Mission Address

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Purest form of aloha, It will be OK, Sometime we'll understand


My beloved family. Today I greet you with the warmest and purest form of aloha I can find in myself. I know it is a word that in today's society is often associated with tourism, and fun... but for me today it means exactly what it was meant to mean from the start... love. Especially the love of God (Aloha ke Akua). I know I am not a "local" here or "pure Hawaiian" but still I feel a very deep connection with this place and so I say to you all as sincerely and fervently as I can, how much I love you, and while there is no combination of words that could truly express that feeling of love I have for you all, perhaps the closest one I can find at this time is simple, Aloha.

I hope and pray that you can all feel how much I love you and how grateful I am for all of your service and sacrifices on our behalf. As missionaries we sometimes can take for granted just how incredible blessed we truly are to be here. With all of the prayers for protections as well as the food and shelter and other blessings that come to us on a daily basis we truly are kept "in the hallow of [His] hand". While events have been less than ideal this past week I nevertheless want to start by assuring each of you that I will be ok. To be honest I have struggled a lot this week especially with the news regarding sweet Benjamin's passing and the knowledge that I will never get to see him face to face in this mortal life. But He has assured me COUNTLESS times, that "it will be ok." True the Spirit often speaks in a still and small voice, but regardless he is not ashamed to repeat something over and over and over again until it truly sinks deep into your heart. And that one phrase has done exactly that. It took quite a bit of time and much more heart ache than I would ever care to go through again, but I know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what the outcome of future events in life may be, that "it will be ok." and I trust Him when he says that.

Now then, I apologize upfront if anything I say sounds insensitive in any way, shape, or form. It is not meant to be. I have wept and cried as much as anyone this past week. When President pulled me aside at our Zone Conference I assumed it had something to do with the upcoming transfers or my companion or something else, but the few soft-spoken words that followed was definitely not was I was prepared to hear and it was everything I could do to stop from breaking down in front of the other 40 missionaries there that day, (although a few small but very special tears were shed as we sang 'aloha oe' to the departing missionaries and I thought of little Benji and his unexpected departure into the eternal realm.) That being said what I wish to share with you today is meant to be comforting and I hope that the Spirit can speak peace to your heart as it has mine.

I was studying my scriptures the other day after receiving the news and came across a small and subtle lesson in one of the verses but one that at the time had so great an impact on me as to carry me through all of the pains and sorrows I was feeling that day. I just started reading in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon and when I came across Alma chapter 4 Verse 14, which reads: 
"Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death."
As you look into the context of it too... this was a group of people who at the time, were suffering "all manner of afflictions" not even from the Lamanites (their most common antagonists) but from their own people!

Now, as I read this, I will be honest, I was really struggling to feel of the "peace and comfort" that is supposed to come from the Holy Ghost. I prayed over and over again that I would be able to feel of that "succoring" which is promised to us so many times in the scriptures and by prophets and I couldn't seem to find it. I cried and cried and felt no arms wrapping around me. I told myself over and over that I could push through it but then found myself crashing time and time again, not having sufficient strength to "carry on" by myself. I kept on trying and doing what I could to cope with the mounting stress of everything both on the mission and with the news of Benji's passing back home but felt completely overwhelmed and seeming to have nowhere left to turn... when I came across this simple verse. Then, it finally clicked... what I knew all along but seemed to forget in the face of my sorrow. The "peace" and "happiness" and "great joy" that the scriptures so often talk about come not from an immediate deliverance but rather from a SURE knowledge that someday, sometime, we WILL be conquerors of death, of sin, of trials, of accusations, and everything else that weighs us down in this life. For "in all these things we are MORE than conquerors through him that loved us." (Romans 8:37)

I know now more than ever that the "perfect brightness of hope" that the scriptures talk about is exactly that, hope for a future day. I have often listened to and taken consolation from a song by Rob Gardner on Mom's cd: The Lamb of God, entitled "Sometime We'll Understand" and I know that while today and perhaps for many years yet to come we will all grieve over the loss of our precious little Benjamin, that surely sometime we WILL understand, why God, in His great glory, would call back His little son so soon. But regardless of when that day comes, as it surely will come, I pray that we might all be able to feel the peace the Gospel brings and most importantly the peace that Christ's Atonement can bring into our lives. True we may all face many more sleepless nights, many more bitter tears and broken hearts. True we will often have to suffer feelings of abandonment, betrayal, sorrow, and grief. But I pray with every fiber of my being that each of us (myself included) will be able to hold onto hope, that somehow, sometime we will understand the purpose behind all of this. I pray that until that day comes, that we can all feel the peace and comfort that can come right now from trusting in God and His timing.

Even amidst the suffering and sorrow and anguish that is still present in my life at this time I now feel GREAT peace and comfort from on high and I know that God truly does love me, just as He loves each and every one of His Children. I promise, that that same comfort and peace can be felt by every one of his children if we will "come unto Him" and "cast our burdens upon Him". I promise that if we will follow Him that He will guide us safely home. I promise that we can do all things through Him, who gives us strength. I promise that there is a balm in Gilead and that His bowels are filled with mercy and that He is full of grace and truth. I know this to be true. I pray that we can all feel that special peace and comfort that comes from believing and trusting in good things to come and do so in his sacred name, Jesus Christ, amen.

I hope that each and every one of you knows how much I love you and how much I miss you. While this has been a trial and has not been easy to get through it has also given me a renewed sense of purpose out here as I know that there are SO many out there suffering from similar or even worse trials than these who do NOT have that same peace and comfort that comes from the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and Priesthood ordinances to seal families together for eternity. I pray that we might all be able to call upon the character of Christ at this time within ourselves and turn outward in the service of others when the natural man within us would do anything to turn inward and gratify self. I can promise that if we will all lose ourselves in the taking care of other people, even at this trying time, that He will take care of us and we will be able to find ourselves in the end.

After all this is what Christ did for us. Even when faced with the ever mounting stress and pain and sorrow and anguish of everything He went through, He pressed on knowing that what He was doing would be for the welfare and salvation of others. His sustaining strength through his loneliest and longest of trials was a knowledge that He was helping others! I pray we can find small and simple ways to do likewise. I love you all again so very much and if there is ANYTHING else I can do to help or support or comfort or serve you, PLEASE let me know. Thank you again for all that you do and for the sustaining strength which you help supply, you are all a vital part of my life, just as He is. I love you and pray all of God’s blessing be upon you this week and many more to come.

Mahalo nui loa and Aloha au ia oe!

-Elder (Luke) Powell

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Continuous rapids, Children leading the way, Positives outweigh the negatives

Yokwe bamile!

Believe it or not that is not a typo... that's how most of the branch here spells/says "family." ....I'm pretty sure it started out as just a joke about their Marshallese Accent but it kinda stuck I guess.... haha! Anyway, it's always fun to see people signed up on our dinner calendar as the "Elanzo Bamile" (and so forth) :) haha! Well anyway, sounds like you all are having a great time getting back into the flow of things. I know I am looking forward to hopefully hitting at least a little more smooth patch in our work over here as compared to the continuous rapids we've been going through so far in this area... although I must say, while rapids tend to be a lot more difficult and uncomfortable to get through, they also tend to move very fast and present quite the excitement as well as throwing you some thrilling twists every now and then! :) Sure enough this week was chock-full of its own new twist and turns and progress in our area!! Let me explain.

First off, it's funny that you would ask if we have any more last minute surprise baptisms to prepare for because... well... we do! haha! Last week Elder Livaie was on the phone with our Ward Mission Leader and after he got off he casually informed me that "he wants us to come over sometime and teach his niece so she can get baptized next Sunday" (As if it was just a passing thought that came to mind right before hanging up the phone). Thankfully, this one shouldn't be quite as hectic because the niece already took all of the missionary lessons in the past and so we just need to review them with her and make sure she's ready for baptism (which I'm pretty sure she is.) Then comes the real trick though... getting the parents approval... I think that was the main hold up in the past. But we are hopefully this time! After all, she's already giving talks in Sacrament meeting. She and her sister gave great talks on missionary work this Sunday which I especially appreciated because besides being about missionary work, they were also in English! So that was nice to actually be able to understand them! haha! And she is very active in all other church endeavors, so hopefully they will allow it and then in due course hopefully they themselves will come around and take the missionary lessons too! :) And speaking of children leading the way for parents to later take the lessons... that is exactly what is happening with T and L!

So I don't know if you remember the whole story with the rather hectic baptism we had last week that turned out to be basically just a "rehearsal baptism" because they got the names wrong and we didn't find out until after the fact. So this Sunday, just before church, we re-filled the font and re-baptized the two young boys we were teaching. (T and L) This time things went quite a bit smoother! We told them all that the baptism would start at 1:00pm expecting them to all show up by about 1:30.... which they did... and we had just enough time to do the baptism, take a few pictures and then head into sacrament meeting just in time for it to start ten minutes late as always!! :) haha! (I think the stake presidency knows exactly what it's doing when they gave our Branch the latest meeting time in the building... haha!) The confirmations went great as well and the two newest members of the Waipahu Marshallese Branch were welcomed in with a lot of excitement. What added even more to our excitement this week however was talking at least a little bit with their families afterwards! L’s father is less-active and his mother is not a member. But both have asked to sit in on our "after baptism" lessons with their son which will hopefully also double as her "before baptism" lessons as well! Likewise T’s parents (who are both non-members) are hopefully going to start taking lessons soon, as well as their good friends who live next door that have been coming to church with T and his mom for the last few weeks! So yeah! Lots of exciting things happening there!

It's interesting how at the end of every week with as many bumps and bruises and rough patches we seem to hit throughout the week, that as I look back over the week for things to share with you, there seems to be only positive things to share! Or at least the positives seem to outweigh the negatives by a LOT!! I guess that is the way life and the mission is. It's hard, this is probably the hardest it has ever been... But at the same time it is worth it because there are people who are ready and just waiting for us to come teach them! (In this case they're quite literally ready and just waiting for us to scramble and try to organize their actual baptism service! haha)

Thank you for your update about your spiritually uplifting week! I hope that every Sabbath continues to provide that for you! I know it sure has helped me more than I could ever express. I understand now better than ever why the Prophets refer to the Sabbath as a "delight" and as "a gift" that God has given us! I know it is starting to be that way for me! Even when all of the services and classes are in Marshallese, the spirit of the Sabbath is the same either way! :) I hope you can all feel that spirit especially this week! Thank you also for telling me about the new stake presidency. While I am very excited for the new leadership in the Tempe south stake and am sure that they will do a phenomenal job I am also sad to hear that Pres. Thomas will not be the one to release me as well... although I guess he already got to release me once, from my mini-mission, so it's all good! haha! Anyway, be sure to send all of my love and gratitude to the stake presidency for all that they have done! President Thomas and his councilors played a big role in my life as they were the ones to help me and interview me as I got my Melchezidek Priesthood, my first temple recommend and endowments, my mission call (well kind of... I guess technically that one was Pres. Monk from BYU-I but Pres. Thomas still helped me a lot!) and a lot of other very significant events in my life!!

Also, I'll be sure to be on the lookout at this next transfer meeting for a Sis. Christensen! I realized I'll probably have to look for her by name tag because all I have to go off of as far as memories of their family is a lot of pictures of me and Grant from when we were 5... as well as probably two more brief encounters the rest of our lives... so I'm not sure I even know what he looks like any more let alone his Sister... but I guess we'll see! We have one Sister in our zone who will probably be leaving the area soon so who knows! Maybe she'll get trained down in Ewa beach! :) haha! If so her trainer is a really solid missionary and a hard worker! (Although I'm sure she can find that wherever she goes in the mission!)

Well... now that this little "closing paragraph" ended up being three times as long as originally planned, I should probably get going! I love you all and look forward to hearing more and talking to you more soon!! Ofa lahi atu!!!

-Elder Powell

p.s. pictures: T and L at their baptism (the real one... not the rehearsal one! haha!) and them again with their Grandpa and Uncle who did the actual baptism. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bounced around like a volleyball, Outlawed fireworks

Yokwe eok!!! and ALOHA!!!!!!!!! :)

Kommol tata as always for your weekly updates and for all the fun that you have and the good that you do back in Arizona (and other respective locations). It also makes for a lot of fun to read your letters and a lot of inspiration to do good over here in Hawaii!!! :) To answer your question Dad, no, it is not yet the year 2016 over here... in fact one of NASA's leading scientist, Dr. Brown, just discovered that the "supposed location" of the international date line was actually off by a couple of degrees and their new calculation of this rather slanted new 'date line' cuts straight through Hawaii.... so depending on what part of Oahu you are on it is either a day ahead or a day behind.... to make it even more confusing, however, when they went to "re-set" the new date line coordinates on the computer, one of the new interns at NASA who named Marty bumped into computer and messed up everything, so now, according to NASA's official report, if you are on the west side of Oahu it is the year 1955 and you have to take the H1 east bound at approximately 88 miles per hour in order to get "back to the future"..... :)

ANYWAY! With that very long and drawn out pathetic attempt at a joke out of the way, I suppose I should probably actually give you a real update on life and everything out here in Hawaii! :) Haha! Well, I suppose that things are about as good as can be expected. To be completely honest and straight forward about things, it is tough here! I mean, it is really hard to adjust. I feel like at times we have no control over what is happening in the area or the work and we're just being bounced around like a volley ball at a ward activity, getting bumped, set, and even occasionally spiked, by the many different personalities and people here in the branch and in the area in general.

Now then I want to be clear that this is in no way the fault of the members and I am not in any way trying to complain or whine about my assignment here! I love the people and am more grateful to be here than I could ever express in an e-mail... in the end it's not that anyone in particular is doing anything particularly wrong! In fact I firmly believe that everyone is doing everything the best they know how. I guess the challenge is more so, that everyone seems to do things a little bit different than each other... and while there are many ways to "build the kingdom" eventually there has to be some coordination between workers because, as we've come to find out, a building doesn't stand up too well when some are making walls out of wood, and other cement, and others dry wall, and yet others seem to be trying to dig the structure out of a sheer granite cliff face with nothing but a small chisel and rubber mallet for tools. (I tend to feel like the latter most of the time here.) I guess to illustrate just what I mean I'll tell you a little bit about our "baptism" that took place this last weekend.

So I think I already talked a bit about the child we started teaching whose grandpa wanted us to baptize him two days after we started teaching him. Well the baptism didn't happen that weekend. Instead we talked more with the family and with him and our Branch President and 're-set' a baptism date for this last Saturday! So taking full advantage of this exciting opportunity to teach and baptize someone Elder Livaie and I went over almost every day that next week to try and get him ready for his baptism that Saturday! He progressed VERY well! His memory and enthusiasm about the gospel was just incredible as well as his sincerity and humility and faith! It is no wonder that Christ said we must "become as little children" to enter into the kingdom of Heaven! But things were about to take another abrupt turn in a different direction when, out of the blue, the same Grandpa who wanted us to teach an baptize T in less than a week, asked us to go teach and prepare his other Grandson L to be baptized on the same date as T!!! Thankfully this one was a child of record baptism and not a convert so he is technically not under our jurisdiction and we didn't have to teach him all of the lessons, but we did still have to help him start basically from scratch to gaining a testimony of the restoration and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and everything is only two visits!!

So we did our best and come Saturday everything was set and everyone was ready for the baptism.... or so we though... But alas, to our great dismay we rolled up at about noon and you'll never guess how many people showed up?! Two! Two other missionaries!! :P haha! Our District Leader and his companion (fun note that I don't think I told you about before but the district leader here is Elder Baker, my past companion from Mililani! so that has been fun to serve around him again!). Anyway, technically the baptism wasn't scheduled to start until 1:00 but we had asked them all to come an hour early so that Elder Baker and our branch President could do the interviews for the two boys.

Anyway, long story short eventually everyone kind of rolled in (although not without many more bumps in the road) we started the actual service a little before 2:30... afterwards we could all take a deep breath and relax a bit with some unglazed donuts and this chicken/rice soupy stuff (it has a name but I can hardly pronounce it and can't remember how to spell it). BUT to make things even more fun.... that next day when we were supposed to confirm them both... they didn't show up!! Well, they did, but it was about half way through the testimony meeting so they weren't going to stop the meeting to confirm them! While at first we were all a little disappointed that they didn't get confirmed we were soon at ease with the not getting confirmed and then immediately RE-disappointed when we found out that there had been miscommunication between family members and that BOTH children were not baptized under their correct "full-name" soo... we have to baptize them AGAIN next week!! Hopefully this time things will go a little smoother but at least we didn't confirm them and then have to re-baptize AND re-confirm them both next week!! So yeah.... while there were a lot of other little stories that kind of follow the same confusing and stressful pattern. That was probably the main one for this week!

Well, I've been on for long enough and we've probably gotta get going here pretty soon. But real quick so that I don't leave on a note that makes you all think that things are just terrible here... here are a few MAJOR highlights of this last week!! WE HAD A BAPTISM!!!! And what's even better.... WE GET TO EXPERIENCE IT AGAIN THIS WEEK!!! (if you think about it, it is rather rare that you get to have the same experience like that twice in two weeks! ;) haha!) Also WE GOT TO CELEBRATE A NEW YEAR!!!! And man do these people in Hawaii know how to celebrate New Years!!! .......ILLEGALLY! Haha! Well kind of. So they outlawed fireworks over here in Hawaii (except Hilo apparently) a couple of years ago BUT since the law is still pretty new and half of the people that are supposed to be enforcing it are also the ones enjoying it... it doesn't really get enforced hardly at all. So while we still are not allowed to participate in any actual lighting of fireworks, we were able to enjoy the truly incredible display of pyrotechnics that occurred that night! It was extra cool because we had an awesome view over almost all of Waipahu from the 12 floor of the apartment building where we live. So yeah, that was awesome!! Well, I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week and great start to the New Year!!! kommol tata!!

Aloha nui loa!!!
-Elder Powell

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dancing Beat, Back to Primary, Eat less SPAM

Yokwe!!!! :)

*Hey there family! Nice to talk to you again! :) Things are on the up and up!! First major UP for this last week was of course CHRISTMAS DAY!!!! AND GETTING TO SPEAK WITH (almost) ALL OF YOU FACE TO FACE!!! Oh how I love you all and miss you so much! I'm glad to hear though that you all had a great Christmas back home where I assume it was also nice and bright and sunny like it was for us out here! :) In the words of the Robert Anderson, Christmas was indeed "Green and bright" for those of us here in Hawaii! :) Our Christmas had a very special extra flare to it however! Besides the time we spent talking with you, we got to attend the all-day Marshallese Christmas Party here at the Waipahu stake center where pretty much all of the Marshallese on the whole island got together and just had a blast, eating food, singing some traditional Marshall Island Christmas songs and dancing "Beat" (as they call it). A sort of dance form where they all line up and kind of "processional" out from the halls onto the dance floor and then do a little dance kinda like... well... I really don't know how to describe it... I guess you could kinda say it's like Marshallese line dancing... just imagine Hundreds of Marshallese doing the Cha cha slide or YMCA to very loud island style mariachi music... that's kinda close to what it was like I guess... haha! either way it was fun! They even let us "march out" with the Elders Quorum from our branch so that was fun! :)

Anyway, other than that I guess the highlights of this week include getting another call from the same member who asked us to teach and baptize his grandson with less than a week’s notice. Apparently he has ANOTHER grandchild who he wants to be baptized on the same day as the one we already started teaching! haha! So while we now have plenty (or at least enough.. I don't know if plenty is the right word for it) time to finish teaching Travis (whose new baptism date is this Saturday, Jan 2nd) we now have to go find teach and prepare to be baptized ANOTHER child, theoretically for that same date!! So that will be a blast I'm sure! :)  Anyway, not complaining at all! I'm super excited for them... it's just kind of out of the ordinary. But I'm sure it will all work out! I love teaching little kids because they are so humble and honest and just ready and willing to learn (most of the time... :) haha!) I just wish all of our investigators would read and apply Mosiah 3:19 a little more... I mean theoretically I wish everyone would apply that scripture a little more... including myself. haha! Obviously there are some things that come with age and time and maturity and responsibility... but for the most part I firmly believe that if we could just learn and apply the lessons we teach our children in primary then we wouldn't have a lot of the problems we have today in the world... also we would have a lot more fruit snacks and cookies... and who doesn't need more of those in their life!!! So moral of the story... everyone go back to Primary! :) haha!

Anyway, other cool things from this week include confirming E. at church (who was sick last week so she had to wait a whole week to get confirmed but seems very happy now to be an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!) One of our new investigators, L. coming to church and staying for all three hours! Getting a couple new referrals. Watching a movie on Christmas day. Also this actually happened last week but I forgot to tell you about it.... this is probably the first ward I've ever had a pancake for the Sacrament bread... that was fun! It tasted good too! :) haha! Of course the most important part being the covenants associated with that sacred ordinance was still just as powerful so it's all good! :) Anyway, I'm starting to run out of things to say and time to say it (we only have a half p-day today because of New Years which will be the other half) so I will sign off. But thank you again so much for all that you do! I love you and will keep you in my prayers! Have a GREAT New Years and I hope that you will all set and achieve awesome new goals and resolutions! I know I've already set a few to get a gym pass, get more in shape, and eat less SPAM (although I'm already unsure as to how well that last one will work out considering that's about all we can afford here... haha!) Mahalo again for your help and your prayers! Have a great week!!! :)

Aloha au ia oe!
-Elder Powell

No shortage of Love, Utter Chaos, Preseason warm-up


So kind of a funny situation this week. Unlike most weeks I am actually writing this letter having absolutely NO idea what information you already sent me or how your week was or anything. We showed up to e-mail this week at the library only to find that ALL of the servers where down on the mission portal. So I just started typing the e-mail on word... and then ironically enough, RIGHT after I finished typing the sentence about how all of the other servers where down another missionary came over and excitedly whispered that they were back up and working... so I am now reading your report and hopefully can give you a little more of an accurate response to some of your inquires as to the work over here in Waipahu and the transfers and everything! :) haha!

.....please hold while I read your e-mail................

WOW!!! Sure enough you all continue to amaze me not only with all the amazing things that are happening but most of all with the AMAZING people that you truly are!! I love you all and am SO incredibly grateful for your contributions that you each make. I love each and every one of you and while I am far away for now, know that my heart will be with each and every one of you this Christmas Season wherever you may be. As well all of my love and most tender feelings are sure to be with my ward ohana back in Kekaha, I miss them a lot but am VERY happy to know that they are being left in good hands with Elder Luke (I mean anyone with that name has gotta have it under control! ;) haha!).

That being said, I already feel a huge portion of my heart and love being drawn out to the special members and others here in the Marshallese Branch. That is the great thing about love, like Grandpa Groberg said; "God's love fills the immensity of space; therefore, there is no shortage of love in the universe..." How true that is! 
Also, I am VERY excited about everything happening out here!!! What exactly is happening out here that is so special and causes such excitement you may ask?? Simple, so simple in fact I can sum it up in two words; UTTER CHAOS! Let me explain. I got off the plane early Wednesday morning in Honolulu and already felt entirely out of place! Everything from the crowds to the people to the traffic and noise and just everything about it made me feel more and more lost and confused. You can imagine coming from an area with one main road and literally no stop lights then flying straight into down town Honolulu is a bit of a culture shock. But what I didn't realize is that the pandemonium that greeted me at the gate downtown was only a tiny portion of what was waiting for me back in Waipahu.

Upon arriving in Waipahu I was forewarned by my new companion that simply put, we have no area book, no teaching records, no progress records, no scheduled appointments, neither of us speak the language and most of the branch doesn't speak very good English if at all. And as if the ecclesiastical tasks that faced us weren't enough, our house was a mess, we had practically little to no food at the house, our car was broken, and to top it all off we had just used the last can of SPAM (truly the greatest tragedy of all!) Of course the best part of the whole situation was that in spite of all this hullabaloo surrounding us... we also had a baptism lined up for that SATURDAY!!!! No matter what ANYONE says about the Marshallese one thing that I will forever give them credit for is their ability to somehow piece together results out of seemingly shambles. To turn a cacophony into a symphony (or at least into a more symphonic cacophony). And once again they did it here.

But as awesome of an experience as it always is to see someone be baptized, even this was very different and out of the ordinary for most baptisms. She is an 80 something year old 400 pound Marshallese lady who doesn't seem to speak a lick of English. (ok, so I may be exaggerating a tiny bit on her age and weight... but really not by much at all... you'll see... I'll send a picture.) But anyway, besides not speaking any English, she also cannot walk at all... so while I wasn't the one to baptize her... me, my companion, AND our ward mission leader were all there in the water with her to help her in and out of the font as well and to help with the actual ordinance itself. It was definitely a new experience, but one I will never forget. I have only met her that one time but I'm excited to get to know her and her story a little better as time passes on. :) Anyway, other than that though let me explain some of the other big news or exciting events or things about this area and why, our "utter chaos" here is also perhaps the most exciting and hope-filled thing to happen to me on the mission.

First, with this new challenge to face also came a renewed confirmation from the spirit that we have been called here for a reason and that we have been set apart by a servant of God and ordained by his Apostles to fulfill this very purpose! So why would there ever be any reason to fear when in reality this is EXACTLY what we have been called here to do! To help the work of God "go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every climb, swept every country and sounded in every ear..." and that is what we are hoping to do with these next few transfers at least among our members and others here in the Waipahu Marshallese branch! Also, with this new assignment comes to opportunity for personal growth and development. We had an awesome training by our mission president’s wife at this last mission tour with Elder Hamula (as mentioned in a previous e-mail) and in her training she talked about Michelangelo (no not the ninja turtle) and his sculpture, "David". Along with that she also talked about his other sculptures that line the hallway to "David" known as the prisoners or the slaves.  They are called this because they are basically sculptures that never quite finished being carved out of their block of stone and are "held captive" by the stone, being forever only a mere fraction of what they could have become. So in case you haven't caught on already her whole purpose for talking about these statues was to compare us to them, as we are slowly being carved and molded and made into the perfect and complete beings that we were meant from the beginning to become. Obviously none of us will ever be quite finished or perfected in this life, but we can take major chucks out of us and especially on the mission is a time for us to do that!

Anyway, why do I tell you all of this? Well because after last transfer in Kekaha with all of the progress and work that we were making there, I was honestly starting to really get a good feel for things and thought I had it pretty much down pat! I knew there was always still little things here or there to work on but figured that they were practically negligible and I was coming out pretty good... and so what happened? God picked me up, spun me around and showed me that while I seemed to be coming along very well on one front, there were parts of my life that had not even began to be worked on yet and that I had a very VERY long way to go in even becoming the missionary I am supposed to be let along the being he wants me to be in the end! So alas, here I am in the Waipahu Marshallese Branch, having never had quite so daunting of a task before me, or quite so many long and lonely nights, or quite so much confusion and even sheer chaos at times, with nothing but a chisel, a mallet, and a LOT of carving still to go as He tries to mold my character in these final months of my mission, one chip at a time.

And so it is, that with greater uncertainty comes greater opportunity to exercise faith. So looking forward now to all that lies in wait for us here and for all that lies in wait for all of you back home, I say THANK YOU AGAIN for all that you are doing already! And THANK YOU AGAIN in advance for all the good that I know you will all do in the coming months and years! I love how close Christmas is to Thanksgiving because when you really boil it down, Thanksgiving is just like a "preseason warm-up" in being thankful for all of those little things in life like "Alligators" and "rooks-the birds, the chess piece and the card game" and even "moose antlers" as we prepare to give even greater thanks this week for those things that are of even more importance, like our family, and our friends, and to give even GREATER thanks Thursday night and Friday morning for that which is of the MOST importance, namely, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How truly grateful I am for that and for Him and all that he continues to do for all of his Children. I know he loves you. All of you!! Likewise I love each and every one of you and wish you a VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let's make it one to remember!!! :) Mahalo nui loa, aloha au ia oe, and MELE KALIKIMAKA!!!!!!!

-Elder Powell

p.s. Send all of my love and aloha to the rest of the family and others who may feel far from Christ or far from home this Christmas season. Let them know that if they ever need anyone to talk with they can feel free to e-mail me... as you might have guessed by my significantly longer e-mails my allotted time for e-mail has freed up significantly recently as I've had significantly less people to write... well... in actuality basically just you and Jim and Christie... haha! Anyway, thanks again for the update! :) Love you all!!

p.p.s. Here's a picture after the baptism! The other one kneeling down with me is my Companion Elder Livaie (he is most recently from North Carolina, but is originally from Pohnapei... so there is another Micronesian connection for me and Joey to share!) :) haha! Also speaking of which, one of the missionaries here in our Zone (Elder Yates) is from St. George and said that he knows Joey and Ben a little bit! So...yeah... that's kinda cool! :) haha!