July 18, 2010
I have made it halfway through my most difficult transfer so far. Elder Faumui and I are pretty invested into our native cultures, and we don’t always mix too well. But we’re doing our best to stay unified and on track. We had some interesting findings and I got to meet a great family in Echuca, a neighboring area on an exchange.
One of the difficulties in this branch is that the memberships divides at half-Australian half-Samoan, although the Samoan population is growing. As a result, the meetings often jump between speaking Samoan and English, as some of the members don’t understand English. Unfortunately, this is an excuse that many less-active members use to not come to church. I can understand the feelings, because it is somewhat uncomfortable to come to church and not be able to participate in the shared thoughts because they can’t be understood. It feels like missing out on church. However, this should not be strong enough reason to not see the members and honor the covenants made as a disciple of Christ, so we think the reasons for the less actives go deeper. But this is a concern that is very difficult to address, as the only way to unify the language is to conform to one or divide the branch again.
We got to do a little finding, and found a few good people who were willing to have us come by again. One was a young adult who was currently swaying Buddhist, because it makes more sense to her. She had some questions as to how the Bible stories line up with today, like the creation. We answered some of her questions, and it made more sense to her. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and we’ll try to catch her at some point later to see what she thinks of it. Another woman was spiritualist, and has almost finished building a labyrinth in her home for meditation and such. She was quite determined that she’s read all the books, but we asked her just to read one more, even just a chapter. Eventually we convinced her. “10 minutes! The chapter will only take you 10 minutes to read! Surely you have enough time for that.”
On Wednesday, I got to go on and exchange with Elder Ghergori to Echuca, which is perhaps the smallest branch in the Melbourne area. It has only 2 families and a few single members. Missionaries have to be more creative in areas like that. I helped Elder Ghergori to plan an upcoming activity for Pioneer Day, thinking of games to play and food to make. We also visited the Ludbys, one of the families there. Brother Ludby is a chef, and so he gets the missionaries free pizza all the time. When he first shook my hand, he said, “Never in all my years have I met an Elder who was a redhead. How are you?” The family is really great, and Brother Ludby takes particular time to teach his kids. We also played a game that was basically Pit, except once you get out 3 times, the rules change. When you’re out, nobody can acknowledge your presence as the game continues. So if I were out and said, “What time is it?” and someone responded, “Half past eight,” they would get out. But you have to be creative to get people out with that.
The branch has a musical fireside this week, for which I’ll be doing a solo. Last night at practice, my voice wasn’t in the best condition, probably just because I hadn’t been drinking enough water during the day. The Solomons were somewhat freaked out about my health, and gave me a bag of grapefruits and started giving me all these tips for staying healthy. It’s a week out! I’ll be fine! The branch choir is really great, though, especially for being just a branch. A lot of the members come back to the chapel for the rehearsal. It’s almost like a fourth meeting. The Solomons also hold a conducting class. They do a lot to help the branch. It’s great to see senior missionary couples that get to help branches keep on track despite the small population. They even teach seminary, English classes, and piano.
So that’s what’s been going on. It’s a very different newscast than the past, but that’s the way it goes out here. Thanks for your continued support. I miss all of you heaps.