Monday, May 26, 2014

A weekend for the ages (Vairao - week #4)

Ia ora na tatou!!
Doing splits on bike
I am so stoked to write about my week, because it was genuinely one of the coolest weekends that I have ever experienced on my mission, maybe my life. This weekend was the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the Church in Polynesia, which took place at a stadium in Papeete. We were honored to have Elder Hamula of the Seventy there with us. It was a weekend that included singing, dancing, marching, laughing, crying, proselyting and testifying and eating and tons of other things that you could only find in Tahiti! Thousands of church members in the region came to participate, and it was something that us the missionaries were privileged to watch and take part in. I'm pretty sure most of my email will be about that!

Tubuai dance
The activity started Friday night with awesome cultural dance and song show that was performed by the youth of each stake on Tahiti. It was awesome! There were dances performed that originated from different islands, like Tubuai, the Tuomotus, some Marquesian and Maori hakas, even some Hawaiian dances. It made me appreciate just how awesome and unique the Polynesian culture is. There truly is nothing as beautiful and intense as the culture that you find here. Even though Im a white dude, I gotta say I'm proud to be a part of the culture here! The next morning there was a pioneer activity to honor church pioneers in Tahiti as well as those pioneers in America. It was a total party. Members from every stake dressed up as pioneers, played games and just danced. Tahitian people honestly look for every opportunity they can to dance and party and feast, and this activity was just one of those examples of a good time. Totally fun to watch.
Some more dancing
Then Saturday night, we had a large fireside to honor the missionaries, past and present. There were talks given by President Tefon, the temple president, President Sinjoux, Elder Hamula as well as well as other area authorities. One of the greatest moments (maybe the coolest of the weekend) was the march that all us missionaries did to Called to Serve. Then at the end, former missionaries, us the current missionaries and future missionaries who received their call did an Olympic style march around the track. Normally you don't get too praised for your missionary work nor do you expect to, but not gonna lie, this was one of those moments where we were! As we walked around the track, I could see faces of old friends and members from my old areas waving and shouting out and all applauding as we walked around the stadium. It was surreal, its something that someone would dream about, and we were living it right there. In that moment, I could easily say, nothing beats being a missionary! It was a moral booster, you could say!
It was a great opportunity to meet with some old friends from the old wards as well. Saw some leaders from Tubuai and got to talk to them and joke around with them a bit! Even some old investigators who are now baptized! Maybe no one remembers, but one investigator that we had in Tubuai was Rohiti. When I left Tubuai, she wasn't too sure about being baptized, but she was a really good investigator who read and went to church. Not too long after I left Tubuai, she left to Papeete as well and ended up continuing the lessons there. I met up with her at the activity this weekend. I was surprised to find out that she's getting baptized next week! Word's cant describe my amazement and my joy to find that out. I could see how much she had actually changed since the last time I had seen her, and how much her faith has grown in the gospel. That's the wonder of missionary work. You have no idea how much of a difference that you make in the lives of others, and when you see the results, it truly hits you hard.
Papeete temple
I'm sure that those who first brought the gospel to Polynesia, such as Addison Pratt, had no idea how much of a difference that they were making in taking their voyage to unknown islands to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm sure that they never thought that just 170 years after their arrival, more than 10,000 church members in that very country would be honoring their names and rejoicing in the knowledge of the true gospel. One way or another, if a missionary works hard, they will always make a difference, even if they do not see the results on their mission. In the end, you will always see how much of a difference you made. As said in Doctrine and Covenants 15:6, "And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father." We shall all see those whose lives we impacted after this life, and we shall rejoice with them for ever.
I am so blessed and thankful to serve in this beautiful country, to serve my God. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures at the last fireside, my camera died and my memory card was full. Fail! But I'll send what I can. I love you all!
Elder Ball

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