Monday, February 29, 2016

A Storm's Comin'

A storm's coming in. We've been hearing news about cyclones around a few islands here in the Pacific, and Tahiti's been flooding a little. Here in Takaroa we've started to get lots of wind and rain. The bridge we take every day has started to flood over, preventing us from crossing. It's pretty fun, though. I'm trying to find some spiritual analogy to connect woth it, so hopefully by the end of the letter I'll come up  with something.

The bridge we cross everyday. It was already starting to get bigger, but in the one at night (I don't know if you  can see it) The water is covering the bridge.

This week has been a little different. The two Elders on the other part of the island both went home, one due to an emergency, so only one was replaced until the end of this week. In the meanwhile, the three of us took over both sectors.

Despite there being three of us and doing lessons for two sectors, we suffered with the loss of a lot of lessons, only bringing in about twenty for the week. Oh well. Things happen.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but each week we have a meeting with all the leaders in the branch. There, we (the missionaries) go with one priesthood leader to an inactive which we find on a list of all the inactives in our sector. We usually choose someone, visit them, ask if we can share a small message, talk about the importance of prayer or something, set up a lesson, and voila! New inactive to teach. For some reason the leaders don't like doing more than one person a week, but so far we've started lessons with about eight people. Whether they're interested or not, they accept the lessons, and we've had a lot of successs with that.

This week we saw a miracle with an inactive who's been slowly cutting down on cigarettes. He decided he was done, so he skipped the last ones-four per day, so he can prepare for his mission. If everyone was like that here, We'd have a lot more members and active members. In fact, if it weren't for people smoking here, almost the entire island would be converted. Miracles work!

 The rest of the story for Moeava will have to wait, we didn't get the chance to talk to her dad yet. Hopefully next week.

Okay, I've got an analogy. It's pretty simple, but we used it a lot this week, so I'll give it to you.

Helaman 5:12- And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storms shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Here in Takaroa we've had storms that have broken bridges, floods that have covered the ground, and it can get worse; I haven't experienced a cyclone yet. It's the same with Satan. He will send his storms, his cyclones, his whirlwinds, his hail. He want's us to fall. All we have to do is focus on Christ and we cannot fall. You know the story of the wise and foolish men (3 Nephi 14). It's true. God has all the power to defeat Satan. Let's side with Him and not build our foundations on sandy beaches, giving Satan complete power over us, but on rocks, firm and resistant against Satan's temptations. 

Have a good week everyone, and don't forget that you're the sheep of the Good Shepherd and he's calling your names! Stay Strong!

Elder Lewis

Monday, February 22, 2016

Faith Brings Miracles

"Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you."

"If any of you lack wisdom(or have a question), let him ask of God(pray), that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing waivering."

Why didn't I do that sooner? God cannot lie. Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive. God will give you what you ask if you have a sincere heart and real intent. Lately, my prayers haven't been really sincere. I pray for things I want, but not with the meaning I should have. But this week, I changed that. I really asked for power, through the spirit, to teach, so that our investigators and inactives will have a change of heart.  And god gave that to me. Immediately, with the next lesson we taught, and throughout the week, I noticed a huge difference in what I've said and the way I've said it. God gave me the power through the spirit that I asked for. And all I had to do was ask.

We taught Purotu*, our investigator who is holding off because her whole family is protestant and she doesn't want to change that, although she has a strong testimony in the church. The lesson was on perseverance, which turned into temple work, to suit her needs and questions better. We taught Tita*, an investigator who doesn't really progress or want to change on the Atonement. I could see that he listened, at least a little more than usual, to our message.

The biggest event of the week was with our investigator, Moeava*. She's about thirteen or fourteen years old, and has taken the lessons for a while but can't get baptised because her protestant father won't allow it. In our lesson, we asked her how her scripture study was going. she got teary eyed, and left the room. We found out that her dad had told her to thrw out her Book of Mormon, and that she had hid it instead. That shows testimony and devotion. She's had struggles, and pushed through them. That's where I shared a thought. This thought I've had prepared for a few months, but I've never had the chance to share it, but this time felt right.

Matthew 17:20- "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; nothing shall be impossible unto you."

If almost all of us can work miracles, why don't we? 
1. We lack faith that we have faith
2. How did Jesus work any miracle in his ministry? Because of the faith of the person. "Thy faith hath made thee whole."

Ether 12:12- "For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them..."

Ether 12:6- "...Wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

I talked about showing God our faith, and promised the miracle- in this case, her father accepting her baptism. The spirit was strong, and the number of dry eyes were few. At the end of my message, everyone was silent, dumbfounded by the spirit. you had to be there for that one to feel the power duting that lesson. We set up a fast, said a closing prayer with more tears, and left with a feeling I can't describe. That message I had prepared long ago was meant for Moeava, right then.

I know the spirit was there to guide me what to say and do, and I have complete faith in God and the miracle he is about to perform. I just hope the other people have the faith that I have. We're going to talk to her dad in the next couple of days, so I'll tell you how that goes. 

We also fixed part of a baptism with Uira*. He still doesn't want to chose a date until he finishes smoking(down to one or less a day) but he did choose my companion to baptise him, and me to confirm and give him the gift of the holy Ghost. So if all goes well, we will soon have a baptism or two.

We started teaching an inactive last week, and had our second lesson this week. This lesson, we gave his son a blessing, answered lots of questions about eternal marriage (his wife is catholic) and has really changed already. When his wife comes back from Tahiti, we'll start teaching her. Tons of blessings this week!

Other than that, fun stuff of the week:

This mami here loves talking to the missionaries, and whenever she does, she talks about the five missionaries who proposed to her when she was fifteen. The other day, we were riding by, and saw her and her sister on a laptop (not even theirs) trying to look up the five missionaries on the gmail username box. they asked for our help, and they ended up not looking on facebook, but a general google images search. Keep in mind they were super common names like "Jim Green" or "Bob Buck". They were convinced that one of the first images they saw was the missionary. One photo didn't even have the same name, and it was a picture of a guy in a movie scene. So funny! That made my day!

My luggage finally came, along with my bike. It's always nice to have clothes and study materials.

We got every person on the island with dreadlocks to come to church this week. Okay, that's only two people, but have any of you ever accomplished that?

The other two elders left the island, one got transfered, and the other is in the hospital at Tahiti, so we're spending about a week with the new elder, Elder Nelson. It's going to be fun!

Okay, that's about it for this week. My testimony is in the power of faith and prayer. God is there, waiting to pour blessings on our heads. If we ask, we will receive. Stay strong and sincere, and we will have success.

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

Have a good week everyone!

Elder Lewis

Monday, February 15, 2016

Just a few sunset pics, and Elder Maltelour

Things are going the same as usual here. Not a whole lot of exciting things this week. a lot of work with inactives. It's weird. We found a few inactives to teach. Starting a lesson, they offer to say the prayer, they talk about their testimony, they participate. I think that the inactives here are members with testimonies, but they make one mistake and everybody makes a big deal about it so they completely fall away. It's sad. We would be able to start another branch by activating all the members in our branch. It's really cool to see them progress, though. Having someone ask for a white shirt so he could come to Church, having someone counting down the weeks until he can take the sacrament again.

I gave my first haircut today. Nobody has made a comment yet on how bad it is, so I guess it could be worse. But sorry anyway, Elder Terry.

Interesting story of the week: We were eating dinner with members/investigators and the conversation carried on to weird things we've eaten on the mission so far. One of them started talking about how he stole the dog of his neighbor (the person at whose house we were eating), cooked it, and sold it with rice for ten bucks a plate. Depending on the size of the dog, they sell between fifty and a hundred plates. Wow. Who needs another job when you can make a thousand bucks off of a random dog in the road?

Sorry that the letter isn't that good this week. Hopefully next week will be more eventful. Things are good, the work progresses. I know that Jesus Christ sacrified his life for us. I know we can always turn to Him. I love Alma 7. It talks about all the things that the Atonement covers. Read it. I hope everyone turns to Christ when they have any sort of problem. I know  that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that he saw Heavenly Father and His son Jesus.

Have a good week everyone! Faaitoito!

Elder Lewis

Monday, February 8, 2016

Another Week in the Mission


There's not a whole lot to talk about this week, just another week in the mission. We taught twenty five lessons this past week. Not bad, considering we play sports for a few hours almost every day. Most of those lessons are with inactives. I would like to see more with investigators, but it's been really cool to see the progress with everyone. 

We have a few inactives that we teach who have really progressed and have seen what they have been missing with the gospel. It really strenghtens my testimony of the Gospel and God's plan for us. He loves us all and he really does have a plan for each of us individually. The choices we make determine our destiny, and I've seen how the bad ones turn a life into one of sorrow and regret, and the good ones bring happiness and peace.

With our investigators, we've talked a lot about baptism. Still no baptisms set up, but close. The two biggest things that prevent them are other family members and drugs. We have two investigators who know the church is true but due to parents not accepting, they haven't arrived there yet. We have another few investigators who need to obey the Word of Wisdom, but they too know that the church is true and have strong testimonies. 

One example is Mafatu*. It was my first lesson with him. We talked about baptism. At one point, Elder Terry said:
"The fist principle of the gospel is faith, and you have faith. The third one is baptism." Before he could continue, Mafatu asked:
"What do I need to get there?" We talked about repentance, and he's really sincere and trying hard to change his life. We tried to set up a date, but he doesn't want to until he's fully repented, although he did say he wants one of us to baptise him, and he's pretty excited.

We lost electricity this week. And to get the part to fix it, we had to wait for the next plane to come. That means limited showering water, no fan, no laundry. It was awesome for everyone when they saw the plane land and the electricity went back on.

Other than that, life is the same here. My testimony is growing, the spirit is helping, we continue to teach, people continue to progress. It's fun to have two new elders who can't speak or understand the language super well. We both have to rely on each other. 

I know that God lives. I know he created a plan for us and we all accepted it. I know that when we obey the commandments we are blessed. This week, we used President Monson's talk from last general conference "Keep the Commandments" a lot. It's such a simple message, yet that's what God askes of us. I have a testimony really strong on the subjest of repentance. People who try to stay away from that topic, DON'T. Repentance is there to help us, Not make us feel guilty. It sweeps away guilt. You can only find peace in this life with repentance. I've seen on my mission the results and blessings that people receive in following the Prophet, in repenting of their sins, in using the Atonement. We are all broken children of God who need to be healed. We all need to be forgiven. We all want to have Eternal Life after this life, and there's one way, and that's under Jesus Christ and his Atonement. I guess that's my little though this week. The Church is true, and never forget it!

Elder Lewis

Monday, February 1, 2016

Life in the Village

Week one at TAKAROA was awesome. First, some things that are different here than Tahiti. I get to shower with bucket and freezing water. Actually quite refreshing. There's no clean water here. Boats come every two weeks with supplies, but this last boat came after seven plus weeks, so you can't count on it. Once the stores run out, you're left to coconut water, juice/soda(for some reason they never seem to run out). Also, all the houses have big black buckets that collect rainwater and stores it for when you need it.

Everyone knows everyone here because it's so small. By day two, people were calling my name when I rode by, people I've never seen before. They're also super nice. Everyone makes sure you're well fed, more so than Tahiti. We had an investigator stop us on the road, and asked if we were hungry. She said she would drop us by some food. Fifteen minutes later, she came by with two big plates of burgers and fries, and two giant bottles of Fanta. Yes!

We also play sports almost everyday. Investigators come, inactives come, nonmembers come, the whole island comes. Here, we have a lot of inactive lessons. They don't replace the lessons we have with investigators, they just add on, so we have a lot of lessons each day.

I'm still trying to get to know the investigators here. It seems like all of them know the gospel is true and have strong testimonies, but little things are holding them back from getting baptized. We're continuing to work with them and help them progress. Oh, there's also another thing different here. Our investigators not only say prayers often in lessons, but volunteer themselves. That never happened on Tahiti! They pray, come to church, come to activities, listen and try to learn.

I love it here on TAKAROA. As I've taught, my own testimony has grown of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, The Plan of Salvation, our relationship with God. I know God has a plan for us, and that we all chose to follow it already. He's waiting for us to talk to him and give us advice. Jesus Christ really did make it possible to love with God again after this life, and that suffering wasn't at all easy. God loves us enough to have sent his only begotten son to die for us. These things are real, and we all need to act like they are

Okay, that's all for this week. Things are good here, and the work progresses. My goal is for everyone to feel the love of God, and I'm hoping to be part of that. The people here are some of the best children of God I know. Have a good week everyone, and stay strong!

Elder Lewis

First views of Takaroa

Fishing for sharks- sharking? Caught some fish on the way, got four nice sized sharks. Totally worth turning into a tomato.