Mission Address

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

"So when am I getting baptized?"

Aloha my ohana!!

So, as you probably have figured out by now based on the picture I sent to you guys, we had a baptism this weekend!!! :D It went great! I'm not too sure if I already told you the story of T and E, but whether I did or not I figure it can't hurt to share it again! :) haha! So basically they were another family that our Branch President and some other members at church just walked up to us and said "alright Elders, these kids are getting baptized next week and we need you to go teach them." And yet again, just like the other kids they have done this with before, they gave us about half a weeks notice before the scheduled baptism day!! So of course as always we were just scrambling to get over there and trying to cram in what for most people is a process of a couple months or a couple of weeks at best, into a couple of days. Thankfully, the baptism date for this one got pushed back a tiny bit, just a few weeks, to accommodate for the family so that took a lot of pressure off of us and gave us more time to actually finish teaching them before they got baptized. 

Anyway, they actually both come from a very active member family but I guess for whatever reason they just kind of fell through the cracks and didn't get baptized right when they turned 8 and so it ended up that one was 9 and the other one was pretty close to turning 9 before they actually got baptized, making the baptism one child of record and one convert. (that seems to be a strangely common occurrence here in this branch! haha) What was extra special about this baptism however was that both of the children asked if I could do their baptism for them!! :) So I happily said that I could and this last Friday we had the baptism! It was great! :) Believe it or not, out of the 8 or so convert baptisms I have been able to witness on my mission so far, this was the first time I got to perform the actual ordinance! It was really exciting and brought back a ton of great memories about performing baptisms for the dead in the Temple with the young women of Lakeshore ward and others.  I also got to perform one of the confirmations for them in Sacrament meeting the following Sunday, and my companion did the other. It was spiritual experience for us all I believe! :)

Well as for other news this week. We also have been teaching and are REALLY excited about and looking forward to yet ANOTHER baptism this Saturday as well!! And you'll never believe it, but this one is going to be ANOTHER service with one convert and one child of record baptism! :) haha! So I'm not sure if I've talked much about J before but he's a young boy who lives at pink building (basically the central hub for all the Marshallese here in Waipahu) and he quite literally just walked up to us one day and said "hey Elders, so when am I getting baptized?" Of course we were a little caught off guard because we hardly even knew who he was, but we were more than happy to oblige and immediately we set a goal for his baptism and started working towards it! This time was nice too because we set a date that would actually give us a reasonable amount of time to teach him the lessons and make sure he was ready for baptism and the commitment involved. And I am very please to say that I firmly believe that he is!! :) I'll be sure to let you know more about that next week after the service! :) (Sorry, I just noticed that this paragraph has a lot of smiley face emoji's in it, but I suppose it is a very happy thing to talk about so even the keyboard that I am typing it into is happy and seems to require that I add a lot of smile faces! :) haha) 

The other person being baptized this Saturday with J is a young girl who turned 8 years old not too long ago so she as well as all of her family are of course excited about that as well and she is especially excited to share a baptism day with J who is slightly older than her but still a good friend seeing as they live three doors down from each other on the same floor of the pink building! haha!

Well, there is a ton more going on but one of the consequences of being so busy is a lack of time to really write about every detail so I will just say that we have quite a few new investigators and families that we have found either on our own or with the help of members and that we are very excited about and I hope to be able to write more about them in the near future. But for now I have to get going, we have a lot of work to do and not enough time in the day to do it all! I hope you have a fantastic week and remember how much God loves you and know that I also love you and will keep on praying for you as time goes by! Kommol tata im bar lo eok!! Kiki in jabinabin! :)

-Elder Powell

Thursday, February 25, 2016

No mistake ever needs be final! The Lord really does work in mysterious ways.

Motta im baamle yokwe!!
and ALOOHHHAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

So.... you guessed right that we were not able to e-mail on Monday. Believe it or not, the lack of an e-mail however was not just because of Presidents day! We actually were unable to e-mail yesterday because yesterday was not p-day! That's right, they switched p-day over to Tuesday this week!!! And there's only one reason they would ever do that.... that's right... today was our TEMPLE TRIP!!!!! WHOOHOO!!!!!! It was SO INCREDIBLE AWESOME!!! Just like it always is!!! Of course it had its ups and downs just like every day does, but man... the ups of today were SOO much higher than any of the downs!!! So real quick recap, we started out the day on a tiny bit of a "down", because despite our absolute best efforts to get to the temple on time (including leaving almost 2 1/2 hours early for what should have only been an hour drive at most!!) we still underestimated just how bad the 'Hawaii President's day weekend traffic' would be and didn't end up making it in time for our session (we showed up at 9:00 EXACTLY which is also EXACTLY when the session was starting unfortunately). So that was a bit of a bummer.
Because of the way my transfers on-island have lined up and with being off-island for a few transfers in between, it had been about 5 transfers since I'd been to the temple (approximately 7-8 months) which is much longer than I would recommend ANYONE with ready access to a temple should EVER go between visits!! I'll admit, I felt a little bit like one of the foolish virgins in the Savior's parable of the Ten Virgins as we ran up to the doors of the temple and pleaded that they would let us in to our session but of course we were just too late... that being said, God in his great wisdom, provided that a way so that we could still do work there in His holy house and so the six of us who had carpooled/caravanned and missed the session got to do some initiatory which was still SUPER incredible!!! We also still got to go up into the Celestial room and so that was of course absolutely astounding!!!!!! It is impossible to match the sacred feelings of peace, joy, and happiness found only within the hallowed halls of His holy house, especially in the Celestial room!

Anyway, well... I have a TON more that I want to say and that I promise I will pick up right where I left off tomorrow... but we actually have to run... That was another sort of positive and negative side of today... so because we spent quite literally almost the entire p-day sitting in traffic we didn't have a chance to really do anything we would normally do on p-day including washing clothes, cleaning the pad, and even e-mailing. So we got permission to try and make up for that tomorrow for part of the day. So yeah... sorry about this "extra odd week" but I promise to get back to you as soon as possible! Kommol kon am ronjake im bar lo eok!!! I love you so much!!!! :) Have a great day!

-Elder Powell


Jolok bod for the extra odd e-mailing this week. I think this whole "split p-day" thing has only made it more weird... anyway, I'll try and cover for you all of the significant events as fast as I can and then I've really got to run.

So this past week was actually a pretty successful one as far as missionary work goes. We had not one but TWO families who during a dinner with them asked if we could come back later in the week to teach a non-member living in their home. So we now have two new investigators both of which seem to have a TON of potential for becoming truly converted especially given the strong support that both have in the homes in which they live!! :) So anyway, I'll definitely talk more about all of that as their stories unfold! :)

Anyway, I think I mentioned before but if not, we got yet ANOTHER referral from some of our members for two little kids who "missed" their child of record baptism dates and so we are now teaching them and they are going to be getting baptized this week on Friday so we're SUPER excited about that!! :D actually.... now that I think of it one will still be a child of record... not that that really matters in the end, baptism is still baptism either way! :) haha! We also have been working a lot with and teaching another young boy named J over at the same building where we are teaching the other two little kids! Man J is SOO solid too!!! He keeps all of his commitments and remembers all of the lessons and is SUPER excited about getting the Priesthood and being able to pass the sacrament! :) (He is 12 years old.) So of course we're super excited for him too! :)

We're also working with a young boy (we'll just call him Junior for now) who is very solid and has a strong belief in God and all of that, but who has also really been struggling with overcoming some past mistakes and so it has been a great blessing to be able to watch his countenance change and hope return as we taught and testified of the Savior's love and atoning sacrifice and the effects it can have in our lives. I know for sure that that power is very real and very... well... powerful! I've felt it in my life! In short it's the only reason I am still here! I know that because of Him there is no mistake that ever need be final!

We actually got to watch this SUPER AWESOME multi-stake conference this past weekend with stakes from all over Hawaii and California and Oregon and Washington and even parts of Canada and Alaska! It was INCREDIBLE!! We got to hear from Elder C. Scott Grow, Sis. Bonnie L. Oscarson, Elder James J. Hamula (which was cool because he just came in person to do our mission tour only a few months ago! :) haha!) and Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. All of their messages were very powerful and very inspiring but especially fitting for that day was Elder Hamula's message where he talked over and over about the Saviors admonition to his disciples to "Fear not" and how because of the Savior's atonement we truly have no reason to fear or be afraid and that EVERYTHING which seems wrong or unjust, or which seems difficult and trying, scary or terrifying, and even that which seems permanently broken, truly is not. But that because of Him EVERYTHING can be set right and made right and everything will be for the best!  Anyway, it was a perfect message to receive that day not only for us but because we were then able to turn around and share it with "junior" who needed it more than perhaps either of us that day. I hope that all of you had a great Sabbath-day as well this past week and that you were able to share something you learned from the Spirit that day with someone who was in need! :)

pineapple fields
So anyway, other than that and a few other people we've been teaching most of our time is spent trying to find new people to teach as our investigator pool is slowly draining (as so often is the case) and consequently we've spent a lot of time as well in the car driving back and forth and all over the island as we embark on this sort of Marshallese scavenger hunt! haha! So practically none of our records are current because most Marshallese (including active members) don't really care to much for filling out paper work or updating data bases or anything of the sort... which isn't a big deal for them because they all know everything about each other anyway... but it has proved a bit of a challenge for the two palangi missionaries trying to track them down and teach them! :P haha! Regardless, the work is still moving forward and we've actually seen quite a few little miracles come from knocking on houses where the family we were trying to find moved out but other families moved in and were interested in the gospel. See, the Lord really does work in mysterious ways but it always works out in the end! :) 

Well speaking of teaching people, we've gotta run to an appointment, but I hope you all know how much I love you and that I am praying for you and please, as always, if you ever need anything just let me know! Hope you have a WONDERFUL week full of lots of fried chicken and rice! I know we sure will! :D haha! Kommol kon am ronjake im bar lo eok! Kiki in jabinabin! (sleep like a sea-cucumber!) :) haha

Aloha nui loa!
-Elder Powell

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Hog or an Eagle? Pearl Harbor, the Good Samaritan (with a twist)

Baamle yokwe in raelep! Or I suppose it would be "yokwe in jota" for all of you back in Arizona... but anyway!
Family and friends, Yokwe and ALOHA!!!

I am so happy to hear that everyone is still so involved in so many worthwhile endeavors! I was just listening to a talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley this morning and he quoted someone else's talk about how you can tell what a person is really like by how they spend their free time, if they like the hog, spend it rolling in filth, or like the eagle, soaring to new and lofty heights! Anyway, I am satisfied to know that all of you are most definitely "eagles" in this sense as you always have such wonderful things to update me about because you do spend so much time not only at work but even in your leisure hours, doing good and being good and "rid[ing] upon the high places of the earth" like Isaiah promised for all of those who keep the Sabbath-day Holy!

So Thursday and Friday were rather routine with just some of our more regular visits and usual lessons. We did have a kind of sad and scary moment when we found out that two of the investigators we had set with a baptismal date for this upcoming weekend were having second thoughts about it because "they were already baptized back in the Marshall Islands" but into a different church and long before they were even accountable. But either way, we're still hopeful that with a little more reading, a little more praying and a few more lessons that we can get them right back on track towards baptism by immersion by someone holding the priesthood authority of God! :)

Wednesday however was a little less routine, as we got to go and do the bi-monthly Pearl Harbor service aboard the USS Missouri. It was fun as always and a great chance to fellowship with each other as well as those in our community and many other tourists and visitors who are also aboard that great ship! :) It also makes for some good pictures to send home!

Tuesday we had a new and very interesting sort of experience... To put it as simple as possible, the story of the Good Samaritan has taken on a whole new meaning to me as we were driving back to our house after a district meeting for some lunch and saw an old uncle walking down the sidewalk grab onto a chain-link fence and slowly lower himself down until he was quite literally sprawled out across the pavement. Sadly, I must say that I ALMOST fell under the category of "the Levite" in the Savior parable as some of my thoughts after the initial shock of seeing that all happen was "he is probably just another one of the many MANY kind of crazy homeless people that roam the streets around this area and will be ok, besides we have work to do and not much time to do it...", but THANKFULLY my companion had the sense of mind to tell me to turn around and go check on him and so, repenting as fast as I could for even letting that thought of "pass[ing] him by" pass through my own mind, I turned around, we parked the car and went to go help him up.

In an unfolding of events that neither of us had expected or planned for, we ended up helping this uncle to stand up, walk to the bus stop, traveled with him on the bus over to Pearl City, walked him over to his doctor’s office and then stayed there until the doctors had called and got a hold of his care taker and it was obvious that they had the situation under control. While the similarities were striking and seemed to be almost perfectly in line with the Savior parable, there were a few variations that made it all the more interesting, (such as the uncle being a little... or a lot... under the influence of alcohol or some other form of mood changing substance which led him to try to literally run away from his doctors when they asked him to just sit down and also contributed majorly to his inability to walk.. or even sit...) as well as a few different characters that added a little bit of a contemporary twist on the more commonly known New Testament version of the story. But regardless it was definitely a great learning opportunity for us as a companionship as well as for me personally.

I now know more fully what the Savior meant when he said "and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." We were blessed to be able to do that in quite the literal sense as we helped this man to "return safely home" to his house in Waipahu, and I hope and pray that we can all have that opportunity to do that very same thing in the spiritual sense and help those who stand in need of help to "return safely home" to their Father and family in Heaven.

Well, we gotta get going, thank you again so much though for all of your prayers and your love and support on our behalf! Be sure to send my love and best wishes to everyone back home, especially for the newly wed couples you were able to go and celebrate with!! I was thrilled when I got the invitation the other week to Eric and Maryssa's wedding and sealing at the Gilbert Temple!!! How exciting it is to see families come together in the holiest and highest of ceremonies known to man here on earth! :)) I love you all and again I wish you the best in everything you have before you this week! Kommol tata im bar lo eok!!!! :)

Aloha nui loa!
-Elder Powell

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hard work and miracles to follow, Interview with Elder Holland, Importance of the Book of Mormon


As noted last week we had transfers and Elder Livaie left for the McCully Micronesian branch (the other Micronesian branch that we sort of share the island with) so he is still very close to home and we still run into each other every now and then which is fun! :) My new companion is Elder Teerlink and sure enough he is from good old Salt Lake City, Utah!!! The hub of it all!! :) haha! anyway, he is super cool and we've been having a lot of fun together as well as getting a TON of work done! In fact, I don't think I've been busier or more exhausted on my whole mission as I have recently!! It's awesome!!!! :D It's so great coming home at night and just feeling absolutely overwhelmed and exhausted and worn out from the work and knowing that you have to wake up the next morning early and it will all start over again!! It is truly a blessing to be so worn out and tired because that gives God the opportunity to really step in and "bear you up" just like he promises us He would do! Truly, He is always good to his promises! :)

So speaking on all of that hard work we've been doing recently, it has most definitely NOT been without success and miracles to follow!!! To put it as simple as possible, we currently have FOUR NEW CONVERT BAPTISMS set up for the month of February!! I wish I had sufficient time to tell you about all of them individually, but I don't. Thankfully none of them are QUITE as random or sudden as all of the other ones from last transfer were (although one was almost this week out of nowhere, but thankfully they pushed it back and gave us a little more time to teach the kids :P haha!) but they're all still unbaptized or investigator youth. It seems like the Children are all a lot more receptive to the lessons than the adults... which has its ups and downs. In some cases the child getting baptized has softened the hearts of the parents, at least to letting us come a teach them. But in other cases it has proved to be a problem because a lack of commitment and casualness about the gospel at home has proven so often to pass down from the parents to the recently converted and still fresh testimonies of their children.  It is a little scary at times but I still am grateful for the people and especially for their humility as a whole and their willingness to submit to God's will. Commitment is a little tougher but I suppose we all struggle with that or things like it from time to time. Anyway, long story short, things are going GREAT for us here in the Waipahu 3rd branch!!

Likewise, things are going great and REALLY looking up for the whole Hawaii Honolulu mission after the recent training and counsel given to us by Elder Jeffery R. Holland!! He came in this last week for a Stake Conference in Kane'ohe and a few other meetings and even amid his very busy schedule still felt it important to fit in time to meet with a talk to all of us, the full-time missionaries of Hawaii! IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!! Truly, he is a servant of the most high God and a special witness for Christ the Lord! His spirit while teaching was just incredible as was his training and just everything about him!! After the initial fear was gone of having an Apostle shake your hand and look you in the eye and ask your name and where you were from (which he made sure to do with each and every one of us!) we were all relieved to hear that, based on the impressions he had after "personally interviewing each of [us]" (with nothing more than a brief two second hand shake and short exchange of pleasantries) that he felt that over all we were a great group of young missionaries with a lot of potential for good! I find it funny that they always seem to note our "potential" instead of saying that we're just fine where we are.... I guess an apostle would know better than anyone else that we missionaries, however great we may appear at times, still have a very VERY long way to go in our personal growth and spiritual maturity!!

Anyway, so he talked about a lot of stuff and a lot of really important things and I wish I had time to talk about it all in depth, but basically, the MAIN thing that he really stressed to us, was HOW IMPORTANT THE BOOK OF MORMON REALLY WAS AND REALLY STILL IS!!!!! It is the foundation to a testimony of this church and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because IT IS THE ONLY BOOK WITH A FULLNESS OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!! True it is that all of the other scriptures are holy and should be studied and cherished with GREAT diligence and fervency, but the Book of Mormon was brought forth SPECIFICALLY and ESPECIALLY FOR OUR GENERATION! FOR US!!! IT WAS THE SIGN that the dispensation of the fullness of times was begun and the first sign that the Second coming of the Messiah was soon at hand! And while there is still much of great importance for us to study and to learn from in this life and in this church, that there is NOTHING which could be of greater importance, than to study from and to cherish and love, the Book of Mormon. I know that what he said was true... I may be paraphrasing a little bit and I really don't apologize for that because the overarching message is that the Book of Mormon has a LOT more significance than any of us may now realize and that we all have a lot more studying to do of its holy pages, and I know that is true! The Spirit has born witness of that to me countless times and did again as he spoke of its significance in his life and in the lives of millions of people all over the earth!!

We also got a super last minute assignment from our branch president to talk in sacrament meeting this last week on keeping the Sabbath-day holy, and so while I won't give you a whole overview of my talk, I felt it important to note that the Spirit has born witness to me countless times, but especially yesterday of how important that simple commandment truly is and how sacred and holy that day truly is! Anyway, I would encourage all of you to study it out for yourself more this week. (Elder Russel M. Nelson's talk The Sabbath Is a Delight would be a great place to start for anyone who is interested in taking on that challenge to study the Sabbath this week.)

Well, I've once again run a little over my allotted time... I guess it was a tender mercy in some ways that our dinner cancelled on us because it afforded me a couple of extra minutes here at the library to hopefully strengthen all of you as well as share with you my love for this glorious gospel and the resplendent truths and blessings that accompany it. I love you all and pray for you each and every day!! Kommol tata for all you do and all you are! Iakwe, Bar lo eok and ALOHA!!!!!

-Elder Powell

They're called difficult for a reason, Spiritual mountains to climb, Worldwide broadcast

Iakwe in raelep! :)

Oh my dear family, how I love and appreciate all of you. I am grateful for how much you do for each other and for your faith and prayers for each other during this trying time. Things like this are so often what tears families apart and can ruin lives and relationships forever, and yet, because of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior Jesus Christ, as well as all of your remarkable faith, I feel closer to all of you now than perhaps ever before. Which is strange because I've quite literally never been farther from home!

Thank you so much mom for your update on all of the events of late I am happy to hear that while it was a week filled with much sorrow and struggling that is was also a week full of family fun and spiritual growth. It is easy to talk about using difficult situations as opportunities for growth, but then when actually faced with them it becomes a completely different story! They're called difficult for a reason I suppose. haha! But a mountain is a mountain and a storm is a storm and complaining won't help. So it has been with us over here in Hawaii. Quite literally this morning we climbed a mountain as we hiked into what we were hoping would be a stunning waterfall.... but due to the lack of rain the past week or two, there was little more than a small pond at the bottom of the ravine. It was good exercise nonetheless! :)

The hike this morning though seems to pale in comparison to the spiritual mountains we had to climb throughout the rest of the week. To say as little as possible about the situation out of respect for others and their privacy I will just say that a lot of tensions and misconceptions had been building for practically the past five or so weeks and then half way through this week things just snapped. People couldn't handle the stress of certain situations and there was a lot of tough, tough hours and days to follow. However, I do not bring any of this up to 'complain' about or to 'blame' others or myself. I talk about this because I want to share with you just how incredible strong Priesthood power and authority truly is as well as how strong the Atonement of Jesus Christ is as well.

Our mission President was able to step into help intercede on the whole situation and even with having no prior knowledge to what was going on, he was able to council and console and control the situation in a way that would have truly been impossible had it not been for heavenly help! Truly he was strengthened in his priesthood calling and was able to use the Spirit and gift of discernment to solve sides of the issue that were not even apparent to those more directly involved! God sees more than we see. As well, the Atonement of Jesus Christ played a huge role in helping to solve the situation. Truly the more we turn to Christ in everything, the more we are filled with His love and the more we can see others as He sees us. We are all equal in his eyes and with his help we can learn to truly confess and repent. To forgive and forget. To help and be helped. To love and be loved. That is the purpose of why he did what he did for us. So that we could all have a second chance at things and so that we could learn to love others as he so loved us, even unto the laying down of our lives for them. I hope you know how much I love each and every one of you, although I suppose none of us can quite comprehend just how much love He has for all of us.

So, anyway, other stuff that happened this week!! We got to participate in a worldwide missionary broadcast from some of the General Authorities of the Church which was AWESOME!!! There was a lot said about how to fulfill our purpose to teach repentance and to baptize! It was seriously just super sweet! That's about as best as I can describe it! haha! I guess one thing in specific I took away from it was how essential the Spirit really is in this work! I mean, I always knew it was important, but Elder Bednar REALLY cracked down in his training on how it wasn't just 'important' but that it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to fulfilling our purpose! No matter how "cool" or "smart" or "clever" the missionary may be, WE ARE NOT CAPABLE of converting ourselves or others to the gospel of Jesus Christ! We CANNOT teach and testify without it! It cannot be done!! We are simply the instruments in God’s hands to get the spirit close to the hearts of those around us and then from there it is HIS job to teach and testify of God and the Savior and restoration of His church!! That is HIS divine purpose! We are simply here to help Him to accomplish His work!! (see Moroni 10:5; D&C 100:5-8; D&C 50:13-22; D&C 42:14)

Also, this Saturday and Sunday we got to participate in the Baptism and Confirmation of N! It was super cool! I'm not sure if I told you about her or not. So we just kind of happened upon this one. Our ward mission leader, Bro. H, basically just called us up one day and said, "hey, I have a niece who comes to church every week, she's already had all of the lessons and knows it's true, she's ready to get baptized now." A little shocked we went over and found out that sure enough she knew everything, had taken all of the lessons before, and was at church every week already! We saw her there all the time and neither of us even knew that she wasn't already a member! haha! So anyway, we got it all taken care of and this weekend she was baptized! It went great!

Well, I should probably start wrapping this e-mail up, I gotta get going. But real quick I guess I should tell you about transfers! :P haha! So it's that time again when our lives seem to get turned upside-down! Whoohoo!! So I will be staying (thankfully, as I just barely got here not too long ago!) but Elder Livaie is going to be heading over to the McCully Marshallese branch! (the other one that we kind of share the island with!) So yeah, I'll probably still see him around all the time! We have one member who kind of hops between the two so whenever they feed us they always have both sets anyway! :) haha! Anyway, so I will be getting Elder Teerlink. I'm not sure where he's from (although I'd bet that Utah is a pretty safe guess :P haha!) all that I know is that he was Trained on Moloka'i by Elder Gerber who you may or may not remember was my MTC companion approximately 18 months ago!!! Crazy how fast time flies out here! Well, I will give you more information as more information comes, but for now I say unto you all, mahalo nui loa and a hui hou!! Thank you again for everything and for your prayers, know that many prayers from many over here in Hawaii are also sent your way! I love you! Have a great week!! Aloha au ia oe!

-Elder Powell

Also a nice healthy plate of "food" from a party we got to go to this last week... I seriously didn't know how to even begin to eat half of the stuff on our tray... :P haha!