Thursday, 25 February 2016

Week 6

Footscray: Feb 15-21, 2016

The week had been about historical tour during preparation day (P-day), pondering and likening scriptures, member visits, teachings, flat inspection, and transfer news.

Zone Preparation Day 
(P-day), Feb 15

From the train station on Flinders Street, we passed by the Cathedral and Melbourne Visitors Center.

Melbourne Visitors Center at Federation Square, opposite Flinders Street.

The tram from Flinders Station to the Shrine had the ad about the Book of Mormon Musical. Though making fun of the book and the missionaries, this musical is an opportunity to arouse interest of the people about the BOM and could be a venue to know the truth. 

Shrine of Remembrance
For the Australian soldiers who fought valiantly to defend their country. I found they had poppies and "Lest we forget" inscription just like Canada.  As I pondered on this, I was reminded of Captain Moroni who led the Nephites so that they could preserve their rights, privileges and liberty to worship God (Alma 43:9); and also of the faithful pioneers who endured persecutions and painfully traveled to Salt Lake City.

I can stretch my arms for a few minutes while Christ lengthens His arms out all the time for those who repent and come unto Him (2 Ne 28:32).

Columns- Just like how these columns support the building, we too shall be supported in our trials, troubles and afflictions if we put our trust in God.

Elder Higham, DL in the other district of our zone, is from Washington DC so I asked him if this place reminds him of home and he said "the Abraham Lincoln Memorial without the pond".. haha.. I told him I visited Washington DC and he said I should go back coz there's more to see.

Behind me is the city of Melbourne.

Medals of Honor - we will never get medals of honor for our service.  We, missionaries, invite people to come unto Christ not for more membership in the church or for honor of the world, but "for the glory of my God," (Alma 60:36).

Our District comprised of 8 Elders (teaching in Vietnamese), my companion and I. 

L to R: Elder Mahendran (DL), Elder Rands (ZL), Elder Vo, Elder Erekson, Elder Howell (ZL), and Elder Roberts.

Two Elders did not show up - Elder Finau & Elder Valenciano.  Also, no zone photo because the other district left early.

The Elders took care of the Vietnamese members and activation of the less actives (almost 400 in the list but some might have moved already).  Every Sunday, those Viet who couldn't understand English very well were provided with headphones and the Elders took turns in translating.  Elder Rands got his mission call to teach in English, however, when he got here over a year ago, Pres. Maxwell assigned him to teach Viet instead.  He was surprised but amazingly, he learned to speak Viet really well.  Gift of tongues? This gift can only be obtained with effort; I'm pretty sure Elder Rands labored and struggled and did all he can to learn the language.  Sometimes I struggled to express myself plainly, simply and clearly to the people we teach but put my trust that the Spirit will help me. The Spirit carries the message of truth unto the hearts of the people and its up to them to accept the truth.

From the Shrine, we went back to Footscray with Elder Stebner and Elder Banner (L-R). Elder Stebner will be going home to Edmonton, Alberta on Feb. 23rd.

Bought the infamous Footscray Donuts with the raspberry filling.  Previous missionaries in this area loved the donuts because they're warm and fresh.  For me, they tasted like shakoy with raspberry filling.  We delighted ourselves in fatness (2Ne 9:51).

Bell Family 
In the evening of same day, we joined the Bell family for dinner and Family Home Evening (FHE). They moved to Australia from Nauvoo, Illinois more than a year ago, with 3 young boys – Colton, Rylan, and Rhett.  We shared about the importance of speaking kind words.  Since the family came from Nauvoo, I shared my Nauvoo experience last year and our conversation touched on how I was able to save money for travels and my mission.  I know that I have been blessed by giving tithes. Sister Albania also asked me to share my oatmeal diet, where I bring oatmeal to work instead of buying lunch to save money for mission and travels.   Just like Alma, with much labor and blessings of tithing, I was able to support my travels.

Sister Barnes
The next day, we got to join Sister Barnes, Primary president, for dinner. She was very generous to accommodate us when our appointments with Sister Neist and Leha family (mom was sick) were cancelled.  She drove about 20 minutes to pick us up.   

While waiting for her, a flower sculpture caught my attention.  I want my testimony to grow to the height of this sculpture and a way to do it is to go to the temple often, a house of prayer and learning, a house of God.

Sister Barnes works as PA for a CEO and likes to plan events.  We shared Alma 37:37 about prayer "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good;.." Sister Barnes said this reminded her how she used to pray so hard when she was searching for a place to move near her workplace and how that prayer was answered.  She accepted our invitation to pray often and vocally.

My first tim tam slam!  Had success after two attempts. Fun to be Aussie!

Sister Barnes said that "your call picked me up."  Then I replied "thank you for picking us up." She laughed, thought I was cheeky smart.  Oh, the phrase "pick up."

Williamstown Beach is 2 minutes away from Sister Barnes in the background.

Flat inspection on the 19th - the senior missionaries said our flat was clean, horray!! just needed to fix the blinds to ensure privacy in the living room. 

L-R: Elder & Sis McFadden, Elder & Sis Wilding.  The Wildings will replace the McFaddens who will be going home next month.

Wilma and family 

With  Baby Akoch during our visit to Wilma this week

A call from the Bishop for almost an hour directing us to visit recent converts.  The Bishop directs the missionary work in the ward.

Did I tell you that my senior companion, Sister Albania, comes from Makati, Philippines? Her 18th month will be June 2016.

Sunday -
Madlen gave a talk at Sacrament meeting about speaking kind words.  She's Austrian and worked for the Bell family.

Relief Society served cupcakes after the class.

Transfer news? transfer - both of us will stay at Footscray! 

We rejoice - horraay!


Standing on guard

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Week 5

Footscray: Feb 8-14, 2016

The week’s highlight was the baptism of Stephen on Feb 13th!  What an amazing journey from the time he was found biking by the Polynesian sisters, then to our teaching moments, his leaving behind smoking and coffee, and his commitment for baptism. Stephen's efforts not to give in to temptations are commendable! Now he's no longer camera shy.  Bro. Matt Wittington (who works in Antartica on seasonal basis) was with him during the lesson and made the drawing on the board while Elder Mahendran, district leader, did the baptismal interview and Derrick Leatitagaloa, ward mission leader, baptized him.  Sister Albania sang while I played the piano for his favorite hymn, Abide with Me, hymn no. 166.

As we come closer to Christ, we will face challenges and temptations, but as long as we seek God, He will give us the strength to overcome them.  Just like Stephen.

The sisters (R to L), Sisters Tempaiia, Bennett and Edrada, saw Stephen biking everyday; one morning they decided to talk to Stephen. They came to the baptism with special permission.

Other activities during the week were:  
1. Chinese / Vietnamese New Year on Monday, Feb. 8 - a program was held in the city branch, though out of our area, the zone leaders approved our presence together with Stephen, still an investigator at that time, and Bob Gilchrist, a recent convert and Stephen's fellowshipper. The Elders sang I Need Thee Every Hour in Vietnamese with Elder Howell playing the guitar.  Elder Howell and Elder Rands are the zone leaders.

It is amazing how the gospel unites people of different cultures and traditions.  It is exciting to search for our family history and learn the traditions and cultures of our forefathers.

Jake of the Australian Ballet also performed during the program.

Jake or Elder Mangakahia served in Canada Toronto Mission from 2013 to 2015.  Before he performed, he introduced me, saying that he was serving in Oshawa Ontario YSA Branch (my home branch) when I received my mission call.

Jake is the son of the famous performer Bernard Mangakahia.

2. Zone meeting on the 9th where I played There is Sunshine in My Soul Today and The Spirit of God on the piano.

3. My first companion exchange on the 10th where I got to plan what to do and where to go. With Sister Chen (senior training leader), we went to Altona Meadows, the farthest suburb in our area. We tried to find Collin, a referral, but when we couldn't find his address, we did tracting and found 5 new contacts. Sister Chen said she didn't feel that I'm a new missionary because I was thorough with maps, train and bus schedules and no time was wasted in travelling.  What also amazed her was that I woke up at 6:20 ready for the day.

4. A visit to Altona with Sister Albania on the 12th. 

Our goal is to do finding 2 hours each day or 14 hours a week.  When we obey, we find people to teach.  Obedience brings blessings.

5. Sabbath Day, the 14th and Valentines Day

Our investigator, Wilma, and the kids attended church. I was Wilma's GPS so we rode with them to church. Wilma's girls are Nyageith (in pink) and Akoch (in car seat) and the 2 boys (Kiir and Juma) at the back who both said 'duck' when they saw the camera.  Juma prayed twice already during lessons.  We will follow-up on their church experience in our next visit and hope they will come to church again next Sunday. 

I gave a talk in church today about how the Book of Mormon influenced me to go on a mission.  The members said that they enjoyed my sense of humor, found my talk funny, fascinating, and inspiring and will always remember me.  I know that they were just being polite.  I will probably post my talk one of these days.

And oh, the Bardzinski couple, Steve and Satomi, are moving to another branch! I'll miss them, they were the first to give us a ride to our investigator. Steve served a mission in Japan and can speak Japanese. Steve and Satomi met in Australia before his mission. 

Our Valentine treats - got to share them!

Canadian Eh!

I got this Canadian flag from Elder Stebner who will be going home next week to Alberta, Canada.  I signed my name on the flag and will give this to the next Canadian missionary that I will meet along the way.


Our flat on Ruperts St. 

Checking for's empty, so sad!

Seeking shade on a terribly hot afternoon

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Week 4

Footscray: Feb 1-7, 2016

What a busy and joyful week!  The baptism of the 3 kids of the Hanley family on Feb 7!  The kids invited their friends and they came. Remember their dad, Rob, who doesn’t want to be baptized but wants to be sealed with his family?..^_^...yes, he came to the ordinance wearing a WHITE SHIRT and a TIE along with some of their non-member relatives. What a joy! I always delight in seeing families who are brought together by the gospel.  (Photos below)

Alexandra, 12, Ethan, 10, Joel, 8. Behind them are Dad Rob and Mom Kylie. Beside Alex is Elder Rands, our zone leader, who will baptize her and Joel.  Behind me is Elder Roberts who will baptize Ethan.

We are also preparing our invesigator, Stephen, for his baptism on the 13th.  He showed a lot progress in the Word of Wisdom.  A bit camera shy.

Wednesday, Feb 3 - our Golden Review. The January Goldens, not Greenies, haha, or the missionaries with whom I came to Melbourne last Jan 13th, nine of us, took the challenge of writing the 22 Principles with scriptures the fastest. Well, I'm very competitive in nature and I took the challenge seriously. My companion and I practiced writing on the mirror using the erasable markers. Well, you can say our efforts paid off. I got a Crunchie chocolate –prize, oh, and I found out the different kinds of Cadbury chocolates, never seen them before anywhere else.  However, the real prize was that I was able to familiarize the Principles and know what scripture to use during teaching.
Melbourne Temple

Thursday, Feb 4 - our Zone Conference, a recharger! I love the training during zone conference. T’was from 9am-5pm but it felt like it was cut short. I wanted to learn more. I was reminded of the promise that the Spirit will always be there when we teach people (as long as we are worthy, obedient...and more). Sometimes I forget that promise when I shouldn't. If I don't believe or have confidence on that promise, then giving promises to the people we teach won't be as effective. I want to rely on the Spirit. Sister Maxwell also did a wonderful study session. Sometimes during personal study, I stumble on words /phrases /doctrine /history that I want to learn more and I think to myself that if I am back home and I have access to the internet, I can learn more things to guide me in my personal studies. However, Sister Maxwell reminded me that we can learn so much from the scriptures, if we just know how to use the index, topical guide, bible dictionary, etc. It was a very uplifting zone conference. Lunch was provided. After the meal, the zone stood up and sang "Called to Serve" to the Relief Society sisters who prepared the meal.

After church, we attended Missionary Fireside at Deer Park around 7 pm where missionaries with their recent converts and investigators gathered to listen to President Maxwell.  I met Elder Saran, from Malaysia, and he said that Elder Concardas is his trainer/dad and if ever he meets someone who used to live in the Philippines and is now Canadian somewhere, to say 'Hi'. So Elder Saran finally met me yesterday and said 'Hi'..haha..

Every opportunity to share the gospel is golden. I met a recent convert named Holly and she shared to us her conversion story. She said that she used to tell the Elders that they were devil worshippers etc. But the missionaries kept coming back, kept following up on her. She said that she felt the Spirit, the feeling was so strong that eventually she got the answer to her prayers and decided to be baptized. 

Time flies on wings of lightning. Have a good week every one!. Remember CPR. It will save your life. Church. Prayer. Read the Scriptures.

In our flat

Sister Albania cooked spaghetti.  I ate!