June 23, 2013 Another Week, Another Area

Family,
 
Wow, It has been a pretty incredible week! It is amazing how
 
quickly everything in you life can change as a missionary. All the people,
 
places, responsibilities of a week ago are completely different. I will
 
certainly miss Dapto and the people there, but from what I have seen of my
 
new area I am going to…. no, I already love it here.
 
So My new area/ Assignment is as a Zone Leader of the
 
Mortdale Zone serving in the Bankstown First ward. Its funny
 
because of all the areas and zones of the mission, mortdale zone is
 
probably the one I knew least about, and all I have ever heard of
 
bankstown is that it is full of muslims and that it can be a pretty
 
dangerous place! haha. Turns out that all the rumors are true! Its
 
really nothing like any area I have served in before. I dont know
 
any real statistics, but from my observations while driving around
 
this week, it seems like half the population here is lebanese, so I
 
am really looking forward to getting more acquainted with the
 
culture and people of lebanon. That process will be made easier
 
because my companion is half lebanese!
 
The ward however is predominately polynesian, which I am
 
really excited about. I have learned alot about the tongan people in
 
the areas I have served in, but here there are more samoan, fijian
 
and maori people, so I will also be looking forward to learning
 
about their cultures as well. At this point on my mission I feel so
 
blessed to be able to serve in such diverse areas among all the
 
peoples of the world!
 
My companion’s name is Elder David Bennison from
 
Auckland, New zealand. He is half lebanese half kiwi. He has been
 
on his mission about the same time as me. He is a pretty serious
 
fellow, very focused and detail oriented, couldn’t be more different
 
from my last companion, haha, But I think we are going to get
 
along and work together really well. Being the last transfer before
 
the mission division this week, it was massive, almost every area
 
was affected, half the mordale zone is new to their areas including
 
both our district leaders, so I am looking forward to the changes
 
that will inevitably follow. Our zone is pretty awesome, has some
 
great missionaries, among the areas is a cantonese ward and
 
samoan ward.
 
So, As you can imagine this week has been a whirlwind for
 
me! I am very exhausted, but I could not be happier. I wish I had
 
time to tell youa bout everyone we are working with!, but there are
 
just too many for one letter. This area is incredibly productive, the
 
missionaries here have done a fantastic job here the past several
 
months and it is clear that the Lord is blessing this area abundantly.
 
Its really wonderful to come into a ward and area that has such a
 
powerful foundation to continue to build upon.
 
The bigggest news of the week is that we had two baptisms
 
in the bankstown first area this week. The first was a young girl
 
named Gizzelle Moeva, whose family the elders reccently
 
helpedcome back to church. The wonderful thing about her
 
baptism is that on sunday she turned 9, which would have meant
 
she would be a convert baptism, but we were able to help her
 
prepare for baptism and confirmation on saturday evening, as an 8
 
year old. This was a huge accomplishment and must mean so much
 
to this reccently activated family to have their daughter baptised as
 
a child of record.
 
The other baptism was for a young woman named Lewly
 
(Faauliuli neva Koloi). She has a wonderful story, her baptism was
 
so wonderful to be a part of. Its funny, I have only known her a
 
week, but it feels like I have known their family for years, part of
 
that must be that we visited them every day this week to help her
 
be ready for a wedding and interview and of course baptism! SO
 
Lewly was introduced to the church a long time ago by her
 
boyfirend at the time named Nela, he was an inactive member at
 
that time, so she did not make much progress until early this year
 
when her sister Debby moved in with them from New Zealand.
 
Debby was investigatingg the gospel in NZ and decided she would
 
like to be baptised, unfortunately she cant be baptised until
 
december this year when she turns 18 because her father who is a
 
strong member of a samoan church wont consen to her baptism.
 
The funny thing was that Lewly was also against debby going to
 
the mormon church but when she got in contact with the elders
 
here and over the next several months, Lewly gained a testimony
 
of the restored gospel as well, on top of that the missionaries
 
helped Nela come back to activity in the church. They plan to have
 
a larger wedding in a couple of months, but This tuesday my
 
companion and I, with Bishop Tufunga and the Liutai family were
 
priviledged to witness Lewly and Nela be married civilly at the
 
punchbowl chapel in preparation for her baptism! Wow, this was a
 
wonderful experience to be a part of, it was a very small wedding,
 
there were actually kids running around making noise outside the
 
room where the marriage took place, but the spirit of the lord was
 
strong, testifying of the significance of what was taking place.
 
Their marriage meant a lot of things, of course that Lewly and
 
Nela would now be living according to gods commandments, now
 
their 3 year old son John’s parents would be married, now Nela can
 
prepare to take the sacrament and recieve the priesthood worthily,
 
Lewly would be able to be baptised and they as a family can
 
prepare to go to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. I
 
had never been to a wedding before! And this was a very special
 
one to see for the first time, It was very related and connected to
 
the baptism covenant she made a few days later, a commitment to
 
serve God, remember him, and Keep His commandments. I am so
 
happy for this family. I love the bond that is developed as a
 
missionary with those I am priviledged to help recieve the
 
ordinances of the gospel and come unto christ. I will keep you
 
updated on their continued progress!
 
Man, this week really took a lot out of me, I dont know if
 
you can tell but I am pretty worn out! Haha, it definitely feels like I
 
am a zone leader again, I am grateful for that feeling of exhaustion,
 
I hope I can keep up the spirit and energy in these letters, I
 
definitely have alot more on my mind than just a week ago! Hope
 
to get some rest on P-day.
 
A few more highlights from the week
 
-We are working with a Less active family that I met in woden
 
Ward! Its actually the brother of Unga Ofa, a less active we found
 
who was not on the ward list who we helped come back to church.
 
It was a great surprised to see his brother who I met when Unga’s
 
baby was blessed! Anyway, Brother ofa was gave the good news
 
that Unga and Ma’ata are planning to be sealed next month!
 
amazing to hear that a family I helped is going to the temple, that
 
made me so happy this week on top of everything else.
 
-One of our investigators named Jayden, a really smart kid who
 
had a lot of doubts surprised us this week by setting for himself a
 
baptism date for next month! 
-a 3 year old girl in the ward apparently has a huge crush on me.
haha.
-There were dozens of non members at the baptism and several of
 
them are interested in learning from us, including an amerocan guy
 
named sam who is a minister of an Assembly of God congregation.
 
-a Former investigator from months ago named john walked into
 
sacrament meeting and said he would be interested in learning
 
from us again.
 
-Elder Bennison is apparently related to Sydelle Matthews
 
from dapto ward, I was so happy to tell him all the wonderful
 
progress they have made.
 
-Next week I will get to go back for margret’s baptism!
 
-Next week our ward has a missionary fireside!
 
-Elder Bennison and I are in charge of organizing a a few dozen
 
youth in the stake for “mini missions” (3 days working with full
 
time missionaries) next month. going to be a big project.
 
-*I am officially in the Sydney South Mission, will get a new
 
mission president on sunday.
 
-Cool quote “The only book of mormon most people will read is
 
you”
 
-I found a type writer at our flat, and have been having fun playing
 
around with that.
 
-One of our investigators named nathan told us this week that he
 
wants to donate 75% of his income to the church! haha, pretty safe
 
to say being a teenager with no job, but still impressed by this
 
considering he has not even been taught tithing
 
-We have a reccent convert that plays rugby league for the
 
Canterbury Bulldogs.
 
Anyway, I Love this new area. In Just one week it has
 
stolen my heart. The work is going well, a lot of great things to
 
come. It is kinda overwhelming to be honest allt hat is happening!
 
haha hoping that I can get it all under controll in the next few
 
weeks.  Oh, The clock as I sign this
 
is 11:11am Thats good luck 🙂 have a great week
 
Love,
 
Elder Ryan faulkner
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