Sunday, December 13, 2015

6 December 2015 - Good Hard Working Week!‏

Another good solid week of missionary work. The most exciting being that we could be having a baptism this Saturday. I have mentioned Tekani to yous before. He is a great boy and we have been teaching him for a while. His father George has been a great help with the work. I love teaching them because they are diligent with their commitments. We always have think of commitments that are meaningful and achievable. Sometimes as missionaries we get to general with commitments. "Oh just read the pamphlet" or "read the introduction to the Book of Mormon". These are good but they are not the best depending on the needs of the investigators and how the commitment is extended. I always love to find specific scriptures that I feel will be meaningful to them and then write down questions on a sticky note that they can think about and find the answers to as they read it. It is great to see investigators keep commitments and give great positive reports. It doesn't happen unless you have an investigator. It is rewarding to watch people grow in faith as they keep commitments that you extend.

We are slightly hesitant about the baptism coming up this weekend. Only reason being is because they don't want to feel rushed or un prepared. Best thing we can do is teach them a bear testimony that they are prepared, so they can feel the Spirit. :) I don't want them to feel pressured into doing it because I am going home... I would be just as happy if was baptized after my mission than if I was there. My ultimate goal as a Missionary is that people are for the right reasons, and understand fully what kind of a commitment they are making. It is going to be great none the less!

I don't think I will really be able to buy any souvenirs, however I don't really have a strong desire to be honest. Don't know why, I think it may simply because many of the "cool things" You can get you can also get online for cheaper at home. I will see what I can do though. I would love to share more of NZ with you guys. May not have to much stuff to take home, other than what is most important, myself, my testimony, scriptures, journals, and clothes :)

I am excited to come home. I am sure it will be a wonderful experience. I don't really look at it as ending. Maybe my purpose a bit. However though I look forwards to applying what I have learned on my mission. Set some great goals and work hard towards them! I love my mission, it has been a wonderful experience, and there is still more to come! I have one more week left to devote ALL every second of everyday of my time and attention to the Lord. I am looking forwards to doing my best!

I know that this that our Father in Heaven Loves us. So much it is difficult to describe. I am grateful for the chance that I have had share my testimony with everyone that I meet. Especially of Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us out of love. Everything our Father in Heaven has done for us, has simply been out of love. 2 Nephi 26:23-24

 Love you all!
Elder Ward

 New Zealand is so Green!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

30 November 2015 - Chicken the Pox

This week was pretty interesting. We had a missionary come down with
Chicken Pox... He ended up staying in our flat while we stayed in other
Elders flat we could avoid having him around to many missionaries. There
was one Elder out of the 2 companionship that was not vaccinated, so he was
most likely to get it. I have been vaccinated, so I haven't been to
concerned about getting it. But there where thoughts going through my head
like what if I got it and I could not fly home?...extension? Haha. Everyone
is healthy though now. The Elder that was sick was so happy to get out of
the flat. He was in there for nearly a whole week!

Anyways, this week we have been working hard as usual. We have been
diligent with working with some of the same people despite them not
progressing as much as we envision for them. We are always seeking to
help them in anyway. I think the best thing for them is to simply just
feel the Spirit.
It is the spirit that softens peoples hearts changes desires. We do through
sharing meaningful thoughts, and inviting them to act.

We had an awesome lesson with Tekani one of our most solid progressing
investigators. His Father George is LA, however he has been coming back
really strong! His love and support for his son has made it an amzing
experience for us to teach them both together. We often have lessons at the
chapel, but even better is the family that is fellowshipping them. We have
had a FHE with them and the Spirit is so strong when the members are the
ones leading the FHE and helping the investigators know what it is like to
live the gospel in their lives. This week though we taught the 3rd
lesson in PMG. It was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was awesome! We
invited to Takani to be baptized, however though they did not commit
to a Solid date to them wanting to be more ready. We assured them that
they would be and that as they pray, and continue to learn they will
know it is right for them and the desire will be there. We are excited
and prayerful for it. We hope that on the 5th or the 12th things will
be in order for the Baptism.

I think that I will have to leave it at that for this week.

No pictures this week sorry. We are at a different e-mail shop and I
don't trust the computers.

Looks like you guys had a great time in Rome! Boy that must have been
interesting. The Temple is looking good too. I remember 2 years ago I
took a selfy in fornt of it and it was no where near where it is now!
Very cool.

Love You all,
Elder Ward

Sunday, November 29, 2015

23 November 2015 - Another Week of Hard Work

This week has been good. Lots of good hard work. Despite the area being small, it is interesting to see how we are still managing to stay quite busy. I have noticed that in larger areas missionaries can tend to think that they have more work to do in their areas. However I would like to say that this mind-set is not a bit faulty. In a smaller area you focus more on the individuals, realizing that we have to work with these people despite maybe thinking that there are others that we could go find and see. You focus much more on their needs. If you see some of the same people walking on the street, what do you do? Keep talking with them. Just because you have spoken with them before does not mean that you have nothing meaningful to share with them today. I love trying to figure out creative and different ways to talk with people. It is great to have a laugh with them on the street to show them that we are normal people as well.

This week though, we have been working with a lot of Less-Actives, it has been great. If we don't have any appointments, we are always looking for someone to teach and assist in their journey back to their Father in Heaven. We taught this one Less-Active young man named Sid. He was about 15 or so. We taught him outside on the grass because there was no one home old enough for us to go in. We had a great lesson on prayer. We asked him questions about how he was doing personally. He said that he was only praying every so often. Nothing to consistent. It was great to explain to him how important it really is to pray and talk with our Heavenly Father. We did a little demonstration or visual with our ties. You either end of the tie in each hand and then try to put a not in it. It seems impossible however if you fold your arms like you are to pray and then grab the tie and then unfold them, you make a not in the tie. He really enjoyed the small demonstration to go along with the lesson. We where thinking of a commitment that we could leave with him. I didn't want it to be boring or meaningless. Like giving him something to read. It is not to appealing for a young boy. With a stroke of inspiration (it was the Spirit that gave us the inspiration) we invited him to go teach his Brothers and show him what we showed with him.

When we followed up with him and we where elated to hear that he had shown his Brothers and also shared with them about prayer to. Very often we come back and they don't do it. We had another lesson, this time more centred on the scriptures, and learned about Lehi's Vision. We showed him a picture and explained it to him and how important and meaningful it is for us. He really enjoyed it. Once again we gave the picture book to him and challenged him to read 1 Nephi Chapter 8 and then share it with his family. He also expressed a desire to pray as a family, and we encouraged him to continue working with his family. He is a great kid!

Congrats Stuart on getting the Melchezidek Priesthood that must have been a real surprise for sure. Look forwards to hearing about your call and also doing some training when I get back. Have you watched those videos I sent a link to? That would be really good for you to. I will keep following up for sure!

Love you all heaps!
Elder Ward

The picture is with one of my favourite missionaries. Elder Schetzel is in the Zone and it is great to be with him again. He was actually serving for a while in Niue, for a bit. He loved it out there. He has some awesome stories! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

15 November 2015 - Letter Home

In this week we have accomplished a lot. As missionaries one way report on how our efforts have been going is through Key Indicators. Like how many lessons we have taught during the week, how many people we have talked with, how many people we have baptized during the week as well. For this week you could say that our numbers where a bit low. However though we did have a few moments we felt where very valuable though.

One being a visit with a Less-Active Brother who has been wuite shy torwards us. We met with him once before when we popped by, however he didn't say to much and we ended up talking to his Mother more than him. He was home by himself with just the Kids. He invited us in and we chatted up a storm. He apparently doesn't have a concern as to why he doesn't come to church. But he has to cause he doesn't come. He even told us that he wasn't being lazy about it either. Didn't really make sense, but we didn't want to interrogate him by any means. I did note that he was more open when his mum wasn't around...The most important par tof the visit though was inviting him to start acting and move forwards. We extended a challenge for him to read the BoM in 90 days and he responded with a solid yes. So we will be organizing that for him. If we can help him feel the Spirit I know that he will progress torwards bigger commitments such as coming to church. He is married to one of our investigators. You could say that he is the one that is holding her back. We where pleased with the miracle of encountering him and helping him!

What makes a successful missionary is not how many people he baptizes, but his commitment to serving his mission and bringing others to Christ. There are many things that are done on a mission that are never counted or reported. We worked our hardest this week, so I am happy with what we where able to accomplish because it was our best!

That is about all the time I have for today. The visa stuff has taken quite a bit of time... So busy, it is so good!

Elder Ward

Elder Falatau turned 21. So the Elders and Sisters in a District organised a bit of a surprise party for him. He didn't tell anyone about it, but they still found out though. Elder Falatau doesn't like birthdays to much... All well he got one anyways!

08 November 2015 - Transfers....

Not feeling to well right now. Just a little sick to the stomach. but I am still going to send home an awesome letter home!

Elder Falatau and I worked diligently this week for sure. We had transfers this week, so being assigned as a Zone Leader we where busy with renting a trailer and planning for how we are going to be moving all the Elders and Sisters around. It was to much fun. Elder Falatau and I are staying. So I will finish my mission with Elder Falatau. He is a great missionary and I am happy to end with him at my side. After the transfer meeting though President Balli and I spoke briefly. He gave me some great council. He put both his hands on my shouldlers and looked into my eyes and said something along the lines of "Elder Ward you are a great missionary and leader, you have shown this in the past, and just simply enjoy your last transfer, just enjoy it and the work". I appreciated it greatly because it was what I needed to hear for sure. Often times I can be very self critical, and simply to hard on myself. President knows that about me. He has been able to give me great advice for me and help me over come this personal challenge. I have improved but it can still be hard at times. Something that I will probably have to work on even after my mission to as well.

So I am looking forwards to this transfer for sure. This week we where able to get 5 new investigators, which is awesome! We have had a few investigators loose their momentum and just are progressing like we would like them top. But in there time they will get there! 2 of the investigators came form the Less Active sister that we met last Sunday. Her sons sat in on the lessons and they where interested and we shared with them a bit about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it will bless there lives just by simply living by the principles. Their names are John and William. They where never baptized, so we hope to strengthen there mother who has the most tender testimony, and then help her boys really get involved. Should be good! Something that really helps in missionary work is bearing your testimony. Or witnessing to those that you are teaching that what you have taught is true. It is powerful and really invites the spirit. I remember at a few points during the lesson that Sister James(the boys mother) doubted that she could feel more of the spirit at that it would be able to help her. At that moment I bore my testimony and reassured her that if she is on the pathway back to her Heavenly Father the Spirit will be able to help her with her returning to the church and give her peace and comfort. IT was awesome!

I have sent pictures of my previous companion who is now serving as a Zone Leader to! only 12 weeks out on his mission! His trainee is now training. It is pretty cool! you could say that I have a great grandson! We usually consider those who train like Fathers, and those being trained like sons. So because my trainees trainee is training, I am now a Grand Father! Haha fun mission Language.

At the end of the transfer meeting, missionaries gather together in a circle with the new missionaries in the center. We sing the mission song and have some good fun!
 President Balli invited me to speak at transfer meeting as well. It was a cazy looking at all the new missionaries and thinking that I was in there shoes nearly 2 years ago! I shared with them my testimony, and a few small thoughts as well pertaining to mission life.

Love You all and thanks for the e-mails,
Elder Ward

Sunday, November 8, 2015

1 Nov 2015 - A great week for the Zone!‏

To start off I am elated to report that the investigator that I interviewed last week was baptized! :) I was happy for her and I was glad that she did not harden her heart and turn away. When I interviewed her for the final time, it was great to hear how she understood the importance of the commandments. I felt sorry for her that she did have to wait, but she was so much more prepared! It was a great feeling to know that the faith on our part, the Elders teaching, the investigators, and as well with her family; all ended in a greater appreciation for the sacredness of baptism. Her husband even came up to me (who the Elder previously did not have a great relationship with) and personally thanked me after she had been baptized. It was great to see the change in him, and hopefully it will lead to him changing and joining the church in the future! Miracles do happen!

In the Zone there where 2 other Baptisms as well. One was a young boy, and the other was a Young Woman who had been preparing for a while and now could be baptized because she had parental permission. As leaders we are to be at the baptisms to make sure everything goes smoothly. So it was awesome! The only down side is that we don't get to spend time in our own area working with our own investigators.

The work in our area is still challenging in it's own way. I will share one miracle though. We received a miracle from some missionaries that where in another part of Auckland. WE went to go contact them however though there was no one by the name that we had. Interestingly enough when the lady opened the door, she said "Oh, hey Elders"... A clear indication that she was a member or at least at least a less active. After we learned that there was no one by the name we said "Oh, then it is inspired that we still met you instead!" We got to know her a bit and get a feeling for where she was in her life. She did express that she did not want to come to church because she was doing things that made her not worthy(WoW). When we learned that was the concern we then talked about how she should come despite where she was in her life. Church, is just simple a hospital for sinners, or a mechanics shop, not a car show room. Often times that is what it can be in other churches, and so many people have tha perception about church. We look forwards to going back and visiting with her and the rest of her family as they may not be members, however ready to listen and learn about the gospel. Certainly a miracle prepared by our Heavenly Father. Investigators may loose intrest, or become a former, however, there always seems to be more people prepared!

I am thankful for the church, for how it has been restored through a loving Father in Heaven. I certainly have a testimony, and know it is true!

Thanks for your e-mails, love you all heaps!

Congrats Madelyn, and I loved the costumes to. Halloween isn't to big here. There where still kids though doing it.

Got a picture of our Zone!

Elder Ward

Sunday, November 1, 2015

25 October 2015 - Stress...

This week was pretty stressful. I can tend to be one that get stressed really easily and then thinks too hard about things. Something that I think I will have to work on for the rest of my life! It has been good the mission has taught to help manage it.

Moving on though, I would have to say that the work has become slightly challenging in our area. Our area is actually quite small, so by now we are thoroughly familiar with it and many of the people. We have seen some people that have we have had great hope and faith for fall through. It has been tough in that perspective, however we do have someone who is preparing for the 21st of Nov. Her name is Shaniqua, she is 17, and she has been contact with members for a while. She very bright and intelligent. She doesn't have a whole lot of knowledge about the gospel her self though. She is a sponge though and soaking up everything we teach. Her Brothers and Sisters are bright as well. Many of the times the parents don't look after there kids, and so they are not as well behaved. But it was just a different experience working with these kids for sure!The only thing that can make things challenging is when they are being handed between parents. Some days they are there, and others they are elsewhere in Auckland. She has been keeping commitments.

Just been really working on keeping my faith up and my vision of what can happen. discouragement really is no good. I have been discouraged before and boy does the world seem like a dark place when you are discouraged!

Love you all.

And yes thanks for the ring. I got an interesting picture with it.

We had a Zone Devotional this morning. It went well. We did an activity in PMG on pg 124 where we split into groups. It was great, everyone seemed to enjoy it and learned lots. This Elder Manu, he came into the mission with me, he will be going home with me as well. I am also starting to wear contacts again. Got tired of glasses.

Elder Ward

Sunday, October 25, 2015

19 October 2015 - Comp Studies

Being assigned as a leader in the mission is fun! You get all sorts of different opportunities. One of them this week was having comp study with Senior couples within the Zone. We got to drive to their apartments. They lived on the 8th floor or so. From it you could see the NZ MTC! I nabbed a picture of it real quick. It is crazy though because I remember looking out at those buildings when I was in the MTC, and now I was in them looking back. Boy have I come a long way on my mission.

We had a great companionship study with them and we talked about the work happening in our areas. Elder and Sister Martin certainly have a different mission style than us! They don't really proselyte like us and they work with the Less- Active ward members often. They can get sometimes get into homes that we missionaries simply would not be able to. They are more respected, and so people treat them differently. After getting to know them, having a companionship study, I walked out thinking to myself that I would love to serve a mission as a Senior Missionary. Elder Martin cracked a great joke, he said" I am the only one that is allowed to kiss my companion". I laughed so hard!  They were even kind enough to make us a breakfast so we took lunch right after our studies. It was nice to have some good old American pancakes!

In our area though Elder Falatau and I have gotten very familiar with it. We know the people that have potential to be baptized, and we are looking forwards to this week because we are going to be giving investigators some specific dates! We have been teaching a Fijian Indian family. It is lead by a solo mum who has been through a lot. She has a Muslim background. She loves the church though because she has received a lot of help form the church and members. you have to teach things sooo simply. It is great though. She is progressing slowly! Her name is Pinky, it is a version of her real name!

I also got your B-day package it is awesome! I will save the cakes for my Birthday, and I think that that I will save the messages for then too. I love the water colour idea. I didn't get it at first though. I had to slow down and think a bit!

Thanks for the e-mails. Love you all and thanks so much!

Elder Ward

12 October 2015 - This Week

I will have to say that being assigned as a Zone Leader is quite fun. I love going on trade-offs with the Elders. Had some great ones this week! I have included pictures that I went on trade-offs with. 

Investigator wise though we havn't seen a whole lot of action. We have some people that are certainly prepared for baptism, however though they all have their own concerns. Something that can be really frustrating as a missionary, is when people are simply not open with you. Sometimes they have you come and visit simply because they do not want to be you to be offended. Or you are with the member family with the investigator in their home (they will be partners with someone that is a member or married to) and the members love and interact with the lesson, but the investigator is relatively quite. We have some wonderful people who have certainly been prepared. We are planning to have someone ready by the end of October.

One little miracle that I noticed was visiting the home of our recent converts. The spirit in their home has changed! Their father who was Less-Active was very joyous and loved being around his kids. He was a more optimistic and full of life! He even got a Saturday project going for building a porch for him and his family. In between the conferences we went over to their home real quick to help move the wood real quick and zipped back to watch more conference! They did come for one of the Sunday sessions as well. They have little kids so it can be challenging at times for them. It was great though. We are working with the mother of the family. She is a non-member, but she has been sitting in on the lessons. We know that she loves the message and even has a desire to be baptized, however she is quiet and doesn't say too much. She will answer the questions we ask, however she doesn't seem to be self motivated in progressing towards baptism. I hope that makes sense.

I loved conference. It was so cool! I look forwards to ponderizing. Stuart is doing, so I figured I better do it! Should be great. I can never get enough of it. I was saddened that it was the last one for my mission, however though... I very much look forward to the next one. 

This week I also had my last interview with President Balli. He is a great man! I look up to him a lot. He gave me some great counsel, and of course there will be one more before I go home... I look forwards to the time I still have left to serve. I see it as being so precious!

Love you all thanks for your e-mails and your help with applications Mother!

Elder Ward

Sunday, October 11, 2015

5 Oct 2015 - A Baptism! Tew!‏

This week it will be a bit brief. Still getting to know the area a bit. My goodness, I have gone from an area that can take's a 45 min to drive across to an area that takes 5 min. I am in the heart of the Auckland Suburbs as at the beginning of my mission. I to miss the beautiful landscapes up North for sure. However though, it is not about the area or the Geography, it is about the people. The people are different down here as well. They are mostly Samoan, so I get to repickup some Samoan again.

Needless to say there are A LOT of Less Active families here. Often times children will go Less Active, get partners, and then later in life come back, get married, and their partners, with the kids get baptized. That is an idea of how the work goes at times. The members love to go and visit people as well. They love to come out with us to teach. One big challenge can be trying to set appointments with investigators, and then have members come out with us as well. Always a fun challenge, that requires diligent communication.

For this weekend, I had the opportunity of Baptising Mya Aniterea, while another missionary Baptized Malachi Aniterea. This family has been worked with by missionaries for a while, and these kids are just awesome. Elder Falatau and I where transferred on and we continued where they left off on. Their mother as well is not a member. She has been sitting in on the lessons and we are seeking to help her become serous in investigating the church. you can see that she loves it, however she seems to have some kind of concern that makes her be a bit reserved and not as open as we would as missionaries like. Maybe it is just the way she is, we will keep visiting the family though. So once again another baptism as a result of the members being diligent and also the previous missionaries. What a blessing! Now a bit of a disappointment though is that I do not have a picture. It was taken with someone else's camera. I will get it form them soon. The non-members Family came as well and they seemed to be intrigued by the baptism. Hopefully they felt the spirit and may turn to learn more about the gospel in the future!

So that is a bit about the week. Oh I also got a chance to go on trade off with the Assistants as well. They are amazing missionaries. I loved it. learned so much form them for sure. It is very neat serving as a Zone Leader. It is different, but I love it. It can be stressing and challenging though as well.

Glad Dad got home safe!

Love you all, miss you to.

Elder Ward

Sunday, October 4, 2015

28 September 2015 - More Change, More growing....‏

You could probably tell that in my last e-mail that I was a bit disappointed in being transferred. Well I think that I would have done great work with Elder Hixon. Up in Whangarei I look forwards to hearing how things are going for him and Wards that I have in up there. The main reason as to why I was transferred, well I think it was because I would have simply not grown and reached my potential. I was getting quite comfortable in Whangarei. I knew the area that I was watching ovwer as a District Leader, and also many of the missionaries. We were all great friends and working hard. With anything that we are trying to improve in, once we become comfortable, that is when our progression beings to slow down. Needless to say, I am in a new Ward, new companion, and a new assignment form the mission President.... All evidence points to it I feel.

I am serving in the "Champion Ward" as some of the members put it. It is called the Favona Ward. It is located in South Auckland, where there is lots of people to talk to, teach, reactivate, and baptize. This is one of the highest baptizing zones in all the mission! Even New Zealand it has been said. I am quite nervous with those statements being made... However though I know that Heavenly Father has put me here because he knows that I through his help and my wonderful companion can do it! There is a  potential of 18 people being baptized in the coming month, the previous missionaries have identified. Not that they are going to be baptized, but it is a goal, and it is good to keep in mind the potential that is here so we don't think for one minute that there is no one to prepare in the near future. I will be busy the next little while on my mission! 

At the moment we all ready have to 2 children named Malachi and Mya, who are going to be baptized on the 3rd of October. You remember my previous companion Elder Rogers, he just went home and finished. He has finished in this very ward that I am serving now! So he was teaching these kids as well. It feels good, and an honour to carry on where he left off.

Over all I am excited. A bit busier now with another Assignment. But hey it is a lot of fun as well!

Sorry for no pictures this week. I will send a few home next week!

Love You all and thanks for the e-mails!

Elder Ward

Sunday, September 27, 2015

21 September 2015 - Miracles, and Crushing News...‏

Probably one of the biggest miracles I have yet to witness on my mission. Borther Sam Randell is a great man. His brother was baptized into the Church a while back a few years ago and has made some amazing changes in his life. His brother Jeff is now a part the first counselor in the Ward he resides in. It just so happens that Sam his brother lives in the Hikurangi area and that he has been visiting with the missionaries for quite some time previously. Elder Hixon and I where able to start off with a great relationship. We visit the family just about weekly throughout the 6 week transfer. Teaching the Doctrines that we felt inspired would help Brother Randell progress. Everything from the Priesthood and how he would be able to bless his family with it, to Repentance and how we can change. Those are 2 lessons that really stick out in my mind. We had received a text form Brother Randell that told us that he really wanted to change and be baptized. We thought that was his wife's phone at first, however we later learned that it was him, and that they just share the same phone. Just after P-day, Elder Hixon went with another missionary in the District named Elder Thorpe, who is currently with my previous companion Elder Mahreza. We where on splits at the time. I let Elder Hixon go because I new that he would be powerful in the lesson and that he could certainly use some more wonderful experience, in leading lessons out. We did't fully know what was going on. I went with Elder Mahreza and tried to visit a few other people in the area and waited in anticipation. At the conclusion of the day we where elated to hear that Brother Sam Randell had been set with a Baptismal date of the 24th of October. He explained in the lesson that he was sick of his life style of addictions, and he wanted to let go of all that and strengthen his family in the gospel. It has been a shock for everyone in the area! It was a humbling experience for his brother as well. Through out the week it seemed like Heavenly Father was making everything fall in to place. Members visited on their own time and spoke with Brother Randell about his baptism. They gave him a priesthood blessing to help him put an end to his addictions. It was truly amazing to see his change of heart. He even could see the change within himself. He new that he now had a desire to be baptized! Later on in the week we went over to teach the lesson of the Restoration. It was great once again to see the miracles be poured upon all of our heads, as he gained a better understanding of where the church comes from and how it has divinely been restored! I think that it can be similar to Alma 19:14 and how the Lord poured his spirit out upon King Lamoni and all those who where converted. What a choice experience on the mission! I feel so privileged to be part of it as well.

There was a missionary fireside at the Stake Center here in Whangarei. It was probably the most powerful one that I have been to on my mission. Needless to say I saw lot's of good friends there at it and I loved it.We met an Investigator named Abraham who we have not been able to see for the past little while. It has been about 2 weeks since we last saw him. we just could not contact him. He was not responding to texts and calls. When I saw him at the Fireside I was so happy that he was there! The only thing was that he had cut all of his facial hair and the hair on top of his head. I didn't understand at first why he would do this. After the fireside I got up to talk to him some more. He explained to Elder Hixon and I, that he had just been diagnosed with cancer... I was shocked, my heart sunk! Abraham you would think is normal healthy 18 year old boy that looks like he is 26. He plays rugby and works hard to. He also mentioned that he had broken up with his partner which he had 1 child to. In that moment I was full of a dread. Abraham quickly woke me up and said "Bro I am not dead yet". I then realized that I needed to change my attitude and be positive around him, and encouraging. He was doing it so why couldn't I? That was some of the crushing news that I received. It was tough. But I hope and pray he will accept the gospel and be baptized!

Finally something that makes all of this so much harder for me. As I was typing this e-mail up, I received a call form President Balli, and he asked me to serve as a Zone Leader back in Auckland in a Stake called Penrose Stake. It is a newer stake and it actually has some of the areas such as Waipuna that I previously worked in. My heart is hanging between being smashed on the ground, and humbling accepting a call to serve more missionaries. I love Whangarei so much! I love the scenery and the people up here in the North Part of NZ. I am going to miss the people themselves as they are close and dear to my heart. I feel like I am at home up here and I really do not want to move. I wont have a chance unfortunately to finish training Elder Hixon. Being the prepared missionary that he is, he is now going to taking my place as a District Leader and also train another missionary! I am proud of of him for sure and he is certainly a missionary that will do a wonderful job needless to say! That was the double crush you could say. I is going to be good for me. Mainly because I was getting quite comfortable here in Whangarei. I knew the area, the people and the missionaries. The work as well was moving a long at a astounding pace! I guess the Lord saw fit to help me grow even more. I will need to get familiar with a new area and a new companion. We will be double shifted into the Zone as well, so we are going to have to get familiar with area and the missionaries.  I feel so inadequate. My heart was pounding when I received that call. I took ten minutes to let it sort through my mind. I will certainly need heavenly Fathers help in the fast approaching future.

Got a picture with the President Ashcroft and his wife Sister Ashcroft, and their daughter Marium. It was stake conference so I got a chance to see a lot of great friends!

These Elders are going home they are great friends. Elder Adams, and L'Hueruex (Laroo it is french, he is form Seattle though). Elder Adams served as a Zone Leader, and Laroo was the other District Leader. I learned a lot from them.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

14 Sep 2015 - The busiest week of my mission....

Elder Hixon and I have been working so hard in our area. I will mention, and I don't mean boast by any means. But we had a day where we literally had an appointment every hour of the day. Some went longer than others, however though we had not time in between to stop and talk with people on the streets and see how they are doing unfortunatly. It was good to have so many appointments, however you could say that it is better to have time to contact people and keep your mind open to impressions you might have or find new people to talk to in the area. Needless to say it was awesome. We had some powerful lessons, the spirit was so strong in a lesson with a LA Part Member Family. What really invited the spirit into that lesson was the Book of Mormon. We sat down and read about Nephi. You know the usual 1 Nephi 3:7 "I will go..." well we read the 7 verses from that chapter and we then related it to them. We talked about not only Nephis' courage, but also the commandment the Lord gave to Lehi and his Brothers. I had never really thought of this, and I am sure that it was the spirit, but each of us have agency. The Lord has given us commandments. It is hard to keep all of them and be perfect. However though we are improving and we are allowed to improve through his Atonement, as we go from grace to grace. Ask your self this question though. "What are my Brass Plates?" What is it that the Lord has asking us to do no that requires us to have faith like Nephis'. What do we need to show more faith in to progress and reach our goals? For the family that we where teaching it was powerful. We know that they felt the spirit. The children in the family are absolutely wonderful, they want to come to church, however their parents do have struggles of their own, there Father in particular who is a member of a gang here in NZ (LA still loves the church and knows it is true). It was a powerful invite to change. We hope and pray it will happen!

I have learned a lot form Elder Hixon for sure. He has taught me so much about being a good missionary. Honestly he is so prepared and loves the Gospel so much. Something that he has thoroughly demonstrated for me has been how much influence and power our own personal love for the gospel has on our ability to serve others, and teach them. There have been many other things that I have learned form him as well. The main point I would like to share here is that, a missionary who is just beginning his mission, is not in the least bit "lesser" than his companion who maybe is just about done. I have always had this inclination, however, Elder Hixon has shown me so clearly how that is so. Experience does help in the mission field, however when it comes to sharing what is closest to our hearts there is no difference in power and effectiveness in helping others to feel the spirit. It has been a privledge thus far to train him for sure!

We had another lesson with Martin Family again, and we where able to follow up on the invitation that we extended for him to take the missionary lessons. It is amazing to see the progress that we have made with him. We usually have a bit of a family home evening with them on Sunday evenings. We will open play a game, and share a lesson. I watch Brother Martin as we teach. You can certainly tell that he is listening and that he is trying to understand. He considering and pondering. Particularly last night he really opened up to us and we learned more of his position on church. He is a very spiritual person needless to say as the Maoris are, however though he doesn't feel a need to go to church. I guess on the other end of the scale you have those who go to church but are certainly not in the least bit active or spiritual. He has come from hating the church to loving the change he has seen in his children because of the principles that are taught there that help them live a spiritual life outside as well. Sister Martin is a member. She has come a few times however though she does seem to be on the LA side of things. She hasn't said to much though in our lessons. We are hoping to talk with her in the future and see if there is anything that we can help her out with as missionaries in the future. Elder Hizon loves the Maori culture here and also has done a wonderful job at building a relationship with Brother Martin. Another interesting fact about Maoris in their culture is that they don't particularly like to talk openly about spiritual matters. When they do it is often in their own tongue.(Not many speak it anymore, many study it though) So for Brother Martin to share a bit about it, was astounding and nothing but a miracle! He is thinking about going to some church sponsored Gospel Moari Classes. Hopefully he is able to find time to go and gain a better understanding. He use to challenge the missionaries and also bash a bit. But now with a bit of love, we can have a dignified civil conversation about simply principle that we can all relate to.

So there was soooooo much more that has happened to us this week, but those are some of the highlights. Also the Martin family's children are home schooled as well. They have been taught to play the violin to. They can play together, and Brother Martin asked them to play with for us. It was beautiful! I loved it. They were fine with me recording it so I do have the music form their masterful playing! Inspired me to learn to play one. I might have some time on my hands when I get back Mother... it will keep me busy and out of trouble.

So I wen t on trade off back in my old area it great and it was good to see some good friends again! Elder Thorpe form Utah is a fantastic missionary!

Thanks for all your e-mails, I do love them.

Elder Ward

This is in Takihiwai!  I love this area so many great members!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

7 September 2015 Serving is the best!

This week has been quite a busy one for sure! I wish that I could relay all that happened to you guys, but due to time, I will have to share some of the choice moments as usual. We had an awesome District meeting this week. All the Elders came up from their areas to be there. In the District that I serve, their are 2 other companionships. So for a total of 6 Elders. It was great to be there with them. IN a District Meeting we, well I like to start with a game... Just to liven up everyone and also be able to spend just a bit of time together, as we don't often get to be together for on P-days. Just for the first 10min and then we get started into spirit of the meeting with a song and with a prayer. We have a spiritual thought, recite the mission vision and then we go into sharing with each other how we did in our areas, by reporting the number of lessons that we taught, new investigators that we found, how many people that we talked to, and many other Key Indicators. We then have a training. Which I prepare based on what our mission President wants us to learn and focus on. This past week we talked about our purpose. We studied it together, each different sections, and then shared with each other summarized versions of what it is about. Much better than sitting there and reading all together. This way we are also able to share personal experiences that we have had on our missions that relate to the subject being discussed. We end the meeting by extending a commitment to the Elders to try and work on that week such as focusing on our purpose, or praying more fervently, or doing something that we feel we need to improve on. It is a good way to improve and progress in our missions. We close with a song and a prayer. Then we may go out to lunch with one of the companionships in the District. Just wanted to share with you guys bit of a insight, in another part of missionaries life. I love District Meetings!

For this week though we started off by doing service for some an Elderly Elder and Sister in our ward. They are serving missions, however though they are serving in the area that they live in. We went way up into the Hills of Whangarei where they live. They have a stunning view! But they needed some help taking care of a lawn that they where unable to reach. They had all the gear set-up for us and we got busy quick. I do have to mention the weed wacker. It just had a metal disc instead of the plastic that is used usually. I found this particularly fascinating as I am one that loves working with tools and naturally gravitated towards it. It worked pretty well though I would have to say. Basically an open skill saw, just slicing through thick grass like butter. Anyways Elder and Sister Lillie where very grateful to receive the service and we where happy that we where able to provide service for some members of our ward. Elder Lillie also has been diagnosed with lung cancer recently, which is part of the reason as to why they are not able to take care of their property like they use to. Despite the news, they are still some of the happiest and most positive people you would ever meet! I loved being able to do some service.

This week another awesome experience was teaching the children of a Less-Active mother. The Sisters had been working with her for a while, and we where pleased that she set up an appointment with us so willingly. The day of the appointment though we where unable to find a male within her Ward to come with us to visit her due to young mens requiring a lot of the active priesthood. Disappointing I called to tell her that we where simply not going to be able to go inside. She responded saying that she expects us to come and that we needed to get some responsible priesthood holder over there so we could come in because the kids had set the table for us and everything. I knew she meant business, so I called for so members in the other ward that we serve in. Thankfully one of our favorite members was able to come out with us and we did have a wonderful visit with the Sister and her 3 daughters. Another Less Active family came as well to join us for the evening because the Sister figured some one had better come eat the soup she prepared! So we had quite a few people under the same roof! After we ate we where able to lead everyone to sit down and we opened with a song and a prayer. We had an awesome lesson with some object lesson about the priesthood, and we talked about the importance of baptism. Her daughters where very interested and wanted to learn more. We now have a return appointment and we are excited to work with the mother and the daughters and teach them the Restored Gospel.

Luke, Niya, and Meriana have been progressing slowly as well. They all came to church this week and it was so exciting! They have been facing a lot of illness and challenges lately. It has prevented them form being able to come to church for 3 weeks or so. We felt like we where losing them a bit, however, we remained diligent and just simply taught and shared with them meaningful doctrine. The biggest hang up for them is marriage. Still trying to help them jump through that hurtle. We hope that deepening there love for their gospel and increasing their understanding will motivate them to jump through the hurdle rather than us pushing them through it. Because you can't really force them to jump. :/ :D

Anyways Elder Hixon is doing good, he is an awesome missionary. I think that is all I will write for this week!\

Love you all Heaps!
Elder Ward

Sunday, September 6, 2015

31 August 2015 - New Investigators

For this week Elder Hixon and I where busy covering both wards again as usual. In the Hikurangi Ward, the one that I am not as familiar with, we where able to get 3 new investigators! woooo! They are unbaptized children that belong to Less Active members that want to begin making that journey back to church. Often times when children of LA members are taught they begin to within themselves feel the spirit again and have a desire to return to church. One family in particular the Sisters had all ready been working with. I can't remember her name! :( Maori names can be a bit challenging to remember at times! Like, Rawiri, Mahuika, Merehana. It can a be a bit confusing. What is great though is that they are easy to pronounce if understand the sounds that they make. Anyways, they are both younger girls, one is 8 and the other is 10 years old. We are going to be visiting them this week to begin the formal teaching, and begin to work with the LA members as well. 1 is officially aNew, but one is going to be a New Investigator.

One new investigator that I was not present for due to me being on a trade off with our Zone Leaders, is a care taker to a recent converts daughter is mentally disabled. Apparently it was a great lesson, many good questions where asked and having a member with us was great to. The testimony that a member bears is powerful and when it comes from them it is much more meaningful than a missionary. The new investigators name is Bree, and we should be seeing her tonight for a fantastic visit!

Yesterday night Elder Hixon and I where struggling to find people to go visit. It was a wet evening. Not as cold as it has usually been lately because we are moving into the beautiful and humid summer time. Everyone was pretty hunkered down though because of school the next day. We looked in our planners and we went to a LA home that we had previously been to. I may have e-mailed you guys about our previous visit. We met the LA's partner, and we were going to begin teaching her.However, she moved to a more southern area in Whangerie, we tried to refer her to the missionaries down there, however though they didn't have to much luck with contacting her. We went back last night, and met with them again, we also met another young lady named "Winnie" who said that she had some questions for us the last time where there. Elder Hixon and answered some of the questions that she had, and of course taught her the principles that are in PMG chapter 3 (You are going to need to be familiar with these ones Stuart :D). She was certainly edified , and she was ecstatic to receive a Book of Mormon. We gave her a simple commitment to just simply read the Introduction of the Book of Mormon. We set a return appointment and we are now planning to teach her the Plan of Salvation on Saturday! 

Luke came to church this week. Boy it was great to see him. as well as his partners Sister Mereana. We had a really good lesson with them this week. It had been a while since we had been able to sit down with the family because, last weeks appointment didn't work out, and they have been to crook (sick) to go to church. We are glad that we still have them in our teaching pool. We where getting a bit worried! we are going to teaching about how the Book of Mormon is used to answer questions that they have. It was funny however, because Luke had been sick, he couldn't really hear all that well. When "Amen" was said during the opening prayer, we all looked at still folding his arms and bowing his head! He looked up up and was a bit surprised, it was a crack up!

Lots, of fun things have happened this week. The Zone Leaders got their car stuck we drove them out to there area so they could be there when the tow truck pulls it out, he ended up using a winch just to pull it out form the side. It was a bit stressful for them because it was in a pretty precarious position! I will send a picture. 

Elder Hixon is doing great! I loved being his companion. It is great training because you can explain to them what it means to be obedient and show them. sometimes... I have had companions in the past that I have served previously and they don't really want to commit to it, and neither can you force them to. Elder hixon is so willing as well, he is very motivated to be obedient.

This week we also went out to a really far area called Patowa North. We where looking for a Less Active that was out there, however he didn't give us specific enough directions, so we contacted for about an hour and then moved on to better things. Absolutely beautiful though!

We also visit and Active family that lives on a house boat.I sent a picture before of it,  now that they are in our area, we can visit them for dinner. They are the Smith family, and they are wonder full! It is a 3 hulled boat, and they have everything that they need to go out and sail the seas. They don't go out in the winters, but summer time they do take it for a spin! Sister smith made a wonderful shrimp and curry dish for us. I got a video around the ship, unfortunately I can't send it though. :/ That evening we also had an awesome visit with a LA brother that lived near the Smiths. It had been forever since missionaries had visited. He was so humbled to have us there. His family is having difficulties. He and his wife are split up at the moment. We taught a lesson on the priesthood. We did a visual with a bowl of water and some black pepper sprinkled on top. you then touch the water with a little bit of dish soap on your finger and the pepper moves away, and it does not stick to your finger. When you don't use the soap however the pepper sticks to the finger so you could say that with out the priesthood, baptism could not be performed properly. You do it first without the soap though. They loved it. We shared our testimonies, and we could tell that Brother Edwards was touched it was a great visit!

Thanks for all your e-mails, I do look forwards to that zip-line. A bit of a shame that the internet got fried on Dads boat. That those boats looked like heaps of fun! I remember I was quite competitive when I was in scouts... a bit to much maybe haha. Madelyn your glasses look so good to! Congrats on the call to Mother! I think it will be awesome for you!

There you are there is little bit about my week!

Love you all lots,
Elder Ward

 Pretty Crack up, the hill was really muddy and slippery so they just high centered long ways!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

24 August 2015 - A good week of hard work

This was our first full week of covering both Denby and the Hikurange Wards together. We have certainly been busy for sure! My goodness I do enjoy how much work we have to do. We taught a lot more than we usually do and we where visiting a lot of the members in Hikurangi Ward. Elder Hixon is an awesome missonary. He has really come prepared for his mission. I have learned a lot for him as well. I guess many people would think that having so much experience in the field that I would simply know everything, there is about missionary work. However though you could say that us missionaries that have been out longer get stuck in these old traditions, however having a fresh perspective of many situations really helps with the work for sure! 

Some details about the week though, John and Annie, I am pretty sure that I have told you guys about him have been doing okay. They came to church like they have been for the past few months as well. We found out that the temple trip that was planned was meant to be for the relief society Sisters... we then realized that John could not make it to the Temple trip for sure. 

I will tell you guys an appointment we had with them this week. It was in the evening and we came to have a lesson with them and teach them about the Book of Mormon and share with them a video on our usb. Annie loves videos, and we often use them at homes to teach lessons, and also members homes for spiritual thoughts. However we soon realized that John didn't look to happy for some reason, and he also seemed a bit colder to us as well. We asked him what was wrong as we were a bit concerned. He explained that one of the ladies that was suppose to come and cook dinner for them just called a few minutes before we arrived to let them know that she could not come make them dinner that night. John was upset at the short notice. Almost immediately I felt inspired to ask and see if we could help him with making dinner. I think that he was a bit surprised at this offer, however we made a plan to share the thought, and then go to the kitchen to make dinner. We proceeded with the lesson. Afterwards we helped John make 2 humble sandwiches with butter and nutella. It was not much of a dinner from what I saw, however though it was amazing to see how grateful he was for the help even though it was minimal in my perspective. I know it was the Spirit that prompted us to help with dinner. It was not a strong emotional feeling, it was simply the right thing to do. I feel at times people get caught up in having strong spiritual experiences to know exactly what their Father in Heaven wants them to do, but it was as simple as trying to do a kind act that bless others. I love the section in PMG chapter 4 that teaches about the spirit. Especially Moroni 7:13, 16-17. 

John though still has some concerns. He does not want to give up tea, he feels like it really isn't to harmful, and also he still likes to pay attention to what they teach in the Jehovah Witness church. He has even mentioned that even after he is baptized he would still like to attend that church... Which is a bit of a red flag. Anyways we are focusing on the basics with him. We want to help him feel the spirit more so he can make the changes himself, not have us try to persuade him.

Luke and Niya, as well as Meriana, didn't make it to church, they have been sick lately, and they are struggling a bit progressing. I love it when investigators ask sincere questions. Luke asked us a question, "Why is it that Joseph Smith had to go through all the persecution and ultimately be killed when he did so much good?" Now we could have answered the question of the spot right there, however we had all ready had a bit of a lesson with him so, we told him"We will research it and then come back to you with an answer for you" We have done that but now we are waiting for Thursday to come so we can teach them. The last appointment fell through because they where not feeling to well, so this week we hope to teach a really powerful lesson! They have been getting taught for a while by missionaries, but they are getting there slowly. A few bumps here and there, but we know that they can do it!

Something that my companion and I have been doing is inviting members to pick their favorite Mormon message and post it on their face book page or whatever social media they use, and tell everyone why they find it meaningful. So I was thinking that I could invite you guys as my family to do so. Doing so may arouse some curiosity in others, and help them a long their path.

For example, this is mine:

The reason that I love this one so much is simple because it helps us better understand what it is like to gain and strengthen a testimony. I feel like I can relate to this guy quite well. We cant expect God to reveal himself to us. He does expect us to work seeking him, and have faith in the things that he commands us to do, he in turn will only bless us, which will lead us to greater faith and level of commitment.

There we are so that is a bit about the week and how things are going for us! Loving it here in Whangarie! Got a mean hang time shot of us! And then a bit of a flash back to Elder Rogers and I. The whole mission came down for the transfer meeting, and we really did love it! Got to see a lot of my old companions, and had to get a picture with Elder Rogers. He is serving as a Zone Leader now. It was just so cool to see each other again! He is on his last transfer now.. :( it goes by so quick the mission. I also so that Preston Manely is home form his mission to now! That is exciting and I am happy for him! There simply is no end to a mission, I have been told many times it continues to go on and it must!

Elder Ward

Thanks so much for the pictures as well and e-mails I do enjoy them. I guess at times it can be hard to try and remember all that has happened during the week! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

17 August 2015 - Big Changes

Well with transfers coming I was hoping that I would stay with my current companion Elder Lene. I have had a lot of companions on my mission so far. Interestingly enough I have had 11 so far. I wonder sometimes if I did something wrong... But nah I will look at it as I did something right. I have learned a lot form each of my companions. I have served with so many different nationalities and personalities as well. It has been good for me as an individual learning how to get a long with each one. Elder Lene and I were pretty good for each other. At times he was a bit lazy you could. Keeping the flat clean was a bit of a challenge. I didn't want to hound him to help me, that can cause more tension, nor did I want to do all the work. So simply did my best here and there and set an example of just trying to keep it clean. He did help out though, it wasn't just him, he did step up and assist. Also with just our personalities, Elder Lene could make everyone laugh, and everyone wants to be around him. I am pretty sure that much of everyone back at home knows that I am quite at times and tend to be a bit serous at times. Well maybe not in the house... Those opposite personalities made it challenging at times, but some of the best and greatest experiences came from it as well. 

Needless to say we had a mission wide transfer meeting. The whole mission came together, and we had a big meeting. It was great driving down to Auckland. I do enjoy driving and especially in NZ. The roads can be a bit windy at times. I also got to tow a trailer behind our car as well. Never have done before, but it was pretty easy. Backing it up was a bit challenging, but once you figure out how it works it is not too hard. More importantly though, Elder Lene was transferred, he was assigned to serve as a District Leader as well. He was not to happy about it. He wanted to stay in the area. I wanted him to say because I do having my companions with me for more than a month and a half! It's ok though, we may not like the changes that are made, but is inspiration form the Lord that President Balli receives to help the work move forwards in the mighty NZAM. 

I am training though once again. :) I was surprised to find out for sure. Didn't think of it simply because it just wasn't on the agenda in my mind. I am humbled to train Elder Hixon. He is from Simi Valley in Southern California. Not to far away form Temecula. He is 18 years old, and boy he is a prepared missionary. His stake had some really intense mission prep classes. I have been impressed with how prepared he is. We taught a lesson to Luke and Mereana, and Elder Hixon was not nervous, nor was there a lack of words of what to say for him. He simply says what he has learned and it contributes to the lesson perfectly.I don't think I was as prepared as him! I envy it a bit however though. Something that I have been working on is finding joy in the success of others. I tend to compare a lot, especially myself to others to try and gage how I am doing. This does not work.... Our Father in Heaven has his own plan for us. We each have our own unique circumstances as well, that give us advantages and disadvantages. Learning this in my mission has been a great lesson learned. The best thing to do is put confidence in your self that you are doing your best to fulfill what the Lord asks you to do. Simple, and that has helped me feel a lot happier about himself. Enough about me Elder Hixon is a great Elder I hope to show him all the ropes I know and help him gain as much traction as he can now so he will be able to to accomplish all that the Lord has in store for him. Prayer, has become an important part in finding peace within myself, and in having confidence in the activities and lessons that we are teaching as missionaries. It has been an important part of my mission for sure, lately it has become a great source of strength as I serve as a District Leader, and trainer. I love it, we had some choice lessons for sure already.

Another surprise was taking on another area. We now cover 2 wards! :S The Sisters in the neighboring ward were moved out and now we are covering it to. Needless to say we have our work cut out for us. Too much work actually. I don't think that we will ever not be busy here. Elder Lene and I were creating a lot of work in Denby ward, but now we are going to be very busy with Hikurangi Ward as well. 

In Hikurangi Ward though the Sisters where working with a couple named John and Annie. They are an interesting situation for sure. John is an older man, he is a bit slow mentally. Annie is someone that is confined to a wheel chair. I don't know how to spell it, but she has, Multiple Sclerosis, which is a nervous system disease. She is there mentally but can speak just a few words, and move her arm for a trying hand shake. Annie is an active member of the church, and John was a flat mate, but eventually the fell in love. They now want to get married and John wants to get baptized. So we are working with the Ward in trying to work that out. It is a challenging situation, but they do have a real desire, and Annie is an angel form heaven. She has such great heart. We had a lesson lately, and we do feel that John could may need a stronger testimony, so we have committed them to read together and also pray. There is a temple trip soon as well. So we are hoping that John will go with her, and enjoy the experience.

Also Ruben is still doing well. He is still coming to church. Sister Carpenter and her Daughter Tayla are doing well also, we have been teaching them the recent convert lessons.

There is nothing like serving a mission. It is such a privilege. My time may coming to an end, however I do intend to do my very best. I keep telling everyone that I have "Heaps of time", but not a lot to waste, I think to myself. 

Thanks for the e-mails this week I really loved them!

Elder Ward

I do have a picture from my companions camera. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

10 August 2015 - An Interesting Dinner Appointment

Yes we did have an interesting dinner appointment. It was a bit unexpected for sure. It was late in the evening and Elder Lene and I where driving along the rode trying to find someone to visit late at night. It can be a bit of a struggle because people go to bed early in the winter here. When we see someone one the side of the rode we will often try to stop and have a chat with them. We usually try to swing around the corner so they don't see us get of the car, because it is a bit awkward when they to guys get out of a car dressed in nice clothes and come up to them and try talking with them calmly. Anyways there was a guy walk his dog late at night and I swung around a corner. He was an older man, maybe 50's 60's white ear piercing We walked around and said hello. 

The first thing he said was "Are, are you Mormons?" I responded saying "Yes, that is our nickname"... That caught him off guard a bit. I explained what the real name was. He then partially objected by saying "oh I don't think you want to talk to me because I am gay. I apologize". I was a bit shocked by him saying this. He tried to break free a bit but I said "You don't need to be sorry, we are not here to make you feel frowned upon"  We explained that we respected him, and of course we have differing beliefs. He then asked us if we get fed, and explained that he knows some members of the church, and that they mentioned how we are fed by them often. He asked if we sometimes don't get fed, and we stated that we don't get few every night. He then almost insisted that he provide us with a wonderful meal and come over to have dinner with him. I have never been put in a situation like this before, but I saw nothing wrong with it. We accepted and then made the appointment for the next day. I did call our mission President to let him know and see if he had any concern, and he was fine with it and just encouraged us to be cautious as with any other visit. 

We came the next day and we had a wonderful stir fry chicken and veggie dinner. He explained his beliefs and that he is a Buddhist, and that he does not want to be converted, however though he could not help himself in asking questions about all the things happening in the world and how there needs to be some more good people. Inquiring also about a few of our views on certain subjects as our purpose here on Earth and what happens after we die. So yah we did try converting him in the end you could say with out him knowing. He is a mean cook though for sure. Said he would love to have us back and cook us a mean roast chicken dinner. Hopefully we may be able to soften his heart and teach him a few of the lessons formally. At the moment we don't have anything scheduled with him.

So much did happen this week though. I think that I may have a difficult time recalling all that happened. Something that I have been doing is video journal entries. I have been able to keep a good journal for most of my mission, however I find video journals a bit more fun. Wish I could send some home, however though can't really do that with e-mail...

Another miracle this week was contacting a Less Active Family just at the right time. I don't think it was a coincident that we came by just at the right time. We where simply missionaries looking for more families to work with, following our plans, and then also being obedient as well. We knocked on the door not to sure what to expect. The Brother that we where looking for answered the door. He at first said that another time would be best, however though, he then said to us oh just come in for a short visit. Turns out that the his wifes mother just passed away from cancer, and the whole family on her side was basically there. Most them are members, but they are simply not active int the church. We got to meet everyone and just simply had an open conversation with them. eventually it came back to the gospel and Elder Lene and I shared some scriptures form the Book of Mormon, as well as some words from the pamphlets that we use to teach people. They really did appreciate it and the spirit was strong for sure. We left with a Kara Kia or a prayer... We will be returning for sure because the Fathers son, is 17 and he has developed some interest in the church, and the Father is a humble man and he wants his son to learn. He of course needs to step up to and learn himself.

Well lasts P-day we did something pretty fun. We went Caving! I got some pictures. Needless to say it was pretty fantastic. I got some cool pictures that I will send in a separate e-mail.

I went on a trade off with Elder Mahreza back in Bream Bay. Nothing like the good times! I got a chance to go on splits with Ruben! He holds the Aaronic Priesthood now. We went out to go see some LA members and he ended up coming with me. We had a great visit. It was amazing to see what he thought of the visit. He is certainly in tuned with the spirit and he had the same thoughts I had about the visit. He is a great man and he is still coming to church. Once again it wasn't me that converted him. It was the spirit and testimonies of the members. I got a picture of us all together with the Wassel Family as well. Brother Wassell went out for visits as well and we spent the what time we had left with them and had a spiritual thought and a few laughs.

Also got to try a new Sea food called pipis (Pipies) they are smalle little clams almost. Not as big as mussles, or oysters, a nice snack, not to strong either. You just boil them to cook them. A member got these for the Elders down in Bream Bay and they shared with us.

Missionaries often speak of these caves that have served up here in Whangarei. This was one of my coolest P-days for sure. I loved it. I have more but I will send a few to you guys. If you turned off the lights you could see the glow worms in the ceiling! That was really neat! I did manage to get a picture of the glowing though!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

3 August 2015 Tayla's Baptism!

Tayla was baptized and it was certainly an awesome experience. Her Uncle performed the baptism and confirmation. Tayla was certainly nervous about it, but she was just fine as she went into the font to be baptized. It was a choice spirit that everyone felt as we all witnessed the baptism. What a privilege it was to teach her. Elder Adams, he was my District Leader but is now my Zone Leader, he was able to come and he is in the picture as well. He taught her previously. Tayla's Mother is back and she is strong in the gospel. The family has had a strong history in the church and it is a big step for the family, as many of children in the family are Less-Active. I had a chance to ask Sister CArpenter (Tayla's Mother) what sparked her interest and desire to come back and get involved again. It wasn't a big light that she saw or a big spiritual experience, nor a big wake up call, it was simply her recognizing the blessings of the church, and desiring them for her children as well. She has always had a testimony of the gospel and her Father in Heavens love. It was when she looked at the bigger picture of becoming an eternal family that she then made a decision her self to make a come back and also have her daughter baptized. Truly a small, but major miracle.

 I will tell of another awesome teaching appointment that we had just yesterday. It was the evening and our plans to visit a few people with a YSA young man didn't quite work out. We decided to call up a part member family and see if we could pop in to visit with them before the evening drew late. There name is the Martin Family, and the Children are all active in the church. The mother is LA, we don't know why, she is still very kind to us though, and the Father is not a member. Missionaries have all ready visited with him before a long with the family. While on the phone if at that time we could come for a quick visit. He sounded a bit reluctant but said yes. Maybe even a bit irritated. I wasn't to sure how it was going to go. Fast forward a little bit we got to their home and sat down. We played a game to break the ice, because everyone was a bit shy. Needless to say we had everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. At a certain point though, after the game was over, we then shared a spiritual thought about prayer. 3 Nephi 18:21, about praying in our families always. That was the catalyst, and Brother Martin then started talking about how he use to against the children going to church, and he would not take them. He spoke about the change he has seen in his children as they have gone to church. He spoke about a Sister who took the children to church every Sunday. One day she did not come because she had passed.... That was due to cancer and no one even knew. Her example inspired Brother Martin to take the children to church then on. Her sacrifice made powerful impact on him. Another experience he had was when his wife was sick when giving birth, she received a blessing and then soon after recovered surprisingly well. Brother Martin shared all these experiences with us. I'll I could think to myself was "he needs to be taught the missionary lessons." In fact it was a prompting to ask him and invite him. I spoke up and asked him. He said " No missionary has asked me to take the lessons before, yous have lessons?" We explained and talked about what they where. Brother Martin said in the end "I think about for sure". It was a pretty confident one. We will be following up with him. One reason he holds back is because he promised his father to honor the Maori culture and what traditions have been passed down in his family. Really a small concern, they don't really contradict each other. We may not be the missionaries that baptize him, however though it is amazing to hear all of his experiences, and to see how his heart has been softened over time.

It was a good week though overall. At times I do struggle a bit with my companion, because he can be a bit lazy, however though, I do have improvements to make as well. We work hard and we are doing our best!

Thanks for the e-mails, Love you all!

Elder Ward

This Lady (LA) had this all written out... We thought it was pretty funny. We respected her wishes and did not knock in the end. Maybe we ask some of the members about her and see what we can gather.