Sunday, June 24, 2012

Travel to and Arrival in New Zealand


So in the excitement of finally getting here I didn't really prepare myself for intense culture shock!!! This place is NUTS! I don’t even know where to begin... Anywhoo, Mom, I will try to answer most all of your questions. YES it was super tough to leave Missouri!  A lot of investigators and people we were working with were pretty upset too. The members were super awesome to me and I got fed like I had never been fed before, especially by the Olamelavas (the Samoan family in our ward). My favorite was the Kae Kae Poas (I think that’s what they are called) anyways…they are pretty much just dinner rolls with a bunch of meat cooked in the middle... I was in heaven! I also acquired my very own Lava Lava from them. It’s blue and it looks sooo sweet! I wore it as jammies Friday night (my last night in Missouri) and boy was it comfy. Also, the night before I left, Austin Smith came over ( a priest I was really tight with). He even brought his non member friend and we sat outside and had a good discussion till about 10:20.  I also got him to admit that I was the coolest missionary ever. :) So yeah, leaving had its ups and downs!  I also got a mission pin and binder from President Keyes. He said he normally doesn't give them out to visa waiters but that I earned mine staying for 5 months and working hard.

Elder Ward and Elder Adams meet up in LA on the way to New Zealand.
So anyways, Saturday I flew down from Kansas City to Texas that was about from 10:30 to 1 then from Texas to Los Angeles from 3 to 5:30 and then it was the craziest thing when I got to Los Angeles airport. I was in terminal 6 and I figured out I had to take a bus to get to terminal 2.  So I eventually found the bus... and when we stopped by terminal 5 ELDER ADAMS (one of Connor’s roommates in the MTC) hops on!!! So yeah, me, him, and 3 other elders and a sister met up with 3 senior couples. We waited for our flight until 9:45 p.m. and then embarked on our 13 hour journey... The plane ride by the way terrible!! I slept an hour... MAYBE! There was at least 3 babies crying and they had these video screens and everybody had them on super bright and then the people I was sitting next to were chomping on gum really loud and I was in my suit which got really hot. I'm not really one to complain about minor details, but boy I seriously almost had an anxiety attack on that plane... It didn't help that I didn't have a chance to read scriptures that day, which for sure played a huge part in making it tough.

Now when we arrived…luckily I made it okay with all my bags and got checked through customs alright and I met my mission president and his wife. I love them to death already! They are super young they are almost as old as you mom and dad! They both have neat Aussie accents which probably won’t be too big of a deal to me in about a week or so because my new companion is from Australia! In fact everyone in my district is not from America... Weird huh? The first thing we did though was go to One Tree Hill with the AP's and the mission president and his wife. We got to see a lot of New Zealand and MAN!!! Then we went straight to the mission office, had interviews, and discussed mission policies and stuff like that! It turns out that this mission’s goal is to baptize 2012 people…one everyday! I love everything sooo much! There are a few differences that hopefully won’t be too hard to adjust to like being on bikes... but I'll tell you the culture and being thrown into this so fast makes me feel like a brand new missionary all over again! Also, it’s super crazy driving on the opposite side of the road… haha. They even busted in Elder Adams driving his first day on a 4 hour car trip to his area. So yeah, I’m REALLY tired!! I’m goin on 30 hours straight now of no sleep I think, but I will probably be more coherent and can give you a ton more detail about the mission and stuff next week once I actually figure out what’s going on! I have pictures to send but I have bad news... I have 2 cameras right?  The only things I forgot in Missouri were the chargers to those 2 cameras... It’s okay though I will probably just have Elder Taylor mail me them with whatever else I forgot if there was anything else.

Family, I love you so much and I really hope that I can remember to pray for you guys all the time. I know this is sad to admit, but a lot of times I get so caught up with the work and stuff like that I forget about what matters the most to me... YOU GUYS! I know you’re supposed to lose yourself in the work, but I’m sorry to admit that I forget to pray for you guys sometimes... So as much as I don’t like to admit that, I do however like to admit that everytime I teach about how the gospel blesses families and how they can live together forever, I am so grateful for the family I have back home that probably always remembers to pray for me. Be safe in Park City and Happy Birthday bro! It's crazy your b-day is in 2 days! 3 days for you, but that’s okay…I will just celebrate your birthday without you.

1 day into the future Elder Ward

P.S. I have been getting better at remembering to pray for you guys back home! Once again I love you a ton. I also forgot to mention something, but now I can’t really think of what it was I wanted to mention. But yeah…our flat (apartment) is sweet. It seriously just feels like a tiny version of the beach house in California or something quite similar to it. I promise I will try to send pictures next week I actually went and bought a card reader of my own in the airport for 20 bucks just so I can actually send pictures a lot easier.

p.s.s. I think you should also receive an email from my mission president’s wife with the picture on top of One Tree Hill where my face is completely covered! I didn't want to get in Sister Porter’s way! So yeah… pray for me big time this week even though it will be hard to pray as a family consistently on vacation. I will need it big time. Be good and give the Tanners my LOVE if you see them in Park City.  Thanks for everything…BYE!

New Zealand....Finally!!!

We received a phone call from Connor on Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. to tell us he was on his way to the airport with his mission president.  His visa finally arrived and he was headed to New Zealand!!!  We got to talk to him for a little while and to his mission presdent since we were on speaker phone.  He was so excited!  We got this quick e-mail from Connor about 30 hours later when he arrived in New Zealand on Monday morning (Sunday midday for us). 

Hey…just sending a quick message letting you know that I made it to New Zealand... OH MY GOODNESS it is beautiful! I will probably have time to email you later this week but this has to be quick.


Elder Ward
Alexa and Connor (He taught her in Missouri)
Connor in Missouri with Elder Taylor and the Zone Leaders

Monday, June 18, 2012


Well Happy Father’s Day!

This one is going out to YOU and Mom of course, but just be glad I took a little time to add your name to the send list. Soooo… I was thinking what would be best to send my daddy for father’s day and well... my best conclusion was to just put a lot of effort into the letter you wanted me to write to your young men. So, I hope that makes you feel special that I know that the best gift I could possibly give you is a letter to help some of the people you care about MOST, besides the Savior and your family of course. Your a good man pops and I love you a ton. Thank you for being a worthy priesthood holder and being good to mom. I, Elder Ward, have been born of goodly parents not “a” goodly parent but yes two… a great mom and a dad.

This week actually I had a really cool experience. Elder Taylor and I have been trying to help a guy named Cameron Martinez get his eagle project. To explain a little… Cameron is the son of an Internagator (eternal investigator). Mainly, it’s just been me trying to  help because I bore my testimony on the power of getting your eagle done in a few weeks... (he turns 18 Saturday) and they only have Queen Scouts in Canada ( what a weird country) anywho…we have been helping him to help us build a relationship with Cameron and if we can teach and baptize him, his Mom will surely follow. Anyways, we have been helping a ton, and one day we went over to discuss project details and Crystal (Cameron’s mom) answers the door with tears in her eyes. She told us that she and Cameron had just got in a fight and she was really frustrated and tired of being a single mom. She said that she just prayed to have a man come into her life not really for her, but for the family, and me and Elder Taylor kinda just looked at each other... we didn't really say anything to that, but we are making good ground work and the project should get done this Thursday.

Anyways, Elder Taylor and I are getting a TON of work done. Our Zone leaders did accountabilities on Sunday (asking for numbers for lessons taught, new investigators, and what knot). Anyways…they had to ask if the numbers we reported were just our own as a companionship or if they were for the whole entire district including the other 2 sets of missionaries. This transfer has flown by! I've learned the harder we work, the faster the time goes by and the happier I am personally. Oh, and the more people we find, teach, and baptize.

This week we went to go visit some recent investigators named Katie and Joey and we brought a new member to the ward with us.  At first Katie was wondering what the heck he was doing in her house, but we had an awesome lesson on the Plan of Salvation. It took 2 hours!!! They had so many good questions and loved every second of it! Katie even said, “You know, ALL of this just makes sense!!! “

So this letter will be a little jumbled but also I need to mention... I got Zach’s letters you mailed to me and MAN!!! I realize now just how crazy it must be getting letters from me and other missionaries. He is like a new person! Missions sure do change people and he is still just a baby conceived in the MTC! I can't wait to see him born into Maryland. Funny thing is it might be frustrating for him because there probably won’t be a whole lot of Maryland Baltimore Spanish speakers, so I think in some areas Zach will only be allowed to teach Spanish speakers... everyone else he might have to hand over to other missionaries (I’m not for sure, but that’s how it is for the Spanish elders in the MIM.)

Good news…Bob Lamb, the older guy I think I mentioned last week, has committed to be baptized July 7th! We had a sweet lesson with him. We watched the Joseph Smith video and read 3 Nephi 11 and explained he didn't need to worry about being to wishy washy on which church to join but to just follow Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God.

We met with Brother Nichols and I was almost brought to tears when I told him I might leave within a few weeks... He expressed his gratitude and thanked me for being his friend. I told him I didn't do much and he stopped me and just told me how grateful he was for helping him get on the right track... That brought me the same JOY mom has been reading about in Alma.

I love you guys so much and I am going to try and send some pictures. Oh and Mom I still have my card. I think I will be okay for now.

God Speed,
Elder Ward

p.s. Wipe those tears away mom I forgot to mention the funny things that happened this week. #1 we killed one of our investigators cats... 2 weeks ago it got let out when her 11 year old daughter opened the door to tell us her mom (our investigator) was sleeping. We saw that it got out and after a little effort trying to get it to go back in I just told Elder Taylor to let it go... This week we talked to her and she was a little down in the dumps and then she started to mention how her cat is probably dead... Elder Taylor and I silently agreed to not speak of it and we did our best not to laugh or cry in fear. So that goes to show the importance of keeping your appointments with the missionaries.

p.s.s. So the zone leaders pranked us... they stole our sheets got them wet and threw them in the freezer!!! So the next day late at night at 8:45, Elder Taylor grabbed sand from the courts nearby the ZL's house dumped it in there shower and did a few other not so kind things. On the way home I started to feel a little bad, but then I saw their car and they got us again too! They Stole ALL OF OUR LIGHTS!!! We both had a good laugh but we decided to call it a truce from now on.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Dear family,

Welll.... you guys had a super bomb time in California it sounds like! I need to know if those California club teams were pretty good? Did Collin’s team still trash them? Haha.. my favorite story was about Ava getting small ears. Jared that little punk and his small ears. :) I could totally see him doing that, and after showing me his ears I think I would be convinced too. Dad didn't write me but that’s okay... Not a whole lot of people do :)
(He did write him…he was just a little late.)
This week though….my goodness….was soooo eventful!

Monday was kinda a bummer p-day. We wasted a lot of time because I had to go to Independence to go get signatures from the radiologist and get everything mailed away and stuff. However, we did play rugby and it was a ton of fun! I love it! It is pretty fun playing with people that are experienced and know what they are doing (we have a pretty athletic zone) and Elder Felila coaches us. He is going to play rugby for France after he is done with his mission.

Tuesday: Nothing tooo special happened so I won’t mention much.

WEDNESDAY: However, Wednesday was NUTS... K so you remember how last week I was just superdy duper bummed out about Mindy and Alexa??? Well, I've been praying HARD CORE. You’re right mom…the Lord’s not given up so neither am I. Anyways, we went over to this “Elderly” home just across the street from Mindy's to go offer service and find an eagle project idea for a guy named Cameron who we’re trying to help motivate get his eagle. (He and his family aren't members but they will let the missionaries come over whenever they want, and oh yeah, this kid turns 18 at the end of the month. I bore my testimony that it is possible to get it done in a month ;)) Anyways though…back to the elderly home….we tried getting inside but the place is always on lockdown and you need someone to buzz you in like a resident. Anyways, after we realized we couldn't get in, I started heading towards the car and Elder Taylor asked if we should go try Mindy's. I was bummed out because they hadn't answered calls, texts, or the door for the past few days.  In my discouragement I said, “I don’t know”.  After some encouragement, we turned around and knocked on the door a couple times... no answer. I prayed again in the car with my heart slowly sinking. Anyways the phone rang and it was a member offering to feed us that night (Brother Dinneny). I started talking to him and after 2 minutes a car passes and then turns around and pulls up to our car.  It was MINDY’S MOM (Grandma Kim)!!! I pretty much just hung up on Brother Dinneny. Anyways, it turned out Mindy went to prison and Mindy’s old ex boyfriend came back and kicked them out of the house. A big series of events happened, but the scariest part was that gGrandma Kim asked us to go pound on the door and talk some sense into Greg, the (need I remind you) 350 pound ex UFC fighter whose fists are registered as weapons. We obeyed. Long story short…I KNEW that somehow, someway the Lord had His hand in everything that went down and I’m sorry I don’t really know how to express this story in full detail, but I definitely feel the same exact way Nephi did in 2nd Nephi 33:3. (GO READ IT!) I’m still not sure how it’s all going to turn out still, but I have faith. :) THEY WILL BE BAPTIZED!!!

Also still on Wednesday, we met with Tabitha and Mike again. I dont know if you remember them??? Anyways, we had a sweet lesson re-teaching the restoration and really focusing on priesthood authority! Halfway through though I stopped right before teaching about Joseph Smith (again) and started talking about Mathew 16:19 and the priesthood to seal ETERNAL families in the temple. I gave them a picture and they started to hold hands as we discussed further. :) MAN IT WAS SWEET! Oh and I forgot to mention they are a family of 6!!! MONEY!!! The 4 kids are still in Ohio but they will be back after the summer.

Thursday:  We have been taking a lot of priests out with us and we even go to priest quorum on Sundays! Anyways, we took out a guy named Jacob Arnett and we had a sweet day! Remember the elderly home you need someone to buzz you in? We befriended a lady who lives there and hates the management and have taught her a couple times. Anyways she secret agent style buzzed us in and we were able to sneak attack an investigator who kept putting us off. We had a sweet lesson with him and even got him to church on Sunday! Oh yeah his name is Bob Lamb and he is 70.  Anyways, Jacob was super pumped and excited cuz I’m serious it was just an all around adrenaline rush sneaking in, actually getting let in by Bob, and then TEACHING WITH DA SPIRIT! After we left we were just super pumped. We worked for another hour or so and then 10 minutes before Jacob had to be home we had to go reward him his blessings (McDonald’s ice cream cone or frosties…my super strategy for encouraging priests to come out). We tried to get dipped chocolate cones but they failed big time so I just offered to take 3 cherry berry smoothies instead which were twice as expensive. They obliged! I also managed to grab 1 of the dipped cones they happened to do right before they threw it away. On our way out to the car I said "Jacob See?! Missionary work earns you blessings!"

Friday we did exchanges! I went to go work with Elder Taufa again in his area! It was sooo much fun! It was hilarious too! Some of the members we visited we told them that one of the Elders had left (he was going to be aspecial assignment missionary). Their eyes would light up smile and say really?! Haha at the Vances they have 3 little girls and 1 boy. We went to their house at the very end of the day to eat ice cream with them and they all remembered me because I played tag with them last time we exchanged over. Elder Taufa told them the same thing and all of them were sooo excited it made me feel bad. When we were about to leave all the girls were telling me "please don’t go!" They were such a sweet family. I’m gonna miss them.

This is kinda long... but this week WAS AWESOME! Elder Taylor and I got a ton of work done and had a lot of success. We had a lot of people at church and I loved spending Sunday with the priest quorum sharing insights and stuff with the lesson. It made me feel more at home like I was in our own priest quorum. The young men’s president loves us and we’re defintely building a great relationship with the ward.

BE good, enjoy Arizona… oh you gotta tell me how hot is it there now?

Elder Ward

p.s. I forgot a story…there was a crazy storm last night with lightning and thunder that shook the house!!! It woke me and Elder Taylor up at 3 in the morning and we watched it for awhile because the lightning was hitting the ground a ton! It was crazy!

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Serving With All My Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength

Dearest family,

So let me start this letter with a story. So Elder Jensen is a sweet Elder and a really good missionary, but he is hilarious because he loves wakeboarding a ton! Anyways, there are a lot of lakes in this area and everytime Elder Jensen passes one he gets really trunky and lets out a big AWWWHHH MANNNN! It's a pretty funny inside joke we have. So when I heard about the volleyball team playing in Huntington Beach, all I could help to do was let out a big AWWWWHHHH MANNNN! What did they even do to deserve this California trip again? Well the Trek sounded awesome and I'm glad Aubrey had a good birthday! When I woke up June 1st the first thing I thought was OH YEAH happy birthday Aubrey! I sang for her while Elder Taylor was in the shower.

My time is a little short today, so I will kinda need to go fast. This week was not easy... remember how Elder Bills and I had 7 people on date for baptism like 3 weeks ago. Well now were down to 2. Alexa and Mindy are slipping further and further away, Farah won’t talk to us, and well a lot of stuff is just falling apart. I got pretty down on myself this week because a lot of investigators just started falling through the woodwork and I did EVERYTHING ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I could think to do to help. Anyways though, even though a lot went wrong this week, a lot also went right. Elder Taylor and I WORKED HARD!!!  We taught 40 lessons this week. We found a ton of new investigators and just did a whole lot of good, but the best part was this week I was in tears as I prayed to my Heavenly Father about Alexa and Mindy.  That night I was really tired and I found an answer to my prayer. When I woke up the next morning, I hadn't remembered what I had written and a lot of it was about the week and stuff like that, but I had written at the very end that I WILL SEE ALEXA AND MINDY IN THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM!...really big and in all caps. I have so much faith that whether it's me or some other person in the future, the Lord will answer my many prayers on there behalf.

I also kinda got really down on myself because I realized that I am a quarter of the way through my mission, and I have only baptized 1 person. I know that numbers don’t matter but I remembered in some blessing that I would convert many. So anyways, I was getting down on myself for that too, but then I read PMG chapter 1 and read what makes a successful missionary. Mom, Dad, family, everyone, I promise I’m trying to become the best that I can be. I’m serving with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I know it doesn't matter how many people I baptize, just as long as I’m doing EVERYTHING THAT I CAN DO.

So this letter is weird I know, but I really couldn't be happier! I HOPE YOU KNOW THAT!!! Here are some of the sweet things that happened this week. We took out a priest with us named Tauivi.  He is hilarious and we got him to tract and knock on doors with us! He embarrassed himself sometimes but he did really good, and we helped him get a whole lot better too. I got my Adventure Time painting, someone gave me a Missouri Tigers shirt, a Michael Jordan North Carolina Bball jersey, and a “for dummies” bobble head thingy.

This letter is stinky but I gotta go. I have to go get one last signature today for my visa application because the radiologist was lame and didn’t sign it right! So it will probably be another month before I get to New Zealand now, but that’s okay.


Elder Ward

p.s. Once again, for a third time, I’m sorry if this letter was a downer at all. I can’t stress enough that even though it was a little hard this week the Lord is helping me soooooo much and I don’t think I've been happier in my whole life.

p.s.s. We had ward conference and president Keyes had us read 3 Nephi 11 and I think in verse 15 it says…”then Nephi rose up” (he changed that to all the elders names and I put my name in there instead) and then Elder Ward rose up. I'm so glad I’ve risen up and been set apart for 2 years to preach the gospel! I know this church is true and tell Trevor I’m sorry. I will respond next week.