Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 10, 2018

This week

Ok well things have been pretty good the last week. We've been up to the same ol office stuff. A lot of helping senior missionaries with their computers. One bought a brand new Macbook Pro because her old one crashed and I was having heaps of fun setting it up for her. Every few minutes I'd find some new feature that I would get really excited about and forget what I was doing in the first place. We had a FHE at the mission home with the Eight Mile Plains zone, which was fun, and then the next couple of days were golden orientation. 
Thursday morning we set everything up at Kangaroo Point chapel (the one next door to the temple) and the rest of the day kind of runs itself. The first several hours are just full of training and stuff. In the evening we normally GQ (street contact) on the way to this restaurant, but last g,o. the food was nasty so President just asked the senior missionaries to do it. It turned out to be really good! The next day, rather than doing it at KP like normal, we had to move everything to Chermside chapel, because they were having a funeral at KP. But we still got to stay in the hotel, which is fun and the rest of golden orientation went mostly well. The Chermside chapel didn't have an HDMI cord to connect the laptop to the tv so some of the senior missonaries could do their trainings, but President saved the day when he found one in his bag.
Right after golden orientation we had to take the McSwains and the assistants to the airport. Saturday we went to a baptism down in Coomera, in the morning, in the afternoon we were helping one of the new senior couples connect their computer to their printer (it turned out to be really difficult) and then went to a baptism at KP in the YSA ward, and had a sausage sizzle on the Kangaroo Point cliffs right across the street from the temple. They have a really nice view of downtown and the Brisbane river. Sunday we had to leave church early to pick up the crew from the airport from their trip up north and had dinner at the mission home. Monday our zone had a FHE at the mission home. For those we have a barbeque and play some games and we shared our thoughts about President Monson. We actually found out right as we walked in that night Sister McSwain told us he had passed away. Tuesday we had to take a bike to a missionary, had dinner with some cool members and we met a few of the Chinese program missionaries (including my previous comp Elder Morris) at KP to give them some supplies and we ended up GQing with them for a while. We talked to some Iranian people for a while, they were pretty interested and we also talked to some Samoans doing some exercise. Wednesday we spent hardly any time in the office because we were helping out at President's interviews with the Coomera zone at KP, and then right after they had a FHE at the mission home (though it was in the afternoon) and after that we had dinner at a members. So things have been going really good. Had a lot of fun times. But it's sad to see President Monson gone. I'll always remember his selfless sacrifices and his willingness to listen to spiritual promptings. Pictures of of the Brisbane FHE, the Coomera FHE, and me and my comp Elder Sharma at golden orientation.

January 1, 2018

It's been a while

Wow, so it's been quite a while so there's a few things to catch up on. Last time I wrote we drove around the whole day getting videos of missionaries for a Christmas gift for the McSwains from us and the assistants. We just took clips of heaps of missionaries saying what they were thankful for in the McSwains. We just kind of travelled around to random areas we thought would be good to get the missionaries' input. It was kind of funny, the first area we went to was my first area, Bracken Ridge and we caught the Elders there sleeping in. 
It's been a lot of office work over the last week and a half. A lot of crunching numbers for end of year stuff. Plus we've also got to submit an annual mission history to the church so we've been compiling stuff for that. On Sunday Christmas Eve we had just sacrament meeting with Bunya Forest, the other ward that meets in the same building. I used to serve in Bunya Forest so I got to see a few of the members there I was friends with. Later that day we were splitting off with the assistants for some reason (I can't remember why) and me and Elder Hymas (who used to be my companion) went door knocking to kill some time. It had been FOUR MONTHS since I had been door knocking. Previously I had never gone without door knocking for one or two days at the most. I was soooooo rusty at it. I wasn't nervous about getting back into it but when people would answer the door my mind went BLANK. I managed to clumsily ask a couple questions about Christmas Eve before lapsing into sounding like Elder Robot or something.
We had dinner at the mission home with the assistants and President and Sister McSwain, which was really fun. Had some New York steaks, then we watched the Christmas Devotional, and lastly we exchanged some gifts. President and Sister McSwain got us sweet as ties with kangaroos on them as well as a bag of jerky. We showed them the video we made with all the missionaries and they really liked it. 
Christmas was super fun. We started with breakfast at the Amos', they're probably my favorite family in the ward. Sister Amos gave us socks with cool designs on them. Our bishop invited us for breakfast but we couldn't make it because we had to be at the office to call home. There were a couple other elders there and I had to help a Filipino elder figure out how to call internationally on the telephone since he couldn't skype. And then a couple of the elders who WERE skyping couldn't get their mics/cameras working so I can never catch a break from the tech support :) haha. 
After calling home we had lunch/dinner at the Tilyards. The wife is Tongan but the husband is Australian. The husband actually just got baptized a couple weeks ago after investigating the church for 30+ years and he's awesome as a member. They had a huge Tongan feed. My companion was super excited because they had heaps of seafood, such as prawns, lobster, oysters, and even this octopus sauce stuff. I settle for the prawns and lobsters. Oysters are really slimy going down and I didn't even want to risk the octopus stuff.
Thursday was MLC. Oh yeah, on Monday this guy came in with a suitcase and he's like "hey, uh, this is missing baggage for sister so-and-so." A sister's suitcase had gotten lost on the flight over, and several days earlier we had gone to the airport to get it when they found it, so we were confused when this guy came in with another one for the same sister. My companion took it but it wasn't until the guy was long gone that we looked at the flip flop tag on the handle and realized there was a name on the other side. IT WAS NOT THE SISTERS NAME. The phone number was American too! So it sat in the office for a few days because we weren't sure what to do with it, and no one answered the phone number. But we decided to take it back to the same place we picked up the missing luggage from and hopefully they'll be able to get it to whoever's it was.
Friday was temple day! After that our zone had interviews, but being in the office we don't really have interviews since we see President all the time, but while they do interviews each transfer they have a senior couple pull the missionaries who are going home soon into a room to do a slideshow training about things like "life goals" and "careers" and "schooling," which are totally foreign concepts to missionaries, of course. And you guessed it, as I was trying to sneak away Sister McSwain was like "wait a minute, Elder Cummings! Aren't you going home soon? Why don't you go in with the Yates for their workshop." I tried getting out of it, but failed.
Sunday night, new years eve, we had dinner at the mission home again, with the assistants and also a couple of the best senior couples in the mission, the Clydes and the Bells. We had some awesome prime rib and baked potatoes for dinner and then played rummikub until midnight. There weren't that many fireworks (because they're illegal in Australia unless you have a really hard-to-get commercial license) but it was so fun spending time. The other missionaries in the mission had to be back at their flats at 5:30 but being in the mission office team has perks B)
Oh yeah, something that was really cool that happened was a baptism on Sunday. Our mission set a goal at the beginning of the year for 500 convert baptisms. We got to this weekend and we had 9 baptisms lined up, putting us exactly at 500. Unfortunately one of those 9 investigators' sisters got really sick and had to get emergency flown to the hopsital and wanted her sister to be with her. So there we were, Saturday night with 499 baptisms. But Sunday (last day of the year) the Logan stake president got word about it and visited a Tongan family with an unbaptized child who had been coming to church for the past year and challenged him to be baptized that night. It actually went through! The attendance and program went much better than many baptisms that have been in the works for weeks. We got to go, President and Sister McSwain came, the assistants were there, as well as the whole Logan zone. It's a mission miracle! Go Polys :D
Yeah, that's pretty much all caught up. It was the mission secretary's birthday so we surprised her by decorating her desk to surprise her when she came in. So that's one of the pictures. Another is at the Tilyard's when I was drinking a coconut. The one of the car dash was on Christmas day, it was 31 degrees celsius (88 farenheit) and that's not even the hottest it got. And then one Sister McSwain took of me and Elder Sharma after MLC finished.​​ And yeah. Golden Orientation is this week so that'll be fun. Cheers mate!

December 20, 2017

Christmas in the ABM

I won't write a super long email this time, I'll just highlight the couple biggest events- ah what the heck it'll probably end up being a super long email anyways. Major event of last week was the big mission Christmas conference. It was on Thursday, but you could also say it was also Monday-Wednesday since we were preparing for it all those days. I wish I had my planner with me so I could remember what else we did but honestly the conference just absorbs my whole memory of last week. It went really well. The night before we moved all the Christmas packages from the office to Karawatha chapel, about a half hour drive. We looked like Santa delivering Christmas presents, except it was a van instead of reindeer, a trailer instead of a sleigh, and garbage bags instead of a red velvet one. And missionaries instead of santa, but they're close enough. 
Thursday morning we had to go to the chapel super early to set up, divide up the packages we had brought the previous night into zones. The first part of the conference was a devotional. There was a lot of singing Christmas hymns and readings of the Savior's birth. A couple musical performances too. Then we shared our favorite scriptures from the BoM reading challenge our mission has been doing the last couple months, which was to read the whole BOM highlighting all references to the Lord or to "the word." Then we had lunch in the cultural hall and more of the "fun" part of the conference. My companion Elder Morris played a fictional Elder Rudolf who would get "transferred" to different parts of the mission (different zones) and each zone had a Christmas song reflecting one of the cultures of that zone. So one was Aussie Jingle Bells, another was Christmas in the Islands, the Chinese zone sung "let it go" in Chinese, stuff like that. Mostly it went ok but none of the zones had much practice so the performances weren't stellar, but they were a lot of fun and made everyone laugh. And was over. We were there til 6 or so cleaning everything up. I'll share a folder of vlogs I made throughout the day.
Friday/Saturday were sad days. Transfers arrived and a pretty big group of missionaries finished their missions, many of which were good friends I had made, a couple of which were ones I had known since the beginning of my mission. In fact now that I think about it, none of the missionaries I've known my whole mission (besides the ones who came out with me) are still in the field. They've all gone home with this last outtake. Elder Banks, who I was companions with twice, went home, as well as Elder Ray, who I had shared a flat with and we got to be really good friends, Elder Smoot (my distant cousin) and Fukofuka, who were both my ZLs at one point or another and then both were the assistants when I came into the office. Then there was Elder Tonga, who I've served in the same zone with a couple times, Elder Tenney who was one of my ZLs, Elder Campbell who was my DL up north and then later my ZL, Elder Foster who I served in the same district with my second and third transfers, anyways, a lot of good Elders went home. We had dinner with them at the mission home and we got to see them off at the airport the next morning. I'll share a folder with pictures of me and those I knew at the mission home combined with a picture of some other point of my mission. I don't have a picture with Elder Foster from the beginning of my mission and I didn't get a picture with Elder Fukofuka at the mission home but all the same, they were good friends.
We didn't get a break though because Monday was not only transfers, but the goldens also flew in, instead of Wednesday, I assume because of the Christmas season. Elder Morris, who I was companions with in the office for 3 transfers, got transferred to the Chinese zone as a ZL/Trainer for one of the goldens. So now it's just me and Elder Sharma. We tried a new thing President McSwain wanted to do where the Elders and Sisters would meet at the KP chapel at different times to transfer, to avoid things getting too loud and/or YSA. It worked out great, so much less chaotic although we inevitably had a few bikes left behind, like every transfer, haha. The new goldens are great. Everything's great. So just as a recap,
It's my 4th transfer in the Office/Enoggera ward. It's my 2nd transfer being companions with Elder Sharma (last transfer we were in a trio). 
And would you look at that, it was a still a long email, lol. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night (even though it will be day here) and also a very hot Christmas. Cheers!
Elder Cummings​








December 12, 2017

Christmas is coming

Whew, I was afraid I wouldn't get around to emailing until a couple of weeks after my last one, but fortunately I have some free time right now to shoot one off. Since last time, we've done a lot at the office and a lot of driving around. We drove to the shopping center the last week or so a few times because we bought a pile of phones for missionaries, then we realized they sucked so we took them back to return them, plus we also went with the assistants because 2 of the 4 are going home in a few days and they wanted to buy some new clothes to fly home in. And I just think....wouldn't people be a lot more impressed if you came home from your mission all worn through? That's just my opinion but itis tempting to go home in a swaggin suit and arrive in style. 
We had a few meals at the mission home the last week or so. I never would've thought that on my mission I would get to be so close to the mission president, so that's a blessing I don't take for granted. Who else gets to have dinner with the mission president once or twice a week??
The 2 of the 4 aps and the McSwains went up north for zone conferences for a few days. That was fun because 1 of the remaining assistants went on trade offs the whole time so the other assistant, Elder Smoot (the distant cousin) hung out with us since he had stuff to do in the office. 
There's been a lot of preparation for transfers and the Christmas conference this Thursday. There's a lot of missionaries going home, including a couple of my favs Elder Ray and Elder Banks. But overall the whole outtake I've become good friends with. They've been having their departing interviews so we film their departing advice and post it on the mission blog. 
Spent a lot of time organizing packages for the missionaries. We've been stocking them all in a room in the office and trying to keep track of who's gotten one and who hasn't, as the mission made gift bags for everyone who didn't. Plus we've got to send the ones up north for missionaries up there.
Thursday was fun because we went to the mission home and did some departing advice videos, tried helping Sister McSwain with her broken computer, and decorating a tree downstairs. You could say I'm ho ho ho-ed to the max. We had some authentic Indian food at a restaurant which was alright but not great. My companion Elder Sharma (who's Fijian-Indian) said the best way to know if an Indian restaurant is "authentic" or "westernized" is if they sell beef. If they sell anything with beef, it's not "real" Indian food. Fun fact for ya.
Friday had one of the highlights of our week, because we went to lunch at....TACO BELL AMIGOOOO🌮🌮🌮🌮🔔🔔🔔🔔
The reason that's so exciting is because there's ONE taco bell in Australia, and it only opened a few weeks ago. I had been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to go to lunch there and it came! After almost two years of no taco bell it was worth the wait. The menu was much smaller than America's and they didn't have Baja Blast BUT it was still good food, which is saying a lot because Australian Mexican food hasn't been great. Plus they had an open soda fountain with free refills which you never see at fast food restaurants here, but they're so common in the states.
Saturday was also a really good day because the mission had a lot of baptisms, two of which were investigators I was personally acquainted with. One was in our ward, but the Sisters did the teaching. Well, lots of missionaries have done the teaching because he had been an investigator for 30+ years since his wife is a member. Almost their whole married life he's been going to church and being involved with the ward but he only just gained a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet! Super exciting. The other baptism was the in the assistants' ward (which had sisters as well to do full time teaching) but I got to know him pretty well because he would have wings with President and the assistants and us every wednesday. Actually it was more like we were having wings with them but regardless, he had been investigating since April or so and at last came to realize even though there were unanswered questions, baptism is only the beginning of the path to finding those answers. 
It's been a while since we've had an actual p day I think. We definitely won't have one for another week or so because of all we've got going on. Christmas conference on Thursday, transfers on Monday, and the new missionaries fly in on Monday as well (usually they do on Wednesday) so we are flat out getting everything ready. Live mas.​​

December 3, 2017

Hard yakka

We have a catch phrase in our mission called "hard yakka." "yakka" apparently means "work" in Aussie slang but I've never heard anybody actually use it except in the mission culture. So it's one of those funny things where we THINK something is Aussie but in reality it's not. Haha. Man, this week was pretty busy. We didn't do much proselyting for reasons I will explain...right now, in fact:

Mission Leadership Council was this week, so Mon-Wed we spent a couple hours a day working on what President wanted to prepare for that. Mostly it was about the mission vision for 2018. The goal we have is 600+ convert baptisms, but the other part is we're going to start tracking families and individuals who are reactivated from less-activity. Our goal is 1200+ families/individuals. So in total, we're calling it "2018 in 2018." Yaaaaaay But on a side note do any of you have any actual suggestions on how to track what counts as someone being officially "active" again. We've discussed temple ordinances, consistent sacrament meeting attendance, but nothing really seems a concrete way we can do for everyone, since every situation is so different.

Tuesday I got an interview with President for the first time in a few transfers! In the normal world we have them every transfer but being in the office we don't get the chance since we're with him all the time. But we had a personal one and it was good. He asked me if I was okay with dying in the office since time is short to train a couple new office elders before I meself go home (yes I spelt it that way on purpose). 

On Wednesday some mid transfer new missionaries came in. Two from the Phillipines, one from Samoa, and one from Tahiti. None of them speaks a lot of English but our mission has a 3 week English training school taught by one of the senior sisters. 

Thursday: MLC. Long. But interesting. President talked about putting a stop to some of the disobediences in the mission, such as Elders OR Sisters "sleeping over" (not together of course) with other missionaries in their zone for unapproved reasons, zones emailing together at the same place, stuff like that. I didn't even know that stuff was going on but I guess it is. 

Friday was TEMPLE DAY HOORAY. We didn't get a temple day last transfer because the temple was closed. But we returned to provide salvation for those across the veil. Good stuff. That night we went to a ramen place for dinner. Elder Sharma tried the "giant ramen" challenge, where you have to eat all the ramen out of a bowl the size of....a toilet bowl. Or maybe a mop bucket. A very large mixing bowl. It was big. He's a big boy but he hardly got through half of it because he said it tasted nasty. Fortunately he only threw up in his mouth a couple times so we didn't have a full on projectile vomit episode. 

Saturday we went to a baptism in one of the Samoan wards and our ward had a Christmas activity, which was really fun. That's pretty much this week. No pictures. That's my fault, I oughta remember to carry my camera around more.
Elder Cummings

Pictures and Videos November 19-26, 2017

Friday, January 5, 2018

November 26, 2017

SOLID week

Plenty to write about this week. First off, we had a p day with President and Sister McSwain! It was our first official p day in...4 or 5 weeks I think?? Anyways it was our first this transfer (week 3). We went to Australia Zoo, it was sooooo fun. They also call it "the home of the crocodile hunter" because it's where Steve Irwin worked. His parents founded the zoo, but now his wife owns it, and their kids do a lot of stuff for it as well. While there I basically learned just how much Aussies revere Steve Irwin, and I don't blame them. That guy was a boss. We saw crocs and stuff but also other Australian animals like wombats and koalas, and I hadn't seen any of those before. Plus there was an area where you could go up to kangaroos in their natural habitat and pet them.
Tuesday and Wednesday were golden orientation. We had a HUGE group, like 15 or 16 new missionaries. That's always fun because we get to stay in a hotel overnight. 
Thursday was thanksgiving, and probably the coolest senior couple in the mission, the Clydes, invited us over for lunch with President and Sister McSwain, the senior couple Briggs (the mission doctor), and the senior couple the Bells (who are also the cooliest). I didn't have a thanksgiving dinner last year (or the year before, now that I think about it) so it was really good to have some good ol turkey which I haven't had much here in Australia. We played two truths and a lie as well.​​
Saturday we went to baptisms. My first area, Bracken Ridge, had a baptism for the first time in months so I got to go to that. Unfortunately hardly anyone I knew was there and the investigator was one I never knew. But, yeah anyways! That night our Fijian-Indian companion Elder Sharma made us some sweeet Indian food.
Today we had coordinating council meeting which was like 5 hours long. But it's interesting to listen to the kind of topics the area seventy, the temple president, the mission president, and all the stake presidents discuss.
As for proselyting this week, we visited our recent converts the Mahns. Thaw, the oldest of the three that got baptized, got the priesthood this last Sunday and we're helping him get to the temple. Today we went to contact a couple member records move-ins and a referral and it was surprisingly successful. We got a commitment to come to church and a return appointment out of it. Hooray! Anyways. That was our week. Cheers!
Elder Cummings​