Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Monday, November 25, 2013

What up my Americans! I hope all is well!
To start off today, I would like to share a quote from a wonderful man in the branch that I'm in, here in Narooma. "If you look to close, you won't be able to see the forest through the trees" -Tim Adcock. I love this quote, it really got me thinking. If we look to closely and only focus on one thing, we'll miss the big picture! Life won't always go our way and it can be easy to focus on the bad things and all that weighs down on us, but if we're able to take a step back, zoom your lens out just a little, you will be able to see the big picture and see the blessings that can come from that experience, you will see how much you can grow.
This week has been a tough one, we didn't have the opportunity to teach a whole lot, but we did get to learn a lot! We had district and zone conference where we get to learn from our local church leaders how to be better people and continue to improve ourselves. I took about four pages of notes so I learned heaps! Here's some of the things that I learned:
Attitude is everything. Whether it be for church, school, or just around the neighborhood, your attitude will decide how you handle it. If you attend church because you have to, because mom makes you, then you will not get anything from it. If you do homework for school just to fly through it, you will not learn as much as you could. If you're giving service to the nice old lady down the street because mom won't let you play the XBOX until you mow her lawn. The nice old lady is going to know that you don't care about her and that will have a lasting impression on her AND you will not learn from your experience. Have the mental ability to change your mindset so you can best learn and grow from everything that you do.
We must take action. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we talk about doing a lot of things; Missionary work, service, attending the temple, family history work, reading our scriptures, praying every day and night. It's great that we mentally have those goals, but talking about it isn't going to accomplish anything! If you are having a hard time reading your scriptures at night, don't just pray and tell Heavenly Father you'll do better tomorrow. Fix the problem and take small steps to do it! Nike says it best, "JUST DO IT!"
We are always changing. We are either changing for the better or for the worse. There is no such thing as staying still. Make sure you are being changed for the better.
In Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life in 1 Nephi, he talks about how he wanted everyone to make it to the tree so they could partake of the fruit of that tree. One thing that people don't realize is that it doesn't stop at taking the fruit. Some people fell away even after they tasted of God's love. Just because you have reached the tree and was lucky enough to taste of the fruit, doesn't mean it's over and you're good to go. We all need to endure to the end and help others come closer to Christ so they can feel God's love for them.
The last thing I want to share with you is that you matter. You matter to me, you matter to your family, you matter to your friends, but most importantly you matter to God. God loves you and cares about you at such a high level we can't even comprehend or fully appreciate it. We will all have trials in life and sometimes we will fall. But the wonderful thing is that God will love us no matter what. If we do our best and never give up, continuing to show our love to God, he will receive you with open arms. Everything that happens, happens for a reason. He will NEVER let you down.
I love you all so much!
Elder Macfarlane

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Through this missionary mom's eyes.......

I have many thoughts and feelings so far as my oldest son serves his mission in a place so far away from me in Australia. First off, I want to say that there is NO place right now where I'd rather have my son be. Yes, even home with me. The first week he was at the MTC I thought I was going to die. I missed him more than I can say or express. My heart ached each day because I hadn't heard from him. When I finally did hear from him, I felt relieved and so good. That's the thing I miss, texting. Who knew this mom, that never wanted to text, would eventually miss it so terribly much. That communication was gone. I had to rely on the Lord and pray often to ease my soul. I knew this is where he needed to be. Weeks have went by now and I still miss him terribly, but it's not the aching feeling I had when he first left. I can't tell you how exciting and wonderful it is to get his emails once a week. And I'm okay with that now. I thought it would be awful not hearing from him each day, but it's not for me. I look forward to his email every Sunday night (it's Monday in Australia) and I have my phone with me at all times between 5-9pm waiting to see that email come in. I sometimes catch him emailing and so I can "chat" with him for just a bit. Just that little tiny bit of communication makes me go on another week. His emails brighten my day and gives me hope. I love to read his experiences, who he has met, about his companion and what they do. His letters inspire and encourage me to reach out to others. They lift me up every week. So many people say they could never be away from their kid that long or how can you send your child off for 2 years? I'm not going to lie, it's hard. I miss him everyday! I think of him so many times during the day I can't count them. BUT he is where he needs to be. He is serving the Lord in a way that many people don't understand. It would be very selfish of me to tell him he can't go and he needed to stay home with me. I want him to serve the Lord first and foremost in his life. When he has a family of his own, he is learning that the Lord is first and he can do hard things with the Lord's help. I can too. :) I know the Lord is watching over my sweet son clear across the world from me. He has wonderful people around him that take care and love him as their own and that makes it so much easier for me. He has a companion that he thinks the world of and this relationship will last a lifetime. He has a sweet family from the branch (small ward) that he adores. They have them over a lot and he calls that his home in Australia. I am so grateful to them! To know he is loved and looked after is huge for me. I am proud of him and so happy that he has chose to do this in his life. To spend 2 whole years serving the Lord, being unselfish, doing service for others, lifting and guiding those who need it, testifying of Christ.....that's why I can send him away for this long and so far away. I hope to follow in his footsteps and serve my own mission when my kids are grown and Corry has retired.

 "We can do all things through Christ who strengthened me (Phillipans 4:13)."

   This is when Nick went through the temple for the first time! Several sweet members of our ward came to support him and it was a wonderful experience for us (his parents) and him. Love this kid through and through! Elder Macfarlane!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hey everyone!
Before I begin I need to apologize, this one might be short because I'm running low on time and I forgot to bring my notebook to remind me what's happened this week.. oops! So to start off I'd like to teach you something about Australia that Americans have all wrong. "Throw some shrimp on the barbie" is not said by Australians. First of all, they call shrimp "prawns." Prawns are actually super good too! They are prepared in some fancy way and long story short, they are great! So there's some knowledge for you in case you ever decide to come to Australia. I almost got smacked when I said it as a joke so I thought I'd save you from a potentially beating :)
I would personally like to thank everyone who has been emailing me because it's really a great time of my week to be able to connect with everyone back home and to hear from family and friends. Also, pictures are FANTASTIC so send pictures because I miss seeing all of you beautiful people! If you don't know my email, talk to mi madre and ask her for it. Also it's probably on facebook somewhere... I think (: Anyways, I really love hearing from people and finding out what's going on in the real world! So yeah, you're all great and I love ya!
So what's been going on the last week. I got my first haircut as a missionary! That was pretty exciting! I got it cut by Momma K, a member in Narooma, and I must say, it's lookin good! We have dinner there a lot and I love it there! It's my little home away from home! :)
Another memorable moment that has happened this week is I officially weigh over 160 pounds! I have pictures and a video on my camera to prove it because it really is a big deal. The only problem is I'm not sure if that is muscle or fat... I'm thinking it's a little more fat, but that's okay! I'm making a goal right now that I will be 175lbs by the time I get back from my mission two years, and not only that, but that weight will be muscle weight, not just fat! My companion and I started doing P90X in the mornings. WOW I am out of shape. We did the ab work out and I thought I was going to die! Let's just say I have lost my 6pack! But it WILL be back, and soon! We play basketball on Wednesdays and I can still dunk so I'm not a complete failure (:
Right now Elder Coats and I are in Nowra with 4 other elders for district conference. District conference, for those of you who don't know, is a time where all of the branches in the area get together and have one big meeting together and we get to hear from church leaders in the area and a few assigned members. The talks and lessons were fantastic and I learned so much! I'm gonna write more detail on some of the incredible lessons that I've learned and mind-blowing thoughts that came to my head. So be prepared for next week's email, it's gonna be good ;)
"His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox is an incredible message. It's only about 30 minutes long and can have an everlasting effect. Go look it up and check it out! Please do it, I know it will bless your life. I love you all heaps!
Elder Macfarlane

Monday, November 11, 2013


Oh! I saw my first huntsman spider yesterday too! Look it up, they're pretty creepy! :p It was outside the Kamer's house.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hello my favorite Americans! (: I would like to start off this post with a random thought that I had this week. This week I decided to strive to notice the small things that happen in life. So, I was in the bathroom in this nice resort called Islandview. I noticed that one of those soap.. cleaner.. things were in the urinal. You know, the "mints" that Melman the giraffe finds in the bathroom on Madagascar! Anyways, I would just like you all to know that I appreciate those people who put those things in there. It makes the bathroom smell good, keeps it decently clean, and is very entertaining for me. (: For those of you who think I'm joking... I'm not! Learn to appreciate the small things in life and you'll be amazed at the many ways you are blessed!
Now to the good stuff! So this week has been an interesting one. To start off the week, we taught a Samoan kid named Sam. We met him while playing basketball at the gym in Narooma, which by the way, has been a fantastic teaching experience! I've heard from some people that playing basketball on your mission is a waste of the Lord's precious time. To you people I say HA! I have taught more lessons to those kids we play basketball with than all other areas combined. Work Hard, Play Hard. When on the court, I play hard. When I'm out and sitting on the sideline, I'm teaching them about the church and answering any questions they may have. I look forward to Wednesday nights every week because of this. Anyways, back to Sam (: So we taught him about the Plan of Salvation and a little of the Restoration of the Gospel. He recently had a cousin die so he was looking for answers about where he is and if he would ever be able to see him again. When we told him about the Plan of Salvation, his eyes lit up. We could tell he liked the sound of being able to see his cousin again and be with his family forever, even after we die. Being able to be with our families forever is an amazing gift that our loving Father in Heaven has given us. Unfortunately not everyone knows that we can. That's one of the many things I'm so grateful to know as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Later in the week, we encountered some Jehovah's Witnesses who came knocking on our door. I thought that was pretty ironic since that was exactly what we would be doing later. It was interesting to talk to them and listen to what they had to say. Although they don't believe what I believe in, I was impressed with their diligence and faith that they had. I respect anyone who believes in something that strongly and then acts on that faith. That's pretty cool. It was a good experience because I was able to talk about the Bible in super deep conversations and as a result I actually learned a little about the Bible that I didn't know and it caused me to spend time afterwards, studying and looking at the things we discussed. The great thing about talking with missionaries/preachers of other faiths is that it only makes my testimony build so much stronger in the wonderful church that I am a part of! They might throw some scripture at me and I will have no idea what to say because it may seem to contradict what I believe, but as I further study it and find out more about what we talk about, I find that it not only doesn't contradict us, but it actually strengthens what I believe in! Gosh I just love this church! (:
Last night was a somewhat scary incident. My companion Elder Coats was jumping on the trampoline and was doing consecutive back flips. But, as he came down to land he smashed his leg against the pole on the tramp. As a result he dislocated his knee! It was sticking out the side of his leg at about a 45 degree angle from where it should have been! We called the ambulance and it took about 45 minutes for them to arrive (they were sooooo slow!). They finally arrived and popped it into place within 10 minutes of the time they arrived. But while we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive we had time to talk and to think about what could happen in the next few hours. At first we thought it was broken, and I thought about what would happen if that was true. We would have to go to the hospital and have surgery, then he would be sent home. It made me realize how much I love him, as if he were my own brother! I am so lucky to have him and it wouldn't be the same without him! We learn from each other so much and have gotten really close. That's when I thought about my family back home and how much I love and care about them. I've known Elder Coats for almost three weeks and we have become brothers! With that, just imagine how much I love and care about my family! They are the one's who are always there (whether I like it or not ;) ) and can always help me feel better. Do we fight at home? OF COURSE! But when it comes down to it, I would give my life for any one of them. Siblings can pick on each other all they want, but the second you give one of them a dirty look... You're dead! I love my family so very much and am so thankful for the great love and support that they have always given me! They have helped mold me into the man I have become today and are continuing to mold me. I am thankful to have the family that I do and to know that I can be with them for all of eternity, thanks to Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Redeemer, my God.
I love you all very much! I pray that you will be safe in your various endeavors this week! I challenge you all this week to notice the small, tender mercies that God has given us in our lives. When you do, I promise you that it will brighten your day and bring a smile to your face. Be thankful for what you have, you never know when you might lose it.
Elder Macfarlane

Monday, November 4, 2013

Highlights from his letters....

October 14-November 4, 2013:

At MTC in Provo, Utah

*The MTC is amazing! We learn so much and it's absolutely incredible!

*I'm starting to realize how important things are to me (like my lovely family)!

*My companion and roommates are super cool! My companion's name is Elder Salter and he's from Alabama! He has a super awesome southern accent! My other two roommates are Elder Van Hordan and Elder Feron, they are both great elders too. Elder Salter and I bonded right away! He is a big time football player (since he's from Alabama) and played strong safety (just an FYI). He's a short, shy kind of guy but once you get to know him he really gets comfortable, kinda like Austin!

*Today I was called to be a zone leader (it's day 2). They said they really liked my smile, so I figured I should accept the calling.

*I think I've grown more in the last week than in the last 10 years of my life! (referring to the MTC) It's amazing how much Heavenly Father loves us and how much he did/does for us! I've been highlighting and starting to memorize various scriptures to try to best prepare myself and it's going well so far! The MTC is a very emotional place...I seriously have been surprised at how hard it is here. I've been kinda the therapist while out here and it's been incredible at how hard it is for some people to handle the little sleep, intense classes, and being away from home. I haven't been dying, but I'm not gonna lie, it is hard. I've been working hard to make sure everyone is okay and I think it's been working well so far. It's been one week and it's gone by super fast, yet I feel like I've been here for 3 months! I know that doesn't make sense but that's exactly how it is!

In Australia now....

*I have really started to realize how incredible of a man dad is. He does so much for us that we don't even realize or give him credit for. I hope one day I can become half the man that he is! Maybe not the bishop part though, that doesn't look like fun to me. I'll let him just take that.

*I will always stay strong in the church. I couldn't imagine life without it.

*I have a super cool companion right now! His name is Elder Coats and he is always happy! He is from Utah and doesn't have an Australian accent yet, he's only been out 3 months and yet he's training me! He's a pretty great guy!

*Something really funny happened two days ago, Elder Coats and I were jogging and as we were jogging we said hi to this guy walking on the side of the road. He stopped us and we talked about 5 seconds then out of nowhere he asked us if we wanted some ecstasy imported from Europe! We obviously said no, but that was the first time I've ever been offered an illegal drug by someone who was actually serious!

*Something spiritually significant that happened as a first for me this week was going tracting! Wow, that is no fun! Getting rejected again and again is a lot tougher than I expected. But anyways, so we decided to be done tracting and we started walking back to the car. As we were walking I got this feeling that we should stop by one more house before we leave. So I convinced my companion to stop at this one last house and I promised we could be done after that. We walked to the door and a nice aboriginal woman answered the door, I'd guess she was in her 50's. She tried telling us no, but right before she closed the door, Elder Coats asked why she didn't want to talk about religion. She told us she had her own beliefs that she believed very strongly in. Well we got her to talk to us for about 45 minutes and we even set up another appointment with her. It was so cool to have that experience where I followed the spirit and went to that last door and then my companion followed the spirit and didn't let her tell us no. It was really cool.

*Something that I noticed which is really funny to me is how little we, as Americans, know about Australians, yet Australians know a decent amount about Americans! The only thing that I find funny is that they all think we love fish and chicken for some odd reason. Luckily I love chicken, but I'm not a huge fan of their fish. It's not terrible, but I'd rather eat something else.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween week in Narooma, Australia!! This week has been full of great fun and learning experiences! First lets start with the fun! So last Thursday was Halloween, but Australians don't usually celebrate Halloween. There is this one family in our branch (a branch is a small ward) that invited us over that night so we could join them in their first Halloween celebration ever! For dinner they made pizza's with ghosts on them made of cheese, blood to drink which I think was cordial, and heaps of lollies! Just to clarify, Australians call candy, lollies; and their version of kool-aid is cordial. And then they decorated their kitchen
 with dark lights, cob webs, and spiders! I was really impressed for it being their first Halloween. Also, Elder Coats and I carved a pumpkin! Nothing special, I just thought it was pretty neat to carve a pumpkin still! After the party we went outside and I jumped on their trampoline with Jacob and Elias (their two sons) while everyone else through water balloons at us! I was absolutely soaked. AND I was still dressed up in my white shirt and tie! But oh well, it was worth it! ;)
So that was a pretty exciting night, but do wanna know something REALLY cool? I saw my first live kangaroo and her little joey Halloween morning!! We were driving on a dirt road around a corner and there they were, about 25 yards ahead of us! I wasn't able to get a picture though so I've still gotta work on that! I WILL get a picture with a kangaroo though!
On Friday we had something called a Zone Training Meeting where a group of about 25 missionaries get together and we learn how to better teach and practice various skills to be better at what we do. What I thought was really cool though was seeing Elder Salter, my MTC companion, again for the first time in a few weeks! He basically became my brother while at the MTC and it was great seeing him again! After the training meeting we all played games like basketball, ping pong, and relay races together. It was fun being able to interact with so many missionaries at the same time and being in a non-formal situation.
In the area that I'm serving in, Narooma, there are very few members of the church and it is quite near impossible to find people interested in learning about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Well this last weekend Elder Coats and I decided to fast and to pray to find people who we can help come closer to Christ and teach. In our area, we can typically get 2-3 investigators per month and in the last few days we were able to get 2 investigators! :o One of them is a boy named Jimmy that we met from playing basketball with him. We had a great lesson on the Restoration of Christ's church and we asked if he would be baptized if, and when, he found these things to be true. He said he would and our goal is to have him be baptized at the end of the month! Jimmy had no religion before visiting with us so I think it is absolutely amazing how much of an impact we could have on this boy's life and how we can help him come closer to our loving Savior, Jesus Christ!
One thing that I've really grown a testimony of this past week is the power of the Book of Mormon. It truly can help you get through any struggles that comes your way! Reading the Book of Mormon is a beautiful way to learn more about Jesus Christ and what he wants from us. Once we align our will with the will of our Heavenly Father, and have faith in Him, we will have the power to move mountains. I love my Father in Heaven with all of my heart and I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon that he gave to us through His prophets. If you have not read the Book of Mormon yet in your life time, DO IT! The one thing that I've never understood are people who say they believe in Jesus Christ and love Him, but don't want to read the Book of Mormon. On the cover it says "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." If you truly love Jesus Christ, wouldn't the logical thing to do is read and find out all that you can about Him and his teachings? Even if the book is totally false (which it's not), it wouldn't hurt to read it and learn for yourself if the things which it says are true. That's one of the many things that I love about this wonderful church, we aren't going to try to convince you that this is the right church or that we are the perfect church, we just want to teach you what we believe. Then we simply tell you to pray and ask God if what we say is true and if this is what you need in your life. I can promise you that when you do this, you will receive an answer from God and you will know the truth of this glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1:5). I want everyone to feel the love of our Savior Jesus Christ and to come closer to Him. To do that, all you need to do is pray to Him, with faith, and he will bless your life.
I love each and every one of you and wish you all the best this week in life's many challenges! Life wasn't meant to be easy, but with God on your side, it becomes possible!

Elder Macfarlane