Monday, August 25, 2014

Elder and Sister Lenhard - August 24, 2014

Truly, Milwaukee is a little hidden gem in the world. When we received the letter for our assignment, we looked at each other and wondered what in the world were we getting ourselves into by going to Wisconsin. We had lots of people who suddenly had lived there, knew someone from there, had visited there, etc. It was described in many ways, but the word “cold” came up a lot. That did not make us feel very secure about our assignment since we had indicated we didn’t want to go anywhere “cold.”  We have yet to go through a winter here, but if you want perfect weather for the summer, please come and visit us. It will rain about 3 nights a week. When it doesn’t rain, we may still have cloudy skies on those 3 nights, but in the morning, when we wake up the sun is shining, a cool breeze is blowing, everything is dark green, and the world is alright. We love this weather!

Milwaukee itself touts its history. Downtown buildings with a European flavor are everywhere. This used to be the beer capital of the U.S., but many of the companies have moved away. However, it is evident this is a city that loves its alcohol. It makes us very grateful for the Word of Wisdom. We know that we don’t have to drink to have fun, and so we drink a lot of water (which by the way is really good in Milwaukee). So many neighborhoods that we drive through are beautiful. These people take pride in their homes. The majority of the homes downtown are several thousand sq. feet, two stories, lots of land around them. They believe in putting space between themselves. Elder Lenhard and I have remarked that we have never seen as many hardwoods as we see here. Most of the streets are lined with these giant trees. We can go to the zoo and never be out in the sun because of the trees.

One other thing we want to mention. The bus system here is great. Our missionaries actually spend a lot of time on the buses talking to those who will listen, and they have been very successful in the work. This past week we went to visit the Joan of Arc Chapel. Yes, it came from France and was built around the time she lived so it is dedicated to her memory. There is a charming woman who is the docent at the chapel on Mondays. She is the first non-Catholic who has been allowed to work in this capacity. In doing her family history, she found out that her gggggrandfather (not sure how many greats) actually signed the orders that condemned Joan to death. She is truly an historian, and we were mesmerized by her ability to tell the story of the chapel. It sits on Marquette University’s campus. We asked about her family history work and where she has it kept. She is the last in her line, and there is no one to continue it for her. We offered to help her get it online so that it would not be lost. What a blessing to get to know her.

We find the people here are so friendly. We have been told that Milwaukee has more Churches per sq. mile than any other place in the U.S. We believe it. It’s like Utah with our LDS Churches on every corner, but here on every corner there are church buildings that are huge and the architecture is something you see most often in books. They include Catholic Cathedrals and Basilicas, Lutheran, Sikh, Serb and other denomination buildings. We love to tour these buildings and most have times when it is possible to take a tour. Our time is somewhat limited, and we are having to get to them as we can, but we have had some beautiful experiences in visiting some of these places.

This area of the world is covered by the spirit of Elijah. We have never seen a group of people more into finding their family histories than here. As one of our responsibilities, we work with members and nonmembers to help them get started on their family histories or to help them continue the work they have already started and to do it by adding their trees to Family Search. As part of this, we get to attend several festivals here that involve genealogy work. This place is known as the City of Festivals. Every weekend in the summer, there is a festival somewhere. So far, we have worked at the Polish Fest , German Fest, and Irish Fest. We wish we had time to tell you of the education we have received by coming to know more of the histories of these people. It makes hunting their family members interesting. This month we will be participating in the Mexican Fiesta and Scottish Fest. Next month, it will be the Indian Fest and Scandia Fest. We work in a family history booth at each festival and help them get on the computer to find one of their relatives, or we give them information and encourage them to come visit us at a Family History Center at our church buildings.

In light of what we’ve written, this is our mission. We love the weather, the area, the people, and the assignments given to us by the Lord. What more can we say?  The Lord knew where we belonged for our benefit as well as the benefit of others.

One last note and we will do a better job of writing. Missions are allowed so many Books of Mormon over a certain amount of time (who knew?). In a month, this mission gave out over 700 copies of the book to people who said they would read it. That is amazing. We were over our quota and needed more books. Our Mission President had to call Salt Lake and ask for more. They said we are over our quota and couldn’t get more. President Cutler, we were told he said this, “but we are doing the work, and we need more.” Every missionary companionship was goaled to find someone every day to whom they could give a Book of Mormon and who would commit to reading it. The missionaries have had marvelous stories to tell about their experiences in achieving this goal. We are being spiritually fed and continue to love doing the Lord’s work. He is certainly filling our schedule and helping us to become more involved in different aspects of the work in this part of the vineyard. We love our mission. It is truly a great blessing.

Elder Zach Taylor - August 25, 2014

This week wasn´t THAT exciting, but I¨ll try to make it interesting.. This weekend we had stake conference! We went to the part on Saturday night which was for all those 12 and older and also to the meeting on Sunday. (of course ha). Saturday night it was in Ciudad del Este. The topic of the night was missionary work. I liked all the talks that were given. One guy told a story about how he had a friend when he was younger and he never got up the courage to tell him he was a member of the church or share the gospel with him. He always asked him questions like why didn´t he drink or smoke, or why he didn´t do other things that the rest of the people do. But he never felt brave enought to tell him that it was because he was a member. Years passed without seeing each other. They both got married and had their own families. One day the wife of the guy speaking told him she had a friend that she wanted to visit. So they went to the friends house and she asked them to wait a little because her husband hadn´t arrived from work yet. When her husband came, he was surprised to find that it was the same friend who he mentioned earlier. He said that his friend looked at him and asked him Why didn´t you tell me? You knew that families could be together forever all this time? Why didn´t you ever tell me what you knew? He said that that night changed his outlook on missionary work forever. That was probably my favorite talk of the night. The other good part was that I saw the Rolim family from my first area in Ciudad del Este! I was pretty happy to see them, as they were to see me. They took us home to Hernandarias afterward since there arent´any buses at that hour. It was good to see them. 
On Sunday we had the actual stake conference. This time we met in the center of Hernandarias, in a bigger chapel. The stake center is under construction right now and so they decided to have one meeting in another chapel in CDE, and transmit it over to Hernandarias.. but it didn´t end up working so we watched something from Salt Lake where Elder Bednar and a few other people were talking to the people of Paraguay. I don´t know if it was a recording of if it was actually happening but... it was good. Aracely (I found out that´s actually how you spell it) came! That was the most exciting part. She´s still learning a lot and tells us that she loves going to church every week. Woo!
I love being a missionary. Talk to you soon soon!
Elder Taylor

Elder Christian Tanner - Heads up, Mouths Open. We Can Flood This Land

t's definetly that time of year. Week after week nobody is home and our numbers struggle. Last year was the same thing. As I have said before, Sweden literally shuts down in the summers. Nobody is home. Nobody is working. Nobody has any time. Despite this time of year and the lack of lessons we are able to teach, my joy is full. I am doing the work of the Lord and there is no greater thing we can be doing in life.

Wednesday was a day of travel. We went to Göteborg for the Mission Tour. I was in the MTC last year making this Mission Tour the first and last Mission Tour I will recieve on my mission. We left in the afternoon and arrived in Göteborg about 9:30 on Wednesday night. About a 7 hour journey with delays. I was able to go back through Utby's area. It brought back so many memories from the short 8 weeks that I served there. It really is such a fantastic area. I am sad I was only there for a short time, but very happy I was able to serve there anyway. I spent the night with Elder Millsap and Elder Sweat. Elder Millsap was my first companion and trainer here in Sweden. He goes home in 3 months. Elder Sweat is the "greeny" that he is currently training. Thus in mission terms, Elder Millsap is my father and Elder Sweat is my brother. So it was fun to stay with my father and brother from Wednesday to Thursday. I thought I was going to stay in my old apartment, but ended up staying in the other Utby apartment.

Thursday was the day of the Mission Tour. We had a member of the Seventy there. His name is Elder Jose A. Teixeira. He taught us how to get more investigators. And he explained how to do it. And he took 4 hours to teach us, but I am just going to write a few lines. Basically that if we would sit down with all our current investigators, ask them who their friends, family, neighbors are that live near by. Then ask to pray for them. We pray for them, have the lesson, and then after the lesson ask them if we can meet the people that we prayed for. He said they would give us a name. If we did that to every investigator, our investigator pool doubles. If we then do that to our new investigators, it will triple. And thats what I learned. It doesn't sound complicated or even foolproof. In fact it sounds too simple to work. But he promised us that over the next few months that if we did that, we would be teaching our 20 plus lessons a week to just our investigators. Then he said: "If it doesn't work the first time, do it again! It will happen." So that was great and I am excited to try it. But what I really enjoyed and learned the most from was what President Beckstrand said. He talked about our missions and what we are doing here. He started by reading A of F 5:

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Thats us. Called of God. Called to Serve in Sweden. We were set apart by laying on of the hands by those in authority. And we preach the Gospel. We bring others unto baptism and help strengthen their testimoney. He then continued to read a paragraph from our mission calls and what we are expected to do. Then he asked "What are you doing and how? What are you doing with the Lords time?" Being in that setting really makes me really think about my mission up to this point. Am I doing everything I can? And if I am not, it is a time for me to recommit myself and to do everything I can now. It's like in a basketball game. I'm in the 3rd quarter. It's the most important quarter. We are warmed up and feeling good. We arn't tired. It's at that point in the game where you will determine how the game ends up. The fourth quarter is all about securing the win. The third is all about doing all you can for that win. So now is when I have to do my absolute best! He went on to talk about contacting and how important that is. He talked about being diligent in our contacting. Not just contacting because we have to, but contacting because we want to and because we know it is something that will bless us. Then he said "I have a few stories here some missionaries wrote me a few weeks ago in their weekly email. I want to read one of them to demonstrate the point that I am trying to make with contacting." He then went on and read the story. Except guess what? IT WAS MY STORY. As he was reading it I was thinking "This sounds really familiar. Where have I heard this?" Then I realized that was my story. But he kept it secret and didn't say the name. He used my example to the entire mission. I turned a little red a little bit. It's a good thing I sat close to the front. Anyway.....

He then said something I really liked: "Head up, mouths open. We can flood this land." Then promised us that if we listen to the spirit, we will see small miracles every day. It was so great! We got promised so many blessings. It just made me so happy. I knew that if we were not on our missions, we wouldn't be getting these promised blessings. I am so excited to work hard this next week despite all that happens with cancelled appointments, and people being gone. So here we go! Heads up, mouths open. We are going to flood this land.

We found out from our investigator Amaka that she isn't moving to Malmö anymore. But that she is moving to Kristianstad. Our hopes went up just a little bit on a baptismal date. But, not yet. If she can't move to Kristianstad, then it will be much easier to talk with her about it. But she still does want to be baptised. With our other investigators, still no baptismal date. She was gone again. But we have a scheduled appointment with her this coming week so hopefully then. The Ward Mission Leader is moving to Utah this week, so we are going to his place tonight for dinner. Name is Jeff Arko, so if you meet him. Our new Ward Mission Leader is Tony Knuttson, he came back from his mission here in Sweden two months ago. It is weird seeing him is a missionary and now he is our leader. He's super awesome and ready to go, so we will really enjoy him as our ward mission leader.

A member in the ward asked us to go and visit her son every week. Her son is 19 years old and he's inactive. Baptized a year ago or so. So we go over there during the weeks and hang out with him. We play guitar and talk with him and such. He loves computer games and so by us coming over and hanging out with him is one of the few ways she can get him off the computer. So that is fun. I think if we could get him back to church and on a mission that would be ideal. So pray for him and for us that we can know how to work with him. He is a great kid, just needs to get out a little bit more.

Last night we were at the Knuttson family again. We spend a few hours in the evening playing some music together. Tony is super amazing at the piano. Him and I just read from the hymn books and play the simple music together. His mom just loves it. In a few weeks we'll be playing something in church. I kinda realized this week that making music isn't what I love, but it is something I can do. It is one of the few things that I really know how to do well. Not even that well, but you know what I mean. Piano is something that I have been working alot with over the past few months and I gotta say, for teaching myself, I am getting pretty good. And I guess the sisters want to do a music night in a few weeks, so I have to participate in that... oh joy.

Well, family, thats it. I seriously feel like I have been doing a horrible job the past several weeks in telling you how my week went. But there really isn't much to say. I got sick over the week, but it wasn't a big deal. Went away the following day. Like, yeah. Lets see. My companion Elder Zaugg might be transfering this transfer because Lena has a crush on him and he doesn't like it. So that I guess. Hopefully that means I will train! Cause I really would enjoy it. Or at least I would learn a lot. Anyway, it is what it is. I want to wish everybody a great school year. School starts tomorrow and now life can begin, right? And if you're not in school then enjoy work. Because if we enjoy it, it will be more fun! You are all in my prayers and I love every single one of you.

Äldste Christian Tanner

Be someone who makes you happy

Elder Almen Thorpe - August 18, 2014

Well this week was very exciting and funny at the same time all because of my companion. The two of us equals double the trouble! 

Monday on our P-day our district went out to a place called Ocean Beach, might I say it was beautiful! The sun was out, the birds were flying and a group of missionaries were up to no good, sounds like a perfect P-day. We decided to go out because it was one of the sisters birthday on Sunday but because it was Sunday we couldn't do much so going hiking was on all of our minds. Somehow on the way up we took a wrong turn and ended up by the beach. The time was coming to an end, it was close to five o'clock, we were all ready to get into our cars and call it a day. Well my companion decided that he didn't want P-day to be over so he accidentally locked our car keys in the trunk of the car. In his words "oops..." as soon as we all heard those words come out of his mouth, all was silence. He asked me if I had the keys but because I smile a lot he thought (I tend to smile a lot) I was pulling his leg. We got our exercise in though.. we ran up to the nearest home we could find to ask for help. Elder Long and I didn't realize how out of shape we were, we thought because our white shirts still fit us we were in shape. Guess we were both wrong. The man came out of his house and saw us. We told him about the situation and how we locked our keys in the trunk of our car...he first asked us if it was automatic locks, we said yes and he then handed us a hammer. Elder Long and I just starred at him thinking "what is he wanting us to do with this hammer?" Found out that he wanted us to smash our window to get into the car, this is how i guess Kiwi people open their cars. That idea we didn't like so we told him it wasn't our car, so we borrowed his phone, called the mission office and told them what just happened. They laughed at us (in a good way) and said they would send a person over to open the car. The sisters being as nice as they were stayed behind with their car to wait for us but it was more like they said they didn't know the way back and were afraid to get lost. After two to three hours of waiting the man finally showed up and opened the car for us! We were off to the races back to our flats to get back to work. I don't blame my companion but he sure did learn his lesson...that was to not relax too much on P-days. 

The next day rolled around and we had trade off's, I was with Elder Anderson, and yes he is from the best city in the world!!! SEATTLE, WASHINGTON!!! You could say we got along really well...a little too much. We had a fantastic trade off! We got side tracked because I had to take a driving test by the zone leaders to get certified to drive in New out!! After that was all done we went to go see a family that was not on the schedule. As we were walking up the hill, yes we decided to walk on that day because its pretty safe to say I was a little hesitant of what would happen if I got back on the bikes again. Going up the hill a car honked at us and waved us to come over to their house. This car happened to be one of our investigators. You can guess their last name is pretty famous! The name of the family is THORPE! I didn't know that there was a family that could, maybe, possibly be related to my family in New Zealand. It was a mind boggling moment for me.  We went up and met the family, and met the son, his name is Hamish and his girlfriend Zoe. They were the two that waved us over to come to their house when they drove by. We met Hamish's mom and she was shocked that I looked a little different then them...because of the color of my was happy that her family could possibly have some Samoan decedents. I sadly broke the news with her that I wasn't Samoan and that I was adopted. She still accepted me as family. We started talking to Hamish and Zoe. They are both in their twenty's and found out that Hamish is not a member and neither is Zoe but the mom is the only member in the family. Elder Anderson and I started teaching Zoe and Hamish, we thought we would teach the Restoration and how the church came to be, but in the middle of the lesson we asked Zoe "what is one thing you have always wondered in your life?" she replied, "Even though I grew up as a Catholic, and I never did feel like the Catholic religion was something for me, I keep looking and I'm opened minded about other religions but still kinda kept close to the Catholic Church. I had a question of what was my purpose in life and no one could answer that question for me". Elder Anderson and I looked at each other, nodded our heads, put the restoration to the side and started teaching her the plan of salvation. The feeling in the room was just indescribable. We could tell that we were not the ones teaching Zoe but the Holy Ghost and the Spirit were. In the middle of the lesson she explained "I liked the way you describe God because you describe him as someone loving instead of someone scary and also the plan is comfortable not scary". Those words that she said haven't left my head this whole is our sister sitting in front of us and we were directed to go over that day to not only teach a lesson but teach her the importance of life and the Atonement and how Jesus Christ is the center of that wonderful plan that brings comfort to all of us. Zoe and Hamish were happy after the lesson and felt really comfortable. They both accepted to be baptized but not on a specific date but both said they would give it a go and learn more before making that commitment. All the glory goes the Heavenly Father for qualifying Elder Anderson and I to be an instrument for Him. The joy we feel when we see the investigators, members, and friends smile and say "I feel comfortable". That miracle adds on to my testimony about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the marvelous work he has in store for all of us!!! 

This weekend Elder Long and I had a baptism with an eleven year old girl name Charlese. The story with Charlese is that she is with a foster care family who happened to be members. Charlese was excited about her baptism and the better part was that her dad was going to show up and this would be her first time ever meeting her dad face to face. Saturday rolled around and the day came, and you can tell our minds were anticipating for the moment of her baptism. We waited at the chapel for a couple two hours for her dad to show up....after some time of getting to know the members and little kids her dad finally showed up. Okay I have to admit Elder Long and I were a little bit scared he wouldn't show up but we wrong. The baptism started and we went out to a river in the forest to do her actually baptism because the chapel we are in doesn't have a font. This is because we also cover this branch which is a small group of people. Elder Long and I cover a ward and a branch, Saturday we were up with the branch in Pipe Wie which is 45 minutes from Whagarie. You know that moment were in the movies you have people baptizing other people in the river...well my companion not only got to live that moment in real life because he actually baptized Charlese in the river. What a beautiful moment it was to see our little sister becoming part of the family. Elder Long did the honors and baptized her and she is now officially a Latter Day Saint. Elder Long said the water wasn't cold more like it was warm....but that was a lie because we could all see he was shivering. 

Sunday rolled around and it was a day of would be if Elder Long and I were home but not until  next year!! We had a great lesson in gospel principle and our topic was about the "natural man" in other words pride. It was a great discussion and how we should all be careful of being prideful . At times we can have many miracles happen to us, and other times not many and sometimes complain "why is this not happening right now?" Looking back at our week I think that all of this probably wouldn't have happened if my companion and I were prideful, complaining and not giving thanks. Heavenly Father gives us trials, afflictions, and troubles in life to have us wake up and to say, "hey where is my thanks or why is it being this way". We have many trails in our life, it comes down to the scripture passage in Alma 36:3 "whosoever puts their TRUST in God, shall be lifted up in the last day". The key word is trust, it comes down to how much trust do we have in our Heavenly Father? How much are we giving him all the credit? How much are we letting him work through us to have him bless us with these miracles in life? It comes down to putting of the natural man which the scripture passage is found in Mosiah 3:19, "for the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam and will be unless he yields to the enticing of the holy spirit and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to all things that his father gives him." I might have worded that wrong but it means we need to get out of the way and move over so that the Holy Ghost can teach us all things, what is right and what is wrong. Also there is a promise in the scripture Alma 36:3 and its the key word "shall", shall means it will happen, that heavenly father will give you this promise as long as you are willing to let him show you. Heavenly Father gives his promises at the time that is the right time for all of us. All these stories, miracles, and moments that my companion and I will always cherish because we have been trying to be obedient to the mission rules and commandments Heavenly Father has given us. If we want to be "exactly" obedient there are two ways of doing it, one we are being exactly obedient by coming to church ,pay our tithing, go to youth nights and etc, or we are being exactly obedient by showing our love to our fellow members but helping them to be exactly obedient as you are trying to be as well.
Our mission president showed us "if you are being exactly obedient and your companion is not and you are thinking of yourself and he is trying his hardest but is sometimes late to get out of the flat because he is getting things ready, or late to bed but you are ready, is that being exactly obedient?" We need to help those who are having a hard time in understanding what obedience is and help those who are struggling. It can be the less actives, investigators, and members who are active to realize that showing your love to your fellow members by helping them is showing that you are not being selfish. 

The lesson that my companion and I have learned is to show each other appreciation, to help those who are struggling, understand that they are loved by Heavenly Father and us, and to always give thanks to our Father in Heaven for all the miracles we do get. My testimony is growing by seeing the examples of members, investigators and less actives everyday. It is the love for others that drives us to do good! Love your companion, love your members, love your family and most importantly love yourself for who you are!!! 

Thank you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Elder Thorpe (Islander boy that never stops smiling) 

Elder Mitchell Oliphant - August 11, 2014

Well this week ill just start by answering questions. Yes i got the new bike, it was like 500 dollars but i got it. And I love it, its super nice, so it will last my entire mission. I have learned that i hate spending money.. hahaha. The ward im in is okay, its just some of the members on the ward counsel really irritate me cause they are so difficult and uncooperative sometimes. We rarely get fed by the members, except for this one little old Italian lady that makes home made pasta, It is to die for! Its super authentic and really really good, she hand makes the noodles. She is the greatest! Oh haha ether my pants were fitted wrong or ive lost a lot of weight.. all the suit pants are to big now... So im going to have someone adjust them. Your prayers have been working cause the work has been improving alot this week. Our ward had a salmon bake this week, and we thought that it would be a great opportunity for our investigators to come and get to know the ward members better. Three of them came, Angelique, and the Crawfords. All we did was introduce them to a few select ward members and they totally took them under their wing and were super kind to them. So they all had a really good experience, Angelique ended up coming to church and having a great experience. Also that Sunday we were out seeing RCLAs and i got the feeling  to turn around and go see Scottie, i was a little reluctant at first cause we had dropped him due to his unwillingness to progress. But after we talked with him for a while we found out that he had a huge change of heart and was ready to change, so we invited him to go on a church tour with us this week and to church with us this sunday, we also gave him a Restoration pamphlet to read before the tour. He also invited one of his friends- Brian Green {a less active we have been working with}  to the church tour. And on top of that the family history consultants will be there, so we will introduce them to that {our Zone goal is to use Family History in teaching}. So thats how much your prayers have been working. BTW Ive started learning the importance of Family History work, so im going to start doing that on my P Days, I hope you guys continue to do it to. Our ward actually has a goal to reach 100,000 names indexed in a few months, we are well on our way to that so i think they are actually extending it to 200,000!

 I enjoy hearing these storys so keep sending them! Katie thats a hilarious story about patches! I miss them all! Hahaha and that sucks that nobody had a clue of what they were doing on the backpacking trip.. Your a stud for carrying that backpack for Nick Zatiz. Also i hope you continue getting better dad, and yes im staying fit, i do 250 pushups every morning and 100 pull ups, and run a mile, and then bike all day. hahaha, well i love you all and hope you have a wonderful week.     

Elder Kaden Barlow - August 8 2014

Elder Kaden Barlow

Hey Family! :) How is everyone?

HAPPY NEWS! Pablito passed his interview and we got his parents’ permission so we had the baptism, and I got to baptize him!!! It was super awesome and very spiritual. It was really cool to see him bear his testimony at the end. His parents, who aren’t members, came and had a great experience too! We went and visited them with the Branch President, who seriously talked for an hour without stopping. They have lots of potential and we will see what happens with them. ;)

As for the water situation, we finally got water!!!!! :D You have no idea how excited I was :) I got to wash all my clothes without worrying and take more than a bucket shower haha. It was super great. But on the bright side I can now say that I have lived a month without running water in my house... I guess if that is a bright side :) haha  

Last week I think that I told you about Samuel. This week we gave him a Book of Mormon and 17 scriptures about the true church. He has finally decided that the internet is unreliable and doesn’t tell the truth about the church a lot of the times and now just asks us everything which is good. :) This week we did leave almost running from the house because his mom is super anti-Mormon and burns or destroys any pamphlets or pass along cards that she finds in the house and we don´t really want to have an encounter with her yet.  So when she called Samuel and said that she was almost to the house, we had to take off pretty fast.  It was pretty funny. He is 27 but his mom is the owner of his house and so she likes to control what goes on in the house... actually she has the neighbor spy on us sometimes. 

Yes the storm hit here. [Tropical Storm Bertha] It was awesome!! The thunder was crazy! It even was setting off car alarms. Because of the storm we only had around 30 people in church on Sunday... that’s including the kids. Kinda cool to see it rain like that ;)

Let’s see, so yep! I had my birthday this week! My comp nicely woke me up by diving on top of me! And smacking me with his pillow... he is so kind haha. But I enjoyed my personal study accompanied by a nice ice cold Dr. Pepper!! (I’m so nice spoiling myself like that) and then went out and worked ;) At night we lit the candles and celebrated with some little cake things, and I ate some Yaroa, which is like French fries, chicken, more fries, and pepperoni and cheese with ketchup and mayo... yes it’s like asking for a heart attack haha but it was awesome!

Thursday was awesome this week! We had district meeting and basically just discussed the Plan of Salvation and all the questions that we have or that have been asked us that we didn't know how to answer... the ones we didn't quite get worked out were about the dinosaurs hehe but it was really spiritual and I learned a lot. Then in the afternoon we went to the temple with the ward because they didn't have the priesthood necessary. Elder Cortes and I went with the youth and did all their confirmations and baptisms. It was super awesome!! We also ran into a group of gringos in the temple... a bunch of youth... it was really weird hearing pure English like that (I mean I talk to other Elders in English sometimes but we still use lots of Spanish) And they were having some problems communicating so I got to translate for them it was pretty cool!! ;)

Oh and cool story... so we were walking in our area and we come around the corner and we hear some gun shots two of them... so we stop and go the other way... Turns out this guy had pulled a knife on his mother and a cop had stepped in and the guy stabbed the cop in the arm but with his other he pulled his gun and shot him twice!!! It was crazy! I missed the action but saw the people screaming and the ambulance show up. So yeah that was kinda crazy! Normally my area is pretty peaceful but something crazy always happens! But don’t worry mom, I am safe ;)
Well, hope everyone has a great week!

Love you all,

Elder Almen Thorpe - Aug. 3 2014 - Thinking About You

Elder Thorpe
Hello family and friends! 

Wow, it sounds like a lot has been going on this week! Dad is doing great with his job (still looking like the young man he was 50 years ago), mom is getting to take free plane/vacation rides with dad, the Watts family are always up to no good and having too much fun, Kara and Josh sound like they are finding themselves and still enjoying each others company and Megan and Selina are working hard and loving life each and ever single day. Sounds like the Thorpe family to me, still all moving around doing stuff to keep themselves busy, good old family, love you all! Just one question, when are all of you going to just relax or is relaxing not in your vocabulary?!?!  You are all in my prayers and there is not a moment where not one of you don't come up in my head and I think back of how blessed I am to represent my wonderful, silly, and outgoing family and friends! Thank you once again for all you have done for me and to help me get were I am today. 

Mom asked a really good question when she e-mailed me "what has been going on with you?" Just want to say that was a very inspired question...what have I been doing..? Well a lot spiritually, mentally and psychically but not all in that order.  My last area was in Auckland in an area called Henderson and my ward was Henderson valley ward, the members over there were great, they loved helping out with the missionary work and accepted any challenge that they were asked to do. The bishopric was great and were all in-tune in helping out with getting those less actives back into church and making the investigators feel welcome. That was on the spiritual side, the psychical was that I had to ride my bike all around that area, which wasn't too easy because not only did I gain leg muscles but I also gained a little bit of stomach muscles (yes I am gaining just a little weight but not too much that is noticeable). Also we were doing a lot of getting to know the youth and Young Single Adults boys, that was riding bikes while being pulled on a razor scooters, going on hikes with them, and playing basketball or touch rugby we were there with the youth and YSA boys because we felt that getting to know the youth and showing them that missionary work is not only just finding people to teach but was also all about having fun in times were it was most appropriate (sometimes).They loved being around my old companion and I. They would call us up just to go do missionary work with them and visit less actives, members and investigators with us. Those were the physical and spiritual part of my last area but the mental part is that there wasn't much thinking that went into me doing all this it was by the spirit and the spirit worked through my companion and I. I will always cherish the moments in Henderson and never forget the time my old companion and I had together with the members, investigators and less actives. 

Before I left Elder Matua (my old companion) and I were teaching a family name the Toalas, Mel and her two kids Dimond and Dontay were getting ready to be baptized in three weeks. Well it is sad to say that I have left that journey with the Toala family and left it with my old companion Elder Matua to finish the job up. I trust him with all my heart and soul that he will do a great job at helping the Toala family reach the waters of baptism. Please keep him and his new companion in your prayers he will be needing all the help and support he needs from family and friends back home and here but they will do a great job.

As you would of all already guessed I was called on Wednesday afternoon to be transferred to a new area with a new companion. On my last night while packing up Mel, that is sister Toala, her twelve year old son Dimond and her eleven year old daughter Dontay came to our flat that  around six, and because I was leaving the next day  they wanted to come say goodbye. Dimond came and gave me with teary eyes and a smile on his face the BIGGEST HUG EVER! I hugged him back and had tears come down on my eyes too. This twelve years old boy even though he barely met me gave me a hug that I will never forget and cherish for the rest of my life. Dimond was like a little brother I never had, both of us would make jokes at each other every time we would be over at their place, and something that stood out to me while teaching at his house one day was these words..."I want to serve a mission when I get older", even though he still has some years to go I know that Dimond has that determination to go on a mission. When he first heard the story about Joseph Smith, he hasn't stopped on reading the Book of Mormon and wanting to learn more ever since. My last words to Dimond were these "Don't give up, no matter what you do, don't give up". It was a heart felt moment for me and Dimond. I will miss him but I know that goodbyes are not forever! I will see him again! It wasn't me that changed Dimond it was Heavenly Father, it wasn't my example that he was following it as Heavenly Fathers, and it wasn't my teachings that him and his family were was our Heavenly Fathers teachings. 

I am now in my new area called Whangarei, the way you pronounce the word in the beginning is with the letter 'F'. I know it is kind of weird but that is cause I am out in the country side were all the Maori people are. I am not in Auckland city anymore, I am just outside about a three hour drive out in the country side. I made sure to take some pictures while in the car ride down here, and there is tons and tons of green out here! My new companions name is Elder Long, from California!! He is the district leader and because our zone is so spread out we drive a car!!! Woahh! Finally, whoever prayed for me to get a car, I just want to say thank you! All the championships in Whangarei zone have a car except one companionship and their area is in the town. All the districts are also spread out by a an hour away from each P-days consist of just one district or usually just a two or three companionship's. It is just absolutely beautiful out here! Love it, love it, love it! My companion and I also found a family name Thorpe, so we will be looking into them to see if they are related somehow with the family. 

On Sunday we took the mission prep class out with us. I went over to one of the students mates house with a returned missionary, so there were three of us going to one of the students mates house. It was a great experience because the kid named Aaron was preparing to go on a mission and this was his first time ever bringing up the gospel to his mates. He grew up making trouble with these his friends, and had a change of heart and decided to prepare to go on a mission. It was great, Aaron did great and his friends were open to him and what he had to say, later after we left, Aaron said that he wasn't positive what they would say but was happy they were opened to what he shared. Aaron had more strength then I ever did because wanting to share the gospel with my friends was something I never wanted to do but seeing Aaron, someone who didn't know much about missionary work, and him sharing his testimony was something spectacular! Here was this eighteen year old boy talking about the gospel with his mates that he grew up with and having the spirit or strength to change and trying it for the first time on his about courage. Just sharing his testimony to his friends and hearing it from him opened my eyes that you don't need to know a lot of things in order to have a testimony about the church. 

My lesson this week was on change, and love. The two go together perfectly. Putting it in my missionary work, we have to change ourselves and our ways in order to be more converted ourselves. It also came down to three things... love, duty, and fear. Are we getting up every day for work, school, and ect. for the love of it or because it is our duty to do it, or because we fear if we don't do it we will get in trouble. It really hit me with this question, are we as members going to church ever week and being representatives of Jesus Christ because it is our duty, or is it our fear or is it because we want to and love to!? I reflected on that question and asked myself am I doing the missionary work because it is my duty, or because I have a fear of it or because I love it and it is the will of my father. That is something I will have to find out for myself while still out on my mission, the moral is that we are doing all we are doing because we love to do it or is it because it is our duty or because we have fear of what might happen if we don't. Go to church because you love to go to church not because you feel like it is a duty or because you have a fear what might happened if you don't go because you love your Heavenly Father and want to do his will. I just want to leave you all a question to think about, What am I doing everything for...LOVE?...DUTY?...or FEAR??.. we have to be willing to do everything out of love not because it is our duty or because we have a fear of what might happen if we don't. 

Thank you all for you encouragement and the help you have been giving him, thank you for being good examples to me! Hope all your weeks go great and all is well! Remember have fun, smile and laugh a little!

from Elder Thorpe  

Elder Mitchell Oliphant - August 5, 2014

Hey guys, thank you so much for your letters, they always brighten my day and week. I love you guys. And i appreciate everything that you have done for me. So- this week has been good. We are just starting to teach a couple of new people- Angelique, Mark, and Carl Tate. Angelique is amazing and wants to learn everything we can teach her, she does struggle to know that Jesus is there and that he loves her. Mark is a hilarious black guy that is 50, he is on house arrest tho so i don't know how im gonna baptize him, first time i met him he explained to me that he is a gangster at sole and a hustler for life.. hahahaha... Carl Tate is the husband to Sis Tate who is already a member, He is hard to get a hold of cause he is always working. He said he wants to get Baptized tho, so im gonna be the one to Dunk him! He just doesn't know it yet. He is sooo ready to be baptized he just needs to take the freeking lessons. Im not going to push it too much tho cause i know that its not an easy or short process, nor should it be. 

 Those pics are awesome haha. I can see Why Bishop is going to put them in his office hahaha. It sounds like you guys are having fun! Im glad! :] Tell Holly and Karl that Im soooooooooooooo Proud of them and their diligence in progressing to Baptism! They set a great example of faith to me. I pray for them always. And cant wait to see them along with everyone else when i get home. BTW thank you for working on getting me music! I cant wait to get it! Also Nick- I miss ya a bunch tooo! Keep working hard, always give 100% that's why i was tough. Katie- I miss you a bunch, yes it has rained several times hahahah. Josh- I miss ya bud! keep working hard in school! Mom and dad- love you guys and im glad that you feel better dad. 
Love Elder Oliphant

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sister Courtnee Wood - We Love Recent Converts

I am writing this with a big smile on my face, because I am so grateful for all of things that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! So if I am writing this with a smile, you can all read it with a smile. :) 
My life in San Nicolas continues on! Our week comprised of mostly teaching recent converts haha. We taught 24 lessons of just recent converts, so that kind of gives you an idea. But we put a dent in their reteaching, so I am happy! So listen, last monday I had a dream that one of the recent converts was pregnant, and we went their the night after, and they told us that she is waiting to find out if she is pregnant! Way weird... but super sweet at the same time. I have actually enjoyed reteaching the recent converts, we gotta help them keep strengthening their testimony. There is one recent convert family that is preparing to be sealed in the temple in September! So cool to see.
Being a missionary is just really funny sometimes, and even though you are a missionary, there are times you just do stupid things on accident haha. We thought this man named Charito was a long less active member of the church, so we went and found him and told him we just want to teach you for 5 minutes if that is all you have. In the meantime he is going off about how the Catholic church is the true church and I just keep saying, "Brother what are you talking about? You are a member of the true church of Jesus Christ!" Basically just saying stop saying that you are already a member of the only true church haha. Come to find out after about 10 minutes of this talk that he has never even been baptized and had only come to our church once when he was taking his kids there. Hahaha oh my gosh I laughed forever and just kept saying sorry. That was my fault, and we need to ask more questions haha!  Then right after that we were walking down the road and we saw some people roasting a full dog. That was my first encounter of that haha. It looked like a dalmation,
We are teaching a really cute family. (the kids in the photo) They all came to church on Sunday. They are so cute. She washed my clothes for me this week. They have a baptism date for August 30th. We will keep visiting them and helping them prepare! 

So there is actually a 7-11 here. But it is not as good as at home. We do reporting every saturday and then walk to 7-11 afterwards since it is just down the street from the church. Convenient right? Haha also too convenient for the members to leave church and break the sabbath day on sundays! But i got a hot chocolate cause it has been way rainy. It almost tasted the same as at home. 
Also, I am reading the book Jesus the Christ. HOLY smokes, it is blowing my mind. In the best possible way. It is such a cool book. If you have not read it, buy it and read it. Most people say that it is so deep, but really I know that the Holy Ghost helps you to understand it because I have been reading it just like any ordinary book! I am learning so much. President Barrientos once said that there is no such thing as deep doctrine, it is just deep understanding. SO TRUE. I am really learning who Christ was, his personality, his miracles... and it is making me grow closer to him. EVERYONE, read it. 
I also found out that Sister Willson is coming to the US of A next year for conference. I AM SO EXCITED! It is going to be a blast. Seriously I will just say it again, that I have made the best friends here on my mission. I AM SO LUCKY! 
Well, I know I am sorry this isn't the longest e-mail I have every written, but I feel like that is about it for the week! Love you all. 
Sister Wood
Sister Wood's desk

Sister Wood's bed - Guess which one is hers:)

See that bucket in the corner? Yep, that where she showers!

Filipino Breakfast

Elder Stetson Wood - Exchanges


Elder Wood

This week we had exchanges on  with the zone leaders and i stayed up here in St. Paul. 
Elder Sorenson is who i was with and he is total stud of a missionary. We Tracted the whole time pretty much because we didnt have any appointments but we found 3 new potential Investigators in one night! It was great. We already taught one of them again about the restoration and things are going great with her:) 
Things are starting to pick up here in the St. Paul area! We have a lot of less actives in the area so that has been a big focus lately to meet with all of them and get things goin so that is what we have been doin a lot lately. 
This week the primary president asked if i would teach in sharing time about the Holy Ghost so this week I prepared for that and then Friday night our 2nd councelor in the branch presidency called and asked us if we would speak in sacrament meeting... So last second we had to throw stuff together and get talks ready for Sunday. I spoke on the role of members in missionary work and my companion spoke on the Plan of Salvation. Kinda random but it was good. Our branch takes about 15 min to get started and get through the sacrament. I wasnt even thinking about that! I spoke first and talked for like 15 min then i got done and we still had like 35 min! hahaha i sat down and my companion look at me and just said. " you suck so bad. " I looked at the clock and I almost lost it up on the stand. hahahaha:) by time he got done we had like 20 minutes till it ended so our branch president just got up and talked a little bit. It was good sacrament though. And the talk in sharing time went great! We had a big primaryon Sunday because of visitors (10 kids). 
That was my week in a nut shell... 
Have a great week,
Elder Wood

Studying hard

Elder Mitchell Oliphant - July 27, 2014

Okay so this is one experience. We were riding back from a recent converts apartment and as we were riding we heard someone say ''hey Elders!'' It was this homeless man that was behind a grocery store down where the trucks drop off produce. So we rode our bikes down and began talking with him. He told us that he could always tell that the LDS missionary's were coming cause of the warm feeling he would get. I told him that was the Holy Ghost, he said that he was a member of the church and he already new thats what it was. So we continued talking and found out that he would be getting a call the next day concerning some pretty serious medical issues, and that he wanted a blessing. So we went over to some stairs and gave him a blessing. Even with all the sounds of traffic and other things the spirit was there. After the blessing he wanted a Book of Mormon, and the address to the church. Unfortunately he doesn't live in our area. But i can see he has potential. Also ive noticed that i have got some very specific answers and blessings to my prayers and i have noticed how much the lord has changed me and how much more i need to be changed. Ive learned a lot of things out here. So there's that.. Could you guys tell the Hoopers thanks for the cards and Swedish fish for me and sorry for not emailing them. Ive been pretty busy, but i will email them. I dont mind long emails btw, they are kind of nice. Thanks for taking care of the music thing for me :] i appreciate it. I love you guys! 

Elder Brandon Wallis - July 23, 2014

Calf at Church


Hey family! There's tarantulas out here! Lots of snakes too. I killed one by our trailer. I'm working on getting a rabbit... and catching a lizard. Some of the lizards get up to a foot or longer! We also had a calf get into the church lot. It snuck around the cattle guard! So me and Elder Ah Loy went and cornered it and tackled it to the ground and walked it out of the lot. That was an adventure!
There's a Womanhood Ceremony this week, and the Navajo's are wanting the belegaana gamalii's (white Mormons) to slaughter the sheep for the event on Saturday!  Apparently its quite an honor to do it for a big event like this. They don't use guns to slaughter sheep out here though... They slit their throats and rip the head off... I'll admit I'm a little nervous.
Julia, Lyn, and Suzie Johnson were baptized and confirmed this last weekend! It's a really cool story of how we found this family. At the beginning of the transfer our Stake President called us and told us that we needed to have a goal of getting three baptisms this transfer. We thought it was a good goal, and started fasting and praying that we would find three people that were prepared to enter the waters of baptism this transfer. Later on we went teaching with a member of the branch and he brought us to this family's home. Just like everyone on the Rez, he was related to them somehow! We taught them the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited them to baptism. We set a goal with them for about 3 weeks out, and they kept all their commitments to make that date. This family was prepared and willing to make changes to allow God's influence into their lives. I'm so happy that I've been able to be a part of all of that! There is a brighter spirit about their home now. They are happier. Everyone wants to be happy in this life, and it's great to see people figure out that through Jesus Christ is how we can be the happiest. I know this Church is true. I know that in this Church, Jesus Christ's Church, we have the fullness of His Gospel restored again. This came about by people just like you and me that were willing to act on promptings and commandments of the Lord. People that asked questions and sought diligently for answers. I have had some incredible tender mercies as I have dedicated myself more and more fully to this Gospel. Faith is a verb. We act using our faith, to repent and make covenants with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. We are blessed to have the immeasurable power of the Atonement at our disposal when we come short. Jesus Christ doesn't make up the difference. He makes ALL the difference. We don't push through life on our own until we're tired and worn down and then pass off our load to the Savior. He is there the entire time pulling with us. IF we are willing to humble ourselves and ACT on our faith and USE the Atonement. I'm now down to 6 months left on my mission. It's a real bummer! I feel like I have finally figured it out, and it's coming to a close. The people here on Alamo need this light in their life. I am called as a messenger to bring them that light and invite them to plug in their faith so it can illuminate their lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So this is what I will do. Until my Stake President takes my tag off I will serve as a called representative of our Savior. However, it doesn't stop there. Those of us who have taken upon ourselves the Covenant of Baptism have a solemn and sacred responsibility to take this light into the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters. Every member a missionary. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all! I hope you enjoy your week and have some opportunities to share this light with our brothers and sisters! If you aren't already, pray for missionary experiences, and your testimony will grow as you open your mouth and share this wonderful message.

Elder Wallis

Elder Kaden Barlow - July 22, 2014

Hey Family! How is everyone? 

Let’s see the big part about our week is we have no water!! It’s kinda ridiculous. What happened is the pump that pumps the water into the sistena, which is the big underground storage that then gets pumped to the tenacos(the buckets on the roofs that give us our water,) broke. So we just had the water left in our tenaco. Well they hired a truck to come fill the sistena, so after our tenaco ran out of water the first time it got filled again. But that was just a temp. fix and they are asking 800 pesos from every apt. to buy a new pump. But freaking first off that is a lot of money that they would be getting so everyone is protesting and no one knows when we will get water and it is just a joke. I spent a good 12 minutes talking on the phone with Elder Mortenson trying to figure out what to do and basically we are just on our own praying for water... the only thing they can do is if we don't get water at the end of the month they won't pay rent. So tonight I will be washing my clothes in a member’s house :) because also there is never light here until night time so you can never wash in the mornings. Oh boy... I miss nice cold showers where I could relax after a super hot day.... yeah never thought I would say that did ya? haha but tis true.

Last night I almost ended up in a Dominican hospital! I got super sick yesterday I had a fever of 104 and was throwing up all day and in lots of pain. We couldn't get a hold of anyone either for some reason. In the night time we finally got a hold of Doctor Walker and they were gonna come get me to take me to the clinic because they had no idea what was wrong. It could have been a relapse of Chikungunya, Dengue, Appendicitis, Kidney Stones, (this is what they were telling me). Luckily my fever dropped to 103 so they decided to let me rest the night and if I wasn't better in the morning they were going to come get me. Luckily when I woke up my fever was gone and I was able to drink without throwing anything up!! :) So I still don't feel my best but I’m alive :)

This week we did an intercambio and I went to Alimirante, which is the ward that shares the chapel with Villa Carmen, and I ran into a few people that I knew. I went with my District Leader, Elder Marroquin. He is super cool and we had some great lessons. It was nice to have a quick break from my area and from my comp. On the intercambio we were walking down the street and on the other side a power line blew up... kinda freaky. Everyone in the street starts screaming… Once we see that we are out of harm’s way, we pull out the phone and start recording it. It was crazy!

So we have this investigator named Samuel. He is super cool. He first got interested in the church through David Archuleta!! Crazy, right? He has tons of his music and sometimes when we get there it’s playing and it kinda makes me trunky! haha But he is evangelical but actually wants to learn. It’s super cool and he never contends with us so we will see what happens with him. I just thought it was awesome that he knew who David Archuleta was.

Let’s see what else, um... We have a baptism coming up the 2nd of August... of course nothing is ever for sure but so far so good. He is a 16 yr old named Pablito and is super awesome. Always studies and loves to learn and has tons of animo. Funny story, we were teaching him the word of wisdom last Saturday night, and he had two friends over that wanted to contend with us. Also Elder Cortes was a little mad with me because I didn't let him stay and play dominoes with some people because we had a cita and so he tried to contend with them, and I was just sitting there watching. When he finally didn't have anything to say I began to teaching trying to invite the spirit and the whole tone of the lesson changed and none of them argued with me and it turned into a really cool lesson. It just goes to show that contending never works!

Well that’s about it. Love you guys lots!!


Elder Zach Taylor - July 21, 2014

Some great news from this week.. Thursday I officially finished my 1st year as a missionary! Sometimes I can`t believe that much has gone by already.

But anyway, this week was pretty fun. We´ve been teaching this young couple for a few weeks, Ivan and Lilian. They`re really fun people, but they have almost no concept of how religion or how god has a place in their lives. We´ve been teaching them little by little, but it`s still kind of hard for them to believe even that heaven exists. Anyway, we went over to visit them on Tuesday night and found that Lillian was there alone and she was crying. She came out and told us that she had had a fight with her mom. Ivan was gone working for a couple days, so she felt really alone and sad because she had no one to talk to about it. When we showed up she was so happy because finally she had someone to talk to. Sometimes being a missionary just means being there for people. Experiences like that really help me to expand my love for others. It makes me feel like I`m doing things the Savior would do. 

Wednesday we had a district meeting.. and since the mission completed it`s first year this month, we got mission t shirts! They`re pretty cool looking. The computer I'm using is a little busted, so I´ll send pictures next week.

There`s this guy that lives on the first floor of our apartment that asked us for a Book of Mormon the other day. He said he`s a really curious person and wanted to know what that book was all about. I`ll let you know if anything becomes of this.

Church was great this week. I had been studying about the sacrament this week and decided I was going to try to make that a more special moment this week. It`s a whole different experience when you stay focused on the Savior while you take the bread and water. Also, when we were singing the opening hymn in sacrament meeting, the branch president stood up and stopped everyone because he didn`t think the congregation was singing well enough. Reminded me of a similar experience I had back home... ha ;) 

Well if you´ve made it this far, I thank you for reading the whole letter. haha See you next week!
Elder Taylor

Elder Almen Thorpe - My Week

Elder Thorpe

Family and friends!,

My companion and I have been working on our Christlike Attributes this week. On Tuesday we had an interview with our New Mission President, President Balli, he is from Colorado. Very inspiring mission president, from what I have heard from other elders and sisters after their interview is that they felt like they were themselves with President Balli and they could open up to him. I can tell by speaking to him that he is going to be a great mission president for the next three years! As I was thinking of him I was thinking of Spencer parents when they were mission presidents, (for those who do not know who Spencer is, he is my brother in law) and how they were inspired as well to help those missionaries back in Guatemala. 

Elder Matua and I have been working with part-member families. They are the best! Even though these families have different back grounds they still act like themselves. We have been building a friendship with these them to get close to their husband or wife that are not a member and the thing is that they want us over a lot that they even offer to have dinner with us. The amazing thing about this is these none members are seeing that we are not only missionaries but we are ourselves and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about having fun not having to stress out on anything. There is a scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7 in the bible that talks about how the Lord looks into the heart of his children and not on their outer appearance. When we showed this scriptures to those people I could see that their reaction to the scripture got them to ponder more.

The names of the part member families are the Fiatua family, The Masi family, the Simon/Bugby family, and the McCallister Family. The uniqueness of these family's are that three of these families (the Fiatua, Masi, and MacCllister family) have less active members that are their husband or wife. It is amazing to see that these members still have their testimony about the church and the gospel and its teachings. While building this friendship with them we are able to see that all they are searching for is a friend. The McCallister and Masi family, the two wife's are sisters and less active but one of the sisters husband is not a member but the sisters dad is not a member which is good because we will be working on both of the families. Falite and Niiki Masi, Falite is not a member but has his own barbershop that Elder Matua and I go to get our hair cuts at. (good thing we are missionaries because we get them for free, its the smiles that win over the people sometimes). Falite and Niiki have a son who has a disability and slow but really, really nice kid! He is our best friend and we look out for him.

The Fiatua family, the wife is a less active member but the )usband is not a member at all. Sister Fiatua has had some past problems with members but she is getting over that, Elder Matua and I have been just going over and sharing scriptures here and there to get them rolling. She is okay for us missionaries to come over but is starting from the last time I heard is warming up to members. They have about five to six kids and they all love to play video games. Good thing Elder Matua and I got over that stage of playing video games. They have expressed to Elder Matua and I that they enjoy our company and they like us to come over more often because she wants to treat us to dinner and cookies and crackers. 

The Simon/Bugby family is an interesting family (what I mean by interesting is that all the kids have TOO MUCH ENERGY!) Sister Simon is a member but her husband is not but both go by different last names, she hasn't changed her last name yet. Both are Maori and really funny, Donovann is a rugby player and has been showing me some of his Maori dance and stick games. Each of them both have four kids and all live under one roof, the house is crazy and I learned the hard way, note to myself not to give sugar to little kids especially late at night. Donovann came two weeks ago to church, without anyone inviting him, he came with his family. All the kids in the family every time like to jump on us and start wrestling us. It is a good things I learned some wrestling moves. Poor Elder Matua just couldn't get out of the attack. 

It has been a good week and a week of trying to find those lost sheep and bring them back into the fold. Elder Matua and I are trying to be like Ammon and bring back those less actives back to church. What I have learned is that these less active's are just looking for a friend to come back to church with. They have their own situation going on but it is that sometimes as members we get too caught up about ourselves that we sometimes miss the opportunity and forgetting that we are missing a member or one the sheep in the fold. All of these less actives all have something in common, they still have that strong testimony that the church is true, and what we do to help strengthen their testimony to coming back to church will reflect on how much we care for our brothers and sisters. Our job as members is not tell them they are not good enough to come back to church but to say "hey, we miss you, it is time to come back and we will be there every step of the way to help you come back to the family". I have felt what they have felt and I know that this mission is not all about baptism but it is to help all those are seeking help, if they be less actives, members, recent converts or someone just looking for help, that we will be their as representatives of Jesus Christ to help them and be guides for them. Missionaries or not missionaries we will always be there to help, that is what we do as Mormons or as Later-day Saints, we HELP. 

I have learned that people will accept you more when you are yourself and not trying being someone else. When I am myself I am more happy but when I try to join and be like my friends, I am not truly being myself and trying to fit in. As President Monson said "Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone, dare to make it known."

Hope you all have a wonderful week! Help find those Lost Sheep!!
Elder Thorpe, Auckland New Zeland Mission