Dear family and friends,
As you will notice, my letter to President was much longer today than normal. I am having a great day and just felt like writing heaps to him I guess. Normally I don't write in quite the same depth to him as normal, but I just felt like getting my thoughts out onto paper I guess, so my comments outside of the letter to him probably wont be all that long. It was a great week though :) The missionary work down here is just fantastic. This month alone we will be having 50 new missionaries coming in...... that will be almost half as many as we already have! So many new, fresh missionaries that will definitely need some training, but will add such excitement to the mission. I am already stoked for it! :) General Conference was last weekend in the states, but they re-broadcast it hereand S , so I will wait until this weekend to watch that. Really excited for it!! :)
Things are great here! :) Glad to hear things at home are good as well!!
Here is my letter:The weeks continue to fly by! I can hardly believe it is already General Conference again this upcoming weekend. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the time goes, just as you state almost everytime we are gathered in a group of missionaries. This week we didn't see a lot of lessons taught since so many people are either gone for the holidays, or preparing for their finals coming up. It seems almost every reply is "I'm busy until the end of October." But we don't let this dissuade us, we will keep pushing on and finding the Lord's elect :) This week, as we called you and shared, we were able to have our first baptismal date! Amelia, the referral we received a couple weeks previous committed to be baptized on the 24th of November. Her partner, who is a member up in Sydney, will be moving down in November and so we wanted to set the date to where she could be baptized by him while he is down here. They are planning to be married in the near future, and so we look forward to seeing this family be sealed in the temple within the next year and some months. What a great blessing it will be for their family! She is so awesome! I will relate the teaching experience of the night:
We went over with the Larkins, the Senior couple who run the Institute and YSA activities down here in the Canberra area since we knew that she would be involved in their activities and institute as well. They were more than happy to come and we all enjoyed a nice discussion on the floor together (her furniture hasn't come in yet, but we were able to sit on this 1,000 year old tongan mat made from a special tree bark which was painted and really cool. ) Although we were sitting on the floor, she wasn't in any bit of a hurry. We started with prayer and then she mentioned that she had done some research online about the Book of Mormon which we had given her a copy of on our first visit. She had found one of the mormon messages about a Bishop in London and his testimony of the Book of Mormon really inspired her. So she decided to write it down and read it to us! :) As she related his testimony, there were several verses, including Moroni's promise of how we can know the book is true which had really touched her and she mentioned that she felt the book was full of very powerful teachings. As we continued to explain The First Vision and more about Joseph Smith restoring Jesus Christ's church to the Earth, the Spirit was present and she was very excited to start reading the Book of Mormon to gain a witness for herself of it's truthfulness. Toward the end of the lesson, we invited her to be baptized on the 24th of November and she said that she would. After the lesson, Sister Larkin stayed and helped Amelia download the scriptures onto her ipad since she wanted to have a copy of the Bible, and Book of Mormon, and Elder Ah Fook and I literally were jumping and running back to the car shouting "We set a date! We set a date!!" We were so excited that she was going to be baptized I think we may have gotten a little carried away, but it was just such an exciting time for us! We have struggled the whole time we have been together to commit anyone to be baptized on a certain date. Everyone we meet we invite them to be baptized, but then they are not willing to commit to a date, but she was different. She is very prepared and we are privileged to work with her.
Some other things that happened this week: We had zone training meeting last Friday and afterwards, I had the privilege to go and work with Elder Pederson and Elder Roberts. Both are still in their 12 weeks training program and are being trained by Elder Farley. It was so great to work with them! New missionaries are my favorite to work with because they always have energy to go and work and always want to know how to improve. They ask heaps of questions and seek advice and so it allows me the opportunity to relate miracles to them. I have come to learn more and more that honestly, there are no tactics or skills that can make up for just opening your mouth with faith. One of the most common questions I get is in the form of "what do I do if....." For example, "what do I do if someone is walking away from me." or "what do I do if they respond this way....." and so on. Many times, in our quest to be more effective, we are trying to find the "one right way" Well, the more that I have shared with them, the more I realize that there is no "one right answer" there is no perfect question, perfect scenario or perfect approach. The simple answer is that in every situation, you open your mouth, and have faith that the Lord will fill it. Sure, there are things that over time we learn what may be bad questions, ineffective approaches and such, but by and large, everything that we do and learn comes from experience in following Preach My Gospel and following the Spirit. I have read Preach My Gospel several times and have yet to find a phrase that states "when tracting and the door opens, begin by saying....." Or "in response to someones questions about the afterlife explain...." This is what I have come to realize I need to continue to focus on and help others in the zone to become better at. Study Preach my Gospel so the Spirit can teach us how to be more effective. Then when you are out on the Lord's errand, trust that you will know what to say and what to do. While on trade offs, we were down in the city before and after grabbing some lunch. While walking on the street, I like to hand out pass along cards as an easy way to hopefully start a conversation or to at very least allow someone an opportunity to learn more later when they can look on the website. Elder Roberts was quite funny as he kept giving me challenges to see how I would go and approach someone. It was a great opportunity for him to learn as well as he kept giving me specific people to go and talk to and for him to see that no matter who it is or whatever the situation, we can open our mouths and share the gospel. My favorite one was when we were waiting at a light and a group of about 8 people starts walking up behind us, he turns to me and says "Okay, I want to see how you would do this, go and talk to that group." While I didn't get a chance to talk to all of them, I was able to talk to several while walking and then one of them and I had quite a good chat until she had to follow her friends the other direction. While I was talking to her, he and Elder Pederson were able to talk to the others in the group and it was a perfect teaching opportunity. Thankfully, I have come to the point where I am not afraid to talk to people and I love to help others come to that as well. As we open our mouths in love, we find that all fear is gone.
Many of the members we associate with are afraid to open their mouths in this respect, and so I hope to help them also come to find that opening their mouths to share the gospel should not be a frightening thing. In my time here as a missionary, I think I can honestly say the less than 1% of the people I have talked to have responded in an angry or negative fashion to me and so I know that our friends and neighbors and family will not either. If they truly respect who we are then they will not disrespect what is dear to us and our invitations to them. I sometimes think of invitations to learn about the gospel like inviting a friend to a favorite movie of yours. Perhaps they will not be interested in the genre, perhaps they will have other plans, perhaps they have already seen it and do not want to watch it again, but then, perhaps they will say yes and will enjoy the movie with you and afterwards be very glad you invited them. You never know until you invite :) The same with learning more about Jesus Christ's restored gospel and church. Perhaps they are not interested in Him, perhaps they are too busy at present, perhaps they already have been to church or met with missionaries and do not want to learn more, but then, perhaps, they will accept and be very grateful that you helped them to come closer to Christ and find more happiness in their lives. I hope I can continue to start and fuel the fire of missionary work here in Canberra. The world desperately needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so I am glad I can be a part of helping it spread to every soul who will accept it.
Love you all!