July 31, 2013 Some Crazy Big Awesome News

Hello my dear family and friends, (and new followers of my blog that wrote to me this past week, 😉 thanks for the letter by the way, meant so much to me, and good luck these next few weeks, hopefully this was obvious enough to be noticed by the recipients intended, haha)
I am really so glad to write to you all. Ya know, the past few times I have been transferred, I wrote something like… “you may not believe this, but I have been transferred again”, but this time around, I think you will not have any trouble believing that I have been transferred again. I guess its just a recurring feature of my mission that has not ended yet. haha. I don’t know why I have been so blessed to go to so many places and meet so many people, sometimes those transfers have brought a lot of doubt or confusion, and pain, or wanting to stay, or wanting to go somewhere else, but I am FINALLY learning something… Every transfer has led me to immeasurable joy, for one reason or another. I think this was the First time that I was transferred, I have felt a true, complete, and abiding faith that this is the Lords will, and more importantly, for the first time I had no question about it, I have always believed that, but I think I now know it. The Lord is teaching me to NEVER doubt him, his guidance always leads to joy, so I am learning to not desire anything but what the Lord wants to give me, I have learned that there is no greater joy than that which comes from following the commandments of god, and sometimes that’s more than just following His rules, but its answering a call to serve, following a prompting, being transferred, etc. I testify again, that I am coming to know that there is no greater assignment, or joy, or whatever, than what The Lord wants to give you. So this transfer came with nothing but gratitude and excitement. I say that with a disclaimer: I loved bankstown 1st ward with all my heart, I love those people, I love my last companion as a brother, We sometimes joked that we were each others longest companions, because I think I have been through more with elder Bennison than any other companion I have served with, so let it be known: If this call did not come from anyone but the Lord, I would not have wanted to leave bankstown.
So, Ill start off with my new assignment…. Its pretty awesome… Its kinda intimidating, haha… I think its going to require the very best of me, actually, It will require more than the best of me, so I think there will be some quick growth required. I have been asked to be the zone leader of a brand new zone called the Orange zone, and open the Bathurst branch to missionary work, this is unique in a lot of ways. Ill list a few: first, there are three new areas being opened that have been closed for 3-5 years. Bathurst, Mudgee and Cowra, these are all small towns in the central west of new south wales. Our Zone also includes the areas Orange (which opened just a few months ago) and Dubbo (Which I opened just over a year ago!). These 5 branches make up the Orange District, for those who don’t know what a district is… its like a stake, but is made up of branches instead of wards and is presided over by the Mission president rather than a stake president… This is the real “mission field”, meaning an area that is not part of a “stake of zion” Each of these branches have an active membership of about 10-30, and cover much larger geographical areas than typical ward boundaries. So this is cool! What adds to the challenge is that 4 of the 5 areas are training brand new missionaries, only elder white in dubbo has served in his area before this transfer, its a complete white wash. Also, our district leader has never before been a district leader, 3 of the 4 trainers have never trained before, and my new companion has never been a zone leader before. Is this kinda painting a picture?? everyone is brand new to both their areas and assignments! This will no doubt come with a few growing pains for everyone, especially those 4 new missionaries coming in tomorrow. But it will also no doubt bring miracles. There have been blessings waiting in store for years that these missionaries will find waiting for them. We have been here only 1 day and have already found someone who wants to be baptised!!!! and I don’t mean that we invited them, they have been waiting to be baptised! Ill have more to report on my specific area and all the planning and goals and work we are beginning here, but I hope you get an idea of whats ahead…. We don’t really have much to go on here, no investigators or work to continue, so this gives us complete freedom to plan and lay a foundation for the future, complete freedom to seek revelation for the work, no distractions, no prejudices, nothing to compare to. AWESOME. We also have a whole new zone to plan for! Its going to be fun, a really large zone, each area is several hours away, I think we will be driving a lot these next few months! haha. I thought opening an area was cool but how often do you get the chance to open a whole new zone?? haha, we have Zone training meeting tomorrow after the trainers pick up their new missionaries, so a lot to plan for there, I hope we can handle all this. wish me luck.
Oh a quick not that really touched me, so far we have met the branch president and his counsellor, we learned that a few weeks ago the branch fasted for missionary work, they did not know why at the time, they have not had missionaries in years, but its no mystery anymore… Perhaps it was that Fast that brought Elder Skinner and I to Bathurst.
Oh, I forgot to introduce my new companion! His name is elder Brian Skinner, he is from Tokyo Japan! He is a great missionary, such a nice and humble young man, I am so happy to be working with him, and have the chance to “train” him as a new zone leader.
At this point last week feels so far away, Its hard to remember all the miracles we saw, but Ill try to remember a few
-I finished reading both the new testament and the doctrine and covenants this week, that has been a long project!
-The muslim family in mortdale got area presidency approval to be baptised! that’s amazing news! Wish I could have been there to see it happen!
-H d the chance to go on priesthood splits with mortdale’s stake president, President To’o. We taught a referral from his family, it was a really great opportunity to teach alongside a man with so much priesthood experience, there was so much power and authority behind his testimony, He testifies and invites with so much love and boldness. I have learned so much from working with this man, and have been very blessed to be able to share time with his family.
-There is a rarotongan family that we have begun working with named the Takai family. They are an amazing example of how big an effect priesthood fellowship can be. Things have not been going well for them recently, brother takai (investigator) has been out of work for a while, their car was actually bombed last week, (seriously, welcome to bankstown), their two sons ran away, they only had enough income to pay the rent, nothing for food, so we had president to’o and brother tonga come with us and in that meeting organized a job for brother takai, later brother tonga gave them some money and food, somehow in just days their  whole lives have been put back on track thanks to the priesthood leaders of the stake. I will not let those examples be wasted on me, perhaps their examples are part of why I am here, to learn how I can one day follow their footsteps. I have seen how great an effect for good we can have in peoples lives, the good news is that in addition to temporal welfare they are also being cared for spiritually, we taught a lesson in president to’os home, sister takai (less active) came to church for the first time in years on sunday. it is wonderfull to see.
-I read a graet talk in an ensign and took a quote that I will pattern my life after. it reads: “we dare no live for the moment, rather we must live for the eternities” the article was about how we have an eternal perspective, we know what is to come after this life, we must live and prepare to secure for ourselves the blessings of the eternities. anyway, this is quite hard to do in this world, but it we have a testimony of the plan of salvation deeply rooted in our hearts, our lives and decisions will not be based upon the moment, but rather, we will live for the eternities.
-I met a young man named sefa Palu, apparently he was in the MTC with my brother Chad, and served in the New York new york north mission with him! so for chad! elder palu is doing well! he only had good things to say about you!
-A less active member named brother miller and his son jaiden (investigator) came to church this sunday!!!!! brother miller has not come to church in years!!!!! this was amazing!!! the thing was, we did not need to do anything special, we have been teaching his son for a few months, I suppose that spirit in his home has had some effect, so when we asked if he would come, to our surprise (I did not think he would agree based on many times declining the invite) he agreed to bring his son to church! Another cool memory is that jaiden has become so strong, his father has a few concerns with him getting baptised, so in our lesson last week when discussing baptism, his father was trying to convince him that he was not ready and did not want to be baptised, but based on the knowledge we have taught him and what he has found on his own (jaiden is awesome with reading the scriptures on his own) he withstood every concern his father gave him, and has firmly found for himself a desire for baptism… anyway, I see great progress ahead for both of them! I wish I could be there to be a part of it!
-There was a night this week I got really sick, I don’t know why, but at about 2 in the morning (sorry for the graphic detail) I spent about an hour in the toilet puking my guts out. It was terrible, really, I was so tired, I think at one point I fell asleep on the bathroom floor, all I really remember for that night was that a thought came to mind to pray and ask for healing. I guess my drowsiness and desperation made it very easy to remove any doubt from my mind, I remember when that thought came to me I fully expected my wish to be granted, I even thought to myself, why did I no think of this sooner? haha. so I did just that, I prayed on the bathroom floor, asked heavenly father to make me better and I went back to bed with no more problems. I have no Idea what was up, food poisoning, a bug, but whatever it was, it was not more than god could handle.
-It was quite a bummer to leave, I had made many friends in bankstown, everyone was pretty surprised that I was leaving so soon, but I will always remember that area with fondness, each area has taught me different things like how to work with my mind or my heart, etc. I think there I learned what its like to serve with all my strength, I have never been so busy in my life, It was a honor to have been part of all that we accomplished there, I feel an overwhelming approval and satisfaction in the work I did there. There is few greater feelings than to feel that the lord is pleased with your efforts. I will continue to do my best that I can feel that same satisfaction at the end of my mission.
So much more has to go unsaid :/ the time limit here in the Bathurst library is coming up, sorry for my terrible grammer by the way! Time limits make it hard to write properly while trying to remember all I want to say so it kinda just all comes out! haha. But I Just want you to know that I am happy, full of faith despite walking into such a unclear situation. I really have no idea what in store for us, but I am ready to find out 🙂 I love this work with all my soul, I hope the people reading this, (my family, friends,) Know how greatful I am for all of you, the love I feel from you, your prayers, in the quiet moments of the day my mind drifts to you, I hope you are doing well, I send you my love, I hope you can feel it. I look forward to hearing from you again soon 🙂
Elder Faulkner
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