Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

We had an awesome week, and it ended with an awesome weekend! As I mentioned previously, we were commissioned to help with the Gala that was held on Saturday, and the Hangi that was needed to properly feed that masses. I'm not sure if anyone is really all that interested, but I'm going to run through the process for the Hangi. I thought it was awesome!
 First step was making sure the hole was good. Since we were needing to feed at least 200 folks, we ended up with a hole about four and a half feet deep, by about four feet in width and five feet in length. Friday night we prepped all of the meat. Which consisted of Venison, Pork, Wild Pork, 12 full chickens, and Mutton. I honestly have no idea how much there was in weight. Suffice it to say, there was A LOT of meat. Not to mention all of the veggies n such.
 Second step; heat up the stones. Earlier in the week, we had constructed a pretty massive stack of wood, and collected a load of large river rocks. The morning of the Hangi, we had to go out and set the wood on fire, with all of the rocks on top. Turns out it's actually a bit dangerous; since we had lots of new rocks, they like to explode from time to time. For the most part, tiny little bits of the rocks shoot off, but every now and again a whole rock will break into a few different pieces with a bit of a boom.
 Step three. Once the fire burned down to coals, you have to move all of the rocks into the pit. Let me take this moment to clarify. Most times, you make the fire in the pit, but since you don't want all of the coals in there, and our hole was way too deep to dig them out, we made our fire right next to the pit. So, we had to move all of the rocks into the hole, which is quite a bit more difficult than it sounds since most of the are white hot. Standing as far away as I can and moving them in with a shovel it was still way too hot for my face.
 Step four. Once all of the stones were in, we were able to put in the baskets full of meat and so forth. Pretty simple. Only thing is you have to make sure not to scrape the side, otherwise your food is going to be loaded with dirt. Meat goes on the bottom (we did pork n such first, then the chickens, which were all individually wrapped in tin foil) then the veggies, and lastly the stuffing.
 Step five; you gotta cover. First thing they put on is a sheet soaked in water. Pretty much just lay it over the top of the metal baskets and wrap it around the sides. Then you cover that with heaps of burlap sacks that have been soaking in a bucket of water all morning making sure to make them all overlapping without kicking in any dirt. After that, we laid sheets of corrugated steel on the stop, and covered them with heaps of dirt. Last thing they did was dump some water down a corner of the hole and then quickly covered it back up.
 Then all there was to do was wait. You have to keep a keen eye and make sure no steam escapes; if it does, you pile dirt on wherever it's coming from. After about four hours, it was all cooked to perfection. When taking it out you pretty much just do the same steps in reverse, just making sure not to get ANY dirt down in on the food. Ends up making the tastiest feed ever.
 They had been planning on making enough for two hundred people, but made well over 300. So my companion and I ended up with a load of it afterward, not to mention another 50kg of raw meat that they didn't need. Our freezer is full, our fridge is full, and I'm happy.
 It ended up being a blast to help with, and we were able to spend some really good time with all of the locals. I think now they pretty much consider us as part of the Kawhia Whanau.
 Hopefully the pictures work. My camera decided to die on me, so they're all from brother Apiti's camera. Not sure if they'll be too big to send, but I'll try all the same.

This picture is of the wild pork they skinned the day before. 

So on top you have the bags of stuffing and veggies. Then under that the baskets with the chicken, and under that are the bottom baskets with the pork n whatnot. 
The fire with the stones

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

I feel like I've pretty much been on vacation for the last eight weeks and I'm LOVING it, this never needs to end. Man this place is awesome.
Seems to me like there's always stuff that happens throughout the week where I think, "oh! I need to write home about this!" So I take a mental note; which quickly gets lost in the stack of imaginary paperwork within my mind. Maybe I should start taking actual notes. Almost like how I should be keeping a consistent journal every night. Speaking of which, I think I have like thirty entries. Not good.
One of the focuses that we've had since I've been here is on service. Considering that there really aren't that many people, you've got to be creative in what you do. So we've been making sure to serve the community as much as we possibly can. Our focus within that parameter for the last week was on gardens. Because of the First Presidency message about preparation, the branch decided to either get every member a garden, or get their current one up to snuff. I've never done so much gardening in my life, and we haven't even really gotten to working on actually growing anything yet. Turns out that the house we're in has a 10 x 5 meter section in the back for a garden. Only problem being that it hasn't been used in a few years, so it was just a giant weed section (Almost like that spot in the back yard back home where the trailer is now). Worst part though is that it wasn't just regular weeds. It was infested with this incredibly tenacious, vine-like grass. It pretty much looks like crab grass, but the roots are super thick vine things that go surprisingly deep and criss cross in every way imaginable. The things are so evil that if you pull it all out and put it in a big pile, it'll simply root in again and the entire pile will continue to grow. I'm pretty sure I've found the plant of the devil. Basically the first weed that came after the fall. But, with all of that having been said, we're almost through with ours, and should be able to start planting soon enough. Out of all the gardens we've done, ours was the worst. Everyone else's is pretty good, and we're looking set to have some mean veggies in the coming months. Turns out it's warm enough to grow Taro here as well, so I'm pretty stoked about that.
This coming Saturday the town is holding a little fair. My companion and I, one of the members, and one of the local Kaumatua are putting down the Hangi (a cooking pit) so I'll make sure to update you on how that all works. I'm really hoping I can remember how to do it so we can put down a Hangi once I'm back home. Mmmmm. Talk about some tasty food.
Well. That should just about do it.
Ka Kite! Elder Kurt

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 2014

We had transfers this past week, and my companion got moved to Papakura, South Auckland. My new companion is from Tonga! My first Tongan companion. His name is Elder Bourke, which is funny, since that's not Tongan at all. He's the man though. Really good guy, and heaps of fun to have around. I reckon this is the happiest that I've been on the mish, the second best time being when I was in Dinsdale with Elder Ilia about a year ago. Seems crazy to think that I've been out as long as I have. There were also a couple of more old Zone Leaders released at transfers, which shows a pattern that President has of putting his oldies out to pasture. Almost like a "you're about to die, so I'll let you do it quietly somewhere far away" type of thing (which I am totally alright with). I can think of no place I'd rather be than here in little ol Kawhia.

The weather had been getting progressively better, and along with it so have my spirits. The last few days were totally clear and beautiful. Right now is that time when the temps are right perfect, so I've been lapping it up as best I can. We ended up going out to a farm on Friday to put up a bit more fencing. Somehow putting in a few posts and trying to string up the wire ended up taking the entire afternoon, and I got totally fried. Apparently the sun is worse in NZ too, something about the ozone layer I think, so I'm pretty much doomed to either be a lobster for the next few months, or always dripping in sun screen. We'll see what happens. Last summer though was the same thing; my abnormally large forehead stood no chances. I reckon I might start a petition for us to be allowed to wear hats. Like from the super old pictures of missionaries here, when they had hats and fat beards. That'd be mean.

There's not a whole lot really going on, mostly the same old that's been happening for the last six weeks, but I am getting pretty excited for the 25th. We'll be putting down a massive Hangi for some event that the town is doing. Which hopefully means I'll be eating a lot of Hangi that day. Pray for me that it works out that way. That's one thing I want to learn how to do correctly; lay a good Hangi. It's kinda hard to explain, so you'll just have to look it up, but since it's cooked in the ground, it gets a really awesome flavour that I haven't tasted anywhere else. It all depends on if you do it right though. Some people do it in old fridges n stuff, and it doesn't turn out nearly the same. You gotta have the real thing.

Well, I'll see if I can get some pics of me and my new comp sent, but this chapel computer wants to move nothing faster than a snail's pace, so we'll see what happens.

This is out by a little town called Taharoa that's within branch boundaries. We went out there once and the country is beautiful! Not to mention the beach out there too. Hopefully we'll go out again, but it might be a while, since it's over an hour away. 

This was after a round of basketball. My comp is on the left. The one on the right is a non member that comes and plays, and the other two are members from the branch. Not a bad little crew.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 6, 2014

We had a smashing week, I reckon. Well, really it was about average, but we had a pretty awesome miracle. I've been here for pretty much six weeks now, and there's still a few people that we're trying to catch. Seems like it never works out though. Right as we're going to their house my companion will see them driving into town, or something along those lines. This past week though we were finally able to catch one of these individuals. We went out to his house on Friday, but upon arriving and seeing no cars, we assumed that he wasn't around. I started to turn around, but was told to stop since the member that was with us wanted to go talk to his sister that lives just next door. Only a moment after he left a guy came down to our car, and my companion got super excited. Turns out it was the guy that we'd initially come for. Apparently his partner (Oh I dislike that term, but that's what everyone says here. Makes me think of some really cheesy marriage vow or something, "and my partner in crime." Yuck. But it's been so long since I've heard anything else I honestly don't know what else it'd be called. All you need to know is that if it's a partner, you know they're not married) Anyway. His partner had left him a few weeks back, so his life had gone crazy. Somehow she managed to take all three cars and bounced to who knows where. We had a good chat with him, and were able to get into talking about the gospel. Turns out he's been praying every night, and has been seeing answers to his prayers. He ended up coming to church yesterday and loved it. Funny how everything turns out too, since we were on the lesson about the Atonement in Sunday School. He paid attention through the whole thing, and said he really enjoyed it. Afterward he mentioned how he felt a really good vibe, and that he'll for sure be back next week.
It seems like things always go pretty mediocre, then out of nowhere something really awesome will happen. It feels really good to be somewhere that's so small, and still be able to do just as much work as any of the big cities I've been in. For some reason Kawhia just has a really good spirit, and I reckon I've never been happier.  Elder Kurt

With my current companion in Kawhia