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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September 29, 2013

Dear Family,
It has been a really great week for elder skinner and I. I am actually emailing from bankstown this morning! We are here in sydney for mission leadership council, so we came down a bit early so we could spend the preparation day with some of the missionaries. After we finish up here I am going to lunch with my last companion elder bennison and his new companion at el jannahs, which is the best lebanese charcoal chicken place in australia. haha. then we will play some sport with some other missionaries in the mortdale zone before heading to the leadership council. Pretty stoked about it.
But like I said, It really was a great week!!!! let me update you on a few details!
-On monday we had organized a cottage evening with the stanley family, the reiri family, and brother su’a. It was an incredible sucess!!! our investigator tania was there a YSA girl in the branch named florence brought her friend Adriana who has attended church with us the last few weeks, A bunch of less-active families were there. It was really a very sucessful night, so good to see everyone getting together to support these investigtors and less active members. This branch really is like a family, It is really an honor to be a missionary here, and I really mean that, these people give us so much thanks and praise and honor for our calling as missionaries, they welcome us and support us, and of course feed us heaps! haha. It am so gratful for te chance to have opened this area to missionary work. I think the other elders in the zone are felling similar responses and support.
-So, tuesday was an interesting one, dont let this alarm you, but we met some very very negative people while we were out “finding”… One guy shocked me in particular, we were just walking up to the door and he came out and said are you mormons? I said, yes! and then I heard the loudest, most persistant, most threatening string of profanaties I have ever heard in my life!! He escorted us off the property threatening our lives! wow, It wasent really all that scary, this guy wouldnt have really done anything to us, but It took me back a bit, I have never seen anyone so angry before, and only because he found out that we were missionaries, I have no idea what kinda darkness must be in this guys life that would cause him to respond to us in such a way. We took a chance to say a prayer for this guy, if it were a bit milder I think I would have felt a bit angry at him, but he was just so over the top that I think our hearts pitied him greatly… I said to elder skinner as we were driving to our next appointment that I think there must be something really important that we need to do today if satan felt it necesary to abuse us in this way. I really have seen that on my mission, whenever great persecution comes, it is usually is quickly followed by great miracles. well I think that was the case again in this isnstance!!! Later that day we had a lesson with that family president reiri took us to go see last week! It was wonderful, It is a part member family the missionaries have worked with for a long time, but we did not have an adress til last week! It turns out the daughter named jolie was very close to being baptised a few years ago, but was just a bit shy, but she still seems very interested in the church! awesome! so after school holidays this week we will begin teaching her the missionary lessons again! Also, later that night, while we were on splits with brother su’a, we FINALLY got to sit down with the Northey family, whichis a part member family we have been trying to work with since day one! They are such a nice family, and one of their daughters is particularly interested in the church. so we had a nice visit with them and have a family home evening scheduled with them for next week after the holidays. These people have so much potential, they are the people that are just so kind that it is impossible for the spirit to not touch their hearts, I dont know how long it will take, but I can definitely see these two families coming into the church. So it turned into a really great day.
-I think I have mentioned this in the past, but here in bathurst, we have fewer investigators than I have ever had, we have fewer less active families than we have ever had to work with, we also have fewer active members than most places, BUT, the people that we have been working with are really amazing, we have the priviledge to be teaching several families, mostly part member families! how cool is it to help a family become more unified by helping them be unified in faith and purpose in the gospel. I love it.
-At one point during the week, Elder Skinner andI were walking, and I thought that I would like to get an ice cream cone from McDonalds, My brother once told me to follow every prompting, even if it is only to get a smoothie or something. haha. I never really thought much of this advice, but used it to justify my craving, and guess what, we saw 3 less active members there! one had just finished work, another was there with her family, and the other was them son of our relief society president. wow, so we got to confirm some plans and set up times to see a few of them! it was a great use of time! haha. plus I got ice cream! I am sure that craving was inspired, haha.
-Our investigators are doing really well! Ill tell you more about church in a second, but we had 4 of our investigators attend sacrament meeting this week! thats the most we have ever had!!!!! it was awesome! One of our investigators who was not able to attend, Enro, is still making great progress, I wanted to mention him in this letter… He is a great young man, he has grown up with a great family and mother who taught him to have faith in christ, but in the last year or so, he has begun to have alot of doubts about religion, thats what we have been facing since we first began teaching him! he just has not been confident this is all real. The only explaination is the spirit, but he has slowly been returning to his faith. I dont know everything in his heart, but in our lesson this week, we realize that he is so much more comfortable, confessing the possibility of the truth of the gospel, he has been praying, and reading the scriptures. It is such a miracle to see this miracle unfolding in his life. I am not sure if he can see it, but there is an amazing difference in him from just a few months ago. Him along with several others we have been teaching.
– I got my flight itinerary. Wow, this has really come quick. I have 9 more weeks, I will arrive in the nashville airport December 3rd and 10:54pm. I am soing to do my best to use, and cherish every one of those minutes between now and then.
-A huge higlight to the week was that we had the chance to go on another exchange in Dubbo! I wish I had more time to tell you about everything, but it was awesome. I was especially greatfuly for the chance to actually go another hour and a half north to gulargambone to visit a family I did not get to see last time I visited dubbo. Thats where daina weldon, the young girl I baptised over a year ago lives. I was so sad to find that she was actually away for the school holidays, but I did get a chance to talk to her mother Glenda, who is a less active member. I dont think I can describe how happy an opportunity this was for me. Since you dont know the weldons it may be hard to understand, but Glenda has had a bit of a hard lot in life, all I can say is that when I saw her two days ago, it was like she was a new woman, she had a light and a spirit in her eyes like I have never seen. I cant explain it, she has not really made many changes for herself, but compared to how I knew this family a year ago, I can clearly identify the lords blessing in this home. I hope that she can work out what she needs to in her life so that she cn have those blessing more fully and in greater abundance, but I was so humbled to witness the lords hand in her family. I pray that that will continue in the lives of eevryone I have come to love here in australia. She actually refered us to a friend of hers around the corner that I am glad will give the dubbo missionaries an excuse to contine to make the long journey to Gulargambone and hopefully bring the gospel again to this family that I worked with so much when I was serving there a year ago.
-We also got to visit the branch president’s family, the Ryans. great name if you ask me. haha. again, it was so great to catch up with this family. One highlight, was that they gave us root beer! you really cannot get root beer in australia very easily, but since sister Ryan is american, and she loves it, she found a way. haha. I have not even thought about root beer in probably a year, so this was a real treat, I think I made like 3 root beer floats that day. haha.
-Perhaps the greatest part for me in this trip to dubbo was the chance to see one of me old investigators named Tegan. she is 14 and actually goes to a boarding school in Sydney, When we planned the exchange in Dubbo, It did not even occur to me that she would be in town, but since it is school holidays here, she was up for a few weeks visiting her mom, so when we went there I was really surprised. Tegan was so close to baptism a year ago, but we just did not have the time to get her there before she had to go back to sydney, but to my great delight, she still has the set of scriptures we gave her, she says she prays every day, and seems to still step by step be growing in her faith. She goes back to sydney soon, so I am not sure we’ll be able to get her baptised this time around, but I did have the chance to invite her again to prepare for baptism, and she would like to, who knows, Another family I care alot about in dubbo say they will be getting married in a years time, maybe Ill get the chance to invite tegan to be batised again in another year if I visit dubbo for that occassion? haha ;P would be the longest teaching experience I have ever heard of. anyway, This was a great tender mercy for me, I am so glad we had our exchange this weekend. I say this all the time, but I think constantly on the people I have taught, I wonder how they are, what kinda affect I had on them, if they are still growing, if the lord is blessing them, It was such a blessing to again have one of these crazy miracles in dubbo where my former investigator happens to be in town when I was there, seriously, this happened twice  last exchange, if you can remember, I really did not think It would happen again! I am simply amazed, I really am thinking that a great part of why I was put in bathurst, was that my work was not quite done in dubbo, It is a curious experience for me.
-Time is getting short, so Ill quickly tell you about our sunday! we had several visitors along with our 4 investigators that came to sacrament, so it was a very exciting weekend! Our new district president, pres. sullivan came, also, the newest member of the mission presidency, pres. simpson and his wife came, and also, the australia public affairs missionary couple named the tanners visited (have you ever seen the john tanner story? thats actually elder and sister tanner’s ancestor! cool!) It was so great to have these visitors, I think the branches really rely on these visitors for strength and support. Anyway, I got to speak at ascrament meeting as well!!! Just before the meeting started president reiri asked me to give the first talk, so I guess I was the backup youth speaker! haha. I chose to speak about the sacrament, I felt prompted to share an experience I had on my mission with nancy taylor.  here is a quote from one of my weekly letter over a year ago:
“This last week brought one of the biggest miracles I have seen in my life, something that has occupied a great majority of my thought the past few days. we had a lot of wonderful experiences this week but as I sit pondering on last weeks service, this is the only story that I feel prompted to share. It has humbled me, it has instructed me, it assures me of God’s love, and of my testimony of the redeeming grace of the saviors atonement.
Someone that has become a dear friend of mine passed away last Wednesday evening. Her name is nancy taylor, she was an elderly woman with many many health problems. Since the very first week Elder Welch and I came to Dubbo we have been visiting Nancy a few times a week and bringing her the sacrament. I always looked forward to that sacrament meeting each sunday afternoon with nancy where we would sing hymns, she would share of her past family and church experiences, we would share a spiritual message and of course, administer to her the sacrament. Because of her health problems she was not able to come to church, and the last month of her life she was confined to a hospital. 2 weeks ago her condition progressed and she was moved to the intensive care unit. That sunday we still planned on visiting her, but she was asleep, we tried again a few hours later, but the nurses told us she was still resting. The next day Nancy’s son (who will be baptized next month) asked us to come with him again to the hospital where we unfortunately had to witness some of the disturbing realities of her condition, she could hardly breathe, she did not have full control over her arms or feeling in her feet, she did not know where she was or what year it was. I felt quite out of place standing at the door of her hospital room while her son tried to calm her and bring her back to reality, but when she spotted us there she called me over to her bad, I took her hand and gave her words of comfort. I cannot recall any of her words except two.. sacrament, please. it did not take long before we were ushered out by nurses so the doctors could attend to her. at that time I had planned to return the following sunday, but wednesday morning all I could think about were those two words… sacrament, please. I was amazed at her faith, the spirit that still abided in her despite her many infirmities, and her request for the emblems of christs atonement. I simply could not be comfortable until we filled her request. so we did, we came that afternoon happy to see that she was doing better, comfortable. she was not entirely “there” mentally, but she told us how ready she was to get out of the hospital, to go home, and how glad she was that we had come. as we started our sacrament meeting, I looked around the ICU and said that maybe we’d wait until next time to sing so we did not disturb anyone trying to rest, but nancy gave us a gentle rebuking and told us not to chicken out. so we sang her favorite hymn “put your shoulder to the wheel” I hope that hymn also was carried to the hearts of other patients that listened past the curtain of her room..
we were informed the next morning that nancy had passed away, just a few hours after we had left. We were her last visitors, the last thing she had done in mortality was to praise God by renewing her covenants in partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
May we always remember how our father is aware of his children, he loves us, and he may call on us to administer that love and relief to others of his children, just as he calls on others to minister to us. May we always be worthy of the spirit, and posses the faith and humility to follow all of His quiet directions, so we can take part in the great work of saving the souls of men.”
I also shared two scriptures that have deepened my understanding and appreciation for the sacrifice, and the marvelous gift of the atonement first in john 6 ” 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that abelieveth on me hath beverlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life.49 Your fathers did eat amanna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living abread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and thebbread that I will give is my cflesh, which I will dgive for the elife of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye aeat the flesh of the bSon of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my aflesh, and drinketh my bblood, hath eternal life; cand I will draisehim up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood,adwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath asent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall blive by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
then in D+c 43 ” 3 Listen to him who is the aadvocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him— 4 Saying: Father, behold the asufferings and bdeath of him who did no csin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be dglorified; 5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my abrethren that bbelieve on my name, that they may come unto me and have ceverlasting life.
-There are few subjects that I have deeper feelings about than the sacrament, so, it was not hard to put this message togeter with no time at all. I am so glad to have had another chance to speak 🙂 Oh and efter church we had a big potluck lunch with the branch it was awesome!
-elder skinner just accidently deleted a long letter he has been writing for the past 2 hours. poor guy.
-what else…. oh, I sent a friend a package last week, if they read this will the email me and let me know if they got it? thanks 🙂 speaking of that, It looks like chad updated my blog so that people can email me directly from the blog. pretty cool, thanks chad!
so the other elders look like they are ready to go! so I better wrap things up. But I love you all so much. I love my mission so much, My brother was reminding me of the countdown, only 9 weeks to go, I cannot tell you how excited I am to see everyone and have the chance to catch up with everyone, but Its going to be so hard. This Land and these people own a huge portion of my heart. I am so excited to see what these final weeks will bring, these days, it seems like all of the lessons and emotions and everything are becomeing much deeper, more meaningful. The spirit has a great hold on me these days, I am so glad to be in that position. I hope and pray for all of you, many of you by name, every day, I hope you are happy and hopefull and healthy.
Arohanui,
Elder Faulkner
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September 23, 2013

Dear Family,
This week was a great week, sorry for a kinda depressing letter last week, haha, Was just at kinda a low point, but things are really looking up now. There is more to report from this week than I have time for! Things are going well, I am feeling the guidance and support of the spirit, I am feeling Our heavenly fathers Love in great abundance. Maybe that would be a good place to start this report… at the beginning of the week I was feeling pretty low, I don’t even really know why… A bit of stress with the area, the fact that I only have 10 weeks to go, etc… I had been trying to ignore all these things, but the stress had been building up, it felt to be out of my control, I just did not feel myself… Not knowing where else to turn, I asked my companion for a blessing, he asked what he should bless me with, and my biggest desire was just that the spirit would be in my heart, He gave me a wonderful blessing. Of course everything did not turn around all at once, but each day, step by step, I feel that the Lord heard and honoured the blessing Elder Skinner sealed upon me. Honestly, none of my problems have changed in the slightest bit! but I feel so much more ready and motivated and equal to face the challenges. I cannot explain to you the difference It makes to have the spirit present in your life, he gives life, hope, strength and light. This experience has added greatly to my testimony of the power of the priesthood, the power of the spirit, the power of the Lords grace which Ill write more about in a second… I urge anyone who may at anytime be going through personal struggle or temptation to be discouraged, to seek a priesthood blessing. The Lord can help us from the inside out, he may just be waiting for you to knock and ask.
so, updates from the week:
-We had dinner and a lesson with one of our investigators named Deon and his wife Elizabeth who is an active member of the church. It was like no lesson I have ever had! haha. Deon requested that we sing a hymn to start, and we ended up just singing hymns for 45 minutes or so! haha. We also felt prompted to read the first presidency message at the front of the hymn book (which I had never read before). This was really a special evening, there is so much power and so much we can learn from the hymns. For the lesson we just picked the hymns that taught what we wanted to share, and I think at least for deon, there would be no better way of conveying this message! Ill just echo what many apostles have said… Singing the hymns can help protect us in times of temptation, they can lift us, motivate us, teach us, and heal us by the spirit they invite… without really realizing it, I have gotten to the point that I rarely need to open a hymn book at sacrament meeting, haha, many of those words are like scripture to me and are written in my heart. I hope everyone has at least a few of the hymns memorized that they can sing to themselves in those times of need.
-We got a new missionary in the zone! a few more missionaries came in this week who were waiting for visas, so Elder Elder in orange was transferred to train a new elder in Liverpool, and Elder withers who has only been on his mission for 7 weeks was asked to train elder Griffiths in orange. Sad to see elder Elder leave, but what an exciting surprise to have a new missionary in the middle of the transfer! Elder skinner and I bought a few really Australian type things and wrote him a letter with a few pictures to welcome him when we met him on Friday. He is a great young man, he and elder withers, while they are both SOOO NEW and SOO YOUNG, are going to do great things! reminds me a lot of all the growth and struggle and joy I had at the beginning of my mission, I am so grateful for all these young mens example and desire to serve, if they have anything near the experience I have had, they are going to love their missions more than they can even know. Hopefully as the zone leaders we can help them to feel comfortable, confident, and ready to meet the great task ahead of them.
-So, I hope this does not make you think I am really immature or anything, but Elder Skinner and I scared the pants off of my old friend Elder Griffin in mudgee. haha. So, I probably would not have done this to anyone else in the world other than elder griffin, but we have known each other for a long time and we are always joking around, and he is always messing with us and things, he has a pretty wicked sense of humour, haha so it was just good clean fun… But, Thursday night they came to stay at our flat for the night so we could drive them to zone conference the next morning. What we did was, we told them we were going to be a bit late getting home, but hid a key for them so they could let themselves in. Really, I was hiding in the bathroom, elder skinner was hiding in the garage, and we turned out all the lights so it looked like we weren’t there. Just as we thought, a few minutes after they got in, Elder Griffin went to the bathroom and I was there waiting to scare him. haha. I did not know he could scream at that pitch. haha. What I did not forsee was that he was braced to attack me in defense. haha, luckily he could make out my face in the dim light and my laughing put him at ease. haha. It was pretty hilarious, wish you could have been there…. yes, I will try and grow up… ;P
-So Friday we had a zone conference in orange! It was awesome! I cant even tell you how much I enjoyed it! We got there a bit early so I could have some time to read those letters that had been waiting for me in the mission office. The letter delivery system is not very good as a missionary, haha, especially when you are in a zone that is so far away, some of the letters had been waiting in the office for a few weeks, after taking a few weeks to be delivered from overseas, but gratefully, the assistants brought them up to conference. It is really annoying trying to read a letter in the presence of other missionaries by the way, they are very nosy. haha. Anyway, the conference was awesome. President asked us to assign a few elders to give short talks on various “preach my gospel” topics. I think that was my favourite part, I am so impressed by the elders in the zone, we asked several of the new missionaries to speak, (this was the first zone conference for 5 of the elders) and they just did so well, I learned so much from them, but mostly just amazed by the fact that The Lord can take young men with no experience, and turn them into powerful tools for his work in no time at all! Its pretty normal to feel like we are not good enough, or don’t know enough to serve in various callings, but I will tell you this: that the Lord calls on the weak and simple things of the world, it is not knowledge or training that qualify us, it is faith, hope charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of god that qualify us for the work (d+c section 4). I see those things in these young missionaries, and I see the power of God within them. I hope they can see that in themselves. I am going to make that a focus for my position as a leader, to help them see who they really are, what they really can do, why they have no need to doubt or fear… Anyway, the rest of the conference was great also, I have said this before, but I will say it again, I love President and sister Lew, during their trainings I just felt the spirit walk into my heart. My mission has made me pretty soft I think, there are so many times that I just find myself in tears of gratitude, joy, or some other overwhelming manifestation of the spirit. Emotion is certainly not the only way the spirit can be felt, but often in those tender moments where God touches your soul, it will bring you tears, and there is no other way to explain the feeling but through those tears. Anyway, I am so grateful for those times, I had several this week. at conference, at sacrament meeting, reading some updates from a dear friend, and while listening to a talk in the car.
-After conference I had a quick interview with president to renew my temple recommend, I really wish we could go to the temple more, but it is so reassuring to at very least have the recommend. My original recommend expires the end of the month, so it was convenient to have president visiting this week, with that I feel that I am current with the Lord. I really don’t feel perfect, I still have a lot in me that unsettles me, and discomforts me, I have a lot of growing and changing still to do, but I did feel able and worthy to answer those few questions that allow me to enter the house of the Lord. I thought back to what elder hamula said a few weeks ago… you don’t need to be perfect, but you can be clean. I have really thought about the sacrament and our covenants and this life these past few weeks, I promise anyone who reads this, that it is worth any and every step required to be able to hold a temple recommend, I say that with all the Love in my heart. Anyway, after the interview I shared with President a few of my struggles, I kinda hesitated to do this, I never want to seem like I am complaining, but the spirit gently reminded me of presidents Love, so I had confidence to talk to him, I am so glad I did. He gave me some interesting counsel, not entirely what I expected, but exactly what I needed, It is amazing to me how that works, I am so grateful for priesthood leadership. Anyway, I wrote at the start of this letter that none of the challenges we are facing have changed, but I feel so much more ready to face them, that in great measure came from the brief chat I had with president, his words just lifted those burdens, put everything into perspective and gave me focus and hope for what lies ahead. He probably does not know how much he helped me….
-After the zone conference, The zone parted ways, but not for long! that night everyone came up to spend the night at mudgee’s flat for a district service project the next day! It was really fun! It does not happen that often that 10 elders are spending the night in one apartment, haha. We had a great time, the next morning we woke up early and the trainers and I taught all the new missionaries how to play touch rugby for morning exercise. Its always kinda hard for americans to pick up because it is so different from gridiron that we are used to, but everyone started to get the hang of it and it was a lot of fun, It kinda made me miss some of my previous areas where the missionaries were close enough to get together regularly to play touch. I am going to have to teach everyone how to play touch rugby when I get home, because I will miss it to much if I don’t. haha. then we all had personal studies and a brief zone companionship study, which was cool, was a bit of a struggle to keep the elders from drifting into to “deep” of doctrine, haha, missionaries, especially a few elders in this zone love dwelling on the unknowable mysteries of the gospel. haha. But then we went to the service project! there was a lot to do! there were members from all over orange district there, some had driven over 4 hours to participate. There really is a unique spirit of unity in the small branches and districts of the church, it was so great to see everyone working together from across the district to support one of the sisters in mudgee branch who’s husband (the former district president) had recently passed away, so we were helping to get her farm ready to be sold, because it has become more than she can manage on her own. It was a lot like what I imagine the early saints were like in Kirtland or navoo, the whole community rallying together to help one, knowing that they would do the same for them if they were in need. It was a great day.
-On the way back to Bathurst, we were driving the cowra missionaries because they parked their car at our apartment, we listened to a talk by brad wilcox titled “His grace is sufficient” I had heard this several times before, but as I listened again I felt Like I would really like my family and friends to listen to this as well!… so, I think this link is it http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966
I should have taken some notes because there were a few thoughts that really touched me and Id like to share, but I cannot think of them at the moment, so if you could all do me a huge favour and listen to this message, I know there is a reason I felt prompted to share this, but Ill let you each find out the reason for yourself 🙂
-Church was awesome this week! President Bar (Sydney temple president) and his wife visted the branch and spoke. They are such wonderful people, they are so full of life and light, they are such great examples of what I want in my life and my family, I cannot think of anything specific to say other than that, they are wonderful, happy people, and I know it is because they have centred their family and lives on the gospel of jesus Christ, and that they love each other and the Lord with all their hearts. One of the sisters that spoke before the Bar’s mentioned “happily ever after” and how most fairy tales have a struggle of sorts, but end happily ever after… I think that’s possible, I think that’s what the gospel afford us, that despite all our troubles and our cares, there is a happily ever after promised to those who turn their lives to Christ. It was a nice thought!
-Ill finish up this letter with a pretty cool miracle! you are not going to believe this, so after church we went back to our flat to get something, This is really embarrassing to say, but I bent down and split my suit pants. I had a moment of frustration, because I am so close to the end of my mission and I really did not want to have to buy a new suit with such little time to go, why now? haha. We were going to give a blessing to brother oliver who is the second counsellor in the branch presidency, he is an older man and has a lot of health problems, so I quickly changed into some work trousers and tried to forget about the issue. As we were about to leave the olivers… I kid you not, sister oliver said… Elder Faulkner are you in need of a suit? Elder skinner looked at me trying not to laugh, I think my mouth was hanging pretty far open and I said… uhhh, yes actually…. how did you know. (we had not mentioned this to anyone, It had just happened a few minutes before, haha.) she said just as we were giving the blessing she had a random thought that brother oliver had an old suit he had not worn in years that did not fit him anymore, and she thought I might be the right size. She brought it out and amazingly it was a perfect fit, I don’t think it needs any alterations at all, which made sister oliver chuckle a bit, amazed that Bill was once my size (he has shrunk a few inches in height, grown a few in the waist, haha) Wow! I had just torn my suit less than an hour before, and immediately the Lord provided me a new one! I cannot even believe it, such a cool experience, adds new meaning to the versed from Jesus’s sermon no the mount Matthew 6: “28 And why take ye thought for raiment? aConsider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, ashall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little bfaith?31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father aknoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 aBut bseek ye first theckingdom of God, and his drighteousness; and all these ethings shall be fadded unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take athought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The Lord is so aware of us. He does not always provide for our needs so immediately, but I think this experience demonstrates that he is able to, He is in control, he is someone we can trust to provide and to guide us. Thank you to everyone who prays and thinks about me, I want you to know that our Heavenly father is taking care of us missionaries in every way. I pray always that he will do the same for you.
I hope everyone is having a good week wherever you are. I love you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you all!
Arohanui,
Elder Faulkner
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September 15, 2013

Dear Family,
I hope all is well wherever you all are in the world.
It has been an alright week here in Bathurst, a bit of disappointment and struggle to be honest, but I wont dwell on that. Life is good.
Not a whole lot of updates to share! But a few highlights for the week:
-We helped some kids catch their dog, haha, they were pretty desperate, so I think they were grateful!
-The weather is finally starting to warm up a bit! thank goodness, its not quite summer, but there are a few times this week that we could put away the jackets and heaters!
-In a lesson on Wednesday one of the less active members said a prayer! I was so amazed! They were not all that comfortable with it, but they did it 🙂
-We were able to identify a few concerns of a few people we have been teaching, its amazing how much easier it is to plan for and teach people when you know their concerns!
-we did some more service for our investigator Andrew child, learned how to install a water heater! He is also making some great progress with the missionary lessons.
-we had a district meeting this Friday which was good since we don’t get to see the zone all that often! It was pretty funny, during the meeting I got a call from Elder Thompson who is one of the Assistants to the mission president. I wouldn’t usually leave a district meeting to answer a phone call, but since it was from him I thought it was important. Well, he was just calling me to let me know I had a Letter in the mission office, haha. What a good friend. I have not got the letter yet, and he said there was not a return address on it, so I am not sure who it is from yet, BUT, It made my day and lifted my spirits before I have even gotten it! 🙂 haha. so thank you to whoever wrote me! hopefully I will get it this week. Hopefully there is a return address somewhere inside the letter so I can reply! (there are a few letters I have received in the last few weeks that have no return address :/ I’d love to reply, but its hard without an address to post to!) but anyway, I am so greatful for all the support and love that has been sent to me on my mission, you have no idea how much it has blessed and helped me. especially this week.( Actually, thank you to everyone who has ever written me, you have no idea how exciting it is to get letters as a missionary and hear from you guys. Just a note on that in case anyone who reads this does not know… its now authorized for us to receive emails from anyone! not just our family, so, to save on postage and hassle, and to eliminate risk of letters being misplaced or taking forever to get to australia, you can send an email instead to ryan.faulkner@myldsmail.net 🙂 oh and parcels can be sent to the office at 2 breakwell street, mortdale, nsw 2223, Chad said he updated the mailing address already on the blog, thanks chad for keeping the blog updated by the way.
-Speaking of elder Thompson, he is really a great leader, I am not sure he would know how much he has helped me out, this week I was speaking to him and he said how appreciated and important the work is that we have been doing out here in the country, and how impressed and happy with what has been happening in the zone. He even said “this may be bad to say, but you are the only one in the mission we thought could do it” speaking of opening the zone and area etc. I am glad he has that confidence in us, because it really has been a tough gig, haha, been finally getting to me this past week. But the counsel he gave me was so spot on, I am so grateful to have leadership! I have also heard in some emails and letters reccently from loved ones about bishops and leaders that have blessed my family and friends with their counsel and support, they have done much more than they know. I am just so grateful for the church, this organization the Lord has prepared to administer grace and hope to me and my family. I will bless and praise forever these great leaders who have impacted and touched my life. my mind is just panning through my life and all the great men and women who have helped me out of the difficult seasons of life and been there to smile and share in the good seasons. I hope everyone has read the first presidency message this month, It came at a good time for me!! (http://www.lds.org/liahona/2013/09/saints-for-all-seasons?lang=eng) its funny how the Lord has blessed me this week, with my leaders, the message, and also the church recently publishing a new handbook for missionaries on how to manage stress! haha, (https://missionary.lds.org/m-content/bc/PDFs/AdjustingMissLife_Booklet-LowRes_6-7-13.pdf) It is aimed at missionary work, but I think this could help anyone out! so check it out! anyway, I am full of gratitude for the blessings we have received, last night elder skinner and I spent some time counting our blessings, like I said at the beginning, life is good 🙂 Hoping to continue in the strength and spirit of this gratitude, and I am sure we will begin to see more fruit from our efforts.
-Church was really good, one of the members brought their friend to church! hopefully they had a good experience…what else, I gave one of the kids a pass along card and he carried it around all day 🙂 haha. I miss all the primary kids in the bigger wards, and the kids that I have got to teach and all the families I have been close to on my mission, and of course my little brothers at home! Children really brighten up your day…. Oh also, one of the teenagers in the branch who we have been working with, after the priesthood lesson that elder skinner and I taught, he asked if he could borrow the manual so he could share some of the things we talked about with his father who is not a member! I thought that was the coolest thing ever, It is great to see a young man using his priesthood to bless his family…
Anyway, I love this work, I love the Lord, I love all of you, I hope you all are happy and healthy! If there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know, Its hard not being able to be in closer contact with all of you, but you are in my prayers, I love hearing from you all, I send my love and blessing.
Love Elder Faulkner
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Email Ryan!

Hello everyone!
In case you haven’t heard, the church now allows ANYONE (yes, ANYONE!) to write an email to the missionaries. Ryan is coming home soon and would love to hear from ALL of you out there! Click the “Email Ryan” tab at the top of the page to email Ryan directly through his blog. Yes, just fill out the form and your email will be forwarded directly to him. Yes, it is that easy! You can also send him an email to the address found on the right hand menu of the page if you feel so inclined 🙂
Be sure to send Ryan (Elder Faulkner) an email before he comes home!
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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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Sep 2, 2013 Great Week in Bathurst

Good morning everyone, or afternoon or evening depending where you are in the world?

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It was a pretty great week this week. I am a bit tired at the end of it! but wont have much time to rest because we will be having a zone preparation day this week! so… instead of rest it will probably involve a lot of sport and running around. its okay I can sleep when I am dead! I am pretty excited for the zone getting together, all the areas are pretty isolated so hopedfully we can have a good time and lend some support and encouragement to these new elders that may be struggling! should be a lot of fun,Ill let you know how it goes next week!
So, we had a great week! added several new investigators from last weeks full day of tracting with elder Thompson, (quick side note: I told a few elders in the zone about how we went tracting for a whole day, and they have requested that I do it with them in their area when we come on trade-offs… what have I got myself into? haha) we also had some great lessons with our investigators. BUT, the majority of my news from this week will be from out of my area! Wednesday evening we travelled down to mortdale and stayed with the assistants to the mission president so we could attend an early morning mission leadership council on Thursday, which was presided by Elder James Hamula of the seventy, who happens to be the pacific area president! we had to stay over another day to attend a mission conference the next day on Friday morning, again with elder hamula, after that, we made the long drive back to Bathurst, but only to pass through it on the way to a companion exchange in orange Friday night to Saturday! what a crazy week. Another thing I forgot to mention, was that on Thursday afternoon, after the mission leadership council, I got to go on a companion exchange with the mortdale zone leaders in bankstown 1st ward!!! Its been such a crazy month getting to go on exchanges in 2 of my former areas! what made it especially cool was that I got to work for a bit with Elder Bennison who was my last companion! We had so much to catch up on, so much to talk about. IT WAS A REALLY COOL WEEK!!!!
So maybe I can start with our mission leadership council. It was interesting, Thursday morning while getting ready at their flat, Elder Thompson (one of the APs) expressed his excitement about the upcoming meeting by saying that, “when general authorities get to train in such intimate settings (like the council we were about to have) they speak very plainly, and the veil parts” Well… he was right. I was privileged to attend a zone leader council about 6 months ago with elder hamula, but that was in a mission that was more than twice the size, this was very different, our mission only has 6 zones at the moment, so this was indeed a much more intimate setting. I cannot tell you how priviledged I felt to be trained by an especial witness of Christ in such a setting. After Elder Hamula had to leave (to meet with the president of the seventh day adventest church in the pacific area, as well as meet with a senior rabbi from the jewish faith in Sydney and a cardinal from the catholic church) President Lew stated that “the training we had just received would be one of the finest leadership trainings we will ever receive in our lives” This is of course coming from a man who has served as stake president and mission president etc… I wish you all could have been there, I prize the notes I took in that meeting, It was as elder Thompson expected, as if the veil parted, on the points he spoke to us about, he opened the scriptures to me in a way I have seldom experienced, he spoke frankly, openly, and very “real”… It was as it were,,, that we were being tutored by a prophet of God… Those few hours have certainly impacted me greatly, more than just the specifics of what we learned, I was a witness of the power and authority of this church, its simply undeniable. To the seventy of old, Christ sent them “into every city and every place, wither he himself will go” So I learned something about the leadership in this church, they are in reality, extensions of Christ himself…. The prophet is his mouthpiece here, since he can not be everywhere, he sends the twelve, since they can not do everything, they call upon the seventy, and this is what really amazed me… at one point, elder hamula said to us that since they can not be every where, they send us (the missionaries)… He said you(the missionaries) are us(the general authorities) and we are you. Its no wonder why we are called by the same title… Elder… That really meant something to me… Anyway, the main message I took away from this meeting, was what it means to take Christ’s name upon us. This is a message only the spirit can teach, the few scriptures that were discussed were ones that I was quite familiar with, but as I said earlier, had not been completely open to me as of yet… I kinda planned to write a few of my thoughts, but I think that I will save them for now. It would be too hard to summarize. But this much I know, I have taken Christ’s name upon me, this means so much… we promise at baptism and in the sacrament in taking his name upon us that we will take upon us his identity, character, personality. We take upon us also his work and are participants in his plan, and as we do so, we may also become partakers of his power and authority. May it be said of us that his image can be seen in our countenance. Jesus said to his disciples that he and his father are one, and that if we have seen him, we have seen the father. I hope that I can live so that the same may be said of me, and may you live that the same may be said of you.
The zone conference was also a very special learning experience! Elder Hamula shared many different things!!!! one in particular I feel it my privilege and my duty to bring to you! at one point in his training he looked out on the hundred or so missionaries that were in attendance, and said “If I were to interview each one of you, I expect that at least half of you would say something along the lines of “I am just not good enough” or “I feel so imperfect and inadequate to this task” He then went on to share one of the most comforting testimonies I have ever heard. I will do my best to share my thoughts with you, because I expect that many who read this will have had similar thoughts at some point in their lives, indeed I have… He asked us to open to Jacob 5:65-66. This is an extended allegory known as “the allegory of the olive tree” so. in these verses talks about the lord of a vineyard, but I hope you know it is really speaking about the saviour jesus Christ, the verses also talk about a tree among many trees, but I hope you know it is talking about you! v.65 “And as they begin to grow ye shall aclear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.” I want you to think about this for a moment…. The lord of the vineyard is explaining a process for removing the “bad branches” that bring forth “bitter fruit” for this he instructs his servants “ye shall not clear away all the bad at once” what does this mean for us? we all know that we have imperfections, but in this we can take comfort, it is not in the Lords plan for those to be taken from us all at once…. I do testify that they will be taken from us, it is his plan that through him we can become perfected, BUT, that is not an overnight process, we are not expected to be perfect “all at once”
ok, so WHY? I can tell you from my own experience, I have toiled and suffered a great deal with my weaknesses, I have wrestled mightly with some of my deficiencies, why would the Lord wait to take those away? I think at least part of the answer can be found in v. 66 “For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard.” ok, so, I have been thinking about it like this… think about an apple tree, an old healthy apple tree can grow to a very impressive size and yield much fruit…. the large trunk, impressive branches and fruit represent all the outward manifestations of who we are, or in other words, the things people can see. Not as readily apparent however to an outward observer, is an equally large and impressive root system, to gather water and nutrients and give a physical support system or foundation for the plant. The Lord of the vineyard says “the root and the top” must be equal in strength, and gave instructions to only “clear away the bad, according as the good shall grow”.. ok so what does this mean? First, our weaknesses and deficiencies and pains and trials can only be taken away from us, as much as there is good provided to replace it! makes sense right? If my weakness as a missionary is fear in talking to people, it can only be removed if confidence and knowledge and speaking skills are there to replace it. This can apply to anything, as we pray for the lord to remove our weaknesses and deficiencies, we must know that it will only be cleared according to the good that is growing in us… but there is more to it than this… there is something more to the story than just the outward branches and fruit. there are the roots of our souls that only the Lord can know. I think these roots are our character, our testimony, our desires, our love… We of course desire for our outward works to grow tall and fruitful, but the tops and the roots must be equal. I think sometimes the roots in us take a bit longer to grow, its a bit harder to asses because they are unseen, but as a gardener trusts that nourishing a tree with water and sunlight and fertilizer, we must trust that consistency in living the gospel process, WILL nourish and grow the roots in us. And as those grow deep and faithful and solid, only then will it be possible for our IMG_1737skills and knowledge and works to grow. so. the tops and the roots must be equal in strength. I hope this makes sense, I know that sometimes we may feel inadequate or weak, or imperfect, but the Lord has a plan for you 🙂 he loves you deeply. HE knows the process that can and will make more out of you than you now are, but he will start with the roots, and will wait for the good to grow before he clears away the bad. I testify again that He will take away our deficiencies, if we are faithful, one day, those things will no longer plague us, I trust that he is the lord of the vineyard, but he is also my Lord individually, and he is your lord individually. While we may not be made perfect now, we can be clean, he will forgive us, and nourish us as we follow him and renew our covenants, until that light within us will grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day, when he will wipe away all our tears, and welcome us into the place he prepared for us in the mansions of our father. Be faithful, have hope.
Okay, so, a few more sweet experiences, that I almost hesitate to share, I don’t want these to bring any attention to me, but only to a principle of leadership they demonstrate! So, at the conference I got to catch up with many missionaries that I have worked with in the past! one of those is named elder Ng, from hong kong. For some reason we have served in the same zone for about half of my mission! so we have become good friends. This last transfer he was called to train a new missionary in a country area… He came up to me in the conference and said “thank you elder Faulkner for the advice you gave me at the transfer meeting, I have based my work this transfer on it and we have been seeing some great success” I was taken aback for a second there, first that someone would base their work on something I suggested, but especially in this case because I could not even remember what I had suggested to him! It was just a kind of off hand comment of something I had learned in serving in a few country areas that helped me… after a bit of thought I did remember our conversation at the transfer meeting and the counsel that I gave him… so, I really learned something here. I had been elder Ng’s zone leader for several months, we had a very good relationship, without me even knowing it, that put me in a position where he trusted the counsel I gave, even simple and small suggestions, that led him to find success. So, this kinda intimidates me. Anyone who serves in any kind of position of leadership, even just as a friend, needs to be aware that what you say will be taken and considered by those you serve, even small off hand comments must be spoken with wisdom and the direction of the holy ghost. I am humbled that the brief counsel I gave him led him to blessings, but I am aware that if I am ever careless or light hearted about what I say, it may none the less influence another person. This really does intimidate me, but also is a great motivation to fulfil the commission to represent Christ at all times, in all things and in all places, because that example, even when you think no one will be watching, may be emulated by those around you…. anyway, this same principle was demonstrated again to me this week, a missionary in the zone called me and thanked me for something I had said that led them to success. There was a day last week that I shared with him the joys I had with Elder Thompson tracting all day, he said that day he was really struggling to find something to do, he was hesitant to go “finding” but after I shared that experience, it gave him motivation to go out and knock some doors himself, and guess what, they found several people to teach. Again, I was not really trying to give him counsel, just sharing a good experience I had, but the words I said were taken as motivation, and led him to find success. I just want to take a moment and thank the leaders that have blessed me in my life, and those leaders do not all have a title like “bishop” or “district leader”, some are friends, or sisters, parents, or even investigators, but nevertheless, have served as leaders to me in my life… maybe they do not know this, but there are certainly words that I have been taught by many, and examples of friends and leaders that have changed and influenced my life for ever. I hold the relationships I have as a sacred trust, and pray that I will become a positive influence, I know that requires me to do good ALWAYS.
So, like I said, we got to go on exchanges in two areas this week, first in Bankstown 1st which happens to be my last proselyting area! How cool is that to have the chance to visit your last area? I got to teach and commit to baptism one of my old investigators named anothony, he is doing so well, coming to church every week, enjoying everything about the church, so good to see, I also got to see a recent convert that we worked a lot with named sam. Since I left he has advanced tot he Melchesidek priesthood! we had a long chat about his decision to go on a mission, he plays for the Canterbury bull dogs, so he is a bit scared that a mission may jeopardize his rugby career, but it was a great conversation, I really love that guy, oh by the way, everyone was so surprised to see me, haha, the funniest was when we stopped by to visit bishop tufunga, his wife answered and screamed in surprise, it was so funny, but it was so good to see their family as well, bishop tufunga is such a  great example to me of what I want in my family and my life, he is a great friend. Last of all we got to visit Lewly and Nela, you may remember that Lewly was baptised while I was there last transfer, it was so good to see both of their progress and their plans to be sealed in a years time. I cant tell you how sweet this experience was to catch up with some of these people, it has been just over a month since I was transferred, but there was still so much to share. Perhaps one of the greatest blessings was the chance to talk to my former companion elder bennison. While we were together, we really became brothers, I guess after you have been away for a bit and then reunited, that brotherhood only grows. He is someone that I really trusted a lot, so he knows more about me than most companions. Most of the time when you see old companions you talk about the people and your experiences together, but this was more like seeing a brother and friend, you talk about your families and lives and futures etc. He is a great friend and a great support.

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Our other exchange was in orange! you may be interested that one of the elders names is Elder Elder. haha. he was actually who I worked with for the day, he is a great missionary a great example to me, I covet his energy! haha, you joke as missionaries that the mission is like a mini life, and… I am getting old. haha. We just worked, worked, worked, all day, talked to everyone we could possibly see, hardly took a minute to breathe. haha. I am not saying this is the best way to do missionary work or anything, but its an energy and spirit that I really admire. They are really great elders there and are seeing some great success. Part of the exchange was a few baptism interviews for their investigators to be baptised next week! I interviewed a young 11 year old boy named Luke. Its so wonderful being able to give an interview to someone who is prepared and ready and excited for baptism, and to sign the baptism record as a witness that they are indeed ready. He is a great boy, a great example and strength to his family.
ok, so it was a great week! to top it all off, there was heaps of people at church yesterday! Including a few less active members who have not come in a long time, and our investigator Tania! We will also be having a ward activity this weekend that everyone seems excited to come to and bring their friends to 🙂 I am so happy to see the small branch coming together to bless and strengthen one another, its an experience I will cherish forever.
By the way, it was fathers day in Australia this last sunday, so happy fathers day to all the fathers that read this!, most especially my father and grandfathers and the other men who had taught and led and blessed me. Your example and position is so important, I am so greatful for all that you have blessed me with and given to me, especially for your faith in  Christ. I hope to follow your example. If there is anything that I have learned from my mission it would be how key a father is in leading and guiding his family, so thank you for all the good you do, I know that it will be returned to you by our heavenly father.
Until Next week,
Elder Ryan Faulkner
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