Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jan. 24th - food poisoning

Malo lava le soifua!!!

This week we didn't get a lot of visits in but the ones we did were solid. One lesson we had with Makerita was awesome. For our visit we decided to read Alma 7 together. It was really good and she shared a lot. After I testified, we asked how she was feeling. She just said how grateful she is for this gospel and the book of Mormon. She's grateful for the gospel and how it will bless her kids. She started crying and the spirit was so strong. We're trying to get her to come to church this week. It's been hard because she has a newborn baby to look after but she wants to get baptized so badly.

I got food poisoning from something this week. I don't know if it was from the water or the food but that knocked me out for a couple days.

On Tuesday our district had interviews with President Hannemann. It was really good. He shared one thing with me that I really liked. He just said how missionary work is so much easier than baseball.  We have Heavenly Father's help, the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, so many things to assist us. So I liked that and how he also connected it to baseball...

On Friday I had to do four baptismal interviews. They were really good. I really enjoyed doing them and seeing how strong their testimonies are and hearing about their conversion stories.

This Tuesday we have our Conference with Elder Christoffersen so I'm stoked for that. On Saturday we are doing a service project on the little island off the coast in our zone called Manono Tai. We're painting a school so that'll be really cool. I'm excited to get to go to that little island.

The work is really great and I wouldn't trade it for anything else. It's going by too fast!

Alofa tele lava ia outou!

-Elder Tana

A photo of the buses that are all over the place.  It's really cool how they make them.  They just take the engine part and then build the whole body around it out of wood.

Makerita is on the left and the other lady is a nice member of the ward that comes to our lessons.  I'm actually not sure who the kids belong to!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 17- Survived 1st week as a trainer/district leader

Malo le Soifua!

This week, a lot changed.

My "son" (trainee) is Elder Fifita. Ia te sau mai Tonga. Thankfully he speaks pretty good English. Samoan and Tongan are so similar so his Samoan will most likely be way better than mine after these twelve weeks. He is such a humble missionary. He works really hard and he is so nice. Almost too nice. The other day he asked to carry my proselyting bag for me. I said no of course (I ain't a wimp) but I was caught off guard that he would ask something like that. He is such a caring Elder.

Since being called to be a trainer and district leader, my responsibilities have skyrocketed. Elder Powelson made it seem so easy. The hardest part is probably having to talk on the phone with Samoans. They talk so fast and I can hardly understand them in person let alone on the phone.

We had some really good visits this week but there are two that stick out. One was with one of our recent converts Iutita. When we were trying to decide which way we would take to get to her house, we felt we should go on the main road. On the way there, we ran in to her and she was about to go do something so we told her we wanted to visit with her. We started talking and I asked how she's felt since being baptized. She went on to tell us that the day before her baptism, a person from another church started telling her that everything about our church is wrong. We decided to share the first lesson again with her (The Restoration) and talked about all the ways Heavenly Father shows his love for us. When we finished the lesson, we asked her how she was feeling. She said one sentence and then starting crying. I was in shock. I didn't know what to do. We just sat in silence a little bit. Then she continued talking about her testimony and how she knows the church is true. The spirit was so strong. It was so cool.

As we were walking away from the house I was still in shock. She is this 19-year-old girl who has never really shown any emotion. The rest of the day I was trying to just comprehend those 45 minutes and the feelings we experienced.

Another good lesson we had was with Kovia. His baptism is set for the 30th of this month. In our last visit with him he asked us why it's important to get baptized and he didn't really have much motivation to get baptized. We left him with a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon because we had to go.  So when we went back, we read that chapter together with him in 2 Nephi chapter 31. It's an awesome chapter and after we read it, we didn't even have to ask him.  He just said he wanted to be baptized. That was just a testimony builder for me of the Book of Mormon. It's such a powerful witness of Christ and His church.

Our Stake here in Samoa is one of the three lucky stakes that D. Todd Christofferson is visiting so I'll get to see him twice. Lucky me!!

Alofa atu outou

-Elder Sterner

 This is a spot on the other side of the island where we hold devotionals.  It really is paradise.

This is the little pool thing we were able to rinse off in while we were staying on the "other side" of the island for our Christmas program.  The island across the way is beautiful but uninhabited.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 10, 2016

Talofa Lava!

A lot happened this week. I'll start with what happened in the last couple hours.
Transfers are this week and my companion and I both had a feeling at least one of us was going to get transferred. We were supposed to get a call from the zone leaders Sunday night but they never called. We called them again this morning and they still didn't know what was happening. Then President Hannemann called. I got kinda nervous and then he said he wanted to talk to me and I knew exactly what he was going to ask.

He has called me to be a trainer!! I'm going to be with a brand new missionary and I still consider myself an extremely new missionary. It was a really good phone call and he mentioned how young Joseph Smith was when he was called to restore the gospel and how David was able to slay Goliath when he was so young. I know its going to be really hard since I'm no David, but I'm going to grow so much in every way. I'm really excited to get started.

We had two baptisms this Saturday. I don't know if I mentioned this last week, but Tinei's wife was already a member of the church. So we had two baptisms instead of three. Tinei is awesome. He has been receiving the lessons since May. I don't know what was different, but something changed in him. He stopped having doubts and his testimony grew so fast. He's already a priest!

Our other baptism was with a 15-year-old girl. We had turned off the baptismal font at the right depth earlier in the day. Then we found out they were doing Primary baptisms too, so they let some water out and the font was really low. I performed the baptism and I'm glad she was able to get all the way under the water the first time -  ha ha.

This is going to be an extremely interesting week and I cant wait to get it started!  I'm sure I'll have lots of news next week.

Hope all is well! Manuia le vaiaso!

Alofa atu outou

Elder Tana

Tinei and his family

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Manuia le Tausaga Fou!

We had a slight setback and couldn't baptize the couple we married on Christmas because the place to file the marriage papers was closed all week. So'o's baptism made up for it. It was so awesome. She was so excited to get baptized that she was already standing in the water before they announced her name to enter the water. When we confirmed her on Sunday she was balling. The Spirit was so strong. She is the sweetest lady. She is always smiling and happy.

This week we have the couple getting baptized and then a 15-year-old girl as well. Helping these great people enter the waters of baptism is the best.

New Years Eve was pretty crazy. The locals played volleyball from 9:00 at night till we woke up in the morning. It was crazy!

We've had two different new companions with us this week. The first one was a visa waiter waiting to go to Papua New Guinea. He was feeling really homesick and some of the mission leaders came and picked him up to help him work through some of those feelings we probably all have to varying degrees.  I hope he started feeling better about things.  The second one is Elder Afuvai. He's from Washington and has been out for 17 months. He is a super cool and funny guy.

This week for training I had to lead all the lessons. It was really good. I realized I know more than I think I know. It was funny, sometimes during the lessons, I would say a sentence and not really think about it in English. After I would say it, I was like shoot, what did I say?! but then I would think about what I said and it made sense. Hopefully that's a good sign. I definitely learned a lot this week and I know more about the language than I thought.  Who knew?

That was my week. Hope all is well!! Love you all!

Elder Sterner

Sweet So'o at her baptism.

This is Elder Sa'u. He is from the village I'm serving in right now. He's one of my favorites.
He is SO funny. He knows probably three words in English - I. Love. You.
He is just the funniest guy and always has the happiest face.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas in Samoa & Getting to Skype with the family

A message from mom and dad:
We were able to Skype with Justin on Christmas Day from LA for about two hours off and on.  It was so great to see his face and be able to have that interaction with him.  I think he was a little overwhelmed with the whole situation and so were we.  We miss him so much.  We were able to ask him a bunch of questions and he got to tell us what he has been doing.  He was sweating so much the whole time we talked to him because it is so hot and humid.  He eventually started fanning himself which helped and there were a lot of loud birds in the background too.  At one point, he had to walk over to the church building to fill the font for the baptism so we got a good look at his little house, some surrounding jungle areas, and the church building.  He bore his testimony in Samoan which was really cool.  We couldn't understand any of it, but he did a really good job and we definitely felt the spirit of what he was saying.  I think his Samoan is getting better than he thinks it is and he continues to work hard to grasp the language.  We are all so grateful for the opportunity we had to spend talking with him and seeing his face.  It was the highlight of our Christmas day.  We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that the New Year is filled with good health and happiness.

Manuia le Kerisimasi ma le tausaga fou!!

My White Christmas was successful! Three awesome baptisms. It was such an awesome experience. When they come up out of the water there is just a different spirit about them. I could tell they were different and I know they felt the spirit so strong. Sometimes days are really hard but seeing people come unto Christ and me being able to say I was able to help them just a little bit, there is no better feeling.

This week was a lot different than any other week. Tuesday and Wednesday night we had a zone sleepover in one of the chapels because we had to be up super early to go to the backside of the island for a service project. The backside of the island is way less civilized but it is SO beautiful. We woke up Wednesday morning at 4 and we had a devotional on the beach at 8. We had some koko Samoa and buttered bread for breakfast and then we headed to the school where we completed the service project. We painted the whole school and it looked really nice when it was finished.

Our one shower for the three days was interesting.  We got to shower in a natural pool thing right by the ocean. There is a little funnel that lets fresh water come in and out with the tides. When President Hannemann was checking it out, one of the AP's pushed him in!!

After that, each zone performed a skit and the whole village was supposed to show up. Apparently, one of the really high chiefs passed away and they were doing the funeral that day so nobody showed up. It was kind of a bummer but still really fun. After that we went back to the chapel and slept.

The next morning we had a song practice for our performance in front of the Parliament Building. After that we had our Christmas lunch which was really good. Then we went to the chapel and hung out there for a while until it was time for our singing thing. We did our songs and it went well. Everyone said we did a good job. Then we went back home and got to bed around 11.

Christmas in Samoa is pretty much just like every other day. The only difference is that kids are running around with toy guns and just a lot more volleyball is being played than usual.

This week we have three more baptisms. So'o is one of them and the couple we married Christmas morning are also getting baptized.

I want to invite everyone who reads this whether you're a member of this church or not to read the book called, Our Search for Happiness. It is such an awesome book and if anyone wants to learn more about the church or has questions about something pertaining to the gospel, this book will answer it. I've read it twice already and it has strengthened my testimony and my knowledge of the gospel so much. It's just a really good book and I know anyone who reads it will benefit from it.

Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and hope you all have a fun, safe New Years.

Alofa ia te outou!

Elder Sterner

Meeting up with my group from the MTC at our Christmas Dinner.

It was such an honor to be a part of the baptisms
of these three new members of the church.