Sunday, December 23, 2012

As for Elder Watch and I, We're just dandy....

Dearest Family,

I got the first package! It was nice. Lolly packed. I especially enjoyed the Narration of Charlie Brown you guys did. . How are you guys? Hows real Christmas? haha. Everythings good here. We're in charge of planning Christmas for us 18 missionaries here on Efate island. It'll be fun. Thanks for all the pictures too. I love seeing pictures. Sierra is unrecognisable, really. Do I look any different? So I heard indirectly sierra got her patriarchical blessing through Elder Yunacks letter. Thats so great. I would really like to hear about that. So as for Elder Watch and I we're just dandy. He's a fun guy. We're a good combo. He's a super multitasker and sometimes go here go there worrier type. As for me I'm sure you remember that one time I was described as "laid back to a flaw" haha. We're a good balance. We LOVE our area. Erakor is an awesome branch. Lots of work to be done. Lots of Reactivation. There are SO many less actives. That's the branch's biggest need. Any advice, stories, experiences, scriptures, etc. on that topic? I really like working with Less actives. It's a long/rewarding work. They still have a testimony. You just have to help them remember. In response to this work President Brewer said read every verse out of the Topical Guide under LOVE. That is so true. People can tell so easily if you really care about them or if you're there just to do work. We've been working with a family of members here. They're all members in the family. The dad is the 1st councelor in the Elder quorum. Only the mom still comes. We were teaching 2 recent convert girls in another yard when we found Alan, 9 yrs. from that family. We were able to start teaching him and his whole family were joining all the lessons until today. Yesterday when we got there we found Alan and his mom there waiting on time for the appointment. We found them having a discussion about repentance, the last principle we shared with him. The parents love us coming and everyone see's Alan learning and that it's helping him. His mom, Anna gave a heartfelt testimony that the church is true. The dad, Freddy really likes us. He has high respect for us and always walks us back to the truck. He'll ask," when are you guys coming back?" It's going slowly but I know they'll come back. Also enjoying teaching Maksai and Tuman. They're great. He's really interested in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They want to change so badly. I can't wait for tomorrow when we get to teach one of my favorite things to teach: the Plan of Salvation. I wish we could be in our area more. Being a Zone Leader is good but lots of extra stuff. We're trying best to serve all our missionaries. We're well liked because we never say no haha. We get some pretty funny requests but gotta do it to keep em happy. We're planning lots of stuff like Christmas, Zone Conference, a fireside, activities for the branch, and A trip to Solomon in February. Crazy. Trying best to manage our time well. Still enjoying my studies as always. I've been thinking a lot about applying to BYU. Elder Arnett here is trying to talk me into BYU Hawaii haha. I really enjoyed this last conference reading it all the way through in the Ensign. We are so blessed to have Prophets and Apostles. I really liked "Beware of yourselves" and "The First Commandment". I love studying. The mission has taught me just to study the scriptures but to LOVE them. I really do. They are a TREASURED possesion. I know my life will get busy when I get back but one thing will help me to grow and progress spiritually even if I'm no longer on the mission. Daily scripture study. I have to be disciplined and not miss. I don't want to grow complacent. I want to always be progressing, learning and becoming better. I want to serve others and learn more and more the meaning of Charity. It'll be hard but it's what I want. Anyways that whats on my thoughts, random. Thanks for all you do. Love you guys.

Elder Sears

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"When I think about the people in Gaua..."

Dear Family,

Another good week. I learned a lot this week. I went to Tanna. We went to Tanna to do a Zone Training. Elder Bacon + Elder Vaiho (tahiti) and their 2 districts came. We met in a small bungalows meeting room. A small room with white coral on the floor with the ocean off in the distance. We gave a training about "Area Loyalty". We talked about the small areas that the Lord has trusted us to look after. We talked about how many people were in their areas and how many were called of God with authority to preach the full gospel, only 2 out of all the thousands of people in each missionary area. We talked about what Christ did when he went into an area. He would minister to people one by one and look for those in need, suffering, sin etc. We talked about what Christ would do if he came to the area we are serving in currently. It was thought provoking. We tried to shift the focus of the missionaries away from themselves and towards: THE PEOPLE. We shared the story of President Gordon B. Hinckley on his mission when his father wrote to him "Forget yourself and go to work", it's become our slogan. Some missionaries on Tanna have been there for a long time. I told them of my experience in Gaua. I told them of a time when I had been there for a long time and had thoughts of wanting to be out or go to a new area. I told them some day they will ache to go back to these beloved areas and people. I started a sentence saying, "When I think about the people in Gaua........" and I couldn't say a word. I was overcome with strong emotion. I explained how I might never have a chance to see my friends/converts again. That gave a strong message to the missionaries there. It made them grateful for the great people they are with. That was a really good experience for me. It really surprised me as well. Also about Gaua ,President Brewer has been there all this weekend! Gaua is incredible right now. The re-organised the branch and put some of my converts in the branch presidency and other callings. They'll be putting 2 more missionaries on Gaua because of the much work to be done. Ok ,so as far as Thanksgiving. We did celebrate! Elder Watch and I went with Elder Potrie (born canada/ lives in Cali) and Elder Harmon (UT) to a restaraunt called The War Horse. We payed a lot of money to eat a few racks barbeque of ribs/chicken/onion rings/and fries. It was so good! The place is decorated american style. State license plates and cowboy stuff all over. So some bad news. My beloved area Paunganisu/Nguna will be given to 2 different elders at the next transfer in a few weeks :(. They so deserve it though. They'll have lots of work and it's much needed. Here we go Erakor! We did find some epic investigators this week though. Actually we didn't do a thing They came/ were given to us. John and Meri in Paunganisu. We were teaching their neighbors and they just came and joined. The next time we came we stopped the truck we had just gotten out and they put out their leaf woven mats and were calling us over to their kitchen. We sat and had a great lesson together. We taught about our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ/Families. I love teaching those things. Some people think of God as some distant man or spirit that is so unreachable. I made an example with his own son and the feelings he had about him. I love helping people realize that God is loving and close to us. Also, our Elders quorum president, Charles is the man. He got back from the temple last year. He had  been trying to help his family receive the Gospel. All 8 of his siblings are a long ways away. Especially his oldest brother, Maksai. We met him yesterday night. We were supposed to have taught him during the day but he wasn't there. Later that night we had a dinner appointment. It was with Norton and Ainez. Also Henry Anderson (my companion from blacksands home already was there). Maksai and his wife jumped on a bus and came all the way to tell us sorry they missed the appointement. Norton invited them in to eat and we chatted. Every one in the room was an RM or us 2 currently on the mission haha. We had lots of support as they encouraged and explained things to them. Maksai seems awesome. He's a funny guy. He's a fisherman and totally looked the part with his beanie. He and his wife were there. He said he wants to change his life now and for good. He said he's sick of arguing all the time and losing his money on alcohol, kava, and tobacco. He is so convicted on changing. He asked if we'd be coming in every day. I pray that he's sincere. I know the Gospel will help him and his wife and 2 girls. We'll teach him on Wednesday. Anyways, that it! Love you all

Elder Sears

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Love My New Areas and Companion

Hello Family,

Thanks for the e mails! (more next time preferably) I'm glad everyone's doing well and it sounds great in Draper. You guys are the best family ever. Thanks for all the support. As for me here, I'm great! I love my new areas and companion. Elder Watch, is from the small island of nowea (spelling?), born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. We're doing great together. It's fun/challenging because we are both new to ZL and our areas. ("white wash") We've been depending a lot on members to show us around and to people. I LOVE my two branches. The first is Erakor. Last sunday was our first there. It wasn't a nice church house like the others here in vila, just a tin roof and coral spread on the floor. The yard it was in was nice. Lots of trees for shade, beautiful day. Also our mission president, President Brewer came with his wife to attend. Throughout the 3 hours I felt the spirit in abundance, more than I had in some more established branches. We're small but there are great teachers. I love President Brewer. He is super deep. Sometimes I'm amazed at how much he knows about the Savior/His life/teachings/attributes. It really feels like he grew up with Him in one home and came here to tell us about Him. I love hearing about his mission. He served amoung  the American Indians. He had 2 areas. First area: 13 months, Second + Last, 11. Harsh conditions, cold and hot. Elder Watch and I went and chatted with him today. He said his goal was to become an Indian. He totally immersed himself. He has such deep love for those people. If you even mention them he'll start to tear up. (larry echo hawk's talk in last general conference got him good) I love the people here. I've learned a lot of things from them that I don't know if I would learn elsewhere. They are so humble and loving. Vanuatu is a great place. It's well hidden for a reason. My other area, Paunganisu is pretty epic. It's the newest branch organized here. It's clear on the other side of the island. When we teach there in our commute going and coming we end up rounding the island. Such good scenery on that drive. Some day you guys have to see this place. The members are so enthusiastic and awesome. The Branch president, Eric and others are more than willing to follow us all day to teach any day. The elders quorum president here, Iaoko is the best. He has such a great story of change. The other day his wife tina, the YW president told me about it. Before his actions were reminiscent of Jacob 2 in the BoM. If you could see him today. He works hard in his calling and has a great family and wife. His wife told me about all the years of praying for her husband with her small son willie. Also a missionary here has an incredible turn around story through missionaries finding him. It all goes back to President Monson's last talk about "People can change". We also look after a small Island called Nguna off the shores of Paunganisu. They are a small unit. We jump on a boat after Sacrament in Paung.... to go over there. We're still learning the places and the people but I love it. My companion is a great blessing to me. We have a blast together. I feel we both have big hearts and help the other one to be better. I hope we can do some great work here. Anyways thats all for today. Love you all. Pray for me to be able to be efficient/organized/dilligent. Thanks for all you do.

Elder Sears


PS sorry for the $$ withdrawls. vila is expensive and i keep buying stuff for others.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Transferred to Erakor

Famle Sears,

Whats up? Hello from Port Vila, Vanuatu. The freshest news I have is that I'll be transferring. I'll be leaving Etas this week and I'll be transferring to........ Still Vila! But now I'll be looking after Erakor - Branch, Panganisu - New Branch, and Nmuna (Small island across from panganisu, it's a Unit). I've been called as Zone Leader of the Port Vila Zone. I'll be serving with Elder Watch. He's a large fellow from New Zealand. He's a big teddy bear. I'm really excited to serve with him. That means my companions, Elder Samuel and Iati will be in Etas. Elder Samuel will be the District Leader and take over training Elder Iati (what I've been hoping for). I'm excited, it'll be interesting. Both of us are new at Zone Leader (usually one is there to train the other one). Uh.... what do I do? It'll be fun though.  Now we 2 can just focus on the work. Zone Conference for us just passed. All the missionaries from Efate island and Tanna came together (34 missionaries). Including Elder Bacon :). We had some good chats as always. He's the best. Sister Brewer, President's wife noticed our strong friendship. Elder Bacon told her all about it and how both families had gotten involved. She described it as a "tender mercy" of the Lord. I gave a training about "how to begin teaching" out of Preach my Gospel. I used the story of Ammon/King Lamoni. It demonstrates perfectly how to win trust through example before even teaching someone. I love how Ammon taught King Lamoni in Alma 18. It's was totally according to his needs. It's helped my teaching a lot. President Brewer is the best. He gives some awesome talks. He makes everything super intense. He refers to mountains a lot and love. So how is the family doing? Are you guys having Family Home Evening? Family Prayer? Scripture Study? (now I know). I hope so. I'm excited to be with my own family again. I wonder if I'll be weird at all when I get back? haha I hope not. I hope my english won't be goofy. If it weren't for Elder Bacon it for sure would be. I saw you replied about my comment about feeling like not having a personality. Sad but true. I don't know what it is. I can recall before the mish I was one of the jokers in the group with my friends. I feel like I'm a tad serious and not funny anymore :/ I hope Elder Watch will resurrect Jansen. Any advice on being more lighthearted? Sorry I keep forgetting to write down stuff for good stories in the E mails. Sierra's picture's were..... interesting, haha. The other day we were eating and I caught a glimpse of Terminator. I was legitimately scared. I felt uncomfortable haha. I'm weird now. Anyways sorry about the lame e mail. I'll try to lighten up and give some cool/funny stories next week. Thanks so much for all you guys do. Continue with your prayers and scripture study daily. PS plan some bomb stuff we can do when I get back. It'll be fast. I want to go out with a bang. I feel I have so much I want to accomplish but haven't gotten there yet.  Petal to the Metal! Anyways love you all. Pray for me and I'll pray for you. Have a close relationship with Heavenly Father. I'm striving for it. Tell me what your learning in you studies and I'll tell ya'lls. PS sierra never answered that e mail forever ago about her favorite scriptures etc. I want that ASAP sierra!


Elder Sears

Monday, October 15, 2012

From Sierra's Instagram- with this notation,"Only 7 months, 2 weeks and 4 days until my best friend comes home..."

Olsem Wanem? October 14, 2012


Olsem wanem? I oraet? Thanks for the letters and pictures. Sierra, you look so different! I wonder if I do? Glad to report I'm not ghostly anymore. Gained some solid weight here in Vila. I wonder if you guys will think I look the same or different when I get back? Sierra, looks like your having a blast. The good old high school days. Feels like so long ago. All my memories are fading. I'm no longer sports savvy, I don't remember anyone hardly. It'll be good to watch games again with you daddo. Go Tigers! PS i know they're in the ALCS from Elder Gittins (yankees fan). I figure you didn't want me to be jealous haha. I wonder what fun stuff we'll do when I get back? Sierra, you need to plan some cool stuff we could do together. PS - I forbid you to be too cool for me when I get back. If you do I'll be really awkward around your friends when they come over haha. I hope we get to spend some good time together. I hope I won't be weird when I get back. Some times I feel my personality is hidden somewhere. It comes out occasionally when I talk with Elder Bacon but thats about it. Mom, I realized i missed your B-day. I am the lamest. I barely know what day it is myself. So sorry.  Todays P day. Spel nomo lo Vanuatu. (Relaxing in Vanuatu) Vanuatu is a great place. Very backwards in some ways but the people are awesome. They are humble. So I swapped out my old truck. I used to be in an older silver one that was destroyed on Tanna. I switched with one of the couples and took their brand new cherry red truck haha. FLAS! Still here in Etas. Should be out pretty soon. Still trying my best. I feel pretty urgent. My time is ticking and I still want to accomplish a lot more. Unfortunately, not much can be done here. I would welcome a new place to work. That being said i'll accept whatever I get. Anna is still doing great. I love her. This week we had a lesson I really liked. We talked about scripture study. I sat next to her and we practiced how to read/apply scriptures. She would read and apply it to her own life. She'll be getting baptised pretty soon. This week we found a good mama. She's a less active member. She had her leg amputated. Her family has had lots of problems. We will be doing a FHE (Famle Haos Naet) with her family next week and watching a dvd about family relationships. I like trying to help families. Also, elections here are going on. You guys would love seeing their campaigning here, it's hilarious. One time Elder Bacon and I talked about it. Politicians and Police men are all fake. It's like kids when they're little saying "I wanna be an army man". They have no idea what it means. One running for office on his poster promised cement roads on every island as well as running water and power. Also that Vanuatu will become a world power and no one will be poor. VOTE FOR HIM! Ok funny story. There is a store close to our house called Koroman. We go in there a lot to grab a drink or at night on the way home. I always joke around with the people who work there. There's a woman named Mary from Ambae. One time we were joking and she went to the register. A minute later I walked past her obliviously without paying for my stuff. I lifted up my cookies waving to her "Bon Garea" (Goodnight in language Ambae) She knew I'd realize and come back so she laughed her head off. A few steps later I realized and came back to see everyone waiting to laugh. Good times haha. Now they call me "Stilman" all play of course. Another funny story about an old guy. His lifestyle was less than ideal. His grandson observed and one day mustered up the courage to speak up to him. He went into the room he was in and made sure the door was open for a quick escape. He started to sing: "Read your bible, pray every day, Jos wanwan taem, blakaot evri naet" (Implying he read the bible every day and prayed and went to church every once in a while and drunk on kava every night) The boy ran away before the old "Apu" could get him. Sometimes I feel like a babysitter. The other day we were driving back from Conference, us 7 missionaries. They had the windows calling out, "gunaet apu!, gudnaet anti, gunaet ankel" (goodnight grandpa, aunt, uncle) I put the child lock on the windows haha. Conference was great! More excited for the Ensign to come. I loved Jeffrey R. Holland's talk as well as Russel M. Nelson's. Also Eyring's and Uchtdorf's. What insights did you guys take from it? Mom, thanks for the scriptures. They were quite appropriate and I liked them a lot. I'm excited to get home and be a part of the family again. FHE and all that other stuff that I was too lazy to care about before. Elder Mortenson and I had a great conversation yesterday. He's one of the senior couples serving here. He and his wife are from Oregon and he served in Michigan. He told me to develop good habits to bring back for my life. The mission is a concentrated place where it's easy and quick learning. I'm so so grateful to be on a mission. It's been a life saver. It's such an important thing for others and yourself. I wouldn't want anyone who could to miss out on this opportunity. You work hard and sacrifice and the reward you get from Heavenly Father is a new heart. I'm committing myself to things I want to continue to do the rest of my life. I want to always be learning how to be a better person. I never want to "go through the motions" (something I've thought about and observed a lot where we're from). Like President Uchtdorf said, we shouldn't be like the kid who dipped his toe in the water and said he went swimming as far as the gospel goes. This church and it's teachings aren't just words or information or things we do. It's God's will for us. There is power behind it all. We should never be complacent in the church. Anyways love you guys. Thanks for the support, prayers, and encouragement. 

Elder Sears

Custom Ceremony on Paama

Etas. Another week. Still trying our absolute hardest but having a
little bit of a hard time. Still trying to figure out what or who we
can help out here. Still working closely with our branch president.
Unfortunately nothing too special this week. No incidents. Lots of
people blocking us or our investigators though. I feel pretty anxious.
Only 8ish months left! So short! I figure I could have probably 2 more
areas. My next one I'm pretty sure about. Vila is good but it can't
beat island life. I've enjoyed talking to a lot of my recent converts
from Gaua. I've called them and chatted for a bit and encouraged them.
I'm glad to report they're all doing great. Trying to think of some
stories to tell. Ok here's an interesting one. I spent a good while
chatting with some of the members from Paama island. I got to know
Custom more. Custom is different on every island. They usually involve
families. They happen when a child is born, when he first shaves,
marries, and dies. Girls also have theirs. This week they did one for
a girl in our area. This girl, 14 stood amidst 50 men from Tanna. 50
men from Paama on the other side. All had tree branches from banana.
(not our bananas, different kind) The branch isn't wood, it's more
like rubbery. They stand up on 2 sides and face each other. They start
a fire in the middle. Once it dies out, attack! They bop each other on
the head and club each other and try to pull out a feather on the
girls head. (almost capture the flag) They can do damage though. They
all beat each other senseless and no one got the feather. One of the
members, a mama got caught in the middle of it by accident. She got
completely covered in her food she was making. If we came during that
time we would have gotten bopped and couldn't have said a thing haha.
Believe me, there's some good one's. Good old custom. Anyways,
hopefully next week will be better work and story wise. Havin a little
bit of a hard time but still trying my best. Still learning a lot and
enjoying my studies. I hope you guys are studying every day. From what
I heard you guys are. Anyways thats all for today. Love you guys.
Thanks so much for everything.

Elder Sears

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"I am Blakman..."

Ok family,

It was GREAT reading your e mails. I miss you guys. Glad to know everyone's doing well. As for me, I'm pretty good. We've had some pretty interesting situations this past 2 weeks. Good old drunkies. We've had some strong adversity here in Etas. The harder we try and the better we get the harder it is. We have some great investigators, but, they each have their large obstacle to overcome. We're trying our best to help them progress and achieve their goal. Every one knows the church is true. They want to be baptised badly. I know they'll get there. I feel like we for sure have the right spirit of missionary work. We are trying in every way possible to help them physically and spiritually. We love them and they love us.  Anna will be getting baptised this month. She is the greatest. She is an apu (grandma) from Malekula (Elder Samuel's island). Her husband left her many years ago. All her children don't take responsibility to take care of children they have. In result, Anna looks after 3 of her grandchildren; tracy, sandra, and charles. She is loving everything she hears inside the church and applying it all in her life. She's shared her needs with us. She has no garden to plant food and no money. They were hungry. We pondered over her needs for a while and came up with a solution that has worked. 2 times we supplied her with meat and onions and materials to make shishkabobs (don't know how to spell that one) basically. Once she has some built up she pays a little bit for the meat and we just transport it to her. So now she saves money for transport to go buy materials and she is self sufficient. She is so happy. School fee's were also a problem. Last sunday at church we chatted with her and our former branch president, Andrick Vano, now elders quorum president. I love him. I call his house the black hole. If you go there you can lose a lot of time and incredible chats. We have the best gospel/church chats ever. He's a huge guy from Paama. He's one of the pioneers of the church here. I love him because he has a charitable heart. He said he'll be taking care of the school fee's. A big problem here in Etas is talking without action. He talks little, pure action. Anna's a blessing to us as we have been to her. My focus/thoughts have been on Less actives. There are TONS here in etas. We've been visiting them and I love it. They all have testimonies. Thats what this branch needs more than baptisms or anything else. Lately we and President Hilliman (branch president) have been tight. We've been helping him with a bunch of stuff. We've had some good chats. He is dedicated. He has a great job (which are hard to find here) at asco motors. He just quit barely to give more time to his calling. Now he's a self employed garbage man on the weekends and his wife is cooking. Consecration. He has a big heart. So I got a funny compliment the other day. Apparently I am no longer white. I am "blakman". Not skin color but my "Fasin" (behavior, attitude). I was informed of a convo where 20 members were chatting and saying out of every white missionary I am the same as people here. My former companions were supporting it. I like it, they are great people and we can learn a lot from them. I dream in bislama now. The other night Elder Samuel got up at 230 at night to go to the bathroom. He heard me say "Afta, yu bin mekem wanem tede?" (What did you do today?) I also think in bislama most of the time. I also understand racism now. I've gotten the equivilent of racial slurs, stereotypes, and disrimination, no joke. Example: I was kind to someone and they said: "if I came to america you would have shot me already". (They watch videos and think we are violent and at war 24/7) anyways thats all for today... random, but I'm doing well and still learning lots. Not much success at all but I can honestly say I'm giving my best. The church is true.

Elder Sears

Monday, September 17, 2012

All Is Well Here....

Another week in Etas. Better than others though. I had a week of deep pondering. I was thinking mainly about the most basic part of our lives, God. I studied a lot about His character and about how to gain a close relationship with him. I got some talks on my iPod from Bruce R. McConkie. He's great. He has a great talk "Our relationship with the Lord". I studied a lot about God and how to improve my prayers. I've been making a bigger effort as I pray. What happened on Tuesday was what David A. Bednar described as "Tender mercies of the Lord" (good talk). We went out to teach and right as we got out of the truck we met 2 girls from Tanna. They were very approachable and we had a great discussion. Afterwards we taught a man named Richard from Malekula. We talked a lot about our Heavenly Father and how we can draw closer to him in this life. We also got into the restoration. He said he wanted to become a part of Christ's church. We assured him we would continue to meet with him and learn together. I felt really good about him and he was surely a blessing to us. After we ran into a woman named Mara from Paama. We came out of a yard when I saw her pushing a wheelbarrow with water containers in it. I greeted her and she smiled. I grabbed the wheelbarrow and started pushing it as we chatted some more. She was baptised in 1983 with some of the original members here. She has a big testimony still and has a great knowledge of the gospel. Some unfortunate choices have given her a little bit of a hard time. We grabbed all her water containers we could find and threw them in the back of the truck and filled them up. (Water is hard to get, you have to go down to the river and bring it back in large containers to cook and bathe) We went and she and her husband of another faith were glad to see us. I've been trying to improve my teaching. This week was a definite breakthrough. I felt the spirit guide me a lot as I taught and we chose what they needed. Missions are great. I've thought a lot about what it will be like when I get back. On my mission I've continued in a "change of heart" that I started to experience before my mission. I feel like my interests and desires have been centered in good places. I have a big desire to do whats right when I get back and never lose the conversion feeling/desire to learn+study. I miss you guys and I love you a lot. Thank you so much for everything. All is well here.

Elder Sears

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another week in Vanuatu


Another week here in Vanuatu. Good old Etas and her 'sofmud'. The highlight of this week was definitely the mission tour that went down. Elder Hamula, an area seventy came to visit the new mission. He's pretty epic. So is President Brewer. Both of them gave incredible talks. President Brewers got me pretty pumped. He talked about good vs. evil and beating the adversary. He made an example with Lord of the Rings haha. He enthusiastically described the scene where Gandalf stood on the bridge as it was collapsing and the evil monster/spirit was going to consume him and he shouted "Thou shalt not pass!". He talked about being strong and winning against  temptation. He focused our thoughts on our weapon we were to use, out of the hymn book, "Let us oft speak kind words to each other". After Elder Hamula went in depth on the gospel. His first words were, "Why are you here?". Some shared their ideas. He went into 3 nephi 27:19-20
  ( And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom: therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in his blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end
Now this is the commandment; Repent, all ye ends of he earth, and come unto me and be baptised in my name, that ye may be sancitified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.)
. He helped us get in depth on each principle. He asked us to think about how we would feel, being unclean, in the presence of holiness. He told a story of him being late for curfew and missing family home evening. He got home late opened the door and his mom was sitting in the doorway. He talked about if we got back from our missions and saw our family for a minute and then were separated forever to go live somewhere else. He focused more than anything on the "WHY" of the gospel. I was also chosen to have a personal interview with him. It was awesome. We chatted about the mission and then he answered some questions I asked. We talked about good scripture studying. Later that evening Elder Hamula spoke to the members of the Port Vila district. He put a goal of having a stake here in 2 years. He detailed what had to happen. He talked about a gigantic swamp. Countless members are in there and need help out. He talked about home teaching.
 So here's another S/E update. We talked to them about desire. We asked them about their life goals. It was really good. After, the next day my companion, while on an exchange, saw him drunk. He said," I want to see you at church tomorrow." Sunday morning we saw his wife and kids come but he wasn't there. Just as sacrament meeting was about to start we saw him come in the back. I smiled and looked at Elder Kalomtak. I was glad to see him not give up. Our former branch president, now elders quorum pres. had a good long heart to heart chat with him during sunday school class.
 We've been doing weekly service projects for him and praying for him a lot. We're doing a lot of fun service projects the last few weeks. This week we did 3 on our day for service, thursday. Firstly, we tied down 10 pieces of long tin roof about as long as our truck. We then transported it for a member. After, we went to Elder Kalomtak's village, Pango and cut 10 pieces of bamboo for Sam. Afterwards we painted the whole inside of our elders quorum presidents house. His name is Andrick Vano. He served his mission in Tahiti. We've become good friends and we've had some great chats. I gave him the Infinite Atonement book and the newspaper pictures of Mitt Romney. (He was very interested) This week we'll be helping build a house for a less active family, famle Beri. So we're teaching a mama from Tanna, Rose. She is so awesome. Unfortunately she has a bad situation going on. She works on a large plantation/farm/garden owned by a infamous millionaire from Vietnam. She's worked for him for 15 years. She is the manager of all the work boys. This guy is the worst. He makes everyone work 7 days a week. He doesn't want them to leave and go to town. Every day he'll pass in his truck and honk the horn and everyone has to run and greet him. In the evenings he'll come do somewhat of a family devotional then he gets 4 or 5 massages. They'll cook for him and he'll make jokes. He has a wife from vietnamn but he comes with diffrerent ones all the time. If someone asks to go to church on sunday, he'll make them dress up in church clothes and go hunting and bring back birds. Before, if you drove on his property he would shoot the tire on your truck. There are bullet holes and targets all over the coconut tree's. He is in every way the modern KING NOAH. Now he's tamed a little and we're fine to come in the morning because rose has some leverage. Rose really wants to get baptised and come to church every sunday but he doesn't let her go. Twice she has gone to church only to have this guy come pick her up church clothes and all and take her back. Rose is great though and she will find a way.
 We also had another interesting experience. We went to teach S and S the other day. They are from Tanna. Tanna is a pretty well known and interesting island here. We started chatting with them and they started to tell me that I and all other Americans were in tanna before. Then thousand of years ago everyone left to all the big countries. He then proceeded to tell me that Noah's ark landed in Tanna and that the paint used to paint the ark is there. Mount Sinai is here and the place where Moses came down and pieces of the golden calf are broken and in pieces. Also there is an area named Nazareth. They said Jesus' tomb in there as well. There were 100% serious and explaining all the places. It was pretty awkward. I was polite and showed interest but not belief, that's for sure haha. Anyway that's all I can think of. Just want you guys to know I love you and I appreciate everything you have done for me.

Elder Sears

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dear Family,

Olsem Wanem? How are things in the states? How's the ward? I'm pretty good here. So one of my 2 current companions, Elder Kalomtak will be going to Australia fairly soon after being approved for his visa. I really liked serving with him. He's from this island I'm serving on, Efate. So it will still be Elder Samuel and I. He's a great guy. He's really short so we look pretty funny together. Especially when he wears my clothes haha. So same old same old here in Etas. Still trying to find  people ready to hear the gospel. I think I'm here to learn long suffering. Being here has made my try a whole lot of ideas I've never tried and be aware of lots of things. I feel I'll be a better missionary because of it. We're still trying with S + E, and m. All I want to see is them get baptised. They are so great. This week we got to contact and teach a man named Abel. He is from Gaua. I baptised his dad and 2 siblings and recently his mom and 2 other brothers joined the church. I was friends with him before on Gaua before he left to go work construction. He saw all his family joining the church and he also had the desire. He asked for his phone number to be passed to me because he heard I happened to be working in the area. We taught him and 3 other guys working on building a small school. They're all from gaua AKA awesome. This week we also had a fun service. We went to pango (where elder kalomtak is from) and filled up rice bags with coral and sand. We filled up the whole truck bed and did 2 trips for sam and lenet. It was good visiting all of our recent converts and some less actives this week as well. I'd say the highlight of my week was on sunday. It was raining super bad. Our area here in Etas is notorious for mud. There's no pavement so it's total mud roads. When it rains it gets huge muddy pools and slick sludge. On sunday morning it was the worst. When I got to church I saw Samantha and Rota, 2 of my recent converts. They're 2 girls age 9 and 14. I was glad to see the sacrifice they had  made that a lot of the other members hadn't. Sorry, probably not the best letter. Everythings good. I've been praying a lot for s,e, and m and to be able to find success here. I'm trying my hardest. Hope you guys are well. I always love hearing from you . I enjoy the pictures as well.  Love you!

Elder Sears

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13th, 2012

Dearest family,

Sorry I couldn't write last week. I enjoyed reading all your letters. When I think about my home and all the things I knew before it really seems like another world. I forget what watching sports was like. I've forgotten most of the music I like. Occasionally I really miss watching baseball in the basement with dad or I miss listening to the music I like. Being here is different. It's so completely opposite in every way. Nothing is similar. Because of that, nothing jogs my memory of home. I know it's going to be weird coming home. I hope some day you guys can see this place. If you guys came at the end of my mission you  would love it. It would be unforgettable for sure. I'm aware it's way expensive haha. So everything here is pretty good. Not great but good. I've been here in Etas for about a month and a half now. Still with Elder Samuel, thank goodness. I survived a transfer, just barely. It was going to be me or Elder Bacon going to the island of Tanna to take the place of a He's going to love Tanna. It's the fastest growing island as far as the church and missionary work here. Elder Bacon is such a good missionary. I'm so glad I got to serve with him and find a great friend for now and after the mission. I talk to him a lot as we exchange ideas and help each other out. I should be here for a good while longer. I've heard I stayed for a reason and that they have a plan for me, haha, but we'll see. I like it here. I like being District Leader because you really get to know the missionaries better as you serve them and it motivates me a lot. We're facing a bit of a struggle now. The members here are so awesome. They're the pioneers of the church here in Vanuatu. They know the church well. I've befriended lots of them and have had some great conversations. BUT they don't help their missionaries out for some reason. They kinda take missionaries for granted. My companion and I have spent this whole time trying to rally the troops if you will but it's yielded exactly 0 referrals and 0 help in missionary work. Our branch president has a big work load in this branch so I don't want to trouble him. I've realized that honestly if we want to get any success here it's Elder Samuel and I and the Lord. We're working really hard, I think we'll get there. Yesterday was a bummer kinda. We're teaching a young girl named M. She's 17 and she's from Tanna. She comes every sunday and loves the Book of Mormon. She know's the church is true. She came here to Vila to go to school. She was raised in Tanna by her grandpa. Before she left tanna he told her "remember don't go to any other churches". Her grandpa is a strong SDA. We weren't aware of this as she's been coming to church for a long time now and has been coming to all the activities. When we found out, she said she would get baptized secretly. We told her she had to get permission from  her grandpa (basically dad). She told him and he was really angry and said to never call him again and basically said he was disowning her. I felt horrible. I fasted last week in her behalf and I've been praying really hard for her. Of her own free will she wants to join the church and has a testimony. I told her to pray every day and read the Book of Mormon every night. On the other hand, our two investigators, S and E who just got married should be getting baptized. They should be already. We've worked with S for a long time to let go of Kava. He stopped for a long time and he told us he was ready to take his interview and be baptized. We showed up with the AP's and he was drunk and very ashamed. The next day we were sure to let him know we haven't given up and that we still care. Poor E, she's ready. Besides them we're trying to find honest people. We're trying lots of ideas and meeting lots of people. (Here everyone will say yeah you can come BUT the amount of people who are sincere is about the same as other places) We're trying our best and I'm praying hard. Anyways not lets get to a lighter note. I'm getting bigger. I have meat on me now and I look like before. Last night I made taco's! I found taco seasoning and tortillas. The smells made me feel like home. Ok here's a funny irony. I don't know if I already told you this but I'm getting payback for years of picky eating. Now I'll try anything and all I eat is vegetables. My companion can't really cook (I can barely) so I do most of it. I'll find white people food at the nice store and cook it and he won't try it, or he'll be afraid and stubborn. I try to tell him it's so good and I know he'll like it! I kinda know how you feel now mom haha. Today Elder Samuel and I bought some knock off ray ban glasses with the Vanuatu flag trim on it. They look super awesome. We'll be pretty "FLASH" once we wear them in our truck this week. I had a sad realization. My english is awful. It's ok when I talk to Elder Bacon. The other day Elder Samuel asked if we could talk only in english so he could learn. I struggled so hard to tell a story. I felt weird and felt so much more natural telling it in bislama. Last night I had a funny chat with Elder Samuel. I found out how dating and courtship is done here. It's pretty middle schoolish haha. If anyone see's you they'll talk about you so bad you'll want to move so it's almost done in secret. This morning I chatted with Jansen and his family again. From time to time he'll call. The church is doing great over in Gaua now that they've moved in to (my) the new chapel. They would welcome us back for sure. He says all of my converts are dong great. Also something kinda negative here is that lots of people are terrified of me because I'm white and tall. They think I'll speak in english. We taught this one family and for some reason the mom is terrified of us. One time we were walking on the road by her house. She saw us but it was too late for her to run away now beacuse we were close. She's a large woman. She hid behind a small pillar. Then she darted out behind another house thinking we didn't see her. She was then out of sight but then her small son followed her and stood right next to her and was saying her name hahaha. Then another time we were teaching S and E and she was going to cross through their yard. We were in the middle of a lesson and we had our backs to where she was. S and E saw her see us and inhale huge like she had seen a lion. She started climbing through a small barbed wire fence instead of passing through, meanwhile we had no idea and we're teaching hahaha. Also we taught a guy named L. He thinks he's a prophet. I think we made a mistake teaching him about prophets because he claims he's one now. He got a cold and said he's suffering like the prophet Job. We were teaching him and we found out he wouldn't be accoutable enough to be baptized. We heard a story about him watching the sky and counting stars for two days in the middle of a public park. He's really kind though. Also at our house we have been proselyted 3 times now by Jehovah's Witnesses. We live in an area where it's semi nice so they like it I guess (they don't go out into to bush). The first time they came I was inside the door talking on the phone and Elder Samuel was riding a bike in circles in the yard in normal clothes. They approached him and he sent them at me haha. When I told them we were missionaries they were pretty suprised. Ok those are some random funny stuff I could think of. I'll make an effort write more down. Love ya'lls.

Elda Sias

Monday, August 6, 2012

July 29,2012

Thanks for the pictures! Glad to hear your all doing well. I liked the california pictures as well as seeing grandpa. This last week was decent. Unfortunately lots of distractions. President Brewer assigned us a truck to use in the area which is very nice. Before we were on the bicycles which weren't safe at all. Our truck got destroyed on the island of Tanna because the roads are horrible and it's being repaired, should be out on wednesday. Unfortunately in Etas my ipod got stolen :(. If you haven't sent the package yet PLEASE CD's! lots of them. Sent it to PO box 1412 not sandalwood apartments. Things are going well in Etas. I really like our branch president, president hilliman. We're still looking for more people who are genuine. We had a sad experience as well. When I got here there was a woman named Chantal. She was the sunday school teacher and apparently well known for being good at it. She was very sick but they couldn't diagnose it. She suffered for some months. We visited her a few times in the short time I've been here. She was exemplary in a time of hardship. She kept her faith and prayed a lot. When we or other members would visit she's temporarily be happy again. On thursday we were doing a service for family Toa. We were helping them in their garden to dig kumala when we heard that she had just died. I was blown away and really saddened. That whole day we were with the branch president trying to arrange for the funeral and buying the burial plot. The district president came to dedicate the grave. He asked me to conduct. There were a lot of people there. People were wailing and her husband was distraught. I know that she is happier now than before and she was prepared. Also this week we had a marriage. S and E, our best two investigators finally got married. They were so happy. S wants to get baptised so bad but he still has one habit to break. We met with him a lot and I shared dads story of the man he taught who was able to give up smoking in a miraculous way. Afterwards we gave him a priesthood blessing. This week it's independence so there's lots of temptation around so he opted to go down to  stay with some of his family down by the river, far away and secluded. We'll be having 3 baptisms next week. 3 girls who are awesome and come every sunday.
 Love you all.

Elder Sears

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello family,
Thanks for the letters. It's always good to hear from you guys. PS sierra never replied to that e mail I wrote her about her favorite scriptures, etc. and be sure to tell thank you to the scotts! They're the coolest. So this week was very good. The VANUATU PORT VILA MISSION is official! Our new mission president and his wife arrived last saturday. They are so awesome! President is one of the most  motivational people I've met haha. He served his mission among the native americans in montana. He knows poor housing and lack of comforts well enough to be with us. We had our first zone conference. I had my first interview with him as well. He was really happy about my companion and I elda samuel. He saw how well we got along. He commended me for humility. We talked about my district for a bit as well. My companion and I get along super well. He's happy all the time which is great to be around. We know each others strengths and use them. So my area is very large. We look after 3 areas in Port Vila.: Etas, Teouma, and Eratab. Our house is so nice. It's nice to feel clean and be comfortable again. I've gained weight! You can't see my ribs anymore haha. Everyone has said I look way healthier and coherant haha. In gaua I ate as much as I could but the heat and long distances walking got to my body. I really like my new branch. It's functional and I don't have to do everything haha. It's nice to not have to be the spiritual leader as well. Now I can just focus on missionary work. Etas is a branch that's been around for a good while. It's got some of the first members ever to join the church here in Vanuatu. There are a few families that have a few generations in the church now and they're the heart of the branch. Famle Hilliman is an awesome family. In the family they have 7 returned missionaries in 2 families of hillimans. I'm now starting to get to know the members. They're great .. We've asked our new branch president to help us out and find us a branch mission leader. We've been asking for  referals from everyone but haven't gotten one yet. Elda Samuel and I have been contacting a lot. Serving in town is a tad harder than on the island. Can't complain though because I know some my buds are serving in places much harder haha. We have some really good investigators though. Last week we had a baptism for E. She's from the island of Malekula. She is epic. When they first taught her she wasn't too interested and she was catholic. Through the proccess of the lessons she had a change of heart and grew to love the book of mormon and the church. She was baptised and gave an awesome testimony at the service and on sunday as well. She really wants to go on a mission. She has that new convert glow and wants to learn all she can. I got her a copy of preach my gospel at her request. Her sister and her man, S and M  are also our investigators. They are so awesome! S is from Tanna. He's a humble guy. He will be getting married and baptised this month. He taught us the custom dance of Tanna. Last week as a welcome to President Brewer they organised a welcome activity with all the members in vila. Each branch presented a custom dance from one island. I almost joined the custom dance for Banks group (Gaua and Mere Lava). So this week was a really good learning experience for me. It started to hit me that I have less than a year left! I thought about my progression and I'm nowhere close to where I'd like to be. I had a humbling week as well. Something didn't feel right. Our companionship is great so we should be teaching well but I felt off. I prayed really hard and often to know what was the matter. I had a really good study just on the basics of the gospel. My teaching has become more focused on the Savior than facts. Everything points back to him. I taught a class in our investigator class on sunday. (during sunday school for investigators, answer questions and take it at their pace) They asked some really good questions and I taught shortly about THE topic. The atonement. I feel thats all I want to teach about all the time. You can ponder it and be amazed by so many different things. I'm also enjoying being district leader. My district has the two assistants to the president (AP's) and 4 sisters in the areas of Pango and Freshwota. All the names of places are taken from things in their relative location. My sisters are awesome. I assigned them to give what they learned in companionship study in district meeting tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll talk about the importance of teaching our recent converts. So many missionaries teach people until they're baptised and then the "on to the next one" reflex kicks in. There isn't enough retention. I assigned Elda Samuel to teach and I'll follow up with a training on recent converts. Anyways I've realised my letters are probably pretty boring. I never tell any funny stories or cool cultural stuff anymore. I'll try to spice it up more next time. Thanks for everything!
Elda Sears

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hello family,

Greetings from Eluk, here in Port Vila. I'm in a senior couples house currently, just down the road from the brand new mission presidents house. Vanuatu, Port Vila mission is official! Haven't met President Brewer yet but zone conference is this week. Before I get to current stuff I'll go back to my leaving Gaua. So once I found out about  my transfer I reluctantly started to let people know. I told President Jansen first. (Its funny whenever I say Jansen it feels like his name and not mine now) I had some great last goodbye's and feasts. The first was with Morey. She's from Mere Lava and lives in Gaua. She's married to an ex France world cup player. Her husband is retired from playing and works for the world cup organization, AKA, they're loaded. Her husband built her a huge house here because she likes living in the island better (as opposed to vila where you have to have a job and buy stuff). Her house is so nice. It has massive solars to power her icebox, plasma screen, internet and everything. She's always been a good bud of mine because  we go to her small store. I'd always shoot her a text saying," throw 4 fanta's in the icebox," and we'd come get them at the end of the day. When I told her I'd be leaving and going to Etas she was quiet for a second and then said to come eat at her house on saturday. What a meal, haha. We had sausage! fish with lemon pepper, spanish rice type stuff, Naora (mini lobsters) potato salad made with kumala (our version of potato thats really sweet). After I told her a big thank you I brought out  a Book of Mormon to give to her. I gave it to her and we started chatting about the church. She said she already had one. Lots of years ago when she lived in Vila she dated a returned missionary. She took all the missionary lessons. She read the BoM a lot. She went to church every sunday and all the activities. Everyone thought she was a member already. She said she saw some bad examples, especially with this returned missionary. (who ironically I know in my new area here now) It's such a shame when that happens. We chatted some more and I asked her besides those bad examples you saw," how did you feel when you went to church? were taught by the missionaries? read the Book of Mormon?" Then she gave a really good testimony. She said she was glad to have a Book of Mormon again and that my companion and the next one coming could come teach her again. Then on sunday I gave my last talk. I talked about the importance of keeping the sabbath day holy. I addressed every excuse in the book haha. After church I started a tradition for them. They don't know the hymns super well so I suggested learning one every week after church before everyone goes. It went really well. Afterwards He was  waiting for charles who kinda knows english," Hey i know english!" He and I filled up his papers, he was really excited. His dad, Paul Saaky has come such a long way. When elder bacon and I were here he was barely active and we'd see people bringing kava over to his house. When our unit got approved to become a branch they gave him the calling of Elders quorum president. It saved him. Now he's totally clean and he looks so much better and smarter. He blessed the sacrament and I was so proud. He was having trouble with home teaching and I told him about how we did it in my ward. He was really glad and announced out the companionships the other day. Also went to go teach Fred. He's so awesome & eccentric. He told me when he heard I was transferring that night he woke up crying. He said we had come and picked him and his family out of the garbage can and saved them, haha. He talks so much and is such an interesting guy that I almost didn't believe him about the crying. Today I saw it. Lastly had an EPIC last kakae (feast) with the members. They totally planned it. President said they usually don't do this for a single person. It was packed. Just about every member came with a bunch of investigators as well. Presidents daughter Asnet hung the salusalu on my neck (flower necklace) and President sang "Mi nidim yu oltaem" (i need thee every hour) on the guitar and sang. One by one they shook hands with me and all the women did the kissy thing on my cheeks, haha. (miss. pres. says don't encourage it but don't stop it either and disrespect them) I felt REALLY loved. I don't know if I'll ever feel so at home in another area. So loved by my branch president and so tight. I felt like a member of their families. Lots of people cried, some suprised me. I really like Elder Thomas my companion. He's super funny but also pretty stronghed because he's from Tanna haha.

So now I'm here in Etas! I LOVE my companion. Elder Bacon trained him after I finished training him. He's refreshing haha. He has drive and he's funny and happy all the time. I'm also district leader now. It's funny, there was no district meeting on Gaua so I had to sit and think for a while what a district meeting was like. I really liked our first district meeting. I taught about repentance. I felt us missionaries were really good at focusing on stopping as far as the word of wisdom and the law of chastity and then keeping the commandment. BUT where's the repentance and applying the atonement? We had a great discussion on that and how our investigators could be really changed. Anyways there's more but time is going. Next week!

Love Ya'lls

Elda Sias

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good bye to Gaua. I'm sending pics . I'll send a letter next week, but FYI, I got transferred. I'm now serving in Etas with Elder Samuel. I am District Leader.

This is Elisabeth & Jirisene.  She got married during my time with Elder Bacon.  My second time there I got to see her baby girl and baptise Elisabeth.
My last meal at Morrey's house.

My last Sunday after church.

Us with Fred and his family minus a few.

Last meal with Jeremy and his family.

Me with Louise after having a last meal with her family.  (Jeremy's sister)

The awesomest friend and branch president.  (Jansen)

Norbert & I (Family Saaky)  One of my best friends from Gaua.  I helped him fill out his mission forms last week.

Random Australian members took us to a baller place to eat.

Me at the Santo Airport inside a pigs tusk, the sign of respect and position here.

Coconut crab.  Very large and tasty.

From left to right, Fred, Elder Thomas, Bulendam, Marus, Me, Jonas, Louise

Building the church.

Sedrak was hanging upside down like a monkey while we were buidling the church house so I gave him a banana.

The church house kinda finished & Elder Hanks to visit to start seminary.

The marriage of James and Sylvie ( both in white) and Robinson and Lydian.  Performed by District President Ian Mahit from Paama.

At the airport waiting on my last day in Gaua.

Going to the island of Muna for sacrament meeting with the zone leaders.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's almost time to say farewell to Gaua

Dear Family,

So I've hit a year now! I've hit the top of the mountain and I'm headed down now. Crazy. I really enjoyed all of your e mails. It was so great to hear how you're all doing. I have such a great family. Is it cool if I can be one of those guys who lives at the house until I'm 40? haha I feel like going on my mission has made me realize how good of a family I have. When you're in high school all you think about is friends but it's been so cemented how important families are on my mission. So I'm here in Santo for Zone Conference. It's been good. We spent all day yesterday at the church house in trainings. President Klingler is so great. He loves his missionaries. He looks out for 3 countries but he knows every one of us, our companions and areas. He prays for us and cares a lot. So I'll tell you about a few updates since the phone call. May 19th was epic. We had been working for that day for a long time. Jonas, Fred, Marus, Richard, and Louise got baptized. They are all sooo great and we've spent so much time preparing them. All of them have made huge changes in their lives. 2 of them are here at the conference with us, and Jonas, (jeremy's dad, the albino) will likely become the 1st councelor of the branch. I can't take credit for the success but Gaua has changed SO much. When I got here it was a unit with attendances of about 19ish every week. We had a unit leader who taught sunday school and gave the talks prayed and lead the songs. We've gotten a new branch president, JANSEN since then. Elder Bacon and I really focused on him when we were new there. He was less active but had always been so enthusiastic about the church, but some of the members had went against him. Now he's become a great branch president. Inexperienced but SO willing and consecrates his time. Before we'd come and it would be hard to find him because he'd always be at the ocean in his kayak. Now he hardly goes. He always says he was called just like christ called fisherman to be his disciples. I love Jansen. I will never forget him. If communication were better he would be a life long friend. Between us it's really just genuine love. The other day after our phone call I got sick. President heard and went to the ocean to get me some fish in really rough water fried them and brought them over. We work so well together. He said he will say goodbye to me the night before I leave but won't come to the airport to see me off because he'd cry. I love the members so much here. I feel so loved here and comfortable with them. I've been here for longer than anyone else who has served in gaua. I've basically been here my whole mission. It'll be hard to top it. I came here out of being trained and my first area slightly clueless. From then on in this area and for a bit in blacksands I feel like i've really grown. Last week we had a double marriage! Elder and Sister Hanks, a couple from Las Vegas and President Mahit, the district president came to visit Gaua. We set up the marriages before they came. When we tried to go down we all walked to get to the boat that could take us down to queteon. We went out and the water was really stormy and rough. We went back in and the Hanks had to go back and we walked. They were super happy to be married and have been wanting and waiting for 2 years now to get baptized. The new church house here is just about finished! They're just waiting for cement to make the floor. Too bad I'll miss the first week in there. They're also going to send extra cement to make a huge water tank. Our area that we're really having success in is called Naveto village. The chief said he's afraid that in a while the anglican church will be empty. Tons of people have told us or Jansen they want to join but they won't be able to use the big community tank because the chief blocked members and converts to the church from using it. Our new tank should help. I didn't inhale it but I was almost worshiped the other day haha. After church we had an auxillary meeting. I started it, shared my thoughts and at the end they all started planning my farewell feast. Then they started to talk about why I was great and actually did something in Gaua unlike the ones before, I didn't inhale it but it felt nice to be appreciated. I think we'll be having Jansens Pig at the farewell? So as of late I'm getting lots of questions thrown my way. Studying helps so much. I've felt so guided and prepared for them. I'll be going back on monday and promptly transferring. I don't know which of the areas but I have it narrowed down to a few. Should be exciting...

Hey sierra! Mi lavem yu!

To answer a few questions-  wierdest food this week?

I had pizza on Gaua! This french lady named Morey had always been promising me she'd make me one. the other day I texted her and asked her to throw some fanta's in the icebox. She was about to jump on her 4 wheeler and bring it up to us when we ran into her. She's the only one with an icebox on Gaua and she brought cheese from vila that was frozen. very tasty. anyways I gotta go! Love you all! Time for my last interview with President Klingler.

. Anyways I love you all. The church is true.

Elder Sears

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Great To be Back in Gaua

Famle Sia,

 Good to e mail again! Glad to hear all is well. So where do I start? It's great to be back in Gaua. We went back and things had changed a lot. The new branch is great. Jansen is new but has potential and is doing great as branch president. Sorry it's going to get a little random again. So we finally started having progress on Kuition, that super far away area I've always talked about. We're going down and staying with Phillip and Delma once or twice a week. Phillip is so awesome. At the end of all the days we're down there we'll come back to the house and chat a bunch. Our usual topics are almost always terrorists, monkeys, and george bush. We had our first sunday school down there. It was really awesome. I taught using King Benjamins sermon, starting from the natural man all the way until children of Christ in chapter 5. It had great attendance and people were really excited. After this I'll be sending a recommendation for a new unit to mission president which he'll send to the area seventies. We also went to Mere Lava! It looks like a mountain in the middle of the ocean. It so steep. Coming up it you have to hold onto vines an pull yourself up. There are  no roads. Just paths dug out of stone. Any homes there are dug out of the side of the mountain. It was the first time missionaries had been there in about 2 years. We mainly went to make a report on the missionary housing and the branch and hopefully make it possible for missionaries to go back. They were very glad to see us. The main problem there is heaps of less actives. We taught for 2 days purely out of the Book of Mormon. After that the cyclone came. We stayed indoors for a day. After it calmed down on sunday so we went to church with a limited number of people. During the sacrament one of the walls blew off and flew down the side of the mountain. After church was finished we went out and shortly after the cyclone destroyed the church house. To top it off the first councelor of the branch while walking had a stroke and fell down the side of the mountain. Doctor Mark, the SDA doctor flew him over to Gaua and he's staying with some members. Ben is such a faithful member. Doctor said he'd never walk again. At the time one side of his body was paralyzed. Now he can move his arms and legs and is almost mobile. It's 100% because of his faith and priesthood blessings. While immobile in his darkest hour he remembered april 6th as the anniversary of the organization of the church and had the boys go get fish and had a big feast. Elder Thomas and I went and visited him. He's such a good man. He was so concerned for his branch. I told him I'd try my best to get missionaries to come back to Mere Lava. He said that we had to come back. On the way back from Mere Lava we stopped in the small island of Merek. This island has 2 families on it. The dad of one has sent word over to Gaua multiple times wanting the missionaries to come. We jumped off the front of the boat in the rocking water onto the large stones and taught him and his family right there on the spot. Absolum and his family seem really awesome. He's very short and looks like a cute teddy bear. Ok, my companion. Elder Niespou but he uses Thomas because it's easier. He's from the opposite side down south on the island of Tanna. He's so awesome. He's a shortish stocky ex boxer haha. He is so goofy and we laugh a lot. He's coming from the only area that is comparable in bushyness to gaua. He's an expert with the bow and arrow especially with the millions of lizards in our house and outdoor kitchen. We get along great. So since I've gotten back I feel so much closer to my investigators and the members. I really feel like I'm family. I LOVE our investigators. There are so many more than before that are incredible. The new branch has generated lots of interest. I feel much more charitable than I ever have. All of Elder Bacon's and my coverts are doing great! Astin who we baptised the week before we left is in the Relief Society presidency and is doing great! Jeremy is the greatest!!! He's our albino bud. He is passing the sacrament and will soon start blessing. He teaches with us a ton and I think he'll serve a mission. When he met him he was quiet but now he's has all of the members as friends and is hilarious and cracks jokes all the time. Ok, housing. We chose a house close to the airport and where the new branch is about to move. Our house is a cement floor with natangora leaf roof. It's soooo much cooler than the copper roofed one from before. It's a bungalow owned by and ex lead singer of a reggae band. His name is Charles. He has been to Japan, Spain and Disneyland and performed there. It was GREAT seeing elder bacon here at this leadership training. He is doing great in my first area of Palon. He's a total stud missionary. So one of our investigators brought us a great treat the other day early in the morning. He name is simon and he brought us Namarai. Thats giant eel. They baked it on hot stones all day. It's so delicious! It has a lot meat after you peel off the skin and it really tastes like pig. PS send more JR rings, loads of investigators and youth are wearing them. So just a little about some of our investigators. Fred. He is such a funny guy. He is a dad with a bunch of boys. I love him because he's not quiet and shares all his thoughts. Teaching him has been so easy. He is totally prepared. He understands so fully this is THE church of Jesus Christ. His son Banapas will be baptised this month. Banapas is such a stud. He's 10 and quiet and doesn't know bislama too well. BUT his dad says he always asks, hey dad when will I go over the uncle Jansen's house and do service? (Cleaning ground for the new chapel) and said he puts off signs thats he's ready to go to church a few days before sunday. His wife had always been reluctant to join the lessons and joined for the first time last time. After hearing the Gospel of Jesus Chirst she told us her whole lifeshe thought she'd die in anglican. She said you guys touched my heart and I need to join you guys. Richard Bulendam is an older guy who met with the missionaries before and loved it but some anti people talked him out of believing. Now he so realizes his error and it working hard to make changes in his life and to stop smoking and drinking kava. We're working with A LOT of people on letting go of kava. Jeremys whole family will be joining slowly starting with the parents and older brothers. Lots of families. We also baptised a whole family in Kuition. George, Jocina, and Regina. George will get the priesthood and help a ton in the new unit. Thats just a few of my fave's. Ok one last funny story. So theres this guy named DISH who met with the missionaries a few years ago. He came for the first time the other sunday. After he went to the branch president house and his councelor was there.
He said "Big man, I have a need, just a small one" He then proceeded to ask for 20 pieces of roof copper 10 bags of cement 1 large mattress 2 axes 2 bush knives sauce pans and money. Trying not to laugh at the request president Jansen said "you don't need any DISHes? he said, yeah i could use some, with some forks knives etc. after he said I need money "Smol mane nomo" 50,000 vatu hahahaha anyways gotta go.
It's 10:00 and I just finished re-reading all your letters that came in the packages. They were in Vila stacking up but they came here to gaua with some mission things. Yours was definitely the best. I read it before when you originally sent it but it was good to read it again fo sho. Great story. Above all I'm glad you thought to pray. Thats definitely why you recieved the much needed help even if it wasn't the first car haha.
So I thought I'd write you a letter.   So hows high school going? Seems like your enjoying it! Enjoy small responsibility and carelessness with the friends while you can haha. Who are you hanging out with nowadays? Boyfriend?!?! haha If only I could be there to be the protective older brother. Be sure to let all your dates know that they'd better look out for a ever shrinking muscleless man coming from vanuatu hahaha. Jk but I trust you.
I wish you guys could see all the things I'm seeing here. I'm so glad to be back in Gaua. It's a beautiful place and the people are great. While on the mission I feel I've experienced "a mighty change of heart" (good thing to study..... hint hint) Wish I would have experienced it earlier. It's good being truly converted. I feel so much peaceful and realized whats really important. A mission is a wonderful experience. It's the best 2 years FOR your life.
The church did a study a few years back. They tried finding out what sorts of things or activities done in youth lead to spiritual strength and activity in the church in adulthood. They studied how participation in church activities like seminary, scouting, and mutual helped. They lead to a good percentage of active adults later in life. But there was something more effective. The thing that truly converts people and helps people throughout their lifetime wasn't group activities. It was what people do personally on their own, such a daily scripture study and prayer. You might say these are primary answers but they are SO important. It is so important to pray. Even if you have to practice to get good at it, I'm trying. Pray always at any time and in any place. Scripture study is super important. My conversion has come through the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I can't describe how much I love and enjoy that book. It's so important to study topics or read.
Ok I have an assignment for you:
1- favorite scripture
2 - prophet
3 - story
4 - One scripture you think can help me on my mission
5 - One quote or talk from a general authority you really like
6 - favorite hymn and why
7 - Anything I can pray for you for
Sierra, you're such a good girl. Sometimes I feel like Laman and Lemuel and your setting the example for me. 1 ne 7:8. Enjoy yourself always but always remember the promise you made with god. Mosiah 18:8-10 and think about the ones you'll make in the future. Always remember god is real and loves you. Always remember what christ has done for you. I love you and pray for you a lot.
PS - Still have the bracelet you put on me. We aren't allowed to wear bracelets so I cut it and weaved it into the holes in my watch. It's been there my whole mission. It looks way old and is barely hanging in there but I hope it will make it all the way until you can see it.
Q & A: Some questions I saw in letters.
How long will I be with my companion? 2 more months or so until we finish his training
Transfers how often? Every six weeks or so, before you could serve in one area for 10 months but now because of the huge influx of missionaries you transfer a little more
Eating well? Yeah eating pretty well, have planty of food, time to cook is the problem
fattening up? no haha well maybe a little, all the elders said my cheeks looked more plump this conference
Members feed you? Yes
3 meetings? before we held only sunday school and sacrament meething but now with the new branch we do all 3
Music in the meethings? Hymns in the bislama and english hymn book
Yes I do wish for colder weather at times
Sick often? not really, I feel healthy just thinner than I'd like
FYI elder george hasn't left yet his visa has been delayed. Should go here in a bit.
 Love you all

Elda Sia

Monday, March 5, 2012

Port Vila , Vanuatu Mission Created

New missions created

Eight new missions of the Church are being created in Colombia, Ghana and Mexico; in the region of Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands; in Utah and in Nevada. A mission in Moscow, Russia, is being combined with neighboring missions.
Following is a rundown of the changes, which will be effective around July 1, when mission leadership changes occur. Please refer to the accompanying maps for new mission boundaries.

Colombia Medellin
The Colombia Medellin Mission is being created by dividing the Colombia Barranquilla and Colombia Cali missions.

Ghana Kumasi
The Ghana Kumasi Mission is being created by dividing the Ghana Accra and Ghana Cape Coast missions.

Mexico Xalapa and Puebla
The Mexico Xalapa Mission is being created by dividing the Mexico Veracruz Mission.
The Mexico Puebla Mission is being divided to create the Mexico Puebla North and Mexico Puebla South missions.

Vanuatu Port Vila
The Vanuatu Port Vila Mission is being created by dividing the Papua New Guinea Port Moresby and Fiji Suva missions.

Utah Salt Lake City Central and West
The Utah Salt Lake City West and Utah Salt Lake City Central missions are being created from adjacent missions in the Salt Lake Valley.

Nevada Reno
The Nevada Reno Mission is being created from a realignment of the Nevada Las Vegas and Nevada Las Vegas West missions.

Russia Moscow West
The Russia Moscow West Mission is being consolidated into the neighboring Baltic, Russia Novosibirsk and Russia Moscow missions.

New Mission Presidents:

<><><>Pacific Area<><><>

Australia Adelaide Craig K. Poulton Bradley D. Carter
Australia Perth Dirk Smibert R. Bruce Lindsay
Australia Sydney Jeffrey T. Simmons Philip F. Howes
Papua New Guinea Port Moresby Meliula M. Fata Suliasi Vea Kaufusi
Vanuatu Port Vila New Mission Larry E. Brewer

A few last words.....

I'm on for one last time before I'm out at 5 tomorrow morning.

It's  Sunday night here and I got permission to send off one last e mail. First I'll answer some questions that I saw, hope I didn't miss any. We get 12,000 vatu every 2 weeks which is equivalent to 120 dollars. Food I can get access to in Gaua: Eggs - rarely, we can find them sometimes when the chickens lay them haha and they're a tad expensive but I always splurge on them when I can. Bread - Sometimes again there are 2 places I know of that make fresh bread over the fire. Pasta - Just ramen noodles. Peanut Butter - I can find it. Protein Bars - Yes I'd love some but I don't want you spend lots of money on sending packages. Thats so awesome about Max! French speaking and Canada. He's lucky his language is a useful one haha. He's a great guy and he will be a great missionary! Yeah the bumbrella was a bit of a mishap oh well haha. And rain here. Those forecasts are incorrect it rains from time to time but it's been sunny all week, just rained a bit but it's always sporadic and lasts not very long.

NOTE: One of my friends here, Roma just left for his mission on tuesday. He'll be in the Provo MTC and will be ending up in Canada spanish speaking. He will be going by Elder Yunnack. He's from Vanuatu, Blacksands branch on the island of Efate. Instead of sending me a package PLEASE give him one. Some goodies with some things you think he'd like. (uplifting things etc., maybe a letter) He's made good preparations and taught with us a lot. Also another friend of mine here will be going to serve in Minnesota, english speaking. (almost tanners mission) please send him one too. He'll be leaving Vanuatu on the 20th of march and staying in Fiji for a few days and making his way to provo. His name will be Elder George I believe.

So I'm pretty excited to go back to Gaua. I've learned I'll be serving with Elder Thomas. He's from the island of Tanna and the village of Saetsiwi. From what I've heard he's pretty boss and outgoing. I'll meet him tommorow and commence the training process again. I'm excited to go back because I obviously know the place and the people already. The people over there compared to here in town are waayyyy kinder. Also because this unit that just barely became a branch needs support. The new branch president, Jansen is a great guy but he's a recent convert.  Jansen is raw but has great potential. Tomorrow will be interesting because as of now we don't have a house haha. We can go back to our old house but after weighing it over and praying about it I feel that we need to move to a different place that we looked at before they closed Gaua. It's kind of funny though, they closed Gaua because of housing that was sub-par in living conditions and president said he wouldn't want his sons to be in a place like that. Here we are, Gaua will be open again. I asked Elder Tupou, our senior zone leader, ........ what changed that Gaua can be open now? haha he said nothing I had that thought too but I didn't say anything. Not one of the missionaries, leaders or anyone has been to Gaua before. The thing is though it's not unliveable like they make it sound. Yes, it doesn't have running water or power and it's basically a cement shelter with bamboo on the walls. But I like it. I'm excited to go back because I love Gaua and I REALLY want to be able to make a significant difference over there. It's a small branch and every baptism makes a big difference. I fasted today to be able the best trainer I can be and to be able to make a large impact over there. They need momentum and strength in the branch. Pray for me. As of late I've been totally submersed in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is an incredible book. It'sGod's word in it's purest. I love the awesome stories in it. As for me and my personal progress I'mcontent but not. I'm not a man of many talents. I have lots of weaknesses. Heavenly Father has helped so much and I've come a long way. I feel I've experienced a mighty change of heart. I do worry a lot about my personal weaknesses affecting the work. I don't baptise as much as a lot of the others. I am trying my best. I feel I'm almost too critical of myself and constantly evaluating myself. I guess I just need to be patient. I keep thinking about the line in my blessing that says you will see miracles on your mission. I hope my faith is strong enough to receive these sorts of things. At about 9 months on the mission I feel that I've seen some with the whole rain stopping thing twice. I'm hoping my faith is strong enough. Working on it constantly. I'm very grateful for all the sacrifices you've made for me to be able to be here. Thank you for your prayers. I think about Sierra a lot. Hows she doing? I loved hearing the story of her in the snow and her answered prayer. I regret not going to seminary as much as I should and not reading the scriptures and praying as I should have. Pray always. Find small time to read in your scriptures. Love the scriptures. Love the book of mormon. Be an example of the believers. Have fun, don't lose focus. Anyways love ya'lls.
Your son,

Elder Sears
One last thing- I just gave your e mail address to Joseph (Elder George and told him to give it to Elder Yunnack as well) I told them if they needed anything to shoot you an e mail. Help them feel loved and at home.