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Elder Spencer Potrie
Mission Office
Sandalwood Apt Hibiscus #14
PO Box 1412
Port Villa
Vanuatu


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Last Transfer Before Coming Home

Sunday March 11,2013

So wait, that means like next year you’re already planning a holiday? WOW haha! And what is this coaching program that Charissa is in? I hope she’s learning a ton:) She is a success at everything she does and well I know. I love to work amidst the chaos and find order in the mayhem, she is the precision instrument others want to be ;) Elder Frei is also a systematic profiler, trying really hard to gain a grasp on all that’s going on while I can keep it all together in my head, and have plans A-Z already to go at a moment’s notice. He would prefer if we wrote it out and had it before our eyes and in our hands…I try to remind myself people are different and have to each learn in their own way, can’t have everyone the same it makes for a boring life, but connecting on the differences is where we get the party started and things start to move.

I have tried hard to transfer every knowledge and understanding of the goings on in the mission to Elder Frei and have really felt him stepping up to the plate, and while everyone knows me in Mele, and I’ve let them know I’m leaving, they all expect me to return and have a last meal with them in May upon my return from the Solomons…

It’s hard to know that I have the last area coming tomorrow, and I already have the return ticket paid for to come back and I know the release date. It really gets me…like why do they want to let me know all that stuff?  It’s really unnerving.  Like knowing the time to come and the time to go and it’s not optional…Wish it was;) but we’ll just have to see what the world will be like upon  my return because I have become accustom to a whole different way of life and I’m not sure what it will be like to come back. I do welcome the new adventure of going to the Solomon Islands and serving my remaining months over there.  It will be hard to start all over, but knowing the mission president has that kind of faith in me and the lord puts that kind of trust in me will encourage me to do my best.

This week was a super good last week in Vanuatu and we did a bunch of just teaching by the spirit, as in we had no idea that guy would walk up to us and start saying those kind of things, we had another run in with a SDA. We’ve been teaching his wife and have really been accepted but her boyfriend is a brain washed SDA that I had gone head to head with scriptures previously, and came out with nothing. He refused to understand what the scriptures were saying if they didn’t support his point of view, and boy oh boy, did he ever misread his scriptures. Never before have I heard that Christ was alive in the tomb waiting, just to come out on Sunday because he was waiting for the Sabbath to be over….and his scriptures backing it were….different to say the least. At this point Elder Frei had started to bear testimony and give a prophetic sermon on the heavenly being we call Father; basically on the purpose of God and our understanding of Him which was our root of division, or difference in belief. However with the bad, came the good and we had a dinner appointment which was interrupted by the father of a recent convert and I would describe his introduction to us as a searching out or a confession of a troubled soul…Basically a week is a marvelous thing in the mission field, and you really never know what to expect. I do believe the next two months will be a lot like that, a whole lot of the unexpected and unreal until the time is finished and the fat lady sings…:) I love to hear from you all continually and my prayers are with you.

I sat down at the last Monday meeting, and received thanks from around the board from the mission couples and the mission president, describing the “stepping stones and foundation” that I had been …how I had been willing to be stepped on…and lift where I stood.  The last battle or last area will be the most epic adventure thus undertaken, but it was really hard to say goodbye to all of those in Mele…and packing up to go is the roughest, but I know my purpose and I have a vision. I must go forth, I must reach the end of the race. I have never not finished, never gotten out of the pool early as far as I can remember, and the mission isn’t any different. I am who I am and will remain the same:)

ELDER POTRIE

 

What Manner of Men….

Sunday February 24, 2013

So dad, I return on the 4th of June apparently, and I’m unsure of the exact destination I will be coming down in the States. However, when the day comes closer, the details get more clear, and the mission office will correlate with you guys my return and so forth…I really don’t know what to expect or anything. Like it’ll be the weirdest…Never done anything like this before, and  I’ve never been gone for such a long time like this…

This week has been the week that seemed to be the most “fasfas”=busy. Every day there was something that we had to do for the missionaries, or there was a call on the cell phone that someone needed my help or something, and then fixed that one, and there was always one more to go. Kind of like the “whack a mole” game.  It was great, so far I have the high score:)

The big inspirational story this week, is that Elder ________, the Elder who watched DVD’s and scared his companion, because the zone leader is in his last month, and really became a changed man…Man he’ll never know the circumstances we were facing with him, that it was a shape up or ship out…the Lord works in strange ways, but this man just cleaned the slate…I had  previously  taught with him and he was like the shell of a missionary, now he’s the tool the Lord  asked for…if only we could all aspire to such heights in so short a time…Always have hope for the future. For eight months I’ve tried and sweated to get some movement in the Mele branch, but there’s no sign yet of them calling any branch president and still no sign of a revolution, just the missionaries making the home teaching and the progress….101 things to do and so little time to do it all. I feel as if sometimes we put the branch on the back burner and just take care of the immediate fires that need putting out…

Also this week I have begun to read “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, I’ve heard different things about the book but decided that I’d give it a try, and so far so good, only two chapters in, but things are getting deep and it’s good to read a book again, in a sense a story book:) haha I am also attempting to finish the Old Testament which is great. It really helped when we had a run in with a strong SDA this week and how much he knew nothing about the Sabbath day…man  I truly  tried every way to explain to this man about the meaning of Sabbath day, but he kept going to the same scriptures I have heard a hundred times that are not even understood by him, or I feel the SDA church….so importantly I tried to steer him away from his memorized scriptures and rather ask questions and tell truths about prophets and priesthood, however as the lesson progressed he was really stubborn and unwilling to accept my point of view until the end, when I started telling him how I knew what I knew through the Book of Mormon, my testimony of a living prophet, and it didn’t matter how much he talked about the bible, until he had read and proved the Book of Mormon to be false, I could not accept his point of view…It truly was an enlightening experience. He was trying to understand correct principles so much so that he was clinging to the only truth he knew and I just couldn’t believe that a whole congregation follows this teaching so robotically…if he truly reads the Book of Mormon he will know for himself, he surely wouldn’t let me even touch the point….haha!  What manner of men ought we to be? Even as our Savior and Father in Heaven. Couldn’t we all strive for more understanding….

ELDER POTRIE

2nd to last transfer

Sunday February 17, 2013

So it is true. Being anxiously engaged in a good cause is a whole lot of work, and this week I get to run the whole mission while my companion and one of the zone leaders take off to go to Solomon.  I guess I’m really good at handling the home fort in so much so they gave me one office and two areas to look after for a week, as well as a mission and a zone….We’ll just see how I do. I’d just like to echo the president in that “I’d rather die than leave the mission.”

The story of the long lost traveler has reached our shore. No, not Johnny Lingo, rather Elder Harmon and Elder Solovi took a little detour in returning home had to stop over in Denver because Salt Lake got hit by a storm. They drove all the way back to Utah and Elder Harmon wrote about going home….he said upon entry into his home he immediately wanted to return to Vanuatu and serve from the very beginning….He’s shocked and adjusting haha We’ll see how it is for the rest of us upon  our return; but man alive, I don’t know what I’ll do…..It’ll be weird, I know, but hey life is a bit weird.

It looks like I will be transferred to another hot spot in the mission in March so these preceding emails will be some of the last emails I will be able to send and the notations will now have to be passed through either bottle in the ocean or the back of turtles or even turtle doves:) Air mail… that takes about a month or so…better get writing haha. I have responded to every letter I have ever received and will continue until the end of the mission and even after. We went to zone conference in Santo this week and  had never been brought to tears upon returning to an old area, but this one was one that really did bring me close to tears. My old area of Sharpi and the Luganville branch was in bad shape, in need of much spiritual reviving, but who is going to help? The missionaries have felt they are out of the focus of the mission president when he established the new vision of “center of strengths” but it was  to create that center of strength in each individual are,  put boundaries up, build fortifications like unto Moroni, build the branch up in such a way nothing can get into destroy it…If you’re always on the watch tower looking for danger or potential setbacks in your area or branch, or those things that investigators could face without the defenses. It’s easy to fall without them, you can save that much more with them, it takes a lot more to reactivate than to prepare….

ELDER POTRIE

Release date scheduled

Sunday February 10, 2013

 So in regards to any clothing items I need, well I gave away all my real good pants and my shirts, but I have enough white shirts to get me through to the end, and I have two pairs of  pants and three sulu’s, which should be able to get me to the end; if not, I’ll just run by the second hand store and pick me up some real keepers. I haven’t had any green pants yet:) or a brown suit. Maybe I’ll be Napolean Dynamite arriving home off the airplane hahaha. My release date is scheduled for the 4th of June……sorry to hear this one. The next coming transfer will be on the 12th of March, it may be the last of AP for Potrie or it may mean the AP till the end, I’m not sure….the best philosophy is to bloom where you’re planted and lift where you stand:)  It can’t get too much better than that.

 We had some good times this week, a very successful zone training meeting which gave me hope for the rising generation. Sometimes you really have to wonder about them haha but then the moments come that you know that even when you’re gone, the mission will carry on. It feels like the song of this week was “Carry on my way ward son….there’ll be peace when you are gone”. It feels like we are getting quite the handle on all the situations, but even still, I feel like the best moments throughout my week are not the master genius plans I pull off in the office, or the administration carried out throughout the week ,it’s the chances I get to sit down with investigators and read the Book of Mormon,  or the quiet moments of sitting down and studying the scriptures. Who knew that these things, once dreaded moments of having to stay put and stay still could be the most important at the end….not even the end yet, but it’s crazy how I have been able to create this huge network throughout the village of Mele in that I can find out where investigators are, make appointments and have new referrals, all while I’m sitting eating breakfast. A text, a phone call and boom….if you can create the trust with the general public that the missionaries are the guys to talk to, there’s never an end to the good mornings, nice lunches, good afternoons and good nights that people just feel they have to let us know.

 Elder Frei is also a great guy, his sincere desire to help the people and the humility in the way in which he goes about doing it is grand. He may not be the most creative, but by golly he will try hard:) I’ll most definitely have to meet this girl of his, Kimberly haha. But any way, we had another great experience with Mary and Mikael.  Mikael had a great experience of missing church to go off and be drunk with his friends, and then Mary had the great experience of being able to meet with us and really share her feelings about what’s going on with her and their marriage date and all the stuff that’s going on in her head. It was the craziest story of how they ended up together, but that’s Vanuatu; you ask to be friends and suddenly five years down the road you have kids and you’re living together but not even married yet….they put June 1st for the marriage date with the hope of being able to be married and baptized before the 4th of June….Let’s hope Mikael doesn’t procrastinate the day of repentance, or he may end up losing the love of his life to his boozey habits….

 Mom and dad thanks for being great role models, not to worry, one day I’ll be a great rescue swimmer :) haha (bet you thought I was going to say a great dad…but not too sure, but that it is in the far distant future).

 ELDER POTRIE

The Sun Came Out

Sunday February 3, 2013

Well, this week was one of my harder weeks with work as far as administration and handling of missionaries goes, and the song “Light the world on fire” came on the radio at that moment where I was feeling like it was a little overwhelming, and lo and behold it made me smile and the world was right and the sun came a little brighter:) Not to worry, even if all hell breaks loose the smile slides into place, and works its magic every time. We had runaways, we had the first ever Elder released while here on the mission, kind of a devastating blow that I may have taken a bit personal as I have been given stewardship of all of these elders and to lose one of my own it’s….like losing one on your team…

 We had a real good successful week teaching and just on Sunday, the best experience, we had a lot of members not here, and maybe next week we’ll be free so I thought about one of our less actives, we went and saw mama Soromon who is partly deaf and tongue tied:) Her daughter was involved in the nightclub reactivation…and she was our translator until the small child she was holding started crying, and then somehow the father, a non-member came in to listen to us and we talked of this and that, and presented them with a letter from their daughter  who is currently serving a mission and at this point I felt compelled to invite him to prepare himself to take his family to the temple ….he was close to tears and simply asked when will you come? I replied Wednesday….:) He has agreed to take the discussions and prepare himself to be baptized and go to the temple upon Sister Soromon’s arrival home…what miracles happen in the mission…

 ELDER POTRIE

Preparing for Post Mission Life

Monday January 28, 2013

Alright sorry mom, I didn’t have a super amount of time today to do these essays, but I whipped them out in a flurry of typing. If you could review them and post them, each is exactly 300 hundred words. It’s so weird to think I’ll be coming home and going back to school…I’d just rather be a missionary for the next one hundred years :) Can’t be anything wrong with that huh? I did receive a couple of letters this week and am trying to get them replied to, and if there’s anything else I need to do before the first of February, you can answer tomorrow, and I’ll be able to check and do it because it’s for school, and president understands.

 I know life must go on after the mission, but  I really don’t know what life is right now other than a jungle, some computers, a maze of flights and transfers, and a battle for obedience. There will be another six weeks for me in the office then we have to find the one to take my place…..that will be a difficult choice as you become so attached to the mission president after seeing the schedule he goes through and the demands on him are so spiritually and physically taxing that you clearly wonder how he does it all. I find myself  striving to do anything I can to defend or give him time to himself…..Among other things this week,we have started training with one of the members in an attempt to put away the kava for good. We wake up at 5:30 am to exercise and train so that in the evening he knows that if he touches that stuff he will be unable to get up in the morning to train with the able bodied missionaries in the morning. J  Lucky I am so strong hahaha! (jk)  It’s been a sweet reward for his wife and children to see this man come to life again through a goal and motivation….Wouldn’t we all like for a little push sometimes in life to help us achieve our desires too, well the missionaries can help:)

Elder Potrie

The Windows of Heaven

Sunday January 20th, 2013

So, you wouldn’t expect what happened this week what a cool experience :) And it came to pass that the whole house of Mele dried up and there was naught water found in the wells or any other place….Luckily the lord opened the windows of heaven and poured out a blessing …it started raining at the opportune time and we were able to jump outside and swim (shower) in the rain haha.  Having soaped up and cleaned all the suds off, we were about to go back in the house when we started talking about what if the people were watching the two sporty white guys swimming under the gutters of the house…the fat neighbor came out to let us know that he had water haha lucky they were watching haha and lucky we had already finished with our shower:) The funny part was the fact that within minutes of finishing our shower in the rain, the rain completely stopped and didn’t start again for the full day…and some look for fire and lightening as a sign, silly people :)

I know the Lord has a sense of humor; real good friend of mine :)

This week we also started the “after mission workout program”.  We’ve been running a lot. My companion runs like a gazelle, and  I do my best to keep my wits and wind about me:) but we have run and run and I’m turning into quite the good little runner:) If you know like Timon and Pumba, I’m more like Pumba :)

We also had a real good finding week. We found a lot of new investigators and helped them come to church :) Sweet success!  We also have return appointments which is even better.  We have an ongoing ever growing group of couples needing to be married before they can be baptized and eventually go to the temple….A whole lot of the people who come to church every time are the unmarried investigators, who are even active now….but not even entirely members yet! Like this week I helped all of them fill out tithing slips and they each said they had done their reading in the Book of Mormon…now if their husbands get on board it will be the best…Sometimes guys are so lazy…it’s ridiculous…anyone who reads this don’t be a bench sitter in life or a relationship that means everything….if it means everything, get up to bat take a chance and swing away; at the end of the fifth or seventh inning, well at least you swung and “did” rather than sat out the whole game:) Anyways that’s a little pep talk out of the coaching side of Elder Potrie for ya. Another thing that happened this week was that my watch broke …it was a sad day, and I had to walk around not knowing the time. It was real different to not have my day paced or anything it was just do whatever, whenever, when time doesn’t exist….hahaha.  It never does stand still though, goes and goes and goes….only bad news I have for you guys is I might get transferred to a place that doesn’t have internet or computers…..so the last couple of months may be without email…. I hope you guys are well; and I never do miss you guys in my prayers, love ya all:)

ELDER POTRIE

When did I get so old?

Sunday January 13th, 2013

So I have the best of news and maybe not so great of news for you guys; the mission president has told me I’ll be getting the chance to rest or retire from the work of AP…7 months in Mele…I don’t know if he is thinking of transferring me at the end of this month or the February transfer, but he has said he’ll put me in a place that I will no longer feel the heat or criticism of the missionaries on my back. I keep thinking that the Gaua Islands are the haunting grounds that are calling my name, haha a funny way of putting as the place where I will end the mission. I  don’t know what the future holds, I can only go on in the business of the Lord and see where it leads me.

It will be a relief to pass the torch on to someone else, but the problem I face as I look at the faces of all the missionaries, is the face of “don’t choose me”.  I’m glad to have had the chance to serve and am willing to go and die here in the office or rather among the village people of Mele :) but I would love to be relieved of the stress or the pressure of the other things that go with the day to day  operations of the mission…it’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.  Having been AP for only a short time and face the situation of my entire mission coming to a close is daunting…. It is truly a humbling experience, as the whole squad of missionaries throughout the mission has come to acknowledge me as “papa potrie” the man who would do the deed others shake to do, to say what needed to be said because it was right rather than what was fun, to tell of the full experience; the love and the labor.  I’ll never fully have words to tell the tale….but of all the places I would like  to come back to if given the opportunity, I would stop by in Mele  and I’ll be sure to tour in Malekula for a bit.

The experience of the week was taking a less active boy with us out for the whole day. We picked him up before church to be our member present, and then he followed us the whole day and got to see what it is that we do and he was a little shocked and a little empowered when we had the chance to talk with one of his cousin brothers, and share the gospel with him and at the same time remember that he too had a testimony of the plan of salvation:) It was like one of those aha moments where your eyes are opened and you remember what you signed up for and why you’re doing what you’re doing….If only we can have him experience a few more of those before we invite him to fill out his paper work to serve a mission, it would be the best….Enfero is the boy’s name.  Well he’s actually older than me 22:) but I don’t know, age doesn’t even cross my mind these days….someone guessed that I was 29-30 this week.  I laughed, Elder Frei was only 24-25 he laughed. haha Oh my heck, when did I become old looking, haha  Anyway, I  hope that gives you guys a few chuckles:)

ELDER POTRIE

And the Hunt Continues….

Sunday January 6, 2013

So this week it’s been a whirlwind of activity. We came home Sunday night, popped in a good old church DVD and Elder Frei and I both kind of woke up at eleven finding ourselves still passed out on the floor with a bottle of my new favorite juice; G-force.  oh yeah:) and some chips called the works:) But we decided we’d move back in to the bed room and get a bit more comfortable and brush our teeth. I haven’t missed a day in the mission so far dad, you’d be so proud haha.

This week was also zone conference, which in retrospect had a new atmosphere.  The mission president has really changed our focus to participation throughout our zone conferences, rather than just sitting around and listening to doctrine. He’s getting us up and in the doctrine… We had Sister Brewer incite or inspire everyone with a coach’s pep talk it seemed, incorporating D&C sections 31 and 100…no fear, concern yourself with the work and know that I am GOD…

It will be coming close to the end of days for Elder Potrie and I have no idea how much longer I will be in the office,  but I was promised to die standing on my own two feet, and as a sweet release I’ll be able to go out and be with the people again and do what I feel needs to be done in the time I have left to do my duty… The teaching experiences this week were all over the place, and it seemed I didn’t have that much time, but it’s alright, we have been significantly narrowing down the baptismal records that were missing and are now down to the true hunt and may will have to go out in force with the big guns and make a run down of the last and final copies of the missing forms.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that:) Although I will be happy to go out into the jungle and search those out :)

And just to let you all know, I have composed a song about Elder Frei and his girlfriend to the tune of free falling:)

 

ELDER POTRIE

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Sunday December 30th, 2012

So this Christmas was a blast, we had so many programs and different families that wanted our time and attention that it was hard to gall o all of them, but as I am a chief of the village of Mele, I made the program fit everyone. ha-ha Even you guys back in the US of A :) Some of the experiences were just for fun and little parties, but the rest of them were real teaching opportunities…We had a chance to have breakfast on the 25th with a returned missionary and his new wife that were sealed in the temple last month, and some of the extended family which was great. We had pancakes and eggs and the traditional island food….rice! and chicken hahaha, oh my.  For breakfast you would think that was crazy but whatever you have that’s breakfast, and on the special occasions you have to go all out — chicken:) rather than cow…Then we played cut the lolly down it’s like a blind folded game in which you string up a bunch of lollies and then try and make the blindfolded person come and cut off the lollies in three tries…amazing how many times you can play the same game and it still be as funny as the first time:)

Then we were a little late for the missionaries Christmas program on the twenty-fifth  for our  secret Santa and what not.  I received a back scratcher from Vanuatu but sister Brewer liked it and so I traded her for a 500 vatu:) It was alright, fair trade. Even the day before we had a senior couple run our p-day and the full day was planned however, we had a planned potluck and we had planned to bring coconut crab however our secret agent for the crab had a disagreement with some of his family and took off in a huff ha-ha, put us in a tight spot.  Luckily we have the quick thinking duo of Potrie and Frei, but we tried every market throughout vila and there were no crabs anywhere….looked like every time we got there we had a contact ( a member or someone who knew the missionaries…we got a ton of surplus stuff however we didn’t get any of the crab we needed ha-ha so we took the surplus coconuts and bananas and such to the activity) and we ended up making PB’n’ J’s for Christmas dinner; a whole lot of them to combine with whatever else the missionaries made plus chips :) The funny thing was that every one of those sandwiches was gone in a hurry:) Oh what a good surprise:)

We then  had Christmas with an investigator family and had a secret Santa like we do at granddad’s and we had a talent show.  What a surprise to see how they responded.  It started and then just kept going and going the laughs and good times kept on rolling ha-ha. We had Elder Frei start us off with a little harmonica out of the nose and such and from there the playing field was open ha-ha.

Tonight we had the New Year’s  Mele branch activity that we have worked our tails off to produce, taking on just about every hat of the branch leadership to pull it off, as well as go to  a local dj ha-ha. We’ll see how this one goes ha-ha.  I also have two other stories to share this week, one is in reference to Sunday in which I happened to talk against the youth teacher in a way that really ticked her off in such a way that had her fleeing the scene in a ball of flames…She has continually been putting down our youth and critizing them for everything they do and then ridiculing them in public. It’s really hard to have a youth program and have the youth respond in a positive way so I talked to both of our youth leaders who have both traveled out of the country …one having been a returned missionary for quite some time and the other having graduated from BYU Hawaii…I had enough of them wasting my time and destroying the work and atmosphere I wanted in Mele for the church and its youth…so I took it to them to change their ways or else….They responded in very different ways; one looked at it as a humbling teaching experience, while the other was offended and took off….the work….then I had the spirit just really bothering me about that and other things all day and I couldn’t seem to shake it, even up till the point that I took it out on one of our investigators…I happened to relate this whole experience in a unique way to our investigators and learn a very different lesson, which started out as an odd seeming story about an adventurer going off and climbing out on his own and getting wedged between the rocks in a rock fall to moves of desperation…in cutting off his own hand.  A unique story in which I related it to our own efforts in spiritually handicapping ourselves….in our preparations for the journey or the voyage sometimes we make the mistake or error in thinking we’re enough to make it on our own, or enough to go the road alone…this is the spiritual handicap that we set up for ourselves like losing a hand it is just as debilitating and has the same lessons to teach us, however unlike a hand that is lost, we can regain the spirit and receive forgiveness for our mistakes or bumps on the road….there is forgiveness in the Savior, and its important as ever throughout these holidays to remember those who love us most and do everything they can to make us successful:) have a great Christmas and a happy holiday:) Happy New Year!

 

ELDER POTRIE