Tuesday, March 18, 2014


     I have to admit it. It was hard to come back. Our time in New Zealand and Australia was refreshing in every way. The weather was mild, cool breezes and temperatures in the 70’s with only occasional overcast skies and one day of – how can I call it rain when it came so softly? And then there were the “motorways”, aka highways, and freeways. Can you imagine how it felt, especially for Leon, to drive at speeds well in excess of 35 miles an hour? The food, everywhere we went, was excellent and reasonably priced.  Everyone understood us and we understood everyone!  And the chocolate!

I struggled with coming back. I think we both did. But we didn’t dwell on it. After all, we’re adults, right? And we can do hard things. So we packed our bags, tucked in the few souvenirs we bought, crammed my carry on with Cadbury chocolate for our temple and missionary friends, and we were on our way.

The return trip from Australia to NZ and then on to Samoa was a piece of cake compared to getting there. The day we left Samoa for New Zealand was a Saturday (February 22nd). We had been up since 3 a.m. for our morning shift at the temple. Our flight left at 9:40 p.m.. By the time we checked into our hotel in Auckland, we had been up for 25 hours.  In contrast to that, we had a good night’s sleep before heading home, not much time between flights, and felt quite rested when we arrived at Faleolo Airport.

Here’s the amazing thing. Walking down the steps from the plane and across the tarmac to the terminal, the moonlit Samoan night felt like a warm embrace. As we entered the terminal, we could hear the familiar sounds of Samoan harmonies and guitars. Not since we arrived one year ago had I remembered the live music that greets visitors.  I don’t know if they are always on hand, or if we were just fortunate to have come back when they were playing. It was irresistible. We were home. And we were happy to be here again. Lamoreaux’s were there to welcome us and take us back to the temple complex. We laughed and shared each other's highlights of the two weeks since we had seen them.

Before I go there, I have to tell you that our dear little friend, Sister Tavete, took an unexpected early release from her temple mission and a quickly arranged flight home to Australia during our first week back. She had received word that her 45 year old son was bleeding internally and awaiting surgery. She was to have served until May. We should be accustomed by now to unexpectedly hasty good-byes, but we’re not.

The time away has proven to have been good for body and soul. We are happy to be serving in one of the most beautiful temples on earth, among some of God’s most beautiful children, in one of the most beautiful places on earth. We seem to have a clearer perspective of the work we are engaged in and the rare opportunity we’ve been given to serve here – again.

I do hope you will indulge us in sharing some of our experiences and photos of our trip. For those who abhor travel logs, you are free to click the white-on-red X at the top left of your screen. I will never know. 

So, here are some highlights of New Zealand:

Early morning hot air balloon ride, Hamilton, NZ.

Everyone was included in launch preparations.

Launch site at take-off.
Idylic countryside with the Hamilton, NZ temple, center.

Happy Landing!!

Dinner Cruise Auckland Harbor

"That's our boat in the center there? For our dinner cruise? Will we fit?  
Yes! All seventeen guests, plus a crew of two. And what a lovely meal it was!

Our able Captain, Jason and First Mate, Makala

Hoisting the sail.

Sailing under the Harbor Bridge.  Wait..
"Who's drivin' this fly umbrella?" (Name the movie.)

We thought for sure our sail would hit the bridge (pictured above). Notice the two extensions on either side of the bridge. These were designed by a Japanese firm and 'hung' onto the existing bridge when it became obvious that bridge traffic demanded four lanes instead of the original two.

Altogether a lovely evening on the water.

Rotorua is home to world famous Pohutu Geyser which erupts on average once or twice each hour and can reach heights of up to ninety feet. It is also the location of a Maori cultural education center with a carving school, weaving school, and a traditional fully carved meeting house where we were entertained by traditional dances of the haka and the female poi dance. This is also where we found our little glass kiwi bird.

In both pictures you can see the detailed carvings that grace
 both interior and exterior of the meetinghouse.

Hamilton New Zealand Temple

The Hamilton New Zealand Temple was also closed for the same two weeks as the Apia Samoan Temple. We took advantage of the visitors center, chatting with the missionaries serving there, and taking the tour. Sister Brown from Rigby, Idaho was nice enought to take our picture. The temple is located on a hill with picturesque bucolic views all around; rolling hills, trees, and lovely flowers on the grounds. We were happy to at least have seen it and felt the peace that surrounds it.

That's our New Zealand experience. Or at least some important highlights. Oh, and the picture at the beginning of this post, is a picture of the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland. We had a great lunch in the restaurant at the top and a panoramic view of Auckland, which is a lovely city, the harbor, and the blue mountains in the distance. 

Australia will have to wait for another day. Please pardon the crazy placement of pictures. I'm sure I aged another year before I wrapped this up and decided it would do just the way it is.

Anyway, we're 'home' now and glad to be back.

I know, its a tough assignment, but someone has to do it, right?. Wait, Leon! I'm coming.(Actually, we're on the early shift this week and we're heading straight to bed!)


  1. So incredibly jealous. But in a good way. Glad it was a good trip and celebration for you. Love you and miss you.

  2. Wow. What a trip! So glad you got to have a great break and experience such beautiful places.

  3. Wonderful to see the NZ Temple and some of the area around it. My grandfather, Alfred Clifford Sant, served his mission there many years ago. I have a copy of some of the journal entries he wrote while serving there. He loved it! Many changes I'm sure since the early 1900's. Love you.

  4. I am so happy to see these pictures and even happier that you were able to take this trip! Isn't that feeling of arriving home after being somewhere amazing also amazing? I love that. Thanks for taking time to upload all the photos.