Sunday, July 30, 2017

Christmas Blooms in July? & Hellos and Goodbyes!

Hello from Australia to our dear family and friends,

 Sandy likes poinsettias low enough to see the blooms in this 60 x 30' patch!.
You might be sweltering as you hit the heat of summertime in the USA. We hear you have had some very high temps and a dry spell interrupted  by some stunning, dumping rainstorms. Be assured, we're not suffering in our "winter" here. We grab a few more layers for the evenings and mornings, but sunny and sky blue are the norm. Even the poinsettias are in full bloom---a bloom like we've never seen before!  Poinsettias are really TREES, as we San Diego girls remember from seeing our Grandmere Allen's 25 ft. tall poinsettia tree in her yard.  We drove out to the real "countryside", about 1 1/2 hours southwest of Brisbane to a beautiful valley called Korralbyn to train a new Ward Self-Reliance Specialist named Sandy Williams. Little did we dream we would be witnessing a mini self-sustaining piece of property of about 3 acres.  This lady is 72, dynamite and a recent widow who has taken charge of the property for the last several years when her late husband became ill.  She grows about everything possible and has a horticultural background so propagates most all of her plants. Fruit trees abound from banana and star fruit to papaya and passion fruit. Her vegetables are Texas size and her chickens do very well under her careful feeding and breeding routines.  She was getting ready to incubate a few more chicks to prepare for the next generation of roosters and hens.  A few of the "oldies" are ready for the stewing pot! Then came the surprise of her food storage---the size of a 2-car garage, she had this shed insulated, shelved and organized to a T. Bottling and preserving are her passion and, in summary, she did not need a lesson on physical preparedness!  How we enjoyed the day away from the city and in nature, with huge gray kangaroos lounging in the fields right alongside horses!! She was as excited to hear about the other aspects of Self-Reliance as we were to see her ingenuity and resourcefulness.  We felt blessed by her kindness, and she even fed us lunch.  Elder Yates was then able to give her some computer help to get her up and running again so she can resume her Family History work and begin her new role as ward self-reliance specialist!    

Star fruit and passion fruit! Yummy!
Gidget guards her domain with puppy teeth.

   Sandy with a rare iris cultivar she propagates.      This land's beauty just gob-smacks us daily!

Sisters Evans & Tahloobah enjoyed mission & goal setting!
Our Self-Reliance work continues to advance through the stakes in Brisbane and beyond. Working with the missionaries as they prepare to leave the mission field is a special treat for us. This last group to leave included 17 elders and sisters.We teach a class on goal setting and the Osbornes, the other SR couple in Brisbane do a class on getting them ready to reenter the workforce and/or school. So many of the sweet missionaries DON'T WANT TO GO HOME, for they don't have the opportunities to advance that they would like. Lucky are the ones who have goals and a plan that is doable from the get-go.  Many have to still improve their language to be able to be accepted into a site or program of their choice.  We love the spirit of the work and the hope it brings for them to set achievable goals and outline a plan to make it happen. In our mission alone we have missionaries from 34 countries!  When we gather at the mission HOME for their last day or two, we have a fun time seeing all their luggage piled up in the garage, having their last few classes, and then a lovely dinner---their "last supper" before their flights home. Then President McSwain gives them their exit interviews, directives about airport schedules, visa info, and all the particulars.  The evening ends with a marvelous testimony meeting which has such a spirit as to make each one feel of our Father in Heaven's love and appreciation for them as they've labored in the kingdom to bring many beautiful people the happiness of the gospel!  Each weekend we average about 8 baptisms throughout the mission.  The Mission has set a goal of 500 for the year...we're a bit shy, but gaining speed as we all fast, pray, and work to our potential!   
The "Kitchen Help": AP's, office Elders & Yates drew kitchen seating this meal for 50! We love to serve & bring dessert!
Squeezing as many as can fit in dining room w/ Pres. & Sr. McSwain. About 15 more are fed on beautiful deck...chilly!

Our backyard's blessed w/ "pets."  Mamma kangee naps FLAT while  baby kooka nibbles meat.:)

Wahoo!  Last Hour of the Last Pathway Class!  We're Successful "uni" students, and proud of it!
Since September 15th we've been teaching a BYU-Idaho Pathway class.  Actually, we teach the Institute portion, 2 lessons per week at our weekly gathering on Thursday evenings.  Then we launch into another 70 minutes of academic work led by a lead student.  We supply the moral support throughout the evening and the week. Our last class was July 20th, and our 8 students did very well in their English 106 class.  Last evening, July 29th, we had a big completion ceremony to celebrate their year of studies.  Believe us, they spearheaded the WHOLE THING, and it was a beautiful evening with a dinner for the grads, full program, testimonies, and celebration in song with information to inspire others to join Pathway.  Have you heard, Pathway is now under the Church's umbrella education program called BYU-Pathway Worldwide? The university portion is now called PathwayConnect.  It's an inspired change which takes the program to Salt Lake so BYU-Idaho isn't swamped with it!  It's growing so quickly and there are about 500 in the Pacific Area alone currently enrolled! We are so proud of our graduates and have built such a bond with each one.  Our cute Lisa quipped at the dinner last night, "When you guys go to the airport,  I'm going to be there like a little koala around your legs!  We're NOT letting you go!!"  Another, Tepepe, said we were like the Grandparents she never had!  They are in our hearts forever!!! We begin another cohort mid-Sept. and certainly have a testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost to teach us all things. What a journey!
Grads being "sashed" with their well-earned ribbon of victory.
A remarkable and spiritual woman, Cecelia Ngere draped in her Maori Tribal Robe poses with family. 
As we approach our year mark of the mission, we marvel at the many opportunities we've been blessed with.  We are busy and happily engaged in the work of building  the kingdom in whatever way we can.  Today, for example, is the 5th Sunday.  Our Bishop called us 1 hour before Sacrament meeting to say his program speaker for 3rd hour called him and was very sick and couldn't present. He asked if we would share with the adults and youth what has been happening in our ward in regard to Self-Reliance and in Self-Reliance as a whole!  Would we?  We've been praying for an opportunity!  Yesterday I also spoke at a Women's Relief Society Conference along with our Boss, Brother Carl Maurer.  Since it was a women's conference, he gave David a pass.  He was our fearless tech guy. Our hearts are thrilled when we can testify of the way the Lord desires to provide for all of His saints, both spiritually and temporally. We've been out long enough and participated enough in these inspired initiatives to see miracles happen all around us. It's a joy to be 100% engaged in this work!  Hey, anybody considering serving a mission---get on with it! Wherever you serve, it would be the delight of your life!  Besides, we'd love to have someone to replace us when we leave!  Senior missionaries are so needed everywhere, and there are marvelous assignments all over this Earth!
Yes, Sister Yates is tightly hugging a stately grey eucalyptus gum tree on a forest walk. You can't walk these beautiful forests without feeling of their majesty and LIFE-giving energy!  Elder Yates reminds her to always check the back of the tree before the hug!  Truly, you don't know what or who is lurking on the other side. Photo on right is the huge goanna (monitor lizard) who is about 6 feet long and frequents the woods right over our back fence.  She is stealthily hiding between two trees, hugging it tightly for several hours at a time awaiting an unsuspecting bird or lizard to present itself to her as DINNER! She's another forest delight who is now in winter hibernation. How do we know she's a she?  Well, her name says it all---Go Anna! 😄
 Along with hugging trees, we pass our hugs and love on to each of you at home.  Our hearts are always reaching out toward home and ALL of YOU, our dearest family and cherished friends.  We miss you and our association, but it will be all the sweeter in the end!  Bless each of you for your strength and dedication to all that's good and right in the world.  Carry on joyfully, for we're on the winning team!!

Sending all our love to you,
Elder and Sister Yates      Dad and Mom     Grandpa and Grandma     David and Marsha
Australia Brisbane Mission                       We also love Snail Mail: 14/30 Allingham St.
Self-Reliance/Education Missionaries                                               Kuraby, Queensland  4112
0424 351 854                                                                                     Australia