Sunday, January 21, 2018

Miracles Happen!

We have run the gammit of emotions during these last couple of weeks. We started off by having two Sisters bikes stolen from their shed behind their flat. It seems that thieves are watching our Missionaries and know right where they can obtain their bicycles. So far we haven’t seen the bicycles nor heard from that police any news concerning the bicycles. We have been blessed so far that more bicycles have not been stolen. We have quite a few bicycles out there and from what we have witnessed the Missionaries are not to careful about locking them up. Enough said about that because there are so many things to be thankful for.

We are thankful for butterflies that God has given us. With all their beauty they help the plants and food to grow. They fly around and catch our eye because they are so ornately adorned. That is not by chance. That is a Miracle.

 We are thankful for all of the variety of plant life we find here in New Zealand. That didn’t just appear in a Big Bang. That is a miracle from God!
These beautiful flowers and the elegant pine tree. They are miracles!

Who can look upon this scene and say that there is no God or that he doesn’t care about us. It is a marvellous Miracle that he has given us. We must acknowledge his hand in our lives because like our earthly fathers He loves us and wants us to have joy and happiness. 

God gives us so much variety like the Hunua Falls pictured here. These things are all amazing and miraculous. They give us joy and happiness. Even with all this beauty there is even more miracles.

He gave us minds and talents to be creative ourselves so that we could create beauty of our own like these items that take wood and shells and imagination and create something beautiful. 

Or we can create something fanciful and interesting like this little bike puzzle that draws interest. We liked it because we take care of the bikes for the mission. 

It is a miracle that so many of these Elders, without the instructions were able to put up and take down this canopy. Whoever created such a thing must have been a mechanical genius.

It is a miracle that we get to work with such wonderful people like Elder and Sister Clarke who quietly serve the Lord wherever they are called. They are from South Auckland by way of Samoa and were called to serve close to home. They finish their Mission this month so they will be leaving us. We found out the Sister Clarke has some Scottish ancestry and that both of us are distant cousins to her. We will miss them dearly.

It is a miracle that this awful boil on this Young Missionary has healed up so quickly after a Priesthood Blessing. That is a Miracle. 
We want to tell you of some other miracles we have witnessed. We had just give a Young Missionary a bike who had been in the Mission field for 4 days. As we were leaving we were stopped at an intersection and saw he and his companion in their suits riding to an appointment. His companion was in front of him by about 10 metres. As we watched a car pulled from behind a building right in front of him. There was no time for him to brake so he swerved around the front of the car and into the street and promptly crashed in the street. We were awestruck and quickly drove over to see if he were ok. By that time he was up and walking his bicycle along the sidewalk. We put his bike on the car and him in the car and began to examine him for injuries. Not a scratch was on his hands or anywhere on his body. His suit was not torn. He did have a little soreness but everything was ok. This came to our mind Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” That day the angels did bear him up for that was a miracle!
One more story to end this blog. There is a Missionary from Fiji who waiting for his Visa to go to his Mission field in Papua New Guinea. Before he left Fiji he got a nasty cut on his foot which subsequently healed up. On short notice he was told to pack his bags and report to the Mission Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand. He quickly packed and took a bus to the airport many miles from his home. When he arrived in at the Mission Training Center in Auckland he started to feel sick and finally asked to be taken to the Hospital. They found that he had infection through his blood stream and they started him on an antibiotic intervenious drip. Had he stayed in Fiji for a few more days without the proper care he needed he would have died. The Lord knew where he needed to be to get the care he needed. That was a Miracle! He will be going to New Guinea soon and is all healed up and bears a strong Testimony about his miracle.
The greates miracle we have is that of our family and friends. Our ten wonderful children and their spouses. Our 29 beautiful grandchildren and all that the Lord still has in store for us. We love you all and pray for Miracles in you lives. Love Elder and Sister Bartlett.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

6 Weeks is so short!

We seem to just get settled after the last transfer six weeks ago and a new one is upon us. In the mean time we still have our weekly District Meeting and the Senior Missionaries usually bring some fruit to our District Meeting so the Missionaries can have something healthy to eat. Here Sister Correla and Elder Jheng are have a Chubby Bunny contest. You stuff grapes in your mouth one at a time and say “Chubby Bunny” after each grape. Whoever gets the most grapes in their mouth and can still say “Chubby Bunny” wins.

We did have to say goodby to some of the Missionaries. This is Elder Pradana in the photo on the right who was going home to Malaysia this transfer. 
This is Elders Lam from Australia and Elder Ae’Sua from Samoa leaving this transfer. 

Sister Gorrela and Sister Palu are not going home they just saw us taking photos and decided they wanted a selfie with Elder Bartlett at District Meeting.

Elders Terekia, Stringer, Hopgood and Fakahua (l-r) couldn’t be outdone. They all love pictures with other Missionaries. All but one of them are gone from our Zone after transfers.
I always seem to get a selfie when I have a Missionary take a picture. This was no different with Elder Sully and Elder Hopgood in this photo.

We will miss Sister Graffe and Sister Huata both going home to Tahiti. Sister Graffe served in the Otahuhu Ward with us for several transfers.

Sister Tuihani also from Tahiti is going home this transfer. We will miss her also.
Some Missionaries came in from the Mission Training Center both in New Zealand and Provo. We are glad to see new Missionaries so full of excitement and wonder. They help to renew us when we have to say goodbye to the ones leaving. We will certainly get to know them because of our calling. I want you to know that these Missionaries are changing our life and we consider them part of our family. They are from countries all over the world and yet they come here and become lifelong friends. 

To finish up this blog I am including this picture of Elder Terekia from New Zealand who is sporting an Oakland Raiders shirt and hat. The Missionaries here along with others are interested in US Sports teams as well as rugby and soccer. We often have to go see Missionaries after 9:30 at night when they are getting ready for bed. I include this picture because  one of our sons is an Oakland Raiders fan. 
We are so happy to be here serving the Missionaries and The Lord. We know that this will be a blessing to our family and so we want to make this sacrifice for them and for us. We pray for all of you and hope that the Lord will bless you also. Until next blog. Love Elder and Sister Bartlett.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I ended up in my last post with our son Jacob and his wife Shayla arriving at the airport. This post will be about some of our adventures with them along with some of our Missionary activities. Our children have asked why we don’t post more about our Mission and less about this beautiful country. Our Mission is mainly about keeping Missionaries healthy and keeping their bicycles running properly and safe. Sister Bartlett sent our daughter pictures of ingrown toenails, broken wrists, warts, flea bites, sprained ankles, and other ailments. Our daughter finally said no more. I don’t think you want to see broken bicycles either. So here we go!

As you may know most of the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” was filmed here in New Zealand. Fortunately after filming the “The Hobbit” they left the set intact so that you can visit there. It is on a sheep farm out in the country of rolling hills and green pastures with about 30,000 sheep on the farm, none of which were featured in the film since they were the wrong species of sheep.

I don’t want to disappoint any of you readers out there but they really didn’t have actors who were so small they could play Hobbits for the films. We saw Hobbit houses which were larger like this one giving the illusion that we were small like a Hobbit. 

Some are smaller like this on to give the illusion we are very large like Gandalf. In case you were wondering there are only a few of the Hobbit houses you can actually enter.  It was about 2 metres in depth, just enough to stand inside with the door open. It was a great to see this site and remember what happened in the movie.

No tour of Hobbiton is complete without a stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a taste of Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic). We enjoyed our tour of Hobbiton and its beauty. It is still a

 working farm with this set on it. They actually moved a full grown oak tree to just above Bag End because it said there was one in the books. In the The Hobbit they had to make an artificial tree since they removed the original after The Lord of the Rings. If you are planning to visit the Shire you might want to watch the movies again, at least the parts with the Shire in them. 

After we visited Hobbiton we went to the Waitomo Glow worm caves. Unfortunately photography was not permitted in the caves so there were no pictures. It appeared to be a starry night when in the glow worm cave. One of the children reminded the guide that the glow worms were simple fly maggots (yuck). Very interesting how the fly lay their eggs on the ceiling of the dark cave and the hatch into these larvae that glow in the dark. There are sticky strings that hang down from the larvae that catch insects attracted to the glow, that the larvae feed on. 

This was a beautiful natural bridge we discovered on our adventure. We were looking for a particular waterfall and happened upon this natural bridge. It was beautiful but we took the loop trail and it was not so great after the bridge.

We did find the Marokopa Falls which is one of the most fantastic falls we have seen, both wide and tall.

We also discovered the beach by the same name, which was a black sand beach. We took this opportunity to take a picture with our Missionary

We also saw this small cave for a photo opportunity and collected some black sands. Guess what? We discovered the black sands are magnetic, for after we put our badges down and picked them up again, some of the black sands stuck to our badges.

The next adventure we had was going to the Hamilton Temple. We enjoyed the blessings of the Temple along with it’s beauty. Unfortunately the lights were not on yet so we didn’t see them when Jacob and Shayla were here. We also were able to visit some falls and beach the same day just west of Hamilton.
This was Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan New Zealand. Each waterfall we see is unique and we love seeing them. We also have a Bridal Veil falls in Provo canyon in Utah. Not quite the same.

We also found this group of cute baby ducks on our walk to the falls. There can be such beauty in nature that the Savior and our Heavenly Father created for us to have joy. I am so thankful that we have opportunities to enjoy it.

We were so hungry after a long days adventure we decided to get a pizza from Hell’s Pizza. Yes we went to Hell for a pizza. Ha Ha! It was very good pizza. We were very dissatisfied with our Hotel during our stay in Hamilton. There must have been something going on since the availability of hotels was limited and we ended up with one that was hot with no air conditioning. And the parking was back by the garbage bins and was very smelly. Don’t stay at the VR Hamilton.

Our next adventure was in Rotorua where we visited the Living Maori village of Whakarewarewa and enjoyed learning more about the Maori people.

They had a great show featuring traditional Maori song and dance and some of the school children attended and sang for us at the show. To top it off we had a “Hangi dinner” which was a stone stove build over the hot steam vents that are all over the town.
This is the dinner which was chicken, corn on the cob, taro, capsicum and a dessert. We enjoyed it very much.

We also saw some beautiful hot springs located in and around the city where people were living. Rotorua is also known for its hot water spas where you and go and enjoy the hot water. We however we frugal and went to Kerosene creek and enjoyed a hot water creek. Very fun and free.

The next day we ventured to the Coramandel peninsula and to Cathedral Cove. This is the site from the parking lot as we ventured down to the cove. It was about a 50 minute walk for us oldies and Jacob and Shayla went on ahead. It was an awe inspiring site when finally we walked down the last flight of steps.

We beheld these marvellous formations that the sea and wind had carved out of the rocks. This one so big you could drive a truck through. Yes that is Sister Bartlett in the tunnel.

Also other formations that seem to stand as sentinels for the tunnel. Another reminder that man is very small in this massive universe we live in and that God and Jesus created for us to enjoy.

We next ventured to none other that the Hot Water Beach. This is a phenomena where hot springs actually surface on the beach and with a shovel people dig holes which fill up with hot water so you can have your very own hot water spa.

We did have to do some of our responsibilities during while Jacob and Shayla were here. We went to the Airport early to make sure Sister Kapeli and Elder Fonda were safely off on their return home. Also pictured are Sister Graffe and Sister Motu’apuaka. We also had to make some presentations at three Zone Conferences.
In between those Zone Conferences we took the opportunity to visit Poor Knights Island and do some snorkeling and scuba diving. 

This is our dive group with our dive master. The first dive was in a cave and kind of dark but we did see some rays and some eels and other interesting things. The second dive was in the sunlight but you had to move the kelp around to see any of the life beneath. Sister Bartlett did snorkeling and said she could just see kelp. We had several rays and two huge schools of fish surround us.

The islands were vey beautiful but are uninhabited and no one is allowed on them except for some scientists. They used to be inhabited by a Maori tribe and because of something that happened are considered cursed.
After our Zone Conference in Whangarei we visited the Whangarei Falls and hiked to the bottom of the falls for some photo opportunities.

Jacob seems to be drinking from the falls. Fun!

What would Christmas be without a Ward Christmas party and our Ward was no exception. During the party the youth put on a floor show and danced the chacha. Heaps of fun for everyone but we were warn out from all the other activities and left early.
We saw this vintage car while shopping on Jacob and Shayla’s last day so we took the opportunity just like so many others to get a photo. Pretty cool!

We took this last minute drive up to Mount Victoria in Davenport because Sister Bartlett wanted Jacob and Shayla to see the colourful mushrooms, which are really the air vents for an abandoned underground military base. We saw this beautiful sunset over the City of Auckland.
All good things must come to an end so we had to say goodby to Jacob and Shayla. We had many wonderful adventures with them. We will miss them greatly.

The day after Jacob and Shayla left the Senior Couples in the Mission had the annual Christmas Family Home evening. Of course it was a Christmas Theme.

The couples in charge were very clever and knitted us all nose warmers. This is us modeling our nose warmers. We don’t have much use for them right now since it is very warm.

Yes, even the Senior Missionaries like to take selfies when you have them take pictures. This is Sister Stosich who took our picture.

Everyone received a nose warmer so we posed for this picture with them on. We have some great and goofy Senior Missionaries.

During our travels for to visit Missionaries for sickness or bikes we happened this District meeting so we took opportunity for a photo with the special moose and reindeer for the Sisters. 

We wanted to send this little Merry Christmas greeting to everyone. We are a little late for Christmas and New Year.

Guess what the three Sister Missionaries in our Ward spent their Christmas money on this year. That is right, new matching Polynesian dresses. Sister Tapu,   Sister Gorrela and Sister Romualdo. They wore these to our 

Zone activity that night at the Otara Town Center where we had food, music, and Santa even came. The two Stakes in our Zone sponsored the event and we even had Santa come and pass out candy to the little ones. Pictured are the three sisters from our Ward with Santa (Elder Bartlett) and our friend Pranav from India and two photo bombing Elders in the background. Elder ‘Ae su’a and Elder Fakahua. Our friend Pranav we met at Pak N Save and he is studying here in New Zealand for his Masters degree in Engineering. He has been coming to Church and other activities. He even sang in our Christmas Choir and came to our baptism on Christmas Day.

Unfortunately we had to say goodby to one of the Sisters in our Ward. Sister Romualdo went home for Christmas. She lives in the Phillipines. She will be missed.

Christmas Day finally arrived and we had a baptism in the morning. We decided we would do like many do here at Christmas 

and go to the beach. This beach was a little special because it is where the Ganett birds come from Australia to nest and have their babies. There are thousands of these birds nesting here and you can see the young ones from eggs to furry birds as big as the parents. It is a site to behold as the birds glide gracefully on the wind. The beach here is very popular also as we had a hard time finding a parking spot.

On our way home from the beach we decided to try to get a picture of Auckland’s Sky Tower lit up in red and green for the Christmas season.

Sister Graffe and Sister Hauata are from Tahiti and will be going home this next transfer so we treated them to an fresh strawberry ice cream from Strawberry farms. Delicious.

The Friday after Christmas we took our friends Pranav and Sam to see the Temple lights. And of course you can’t go to the Temple without stopping at Pokeno’s for some ice cream.

The Temple lights were beautiful and we enjoyed them very much but it made for a very late night. 

We miss our garden back home so we decided to plant a few plants on our back patio.

Yes that is a zuchini plant and we were able to harvest this unusual zuchini which was a Siamese twin.

After District Meeting the Senior couples in our Zone usually bring some fruit and snacks for the young Missionaries to share. Here Sister Gorrela and Elder Jheng are doing the chubby bunny challenge to see who can put the most grapes in their mouth and still say “chubby bunny”. 
We are sorry for the length of this post. We have been so busy and lots of things happened during the holidays we didn’t get a chance to do much on the post. We will try to keep up. We love you all. Elder and Sister Bartlett.