Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ever Changing

Today was Elder and Sister Miles last day in the mission and what a day it was! In the normal routine of the office we have groups of young missionaries leaving and coming in every six weeks. A lot of what we do is to prepare for this time. Today we had two missionaries come in not at the normal rotation time. Both of them had been awaiting visas and when the visas were granted they came. We also had a missionary released from the hospital and it was leadership conference. To make the day more interesting Elder X who is from Cambodia had to leave items behind because his luggage weighed too much, so he needed to get towels, sheets, toiletry items, shoes and exersice clothes. He came in early in the morning, shortly after five. Elder Y coming from American Samoa was supposed to get in at one thirty. Leadership counsel was over so President and Sister Henderson went to pick him up, but couldn't find him. It turned out he missed his connecting flight in Sydney because he couldn't figure out how to get a complimentary shuttle to a different terminal and ended up walking a long distance, poor guy. We were a little frantic in the process. He came with no luggage because when he started off on the first leg of his journey he got to the airport so late that he got on the flight, but his luggage did not. It will come on Saturday. So we have two missionaries who both need items. Elder and Sister Miles were already donating most of Elder Miles white shirts and his ties to the mission, so Elder Y got some of those along with a couple pairs of garments other missionaries had ordered (but were the wrong size) so we had them in the office. Elder and Sister Miles took Elder X shopping for what he needed, while we manned the office. Many of our missionaries come with very little. We get a lot from Tonga, the Philippines, Asia and the surrounding islands. We realise what a struggle it is for some of these men and women who have so little to come serve a mission. We have had missionaries come with basically the clothes on their backs. When missionaries leave they can donate usable items and the missionaries who come with nothing can often "shop" the mission home. 
Elder X from Cambodia has a remarkable story. When the Khmer Rouge was slaughtering people in Cambodia, the UN sent in a peace keeping force. Elder X's mother met his father who was a peace keeping soldier from Africa. When he went back to Africa she was pregnant. She had the baby, he was so dark skinned that she left him under a tree to die. His grandmother heard about it and went and got him, he was in bad shape but lived. The grandmother raised him until he was about ten, she then became impoverished, couldn't support him and sent him to an orphanage along with a half sister. When he lived with his grandmother, his aunts and uncles treated him badly. Because of his skin color they wouldn't let him eat with them and they physically abused him. The woman who runs the orphanage is LDS. Through the years she taught him the gospel.  He had to wait until he was 18 and then he was baptised. He is twenty now. He has a beautiful testimony, he is sweet, kind, humble and soft spoken with a wonderful spirit. He will be a fantastic missionary! It strengthens our testimonies to hear what some of these young people go through to serve The Lord.
So, missionaries leave and others come but we are really going to miss Elder and Sister Miles! We are so grateful for their patience and friendship. We have had some great times together and are thankful for all they have taught us and shown us and the great example they are of Christ like love.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shopping in Brisbane

Shopping is different here on many levels. First of all it is expensive. Food, clothing, everything costs more. People earn more, minimum wage is about seventeen dollars. Even the McDonalds workers make that. So it makes the cost of all goods more expensive. Some other tidbits, people rarely tip, not even in restaurants. Right now the American dollar against the Australia dollar exchange rate is good for us, by a little bit. The stores do not stay open in the evenings because it is too expensive for them to pay the help. The major malls stay open late on Thursdays only. Most of the grocery stores close early too, even on Saturdays, so we have to be more organized with shopping. No last minute Saturday night store runs! The malls have major grocery stores in them. You can buy your groceries and then walk all around the mall with your cart, everyone does. The grocery carts go forward and backward but they also go sideways, yep, it's kind of crazy. Because everyone pushes carts around the escalators don't have stairs, they have ramps. When the carts are on the ramps they automatically lock so there are no runaway carts. There is a costco being built here, about 30minutes from the office, we will go take a look when it opens. Our refrigerator is small and so is our kitchen, so we don't buy a lot at one time but we do stock up when certain items go on sale, like coke zero! There are targets and kmart here, but they are usually smaller stores than in the US. There are Subways and Kentucky Fried Chicken stores everywhere, also McDonalds and Hungry Jacks (kind of like Burger King) the Australians take their holidays seriously, this Easter weekend even the post office is closed Friday through Monday. On Good Friday most retail is closed, even gas stations. Speaking of Easter, Happy Easter to all!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday at the farmers market

Almost every Saturday morning we go to a farmers market somewhere. Usually it is the West End market which is a ten minute drive away. Two other Saturdays we ventured further to other markets but the west end market is so close we usually go there. It is year round. There are a lot of food booths to purchase ready made food, selling everything from kebabs to paella to pancakes. There are booths that sell flowers, clothes, trinkets, paintings, wood cutting boards, cheese, hats and toys. A booth selling coconuts for drinking. There are even booths for foot rubs, palm readings and eyebrow shaping using thread, yep, really. There are booths that sell meat, fish and of course fruit and vegetables galore. We always buy fruits and vegetables. Today we also bought some chicken, some plum chutney, some eggs and some cards too. We spent about sixty dollars, more than usual, because we bought some blank greeting cards featuring trees, original work by a local artist. He does beautiful work. There are some gorgeous trees here (the subject of another blog post) We are including a picture of our purchases today. It is a happening place, with people singing, eating, visiting, browsing and buying. 
The population here is so diverse and the market reflects that. You can get products and foods representing Asian, Indian, European, Greek , Australian, pacific islands and more cultures.