Monday, June 15, 2015

It is so difficult to leave your mission. This transfer I say would make top 3 of most difficult transfers. Everything has been so wonderful. We find, we teach, we invite, we baptise as befits our purpose. I think it helped that I kept the fact that my time was up on the down low so I only really got ... two days of people asking me post-mission plans? But I've been spending all this time like I'll be here forever and the reality that I will not be. 
I know I am going home, but I am leaving home as well - if you understand me. 
The people here, the experiences, knowing that today I made a difference, today I helped someone draw closer to Christ, today I walked the paths our Saviour would walk - one step after the other. It is a good feeling. It is so good focusing on the spiritual. 


I keep asking - are we allowed to have favourite baptisms? Everyone's journey is special and I am privileged to play a part in it, but having been there from the beginning of the teaching process to the ordinance of baptism? Wow, that's special!
Dannielle and Brother Finau gave really good talks. Tears may have been shed. Dannielle spoke about repentance and baptism. She spoke about how repentance is a gift, repentance means change. And that even if you forgot to read your scriptures or did not pray that day, don't worry. That's what repentance is for. Just start again tomorrow. Brother Finau was really funny, he gave Brian baptism presents (and related it to his talk about the Holy Ghost) - chocolate - representing fleeting happiness and a Captain America figurine - representing putting on the armour of God. And some people that we met the day before attended also with his family! He was a Seventh Day Adventist minister. I'm glad he and his family came. His kids made friends with bishop's kids and he said he enjoyed the service. :) 

And then Sonny (his cousin) performed the baptism. And then Brian bore his testimony! Sorry Brian if you read this and for quoting you so exactly but he spoke about his spiritual journey. How he came from NZ for a fresh start to live with his aunty and uncle and soon Brother Finau came to live with them (Brother Finau had to finish his studies, so his family is in the US while he has to do one more course!) and as soon as Brother Finau realised Brian was not a member he started working on him. And Brian said he heard the word "repent" a hundred + times a day, he'd be making his coffee in the morning and everybody would say "repent" and he did not understand why they were saying that. But then the mormon message "men's hearts shall fail them" changed his perspective. And he also started crying - this 20y.o. guy, crying whilst bearing his testimony. His family crying in the front row - especially his aunt who had not been to church in so long
And he pulled out a heart note that we gave him with Mosiah 18:10 written on it to help him remember how he felt during that lesson. Now all that is missing which sadly I really can't capture or convey through the medium of blog would be the musical items. Hymns can really bring the Spirit. I have a firm testimony of that. 
This is one person's story. There are millions of members of the church. This is why D&C 4 says "and now behold, a marvelous work and a wonder is about to come forth among the children of men." This marvelous work is the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It would be so entirely impossible to sum up everything I've learned during my mission and all the many ways that it has impacted me in one sentence, in one paragraph - even a monster paragraph! So if you read, don't just read this entry! Search around to capture a more holistic mission experience.
3 Nephi 5:13
Who am I? I have learned on my mission that I am not just "Ellen", I am not just a comm/law student, a tutor, a reader, a romantic... All these things that I thought I was were stripped away. All that was left was my testimony. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I suppose I will once again slowly gather other labels again, but I hope nothing hides my true identity. I am a child of God. And so are you! Never forget it :)  

Sister Soh took a photo of me walking in front of her at the temple. It seems fitting. 
Goodbye Adelaide. Goodbye blog. Goodbye ZAAM.

Now the true test is whether I live what I have learned. Until next time

Saturday, June 13, 2015

big girl pants
Sister Carter (our mission mum) has a saying. When things are tough, she says in her American Mom voice "put on your big pants, honey!"
I'll tell you a secret - your last transfer requires big girl pants. I haven't really spoken about it yet because quite frankly I think I was in denial. But with less than one week to go, my companion says it would be unkind to not say goodbye. My mission mum told me a lot more counsel but I kind of feel like it will only relate when you are in that exact moment, otherwise it will distract you? The Carter's are finishing their mission too! I will be their last intake going home. We'll build beautiful zion again someday :) 

Something I've realised lately is that faith is not what I thought it was. I thought faith was the complete absence of doubt, or maybe certain knowledge. I thought that if your faith wasn't unshakeable, then it wasn't faith. But I've learned that faith comes in all shapes and sizes. It is a gift from God. True faith is shown when one moves and acts and reaches upwards and outwards despite the doubt or questions which plague you and ask you to stop. 
I really feel like the world today encourages you to discount your faith. You can't prove it? It must not be true! Or science says this or the media said that. Or move on with the times. Even myself, when I feel an inkling of doubt and I feel so anguished because how could I doubt? How can I still have this question? 
I wonder if the things I am saying resonates with anyone. In any case, I've learned that it is okay to admit that there are some things you don't know. There are some things that mankind will never know, there are some things that mankind cannot know because our finite mortal bodies and minds cannot even grasp the concept of eternity. And when your crisis of faith comes, when, as Elder Briscoe put it, an earthquake runs through your foundation of faith, the worst thing you can do is cave into those negative thoughts! You know that God is there and that He loves you. This past week there was this man who was awful to us at the door. And Sister Soh said she knew the Saviour was with us. I asked her, how did you know? Could you feel it? She said she couldn't feel it. She just knew. 
Trust yourself! Trust that sweet spirit. That's my advice to you and to myself. And as you trust and you move forward, your faith grows. That's faith. 
There's so much more I could say and expound upon but I think I'll have to wait until next personal study or the next time I give a talk! 

This is so not what I intended to write hahaha. But maybe someone out there needs it? Until next time! :) 


Book of Mormon class! ft. Brian who is being baptised this saturday!! and brother finau and brother tuigamala. 
And temple trip today with lovely Sister Soh :)

love you all! have a great week!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hello dear family/blog! 

OKAY this past week has been so great! Except for Friday, Friday was a hard day. Something about weekly planning seems to get me down, but we persevered and my companion was like I don't know what to do do you want to talk someone? And I didn't want to just yet I wanted to exhaust all the other avenues heavenly father has given us so I went into the room and I tried to lie down because I was tired but I was not sleepy (it is hard to discern sometimes what you need) so instead I just prayed and when I ran out of words (which I do, even in prayer sometimes) I just kind of meditated I suppose and I felt like that was really, really good for my soul. 
So I think I share this because a missionary will always share the highlights but i don't think you can appreciate really how special the highlights are unless you know that we suffer as others do, and we are under an extraordinary amount of pressure and as we learn to rely on heavenly father, that's what produces the miracles. 

But let's not focus on the negatives because as I said this week was really wonderful!
Our previous rescue had another Sunday off and came to church again! I love that family so much. She's Filipino and whenever we come over she cooks a FEAST. It reminds me of the Filipino parties you know with all the food on the table and it is kind of like a buffet and I forgot that that was what I was used to with all the western food I've eaten on my mission and how they give you your own serving.. it was awesome. I had ube again! Hooray! And lots of spring rolls.
Anyway, she had been struggling a bit over the past few, well, years... and almost losing her testimony and even considering going back to her old church but we knew she had a testimony, and so we tried to fan the embers of that testimony and she said she would try church just one more time before shutting the door and she did and it was a wonderful experience! And she just looked so happy. Sister Soh always says the gospel is so logical! You look at that face and that manner, and even if you were blind I'm sure you could feel her happy glow and you tell us that this isn't the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You tell us that something that so obviously benefits her is not from God. We've had too many experiences to doubt. 

And what else has been happening?
Our investigator Brian had an interesting spiritual experience. First off let me tell you about their family. They are Samoan + a Tongan family friend living with them and the islander culture is quite different to the Aussie way of life. it is similar to Filipino culture re food haha but ah I can't explain it. it's just different. Anyway, we joined them for Family Home Evening last night and our investigator was teaching us the lesson (role reversal, hey) and also we had just had lunch with that family at another family's home and we talked about standards (watched "Stay Within the Lines" it's a good one. I recommend it) and that was good! And then the father of the home turned the time to us and we talked about the b word, baptism and how his prayers were going etc etc. And then he shared with us that interesting spiritual experience - with the aid of Brother Finau. 
So, I wish I could draw this for you haha but he was running along the beach after work and the sun was setting and he was standing on some cliffs and he realised that the sun rays were pointing directly to where he was, on the cliff. He felt like God was speaking to him, giving him the signal but his reply was "I'm not ready!" 
Hahaha... so we talked about that and what was keeping him from entering into that sacred covenant with heavenly father and we used the Book of Mormon to allay his fears and we invited him to baptism for the date that we had prayed about and he accepted. 
Something else I love about teaching this family is that we seem to always begin and end our lessons with hymns. And they are so good at singing - any hymn we sing turns into a 4 part choir. And I love music and the Spirit that it brings. I told Sister Soh, who needs iTunes when you have a hymn book? hahahaha! 

I've been thinking about the favourite moments of my mission and like you hear missionaries say so many things but I wanted what i said to be real and from the bottom of my heart and not just some cliche. And I think that honestly the favourite moments of my mission have been when we have felt the Spirit in the room and in the lesson and then invited our investigator to baptism. Elder Holland described this in a talk "The Divine Companionship." The veil is thin, hearts burn, sometimes tears are shed and nobody in the room would rather be anywhere else. And then like that corny EFY song "I cry and say, this is what matters. The truth is calling to you." I used to think that song was ridiculous but I realised that it kind of is describing a true moment. And that moment is the best. I think glimpses of this also happen whenever we find someone new to teach, or we hear someone's very first prayer ever. But really something in common with all of these moments is the presence of God's Spirit. My dad's mission changed his life in so many ways but he told me something that I think I'll always remember. He told me that the greatest blessing of all from his mission (and mind you that's where he met my mum and boom 4 kids a house no dog later) was the testimony that he received that God lives and that this is His church. All he left on his mission with was the knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true - but that's all you need to start, hey? I'm really grateful for the rich heritage my pioneer parents have left me. 

Attached are some photos!

                                                                     district activity
some nice scenery from my pro companion except i think the resolution may be small, sorry
eating a giant marshmallow from kyle and kirsty. it seemed like a good idea but after 1/3 of the marshmallow i was kind of done with it. but i'm sure it would work great over a fire!! 
our lemon tree in the backyard - the colours are so bright and poppy 

oh yes and at sister rowling's house. with the cat. I've developed an interesting kind of relationship with dogs and cats on the mission. but in case of any cat or dog lovers out there, I think I'll refrain from explaining the nuances of it. But I'm really glad my family didn't get a little inside dog while I've been gone. Hehehe. 

This is the best work ever! Elder Holland says 'welcome to the work of angels'. It's true. This work and the change that the restored gospel can make in people's lives is nothing short of miraculous. 

Anyway, thanks for reading. Have a great week!