Sunday, March 31, 2013

GREAT Friday!!

Dearest Whanua,

I got some crazy news for you right now! I am currently emailing from the hospital in Tauranga.  We were walking to go contact someone and we knocked on their door and nobody came so we started walking back to our car when I heard two dogs barking up a storm and chasing after us. We tried to book it for the car, but it was just a little too far. I tried chucking my Book of Mormon at it and yelling at it, but it latched onto my arm and the other grabbed my outer thigh. I somehow managed to punch them off and get in the car, but my leg and especially my arm were in pretty bad shape... hahaha…jokes…April Fools! The sisters got us pretty good today too. They told us it was sister QaQa's birthday and we sang “You've had a Birthday” to her. Funny thing is there was a little truth to that story. We did knock on a door and we did get chased by a dog. I outran Elder Hatch (yes, that joke is true that you don’t need to worry about being fast, you just need to worry about being faster than your companion) :) Anyways, Elder Hatch turned around, chucked a Book of Mormon at the dog, yelled at it, and luckily it ran away. Then the owner came out and he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. We are going back next week.

Sooooo sorry bout that mom….probably shouldn't joke like that! :) Anyways, it sounds like all is well in AZ. I am glad you guys enjoyed your Easter.  I'm glad you destroyed Ironwood Ridge it sounds like they’re really number 1! And…way to go Mesa! That’s pretty crazy that they are actually good. You have got to be kidding me?! You get to go Hawaii, Collin??? I forgot about that! It’s all goods though cuz I have practically been in a version of Hawaii the past 10 months or so. Also, I am jealous of Ava getting to ride a big turtle. Who the heck owns that? Oh hey, I also just saw a picture of Carson Schaub home from his mission. That boy looks good!  Tell him I said Hi and I expect a wedding invitation soon.

So yes, I had one of the absolute best Easter seasons of my life. We, of course, continued to go see G and his family, but we ran into some complications three days before Saturday (the day of his baptism). He was going to have to work!!! So we decided to do a short notice change to GOOD, or should I say, GREAT Friday. The day before the assistants came down for a trade off, and I actually went with Elder Alder. He was my first Zone Leader in the mission and the first missionary I traded off with the night I arrived when Elder Manewell, my companion then, smashed his foot playing basketball. Anywho, he interviewed G, R, and S. They all passed okay and we were good to go for the next day. The next day though we woke up and Elder Alder and I went to do a companionship study with another companionship, and made it back just 30 minutes before the sister’s baptism. We got some bad news that G was in the emergency room, so we rushed down there with Elder Tebano, the Kiribati elder, and sadly only 2 were allowed in. Elder Hatch and Tebano went inside while I stayed with R and Elder Wilcken. They gave him a blessing and Elder Tebano helped translate for the doctors and answer some of their questions. Golf was determined to get baptized and he ended up leaving the ER at like 3 o’clock. Oh, and I’m not sure still why he had to go to the ER.  I knew he couldn't breathe and his stomach was super swollen. I think it had something to do with high blood pressure. Anyways, that night at 7:30 we had the baptism service. Elder Tebano spoke and he was in tears along with most the people there even though a lot couldn't understand what he was saying in his native tongue. There was just a super good spirit! It was a little funny cuz our baptism font is just a big bath tub and G is a big boy. When Elder Tebano baptized him, G kinda just dive bombed backwards, almost hit his head, and took Elder Tebano with him. It was hard not to laugh, but suprisingly it didn't take away from the spirit. He was so happy and he stood in the water in tears and gave Elder Tebano a big hug. The other kids were awesome too and G bore his testimony at the end and went around and hugged everyone at the end. Confirmation day was just as sweet. I sure do love those people and I will have to send you some pictures of them next week.

Other than that the week was pretty normal. We got to go help out with the young men and we let them ask us missionaries whatever questions they wanted. Then we had a few activities and we bore our testimonies about serving the Lord and encouraged all the boys to really consider going on a mission. It was good especially because half the boys were probably less than enthused about taking two years to teach the Gospel.

Sorry today is short cuz everything is closed during the Easter holidays here. So we had to drive a long way to find an open internet store.

I look forward to hearing from you next week and Collin…write me you bum! I haven't heard from you in ages. I would ask Trevor too, but he doesn't owe me a thing. Still, give him my love wherever he is.

Elder Ward
Baptism Day
The Whole Gang



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Enjoy Every Second of Life

WELL HELLO Whanua!!!

Let me start with a small response to some of your emails first. Dad, it’s funny we actually talked about commandments/covenant keeping as we visited the Hamilton temple this week. Our mission president asked us to ponder the saying, “Let the fire of the covenant burn within our hearts...” Here is a small portion of my letter to him.

I had a good week, especially going to the temple! I had a cool thought on the covenant burning within our hearts when you were asking about what fire does. For some reason I thought of a branding iron... I couldn't think of the analogy in time, but cows get branded so their OWNER can recognize them if they are ever lost, or run away and I’m sure for other important reasons. I think we can liken that to our own covenants and letting them burn within our heart. It may not be easy for cows to feel the pain of the initial branding and it may not always be easy for us to be fully consecrated, or exactly obedient. However, I do know one thing for sure—we all have strayed away from our OWNER’S presence and I sure do hope that when He comes back and sees me He will be able to recognize those covenants I have tried to brand on my heart so that he can claim me back into His fold. That analogy made me really think about the five foolish virgins when they were told something along the lines of, "I know you not."

Mom, you reminded me of an awesome quote when you mentioned your religion class! I think it goes something like, "I truly feel that Heavenly Father hides the joys of death so that we can better appreciate life as we go through it." Oh and I miss you heaps, to my wonderful sweet mommy. Ten more months. Don’t get trunky on me. :P

Collin, I would definitely kill to have the magical setting powers you have. The thing is, if someone tells you something enough it's hard to not let those doubts creep into your mind. That's why we pray and read the scriptures because Satan is always telling us a bunch of filth, and if we don’t have a positive influence (THE SPIRIT) then we will fall big time. When you’re a setter you’re always going to have critics. Talk to your teammates about it. Pray before you do and just tell them how you feel. It's hard to do, but if you can’t learn to solve those kinds of things without contention then your mission will be miserable. I actually had to do something quite similar this week. Have confidence. Let them know and I promise you won’t regret it! Love ya bro.

Aubrey and Ava, I don’t want you to be left out so I love you heaps, keep being good girls and listen to your parents!!! They know what is best for you. Aubrey, Mom told on you again and she said you were giving them a hard time a few times this past week. Make sure you go give them a hug for me because even though I didn't always appreciate them telling me what I can and can't do, now that I am on my mission I sure do miss them and their wise counsel and realize how lost our whole family would be without our awesome daddy and of course our almost exalted celestial mommy. J

Let's see, we will keep thoughts short this week. I love you guys so much and don’t want to take time away from you, but I have a thousand and one different converts that I need to write!

Let me tell you of a really cool experience I had this week! On Saturday, zone leaders go to every baptism and I was actually asked to speak at two of them. I learned a very good lesson attending and speaking at both. At the first I was asked to speak on faith and repentance which gets spoken on at every single baptism... I quickly thought of a few scriptures and tossed a couple thoughts in my head, and gave a very sad talk. My companion said it was good, but it felt like I was poopin words out of my mouth. Then at the next baptism, I decided to speak on becoming clean. Even though I was assigned to speak on Baptism and Confirmation, which also gets discussed at every single baptism! I put a lot of thought into this one and prayed to have the spirit as I spoke and even made a little nifty poem for Emerald who was getting baptized. I cooked it up in like 20 minutes before the service. I forgot what I put exactly cuz I ended up giving it to her. It went something along the lines of:

As a missionary I like to imagine what it's like for those about to stand in the baptismal font.
Especially when weeks previous they never imagined this would be something they'd want.

From their point of view they might have wondered who are these guys with the shirts and ties?
They stopped me on the street, talking about Christ and asking God if their book is truth or a bunch of lies.

I forget the middle but the end said,

As I stand in the font I hold back the tears knowing Satan will never beat me ever again,
and it all starts after the water crashes all around me after I quietly say amen.

Kinda cheesy but it worked out really well. The missionaries in that ward had a girl come up to them asking if she could be baptized as well after that whole service so that was really cool. I learned that almost every experience I have to share a talk, or my testimony, or give service I should do it with meaning, that I truly need to enjoy every second of life as a missionary, instead of going through the motions. I think that might be something everyone is a little guilty of from time to time. J

G, R, and now their niece, S, are getting baptized this weekend on the 30th!!! I absolutely love their family to pieces and enjoy trying to teach them the gospel regardless of the language barrier. We went over one day just to spend some time with the family and read a little from the Book of Mormon with them, and somehow we ended up singing a bunch of Kiribati songs and stuff like that. It was fun.

That's a good portion of my week and I look forward to emailing you next week!

Loves and Ti a boo! [goodbye in Kiribati]

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Never Procrastinate Doing Good

Ooolllloee Whanua,

Darn it! This is one of those days where I realize I don’t have my journal by my side and I really have no idea what to tell you about... Good job Ava going on JAGUAR!!! [at Knott’s Berry Farm] I love that ride!!! And my goodness! Aubrey and Ava both sure do have a lot less fear than I did when I was that age! I remember being practically forced to go on Tatsu and being absolutely terrified the whole way in line... Then I remember that ride just being crazy fun and me laughing like a mad man the whole way through it. Good times.

I am glad everyone is doing well and, yes, I do remember the crazy 7 hour practices. Usually 3 of those hours were talking about pointless stuff and being ridiculed for being a 1 out of 4 on brain power, or hearing the same stories over and over and over again. I still love coach Vee to pieces though and we have to take into consideration the good she has done for hundreds of boys that have gone through her program. Endure to the end Collin!

Here is a little bit of what happened in my week! We had, yet again, another MASSIVE transfer! Yup, I am staying in the beautiful land of Tauranga in Papamoa. The day was just madness arranging rides for everyone to get up there and stuff. We took the 3 hour drive to Auckland early in the morning to make it just on time to unpack everything and get things shifted around. Luckily we only had one missionary leaving our zone—Elder Denkers. I will miss that boy. Anyway, the meeting was pretty dang sweet. I think there were 27 new missionaries who came in. When they were introducing all the new missionaries they would have them stand up and say who their companion is, where they are from, and where they will be serving. I heard Elder Ward's name (the new Elder Ward) called. I just threw my fist in the air when he stood up and President Lekias and his wife chuckled at that a little. I did the same for another missionary who was from Gilbert, Arizona!!!! Anyway, we got all our new missionaries saddled up and we went to go get some Wendy’s before we traveled back. I got so lucky. I was hungry so I bought two 5-dollar chicken meal deals complete with chicken sandwich, fries, drink, and frosty. Anyway, I bought my food and took it out to the car when Elder Tebano brought another order of the same thing out telling me that the cashier said I forgot my food... I went back in with the food in hand and told them the mistake and they just let me keep it. I was a happy man. I told the other missionaries that’s what happens when you work as hard as me. J

As far as the people I got to meet this week, one is named R. She has been taught by the missionaries HEAPS!!! But she is afraid to get baptized for some reason. She asked to take a break from lessons for a little for her job and kids and stuff, but when we were driving down the street I felt like we should stop and see how she was doing. We knocked on her gate and she proceeded to tell us that her house was possessed and that she doesn't feel safe and that she hears loud noises in her house at night. She said she had a pastor from a church come to bless the house, but he said he could only alleviate the problem..... We offered to come and do it. I have no idea why we planned to do it the next day, but she got freaked out over night and moved to her mum’s house in Whakatane. So lesson learned, never procrastinate doing good. EVER! I feel stink now.

On the other hand there is a bright side to the week. We are teaching an awesome Kiribati [pronounced “kiribus”]family! G, R, and D. They love having us come over and being taught. There is a pretty big language barrier but we make it work. We invited them along to church and the dad (G) got really sick from eating bad fish. He didn't sleep at all the night before and was using the toilet every hour, but he still came!!! I was so happy to see him at church. We had a good sacrament meeting with good speakers... Our bishop even got up and sang hymn number 335. I believe it’s "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy." He got emotional halfway through so the congregation helped him finish, but it was POWERFUL!!! We offered to give G a ride home after sacrament because he was not doing well, but he really wanted to stay! So sure enough we did! Cool thing is too, we invited a lot of less active Kiribati families to come along and help be friends with G and his family to help show them around and there was about 10 Kiribati people who showed up. We had to move our gospel principles class to a bigger room, and I got to teach a class of about 20 half in English and half in Kirabati about the importance of the scriptures. I drew a picture of Lehi's dream and the IRON ROD and explained the importance and we spent a lot of time reading really important scriptures in Kirabati, and English and explaining the meaning.

I think that's about all I can remember that’s worth telling but I will have to send some pictures and cool stuff like that! I love you guys so much and miss you and think about you every day. Stay strong! Love everyone you see and BE HAPPY!!!

Elder Ward


Sunday, March 10, 2013

We are Literally Powerless without the Spirit


Dearest family,

WHOA!!!! Well, why did you go and do that???? [referring to Ava who munched and broke her big toe] I can see very clearly how a lot of that went down the night Ava hurt her toe... especially Collin holding her. I think those are some of the tender moments in life that one doesn't soon forget, even little 7-year-old Ava, and yes, I sure haven't forgotten the day Collin got hurt. That goof. I'm glad our family is tight enough to want to spend most of the night in the ER together to help comfort each other when we’re hurt. I hope you get better soon, Ava!!! It's funny how I spent a lot of time talking about patience in my last email, because it sounds like for a lot of people this was the week to find it... or more of it. Haha. My companion, Elder Manewell, or my step dad (1st companion in this mission) told me of an experience that he had where he prayed that he would be more patient and good ole Heavenly Father with his omniscience and sense of humor gave him a lot of opportunities to learn patience. J He let me know that he will not be praying for that again any time soon.

So Mom, I know you’re wondering about transfer dates and such, but I need to tell you, I have given it some thought and it would probably be better if you and Dad didn't come to pick me up.... HOWEVER, I would be thrilled more than anything in the whole entire world to come back and visit anywhere from 1 month to a year after my mission! I want to go back and see and introduce you to ALL the people I used to go see and the area I served in, but I feel that whatever time we would spend would not be sufficient and if we went too long I would be worried too much about seeing the rest of the fam. Something to consider and ponder on because, let’s face it, we need at least 2 weeks in NZ to get the full experience plus I think there are a few things you two and I would be restricted on doing. Give it some thought. I am keen for opinions and suggestions so respond back to that next week then we will drop the matter until the future to avoid any trunky feelings and stuff like that. J

Anywho, I had another transfer kinda!!! I’m still in my area with Elder Wright (the 3rd companion), but the mission has a new AP—Elder Alder!!! So I got a new companion as well. His name is elder Hatch. He is from the States so I bet you can guess which state he is from!!! If you guessed anything but Utah then you obviously have been hit in the head recently! At first I was a little scared and intimidated by him, because he is definitely a straight shooter! He has a lot more drive and is super serious about the work and knows how to get things done. Elder Florence (my old companion) went to Hamilton (to replace Elder Alder?)... SO we had a small transfer a week early before the giant massive transfer! So, no I haven't figured out when transfers are going on and when I am going to go home now, but no worries I will figure out by next week. Also, I had my first zone leader council which was just awesome!!! It's cool how the zone leaders help make a lot of decisions on where the mission is going to go next and what we are going to do. We learned heaps from our mission president and I have grown to love him a lot more! He is for sure going to be a general authority some day.

This week was awesome though and I had a few awesome miracles in the past two days... Some shocked me at how much I have learned on the mission and how literally powerless we are without the Spirit... Saturday we went to visit a Kiribati family and the daughter turned out to be a member. She is about 21 years old, but the dad isn't. We came in and he said to go talk to her and we asked him to join and he started to walk off when something just tapped me on the shoulder and said, call Elder Tebano! I asked him if he knew that name and he said maybe and I was like, "Well, let’s call him." (Elder Tebano is a missionary in our zone from Kiribati) they started talking in their native tongue and it turns out they’re COUSINS!!! Long story short we did a trade off, brought Elder Tebano over and the man was in tears the whole lesson... He accepted the invitation to be baptized March 30th along with his younger son. What’s funny though is I wasn't there to see that happen cuz I was with Elder Denkers who has only been out 4 and a half months. He is a great missionary and he got trained by a zone leader in our mission, Elder Matau'tia. He and I also had a sweet experience! They were teaching a lady named E who is KEEN to get baptized and was set for March 16th. The thing is the elders never taught the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, or tithing................. We didn't have a whole lot of time and Elder Denkers said we were going to teach tithing... when again the Spirit said, “Nope, word of wisdom,” and I had to awkwardly cut him off mid sentence to tell him we needed to teach the word of wisdom... Turns out she was smoking, drinking tea, and coffee... We had a POWERFUL LESSON with her and gave her a blessing. She was in tears and Elder Denkers felt pretty dumb for not figuring that out sooner. I had a good heart-to-heart with him and let him know I wasn't half the missionary he was 4 months out.


I love my mission. I love you guys. The Church is true. The Book of Mormon too!

Elder Ward


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Those Prayers Where You Really Feel and Know You're Talking to Heavenly Father

Dear Mom, Dad, Trevor, Collin, Aubrey, and Ava,

I think I have about a billion and five different things to answer so let’s start with zone leader responsibilities. It is not too hard... I don’t really feel like much of a zone leader … kind of like becoming a missionary. I didn't feel like one, but the changes start gradually and end up being monumental. We have a lot of time to work and stuff. We just usually have to sacrifice a lot of time doing tradeoffs with the other missionaries, picking people up, running different kinds of errands, extra meetings (first zone leader council this week), and doing nightly phone calls every night to gather information on how the companionships are doing and who is set for baptism. Pretty soon we will have district leaders back in to do that part for us and then all we will have to do is call them, but it's still heaps of fun. As for the big transfers I am pretty sure after this 3 week one it will continue every 6 weeks so we can be in sync with the MTC. As for preparing for the big transfers, there is not really a whole lot that we can do... the most we can is still visit the other wards as much as possible to keep up the investigators who got left behind and keep them alive and kicking. As for my companions it feels like I get along with Elder Wright a little better, who yes, will probably be leaving in a week and a half, and is not a zone leader. I love them both. Elder Florence is a very professional business-like missionary and, well, I'm not... I will be obedient with exactness, but I need to crack jokes over the phone like, "What sound does a forklift make when it's backing up?" I dont know... (Then I hang up the phone) BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Gets um every time...

No worries though. I will have a good chat with him on the way up to zone leader council... I learned if you pray before you settle any kind of issues or anything like that then you usually can't go wrong.  So it will be all right. I will keep you updated on how we are doing. Anyway, this week we did have Zone Conference. That was fun! I got to see Elder Denham again! And yes he is still in Gisborne. He was a little upset when he figured out that I was leaving and he was staying. I think his main concern is not wanting to die (finish his mission) in Gisborne. I'm starting to realize now how good of a missionary he really is.

Anyways Jessica Barney?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Haha. Can you please send me a picture of her engagement or whatever. Elder Denham will get a kick out of that one.
J I’m surprised that I haven't heard of more engagements and stuff... Also, while you are on Instagram or whatever, stalking people, can you please have Collin send a message to Micaella saying I am so sorry that I couldn't write her last week and I might even have a hard time doing it this week, but that I haven't forgotten to. Also, if you want she is in Spain and she needs advice on what to do with the Catholic family that she is staying with that are pretty interested in the church. Please get that done for me Collin!!! THANK YOU!

So a cool experience we had this week was when we were out and about talking with everyone that we could see. It was 12 o clock so we were heading back for lunch when we passed by a lady having a smoke. I went and sat down next to her and we just started talking like we were best friends. She was an older English lady, and we just talked about her and her life and that led into talk about the Holy Ghost and how living a clean life is the absolute happiest way of living there is... We had to go but I asked if I could offer a prayer before we left. It was one of those prayers where you felt and KNEW that you were literally talking to Heavenly Father and I’m sure she felt it too, because when I opened my eyes after the amen she was looking at me with tears pouring down her face. It was cool seeing that look of gratitude, and it made me appreciate how much Heavenly Father does not only for me, but for everyone. Her name is A. We meet with her tomorrow. If you want to pray for her tonight that would be cool.

The thing that I learned that was pretty cool was just simple patience. We need to have patience with ourselves, with our companions, and most importantly with our Heavenly Father... Our mission president’s wife showed us a cool quote saying something along the lines of, “When we fall into the temptation of impatience... something something something... we doubt Heavenly Father’s omniscience...” I pondered on that thought and realized, hey that's true!!! Every time I get angry or frustrated because of my weaknesses, or what I am doing wrong, or just about anything I'm forgetting that Heavenly Father gave me those weaknesses for a reason... He gave me my companions for a reason... Ether 12:27 and Isaiah 55:8-9 I think. I've grown a whole lot more patient on my mission, but I still have a llllllllllllooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggg way to go.

Anyways, I love you family. GOOD job Ava getting that poopy puppy back to the Ridings. You are a hero! Good job on the win Collin! And Dad, if I have any advice on being a YM president, what you did this week discussing the importance of the BOM with two of those boys is a great idea. We did a whole mission conference on it and realized how worthless we are without it. Make sure all the boys are making it a daily priority to at least read a chapter because the Lord's declaration that in the last days men's hearts shall fail them is just as applicable to the Young Men as well! We also watched “Safety for the Soul,” the Jeffrey R. Holland talk and I remembered back to sitting on the couch with you when he hammered all the people that challenge the Book of Mormon during his talk, "From Ethan Smith, to Solomon Spalding, to deranged lunatic, to cunning genious... All of these frankly pathetic answers for this book…" and after he said that you let out a big “HOO HOO!!!” I had a good laugh about that. I hope that made sense and maybe you remember doing that.

Much Love,
Elder Ward