October 6, 2013

G’day everyone.

I hope everyone has been well! Wow, it has really been a great week! so much to talk about! I am sure this week coming will be an exciting one as well with the bathurst v8 races happening this weekend, this is the biggest event in the central west! apparently the city population triples during race week, everyone keeps saying that you can not even imagine how hectic things will be, so! I am very curious to see what this will mean as far as missionary work!
anyway, Let me tell you about last week!
-We started off last week in sydney for mission leadership council. It was really fun to spend our preparation day in my last area and catch up with elder bennison, and the other bakstown elders. We went to eat at a place called El Jannahs which is the best charcoal chicken place probably in the world. haha, and elder skinner was pretty keen to get some sushi, bathurst is really lacking for authentic japanesse food apparently! Anyway, the leadership council was great I realised that depending on what happens at the transfer in 2 weeks, this could be my very last zone leader council. Anyway, it was a good meeting, I wish I had longer to serve under president Lew’s leadership, For some reason I just always feel like I am on the same page as him and fully support his vision and goals for the mission, he is a wonderful mission president.
-So, I think I told you that one of the members who goes to the university in bathurst has been bringing her friend adriana to church, well on tuesday we finally got a chance to meet with her and teach her about the restoration. The funny thing was that a few minutes before the appointment, Florence (the member) texted us and asked if it was okay if she brought another friend as well. of course its okay!!!! haha. I think it turned out to be a really great meeting, both adriana and grace come from Christian backgrounds, they both expressed real genuine interest in the message of the restoration and agreed to investigate more fully and to read and pray about the book of mormon. Everything that you could hope for from a first lesson. We’ll get to see them later in the week, so hopefully that goes well!
-I have told you about the Fisk family several times, well, It had been a couple weeks since we could teach them a real lesson, When we taught the restoration it went so well, there was a strong spirit there, so ever since that time I had been dying to teach them about the plan of salvation! But since damion has been out of town and they have moved into a new home and alot has been happening, we were not able to share with them anything more than just a few short messages. But! this week we finally we able to sit down with tracy and tamika and discuss the plan of salvation. IT was one of those lessons where you just felt like you were doing your job well. Tracy kept saying how good she felt about what we had taught, they both seemed full of hope and hapiness with what God’s plan offers us. It felt great, I love teaching the gospel, but especially about Gods plan for us, It was especially significant to tamika since she is due to have a baby in a week! haha, so we were able to relate these things to not only her and tracy, but also to her daughter that will be welcomed into the world in a matter of days. Anyway, It brings me so much joy to see the spirit bring the hope of the gospel into someone’s heart.
-On thursday we had an activity with the young men. We went bowling! So, we only have a few young men, and they are all less active. :/, but do you know what? they all came!!!!! how cool is that? we had a really great time. I am happy to report that I won two of the games. haha. but thats not what made me happy. It was really a miracle to have these young men together, since I have been here, this is the first time I have seen them all get together, and they had a great time. Sister Child is planning to start regular mutual activities beginning next week, I hope that this can continue, I am sure it will do much good!
-So, Chad told me that he put some function on the blog so that people could email me. I have never got so many emails in one week! thank you to everyone who has written me, I will try and find the time to respond to everyone, but at very least I wanted to thank everyone here, It gives me so much support and strength to hear from you, thank you so much for taking the time to write me.
-Friday was awesome, It was our zone training meeting and also our zone preparation day! So, I realised again, that if I were to be transferred in a couple weeks, this could be my last opportunity to lead a training as a zone leader, so I put a great deal of thought and effort into preparing this training. Actually, I have kinda been preparing it for my entire mission, probably most of the missionaries and a few others I have known on my mission have heard me in one way or another make reference to what I trained on. I consider it one of the greatest lessons I have learned from my mission, and I consider it THE message I hoped to give to the missionaries as a leader. Ill try and share a few of those thoughts with you here, but I wish you could have been present at our meeting, at least in my heart, there was an undeniable spirit testifying to my soul of the truth of these doctrines. I do not know if it was because this could be my last training or what, but I was very overwhelmed by my emotions in those few moments I got to speak. I hope I can share that with you, because these lessons have changed me forever. When I was in the MTC, my branch president, president Gubler first planted into my heart this message, there have been countless times that this has been magnified to me over the course of my mission. The basic idea I wanted to share with these young missionaries, is that they are so much more than what they realize. I have a few quotes and stories that will support this, but they can only prompt the much more significant confirmation from the Holy spirit, about “who you really are”. Please think about that question as you read this… One of the best known hymns in the church is “I am a child of God” I have had it memorized since I was just a little boy, but it is only reccently that I have begun to understand what exactly this song is claiming. Bishop Vaughan J Featherstone once wrote in the new Era to the Youth of the church “Many years ago I heard the story of the son of King Louis XVI of France. King Louis had been taken from his throne and imprisoned. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who dethroned the king. They thought that inasmuch as the king’s son was heir to the throne, if they could destroy him morally, he would never realize the great and grand destiny that life had bestowed upon him. They took him to a community far away, and there they exposed the lad to every filthy and vile thing that life could offer. They exposed him to foods the richness of which would quickly make him a slave to appetite. They used vile language around him constantly. They exposed him to lewd and lusting women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. He was surrounded 24 hours a day by everything that could drag the soul of a man as low as one could slip. For over six months he had this treatment—but not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Finally, after intensive temptation, they questioned him. Why had he not submitted himself to these things—why had he not partaken? These things would provide pleasure, satisfy his lusts, and were desirable; they were all his. The boy said, “I cannot do what you ask for I was born to be a king.”We are all born to be kings in the kingdom of God. Our Father is a king, and just as the king’s son was exposed to every vile and perverted thing in this life, so you will be exposed to much of the filth and degradation of our generation. But you Aaronic Priesthood bearers and Young Women are also born to be kings and queens, priests and priestesses.” Our Heavenly Father is a King, we are his Children…. While I was at BYU, president monson came to speak, one thing he said has always remained with me. HE quoted the Lion King! He spoke about Simba, another son of a king, he was not always as valiant as prince louis, he tried to run away from his potential and forget his nobility and live a carefree life with timone and pumba, but what happened? His father visited him in the clouds and this is what president monson quoted “simba, you are more than what you have become, remember who you are, remember….” I feel like Heavenly Father has cast this same message into my heart over the course of my mission, that I am here in this life, I have become a mortal and fallen man, but that is not whom I have always been, I have forgotten who I was, and I must remember who I am, if I wish to have the strength to become what the saviour has made possible for me to become… there are a few scriptures that have opened my understanding, as to who we must have “been”… First, ABR 3: “22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; 23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” second, REV 12: “7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” and D+C 138: “53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work, 55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God. 56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men. 57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead”. but perhaps the greatest scripture to me has been my patriarchal blessing. What we must know as missionaries and as members of this church, is that we did not begin this work when we put on a badge, not even when we were baptised or were born, but before we came to this earth we were no the side of our saviour and of Michael and we fought the same fight there, and we were sucessful, john recorded that it was by the word of our testimony, our testimony of the atoning blood of christ that gave us power to overcome the adversary. We also know that we were prepared, we received our first lessons, as president smith said, in the world of spirits, perhaps from Jehovah himself. We were saved and prepared. I also heard a marvelous statement from a general authority a while back (I have been told that he has asked not to be quoted on this, so take it for what its worth) but he said “you were once generals in the war in heaven, and one day when you are again in the spirit world, you will be enthralled with those whom you will associate with. you will ask someone in which time period they live in, and you might hear ” I was with moses when he parted the red sea” or “I fought with captain moroni” as you are standing there in amazement, someone will turn to you and ask which of the prophets time did you live in, when you say “gordon B. Hinkley” A hush will fall over every hall and corridor in heaven and all in attendance will bow at your presence. you were held back 6,000 years because you were the mos ttalented, the most obedient, the most courageous, and the most righteous, are you still?” I hope something I said has sparked something inside those missionaries or in you. I believe this, we are more than what we know, but we must continue in that strength, we must remember who we are, and regain the hope of what we can become through christ, and it has been recorded in romans 8 that ” 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” and in 1 John 3: “1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” What we shall become is a topic for another time!! haha. But this much I know, if we can find a glimpse of who we were, and who we are, it will give us the hope to purify our lives, and follow christ. I hope some of that made sense?
-Anyway, During the ZTM I relized something, we were reciting D+C section 4 as we always do at the start of meetings, andI relised again how gret the promises are to faithful missionaries, in particular that if we will “thrust in our sickle” i.e. work hard and honestly we “lay up in store, that [we] perish not, but bringeth salvation to [our] souls” It hit me how short a time I still have to secure for myself those promises. I am committed to using these final 8 weeks to the fullest, I believe in the promises of the scriptures, and I desire those for me and my family, so!! I hope I can be a better missionary in these last 2 months that Ihave been previously.
-I better rush through the rest because I am running out of time! After zone P-day, which was a blast by the way, we just played touch rugby for a few hours, we had an exchange with the mudgee elders. I got to work with Elder webb from arizona, I am so impressed with this young man. He is still growing and discovering his purpose, but he is so commited, ready for anything, zero complaints, he works hard. He will be a great leader, I am sure sooner rather than later!
-I asked my companion for a blessing on a personal matter, I just wanted to mention in to testify of the power of the priesthood, they were not his words, they were from heaven, and they gave me peace and strength about the matter. I thought to myself later, “we dont ask for blessings enough, the priesthood is a real power” I hope that if anyone struggles they will turn to this power, it can administer grace and strength in a unique and powerful way.
-So Maggie asalemo came to church this week!!!! I have told you about her a few times I think, we have been visiting her and her brother enro regularly. Enro could not come because of work, but maggie came! I tihnk it was the first time in years!!! I cant tell you how happy I was about this! It is such a big hurdle coming back to church the first few weeks, so its awesome to see her make this step, I hope she comes again next week, if people come a few weeks in a row, it becomes so much easier for them… I hope we can help her!!!
-So I have some great news that Ill finish up with about our investigator Andrew, well first off we were helping him work on his car, he is restoring an old english sports car called a sunbeam alpine, so that was pretty fun, but the news is a big miracle! He and megan own a few homes that the rent out, they have been trying to find someone to rent out a new property they just renovated. Every time we visit the childs Andrew would pray that they would find someone to rent the house, according to megan, every prayer he said included this, so elder skinner and I started remembering this in our prayers too, ya know what? they found someone to rent it! The church!!!! haha, looks like we will be getting another companionship in bathurst! The mission sent a email to every bishop asking if anyone had homes to rent, since we are getting so many new missionaries it has been a huge project to find places for them to live! so I was talking to pres reiri about the childs place and then he spoke to megan and emailed the office; When we were at the office monday our mission president asked us about it and we put in a good word, President had met andrew and megan at district conference a few weeks back, and a few days later we hear that they signed the lease. how cool is that???? I know it is a very big relief for the Childs, and I think they will have some good tennants. haha.
Anyway, I love my mission, It has been a great week, I think we are going to just sleep today because I am completely exhausted! a lot of hard work and not enough sleep! haha. Thank you to everyone, I hope and pray that you are doing well. Look forward to hearing form you!
Elder Faulkner
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