WW II over this point which protected much of the Australian Coastline from invasion.
|Elder Yates at Gunner Doors, Kissing Point Fort, Townsville|
|Rare Black Cockatoos harvesting red berries for their "fancy feathers"|
|We never get enough of Australia's exquisite coastlines!|
|Friends throughout History, Two Flags Wave Unitedly|
|10 minute old loggerhead hatchling|
|I am the King of Kangaroos--A big RED you don't want to cross!|
Considering the number of "nature" stories we tell, you might get the wrong impression of our mission. Yes, we work hard and love the many duties and opportunities we have on our mission! But we want to share a bit of the culture, beauty and natural wonders that make Queensland the gorgeous place it is to us, day after day! Back to some highlights of our labors this month. We completed teaching a Self-Reliance Course called My Foundation: Principles, Skills and Habits of Self-Reliance, to the Samoan Ward Young Women in our Logan Stake. They are an incredible group of faithful young women who love the Lord. There is such love and unity among them and we have felt their love during these lessons.The great story behind this is that when the YW President Sr. Kiso took over a few years ago, there were only 6-8 girls attending. In looking on her membership rosters, she found out there were over 40 on the rolls. She and her counselors, along with the girls began to reach out to these "lost" ones. It has been a miracle to see the growth in the past few years, and the joyful spirits they have. In the back row with the orange shirt, you'll notice Sister Yates, the only pale face in the group as Elder Yates was the photographer, 😄
Now it's Saturday, April 8th and we just had a while to finish this blog. A quick update as to Cyclone Debbie and the backlash heaped upon Brisbane Thursday, March 30 when this blog began. Most areas of Brisbane sustained more than 2 feet of torrential rain in 12 hours. Many topped at 3 feet. Bridges were washed out, major flooding, and hundreds of trees downed because of the winds. Whole sections of Brisbane were out of power for 2 days, but gratefully we were fine! Mother Nature put on a show we'll never forget, and the cleanups and rebuilds will go on for weeks.
Participants in our Goal Setting Class where we assist them in identifying goals and plans in many areas prior to their leaving the mission. Most Aus. Brisbane missionaries are from Asia and the Pacific. Many go home to poor job/educational opportunities but want to improve themselves. We assist as we can. Elder Apable on right is from the Philippines, and Elder Ho, left, from Germany.
Today, April 8th, we've been out on our mission exactly 8 months! What! Already? It's uncanny how fast the time is passing and how little we feel that we have accomplished. We remind ourselves that in many regards, we are the "seed planters" who sow the seeds of Self-Reliance in Wards, branches, stakes and districts, and pray and work to help them grow! These inspired initiatives are very new to most, even the Priesthood Leadership oftentimes. So we teach the doctrine and look for how we can support the Priesthood in their turning their keys to begin helping their members as they determine how to best accomplish that . What an opportunity to watch lives change as people get excited about becoming more self-reliant! They often then take a class that helps them get into a trade or university, get a better job, improve their English, manage their personal finances, or learn to support their children in school better! One by one, and group by group, we're seeing CHANGE, and we love being a small part of that growth here in Queensland!
We send our love to each of you, our faithful family and friends, and wish you a wonderful Easter this next week. We are so blessed because of our knowledge of the blessings that the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ can and does bring into the lives of every soul who has ever lived upon this Earth! He is Risen!
Always with love,
Elder and Sister Yates, Dad/Mom, Grandpa/Grandma, David/Marsha