Another great week as usual. There is always so much more than I could ever write, and even if I could remember every little detail, I would never be able to capture how wonderful all these mission experiences are to me. Elder Naidu keeps telling me “one week to go” and I keep reminding him, no, its two weeks!!! haha. I am sure I will love every minute of it! It kinda seems like lately I have taken a different perspective with this work, probably because I am living with three other missionaries who are all brand new! But I have kinda in my mind been taking a step back and observing, its really fun to watch these new missionaries and how excited they get with the miracles and blessings we have been seeing, also how much disappointment they feel with the challenges. This has been one of the coolest transfers of my mission because of these three elders! They are really fun, I just love to see the gospel process happening in them as well as our investigators. It seems like so many of the things I have learned over these past 2 years are being displayed to me in these past few weeks, all kinds of things, like questions of investigators, struggles of missionaries, conversion, doubt, etc. etc. I am finally feeling equipped and prepared to respond to each of these things! I just wish I could give all that I have learned to these other missionaries, but I suppose they couldn’t really know or have any of those things without experiencing them themselves! anyway, It makes me so excited for all that is ahead for them, I just love that I can say with such confidence (and I take as many opportunities as I can to do so!) that they are going to love their missions, that it will be for them so much more than they can even understand or imagine. Perhaps this is a kind of parable for what I am sure Heavenly Father is trying to tell me about all that will be ahead for me after I get home! I am excited for that, It is going to be really hard! I am not really looking forward to studying and taking exams, and later finding a job and paying bills and all the other difficulties that are asociated with this life! But If my life ahead is anything like my mission, which is sometimes likened to a “mini life” haha, I look forward to it with faith and hope, My mission has taught me to trust in the saviour, so I have the hope that Just as I am looking back on my mission with such gratitude and fondness, I will one day look back on my life in amazement and overwhelming gratitude for all the blessings the Lord has brought to me. I hope that I can always remember this testimony the Lord has given me.
Anyway, you can tell how reflective I have been lately! haha, I just dont want to miss any of the great lessons the Lord has taught me! so I am thinking about them a lot!! But Ill fill you in on a bit of my week this week!
-good news! yesterday I got to the point where I only have 100 pages left before I complete the entire standard works(old testament, new testamanet, book of mormon, doctrine and covenants, and the pearl of great price), reading 10 pages a day is easy, so I have no doubt I will finish it up in the next two weeks!!! It feels like a great accomplishment! I love that I can finally say that I have read every page of the scriptures, I am going to have to keep going through them to continue to learn! I am sure I will find that much of the precious truths of the gospel just went completely over my head in this first reading! haha, but I have had this goal since the very begining of my mission, I kinda gave up more than once with reading the old testament, but I kept coming back to this goal! I will just barely get it finished before I finish my mission! But anyway, I love the scriptures, I really do, I believe them, I trust them, I am continuing to treasure them and feast upon them 🙂
-We taught a few lessons this week with a brother named loko tonga. He is on the stake high counsel and is a truly wonderful man, I mention him because he taught me a lot from these two experiences. He has a very special power as he goes and visits members, he is very straight, very bold, and very loving. In both of these meetings he started by saying something along the lines of “we come to share our love and to remind you of the love of jesus christ, we invite you to come to church and feel the great blessings of the gospel return to your life” thats not an exact quote or anything, but that is his pattern, It really impressed me, he does not beat around the bush or waste any time, he clearly understands his role as a priesthood leader in inviting people to come unto christ, he is not apologetic in his invitations because he knows deeply that this is the only way to salvation, and he loves the saviour and these people enough to give them these challanging invitations. Anyway, I have learned from brother tonga and a few other wonderful priesthood leaders I have met on my mission that testimony is so much more than WHAT you say… I am not sure if at any time he said “I know” or “I testify” instead, he demonstrated that conviction in HOW he said it, with authority and with power. Anyway, ITs hard to put into words what I am thinking! but I am so greatful for the examples of the priesthood leaders I have been priviledged to work with, especially in mortdale stake, I wonty let their examples be wasted on me.
-There is a less active brother that we visit quite regularly, he is somewhat mentally handicapped, but minorly enough that he is able to live on his own. Anyway, he is a funny guy, we have a lot of funny memories and experiences with him, but Ihave really come to care about him a lot, and this week he said something that really touched me, he said “whenever you missionaries come you emmanate peace and joy and love”. Jason has a simpler mind than most, but he does not struggle to identify the voice and influence of the holy spirit, its an honor to be one of those that brings that spirit to him in his life.
-Something thats pretty cool is that there is a member that lives just down the road from us who lives on his own and he told us that we can use his weight lifting equipment for our morning exercise if we want to! He surprised me by making us a copy of his key so that we could get in when he was not there. wow, what a great trust and an amazing favor! so far we have only gone to lift weights once, we’ll probably go again tommorrow, what a shock to the system! haha, I am still recovering from it! haha, really looking forward to getting back into training and excercise, as sore as I was, Its a great feeling to work out.
-Man, I wish every one could know how many “coincidences” missionaries see! haha, I put that in quoteation marks because they are in no way coincidences, its either gods hand or just all missionaires are just the luckiest people in the world all the time, haha, but anyway, we really dont walk aroud that much since we have a car, but it seems like every time elder lacroix and I are walking down the street or around the shops we bump into someone we know! its pretty cool, because these are sometimes people we struggle to track down and we get the opportunity to make appointments with them!
-we had an interesting experience sunday morning, I felt a strong impression to go and visit one of the people we have been teaching before church and invite him to come… well, we were pretty bummed to find that he wasn’t even at home! This used to confuse me why the Lord would prompt us to do things that did not even lead to anything! well, I have not always identified the answer in every instance, but Ill tell you what happened this time! because our investigator was not home, we ended up just going to the chapel, about an hour early! and because it was raining, I guess everyone was running late and we were the first people there… since we dont have a key to the gate we just parked outside to wait, pretty soon a middle eastern guy came and knocked on my car door so I got out to talk to him, I wont really share too many details because its private to him, but he is not a member of the church but is married to a member of the church and knows our bishop, he had been waiting there outside the gate since 6:00am waiting for a chance to speak with bishop. I gave bishop a ring and he said he was running a bit lat but would be happy to meet with the man after sacrament meeting. The man was pretty disappointed, I could tell there was something really weighing on his mind so I asked if there was anything I could do for him while we waited. He asked which of the four of us missionaries was the most senior which I thought was interesting, so I told him I was and we walked down the street just a bit so we could talk more privately… He told me how he was feeling very guilty about some mistakes he had made, how he wanted to fix them, etc. I knew immediately that this was Bishop’s responsibility, that it was not in my calling to counsel this man, but what I was able to do was to look into his eyes and testify of the atonement of christ, how through him all things can be reconcilled and made clean, I also testified of Bishop and his role in the repentance process. Pretty soon, Brother faleta who is one of bishop’s counsellors turned up and unlocked the gate, and I was able to refer this man to him, and he met with him in bishops office. Anyway, the man left after his interview before I got the chance to speak to him again, so I dont really know if I will ever see him again, I hope he will have the opportunity to take the missionary lessons in the future and to be baptised, I know this is the way the lord has prepared to free us from our sins and the burdens we carry. I was greatful I had the chance to share my testimony with him and give him a bit of comfort as he waited for Bishop…. This is one of many experiences I have had that teach me to follow every prompting, it does not always turn into what we expect, I was so sure that our investigator was finally going to come tu church! but the Lord had another assignment for me, and led me to be at the chapel early, I dont think I would have trusted the prompting to skip studies to be early to church, so heavenly father gave me a prompting that he knew I would follow. ITs a miracle to be lead by god to bless his children.
-We have an awesome ward council, they are awesome, I really think a great part of the reason for me being in this ward at the end of my mission is to learn from the great examples of the leaders in this ward, Anyway, I dont have much more tiem to talk about specifics, but Bishop had a special missionary coordination meeting with us this week to talk about how the ward can support us in the work of salvation, Then in ward council later this week he led a long discussion about many of the points we talked about, It was so awesome to see how excited and enthusiastic and supportive each of the ward leaders are to answering the prophets call to unite with the full time missionaries in the work of salvation. If every ward council in the world is doing what they are doing here in bankstown, there is amazing things ahead for the church and the growth of missionary work. It is an AMAZING time to be a missionary, I am glad that I will be able to be part of the other side of missionary work also in a few weeks, I am greatful for a letter my brother wrote to me reminding me that I will never stop being a missionary.
-Ah running out of time! But ill just finish with an update on Aaron! we had another great lesson with him yesterday! Man, the lessons with him lately have been so inspiring and positive, its awesome! we were able to resolve some of his worries, give him support and evens tart planning his baptism service which we had not even planned to do! haha, we have challenged him to be baptised on teh first of december, and he said he will pray for confirmation on if that is the right day. He is awesome, he has started talking about his baptism like we have already scheduled it! haha, well, its written in my planner for the first, haha. Hopefully all the details align themselves, he is incredibly ready, he is excited but also really nervous, I am glad we have such a friendship with him because it allows us to teach him in a very personal way. Ill keep you updated 🙂
I love you all so much, I suppose next week will be my last email? nah, ill find time to send a message the monday before I come home as well, so two more 🙂
Love you heaps,
Elder Ryan Faulkner