Sunday, July 24, 2016

July 18, 2016

Wow so it was a pretty packed week, hopefully I can get everything in. To start, we had a really fun p-day last week. Our district as well as the zone leaders met at our chapel and we played basketball and ping pong. Me and Elder Bodeeletkasaem, from Thailand, had the most heated games but he's just a little bit better than me because he can curve it really well. Tuesday we had a good district meeting, everyone took pictures but I forgot my camera. :( We had an appointment with a new investigator Jackson, after talking to him a little bit we found out his grandma is the one who gave me 20$ a couple weeks ago while we were door knocking. Also he used to play footy (rugby) with a couple of new converts in our ward, we're hoping we'll be able to have a good member fellowship there and get Jackson's whole family interested. 
Overall we had a lot of appointments fall through, mostly because we had so many potential investigators but most of them fell through or turned out not to be interested. Me and my companion have resolved to start seeking out a lot more part member families and to build better relationships with the ward, since we don't know a whole lot of people.
Wednesday night we were about to visit a less active but on the side of the street we noticed a pretty nice couch hidden in a bunch of thrown out furniture. I guess I should explain by saying here in Brisbane they have a time of year where everyone throws out old TVs, furniture, random other crap they don't want but could be recycled out in front of their house, and the Council comes around and picks it all up. So for the last couple weeks we were looking in the many piles of stuff for a good couch we could put in our flat, since all we have in terms of furniture is our beds and a couple metal chairs. But anyways Wed night we finally found a pretty awesome couch that we were surprised someone wanted to chuck, but we called Napa and he came and helped us load it into his truck and take it back to our flat. So now we got a couch which is awesome, and we were able to teach the less active we were visiting as well. 
Thursday we had Nephi's baptismal interview. Other than that we had dropped appointments and some door knocking. Friday we had several more appointments fall through as well as weekly planning. It was also the day "it" happened. 
A lot of times on people's gates they have "beware the dog" signs, but there's usually one of 3 things: 1. there's no dog around, 2. the dog is just like a shitzu or maltese or some tiny dog, or 3. the dog is sitting right there barking at you before you even approach the gate. So in this case, we heard the dog barking from inside the garage, so we figured it was chilling in there, so we went in the gate and walked up to the door. By that time the barking had gotten quieter from the garage but then it got louder as this pitbull (we think) came around the other side of the house and running at us. Now, this has happened once or twice before, but usually the dog is pretty friendly and just runs up to sniff you a little bit and leave you alone. But THIS time, the dog was actually and LEGITIMATELY ANGRY. We start walking QUICKLY back to the gate and then the dog comes at me and bites my shoe so I was like DANG this dog's for REAL so we started to hasten our step towards the gate and I see the dog come at me again from behind out of the corner of my eye and OW the dog bites me on the back of the leg, right in the calf. Luckily it didn't hang on or anything, it was a quick chomp but it still hurt pretty bad. Luckily we got out before the dog could drag me back to its lair and surveyed the battle wound when we got back to the car. There was blood, there was bruising, but after bandaging it up with the car's first aid pack I valiantly volunteered we continue to knock the street, because surely no unhallowed hand could stop the work from progressing. As I limped, suffering, from house to house, it turned out that no one was really interested because there was some other guy door knocking as well collecting charity less than an hour before us, so people weren't all that keen to talking to us. One Irish lady, once we said the word "missionaries" cut us off and said "go away, and never, ever, come back" and slammed the door. 
But yeah, it's actually not too bad, I'll include some pictures but it's mostly healed now, just bruised and sore. We visited Jude and invited him and his family to Nephis baptism, and then visited a recent convert, sister Popata and they were talking to us about Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go has taken over Australia. Almost everyone who we visit talks to us about it. It's ridiculous, I've already heard a couple of the crazy stories that have happened from people playing it. It's insane. Saturday was awesome, because a lot of people came to Nephi's baptism, even the McClures, Jude's family. I was blessed to be the one to baptize him. During the refreshments afterwards, Nephi's grandpa, who was present most of the time when we were teaching Nephi, stood up and gave a speech about how even though he's a Seventh Day Adventist we need more Christians in the world, and that he was proud of Nephi and thankful for us Elders for teaching kids to have good standards and morals. It was a pretty nice speech and overall it went really well. Sunday was good, we had a really productive ward coordination meeting, it takes such a huge burden off of missionaries shoulder's when ward missionaries are willing to do stuff. We visited Brother and Sister Atkinson who had invited one of their neighbors to have the first lesson and we also saw a couple other less actives. We had interviews yesterday, which is why we didn't email, but we got to meet the new president. He's really great, he's pretty knowledgeable. While we were waiting for our interviews we hung out for a few hours with the Narangba Valley and Burpengery Elders since our area was pretty far away from the Burpengery chapel. We had dinner with the Silvas, that was really nice but yeah I'm just about out of time so I'm gonna quick throw some pictures on here before I run out. Love you all
Elder Cummings

Sunday, July 17, 2016

New Missionary training

2016 March Golden Orientation

This is a video of new missionary training soon after arriving in Australia.  In the physical training part of the video, if you look close, you'll see Calvin is either carrying his good shoes or wearing them.  He forgot to bring his tennis shoes to this part of their training.  He said he wore a hole in his socks from running in them. Oops.

July 10, 2016

This week sped by again, I think I'm getting to that point where people say the mission starts flying past. This week we were able to get a lot done as well. Monday and Tuesday we had a mini missionary from South Brisbane teach with us. He was really good at wanting to go out there and talk to people. For p-day we were going to eat at an authentic American restaurant but we didn't have enough time, so we just ate at McDonalds. 
Tuesday was interesting. Remember that guy who pulled up to us in his car and told us to come by? Well we finally caught up with him, he seemed really keen because he had lots of questions and had met with missionaries before in Enoggera, he had been starting to read the Book of Mormon again, but then things got weird when he started talking about how he had died and come back alive thousands of times and the government was breeding him so he had thousands of children, and that his roommate had tried to feed him one of them. Anyways he went on and on about this really creepy stuff but then Elder Evans asked if he had been diagnosed with any mental illnesses, to which he admitted to being criminally insane. So yeah that was probably the craziest experience of my mission so far. I'm not even sure if we'll want to see him again. He'll need help moving though, so we can do that.
Thursday we had trade-offs. I stayed in Bracken Ridge but one of the zone leaders, Elder Fao'logo worked with me for a day. He was really cool, he's 26 years old and already has a uni degree in computer technology or something but he was fun to serve with. We found one guy who just invited us in and we tried teaching him about our message and he kept connecting it to anime he had seen which was pretty funny but he invited us back which is good.
Nothing else that big happened this week, except for the fact we found 21 potential investigators which is the jackpot in this mission, we usually don't get any more than 8 or 9 a week. A few of them were pretty dodgy but some of them seem to be really solid. 
Nephi's baptism is this week, we're really excited for that, so we started getting to program together and I have confidence it'll go well. Nephi wants me to baptize him since I was one of the ones who started teaching him. 
So yeah it was a good week this week, unfortunately we didn't teach as many lessons as we wanted to but we worked our best. I've been reading Articles of Faith by James E Talmage in my free time, I highly recommend, it's a good read. 
Love Elder Cummings

July 3, 2016

June 26, 2016

June 19, 2016

June 12, 2016

Thanks goodness we're on the last week of the transfer. Unfortunately we aren't going to have any baptisms other than the one we had the first week of this transfer. This week we had a really good zone conference. President Henderson gave a really good training about Joseph Smith and his experiences with the Book of Mormon, highlighting the mission mantra "Vision is paramount, obedience is the price, faith is the power, love is the motive" and how each of those things played into Joseph Smith's introduction to, obtaining of, translating, and publishing of the Book of Mormon. It was really insightful. Then President and Sister Henderson have some departing counsel since they'll be leaving at the end of the month. We were able to teach or less active friend Roy a couple times, his dads the branch president up in Mount Isa, which is waaaaay out in the bush, but he's recently become really interested again in coming back to church and learning about the Plan of Salvation. One of the members we had dinner with was the Farani family, Sister Farani forgot we were coming so she got us Subway sandwiches with ice cream and cookies for dessert. That's something we don't have enough of, haha. We've been continuing to teach Nephi, getting him ready to be baptized, but we need to talk to bishop to work out a couple things before we set a date. Church was good, that night we had splits with the mission prep class and we were able to teach 4 lessons, 3 of which were lessons to nonmembers, so we were just able to cinch our 8 lessons with members present goal. I went with two brothers Edward and Ethan Key. Edward's a ward missionary and he's come out with me and Elder Smith a few times, and we've had dinner with the Keys before. They're really cool. They were telling me about this thing I should try called a Tim-Tam slam, which I would love to explain but they don't have Tim-tams in the states. They're like these chocolate covered wafer sandwich things. This morning we had a mission-wide conference call and the mission president rebuked everybody because apparently there's a lot of companionships not getting up before 6:30, staying more than an hour at lessons/dinner appointments, not studying for specific investigators in the mornings, not setting enough back up plans for the day, etc etc. Me and Elder Smith are already super obedient so we tried thinking of some ways we could increase our obedience but we just resolved to staying more energetic throughout the day, since we're already super obedient anyways. Well that's about it, love you lots and talk to you later!
Elder Cummings

June 5, 2016

This week went by really fast, holy cow. We were able to teach some good lessons this week. One the kids we're teaching is super on track to getting baptized at the end of June. The other baptismal date we had, well, their family didn't show up to church again. We'll have to rebuke them when we see them again this week (just kidding). Last week while we were finding we found someone who wanted us to do some service for them, for once. He was this guy named Gary and he's building his own boat, which is really cool, but he wanted us to help sweep up and organize his garage area. We had a long conversation with him about our beliefs and about his beliefs (he was a very lax Buddhist) and it was good because he had a lot of questions like what we thought about the election and stuff coming up, which we obviously know nothing about. We had zone meeting on Tuesday which was awesome because the senior couple brought candy bars for everyone. One of our zone leaders, Elder Myers, is going home this transfer. He's the one I went on trade-offs with last transfer. He's really cool. The next day we had interviews with President Henderson. They're pretty short because he's a really busy man, always running around and stuff. We're going to have another interview soon but it's hard to organize one since he's always all over the mission and he hardly ever has any free time. We have zone conference this week so it'll probably be then. Hmmm other than that we had a lot of less actives come to church again, as well as 3 of our investigators (one of which is a woman who was baptized but they lost her records because she's moved around a lot, so we're trying to work her and her husband towards baptism, but for now she technically counts as an investigator). Yesterday we went finding for like 4 hours. We rarely go finding that long in a single day. We talked with this one guy outside his house for like 20 minutes and he was ranting about how he has documented proof that chemo worsens cancer, fruit can cure cancer, Muslims will take over Australia with Sharia law, Donald Trump is the only person in America with any sense, vaccinations cause autism and health defects, the medical industry as a whole is run by criminals, so on and so on. During those times you just kind of have to sit there and smile and when he takes a breath you just say "Man, there's a lot of crazy stuff that goes on in the world, but that's why we have the gospel..." but by then they start talking about something else. That's one of the blessings of the gospel though, is how simple it is. I don't know if you've heard but there was tons of flooding here. Luckily in our area there was only a couple places where it was really bad, so our day went pretty much as normal, there was just a couple places we had to avoid because they were flooded over. I wish I had pictures but it was crazy. By the next day, though, everything was back to normal. I'm sure if you look it up on the news you can get an idea of how bad it was. Anyways, that's pretty much it for the week. Me and my companion are pretty concerned because in re-activating and teaching several of the single adults in our ward, they've created this love hexagon between them all. It's pretty hilarious to watch. Love you all
Elder Cummings

May 29, 2016

May 25, 2016

May 2, 2016

April 25, 2016

Yeah it's strange, I totally get it now when people always said the days go by slow but the weeks go by fast. So far the month is going by pretty slow though. This week not much happened other than ANZAC day, which is kind of a combination of Memorial/Veteran's day for Australians. They have a lot of localized parades and marches called "dawn services" and we were lucky to have one march right outside our flat while we were having breakfast. I'll email you a photo next week but I forgot my camera at the flat. We did a lot of door knocking that day but most people weren't home. The people who were though liked telling us about their family history though. 
Over the week we were able to find a couple new investigators. It's really hard to get people interested. The people here have become so disillusioned with truth and religion that most people believe all religions are true or none of them are. What's important to most people is if it makes a person do good in the world, and they see the Mormon church as just another interpretation of the Bible. A lot of other people believe that they already have Jesus Christ in their lives and everyone finds them in their own way, and others find it through and organized church. So it's a challenge getting people to keep commitments that will allow them to feel the Spirit testify that the LDS church is The Savior's own church. Regardless, my testimony continues to stay strong. 
Elder Cummings

April 17, 2016

April 10, 2016

Well things are definitely looking up. There's not enough time to write about everything that happens in a week, but I'll try to hit the main points. Thursday and Friday I went down to the chapel in downtown Brisbane, right next to the temple, to this thing called Golden Orientation (goldens are what they call the greenies here, because of their golden spirit). It was mostly hours and hours of training on how to teach, pray, plan, study, etc. by the Spirit. It was pretty great though. Thursday night we had to walk to the restaurant we were eating dinner at, and along the way we had to talk to people and pass out pass along cards and such. It's kind of funny because both of my companions for G.O. (we were in a trio) were a lot more timid than I am (because one of them didn't speak much English and the other was in my MTC district, and he talked all the time about how talking to strangers scared him). Even though I'm normally pretty timid, when I realize I have no other choice but to be the leader I'm pretty good at taking the lead. The restaurant was this really good place called Fish 53 but we just had burgers and fries and salads, nothing special. The next morning we had more training and we also did breakout sessions where we trained on door knocking, teaching lessons, and GQing (finding people while just walking around outside). Oh wait, but before that I should say we stayed in a hotel downtown. I thought it was kind of funny because it was the Goddess Diana hotel or something and it had all these statues of Diana which I thought was interesting since Paul in the New Testament rebuked a lot of people for worshipping idols of Diana. In the early morning we did this workout the mission president and his wife want us to do called snap gravity. The origin is a long story but basically the president wants us to get up in the morning, so full of energy, that the sound of us getting out of bed is the sound of gravity snapping from the recoil. It's a pretty intense workout just doing pushups and burpees and planks and those sort of things. We also had breakfast at the hotel and I was able to try some vegemite. It wasn't gross per se, but there's just no reason at all to put in on bread because it adds nothing, flavor wise. I really liked General Conference. Here, they broadcast it at the chapel a week after it airs in the states. It's kind of funny because there's two wards who meet at our building, but for the Saturday sessions and the Sunday afternoon session there's only 15-25 people who show up to watch conference. The people here are just so laid back. It's part of the reason we work with so many less actives. For the most part they're totally righteous people who believe in the gospel and all that but they just don't feel like making an effort to go to church. My favorite talk was given in priesthood session, and it was about how Jesus Christ was the perfect follower and the perfect leader, and how we can be great leaders by being followers of Jesus Christ. I wish I could take pictures of all the different kinds of birds I see, but you know rules are rules. A couple of the missionaries say that the general authorities have called the ABM the most obedient mission and I can totally see why. My companion, Elder Smith, is a great Elder. He's being a really good trainer. But in his efforts to be exactly obedient, he often tries to find rules where there are none. Kudos to him though. The ward members are really great. We haven't had too many dinners yet, but the ones we've had have been great. People just give what they have here. I'm just about out of time, so I'll email again next week. Thanks for all your support and the emails. By the time p-day rolls around I'm super excited to hear from you. 
Elder Cummings

April 3, 2016

March 30, 2016—From his Mission President and wife

March 25, 2016

March 18, 2016

Hey guys it's crazy how much stuff has happened in only a week, I've been looking forward to getting back on the computer since Sunday. Overall the MTC is great but a lot of the reason for that is that I have awesome fellow missionaries in my zone. This week we started teaching TRC investigators, which is a little more of a realistic setting even though they're actors. But I forget that every time I go in the room and visit with them because it feels very real and the discussions that happen are really spiritual. One of our investigators is Nathan and he's a non member going to BYU so he knows a lot of people in the church but wants to know more. He had a lot of deep questions that were hard to answer but we helped him understand that knowing the answers to those questions weren't necessary for his salvation, but that having faith in Jesus Christ and gaining a testimony would lead to those answers he's looking for. He was really satisfied with what we taught and I think he could end up getting baptized someday, but we only teach him for this week. our other investigator is Jonathan, he's a history teacher who's German, but left home when he was 17 and had a pretty action packed life. He's really insightful and intelligent and has studied several religions but has never really considered being a part of one, so we've spent a lot of time talking about things like the Godhead and how they each play a role in our salvation. He seems especially interested in the Holy Ghost, and how he works, he's asked us questions like how we know it's the Holy Ghost communicating with us and the circumstances that we're in when we can feel the Holy Ghost. So we're trying to help him understand we're not their to teach him the facts but to help him gain his own faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ so that he can follow Him. I just realized last week on our temple walk we took some pictures but I forgot my camera back at the residence. Oops, I'll just send them next week. I've been studying the Book of Revelations really in-depth during my personal time in the last week, and Joseph Smith says its "one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written." So once you uncover the symbolism and what things represent you can actually learn a lot about the plan of salvation. Of course I've also been studying the Book of Mormon, especially the words of Isaiah found in 2 Nephi, because Nephi and even Jesus Christ (when he visits the Nephites) endorse the writings of Isaiah and they say there's a lot to be learned from them. That's everything I can think of right now other than I found out I'm leaving the MTC on the 28th and realized I'll be here for Easter, so one of the twelve Apostles is likely to be here so we'll see if that happens. 

March 11, 2016

Hey guys things have been pretty crazy already. I didn't know what to expect from the MTC but definitely not this. So since none of my friends explained when they were in the MTC I guess I'll explain it a little. Basically you do a lot of studying from Preach my Gospel and the scriptures and stuff but you also spend a ton of time teaching people like they're investigators. Sometimes it's your own teacher, which is really weird trying to pretend they're an investigator when twenty minutes ago they were teaching you about the missionary purpose. Apparently we also teach actual non-members that volunteer to be here too. I assume the guys in charge of the MTC realize that can be really detrimental and might burn a lot of bridges since we're all new. The first night we were in groups of 100 or so teaching a person one at a time, and when this one guy was speaking he said something that implied he thought the investigator just had a made up story and we were all just practicing how to teach, but the investigator (who was abused by her dad and lost a child) got all offended and upset about that. Yeesh. That was a mess. I can't believe it's only the third day, the days seems to drag on forever. The food is okay but half the meals ended up with me having a stomach ache, and I don't even eat that much. The rooms are pretty cold at night but luckily there's a couple extra bunks so I borrowed an extra comforter from one of those. The guys I'm staying with are all going to Australia. I scored with my companion, Elder Hanley. He's from Washington, and he was converted about a year and a half ago when he was 17 but his parents kicked him out for joining the church, so he's been living out of the house for a while already. But he's super articulate and knows a lot already for being a new convert. We're really in sync and the lessons we've taught already have went really well. He's going to the Adelaide mission though. The other two Elders in my dorm are Pierce and Nemeth. They're both going to Brisbane too. Pierce is from one of the Carolinas and he was the one who was in the Deseret Book just minutes before I was when I went to get garments. Nemeth is from Duvall Washington or somewhere in the Seattle area. The sisters in my district are pretty cool too, and last night we met the branch presidency, and they're nice too. My companion was called as the district leader so that makes me his senior companion, so while he's responsible for getting the mail and giving assignments and stuff I'm the one who's supposed to make sure he's doing all of it. The branch presidency was telling us last night that I'd be able to call you from the airport when I leave the MTC. I'll have more info later since they didn't really tell us much since it was only our second day. It definitely feels different here, even though its the same church I've known since I was little it feels completely new at the MTC. It's also really hard to wake up so early and it's generally really busy all day. Okay well that's pretty much it for the last couple days so I'll email you guys later.