Elder Hann & Rocky

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Here is a picture of Elder Hann, my new companion. Recently we were joined by a young man named Rocky, who is preparing to leave for his mission to Texas, but he is still waiting for his visa. Also included are some pictures of the other Elders in the District.

Last week for District Meeting we tried something new. We decided that everyone should bear their testimony as a person from the Book of Mormon. For example, I drew Teancum out of the envelope while my companion was Mahonrimoriancumer. It was a great experience.

The other day while on a blitz in Takapuna with Elder Jenson we went to see some investigators that I had taught while I was there. One of them said to me, “Your countenance is different. It’s like you’re glowing.” Honestly, it must be something funny I’m eating…

Some important things I have learned recently:
1. We need to strive for improvements and willingly seek for correction.
2. The power and importance of setting goals.
3. Instead of praying for your circumstances to change, pray for strength and courage to faithfully endure the challenge.
4. Humility comes when you “pray always”.

Kids talk about Frozen all the time. It sounds like a movie I will have to see when I return…

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Reunited!

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Seven months ago, I had the honor and blessing of helping Bruce and Xuqing enter the waters of baptism. My new area is in the same district where they live and I was able to visit them during a split this week. They are preparing to be sealed in the temple next year. I am so happy for them. One of the reasons for their continued progression in the gospel is because of great members in their ward. Bruce’s hometeaching companion is an excellent example of faithful fellowshipping.

A few days ago we went to the Takapuna Ward to help the Elders blitz their area. I went home that night and got out my old planners from that area and wrote down every investigator and part-member family we were working with. It was nearly a page long. Needless to say, the Elders were very pleased to receive such a long list of names to start working with. They now have a large teaching pool. I have learned that one of my primary responsibilities as a District Leader is to help Elders and Sisters in their spiritual conversion. Throughout my mission I have learned that everyone has different life experiences and different levels of spiritual conversion. I am accountable for the District’s progress as a whole, and not just my own area.

Elder Hann’s accent is mostly American now because most of his companions have been American. The members and investigators tease him because he doesn’t sound very Scottish anymore…

My best advice for starting a gospel conversation: be natural. Talk about rugby or the weather or golf or something. Then when they see you are normal, find a way to talk about something related to the gospel. In most everything that people say, you can highlight a truth of the gospel that is related to it…

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Last Week in Avondale

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We had a wonderful week, definitely one I will never forget. The week was filled with several miracles, including baptizing a young woman and her brother and helping reunite Elder Fine and his parents at a fireside. During the baptismal service I was humbled while reflecting on the events that culminated in the unifying in the faith a wonderful family six months after our first meeting. The baptism came just in time because I received word that I will be transferred in a few days. I will forever be grateful for the miracles that our Father in Heaven has let me and my companions be a part of in this area.

Oh, and we got to go golfing today 🙂  I also proved that I can sleep just about anywhere!

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Two Companions

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I now have two companions. In addition to serving with Elder Teekana, I am training Elder Fine who is from Tonga. Elder Fine is helping me understand the culture a little better. In one picture I’m drinking Milo while wearing a flower hat. For the other picture, I found the construction hat in a mud puddle and brought it home and cleaned it up, and the Chinese hat came from some investigators who got it from a Chinese festival. The other two Elders are wearing pots on their heads. I guess they didn’t want to feel left out.

I have been trying to exercise lately by running up and down the stairs of our apartment building. It worked great until one of the neighbors got upset and called the landlord. I guess being a good neighbor is important too. We still get to play basketball sometimes.

The Elders in the district had 3 baptisms last week. They are doing a great job. In district meeting we have talked a lot about working more effectively with the Ward Council. Sometimes we have to get creative in coming up with new ideas. For example, I am using my Christmas stocking from last year to issue missionary challenges to members. They reach into the stocking and pull out a challenge on a piece of paper that they should try to complete. I have also come to further understand just how much there is to learn from Preach My Gospel.

The other day I felt that we needed to go to the underground train station in New Lynn (one of the suburbs we cover). Of course we didn’t know why we were there or where we were going. When we got there, we walked over to a bench and sat down next to someone and had an awesome lesson with them. They later boarded the train and traveled to Henderson while we passed their information over to those missionaries. Experiences like this can happen when we are seeking to follow the Spirit.

We have two baptisms scheduled on the 18th. We already booked the chapel and announced it! The work is continuing to go well in this area.

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Springtime in New Zealand

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It is springtime in New Zealand. The weather has been strange lately. One day it is sunny and we can wear short-sleeved shirts, and the next day it is raining and I have my heavy coat on again.

The big drive in the mission is family history work at the moment. The mission president has asked that every missionary fill out a “My family” booklet. We are encouraged to teach members and non-members the importance of knowing their ancestors and doing their temple work for them.

We had a new family come to church recently. They were impressed by how welcoming the Ward members were and they said they were inspired by many of the testimonies that were borne. My heart was touched when a less-active member we have been working with since April stood up to share her testimony. She spoke of how she hadn’t been behind the pulpit since she was 10, of the struggles her little family has been going through, and how our challenge to her to fast and read the Book of Mormon for an hour every day for a week has blessed her life.

One of our biggest goals is helping the Avondale Sisters to baptize in October as a part of our “October Madness” quest to break the zone best. Because Elder Gulliver and Elder Basson will be baptizing along with my companion and I, we don’t want the Sisters to miss out on this opportunity to wear white! One of the biggest miracles I have witnessed is when Sister Heal came into the Ward and completely changed the culture of missionary work.

I am grateful for my mission president’s counsel during my last interview, “There is no end to the things Heavenly Father can teach us.” It is a simple truth, but it has helped me to put my approach to learning in the proper perspective.

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Looking For The Elect

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We meet people every day who have already read a bit from the Book of Mormon, who have LDS relatives or who have been to church before. The challenge is to try to help them feel the Spirit and understand the importance of taking the necessary steps to conversion and activity. We are looking for those who will hear the truth and accept it. We are looking for the elect.

We visited a children’s hospital this week and had the opportunity to give a few blessings to members and nonmembers. It was an opportunity for growth. After blessing one of these children prior to his surgery, his mother (and later his father) asked for a blessing. I felt prompted to bless the Dad with the ability to provide for the family’s temporal needs and to seek for ways to provide for their spiritual needs also. He is not a member of the church yet. While at the hospital, I found myself reflecting on all of the time I spent at my little sister Emily’s hospital growing up and how helpful it was to have a place like the “Forever Young Zone” to hang out in. When I have the financial means to do so, I plan on constructing a place of similar comfort. I also realized how stressed the parents of these kids were, and how hard it was on their marriages. I remember how my Mom and Dad didn’t let us know what was really happening and how they tried to hide the disappointment and sorrow while my sister Emily was in the hospital. Without the Gospel being first in their lives, perhaps they wouldn’t have weathered those storms as well as they did.

I just received an email with my Priesthood line of authority which I had requested from lineofauthority@ldschurch.org last week. By doing this, the Priesthood which I hold has become a greater reality to me. I have no doubt that this will be an aid in my teaching the restoration of the Priesthood to investigators and members.

We now have 4 people set for baptism. We have been working with these individuals since early May and so they know many of the Ward members well enough that they have become comfortable in attending church. I am confident that after baptism, the Ward will have few problems in retaining these converts.

One of my favorite parts about this past week was the trade-off I had with Elder Jorgensen in his area. We both learned a lot as we worked on refining our abilities to use the Spirit of Discernment. There were so many people to talk to and so many places to go. We both quieted our minds and went to where the Holy Ghost directed us.

Last P-Day we went to the Auckland museum with the Assistants. We ate Mexican food while we were in the city… it was awesome! We also woke up early and played basketball in the chapel in the heart of the city. Yesterday we ate dinner with the Phillipino investigator family again at one of the member’s homes. The mom is struggling to get her family active with her, but she still invites nonmembers over to dinner for us to teach.

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It’s Winter in New Zealand

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I know it’s not as cold as it gets in Utah, but we noticed that some of the bird baths are freezing.  When I wear my hood from my coat, I look like a Jedi…a Jedi wearing a suit and a nametag!

Everything is going great with my new companion. He works hard but also likes to have fun. We are teaching a great family and they want to be baptized but we discovered that one of their concerns is the fear of being submersed in water. Hopefully we can get them through this. Recently my companion and I spent over three hours helping an investigator family with yard work. It was actually great to have a break from normal missionary work. They really needed the help.

Last night at the Come & See fireside, Bruce and Xuqing spoke about their conversion. It was amazing to see some people who I was blessed to share the gospel with now be able to share it with others. They did a really great job, and I felt the Spirit as they humbly and sincerely bore their testimonies. There were more than a thousand people in attendance. I introduced our new investigators to Bruce and Xuqing after the conclusion of the fireside. I also had a chance to meet with Elder and Sister Reynolds last night. They had also been instrumental in the conversion process of Bruce and Xuqing.

We had three investigators attend sacrament meeting for the first time, and each of them has a baptismal date in September. The fireside last night was excellent because it was the first time one of our investigators has attended a church meeting of any kind. He and his family enjoyed the meeting because it brought a new perspective of the blessings the gospel can bring to them. They appreciated the way they felt at the fireside and expressed a desire to return next month.

On trade-off this week with Elder Gulliver we taught several lessons and discussed his plans for leading his new area. It is a great blessing to have an Elder like him in this district. We visited Sister Hull this past week. She is doing great and she came back to our Ward on Sunday.

We knocked on someone’s door who we hadn’t talked to in many weeks. One of her flat mates answered the door and grabbed us and pulled us inside. He was very drunk and tried to force us to drink alcohol. I used the moment to teach some guests there about the Word of Wisdom.

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