First Zone Conference

July 20, 2015

Hey Momma,

I have a favorite scripture now! Now that it doesn’t matter any more. But that’s okay, I’ll tell you anyway. It’s 2 Timothy 3:14  But continue thou in the things which thou has learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. Which I know is weird because I’m usually all about the Book of Mormon…. but I’ve been marveling at the Bible for most of the week. It’s really good. And I think if more people read it then there would be a lot more Mormons around.

I wrote Dad a letter encompassing most of my adventures for the week. they were rather few and far between. Well, not really, I guess. It’s just that unless you’re being ridiculously specific, we kind of so the same thing every day. There were a few funny things though.

1) Okay so, some members are super cool and like to give us dinner AND groceries. I won’t go too in depth but just know: we had a lot of eggs. And other stuff too. So we told Elders Tavita and Valdez that before buying any groceries they should check with us to see if we had some to donate to their pad. They called Monday to see if we had eggs. Then I got really excited and told them they could have our eggs. I’m still repenting. Also, still laughing. And yes, I know I’m a terrible missionary.

2) So up on Pupumomi St. we always run into these girls.  They’re super fun and super sweet.  One of them Oriana was telling me about her aunt who is going to have a baby.  Then she asked me, “Are you going to have a baby?” So I looked around sheepishly and said back to her with true concern on my face, “No. Do I look like I’m going to have a baby?” Her older sister, Usualii (about 10 years old) quickly let me know that I didn’t.  Thank goodness.  I swear I haven’t been eating THAT much.

3) Sometimes we get called elders. Also, a lot of times we get called elders.

4) During zone conference we missed a call from Bishop Fuimaono. At lunch Sister Smith said, and I quote, “Should we go kill–er, uh call– Bishop real quick?” Hahaha… yeah. I’m seriously watching my back, like, all the time now.

5) The other day in the car we were really cold. I noticed the temperature outside and said to Sis Smith, “It’s probably because it’s only 93 degrees outside.”  Funny thing?  I meant it.

6) Lemilie Brown. So at zone conference this past week (July 15) President Warner was talking to us about how to handle a situation where someone you’re talking with wants to argue. He had anyone who’d experienced this thus far raise their hands; I just sat there all good and dandy right in the middle of the front row. Shrinking down into my seat. Everyone laughed and Pres. Warner said, “If you haven’t yet, Sister Carlsen, you will.”

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I never doubted that statement, but I do kind of blame it for making the said situation arise so promptly. His name is Lemilie. Or something like that. He’s from Louisiana and is Born Again Christian. Yup.

He knew a lot about Mormons actually. And he clearly thinks we are of the devil–or, at least that we don’t understand the meaning of the cross and Christ’s Atonement enough to be saved.

It started out just fine. Then he somehow secured himself this 20 minute monologue. It was a real show. At first I was patient. Then I spaced out while feigning interest, and then in true Aubrey fashion, I came to and nearly started laughing. This guy: SO THEATRICAL. (Completely animated. Kind of like a determined senile Mushu from Mulan.) I’ll admit it. While my mind was wandering I honestly wondered if he’d been a ballet dancer. I wish you all could’ve been there! It was also slightly scary and time consuming, but great nonetheless.

Thankfully, God is merciful, and just when I was beginning to think that President Warner was wrong and that there isn’t ALWAYS a way out, He answered my desperate beyond desperate prayers and the elders came by to intervene.

I love elders–in a totally “my-heart-is-locked” sort of way. Obviously.

AGH.  God is so cool!  Firstly, Jacob chapter 4 is amazing.  Also, I love Joseph Smith. Which I already told you with the “Praise to the Man” story, but still worth mentioning.  Thirdly, I’ve been kind of bored in the Book of Mormon the past few days.  I’m in Mormon and roughly 230,000 people have died in battles (No joke. Count it for yourself: Mormon 6) and it was getting a little old. Then came chapter 7.  Whoa. So…..right NOW I’m just really feeling the Bible. It started last week after meeting with a less active—Joseph.

Joseph is very unique and has explored and practiced many religions ranging from Hinduism to atheism to Mormonism. . . the list goes on. Basically though, I left his pad feeling pretty lost because I didn’t even have enough personal knowledge to know if what he was telling us was accurate. Since then, I’ve made it priority to study aspects of the RESTORED gospel as relayed through the Bible. It’s been crazy. It is extremely cool and equally frustrating because, like I said before, and like I keep on saying to Sister Smith (I wouldn’t blame her if she’s tired of me): If people would just read the Bible, with fresh eyes, open minds and renewed motivation, along with, of course, a genuine interest and curiosity then they would recognize the genius, AKA truth of our church.

It’s all in there. Consecrated oil, the Godhead, the commandments (big and small), Joseph Smith—every bit.

So this is what I’ve been geeking out over of late. . . but here’s the cooler part. Mormon ch 7.  I was reading the Book of Mormon because since I am, after all, a “Mormon” missionary, it’s kind of an obligation, er, inherent blessing, just clunking through battle after battle. Good stuff. Then Mormon was lamenting the loss of his people, which was pretty applicable to my current situations so it was nice, but I wasn’t quite as invested as I perhaps should have been.

Then BAM. God is good. And funny. Verses 8 and 9 say:

Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you.

For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if ye believe that ye will believe this also; and if ye believe this ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them.

Cool, right? It was just a welcome reminder that despite our (my) stubbornness and reluctance to give Him the credit He probably deserves, God is always working behind the scenes. . . strategizing and coordinating things, days, months, years, MILLENIA in advance. (See Doctrine and Covenants 3: 1-3)

He sees and understands all things at all times. It’s illogical but not, and I don’t like it but I do. Life’s weird. And Good. And I had lots more thoughts concerning this, but I fried my mind just now trying to get a handle on them.

Basically, things are okay out here. I have no explanation, but the thing that seems to make me the most homesick lately is the sky. For some reason it’s different in Hawai’i. I know I’m in what most would say is paradise, but truth be told, Idaho is still more beautiful to me. What’s weirdest is when you realize that the blue on the horizon isn’t mountains. Or haze, or clouds, or the darkening sky. It’s ocean. Glorious, but I really did like my Simplot sunsets.

For me the ocean is much less intimidating when you’re right up on it. This morning Sister Smith and I did our studies out at Ewa Beach. No sand, of course, but it was still nice. Although as much as it kills me to admit, it does kind of seem like yesterday was p-day, too.

So close, yet not

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And we got an investigator to church! Which is no small miracle since apparently as long as the Zone leaders have been in this area, our ward hasn’t had any successes. God is good. Maybe soon we’ll know why it is that He sent 2 blind palangi girls to this area. Crazy.  So that’s all for tonight.  Manuia le po’o! (good night in Samoan)

Alofa, Aubrey

p.s. Miracles happened today. We went from 1 lesson (planned) to another (unplanned) to another (also unplanned), to another (again unplanned) and Alex prayed, which was cool. Even though you don’t know him. The Vae family fed us (so we had double dinner, again) and then asked for a Book of Mormon. We met them by accident a few weeks ago. They attribute their son and daughter-in-law’s job finding success to our prayers. Prayed with them Friday.  Both got jobs on Monday.  Well done, God, Well done.  Maybe sometime I’ll tell you about the Fonoti’s.

Side note: I have a callous on the inside of my middle finger from opening plastic water bottles. Being on a mission is confusing for me, because I know I’m supposed to be here, but I really really want to be back home with my family and friends and my dogs and cat and my iphone. It’s still weird going to the bathroom without it.

I’ll be 20 in 2.5 weeks. Shoot me now, please. I hear Emma and Dad are getting pretty accurate.

Hawaiian Hair . . .

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Editor’s note

Aubrey’s Bday is August 7.  Apparently she has great apprehension about leaving her teenage years.  She was our child who cried when she found out she would have to grow up and leave home.  Also, please note this is last week’s email.  I was waiting on a few things for clarification and her handwritten letter arrived later than normal.  She will not like that I chose to publish her Hawaiian hair, but know I am on it with possible solutions.  Grandma Browning’s curls made it through another generation.

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