Monday, November 14, 2011

Elder Henry gets to learn his 5th language!

Elder Chadwick washing our old 2008 Toyota Corolla (it's name is The Onion)

Elder Dahneke celebrating his birthday after a district meeting.  He just turned 21, and so we baked him a cake :)

Paul, one of the members we have been working with

Brother Heller, a member we have been working with.  I always loved visiting him, I could sit and talk about history with older people all day long ^^;

Left to Right, Elder Mathews, Myself, and Elder Chadwick right before I left.

Note from Mom--when Mike was turning in his papers, he had a few places he was really kind of hoping to serve.  One was Japan, since he'd taken Japanese at Clark, and another was Samoa/Pacific Islands.  A wonderful family in our ward, Eric and Mata Brown and their children, are newer converts and as Ward Mission Leader he had the chance to get to know, serve, love, and share meals with them (Mata is a fantastic cook!) which inspired his desire. (He's also studied Spanish and of course English). Amazing how Heavenly Father answers prayers!  He truly knows us, loves us, and wants to bless us!

Soooo.... Exciting news!  I got emergency transferred last week.  An Elder hurt his knee and has to go home for surgery, so last thursday president Buburt called me up and asked me to go to the Compton 1st and Long Beach 15th Samoan Wards.  Quite the change from the luxury life of Huntington Beach, I am now working in the streets of North Long Beach, Compton, and Paramount, speaking Samoan XD.
     Not much happened last week in Huntington Beach with any of my investigators before I left, so I won't be talking really at all about the last few days I had there, other than I was really sad to leave.  I know though that the area is in really good hands.
    All letters that went to my old Apt will be forwarded to me via the mission office, don't worry they won't get lost but it may take a week or two for them to get to me.
      I was really excited to hear that I was to go and work with the Samoans in Long Beach.  Ever since meeting with the Browns as the Ward Mission Leader, Samoans have had a special place in my heart and I am filled with excitement to be here.  Serving in this area is very different from my other area because our geographical area is the boundries of the stake, and we have to 'hunt' for Samoans, relying very heavily on the ward to let us know where they live.
      The Samoan people here have a huge respect for the missionaries and are very excited to help us in any way they can.  It's a completely different culture from the American family wards, where you have to beg and plead and twist arms for them to have them invite a friend to church.  Samoans have a natural desire to share the Gospel with friends, because all Samoans are related somehow, and they see each other as family.  They have such a pure love for the Gospel and the doctrine of Eternal Families that just amazes me.
      Of course there are challenges in every area, here its being able to not gain weight while eating every night with a Samoan family XP.  Fortunately I always have Brazil on the horizon for a magical weight loss program ;).  In all seriousness there are different challenges here.
     In Huntington Beach people were very hesitant to listen, or even open their doors to you.  It could be very hard to find new investigators because unless they had a friend who invited them, they would politely (or impolitely) tell us why they weren't interested.  On the other hand once you did find an investigator, people were much more likely to keep commitments.
     Here people will talk to you, and use up all your time while they won't keep commitments.  Also because we cover a specific group of people all over the stake, it's a lot harder to meet with people, or find people.  There are small pockets of Samoans in some places, but more often there are large distances between single houses.  Also there is no directory for where all the Samoans here live, so it can be hard to find new investigators in that regard.
     In all though I'm excited to be here and work here.  I didn't ever think that I would ever try and learn another language after 9 weeks of brutally learning Portuguese, but now I have to learn Samoan >.>.  Fortunately most people speak English, but the way to show the people here that you really care is by learning their language and helping them receive the Gospel in their native tongue.  Also our Meetings with the Ward, and Sacrament Meetings are all in Samoan, so its kind of necessary to pick up the language.  Not to mention both of our Ward Mission Leaders don't really speak English.  New Challenges but exciting Opportunities await me in this area.
      Also I have a new companion, Elder Galke.  He's from all over, but his parents live in Panama right now.  Apparently his Dad works for the United States Government and travels all over for his work.  He's been out for just over a year and has done rather well in learning Samoan.
Not much more to report this week.  Thank you all again for all your support.
~Elder Henry

Dear Dad,
I only hope that my companions will talk (admirably) about me one day.  It's really
tough though to help a companion to be better because I'm sometimes scared
of giving them constructive criticism and I'm a little bit unsure of how to
go about it.  Hopefully I'll figure it out soon, because I know that the
companionship will benefit from a heart to heart talk about how we can
improve.  I was really sad to leave Elder Chadwick after just 9 days, but I
definitely learned a lot about how to be an effective missionary, and I'll
have to pass that on to my companions down the line.
The work here has a lot of potential, but we aren't working it very
effectively at the moment, and as soon as that changes we will see a huge
boom in success.  I know they had 8 baptisms here last transfer and we
definitely have the potential for more this transfer.
I'm happy that Granny is with you guys for the hollidays.
I got really excited about the Ducks doing so well.  It's good to hear good
news on that field, especially being in the middle of UCLA and USC
I have to get going, but I love to read your letters every week :)
Elder Henry

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