Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 8, 2017

Sorry bout that

So I planned on sending an email a few days ago, but I was feeling so wrecked I put it off. And now it's been like a week and a half since my last email, soo...yeah.
The weekend after I emailed last we had a p-day for once in a couple weeks. We went to one of the biggest shopping centers in Australia, a place called Pacific Fair. At first I was pretty cool with going. Sounded like a fun adventure. But in my haste I forgot how expensive clothes are, and so after about half an hour of being there I was so bored. We were going from store to store just saying "oh, this hat is cool.....40 dollars." "hey check out this cool t-shirt....oh, 60 bucks" "man this suit is sweet...400 dollars okay we're out of here" But we ended up hanging around for a few hours. It wasn't all a waste though, because we got some lunch which was pretty delicious, so ha.
This last week I don´t have much to report besides having zone conferences. Monday was spent all day preparing for them, getting supplies together and printing stuff out and all that, then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were all at conferences. I really should've taken pictures with my previous comps but I'm pretty useless, ha. This last couple of days, we watched general conference. A week late, per the norm here in Australia. I really liked a couple of the talks. I noticed a lot of them talked about how we should never look down on others, church leaders, fellow members, or non members, based on perceived shortcomings. It´s never our place to discount others based on race, economic or social background, age, etc etc. We got to watch the Saturday sessions with the assistants and President and Sister McSwain at the mission home, which was fun. Except for priesthood session, I guess. We went to Kangaroo Point to watch that with the rest of the priesthood in the stake. I will definitely try to find interesting things to do this week. Actually well now that I think about it we´re taking a 8 hour road trip up to Rockhampton to swap a couple cars with the elders up there, so that´ll be fun. Yay!
Elder Cummings

September 28, 2017

Okee doke

Ok let me smash this out real fast. It's been longer than usual because this last week was week 6/week 1 of the transfer, so that comes with a looooot of work to do. Just last week we moved three flats, went to a couple baptisms, fun stuff. We didn't have time for a pday last week because we were also doing lots of office work getting ready to switch the mission over for transfers. Fun stuff! Because you are probably very interested, we do things like: update the contacts on the mission smartphones (only used by president and sister mcswain, the senior missionaries, us, the assistants, etc etc), update the "transfer board" or basically this document that has pictures of all the missionaries and what area they're in, make call sheets for all the zone leaders and sister training leaders, with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the missionaries, organize supplies (Book of Mormons, pamphlets, mail, etc) to give to missionaries at transfers on Monday, stuff like that. 
Sunday was Elder Bank's last day as an office elder/being in the Enoggera area so we visited a few people for him to bid farewell to.
And then Monday, it all started. It was a big transfer this time around. Kangaroo Point (the chapel/temple where we meet) was swarming with missionaries. Luckily everything went well, there were no casualties and no missionaries that disappeared. The rest of the day we spent pretty much at the mission home with the departing missionaries. One of them, Elder Clawson, I served in the same district my first area so I've known him my entire mission, it's pretty weird to see him go. Elder Vea and I served in the same district for 5 transfers up north about a year ago, so we were pretty good friends. Tuesday was a relatively regular day in that we tried to cram as much office work as we could in a few hours since we weren't going to have any time Wednesday or Thursday to do it.
Wednesday was the big day when the new missionaries come in. This intake was a good size. A couple of Americans, a Canadian, an Australian, a couple Chinese, a couple Fijians. Good bunch. Basically how that works is we pick them all up from the airport, bring them to the mission office, take them to the bank to withdraw money for their bikes, they get oriented on driving and fill out heaps of paperwork at the office, we take them to the mission home, they have lunch, then a meeting with President and Sister McSwain, they meet their trainers, we take pictures, they get their bikes, take their cars, and go. By the time all was said and done it was about 5 or so. That night we had to prepare for MLC which was yesterday. We were up til two in the morning getting ready for it.
MLC was really good, we had it at Karawatha, the biggest chapel in the mission, as opposed to where we usually have it at Kangaroo Point, which is one of the smallest. There was a couple technical problems in that we forgot a soundboard which is something we really need for those but other than that it all went well. Going it alone without Elder Banks, who was an office elder for 10 months, just means it was inevitable something would go wrong at some point. Here is a video I made when I was bored ​


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19, 2017

Anotha one

Well in case you were wondering, we're still busy, haha. I don't have any pictures to send this time because I just figured I'd get pictures from my companions when I wanted them, and I haven't gotten around to it yet. For a quick summary, let me just say: 
So much moving. So moving missionary flats isn't an uncommon thing, but it just so happens that 4 or 5 moves have fallen in the same week. So a lot of it's been that. Another big part is that a Thursday-Saturday last week was a zone conference for all the senior missionaries in the ABM. Per the norm we helped out setting up tech and helping President prepare his presentations and things. Friday we gave a quick training on how to do some tech things senior missionaries are always asking us how to do, like downloading Mormon messages and using Gospel Library. Fun stuff. We also did some service washing one of the members' dogs. 
Another fun errand we got to run: taking one of the mission vans to an auto auction place. Let me tell you a little bit about this van. It was basically a death machine before we turned it in. We needed to use it quite a bit to take bigger items that couldn't fit in our car like fold up tables and boxes of supplies and things. But this van was missing some rather necessary features, such as:
1. A rearview mirror.
2. Working headlights
3. Working turn signals
Besides that there were also a couple things that were missing like the door handle on the drivers side back door. Overall we're glad to be rid of it because pretty soon we'll be getting a new van. 
We did actually get to do some teaching this week too! And it's with a totally solid family too! We got a referral from a member to visit a Burmese family her kids go to school with. We went last week and taught them the restoration and the whole family, both parents and six kids were there listening. Unfortunately the kids are the only ones who speak any English but it was such a good lesson. They even came to church on Sunday and stayed all three hours! The kids had a fun time and even though the mom and dad couldn't understand anything they told us they were just glad their kids could understand and enjoy it. Today we visited them again, and taught the plan of salvation but also tied a little bit of the gospel of Jesus Christ into it. It's hard teaching simply to kids, especially when we don't get to teach much in general, but the kids were really paying attention and asking questions. When we asked if they wanted to get baptized all the kids but one said yes and two of them even shot their hands into the air. Sadly one of them is only 7 but that's ok. We're really happy to be teaching this family and although the church doesn't have a Book of Mormon in their language we're hoping somehow we can involve the parents more as well. But that's it! thanks for reading hope you have a great week. :)
Elder Cummings

September 12, 2017

Anotha one

Ok so this last week, the main highlight was golden orientation. Which is when we take all the new missionaries (we call them goldens instead of greenies because of their "golden" missionary spirit) to Kangaroo Point, where there's the temple and a chapel and they get hours of training from President and the assistants, we do some GQing (street contacting) on the way to a restaurant, have dinner, sleep at a hotel, wake up in the morning and do some tough exercise, then do more trainings and role playing before going home. Thursday was when all the goldens came in. It was a lot of fun. I hadn't been to a golden orientation since my own, so it was really interesting because it's with a new mission president and everything. Well he's not new at this point but my golden orientation was with the last mission president a month or two before he went home. So yeah, around noon the trainers came and dropped off their goldens. We office elders gave a training on why we call them goldens but besides that most of the talking was done my President McSwain and the assistants. Then we street contacted on our way to dinner I gotta tell you this funny story though.
So one of our responsibilities is to film, among other things, the goldens GQing people on the way to dinner because we put them in a video. At one point the group has scattered throughout this big park talking to people. Now this was my first time doing anything like this so I probably wasn't as discreet as I should have been filming people with my camcorder. It was hard to make it pretty un-obvious. Anyways I'm filming this one group from a fair distance away, and then the guy the missionaries were talking to turns and looks right at me, turns back to the missionaries and says something, and then they all turn and look straight at the camera. I'm like "crap" and try to play it off by moving the camera and filming other things "wow, what a tree" and "look at those birds" like I was a nature cameraman or something. I talked to that group later and they said the guy was asking them why he was being filmed and they successfully played it off by telling him I was filming the sunset behind them. So-crisis averted. 
I wasn't expecting to stay in the hotel but alas- we received that privilege. Not much to report there other than it was the place we slept for the night and had breakfast in the morning. Oh but before breakfast the assistant led the goldens in doing "snap gravity" (the mission's exercise program). The name comes from the last mission president. He wanted the missionaries' exercise to be so intense it would "snap gravity." Our last mission president was really into being healthy, so that definitely did a lot of good for me because before my mission I was pretty slack with exercise. Our job was to run around and film the missionaries running, jumping, doing push ups, stuff like that. Then after breakfast and everything it was back to the chapel for more training and role playing. We filmed them doing role plays. 
The night after golden orientation we went to the Chinese branch's game night, which was fun because they always have heaps of investigators there that are fun to talk to. We had stake conference over the weekend. At the priesthood leadership session Saturday afternoon the pianist job was delegated to me when we arrived. I don't mind playing for stuff just as long as I play easy enough hymns. Fortunately they were ones that were easy enough except for one. That night was the adult session, and Sunday morning was the main session. It was interesting though, because the Kangaroo Point chapel is the Brisbane stake center but it's one of the smallest chapels ever (exaggerated, obviously, but anyways). So because they don't have enough room for everyone we had the general stake conference we met at the Brisbane city hall, which had plenty of space for everyone. We got to ride a catamaran boat down to it, which was fun (us and the assistants). I have a few pictures for that but it was really windy so that's why I have anime hair.
Yesterday we went outdoor laser tagging again, and that night had FHE at the mission home with President and Sister McSwain and the Eight Mile Plains Zone because they surpassed their baptisms goal last month. That was really fun. But why they have a place called Eight MILE Plains in a country that only uses kilometers is beyond me. Today we moved a flat, which was tough work. That's another one of the things we help out with and I'm surprised how often we have flats moving around. We're moving another one tomorrow. Wow, busy week.
Elder Cummings 

September 6, 2017

a free minute

I just realized I have a free minute in the office, so...when that time comes, it´s a good time to shoot off an email! Since it´s been a while, I´ll just go over a couple of highlights. We had our mission leadership council last Tuesday, so that took up a large chunk of our day. I only went to one as a zone leader so it was interesting being on the other side, because rather than being a part of the council I was setting up mics, running presentations, etc etc. 
Thursday was busy because the mission president / wife and the assistants went up to Cairns for zone conferences and district conferences with the branches. I was a little bummed I couldn´t go because Cairns was one of my previous zones, the one I spent 5 transfers in, so I would´ve been able to see lots of members I knew up there, but that´s okay. When they all flew back down yesterday they told me a few of the Atherton members wanted to pass on their love so that was enough. Anyways back to the reason Thursday was busy was because the president and the assistants´flights were at different times so it was a lot of running back and forth to the airport, which luckily is only 10 or 15 minutes away from the mission office. +
Friday night we went to the Chinese branch´s game night. One of my comps, Elder Morris, was called with a chinese speaking assignment so he was serving in that capacity before he came into the office. But he´s our link what the Chinese members/recent converts who we actually spend a decent amount of time with going and getting Chinese food for dinner and stuff like that. Game night was fun, we played a game basically like mafia but they called it werewolf. Luckily it was in English so I wasn´t completely lost.
Monday we helped move a sisters´ flat with a few other elders, so that took a couple hours. But then we went with some elders from a different zone to spend p day with them at an outdoor laser tag place. That was honestly one of the funnest things I´ve done on my mission. We played for like 4 hours at different game modes and things. We even wore camo jumpsuits and everything. The reason I´m not wearing one in one of the pictures is because we had just finished and I had already taken mine off. About the other picture, I have no idea why I look like I have a messed up jaw. Besides that, it´s been busy trying to fixing broken things like the mission website for ordering supplies and putting together videos, which is fun. So yeah! There´s my week. Until next time!
Elder Calvin Cummings

Sunday, September 3, 2017

August 28, 2017

like a dream

Lemme just tell ya, all the days here in the office just float by like they're nothing. But I'll just get right into what's happened since last time I emailed, which was like the 17th I think. Friday and Saturday we did our baptism rounds. It's super fun getting to go around the mission to support at baptisms. On Saturday me and one of the assistants, Elder Smoot (who was my zone leader for 2 transfers and we are distant cousins) went to Toowoomba, a small town a couple hours out of Brisbane to the west. The drive was nice. Elder Smoot came from a farm so he was so excited to see all the farms on the way out, he took like 50 pictures on my camera because his ran out of battery. 
That night the assistant's ward had a cake auction ward activity that we went to as well. That was super fun. Elder Smoot was the auctioneer. But the coolest part was a member from Bracken Ridge (my first area) was there with his family! We would go to work out in his garage almost every morning when I was in the Bracken Ridge area and he would come out on lots of lessons with us. He was surprised to see that me and Elder Banks were companions again (since we were companions in Bracken Ridge over a year ago). 
Sundays are busy because that's when call ins are, plus we update the baptismal records for the mission and things, so we were in the office most of the day besides church. I guess that would've been my first time to church in this area (Enoggera). It's in the same chapel as Bunya Forest (the ward I served in 3 or 4 months ago) so I saw a couple members during the crossover gap. The ward's really nice. 
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we had ZONE CONFERENCES. Busy busy busy. Each day was basically the same routine: show up to the chapel (it was a different one each day) about an hour before the conference, set up the laptop and projector, microphones, etc and get supplies (Book of Mormons, pamphlets, mail, etc) ready for the zones who needed them. The zone conferences themselves were great. They were focused on the Book of Mormon. We watched a devotional Elder Bednar gave at the MTC a couple months ago, which was awesome. He went into this super deep scripture discourse about how Alma compares the word to a seed, how Jesus Christ is the Word, and the Word (or seed) can grow in us, tying in the fact that as we follow the example of Jesus Christ, He grows in us. He also tied in the tree of life from Lehi's dream. Just overall a cool insight I had never thought of before. 
Tuesday night we had dinner at the mission president's house. First time for that but I don't think it'll be the last. 
On Thursday night we went to an Asian food court. The area of the city it's in has a very dense asian population so all the shops and stores and things are run by asians, all the signs are asian, etc etc, and one of my companions, Elder Morris, was assigned to the Chinese program (originally before he came into the office) so he's our in with the Chinese people. So I did this super embarrassing thing. Apparently it's super offensive to chefs in Chinese culture to stick your chopsticks straight up in the food they give you, but I didn't know that, so when we were about to bless the food after sitting down in the food court I just stuck them in my rice for convenience and Elder Morris, plus a couple of Chinese recent converts that were eating with us, panicked and were telling me "quick! quick! Take them out! take them out!" Oh man.
Friday we took a p-day since we hadn't had an official one in a couple weeks. We went to a coastal area called Noosa and went on a walk along the coast (but not along the beach, don't worry, it was kosher). It was sooooo cool. I'll attach pics.
Saturday was another round of baptisms, besides running a couple of errands since I traded off with Elder Fukofuka, the other assistant (who was my zone leader for 4 transfers). We had to drive a car to a senior couple, so while he drove our car I drove the car for them by myself for like half an hour. It was weird. Then we went to check out a flat with a rental agent that the mission might be moving missionaries into. One of the baptisms we went to later was one of my old companions, Elder Malobago. It wasn't in my old area but just one of my old companions. Sunday was church, coordination meeting and such, and SUnday office work. Today was a busy day as well, every monday morning we have staff meeting, we also had to organize some supplies we got in the mail, do weekly reports, and prepare for mission leadership council this week. Sorry for the long email, but hope it's somewhat entertaining! I'll attach some pictures of driving to toowoomba, noosa, Napa (the B-ridge member we came across), dolphins we saw at noosa, and a couple others.​​ Since it's too big to attach them all, I'll put them in a drive folder which you might not be able to get access to. In that case I hope mom just posts the pictures somewhere. Ok bye!​

August 18, 2017

big changes underway

So hey everyone this last week and a bit has been awesome. Unfortunately it was my last week in the Redland Bay area because Saturday I got transferred to the mission office as an "office elder." So there's already a few senior missionaries working at the office but they also have a couple full time missionaries serve as office elders to help with setting up technology for zone conferences and things like that, basically helping the mission run. My last week in Redland Bay wasn't too exciting. It was really sad to go though. I was only there for one transfer. I didn't even get to say goodbye to anyone because I got the call Friday night and transferred Saturday morning. Elder Hymas and I were pretty bummed I was leaving already but I was super excited about being in the office. What's cool though is the missionary I trained, Elder Bullock will be his new companion in Redland Bay.
Since Saturday things have been a blur. Because we do heaps more than just sitting in the office all day. Saturday we went with the assistants to different baptisms around the mission to support. On Sunday President McSwain (mission president), the temple president, an area authority seventy and all the stake presidents in QLD had a council meeting. We had to set up microphones and video to broadcast to the district presidents in the far north like Townsville and Cairns and the like.
Monday is generally p day but us and the assistants get to do p day stuff whenever we can find the time since a lot of Mondays we don't get around to shopping and emailing. But Monday was transfers, so we had to be at the Kangaroo Point chapel/temple/base of operations to make sure everything went smoothly in terms of getting bikes and cars and supplies to all the right places. Then the rest of the day we spent at the mission home with the missionaries going home the next day. One of those was Elder Adams, who's from Herriman too. So that makes me the last missionary repping Herriman in the ABM! We filmed each of them giving some departing counsel and things that we put together in a video.
Tuesday was district meeting. I was in the same district only two transfers ago and yet almost everyone has changed except for Elder Iufoni, one of my previous companions who's still in Bunya Forest (where I was with him a couple transfers ago). It was also the day I finally got to unpack my stuff since getting there on Saturday!! Man, it is a busy life now. The days just blur together.
Wednesday was equally busy because we missionaries! Now THAT was an interesting experience because it brought back a lot of memories from my first day in Australia. The routine is the office elders, assistants, and President and his wife pick up the new missionaries from the airport. Then, we take them to the mission office, the whole way answering their questions about what Australia's like, how many baptisms there are, how big the spiders are, what the slang is etc etc. It was just so funny because it hasn't changed a bit since when I came in 17 months ago. Then they have a light lunch and interviews with the mission president at the office. Then we take them to the bank just down the road to withdraw cash for their bikes. Then we drive them to the mission home where we hang out for a bit and have a big meal and the goldens (new missionaries) have a "golden transfer meeting" with President and Sister McSwain. The whole time we are making sure all the cars and luggage and bikes are arranged, setting up the computer and projector for the meeting, and being ready for anything. Then they are called up one by one to meet their trainers. After which they drive off to their assigned areas though. It was so funny though, because this intake of missionaries were mostly from the States, and the look on their faces when they were told that all but one of them would start driving right away was priceless (with driving being on the other side of the road here). Soooo funny. 
The last couple days have been a lot of preparing for zone conferences next week. It's been a blast so far. Getting to be around the assistants and the mission president on a daily basis is really cool. Plus being in a trio is nice, especially because one of my companions is Elder Banks, who was actually my second companion! Who gets to serve with one of their favourite companions twice?! Sorry its a big email, honestly I'm not even sure if I'll be able to email regularly anymore, it might be a week or two weeks in between emails. Either way, love you all!
Elder Cummings

1. Touch rugby w/ the boys
2. da office elders
3. the internet went out at the office so this is Elder banks trying to find the network box in the ceiling
4. next day the internet was still out so we were studying tongan until it was fixed

5. The internet was taking longer than we thought so we went to the mission home to work and talked with President McSwain about zone conf.