Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a great day. I guess I'll start off this letter by telling you about my thanksgiving. So Thursday morning the phone rings and I answered it by saying "Hello this is Sister Simkins" (because that's how we're supposed to answer the phone) then the voice on the other end said "Is this Sister Simkins from New Mexico?" and I instantly recognized the voice so I responded by saying "Yes it is. Is this Elder McLachlan from Canada?" and sure enough it was. It turns out that Elder and Sister McLachlan's daughter is visiting from Canada so they were visiting all the tourist attractions and they happened to be in Rotorua and they wanted to meet up for lunch. So I got to spend have a thanksgiving lunch here with my temporary adopted grandparents and it was so great to see them. For dinner the elders organized to have Thanksgiving dinner with this lady in the ward who is from America. She's lived in New Zealand for over 15 years or something like that and she is married to a kiwi. They (the Brooks family) are one of my favorite families in the ward and Sister Brooks served her mission in California and she said her trainer was from New Mexico and her name Kara Sewell. Sound familiar? Anyways they are a great family and we had a great night. Turkey here in New Zealand is really really expensive so we feasted on roasted chicken and kumara (New Zealand sweet potato) and Sister Brooks made a bunch of different pies. So all around it was a very different Thanksgiving from what I'm used to but I still loved it non the less. I wish you all could have been here. It's weird though because it's warm outside it didn't feel like Thanksgiving and it really doesn't feel like Christmas time now. I think that is why it was so easy to be away because it really doesn't feel like the holiday season. I am also grateful for the fact that I only have to miss one Thanksgiving and one Christmas because you all know how I live for those holidays.
So lets just say that if the bugs aren't biting me in the flat then they are biting me when I'm walking outside. My legs were destroyed again this week and like the last time a few of the bites got really infected. Like they got so infected I had to go see a doctor and I am on antibiotics again. I am so sick of the bugs here and the bug bites I could scream. My legs are just trashed with scars. It's pretty sad that my mission battle scars are from flea bites.
We had zone conference on Tuesday and so we got to travel from Rotorua to Tauranga. Tauranga is a town right on the coast and it was so beautiful. I couldn't take pictures but I hope I get to go back there someday because it was spectacular. Zone conference was really great though and I am constantly reminded of just how amazing my mission president is. President Rudd really is the best. His wife is my favorite too. I am so blessed to be serving here in the most beautiful place in the world and under the best mission president.
Sister Pongi and I are really starting to get to know each other and have a good time together, She is pretty funny although she isn't as outgoing as Sister Vea was. I am really enjoying serving with her. It's funny though because she is so shy that I have to do most of the talking because she just won't talk but I am not used to being the talkative one. I don't like starting conversations with people but that is all I do now. I'm turning into this social butterfly and it's so weird. I am going to give Tyler and Molly a run for their money when I get home. I also can't wait to see what a mission does to Danny because he hates talking to people and that is all missionaries do.
Yesterday we went out to bishops house for dinner and they live in one of the farming suburbs of Rotorua and while we were out there we visited some other people. I loved it though because we visited farms so in one day I got to hold baby ducks, puppies, and kittens. I would say that was a pretty successful day. This area is just so great and the members here are the best. It will be a sad day when I have to leave. I was sitting in Relief Society yesterday watching all the women and I realized that I felt the same as when I was at home. I feel like this ward is now my ward and I love them like I love everyone in 7th ward. It is a very neat feeling.
This week we had a hard week because all of our appointments and back-ups fell through so we went to visit less-actives and members and every time we visited someone they would say "Oh I was hoping you would come by today" or "I was just thinking about you sisters" it's pretty cool when this happens. Another cool story from this week was one night Sister Pongi and I had just finished up meeting with someone and we were going to walk home to do language study before it got dark because it's not safe for us to be out at night. So we started to walk home and we were pretty far away and I got this really sick feeling inside. I felt like something really bad was about to happen. I didn't know what to do because there wasn't anyone that we knew close by and I thought the elders were at a lesson in another town so I just prayed in my heart and we kept walking. I explained to Sister Pongi what I was feeling and she said she felt the same way. The feeling didn't go away and I was waiting for whatever it was to happen. All the sudden the phone rang and it was the elders. I answered it and one of the elders said "Where are you? We're coming to pick you up" and we were in the car three minutes later. They said that they felt like they needed to spend the night just visiting members and they wanted us to come. The elder that had called said that it was his idea and for some reason he knew they needed to bring us with them. I then explained what we were feeling and we all were pretty amazed. I don't know what would have happened had we kept walking but I know we were being watched over.
Well that is all I have for this week. I hope that you all enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit. Just don't forget me sitting here on a rock on the middle of the Pacific ocean living the dream. I love and miss all of you!