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!