Mission Address

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Luke A. Powell
Hawaii Honolulu Mission
1500 South Beretania St. Suite #416
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Out of time, Thank you, A Special Devotion

Aloha ohana!!

It is strange to think that before this week is over I will be able to say what I have been saying over e-mail for the last two years, but this time actually in person, face to face. Funny how time seems to slip away on us like that. It truly is one of the strangest aspects of life. It is steady and sure, never changing... and yet it can pass by in a moment or drag out for an eternity. It is very real and yet very insignificant at the same time. It is always in your face, and yet invisible at the same time. It is consistent in its incessant ticking away at our hours and minutes here on earth and yet it seems to have no power over us. Still despite all the contradictions surrounding time, it keeps on moving forward and soon enough, it is gone.

With that backdrop to my e-mail, one that is hard to write, I find myself (ironically enough) out of time, in every way. I feel a bit like the prophets in the Book of Omni who have much they would like to say but simply did not have the room (or in this case the time) to say it. There are countless testimonies I would like to bear, stories I would like to share and I'm sure a lot of aimless ramblings about this or that, but seeing that this situation will not allow for any such banter, I simply want to conclude my e-mail and my record here as a full-time missionary in Hawaii by saying, Thank you!

Thank you to all of you who for two years now have prayed for me, have supported me, have sent me letters and e-mails of encouragement, testimony, trials and trust. Thank you for the sum total of hours upon hours which you spent doing all of these things and more for not just me and my companion, but for the people who we worked with and for all the missionary work in the world by and large! Thank you for your love and devotion to the gospel and your righteous example of Shiblon like steadiness in living it. Thank you for simply living up to the high calling and high potential for which you were born and for being an instruments in the Lord's hand unto the salvation of MANY souls, I am one of those who has been touched by that very work and vicariously there have been many many more. So again, thank you!

Above all else however I would like to pay a special devotion to my Father in Heaven for His justice, love and mercy, as well as to my Savior Jesus Christ, who I now have come to know and love perhaps more than any other person on this earth, and who I now know, knows me better than does anyone else on this earth as well. I love them and praise and worship them for their greatness and their goodness and the support which they have given me over these past two years. Truly, this task, even the work of Salvation, but more specifically my own personal mission here in Hawaii, would have been absolutely IMPOSSIBLE were it not for the grace and love and tender mercies, which have flown freely from the windows of Heaven. I have changed perhaps more than I feel any missionary ever could change and while there can and are and will be missionaries who are much MUCH better than I was, there will perhaps never be one, who loves their mission and especially these beautiful islands, as much as I do. I am going to miss it here more than words can describe, however I feel confident and ready to face this next phase of my life and know that I will be all the stronger for it.

Thank you again for all that you have done and all that you continue to do! You are astounding! I love you all and look forward to see and talking with you in much more depth and personally very soon. Mahalo nui loa and aloha au ia oe!!! A hui hou aku.

Aloha 'oe,

-Elder Powell

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Theory of Relativity, Serving an Auntie, Still Something Else Good to Come

Aloha ohana!!

In Eisenstein's well quoted (but generally misunderstood) theory of relativity, he postulated among many other things that the faster an object travels, the slower its surroundings appear to move. So it has been over the course of this past week. As I seem to fall head first into the final days of my mission, accelerating faster and faster towards the 22nd, everything surrounding me has appeared to slow down drastically and even stopped all together at times.

Of course that is both a good thing and a bad thing. As days and lessons and even just conversations drag out, it gives you the opportunity to savor them and enjoy them for what they are and forget for a moment that they need to eventually come to an end. Things slowing down also gives you more time to reflect and make adjustments in your life as needed before having to face other challenges that may arise. However, as things around you slow down it also brings negative side effects with it. One of those being, that it drags out the pain/stress/sorrow brought in difficult situations. Saying goodbye to people over this past week has been harder than anticipated and has left me wishing time would speed back up so I could get through all the hard 'goodbyes' and eventually get to the much anticipated 'welcomes' which I know lie ahead. It also makes the realization of future goals and events feel almost infinitely farther away. But anyway, all of this poetic phish-posh out of the way, this really has been a rather interesting week, so I guess I'll jump into my regular report before I waist all of my time editing my ridiculous rhetoric!

Monday was full of excitement as we spent the majority of the day first playing basketball with other missionaries and then with our YM! It's always fun to pretend like I know what I'm doing and then watch people's faces change as they slowly figure out I really have no clue how to play good basketball! :P haha!

Tuesday was spent mostly in doing service for this Auntie who has been investigating the church for quite a while. She's the one who I mentioned before that is obsessed with musical theater and is CONSTANTLY trying to get me to sing different numbers from all sorts of Broadway shows since I mentioned I was a musical geek as well! :) haha! Anyway, we actually ended up doing service for her twice this week and it took up a lot of our time, but it was worth it because we invited her to come to church after our last service project with her and she actually came!!! This was the first church service she had EVER attended at our church, despite having TONS of member friends/neighbors her entire life, so yeah that was super cool! :) If I'm being completely honest though, she kind of came for more than just church itself. So our bishop asked me last minute to do the same musical number I did for the youth a few weeks ago for the whole ward this past Sunday in sacrament meeting. So since the auntie is CONSTANTLY asking me to sing for her anyway I thought I would invite her to church to hear me sing there and SHE CAME! :) haha! Hey, whatever it takes! Hopefully she will come again this next week because I think I might be talking in church since it's my last week here. haha.

Anyway, Wednesday was fun, we went on exchanges with our zone leaders. It was extra cool because they live in the place where I use to live when I was serving in the 4th ward so it was kind of like being home! :) Anyway, they actually cover the 2nd ward though so I didn't really recognize any of the people we went and saw. But I did meet plenty of people who knew Elder Stanger (who I believe is still serving in the Lakeshore ward back home right?) anyway, that was cool! :)

Sunday however, was definitely the most eventful day as we had a few of our investigators show up to sacrament!! We also had one of our returning less-actives come to church again for the third week in a row which is extra exciting! He seems to be doing great and we're hoping to start helping him work towards getting his Melchizedek Priesthood as soon as possible! :)

Well, anyway, I gotta get going pretty soon. But I love you all again SO much and I'm grateful for all that you do! I'm excited to hear all of your adventures you had in Ireland Joe! I also look forward to seeing and playing with all of the nieces and nephews and of course just being able to see all of your bright eyed faces again soon enough. But until that time comes, remember to just make the most out of whatever life brings you this coming week! If whatever you can make out of it appears to be less than what it was before, be grateful for that, and be happy that there is always still something else good to come! :) I love you guys and will keep on praying for you every day and night! Mahalo nui loa and ALOOHHAAAA!!! :)

A hui hou aku!
-Elder Powell

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On their A-game, RED white and blue, My final exam


Thank you SO much for your e-mail this week! Even if it may have seemed uneventful and slow! But if there is one lesson I have learned out here, it is that often God will allow us to pass through suffering and trials or even just "slow weeks" right before he pours out upon us blessings without measure! And then when those blessings and high times in our lives finally do come (as they always will!) They will be that much greater because of the contrast with the suffering we had to pass through to get there! SO yeah, if these next few weeks seem long and hard, just remember that God must have something REALLY incredible and exciting in store to follow!! :) Anyway, I can definitely sympathize with you about having slow weeks. This past week has kind of been that way for some reason or another... which looking back at it now is kind of  funny because this week has also been FULL of exciting events that kept us on our toes, but still it was a really long week! I guess I will explain what I mean.

So the week started out well enough. P-day, district meeting, and so forth. Nothing to really report on. We had a lot of empty spaces in our day that we tried to fill but found in those hours only empty doors or empty faces as we talked to people on the streets. But still we kept working and Wednesday we actually found some exciting success! So a couple of weeks ago we had our "finding fasting Friday" where we tracted all day long in different areas, and there was one lady that the Sister's had tracted into named C, who, coincidentally lives two doors down from our active member who is also named C! haha! (The conversation we've had with the two proved to be very confusing!) Anyway, so we followed up with her this past week on Wednesday and as we were talking with C (the investigator), C (the member) pulled up in her car and got out, saw us talking and walked over to join us! It was exciting! :) haha! Anyway, so long story short, while we didn't really have anything come from it right away, we did have a nice conversation about the gospel, got a return appointment, AND invited her to the Ward Independence Day Picnic on Saturday and SHE CAME!! :) Anyway, so yeah that was just extra exciting because we've been trying REALLY hard recently to find new people to teach and so far this is the first real success or lead we've had in well over a month on anyone new to teach!

She is definitely not however, the only new person we met over this past week! So the ward has REALLY stepped up their game this past week, which is saying something because this ward has ALWAYS been on their A-game when it comes to missionary work! But this last week we had two back to back activities which brought out two different crowds but both proved to be VERY successful and led us to talk to lots of new people! Which of course is always exciting as a missionary to do! :)

So first, we had on Friday our first "ward movie night!" (Of which we are planning to do MANY more in the future). Basically we just all got together and had popcorn and hot dogs and watched a movie. We couldn't actually stay for the whole movie (upon request from our new mission president) which was a little disappointing seeing as it was our idea in the first place to do a movie night and the ward council were the ones who later decided on the movie, but we did catch the first part as well as the tail end of it and more importantly, we were able to talk to and fellowship with TONS of our members (both active and less-active) as well as meet a few neighbors and cousins that different members brought with them for the movie! :) It was awesome!

So then the next day we had our annual Ward Independence Day Picnic out at Kualoa beach park which was a BLAST!!! We got there early to help with set up and ended up helping set up not only ours but another group's picnic they were having at the same park. So you know how Mormons are pretty use to setting up and taking down stuff and it all goes pretty fast and systematically (like when the men take down chairs after a session of Stake Conference and within ten minutes we have over a thousand chairs put away on racks, the floor swept and garbage bags emptied... yeah.) well this other group didn't seem to have that same experience or the same number of people to help set up that we would normally have and what made it MORE exciting was the ez-corner tent they were setting up was TWICE as big as a regular one AND that whole day proved to be one of the windiest days we've had in a long time and therefore the 20x60 foot tent they were trying to set up turning more into a 20x60 foot kite, literally lifting a few of the younger/smaller participants off the ground a few inches as they tried to hold it down! haha! It was kind of fun actually! :) Anyway, so yeah, long story short, we were able to all run over to the rescue and help them set up, and secure down their tent and in the process of course my companion and I were able to talk to quite a few of them about who we were and what we were doing and everything which is always a plus! ;) haha!

Anyway, so from set-up to break-down we were at the ward picnic from pretty much 6:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon, the majority of which was spent out in the sun, playing volleyball or climbing trees and having light saber battles with some of the primary kids or, of course, eating a VERY large amount of food! haha! Now before you all start accusing me of being "on vacation" out here I want to remind you all that we still cannot and were not able to set a single foot in the water or even on the sand for that matter! AND our primary purpose for being there (which really took the majority of our time) was to talk to and meet new people and hopefully set up lessons or find service opportunities, which we did!! As mentioned before our new investigator C, came with her neighbor C, and they seemed to enjoy it a lot and she was able to meet and talk with MANY other members of the ward!

We also had one of our more recent converts here in the ward that we visit with regularly, F, bring one of his good fishing friends who happily volunteered to do almost all of the grilling for the whole barbecue!! Our bishop personally thanked him and asked to visit with him after church the following Sunday, so we are excited about that and sure more opportunities will arise with him in the future! :) We also had another member bring one of their co-workers and while we were talking and answering some of his questions our member offered to set up a time when we could all meet together in a more formal setting at his house and answer more questions and share a bit more about what we believe, so that was exciting too and we're looking forward to hear more from the member on that soon! :) Anyway, so needless to say a lot of fun was had, but more importantly a LOT of missionary work was done between those two days and two different activities.

I might also add as a passing note that the Barbecue on Friday helped me tremendously with showing my patriotism this weekend! I was looking this morning for anything Red, White, and Blue to wear as well as on Sunday, but could only find Blue and White shorts/shirts. Thankfully however, having spent just shy of 10 consecutive hours out in the sun on Saturday, my face, neck, arms, and even legs are SO red that it more than compensates for the lack of that color in the rest of my wardrobe! :) haha!

Well anywhere, there was definitely more of note that happened this week but I've probably gone on long enough and I don't want to use up what little energy to you may have left with trying to decipher my discordant stream of consciousness so I'll wrap this letter up. Thank you SO much for your continued letters and support through these final weeks of my mission! I think I mentioned this before, but I feel like the Lord is putting me through my "final exam" before returning home and testing me in every way shape and form to see if I will be true and faithful to the lessons I have learned over the last two years and so all of the prayers and good thoughts and love that you send my way is very needed and very appreciated and I am trying my best to put that combined faith and love which you have given me to good use and I serve the Lord out here in Hawaii. I hope that you all know, as always, that those prayers and that faith and love is returned from me right back to you and that I will continue to pray for all of you that heaven will shower out blessings upon you even after I return home! I love you and look forward to hearing from all of you again next week! Thank you for everything! Mahalo nui loa and ALOOHHHAAAA!!!

A hui hou aku,
-Elder Powell

p.s. I almost forgot to mention!!! So another HUGE highlight from this past week was getting to meet and visit briefly with our NEW Mission President! His name is President Bekker and he is from Salt Lake City, Utah! (Surprise surprise... haha!) Really though, he is SUPER cool and super excited to be here and I am sure that he and his wife will do AMAZING things for these wonderful islands that I love! The spirit has absolutely confirmed to me that he is the rightful successor to the Hawaii Honolulu Mission President calling and I am excited to get to know him and work with him more, even if it's just for a few weeks! :) haha! Still, nothing feels like it's really changed yet, because... well it hasn't really haha! So since he just barely got here he said that until he has more time to look over some of the rules and structures and everything (such as the list of approved music, and proselyting schedules/emphasis and so forth) that everything from President Warner still applies. I can't really imagine things changing much anyway seeing as President Bekker and Warner practically the same person, or at least have lived very similar lives. They both were born and raised and lived in SLC their whole lives, they both served missions in Japan, both married music majors, both worked in the medical industry, both served at stake presidents in SLC (at the same time in fact) and they even have the same number of kids I believe! haha! So anyway, things are really looking up for us here in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission and I hope to see the work continue to grow in miraculous ways! :)

p.p.s. Mom, when you mentioned how frustrating it is and can be to not be able to do all the things you want to be able to do, a quote popped into my head from Elder Robert D. Hales that I thought I would share with you. He counselled Elder David A. Bednar on one occasion saying, "When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most." I thought it was a very cool statement and one I think we could all apply, even though we might not all be limited by our age or ability, we are definitely all limited in what we can do by our time and heaven knows that time only seems to speed up on us so there's no sense in wasting any of it! :)

 p.p.p.s. I totally forgot to take a picture of the ward picnic which I sad about... but I DID get something kind of exciting in the mail... well... sort of exciting. :P haha! It's called a "trunky packet" and basically it's just a bunch of stuff all about going home! So yeah... that was weird. It has all my flight info and itinerary and stuff. Also we got to do some "wood turning" with one of our members this past week which as super cool!! :) It honestly looks like a hobby I would LOVE to get into someday.... but like most hobbies I do not have the money to do right now. haha! That's ok though! It was fun to try even just a little bit and reminded me a lot of Grandpa Powell and all the awesome stuff he made out of wood with his talented hands! :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Time marches, "Accidentally" knocked on the "wrong" door

Aloha ohana!!

Thank you so much for that awesome update on everything going on back home! As more and more people ask me about my life plans after the mission (I don't know why everyone seems to be so interested in that side of my life all of a sudden, I still have plenty of time left on my mission) I have thought about and entertained in my mind all sorts of different career options. And while there are many different options that may be more profitable and realistic in the future, I must say that Bob Ross alone has kept the door open in my mind of pursuing an art degree and being an early morning painter on PBS! :) haha! So anyway, on a more serious note, I really am glad to hear that things are going so well for all of you back home in Arizona and surrounding areas (I suppose Ireland and the east coast will just have to count as "surrounding area's" to Arizona this week. haha!).

That is also SUPER exciting to hear about Ben and Adam and Drew!! Way to go guys on keeping the train on missionaries in the Powell/Groberg family alive a going!! With so many grand kid's missions overlapping plus all of the extended family it makes me honestly wonder if there has ever been, even for just a few weeks, a gap or break where we did NOT have any full-time missionaries out serving the Lord from our extended family! Truly it is such a blessing to be a part of such an incredible group of people and it brings me extra joy to think that if I am faithful I can be with this same group of people for eternity!!! :)

Anyway, so real quick update of things over here in Hawaii for this past week!
Man, the weeks are going by fast! It's funny because every week at the start I feel like "man, there's still so much time in the week and so much we are going to be able to get accomplished!" and then before I know it, and with still countless things on our "to-do list" as well as scores of people we didn't get a chance to see, we are at the start of yet another week! Truly, like you said yourself dad, "time marches". But that didn't stop us from at least trying to keep pace with it this past week!

We did have a lot of exciting things happen with our work this past week! So Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Kahalu'u missionaries and I worked in our area with Elder Rantayo (this awesome elder in our district from the Philippines!) :) We had some pretty interesting encounters while tracting (as always) but most exciting was we accidentally met this SUPER awesome family later in the day! So after dinner, we were on our way to go try a potential investigator when I had another name sort of just pop into my head of a less-active/part-member family in the area and so we turned our bikes around and went to go knock on their door... but it was late, and we were in a sort of town house complex so literally EVERYTHING looks exactly the same because... well they are all built the same.

So I go to knock on what I THINK was the door of this family we were looking for, only to find out we were at the wrong complex! But instead of just doing what most people do when we have the wrong house, and saying "oh, no sorry, wrong house. goodbye!" this family was SUPER nice and asked what the name was again and then, asked if we wanted to eat something or needed something to drink or anything, and of course we said yes... because we're missionaries :P haha! AND THEY INVITED US INSIDE!!! Nobody just invites us inside unless they're already members or they want to try and "Bible-bash" with us!!! We were so excited! They then proceeded to give us some food, water, popsicles, and even some snacks for the road! But what was more incredible, is he called their resident manager and asked him for us about where the other family we were trying to contact lived so we could go see them! I was floored by their kindness and their sincerity and generosity, and then after a little more casual conversation I found out why!

So one of the families in our ward that we have dinner with a lot, kept on telling us about these awesome neighbors that live next door to them and how they are so kind, but even more than that, how they are actually kind of looking for a church right now to raise their family up in and to settle this sort of nagging feeling they have in them as they search for more in their lives. They kept telling us however, not to go knock yet because they wanted to set something up with them first but didn't want to jump the gun... so we waited and waited and waited but we never got to meet these "amazing neighbors that our members had talked so much about! (at this point in the story I should probably mention that while we have eaten dinner with this member family multiple times, we have always eaten with them at their grandma's house so we never knew where they actually lived) And that brings me back to Wednesday night, while talking to this new family who had invited us in and fed us and talked with us, they finally brought up, "actually our next door neighbors are Latter-day Saints!" and I said "oh really, who's that?" (Because I didn't know anyone who lived in the area) and they said and then it all pieced together!!! THIS was the amazing neighbors that our members had talked about so many times at dinner and told us not to go see yet!! We honored their request.... but then accidentally knocked on their door anyway! haha!

 So yeah, long story short, we sparked enough interest and things are now lined up well enough to where, hopefully VERY soon, we will be able to start teaching them the discussions and hopefully be able to finally help them fill that desire they have deep down to follow the Savior and his teachings!! Truly nothing is an accident to the Lord and He definitely has his ways of sort of micro-managing our lives! :) haha!

So other exciting news from this week. We spent literally ALL DAY Friday tracting!! That was kind of exciting! So as a mission we just had our second ever "fasting finding Friday" where, mission wide, we all fast together to find new-investigators, and then go out tracting from 10am-6pm!! It was pretty cool! Honestly, nothing too crazy or exciting or overwhelming, but it was fun and we did find a few people through it who might be at least slightly interested! So that's good! :) Sunday was also great as always and we had a great evening joining in with the youth in our ward for an SED (Sunday evening discussion) which is basically the parallel of BYD (Bishop Youth Discussion) when I was going through the youth program. We had a recently returned missionary in our ward sort of report on his mission to the youth and answer any questions they may have and so Bishop wanted us there too since the whole evening was sort of missionary themed.

Anyway, yeah, so, that was my week in a nutshell... or more like a seashell I guess since we're in Hawaii. But I've gotta get going now, so I'll wrap up. I just want to let you all know how much I love you all and that I am and always will be praying for you! Thank you for all your love and support as well as your encouragement and help with the transitions I know are fast approaching in my own life! You have all played an absolutely indispensable part in the success of my mission and really in my whole life! Thank you for that! :) Sorry, I know I've said "thank you" like four times already in this one paragraph (five now I suppose) but I really do mean it and I really do love you all!!! I wish you the best of luck with everything you have waiting for you in the coming week, whether it be work, scorpion hunting, painting, or international-political-lobbying! Have a great week! Mahalo nui loa and ALOHA AU IA OE!!! :)

A hui hou aku!
-Elder Powell
p.s. It's Lychee Season again!! Yeah!!! :D :D

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Simply a truism, Some exciting progress, We were an answer to prayers

Aloha ohana!!

Wow! It sounds like you have all had a wonderful week full of spiritually uplifting messages and some good fun in there as well! :) We're trying our best to match your awesomeness out here in the mission field but that's becoming harder to do as you guys always seem to have something new to report on that just brightens my day and leaves me smiling because of your innate goodness! Thank you for your wonderful examples of faith and righteousness!! :)

Anyway, so jumping right into my update for the week out here in Hawaii!!
This week was full of some of the most exciting and the most stressful days of my whole mission! Things have, for whatever reason been extra tense out here. Although I suppose it is simply a truism that anytime you move forward with renewed faith and zeal that the adversary increases his efforts as well to try and stop the good you want to accomplish. So it has been, that ever since that especially spiritual zone conference and meeting with Elder Renlund that the trials and challenges facing us out here have only seemed to get that much more difficult. But who cares! Trials will ALWAYS come when you're trying to do good but that's NO reason to stop doing good! In fact that's exactly when you need to try a little harder and push yourself a little farther! So it has been with this week! But anyway, enough of my general statements, so a few specific events from this last week.

We had some exciting progress with the area! First, the less-active member I kind of mentioned to you last week that said "yeah, I'll come back to church next week!" Well guess what? He actually did!!! And he stayed for all three hours!! It's so incredible how some people, really all they need is just a simple little invitation! :) We also got to know this new family a little better. They are very young, (in fact the husband is a year younger than me!! ...man, I feel old!) but they have been married for almost six months now and he is in the Marines and they're just kind of struggling with adjusting to real life and everything here in Hawaii and so we went over and talked with him and MAN, they are great! They are such a great example of facing trials and pushing through and even though they're young they have a lot of faith you can just tell! :)

Speaking of military, we also had this really cool experience with a group of other young adults (all of which were also brought over here to Hawaii by different branches of the military and all of which were also within a year or two of myself). They were out on the steps in front of their building, just kind of relaxing and we started talking and ended up finding out that one of them in particular was very religious and had a lot of really good questions. Anyway, long story short (because I am quickly running out of time here) she opened up to up and said literally the night before we showed up she was very troubled by some of the questions she had and some of the problems she was facing in life and cried out to the Lord for help for the first time in quite a while, and then not even 24 hours later, there we were! She felt that we were an answer to her prayers which was AWESOME!! She also felt a great need to go to church that Sunday, which was extra exciting until she informed us she would be going to her regular Baptist church, but hey, it's a start! She said she definitely wouldn't mind checking out our church sometime and agreed to let us come back and talk more with her sometime about some of her questions and concerns! So yeah! Pretty exciting stuff!! :)

We also are really excited because we just met this new part-member family this past week and come to find out, they are VERY closely related to this other family of recent converts in our ward! So we already have an awesome in with them!! Also our main progressing investigator (T) we just found out gave birth about a week ago... so the lessons are kinda being put on hold for now I suppose, but it's ok! I'm confident that she'll continue to make progress whether I am here to witness it or not! :)

Well, I've gotta run, but thank you again for all your hard work and your love and dedication to each other and to the gospel! I love you all and look forward to talking more in the future!! Mahalo nui loa and aloha au ia oe!!

-Elder Powell

Luke - golfing on P-day

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My "dying" testimony, Stand with legions, The perfect opportunity


WOW! This week was just FANTASTIC!! It's funny because it started out super rough but then ended with probably some of the highest and strongest spiritual experiences I have ever had in my life! In fact it was so great that I see absolutely no point for any extra aimless rhetoric, I figure I'm gonna just jump right into this week’s report!!

So, like I mentioned above, the week started out pretty rough…Unfortunately I did not get 100% better overnight like I was hoping to from the stomach flu thingy I had. The major symptoms of not being able to hold anything down passed pretty quickly, but the lingering effects of just nausea and heartburn and lack of energy and all that other fun stuff dragged on for quite a few days and pretty majorly affected our ability to really get out and proselyte. We did our best however and got a few lessons in but the REALLY awesome stuff didn't happen until Friday!

So Friday was our zone conference (this huge meeting with trainings from the Mission President, his wife, the assistants to the President, and the zone leaders for two zones worth of missionaries) and what makes it even crazier is that THIS WAS MY LAST ONE!!!!! We have them about every three months and I've only ever missed one (because my companion was sick and we were therefore quarantined to our house for a week) and this one was finally the LAST ONE OF MY MISSION! Which means a few things.

First it means that you are frantically scribbling down any and all last words of wisdom and council and just pure-awesomeness that you can from your mission president and his wife!! Over the course of these two years I have come to truly love and cherish any opportunity I have to learn from and receive council from President and Sister Warner! They are both FANTASTIC and truly have given their lives to this work and this mission and most of all to loving and supporting all of us!

Second, being my last zone conference that means that I, along with all the other finishing missionaries, got to give my "dying testimony". Basically just my last few words of wisdom and experience to all of my fellow missionaries before leaving the mission. It was super weird! haha! As you might imagine my few "words of wisdom" were exactly that... few! I probably have less wisdom in me than the average African wildebeest (all though if I'm being completely fair, there are some very intelligent African wildebeests out there!) But still I did the best I could to convey to everyone else there my love and appreciation for them and reminded them over and over that when they stand for what's right they are never truly standing alone, because there are legions before and there will be legions after who would stand up with them and whether they are seen or unseen, they are there standing up with you and willing to fight the fight as well, not the least of which of course, is the Savior himself!

Anyway, it was also kind of odd because I gave this sort of autobiographical eulogy of my mission and it all seems to wrap up nicely at the end of the day.... but then I still have like five weeks left!! I mean June just barely started! We're not even close to July yet and I don't finish until the end of July anyway! So I don't know what everyone else is talking about but I still have forever and a day out here!! haha! Finally to finish off the meetings all of the "dying missionaries" came up to the front and they sang Aloha 'Oe to us all and it was extra touching because I got to stand shoulder to shoulder with President and Sister Warner who will also be concluding their mission after three years of service out here in Hawaii at the end of this month.

So anyway, that was Friday, but then SATURDAY was even MORE SPIRITUALLY AWESOME because we got to go and receive a personal training for all of the full-time missionaries from Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles! And WOW!!! It was SO powerful!! He truly is called of God and the spirit and power of testimony that he brought with him was just astounding! I won't bore you with all of the dozens and dozens of spiritual promptings I received during his trainings about how I personally can improve and change and be a better missionary and a better person all around, but I will just say that by the end of the meeting, as he started to wrap up his personally testimony I cannot imagine that there was a dry eye in the entire room, at least I know I speak for myself when I say that his sincerity and the spirit he carried with him and the power of his apostolic keys to bear witness to the whole world of the reality of the Savior were made manifest in that small room that day and I will NEVER forget it!!

I know I will not be perfect, but I sure am determined to keep trying! As I was writing in my journal last night and sort of reflecting on the spiritual experiences of the previous days I remember the spirit putting words in my mind that simply enough said "an optimist is someone who dreams of the impossible and then works until he reaches it!" And that is exactly what we are doing down here in this life. Truly perfection is IMPOSSIBLE!! We could NEVER reach it, it simply cannot be done! However, we keep on working at it and working at it until eventually, someday in the next life, we are finally perfected through the Savior and his atoning sacrifice for all of us!

Anyway, so needless to say, Saturday was fantastic! Likewise Sunday was an awesome day full of incredible opportunities to pretty much put into action all of the new found wisdom and insights gained over the previous two days and MAN it works!!! How often do we go to meetings or watch general conference or something of the sort and go "man... that is SO true and so awesome! I sure am glad I heard all of that stuff!" and then we leave and go back to doing exactly the same thing we were doing before! The day after may be scary because you may feel like you don't want to have to face all of your daily challenges again and you want to remain in this state of sort of spiritual bliss, but it shouldn't be like that! Instead look at tomorrow as the PERFECT opportunity to take everything you learned today and put it to the test! And that's exactly what we did with some new things learned on Friday and Saturday. We simply put it to the test, just in small and simple ways first, and sure enough, Sunday just about QUADRUPLED the productivity of the entire rest of our week!!!! (Although to be completely fair the rest of the week was hard to be productive because of the whole sickness thing :P haha!) So yeah, definitely, if your priesthood leaders or an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, tells you to do something and that it will help you... DO IT! haha! You can trust them! :P

Anyway, so one of the super productive and cool things that happened on Sunday was we finally met these two different less-active families we've been trying to contact forever to no avail! So we hadn't actually planned for either of them, but right when we got to the fork in the road where we had planned to turn right, I got the feeling we should see this other fellow and following the prompting we turned left instead and guess what? HE WAS HOME!!! Turns out his work schedule is crazy (surprise surprise) and so he's not normally home and he wasn't really that interested in talking to us anyway, but he was still very nice and it was VERY nice to be able to finally meet him and find out his story from his own mouth.

So then we started walking back towards the originally planned houses, and again the feeling comes like "hey since you're already heading this direction why don't you take this slight detour and try that other less active member you always try to go see.... so we do! and... you guessed it... he was home!! He actually had moved out and was living with his friend for a couple of weeks which is why we never caught him home before, but he just moved back home and after an actually pretty short conversation about life and how he had gotten invited to go with a lot of his different friends to their churches my companion basically said something along the lines of "well hey are you ready for another invite back to your own church?" and while my companion was being slightly facetious, he looked at us totally seriously for a second with a sort of smile on his face and said, "yeah, I don't see why not!" And after a tiny bit more conversation we arranged for a member to pick him up Sunday morning to come to church! :) So yeah! Miracles galore!!! And that's not even all of them from the day!! But that is about all the time I have to share with you guys... sorry.

This is probably going to end pretty abruptly, but I LOVE YOU ALL SO SO much and will be praying for you as always! I cannot begin to express the excitement I feel when I think about being able to talk with you all again face to face soon enough, but that day will come in its own due time and for now I still have a TON of work to do out here in Kane'ohe and so I must press on!! Mahalo nui loa for your love, your prayers, your faith, and your faithful examples of Christ like love towards me and so many others around you! Aloha au ia oe!!

-Elder Powell

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cool Miracle lessons! Running into an old friend.

Aloha ohana!!

So... in case it isn't obvious... I'm getting this week’s e-mail out a little late. But hey, better late then never I always say! ...Just kidding... I don't always say that... in fact I pretty much only say that when I am late and don't have a good reason to justify my being late.

But anyway, I actually DO have at least a fairly good reason for not e-mailing you guys back yesterday, because yesterday I literally didn't even leave our house! In fact I spent almost the entire day yesterday sleeping because Sunday night I literally didn't even leave the bathroom floor as I came down with a REALLY bad stomach flu. So yeah! That was fun! I'm still really only at about 79% functionality but it was enough to get out and see a few people today and then we came to our ward activity night so we could send just some really quick updates and e-mails out. So yeah! Thankfully it was a super quick sort of bug and worked its way out of my system already, but it sure didn't go down without a fight! Now it's just a lot of slow re-hydrating and re-filling my stomach. Hey! On the bright side all of my pants now fit again really well! I lost at least 10 pounds over two days. :P But don't worry, knowing the member out here they will make sure I put that ALL back on in one night! haha!

So anyway, enough of my sob stories! I'm sure you're all much more interested in what has been going on with the missionary side of things! So I'll jump into that real quick!

So.... right after I said that I realized that I don't remember pretty much anything that happened this past week... haha! Sorry I'm seriously SO burnt out right now. :P Oh! One thing that happened! So this past week was actually transfer week so we had a lot of missionaries moving in and out and changes happening, but Elder Kirkham and I are staying together so that means he will be the missionary that "kills me" in the missionary lingo. :) haha! Other than that, we had a few pretty cool miracle lessons! We had one where we went to go teach this one less-active member and then all of a sudden the member’s nephew pulls up with his girlfriend and they start to walk towards the house and this less-active member is like "hey, you guys like listen to one lesson real quick?" (Sorry that's my poor attempt at re-creating this member's pidgin accent) and they were obviously hesitant, but ended up saying yes and so we just all talked for a while out on their door step. It was really cool!

So basically the nephew had a sort of superficial belief in God but didn't really have any inclination towards religion or even prayer or anything. So we started sharing the story of Alma in Alma 32 about planting the seed of faith and slowly nourishing it just a tiny bit at a time and so forth and it actually went SUPER well! It was cool to kind of see his guards fall down as we talked. I mean at first you could tell he was like "who are these guys and what are they talking about?!" and probably a little resentful of his uncle for making him stop and listen to us... but by the end he was answering questions and you could just tell by the way he answered them that he was seriously thinking about it and thinking about if there really was a God and if God really does hear and answer prayers, (and I promise all of you back home that HE DOES!!) Anyway, so yeah! Super cool lesson!

Anyway, there was definitely more stuff that happened but I can hardly remember anything right now, plus we've gotta get going pretty soon, so I think I will kind of close with this. Sorry, hopefully next week I will be able to send even just a little more in depth and detailed letter. But for now, just know that I love you all SOO much!!! Thank you SO much for all of the good that you continue to do and for being such great examples to your son/brother as well as being such great examples to everyone else around you all the time!! I especially appreciate the encouragement to finish strong as well as all of the help and support you have given me with the transition back into normal life that soon awaits me. BUT that is still far enough away and I will continue to let you know if there is anything else I need help with, but I think for now I will be able to take care of most of the pressing issues myself and of course, leave the rest up to the Lord. Thank you again! Mahalo nui loa! Kommol tata! Faafetai lava! Malo au pito! Gracias! Hankterb Uoyerb! and any other languages you want to throw in there. :) haha! (hopefully at least Joe gets the reference on that last one.) haha! :) 

Aloha nui loa!
-Elder Powell

p.s. Guess who I ran into the other day! Sis. Tani! Your cousin Lori's really good friend from Hawaii who took such good care of me when I was here before! She is still just about the same as she was before which is great! :) haha!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

VERY exciting news, Powerful Priesthood Keys, I have a LOT to learn

Aloha ohana!!

There is VERY exciting news of what happened for us over here in Kane'ohe this week. Actually I should say what happened in La'ie this week! It was awesome!!!! :) I wanted to build more suspense before jumping right into the "big news", but I just can't hold it back, I am so excited about this!!! :) So, approximately one year ago I was serving over on the island of Kaua'i in Kekaha and while I was there we worked a lot with one of the recent converts in the ward. He was making a ton of progress in the ward and in the gospel! He was always at church, actively participated in the gospel principles lesson, took a very vocal part in our Thursday night Book of Mormon study class and even got to the point where they extended him the calling of Ward Mission Leader, the calling he still holds and still magnifies beyond belief! 

Anyway, so yeah, long story short he is a GREAT guy and REALLY solid convert! So, this last week marked his one year anniversary of being an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as such he got the special opportunity to go to the temple and get his endowments and be sealed to his wife and we got to go with him! It was super exciting! It was me and my companion, Elder Luke (my companion from when I was on Kaua'i) and his current companion, Elder Gale (one of the elders who baptized him) and his current companion, and the family. But to top it all off and make it EXTRA exciting, Elder Gerber and his parents flew over to Hawaii for the week to be there for the session and sealing!!! He was also one of the missionaries that was there for Anthony's baptism over a year ago now. So yeah! It was a SUPER cool and a SUPER spiritual experience!!

Anyway, so that was the big news... honestly other than that I can't think of anything else major to report on, probably because everything else seems to pale in comparison to that! But I will try to make the rest of the week sound even half as cool! :) haha! So, while eventually we did have to make our way back to this side of the island, we would not be away from blessed La'ie for very long as we got invited to go with a part-member family to the Visitor’s center on Saturday! It went well and the family said they were really impressed with a lot of what they heard! So yeah! Progress there too! :)

Other kind of small news from this week. Bishop P asked me if I could sing a musical number at church for the youth and so of course I said I would love to, to which he replied "great! We’ll have a combined third hour block THIS SUNDAY!" haha! I was a little taken aback but was able to miraculously pull off a sort of impromptu musical number with two INCREDIBLY talented sisters in our ward who accompanied me on the piano and violin as I sang Rob Gardner's version of "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" it went pretty good and bishop said he'll probably have me sing it again in sacrament meeting sometime... so yeah, that will be fun! :)

 We also had a couple of pretty good visits this past week including one where our bishop, following a prompting from the spirit said "elders do you mind if we stop by this recent convert family before we go home" (he was driving us back home after church) and of course we said ok and so we pull up and he goes in while we kind of hang out outside and talk to some of the kids, and he goes to talk with the father who, following the wife and kids baptisms, kind of just petered out and hadn't come to church for quite a few weeks. Anyway, really long story short, Bishop was incredible and sincere and loving as always and talked with the father and left with a firm commitment from him to start coming to church and working through some other personal problems so that one year from now he can ordain his son to the office of a teacher and hopefully take his family to the temple!! So yeah! SUPER cool to see how in-tune with the spirit he is and how powerful the priesthood keys that he has can be! Bishop is such an awesome man!! :)

Oh! So one more kind of funny story from this past week that shows I still have a LOT to learn out here on the mission and that even missionaries need to be taught things sometimes! So we were going around just kind of greeting people at church and talking story and just sort of waiting for sacrament meeting to start, and so I go up to greet this older gentleman in our ward who always sits right up front in the first row on the far right, every single week! He is always there with his wife and just kind of sits there silently with a sort of smile and happy look on his face. He's about 90+ years old and can't see well at all and so as I go up to greet him and say hi he says "Is this Elder Kirkham or Elder Powell" I told him "This is Elder Powell." to which he said "oh, well how are you doing today Elder Powell." and I replied that I was doing well and asked how we was and he said in effect the same answer and then, without really thinking about what I was saying I responded "well thank you for coming today Brother Andrus."

All of a sudden his face changed a bit, he got serious and looking towards my general direction with his foggy eyes said with a bit of humor, "Well, thank you, but I sure didn't come here for you. I came here to worship my God and partake of the holy Sacrament. Still I suppose you can treat me like an investigator if you would like too." and by this point he was sort of chuckling. It's a good thing his eyes weren't too good because he would have probably started laughing out loud if he saw my face. I felt... well... I felt silly that's for sure! Haha! I mean, here I am greeting people as if it is some sort of social club and in one sentence he flips me straight, reminds me of the purpose of Sabbath-day services and sends me on my way! :P haha! Never underestimate the wisdom of those older than you! And DEFINITELY never underestimate their wit either! haha!

Anyway, I hope that you all had a great Sabbath-day yesterday and that you are having a wonderful memorial day today as well. I hope we can all find ways to make the Sabbath more meaningful for each of us and that we will also all find ways to go to the temple more frequently in the coming weeks and months! I know I'm super excited to go to the new Phoenix temple someday as well as plenty of others all over the world! What a blessing it is to live in a day and age where they are so accessible!! :) Anyway, I hope you all have a great week! Be sure to send all of my love and aloha to everyone back home as well as the rest of the family in general! Mahalo nui for all the gifts and wishes again on my behalf for my 21st birthday! It was a good one for sure! :) Mahalo and ALOOHHHAAA!!!

-Elder Powell