Sunday, July 31, 2016

Week 4: July 25, 2016 Blessings, Burgers and Bikes

Aloha my Ohana,

I can't believe it's been another week already! The time is going by crazy fast. I believe it was Gordon B Hinckley who said, "lose yourself in the work" (I think. I could be wrong) and I've been doing just that. It has been incredibly hard work and I've loved every single moment of it. Our bishop and ward are so incredibly amazing. Our bishop has given us a list of people he'd like us to contact, whether they be less actives, recent converts, or new move-ins. We put most of our time and effort into meeting with and talking to these people on the list. Often times, they have many children in their home who are not baptized and not active in the church. As we have met with them, many of them have been very open to the gospel and our lessons and have set up a return appointment for next week. We are super excited for that. The ward is super supportive and loving. They welcomed me very graciously my first week and I will be speakingnext week Sunday. They offer us their homes for when we are in the area and always invite us for water and snacks. As my mission president said on my first day, "The members in our mission measure their success by the waist size of the missionaries." Fortunately, we are a full bike mission with lots of hills and 100+ degree weather. This is one of those rare mission areas where missionaries lose weight instead of gain it. My companion has lost 20 pounds since coming out 8 months ago.

Everyday is leg day. On top of the list that our bishop has provided, we've gone through the area book and organized it a bit. We go around and talk to former investigators to find out why they stopped taking lessons and if they're still interested. Many of them are very open and interested to hear more and we have gotten a lot of return appointments. There is a lot of potential here and I am very excited by it all.

That covers the "blessings" and "bikes" part. Now you may be wondering, "What about the burgers part"? Well, here goes. While we were in the MTC one day, an Elder in our district was going through on and looking at blogs and websites of missionaries serving in the Oakland/San Francisco Mission. One of the pictures he came across was of a huuuuuuge burger being eaten by the Elders. He excitedly pointed this out to the rest of us going to Oakland and said, "I can't wait to go there!" Fast forward now to this past week. One of the families in the ward took us out to dinner to a burger place called "Hazell's". My companion was telling me that this family always takes the new missionary to this place to eat the "Wille Burger". He wouldn't give me many details beyond that but he said all this with a mischievous grin. We order and when it comes, it all suddenly clicks and I remember the picture from the MTC. This is it. This is the burger. This burger was roughly the size of a pizza. It was bigger than my face. I did my best to "Man v Food" that guy. I just barely finished it. It was great.

Oh yeah! So I got my hydroflask and it turns out that 2 other Elders have them too. As soon as I pulled it out, the other missionaries kind of sighed and rolled their eyes while the ones that had hydroflasks were super excited. The reason they all sighed and rolled their eyes is the ones that have hydroflasks are always showing them off and it's great. Whenever we see each other in District or Zone meetings, we'll pick up our hydroflask and give it a shake and look all surprised. Then we'll turn to the other person and be like, "Do you hear that? Is Nooo it can't be! I didn't put ice in here since...yesterday!" Then they'll take a sip and be like, "Whoa. No. Way. It's freezing cold! But...I left it in the car all morning! It should be boiling hot by now!" and we will go on and on with that every time we see one another.
(Side note: Dad, one of the members gave us lemons and other produce they grow. I squeezed it into the hydro flask and put the slices in there. Some ice and water and it is delicious. You can keep the slices in there a few days too. Super refreshing!)

One of the members is Brother Ho'opai and he's from Kona. Just wondering if you might happen to know his family or not. He's Hawaiian-Fijian and his wife is Tongan. They took us to L&L (YUP there's an L&L's here!) for dinner one day and we had chicken katsu and musubis. Great to have a taste of home. It's even better than the L&L in Utah.

Anyways, the mission has been absolutely incredible thus far and it's only been about a month and a week. (2 weeks in the field). I can't believe how quickly the time is flying. I've grown so much spiritually just in these past few weeks. I wanted to thank you and tell you all that I love you so much for all of the support and love that you've given me. I thank you for your testimonies and example that you've set and the way that I was raised. I love you all so much! I can't wait to hear from you all again soon!

"Daydreams may be pleasant but accomplishments are more satisfying" -Panda Express Fortune I found in my room

-Elder Kaitoku

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week 3: July 18, 2016

Aloha my Ohana,

First week out in the field! It's been quite a time. We have had a lot of adventures. We woke up early Wednesday morning and took a bus to the frontrunner. From there, we took the trax in Salt Lake to the airport and it was PACKED. There were a lot of other Polynesians going to the San Fran/Oakland Mission. From there, we took a flight out to California. Upon landing, we were greeted at the baggage claim by the mission president. President Frandsen is a very tall man. 

He took all the new missionaries (about 20 of us) to a Chinese buffet called the New Dragon Buffet. There was a lot of seafood and it was DELICIOUS. From there, we went to the Oakland Temple and it is BEAUTIFUL. I could not help but feel the spirit so powerfully as we toured the grounds. The visitor center has a spectacular view of the bay area and it is just gorgeous.

Later on in the day, we met our new companions. We had the trainers come up one at a time and tell everyone why their area was the best area. After they finished, we'd have a quick drumroll and then President Frandsen would announce their companion. My companion is.........Elder Lui. He's a Tongan/Samoan Elder from West Valley City, Utah. He grew up with my friend Joseph Tiatia who I went to SOAR with. Joseph is Moni Tiatia's brother, who was my section leader over at Living Legends this past year. Awesome Elder. He's been showing me the ropes while here. I've been assigned to the Antioch area which is the farthest zone from the bay. It gets incredibly hot here (over the 100's most days) and we are a full bike mission. Not to worry about the bike, family. They had extras at the mission home. This area is very full of hills and I've been #dying. 

It's been an amazing experience. Our first tracting went as expected. Many doors were slammed but I did want to share a miracle that happened. Since before Elder Lui got assigned here, his companion kept mentioning the "Nieve" family. However, they did not have an address or phone number. They would always have that name on their list but no way to contact them. As we were tracting, one woman (after profusely denying us) pointed us at a house across the street. The father was asleep and the mom wasn't home so we talked to the kids for a little bit. They were way cool! One of them does break dancing and gave us a short demo. As we were getting ready to leave, we asked for their name. Lo and behold, we had found the Nieves. It was awesome to see how the Lord leads and guides his missionaries. He knows what we need to do and where we need to be. I'm glad we were open to His council and guidance. I look forward to the many more blessings and miracles He has in store for us.

Before I go, I must relate a quick story. With the ups on the hills come the downs. We were coasting down a pretty steep one a few days ago and we were enjoying the wind and the shade (the sun was beginning to set). Elder Lui began weaving back and forth along the deserted road. Suddenly, he got too close on one pass to the sidewalk and the side of his wheel hit the curb. He jumped off his bike, determined to stay on his feet. He began running/falling forward before completely biffing it. In a cloud of dust and dirt, he finally slid into home base. He got up quickly and started sayin, "go go go go go we gotta get outta here we can't make a scene gooooo". I could barely move because I was laughing so hard. Good times.

Anyways, thanks so much for your prayers and support family! I DID get the packages you sent and it was delicious. I think Elder Dewitt was crying, it was so beautiful. Elder Lui has also expressed his love for strawberry belts. My mailing address is and will always be:

Elder Kaitoku
4945 Lincoln Way
Oakland, CA 94602
United States 

They send it to the mission home and then the mission home sends it out. Can't wait to hear from all of you! Love you!

Elder Kaitoku

P.S. I also saw Elder KIMBALL! It's been a really long time since I've seen that guy but we both did the "walk by at the MTC, stop, pause, stare, smile real big, and bear hug" I forget where he's going. I also saw Elder Latu, And Elder Talaupapa. Lots of familiar faces. But I JUST missed Elder Ho and Fano.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Week 2: July 6, 2016

Aloha family!

Week two is here and I am on such a spiritual high. My experiences here at the MTC have been so absolutely incredible. We are in our final full week here at the MTC and it has truly gone by quickly. We received our flight plans and travel itineraries and we will be flying out to Oakland/San Francisco on the 13th, leaving the MTC at about 5am. I can't wait to serve and teach the people of California. 

One of our new teachers here at the MTC served his mission in the Oakland/San Francisco area. We all but interrogated him about the mission. We asked him how often a week he heard gunshots. He laughed and said, "Elders, you mean how often did I hear gunshots every DAY". He also said that when he first got there, he and his companion walked past a car that was completely on fire. No one seemed to mind or notice except for this new Elder. He tried to stop and take a picture of it but his senior companion told him it was probably best to keep moving. Quickly. He also said that one time, he was driving with his companion when they suddenly heard a loud bang and their back windshield shattered. He said he's still unsure if someone threw something or if someone took a shot at them but they were still undaunted in the work. On the plus side, he did say the food was good and the members fed them often.

We got to watch the "Stadium of Fire" this past Saturday. It was a pretty nice fireworks show given by the BYU stadium. There is such pride for this country up here like I've never seen in Hawaii. We had cheeseburgers and fries for lunch on the 4th because, how else are you going to celebrate freedom? My companion's vocabulary consisted mainly of the word "Murrica" all that day. 

I must now relate the story of the "Button-Muncher". In the MTC cafeteria, one of the tables we sat at was near the back wall and the corner of the table was next to a corner/angle in the wall. This corner had a little metal sheet covering the actual corner with a little slot between the sheet and the wall it was attached to. This little space was just big enough to fit a coin. Now, many Elders and Sisters needed to pass behind this little spot to get to more tables, drinks, and another food station. To do so, they would nicely scoot behind a little spot between the wall and the chairs/table. We were eating at this little corner when suddenly, an Elder scooted past (his rear, like many of those that came before him, brushing against the wall) and then stopped. He turned and felt his posterior with a puzzled look. He asked us if we could look under the table because his button had popped off as he scooted past and the butt-buttons on the Elder's slacks had gotten caught in that little slot created by the metal sheet and wall. We found his button, still stuck in that slot. Slightly mortified, he mumbled that he had fallen victim to this little slot a few days prior with a different pair of slacks. At this point, our curiosity peaked. My companion decided to stick a fork into this little slot and swiped up. 3 more buttons popped out. We were rolling at the thought that this was such a common occurrence. The Elder was able to laugh along with us, quickly realizing that he was definitely not the only one. We are still unsure how many more buttons there are in that little slot but that wall/slot has now been appropriately named the "Button-Muncher". 

As a district, we've all grown very close and have all come to love one another. It's amazing to see how people from such different backgrounds and upbringings and places are able to bond over the Lord's work. We all hope to keep in touch with one another and they are apparently making plans to fly out to Hawaii for my homecoming but mostly just to be in Hawaii. However, we all know how extremely unlikely that is but it's still a nice thought. Some of them were wondering what would happen if they simply told their mission presidents at the end of their mission that their family had moved to Hawaii so they could get a flight out there. We all laugh and joke about it but I would love to keep in touch with all of them. The spirit they bring and the testimony they have has greatly impacted me as a missionary and as a son of God. 

Kids, hearken to the words of Colossians 3:20
"Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord"
Mom and Dad truly love you all and want the best for you. I've been able to realize that over these past few years and I am truly grateful for all that they've done and all that they continue to do for me. Just like our Heavenly Father loves us, has a plan for us, and knows what's best for us, Mom and Dad love us, have a plan for us, and know what's best for us. Hearken to their words and counsel. 

D&C 58:4 reads, "For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore, the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand." Even though we know all of these plain and precious truths of the gospel, there will still be hardships. The Lord is well aware of all that we are going through and He is more than willing to help us through them. Pray to him with faith knowing that He can and will help us. D&C 121:7-9 states, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands." I've come to truly know and love these verses. I promise all of you that God truly loves us. He hears and answers our prayers. He knows our struggles and our pains. He can and will help us through all afflictions. We also have friends there to help comfort us and support us. Do not be too proud so as to not turn to them in your times of need, that's what they're there for. 

I love each and every one of you and I miss you all deeply. I look forward to your emails and letters and pictures and everything. 

My district has told me something about "Dear Elder" which is like, an online thing where you can send an email and they print it out here and give it to us the day it is sent so that we don't have to wait until P Day to read it (But we still wait until then to reply). Also, Elder Dewitt would still love some strawberry belts xD

Malama Pono,
Elder Kaitoku 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 1: June 29, 2016

Aloha Family and Friends,

My first week here at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) has gone amazingly. My district has become such a close and loving family within the first week that we've been here. (Of course, we see each other almost 24/7 so that does tend to happen). 

Where to start? Well, how about at the beginning? As soon as my family dropped me off and we said our final a hui hou's, I was marched right into a gym where they gave me a name tag and papers with some information on where I would be staying and what classroom I would be meeting in. I truly felt like a real missionary as soon as they put that name tag on me. "Elder Kaitoku The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". I dropped off my things in the residence hall and was marched over to class. It was there that I first met my companion and district. My companion, Elder Bills, is from Seattle and we enjoy one another's company. We've gotten along very well. The rest of the district is: Elder Dewitt, Elder Oliphant, Elder Whitney, Elder Norton, Elder Haviland, Elder Christenson, Sister Monson, (No, as she's explained several hundred times, she is NOT related to the prophet) Sister Belliston, Sister Pluim, and Sister Larson. Sister Belliston is actually from Alaska and she said that about 8 years ago, Living Legends came and performed there. She said that she was very young at the time but she remembers absolutely loving the two sisters that stayed with them in their homes and the spirit that they brought to the family and the blessing that they've felt because of their visit. She doesn't quite remember the show, however, but it's important to note that she remembers how they made her feel. We've all gotten to know one another so much throughout our time here so far and it's only been a week. I can feel each of their love and devotion to not only the Savior and His gospel, but to one another and the people in the areas they will be serving in. Each of their testimonies has had such a lasting effect on my own and I know for a surety that they will be great missionaries in their respective missions. 

The first week we got here, there was a conference going on with about 172 new mission presidents learning more about their calls and they were being taught by the general authorities. It truly was an amazing experience to think that these men called of God were only a few hundred feet from where I sat learning of the gospel. Unfortunately, we were asked to not approach them if we saw them. (I really wanted to get their autographs). Our first meal was "kalua pig" and "shoyu chicken" and I'm sure you can understand why I've got that in quotation marks. I've run into so many people here that are from Hawaii or people that I've met and known before, each of them have the light of Christ in them as I have never before seen and I have felt it here as I have never before felt before. The MTC truly is an amazing experience and has strengthened my testimony in the gospel. I've been dragging my companion to the weight room each exercise block stating, "I just got all these pants fitted and I am NOT about to outgrow them in any way." We also got to play some basketball yesterday and I plan on going today. I was able to humbly show my talents that the Lord has blessed me with making sure to call out "Bobby" (my dad's name) with each shot that I made. 

I introduced my residence hall room to li hing mui and other Hawaii candies and treats. Elder Dewitt has taken a particular liking to li hing mui strawberry belts and has kindly asked that my family send more before we leave. I know that I am doing the Lord's work and He is proud of me and continues to bless me and keep me safe. We've been blessed to have a devotional this Sunday and Tuesday. We have learned that there is little growth in a comfort zone and there is little comfort in a growth zone. I can testify that there has been very little comfort getting to know everyone and more about the gospel and really becoming the best missionary that I can become. However, I can also testify that there has been such growth in my life as there has never before been. I don't think I've ever prayed before this much in my life. 

In closing, I wanted to leave with you all a quote from one of the devotionals which reads, "Preach the gospel at all times, with words if necessary" Be a good example of the church in all aspects of your lives. We never know who is watching, but we know that they are always watching. I can't quite upload pictures on this computer and so I will have to do that from another computer later on today. I send you all my love and my solemn testimony that this church is true and Christ lived. I testify the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I testify that God lives and Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ in the sacred grove all those years ago. I know that Thomas S. Monson receives divine revelation and leads this church in truthfulness and righteousness today. I know all these things are true and I say this in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

"...Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
-Joshua 1:9

If you would like to send packages or letters, please make sure they'll be here by the 9th (preferably) or at least before the 12th. The address for the MTC is:

"Elder Teancum Kaitoku
Provo MTC Mission
Unit #20B Departure Date: 12 July
Mission Code: Oakland CA
2005 North 900 East
Provo UT 84604-1793"

Mahalo Nui Loa, and much Aloha,
Elder Kaitoku

Please note that this address will no longer be the correct one starting July 13th.