13 June 2016
I pray for you multiple times through out the day you know. And by you I mean all of you.
Mom, I am so sorry that your (and dad’s) birthday has been so unconventional. For Papa, Chickie, Irma, family and everyone else, I’m sorry, too, that the past days have brought deep waters. I know though that the blessings, even though it doesn’t seem like it, are there.
Monday night Sister Taufu’i and I jumped on the Ahuna’s tramp while brainstorming an activity for the YSA family home evening.
Tuesday I was lucky to spend and hour prepping the musical number for zone conference. Elder Kirkham and I synced up our ukuleles and we had fun.
Wednesday we began working with an active nonmember who has been attending the 3-hour block for nearly 9 years with his wife and children. He even pays tithing. Yesterday was the first set missionary discussion that we taught and through a few solid inspired questions we discovered that while he has prayed all along with his family every morning, night, and mealtime, he hasn’t been praying personally. We helped him to recognize experiences when he and his family have received answers to prayers over the years, and hopefully over the coming weeks he will have personal experiences with prayer as well. Honestly I kind of think the most difficult thing about this is that he already has a testimony. We just have to figure out how to get him to realize it and more importantly, accept it.
Exciting things! But still, this past week for me was slow to pick up speed. Internally I mean. The work was good but I wasn’t so happy-go-lucky. Thankfully, by Thursday Sister Taufu’i and I had bridged from mere companions into friends and from that moment all in Kaneohe was well!
Elder Neff with all of us
Friday I was graced to be an attendee of Elder Neff’s dying testimony. Going home in just a few weeks! Hoi, every time I see any of my previous mission people I feel like I am Ammon (an aspiring Ammon) when he ran into Alma in chapter 27:
16 And it came to pass that as Ammon was going forth into the land, that he and his brethren met Alma, over in the place of which has been spoken; and behold, this was a joyful meeting.
17 Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.
18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.
19 Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength.
I am not ashamed to be the one most excited. The joy truly is inexplicable. It never gets old, either, and I love that. Zone conference was perfect. It was Aloha ‘Oe to President and Sister Warner (far right) as well, so everyone was especially attentive and it was clear when they spoke that they were giving us every last bit of their hearts. The AC wasn’t too much and the musical number was surprisingly successful given the 1.5 practices that we called together. The entire Zone participated and not one person accidentally sang when they were not supposed to. I’m telling you, miracles. (Random note, the YSA choir director understands your panic attacks, Mom. Just a church-wide side effect of the calling I guess).
Then this Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to meet with Elder Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As you know I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to my life…. So I exercised my faith and prayed rather specifically as we sat waiting. Worth it. Rarely do I receive new knowledge or council now-a-day, but the weight with which certain council hits me is always different and what I got these past days has been so much more impactful because perhaps finally I am actually ready and strong enough to DO. The council was simple. Put forth your best effort, always. And put forth your best attitude, always. Unfortunately he didn’t explicitly say in the middle of the meeting, “whichever one of you is wondering what to major in when you return to school: international relations.” No worries, I have learned to modify my expectations. I know, though, that those simple things will get me to where I need to be. I made a deal with God that I will always do things wholeheartedly living the Gospel in every step so long as he places the correct stepping-stones recognizably in front of me. I acknowledge, of course, that some will take more acute vision to recognize than others. But I’m going to trust.
He left us with the sweetest of apostolic blessings, and closed with these wise words, “Your family is better off now than they would be if you were at home.”
Maybe try reading that over again.
I started on reading the June Ensign Sunday morning and a certain line about adversity struck me. It gave me the same anxious feeling that I got those years ago when I sat on the bar counter with my scriptures open while you washed dishes and the rest of the family went off to visit Grandma Ward at the hospital. But I’m a naturally anxious person so I put it aside.
God is always more recognizable with a hindsight bias, yeah?
I know though that there are no coincidences and I felt as I read your email, mom, the chills that broke over my back as I realized just how connected everything is, even thousands of miles away.
Again, “Your family is better off now than they would be if you were at home.”
I am not a perfect missionary. Some moments I hardly even feel the least bit effective. But I try. More than that I strive, and I repent. And I know that God is blessing you all. I pray for it, like I said, more than daily. In fact, I think the reason that no one is interested in the Gospel yet out here is because I pray that any and all blessings available go straight to you back home. You, my family are my purpose and my strength. Because it is through you that I feel God’s love and that I learn better who and how the Savior was. I am grateful that you are wholesome and whole. I didn’t know how I could feel that you were more beautiful than I already did but Sister Taufu’i has helped me to grow in appreciation for my life and history and circumstance so much over the past week and a half, in ways I never could have recognized on my own. We are blessed and it’s our responsibility to become strong and remain strong despite our lack of conditioning over the years. We haven’t had so many testimony-trying checkpoints as some other people, but I have faith that we can be and are equally solid in belief and trust in the Gospel.
Study the Book of Mormon, always. And pray more often together. It is prescribed for a reason.
P.S. Sister Taufu’i was supposed to teach me how to sing happy birthday in Tongan, but I guess they just sing it in English over there, so . . . It might take a few weeks to translate. Next time!