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!!