Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Manuia Le Kerisimasi - skype in 6 days!!!!!! :)


Things are going swell here in Tafuna.  This is the last week until transfers so probably at least one of us is going to get transferred.

Our investigator getting baptized this week is so awesome. We did a couple lessons with her this week. One time as we were walking up, she had the Book of Mormon voice over playing throughout the house which was pretty funny.  She has shared so much about her past with us and she's come so far.  She is keeping a journal of everything she has learned and she just loves the gospel so much.  It's so cool to finally see someone so interested here in American Samoa because it's been a while.... 

We had Stake Conference and Elder Haleck of the Seventy presided. He is the Area President here and is from American Samoa.  His wife was taught by our investigator when she was in college and they said they're going to come to our baptism so that'll be pretty cool.

One thing President Hannemann has asked us to do differently when we teach is to really explain the Godhead.  Almost every first visit we have with someone, they'll say, "We all go to different churches but we worship the same God".  Most of the time we would just nod our head and agree. But President has asked that we say, actually we don't.  We worship different Gods.  My God has a body of flesh and bones and they are three separate beings. It's actually been fun doing that and we have had some interesting conversations with people.

Alma giving some food for thought...

44  For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

 45  And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.

 46  O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

Hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas!!

Alofa atu 

(mom & dad are assuming this is where Justin lives...???  He didn't give details)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Double blog post from 12/5 & 12/12

First niu I've had in Tutuila


This week was really cool. 

Our teaching pool is growing but the progress feels slow sometimes.  I've noticed there are many people from the Philippines in American Samoan.  We did finally get an opportunity to visit the lady from India. It ended up being a pretty solid Bible bash where we just argue back and forth.  Bible bashes are entertaining every now and then. For me, I still see them as an opportunity to share what I know and believe, so I don't mind them sometimes.  I feel the spirit working and bringing scriptures to my rememberance to share.  It makes me want to study and learn more, and it also reminds me of the truthfulness of the gospel!

Wednesday we had our Christmas program for Tutuila.   We started out with a quick devotional thing with the mission president, his wife, the APs, and some sister training leaders. It was really good and we talked a lot about Christ and His life.  After that, we got to do some shopping and I got some cool shirts.  Then we ate at this Chinese food place.  After that we went to the Hospital for a service opportunity.  We sang to people and  I also had the opportunity to give an elderly lady a blessing.  I actually did it in Samoan and it went well! The whole singing thing is not me at all, but it was awesome to be able to exercise the priesthood and to be able to bless someone else. 

Samoa is good and it's only getting hotter.

Alofa atu ia te outou uma lava!!

a little gecko

Hi everyone!

This week was awesome and we have a baptism set for Christmas Eve! 

Her name is L... and she is super cool!  We met her Thursday and she's the most prepared investigator ever!  She loves to talk so the first visit was almost 3 hours long.  She is from San Francisco so we're teaching the lessons in English.  She's already read almost all of 1st Nephi and is searching lds.org all the time.  We did lesson one and when we invited her to be baptized she said, " I'm down!  Let's do this!  I'm down!!"  Pretty funny and I'm super excited for that!

We met another guy who started telling us we're wasting our time and it was super frustrating.  It's amazing how on the mission you can go from super highs and feeling great about things to those types of conversations and feeling a bit down and defeated.  Thankfully, there are way more of the great times.  It's no surprise that we didn't spend a lot of time talking to him.

One of our fafagas took us to McDonalds and on the way home we helped this guy jump his car.  We jumped it with copper wire.  It was so sketchy but it worked!  I'm learning all types of things.....

Good times

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chinese food for Thanksgiving - Nov. 28


This week had its ups and downs...

On the bright side we found a lot of new people to teach which is exciting. People from all over the world that settled here - Filipinos, Samoans, and an Indian woman straight from India. They all seem pretty interested. 

On the down side, we lost a couple baptismal dates. The young man we planned to baptize this upcoming week couldn't make it to church so we have to push it back again. Hoping this is something he really wants.  I guess we'll find out this week.

The elders from Manu'a were on the island for a checkup and we got to do a split with them. Elder Reid (from Provo) and Elder Brown (he's from Fagaloa).  It was fun and we found some people to talk to and teach.  At one house as we were walking up, we heard, "GO AWAY PLEASE!!" in a very irritated tone.  Then Elder Brown said, ia! manuia le aso! Alofa atu!!  (have a good day. Love you!). It was pretty funny.

We still have the family committed to get baptized the 14th of January. She leaves to Upolu next month so we continue to visit her.

I read something from a conference talk from a while ago that I really liked.  I can't remember who said it but he said, "One of the aspects that God likes about being God is that He is able to be merciful." 

Heavenly Father wants us to do our best but sometimes we mess up. He is merciful and is eternal and will always help us even when we mess up.  That's comforting to know.

This baby is the child of our investigators. He is 4 months and so chubby.
Such a big baby but so cute and fun.

Our Thanksgiving  meal...a member dropped off some Chinese food.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 21st - Fun kids & creepy red contacts

The kid standing up is one of the kids of the family we are teaching.  
His name is Atamu (Adam) and we always ask him where Eva (Eve) is.  haha

We love and miss our missionary.

This week had a lot of potential but didn't end up as we hoped. The family we are teaching is really excited to get baptized.  They were set to get baptized this week, but she said she first needed to get released from her responsibilities in her past church. She's going back to Upolu next month and coming back and then she will be baptized..  It is a big decision for her and her family and we want to make sure she is comfortable with her decision and the timing. 
The 18-year-old young man who was set to be baptized the 12th of this month has been reset for the 3rd of December.  He hasn't smoked for over a week since we gave him the blessing so hopefully he makes it to church this Sunday so he can get baptized!!

D&C 15:6

And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth 
unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls 
unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.

The thing I really like about this scripture is how it says we'll rest together with the people we bring into the gospel together with our father in heaven. That sounds pretty good to me!!

Have a good week everyone!  alofa atu

Also, for Thanksgiving, I will probably have McDonalds for Thanksgiving dinner since the family that has fafaga on Thursdays usually drop it off for us.

Bought some red contacts at the store and wanted to try them.  (Mom says creepy!!! )

I thought this sign was funny... No eye won inc.
(Mom & Dad aren't sure why)

November 14 - We finally got a package from Justin this week!!!! :) And...more frogs.

We had a district meeting this week with the mission president
(President Hanneman), his wife, and the assistants.

This week was awesome!

We have a baptismal date set for the 26th. It's an investigator we've been working with for a long time and she's about 50 years old, I would guess.  She finally had the courage to make this commitment to her Heavenly Father.  She also has kids at the house that want to get baptized too, but they have just been waiting for permission. Now that the mom has commited to get baptized, I'm pretty positive they'll follow. 

We also met a lot of new people this week who seem really interested in the church so it will be great if we can teach these great people about the Savior.

We also had an interesting encounter with another lady. We sat down and she started rambling on about her church, how perfect the Bible is and that she only reads the Bible.  She said she won't even read the newspaper - so I knew we were in for a fun lesson.  I tried to share a verse from the Book of Mormon that talks about how the Book of Mormon is all about Christ and another testimony of Him. But she stopped me and said she doesn't care because she only reads the Bible. One thing that most of the Samoans often claim is that we all go to different churches but we all worship the same God. So I shared the verse in Ephesians 4 that says, one faith, one baptism.... Then I asked her how they do baptism in their church and she said the same as the Mormon church. So then I asked if after she got baptized if she received the Holy Ghost. She said no. So then I shared the verse in Acts 19 when Paul teaches that baptism must be followed by the laying on of hands to get the Holy Ghost. So then she changed her answer and said she did but she received it when she said the baptismal prayer. Then I read the part in the scriptures when it says laying on of hands and she tried to dodge it but couldn't. So we felt like we proved our point, but it's hard to really have a good lesson when we're just going back and forth like that.  Needless to say, we don't plan on going back. It seemed like a waste of time.

I also just have to say that the gift of tongues is so real. 

Oh and we did a split with the zone leaders so they came and we all proselytized in our area. We visited this one family that one of the elders knew from his village in Upolu.  She apparently had gained some weight since he last saw her.  He said, "Wow, you got fat!!  You've been eating too much Carl's Jr.!"   I could not believe he said that!  If we were in America, he would've gotten slapped and no girl would ever talk to him again!  But in Samoa, we all just laugh... I thought the it was great!

Hope you all have a great week!!

This is what came in the package that Justin sent us.  We enjoyed the Samoan cookies and hope to make the "Koko Samoa" soon.  He also sent a bunch of ramen type noodles that look interesting.  "Uso" on the shirts is the Samoan word for brother or sister...just an  FYI since we weren't sure what that meant so we looked it up.

more frogs

(note from us - Transfers came today but Justin did not get transferred this time and will stay in the same place for the next 6 weeks.)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Monday, November 7th - flooding..."Mormon Lake"

 "Mormon Lake"

There are a lot of frogs in tutuila. and when they find a big puddle, they take advantage

(Mom asked what it was a picture of and his response was "They are the
product of when a female and a male get together and there were sooooo many.")

This week was pretty boring. We've been visiting the same investigators for a while and they seem to be progressing but VERY slowly. 

The one investigator planning to be baptized won't be. We gave him a blessing Thursday for his challenge with smoking and he seemed so sure he was gonna come to church. We stopped by his house to pick him up but apparently he wasn't home, which was a total bummer.

The past couple days the weather has been crazy. Really rainy and windy. When it rains a lot, a big puddle starts to build up right  in from of our chapel. People call it the mormon lake. 

Transfers are next week so we'll see what happens. Kinda hoping for something new, but I know I'll be where I'm supposed to be!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Happy Halloween

Throwback to Fagaloa

On the boat ride to Tutuila

This week was pretty good.

On Tuesday we ran into Elder Fano's family including his dad.  That was funny.

We've started lessons with an 18 year old kid who did lessons with the other missionaries.  He wants to get baptized but he just needs to stop smoking. We talked to him and I can sense his desire to join the church and be baptized.  We planned on going over yesterday to give him a blessing but he wasn't home so we're gonna try later today.  We have him set to be baptized on the 12th so pray for him that he can stop!!  We also are gonna try to get him a CTR ring too.  He's doing the Marine program they have here and he's going to Camp Pendleton after high school.  He's never left Tutuila and it's a small island so he asks me a lot about it and is super excited to go. 

The investigators we invited to the ward activites showed up to the ward party we had Friday night. They also made it out to church on Sunday. The family that lives next to them are members so we're going to try and get them to fellowship. If we help them get to know each other, I think they will continue to want to learn more. They seemed so happy at the activity and church so we're gonna try to build off of that.

On Thursday we were walking home late from the chapel and we could've asked someone for a ride but I just had a feeling we should walk and see what happens. Not too far from the chapel, this lady pulled over and offered us a ride. We talked for a bit and turns out they aren't members but one of her son's moved to the states, got baptized, and is now serving a mission. Her other kids were in the car and they all seemed really interested. So hoping to start lessons with them this week.

Other than that, a pretty average week. We're still working with the ward.  Missionary work is always easier when we all work together. Trying to find people to fellowship can be challenging.  We're all busy. 

That's all I got! Hope you all have a good week!! Alofa atu!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 24th - the teaching continues...

Three cute little Samoan kids just having fun.

Taking a break.

This week was pretty good!

Tuesday we had an island conference with one of the Area Seventies who is in the Pacific Presidency,  Elder Nielson.  It was a really good conference.  I wish we could do more things like that because it gives a great spiritual boost for the week.  I also got to see all the other missionaries on the island which is always fun.

Our investigators are good. We have about 8 but only one is progressing. We've finished lessons with him and he comes to church every Sunday but he says he wants to understand more before he gets baptized.  We're trying to help him read the Book of Mormon every day and let him know that we're not supposed to know everything...especially, before getting baptized.

We have a family that we're teaching and they love the church and accept everything we teach them. They really want to get baptized but their other family is strong in another religion so they are kind of afraid to make the change. This is one of the biggest problems we face here and one of the hardest to solve because Samoans are such a respectful people.  Going against the leaders of the family is considered one of the worst things people can do which I completely understand.  Family is so important in our church as well.  That makes it even more amazing when those people commit to the gospel.   There are a lot of Halloween activities happening at the church this week so we're gonna try to get our investigators to make it out to those.

The Tongan wards are in the stake we're in so Friday I had to do a baptismal interview for the elders there.  Usually they put Tongans there but they changed it so now there is a palagi elder and a Samoan so they've been learning Tongan. I had to do the interview for this cute little girl who only knew Tongan.  It felt like I was starting my mission over and it was very humbling...ha ha.

That's bout it for the week. if you have questions about stuff ask!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

57 weeks out on October 19th

time is short.

This week was alright. We did have our baptism! Never thought I would baptize someone from the Philippines while serving in Samoa, but it happened! She is a really cool girl and she made good Filipino food afterwards. 
Can you maybe try to send some pumpkin bread???  I could really go for some right now.  (Mom thinks that was a really cute request, but definitely won't work when packages seem to take about 2 months to get there! )  Other random tidbits for the week...Jack should take Psychology with Gunderson. It's the best class. Oh and one of our fafagas drove us home and they have the new Tacoma. It's so flippin sick.  The big box family meal from McDonalds in the picture from last week that members bring to us sometimes has 4 drinks, 2 Big Macs, 2 McChickens, 1-10 piece chicken nuggets and four fries...& that's for 2 missionaries!!!  (Mom says YIKES!!!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 10th - lots of people to teach!

These kids are hilarious

We got two of these huge boxes for fafaga this week.
I think in the last two weeks we've had McDonalds 8 times.........

This week was really good. We met some new people that are really interested in the church.

L is a mom and her daughter F is 19 years old.  F did some lessons with missionaries before and really liked it. We visited them last week and talked with L and she seemed totally not interested and not wanting to talk to us. We then visited them this week and she was totally different. She apparently went to a ward with someone and really loved it. And now she really likes the church. We did two lessons with both of them last week and committed them to get baptized this month. It wasn't a firm yes so were gonna try to confirm it this week! 

The next person is this guy named D.  He is in his mid 20s. We visited this house with a lot of people and we just shared a quick message about the restoration and he really liked it!  He said he is just like Joseph Smith. He's been attending different churches his whole life and is still looking for the right one.  The only problem is that he leaves for Australia next week to work on a farm for 9 months.  (A lot of people do that here)  So we're gonna try to get his information and send it to whatever mission he's moving to. We were so bummed when he told us...

Then we met this lady who was really nice. She said she doesn't need to go to church, she can just pray and read the Bible and that's good enough. I felt impressed to share Helaman 5:12, one of my favorite scriptures.  We just talked about how we can help her strengthen her foundation. She said that scripture was perfect for her and her situation right now.  It was just cool to see the Holy Ghost work so simply but so powerfully.

This week we have a baptism for the Filipino woman we've been teaching.  
Finally a baptism!

Friday, October 7, 2016

It's already October - General Conference

 The old district. Transfers are this week but everything is staying the
same for us here except now I'm a district leader again.

The crew from Fagaloa (disclaimer - Elder Tiatia is totally flexing
so don't get your hopes up too much you young sisters out there)

We got to watch conference but it came with a price... We watched it live. Conference in Utah starts at 10am. Here we are 5 hours behind. If you do the math right you figured out that, yes, we had to be at the chapel at 5am to watch conference. We got up at 3:30, got ready, and then had to walk to the chapel. Both Saturday and Sunday. Conference was awesome  I know if we read and study each and every talk, we can find something in every talk that can help us with our daily lives. Something that stood out to me was how much they talked about the Plan of Salvation. Sometimes, actually a lot of the time, I feel we take this plan for granted. Just imagine if we didn't have the answers we do because of the Plan of Salvation.  Life would be a lot different.

Tala'i Tu'itu'i (going door to door) happened a lot this week. I seriously feel like I'm serving stateside when we do this. On Wednesday we were knocking doors and a lady comes out and tells us straight up she's not interested. When she closed the door, I just stood there for a few seconds trying to register what just happened. So weird. This one lady did let us in and we shared a quick message about the restoration. She was Fijian and said we can come back so we'll see what happens there.

I did get word that my first area (Faleasi'u) hit the goal of 20 baptisms they set at the beginning of the year and did it with three months to spare.  I really miss all the people there and I was really glad to hear that things are still moving forward. The missionaries there right now are my grandson and great-grandson. (meaning he trained them)

Our investigators are progressing but slowly. The difference in this area is that the ward isn't as supportive as I'm used to and they don't help in referring investigators that much. Missionary work is so much easier and faster when we all work together. So if for any reason you can help the missionaries, in the words of President Hannemann, DO IT! Not only will we bring more souls unto Christ, but we will be blessed beyond belief as we do so.

LOVE you all!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sept. 26th - Taro field and kosi'ed hair...

We found a little patch of "real Samoa" so we decided to take a picture. 
Taro is what's growing in the back round...yum!

Fafagas were pretty good this week!

This week was really good and we set two baptismal dates for October. One woman is Philippino and she was baptized in the Philippines but moved to Tutuila and they lost her records. There are many Philippinos and Asians here in American Samoa.  They run a lot of the small businesses and stores.   

The other woman is M. We got to their house and were talking for a bit and then President Hannemann calls and says he wants to come to the lesson with us. So I was kinda freaking out but he couldn't have called at a better time becasue she is our best investigator.  So it was Me, Elder Fano, President, the APs and then M and H. We taught lesson 3, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ". We talked about faith, repentance, and baptism. It was a really good lesson and the spirit was super strong. We invited M to be baptized October 22nd and she accepted and we also invited H to do the baptism. He is a great guy and we hope he decides he would like to do that.  He was at church on Sunday with his mom who is really active which was great.

On Friday we had a meeting with president and the APs as a district. President really hammered into us that we need to have faith in this work. If we don't have faith we can't really achieve anything but if we have faith we can do anything. That kinda got me thinking about Christ's life. I really believe that if we can gain as much faith and confidence in Heavenly Father as Christ did, I truly believe we can do anything he did except for the Atonement. I know we can heal as He did and teach with the same power He did if we have the faith.

I also made some old Samoa connections this week finally!  One of our fafagas that feeds us is from Faleasi'u (my first area) and my first baptism was her sister-in-law so that was cool and we talked a lot about Faleasi'u.  Then on Sunday, the Elder's Quorum President came up to me and said that he talked to his brother who is a counselor to the bishop in one of the wards in my last area. So it was fun to talk to him about some things familiar to both of us.  He's a really cool guy.

 All in all, another solid week...

Don't get mad mom, but I kosi'ed my hair.  President said it looks sharp so we decided to do it.
( I wasn't exactly sure what that meant because it wasn't really clear from this photo, but in Justin's words..."It's where the part of my hair is and then we shave the part line so there is no hair there".  A Samoan thing I guess, and I'm actually a fan, so it's all good! :) )

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Monday, September 19th - our current house & another BIG fafaga

 Our house

One fafaga (dinner). I can't believe they give us all this food when 
there are only two people in the house...  Very generous, kind, and loving people!

No McDonalds or Carl's Jr. but pizza twice and fried chicken twice. I'm about to throw in the towel...

This week was pretty normal. We have about 5 investigators right now but they set appointments just once a week so it's been hard trying to help them progress.

E. is our closest investigator to getting baptized right now. We've done the first three lessons with him and he comes to church every Sunday. Yesterday we did a lesson with him about baptism and it went really well.  He knows he needs to get baptized but he said he needs to fix some things before he commits to a date, so hopefully we can figure out what those things are and help him.

We have another investigator named M. She isn't baptized but her husband is a less active member.  We went over to their house Saturday and did a lesson with them on the restoration. It went super well and M. accepted everything and seemed really interested in the Book of Mormon. She's Tongan so we got her a Tongan Book of Mormon and she was really happy about that. For some reason the Tongan ones are hard cover which is sweet. I don't know why the Samoan ones aren't... We're going to invite her to be baptized this week for a day in October.

Our other investigators are going well. They don't seem as interested as E. and M. but we're trying. It's been really difficult to find new people to teach. We don't get many referrals from members and when we knock doors people either aren't home, are home and don't answer the door, or just simply don't want to talk to us.  The challenges of being a missionary...

Everyone also feels they need to speak English to us which is annoying so I just respond in Samoan.
That's about it...short & sweet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Monday September 12th - adjusting to American Samoa

With the village sign in Fagaloa (none of those here in Tutuila)


Fast food count for you all...McDonalds twice and Carl's Jr. twice.  (mom says gross!)

This week  was good!  We met a lot of people that we hope can turn into good investigators. On Wednesday we just knocked an apartment complex. First time I ever did something like that and it was sooo weird. Out of probably 15 houses, one person said we could come back. We did a lesson with her on Friday and it went really well. She is really interested in the church and said she's going to read the Book of Mormon and come with questions for next time.  She can't come to church because she had a baby that was 2 months premature. It was so little.

On Thursday we had a lesson with our investigator who has been coming to church. He's progressing really well. He is a little hesitant to accept a baptismal date but it's okay. We just need to be patient. I've just been thinking about our family and how everyone didn't join or come back all at the same time or right away so it's helped me to have a better perspective of his progression. I'm totally okay with the fact that he might not get baptized while I'm here. I know that as long as he's coming to church every Sunday, reading the BoM, and praying, he's going to get his answer eventually.  We had a good lesson with them on Sunday at church as well. We just talked about the Holy Ghost and his role. He also shared a cool personal experience with us.

Our investigator referred us to his friend who is less active and whose wife isn't baptized. We met with them on Saturday and it went well. The wife is really interested in the church and I know if we get the dad coming back to church, they can strengthen each other. He also talked about his weaknesses with the Word of Wisdom and we shared with him Ether 12:27- "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." It was a good lesson!

Sorry I haven't taken many pictures. There isn't really much to take pictures of... (mom certainly disagrees!  Everything would be interesting to us!)

This was from the boat ride over

Monday, September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day, Sept. 5th - adjusting to American Samoa & the more American life again

This week was tough.  I'm still trying to adjust to how different it is. Other than the language aspect, it feels like I'm starting over. Missionary work is so different here.

I had Mcdonalds 3 times this week.....

After emailing on Monday last week, we went to this store in our area called "Cost U Less". It is a legit Costco. It's crazy.

This whole week we have just been trying to find members and get to know them and ask them for referrals. But we have no idea where the members live. One thing that's different is that in Upolu whatever church was closest, that's the church people would attend. So living on chapel grounds there, everyone around us were members so it was super easy to find the members and get to know them. It was also fun playing with the kids and stuff.   Now here everyone has cars and there are all these roads that go all over the place so everyone goes to the church they really want to go to.

Another thing is that everyone here works and is busy doing other stuff rather than being at home and spending a lot of family time watching the kids all day.  So it's been really tough to find people to teach during the day.

Also, Elder Fifita, the elder I trained is our zone leader here so that's been fun. Our district is huge and I think we have 7 companionships.

We have one investigator and he's progressing really well. He married a member and he's been coming to church the past couple weeks. We did a lesson with him on Wednesday night and he likes doing the lessons in English so it's been really weird.  I feel like I suck at teaching in English and there is no flow to the lesson.  The positive thing is that it has been pretty easy to build a relationship with them. The lesson went pretty well and we invited him to read 2 Nephi 31 and that we'd do another lesson at church on Sunday. The Sunday lesson went well also.  He read some of the chapter so we just read it again all together.  He really likes the concept of the priesthood and how it can bless his family.  They are expecting their first baby soon and he said he knows the gospel will be a great help to them. We were talking about the Holy Ghost and we all kinda shared experiences we've had with the Holy Ghost.  Then he opened up and told us about his past and how he was in trouble but he believes that the Lord saved his life and has led him to this point. The Spirit was super strong and I know he felt it. We've invited him to be baptized but he wants to read the Book of Mormon and learn more before he makes a decision. I can't blame him at all.  I do know that if he goes into this process with faith and does his part, that he will accept the invitation.  We have a lesson planned for this Thursday and hopeully he accepts to be baptized!!

We are also planning on going on a split with the bishop to get more familiar with the ward.

Everything is good here. We have a microwave and a toaster in our house which has been sweet.

Still adjusting to the more American lifestyle. The American food has been messing with my stomach as well...

You can send packages the way you send letters to the Tutuila address.  Just to clarify, send everything to this address:

Elder Justin Sterner
Samoa Apia Mission
P.O. Box 608
Pago Pago, American Samoa  96799

It'll get here super fast and it's way cheaper. I don't really know what I need cause I can get it here. It's just harder because  with Samoan money, it's like 1 American dollar is 2.5 tala but here they use American money.

(From mom: no photos this week :(  :(  :(   )

Friday, September 2, 2016

Monday, August 29th - Happy 20th Birthday Elder Sterner from Tutuila, AMERICAN Samoa

Note from mom:  We didn't hear from Justin on Sunday which is his usual emailing day.  I was so disappointed because normally that would have been Monday in Samoa which would have been his birthday on the 29th.  Then when we heard from him the next day, on his actual birthday in the USA, it all made sense because he had been transferred to American Samoa and crossed the international date line.  I was very happy to be able to wish him a happy birthday on his actual birthday and to hear about his very busy transfer week.

Dad, son, grandson, great-grandson

Literally the longest week of my life.
So Monday night we got the transfer call. Elder Tiatia is now in American Samoa training a new missionary. I am also in Tutuila training a new missionary in an area called Tafuna. Training for the 3rd time!

Tuesday we had district meeting in an area called Sauniatu. It's a village about 45 minutes north of the main road and it's so pretty. It is surrounded by mountains. We got home and then packed for the transfer. We went and said goodbye to some families in Fagaloa. It was hard to say goodbye but definitely not as hard as when I got transferred from Faleasi'u since I hadn't been there for nearly as long. Around 8, one kid in the youth we got close with and our ward mission leader came by and we just took some chairs and chilled out in front of our house on the balcony thing. We talked for a while. Our ward mission leader was a really cool guy and we got really close with him and his family.

Wednesday we had to leave our house around 6:30am because we had to be at the office around 8:00. We got to the office and then we had to go to a chapel nearby and we did training stuff with our new trainees all day.  The new group that came from the MTC was really big; 27 from Provo and over 30 all together. My companion is Elder Fano from Hawaii. He already has pretty good Samoan so that's good. The way we usually travel to Tutuila is by a 30 minute plane ride but since there are a lot of missionaries getting transferred to Tutuila, president decided we would take a boat. The boat left Thursday at midnight.

Thursday morning we did some more training stuff and then at 2pm we got to go to the TEMPLE!!!! It was so awesome and I was begging president and the APs to see if we could go and we got to. The temple is the best. After the temple, we had some dinner and everyone was getting their stuff packed for the boat ride. We left for the harbor around 10:30pm, got situated, and then headed off. It was about a 9 hour boat ride and we got there Thursday morning because the world date line is in between Upolu and Tutuila.  So we got an extra day, like a do-over of Thursday.  We got to our area around 12:00. We live with a family but we have our own little house in the back which is nice.

my three sons

Tutuila is sooo different. It feels like Hawaii. Everyone has American cars, there's American food - 2 McDonalds, a Carl's Jr., Pizza Hut, KFC, a store that's basically like a Costco, things like that.  
They have high schools and they play sports. It's SO different. Coming from Fagaloa to here has seriously been a culture shock. Oh and everyone has perfect English so everyone just wants to speak English with us, but I just respond in Samoan. We had Carl's Jr. and McDonalds on Thursday.

 Friday we just tried to get an understanding of our area. The areas in Upolu and Savaii are easy to manage because they just go by villages. Here there are all kinds of roads and stuff. It's super confusing. They had a ward activity Friday night that we went to to try and meet some of the members. Friday we had KFC for dinner...

Saturday we went on a split with a kid in our ward. He's cool and has perfect English. We met some of the ward members. Everyone is really nice. Then Saturday night we got a call from the ZLs asking what area we had been working in and they said it was the wrong one. There are three wards in Tafuna. We thought we were supposed to cover 1 and 2 and the sisters cover the 3rd but it was the other way around... So tomorrow we're gonna have to start all over.

Sunday was good. The chapels here are so nice and have A/C.  Everyone has trucks and they trick them out.  It's pretty funny.  

This week has just been hectic so if you have any questions ask because I probably forgot to mention something.

the boat ride


Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 21 - warm showers in a bucket

Last goodbye to Faainu

This week nothing special happened. We did two lessons with L. We have to push his baptismal date back to the 3rd of September because the 27th they have a village meeting and he's a Matai (chief).  He is progressing really well. He either has bad eyes or can't really read so we've been reading togethter. He was at church yesterday and loves it. He comes every Sunday. 

I had some revelation the other day. Instead of taking cool showers, why not use the water heater thing and then pour it into a bucket?!  I've started doing that and it is so much better.

We went to Apia this morning to fill up the car and we got some McDonalds. Pretty good!  Transfers will happen in the middle of the week and we are waiting to get the phone calls to see if I get transferred to another area.  I feel like I might, so it's just wait and see.

We splurged and bought some bacon and it was a bomb Sunday breakfast before church. I'm getting fat...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 15th - why I'm in Fagaloa

 The photo is with Fa'ainu, the kid we do splits with.  He leaves for the MTC next week
Oh, and I made the can of refried beans you sent. So good!!!   I think Heavenly Father was watching out for me when he called me here to Samoa and not somewhere in Mexico because I would be so fat! :0


We got a baptismal date! His name is Luama'a (two rocks) and he's from Uafato. He's probably over 50 years old but so ready to be baptized. We taught him lesson one about the restoration. It was a weird lesson. Before we started the lesson I asked him if he had any questions. He didn't have any but as we started he stopped us a lot to ask questions about stuff. So it didn't flow very well but it was good that he asked us his questions. He wants to get baptized quickly so this week we're going to focus on the importance of baptism. It's not just a one time thing but a life-long covenant. 

The whole time I've been in Fagaloa I've kinda wondered why I'm here. It's an area with not a whole lot of people to teach, the church is really strong, and the few people who aren't baptized REALLY don't want to listen to what we have to say. I've been thinking we're gonna find this big family and baptize them or something major like that. But I've come to the realization that that's not what's going to happen. This week we had a cool little experience with a less-active member of the church. 

My comp and I have been wanting to visit a specific house for a while now and we finally had an opportunity to do so. We sat down and started talking with the woman. Then my comp said in Samoan, "Sorry my Samoan is so bad" and then she responded in perfect English, "don't worry about it".   She went on to tell us (all in English) that she is half Tongan and was born in Tutuila (American Samoa). She was baptized in Tutuila with her husband then they moved here 5 years ago. She speaks English, Tongan, Samoan, and Spanish fluently. She was a really interesting lady. She talked a lot about her family. She said she plans on going back to Tutuila at the end of the month.  At the end, I attempted to testify to her in English about eternal families and it felt flippin' weird trying to communicate in English!

I asked her in the beginning if missionaries had visited her since she's been here and she said no. Not a single time in 5 years. And Fagaloa is very small with hardly any people. After we left my comp and I were still kinda in shock about how the visit went. I thought about it later that day as a reason that I was transfered here. I have faith that the little visit we had resparked her faith and maybe when she goes back to Tutuila she'll go back to church. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August 7th & a beautiful sunrise

Sunday afternoon read


This week was good! My companion's leg is a lot better. We didn't get any lessons with investigators but a lot with less actives and members. We went on a split with a kid in Uafato who is going to serve in New Zealand. He went through the temple this last week and I could just tell he was spiritually pumped up. He's a super cool kid and we're definitely gonna go on more splits with him this week. We did get a referral about a guy in Uafato who is probably around 50. I've never really taught someone this old, but from what people have said about him, he sounds pretty promising. We were gonna go contact him but we didn't have enough gas so we're gonna go this week. We also got other referrals about some kids who go to church. Hopefully we get an investigator from that.

On Friday we had our district meeting and we did a scripture search game and I destroyed everyone. If I had done that before my mission, I would've failed. It was just kinda cool to see how much I've learned since being on my mission.

This week should be fun! Hopefully we get to set a baptismal date!

Ou te alofa ia te outou uma lava. Fa'amanuia le Atua ia te outou. Maua le fiafia ma oli'oli taimi uma. Manuia tele lava lenei vaiaso!

Monday, August 1, 2016

July 30th...Don't be cheeky

This week we just stayed at home cause of my comp's leg. It's a lot better now so were gonna get to work this week. We baptized our one investigator Faleiva. He lives in Uafato the village with the chapel that's just a roof on polls. There isn't a font so we did the baptism in the river right behind the chapel. My comp was gonna get a picture of me before we did the baptism, but he had to be a witness so he only got the after shot.  That's the first picture above.

We went to Apia this morning to fill up the car and we stopped by one of the elders houses to get a haircut. Elder Powelson is his companion so we got to talk a with him a little bit. Elder Powelson was my trainer and he goes home in two weeks. 

My comp and I thought this was pretty funny...
Don't be cheeky... translated: "aua te tautalalaitiiti"

Sunday, July 31, 2016

July 24th...also a little late!

Three waterfalls.

Part of the village in Uafato where we have to cross this river.
We can't cross the road because the water is way too high.

Got that Samoan hair cut baby!

This week we spent a lot of time in Uafato getting our one investigator ready for baptism this Saturday. That's about it. We tried to do some door knocking in a village but no one really seems willing to talk to us and I think a big problem is the matai's in the village. People are afraid of them. We've met a lot of younger people who seem interested in what we have to share and want to do lessons but their parents won't let them, so it's tough. We might try to start a little camp or something to try and get some investigators. They play volleyball and stuff quite often at the chapel and a lot of nonmembers come so maybe that could give us some opportunities.

This week is just going to be getting our investigator ready for his baptism.

We went to the doctor today and my companion's leg is really infected and he said we just have to take it easy this week. Hoepfully it gets better!

I've decided to start reading the Old Testament. It's long....but I came across this scripture I liked in Judges chapter 10.

 13  Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.

 14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.


July 17th post... a little late!

 Takin' a niu brake. The best


This week was good. Sorry my emails are so short there just isn't as much to talk about here. Monday we went and helped a youth in the ward with his plantation. It was fun.

Tuesday we went on a split with the kid we helped Monday. We tried to do some visits but people never really seem too happy to see us come up to their houses. We had one decent visit and we tried to visit them later in the week but no one was home. Next week......

Thursday and Friday we went to Uafato and did lessons with Faleiva and invited him to be baptized the 30th of this month and he said yes. So we just gotta help him come out of his shell a bit. It's definitely better though because the first time we tried to teach him he ran away. He's a good kid and comes to church every Sunday.

Saturday we went on another split with the same kid. We visited some houses that are right around this catholic chapel. There was an old lady (probably 70) and her daughter. The old lady was Mormon but married a man of another faith and he died so she said she'll honor him by going to his church but she knows our church is true. She said we could teach her daughter and her family. The daughter's husband doesn't go to a church so I really hope that could turn into something.

Everyday the kids are asking to use the balls we bought. It's ok, but sometimes it gets a little tiring.