Monday, March 28, 2016

Blessings Are Pouring Down

It's crazy how much success we've been having the past few weeks, and especially this week. A lot of it is thanks to DMB [Branch Mission Leader], too. We'll contact someone and ask if they want to take the lessons. They will say no. Then we come back with DMB and he will talk to them in Tahitian for five minutes and we will set up a date for lessons. Magic, priesthood, I don't know, but he's got some special power! We got five new investigators this week, and potentially six on the way.

We had a lot of lessons like normal, pushing for marriage with one couple, Making sure our investigators know the difference between our church and the Sanitos (RLDS), trying to help Purotu with the problems she's still struggling with. Thomas*, a recent convert (as of a few days before I came here) has given us three references, all of which are our investigators. We're teaching his sister and her husband right now. Their religion seems to consist of being healed from cancer and a tumor. That's good, but not everything you need. They also think they know a lot about religion, but it takes a lot to explain some simple facts (and then they go on for the fourth time about being healed from a tumor). We've got some work to do there, but it will be good. I've also realized that with a lot of religions they believe in and know a lot about the death of Christ, but aren't familiar with his Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane or his Resurrection. This couple was really confused when we talked about how Jesus bled while praying in the Garden. To them, he quickly prayed before being crucified. It's sad that a lot of people don't know about one of the greatest acts, if not THE greatest act, that has happened on this earth. I'm glad we can bring this knowledge to people here. What would we do without the knowledge of the Atonement?

Now for some of the really good stuff. Actually, a lot of it happened while I was on splits in the other sector. They contacted two people to start lessons with. Marc*, who we taught, he agreed and believed everything we said, and accepted a Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants that DMB pulled out of his bag. He left for Tahiti a few days later, so we'll continue the lessons with him when he gets back. Fainga*, who is catholic. The other elders had found him and he declined the lessons, but when DMB talked to him, he accepted. We taught him and he believed everything, too. Elder Terry asked him to pray right then to know if our message was true. And he did. Afterwards he said that he felt a little uncomfortable doing it then-he normally prays at night. He didn't get an answer, but said he would pray that night. He also said he would come to church this Sunday (he didn't make it, but next time).

They also taught Maite*, one of our new investigators. Her daughter-in-law was there and said she would get her to come to church. The daughter-in-law has a nonmember husband who we will try to start teaching. So that will make Maite, her eight-year-old son, her other son, and her husband that we can teach.

The biggest thing that happened this week (and I'm mad that I missed it) was that they visited the father of Moeava. Did I mention that he is the brother of DMB? So they talked in Tahitian for a while, then Matthieu*, the father, talked with Elder Terry for a while, joking around. Sweet!! They also asked him if he wanted to take the lessons and he said that he'll think about it. We'll try to keep talking to him and finally ask for permission so Moeava can get baptized. In our lesson with Moeava, we finished up going through the baptismal interview questions and talked about baptism. She said she was ready. Then we asked her that if her dad agreed to her baptism today, when would she want to get baptized. She immediately said "tomorrow!"

It's really cool to see her progress. She has definitely gained a testimony and strengthened her faith. Also, thanks everyone for the prayers and fasting. That definitely helped. So we ended up setting up her baptism for the 14th of April, if her dad lets her. Everyone, miracles work!!

Talking with Adrien*, an inactive that we teach, he said that he went down from thirty cigarettes a day to twenty. We engaged for him to go down to ten this week. He said no, that he was ready to give it all up and repent, and that by next time he will have stopped smoking completely. Right now, his wife isn't so ready to change, and Adrien is afraid to fall back in because of her. We'll keep working with them.

Also, we did our presentation thing for the Sanitos. They threw an Easter Thing, where all the religions here sang some Easter songs. Most of it was typical Tahitian singing: Practically yelling in Tahitian to a sort of jazzy synthesizer music. We sang "Ce Matin-là", "Merveilleux l'Amour", and "Je sais qu'Il vit, mon Rédempteur" where we (the elders) sang the first verse, then the rest came in after that. I'll tell you, the spirit was strong. It was kind of weird though. They had a cross up front, and they kept on showing images of crosses. It seems that even with the holiday celebrating His Resurrection, people are still focused on His death. I know that my redeemer lives, and that He really did redeem me from my sins. I'm so grateful for his sacrifice that made it possible for me to return to live with Him and my Father in Heaven.

A few fun things: Teaching someone who doesn't remember lessons very well and is just overall an odd person. We taught prayer, because every prayer he gives is exactly the same, and he doesn't know the difference between Heavenly Father and Jesus (even after giving an hour long lesson just on that). At the end, we engaged him to pray, but sincerely, not saying the same stuff he normally says. In the prayer, I heard two words that he changed. Other than that, he paused for three seconds, then said another pre-prepared sentence. Our next lesson, you could tell he remembered the last time because again he paused a little in between saying the same prayer as normal.
And having a dinner appointment at a six-year-old's birthday party. Good job parents, throw in the two in one.

Yeah, a lot happened this week. It was good. Hopefully the success continues. I have a strong testimony in God's plan for us. We lived with him as spirits before this earth, and we rejoiced and gladly agreed when he told us we could come to Earth to gain a body and become like  Him. He loves us. He's given us lot's of things because he loves us:families, scriptures, prophets to guide us, and most importantly, his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the gift of the Atonement which allows me to overcome sin and become perfect like my Father. I'm also grateful for His death, an more importantly resurrection, which allows me to overcome death so I can become perfect, just like my Father. I know that what we do know determines our destinies and we can find true happiness though the Gospel.

Until next time!

Elder Lewis

Here, we have a "washing machine." It has the opening on the top. We fill it up with water from our shower bucket, put in detergent, and dump in clothes in. Then it will slowly turn back and forth for fifteen minutes and "wash" our clothes. Then in the dryer, which is surprisingly good. It spins the clothes fast, but you have to do it right or it will start banging and making loud noises and NOT dry the clothes. But by the end, they're only slightly damp, and hanging them up for a while will completely dry them. 

Not a ton of rain, actually pretty sunny lately. Not any more humid than normal from what I can tell. There are a few cars, but gas is expensive. There are a lot of motorcycles and scooters, though. I can go from one end of the sector to the other riding in the middle of the street and not worry about getting hit. Usually we'll stay in the village, the three roads close together, and I ride for about thirty seconds in between lessons. Then, maybe once or twice a day, we'll cross the bridge and ride another five or ten minutes. Actually, we just started lessons with four different people who all live at the end of our sector, so that's like a fifteen minute ride. If you look at a map or something, our sector is from the village to the airport. The rest of the island is the other sector, so they will occasionally take a boat across the lagoon, but not us.

Our house is probably twenty to twenty five minutes from the other elders who live right next to the chapel "en haut." Normally they come to us for things, but occasionally we'll come to them. I'm not sure exactly, but I think the village is on the east, slightly northern part of the island. We live right behind the bank, infermerie (I don't know what that is in Wnglish) and the mairie (also don't know what to call that). Right in the "center" of the village.

You know pretty much everyone, if not by name than at least by face. At some point though, you'll see a car coming by with four or five people, and you wave, but realize that you don't know any of them. And it's almost like a disturbed feeling- I don't know ANY of them!? Also, the kids have a two week break from school (on another island) so they came back, and suddenly the island is flooded with a bunch of teenagers that I don't know. That's weird too.
At the Sanito thing

Choir-mostly sanito, but with some other religions too. We have four investigators here, and the other elders have at least two



Monday, March 21, 2016

The Fruits of Repentance and Getting Ready for Baptism


We taught Purotu once again. We're still pushing for baptism each lesson, and with our lesson on the Atonement, I snuck in Moroni 8:25. Hopefully that will help her as she progresses towards baptism. It's always really cool to see how people seem to change when they really understand the Atonement. They go "Ohhh, I didn't know that", or "That makes sense now". The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most important moment in history on this earth, and It's a good thing (at least in my opinion) if everyone knows "to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

Here's a story: When we were taking over both sectors in Takaroa we taught Elise*. Elise thinks she's our mom. She tries to do or laundry, buys us food and supplies all the time, feeds us several times a month. And she's an investigator. We mentioned to her during this lesson that we would start the lessons with Doug*, an inactive. She went nuts, saying that this young man had nothing good in him, that he did lots of bad stuff including stealing  all the time, and that he would never change. Then She promised us that if we could get him to repent, she would get baptized. You can see that she doesn't really know how it works exactly.

Anyway, we finally taught him, and he was definitely in the state of repentance. He's realized some of the mistakes he's made and is ready to change. Also, when his girlfriend (the sister of Moeava) comes back here from Tahiti, she'll start taking the lessons. Apparently Doug made sure she brought a Book of Mormon with her in Tahiti and she reads it every day. So I guess that makes two potential baptisms-Anne, his girlfriend; and Joana. Haha No, I think it will be more work than that, but we'll get there.

One of the coolest experiences this week was with Luc. He's an inactive that we just decided we should visit. We had never done a lesson with him, but we started. When we set up a lesson he seemed really depressed, and we tried to help him, although there was nothing really that we could do. Then for the lesson, he opened up. He told us about the mistakes he had made and how he had fallen. We read Alma 36, and after reading verse 16, he said that that was how he felt. He was ready to change, too. I've never seen someone who has felt so much Godly remorse for the mistakes they have made and have been so ready to repent. He's going to talk to the branch president now. Repentance is real! Use it! It's so cool to see that change in people.

We taught Mafatu, maybe for the last time before he leaves for his Tournament. We went through the baptismal questions, and he's just about ready to get baptized. When he comes back from the tournament, we'll talk about baptism and set up a date.

We taught Akamai*, our new Tahitian-speaking investigator. He kind of went off on a tangent, saying the same stories as last time, like how there's a cross in the stars and that's where the Lord is. He even came by that night to show us the cross. We still don't actually see one, but we'll keep looking. He was pretty excited about that one.

We're starting to practice songs for Easter. The Sanitos are throwing a party thing with a bunch of religions involved and the four missionaries are doing a quartet for one of our songs. That's going to be fun!

Companion is great! I don't know what else to say about that. We work together, we work well. We live in a house. It's way bigger than I'd like.  It's almost the size of our main level at home, but for two missionaries, and it just gets messy. It actually used to be a store.  The downside is that there is still a bunch of store stuff filling the house. We spent ten hours one p-day cleaning it out. Other than that, it's not too bad. We don't have a fridge, just a freezer, and no gas for our stove, so the only cooking we do is with a microwave. I can send pictures, but it's not that interesting. We do have banana trees, a papaya tree, and a coconut tree. No papaya fruit on the tree, barely any bananas that are no where close to being ripe, so I guess we eat coco sometimes, but that's about it. The ocean water is warm, definitely warm. And I love Takaroa a lot more than Tahiti. I miss clean water, greenery and stores at Tahiti, but if I could I would stay here (or at least on any island) for my whole mission.

That's all for this week. The work keeps moving on. It's so cool to be part of helping these people come unto Christ. à prochain!

Elder Lewis

We rode by and saw a french military boat dock. We spent the next few minutes making french jokes. Do you see Napoleon Bonaparte?

District Meeting

Nice hat, isn't it?


Monday, March 14, 2016

I te Tahi Hepetoma Maitai

Iaroana tatou!

Ua haamaitaihia maua teie hepetoma! Ua maua i paraiiho Te Atua i te mau mahana atoa. E ere faamana'o ore ona ia maua. We've been blessed this week! God is with us every day. He never forgets us. We've seen some good things happen here this week, and that's not thanks to us.

First, some updates:

We still haven't talked to the father of Moeava, and it doesn't look like it's going to happen soon. Some people lack faith, and don't think it's a good idea. Also, there are some more things that we need to do to help him be more willing to accept. Faaitoito ia maua! Thanks for all the prayers and help with her!

Purotu still hasn't prayed to know her baptismal date. We're still trying to figure what's holding her back. Meanwhile, we had a lesson with her this week. We talked about Eternal Life, and the road it takes to achieve it (see 2 Nephi 31). We  talked a lot about God's plan for her, the happiness she'll receive after this life and other blessings, and our purpose as missionaries to help her receive Eternal Life. The Spirit was strong, the only one who really taught in the lesson. We're just hoping she'll act on that.

Okay, and now for some good stuff that happened this week:

We got three references. One was for this old man who speaks almost only Tahitian. We went with DMB who talked with him for about seven seconds in Tahitian and we set up a lesson with him. I'll talk about him later. We also got a reference for a woman and her husband. We set up a lesson with her. When we came by, her husband wasn't there, but her eight year old son was there and seemed really interested in the lesson (mostly the pictures, but he also gave some input). Aimee*, the wife and mother, is quiet, and isn't familiar with religious stuff. Her son, onthe other hand, knows quite a bit, and he answered some harder questions. Definitely some potential there.

Two nights later, we hade a dinner appointment with a member who said he invited a nonmember couple. We would be able to give a quick lesson, gain two new investigators, and eat. That night, the guest came in (her husband couldn't make it) and guess who it is? Aimee! So we gave another little lesson. What are the chances? We still haven't taught her husband, but hopefully this week we can.

This week we were able to participate (and by participate, I mean give entirely) a lesson-soirée thing for the Priesthood. We watched some films and talked about them. It was really good. I think everyone left edified. Also, probably about a fourth of the people there are people we teach, members or investigators. Sweet!

One day this week, Elder Terry got super sick. We ended up staying in most of the day. C'est dommage because we had a lot of good stuff planned. The thing was that when he got sick, he started having hallucinations. The whole day. I ended up taking care of a sick guy trying to get me to massage his calves and convinced coke would make him feel better. That's an experience I won't quickly forget. At the end of the day, We managed to get in a lesson. I went on splits with Elder Nelson and the two of us along with DMB went to visit this Tahitian speaking reference. It started out all right. I spoke slowly in french, speaking tahitian when I could, and when this Tahitian couldn't understand, DMB would translate. The problem is that once a tahitian starts talking in tahitian, they generally won't switch back. I was left to rely on the few french words thrown in there and the few tahitian words I know. I kind of got the idea of what he was talking about. The big idea is that he feels really close to God. Everytime he goes fishing, he prays for protection from sharks, etc and he loves talking about the gospel. He's also catholic. I think we could make a lot of progress with him, but I don't know how much we can do in just french. Time to start studying! That's also the second time I've taught an investigator in tahitian so far on my mission.

Also, do you remember the story about the mami obsessed with finding the five elders who proposed to her? We were eating at their house this week when we get a call from an ancient elder who's trying to come back. Somehow he got our number and tried to get us to help him find a place to stay. Anyway, he called and mami said "Ask him who his branch president was!" So we asked, and sure enough, it was the branch president from some elder who proposed to her. You wouldn't believe how excited she got. Finally we got the name of the elder, and he was the companion of one who proposed to this little mami at whose house we were eating that night. What are the chances?! That's another thing I'm not going to forget.

Things are good here, and the work always progresses. God lives and loves us! He's always watching out for us.

Elder Lewis

Monday, March 7, 2016

Almost There...

The Forecast for Takaroa is hot and sunny with a high probability of missionary work. I'ts actually really weird. One day, in the middle of that stormy weather, we were talking with this guy who said that the weather would be fine the next day. We didn't believe him, but sure enough the next day there wasn't a dark cloud in the sky, the water level was back to normal, no more wind. Weather is weird.

This week our amount of lessons suffered and we only saw a few investigators, but with what we did have, it was really good. We taught a lesson to Purotu. Like from the beginning, she's had a testimony. We taught her about the Book of Mormon. She mentioned stories of receiving an answer to questions, like recieving the answer to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, of the Missionaries, of this religion. The answer was yes every time. 

Me: On peut voir que tu a eu beaucoup de bénédictions grâce a l’Évangile. Est-ce que tu veux tout les bénédic-
Purotu: Je sais que tu veux que je me fasse baptisé. Je ne sais pas...
Me: Maintenant Je veux que tu prie pour savoir le date pour ton baptême. Vas-tu le faire?
Purotu: Non.
Me: Pourquoi? 
Purotu: Parce que je sais que c'est vite.

Well, we encouraged her more to pray. She knows she needs to, it's just up to her.

We also taught Mafatu, where we encouraged him to stop smoking from that moment on. That's all he has left to do, stop smoking, only a few a day. But now he has real motivation: He's part of Takaroa's futsal team that's going to perform on tv at Tahiti in a few weeks and he wants to do his best for that. So he agreed to stop. Yes!

We also taught Nunui*, one of our investigators that we haven't seen for a few weeks. It was a really good lesson, ending in him accepting our invitation to start preparing for his baptism. Hopefully we'll see him more and help him to progress.

We've gotten a bunch of references or at least names of nonmembers on the island, so the work should start to pick up soon even more.

This Sunday We had District Conference and President Bizet came! It was super good. He's going to do a soirée familiale tonight, too, and all of our investigators are going to that. It was not good when in our meeting for the leaders, President asked me a question that I didn't hear, ending with him telling me I should be able to speak better french than I do and that I'm way behind everyone. Oh well. There's something to work on. Everything was good today, however. Elder Terry and I ran into him and ended up throwing pick-axes into trees with him.

Some things I realized: I've had crêpes about two meals a day for the last three days. I'm getting fat. Also, my english is getting terrible. I hope that's a good sign, that I'm doing well with french, but I don't know.

I can't remember if there's anything else important that I'm missing, so if that's the case, I'll get it to you next week. For now, faaitoito. The church is true!

Elder Lewis

 Elder Lewis, Elder Terry, Tepeva (soon Elder Temahaga) ElderClements (he baptized Rava. I replaced him in Temarua), Elder Nelson

 Kendama-ing and futsal-ing