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