Sunday, September 29, 2013

Running a Mini MTC

Taranki Sunset

Dearest family,

Elder Hammar is the Man!
Another transfer finished! So here is the report. I AM STILL IN NEW PLYMOUTH!!!! Also more fun news, I have two more boys that I am training. I had TWINS!!! Elder Rasband and Elder Misbach (MIZ-BOK). And Elder Hammar who I have been training for only 6 weeks is still in the same 4-person flat with me so I am, in President’s words, running a little mini MTC... How’s that? It’s a little taxing sometimes but I love the challenge. Elder Hammar is the man and is helping me out big time with a lot of the training. But yeah, that now makes four children in my mission posterity—Elder Loffhagen, Elder Hammar, and the two newest additions to the family. I know Elder Loffhagen cooked me up a grandson already so I am hoping to have a pretty rich posterity before I

To answer some of your questions, Mom, I do not wear those white slippers [see picture] as proselyting shoes. They’re comfy, around-the-flat shoes. They [the Goodmans] came in the middle of our companion study. And yes, I believe that was Elder Hammar [in the picture]... Thanks for your letters everyone. It’s good to hear from everyone, and sorry Ava that you’re sick... that’s why you should become a missionary and choose the right because if you do that even when you get sick the Lord will help you get better way faster!!! I was only sick from Sunday morning to Sunday night.
The Goodmans picking up junk from our flat

Sorry, got to go quick. I have to help some sick missionaries do their shopping and drive them around. J

Other funny news… we had interviews with President this week. He came down to help out in the district and to make some callings and do some temple recommend stuff. Anyway, I told President my PERFECT KIWI FRUIT PLAN.... Haha. We had a good laugh but he let me know the obvious, that it probably couldn't happen... Parents, I only want to do what makes everyone happy. I will put the ball in your court. If you come what would you want to do? Give me some details on your expectations (how long you would want to stay, min or max, things like that, and I know money isn't everything but an overall cost for the whole trip.)

Sooo one funny thing that happened this week is my mission president’s WIFE GAVE ME A HUG!!!!!!!!!! It was the most special moment of my life. J And then right after that, Sister Labrum one of the cute, old office ladies gave me a hug too!!! haha I have reduced myself to hitting on old ladies J like the 86-year-old librarian at our branch, Sister Hamilton. I always tell her she is beautiful and that she is the best librarian in the history of the Church... She has been doing it for 26 years now so she better be good.

The work continues to press forward. We continue to find people to teach and things are going well. I love you guys and please don't think that it was the kiwi fruit that was more important than the family... it definitely is a WHOLE lot more than a bunch of fruit. I look forward to seeing you guys more and more every day and if I wasn't engaged in such a good cause I would probably have asked to come home sooner, but I want to let you guys know that you’re more important than kiwi fruit.   

Elder ward   

Me and Sister M

Sleepover at President Rudd's

Cool Jammies!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Growing Leaps and Bounds in New Plymouth

Good to hear from everyone! I am not going to lie. The excitement from reading emails from family never has really worn on me... I look forward to hearing from you guys every week. Soooooo lots to talk about. Let’s start with Aubrey first. Sorry about your lip!!! That will hopefully stop you from kissin any boys for the next while J and shoot, dang, was Aubrey the one on the very right of that picture??? You have some buff thighs (especially getting first) I thought Wards are meant to be the small people in pictures.

Mom and Dad, this might sound really silly (yes it does and is not going to happen) but I had an idea that got cooked into my brain this week. So, I figure that since I would be finishing my mission at the end of January I would be going NUTS!!!!!!!! until school started and I definitely do not want to get back into the lazy old person that played way too many video/computer games and watched TV all the time. SO I was wondering if we could somehow work out that I end up getting released while in NZ and I can go live with members or Golf back in Tauranga and work a job picking kiwi fruit. They make about 120 a day (that’s probably $90 in American money). Then I would just stay for a good 3 months or so until school starts up and I can apply for BYU Idaho where all the lazy bums who didn't apply themselves like me go. J   I know this may sound a little out of it but I think it would be good for me. Plus I think the only way I would be able to make that happen is if you come get me. J And if you did come, I would like to stay as long as you like. The only problem is the $$$$ it would cost to do everything.

Anyways yes I will give it more thought. I am still torn...

 More news, yesterday I got SUPER SICK… probably the worst I have ever been on my mission. It was absolutely miserable to the point where I had to ask for permission to take it easy for the day... The first time ever on my mission where I had to stay at home because of illness... NOT FUN. But I woke up this morning with a somewhat miraculous recovery. I felt a lot better. Still a little bit of aches and pains but I am doing 1000 times better than yesterday.

Mom, thank you for continuing to pray for us to find more people to teach because things are still going AMAZING. I have started to figure out that the Lord has sent me here to just start things going—to start from ground zero and begin to build a solid foundation whether it's with the teaching pool, members’ trust, and a good solid attitude of working hard and positive. New Plymouth and most of the Taranaki zone has made leaps and bounds in the past 2 and half months. I haven't baptized a single soul down here but I am still grateful that I got to come down. Oh anyways, about finding more investigators, ON Saturday WE HAD A MEAN DAY!!!! We found a mom (brother M's daughter, the guy who played badminton with us.) Then we found C and his brother (a lost recent convert and his non-member brother) they came to church yesterday and then we found a young couple who just had a baby. The guy is a less active member who wants to come back and his wife is keen to be taught.

GOOD NEWS, remember the C family???? Their dad has finally picked a date for their son to get baptized. I believe it is October 28th!!! Not a convert baptism but it still means the world to me! I am so pumped they let us know when we went to their house on Friday. Anyway, I finally have my camera, my cord, and the right memory card so I will send some pictures. Loves you!


Elder Ward


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Your Prayers Actually Worked!!

Dear family,

You would not believe it!!!!!! Your prayers actually worked!!!!!! Hahaha I totally forgot that I asked you guys to pray that me and Elder Hammar would find a few more people to teach... Well IT HAPPENED!!!!!!! We found 6 new investigators this week!!! The past average has probably been 1.5 and those 1.5 have not been that solid anyway, but yesterday we found two ladies who both have lost loved ones recently. They invited us in and we shared the Plan of Salvation with them. WHOOHOO!!!!!!!! They were in tears half of the lesson and we got invited back for another lesson tonight. Also, Dad was right. One of the members of our ward is from Kenya and she brought her friend to church who is divorced and going through a hard time and is looking for truth. She is super out going and even though we already had 8 people in the Gospel Principles class we basically focused it all on her, which she was perfectly fine with. So thank you family…your prayers and many of mine were answered.

Siiiiiggggggggggghhhhhhh.... Sooo I have some news to break. Last Monday I was pretty dang conflicted after I learned that Collin would be leaving January 7th. I kinda started making a list of what I would be missing out on if I didn't make it home in December. 
1. Collin
2. Christmas
3. School
4. Ava's baptism  then a few other things...
I was so conflicted that I asked President Rudd if I could talk to him when we had our mission temple trip which I will let you know more about later. Anyways, I will admit I told him how I felt and that it would be nice to see if going home in December would be an option, and I asked for his opinion on everything. He didn't really give me an opinion.. :I but he told me he would see what he could do. I prayed and asked a lot to know what I should do before and after but it wasn't that clear. It honestly was making me angry that it was weighing so heavily on my mind. Then eventually on Sunday during Priesthood we had a lesson on submitting to the will of Heaven. I honestly couldn't focus on the lesson, and I will admit that I probably didn't hear a single thing that was being said. Then out of nowhere someone said something that reminded me of a scripture I had read earlier that morning. In 2 Nephi 9:39 it talks about being spiritually minded leads to life eternal. Then the Spirit slapped me in the face and said something along the lines of “Elder Ward you need to be a little bit more spiritually minded”. So I quickly texted the mission president and said something along the lines of... "forget everything I talked to you about leaving early. I can't escape the feeling that even though I would miss out on a lot back home, I would miss out on a whole lot more if I finished my mission six weeks early."  President Rudd approved and told me the Lord's choice is always the right choice. So sorry Bro!! Know that I still love you heaps! :)

In other news though remember how I said I got to talk to President??? Well on Monday when we figured out we were going to the temple in Hamilton, we asked president Rudd if we could come and stay at his house the night before ( because we were coming up anyway but would have had to stay in a small missionary flat with no available beds...) So we stayed the night at President’s house. I got to sleep in a room by myself on a well furnished queen-sized mattress. I was so comfortable I didn't sleep well, and even though my companion was in the room across with a bathroom adjoining with the doors open…I felt lonely...haha. I am going to have some serious anxiety when I come home. :) We woke up the next morning and ran around the temple grounds bare foot and in our jammies for our 30 minutes of exercise. THAT WAS FUNNY... Then Sister Rudd made us one of the best breakfast meals I have ever eaten on my mission.

The temple was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot wait to go as a family (minus Collin) haha…jokes. I’m definitely looking forward to all of us. We will just have to wait until 2016. I had a great experience at the temple and it is still my favorite place to be in the whole world! How’s the Gilbert temple doing??? Any word on completion dates???

Sorry Dad, I don’t remember all your questions and I don’t have heaps of time buts let’s just say that the changes I have made over the past however long I have been serving, I would not trade for anything in the whole world. Even something as simple as 42 days (six weeks) I would sacrifice a lot for because I know that those 42 days will be more beneficial for my life than anything else has to offer.

Anywho… keep being awesome family! Mom, I am sorry if I made you use a couple of extra tissues, but with all these changes I am starting to consider a whole lot more having you guys pick me up. Elder Lamb (former companion) is getting picked up by his parents in a week... So we will see how I feel when it gets closer.

Oh and WAY TO GO COLLIN!!!! Keep it UP!!!...before you become an awkward mess like me!

Elder Ward #3
Technically if you include Dad
Elder Ward #2 if this is just between the boys


Sunday, September 8, 2013


You’re doin’ it Collin!!!!!!! YOU’RE REALLY DOIN’ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SPAIN???? hahaha That’s sooo nuts! So it turns out Aubrey will have to be the one that goes to Africa, or Jared since you've got Europe covered.... Funny. Micaella Wilson is doing a nanny job in Spain for the time being. She was just telling me how pumped she is that my little brother is going to serve there. Well DANG! I will admit when I saw January 7th I was a little bit taken back. [This means that they will probably miss seeing each other by about three weeks.] Whatever the Lord wants though right??? You’re going to be great, Collin! Start preparing now. I know you have been but even double now! Mom is right. Still focus on your school (you kinda need to), but YOU ABSOLUTELY cannot lose focus of the little things (Book of Mormon reading, praying, and other church duties) don’t get stressed out and enjoy every bit while you can!!!!!!! The next minute you will be on your mission wearing a suit and tie every day! Remember YOU.

Sorry Mommy. I did not send the pictures last week because I forgot my cord and I did not realize that until after I sent my email and I had limited time left. Then I went to find my camera today and … sad news … I left it in my backpack which I forgot at an investigator’s house... DARN!!!! I STILL FORGET EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!! hahaha Even though I’m training I find that I am the one being reminded to do certain things or to not forget my planner, or to remember to put the phone on the table so we don’t leave it behind.... I am proud of my son (trainee). He is pretty dang good. I have made it a goal to have him ready to train in six weeks. We do something new called the 12-week program which might be just before Trevor’s time, but we do an extra hour of companion study, going through this program to let the new elder take the lead in different things bit by bit until on the 12th week they take over on everything as a senior companion. I am trying really hard to cram all of the 12 weeks into 6 so I am definitely working Elder Hammar hard and making him take on a lot of
responsibility and he is doing a good job!

Awesome story that happened this week… we ran into Brother M a Maori fella who was once a bishop in Tauranga but then moved down here and has been less active for more than 20 years... We met with him to give his wife a blessing, then a week later we visited him at his house. We started to get to know him and I figured out he plays badminton. I am still trying to figure out if it was my own will or the Spirit telling me to offer to play with him (it was probably both), but we asked if we could come play with him... Sure enough he agreed and we told him we would call our mission president to get permission and let him know what we would be doing. So after we left I called president Rudd and he said, “Yeah, go for it!” So we went for it! We played on Thursday night at the local YMCA so we played with a big group that gets together every week. I still got GAME!!! It wasn't super competitive but still great. Then when we had to leave, Brother M gave us a hug and said, “Thank you Elders for coming out with me. I will see you at church on Sunday.” J  And when Sunday came around, HE CAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He actually made it!!! So that was a big deal and a half. It made me happy.

Lately I have been having a hard time because we have very few progressing investigators with C and C putting the brakes on things... We have been doing excellent bringing a lot of less active families and people back, but I still get a little bummed sometimes with how few people we have to teach, especially while I am training Elder Hammar... It would be great if this week the family could just pray for us to find some investigators who are ready to receive the gospel!

I hope things are going well at home. It sounds like Aubrey is having fun doing swim! Don’t quit, Aubrey. And keep having fun with it! Ava is still Ava. Dad hasn't broken down yet. It sounds pretty much normal to me. Give me a round of inspired questions if you can, Mom! You should find a “Preach My Gospel and go to Chapter 10 and look under “Asking Questions and Listening,” two awesome chapters in PMG!!! That story was great! Thank you.

Love you tons family,

Elder Ward

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Never Lose Hope in Jesus Christ

Tenakoe Whanua,

I probably horribly misspelled that! WEIRD how much things have changed! I think it’s a pretty reoccurring subject that comes up when I email home and receive emails from you guys. The CHANGES that are happening, It's funny.  A lot of them are bittersweet, but honestly, I can’t remember any of them being negative except for that dent Collin put in the car while backing out. J  Correct me if I am wrong. There could be more.

So, I really do appreciate all your letters, especially Mom’s.  When I first heard she was doing it from her phone I thought, "Oh great, another short one," especially when I saw the big font. I snickered because I thought she just made the font big so her letter would not look so small. J It wasn't, and when she told me she typed it for 1 hour and 45 minutes I was impressed. I LOVE YOU MOMMY.

Happy Kiwi Fathers Day Dad. We just celebrated it yesterday in the beautiful land of NZ! I had a real cool sacrament meeting regardless of the bummer turnout on our end... I finished the Book of Mormon once again on my mission. I was reading in Moroni 9:25 I believe (sorry I don’t have a copy on me—what kind of missionary am I?!). As I read Mormon's letter of encouragement to his son, Moroni, encouraging him even though he had faced a lot of things that would cause most to lose hope, quit or give up, that he should never lose hope in Jesus Christ! It made me think of my daddy and all the good things he has done for me.

This week we had a great lesson with a member family... We visited them last week and encouraged them to help move the missionary efforts forward in the branch with whatever they could contribute. Right before we left they said, “Elders, invite any of your investigators for a dinner at our place.” SO WE DID! We invited a less-active mom and her daughters to dinner at their house (part-member family). We had dinner, the family enjoyed their time, and right when we finished the Mom knew what was going to happen so she asked our spiritual thought to be short. In a little bit of a panic (we had planned to teach the whole plan of salvation), so last minute I decided to just focus on one aspect of that plan—the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We turned to Alma 7:11-13 and explained that each of those things that Jesus suffered he did out of love so that he can succor or know how to fix the problem whether it be pains, sickness, infirmities, temptations, weaknesses, sins, and even death. The girls and even the mom got really into the lesson along with the member family. They couldn't hold themselves back and added a few points and their testimony.

I sure do love good ole New Plymouth and all the people here. I am sorry I have to keep this relatively short. I promise I will have something better next week but to make up for the shortness of the letter I will send a few pictures (which he didn't!). Good luck with Collin’s mission call!!!! I CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT WEEK!!!


Elder Ward