Aloha friends and family!
I hope you all had a great new years. I think New Year's Eve could be the biggest holiday in Hawaii. People spent thousands of dollars on fireworks so, it was crazy. We had a big bonfire on the rocks by the ocean with some of the missionaries, but had to be in our appartments by. We got back to our apartment to get some rest, but were woken up to the sounds of what sounded like a million firecrackers going off. Our neighbors had tied a ton of chinese firecrackers onto their wooden playset (Hawaiian ingenuity at its finest) and the things were super loud. Right after that started it turned 12 so all of our neighbors were popping off illegal fireworks. We just sat at our window and watched all the fireworks going off all around us.
Then the next day, we went to drive up to Mauna Kea to see the first sunrise of the year from the highest point in Hawaii, but apparently there were hurricane force winds up at the top up to 150 mph so it was closed. Instead we went to the chapel and had a water balloon fight, followed by a flour fight (sticky, crusty flour not a good idea) then we played capture the flag. Not too eventful compared to the crazy new years stories we heard from other people, but still had fun as a zone.
Yesterday Teki came to church and is super ready to be baptized this saturday! He got up and bore his testimony! He talked about the happiness and comfort that the gospel has brought him especially after his dad passed away just a few months ago. He also made the whole congregation laugh by saying he was enjoying the missionaries' "speeches" and also by telling everyone jokingly that they better come to his baptism. We're meeting with him every day this week and he's so ready for baptism. His whole non-member family is supposed to be attending his baptism, as well as his girlfriend. She's a non-member and he said he gave her a Book of Mormon and downloaded the Mormon Channel app on her phone. He told us "don't worry guys, it's just a matter of time before she comes around".
The message that we've been sharing with people with this new year comes from a Mormon Message about New Years. It shares the story of Lot and how his wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back. Personally, I feel that it wasn't the physical act of looking back that the Lord punished her for, rather that she wasn't fully committed to obeying with exactness the commandments of the Lord. Maybe she missed her house, her friends, or whatever it was that caused her to look back. But that really is perfect advice for this new year. So many people that we teach carry around these unnecessary burdens because they're so caught up on things that happened in the past. I heard a quote that said :the past is to be learned from, not lived in. That's really that attitude that we should have with this coming new year. Rather than focusing on our regrets, look forward to our opportunities. The Lord commanded Lot to "get to the mountain and not look back". Often times in the scriptures, the mountain symbolizes a temple or a holy place, so in addition to not looking back, we should make sure that our path looking forward will be one that brings us closer to God, knowing that where we're going will be better than where we've been as long as we put our full trust in Him.
Love you all!