Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

We thought we better start another entry to our blog.  Its been awhile and we are sorry for the non-performance.  

Its just been very very busy and sitting down at the computer and writing about what we've been doing is really the last thing on our mind.  But we will repent, as we know its important to keep you all informed and please know we do love you so much.  Anyway,  we had a fun Halloween.  Its not celebrated to the extent it is back home, but it is definitely getting more popular here.  We had a branch Halloween trunk or treat party with a BBQ  and everyone dressed up and decorated their cars. It was outside in the parking lot and we had spook alleys, and activities for the kids.  We had many non-member friends who were invited and they thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  Here are a couple of pics. of the event.

Happy Halloween!

We also had a District Meeting, accompanied by a visit from President and Sister Henderson!  Everyone was excited to see them, here in Cairns.  President Henderson interviewed each one the missionaries, and we had a bake potato bar for lunch.  Here's a couple of photos.

                        Here's a group picture of all those involved in the October District Meeting.

                  We wouldn't want to miss out on any food - so here is Thanksgiving dinner as well!!
                                      Just 4 sisters and 6 Elders and Elder and Sister Boyce!

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

During November Cairns Branch 2 had a Culture Christmas celebration.
This took place inside the church and in the inner courtyard of the church building.
Notice the Palm trees. 

Merry Christmas!

  On November 22,  Elder Boyce and the District began a Mission Preparation Class.
He personally invited 22 future missionaries from the Cairns area, Atherton, Innisfail, and Thursday Island.  On Thursday Island, Innisfail and Atherton, we Skyped the participants so they were able to  interact with the teaching.
Mission Prep runs for 10 weeks and is very will attended.
It's quite an experience - we both get to attend each class on Sunday evenings for about an hour and a half.
The class is taught by a return missionary from the Brisbane Mission. (Elder Garry Talaia)
He's an amazing teacher because he was instructed by the best - President Henderson!!
Here's a picture of part of the class.

Here in Cairns we have an awesome member who is so generous to the missionaries and with service throughout the community.   She and her non-member husband know how to give and show the true spirit of Christmas.  She had all the missionaries, in Cairns, come to her home and helped them create gift baskets for their investigators or members who are in need.

           Here we are making the baskets, then taking them to those we choose to deliver them to.
She also had all the missionaries in Cairns to Christmas day dinner.   We were invited,
but were in Brisbane with Becki and Rich and our 4 little grandchildren!!  Sorry no pictures of the dinner.

                                           Here's a picture of this giving Sister's Christmas home.

On Sunday, December 20 we organized a Christmas music Fireside - 
"He Sent His Son".
We invited all members, friends, investigators and who ever would like to come and share in
Christmas music and songs of the Savior.
We also presented
"A Savior is Born,"
a Christmas message offered by the Church.
We also played a video of the
"Testimonies of Our Prophets and Apostles".

We had 10 Christmas musical numbers from members in the two Cairns Branches and the music selected was absolutely perfect.
It turned out wonderful, we had about 150 people attend and about 50 of them were non-member investigators.
This is a copy of the invitation.
      Two days after our fireside we flew to Brisbane to help President and Sister Henderson with the Brisbane Christmas Zone Conference.
Sister Henderson had been working on it for a couple of months and asked us to help her get the food organized.  She then took a short trip to St. George for Sarah's wedding and arrived back in Brisbane on the 22nd.  The Zone Conference was held on the 23rd.  It involved about 225 Elders, Sister Missionaries and  the Missionary couples.

We hope, along with the other couples, we made the Conference and the meal a little easier for President and Sister Henderson.
Below are photos of the lunch.

The best part of Christmas, this year, was that night after the Zone Conference - Becki and Rich and
4 of our grandkids met us in Brisbane!!
Richie (12 yrs)
Mia (10 yrs)
Georgia (8 yrs)
Ivy (5 yrs)

First excursion was to the Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo in Brisbane. They were able to hold live animals!
Aren't they cute . . . the kids!!!(Notice Georgia, she got a little more brave with the snake)

The day after Christmas we all flew up to Cairn's where we spent the next 4 days together.  Here we are in front of the Cairn's chapel.  We had the opportunity of "showing off" some of our family to our good friends here in Cairns.
On Monday we all hopped in the rented van and drove about an hour to Port Douglas.  We then caught a charter boat to the Great Barrier Reef.  Here we snorkeled and saw so many beautiful fish.  Even our little Ivy (age 5) got into the action.  The first thing she said,
"I saw so many Dory's down there".

Because the Jelly Fish are out this time of year, they require us to wear these beautiful stinger suits.  It was in incredible adventure and the kids will never forget it.

On Tuesday we hopped on a scenic train and took a 2 hour ride through the rain forest.  We ended up in Kuranda (a cute little resort town in the rain forest).  The kids able to see "bird world" and all the beautiful tropical birds in their habitat.  We then took a 90 minute skyride (It started raining on the way down)  back to our vehicle.  Here are some of the pictures.
Barron Falls north of Cairns.
Below is a photo of our kids and grandkids as they leave the airport from
Cairns, Australia.
We hated to see them go!

Happy New Year!!

As missionaries in the Australia Brisbane Mission we have 6
recitations and scriptures that we have been invited to memorize.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has explained: “Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change” (“The Power of Scripture,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 6).

This is one that we have been invited to memorize.
Helaman 5:12

 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

We wish you a belated Merry Christmas and a very
prosperous, exciting and growth filled 2016!!!
We Love You.
Ren and Debbie

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Springtime here in Australia is beautiful and especially here in Cairns.  The temperature has been absolutely perfect.  It is about 75-80 degrees and the humidity stays around 70%.   The evenings get down to about 65 degrees and it is delightful.  The summer is coming and we understand that the temperature gets hotter, and the humidity is even higher. We can endure this, as we had high temperatures and high humidity in South Africa and know what it is like.

The summer is  also the rainy season and even the season of potential Cyclones (Hurricanes back home).  Because we are on the coast,  Some Cyclones have hit this area in the past.  Some of the church members (who live in the beaches cities and have their homes in low elevation areas) have been evacuated in the past.  We live in a higher elevation area and should not have any problem if any of these tropical storms hit. Although it may be kind of fun and unique to experience one of these Cylcones.  Below is an awesome sunrise one morning!

Many of the homes here are built above the ground and seem to be elevated like on stilts. (from a foot to many feet above the ground elevation).  We always thought this was prevent water from getting into the home, but recently found out that people build their homes above the ground to get air flow under the home.   It makes it much cooler when the air can flow underneath the home and less expensive to run air conditioning or fans.  Here are some of the homes that show this.

We work with all the branches in the district. (Thursday Island, Innisfail, Atherton and 2 here in Cairns).  Because we are here in Cairns most of the time, we attend both Cairns Branch church services, council meetings, missionary correlation meetings and as many of their activities as time permits. Cairns 1 Branch had their annual Brisbane Temple trip this past month.  We have been actively helping them ready themselves to attend the Temple.  Many of the new converts were able to attend and had researched many of their ancestors in the Family History Center here in Cairns.  They were so excited to go and do some of this vicarious work for their family members that have passed on.  Tears of joy attended them as this work was completed.

92 Branch members got on a bus to travel for 20 hours to Brisbane and attend the Temple. 20 new members, who had joined the Church within the last year, had the opportunity of doing baptisms for their ancestors.  Several Young Men and Young Women also attended with the group.   Over 800 baptisms were performed and 300 confirmations.   Debbie and I had the opportunity to teach a family  the Temple Preparation Classes and prepare them to go through for their own Endowments and have their 4 small children sealed to them.  What a great joy it was to be with them in the Temple and watch them receive these Sacred Ordinances. (especially tender when the 4 small children were sealed to their mom and dad).   Along with the baptisms and confirmations there were 6 new Endowments, 2 family Sealings performed and 17 Patriarchal Blessings given.  Because we belong to a District, we do not have a Stake Patriarch.   Arrangements were made, and 5 Stake Patriarchs from Brisbane were at the Chapel next to the Temple to give these blessings to 17 of our Cairns 1st Branch members. It was an amazing experience.

One of the new converts to attend the Temple was John Manatan.  A convert of about 6 months, a  rough Australian Torres Strait indigenous man.   He has had a rough life and the gospel of Jesus Christ has completely changed him.  The Holy Ghost touches and changes the internal spirits of these unique people, but their exterior appearance sometimes does not change.  John told us he had not had a a haircut in over 30 years.   We prayed as to how to approach John and what to say to him as to not offend or cause him to rebel.   We used Elder Oaks talk on BYU grooming standards and expressed the importance of how your physical tidiness and cleanliness in appearance can effect your spiritual growth and well being. We shared how Sacred the Temple is and you naturally would want to feel and look the very best you can before you enter.   The conversation was incredible and he was so willing to change and prepare both spiritually and physically to enter the Temple and do the work for his ancestors.  Below are pictures of John before and after.

Our work here is so varied, we seem to do everything.  We even have a home teaching assignments in both Cairns Branches.  One of the families we home teach is a single mom who has 10 boys (8 of them still living at home and the oldest is 22 and the youngest is 3)  We recently had a family home evening with them and Debbie dressed all the boys to appear as Lehi's family in the wilderness and told the story of when Nephi was commanded to build the boat to travel to the America's.  The pictures show the event.  We had a wonderful evening.

Please continue to pray for the missionaries who are serving throughout the world. Our work is so critical and important and we need all your support and prayers.  Thank you so much.  We love and miss you will write again.

Ren and Debbie
                                        Here are some streets and businesses named after us!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7, 2015

Okay so its  time to write again about our extra ordinary mission adventure.  Today is September 7th 2015.  Labor Day back home, but just another Monday here in Cairns, Australia.  Its our P day today and we usually take a couple of hours in the afternoon, so we decided to blog again. 

We love the work and have jumped in with all 4 of our feet. (Ren's size 13's keep us more stable).  Let us give you a little semblance of what we are doing.   Our responsibilities with the young missionaries are not quite as time consuming as they were with the Elders in South Africa.  We support 6 Elders and 4 Sisters in our Cairns District.  We try to help them as much as we can with any issues that arise. Example, the Sisters had, in their flat, a real cockroach problem. These critters being the size of small rodents. (we thought they were big in South Africa,  but these are like 3"long. We couldn't get their pictures, as they move too fast). We also attend and participate in their district meetings, zone meetings and all trainings.  We are very far away from the mission office (1100 miles), so much of the training is done through conference calls and conference video.  We also teach and fellowship with the Elders and Sisters in our district.  This is very rewarding.  They work very hard and are obedient with exactness and thus they have incredible success.

This is a sister we taught with the Elders here in Cairns. Elder Pitts and Elder Murdock (Elder Murdock is from St. George) Her name is Ansile and she is from Rwanda. She and her 2 children are refugees from that country and escaped the turmoil that existed there.  All her family were killed by the terrible conflict.  She is wonderful and so loving and sweet.


We teach Temple Preparation classes to those who are preparing themselves to go to the Temple.  We also teach post Baptism lessons to those new converts who have recently joined the church.  We also minister to many members who are less active and or struggle with life and it's challenges.

         We have found it very helpful to have a card with our info on it for all the people we meet. 
                                               We used one in South Africa as well.  

 The weekend of August 28-30, starting on Friday, we had our  Cairns District conference.  We started with a dinner/dance on Friday night at the church.  It is such a beautiful setting. This photo was taken inside the courtyard looking above the roof of part of the chapel.  The trees are in the front yard of the chapel and in the courtyard.  This was a few minutes after sunset.   The rainforest covered mountains are in the background.
                                    See how beautiful it is!!!  Don't you just feel so sorry of us!!

This photo is Olga.  She is a member but seldom comes out of her home except on some Sundays.  She lived with her parents till they died, she was 34 at the time.  She now lives alone and has since her parents died.  She has 2 brothers and a sister but has not seen them for years.  She has no idea where they even are.  We suspect she last saw them when her parents died.
                   As we took her home she said, "That was the best and only party I have ever been to,
                               I will remember that the rest of my life!"  We had talk and persuade
                                                      to even get her to go with us.

                               Young Single Adults with Elder Leota after a Fireside on Sunday night.
                                 Elder Leota of the Seventy, was our visiting General Authority.

Ren serves in the Cairns District Presidency.  This district has 5 branches (2 in Cairns, 1 each in Atherton, Innisfail and Thursday Island).  We travel quite often to each of these branches to assist, speak and support.  Atherton is about 2 hours to the west, and Innisfail is about 2 hours to the south. Thursday Island is a 2 hour plane ride north of Cairns at the very tip of the horn of the Australian Continent.  It is an small island that is 3 1/2 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide.  It is inhabited by about 2600 people most of them being indigenous Torres Strait natives.  Thursday Island is only about 40 miles from New Guinea. (If you get a chance look up Thursday Island online and research it.  Very interesting).  This little branch has about 30 active members, but could grow immensely.
Debbie serves in the District Young Women's Presidency. Most of the work done in our church callings is served with the Cairns 1st Branch and Cairns 2nd Branch.  We meet with their Branch Councils each week and their Missionary Correlation Council each week. We train, support, visit and minister to their members.  We also home teach a couple of families.

Last week we had an assignment to fly to Thursday Island and visit and support this small branch. We left on Thursday and returned to Cairns on Sunday evening.  What an incredible time we had up there getting acquainted with all the members and trying to help them with their needs.  We visited and invited many.  One adventure we had was visiting a family on Hammond Island.  This is an even smaller island than Thursday Island.  The Branch President loaded us in his little dingy (small boat) and we traveled about 10 minutes and met the Petero family. We had a wonderful experience with them and after our visit, the Branch President picked us up at the dock and returned us to Thursday Island.  Below are some pictures of our journey.

                                       This is the plane we took from Cairns to Horn Island.
                       Leaving the mainland of Australia and approaching the Torres Strait Islands.

Getting on the ferry to Thursday Island.

On the dingy going over to Hammond Island.
Visiting and eating lunch with the Peteros.
                                This is under their home, quiet a typical setting for company.

Here's a peaceful end to our busy month. This a video of a sunrise on northeast coast of Cairns, August 27th, 2015 at 6:40 in the morning.  The ocean is lapping on the sand and the birds are singing in the trees behind me.  We miss and love you all, but we'll stick it out it here if we have to!!

Our most love goes to Luke, Richie, Landon, Mia, Brock, Georgia, Annie, Ivy and Kate!!!!!

Gadday mates,
Elder and Sister Boyce