July 4, 2010
The rules have changed.
No, I’m not refferring to the new mission president (who I have not met yet, that will be on Thursday), that’s later. But I have been, as Elder Peek would describe, Banished to Outer Bushness!
My new area is Shepparton, which is in the country outskirts of the mission. Here in Australia, they call it “out bush.” So I am now in the bush. Having come from Springvale, which is busy, thick, and full of commotion, it is a very different feel to have a small town with stop signs, fields, farms, cows, etc., I can feel that country calm myself rather than have the busy get-everywhere-do-everything as before. It’s quite nice, actually.
So, in addition to being a new area, the work out bush is also very different. In the city, the most effective manner of working is to speak to every person possible to arrange to teach and assist. Since the city is dense, you’re seeing different people all the time, and that is how you find. Here out bush, there aren’t as many people. You can go door knocking and street contacting, but many folks have seen missionaries before and will dismiss you. Besides, we actually do have a lot of members here, but the branch is not strong enough to retain them and many go inactive soon later. Officially, there are 200 members here, but at church there were less than 50 people. So, our main focus is reactivation. We do this in many ways, primarily in service. We’ve visited lots of members and we just come to strengthen them. Lots of members are Samoan, which is why Elder Faumui is here. His goal is to just get these people at church, to the temple, and ready to help the church. Until then, there’s no point in bringing in more members because they’re too shy to fellowship them.
Assisting us is the senior missionary couple, the Solomons. They’re from Las Vegas. While we work with the members, they are helping the Branch to create activities and teach classes to increase activity. They’re teaching English, directing a branch choir, and planning with the Relief Society. Elder Solomon is so happy to have us here, because he knows that Elder Faumui can talk to the Samoan members and I can talk to the palagis (white people). Also, they have a musical fireside coming up, and so when they heard me sing at transfer meetings, they were so excited. I’ll be doing some solo pieces with them. Last night we worked with “Where Jesus Walked,” and it was so much fun to finally be singing again. I’m so glad I get to help this area with my voice.
So yes, I also sang at transfer meeting. It was huge, all the Elders came to see President off. He actually cried, which was very strange to see. This normally loud-voiced bold guy was brought to tears seeing the work we’ve done and wishing us the best. During lunch, I was talking to Sister Lindley, and somehow we got on the topic of the musical numbers. I offered to sing something without any preparation. I chose to sing Wondrous Love from Revels. It was really great to sing again. It’s funny how when I perform, before I get up I’m nervous and my heart beats like crazy, but then I get up there and let fly the sound and it just soothes me back to performing condition.
I actually have to go now, my time is up. But I love all of you, and I’ll send you some more pictures and details soon! B’bye!
-Elder Scott Baker