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

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?