Hello from Sydney!

Hello from Sydney!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Contemporary Nuns

Elder Arona - he dies this transfer. He's been my AP since I've been here!
Apparently, sister missionaries are just like contemporary nuns...I can deal with that. Other than the fact that we're nothing like nuns (nothing against nuns, I love nuns, we're just totally different)

This is week 8 of our 8 week transfer! It's flown by so fast! This week has been pretty full on. We painted our Stake president's house for service, Sister Weiss broke her toe, zone conference, quite a few teaching appointments, a few dinner appointments, and then just the regular work. 

While we were at our stake presidents house, he gave us (us and the zone leaders) this really great talk about how to help youth prepare for missions. So many don't know what they need to do to be worthy to go (myself included) before they start their mission papers. Especially with Law of Chastity. I don't know why some people make it seem like such a 'taboo' topic, but it's so important for youth to be aware of what they can and can't do. He told us about a fireside he had with the youth recently, and he let them ask questions, then he laid out in black and white what is acceptable and what's not, what will cause you to go through the repentance process, and ways to maintain worthy so that the application process is much smoother. It was really good. Our stake president and his family are way cool. 

Zone conference was heaps good! It was all about working with the ward to hasten the work. Involving the ward is SO important. But it's so hard when we, members, are hard to approach, or come off with the attitude that we're not willing. Ward involvement is so key because the people that missionaries bring into the church will be in that ward, the missionary will leave, and if the members aren't involved, then the chances that recent convert will go less active are much higher because they don't feel included. Wow, that was a long sentence. But it's so true! I wish I had done a much better job studying PMG as a youth and been willing to fellowship for the missionaries. Especially during that 6 week period I was at home. Also, allow the missionaries to come and strengthen the members, not just the investigators. Build relationships with them so that you can trust them because they are doing such an important work. When we have members' support, we feel much more capable about doing the work. I love the members we work with. They're so great!! Not only because they feed us (we had appointments almost every night), but because their testimonies have helped us so much. They're keeping us in line for being obedient and diligent.

The Boeree's...they're tall!
We also got to watch Meet the Mormons again. You should see if you can get it online or something and watch it as a family!! It's pretty good.

Meet the Mormons in a movie theatre! 
I also got your package, finally!!! Thanks so much, mum, for the exercise clothes! I love your jacket, it's so nice and cozy. We were playing soccer and it was 13 C, so it was perfect!! and thanks daddy for the treats and goodies!! They're delicious :) and for the nice surprise!! I love you both so much!!! Elder Laurenson and Elder Arona said that you're pretty cool. Did you get to talk to them much?? 

What else is new.. 

June is doing well! Still on date for this Saturday, so please pray for her. Her sisters are coming up for her baptism, so that'll be really exciting! We have heaps to teach still, but she is so keen.
So is Laura! We watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with her and she loved it, even with all of its cheesiness. It's such a great movie, and confirms my testimony of the Restoration and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and restored the Priesthood authority to the Earth. We weren't able to see Jason last week, but hopefully we'll see him this week. 

Us & Laura at Max Brenner
Jenni is doing really well! She bore her testimony in church yesterday and it was really nice!! (yesterday was fast and testimony meeting because next week is invitation Easter sunday). 

Jenni's Baptism
Shane Tarawa (part of the giant Maori family) passed away on Friday night. They embalm the body and keep it in the house in an open casket, and people can come by and pay their respects, sit and talk with him, and hold services. Yesterday after church, we went over and they had a nice testimony meeting while sitting around Shane. It was really nice. There were even less actives bearing testimony, and it was so powerful. The Plan of Salvation is real. There is no end to life. Death is simply a separation of our spirits and bodies. We sat around, broke our fast, and then sang songs, which was really cool. That family can sing! The whole Tarawa clan is really chill, I love hanging out with them.  Speaking of less actives, we went to visit Travis and Kirby (PM family) Tarawa and then they came to church on Sunday!! He's been telling us for 3 months they'll come to church and they haven't. But to see them was so lovely. The ward welcomed them in so easily and it was really nice to see them together, all dressed up. :)

I think that's about it for that week. 

I'm so excited for Easter! What better time to preach and testify of Christ than during the time he was resurrected?! He is our Saviour and our Redeemer. He suffered and died for us, overcoming sin for us. He was resurrected, and over came death for us. How cool is that?

Here are a couple of good readings I read this week. I love how everything that is prayerfully studied is so applicable to my current spiritual needs. 

Go Forth in Faith - Elder Perkins

It Isn't a Sin to Be Weak - Sister Ulrich

I read a scripture today that I never picked up on, but I thought was really cool. 
1 Nephi 4:3 
"Now behold ye know that this is true...wherefore can ye doubt?" 
When you know the Gospel is true, there is no room for doubt. There is not point in doubting. Truth is truth. and that's what the Gospel is. Why doubt?

I hope you're all doing well. I'm praying for Poh Poh and for all of you. 

Have a great week and a great Easter!!! 


Sister Lew

Monday, March 23, 2015


After months of trial after trial after trial, Jenni made the decision to be baptised. It was a beautiful service. She's a funny one...we spent most of the week helping her prepare for her baptism. She was worrying and crying most of the time, but then she realised she feels good about her decision. I will admit, I was getting really frustrated because she started panicking over the frilly stuff about the baptism, like what to wear, how to do her hair, the food, etc. and I was thinking to myself, none of that matters. What matters is that you want to follow our Saviour, Jesus Christ. What matters is the ordinance that allows us to have eternal life with our Heavenly Father. But then I realised, I needed to get over myself and my pride, and just roll with it. After I was able to do that, I was heaps less tense. 

Our other investigators are progressing really well. We taught Laura, June, and Jason this week and they're awesome! Seriously, Heavenly Father knows what he's doing. As Sister Weiss and I've met with our investigators, we've been able to see how Heavenly Father has prepared them to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, the week before Laura met us, she told her parents that she wanted to go to Church, but didn't really know how to go about it. One week later, she met us on the side of the road, on the way to her car, which was in a random place where she doesn't usually park. She was wearing a New York City shirt which was a conversation starter because Sister Weiss is from there. She told us how she knows that meeting us was no coincidence. I know that Heavenly Father is placing us in the path of His children. 
After teaching Jason, I realised my Chinese is really bad again, so I need to really start working on it now that we have Chinese investigators...

What else has happened...

We went visiting teaching with 2 older ladies in our ward. They're so cute!  I love old people :)

We had pretty good trainings this week. One was on how we use our time during Sacrament meeting. The Sacrament is not only for us to renew our baptismal covenant, but all of the covenants we have made with God. It's a time to really think about our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and how we can improve ourselves through the strength that Christ gives us. 
We had another training on having mountains to climb. When we pray for things, especially spiritual gifts, we have typically given trials to push ourselves so we can attain these things. When we endure through trials faithfully, we will be blessed. 

One thing that's stuck out a lot to me since being in Newcastle is that Satan is real. There is opposition in ALL things. We've had 8 baptisms this year so far in our ward. Although so many miracles are happening with the ward and the people we teach, there are so many things that get in the way and try to pull us away from the work. Gossip, rumours, temptation to sin, pride, etc. have been way more apparent and have tried to stop the work from going on. It is absolutely insane and it causes so much stress. I get really frustrated when we try so hard, but our results aren't great. Then I realised, Christ has already suffered for that. He's taken away the pains and suffering of the world so that we don't have to experience it. And he did it for EVERY single person, one by one. 

I can't believe Easter is coming up. It is a great way to reflect on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and that because of Him, we are able to overcome our faults and shortcomings and are able to overcome death. 

I'm so excited for Easter!!! We have a pretty awesome program set for that. It's also invitation Sunday. The area is encouraging everyone to invite someone to church for that Sunday...I would also like to make that same invitation to you! Invite someone new to church for Easter. Sharing the Gospel can sometimes seem hard, but a simple invitation is so easy! If they say no, that's okay, because we won't be held accountable for trying!

I think that's about it for now. I love you all heaps! Have a great week!

Sister Lew

Hello - March 16


Last week was the biggest roller coaster...emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. ...and I guess physically. Considering the amount of blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies I ate, I lost 1 kg! WOOHOO

Me and Sister Remington

We had a rocky start to the week. On Tuesday, we had trade offs with the travelling sisters, so I was with Sister Remington from South Jordan, Utah. She is the biggest sweetheart ever and I love her!! She and I actually had a great day. We found new investigators, contacted formers, had heaps of good finding. She might be going to BYU after her mission, so I'm excited!!! I learned so much from her. One of the things I really took away from our trade off was "The spirit of the law overrides the letter of the law"...so be obedient, but make sure that we're trusting the spirit more than anyone else in terms of what we do.  The other sisters had quite a rough day with our investigators, especially the Rayments and Jenni. Satan works so hard when people are making the right decisions in their lives. Jenni is facing so much opposition from everyone that she loves and cares about. And the Rayments are really struggling temporally. It's really hard to see people that we love struggle and start making bad decisions again. It's so freaking hard. And it's heart-breaking because you want what's best for them because you love them so much. Sister Weiss and I had a really emotional evening where we feel like every thing was going right and then Satan just came in and attacked. Thankfully, Brother Boeree, our Ward Mission Leader, and his wife are super supportive and can always uplift us. 

We went to Meet the Mormons with basically the whole ward, which was awesome! It was so weird being in a movie theater...we got popcorn and peanut m&m's. The movie was so good!!! My goodness, I got so emotional during the last story about the missionary mom. Watching her son open his call, pack his bags, shop at University Mall at Mr. Mac...it was all so familiar and I just cried and cried and thought to myself, I volunteered to leave my family, what did I do to myself??
Then I checked back in and realised I'm here to do the Lord's work and I'm so grateful that I can do it. He has called me to serve. 
If you haven't seen it, go watch it!! 

Because of our rough night, we knew we were going to be blessed and see miracles the next day. We did some tracting and street contacting and have 5 new awesome investigators! One of them even came to Stake Conference!! She's awesome and is so prepared for the Gospel. She has all the right questions and you can just feel the spirit radiate from her. It's amazing. 

Speaking of Stake Conference, we had amazing meetings! Elder Haleck from the Seventy came. The themes of conference were 'Hastening the Lord's work of salvation' and 'Faith in Jesus Christ'...two amazing themes that have really hit home since being on a mission. These are things that not just missionaries, but everyone can really apply to their lives. Sister Howes read the lyrics to 'Come unto Christ' and they were so powerful. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. He provided a way for us to attain eternal life with our Heavenly Father and our family. We just need to trust Him in all that we do. 

President and Sister Howes came up for Stake Conference, so it was nice to have 'mom & dad' around. Sister Howes felloweshipped for our lesson with Jenni and that was a miracle in itself. Jenni was really able to open up about what's going on and she admitted she wanted to back out at first...then she came to realise that this was right for her, and it didnt' matter what her family thought...she knows she needs the Gospel in her life. The spirit was so strong when she came to that realisation in front of us. My goodness..I can't even express how much joy and tears there were in that lesson. 

Other than that...life is good. The Parkes' and the Metcalf's have been really amazing. Sister Parkes had us over twice this week with our investigators. She made us waffles and they were the best waffles I ever had...actually Dave, her husband did, they were so good. I love being in their home. The spirit is so strong and their efforts in the Lord's work are enormous.  They introduced a new sport to us that we'll have to play at FHE when I get home. Sock Wrestling...two people each have a sock on a foot and you try to get the sock off the other person before they get yours. It's crazy. 

Oh yeah, we also have another investigator, June! She's from the Soloman islands and her bf in Fiji joined the church in November and she just moved to Newcastle and wants to learn more! She's on date for April 4th!

Life is good. and Heavenly Father is blessing us. We need to endure and rely on Christ to give us the strength to do so. If you haven't already read the March 2015 Ensign, do it! It's so good!!! 

Also, don't gossip, especially about missionaries. It just causes unnecessary problems.

I love you heaps and hope you have a great week!!

Sister Lew

Heaps of Miracles - March 9th

This week went by so fast. It's probably been one of the fastest weeks in my entire 8 months of serving (8!!!!!!) We've been discouraged, but not nearly as much as we've been blessed! We had heaps of miracles!!

Miracle #1 Jenni has decided to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptised!
She's been putting it off forever because her doctor said she can't make any decisions because of her brain injury. But she knows this is what she needs to do. She rang us while we were walking back to our car from Newcastle Uni, and she said she wants to talk to us about baptism. Sister Weiss and I froze dead in our tracks. We told her we would be right over before our next appointment that evening. After we got off the phone, we dropped to our knees in the middle of the sidewalk and prayed to thank Heavenly Father, ask for His help and guidance to know what date we should set and how we're going to approach her. We were excited but so nervous. You never know what you're going to get with Jenni. She told us she told her family about her decision and she wants to be baptised. She feels like she's a part of the ward family already, but she just hasn't been baptised. We prayed about it and committed her to be baptised on March 21! She is SO ready. We left there feeling confident that she will be baptised, but also very confident and aware of the adversary against us. Sister Weiss and I looked at each other in the car and said we need to do ALL that we can to uplift her. It's amazing how hard Satan works...but we work harder. We still haven't figured out why he hasn't given up yet. 

Part 2 of this miracle...We had a very depressing morning. We met with our investigator, Vicki, who lives in a shelter and her daughter was taken away from her, her oldest son has a mental disease from doing too much ice, and her other son brought home his 16 year old girlfriend of 2 days to move in with them. She's stressed  and unsure of what to do in her life. We explained how the Atonement helps us and when we put our trust in God first, everything will work out. I know this concept is almost impossible to grasp when you're in such a hard temporal situation, but the Gospel will really bless your life. We left there not knowing how to help her if she wasn't willing to help herself. We were silent for an hour. Our day progressively got a tad better as we continued to work, and then we got Jenni's phone call!! 

Miracle #2 Alex got baptised! She was taught by the elders. Alex is so prepared to receive the Gospel. She's probably the most prepared person I've met. She's 18, adorable, vegan, and so ready to go on a mission. We've had heaps of good talks with her about the Gospel and she sees it blessing her life already. She recognizes how important it is and she just wants to share it with everyone. Her baptismal service was really simple and beautiful. Evelyn Parkes (she's the most bold 9 year old you will ever meet) gave a smash talk on baptism. Then Bianca (recent convert who's coming off of methadone) gave a sweet talk too. Jenni gave a talk on Enduring to the End and killed it! (She's already giving talks and she's not even a member yet!) It was just a really nice service. Sister Weiss, Marlies (recently returned missionary), and I sang 'When I am Baptised'. We had a rough start, but it turned out okay. I made up this random alto part and it didn't completely suck! 

Miracle #3 Shane Tarawa was taken off his respirator last Sunday, and everyone thought we were going to lose him, but now he's breathing on his own, out of ICU, and is recovering!! After much praying, fasting, and patience, the family is more at peace. It's amazing to see how much the family has grown spiritually throughout this entire journey. Elder Haleck of the Seventy will be meeting with the whole family before Stake conference this weekend, so that will be really cool. There are heaps of inactive and non-baptised members of that family, but they all know the Gospel is true. The ones that are active are incredible examples to us all. I hope this devotional will really help them recognise the spirit in their lives. I love the Tarawa's, they take such good care of us. 

Miracle #4 Okay, it's not a huge miracle, but it's something exciting. We got permission to watch Meet the Mormons because it's coming to Newcastle in theatres! So tomorrow evening, we will be watching a movie in the theatre with popcorn. As a missionary, I cannot express how exciting this will be. #missionarylife

I also had heaps of good studying this week! Here are a couple things I really enjoyed reading

"Missionary work and the Atonement" - Elder Holland
"Beware of Pride" - Ezra Taft Benson
"Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness" - Quinton L. Cook

One of the biggest lessons I learned this week (and I've been learning everyday for the past 8 months) is endurance and obedience are key to success as a missionary. There are so many times where we just want to give up but we remember how important this work is and we continue to do it, no matter how tired, bored, stressed, or discouraged we are. When we are obedient and endure, we will be blessed and rewarded for our works. I see it everyday. Heavenly Father loves us and he's very aware of our needs. He knows what we are capable of and gives us the strength to do whatever it is that comes our way. 

I hope you all have a great week! I love you heaps!!

Sister Lew

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Madness

Bar Beach
A couple items of business:

CONGRATULATIONS, CHRISSY!!!  I'm so proud of you!! You're going to med school!! YAY!!! 

Have fun on interim, Jess!! :)

Alex, you're cool too I guess. I love you!!!

Mom and Dad, you two are the best parents any kid can ask for.  zhi shi zhenshide. 

Also, congratulations to everyone who got into BYU Provo (TayTay, Stevie, and Jackson!!!!!!!)) I'm so proud of you all!!! and I can't wait to kick it with y'all next year! 

And Yay, I'm going to have a new cuz!! Congrats to the Takasaki's!!!

Happy March! 

We were blessed to see Tori enter the waters of baptism on Saturday!! YAY! It was a great service, especially with her parents being there. They're Seventh Day Adventists, and really enjoyed it. It was really beautiful.

Tori and her husband Mark
The Rayments are doing alright. We're really focusing on Dallas and Peter, but they slept in and didn't come to church. A member of the bishopric went to pick them up and they had just woken up, he ended up coming 10 mins late to sacrament and we felt SO bad!! *Don't get upset with missionaries when they ask you to do something and it doesn't go right and ends up being inconvenient* We do feel bad, but there's nothing we can do about it. Just love us and feed us and help us with referrals! :) Hahah but I do understand how important the member-missionary relationship is. Building that trust with each other is REALLY important!!! I love the members of Newcastle Ward. They've become like family to me and I'm grateful for their support in the ward's missionary efforts. 

Our investigator Joni with her arm around me
This week, I will admit, was not my best week in the field. I was distracted a lot of the time, angry, upset, but at the same time, I was also so joyful, at peace, and comforted.
After I received the news about the Lee's, I just laid on my bed, face in pillow, screamed, and cried. Then afterwards, I got up, started reading the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and felt so much better afterwards. Sister Weiss asked me what I thought Jesus would do if he were in this situation, and I wasn't too sure how to respond. I said something like "let me mourn, but give me comfort" and she said "yes, but I know that he would give you a blessing". So we took those words and put it into action. We called up the District Leader, Elder Ezra, and went to their flat for a blessing. It was really beautiful and I felt so much peace afterwards. Heavenly Father is VERY aware of us individually and He LOVES and CARES for us. He gives us peace, comfort, and HOPE during times of adversity and trial. I know this to be true because I have experienced it this week. If you're really struggling, and if you have faith that God will help you, then ask for a Priesthood blessing. I'm telling you, it helps heaps!!! I've been reminded through people, scriptures, testimonies, and through the Holy Ghost that God loves us so much that he's given us knowledge that there IS more after death. Death is no where near the end, but it's a state of separation. There are things we will never quite understand in this mortal life, but when we trust in the Lord, we know that everything will be okay. All that is unfair about life will be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

So here are a couple things that have helped me throughout the week, and I hope they can be of some benefit to you as well

"When you choose to follow God and keep His commandments, you grow in wisdom and strength of character. You can experience joy even in times of trial, and you can face life's challenges with a spirit of peace". 

"Silently we pray for courage to accept thy will, to listen & obey. We love thee, Lord, our hearts are full. We'll walk thy chosen way"

D&C 123:17
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

D&C 133:53
In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love , and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old; 

Christ will lift us up when we rely on Him. I can't express any further how powerful the Atonement is in our lives. We can't control what happens in our lives, but we have the ability to control how we face and endure the things that happen. 

I've had to take a step back and reflect and remember how blessed I am. We drove up to a look out point of bar beach on a beautiful day. Good and bad things happen to us, but we can look around us and remember how beautiful the world is despite the bad things that happen. 

Australia is beautiful, the people are amazing. I really do love them.

Lake in Pelican
Bar Beach
View from our apartment on the 6th floor
Other things that have happened.

We got a phone call saying we have to park our car as a punishment because we accidentally left it unlocked at the Elder Bednar conference, Sister Weiss had a Red Bull for the long drive down, and apparently that's not allowed, and then for the 'mess' it was...we had food in a grocery bag in the back for the ride down. Oh well, that's good! So we'll be on foot for 4 days within the next two weeks. We walked to the chapel and back, which was a solid 5 km. That doesn't sound so bad until it's hot, you're in a skirt and church shoes, heavy bag and scriptures up a steep hill….

I don't drive in Australia but I pump gas!
During MCM, our WML was saying how protected we are as missionaries. He was telling us his thoughts while he fellowshipped for one of the families we were teaching. They live in a dodgey as area..like you wouldn't go there if you didn't have to. It's not pretty. The first thing that came to his mind was, "where are the exits, how could I escape, and if something happens, I have a sister under each arm and we'll go out that door"...and then he looks at us and how calm and chill we are about it all and just start playing with the kids. It's so true, we are protected. I know we have angels watching over us. 

Anyways, that's about it. I'm becoming bogan....#strayamate.
Being a Novocastrian is fun. 

I love you all heaps. 

Sister Lew