Monday morning Sister Garry and I began working together as I prepare to pass the baton on to her. She and her husband had some good training in Salt Lake before they came to New Zealand, and she is a quick learner. Most of the week was spent working on a variety of things that will help her after I leave.
Scott Simpkins did some conservation training with us on Monday and Tuesday. I didn’t attend most of it because at this point it is more valuable to spend my time wrapping up loose ends instead of receiving training on procedures I will not use. One of our learnings from Scott’s visit is that in the future as the Church establishes other local records repositories, awareness of conservation issues as the project begins is important. There is much we are learning now that would have been very helpful to know as we initially began working with our collections. This being said, this entire project is new for the Church, so we’re all learning along the way.
Wednesday was an interesting day. The software we use to catalog records (EAD) crashed, so we couldn’t do any cataloging work. I used the time to clean up my computer files, which I needed to do anyway. In the afternoon Philip Hague came into the office to help me understand the contents of some files he donated on the library holdings at Church College. I really appreciated his help and also the fresh asparagus he shared with us from his garden.
Last Sunday evening when we had our dinner at Parkers, Rangi gave us T-shirts with the saying “Kia Ngawari,” which is a Maori phrase from Alma 7:3-4 in the Book of Mormon. It roughly translates into “Be humble, be gentle, be kind, be loving”—the Christ-like virtues. This was a favorite saying of Matthew Cowley, and I have seen in many places the picture of him holding a sign with this saying, including one in our office that I have included in the photos below.
Recently a new round-about was constructed on the road leading to the temple. Circling the roundabout are the words “Kia Ngawari, Be Kind, Be Gentle, Be Loving.” How appropriate for this phrase and its translation to be on this roundabout located by the temple.
A long-time friend let me know several weeks ago that the daughter of her good friend recently married a Kiwi and moved to New Zealand. I have been corresponding through e-mail with this young woman, Cate Malloy, but I was not sure I could get up to Auckland to visit her before I left my mission. However, when we realized that someone would need to drive Scott Simpkins to Auckland on Tuesday for his flight home, Gill and I volunteered for the task so we could meet Cate later for dinner. It worked out well. This is a huge adjustment for her—not only to marriage and leaving her family, but to a new country and new culture. I think she is adjusting remarkably well, and I hope our visit provided her with some validation and encouragement.
Thursday all of us in the office went to lunch at Donovans, a chocolate shop and café in Hamilton. The lunch was good, and I really enjoyed the chocolate brownie I had for dessert—not too sweet. Val had told us about this café, and I’m glad I got to go before I leave. Elder and Sister Micheli, the missionaries from Fort Bridger who I met in Napier, joined us as they were in town for their ward’s temple week. They told us about their annual auction back home, which was held earlier in the day. They, along with a brother and son, specialize in raising breeding bulls, and ranchers come from all over the west to bid on their prize bulls. They derive all of their yearly income from this one-day event, so it’s extremely important to them. I think Elder Micheli said this was the first auction he’s missed, and they were nervous to hear about the outcome. Fortunately it went very well, and I liked learning about their breeding operation. We have some mutual friends in common—people I served with in Germany. We hope to get together for a fishing outing when we are all back in the states.
Speaking of Fishing…
Kerry and Margaret Higgins promised me last fall that they would take me fishing one more time before I went home. Friday was the day. We went to Waikowau, same bay on the east coast with the mussel farms that we fished in the spring. They picked me up at 6:00 a.m. (funny how it is always easy to get up early for fishing), and we were on the water by a little before 9:00. It was cloudy on much of the drive to the ocean, but when we reached our destination the weather was beautiful—we couldn’t have had a nicer day. Like last time, Kerry’s brother Steve met us at the launching site. The fishing was steady, with one of us pulling up a fish on a regular basis. We fished for red snappers, and they have to be at least 30 centimeters long to keep them. We threw several small fish back in the ocean but also hooked a good number to take home.
I caught a couple of fish on this outing that I didn’t catch last time. Once, when I was reeling in my line, it felt quite heavy. As we pulled my line out of the water, I had hooked a good-sized red snapper and a starfish. We kept the snapper and threw the starfish back in the ocean. Later in the day I caught a gurnard, a small, pretty fish that looks like it has wings. We also threw this one back, after I had a chance to get a couple of pictures. I also saw a jellyfish in the water.
The seagulls reminded me of the “Mine, mine, mine” seagulls in the movie Finding Nemo. Steve and Kerry threw out unusable pieces of bait in the vicinity of some seagulls perched on a mussel buoy. They’d fly to the bait and see who could get it first. Then the one who got the treat flew back to the buoy and figured out how to eat it. They’d finally maneuver the piece of fish in their mouths and swallow, and we could see the bulge in their throats as their meal worked its way down to their stomachs. The birds were fun to watch.
We quit fishing around 2:00, having caught a nice mess of fish. On the way home we stopped for ice cream—a Higgins tradition, and I had a passionfruit cone. I really like this flavor and don’t know if I’ll find it in the states. Kerry and Margaret left me with three nice fish—they would have given me more, but I knew I couldn’t eat any more in the time I have left. They came into the house, where Kerry filleted the fish for me, which was so kind, especially since I don’t have a good knife here. Kerry and Margaret told me how to prepare it. I had a delicious meal that night and invited Randy and Margaret Olsen over for dinner on Saturday to help me eat the rest.
I’m so glad I got to go fishing one more time. I love being in nature, the good company, catching fish, and eating it.
Last week Sandra Beijerling told me about a wonderful nature preserve near their home and was hoping I could see it before I left. I mentioned that maybe I could see it on Sunday after our bring-a-plate lunch at church, but she said the weather report did not look promising. However, I picked up a text message from her right before I left for Raglan saying that the weather was beautiful and we could go for a walk after all. This is a new preserve, having been established in 2014. The land belonged to a farmer who donated it to the government on condition that it be established and maintained as a preserve. This means no hunting or dogs, and no changes to the existing environment. After church I followed the Beijerlings to their lovely home, changed into slacks and walking shoes, and headed out with the family to the preserve. It was worth seeing this lovely tract of land almost in their back yard. Jason, one of the boys, slid down an embankment to get some better pictures of the waterfalls in the little stream. The Beijerlings are great people who have been so kind to me, and I will miss them.
As I was getting in my car to drive to church Bishop Oli Cowley called out to me. He had tried to call me but didn’t get through, so he walked over to invite me to dinner tonight. He is the bishop of one of the Temple View wards who I’ve met a few times on my morning walks. I enjoyed a great meal with this lovely family and appreciate their kindness to someone they really didn’t know and to whom they had no obligation.
Church was sweet today and a little sad as I said good-bye to the friends I have made. The Pururi’s son Asa came home from his mission last Wednesday, so the meeting had a missionary focus. Kerry Higgens, out branch president, had asked me on Friday to share a short testimony along with Elder and Sister Hawkins, a senior couple who are also serving in Raglan. Elder Pururi was the concluding speaker, and I got a chance at the bring-a-plate lunch after the service to visit again with my son Mike’s friend Karamea Pururi. All in all it has been a wonderful Sabbath day.
This morning I read the talk on joy given by President Russell M. Nelson in last October’s general conference. I was struck by his statement, “…the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” He discussed even in trying circumstances, we can have inner joy if we focus on the Savior and strive to keep His commandments. I have certainly found this to be true in my own life, and believe along with President Nelson that trusting in the Lord and His promises to us do far more to ensure our joy and happiness than living in comfort and ease.
Mom, Grandma, Marilyn, Sister Foster
Sister Jocelyn Garry and Sister Marilyn Foster reviewing the cataloging process:
Rangi distributing t-shirts:
Elder and Sister Garry and me with our shirts:
Matthew Cowley holding Kia Ngawari sign:
Roundabout by the temple. The driveway to the temple goes off to the left:
Close-ups of the roundabout:
Sister Foster, Gill, Cate Malloy:
Sunrise on fishing morning:
Boat at the launch site with a clever name:
Boat at the launch site with a clever name cont:
Headed out to sea:
View from the anchor site:
First catch and keep red snapper:
Kerry and Margaret Higgins:
Nice snapper and starfish–we threw the starfish back in the ocean:
Seagull with a large snack, trying to figure out how to eat it:
Kerry filleting my fish for me:
Scenes from the preserve:
Beijerling family: Kevin, Daniel, Sandra, Jason:
Sister Foster and Sandra:
Cowley family: Rebecca, Oli, Atawhai, Aria, Manasseh, Grandma and Grandpa Cowley:
Aria took this picture: