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 :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lessons and Blessings . . .

December 8, 2014

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for the update on what everyone is doing back home. It's good that life is treating you well. Right now we are clossing on the year and we just had our Stake conference here in Guam yesterday (had about 400-500 attendance) and everything is going super well.

Dinner with Elder and Sister Martin, Elder Kata,
Elder McEwan, and Elder Afualo
We have a new investigator family (they're chuukese my most favorite people in the world) and they've been taught by missionaries before but never really made any progress towards baptism. So yesterday I went and met with them and taught them the restoration and suprisingly they remembered a lot of it. That was probably one of the best lessons that I have ever been a part of, and the spirit was so strong that wehen they were asked to commit to baptism they all said yes (about 5 of them). It was such a good lesson and I absolutely love this family.

Last week we were called by a member to help them move out their neighbors who were being evicted from their homes on Saturday. So we all went over and started packing and moving and all that. Then after about 1-1 and 1/2 hours a couple came up and said that they didn't have to move out and that they could stay. Needless to say they were relieved and so were we. But the real miracle happend yesterday. THe member lady who called us pulled me aside before the stake conference and told me that one of the guys was coming to church and if I wouldn't mind sitting by them to assist in translating (he is chuukese). So when the guy got here I talked with him and he said he just felt so much love out of us helping him and his family on saturday that he wanted to come to church and be a part of it. I was blown away and grateful for the things that this gospel has taught me through the last two years. I know that there are things I've learned here that I couldn't learn anywhere else. I'm so grateful and blessed to be a part of this work.

I hope this finds you all well Happy Holidays from all of us here in the Micronesia Guam Mission!!

Elder Sean McEwan

December 2014 Leadership Conference . . .

We have Leadership Conference once a month to be taught by President and Sister Zarbock as well as others in the mission. It's always great to be together with all of us as well as to learn MANY things that will not only help us to be better missionaries and servants of the Lord on our missions but also throughout our entire lives.

Always learning . . .
and singing . . .
and singing some more!
Learning from and teaching each other

My MTC Companion, Elder Vause, preparing to return home from the MGM

Sister Zarbock makes a wonderful meal -- as usual :)
Guam Leadership of Zone Leaders -- Elders and Sisters

Monday, December 1, 2014

5th Sunday Service . . .

For the 5th Sunday of each month, the missionaries have the opportunity of setting up the chairs for church. Always serving and helping those they love.

Pictures from our Thanksgiving Dinner . . .

Love to see these happy Elders! What a wonderful site they are :)
We are always grateful to Elder and Sister Martin (senior couple on Guam) and President Zarbock for sharing pictures of the happenings on Guam as well as the MGM as a whole.

Lots of food . . .

and desserts!

Elder Afualo and Elder McEwan relaxing after Thanksgiving Dinner
Everyone cleaning the church after Thanksgiving. Who needs a janitors when you've got MGM Elders :)

Thanksgiving Miracle through Obedience . . .

November 30, 2014

Dear Family,

Right now things are going really well for me here in Micronesia and I am loving every second of it. We just concluded November in which we had about 45 or 46 baptisms which brings us up to like 700 something for the year and we are all so excited because at the beginning of this year we set the goal of 1000 baptisms for the misiion this year and we are looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring.

We had a great Thanksgiving with lots and LOTS of food! It was a great day :).

ONe HUGE miracle that we saw hapened last week. A little backstory though. With last Thursday being Thanksgiving of course the stake here in Guam wanted to do a turkey bowl..and they wanted the missionaries to come play with them. So me and my companion elder afualo talked about it and we talked with our president and with the district leaders and we decided that it would be a good thing. Then some confusion and contention rose and we decided that we wouldnot play on thursday and simlply go out teaching. Well on that particular thursday we were running around trying to help get everything ready for the missionary dinner that night and elder afualo had the impression to go see a part member family that we hadn't seen in a while. The two kids Ethan and Demitrah are baptized and we have been praying and trying to hlep the rest of the family to prepare for baptism but because of work and not having a car they have not been to church in a while. Needless to say I was a little doubtful but thought okay it's thanksgiving. So we stopped by and were talking with them when the dad says we got a car.. We both stopped for a second an d were like What? Yeah come he said. So we followed him behind their apartmen and there was a brand tnew car parked outside. He told us thw whole story of how they had to pay no money down no proof of employment no nothing and the lady basically gave them the car. We were both speechless and after talking with him we got in our car and drove to the church. As we were driving elder afualo looked at me and said this is a miracle..and it happend because we were obedient today.

How true that statement was and is for all of us. The Lord wishes to bless each and everyone of us with miracles but he asks for us to be obedient to Him first. I don't know what would've happend had we all gone to that football game but I do know that that specific miracle would not have happend and we would've missed it.

Just wanted to share that with you this week. I hope all is going well in your life and I hope to hear from you soon.
Elder McEwan and Elder Afualo preparing to teach for a moment

Lots of love and prayers,
Elder Sean McEwan