May 24 thru 29, 2010
We have had a very interesting start on our mission.
Before we left the Salt Lake airport, we met a fellow from Australia. He was Scottish, but had been living in Australia for many years. He asked us where we were going, and we told him Perth and he said that the Mission President is a good friend of his. And he said to ask him this question: “What’s it all mean?”, a little joke between them. His name is Ian Daley and he is from Brisbane. He had been in Salt Lake on business for a few days and was returning home. He talked to us about Australia for a while. He was on the same flight from Salt Lake to LA, but a different Flight to Brisbane. We sat in the 17th row, the last row, with just under 100 passengers. Our layover in LA was a little stressful. We had to hurry off the plane and get to our next departure gate very quickly. We didn’t have much time to spare. The 14 hour flight to Brisbane was not very enjoyable at all. I was really crowded, no room for my long legs and feet. We sat in the 48th row of 75 rows of ten across, with between 650 and 750 passengers. We tried to sleep, but that only lasted for short naps at a time. By the time we got to Brisbane, we were worn out (elapsed time from salt Lake: 18.5 hours).
Then the nightmare really started! When we landed in Brisbane, we first had to clear Customs which took forever – huge, long lines, moving slowly. (By the way, there were no problems with medications or any of the food we had brought.) We then had to collect ALL of our luggage and report to the Qantas domestic flight counter. At this point we had less than 30 minutes to make our next flight. Qantas then put us on a bus, baggage and all, for about a 5 mile drive over to the Domestic Flight Terminal (in a completely different building miles from where we landed). We rechecked our baggage and again went through security. Needless to say, by this time we had missed our flight. (Just a humorous note: we kept explaining that we had a tight schedule for our connecting flight, but no one would allow us to cut corners.) We were rescheduled on the next flight three hours later.
We needed to notify the Perth Mission Office that we would be late. But somehow the number lock on the laptop had gotten pushed and I was unable to log in. But that’s where I had the email address to the Mission Office and had forgotten to put in their phone number. By the time I discovered the problem, the battery was nearly dead. I sent them off a quick note, and that’s when I was able to email you. Then the battery died.
No more emails!
The flight from Brisbane was much more comfortable, with more leg room and not as crowded. This time we were on row 40, with 8 seats across, but many empty seats. (Elapsed time was now nearly 30 hours since we left SLC.) We were met by the Mission President and his wife who took us meet other staff at the Mission Office, then to their home for dinner and SLEEP!!! But our bodies thought it was time to get up at 2 a.m.
The next morning, Thursday, was consumed with getting our Australian driver’s licenses and government permits to work with children, which is now required by law for anyone working with children. During the afternoon and early evening, we were free to go to the mall to purchase adapters, some food, and to settle into our flat, or apartment. Oh, by the way, they kicked out two elders from this flat because ours won’t be free for 12 days, when another senior couple goes home.
Then yesterday, Friday, they started our training in the Office, which was overwhelming. We then needed to return to the mall to purchase a wireless broadband internet connection, only to discover that the mall closes every night at 5 p.m. except for Thursday nights. It is definitely fall here, because it is dark by 5:30 or 6:00.
So today, our Preparation Day or P Day, we made to the mall to finally purchase wireless internet so we can send emails. Because we had discovered on Friday morning that we had no hot water in the apartment and were unable to fix it, we had to chase to clear across town to sister missionaries’ flat to take a much, much needed shower with HOT WATER.
Dad reports that “it ain’t easy driving on the wrong side of the road.” We haven’t had any accidents YET, but a few horn honkings and near misses. He’s having a hard time with the turn signals on the right side of the steering column and the gear shift operated by the left hand, and he’s not very ambidextrous. But his navigator (Sister Nielsen) is improving steadily in her directional skills.
So far we’re surviving, but having a great time! May the Lord bless and protect each of you. All our love….
Mom and Dad (or Elder and Sister Nielsen)