June 30, 2013

Dear Family and Loved ones,
Wow, Another Great week in Australia. So I have some big news!! As of yesterday I am serving in the newly formed Australia Sydney South Mission, I have a new mission President named President Lew. I will meet him tonight at Zone leader council, so Ill let you know more about him next week. But tis really exciting! Alot of big changes happening in the mission! If you have not already heard from the reccent worldwide leadership training broadcast, It has been announced that in the coming months, missionaries throughout the world will use the internet in their proselyting efforts, including the use of facebook, blogs, email, etc. We will use these online resources to contact follow up and teach investigators and less active members, receive refferals, etc. This is a pretty massive announcement. So far this has not been implemented in our mission, but in the coming months we will receive further instruction on when and how we can use these resources! Pretty incredible, obviously there are a few potential concerns that may arise from this announcement, but I am excited to see how this will help the work progress in this new digital world we live in. My mind has been spinning all weekend about the all of the advancement this could bring to the work of salvation. I will let you know how it works when I know more!
So since it was our last week with President Howes, we had one last zone conference with him. It was very special because as part of the conference, he took us each individually and gave us priesthood blessings of comfort and counsel, I took notes on the blessing he gave to me which will be preiceless counsel for my remaining time as a missionary. It was certainly a special and sacred experience for me. I cherished part of his blessing in which he blessed me that the Lord would expand the remainng time I have on my mission, that I will do more in the next 6 months than I have ever done before, that as I strive to work effectively and use time wisely, the lord will give me opportunities that I would not otherwise have, that my work will be  highly significant, and I will learn of the magnitude of the Love the lord has for me. This part of his blessing was deeply meaningful to me, I expressed my anxiety a few weeks ago about having such limited time left on my mission, but I now hold a quiet assurance that all will be well. I am so looking forward to finding the fulfillment of that blessing.
A new highlight of serving in the mortdale zone is the location of the new mission office! The new sydney south mission office and mission home are in our zone! so President, the office elders  and sisters and assistants to the mission president are now all serving in our zone! We also just were told that we have a new companionship added to our zone today who will serve as “coordinating sisters” which is still a relatively new calling in the mission field. So basically, the size of our zone just went from 12 elders to 24 missionaries which is pretty cool, We will have acess to the mission mailbox and mission office supply closet every week at our district meetings which are held in the mortdale chapel that is connected to the misison office. No more waiting for mail or worrying about getting new materials!
So Like I said it was a wonderful week. Probably the biggest highlight was the opportunity to visit Dapto for Margret Zimmerman’s baptism. It was a great honor that she asked me to perform her baptism. It is still hard for me to put into words of how it feels to stand in a baptismal font with one I have helped to bring the testimony of the restored gospel, greater still being the power felt when kneeling in prayer following such an ordinance to ask for confirmation that it has been recognized in heaven, and sealed by the holy spirit of promise, with a petition that this new convert be protected and guided on their new path tword salvation. Only tears can truly describe the feeling, and only the spirit can testify of such things. I am always humbled by this work that I am a part of. I pray that it will never be over for me.
That visit was of course very bitter sweet, I was so happy to see again some people that I had bid farewell to just weeks ago, but of course, revived was the pain of leaving them. What I am left to is a hope and prayer that thy will continue to hold to the gospel, so that when I see them again, we can rejoice together on the right hand of God.
So the best part of being a zone leader is going on exchanges, Its hard having to be out of your area so often, but  Its so great to get to work with other missionaries, A miracle that we saw on exchange in the mortdale area was that Elder Walsh (our district leader) and I were teaching a huge syrian family, they are a huge miracle by the way, 7 of them will be getting baptised next month! but anyway, one of the girls works on sunday, so elder walsh and I prepared all morning in our studies on how we could teach and invite in such a way that the spirit would promt her to want to quit her job so that she could  keep the sabbath day holy. We started the lesson on the plan of salvation, I think both of us still nervous with exstending such a hige invitation, but confident that since it was inspired by love, that she would accept it gladly. to our surprise, the minute we mentioned sunday she said that she was thinking about quitting her job! haha, it was a welcomed surprise of course! Without any teaching on our part the spirit had given her this idea already, we of course encouraged this and testified that she would be blesed in return for her faith. She said that she would look for a new job and as soon as she found one would quit. I was shocked at what I then said, I said that if she would have faith to quit tommorrow, that heavenly father would help her find a better job, I said I had faith that she could find a new job on her own, but I had even more confidence that Hevenly father could provide one for her, and if she demonsstrated her faith by not waiting, he would be on her side. Later that night she called and said that she did not even wait till the next day, but quit that very day! so My prayer is that my promise will be fulfilled, and that she will find a new job! But later that day we taught the whole family, it was really an interesting experience teaching this family! They have 8 kids ranging from 3 ish to 25 ish, the parents dont speak much english so as we taught it was mingled with translations into arabic and the loud and frequent joking that is common among teenagers. haha. It was wild,hard to keep focused, but alot of fun. Looking forward to their baptism next month.
A crazy experience was that while we were visiting a less active member, her dogs started fighting and when she tried to stop it her finger nearly got bit off! so, I include this more for my memories sake than for an update to you. haha. it was a very strange day at that house.
On a bit of a lighter note, we organized a misisonary fireside yesterday evening, we had several converts speak along with musical items from every quorum and auxilary, our stake president also spoke. It was incredibly sucessful, it takes ALOT of work to organize such an event, but it was well worth it, this along with the broadcast of the worldwide leadership traning entitled the work of salvation, and the stake mini mission next month, there is a larger than life emphasis on missionary work in the stake! It is really an incredibly exciting time to be a missionary, especially here in the sydney south mission, especially here in the mortdale zone and bankstown first ward.
Basically, I am loving my mission. Its really a time of growth, I think I said last week that I feel a bit overwhelmed, well.. I still do, there is so much change at the moment, and being in a new area and zone just magnifies it all, especially one that has SO MUCH happening! But honestly, these are the times I feel the support of the Lord the most, I cherish these times of change and stress and responsibility, thats when the grace of christ rests upon me. But please pray that I can keep organized and patient and dilligent.
I am greatful to have such a great companion, He is like a brother to me. I think we are pretty different, but a few choice experiences we have shared in the past few weeks have really caused me to love and trust him. I am really greatful we are serving together, it is in no way by accident.
By the way, the new mission office adress  for letters is P.O. box 456, Mortdale, NSW, 2223, Australia. for sending parcels it is 2 Breakwell st. Mortdale, NSW, 2223 Australia. Please let everyone know! I would love to hear from everyone!
Elder Faulkner
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