This week has been pretty intense. Learning Samoan is not any easier, but I believe I'm slowing improving. We’ve learned transitive and intransitive cases. This entire week has been all preparation for something called TRCs. What that stands for, I'm still not entirely sure, but I can tell you that it means that basically we missionaries teach returned missionaries in our new language that we've been learning. We have the TRC’s tonight and have been preparing quite a bit for this challenge. UPDATE: TRC’s went pretty well, I guess. The coolest part, though, was that I met a cousin! My Dad’s cousin, Tami Thurber, in Arizona has a son, Thomas, who just returned from my mission the week I received my call. He is going to school up here and volunteered at the MTC and was part of TRC’s for my district. He recognized me but it may have taken me a minute to understand and realize it considering he was ONLY speaking in Samoan and I don’t know the words for grandma, sister, or cousin yet. We got a photo so our moms & grandmas will be happy. He thinks my Samoan name of Elder Piniki (Elder Pink) is pretty fitting and funny.
It’s pretty crazy to think that I had 3 cousins here all at once… Elder Mitchell going to Poland, Elder Lee going to Hungary, and then Thomas Thurber a very recent RM of Samoa. And 2 friends. Crazy.
Our district also just got a fourth teacher. Uso Fano is intense and adds yet another take on the Samoan language. He and another teacher, Sister Long, have been having us teach them in roleplay things where they pretend to be other people. Either they are super good or I just don't understand Samoan very well, because they are way too good at this.
On Tuesday I sang with the choir again, and it was easily the best part of the week. We sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer, and the choir director turned a seemingly simple song into something completely new. Brother Agget also teaches a bit with stories too, and sometimes I think I need to take notes on his words too.
Elder Martino of the seventy and his wife Sister Martino spoke at the Tuesday night devotional. The main point I got out of it is that we can't measure ourselves against anyone but the person in the mirror. Everyone faces different challenges and some things are just harder naturally to some people over others. We can't measure success as a missionary by numbers either because 1) That's a little messed up because those numbers are people and 2) sometimes the effects of what we say and do won't be seen for years.
Elder Martino also gave a parable called the Parable of the Diver. I like the title for the creativity and mystery. Essentially there is a diver, a diver who does a perfect dive at a competition. Unfortunately, somehow he loses the competition with a perfect 10. Of course he is angry and asks the judges what is what. They then explain that while he did his dive perfectly, it had a degree of difficulty of one- while the winner had a degree of difficulty of 6 and scored a solid 5. The degree of difficulty multiplies the score, so the first diver was beaten by twenty points. Our lives all have different degrees of difficulty at different times in our lives and we need to be understanding of others.
Tonight (Friday night) we also got to watch President Nelson’s birthday party. It was cool but some missionaries made it weird. I guess that’s how it goes, though. Thanks for all the emails, packages, prayers, and support. It means a lot. My district and I loved cinnamon rolls from Aunt Steph, and my parents sent my companion his greatest love… cheese in a can. I think it’s pretty weird, but he loves it very much and considers it “American” food.
Sorry that this week's email is pretty short, but life goes on and doesn't seem to stop. I'd just like to share a scripture before I go though. An excerpt from Mataio (Matthew) 17:20- For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.