Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 5 and Eating an Australian Delicacy

Elder Arima and I had a really fun trade-off.  It was really cool to talk with an American and be his companion for a few days, especially since chances are I won't have an American comp during my two years.  He really wanted me to try kangaroo, so for dinner Monday night, that's what we ate!  It tastes like really chewy steak and felt a little weird, but I guess we do eat cow every day so no biggie, right?  

For lunch on Tuesday, we went for the local grindz: spam musubi, guava nectar, li-hing mango, and Melona bars!  Oh man it was sooo good!  The funny thing was right after lunch, we were heading out towards Queenscliff to go tracting and we met a Tongan from the Manly Ward.  Not only did he grow up in Hawai'i, but he served his mission there too!  We talked with him for a couple minutes, and I realized how much I miss pidgin.  I've gotten so used to "how you going" and "cheers". 

The thing I like most about trade-offs is you get to see how every missionary has a different style.  Like I mentioned before, the work is the same everywhere, but how you go about it can change.  It was cool to see how Elder Arima approached talking to people in different areas, and I was definitely able to learn from his actions and the tips he gave me.  

Every Wednesday night, we have dinner with the Martin family.  Brother Martin has been a member for a few years now, but Sister Martin is not a member.  However, she attends church every week and enjoys hearing about the gospel.  They are both really good cooks, so we look forward to our last appointment on Wednesdays because we know we'll eat good.  

Up until this week, the only American sports ad I had seen was the MNF ad with the Aussie 49'er, but STEPH CURRY has made it to the Sydney people!  I was so happy to see an NBA ad on the bus. 

One thing that definitely changes when you have bikes is planning.  You travel everywhere sooo much quicker than you do walking!  If you don't have a backup plan, you'll end up doing heaps of tracting!  So we've definitely gotten more efficient at planning.  

We are very lucky to have a mini blender in our flat, so I've had berry oat shakes every day and they give me a ton of energy!  It's almost like an acai bowl! (which they have here, but I've resisted the temptation so far)

We've gotten a lot of people honking at us the past couple weeks (especially when biking up hills) and a few comments every so often from people as they drive by.  It's funny because it really makes you realize how guys like Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth, and Tanner Mangum are so cool under pressure.  

Friday night, I finally got to make curry and oh boy WE FEASTED.  That's the best curry I have ever tasted! 

On Sundays, we always have to decide if we want to go home to drop off our suit coats or just keep them on all afternoon.  This week, we chose to keep them and it was a terrible idea, hahaha summer is near and it is getting very hot.  On the plus side, we talk to a lot more people because they ask us why we aren't wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  

Every Monday night, we meet with one of the less-active members of our ward, Piero.  He is from Peru and was baptized a couple of years ago, but due to work, can't attend sacrament meeting right now.  We usually read a chapter from the Book of Mormon with him and it's always really cool because we read in English and he reads in Spanish! 

Today was our Temple P-Day, so we woke up early to make it over there in time.  It was such a great opportunity to go through a session and ponder a few questions I had! 

Until next week, shootz!

Elder Muh

Phrase of The Week: "Far out!", Aussie way of saying no way!

P.S. I really enjoyed the General Conference talk given by Brother Durrant, who talked about ponderizing scriptures.  I have decided to do so, but unfortunately, I forgot to add that to my emails the past two weeks.  Here's the scripture I'll be ponderizing this week: 

- Mosiah 1:6 
"O my sons, would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are trueAnd behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time 
they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes." 

- A lot of people these days need proof for everything in order to believe something.  I think I often have gotten caught up in that as well.  One thing that I have taken for granted was the Book of Mormon.  The book is all the proof we need!  How could Joseph Smith, about a 20 year old young man translate the golden plates unless he truly was called of God? Therefore, I encourage everyone to value the Book of Mormon.  It is the keystone of our religion, and because of it, the entire church becomes true! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Biking Through Town With Heaps of KFC

One thing that's been pretty cool to see here is the city.  I don't think Honolulu or Waikiki counts too much, so the only other real city I've been in is San Francisco.  Sydney is sooo unique.  Aside from the crazy traffic, I really enjoy the whole buildings and harbor feel.  

Every Wednesday, we catch a bus (and sometimes a train) for our District meeting (or Zone meeting on the last Wednesday of every month) which are held at the Greenwich Stake Center about an hour or so away from our area.  I always enjoy the trip there because I get to see parts of the city, but today, I got to really see the city.  

For District P-Day today, we chose to go ice skating at a mall next to Macquarie University, which was pretty fun after lots of practice.  It was also cool because it was the first time the Filipino and Tongan elders had ever seen an ice rink! Anyways, we caught a bus that went over the Harbor Bridge!  We also got a pretty sick view of the Opera House so that's pretty legit.  

Great news! We got bikes this week and they've been such a big help! The first day, we had to bike up two big hills (and then the hill back to our flat) and we hated it.  But after a few days, we now love them.  It makes the work so much more fun! Shout-out to Uncle Earl for having a biking high adventure right before my mission haha! 

My area is referred to as the Northern Beaches, so many of the towns are right along the beach.  It's a little like Hale'iwa.  As summer nears, the beach is becoming a bigger temptation, and although I can't touch the water for two years, I know the Lord placed me in the area near the beach to help ease me into the transition of missionary life and I'm very grateful for that. 

One thing that I realized during our District meeting this week was that I can be grateful for a lot more things.  I'm serving my mission in Australia! Although it was tough in the beginning, I'm not learning a new language.  I can't even imagine how difficult that must be, and am very thankful I am still speaking English!  

Which reminds me, random thought, there are a lot of Italians here who say they can't speak English.

One of the things you do in your first 12 weeks as a missionary is go through something called 12 Week Training, which consists of clips of The District and teachings of the prophets.  Something that stuck out to Elder Lamipeti and I was to look through the former investigators section of our area book and try to visit them all.  

I truly know that by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we were able to find one of the previous investigators named Melissa, who lived fairly close to us.  We did a little service for her last week and she called it a God-incidence (not a coincidence) that we found her.  We really hope we can begin teaching her again soon! 

We also have an investigator from Brazil named Edimur.  Man, he is sooo prepared! Before we even began teaching him, he basically told us that he had felt the Holy Ghost before and wanted to feel it all the time.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and he had read the introduction before he attended church with us the next day! This week, we taught him the restoration and he understood much of what was taught.  Unfortunately, after his trip to Fiji this month, he'll be moving out of our area... Shucks! So we'll be referring his information to the missionaries up north.  

So right now I'm with Elder Arima (one of the Greenwich elders) for another trade-off.  He lived the first half of his life in Hawai'i and loves all the foods.  He helped me find guava nectar and a whole bunch of Asian foods! 

Stoked for the upcoming week! 

Ofa Atu,
Elder Muh 

Words of the Week: 
-Dodgy, Sketchy in pidgin 
-Pram, Stroller
Thought of the Week: 
-A lot of people here say things like "do you reckon?" or "bloody" and it makes me feel like I'm in Harry Potter, so that's pretty cool. 

P.S. Next week is our Zone Temple P-Day.  The Sydney Temple is closed on Mondays, so our P-Day is gonna be moved to Tuesday, which means I'll be emailing Monday evening/night time for all of you back in America! 

We now have bikes!


Ice Skating for District P-Day

Some of our members live on this road and I think it is a pretty legit street name

Good News Everyone:  I found Spam at the local grocery store!

*Elder Muh says to tell everyone sorry he wasn't able to respond to all emails this week. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

$15 in Coins for Groceries

So last week, Elder Lamipeti and I collected all the coins we had in our flat and decided we would buy our groceries with them.  After email time, we headed over to the grocery store and paid about $15 in coins for some of our groceries.  It was pretty hilarious, we sat there for a good five minutes and put every single coin in. 

The past couple P-Days really made me appreciate all that Mom has taught me over the years.  Basic stuff like doing the dishes and washing laundry is a breeze. Some of the other things I realized, I do because Mom taught me to.  Throughout the week, I added to a grocery list in my planner to make shopping easier.  When we got home, I neatly organized everything into the fridge and cabinets, and then proceeded to tie up all the grocery bags to reuse later.  I'm pretty sure Elder Lamipeti sits there laughing at me, especially when I re-organized everything in the kitchen my second day there. Anyway, because I never said it enough at home, thank you mom, for everything that you've taught me.  

Living in a foreign country that is solely focused on footie (rugby), I've been deprived of American sports.  I've seen a Monday Night Football ad on the bus, and that's pretty much it.  There's been a few dudes walking around with the FIBA "Molten" basketballs that they use in the Olympics, which makes me so happy because there are still people here who enjoy basketball! 

While waiting for the bus this week, I saw a young man with a basketball who was wearing Nike iD's Lebron's. I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me.  I could relate to him on so many levels, I love basketball and shoes.  I started talking to him and eventually got to share a little bit about the gospel.  The young man, named Pema, from Tibet, was a huge Kobe fan, and was headed to play basketball at a nearby park.  We told him that we could play on Monday, so hopefully we get to play with him today and share more about the gospel! 

Since we don't have a car, our only methods of transportation are walking, catching the bus, or riding the train.  We carry this huge map around with us to help us find streets and are really grateful when members give us a ride, even if it's just a couple blocks to the chapel, because it saves so much time.  

This week, we also had a trade-off with a companionship in our District.  I went to the Greenwich area for the day with our District Leader, Elder Brown.  It was cool to see how different their area was from ours, but also to see that no matter what area you serve in, the work is always the same.  I was able to learn a lot from the example of Elder Brown, who has been out for a year and a half now. 

Because their flat is in an area where there are tons of Asian students, they have a rice cooker, so I got to eat rice and it was amazing! We also ate sushi for dinner because all the restaurants in that area are Asian foods.  Eating foods from home made me realize how much I miss Taco Bell, which they do not have here in Australia... 

And now, General Conference!  I have to admit, it felt really weird watching all the sessions a week after they actually happened.  Nevertheless, it was still great to hear from all the prophets and apostles of the church.  I particularly enjoyed the testimonies of the three new apostles, and the talks given by the First Presidency throughout various sessions of Conference.  My favorite talk was from Elder Larry R. Lawrence, who challenged us to ask "what lack I yet"?  This phrase stuck with me all weekend, and I was able to find the answer to that question through diligent prayer, as well as through other talks given.  

There are many things that we can all work on, but the important thing to remember is that Christ is always there for us.  Like Elder Haynie said, He will always be there to clean the mud from us, and he will never turn away from us.  All we need to do is open our eyes and we'll see all the blessings that Christ has bestowed upon us.  The love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us is immeasurable, and I have definitely been able to feel that love, especially in my past three weeks here in Australia.  

I know that all the messages shared during Conference were inspired by God, that the three new apostles called were called by God, and that through diligent prayer, we can receive answers to any questions that we may have.  The Holy Ghost is real, and it speaks to us every single day.  All we have to do it listen. 

Love you heaps!
Elder Muh 

Word/Thought of the Week:
-Trolley, Shopping cart at a grocery store 
-Hungry Jacks is the Burger King here and yes, it is just as expensive as America 

Many parrots roam free in our area

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Great Week and Macca's

First of all, I had no clue if the time I had on my watch for Hawai'i was correct or not until now.  Daylight Savings Time is crazy.  This is the first time I've lived somewhere where I actually had to change my clock, so I was all sorts of messed up.  I know General Conference is happening as I type in America right now, and that's low key weird. (I'll get to watch next week) But, the Lord is definitely looking out for us.  The night before DST started, we had an investigator and a few members remind us that we needed to change our clocks.  Good thing they did, otherwise we probably would've been late for church.
He's also looking out for his missionaries by feeding them heaps.  Basically everything that involves food here is called a feed.  And boy do they feed.  I've never had so much steak and fried chicken in one week before in my life.  One of the families in our ward, the Komene family, called us last night to see if they could drop off some food.  We had a dinner appointment at their house earlier in the week (they had already given us leftovers) so I thought they were just gonna drop off something small for dinner.  Nope.  Two bags of groceries and a box with containers of rice and a platter of barbecue chicken to last us til' Friday.  WHAT A BLESSING.  

So I totally forgot that the seasons are flipped here, which means the kids are on Spring Break right now.  Everybody is on "holiday" as they call it, even though there aren't any actually holidays during this time.  The students are going into their Term 4 before summer break, which is weird because a new school year has already started in America.  They also refer to grades as years, so basically the schooling here is like Hogwarts, which is pretty legit.  

With summer just around the corner, the weather has started to warm up.  It's getting pretty hot, especially when you're walking around with suit coats on at 1 in the afternoon.  With the heat, literally everybody in the Northern Beaches (the area I serve in is a lot of the coastline with the popular beaches) is at the beach.  Either that or watching the grand rugby final so they're too busy to talk to us.  Rugby is basically life here.  Most people call it footie, so last night, we got a lot of people telling us: "Sorry, we're watching the footie final".  

Tax is included in most of the prices so that makes things a little easier, but it's also a little weird.  They have dollar coins and two dollar coins, but no pennies, and the lowest coin is a five cent coin.  Sometimes, they'll round the price up a couple cents because otherwise you wouldn't get your exact change.  So that's awkward.  

One of the members took us to McDonald's this week, and the menu is pretty much exactly the same, except it's called Macca's here.  And sorry Jaren, no McWallabies.  Maybe it's on the secret menu haha.  However, eating kangaroo is a thing.  I haven't had it yet, and I'm not sure if I want to...

There's 7 Eleven's everywhere, so that's pretty cool.  One weird thing though is a lot of people refer to the Polynesians as Islanders, which is what all the Utah kids called them too.  You'd think in a place with so many Polynesians, they would actually be called Polynesians.  Speaking of, we had dinner with a Tongan family last night and the mom made this drink called otai.  It's basically like a fruity watermelon juice and it was amaaazing.  Greatest drink to break a fast ever.  

So as you all know, last week was a little weird for me.  I wasn't stressed or anything, I think I just really missed America. I loved the MTC, and even though I missed my family and friends, I was still in America.  I tried to break it all down, and I really was just struggling with the transition.  This was the first time I've actually had to move somewhere and it was a struggle.  I spent the week trying to figure out what my purpose was.  I knew my missionary purpose was to help others come unto Christ, but why was I, Elder Muh, called to the Australia Sydney North Mission, to have President Checketts as my mission president, Elder Lamipeti as my trainer, and to serve in the Harbord Ward of the Greenwhich Stake in an area five minutes from the beach?  

As I studied, my mind was brought back to something I learned from Elder Holland in the MTC: everything on the conversion pathway needs to happen to you before it can happen to your investigator.  That was exactly it.  I was there to experience a transition, to feel a change.  I was comfortable in the MTC, and a big city put me out of my comfort zone.  We all know the famous quote that you can only grow when you step out of your comfort zone.  So that's what I've been trying to do.  

Tuesday was the first day I felt like a legit missionary.  We went tracting in Collaroy and the first few houses felt really awkward.  But as we kept going, I felt it get a little easier.  Some of the houses, I didn't know what I was going to say, but when the time came, the Lord put words in my mouth.  Talking to every random person you see on the street is something missionaries just have to do.  Last week, it was definitely tough, but with effort and prayer, that has gotten a little easier as well.  Now I'm just going to say, I've never met so many "aethiests" or people who don't speak English in a week before.  So many people are in a hurry, late for something, or just "too busy" to hear our message.  

This can be discouraging at times, especially when people open the door and then promptly close it before you can even say good afternoon.  It's definitely sad because it is in these times that we need the Lord the most.  We need to recognize that Christ is our Savior, that He loves us and is always there for us.  But rarely does anyone want to hear that.  It feels so good just to have someone open their door and talk to you for a couple minutes.  They don't have to even accept the gospel.  Just to share a little bit of our message or giving them a picture of Christ feels so rewarding.  It makes you feel good inside, that you did your job, and that sooner or later, the Lord will let that person know that the message we shared with them is true.  

This week has been great.  Every week has it's ups and downs, its' good times and bad times.  Dad told me that even the greatest missionaries have a hard time with transitioning and that has been very comforting.  It's good to know that what I've gone through is normal.  But what's even better to know is that I can keep progressing.  I can continue to learn, grow and become a more effective missionary.  And this is just the beginning, I still have tons of time to become better.  With the help of the Lord, all of that is possible.  And that, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.  

Love you heaps,
Elder Muh

Words, Phrases, & Side Notes of the Week: 
- "Cheers" and "no worries", This is basically like saying "shootz" in pidgin 
- "The bush", The country side or the boonies 
- "Carpark", A parking lot 
- "Footpath", Side Walk 
- Phone numbers here are like 75 digits long 
- We had interviews with President and Sister Checketts this week and dang it felt great to speak to Americans.  They knew exactly what I was going through and could totally relate.  But I forgot to take a picture with them AGAIN! 
Elder Lamipeti and I with a coastline view of our area

Some of the goods the Komene family brought over

Pizza delivery bikes