Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sweet miracles!

Dearest family,

Man it was so good to hear all your voices this past week on my Christmas day. I couldn't believe the spark of recognition behind Aubrey’s voice reduced me to tears so easily :) haha. I remember the days when I couldn't stand being in her presence for more then 5 minutes... The gospel truly does bless families. It really was good to hear from all of you and I think I laughed the most when Collin was telling me about the teachers coming in to the “hen house”. I could totally picture that whole scene goin down. Also, I appreciated how one of the first questions I was asked by mom was if I was eating good and staying healthy.:) After Christmas when I had eaten more than enough, my tummy was pretty upset with me and it sure did get its vengeance. This Christmas sure was different from any other experience that I have had on a Christmas day, but it was great being able to participate in the true spirit of Christmas. I pretty much gave away all that I possessed. I kept the personal things like the jammies and the Nicaragua shirt and the bolo game (WHICH WERE ALL SUPER AWESOME), but everything else was given to investigators. Oh, and I kept the mac and cheese and Crystal Light... SO maybe not ALL I possess, but it was still good especially because they appreciated the American lollies a lot more then I did.

As for my birthday, I would like to ask for a few things. #1…fresh underwear.  I am not in dire need but when I pulled them out of the wash recently, I realized that I would appreciate having some that are actually a little more white then they are brown….especially around the armpits. I know a tie or two is inevitable so I will make a challenge to get one that isn't blue, purple, or black. Then I am on the fence with this one, but I would like a Pro Touch indoor volleyball (the red, blue, and white Molten ones) for p-days. That’s all I can think of for now, but really I am pretty content. Oh and the last one is for Trevor to stay away from my friends!!! Don't you dare go there bro... they probably only hung out with me and Collin to get to you. Don’t you dare fall for it! ;) Jokes!!!  I just hope Collin gave you your “jersey” authority back. Or maybe it’s kind of like a patriarch deal where once you have the authority it never goes away.

But let’s move to a more serious note!!! I had a sweet miracle happen this week! We are teaching a mom named Kaa, and she was kinda interested. She has a daughter and a son in law that are living together all in the same house. At first the kids were not interested (in there twenties and have 2 kids of their own), but this week Renold, the son in law, explained his aunty passed away. So we offered to teach him about where she is now. They all listened and it was a sweet, spirit filled lesson! They all accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 26th of January. Now, the even more miracle part about it is that they are all smoking 20 to 30 cigarettes a day, or I guess they used to. We taught them the word of wisdom and I honestly didn't have a whole lot of faith going in, but the very next day they let us know that they were on their last pack before they gave up completely!!! They stopped on Sunday and came to church and BOY was I happy! They were spending loads of money a week on cigarettes and that would also lead to other sins and problems. When we sin, we truly do lose our agency bit by bit and literally become slaves to the sins we commit. When we taught the word of wisdom, I think they had a really good wake up call as to how VILE, FILTHY, SLIMY, NASTY, STINKY, and PUTRESCENT not only smoking is but SIN in general.

Another cool experience is we stopped by a recent converts house, Langi. We asked if there was anything we could help with and she explained she was asked to give a talk on prayer and she was terrified. She really is the shy type and she was not confident in her abilities at all. I just suggested her reading 2nd Nephi 32: 8-9 for the beginning of her talk on prayer and then just sharing her own testimony and personal experience with prayer. When she first got up she was so nervous and almost froze, but it was so cool to see the spirit give to her in the very hour what she needed to say. There was four talks given on prayer, but none came close to the one Langi gave. It really showed me that when we are humble and rely on the Lord we can accomplish wonders, but if we don’t we’re really just going through the motions.

I got to write Aubrey so gots to go, but I love you guys heaps and hope you have safe travels back home.

Elder Ward

p.s. The Church is true
Fireside...Kanahana's family, Brother Armstrong, Brother Aupori

Elder Ward and Elder Loffhagen teaching
Christmas present for Kanahana's family
P-day (Where did those humongous shoes come from?)
Sweet rugby boot! (cleet)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Divine Intervention

What a beautiful Christmas Eve day for me and a Christmas Eve Eve day for all of you. I am uber excited to give you guys a call!!! Thanks Mom and Dad for your faithful e-mails each week. Come with questions and with stories, and I think I already told you, but I only have 40 minutes to talk so it would be nice to do 5 minutes with each family member except Collin. I only want to talk to him a minute…just kidding…love you bro. Then just the last ten minutes as a family. Sound good? Well it better sound good because I don’t think I will get a response until next week. Sorry to hear Dad that you lost to Wendel but you could take comfort that you probably didn't lose to the same Wendel that I remember from a year ago. WAY to go Collin taking the whole thing with Sean Chapman! You two make a killer team! Mom, I never thought I would hear you say those words "I'm sick of shopping"…that has got to be some form of apostasy for woman code. :) Oh and one last comment…talk is cheap dad. Don’t be the boy who dipped his toe in the water and went swimming it is good to say you’re going to go the gym but actually going and working out is better.:) I love all of you!!!

K, so let me inform you on this week a little. Tuesday I did a trade off and went to Pukekohe which made me appreciate my area so much more. We had a sweet day filled with cool miracles, but we also had a freaky experience going down the "dark side". We went to go talk to a lady and some gangsters started yelling from across the street all manner of profanities and threats to give them the car keys and stuff. Then when we got rejected by the lady, one threw a beer bottle at us. I didn't see the throw but I honestly feel there was some kind of Divine intervention there that stopped the bottle from hitting its designated target. That freaked me out a little, but the rest of the day was honestly GREAT!!!

A cool miracle experience we had this week was when we were driving and we saw a mom pushing a baby in her pram (stroller in kiwi terms). We got out of the car and I started to talk to her. Our conversation lasted about 15 minutes as we did our best to explain why God loves us and never cheats anyone out of anything. She is a divorced mom who is losing custody of her pride and joy (her almost 2 year old daughter). She had a hard time being convinced, but she really liked talking to us so she gave us her address on 26 Opaheke and we set up a return appointment for 3 days later. 2 days later, the day before our appointment, we were driving down Opaheke which is a main road and we were about to turn into a roundabout. I noticed on the side of the road the same baby that lady was walking 2 days earlier, and that their gate (which she mentioned is supposed to be closed) was wide open. So I flew around the roundabout in a complete loop and slammed the car in park. Elder Loffhagen was asking what was going on and I explained that the baby shouldn't be there!!! So the baby was really close to the road and normally the story would go that we swooped in, picked up the baby, and took it to the house... well that is against mission rules. So we looked sad as we tried to tell the baby to come back to the house. I told Elder Loffhagen to wait there as I frantically pounded on the door and yup anyways, long story short, a lady stopped because I’m sure Elder Loffhagen looked like a pedophile standing next to the baby. I eventually found the mom working way in the backyard and she said "HEY!!! I thought you were coming over tomorrow???" I explained well yeah, but we saw your baby playing out close to the road with the gate open. Then the woman and Elder Loffhagen came around the corner holding the baby. Sorry I didn't do the story justice, but the mom was sure grateful. It made my day!

Other Cool experiences that happened…let’s see…we had zone conference and I got to sing with my district “I Stand All Amazed.” We got to do the same thing you did at FHE with our mission president (share our favorite miracle or story from Luke). The whole thing was super uplifting. Haha…I made a mistake in front of our mission president. We received our packages at the conference and my car was parked just behind President Lekias's car. As me and Elder Loffhagen loaded everything into our car,  I closed the trunk and went OOOHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOO!!! acting as if I had locked the keys in the trunk. I got Elder Loffhagen with that one along with President. He said that was a good one, but he didn't look impressed. ;)

A really good lesson we had this week was in Pukekohe with Elder Galt as we met with Sam and Mike, a Maori couple. Mike has been taught everything and is super onboard with everything, but he was always afraid of Sam’s reaction to everything. So Elder Galt and Elder Toani didn’t realize he hadn't informed his partner, Sam, that he was working to get baptized. While we were there, Sam came out from her corner and started asking us all these really good questions and I could tell Mike’s happiness had definitely been making an impression on her. So I mentioned something about him getting baptized... apparently Sam didn't know and she wasn't impressed that he didn't let her know. We fixed things and explained this is something that is awesome when experienced individually, but it's really something extraordinary as a family does it together. Her heart was softened big time and it was cool teaching them about the restoration. We committed them to be married and baptized on the 19th of January.

This week was a stressful week in the district doing tradeoffs and then interviewing 2 people the sisters were meant to baptize. Both passed but I got a call from the sisters who heard that the girl who was meant to be baptized broke the law of chastity the night after her interview. So I had to come back down and reinterview her. She didn't show up and the sisters were too afraid to call and ask her straight from the source if that was true. It turns out that it was just a rumor and it wasn't true, but the days before both the sisters had a serious emotional break down. They called me crying in the middle of companion study asking for a priesthood blessing.

Those are some of the interesting things that happened this week. . . It really was a good week and I enjoyed every second. I am super excited for Christmas and I look forward to giving you guys a call tomorrow (my Christmas Day-your Christmas Eve) at 5:00 pm my time, 9:00 pm your time. Have a safe day until then!

Elder Ward

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Serving with all your heart, might, mind, and strength

Dearest Whanua,

Let me just start by saying TREVOR STOP IT!!!! Don’t go there bro!!! Haha..jokes. I was actually pretty good friends with Lauren Cheney. She is a cutie. Good on ya mate. Keep me posted. :)

Also, Dad you really must start feeling old ending your letter with Love, Pops.

Collin, I'm glad you had a good attitude even though you lost regionals. I'm sure I would have been proud if I was there and it still sounds like you guys played pretty dang awesome! Are there any players on the Club Red 17s team that I know…and wait a second…is Jared back hitting again?

Aubrey, thank you so much for sending me an e-mail. I appreciate your letters so much. I did hear about that shooting poo…that stinks. However I did not hear about the note the kid had on him and the teacher that was a hero. I am excited for Christmas and that I get to call you soon. Which reminds me about calls….this year our mission president said that U.S. missionaries can call anytime Christmas or the day after which equals your Christmas Eve or your Christmas. I think I would prefer to call on my Christmas Day which is your Christmas Eve but the tricky part is knowing what time you will be home and would be most convenient for you. I wouldn't mind doing it night time, but I guess mommy and daddy should have the last say on that one. We will finalize things next week.

So this week I will start with some of the funny things that happened Sunday morning. While Elder Loffhagen was in the shower, I pulled out everything from our fridge (which isn't much) ;)…anyway Elder Loffhagen gets out of the shower at the same time everyday at 7:28 am. So I set a timer for that exact time and set up my camera recording the prank I was about to pull... Oh whoops, I forgot to mention our fridge is right next to the bathroom door. So yeah anyways, I just started by talking into the camera saying okay Elder Loffhagen is about to come out of the shower and I am going to scare the poo out of him. Then I set the camera down and slipped into the fridge and closed the door behind me. It turns out the fridge light really does turn off when the door closes!!! My alarm went off at 7:27 and sounds for a minute and boy did I time it perfectly he came out right when the buzzer stopped and right when he passed by I went RRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! It was so funny and I'm glad I have a companion that can laugh about those kind of things, and I'm just glad he didn't drop his towel!

Hmmm but lets talk about something more spiritual. This week was great but I think one of the coolest things that happened was teaching a new investigator named Leona. Normally when we try a referral or something falls through we try to go knock on a few of the surrounding doors keeping in mind that maybe the Lord wanted us there for a reason. Well on one of these occasions we met a lady named Leona who we taught a little and asked her about her religious background. She explained she used to go to some church but it has been a looonnng time since she has been and that she has actually been talking about getting back into it. We asked her if she had anything she wanted us to ponder about to teach her when we came back for our appointment, and she just said nope but I will have heaps of questions.  Well, when we came this week, she sure did! She had a page with at least 15 deep questions. So we took a quick timeout and looked at all the questions and realized teaching the plan of salvation would be the best thing to answer most of her questions. I love teaching that lesson sooo much and helping people who might feel cheated or might feel that God isn't there because he lets people suffer.  It’s awesome to help them realize that he really didn't cheat us of anything. In fact, we should be doing everything in our power to show our thanks, love and respect for God for all the good he has given us, and has yet to give us. Romans 8:16-18 especially verse 18 really shows that we have nothing to be upset about. Anyways, that lesson was AWESOME….for sure in the top ten of my mission so far. We set her for baptism on January 5th.

The work in our area picked up this week and Elder Loffhagen really impressed me one morning during companion study when we were practicing street contacting and he did everything perfect…exactly how I taught him.  I felt the spirit super strong as we practiced simple role plays. I'm happy to be a missionary and to help serve the Lord in whatever way I can. I have been humbled time and time again as I realize that I have so many weaknesses that I need to overcome, but that's why missions are so great. I'm really starting to understand serving with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. It's easy to serve with all my might and strength, but sometimes it's hard to do it with heart and mind. Sometimes it’s hard to do some things and I withhold within my heart, but I've seen time and time again that as I forget my desires and try to focus on what Christ desires for me I find more happiness.

I’m glad you guys are reading Luke like I challenged you. The Book of Mormon is awesome, but it's always good to remember just how awesome our Savior really was and is. In your next letter to me it would be great if everyone could share some thoughts on a story they heard or a miracle that was performed in Jesus Christ’s life that is significant to you. (It can be anywhere in the New Testament.) That would be a cool family home evening activity and I'm interested to hear your responses.

Love you guys with all my heart!!!

Elder Ward


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Two Sweet Miracles

Dear family,

You so just reminded me of that week where Elder Fale and I were just having a really really hard time... It was twisted ankles, wasted P-days, nobody to teach, and getting pretty dang sick... We would just laugh and say, “It's just not our week.”
J It definitely sounds like it is just not your week. HAHA Collin sounds exactly like me, putting ridiculous amounts of ice cream in the freezer against Mom’s wishes and locking the keys in the car with it running... Everything you just wrote are my favorite things to do... EVERY DAY! Sorry Collin. It's just not your week. Just be glad I know how you feel.

Dearest Ava Sister, I have got somethin’ to say to you!!! Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear AVA!!! Happy Birthday to YYYYYYOOOOOOOUUUUUU!!!! Whooooo hoooo!! You did it!!! I just wanted to make this little section especially for my baby sister!!! I hope you had a good birthday and I think you’re so lucky that you got to play Candyland and stuff. Also, I thought I would let you know that I keep a picture of you on my desk to help remind me to be sweet and nice to people just like my sister Ava is. I also think you’re so lucky that everyone loves you so much in our family. Especially Mom taking you out to Olive Garden and Trevor taking you to Chick Fil A. I hope you got heaps of cool presents and I am so proud of you all the time. Also, I miss you a ton and can’t wait to come give you a big hug when I get home. Also, I want to talk to you first on CHRISTMAS!!!

So let’s see … stories for this week... OH YES!!! We had two sweet miracles this week. One was with Elder Toani, a new missionary in my district. He came on a trade off with me. He has only been learning English for eight weeks but his testimony was POWERFUL! We were able to set a lady named Kaa for baptism and I got to see the gift of tongues in action. During the lesson, the English was still a little bit shaky but it was so much better and the spirit was felt so strong! Also, we are teaching a younger girl named Monique and I think I already mentioned her but she didn't believe in God and only invited us back so she could pray, not get an answer, and then call us liars. We have been talking about baptism and trying to get her to tell us how she feels when she prays... if she has received an answer, anything... and we seriously cannot get anything out of her. Anyway, this week we dropped by to give her a copy of “The Testaments” and we had just previously done weekly planning where we wrote in our planners a week ahead having Monique’s baptism service at 1:00 pm, really just as an act of faith. When we dropped off the video and we were talking and then the thought popped in my head that I would bring that up to her. So I just said, “Okay, Monique, tonight watch the video, then Sunday you need to come to church and then next Saturday we have your baptism at one... IS that all good?” Then she said, “Yup.” ... Elder Loffhagen and I just looked at each other a little bewildered. Something definitely changed in her though. We went through the baptism interview questions and it was so sweet to hear her answer “YES” to the first question: “#1 Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father, and that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world?”

Those are two sweet miracles that happened this week. So the work is picking up again! I love how in my mission everything works out great for a time, we have people to teach and miracles are happening, and then sometimes we get really humbled with nothing happening and we have very few people to teach and we spend a lot of time praying for ANYTHING to happen. Missions have so many highs and so many lows... Heck, I cried both tears of joy and tears of sadness this week. I'm just so grateful for my mission and what it is doing for me and especially the impact it has on others. Life is good.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for the packages, and yes, Mom, I will try to think of stuff.

Love you all!!!
Elder Ward

Sunday, December 2, 2012

True Happiness

Dearest Whanua,

It is so good to be able to hear from all of you... I'm sorry Dad. I've repented and put your name on [to receive my email] this week as well. Also, you’re right. I don’t think you will ever win that battle for Ava's love. You need a mother’s touch. ;) haha But no matter how much I make fun of you and glorify Mom just always know I couldn't have asked for a better dad. Actually, I couldn't have asked for a better family. I love all you guys so much.

Soooo what happened cool this week... Well, I didn't lock my keys in the car. That was cool. I first need to tell a little of my experience on Sunday (the day you’re experiencing right now). You know those Sundays where the spirit is so thick you can cut it with a knife? That happened for me yesterday! I was so happy to be fasting for new investigators and to find a greater love for the people in this area. The day started great with a MCM meeting and visiting investigators before church. We also visited Kanahana’s daughter because it was her birthday and she was turning ten! I gave her a Christmas “Joy to the World” DVD, a couple funny pictures of me, an American dollar and change, and my mission T shirt (which was a little too small for me). Her eyes lit up so big and she gave me a big hug and that just gave the warm fuzzies all day! Then we went to go pick up our investigators. They weren't home and my heart kinda dropped... SO we went to church and at like 2:27—three minutes before the meeting started—I felt like we needed to go back. We did a quick split and I went with Brother Aupori (the ward mission leader) to go pick them up! Monique is her name and, surprisingly enough, she was able to get her mom to come along as well! That was cool! Then I was just so happy to see heaps of our recent converts; Cheveir in his nice suit and tie passing the sacrament, the Lemalus on the bench behind us, Shanil and his dad on the right of me, Kanahana and Miami with Cindy and her family, Micaella, who has just gotten her Patriarchal Blessing came up to me with eyes really wide saying, "I'm definitely going on a mission." I was so happy. I had to go share my testimony, of course, on TRUE HAPPINESS. I talked about allowing ourselves to be happy and following Nephi’s example in 1 Nephi 11:17 where we might not understand everything or why certain things may seem unfair or difficult to bear, but if we can just understand REALLY how much God loves us and what that means there is nothing to be upset about. Man, all of Sunday was the best! Also, I got to participate in giving AJ Houia the Melchizedek Priesthood. Trevor is right. Even though sometimes there will be some away-from-home pangs, I need to live this up because I don’t think I will be able to experience anything close to this ever again.

So this week was transfer week, even though it didn't really feel like it at all. It's funny. I had a pretty good "feeling" I would be staying another 6 weeks and I AM! In fact, my whole district is staying the same. At first I was a little bummed out because I was starting to feel a little bit stuck in this area like I've talked to everyone and been to all the places I need to go to, but I know for sure there is a reason for me staying and heaps more lives I need to bless before I leave. So yeah, I'm happy to be here. Also, it's good that I will have some kind of family for when Christmas rolls around. Speaking of which I am not sure on when the call is or what the procedure is going to be but I'm pretty sure we will not be allowed to Skype... Bummer. That was cool last time.

I'm trying to think of other cool experiences this week and oops, I just thought of one! In the morning, after studies, we went out on a quest to find some people to teach! So we were driving, jumping out of the car, doing everything we could to talk to everyone passing by on the street. Anyway, on our way home I felt like I needed to turn down this street which was kind of out of the way. So, with a little groan I made a quick turn and Elder Loffhagen asked, “What?” I just said, “1st Nephi 4:6,” and we pulled up to a house and Elder Loffhagen knocked on the door... Long story short, we bore testimony on how the message we have to share will bring her family closer together and that she could live with them forever. We are going back tomorrow. That was a sweet new investigator that we found this week.

This week we have also been reading the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). I would highly suggest going over those as a family sometime and discussing some of the parables and things Jesus Christ taught. In fact, I will challenge you to finish Luke by the end of this year. Let me know how that goes! And I'm sorry. I know it will put a pause on the Book of Mormon reading, but make sure you study the BOM extra in your personal studies!

So on the lighter side, I will try and send you some pictures of the district and me and other stuff. Also, NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My friends are already getting married?! What the Hannah??? Ha. Trevor better go hurry up and steal some of my friends before they all get taken away. J It probably feels like a big game of musical chairs for Trevor. Now that the "music" has stopped he is on the verge of an anxiety attack trying to find a "chair" before they all get taken away and he is left standing awkwardly by himself... I always hated that game, and I don’t look forward to playing it with those kind of stakes. Haha Oh and I just laughed at the thought of Collin trying to find his chair. I pictured one of those small nursery-sized chairs because he is going to have to take one of Aubrey's friends. J Haha. Sorry bros. Love you.

Anyway, enough Babylon. The Church is true!

Elder Ward


Hunua Falls

Cool Rash Thingy
District at the Beach
Elder Ward and Elder Toani
Da Elders