Monday, January 26, 2015

My Last P-day in Micronesia . . .

The last P-day in Micronesia carries many emotions on both sides of the world. We're happy for Elder McEwan's return but know how much he is going to miss his Micronesian family once he leaves the islands. They are such a big part of his world and his heart. As a family, we are so grateful for the opportunity that Elder Sean McEwan has had to serve an LDS mission and know that he nor are not the same because of his choice to serve. The Micronesian people also hold a very dear place in our hearts and hopefully some day we will have the blessing of meeting those that have taken care of our Elder and are also so dear to him.

January 25, 2015

Dear Family,

Thanks for all the support. Things are going well so far we just had transfer calls last night so Elder Matalolo will now be with Elder Naegle (also from UT).

As far as what to do after the airport…Like I always say...A nonnom remi (it's up to you guys) J.

Kind of a lot to talk about but I'll save it til Friday.

I love you all!

Elder McEwan

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gearing Up For Graduation . . .

January 12, 2015

Dear Familiy--

Things here in Guam are going great. Elder Matalolo and I are trying to work super hard right now and get to as many people as possible. Right now we are trying to reactivate a lot of less actives namely Roger (from Chuuk) and his family who are all members but the guy "in charge" of the house is not a member and he doesn't really like us. We also have a new chuukese family Siu and Sinbad that we are hoping show potential. They've been reading a little from the book of mormon but haven't come to church yet so we'll see.

Hmmm...right now I feel like I'm back in school gearing up for graduation… I've finished all my "end of year projects" (zone conference and zone meeting) and now I just show up to class every day and do my best to finish on a high note. Elder Matalolo and I are doing great! One of the goals that we set with each other is that we will do our best to get up every morning and go play basketball at the far we've doing well on that.

That's awesome that you got to meet with Sister Jaidy Warner she was one of my favorite sisters to work with here in Guam.

RIght now Guam is also very wet in the weather and very dry in baptisms...we had 0 baptisms this last weekend. Honestly it's frustrating especially when you as the leader are supposed to be leading out but I'm confident that Guam Zone will still finish this month on a high note.

Before I go anything I need to know before I come home? School stuff, work stuff, etc?

I love you all!! It seems like forever since I left and I'm excited to be starting a new phase of my life. But I'm forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for the things that He has taught me and put me through the last two years. I’ve learned so much from my Heavenly Father. One of which is that I need to have the right people in my life and not shut them out.

Ai tong ngenikemi meinisin!!

Elder Sean McEwan

Monday, January 5, 2015

MGM 2014 Baptisms, Reactivations, and Miracles . . .

January 5, 2015

Dear Family--

Life here in Guam is still going well, we just had our mission leadership council (my last) and it was so good to be able to see everyone from the different islands and to hear from President Zarbock. Right now Elder Matalolo and I are tryng to get things organized and ready for the new year while still trying to get out and teach. Yeah Dylan we are able to do indexing but with our schedule it's hard to set it up to where we can go. But I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing well and that everyone is having a good start to 2015.

To sum up the last year, I'm going to include an excerpt from an email from President Zarbock that tells us all how the MGM did for the 2014 year:

Dear Beloved Missionaries,

We have totaled up the numbers for the year, and we have some wonderful news regarding baptisms and reactivations for the year of 2014. We truly are witnessing miracles in this mission.

For baptisms, we had 783 baptisms in the mission. Equally as important as the baptisms, we were also able to witness 435 people return to church activity, through your reactivation efforts, for a total of 1218 people who have either joined the Church or returned to full fellowship with the saints.

It's so exciting to see this growth here but as President Zarbock AND President Hinckley have put it: IT IS NOT ENOUGH. I don't know where the MGM will be 1 month from now or 3 months from now or 1 year or 5...but I do know now that this work is the greatest thing that I have ever been a part of and I'm so happy that I was sent here. The last two years of my life have truly been a blessing as I've learned and experienced much.

The people are doing great we actually had a less active family come back to church yesterday, the Gildifan family. We haven't been able to meet with them for about 2 months now as they have just been super busy with holiday festivities and family business but seeing them yesterday just made me so happy. Honestly I have crossed paths with the most amazing people the last few months and two years and it makes me sad to leave but I hope to still be able to help them from the other side.

Other than that, just trying to finish strong.

I love you all!! I hope this year of 2015 is the best for everyone and I'll see you all soon!!

With love,

Elder McEwan

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Preparing for Last Zone Conference . . .

December 28, 2014

Dear Family,

It was great to be able to Skype with you on Christmas. I think I wasn’t used to having such good reception on the video or the audio J. We have zone conference tomorrow and that should be exciting. It's my last one so I want it to be nice.

I'm also trying to lose weight and get myself back into basketball shape because wherever i go when i come home i want to walk on...maybe at uvu. We are also trying to plan something out for new years eve so that everyone can be together so we'll see how that turns out.

I love you all!

Elder Sean McEwan

Monday, December 22, 2014

True Meaning of Christmas . . .

December 22, 2014

Hey everyone just wanted to drop a christmas greeting to everyone and I hope that all is going well. We are all very excited for the holidays today actually we are having our zone christmas party and I had one heck of a time trying to get the menu and program and everything set up (all of that was changed multiple times by multiple people) and we are so excited!!

At this time of year I'm reminded of just how lucky and blessed I am that I've met the people that I have not just there in America but here in micronesia as well. I've met people from around the world I feel like and I love everyone single person that I've met through my years. I'm 21 right now and I've been thinking about how lucky I am to have gone through what I've gone through. The last 3 years or so have been the hardest I've ever gone through and I've considered giving up multiple times and yet there is still something within me that says to push on. Even though this is my second (and last christmas) I've been really stressed lately with trying to plan out our dinner and the calls and all that especially now that I'm the senior companion. But today I had the realization: this time of the year is good to have celebrations and greetings and all that but the big thing to remember is the birth of our Savior and even though I'm still thousands of miles away from the ones I love this year, Christmas will still be good.

I found this story earlier and wanted to share it with everyone. And for everyone that may not be able to spend time with family this time of year, know that we are all together if we remember our Savior Jesus Christ. I Hope this all finds everyone doing well and Merry Christmas!!

Love always,
Elder Sean McEwan

Christmas in St. Petersburg
by Elder Greg Nelson Russia St. Petersburg Mission

It was Christmas Eve around the world, but just another frosty December night in St. Petersburg, Russia. This country celebrated no such holiday.

Our zone had just presented a Christmas program in the huge Kazanski Cathedral, where we sang Christmas songs and read from the book of Luke. It seemed as if our words and notes drifted up to the lofty ceiling and were swallowed by the darkness. But the sparse audience, mostly members and investigators, had partaken of the Spirit.

Our missionary work hadn’t been going well. People didn’t want to listen to two humble young men give them a message of redeeming love. Perhaps because of my discouragement, the Christmas celebration planned for later that evening didn’t hold much appeal for me.

My boots kicked up some new fallen snow and I shoved my bare hands deeper into my pockets. My gloves had been misplaced at a hotel a few days earlier. In this country, you don’t just walk into a store and buy gloves. You need to search.

Suddenly, Elder Redd sat down on a bench in the small park in front of the cathedral. I thought, Oh, now what? I just want to go home where it’s warmer.

Home was not the right thing to think about. It brought a flood of memories I really didn’t want to ponder right then. This was my first Christmas away, and I was feeling down. Where were all the decorations and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? What about stockings, Christmas trees, and nativity scenes?

We hadn’t been able to get through to the international operator, so it looked as if I couldn’t make my phone call home either.

Tears welled in my eyes. I turned around so my back was to the wind. As I faced the cathedral, everything began to grow quiet. I looked at the majestic structure in front of me, bathed in pale, green light. The stars above were pin dots on a black shade, radiating calmness and peace.

“Silent night, holy night; all is calm, all is bright. …” The phrases softly entered my mind and drifted in whispers from my lips. “Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.” Elder Redd heard me and joined in a little bit louder. There was a feeling of reverence.

As we sang the second and third verses, a warm realization came to me. The joy, happiness, and peace at Christmas come from within. The material things and outward symbols of celebration bring sweet feelings, but only for a short moment.

Instantly, the thought of sharing Christmas with the other elders became appealing. It would be a gathering of friendship and love. We missionaries all needed to strengthen each other.

Christmas is what you make of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re with family and friends or halfway around the world. The real gifts at Christmastime are the fruits of the Spirit. Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” (Gal. 5:22). Could one ask for anything more during the celebration of Christ’s birth?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Changes in Companionships . . .

December 14, 2014

Dear Family :)

Thank you for the packages that you sent us! We started the 12 days of christmas with elder afualo. Funny thing is that we had transfers last night (suprising) and...Elder afualo and I broke up. We are no longer zone leaders togther he is going down to the south of Guam (merizo) and I'll still be here with my new companion Elder Matalolo. He is also samoan speaks pohnpeian and loves football and rugby. He's been out for a little over a year now and I'm very excited to be working with him.

I remembered that this is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE stories to read around Christmas time and thought I'd share it with everyone…

“Years ago there was a little one-room schoolhouse in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough that no teacher had been able to handle them.

“A young, inexperienced teacher applied, and the old director scanned him and asked: ‘Young fellow, do you know that you are asking for an awful beating? Every teacher that we have had here for years has had to take one.’

“‘I will risk it,’ he replied.

“The first day of school came, and the teacher appeared for duty. One big fellow named Tom whispered: ‘I won’t need any help with this one. I can lick him myself.’

“The teacher said, ‘Good morning, boys, we have come to conduct school.’ They yelled and made fun at the top of their voices. ‘Now, I want a good school, but I confess that I do not know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me, and I will write them on the blackboard.’

“One fellow yelled, ‘No stealing!’ Another yelled, ‘On time.’ Finally, ten rules appeared on the blackboard.

“‘Now,’ said the teacher, ‘a law is not good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?’

“‘Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,’ came the response from the class.

“‘That is pretty severe, boys. Are you sure that you are ready to stand by it?’ Another yelled, ‘I second the motion,’ and the teacher said, ‘All right, we will live by them! Class, come to order!’

“In a day or so, ‘Big Tom’ found that his lunch had been stolen. The thief was located—a little hungry fellow, about ten years old. ‘We have found the thief and he must be punished according to your rule—ten stripes across the back. Jim, come up here!’ the teacher said.

“The little fellow, trembling, came up slowly with a big coat fastened up to his neck and pleaded, ‘Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please, don’t take my coat off!’

“‘Take your coat off,’ the teacher said. ‘You helped make the rules!’

“‘Oh, teacher, don’t make me!’ He began to unbutton, and what did the teacher see? The boy had no shirt on, and revealed a bony little crippled body.

“‘How can I whip this child?’ he thought. ‘But I must, I must do something if I am to keep this school.’ Everything was quiet as death.

“‘How come you aren’t wearing a shirt, Jim?’

“He replied, ‘My father died and my mother is very poor. I have only one shirt and she is washing it today, and I wore my brother’s big coat to keep me warm.’

“The teacher, with rod in hand, hesitated. Just then ‘Big Tom’ jumped to his feet and said, ‘Teacher, if you don’t object, I will take Jim’s licking for him.’

“‘Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?’

“Off came Tom’s coat, and after five strokes the rod broke! The teacher bowed his head in his hands and thought, ‘How can I finish this awful task?’ Then he heard the class sobbing, and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. ‘Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!’”

To lift a phrase from this simple story, Jesus, my Redeemer, has taken “my licking for me” and yours for you. Declared the prophet Isaiah: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: …
“… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4–5).

This is the wondrous and true story of Christmas. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is preface. The three-year ministry of the Master is prologue. The magnificent substance of the story is His sacrifice, the totally selfless act of dying in pain on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all of us.

I love you!! Thanks for all you do!!
Elder Sean McEwan

p.s. Haven't shipped stuff yet but I'll try to do that today or this week we are just really busy right now.. Not sure yet when I'm going to be calling but I'll let you know :)