Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear Famiy!

This has been another amazing and exhausting week. We have been so busy that it feels like forever ago since I last emailed you.

I guess I will start at the beginning of last week. After we were finished emailing, Sister Doole and I went to a maori village tourist site called Te Puia. It's like this culture center where people can go to learn all about the Maori people and their traditions. Sister Doole and I have been wanting to go there for ages but it is so expensive. One day we were talking about it with one of our members and they mentioned that they had a family card that gets them in for free and so she gave it to us so that we could get in for free. The member wasn't quite sure how everything worked though so she told us to try and be as inconspicuous as possible. Because it was p-day and because we were going to participate in a cultural activity we didn't have to wear our proselyting cloths or our badges. We got in without a problem using the card and it was funny because as we were walking in Sister Doole mentioned how weird it was not to be stared at because we looked like normal people again. We are so used to people looking at us because we are missionaries that it was weird to be normal again. Well anyway we were almost to the gate and we handed one of the workers our tickets and we said thank you but before we could get through the gate he looked at us and said "you two wouldn't happen to be sister missionaries would you?" and we were like "Oh my goodness! How did you know?" and he said " I could just tell. Even though you are wearing normal cloths you just look like missionaries." It's funny though because we have never met this guy or seen him before. He went on to say that we was almost ready to send in his papers for his mission and he was working at the village to save up money. We thought it was funny that even when we thought we were blending in, we still looked like missionaries. We had a great time at the village though and we learned a lot but it was neat too because a lot of the stuff that the tour guide was teaching us about we already knew from living here and learning from the people. I love that as missionaries we live with the people because I feel like I am really getting to experience New Zealand more than if I was a tourist going to all of the sites. Te Puia also had this huge geyser that sprays continuously and we were sprayed a few times and Sister Doole was ticked because it ruined her hair. I just laughed. We also got to see a kiwi bird! But I wasn't allowed to take pictures of it. It is so cute and a lot bigger than I imagined. The sad thing is that they are super endangered here and so the locals have started this campaign to try and save them. At least I can say that I saw a kiwi bird while I was in New Zealand. 

After the visit to the village we had to pack up the car and head out to Te Puki. Te Puki is the kiwi fruit capitol of the world and a large percentage of the world's kiwifruit supply comes from Te Puki. We had a great exchange with the sisters there and I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of Indian people. Heaps of people move to Te Puki from India to work in the kiwifruit orchards and they are really interested in our message so the sisters there are having a lot of success with them. It went a lot better then the lesson one of the sisters took me to the week before with a Muslim man that I forgot to write about last week. Anyway we had a great exchange with them. The sisters there had a dinner appointment that night and so I decided that both of them should go so while they went there Sister Doole and I drove fifteen minutes to the beach! It was so beautiful. I was stunned. Sister Doole also told me that the sister she had been with during the exchange said that President Rudd told the zones by the ocean that "You are only going to be in New Zealand for a short time. Make the best of it! You are allowed to go into the ocean but only as far as knee deep." Sister Doole also said that this sister told her that her entire zone walked in the ocean with their zone leaders. I was surprise but after confirming this we decided it was our turn to take a walk in the ocean so we did. It felt amazing and I promise we only got our feet wet. I still can't believe how lucky I am to be serving my mission here. 

After this exchange on Tuesday we came home and worked in our area Wednesday and then traveled to Tauranga for an exchange in Mount Maunganui on Thursday. This area also is right by the beach so we spent our dinner Thursday night there as well. We had a great time with the sisters there too except it was so hot that day and the sun was brutal. Even though I put on sunscreen I still got burned. I blame my extremely white skin. 

After that exchange and being in the sun for so long we both had hit our limit of exhaustion and Sister Doole was sick and I could feel myself starting to get sick that we headed home early and then called and asked permission to go to bed early. We had just laid down in bed and I was about to fall asleep when my phone rang and it was one of the sisters that I am over so I felt like I needed to answer it. I answered it and then I heard the sister on the other line crying and it broke my heart because this is a sister that I have really come to love. It turns out that her and her companion were having some real struggles and this sister felt like she was at her breaking point. I talked to her for quite sometime on the phone trying to encourage her and then she said she was going to try and talk to her companion and work things out. After that though I was so hyped up that I wasn't able to fall asleep for hours. I was so frustrated with myself because the next morning I literally couldn't open my eyes when the alarm went off and I started to cough really hard  because I had gotten really sick. I then spent the rest of that morning on the phone trying to straighten things out and help these sisters and President and Sister Rudd. The whole situation broke my heart because I had gone on exchanges with them not too long ago and we had a great time and I really love them and so to have both of them struggling so much was really hard for me. I just wanted to fix everything and make it all better for them. Fortunately they have worked things out but unfortunately the problem that started all of this is a lot deeper than I first imagined and so something serious is going to have to happen. I am surprised by how much I love these sisters that I serve with and I will do anything for them. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be their Sister Training leader and get to know them because in this mission we have phenomenal sisters and I love them all so much. And don't worry I'm not sick anymore so that was a huge blessing! 

I guess that is really it for the week. We have a baptism this week! Her name is Katherine and I have been working with her since I was with Sister Gunnell. She is a special spirit and has progressed really slow so we are so thankful to have finally reached this point. It should be pretty exciting. We are headed out tonight for our last exchange of the transfer and then we are going to Hamilton on Wednesday for another mission leadership council. It should be a pretty busy and exciting week. I hope that things are all going well at home. I love and miss all of you! 

Sister Simkins

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