Ryan comes home tomorrow!!

In case you weren’t aware, Ryan comes home tomorrow!! Woo!!

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Last Full Week! November 24, 2013

Hey everyone,
This will be just a quick message today! thank you to everyone who wrote to me today, for the comforting and kind words and counsel for my last week on my mission, every one of you are answers to my prayers, I am feeling really excited for this last week after sitting down and reading everything that came through my email this week! I will have so much to share with you all very soon ūüôā My plan is to just treasure every minute of these next 8 days, to “soak it all in” I wont let any chances to share the gospel or encourage or invite or strengthens peoples faith, pass by me this week! I cannot believe I am finally here. I love my mission so much, I don’t think a day will go by in my future that will not in some way be affected by these two years. I will be always grateful for this amazing opportunity to come on a mission, to meet so many people,¬†to have¬†so many experiences, to learn so much. I love you all so dearly.
Love,
Elder Ryan Faulkner
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Two more weeks! November 17, 2013

Dear Family,
Another great week as usual. There is always so much more than I could ever write, and even if I could remember every little detail, I would never be able to capture how wonderful all these mission experiences are to me. Elder Naidu keeps telling me “one week to go” and I keep reminding him, no, its two weeks!!! haha. I am sure I will love every minute of it! It kinda seems like lately I have taken a different perspective with this work, probably because I am living with three other missionaries who are all brand new! But I have kinda in my mind been taking a step back and observing, its really fun to watch these new missionaries and how excited they get with the miracles and blessings we have been seeing, also how much disappointment they feel with the challenges. This has been one of the coolest transfers of my mission because of these three elders! They are really fun, I just love to see the gospel process happening in them as well as our investigators. It seems like so many of the things I have learned over these past 2 years are being displayed to me in these past few weeks, all kinds of things, like questions of investigators, struggles of missionaries, conversion, doubt, etc. etc. I am finally feeling equipped and prepared to respond to each of these things! I just wish I could give all that I have learned to these other missionaries, but I suppose they couldn’t really know or have any of those things without experiencing them themselves! anyway, It makes me so excited for all that is ahead for them, I just love that I can say with such confidence (and I take as many opportunities as I can to do so!) that they are going to love their missions, that it will be for them so much more than they can even understand or imagine. Perhaps this is a kind of parable for what I am sure Heavenly Father is trying to tell me about all that will be ahead for me after I get home! I am excited for that, It is going to be really hard! I am not really looking forward to studying and taking exams, and later finding a job and paying bills and all the other difficulties that are asociated with this life! But If my life ahead is anything like my mission, which is sometimes likened to a “mini life” haha, I look forward to it with faith and hope, My mission has taught me to trust in the saviour, so I have the hope that Just as I am looking back on my mission with such gratitude and fondness, I will one day look back on my life in amazement and overwhelming gratitude for all the blessings the Lord has brought to me. I¬†hope that I can always remember this testimony the Lord has given me.
Anyway, you can tell how reflective I have been lately! haha, I just dont want to miss any of the great lessons the Lord has taught me! so I am thinking about them a lot!! But Ill fill you in on a bit of my week this week!
-good news!¬†yesterday¬†I got to the point where I only have 100 pages left before I complete the entire standard works(old testament, new testamanet, book of mormon, doctrine and covenants, and the pearl of great price),¬†reading 10 pages a day is easy, so I have no doubt I will finish it up in the next two weeks!!! It feels like a great accomplishment! I love that I can finally say that I have read every page of the scriptures, I am going to have to keep going through them to continue to learn! I am sure I will find that much of the precious truths of the gospel just went completely over my head in this first reading! haha, but¬†I have had this goal since the very begining of my mission, I kinda gave up more than once with reading the old testament, but I kept coming back to this goal! I will just barely get it finished before I finish my mission! But anyway, I love the scriptures, I really do, I believe them, I trust them, I am continuing to treasure them and feast upon them ūüôā
-We taught a few lessons this week with a brother named loko tonga. He is on the stake high counsel and is a truly wonderful man, I mention him because he taught me a lot from these two experiences. He has a very special power as he goes and visits members, he is very straight, very bold, and very loving. In both of these meetings he started by saying something along the lines of “we come to share our love and to remind you of the love of jesus christ, we invite you to come to church and feel the great blessings of the gospel return to your life” thats not an exact quote or anything, but that is his pattern, It really impressed me, he does not beat around the bush or waste any time, he clearly understands his role as a priesthood leader in inviting people to come unto christ, he is not apologetic in his invitations because he knows deeply that this is the only way to salvation, and he loves the saviour and these people enough to give them these challanging invitations. Anyway, I have learned from brother tonga and a few other wonderful priesthood leaders I have met on my mission that testimony is so much more than¬†WHAT you say… I am not sure if at any time he said “I know” or “I testify” instead, he demonstrated that conviction in HOW he said it, with authority and with power. Anyway, ITs hard to put into words what I am thinking! but I am so greatful for the examples of the priesthood leaders I have been priviledged to work with, especially in mortdale stake, I wonty let their examples be wasted on me.
-There is a less active brother that we visit quite regularly, he is somewhat mentally handicapped, but minorly enough that he is able to live on his own. Anyway, he is a funny guy, we have a lot of funny memories and experiences with him, but Ihave really come to care about him a lot, and this week he said something that really touched me, he said “whenever you missionaries come you emmanate peace and joy and love”. Jason has a simpler mind than most, but he does not struggle to identify the voice¬†and influence of the holy spirit, its an honor to be one of those that brings that spirit to him in his life.
-Something thats pretty cool is that there is a member that lives just down the road from us who lives on his own and he told us that we can use his weight lifting equipment for our morning exercise if we want to! He surprised me by making us a copy of his key so that we could get in when he was not there. wow, what a great trust and an amazing favor! so far we have only gone to lift weights once, we’ll probably go again tommorrow, what a shock to the system! haha, I am still recovering from it! haha, really looking forward to getting back into training and excercise, as sore as I was, Its a great feeling to work out.
-Man, I wish every one could know how many “coincidences” missionaries see! haha, I put that in quoteation marks because they are in no way coincidences, its either gods hand or just all¬†missionaires are just the luckiest people in the world all the time, haha, but anyway, we really dont walk aroud that much since we have a car, but it seems like every time elder lacroix and I are walking down the street or around the shops we bump into someone we know! its pretty cool, because these are sometimes people we struggle to track down and we get the opportunity to make appointments with them!
-we had an interesting experience¬†sunday¬†morning, I felt a strong impression to go and visit one of the people we have been teaching before church and invite him to come… well, we were pretty bummed to find that he wasn’t even at home! This used to confuse me why the Lord would prompt us to do things that did not even lead to anything! well, I have not always identified the answer in every instance, but Ill tell you what happened this time! because our investigator was not home, we ended up just going to the chapel, about an hour early! and because it was raining, I guess everyone was running late and we were the first people there… since we dont have a key to the gate we just parked outside to wait, pretty soon a middle eastern guy came and knocked on my car door so I got out to talk to him, I wont really share too many details because its private to him, but he is not a member of the church but is married to a member of the church and knows our bishop, he had been waiting there outside the gate since¬†6:00am¬†waiting for a chance to speak with bishop. I gave bishop a ring and he said he was running a bit lat but would be happy to meet with the man after sacrament meeting. The man was pretty disappointed, I could tell there was something really weighing on his mind so I asked if there was anything I could do for him while we waited. He asked which of the four of us missionaries was the most senior which I thought was interesting, so I told him I was and we walked down the street just a bit so we could talk more privately… He told me how he was feeling very guilty about some mistakes he had made, how he wanted to fix them, etc. I knew immediately that this was Bishop’s responsibility, that it was not in my calling to counsel this man, but what I was able to do was to look into his eyes and testify of the atonement of christ, how through him all things can be reconcilled and made clean, I also testified of Bishop and his role in the repentance process. Pretty soon, Brother faleta who is one of bishop’s counsellors¬†turned up and unlocked the gate, and I was able to refer this man to him, and he met with him in bishops office. Anyway, the man left after his interview¬†before I got the chance to speak to him again, so I dont really know if I will ever see him again, I hope he will have the opportunity to take the missionary lessons in the future and to be baptised, I know this is the way the lord has prepared to free us from our sins and the burdens we carry. I was greatful I had the chance to share my testimony with him and give him a bit of comfort as he waited for Bishop…. This is one of many experiences I have had that teach me to follow every prompting, it does not always turn into what we expect, I was so sure that our investigator was finally going to come tu church! but the Lord had another assignment for me, and led me to be at the chapel early, I dont think I would have trusted the prompting to skip studies to be early to church, so heavenly father gave me a prompting that he knew I would follow. ITs a miracle to be lead by god to bless his children.
-We have an awesome ward council, they are awesome, I really think a great part of the reason for me being in this ward at the end of my mission is to learn from the great examples of the leaders in this ward, Anyway, I dont have much more tiem to talk about specifics, but Bishop had a special missionary coordination meeting with us this week to talk about how the ward can support us in the work of salvation, Then in ward council later this week he led a long discussion about many of the points we talked about, It was so awesome to see how excited and enthusiastic and supportive each of the ward leaders are to answering the prophets call to unite with the full time missionaries in the work of salvation. If every ward council in the world is doing what they are doing here in bankstown, there is amazing things ahead for the church and the growth of missionary work. It is an AMAZING time to be a missionary, I am glad that I will be able to be part of the other side of missionary work also in a few weeks, I am greatful for a letter my brother wrote to me reminding me that I will never stop being a missionary.
-Ah running out of time! But ill just finish with an update on Aaron! we had another great lesson with him¬†yesterday! Man, the lessons with him lately have been so inspiring and positive, its awesome! we were able to resolve some of his worries, give him support and evens tart planning his baptism service which we had not even planned to do! haha, we have challenged him to be baptised on teh first of december, and he said he will pray for confirmation on if that is the right day. He is awesome, he has started talking about his baptism like we have already scheduled it! haha, well, its written in my planner for the first, haha. Hopefully all the details align themselves, he is incredibly ready, he is excited but also really nervous, I am glad we have such a friendship with him because it allows us to teach him in a very personal way. Ill keep you updated ūüôā
I love you all so much, I suppose next week will be my last email? nah, ill find time to send a message¬†the¬†monday¬†before I come home as well, so two more ūüôā
Love you heaps,
Elder Ryan Faulkner
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November 10, 2013

Dear Family,
It has been a great week, I have been feeling pretty great today, its raining in Sydney, but that’s okay! we played a bit of rugby in the rain this morning, it was fun.
Anyway, I want to give a bit of an update from the past two weeks, because I never got around to writing a proper report last week! but there have been some great things happening! so some of this is actually from last week! there is a lot! so I might not have time to write in as much detail as I would like!
-So I have to first mention bishop and sister tufuga, I love this family a lot, they are always looking out for us missionaries, they are so mindful of us. So they are among the families that I know would do absolutely anything for us, they ask us if we need any food or anything all the time! Since they help us so much I usually do my best to tell them that we have everything that we need, but that does not even stop them! haha, last week sister tufuga tricked us into letting her buy us food, haha, long story, but she got someone else to ask us what groceries we needed and we said just milk and rice and some fruit and then later bishop came to our flat with enough milk and rice and fruit to last until the millennium plus heaps of other food and supplies, we had no idea the tufugas were behind this! haha, this really touched me a lot, I am so grateful for them and all they do for us, but more importantly I am grateful for their example, they really go the extra mile, they know that I would not tell them we needed anything because they already do so much, so they tricked us, haha. anyway I hope you know that this ward takes wonderful care of us, more than I could have ever dreamed for, they amaze me so much, not only the tufugas but many many families, its so humbling to be the recipient of such charity, and I hope to follow their footsteps and do the same.
-So, there has been a very very interesting miracle. One of my investigators that I taught when I was here a few months back named aaron was being taught by the other missionaries. One day last week the zone leaders called us and said that aaron spoke to mata to’o (his girlfriend who is the member that introduced him to the church) and asked if Elder LaCroix and I could be the ones¬†to teach him, and that he wanted me to baptise him. wow,¬†this really really surprised me, but speaking with mata, apparently aaron was saying how he¬†felt a trust in me and he felt open with me when I taught him before.¬†Just yesterday we finally got to sit down with him and he just talked¬†for like an hour about¬†how much he has enjoyed attending this church and learning about the gospel, about the change he has seen come into his life since coming to church, about how he has come to believe all that we have taught him, I was just in complete shock that entire lesson! He has come such a long way, it is amazing to see such a remarkable change come into the life of one I have come to see as a dear friend. IT was seriously an amazing shock! He has become one of the many amazing lives from my mission that testify to me of the reality and divinity of this gospel. Its amazing how personally and individually the gospel works, listening to him talk spoke to my soul of how personally the Lord knows us, and how powerful he is to touch each and every soul according to their need and understanding. Anyway, there is nothing stopping him from baptism, he is one of the most prepared investigators I have known, in fact, I am really puzzling about why he is not already baptised, he has attended church every week for 5 months, lives all the comandments, he is solid! many people are baptised way before they got to the point of conversion aaron seems to have arrived at! he says he just wants to do it at the right time! I really would hope that will be before I go home, but even if I am not able to be here, I know it will happen ūüôā and I am so greatful to have been part of the process of his conversion and to have witnessed such a marvellous change come about in his life! hopefully we can help him to not delay the blessings of baptism and receiving the gift of the holy ghost!
-I have already spoken a lot about the aiken family, but they remind me of the same thing I just described in aaron. Last Wednesday I was having a bit of a hard day, nothing seemed to be going right, but then we were able to go to an appointment with the aikens, I think this was the first time I had been in there home since being back in the area. Its hard to describe this, but there was a new spirit, and warmth and joy in their home, it was so noticeable! I don’t know, maybe no one else could notice it because they have been here over the past few months to see them grow in the gospel, but I had a 3 month gap in their teaching process so I got to see something very special and unique! we sat at a table that a few months ago we had a few kinda tense discussions trying to help resolve brother aikens concerns about the church, sara and the kids were ready for baptism, but he had several questions and concerns at that time… anyway, we were sitting at that very same table and having a very different discussion, all about how happy their family has been a bout their decision to be baptised, about how much it has unified and blessed their family, it seems that bruce has found answers to his questions and I could see that new light in his eyes most noticeably, Its really a miracle, so wonderful to be able to come back and see the growth and blessings that have come to this family. They are a special family for sure, I hope very much that we can help them to continue to grow, to feel welcome and heppy in the gospel. Anyway, I said before that it was a hard day that day, but that just completely went away after visiting this family, when you get to see these miracles of conversion in peoples lives, it makes every challenga nd struggle about the work more than worth it, I love missionary work.
-we got a brand new car! haha, ours was old so when the mission traded in a few of the mission cars ours was one of them!
-We had the chance to give a blessing to a few less active members these past few weeks, one in the hospital, one at their home. I had a feeling after giving each of them that though these experiences, their families faith in the priesthood will grow and these blessings will be another seed of faith in their hearts. as I sit here writing this I remember when a few disciples brought a blind man to the saviour and asked “who sinned? this man or his parents that he was born blind? and the saviour said, neither this man nor his parents, but that the works of god should be manifest in him, and he then healed him of his blindness, and it lead many to believe… anyway, I have not felt that impression many times, but I do pray that the lord will show to these families his love and power ūüôā
-I got to sign up for my classes at byu! thanks so much mom for helping me get the sign in info!
-There was an investigator that I taught a few months ago named PJ, apparently soon after I left the missionaries lost contact with him :/ but you know what happened! twice in the past two weeks I have run into him while walking down the street! What amazing timing! I expect them to be more than coincidences, its amazing to me how the lord guides our paths to meet the people that we must meet, in this case, he literally guided our physical walking route! Twice, haha, pretty cool, it was good to find that he is still interested in learning about the gospel, hopefully we can meet with him again soon! but I am greatful that we were placed in a position to make contact with him again!
-We visited another investigator family that I taught before (you can tell that a lot of what we have been doing is going back to people I knew last time I was here, I have been so sure that it is for many of them that I have had this blessing to return to this area, so I have been searching for those people) anyway, they are a kiwi family and it was amazing! we just wanted to read a chapter of the book of Mormon with them, and… I don’t think I would recommend this as a great teaching method or anything, I have never done it before and may never do it again, haha, but I just asked shae what her favourite number is, and that is the chapter in alma that we read, haha. yeah, not the most reliable way to choose a chapter to read, but you know what? it was absolutely perfect! she said she liked the number 7 and alma seven was awesome! its just all about the atonement and baptism and the love of god! I could not have picked a better chapter! haha, and I was thinking that even if I had chosen this chapter myself it would not have been as good because then it may have appeared that we were trying to¬†push baptism on them, but it was all very natural and uplifting, and jorden and shae and Andrew all said they would like to be baptised when we invited them! It was interesting when I asked Jorden if she would prepare for baptism, she said, “yeah, I think I can do it”… I don’t know why but I found that an interesting response, I asked her why she would like to be baptised, and she said that it was because she wants to be happy and believes this path is the way to happiness. wow, awesome, this helped us so much to know how to teach them, I feel like they love the church and gospel, they want to do it, but maybe just have some doubts in themselves, whether they are “good enough” or something.¬†but there is a seed of hope there, I agree, I think they can do it ūüôā we just have to help them to come to church! Anyway, it was a great teaching moment, Its so wonderful to have these chances to see into peoples hearts and then make plans on how to help them come unto Christ.
-So, there is an awesome guy that I have been trying to see ever since returning to the area, he is an excommunicated member of the church, I know I wrote about him last time I was in bankstown, because teaching him was very special, he knows and desires the blessings of the gospel in ways that no investigators could, because he has had those blessings once before and now doesn’t. Anyway, I was really devastated to hear that the missionaries have not been able to visit him in months, so I have been trying the past few weeks, but had the same troubles they did! its really hard to catch him at home!!!! but guess what ūüôā we finally found him at home, and guess what else? he said that earlier that day he had wanted to call the missionaries and ask them to come, but then didn’t, and he was amazed that we were there at his door. perhaps the lords hand was in us not being able to catch him at any previous date, because he knew the impact it would make if we came on the very day that he needed us and wanted to call us but chose not to. that kinda made me feel bad about the frustration that I felt with not being able to see him sooner! Another reminder to trust in the Lord’s timing and wisdom. Anyway, it was awesome, another one of those times that I felt like we were ministering to one of gods children, not just teaching a lesson. He is a great soul, he has a long journey ahead of him to get to where he needs to be, but I know he can get there, there was a special and powerful spirit in that meeting, I know the Lord Loves this man.
-It was Tonga day on Saturday! they had a festival in one of the parks in our area so we went down for a bit for one of the missionaries in our ward named Elder Naulangi, who is from tonga. It was fun, I love tongans, they love the missionaries, everyone was saying hello to us and giving us free food as we walked around. Seriously we were only there for a few minutes but when we left we had more food than we could carry haha, and we did not even know any of these people! Polynesians are really amazing in that way, no matter what church they belong to, they always respect and support ministers of Christ, its woven deeply into their culture, so anyway, we got out of there pretty quick! but it was really a fun experience, and I think elder nau langi enjoyed it because he is just new and cant speak much English so it was good to be around so much tongan culture for a while!
-oh speaking of elder naulangi, he and elder Naidu (samoan) moved in with us! they have a lot of investigators close to where we live so its more convenient for them to live with us since they don’t have a car. They are tons of fun, always laughing and smiling, I am so happy to be finishing in a flat with 4 elders, its so much fun, these two especially, they crack me up.
Running out of time so Ill have to cut it there, but I love you all so much. only 3 weeks to go, I hope you are all well ūüôā
Love,
Elder Faulkner!!!
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October 27, 2013

Dear Family,
wow, what a crazy week, in a good way of course!. seriously though, it is amazing to me how as a missionary everything in your life can change in no time at all! When you are transferred, all the places, people, responsibilities of daily life change completely! It means a lot to have people at home to write to, I am glad that you dont change!! haha.
so, I promised to write a little about my last week in bathurst! I wont be able to write everything I had wanted to, but I wanted to send just a few thoughts!
-we had a lesson with the northey family, the feeling I kept having in the lesson is that “they are just too nice and humble of people for the spirit not to work on them!” haha. They are a part member family, and when we first met them they made it clear that they were not planning on coming back to church, but they were happy for us to visit! As I expected though, as we have visited them a few times, they seem to be very interested in the message we have to share! I have found that when people are as nice as this family is, it doesnt take much for the spirit to tough their hearts and change their minds ūüôā I hope to hear good things about them in the future!
-I found out that one of the missionaries I was a zone leader to, who finished his mission a few months ago is now a branch president to 3 branches in china! This elder is very special, his name is elder Liu, he visited hong kong a while ago and had all the misisonary lessons and was baptised in 2 days! He really wanted to serve a mission, but obviously, growing up in china there was not much opportunity to join the church until he visited hong kong… He did not know much at all when he started his mission, he even told me that he first learned how to pray while in the MTC! but now, he will be one of the most experienced priesthood leaders in China having served a mission. what a miracle, I am so greatful to have examples like elder Liu in my life.
-Brother Su’a appointed us his counsellors in the elders quorum since he did not have any, haha. that was short lived for me! haha, so fun getting to have additional responsibilities while serving in small branches.
-We went on companion exchanges with the assistants to the mission president, during that, Elder Heata gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever heard as a missionary, he said that there are very few missionaries that can be trusted to get the job done, but he said that he and president look to me as one of those missionaries that they can trust to put in any area, with any companion, with any assignment and not worry that I can do it. That was very special to me, I dont know if elder heata would have known this, but president simmons (my first mission president in sydney) once challenged me near the beginning of my mission to become that kind of missionary, he used almost the exact wording elder heata used, so be an elder that he could trust with anything! This really humbled me, to see some evidence that I am becoming the kind of missionary my mission president wants me to be. I am so greatful Elder Heata was willing to share this with me, gives me alot of confidence with my current assignment which I see as one of the most importnatn and also most intimidating assignments a missionary can have! I hope I can live up to what president Lew and Elder Heata see in me!
-Ahh, so much more I could share, but ill leave it there ūüôā I loved my time in bathurst, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead now!
So, that leads me to thsi past week!!! Man, it was awesome! I think I wrote last week about how I am back in bankstown with 8 missionaries! It has indeed proved to be a challenge to divide the work here! honestly, It did make me a little sad to realise that most of the people I taught when I was here are now being taught by the other missionaries, It took a lot to swallow my pride and be okay with that and be willing to just go and find new people to teach. But it was not as hard as I tohught it might be, you really look at things differently when you only have 5 weeks to go! I am not going to waste any of that time being upset! And there is not reason to! I am realising that there are so many things that I wanted to do here that I was not able to because we were so busy teaching our investigators. I am so excited to now have time to go and meet the other members that I did not have a chance to get to know before, and to extent a hand of love and fellowship to them, we have already received several refferals from members as well that we will hopefully be able to begin teaching this week! I keep telling my new companion that this is one of the best wards in the mission, probably the world! haha, he is so lucky to have this as his first area! The members are just so wonderful and supportive and excited about missionary work! and it shows! On tuesday we went to the weekly rescue night and it has really grown in the past 3 months! there were over 20 priesthood bretheren that met and then split off to go and visit less active and part member families. And it has been working! I was amazed at church yesterday to find that the church attendance has grown dramatically, in only 3 months! I think before there were usually about 200 people at sacrament, but the average has grown to close to 270!!!! wow, this is the work of the rescue, that president monson keeps emphasising, at work! I am just so impressed with the leaders and members of this ward at how they have answered the call to rescue, its a miracle, perhaps that will be one of the greatest blessings in being able to come back to this ward, to see that amazing progress, to witness what was announced in the reccent worldwide leadership trainging broadcast, that the Lord is hastening his work! That is certainly happening here in banckstown first ward! The examples of the leaders and priesthood brethren in this ward will bless me forever!
-During the rescue night I went to visit the takai family with brother talivakaola, I really did not know this brother at all when we¬†paired off to go visit the family, I found out later that¬†I did not know him because when I was here 3 months ago he was less-active! but a few months ago he made the decision to come back to church, and is now helping each week to go and rescue others! He really has a special testimony, he has seen the light of the gospel come back into his life and it has made such a marvellous difference to him, and he wants to share that with others! It was a special night, he told me as we drove back to the chapel that when bishop told him to pair up with me,¬†he was really nervous! The reason he was nervous was because before that night, bishop always took him with him, probably because he is just new back to church and wanted to be there to support him!¬†So this was his first rescue visit without bishop! I was so greatful to be with him for that experience, we had a really very spiritual lesson with the takai’s and brother talivakaola¬†kept telling me over and over again¬†as we drove back to the chapel¬†how impressed he was with how comfortable and confident I was in teaching and thanking me for helping him and supporting him in what we shared, wow, I did not even know he was reccently re-activated, I had no idea how special an experience this was for him until after!¬†I am so greatful bishop was prompted to pair me up with brothe talivakaola, It was a very meaningful night for me to see how excited he was to be involved with home teaching and how happy his with being back in church, I love this guy!
-We voulenteered on thursday with a youth organization called “bankstown multi-cultural youth centere” I was awesome! we just helped with a barbaque for some struggling and underprivledged youth in the community, the amazing thing was that we actually met 5 or 6 less active members through this activity! It may be something we do every friday because it was so sucessful! they also have a football comp on wednesdays that we may be able to help with as well! I really had not done much of this sort of thing on my mission until I went to the PCYC with elder moyes in cowra, but I have really enjoyed working with the youth in the community, so hopefully we can continue to work with this organization in the next few weeks!
-I am back running in the mornings! I am glad that my new companion is willing to run! I am very displeased with how out of shape I am! haha, but its good to be back running! hopefully it doesnt take too long to get back to where I was before my mission!
-We got to help with the stake primary activity saturday morning! it was so much fun! the theme was “I can be a missionary now”. the kids got a “mission call” to a country, and then went to a room about that country and learned a bit about the culture, got some cultral food, and learned a song in the language, we helped sister jackson from our ward in the “chile mission” haha, then there were several activities for the kids, the station we helped with was “a day in the life of a missionary” it was just a bunch of little challenges loosly related to missionary life, haha, it was so much fun! I am not sure missionary work is meant to be as much fun as we have had this week! haha, just kidding, I have really learned how to balance work with fun as a missionary! I am glad we have had a few activities like this for elder lacroix’s first week!
Oh, yeah! duh, I have not told you about my new companion yet! His name is Elder Lacroix, he is from canada! He is awesome! so fresh out of the MTC, haha, its great, I am so glad to be training! Still getting to know eachother!
-I was very touched by our ward mission leader this week, I love this man so much, He went and bought us a shopping cart full of groceries, I know how much his family struggles financially, so it was so hard to keep back the tears when I saw this, in fact, its even harder to keep back the tears now as I am writing this,¬†I am not sure if the other elders know how much he sacrifices for us, but I do, and its so hard to accept! I begged him for something we could do for his family in return, but he responded as he has before by saying, “no, we will be fine, I know the Lord blesses us as we serve the missionaries” I have thought about this alot this week, it has really been new for me to be the recipiant of such charity as a missionary, but I am coming to know that the Lord really does bless the people who serve us, I have seen it so many times, It really does not have much to do with us at all, it is because we are the Lords servants, so, I have offered several fervent prayers this week for brother manakafoa’s family, and all others who have fed, clothed and helped us as missionaries,¬†prayers of gratitude for their kindness and faith, and to request that they receive many blessings for their sacrifices on our behalf. I hope as a servant of the Lord those prayers will reach heaven, and be answered with many blessings upon the heads of these wonderful people.
Ah, there is never enough time! haha, just a few concluding notes!
-We visited Lewly and nela this week, you may remeber that lewly was baptised when I was here before, and nela was reccently returning to church, well guess what? they both now have callings!!!!! Lewly is a secratary in primary, Nela is a ward missionary! I cannot tell you how heppy this made me to see them and to see them doing so well! I love this family so much.
-I told you last week about how the Aiken family got baptised! I so wish that I could have been there to see it, but, it was enough to get to see them this week, sister aiken was so happy, it touched me when she told me about how happy joining the church has made their family and how greatful she is for all that we have done, especially for brother Aiken, when we first started teaching this family, brother Aiken had alot of concerns that he was quite stubborn with! haha, but over the past few months as the missionaries have continued teaching them, His heart has softened, and I got to see both brothe Aiken and their son bruce receive the aaronic priesthood. IT amazes me every time, the miracle of a family coming into or returing to the church, I say this alot, but it makes every struggle and pain associated with this work just fade away when you see these miracles happen in the lives of real people. I love my mission.
-So, Just to finish off, I just want to say again how happy I am to be back here in bankstown, It has made me just so so happy to be reunited with so many people I knew here, I have been really overwhelmed by how genuinely happy many of these people have been to see me be transferred back into the ward, it was almost like coming home for me, I think I will really enjoy these last 5 weeks, I love these people, It is such a priviledge to be back in the ward!
Anyway, I love you all, I look forward so much to hearing from you this week!
God Bless you
Elder Ryan Faulkner
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October 21, 2013

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Dear Family,
Wow, A lot of news to share from this week, I am kicking myself because I forgot to bring my daily planner to emails so I am kinda forgetting everything that happened this past week!Ill do my best to remember the highlights, but I may have to fill in on any missing details next week! because it was really a great week last week, very eventful and right now just kinda feels like a blur!
So, the biggest news is that is was transfers yesterday, so our preparation day was moved to today! I will be spending the last 6 weeks of my mission in the Bankstown 1st ward! I cannot believe it! In case you have forgotten, this was the last ward that I served in! I really loved it here alot! Also, I will be training a brand new missionary! I wish I could tell you more about him, but he is not even in australia yet! gets here tommorrow morning! Ill be honest, I am a bit nervous about training, I am just thinking about how much of an influence my trainer had on me, so I recognize how great of a responsibility this is. Ill try to do my very best!
It looks like things will be a bit different here in bankstown from a few months ago. 3 months ago it was just elder bennison and I and now there is 8 elders in the ward! seriously! 8! its crazy, so we’ll see what that means as far as the work goes! What is amazing to hear is that a family that I taught here, the Aiken family (Bruce and sarah are the parents and two kids named angela and thomas) were baptised this past weekend! I am so incredibly happy about this! Its so wonderful to see an entire family that I have taught come into the church ūüôā and I am glad I will be here to help them along as new members. They actually just live down the road from us now! my companion and I will be staying at a flat that is brand new to the mission, yesterday felt like christmas opening up and setting up all new appliances and supplies for the apartment, it was great! I have never had so much new stuff all at once!
 SO, anyway, Ill definitely fill you in more next week with my new companion and about everything thats happening in bankstown!
IMG_0344I just want to take a second to say how grateful I am for the chance to serve in bathurst branch, I am also glad that I got one more chance to speak in sacrament meeting before I left. The people there are such incredible examples to me, I keep thinking to myself that I will probably be looking to them as examples of the faithful devoted saints of this church for the rest of my life. They really are very special people there, it was an honor to be a part of re-opening that area to missionary work, It was a constant miracle that unfolded before my eyes each day as I watched the work slowly build and grow, mostly due to the sacrifice and dedication of the members there who supported us every step of the way. Those people make me want to be a better man, there must be a reason the Lord wanted me to serve in this branch, and I am sure it was at least part of it was to teach and to build me. I wont let this experience and these lessons be wasted on me! I hope I can be like them, faithful, consistent saints no matter the circumstance or opposition.
I dont know why, but I just dont really feel like I have alot of words in me at the moment, so ill probably have to save everything else for newxt weeks letter, but Ill finish with one more note! we got to go to the temple this morning, I had not been in several months, and it was the first time I have seen the new video presentation (which totally blew me away, its the same exact thing as before, but so very well done). This was a very special experience for me, I am so amazed that the very first day here in my new area was the mortdale zone temple trip, how lucky is that? ūüôā Anyway, This morning was a very special experience for me, as you can imagine right now is a very… i dont know how to word it… significant? time for me on my mission, coming to a new area, thinking back on the amazing happenings of the last 23 months of my life, looking forward to my future life and everything that includes, thinking about how I can make my final¬†few weeks of the mission¬†the most productive and meaningful, kinda stressing about how I can be a good trainer and support and friend to my new companion.. I have a lot on my mind these days…¬†ALOT,¬†and I cannot tell you how much those few hours in the temple meant to me, I want to go back again tommorrow! haha, There is an incredible peace and power within the walls of the Lord’s house, I really cannot explain it, like I said, I just want to go back! Anyway, I thought of something I heard a few weeks ago… I cannot even remember who said it or if it was a quote or what, but someone said that they have gone to the temple many times in their life, sometimes they have gone simply out of duty, sometimes it felt like a chore or responsibility to go, but never in their life have they left the temple without feeling uplifted, endowed with strength, and with joy…IMG_0300
Anyway, I just want everyone who reads this to know how happy I feel at the moment, about everything in my life. I am kinda just in awe of alot of it, I cannot really understand why I have been so fortunate and blessed, especially reccently, I just am once again so reassured of how mindful our heavenly father is of us, how much he loves us, its just one of those times that all those blessings seem to have aligned for me in a very profound way. I love this mission so very much, I love the Lord so much. Anyway, thats all the words I got in me for the moment, struggling to get past this very reflective mood I am in at the moment, haha, I wish you could see inside my head.
I love you all, have a wonderful week,
Elder Ryan Faulkner
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October 13, 2013

Dear Family,
Wow, it has been a crazy week! It was a really fun week actually! I am pretty awesome, but am feeling on a bit of a happy buzz right now, haha ūüėČ
So this is the last week of the transfer! You never really know what will happen with transfers, but since there are over 40 missionaries coming in next week, I really have no idea what will happen! We’ll definitely be working as hard as we can this week and do the best we can to see everyone that we have been working withjust in case one of us move! In fact, a couple weeks back I started planning for the whole rest of the transfer just to be sure that I could accomplish all that I wanted and needed to here in Bathurst and in the zone, I did not want to miss anything Just in case! Anyway, I am feeling really great at the moment, With general¬†conference and some other great experiences we have had, I am just really feeling at a high these days!
Let me tell you about some of the fun and meaningful experiences we had this past week!
-So on preparation day it was a public holiday, so everything was closed and we had to email at the chapel. Since there is only one computer there we had to take turns, I got a bit bored while elder Skinner was emailing and ended up finding some balloons and learned how to make balloon animals, haha, I also found an old film projector and some old film reels, that was a ton of fun! but a major highlight was that I took some time to just take a nap, that did a lot of good! I had felt pretty exhausted so I was glad to have some time to catch up on some rest, it makes a huge difference!
-On Monday evening all our plans ended up falling through, which was a bummer initially, but ended up being a great thing! at exactly the same moment elder skinner and I both thought to go visit a part member family that we have been trying for weeks to visit and teach. When we pulled up to their house, Adam who is not a member was outside and said “hey boys want to come in for a feed?” which was funny because about five minutes before I was telling elder skinner how hungry I was (I skipped dinner during preparation day to have more time to sleep and write a letter, haha) so we got to have dinner with adam and Kiara who is a less active member, and also adam’s grandmother, we got to share a short message and found out that adam has been working on some painting, so we talked him into letting us help him, which he seemed really greatful for! so Saturday we got to spend a bit more time helping him out and getting to know him. He is a cool guy, since he is 24 and has many similar interests to me it was really a fun time, he is a great guy, looks like we’ll be having a lot more to do with this couple! Funny story was that when we got there Saturday morning, we got started on painting and then adam had to duck out for a minute to drive kiara to work, we thought he would be back in about 10 minutes, but he ended up getting pulled over by the police because his registration was expired, haha. Poor guy, there were so many cops in town this weekend for the Bathurst races which ill tell you more about in a second! fortunately he did not get fined! but¬†the painting¬†was great fun, we even went over to watch his cricket match later that day during our lunch time.
-Sister Child took us over to have a tour of¬†their house that the church begun renting for the senior couple coming in a few weeks, it is really really nice! we were joking that maybe they will move the elders in there and give the senior couple our flat, haha. we’ll see.
-Before I forget, I have an idea for a Christmas gift for my friends and family this year, I have been working on it for a while and it is finally piecing together, Ill keep it a secret for now, but wanted to mysteriously allude to it here to hopefully pique your interests and get you excited, its pretty dang cool I think. haha
-So I told you about the successful young men’s activity a week ago, well guess what! the young mens and young womens presidents have decided to start holding weekly mutual activities on Tuesdays! There is not a whole lot of youth, but definitely enough to have a successful activity each week, Since there are some less active or semi-active youth, I think it will be a very important thing to keep them connected to the church! I am glad that they have asked us to be there as well ūüôā this week we had a short spiritual thought and then learned how to make muffins, all the young men came! it was awesome, this week the young men are in charge, so I am looking forward to it! I am so happy that the branch has decided to have mutual again! I remember how much I loved mutual and boy scouts, I think that did so much in encouraging me to be involved in the church and surround myself with wholesome friends and influences as a youth, I am so happy that these wonderful youth will now have this in their lives!\
-This is a bit weird, but one day when we got back to our flat, we found some kind of animal faeces on the ground. what the? we searched for a long time but could not find any ferrel animals lurking around our flat, we could not find any open doors or windows and we could not find anything else amiss, this was pretty weird, the only thing we could think of was that maybe when we left our garage in the morning a cat or something got in when we had the garage door open and then it ran out stealthily when I opened the door later that evening. Anyway, we cannot really account for this, but it helps me to sleep at night, haha. sorry for the weird story, but it was a notable feature of our week! haha
-So one of the biggest highlights of the week of course was general conference!!! Everyone in the states would have seen this last week, but here in Australia they play it the following weekend. Since we are in a small branch, they chose to only play the sunday morning and priesthood sessions. Quick funny story, we told our branch president that we would download the sessions and copy it to the chapel computer for him. Since we were going to be on exchanges in cowra on Friday and coming back Saturday morning, and the branch chose to play the priesthood session at 7am on Saturday, we were going to have to miss priesthood, so we watched it on our own on Wednesday, Ill tell you more about my thoughts on conference and the companion exchange in a minute, but guess what, somehow we forgot to copy the sessions before we left for cowra, I am still kicking myself about this! so… we ended up driving back to Bathurst Saturday morning so we could deliver the sessions before¬†7am. haha. Cowra is an hour and a half away! haha. so.. we ended up having to wake up at¬†5am¬†to be there on time. I think the reason we forgot, was because the Lord wanted us to see the priesthood session twice, and as tired as I was, I am so glad that I was able to! For anyone who may not have seen it, The entire first presidency spoke! this amazed me! I don’t have a great memory, maybe this happens all the time? but I cant recall this happening recently that the whole first presidency spoke in one session of conference? well… whether it is unique or not, I was so grateful for that, Especially grateful to see it twice and I am thinking of watching that session a third time. I really learned so much, I hope everyone, including the sisters will take the time to read the messages, they did so much for me, This is true of a lot of the talks in the other sessions as well, but it seemed to me that the talks in the priesthood session were personalised to me, they spoke right to my heart, my mind turned so much to my family and loved ones as well and their needs, and what I can do to be a better friend, son, brother, and future husband. I am just filled with a hope and a desire to be a good priesthood man, I am so greatful for the great leaders of this church, they display for me in their lives and their words everything that I want in my life. Sometimes I drift from that eternal perspective, and even with it, I am far from perfect in putting that vision into practice in my daily life, but I am just so grateful for conference and how it refocuses me and fills me with hope on¬†what is most important in my life. I felt the sincerity and the Love of the first presidency, they know we are not perfect, but they make me want to be¬†better, one day at a time. I especially loved elder Uctdorfs talk, he spoke generally, but also directly to me, that “you can do it now”… If there is just one talk I would want everyone in my family to read it would be that one.¬†in fact here is a link! ¬†¬†http://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/2013/10/you-can-do-it-now?lang=eng¬† I add my witness to his, that the saviour loves us, he has patience and longsuffering for us, no matter how many times we may have fallen, we can do better today, we can overcome those things that have been ailing us, we can be redeemed, transformed. It is so easy to give into the lie that we are our mistakes or that its too late, but with the saviour, it is never too late, it is never too much. My mission has taught me this, well, specific people I have known on my mission have shown me this, that it is possible to overcome the past, redemption is real and it is possible, so I add my confidence and assurance¬†to what elder Uctdorf Said :”We acknowledge that your path will at times be difficult. But I give you this promise in the name of the Lord: rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal¬†gratitude¬†that you chose to trust the Atonement and its power to lift you up and give you strength. My dear friends and brethren, no matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now! Of this I testify in the sacred name of our Master and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen.” He shared an experience where he had fallen and could not get up, but with the assurance and in the hand of his grandson, he found the strength to rise up… I don’t know the needs or the pains of everyone who may read this, but if I had the wish of my heart, I would take you by the hand, hold you¬†close,¬†look you in the eyes and tell you that you can do this, whatever your struggle may be. I wish I could be that for you, but at very least, I share this testimony in the name of the Lord, with him, all things are possible. I give my thanks to many who have filled that role for me.
– We had a wonderful time on exchanges in cowra, I had never been to cowra before! It was a blast, I got to work with Elder Moyes, he is¬†such a great elder. It was a great day as well. Its funny, I got to see the cowra chapel for the first time, it is actually just a house! haha, I should have gotten a picture, it is a normal white house with a big sign out front saying The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! I got to meet several of the members out there, they are so wonderful! This district just amazes me! in every branch there are such faithful and strong saints that keep the church alive and vibrant out here in the frontiers of the church. I picture myself looking back to my time as a missionary in the orange district for many years to come,¬†to find a great well of faith and strength and example. These good members are just that for me, amazing pillars and examples of faith and devotion that will inspire and strengthen me perhaps forever. Anyway, it was a fun day, I saw a camel! random, I thought there were only camels in the northern territory. We also went and volunteered at the PCYC in the evening, which is the “police citizens youth centre” Kind of like a YMCA run by the police here. It was really cool, the cowra elders volunteer there a lot and Friday night was basically just a sports night that gives underprivileged and troubled youth a place to go to stay out of trouble and escape from difficult households.¬†We just helped run the whole thing, there was over 60 youth there and only two officers, so it probably was a bit of relief to them, and gave us the chance to play a bit of touch rugby and basketball with the kids. It was really a blast, I was very impressed with the kids as well, according to the officers many of them have criminal records, but it seemed like they all got along quite well and were sharing and working together, it was great to see! It made me so grateful for my family and all of the wonderful opportunities and positive environment they provided for me as a kid, I wish everyone was so fortunate. I hope these kids will be able to rise up and see their great potential, anyway, it was a great experience. Anyway, the best part of the exchange was getting to know elder Moyes better, At the end of the exchange it really amazed me how much he opened up and trusted me and valued my feedback, seriously this amazes me that anyone of the missionaries in this mission would look to me for any amount of leadership or advice, I see elder moyes as such a strong missionary, but because of his humility and strength we were able to have a really great discussion and I was able to give him some encouragement, counsel and bear testimony. I just love being a zone leader¬†in these moments, sometimes the love I feel and the words that come out of me seem like so much more than anything that comes from me. I have learned so much about the saviour and leadership in this zone, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
-so time is running short, so Ill start wrapping up! one cool experience was that elder skinner and I taught a lesson in a sheep shearing shed this week, haha. Elder skinner keeps saying it felt like we were in one of those doctrine and covenants movies of missionaries soon after the restoration teaching farmers or something. haha, I don’t know about that, but it was pretty unique. Its definitely different as a missionary out here in the country!
-So, to finish up, I could not forget to mention that it was the Bathurst races this weekend!! wow, it was something else, obviously we did not go to the actual races, but it was impossible to ignore the event! Thousands of people from all over the country poured in for the event, streets were packed, shops were packed, there were people camping out in pretty much every available piece of grass around town, you could hear the roar of the engines from all the way across town, including all through our church meetings, haha. There were even louder jet planes and helicopters and trick planes flying overhead constantly, and of course it was all everyone was talking about all week! Even in cowra! apparently there are people who stay there because accommodation is completely full in bathurst and drive into Bathurst to watch, apparently people rent out their homes for people to stay in as well for thousands of dollars, its hard to even describe how big a deal this was for the town, they estimated like a 25 million dollar profit for the week. Man, I know nothing about car racing, but the country people love it! haha. We did take a few minutes to park on a hill a few kilometres away and could see a fair bit of the race, they do go pretty fast! and it is a very windy course.
Anyway, I have got to go. Love you all very much ūüôā
Elder Faulkner
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