Hey there! So this week we have transfers but both Elder Seumanu and I are staying in Siumu! It’s good because neither of us wanted to get sent anywhere else and we’ve got some good goals that we want to accomplish as a companionship. So we’ve got at least 6 more weeks together in Siumu tearing it up with our OK language.
The language is coming along though! I’m not where I want to be or need to be but I’m understanding and able to respond and have conversations about more than ‘what’s your name?’ and ‘where are you from?’. It’s getting better and the more I think I can do well, the better I do. It honestly is a mental battle every day. Trying to understand a new language is so hard. Every day you never know what’s going to be thrown at you or what you can really do to prepare for it. One thing that bugged me a lot at first is that when you ask other people that have struggled to learn the language how they learned they would just say “It’ll come”. Haha it’s a lot easier when you can do thing A and thing B and just learn the language. However, as I’ve spent more time out here I’ve seen that it does come. Just study what you can and throw yourself out there and you start to pick up on things and it comes!
Anyways, for this past week….. Not a whole lot of new stuff. Lots of sweating, some walking in the rain, a zone conference, and a split with the zone leaders are some of the highlights.
Our zone conference was focused around the importance of the Book of Mormon. All to0 often people here in Samoa are converted to the church or the missionaries that taught them rather than the gospel. So when something changes (bishop is released, missionaries get transferred, someone offends them) they just leave. The thing is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t about how many friends go to church with you. It’s about the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are truly converted then that’s all that matters. We won’t be overly upset if the bishop you love gets released or the ward boundaries change or someone calls you dumb in church ball. If you know the gospel is true and have faith in our Father in Heaven then you’ll have faith that everything will be OK in the long run.
So that’s something I’m going to focus on more as a missionary. Teaching for complete and true conversion. Or to at least start people down that path. Obviously it takes years and even a life time to be entirely converted. I would like to challenge all of you to become more fully converted to the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Prophets both latter-day and ancient. True conversion takes action so we all need to DO things that show our level of understanding and dedication. I know that as we do small things like daily prayer and scripture study our faith grows and so does our commitment to do better.
So the split with the zone leaders wasn’t anything big but it was fun. So one of our zone leaders is Elder Filiaga (from Idaho) and his grandmother lives in Saaga. This past Friday night was his grandma’s turn for fafaga (a feed) so he had the opportunity to eat with his grandma that he hasn’t seen for a while and probably won’t see for a while after the mission. So while he and Elder Seumanu stayed in Siumu/Saaga, Elder Johnson (from Idaho as well) and I went to Vavau. We had a good split! Elder Johnson was my first district leader here in Samoa so we already knew each other but this split gave us the chance to get to know each other even better. This was my first time going out with another palagi as well so that was cool. We had some great visits and taught a lesson together. This was the first time that I’ve taught the first lesson (the Restoration) and I noticed a large jump in my ability to communicate what I wanted to say. I able to say what I wanted and was able to explain what I wanted to cover. It was so good and I could tell that the Spirit was helping me speak without long awkward pauses. I just spoke. I don’t think this was the first time the Holy Ghost has helped me but this time I noticed a big difference in my Samoan. Haha not to toot my own horn but I was really proud of how I did. But as Ammon said “I boast not of myself but of my God”. It’s only because of His help that I have any proficiency in this crazy language.
I love you all and I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had this week to communicate after no internet connection last week. Faafetai mo lou onosa’i ma alofa ia te a’u. (Thank you for your patience and love to me).
Hope you have a great week!
Elder Doran Erickson
Excerpted from Becky and Doran’s Email Exchange.
From Becky: Today in Relief Society we had a lesson about Joseph Smith. It was so interesting to hear many converts in our ward speak to the first time they heard the story of the First Vision. I was kind of sad that she did not ask us lifetime members about the time or the date for the event in which we first learned that the Joseph Smith story was real. Yes we have heard it all of our lives, but I believe each one of us has a moment, an experience, a personal witness that Joseph Smith is the true prophet and did indeed see God and Jesus Christ. I certainly remember when it happened for me.
From Doran: As always thank you for the thorough update on what life is like at home! it’s good to hear everything is still normal haha or as normal as our life can be. I want to thank you for taking us to the sacred grove right before i left. It made the first vision seem that much more real and personal. I know with no doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet. i’m so thankful for that testimony as well. I remember being in Carthage jail when we went to Nauvoo and feeling the sad but strong spirit there. The sacred grove was different. More of like a new, fresh, beginning feeling ya know? anyways, I love the prophet Joseph Smith and all that came about because of his courage. There’s a song called ‘Like a Lamb to the Slaughter’ about Joseph leaving Nauvoo. Have you heard it? it’s one of my favorite churchy songs now. Give it a Google. Love you so much. My language is going well. My pronunciation is much better than some of the other Palagi’s here and i feel that I’m progressing well even if I’m not where I want to be. Not fluent yet but getting there. Haha Alofa atu