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!!!!!!!
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!