We had some really great devotionals this week. On Sunday the President of UVU, Matthew Holland (also the son of Elder Holland), visited us and talked about some of the lesser-known struggles the Prophet Joseph Smith endured. When he was young, their family experienced a series of setbacks with the farm. Joseph Smith Sr. tried to export ginseng to China as a more reliable source of income, but a business partner took advantage of him and stole most of the profits. This left Joseph’s family in poverty and they had to sell the farm to pay their debts. From then on the Smith family moved constantly, experienced years of failed crops, and suffered from diseases such as the one that left Joseph Smith Jr. with an infected leg. The Restoration of the Church was not easy. The early Saints fought through persecution, famine, and disease because their faith was more important than anything else. When we sang “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning” and “Praise to the Man”, the context from Brother Holland’s history lesson made the hymns even more powerful. Overall it was a very informative and spiritually uplifting meeting.
Elder Neil Anderson visited us for our Tuesday devotional. The main theme from his talk was that “missionary work is not complex, but it is not easy”. He shared a powerful story about two Elders in Denmark who set a goal to have just one baptism by the end of one month. They found a family that for a couple weeks was progressing very well until they found a note at their door telling them to never come back. This family seemed like their only chance and to have them drop so suddenly was very discouraging. However, the Elders kept working hard until the end of the month even though the chances of even finding a new investigator were slim. Finally on the last night of the month at 11:00 PM they received a call from a man who had taken the discussions and wanted to be baptized while he lived in Pennsylvania. He had just been transferred to Denmark for work and wanted to know if he could still be baptized. I felt so happy for those Elders, even though it happened years ago and in a totally different mission. I can’t wait to experience for myself the joy of an investigator accepting baptism.
This past week I’ve been studying the scriptures Kolipoki-style, with the Tongan and English versions of the Book of Mormon side-by-side as well as a dictionary to make sure if a word translates literally or not. Studying this way has helped me so much with my vocabulary and grammar. It’s really interesting how sometimes a more archaic English word translates into something much simpler and more easily understood in Tongan. So not only does Kolipoki’s method help with learning Tongan, it makes the English scriptures easier to understand too.
On Wednesday Elder Mahe and I were preparing for one of our investigator lessons by searching for scripture verses about the Priesthood. Surprising to both of us, there was a lot more information on the Priesthood in the Bible than in the Book of Mormon. The week before we had studied the Plan of Salvation and the opposite was true; though the topic was discussed in both books, the Book of Mormon was much clearer and more detailed. The Book of Mormon does not replace the Bible; it supports and complements. In fact, the prophets in the Book of Mormon very often back up their words with the Bible. This experience strengthened my testimony that the Bible and the Book of Mormon go hand-in-hand as testaments of Jesus Christ.
Exciting news from home! Katie and Bridger had their first child, Ezra Robert Park. I can’t wait to see him when I get back. Congratulations and good luck to my sister and brother-in-law.
Everyone in my district is so ready to start our work in Tonga! Just one more week and I’ll start packing up my bags. Toki sio!