Its been a while! There is so much to talk about but I only get an hour to email now so I'll make it quick! First off President Hillier personally took Elder Walton and I to the SLC airport and we took a short flight to San Francisco and met up with the rest of our MTC district. We barely had any lay over time in San Fran because our SLC flight got delayed like 2 hours but it all worked out.... thank goodness. From San Fran we took a 13 hour flight to Auckland New Zealand which was crazy long but I managed to get some sleep. In Auckland we had like an 8 hour layover which was also crazy long but saying I've been to New Zealand is pretty awesome. Let's just say it'd be nice to have a vacation there. From Auckland we got on a flight to Port Vila Vanuatu! The moment I stepped off the plane onto the tarmac in Vanuatu I felt like a truck hit me. The humidity change from Salt Lake to Port Vila was absolutely insane. The Elders going to New Cal got to stay in Port Vila for 2 days for some orientation stuff and we got to go to presidents house etc. Vanuatu is a super cool place. Felt like I was back in Fiji :)))) So we landed in Vanuatu Wednesday and then flew out to New Cal Friday morning. Seeing New Cal from the air was stunning. The whole island is like a jungle of mountains... it's really cool. The weather here in New Cal isn't quite as hot or humid as Vanuatu but its still enough to make you feel REALLY unconformable in church clothes all day haha.
My new trainer's name is Elder Conger! Funny story... I actually met him in the MTC. He left 4 days after I got to the MTC and now he's my trainer!!!!! He has literally been out on his mission for a transfer longer than I have which is kinda crazy to think about but we do our best! He knows just enough French to get by so its been an interesting first few weeks. Our area is called Ducos which is the North Western part of Noumea. I really enjoy it here! We get quite a diverse set of people in our area. Some who just live in squats in the swamp and some in big apartment buildings!
The first few days here I couldn't pick up on a single word anyone was saying. The accent here is really unique. It's not a typical french haha. It's like a mix of a Tahitian accent and a mainland France accent. Its really hard to understand. After about 2 weeks however I am starting to pick up on what people are saying. Slowly but surely! Oh, I also really love my new mission president! President and Sister Granger! They are from Australia and are always super happy and funny. Till next week!
Some pictures! Zone Conference, View from my apartment in New Cal, View from Presidents house in Vanuatu.
This week has been really fun! Last P-day we had a zone BBQ for our departing missionaries. Sister Parker the Polynesian sister in our zone did most of the cooking and it was super good! We also had another solid dunk ball game but Elder Lyons twisted his ankle pretty bad.
Tuesday we got to go to the departing missionary temple trip! I was so glad that president invited us. Its going to be my last temple trip in 2 years!! First time in the Salt Lake Temple and it was amazing. I think I understand why it took 40 years now haha. After the temple trip I went on exchanges with another greenie named Elder Canann. Both brand new and we had a full day of plans. Pretty crazy day.
Wednesday Elder Canann and I got a get a car from mission office to borrow because of Elder Lyons injury. It was super convenient because right when we got the car it started dumping snow. For dinner after we switched back from exchanges and Elder Lyons and I got to go to an early thanksgiving party which went pretty well. We got to talk to a bunch of RM's about their missions and stuff. That night we also had to drive all the way out to West Valley which is way outside the mission boundaries for a baptismal interview for a Swahili refugee. Driving on a Utah Highway in snow is pretty sketchy not gonna lie.
Thanksgiving morning Elder Lyons and I played in an awesome turkey bowl in the snow! We also had like 3 dinner appointments which was a little chaotic but it was some good food. I think I might've gained like 10 pounds but no shame. We also got permission to go see President Hillier and his family at the mission home down in cottonwood heights! Felt right at home there it was awesome.
Friday we spent contacting a ton. Highland Park Ward has some 90 perspective Elders so we just spent most of the day knocking that list out. Contacting is a whole lot easier with a car. Surprisingly a lot of people were opening their doors so we actually got to talk to people.
Saturday we spent time contacting some more and we got transfer info! As of right now Elder Lyons and I are going to be in a trio this upcoming week until I leave next Monday. We still don't know who will be the third but we find out tomorrow.
Sunday we went to like 5 wards. Paula didn't come to church again for some reason. We are still having lessons and she still keeps other commitments but she doesn't make it to church! I really hope I find out what happens in the future after I'm gone. Sunday evening we went to a really cool fireside at the Swahili branch. A Polynesian choir called Divine Heritage gave an awesome performance and the departing missionaries in our zone gave testimonies etc. I might not get to E-mail next Monday so I'll E-mail when I can.
This last week went by so fast! I felt like last P-day was yesterday! Crazy how time flys. Last P-day our zone went on a beautiful hike in the mountains behind U of U. It was so pretty up there! Ill attach pictures at the bottom. After our hike we basically got locked up in the mission office all night because we are not allowed to proselyte on Halloween. All the missionaries in the valley came and we all got to watch The Other Side of Heaven. After the movie we had a devotional with Mitch Davis, the director and producer of the movie! Apparently he is best friends with president Hillier haha. It was so cool to hear about the making of the movie. The fact that the movie even exists is a miracle! It kinda got me thinking about New Caledonia again. I got word that my Visa came through. Not sure of exact departure date.
Tuesday I went on my first exchanges with Elder Larson. He is a super cool Elder with a great testimony. Apparently his Dad is like an executive of Post cereal so we all get unlimited cereal basically haha. He's the one holding up the ripped jeans in the picture. On the hike he managed to completely destroy his jeans. I couldn't stop laughing.
Wednesday Elder Lyons and I had another lesson with Paula. She is still progressing great! She is still on track to get baptized on the 19th. Oh and we also had some messed up brownies after a ward mission leader correlation. They had waaay too much vanilla and Elder Lyons almost puked haha.
Thursday I had to go on splits with another greenie. We both didn't know what we were doing exactly but it was a good experience. We stayed in Elder Lyons and I's area and I kinda felt like a trainer haha it was strange.
Friday we had a really powerful lesson with a recent convert that has kinda gone inactive. Ever since his father in law passed away he felt like God had robbed him. I think he only really joined the church because of his father in law but we are trying to build his own personal testimony. I've seen that quite a bit here. There are so many inactive members. Alot of these people never really had a testimony of the savior to begin with. We cannot rely on the testimonies of others nor can we have a testimony of the church as a whole. It just isn't good enough. We all need to develop a personal relationship with the Savior. This week a scripture in 2 Nephi 23:26 really hit me. It talks about why the scriptures even exist. So that we can learn of Christ. Studying the scriptures is so important. Really studying them. Reading for an understanding. Reading the scriptures is an absolute waste of time if we don't actually take the time to understand and learn from every single verse.
Saturday was kinda rough. Pretty much everything fell through except our dinner appointment haha. Elder Lyons always says that missionaries are happiest when they are teaching and that is the truth!
Sunday was my first fast Sunday in the field! I woke up with a terrible cold and not getting to eat. It was a rough morning but got better as the day went on. Fast Sundays are just hard. We have to work and ride our bikes all day and fast. Having a cold didn't help either but it all worked out. Till next week!
This last week has been absolutely awesome! Elder Walton and I woke up at 3am Tuesday morning to send Elder Graf and Kennedy off to California. Then at 6:20 we hopped on a bus then took the front runner train up to our mission! The first day was awesome! President and Sister Hillier are awesome! They are so incredibly dedicated to their work. President Hillier used to be an area 70 so he has gone on tons of assignments with apostles and such. He has such a powerful testimony of this work!
My trainer is Elder Lyons. He is our district leader and he's been out for about 15 months. He is from southern Mississippi. He is a really cool guy and a great trainer! We got white washed into a brand new area covering 2 stakes! I have no idea why President Hillier trusts me to cover a brand new area but it's awesome! My area has Highland High School in it which is the one with the Rugby team in Forever Strong. Its actually really close to the Christensen's house haha. Their stake is just outside of our area though.
This first week has been spent getting to know 12 wards across the 2 stakes that we cover. Its kinda crazy because we have to coordinate with 12 ward mission leaders across the 2 stakes but we are getting the hang of it. Our first full day in the area we got a new investigator named Paula and she is already on date to be baptized November 19th! She was already so prepared to hear the message of the gospel it is a miracle! Also we have been teaching many less active people here as well. About a third of the people in our area are less active with another third being members and the final third being non-members. It is crazy how many people already know so much about the church here even if they are non members. The mission as a whole actually gets a lot of baptisms. There are tons of refugees in our mission from all over the world. Our mission is english but there are wards in Korean, Swahili, Chinese, Thai and so many more. Lots of english missionaries teach refugees with translators its really cool to see. I got to meet a family of refugees who were all getting baptized from central Africa. They spoke Swahili! They were all so happy and nice to us Elders it was super cool!
I still don't have a bike yet so Elder Lyons and I have been walking everywhere. I am trying to get a bike that I can borrow from the mission office for a short time. I pretty sure we've walked 20 miles in the last week it's crazy but I enjoy it. Email you next week!!
So as you heard I am headed to the Salt Lake East mission for the time being. If my Visa comes sooner I still have stay until the end of the transfer so I'll be in Salt Lake for at least 6 weeks. I got the package and read your talk for Stake Conference! It is super powerful. Just reading it on my own brought the spirit really strongly! Thank you for all the treats! :) I am not too concerned about the Visa not coming through. From what I've heard its getting the Vanuatu Visa that always holds everyone back because we have to get them for Vanuatu and New Cal as far as I know. Also the Christensen's are in my mission! It would be cool if I got to see them again! The majority of the Salt Lake East mission is actually Wyoming. The mission covers about a quarter of Wyoming. Jackson Hole is just North of my mission boundary. Also its cool that Jane is already getting married! I think she really needs this. I guess I will get to meet Eric when I get back?
As for this week at the MTC its been awesome! My district and I had In-Field Orientation yesterday for like 7 hours which was crazy but it was really helpful. It really stressed how important it is to involve members and to work well with members to help with missionary work. Also earlier this week we had a devotional on Tuesday with Elder Bednar!!!! Him and his wife spoke at the pulpit together about how important it is to study general conference. He played little clips from many talks and broke each talk down into 3 categories: Doctrine or Principle, Invitation to act and Promised blessings. It felt like I was having a companionship study with an apostle! He basically said studying General Conference is just as important as studying the standard works. It was very powerful. Speaking about General Conference I really felt a connection with Elder Nelson's talk which was all about joy. I thought that was really cool because I was just talking with the second counselor in our branch presidency, Brother Markham, about what joy really means. Joy is something beyond happiness. Its a divine uplifting feeling that our spirits experience. We were discussing how anyone without the spirit can feel happiness/pleasure but you have to have the spirit with you to feel joy.
It's crazy to think that we only have 4 days left here but I am excited to get into the field! I leave Tuesday at 6:30 to take a train up to Salt Lake. Should be an awesome 6 weeks until I get to head out to New Caledonia!
Bonne Chance with your talk on Sunday! I wish I could be there!
Here are a few pictures. View from the residence, Gathering for "Chanter" (we all sing a closing Hymn together every night) and a picture with one of the "Benin Boys" who left to Benin, Africa a little while ago.
So this last week at the MTC has been great! Today my district and I got our flight plans!! We are going to San Fran first then to Auckland then to Port Vila. I am suuuper excited to get out to the field! Also watching conference this last weekend has been a huge blessing. Seeing the general authorities give such profound messages from a missionary perspective is really really cool. Its hard to believe how much I've learned from being here in just the last 5 weeks. From the language to gospel principles.
It turns out that we had to move residences today because they are doing construction on our building so a few hours out of our P-day was used to move from 12M to 16M. Its kinda weird that we have to move to a new building for just a week but its fine.
It was really hard this week to see so many people from our zone go. We all got so close to them but C'est la vie! I really hope I can meet up with these people after our missions!
I'll send some final pictures from the MTC next week! And as far as I know I don't need anything before I leave the country. Although I've heard basic everyday necessities are really expensive in New Cal so I'm not quite sure yet. Oh and I forgot to say last week but I got the chance to see the old temple film. It was really cool to see how they did back then!
The time is just flying by in the MTC. Its crazy that we are starting our 4th full week here! We leave in 2 weeks from Monday! I still haven't heard about my visa. My district should be getting our flight plans this up coming week so I think ill find out then. Elder Graf and I have been teaching about 2 lessons everyday now! Its getting a little chaotic but the practice is always great. It does get difficult at times but I still enjoy it. Last Sunday Elder Graf and I got called as the new zone leaders. I really wasn't expecting that but I enjoy the assignment. Its nice to hear from every district and to help the branch presidency out. Also our zone is losing a ton of Elders and Sisters on Tuesday. 21 in total I think. Most of them are heading out to Benin. Its going to be hard to say goodbye. The devotionals this week were great as always! On Sunday Brother Allen gave a great talk on working hard and staying exactly obedient. He got a ton of missionaries involved to share thoughts and scriptures up at the pulpit which was cool. Also its crazy that you have to talk with church leaders!!! I wish I could go to stake conference! Let me know which general authority it is haha. I picked up the package on Monday! Thanks for getting me those things! Also, it was nice to see those pictures from the beach! I can't wait to take some pictures of the beaches in New Cal!
Got some pretty cool pictures from the temple grounds! It snowed a bit on Mt. Timp and the Sun lined right up with the Angel Moroni!
The time here is just flying by! Everyday feels sooo long but when I
look back I feels like I just got here! My halfway mark is on Monday I
think. Our departure date actually got moved to Oct. 17th.
I am super excited to get out to the field. My district and I found a
picture of missionaries in New Caledonia which was really cool. This
last Tuesday we had a great devotional with the MTC District president.
He basically said this Gospel is 100% true or its 100% false and that
there is no gray area in the church. He said we can know for certain of
its truthfulness in the Book of Mormon. I am so greatful to be here
right now. Sometimes it can be really difficult with the long days and
the not so healthy food but its totally worth it. Elder Graf and I teach
a lesson just about everyday now which is tough but it really helps to
understand how to teach. This week was also the first week we got to do
TRC which was a cool experience. We got to teach a really nice old lady,
Sœur Graham. She served in Paris many years ago. She had a lot of cool
stories to tell. That's about it for this week!
So about general conference though. I didn't get into the
missionary choir unfortunately but they are singing at the priesthood
session. Also the Visa stuff is all cleared up. I don't think it has
come in yet though.
Grass Hut in New Caledonia taken in 2004 - mounted on MTC wall
This first week at the MTC has been crazy! The first few days were some of the slowest of my life but it's been getting better as time goes on. Everyone says just make it to Sunday and it will get better and its sooo true! Sunday night I got to go to choir which was awesome and we had a devotional with Elder Ballard which was amazing! It was crazy how directly he was talking to us as missionaries. No where else can you get such specific counsel from General Authority's than in the MTC. Right after the devotional we went to a church film and my district and I watched Elder Bednar's "Character of Christ" talk which was hands down one of the best talks I have ever heard. I have never heard an apostle speak so profoundly in my life. If there is a way to listen or watch that talk somehow I HIGHLY recommend it. There was also another devotional on Tuesday night with Elder Cook and his wife which was also super great. Elder Cook gave a powerful personal testimony that he knew the Savior's voice and face. The Spirit was so strong at that devotional especially because we performed our first choir number Nearer My God to Thee. There is something special about singing with 1000+ other Elders and Sisters. I am pretty sure there will be an MTC choir singing at general conference but only about 300 of the 1200 people get to go so I don't know if I will be going yet. I really really want to sing at General Conference though. I think that would be an awesome experience.
Yesterday Elder Graf and I just finished teaching our first "investigator" which was quite a humbling and slightly discouraging experience. Teaching in French when you barely know French is quite the task but I know the language will come eventually. It's lunch time right now so I will send another Email with some pictures a little bit later. Also, I was wondering if you started a blog for my mission or not?
Also I had an awesome session at the temple today! Its so nice to get to do a session once a week. Also our zone gets to do a little extra temple work by helping with all the temple laundry every week which is always fun. Here are some of the pictures.