Monday, October 12, 2009

My Last Letter Before Going Home

12 Oct 2009
Dear Family,

Thank you for your wonderful letters this morning. I really feel appreciative of how you feel about my service. The apostles always are so humble in how they feel about their assignments and how they feel inadequate.

This week wasn't too bad. I still did my best to put forth as much effort as possible even though I will not immediately see the fruits of my work. I got sick this week. For the first time on my mission i spewed after shortly after receiving a blessing from Elder Jenkins. I am feeling much better though right now. I will just need to stay well so i am fine on the flight. I think it may have been some meat i cooked.

Elder Jenkins is doing well as usual. He's a funny character. He's been able to keep me going. President Porter said he's convinced that i can marry anyone and that I'll get along with her. But I will still choose the right one. Man am i going to miss the missionaries in this area and especially President Porter.

General Conference was amazing. I was able to attend all sessions. We had three sessions on Saturday and it was pretty long. The other two were on Sunday in the avo. I can't remember them all, but i enjoyed the ones by President Uchtorf, Elder Bednar, President Eyring, Elder Holland, and Elder Callister( who is the our area prsdncy). I am going to have to reread them all and take better notes. I get an idea and then try and write it down and then forgot how it was worded.

We had some investigators that we've been trying to get to church that were able to make it to the conference. They were able to come to the last session of both days. Patrick is a member and Moka is not a member. We are going to have another lesson with them tonight. They've been taught awhile. We also have another invstgtr, Lez Walden, who wants to get baptized this weekend. He said he was rereading the pamphlets and he said everything is really starting to click together even greater than before. He is just working on keeping some other commitments.

On Wednesday, I will be having my interview with President Porter for the last time on my mission. I want to have my packing done before Wednesday. Most likely i will be finishing the packing on Wednesday. I got an iefaikaga(don't know how to spell it) , but i won't wear it until i get home. I will be getting a couple more things today but i don't want to spend too much.

I love you all.

Elder Cashmore

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Full of Joy & Finishing Strong!

5 October 2009
Dear Family,

Thank you so much for your letters this morning. I am full of joy in reading your letters and desire to finish strong here and continue strong and faithful in the next stage of my life.

If we are planning on getting back from SB @ 8:30, then we might reschedule for the next day. But I would prefer to meet with him that night, if its possible. I guess he doesn't release missionaries every week, so he might be flexible, but i know he is busy. Of course, I'll be flexible. I'll leave it up to you and President Ridgeway.

This week went fairly well. It was a bit hard due to the many indicators that my mission is coming to a close.

The highlights of this week were our baptism on Saturday for the Tusa family. Monica, Maria, Jasmin, and Emmanuel were all baptized and confirmed and they are really solid. The mom bore a powerful testimony of her family coming to church and how happy she is.

The fast and testimony meeting was packed for Balmoral ward. I don't think i have ever seen so many people waiting on the stand to bear their testimonies. I hope the work continues forward in this area and that my last week and a bit I only help the work move forward and do not hinder it.

I also had a very wonderful interview with President Porter. I am going to miss him a lot. I probably got to know him a bit better than President Cook, but i love them both very much. President Porter has helped me overcome some of my challenges. He gave me some very wise counsel that i hope to follow every day. I have been working on trying to follow the Spirit better and understand impressions better.

I am also looking forward to Gen Conf. this Sat and Sun.

To answer Camilles question, i probably won't have much of an accent. The only time it comes out is when i am in lessons, teaching or reading from the scriptures. If you want, i will try to give an impression when i get back of how kiwis speak. I will definitely have some vocabulary that you will catch me saying that I've picked up. You'll enjoy that!

Thank you Blake for writing. We should exercise together in the morning.

The last thing i wanted to do was to write in my testimony. I know that God lives and that he knows me. I know who Jesus Christ is better than before. When i feel the Spirit i begin to think, feel, and act as the Savior would. I know Joseph Smith was and is a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. I love the Book of Mormon and know that it really is for our day. I am so happy and hope to remain humble and steadfast.

Thank you again. I should be able to receive your emails next week.

Love, Elder Cashmore

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Zealand Temple Trip, Sept. 2009

This was Elder Cashmore's last time to go to the temple before being released. It was a wonderful day for him. This was one-third of the mission. The other pictures are on the mission blog link in the side bar. Elder Cashmore is on the top row, fourth elder from the left. Click the picture to see an enlargement.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Upcoming Baptisms

28 Sept. 2009
Dear Family,

Thank you for your wonderful emails. That was a neat surprise to hear that Brad Jarvis is dating someone from the Spanish branch. I remember going on splits with the Zone Leaders that covered the singles ward and we ran into some mexicans on the street and luckily we each had some skill in the language, but not much.

One of the missionaries was telling me that in the orientation for departing missionaries that they tell us how to give hugs properly. I don't know if he was fibbing or not. It just reminded me of what you said about Michael Kerns giving u a hug.

I really am enjoying my time in the area and having Elder Jenkins here. He is a great missionary. I was a bit discouraged about how our day was going on Saturday, but we kept going. The best companionships are the ones where we push each other and inspire each to remain diligent so that we can recieve the fruits of our efforts.

On Saturday, we went over to Ward St. to tract and we started talking to people in the area. I then had the thought that we should go see one of our part-member families on Paice St. We quickly visited and then left and talked to a lady outside who said we could come by Monday night. We didn't even get a chance to share anything with her, but she allowed for us to come back. Hopefully she is interested.

This week we were able to set 5 people for baptism for the coming weeks. First we set Faga(pronounced Fanga), for the 17 of October and her and her member partner will be getting married on the 9th of October. We also have another Samoan family we've been teaching, named the Tusa family. The mom is a member and the father is very supportive and apparently is a less-active member too, but has been going to another church. The four oldest kids, Monica, Maria, Jasmin, and Emmanuel will be baptized this Saturday. We have set a goal for 7 baptisms this months for our companionship. I am grateful that Elder Jenkins will be able to experience some success at the beginning of his mission. I did as well, but it wasn't until the end of my second transfer. But all good.

The weather has been pretty wet this last week. I was on a tradeoff with an Elder Luckhardt, and we got totally drenched! Within minutes of leaving the flat, it started a hard downpour of rain. We ran over to a porch and stood there for several minutes. Then we shot off again. There was a lot of flooding. There was water about a half foot deep on some of the sidewalks on a Mt. Albert Road, a main road in our area.

What is Blake sick with? It could just be the weather changes. Some of our investigators have been catching the cold or flu.

Are we planning any visits to the Los Angeles temple any time after i arrive back in California? I was going to buy new garments in my last temple trip, but didn't get a chance to; i need to get some when i get back.

Thats great to hear how the ward is doing with missionary work. I hope the singles ward is similar. I want to be as much help to the missionaries in whatever ward i live and serve in. I don't know how much time i will have, but i know that i need to spend some time every week. I think that is something i have learned more deeply is that missionary work is a combined effort of members and missionaries. Sharing the gospel is incomplete without one or the other. We have had some neat experiences with our ward mission leader in Mt. Albert ward in visiting families and organizing fellowshippers to support those we teach.

Thank you again. I love you all.

Elder Cashmore

Temple Surprises

21 Sept. 2009
Dear Family,

Thank you for your wonderful letters. This last week went well and it was also a bit tiring. The temple trip was inpsiring and the Zone Conference was probably the best one I've been to. I don't know if it was because it was my last one, but Elder Smith from my intake (and my MTC comp) said that he felt the same. The testimonies of the missionaries finishing this transfer were very touching. Another missionary from our intake, Elder Larson, had his father pass away several months back and it was extremely hard for him to keep on going. Another missionary, Elder Hausianthang (one of the first missionaries from Myanmar), got sick with diabetes on his mission and had to leave, but decided to stay. I really love the missionaries from my intake.

One of the neat things that occurred at the temple was that Gaye Miecklejohn that I helped baptize at the beginning of my mission was going through for her endowment for the first time. Of course, there were also many members from that ward and the stake in general. I really love my first area and the members of the Whangarei 2nd ward. I also saw Bishop Reti and he was surprised to still see me here. I told him when i was going and he said that whenever I come back that I will always have a place to stay! He is one of the funniest leaders I've met. I've mentioned before, but he reminds me of bro. Beazley. What nationality is Brother Beazley?

We had a lesson with the Tusa family and only one lesson. It went very well. They also came to church this Sunday, as they have for the last couple of Sundays. In our MCM, we were talking about how to get the father involved. We discussed that the best way is to get the mother fully active and have the children influence through their example. We told the mom that her kids are ready to be baptized. We are looking at setting a date with them within the next several weeks. We also had two baptisms this weekend with Tina Grove and her daughter Breanna getting baptized. It was a really good turnout from the ward. I think the ward is starting to pick up with these baptisms. They've mentioned splitting our area and putting a new companionship in the other ward. It probably won't happen until after I leave.

My new comp is Elder Jenkins. He is an American from Virginia and is also a "military brat". He has lived in Germany, Alabama, Texas, and some other states. He has also gone to school a little bit in BYU and BYU-I. He came in on Wednesday and then went down to the temple and Zone Conference on Thursday. He is still quite tired as i am. This last week i woke up at 4am two mornings. But then again President Porter and the APs have to do that for three days. I am glad to have a companion that wants to work. I just want to make sure that he starts his mission right and that he is instilled with urgency and purpose. He is much older than me and he is much more prepared than i was when i started. I am grateful to President Porter for giving me one last opportunity to train again. I know where my confidence is more now than before. I still get nervous doing some things, but missionary work is hardly convenient.

Thanks for the updated information about the schooling and the flight itinerary. I still haven't gotten it from the mission office yet. Oh well.

I love you all and have a fantastic week. I look forward to going to the temple more often when i return home. Our temple trips are infrequent and short. But they are still meaningful.

Love, Elder Cashmore

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Lasts of My Mission

14 Sept. 2009
Kia Ora Family,

I really enjoyed your emails this morning. We are a bit late to getting to an email shop/cafe simply because we had a zone leader/district leader meeting. It was just our Zone Leaders, and one other district leader besides myself. It was a very spiritual meeting discussing needs of the districts and zone and what our focus will be this coming transfer.

Elder Lausi'i has been transferred to Papatoetoe. I am on an extended tradeoff with Elder Samani, who was in my district last transfer as well. I never got to go on a tradeoff with him last transfer just because i wasn't allowed to when Elder Hunter was there and i felt it wouldn't be good with Elder Lausi'i. Elder Samani and I are receiving our new companions on Wednesday. I don't yet know his name or where he is from. They were delayed due to visa requirements, but it will be good to have them here soon.

Tomorrow we have our temple trip and it will be my last one in New Zealand as a missionary. I am really excited and all the missionaries attending will be fasting during the time in the temple. It will be an experience of accountability to the Lord for the past few months since our last time in the temple and also for gaining greater knowledge and insight into our relationship with the Father and the Son. President Porter is really wanting us to gain that. Its interesting to note, and Elder Samani realized this, that President Hinckley mentioned this as the first gift that every missionary should receive from his/her mission.

The last couple of days Elder Samani has been sick and we have been in the flat for the majority of the time. But on Sunday we were able to do splits so that i could go to my wards in Balmoral and Mt. Albert, and he could go to his Tongan ward in Mt. Roskill 4th. A very willing member brother, Brother Karaitiana (karaitiana=Christian; in maori) was able to to come with me from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm.

Yesterday we had a miracle happen. While i was in Balmoral ward, Bro. Talisa from the Bishoprick came up to me and told me there was a sister who had some children that she wanted to have taught and baptized. We ended up talking to her and being able to set up a time with her and her four children on Wednesday. She has been just coming back to church and her husband is also a non-member so there is an opportunity to have the Spirit touch his heart and help him accept it as well. The Lord has been blessing us greatly. We just need to continue to be obedient, diligent, and humble.

Thank you for getting back to me with that information. I was just thinking that i don't know when they will be doing the class orientations. Thank you Dad for giving me some more information on what to do. Right now i feel doing a major in mechanical [engineering] would be the best and then plan on specializing more specifically when i get home. I was also thinking of doing a minor or having some other skills available as well.

I am also glad that i will be only going to LAX instead of up to Santa Maria. I was just thinking of staying the day in LA but realized that i still would need to be released. It will be good to see President Ridgeway again. I love him very much and respect him.

Also, tomorrow I will be sharing my testimony with the Zone Conference and it will be a neat experience since every Zone Conference, we see others sharing their concluding testimonies.

I love you all. Be sure not to always keep reminding me of getting home. I have plenty of reminders here. I need to remain diligent. I will try and not write as much myself in regards to asking about school and other things back home.

You'all are the best. Love ya's.

Elder Cashmore

Time Is Flying By

7 Sept. 2009
Kia ora Family,

How is everyone doing? The weather sure has been nice the last couple of days here in Auckland. The skys are clear and blue and hardly any clouds, which is different, considering that New Zealand in maori is Aotearoa, meaning "Land of the long white cloud". I love sunny weather and warm days.

Transfers is this week and I will most likely be staying here in Mount Roskill. I don't mind if i get transferred again, but it would be wierd finishing with only 5-6 weeks to go in a completely foreign ward where I'd need to get to know the ward again. It is quite likely that my companero will be getting shifted. He is quite a funny missionary. We are almost like brothers or siblings, one moment having a bit of disagreement and then in the next laughing about something ridiculous that occurred during the day.

We have this new Samoan investigator named Sifaga. She has been an investigator for one week and has been coming for the past 3 weeks to church and came to the Stake Conference yesterday. Her partner is a member. We invited her to be baptized and explained to her how to prepare for it. They are going to talk about getting married prior to our next visit on Wednesday. They are staying with his brother's family, who are fairly active. We will need to work on finding additional fellowship.

By the way, thats exciting to hear about Marty getting baptized tomorrow. Did i ever meet him? Does he have a family? That will be exciting for Dad to baptize him. Some of the neatest baptisms are when there is a close friend baptizing and for me some of the best have been in rivers and lakes. Unfortunately i didn't get a chance to actually be in the water, but just witnessing was enough.

Thanks for letting me know about the Christmas trip to NZ. I am not that fond of long flights. The last one wasn't the greatest experience. It should be better going back. I was probably a bit fearful on the way over.

What if we did a family trip elsewhere in the states during Christmas time. What about going to Arizona. We haven't seen family over there in ages. When we go down to San Diego, how long will we stay there?

Last night we had an awesome lesson with a part member family. This family is different because the less-active father is really coming back well and he is wanting his partner to participate and come to church with him. Our previous lesson was on the experience Enos had and how prayer can change our natures and how we can seek forgiveness and direction. But last night i felt we could move forward with the Restoration. We could tell the Spirit was there just by how smoothly the words came and she readily accepted the pamphlet and the copy of the Book of Mormon. We'll be seeing them on Wednesday. Bishop Halafuka is getting his records transferred from Hamilton for James and has invited him to ask his partner to marry him! Bishop gets right onto it and is very supportive.

I know these last weeks are going to fly by. I have much to complete and fulfill, but i must do my best. I love you all. Give my love to Grandma Cashmore and also to Grandma and Grandpa Dungy.

Love, Elder Cashmore