Mission Address

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

At the top of a roller coaster, Musical fireside, Live up to the legacy

Aloha kakahiaka ohana!!!

What a wonderful week it sounds like you all had! I hope that things have continue to go super swell for all of you this coming week too!!! :) I know things are definitely looking up for us here in Kane'ohe as well!

 One of the greatest parts about coming to a new area is that from the second you get there you just get these new thrills and excitement seeing the potential that rests in every ward or branch here in Hawaii!! It's almost like sitting up at the top of a large roller coaster and knowing that any second things will start to pick up speed and before you know it you will be caught in one of the most exhilarating and thrilling rides of your life! So it is with this area! We've had a little slow start this past week and I've tried to adjust to walking again and all of the extra time that can take from our day, but I'm slowly getting the hang of the area, learning the names of families and I'm sure that by next week I will have TONS of new miracles to report on! Still that being said this past week has of course been full of all sorts of miracles itself! :)

Saying goodbye to everyone from the Marshallese branch was of course challenging and full of tender emotions, but the warm welcome that we received here has more than matched the farewells of the past and I am definitely grateful to be back here in Kane'ohe! Sure enough I've already run into a TON of my past members at church (since the 4th ward meets right after us) and a few at the mall or other places. But I've also already gotten to know a lot of the WONDERFUL families here in the 3rd ward! :) They are great! We had a dinner with a young family originally from Prescott, where we talked a lot with their 18 year old son (who is finishing his mission papers right now) about serving a mission and helped resolve some of his concerns and apprehensions, and with his two younger brothers (10 and 8) about everything from Star Wars to Doctor Who to Marvel vs. DC comics! they are a hoot! :) hahaha!

We also had a musical fireside last night centered around the Savior in which each of the auxiliaries sent up a representative to talk about the Savior and share a short spiritual message and then the quorum or group got up and sang a song together... of course I was "volun-told" to give the spiritual thought for the EQ seeing as I wasn't here last Sunday when they decided so I couldn't say no :P haha! But it went well and I am grateful for any opportunity to bear witness of the Savior and his love for each of us! I talked a bit about how I've served in SO many different areas now and among so many different peoples and cultures and languages and the one thing that they all have in common is the love which the Savior has for them, which love we get to feel at least a part of as missionaries and truly that love has been the same for every area I've served it!

Anyway, the musical number went good too although I was unfortunately standing directly behind the bishop and so I couldn't hide my voice and was therefore promptly recruited to the tenor section of the ward choir! :P haha! It's ok though! I'm grateful for the chance to use the talents I have been given! I also am excited because apparently the bishop’s wife here plays the violin and we live with them so she said I can probably use it sometime which will be fun to pick up again! :) haha!

Oh and speaking of our bishop, so his name is Bishop Pasikala and he said to let Grandpa Groberg know that I was living with them and serving with them and that his Dad (Bishop Pasikala's dad that is) says hi (or Malo e lelei I suppose). I guess Bro. Pasikala and Grandpa worked very closely together when he was mission president over there in Tonga, so yeah! Again I am running into all sorts of people who know Grandpa and as always it inspires me to try and be a little better and live up to the legacy he has set for us all! :) Love you grandpa! :)

Anyway, so really quick, other super cool things happening! We just started teaching this young mother named T and we're super excited about it! I guess she basically just walked into church a couple of weeks ago and told the elders she wants to have lessons! (I wish they would all do that! Then we wouldn't have to do so much tracting! haha!) Anyway, she has a lot of good friends in the church and has felt like she's always being drawn back to it so we're super duper excited to keep on teaching her! :)
Oh! also, so my new companion Elder Kirkham is great! He is from Blackfoot, Idaho (I know, crazy right? he's not from Utah! haha) and has been out now for about 6 months. I actually saw him "born" (in mission terms) over on Kaua'i when I was there! He is a good worker and is excited to be here in the ward which is always helpful. haha! He's been showing me around and I'm really impressed with how well he knows everyone over here already even after only being here for a month and a half! So yeah! This is going to be great!

Well anyway, speaking of my companion I think he's about ready to go so we should probably head out... but again as always thank you for everything you do and for your wonderful example to all those around you! I love you all to pieces! Aloha nui loa!!

-Elder Powell

p.s. we did a hike this morning that was a ton of fun! This is the beautiful Kane'ohe bay! :) I love it over here!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A bit like Voldemort, Returning "home", The Master Gardner

FAMILY!!! Wow... so much to say and literally no time this week to say it!!! We have our day absolutely PACKED as we have a few appointments and other activities already planned. Here is a super quick review of this past week and the few BIG surprises that came to us with it...

Surprise #1:
I got the call this past week that I will actually be getting transferred from the Marshallese Branch.... :( I kind of saw it coming as I've been here for three transfers already (approximately 4 1/2 months) which is a pretty average time for any one area... but still I was and still am very torn up by the idea of having to leave the people and the language and culture that I have come to love SO much! I was kind of hoping that since we've had so much work going on for us over here that we could convince our mission president to keep us together or to split me and Elder Teerlink up and give us each a new companion and we could just have four elders working in the one branch because honestly we've been so busy we could use the extra help! But I suppose it wasn't what the Lord had in mind for me or the branch at this time, and so I once again find myself slowly but surely packing everything into my bags and preparing to leave another piece of my heart in another place that I have truly come to love.

I feel a bit like Voldemort leaving little parts of my soul in different places... I'm really starting to spread myself thin! Only this is like a GOOD kind of Horcrux based off of love not murder... haha! Anyway, like I told the branch this past Sunday when I spoke to them for the last time, I just can't be selfish and continue to take all the blessings of serving over here. It is someone else's turn to fall in love with the people and to feel of the unmeasured blessings that come as a part of serving here in the Waipahu 3rd branch. So I've gotta go and give them that chance. It is sad, but it will all work out in the end, and I am VERY excited someday to share with you all the wonderful people and culture here in the Marshallese branch!! :) Anyway, moving right along though....

Surprise #2:
So what perhaps surprised me even more than the news that I was leaving Waipahu was when I found out where I would be leaving to! After almost a full year and a half of being away, I will finally be returning home!!! No, not home home as in Arizona, but to my first "mission home" in good old Kane'ohe zone!!! In fact I am about as close to my "greenie ward" as I could possibly be! If you recall I started my mission in the Kane'ohe 4th ward where I spent a solid 6 months! (the longest time I've spent in any of my areas) and now I am going to be able to spend my last 3 months in the Kane'ohe 3rd ward! Literally just across the road from the 4th ward boundaries!! I am super excited!! :) I actually already know some of the members and people over there and am pretty familiar with the area as well so hopefully I won't be getting too lost while I'm there.

Luke at the start of his mission - now he's going back to his first area
 What makes it even better is I found out that just like when I was in Kane'ohe before... I won't have a car again! haha! I know it's kind of a strange blessing, but man, believe me it is a blessing! I actually will have bikes from what I understand which will be good compared to when I was in K4 ward and I only had my own two feet, but I'm just excited to be able to get out on the streets again and really be able to talk to people and share the gospel with everyone we come in contact with and just be seen out there spreading the good word! :) Also, it will be good to help me get back into shape after a good dozen of the Marshallese parties and all of the fried chicken and rice that they feed us :P haha!

Surprise #3:
So I just found out this past week from one of the senior missionaries at the mission office that because of a change in the MTC program they will be extending the June transfer from a six week transfer to a SEVEN week transfer which wouldn't really be of any significance... except that that is my LAST transfer on the mission! Which means that while I was originally supposed to fly home on July 14th red-eye and be in AZ early morning on the 15th, I will now be flying home the 21st and arrive on the 22nd of July.  

So yeah... those were just a few of the unending surprises that seem to come to us each and every week out here in the mission field! Honestly I'm sure there were more but I don't have the time to try to remember them all right now so if they do come back to me I will just throw them on the end of my next e-mail home. But now a few quick closing statements which, hopefully, will not come as a surprise to any of you back home!

Mok tata, na yokwe aolep! (First off, I love you all!) I really do! I wish I had words which would could express that love a little better but frankly I don't think there are such words in existence, at least not in our current vernacular, so I will just say, I love you! :) I hope that all of you have an absolutely FANTASTIC week and that you all will continue to find ways in which to serve other people and to continue being such great examples everywhere you go of what a disciple of Christ should be like! I wish you the best of love and again, I love you and miss you all like crazy! Have a wonderful week!! Yokwe aolep im bar lo komiro!!!

-Elder Powell

The tree being cut down
p.s. I was VERY sad to see those pictures and hear the news about the good 'ol tree in the front yard... I honestly don't know what I will do when I get home or if I will even be able to recognize the place because the yard will be so bare... still... I couldn't help but think of what I actually just wrote in my journal a few days ago when I got the news that I would be getting transferred and I would like to share it with you... 

"I have often heard the story told by a general authority a long time ago (and I can't remember which one it was) about a man who bought a plot of land and began to cultivate it and turn it again into a thriving farm for his family. One day while working in the field he came across a very large and wild current bush whose branches reached high in the sky with pride as if to say "look how far I have come!" The gardener however took a pair of shears and began to chop away at the bush pruning it back down until it was little more than a stump. When he was finally done, he noticed at the end of each little remaining branch a small drop of sap, almost like a tear, coming from the plant as if it were crying. As he watched this he thought as though he could hear it little bush say to him "how could you do this to me!? When I had come so far and made so much growth, how could you cut me down like that?!" To which the man replied "now listen little current bush, I am the master gardener and I know what I want you to be! And that isn't a shade tree or a large shrubbery. I want you to be a current bush and I had to cut you down so that you branches would again grow tame and you could bring for good fruit." Much later and after much more care the man came out again to the little bush, still very small, only this time its lush branches were filled to almost overflowing with fruits. As he looked again upon the small but fruitful current bush, he thought as though he heard it say again to him, "thank you, thank you for loving me enough to hurt me."

Anyway, that is super paraphrased of course and not the entire journal entry, but the point being that while I was having a hard time this past week with accepting that I had to leave this area and these people after so much hard work and dedication and with so much still to be done, I remembered that even if I were to feel "cut down" at this time that I was and always will be "in the hands of the Master Gardener" and that he always knows what is best for his children and what will yield the most and the best fruits and so I just keep on pushing forward. Anyway, I know that doesn't have a ton to do with the whole tree getting cut down, but still it just kind of popped into my head while I looked at those pictures and read you e-mail about losing the tree and felt like I should share it. Well anyway, I've gotta go. We're going to be late for dinner! haha! Anyway, have a great week! Love you all again so much! yokwe eok!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SO BUSY! The Lord MORE than meets our efforts.

Mok tata, Yokwe aolep!!!!!!

What a WONDERFUL report this week from everyone!! Thank you all SO SO much for your love and for your prayers and for your e-mails and everything on my behalf! You are seriously just the greatest people ever! :) I love you more than words can describe! It's funny how having been away for so long seems to only have increased the love I have for all of you and the desire to share so many of the miracles that we have been seeing each and every day in this great and marvelous latter-day work! :) Although I would LOVE to tell you about EVERYTHING that happened this week (and believe me there was a LOT to report on this past week) we actually have to run really soon to go play tennis with this very sweet lady who lives across the hall from us at our apartment! She is a non-member but out of the kindness of her heart is constantly dropping off little loafs of banana nut bread or kim-chi soup and just asked if we could go play tennis when she saw us coming in from playing it last p-day. Anyway, so really REALLY fast update on this past week!

We had JR's confirmation this last week and it went GREAT! He is such an awesome guy and it also excited to be the newest member of the Priest's quorum here (although he still attends the Elder's Quorum class which is more fitting because of his age!) Anyway, he is doing wonderful and we are excited to help him continue on his path towards the temple and his family getting sealed one-year from now! :)

We also had an exciting but VERY exhausting day on Friday as our mission president and the assistants put together what they called "fasting finding Friday" where we had a special mission wide fast, specifically to find new investigators and people to teach, and then we went out and just tracted all day, (from 10am-9pm, not including dinner and other pre-scheduled appointments). Anyway, Elder Teerlink and I actually didn't do too much tracting ourselves since we don't really have a geographical "area" that we could go and tract houses in. So we just took all of these SUPER old teaching records from the past quite a few years that had just been collecting dust on our selves, as well as some of our potential investigator lists, and just hit the pavement! It was amazing! We talked to everyone possible on the street and in different places we went to and found a ton of new potential investigators for ourselves and to refer to other people, and we also found a total of SEVEN NEW INVESTIGATORS in ONE DAY! It was fantastic! We are both super excited to keep working with all of these new people that we found too! :)

Anyway, speaking of new investigators. You are probably wondering who keeps sending those random pictures! So a week or so ago I think you got a random picture of me and my companion filling up our car at a 7/11 in Ewa beach. Jump ahead a few weeks and we're in our house doing our companionship study, when suddenly we get a call from a random number. It was a member who lives in La'ie but who works down in Ewa beach, and she has a co-worker who is Marshallese and who had been asking a lot of questions about the church and wanted to learn more about what we believed and everything. So the member ended up getting our number somehow and set up an appointment for her friend for yesterday and we over to go teach her, and who would have thought, but it was the same member that randomly took our picture and sent it to you guys at the 7/11 a week or so ago! haha! Anyway, so long story short, the member and her friend (who just got back from her mission in the Marshall Islands) came and we met this Marshallese lady and her daughter at a place called Don Quiote's and we had the whole first lesson, and it went GREAT! They might not know it yet, but they are seriously SO amazing and just the golden investigators that everybody prays for and that this branch could REALLY use! They took the commitment to read and pray about the pamphlet and other stuff that we left with them and we got a return appointment set up for this next Saturday so we are SUPER excited about all of that! :) Anyway, I will be sure to keep you up to date! I really wish I could go more in depth on everything but we just don't have the time to! :P

So, basically I could sum up the entire rest of this past week in one sentence. WE ARE SO BUSY!!! I know I've probably said that a dozen times in this one e-mail alone but, man, that word just describes our lives so perfectly right now! It is wonderful!! There is nothing better than to be anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord and I have come to learn that he MORE than meets our efforts and gives us the strength to do things that we otherwise would NEVER be able to do! We are even starting to fall behind on sleep and hardly have time even think about eating anymore because we are just running all over the island trying to cram in lessons and appointments and service and giving blessings and all of that stuff and there is just not enough time in the week to do it all! But still, it is just wonderful! :) We have actually been kind of petitioning to get a second set of missionaries here in the branch to help us cover all of the work that we have been trying to do by ourselves. In fact there is so much happening here now that I highly doubt we could get to all of it even with two sets of missionaries here! haha! It is wonderful! :)

Anyway, well hey, we gotta run, but I hope that you all have a FANTASTIC week! Again, know that I love you and will be praying for you constantly! Stay strong, carry on, and as always, don't forget to be awesome!! :)

Bar yokwe eok!
-Elder Powell

Thursday, April 7, 2016

No joking, Counting miracles, What? Another one?!

Yokwe baamle!!
Sorry again about not being able to e-mail more yesterday. By the time we finished the surprise service project that came up and got showered and everything, we were already having to run to dinner and so we barely had time to even say "I'll be on tomorrow" and even then we were still pretty late to dinner cause of traffic. But anyway, enough about why I couldn't e-mail before, I should probably just jump into the e-mailing today while I still have time because we have a ton to do but we also have a TON to report on from this past week!

So first off, I have to say that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THAT IS SAY IN THIS E-MAIL is going to be an April Fool’s joke! It may sound like it because of how incredibly awesome and miraculous a lot of it was, but it all really happened! "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me, but behold I say unto you..." It's not! haha! So! Here are just a few of the MANY miracles from this past week.

Miracle #1:
We started out the week with a dinner/lesson with one of our investigator families that we've been teaching, well actually it's not really an investigator family. It's really just one big pretty darn active member family with one non-member fiancĂ© in the family. But still…so we visited with them and had a great time together and then almost the entire rest of their Family Home Evening was spent in discussion as they found the best and closest date possible for their daughter and soon-to-be-son-in-law to get married so that he can get baptized and they settled on April 23rd!! So we're super excited for them and sure that everything will go great for the whole family! (also I'm going to need to start saving up money for a plane ticket back over to Hawaii in about one year from that day because they are excitedly working towards getting sealed in the temple almost exactly 1 year after the baptism!) :)

Miracle #2
We were down at the pink building (the central hub for Marshallese all over the island and especially right here in Waipahu) and were trying to have a lesson with one of our recent converts, J, when slowly but surely, one at a time, we had youth and children from all over the place start joining in. We normally just have lessons outside at this table in the courtyard at pink building and sure enough, by the end of the lesson we had around 6 kids listening intently, some members, some not, it was great! We went back quite a few time throughout the rest of the week and just from that one lesson we now have got about 3-4 new investigators/less-actives to add to our teaching pool!

Miracle #3
We have had so many lessons this past week that we even had to split with some of the other elders so that we could be in two places at once! What is extra special about all of this though is that it seems to be pretty much all new investigators/less-active families that we've never met before, so that coupled with the already large teaching pool we have has kept us SUPER busy which is not just a HUGE blessing but honestly a miracle as it has really stretched us and helped us to be patient, but diligent, and to be strict with time, but also to still be flexible and always make time to serve others. (Such as yesterday! haha!)

Miracle #4
What a blessing and miracle the true priesthood is and how great it is to be able to be worthy to use it at all times. We have had to give multiple blessings to different members throughout the whole week including one to someone's son who was admitted into the hospital in pretty bad condition after having two consecutive seizures. We are all very hopeful that he will recover. Still it was remarkable to see the faith and strength of his young father as he called upon his Priesthood leaders almost instinctively for assistance and they then contacted us and we went to give the priesthood blessing he was requesting. We also had another chance this week to use the priesthood in a VERY special way, but I will save that for last! :) haha

Miracle #5
We spent every single second of our weekend either being spiritually fed with the wonderful messages of hope and faith that were delivered over the pulpit at general conference, or sharing that message with others and helping them to be spiritually fed by the words of Christ contained in our message as missionaries. It was such a blessing to be so busy on those already very spiritual days! Because of the time difference, conference starts VERY early in the morning for us, but even from the first rays of sunlight we were already all over the place trying to fit in all the appointments we had! In fact we taught probably close to half of all the lessons we taught for the whole week in just those two days alone!

Among the many wonderful lessons we had in those two days was a lesson with one of the young girls we just baptized a while ago (E) and her mother. In that short time we spent with them we found out that not only was A (the other girl that got baptized with E) and her family still going to church even over in Spokane but that E's parents would be more than happy to start taking the lessons too and that they want to start coming to church more consistently as well! So we're super excited about that!

We also taught some of the other people we are working with over at a place called Jack Hall housing, one of which has a baptism date set for the 16th of this month!!! Technically she is still set for that day but we did have a bit of a sad/scary moment when her father shouted in a slight sort of rage that that she will not be taking lessons with us anymore! We were startled at first, but his other older daughters assured us that he just kind of gets like that sometimes and will be fine in a day or two and that he will probably still let her keep talking to us and be baptized on that day. Still it was quite scary for a while and still makes me a sad to think that things may not work out to at least where I will be here to see her baptism, although I am positive that no matter what, this girl will get baptized sooner or later, she is very smart and sincere and has a strong testimony as does her older sisters who help her in the lessons! :)

 And finally Miracle #6
WE HAD A BAPTISM THIS PAST WEEK!!!!!! :) I know, you're probably thinking, "WHAT?! Another one?!" Because that is exactly what I was thinking and still kind of am thinking even after it already happened! haha! So long story made as short as possible, we have this investigator named J. He has been taking the lessons from missionaries for about 8 years now (possibly even longer I think). He comes to church pretty much every week, is married to an active member and her whole family is super strong in the church, and he's had the lessons probably well over a couple dozen times... in fact probably a LOT more than that! But anyway, so we went over to his house this past Monday night just to kind of visit with them and see how things were going, and as we started we saw from the very get go that something was different. He had this sort of smile on his face that made it clear that something had changed.

So anyway, we went on to share a lesson about temples and sealing families together and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, as if he had been holding it back the entire time, he just blurts out "Friday!" We stopped almost mid-sentence and looking at him said... "What?" and he repeated "Friday! ...I want to get baptized this Friday!!" We weren't sure what to say! Of course we weren't going to say NO though! haha! So we frantically scrambled to set things up and guess what? IT HAPPENED! He got baptized this last Friday!!! :D It was amazing! It truly was a miracle!! I still to this day don't know exactly what caused him to have a change of heart, but all I know is what he told us. Simple enough, he said "after you came on Saturday to set up the appointment for Monday, a date just sort of popped into my head and I though, hey, that's when I am supposed to get baptized!" So he did! What an awesome example of faith and of acting on the promptings of the spirit without hesitation!

 The baptism went great and what made it even batter is that now they too are on track and VERY excited for one year from now when they too will go to the temple to be sealed to each other and their four children for time and for all eternity!! :) (as a bonus he actually works with and is great friends with the investigator who is getting baptized in a few weeks that I talked about in Miracle #1 so they will probably be getting to go to the temple about the same time next year which is WAY exciting!!! :D)

Anyway, thank you for everything you guys are doing and for your wonderful examples of faith to everyone you are surrounded by! I hope you all have a fantastic week! Thank you again for everything and I wish you the best of luck in all of your respective endeavors!!! I love you all like crazy and miss you a ton! Stay strong, carry on and don't forget to be AWESOME!!! :)

Bar yokwe eok!!! :)

-Elder Powell