Tonight we gathered with many of the Senior Missionaries from Takapuna to enjoy an evening of good food and friendship for a pot luck supper over at the Graham's apartment. It was a wonderful evening.
|Elder Morris and Sister Winnie Graham|
The meal at their place had a Mexican theme, so there were several different batches of enchiladas, there were tacos and Winnie had made a huge crock pot of Cafe Rio and Rice which was absolutely delicious. There were many desserts as well. We have some great cooks in our midst, so there was no shortage of yummy foods.
But the real feast was the fellowship. Before and during the meal there was a lot of animated visiting going on.
|Elder and Sister Collins|
|Left to Right - Sister Crane, Sister Jackson, Sister Spencer and Sister Garth|
Then after, Winnie had us all sit in a circle and go around the room with each person taking just a couple minutes to share something about themselves or tell of a mission experience. That part was powerful.
First we heard from Elder & Sister Garth (from Australia) who had some very tender words to share. Sister Garth is needing knee replacement surgery so they will be headed back home to take care of that. They work in the Mission Office and are both amazing people. I got to know a little bit more about them both when I rode with Sister Garth to the special Sister's Conference that Sister Balli organized. I've had tremendous respect for them both ever since.
|Elder Pat and Sister Judy Garth from Victoria, Australia|
|Elder Scott and Sister Cheri Loveless from Provo, UT.|
He said he was happy to go anywhere the Lord wanted them to serve, but there was some disappointment when he learned he would not be using his German on this mission.
Then, when it came time for them to go, there was a delay of them getting their New Zealand visas. So they got permission to begin their mission in Hawaii, since that would get them part of the way here and they had family living in Hawaii they could stay with while they waited for the visas to arrive. This was a special blessing for them as they had a grandchild born there during the time they were staying there. It gave them some special bonding time with that baby and the opportunity to be of service to their family at that precious time rather than waiting for almost two years to meet the new one.
While in Hawaii they wore their badges and did what they could to be of service in that area. On one particular day they were at the visitor center at the Laie Temple when Elder Loveless overheard a conversation between the young missionaries who were trying to answer questions of a couple who had come through. The couple spoke some English, but it happened that their native language was German. They were struggling both to express themselves in English and to understand the things they were being told by the young missionaries who were serving at the visitor center. So Scott Loveless stepped in and was able to relay the story of Joseph Smith's first vision, tell them about the Book of Mormon and answer the questions this couple had in their own language. The got quite excited when they had someone to talk to that they could converse with freely and were very appreciative of his time with them. As they left, they filled out a card saying they would like to have missionaries contact them in their home area to teach them more. Their home happened to be in Frankfurt Germany. Scott knew then that the Lord put him in exactly the right place at the right time to use the abilities he hand to touch a life for good.
There were many other experiences shared by members of the group - here are just a few I want to be sure I remember:
Elder Maughan spoke about the man in Tonga night fishing to help feed his neighbors. Also his wife, Anne, told a very touching experience of finding an answer to a personal concern through the scripture "Oh that I were an angel..." from Alma 29:1.
|Elder David and Sister Anne Maughn from Richland, WA|
When Larry's turn came he shared the scripture that we chose for our mission plaque: 2 Nephi 29:7 which says: "Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea..." He talked about the special love we have felt for the island people we have met and how we have seen the Lord's hand so many times throughout our mission.