Thursday, March 13, 2014

February 11, 2014 - March 2, 2014


Today is the day – the day I fly to Hawaii! We woke up pretty early to get our final packing done.  Afterwards we made our way to the main building where we made our way to the main building where we got our travel instructions and boarded a bus to the Provo station of the FrontRunner, which is the train that runs the length of Utah Valley.  We took the FrontRunner up to Salt Lake where we boarded a smaller train to take us out to the airport.  Once at the airport, we made our way to our gate.  At this point, we had the opportunity to call home and fortunately we had enough time.  I was able to call Mom and Micah and Grandma Shoaf.  I was able to change my seat and get an exit row!  Our flight was delayed due to hydraulic issues but we had great entertainment.  On our flight was a blind man who could play the ukulele like no one else, and a high school cheer team returning home from a competition.  This man played while the cheer team sang, and we had a great time singing and dancing.  After awhile, they were able to fix the problem with the plane and we were on our way – Hawaii bound!

On our flight, I sat next to a woman in her mid 30s.  We talked some, but for the most part, she slept and I slept/read/and thought about the sheer amount of knowledge and doctrine and teaching skills that had been thrown at me in the past twelve days.  It was insane!  Just twelve days after I had entered the MTC, I was being thrown out into the world, expected to teach the people!  Six hours and seventeen minutes after taking off from Salt Lake, we landed in Honolulu.

Our view coming in was incredible!  We circled around Maui before coming in over Pearl Harbor and the Air Base – it was so cool!  We saw the Navy fleet jets on the runway.  When we arrived at Baggage Claim, President and Sister Warner were there to meet us along with three missionaries who are the current Assistants to the President.  They had leis for all of us.  We then loaded the U-Haul trailer with our stuff and luggage and piled in the van.

We had the opportunity to go see a baptism that night on the west side of the island.  After that, we ate dinner, cooked by some of the local members, after which we piled into the van and traveled back to the east side of Honolulu where the mission home is (where Pres and Sister Warner live.) 

When we arrived, we all cashed out.  We were exhausted after our 20-hour day, halfway around the world.


This morning I woke up early (6:00) before everyone else so I could shower before twelve other people tried to shower in three showers – haha.  I then started the Book of Mormon from the beginning.  My goal is to finish it before I’m transferred (six weeks).  I read about three chapters before 6:30 and then made my way around to wake everyone up.  While the others showered, I helped Sister Warner make breakfast for everyone as well as lunch for the ones who are being assigned to other islands.  I was assigned to the Kaihuki ward in the Honolulu Zone, which is actually the closest zone to the mission home.  I spent most of the time cutting pineapple and strawberries for our breakfast smoothies.  

After breakfast we all sat down with the President and he gave us the overall schedule for the day and the main rules to live by as well as guidelines and where we can go for help.  He also explained his three rules – 1.  Never leave your companion.  2.  Don’t lie to President.  3.  Don’t do anything stupid.  I really like President Warner.  He’s very loving and caring for all of us. 

After our meeting with President we piled back into the vans and made ouir way over to the mission office where we met the rest of the staff and got a rundown of the dos and don’ts, how much money we’d get, how to take care of the cars, etc.  After that those that were staying on O’ahu, including myself and my companion…  Those who weren’t left for the airport.

My companion is Elder Miller.  He’s my age and he’s from Kaysville, Utah.  He’s been out six months and he’s served all that time in Maui.  We’ve connected pretty well.  He loves BYU Football, so that made it easy.  Haha.  After getting acquainted, we got a ride to our pad (apartment) from Elder Sonders and Elder Boudonsquie who will also serve in our area but since there is only one car per area, and they live farther away, they get the car and we are on bike.  L

After they dropped us off, we got settled in, then they picked us up and gave us a tour of the area because they have already been here for the past three months!  They introduced us to Tony Snafon who is our ward  Elders Quorum President.  Tony is awesome!  I love that guy!  He is a convert to the church of about six years and loves the missionaries.  He is married and has two little kids, a 2-year-old boy named Malachi and a newborn.  They are a great family!  After that we had dinner at a member’s home and taught a lesson to a recent convert from Korea and his non-member friend.  Then we met our bishop and headed home and to bed!


Today I woke up extremely homesick.  I sat on the couch for about an hour and a half thinking about how I didn’t want to be here and that I wasn’t good enough to be there.  I was at the point that I was going to call president and have me sent home and that I was done.  Then Elder Miller and I talked for about two hours about how everyone has those thoughts the first few days and I needed to stick it out.  Since we had been “whitewashed” which means both of us are new to the area, we don’t have any contacts or investigators and we also didn’t have an area book which contains everything we need to know – like a ward directory, a map, the progress of investigators, potential investigators, etc.  We took Elder Sanders and Elder Boudonsquie’s book and copied most of it since we serve in the same area.  Then we started to figure out the area for most of the day.  We didn’t have a dinner appointment so we just ate at a local restaurant.


Today after our daily personal and companionship studies, we began the 12 week program which is an extra hour of study to continue my MTC training.  Elder Miller is my trainer.  Following that, we met our zone leaders for lunch at Costco and also did a little shopping.  The prices are a little higher here but some stuff is ridiculous.  $4.58 for a half gallon of milk!  After lunch we looked through our former investigators and picked out about a dozen who might be interested in listening again.  We spent most of the afternoon biking around the island doing this.  We found six houses and two that would talk to us for a second, but only one who seemed interested.  We left her our phone number and she’s supposed to call us back next week. 

For dinner we were supposed to go to the Kara family, but they had unexpected plans so they dropped dinner off instead.  A gallon of fried chicken and a gallon of rice!  For four people!  That evening we played basketball at the church with some other missionaries from the area as well as some of Bondonsquie’s and Sonders’ investigators.  Oh btw, Elder Bondonsquie has been out for 15 months and he’s from Boise, Idaho.  Sonders is from Oregon and out for three months.  We had a great couple games then headed back to the pad and to bed.


This morning we were asked to help set up for the ward ball that night.  (It was at this point that I realized the day before had been Valentine’s Day.  Haha)  So we headed over to the church and helped set stuff up.  After that B&S gave us a tour of more of our area.  We returned to the pad for our personal studies, companionship studies, and 12 weeks training.  After lunch we had a visit from President Warner.  He was making his way around interviewing each of the new missionaries.  Later Elder Miller and I biked around the area hoping introduce ourselves to the rest of the ward leadership but it began to rain so re went back to the pad and worked on organizing it. 

That night we went to the ward ball where we ate and introduced ourselves and sat back and watched the festivities, but, due to mission rules, we’re not allowed to participate.  Elder Kim who is from Korea did set up and dance to Gangham Style.  It was priceless!  I met him and his companion Elder Schavis at basketball the night before.  They serve in the Tongan Ward.  We helped clean up then headed back and to bed.


Today is Sunday.  We woke up and went to church.  We have church from 8-11 in the Kaimuki Ward.  At church, Elder Miller and I were asked to get up and introduce ourselves.  It went well.  We also got to meet most of the ward.  After church, we talked to a guy named Todd a little bit.  He is a member of the church but hasn’t been active for years but decided to come back so we talked to him and we’re planning on meeting with him this week to help him any way we can.  After church we returned to the pad and ate lunch and had our studies after which I took a short nap before dinner. 

I made some cookies out of a mix I found in the cabinet.  The only problem was we didn’t have butter so I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and it worked pretty well.  We had dinner at the Snafons’ house – it was great!  I really enjoy their family.  Tony’s family-in-law was there also.  We had a great time.  The food was amazing.  I played trains with Malachi.  It was pretty entertaining.  After dinner we just had personal time and went to bed early.


Today is P-day!  My first one here in the islands.  It went fast but it was a great day!  We started out with breakfast with the Lungs.  We had a fantastic meal – eggs, bacon, toast, fresh pineapple, sausage, pancakes, and of course Spam.  Today was the first time I’ve had Spam.  And I loved it!  It was good!  Broth Lung then told us about the history of the Kaimuki Ward and how he had been there since the beginning and had served as its first bishop and all his sons have served as bishops.  He also told us about how he was the temple president at the Laie Temple and showed us pictures of him with President Hinckley and also one with President Monson!  After breakfast we went to email.  Since it’s Presidents Day, the library was closed so we had to go to the Apple store in the mall.  I had a real time messaging with Grace Fischvogt as well as Mom and also Sister Harris who is serving on the Big Island.  I was also able to get Mom the list of things I need.  After emailing, we changed into P-day clothes and went to Sports Authority so I could buy a basketball and then we headed over to the Tab to play basketball with the rest of our zone.  The Tab is our nickname for the Honolulu Tabernacle which was built in the early 1940s and survived WWII unharmed.  Basketball was great.  Then we went to Wal-Mart and bought our groceries for the week.  Right now I’m doing laundry and cleaning our pad.  Then off to bed.


Today was a quick day!  I woke up this morning and ran the hill right outside our pad and also did TRX.  My goal is to hit 300 lbs but do it most all in muscle mass.  Then after personal and companion study, Elders Bondousquie and Saunders picked us up for our monthly zone meeting and as we were leaving our pad, we saw the Hawaii 5-0 crew filming at the park right next to our pad!  I was so excited!  I love that show.  The whole cast was there too!  But I didn’t have my cameral.  It was so cool!  Their studio is actually just down the street from us. 

We had a great zone meeting about the importance of prep and planning.  After that we went to the library to work on our weekly progress reports on the computer.  The rest of the evening was pretty chill.  We set up appointments with former investigators for later this week and walked around talking to anyone who was out.  It was a beautiful evening!  Later we had our weekly coordination meeting with the leadership of the ward to see where everyone is at and what needs to be done and who needs help.  Looking forward to tomorrow!


Today started out as a bit of a struggle.  I really struggled with homesickness this morning but I started to read through past letters that I have received and felt a lot better.  After lunch we had to do exchanges so that Elder Boudousquie could take Elder Miller to the doctor.  So Elder Saunders and I biked over to the Palolo Valley where we did some door-knocking and followed up with some investigators after which we had an appointment scheduled with a less-active family.  The lesson went great.  We taught the Plan of Salvation.  That lesson really made me grateful for what I have been blessed with.  Palolo Valley, while extremely beautiful, has a lot of low income housing and the family that’s living there is in not much more than a shack.  I love meeting with people who have basically nothing and are still so happy.  It really makes you want to find joy in life and in the more important things, mainly family and Christ.  The Lord really answered my prayers today.  Whenever I am down or discouraged, He always opens my eyes to the good around me.  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13


Today was a great day!  We spend most of our day riding our bikes around the area and up the valleys, following up with former investigators and also introducing ourselves to members in the area.  But the best part of today was we had an appointment with a Brazilian woman and her family.  She had investigated the church before and she stopped for who knows why but we gave her a call and she was excited to meet with us.  When we arrived, we met Lucy.  She’s mid 50s and lives with her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter.  The granddaughter is awesome!  She’s so smart.  She’s probably around 12 and had to translate a little bit.  Lucy’s English is pretty good but she doesn’t know some of the words she knows in Portugese.  We taught Lucy, her son-in-law Leonardo, and Savannah, the granddaughter.  Lucy’s daughter, Luciann, wasn’t feeling well.  She’s pregnant.  But we had a great lesson!  Lucy knows a lot about Christ and so does Savannah.  Leonardo is from Argentina and didn’t talk much, but he was very interested.  We are planning on meeting with them again next week and we are taking Ben, who is a returned missionary in the ward who served in Portugal!  So he can help translate.  I’m so excited and can’t wait!  It was really cool too that Lucy had had a blessing awhile back and had a great experience and Leonardo’s hand (?) is kinda beat up so Lucy was praying to Heavenly Father to send the missionaries back.  And later that day is when we called to see if she was interested in meeting with the missionaries again.  The Lord finds a way and is always listening.  We were able to give Leonardo a blessing tonight.  The Lord is looking out for us all.


Today was a slow but semi-productive day.  We started out with the usual studies and then we made a game plan and head decided to bike across our area to see some former investigators as well as introduce ourselves to some of the members in the area.  We were unable to catch any of the home but passed a young couple in our ward out mowing their grass and playing with their kids. So we stopped to say hello and they ended p taking us to lunch!  We had a great time and we were able to help them out a little bit.  Afterwards we biked home and I wasn’t feeling too well.  Probably heat exhaustion.  These bikes weren’t meant to hold a 270 pound, 6’6” guy and ride up hills!  Much less in 85 degree weather in February.  So I laid down for a bit.  After that we went out and tracted for a bit before dinner. Then we had our weekly basketball night where all  the missionaries in the area invite their investigators and we all play basketball for a few hours at the church.  It was great!  Also my basketball shoes arrived today from home.  What a difference they make!  Also Dad sent me a copy of a talk by David A. Bednar titled “The Character of Christ.”  It was a very powerful talk and when I was in the MTC, I had the opportunity to watch a video of it when Elder Bednar gave it originally.  I would challenge you all to read it.  It’s one of my favorites.  Off to bed!  God bless!


Today was another low production day.  Not really  much to talk about.  We had a lot of personal time today to study.  We did go see some members.  We saw the Gullage family and talked story for awhile.  He is retired Navy and worled on the nuclear submarines!  We talked about that for awhile and also about building their house.  It’s a beautiful two-story and I have the layout.  We were talking about the horror story it was to build.  It made me think a lot about home and how much I miss working.  I also added more to my dream house today.  It is getting closer and closer to being designed every inch from paint color to door knobs.  Haha.  Now I just have to put it on paper. 

I got a letter from Dominika today.  It made my day!  It’s actually my first letter here in Hawaii.  I love getting mail and hearing about everyone’s day and how they are doing.  The humidity is starting to get to me.  Our pad has only a small window AC unit that hardly works.  It’s rough but I’m starting to adapt.  “But if they reject not my words which shall be established by the testimony which shall be given, blessed are they, and then shall ye have joy in the fruit of your labors.”  D&C 6:31


Today was Sunday.  A great one at that!  We have church at 8am so we get up and get ready and don’t have time to study before.  Sacrament Meeting was great.  The overall theme was family.  The talks were great.  Sunday School and Priesthood meeting were great too.  After church we had a baptism.  It was the 1st counselor in the bishopric’s second oldest son.  He turned 8 on Wednesday.  They are the Kuriharas.  Such a great younger family!  Then they invited us over to their house for a luncheon with their family.  It was the first time I have been to their home.  WHAT A HOUSE!!!!  They live in a beautiful open air house on the south side of Diamond Head crater, about ¼ mile from the coast.  It’s a multi-million dollar house with a priceless view out over the ocean!  We had a great time visiting, introducing , and fellowshipping with the family and extended family.  All the kids made us really cool rubber band bracelets.  Mine is Bulldog/Cougar blue and black!

After we left there, we went and visited a couple of our investigators as well as a couple of less-active families.  Afterwards, we had dinner with the Memea family.  They took us to Zippy’s for dinner which was slightly awkward.  Haha  Not too often do you see LDS missionaries eating at a restaurant on a Sunday evening…  But you can’t say no, especially to a Tongan family!  What a dinner!  I have started to embrace the Hawaiian/Tongan way of life.  We ate so much at the luncheon that none of us were hungry at dinner, but it is disrespectful to say that at a meal in Hawaii.  So of course we don’t say anything and we arrive and they have already ordered six appetizers.  May I remind you that there are four of us elders and four of them.  Then of course we can’t just have water to drink – we have to order an actual drink.  Also, whatever we ordered he doubled.  And dessert was required.  We forced down as much as we could so as not to offend them.  Then he boxed up the rest to take with us.  All in all, I figured it up around a $200 meal for eight people.  Then on top of that, on the way out the door he gives me $50 cash for groceries/drinks.  Between all of these leftovers, plus the leftovers send home with us from lunch, and the leftovers from dinner the night before, we have enough food to feed us for lunch for at least the next two weeks!  We also get stopped regularly by members while we are biking down the street and handed money.  Yesterday, a Polynesian family from the North Shore drove by, flagged us down, and handed us $20 – members who don’t have any idea who we are just see our white shirts and name tags.  They aren’t even from our area.  They are so giving and loving.  Every week whatever money we have received that week that we don’t use for groceries or lunch, we send to the mission office which then is collected from all the missionaries and is put into an emergency fund for such things as missionaries who need new clothes, shoes, etc but can’t afford them.  Then whatever is left at the end of the year is used to buy Christmas presents for poorer families all over the islands.  Everything here in the islands is so loving and giving, even driving.  I’ve never seen such courteous drivers.  I love it here!  Well, off to bed.  I’m so full I could sleep for a week!


P-day!  Today was p-day.  And it went so quick!  I woke up early and started my laundry then did my personal study.  I will finish 2 Nephi tomorrow.  I started the BoM over when I arrived in Honolulu.  My goal is to finish it in 60 days.  For companion study, we started watching Praise to the Man, the movie about Joseph Smith’s life.  It has such a powerful message; we’re going to finish it tomorrow.  After my laundry we rode our bikes to the library to email.  We were there about 1.5 hours then the network crashed and I hadn’t finished my weekly update so we rode down to the Apple store to finish.  We were there about an hour and I got to finish the update and was able to respond to a few people!  It was so goot to email home again!  I had a kinda rough night.  Last night I laid in bed for about three hours not able to sleep.  I thought a lot about home and how much I miss it and everyone.  I also added a lot to my dream house.  Slowly but surely I am getting it more detailed in my head.  Last night I designed the backyard and master bedroom.  One of these days I need to actually put it on paper. 

For p-day today we just played basketball again and had a great couple games.  I also worked on my 15’ shot a lot.  We ate dinner with the Akau family.  Nothing really super interesting.  Off to bed.  Good night.


Where did the day go?!  Holy cow!  Today went super fast.  This morning during personal study, I read the end of 2 Nephi.  Wow – the power it punches!  Chapters 31, 32, 33 pack a wollop!  I encourage all to read them!  It talks about Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.  Then we finished Praise to the Man – so inspiring and motivating! 

After studies, Saunders and B____ picked us up for District Training.  Our theme was effective planning. So there are four elders and four sisters in our district.  We split and paired one sister and one elder and studied and through through the rest of our section.  I was paired with Sister Robertson.  She’s straight out of LA - ___ Chrompton!  She’s Samoan and straight gangster!  I love her!  She’s a baller too!  She played bball with us and will break anyone’s ankles.  She’s tough too.  Plays ______ with us!  After district meeting, we took care of some stuff in the mission office then headed to lunch.  After that we went up to Palolo Valley and taught some less-actives and investigators.  We had dinner then went to Ward Council.  It’s so nice to be in a ward that is centered in missionary work and helping us. 

Quick but productive day.  Off to bed.


Today was another fast day!  It’s already Thursday!  Today wasn’t a normal day.  We woke up, exercised and left at 8.  We had to help Terri who is a recent convert move.  So we didn’t get in any studies today and I noticed it.  I was in not a very good mood today.  Anyway we spent all morning and afternoon helping Terri move.  Meanwhile we had to run downtown Honolulu and ran into the Hawaii 5-0 crew… well _____.  There were trucks after trucks lining both sides of the road for blocks and probably twenty people working to set up for a film shoot this evening!  It was so cool!  I also saw some of the cast as well as their stunt vehicles! 

Later that afternoon we taught a less-active family by the name of the Sanfords.  We had a great lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We then had a dinner appointment with the Kong family after which we went to Ross then Wal-Mart to cross off our shopping lists.  Nothing too spiritual or impacting today.  Just a lot of quality service.  Probably due to my poor mood.  Off to bed.


Aloha!  Today was another fast day.  The week had come and gone so fast!  Today we had a pretty good day.  I am still studying the Book of Mormon for personal study.  Afterwards, Elder Miller and I read the end of a super good talk by a former mission president.  Following, during 12 weeks study, we did our weekly planning.  After that we went to lunch with the zone leaders and Elder Boudousquie and Saunders.  It was Saunders’ 19th birthday!  He’s the baby of the group.  After lunch, Kaimuki 1, aka Elders Boudousquie and Saunders, and us went to the library to work on the ward list for our area.  We have to plug all the names and info of the members in our area into Excel so that we can create a list by street.  This takes time but will help a ton in the future. 

Afterwards, we had an appointment with Lucy’s family.  We took Ben with us this time.  He’s in our ward and served in Portugal on his mission, so he could help explain in Portugese!  It was a super solid lesson about the Plan of Salvation.  Lucy and Savannah were the only ones there this time.  Savannah draws really well so we had her draw the Plan of Salvation for us.  It went really well.  Ben talked a lot with Lucy in Portugese and we just sat thee and acted like we knew what he was saying while he taught!  Haha.  We then invited them to come to church on Sunday and Savannah was really excited about Young Womens!  Hopefully they will come!  I really think that they are interested and I can’t wait to see what will happen!


Today was a pretty good day overall.  We started out as usual with study – I started the Book of Jacob, which is the Parable of the Olive Tree.  It was super good.  After studies, the other elders came over and we read through a couple talks.  We then had “power hour” which is where a member of the ward signs up to go out and teach with us – either someone they know or some less actives.  Brother Kurihara picked us up and we went and visited some less actives.  Then we met Victor.  Victor is a less-active member who hasn’t been to church in ten years.  At the time he was Executive Secretary to the stake president and something happened and he left the church!  We talked for a bit with him then asked if we could share a scripture before we left.  I shared Helaman 5:12 which is my mission scripture and talks about having a foundation in Christ.  It was super powerful, then he shared some stuff about his mission.  Then we asked if we could have a prayer before we left and he said sure and offered to say it.  He prayed about how grateful he was that the Lord sent us to him.  He then broke down and began to cry.  After the prayer he said that when he left the church, no one had come looking for him and he felt so alone.  We were so taken aback by this and the spirit was so strong and overwhelming.  Brother Kurihara embraced him and told him we were here for him now.  We are planning on visiting him weekly and getting the ward involved with him.  He said he was ready to come back to church.  And to think we hadn’t even been planning on visiting him!  We had 15 minutes to kill before our scheduled lesson and Elder Miller was just looking through the ward list and we stumbled upon his name and the address was pretty close.  The Lord finds a way even when we don’t understand.  He also knows what each of us need and Victor needed us and Brother Kuriham to stop my and share Helaman 5:12 and ask him to come back to church and ask to have a prayer.  That’s all it took to help Victor know that he wasn’t forgotten and that he is loved by not only us but his Heavenly Father.


March!  Holy cow I would be so excited back in Indiana to see spring come!  But here we are in June/July year round!  I miss the seasons!  Today was another day of service.  We began by helping our recent convert finish cleaning/moving then we had a zone service project for a local doctor.  They recently remodeled and the builders just left their files around.   We had to move out/clean and organize then put back over 15 years of patient files and documents!  It was a huge task but with twenty of us, and the sisters organizing, we did it in just under three hours. 

Then we returned to our pad to shower and get presentable for dinner with the Lung family.  There are five Lung families in the ward – that’s why they pop up so often.  After dinner we had just been organizing and prepping for the coming week.  We didn’t have an gospel experiences today but that’s not our only purpose here.  We are also here to help/better the community and its people as much as we can.  “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17)


Today was Sunday.  We had a great Sacrament Meeting.  It was Fast Sunday so many bore amazing testimonies.  After church we did our studies.  I read Mosiah 1-3 and chapter 2 begins King Benjamin’s address to his people.  It was super powerful and talked a lot about service and God’s commitment to us if we obey His commandments.  After studies, we took a nap til dinner.  It was glorious!!!

We had dinner with the Snafons and it was awesome as usual.  Tony and I talked a lot about construction and traded stories and shop talk.  I really look up to him.  After dinner, we attempted to contact some investigators but to no avail.  We then played handball with the other elders in our living room.  It’s amazing how easy it is to amuse elders.  Haha.  Off to bed.


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