Friday, May 26, 2017

Bringing to Light Bedraggled Brisbane, Baptisms, Big Birds & Birthdays!

Hello to our Wonderful Family and Friends Scattered Abroad!

Hibiscus reveling in our cool fall weather!
The extended lapses between blogs is not intentional but because we are so blessed with exciting missionary opportunities each day that keep us hopping and purposefully engaged in our calling. How we love, Love, LOVE our mission and serving the fine people of Brisbane and beyond! We hope your transition in the States from winter to full-blown spring has been delightful though we read and have heard from some of you that it's been a muddy, wet spring with snowfalls lasting even past Mother's Day. Maybe your spring cool weather plantings will mingle right in with the tomatoes and budding fruits! 

Our walks become a hurdling effort to get over  downed trees blocking our path!
Debri up 28' up in trees showing depth of flood waters.
Last month Cyclone Debbie wreaked devastation with her initial strike up north but heaped destruction and intense flooding upon us here in the greater Brisbane area several days afterwards.  If you recall from our last blog, the cyclone was downgraded and moved slowly down the coast where it collided here in Brisbane with another monster storm front moving north from Sydney.  The result:  intense flooding of all the rivers, some areas experiencing flood levels of 30 feet and beyond!    

The Logan River near our home flooded badly and left massive evidence everywhere. The clean-up goes on as people who were under several feet of water try to reclaim their lives. Now we know why typical Queensland houses are built on stilts---literally!  The floodwaters can then just rush on by going right under their homes!  

Our missionary work continues to involve us in many Brisbane wards and stakes.  We support our own Logan ward in as many capacities as we can while tending to our Self-Reliance main calling. Brother Maurer, the regional Self-Reliance manager over nearly all of Australia, is our true "boss" and we meet often to plan and prepare for our many responsibilities.Our loyalty to our mission president, President McSwain, is full and engages us in interesting work with the mission. We support the full time "younger" missionaries in their areas and needs---from inspecting their flats, feeding them and other office and senior missionaries, to helping them set goals and make a plan for "life after the mission when their mission is drawing to a close. We love to meet and hear about their investigators and further the work in the mission. This month we've been blessed to attend many sweet baptisms in various wards and stakes. Many of the converts we've worked with for months, and some are newer acquaintances. Each brings a joy to our hearts to watch them take this most important step on their journey back to their Heavenly home.  
Ana Loma's baptism evening with member hubby Sioni.
Children in white in other picture are Emma,9, and Eli, 12, from
a part member family. Dad has yet to join.  Below is Yvonne Collins,
62, who is only member in family.  Sisters Day and Sutuwan taught this
talented and happy woman, who is so excited to become a Latter-Day Saint!
 Today we witnessed a beautiful ebony man, Denis Gahutu, from the Congo be baptized,  He has taken great care to study the gospel and gain a deep testimony before committing to be baptized.  What a fervent testimony he bore at his baptism. Another baptism we attended today was of a fine young woman, Shaleeze Dawes, who is a single mother of two.  She has made many strides forward in the past few months and feels strongly her decision is so correct. These are more of the joys we experience nearly weekly!  Sweet is the peace the gospel brings!

Who among you can guess Australia's largest land animal?  No, not a kangaroo.  Not a koala.  Nah, not a dingo, their wild dogs.  It's a bird!  With no tigers, moose, or elephants to grace this continent, their largest land animal is the cassowary bird.  No messing around, you'd best take a 4-letter clue from its name---"wary!  One should be very careful and wary not to encounter one, for they are mean and very aggressive for apparently NO REASON!  With only about 1500 cassowary birds left in existence, they are endangered so your chances of meeting one in the wild are scarce.  We saw one in the koala sanctuary, and it's bigger than the emu or ostrich!  The males are thoughtful enough to hatch the eggs, and life expectancy is about 60 years.  The word comes from the New Guinea Papuan word 'kassa" meaning long-legged and 'wieri' meaning horned head. They attack with their heads or feet, can't fly but run like the wind.  Yep, they're closely related to the emus.  If you saw the movie "UP" that's a cassowary bird that causes such a ruckus!  Emus, on the other hand are docile and approachable. How about a pet Python? We met a lovely one on our bush walk lately!   

Emu, AU's 2nd largest land animal Do birds qualify as land animals?  Yes, when they can't fly like emus and cassowaries.
Beware the Cassowary Bird, my friends, and shun its horned head and clawed toes.  If attacked, climb the nearest tree! 

On our morning bush hike, this Eastern Coastal Carpet Python (OVER 6 FT LONG!) was sunning himself on the trail.  

Now here's a face everyone can love!  These baby koalas have the ability to capture  hearts of  young and old.  Notice its two opposable thumbs and three fingers for grasping branches.   I'd be so pleased if I could import just one pet koala and one pet kookaburra.  See below the latest kooka baby about 3 months old now. She hasn't yet learned to eat from my hand.  But the cutie will eat the meat morsels I leave on the fence and now lets me get within 2 feet of her!  Such fun wildlife! 

"Aussie Hot" Brisbane River Trip on City Cat  for Sr. Y's B-day!

Elder and Sister Yates are now both a year older and wiser, and clever celebrations made our days cheery and bright. At our age, birthdays are just 'another day' which pass quickly enough.  David turned a big 70 this year, so we had to have a bit of a razz for his 7th decade of life!  Easter Sunday was the day, so we were busy with Church, teaching assignments, and lots of music that Marsha was involved in for the program.  In addition, we both were the main speakers for our Easter service.  Our sweet friends and fellow Self-Reliance Missionaries invited us over for Easter/Birthday dinner later that evening.  Sister Yates'  birthday fell on another work day but was preceded by a holiday.  So our Self-Reliance crew decided to take advantage of the holiday to take a ride down the Brisbane River and see the sights before heading to Sister Dianne Mead's place for supper and games.  We are blessed with kind friend and loving people around us.  We so enjoyed and appreciate  the well-wishes from family and friends  and even got real snail mail to grace our mailboxes.  My fridge front is looking rather homey with more pictures of and drawn by grandkids.  Thank you all for your thoughtfulness in taking time to fill us in on your lives and things of importance to you.  We may me out of sight, but you are never out of our minds!  

You'll see a shot from our excursion down the Brisbane River .  Truly, this is a beautiful city and its surroundings are green and lush.  When you look at us on google maps you'd think there was nothing much outside of downtown Brisbane because everything is so heavily forested.  We took a speedy water taxi called the City Cat, and enjoyed getting off at various places for lunch  and  little hikes in the rain forest.  

Who spoiled Grandpa?  Not Grandma!  

People come and go in our lives, and it's certainly 
true in the mission field.  18 months is SHORT to 
do what we feel we need to accomplish.  We 
are blessed to meet wonderful senior and junior 
missionaries from all over the world.  Working 
with them is a pleasure, but parting is "such sweet
sorrow!"  We said goodbye to 12 elders and sisters
this month alone, and 16 more arrived, just waiting
to be known and loved!  We've worked with the 
Nichols, a fine couple from the Sunshine Coast
who are local Self-Reliance Missionaries.  At 
least they are still "local"--only a couple of hours'
drive.  Mary and Auston, this pic's for you!  Then Elder 
 Avock (right)is from Port Villa, Vanuatu and is returning home
to make a good life for himself and his nuclear and 
future family.  He's got higher education plans that
are going to be a boon to him.  He has been a dear.   So,
Heather and Glen, this pic's for you!  

And the above smiling adults made history by completing the FIRST "Personal Finances for Self-Reliance"  course in all of Queensland!  One fine member is not present, but completed the course. We met each Wed. evenings for 2 1/2 hours for 12 weeks to complete a comprehensive and enlightening NEW Self-Reliance Initiative which has been piloted with great success in the US and Canada.  We were asked to be the facilitators for this fine group and the class was so well-received that two more classes are already running in the same area!  About a dozen are going throughout Brisbane as we speak!  So, all you US main lander's---go  find out about one being offered in your area.  Truly, the  members of our group are singing the praises of this informative and inspiring class all over!  One even talked to her family in Canada, and they've begun a group there!   
Sister Yates' arms are always happiest when filled with little people.  She can't get enough of these darling babies born with a mop of thick black hair, and shiny brown eyes that melt her heart! Substituting in Primary is another good antidote for the "empty" Grandma arms syndrome! No fooling, of course we miss our beautiful grandchildren and our whole sweet family!  You'd think us cold-hearted if we said otherwise!   En route home from Church this Brisbane fall sunset lit up the sky with rays of light shooting heavenward! The clouds literally were haloed with brilliant light that dispelled the on-coming darkness.  Let's all be a a light to the world as we go about our daily lives in joy and gratitude for all the blessings we enjoy---including knowing and loving each of you!   Oh, we were so hoping the photo would be as stunning as when our eyes beheld it, but it will give you an idea of the tall eucalyptus trees which surround us and the blazing sunrises and sunsets that are bookends to nearly each day!    

Speaking of "ends," this is long enough for even the "hearty" blogger readers to choke on!  It is written with the hope that you'll feel a bit of the joy of our labors and learn of the culture and beauty of this special spot of paradise!  Take care of yourselves, and we''d love to hear from you soon!.  With much love from our hearts to yours,
                          Elder and Sister Yates, Dad/Mom, Grandpa/Grandma, David/Marsha 
      Oh, we love being missionaries now! Why don't you think about a mission, too?  Yes, YOU! 😊


1 comment:

  1. Love love love your blog! Just read it with Emma and Jesse, we are camping and everyone else is asleep. We love the animal pics but especially the koala and the kookaburra. So so cute!!!! Did the snake scare you? And how incredible the aftermath of they flooding! So glad y'all were ok!! Love also of course seeing your faces in the pics too, hope Grandpa got to eat all that chocolate!! Love you guys💞