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