Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 4, 2012

                                                                                    March 4, 2012

Dear Mom, Dad, and the Family,
Hey Fam!  What’s happening?  How’s life, school, work, traveling, etc?  What is going on over there, I want to know. Sorry if my letters seem outdated and late, but I am getting them out every week, I promise. I would never try to miss a week; I would be worried about mom, ha ha or scared!  No, I’m joking.  Right now it is lightening and thundering like crazy with some heavy rain here and there, but the thunder is extremely loud.  Also the power just went out earlier at the start of priesthood in the Pesaga 5th ward meeting, so it has been out for a while now.  Hopefully it comes back on.

This week we had Elder Kinnison on a split with us up until Saturday. On Monday, I got sick with a cold.  In fact, my nose was draining and when we came home for a little bit on Monday, I just felt exhausted and like my head weighed a hundred pounds.  The next morning was worse, but after taking some medicine and taking it easy, I was good, except for the runny nose still and I hope it goes away soon.  Funny thing, a lady who we were set up with for our fafaga on Monday night made arrangements for us to have dinner at a nice restaurant to eat as she was busy with work.  Sad thing is the food looked delicious, but I didn’t taste a single thing. The raw fish, poke, that I ordered with wasabi sauce and nothing cleared up my sinuses enough to taste what I was eating.  I had a Caesar salad and just tried to remember an Olive garden salad and how good it tasted.   Ha ha   No chance. 
The story of the week comes with prepping and trying so hard to get things going for S.  We had good lessons and visits with her throughout the week even getting her interview for baptism done on Friday, so she could be baptized the next Wednesday like we had set. Then on Friday night at 10:30, she sends a text to us and asks us to put the baptism date back until she has things good with her husband.  She knows that he, (in Australia) wouldn’t be happy and he is being hard-hearted and proud and not really caring about S.  So much so that S is beginning to question him  and also question herself and the church.  We don’t and never would try to force anything but she needs the companionship of the Holy Ghost in her life and also the support from him. On Sunday, we met during Sunday School and she cried and was telling us about the conflicts she was having with her husband.   He isn’t being nice at all.  She said she has been tempted to respond with anger for what he is doing, but instead she is using Christlike patience and trying to talk nicely and explain what she feels and wants and knows is right to do.  She is so strong, but is being beat down by Satan and her husband. I have been praying so hard and fasted on Sunday for her.  She wants to be baptized, but texted me on Sunday , saying her husband said to choose him or the church and if it is the church he will have the divorce papers faxed over straight away.  Argh!  It just gets to me how she is struggling and then he eases up, but gets right back in attack and defensive mode, but she is always patience and loving trying to work things out. She hasn’t said for sure about putting the baptism back,  just keep praying,  knowing it is in the Lord’s hands.  We want to help her, we are praying to be guided in what to do.
We are still teaching Institute and that’s going great except my companion is not helping yet,  because he is struggling with his English and feels unsure and embarrassed.  I am trying to help him as much as possible to be comfortable.  We are also teaching in Pesaga 5th Ward with lessons in English.  We had a lesson with B and I.  That was kind of difficult.  B knows no Samoan and I’s English is limited. So quite a few times, I would say it in English, then translate to Samoan for I.  They are good though.  Just keep trying and do all we can . Good news is K is cousins with Elder Sefo and he has agreed to be baptized this month.  Great news there.
J’s dad - A. S. had his baptism on Saturday over in Tutuila.  He is such a great guy!  I had the opportunity to perform his baptism and he was so happy and beaming and smiling afterwards.  J was there and crying, it was a good day for her.  Next up is her mom, A’s wife, and her older sisters.  Great ward and great fellowshipping there.  So awesome to see.  We did have a lesson with him and he was taking it all in so great.
Well that is all the big stuff this week.  Working with my comp to overcome challenges,  I know I can learn from him and I need to do my best.  Just have to keep working at everything.  Prayer is my tool and I know God is there and He will always help me.
I know the Gospel is true.  I know God lives and Jesus is the Christ.  I know Thomas S. Monson is called of God.  Joseph Smith was chosen to restore the church.  The Book of Mormon is true and the keystone.  Read it!
I love you all so very much.  Keep me updated!   Alofa tele Atu ia te Outou.                 Thanks for everything.
Elder Cody John Walker

Friday, March 16, 2012

February 26,2012

                                                                         February 26, 2012
Dear Mom, Dad, and the Family,
Hey Family!  Wow, last letter in February. I can’t believe it.  February flew by for all I can remember.   How is winter time going over there?  How is everyone?  Hope all is still going great and everyone is strong and healthy and all that stuff. 
First off in news is my comp Elder Nielsen finished his mission.  As well as Elder Aloi, Elder Pedersen, Elder Sua and the others in their group, but I mentioned those guys because I have written about them in past emails and letters and thought you might remember them.  Anyway it was a sad day to say goodbye to all of them. 14 of them total. That was a good MTC group and I was grateful and glad to have served with Elder Nielsen for his last 2 ½ months.  But ya, he’s back home now as well as all of those guys in their different places.
The day that they left was transfers and a busy day for us and my new companion, Elder Sefo.  He was already in the zone for a little while in the area Lotopa but now he is my new comp as a zone leader. He really wants to drive the car and so far since Wednesday I haven’t touched the steering wheel, but hopefully he will be all driven out soon.
An exciting day was Thursday.  In the morning I got to go do sui papatisega (baptisms for the dead) with the family that Asuafi and I baptized last year. The Maulio family with Fesolai, Moega, Maria, Silia, and Taunese.  Because of a mix-up I was a little late, but got the opportunity to baptize Maria and Silia which they held back on just so I could make it.  The bishop felt bad as the time had changed and he forgot to let me know, so we were a little bit late, but all worked out and I got a picture with them, too.  Also I received good news from them though; they said they are planning to go through the temple in 2 months, in April!  To receive their own endowments and to be sealed as a family.  I was so stoked, because I might be able to go with them.   Also that night I got to go with Rodgers and Funaki to take a lady from the Pesaga 5th ward through the temple in the English session.  Amazing experience there as well.  A great lady and she was all smiles with some tears as well.
On my last day with Nielsen we got quite a bit done with teaching a class at the institute, kind of an investigator class, but it has members in it as well.  It’s called “Teachings of the Church” and we don’t have a curriculum or anything so we just ask what the students want to learn and go from there. Also had a last visit/lesson with Serina and she was sad Nielsen was leaving, but glad I was staying, and she is still set for the 7th of March.  We had a lot of baptisms to go to this week for our zone, consisting of a busy Friday with interviews and also a busy day on Saturday.  10 baptisms all together and I got to go to Lamoana’s baptism too with the APs.
I’ve got a cold right now, but all is good. But I got to go, not too much else this week.
I love you all so much and thank you all for everything.  Keep strong!  I know the church is true and Jesus is the Christ.  Thanks for the love and prayers. Pray for my comp and I please.  Thanks.  Everything will be good.  Obedience is the key!  God lives and loves us.
Out e Alofa tele me outou.  Alofa atu!
Elder Cody John Walker

Monday, March 12, 2012

February 19, 2012

                                                                                                February 19, 2012

Dear Mom, Dad, and Family,

This week was probably one of the busiest in this area and the truth of the matter is most of it was spent teaching investigators for the APs, while they were with President in Tutuila for conference and meetings.  But before I get started I need to ask how everything is.  Remember to keep me updated on all the facts and what is going on.  Thanks so much for everything you all do.  I really appreciate it all! It is so busy here it is crazy.  But it is a good busy which makes me happy.  Anything new there?  Fun story is my companion and I dressed up as Laman and Lemuel and acted out Nephi’s story for sharing time in Primary. It was fun and the kids liked it. 

First off to talk about is S. She is really progressing and is so ready to be baptized.  In fact, this past week we set a baptismal date with her, the 7th of March. A Wednesday, but that is the day she wants and so we are all for it. We were able to meet with her twice this past week and the first time we read Alma 5 together and applied it to her and invited her again to be baptized and go forward with what she knows and feels is right.  That chapter is so good, I love it. Very useful.  Sis.Vui is also a very great person befriending S and helping her to progress.  She is also a convert to the church, married to a non-member who comes to church every fast Sunday and so she can relate to S quite a bit. S was nice too and cut our hair after the lesson. The next time we met with her she had a great story to tell. She told us how for the first time since we had started lessons she had truly prayed, as in sincere and thoughtful.  She asked the Lord for help and if all of this was right and what she should be doing and she felt a warm feeling and opened up her scriptures to Psalms 73 and read it and it was to her a story of her life. She told us how she was crying and just knew it was what she needed to do, as in be baptized.  The only problem remaining is her husband.  So on Thursday we all (the 4 of us) had a fast together for a day until Friday night, fasting that S would know how to say it and know what to do, also that missionaries will find her husband and that he will be open to them and listen and then of course that her husband’s heart will be softened enough to allow S to be baptized.  On Friday as we went to visit her at Sister Vui’s we were told she was out with her mom and also that her mom (S’s mom) has breast cancer and when she had gone to the hospital they said that it had progressed to a critical stage and there was nothing they could do but tell her to enjoy life.  A hard ultimatum.  We also included her in our fast and also planned for after church on Sunday to go and give S’s mom a blessing.  So after church we went with H to go to the house of S’s mom and give her a blessing, which she was willing to accept and Brother T gave a great blessing of comfort and peace and that her body would function correctly to the end.  So great, the priesthood is awesome and S’s mom was happy for S being baptized and was proud of her.  The mom has such a great attitude and so faithful.  She is not a member, but could become one. We shall see.

Next is T.  We finally got him baptized!  The 18th of February and he was baptized and I was able to perform the baptism and Nielson was able to confirm him a member. He is 9 yrs. old and a great kid. This week we just went over and helped him remember all the lessons and be prepped for his interview.  A fun thing is that his parents and grandparents who are inactive came to his baptism. (his mom is not a member).  His aunt came who had served a mission, but came back and married a nonmember and is not as strong as she could be.  His older sister, who is 16, is his example and friend. Both his aunt, D and M spoke at his baptism and Sister K his grandmother bore her testimony and it was grand.  Such a great family, great people!  It was good to get him baptized and he was so happy.

We also met up with and taught the 5th lesson to J for the APs this week.  She is such a good girl and so strong.  She invited us to a young women program to hear her bear her testimony and was so good.  She is the reason her family is interested and will be the reason they will be baptized.  We taught her dad two lessons this weekend, invited him to be baptized at the start of March and he accepted!  The first time we met him he explained how he wanted peace and happiness in this life and no more contention and wants to know what all this is for.  Perfect setup for the 2nd lesson, right?  So we taught about where we came from and why we are here and God’s plan for us.  Also taught what we need to do in this life to obtain that happiness.  He was all ears and so into it.   It was fun lesson. Gave him a Book of Mormon and he, the next time we met said he had been reading it.  Also he said since the last lesson on Wednesday, he had quit smoking and hadn’t touched a cigarette and doesn’t want to ever again.  We gave him a blessing as he was sick a little that Friday.  Hopefully he continues and can fulfill that commitment to be baptized on that first Saturday.

Next is L, whom we set up to be baptized on this Saturday the 25th.   He is also a baptism of the Aps and we contacted  him and taught him the first two lessons.  A smart kid, age 11.  He goes to Pasega church school of the LDS here in Samoa.  He just moved from New Zealand with his family and has excellent English.  He loves the gospel and is set for this Saturday, so that will be great.

Another is N, also from Pesaga.  She is a great lady and she needs her glasses though to read and has not brought her glasses to the last two lessons.  Great lady and she has a desire to be baptized.  Needs to get married first though.

We also helped J get a name ready to take to the temple, her mom’s mom.  Also hoping for her Dad’s dad as well.

We had a lesson with P W.  We went with Elder and Sister Weber to his house and had a great sit down time. He is still struggling with praying to know if things are true, but wants to know so much about the Book of Mormon.  He is too caught up in the history of it all and not so much of the spiritual goodness.  He is great guy and invited us to dinner.  We are excited for that as he wants us to meet his wife, too.  Well I gotta run.

I know Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know God lives.  I know President Monson is a true prophet.  I know Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration.  This is only true and living church.

I love you all.  Out te Alofa tele lava mo outou uma!  Keep strong! 
Thanks for everything.  You are the best.

Alofa atu,
Elder Cody John Walker

p.s.  I get a new comp as Nielsen finishes. That’s exciting.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

                                                                                                          February 12, 2012

Dear Mom, Dad, and Family,
Hey Family! How is everyone? I hope all is good and going just grand.  Keep me updated on my sister, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces and nephew and their lives.  Thank you so much Mom and Dad for your letters.  Sorry to my brothers and fam for taking so long to write back.  I need to get on that.  Really busy, even on pdays.  Good stuff though.  We are helping to cover AP’s area as they have a lot going on there.  Their ward is exploding with referrals, it’s crazy.  But it is so good.  Wish our ward could get that fire as well, we are trying to set a spark and get that going. Just keep the faith and help out and it will get started.  Prayer and fasting also.

Funny thing first that happened on Monday is our ward mission leader invited us to lunch at this restaurant to talk about some things from the palagi ward.  Walked in and guess what was playing live on the TV…the super bowl.  Ha ha!  Since we are a day ahead, the Super Bowl was on our Monday. It was pretty funny and totally unexpected.  We saw just a little as we ate and talked. 
We finally got another lesson with F after a few weeks of not seeing her. It was a very rainy day on that Tuesday and let me tell you we had tried making other visits with F, but they fell through. But as we were walking to these visits, we got soaked completely through and then the little breeze didn’t help as it made it cold, but we survived and laughed about it.  What else can you do?  Anyway F’s lesson was good; we read a chapter from 3 Nephi the 27th chapter.  This chapter is always a good one to read together with investigators as it is Christ teaching when he visited the American continent.  F enjoyed it and could understand more of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Also Jesus Christ puts it in order in a sort of way that emphasizes enduring to the end on the path of righteousness to gain eternal life.  Great lesson.

If you remember I mentioned a Brother B and about his daughter’s baptism in the last letter. We finally got over to his house on Wed. to talk and give him a priesthood blessing to help him to quit smoking and drinking and prepare more to go to the temple.  We talked to him and he just explained so much about his life, saying he isn’t wanting to hide anything from us, but will tell us straight.  Great guy and trying to do what is right and he needs all the help and he is doing better.
We got called also on Wed. by the zone leaders in Upolu Central to help them do a lesson as well, as they would be in Zone Conference all day.  He gave us the info and we went over and he had asked us to teach about the Book of Mormon.  So we went and read what chapter?  3 Nephi 27 of course.  We knew that those are the most convincing words we can use, as they are those of Jesus Christ Himself.  The guy was great and his son was there as well and we had another great lesson and hope the best for those elders to get him and his son baptized.

Then came Thursday.  We had Zone conference, but this time up in Sauniatu.  3 Zones in all went up there.  It was a great conference with great teachings and some new things pointed out to us.  If you look at one of the new handbooks that the church has given out to leaders, there are some new things in there that differ or add to Preach My Gospel, which is something the President is bringing up quite often to emphasize that we need to constantly focus and use the “new” and work together with ward and stake leaders to help keep this work moving along at a steady but growing pace.  Remembering also the importance and significance of leaders and the keys they hold, as they hold the keys to the work in that area. All great stuff!  Also Pres. Leota talked about making our baptismal programs better as that program is so important.  The Aps explained and did a demonstration on putting on the armor of God each day, which means waking up on time, studying, praying, and all those things, so we are prepared to stand up against the adversary and all of his attacks.  Great lesson there as well!  Last thing we talked about was our goal of 3000 baptisms this year and how we are to get that goal and then keep them active.  It can be done and is being accomplished right now.  It is so great to see. All that in one conference.  Also got a lot of great pixes up there in Saunitu, it is a beautiful place!  Pres. Leota is an amazing man, very inspired and a great guy.
Next day was interviews with President Leota for our zone.  Another great opportunity to talk one on one with Pres. and talk about me and my mission and how I am doing and what I know that I need to improve on.  I love talking with him and he is such an inspired man.  He knows the right questions to ask to get me thinking and recognize where I need to improve. Also had a lesson with Elder Rodgers on listening in our lessons and applying the story of Ammon and how he waited for a full hour to ask another questions. After interviews, we had a lesson with a kid age 17 or so who has been going to church, and we had no clue he was not baptized, until his mom mentioned him to us.  She said they had always left it up to him.  He gets up for seminary early each morning and goes, and goes to mutual and all that stuff.  He knows almost everything about the gospel, but like most, has not read the Book of Mormon. So we challenged him to read it and think about what he needs to do.  His step-parents or the ones who took him in or adopted him are not members.  He is now staying with his parents.  Anyway we will continue to visit him and answer questions for him.  Great kid.
Saturday we had S’s baptism .  It was another great baptism with a really good turnout.  A good ward and they just keep giving more and more referrals.  Awesome!  The cool story came afterwards though.  We have the key that can unlock all the churches in our area and in the zone.  Well ends up that Rodgers and Funaki lost it.  After about an hour of searching for it we decided to pray and then after more searching and thinking, Elder Rodgers felt impressed to check one last place before we were to leave and he found it on the way in the grass.  A blessing and a gift from God.  That key is vital in many things that we need to do and right before we leave, we are able to find it.  Awesome!  We had a ton of other lessons planned that day and a lot of them fell through. We did set up a time with J and B for Monday and also a lesson with A’s wife, who is already a member, but less active.  We invited her to read the Book of Mormon.

I forgot to mention Elder Nielsen’s grandparents on his dad’s side came down as they had lived here 50 yrs. ago.  They got approval from Pres. to take us out to dinner.  With the dinner they had some entertainment.  Samoan dancing, singing, and even fire dancing (fiafia). It was great.  Really good people. 
Sunday at church, S came again and we got T’s baptism set up for Sat. After we went and taught a lady in the Ap’s ward as they were in Tutuila.  It was a great first lesson and she wants to get baptized, so maybe by the end of the month.  She accepted everything and didn’t have many questions.  A great week!

I know the church is true.  Jesus is the Christ and His grace is sufficient.  Joseph Smith is a  true prophet.  The Book of Mormon is true through and through.  President Monson is a true prophet.  God lives and loves us.  I love you all!!  Thank you so much for everything.  Ou te alofa tele mo outou.  Keep strong!
Alofa atu,
Elder Cody John Walker

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February 6, 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                February 6, 2012
Dear Mom, Dad, and Family,
Hey Fam, how’s everything going?   Been snowing there lately, or no? I hope so, or else that may mean a very dry summer.  I hope you get some moisture or take some of Samoa’s rain, as it has been raining every day here nonstop. Well I mean clouded over constantly, not a day passes with no rain.  It’s been interesting to see the roads in town as their drain systems here aren’t working well so the roads flood and businesses have to have high steps for their entrances so their stores don’t flood inside.  Crazy stuff!
To answer your question mom about the Alofua Ward—Yes, they meet for sacrament meeting at 7:00 a.m., and since it gets light here at about 7:15, they all start out walking to church in the dark.  The ones who are faithful and diligent that is, they are having challenges in getting everyone there on time to begin sacrament meeting on time.  Going consistently to church is one of the hardest commitments for people to keep and when they do it is a giant step to baptism and reactivation.  Oh ya, sister K came to church with M and T and we set T’s baptism for the 18th as well as S’s.  So we are hoping and praying all goes well.  Sister Vui is doing an amazing job in helping her. Also sister V’s husband came to church and they told me he always comes on fast Sundays.   Better than not coming at all.
On Monday, we had a lesson with J; it was the second on the Plan of Salvation.  She loved it. That is such a key lesson in that the principle of a plan and how we can have a sense of direction and also know where we came from and where we are going after this life and it helps to know those things as we go through this life.  It is neat to see J light up and be happy as we are there and teaching her.  We are grateful for the opportunity to share the gospel.  It was great to be able to teach her again.
Tuesday was one of the greatest days as we had the opportunity to go to the temple (Malemulu Sa).   First we had training for two hours which was excellent with great topics discussed on receiving revelation personally, as a companionship and as a zone and doing all we can to do that.  Also it talked about working more with stake and ward leaders and getting people to the temple.  Also we discussed our personal weaknesses and just like the people of Ammon who buried their weapons of rebellion, we all wrote down things we can improve on then tore it up and threw it away in sort of a burial type and covenant basically to fix those things and become better.  Then after that, President Leota talked and shared insights on how many are called and few are chosen.  We then went to the temple for back to back sessions. 4:30 and 7:00 p.m., and it was grand.  The peace, comfort, silence and so much more, I can’t describe it, it was overpowering.  The spirit was in abundance as many others have said.  I wish I could describe all my feelings and the joy and peace that I felt when I went through, but just know the temple is the place!
We had another ZLC the next day and didn’t have a lot or as much covered this time.  It was still good and covered a lot of important issues.  The funny thing was about 5 or 6 zone leaders were from my comp’s group, and they will finish up on the 22nd of this month.  It was all great stuff though.
On Thursday we had zone meeting and covered business that was talked about in ZLC and also had a great lesson taught by Elder Sefo about one heart/ work together and it was applied to companionships and as a zone as well.  We visited Sister K and invited her to come to church again and bring T, and they came!  Also we taught J another lesson and it covered the baptismal interview questions to prep her for the next day with her interview.  It went well at first, of course she looked nervous but as we explained it wasn’t a deep down interview that would be impossible to pass, as a lot of people think that, but that it was just questions about the gospel and she knows about the gospel.  She felt better about it after we talked about it.  We then visited or tried to visit a less active guy and only were able to talk to his wife and invited them to church.
Friday was a packed day with a lot of baptismal interviews to be done.  It was a great week for our zone with 5 baptisms and one from the AP’s area.  Way awesome, and great work from the entire zone. We had planned that morning some visits but all of them got pushed back, although A gave us a for sure time to visit the next morning.  J passed her interview and Elder Sefo said she did very well. 
On Saturday we attended a primary baptism at 8:00 for the Pesega 5th  English speaking ward.  D B’s daughter was one who was baptized and it was special when he was able to stand in the circle when she was confirmed.  Good guy, and I can see him progressing even further. We went to visit him later.  He loves the missionaries and we love him and his family.  After the baptism, we went over and taught A about more commandments mainly the law of tithing, 10 commandments and following the prophets.  He was very supportive and happy to learn about how we pay 1/10 and that none of us it goes to leaders, but all to the building of the Kingdom of God.  We tried to show him how you can find and learn so much from the Book of Mormon and find how it talks about things as well.  Great lesson and he liked it.  Next was our planning and getting ready for a fireside in A on the 12th and also planning what to teach at the fireside we were helping with on missionary work on Sunday evening.  That led to our lesson to cover for the AP’s at S’s and we taught the 3rd lesson, on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She is prepped and ready for her baptism on this coming Saturday. Also went to a meeting with Bishop Fiu of Alafua and showed him a rough draft of the fireside, so he could know what to plan for.  Then we went to J’s baptism.  This had to have been one of the best baptisms I have been to in my life.  It was beautiful.  The attendance was great. The young women sang a song and were there to support her. Her mom and two sisters were there.  One of her sisters was touched by the spirit and was crying when she saw J baptized.  She felt the spirit and loved it.  She also came to J’s confirmation the next day.  Another thing is none of her family are members, immediate family, and dad came to her confirmation the next day.  That was the first time he had come to church and said it was good and he liked it.  Her sisters ended up attending the other classes as well.  Great weekend! J was glowing and so excited for us to meet her parents. She wants this joy for her family, too.  Awesome stuff!
Sunday night we had a missionary fireside in the English speaking ward and President and Sister Leota as well as AP”s were there, too.  We taught a class.  Pres. Leota spoke and gave some great and inspiring remarks, talking about the work we are involved in and told those who are preparing to serve or who are serving to find out “why” I came and go fulfill that why!  He gave great tips and encouragement and counsel to some of the guys who are leaving soon on their missions.  He told then to gain confidence and to know that they can be successful with the Lord and go forward with faith.
Well that is the wrap for this week.  I know this church is true and that it is led by a living prophet under the direction of Jesus Christ who is at the head of this church.  I know God lives, and I know Jesus is the Christ.  I know that His grace is sufficient.  I know the Book of Mormon is true.  Families can be together forever.  I know that the temple is the house of God.  I love you all so much!   Keep strong! Ou te Alofa tele ia te Outou.       Thank you so much for everything!
Alofa atu,
Elder Cody Walker