March 21: Having a good Sunday? Mine was great. Monday’s doing pretty well, I think you’ll like it.
Last night the Hampton Park (Samoan) Ward Relief Society put on a musical fireside. As ward missionaries, Elder Aisa and I were assigned a scripture to read and to select a song relating to it to perform. So the two of us sang Love One Another in relation to Corinthians 13 I think about charity. It was great! It felt great to perform again, even if it was a one-verse hymn. Elder Aisa had a good voice too, he takes the higher parts of his own harmonies. Good stuff.
I went on splits with one Elder Peteru, who works in the Tecoma ward and area. It actually covers more the area just North of where I am (Berwick) in places like Narre Warren. We were driving a ways to get to some referrals, which turned out really well. One woman had ordered a Lamb of God DVD searching for some way to help her wayward 17-year-old son. She invited us in and we talked with her for about an hour. She was struggling with a strong concern for her son that he will be safe and make good choices, but he’s just been so rebellious. It’s really difficult for her. We were able to comfort her just by explaining the Atonement and how it provides a way for all of us to return, but also how we can strengthen others by following his example and having faith. I wish I could help her more, but I know that the other Elders will do their best. I could tell that what we taught did bring her better comfort and hope than where she was before.
I also had the opportunity to sit in a Ward Council meeting. It felt like being at Glance again. It was interesting to see that side of management take place, and how everybody works together. During that meeting, Elder Aisa went on a member split to teach a family in which the father served a mission and had a strong testimony, but had gone inactive because his wife and kids were attending a different church. That’s an interesting situation, because he would attend and sit in classes, and a lot of the lessons they would teach he could tell were incomplete. People would ask questions that they couldn’t answer but he could, but he has to keep his mouth shut. But Elder Aisa went with Bishop Vaivai and they are doing really well. I’m excited to see how they turn out.
I’ve officially gained another 5 pounds (155lbs) since being out here. Most Elders gain a lot of weight on their missions just from eating so much junk food. I’m trying to be careful about my intake, but these Samoan fafagas (meals, except they kinda also mean feasts) just pile it on. I’m running and working out every day, so I’m hoping that the weight is just muscle. If you get pictures from me 3 months from now though and I look a bit less gaunt than usual, you’ll know why. I am getting well fed, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Here is how Samoan folks have meals. Basically, they cook enough food for 3 times the amount of people they have, and then just eat as much as possible. The food is absolutely delicious. They always have different kinds of meat, like fried chicken, steaks, fish, chicken in sauces, etc. and also make dishes of stir-fried veggies and meat or noodles with meat. They also always have taro and bananas saturated with coconut to make them stiff. Taro is kind of like potato, except it grows on trees, looks like rock, and is very dense. It’s also quite bland, and I have no idea how nutritious it is, but it adds variety. I remember the first time I had Samoan cooking a couple weeks ago. “What is that!?” “Taro,” answered Elder Aisa. “Which is…?” “It’s kinda like potato.” Also, I had forgotten that fish had bones and scales. You know those portions of salmon I would take when we had that? It took me about 20 minutes to eat that much to pick that stuff off. There’s probably a better system to get out the bones and scales, but hey, it was my first time, okay?
I also played my first game of touch rugby. Rugby is tough, it’s a lot of running. It’s also pretty basic. In football, you have have different plays, so it’s a bit more complex but slower. Rugby is constant action and getting past the wall of players. Also, folks here are also nuts for Footie, which is like soccer except you play with that egg-shaped football and you can also catch the ball and punt it. I haven’t played an actual game of it yet, but it looks fun.
So, generally, things are going well. I’m itching to start making progress with some people; we still haven’t been as productive as I would like. I’ve found that even though it’s difficult to walk on the street and knock on doors for hours, I at least feel like I’m using my time wisely and doing what I am supposed to be doing. I mean, if I just slack off all the time and don’t work, I might as well not even be out here, right? Same with obedience. I think it’s so stupid when Elders don’t stay on schedule and don’t follow the rules. They might as well just go home where they can do that stuff to its real extent. If you’re not going to work, don’t go to work. I know that my time here will be short (even though it doesn’t feel that way right now) so the more I do, the better it will pay off. I’ve taught lesons here and there (we’re actually hosting family home evening tonight with a less-active family), and I love how I’m starting to be able to pull scriptures out to relate to different questions or pionts. You just get different skill points for how you spend your time. So I’m striving to use my time effectively. And to be honest, that’s how we should always be thinking. That’s why we’re told to exercise, study scriptures, etc. all the time. So do it!
So, this week I have trade-offs with the Assistants to the President (aka the uber Elders) which I am really looking forward to. We have some return appointments lined up, as we should, and also some interviews with President Lindley. I really like President Lindley, I’m looking forward to talking to him.
Keep writing me letters here and there. I love all of you so much. Always remember the important things, and to enjoy life as it goes. It helps. 🙂
-Elder Scott Baker