October 30, 2016
I hope that everyone is doing well at home. I was shocked when I looked at my watch today and realized that you guys were celebrating Halloween. I was thinking back to a year ago from today when I had my first Halloween as a missionary on Tabiteuea. It's crazy how fast my mission has gone by.
I've had a lot of questions on how being a Zone Leader differs from being a regular missionary. To be honest, it's a lot the same, but we have just been given some extra responsibilities. We drive a car so we are able to transfer missionaries around on days when we have district meetings and on P-Days, including getting them to the trainings that we give. We also insert and keep track of their statistics etc. We have been setting a lot of goals for our zone in terms of baptisms and we are just trying to make our zone be a fun zone. Because our area is a ways out of the way, we can spend a lot of time driving in the car, but all is well.
This week there were a couple of things that took us away from our work time, but yesterday was probably the best Sunday that I've had on my mission. We had a branch conference and it was the first Sunday on my mission where I felt like everything just went well. We were able to have eight investigators come to church and we taught a gospel doctrine class. It was great! President Larkin also came to our church and spoke to the members and I could finally feel the excitement in our branch. Lots of changes are still on the way, but we are working so hard to make changes here.
Do you remember Otinteiti, my recent convert of about a month? He received the Aaronic Priesthood last week and performed his first baptism this Saturday. Seeing our investigator be baptized by my recent convert was one of the coolest things of my mission… It's sometimes so hard to see that here in Kiribati and I was so grateful. I felt as if I were in the water myself.
Elder Peeti’s and my focus is to really work with men in our area to teach, baptize, and prepare them to become full tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders. We have really been working with the Branch Presidency to get a branch mission leader called, as well as to work toward some priesthood advancements. Our branch just announced its first "branch rescue night" to go and help some of our many less active members. When we got here, there was nothing... Now there are priesthood advancements, callings being given. rescues being performed, and activities being planned. We feel that things are on the way up and I'm learning so much about how to work with branch leaders. It's something that I've never had to do on my mission because I spent so much time on the outer islands, but I know that this is how missionary work needs to be. The Lord's house is a house of order and I know that the keys and things that we have flowing to us in the Buota branch can start to bring the changes we are hoping for.
One investigator who I would like to tell you about is Kiteita. The Lord had a plan for her and for me and I know that she is one of the reasons I was sent here. She is 20 years old and way cool... I first met her on Maiana, but she then moved away. I somehow met up with her here on Tarawa in Buota because she now lives here. She is SO smart and has such a strong testimony and we were so excited when she came to church yesterday... We were a little shocked when we received a text from her father (a minister in the Protestant church) during Sacrament Meeting saying some pretty harsh words. He called us a "cult" and other things I probably shouldn't mention. We were surprised because we didn't know she was having a problem with her family, but it really demonstrated her faith in coming to church. It will be interesting but I have a feeling that the Lord is going to prepare a way on this one. Pray for her please!
I hope that everyone has a good week!