Monday, June 27, 2016

A Crazy Week!


As you have probably seen from the last few emails, the work here has been really suffering. We've been losing investigators, no one is progressing. We did have some success like getting Moeava to pray for the first time. Yeah... We were going hard for her baptism a few months ago, then found out that she had never prayed in her life. So basically every lesson-two or three times a week-since then, we've been trying to get her to pray. It's been hard, but we finally got her to do it on Elder Terry's last lesson with her. 

Anyway, so because there hasn't been much work for either sector on Takaroa President Bize has made some changes. He took off two of the Elders and stuck me with Elder Nelson (the red head in all the pictures) to handle both branches here. We've already worked together before, so it won't be too hard to get adjusted. And then due to an emergency transfer Elder Terry left a week early for Takapoto, leaving three elders here. Then on Wednesday Elder Terry came back on his way to Tahiti so we got to see him again for ten minutes before the two elders left for good.

Also that day we set up a baptism. Kiaii*, an investigator from the other sector, who I've taught a few times before, came to the airport and told us. Here's how it happened:

We found a great way to set up baptismal dates. Tahitians are very hesitant to do that, even if they want to be baptized. They like specific, meaningful dates, like their mother's birthday, or Christmas, or the anniversary of their second cousin's death. So you give the ami a calendar of the next month. You have them pray over it and then point at the calendar with their eyes closed. Whatever date they point to is the one that they are meant to have for their baptism. So Kiaii did that and we set her date for the 18th of July. It's a start to my goal of having six baptisms before I leave Takaroa.

From that moment on, we saw more and more miracles. We found some new investigators. One is the beau-fils of an old investigator who got a blessing from us and asked for the lessons. 

We taught Aimee. With her she keeps saying that she doesn't want the lessons anymore and we tell her we will once she prays to know if the church is true. She still hasn't done that, so we keep coming back. And she loves talking to us, I don't know why she says to not come back. But she's developed the habit of coming to church each sunday. She asked for a book about Pres. Hunter's teachings in Tahitian so she could study for Relief Society. So all in all, I'm not entirely sure if it's going well with her.

Things are going really good with Nunui. His testimony has jumped a ton in the past few weeks. He always thanks us for doing lessons and helping him get married so he can keep the law of chastity or helping him to receive other blessings that he's gotten from more fully living the Gospel. It's crazy to think that this guy who didn't even believe in God six months ago now has a firm testimony in Him and wants to be baptized. Right now he just wants to make sure that he's prepared before he chooses a date, but we're pushing for his marriage date, August 4th.  He's so close!

Pierre*, an ami of the other elders also, is ready for baptism. He had stopped drinking and smoking cigarettes a year ago, and finally due to a fast he did a month ago, let go of marijuana also. Since he stopped that, he's progressed a lot! We tried the same thing to set up his baptism-praying with the Calendar. When we got back to him yesterday after church, He immediately started talking about his experience. He told us that he had prayed, even though he really didn't want to, but he hadn't used the Calendar. But when he prayed, he felt a huge warmth and knew that it was good. Then at church that day, some people had said things throughout the meeting that relieved him of some of his worries. Basically in the end, he said that he would be a member by next year. 

So while he was talking, I said a little prayer, asking for the words to say in order to fix a date right then, because I knew it wasn't going to be easy now, he had just rejected choosing a date. Right then, Elder Nelson said "so, what do you think of the 24th of July for your baptism?" Pierre agreed right then without hesitation. Woah! After the lesson, I mentioned the little prayer that I had given and how right after I said the prayer, he had engaged. E. Nelson said that right then, Pierre had paused from what he was saying and  he felt an urge to engage him. Woah! Miracles happen! I prayed for an opportunity, Pierre probably felt that he needed to stop talking briefly, and E. Nelson felt that he should engage. Thanks to us all acting on the spirit, we got another baptism fixed. 

It reminds me a little of the story of Nephi when he's tied in cords by his brothers who will leave him to die. He prays so that he can have the strength to burst the cords. And when he prays, the cords were just loosed from around his wrists. Sometimes we ask for bigger blessings, bigger miracles, but God know's what we need, and sometimes that's the smaller blessing. In this case I asked for fancy words, but all we needed was the spirit and a simple engagement.

Another Ami, Louis*, from branche 2 also, is ready for baptism. He told us about his LdM reading and his notes. He said that he had read it all in a month, then thought for a second, and then said it was more like eight days ago that he started. And his notes were really good, too. Anyway, his wife, who is inactive and converted Catholic like her husband, doesn't want him to get baptized. It's really only her that's preventing his baptism, so we're working on that. Also, he basically said that he only wants Pres. Bize to baptize him. And what chance! Prs Bize is coming in about a week to oversee the youth Conference here. So who knows...

We got quite a few references this week. We talked to Moeava for ten minutes and got a million and five references from her. We'll be looking into those. It's weird, but we get more references out of investigators than members.

We taught Akamai. Comme d'hab he talked about nonsense and we spent a total of about forty seconds talking about our lesson. And we were there for an hour and a half. And he made us eat leaves. He was talking about plants and there medicinal uses and next thing we know he's got a leaf that he's chewing in his mouth, and offering us some. Oh, man... He did give us some references, though, so not entirely bad.

We also just went to a baptism (not convert) where I was able to confirm him a member and give him the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Super cool feeling. A nice way to end the week.

Okay, I'm pretty sure that I missed a ton of stuff, and I don't know if this is very understandable, but we've had a really successful week, and things are looking good here. It's been crazy, and we've been scrambling every day to figure out how things are going to work here, but it seems to be working out.The church is true!!

Elder Lewis

Parting pics with Elder Terry. I do have conjunctivitis in these pictures

Some pictures of the house (now that I don't live there anymore)

Saying bye to Elder Clements after a week as a trio
The plane came from Takapoto so we saw Elder Terry again for a few minutes. This pic is assorted members and investigators. In between me and Elder Clements is Pierre.
The four missionaries and Kiaii
Pics from the highest point on the island-la chapelle mormon. In the last photo you can see part of Takapoto far off in the distance

Monday, June 13, 2016

No E-mail

There's no big email from Elder Lewis this week but I thought I'd fill in the gap by posting a few things he sent to his mother.

In regards to getting sand in his shoes:  Everyday, multiple times. And it's annoying with my sandals because they are ridged on the edges, so sand can't just fall through the cracks. I have to turn my shoe upside down. Fiu!

His favorite Tahitian food:  Probably sashimi. I guess that's not actually Tahitian food, but they eat it all the time. Maybe poulet citron? breaded chicken with a lemon sauce and rice. Anything with fish is good too.

His favorite missionary teaching experience:  I can't really think of a certain one from all my mission, I'll have to think about that one. But there have been a few times where my companion and I have shared testimonies using personal experiences and the spirit comes in strong, then we testify of God's love for that person and you can see them gain understanding and knowledge, remembering things they knew at one point before they were born. That's really cool to see.

In regards to coconut water:  With the coco water, it's disgusting at first, but you just gotta keep drinking it. At one point, it will become the most delicious taste!  After like twenty, thirty times, it suddenly tastes amazing. Yeah, I hit that point a few months ago. I just couldn't drink it at first.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's Only Through Christ That We Can Be Saved

Iaorana tatou!

The work is still struggling here a bit but it's not entirely bad.  We've spent a lot of time finding people true desires- to stop smoking, to get baptised, etc. Sadly, there are some that openly will say that they want to be better, that they want to change, but inside they don't really want that. We have seen some good progress though!

Things are going better with Beau. We've talked a lot about prayer and persevering in the gospel and the blessings we can recieve. We've been trying to get him to pray, and we finally did! Each time he says that he's not ready, but he'll try to do it on his own. Then he did it! He warned us that it wouldn't be long, but he'd try. than he gave a short but pretty meaningful prayer. After, he admitted that he had been thinking all day about what he would say. haha dedication right there!  

At church this week we had some unexpected investigators. We had six show up, probably the most I've seen at Takaroa, and five were ones that never come. Aimee, her grandson, Anne (Moeava's sister, we still haven't managed to start lessons with her though), Mahana. Let's hope these experiences will strengthen their desires to get baptised.

Honestly, not many other exciting things have happened this week, we're just continuing the work.  The weather's cooling down, July fetes are going to start in the next few weeks, and around then the island will come alive. 

Sorry there's not much  this week, maybe next time. Have a good week everybody. Remember that the church is true and that it's only through Christ that we can be saved.

Elder Lewis

They cut a bunch of trees down to put in houses, so we took the chance to get coeur de cocotier. It's pretty good in salads

And we drank coco 
And ate some

Made some onion rings and burgers (if you can really call it that)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pressing Forward in Faith

Hey everyone! We're starting to pick up the work again over here. We've seen lots of blessings this week.

There has been lots of improvement with Nunui. He works more now and is not always there for the lessons, so our progress has been slow with him recently. But this week we found him again. We taught him and his girlfriend about the temple. They've chosen the fourth of august for their marriage. It's not for sure going to happen then, but that's the plan. They don't want help from the church or anything. At the end of that lesson, Nunui asked Elder Terry if he could borrow his sneakers for futsal. Elder Terry had been planning on giving them to him, so he did right then. I've never seen a look of more joy on his face when he found out he would be getting free nikes! Now he's best friends with Elder Terry, which is pretty good for the missionary work.

A few days later we taught them again, this time about the word of wisdom. Basically anyone who isn't an active member of the church smokes and drinks, so we decided to get that out of the way early to help him really prepare for his baptism. We talked for twenty minutes and by then he gave a huge nod and a loud yes! that he would keep the follow the word of wisdom. Woah! That's the first time on my mission that someone has agreed to do that! What a blessing! He's really ready, it's just a matter of time, and we're trying to set up his baptism date for the same day as his marriage.

Jean*, our member integrator for Beau, and also an inactif, has made a lot of progress. He was touched by a lesson we gave about a month ago and from that moment on stopped smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol. Paka was a little harder but two weeks later he quit that also and went and talked to president.  We're super excited for him! He's working on getting the priesthood soon.

We also taught Adrien, another inactif, about faith and the things that God can do through our faith. A while ago he stopped smoking cigarettes completely, but stopping paka is really hard for him. It was cool to see his understanding grow as we taught and he gained an even stronger desire to stop, and to show God that he has faith in him, to show god his works so that God will give him help. I wish all of us had that mentality all the time.

Saturday is normally our best day with about nine lessons planned. They're starting to fall apart. We're losing some investigators, like Mahana and Mafatu, but this Saturday ended up well. We had a list that DMB gave us of the nonmembers of the island, so we had him give us directions to some of them. He gave us seven references, and five worked out. Not bad!

The first was Sasa'e and her sister. They're Catholics who went to an open house for the church and are interested. They were really excited to do the lessons. Then, Sasa'e asked me if I could speak Tahitian. She asked me that because her father (who happens to be Akamai's brother) only speaks Tahitan. She said that he had talked with Akamai who had talked about some of the lessons we had done with him. That perked his curiosity and he wants to learn more. I'm amazed because the person who did the missionary work here was Akamai, the same Akamai with whom we spent an entire lesson the other week explaining that God isn't the Sun. But hey, no complaints.

The next person we found was Lael*. We actually shared a message one time with him, but he didn't know if he was interseted yet. This time he gladly set up a date and let us help him with his coprah. He's Aimee's son-in-law, by the way. The fifth was Maaravi, who happens to be Sasa'e's husband. He wasn't as willing as the others, but he accepted anyway. We did coprah with him, too.

It's so cool to see God work miracles here on this little island. He's leading us to make a difference here, and I'm so grateful to have him on my side. Hopefully as time goes by these people who have desires to do good will finally make the covenants with God that will allow them to enter the Celestial Kingdom.

That's it for this week! E parau mau te Ekalesia!

Elder Lewis

Boat photos

Plenty of boat pictures

I think it's working!

They just love having the elders perform

pork cooked underground, maa Tahiti

coco crab


One of the monthly boats