Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013


It was great reading your letters. I loved both of your letters, mom + dad. Dad, you're a stud. Good job sharing the Gospel whether it's recieved or not. We had a great lesson last week in Elders Quorum about sharing the Gospel. Mom, it's great to hear about all your good plans for when I get back. I'm excited to spend good time with you guys. I was glad also to hear about the bonus again. I know you're being blessed while I'm away. As for me I'm bittersweet. Until yesterday night I was GREAT. Erakor Branch is the best! We're being abundantly blessed with success and support. We've been trying hard to get to know ALL the members. It's quite the task. Here in Vila people kinda come and go from here and their islands. It's hard to keep track of people and their membership records when they move a lot. Lots of members are in Erakor branch records and lots aren't. Currently my mind keeps being brought back to a comment made a few months ago in Etas. We were at Andrick Vano's house, our Elders Quorum pres. He asked about missionary work in Etas. We told him we were facing a bit of a hard time finding people with little support. He listened and said he had similar experiences on his mission in Tahiti. He said what will happen is you'll struggle but you'll learn. He said you'll go to a different place and it will start to flow. People to teach will come out of nowhere and success will come with seemingly ease. That was true. Everyone we're working with (Mostly LA's) are doing great. We've been trying lots of things. From teaching their children, to casual visits and conversations, going to the garden with them for a day and just caring about them and giving a good example. We've seen 4 families come back since we've started. The last 2 sundays I've counted over a dozen we've worked with. The branch is doing so much better and is on the rise. Last sunday we did a Reactivation with the Elders Quorum with a small meal at the end at the 1st counselors house. At the end we met up with 18 of us! From the branch presidency to missionaries to young men to investigators even! We looked like a white shirted army. It was powerful. Last sunday I gave a talk about Heavenly Father. I read D+C 130:22 and tried to help everyone understand Him more. I went through and described all His  attributes in the topical guide. We also planned a YM activity with our bud Tony. He just got called to serve in Canada. It was "THE AMAZING RACE". It had 9 checkpoints. Everyone you had to figure out and find and take a picture there or a video. We sang the Nat'l anthem in front of the Parliment Building. We visited the Relief society president at her work and sang a song about "Island dresses". It was a blast. After we borrowed a projector from the district and watched the prince of egypt and "Kolipoki" (The other side of heaven, no one here knows that name or calls it that, just kolipoki). We also have some great investigators. We'll be having a baptism next week for Alan, the son on the recently activated counselor in the Elders quorum. All is great in Erakor. So thats the good in a nutshell. But..... yesterday I was brought down. While I was in Etas I had 3 converts: A, S, and R. The first is 50 something. S is 9 and R is 14. R stopped coming to church because she is pregnant. I felt so sick to my stomach and bad for her. I don't know how or why. Last week I read Alma 31:26-31 and pondered it. Now I know how he felt. I'll be doing exchanges in Etas soon and I will go see her. I don't know what I'll say but I'll try do encorage her as much as I can. Thats about it for now. Thanks for everything.


Elder Sears

PS PLEASE send John Groberg's book!

Long God Yumi Stanap

Sears Family,

Thanks for the letters. Things here have chilled out a little bit. Last week was crazy. We had Zone Conference on friday and all of Tanna was here. Our bus was well worked with all of them going all over Vila. It was the first ZC we had planned for. It was really good with some things to improve for next time. One part I really liked. President Basil, the district president here addressed us. He has served in the Church for so long. He's definitely a pioneer. He talked about missionary work here and gave us some right on advice. He's from Mere Lava in the Banks group (I've been to his village on my one trip there). He talked about the people here. He used Alma 32 about people in poverty who are compelled to be humble. He's lived here his whole life but he's been to other countries. He realizes his people don't have many of the worldly things or modern comforts that other places have. The people here in Vanuatu are so humble. They are so kind. He reminded us that because of custom and respect almost all will accept you into their homes to share. BUT it's about finding those who are ready to hear/change. Here has it's own challenges. He read a scripture about the Lamanites and how they were wild and ferocious people. He said they are not like that here. I can honestly say that EVERYONE here believes in God. Like the nations motto: "LONG GOD YUMI STANAP". "Vanuatu" means "Land Eternal". During his talk and others I felt so grateful to be here to teach but especially to learn from their great examples of love and kindness. I've tried hard to learn and adopt their attributes. On a funny note the other day we had a "Famle haos naet" at family Pierre's house. Their son, Jeremiah said I look like Captain America, or like the actor that plays him when he gets into the Captain American suit? (Don't know haven't seen it). I love having FHE here, they're always fun. We had one yesterday with Family Joseph in Erakor Village. It's a very large village with lots of people. They have a massive yellow church house called the presbyterian temple thats quite the sight. Joseph is the first Branch President of Erakor branch and his whole large family of grown children are all members. Sadly, his wife, Anna is the only one who had remained faithful since he was released. We went and had a really good activity and message. We chatted for a good while and heard about him joining the church. Oh, and by the way we met Joseph Smith. Joseph named one of his grandchildren Smith because his family name is Joseph making it on paper: Smith, Joseph but it's reversable. I've also started exercising a lot. I'm using a make-shift bench set. It's a long piece of iron with two cement round blocks on both sides. The bench is made of small timber. I've been lifting every morning and night. It's not super heavy so I just lift it a bunch until i get tired. It makes me more energised throughout the day and I've seen some results asthetically haha. As always I'm enjoying my Book of Mormon reading. I miss not being so busy. Ever since I've been here I haven't been able to study as much as before. I remember on Gaua there was lots of time for it. Everyone here goes to bed early so we end up at the house and I'd lay down and read Jesus the Christ and the BoM a lot. I'm trying my best to learn all that I can in my remaining time. I've been praying to have experiences to learn from. Also, our best bud/ member present got his mission call! His name is Tonny Lauoto. He has been called to serve in the Canada Montreal Mission, spanish speaking departing for the provo MTC on april 30. Elder Yunacks same mission? not sure. He's super excited and we'll be working with him a lot. As far as Sister Waiane, she is back here in Vanuatu. She got her visa but missed her MTC group. Her new mtc date is january 29 out of here. Anyways thats all i can think of right now. Thanks for everything including the prayers. Love you all.

Elder Sears.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Famle blong mi,

Thanks for the letters. I always appreciate them. Sounds like you guys had a fun Christmas with the family/and the Bacon's. I'm so excited to see all of them again. All the Sears/Donovan clan. My Christmas was pretty good. My favorite part was our Erakor branch activity. We went to Eton beach and had lots of food + fun. It had great attendance! 77 came to the activity 45 came to sacrament meeting the next day, haha. We're trying our best to help this branch. Right now missionaries in this mission have an interesting role. We are missionaries/branch strengtheners. We're spending lots of time with the members trying to encourage them and help them in their callings. One change we made was where the Elders quorum and Relief society were meeting. All the papa's were inside under the shelter and the mama's were outside where rain has come before and sun. In branch counsel our idea was put into place. The last 2 sundays we've switched. Also the start time was changed to a time more suitable for here. Last sunday I was happy to see some less actives we're working with come. We're preparing a child of record baptism for a boy named Alan. His family is half active. We've been going at least twice a week and teaching him with his whole family and the recent converts who live in that area. It's made a good impact on them and we're liked around there (Erakor Bridge area). This time of year can be hard for missionary work with Christmas + New Years today. People are busy and...... occupied. . I feel a little dormant. I MISS serving on the "island". Outside of town and other missionaries. I hope I'll get a last area after this one. Zone Conference is this week. We've been doing lots of planning for it. This will be a hectic week. I'm excited to see what President Brewers comments and vision is for us. I'm enjoying The Miracle of Forgiveness, such a good book. Anyways hopefully next time I'll have better stuff for you guys. Love you all.

Elder Sears