Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Central Coast Christmas

What a week!  It's been awesome.  Christmas was great.  In the excitement of it all, I forgot that it was Week 6.  We had transfer call on Christmas Eve and I got called to train again!  So unfortunately another one and done transfer.  Serving with Elder Usua has been awesome and extremely humbling as well.  So grateful for all the experiences we've had.

Tuesday was probably the most productive day we've had all transfer.  After personal and companionship study, we do language study as well and then have lunch after that, so we don't leave the flat until after 12 each day.  This leaves us feeling pretty sluggish some days and it's hard to start the day firing.  But Tuesday was different.  The first person we planned to visit answered the door and gave us a glass of water.  From there, we just kept rolling.  We also shared a #LightTheWorld card with a very healthy 94-year old lady.  I'm pretty confident she'll hit the hunnid'.  

We had a pretty good Christmas focused DTM on Wednesday.  Elder Usua trained about the why behind Christmas, focusing on the New Testament side, and I trained on the Book of Mormon side of the Birth of Christ.  And then we had a potluck of sorts afterwards.  The Sisters came in clutch, bringing chicken schnitzel and some smash potatoes.  

I'll share a few random thoughts before proceeding to the joy of Christmas.  Number one, Australians love to shorten words.  They'll do it anytime they can do so, and most of them are pretty cool.  Unfortunately one of those words is Christmas, and some people had a good "Chrissy" this year.  It was sad to me because here we are trying to share His Light, meanwhile others are taking away the very meaning behind the greatest time of the year.  Secondly, a lot of churches here have notice boards out front and the messages they put up are usually quite amusing.  However, one did stand out to me this week.  It said: "take the joy of Christmas with you everyday".  Imagine that.  If everyone was this happy and family oriented all year round, we'd have a pretty dang good world.  Soon.  But for now, we'll have to settle for a month or so of joy.  

On Christmas Eve, we went and did some service for a semi-active lady who is preparing to move soon.  She has a lot of stuff and we'll probably be back there to help this week too.  As we were moving some things around on her property, I thought back to the good ole days when we'd go to the water park on Christmas Eve and listen to UH playing in the Sheraton on the way home.  I remember Jaren and I running up stairs having the time of our lives and talking about how awesome that Christmas would be.  And in that moment of pushing a stack of boxes down a gravel pathway, I realized that I could experience that same joy, especially in the service of others.  So, even though it was a bit hot, I really did, enjoy service that day.  

That night, we had dinner with our Stake President's family (the Dunn's) and the Hutchinson's.  It was fun to spend time with their families, listen to Christmas music, and share traditions.  Also, if you cook it right, kangaroo is really good.  

Sunday was sweet as.  The Christmas Sacrament Meeting was pretty packed and it was cool to have the choir sing various carols.  We spent the rest of the day at the Wilson's, where we had croissants, fruit, and yogurt for brunch and a Swedish style dinner, embracing Sister Wilson's culture.  Brother Wilson is teaching us how to play the didgeridoo, which you can make on your own with a bit of pvc pipe.  I am currently very confused trying to train myself to circular breathe.  Haha.  The Skype call was awesome, thank you for all the great questions and love.  So good to see everyone after just emails every Monday.  A family in the Ward also gave us a massive ham after church.  So if anyone has good ham recipes, please let me know!  The new comp and I will be living off of it this week.  

Sorry this email is so massive.  It's about to get longer.  I'll finish with a Christmas poem President Checketts shared with us last week that I really enjoyed.  

Twas the first night of Christmas a long time ago,
The hillside was peaceful, the moon was aglow.
The world couldn’t know from what happened before,
That men would remember this night evermore.
The sheep on the hillside—their days journey over,
We’re dreaming sweet dreams of a field full of clover.
The shepherds were watchful while guarding their flock,
The earth was their pillow, the stars were their clock.
Then all of a sudden, they jumped at the sight
Of the sky all ablaze with a heavenly light.
They huddled in fear, then they started to rise
As the lightening-like flash tore open the skies.
The heavens were split by the silvery ray.
The dark disappeared and the night became day.
And lo, at the end of the rainbow of light
Appeared then an angel to banish their fright.
The angel brought news of a birth in a manger
And bade them to hasten to welcome the stranger.
For Mary had just given birth to a boy
Whose coming would bring so much comfort and joy.
A choir of angels looked down from the sky
And heavenly voices were heard from on high:
Peace be on earth and good will to all men.
The Savior has come on this night, Amen.
The heavenly angels then faded from sight.
The sky once again turned from day to night.
The shepherds all quietly rose from the ground,
And hurried to go where the child would be found.
As they reached Bethlehem and the inn was in sight
From the barn came a trickle of half-hidden light.
It led like a path to a soft little bed
And shone very tenderly on a child’s head.
The child in the manger was sleeping so sound,
His eyes were still closed, as the shepherds stood round.
From that instant of grace on that night long ago
Thousands of years would be warmed by the glow.
Guided by light from a bright shining star
Came a pilgrimage led of three kings from afar.
They were dressed in the finest of satins and lace.
Their complexions were that of an Orient race.
The three wealthy kings were wise men and proud
But they went to the Christ child and solemnly bowed.
They came bearing treasures of incense and gold
To that sweet little child, still not very old.
The star in the sky twinkled down from above,
The world was awakened to kindness and love.
The past was forgotten, the future was bright,
And the spirit of Christmas was born on that night.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and will enjoy the upcoming New Year.  Talk to you in 2017! 

Love you heaps,
Elder Muh  

Cool dude.  His last name was Cameron.  Would make a sick tie, sherbet and blue plaid.  

Our little Christmas corner in the flat

Taught him how to make spam musubi and he loved it.  We made some again last night.  
Thank you to Sister Perez for sending the supplies!  

 "O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life." (Jacob 6:11)

Moving day

 I believe this is a maple?  They've been in all 3 of my areas and I love shooting them. 

Nephi's brothers didn't recognize him when he returned with the brass plates.  
Neither did these cows.  Still love the fam though.  

 Christmas brekkie: Fruity Pebbles, glorious POG, and li-hing candies 

 Aloha ties with Damien (YSA returned missionary)

 Central Coast Stadium, home of the Mariners (pro soccer team)

 BYU gear for days.  THANKS HEAPS! 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Like a Fire is Burning

The temple lights we're pretty cool.  It was Monday, so there were a number a families there for FHE.  I actually got to talk with Sister Manewell from the Harbord Ward!  The Elders in our Zone, 5 companionships strong because the Newcastle missionaries couldn't come, sang all the Christmas hymns we knew and then went into some of the American ones we knew like Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Jingle Bells.  We actually got a request to sing Jingle Bells again haha.  

Now, for Christmas Conference.  MAN.  We've never met as a mission before, so opening up was incredible.  We started with a few recitations and Christmas hymns and it legit felt like we were in the MTC again.  Way powerful.  I was in my third transfer last Christmas Conference, so I didn't know a lot of missionaries, but this year was a lot different.  Heaps cool to reunite with past companions and missionaries I've served around.  Also, Finding Dory was not bad at all.  

President Checketts shared a few things for us to take away before we went into the program.  The first was the 2 G's of The Season: give and gratitude.  It definitely is great to get during this time of year, but the most joy is found in giving and reflecting on the things we are most grateful for (Thanksgiving).  He was also very excited to share one of the revelations he received during a High Priest meeting.  I'm sure you'll all have a laugh about it.  "If you want to have a Merry Christmas, make sure Mother is happy.  If you want to have a Happy New Year, make sure Dad is without debt".  

The rest of the week wasn't as exciting as the first two days of the week, but we still had some fun.  We joined the ZL's for a service project where we emptied out their enclosed patio and power washed it all down.  We then proceeded to visit those the other Elders had been working with and the names from Bishop and Brother Newling.  On Saturday, a single sister and her kids moved to a new house with a pretty steep driveway and some solid stairs.  We got a pretty dang good workout helping there.  Hopefully by the time I finish my mission, I'll be experienced enough to move as well.  Haha.  

Good times.  Less than a week until Christmas.  It also already Week 6 somehow, so we should be having transfer call on Christmas Eve.  Not too sure if P-Day will be on Monday (yup, Boxing Day is pretty big here) or Tuesday yet.  So, Merry Christmas to all if we don't have P-Day until Tuesday!  

Love you heaps!
Elder Muh

Elder Tito and Elder Kumar (all three of us have been comps) 

Elder Leota (thank you for the tie that I'm wearing) 

 Elder Fa'asipa is heading home this week
 (I'll be holding down the fort for us #808 Elders until we get another one!)

 We actually slept at Elder Lamipeti's flat after the temple lights on Monday.  
Great walk down memory lane (my first companion)

President and Sister Checketts got us all with this "iPad announcement".  We are, however, having a Worldwide Missionary Broadcast for the second year in a row next January though, so that'll be way good. 

After a relatively warm first half of the week, we woke up to some rain on Thursday and Friday.  Normally you can see straight into the mountains and across the peninsula, but it got pretty foggy.  I was pretty excited because it totally felt like Christmas in Hawaii.  We just needed some music!

Had to stop and snap these shots during the rain

 We visited a less-active this week who grew up in Seattle but married an Australian who played for the BYUH tennis team.  She misses a lot of American foods and was so kind to bless us with... This. 

And then there were two

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Farewell Tour

After P-Day last week, we had dinner with our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Newling.  He and his wife live in a really nice house that overlooks Killcare Beach.  On a clear day, you can see the city from their balcony.  Pretty sick.  They've been in the Ward for a while, and he's served as Bishop before, so he knows a lot of the less-actives and has a good vision as to who we should visit and work with most heavily.  Just another great reason to love this Ward.  

We've been trying something a bit new the past couple weeks where if we don't have appointments, all four of us will knock the same street.  We've given each other little challenges like how many cups of water we can get. It's actually been pretty fun. 

I've never "killed" (the mission term for being the last companion a missionary serves with before going home) a companion, so this is the first time I've really been around an Elder finishing.  It was cool to go #LightTheWorld finding with Elder Leota and ask him about things he's learned.  The biggest thing I picked up is just keep it simple and have fun with it.  The best way to enjoy tracting is to not be so serious and by making people laugh.  We got to this one door and it had a plaque that read: "on this site in 1829, nothing happened".  We nearly died laughing and were ready to ask them about it.  Unfortunately nobody was home, so we'll have to go back sometime soon.  

Little update on Dave: he's getting there.  The dude has a big desire to change and turn his life around, but is nervous to take that step.  I think it's pretty cool that he does have a solid belief in God, when many people out here don't.  It's what will keep him moving.  

So tonight we head down to Carlingford to work the temple lights with our Zone.  It should be pretty sick (cool).  The Elders will be singing carols and the Sisters will give the tours on the inside.  Please pray that we sound good.  Haha.  Tomorrow, we kick it over to Mount Druitt for our Christmas Conference and I am stoked as to see past comps.  Elder Ta'ala (my long lost twin) is headed to Harbord to serve with Elder Stockman (one of our ZL's) for his last transfer for at least the next two weeks. We are now down to one companionship in the Gosford Ward and a two man flat.  Hence my Final Four inspired pictures that will be up this week and next.  

Aight aight.  Hope y'all are enjoying the snow or cold weather and Christmas movies.  Someone watch Home Alone for me!  Also, Coles (one of the grocery stores here) has egg nog and I'm thinking about buying a small carton to get a bit festive.  We'll see if Elder Usua likes it.  Hope everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit! 

Love you heaps,
Elder Muh 

 Post-dinner with the Newlings.  In case you were wondering, Elder Usua is holding a mango.  They had a friendly debate about whether mangoes are better here or in Vanuatu.  

Good DTM about the Character of Christ.  Let us turn outward as Elder Bendar taught! 

Conference quotes take 2 

 Quick break in Green Point

And then there were four

#Light the World

This week, we had our ZDTM, which is a District Meeting with the training given by the Zone Leaders.  We're blessed to have them in our District, but for the other 2 Districts in the Zone, that's one of the few times they get to see them during the transfer.  

They gave a really good training on narrowing down where most of our success comes from and then invited us to tap into those success spots even more.  The second part of their training was pretty interactive and worked on helping each other to overcome fears.  We used an American football and each ran a route, and then ran a route with a bag full of hymn books on.  The idea was you could still catch the ball with the backpack on, but it was much harder.  If we can push away our fears, success is more likely to occur.  

The rest of the week was pretty much finding for us.  We've been trying to use the Christmas initiative out tracting because 'tis the season.  I'd say our conversations at the door have been lasting a little bit longer than usual, but we haven't found any new investigators with it yet.  Many Australians are anti religion or just don't care, but we have had some pretty effective conversations with Christians, especially young families with decorations up.  It always fascinates me though when some believers here say they don't talk about their religion.  I guess I've grown up with the knowledge of eternal progression and how sharing our testimony will always strengthen our faith.  Maybe that's just not taught in other churches.  Oh well.  

The week ended on a great day yesterday with Fast Sunday and some good visits.  We had dinner with the Hutchinson's, the only full American family in our Ward.  She made cornbread and I didn't realize how much I loved that stuff.  It's probably been close to 15 months since I've had it!  They're a real cool family.  They have 2 little daughters that totally remind me of the Primary kids back home.  

So this is Elder Leota's last full week on the mission.  We'll go on trade-off this week, and I'll try to learn as much as I can from him.  Our Ward Christmas party is this Saturday as well, so good stuff in store.  We'll keep sharing our light and I hope you will too!  Chur!

Love you's heaps,
Elder Muh 

Went back to the Skillion beach after emails last P-Day

Dinner at the Eley's:  view from their porch  
(if we could send videos, we have some feeding bacon to kookaburra's)