Thursday, December 29, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Last Goodbye at the Mission Home - How blessed we
were to serve with these wonderful people!

 Talofa Lava Family and Friends,
    This will be my last blog for Ellsworths in Paradise, as we have returned home after a restful 10 day trip through New Zealand.  Our amazing family had our home cleaned and put back together, with Christmas lights up, homemade cookies on the counter, Christmas music playing and a yummy dinner prepared.  Annie and Chad moved into Amy and Chad's pool house so the house has been relatively quiet.  They will never know how much we appreciate their hard work and support!
California Redwoods in Rotorua, NZ
      The dramatic change from hot and humid to  cold and dry, left me with a terrible cold/flu that I am just barely getting over. (I generously shared it with Brent, and he is just starting to feel miserable.)  I dont' think I've been warm since we got home.  A trip up north to see Shane's family is temporarily on hold until it warms up.
       Life has pretty much been a whirlwind since returning home, as we needed to buy a car, sign up for Medicare, get our phone service, TV service, computers, etc. hooked back up, all in the middle of Christmas activities with the family. I have felt disconnected with our dear friends in Samoa, as I had little time or energy to check FB or write letters.  Our son Jason, and his family left this afternoon so I finally have a little time before my sister arrives on Friday to get this blog done.

Peti, Patty, Myra, Brent in Auckland
      Just a quick note on our trip to New Zealand.  Our  dear
friends, Peti and Myra Satiu, were wonderful hosts at the beginning and end of  this adventure.  We left most of our luggage at their home in Auckland so we would not have to drag it around with us.  We stayed with them our last night, went to church with them, where we were asked to bear our testimonies in Sacrament Mtg.,  and then spent the rest of the day trying to get all of our bags under the weight limit.  We appreciate the delicious meals, the tour of Auckland, their great hospitality and willingness to dispose of all our excess!  We were so grateful for their help at the airport as we were getting ready to fly home.  It was quite an ordeal trying to check our extra bags.

Brent at a thermal pool
For the next eight days we traveled through both the North and South Islands of this beautiful country.  Some of the highlights were the geothermal parks with bubbling mud pots, multi-colored pools and geysers, the California Redwoods, Milford Sound Cruise, "Lord of the Rings" country and the spectacular scenery.  My favorites were the Pukekura Gardens in New Plymouth and the Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton where we strolled through the most amazing flowers I have ever seen.  

Brent, Patty Tracee & Lee Soti
   Tracee and Lee Soti, friends of the Goodmans, who we met in Samoa, graciously offered to host us in their beautiful Cambridge home for two nights.  We had a lot of fun playing games, and they treated us to a delicious dinner of NZ lamb. Reconnecting with friends was the best!  We took a morning to attend the                                                                                 Hamilton Temple and then completed  
                                                                        the journey back at the Satius. 

    It is like being in a time warp coming home.  In some ways it feels like we never left, but then we pinch ourselves and  remember the incredible experience we  had in Samoa. In no way did we anticipate that a mission could be so fun or so much work.  Because we were always so busy the time flew by.  It was a privilege to work with the young elders and sisters who had been called to serve there.  They will always hold a dear place in my heart.  Neither were we expecting that a mission would be a place to make so many wonderful new friends.  We are planning a cruise together in the summer of 2018, and also get togethers as time and distance allows.  
Milford Sound Cruise
    Brent and I made a commitment to each other when we were dating in 1970, that one day we would serve a mission together.  Now that we know how great it is, we won't shut the door on future possibilities to serve again.  (Don't tell the kids!)  However, our priority right now is to renew relationships with our 16 grandchildren, and support them as they move through their teen years, which seem to be so much more treacherous than when we were that age.     With the craziness the last 1 1/2 weeks, my scripture study time has been reduced.  However, this morning while I was reading I found the perfect scripture to end this blog with.  It is in Romans 12:9-18 and gave me more than enough to think about as we start the new year:
  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;  11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;  12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;  13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.  14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.  15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.  17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.  18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  
I will close this blog with my own testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I believe The Book of Mormon is the word of God and testifies of Jesus Christ and his mission to be the Savior of the World. It has been a great honor to be a representative of the Savior and His Church for the last 18 months.  I have a great love of this Gospel and the work that missionaries all over the world are involved in.  The Gospel has blessed me with an inner peace.  It is my hope that in some way those of you reading this who are not members of the church, will be touched to find the truth for yourself.  Thank you for taking the time for me  to share a small part of this amazing journey.
Alofa Tele, Patty

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