Monday, November 30, 2015

C'est la Vie!


This week was kind of hard. We lost a few investigators (when I was on splits somewhere else, nonetheless), and a lot of our investigators aren't progressing. A typical lesson is following up on the commitments, and they didn't do any of them. We might ask an investigator if they read a certain chapter.They say yes, and when we ask them what they learned, they quickly skim the chapter and say something based on that. Then through the lessons, they agree with everything we say, and on to the commitments again that they never do. It can get frustrating. But we've been teaching a lot on how it's important to read an follow the commitments, and I think that will help.

We do have a set baptismal date on the 19th. He's a Belgian guy named Alain*. He's getting married to a Tahitian the same day he's getting baptized. Everyone thinks he's a member already. He knows a lot, goes to church each week, and is getting to know all the members.

We also have a few more. We have Palila* (who I committed to baptism my first day) who is deciding a date, Rava* who also just needs to decide a date, Vairea* who is living with her husband.  We offered her a new house to live in, but she refused. As soon as we get her out, she will be ready for baptism. We also have Heiarii*, a seventeen year old who is starting to really understands what we teach. He accepted baptism already. We taught him a few days ago, and asked if he had any questions about baptism he said "Qu'est-ce que c'est, la baptème?" Well, it was good he asked. We explained it, and he's getting ready for it.

Right now we're trying hard to find new investigators. It's not going super well right now, but it will come.

On Thanksgiving, we had a faatamaaaraa for lunch. These people owned a restaurant, and they just had us eat there. We had steak and fish kebabs, poisson cru, french fries, and of course bread to go on the side. Delicious. That evening we went over to a member's house for another faatamaaraa. He's French, but also speaks English, so he usually talks to us in English. We had lasagna and baguettes. We then helped him make the Thanksgiving dinner for the next day that he invited us to. He invited a bunch of non-member friends and would strategically place us so we could talk to them and bring up the gospel a little bit. I made a pumpkin pie from scratch, which was pretty fun. I always wondered how you actually make them.

We had the feast the next day. Turkey, stuffing, green beans, quiche, french fries (yes, and sadly they replaced mashed potatoes), and other foods. For desert, we had apple pie, pumpkin pie (which didn't end up great, but not bad), brownies, root beer floats. It was awesome. Let me just say I'm thankful for food. I'm thankful for missionary work, for my family, for all the things I took for granted back home.

We visited members the other day, and one of them was the Maono family. I realized how much I've progressed. I had my first faatamaaraa at their house and  remember I couldn't understand anything, and I barely talked. This time I not only understood everything they said, but talked and joked around with them. It's amazing the things you can do through the spirit and the gift of tongues in particular.

Some fun stuff: for Pday today we played beach soccer. I got some nice burns just to spite all the people living in snow right now. Also, people are starting to prepare for a cyclone. It's been really stormy the past few days, and they say it will come soon. That would be pretty cool if I had an Elder Groberg experience.

Okay, one last thing for this week. Leslie* is the cousin of Rava. She's been with Rava for about three lessons, and we taught her her own lesson yesterday. We taught her about prophets and the Restoration. Elder Millerberg did most of the talking, and as we were wrapping up, he asked me if I had anything to say. I had been thinking about talking about prayer, so I did. I told her that this all probably sounds crazy, but through prayer she could know if it's true. We ended up talking for a while after that. Then Liline started talking. Hold on. Let me explain Liline. She's a member that has helped us a lot in finding people to teach. Tahina, a new convert, and Palila live there, along with a few others. Also, it was this house that we offered to Vairea.  Rava goes there all the time, and we teach a bunch of lessons there. So we were at Liline's house, and at the end, she started to talk. She talked about her conversion to the Church and testified of it's truthfulness. The spirit was strong already, and that bought it even more. Leslie asked for a Book of Mormon and we set up anther appointment. I think we can commit her to baptism soon and that will also make Rava choose a date, too.

With experiences like this you can't deny the truthfulness of the church. The church is true, The spirit testifies. God will always help us when we need it.

Elder Lewis

Monday, November 23, 2015


This week has been crazy! The flight took FOREVER, first of all. As We were descending, Elder Edmunds and I were guessing the temperature. I got closer, and I was twelve degrees too cold. It was 85°. As I walked out of the plane, I was hit with a blast of humidity. We went in the airport and we were the only ones there, unlike LAX, the airport we left from. We walked out and were greeted by a bunch of people and heis (a hei is a Tahitian lei). I realized that at some point in that jumble I shook the mission President's hand, and before I knew it we were in a car headed for the temple. We stayed in the temple housing for the night, and I woke up at 3:30 to roosters. The sun rose at about 4:30 and we walked up to the President's house for breakfast. We had bread with Nutella, hot chocolate, Kool-Aid. Very Tahitian. Just kidding. We also had croissants and Tahitian bananas which are WAY better than American bananas. We talked with the President, had lunch, which was slightly more Tahitian: bread, rice, a sauce with potatoes and meat, and a corn, lettuce, carrot salad. Delicious. After talking some more, the trainers came in. We had a map showing where the trainer would go, then the Trainee would be called and come up. My new companion is Elder Millerberg. He's been out for 18 months, and he's from Utah. He's super cool.Out of all of us, we're the only companionship with a car. I had three hopes:

1. to have a Tahitian companion
2. to be a bike mission(I don't want to get too fat)
3. to serve in an outer island

I got none of it, but that's okay because I love the mission anyway. I'm serving in Papara. I think there are six of us on Tahiti and the others in our district are in other islands.

That night, we split up and I went with my new companion. He said that we were teaching an investigator and that I was going to commit her to baptism. The lesson was on baptism. At the end, I talked about baptizing my little sister, and then committed her. She said yes. We walked away, and my companion acted like nothing unusual happened. I was pretty excited.

For dinner, we had a dinner appointment, a faatamaaraa, get cancelled, so we were dropped off some rice and chow mein. Again, what a Tahitian meal. That's the end of day one. I won't go into detail with the other days, but we've continued to teach investigators, and we have a few who just need to decide when they will be baptized.

 A few days ago we were looking for people to visit with the DMP (ward mission leader). We ended up talking with this mami for I think an hour and a half. She mumbled and talked quietly, so even if I could understand the language I had no idea what she was saying. Elder Millerberg told me at the end that she told the same story six times. That's a Tahitian in a nutshell. They can just go off for a while, not talking about anything in particular. it's hilarious!

Some of the biggest things I noticed here are the nature, the culture, the animals.
It's super green here. We have a  coconut tree in our yard, and a banana tree is trying to grow. The ocean is beautiful, the scenery is beautiful, the mountains are awesome. They're sheer and have lots of waterfalls in them.

The animals. There are lots of animals that roam-chickens, cats, dogs. Very few of the animals are friendly or are clean, so you usually stay away from them. The dogs are afraid of humans and hate them, so they sometimes chase you. You just pretend to pick up a rock and they will run away. They also walk wherever, so you just drive and they will move if they don't want to be run over.

The culture. Take off shoes before going in someone's house. Every time. All the windows and doors are always open, so usually it's slightly warmer inside because the hot air doesn't escape as well. Driving cars is weird. You just avoid hitting things and you're good. Everyone likes to run in Tahiti, so lots of people are on the side of the roads. You just try to avoid them in a car.

On Thursday I got to go to the temple. It's super small. I had a translating device but ended up just listening in french. I'm pretty proud of myself. Oh, speaking of languages, that's pretty hard for me right now. I've been trying to figure out why I could understand french before, but I'm lost right now. I'm thinking it has to do with the accent, the fact that they mumble more than a french person. I think a big thing though is the fact that I've been learning to teach people the gospel, not have conversations, so that's something I'm starting to work on. I can't communicate as well when I'm not actually teaching a lesson. For lessons and stuff Elder Millerberg does most of the talking and I basically just throw in my testimony when I can. 

Oh! For our first faatamaaraa we had poisson cru. Delicious! Everyone needs to try it. I don't think I've had any Tahitian food that I didn't like so far.

When people get to know me they ask where I'm from and how old I am. Each time they're astonished. Everyone thinks that I look french, and I've gotten that I look between 20 and 25 years old. Huh. I wasn't aware. 

Did I mention that the humidity is bad? It took me like three days just to not feel claustrophobic. You are constantly damp, whether from the humidity or from your sweat. You think you'll be fine for a little while after you take a shower, but you never actually get dry. It's something I'm still trying to get used to.

Now about he bug bites. I think they attack at night, and for some reason they concentrate on my ankles. I have about twenty five bites on one ankle alone, and about fifty altogether. I guess that's another thing I'll need to get used to.

Life is great here. Hard at times, but great. I'm learning a lot and  have really cool experiences each day. I'm still getting used to the new culture, the new weather, still trying to understand the people, but between all of that I'm becoming a different person, and as long as I try to do good things and persevere and be obedient, I know the Lord will bless me and help me become better.

Here are the random thoughts of Elder Lewis in the past week. Enjoy.

Elder Lewis

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The end and the Beginning

Well, this is the End. I'm packing up for Tahiti. This is my last day here, and then I'm off. This is the part where I start looking back on the person I used to be and the things I used to know and see how much I've changed. It's great. I've really grown a desire this past week, more than any other week here, to tell the whole world what I know. I want to tell everyone about the Restoration, about Christ and His Atonement, about the saving power that He has for everyone. I think that with that desire, it doesn't matter so much that I don't know the languages perfectly. God will help me out.

I had some really cool experiences in this past week.  I was able to give a blessing of comfort and counsel. All the departing missionaries in our district wanted them so we all got and gave them. It was really cool to see the Lord guiding them to say certain things. I'm convinced they we wouldn't have said those things without the spirit. Then Elder Edmunds and I gave soeur Rakotomalala a blessing for the sick. Again, way cool to see the Lord directing me as I spoke. Afterwards, I could see the difference in the way she walked. She wasn't as bad off as before. The church is true! E mau parau i te Ekalesia!

Also, this was my first time giving both blessings. I don't know if very many experiences here, if any, can compare to what I felt then.

I was reading in Mosiah yesterday. I've read the Book of Mormon a lot of times, but somehow I seemed to have missed this part every time. It is the story of King Noah and Abinadi. Abinadi preaches of the wickedness of the people and they hate that he's talking bad about them. They try to kill him, so he disappears. 

Two years later he comes back disguised and continues to preach. They catch him this time, and put him before the King. Now this is the part I seem to miss. I remember him Saying that they couldn't touch him until he had finished, and then he talked about the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments, but that was it. This time I carefully read all of it. It's probably one of the most powerful scriptures I've read on the Atonement. He tells all these people about how Christ would come, and Atone for us, and be crucified. My favorite verses are in chapter 14:

He is despised and rejected of men; man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief; and we 
hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 4 Surely he has borne our griefsand carried our sorrows;yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
 But he was wounded for our transgressionshe was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
This is an awesome scripture, showing a little more about how Jesus Christ felt and how we treated him in all of his struggles in the Atonement. I'm surprised not all of the priests and King Noah were converted right then. It was so powerful.

Oh! Today it snowed! Like actually snow, and not the rain/snow stuff that we've had. I guess it's our parting gift before we leave it for two years. It's funny to see all the people here who haven't seen snow before having snowball fights and just enjoying the snow. It's a complete new experience for them.

Other fun stuff this week: We had a devo from some media guy in the church (I can't remember his name) who showed us Christmas videos, ads, and memes that the church will put out soon.

I lost an OJ bet (there's a picture). I guess that wasn't really fun, but it's different.

We've had a Tahitian teach us. He makes learning way fun, and tells us about Tahiti so we know what to expect. He also taught us the Haka. I learned it before, but forgot most of it. It's also way cooler when a Tahitian teaches it to you and when you understand what you're saying. 

I can't believe I'm leaving. It's kind of like Christmas- where you have the anticipation of waiting for it to come and you're super focused on it coming, but when it actually comes it's a surprise. That's how I feel. I've waited two months wanting to get out of here and now, all of a sudden, I'm leaving. I think I'm ready, though. I'll have lots of new experiences.

Awkward picture of Elder Edmunds, our teachers, and me

All of our study materials

Elder Edmunds fell asleep. Again.

Is Elder Prete smoking at the temple? Maybe

Last Sunday with Soeur Banda

Almost our entire district

Scriptures in Malagasy. You can't read it, but look at where verse 19 starts and ends.

Need I explain this picture?

Who needs a leaf pile when you can have a leaf line?

Got Elder Prete in Infield Orientation

Our first day at the MTC! I don't know if you can see the dork dots

Yeah. You know what's up

Soeurs Jimmy and Rakotomalala

I think I'm being attacked

Ninja selfies. You can see my dork dot

We found Waldo.

I lost the OJ bet. Ugh.

This one's for France.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"It's a completely new MTC experience from the last six weeks."

Iaorana! Ua here au ia MTC! E Haapi'i mai au roa e Te nehenehe nei au pure e nehenehe au faaite i te iteraa pau. Ua horo'a Te Atua ia vau i te horo'a no mau reo.

This week has gone by pretty slowly. It was full of exploding brains trying to understand Tahitian, saying goodbye to people, and getting ready to go to Tahiti. We started learning Tahitian Wednesday, and I'm telling you, it's hard. I'm going to have to rely on God to give me the gift of tongues because I can't figure it out. It's really cool, though. We taught our first Tahitian investigator on day two of Tahitian. Elder Edmunds and I walked to the door, were about to knock, then realized we didn't know how to introduce ourselves. We just winged that one. It was a good thing the name of the Church is on the Book of Mormon. After we introduced ourselves, she started talking. We had NO IDEA what she said! We just sat there for a minute (or maybe five) and then I just said "Eaha?". She explained again and we still had no idea what she said, but when Elder Edmunds said some choppy words, she let us in. the rest of the lesson was full of silent pauses as we tried to figure out what she said. It feels like you're trying to make a machine work. If you push the right sequence of buttons, the machine moves, and you're stuck trying to find out the next sequence of buttons. We've gotten better, though, as we've been teaching more and more.

We've gotten snow. I can't decide if I like it or not. It's pretty wimpy, though, I'll tell you that. It can't decide if it wants to be snow or rain. The moisture is good-I've gotten SUPER chapped, and I'm just waiting for Tahiti to solve that problem. It's so fun to see how the Vanuatuan sisters react to that. Oh yeah, we got three new sisters, and gain another today. We had to move to a bigger classroom because there are so many of us. It's really fun getting to know knew people and a new language. It's a completely new MTC experience from the last six weeks.

I guess not a lot is happening other than that besides the fact that everyone we've gotten to know is leaving. And we would've left with them. It's all good, though. People are going where the Lord wants them. And soon I'll be there, too.

Highlight of the week: A Brazilian Elder came up to me and asked if I was Brazilian! Oh yeah!! 

Low point of the week. Some of us decided to fast yesterday and we'd break it this morning with a temple breakfast. And what do you know? The one day in the seven weeks I've been here We get catered. Chick Fil-A catered for dinner. elder Edmunds had just broken his fast right before, so I was stuck sitting between my district watching them eat real food. Well, not really REAL food, but ten times more real than the food here. But hey, I got more blessings than them, so it's okay.

Alright, I guess not much more has happened here, so this will be a short letter. But the church is true, God loves us, we can find answers to all our questions through prayers.
Ua ite au e ua here Te Atua ia tatou. Te pahona ona ia to'tatou mau pure. E parau mau i te Buka a Moromona. Ua ite au e ua rave o Iesu Mesia fara'ehara. Ua tatou tamari'i no Te Atua. E haere atu vau i Tahiti ia faaite i te evanelia no Iesu Mesia no mau taata. Ua hinaaro mau taata i te evanelia e e horo'a vau ia ratou. Ua here au i te misione e i te evanelia. Ua parau mau i te ekalesia!

Elder Lewis

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Long Week

This week has been long! It started out Tuesday night with a devotional from Elder Anderson. That was way cool. We were going to do and OJ bet on if an Apostle would come, except we all knew one would come. He talked about suffering and enduring through it, the Adversary and beating him, and some other motivating stuff. I loved every minute of it.

Of course at the end I wanted to shake his hand or something, but there would be no way for that to happen with all the missionaries, so afterwards we just left a side door. Right there was a black car behind a little barricade thingy, and a body guard. Right then, Elder Anderson walked up, so Elder Robinson, Edmunds, and I went over to shake his hand along with only about twenty others before he left. Way cool.

This whole week we've been finishing up with our teachers before we start learning Tahitian, and I think that's why it seemed to drag out so long. Our teachers have been telling us lots of stories from their missions in Paris including really funny ones and really spiritual ones. We've been teaching our teachers like they were investigators. They acted like investigators from their own missions who they became close to and it was cool to see how we taught them compared to how our teachers actually taught them on their missions. 

We have also been talking about the first day at the MTC. I didn't realize how much I improved until looking back and seeing how much I thought I know and how much I didn't know. The gift of tongues is real, and We've had a lot of help from up above to learn not only how to teach the gospel with the spirit, but teach it in a different language.

Christmas lights are going up and it makes the MTC life a little more easily managed. They started putting them up right outside our classroom window. Man, we're blessed. Just kidding. The Vanuatuans got a kick out of the people climbing this big tree to put lights up.

Overall this week, I've mostly just been excited to start Tahitian. Tomorrow's the day. We're losing Soeur Banda to Saint George and gaining five new missionaries. We've met two of them, one from Utah and the other from Madagascar. It's going to be fun starting this new language with new people. It will be a completely new adventure. I just hope I'll be able to learn enough Tahitian in two weeks.

So far, I've spent six weeks in the MTC which is the longest most missionaries will stay here. I've definitely learned to rely on the Lord in these past six weeks, to pray hard and sincerely, to work diligently, and to seek out the spirit in everything I do. There's a scripture that talks about trusting in the Lord, because without Him you can't do anything, and with Him, you can do all. Out on my mission, I'm going to be using that a lot.

It's a great opportunity to be on a mission and to be able to teach people about the true church through the Holy Ghost. I know I can't do it without him, and I try to be humble so I can teach effectively. These six weeks have changed me, and I know these next two years will change me even more.

Until next time, nana!

Elder Lewis

Soeur Jimmy and her awesome hair

First meal eating healthy

Me and Elder Winwood before he left for Hong Kong

Cereal eating challenge

Elder Edmunds sleeping again

Elder Edmunds and I took a walk for a break and wandered to the senior couples floor. This is what they get! Not fair!

There's this really weird picture in the main building. Look at the window

Bathroom pics with Elders Edmunds and Robinson

Disgusting MTC food

Elder Roylance fell asleep. Bad move, my friend

Me and Elder Marae this Sunday before he left

Elder Tetaapua (from Tahiti), Elder Leroy (from Belgium), Elder McLoughlin, me, Elder Edmunds, and Elder Robinson

Sister Saroni, Sister Jimmy, and me celebrating Halloween with fake teeth. They were scared when I first smiled at them with purple vampire teeth, then they put some in, too

The story I wrote in Bislama

Me, Elder Edmunds, and brother Maher, the branch's first counselor