Day 113 (Sept. 11th) Howling dog and a tiny band of faithful members in Queenstown

Saturday Date Night (Sept 9th)

I am learning to layer just enough to ensure that my coat can still zip up.  The truth is, once you acclimate to the cold, it’s not that bad and I love when my face is cold.  Is that weird?

We wanted to see the magical transformation of the city after a full day of snowing. Raindrops on small buds of trees looked like tiny sparkling lights and of course, there is no better tree flocker than God.  It just feels like Christmas all around us.  Annie has cautioned me to not listen to too much Christmas music so I don’t burn out.  I am doing my best…sort of!

We went to an Italian restaurant on the wharf we had been eyeing since we arrived.  As we are only eating one meal a day, we were really looking forward to it.  As fate would have it, it was our first bad experience as restaurants go.  Keep in mind, we have been very spoiled and lucky but who puts lentils and green peas in Minestrone soup?

I don’t think the dog liked his owners singing who we suspect is actually Steve Bannon and his dog!  He’s decided to help Trump by moving to New Zealand.  Don’t tell the Kiwis who all seem to hate Trump!

Welcome Welcome Sabbath Morning

We found our way around the other side of the bay to the ward building.   It was tucked in behind some homes and the only way we knew it was back there was a small tent sign with the name and a drawn on arrow.  The parking lot could maybe fit 15 cars…however they were only 4.  Tiny, tiny branch.

The Branch president and his wife are from Ogden Utah and the Queenstown branch is their full time mission.  When they arrived the branch had 3 active members of 100 and of course they are all Maori.  If you are prone to sneak in and out after Sacrament, this would not be one of those moments.  This was obviously a home turned into a chapel.  You walk into the kitchen/lobby and step down into the living room/chapel.  Three bedrooms make up the offices and rooms.

Our Sacrament ended 30 minutes early.  They said they have to adapt to the 3 hour meetings because of size.  We did, however end up staying for the full three hours.  It is amazing how much you can get out of a meeting when your group is small and everyone feels safe to participate.  Thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

In the first picture I am standing in the back of the chapel just so you can get some scale a to the size of the room.  The couple next to Dad were the speakers.  The husband (in jean jacket) is just getting active and she was baptised a year ago.  They will go to the temple in one month to be sealed.  The woman standing next to her is her mother-in-law (mom to jean jacket!)  The woman in the gray jacket and husband kneeling in front of her are converts as of 14 months ago.  They just got sealed. He taught the Sunday School lesson and struggled with his emotions.  The gospel has changed their lives.  Though they are young in the church, they get what is most important and their incredible faith reminded me of how much work I have match theirs.  The sister standing next to me is the primary teacher and teaches the only children in the branch…which are hers! Her name is Fine…pronounced Fini.  She is the perfect example of exceptional faith and dedication.  If it weren’t for Sacrament, she could just stay at home and teach them!  Her husband didn’t say anything in all the meetings but you could tell his gentle spirit matched hers.  The four missionaries are at the end.  The kneeling Elder was hispanic!

We spent some time talking to the missionary couple.  They have been married for 2 years.  He was widowed 5 years ago and his daughters finally made him get onto the LDS Singles site. They met, fell in love and together have 46 grandchildren.  Not sure what happened to her husband.  She didn’t offer and we didn’t ask.

Queenstown church heating

Their backup heater…obviously no fire in it.

We ended our sabbath day in our apartment nestled under blankets with the fire going and enjoying some time to read, talk and watch a movie.  It was a good day…

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