Mission Address

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A "typical" Sunday, FunDip, Teaching and Learning

Yokwe baamle!! and Happy Easter!!!

Easter Sunday was actually pretty much just a typical Sunday. Of course when I say that is was "a typical Sunday" I'm not saying in any way that is was not very spiritual, but rather that even a "typical Sunday" should be just as spiritual and significant in our remembrance of the Saviors sacrifice. That is the main purpose for our meeting together! To partake of the emblems of the sacrament and remember what he did for us and to renew our covenants that we have made with Him at baptism and in the Temple! But I digress... I suppose for the most part that I am preaching to the choir anyway because all of you so wonderful at making every Sabbath a delight already! So keep that up! :)

Of course one highlight of this whole week was getting to share solemn witness to everyone we came in contact with of the Atonement of Jesus Christ! I'm sure you're already aware of this, but the church put out a new video about the Atonement and Easter and also gave out new pass-a-long cards to go with it, so we have been having passing those out literally everywhere we go! It's kind of fun! :) On another fun note, my companion and I have also basically taken on new callings as the "default back up Sunday school teachers" and when I say Sunday school we really have just become the EVERYTHING teachers... in fact it's getting to the point where we're not even the back-ups... we're just the "default everything teachers"!! haha! It's really fun and exciting for us and definitely keeps us on our toes because we never know when we're going to have to teach or what we will have to teach on but I kind of feel bad for the other teachers because they are missing out on all of the incredible blessings that come from preparing and presenting a lesson, even to a class of just a few, (which is usually all that ever attend Sunday school classes anyway).

This past week I think I had a total of three people in my class, one of which kept getting up to leave because of her small child. Still it was a wonderful chance to teach about the scriptures to one of our investigators and a recently returning member both of whom were there in the class (in fact they made up about 2/3rds of the class! haha!) We've even been having to split the last few weeks so that one of us can teach the Gospel Principles class and the other can go teach the youth class and then we find ourselves teaching the young men's class a lot of the time too. It's kind of fun! We're trying to get the young men excited about serving a mission too... but... well... let's just say they’re not too enthusiastic until the FunDip and other candies start coming out of the bag! haha! It's ok though! I remember what it was like to be in their shoes so that helps! :)

So other than teaching and teaching and teaching a lot this past week, we also got to do quite a bit of learning, which is always a HUGE blessing! :) We had zone conference this past week and we got to hear all sorts of wonderful training's from the Assistants, the Mission President, and even from a member of the missionary department from Salt Lake who came out to train us on and install these new little devices in all of our cars that basically just help the church keep track of where cars are and more importantly how they are being driven. The device is a little bit obnoxious at times, but it is there for a good purpose and we are making the most of the situation anyway.

Anyway, I love you all so very much! Keep on doing the amazing things that you do and again you can be assured that you are and always will be in my thoughts and in my prayers!! I love you so much and hope to hear again from you soon!! Have a great week! Kommol kun am jipan im jar! Bar yokwe eok!! :)

-Elder Powell

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Do you actually ENJOY doing this? Happiness that exceeds ANYTHING else!

Baamle Yokwe eok!! :)

Man, sounds like you've been having some fun stuff going on! I wish I could have been there to hear Brian speak but I've been e-mailing him a bit and I am sure that he will be an absolutely stellar missionary! :) I'm also excited to hear that you've all been so busy with different church activities/callings! I was listening to a general conference talk last night while getting ready for bed about... well.... missionary work! haha! Anyway, President Uchtdorf starts out by telling a story of a man who had a dream and in the dream the man asked two members of our church what we were all about and they when on the explain all of the stuff that members do from callings, to devotionals, to temple and family history work, to youth conferences, to church attendance, to social events and everything else and in the end they had made a HUGE list about all of the crazy time commitments that membership involves, to which the man responds, "Why would anyone want to do all of that?" and the couple, smiling, simply responds "we thought you would never ask!" :) haha! It's a fun talk! It's called "Come, Join with Us" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf if you wanted to check it out! :)

ANYWAY! So speaking of business in doing the Lord’s work! HOLY COW HAVE WE BEEN BUSY!!! We have had a ton of miracles this past week with increasing our teaching pool and so now we have pretty well established work in literally every zone on the island expect for La'ie (which I'm kind of sad about because I LOVE that side of the island and especially being able to see the temple!) But the rate things have been going, I wouldn't be surprised if we start teaching people up there too! haha! The only problem is that whole side of the island is just a ton of Polynesians so there's not really a place for Marshallese missionaries :P haha! But we have found quite a place with this new less-active/part-member family we're teaching out in Kane'ohe which I was SUPER excited about because I just LOVE being able to drive through that side of the island! I sure miss the ward over there but I know the sisters who are serving there now and I'm sure that it is in great hands! :)

So anyway, in other news we are still working very closely with one of our part-member families and the non-member boyfriend soon to be husband! :) He is progressing very well and is definitely ready to get baptized any day now, but we are just waiting on the marriage license, so while we are a little disappointed that he won't be making his original baptism date (which was supposed to be this Saturday) he will definitely be getting baptized very soon so I will be sure to keep you all up to date on that! :) Other than that we had a pretty exciting week at church as we had a couple of our new investigators come to church and it's extra cool because in the Marshallese communities everyone is either directly related or "hanai" related (as the Hawaiians would say) and so the second they walk in the building people just go up and start talking to them and it's just super cool to see! I love how friendly and warm and welcoming the Marshallese are to everyone they meet! There could not be a more docile and patient people in the world! They are just fantastic! :)

I have learned a ton while being out here in this branch about what it means to be Christlike in my patience and humility and just finding the fun and happiness in everything! Just as the scriptures say "surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God." :) Anyway, I am sure that they are not the only happy and blessed people on this earth, obviously those promises apply to ANYONE who follows the Gospel of Jesus Christ with exactness, but one thing is for sure, that happiness, at least for the Marshallese and I would hope for the rest of us, has ABSOLUTELY NO CORRELATION WITH MONEY OR FANCY CARS OR CLOTHING OR GADGETS OR REALLY ANYTHING OF THAT SORT! Happiness for them is centered first and foremost on celebrating what they do have, such as something as simple as the gift of life, and celebrating it with family and friends! Truly that is what brings true happiness! At least that is what I have come to find out here! :)

It's kind of funny, we were doing this hike this morning (it's the same one I sent you pictures of a while back where there was supposed to be a waterfall but it's all dried up because I guess this isn't the rainy season or something) and while we were hiking back we got talking to this group of college and high school kids relatively close to our same age and they asked us what we do as missionaries and we started talking about the schedule we keep and the rules and everything we have to do and they just kind of looked at us ABSOLUTELY BAFFLED by the fact that ANYONE would, of their own free will and choice, sign up to do such a thing! They couldn't comprehend the fact that we would volunteer to come to Hawaii for TWO YEARS and not go to the beach or watch movies or do any of that stuff! While we continued to try and explain what we do and why we do it finally one of them just looked straight at me and said "and do you actually ENJOY doing this?" and I was SO happy to be able to look her in the eye and with the up-most confidence I could muster say "yes, I LOVE doing this!!" :) Haha!

It just felt so great to be able to share with her and everyone else there that simple truth that I had learned from the Marshallese, as well as from the many other people I have worked with on my mission and even many of you back home, that when we forget about ourselves and lose ourselves in the service of others, we can truly find new life and new happiness that exceeds ANYTHING else!! I love this work, I love this branch, just as I love all of you back home! I miss you and hope that you are still well and that you will continue to find ways to help those around you as well! I wish you the best of luck with whatever endeavors you may be involved in hope that God will bless you as you are prayerful in doing them. I know He will! :) Have a great week!! Kommol tata! Bar yokwe eok! :)

-Elder Powell

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Involved in worthwhile efforts, Eternally grateful

Motta im baamle yokwe!! :)

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Sis. Knaparek. She truly was an incredible woman and I have MANY fond memories of both being in her class as well as taking her the sacrament when she was unable to come to church and even a lot of good memories of her son Tony who was such a good home teacher for so many years! They are a wonderful family and I am sure that they will continue to do amazing things whatever side of the veil they may be on!! Still my heart felt prayers and thoughts are definitely with them this week as they always will be. 

Man, that's super cool to hear about All-state Joe!! Way to be involved in so many worthwhile efforts! Again I would reference that talk by Gordon B. Hinkley when he quoted the story about how you can tell what a person is really like by what they do with their leisure time, whether they are "an eagle soaring to lofting highs" and "flying upwards towards Heaven" or whether they are "pigs, wallowing in the filthiest of mud-holes the pasture has to offer."

Also when you do get in touch with those Hawaiian bothers be sure to ask them a lot about Hawaii! If there is one thing Hawaiians LOVE to talk about it is Hawaii!!! haha! seriously, the pull of the islands ESPECIALLY for a local born is VERY strong and just like they always say "you can take a boy from the islands, but you can't take the island from the boy!" :)

I will just kind of wrap up by saying that we are also doing a lot of WONDERFUL things out here as well! :) I wish I had more to tell you about but really this week hasn't been too eventful our out of the ordinary, that's why I thought I would focus my e-mail this week more so on all of you because plain old me is just doing plain old Marshallese things out here in plain old Hawaii! haha (although I fully realize that there is nothing "plain" or average in any way for that matter about myself, the Marshallese people or Hawaii.) Still it has been fun to serve this past week!

We did have one big thing happen this last week when one of the investigators we were teaching agreed to get married to his girl-friend that he is living with and has a child with so that he can get baptized on the 26th of this month! :) It definitely helps that the girl he is now technically engaged to is part of a super active and strong member family almost all of which are seminary graduates and the dad is even our branch high priest group leader..... To be fair though he is quite literally the ONLY ordained high priest in the entire branch as well! :P hahaha! But still it is exciting to see the progress our investigator has made! It is also nice to finally teach and hopefully baptize someone over the age of 12 for once over here! :P hahaha! 

Well we better get going! I love you all SO much and again I am ETERNALLY grateful for you and for the great people that you are! Have a fantastic week and keep on be awesome as always! You will still be in my thoughts and prayers! Kommol im bar lo eok!!

-Elder Powell

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Holy Polaris Batman, Nothing happened the way we expected it too!


Holy Polaris Batman, this has been one CRAZY week!! I mean we have just been all over the place!! It has been exhausting and exciting, thrilling and terrifying, frenetic and FANTASTIC!!! So anyway, I hope I will have time to tell you all about it! But regardless of how much I do or don't get in I definitely know that no amount of cleverly written words will ever do it justice. Still I will try my best to express just how great this past week truly was!

We started out with having one final lesson with an investigator family we were teaching out in Palolo valley. We were sad because they were progressing very well and had even accepted the commitment to be baptized... but then we found out that they were moving to the mainland this week. So while we were saddened by their leaving us, I am sure that they will continue their study of the gospel over in Arkansas (aka "the new Marshall Island"). We were also blessed to be able to celebrate/cry with them and the member family they have been living with on Friday as we threw them a small sort of "farewell" party. It was fun but also sad and while we all enjoyed each other’s company for the night, we also knew that soon the day would end and with it so would their time with us here in Hawaii.

So while this week started out with a sort of sober celebration, it was definitely still chock-full of almost unimaginable miracles and all sorts of other craziness! To summarize basically everything into one sentence... nothing happened the way we expected it too! haha! A lot of our more regular appointments and people we tend to teach on a more consistent basis all seemed to fall through. But it's kind of funny because while we weren't able to teach a lot of the usual people we teach, we still managed to teach 25 total lessons this week!!! The mission standard of excellence is 20 a week!! It was definitely the most lessons I have EVER taught in one week on my mission! It was awesome! :)

Anyway, so to quickly expound on those lessons. We talked briefly with J's mother (the young boy who just got baptized last week) and we got a return appointment set up to teach their whole family this up-coming week so we're both SUPER excited about that!! The mom is a member and now so is J, but the dad and J's twin sister are still not members and we might also have another child who is "supposedly" a member but doesn't have any records that we may have to just 're-baptize' so that will be all sorts of fun! :) We're also teaching this new family that our Zone Leaders found while tracting and referred over to us. They are really a sweet family and the mother especially is very interested in the lessons and has been progressing well! Unfortunately we have had little contact and almost no progress with I this week after the whole lesson where he was confronted with the concept of what being baptized would really mean. We were able to play a really short game of basketball with him though when we ran into him down at the park by his house! It was fun and he is still just a SUPER awesome kid! :)

Anyway, so all of that however is really just scratching the surface of the miracles that happened this week. The main miracle that happened was definitely with A and E!! So I don't remember if I talked much about them before, but a really quick recap just in case I didn't. So after we finished a lesson with T and E (the two kids I got to baptize a couple of weeks ago) one of their good friends walked up to us and basically said "I want to get baptized too! Can you come and have lessons with me?" So of course we jumped on the opportunity and when we came back a couple of days later to talk with her again she said "oh, my cousin wants to get baptized too! Can you come teach both of us?" And they walked us down the road from T and E's building to theirs and we talked with their parents at least briefly and then we started to teach them about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

The lessons were going great! Both of them were really invested in what we had to share but more importantly they were humble enough to act on what we invited them to do and I believe firmly that that action is what helped them to gain a testimony of the gospel more than anything else. With a knowledge and understand that belied their very young age, they both progressed rapidly and through many little miracles were to the point where we had set them with a date to be baptized about half way through this month of March. But then just when we thought things were going to work out exactly how we planned... well... they didn't! haha! They never do! :P

One day while visiting T and E, A came up to us and said "I'm sorry but I can't get baptized on the 19th because my family is moving to the mainland next Tuesday." We were heartbroken! It is sadly a very common trend here for people, especially the Marshallese people, to move on practically no more than a weeks notice. With the cost of living so high over here and so cheap in many places on the mainland they are all slowly migrating over there and because most of them hardly have a single earthly possession that is of any value, the process of packing up and moving is very fast and again seems to happen in a matter of days or weeks at most. Anyway, Elder Teerlink and I were talking about it later and we were both very disappointed but we agreed to just keep on teaching them what we could and hope that they would come in contact with Elders over there in Spokane. But then just this past Saturday, that all changed.

We were walking back to our car at about mid-afternoon, having had appointment after appointment after appointment fall through and having been turned away at almost every house we tried and quite literally our heads and our heads seemed to hang low. I got in the car and started to back up all the while praying and asking Heavenly Father to just guide us wherever we need to go and to do whatever it is He needs us to do, when I got the smallest impression simple to just "ask your companion." So I did. He thought about it for a second and just said, "Do you want to just go try and see A and E?" I was a little hesitant at first because we had had two different appointments fall through with them that same week and so I wasn't sure we could get in this time either but I figured it was worth a shot so we went over and started to just talk to them. The parents invited us in and actually fed us dinner while we taught their two little girls.

The lesson was going well but still we didn't think too much of it, until at the end, when both of us out of nowhere seemed to get the almost impossible impression from the Holy Ghost to simply ask if they could prepare to be baptized before A left for Spokane. They wanted to get baptized together because they are very close friends/cousins and so we "re-set" their baptism date for this past Sunday! The entire time while we were talking to them and to their parents about it and even with our Branch President and his councilors later I was trying to tell myself "what are you doing?" "This is crazy! That is too soon and they aren't ready" "they won't pull through and it will just make things worse in the end" "we should just cut our losses and go home." But of course, I knew deep down and the Spirit was never clearer, that all of that was not true! They were ready! They had done everything within their tiny little nine year old powers to prepare themselves faithfully for the covenant of baptism and the Lord knew that if they were not baptized together on that day that the family might never have a chance like that again. So we moved forward. Still a little unsure exactly on how all of this was going to work, we kept of working with them and within less than 24 hours we taught them the last two lessons, got clothes together, threw together a short program, gathered their families and a lot of the local branch members, and had one of the most spiritual and powerful baptism services I have ever attended. We held it just after church and again I cannot imagine any other way to describe the entire unfolding of events other than, truly MIRACULOUS!!

I love you all  so very much and wish you the best of luck with everything that lies ahead for you this coming week! Be sure to keep an eye out for someone you can help or share the gospel with in this coming week! Kommol tata im bar lo eok!
Yokwe eok!

-Elder Powell

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We act as if we know better, On the edge of his seat, True conversion is a big deal

Baamle yokwe!! :)

 So we started out this week with a good lesson with some of our investigators out in Palolo valley (all the way east of Honolulu). They have been progressing actually very well and we were extremely excited about setting them with a baptismal date this week, but when we got to our second lesson we had scheduled for them that same week we asked if they would set a date for baptism and they said they would....... but they're moving to the mainland on Saturday!! :( Anyway, I put that frowny face there for effect but in the end it's really not that sad of a thing. There were actually on their way over to Arkansas from the Marshall Islands anyway and just had to stop in Hawaii for a little while to save up some more money before making the final move out east, so we were just fortunate enough to get to teach them for the time that we were and to see them change and come unto Christ even in just the few little ways that they did while they were here. We've already talked with them about getting in contact with missionaries over there and they will definitely be continuing the lessons and will hopefully be getting baptized soon enough! So of course we are just excited for them! :)

We also had an AWESOME week for finding new people to teach this week!! We found and started teaching two young girls who are friends with T and E (the two children who got baptized last week) and while the kids are VERY excited about the lessons and church and everything, we are still working on trying to get through to the parents who seem... well... less than enthused with the whole idea... but it's ok! God works in mysterious ways and this would not be the first time I've seen him work through two little nine year old girls to soften the hearts of those of us who are a little older and act as if we "know better".

We also started teaching a new family that we have been trying to contact for quite some time now and while they were a little hesitant at first about everything, once we really got into the lesson and they started to feel the spirit it was like you could see something change from inside them and they committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and we have a return appointment set up and we're just super excited about it!!! :)

So we also have one of our young men who has just been a SUPER awesome member missionary for us these past few weeks! He lives right next to this other part member family that we have been trying to work with and have dinners with all the time and one day we were talking with him and his friend walked up and we kind of knew the friend already, but he just stopped his friend and asked us, "hey elders, can anyone go to youth conference?" and of course we said "yes, as long as they get registered beforehand." Then he turned to his friend and said "hey, you should come to youth conference with me this year!" Both my companion and I were struck by his boldness in inviting him to not only attend youth conference but also in inviting him to take lessons with him from us, but I think more so than anything I personally was just astonished and impressed by his sincerity in everything he said! I mean when he invited him to come with him and meet with us, you could just tell that he was not doing that out of obligation or just because we were standing there and he wanted to look good in front of us. He was simply being a great friend and reaching out to someone he obviously cared about and trying to share with him some of the things that he enjoyed doing like going to youth conference and meeting with us. I might add this boy has asked us before on multiple occasions to teach him lessons, not because he is less active or because he wants to show off to his friends or anything, he just wants to learn for the sake of learning!

Anyway, I was also super impressed with how he went about asking his friend because he didn't say "hey will you meet with the Elders!" or even "can we teach you about the church" or anything like that. He said "elders can you have a lesson with the two of us". That may be paraphrasing a bit... but basically it was just super cool how he said it because he was super humble and the way it came across was pretty much "hey man, I'm still learning too but I do know that what the missionaries teach is important and so I want to share it with you, so will you come over to my house and we can have lessons together and then we can help each other to come closer to Christ." I don't remember his exact words but the message of what he was saying was super clear and super humble and sincere and it was just awesome!! I think Elder Teerlink and I both learned a lot from the example of that young man and I know that he will be a great full-time missionary someday, because even now, without a name tag or fancy bag, he is still being an amazing full-time missionary in everything he says and does and just the person he is!

Anyway, so we started teaching his friend (who I might add is ALSO amazing and super humble and sincere and just a really really great guy! I mean this kid is just solid!!!) The lessons have gone GREAT so far! In fact within about a week’s time we taught all three of the main lessons we teach people (The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, and The Gospel of Jesus Christ) and all three of them were super spiritual lessons and the whole time I (the new youth we just started teaching) was quite literally "on the edge of his seat"! He was tuned into not only us but more importantly he was tuned in with the Spirit and was progressing great... until the realization finally set in of just what our message meant for him....

You see... his family are all very active over at the Assemble of God church and they are very strong in their faith and their relationship with Jesus Christ, and so while he was and still is EXTREMELY enthusiastic about learning more about the man whom he has already committed his heart to... when the reality set in that he would have to kind of leave behind his current church to attend ours, it was a tough break to him... and honestly seeing the look in his eyes as he tried to comprehend everything, I couldn't help but feel just the slightest a twinge of sadness and sympathy for him. I mean it is a really tough thing we are asking not only him but everyone we teach to do... I was at a loss for words and while the lesson still ended on a great spiritual note and we went our separate ways still as close as before, it was a really tough lesson and a hard situation just because, well it's not easy to ask people to change!

I mean, I've been asking people to change their lives now for over a year and a half and I thought I had it down, but then in that single moment, I saw myself, sitting there on a small crate in what can only be described as the slums of Waipahu, having missionaries pose that same question, in that same circumstance, to me. I saw myself, just for the smallest moment, as if I was in his place, and man... IT WAS TOUGH!! I mean, I have had to make some really tough choices in my own personal life before, that choice, in that way, was never really one of them. And so I believe with all my heart, that just for the tiniest instant, God let me see myself through I's eyes... he let me feel in even just the tiniest way, how it feels to be on the other side and WOW did that soften my own heart.

Sometime I think we can become a little complacent with just how big of a deal the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ really is and we take for granted those truths that have become practically common place for us and stop giving them the absolute awe and wonder and significance that they truly deserve! Even more so though I worry that as members of his church at sometimes that we might even lose sight of just how big of a deal TRUE CONVERSION to the gospel of Jesus Christ really is! I don't care if you were baptized when you were 8 or 80! We still ALL need to become TRULY CONVERTED to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize just how big of a deal that is!!

Anyway, so in other HUGE news!! We had a baptism this past week also!!! :D It went GREAT! J is a SUPER solid kid and hopefully will be just the example that his family and friends over at the pink building need to start coming out more frequently! We're excited to keep working with him and help him as he prepares to get the priesthood now soon! :) The child of record was also great and she and her family are of course excited about everything as well! :)

Well, I hope you know just how much I truly do love you all and that you will as always be in my thoughts and in my prayers. Please remember to try and find ways to help our those around you this next week and to be a missionary at all times, after all we're all full-time missionaries because everyone is constantly watching us and we need to represent Christ appropriately just like we promised we would when we were baptized! :) haha!) Well, have a FANTASTIC week and as always DON'T FORGET TO BE AWESOME! :) 

Kommol tata im bar lo eok!!

Yokwe eok!! :)
-Elder Powell

p.s. Here's a couple fun pictures from this HUGE Marshallese party we went to for this man who turned 93 last week! :) haha! While 93 is of course a very exciting age, I think these people will just find any reason to throw a huge party anyway! There is seriously a party like this at the church almost every week! haha!