March 17, 2013

Hey everyone!

I hope you all had as good of a week as I did! Ill start with the best news of all. One of our investigators named Liu Seve (Samoan) was baptised this Saturday! This is exciting for a lot of reasons, of course we all know the significance of baptism, being our first covenant with our Heavenly Father and the gate all must enter to start on their journey to eternal life, this is an exciting and sacred step for everyone in their lives. For Liu this meant a few big changes. First her husband is our assistant ward mission leader! so this represents a first step to one day being sealed together as an eternal family, which is a precious hope and inspiration. Second, her parents family is of another faith, for those who are not familiar with polynesian culture, religion is a big part of their lives, when someone choses to convert to another religion, this runs a high risk of family persecution, so for her, this has been a big step of faith. But perhaps her biggest challenge has been giving up smoking. Believe it or not, Liu is one of the first investigators I have taught that has had a smoking addiction, so this was new to me! Ill tell you story from when we were teaching her a few weeks back that has been very instructive to me. Just as a background, liu speaks almost no english, most of the teaching had to be done through reading samoan church literature and translating through fellowship. Also, Liu had been investigating the church for about 9 months with very little progress, mostly (I assume) because of her difficulty in giving up smoking. Ok the story, it had come to that point in teaching that we had to once again bring up the word of wisdom, and once again invite her to live it. My companion had an inspired idea to ask her to make two lists, he took a piece of paper and drew a line down the middle, he wrote on the top of one side “good”, and on the other side “bad” and asked her to write the good and bad things about smoking… the result was not quite what we anticipated, for the next several minutes we watched her write her thoughts, we could not see what she was writing, but it was apparent that the “Good” side was filling up while the bad side was still left blank. Obviously we had hoped that she would see as we do, that there are no benefits, and only harm that comes from smoking, but to our surprise and worry she was coming up with quite the opposite view!  However, before she handed the paper back she made one sentence on the “Bad” side. As we silently read her responses I was overwhelmed with compassion tword her, I cant remember everything, but she said that smoking was like a friend to her, that whenever she was lonely scared or upset it became her relief, it was something she could rely on, it was her escape. on the other side all she had was : “I want to be with my family forever” For the next several minutes, I believe the spirit gave us the words to say, we testified of the atonement of christ, we challenged her to transform her reliance on smoking into faith on the saviour, we promised divine aid, and invoked those blessings of heaven upon her. Her response was something that we did not quite understand, she said, in a somewhat frustrated voice, I understand what you are saying, give me a week and I will be ready to be baptised… we both looked at each other shocked, first, because she had never before made such a commitment, second, because we had never heard her speak so much english before! haha. After the lesson we were talking and both worried that perhaps we had been too bold, that we had made her uncomfortable and she was just trying to end the disscussion, but, That was several weeks ago, she has not smoked since, I have learned so much from this. I think sometimes it is difficult to understand what repentance requires, especially for others, but from Liu seve I have learned that it requires faith, now that is quite obvious, faith always proceeds repentance, but I am humbled to have witnessed how tangible and physical our faith sometimes must be, for her, she had to give up something that has been a comfort to her for years, in pursuit of something she cannot see. She had to abandon a support that she had come to trust, in favour of a hope that many mock and disbelieve. I hope that this will be forever written on my heart, that a promise that was given through me was fulfilled. Because the Gospel is true, and the Atonement is a reality, the promise we gave her, that the saviour would fill that gap that smoking temporarily masked, has now become a reality in her life. If this was not was not truly a commandment from God, our words would have failed. After her baptism she came to us and thanked us for teaching her what she needed to know to find salvation and to have an eternal family, we were once again shocked at how much english she was speaking! (Usually she only says about 1 on 2 words of english) Yesterday she was confirmed a member of the church, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I witness with her, that if we will strip ourselves of pride, and turn from our sins and follow the true and living God, we can in fact be with our loved ones forever, according to the merciful plan of our heavenly father, and the Atoning sacrifice of His son.
Other cool things from this week was a stake multi cultural festival on saturday. It was an amazing turn out, all kinds of food and performances, it was an incredible sucess. WE had another zone conference, We have also been on two exchanges this week and have been expanding our english class! If you have any ideas (maybe chad or dad) on prompting an english class that would be helpful. Today we also have a zone preparation day, should be fun.
I love you guys heaps, let me know whats new and how everyone is.
Elder Faulkner
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