Ten months whaddup (not that I’m counting)! This week Elder Hayes and I hit our 10 month mark so we finally made it to the double digits. Now we’re just waiting until our “months left” get to single digits ;). I got two letters from Mom this week. Both with sacrament meeting programs. One contained a list of all the missionaries from the stake! It’s incredible how our one stake is doing so much to promote the work of the Lord. Shout-out to the Milton Ward for having the most missionaries out [from the Wards in the Roswell Stake]. It’s great to see so many names of friends from all over the stake out serving the Lord and striving to do what’s right. Also, shout-out to the Hansen family relations having 3 Elders and 1 Sister on that program!
Anyways, for the weekly report. This week was way busy. We had 3 people to prepare for baptism and lessons to teach. So Monday through Thursday we taught a lot of lessons. Busy the whole day so that’s good.
Friday there was a leadership conference at the mission office for all leaders on Upolu. So all the Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders went to the office to receive some training. It was a really good conference. I learned a lot. One point they brought up is that we will be leaders for the rest of our lives (fathers/mothers, callings in the church, business, older sibling, etc.) so the principles we can learn and practice now are of worth for the rest of our lives. So that was a great point. And another experience I had at the conference may have made me tear up and have trouble talking (so sensitive I know). Sister Tolman was leading a portion of the training titled “The Trustworthy Leader”. She had us do an activity where she passed out note cards, had us write our names in the top corner and then in the center write the name of someone in the room that we trust (excluding her and president). I had my answer in an instant. Elder Seumanu. My last companion from New Zealand. Even though we were only together for 6 weeks we struggled and survived together. In my heart he’s my brother. So then Sister Tolman asked some people to share why they put down who they put down. Unfortunately, she called on me. As soon as I thought of my explanation and started to share it was hard to keep composure. I’m proud to say that no tears actually fell but it was hard to share that in our time together there were times we had no clue what was going on and Elder Seumanu always stayed headstrong and helped lead me through those tough times with no work/investigators, conversations we didn’t understand, or just days that I was discouraged. He was always the one I could follow through the tough times and never ceased to have a joke or good attitude to help. Then Sister Tolman asked Elder Seumanu to share how that made him feel and all he got out was “Speechless”. Then Sister Tolman had a few other people share and eventually opened it up for anyone to share. Elder Seumanu raised his hand and said that on his card he wrote my name down. Haha man was it hard to keep it in right then. He shared that in our time together since he is Samoan and this is his culture, learning and mastering this language is a big deal for him. So it really hurts when people tell him his Samoan is poor. And he said that even though I couldn’t speak it either I did what I could to tell people that his Samoan is fine. He hasn’t been out long and he’s trying just like anyone else. He said that as I struggled to defend him and help he really appreciated that. Man I was trying not to let tears fall, I’m pretty sure he was, and President and Sister Tolman looked like they were getting some moisture in their eyes as well. Haha so all in all Elder Seumanu had the comment of the conference in my eyes. He’s an amazing missionary, man, and friend. I really miss the time we had together. I actually sent a request to President asking if there was a way we could serve near each other again. Hopefully in the future we get a chance.
Then on Saturday we had 2 baptisms! Maliko and Teka! Teka is part of the family whose mom we baptized the week before. Now the whole family is baptized. I’m confident that in a year they’ll get to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. They’re incredible. Maliko is an 18 year old investigator that has really strong faith. His parents are strong in the Methodist church but respect that this is a decision that he can make for himself. He’s great and I’m hoping he’ll continue to study and increase his faith.
Well that’s all for this week. I’m sick today so hopefully that’ll go away quickly. Say a prayer huh? Thanks for all that you do. Love yo so so so much.
Elder Doran Erickson
Editor’s Note: The following is from the Apia Samoa Mission Blog, courtesy of Sister Tolman.
Spread the Good News
Posted: 17 May 2015 12:09 AM PDT
I used to tell my own kids when they were at home that the “mother grapevine was alive and well.” They knew it meant that I would eventually find out what they were up to through the mothers of their friends. It worked, and it worked well.
There is a healthy and hardy grapevine in this mission, although President Tolman and I don’t seem very connected to it quite like when I was a mother. News travels from missionary to missionary faster than the speed of light when something happens. It seems to move faster when it is bad news. We started our leadership training this month. When we were in Savai’i, one of our zone leaders said that he felt it was vital that as leaders we support the righteous decisions of the missionaries we serve. It led to a discussion about looking for the good things that happen in the mission and talking about those instead of the negative.
We asked for examples of good experiences when we were in Savai’i and then again here in Upolu. (Tutuila leadership training is the end of this week.) It was incredibly strengthening to hear missionaries talking about other missionaries and the good that they see in them. One missionary talked about the courage of another as he stood alone in a setting in which he was asking everyone there to make a better choice. One talked about zone leaders who say “we love you” every time they talk on the phone. One talked about the strength that is shared through another’s ability to bring happiness and positivity to every situation. There were others, but I think you get the idea. I am deeply grateful that they could find the positive and share it openly.
It got me thinking about our tendency as humans in this fallen world to look for the negative instead of the positive. Why is that? I am sure there are many reasons why we tend to see the negative, but I like this explanation: “The brain gives more attention to negative experiences over positive ones because negative events pose a chance of DANGER.” That seems reasonable to me. What seems to be more important though is that we don’t get stuck in the negative cycle. Somehow we must look for, find, and hold to the positive. After all, isn’t that what the Savior wants and expects of us? The last part of the thirteenth Article of Faith states, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” There it is; the commandment to see things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy. Those things still exist in the world. Do we seek them?
We have worked hard to develop a culture of obedience in our mission. It is now time to also develop a culture of finding and talking about the good things that happen. I often like to ask the missionaries “what would happen in our mission if . . ..” I neglected to ask them “what would happen if our grapevine is only full of the good news?” I like to think we will have happier missionaries. I like to think they will be more motivated to choose good and do good because it is what we all are talking about. I know they will be better representatives of the Savior because they will carry love in their hearts for their fellow missionaries. I know they will be blessed in their work because the joy of finding the good in others will be seen by those they teach and touch. I know the work will feel lighter because the Spirit will attend them as they make room for Him because they focus on the positive.
The Book of Mormon tells a story of a missionary, Ammon, who is overcome with joy in the work of God. “Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” (Alma 27:18.) Humble seekers of happiness see God’s hand in their lives. Humble seekers of happiness find happiness even when things look hard and dark. Humble seekers of happiness change the conversation from bad to good. Humble seekers of happiness know that through Christ all things are possible. Humble seekers of happiness find the good in everyone, celebrate others’ goodness, and spread the good news!