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!