Monday, August 3, 2015

This Is It!

Well, this is it! (and no, this is not 'This is it' the Michael Jackson biography movie) I can just put my hands in the air like he did though. This is it! [two hand symbols here -ed]  Mom is probably rolling her eyes.... Sorry Mom.

This will likely be my last regular e-mail home. 

This has been a good two years. I have been able to meet some amazing people, as well as some really troubled people. I've spent hours reading the scriptures, and even more time trying to speak to  and help people in French and Tahitian. I've felt the Holy Ghost's presence STRONGER and more frequently during these past two years than during any other period of my life, and I can say that my personal testimony really has grown. I love Tahiti, and all of Polynesia, and I really am so happy that I have been able to be here. This has been the coolest thing ever. Like, ever. Really though. I have seen people come to Christ, and have their lives changed because of it. 

Mom, I don't know if you remember it, when I told you all about my fist big trip on the dirt bikes with Dad, and just couldn't express how cool it was. I called you on the phone, from the motel. I was DRAINED/exhausted, so tired, but I was excited, and couldn't express to you, how cool it was. All I could say was "It was sooo coool!" I feel about the same way. This has been the most amazing time EVER! I am very thankful for the chance I have to be a full time missionary! I'm not fully 'drained' yet though! I still have a week left in me! :D
This week, things went really, really well, and Heavenly Father helped us find some new people to teach! We got to fast (woohooo!) and I felt a boost from it. Fasting is really one of the best things, EVER! Each time I fast, I feel calm, and happy afterwards. It's worth the heartburn. During our fast this Saturday, we met some nice folks, and were able to fix a couple lessons! We also succeeded in contacting a former investigator that we've been looking for, for the past few weeks. We began the fast, left the house, and then IMMEDIATELY found this guy. In-fact, he was the one who found us! He was a bit tipsy, but he was thrilled to see us, and came up to talk with us. We're gonna see him this week, and hopeful we can help him! 

This week went SO FAST. Like really though. It feels like a day has gone by. 'White-washing' a sector isn't very easy, and at first it was a bit slow; but now, we are cruising! I just hope that we can see a few more miracles here before I leave. I will miss Fakarava a lot. I cannot wait to tell you all about this place.

This week, I studied more in the Book of Mormon, and I arrived at 2nd Nephi! WOO HOO!! I have been going really fast, and it has been great to reread the beginning of the book, with all of the end in mind. It has helped me make sense of some of Isaiah's counsel, cited by Nephi, along with large portions of Lehi's dream, and the related interpretations, and revelations that Nephi had (like chapter 15 and 14). Dude, Nephi was the MAN! I read most of that in one sitting. Sometimes I really like reading big chunks to help me see the continuity in the story, and the doctrines taught. Favorite verse thus far : 1 Nephi 13:37

Things are going well here. I got my ticket home today... :\ kinda bitter sweet, but I am SO STOKED to see you all and to catch up! I can't believe its already August. I just cant believe that this is it!

I've seen TONS of other families, with varying degrees of functionality and success, and I can truly say, that I would have no other family than ours! I feel very blessed, and I love you all.

Have a good week.
I will see you next Tuesday :)

Hurrah for Israel!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Acre to Acre Contacting

This week was a good one.

We were able to teach about fifteen lessons, and we had some good experiences in doing contacting. Elder Bakow and I did quite a bit of "door to door." The funny thing is, on the far side of the island, "door to door" is more like "acre to acre." The houses are WAY spread apart, so it lets us ride our bikes a lot. On Wednesday, I think we did about 20 miles on our bikes. It was awesome, but it was pretty hot. My trusty blue sunscreen tube has not yet quit on me, but I think I will empty it before too long. (Yes, the trusty blue sunscreen tube that I have had since the MTC!)

"Say NO! to skin cancer!"

This week, I finished the Book of Mormon! I have been re-reading it for a while, and I think I started about a year ago. In the past few weeks, I have been reading it A TON, and on Saturday I was able to finish it. I am really thankful to have been able to read it, and I know that it is TRUE! During this last time reading it, I have felt over and over, the peace and the joy of knowing that it is TRUE! As I finished it this time around, I felt so sad for the Nephites, and so sad for Moroni and Mormon. I was really into the book this time, and I really felt sad for them. I felt the Spirit, and this time instead of asking if it was true, I knelt in prayer, and thanked Heavenly Father for letting me know that it is true. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon. After having finished it, we went and talked to an investigator, and I gave him a Book of Mormon. Having just received more spiritual confirmation that it is TRUE, it was easy to share, and I felt happy doing so. I wish that EVERYONE would read it, and feel what I have felt. I feel like Heavenly Father saved this special gift for me, at the end of my mission.

This week, I have thought a lot about the techniques that Satan uses to try and deceive us. As I read the book of Mormon, I have noticed the word 'Law' come up a lot. God has given us His laws, and he expects us to respect them. Thanks to the light of Christ, we all know when we do what it wrong, and the Laws of God really should match right up with what we feel is right. Satan tries to put out the light of Christ in us, and tell us that disobedience is the norm. He tries to make us become 'past feeling' as Moroni put it. I think that many people in society today are 'past feeling' and now the majority of society says that certain sins, aren't evil, but are "harmless, normal or even good." "It is normal to sleep with your girlfriend and to break the commandments, it is harmless to use drugs and alcohol, and it is good to criticize and find faults with others." I really have seen more and more of this during the past few weeks, and I hope that I can increase the power of my own 'Light of Christ lamp' to see all of the wrong that Satan says is right.

Helaman 3:29-30 = why I love the Book of Mormon.

Thanks for all of your emails and all of your prayers and love.

I am doing my best out here, and I look forward to seeing you all soon! These are my thoughts for this week.

Have a good week!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Heiva on Kuraora

Hello from Fakarava, or as they would say in Puamotu (the dialect of the Tuamotu's) Kuraora!

This week was a good one. It was not the easiest week ever, but it was a good one. We are still having a bit of slow start, thanks to the Heiva here, but we are doing our best. Heiva is like the big yearly celebration, with dances and sports and competitions. Heiva started here, last Monday, and will continue until the end of this week... EVERYONE and their dog is at Heiva, and when we talk with people, they say we can come by, but "after Heiva." We've had lots of potential investigators, but not a ton of lessons. I hope that it will pick up after this week!

Fakarava, despite the Heiva, is AWESOME. I am very happy to know the people here, and to meet some awesome members. Elder Bakow and I know most of the branch now, and we are working on plans to help re activate the less active members. This Sunday was good, but attendance was like thirty again. Not a whole lot. I think we are more than one hundred members, on paper. Gotta rescue those who aren't coming! Our DMB (dirigeant missionnaire de branche AKA Branch Mission Leader) is awesome! He is a nice man, who served his mission like twenty years ago. He went with us to do some door to door, and he has been a good friend this week. He grew up on this island, and knows EVERYONE. It helps a lot.

One interesting thing about Fakarava, has been the amount of tourists. We see, and chat with Americans, New Zealanders (or ites?), English, German, and French tourists. It has been fun. I ordered some copies of the Books of Mormons (ha! I pluralized it 3 times!) and some pass a long cards in English, just so we can give something to the people who come here. Many people come on yachts, and all they do is read durring the travel. I would love to be able to offer another book for them to read! We'll see how it goes, when the books get here!

Last night, Elder Bakow and I had a cool chance to participate in a family night with our branch president and some other members, and one of our investigators! We taught using the story of Enos. It was fun, and we ate really well afterwards. I think I might have gained a couple Kilos in the last 10 weeks. We'll see though. We ate GOAT and POULET CITRON! Sooooooooooo goood! The goat was made with coconut milk. It was good. After the lesson, and after eating, we talked about fishing. The brother who made the goat is a big time fisherman, and he told us about all his shark encounters and about the time he spent on a Tonier (Tuna fishing boat). Cool man. I told him about ice fishing, and he was amazed. It has been fun to meet other fishermen.

This week, I read lots of general conference talks, during my studies. I spent some time reading the talks from when President Monson was called as the prophet, in 2008. I had thought about it because of the recent passing of Boyd K Packer and L Tom Perry. It made me remember Gordon B Hinkley's passing, and how the organization of the church changed. I wonder who the new apostles will be. I can't wait for conference, just so we can find out, and sustain them!

This P-day has been a nice and calm one. No big stuff going on, and lots of time to read emails and clean the house. This evening we will have a lesson, and an FHE! Sweet! Gonna get a good start on the week! 

I got my itinerary officially today. I can forward a copy of it to you, in-case the mission hasn't already done so. It is weird to see my name on one of these. I saw TONS of them when I was in the office, but NEVER with my name on it. It's a bit eerie, though I am very very excited to see you all! I hope that we can have a good impact here on Fakarava during the next few weeks.   

Thanks again for all your love and prayers. I love you and I pray for you!
In a few weeks, I will pray WITH you! Cool huh! 
Have a good week!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Hello from Fakarava!

Hi everyone! I HAVE INTERNET!!!!

Hello, from FAKARAVA!

Yes, that is the name of my new sector. FAKARAVA is a HUGE atoll, east of Tahiti. There are lots of people here, and it is A LOT like Bora Bora. Lots of big cement roads, and even one road with asphalt! I think that there are near 1000 inhabitants on the island, but I am not sure. Either way, it is HUGE here. According to our Branch President, it takes around two hours to cross the lagoon.... by boat. A tour of the island is not feasible, and would take several hours. Our Branch President is a great man! He is 28, and has showed us around the island, and helped us meet some investigators and members of the branch. There are probably around one hundred members here, but the total [attendance] yesterday was about 30... we have some work to do!

Elder Bakow and I left Hikueru on Thursday, and spent all day Friday in Papeete. We got to see the Joneses and the Caldwells (I love both of these couples!) and we got all the things ready for Fakarava. Elder Bakow is still my companion, and we are re-opening this area. It has been about ten years since the island had young missionaries, and there have been a few senior couples serve here in the interim. I'm glad to stay with Elder Bakow, he is a good friend, and I am happy that I don't need to worry about meeting and learning to work with another companion; Just land on Fakarava and GO! We landed here on Saturday morning, and we have been walking a lot. Hopefully the mission will be able to send my bike over. It might not be feasible because the boat from Hikueru is still arriving at Papeete. Then the boat coming here (once a week, phew!) will take a few days, and by then, it might be time to put it back on the boat with my luggage to go home! :P We will see though. 

When we landed in Papeete, Thursday evening, I looked out the window, and saw all the cars and all the people, I thought, WOW It's like I'm back in LA! Hahha! There were probably less than ten cars on Hikueru... 

While in Papeete we were also able to go to the temple! That was a very special opportunity, and I was thrilled to go. I love the temple.

This Sunday, we were given all of the sacrament meeting! We taught Sunday school too! :D This is gonna be a blast! It was a fun chance to talk and to meet everybody.

Thanks for all your support and all the prayers. I feel lucky to have such a cool family, and such a cool mission. I want to finish strong.

As far as pictures go... I think I will just save them for next month. My camera is still kaput, and I will just bring home some copies of Bakow's pictures. I'll show you, and tell you all about it.

I can not believe that things are going this fast. I cant believe it.

Know that I love you all!

Have a good week!

Sent by Elder Bakow, "We are happy to have a computer again, I'll try to send you a couple of our favorite pictures."
Photo Credit: Elder Larsen :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Jour du Sabbat, Jour du Bateau

Hi everybody!!

This has been a good week. We have taught tons of lessons, but almost all of them have been with members ( less active or new converts). We are getting ready to leave Hikueru, and we are going to miss it. The members here are bummed that the missionaries are leaving. It has been a special stay here. I still don't know where I'm going but I'll let you know next week I imagine.

This week, we had some good experiences, and we did some fun service projects. On Tuesday we chopped coconuts for coporah and on Monday we got to work on the little cabin I told you about. Today our friend showed us his bee hives :) He just got them off the boat from Makemo, and they hope to be producing their first batch of Hikueru honey in August. So cool! He and his wife have been our best friends here and they are always so helpful and kind. I have been taught by their example. They are striving to be autonome (self reliant) in a system that caters to the hupehupe ( lazy in Tahitian). Someday I hope that I could taste their Tuamotu honey.

Yesterday was another boat day and we were at the dock (along with the whole population) for several hours just to get our bikes on the boat to go to Papeete. Its funny how talking with elder Bakow, we often refer to Papeete as home. Its like HQ or home base I guess. We got them taken care of, and also managed to get a few lessons in. Luckily the branch had their Sacrament meeting at like six AM, so the sabbath wasn't completely worldly... in french there's a song "jour du Sabbat, jour du Pere" (Sabbath day, day of the Father) and Elder Bakow and I like singing "jour du Sabbat, jour du bateau" (Sabbath day, day of the boat). It fits like perfectly in the french hymn. Too bad that the boat lands so often on Sunday.

Also yesterday, we ate with the Govenor of Hikueru :) who is also a member; he had us over to meet the men from Papeete who are working on the airport and city maintenance. They were really nice men, and were very French. Two of them were from Bordeau. It is fun meeting new people. After our conversation, I shared Jeremy 1:5 and talked about our divine potential. Its probably the first time they've actually heard and conversed with a " mormon missionary " and I hope that they will be happy to talk with and meet other missionaries in the future. I have the hymn in my head "Nous semmons tous des semences" but I can't remember the words in English. Its about sewing seeds, and I really like it. Its kinda odd how much I've mentioned the french hymns today.... I really appreciate them.

This has been a good week. I don't have too much too say other than "I love you, and I am doing well." I cant believe that I have only a month or so to go. I just gotta do my best and look forward to seeing you again! I pray for you all.

I love you! Have a good week!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Baptism in the Ocean and a Mystery Month to Finish

Dear Family, 

Hi everybody!

This was a good week. We didn't have a lot of lessons, but we did have two baptisms. I got to baptize in the ocean. It was a special experience. The baptismal service was a big success, and yesterday during the confirmations I felt the Spirit very strongly. It was awesome :) I'll have to tell you more about it and show you pictures of it when I get back. I am very happy for and proud of our amis. Oh and Heavenly Father answered our prayers with LOVELY weather :D

Sad news is my trusty camera literally gave up the ghost right after the baptism. I don't know what happened to the camera, but it just quit turning on.... bummer, but it is just a thing. It wasn't wet, and I didn't drop it either... not sure why it decided to quit on me. At least elder Bakow has a good camera, and I can just copy his photos for the next six weeks :) Thanks for the camera though, it has been the best ever. It lasted like two years exactly. For a factory refurb I think we scored :)

We found out last week that we will likely be going back to Papeete the 09 July. This means that we have one week and a half left here on Hikueru, and then I will finish my mission by spending a month somewhere else. I don't know where we will be going at the transfer, but like you said Dad, I am not sure that I care too much about it. I have complete confidence in President and I am willing to go and do whatever he'd like me to do.  Even if it means being a junior companion in Heiri again (but I don't think that will be where I go seeing as it's a sister's sector now ). Hiva Oa would be awesome but we'll see.

This week, I read some talks from Elder Pearson and from President Monson. They are my heroes. I read a President Monson talk from the Priesthood session of conference, and I remembered that feeling of being with Thousands of priesthood holders. I love general conference and everything about it. I got goosebumps just thinking about it. I'd like to watch conference with you all when I'm back.

This week I also started my third and final mission journal!! The green and brown ones are full and now I'm on the white one. Thanks for getting me the journals. I have really enjoyed being able to read about what I did a year ago, and now two years ago. As of today I am also on my last missionary six week planner :O it's weird to think about. I prefer not to. I just need to do my best. I hope that I will be able to keep up with journals in college.

Today we helped some of our friends build a little tin roof house :D It is a lot harder to punch the galvanized self sealing steel roofing nails in than it looks like. We worked with them for about six hours... I am thoroughly pooped. I am looking forward to seeing the little cabin finished.

These are my thoughts for today. I still love being a missionary!

Thanks for all of the prayers and support. I love you all! Have a good week! 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Record Church Attendance and the Light Speed Translator

Ia orana!

Hi everybody!

This week has been a good one, and it went by really fast!
We started this week, with a Tuesday that was filled with lessons. We were able to teach about 17 lessons with investigators, and 13 or 14 with new or non active members. Teaching the less active members and the new converts has been really fun. I love the people here!

This week, we had 58 people at church! Woohoo! New record for us! We had five investigators, and some of their children. We were super happy about that yesterday. At the chapel, we watched the broadcast from elder Cook, about the sabbath day. It was all in Tahitian (when it was in Papeete, and I saw it live, it was in English :D). The translators speak SO FAST! They say all of the phrases in Tahitian, as the speaker says the untranslated phrase in English. BUT big and complex thoughts in English take a lot less time to clearly state than in Tahitian. That means that in order to keep the same time limit as an English speaker, the Tahitian speaker must either dumb down or simplify all the comments, or speak at WARP SPEED! I think that the translator did a bit of both. The talks aren't simplified too much, so the speaker has to speak VERY VERY fast. It was cool to hear. He spoke CLEAR and crisp Tahitian, but spoke faster than you will ever hear it spoken in french Polynesia. I was blown away.

This week, Elder Bakow and I ate some weird crab thing. It's fermented crushed crabs and little crustaceans in some sort of white paste that we ate on coconut bread. Its like island sauerkraut. The coconut bread was made not with the normal white flesh of the coconut, but it was made with what they call nou-nou (you let the coconut sprout, and then cut it open and cultivate the heart of the sprout, it is white and spongy and sugary!). In the Tuamotus they make bread using it and they call it feraua nou-nou. Anyways, it was way good. I thought I'd tell you about it. The crab gunk was alright, but the bread was amazing, and together, it was good.

This week, one of our few precious investigators took the plane with her husband to go to Tahiti, and they wont be back for another week. They left to Papeete to get married!!! WOOHOO!! Our investigator will likely be baptized here when they get back. We fixed her baptism for the fourth or July! We called it Independence day (not American Independence, but independence and liberty from sin! :D ) We are super stoked for them. The cool thing is, that I know their family very well. The husband of our investigator, he is from my old sector. I did Skye at his sister's family's house on Christmas and Mothers Day. SO anyway, it has been cool to teach this family, and I just hope and pray that all goes well for their marriage, and that she will be ready to be baptized on the fourth!

This week we should have two baptisms. We are having some interesting challenges coming up with the family of one of our investigators though. I hope and pray that all goes well, and that our ami will be alright.  Our other investigator is a seventy eight year old angel! She is so nice, and teaching her has been so fun! She speaks ONLY Tahitian, and we have been teaching with her member son-in-law with us. He helps us when we mess up or don't clearly teach a principle, and he is a way good translator. He calls us Kolipoki! It has been fun teaching with him. His mother in law is sooo cool! We are just praying that the lagoon is nice and calm, and warm for her Saturday baptism! :D

This week I am studying the atonement.  I have started by studying several words like LAW. I was interested by it in Alma 42, and I have been looking at its use in passages all over the scriptures. When prophets use the word law, they often speak of redemption or intercession too. The plan of redemption. I had a cool insight about what intercession means, and why Jesus gave the intercessory prayer. I'm still studying that. Last night we had a great lesson with a less active family. We talked about the atonement, and I felt the Spirit really strongly. I KNOW that Jesus loves me, and all of us, and that is what makes this whole thing real, and right! I know that He is our Savior, and that we can have joy through Him.

I read about fifteen chapters in the book of Mormon this last weekend, and my goal is to get through all of Helaman in the next week or so. I love the book of Mormon! When you read the war chapters in one sitting, it is AWESOME! The story is easy to follow, and you realize what a looooozer Amalickiah was. WICKED dude. Moroni is the coolest guy ever! I love the Book of Mormon. Elder Pearson promised us that if we read it everyday, we will never feel doubt, and we will be protected. He said if we read it everyday, we will never fall! I was impressed by that promise, about a year and a half ago, and I want to put it to the test!

These are my thoughts for this week!  Thanks for all your love, and for writing to me! I loved all the emails that I got this week and last week. Thanks for everything! I am doing well here, and I am doing my best. I know that the Church is true, and I am so thankful to be a missionary.

Have a good week!