Monday, April 29, 2013

"If you want to know how much you are loved, wait until you leave...."

Dear Family,

Thanks for the letters. I enjoyed hearing about your escapades in Boston. I hope one day I'll go there.As for me, this probably was the hardest week of my mission. I was a little down because of lack of success. Appointments kept falling through so we ended up going to the garden with all of them instead. One day we went with Walter and cleaned an area for him to plant Kumala. As we roasted some wailoo yam on the fire we talked about the Gospel. We talked about the Priesthood and Divine Authority. The whole time he seemed to be in deep thought. We also followed my Dad (branch president) Mark, to his garden and we cleaned a large area for planting peanuts. This week we went to Leviamp and visited Warren and his wife. Warren is one of the pioneer members here in Malekula. He's in a situation currently where 3 of his brothers, all pastors for other churches are forcing him out of his area. They say he must leave the church and come back to the church that they are all in. He wouldn't do so so he had to move. Now him and his family live in a house way up in the bush by themselves. I was amazed by the strength of their testimony. I felt the spirit guide me to D+C 122. I explained the scenario they were facing at this time in church history and read the whole section to them. I felt so bad and really felt as Jesus did when he went to the sister of Lazarus, wben it says Jesus wept. I felt I understood. But most of all the news I have as of late is that I am transferring. Elder Haora and I are both leaving to go to a different branch here in Malekula called Louni. When I heard the news of the transfer I felt horrible. I hardly ate for 3 days. I went back and forth between acceptance and sorrow. I talked to President about it. Heavenly Father has revealed to President Brewer that they need us there apparently. I felt so bad for my family here, Mark and Margret and all their children. We literally were taken in by them. They would cook 3 times a day and call us to eat. They would wash our clothes. I really felt the same as with my own family. When they heard they were very sad. Mama Margret came back from the garden as i was lifting my weight. She came and sat close to me and talked about all the things she wanted us to do but won't happen. She talked about thier son, Brown (my bro) who will come next week (i told him to hurry up and come back from santo) She cried but I cried harder. If you want to know how much you're loved wait till you leave. Everyone in the area came to shake hands and see us off. Some were too sad to watch us leave and went to the garden in the early morning. We ate SO much as they all prepared us last meals and multiple houses. News spreads fast, I didn't tell anyone. Today as we left with all our things as I hugged friends as family I bawled. I love these people. I feel like us whiteys hide affection and aren't as warm. When they love you here it's very apparent. It's impossible not to love them here. Here we didn't have huge success numbers wise but I love them here. I thought of Alma 8:10. Now missionaries will no longer live here but the elders with the truck will come pass weekly. In the near future they should have elders when we have enough missionaries. For the time being, going to Louni with a little over a month to go. Thy will be done.

Elder Sears

Monday, April 15, 2013

"I have loved my mission so much..."

Dear Family,

Thanks for the worst update/letters ever haha. Please keep writing, I need updates from you guys to keep me going. I know you guys didn't get a letter from me too but it's because I typed one and just as it was time to send the internet here went off and only half of the letter was saved. I'll just give you a small update of what's going on with me here in Malekula.
Here all things are well. I really like my area. Tuluwe is a small branch of about 4 families and the average attendance is about 27. Leviamp is a unit under Tuluwe and is about an hour and fifteen minute walk from the branch. We live with the branch president, Mark Nori and his family. We have our small house in the middle of lots of other houses. Our house is in the middle of lots of coconut tree's. I fit in very well here. I've been here for about 3 months now. Missionaries before used to come here occasionally but never lived here. The first two were put here and I was the third missionary to serve here our of 4 now. I am the only one who hasn't gone to "DIVA" (scuba diving to shoot fish in the ocean). It seems like now everyone knows me here. Everyone is very kind. Volleyball has been a huge success. We got 2 big logs for the posts and hung the net there. Now every afternoon in front of the church is the social hot spot. Lot's of people come to play. At first it was mostly students from the school but now mostly adults. Play is competitive. I wish I was better at volleyball haha. I'm decent. There is a tournament coming up at the beginning of next month. We made a team with my companion and I with some of our buds. We will register and contribute to join the tourney. Should be fun.
Work here is still slowly progressing. I've been in other areas where tons of people are interested to hear the gospel. Here it seems as if no one is interested. To find someone to teach has been hard. No one has ever shown interest or inquired that we could teach them. It's all us contacting. We've gotten a small number of referrals but all from the branch president. I know some areas here in Vanuatu which are closed because of the lack of missionaries currently. Is it a waste for missionaries to be here struggling for one person to teach when others desperately want/need missionaries? Well, I do know I'm supposed to be here and it's Heavenly Fathers will. Why that is I'm not sure but I accept it. It's a tad disappointing. I'm used to being busy teaching all the time. Now we're struggling to teach a few lessons a week. Over half of our appointments fall through and they aren't there. I want to finish my mission working till the very end.
I only have a month and a half or so to go! Sad. I'm trying my best to be focused but it's hard when you have nothing to do all day and aren't busy. I am working as hard as I can under the circumstances. The other day we went to teach an investigator who had an appointment. He wasn't there so we went to a nearby family that we've befriended quite well. They invite me to everything and always want me to be around. I finally invited them to hear the Gospel but they said nothing and one father just said, next time, next time. No one will agree for us to come to their home to teach them. The major churches here are Presbyterian, catholic, s.d.a., and a.o.g. If only we had some support from the members. PS, have you contacted sister axcelline samuel in the MTC? please do so.
Currently in my studies I'm in the New Testament again. What a treasure it is. My companion and I have been assigned a training in Zone conference (Thought I would be off the hook since I'm no longer a zone leader haha). It's from page 26 in Preach My Gospel, "Why do people have trials and suffering?". We're supposed to get all involved separated into 4 groups to discuss and find answers from personal experience and the scriptures. Should be fun.
I have loved my mission so much. It has been a life saver literally. I have learned so much. Like it says in my patriarchal blessing, My mission will a big impact on the rest of my life and set a pattern for it. I've learned so much about Charity which is taught by everyone here. From being with these people and serving with many different companions I have learned about everything that Charity includes in Moroni 7 and 1 Corinthians 13. I feel like I'm not a very good missionary. I don't have great ideas and I wish I was more productive. But I do feel I really enjoy teaching the Gospel and trying my best. I have only small time remaining but I will not resort to what I've been seeing a lot here, "trunky" at the end of the mission. I want to end on a good note no matter how slow it is here.
Yesterday, we had FHE at a member families house. We read the Family:Proclamation (Famle: Wan Ofisol Toktok I Go Long Wol). After we talked about family. Here I've been noted by lots of missionaries to have a close family. One missionary, Elder Tupou from Tonga as he was going back home at the end of his mission, at the airport we hugged and he said "you are close with you family and I won't forget you because of that". Love you guys. Thanks for all that you do and all the patience you've had with me.

Elder Sears

Diligent study time....

NOTE: this is the letter i wrote last week. i finished it and the internet stopped working. this is 2/3 of the letter, the rest wasn't saved. sorry :/

Dear Family,

Thanks for the letters! Sounds like general conference was epic! so bummed i missed it. Hopefully i get to watch it next month when we go to zone conference in santo. general conference is so awesome. it's kind of funny, here in tuluwe i've read EVERYTHING. Every book or magazine of any kind i've finished. We have lots of time to study. An unchangeable part of the culture here is working in the garden. Every day from about 7 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon every village here is deserted. completely quiet. you can walk around all day and see one person if you're lucky. work is fine when you have an appointment, if not.... hmmm. sometimes we try our faith and walk around looking for peeps but we usually see no one. most teaching has to be done in the afternoon hours.
On my mission i've accuired a love of reading. if i'm not working i'm constantly reading talks, books, or the scriptures. Dilligent study has become a lifeline for me. I plan to use this to help me always be strong and to have the spirit with me no matter how busy i might get. i reccomend a GREAT talk by Dallin H. Oaks called 'Revelation'. it's from 1981 i think when he was a chief justice, not yet an apostle. You can find in in BYU speeches.
Ok, now i'll answer all inquiries i saw in your letters.
release date - they are aiming for june 4th. my travel/tickets haven't come through yet but should this week.
my slcc number - no idea! sorry.
slcc in august - i guess that's ok since we might be traveling a bit and i'll work and save money.
please contact: cynthia arnett 1(928) 2428296 and find out all details for byu hawaii, she's elder arnett's mom

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter in Malekula

Dear Family,

Thanks for the letters! I am SO glad you met Sister Waiane! She’s the best huh? She’s shy but full of goodness isn’t she? PS You’ve got another one headed your way. Her name is Axcelline Samuel. She is from the branch I’m currently serving in. She left a few days ago and will be in Fiji a week. She’ll learn English at the Provo MTC and then head out to the Marshall Islands. PLEASE contact her and let me know. She is the cousin of my favorite companion, Elder Samuel and all of her family is here with me.

Ok, another business note. At the Mission Office here in Vila, they are preparing my return ticket. My release date they are aiming for is June 4th. I found out you guys CAN pick me up here. What they’d do is give you guys a check for the amount of the ticket and I’d be with you guys. Although, I would still be a missionary and have to have a companion. They want me to get back to them. What should I tell them? Personally, I’d rather come home first and get going with work and school and find a chance to come back in a year or so.

As for me here in Malekula, it’s going pretty good. This past week was Easter Sunday and District Conference. I really enjoyed it. We jumped on the transport truck filled with all the members, which did a few trips. We all stayed together in a school classroom here in Lakatoro. Right next to it is the town’s football field and stands with a small meeting house for chiefs and politicians. We met in there. Instead of sleeping at the Elders house we opted to be with the members. I enjoyed lots of good chats, listening to Hymns on my ipod and cooking together. The classroom was filled with people all over the ground. I brought my “mat” (coconut leaf woven mat) which was enough for 4 of us.

I have to say it was probably my best Easter Sunday. We had great speakers. Some RM’s from here who served in New Zealand spoke. We also had nice musical numbers. President Brewer attended and was deeply touched by it all. All the talks were so good. As the talks were going I read 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. The main word and message that came out to me was “VICTORY”. I thought about all competitions. I thought about all sporting events and championships. Some have such fierce competition. But what are the stakes? Bragging rights? A ring? Honor? How about every person ever is depending on this moment. This was a competition against the adversary. He really thought he had won. Little did he know it would only be 3 days and during that time important work would be fulfilled among those who are dead. On the first day of the week, he made an unexpected “come from behind win”. His Victory affects every soul who will ever live. Christ is the best hero, athlete, or competitor of all. It’s almost unfathomable if you really think about someone who is plainly dead to get up again, not only living but perfected. I knew it already but the Spirit clearly testified that this event DID happen.

Afterwards, I got up and translated for President. I did it at Priesthood session the previous day. After I thought I’d let some RM’s who knew English do it. It didn’t go too well. People focused more on the translator and helping him than the message. President gave a 45 minute talk with me. I testify that the Gift of Tongues is real. He talked about every kind of doctrine and read the Doctrine and Covenants (which isn’t translated to bislama yet). With ease and clarity I spoke it all. As I translated I could tell the clear bislama translation I was giving not only could they understand but also made them be able to understand Presidents’ English as well. Afterwards some were almost in awe. President looked at me and said: “You have a gift”. I love this language. It has a very small vocabulary and makes you speak very simply. With it I’ve learned to teach the Gospel in a way that all can understand. It’s made me speak English really simply too haha. This week I also finished the Book of Mormon again. I think that’s 4 times now on the mission. I read the Pearl of Great Price for the first time. Wow. It truly is to be prized. Read about Heavenly Fathers conversation with Enoch. You learn how tender and loving he really is and how we are truly known to him. Moses 7:28- and on. I started reading the New Testament again. I love it and really enjoying it. As for the area, still trying our best. Hope to find some more this week and be brave to invite some new ones. Anyways that’s all I have to say. Love you guys.

 Elder Sears

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dear Family,

Thanks for the letters. Mom, I was sad to hear about Grandpa's passing. I really wish I could have been there for the funeral. I guess it's goodbye for now. Some day we'll all meet up with him again but the only thing different will be that he will look and act much younger as I'm sure you remember him. Be grateful for all that he did for you, look for the positives.
     As for me, I'm doing well here in Tuluwe, Malekula. I love being on the island. It's weird coming into town here. It's so loud and so many people, so much going on. If you guys saw this place, 'lakatoro', you would think it looks like one of those small places to stop off the highway at the gas station. I love being in the 'bush'. It's so peaceful. It's like your in another world. All there is is the people around you and greenery. I'll miss the peaceful feeling of being in places like this. The beauty makes me think of God a lot and the Creation. This morning after we crossed the second river in the transport truck I was thinking these things. To get to our area you have to cross 2 rivers. When it rains (this whole month) the rivers get really big and the road for trucks passes right through them. Sometimes you have to turn back or sometimes the drivers will 'chance it'. This morning crossing one of the rivers in white shirt and all I with others jumped out in the middle of the river to push the truck through where it was stuck. Water was up to the glass on the sides and covering the hood. The truck died 3 times before man power forced it through. The rivers and horrible roads have taken lots of trucks.
So my new companion is Elder Haora from the Solomon Islands. He's awesome. He was baptised in 2008 on the same day when President Monson was set apart. He comes from a small 'unit' with about 40 attending on sunday. It's funny to hear him talk. In Solomon they also use a 'pijin' form of english like bislama. It's very similar but some things are different. This last sunday we fasted for help in our area. Just from yesterday, monday, I can tell this week will be better. We bought a volleyball net in town. We cut some big logs and put them on the grass in front of the church with the net. Now every afternoon slowly more and more are coming. We had a good time yesterday playing with 3 teams. Here, a big thing is winning trust. You can't come up to a random person and talk about dispensations of the gospel and latter day prophets right off the bat. You have to joke around, smile, and chat a few times before you can get to an invitation. Here, you get REALLY good at having good casual chats. Also, I finished both Kolipoki books. They are epic. We held firesides in the branch and the unit and showed the other side of heaven and the restoration dvd. It went well. I feel confident that we can help this area. We have AWESOME members even if they are few including all of elder samuels immediate family. We just have to open our mouths and make friendships.
PS - a big yes to Carpinteria. That sounds great. Full family I assume? Yesterday was P day. We saw one of our buds/neighbors working outside. We helped him tear down his old small house for food storage to build a new kitchen. We started chatting and he asked some good questions about Right and Authority and our Spirits now and after we die. He's a former investigator. I ended up giving him a quad standard works that I brought intending to give to someone who needed it. We're also building the new church in Leviamp, the unit. On friday we walked down (1hr40min) and worked all day shoveling and leveling the ground. It was hard work but rewarding. The new location for the church is awesome, right on the road. Now we're meeting in someones small house. Also, every afternoon we're using the make-shift cement weight with the bench. Hopefully I'll have a decent 'beach bod' for when I get back haha. Also yesterday we bought a HUGE fish! 8 kilo's i think. It fed everyone in our small village with half of it. The other half we'll eat this afternoon. (lucky one dude has a ice box). Anyways, that's how I am. I'm still loving my mission and trying my best. It will be SO hard to leave this place. I've learned SO much from these people. Anyways, Love you all!

Elder Sears

Monday, March 11, 2013

Images of Malekula, March 5,2013

" We wield the bush knife...."
Banana Laplap Sorsor 
The members with President Brewer in front of the church...
The making of Laplap Sorsor
   Elder Sears & Elder Tula