G'day from the Northern Territory!
This week has been awesome! Again, shout-out to those who wrote me via email or letters (I got letters from Mom and Grandma the same P-Day I wrote home actually... just didn't check the mail until later...). So I've got to answer some questions first, and then I'll tell about the week. There are 10 missionaries in my district, and the district and zone are the same thing (we're getting a pair of Sister missionaries and a Senior Couple come transfers [the end of this week]- YAY!!!). We're split into five areas- Nakara (Elders Covey and Rapana [the Zone Leaders]), Nightcliff (Elders Bennett and Falla), Darwin City (Elders Hawkes and Villierme-Puputauki), Palmerston (Elders Nay and Lunt), and then Malak (Elder Lacanivalu and me). The Darwin Branch is about 200-250 members strong (near 1,000 inactive if memory serves [we're working on that...]), and there are a handful of pretty solid members- they come out with us to appointments and help out a lot as far as missionary work is concerned (Heaven knows, missionary work is -in all reality- done mostly in part by members [or it should be]; missionaries are the harvesters and teachers- it's up to the members to continue to fellowship, teach, and strengthen -or retain- those that the missionaries find). I haven't eaten anything else exotic and I'm still working up the courage to try vegamite- even got instructions on how to make a vegamite sandwich... I'm just not sure that eating a vegamite sandwich is condusive to missionary work (some Elders can't really handle how awful it is [and even Aussie's don't like vegamite]).
So, on to this week's report! I hope some questions were answered... anyway, this week has been HARD. "Master, the Tempest is Raging" has been the theme of this week, and seems to be the recurring theme for missionary work. This is easily the hardest thing I have ever done- mentally and psychologically it is so hard... to those preparing for missions, it is hard. You may think you know, but you have NO idea just how hard it is. President Carter came up this week from Adelaide for Specialized Training, and he told Elder Laca and I as we headed to a backup, "The ZAAM (Zion Australia Adelaide Mission) is a man's mission" and he went on to explain that LOTS of Elders and Sisters go home from this mission because they can't take it. It is hard; I have questioned every single thing I know to be true in just the 5 weeks that I've been in Darwin; my faith has been tried again and again and again; my conviction has been tested past any limit I thought even remotely possible. Satan hits the missionaries up here with a concentrated effort, and he hits HARD. The mission. Is. Not. EASY! Again, I'm reminded of Elder Holland and President Eyring's video "Missionary Work and the Atonement"- I wish we had that up here because there have been times when I've needed to watch that and play it over ten times just to get the motivation to get out of the flat and keep on keeping on. It is a battleground up here and it is not an easy-going skirmish- this is all out war with the adversary and he doesn't just attack those we teach or those we hope to find, he attacks the missionaries and he does it without relenting EVER; I haven't gone more than five minutes without some kind of onslaught. It is mentally exhausting, to say nothing of the physical effort it demands. My body really doesn't like me, but I'm pretty sure I have the strength to "crush man's skull between thighs". Speaking of which, we get fed very well... am I fat? Oh no! No no no no no no!!!! I work out every morning (mostly abs and anything I can think of to burn fat) but I guess it isn't working. All of my clothing still fits (my shirts are starting to look pretty rough... trophies of war)... more jumping jacks...
Well,evening my companion and I found 3 potentials in the space of an hour in the same flat complex. That number may not be large compared to other areas and other missions, but for Malak, that is nothing short of a miracle and a blessing. Elder Laca and I are soaking it up- we're so excited for this week! Our zone broke Darwin's previous record for new investigators this week as well- 25 new investigators in a week! That hasn't happened since 2008! My overall opinion of the week- Satan hates missionaries, missions are more psycholigically challenging than anyone who hasn't been on one knows, and I am SO excited for this week! I still don't even have half of my area memorized but hey, as my companion has been trying to teach me, "Don't worry about it!" (I worry about hundreds of things that are not in my power... old habits die hard). But the work goes on and we are pumped this week, we're going to really smash it!