Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 8, 2017

A weekannahalf

Well it's been a while, and for good reason. Last week was week 6 of the transfer, this was week 1, so us office blokes have been here there and everywhere.
Last week was kind of a blur. President was gone most of the week at a mission president's seminar in Fiji. But when he got back we had a quick MLC on Thursday. It was really frustrating because as usual we had the far north queensland zone leaders/sister training leaders skyping in but our internet connection kept dropping and annoying both them and us. But it worked out. One of the pictures is of me and Elder Bullock, my son (my trainee). He's been a zone leader for a couple transfers now but haven't gotten a picture with him. After the MLC we had a FHE with the Centenary and Ipswich zones. In our mission if a zone breaks their goals for baptisms they get a zone p-day and a FHE with President. So it's kind of like a full day p-day. This month we had HEAPS of zones break their baptismal goals so we had two zones on Thursday and two on Friday. Friday was Brisbane and Logan zones. That one we were officially a part of since we're in the Brisbane zone and we were responsible for 3 of the 5 baptisms our zone had a goal of for the month. 
Saturday we picked up our new companion, Elder Sharma! Super rad missionary. He's from Fiji and now he's in a trio with me and Elder Morris as the office elders. Elder Morris will most likely be on his way out next transfer so he's training Elder Sharma as an office elder.
Monday (just a couple days ago) was the first day of the transfer, so we had all sorts of missionaries running around kangaroo point chapel parking lot. All went smoothly...for the most part. I'm not sure how but somehow like 5 missionaries forgot their bikes. It happens every transfer, but usually not this many bikes. So we're like..."what the heck do we do with these????" 
Monday afternoon/evening was kind of fun/depressing (similar feelings I know) because we spend the rest of the day with the departing missionaries at the mission home. This transfer, two of my previous companions, Elder Rossi (who I was in a trio with way back in Atherton for one transfer about a year ago) and Elder Iufoni (who I was companions with just a few months ago, only for one transfer also) so it kind of sucks because it's like they're dying in your arms as you see them go through all the emotions of going home. Plus this one super cool Sister names Sister Costa from Brazil went home. She was serving in the same ward as us, and she's one of the coolest sisters I've met.
We had a departing devotional and stuff. Everyone goes around and bears their testimony at the end, and Elder Iufoni in his testimony said he learned how to "be loud" from me. Which is weird because he's a huge Tongan who's already loud enough but I think he was just being funny because I'm known as having a really loud voice, because the other missionaries laughed and a couple were like "ha, true." I think what he meant from it was teaching the gospel/bearing testimony in a loud and powerful voice or something. 
We didn't actually take them to the airport (well, the first few because it was like 5 in the morning) but we took a group later in the morning. Super sad. But it gets followed up by days like TODAY, WEDNESDAY when all the new goldens come in. We had 7 sisters and 4 elders arrive. A few from the states, one from NZ, another from Papua New Guinea, another from China.
We have lots of fun picking them up from the airport, then to the office, then to the mission home, and sending them off with their trainers. By the end of the day we're so exhausted. Anyways, this email has gotten long enough even though I wish I could say more. Because there's a lot more. But I'll end it there. See ya!
Elder Cummings
PS the pics are mostly from the last week, but the two of me/Elder Iufoni in the suits and me/Elder Rossi/Elder Hausia/KFC are from when we were companions.

October 29, 2017

whoop de doo

Wow, what a packed week and a half it's been! Some super cool stuff has been going on. First off, we had a baptism last weekend! We baptized three kids-two boys, Thaw and Su, and a girl, Sanda. They're three of the six kids of a family we've been teaching. I was really worried we wouldn't be able to work things out in time, but fortunately we have a ward mission leader who is SO on top of things, we sat down with him a few days prior and got everything for the program organized. Thank goodness! It was a super awesome baptism too, because half the ward came to support, since the ward hasn't seen a convert baptism in years. But it was all thanks to a member who reached out to a friend and asked if the missionaries could visit. See, people? It works! Go figure!
Most of this recent week was transfer deliberations, so we spent most of the time in the office while President and the assistants were holed up in President's office deliberating. They still haven't finished yet, because besides deliberating we (the office elders) were busy making a training presentation for President about Mission Leadership Councils which he has to give at a mission president's seminar in Fiji. Actually that's where he is right now. So it's up to the assistants to keep the mission running while President and Sister McSwain are gone for about a week. 
One night one of the Chinese branch members took us to a Chinese "yum cha" place where people come around with food carts and you take whatever you want. I tried some chicken feet! I haven't had that many weird foods in Australia so when I have the opportunity I try to take it. 
Wednesday was the ush-wings at Burrito Bar with President, the assistants, and an investigator Jeffrey.
Thursday we ran heaps of errands running desks to flats, buying paper, and of course my part time job lately has been repeatedly fixing errors on the printer/scanner in the office. Every time I come up with a solution, the solution stops working by the next day. Wahp. That night there was a serious hail storm warning so we did some emergency moving of cars around to take them under cover since there's various mission cars sitting around at the office and the mission home. That was fun.
Oh, of course something I should mention is that we got a new assistant. The two that are already here, Elder Smoot and Fukofuka, have both been my zone leaders at different points in my mission, but this last week they brought in a third assistant since the other two are going home soon-and it's Elder Hymas! Elder Hymas was my companion right before I myself came into the office! so that's really cool because it's almost like being companions again since we're with the assistants so much of the time.
Saturday was fun too, there was a stake Mormon Helping Hands project at a Buddhist temple. It was the first time I've been to a Buddhist temple so that was cool. One of the other Elders who was there is from China and he used to be buddhist so he filled us in on a lot of their beliefs, which are pretty cool. 
So that's how things have been going, which I would say are very good! Transfers are a week from today, so even though they're not done yet, I'm safe because that's what being is the office is like-I've only been here for 2 transfers and office elders stick around a lot longer than that-but there's a very high chance we'll be getting a new companion to train him in the way of the office elder. Deuces.

October 19, 2017

Yay free time to email

If you thought office work has lightened up at all in the last week and a're wrong! Haha, we've been especially busy this last week+ because not only did we have golden orientation for the new missionaries but we (us and the assistants) had to road trip up to Rockhampton to swap out some cars for the missionaries up there. Plus we did zone conference while we were there. 
To start, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday since I last wrote was mostly run-of-the-mill office work. Dropping off supplies and stuff. Tuesday we had to be at a chapel to help with interviews for a few of the zones. We were there from about 9 to 4 or 5. But president shouted us all KFC afterwards so it was alllll goods. Oh yeah, shouting someone means buying them food. Wednesday we were at interviews for a couple other zones.
Thursday was one of the things I look forward to...golden orientation! Where they take all the missionaries that came in this transfer and give them some trainings and experiences GQing and snapping gravity in the morning (snap gravity is just an ABM thing, it's the exercise we do in the morning). Really wish I would be smarter and take pictures, but oh well. 
Friday we finished up Golden orientation (no one freaked out about me filming them this time) we helped president with some training he was going to be doing at Rockhampton's district conference over the weekend, and then waited at the mission home to take President and Sister McSwain to the airport for them to fly up there. Then we went to the Chinese branch game night! Luckily we played Uno so I knew what was going on for the most part until someone would play a wild card so I had to ask them to translate the color they were changing it to.
Saturday was one of the greatest weeks for baptisms this year in the mission. We had 17 in one day across the mission! That is INCREDIBLE, especially because the last few weeks we've only had 5 or 6 a week. But before we went to baptisms we visited our investigator family from Burma, the Mahns. 3 of the 5 kids of baptismal age are super ready to get baptized. We are so lucky to be teaching them!
For the rest of Saturday Elder Morris went with Elder Fukofuka and I went with Elder Smoot to go to baptisms. We went to one in Kuraby where I had to conduct last minute. I don't mind conducting but I'm the literal worst at singing. We went to a couple poly baptisms, we got to have a mighty feed after one of them. 
That night we started upon our road trip to Rockhampton. We had to drive a total of 4 cars so each of us drove a car (yes, by ourselves, and yes, the mission president was well aware of it). Me and Elder Smoot drove to Hervey Bay, one of his previous areas, and Elder Morris and Fukofuka drove to Bundaberg, one of Elder Fukofuka's previous areas. We started upon our journey 9:45 at night. We had PLANNED to leave at 7 but good old Elder Smoot lost his wallet so we had to find that.
The road trip to Hervey Bay was about as fun as you would expect driving 3 1/2 hours in the middle of the night during pouring rain. It was bad. I had to stay awake by ringing Elder Smoot and drinking-please don't gasp-Coca Cola. It was a necessary sacrifice. We ended up getting to the Hervey Bay elders' flat about 2 am. Slept like a rock. I did get a picture with them so I'll attach it. We went to church in the Hervey Bay ward so Elder Smoot could see old recent converts and members. Then we embarked once more to finish our journey. This time though we left one of the cars in Hervey Bay (since that was one of the ones we were swapping) and just drove in one car up to Rocky. Meanwhile, Elder Fukofuka and Elder Morris went to church in Bundaberg and carpooled the rest of the way.
Actually I forgot, before we went the rest of the way to Rocky me and elder smoot drove to Bundaberg and met the other guys there and had lunch with an eternal investigator there. THEN we drove the rest of the way to Rockhampton which was about 4 or 5 hours. One way it's 616 km, or about 350 mi. That's about the distance from SLC to Las Vegas. The reason it takes so much longer is because 
1. It was raining hard-out the entire drive and
2. The top speed limit here is only like 60-65 mi an hour, even on the loneliest highways. And you can't speed because they even go through the courtesy of installing speed cameras in the middle of nowhere.
That night we got to Rocky and met up with the Rockhampton/Gladstone Elders and the Emerald sisters at a setting apart of a missionary that President McSwain was doing. We had dinner there too. I'll attach a picture of us outside. 
Monday was zone conference for Rockhampton. I had a bad headache the whole time. Then we swapped cars and headed back out as soon as conference was over. Took from about 3 to 1 in the morning. We split off again on the way down so that Elder Fukofuka and Elder Morris could grab the old Bundaberg car and me and Elder Smoot grabbed the old Hervey Bay car to drive it down. The drive down was actually much better, I drove for 2 1/2 hours of the leg to Hervey Bay and then obviously the full 3 1/2 hours down to Brisbane since I was driving alone. But I didn't get tired at all on the way down so it was cool. 
Tuesday we got to go to district meeting for the first time in weeks. We saw the Mahns again to prepare them for their baptism this Saturday. Then Tuesday night we picked up a missionary from the airport who was returning to the field to Perth after spending a few months back home on medical release. He stayed with us over night after we smashed some KFC in the mission home. But also the assistants (Elder Fukofuka and Elder Smoot) and President and Sister McSwain all flew up to Cairns Tuesday morn.
Wednesday was a fun day, because we had three new missionaries come in mid transfer, and since everyone was up in Cairns, it fell on us to do everything! So after seeing Elder Oemcke off to Perth we picked up the new missionaries and took them back to the office for the senior missionaries to orient them on stuff. Then we did heaps of driving taking missionaries to their new areas. Ultimately that's what we spent the whole day doing. All three went to the Chines-speaking program so we went down to Sunnybank, which is basically mini-China in Brisbane, and ate some awesome dumplings. 
Thursday (today) we did some hard office work for President's training that he's going to be giving at a mission president's seminar in Fiji in a couple weeks. Then we met with our WML to organize the Mahn's baptism and then went to the Mahn's to teach them the Word of Wisdom and get their parental permission for baptism. Unfortunately the only reason the parents' aren't getting baptized is because they don't speak any English and the Church doesn't really have any materials in their language, and their kids' translation abilities only go so far. But we're still super excited! Found out something cool: while we were filling out the baptismal records, I learned from the Mahn's that in Burma (or Myanmar) they don't have last names, so when they came to Australia they were assigned a last name. Interesting fun fact! That's pretty much catching you all up. I know it's heaps, and I wish I had more pictures, but that's the way the news goes. Cheers!
Elder Cummings
ps I attached a map of our road trip for your convenience. Also, on the way back down we actually had to take a couple detours because roads were closed due to flooding.

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