Thursday, August 28, 2014

8/28/14 - (MTC) Overwhelmed

Manahoana Anareo!!
 
This week has been such an amazing week! it's definitely been challenging but effective in my learning.  The first few days lasted an ETERNITY!!! Ugh, I wanted to die. It was insane! I got to the MTC on Wednesday, went to the office to check in, got my name tag and books, went straight to Malagasy class! Just like that! We then got a ton of malagasy to study and felt overwhelmed within the first hour of me getting there! Oh my gosh its been crazy! I really like my teachers though.  There names are Brother Sell, Brother Aldous, and Brother Bingham.  I met my companion when I walked in.  His name is Elder Tiu.  Super cool guy.  He's soo funny! He's from California! We got along from the start and havn't had any problems yet! The second day just seemed longer. We had breakfast, class for 3 hours, had lunch, class for 3 more hours, dinner, class for 4 more hours. Haha lots of class.  It seems like their concept is to push us to our limits, then push it farther so we work harder and we're working every minute. My goodness! I was exhausted.  That night, our branch president came into our room and gave us a little orientation then interviewed all 12 of us afterwards.  Then he invites me back into another room and asks me to be the district leader.  At the time, I really wanted to say no but I accepted. Haha I was thinking, I'm exhausted with enough on my plate, I'd just be giving myself more work.  I also felt like elders in the district were a little intimidated that I got that. they didn't know me and I became their leader.  I ran into one of my good friends at the MTC, Tanner Braden, and he gave me the best tips for being district leader.  He told me it is one of the best ways to serve your district.  So I lead by example.  I didn't turn into one of those grumpy, bossy leaders who told everyone what to do and no one liked.  I pretty much became their servant.  Not even a week into being district leader, I had elders coming up to me saying how good of a job I was doing and how grateful they were that I was district leader.  One elder told me "whenever I would get off focus, I would see what Elder Mack was doing, and you were always studying so I did that too, thank you." I'm grateful for the assignment now.  At first, the other elders thought I was insane and so did I.  But, I'm glad I am district leader now.  This week we got to hear from a member of the 70.  His name is James Martino.  He gave such a great talk about setting goals and following by the spirit. One of my favorite things he said was that you need to forget yourself and go to work, be exactly obedient, and open your mouth and it shall be filled.  The last one was soo important this week because 2 days into the MTC, we are already teaching investigators in our language... It was soo hard! But that was what they were trying to teach us was to go by the spirit and not by notes that you write down.  Soo starting Monday we had an hour where we were able to have gym time.  It's soo nice having that once a day to cool down and relieve stress.  We have a lot of options to choose from - soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.  Monday we played soccer and there were so many people playing its ridiculous but guess what? I scored 2 goals!!! for the other team..... haha i suck at soccer. I would try to defend and two people kicked the soccer ball at me and bounced off me into our goal. haha.  Well the language is going great.  I can now bear my testimony and pray in my language.  Like to say I know the church is true, you say, "Fantatra fa marina fiangonani Jesoa Kristy ho an'ny olomasini andro farany"! Soo much fun but hard! I'm getting better everyday! Well that's it for this week! Veluma!

-Elder Mack
http://www.mormon.org/me/G4D0

Companions - Elder Mack and Elder Tiu
 
 
Branch President
 
Elder Liao, our Zone Leader
 
Look who I bumped into on our temple walk!  Elder Tanner Braden (Hong Kong)
 
 
Madagascar District
 
Madagascar District
 
Our Classroom
 
Elder Tiu and Elder Mack 

 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

8/23/14 - (MTC) First night

My Beautiful Ohana,

It's my first night in the MTC and I'm missing you guys like crazy.  Today has been very overwhelming.  I checked in, got my books, and went straight to Malagasy class.  Our President and his wife spoke to us after class and they were just giving us tips and telling us how grateful they were for our service.  I hope all is going well with you guys.  My preparation days are on Thursdays.  We don't get one tomorrow so I have to wait a week to get one.  My first companion is a really chill and cool Elder.  His name is Elder Tiu.  He's from San Jose, California.  He's Chinese and speaks a little of it too.  His parents were converts and he's had two siblings go on missions already.  I have an awesome district too.  I met Elder Snell, Elder Evans, and Elder Stringfellow.  Super awesome guys.  Mom, thanks so much for going the extra mile for my packing.  I'm hearing elders saying "I forgot this and that" and then there's me going, "I'm prepared".  I met my zone leaders today too.  They've only been out a week and they're just like us who have to wait longer for P-day.  They get their first one tomorrow.  Spence - thanks so much for the letter.  Love you soo much bro.  I will read it whenever I feel discouraged.  I love you all so much.  I'll try to get pictures to you next Thursday.

Love,
Elder Mack
http://www.mormon.org/me/G4D0

DeeJay Pasikala, one of my former piano students sent this picture to me on my FaceBook page.
DeeJay teaches Cebuano at the MTC and passed Elder Mack studying outside. 
Thank you DeeJay! You made this mama very happy :)   - Tami

Sunday, August 17, 2014

8/17/14 - (Home) Farewell Open House










8/17/14 - (Home) Sacrament Talk on Patience

My dear brothers and sisters, ALOHA!

I am glad to be here today and to speak to you on the topic of Patience. I’m not sure that I’m always the best example of patience but I sure learned some great things about patience as I prepared this talk which will definitely help me as I serve my upcoming mission.

In learning about patience it actually helped for me to learn what patience isn’t. What patience isn’t is simply impatience. Impatience is a symptom of selfishness. It is a trait of someone who is self-absorbed. A lot of us get impatient every day, whether we are waiting in traffic, waiting for our 3G service to work, or waiting in line at McDonalds. We live in a world offering fast food, instant messaging, on-demand movies, and immediate answers to the most trivial or profound questions by pulling out your smart phone. As people, we generally don’t like to wait.

President Uchtdorf said in his talk Continue in Patience, “…patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!”

The prophet Alma taught us in Alma 7:23…

23 And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

He also teaches as Priesthood brethren and representatives of the Lord we are to work on these character traits and practices. Doctrine & Covenants 121:36, 41… 

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
This scripture teaches us the traits that will give us strength and wisdom to serve in our callings, to preach the gospel, and how to treat our families in our home.

I was trying to think of some great thing I have done in my life that required patience. I thought for a long time and began to get frustrated and impatient with myself thinking that I had not done much in the patience department that I could share with you. My mother reminded me that when I was six years old I learned to play the ukulele. I remember going to lessons and I had a hard time even learning how to hold the ukulele correctly. Then I had learn to play certain notes, then chords, them strums. Eventually I put those together to make a song. It didn’t happen overnight. Then I learned to play drums, and some piano. This all took patience. Learning a talent requires practice, and sacrificing spare time. Speaking of sacrificing spare time, it’s nice to see my fellow Aida cast in the congregation. Did you all realize that we worked on this wonderful trait this year? It takes a lot of time, effort, patience to put on a good show. I’m so glad to be in a great ward with so many talented people. My man Sam Peterson, Gabe Redondo, McKay Woodwell, Mama Woodwell, and my favorite Counselor Carol Peterson. They all have learned patience as they increased their talent.

President Lorenzo Snow shared this story about what is required of someone who is learning to play the flute. “An individual undertaking to learn to play upon a flute at first finds a difficulty in making the notes, and in order to play a tune correctly there is a great deal of diligence and patience required. He has to go on, to pause, to turn back and commence afresh, but after a time he is enabled, through a great deal of exertions, to master that tune. When called upon to play that tune afterwards, there is no necessity for remembering where to place the fingers, but he plays it naturally. It was not natural at the first; there had to be a great deal of patience and labor, before it became natural to go through with the tune.”

In Mosiah 3:19 it says…

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

Our Heavenly Father knows us and has given us talents and it is up to us through diligence and patience to magnify those talents and abilities. Sometimes in our life we might play some "sour notes", and get so frustrated. He knows this, He understands. He wants us to keep pushing forward. He wants us to NEVER GIVE UP. Because He will NOT GIVE UP on us.

I’ve learned that patience and diligence go hand in hand. Diligence means persevering determination to perform a task. Whatever job we are performing, diligence ensures it will get done. Diligence keeps you going if you feel you are about to falter or fail. Patience helps you to not get frustrated when you falter, and helps you to get going again. Patience and diligence go hand in hand.

President Uchtdorf said, “Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.

Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace.”

Our Heavenly Father knows that if we, his children are ever going to mature and reach our potential, we must learn to wait.

President Uchtdorf shared a really neat story that talked about how important it is for us to learn patience. Some of you may remember hearing the Marshmallow story. In the 1960s, a professor at Stanford University began an experiment testing the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed before them a large marshmallow and then told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited for 15 minutes, they could have two marshmallows. Most of them agreed that they would wait

He then left the children alone and watched what happened behind a two-way mirror. Some of the children ate the marshmallow immediately; some could wait only a few minutes before giving in to temptation. One child picked up the marshmallow, licked it, and then put it back down. Some kids would smell it. Some kids would play with it. Then there were some that were able to distract themselves by turning around, covering their eyes, or kicking the desk. Only 30% of the children in the room were able to wait.

After the experiment as the years passed, he kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the impatient children struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while the patient children tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.

What started as a simple experiment with children and marshmallows became an important study suggesting that the ability to wait—to be patient—was a key character trait that might predict later success in life.

How would we have reacted if we were one of the children in this experiment? I’m not sure what my 4-year-old self would have done. 15 minutes seems like an eternity when you’re a kid. How do we act today? Do we gobble up the marshmallows in our life? Are we able to wait upon the Lord?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell wisely said, “Patience is tied very closely to our faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than his. Either way, we are questioning the reality of God’s omniscience.”

For my 18th birthday just a couple of weeks ago my dad gave me a special gift. It was a fishhook that he bought for me in Hawaii. He explained to me the significance of a fishhook and how it can help me remember to be patient and to do all things with love. 

In ancient Hawaii the Hawaiian people lived in communities. Some of the people were designated to make tapa cloth, some were canoe builders, some grew taro, and some were fisherman. So if you were a fishermen you would not only catch fish for your family but for the whole community. 

Fishermen would make their own fishhooks out of bone. They would shape the bone using a stone file. This would take weeks to fashion one hook. The amount of time and energy that they would spend on the hooks made them very valuable and really important. They would keep them in a gourd container called an ipu in Hawaiian and take them everywhere they went. They never lost sight of the ipu. The reason was that they didn’t want to lose their hooks. They would even sleep with them because of what the fishhooks represented. Why were the hooks so important to these fisherman? The hooks represented their ability to provide – not only for their family but for their whole community. It represented the love and aloha the fisherman had for those he served. The better he was at crafting the fishhook the better he was at providing.

Each fishhook had to be lashed to a cord. This cord was woven from coconut husk. This process was just as important as the crafting of the hook because if the cording was not made from the right material, or was not strong enough or tied just right you might lose the hook. Which ultimately provides for his family.

This fishhook and the cord I liken to me being fashioned into a missionary. The Lord has fashioned us into an instrument. For the last 18 years he has fashioned me to become a fisher of men. I am tied to my Savior and my Heavenly Father like the strong cording. The stronger I keep that cord the better missionary I will be. He is the craftsman. He is shaping me to help bring his children to him. Others have helped me to weave a strong connection to my Heavenly Father – my parents, grandparents, friends, church leaders, and teachers. We all need to allow the Lord to mold and fashion us into the kind of person he wants us to be. We weave a life for ourselves by the decisions we make and the relationships we keep. What life are we weaving for ourselves today? If I don’t do a good job it will show. If I don’t tie it well I could be lost. It takes time, effort, diligence, and patience to make a good life. It is through us that he gets to show his love to many of his children. It will be through us that he brings people back to the fold. We are needed to provide the gospel to our neighbors. We need to be willing to go where he wants us to go. Willing to go far from home. Willing to learn a different language like Malagasy. I know that if I am submissive and humble the Lord will weave me. When I feel the fishhook on my chest I will remember what I’m doing in Madagascar and why I’m doing it. I will then study with a purpose. I will then teach with purpose. 

The beauty of serving the Lord is that when we serve Him and do what he expects us to do – diligence and patience are given to us. We are given the apability to perform the task at hand.

From the time I went to primary one of favorite songs was ‘I’m trying to be like Jesus’.

Love one another as Jesus loves you
Try to show kindness in all that you do
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought
For these are the things Jesus taught

I can be more like him by learning the Christlike attribute of patience.

President Uchtdorf said, “The work of patience boils down to this: keep the commandments; trust in God, our Heavenly Father; serve Him with meekness and Christlike love; exercise faith and hope in the Savior; and never give up. The lessons we learn from patience will cultivate our character, lift our lives, and heighten our happiness.”

My brothers and sisters I know this church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I have read it and found out for myself that it is true. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel on the earth. I know that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet today. I am so grateful for being able to have gone through the temple last Thursday. I enjoyed going through the temple with my family a few times, and once with Trevor. I’m sad that the temple is not close for the saints in Madagascar but I hope through the work that I and the other Madagascar missionaries do they will eventually have one in the future. I am so excited to share the gospel with the Malagasy people. I know if I am obedient I will be blessed. I know that my Heavenly Father will give me the strength I need to be a good missionary. 

Thank you everyone for being a part of my life and for helping me to be the person I am today.  I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

8/3/14 - (Home) Melchizedek Priesthood Ordination

 
L to R:  Uncle Kalani Mack, Uncle Byron Jespersen, Dad Kimo Mack, Me, Grandpa George Poliahu
Missing from picture:  Uncle Ka'au Alapa, Bishop Dan Christensen, Brother ______________