We had a zone temple trip on Tuesday. It was really wonderful. I suppose there would be very few times or places that can compare with the spirit and power within the walls of the temple. It really is a spiritual haven, I really wish we could go more frequently than we are allowed, that’s one thing I look forward to about after my mission will be the chance to attend the temple more often. it is a wonderful place, a holy place, truly the house of the Lord.
Apart from the temple experience itself it was a very fun trip. Wollongong ward actually had a ward temple trip scheduled the same day so we travelled up on a mini bus driven by their bishop. I was a bit worried that it might not make it up the hills on the princes highway out of “the gong” (Wollongong), but slowly, we made it. A few other missionaries and I ended up singing hymns the whole ride to Carlingford. I was kinda surprised at the confidence I had here! I am not a very talented singer but somehow I hit every note the whole way, I think these hymns really added to the spiritual nature of the day, so I am grateful for this blessing despite still recovering from a cold.. Another highlight was afterward on the ride back the bishop took us to Costco food court for lunch. If you have never been there… Go. The food is huge, cheap and delicious, definitely reminds me of America. Anyway, Costco pizza included, everything about this day was a slice of heaven.
Backtracking a bit… on Monday a few families did a service project at the chapel, the ladies decorated the notice boards around the building while the men cut carpet to be mounted to the hymnbook holders on the back of the pews in the chapel, I have never notice the noise but apparently after hymns there is an obnoxious noise when people return the books to their wooden holders, and this will absorb some of that sound. The real blessing here was that Pokiah (Brother Mathews) came with the kids. The first time to the chapel in a long time, they all had a great time, I have some more great news on them for later!
So being the last week of the transfer, the district got together for P-day, we decided to go take some photos at a lookout in Wollongong, it took a while to drive there but the elders had heard it was an impressive view. When we got there we found thick fog that limited our visibility to only a few meters, not quite the gorgeous coastline vista we were searching for but provided a nice white backdrop for a district photo and a funny memory, haha.
We had a zone training meeting on Friday, great to see everyone. On our train ride there when I was looking for a seat a man said “elder come have a seat” Its always a bit iffy when people I don’t know invite me to come and have a chat, I cant tell you how often this has led to people wanting to have a “bible bash” as we call it, but now and again it is a huge miracle, so I am always keen to talk to anyone who contacts me! This was actually a member from Nowra branch, we were having a great chat, mostly hi sharing memories from his mission until a close friend of his spotted us and sat across from me. After a few introductions this member started introducing the gospel to his friend, it turned into a really great lesson. From what I could gather, these two have never talked about religion previously, but today, I hardly said anything, this man was excited and willing to teach his friend the gospel. This taught me a lot about my calling, it seemed just our presence gave this man the confidence to open his mouth to his friend and share his testimony for the first time. Sometimes just us being there has a great effect, sometimes we don’t really need to say much at all. Now of course this does not have much to do with me personally, but my calling and ordination. I have seen this a lot on my mission, that as we visit people, even without teaching hardly at all, our presence have motivated people to change or to take action in living the gospel. This humbles me a great deal, to have the privilege of wearing this badge and to carry a calling and ordination that has such a power and influence. My grandfather told me before I went to the MTC that “it will not always so much be what you say or what you do that matters, but who you are that is important” Who I am has a great deal with my testimony and faith and conversion, but also “who I am” is a missionary. This is a great motivation to me to go and just meet as many people as I can, I may not be able to convince anyone of the gospel, but I have seen the power in the fact that I have been called of God to represent Christ to these people, sometimes just being there is whats needed, other times we may try the virtue of the word of God, for I have seen the preaching of the word has a great tendency to motivate the people to do that which is just (that’s somewhere in the book of Mormon I cant remember where) haha. But perhaps this will be a thought for us in our callings whatever they may be, the Lord is pleased for you to just be there, that can do much good, but as we seek to magnify our roles whatever they may be, we will see greater good, and His hand in the work.
I will share something in confidence that has been humbling and touching to me I wont share any details. There is a family that we teach that had the trust in us to tell us that they have both recently been diagnosed with an incurable disease. This is something they have told no one, not even family. I was amazed at the compassion that I was filled with toward them. They are slowly making their way back through repentance, but are sadly suffering from some lasting effects of every kind of sin. There are so many more details that I will keep private to myself, but I thank the Lord to have known this family. They are amazing to me, they have a long way to go still, but I can see in them quite readily the redeeming power of the atonement that extends to all people that will turn to Christ. I may leave it at that for now, I am struggling to form thoughts on this, but Ill say that from hearing where they once were, and seeing where they are now, and having faith in what they may be, I know now like never before that with God, nothing is impossible. I feel so inadequate to the calling to be one God has asked to be their support and help, but I am grateful that through them I am coming to know our father in heaven more, and to love him more, and trust him more, I know he’ll be them.
So we went to see our converts Stephanie and Dan this week, also amazing example of repentance as I have expressed before. We got there early and were talking with stephs mother. She expressed her great pleasure in what the church has done for her daughter. She used the term “I have my daughter back” she cooks now, sings, spends more time with family, is taking up old hobbies and has made a noticeable transformation. She has witnessed what I know to be the spirit of the Lord operating in her life, and is amazed by it. This is the natural result in those who have faith unto repentance and baptism in this church and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Perhaps one day this miracle she has seen in her daughter will motivate her to also investigate the restored gospel.
So Brother Matthews and the whole family came to church!!! I think I said last week that because of work he would not be able to attend, but he did! I was shocked! He works night shifts on weekends and sleeps through the day, but he decided to stay awake to come to sacrament meeting! From what sister Matthews said it was entirely His idea, no one even invited him to come to church, not even us! We were actually helping pass the sacrament and during the prayer I looked back and saw the kids, I was so happy to see them there the second week in a row! But it was not until I was passing the sacrament that I saw pokiah sitting next to sydelle. I nearly fell over! I am amazed at their progress. I think they had a great time, they were nearly the last to leave the chapel after church. It was their daughter Tylah’s birthday on Sunday and some members had made her cupcakes and were prepared with a few gifts. Later we also gave her a framed picture of the saviour and a book of Mormon story book. Anyway, really awesome!
There is so much more to tell, but that’s okay for this week. Biggest thing was Elder pito leaving. I will miss him, I have grown to love him a lot, but in some ways I feel a bit relieved, I feel like I can finally really get to work here, this last transfer has driven me a bit crazy, feeling a bit stagnant and less productive than I would like, but I am infinitely grateful for the lessons learned, I have been humbled a bit, I am glad to be gods student, Every experience on my mission has been for my Good, I have seen that especially the companions I have been given are as great a part of my calling and learning as anything else. As you know from my letters, the miracles have not ceased, despite our struggles, I really know that any success in this work really comes from Him. I have worked myself to death on my mission, perhaps this slower transfer and companionship has been to teach me that it is not my hard work that brings anything, Its God’s Work, I just have to prepare, obey, and give my heart might and mind to Him. I am so luck to have this chance to witness His work. Seeing companions go home this transfer is reminding me that my time as a full time missionary is so short. I have seven months left, I really am committed to not wasting any of that time. I look forward to what is in store.
Also a quick note. I heard that 4 of my investigators in Canberra were baptized J I am so happy.
I hope you are learning and growing as I am. Until Next week…
Elder Ryan Faulkner