Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teaching and serving the Thanksgiving way

This week was pretty good. For Thanksgiving we are just planning to hit a couple of members houses who wanted us over for dinner, so we will be eating all day. Some guys at PCC invited us to come and play touch rugby over at BYU. The 4th ward invited us to their turkey bowl too. I love that you can do Thanksgiving stuff here and not have to freeze your butt off.

We did some service a few days ago where we moved these huge logs behind Reno Mahe's moms fruit stand. The logs were going over the umu that Titas Grill is going to use to make 250 turkeys for the homeless and senior couples. The hole was huge!

It has been getting colder here too (65 degrees) haha! I'm gonna be in some trouble when I get home. I have to wear a hoodie when it gets below 70.

I need to do better at journal writing...I am really no good at that at all.

Working on your health is good. It is now officially been said over the pulpit in General Conference so everyone should be doing it. I can testify that being healthy = being happy. Less stress when you are fit, I've seen both ends of that since I've been here.

I haven't had any confirmation that I am actually leaving (transfer) yet. I won't know until this Sunday. It is not likely that I will stay here but there is still a chance. I will miss a lot of the people that I have met here but at the same time I am ready for some change. It is not like being at home where you can be just fine staying in one area for a long time. Here we love the people and all but there is so much that we can't do in each area so we just want to get out of there and find a new place with new people. It is kinda hard to explain. But there is a reason missionaries don't spend two years in one area.

Me and Elder Young Yen went on a split again, which seems to be happening a lot. We taught a second lesson to this couple from the east coast. They are very open and the spirit is so strong in the lessons. They have gone through a tough time as a couple and are looking for something to help them be happy.

Our most recent lesson with them was on the plan of salvation which was perfect for them. They really want to be a family forever. At the very beginning of the lesson we asked if they had any specific questions. The husband asked us this really long question where he voiced his frustrations and asked how we deal with our frustrations daily. I pointed at the Book of Mormon in front of him and told him read and pray. I love that I have gotten to the point where those kind of answers have become automatic. I know without a doubt in my mind that the Book Of Mormon is 100% true and that Heavenly Father wants to hear from us every day and He knows what we need most.

I hope you have another great week!

Alofa ia te oe!
Elder Kingston Matua

Nine weeks into it and lovin every moment

We start week nine this Wednesday. Time has never flown so fast. What's also kinda crazy is that it's probably not going to be our last week here. If you're confused, it's okay because I myself am still super confused.

We went into the travel office earlier this to check on our visa status. The travel agents told us that they had already reassigned us...but now our reassignments our canceled because our visa's are on their way? We all became really excited finding out, "Hey! We're all going to be in Taiwan in 2 weeks." But now we have to wait another week or so until our visa's actually get here. So I'll be 11 possibly 12 weeks in the MTC, which I'm not too upset about. After that, we were thrown a curve ball when Elder Liston's mom told him in a letter that he had been reassigned to Atlanta.. Now every one's confused again. But I should know where I'm going... as soon as I'm on the plane. That's what I'm waiting for now hahah. It's fun.

Besides that, nothing too exciting has happened. Just the usual - lots of study, lots of eating, and not enough sleep. Life is good.

Thanksgiving should be super fun. We have a General Authority devotional in the morning (we have yet to hear from an apostle in our eight weeks here, but rumor is it's going to be David A. Bednar. But there's lots of rumors that go around this place that aren't true so yeah). After the devotional, there's like a missionary program..? I'm guessing it's like a primary program..with missionaries. SUPER excited about that.... haha. No, it'll be good. After the program, we're doing a huge humanitarian service project. We're supposed to be making over 300,000 meal packs. It's going to be awesome.

Dad, what's the deal with Samoa? That makes me sad that they aren't doing to well. It also sounds like the USA-Fiji game was pretty close. Somebody told me the Cavs lost to the Jazz, and I started laughing, I guess that 'dream team' isn't doing so hot either. Can't wait to hear how the upcoming season goes for the boys. Do you remember a kid named Morgan Clawson? He played for you when you coached Kingston. I guess he played wing. He saw my last name and recognized it, and when I said Kingston's name it clicked.

I saw Elder Toki last night! He left this morning which is pretty crazy that he was already here for two weeks and that was the only time I saw him. I passed him in the cafeteria and I thought to myself, that kid looks super familiar. I noticed his name tag read 'Elder Toki', so I grabbed his arm. He looked at me like I was crazy, and it took him a minute to figure out who I was. Then, without saying anything he gave me the biggest hug. It was hilarious. What a great man. I think he said he was going to North Carolina?

I really need to write a letter to the boys, tell them to look forward to that this week. I miss them too much. Since being here, I've learned how easy it is to drive the spirit away.

It's good to hear Mica, Chris, and Sehyeon are hanging out together. They are good for each other. Especially Mica and Chris for Sehyeon. They can impact his life more than they think. But It makes me happy Mica is hanging out with those two. Now all he has to do is get John, Ramsey, and Bub to hang with them. That would be a powerful group of young men.

Mom, did you get that card? Thank you so much for all of the many packages. I'll have to take a picture of my stash and send it to you (I forgot my camera in the residence again, you'll get a lot of pictures next week).

I actually went off MTC campus this week to go to physical therapy with Elder D (he has shin splints). We walked from the Hospital across the street from Provo High back to the MTC because they didn't have a return shuttle to pick us up and take us back. It was really cool, but It made me feel like a celebrity. EVERY body was honking their horns, some crazy high schoolers (or BYU students?) put their head out their windows and yelled, THE CHURCH IS TRUE. It was really cool. For the first time since I was set apart in President Makai's office, I felt like I was set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ.

I'm sorry there's not too much to report. I'll try to make something funny happen this week...haha
My testimony of the gospel grows every day here. I am surrounded by amazing people who help me grow. Again, my teachers are incredible. They have impacted my life so much. I enjoy being here, and I enjoy being a missionary. I feel Heavenly Father's love for me every day.

I miss you so much family. I hope all is well. I wish you guys a fantastic Thanksgiving! Love you all!
Ma Zhang Lao

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An honorary Hau'ula citizen

So as we were getting back from our temple trip I heard someone talking to my companion and asking me to come outside. I already knew who it was and what she wanted to talk about haha.

Sis Ofahengaue was asking me why I didn't email my mother yesterday. Haha! We have our P-day today because we had a temple trip and yesterday we did service for the visitors center. We set up Christmas trees.

The temple this morning was great, so grateful for the chance that I've had to go so much here in Laie.

The people here in the wards I serve in are telling me that I should just move my records into the ward since I've been here so long. They said it feels like I'm just another local. I have been here for seven months so I should be leaving around the first week of December.

This past week was pretty good. We had zone conference on Friday. Always nice to hear from our mission leadership. I was able to have another good lesson with the other elders. Went with Elder Young Yen to teach one of their investigators. They are a really solid couple who really likes the concept of eternal families. We had a very spiritual lesson on the restoration. and they really liked it and want to continue. Even though it wasn't in our area, it was great to help deliver the some of the message of the restored gospel with some great people.

Elder Kingston Matua

Funny story but nothing more

Another great and super fast week here at the training center for missionaries. Again, nothing fantastic has happened except for life. Life is pretty fantastic.

Something super funny happened in class this week though. There is a sentence particle...? (I don't even know what to call it) in the chinese language; de (pronounced 'duh'). There's five different ways to use it. we were all pretty confused about it. So Li Lao Shi decided to spend a little more time on this grammar principle. One use is to describe how an action is being made. For example "wo kan mo'ermenjing kan 'de' hen kuai"--"I read the book of mormon very fast." He went around the room as everybody gave different examples. When it was my turn I said (AS AN EXAMPLE, no reflection whatsoever to my true basketball skills hahahah) 'wo da lan qui da de hen hao' ... "I play basketball very well." Yeah I didn't even think before I said that hahah. Very straight forward and sort of nonchalantly, li lao shi says, "chuanjiaoshi zhi shuo zhenshi de shiqing" "Missionaries only say things that are true".....

It took everybody a second to register what he said... then we all just busted up laughing. Yeah funny moment of the week haha

Sorry my letter is super short today. Really nothing going on.

Is mica okay? he told me you guys took him to the doctors and he has pneumonia? that's really sad. I hope he's doing okay.

I miss you guys all so much.

Consider this question: What can separate us from the love of the Lord? Yes, the answer is nothing. On the Lords part anyways. No matter who we are, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will always love us. It is only through our own choices that we push the love of Christ out of our lives. And even if we do so, He's more than willing to show us how much he loves us. We can feel the love of Christ in our lives daily. We must ask, and we must have faith.

I love you guys. Family, you have no idea how much I love you guys. I can't wait to be with you again.

You guys rock!
Ma Zhang Lao

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Choke Samoan food and failed appointments

Well this week was another rough one. We had most of our appointments fall through, but there was always something that came up right after the heartbreak of a missed lesson. Funny how that works.

I went on an exchange with Elder Young Yen to contact some of the Samoan families. They are a lot more open when there is someone there that is speaking their language - funny how that works too.

During ward council someone had jokingly brought up an older man who needed a blessing. The room went kinda quite and then we raised our hands and said that we volunteer. It was a less-active guy so it was a good way for us to get on his good side.

We spent time doing some service for the Eskaran family, I served in their sons ward in Kona. We were cutting that dang California grass, about 10-min after we finished I was destroyed by allergies. That was the first time in a long time. Not looking forward to that [allergies] when I get back to the cold dry place [Utah].

I ran into the Olers this week so that was yet another funny coincidence.

We have been getting choke Samoan food. The Samoan ward is feeding and Bishop Touli challenged everyone to feed us in their homes, and not just drop something off. Which is great, but every night ko'aga'i is a lot of food. But I can now say that I love taro, ulu, palusami, and all the other goods.

Another funny note - At almost every dinner there is either no salad, or the bowl of salad goes untouched all night haha! Them Samoans!

We have an Elder Iabeta here from Kiribati. Cool guy. You should ask the Wobel's and Nauluai's if they know his parents, Kokoria and Lita Iabeta.

Alofa atu mo matou uma! Faafetai lava mo lo outou lagolago mai ile galuega ma alolofa mai.

Alofa tele ia te oe!

Elder Kingston Matua

More MTC life and becoming tenacious

I just want to start off by saying I absolutely love you guys. I never said that as much as I should have, I just wish I could say it to you guys every day. I am always thinking about how blessed I am to have such an amazing family, and the two greatest parents on earth.

This week was really good. Things are really repetitive so nothing really exciting happens very often. However, we did go to the Mariott Center on Tuesday morning to listen to the devotional. Super cool, and way fun to get off the MTC campus even if it was like two blocks away haha. Elder David F. Evans spoke to us about being 'tenaciously righteous'. Interesting principle, but it works. The phrase goes good with what I want to be: a tenacious missionary.

In the Zone
Wednesday came around and it freaked all the missionaries in our zone out because we're like the old ones in our program at the MTC now (experience wise). It's awesome to think we only have about three weeks left here. I have enjoyed my time here so much. It is such an amazing place.

Tell Kenyon good job for me. Getting through a season playing Lehi football is quite the task.

I've seen the hand of God in my week through our teachers. They are wonderful people. Through the first month they switched around a little bit, but for the remainder of our stay here, we'll have the same two instructors. Awesome people!

Our main teacher's name is Li Lao Shi, or Mr. (brother) Foley. He served in New York, and got back a couple of months ago. Really funny guy. He connects with us super well and he is really helpful whenever we have any kind of question - Chinese, Gospel, MTC stuff, anything.

Our other main teacher is Wu Di Xiong, Brother Woosley. He served in Taiwan, I believe it was Taipei. Every teacher in our branch (there's about 12 or so) is referred to as 'Lao Shi'. Which is translated as 'teacher'. When I said the closing prayer after the first class we had with Wu Di Xiong (Di Xiong means brother), I asked Heavenly Father to please bless Wu Lao Shi. After he asked us to refer to him as Wu Di Xiong because he isn't our teacher, we are his teachers. He told us that we are set apart as servants of the Lord and he isn't. And from then on everybody just loves him because he's just super humble and he really REALLY helps us with anything and everything.

My teachers have helped me learn so much. They do a fantastic job at inviting the spirit and helping us carry it throughout the day.

Clownin' around near temple grounds
Last night we watched a recording of a devotional given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland. It was probably the funniest talk I've ever heard before, and also the most impactful. I had no idea Elder Holland had such a humor, everybody was laughing so hard. He also did his podium pounding which will always get you. He talked about how missions are forever. These next two years are the end of the beginning of a lifetime of service to the Lord. He said The quorum of the 12 are Apostles with a capital 'A', missionaries are apostles with a lower case 'a'. Never miss a chance to be apostolic. My job isn't to go through the motions. My job isn't to go and figure out what the world is like. My job isn't to travel to Taiwan go sightseeing. If I do these things, I know I will return in vain. I must not waste these next two years, nor any time following. My purpose is to truly invite others to come unto Christ. My job is to ASTONISH people. When I teach by the spirit, and bare testimony with all of my heart, The spirit will ASTONISH the people I come in contact with.

We also listened to another recording - a devotional by Brad Wilcox. His talk was called "His Grace is Sufficient". Probably one of the greatest talks I've heard as well. Mom and Dad I encourage you to somehow implement this into one of your next Sunday School lessons. It could have a great impact on some of the youth of our ward. I know it changed my life.

Nothing new. Same ole', same ole' here in the MTC.

I know Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. This mission isn't just marking two years of my life for full time missionary service, this mission is the beginning of my dedicated service to the Lord at all times, and in all things, and in all places. Being a full time missionary is an incredible opportunity. I have been more than blessed to take part in the Lord's work. I feel myself becoming more and more converted to the Lord every way. His work is becoming my work. I'm trying to make it personal for myself. I am finding even more joy in helping God's children come unto Christ.

1st MTC haircut - No one can cut my hair like dad!
No matter what your name is, no matter where you're from, You are a child of our Father in Heaven. He loves you beyond comprehension. I know at times it may seem you are on your own. It may seem as if God has forgotten you. But I can promise you this: He will never forsake you. Salvation does NOT come easy. The road to Salvation passes through Gethsemane. We will all go through our own personal Gethsemane, but we are not alone. The road to Salvation carries a cross on it's back. But I know nobody carries it alone. Christ is ALWAYS there with each of us. We must reach out to him.

Family, I love and miss you dearly. I hope things continue to be swell :-) I'll let you know when I get my reassignment, should be in two weeks.

You are all amazing. Love you!!

Ma Zhang Lao

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Working hard and praying harder

Me and Elder Young Yen
That is crazy that all those little ones (Pete, Morgan, Keanu) are getting baptized. That's pretty much how it is going to be now with all those little Kolowich kids growing up. They will all go through same phases we did as a family haha.

This will be the last Vegas trip that I miss haha, that is crazy! I think if United wants to continue to be a power in rugby they need to step back and remember why they are who they are. I can testify that a good youth sports program with the highest standards helped me to become the person I am today. Those boys should always have a chance to not only be their best but learn that there are things more important in life than just winning and recognition. I feel like my group was great in knowing that we were there for each other and as a result we did well and became better men. and now 90% of us are on missions.

For now I get to stay in beautiful Hau'ula. I find joy here everyday. When you put your problems behind you and show your love for the people, all problems tend to disappear. That is one of the greatest things that I have learned. People will be people, but when you can see them through the Lord's eyes, it is impossible not to love them. I'm sure you are having you own experiences with that at home and I'm sure I will experience it for the rest of my life.

All my clothes are fine other than I ripped a huge whole down the backside of one of my pants playing volleyball at a kids activity. The Sr. sister said she could fix it.

I loved the package thank you so much! Elder Young Yen was pumped to get something, he hasn't gotten anything since he's been here in Laie (4 months). It is too expensive for his family to send anything. He was very grateful and sends his love for you guys. I was praying for healthy stuff when I opened the box, but since it was Halloween I didn't think that was going to be the case. I allowed myself for some cheat time on that holiday. But I have decided that I really don't like Halloween or anything that it represents. Kinda lame.

I started cross-fit this morning. I will do it throughout Nov. until I get transferred. Me and and a couple of other elders will do it two times a week. The guy that runs it is pretty cool. I've just gotta get into some kinda shape here. I know I won't be great until after I get home and have a solid amount of time to workout, but I'll do what I can here.

Alofa tele mo outou uma
Elder Kingston Matua

Work, a new assignment and feeling the spirit

Another great week here at the MTC. I really need to start writing things down so I know what to talk about in these emails. Every day is actually pretty much the same. Wake up, grab breakfast, work out, study, lunch, class, dinner, class, study, go to bed haha. It's nice though. I really do love it here. Being a missionary is awesome.

The rest of the seasoned elders and sisters in our branch are all leaving tomorrow. Some of them left this morning, the rest will be gone by tomorrow night. They got their reassignments to Anaheim, San Fernando and Elder ward got reassigned to Salt Lake City which he has a great attitude about. He was the only missionary in that group of reassignments that wasn't from Utah so they sent him to the Salt Lake mission. I'm really sad because he was my best friend here. But it's okay, I'm sure I'll see him again.

We haven't heard any word on our reassignments yet. We should be getting them in two weeks. It's getting really backed up. There are a lot of missionaries still in the states waiting for their visas. I'm thinking I'll get to Taiwan around February or March. Whatever the Lord has in store for me, I'm excited either way. Plus I'll get to spend Christmas in the States!

They called me and Elder Liston as Zone Leaders. Kind of nervous about it. I feel super inadequate. But I know the Lord called me for a reason. I'm excited and happy to have the opportunity to grow in that area. Excited to serve.

Elder Uhi came in on wednesday! We have gym at the same time so I see him around a lot. He seems really happy. They made him the District Leader, and I'm sure he's loving it. Elder Whiting leaves tomorrow morning for Florida. Elder Horton got his visa for Brazil so he'll be leaving tomorrow as well.

Did you guys get my letter? I got super excited for the new clothes, and everybody LOVED the peanut butter bars. I sent you a letter, but I guess my letters haven't been getting there or something? Kaylee says she hasn't gotten a written letter from me for a while so I don't know what the deal with that is. It actually kind of frustrates me but oh well. yeah, thank you so much for the package. everything fits good, the ensign is awesome, everythings great! Thank you.

I got a package saying it was from the Mellors...but I opened it and it was a letter from Taylor? I don't know who Taylor is...maybe Taylor Soifua? I don't know, but if it is, thank her for me. It was a ton of Reeses, really nice.

I haven't gotten around to stop by the health clinic to grab a reimbursement form, i will this week.
Yesterday they announced the summer dress code has ended. so we have to wear a suit coat everyday now. I'm actually pretty happy about it. I love wearing my suits haha.

The language is still moving along. It's really hard, sometimes discouraging even. Its good though. During testimony meeting yesterday, I understood most of what was said so that's a good sign.
Everything else is super good. I can't believe I start week six on Wednesday. Time really does fly.
Over this past month I've spiritually grown a lot. One of the very important realizations I've come to is how much I love my family. Whenever I think about any one of you guys, Dad, Mom, Kingston, Mica, Kenyon, or Quinn, tears fill my eyes because I have discovered for this overwhelming, unconditional love for each of you. I'm so excited to be doing this. Being on a mission (granted I've only been in the MTC) has been a huge blessing. I've grown in ways I didn't think possible. I'm discovering new things about myself and about the Lord. It has been such a blessing. But I cannot wait to get home so I can talk to you guys again. When our family is all back together again, it is going to be a wonderful day. But until that day comes, I just want to let you guys know that I love you so much. Mom and Dad, i love you so much. I don't know why, but Heavenly Father put my into such an incredible family. I'm so very grateful for that.

I love and miss you. I hope this week treats you well.

Ma Zhang Lao

Ma Zhang Lao

I love getting mail and treats

With my dear friend Elder N. Uhi...G'House!

Me, Elder Steele & Elder Liston

Elder Steele, Elder Ward, me & Elder Liston

Elder Liston, me, Elder Crockett & Elder Gaithwright

Yes, we have fun in the MTC

Me and this South African stud, Elder Whiting - United Rugby!