Wow, another crazy week, but better than the last one, in case you were worried. A lot of interesting things happened. For one thing, this is the last week of the transfer! I can hardly believe it. It was like I got here, then it was Christmas, then it was the New Year, and now it’s almost finished. 1,2,3.
One fun thing I got to do was learn how to make a Samoan umu. I took pictures of all the steps. Basically, it’s a makeshift oven outdoors. The hard part is getting the right rocks. You make a fire with fist-sized rocks at the base, and then cover the fire with more rocks. As the wood burns down, you remove as much charcoal as you can, and insert the food in the fire
put more heated rocks on top of the food. Then you get some wet paper and just cover it for about a half hour. The heated rocks just cook everything straight through. You put in taro, meat, and also this really cool thing that I’m not sure what it’s called, but you take taro leaves (they look kind of like lilies but shaped like a rocket rather than a circle), layer them together, pour coconut cream with onions inside, close the leaves, and wrap it in aluminum foil. The result is this spinach-like dish with coconut cream turned into something like cheese. It’s delicious. I really want to see if I can replicate it at home sometime, but it would be tricky.
We also had a zone P-day where we all bought copper tubes from Bunnings (like Home Depot) and also some crafting beads (what they use to make those bead animals or bugs type). We painted up the tubes, popped the beads in our mouths and blew them at each other through the tube for a massive blowgun fight. If you could put three in at a time you’d get a shotgun spread effect. It was a party!
We had a leadership training meeting, and one thing they showed us is the new church advertising website, which is www.mormon.org. All my Mormon friends reading this, you have a homework assignment: go to mormon.org, log in with your church accoung (make one if you don’t yet have one) and make a profile for yourself. The point of the website is to show that Mormons are ordinary people, and to establish a peer-to-peer network of church information from the direct source, rather than from the messages from the organization itself. People these days trust peers more than an organization. This website is key for missionary work in a day when everybody is online looking for information. Mormon.org is colorful, fun, and cool. I especially love the I’m a Mormon section that has videos spotlighting the lives of different people. For all my non-Mormon friends, just go to the website and look at it. You’ll get an idea of what it is I’m teaching people here. You’ll like it. 🙂
In other crazy news, I have a couple stories. Elder Savelio and I were teaching a man named Andre from France. He has horrible health problems, mainly emphysema. Every time we would go to see him, he’d always explain how Australia doesn’t take care of him, nobody takes care of anybody, and basically that the world was going down the toilet. He spent a lot of time explaining just how serious this was. In our previous visits, we were able to teach basic doctrine to him, like why there is so much evil in the world and what we can do about it. He would listen, and he even read the Book of Mormon that we left with him. Progress was slow, but coming. However, in our last visit, he got frustrated when we said that maybe he complains just a little bit too much. I’ve noticed that because he lives alone and is too weak to leave his home, he’s trapped in his own thoughts. His thoughts are all anti-world anti-everything, and so he’s constantly spiraling into more and more anger. As soon as we suggested to complain less, he did the opposite and complained until he was shouting. When he finally paused, I quietly asked, “Andre please don’t yell at us. We are not the cause of the problem.” But he was past feeling. He crudely commanded us to leave, or else he would call the cops. “And take your book with you, you morons!” SLAM. There was nothing we could do. So we left. It’s sad to see somebody make such poor decisions in their thoughts and actions. He let his rage jump to conclusions.
On the way home from that appointment, we got to a green light, but the cars were stopped. Confused, I soon noticed that two cars had crashed, and one of them couldn’t operate. It sat in the middle of the intersection, half the front decimated. “Oh no. We have to help them,” I said. Hazards on, we jumped out. 5 of us came to try to move the car. The driver said it wouldn’t turn on, and the steering was locked. We helped him shift into neutral, and we tried to push it aside. It took a couple minutes for us to steer it out of the intersection. During that time, one of the ladies helping us was very helpful and proactive, but she also found it necessary to shout obscenities the whole time. Other people sat in their cars impatiently, watching us struggle to move the car. The worst were the drivers who honked their horns and grouchily revved and swerved around us, as if our efforts to get the car out of the way were an offense to them. The worst was a driver from far down the road who gunned it into the wrong side of the road and barrelled past, blaring his horn the whole way. For us in the street trying to fix the problem, it adds a lot of tension and makes it harder to concentrate and work together. The poor guy who’s car was wrecked looked more scared than a toddler underneath a rugby scrum. It only took a moment for the problem to be solved and the street cleared, but it was sad to see how impatient and inconsiderate the other people were. All of you, don’t be like them! Step forward, be helpful.
Our work is moving slowly, but we’ve been making progress with the ward, much thanks to our spot-on ward mission leader Brother Collins. Elder Savelio and I have a better routine worked out, and I’m really glad I have a skilled companion to help with everything. I have trouble understanding him sometimes, but I’m figuring it out. Each time I feel frustrated, I remember that he’s improved a lot since we first started, and when we talk about our responsibilities and things we have to do, we’re on the same page. Elder Savelio has taught me about how important it is to speak my mind, stand up for myself, and not be afraid. I generate more anxiety than necessary when I assume people will say no.
I hope everybody up there is healthy or at least getting closer to it. Stay warm, because I sure am. I love you. Mormon.org! Go there!
-Elder Scott Baker