April 28, 2013

Everyone!

           Wow, it has been quite a week! I can say at the end of it that I am very happy. But I have been tossed around a bit! The week started great, a member from Wollongong ward named David Potts took us on a trip to Kiama to see the blowhole, very cool! It’s a hole in the rocks along the coast, and when the sea swells up it blows through like a geyser. He also took us through some beautiful farmland to a lookout where we could see the surrounding area and the ocean, it was very impressive, unfortunately the photos just can’t do it justice. We then went through a town called Jamberoo, apparently famous for a water park, but we did not go there, just to another stunning lookout! David is a memorable fellow; he is an older, retired single bloke. He loves the missionaries in a way I have never before seen, he will literally do anything for the missionaries. I plan to stay in contact with him even after my mission, he is a genuine friend, and a great support, I will probably write more about him in the future. 
            So last week our hot water quit working! It was awful at first trying to take freezing cold showers, but since we are still waiting on it getting fixed, I have just been heating water on the stove and mastered the art of bucket showering and sponge bathing. Haha. You probably did not need to know that. But that’s the joys of missionary flats! Some are great! Some are not. haha.

            A major theme of the week is that we have been sick with the flu! Elder Pito got it first and a couple days later I got it too (although not as bas as him) We are doing better now, so no worries! Elder Pito spent nearly an entire day in bed which gave me a lot of free time! I ended up making an activity book to help teariki and tylah Matthews learn and remember the basics of the gospel. It was pretty fun, It took nearly the entire day but was worth it, because I made some copies and they loved it when we put it together the next day. It is fun to get creative and change things up sometimes, I think it also shows love and devotion and faith toward the work.

            I told you last week that we gave our investigator Troy a blessing. I don’t recall if I mentioned that we have not been able to teach them in months, they consistently cancel lessons for one reason or another. Because of this I have been praying every day that we can see them, I actually started a prayer list a few months ago so I can remember to pray for people, I add to and change this list all the time based on the work, but since I first got to Dapto Troy and Rebecca have been on there. It did not hit me until one night this week that my prayer was answered with troy’s illness! I don’t really like to think that I was the cause of his discomfort, I just ask and the Lord used his own means, but It must have been the answer to my prayer. Through that blessing we got in the door, the first time in months, a few days later we had another appointment, and they came to church this Sunday! What a miracle. I am definitely coming to know that prayer, especially consistent prayer over an extended period is a powerful tool in drawing on the powers of heaven. I would definitely recommend keeping a prayer list; I think too often we forget our own prayers! And yet expect Heavenly father to answer them, I have seen that if we will be consistent in asking, the answers come.

            I want to update you on my investigators; they really occupy the majority of my heart and mind here on a mission. I will start with the bad news. Jason, the one so close to baptism, who has been investigating for over a year told us this week that he wants to take a break from the church and the lessons for a couple of years. I was pretty heart broken, I have been thinking about this a lot, but Ill spare the details. I hope he gets there, just a few big obstacles at the moment; my heart goes out to him.

            But I do have some wonderful news! Amy came to church for the first time! She is amazing; during one of our lessons this week her daughter told us that she reads mormon.org every night! She keeps asking for more materials and new questions, she is just eating it all up! We hardly need to do anything but point her in the right direction. I mentioned to my companion that I think this is how I would be as an investigator, not because I am so spiritual or anything it’s just that when I find interest in something I research all I can on it, I almost obsess over things and just devour all the info I can get a hold of. I am honestly a bit surprised that there are not more investigators like this, what is more exciting and deep and wonderful than the restored gospel? Anyway, she is an amazing investigator and making great progress! The good news does not end there! The Matthews came to church! The first time in years! I am ecstatic. I will add that the ward is doing a wonderful job fellowshipping these families and helping them prepare and be comfortable coming to church. But things are going very well, you may be able to tell from my letters that I love this family, It is amazing to see them committing to progressing in the gospel. Unfortunately because of work Brother Matthews wont be able to come to church at this point, I hope and pray for a miracle on his behalf, I have sent hat it is pretty hard for a family to make much progress without their father, he is definitely key and a leader in the family, but the kids and sister Matthews are doing great. A member family invited them to help with a service project at the chapel tomorrow that he can come to; coming to the church does a lot to help people progress, so I am excited for that as well. What else? A YSA girl named Kusum brought her friend Samantha to church yesterday. She is seriously one of the most golden potential investigators I have ever contacted. She is fairly new to Australia, from NZ, half Samoan, grew up seventh day Adventist, has been missing church since she came here because her family here is not active in any sort of faith, so she has been looking for a church to attend. When I talked to her she said she loved church on Sunday, it was obvious that she had a very special experience, she agreed to hear the missionary lessons without any hesitation. She actually live up on the central coast, so we will refer her to the missionaries up there (you wont believe this, but she lives on the same street as the sister missionaries in her area! Miracle) so it’s a bummer we can’t teach her, but honestly, I love playing even the smallest role in someone’s conversion. Just to see the spirit touch someone so easily and to be the one to make that first missionary contact and invitation to learn is in some ways the most exciting and inspiring times in a missionaries work. I am sure Ill hear in a few moths that she got baptized. Haha.

            So there has been a bit of tension between Elder Pito and I rising over the past few weeks. Just small things adding up. Him not agreeing with what he sees as “American attitude” and me being a bit frustrated by some disobedience and cruzy behaviour. The worst thing is that we never talked about it. Honestly, having a good working relationship with someone take a lot of effort! And since Elder Pito is pretty quiet and doesn’t speak much English and finishes in just a few weeks, I thought it would avoid the awkward but essential companionship inventories and just ignore the problem. I thought it was not worth it to go to all the trouble for so short a time. But eventually it got the point that outside of p-day and casual conversation it was obvious that we were not getting a long. When it came to the point that it was impeding the spirit I could not bear it. So we had a long talk yesterday. I did not want to believe this but he blamed it on being a Polynesian. He had a long list of things he said Polynesians just don’t care about, and a few “American” things he did not like. Wow. Unfortunately he did not have any resolution to change, he kind of said “this is who I am, deal with it”. But its alright, I feel good, at least I understand him a bit more now, and know how to work with him better. Ill change anything I need to for the sake of the work, I learned a lot of things I guess I already should have known. First, just fix things while they are small, its not worth it to wait. Second, have the humility to apologize even if another wont. You can only change yourself, so you need to find out what another is thinking, don’t assume you know what they are feeling. It is well worth an initially awkward conversation to get a nagging burden off your shoulders. And like most things, love. I should have not given up so easily just because elder pito is finishing soon. I think we will have a great next few weeks. I feel the Lord is more pleased with us now. The spirit was definitely waiting for us to work a few things out… But as I said in the beginning of this letter, I feel really happy right now, peace, contentment, repentant. This feeling is well worth the difficulties of repentance.

            Ok quick thought to end. The Matthews 2 youngest boys khorban and Levi cant say “missionary”, so they call me “uncle harry”. The first time they said it I was pretty confused, but it does sound a bit like missionary. Haha
I hope everyone is doing well. I love you guys a lot.
           
Love, Elder Ryan Faulkner
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