Day 129 (Sept. 27th) Our final day in New Zealand and our sabbatical lessons

Wednesday morning, Sept 27th had finally come to carry us back to America.  We packed our bags to the brim and left the rest of our New Zealand possessions in several boxes in the hall for the maids to parse out amongst themselves.  Our plan was to go to town for our last breakfast but we found ourselves having just enough time to get to the airport to return our trusty rental car and get checked in.  Our first leg of the journey was on Jetstar.  We were flying directly back to Auckland and then onto America on Air New Zealand.

Jetstar ticket counter headed for home

We arrived in Auckland with 7 hours before takeoff so Bob had arranged a meeting in Auckland with Colin Nairn’s sister Joan.  We got all our luggage checked in and grabbed a cab to Joan Nairn Bielby’s home.

Joan welcomed us to her home by giving us a tour of everything…even the linen closet. We were shown the two bathrooms and guest room as well.  She had invited Ross MacFarquhar, who is a family member on the other side of Joan’s family and also the man that Colin Nairn entrusted all the genealogy work he had done before he passed away.

Joan was quite an accomplished business woman.  She told us all about it.  She married but never had children.  In the end we were able to take pictures of what genealogy she had.  The connections are not clear with her.  Colin is her brother but he lists two mothers on two different pedigree charts with two sets of siblings.  We have reached out to the family to get clarification.  So once again, we dined with a family we aren’t sure is ours!

We grabbed a cab back to the airport and made our way to the airplane that would take us home…

This is the view of us leaving Auckland.

And this is our view when we landed safely in Phoenix!  When you travel across that much water it can be a bit unnerving.  I said an instant prayer as the wheels touched ground for our safe arrival home.

Coming home - landing in Phoenix

Our roadmap

We drove over 5,000 miles, walked 600 miles and road a bus and two ferry’s for a 500 miles.  

And now the battle with jet lag…uggg.

It feels just like this!

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We were landing just in time to head up to the ranch to see our kids and watch General Conference.  I was a little nervous as to how we were going to handle our jetlag because I thought we landed on a Thursday.  When I let everyone know that we had landed safely Kendra texted and said she thought we weren’t arriving until Thursday…I told it was Thursday and then checked my watch…WEDNESDAY!  Bob and I spent the whole next day regrouping and sleeping in intervals to adjust.  I am glad to say that after a week we are finally adjusted.

Friday came.  Kendra and Jessica were coming up with their kids so we jumped in their cars and headed for the ranch around 2:00.  We go 4 months without seeing the lodge all the time but this time my stomach was full of butterflies.  I was so excited to spend this time with our Arizona family and to see the lodge!

When we arrived I heard the squealing of my Worsley grandchildren coming from the kitchen.  It was a bit dark but when they finally located me it was the greeting of a life time.  Joy, Joy Joy all around.

October Conference 2017

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 9.03.08 PM.pngI was particularly excited to watch general conference because of our time away.  I wondered how it would feel and what would be said that would confirm all the things that I had learned in our time away.  I remember the last two days in New Zealand Bob and I talked about how we were feeling about going home.  Had we done enough, accomplished what we set out to do, were we fully committed to the life changes we had determined to make, would we be resolved or fall back into the chaos that we left?  It was hard to tell…until we got home.

Everything is new for me.  Our cars, our home and even the streets that we have driven for almost 37 years.  I felt light and lite, almost as though my resolve for a new way of living made everything new again.  It feels as though even Bob and I are starting with a new view of each other and our marriage is even new.  This time away with just each other helped strengthen our relationship by working through and letting go of our old scripts and starting a new dialogue…one that is safe and open.  Our new regard for each other, minus the old baggage, has transformed us.  I feel so much stronger as a woman and a daughter of God.  I am clear on who I am, why I am here and with whom I trust to guide me along my mission.  I just don’t care what the world thinks anymore.  I am on His errand and that is so liberating.  I feel divine purpose.  My view of Consolari is one of…I’ll do my best in a healthy way.  In the end, I will not sacrifice what is most important to me for a hope of something I cannot control the outcome of.  I am embracing essentialism and losing the chaos.  The books and study that went into this sabbatical helped me find my way back to myself.  The greatest insight was that we detect our mission, not invent it.  The authentic life based on guiding principles like love, courage, faith, commitment, hard work.  These will guide me.

The ability to get far enough away was key to our success.  We simply could not respond to issues back home.  Even the time difference acted as a filter for communication.  I have told several people that God either started or ended with New Zealand.  His hand in creating this beautiful place gave us both a lot of reasons to feel awe and regain our eternal perspective.  It was hard work to be sure.  There was both laughter and tears.  We both felt the benefit of detoxing and letting go.  We rewrote our old scripts in almost everyway.   My tendency to live in fear and smallness did not serve me, my mission or God.

Bob’s thoughts on the Sabbatical:

  1. Sabbaticals Rock!  Relax, detox, read good books about what’s important in one’s life, personality profile yourself again, detect your mission, meaning and purpose in life given your unique talents, decide which jungle you should be hacking trails in, which wall gets the ladder, then simplify to the essentials you will spend time on for the rest of your life.  Go somewhere very different and as far away as possible to shake your mind out of its comfort zone and think differently.  Clear your calendar and block as many distractions from home as possible.  Go home refreshed and ready to engage with what really matters and is consistent with who you are!
  2. Really enjoy meeting new people and making connections.  To tell you the truth our methodology was unorthodox…family tree connections which is the ultimate in connectivity and attending random branches of our church and socializing a bit.
  3. See the unique natural sites of the area.
  4. Hike, walk, bike, or just sit on the beach, a bench in the park or a rock on top of a mountain…breathe and be in the present with the totally unique canvas God has made for man!
  5. Specifically, we will do less, focus more, go big on the few things we chose to do, be true to our distinct gifts and go for maximum impact for the balance of our lives…planning on max of 20 years.
  6. Landing back home with family that missed us dramatically and capping the sabbatical with a Spiritual Feast from the LDS General Conference (12 hours of best wisdom in 10-15 minute “TED” talk chunks).
  7. Work product from Sabbatical was a gift to my father on his 90th birthday of 800 pages of research on Forsyth line in New Zealand that our family didn’t know existed.  The work product is the start of dialog with extended families in the USA and New Zealand.

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Day 128 (Sept. 26) God’s hand is in the details. Seeing ancestral land and meeting Bob’s Forsyth family.

God’s hands are in the details.

…even in the sawmill business. It was on our 2nd to the last day before we were to leave New Zealand.  We were traveling back to the south end of the island to visit with a relative we had found by the name of Irma Hughes.  We also had new information on the location of the Forsyth Sawmill and knew we would be passing it on our way to Irma’s home.  While passing through Balclutha Bob randomly turned into a hotel to use a phone book.  We were looking for the number of Bruce Wilson who knew the Forsyths and would know the location of the sawmill.  Jean Latte, the manager of  the Highway Lodge Motel pictured below, helped us find Bruce Wilson’s phone number.  We made the call right there and then but no answer, so she pulled out a map and showed us exactly where the sawmill was…”It is an old red building on the right side of the road in Glenomaru.” She is somewhere in her late 60’s and had lived in the area all her life and knew Bruce and the sawmill well.  We told her we were doing genealogy for our Forsyth line.  She smiled and asked if Bob was related to Winnie Forsyth?  Yes!  She said that upon occasion she would visit Winni’s store in Owaka as a little girl.  She will always remember how kind Winnie was and the small room filled to the brim with all kinds of trinkets and magazines and that the dark wood floors would creak as you walked on them.  She is also the family that ran the sawmill we had first pictured as we were driving to Owaka.  God’s hand!

This is a picture of the hotel we stopped at.  We literally parked in this very spot!

We send prayers to Jean who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.  It’s amazing how quickly you connect to people, even on the other side of the world.

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Introducing the Forsyth Sawmill.

So we were off with our miracle information!  Jean was right, the sawmill was red.

The sawmill was located on the Matuanui Farm.  In 1911 Alexander Forsyth owned this farm.  He was the son of John Sr. and his second wife Elsie .  After Mary Hunter, John Sr. first wife, passed away, he married Elsie Laughton, who was a widow and came to the marriage with six children.  She was only 34 when she married John Forsyth who was 67 at the time.  They had three children from their union.  The first child was Mary Ann, which would later be known as Aunt Annie.  She never married and worked for the Salvation Army and rented boats on the shores of False Island at Cannibal Bay.  Next was Alexander, who was a very accomplished and respect businessman and farmer.  He too never married. The last was Christina, which Colin Nairn claims is his mother.  We are still working to verify that.  Alexander eventually sold the farm to Bruce Wilson which is why Bruce knows the history of the sawmill, the farm and the family.  We now come full circle.

And what would a farm be without a…Yak?

Bob stands next to the sign welcoming you to the Matuanui Farm.  The video does not show the sawmill but it is just to the right of the farm.

Farm Matuanui - one of Johns sons sold this to Bruce Wilson

Now off to Owaka Museum where much of the Owaka Forsyth family history is archived.

The picture below is Winifred (Winnie) Forsyth born in 1900.  She was the first child of John Forsyth Jr (John Sr. last child) and wife Annie Anderson.  Next was William (Bill) Alexander, born in 1901, Annie Isabelle (she went by Isabelle) born in 1904, John Otto (went by Otto) 1906, Mary (Maisie) Hunter, born 1908.  Mary and Isabelle were the only two daughters to marry and have children.

Winnie was mentioned earlier by Jean, the hotel manager.  She was loved by everyone in the area.  She spent her whole life in Owaka.  She never married and made a living owning a store in the front of her home where she sold all kinds of treasures.  It was called the Emporium. The Owaka museum has dedicated a display case with items from her store after her passing.  She ran her store for 50 years.

She also opened her home for boarders and often stored these magazines under the mattress’s which, they claim, made for a very lumpy sleeping.

Museum in Owaka - Winnie Forsyth shelf in museum

While at the museum we learned that John Forsyth Sr. raised his family on a farm on False Island.  If you look closely you will see the red arrow that gives you the location of where False Island is in reference to the South Island.  The second picture shows the claw like appearance of False Island.  This is where John Forsyth Sr. farmed his land.  It was called False Island because ships at sea thought it was an island.

This is the home that John built for his family.  The picture is of Elsie, John Sr.s second wife and their daughter Annie.  Annie is the daughter that never married and worked for the Salvation Army.  She is also famous for renting out these four boats in the summer to locals and visitors alike.

This ship is important to the family story.  It is called the Surat and hit land after a drunk captain lost his way and rammed it into the shore next to False Island on Cannibal Bay. John Sr. took the wood from the ship and built this home.

We found this replica in the Owaka museum.

museum Surat model

Next and last stop would be the Hughes home in Tapanui.  As we drove into their lane we entered what I thought was a lovely country subdivision.  It was so beautiful.  Thanks to google we promptly found their home and Irma was waiting for us by the door.

We went into the kitchen, where once again, was laid out volumes of papers and pictures.  This was most exciting as we knew before going to see her that she was a real, confirmed relative.  Irma is an aunt of Blair Walker, who runs the vineyard.  She even had a picture of his little family.  This picture was taken when we dropped in to meet Blair at his Fenton Road Vineyard.

Blair Bonsell - Father is Brian Bonsell - Son of Mazzie Forsyth - dauther of John Jr and Annie Anderson

After Bob took photos of all the papers, John, Irma’s husband, wanted to take us on a tour of their 200 acre farm where they specialize in selling cut flowers of all varieties.  My favorites were the peonies, hydrangeas, tulips and daffodils.  He is not only a farmer but a rancher with a 100 head of cattle and 700 sheep.  When we got back, Irma had prepared a lovely dinner for us called “Tea”.  Not sure why because there was no tea involved.  While we finished up she prepared a big bowl of milk, grabbed some baby bottles and said it was my turn to feed the orphaned baby lambs…  I was delighted to oblige.

Irma and John Hughes in Tapanui Christi feeding baby lambs

The evening was coming on fast and we had a long journey home.  I was a little sad to leave Irma and John.  They were wonderful to visit with and truly felt like family.  As we got in the car Irma wished us well and told us that she hoped to see us again.  I knew that was probably never going to happen.  What an amazing thing family is.  Here we are having just met this couple and they felt so much like family.

Irma and John Hughes

Irma and John Hughes with Bob right before we left

We made our way home late that night to get ourselves packed for our long journey home.  Of all our adventures I am most grateful for finding family…


Day 126 (Sunday, Sept. 24th) Church and Finding family on the South Island

We began our day driving 2.5 hours to Invercargill for our last church service in New Zealand.  This was one of the first branches that had more caucasians than Maori.  The Bishop seemed a bit scattered and had a few adaptations to the service. There were two boys from Primary on each side of the podium standing as sentinels to remind us to be reverent.

The bishop seemed a bit scattered.  Picture a professor being late to his class with papers in disarray under his arm.  He stopped to ask our name and where we were from and then off to shake hands and exchange pleasantries on his way to the pulpit. I told Bob that there was no way he was going to remember our names, let alone where we were from.  The meeting began…”I’d like to welcome Brother and Sister Worsley from Arizona.”  Reminder: Always think the best of people:)!

I think this cute little Maori girl in the picture below knew I was taking this picture of her family…during church.  It is hard to sneak pictures in a meeting you are not suppose to be taking pictures in…

Invercargill Branch Maori familyInvercargill Branch reverent boyInvercargill ward building

We were excited to visit Invercargill after Roy Shearstone from KeriKeri told us the history of one of their most famous citizens.  The movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” was actually pretty good.  It is a good clean family activity!  It reminded me that it is the heart that carries us to the finish line…not the brain.  Definitely a feel good film.

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Herbert James “Burt” Munro (Bert in his youth; 25 March 1899 – 6 January 1978) was a New Zealand motorcycle racer, famous for setting an under-1,000 cc world record, at Bonneville, 26 August 1967.[2] This record still stands; Munro was 68 and was riding a 47-year-old machine when he set his last record.[3]

Working from his home in Invercargill, he worked for 20 years to highly modify the 1920 Indian motorcycle that he had bought that same year. Munro set his first New Zealand speed record in 1938 and later set seven more. He travelled to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats, attempting to set world speed records. During his ten visits to the salt flats, he set three speed records, one of which still stands.

His efforts, and success, are the basis of the motion picture The World’s Fastest Indian (2005), starring Anthony Hopkins

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Next stop…Bluff

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Bluff (MāoriMotupōhue),  It is the southernmost town in New Zealand  and, despite Slope Point and Stewart Island being further to the south, is colloquially used to refer to the southern extremity of the country (particularly in the phrase “from Cape Reinga to The Bluff”).

Invercargill was only a 10 minute drive to Bluff.

   Cape Reinga is on the left, Bluff is on the right.

Our pictures when we visited both.  Note Bob is always in is Sunday clothes because all these site seeing trips were after our 10:00 church service.

 Cape Reinga is on the left, Bluff is on the right.

I loved this first picture as it captures a flock of seagulls just taking off

…and of course a light house.

Bluff rock shore with light houseBluff light house Bob seaguls

Apparently dogs like to chase Seagull!

This is the disputed island mentioned in the Bluff details above.  If you look closely you can see the light house.

We take our leave of Bluff and begin our journey toward Owaka where we hope to find family in their local cemetery.  This was a stop we had not anticipated but it was well worth it.  The wind was so strong I felt as though it would lift me off the ground. You could hardly keep your balance.  I am particularly proud of the framed picture with the buffalo grass.  I’m not sure what the dynamics of taking a good picture are but this was one that worked and I keep imagining how proud Annie would be of me…

Beach Florence beach closer viewBeach picture with buffalo grassBeach CowBeach florence Hill Lookout signOwaka Museum SettlersBeach Florence lookout view with Bob taking picture

Another unintended detour.

We knew that Bob’s ancestors were in the logging business so when we came upon this logging site we had to stop.  Just maybe they worked there, touched the equipment, built the boiler.  At the very least, it was an historic marker for what they would have experienced, which was almost as cool…but not quite.

As it turns out, it was not the Forsyth Sawmill but we would like to imagine they visited this mill and worked with the owners since it was only about 10 miles away from the Forsyths sawmill.

We are finally on our way to find the Owaka Cemetery.  Every city in New Zealand has these bright yellow signs directing you to their cemetery and Owaka was no exception. You can see the cemetery just beyond the sign…

Cemetery Sign in all cities example

It was beautifully manicured.

We came to New Zealand to find this one single grave.

John and Mary Hunter Forsyth

Owaka - John and Mary Forsyth gravestone up close

In Loving Memory of John and Mary Forsyth, Late False Island

We also found this grave of what we assume was a stillborn child of the Ruffell family. We aren’t sure they are related to our Ruffell family that left New Zealand to go to Salt Lake City but we didn’t want to leave any stones “Un Photographed”.

These are gravestones with names that may be related.  The Barr grave may be connected to the Forsyth Barr family.  Katie Millar may be of some relation to the Millar that married the Forsyth that was killed in a railroad accident.  He is the one that has his own gravestone.  All of this is in my previous post from our Dunedin graveyard search many posts ago.

After our tour of the cemetery Bob determined it we needed a phone book to look up any possible Forsyth’s living in Owaka.  We did not want to leave anything to chance before we left.  So he pulled into a bar and asked the bartender if he had a phone book or knew of any living Forsyth’s still in the town.  A woman at the bar came over and said she knew Winnie Forsyth very well and that Winnie was most beloved in the town.  She knew her well as a child and then said her father, Alec Black would love to talk to us.  He had a lot of memories not only of Winnie but of Otto and Bill too.

Bob came back to the car and said…”I think we are going to have to stay overnight here!” Apparently the bar trip was a success.  Alec’s home was just around the corner. When we arrived, I think I was as excited to just go inside this very old home!  Oh the history of this little old house!  Owaka Alec and Margarets home

Alec was at the door to meet us.  He took us into the first room on the right.  It was an odd home.  It was made of a main hallway with every room coming off of it, each with their own door.  Even the living room had its own door.  I suppose it was to help keep each room warm in the winter.  I’m just pointing out this was not an “open floor plan”.

The rooms center was clear except for a very worn red carpet.  The clutter hung to the walls and cabinets in an oddly disorganized pattern.  Alec had no teeth and his clothes were worn.  Each elbow of his sweater had holes and his shoes had seen their better days and yet he was as good of host as you could have conjured up in a castle.  He certainly had lots of stories, some very revealing about Otto.  I’m pretty sure Otto was not happy with all the revelations coming out of Mr. Black’s mouth.  I didn’t mind.  It added color and laughter to our conversation and painted a real person who had a real life right there close to Owaka.  The daughter came over to make sure we connected and told us of Winnie and her great skill at marketing and selling her wares.  She said she would take a Barbie doll with a missing arm, tell a wonderful story of its history and sell it for a dime.

Owaka Alec Black, friend of WinniesOwaka Bob in chair talking to Alex Black, friend of WinniesOwaka - Alec Black - Bob talking on the phone with Bruce Wilson, 79b years old and lives next to sawmill and knew John Jr and children Otto, Winnie, William, Mazzie, Isabel

Owaka - Alec Black notes with Bruce Wilson 1Owaka - Alec Black notes with phone call with Bruce

Bob is full of questions and when Alec could not answer some of them he put Bob on the phone with Bruce Wilson.  That is how we made our first contact with Bruce.  He had a great deal of information and Bob was writing it down as best he could on a 3×5 piece of paper.

During all of this, Alec’s wife Margaret, whom we had just been introduced to had gone missing.  Her daughter had warned us that she was in the early stages of Alzheimers so I was a little concerned about where she might be.  Luckily Alec realized she was gone and had his daugher go find her.  She came in sheepish as could be and would only sit on the couch holding her hands.  When it came time to talk about her memories of Winnie though, she just came alive.  Winnie had taught her all she knew about gardening, even though their age difference was 40 years! She then fell silent again…

Owaka Alec Black, friend of Winnies with wife on couch

After I had thoroughly taken in all the intricacies of the room my eyes fell upon these knitting needles and yarn.  I asked her if this was her work and she simply nodded her head yes.  I snapped a few pictures hoping I would not be noticed but I just fell in love with the idea of all this knitting.

Look at the detail of the hat that looks like it has been woven like a basket.  I’m not certain she can still knit like this and I wished she would have talked to me about it.  I really hope that she has not yet been robbed of this memory.  I can not imagine how silent her already very quiet life must feel like.  Life can be simple and survivable.  I’m just not sure I could handle that simple of life!

Owaka Margaret Blacks knitting close up Winnies friend. Winnie taught her how to garden

We thanked the Blacks for their hospitality and set off for Belclutha, hoping to beat the sun before it set on Hill Cemetery.  We did find some grave markers but it was just getting too dark to see. We ended this sabbath day and the long drive home grateful for all the doors opening to find family connections.

Our history is important.  The stories of our ancestors help us connect to similar personalities and traits that we share.  So many times we commented on how much Winnie looked like Grandma Christiansen or the strong entrepreneurial spirit of this creative and industrious family.  Their lives were hard as they pioneered a new country far from their Scottish home.  I tip my hat to them and hope we will be further guided on this journey to connect family.










Day 126 (Sept. 26)

Our purpose for the whole trip that day was to go and visit with Irma Hughes.  She is the granddaughter of Isabelle Forsyth Walter, and great granddaughter of John Jr and Annie Anderson.  John and Annie is Isabelles parents.  These family trees can get really confusing.

We had a lovely visit with Irma and her husband of 62 years, John Hughs. They own a farm where they produce and sell cut flowers.  The grow peonies, hydrangeas, daffodils, to name a few.  They also have cows and sheep for meat and wool.  John was born and raised on the original farm and eventually purchased a total of 200 acres.  After they were married, the lived in the old ranch house but eventually built the home they live in now.  It has a magnificent view!