Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Greatest Gift for Another Mom

Dearest Whanua,

Sorry I just need to point something out real fast... Mom is going crazy doing a million and one different things and it's her birthday today and she still manages to pop off a real letter to her missionary son... Sorry either all you guys are sad or Mom just has some kind of super powers! I think it's a little bit of both. :) Anyways… HHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY BBBBBBIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

Good job you did it mom! Haha…we just sang happy birthday to President Kennedy (a guy in the stake presidency) at our zone breakfast today. He was turning 69 today... just around the corner mom, just around the corner... jokes. Well, I will be honest…even though I will have absolutely no problem admitting that I am a true blue Momma's boy I Live it! I Know it! I Love it!!! :) I am sad to admit that I completely forgot that it was your birthday today, so say sorry to the family because most of this letter should be just for you today. In all seriousness I have no idea how you do everything you do. I sure do hope that the family has appreciated everything you have done the past few weeks, and I really do think of you as some kind of super hero. Haha it just seems like your kryptonite is speeding tickets. :) 19 in a 15!!! What were you thinking?! You could have killed someone! :)

So mom, I didn't really get you anything but I will do my best to send you a picture of a mom and her kids that we were able to baptize this weekend. I think it's really cool that even though I wasn't able to give anything to my mom I was able to help give another mom one of the greatest gifts that can be offered. Her name is Kanahana Tamangarangi Taiaroa. I have talked about her a little, but man she is so cool! We found her about a month and a half ago when I still had Elder Tafiti with me. I knew she was important, so every time we had an appointment set with her I would do my best to plan heaps of appointments to do splits with other missionaries. :) Anyways, at first she didn't think we would come back. She didn't really believe in God and she never prayed before in her life. Over time through awesome spiritual experiences, she gained a testimony of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and stopped smoking, drinking, etc. This week her and her 2 kids, Miami and Kaniehana, got baptized. This, by far, was my favorite baptism. We planned to have Pita King there to fellowship baptize all of them, but the youngest Kaniehana asked me to do hers. The two kids went first and Kanahana (the mom) was so happy she couldn't help but clap. She experienced so much joy that day…it was priceless! Confirmation day was pretty sweet too! Even though I failed big time pronouncing their crazy Maori names :), the spirit was felt really strong by everyone.

You don’t know how much I miss having a mommy. Without a doubt and whenever I get asked what I miss the most, I don't hesitate to answer my mom... or sleep…haha. No, just kidding, I say mom. Anyway…whether it's washing my stinky clothes, making dinner, or even telling me I need to go shower, I don't think anyone has made as big as an impact on my life as you mom. Haha… I especially missed you this morning when I had issues from the lack of eating any fruit.  I can't remember when I've eaten fruit last. Sorry that is probably just going to make you worry, but in all seriousness my first thought was…Dang!...Mom would be giving me such a hard time on this right now. Haha…it probably wouldn't have happened in the first place. Don't worry though.  I'm fixing the problem today.  I am going to go out and buy like 6 bags of oranges.


Haha…I just read dad’s letter. All is excused since you were trying to help mom out. BUT YOU BETTER REPENT!!! Anyways, I just want to let the family know that they need to go hug mom and let her know just how much they appreciate her whether its for being a good example, cleaning everything, doing laundry, loving you, making good food, or just helping keep your bowels in check.  LET HER KNOW!!!! From the words of Thomas S. Monson quoting William Shakespeare, "They do not love... who do not show their love." Also, he encouraged us to never assume that someone knows that we love them... we should let them know. I love my family so much and, MOM, I love you too and no matter what you think YOU ARE the best mom in the whole world.

Elder Ward

p.s. I will throw in some quick cool stories that happened this week. I went to my first Maori funeral. They are a little different than what we are used to! When somebody dies, they have a 3 day funeral.  The first day after the service, we went to a house with about 50 Maori people gathered in one room around the coffin in the middle. Luckily we had Pita with us that day who is Maori himself and knew all the rules and regulations of what to do. Like…you have to be invited into the house and wash your hands before you leave. Anyways, we sat in the center of the room and sang “God be With You Till We Meet Again” and “Families Can be Together Forever”. I taught a little bit of the plan of salvation and bore my testimony about how families can be together forever. I talked about great grandma Dolly's funeral where I first distinctly felt the spirit as we sang that song.

P.s.s. To end on a lighter note…haha… man Kiwi's are a crack up. One phrase they use a lot is “hard out!” which means different things like big or crazy. They use it in a lot of different instances. Anyways, I almost laughed this Sunday when a YSA member who is a recent convert said the opening prayer in sacrament meeting and he was thanking Heavenly Father for heaps of different things. Then he started to run out of things to say and his prayer went a little like this "Thank you for all our blessings" and “Thank you for.... all our ‘hard out’ blessings to!" That was funny!!

Kanahana, Miami, and Kaniehana's Baptism


Sunday, October 21, 2012

This Week was SAAAAWWEEEEET!!!

Auckland City

AJ and Elder Ward
Elder Loffhagen, my trainee
Red Hill Tracting View
Dear Family,

Man, that’s so crazy how much stuff you guys have been doing the past week or so... Haha…some of those pictures of the Kansas City temple hit so close to home and it's really cool you were able to see some parts of the mission that I use to cover in Missouri. You even ran into SISTER LISONBEE!!! That's my mission mom from Missouri. Man, she is like 25 or 26 years old and she is very authoritative….if that's even a word, but she was the best! I loved her! Haha…yup and that was true that Elder Bills was pretty serious all the time. Man I love him to death too! I found a new sense of appreciation for what he did for me when I first entered in the mission. Now that I'm on the other end of the spectrum I see just how good of a job he did and how much I owe him. Also something cool about that cornerstone of the temple that says Erected 2012, the Prophet and Jeffrey R. Holland stood in that same exact spot about 6 months ago. If you touched the top left corner of the box, that's where they put the mortar during the cornerstone ceremony.  Also, it was funny cuz seeing Ava there reminded me of a little girl that the prophet called up to put a little mortar in herself…it was pretty tender when she hugged the Prophet’s legs.

So, yes this week was SAAAAWWEEEEET!! Elder Fale left Tuesday and I got to spend the next 2 full days with Elder Bills, my zone leader. His companion, Elder Barney, was just made the assistant so I got to be a zone leader for 2 days. It was sooo nice being able to drive a car. I learned heaps from him and we had awesome days even though it was a little stressful covering both areas. One really cool moment we had was when we were working in his area we went to go teach Elder Bill’s next door neighbor. There was no other guy home so we couldn’t go inside, but she was keen to come outside and have a lesson with us. It was super sweet teaching the restoration to her, and halfway through the lesson when I finished teaching the Great Apostasy, Elder Bills started teaching the Restoration portion. Right when he started, I had a feeling that I was going to recite the first vision even though Elder Bills was teaching about Joseph Smith. In the lesson though when it came time Elder Bills explained that I would share the first vision... I started with a prayer in my heart hoping that the spirit would touch this ladies heart while I said it. It's probably the most I have ever felt the spirit and it was crazy because right when I said I saw a pillar of light, the heavens opened and it shined super bright all around us and on the lady we were teaching... when it had been rainy and cloudy 20 minutes earlier. THAT was cool!

So yup this week I got my new companion, Elder Loffhagen! It has made me reflect on how much I have learned and how much I have grown since being out on my mission. He kinda had a rough first day. He crashed on his bike, ripped his pants, and almost got hit by a bus. He felt really homesick, but Friday and Saturday we just worked super duper hard trying to find new investigators.  I had him do a pretty good amount of the talking to people which made him feel a lot better. He is great. I forgot to mention he is from England, oh, and guess what else... HE'S 18!!!! He is kinda like the English version of Benson Ferris (I mean that in the nicest way possible). I love spending time with him and teaching him how to be the best he can be. This morning we were going over how to teach the Restoration and how to really help investigators understand, and also working on how to transition (taking turns). So we took turns teaching different principles of the lesson while the other would sit on the couch right next to a picture of Joseph Smith. When Elder Loffhagen got to Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, he had a real hard time teaching that principle and kept freezing up. With a few attempts he started looking more and more discouraged. I told him STOP, okay, close PMG... “Elder Loffhagen, do you know that Jesus Christ lived and died for you”... Yes. “Do you know that he lived a perfect life and set a perfect example for us”... Yes. “Do you know that he lives and leads and guides this church today”... Yes. I then explained…”I know you know these things because the Spirit has confirmed in your heart and mind that it's true. Now what I want you to do is pass that same knowledge into my heart and mind, and pray for the Spirit to do that.” He prayed and after awhile I asked if he was ready. He then taught simple principles of what Jesus Christ did in his life. It wasn't anything really different on how he said it but I felt the spirit so strong!!!

Sorry, I got to go, but always listen to the spirit. You can't go wrong! I love you all extended family! :)

Arohanui Always,
Elder Ward
Part of my district, AJ, and Pita playing touch Rugby
Pita-King Planking Champ

Sunday, October 14, 2012

General Conference...So COOL!!!

Dear Family,

Daaaa Heck??? That's not what I was expecting our family never does anything except go to California at least 2 to 4 times a year. (Connor learned we were on a church history trip.) I hope you’re enjoying everything and I hope you enjoy spending time in ZION. It's such a great place down there. Missouri will always have a close place in my heart. Also, you should go check out adam ondi aman. (I know I totally goofed that one up.) You should also go to the RLDS temple and visitor’s center right next to it. You might even run into my old mission president, President Keyes, but it sounds like you already have planned 832479816487236438 things to do already. Sounds like fun, and I’m glad you guys are trying something new. Haha! WAY TO GO COLLIN…30 on the ACT!!! Also, congrats on setting again. Trevor, good to hear you’re getting back into the swing of things.

So, I got some news! I got a call this week from President Lekias letting me know that I will be training a new missionary and I am going to be made the new district leader. So, I’m staying in Papakura for another transfer…WHOO! That will make 6 months here. Good thing this area is super cool! I don’t know my new companion’s name yet but there are 22 missionaries coming in and President let us know that 10 of them are in the process of learning to speak English. That would be pretty interesting, but I don’t have distinct impressions that will be the case for me. Who knows though….whatever the Lord wants, right?

This week was a little rough for some reasons. Monday, my bike’s tires both popped leaving us bikeless. Elder Fale smashed his ankle in a pothole playing touch rugby in one of our member’s backyard. Tuesday and Wednesday we couldn't really get a whole lot done and the people we did visit dropped us. Thursday, me and Elder Fale ran out of food except for some apples and milk, so we both drank a liter of chocolate milk each for lunch... Milk Was a Bad Choice!! Elder Fale was throwing up big time and I felt nasty. Then Elder Fale got sick on Friday again... haha. Normally I try to leave the negative details out, but I have good news! All of those things happened this week, but you know what? I honestly could not be any happier! Everyday me and Elder Fale were just able to smile, shake our heads, laugh it off and say, "It's just not our week. :)" Kanahana and her kids along with Shunil Kumar are progressing awesome! They are going to be baptized on the 27th of October.

Oh yeah, and then General Conference was SOOOOO cool! You guys were right…Jeffrey R. Holland did it again!  Remember Pita King? He was sitting next to me and after the talk he quietly whispered pointing to the ceiling. “Do you see that?” I said Nah (Kiwi version of no) and he said “that's everyone’s brains that just got exploded.” I especially liked when he talked about missionaries having been commissioned of Jesus Christ... that talk was super good! My other favorites were Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s (spell check maybe) talk on Saturday morning. Also, I loved Thomas S. Monson’s talk especially when he spoke about the Cultural Celebration in Kansas City. I WAS TOTALLY THERE!!! He mentioned Susan Cooper’s name too and I know her! I had dinner at their house like 4 times. It felt cool being able to be a part of all that. Anyway all the talks were super great. Robert D. Hales is looking a lot better from last conference and yup….best conference ever.

Good picture, Dad. I could take a better look at it if it wasn’t upside down, but I can make out that it's you, Trevor, Collin, Jared, Taggert, and Spencer. Quick response to Dad's letter…haha…the day before when we were at the Armstrong's house for the weekly MCM meeting. They showed a video of Glenn Beck sharing his thoughts on his beliefs. It was really good and gave me a lot of insight on just how important it is to have Heavenly Father play a role in our day to day decisions whether they are big or small. Also, about Trevor, that's kind of the stinky thing about coming home from your mission... because you’re going to suffer. It's either going to be regret for not doing what you should have... or you’re going to miss doing the things you got to do. Good thing it's that second one for Trevor! :) My only advice for Trevor is just remember Elder Uchtdorfs Saturday morning talk…keep finding joy in the journey and good things are always coming.

I love you guys so much and I was for serious about going to Independence to go check out the RLDS temple, the Far West Temple site, Adam Ondi Ahman, and the mission office in Missouri. It would be cool if you could meet President Keyes... Oh and the Kirtland temple that the RLDS own, but I heard it's still a crazy experience.

Elder Ward

p.s. The Church, believe it or not, is still true! ;)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happiest Week of my Whole MIssion!

Dearest Family and Trevor!!!

HAHA…man…lots of emotion! I guess all you guys had a pretty eventful week! :) Trevor I love you so much buddy and I know without a doubt you served a mission that made our Heavenly Father proud. I think now that you’rE home back to where your old life used to be you've probably realized just how much your mission has changed you. I'm envious of your capacity of love towards those you served in Nicaragua! Now keep doing good things, make sure DUMB boys stay away from Aubrey, and go get married in the temple. 4 days….I mean come on…what's taking you so long? haha

Well, there is lots to say. I have recovered miraculously since last week. Elder Fale is pretty much a new missionary. He has been out for 2 months now and is still going through the 12 week training program. Now this area has not 1, but TWO missionaries that are obedient and have the desire to go out and work! Man, I learned this week just how much disobedience handicaps the work... being obedient is THE ONLY INTELLIGENT way to serve a mission... I fasted just yesterday to be able to forgive and forget. Things are better now, but I still had to overcome a lot of anger and bad feelings. Things have gotten a lot better and I LOVE ELDER FALE. He is a champion! He is from Mangere, New Zealand, which is like ten minutes away from our area. He is waiting for his Visa to go to PNG (Papa New Guinea) might need to do a spell check on that one. Anyways, we have been working SOOO HARD this past week to repent from the last few weeks transgressions and help get this area back to where it was before, and this week was AWESOME… in fact, the happiest of my WHOLE MISSION!!

This week we were able to find a new investigator and his less active dad. This guy stopped us a long time ago in town on our p-day. He owns his own Fiji curry shop and was baptized in Fiji 26 years ago. He let us know he wants to come back to church. We told him he will need to close his shop on Sundays and also let him know the Lord will bless him for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Anyways, he has a son (Shunil) and a wife who aren't members. We started to teach the son and helped him say his first prayer and the wife just avoids us, but we are going to invite her to sit in on the next lesson with Shunil.

Good news though…remember Kanahana??? Well dang she is SOLID! Three weeks ago she didn't even really believe in God or Jesus Christ, but she has had so many good experiences and felt the spirit so much that she can't deny what she has felt! She has quit alcohol, tea, coffee, and is SOOO CLOSE on the ciggies. We went over everyday this week and she was so grateful for everything we've done for her and her family. Everytime we left, me, Elder Fale, and either AJ or Pita Houia would leave doing Elder Fale's happy skip. ( It's really funny watching a 220 pound Tongan do a happy skip.) She came to church this Sunday, made friends really quickly, and felt the spirit really strong as others bore their testimonies.

This week I learned something really cool that is in Mark chapter 2 verses 4-12. I think that’s where Jesus heals the man with Palsy (spell check), but Kanahana brought up how she doesn't really believe that Jesus Christ healed all those people because she sees people today go into church blind and still come out blind. People roll in to church with a wheel chair, but they don't walk out on their own 2 feet. I read that story to her and explained that Jesus Christ did all those things that he did to show us that he had power to heal, and even though he died 2000 years ago what happened back then still happens today! Jesus Christ can heal broken hearts, cure anger, fix families, you name it he can do it. It's just a matter of putting your trust in him and doing the things he asks. After bearing my testimony she said, “you know that makes sense…I believe that.” THANK YOU HOLY GHOST!

Haha…This week also, 2 days after Elder Fale got in, my district leader finally wants to go on a trade off with me and then the very next day the zone leaders took us on one too. I gave them both a hard time because while I was struggling for 2 months they didn't bother to trade off once! Right when we got in the car I just said, “WHERE WERE YOU?!" Both trade offs were good haha and on Thursday when I went with Elder Bills, we ran into our investigator Jessie Moon who is 19 years old and is kinda pretty. She told me and Elder Bills that my old companion found her on Facebook and is trying to convince her to come to America to go out with him.  She was pretty creeped out! Elder Bills and I got a pretty good kick out of that one. :)

The work is going well again. I’M HAPPY!!!! and I’m pumped for conference! Tell Justin and Joey and Trevor I said hi. Give Trevor another big hug for me and stay good. The church is true!


Elder Ward