Sunday, April 19, 2015

4/19/2015 Maury Maury

Mauri Mauri!
This, as always, has been another whirlwind week! (Luckily no
cyclones). We are making big changes to how and where we work on this
island, which is always an adventure. We now have a goal to go to
Ribono, the little islet, every week. Last week we went and again
realized how much potential this area has, and how it needs to be able
to have church there. So now our main goal is to start church there
and continue building the saints and members there. The only problem
is that it is so far away! Biking fast we can get to the end of the
island in 1.5 hours, and then need to either hire a boat (pricey and
takes time) or walk (exhausting and only can happen every other week on
the lowest tide).

 So even though it is difficult we want to get there
every week. Right now we have only been there twice, and it is hard as
people travel around a lot, but we have still been able to make progress
with our investigators. The most significant of which is Tawaia and
his Wife Tokarei. They are the couple that first asked for us to come.
Tawaia is super smart and really wants to be baptized, also he is very
educated with the scriptures as he was training to be a catholic
brother. Our first visit we gave him and his wife a book of mormon
to read, then we visited him once and he was only a few chapters in.
(He came to the main island at Easter and we taught him then). But
this last week we asked him and he said that he had just started
Mosiah (he finished the Isaiah Chapters!) and that there were two
verses that really stood out to him. One was about the importance of
commandments and the other was about baptism (2 nephi 31:5).

Well, baptism and the Holy Ghost was the lesson that we had prepared for
him. We believe, and he said even before we could bring it up, that
the Holy Ghost worked very strongly with him and with us for this
lesson. That the doctrine that stood out to him was the same as the
lesson we prepared is too much for chance. It lead to a very powerful
lesson where the spirit was so strong and we were all touched and
influenced by it.

 We have a few investigators that are so smart and so
ready to accept and believe everything we tell them. He is one of them.
 We were able to give him a lesson that is usually broken up into 3-5
pieces in one chunk and he was hanging off of every word. He also
totally believes every thing and gets excited by it. After his time
being Catholic his favorite doctrine that we share is that receiving
a testimony is only between you and God. You don't have to rely on the
Father or any one around you to know the Truth. When you pray you use
more faith because your prayers go straight up to Heavenly Father. Not
through Mary or someone else then up. He brings it up every time. Also
we can teach him so fast with his wife because he re-explains
everything back to us and then outside of lessons back to her. I feel
so blessed to have this time to work with him and build the church on
this tiny island that hasn't really had the chance to accept it or
worship before.

 This week we also had the opportunity to baptize Bakatokia. I haven't
said much about him, which is sad because he is/was a very solid
investigator. Now he'll be a solid recent convert! He is another super
smart super receptive investigator. He hasn't had any religion growing
up (he's 30ish now). He used to be a seaman but had to come home
because of drinking too much. We had no idea that he had a drinking
problem. As soon as we taught him the Word of Wisdom he said that he
had problems before, but wouldn't have any now. And he held true to
that. Dropped that and smoking cold to be baptized. His baptism was
incredible because you could just feel how ready he was. How totally
converted he is. We found two speakers for his baptism to speak about
baptism and the Holy Ghost. Then after the baptism gave him the time
to share his testimony. He basically quoted the page on baptism from
the Gospel of Jesus Christ booklet, but said it with such power and
purity that you could tell how fully he believed it and was ready to
live it. I love seeing the changes in people's lives as they come unto
 Christ. I love seeing the light come into their eyes and countenance's
as they accept the truth and have the faith to believe and act on it.
This mission is truly incredible.
I love you all!

Monday, April 13, 2015

4/13/2015 Happy Easter

Sorry I wasn't able to email last week. It was a national holiday,
Easter! I hope everyone's Easter was fun and fullfilling, and that all
were able to hear the wonderous words of our Prophet and Apostles in
General Conference. I was so sad that this would be the first time in
my life that I would have to miss it. But we went on scheduling our
missionary life just the same. It takes lots of scheduling to make all
of our places and times work. This week we had 5 baptisms (one was a
child of record, but we were still asked to teach him). They were
scheduled in our different areas for Aoutin and Tenang in Tabontebike
on Thursday, Buaurenga in Tuarabu on Friday, and Arinteiti and Tirawa
in Borotiam on Saturday. Then on Thursday Morning we found out that
the entire island would gather to watch General Conference on Sunday.
We were so excited, it's hard to testify of a prophet they have no way
to hear. But it also meant that we would not be able to Confirm, give
the Holy Ghost, to any of our baptized converts. But we went through
with it and had some beautiful baptisms.

This week I got a package from mom with candy suggested by friends.
They were all delicious and made it feel more like Easter. I want to
talk about just one. I was enjoying slowly eating all of the new
delicious things that I had received. One cool one was a package of
Candy Frogs suggested by my friend Zach Gates. I hadn't heard from him
in a while, so the memory was nice. I was deciding the best time to
eat it and was about to open it when I had an idea. Tiiwini, my recent
convert and one of my best friends always tries to get me to eat new
things when we visit him. His wife is an incredible cook so we are
always excited. All the time he'll say, "Have you eaten [ cat,
shellfish, stingray, mud, etc] before?" we'll say no and he'll give us
a great meal. I got the idea to do the same thing to him. I said,
'Have you eaten frogs before?" There is one type of frog in Kiribati
(not on my island unfortunately) and it is poisonous. Many people are
afraid of frogs so this is kind of a crazy question. He laughed and
said no. I said, "Well, there is one type of frog in america that is
eaten. I really enjoyed it at home and my mom just sent me some in a
package. Do you want to try it?" He was excited and said yes and
thought it was hilarious when he found out it was candy. (They don't
have a whole lot of variety in their candy here and had never seen
anything like it). They enjoyed it and it was made even more delicious
in the sharing. Thank you Zach for that Memory and fun moment with a
person that I have worked with and grown to love.

I also want to mention the lesson that I taught previous to that frog
eating moment. Tiiwini had been asking us to teach his family for a
while, but we were swamped with work so we delayed it until we
finished with his lessons. So now we have just started teaching his
wife, Karikiman, and youngest son, Taekatau. They have been taught by
their father so know a lot of our lessons before we have a chance to
share them. Also they have both been converted to the gospel by their
father for a long time now. (If I had more time I would add scripture
references). This week Karikiman shared her conversion story. She talked about how she used to be angry and people were afraid of her.
When we first visited her she was mad and almost refused to shake our
hands. Tiiwini would ask her to be polite when we would teach him and
make us food. But she refused and would lay in the corner of the house
saying that she was too tired. But I think that by laying there she was able to hear the lessons and feel the spirit. She said, multiple
times, how strong the spirit has worked in her life. She just kept
saying how greatful she was for us, our lessons, and the Holy Spirit
that we have brought to her. She says she is happier now and people
aren't shy to speak to her. I feel so blessed to be able to have been
able to work with her and see this change in her life. People are so
blessed, I can personally testify, when there is a righteous force as
the head of their home. I wish I had more time. I love you all!