Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Balancing Act

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated April 2, 2008

April 2, 2008

Dear Family,

Sorry, Mom, but I can’t seem to find the cable to hook my camera up to the computer to upload pictures. Elder Hafoka helped me out this morning by taking the pictures, but I couldn’t find the cable this morning. I may have to just send the whole card home in the mail, or get my hands on a card reader and upload pictures next week. Now that I think about it, you should get the card reader and I’ll just send the card home so you could get it before next week. I’ll send it out today even though the card isn’t completely full. It was funny how many pictures we had to take. My companion was trying to get it framed just right and I was worried about the silly looks on my face. You should be happy with at least one of them.*

Anyway, this week was pretty good. We’re trying to strike the right balance of where to focus our efforts. Sometimes, it feels like [we’re] spending too much time with one ward and not enough time with the other. At the same time we’re trying to figure out what to do with all of our investigators up in Victorville and Hisperia. They are all Samoan but don’t speak the language and could benefit a lot from being taught by the missionaries in the English wards. The only thing is, they don’t seem too excited when we talked about it. Even the other missionaries don’t seem to know how to handle it. We’ll end up talking about it with President Sanchez at interviews and he will help sort things out.

In the meantime a lot of neat things are happing down in the Valley. There are plenty of people to teach, especially with both wards combined. The only problem is each ward doesn’t want to have to share missionaries. The hard thing is that missionaries have a rough time finding effective things to do [that] directly affect the ward. Theoretically, you could tract a street in hopes of finding a Samoan to teach, but it’s not going to happen. So, we pretty much operate on member referrals and previous contacts. Any other finding we do usually doesn’t add to our teaching pool.

Everything has a purpose and it will all work out. Elder Hafoka and I are doing everything that we can to progress the work in this area and hopefully it will pay off sometime soon. Thanks for all of your support. Especially the letters. I update you on more next week.


Elder Freeman

* Editor's note: Elder Freeman refers to pictures requested which we will use to establish a presence at his brother's upcoming wedding.

Laborers Are Few

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated March 27, 2008

Dear Family,

First, Thank you, Mom, for emailing me. It really is the highlight of my week. As always I don’t really appreciate what I have until it’s hundreds of miles away. I love to hear about everything that goes on at home. Good, bad, happy, tragic and everything in-between, I want to hear about. Now it seems like everything is going pretty good.

I [am] happy to report that good things are happening here. Last week was transfers and my good Samoan companion was transferred far away to Apple Valley. Well, it would be far if we didn’t cover the entire mission.

There have been other interesting developments. If you recall at the end of last year I was serving with my half-Samoan/half-New-Zealander friend, Elder Ah Wong, and we covered both Samoan wards, the big one and the small one. Then, they split our area and I got my Samoan companion, Elder Leiato, and I served with him in only the big Samoan ward and Ah Wong got his new companion and they served in the small ward. Elder Ah Wong went home in February and was replaced by Elder Hafoka. Last week they took away his companion and they took away my companion and now we are companions and cover both wards again.

That’s been a pretty big change. Before, when we only covered one ward we had enough time to spend up in the Hisperia/Victorville area. Now, both bishops are concerned about sharing missionaries again and are also concerned with how much time we spend up in the desert.
So, for all intents and purposes, it’s like covering [two] wards and a branch. The branch hasn’t been formed yet, but is desperately needed. It’s only a matter of convincing either the Area Presidency or the First Presidency.

We’ve been compiling a list of neglected Samoans in the Hisperia/Victorville area for the past [four] months and President Sanchez said he sent copies straight to Salt Lake and to the Area Authority and even all the Stake Presidents involved. We have even been teaching several Samoan families in Hisperia, but since they only really speak English they will end up being baptized in the English wards, so unfortunately we’re in the process of giving them up to the other missionaries in the English wards. That will cut our teaching pool in half, and take away a lot of baptisms, but it will give us more time to focus on the wards down here.

It seems like everyone is just waiting for approval of a Samoan unit in the Victorville/ Hisperia area, and everyone is so convinced that it will solve all the problems, and it very well may. My only concern is that while everyone is waiting, the lost sheep will get even more lost, and by the time they choose a sheep herder they can understand, they will be too far gone away from the Shepherd.

At times it feel like we’re walking on thin ice. All we want to focus on as missionaries is bringing people into the gospel. But, with the instability up in the Victorville/Hisperia area it’s very difficult to do that. The support is structured for a different language and a different culture, and the support we do have that can cater to their needs is too far away. So we either trust in the Palangi ward and stake leadership to serve their needs or we do everything we can and try our hardest not to step on anyone’s toes.

President Sanchez says if anything does happen, it won’t be for a long time, maybe next fall. Until then, we’ll continue to do our best and accomplish all that is asked of us. That way when all is said and done we can be held guiltless.

Thank you all for your continued love and support. I pray the best for all of you.


Elder Freeman