Sunday, July 31, 2016

Another Trip to Beautiful Tasmania!

Monday (5.16.16)
We went to the airport at the crack of dawn to drop off the Maxwells so they could go to the Mission President’s Devotional in Brisbane. After Elder Eyring and I finished dropping them at the airport we went back to the Mission Home to take a quick power nap and do our studies. Then it was off to the Chinese Zone P-day at the Fairfield Chapel. We had a great time participating with them in a sports activity and BBQ. It is really fun when you get a bunch of Elders and Sisters together. The missionaries in the Australia Melbourne mission are the BEST!  We love Zone P-Days!  After we showered and got ready we went to teach our new investigator, Aaron. He is doing really good!  However, he and his wife have some things to work out about religion. He is ready to be baptized and he loves the Gospel, but he really wants to be baptized with his wife and have the goal of baptism together. I can certainly understand what he is feeling because the Gospel brings happiness to everyone! We are going to pray and fast extra hard for them this week!

Tuesday (5.17.16)
We went to the Springvale District meeting this morning and it was GREAT! The District Leader is a Vietnamese Elder and he is an absolutely stellar missionary! Then it was off to the train station to drop off the Sisters after the District meeting. We love to spend time chatting with missionaries as we are shuttling them to and from the train station. It is a good chance for us to hear the things they are encountering as they are striving valiantly to serve the Lord. 

Missionary Uber Drivers....tipping strictly optional!

After we finished at the train station, we decided to stop by the mission office for a quick visit to say hello to the best office missionaries in the world! It was a good thing we came by because there were some urgent car duties we needed to help Elder Gourlie with. So we quickly shifted our schedule because our quick one hour visit to the office somehow turned into five hours!  We had to jump a battery in one of the mission cars and things went just a little bit crazy when it started smoking!!!  We had a great time talking with Elder Gourlie while we went to some car dealerships and helped find a master panel with him. Elder Erying and I always learn so much when we are with Elder Gourlie. 

Missionary mechanics to the rescue!

It was a great day but such crazy and unexpected things came up! You never know what your day will be like as an Assistant to the President. But I love being flexible and doing what the Lord needs us to do! We finished the night by going over to the Requelmaes for a dinner! We had a great lesson with them on the importance of being an example. They are doing such great member missionary work! We loved going over the goals they had set. They are such a wonderful family and it is so helpful to missionaries when members get involved. Everybody who reads this….please help the missionaries by praying about who you can introduce the missionaries to. The missionaries will love you and so will your friends that you share the Gospel with! 

Wednesday (5.18.16)
Because we were busy with mission stuff we weren’t able to attend the temple on our regular temple day so we were able to join with the Chinese Zone this morning on their temple day! IT WAS SOOO AMAZING!!! :) I LOVE THE TEMPLE. We are so blessed to be able to go to the temple as missionaries!  Even though I will miss the Australia Melbourne Mission more than I can even say, one of the things that I look forward to when I go home is being able to go to the temple more often. The Temple is TRULY a blessing to us! Those of you with a temple close by…..try and take full advantage of it. You will learn so much and grow so close to Heavenly Father as you take the time to visit His house.

Later in the day we went on an exchange with the Craigieburn Zone Leaders! It was really great, these men are fabulous missionaries. Elder Eyring and I love doing exchanges because as assistants this is really how we are able to do missionary work! It happens when we go on exchanges! IT IS THE BEST!!! 

There is always something to smile about in the missionary mini van!

We planned this exchange to coincide with picking up the Maxwells from the airport. The Craigieburn area is the closest one to the airport. We picked the Maxwells up around 8:00 pm and then we drove them home. But of course we had to stop and get a bite to eat at Maccas (McDonalds) before we made the trip back home. We had planned to eat together tonight because tomorrow we are starting our mission wide fast.

We are trying something different with our mission wide fast this time. I had the idea that instead of doing a one and done day of fasting we would have the missionaries in our different zones fast over the course of ten days. That way there would be continual fasting for the Australia Melbourne Mission.  We KNOW the Lord will bless our mission with lots of miracles!

Thursday (5.19.16)
We came into the office this morning for a meeting with President and Sister Maxwell and the office staff! We love meeting with these amazing people. After the meeting we had lots of stuff to do because we are going to Tasmania tomorrow! We are trying to bust through a new Guideline book that will help the missionaries a lot. We also had an important milestone today. We did a Mission wide conference call to all the missionaries for the first time ever in the Australia Melbourne Mission! We are just trying to do a lot of things that have never happened before! The Lord is really blessing us with inspiration to try to help and motivate the missionaries to move onward and upward as a mission. After our day was finished we stayed at the mission home to prepare for our early flight to Tasmania in the morning! 

Friday (5.20.16)
This was an amazing day! We flew into Tasmania bright and early this morning.

Off to Tazzy! 

First on the agenda was a trip to a place called Cradle Mountain. It was the best day trip ever because the scenery was spectacular! Get ready for picture overload! 

After we made our way down from Cradle Mountain we went to a GREAT restaurant called Still Water! On this trip to Tasmania we stayed at a different hotel than we usually do. It is called the Penny Royal and it is really cool! 

Loved the hotel! It was decorated in vintage Nacho Libre....he was also a man of the cloth! The only difference is I LOVE my duties!

Saturday (5.21.16)
We were up bright and early this morning and started the day by visiting an amazing place called Christmas Hills Raspberry Farms for breakfast. Check out these raspberry waffles! If you can believe it they tasted even better than they looked!

After that unbelievable breakfast we went to a wild life reserve called Trowunna. 

We were able to feed kangaroos, pet Wombats and watch Tasmanian Devils! Elder Eyring and I can't even believe how good the Maxwells are to us. We are TRULY blessed by their love and service to us!

A Tasmanian Devil....with devil in its name you can't expect it to be cute!

The wombat tried to smooch me!

After we finished looking at the amazing wildlife we went to our hotel in Hobart. It was about a three hour drive from Launceston to Hobart and we got there a little early to prepare for our first  devotional! It went really well and I was honored to be able to conduct the meeting. During the Devotional Elder Eyring and I sang "Saviour Redeemer of My Soul".  We were definitely blessed because our song went very well. After we were done with the devotional, we had a wonderful time greeting and talking with all the amazing people who came. We finished up about 9:30 pm and we were STARVING! So we went to the Ball and Chain and got our steaks! We went there the last time we were in Tasmania and I have been dreaming about their steaks!

Sunday (5.22.16)
Today was a wonderful day. We started out by going to church in Rosny, at the beautiful chapel that over looks the river.  After church we made the long drive back up to Launceston for the second devotional that was happening tonight! We made a short pit stop back at our hotel, the, Penny Royal, to freshen up and take a bit of a nap. After our power nap, we woke up refreshed and ready for Round 2! We were thrilled with the GREAT turn out for our second devotional. There were about 150 people and about a quarter of them were not members! Elder Eyring and I also sang again at the devotional. It was truly an amazing day and one I will never forget!

Monday (5.23.16)

We woke up early in the morning so we could have a yummy breakfast at the Still Water restaurant again:) We had this really cool hot chocolate and it was the best I have ever tasted. Then we went to a place called Cataract Gorge. 

So nice to enjoy such a beautiful place with people I love so much! I can't think of anyone else I would rather be with in Australia than the Maxwells and Elder Eyring!

I now have the honor of saying I have ridden the world’s longest single chairlift span! It was GREAT going up! 

However, on the way back down the mountain.. it started to RAIN!! There was absolutely nothing we could do but wait it out and get soaked!

After that it was back to the airport for our flight to the mainland. Our flight was really delayed but airport delays never bother me because it is a great opportunity to talk to lots of different people about the Gospel. Take note frequent travelers who are reading this……ha ha!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Great Week with Office Work, Golden Review and Baptisms!

Monday (5.9.16)
After our office meeting today we were able to play basketball for a couple of hours. It was a blast and gave Elder Eyring and I some much needed physical exercise. After we finished our basketball game much needed haircuts were on the agenda!  We got our hair cut at a place called Phresh. It is a barbershop owned by some members of the church. It is a great place because most of their clientele are Islanders! We love to go to the shop and visit with all the great people getting their hair cut too. The best thing of all though is they love missionaries and they cut missionaries hair for free! Another reason Elder Eyring and I love getting our hair cut at Phresh is they are so creative that EVERY time I go there they cut my hair a bit differently but it always looks great! After our haircuts we raced home to shower and then we met with President Maxwell for the rest of the night.

Tuesday (5.10.16)
Today was a great day because we were able to go back into the city for a city district meeting! It was great to be back and it was a blast from the past to be back in the District where I was blessed to serve as a District Leader. It was a great meeting and as a huge bonus we were able to spend some time with two of our amazing new Goldens (new missionaries are known as goldens not greenies in the Australia Melbourne Mission!)  Because both Elder Erying and I were privileged to serve in the city for so long we tend to find ourselves gravitating to the city. Don’t get me wrong, as Assistants to the President we both LOVE and revere all the areas in the Australia Melbourne Mission but we both have a soft spot in our hearts for the City. 

View of Melbourne City...I love it!

Following the District Meeting we got a call from President asking if we would be able to drive to Shepparton with him and Sister Maxwell. We love to spend every minute we can with the Maxwells so we jumped at the chance to go on a long drive with them. So we raced back to the office and we finished up some last minutes things and then it was off to the mission home to meet the Maxwells for the long drive to Shepparton. President Maxwell was going up there to set apart a missionary who was leaving the following day from the Shepparton District. We had a great time driving up there and we were able to talk about the new Guideline books that we are working on. After we were finished, we listened to conference talks all the way home! Since we all love listening to conference talks it was a great way to end the night.

Wednesday (5.11.16)
Golden Review day today! This is when all of the Goldens (brand new missionaries in the Australia Melbourne Mission) and their trainers come to the office to meet with President and Sister Maxwell and the APs. It is a great day because we reveiw and test them on the commitments that we gave them on the very first day they arrived in the mission. We also give them some trainings and they give some  practice trainings too! These are outstanding missionaries and it is truly great to be able to be with all of them! However, because we have so much to cover it always ends up being a SUPER long meeting. Today it went from about 1:30 to 5:30 pm. After the Golden Review, Elder Eyring and I got caught up on some office work. 

Elder Eyring and I found a map of our mission area in KFC!

When we were finished our office responsibilities, the Maxwells invited us to come to the mission home and share some dessert with Albury Elders and them. The Albury Elders are are staying at the mission home temporarily. Dessert was delicious and spending time with the Maxwells was wonderful. I know I say this all the time but I LOVE to be with the Maxwells. I have learned so much about Christlike love and devotion from them.

Thursday (5.12.16)
Elder Eyring and I went into the city again today to meet with the Chinese District Leader Council. It was great being with these faithful and amazing Elders and Sisters!  We had a wonderful meeting as we all discussed how we can achieve our goals and how we can continue to build upon and increase the faith the Australia Melbourne Mission already has. It was heart warming to hear a Chinese missionary comment to Elder Eyring and I, "Ever since you two have been together as APs the mission has really picked up and the Chinese missionaries are seeing an increase of faith which is bringing an increase of success!” We thought that was really kind of him to say but both Elder Eyring and I know it isn’t from us. Heavenly Father is blessing the Australia Melbourne Mission as we all work together to be 100% obedient.

Following the meeting, Elder Eyring and I took the Chinese Zone Leaders, Elder Lee and Elder Deng, to a spicy Chinese restaurant called Flaming Temptation. We laughed about four missionaries in a restaurant with that name..ha ha! It lived up to its name. We had the spiciest noodles I HAVE EVER EATEN!! We were all just sitting there sweating together as we ate those flaming spicy noodles! It was great though! 

Smiles before the flames!

After lunch, Elder Eyring and I were able to GQ in the City the rest of the day! First we started out  GQing (GQing is street contacting near large public areas in Melbourne where they ask “golden questions (GQs) …usually Tag GQs at the public library in Melbourne. He loves to GQ!) with the Chinese Zone Leaders. Next we grabbed the City English speaking Elders and the Golden Elder Chen and we finished up with the awesome City Sisters! 
IT WAS AMAZING TO BE BACK IN THE CITY!!!! :) I was blessed to have a wonderful conversation with a man I met while GQing. His name was Song and he has been investigating the church on and off for about three years. He told me he had regularly attended church at the branch in China!!! He was so prepared to hear the gospel again however, he was leaving to go back to China tomorrow! I was so glad I was able to talk with him for a while and replant that seed and the excitement of the Gospel back into his heart. He told me he would go back to the church in China and talk about meeting me in downtown Melbourne! I have so much respect and love for the Chinese saints. They are truly modern pioneers!

After our wonderful afternoon of GQing we raced back to Pakenham and had dinner at the Gourlies, Elder Eyring and I love the Gourlies! They are a senior missionary couple who work in the office and take care of all the issues with cars. We have gotten really close to them and it was great to be with them in their home. They fed us a yummy dinner and we shared a message with them!

We call Elder Gourlie the "Mad Hatter" because he has so many cool hats!

Friday (5.13.16)
We went to the Narre Warren District Leader Council today. This is the District Elder Eyring and I are in now so it was great to be with them. We got some really exciting news during the meeting. We found out a family of nine is going to be baptized in the Samoan Ward on the 28th of May! Wow! The Lord is really blessing the mission. After the meeting we spent most of the day in the office doing office work. This week has really been heavy on work in the office. It is necessary because we are trying to get everything prepared for the Vidmars (the new mission president taking over for President Maxwell) arrival on July 1st. After we finished with our office work we met with President Maxwell. Sister Maxwell invited us to have dinner with her, President, and the Albury Elders. It was really fun because we made home made pizzas!  It was good to be able to spend time with Maxwells and the Albury Elders! :) 

Saturday (5.14.16)
Today was wonderful because we had Baptisms to go to! As a mission we had nine baptisms this week. Statistically speaking, that puts us at 18 baptisms for the month and 130 baptisms for the year. We are starting to see an increase of success in the mission. But don’t get me wrong….people aren’t statistics and most importantly those numbers represent 130 people who now have the joy of the Gospel in their lives!  

We started out the day by joining the Lynnbrook area’s baptism. It was incredible because this was the first baptism in this area in over two years!  While we were waiting for the baptism to start, we were able to give a chapel tour to an investigator while the Elders were running around doing last minute things to prepare for the baptism. After that it was off to the Hampton Park area's baptism! It was so wonderful to see a Less Active Part-Member family come together and witness the baptism of their daughter! We finished up the day at Toko's house. We had a great lesson with them and taught Norirora and Elizabeth about Faith and why it is so important. 

Saying goodbye to the great Elder Lavaka! On his way to serve in the Philippines!

Sunday (5.15.16)
It was a great Sabbath Day! Elizabeth came to church and that made us so happy. She seemed to enjoy it and stayed for the entire three hour block and got to know some more members of the ward. After our own church was over, we were able to go to the Doncaster Ward. So you might be asking yourself ……. “Hmmm, why would Tag go to another ward after just getting finished with his own?” Well, let me tell you…..I  got a call from John Rouche (Tag baptized John when he was serving in Doncaster and dearly loves him!) asking if I would be able to go to his ward after my church got over to give him the Melchizedek Priesthood!!!! I was SO happy! It was amazing to see him John and participate in the sacred ordinance of his advancement in the Priesthood! John is so happy and doing well!  

John Rouche received the Melchizedek Priesthood!

It was also touching to me to see how excited the ward was when I was able to meet with them again! It is amazing to see the people you love so much when you have been gone and the impact that you make when you are blessed  to come back and see them. I love the Doncaster Ward so much and it was heartwarming to be with them. They said I was a great impact on their ward but I told them THEY had the greatest impact on me as a young missionary!

After we left Doncaster, we raced off to two other baptisms on both the East and West sides of the mission! We finished up the day with dinner with President and Sister Maxwell and after dinner we ran back to our flat to get our stuff because we had to spend the night with the Maxwells at the mission home. We stayed with them because they had an 8:00 am flight to catch and we had to leave by 5:30 am to get them to the airport on time. Elder Eyring and I always love staying at the mission home, so it was really nice to be able to sleep there tonight and then drive them this morning!  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Our Last Mother's Day Skype!

Monday (5.2.16)
We had our regular Monday morning mission office staff meeting and after that we raced off to our flat to pack our bags because we got to sleep over at the mission home this evening. Later in the afternoon, we went to the airport to pick up the Elders and Sisters who were coming up from Tasmania to attend MLC (Mission Leadership Council – a monthly leadership meeting with all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders), After we picked them we found out the Elders were starving and so it was KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) to the rescue! They all loved it and we did too! 

KFC is the cure for everything!

After we dropped them off we had to buckle down and finish our preparation for the MLC training Elder Eyring and I were planning to do.

Tuesday (5.3.16)
We had to go and say goodbye to Brother and Sister Latteiers in the very early hours of the morning. It was really hard to say goodbye to such a wonderful senior missionary couple that I love so much!  I remember when they first came into the branch... and now they are on their way home! They did such amazing work in the City Branch and everyone is broken hearted to see them go.  

So hard to say goodbye to the Latteiers! I love them so much!

After we dried our tears from saying goodbye to them, it was time to race back to the Mission home to start MLC. It was probably one of the best MLCs that I have EVER attended!  All the Mission Leaders (Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders) were really excited and felt really, really REALLY motivated to go out and inspire and uplift their zones! As a leadership group, we have decided the Australia Melbourne Mission will do a 10 day mission fast.  We are striving to hit the goal of 260 baptisms Elder Halleck set for us. Through our faith and the help of the Lord I know we can do it! After MLC we journeyed back to the Airport to drop off the Tazzy (Tasmania) missionaries for their return flight home! Then we went back to the mission home and made a trip to the chemist (pharmacy) for the Maxwells. We love helping the Maxwells with anything they need. They are so good to us and Elder Eyring and I love them SO much!

Wednesday (5.4.16)
We went to the Braeside Zone Meeting today. We love going to the different Zone meetings shortly after MLC (Mission Leadership Council) it is exciting to see what the Zone Leaders take away from MLC. It is also a bonus to be able to see all of the missionaries that we love so much. We were uplifted and motivated and the Zone seemed really happy about the new things that are being implemented into the mission! Following the Zone Meeting, we went on a Golden (Goldens are new missionaries in the Australia Melbourne mission) and Zone Leader Exchange back in Doncaster! It was SO awesome to be back in the area that I served in and that I love! I went with Elder Maumau. He is from Tuvalu. He is a great missionary with a lot of drive to spread the gospel and teach people about Christ. I love the Golden Fire that these missionaries bring into the mission. They are so fired up and they want to learn to be amazing missionaries. It was a wonderful day as Elder Maumau and I were able to follow up with some people I taught when I served here in Doncaster. We were also blessed to able to set up some appointments for the Elders for the upcoming week! I love to help missionaries fill their schedules with people to teach! After our time in Doncaster we went back to the mission home to meet with President Maxwell. After our meeting with him we were able to have a great dinner with Sister Bennet and Sister Tehahe. Sister Tehahe is making her journey home tomorrow. It was great to laugh and be with them, they are great sister missionaries!

Saying goodbye to Sister Tehahe. We will miss her!

Thursday (5.5.16)
Today we started out at the Craigieburn Zone meeting and it was great as well! This is the smallest zone in the Australia Melbourne Mission and there are only 14 missionaries total! It was awesome to see the inspiration and revelation the Zone Leaders received from our recent MLC. After the meeting I was able to call my family to set up the time for our Mother’s Day Skype. I loved talking with them while Elder Eyring and I were driving back to our meeting at the office! Even though it was really short, hearing all of their voices really put me on cloud nine for the rest of the day! After we got back to the office we jumped right in to continue our preparation for the Vidmars to take over as the new Mission President when the Maxwells go home on July 1st. Elder Eyring and I worked really hard on some reports that we need to have for  President Vidmar. Really, that is what the whole week has been like! We are just working really hard and doing everything necessary to cleanse the office and preparing it for the Vidmar’s arrival. We used President Maxwell’s car today and so after we were done we took it to be vacuumed and washed. We wanted it to be perfect when we gave it back to him. After we were through car washing, we raced back to the Mission Home to pick up our (the APs) van to go to dinner at the Goodalls!  It was AMAZING to be back home with them! They are doing so good as a family and Leigh was also happy to see us! I absolutely love the Goodall family! 

 I love Sister Goodall! She makes me happy!

 Wonderful company and wonderful conversation!

Wow! Sister Goodall prepared an amazing feast! 
Kangaroo filet with beetroot and orange salad and duck fat roasted potatoes. Everything was delicious!

Friday (5.6.16)
We went to the Deer Park zone meeting this morning and WOW it was amazing! You could really tell the Zone Leaders had been VERY prayerful on what they were going to train and discuss with the missionaries in their zone. Both of the Zone Leaders have been my companions so it was wonderful to see them and spend time with my missionary brothers!  I truly love Elder Fiaui and Elder Sifuentes. They are both amazing men and fantastic missionaries. 

Twins! Elder Motuapuaka and I wore the same tie 
to the Deer Park Zone Conference! We both have good taste!

After we finished at the zone conference, we raced back home to Dandenong, We were able to take Reuel (a great young man from the ward in Dandenong who is leaving shortly on his own mission to the Phillippines) to the Afghan restaurant that we all love. This was the last time we will be able to meet with him before he leaves. It was good to talk with him and see what he was nervous about and what he was excited about for his mission. It was great because it brought back a lot of memories that I had the week before I left for my own mission! 

 Last Lunch with Reuel (soon to be Elder Lavaka) before he leaves on his mission!

After lunch we went back to the mission office to meet with President to discuss some mid transfer moves. When we were finished we raced back to Dandenong to visit with the Georges!  It was such a great feeling to be back with this wonderful family!

Saturday (5.7.16)
This was another great day! We started working in the office with more preparation duties for the arrival of the Vidmars and then it was off to attend some baptisms! We went to the Vietnam Footscray baptism and the Caufield Elders baptism!  The baptism in Caufield was really special to me! The person being baptized was a member referral from Ivo (Tag taught and baptized Ivo in the city last year!) and his girlfriend! It brought indescribable joy to my heart to see both Ivo and his girlfriend. They truly love the Gospel and they are diligently trying to share it with others. I have learned NEVER to judge a book by its cover! We just need to love and serve everyone and the Lord will always take care of the rest! He loves all His children and He is preparing them to receive the Gospel at the absolute right time for them.  Following all of the baptisms, we had to get the Latteiers (the senior couple that recently went home) car in Kew East. This was quite the adventure as it consisted of us taking a train and then a tram. Unfortunately, we got on the wrong tram and by the time we figured out we were on the wrong tram we got off and had to walk about a mile to find their house and drive back to the station! It was all good but Elder Erying and I laughed about the fact that life as an AP (assistant to the president) can be crazy sometimes!

What an adventure! Sorry we're late....somehow we got on the wrong tram!

Sunday (5.8.16)

IT WAS OUR LAST MOTHERS DAY!!!! It started out as a crazy morning because our original plans to Skype from the Lavakas fell through. I was trying to figure out where I was going to Skype so I could meet the time frame we set up. I decided to just have faith. The Lord knew my Momma and I needed to talk on her special day! Then BAM!  the Lord blessed us with the BEST place in all of Melbourne for skyping…..the Mattock’s home!  It was amazing that this was the last Skype of my mission!  I was so grateful that the minute we saw each other and started talking it was like everything was totally back to normal. AHHHH it was sooo great! 

Last Mother's Day Skype!

Following the skype we met with President and Sister Maxwell for some lunch and we all got back to work on our transition duties for President Vidmar! After that we worked on and practiced the song we will be singing for the Tasmania zone devotionals! It was  best night ever because I got to Skype my mom in the morning and then Elder Eyring and I were blessed to spend the evening with our second mom…..Sister Maxwell! After song practice, it was off to eat a marvelous dinner with the Kumarnasamy family. They are always so good to us and give us so much amazing food! 

Mother's Day lunch with Sister Kumarnasamy