Mission Address

You can write to Luke at the following address:
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Luke A. Powell
Hawaii Honolulu Mission
1500 South Beretania St. Suite #416
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

INCREDIBLE Week, INCREDIBLE Christmas Lu'au, Getting Transferred!

Iokwe iokwe!!!

I am SO glad to hear that everything is going well for all of you and that you had a magnificent week from the sounds of things! That being said I am also SO sorry that I will have to be keeping this letter EXTRA short and simple and to the point. So sorry but I will probably not be using a lot of my usual humor or rhetoric in this e-mail... likewise there will be no foolish wand waving or silly incantations in this e-mail either... ok sorry I'm done making jokes, now on to the serious stuff... maybe. :) haha!

our district here (these guys are seriously the best! 
So first, the reason I am so incredible short on time this week is because have been running all over the island today trying to pull things together and start cleaning up and packing... that's right... PACKING!! I AM GETTING TRANSFERRED!!!! (And no those are not "all-caps-of-excitement") I am actually VERY sad to be leaving this area at this time, but let me explain why I am sad. Of all the days and weeks and months of my mission, in all of the areas in which I have served and with all of the companions I have been with, NONE of them up to this point have been quite as incredible or successful as these past few weeks in Kekaha ward have been. Truly this area is a special area and the people here are just incredible!! Let me give you just a quick rundown of what all happened this week and I think you'll understand what I'm talking about.

So this week we started out strong with an INCREDIBLE lesson with one of our less-active families in the ward and long story short their 10 year old daughter now has a baptism date set for this next transfer and her father is meeting with the bishop and taking steps to try and get his Priesthood back so that he can baptize her!! Thursday was also a VERY full day as we got to have an INCREDIBLE training by President and Sister Warner as well as Elder and Sister Hamula from the first quorum of the 70!!!! He talked about a LOT of things and if I have the time I could write a whole e-mail just about his training!!! He is an incredible man and really had the spirit with him, the things we helped us learn were just amazing! I really can't say that enough! haha! (oh also on a side note he walked up to me and before I even said anything he said "you're from Mesa right? no wait.. Tempe?" Me: "yes" Elder Hamula: "I know your parents! They're great people. I also got to know your Grandfather very well in our service in the church together." so there you have it... once again our reputation precedes us... haha! Sorry if I ruined that reputation in anyway by the end of the day... I am VERY far from being as 'reputable' as you two or Grandpa Groberg! hahaha!) Anyway, yeah it was AWESOME!
a quick pic from part of the training by Elder Hamula as he broke down the "stats" of the war against evil that we are currently fighting as missionaries! (he based his numbers off a training he got by Elder Maxwell a while back so that was cool! I love Elder Maxwell! :))
So then after that we RUSHED back to our side of the island so we could help set up for our ward Christmas Lu'au.... I am sorry, I do not mean to be degrading at all about the Lakeshore ward... I love you all very much... but, I am almost positive that our ward Lu'au here was probably twice the size as any "ward Christmas party" back on the mainland! haha! I mean HOLY COW!!!! It was INCREDIBLE!!!!! They had been planning it for over a month and man did it pull together. I only ever got a few pictures of the tents (which I will attach) but unfortunately I never got a picture when the tables were full (a lot of people had already left by the time I had taken it) and I never got a picture of the food tables.... WOW! They were PACKED!!! I seriously think I gained about 10 pound just that night alone!!! They had the full Hawaiian spread!! I mean pounds and pounds and pounds of lomi salmon, chicken long rice, kalua pig, poi, poke, and then not to mention a table and half worth of desserts ranging everywhere from Samoan pancakes to jello cheesecake to rice pudding to sugar cookies! It was DELICIOUS!!!!
This picture doesn't even do the ward Lu'au justice, but it might give you an idea about how big of a deal it was. Just imagine ALL of those tables but literally FULL of people and a line for food going the span of the whole place! It was a BIG deal!

 Anyway, after that we went on exchanges with the ZL's in Lihue on Saturday and while I wasn't there for the actual lesson, Elder Luke and Elder Birch (on of our ZL's) finally set W with a baptismal date!!!! I am SOO excited for him!!!!!!! I am also excited for our other investigator family (T, T and their son) who will be getting baptized this next Saturday!! While I am very sad that I will not be here for any of those baptisms I know that they will all make great converts and be an incredible strength to an already incredibly strong and solid ward here in Kekaha.

the family getting baptized this week and the family who fellowshipped them and invited them out in the first place
Sunday was the heart breaker.... it started off well enough... but it wasn't very far into the meeting before the spirit just overwhelmed my soul as I thought back to the many incredible experiences I have had here in Kekaha and then the tears started to pour out as I took the stand after the closing prayer and looked over the people that I truly have come to love here, people who I now look upon as extensions of my own family, and tried by best to compose myself as they sang Aloha 'oe to me. I don't think I've cried that much on my whole mission!!!! This ward really and truly does understand not only what it means to have aloha, but what it means to share and live that aloha every single day. I love them and will miss them deeply... but my time has come, as it all too often does, and I am now off to another area... and you'll never guess where..... O'ahu!!!! And when I say that I am not kidding... my area is OAHU!!! I mean practically the whole island!!! Well kind of.

So I am going to be heading to the Waipahu Marshallese branch! Only is this mission can you serve in a mixed ward, a Tongan ward, a Samoan ward, a Haole (military) ward, a Hawaiian ward (I mean like half of the members are pure blooded Hawaiians from Ni'ihau) and then go to a Marshallese branch!! What a blessing it is to be here!!! Anyway, so yeah... this will be interesting because first off... as you might recall..... I DON'T SPEAK MARSHALLESE!!!! AT ALL!!!!!! I can say hello! That’s it! Thankfully my companion I'm pretty sure is fluent, but as for me... well it's looking like I'm gonna have to go sit out by the beach somewhere for three days and just read the Marshallese and English scriptures back and forth for a while... try and put Grandpa's method of language learning to the test! haha! But also besides just not speaking the language, I don't know the culture, the food, or anything about the people really! I mean don't get me wrong, I am VERY excited to get to meet them and learn to love all of that stuff... but nevertheless I am still a little apprehensive going into it as to how quickly I can adjust... but either way, I'm sure it will be GREAT! I do know that they are VERY humble people and I am sure that everything will work out GREAT in the end!! :) We'll make it a ward soon enough! ;) haha! Anyway, it will also be cool because unlike other areas on the mission, we really don't have any ward boundaries... we are one of the two Marshallese branches on the island so while we technically "split the island in half" our branch has been around for a long time and the other has only existed to literally a few months now so we already have a bunch of members all over the island!! I'm excited for that! :)

An over-view of Kekaha from up on the hill a bit
Anyway, I've gone over my time... again :P I've gotta run. Sorry again that this one is so late coming to you. Hopefully things won't be quite as hectic and I can tell you a little more about things in next week’s e-mail.... but if not... well then I will tell you ALL about things when we get to SKYPE NEXT WEEK ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!!!!!!!! Wow... that comes up on you fast.... anyway, thank you again for everything! I hope you have a GREAT week!! I love you all more than I can express!!! Mahalo nui loa for your love and care and your faith and prayers on our behalf!! They are returned on our end!! Aloha au ia oe!!!
-Elder Powell
attempt at capturing the beauty of the sunset last night by the pier 

the 1-year old birthday party we went to last week... I'm telling you they seriously go ALL OUT on those things here!! haha! by the way this was AFTER everyone left.. it most definitely was NOT that empty the rest of the time...

a few pics from the HUGE clean-up project we did in our totally overgrown church garden right behind our house. One of our members is a contractor so he brought over his John Deer tractor with a HUGE mower attachment and just PLOWED the whole place down... but everything on the fence line and close to the poles had to be done by hand, with some cane knifes and a couple machetes! :) (to give you an idea of how bad it was before you can look at it on google maps street view but then even from that you gotta add about three years worth of extra "growth" and weeds.. I mean that place was just COMPLETELY overrun!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stories from last week, Miracles from this week, So much BIG news


Thank you SO much for your update and all of your love and support on our behalf! I hope you all know how much I truly do love you!!! That being said time is a little short again and so instead of trying to give a long explanation about why I will just jump right into everything I have to tell you about because there is a TON to talk about!!! :)

Man, where to even begin! Well I guess I should clarify at least a couple of those "headlines" from my last e-mail but unfortunately I do not have sufficient time to review all of them so I will just pick a few and the rest you can make up whatever stories you like about them and then come Christmas time on skype you can share your interpretation of the stories and I will share mine and we'll see how close they are! :) Just like a big game of Balderdash I guess. haha!

"40-day fast" - So obviously we have not stopped eating and drinking anything for 40-days but this form of a "40-day" fast is more in spiritual terms where we (as a district) each think of personal things that perhaps we can "sacrifice" to the Lord. Things that we have maybe been holding back on or not fully committing too and for 40-days we really give it emphasis on trying to overcome whatever it may be. So yeah I guess you could say it's more along the lines of "lint" than a "fast" but either way its purpose is to help up be more consecrated and find miracles and HOLY COW was this week filled with miracles!! But I will get to that later. :)

"Part-member soon to be ALL-MEMBER family!" - we went on a referral from our ward mission leader (who as previously stated is "more 'on-fire' than London on Guy Fawkes day!") to visit a less-active family that used to be really active but due to some very sad choices by certain member of the family, just fell apart. BUT as sad as there story is, they are now piecing things back together and as a part of that "piecing back together" there is a new member being added to the family that wants to get baptized like the rest of the family and so while we have yet to see that non-member addition of the family at church yet, the rest of the family has started coming back and are doing really well!! In fact they are doing so well that they signed up for dinner tonight and we are heading over in about half an hour! (hence the pressure of time in this situation, haha!)

"Tithing & Fast Offerings" - the lesson that we shared with our progressing investigator family. This week we also finished out the lesson entitled "Commandments" with a quick rundown of The Ten Commandments with extra emphasis on The Law of Chastity and The Sabbath-day Holy. It went GREAT! They are still on track and very excited for their baptism date on Dec. 19th!!! I just hope and pray I don't get transferred on the 16th which is the next transfer day... but either way, I am just glad I got to see them progress as much as I have! :)

"Referral Charades at the Waimea Public Library" -so one reason I was so rushed to e-mail last week is because literally right in the middle of my already short session on the library computer I got interrupted by a lady who was very excited to see us, but sadly, could not express her excitement in the form of words because she was actually deaf. However, her inability to hear or speak and my inability to understand ASL did not stop her from getting her message across. What then followed was a 10-15 minute game of charades as she told me through actions and some random key words written down on a piece of paper about a friend of hers here in Kekaha whose husband (or fiancĂ©e, I'm still not too sure) just passed away of lung cancer and she was now alone with two children. She was very sad for her friend and wanted us to help her and asked if we could not only pray for her and her family but if we could go visit them. So then this week we went by to the address she gave us and met her friend and explained the whole story about the acted out referral and about who we are and a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and offered our help and long story short we have a return appointment with them this next week! So yeah! We're VERY excited about that and we'll let you know how it goes!! :)

So anyway, sorry that is way more than I wanted to say about last week but they were all just such cool stories! Anyway some of them definitely do spill into this week’s awesome stories so yeah, it works out! :) Anyway, as Fozzie Bear would say, "moving right along", I'll try to cram in as much as I can about the MANY miracles we saw this week! :)

So first, we had a great lesson with a part-member family that we were teaching before but had to drop because they just weren't committed and weren't ready at the time. But then a few weeks ago they showed up to our Ward Thanksgiving dinner and then at least a portion of them have been coming to church every week since then! The lesson went great and we have another one set up for this week so we're going to try to set their 10 year old daughter with a baptismal date again. Hopefully this time things pull through for their family!! :)

Thursday was highlighted by our weekly Book of Mormon/FHE class. It is always a great class and a very spiritual experience for all in attendance but this last week was extra special as one of our investigators who has really been struggling recently due to bad friends and bad past life habits and other things, finally showed up to class and was INSTANTLY welcomed in and fellowshipped and felt so good about everything that he wants to keep on coming out!! It was great! :)

Friday we spent most of the morning helping set up for one of our members "1-year old birthday lu'au" which if you weren't aware are a HUGE deal out here!!! I mean like practically wedding reception huge!! If not bigger! I will be sure to send you some pictures of the decorations we helped build and set up, it's pretty nuts! haha! But anyway, so after the service we went to a lesson with a girl who was previously taking the lessons and stopped for a while because she was still young and had no support from her part-member family at home. In fact her father wouldn't even let her get baptized no matter what so while she stayed at least semi-active in YW for a couple of years she basically was lost on our radar. But now she is older, about to graduate high school actually, and she is VERY active in YW, in our Thur. night study class whenever possible, and even at church! So while we still have to get approval from the parents because she is only 17, she has a MUCH better chance at winning them over because she has showed her commitment to the gospel! So yeah! She really wants to get baptized ASAP and we are going to talk with the parents as well and hopefully by the end of the week she also will have a baptismal date!! :D :D

Saturday we spent a good portion of the day clearing out the overgrown jungle that was right next to our house... I forgot to get any "before" pictures but needless to say it was NUTS! But I did get after pictures and I think from those you should be able to piece together a little bit just how BIG of a project it was! But to wrap it all up in a short sentence. We lopped down trees with our many cane knifes and machetes while our member mowed down the rest with his giant Tractor and mean mower attachment!! (Pictures will be included at some point.) And then after that we were running all over to go try and at least make an appearance at not one but TWO one-year old birthday parties that we were invited too. Both looked VERY excited although we barely caught the tail end of both because of our packed schedule that day. But they were fun none-the-less.

Sunday. ok... this was the BIG day... but because I've already gone overtime and this letter is hands down the longest I've ever written anyway I'll try to just sum it up SUPER fast!! Church was GREAT!!!! We had 9 investigators at sacrament and that doesn't even include all the other non-members/less-actives that came out that week for a baby-blessing and other reasons! With the rest of our day we somehow managed to cram in SIX different lessons!! But because of time I will only highlight two. So first we went to go try and see this less-active family that we had happened to run into a while back but never really made solid contact after that. But instead of meeting the member at the door we actually ended up meeting and talking with his little brother who is just a few years older than me and is also the ONLY member of his family to never get baptized! So long story short we talked for a long time and he really opened up to us and basically told us that "I've had a rough past, things are not going well now, I have friends who are not good influences and have led me down a path that has torn my life apart. I need and I want new friends and new life and help from someone." So of course after listening for quite a while and almost shedding tears at the account of his story, we testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and we told him about a group of people, down at our church in Kekaha who are all GREAT people and while they, like all of us, are not perfect, would be more than happy to take him in, to fellowship with him and to help him come out of the same life that many of our members came out of themselves, some not too long ago at all. That is one thing I truly love about this ward. They are all SO humble and welcoming and loving especially of people who do come from tough circumstances because as mentioned before many of them came from very similar circumstances but have let the atonement change them and help them. This ward truly is a miracle ward full of so many miracle people. Which leads me into my last short little story.

So after our lesson just mentioned above, we drove quickly to the chapel for a broadcast of the 1st Presidency Christmas devotional (which was INCREDIBLE by the way!! The choir’s rendition of 'Noe! Noe!' especially touched me because it reminded me EXACTLY of the kind of Christmas music that I'm sure Jan Sanderson would pull out for our ward choir this time of year! :) haha!). When we got to the chapel though we were quickly snagged by our Bishop and one of his councilors and they escorted us to our "reserved seats" in a semi-empty chapel RIGHT next to a man, obviously not a regular at church, who was invited to the fireside by one of his good friends who is a ward missionary in our ward. After a little talking we came to find out that he also recently just came out of a VERY rough lifestyle and even was still stuck in one in some ways. His story too almost brought tears to my eyes as we listened intently and likewise bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Christ. He was touched by the whole night and wants to be a part of our church and while because of his situation the path to baptism may be long and hard and filled with obstacles, I know that the Spirit touched him that night and soon enough he will be in a situation where he can be baptized and beyond!!!

So yeah.... that has been my past two weeks! Sorry it's so long, I promise I really tried to keep it simple and short but there was just so much BIG news that it really is no surprise that it resulted in a rather big e-mail. But I will close now. I hope you all have just as big and exciting and miracle filled weeks! I know you don't have to been a full-time missionary to see those miracles each and every day. Just do what you can to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your own personal life and the miracles are bound to find their way into your life!! Have a great week! I love you all! Mahalo nui loa for the new socks (which have already been put VERY much to use! :) haha!) and mahalo in advance for the other Christmas package on its way! :)
Aloha au ia oe!!

-Elder Powell

Bullet Points, Feel the Love, Star Wars Family History


So first I want to apologize profusely for not being able to write much this week. I promise there is a TON to write about and I promise I will try to make more time in our p-day next week to get you all of the details about all of those things I have to write you about, but unfortunately that time does not exist for us on this week's e-mail session. Anyway, before dad starts accusing me (and accurately I might add) of wasting all of the time I DO have to e-mail by talking about all of the time I DON'T have left. I will just jump right in with some nonsensical bullet-points giving a brief recap of our week. LET'S DO THIS!!

-Dinner and a great coordination meeting with our new WML (he's seriously more "on-fire" than London on Guy Fawkes day!)
-An awesome district meeting where we talked about how to more fully consecrate ourselves with the coming holiday season.
-40-day fast
-Exchanges and magic tricks
-Turkey bowl and teenagers being teenagers
-turkey and kanikapila
-more turkey and a more small kine kanikapila
-a couple of lessons
-a (miracle) service project big enough to practically count as a second eagle project!
-Part-member soon to be ALL-MEMBER family!
-Tithing & Fast offerings
-Hawaiian pastor
-a VERY long visit with a recently re-activated lady and her 70 year old JW friend.

and last but certainly not least
-Referral charades at the Waimea Public Library! :)

....so yeah, there you have it!! That was our week! :) haha! I hope that all makes sense. If not you will all just have to wait in suspense until next week when hopefully time will be more on my side when it comes to our e-mailing. Sorry again, we were literally all over this island today trying to run errands and do other things to help prepare us for the coming week, but I suppose that is why they call it "preparation" day... anyway, I love you all. I really do! I hope you never forget that. I know I could never forget how much you love me because I feel that love and your prayers on our behalf every day. Thank you for all of your thanksgiving wishes as well! I wish I could have been there to add to the festivities but there will always be next year!! :) Anyway, have a GREAT week!! I will talk to you more later!! Mahalo nui loa and ALOOOHHAAA!!!!!

-Elder Powell

p.s. I know I promised you pictures this week, and while I thought about sending the same old "boring pictures" of the spectacular Kekaha sunsets or the morning fog lifting over the Na Pali coast at Kalalau valley or other things like that, I figured you would probably MUCH rather see some pictures of our member's "Star Wars family history chart" from the Ward Thanksgiving dinner whose theme was about eternal families/family history. And another awesome picture of me with a home-made "Master Sword" from The Legend of Zelda made by one of the members in the Kalaheo ward I met on exchanges as a part of their Halloween costume (they went as Link from tLoZ) :) hope you enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scrumptious Pancakes, Pouring Rain, Missionaries are Not Perfect


How are you?? Thank you so much for your e-mails this week! This week was definitely one of those more traditional and sort of mundane weeks....now that I am typing this and really think back about this last week I realize that there have actually been quite a few different events going on over here on Kaua'i! So I guess I'll just jump right into it!

Well we started out our week with a trip up to Lihue on Tuesday for interviews with our Mission President. But these weren't just your everyday kind of interviews that he does with every zone once every other transfer. These interviews including a delicious pancake breakfast beforehand!! What made these pancakes so delicious or even warranted their making you may ask? Was it the giant bag of Krusteas pancake mix? Or perhaps the gallon of POG on the side? (Editor’s note: POG is a delicious blend of juices from passion, orange and guava fruits.) No, these pancakes were so scrumptious because they were earned by our zone hitting all of their weekly goals including 3 baptisms!! :) So yeah, that was fun! :) Anyway, it was also good to be able to sit in council with our Priesthood leader. How grateful I am for that priesthood and all the blessings that follow with it as it is used properly.

We also had our ward Thanksgiving dinner this week which had a GREAT turn out and was a LOT of fun!! I'll admit however that I probably would have enjoyed it a little more if I hadn't been so exhausted from the rest of the day before the activity. That day I happened to be on exchanges with one of the missionaries over in Kalaheo and while we were initial excited about all the work we were going to accomplish that day, we were a little caught off guard when we woke to find that the light rain that began the previous night was not only still coming down but that it was coming down SIGNIFICANTLY harder! We were hoping it would at least lighten up after our studies and so forth but instead it decided to keep on pouring and getting heavier and heavier ALL DAY LONG!! We were a little apprehensive because of how hard it was raining to go out, but if "persecutions" "mobs" and "armies" couldn't stop the work from progressing than we sure weren't about to let a little bit of rain do so. So we went out. It was actually a very productive day and we were able to learn a lot about and from each other. I always love exchanges for that. Anyway, while it was a good day for sure we also got to the ward activity very exhausted and a little wet. But we still had fun as mentioned before! :)

Other than that, highlights of the week include our weekly service at the Kimura's flower farm, some very exciting meetings with our new ward mission leader that led to some very lofty but VERY exciting goal setting for the coming months, and kanikapila (jam session) with one of our part-member families. The last one was especially fun as I learned more that night about the ukulele than I ever had with all of my personal practice and playing. If you wanna learn the real way ya gotta learn from a local! :) haha!

Anyway, so lastly, just a quick warning, God knows the thoughts of your heart and he always has a plan in store to help us change those thoughts if they are not righteous. This last Sunday, right as sacrament meeting was about to start, this part-member family that we had previously been teaching, came in and sat in the back. A little bit shocked, my immediate reaction in my mind and heart was something to the effect of "oh, hey, look who decided to show up." I will confess, I was not in the best mindset towards them but felt justified because of some previous less than positive experiences with that family as well as some major frustrations that came from trying to teach them before. But either way, the meeting continued on and I never really thought anything of it, until the very last talk. A lady from the Stake Primary Presidency got up and right off the bat started with "my talk today is about forgiveness". Immediately I thought of the other family that had just come into the meeting this week and realized that I had been too fast to judge them and their motives for coming. I of course repented and have been trying to look at their family now with a new outpouring of love and concern and although I'm still not perfect, the Lord is definitely helping us out. Anyway, I just thought I would share that first to prove that missionaries are not perfect (in fact we are so often very far from it) so be patient with us... but also that others aren't perfect too and that we need to all just learn to have a little more love and a little more patience and acceptance in every which way for everyone around us.

Anyway, thank you again for your updates and your continued out pouring of prayers on our behalf! Mom and Dad, thank you for fulfilling AND magnifying all of your callings. I promise what you are doing is absolutely crucial to missionary work! Also thank you for both sharing lessons on that talk by President Eyring. That talk has a sort of special place in my heart having served around and talked with Elder Cheel and many other missionaries who were evacuated and transferred over to this mission from Vanuatu after the storm hit their islands. Best of luck Joe and all of the MdN crew with your games! We're getting ready for a fun little "turkey bowl" flag football game over here with the Kalaheo ward on Thanksgiving morning and while it will probably not be even half as intense or competitive as all of those high school games, the little bit of extra "p-day practice" that I have gotten has really made me appreciate how hard the sport really is.... although I will still always appreciate the Marching Band at least a little bit more than any actual football team! ;) haha! HAVE A GREAT WEEK! ALOHA NUI LOA AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Elder Powell

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deep clean, A Means to an End, Official Pidgin

Aloha ohana!!

Thank you for your letters!! I actually have quite a bit to respond to today and even less time to do so because we are still mid-project ourselves back at our house here in Kekaha. Elder Luke and I decided that while the little bit of tidying up and shuffling clutter around the house that we do from day to day is good, that we really needed to do a DEEP clean.... but as always happens we started only to realize that we were taking on a much bigger project than we realized... so there is still a lot to do. But we were able to clean some windows, remove and organize large piles of cluttered papers, and throw out THREE trash bags worth of old food and misc. junk from the kitchen/living room area. So while it currently still looks like our house is in shambles, it is comforting to know that we have made a lot of progress in cleaning and de-cluttering and it just feels a lot better and healthier being inside. :) And speaking of which, both Elder Luke and I have been feeling a lot better and healthier ourselves this past week and that resulted thankfully in us NOT being inside very much because we were actually out seeing people and working! Which is always a HUGE blessing!! :)

So quick highlights from that work this past week. It started off with cramming four lessons worth of information into three different days with T and T and their family. It has been awesome teaching them! They are SO incredibly prepared and humble and faithful! In fact this last week we covered more information and they made more progress than some of our other investigators have made in the whole 3 1/2 months that I've been in this area! I think perhaps the most comforting part about their story however is that fact that already they have set goals (and are working towards them) not only for their baptism on December 12th, but for receiving the Priesthood and doing temple baptisms and eventually being sealed as a family in the Salt Lake Temple one year from their baptism date!!! One of the greatest fears and apprehensions we face as missionaries (and members) I think is retention. People getting baptized because they like this or that about the church or whatever and then going less-active because they don't have sight of things beyond their baptism and of those continuing ordinances and covenants and the unending blessings associated with them. That's why it is so cool to see T and T not only get baptized for the sake of being baptized but rather as a means to an end, so that they can be sealed in the temple and live together for time and all eternity in the Celestial kingdom!! ....so yeah, I think that answers your question mom about how they are doing? ;) haha! 

Other than that, this week was a lot of catching up with others and a LOT of talking story! I think one of my favorite quotes from our Mission President is, "we live in the land of 'talk story' and sometimes you've just gotta talk story." and how true that is! haha! Especially the older local people here just know how to talk your ear off! But I love it! :) As you will probably recall talking a lot is never something I've struggled with. It is fun to hear all of the stories of plantation days, and hunting trips down Kalalau, and even softball tournaments on Maui. The range of things people can find to talk about here truly has no end! Unfortunately those tangents are often a much to frequent part of the conversation when we are attempting to talk about the gospel, but it is alright! We are getting good stuff done either way! :)

Other news, one of the members of the bishopric here just welcomed home their youngest son from his mission in Mexico and his spoke this last week at church. It was fun to hear the mix of Pidgin and Spanish as he adjusted back to his "local dialect". Oh, and on a quick side note, this last week "Pidgin" was declared as an 'official language' by the census bureau! So now we get choke plenty locals ova here who wen go from bein' called "unintelligent" to "bilingual". ...so yeah, that's pretty cool! :) Anyway, speaking of bilinguals, we are looking forward to going out now more often with Bro. W (the recently returned missionary) and at least one of the two priests in the ward. So that will be fun! :) It's kinda weird to be on this side of things when it feels like just last week I was going out with Elder Goates and Johnson to teach lessons in the YSA ward back in Tempe.

But yeah, so that is my not so fast fast update for this last week! I hope you all have a FANTASTIC week!! I know I'm looking forward to a lot of really exciting things this week for us here in Kekaha! I love you all and am praying for you always! Stay strong, carry on, and don't forget to be awesome!! :)

Aloha nui loa!
-Elder Powell

p.s. my "scripture for the week" that I am 'ponderizing' is actually a quote from "As a man Thinketh" by James Allen. It is simply. "Circumstance does not make a man; it merely reveals him to himself."
How true that has been for us here on the mission and I'd imagine for you back at home. But how grateful I am for a Savior who can help us to change ourselves for the better no matter what the "circumstances" may be. I guess a good correlating scripture would be Ether 12:27 :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

No language barrier, Daddy you have to take me in there!

the north shore of Kaua'i 
 I am not happy to report that I have spent the vast majority of this last weekend (including all of today) with  mild but still rather obstinate and irksome cold symptoms. However, I am happy to report that in spite of this illness we saw a lot of really incredible miracles this last week as well. The week started out a little slow as we tried to "rally up our forces" at the start of the new transfer. For some reason transfer weeks always seem to be extra difficult even for companionship's like our own who are not affected directly by actual transferring missionaries. Anyway, we were able to push through it all to have one of the most successful weeks to date in the last 3 months I have been in this area. The majority of the week was filled with some of your more "average" missionary days (long hours, cancelled appointments, awkward contacting with people on the street, and a few lessons here and there.) but then come Sunday everything changed and really for the better! In one day we were able to get three lessons, (two with a member present and one just with ourselves and the investigator) and set FOUR different people with a baptismal date!!

the north shore of Kaua'i 
So first I'll tell you about J. J was born and raised on Ni'ihau (along with half of our area) but he especially being a little older doesn't just have a thick pidgin accent like so many of the younger generation that came from Ni'ihau. He hardly speaks English at all! I mean he does, but it is spoken and understood slowly and with a bit of difficulty. That being said, no language barrier has ever been known to stop the work of the Lord from progressing. So we taught him the first lesson, about the Restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, etc. and then left him with a copy of the Book of Mormon in Hawaiian. To be honest we didn't expect much since he is actually an "assistant pastor" at the Hawaiian Christian church over in Waimea, BUT after reading from and praying about the Book of Mormon, he felt strongly that it was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet!! Anyway, we have been back to see him a few times since then and this last Sunday just invited him to be baptized by someone holding the proper Priesthood authority and he said YES!! We’re still a little hesitant for sure since he is some heavily involved in his other church. But we have high hopes that one day (even if it is not on the date we set or even with the two of us) he will come to truly understand just how significant that answer is that he got about the Book of Mormon and it's divinity.

But onto the other three investigators we taught and committed this last week. It all started when our Elder Quorum president came up to us a couple of weeks ago after a Ward Council meeting and said "hey, I'm expecting a family to show up that I invited to church this week. They come from a pretty tough background and so don't overwhelm them but if you see them just say hi and welcome and so forth". So we did. They were very nice and cordial and seemed to enjoy themselves as they stayed actually for all three hours of church! We didn't see them or the member that brought them however at church the next week and so we were a little saddened but stuff like that happens all the time so it was to be expected I suppose. However, what we thought was a lack of desire to come to church that week actually ended up to be the EXACT opposite.

a cool little cave (that only goes about 40 feet in the mountain face)
As it turns out, the member that had invited them in the first place also ended up taking them with him and his family on a trip out to Utah to visit some family and sites and so forth. This trip of course was highlighted with a visit to Temple Square in Salt Lake. They enjoyed themselves very much as they viewed the different facilities over there but then almost out of nowhere, the non-member family’s 5 year old daughter tugged on her father’s arm and pointing towards the Salt Lake Temple said "Daddy, you have to take me in there!" Of course a little taken a back and unsure of what to say the father tried to explain that they couldn't go inside the temple because of what kind of building it really was but, the little girl insistent on the matter looked again at her father and said "Daddy, I want to go in the Temple." Now unsure of what to say or how to respond the father looked up at his member friend who simple enough said "you better listen to your daughter". And thus began their journey. Later that day they were walking again past the temple doors and this time the member who had brought them felt the strongest prompting from the spirit to "take them inside the foyer". A little caught off guard he shrugged it off reasoning that he was in his street cloths and surely not appropriate to enter the temple. But the Spirit, being as persistent as it is urged him again to "take them inside the foyer". So not ignoring the same prompting twice, he looked at them and asked if they would like to go into the temple foyer. He explained that they could not go through the whole thing but they could at least stand inside the lobby. They accepted and after explaining briefly to the temple workers at the front desk the family came inside just the front lobby and IMMEDIATELY were just overwhelmed by the spirit! Anyway, to make an already long story short, they left that trip knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that that was where they needed to be, with their family.

Jumping ahead a little bit they returned from their trip and we received the exciting report of the incredible experiences they had had from our member. However, he assured us that they wouldn't be coming to church this week because the father had just had surgery to remove gall stones only 2 days before. Then, not five minute after explaining that "they would not be there", the family walked in, ten minutes early for sacrament meeting that day! The husband was clearly in a lot of pain and clutching his abdomen but they stayed for all of sacrament meeting and their 5 year old daughter was even given an impromptu part and was able to participate in the Primary Program that was put on that day!

So yeah, those are just a few of the really incredible miracles that have been surrounding this family. The most recent miracle being the lessons we had with them this last Sunday during the second and third block of church where we invited and they accepted a baptismal date for the 12th of December.  The mother, the father and their son and then their 5 year old daughter. So yeah the oldest three have all individually accepted that date and we are VERY excited to work towards it with them!

A pretty decent north shore Kaua'i surfer. (don't worry these pictures were taken VERY zoomed and cropped in from a safe distance away from the actual beach. :P haha)
ANYWAY, that is probably all MUCH more information than you ever wanted or needed, but the whole experience was just too exciting not to share it. Honestly there are even MORE stories that I wanted to share that I guess I'll just have to save for another week. Anyway, Thank you again for all that you do and for all of your support on our behalf, the Luke's here in Kekaha very much appreciate it! :) I hope you all know that I love you and will continue to pray for you that your health holds up at least a little better than mine has this past weekend, but even if it doesn't, don't let that stop you from seeing the miracles of the Lord's hand in this work! Truly those miracles are everywhere if we just look for them. Mahalo nui loa and ALOOOHHHAAAAA!!!!!

-Elder Powell
AWESOME artwork at "bubba's burgers" in Hanale'i! :) haha

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2%, 85%, Everyone and their cousins

Aloha 'auinala ohana!!
How are you doing this fine November day? :) I hope this past week has treated you all well! Our week was actually rather eventful I must say! We started out with some average days of missionary work. Where about 2% of all the doors you knock on and people you talk to are actually home and/or want to talk with you. But that is how it goes sometimes, and I'll tell you what, those 2% of lessons that we actually did have were GREAT lessons! :) Wednesday though picked up as we took our car in for the second week in a row for more repairs. So that is never fun, but thankfully we don't have to worry quite as much about financial issues when it comes to those matters on the mission. I am very gratefully to be a servant for a church with so many faithful and honestly and charitable members who make this work possible! Thank you for everyone who donates to our cause, we wouldn't be here without you! Or at least in this case we wouldn't have new tires and a fixed alignment which I am VERY gratefully for because driving on our spare for almost a full week was not the most relaxing feeling, although it did keep us on our toes. haha! :)

We also had a great Book of Mormon class this week although we just got into the part of Mosiah where the story starts to jump all around in time and location and with a ton of new people so we've been having a hard time trying to explain it all to a whole group of people, most of who are going through the Book of Mormon for the first time. Any suggestions on how to teach that part of it simply? We're just trying to focus on the doctrines I guess and just kinda let the story fill in over time.

Anyway, the REAL craziness actually started this last weekend! On Friday we celebrated Paul's birthday in proxy by actually celebrating the birthday of one of our investigators nephews. It was kind of a funny situation because we haven't actually seen our investigator there for a couple of weeks (he kind of went MIA on us) but his family was all just like "He’s is not here, but hey, when you guys are all finished with your rounds for the day come on back and eat with us! We're are having a party for one of our nephews!" (that is actually the translated version of what they told us. The actual was in VERY thick pidgin.. :) haha) So yeah we went to that! It's crazy how tiny and close knit this area really is. I mean the town is so small we seriously pulled up to this party with about 85% non-members and the second they see us they're all just like "Elders! Come! Eat!" I love that about this area! :) Over here it's seriously like EVERYONE and their cousins all know us! It's great! :)

So Saturday we started out our day with this HUGE service project that we are not even half way done with! One of our investigators spent most of the last few years as an almost "recluse". As such the house and especially the yard have been in just TOTAL disrepair. And so finally after much urging him to let us help (people here don't really like to ask for or accept help, they are just to humble and polite!) he got on his riding lawn mower, plowed down the three foot high grass that had sprouted up and then we went over and have been raking it up as well as chopping down palm fronds and full sized trees with nothing but some Machetes and a small saw. So a few hours and a large sunburn later, we cleaned up and went out to Kapa'a for a sort of missionary gathering/Halloween party. It was fun. We just played some games and talked story and had a little "talent show" which was dominated by the senior couple's performance of "Take me home, country roads" by John Denver on the Ukulele. Fun was had by all! :) 

So lastly, this week we got the GREAT news that I WILL be staying for at least one more transfer here in Kekaha with Elder Luke!!! I am super exciting because we have a ton of things in store for the coming six weeks including this one miracle family that I will have to tell you a lot more about next week!! :)  We have also started to really gain the trust of and build relationships with the ward and community so again we're hoping to see a lot of success that comes from that! :) But again, that is all in the future and I'm sure will be covered in depth in future e-mails. But for now, thank you again for all of our hard work and for your love, support and prayers on our behalf! You are loved and appreciated by so many and I promise that those prayers are reciprocated by so many out here as well, including myself! :) Have a fantastic week! I love you all so much!!! Mahalo nui loa and don't forget to be awesome!!! :)

-Elder Powell

p.s. My scripture of the week is Mosiah 5:11. What is yours? :) How is your "ponderizing" going?