Dear Family & Friends: We are having so many new and exciting adventures to tell you about. We get up around 5:45am and go as fast as we can until bedtime, learning our new responsibilities and having a peek at this BEAUTIFUL country. We hope in this blog we can express how blessed we are to testify of Jesus Christ and serve Him in this amazing corner of the world! HAERE MAI* to our blog, we're glad you are visiting us!.....(*This means 'WELCOME' in the Maori language)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Books for Fiji


Books for Fiji has been in the planning stages for over a year.  Finally, after all plans, approvals and preparations were completed, donated books were collected throughout the lower part of the north island by numerous groups, organizations and individuals over the past two months.  And then last week, all books were brought to the Wellington Stake Center to be sorted, labeled, and packed into boxes, then loaded onto a truck, for the first leg in the journey to Fiji.  We ended up with around 47,000 books.  Quite an accomplishment, and all organized by our amazing Public Affairs Director in Wellington, Eileen.  In Fiji, the books will go to remote villages where the schools have very limited educational materials and reading books.  We spent the week in Wellington helping with this project and, of course, I took a ton of photos.  Because this humanitarian project will be part of the World Report that will be shown between conference sessions next April, we also had a videographer come to take footage of the event.  We will be traveling to Fiji in several weeks to help film when the books arrive in Fiji.  Here are some of my favorite photos from this past week: 

 Dignitaries who supported the project.  Paul Eagle, Wellington City Council, Mere Tora, Fijian Acting High Commissioner in NZ, Eileen, our DPA, Annette King, MP, Pres. Harvey of the Wellington Stake, Peter Dunn, MP

Our DPA Eileen and her husband Kurt

A Mormon Helping Hands label was put in every book

Three Generations Believe in Serving Others

Three Generations Believe in Serving Others

Kiana Butters, Alani Butters, Mika Butters, Ikuko Muir

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Ikuko Muir, her daughter Mika Butters, and her granddaughters Kiana and Alani, were volunteers at a recent 'Books for Fiji' project, where thousands of donated books were sorted, labeled, packed and will soon be shipped to Fiji.

Children's books have been donated and collected for the past several months by many people and organizations in Wellington, New Zealand and surrounding communities, in partnership with 'Mormon Helping Hands.' The books will now be sent to isolated areas in Fiji where reading resources are few and many children have no books at all.

Kiana, age 10, said, "You just assume that everyone has books to read. It makes me feel bad that some kids don't. That's why I wanted to donate some books and help out." Kiana's mum Mika, commented, "Often my kids don't fully understand why we are going to a service project. By the end, they know they made a difference and you can tell they are proud they were able to help. They seem to learn so much more when they get opportunities to help others."
Helping out is a way of putting beliefs into action and making a difference, for this grandmother, her daughter and granddaughters. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are following Jesus Christ by being good neighbours and serving others.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Phil Goff

 Leader Encourages Youth to Care for Others
The Hon Phil Goff visits with young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Auckland last night

AUCKLAND , New Zealand — Senior New Zealand political leader the Hon Phil Goff last night drew upon lessons he learned as a child to encourage young Auckland members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help others in their communities.
Mr Goff, who is the Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand's Parliament, shared with several hundred young people at the Latter-day Saints' Robertson Road Chapel in southern Auckland some of the principles he has learned from the teachings of Jesus Christ. One of these was that a just society was one where people cared for each other and "where we treat others as we want to be treated."
Referring to the parable of the good Samaritan Mr Goff stated that this taught him that in our communities "no one should be left behind." These teachings, along with the examples of his grandfather, mother and other family members, led him to a life of public service. He said that his aim is to "make a difference in his family, his community and his country."
Mr Goff spoke to the young people present about the need to care for each other. He reminisced about a time in his life when, as a young child with a very ill mother, his neighbours took in the young Goff children and cared for them until his mother recovered.
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, of the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also spoke to the young Latter-day Saints. He thanked Mr Goff and the other community leaders who were present for the sacrifice and service they rendered to the nation. Elder Pearson invited the young people present to follow their example by standing for something. "Stand up. Stand out. And, be heard," was his invitation.
Elder Pearson reminded the young people that they were children of their Heavenly Father. "You are sons and daughters of God and that makes you important," he said. "That gives you a purpose and a dream for your life."
He also encouraged them to have the courage to hold to their convictions. "I hope you'll be courageous," he said. "There are rights and there are wrongs. There are absolute truths. There is truth taught by the source of all truth and light — the Lord, Jesus Christ."
Elder F. Michael Watson, also of the Pacific Area Presidency, quoted the Apostle Paul as he urged all in attendance to prepare well, trust in the Lord and serve Him by keeping the commandments of God, and by serving our families, friends and others.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," he said. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:11-13).
Prior to the meeting, Mr Goff joined Elder Pearson, Elder Watson and Elder Michael Roberts and their wives in a reception with a small group of young Latter-day Saints from across Auckland. Several Members of Parliament and local leaders accompanied Mr Goff. Elder Pearson presented Mr. Goff with a special canvas print of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, explaining that it outlined the Church's core beliefs regarding families.
19-year-old Kelly Paki, a full scholarship recipient at Auckland University of Technology, was excited to meet Mr Goff. "This is a great opportunity for me to meet a leader and to get his point of view about where New Zealand is going in the future," she said.
Another young adult present last night, Eveonne Tiakia, spoke during the meeting. Speaking of the benefits that come from following the guidance of the Holy Ghost, she said: "As we use this gift in our everyday lives, in our schooling, in choosing a companion, we can be happy. As we use this gift we can understand our purpose in this life."
Athletes Play, and Pray Together

Members of the Church in New Caledonia

New Caledonia - The 14th Pacific Games held in New Caledonia have recently concluded. Two memorable weeks were highlighted by many outstanding performances by both teams and individual athletes from the 22 Pacific Island nations and territories taking part in the Games.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were among the 2700 athletes representing their countries, including New Caledonia, Samoa, American Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, and others. While fiercely loyal to team and country during the Games, these young athletes put competition aside and were of one heart and one spirit as they came together for Sunday worship and a friendship dinner after church services, gathering together different New Caledonian branches.
"As members of the Church, these outstanding athletes share common values of respect for all people regardless of nationality, religion or circumstances. They also believe in giving back to their countries and communities by following the example of Jesus Christ and serving others," remarked Elder Taniela Wakolo, Church Leader in the Pacific Area.
Later that afternoon, members of the Fijian men's and women's basketball teams put this belief into action as they visited sick children at a local hospital. They offered words of hope and encouragement along with some small gifts, and were rewarded with big smiles from their young admirers.