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)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pacific Area Review with Elder Cook

A Visit from Elder Quentin L. Cook, Bishop Keith B. McMullin, and Tad R. Callister

We have been preparing for a visit by General Authorities for an area review.  For several days during this month, Quentin L. Cook of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric, Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the First Quorum of Seventy, traveled to various places within the Pacific Area.  One of their stops was to Christchurch to view the earthquake damage and to offer encouragement and give a blessing to the Saints in that area.  We flew down to assist with all the arrangements, host at a special fireside and a 'meet and greet' for the Brethren to visit with local dignitaries who were invited to join us. 

The fireside was especially touching and inspiring, with words of comfort and hope for the future.  We were told that natural disasters and calamities of all types will continue during the last days, but those who are faithful will find peace and joy. 
Bishop McMullin gave an especially stirring message and told our VIP visitors the best way to know what we are all about is to read the New Testament and learn what Jesus did and what he told his disciples to do.  He said that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strive to do these same things.

In attendance were 6 members of parliament, 1 former member of parliament, the area representative from Archives New Zealand, and about 4 interfaith representatives.  This was a record I’m sure, and certainly something for Melanie, (our local Director of Public Affairs), to be proud of, because she has been the one to bring the Church out of obscurity in Christchurch and form friendships and relationships with community leaders.

As the concluding speaker, Elder Cook said being in Christchurch brought back memories of when he was serving in San Francisco during a large earthquake that destroyed buildings, collapsed freeways and killed many people.  He assured the Saints that the future for Christchurch is bright.  He gave an apostolic blessing to the Saints and assured them they were being remembered and prayed for.  As a little exclamation point adding emphasis to the evening, there was a 4.1 earthquake during the meeting.!

  Below are some of my photos of that night:
Jeff introducing Elder Cook to Nicky Wagner, Member of Parliament

 Bishop & Sister McMullin visiting at a 'Meet & Greet' prior to the Fireside

 Our DPA Melanie visiting with Elder Cook

 Bishop and Sister McMullin visiting with Bishop Riwai-Couch 

Elder & Sister Callister in reception line

 Visiting Church Authorities with Local Dignitaries

After the fireside the Brethren were gracious and spent much time meeting the Saints and offering encouragement.  Here are some more photos with members:


The next morning the Brethren toured the Avonside chapel which was severely damaged by the last major earthquake.  This chapel is beyond repair and because of the location will not be rebuilt.

 Stake President and Sister Ormsby with Elder & Sister Cook

Standing in dried silt/sludge.  During the earthquakes the earth mixes with underground water and under pressure, forces its way to the surface of the earth.  This is called liquifaction and has been a major aftereffect of the earthquakes, since Christchurch is built on an underground delta.  We are told that since the first major earthquake in the fall of 2010, there have been about 10,000 additional quakes.


 Elder Cook was gracious to pose with us

Later that afternoon there was a meeting with the Earthquake Recovery committee and then with Mayor Bob Parker of Christchurch.

 Jeff with the Mayor and Mayoress of Christchurch

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