Halloween – it’s an American holiday!

October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween everybody!

Shepparton District October 2010

I have officially spent half my mission in Shepparton, and that streak continues, because Elder Bartle and I are staying for our third transfer together. I’m not sure how often that happens, but here we are. We saw it coming, because a) our work is going well, b) we’re not about to kill each other anytime soon, c) we have a Christmas Pageant coming up that Elder Solomon needs us for, so that’s that.

It’s also November here.  That is surprising.  I am almost 9 months out!  For us, this transfer seemed gone in an instant.  I thought we were here just a couple days ago, together for another transfer.  Our days feel like they do themselves, and we’re just along for the ride.  People to teach have been popping up, as have service opportunities and favors for various members and friends.  A lot of things will happen this transfer.  Our goal is 2 baptisms, so that is what we’re shooting for.

Shepparton Ward Members

The sun is starting to come out, so I’ve finally pulled out that Banana Boat 50 SPF sunblock mom got for me, and the smell of it reminds me of all those times at the pool, the beach, or the trails in Yosemite that I normally would get during the summer.  So it’s quite disorienting.  The Australian sun blazes like nothing else, so I’ve always got my aviators and I need to get a hat.  And all you up there are putting on your jumpers and thick socks warming up by the fire.  If I could give you the heat, I wouldn’t hesitate.

On Monday last week while you were all sleeping, we were having fun with Ugurcan

Ugurcan with Footy Buddies

again at a sports field when a crowd of blokes shouted an invitation to play footy.  By footy, they mean Australian Rules Football, which is probably the best thing about Australia.  I’ve never played it before, and I’d only seen a little bit of it on TV that a member insisted I view for culture purposes.  I didn’t have a clue what was going on for the first 15 minutes, but eventually it made sense and I was kicking and bumping the ball like the rest of them.  It might become a weekly thing for us to do.  What was funny was when I explained we were missionaries, Joseph, the organizing leader, started commanding the rest of the boys to stop cussing.  Hahaha!

A major classic but rare missionary experience happened on Wednesday.  In our District, we have Elder Mitsvotai in Finley who had a convert when he was in Bendigo, named Sarah.  Sarah’s family lives in Shepparton, so, by pulling strings and making arrangements, Elder Bartle and I were able to visit this family with the fellowshipping help of Elder Mitsvotai and Sarah.  Their name is the Dysons.  On Wednesday was our second time meeting them, which was essentially just time to eat together and enjoy each others’ company– talking, playing board games, card games, etc.  Later in the evening as we were closing in the mystery of Cluedo, Mandy, the mum, started asking questions out of curiosity, mainly surrounding our rules.  That led us to the purpose of the rules, being our religion and the happiness from it, which led to more questions about the religion.  Questions ranged from, “So how are you different?” to “What about evolution?”  As she got deeper, other family members and their friends got involved as well.  The game was quickly forgotten as all four of us took turns explaining different things and teach bits of doctrine in response to their questions.  By the end of the night, we learned a lot about each family members’ deepest concerns regarding their questions to God and what comfort they need from Him.  The great thing was, every question they had, we could answer in a clear, simple, and true manner.  We promised that the lessons we teach can put everything into a clear perspective, if they would just give us the time to go through them.  For the most part, everybody was willing to listen.  We left the house tired but ecstatic at such a powerful conversation that has lead to promising investigators.  This week, we will be trying to catch them all together again to schedule our lessons.  This could be big.  I’m excited to see where it goes.

Let me explain Australia’s relationship with Halloween.  At the moment, a large proportion of Australians say things like, “It’s an American Holiday!  It doesn’t mean anything!  It’s pointless!  It’s dangerous!  We don’t need it!”  Which is a load of rubbish, but luckily, the young generations are ignoring that and dressing up to trick-or-treat anyway.  It’s on the rise, but it is not yet a national holiday, and there are still a lot of families that don’t participate.  But every time I saw kids in costumes, I made sure to do my duty and wish them a loud HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Seriously, who can argue against funny costumes and free lollies?

I have another funny story… When you spend every day communicating with people, you develop a high intelligence/ability to do so.  You can recognize body language.  You can see how they feel.  I’m at the point where I can pretty much talk and think about something unrelated at the same time.  So, while we were doing service for a member at her hair salon, I was surprised to notice an employee communicating with me in a manner inconsistent with nearly every other conversation I have had since February 2010, that I realized can fall into only one category: flirting! I can’t even remember the last time somebody flirted with me.  Is that sad or what?  We were arranging with this member to “catch up with them,” i.e. meal and a lesson and see how they’re doing, when this employee said, “Would you like to catch up with me?”  I methodically responded, “Sure, as long as we can teach you a lesson.”  Elder Bartle was trying really hard not to laugh his head off.  We’ll have to be careful around there from now on.

I do have one piece of bad news… we have a couple who recently lost their second child who was barely a year old, cause of death unknown.  It was a Samoan couple, so their family is here for all of the traditional funeral services.  It’s been really devastating to the family.  That said, we are blessed to have the message of the Gospel that reassures the baby is okay in the eternal perspective.

Okay friends, I hope you all enjoyed Halloween, saw some staggering costumes, and have enough lollies to last until Christmas.  It’s coming up fast!  I love all of you.  I really do.  I miss you.

-Elder Scott Baker

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