Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tracting and Trade-Offs

To everyone back in the States who celebrates the holiday, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  It's been a little weird thinking that back in America, it's starting to snow, while here in Australia it's "high-30's to low-40's".  And not the high 30's we're used to. 

This week, we didn't have too many appointments, so we've been doing a lot of tracting to find new people to teach.  Close to 85% of the time, it's a real quick rejection or closing of the door, but the times when you can just have a simple conversation with people makes it all worth it.  You aren't gonna be able to teach everybody you meet, but just being able to let people know that Mormon's are real people, giving them a good first touch with the Gospel, or leaving them with a picture of Christ feels very productive.  

Because Elder Lamipeti is District Leader, we have a trade-off with all the Elders in the District.  This week, I went to Greenwich to serve with Elder Arima and then came back to Harbord and served with Elder Galarion.  

Trade-offs are always cool because you serve with a different missionary for the day and you get to learn from the things they do. It's a good reminder of the things you should and shouldn't be doing as a missionary, and also gives you ideas of what you want to take back to your own area.  

The trade-off with Elder Galarion was really cool, because we're both very fresh missionaries.  We actually got here a day apart, so we'll finish the same time.  We had a few appointments scheduled for that day, but planned to do some tracting before them around the area.  We weren't having much success, so we stopped and tried to decide where we could go next.  Elder Galarion does a lot more finding on trains or buses, so he asked where the nearest bus stop was.  We got back on the main road and sat down at the nearest stop, but there weren't too many people there at the time.  I was kinda disappointed because that morning just felt so unproductive, so I said a quick prayer asking to have someone come down and sit next to us that we could talk to.  Sure enough, a couple minutes later, a man sat down and greeted us.  We eventually taught him parts of the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration.  

This experience really helped to strengthen my testimony of prayer.  Now, we won't always receive answers to our prayers this quickly.  Sometimes, we need to wait weeks or maybe even months to receive an answer.  I truly know that the Lord does answer every single one of our prayers.  The problem is sometimes we don't recognize it, or other times, we don't like the answer He gives us.  But I do know, that if we are studying the scriptures, keeping His commandments, and doing the things we need to do, we will be able to receive the answer that we are seeking.  

Love you heaps!
Elder Muh 

- I realized that last week might have been a little confusing.  I was thinking about Alma 26:12 when I gave an explanation for Alma 29:9, so here's the updated analysis: We are instruments, called to do the Lord's work. When we see success, we must glory in God, not ourselves, for it is He that brought us that success in the first place. 
- Alma 34:32
"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."
 - We must do all that we can in this life to prepare for the day that we stand before God.  We know the things we need to do, but sometimes, we need a little reminder.  If we keep on the straight and narrow, always "laboring" to prepare for that day, we will be ready to stand before Him. 

We took the term "from the parking lot" to whole new level.  Literally.

The District



Just casually feeding a parrot in Greenwich

View of Opera House from a ferry

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Very Long Week in the Oven

Quick summary of this week: FIRE EMOJIS.  As some of you may have heard, yes it was deathly hot in Australia this week.  I was expecting hot summers (and I may have spoken too soon with the cool weather and weird rain) but I was definitely not expecting 108 degree weather or whatever the heck 42 degrees celsius converts too! 

Nevertheless, we tried to remain as positive as possible, which was hard to do sometimes when you were knocking on doors looking like you literally just stepped out of the shower.  However, the heat provided us with a few more opportunities through many glasses of water.  

Majority of the people here are very nice.  Even if they aren't interested in the message we have to offer them, they'll still offer us a glass of water.  Veeery nice.  So after being given water, we could slowly slide into a gospel conversation, some of which turned out to be very positive! 

This week was a little slow, especially with the heat, so I'll just share a few miracles that we were able to see this past week.  

First being on Wednesday after an appointment.  We had planned to go tracting, but didn't specify where because it depended on how long our appointment went.  We decided to go on a street just down the hill (one that we had passed a million times biking up the hill) and knock on a few doors.  We got to the street, saw that it was a cul-de-sac, I knew that we needed to go all the way to back and find a house there.  The last driveway opened up into a couple of houses, and we both felt prompted to knock on the door of an older house, one that didn't particularly look like anyone lived in.  

So we go knock on the door a couple times, and we're about to walk away, when a woman named Mary answered the door.  We told her a little bit about what we do, which she was interested in, so we began teaching her briefly the Restoration.  When we got to the Book of Mormon, I knew that I needed to explain to her what the Book was about.  Normally we don't go into too much detail about what the Book of Mormon is, so I was a little surprised to receive this prompting.  

We finished by bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the Book along with the Gospel, to which she replied that she would love to read the Book of Mormon and asked us how much it would cost her.  She also mentioned that she had relatives who were Mormon, but that she'd never heard about anything we had taught her that day.  We left her doorstep with massive smiles after giving her a copy of the Book of Mormon (for free, of course) and scheduling a return appointment for the following week.  

We had been praying to find someone that the Lord had prepared for us and I truly know that Mary was one of those souls that He did prepare for us.  It may have taken a while to find her, but through faith a prayer, we were able to see that miracle happen! 

The second miracle I'd like to share is more of a miracle day actually.  This week, we had a trade off with the zone leaders, and I had the opportunity to serve with Elder Vaughn (an American!) in the Eastwood area near the temple.  We started off the morning with some great studies and a few absolutely amazing role plays that really helped prepare me for the day. 

In preparing for an appointment later in the day, we needed an Arabic copy of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration pamphlet, both of which were in the flat.  Later on, we were able to not only come in contact with a Fijian investigator they had been trying to visit for three weeks with no luck, but we also helped her with her car and taught a SMASH lesson on the Restoration!

It was in this lesson that I gained a huge testimony of teaching simply.  Kelsa, the Fijian woman spoke really good English, but preferred to read in Fijian.  Because of this, we needed to teach very simply so that she could understand the principles of the Restoration.  I truly know that the Spirit guided Elder Vaughn and I during this lesson.  That was the first lesson he and I had taught together, but it flowed so well. We were able to address her concerns and commit her to attend sacrament meeting the following week!  Kelsa is sooo prepared! 

The Zone Leaders share a flat with the Assistants, so I was able to learn a ton from them as well.  Elder Ostler told us to "Love The Lord" as he walked out the door.  Throughout my studies this week, I've been able to realize as well as feel the love that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us.  I am so grateful for all that they have done for us and the love that they continue to provide us every second of our lives.

This week was a little slow, but the miracles I saw this week really strengthened my testimony and helped to confirm why I'm out here serving a mission.  The Holy Ghost is real.  Revelation can be received.  The Spirit does guide.  Miracles can and do happen.  The Church is true.  

Love you heaps!
Elder Muh

- Alma 29:9
"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."
Literally everything we have, do, and say comes from the Lord.  When we come to realize this, we become eternally grateful for everything that He has given us and recognize that He has blessed us with certain talents and skills to carry out His work upon this world.  We must not be prideful about these talents, but rather use them in a manner that will please the Lord.  

This lizard found in someone's yard made me think of Jaren!
It looks like a mini iguana

Sunday, November 15, 2015

This is Sydney

The Australia Sydney North Mission is probably the most diverse mission around the world.  Sometimes, we'll hop on the bus and hear conversations in a good five different languages.  We've met with heaps of Asians, Filipinos, Polynesians, Indians, Nepalese, every culture is probably represented here!  

With that diversity comes a ton of different perspectives.  It's interesting to see how everyone views missionaries, religion, and even the world in general.  A good handful of people we meet are Catholic, who don't want to change but are thankful we're here to "teach those who need Jesus".  Every once in a while, we'll meet an atheist, which I always find hilarious, because I swear they always have the nicest gardens, every single time.  It never fails!  

Then there's those who really don't like Mormons, who always crack me up.  We started talking to this guy at a bus stop, who was clearly disinterested, so we simply told him that God loves him.  We all got on the bus, and he glared at me until he got off.  When he was almost off the bus, he turned and told me to get a real job.  Haha.  Poor guy, I wish he could've seen my face, because I had the biggest smile on.  

The most common misconception when we go out is that we're JW's.  I'm not sure why everyone assumes we are, because you would think our tags would set us apart.  Another one is people think we're cops, especially when we're on bikes.  Some people will back up or get scared as we pass by them.  It's pretty funny.  

Elder Lamipeti and I are very excited for the Christmas season because we can use caroling as a missionary tool.  For the time being, we have decided to practice by singing hymns to people who aren't so interested when we tract.  Now, for those of you that have heard me sing, you know that my voice is terrible.  But man, when we start singing on those porches, the Spirit is so strong, it's amazing.  

One thing I love is Personal Study.  I remember reading the Book of Mormon before my mission and I would lose focus after a couple of chapters.  Being set apart, you are blessed with many things, and one of those is a desire to study and learn more.  The hour we have every morning goes by so quickly, before I know it, it's time to put the Book of Mormon down.  It's so cool finding verses or stories that never stuck out to me in the past.  

Every month, Sister Checketts sends out a newsletter, and this month she included a few things she was thankful for.  I then realized that I wasn't going to be celebrating Thanksgiving for the next two years and thought of a few simple things that I really missed about home, which are WalMart (simple store that has everything), Taco Bell (my favorite fast food that people here have never heard of), Fruity Pebbles (the greatest cereal on earth that Aussies don't know exists), and lastly being basketball (haven't played a pickup game since the MTC :( but we have a ball so I'll go out onto the balcony and dribble during lunch).  

I know all of these things are worldly, but as I was thinking, I thought about all the things I've been blessed with.  The Lord has blessed me with good health so that I could play the sport I love.  He's blessed me with simple things that I probably took for granted before I left.  And finally, he's blessed me with the opportunity to come to Australia for two years to learn, grow, and change for the better.  Not everybody gets the chance to come to a foreign country for two years and teach people about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and all the love they have for us.  What a blessing and privilege that is.  

I've entitled this week's email This is Sydney because the weather the past couple weeks has been all over the place.  One minute it's crazy hot and the next it's raining golf balls.  So I came up with a song sung to the chorus of God Be With You Till We Meet Again:

Sydney, this is Sydney
Where the rain comes randomly 
This is Sydney, this is Sydney
Sydney, home of the random rain

With all the rain, heaps of people we're home so we got to do a ton of tracting this week.  We smashed goals this week as we taught a ton of people a little bit about the message of the restoration, accompanied by a hymn about Christ.  

What a good week it's been.  We visited Piero, sang his favorite hymn in Spanish, had a very good Zone Training Meeting, where we learned about recognizing the promptings from the Spirit, and had a great Sunday in which we both got called on to bear our testimony during Sacrament Meeting due to extra time.  

Hope all is well back in the States!

Love you heaps,
Elder Muh

Words, Phrases, & Thoughts of the Week:
- "Filas", How they call Filipinos here
- "Thanks for calling", Aussie way of saying thank you for visiting/stopping by, even though we didn't actually call them
- The way people say Fiji here is really drawn out and slow, so it sounds like "Fee-gee"
- Everyone calls our bicycles "push bikes" because mopeds and motorcycles are called bikes

- Alma 13:24
"For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory."
- Preach My Gospel shares that we need to find those that will receive us.  The Lord has prepared people everywhere for us to teach.  We have to prepare ourselves to find those people, because when we are prepared, the Lord will allow miracles to happen.  


Pictures don't do enough justice for these views

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Heaps and Heaps of Rain

It's weird to think that it's almost summer here, but it's almost winter in America.  This week, it rained a ton, so we couldn't use our bikes much. It felt like we weren't being productive at all due to all the extra travel walking and by bus.  

On Monday, we got to visit Piero and we watched a video about John Tanner and the faith he had to be healed which eventually led to his baptism.  Piero doesn't know too many songs in English, but he does know "Beautiful Zion, Built Above", so we downloaded the music and sang in Spanish.  It was such a spiritual experience.  On Mondays, we also have a Family Home Evening type lesson with one of the less active families.  They have four young kids, so we have fun planning short little lessons with an activity to keep them entertained. 

I love Wednesdays because our schedule is always packed and productive.  We had Elder Lamipeti's first District Meeting as District Leader and our weekly dinner visit with the Martin's, but the highlight of my day was probably tracting in the rain.  The best time to tract is between 5-7, which unfortunately is the time when everyone is eating dinner, or "tea" as they call it here.  Every time someone says that they're busy with dinner, I'm so tempted to say: "sir, the message that we would like to share with you will feed you for an eternity and bless you and your family with eternal happiness".  

On Friday, we had a joint zone conference at the Hyde Park Chapel in the city which was absolutely amazing.  President Checketts taught us about the worth of souls through three parables in Luke Chapter 15 as well as how we can be more effective missionaries.  He also had our Stake President, President Hamilton, come and teach us how we can work with the members better.  He told us that the best way we can do that is by simply being who we should be.  

After coming up with numerous characteristics of good missionaries, he explained that we don't need to have all of the characteristics to be good missionaries.  We just need to recognize one simple thing and that's described in 3 Nephi 5:13, which reads: "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."  We as missionaries are disciples of Christ, called to preach His word.  I am not here to do the work of Cameron, I'm here to do the work of the Lord.  That's the best thing to remember when the work gets tough: I'm not here for myself, I am here to do the will of the Lord!

Sunday was a pretty long day with a lot of walking, but Piero came to church so it made it all worth it! 

Love you heaps!
Elder Muh

Phrase of the Week:
- Good on you, Often times when we tell people what we do, they basically congratulate us for teaching people about Christ

- Mosiah 27:36
"And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer."
- Similar to the scripture shared by President Hamilton, we are not only disciples of Christ, but instruments in the hand of the Lord.  When we speak by the Spirit, we are not speaking our own words, but the words of the Lord.  It's been really cool to see sometimes where we'll be teaching a lesson and the Spirit is really strong.  I'll have no idea what I'm going to say next, or how I'm going to answer a question, but as I open my mouth, words begin to come out, and I know that it's through the Spirit.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

First Transfer in the Books

Wow.  Days are very long, but weeks fly by, just like in the MTC.  I swear I was just there, but I've already been out in the field for 6 weeks!  

It really gives you a perspective of things.  Everybody says that their mission flew by, but I didn't really believe them until probably Week 4 of last transfer.  If you think about it, you have 17 transfers on your mission, which means 17 planners.  Last night, I finished my first planner and I know that if I keep working to fully forget myself in the work, before I know it, I'm gonna hit my last transfer, like Elder Cecilio from my District.  

Wednesdays are typically our busy day in the area.  We travel out to Greenwich Chapel early in the morning for our district meeting, then travel back for lunch and a few appointments.  We had our usual appointment with the Martin's, which means we get fed a real home-cooked meal!  I always enjoy our Wednesday night appointment with them, we'll start off talking about random things, but it'll always lead back to a gospel topic.  

Every Thursday, we have a weekly planning.  The first couple weeks, I saw it as oh man, another 2-3 hours stuck in the flat.  But over time, I'v been reminded of the importance of planning.  If we don't set goals for the upcoming week, we have nothing to work towards.  If we don't plan out who we want to visit and what we're going to teach them, our week is gonna consist of heaps of tracting.  So the more effective we plan on Thursday, the more effective our week will be.  

We also had the opportunity to give a priesthood blessing to a older lady in the Manly Ward.  The Sisters called us the night before and asked if we could go and give one of their members a blessing, but they didn't really know what for.  When we got there, the lady explained to us what she was feeling and that she knew a blessing would help her.  It was so cool to see how much faith she had in the priesthood, and it really made the Spirit so strong as I gave her that blessing.  

On Friday, we got to visit a lot of people, including an old man named Jack.  He's visited Hawai'i a few times and one of his friends just came back with heaps of Star Advertiser newspapers, so I got to see a Hawai'i newspaper for this first time in 8 weeks! Haha simple pleasures.  

We also got to visit Melissa for the first time in a few weeks.  It was great to see how much she's enjoyed visits from the missionaries in the past, and we're really excited to begin teaching her again.  

Friday night, we had our transfer call, where everybody finds out if they're staying or leaving.  We have good news, we're staying in the Harbord Area (at least until December 13th) and Elder Lamipeti has been called as the District Leader!  

Saturday was a little weird because Halloween is either loved or hated in Australia.  A lot of people dislike it because it's American.  Some streets had tons of kids out and others had nobody.  We went to our Ward Trunk-or-Treat, but then decided to go do some tracting on a street where nobody was trick-or-treating in hopes of being more productive, and we had some quality conversations with people.  

Fast Sunday was great because many of the members got up and bore testimony about the truthfulness of our gospel.  Sundays are tough for me because I have three hours to think about family or the ward back home, but their testimonies really helped to lift me up.  It helped to confirm why I'm here and the work that we do: we as missionaries are here to spread the true gospel to everybody by helping them come closer to Christ.  

Last night, we met with our investigator, Edimur, for the last time.  We're very sad that he's moving, but we know the missionaries up north with help to keep him progressing as he learns more about the gospel.  

Today is the first day of my second transfer, and I'm ready to continue on with the work!  Elder Lamipeti and I have set some high goals and we know that as we work hard to accomplish them, we'll be able to see success.  

Elder Muh 

Word and Phrase of the Week:
- Lift, Elevator
- Give me a buzz, Give me a call

- Just wanted to give a thank you to the Mililani 4th Ward YW for making me the notebook, it's perfect to take notes on all the scriptures I'll be ponderizing! 
- I'd also like to thank Brother Simnitt for the letter he sent me.  In it, he included a verse from 2 Nephi, which is what I'll be ponderizing this week.
- 2 Nephi 11:3
"And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true.Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words."
As Brother Simnitt told me, there are three witnesses for many things.  In this verse, Isaiah, Nephi, and Jacob have all seen Christ and testify of Him.  There were three witnesses for the Book of Mormon.  And lastly, there are three witnesses when we teach: me, my companion, and the Holy Ghost, and that is something I must always remember.  The people we teach shouldn't believe on our word, they should believe after receiving a witness by the power of the Holy Ghost, as spoken about in Moroni 10:3-5.  

Elder Arima and I trying kangaroo

 We found curry!!

Local grindz plus an Aussie favorite: sausage

 Tracting along the Northern beaches of Australia

Sydney Temple

Sydney Temple with Elder Lamipeti and Elder Cecilio who just completed his mission