Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Apostle of the Lord

Dear fo fo family,

First off HUZZAH!!!! Go Highland volleyball and way to go Collin! That is pretty dang impressive how well you are doing along with the rest of your team. Haha It's also funny picturing all those kids who probably don’t have too much of a social life who work really hard to attend those golden scholar awards ceremonies, and laugh as they see two WEIRDOS walk across the stage with old people clothes and a walker and think... What Geeks! And Dad, all those volleyball updates are sweet with me. It's good to hear how the good ole Highland team is doing. You forgot to add in your cool insight of something you learned throughout the week though. I always appreciate it when you do that.

Mom, I think I would rather call on my Sunday—your Saturday—just because I think that it would be hard to email you on Monday and then talk right after... I don’t know. It’s hard to say. If I were to call at 11 o clock am on Sunday what time would that make for you? Or I could maybe do anything from after 4 on Sunday.... Then if anybody would not be able to be there then we could just do my Monday your Sunday, but the only problem would be that I could probably only do it after 5... Mondays are busy helping the rest of the zone get everything they need. All sweet though. You can discuss as a family what would be best and I am keen to do whatever. I AM EXCITED TO TALK WITH YOUZE!

So YES the Work is going great!!!!!!!!!! But I need to start by telling you how totally flippin awesome it was meeting Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Rasband and OH MAN, I forgot his name but he is in the presiding bishopric [we think it’s Bishop Gérald Caussé]. Wednesday was a big hassle getting everything shifted out and making sure all the missionaries had transport and what not... We had a crazy awesome transfer meeting with the whole mission where it sure was fun to sing “Called to Serve” in the Readoubt stake center. After that we had a short break while President Lekias had a meeting with all the new trainers and all of the new sister missionary leader trainer people on the new assignment given to sisters throughout missions. Anyway, I got to catch up with a lot of my old companions including Elder Denham, Elder Manewell, and Elder Loffhagen. I don’t know if I already wrote this but I have a GRANDSON!!! He is Kidabus too and Elder Loffhagen is doing a great job training him. He is also a district leader now, and when I talked to him he was a completely different person. I sure am proud of that boy. Also, Elder Denham and Elder Manewell are finishing their missions in 6 weeks so we kind of had our last goodbyes, but now to the Good Stuff!!! We all crammed back into the stake center and waited super anxiously to see Elder Oaks. When he came in I said a quick prayer that the Spirit would confirm and let me know that he was an apostle of the Lord. Luckily enough they asked the whole mission to stand to shake their hands and sure enough we did... When I got around to shaking his hand I passed everyone, told Elder Rasband that he looked good and shook Elder Oaks’ hands and looked him straight in the eyes. Now I won’t try to overdramatize things, but time kinda froze for a bit, and it was a little hard to let go. But as I walked back down to my seat the Spirit definitely confirmed to me that I had most definitely shaken hands with an apostle.... So I popped open my notebook to take notes for the mission conference and traced my hand as my first note. Some other missionaries saw that and kinda laughed a little, and a lot of them did the same exact thing. Anywho, it was awesome! They spoke to us all and left Elder Oaks an hour at the end... Everyone was great, especially Sister Oaks. She was HILARIOUS and it was funny to see a side of Elder Oaks that you don’t normally get to see in general conference. He sure was proud of our mission and the missionaries in it. Then after I got to take a picture of Elder Verierras and the presiding bishopric guy... because they were both from the same ward and we got called up last second before we were about to head home so I got to talk to him up close and thank them for the wonderful talks that they gave.

Elder Lamb and I are doing great... I loved Elder Hatch and was able to keep a good relationship with him. I think we both kind of knew that we wouldn't be the best friends outside the mission, but as Elder Bednar said it best, it is a great sign of spiritual maturity to see past the flaws, weaknesses, and offensive gestures that come from other people. I was reading through my journal and I realized how terribly immature I was with a lot of my first few companions, so that is something I learned this week... The importance of loving those around you... Because me and Elder Hatch actually had a good time together. Anyway, Elder Lamb and I are already off to a great start. We set two people with a baptism date within three days of him arriving... and are starting to help the zone reach a new level of spiritual missionary growth. We have a few challenge missionaries in our zone, and I had the privilege to go out with one earlier in the week... He has been out for a long time and knows how to be a great missionary, but really doesn't want to be the best and maybe doesn't exactly have his desires in the right place. I had a great chat with him letting him know exactly what I thought of him; that he IS GREAT, but that he could be doing so much more.

Anyway, sorry I’m running out of time... Not the best letter but I will get you a better one next week. The Church is true. I know for sure without a doubt that the Prophet, his counselors and the 12 apostles are called of God and speak to him directly face to face, and they are what make and keep this Church true! Listen to their words and find something from General Conference that you want to apply!

Elder Ward

P.S.- G and R received the Priesthood yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOOOOOO! Oh and another quick story… We went to their house the day before and G couldn't walk because his foot hurt so much. We went to the story in Acts where Peter goes to the man lame from birth at the temple and when the man asked for alms, Peter said, “gold and silver have I none, but this I do give, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand and walk..." something along those lines. So we read that to him and gave him a blessing. He then told us that his foot, before the blessing, in his own words was, “Very Pain,” but when we put our hands on his head it stopped, but that he was still scared to walk. We asked him if he believed that God would help him and he said yes, so he got up and walked... He was so excited and said OOOOOHHHHHHHHH YESS! Then he walked from one side of the room to the other and then walked to the bathroom... It was pretty funny. That is my week. Ka kite ano (probably poorly mispelled) but it means “see you again” in Maori.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Transfers this week......

Dearest Family!

First I need to start off by….WAY to go AVA!!!!! That is one massive fish that you caught! You should have eaten it though...that's what heaps of people do here in New Zealand. They catch fish and then take it down to the local fish and chips shop and have them cook it right then and there for just a small fee.  I will admit I never really cared for any kind of fish before my mission, but I am pretty hooked on fish and chips here in NZ. Sorry about your finger mom! That was pretty grody... I just don’t understand why you went to the urgent care when you had your sew sisters right there!!! They could have fixed that up in a jiffy! :) Other side notes…Aubrey you stay away from those boys!!! Collin, have fun at prom and REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE!!!! Trevor good luck with finals and remember you are the man!  Dad, you might want a little more practice on those motorized carts. You will be in one of those for real before you know it. ;)

Big news for the family! TRANSFERS are happening this week and.................. drum roll please ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... I’m going to STAY in Tauranga!!! Elder Hatch is going to be leaving and I will be training a new zone leader, Elder Lamb.  Elder Hatch will be going to Readoubt stake. So yup, I am super excited, a little overwhelmed, and maybe feel a little bit inadequate to be senior zone leader, but nonetheless I am super excited!!! Especially too cuz I get to kick off this transfer by meeting Elder Oaks!!!! I know I have told you a thousand times, but I am so excited to meet an apostle and shake his hand.

Onto my week though….some of the biggest highlights were the two baptisms we had this weekend. One was for A, the little girl who we have taught the past little while. It was just a small service, but the spirit was felt super strong. Sorry I forgot my camera, otherwise I would send a few pictures. Then the other people we baptized were two boys named H and E. We had taught them everything and had them ready to be baptized, but they were going to move to another ward (our district leader’s ward), so we held off so they could be fellowshipped in the other. The service went well and E asked me to baptize him. The hard part was his name was ridiculously long, (4 names that were all hard to pronounce). That was fun haha! He went last and he was starting to get second thoughts, so we had to have his older brother tell him it was FUN!!! He was super excited and happy after he was baptized.

Other news…we established a great relationship with our bishop this week. Ever since I’ve been here we haven’t been able to get together for whatever reasons. This week though our awesome, brand new ward mission leader planned a split and I went with him and Elder Hatch went with the bishop. They had a great visit with some less active members and got back really late at 9:30 while the ward mission leader and I swapped mission stories while we were waiting for their return. Anyways, they came back laughing up a storm and we said a closing prayer and the bishop gave both of us a big hug goodbye.  Its good to have the bishop involved in the missionary work in the ward here.

Another story was a part member family we just started meeting with and the mom came outside to talk with us. We didn't reprimand her for not coming to church or anything like that, but I realized a lot of the work we do is just showing others love and kindness and helping them feel accepted. While we were talking to her she stopped us and she asked us if we get a good response from the people we talk to. We answered by asking, “Why do you ask?”  She said, “Here in New Zealand we care a lot about relationships and most missionaries don’t realize that, but you guys are great. We can really tell that you care...” Haha…that sure did make us feel special.

Sorry, I just have a bunch (not heaps) of small stories and things I learned this week, but here is yet another one. This week G and R were interviewed by bishop to receive the Aaronic Priesthood!!! WOOHOO!! I still love their family to pieces and it was cool too because when we last visited their house we learned that there daughter, Debbie, is really good at dancing. So we asked her to dance and it was up to PCC standards. Elder Hatch and I were just thinking where the heck did this come from?! Apparently she teaches quite a few people around that area so we had a short dance lesson while we were there.  I am going to come back a mean Kidabus dancing machine.

Then last story this week….I took an Elder from our zone out on tradeoffs in his area where I was put on a bike once again. I thought I was going to die again like the last time, but I actually didn't struggle too bad. This missionary I was with President Lekias previously had a very close watch over, but he has grown a lot since he has come down here. Anyways, we had an awesome tradeoff! We worked hard and I bought him some pizza and really just had a good talk with him about his mission and where he wanted it to go. He was super appreciative after and we became quite good friends.  It's awesome being a zone leader and being able to help people change and see them grow.

SO, yeah sorry, my thoughts are kinda scattered and my stories aren't super great, but that's alright right?
The church is true! Don’t ever forget!

Elder Ward    

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Mission is Awesome!


Way to go Highland Volleyball! You are da bomb! Especially you my bro…way to be Collin…..keep bein the man! I sure do look forward every Monday to receiving letters from my awesome awesome family! It sure does make whatever worries or struggles melt away for a time. Also, thank you my brothers for both writing me…that was some kind of miracle! Oh and Trevor good one! I don’t know if the rest of the family knows what you sent, but YOU HAD ME GOIN! I even cheered a little in the middle of this internet cafe, but I will get the last laugh when I get married before you ;) tick tock tick tock....

I sure bet that was nice to finally make it home after your vacation! I always loved coming home from long trips smelling those awesome cows and just returning to all the comforts of home. I reckon that will be what heaven will be like. I liked that quote shared in conference. I forget who gave it but am sure it was in the last session who said something along the lines of how it will be surprising at how familiar our Heavenly Father’s face will be and how well we know Him. I reckon that the celestial kingdom will be like making it home from a long journey... just a thousand times better because we won’t have to do hours of laundry the next day. ;) (I know mom is saying AMEN to that!) Then if we break all the commandments, I think it will be more like when we came home and someone had shut our power off and all the food was rotten our house stunk and I think the AC was broken to so it was burning hot. That was a taste of telestial glory... so let’s make sure all our lives are clean!

Conference is just the most absolute amazing thing in the world... especially when you’re a missionary. My favorite talk was given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the priesthood session about different titles we carry. All I know is that would be the talk I would study big time and smash for the priesthood bowl. I think one of my favorite lines in that talk was “I don’t believe in a God who sets up rules and expectations to wait for us to fail so He can punish us.” I absolutely loved all of it! I actually had a really really funny experience before that priesthood session too. Some elders in our zone baptized an awesome lady. She seemed completely normal at first, but apparently she has some kind of mental issue like sleep apnea or something, and all of a sudden those elders started getting calls from her at 3:00 in the morning and crazy text messages. She showed up at conference on Saturday at the stake center and she was normal during the second session, but after she LOST it. She got up on the piano and started playing “Mary had a Little Lamb” and singing different songs really really loud (luckily she had a good voice). Anyways, a lot of the members had NO idea what was going on and Elder Hatch and I went up to the piano and she was going on about how she needed to present her gifts to the congregation, the apocalypto, and the bridegroom. We talked her down and brought her to a different room to play the piano and called her mom to come get her. It was pretty crazy and she just absolutely did not want to go home. There is a lot more detail to go into the story, but to make things short after an hour and a half of trying to get her to go home with her mom and a half hour into the priesthood session, one of the members who specializes in mental care sweet talked her into going home with her mum. It kinda made me laugh at how Priesthood session would have probably been a little bit different back home where I would only have to really worry about where we should go for dinner after. It was funny and made me appreciate the good times we have out here.

Collin you asked how you can prepare to serve a mission. I will do my best not to give you the mega list, but…

1. Most important is find a greater Love for the Savior everyday.

2  Do everything in your power to help you qualify for the spirit and recognize what it's telling you to do (Moroni 7:16-17)

3. Work HARD

4. Study plus memorize scriptures and become a centurion in seminary again. Those will do wonders on your mission.

5. Never be afraid to share the gospel. It never has to be something huge like giving them the BOM or teaching them the Plan of Salvation, (that's great if you have the courage to do that) but always look for oppurtunities.

6. OH…and don’t get senioritis! Once it is over and all your friends start leaving on missions and get married, things will NEVER be the same. Enjoy it while you can. Just like Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “We don’t say our prayers with the amen in mind. We don’t listen to music to hear the very last note, and sometimes we don’t have to ride our bikes at the fastest pace (except when your a missionary). ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!!!

Okey dokey….We had another week full of miracles, but I think one of the coolest ones was when we went to G’s house. We have him come out with us to lessons to share his conversion story and to help us get in when there isn't a male at home, and every time G will say “I am so very happy to teach with you”. Anyways, we went to their house and they had a cousin over who isn't a member of the church. So of course as missionaries, we POUNCE!!! We’re going over to their house tomorrow. Anyways, while we were there we went to go share the Mormon message DVD where Chris William’s family gets hit by the drunk driver ( which was mentioned by Dallin H. Oaks who I will get to meet in one week!) Anywho, they didn't completely understand the whole video so we had to stop, pause, and explain things to them. When we explained that Chris forgave the boy who killed his wife, son, and daughter...we could tell that the Spirit was pouring into the room. Then the oldest daughter broke into tears and told us how they had an 8 year old brother who got stabbed to death by one of their uncles and how it was really hard to forgive him. My mission is awesome! I love every bit and look forward to calling you on the Mother’s day whenever that is. Maybe for a family night you can write up some questions to ask me because sometimes I forget to answer a lot of them when they are emailed my way... Which reminds me! Mom, I think I would like to go to the Hamilton mission when we get split. It has the temple. It would be the third mission I get to serve in. Papakura, Gisborne, and Tauranga (the areas Connor has served in already) are ALL in those boundaries. It would sure stink to leave President Lekias though. I sure do love him to pieces! Either way, I’m glad to serve though! Love you my family! Be good!


Elder Ward


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Missionary FUN!!!

Zone Leader Council

The hills by Elder Ward's flat hiding the beach.
Elder Hatch...Elder Ward's Comp

Wellll HEY HEY HEY!!!!

I was on the computer and I couldn't think of what subject I should put so I just typed in the letter Y and “yea man-keen az” showed up! Gotta love Kiwis and their funny sayings and accents. Which reminds me….the latest one that I have picked up that I am having a hard time getting rid of is STRUTH!!!! It kinda means like “whoa that’s true”?! So when I heard about Collin's thunderous block, I let out a big STRUUUUTTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHH BRO! It's funny because I think I can remember Todd Brown saying that. You might have to email him and ask him about that! But good on ya Collin! I am glad you housed the heck out of that ball, but more importantly I am just glad you’re having fun! That was something I didn't really let myself do when we had our last out of state volleyball tournament. I kinda just let it get in my head.

Hahahahaha…sorry about that dog story…pretty good aye? Perfect timing to being read at Easter dinner with all the extended family gathered. I don’t think I could have planned that any better. I really need to get out of the habit of playing jokes and stuff I think they are going to get me into trouble. I actually want to show you a picture of our last zone leader council. I tried to do a serious kinda blue steel model pose. I am not proud of this one, especially cuz I look horrible compared to everyone else. So I have learned to take it easy with the joke playing...

What else happened this week? Oh yup, I forgot to mention Butterfly or Subwebwe got confirmed this weekend just yesterday. That was a great experience! I learned a lot this week especially during zone leader council. On the way up we stayed in Papakura, my old area, in the Zone leaders flat…Elder Galt, one of the old missionaries in my district, and Elder Read, one of the funniest guys you will ever meet in your life. We caught up with each other and talked for a long time about our missions and missionary work. I asked Elder Galt about how he feels being a zone leader. Of course he is overwhelmed and other things, but we both kind of realized that the hardest part about being a Zone Leader is having to be and do our absolute best. I realized that from the very start of my mission I didn't have a clue how to teach people or how to help them progress and overcome their concerns, and now I have the opportunity to teach the new missionaries how to do just that. I don’t know exactly why I’m telling you this stuff... but really that is what most of my week consisted of. We did a ton of driving up and down from Auckland and doing trade offs with other missionaries to help them in their areas and teach them.

I forgot if I told you or not but Dallin H Oaks is coming to our mission!!!! I am so super excited for that! I learned this past Wednesday how the mission split is going to work out for the new Hamilton mission. Wherever you end up or get transferred to come July is where you will be staying. So if I get transferred to anywhere south of Manurewa or if I just stay in Tauranga, then I will be in the Hamilton Mission!!! If I end up getting transferred up north to anywhere abouve Readoubt road, then I will stay in the Auckland mission!!! Pretty cool and exciting! They announced that a lot of people would be changing the trasnfer before, but I will make sure to keep you updated.

I got your Easter package. Thank you MOMMY and Ava for the good looking picture you drew me. I took a picture of me holding the one you drew for me.  I will try and send some of those pictures off to you. Sorry, I feel bad cuz I don’t have a whole lot of cool stories to tell this week, but one was with a girl named A who is 8 years old and stays with a less active family. We went over to go have a lesson and A was sick! So, we gave her a blessing. We went over the next morning to bring them to church, but they had just gotten back from the hospital. I was worried that it would have damaged the family’s faith that her condition worsened, but when they came out of the car the dad actually insisted that we gave her another. We went inside and sang, “I Feel my Savior’s Love” as we huddled around a chair to read from the Children’s Hymnbook and gave her another blessing. The whole family felt the spirit really strongly. It was great too because we were able to use that experience to teach about the Priesthood for our gospel principles class. The Spirit was super powerful as we talked about the Priesthood and brought a lot of people to tears including G who spoke about the blessing he was given when he was in the hospital a few hours before his baptism.

It sure was another great week for Missionary wor...ur ugh I mean Missionary FUN!!! The church is true and I love you!

Elder Ward

Oh and hey p.s. Be good
Elder Ward trying to recreate the picture Ava drew of him.