Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's been a crazy week!

Sept. 14 – Sept. 22, 2014

Holy Cow, this week has been pretty crazy :)… crazy good, crazy bad, and crazy crazy! But its all good because the Lord has it all planned out. Sometimes it would just be nice to be able to push fast forward to see how the blessings all play out in the end.

So the low down of the week went something like this…

Tuesday (9/16/14):
As usual, today started off looking like a solid day of teaching appointments. Then Satan decided to kick in, making people who we had previously GQ’d, no show for their teaching appointments at the branch! Satan is such an annoying dude!! I love being a missionary in the city because I love meeting so many different people everyday. However, one of the problems being a “city missionary” is when we schedule appointments with investigators, they have to come to the branch for their lessons, we are not able to teach them anywhere else… That’s why we get a lot of no shows. Anyways, let just say that up until about 6 PM it was a tough day.

This is our Melbourne 2nd International Branch. 
We meet on the first floor of the Ozford House Building.

Sometimes as missionaries, I get the feeling the Lord is testing our patience, and if we pass the test He rewards us with a tender mercy! Well I guess Elder N and I passed the test because our last appointment of the day actually showed up! His name is S and he is from Indonesia. He is a student working here in Melbourne, but goes home often to see his family in Indonesia! Well, the lesson went SOLID, and the spirit was so strong! By the end of our appointment we were able to commit him to a baptismal date of October 4th! Nothing like ending your day on a HIGH! Oh how I love those “tender mercies.”

Wednesday (9/17/14):
Today was a good day. D (the totally KEEN AS guy I baptized last week) took us to lunch and we just had a good time :) I totally love that Cambodian!! He is a Spiritual Giant! It’s amazing to witness the conversion of one of God’s children. In fact, I kind of feel like D’s “spiritual parent” as Elder N and I continue to meet with him to strengthen his already firm foundation in the gospel… It makes me so happy just thinking about it :)

Elder N, D, and Me eating lunch in the Branch... Yum Yum!

It’s funny how today was such a contrast to yesterday… I witnessed many miracles today! Even to the extent of having a complete stranger come into the branch because he wanted to know more about Jesus Christ! Seriously? Yesterday we couldn’t have paid people to come to their scheduled appointments, and today they’re walking into the branch unsolicited! The Lord definitely prepares his children in all different ways! Of course no day is complete without a little GQing. So we GQed a man today by the name of N. He is visiting from India and seemed to be super Keen… or so we thought at the time. I’ll come back to N when I get to Friday.

Thursday (9/18/14):
Thursday was probably the craziest day of my whole mission! Well actually, just the night time :) So it started off with Elder N and I going to a member’s house to give her a blessing. I did the anointing of the oil and what a great experience that was! The Spirit is so noticeable when you are exercising your priesthood authority!

After the blessing, we had Zone Interviews. This is where President Maxwell meets with the Elders individually to see how their missions are going. My interview was the last interview of the day and because President Maxwell was running about 2 hours behind schedule, and he had other appointments, my interview got cut pretty short. No worries though, I really don’t have any concerns about my mission :) It’s just all so GREAT! Following the interviews, Elder N had to give a baptismal interview for the Vietnamese Elders in our area. The interview was about an hour away so we hustled in order to get there on time! The interview went good, but it went waaaayyy long. In fact, it went so long, Elder N and I knew there was no way we were going to make it back to our flat in time to make our 9:30 PM curfew. I guess we could have prayed for a miracle, but we like to save those “phone calls” for when we’re GQing :)

Weekly planning with Elder N... We go HARD with the PLANS!

So what do you do as missionary, when you want to be 100% obedient, and you know that you are NOT going to make curfew? You get creative and get a sleep over approved at the nearest missionary flat! Talk about a crazy night! I had NOTHING but the clothes on my back! Sorry mom, I didn’t brush my teeth J But you know, the Lord watches over us and blesses us regardless of the situation. Man, the things you do on a mission to be exact in your obedience :) 

Friday (9/19/14):  
Today was a great day:) Come to think of it, most days are great here on my mission. I really feel like I can choose how my days are going to go. Sure, every day I get rejected over and over and over again. BUT, at the end of the day, that just drives me to find someone even better to GQ. MAN I LOVE THIS WORK!!!

Nothing like a Milky Joe to get you going on a cold Melbourne morning. (We got free chocolate from the local Milky Joe Coffee House... Hopefully people didn't think we were missionaries needing a lesson about the Word of Wisdom) Hahaha.

So you remember N, the guy we GQ’d on Wednesday. Well, we had set up an appointment to teach him today at the Branch. N made it to his appointment, which is always a great first step J. We taught him a little more about baptism, which went very well. He told us if God wanted him to be baptized, he would be baptized! N also said he would love to come to a baptism on Saturday so he could witness one before he was baptized. WOW, what more could a missionary ask for! 

Saturday (9/20/14):
Saturday was quite disappointing... We waited for N at the baptism for about 45 minutes and he never showed... Since he is just visiting Melbourne for a short time he doesn't have a cell phone which meant we had no way of following up with him... so that was pretty sad, and put a damper on the day because he seemed sooo KEEN!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a missionary, it’s that the Lord is KEEN to our needs, and works in great ways:) When Elder N and I got back to the flat tonight, waiting for me was the package of pictures from the family. Talk about making up for a kinda crappy day! It boosted my spirit and made me feel sooooooo HAPPY. I never thought I would love pictures so much. I’ve always been a “live in the now” kind of guy. But can I just say “I LOVE PICTURES!!! Keep them coming! I just look at all of them every night. Did I mention how much I love pictures :)


Sunday (9/21/14):  
So today I gave my first talk as a full time missionary! It was pretty righteous if I say so myself. I spoke on 2 Nephi 31:20, where it talks about feasting upon the words of Christ. Writing this talk totally strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon… heaps! I would encourage everyone that is reading this letter to PRAY every time before you open the Book of Mormon! Think of questions you have and are looking for answers to. Then, instead of just reading the Book of Mormon, truly feast upon the words of the Prophets! I promise you if you will approach your scripture study in this manner, you will gain a better understanding of what the Prophets in the Book of Mormon are trying to teach us! I know it worked for me!

To wrap up our Sunday we met a man named P. P seems interested in the gospel and expresses a desire to give up his casual drug use in order to make a change. The desire to change is Keen when trying to over come any kind of addiction… especially drugs. Stay tuned. We’ll see how it goes. P accepted the goal of baptism for the 18th of October! You always have to begin with the goal in mind.

I Love you all so much. Know I am praying for you from the land down under!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My First Baptism… What a GREAT week!

Sept. 9 – Sept. 14, 2014

Familia!! The Lord has definitely blessed me with an amazing week!

Alright here is the down beat!

Tuesday (9/9/14):
We taught a guy that I GQed on Bourke Street last week. His name is L, he is from Columbia and is super KEEN! (there’s that Aussie word for sharp and eager… commit it to memory. I will be using it a lot for the next 23 months) haha. He is here to study English and has a work visa so he can earn money while he is living in Melbourne. When I met L he seemed pretty lonely! In fact, it was pretty crazy how I met him.

I was walking on Bourke Street with Elder N and I saw L from like 20 meters away. I had this strong feeling come over me to go and talk with him! So as I’m looking at him, he starts to get up off of the bench, and something (being the Spirit) made me start running towards him! When I got to him I introduced myself and started talking to him! Come to find out L had come to Bourke St (Which is like a HUGE shopping center) to see if he could find someone to talk to! And I was the only one that had reached out to him! (or chased him down like a linebacker). So anyways, we taught him and he is keen as. At the end of the lesson about the Book of Mormon and how to pray, L got up and gave me a Hug. I mean it was so crazy. I barely know this guy and he is giving me a Hug! The spirit in the room was soooo rich!! 

Bourke Street where Elder N and I do a lot of GQing. Imagine me running down the street full throttle try to catch L before he walked away.

On a less spiritual note, Elder N and I were on our way home Tuesday night and we were riding on the train. I started talking to this guy, like asking him his name, and saying “how are you doing”... and guess what he did!!! He looked me right in the eye, didn’t say a word, put in those sleeping ear-plugs that you use on the airplane, and went to sleep! Hahaha, maybe I should have offered him a caffeine free Coke with his name on it J

Wednesday (9/10/14):
We met with D, the guy from Cambodia that I told you about last week. Elder N and I taught him about the Word of Wisdom. We told him about no hot drinks like Coffee and Tea. We were a little worried because we knew he drinks coffee and tea... BUT he flat out said he would stop! I mean WOW! The miracles you witness on your mission are just mind blowing! The Church is True!!!! And through the Spirit we can do anything! 

Later in the Afternoon we had the Golden Review! This is where all the missionaries that arrived with me in Melbourne on August 27th met together to talk about what we liked and how we have overcome some challenges! It was really great! Sister Maxwell asked if I would sing a solo! So I willingly accepted and sang "The Spirit of God." Sister Maxwell used to sing in the Mo Tab Choir and so I was a bit nervous. But hey, I’ll take the blessings and the brownie points. hahaha

Thursday (9/11/14): 
Today we taught D about paying tithing. He is seriously a miracle… after we told him about tithing, he said, " So when can I pay my 1st 10% to God!” WOW!! The Lord works miracles through missionaries!! 

On the way home on the train tonight I got talking to another guy... well actually, he read my name badge in kind of a mocking manner but I just brushed it off and started talking to someone else. When I went to get off at my stop, he turned to me and said, "What you are doing is manipulating mate!" I thought about what he said for a second and told him, "Have a nice night mate!" I laughed all the way home!! Some people just aren't accepting of the Gospel… yet :)

Friday  (9/12/14):
All of our appointments (and we had 5), didn't show up and that was a bummer. So we just decided to GQ. In that time of GQing we got 7 New Contacts and they seemed even better then the appointments that we had set up for the day! I learned the importance of keeping a good attitude. Because it was truly a blessing those appointments didn't show up because we were able to find more people that were even more accepting of our message!
The Lord works in marvelous ways! When times get uncertain, we just need to remember to rely on the Lord and have faith that He knows all!

Saturday (9/13/14):
I HIT THE MONTH MARK!!!! hmmmm that was an interesting feeling! In some ways, I feel it went by super fast! Then when I think about it in other ways it didn’t go very fast at all! It made for a hard day being away from my family... But I know as long as we trust in the Lord and devote ourselves as missionaries to him it will go fast!! And we as missionaries will be able to convert and help HEAPS of people!

Welcome to the One Month Club!

Sunday (9/14/14):
D WAS BAPTIZED!!!! What an amazing experience! The Lord already blessed me with the opportunity to participate in a baptism and I have only been out doing the work here in Melbourne, for less then 3 weeks!! I even had the privilege of Baptizing D! What a spiritual experience! I mean you are baptizing them and they are being spiritually reborn right in your arms as you pull them out of the water!! 

Me, D, and Elder N at the Baptism... What a great day!

Afterwards, when Elder N and I were back at our flat, I received this txt message from D:
 "Thanks so much Elder Steele and Elder N. It is my wonderful day and I feel super great! Thank you for your support, both emotionally and physically. Too much emotion came out when I read Elder Steele's Card! "
(I had given him a card at the baptism saying how proud I was of him and his decision to be baptized.)


Thursday, September 11, 2014

So this is the life of a Missionary... I LOVE it!

Sept. 2 - Sept. 7, 2014

I am finally figuring out what it is like to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! What an amazing blessing and experience this journey will be! I have seen so many miracles already and it is only my 2nd week here in Melbourne! I am loving my mission! Although I miss you all so much, and every night I think about my family, I know this is where Heavenly Father wants me to be! Just know I pray for all of you each night, and I know you do the same for me because I can feel it everyday!

Melbourne Mission Home

Wow! What a week. How about a little recap.

Tuesday (9/2/14):
So we are teaching this guy named David. He is from Cambodia and he is sooooo “keen as” (Aussie term for sharp, eager). I mean this guy is solid! We teach him, and he just absorbs everything we’re saying like a sponge! He NEVER has any questions or concerns with the church! The spirit is sooooo strong while we are teaching him! So we’re sitting there teaching David the first lesson, and as the lesson came to a close, I had this weird feeling to share with him the importance of being baptized by one who has the proper authority... so I did! You will never believe what happened at the end of our discussion.  David accepted my baptismal challenge… for this Sunday! HE IS GOING TO BE BAPTIZED! I love this gospel! It is amazing to see how the spirit works to teach and testify of the truthfulness of the gospel. There are truly miracles happening all around Elder Newell and I!

You can imagine how this experience boosted my confidence in my ability to testify. I know the Lord is preparing people all around us to hear the gospel. We just have to be willing to submit to the Lord's will and open our mouths when prompted by the spirit.

Can I say the rest of today was just cherry! Elder Newell and I even got Bible Bashed, HARD CORE... But I didn't even care, because I was on such a spiritual high from our time spent with David. 

Speaking of “highs,” I did the Tim Tam Slam this week. I guess it’s not so much a high, as it is a huge “flavor rush.” So there's an Australian cookie called a Tim Tam. A Tim Tam is a chocolate biscuit with a chocolate cream center, all of which is then covered in chocolate… is your mouth watering yet? Wait, it gets better, because now comes the “Slam!” First, you get a nice rich cup of hot chocolate (The Aussie’s use coffee, but as I spread the gospel to everyone in Australia, they will soon be converting to hot chocolate). Next, you bite off both ends of the Tim Tam, place one bitten end of the Tim Tam in your mouth, and dip the other bitten end into the hot chocolate. Now suck using the Tim Tam as a straw. As the hot chocolate is pulled through the biscuit, the structure of the biscuit and chocolate cream collapses. Once the liquid sensation hits your tongue, you pop the whole Tim Tam in your mouth before it explodes! Clearly the invention of a bored Australian bloke playing with his food… a very tasty, and entertaining invention. But hey, now I’ve done the Tim Tam Slam, and even lived to tell about it.

My first of many attempts at the Tim Tam Slam... there are 11 biscuits per packet.

Our kitchen in our Richmond apartment... Scene of the Tim Tam Slam!
I'm giving the whole incident 2 thumbs up!

Wednesday (9/3/14):
Every single lesson appointment canceled on us today! It was pretty depressing, but I figured since we didn’t have any appointments, God needed us to find people instead! So Elder Newell and I GQ'd all day long… for like 8 hours straight! Haha. I love GQing because I am able to share a short message that is near and dear to my heart, and really gain a better understanding of how firm I am in the gospel! The Lord is definitely blessing me because I was able to get 8 New Contacts all by myself today (of course with the Lord's help)! Now you may be wondering what constitutes a “New Contact.” A New Contact means I have gotten the persons name, phone number, and scheduled a return appointment! So I (I mean the Lord… duh, this is the Lord's work) got 8 new people to teach lessons to! Can you say PUMPED!

Thursday (9/4/14):
The day started out by teaching this Bloke (Aussie term for “Man or Guy”) from Sydney at our Branch building. His name was Nigel, and boy was he possibly the most interesting guy I have ever talked with in my entire life! Wow, just some of the things he said, for example: "Evil is all around us and we are all dooooomed," and "I have been cursed with evil many times in my life," and "When you cut yourself you bleed." Just totally random, bazaar thoughts! So while Nigel was sharing his random thoughts, I was thinking to myself, “What in the heck does this guy want from us?” Well, it turns out Nigel thought we were therapists... ya, like WRONGO! (American term for “completely wrong”). The black name tag indicates I am a missionary, not Nigel’s personal street therapist. So I turned to Nigel and asked, "would you like to hear a message about Jesus Christ?" Unfortunately, he declined, got up, and walked out of the branch. Just one of many experiences I’m sure I’ll remember forever!  

But good things did happen today! We taught Dana for the second time. Dana is a Jewish girl in her mid twenties and is "keen as!" She has been searching for the next spiritual enlightenment in her life, so we are helping her find herself! During today’s lesson she talked about how nice it would be to start over! The thought came to my mind... "hmmmm, start over.. spiritually reborn… she needs to be baptized!" So I committed her to Baptism! Well I didn’t, but the Lord did through me. :)  Her date is set for September 20th! Man, there are so many miracles happening out here!

Sunday (9/6/14):
First Fast Sunday Down! Dad and Talmage, you both looked way good in your Fast Sunday ties that matched mine! Soooo righteous! I feel so connected! :)

Tag, Dad and Talmage, standing together (with some quick help from Photoshop) 
outside the Melbourne Branch, wearing their matching Fast Sunday ties.

It was definitely weird fasting without you guys today. As a family we’ve always knelt together to make a list of the things we were going to fast for. So to make it less weird, I took matters into my own hands and made a list myself! :)  It was a huge testimony builder to create a list of things I wanted to fast for, all on my own. It was also a great opportunity to bond with the Lord as a missionary in his service!

So at church today I was sitting in Gospel Principles and the Branch President came up to me and said “I need you to teach Gospel Principles today”... Ya, talk about frightening! What could I say? So I willingly accepted the challenge to teach! I taught about service, and how it helps us to grow! I taught how we can feel closer to the Savior by following his example of service! No doubt the Lord was guiding me through this lesson.

Inside our Branch with Sister McFadden.
Her son is my family's Home Teacher back in Fruit Heights.

So everyone reading this letter, try praying this week for opportunities to give service to someone in need! Try to especially serve someone that you don't know! I promise, as you seek for, and give service, you will feel our Savior's love, and blessings will come your way!

I love my mission! It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done but the most rewarding! I am learning things about my self that I never knew were even a part of me! I love my mission and the people! You guys should read the talk The 4th Missionary! You can find it on Google, written by Lawrence Corbridge. It is an amazing talk! I am striving to be the 4th Missionary! It can benefit everyone not just missionaries. 

I love you guys so much and I am eternally grateful for all you have done for me! I cannot wait to be with you for EVER AND EVER!! I Love you so much, and I love this gospel!! 

I hope everything is going well in the 801!

Love Elder Steele

PS Thanks so much to everyone who has emailed me. I love to hear from you and I am trying to write back but my hour to email goes by sooooo fast!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Spreading the WORD in Melbourne

Aug. 27– Sept.1, 2014

Family!!! How is everything going? Wow, what a week! It was soooooo nice to talk with all of you (on the phone :) on Monday while I waited in the Airport for my departure to Melbourne! It was VERY much needed!

I am glad you got the EXTREMELY short e-mail on Wednesday telling you I had safely made it to the Melbourne Mission Home. I didn’t have much time but wanted you to know I MADE IT and survived the 15 ½ hr flight from LAX to Melbourne! It was exciting to finally meet President and Sister Maxwell. They are such loving people! I can tell they work hard to keep all the missionaries focused!

Besides the small package waiting for me (thanks Mom, you always seem to know what I need) I did have another nice surprise when I got to the mission office. I met two senior sister missionaries, (get this, they are not only sisters in the gospel but also sisters by birth… how cool is that) who are Christy Wagstaff’s cousins. They say I will be seeing them all the time! :) I love being 8K + miles away from home and meeting people who know the same people I do.

My very first area of service is Richmond! I’m sure you’re wondering, "Where is Richmond?" I AM IN DOWNTOWN MELBOURNE. Richmond is a suburb of Melbourne, about 2 miles south east of Melbourne's Business District. English speaking missionaries NEVER serve in the city! (Don’t ask me why, that’s just the word on the street). But hey, I’m here in the city! It seems from what I’ve been told, missionary work in the city is a little tougher than normal! But I will talk about that later.

Melbourne City Business District from the top of our church building.

I’m sending this e-mail from the downtown library. That’s where we go on our P-day to send and retrieve e-mails. We’re limited on computer time to an hour each P-day so my fingers are smokin’ (not really… smokin’ is against the Word of Wisdom :)) . Thanks to everyone for all of your emails! I always LOVE hearing about what is happening with friends and family! 

My companion’s name is Elder Newell (You might know his dad, Lloyd D. Newell, He’s the voice of “MoTab” and the Spoken Word), Elder N. graduated from Lone Peak in '13 and he is pretty chill! He has been out for about 7 months and will be my trainer. He is very outdoorsy (some how the Lord just keeps pairing me with people that like camping, fishing and outdoorsy stuff). Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors as long as I’m sitting in a beach chair, by the ocean, soaking up the sun with a Miami Vice in one hand (non-alcoholic of course) and a bowl guacamole in the other) hahaha, but it’s all good because Elder N is really friendly, easy to get along with, and loves being a missionary!

Me and Elder Newell outside our flat on my first day in Australia!

Missionary work in the city is really fast paced. Because we don’t have a car or bikes we use mass transit to get around. We are either hopping on or off buses or trams as we cruise around the city spreading THE WORD. Sometimes we get so busy we don’t even have time to stop for lunch. I guess I better start packing a PBJ in my bag. ha ha! It’s all good though, the Lord is blessing me to get through the days on a low food tank!

 When I'm low on fuel I fill up with Chips and Schnitzel... Where's my Siracha?

My Flat (that’s what they call apartments in Australia) is interesting. Because Elder N and I are both new to the area the apartment is new for both of us. Although it’s nice, it’s a little dirty... OK, a lot  dirty, but nothing a good p-day cleaning can’t fix. I will try and send you pictures later :) But ya know, the Lord doesn’t give us challenges we cannot handle… so I am just plugging along with a happy spirit and relying 100% on the Lord!

A selfie at my desk in our Richmond apartment.

Our Chapel is in the city. It’s on the first level of a downtown skyscraper and the view from the roof is amazing! It is soooo cool! I am in the International Branch that primarily consists of young adults and university students! In our Branch, Elder N and I are the only English speaking missionaries. The rest of the missionaries in the city speak Vietnamese. So I really consider myself blessed to be able to serve in the city.

Missionary work in the city is definitely a little different than what I expected! We hang out on the city streets by public places like the library, Melbourne Central Station, or anywhere there are lots of people walking around, and we go GQing (golden questioning). GQing is basically street contacting! It is pretty righteous! You know me, I love talking to people. We just go up to perfect strangers and start talking with them and try to incorporate the gospel into whatever we are chatting about! It’s sometimes a struggle, people don’t always want to talk to strangers (even if we do look GQ :), but the Lord works in AMAZING ways! I’m sure I will have some CRAZY GQing stories to share in the future.

We have had a couple of regular teaching appointments this week, but very few because Elder N and I are both brand new to the area. I will fill you in about teaching in next weeks e-mail because I am feeling a BOMB (that’s a good thing) of appointments for this upcoming week!

I did have a really cool experience on Saturday. Some other missionaries were having a Baptism and I was asked to sing as a part of the program. The Spirit was definitely present and it felt great to share my singing talent with people from all over the world. Our branch is a melting pot of nationalities due to the universities in the area. We have members and investigators from Hong Kong, Iran, Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam to name a few.

Inside the Melbourne 2nd Branch on the 1st floor of a downtown building. 
Elder C is one of the Vietnamese speaking Missionaries.

I’m not going to lie, a mission is a very hard thing! However, with faith in the Lord, you can do anything… move mountains, perform and witness miracles, and be an awesome missionary!

I love you guys. You mean the world to me!

PS: The mission wants all mail sent to the mission office. They will then forward it to me.

Elder Taggart Steele
Australia Melbourne Mission
76 Cathies Lane
Wantirna South VIC 3152