Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 53 - Rings

Iakwe and Aloha y'all!
Had a super great week. First and foremost Simba was baptized!!! Everything went perfect, just as planned. We had the highest turnout at a baptism since I've been here. We wanted it to be a special and memorable occasion for Simba, so we really focused on getting as many people there as we could, members and non-members. We invited every kid we saw that lives in his same building to come to the baptism, and most of them showed up! We were also able to get a lot of new investigators out of it because they felt the spirit and we were able to ask them if we could come and teach them so that they could eventually be baptized as well.
Simba's been a great strength and example to both his family, and the other members of the branch. For right now, he's the only member in his family, but he already wants, and is working on the rest of his family coming to church and being baptized. He's also a great influence on his friends that he's living with right now. He reminds them to read their scriptures and pray, and makes sure that they all go to seminary together! He says he wants to serve a mission and I'm super excited to see him continue to progress.
My companion and I worked really hard this past week in trying to hit our goals. We taught a lot of lessons and made a big effort to teach as many lessons as we could with a member present. The members really are the key in missionary work. They help so much in the finding and conversion process in providing a friend in the church. One that doesn't come and go like the missionaries tend to do. In my first area one of my friend shared a story with me about members and missionary work.
He's from the islands and his dad is a fisherman. He said that back home, when they'd go fishing, his dad would drive out onto the water and then stop the boat and wait, looking up at the horizon. He said at first his was confused because the fish are under the water, not up in the sky, and if they wanted to catch fish they needed to drop their lines. But his dad sat there patiently waiting. Until he saw a flock of birds. He would then drive to where the fish were, and my friend and his dad would start pulling up fish left and right. He was looking for the birds to lead him to the fish, because they knew where to find them.
This is a lot like members in missionary work. The members are the birds. Sure they could've caught a few fish with out them, but when they worked together they were able to catch plenty.
We also had a great fireside last night up in Laie with a guest speaker, Vai Sikahema. He's an incredible guy, and took time out of his vacation to come and speak to all the missionaries on Oahu. He talked about a lot of things, but the one that I liked the most was a story he shared about a ring. He was a good football player at BYU before his mission and ran back a punt return in the miracle bowl to kick start their comeback victory. He took his championship ring with him on his mission, justifying that it could be a conversation starter and help him talk about the gospel. He said for months, both members and nonmembers would ask him about his ring and his past life as a football player. He wore the ring to an interview with a general authority, one who had previously played for the BYU basketball team, hoping to make a connection with him. The general authority told him that if he was Vai, he'd send the ring back home. He said he was devastated by this advice, but prayed and fasted about it to see if it was something he should do. The answer he received was yes, and he boxed his ring up and send it home. He said that once he sent it home, it completely changed his mission. He hadn't noticed before, but the majority of the time when he would have conversations with people, it was about him and football, rather than about the Savior, the gospel, or the restoration. He said that his mission completely changed once he made that decision. He then asked all of the missionaries if we had "rings", something that we were holding onto from our life before our mission. He said it doesn't matter who you were before, or where you're going after, right now all that matters is that you serve the Lord with all you've got. Really great and spiritual fireside.
Anyway hope you all have a great week. Attached are pictures of Simba's baptism, and me and my companion wearing my previous companion's shirts.
Love youes!
-Elder Merrill

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