Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016: Australia Week 27

Another week in Mount Barker:

This week we've been smashing the bikes--the other day we rode about 15 miles in total up and down winding hills to visit Hahndorf, a German town in our area. There are lots of Europeans around here for some reason--Scottish, German, French, etc. 

This week we taught Luke, a referral we received from talking to his brother on the street. Luke is a young man in his 20s and has a lot of deep questions about God, religion, the universe, etc. We taught him the Restoration and testified of the truthfulness of what we were teaching him--at one point we asked him, "What would it mean to you if you knew this message was true?" and Luke goes "I think your message is true" and later on he said, "You know, I've kind of always wanted to be baptised." My companion and I looked at each other like, Where did this guy come from? We will be teaching Luke again later this week so I'll keep you updated on how it goes. 

Lately we've really been working on testifying to everybody--on the street, in their homes, at the park, at every opportunity, because that is when people can feel the Spirit. One of the most frustrating things as a missionary is when you testify to someone and feel the Spirit as you do so and then that person hard-out rejects you. There will be times where you feel the spirit talking to someone on the street and you can tell they feel it too--you can see it in their face; and then there will be times when you feel the spirit when testifying to someone and you can tell they aren't feeling it because they harden their hearts and shut it out. 

As far as the members, the ward here is spot on. They have a pretty big YSA so it's even better. Here are some photos for you: 

1. Another day on the bikes, with some cows on the hill. There are cows and sheep everywhere here. 
2. A typical street in Mt. Barker. The whole place is hills, so we're getting pretty massive thighs from being on the bikes. 
3. An most honourable Elder in the aboriginal culture. 
4. The wetlands, a place we go contacting. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 7, 2016: Australia Week 26

This week we've been doing an insane amount of riding around on bikes and finding. I'm not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but the mission has reduced kilometer allotments significantly in an effort to encourage missionaries to ride their bikes and talk to people on the streets. Since we have a massive area it's been a challenge, but we've found a couple new investigators from it. 

Last week we found Daniel, a man walking on the street. We taught him a bit about the Restoration on the street and he invited us back. We've had a couple of lessons with him since then and he's super excited about the gospel--he says he feels greater happiness when we come around and when he understands the things we teach him, and he's always had a great respect for God and Jesus Christ but until now he's never had anybody to give him direction. We invited Daniel to be baptised and he accepted. One challenge we face with him (and many Australians) is that he is living with his girlfriend so he will need to be married before he can be baptised. Daniel is the man though, and I have confidence that he will be able to do it. 

This week I went on a trade off with Elder Kelese (from Samoa) from the Naracoorte area (5 hours south from here). We went finding on this one street and had a couple good conversations with people but no one was keen, so we were about to head back for dinner. I thought we should knock a couple more doors, so we started walking up the street when a random guy with a big black beard came out of his house and said, "Hey! Do you guys wanna come over for a barbecue?" Elder Kelese and I looked at each other like, Did he say what I think he said? The bearded man said, "You guys looked hungry, so I thought we should have you over for dinner". So Elder Kelese and I had dinner with him and his family and church friends (from a pentecostal faith), and they said we could come back again.  

A challenge we have in Australia is that so many people are atheists. I can't tell you how many people say, "If there was a God, then why do terrible people murder others and why do babies die, etc., etc." The foundation of Heavenly Father's plan was agency--the ability to choose good or evil, the ability to act for ourselves. The Atonement made it possible for everything to be made right in the end--no injustice we suffer will be left unjust in the end. Every trial, pain, and challenge we face offers an opportunity for growth and increased trust in the Atonement and Heavenly Father's plan. Mortality is meant to be imperfect. Ether 12:4-6 and Alma 60:13 helps us understand why this is. 

Another related spiritual thought:

People with no concept of how faith works say seeing is believing, but if you really understand God, believing is seeing.

Here are some photos for your enjoyment:
1. There are heaps of these birds in Australia--they're everywhere.
2. What our area looks like from above. 
3. The view of Adelaide from Mt. Lofty.
4. The Mount Barker area--our area isn't just one main city: we live in Nairne (pronounced "Nan"), but all of those highlighted places are little towns we go visit and see members in, so it's a very unique area.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February 28, 2016: Australia Week 25

After being in Katherine for 3 months I was expecting to stay, but Elder Duabe is staying instead and I, along with a couple other missionaries from Darwin, flew across the continent again down to Adelaide. I'm now in Mount Barker, a massive area about 30 minutes outside of Adelaide. My companion is Elder Gaastra, from Auckland, New Zealand. 
Elder Gaastra is doing his second transfer so I am finishing his training. Our district has 3 generations in it, my dad (trainer) Elder Kendall, me, and my half son, Elder Gaastra. Since Elder Gaastra is in training we've been figuring out our area this week and have been doing more finding than I ever have in my mission, riding everywhere on bikes, talking to people in the parks, and knocking doors. 
Coming from Katherine where 60% of the populace is aboriginal, it's strange to see so many white people again. This area is very wealthy and prideful, but we've come across a few humble people as well. We haven't taught many lessons this week since we've been spending the majority of our time finding potential investigators. We have a ward here with about 150 active members and I hear the YSA is one of the best in South Australia. Our members are very strong and many of them are keen to come out and teach lessons with us which is awesome. 
It's very cool down here--such a nice change from Katherine. The Mt. Barker area is all hills with windy roads with lots of forest and open plains. If you can imagine living down in the lower areas around Mt. Charleston, that's what it feels like. 
We also attended an islander wedding this week--one of the Murray Bridge (where Elder Kendall and Elder Fitzpatrick are) investigators got married at the chapel. And on Sunday we had stake conference--one of the best meetings I've been to in awhile. 
Elder Kendall was bit by a spider a month ago on his forearm and had to have surgery on it, and a few days ago he got bit by another spider just inches away from the first bite. He had to have surgery for that one as well. Keep him in your prayers.
Thank you so much for all the packages and letters--I got the one from the ward a few weeks ago. I have some photos for you this week as well:

1. A spider we found at someone's house in Katherine.
2. Where we stayed in Katherine.
3. Last day in Darwin.
4. Elder Makai, me, and Elder Fitzpatrick getting ready to fly down to Adelaide.
5. Flight path.
6. The view from the plane
7. Mt. Barker area--my companion
8. A park in Mt. Barker where we go contacting often.
9. The plane flight down.

February 21, 2016: Australia Week 24

Hey Mom, how's it going? This week is transfer week so we only have a few minutes and we may or may not get a second chance to email later this week--if not, you'll hear from me next Monday. Elder Duabe is staying in Katherine even though he's already been there for 6 months...And I'm flying across the continent again to Adelaide. I'll be in Mount Barker, an outlying area outside of Adelaide. Mount Barker is a massive area with a lot of towns. From what I've heard, we drive all the time because the place is so spread out and we don't really have a central town to proselyte in--just heaps of towns we will go visit all the time. I'll also be training a Filipino Elder named Elder Gostra--I'll be doing the second half of his training. So wish me luck with the gift of tongues because I've heard he hardly speaks English.
I'll be in the same district as Elder Kendall (my trainer) and Elder Fitzpatrick, so p-days will be the best.
I'm pretty disappointed about leaving Darwin. I wish I would've stayed one more transfer in Katherine even though it's extremely hot and lonely at times. But I'll be going down to cooler weather and will almost never be riding bikes, so that will be fantastic. Anyway, I'll get some photos up either this week or next.
Love you Mom!

February 15, 2016: Australia Week 23

Hey everybody, I've got some photos this week. I know I haven't written a real email for you in awhile, so I'll do my best to do that next week. Once we email President and upload photos there's not too much time left, but I'll share some stories with you next time. 

Photos Link:

1. Brother Friday looking scholarly.
2. We found a new place to live. We occasionally go out to visit a less active member named Moses and his wife and kids and this is where he lives. 
3. Elder Duabe's birthday lunch. The Farrers are awesome: they always shout us steaks when they come down. (To "shout" means to pay for someone, usually in reference to food.)
4. One way to wash a car. 
5. If you look closely, every one of those black dots is a bat. There are heaps of bat-infested trees in Katherine.
6. Edith Falls. Sometimes a less active member will take us out to see some scenery, and it's always nice to go for a p-day hike.