Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Monday, December 30, 2013

Highlights from this past month's letters.....

December 8-29, 2013
*Gosh, I miss the Dollar Store run! That was so much fun to do with the kids! Never stop that tradition! (:

*Treat the Elder Foggin super well, it only takes one family to make a missionary comfortable and to love an area! Especially with 3 boys and 2 cool parents! (: Pretend it's me sitting in the chair and love them to death!! 

*Oh, I have officially made my Christmas wish-list. Unfortunately it's a little late so don't worry about it too much (: Here's my wishlist....1. New Nike' nike shoes are destroyed! They are barely connnected anymore and I'm in need! (: 2. A Macfarlane tie. You know, the red and gleen plaid ones (: 3. P90X, it's a set of like 8 workout videos and I really want it because I'm having a hard time getting motiviated to workout in the mornings and I think that would help a ton! Elder Salter has it and it's great! (: 4. This one is more of a request. Will you take off all of the pictures and videos and stuff from my phone so I can still have them when I come back!! I want to remember that stuff! :) Oh, and I also got a Christmas present for you all! (: I'll send it soon but it probably won't be there for another month...but it's the thought that counts, right? (: I took off the price tag cuz I'm dumb and spent way too much!  haha love ya! :)

*Oh and tell Grandma Lana thanks for the huge letter (: It was cool hearing about whats going on in Wyoming. (:

*Yeah I got it (FYI our Christmas presents)! I opened it last night and I loved it! I almost started to cry seeing the 10 picture book of our family, it made me a little homesick. But I am better now. (: I haven't opened the one that says "don't open until Christmas" though (: I got the package from Allie's mom too! Thanks for everything! It's great! :)

*They didn't all watch us open the presents (FYI I was worried if some missionary didn't get a gift for Christmas or worse if Nick didn't get ours...they were meeting in a HUGE group and opening their gifts together), they split us up into zones and had the zone leaders hand out the presents to us. They just made piles and had us come get our pile. It was funny though because Elder Salter always gets tons of packages from his mom and he got 9 packages yesterday!! That was so funny (: I had to help him carry the packages out so I felt pretty cool holding all those while all the missionaries just stared at us as we walked out. But yeah, I loved the gifts! It made my day! :)

*Skyping you was great! I hadn't been super homesick until then. I know I'm doing what I should be doing and what you all want me to do so I used that to make me not homesick. But then seeing you and talking to you made me miss you all again! But now I'm okay again :)

*Going on a mission has already transformed my life and made me not only a better member of the church, but also a better man. I think I can forgive you for not being ready for the day and showered when we were skyping ;) I'd rather have you there to talk to you and see you (: Happy late birthday to you! I hope you had a fantastic day! I can't believe you're that old ;) I keep telling people you're 42... I need to fix that!
Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry late Christmas and Happy New Years! :)
Christmas was different this year, my first Christmas away from my family, away from my home, away from my country! But although I'm away from all those things that have been apart of my Christmas holiday, this year was a special one. Before this year, I didn't appreciate all those things that I have like my family, my home, my friends. But now being gone from all that, it made me realize how much my family and friends do for me! Waking up in the morning not having my little brothers all sleeping next to me, not having the smell of dad's fudge being baked in the oven, not hearing my mom's famous laugh throughout the day, all the little things that I had are starting to mean so much more to me now. If I learned one thing this week, it would be to appreciate all of God's tender mercies. God's tender mercies are all the little things in life that God has given you to make life more enjoyable. Simple things like a warm house, snow on the ground, siblings to play with, parents to look up to and learn from, all these things are God's tender mercies. God loves and cares about each and every one of us. One of the ways I know that is through the incredible tender mercies that he has given me in my life!
I got to skype my family this week for Christmas time and that the best Christmas gift this year! I loved it! I've only been gone 3 months now, but man I've missed those people!!! Seeing their faces and being able to talk with them for a few hours was an absolutely incredible gift!
I remember waking up Christmas morning and seeing nothing from Santa... so I thought Santa must not like missionaries. But then I thought about it and realized something... We didn't set up our Christmas decorations in our flat! So I learned a very valuable lesson this year... Always set up your Christmas decorations or else Santa doesn't feel welcome! Not only that, but we didn't leave cookies for him either! Gosh, I am terrible! I really should've known better. Well I will never let that happen again! :)
I witnessed a little miracle this week! We were visiting Kathy, our recent convert, and her husband Wayne this week and teaching a lesson with Kathy. We were teaching about the 2000 stripling warriors and having a great lesson and then Kathy, out of nowhere, announces that Wayne has given up drinking! As in he is not drinking alcohol again! He was a HUGE drinker and I wasn't expecting him to make that decision any time soon! It was really cool though because he recognized he had a problem, made a plan to stop, is executing that plan, and has people helping and supporting him! Now Wayne is not LDS, nor does he plan to become LDS, but he stepped up and made an incredible, life-changing decision and I'm so happy for him! We'd been praying for Wayne for a long time now and he's starting to make the changes in his life! Gosh I love being a missionary and being able to help and witness people changing their lives for the better!
During this upcoming New Years holiday, I challenge everyone reading this to make AT LEAST one goal to better themselves. That could mean coming closer to Christ, praying more often, quitting some addictive substances, or simply showing your love for your family. Set a specific goal that you know you can achieve and have someone else know about the goal you've set so they can help and support you through it!
I love each and every one of you and wish you the best during this holiday season!! :)
Elder Macfarlane

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Here's our favorite Missionary on Christmas! He looked so good and happy. We are so proud of this guy and love him to pieces. It was fun to hear his voice and hear his laugh. Boy, we miss that kid!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!!! :D Today is Christmas Eve... Tomorrow is Christmas Day... And the next day I get to Skype my family!!! :D Woop woop!
So I've been really feeling the Christmas spirit this week and we decided that we were going to give heaps of service! And guess what, we did! We went and visited Tim, a 65 year old southern boy, and helped him paint some steps on his deck. It was really fun! For three days this week, Elder Coats and I helped out this really nice recent convert from Vanuatu, Vern, and his family move out of their house in Narooma and moved about 10 minutes away to Kianga, which is about 5 minutes away from where we live in Dalmeny! :) He's the only member in his family. His family consists of himself, his wife Anna, two sons Mitchel and Micheal, and one daughter Laura. They are from Vanuatu. They are all super nice and all love us. Micheal is 18 and doesn't want to join the church because of a bad example from a church member that he knows that lives up in Darwin. Mitchel (10) wants to get baptized one day because his dad is baptized, but he doesn't want to go to church or follow any rules. Laura is about 7 and really wants to be baptized, she loves coming to church with her dad and loves being with the missionaries. Anna is very religious and is happy with her Anglican lifestyle but enjoys us being around. Now they live close to us and live right down the street from the senior missionaries, Elder and Sister McAra, so we can visit him and help him out all the time!
Elder Coats and I met a super nice couple this week, Dan and Liz. They have met almost every set of missionaries that have been in this area over the last 10 years and they said they're not interested in changing their religion, but they'd love to have us over and listen to what we have to say. They are both super nice people and I feel like they would be really good mormons! The difficulty is that he, like the majority of Australians, LOVES his alcohol and smokes heaps. But we'll see what we can do to help him out (:
Saturday was a day of firsts. Our recent convert, Kathy, and her husband Wayne invited us to go out to eat at this place called JJ's and it was super good! I'd never been there before because it's super expensive but they said this was our Christmas gift, New Years gift, and part of Wayne's birthday gift! While there I tried two new foods! Oysters and Squid. The oysters were pretty good, but they were seasoned a ton! Wayne said he's going to give me one right off the rocks some day. He did it to Elder Coats and he said it was NASTY! But I'll try it (: The squid wasn't at all what I expected, it tasted a little like my mom's fish sticks back home! So that was pretty cool (: I had Vegemite for the first time a week or two ago and I don't really know what to say. It wasn't as nasty as Americans said it would be but it wasn't as good as Australians say it is either. I wouldn't have it on a regular day if it was up to me, but if it was given to me, I would still eat it.
At church last Sunday, I was asked to play prelude music... that means Elder Macfarlane, playing church music, on the piano, in front of people. But it went surprisingly well! I switched between about 5-7 Christmas songs and only played the melody and alto lines. But yeah, I didn't absolutely fail so I was happy :)
Yesterday we had a mission-wide Christmas party. So all 208 missionaries in the Australia Sydney South mission were there and it was sweet! We started off the party with a morning devotional where we sang a bunch of Christmas Hymns and listened to a few missionaries speak on various subjects. One of my favorite talks was by a Elder Langi from Samoa. He spoke on being an example. It was really cool to me because I've been thinking about this a lot over the last week or two. He specifically talked about his oldest brother and the example that he set for Elder Langi and how much he loved his older brother. It made me think of my little brothers and the example that I am for them. I am setting an example for them no matter what I do, good or bad. Thinking about them makes me want to be not only a good boy who listens to his parents, although that's incredibly important. I am striving to do something more, to be a righteous young man in the eye's of our Savior Jesus Christ. He has given us Commandments that he expects us to follow, He has given us prophets for us to follow, He has given us parents and siblings for us to follow and learn from, He has given us so many things that we can learn from and grow. When I do all of these things to the best of my abilities, people see it, my friends see it, my family sees it, I see it. When doing the things that the Lord has asked us to do, you are setting a great example for others to follow.
Everyone has role models that you want to model your life after, wouldn't it be cool if you were the role model for someone else? Your siblings, your kids, your parents, your friends, your teachers, your employees, that random worker at Costco who knows you by name. You could be setting an example to someone around you and you don't even realize it. Actually, I can guarantee someone is watching you. Be that perfect example to those around you, help someone pick up their purse, give someone a hand at work, brighten someones day by simply smiling at them. Your simple action could start a chain reaction.
I love you all and wish you a very Merry Christmas from down under! :D
Elder Macfarlane

Elder Macfarlane's mission!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Greetings from down under!
This week has been a fun one! It was my birthday on Tuesday and my first birthday away from home! It was weird waking up and thinking, I'm 19. I appreciate all of the happy birthday emails and letters and gifts that I got, they were all great! One of the sweetest things happened early that morning. During personal study, at around 8:15am, we hear a knock on our door. We were kind of confused because no one knocks on our door, we're the one's that knock on people's doors! I go and answer the door and standing in our doorway is this older woman in our branch, probably around 70 years old, Sister Peate. In her hands was a cake, birthday card and a little baggie of presents for me for my birthday!! WHAT!? She knew my birthday because she was baptized on the same day! One of the little presents was a candy that sings happy birthday when it's lit... that's so cool! Later that day we stopped by the Kamer's for haircuts and then lunch. It was a super fun time and a really good way to celebrate my birthday, playing games and eating food. But then Momma K comes out with a surprise, she made German Pancakes!! :D That was fan-freaking-tastic!! Throughout the day I got presents from others in the branch too and I was impressed, and slightly creeped out, by how many people knew my birthday already! It was a great day (:
Elder Coats got another injury this week. While doing the dishes, he broke a glass cup and it sliced his thumb open so I drove him to the hospital and he got stitches. Also, Elder Petterson, our District Leader, was over this weekend for District Training Meeting and he was riding a long board, fell off, and had to go to the hospital to get it checked out and all cleaned up. I'm going to be quite the expert on injuries by the time I get home from my mission!
We had 6 missionaries in our flat (apartment) this last weekend and it was a blast! I got the wonderful opportunity to see my MTC companion, Elder Salter, again. That's always fun (: We had a district p-day so we went to the glasshouse beach and threw a footie ball around and tried catching a fish with our bare hands. In the end, Elder Salter was the champ! He caught the fish and we were all freaking out and super excited! (:
Saturday was a really cool day. We went out with not much of a plan for our day. While we were out driving around, we drove by a house that Elder Coats recognized. We went to the door but no one answered. Elder Coats noticed that the names on the mailbox were Dan and Liz. He called a Dan and Liz that used to investigate the church, but didn't want anything to do with missionaries the last time we'd heard. So he called them and we set up an appointment for tomorrow afternoon! Hopefully a good teaching/learning opportunity will come from this! Keep your fingers crossed! We later visited a less active member of the branch and had a really good conversation with him and his son who was visiting him for the Christmas season. He knows he needs to go back to church but is a little scared to go back. We invited him to the branch Christmas party that afternoon and him and his son came, along with the wife who is a member.
The Christmas party was great! We played basketball with the kids and ate heaps and heaps of food! It was held at Islandview in Narooma. There were about 50 people there, which is really impressive because we only have 25 or so members of the branch! There were visitors from Sydney, inactives, less-actives, and nonmembers that all came to party with us! It was a great experience for them, I think. I loved it (:
I heard a great quote this week, "The Lord will bless us to the degree to which we obey him." I've been thinking a lot about that. The Lord loves us a great deal and wants the best for us, but he's not going to bless us as much as He'd like to if we aren't obedient to his commandments. Do everything you can this week to follow God's commandments, when you do, I promise that you will see the blessings from God overflow in your life!
I love you all heaps! Have a great week!
Elder Macfarlane

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Elder Macfarlane's 19th BIRTHDAY in AUSTRALIA-thanks Kamer's!!!

Sister Kamer made one of his favorite meals

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hello everybody! This week was a good one! Lots of birthdays going on! Shout out to my awesome dad who's birthday was on the 5th last week! I love that man and look up to him more than anyone else on earth! He is a fantastic father, worthy priesthood holder, and a definite life-long friend! :) I love you dad!
On Wednesday we got to celebrate Sister McAra's and Fin's birthdays! Sister McAra is a senior missionary here with her husband and Fin is a friend of the Kamers. It was heaps of fun and we got to spend a good portion of the day with them! Elder Coats and I baked a cake for Fin and it was pretty dang great, if I do say so myself ;) Chocolate cake, with chocolate icing and colorful sprinkles... only the best!
Thursday wasn't too eventful other than teaching one of our recent converts, Jack. Jack is probably the most impressive recent convert I've ever seen in my life! He is so willing to do everything and anything that the Lord asks of him! He is the only mormon in Moruya (about 30 min drive north of Narooma), has the Aaronic Priesthood, has a calling with the primary, and is so keen on everything we teach him! He has such a strong testimony in Jesus Christ, it's incredible to me!
Friday we had zone training and then zone p-day. In zone training we learned how to be better missionaries. The topic that was focused on was member present lessons. Having a member present during a lesson has so many more benefits and makes the lesson much more effective. Strive to go out with the missionaries as much as you can because it's a great learning experience for not only the investigator, but also for yourself! Zone P-day was after and we had a blast! P-day stands for preparation day, but I like to call it "play day." That's the day, once a week, that we get to email, go shopping, and then do basically whatever we want the rest of the day. So as a zone, all 20 missionaries (or so) played a huge game of touch-footie (two hand touch Rugby) and it was so much fun! We tore it up! The majority of the missionaries here are islanders from around this area so they are all super good at it! It's really funny to see the big samoans play because you think you'll beat them and then they come out of nowhere and take you out! I've never seen a big man run so fast in my life!
Saturday and Sunday were both pretty good. Elder Coats and I went to the Tilba markets and the Moruya markets so that was fun! And Elder Coats let me drive there so I got a solid hour of driving in this weekend! It was cool, but weird to get used to driving on the left side of the road, having the blinker on the right side of the steering wheel, and having the shift on my left. But we made it there in one piece so it's all good! (: The markets were pretty cool, it was basically a huge field with little stands/shops all over. There was everything you could possibly want there! I even found a huge kangaroo skin, but it was $175 so I decided not to get it... It was fun :) We got to set up two Christmas trees this weekend too! The Kamer's and the Adcock's! It was cool to be able to set up a tree with some adopted families since my family is on the other side of the planet doing the same thing! I was also able to set up Christmas lights at the Adcock's house so that was heaps of fun too!
Today was my 2 month mark as a missionary of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I can't believe it's already been 2 months! It feels like I just got here! I know I'm doing the right thing by devoting my time 100% to the Lord. I have seen it bless both myself and my family and I'm so grateful that I could have these opportunities that I've been having! I love my Lord and Savior so much! I can't wait to see what He's got in store for me these next two years!!
I love you all!
Elder Macfarlane
PS. Tomorrow may or may not be my 19th birthday... WHAT!?!?!? I'm kind of super excited! :D

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Celebrating an early Christmas with the Kamer's! We love this sweet family!

Having fun with the Kamer's! Silly String War!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Highlights from his letters this past month....

November 4-December 2, 2013

Notes to Eric:
*I saw a Wallaby. They are almost the same as a kangaroo except smaller.

*Next week, I'm gonna have to eat a muscle...I'm kind of scared to try it because it's basically like eating a booger! And that is gross!

*Do you know how lucky we are to have everything that we have? We live in a big home with a great family who all loves each other so much! Even though we all fight sometimes, we still love each other more than anything! We have a mom and dad who make good choices and are great examples to us. We go to church every Sunday and know that Jesus Christ loves us. Not everyone in this world knows that. There are some people here in Australia that don't know much about Jesus. Most of them don't even know how to pray! I taught this guy yesterday who is 17 years old and has never prayed before in his life! Be thankful for everything you have in your life because you never know when you might lose it!

*Be nice to everyone and take good care of mom! She does a lot for you and I think she'd love some help sometimes!

*Challenge for you: write 50 things you are thankful for and send it to me in an email!

Notes to Austin:
*My mission has been great so far. I teach people about our church basically all day. I know that doesn't sound like fun, and it really isn't, but it's a really good experience and I love doing it! I give a ton of service in this area! I have made a garden, weeded, built steps, built a fence and plenty of other things! I love learning how to do new things! And guess what?! I learned how to play the ukelili and it's great. It's basically a mini guitar.

*I hope everything is going well at home and you are being nice to Eric! :)

*Challenge for you: Before I get home from my mission in October 2015, I need you to read the whole Book of Mormon. It's a big goal to have and I'm giving you a long time to do it! Read it and try to understand as much as you can!

*Challenge for the family: Memorize D&C 4 by Christmas! It is very important to memorize it before you go on a mission because I'm trying to memorize it right now! Good luck! I'll check up on ya at Christmas to make sure you did it!

*Hey mom! Sorry I forgot to tell you, but on transfer weeks (every 6 weeks) we have P-day on Tuesdays instead of Mondays! So here I am, I didn't forget about you ;)

*I get to skype home on Christmas!! :) It'll be Christmas in America, but the 26th here in Australia.

*Another 6 weeks with Elder Coats! (he didn't get transferred)

*I didn't do much on Thanksgiving. We are limited on the amount we are aloud to drive each month and we were cut down a lot of km's this month so we ran out by the time Thanksgiving came around. We made some banana bread (and it was GOOD) and did normal missionary stuff all day. But the day after, we went and had a big dinner party at the Kamer's. I seriously love those people! They feed us so much! Sunday night the Kamers had a few families and us Elders over for dinner and we had a bunch of tacos, hot dogs, cake and BBQ stuff. It was good!

* Gosh, I miss being home! It's all good though, because I love it here!

*I'm glad Tyler is going to seminary, even though it's tough in the early mornings! He should try to get all of the awards his freshman year! That would be SO COOL!

*Nothing really new is going on here in terms of missionary work. Everyone we try meeting with cancels on us and we've lost one of our investigators that we met this week already. The only one that we are really teaching right now is Jimmy, but we've only taught him once and he is busy a lot. We talk about religion all the time when playing basketball on Wednesday nights though so that's good. (:
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

G'day mates!
This week was a pretty good one. Thanksgiving was this past week so it got me thinking of the things that I'm really thankful for. So today I'm going to start off by telling you all of some of the things I'm thankful for.
First of all, I'm thankful for my family. I have always loved them and cared about them, but when you are away from them for an extended period of time, it really makes you appreciate them so much more. If you haven't had the chance to do this yet, let your families know you love them! Even if you think they already know, it wouldn't hurt to give them a nice reminder ;)
My opportunity to serve a mission in Narooma, Australia is something that I'm very thankful for. I get to be around great people all day long and spread the knowledge of Jesus Christ to people on the other side of the world! Not only am I teaching them, but I am also learning so much from them too! I am thankful for the wonderful branch here in Narooma where so many people are taking care of eachother and taking care of me!
I'm thankful for all of the many people that have been emailing me and sending letters! I received 23 emails today! That's amazing! The average missionary gets about 15 or so.. I feel pretty important ;) I love how many people are showing their love and care for me and for what I'm doing. Hearing from my friends and family once a week is something I really look forward to so thank you so much! Just so you know, if you send letters, or have sent letters, I will most likely not write back because there simply isn't enough time in the day. So don't take it personally, just email instead! :)
I'm thankful for a car right now. We are limited on how much we can drive, but nonetheless, having the air conditioning while traveling far distances is a major blessing when it's in the 100's (Fahrenheit).
I'm thankful for those people who take the time to talk to us throughout the day. We get rejected a lot, but when one person stops and talks for even 5 minutes can make such a difference! Plus, they tend to be in a much better mood after talking with us. Whenever you see mormon missionaries, please don't slam the door in their face. Talk to them for 5 minutes and be nice. That's really all I'm asking, be a nice human being and talk to two young men who genuinely care about you!
Another thing I'm thankful for is my two legs. We do so many things with our legs we don't even realize it. Walking, running, jumping, balancing, kicking, swinging, skating, the list goes on and on. I am so thankful that I can do all of that without a slight amount of pain or problem. I have great physical heath and for that, I thank my loving Heavenly Father for.
One final thing that I'm thankful for is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is something that you can easily overlook if you aren't looking for it in your life. Jesus died and atoned for each and every one of us so we can live with Him and Heavenly Father again. Jesus Christ was a perfect man, he did everything out of total selflessness. He loves each and every one of us so much and cares for our well-being. Through the Atonement, we are able to repent and be forgiven of our sins. I know that my Savior loves me and I thank Him for that blessing in my life and for the wonderful blessing of having that knowledge in my life. I can promise each of you that he loves and cares about you, reguardless of what you have done, you can always return to Him. And He will ALWAYS receive you with open arms.
I love you all very much and hope you have a great first week of December! :)
Elder Macfarlane