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