Greetings from Down Under!

We asked for Australian contributions to FYI, and we received dozens. So, in an effort to give you an authentic feeling for your Aussie neighbors, this month we’ve devoted the entire FYI section to those living down under. We received fascinating info from parents, teachers, advisers, and kids all over the continent. Here’s just a sampling:

Fisher of Men

Hi! I’m Bryan Rogers from the Bundaberg District of the Brisbane Mission. Ever since I was small I’ve loved fishing and had the desire to become a fisherman. Over the past three years I have been working on fishing vessels doing trawling, net fishing, and line fishing as an assistant fisherman.

Christ called fishermen to be his Apostles (see Matt. 4:19). Now, instead of being a fisher of fish I want to follow their example and become a fisher of men. I hope to be called on a mission sometime this year.

But They’re Cousins

It’s great to have a best friend in the ward, and it’s an added bonus when you’re related. Susan Price and Cheryl Rea are 13-year-old cousins in the Ipswich First Ward, in Queensland, and they have a good time setting examples for each other and those around them.

Both are school captains at their local primary schools, and have age championships trophies in sports. They’ve also won awards for Highland dancing, an interest they share.

They also share an interest in missionary work. Susan is the Beehive president, and Cheryl is her first counselor. They’ve helped one of their school friends join the Church, and her older sister soon followed. They said that experience brought them great joy.

Since they don’t attend the same school, they try to spend as much time together on the weekends as they possibly can. Cheryl lives on a ten-acre farm just outside of Ipswich, where she enjoys riding her horse. Susan lives in Ipswich, and she enjoys playing the piano and swimming.

Third-World Tour

It’s one thing to hear on the news about problems of third-world countries. It’s another to experience those problems firsthand. But that’s exactly what Kylie Hargreaves, 17, of Devonport Ward in Tasmania did last year when she was chosen to represent Tasmania on a two-week study tour of Zimbabwe in Africa.

“I learned that many places face enormous challenges just to have food for everyone, just to have good living conditions, just to have the opportunity for people to work,” Kylie says. “But I also made some wonderful friends, and learned that people can be happy without a lot of material possessions. I also learned that, wherever you go, we’re all sons and daughters of God.”

Mission Minded

I’m Carolyn Neave of Brisbane. As one of my Laurel projects, I decided to get very involved in missionary work. My friend Elizabeth Smith and I set up dates with the sister missionaries and went tracting with them.

The first day was hot, but spiritually uplifting. Working with these wonderful servants of the Lord I learned not only what it means to be a missionary, but also how to cope when a member of your own family goes on a mission.

My big brother Sean left for his mission to Adelaide in November, and by being close to the missionaries in our ward, I was able to know that my brother is in good hands—the Lord’s. Although I miss not having him around, I know he’s doing what’s right, and he knows I love him.

I also learned that missionary work doesn’t bless you only if you bring souls unto Christ, but it blesses you for trying.

Thanks, Mum and Dad!

Just for the fun of it, the youth of the Knox Ward in Melbourne decided to show their appreciation for their parents by treating them to dinner. They organized a special evening they called, “The Fabulous Fifties and the Surging Sixties.”

A youth committee selected a menu that would fit the theme; then a large group prepared and served a three-course meal. They played music from the appropriate decades, and parents and kids alike were encouraged to dance. For the adults, it brought back fond memories. For the kids, it made new ones.

Olympic Aspirations

Rowena Bright, 13, is already a champion alpine skier and all-around sportswoman with state and national titles to her credit. Last year at the Youth Winter Games at San Candido, Italy, she finished tenth in the super giant slalom.

Rowena is from a small, four-family branch in Cooma, New South Wales. But if her dreams come true, she’ll be known far and wide for her swimming and triathlon prowess as she competes at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and also for her skiing abilities at the 2002 Winter Olympics, which she hopes will be held in Utah.

“A line from one of my favorite hymns, ‘for God and others live,’ sums up my aim in life,” says Rowena. “I feel Heavenly Father has blessed me with many talents and the ability to magnify them.”

Surf’s Up!

My name is Adam Roper and I live in Busselton, Western Australia, with my mum and dad and one of my three brothers (the other two are married and live in Perth). I am 14 years old and in the teachers quorum. My hobbies are computers and surfing.

Busselton is a beachside tourist town about 350 kilometers south of Perth. Dad and Mum have a pottery business, which I help with sometimes. For the first 12 years we lived here, we had to travel 140 kilometers every Sunday and Tuesday for Church activities.

Now we have a branch here in town, with 53 members. Apart from myself, there is only one other active young person. I really enjoy being in a small branch because you get to do a lot more things, and I really feel you are helping the Lord’s work go ahead. My testimony has grown since I started seminary, and since I started helping to reactivate some of the youth.

My dad teaches my seminary class at our house. At first it was hard reading in the morning, especially with my dyslexia. But I have been blessed with improved schoolwork, and I know that the good marks I’m now getting are because I have put the extra effort into doing seminary.

At school there are only five LDS students. All my friends know I’m a Mormon, and they don’t hassle me about the standards I keep. They don’t ask me to do things on Sunday. On other days, at least twice a week, I like to go surfing with my brother and my dad, although he can’t come as much as we’d like since he became the branch president.

I love the gospel. When you’re not around a lot of LDS youth, it makes you think about the example you set for your friends, so you try harder.

The Warmth of Members

by Marilyn Bathern as told to Crystal Schneider

Elliot, my hometown of 600 people, is just a speck in the vast scrub and eucalyptus tree landscape of Australia’s Northern Territory. I was 13 years old when I walked over to the tiny LDS chapel there.

The elders asked me if I was interested in going to church. Every night the missionary couple, the Grays, cooked up some popcorn or treats. Occasionally they’d have a big barbie (barbecue). There were heaps of fun and games. I liked being with these people, and I liked the warm friendship I felt.

A few months later, I boarded the bus for Alice Springs, ten hours’ drive south. My new home would be St. Phillip’s College during years seven through twelve of my education. Before I left, Sister Gray gave me a note with the branch president’s address on it.

In Alice, I found the branch president’s home—a roomy, pine cottage with five kids scurrying around the front yard. I handed the note to the branch president’s wife, Sister Marriot. Over the next few weeks, I again felt warm and wonderful as the Marriots became my home away from home. And I liked the warmth of the other Latter-day Saints who surrounded me, like my best friend Jeni Lee; the St. Phillip’s house parent, Sister Williams; and the Webster family.

I knew the Church was right. At age 15, with my parents’ permission, I was baptized. Now I’m 20, and I’m back in Elliot finishing up my training as a health worker. I’d like to get into Uni (Northern Territory University).

The warmth of members brought me into the gospel. Their example lighted my way to the truth. But now I know it’s my responsibility to strengthen my own testimony and get close to Jesus.

Taking the Cake

Seminary students in the Eight Mile Plains Ward, Brisbane Stake, get a special treat when they memorize their 25 Scripture-Mastery scriptures. Their teacher, Sister Gretta Holzworth, makes an ice cream cake for them. Students agree that it’s fun receiving the reward, though it’s an unusual breakfast following a 6:30 A.M. class.

Cadets of the Year

Two Brisbane youth recently completed a unique double. As members of the 11th Regional Army Cadet Unit, Michelle Park and Rebecca Hollis received awards as cadets of the year at their annual ceremonial parade. Michelle and Rebecca are the only Church members in the cadet unit, which covers the 16 high schools in the Logan City area.

“I’ve been told the other cadets really respect us for the standards we keep,” Rebecca says. “They know we don’t smoke or drink or swear.”

“Just the same,” Michelle says, “it’s nice to have Rebecca around to help me maintain my standards.”