Monday, April 25, 2016

General Conference and a Miracle!

Monday (4.4.16)
We went to our weekly office staff meeting and then after that we were able to play some tennis for a couple hours with the Dandenong Zone Leaders and Reuel! After our tennis matches we were scheduled to meet with President Maxwell but he got a bit busy with some other matters so we changed our plans and went to Brother Kumarasamys house.  It was such a great blessing to us that our plans changed because he went took us to visit his friend Denotion! Denotion is now investigating the church and he is also living with a member of the church. He really showed interest in coming to church and learning about the gospel! It really helped me gain a testimony of how important members are to missionary work. I have seen it time and time again…..when members and missionaries unite it is a truly a blessing. I guess you could call it a freight train STRAIGHT to the waters of baptism! I am so very grateful for all the members of the church who are willing to help missionaries do the work of the Lord.

Tuesday (4.5.16)
Today was a VERY long day but a very great day! We started the day early with a wonderful trip to the temple with some of the missionaries who are going to be departing soon. The temple is going to be closing soon for annual cleaning and maintenance so we are trying to make sure everyone has a chance to go before they leave to go home. 

A wonderful day at the temple!

It was so nice to be inside the House of the Lord again. It made me think back to when I was first endowed before I left on my mission. I reflected back to when we were all in the celestial room as a family. Everyone that I loved was there with the exception of Talmage. However, this time I was blessed to be in the temple with my mission family! My perspective has really changed now that I am able to look at the mission on a much broader level! It is a real blessing to me being able to have a different view of my mission. After our wonderful time at the temple it was off to Maroondah Zone Interviews all day! I LOVED serving in the Maroondah zone and I was super excited to go back. We started around 11:00 am and didn’t finish till about 8:00 pm so it was a bit of a long day! After we finished with interviews, Elder Eyring, the Maxwells and I went back to the Mission Home to talk about the day while we ate some dinner together.

Wednesday (4.6.16)
Today we were up bright and early to get to the Heidelberg Zone Interviews! The last two days were a great blessing to me. It was so wonderful returning to two zones where I served as zone leader back to back! Heidelberg is a great place and there are great missionaries in this zone! 

Some of the missionaries I love so much!

The schedule for the interviews today would have gone long as well but President Maxwell had another appointment so we finished by about 4:30 pm. It was a great day because Elder Eyring and I truly love being with the missionaries and trying to boost their spirits by helping them recognize how much the Lord is involved in the details of HIS work……..missionary work!!! Because time was short, we ended up going to President Maxwell’s appointment with him. After we finished with his appointment we all went out to dinner. We went to a really great restaurant called the Eating House and it was really good! I love going places with the Maxwells because it really does feel like the little Steele family is back together again and we go to the same kind of restaurants here in Australia that we go to back home.

Thursday (4.7.16)
Today was a really good day but it ended up being really long.  We drove to the other side of the city to Wyndham Zone to do interviews! I had never been to this zone before so it was a first for me! It was really great because you know me…….I love to see new things!  The awesome thing is that the Wyndham Zone is basically just the same as all the other zones in the wonderful Australia Melbourne mission…… there is a GREAT feeling here and I knew that there are people that live here that NEED the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.

We were able to talk and role play some lessons on how to teach with all the missionaries while they are waiting for their interviews with President Maxwell. It was really uplifting to see them practice and then makes changes based on the feedback that Elder Eyring and I gave them after their first time! With some of the missionaries we saw that when they did their second set of role plays that the Spirit witnessed to them very strongly that this was how they were SUPPOSED to be teaching! I love how with missionary work the missionary is NOTHING!!! It is all based upon the Spirit! I have found if the Spirit is not present we might as well not be there either! 

I have come to learn the challenge in life is to find ways that we can "Always have His Spirit to be with us" It is our life journey and I know that is why we hear it EVERY Sunday when we partake of the sacrament. Then after we drove the Maxwells home, we went to pick up an Elder that was going home. We drove to pick him up and take his companion to his new area! Then all three of us made our journey back to the mission home around 10:00 pm and we all slept there for the night! I love sleeping at the mission home! It is so warm, comfortable and homey!

A sleepover at the mission home! 

Friday (4.8.16)
We started the day by going to the airport to drop off Elder Kuo. He is on his way back to Taiwan. I will miss him a lot but I know he will be in good hands back in his branch in Taiwan. 

Goodbye to Elder Kuo at the airport. I love him and I will miss him!

After that we were off to Narre Warren Zone interviews! It was really good to be with my own Zone today. I feel bad that this is the first time I have been with my very own Zone the whole time I have been an AP. There are really great missionaries in the Narre Warren Zone and it was an awesome day! We finished about 5:00 pm and went straight to a lesson we had scheduled with the Danielson family. I love being able spend time with families! Elder Eyring and I really love the Danielson’s. They are a great family and we are really close to them. We were able to give the dad, Brother Danielson, a blessing tonight. It was an honor to give him a priesthood blessing and I was so grateful that he trusted us enough to ask us for a blessing. After meeting with the Danielson's, we finished up our night by going back to the mission home and discussing some possible transfer moves and what we can do for our upcoming MLC (Mission Leadership Council – a monthly meeting with the Mission President and his wife, Assistants to the President, Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders.)

Saturday (4.9.16)
Today was the day all of Australia gets to listen to the Saturday session of General Conference! It was weird to think this was the last conference on my mission. Today turned out to be a very crazy day with a HUGE miracle!!!  Elder Eyring and I went to watch conference at the Maroondah chapel with President and Sister Maxwell. However, before we left the flat as I was backing Elder Eyring out of the driveway, (one missionary always stands outside the vehicle and guides the missionary doing the driving when they put the vehicle in reverse and back out) I noticed that my scripture case and Elder Eyring’s bag were no longer in the boot (trunk) of the van.. SO we stopped the car and we went and looked in the boot... NOTHING... Looked in the flat... NOTHING.  Sadly, we came to the conclusion that they had been stolen the night before from our van. To be honest I was GUTTED!!! My scripture case had my missionary scriptures in it, one of my study notebooks that I have used since January, AND the PREACH MY GOSPEL manual I have used my whole mission!

I remember just sitting in the car as we drove to the mission home in unbelief!!! In a split second my most VALUABLE and SACRED possessions were now gone.  I was so thankful for all the talks in the three sessions of conference! I knew Heavenly Father was aware of my sorrow and the talks in conference were so wonderful and helped me to feel a little bit better but it didn’t take away all my sadness over losing my precious scriptures. President Maxwell was really kind and he gave Elder Eyring and I two journals that we could use to take notes in during conference.

However, Elder Eyring and I weren’t ready to give up just yet. On Saturday night, after the Priesthood Session of conference we decided to go out on a hunt! We said some prayers for guidance and we walked all the way down our street and the next busiest street checking EVERY dumpster and rubbish bin on the street and we found NOTHING!! It wasn’t until we went back to our street as we were walking back to our flat that we saw my scripture case and Elder Eyring’s bag way in the back on the top of this mailbox thing! We were overjoyed when we say them….it was a true miracle!  However, when we opened them we found that NOTHING was inside either of them.

So we took them back to the flat and we said another prayer! We knew that if Heavenly Father wanted us to have them we would get them back! So we went back to where we found our bags and we started tearing up up the dumpster! And BAM we FOUND EVERYTHING!! Sure they all got a bit stinky and sticky but we did not care at all!!! Heavenly Father is amazing and He always provides a way! We came to the conclusion the van was unlocked that night and a druggie or someone not very well off came and looked in the van and thought our bags were computers and things of material value, then when they saw what was inside them they dumped them and went on to the other cars!! Little did they know that what they so carelessly threw away was worth more than anything they could imagine. I testify the Lord protects and provides for His missionaries.

 A dumpster miracle!!!!!

Sunday (4.10.16)
It was another great day of General Conference but it was a sad day for me as well...It was all over! I had just finished the last Conference on my mission. I got so much out of both days of conference and it was just super amazing! When conference was over we went to the mission office to do some work to prepare a bit for our upcoming MLC (Mission Leadership Council). When we finished at the office we drove to Footscray to interview two missionaries that had missed their interview due to the tight time schedule when we were in the Heidelberg Zone on Wednesday.

I am learning so much from the Maxwells and it is truly amazing to be with them almost every day! I am just trying to be a sponge and just soak in EVERYTHING that is coming my way as a representative of Jesus Christ! I feel so blessed to have this opportunity!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Another Great Week FULL of Interviews

Monday (3.28.16)
Today was a super busy day in the office. But we were so excited for our lunch today! It was with the office staff and the Latteiers. Sister Latteier cooked Vietnamese food or all of us and it was GREAT!! I have missed being with her and her amazing cooking talents so it was a wonderful lunch! (The Latteirs are a wonderful senior couple who worked with Tag when he was in the city branch for eight months)

The best mission office staff in the world! Sister Latteier is standing to the right of President Maxwell. I have LOVED serving with the Latteiers!

After lunch, it was time to prepare for our 2.5 hour journey up to the Australian Bush to an awesome place called Shepparton. We arrived around 8:00 pm and we went out for dinner to KFC. I am glad President and Sister Maxwell love KFC as much as Elder Eyring and I do! After dinner we went to our hotel and Elder Eyring and I made some calls to missionaries in the Wangaratta zone and prepared for the interviews in the morning. It was a great day and we are looking forward to meeting with awesome missionaries tomorrow!

We loved staying in Shepparton!

Interviews with the Elders and Sisters in the Wangaratta Zone were on the schedule all day today! To give you an idea about the geographics of this zone some of the missionaries had to drive about three hours to the meetings! They are spread out geographically so it is good when they can get together with other missionaries. We really enjoyed talking with them about their areas and hearing how they are doing setting baptismal dates. Around noon, Elder Eyring and I ran to Subway and grabbed lunch for all of the missionaries. 

Missionaries love Subway for lunch!
Our interviews went from 9:00 am to about 6:00 pm so it was a long day but a GREAT day! Before we started the long drive back to Melbourne, Elder Eyring and I walked around a beautiful lake with President and Sister Maxwell.

Wednesday (3.30.16)
Another great day of interviews! This time we were in the Gippsland Zone.

Elder Eyring and I love visiting the Gippsland Zone!

It was so wonderful to be back in my old Zone. I was serving in the Gippsland Zone as a Zone Leader with Elder Kim when I was transferred last month.  It was great being able to see all the Elders and Sisters again and follow up with  the investigators we were working with back when I was in my beloved Cranbourne! During the middle of the interviews, the Linders (a senior couple) brought us a new Elder who is going to Visa wait in our mission until his Brazil Visa arrives. His name is Elder Mafi. He is a professional Rugby player from Sydney. It was really cool getting to know him while we ate lunch.

Elder Erying, Elder Mafi and I. Too bad there wasn't time for a Rugby lesson!

After lunch it was back to the interviews. Our interviews finished around 5:00 pm and after that we went back to the office to talk with President until about 6:45 pm. When we were done with President Maxwell we had to hurry over to an appointment we had set up to meet with the Kumarnasamys:) So we were able to finish the night at their house eating delicious curry and sharing a lesson of missionary work! Both Elder Eyring and I felt so great to be able to teach a lesson again:) 

Thursday (3.31.16)
We started this morning out early! We met at the mission home around 7:30 in the morning so we could make it out to our Zone Interviews in Deer Park! It was great being with the missionaries in the Zone! I know I say that every day but it is true every day! The missionaries in the Australia Melbourne Mission are the best!!!  

It was a day full of interviews. We started at 9:00 am and finished up about 6:30 pm. Elder Eyring and I were able to do some good work role playing and training the missionaries as they waited for their interviews with President. We all got excited about missionary work as we met together! After interviews were finished we went back home to the mission home around 8:00 pm. We ate a fabulous Mexican take out dinner with the Maxwells while we discussed some transfer possibilities. 

Cheers to missionary work!
Friday (4.1.16)
Today was a most wonderful day because we spent the entire day IN THE CITY BRANCH!!! It was sooooo awesome! I love being in the city! I was blessed to serve in the city for eight months at the beginning of my mission. Today was so great for me to walk around the city and remember all the great memories again! It was a special honor to be with the Chinese Zone and conduct role plays with these very humble recent convert missionaries. However, it was a very long interview day. I’m not sure why it went so much slower……maybe it was the language barrier...ha ha! We finally finished around 8:00 pm. I absolutely love being with the Maxwells….no matter what we are doing….interviews, meetings, church….everything!

After our long day of interviews the Maxwells took us to an Italian sit down restaurant and it really struck me as funny that it was a Friday night and we were just out to eat the President of the mission and his amazing wife and it was totally normal! I realized again how truly blessed I am to spend so much time with the Maxwells.

Saturday (4.2.16)
This was the day we were finally able to dig in and clean our flat! It has just been such a NASTY ever since I moved in but we have been so swamped we didn’t have time to work on it. Finally we couldn’t stand it anymore and with a lot of hard work we were able to get it clean!! To give you an idea of how bad it was it took about four hours and we even had two other elders helping us. They had the privilege of helping us clean because they had left a flat messy when they left their old areas. So they got to help us! We were really grateful for their help. It would have taken a lot longer without them.

Making a quick dumpster run!

After we finished with the heavy cleaning it was time for a quick shower and then off to President’s house to talk more about upcoming events in the mission and what we can do to better help the mission. Then we were able to go to the Danielson’s for dinner and a lesson with their family. :) 

Sunday (4.3.16)
We were able to go to church and it was fast Sunday #20!!!! After church we went to Toko's house and we were able to see a MIRACLE!! While we were there we found out that Elizabeth (the 8 year old niece and granddaughter) has been given permission from her father to be BAPTIZED!!!! We were able to set a baptismal date with her for the 16th of April!! Now the only concern is getting her mother’s permission. It was such a miracle and an answer to my fasting and prayers! Now we just have to hope and pray that all will go well with the conversation with her mother!

After that we stopped by the office to finish some administrative work. When we were done at the office we were invited for dumplings with some Chinese members! It was really fun to be with some members of the Melbourne 1st branch. We loved the dumplings and we had a great night with them!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Furthering the work in Tasmania!

Monday (3.21.16)
Today started off with our regular weekly meeting in the mission office. After that we had to run some errands in preparation for our visit to Tasmania later today. Then around 4:00 pm it was off to the Airport! It was really quite strange riding in an airplane again. I always thought the next time I was going to ride in an Airplane would be on my trip back home to Utah. However, the flight to Tasmania is pretty short and I am pretty sure that home is not just an hour away! :)  

Flying to Tasmania...I love my companion Elder Eyring, we are having a wonderful time!

It was really fun to be able to travel with Elder Eyring and President and Sister Maxwell:) We got to Tazzy  around 9:00 pm and it was off to our hotel:) 

Our temporary home in Tasmania!

Just two missionaries pondering the meaning of life!

Tuesday (3.22.16)
We got an early start to our interviews with the missionaries in Tasmania but before we left we enjoyed a bit of breakfast at the hotel! Tasmania is so extremely beautiful!!!! The chapel is perched on a hill and it overlooks a bit of a bridge that spans an outlet to the ocean. 

Beautiful view from chapel in Tasmania

During interviews, Elder Eyring and I do role plays with each companionship in the zone and we help train the missionaries on their skills and help them gain confidence. We also had a long discussion with an Elder who was deciding to go home. Thankfully after talking with him for an hour we were able to help him gain the desire to keep going and stay out on the mission! Following the interviews we had a little bit of time to go explore Tasmania with the Maxwells. First, we went to a place called Wellington Point. It is a look out on the top of a mountain and the views were incredible. 

The  amazing view at Point Wellington with three of my favorite people, President and Sister Maxwell and my companion, Elder Eyring.

After that we went into the harbor for dinner at a steak place called the Ball and Chain! It was an amazing restaurant and I got a MASSIVE steak! :)

Now this is a true Outback Steak! It was 17 ounces and I enjoyed every bite!

Wednesday (3.23.16)
We were scheduled to be in Tasmania for about 3/4 of the day today. Our flight didn’t leave until about 5:30 so we were able to go out sight seeing again! First thing in the morning we drove out to a beautiful place down by the sea. It was wonderful to be down by the water again and to be with President and Sister Maxwell and Elder Eyring.

Tasmania is beautiful!

Then we drove about 90 minutes to a place called Port Arthur. This was used as a prison from 1833 until 1853. It was very interesting to learn about the history of it. The hardest of the British convicts were imprisoned here because it was thought to be escape proof, similar to Alcatraz in the United States.  

Wednesday (3.23.16)
Port Arthur, the famous prison, glad I'm just a visitor and not a resident!

The prison at Port Arthur practiced solitary confinement even in church...what? How do they expect missionaries to spread the gospel?

We also went on a boat tour to see some islands that are also connected to the Port Arthur convict camp! 

Boat tour of Port Arthur

Then on the way back Sister Maxwell wanted Elder Eyring and I to have the chance to go to a petting and feeding zoo! She is so awesome… we were driving past it she kindly said, "President, please pull over." She ran in and found out the KANGAROO feeding was going to happen in about five minutes! Even though it was only about 2 1/2 hours till our flight she still wanted her assistants to be able to do have the experience of seeing and feeding kangaroos. I am so grateful she found a way for us to have the experience because IT WAS SOOOO AWESOME!!!!! :) I cannot wait to take you back here so we can all do it together! 

My first experience feeding a kangaroo! It was incredible, but I can't believe I got photo bombed!  I guess it's payback for all the photo bombing I've done!

Eye to Eye with a Kangaroo!

After that, it was time to head to the airport for flight back home. We stopped for some KFC on the drive home because we needed to have a meeting about some transfer issues. It was a great day but a long one!

Thursday (3.24.16)
We had Zone interviews scheduled in Braeside today and it was basically the same format as the interviews in Tasmania. It is really good to be able to get to know the Elders and Sisters on a more personal level and Elder Eyring and I enjoy our time working with them. Following the Zone Interviews we went back to the office to finish some of our duties like checking phone records and planning and revising trainings.  After that we were off to visit at Toko's house. Elder Eyring and I were overjoyed to be able to teach our first lesson of the week! We taught about Temples and what a blessing they are to our lives. It was awesome because we could feel their excitement about going to the temple again:)

Friday (3.25.16)
Today was Zone interviews in Cragieburn. I really love visiting missionaries! It is great to go to so many different areas! :) The schedule for Zone Interviews usually takes about 3/4th of the day! We arrive at 9:00 am and we don’t leave until about 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm depending on how many Elders and Sisters are in the zone. Today interviews ended around 4:00 pm and then Elder Eyring and I were dropped off at the train station so we could do a baptismal interview in the CITY BRANCH!!! 

Happy to be back on the train to the City!

It was so amazing to be back in the branch I love so much (I spent about eight wonderful months in the branch) and see some of the members there! :) It was also really nice to GQ a bit and take the train home! We took the train to the Glen Waverly station then we had some Elders pick us up there and take we us to the mission home! We are pretty much at the mission home ALL THE TIME! It is like our second home! :) I love being there with President and Sister Maxwell! Then we spent about two hours helping Sister Maxwell prepare for an Easter Devotional that we are putting on and trying to fix the computer and wifi at the mission home! 

Saturday (3.26.16)
Elder Eyring and I had a meeting with President Maxwell early in afternoon. After that we went to the Heidelberg Stake Center to figure out all the tech stuff for our Devotional on Easter Sunday. It was a crazy afternoon and evening because we forgot one of the cords we needed and so we had to run back to the mission home to get it. When we got the cord we thought we were good to go tech wise but then things stopped working!  We spent about four hours trouble shooting and finally figured out that our cable had a short and that was the main reason for all of our troubles! 

After all that tech craziness we were blessed to attend a baptism with the Chinese missionaries and that is where I saw Tina and the girls!  It was a tender mercy and a MIRACLE for me to see them! (Tag taught Tina in Doncaster and he loves her family very much!) 

So excited to see Tina and the girls!

After the baptism we went to the office to work on transfers for a bit and went back to the chapel for the final test of the devotional technology and thankfully it passed! Everything worked and it was great! Then we came back home and did some more transfer moves and we finally were able to work everything out by about 10:30! Then it was time to go home and get some sleep to start another day!

Sunday (3.27.16)
Happy Easter! We went to church this morning and Toko invited us for lunch! Following the wonderful Easter lunch we went to the mission home to meet with President and go to our Devotional. It was a great night! There were about 200 people who attended and I was asked to conduct the meeting! There was a bit of excitement because during the meeting I saw this girl that I thought was really feeling the spirit! Then as the devotional ended we came to the conclusion that A) it was probably the spirit but B) she was having trouble breathing and so we had to call an ambulance!

It was still a really great night. Elder Eyring and I projected lots of pictures as people were singing and we all felt the Spirit! Then we drove home and Sister Maxwell surprised us with an Easter Roast!  It is a tradition in their home and we loved it. 

 Sister Maxwell gave us a roast pan full of candy for our Easter present. Elder Eyring and I love their family tradition!

Both Elder Eyring and I are so happy the Maxwells love missionaries so much! It is such a blessing to me to spend so much time with the Maxwells! I am learning many important things by observing how they work and interact with each other!