Dear Family and friends.
THIS WAS AN INCREDIBLE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS A CRAZY WEEK!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS A GREAT BIRTHDAY 🙂
So, I am a bit baffled as to what I can write to describe my week, I think I said last week that it felt like 6 weeks in one, well, I think this week was like 6 months in one. haha. not really, but it was a very… full week. haha. So of course numbers can never tell the full story, but to give you an idea about this week, Elder bennison and I taught 50 lessons in total in our area…. OK, so I dont know if that means anything to some of you who may be reading this, but before this week, the most lessons I had reported in my area for a week was 35, and that was just about the most I have ever heard of in our mission. so… 50 IS INSANE, i dont know what its like in other missions, but for me IT IS COMPLETELY INSANE! It was really such a joy, every day was apointment to apointment, we saw so many miracles, I will try to tell you about a handful of them, but I am sad that I will probably miss some of the finer details of our week, really every lesson was a miracle, looking back, there was really not any low points to the week, every appointment we saw people grow and progress. I cant tell you how happy this has made me, it was almost like 3 weeks work in one. Missionary work does not always go like this, its often really hard, can be a bit discouraging, a huge mixture of joy and sadness, but this week was outstanding in so many ways. Sundaynight we felt very strongly to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to heavenly father, to confess his hand in these things. This was so clearly more than we could have ever accomplished on our own, its wonderful and humbling to see how Christs grace operating so visibly in our work, grace being his power taking us beyond what we could do by our own power.
Anyway, I want to thank everyone who sent cards and gifts for my birthday, It meant so much to me, I could not have been a happier missionary or person on friday. I want to thank ever person individually, but If I am not able to send a reply, It would only be because I do not have a spare minute in my life these days. I think that may be in large part an answer to your prayers on my behalf. That was a big impression I had this weekend as I marvelled in all of our successes, I felt the spirit say to me, that there are many people that are praying for me, and many of those prayers have been with great love and faith, and that is in part why I have been so blessed, for that I can never thank you enough. I send my prayers for you as well, I hope you are seeing the benefit of those humble petitions as well as I have. I love you all, my family, those I have come to regard as family. Thank you so much for everything. You may be happy to know that the members of the bankstown first ward took great care of me as well, I was fed so much, had like 5 cakes this weekend, and many kinds words and best wishes come my way. Really I could hardly imagine a better way to usher int he 22nd year of my life, I wish I could have shared it with you.
so, Ill list a few great things that happened this week, I wish I had time to write the details.
-a family in our ward introduced us to another family of 9! all of whom we taught and added 7 of them as new investigators!
-A young man just moved into our ward from brisbane, his newlywed bride is not a member, we gave him a preach my gospel to help him know how to introduce the gospel to her
-The ofa family were one of the first to arrive at church this week! thats two in a row! there was a completely new spirit in their home of happiness and peace after they came the first time last week!
-We have begun working with an ex-communicated member, He has a lot of faith, its a curious experience working with these former members, its like everything is slightly magnified in comparison to an investigator, both their spiritual pain and hunger for the blessings of heaven, and also the hope and joy and aid we feel in teaching them. I see so much spiritual strength in thei man, and long so much to see his membership restored, I love this man alot.
-went to visit a less active family, and being school holidays, the kids had a few friends over, so we ended up teaching a lesson to 10 kids on a trampoline
-one of our investigators is recovering from surgery, he has follow up surgery soon to remove a very large tumour, but things are looking very positively, he is in much better condition than a few weeks ago
-An investigator we have not been able to see for weeks called us to set up an appointment! that does not happen much! but he is great, actually engaged to a member of the church in america!
-met a new investigator, his house is like a museum, he is a big collecor of sorts, has all kinds of things! really a cool guy,
-So a huge thing was that this weekend was the mortdale stake mini mission! so friday there was a mini MTC, which elder bannison and I were asked to give a training in, along with some language classes and other instruction, and then for the whole weekend, every missionary inthe zone worked with one or two priest age young man, or young women for the sisters. my companion for the weekend was named elder taufa and eldercampbell, two really great 16 year old boys. I was so impressed by all these young people, they are much more prepared than I was at their age, they were of course pretty intimidated but they all did a wonderful job!! on sunday night there was a devotional/fireside where they all bore testimony and shared uplifitin experiences. so I wish I had more time to share more details, elder bennison and I have been working with the stake leaders and our mission president all month to finalise these plans, I am so pleased with how well it all went, there was about 25 mini missionaries participating, we had to organize for a few to work in other stakes, basically it was a very big thing to plan for, but it was a huge sucess, everyone had a great expereince, all the youth who participated either decided or became more firm in their decision to serve a full time mission, you can imagine this was a bit of a stress on us as the zone leaders, have more than double the number of missionaries in our zone for the weekend, but I am massively impressed with the stake leaders who organized this all. It was a great expereince, I wouldnt trade it, I am so glad I got to be here in the stake at this time to experience this activity. The Lord poured so many blessings into our zone this weekend, the missionaries all did a fantastic job of showing these youth what missionary work is all about and providing them with meaningful and lasting experiences. I will always hold this as a highlight of my mission.
-One cool miracel from the weekend was that at some point in our cnversation, I told Elder Taufa that I have learned to not believe people when they say they are not interested in learning the gospel. I have just seen too many people who say those sorts of things later join the church, so I am respectful when they say it, but never give up, I instead try and find by the spirit some way in. Later that day, We got to witness one of those expereinces! We went to follow up with a referal that one of the kids we taught on the trampoline gave us! haha she said her mother used to go to our church, so when we knocked ont he door, a woman came and said immediately “I am not interested, I dont want you to teach my family” I dont remember what all was said after that, but I ended up asking if I could tell her a story about the first mormon missionaries to go to NZ (she is maori from new zealand) I was surprised that she let us in after jsut saying that she no longer wanted anything to do with the church. So we told her the story, but then had a long discussion about the gospel, found out that she was once baptised but never confirmed! crazy situation! and to our great pleasure she said we could come back the next week to talk about the plan of salvation. Talking to elder taufa after, he said that he would have just given up when the first words she said was that she was not interested! I can relate, I would have done this earlier on my mission as well, but I am sure glad we did not give up so easily! I have really learned that people dont know what they want, they have forgotten this, but they were once on the side of the faithful in the premortal existance, there is almost always some way to reach them, but only the spirit can know, I have learned that if you are humbly persistant, you will often see a transformation, you will so those “not intersted” change. It was a choice experience for both elder taufa and I.
-hmmm what else, our reccent convert lewly and her husband nela missed church last week, they noticed a huge difference in their week because of it! I am glad they had thise chance top see the difference missing sacrament makes. They said they never want to miss it again!
-we got to teach the young women class at church! haha. Thats always fun, haha.
-I got a phone call saturday night at 10 from brother faleta in the bishopric asking me to fill in for a speaker the next day in sacrament meeting, I gladly accepted, but because we had to attend mission prep class the next morning with our mini missionaries, I had zero time to prepare. I always do my best to prepare talks or lessons, but when we do not have the time, the spirit helps us out. It is a special experience to give a talk entirely “by the spirit” (Disclaimer: I think the spirit leaves us to ourselves if we have te time to prepare and chose not to, so dont ever wing it, haha) but I did see the fulfilment of the repeated promise in the scripture, that god will give us in the very moment what we shall say. I love speaking in sacrament meeting, especially as a missionary, I felt prompted to speak on the sacrament, and the atonement. went very well… I think ? haha
-I got a letter from someone in dapto that has given me a lot to think about, a lot to be happy about, and look forward to. I am so greatful to hear about how our heavenly father continues to guide and bless those I have loved. I can only imagine all the other blessings that have come to those I have served in past areas that I have not heard about. I relish in those happy possibilities. Anyway, those people will contine to be in my prayers and toughts
Honestly I am probably forgetting alot of things, but I Loved this last week, I loved my birthday, I am a happy person. I pray the Lords blessings will attend you.
Elder Ryan Faulkner