Thursday, April 28, 2016

26 April 2016 - Week 24: Trying new things

Bonjour tout le monde!

I had a great week! The first thing is that we invited two of our amis to be baptized (the other, we weren't feelin' it during the lesson and decided not to) and one of them accepted and the other is going to tell us his answer on Friday! So, we have a baptism the 21st of May! It was cool because when we asked her to be baptized, she was surprised at first and then said she was wanting to wait until September (her birthday) BUT then she said, "If it's the Lord's will for me to be baptized on May 21st, I will!" Woo hoo! She has a lot of faith and she'll be ready!

Like I said last week, we've really been seeing the blessings of being obedient. And this week, we're trying new things that we've learned from other missionaries. We had an exchange with the sisters in Paita (Sœur Vogel and Sœur Reorau) and they are awesome missionaries! We learned 2 great things from them. 1) to pray as a companionship before each lesson and before we go searching for old amis and inactive members. And 2) to always ask to share a scripture and a prayer, especially with inactive members, even if you're just standing outside their house. We had a really great experience with that yesterday. We went to an inactive sister's house to see if we could talk with her. It turns out that she wasn't home, but her husband, who's also inactive, was. We asked if we could share a scripture with him and he said no, but he said yes to a prayer. So we said a prayer and talked a little and the conversation just turned toward sharing a scripture and he didn't stop us! We shared our testimonies and even said another prayer. It was a really good experience and I could feel the Spirit there and I knew he could feel it too. We're here as missionaries to help other come unto Christ and to invite the Spirit into or back into their lives. And before we had gone up to the house, we had prayed together to have the Spirit. These things are so important in missionary work, but I know that it's not just missionaries who have experiences like that! We can all pray to be guided by the Spirit every day and look for ways to share the Gospel.

Another thing that we learned from the Riviere Salee elders was that the sondage really works. The sondage is pretty much a survey about our religion--just if the person has ever heard of the Church, knows members, or heard about the Book of Mormon or the Plan of Salvation. Stuff like that. It's a less-threatening way to do contacting, I think, because the person just thinks you want to ask them questions, not convert them. Yesterday, we had some good experiences doing the sondage and found several good potential investigators! We gave away 6 Books of Mormon and we have 4 return appointments. And the coolest thing is that because we prayed with some of the people we talked to and taught about the Book of Mormon and the Plan of Salvation while we talked to them, that counts as other lessons taught! We're really excited for the success we had yesterday and are more motivated to go out and find more new amis! The work in our secteur is improving. We had amis progressing--we had 5 amis at Church on Sunday! Wooo hoo! And we're finding more new amis and also asking members to help us find the inactive members. There's work to be done and Sœur Rooarii and I are motivated!

I'm really loving my mission and I'm learning so many things that I can continue to do after my mission to keep learning and progressing in the Gospel. There are some moments when I think about home and family and BYU and what I could be doing if I weren't on a mission. But then I remember why I came out here--to serve my Heavenly Father and invite others to have the same joy in the Gospel that I have. The longer I am on my mission, the more I appreciate the life I have and my family and the more it feels like a sacrifice to be here. But I'm not sad or thinking about coming home!! Don't worry! I just want to let you know how much I really love you guys and can't wait for the day we're reunited! But for now, I'm a missionary and I love the work!

Sœur Matheson :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

20 April 2016 - Week 23: Obedience brings blessings!

Bonjour tout le monde!!

Sorry my email last week was so short and rushed! Having time to email can be a struggle here in New Cal, so when we actually get time, it's a blessing! :)

President changed our p-day to Wednesday and we (the leaders) are supposed to report to him about how it's working out. It's mostly because a lot of the cyberbases (especially in the north) are closed Mondays and a lot of other stuff is closed on Mondays, so having district activities on Mondays is hard.

The theme for this week is obedience! Haha, at least for Sœur Rooarii and me! On Monday, we had a reunion with both zones, the APs and President Granger. All of the zone leaders and STLs gave trainings, so that means Sœur Rooarii and I gave a training! It was in English because during all of the meetings we have with President, we speak English--the mission language is English [on Vanuatu, they speak English and Bislama]. For other meetings just with the New Cal missionaries, the meetings are in French because French is the language of this part of the mission. Anyway, the training was in English, which was fine for me, but Sœur Rooarii was freaking out. She understands and speaks English very well, but she was nervous about not being about to express everything she wanted to say. So we prepared and practiced a lot and prayed for the gift of tongues, and the training went really well! A lot of the missionaries complimented us, and President was really happy with it!! 

Laura and her companion, Soeur Rooarii
We talked about obedience and how once we really understand why we have the commandments and the mission rules, we will be obedient with willing hearts. But it has to come from us first. We encouraged the missionaries to read the missionary handbook and work on the things that they haven't been doing or things that they know they can do better. Sœur Rooarii and I have been doing that, too, and I can tell you that when we're striving to be obedient, we have more success in the work!

[Regarding] STL duties, we do have exchanges. We're having one with Paita next week and Dumbea Sur Mer the week after. In the north there's only three companionships of sisters, including us, so we don't have too many people to worry about, which is nice. There are 3 American sisters in the north, the other 4 are Tahitian.

The sisters of Dumbea District: (l-r) Soeur Pahio, Sr. Rooarii, Laura, Sr. Flake and Sr. Temanaha-moo
Sr. Rooarii is awesome and we get along great! We really help each other to be obedient and to work hard. She's a great teacher during the lessons. And she helps navigate while i'm driving, haha. The driving is fine. I'm getting used to the Qashqai. It's a lot bigger than the Sorento, so i'm getting used to that. I honestly love having to have Sr. Rooarii do the backup for me--it helps a lot. The missionary rules are a blessing! [Mission rules require that one missionary stand outside the car and "direct" the driver while backing up.]

Driving is pretty much exactly like the U.S. except there are a billion rond points [roundabouts] here, and you just have to know the rules of what lane to be in if there's two, and how to signal for when you're going in and when you're going out. The roads are not too winding in our area, but in others here in the north, like Dumbea, they're pretty wind-y. I drive on the express [freeway] almost every day, so I feel like when I get home I'll be a pro. There's some traffic in the afternoon, but not nearly as bad as CA hahaha.

This week President challenged us to have 20 lessons every week. For some missions that's usual, but here in New Cal, that's a real challenge. The highest number of lessons I've had in a week is 15 and that was a really good week. But I know it can be done, especially here in Koutio! Sœur Rooarii and I have accepted President's challenge. We made goals to have shorter lessons, and to see our amis multiple times a week. And to be more obedient--especially with the small things like actually getting up at 6:30 and working out, haha. As we've been striving to do that just these past few days, we've already seen the blessings!

For example, we invited our ami Marie-Christine to be baptized on the 21st of May and she said yes! She was surprised at first, and then said that she had wanted to wait until her birthday in September. But then she said that if it's Heavenly Father's will for her to get baptized in May, she'll be ready! She has so much faith and has seen the blessings of living the Gospel and having faith already. I know she'll be ready to be baptized in May! The cool thing during our lesson yesterday was that at first she was really tired because she hadn't slept well. She was having a hard time staying focused and answering the questions we asked her. The Spirit really wasn't there at all. But then we decided to sing a cantique [song] and after that the Spirit was there. That's the reason why she said “yes” to being baptized. I know that if the Spirit isn't there during the lessons, there's no point. The Spirit really is the teacher and the one who pushes our amis to choose to progress.

Also this [coming] week, we want to challenge two of our other amis to be baptized as well. During our meeting with President on Monday, I really felt impressed that we should give them a little push by inviting them to be baptized on a certain date. The two are in different stages of progression in the Gospel, but I know that if … they're really willing, they can make the necessary changes to be ready to be baptized. That's also why Sœur Rooarii and I want to be really obedient this week--to have the Spirit with us and invite these amis to be baptized and have them accept!

Oh yeah, Lucien, an ami from Vallee des Colons, was baptized on Saturday!! Sœur Tellus told me that it was amazing, and now he wants to serve a mission! Lucien is a testimony to me of how if we're really willing to accept the Gospel and change our ways into God's ways, we will be blessed. He was an ami that we pushed to get baptized by giving him a date exactly a month after. He accepted and did what needed to be done to be ready. That's the result I'm praying for for our two amis here in Koutio this week!

Koutio is a great secteur! There's a lot of work to do here and the great thing is that the members want to help! Most of the lessons we've had have been lessons with members, and that is amazing! My companion, Sœur Rooarii, is a wonderful missionary and teacher. We really work well together as a team and push each other to be better and have more faith in the work and the counsel President Granger gives us. Since I've been an sister training leader these past couple of weeks, my testimony of the fact that President Granger is called by God to lead our mission has really grown, and because of that I have more faith in the counsel and challenges he gives us and I'm more willing to follow it.

My testimony of obedience and having a willing heart as our motivation to be obedient has grown as well. Something I really loved during General Conference was Sister Oscarson's talk. She talked about knowing the Gospel and really believing it and bringing it from our head into our heart. It's so true! That's helped me a lot. We've also taught that concept to some of our amis, especially one who's really logical and loves researching the Gospel but wasn't really sure if he believed it yet. He knows it's true in his head, but he needs to feel it in his heart as well. That's when the change of heart comes and also when we can see the blessings of the Gospel.

I know this Gospel is true and that it brings LASTING joy and peace into our lives. I'm so happy I can be here in New Cal sharing the Gospel with these wonderful people, even if it means I'm not with my own family. I love all of you and I hope that the expériences I've shared will strengthen your faith and love of the Gospel!

Je vous aime tous! Passez une tres bonne semaine!
Ta ta bisoux!
Sœur Matheson

We went bowling for a district activity, and I didn't get the lowest score!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

10 April 2016 - Week 22: Greetings from Koutio!!

Bonjour tout le monde!

These past two week have been CRAZY. I don't even know where to start and just to warn you this might be a short email because I think the cyberbase is going to close soon... 

Okay hmmm where to start....

We had the transfer last Thursday and awesome news! I'm actually not driving the Juke, but the Qashqai--the nicest car in the mission! Perks of being an STL in the North, haha :) Koutio is the "north" because it's just more north of Noumea, which is the south in our mission. In New Cal, most of the missionaries are in Noumea or just outside of it. If you had a map, you could stick one finger on almost all of the mission areas in New Cal. So yeah, Koutio is cool so far but pretty big compared to the other areas in the mission. Good thing we have a car! The apartment is bigger than the one in VDC, but it was SO DIRTY. And Soeur Rooraii and I didn't have a chance to really clean it until this morning. Now we feel a lot better! 

Koutio is still very civilized--we have a McDo [McDonald's] and the biggest grocery store on the island, haha. The ward I'm in is the Riviere Salee ward and it's the biggest ward in New Cal--way bigger than Magenta. And the awesome thing is that the members here want to invite us over and help us in our missionary work! And the DMP [ward mission leader] is great, too! I'm excited to work in this ward! We've already had a soiree with one family and at one point I had the thought that I could be in some house in the middle of Utah having the same experience (but maybe in English, haha) It's cool to see how even across the world, the Gospel is the same and the members have the same testimonies and blessings and trials. 

We've already have 2 weeks of the transfer and we're just now getting the opportunity to really get to work in our area. We've had 2 lessons with an amie so far (and some cancelled ones) and been invited over twice. 
Watching General Conference

We had general conference this weekend! It was great and the best part was that they had it in English in another room! Haha, pretty much all of the missionaries were in there... But I was really happy to be able to watch it in English so I could really learn and understand. The translation is just not the same! But after watching conference I really just want to go to the temple! #13moremonthsbeforethatsevenpossible

Vanuatu was great! We had two days of trainings with President and Sister Granger at the mission home with all of the zone leaders and STLs in the entire mission. It was really awesome BUT I'M GOING TO HAVE TO TELL Y'ALL ABOUT IT LATER BECAUSE THE CYBERBASE IS CLOSING AND I'M REALLY SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Have a great week!! 

Soeur Matheson :)