Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 10, 2018

This is it

Well mates, here we are. The final email. I honestly can't believe I'm actually sitting here writing this. From various libraries to the family history computers in a small chapel up north to emailing here at the mission office. I couldn't really sum up what it's like to be at this point. But I guess it was meant to be. I don't know who still reads these, but the mission's been one heck of a ride. The reality that I'm going home just won't sink in. Being in the office, we're always working on things in preparation for the future, so it's hard for me to think going home is a real thing. Holy cow. 
But just a quick summary of my final week, we went to a Cash Converters to trade in my bike for some cash. My companions were scouring the flat for things they could turn in as well to make a few bucks. We had a lesson with our recent new investigators/part member family, Kate and Emily. They are way too ready to be baptized and I'm really sad I can't be there to see it. Thursday was mostly office work. So was Friday. It was transfer deliberations this week so a lot of it was spent slowly working on different things we could find. Friday night we went to the Chinese branch's game night, which we did a lot when Elder Morris was in the office but just haven't had as much time. But we went for one last go to see a couple of the Chinese members that I've gotten to know really well. Surprisingly, some of my best memories from the mission were made in Sunnybank with the Chinese members. Today, Saturday, we went to play touch rugby down with a heap of Elders in Logan. Elder Sharma gave haircuts at the Chinese Zone Leaders' flat because they're both going home with me (Elder Morris, me ol' mate and Elder Westbrook). Later me and my old companion and now AP Elder Hymas went to a baptism in my son's area. Office stuff the rest of the day pretty much. 
It's come to this. In a couple days I'll be flying out. Sunday will be church and preparing for transfers, but hopefully I'll be able to say bye to at least a couple people before going. Monday we'll go to the temple with President and all the departing missionaries and then hang out at the mission home and have dinner there, sleeping overnight and heading out Tuesday morn. 
I'll take this time to say the gospel is so true. So true. I haven't been as spiritual in my emails but it's because the experiences I've had probably wouldn't mean much to anyone but me. There were lessons and things I needed to live through and see so that I could learn from it. I wasn't a perfect missionary, but I had a perfect mission. I saw repentance in action. I lived it. I studied from the Book of Mormon day in and day out and read it cover to cover at least a dozen times. I studied Preach My Gospel hard-out and came to understand it is THE book for missionary work, full-time or everyday member. I learned that God absolutely does hear and answer prayers. He really does. I saw people live the gospel, and I saw the change in them as they felt the joy and peace it brings. Unfortunately I also saw some of those same people go back to old habits and fall away from the gospel again. I can only hope they come back one day. It kills me but it's reality. It's hard to change ingrained ways of behaving. But there are only a couple that I know have found what they need and have no plans of giving it up, and for that at least I'm so thankful. Jesus Christ is the one who makes this all possible. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for His Atonement. None of us would be. Baptism, service, keeping the commandments, it would all mean nothing if He hadn't paid the price. But He did. He lives today and guides His people through prophets and apostles. The Book of Mormon can't be proved false. It's too true. I'll miss writing these emails. Hopefully I'll be able to save them all as it's kind of like a story, besides what's in my journal. So folks, this is Elder Cummings, signing off. For the last time. Cheers.

March 4, 2018

Night approaches

Well folks this is just about it. My last week on the mission begins now. It honestly doesn't even feel real. All the preparations are being made but it still feels like it's not actually happening. Man oh man. Words can't really express how I feel, I'm looking forward to moving on at home but at the same time I want to keep staying on my mission. I don't believe this'll be my last email, I'll try to get one out on Saturday, a couple days before my departure, just to go through my last week. 
Week 5 of the transfer was last week. Grabbed some lunch at the only Taco Bell in Australia on Monday. Tuesday was mission leadership council. We went to the kangaroo point chapel a little before 9 to set all the tables and technology up. It was my last MLC and that's just how it is, you can't help thinking "this my last this" or "this is my last that." I got really stressed out for a bit because the Wi-Fi kept dropping so the ZLs and STLs on Skype kept getting kicked out of the call but then Sister McSwain let us use her iPhone as a hotspot for the computer. No problems after that. Apple to the rescue! I gave a departing testimony along with all the other ZLs and STLs going home at the end of the meeting. It was funny because I was trying to figure out how I was going to put it, but I said "Don't be exactly obedient and don't work hard because you expect a reward or you expect miracles out of it. Do it because you love the Lord and do it because it's your duty, and it's what you agreed to do when you accepted your call." But I paused after "don't be exactly obedient and don't work hard because..." since I was thinking of how to put it, and I could see President's eyebrows go up and people afterwards were telling me they were wondering where the heck I was going during that pause. Oh well haha. Wednesday was heaps of driving around, picking up a senior couple from the airport, going to my companion's doctors appointment, getting some stuff at the store, etc. In the afternoon we had a couple lessons. One was with a guy named Patrick, he had concerns about the Trinity and polygamy and stuff but we just kept telling him to save his questions and to read the Book of Mormon because it's can only be of God. Unfortunately he's convinced Joseph Smith could have just been an unnaturally intelligent person. Our next lesson was with the Stokes family, a single mom and two girls who want to come back to church after the mom being less active for over ten years. Her teenage daughters are unbaptized as well but they're the ones who actually asked if they could go to church and they are super ready to be baptized. I don't think there'll be enough time before I go home for them to get baptized but that's okay, I know they'll get to it soon. 
Thursday was a lot more driving around. We set up some stuff for the semi annual Senior missionary conference for the mission. We went to ward council that night too. On Friday, since all the seniors were going to be at the conference instead of the office, my companions held down the fort all day at the office while I was at the conference handling the technology for slideshows and mics and stuff. Seniors are so funny. You never know what they're gonna say. I enjoyed it a lot, plus it was cool because on the record President was my companion for the day. What missionary gets that opportunity? That night was had dinner at some cool members, the Scofields.
Saturday the seniors had a final devotional at the mission home in the morning. We went to set up for that as well and had breakfast with all the seniors. My companions and the APs got to be there for that as well, but the APs left soon after for baptisms. But me and my comps were there for the devotional part. Well, I was, but my comps conked out on the couches upstairs from all the running around and go go go action the last couple days. After the senior conference officially ended we did office work and later had dinner at Curry Heaven because Elder Sharma was craving some indian.
Sunday was good, the Stokes came to church, I bore my last testimony in sacrament meeting as a missionary but I still have one more Sunday on the mission. We got a call in the afternoon as we were proselyting that I was going to have my departing interview with President that night. Usually they're not as early as a week before departure but there's so many missionaries going home this transfer they've gotta spread them out around transfer deliberations. That night we showed up at the mission home and President talked to me about my goals and stuff. He gave me a blessing as well and it helped me a lot because it made me feel that although I wasn't a perfect missionary, I had a perfect mission. That's it for this week. One last email to come later. Cheers!
Elder Cummings

February 25, 2018

Guess I better

I actually wasn't planning on writing a group email today, but I looked in my sent mail and saw the last one was 10 days ago. So I should probably catch up! Time really gets away from ya when you don't have an established p-day to email. Starting from Saturday the 17th. There was a baptism in my first area, Bracken Ridge that I got to go to! Well the investigator wasn't someone I taught but me and Elder Weed, who also started there went with one of the assistants. We went to another baptism in a different zone and afterwards the Clyde senior couple invited us to have lunch with them. That was fun. That night was a baptism in Coomera. It's cool almost getting to tour the mission going to baptisms with the assistants.
Sunday was Coordinating Council Meeting, the meeting with all the stake presidents, the mission president, the temple president, and the area seventy. And us, of course. We ran the video broadcast for the district presidents up north. It's a five hour long meeting but surprisingly it's not too hard to stay awake because they talk about some pretty interesting stuff. Plus they announced the creation of a new stake - the Beenleigh stake! The last new stake created was right before I came into the mission, and now here I am about to go and another one is born! 
The next week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were zone conferences. We set up all the tech for that and run microphones to people when they want to talk. They were great. President talked about solemn assemblies when a new prophet is sustained for the first time, plus the doctrine of prophets and apostles. We watched a missionary broadcast from Salt Lake about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon with investigators as well, that was really good. 
Friday we did things like...pick up cars from the repair shop and take them to the temple parking lot...and some other things...but my planner page is blank because it was raining pretty hard that day, so I left it in the car and forgot to write what we did. Haha. Those are the highlights of this last little week and a half. We've done a bit more proselyting than we have in the past which is nice to squeeze in before I ship out. Cheers!
Elder Cummings

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February 16, 2018

This week in the ABM

I have to admit it's getting harder to find the motivation to email!! But this week has had some fun stuff. Last Friday my companions and I went souvenir shopping for a little bit, since I honestly don't think I'll have time to do it the rest of the transfer. That night we went to the Chinese branch's game night, which we haven't done in many a week but I got to see me old mate Elder Morris. He's doing awesome as the Chinese Zone zone leader. Plus Sue, a really cool member from China, got back from a long overseas trip so I hadn't seen her in a couple months, but she was there too. I should really get pictures of these kinds of things, but alas, I always seem to think the only time I need to take a picture is if it's my "last time" seeing whoever or doing whatever. Oh well!
Saturday was baptism day! We went to one at Park Ridge, one of my old areas! It wasn't a convert baptism, but the family of the girl who got baptized was a family I was really good friends with when I was in the area. The girl's cousin is Patrick, who was one of the youth who used to come out to teach with us a lot of weekends. He was there too, and he was a really good friend so it was nice to see him too. That night we ate at an oriental grill after a baptism in Coomera with the zone leaders. While we were eating some delicious noodles a Fijian guy was working in a tavern nearby came over and started talking to us. We got to know a bit about him, and he asked us to come and visit his family sometime. Obviously we couldn't but the zls set an appt with him, and a few days later set him and his wife on baptismal date! Eating at that grill was an inspired meal :)
Sunday was interesting, because there was a special broadcast for all the members in Australia and New Zealand broadcast from SLC. Elder Lynn G Robbins, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, Elder Kevin Pearson, and Elder Gary Stevenson all spoke. The speaker that stood out to me the most was Elder Stevenson's address, because he basically spent 20 or 30 minutes just talking about President Nelson. His character, his life, and his acheivements. It was really interesting to listen to.
That night we had dinner at the Smiths. At one point there were some seriously freaky storm clouds heading our way, and we stood outside to watch them blow over us, and it was kind of cool because their house was out in the bush, so as the storm came towards us we could see the wind blowing trees and stuff until it hit the house like a wall and things went flying everywhere. It was cool. It rained SUPER heavy for a little while before it was safe enough for us to go.
On Monday night we went to the Chinese branch FHE. That was cool. Tuesday was district meeting. The zone leaders asked me to give a "departing training." That night we had dinner with the Edwards, and as the sun set some clouds blew over and the clouds were flashing with lightning non stop for several minutes. But not much thunder, which is the interesting thing about storms in Australia.
Wednesday we had lunch at a Vietnamese place, played basketball with the Redland Bay elders (I used to serve in Redland Bay as well) and had wings with President, the assistants, and Jeff, a recent convert.
The last couple days, Thursday and Friday, were golden orientation for all the new missionaries. Sadly it was my last golden orientation. But it was still fun, we had trainings, we had role playing, we had KFC for dinner. So good times all around. Cheers!

February 8, 2018

time is dwindling(2)

I don't know for sure where I left off on my last email, so i'll just start with the 3rd of Feb. That day was baptism day, since it was Saturday. We went to one down in Bellbird Park ward, and then came back to the office. Later that day we went to a couple baptisms in highly Polynesian wards. One of them had a huge feast and even a DJ.  Sunday was our first day at church in Bunya Forest, the new ward we're covering. Lots of people were surprised to see Elder Sharma again, since he had served there before, but it took members a little longer to remember that I had served there before Elder Sharma. Welp, guess I just have a forgettable face, lol. Nah it's probably because Elder Sharma is dark, haha. We were joking about that afterwards.
We spent a large part of the day proselyting, going door knocking and trying to visit investigators and things. Unfortunately we didn't get any lessons in but we sure tried.
Monday we helped a member from the previous ward we covered move. As we were unloading the truck at the new place, me and Brother Jones were in the kitchen and Elder Sharma and Weed were carrying boxes in, suddenly we heard a huge crash and came outside to see Elder Sharma standing there with a box that 

sorry, I meant to click the font button but accidentally clicked "send." Anyways, Elder Sharma was standing there with a box in his arms, but the bottom had split open and dishes and crashed and broken all over the ground. But the funny thing is not even 5 minutes later Elder Weed was carrying a box of pots and pans and the exact same thing happened. The only casualty from that box was a food scale. Later that day we had Thai food for lunch. It was pretty good. That night we sheltered Elder Stevens, an Elder who lives in our mission but has been serving in our mission for the last few months waiting for a visa to fly to Japan for his real mission. He had just gotten his visa so he stayed at our flat overnight and we dropped him off at the airport the next day.
Tuesday was Sister McSwains birthday, so us and the assistants made her a surprise breakfast. Wednesday we had a FHE at the mission home with Coomera zone, and yesterday we had our temple day. I only have one more session at the temple, and that'll be with President and the other missionaries going home this transfer. Oh my goodness. So hope everyone is doing well, I'm working on perfecting my Australian accent so prepare to be amazed. Cheers!

At the most food filled baptism ever.

Pad Thai I ate.

Vanquishing a cockroach in our flat.

Coomera FHE

After cooking up Sister McSwain some brekky

When we caught Sister McSwain by surprise

January 31, 2018

new transfer, last transfer

That's right, you read that subject line correctly. I really lost track of my group email there because of how busy week 6 and week 1 of the transfer are. Some pretty crazy stuff has been going on. 
Previously, on Elder Cummings' mission:
-Columbian man shows up to church and asks to be taught
I think that's where I left off. Much of that week was spent preparing every needful thing for transfers. We did get to go to district meeting, which only happens once every couple weeks. On Thursday morning President and the APs finished deliberations, and so the transfer board was revealed to our eyes. First off, we have a new companion, which we all knew was going to happen since I was going to have to train a new office elder before going home. But it's who our new comp turned out to be that surprised us. His name is Elder Weed, from Virginia. We were shocked for many reasons, including:
1. He's only been out 6 months, which is unheard of to call in an office elder that young
2. The APs never even mentioned he was one they were considering, when they had mentioned several other elders they were thinking about.
But we were excited. He was in the first group of goldens that came in with me being the office elder, so I was there picking him up from the airport and now he's my companion. Missions are full of coincidences like that.
The other major surprise that happened is that even though we are office elders, we do cover a ward, which for the last year or two has been Enoggera. But this transfer, since there have been sisters in the ward as well the last couple transfers, they decided we would cover a new ward, which if you can believe Bunya Forest. 
No, I don't expect you to remember that name. But Bunya Forest is the area I served in back in May-June 2017. Elder Sharma, my Fijian Indian companion, is the missionary who replaced me there. So now we're both serving in an area we've served in before. I was kind of bummed, because the Enoggera ward is so cool and Bunya Forest was the hardest area of my mission, but it is kind of exciting to get to see the members again and possibly some old investigators too. 
We "paid a visit" to that Columbian guy and "taught him a lesson". And that's not mafia talk, like we literally taught him at his home about the gospel. But what about the quotation marks, you say? I don't know. 
The next day was mission leadership council, and the night before we had picked up our new comp, Elder Weed, to show him the ropes.
Saturday we went to baptisms. I split off with Elder Pugsley, one of the APs. I was super lucky because I got to go to a baptism in one of my previous areas, Park Ridge, and they were baptizing a few kids that me and my comp had started teaching after we found that they were unbaptized on the ward list. When we visited them they hadn't seen missionaries or been to church in a few years, and this last Saturday those kids finally got baptized. I was so happy.
We had spare time between baptisms so we door knocked in a random area with the Elders covering it. 
Sunday was our last church meeting in Enoggera. People were as shocked as we were that we were going. We visited the Mahns afterwards, the Burmese kids we baptized back in October, and encouraged them to keep going to church and reading the scriptures and praying. 
Monday was crazy transfers, and thus began my final transfer.
It's now my 17th transfer.
My companions are Elder Sharma (third transfer with him)
and Elder Weed (first transfer with him, although he came in a few days early)
It's now my 5th transfer in the office, but my 1st covering Bunya Forest (although I served in Bunya Forest for 1 transfer back last year, so 2nd overall)
We spent a lot of time at the mission home later that day with the departing missionaries, and had a good dinner and had the departing devotional afterwards.
Tuesday morning we had to go bail some sisters out because they locked themselves out of their flat, but it was mostly office work that day. 
Wednesday was golden intake, which was one of the most packed days of my mission. Lemme give you an idea of how crazy it was:
7:00 Take a car from KP to the mission home in preparation for a golden/trainer companionship that day
7:30 Meet APs and McSwains (and two new American missionaries) at mission home
7:30-8:30 Bake banana bread for the goldens since Sister McSwain had to go the office with President and the APs
8:30 Office work, met two new sisters from Thailand
10:30 go help pick up New Zealand MTC missionaries from airport, and take them to the office
12:30 Take a few of the goldens to the mission home
Little bit of a rest here, then we had lunch until
3:00 Golden transfer meeting starts
4:00 Leave golden transfer meeting early because one of the goldens (Elder Walker) had a flight to catch to fly up north. When we got there, the airline people said the ticket had been accidentally booked for the 28th of February for some reason. Wasn't me!
6:30 Get back to the mission home after a lot of phone calls and things at the airport trying to figure out the situation, with about half an hour of that being us trying to find our car
That night we had to keep 3 of the goldens from NZ at our flat overnight because they were flying up north the next day (Elder Latu, Elder Toluta'u, and Elder Fukofuka, the cousin of the Elder Fukofuka who was my ZL for several transfers and an AP when I was in the office but went home a month ago) but Elder Walker had to stay with us as well since his flight was changed to the next day. We took them all out to wings for fun. It made me pretty sad because having them stay with us overnight was going to be the only time I would see them, because I'd be home before they came down, and office elders never go up north. President and the APs had a flight to catch up north right around 7 so we dropped them off there. 
I've gone on too long. I often forget that this isn't my journal! Anyways, Pictures are from that kids' baptism, a really good ice cream place, and with the three NZ blokes.

January 21, 2018

It's been a while

How do I start this off? I started an email a few days ago, but got caught up doing other things and suddenly it was Sunday night. Quick recap of things over the last week or so. First off, Brad Wilcox, LDS speaker extraordinaire, visited the mission. He was actually in Brisbane for FSY (For the Strength of Youth, like EFY) but agreed to do a conference for the missionaries. It was great, he spoke about the house of Israel and what it means to be a part of it, and the birthright that comes with it. All the zones got pictures with him, but he was already late for his next appointment, and since we (the office elders and the assistants) were the ones trying to herd all the zones one after another to get a picture with him as quickly as possible, we didn't actually get a picture with him :(((((( But earlier in the day, while he was meeting and greeting the missionaries I got some pictures OF him. I think if I keep my secret people picture taking skills up I could become a private investigator. Anyways, I sat waaaay in the back of the chapel serving as the Keeper of the Technology. We webcast(ed?) the conference up north so I was making sure everything ran smoothly. We had a quick zone conference after.
Last Saturday we had a couple baptisms to go to. The first was at Redcliffe chapel, and I name that specifically because the Redcliffe chapel was where I had my first zone meeting on the mission. All the ones after that for my zone (in that particular zone) were at Burpengery chapel. I hadn't been to Redcliffe chapel since my second or third week on the mission. Needless to say there was a very introspective moment for me being there. We also helped a member move from our area down to the south side of the city, to one of my old areas (Park Ridge) and he even moved to a street I had door knocked. He was living in a van before so he's living the high life now in a shared flat. 
Monday we had dinner with the Amos', one of my favorite member families. Tuesday we went to district meeting, took the mission doctor to the airport for a medical emergency up north, we even got to go on splits with the Bunya Forest elders (one of my previous areas) and some members from that ward to go door knocking. We door knocked some streets me and my companion had knocked there. Ha! 
But we got a call earlier in the day that the Gympie elders' phone stopped working, and the only solution, was for us to drive all the way up there to give them a new one since we wouldn't otherwise be seeing them anytime soon. Let me clarify, Gympie's a 2 hour drive north of Brisbane. So we drove alllll the way up, and allll the way back down. I was practically falling asleep at the wheel so when we stopped to fill up at the gas station I asked my companion to buy me a caffinated drink, I thought he'd buy a coke or pepsi or something but he walked out with a Rockstar. I'm so sorry mom, please don't kill me! Luckily I didn't get addicted, because I've only had like 4 cans a day since then, just a totally normal amount. Ha jk, I haven't had another one. I'm off the can. 
Wednesday we had a FHE at the mission home with the Logan zone!
Thrusday we did some running around, taking supplies to interviews for the Chinese zone, buying some cables for the upcoming MLC, and that night we split with the Redland Bay elders (who cover two wards) for a meeting and a lesson since they didn't have anyone else to split with. I used to serve in Redland Bay but unfortunately I got roped into the meeting for the ward that the elders now cover but we didn't when I served in the area. Oh well, I got to spend time with Elder Santander who I've never known that well but he turned out to be really cool.
Friday I had to take me ol MTC mates, Elder Pierce and Elder Nemeth, to the police station to get fingerprinted for their visa extensions. Without those, they'd be going home a transfer before me. But now they'll be going home with me! MTC district mates to the end! (S/O to my MTC companion Elder Hanley in the Adelaide mission). 
Saturday (yesterday) there were soooo many baptisms. I split with Elder Hymas (previous companion I served with in Redland Bay, now an assistant) and we went to Raceviews baptism, the missionaries serving there being Elder Bullock (me son) and Elder Pierce (me ol MTC mate). Elder Hymas got a haircut at the most Polynesian barber I've ever been to, but they give missionaries free haircuts so it was good. A big New Zealander guy sat next to me and said he was a less active member. We had a good yarn while my companion-for-the-day was getting a haircut. We drove to a baptism in Nerang, where a mom and 4 of her kids got baptized. Then drove to Marsden for another baptism of a family. 
Today was good, normal church. A Columbian nonmember came to church out of the blue. He had a member friend back in Colombia who found our ward for him and told him over Facebook or something to come. We taught him a lesson and thank GOODNESS we have a couple native Spanish speakers in the ward from South America. We're not sure yet whether us or the sisters will teach him but we'll work that out. Oh yeah and I gave a talk in church about how the Savior changes us. Just a short 5 minute talk to fill some time. So maybe it wasn't actually "normal church." Yeah, there's my week. I need to take picures more often.