Monday, October 20, 2014

General Conference... You've gotta love it!

Oct. 6, 2014 - Oct. 12, 2014

Hi everybody. Sounds like life is hopping back in the 801. Thanks so much for my Halloween package!!! The Aussie’s don’t celebrate Halloween so Elder N and I are going to LOVE having our own personal trick or treat on the 31st of October! :) You guys ROCK!!

First package (Halloween package) as a true Aussie Missionary! 
Happy! Happy! Happy!

So here’s the down low on another week!

Monday (10/6/2014):
After sending my weekly email to the family and to President Maxwell, the point of time in my mission I have been dreading since leaving home was finally upon me. No longer could I push off the inevitable. Destiny was pounding on my door and I couldn’t dodge it any longer... I HAD TO GET MY HAIR CUT!!!... Ahhh sooo crazy!!!!  I have had the same person cutting my hair for the past 10+ years (that’s over half my life!).To make matters even more shaky, I was going to get it cut by a Chinese barber! WHAT WAS I THINKING! It’s not like I’m in a third world country! Hahaha. In the end, I guess my new “do” doesn't look too bad.. BUT NO WHERE NEAR as good as the cuts I get back home! Oh well, it had to be done! Too bad I wasn’t a missionary back in the time of Christ; I could’ve just grow my hair long… but then again I would’ve hated riding a donkey and living in a tent :) I’ve always said you need to be willing to make sacrifices here on the mission if you want to see success!

First missionary hair cut in the mission field... 
thumbs up or thumbs down? 
You be the judge!

Tuesday (10/7/2014):
Hardly any of our appointments showed today so we went GQing! (street contacting) You know how I love to GQ. It’s such a fast way to introduce people to the gospel. In just 3 hours we got 14 new contacts!! As we were eating lunch I had this thought to call a guy I GQed last week. His name is P and he is from Taz (Tazmania). I gave him a call and he said he wanted to meet later in the evening! The lesson was solid! He is a firm believer in Jesus Christ and has had some major trials that he feels Christ has helped him through! Elder N taught the lesson so I didn’t do much talking but at the end of our discussion I shared Ether 12:27 (“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble… If they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”) Tears filled P’s eyes as I continued to bear testimony of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was so strong in that lesson! It’s amazing how a day that began so imperfectly ended so perfectly!

Wednesday (10/8/2014):
Today started off with a guy named J. I GQed him on Burke Street (which is like a HUGE shopping street). He is from Malaysia and was in a coma for 1 month from a car accident. He was really nice. We taught him about the commandments and how we all need to be baptized! He has said he will be baptized on the 25th of October! I hope he makes that date! However, I really feel like he will be baptized soon regardless of a date:)

We taught C again. The lesson went great and we set a Baptismal date with him for October 18th… THIS SATURDAY! Our next appointment was with Paul. It was our first lesson with him. He is from Korea and he wants to believe in God and follow Chirst. During the Lesson I found myself asking him to be baptized to fill his desire to follow Christ! It was like the Spirit was forcing it out of my mouth! Imagine our joy when P said he would like to work towards being baptized on the 8th of November! 3 Baptismal Dates in one day! WOW! I am always amazed how the Spirit works in bearing witness to the truthfulness of the message we share as missionaries. My testimony grows everyday…. Definitely a great day!

Thursday (10/9/2014):
After yesterday, today was a bit boring. But I guess you’ve got to have the boring days to appreciate the action packed days like yesterday! We did teach an Aussie named S who had some deep doctrinal questions. I always approach deep doctrinal questions with caution because I don’t want to give misinformation. But S was respectfully persistent in wanting to gain understanding and with the help of the Lord, Elder N and I were able to smash all of his questions out of the park!! Haha. Today was a real confidence booster for me; to know with the help of the Lord, you truly can do anything you put your mind to!

Friday (10/10/2014):
I gave my first Zone Training on "How to effectively study the Book of Mormon." I focused the training around 2 Nephi 32:3 which says it perfectly!... WE MUST FEAST on the words of Christ!! We must first go to our Heavenly Father in prayer to obtain a greater knowledge of the scriptures; and then totally dive into His teachings.

Elder N (one of the Vietnamese Missionaries) and I after Zone Training. 
You can tell by Elder N's expression 
how much he loved my Zone Training Lesson!

As for the rest of the day, we taught two Word of Wisdom lessons… one with C and one with L. Both still want to follow Christ and be baptized so that is killer :) However C LOVES coffee and L smokes 30 cigs per day! Dad, I now understand what you meant by “Smokes like a chimney.” The Lord will help them though if they truly have a desire to change. We also taught D another lesson but had to move her baptismal date back because she will be out of town on the 25th… With D we’ve learned to always have faith and never lose hope!

Our last appointment of the day was with D (different D than the one previously mentioned). We have taught him a couple of times. However, this appointment was really sad. D says he believes in God but is not willing to follow him... Dang, so sad :(  He was supposed to be baptized on the 18th of October. Hopefully he will have a desire to follow his Savior at some future point in his life!

Saturday (10/11/2014):
Conference as a missionary is seriously the most amazing experience ever... even though we are watching the recorded broadcast one week after it has actually happened! Conference is something I definitely took for granted at home! I probably took like 10 pages of notes just watching the Saturday session! I have never been so eager to hear the Prophet and Apostles speak!

What an amazing blessing it is in our life to have the knowledge we gain from being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! It is truly a blessing that I know I’ve taken for granted! We must ALL invite everyone to come unto Christ, and share the happiness we enjoy as members of His Church!

MIssion Tradition... Conference Treats! Christmas Gummies. 
With no official celebration of Halloween, and no Thanksgiving, 
the Aussies have already jumped to Christmas retail.

Sunday (10/12/2014):
My first General Conference in the mission field… what an experience. Lots of talks on the importance of Sacrament Meeting, living the Law of the Fast, and the importance of sustaining the Prophet. I know I need to focus my studies more on the words and testimonies of the Prophets.

Never have I gotten so much out of Conference. Then again, it was definitely easier to focus on what was being said while wearing church clothes and sitting on a folding chair at the church. Not to say I won’t enjoy watching conference in our family room, lying on the Love Sac, enjoying our traditional cinnamon rolls and bacon when I get home… It’s just that now I will take notes between bites of cinnamon rolls and bacon :) It was definitely weird not watching conference as a family. However, I really did enjoy this conference as a missionary! I especially loved the Prophet's talk "Key to Being Obedient," because as a missionary, it is so key for me to be obedient in all things! Especially if I want to be the 4th missionary spoken of in the talk posted on-line and shared with all missionaries in the MTC.

Love you all so much,

Elder S :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy to be staying in the City with Elder N!

Wow this has been a GREAT WEEK!! (Like usual) But also a great transfer! There are 17 transfers during a mission and I already have 1 down! I have seen sooo many miracles while I have been here in Australia! I have definitely witnessed the Lord’s hand in my life as a missionary!

I mean in the last 6 weeks, Elder N and I have had 1 baptism; we’ve set 13 Baptismal dates!; we’ve had 38 new investigators; taught 85 total lessons; and last but not least we got 147 NEW CONTACTS!!! YUP, 147 :) For me it’s not about the numbers, I just love the work, but President Maxwell wants us to keep track of our activities for the mission office. Man, the Lord has really blessed Elder N and I! My first 6 weeks here in Australia have just been GREAT, and the next 6 weeks (that’s the amount of time between transfers) look even BETTER!!

Check it out, because I don't have a car or a bike (I walk everywhere) I've lost about 5 Kilos (10 lbs.).... cinch up the old belt!

Alright, here’s the break down for this week!

Tuesday (9/30/14):
This marked my very 1st FULL month in Australia!! WOW! I am becoming an Aussie;) hahaha.

So Elder N and I taught a kid in his 20's named D. He is from Malaysia and is here in Melbourne studying. We started teaching him a lesson but Elder N had to leave for a minute to take an important call so I took charge! Wow, what an amazing experience (not that I’m being prideful or anything, but I was proud of the way the Lord helped me to pick up where Elder N left off). D and I talked about the Plan of Salvation and why baptism is SO important in obtaining Celestial Glory! He was KEEN on baptism so I popped the golden question and committed him to baptism on the 18th of October!  He is super solid and I can’t wait to see his progression in the weeks to come!

After teaching D we had to go to the ICU to give a blessing to a less active member who was having a pretty rough time! I love giving priesthood blessings because you are able to become so in-tune with the spirit. It’s an unexplainable feeling! The lady is doing much better now, and was actually discharged from the ICU 2 days after the blessing! WOW, can you say miracle!

Wednesday (10/1/14):
It is already October! That’s what I wrote in my journal today…totally crazy to think that:) However, today marked the day of the fastest baptismal commitment I have ever seen! Elder N and I were teaching the first lesson to a guy named T from Ethiopia. Unfortunately, he had an unexpected appointment he had to get to so we only had about 10 minutes to talk! Fortunately for us, the spirit was so strong and T seemed very ready to be baptized, so we committed him to the 25 of October! :) I can’t say it enough, but the Spirit works in incredible ways.

On a sad note, the guy we had committed to baptism for the 4th of October disappeared on us.... Oh well, other missionaries will find him sometime down the road! Sometime it is my job to just plant a little seed and hope it grows over time!

Nothing like Australian ice cream to help you feel better at the end of the day. Lucky for me I'm at a 10 pound deficit :)

Thursday (10/2/14):
We taught another person from Malaysia today. His name is E! He was so solid and very accepting of our message! As we got talking to him after the lesson though, he is just traveling through Melbourne but he really wanted to hear our message about Jesus Christ. Since he is just passing through we won’t be teaching him anymore. However, when he gets back to Malaysia he says he is going to put in a request for missionaries on Later in the day, we got a call to dedicate an apartment from a less active member… So that was really cool. We actually challenged her to dedicate her own flat and she accepted the challenge! We taught her what she needed to do, and after the prayer was over, she sat there and said, “ya know, I have been inactive for 10 years, but I need to come back to church!” WOW, now that was an amazing experience!

If you didn't know already, I’m teaching English classes here at the Branch. I love teaching and helping all of these people from around the world to learn and grow!

Another new spiritual experience happened today while I was teaching a gospel lesson to a man named H. He is from Pakistan. His English is not so good, but that is why the Spirit teaches the lessons and not me :) I was the only one teaching him today and I could tell by the way he responded to me that he knew what I was saying. It was like a total out of body experience! Anyway, the lesson went great and I committed him to be baptized on the 15th of November… I'll keep you posted on how he is doing :)

Friday (10/3/14):
Man I love teaching 1st lessons! Just to see investigators hear the gospel for the first time is an amazing thing to witness. Today we taught D (hooray), you might remember her! She was the Jewish lady and was the very first lesson I ever taught! We had set a Baptismal date for her back in September but she couldn’t be baptized because she got really busy and wasn’t able to make it to church! Well she is less busy now and ready to be baptized! Her date has been set for the 25th of October!! I love this work!

Saturday (10/4/14):
So the transfer call from President Maxwell came Saturday night!! And YES I will be staying in the City with Elder N for at least another 6 weeks! Thank goodness, because my work here is far from being done… You can imagine how stoked I am about staying in the city! We met D, the guy who was my first baptism here in the city, today at noon, to continue teaching him the post baptismal discussions. The dude is soooo cool! He unexpectedly brought us lunch! Man, he is the MAN!! :) I love him so much!

Elder N and I celebrating that neither of us got transferred this week.

Later we taught a kid named C. He is from Korea and has been here for about 1 week! He seemed pretty eager to here about the gospel so I will keep you posted on his progress.

Sunday (10/5/14):
Today was probably by far my busiest and weirdest Sunday here yet! It started with an investigator lady named D. She arrived 30 minutes early to church so we taught her a lesson! I had GQed her earlier in the week and had invited her to come to our Sunday services, so I was really excited she came! However, at church she totally fell asleep on her chair, as well as the chair next to her… I’m talking full on, lay down on the row, and take a nap! Ya, lights out… she had shown up to church drunk! Poor thing, I guess the Church house would be a pretty peaceful place to sleep off a hangover:) I guess we should have sung “Ere you left the bar this morning, did you think to pay?”

So for all of you who have ever wanted to lay down on the bench and go to sleep during sacrament meeting... don’t! After reading this blog, people may think you are sleeping off a hangover :)

Even after a CRAZY Sunday like today, I still have lots to smile about.

I am doing really GREAT here in Australia! Hope everyone is the same! Thanks again for all the emails and letters you send me…..I am sorry I haven't had time to answer them……I am still trying to make this one hour of email time per week work. Thanks for your patience!

Elder Steele

Friday, October 3, 2014

Down Beat for the Week

Sept. 23 – Sept. 29, 2014

Man the weeks just keep coming and going! The mission is a great experience! I want to give a big Aussie shout-out, and thank everyone for all the support you have given me so far on this incredible journey!

Alright here is the down beat!

Monday (9/22/14):
Well, after Elder N and I finished up at the library with our weekly email to home, we headed over to the local 7-11. That’s right…  it was bring your own Slurpee cup day, and you know how much I love Slurpee’s :) Soooo, being a missionary on a budget, I was definitely resourceful with this special offer :) hahaha. I rummaged around in our kitchen and grabbed the biggest cup I could find! OK, so I grabbed the biggest pot in our flat… Hey, nobody ever said what the definition of a cup was. I figure I’ll just stick the pot in the freezer and chisel out a chunk of Slurpee every time I’m in need of a little refreshment. It’s like having our own personal Slurpee machine in our flat… 24-7!

Oh thank heaven for 7-11!

Like all other Mondays, we also did a little grocery shopping today. I will have to admit, shopping is really challenging sometimes, so Elder N and I take pictures to make it fun!... Thanks for always doing the shopping mom :)

Who knew shopping could be so much fun! 
Elder N and I look like we belong in a grocery store music video.

Tuesday (9/23/14):
I did my first official missionary service project today! We went to a widow’s house and tilled her garden so she could plant! She is the only widow in our ward, and in all honesty, she isn’t even supposed to be in our ward… But because of public transportation, it is easier for her to come to the city branch than travel to one of the outlying family wards! After the service project, Elder N and I went GQing… hahaha. We basically GQ every day, and I love it! There’s nothing like breaking pretty much EVERY unwritten social code there is! In fact, some people probably think we are invading their personal space. No worries, the gospel is worth it. Besides, I love the look I get when I walk up to a complete stranger and start talking to them! :) It’s priceless!

Wednesday (9/24/14):
Today was actually a pretty solid day! I mean of course we had some appointments drop, but that has happened EVERY SINGLE DAY since I have been here in Melbourne, but life still goes on and you make the best of it! :) However, we did teach some pretty keen 1st lessons today so I was pumped over that! I feel like I’m getting better at teaching gospel principles in a more simple way, but at times I still get looks of “huh?”! Sometimes it actually feels like I wasn’t just called to serve in the Australia Melbourne English speaking mission... But also, the Australia Melbourne BROKEN English speaking mission! Hahaha. I ask people all the time "how are you today?" and I get a priceless look of “what in the heck did you just say?”. Then I ask, "Today you how?" and I get a much better response! Oh the joy of communicating with international students :) 

Tonight also marked the very 1st Australian DOWN POUR I got caught in! HOLY COW! It was like standing under a raging waterfall! Of course I wasn’t armed with my umbrella (not that it would have mattered), so I just stepped into the sheet of water, like jumping into a swimming pool fully clothed, and took it like a man!!! :) Good experiences all around down here! NEVER a dull moment!

I look like a wet Wallaby!

Thursday: (9/25/14):
I still can’t get over the miracles that you witness here in the mission field that build your testimony; as well as the trials that test your faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t worry, my testimony is strong, and Mission life is great… just an observation!

I GQed a guy/philosopher from Scotland today. As I began introducing the gospel, he started talking to me about quantum physics and how it related to God… so I motioned over to Elder N to come and participate in this conversation because he really likes getting into the deep stuff. :) So there we are, sitting on a bench in front of the state library trying to teach this philosopher, and this total stranger comes over and sits down next to us and begins listening to our message. I had no idea who this guy was but apparently he recognized us and saw we were teaching a lesson; and because he is a recent convert to the church, decides to help us out by sharing his testimony to this philosopher…. CRAZY?… it gets better!  So as this total stranger convert dude is telling the Scottish philosopher how happy he has been since joining the church, a less active Mormon who apparently knows the recent convert dude, comes over and starts “un-testifying” what the recent convert dude is testifying! So… now picture in your mind 5 grown men sitting on a park bench… one guy bashing the church; one guy “un-bashing the church; a philosopher trying to understand the church; and two Elders trying to keep it all together! Definitely one of the funniest moments on my mission yet! But hey, how many missionaries can say they’ve taught a new Investigator, a recent convert, and a less active member all at the same time! It’s definitely something you don’t see every day :)

Victoria State Library where we do a lot of our GQing... notice the benches.

Friday: (9/26/14):
I studied the meaning of sacrifice during my personal study time today, and it will bless me forever! We all need to figure out what we can sacrifice to the Lord to show our Faith in Him. By doing so, we can become spiritually stronger and strengthen our relationship with our Heavenly Father. So I challenge everyone reading this to sacrifice something this week! Maybe it’s sacrificing an hour of your time to have family night on Monday; or instead of looking at your facebook or instagram for an hour, read the Book of Mormon for that hour! I Promise you as you do this, your faith in Jesus Christ will be strengthened.

All in all today was great. As long as you keep a positive attitude about your mission it will be a blast! Today I placed about 5 copies of the Book of Mormon in the hands of people that are searching for religion! I taught a guy named L who said his "Mormon bible" had been stolen and he wanted another one :) I also taught a lady named K. I GQed her, then Elder N and I brought her up to the Branch for a chapel tour! After the tour she commented how hungry she was. Something prompted me to buy her some sushi so I did… and we went our separate ways. I later found out she is homeless and hadn’t eaten in a long time! We must ALWAYS try to be in tune with the Spirit so we can act accordingly when prompted! 

Speaking of food and following the Spirit. D (he's the guy I GQ'ed and baptized a couple of weeks ago) took Elder N and I out to eat at this Malaysian restaurant called Mamak... I love D! He's the man! 

Elder N, Me, and D... Life is Good!

Elder N, Me, D, and Spicy Lamb Curry... Life is "Gooder!"

Saturday (9/27/14):
I have already been in Australia for 1 month! I have learned HEAPS while I have been out and it is really changing how I look at things! Man the mission is great… I can’t say it enough! We taught a couple by the name of R and S today! They are on working holiday visas from China! I am able to speak some Chinese with them, which is pretty rad! However, we’re still taking it slower than usual with them because of the language barrier; but I know the Spirit is speaking hard core to them, which is great!

Sunday (9/28/14):
What started out as an uneventful day, sure turned into quite the event. We had four teaching appointments drop, which made for the uneventful part of today. However, because of those four dropped appointments, Elder N and I decided to go HARD on new contacts… we got 34 contacts! That means we have 34 appointments for the next couple of weeks! I feel October’s going to be another GREAT month :)

Our Melbourne District. Elder N and I are on the far right... 
in case you forgot what I look like :)

I Love you all so much! I hope everyone is doing well!

Elder Steele