3 August 2015 Mo'orea
Well, I'm not sure if I'll have any time to do any writing next week so I'll write this as if its my last letter.
Its been absolutely fantastique serving my mission here the last two years. It still really hasn't hit me that I'm leaving. It probably wont hit me until I'm home. I think it's better that way in the end. Well, I havent really prepared for a "last letter". I guess it should be filled with wonderful clichés and cheesy statements about missions and such. So, excuse me beforehand if it starts to smell a little like camembert.
I think a mission to Tahiti can only be understood by those that pass through the experience. The people are incredible, absolutely incredible. You take out the internet, wordly concerns, fear about what people think about you, and a whole boatload of other things and you may be able to start to understand the people here. They are so wonderfully charitable. You can talk with almost anyone, everyone calls each other "couzin". They are all so worried about being "american" or "European" that it is hilarious sometimes to see how they have "assimilated" these cultures. There exists a war between two very different cultures, occidental and islander, and I hope it's the islander that will win.
I'm going to miss being able to speak with people in Tahitian. I went through many pains to learn this mostly oral language. The language is about as living as the plants that are in a constant battle to reclaim the land that everyone fights their siblings for. There are not very many missionaries that speak Tahitian as well as I have been blessed to. I think there are maybe 4 or 5 of us, 3 of which are finishing. Sadly the language is slowly dying out. Some day I think I'll be a speaker of a dead language. But, that language helped with the conversion of many older people throughout my mission. Older people that could only be touched through their native language.
|We had a triple baptism of all children. |
We helped reactivate their families
and then the children were all baptised.
This is Ariirai.
|Moerava and her grandfather|
I'm not sure I'll ever eat as well as I have here. So many nights were passed with stomach aches that could have been avoided. But eats hard to resist when you have a Tahitian mami crying "Elder ma, Tamaa" and giving a stern pointed look that means "I made all this food, and someone better eat it".
The people here are incredibly spiritual and humble. Most first contacts are super spiritual experiences, and the people have a natural God-given thirst for the gospel. I think it comes from the fact that they are so purely part of the house of Israel. These people will feel the spirit, know it's true and accept baptism after having only met you within a couple of weeks. It's incredible to see their faith in Christ. It's incredible to see that the Spirit really talks to these people in their hearts, thoughts, and quite often dreams. It's so wonderful to be surrounded by faith instead of skepticism and sarcasm. That's a lesson everyone of us needs to learn. God commands us to be as children, not intellectually, but in a more faith based sense. It's a lesson every person raised in occidental culture needs to learn.
I learned enourmously here. It was really a refining time. I like the way I am now much more than how I was before I came to Tahiti. It's hard to describe internal changes, so I wont try. I think it's impossible to sum up the total accumulated knowledge of two years of study and teaching. As Elder Uchtdorf said, "I tried to contemplate the atonement, and could only come to this conclusion, that God loves every one of his children." (paraphrased) I think its the same for me. I understand a lot of things a whole lot better then I did when I left. Simply stated I know Christ lives. I know God is our Father, and that he wants us to become exactly like him! I know that we can change, and make commitments that will help us to achieve that goal. and that through the grace of Christ all this is possible. I stand by Nephi (chapter 11) when he said:
6 And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish.
7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.
Don't think I can express the sum total of my mission in any other way. Like Nephi that's what I love to do, and doing it with the power of the Book of Mormon changes lives, in time, and in eternity.
Love you all, and I'll see you very soon!
Faaitoito, à bientôt!