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)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dancing is Allowed...for Senior Missionaries!

 Here we are ready to go to a fancy dress ball put on by our stake.  Missionaries, however, rarely bring ball gowns on a mission (haha), so the best we could do was for me to wear a black suit and for Jeff to wear what he wears every day, (although I thought the kiwi tie was a nice touch).  I haven't taken many photos of us together so I thought I'd take a quick one before our guests, (fellow missionary couples), came to dinner prior to the dance.  
For those of you interested:  I set my camera on a tripod, (with a diffuser on my flash to soften the light),  and we stood in front of a plain gray wall.  I tweaked the white balance to make the color 'warmer' and then I added a textured background so it wasn't quite so boring.  A few other tweaks and in 2-3 minutes I was done.  I kinda like the color wash look.

We had a fun time socializing and eating together.  Here are Elders & Sisters Halverson, Nelson, Ronnenkamp & Bertasso.

Elder & Sister McKinley are in the back.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

4th of July Celebration

Hurray for the Red White and Blue!

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 4th of July.  All of our senior couples in the immediate area are from the 
United States of America 
except one.  We had a great social.  We started with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer on the food.  Then we ate a delicious all American meal of fried chicken, potato salad, red jello salad and home made apple pie and ice cream.  Afterwards we played an American trivia game.
As much as we all love New Zealand, it is not home.  Home is indeed where the heart is, and being away from home has made us all appreciate 'the land of the free and the home of the brave' even more.  God Bless America!
  Elder & Sister Halverson
Elder & Sister McKinley
Elder & Sister Bertasso
Elder & Sister Passehl
(our Australian missionaries)
 Elder & Sister Nelson
President & Sister Bleak
(MTC President)
Elder & Sister Coles

The Travelling Book of Mormon

The Travelling Book of Mormon
Anasazi Whaanga is a guest contributor who lives in Auckland, New Zealand.  In this blog post she shares her story about a copy of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ that has been handed from one person to the next over several years.  She explains how one copy of the book is touching the lives of an ever-growing number of people.  A 'ward' is a Latter-day Saint term for congregation.

 Anasazi & Sophi
(used with permission)

Four years ago, the young women in our ward spent an evening with two sister missionaries while they shared the gospel message with investigators.  At the end of the evening, I let them know this experience had inspired me to share The Book of Mormon with Sophia, a friend of mine from school.  One of the sisters gave me a copy of The Book of Mormon and encouraged me to give it to Sophia.
The following day I carried it around school in my bag, but was unsure as to whether I should give it to her or not.  At lunch I met up with Sophia and our school friends, and I had the impression that now was the time to share it with her. As I grabbed the book from my bag, I said, "Sophia, I really want you to have this."
She said "thank you," but I knew she simply thought it was just another book. 
At that time, however, the thought entered my mind to be patient, everything will be fine, and she will thank me one day.  At that moment I knew there would come a time when this book would become very important to her.

After leaving high school we went our separate ways and didn't keep in touch.  But then this year I received a text message from Sophia telling me she had been studying the gospel with the missionaries and she had made the decision to be baptised and join the Church.  I was overwhelmed with joy.

I witnessed Sophia's baptism in March of this year.  Afterwards, we talked about the effect this book has had on both our lives.  She thanked me for making the decision to share The Book of Mormon with her.  Later, she came to my home and shared her conversion story with my family.

She then told us that The Book of Mormon I gave her is travelling from one person to another.  She said her sister Gwendolyn read that same copy of The Book of Mormon a year earlier and was baptised.  Then the book was given to her cousin Lorraine who read it and was also baptised.  Currently, Lorraine's sister Crystal is reading 'our' Book of Mormon as part of her gospel study.

Sophia and I marvel at how this simple gesture of inviting a friend to read The Book of Mormon has led others to hear and accept the gospel message.  Sophia said that 'our' book is going far, and now we refer to it as the 'Travelling Book of Mormon.'

ITEP in the South Pacific

Elevating Education for South Pacific Youth

Auckland, New Zealand — 
The International Teacher Education Program (ITEP) was organized in 1997 to assist and encourage teachers working in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ school system to improve their teaching skills.  

The primary goal of the program is to elevate the quality of education provided to students in the South Pacific.
ITEP is unique as the faculty comprises retired educators, school administrators and university professors who volunteer as missionaries for an 18-23 month assignment.  

Currently, there are 10  ITEP couples living on site and working with teachers at 15 Church schools located in Kiribati, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.  Their primary responsibility is to help teachers improve their skills by teaching university courses and helping them qualify for advanced degrees and teaching certificates.

The couples are supervised by Elder Steve Ronnenkamp and Sister Janis Ronnenkamp, based in the Pacific Area Office in Auckland, New Zealand.  Elder Ronnenkamp, a retired school administrator from the USA, says, “The purpose of Church schools is to assist the youth to reach their earthly and eternal purposes and to help them progress spiritually, physically, emotionally, academically and socially.”  

He continues, “We are grateful for the outstanding work our ITEP missionaries are accomplishing, in improving the teaching and learning in the Church schools.”                                                  
Education is a key goal for Church members in the South Pacific and worldwide.  Elder James J. Hamula, Pacific Area President of the Church has said, “Our goal is that every youth [and] young adult in the Pacific Area finish high school and then pursue either vocational or tertiary schooling.”  
He goes on to say, “The rising generation in the South Pacific need to be educated.”

ITEP is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and operates under the direction of the Pacific Area Seminaries and Institutes of Education in partnership with the Dean of the College of Human Development at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. 

Area Public Affairs Conference

We have spent many hours organizing our annual Public Affairs Conference where we brought our National Directors together from every country for training and PA area updates.  We've arranged air transportation, accommodations, the program, the food, etc.  We've prepared run sheets, travel schedules, program outlines.  We've arranged activities, ground transportation,  purchased gifts, made name badges, and a thousands other things. 

 Our conference started in Takapuna at the Area Office.  Our first contact in SLC, Kim Woodbury, traveled to join us for our conference and we received great training from her as well as headquarter updates.
Here is our group from New Zealand which includes our Area 70, Elder Robers, and our multi-stake directors Melanie, Eileen, Michael, and Jared.
We then flew to Melbourne, Australia for the main part of our conference where we brought in the National Directors from all the Pacific countries.  Elder Hamula, our Pacific Area President, started with a keynote address to begin our conference.

Our National DPAs shared some of their successes and challenges.
I gave a presentation on how to take publishable photos.
Jeff was asked to bear his testimony.
After our meetings one day a few of us took a drive to the temple grounds.
Melbourne, Australia Temple
We then flew to Sydney to have training with the Sydney multi-stake PA Council.
That day we ate lunch up in the Sky Tower.  The restaurant makes a full revolution every hour.
Even though is was a very dull and cloudy day, I took a few snaps from the Sky Tower.
The Sydney harbor is beautiful.  The Sky Tower in on the left.
Here is one of many photos I took of the Sydney Opera House.
After all our conference responsibilities were over, we took a couple of days to rest and recuperate.  One day we took an all day tour.  Our first stop was a wild life park.
We also visited the Blue Mountains.  This rock formation is called The Three Sisters.
Sydney, Australia Temple

We had a successful conference and a great experience associating with so many dedicated and talented saints and seeing a bit of Australia.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Temple View and Envision New Zealand

News Story —  17 July 2012

Temple View Community Looks to the Future

Hamilton, New Zealand — 

“The feelings of many Temple View residents regarding possible development opportunities for the community are focussing on protecting the sanctity of the temple and its surrounds, and on blessing the lives of current and future generations,” according to Envision New Zealand team member Paul Coward.

Speaking after last Thursday’s [12 July 2012] community open day at the Matthew Cowley Building, he said that feedback he and fellow Envision New Zealand team members are receiving verbally and in writing is “very positive and extremely helpful.”
“Many are writing comments like, ‘Whatever happens, let’s get on with it,’” he says.  “There feels to be a growing level of trust and togetherness which is a solid foundation for us to build on.”

"We are working with the City and the local community to identify what are the best ways, over the longer term, to develop Church-owned land around the temple precinct in a manner that is economically, environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable.  Just as the Church did over 50 years ago on this very land, we are now looking at what is best for the next 50 years."

“Options we are exploring,” Paul Coward says, “would help us to preserve and display cultural heritage, stimulate economic development, develop opportunities for additional residential space, improve Church meetinghouse facilities, and enhance community resources. An educational component, and a recreational and camping facility on the Church-owned ‘Hamon’s Bush’ property are also being considered."

"We hope to be able to settle on the ‘sweet spot’ that is acceptable to many in the local community which meets the needs of other stake holders.”

"The people of this community love living here in the shadow of the temple, it is a very special place,” he says.

“Temple View residents have raised children and grandchildren here.  Looking back, there are some tender feelings and wonderful memories in the hearts of the people; and looking forward, they want to continue building families and faith in positive ways."  

Those who could not attend the open day but who have a question or suggestion can write to  Future newsletters will be published to keep residents up to date.  Additional open days are also a possibility, according to interest.