Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1st Christmas in Australia


Christmas here was pretty great. It was a stark contrast from what it is like in the States. Most people I talked to didn't know about Christmas and some just didn't have any Christmas spirit. Australia is funny because the people are so laid back and they don't really get too involved in holidays. We had a Christmas party at the Branch which was super cool. We had a pot-luck dinner and had over 100 people show up. Lots of the new members and investigators were celebrating Christmas for the first time and it was cool to see how much they enjoyed it. One of our investigators is from India and he is super keen and I enjoyed just talking to him about the traditions we had in the States. He absolutely loved the part where naughty kids got coal from Santa. He thought that was so funny. After, the missionaries had gathered a bunch of old things from their flats and had wrapped them and put them under the Christmas tree. They had a raffle and gave out presents to those who were still left. Four of the presents were pieces of a Vietnamese painting. Some of the Vietnamese members got a little mad because apparently it is bad luck to split up the picture. Some of the gifts were funny like this one lady got a shoe polish kit. It was just cool to be a part of some people's first experience with Christmas and to see how much happiness the holiday brought into the people's lives. Even though I did not get many gifts, I still felt joyous on that special day. 

Boxing Day was also another crazy experience. It is the equivalent to Black Friday but the day after Christmas. There were so many people shopping. It was so busy in the city and was really hard to talk to anyone about things that really matter. Satan is good at what he does. I finally got used to talking to random people and getting their contact info. I feel comfortable doing it now to basically anyone and I know that the more I relied on the Lord, the more he was able to help me. 

I also got news that I will be leaving the City (Melbourne) this transfer. It is sad to leave such a wonderful place, but I had just gotten comfortable so that is when it is harder to progress personally. Hopefully I will be able to serve in the City later on in my mission. I don't know where I'll end up but I do know that I am in the Lord's hands and that I am needed somewhere else at this time. 

It was great to hear from you all as well. Enjoy your Christmas gifts and know that I love you all. 

It's great to hear news about the wrestling team. Tell them I said hi back and wish them the best of luck this season. I know that they will accomplish a ton. They are a good group of guys. Keep me updated on them. It is fun to see how they are doing.

I'll probably go around and site see today, so the pictures will be good next week.

Elder Otterson

Elder (Adam) Otterson with missionary companions in front of Asian church sign

Melbourne train station

Adam with Vietnamese missionary at 2014 mission holiday party

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mission Christmas Party...and A Christmas Miracle

What's up?

This week was pretty sweet. We drove around on p-day looking for a good spot to fish but couldn't find any. It was still fun and we were able to just chill by the docks and enjoy each others company. I'm including some pics of the skyline and the dock. The skyline is really quite beautiful and the ocean gives it a nice feel.  We had a Mission Christmas party on Wednesday. It was super fun and pretty amazing to see how many missionaries there are in this mission - and the Tasmania missionaries weren't even in attendance. They had a talent show. There and there are so many Islanders in this mission so it was pretty sweet - I saw a Hawaiian dance and song, a Vanuatu song, a Samoan/Tahitian dance, and a Fijian song. After that they showed us a movie which was super weird because it was "How to Train Your Dragon 2" which normally wouldn't be approved. It was just weird to see a real movie while on a mission. They served us food and then we had a devotional which was super cool. This Christmas season we are reading the gospels as a mission. Admittedly, this is really the first time that I can say that I've read them through completely (outside of seminary studies). I have already learned a lot and I am just starting Luke. Man! I didn't even know he wasn't an Apostle...Learn something new everyday: - )

On the more spiritual side, a miracle kind of happened. So, one day we were at the branch (church congregation) and we got a text from a random number asking if they could pray in the church with us. Of course, we said yes and they came. It turns out the person was a former investigator who other missionaries had lost track of a while ago. We met with her and she expressed a love for the church and the feeling she had when she was there. We met a couple more times and asked if she would be baptized. She said yes!...which is awesome. So, that should happen in the next couple of weeks.

On the funnier side, there is this hobo who hates missionaries and he always yells at us. It's cool though - he's not really that threatening. He is rascist so he especially hates Asian missionaries. We were finding one day with some of the Vietnamese elders and he belly shoved the Vietnamese elder. It was so funny.

Hope you guys are enjoying the holidays. Most of our teaching pool has left to their homelands for the holidays so work is slowing down, but there is still lots to do. Love you all.

Love Elder Otterson

 Adam's "Blue Steel" Look - Melbourne Bay

 Melbourne Skyline 1

  Melbourne Skyline2

Quaint Dock - Melbourne

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A wonderful exchange with the APs...

Hello all,

I love hearing from everyone - it really makes a big difference every week to see your support. The work is still going well down under. I had a lot of cool experiences and also just some fun things to add. I went on a companion exchange with one of the Assistants to the President (AP - one of the leader missionaries reporting directly to the mission president) this week. I was able to learn a lot from him while working with him, but the most growth and learning on my part took place afterwards, during the exchange review. During that time the Spirit and also Elder Woodruff's (the AP) love were able to break down my self-created barriers. You know that I am not really one to open up and I hate being and feeling vulnerable and weak. During that time, though, I was able to really feel the spirit and God's love very strongly. I admit some tears were shed. Thinking back on that experience, I feel that I learned that the Spirit can't really communicate to us when we don't let it, and also the Spirit can only communicate and learn when we come before God as He knows us. I know that doesn't make the best of sense, but I know that what I experienced was real and that it only came because those barriers I had built were torn down even if it was only for a moment.  I was able to feel the Spirit more strongly then than I have in the past for a long time. It is going to take a while to learn and change but that feeling is one that I want with me forever.

So, now for some cool things...There is this tradition here that happens in the winter months called the "Tim Tam Slam." What you do is you buy some Tim Tams (they are these Kit Kat like wafers you can get at Target). You bite off the ends and then stick one end in hot chocolate and suck until the Tim Tam becomes saturated and then you eat the wafer. I recommend it. 

Also there is this cake here that you guys would love. It is called Pavlova and it is unique to New Zealand and Australia. See if you can find it. 

Elder Otterson

Friday, December 5, 2014

November 30th Letter - First Baptism in Australia!

This week our tri-panionship had a baptism! The guys name was Ivo and supposedly before I came, he contacted the missionaries and told them that he wanted to be a Mormon. We were able to teach him and he was able to be baptized. The man who baptized him was the husband of Ivo's girlfriend's sister, who Elder Newell had gotten to know in his last ward. It is cool how the Lord works. I also had the opportunity to give my first priesthood blessing to someone. I was pretty nervous, but I think I was able to be in tune with the Spirit and the man said that I said something in the blessing that he didn't get until a little bit latter, so that was cool to hear. 

I have been pretty busy just doing the work. My companions are really obedient and they are good examples to me. I recently set some mission goals and discovered that being a successful missionary is really simple. You just need to be willing to be obedient, willing to work, and develop Christlike attributes. Although actually doing these things are going to take a lot of work, that is really all you need to do which isn't much at all - the formula is simple. 

One of the biggest things I don't like so far is just how people don't keep commitments. It is so frustrating to set up all of these great plans and lessons throughout the day and then confirm appointments with people just to have them not show up. When our appointments don't show, we just have to go out onto the street and find new people to teach. It just wastes a lot of time going back and forth from the branch to the library and back again. We usually go finding at the library because the people there are not really in a hurry and are more likely to stop and talk. Anyways, I'm excited for next week and the ups and downs that are in store. 

Read the word of God and pray always. I'll send pics next week.

 Adam's First Baptism in Melbourne Australia!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Letter From Australia

Hey all,

I didn't get a chance to write since that MTC due to the long flight to Australia.  Sixteen hours in a plane was not fun and it is really hard for me to sleep sitting up. After we landed, we were picked up by the mission president and driven to the mission home.  The mission home is right next to the Temple.  We had a quick bite to eat, and had a short visit with the mission president and got to meet some of the missionaries that were to be our trainers. After lunch, we went to the mission office which shares a parking lot with the Temple and had a  "Golden Meeting".  They call the new missionaries "Goldens" here.  There we all were put into our companionship and learned where we would be serving.  I was put in a tri-panionship with Elders Newell and Steele.  They are both from Utah and are pretty cool guys.  My first area is right in the middle of the city of Melbourne.  I get to ride the tram to the train station and then ride the train into the city.  The city is super diverse.  I have talked to people from all over the world here. So far I have met people from Australia, New Zealand, Iran, Malaysia, Korea, Vietnam, China, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.  I have gotten to be a part of some cool lessons and actually had the chance to anoint one of our investigators for a blessing so that he could give up smoking. His name is Lyall and he is super cool.  Smoking is the only thing holding him back from being baptized so hopefully he is able to quit. 

The Branch I serve in is super small.  We meet on the first floor of an office building right in the city.  Although it is very different, they do everything the same way as the ward back home runs things.  It is amazing how truly wherever you go, the church is always the same.  There are two branches that meet at this building, the Chinese one and the English one.  It is going to take some getting used to but the work is moving forward and I expect that it will be a ward soon.

I had to go shopping by myself for the first time as well.  It was so weird. I have been eating the same meals everyday due to lack of time to cook and the general expensiveness of the products.  I eat toast and eggs in the morning, rice and flavored tuna with a banana for lunch, and a meat pie for dinner.  Meat pies are really good by the way.  Definitely recommend trying one if you are ever blessed to be in Australia.  

I have just been trying to get used to using a planner and the day-to-day missionary life, but I'll be more observant of interesting things I see in the city.  Miss you all but still having fun and working hard.  

Elder Otterson

 Elder Otterson arrives in Australia!  Here he is in front of the Melbourne mission home.
Elder Otterson in front of the mission home with his mission president, President Maxwell and his wife.

 Elder Otterson's 1st Desk In Melbourne Flat
Elder Otterson's 1st Flat (Melbourne)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

First Letter from the MTC

Sup family!

Today is the first p-day and also the only one I will be getting in the MTC.  I have to say I have not been more excited to do laundry in my life.  It has been pretty awesome up here so far. there is a lot of spiritual growth and learning that I didn't think was possible until my time here.   Everyday I have the opportunity to feel the Spirit and increase my knowledge and testimony of this Gospel.  All in all it is truly an amazing experience.  My district members are super chill and fun to be around.  We share lots of laughs and also get the chance to learn from each other.  Everyday we go to classes where we learn how to teach and learn how to teach by the Spirit which I have grown to appreciate and understand the value of its presence in the room while teaching.  We had the opportunity this morning to visit the Provo temple.  It is a lot bigger than the Denver one for sure.  My companion is Elder Zimmerman and he is from Ogden Utah. He is a farm-boy and did FFA and high school rodeo competitions. He loves to talk about trucks and engines mostly so we don't really share any interests besides our love of Disney songs.   This companionship is a testament of the Lord's knowledge of what we need to grow because I certainly have been learning charity and patience while here.  On a sadder note, one of the sisters in our zone had to go home due to health issues.  We held a zone testimony meeting in her honor and also gave her a priesthood blessing of comfort.  It was truly a powerful experience.  Everyone in my district is going to either the Adelaide or Melbourne missions so we get to travel together.  I arrive in Melbourne on the 19 and leave here the 17 in case you were wondering. 

In regards to Narnia holes, I did find a rubber ball which has proven to be quite a blessing as it keeps me entertained while I walk from building to building.  In our room an Elder left a picture of the Martin handcart river crossing and on the back it taught about the three eighteen year old boys who jeopardized their lives so they could help those saints cross.  When I found it I was spiritually moved and it reaffirmed the desire that I have gained to be the best I can and to try to be as Christ. 

I recommend listening/watching/reading Converted unto the Lord by David A. Bednar (October 2012 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon Session). After watching that I really wanted to change and become as Christ and I hope that you all will feel the same way.

Future Aussie,

Elder Otterson

Packed and ready to serve!

Leaving to the Mission Training Center (MTC)! 

Elder Otterson and the young Joseph Smith in front of the MTC in Provo Utah

Australia!  Here I come!

 Adam and his MTC district (that's his companion Elder Zimmerman on the left)
 This is a typical MTC classroom.
 Adam and the Elders from his MTC group.
 Adam's MTC dorm room.
The elders going to Australia from his MTC district going to Australia.

Elder Adam Otterson with his good friend from Arizona - Alec Porter.  Elder Porter is going to Brazil for his mission.