Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Last blog post from Samoa...it's going to be so hard to leave this wonderful place!

I'll be home in 2 days...well, actually three days for you!

I can't really believe I'm actually coming home.  These past two years have been the best of my life. Sharing the gospel every day and serving others 24/7 has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.  It's crazy how it works that serving others blesses our lives so much, even more than the people we've served.  I'm truly grateful that Heavenly Father found me worthy enough to represent His Son and Church for the past two years.  Leaving this beautiful place and these incredible people is going to be very difficult.
This is Togilau and his baptism went really well.  On Sunday he even showed up to church in a suit and then bore his testimony.  He's a really humble guy and we've been able to get really close to him.
The other photo is from yesterday's fafaga.  It was the first time we were able to meet the family and they had just learned that I will be finishing my mission on Friday.  So after dinner, they gave me two ulas and a fan.  Just a perfect example of how loving the people here are, especially to plagai missionaries...ha! ha!  I am going to miss it more than words can express!

Note from mom:  We can't believe he's coming home either and are so excited!  For anyone that is interested, Justin will be giving his "homecoming talk" and report on his mission this Sunday, August 13 at 11:00am.

Our church building is located at 28291 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 18th & 25th - In & Out please!!!

July 18th

 A baptism

 Fafaga - Family dinner Samoan style

This meal was so good!  I haven't had pig like that since Savaii.

This week was good!  Our baptism went well and we have another one this Saturday. We also found a couple new investigators who we will be starting lessons with this week.  One of them is an older lady and she's so funny...a classic old Samoan woman and she's great!  Right now we are in a "trio"  because our other companion is waiting for his Visa and will be leaving for Africa on Monday.

JULY 25th

This is a cool guy in our ward.  Both my companions are gone now.  Elder Faaofo got his Visa and is in Africa and Elder Gomez got transferred to a different area.  Now I'm companions with Elder Alaga.

Chilling with the kids...they are AWESOME!!!

Matagi's baptism

We have a baptism set for the 5th which is my last Saturday so that will be pretty cool. 
Note from mom:  Justin has requested for his first meal back home to have In & Out..."of course" he said!

He flies in on August 11th and will be giving his "Homecoming talk" at church on Sunday, August 13th at 11:00 am.  All friends and family and anyone else who would like to come is welcome to attend. 
The address is:
28291 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 11th - One month from today Elder Sterner will be home!!! :)

One month to go so we didn't really get an email today but just a couple photos.  We are all getting very excited for Justin to be home!

He did buy a conch shell and is pretty excited about that.  He's trying to figure out some things he can bring home, but things he wants are pretty expensive.

Elder Brooks and Elder Wolz go home this  Friday

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy July 4th!!!! All wet again...

All wet again...

Back to Upolo means...no more car & no more being dry.  We do have bikes though so that should help a bit with getting my legs in a little better shape...

This week was pretty good. I really miss Savaii...a LOT!  But it is really nice being a regular missionary again and being able to focus on our area. We have a baptism set for next week. Spent a lot of time getting familiar with the area and visiting members to get referrals. We got a lot of referrals and have contacted some. We're hoping to have 4 baptisms this month. Things are going good!! 

 alofa atu

-elder sterner

Note from mom:  I mentioned to Justin that he might want to push back his "homecoming talk" date at church since he'll have such a long couple days traveling to get home.  He's been planning on August 13th and I said that he might be too tired.  His response was, "e manumalo le fiafia i le fiamoe".  When he finally translated what that means, "happiness will beat tiredness", I figured that pretty much says it all.  So it looks like his talk will be Sunday, August 13th at 11:00 am.  We can't wait!!! :)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June 13th, 20th, 27th bits & pieces & RETURN DATE AUGUST 11th!!! :) :) :) :) :)

Late on Tuesday 6/27, we finally got Justin's travel plans for his return date!!!  YAY!!!  He leaves Apia, Samoa on Friday, August 11th (yes, 8/11) and flies into Honolulu after a five and a half hour flight August 10th.  After a 7 hour layover there, he flies into San Francisco, and then onto John Wayne on August 11th... We are so excited and can't wait to see him!!!
About coming home, this is what he emailed, "Pretty crazy.  I don't think it will register in my brain until I'm on the plane.  So many times I've thought, oh, after this then it will feel close but it doesn't.  Getting the flight plans makes it feel close.  I don't know, it's just hard to believe it's all coming to an end.  Really weird."

June 13th
Leaving for Apia today for a zone leader meeting and we also get to go through the temple which I'm hyped for.  I'm still a zl.  I haven't gotten my travel plans yet but I should have them by now...we have a baptism this Saturday and three scheduled for next Saturday.  It's still hot and rainy but the nights are really cold because it's the winter now over here.

As far as what we've been eating lately...Monday we had chicken and taro with coconut cream, yesterday we had a pig lu'au and taro, and then Sunday we had pisupo which is this beef stuff in a can which I really don't like.  I can't really remember the rest but I'll try to write it down this week so I can tell you next week.  We don't have time today though so I have to go! (the menu rundown is from a request from dad.  He wanted to know what the meals are like.)

June 20th
Hi, can't send photos today because I'm using the senior couple's mac and it's not working but we had a baptism this week that went well.

June 27th

So, I'm getting transferred which is kind of a bummer...I'm going to Solosolo, Upolu.  I'm sure going to miss Savaii!!!  This week was good.  We found a lot of new investigators that have potential to be getting baptized but it just stinks that I won't get to see them through their lessons.  I'm going back to regular missionary life.  Being a zone leader was really fun and I learned a lot in so many respects.  But now I'm excited to have more time to work with investigators and help them progress towards baptism.  It's been a very busy and rewarding time and I've grown so much in so many ways.

Crossing the river to get to the other side of the village in Sili.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

June 6th...about 2 more months to go!

From mom...a random person texted me this photo on May 23rd and I just now saw it on my phone as I was deleting texts!  I love getting photos of Justin and appreciate people sending them along!  If you ever have a chance to take a missionary's photo and send it to his mom or family, they will be very grateful just like me! :)

Samoan kids are the best!

Another Samoan sunset...they don't ever get old.

This last picture was after Stake Conference on Saturday in my last area, and right when it finished the "sa" started (that's the 30 minutes where everyone in the village has to do prayer time with their family that I emailed about before).  Just about everyone got stuck on the chapel grounds waiting for it to be over which was pretty funny.

This is Elder Bickmore, the Savaii king who is finally leaving for Tutuila.  Elder Bickmore was on Savaii his whole mission and his last transfer he got transfered to Tutuila.


This is where we did our zone meeting with president

So...I was kinda surprised about getting transferred.  They called Sunday afternoon and said I was gonna get transferred to the backside of  Upolu to be a zone leader.  So I was really excited for that. Then they called again around midnight and said I'm going to Sili, which is where I am now.  It's the zone right next to my old one.  We only have 4 companionships but we're having a lot of success with the work, which has been great.  Hopefully we can get at least one more companionship at the upcoming transfer to add to the numbers in the zone.  After this week, my last full transfer begins. Crazy.

I'd be shocked if I got transferred again and think I'll for sure finish here.  I'm not doing the Sunday
school anymore since I'm in a new area.  That was a really cool learning experience, though.  If I got one thing from it, I gained so much respect for Bishops and leaders of our church.  I was dealing with 50 people so I can't imagine having to deal with 500!

My new companion is a native and he's great.  I'm glad I get to finish with a native to make sure my Samoan is good.  It's pretty funny...Yesterday, we visited a recent convert and she was trying to set me me up with her husband's sister who lives in Apia.....hahaha.  Then at fafaga, the mom was kinda shocked at how good I was speaking Samoan and was like, "I know the reason you have good Samoan.  You have a Samoan girlfriend!  Now you need to find a new one since you switched areas!"  Obviously, that's not true, but everyone always asks the white missionaries if they have Samoan girlfriends.  I'm pretty used to it by now and I've come up with some pretty good come-back answers to give... ha ha.

We cover 5 wards and a branch so we're pretty stretched.  I feel like I'm always busy with zone leader stuff and teaching lessons, so it's good.  We should have at least 4 baptisms this month which is exciting.  We live in Sili and cover Satupaitea, Satufia, Papa, Gautaivai, Gataivai, and Sili.  I live in the area I was talking about before where if you don't go to a church on Sunday, you get fined.  But in Satufia, Papa, and Gautaivai, if you want to change churches, you get fined $300.  In Gataivai, our church is 100% not allowed and if we try to proselyte there, the chiefs in the village chase us out...
Very interesting.  Life is great in Samoa.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 21 - translation & some random answers, May 30th - not much

May 21 - Here is the translation we got from Justin which was about all we got!

papatisoga (baptism) i (in) le (the) sami (ocean)

Malo Soifua (hi). Faamalulu atu (sorry) ona (because) leva ona (its been a while) le (haven't) toe faia (done) se (a) imeli (email) umi (long)

Also, here is some random information that Jeff got to some questions he had...

 We live at the chapel grounds in a little house in the back.  If you look back at the picture I sent of the chapel you can see our house in the back.

We have a few investigators, but it's good. We met a new couple this week. The husband is a less-active member and his wife is not a member of the church. We did a lesson with her Monday and invited her to be baptized next month and she accepted.

Baby Justin and his family are doing well. His dad blesses the sacrament almost every Sunday and we are working on his family history so we can take a trip to the temple.

My comp watched me do the P90x and kinda made fun of me jokingly and then he did the yoga one with me and didn't even make all the way through so he knows now it's legit. I go with the schedule it says to do and I try to do the yoga one as often as I can when I have time at night. I really only care about trying to get as flexible as I can and I've improved somewhat.

I still haven't gotten my flight plans yet for August.  I feel like when I get them it's gonna really hit me that I come home soon.  Still doesn't feel like it'll really happen....

Love you


May 30th - I got transferred to be a zone leader in the zone right next to my old one.  That happened on Monday but we are doing other transfers in our zone today.  I don't really have time to email but just let people know I'm finishing strong and very busy!  I forgot my camera cord at our house, but hopefully next week I will have more time to email and send pictures.  Have to go...love you!

That's all we got today...:(