Monday, February 22, 2016

February 21-Cyclones Circling

I tried to get a good picture of the temple when we went to Apia today

Hola Amigos!
This week was great. We didn't have a baptism because on Friday bishop called us and said they found her record.  But we found a part member/less active family and there are six people that aren't baptized. Four kids and two elders. We taught them the first lesson and it went well. They really liked it.  It's so fun to teach kids but its gonna be a little harder this time because three of them can't read. We just invited them to all read together. We also invited them to church and when we went to pick them up, as we walked up I noticed all the mosquito nets still up so I knew no one was awake. That was kind of a bummer...
We have two other investigators progressing quickly towards baptism. The teaching part has gotten a lot easier since I've been training and have had to take the lead for all the lessons but I still really struggle with the non-gospel conversations. The getting to know the people is really tough and that's one thing that I really feel is important. We're not just robots coming to shove our beliefs down people's throats, we truly care about them and want to help them any way we can.  I'll keep working at it.
There has been a cyclone circling the pacific this whole week. I think it made three loops. It hit Tonga the first time, then Tonga again and Fiji a little and then the last time it hit Fiji really bad. I saw a video of it and houses were destroyed. It was pretty crazy... It missed us every time which was really lucky.
I've been in Faleasi'u for four months and I'll be here for another two months unless something crazy happens and I get transferred in the middle of me training my "son". I love this ward so much and I don't want to leave. The people are so loving and so nice. It was hard watching Elder Powelson say goodbye to people and he was only here for three months. I already know it's gonna be really hard to say goodbye to everyone especially our recent converts and current investigators. There is so much work here as well. I was talking with one of our zone leaders and told him that I've already taken part in nine baptisms. He's been out for 13 months and hasn't had nine so it's been great to have people so receptive here. 
Our fafaga on Sunday was interesting. I think he is a less active because the house smelled like cigarettes and he was drinking Ava Samoa. After each meal, it is customary for the person who received the meal to say a speech which pretty much is just saying thank you for everything and then blessing them. We do one at just about every fafaga but this time was a little different. I started saying the speech and he was just like, "Elders, Elders, Elders......" I was thinking oh no what did I do...? what did I do wrong...? He started to tear up (I think he was a little over emotional because of the ava) and said that we don't need to thank him we need to thank Jesus. I was relieved. I thought he was gonna start correcting me and telling me I was doing something wrong. It was an interesting fafaga to say the least.
No baptisms this week but hopefully one next week!
Alofa atu
-Elder Tana

This is a coconut that has started to grow into a coconut tree. the stuff that looks like ice cream is foamy and it tastes like coconut. Its really sweet and good.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Malo le soifua!!!!

This week went really well. I was kinda stressed going into the week because we had a lot of stuff to get done but it all went smoothly and according to plan which I was extremely happy about.

Our baptisms went really well. The spirit was super strong and I know it was something they'll never forget. The three people we baptized this week just kinda fell into our hands. Kovia lives in Sale'imoa which is about an hour walk from our house. We had been teaching him since November I think. He is such a humble guy and really has a strong desire to come unto Christ. It was really fun to watch him grow in the gospel and open up to us and desire to know more.

Matthew and Sharon are brother and sister. Matthew is 10 and Sharon is 12. We had taught Matthew a while back but his dad said he didn't want him to be baptized yet. He changed his mind and allowed us to visit with Matthew and Sharon as well. They were so fun to teach. They just loved learning about the church and every lesson we were laughing and just having fun.

Our baptism this week is the wife of Tinei. That one guy we baptized with rasta hair. It's funny because everyone knows him as "Rasta". Most people don't even know his name. When we first met them, she said she was baptized but we called the bishop to search for them and he confirmed she was baptized. Then like a week later, he said she wasn't. Then like a week before Tinei's baptism he said she was so we didn't baptize her. And then just last week bishop walks in to our class at church on Sunday and says she isn't so she is getting baptized this week!  It was a lot of back and forth, but we're all excited we finally got to the bottom of it all.

This week I have been reading from D&C and I came across a scripture I really liked. Its D&C Section 133 verse 53.

Faapea mai le mau,

"In all their afflictions‍ he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed‍ them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old."

He knows us perfectly. He knows what we're feeling and knows exactly how to help us and I'm so beyond grateful for that knowledge. He lives. He loves each one of us entirely and perfectly.

alofa lava atu ia te outou

-Elder Tana

Matthew and Sharon's baptism

Kovia's baptism

This week we received the e-mail below from his ward mission leader:

Hello sister Sterner
Well I am Temple, your son Elder Sterner is in my ward he's serving here and he's a great missionary. I got your email from him earlier after our baptism. I know it's so hard to received photos of him in his mission so this is why I get your email so I can send you pictures of him will send pictures of our baptism earlier we have 3 earlier :) have a great day and God bless.

Temple Leaupepetele

It was so cool of Temple to reach out to us.  Here are a couple of the pictures he sent to us.  It looks like they're having fun while working hard.....

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Super Bowl Sunday - Feb. 7th


This week was really good and we had a lot of really good, fun lessons. We have three baptisms this week which is awesome and we think we can hopefully have 6 or 7 this month.

Two of the people getting baptized this week are two kids. Their names are Matthew and Sharon and we taught them just about everyday this week. Matthew is nine and Sharon is twelve. When we taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ we thought of a really good way to help them understand. I got some warheads, the super sour candies, and used them when we talked about repentance. How when you sin and haven't repented it's sour and painful but after repentance it's sweet. I have a video of it and it's so funny. They are so fun to teach and they love the gospel and taking the lessons.

There is this one lady that has been chasing us around really wanting to talk with us but we just haven't had time to visit with her.  This week we were finally able to. Her name is Iloga. We visited with Iloga, Iloga's mother, and Iloga's children. As the lesson went on, she told us that she is already baptized and her mom is as well. They hadn't been to church in forever. The grandma started talking and she just said how she visited a bunch of different churches but she has always known the church is true. Iloga's children aren't baptized and we are going to start lessons with them. We invited them all to church and they came and the grandma went and bore her testimony which was really awesome. Iloga's daughter's name is Rosa and she loved church. She had the biggest smile on her face all day which was so cool.

On Thursday, we were walking to a visit and this guy stopped us and he wanted to talk to us. He said he wanted to talk in English. It was so weird. I felt weird speaking English and it was really hard for me to think of things to say.

I can't wait for this week and our baptisms on Saturday! Always super busy which is good!

Alofa atu

Elder Sterner

Drinking a fresh niu that our ward mission leader got from the tree and my companion opened it.

One of the strange fruits in season right now. It's really good. You peel it and its kind of like a grape with a big seed on the inside. It's really sweet and tasty. We saw one of the trees in front of someone's house and we asked if we could buy some and we got about 20 for 5 bucks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Elder Christofferson & service project on Manono Tai

Hello everyone!!

This week was one of the best on my mission so far.

On Tuesday we had a mission conference with Elder Christofferson. All of Upolu and Savai'i came but poor Tutuila missed out. It was really good seeing some of the Elders who have been serving in Savai'i from my MTC group.  Elder Christofferson was amazing. We got to shake his hand which was sweet. He talked for almost two hours with no notes. Just straight revelation. He gave the opportunity to us to ask questions and one elder asked a pretty funny question. Everyone has heard those stories about when an Apostle visits a mission he maybe gets a feeling or something about a certain missionary so this missionary asked if Elder Christofferson felt anything specific about him. Everyone was laughing and he said he didn't feel anything specific but he said to study the doctrine of the priesthood. Everyone was still laughing and stuff but then it hit me that what he said was direct revelation. He could've said anything but he said to study the Doctrine of the priesthood so I thought that was cool.

When he bore his testimony at the end it was so simple but so powerful. It always gives me the chills when they say they "witness that Jesus is the Christ." One day I hope to bear the same witness that Jesus is the Christ.  For now, I will continue to testify in faith.

It was something that I'll never forget. I learned so much and I'm trying to apply what I learned to each day.

We had a lot of good visits this week with our investigators. It was funny after one visit, we were leaving and my companion turned to me and he was saying how I understood everything and was able to answer their questions and teach them according to their needs. When he said that it kind of hit me that I was able to speak and understand. I give ALL the credit to the Lord and His help in learning the language.  It really is a miracle and a blessing.

Training my companion these past few weeks I've noticed my language skills are growing a lot. When I was getting trained and I didn't understand something I would tune out because I knew my companion could answer. But now I'm the only person to turn to. So it has forced me to really listen and mostly rely on the Spirit to help me understand them.

On Friday I went on an exchange with the zone leaders. I went to the zone leaders area and my companion stayed in Faleasi'u. I did a baptismal interview for the zone leaders and we got a couple visits in. In one of the visits this lady sucked down two cigarettes right in front of us and we weren't there for longer than 10 minutes. It was pretty funny.  It was really fun getting to be in a different area and meet new people.

Saturday we had to be up at 4:00am to head over to the wharf to take a little boat over to Manono Tai to do the service project. When we got there, there was only enough paint stuff for the ward members to paint so all the missionaries went around the island picking up trash. I was totally okay with that because I wanted to walk around and see the whole island. On the island it's against the village rules to have cars, bikes, or dogs. It only takes a little over an hour to walk around the whole island. It's so beautiful. I don't think the kids there had ever seen a white kid before so they were especially fun to talk to.

Hope everyone is doing well back on the mainland. In Samoa they call America the Malo tele which means giant kingdom.

Alofa atu outou!

-elder tana

On Manono Tai. There are four little islands between Upolu and Savai'i. Manono Tai is one of them and then you can see Savai'i in the background.

On the little boat on the way back with our zone