July 7, 2013

Hey everyone,
Wow, this has been a very exhausting week. It has felt like 6 weeks all in one. We had meetings every day, mostly regarding the mission split, but also about the mini mission activity in the stake this weekend, a zone conference, interviews, a temple trip, our zone training meeting, etc. I am in complete shock with how much my companion and I did this week and still lived. haha. I am really at a huge loss as to what to say. haha.
I will start with telling you about our new mission president and His wife. They are absolutely wonderful. I love them so much. So President Lew has chinese background, but was born and raised in provo utah. He served his mission in hong kong, and then taught cantonese in the MTC. so he does speak cantonese. Sister Lew was born and raised in hong kong, was a convert to the church as a teenager in hong kong and moved to hawaii as a teenager and then later attended BYU where she met president. Most reccently they have lived in Lehi Utah where president Lew was serving as a stake president. In our mission leadership meeting, zone conference, interviews president outlined his vision for the mission. His entire focus seems to be helping us to BECOME disciples of jesus christ. He has summarized his vision in three points 1. All missionaries will be converted unto the lord and never fall away 2. each missionary will lift their area and zone. 3. Each missionary will develop attributes that will bless them in their mission and for the rest of their lives. It is not difficult to feel of their love and concern for us as missionaries. Sister Lew is so wonderful, she has so much energy and excitement for her mission, and to serve us. Her happiness is so contagious, so far I have just loved being around her and president, I am so greatful that the mission office is within our zone which will hopefully give us the chance to get to know them more! They have already had a gret affect on me as a missionary, their example has made me want to be a better missionary and to support them in their leadership. So, I hope you will be happy to know that my new mission president is awesome.
I will just ignore talking about all the meetings and stuff, other than to say that on several occasions Elder bennison and I marveled at how much we were able to do in our area despite all our business. We missed out on a lot of meal times, but it seemed like every minute of the week was used effectivelly, our schedules just kinda fell into place deespite many changes of plans and extra responsibilities, its a testimony to me that the Lord is in control of this work, and supports us in our weakness.
Some wonderful experiences from the week:
So brother and Sister Ofa came to church this week, brother ofa also arranged a meeting with bishop to begin his journey back to full fellowship in the church, and he told our ward mission leader that he is committed to coming to church every week from now on. I have not told you too much about this family yet, but I will tell you why this is so meaningful to me. First, they have been less active for a long time, have had a lot of struggles over the years, so it was a huge miracle to be here as they made this big step, Really every time I see someone make a step of repentance it is a miracle, but what magnifies this for me, is that I had the priviledge of seeing brother ofa’s brother make the same change when I was working in canberra. After years of inactivity, we found unga and maata ofa, who were not on the ward list. We invited them to come back to church and they did, they had their children blessed and are going to be sealed in the temple this month! I had actually met brother ofa from bankstown when he visited for his brothers baby blessing in canberra, I had no idea he was less active at that time, nor did I have any idea then that I would serving in his ward just a few months later and seeing him come back to the gospel as well. It seems like I cant get away from this family, nor would I want to. Their must be some connection in heaven that I have with these two brothers, what a miracle it is to witness their progress in two different areas and times in my mission. I love this family a lot. (Ofa in tongan actually means love.)
We visited another returning member this week, named lavinia, she is from fiji. She told us a remarkable testimony of how god provides for the faithful. She said that on sunday she had no food in her cupboards, she also does not have a job and had no way of obtaining food. We told her that she could of told bishop if she was struggling, but she told us something better than that. She said she never worried, she trusted that the lord would feed her, and then told us about how every day that week a friend or family called her and invited her to lunch or to dinner, or she was fed in some other way. I really cannot put into words the faith of the islander people, I have no doubt in my mind that it was indeed God that cared for her in her moment of need. Some may call in coincidence, but I know it is the power of God.
This is quite related to another experience we heard from our ward mission leader, makamaile manakafoa. Yesterday he invited us over for lunch to break our fast, he had a huge feast prepared for us, way more than we could have ever eaten, we did not know this until after we ate, but he said that week his boss withheld several hundred dollars from his paycheck to pay for his visa application, he said that after his bills and tithing, it left him only 40 dollars for fuel in his car and to feed his 5 children. He wept and pointed to the food on the table and said that this food came from God, I immediately felt so guilty, but this soon left, as he wept he bore testimony of paying tithing, he thanked us fervently for the blessing we as missionaries have brought to his family. In this man I caould see no guile, He has unshaken faith in the gospel, so I have no doubt the lord will continue to provide for his families needs, he gives so much of his time, really, all that he has to the building of gods kingdom on earth. If I have any power to invoke the blessings of heaven upon this man as our companion in missionary work in this ward and as an example of humble righteousness, that is my humble prayer. I am sorry for all of you who read this that may never have the chance to meet maka, or others like him who give so freely and faithfully, but I dont hink I can ever forget that day, nor his testimony. Its a blessing to see saints who live so humbly, and are in turn so richly blessed, It is a wonder to be a missionary, in whom they trust so deeply to deliver to them the blessings of God in their families.
We had many other wonderful lessons this week, honestly as my mission has progressed, the power I have witnessed in the work has dramatically increased, its not my power. This week there were countless times I have felt a direct connection with heaven, or seen that take place in others. Its becoming a lot less surprising to me as those things happen, This gospel has become so real to me, there are so many that hunger and thirst in this world, there are many of those starving souls here in bankstown, in just this week alone I have seen immense heartbreak, spiritual heaviness, doubt, regret, confusion, pain, and I have in turn seen so powerfully the light of the gospel, and its redeeming effect upon those burdened and weary souls.
I dont think I can really express the change thats happening in my heart, I could have never known what this mission would mean having not lived it. There are a few lines that stood out to me among other things in my studies this week in the epistle of paul to the corinthians, ch. 2 and 3.

 18 For the apreaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the bpower of God.22 For the Jews require a asign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:23 But we apreach Christ bcrucified, 27 But God hath chosen theafoolish things of the world to bconfound the wise; and God hath chosen the cweak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the atestimony of God.4 And my aspeech and my preaching was not with benticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the cSpirit and ofdpower: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the apower of God.9 But as it is written, aEye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath bprepared for them that love him.10 But God hath arevealed them unto us by his bSpirit: for the cSpirit dsearcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.11 For what manaknoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God bknoweth no man, cbut the dSpiritof God.
I feel like those weak things in the world, I am glad that spiritual power does not require great excellence of speech, because I am often lost for words, but I do confirm the testimony of paul, the gospel offers not only more than I can speak, but also more than I can see, or hear, or imagine. But it is brought to us by the spirit, as we dilligently seek him, and follow our saviour. I pray this will happen for each of you. nothing can compare to the light and life of the gospel. I have learned this myself from the weak and the simple, and offer it to you as my testimony.
I love you all, thank you in advance for any birthday wishes this friday. I cant believe I am turning 21, when did that happen? haha
Elder Faulkner
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