Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Week 77--Service for Days!

My Family and friends. 

First of all, I would like to wish you a happy turkey day!!! I hope you all eat until your bellies can't hold anything anymore. I'm sorry if this email doesn't make sense. I currently have three elementary kids chatting RIGHT IN MY EAR about a new computer game thats coming out  and its a little distracting. So if this doesn't make sense at all, that would be why. 

Anyway, I am so very thankful for you all, for all that you've done for me, for the support, the prayers, the love. I feel it. Out of the long list of things I will forever be grateful for-- the mission, and my family are at the top. I know that I couldn't do anything without you guys.

This week was an interesting week. We had a two-day long meetings, two different wards to attend, and five service projects we had to do. So we have been busy. Really busy. On Tuesday we had zone conference, which is when two stake worth of missionaries get together and President trains us about how we can be better at doing missionary work. Because of some things we had to take care of the night before, me and my comps were pretty exhausted going into the conference. To make things worse, we had to give a training there, and we were going to prepare the night before. But we didn't get a chance, so pretty much we had to wing it. I was a little nervous, not about going into training unprepared, because I've taught a number of Gospel Principle classes completely unprepared, but because when we got in the room, President and one of the AP's were there to sit in. We chatted about how as missionaries we need to show confidence in order for the people we teach to really believe that we BELIEVE in what we are teaching. Luckily, President started going off on a long tangent about companionship study, and that took up most of the time, so we were pretty much off the hook. But we chatted about Alma chapter 8. One of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. 

We have been doing some service for the past month at a local preschool in the area. It is run by a less active member and his non-member wife, and they are some of the sweetest people alive. They absolutely love the preschool, and the whole zone has been going over every Saturday providing service for them. They preschool needed a lot of help, and it's awesome to see how far the school has come with just a handful of people providing weekly service. It has become one of the highlights of all the missionaries' week in our zone. I was talking to Uncle Sandy, the man who owns it, and he is currently in a wheelchair. We were talking about life, and he said, "My whole goal in life wasn't to get rich. It was to make enough to provide a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food for me and my family. That's what I have right now, and I couldnt be happier." This is one of the reasons why I truly love service. Helping those that might not have much, but in some respects have everything. They have found joy in the important things, helping others and loving God. 

I have become increasingly more impressed with those people who have the characteristics of Christ. I use to look up to people who were the owners of companies, those who were famous athletes or movie stars, and those who were famous in terms of the world. But recently I have noticed how much I am impressed and have desire to be like those who have developed important Christlike attributes--love, kindness, faithfulness, happiness, and forgiveness. They inspire me to become the best person I can be. I never realized how much of an impact that they have on my life. We stopped by one my favorite member's house last night, and we were watching a mormon message called Refiners Fire, and afterwords she talked about how even though she goes through so many hardships, so many trials, she has complete trust in Christ and feels that everything will be alright.  All her trials are to teach her and make her better. She bore such a beautiful and sincere testimony that it will be something that I may never forget in my life. 

I love you all family! Im so very thankful for you. I hope you have a happy turkey day and to always remain thankful. 


Monday, November 17, 2014

Weeks 73-76

October 27, 2014--It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Hi family,
It is that time of the year again! Just like there is a tornado season in the Midwest, a hurricane season in the pacific, and a rainy season in South America, we are entering into the Holiday Season in the land of Elder Gleave! I love the holidays so much. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, it's all so great. So much candy, so much food, so much fun. One of the main reasons I love the Holidays is it gives all of an excuse to take a break from the busy lives we all live and spend some much needed time with friends and family. Parties, get-togethers, and pigouts just really make me so happy. I like to relate my joy to a fat kid who found a twinky stuffed in his suitcase at fat camp. And I feel okay talking about that because I am starting to be a candidate for that camp. 

Well, this week we had a Halloween party for the white person ward! It was so fun! They had all these games and booths set up for the little bat mans and pirates and you better believe I played them all. It was like I was back in elementary school just hamming it up. I even made a macaroni jack o lantern! (It got thrown away though, darn.) It was so great to just see every body there. I am a firm believer that seeing other people's happiness brings us more happiness. A couple of the people we are teaching came as well. Except one of the kids from the family we invited dripped fake blood all over the gym because he had one of those creepy blood ghost masks where you can pump the blood over the face. That kind caused a bit of a ruckus because a lot of people we were worried it was real blood. It made me chuckle. Anyway, I love seeing the adults dress up as well. Sometimes we just need to put away our pride and act like a little kid. 

To add onto the greatness of the Holidays, we had a baptism this week! Lipine (I think I talked about her last week) from the Samoan ward (you say he name like lee-pee-nay) ended up getting dunked. It was awesome. The Ward Mission Leader, a Samoan dude who looks like a Poly version of Mario, and his wife sang a song about Jesus Christ being baptized, except he used a guitar so it made it sound almost like a Samoan old western song about Jesus.  I really did enjoy it. Such a great spirit there. A lot of people showed up to support her! Even though about half of the people were snoozing most of the time, the Samoans really do know how to support each other. 

We also had a great lesson with a Samoan man named Tony. He was having a hard time coming to church and wasn't too serious about it, and Elder Talatau had been fasting and praying for something to happen, and one week he showed up and told Elder Talatau that he got into a fight with his boss, got fired, and now is going to be a church every Sunday. Funny how the Lord works. Well anyway, he was struggling with the drinking, so we were going to teach the Word of Wisdom (which usually isn't too spiritual of a lesson) but when he read that it was from God, he just started crying. He told us how much the gospel has begun to change he life, how he wants to get baptized at the beginning of next year to start his new life with the new year, and how he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and the Church is true. We checked with him on Church that Sunday, and he told us that every time he wanted to drink, he remembered the lesson and hasn't drank since then. Just a testimony builder that the church is true. 

Anyway, Happy Halloween everyone! Don't get too sugar high. I love you all. I have to go watch my comp get his in grown toe nail off. Should be fun. Much love to all!
Elder "Is that Lil Wayne or Elder" Gleave?

November 3, 2014--BOO!
Hello Family
First off, sorry if the title of my email scared you all. I didn't really mean to, but thought that it was fitting to write that due to the passing of the recent Halloween season! 
I can't believe it's November! I feel like the weeks are slipping through my fingers. Soon enough I will be an old man with a scraggly beard telling little boys to get off my front yard. Until then, I will enjoy each moment as they come.
Today's email is probably gonna be a bit short. Our Stake Mission Leader gave us free hair cuts but we didnt expect that they were going to take two and a half hours. So we are scrambling for time so all our P-Day isnt shot. Things are going well over here! Not too much to report. Just the same old shenanigans. 
There was something rather neat that happened! If you recall a month or two back, I told a story about giving a Samoan man a blessing at the hospital. It was such an incredibly spiritual blessing, one that has left a lasting imprint on me. Well anyway, that man wasn't sure if he were going to live. He just wanted to see his family again. A week later, we went back to go visit him, but he was already discharged, so I thought in my mind that we were never going to see him again in my life. Well on Sunday, a man slowly walks up to the pulpit in the Samoan Ward, removes a doctor's mask, and introduces himself as Brother Schroter. I then realize that the very same man who I never thought I would see in my life, ended up in the very ward I was serving. I don't know what he said in his testimony (because it was in Samoan), but when we went up to talk to him after, he told us that the cancer had spread to his spine and his spine had snapped that week. The doctor told him that he wouldn't be able to walk for 6 weeks. He walked the whole time he was at church, and he just kept saying, "I know the Lord helps me. I have faith in him." Truly a testimony builder that the Lord wants to help us, all we have to do is believe. Also, it assures me that the Lord knows ME, because he gave me such a tender mercy as to see the very man in which we gave a blessing to on his road to recovery. This type of experiences wouldn't have happened if I never went out and served. 

We have quite a few investigators who are really on the verge of getting answers for themselves about the Church. Almost at a make or break point. It's amazing to see how I KNOW that when they get that testimony, when they accept the gospel, such beautiful light and testimony will be poured into their souls, but it's impossible to tell them that without them experiencing it them for themselves. 

We also were able to teach this part-member family. They have been going through so many trials in their lives I just want to grab them and shake them and yell, "DONT YOU KNOW THE GOSPEL CAN HELP?" But I am not really sure how much good that will do. One thing I am a firm believer in, is that although we might still experience trials, those who follow Jesus Christ will receive increased help and strength through those trails. Daniel still had to go into the Lion's Den. He wasn't delivered from that trial. But with his faith the Lions didn't attack him (AKA we can receive strength during our trials.) Okay, well I have to run. I love you all! If you ever get a chance to go to a Samoan Choir, do it. They are amazing. Or a Samoan Halloween party. There is some many cute kids, and there is no-stop sweets! 

Love you all!

November 10, 2014--It.Has.Begun
This week has been full of a lot of full stomachs, happy hearts, and sore arms. The reason why I said it's begun, for the joyous fact that this week, or I guess more properly described on Nov. 1st, we moved into the Samoan side of the dinners. From the 15 to the 31st of last month, what we call the "white people" ward fed us, so that meant typical dinners. But on Nov 1st, the Samoan ward took over the dinner calender, and we've basically been eating more than a Poly boy at Golden Corral after Priesthood Session of General Conference. Last night, we were at dinner, and they put down food for the three of us that could probably feed the Brady Bunch for a few weeks, and told us "eat elders. eat." and so we started eating and eating. The bulk of the dinner was fried chicken, teryaki sausage, rice, and taro, but they also had turkey wing soup and friend fish. So we were eating and eating, silently praying that every bite we ate would some how evaporate from our stomachs, magically allowing us to eat more than we should be able to. But I don't know if God really does those type of things. At least he didn't last night! Anyway, Elder Nielsen is a diabetic, so whenever he gets full he just whips out his insulin needle and gives himself a shot. It sort of signifies the whole concept of, "There's no way I'm taking another shot tonight, so you better not make me eat anything else." And most people understand that. My other companion, Elder Talatau, gets off the hook. For some reason, one I am not sure of, they love making white boys eat. They dont really care about how much polys eat, but whenever a white boy is eating in their eyes he is never full. So both Elder Nielsen and Elder Talatau were excused to sit on the couch, and I thought to myself, "Watch this. I am going to impress these Samoans with how much I can eat." bad idea. At first I ate another sausage, then I ate some more taro. Then I was full. Then I ate more fried chicken. Then I couldn't fit anymore food into my belly. Then they gave me more sausage. I could see my life flashing before my eyes. Actually, I could just envision it all coming back up into the toilet. Now I am sure you all can too. Sorry about that. Well anyway, I was about half through my last sausage, and I regretfully report I could not finish it. It just wouldn't go down. I swallowed my pride, tucked my tail between my legs, and informed the family I couldn't finish it. I even tried the tactic of cutting it up to look like I've eaten more. But alas, it didnt work. The Mom said it was okay that I didn't eat all of it, and the dad kind of grunted and then grabbed my plate and scrapped the rest of the food onto his. Everything was okay after that. I survived. Expect the rest of the night it felt like someone had placed a bowling ball into my stomach. But that's okay. It happens to the best of us.

One thing that I've really grown to love in the Samoan ward is volleyball! They absolutely love volleyball in the islands. Everyone is good at it too. And we aren't talking about the typical "just try and get it over the net" graduation-style volleyball, we are talking about bump set spike, 20+ hits per point. The best thing about it is they don't take it seriously at all. It's weird, they all try their hardest, but when someone loses, or makes a mistake, it's not a big deal. In fact, if someone messes up, everyone just busts up like its the funniest things theyve ever seen! Even the person who messes up! And all are welcome. It's really a great time. It makes me feel alive. 

Anyway, on a more spiritual note, I have been pondering a lot about some things in my life, and I've been thinking about how sometimes we (myself included) get so wrapped up in trivial things in life. Our lives become focus on things that shouldnt be our greatest focus. Relationships that are struggling, church callings, materialistic things, etc. etc. Even things as great as our family become our main focus! But that shouldn't be the case. We need to have Christ as our central focus. We need to have an eternal outlook. What is more important, making decisions for the here and now, or for the future and eternity? Every decision, in some small way, affects who we are or are becoming. And who we are affects where we will be and WHO we will be after this life. The only thing we can take with us out of this life is our characteristics and our knowledge. We don't all just become heaven robots with all the same personality and floating on clouds while just blissfully eating grapes and being cooled off by palm fronds. We will be who we are here, and so we gotta be focused on Christ, our supreme example, to become who we need and should be after this life. 

There's my soap box for the day. I love you all! Stay faithful, read some general conference talks, eat some Halloween candy! 

Your favorite white boy,
Elder Gleave 
Malo Soifua family

November 17, 2014--Primary Programs Galore
This week has been a very special week. And that's for one reason only. It was my absolute favorite time of the year. PRIMARY PROGRAM!! Since we cover two wards, we got the privilege of watching TWO primary programs! I never really understand how great the primary programs were until my mission, but they are seriously the next best thing to cheese in a can and toilets. (Seriously. Imagine our world without toilets.) 

Sundays are usually a very long day, starting church at 8am and ends around 3pm. It often takes my best efforts not to fall asleep during sacrament meeting, especially when it is in full Samoan. But this Sunday, I was wide awake. I just really love how passionate and excited the little kids are. They are sooo funny, never ceasing to make me laugh. Here are some highlights:

From the English Ward: A kid gets up to speak, yells "HI" into the microphone, then he realizes he is standing in front of 150+ adults, eyes get real wide and then buries his head into the teacher there to help him, too embarrassed to even look at us. Hahaha. One of the kids was doing interpretive dacing to every single song which included playing an imaginary trumpet and conducting the music. There was the classic puts-his-face into the microphone and gives his line, making it sound like he is a mumbling God above. And there was the ones who just stared out into the crowd with an exact deer in the headlights look. Classic.

From the Samoan ward: This kid in a bow tie stands up, and I thought myself, this is going to be good. He then grabs the podium, starts speaking like a preacher, waving his hand in the air and points to the sky then he points into the crowd and everyone laughs. It turns out it was roughly translated as this, "The only way to return to God is to repent. Repentance is the key. And don't be like my dad. He doesn't repent. (pointing to his dad in the congregation)" It was the best I've seen. Plus one of the kids was the conductor. He would stand up, signal everyone to stand, then proceed to wave both hands as if a symphony conductor. When it was his turn to speak, he strolled up the stand, winked at everyone, said something in Samoan, then sat down with a smirk on his face. What a punk... 

Anyway, I just really love the primary program. I think my favorite part is how beautiful and simple the doctrine they sing and subsequently teach about is. I didn't notice it until my mission, but the primary program is basically the missionary lessons put into song form and taught by kids! It's beautiful. I think sometimes we think we need some passionate speaker or really educated sermon to learn something about the gospel, but if we are humble and teachable, I am convinced the primary program can really do wonders in teaching us about how we can be better people.
For example, one of the songs talk about how we need to have family prayer every morning and night. And the kids talk about how important FHE is. How many of us are REALLY doing those things? Or how important scripture study and repentace are. How many of us could improve on that? I mean seriously, probably all of us! I just really love it. 

Anyway, I know I am suppose to relate some awesome missionary experience about how we taught a person and they were crying and just loved the gospel, but I really just wanted to talk about the primary program. So I guess you'll have to wait till another week. But Love you all! 
Elder Uso Gleave

Friday, November 7, 2014

Week 72--Blessed be the Isles of the Sea

"But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea"
2 Nephi 10:21

OH HOW TRUE THIS SCRIPTURE IS. Blessed are the isles of the sea. This week was quite the eventful week. As part of the new transfer, me and my companion inherited a new ward and a new companion. One of the missionaries from the Samoan ward, Moanalua 2nd, had to go home from a few days to attend a funeral, and since there was an odd number of Elders in the mission, he just decided the he was going to stick the missionary and his ward with us. So on Wednesday, we officially took over the Samoan ward. Now we asked the missionaries if everything was taken care of until Elder Talatau (our new companion) got back Friday. They assured us everything was. So we were thinking "great, we don't have to worry about that ward until Friday and they we will work with Elder Talatau and everything will just be amazing." Well that night we get a call from one of the missionaries who use to serve in that ward saying, "Hey, the members called me and said that one of the people I was teaching there is getting baptized this weekend, what the heck? Why didn't you tell me?" and I was like, "I guess probably because we had no idea." And so what had happened was the missionaries serving in the ward before had asked Lipine (the person being baptized) how her smoking was going, and she would say, "Oh it's hard." and that's it. So they just assumed she was still smoking. But in fact she meant, "I have not been smoking for a while and it's hard making sure I don't smoke." But that was apparently lost in the communication. So the members were mad that we didn't believe her,  and were going to baptize her this weekend. So I literally know 0 people in the Samoan ward, and we have to set up a baptism. So we decided to visit the investigator, and it turns out to be the 2nd councilor's daughter-in-law, and so he made the program and then we interviewed her and in a miracle we got everything ready to go. We  were so excited! Then they called the next day and said we had to reschedule for next week hahaha and that's how the Samoan ward goes!  It all works out though. I love this ward. I never have heard such beautiful 10-part harmonies in sacrament meeting. It's like a choir of angels. Also, I've never been in such a well organized game of casual volleyball. Everybody was incredible, and yet no one was that competitive. Oh how glorious are the people of Samoa. The only downside is I have no idea what people say in church. That's okay.

Well it looks like we survived another hurricane! Hurricane Ana decided she was going to test her luck with the mean islands of Hawaii, but at the last minute backed down. We may be small, but like I said, BLESSED BE THE ISLES OF THE SEA. No one was really gearing up for this one, not quite like the last one. People were doing the equivalent to a dooms day prep for the last hurricane scare, and I guess since nothing really happened they didn't take this one quite as serious. I was just interested to see if the last one was the boy who cried wolf, and this was the wolf. I always thought that if God was going to do a Sodom and Gomorrah type deal to Hawaii, the area I was serving in would be the first to go. But we were spared until another day. It was just super duper rainy all of yesterday. I was tempted to go surfing down the street but I decided I would save that for after the mission. 

We also opened up a booth at the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium! It didn't go quite as well as we hoped. WE just attracted a bunch of members. We weren't in an ideal spot, and because of Hurricane Ana, not many people showed up, but we are determined to do it again. We can make a difference. 

Sorry this email is not very consistent or that spiritual. I'm pretty distracted today. Plus I'm getting to the point (actually I've been at the point for about a year now) where it feels like I am just reporting on my everyday life, and less of me reporting on my mission. So sometimes it's hard to remember. But things are going great! My favorite part of the mission is being put into tough situations that you have no idea what to do, then praying to God and telling him you have no idea what to do and you need help, then going to work and watch miracles happen. It works everytime. Anyway, I'm glad I didn't die.
Hurricanes+Mother Nature-0  

Isles of the Sea win every time.

Fa'a Soifua
Elder Gleave
The one on the right is my new comp.