July 21, 2013

Wow, another wonderful week. Not quite as crazy as the last, but definitely came with some new challenges and experiences! Ill let you know some of the highlights
-Elder Bennison and I made a car on P-day that runs on salt water. haha
-On P-day the zone got together at cronulla beach to play some touch rugby, volleyball, and some other games. It was really so much fun, there is a great feeling of unity and love in our zone, getting to spend time with them really is a great motivation and support, which is really important because there have been a few trials and struggles within each of the companionships. I am greatful the lord gives us the district and zone organazation to support and love one another!
-when following up with a former investigator we ended up painting a bedroom in their house, it was a miracle that I managed to not get any  of the bright pink pain on my dress clothes. haha. it was fun.
-A huge miracle was that lavinia, the fijian lady I wrote to you about a week or two ago was able to obtain a permanant residence visa! it usually takes several years but she got it in just a few months! so it also means her family will be able to come as well! it was incredible news and It was a sweet moment to share with her since we happened to visit her just a few hours after getting the news!
-We had the priviledge of having president and sister lew accompany us as we taught a lesson to an investigator family on wednesday evening. That was a first for me! I really love the Lews, bothe president and sister Lew have powerful testimonies and very sweet spirits. The father of this particular family is very set in the belief that the sabboth should be observed on saturday, but there was a great spirit there, we taught about the restoration and priesthood authority, and the family has a desire to be baptised as a family! I am excited to see what the future holds for them! It was really great to work so closely with my mission president.
-we saw that family of nine again! taught about the restoration and priesthood! They said they would like to be baptised! but they attend a tongan church of only 4 families! if they leave that church, then…. they take like half the congregation with them. So, It will definitely require a great step of faith, I have never had that kind of concern before! haha. Excited to see what the future holds.
-We teach a young man named nathan, he has a really rough life, pretty much every filthy and vile thing that life can offer has been part of his life, mostly not from any wrong descisions of his own, but from his family. He is like no one I have ever met before, its really amazing to me how much trust he has tword us, and how open he is with us, and how much he clings to the gospel we share with him. We are measuring our progress with him in small increments, Two big advancements this week! He said he was drinking alot last week, just got completely plastered every night, but one night he took a drink of bourbon or whatever it was, and then for some reason he could not explain, just lost the desire to drink, he sealed up the bottle and has not had a sip of alcohol since. He says the desire just completely left him. I am really pretty amazed by this, I think he is a bit perplexed by it himself, I hope that when the temptation returns to him he will have the strength the resist it. Also, he told us that the other day his friends grandmother past away and she was really upset, so nathan did something he never would have done in the past, he said that he would pray for her grandmother. He told us that he prayed for over an hour about her welfare and that he had a strange feeling come to him, he described it as a kind of one-nes with his prayer, like his prayer became him. He said it waas not a good or a bad feeling, just a calm and peace. He didnt understand it. It was great to talk about with him. I am confident it was a outpouring of the spirit in a special way. The kind of peace and calm only god can give.
-We visit a older gentlemen in the ward, He is an amazing man to me. He has made alot of mistakes in his life, he says he completely turned his life usidedown, His sins have caused him immeasurable pain and anguish of spirit, he lost his membership in the church, his priesthood, the spirit, everything. What is amazing to me, is that notwithstanding his sins, he has found the path back through repentance. He has a testimony of the saviour and repentance that I hope not many will have to have, But I am greatful to have known him, because he has given me in turn a measure of hope for forgiveness and a powerful stiring of hope for those I love who have fallen as he has. His life is a witness and example of the grace and mercy of christ. so… in a nutshell, he was excommunicated for a long long time. But one day his daughter who was serving a mission in the phillipines wrote to him with her testimony and love, she said that it was time for him to come back. He said that his pride had always inhibited him from considering returning to the church, but the love and sweet spirit of his daughter caught his heart in a way nothing else was able to before, and In that moment, he knew e needed to come back. He humbled himself, It took some time, but he has in the last year been re-baptised, and is working tword a restoration of all the blessings he had lost. He says he wishes he had not been so rebelious and selfish, he wishes he had done this much much sooner, I suppose there is nothing that can compare in this world to the gift of the holy Ghost that he now has restored to him. It will take a bit more time, it needs to be approved by the first presidency and must be done by a general authority, but there is hope for a restoration of blessings. I see in him what the scriptures call a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I now know, from this man, that no matter how far one falls, there will always be a path back, you can never fall so far that the Lord can not bring you back, The atonement is more powerful than we can really know, but of course, forgiveness is on conditions of genuine, sincere repentance. His is an example worth following. I have seldom felt the spirit more strongly than in our meeting with this repentant brother this week.
-I had to do something hard this weekend. It was another first for me. it was hard. There is a wonderful family that some missionaries in our zone have been teaching. 5 of them were to be baptised this weekend. Elder Bennison and I went to conduct their baptism interviews. The details are not important at all, but I was not able to approve the baptism of that family. There are a few details that were somehow never identified as the family was being taught that will first need to be resolved. The good news is that they can be resolved 🙂 and we have refered the matter to our mission president to follow up with. So I expect in a few weeks the family will all be baptised. But yeah.. not a happy memory but really a significant one. Usually baptism interviews are so happy and inspiring! They have actually been some of the happiest memories of my mission is telling people I have interviewed that they are ready to be baptised! But yeah, the spirit had reconfirmed to my mind and heart through this experience the sacred nature of baptism and confirmation, it is not something to be taken lightly, or to be done halfway. Fortuntaly the family has taken this very well, and It has only motivated them more to pepare fully, I supose it will also highlight to them and all involved how important and sacred this ordinance is, and it will make it all the more meaningful and special for them when they are able to ba baptised in the future
-so there is a TV series called “the bible” that has been airing here in australia. We have not seen it, but it has really become a talking point with people we meet and visit! Its pretty cool that hollywood took the time to film some of the stories from the bible! I will ask my mission president if we can watch it ! haha.
I probably missed a few things, but those are some of my highlights. I really feel happy these days, for a whole lot of reasons. I just love my mission, I feel like I am a new man, I look forward to the future with hope and confidence. I love the Lord. Following and serving him really brings the greatest joy we could ever feel. Thank you everyone who supports me from home with kind words and prayers. I love you dearly. I wish I could share all this joy with you, but its not mine to give!!! But I exhort you to keep the commandments, turn unto the Lord in everything you do, and it will bring you this same peace and contentment.
Elder Faulkner
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