September 8, 2013

Dear Family,

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This has been another really great and eventful week in Bathurst! Some introductory news is that today was transfers and I am still in Bathurst with Elder Skinner! Also, this means I only have 12 weeks remaining in my mission. wow, this has really crept up on me. I am kind of… Freaking out. haha. really hoping I can use this remaining time to the fullest, and do the most good I can in these final 3 months, but also hoping that I will be ready and prepared for that next chapter of my life. As you could expect, Ill be spending a lot of time in fasting and prayer in the coming weeks. I am sure all will go well, the Lord has guided me thus far, so I am sure all will go well, hopefully the stress wont get the better of me! haha. According to the scale in my flat (which I don’t entirely trust), in the last week and a half I have lost almost 10kg, is that a good thing? haha. I am grateful for your prayers, I always have the feeling that people must be praying for me and sending love and support, I do feel the benefit of those prayers, thank you so much.
We started out the week having dinner with one of our part member families, it was really wonderful. What makes this notable is that before dinner we helped them with a service project of picking flowers on their daffodil plantation! haha. That was pretty fun! I kept saying to elder skinner that I wish I had some more advanced photography equipment and more time, because it was a really picture perfect scene, this field of yellow flowers in the Australian country side! was a lot of fun! Later that day we went to an appointment with one of our new investigators only to find out that she has to go away for a few months for the army. Dang. I wonder if Ill be around when she gets back in town?
A huge part of our week was planning and preparing for our zone training meeting and zone preparation day we had on Friday. Seriously, I love having the chance to make plans for and train the zone, Its so strange to now be an “experienced missionary”. But looking back on the zone leaders I had early in my mission and how much I looked to them for guidance and example, I hold this calling as a very sacred responsibility, and I feel so much help from heaven in those responsibilities. We had a great meetingon Friday, what is really special is that not a single missionary was transferred from our zone this transfer, President Lew said to us that he likes what he has been seeing here and did not want to change anything! Which is pretty big because there were so many changes that happened in the mission!!!! SO MANY!!! haha, but for us here in orange zone, it is business as usual, It really is kinda funny how isolated our zone is… Since we are the zone leaders and talk frequently with the elders in the mission office, we hear a lot about the changes happening in the mission, but… they don’t effect us at all, the rest of orange zone is blissfully unaware of the many missionaries in Sydney who are having their lives turned upside down with several new districts created, new leadership callings, heaps of new missionaries coming in. haha. Anyway, what I am getting at is that there is great unity in our zone at the moment, everyone is supporting each other and on the same page, perhaps like no other zone I have been a part of. I am not saying things are perfect, we have a long way to go, a lot of growth to make, a lot of changes to start, but I feel like we are all unified in our purpose and going in the same direction, that’s a powerful thing, I am sure there are great things to come here in orange.

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Hmmm, we also got to go on exchange with the Mudgee elders. It was so fun working with Elder griffin, I was his zone leader in Canberra and he just came from my old area “woden” so we had so much to catch up on about the people there and old experiences we shared. It was great fun, He is a great elder and we were able to talk about the needs in his new area and talk about how to serve more effectively in our callings. It was one of the funnest and most rewarding exchanges I can remember. During the exchange we visited damion and tracy fisk, I have written about them a few times, Tracy is our investigator, damion is a less active member. They have just moved into a new home, right around the corner from the chapel by the way! But anyway, we got to talking about all the good things they have been seeing in their lives, They have seen a lot of struggles in the past because they have not always been following much a gospel path, in fact, damion has been about as far from the gospel as you can imagine, so he was sharing about all the lessons he had learned, and how turning away from things like alcohol and riotous living has brought him a lot of peace in his life. I cannot tell you how much his experience touched me, His life is a testimony of the gospel whether he knows it or not. I have really been surprised at how and the times and places the Lord has taught me and shaped my testimony. sometimes I learn about the gospel when I least expect it.. I did not expect this, but that night damion taught me one of the greatest principles I have ever learned about how to have a successful relationship, Honestly, he would be one of the last people I would have thought could give me good advice on how to have a successful marriage or companionship or friendship, but he did. So, he and tracy have been off an on in their relationship for years and years, but, he says finally they are married and feeling a bond and love that they always wanted. He said that when they were younger, they each had “their life” and would sometimes meet somewhere in the middle of their lives and called that their relationship, but she was not to come into his life, and he was expected to stay out of her life. HE said now, they are finally coming to a point where they can call it “our life” finally they have developed the humility and love for one another to open their hearts and allow their lives to blend, its no more mine and yours, but it is ours. Wow, I have never really thought about it in that way before, but it said something to my soul about what I need to do to have a successful missionary companionship, but more importantly, how I will one day have a successful marriage. To have a successful relationship, you need to be willing to abandon “mine and yours” and see it as “ours and we” and that goes for so much more than just possessions, but it extends to goals, vision, opinion, purpose, etc. and I suppose in a marriage, it means that you are no longer your own, you become “no longer twain but one flesh” or “one soul”, I guess that is exactly what the sealing covenant is pointing us tword, a oneness with one another… really cool, so that’s a good lesson in itself, but also from this I learn to pay a bit more attention, the Lord sometimes speaks in ways, at times and through people that you least expect, so always be on the lookout for the spirits voice.
on Saturday we did some service for the Lynch family, we were helping them build a car port for their home. It really appealed to our masculinity to be cutting and drilling and metal working all morning, haha. I learned quite a few new tricks with construction. It was a good experience, later that day we had a branch table tennis tournament! it was so successful, close to half of the people there were non members, everything went really smoothly, it was a great experience!!!
Sunday I got to speak in sacrament again! That’s 5 times in 6 weeks! haha. One of the great features of serving in a small branch! I spoke about agency, All I really want to say is that I am so amazed with how much I have come to love speaking in sacrament, this used to terrify me, but now I just love it, I love bearing my witness, and sharing my experience, and knowledge. Now I imagine some of you that read this wont believe me that I love this! You may think that I am just saying that! I used to think that! haha, as a teenager I rally never thought I would come to the point that I felt comfortable and confident up at that pulpit, I did not believe people who said they enjoyed it, I thought it was not something I would ever have, but now I cherish and love those opportunities. So, if you ever have similar doubts about speaking in church or teaching or really anything else we are asked to do in the church, don’t worry, the lord can make more out of you than you can even believe now 🙂 so don’t fear to be asked to leave your comfort zone that’s where the most growth happens! and you don’t have to take my word for it, you will see, step by step, He will cause those same miracles to take place in your life 🙂
I heard a cool quote a few weeks ago that I forgot to share! “coincidences are those experiences caused by the lord, where he choses to remain anonymous” -elder walker of the seventy. I agree, I have just seen way too many coincidences in my life and on my mission to believe that the Lord is not responsible, what I wonder is how often he causes miracles for us that we will never know about, I am so grateful for those unseen forces that direct us to good. The Lord is not some casual observer on some far away cloud, with little or no interest in our lives, he is in this work, he is in our lives. He continues to amaze me with not only his magnificent power, but also his individual love, and gentle grace he offers me and those I love, Thank you to everyone that shares with me how he is blessing you, I know he loves and cares for you.
That’s all I cant think of for this week, 6 more weeks at least in Bathurst 🙂
Love
Elder Faulkner
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