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 fiancée, 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!!