Week 3: Toto....We're not in Kansas anymore!

EVERYBODY!
I'M ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD!

It is currently 10:15am, Monday the 24th here in New Zealand. I am safe, I am alive, and I am very very joyful. :)
There is so so much to write about and I do not have a lot of time, but I will try to write what I can! Ahh! Where do I start? I am going to break it up into chunks to make it easier to write about.

ARRIVAL: The plane ride was great! I slept almost the entire time because I was absolutely exhausted. Sleeping made it feel like it wasn't that long. In the moments I was awake, I talked to the old couple that was sitting next to me. They were flying to their home in New Zealand after a tour of some US national parks! When I told them I lived in Utah they were excited because they had just seen a lot of the beautiful parks there. They are sheep farmers in a southern part of my mission (Stereotypical, haha). We arrived in New Zealand at 5;30am. The Assistants to the President picked me up after waiting in a very long line through customs. We drove to the Mission home immediately, and I met the mission President, his wife, and the other missionaries that had come from the New Zealand MTC. We had orientation and interviews and walked through the polynesian/church museum they have there which was very cool! We also got to see the temple, right there in Hamilton. We had dinner and were told our assigned areas and companions. The next day, we got on a bus to go!

TRAVELING TO AREA: My area is Mt. Maunganui!!!!! It is in Tauranga. It took about 3 hours to get there, and it was a lovely lovely drive. The scenery out the bus window was absolutely glorious. I was blown away. I have decided that it is a mix between my three favorite places: Oregon, Hawaii, and Kamas. It was so cool because there are green rolling hills with sheep and cows all over them, with palm trees and pine trees popping up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD. And huge pink flower trees too. What?! It was crazy! Never did I think I would see a huge palm tree right next to a green pine tree!! My brain was freaked out. Haha. Anyway, Mt. Maunganui, my area is a little peninsula right next to the ocean. My apartment is 3 minutes from the beach. I repeat: 3 MINUTE WALK TO THE BEACH! I will put a picture of the little walkway to it below. Also, There are tangerine, orange trees, and lemon trees everywhere. We have a lemon tree in our back yard! All I can say is I just smile at how much Heavenly Father knows me, and how I He is making my dreams come true with tangerines and the ocean all around me. My heart is full! I AM SO BLESSED!

COMPANION: 
 When I got off the bus, my companion was jumping up and down and smiling and laughing. She gave me a HUGE hug and I immediately felt loved. It was so nice. I met her previous companion, sister Ambas, from the Philipinnes, she was so cute. And very very tiny. My companions name is Sister Toi, and she is from Melbourne, Australia. So she has a lovely Australian accent. Her mom is Tongan and her dad is Maori. She is just as clueless about the maori culture as I am though, we are both learning. She is very happy and excited and an obedient missionary. I am lucky to have her as my trainer. She is very new though, she has just barely finished her training, so we are both learning together. She knows all the members in the ward and has developed a relationship with them. I hope to have that kind of relationship with them too. Heavenly Father has blessed me with a good companion.

EXPERIENCES: After I met Sister Toi, We jumped right in to the work! We dropped my bags at the apartment and went to appointments immediately! I met Ashanti, a 16 year old girl who is investigating the church, Sister Pohipi and her kids (She has been investigating the church for a long time) and then we met the ward mission leader. The last few days have been filled with meeting other members and investigators here. Almost everyone here is Maori, so I am picking up maori words fast. I have jumped into the culture and all the little quirks that go with it. We sang at a rest home on Friday with our district, which I absolutely loved. We sang hymns and maori songs. We helped a member with her gardening, the flax plant or "harakiki" in maori. We prayed before gardening, which I have never done before, and sister Rikihana described the symbolism of the gardening. It was all about family and cutting the negative things out of your life. I felt the spirit strongly in that maori home with all of the kids. We also had KFC for sunday dinner yesterday with the Sadler family. Haha. Because I am American, the maoris are a little unsure of me and look at sister toi because she fits in better. It's ok though, because I break down the walls by just smiling and laughing with them and not being afraid. It has never felt so weird to be an american before haha. 


I don't have more time, but know that I am adjusting quickly and I know I am going to love it here. I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be. Heavenly Father is always aware of you and will make you more than you are.

I Love you all,

Sister Barker