New Zealand is still beautiful. Pretty exciting for Sam. Costa Rica! Is he going into the Provo MTC? He is going to love it - that lucky wiener! Too bad his mission isn't the best one in the world. It did seem like a lot of people can't wait for him to leave. :) Xoch's birthday sounded fun - Russian food sounds really interesting. I am sure it was an adventure. Think there is a Maori restaurant in Salt Lake? Life seems busy but I am glad you made it to the cabin - the pit looks good. Church in the mountains is always better, because you know, "When you are in the mountains, you are closer to Heaven." :) I am trying to stay optimistic, the area is pretty good and I have found a lot of good things about the area, I think I am just bored of it though, that's all.
This week I was able to have a lot of experiences with death - Don't worry, I didn't almost die or anything. One of the members of the ward died though. We went to Sister Reihanas funeral. She was a great woman and left behind seven girls and one boy who are all very active. In fact, they comprise most of Moerewa ward. It was really interesting. I love the way the people are so close at the marae and you can tell everyone feels like family. We ended up having the actual funeral service at the chapel, however, and it was nice to get back to the chapel. It just felt more normal.. or comfortable. Everyone was so happy and you can really tell the difference when someone dies who is headed to a good place, who kept their covenants.
Afterward we were having Kai [a meal or food] and The Clements had a man who was pretty rude to them, He explained that Maori's are the chosen people and that they speak God's language. He blamed missionaries in general for bringing tobacco, alcohol, and the Bible to NZ. It was pretty rude to just approach them like that and I think it surprised them but one of the members who was sitting at the table, Brother Bolleboom from Holland, in his broken English was able to say, "You have your agency. Don't blame them." Or at least something along those lines. It was cool to see the Spirit drive the man away from the table. He got really uncomfortable and left without saying anything. He couldn't deny the truth. It was pretty frustrating but Elder Blandford was the most frustrated out of all of us.
I was also able to visit a man who is dying of stomach cancer. He is pretty much just staying at his home waiting to die, and he had seemed to be really sad. His name is Pat Te Whata. I am not sure if I told you about this but he is the one in priesthood meeting who stands up and randomly recites every word of D&C 4. He is a faithful member and a temple patron. My companion and I were able to share with him one of my favorite scriptures that I know the Spirit brought to my remembrance...
I was thinking about death a little bit. I never know I might get struck by lightning walking down the street, I could get hit by something at night in my sleep. But when we are promised mansions in heaven, who could ask for more? I don't want to die yet but I know it will be a happy time (at least for me) when I am dead.
P.S. Sorry no pictures - forgot my camera :(