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.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

26 July 2015 Lots of Preparation!

This week has had it's various challenges. One challenge a missionary can face is spending time with members. Members can really help missionaries out when it comes to teaching them, fellow shipping them, and also helping Less-Actives come back form church. Sometimes members want us to stay for longer, and have a chat, about life and it's many events. However though we may be able to better things by going out and visiting others. Needless to say even members can take offense to this as well. It's a hard challenge to missionary work that I think that applies to many different missions in the world. Ultimately the members just love us and want to bless us which is fine and we are so grateful as missionaries for that. They do deserve sometime for sure. Just something I wanted to share with you guys that may give you a deeper understanding of what missionary work can really be like.

On a brighter side, the diligent work of missionaries previous to myself and my current companion has yielded a baptism for us to assist in. Marlene and Tayla are going for the baptism this Saturday and they are excited for it! We are also. Tayla is excited for it and we are teaching the lessons that she hasn't quite had yet. Last time we where at her home we taught the WoW, and Tithing. It really was great to see her understanding increase. Her mother Marlene loves it to because she is enjoying refreshing on the things that she once was so familiar with. Her confidence grows as she asks questions to deepen her understanding. The spirit is strong in those lessons because so much learning is happening. 

Luke and Niya are doing all right. They are progressing slowly and Luke is having a challenging time with giving up smoking. It has been a part of him so long and trying to give it up is really challenging. We taught him the WoW officially when we went to go visit them after church. We also gave look a Priesthood blessing so he could get through the withdrawal symptoms. We are going to try and read the BoM with him throughout the week to give that spiritual strength that he needs to keep at. 

Thats about it for the week. We are working hard! Lots of challenges, but ultimately these challenges bring us to our knees so we can seek for guidance.  

Thanks for all your e-mails. 

Love you lots!

Elder Ward

 A selfie of myself. My hair just looked real good that's all.
A picture of our Zone!