Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Special Mission Meeting

June 13, 2016

We have mission meeting today at the Maroondah Chapel (same chapel as the mission office).  All missionaries came except the Tasmania; they got it by broadcast.  I joined in the choir who sang for the church leaders.  Inspiring messages and counsels were given (posted below).

From church news "Church Leaders Meet with Melbourne Missionaries"  

President and Sister Maxwell with Elder Nielsen

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Linda S. Reeves of the Church’s Relief Society general presidency, and Sister Carol McConkie of the Church’s Young Women general presidency met with missionaries from the Australia Melbourne Mission today. Also attending the meeting was Australian Church leader, Elder Robert J. Dudfield.
Elder Nielsen was accompanied by his wife, Sister Wendy Nielsen. Sister Reeves was accompanied by her husband, Mel Reeves, Sister McConkie was accompanied by her husband, Oscar McConkie III and Elder Dudfield was accompanied by his wife Darice.
President Cory Maxwell and Sister Karen Maxwell of the Australia Melbourne Mission also attended.
Sister McConkie told the missionaries, “My husband taught me how to be a missionary. His mission in Spain became a foundation of faith as we raised our family.”
She added, “Blessings will flow for generations in your family because of righteous missionary service.”
“I am the result of two missionaries knocking on my parents’ door when I was very young. Except for life itself, the greatest gift I could have received was the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life.”
Sister McConkie told the missionaries, “The Saviour walks with you. He knows you and loves you. You do what He would do and say as His representatives. That is your identity—who you are.”
Oscar McConkie told the missionaries, “You are special young men and women. The Lord loves his missionaries and blesses them.”
“We loved our missionary experience as mission president and wife,” Sister Reeves said. “We have commented together that we would go back there in a second.”
“Your mission does not end when you return home. As you return home, you can make it with flying colours because you have learned to follow the spirit. Virtue and cleanliness are so so, so important. Do everything to remain so when you go home.
Scripture study, prayer, keeping commandments and covenants. Make the commitment right now to ensure you maintain this at home. I plead with you, please, please.”
Sister Reeves added, “This is His church and priesthood power. Ordinances and covenants will bring every one of His children back into His presence. The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes everything clean.”
Mel Reeves said, “We are the parents of 13 children, but had over 500 missionaries we presided over when we were in the mission field. We now have 535 children.”
“You were not called here by accident. The Lord knows you and has called you here. As you are faithful and obedient the spirit will guide you. God will lead you to those who He has prepared.”
Sister Karen Maxwell and her husband, President Cory Maxwell, are coming to the close of three years of service and leadership in the Australia Melbourne Mission.
“We have loved serving with you,” Sister Maxwell said. “We are united in our efforts to preach repentance. We have a bond with all of you missionaries for eternity. I love your dedication to the Lord. You inspire me. Thank you for being you.”
“The Book of Mormon is a marvellous work and has been an inspiration throughout my life.”
President Maxwell said, it has been “a privilege to serve.”
“I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I would not want anyone to not know it, or that we have a prophet who leads and guides us today.”
Elder Nielsen shared with those in attendance his feelings for the Melbourne mission leaders. “The Maxwells have exemplied the teaching found in Timothy, ‘Be thou an example of believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.’ This is how they have led.”
Sister Nielsen said that mission presidents and their wives “are perfect for their missionaries.”
She asked the young missionaries to write on a card the qualities that they have seen and felt in their mission leaders. As some of the comments were shared, President and Sister Maxwell expressed gratitude for the outpouring of love that was evident. 
In concluding remarks, Elder Nielsen said: “We have come bringing the love of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.”
“You are absolute miracles, being here in the mission field. You have gone through the process, and your application has gone to prophets and apostles to assign you by revelation.
“Some of you have been assigned because you were meant to be here, and some have been called here because you needed to serve under the leadership of the Maxwells.”
Quoting from the Book of Mormon, Elder Nielsen urged the missionaries “to be agents to act, not to be acted upon.”
“Missionary service is a time to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to those we meet every day and to prepare for future service. We are here to create a foundation for the rest of our lives"

The Leaders and Missionaries

Sister Missionaries

Sister McConkie, YW Gen Presidency

Sister Reeves, Primary Gen Presidency

Week 23

Tarneit and Werribee: June 13-19, 2016

A busy wonderful week!   STLs  (Sister Training Leaders) are also nicknamed 'traveling sisters'  or 'taxi service' coz we travel heaps..but its funnn..

June 13, Monday - We had Mission Meeting with visiting leaders - Elder Nielsen, Sister McConkie and Sister Reeves. This meeting was covered by LDS News and posted in my next blog.

June 14, Tuesday - Zone meeting today.  My companion and I gave training to missionaries how to get/guide our investigators to celestial kingdom.  We also got to visit lots of individuals and families today.  Thanks to the Griffith Sisters who were with us and helped us cover twice the work in our areas.

    Photo below: Visited the Vini family; this is Louie.  He wanted to come with us.

June 15, Wednesday - It had been some time since I walked far.  I like walking, the trees were so beautiful.  Our house was in Werribee and visited two part-member families - Wyse and Stricklands.  I enjoyed their kids - so cute and very active. Photo with Sister Faiga below

I also met Joshua, Filipino, recent convert with a strong testimony; had the same job and talks like my father, also does crazy stuff to his clients like my papa..hahaha..

We also had dinner with the Brown's.  Bro. Brown was our ward mission leader.  After dinner, we had a correlation meeting, though usually, we do this on Thursdays.

June 16, Thursday - Today, we drove early to Heidelberg Chapel at 7am. Then we attended the combined Heidelberg and Craigieburn conference.  We gave training on divine identity.

        Craigieburn Zone

         Heidelberg Zone

Sister Triptee finally got her visa and will be leaving for Salt Lake on June 28th.  Photo with Sister Santos and Sister Triptee.

Sis Paulo (behind her is Sister Nepia, companion of Sister Santos), Sister Murphy, Sister Wairepo, Sister Triptee, Sister Santos, Me, Sister Cruz, Sister Baiamere

Every opportunity I take photo with Pres. and Sis. Maxwell because they are leaving soon..hehe..

This is our family: Sis Wairepo, my grandmom; her daughter Sis Paulo, her granddaughter Sis Murphy; Sis Wairepo also trained Sis Santos, then Sis Santos follow up trained me so I'm like a step granddaughter..haha..

June 17, Friday - Today we cleaned the chapel for an hour, then attended DLC.  After DLC, they sang "Happy Birthday" to me.  My companion told everyone about my birthday.  I didn't like the attention but I learned to smile and say "Thank you."  Elder Whiting made me ice cream+cookie dough+brownie dessert. Elder Prestousa made me leche flan.

 My Birthday Treats 

More birthday presents: a blue watch from Stephen, cookies and cream from Sister Wairepo, the mystery box from Sister Santos.

This is Rachel and Lloyd.  They role-played to us  the missionary lessons every week.  They were good and even made efforts to draw and do cut-outs.

For our dinner today, Sister Fautima dropped us KFC.  It is very common here to have KFC drop offs but I like it because I like their chicken..haha..  Also later today, the Craigieburn Sisters arrived for our exchanges tomorrow.  Sister Cruz and I planned for the things to do tomorrow.

June 18, Saturday - Worked with Sister Cruz today, back to driving and fun..Tonight I received a voicemail from President and Sister Maxwell singing "happy birthday" and greetings!

June 19, Sunday - Had dinner with the Katinapi family, very good to us.  The family had a baking business, made awesome, the best cake designs.  Got this New Zealand treat, Banoffie - banana with toffee crumble and whipped cream, yummy!

The week had been great.  I sent email to President Maxwell about the exchanges we had - the strengths of Sisters Faiga and Sister Cruz and the things I learned from them and from our companionship. Sister Faiga was good in getting to know people and in making tracting fun and spiritual. Sister Cruz, 4 months in the mission, was good in leading the lessons, has strong testimony and was bold in sharing it. I learned to become considerate and mindful since they told me that I walked fast that they could not catch a breath.  I also told President Maxwell that I have seen the hands of the Lord in my life and especially during my mission, that it is important to be grateful to the blessings and miracles I see each day.  I ended my email with "I appreciate the birthday greetings, thank you.  Thank you so much for all your service and love.  We love you."

Week 22

Tarneit and Werribee:  June 6 - 12, 2016
Teachings, Trainings and Travels

My 2nd week as Senior Training Leader (STL) with Sister Wairepo! There were 8 STLs - Westside, Eastside, City and Tasmania.  We were the Westside STLs and we covered Wyndham Zone, Deer Park, Wangaratta and Cragieburn Zones.

June 6, Monday - The usual P-Day Monday of e-mails, shopping, house and car cleaning. We then picked up the STLs from Tasmania (we call them the Tazzie Sisters) from the airport and drove to the city for dinner at the Stalactites, a Greek restaurant where we had souvlakis.

With Sister Larsen and Sister Johnson (mid L-R), Tasmania STLs
In preparation for the Mission Leader Council the next day, we spent the night at the Ozone Flat (the flat vacated by the senior couple who went home recently) instead of the mission home which was undergoing repainting.

June 7, Tuesday - Mission Leader Council (MLC) every first Tuesday of the month, my first! It was held at the Mission Home with the Assistants, Zone Leaders, STLs and President and Sister Maxwell.  It was a really cool experience.  We (the 8 STLs) ate breakfast with Sister Maxwell and helped her set up the training venue.  We received training and instructions that we needed to pass on to other missionaries. We looked after the sisters in our zones, had exchanges with them and aided them in their concerns.

Sister Wairepo, Sister Maxwell and Me
Lunch was again served at the Mission Home.  All STLs ate at the big table with Sister Maxwell. President Maxwell came in and offered us drinks; it was cute because he served us, then later joined us.  At 5 pm, after the MLC, we asked the Assistants if they could drive the Tazzie sisters back to the airport because we needed to attend the Stake President Meeting in Werribee.  However, 30 minutes during the meeting with the Stake President, the Assistants called us if we could pick up the Tazzie sisters from the airport since their flight was cancelled due to a big storm in Tasmania.  So we left the meeting, drove to the airport about 40 minutes, then another 40 minutes from airport to mission home.  President Maxwell invited us for dinner again; then drove back to our apartment instead of staying in the mission for the night because of our busy schedule the next day.

June 8, Wednesday - Today, we visited and taught as scheduled to quite a number of people.  After 7 pm, we had a mini-exchange with the Sunshine Sisters.  I stayed with Sister Fakahokatau (been out from MTC for 1 week only) while my companion drove Sister Tua'a'alo to the mission home for the choir practice.  They will sing during the visit of the General YW and RS leaders (Sister Reeves and Sister McConkie) this Monday.  Sister Fakahokatau and I visited an investigator family with 10 kids.  The family was good and we got a return appointment.  I hope they will be baptized.  The Sunshine Sisters spent the night with us in preparation for the Zone Conference the next day.

June 9, Thursday - Zone Conference for Deer Park and Wyndham Zones. As STL, we gave training about Divine identity.

Deer Park Zone
Wyndham Zone

Elder Gourlie told me to arise and take up thy bed and walk because he saw me carrying these sheets..he was so funny! (With Sister Fkahokatau and Sister Tua'a'alo in the photo)

After the Zone Conference, about 5 pm, we packed and drove to Griffith for another zone conference of the Wangaratta. Griffith is about 7 hrs drive from Werribee.  I love the trip but hard to stay awake.  On our way, I saw a lot of kangaroos and wallabies but most of them dead by the roadside which was sad. These animals attempted to cross the roads but when they saw cars, they stopped in the middle and risked being hit by the vehicles.  We arrived Griffith at 11:45, then went to sleep.

June 10, Friday - We woke up at 4 am and drove 5 am to Wangaratta for the conference for another 3 hrs drive.  We then again gave training. It was fun to get to travel and see new places and other missionaries. Wangaratta is a zone they call Bush or country.

Wangaratta Zone

It was so good to be able to travel with the Maxwells in their last zone conferences.  We will miss them.

Sister Maxwell in her favorite Preach My Gospel wrote our cute..

We stayed with the senior couple serving in this area, Brother and Sister Hewletts.  We ate dinner with the Assistants, Elder Jensen and Elder Steele (L-R) and the Wangaratta Elders, Elder Valenciano and Elder Lawler.

Selfie with Sister Maxwell...

The Griffith sisters, remember them?

This lollies helped me to stay awake during our trip back to Werribee, 3 hrs from Wangaratta.  Griffith is another state in New South Wales, close to Sydney.  This week was really crazy busy and lots of travelling.

I was still adjusting to my new role as a senior leader.  Sister Wairepo had been helping me a lot and she led by example.

Our house is big because there used to be 4 sisters living here, before the two sisters were pulled out of Werribee. 


Sister Terripala and Sister Tupu, Eastside STLs

Mission Home
Our Planning Board
In our House

Werribee Chapel

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Week 21

Tarneit and Werribee: May 30 - June 5, 2016

May 30, Monday - My last day in Footscray, had lunch at the Delos Santos home with Sister Albania, Sister Cruz, Uncle Bob and Stephen.  Mommy Nessa cooked kare-kare (special request from Sis Albania), tocino, pizza, and meat pies.  After lunch and goodbyes, we dropped Sisters Albania and Cruz at the Footscray station.  Sister Albania would be done with her 18-month mission and would fly home to Philippines on Wednesday morning.  

This was my last photo with my mom, Sister Albania.  She had been a great companion and an example of an obedient missionary.  She taught me a lot of things. I loved her and would miss her but I expect to see her during her wedding if she would invite me..haha..

We then had Cottage Evening at Bro. Foster's house, my last cottage evening with them. Uncle Bob and Stephen gave me letters, gifts and flowers. I would miss the "cottage" group, whom I had wonderful memories. Bro. Foster called me a "scriptorian" because of me being able to quote scriptures fit to his lessons. When he asked me what scripture I am thinking, then I knew and would quote the scripture to him, that's how the Spirit works. I would miss the Delos Santos family, Uncle Bob and everybody.

When we returned to the flat, I packed my stuff. 

May 31, Tuesday - Today we drove to the Mission Office. I attended training for leaders which lasted for 2.5 hours and met my new companion, Sister Wairepo.  I also returned the keys and the car to Elder Gourie.  I was sad to be separated from my (the) car but good thing that we cleaned and vacuumed it.  Elder Gourlie was pleased and said "very good"..haha.. 

Sister Wairepo drove me to my new area - Tarneit and Werribee.  We covered Werribee Ward because we are short of sisters.  We dropped by our flat first to put my stuff in, then to our appointments.  Sisters assigned in Griffith (7 hours from Tarneit) were with us, both Samoan, Sister Faiga and Sister Falani and dropped them to some of our appointments. 

We visited Jean Croft, her same gender partner died.  She was willing and happy to have missionaries around but she didn't want any commitments.  She believed that the church is only there for power.  We also visited some less-actives in Werribee.  After dinner, we went back to the flat and planned.  My challenge in my new area would be to familiarize the area, investigators and members of Werribee and Tarneit.  Below is our area map.

June 1, Wednesday - We walked to the park at 6:30 am.  It was pretty cold. After the regular studies, we then visited Aniva but since she was going out, we rescheduled. We then visited Donna, a returned missionary having depression struggles. Her mom Rebecca was very faithful and loved family very much. We invited her mom to work on Christlike attribute with us for 6 weeks and taught her today while Donna left for some errands.  She also invited us to for Family Home Evening with her family.  Then after lunch in the flat, we brought the Griffith sisters to the Southern cross station where they would catch train, then bus, back to Griffith, travel time would be about 8 hours.

After dropping the Griffith sisters, we then drove to the Mission Office to pick up the Goldens (missionaries right from the Missionary Training Center). I felt like I was golden as well.  I met the new sisters and elders.  They all bore their testimonies at the end of the meeting.  They were given orientation same as me five months ago, just felt like a flashback.  One of the privileges of STL was to be able to eat the food the goldens ate as well.They had KFC so we were able to grab some KFC as well.  We had the Sunshine sisters in the car so we drove them to their flat, put their stuff in, then to their bishop's home.  The Golden sister looked tired but was excited to meet the bishop at 8pm.  She said she was awake in the MTC since 3 am.

June 2, Thursday - District Meeting today and I was welcomed to Wyndham Zone by Zone leaders, Elder Bennion and Elder Whiting. They said that I was in the best zone and I replied, "of course, it's the best zone because I am here now."  They laughed, haha..  We left the meeting 30 minutes early for my dental appointment.  Since the dentist was only a minute away from my previous flat, we had lunch with the Footscray sisters and happy to see my previous companion, Sister Santos.  After lunch, we went back for Sister Wairepo's dental appointment as well.  We then visited Zafrinia and her sister and role-played with them. We let them teach us which they did well.  What followed were visits to some referrals in the area and weekly planning in place of the meeting with the ward mission leader which was cancelled.  

June 3, Friday - At 10 am, we cleaned and vacuumed the chapel and that was our service for the week.  What followed next was the DLC (District Leadership Council) where we met with the district leader, Elder Liu, and the zone leaders.  We talked about how we can achieve mission goals and how to motivate missionaries in the zone.  Being STL, we looked after the sisters in the west side area.

We went to visit one investigator Debora but she said she wanted to coast along.  It was sad having investigators drop us but hoping that she would be ready to accept the gospel by the next set of missionaries.  The next visit was for the 3 children - Judy, Rachel and Llyod, whom we taught using Preach My Gospel.  Each one would teach us every week using the lessons we taught to investigators.  Judy was very shy, the only who wasn't baptized yet, and so we were working on a baptismal date for her.  Then we visited another family, the Wyse family, played the Plates magic trick with them and they loved it.

Sister Sao was on our meal roster and she gave us KFC for dinner.  In this area, we would be fed with KFC heaps. We also visited Kristy (14) who was recently baptized.  We invited her to do her family history as part of her preparation to go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead.

June 4, Saturday - It had been raining since the past 2 days but rain or shine, missionary work must go on.  We were visiting former investigators when we met Jazz.  His brother was taught by the missionaries but not anymore because of his internship which was not in Melbourne.  We also met Jenti and taught her about the foundations of the church.  She was great and wanted to be in church and be an example to her family.  Then there was the Moala family, Samoan.  They served us coco Samoa, which tasted like sikwati (Philippine cacao drink) and really good.  We also played the Plates magic trick, which taught a lesson about seer and prophets.  Then at dinner time, I did not feel well, had a really bad headache and stomach.  At first, I thought it was the weather.  We then visited Vini and played with her another magic trick called Spirit stick, which showed how the Spirit works. I had been learning different ways to share a lesson with Sister Wairepo.  We did language study at 8 pm where she had me read talks from the Ensign aloud and corrected my dictation.  I also tried to copy her accent which was pretty fun.

June 5, Sunday - Today, we attended Werribee ward at 8:30 am, then Tarneit ward at 12 noon, two meetings in a row.  In Tarneit ward, the bishopric invited me to introduce myself and bear my testimony, and so I did. I met a Filipino family with surname Salvo.  We also taught Young Women class about sustaining church leaders. 

After church, we invited Rey, a recent Filipino convert, to come with us to the missionary fireside.  Rey had been to a lot of things and said that he could not come, but later decided to get ready and put on his suit..a miracle!

                                                With Rey, a recent convert

Today was the last missionary fireside with President Maxwell as this would be his last month in the mission.  Finally, I met Elder Concardas (from Philippines) who was now assigned in the city branch.  I told him to meet Jake (of the Australian Ballet) when he would return after his tour.

                          L-R: Sister Santos, Me, Sister Wairepo, Elder Concardas