Monday, April 25, 2016

"This is Really the Lord's Work."

Iaorana tatou!

This was a pretty successful week. We've been finding ways to better engage people and help them to really change their lives, and it's working! At church we saw an investigator who we never thought we would actually see there. That was cool. We're seeing people that, even though they're still far from baptism, are still improving their lives and understanding Gospel doctine and God's plan for them.

I had my first moment where I felt like I was doing normal missionary things. In French Polynesia, missionary work is way different than what I learned in the MTC. But one night, we went to visit a reference we got. His daughter has taken the lessons before, and we went and talked to him. He said he wasn't interested, but we got him to let us share a message. We asked if we could come back and he said he would talk to his wife and get back to us. He probably just said that to get us to leave, but you never know. Man, it's nice to do something different than teaching lesson after lesson each day. Especially with people who don't actually want to change.

We've actually been able to do service projects this week! It's always hard to do those with Tahitians. From moving an old car to doing coprah we've been able to help people here. It also has helped us better teach investigators. They trust you more. Doing one service project, random people in the neighborhood started to come and just help. By the end, instead of just three of us we had eight or nine who just helped. And when that was finished, they helped someone else on another one's project. 

We taught an inactif this week. He got mad at us for not coming one week (not really set lessons) so we've been coming more. In this last lesson, we asked him how he could persevere better. He gave answers like "Read the scriptures more" and "serve others." we were looking for things more like "stop smoking"  and "pay tithing." He then told us that he stopped all that bad stuff three months ago and started all that good stuff. He had talked to the branch president about getting the priesthood. He told us that all we could do to help him was keep coming back to teach him and his wife, that he really just needed more of the gospel in his life. Woah! that was unexpected. So it all started form when we found him a few months ago and taught him a little lesson that he changed his entire life around. Such a blessing to see that and to know that I helped a little bit in that process!

Biggest news of the week: Mahana*, the wife of the inactif I talked about last week, accepted the baptism! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and at the end we engaged her. Without hesitation she said yes. Due to some weird things that happened, we don't have a date yet, but hopefully this week we'll get that set up. It's really cool to see someone who acts on the spirit that was felt. A lot of people here don't act on the impressions that they receive, or don't even make the efforts to try to find out for themselves what is right.

Okay, I don't have my notes, so I missed a lot of stuff. Just know that the work is starting to pick up and we're getting closer with a lot of people. We have about four investigators with which we're talking about baptism. I'm grateful to be a part of this change in peoples' lives and help them to come unto Christ. It's such a blessing to be a servant of the Lord and help save souls. This is really the Lord's Work. This Church is really His Kingdom on the Earth. I love the Gospel and I'm so thankful for all the blessings that I have received thanks to its teachings. Most of all, I'm thankful for God's love for me in sending his only begotten son, and Jesus's love for me in doing His atoning sacrifice so I can return to my Heavenly Father and have eternal life. 

 Na reira, ua here au ia outou e ua mauruuru vau no teie 'ohipa! Until next week!

Elder Lewis

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How 'Bout We Gain a Testimony

Iaorana tatou!

This week we focused a lot on the testimonies of our investigators. It seems that all of them have gotten really confortable around us and aren't super sincere. They say things that they know we want to hear, and not things they actually believe. We engaged all of them to try to find their own testimonies and not rely on the testimonies of others. I never realized how important that was before my mission. If you haven't asked God if He's there, if Joseph Smith was called of God, if the Book of Mormon is true, or any other important questions, ask. Don't rely on what other people think or claim to know is true. All I know is that God can't lie, and He will answer our questions. 

Yeah, so the baptism of Moeava didn't pull through. We're still working on it, but so far her dad hasn't accepted. However, there is some good news: Moeava's sister is in Tahiti right now (to have a baby) and she was given a Book of Mormon. She's read it through and is on her second time though. She want's to get baptized, and from what we can gather, her dad will be a lot more willing to accept her baptism, because she's older among other things. We're hoping that in accepting the sister's baptism when she comes back, he will be more willing to accept that of Moeava. 

About a month ago, we found an inactif and taught him a lesson. He expressed his testimony and gave a prayer. He said that he wanted to return to the church, but also with his wife (pregnant and in Tahiti), a nonmember. So finally she came back with her new baby this week and we taught her the Restoration. We found out that she and her husband had talked about marriage in the temple and she wanted to do that, they had read the Book of Mormon (although it's been a while) and then they told us that they wanted us to bless their baby in church- you know the one where you give it a name? Yeah, that was weird. It never crossed my mind that someone other than the father would do it. Anyway, in the next couple of weeks we'll do that. It's really cool to see that desire for an eternal family and to come to Christ. She has a testimony all ready and the desire to return with God. 

Adrien, the inactive that we teach who stopped smoking cigarettes completely in two weeks, told us that he had talked with his wife. They both want to get married in the temple, and are ready to stop the bad things that they're doing to get it. That's another thing. Temple marriage, eternal families, etc. are huge blessings and it's cool to see these people use that as a motivation to change and become better.

Good news with Maite! She's gaining a testimony. This last lesson was on the Plan of Salvation. She brought it off topic a few times though to ask baptism scenario questions like "Do I have to get married in order to get baptized?" or "          ". She's really searching for the truth and a testimony. Super sincere, and that's what matters most.

We taught Akamai, our Tahitian papi, the other day. The thing was DMB, who is usually there, didn't come, so we were left with this mostly Tahitian speaking guy to ourselves. What an opportunity to practice Tahitian! As soon as we said the prayer he went off talking about this bible video he saw about Moses parting the Red Sea. He seemed just amazed at all of it. Then he asked if Noah, Abraham, and Moses were the same person. Then he kept talking, and finally I had enough time to start. So in Tahitian I explained what we were going to talk about and asked him a question. Bad mistake. He went off again, this time in just Tahitian. That's where you hope what he said was doctrine and you nod your head and agree. Then he started talking about how " Le soleil, ça c'est Dieu. Et le seigneur, il est l'etoile." He pointed, like he does in every lesson, the Southern Cross, and explained how it moves across the sky in the night. At that point I had to ask him where the Holy Ghost was. He thought for a moment, and then pointed to the cross in the stars again. As you can see, some investigators progress different from others.

It was also pretty good when my comp kept doing double or nothing in basketball so he didn't have to do pushups when he lost. Bad idea. He's stuck doing 160 pushups now, haha.

Okay, yeah, that's it for this week. Faaitoito tatou e mahana maitai ia outou. 

Elder Lewis

Celebrating Elder Terry's and Matahi's birthdays(even though Elder Terry's was in January)

Some pics from Joie's Wedding

La Chapelle

Teaching PME Plan du Salut

Going to the Other Side for lunch. Way more beautiful than over here.

More other side pics. 
A wealthy, older couple retired here and built like five of these buildings themselves in seven months.  This is their kitchen.  It's paradise.  And when I come back with my wife, we have permission to stay there.

First fresh fig I've ever eaten. Really good.

The village from afar
Ready to go fishing

 Awkward pics. None of those were meant to be awkward

At a soirée couple talent show that we were invited to

Monday, April 11, 2016

"I don't think I ever saw so much joy on his face as when he discovered PB&J for the first time."


I'm not sure why, but again this week wasn't like what the work normally is in Takaroa. We went from having twenty five lessons a week to a mere ten or twelve. That's okay, though, because a bunch of our investigators just came back from Tahiti. Do you want the results of the tournament? We took eighth place overall for futsal. Not bad. Anyway, Uira came back so we will be able to start talking about baptism. A few others that we haven't seen for a few weeks also came back, so there will be more news (hopefully) about them. 

Joie* got married this week! That was one of the only problems holding her back from baptism really, but we've found out there are a few other problems, like she suddenly doesn't have a testimony in the Book of Mormon (she's still taking the lessons though). She did say that if her husband repents (inactive) she'll get baptized. There are always a few things to straighten up.

I just remembered a story from last week.In between sessions of General Conference, we were eating sandwiches with a member. Elder Terry and I had PB&J. The member asked if he could try ours. He thought it was amazing! He kept opening up the sandwich to check what was inside. "C'est que skippy et confitures! Magnifique!" Yes, it is. I don't think I ever saw so much joy on his face when he discovered PB&J for the first time. He ended up eating most of Elder Terry's sandwich.

Something my companion and I have found out is how Satan attacks these days. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but I'mm put it in anyway. He says things like "Religion doesn't matter. as long as Christ is in your heart, you'll be saved." We've seen that a lot, and it's not true. There is one way, and that is Jesus Christ and baptism.

Anyway, I have to go know, I've run out of time. Sorry for the lame short letter, it will be better next time.

Elder Lewis

I understand what people say to me, but I often don't quite process what language it's in. So I respond, maybe in French, maybe in English. Also, I cannot speak a sentence in just one language. I often try to tell my companion something but I can't because three words in, I use a french word, then go in french for a few more words and it switches back. Any time I use a word like "et" or "avec" or something like that I switch into French. I also can't say words like "response" or "answer", it just comes out "reponse." It's tough sometimes. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Feasting on the Good Word of God

Man, this week was nothing compared to last week. I don't know what it was, but it seemed the whole mission struggled. But that's just part of the mission, I guess. We had tons of lessons cancelled. We visited seven references which all rejected the lessons, my bike broke multiple times which used up time to repair.

A good thing that happened was that with the lessons that we did have, they went well. I noticed that some of our investigators really got engaged. Maite, an investigator who is really quiet and doesn't like to do engagements opened up all of a sudden. She talked a lot, learned a lot of new things, and ended in a sincere prayer. It's cool to see investigators who aren't really engaged suddenly make the efforts and become one of your best progressing investigators.

Another investigator who did the same thing was Nunui. He and his girlfriend don't understand a lot of doctrine and usually keep quiet. Very quiet. They also opened up and were able to learn God's plan for them and the significance of this life. It's again so cool to see people enlightened by the Gospel and turn to Christ more and more.

I'd like to say General Conference was great this time, but I honestly didn't get a whole lot out of it.We woke up at 4:30 Saturday and Sunday to ride up to the other chapel and watch Conference. Between being super tired and listening to translations (with an french accent, not one I'm used to) I didn't get a lot out. Then for Priesthood session it was in Tahitian. We didn't even try to understand that. I could pick out random words like "mother" or "twelve". Another thing is when you can't understand very well, you tend to notice how the person translates and the mistakes they make, etc. Despite all that, I enjoyed the talks of Elders Holland and Hales especially, although I'm sure I missed out on a lot of good stuff.

We couldn't miss up the opportunity to do poisson d'Avril. Elder Terry and I thought about a prank to pull throughout the day. The best Idea we could come up with was to catch a chicken and stick it in the freezer of the other elders. So we grabbed a table cloth as our weapon and set to work. Honestly, it was pretty lucky tht we caught one. We stuffed it in a box, rode up and set up the surprise for them when they came back from dinner! I've got pictures. 

Other than that, no big news. Hopefully the work will progress this next week. I just remembered the story of Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants. He's in Liberty Jail in hard times. It's cold, there's no good food or water, the Saints are struggling. Joseph asks why it's so difficult. He gets a response telling him to have peace. He talks about Job, and that hardships are for our experience. I love Section 122:8. Verse 7 describes a lot of trials that could happen. Verse 8 says: The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

I think this scripture is saying that trials are a part of life. Jesus suffered for all of our trials in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. He knows exactly what we're going through, and because he suffered the same thing, and overcame it, we can turn to Him during our trials to be healed. The Atonement works miracles. If we think that we shouldn't have trials on our lives, we're saying that we are greater thanour Savior. We need trials, that's part of God's Plan. I'm grateful for hard days, days without success, days where I feel like I messed up, or didn't reach my potential. I love the healing power that I've felt through Jesus Christ and His Atonement. I hope we can all better use His Sacrifice.

I guess that's my little message for the week. I love the Gospel! I love the mission! I love Jesus and His sacrifices for me! The message of the Gospel saves lives! I know it's true!

Elder Lewis

The front doors of the Chapel

 Fish and Octopus

One chicken, one note, all set for when they get home.