Elder Josh Garff

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Best Christmas Ever

All of the "Old Promotion"
Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Josh and his "son", Elder Davis!
I hope that you all had a great Christmas and that you enjoyed the snow! I liked having a warm Christmas so it was great here :) 
The best parts included Skyping with my family, the first time I have ever done a 4 way Skype! It was great to see my sister who is in Bolivia and to see my family who is doing great! My brother JJ still has a ways to go with his muscles, but he is getting there ;) 
Congrats Jimmy! And a big thanks to Manea (far left) our member integrator! 
The other best part was that we had a baptism! His name is Jimmy Dexter, and we met him 3 weeks ago. We fixed his baptism on the first lesson, and ever since we explained the Plan of Salvation (his girlfriend recently died) he has wanted to be baptized, so he can see his future wife again! He was a miracle, and now, he is asking us to do lessons with all of his kids! A great miracle that came from God, and the second great one was Manea, who came with us to all of the lessons! He is a great member integrator! And without him, it would have been impossible to accomplish this baptism! 

In all, this week was a crazy week with a lot of exciting news! The best parts though, without a doubt, were the Skype and the baptism!

Funny Moment: Because we are Elders, we can't cook very well, but we tried our own Christmas feast! It wasn't the best, but it is the effort that counts right?
​The Christmas Feast. Headed by THE Elder Murdock 
Culture Shock: Instead of snow, there is constant rain. I don't know your preference, but I love the rain :) 

​How can you tell when there is a missionary reunion? You see an army of Toyotas.
Spiritual Thought: This week I want to focus on gratitude for the Savior and the love He has and gives to us. Christmas is really revolved around Christ, who is Love! Christmas is a time of year to focus on love, which we do by giving, not receiving. Which we do by listening, not talking. Which we do by caring, not ignoring. We all have opportunities throughout the year to keep the Spirit of Christmas in our hearts. So, continue to focus on the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Love, every day of the year (not just December 25th)!
Love you all! 

Elder Garff
Oh Christmas Tree

Monday, December 19, 2016

How Grateful I am For Christmas

​8 Pineapples for 5 dollars... Not bad :) 
Hey Everyone!
Again, I am pressed for time, but, I will try to have a better email today!

This week was great! Elder Nelson and I have been working hard to change around our sector and have seen some success! We have been trying to build a great relationship with all of our auxiliary leaders, who continue to work with us even during this season of Christmas! This ward is great and there are miracles to come!
Also, this week, I was able to call my old companions Elder Piazza and Elder Peel at Raiatea (the sector that I just left). There are so many miracles happening right now for them and I had the best 42 minute phone call of my life! They are doing awesome! I can't wait to hear how this transfer goes for them!
​Congrats to Tetu (on the right) who was baptized last Saturday! She is an investigator in my old sector of Tevaitoa and her path to baptism was truly remarkable! Congrats Tetu! 
Congrats also to Daisy! (Sitting down in the middle) who was baptized with Tetu!
Awesome day! So happy for the two! 
That is really it for the week, I am just happy to have the chance to Skype with my family! I am pumped to see them all and hope that all of you have a great Christmas season with your families too! No matter where we are, we cannot escape the Spirit of the Lord! Enjoy the warmth this Christmas season, the warmth that will drown out the physical and spiritual cold!

Funny Moment: An Elder in our house, Elder Campbell, saw my pineapple juice and decided to take a few sips, hoping I wouldn't notice. But, as I am an expert in Rotui pineapple juice, I was able to feel the ounce difference. I formally accused him and dubbed him "juice stealer". Such a great time ha ha ha! 
Josh and the "Juice Bandit" aka Elder Campbell who is a great missionary.
He was just unaware of the fact that Josh seems to take his pineapple juice very seriously.
Culture Shock: Normally you can leave your sector to go see baptisms in your old sectors. Unfortunately, my last sector requires a plane... So I was unable to go :( But, calling them by phone was a great blessing! 

Spiritual Thought: Last year, Elder Christofferson said that the Spirit of Christmas was like a warm fire. We don't need to do anything special to feel the Spirit of Christ, we just have to sit back and enjoy the fire. I shared that last year, and share the same thought this year, with the thought to be thankful for the fire that is there. This week I have been brought to my knees every night in gratitude for the things the Savior has done for me and the people of Bora, Maraa, Raiatea, and Orofero. The Savior really is all powerful. This Christmas season, I encourage all of you to sit back, enjoy the warmth of the Spirit, and to thank God for that warmth. Words can't express the gratitude I have for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and their plan for us to return to them.

Joyeux Noel! Noela maitai ia outou!

Elder Garff 
Noel Parties in Tahiti!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

No Time!

​Last photo of the Raromatai Zone! I'll miss those missionaries! 
Hey Everyone!

This week we have literally no time! But, all is well in Orofero! I loved my time in Raromatai and they are doing great! Now, it is time to go to Orofero, which is next to one of my old sectors! I loved seeing everyone on Sunday and it was as if we had a huge high school reunion ha ha ha!
Josh and Elder Nelson
I don't have a whole lot of time today, but, everything is going well! There are miracles waiting to happen in Orofero and I am excited to work with Elder Nelson!

Culture Shock: I just realized that to end my mission, because we are on several different islands, I will not be able to see my converts and friends that are at Bora and Raiatea... I'll miss them and can't wait to return and see how they are doing!
Josh and Benjamin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:D
Funny Moment: When Benjamin dyed his hair red, I died! I love Benjamin soooo much! (He was one of my converts baptized in February!)
Spitirial Thought: Again, I will talk about the power of members. Without members, missionary work doesn't work. It is only with the members that we can accomplish miracles. In all of my sectors, with all of the things that have happened, it has been 100% of the time because of God, and of those times, 90% because of the members. So, I invite all of you to participate in missionary work! It can't advance without you!

Love You All!

Elder Garff

Monday, December 5, 2016

Goodbye Sweetheart, It's Time To Go

​Last zone meeting! 
Sisters: Temataua, Teahu, Sanchez, James, Durrant, Padbury, Maa, Perrut, Toyon, et Turina (not in the picture: Sisters Kelsey and Teimaiana) 
Elders: Temataua, Tautaha, Piazza, Me, Perrut, and Opuu (not in the picture Elders Rybin and Fawson).
Hey Everyone!

This week was a bitter-sweet week. We received the transfer calls and I will be leaving the zone of Raromatai after 6 months. It has been a great time and I will never forget the expériences that I had here. Today, I thought that I would just share the 3 most prominant things that I have learned here:

1. Believe in Christ. It is good to have faith in Christ and is essential. But, we need to believe in Him. That is essential. Knowing Christ can do something is important and essential. But, believing that Christ WILL do something is just as important and essential.
2. The power of Couple Missionaries. In this zone, there are two couple missionaries. The Couple Perrut and the Couple Temataua. I will never forget their influence on me. When I came, the zone needed some help, some life. And, it started with the Couple Perrut who arrived with me. They turned a branch of 20 people to a branch of 80 people thanks to reactivation and baptisms. The Couple Temataua then came to a branch of 60 people and now, there are almost 100 with the first 4 baptisms in over 2 years happening in December. The power of couple missionaries is outstanding, and I will never forget the things that they taught me through their example and their teachings.

3. The will of God. For us, we need to do our best to live the commandments and obey the will of God. If we obey, the will of God for us will be things of great importance. If we disobey, maybe we will lose out on blessings we could have had, but, if we follow the will of God for us again, we can overcome our mistakes and ultimately land our souls at the right hand of God.
Round 2! To help people get baptized, we started the spiritual cigarette business again!
My next sector will be Orofero, in the Paea stake! It is actually the neighboring ward to Maraa, my second sector!!!! So, I get to see all of my converts in Maraa again! I will be serving with Elder Nelson, and Elder Peel, an old missionary companion I had in Maraa, will be coming here! So excited for him!
​TonTon Burger! (translation: Uncle Hamburger), hard to find a good hamburger spot in Tahiti!

This week was a great week, and a week where we got close to fixing 5 baptisms for December. I hope and know Elder Piazza and Elder Peel will get it done!

Also, shout out to Elder Loamanu, one of my favorite missionaries here finished his mission! I'll miss that Elder! Also to my Sisters :) To'u Mau Tuahine Mau :)
​Don't know why I made a fish with all of my cat pictures... But, here is the creation of my time at Raromatai!

Funny Moment: This will go to all of the cat pictures. I have saved them all... And Our house is now covered in cheesy cat pictures. Got to love it!
There are 100 Ways to Love a Cat...

Culture Shock: Well, it still isn't snowing... I don't know if it will either! Rather, everything is melting with the heat!

Spiritual Thought: I already put 3 above, but I will just put them all together here. For you couples out there who can serve a mission, I would encourage you to believe in Christ and pray to know if you should serve. Then, submit to the will of God. If the answer is yes, then Go! If it is no, then stay. You don't know how many missionaries (and in turn investigators) you will bless, change, and save.

Love you all!

Elder Garff

Monday, November 28, 2016

I Am Grateful For...

I am grateful for pineapple juice, pineapple ice cream, and pineapples in general.
Hello Everyone!

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Here in Tahiti, we really don't have a Thanksgiving... I would say because of two things... 1. We eat crazy well here every day. So it is like we have a Thanksgiving feast every night! 2. Many people are grateful for every little thing. So, we are surrounded by gratitude wherever we go! So, I can say that I have had a constant Thanksgiving for 18 months!
And we are grateful for breakfast - left by the Seminary students
And speaking of 18 months... all of the Sister missionaries in my promotion are going home next week! It is crazy to think that some of the people I started my mission with are already done! I will miss my "Mau Tuahine Mau", Sisters: Daniels, Kelsey, Morrill, Olsen, Pita, James, Thornock, and Stone. Loved having the chance to serve beside to'u mau tuahine mau!

This week was a crazy week that drained energy, but we are all still alive, so that is what counts ha ha ha! We have been running all over the place and have been constantly doing tasks for our areas, the district, the zone, and the mission! One of the best parts of the week was playing the piano for the Young Womens program this week! I can now say I have worked with all of the women's organizations at Vaiaau ha ha ha! It was a great program and they did well!
Another photo with our awesome Sister Missionaries
Funny Moment: This will go to the moment where we were doing a zone report and our phone suddenly decided to block the cellular signal. So, below Elder Piazza is calling with the Church phone, because our phone stopped working... Not a huge fan of our phone...
Efficiency at its best
Culture Shock: The past 6 months have been a little crazy in Tevaitoa and I have seen something that never happens in Salt Lake. The past 6 months, we have changed: The Bishopric, Young Men, Young Women, Youth Single Adult Leaders, Relief Society, Sunday School, Missionary, and Primary organizations, with the Elders Quorum changing next week. Wow!
Pineapple - gotta love it!
Spiritual Thought: This week, I would like to share a thought about remembering the Savior. In the April Conference, Elder Wong spoke about this subject. For each of us, if we want to live a fuller life, we must remember God. One of the ways we can do this is by being grateful for all that will come in our lives. For things that we don't understand, for things that are hard, for everything we need to thank God and trust in Him. I hope that each one of you expressed your gratitude to God for the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and His Gospel!

Love you all!

Elder Garff

Monday, November 21, 2016

Conferences with the Seventy and Family Baptisms

Raromatai Group with Elder Craig A. Cardon
Ia ora na tout le monde!

This week was a crazy week! It started by taking a plane to Tahiti for a great leadership conference with a Seventy, Elder Craig A. Cardon. During this conference, it was great to be taught by a General Authority and hear his point of view on everything. See the Spiritual Thought below.

After, we flew back, and prepared the zone conference here with Raiatea, Tahaa, Huahine, and Bora Bora! Such a fun time having a "slumber party" in the Church gym! The pictures are pretty great! We were then taught as an "outer island zone" by Elder Cardon which was great again!
Baptism of Randy HOPARA 

After all of the conference and the clean up (took 2 days!), we prepared and had a great baptism for Randy HOPARA! Cool fact, I baptized his sister, Maina, in Maraa (my last sector). Before, Randy was not really wanting to be baptized, but the second I told him that I baptized his sister Maina, in 2 weeks he had a baptismal date, quit smoking, quit drinking coffee, and had a huge desire to be baptized! The Savior works in mysterious ways and I am just grateful to be a part of it! His baptism was extremely special, and I don't think that I will forget the things that happened during this whole experience.
Slumber Party Prep

Slumber Party in the Gym

Well, that was pretty much the climax! Hope that you all are as excited as I am ha ha ha! What a crazy great week!

Also, I hope that you all are preparing to receive Syd the Squid soon! I left at the same time as my cousin, and now she is returning home from Alabama! I loved serving in the mission field at the same time as her, make sure to give her a coconut for me :) Congrats Sister Sydney Anderson!
So very Josh - Pineapple in a new shape, which, apparently, is picture-worthy
Funny Moment:
Culture Shock: When I was in Bora, I assisted the same conference one year ago. I was still in training and scared to death! One year later, it was me organizing it ha ha ha! Something I never thought would happen!
Spiritual Thought: This week will go to the Conference that we had with Elder Cardon. He spoke often of Repentence. As missionaries, we teach repentence often. One of the things that stuck out to me was that to teach repentance, we too must repent each day of our lives. Maybe we aren't repenting of a serious transgression every day, but the goal of repentance is to change our will to fit God's Will. Every day, we need to be repenting and aligning our will with the will of God. So, for each of us, no matter where our curent standing is with God, we need to repent and align our will with His until our will is His will.
You Just Gotta Love Tahiti

Love you all! Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Garff

Monday, November 14, 2016

Baptism of Rose and Evaporating Ice Cream

Tahitian Ninja!
​During a baptismal interview, I was placed with the task of occupying 4 kids. So, what did we do? The same thing my parents did to us 5 kids: NINJA! 
Hey Everyone!

I don't have a lot of time today, as we have a conference, but I will write really fast!

The baptism of Rose was awesome! Friday, we had their marraige, Saturday, Rose was baptized, and she received the Holy Ghost on Sunday! It was a great experience and it was the baptism of someone who had been taking the missionary lessons for more than 5 years! She is finally baptized and it is thanks to a revelation that Marama received, to be baptized on November 11th! Congrats again!
Marriage of Marama and Rose
Culture Shock: Normally in Utah, we see hot chocolate steaming because it is cold. Today, I looked at my ice cream and saw it evaporating because it was so hot!
Funny Moment: Playing Ninja with 4 kids is pretty hilarious, especially when I had to explain the rules in French ha ha ha! What an experience!

Spiritual Thought: The baptism of Rose was the hardest baptism of my mission and I have thought a lot about why it was so hard. The answer is that Satan really didn't want it to happen. Everything was tough and Rose was literally all alone. Even with hardships that came from us, her family, her kids, and her husband, Rose surmounted all of that this week and was baptized. The scripture that is perfect for her is Alma 23:6. Personally, I know that Rose will never fall away from the church and will stay strong. She was not converted to the missionaries, she was not converted to her family, she was not converted to nothing, but she was converted to the Lord.

Have to run! Love you all!

Elder Garff
My Gam is famous in Tahiti! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Climbing Hikes and Coconut Trees

Hey Everyone!

This week was an interesting week!

This week we had a lot of planning and not much happened apart from that. In addition to our planning, we had a lot of service projects. One of which included gathering coconuts :)

In the weeks to come, there will be a huge zone conference and Elder Cardon of the Seventy is coming to our mission! We are also preparing for many ward activities and between 2 areas, there is plenty of work to go around! Our investigators are progressing well, and this week, more than anything, was a week of preparation for the next 4 weeks!
The District on the 3 Waterfall Hike
Another crazy thing really fast, the power just went out at the church! So for the past 40 minutes, we have been scrambling to get it back, and the power came back! Yay! But now the time is short... :(

Culture Shock: This will go to Stake Conference. Here, there were 3 main subjects: The Sabbath Day, the Temple, and Missionary Work. In Utah, the talks are great also, but I can't remember the last time that we talked about missionary work! Shows where the focus is for the members here!ent: During our hike, we had a huge water fight! As missionaries, we can't really swim, but, water fights are still good to go! Defintiely a good time there!

Funny Moment: During our hike, we had a huge water fight! As missionaries, we can't really swim, but, water fights are still good to go! Defintiely a good time there!

Spiritual Thought: This week I have thought a lot about the concept of asking God with a sincere heart and real intent. As I thought about this, it is common sense. If we don't ask God with the two factors there, it will merit us nothing. God will only give to those who honestly seek Him. There are times where the answer of God will be difficult. There will be times where He will respond to our questions and we won't want the answer that He will give. But, as President Monson has frequently said: "May we ever choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong". It is easy to stay on the path of mediocricy, but it is hard to trek the path of Christ. To follow Him and His principles 100 percent of the time. How can we know if we are tredding the path of Christ? By asking in sincere prayer with a real intent.

Love you all!

Elder Garff

Manu, a member of Vaiaau, climbing a huge coconut tree

Friday, November 4, 2016

Happy Halloween - It's Weird to be a Frenchie!

For Halloween:  Elder Piazza is me, and I am him:)
Hey Everyone!

So, as today is Halloween, I am dressed up like a Frenchie (Elder Piazza) and he is dressed up like an American (Me). I have to say that the American style fits better, feels better, and looks way better on me :)

Anyways, this week was great! We had a baptism for an awesome kid named Gustave! He has been a riot to work with and we love every lesson with him! We have had too many jokes to write in an email, but his example is huge. Thanks to him, his family is now interested in the Gospel and though he is 13, he is an awesome missionnary! Definitely grateful for Gustave and his example! If a 13 year-old can do it, we can too!
Me and Gustave!  Awesome baptism service and an awesome kid!
Other than that, this week was a huge preparatory week in regards to moving, preparing for stake conference, and our zone meeting. It was great to have a break and see my old missionary companion, Elder Paulsen, and his parents! I never thought that I'd get to see them, but they came! Defintely great to speak Engish!
Great to see Elder Paulsen and his parents this week!
Too bad about his shirt... 

Funny Moment: While throwing out food, we had a huge eggplant (we didn't know how to cut it, eat it, or even use it), so Elder Piazza threw it in the abandoned lot just next to us. It was dark, so he didn't see where he was throwing it, and we think he hit a car! He threw it.... BANG! I couldn't stop laughing ha ha ha!

Culture Shock: This will go to the fact that Halloween for the French is November 1, and in Tahiti we don't celebrate it at all. So, this will probably be the most anti-climatic Halloween I have ever had. Definitely missed Ichabod Crane night with Grandma and Grandpa!
Always fun helping the Sisters (Our Relief Society) move houses!
Spiritual Thought: This week I have been thinking a lot about the influence of the Spirit. To obtain the spirit, Elder Holland in his 2007 General Conference talk "the tongue of angels" warned us against negative speaking. If we are positive and encouraging, we invite the Spirit and can talk with the tongue of angels unto the edifying of others. If however, we are negative and harsh with our words, the Spirit will not be with us and we will be ultimately unuseful in the hands of the Lord. In all things, be edifying in your language and speak in the words and tongues of angels. In other words, speak with the power of the Holy Ghost to edify others.

Love you all, don't take too many pounds tonight!

Elder Garff

Monday, October 24, 2016

I Want to Be Baptized This Sunday...?!

Ia ora na tatou!

This week was a crazy week. The biggest event that happened was that a Mami (grandmother), Mami Miryama called our Branch President and told him that she was sick of waiting and wanted to be baptized this Sunday. Mami Miryama has been what you can call an "eternal investigator" and after coming to the chapel for more than 5 years, she decided to be baptized! Defintitely a shock for me, Elder Piazza, the Branch President, and the entire Branch! Wow. See more for the spiritual thought!
Awesome experience with Mami Miryama!  Talk about a miracle!
Other than that, this was an eventful week. We had a lot of sport activities and a lot of service, and this time, I wore sunscreen :) We went from a tired and sweaty sport activity, to a lesson, to sports again, that is definitely the dream life of an Elder (but I can't say the same for our investigators who were taught ;) ) All of our lessons went well, and I can't complain for the progress of our invesigators. We are truly starting to see some miracles, and another great miracle was that Raitahi (a recent convert) came to church in a missionary haircut, received the Aaronic Priesthood, and a calling! The comments about Raitahi have changed from "When is he going to fall inactive" to "when is he going to receive the Melchezidek Priesthood". Through the obedience of Raitahi and the miracle of Mami Miryama, there is a renewed sense of faith and hope in the sectors of Tevaitoa and Vaiaau that didn't exist before. Amazing
As my high school basketball coach, Coach Bunting, always said, "Don't make the same mistake twice!!"
Sunscreen Works
We also said goodbye to 3 of our sister missionaries (all replaced by Sisters, so we are still the Relief Society) Sister Ladd, Mendenhall, and Jeanneau, and welcomed 3 others: Sister Toyon, Durrant, and Padbury. It is a fun district and I'm excited for the next 6 weeks!
The District (Relief Society) One Last Time before Sisters Mendenhall, Ladd, Jeanneau, and Noble left
Culture Shock: A Sister Missionary came home (Sister Rooarii) and she came up to us and asked to be put to work! Before church this Sunday, she took her parents and did Door-to-Door contacting to get people to come to Church. That is some Sister Power right there!

Funny Moment: This will go to when we found a lot of ants. Instead of being angry like usual. I rushed to my suitcases and pulled out a bunch of ant poison that my family sent me. Probably the best birthday present ever, thanks Mom and Dad!!!!! :D
You see the white box?  There is ant poison inside.  After one night, all of the ants were curled up and dead.
I am finally on the scoreboard.  Ants: 5  Elder Garff: 1

Spiritual Thought: For the past 3 months, Me, Elder Piazza, and the members have been doing a lot of lessons and family nights focusing on getting a family baptized. We did everything for them, and when they started to not progress and elongate themselves from us, we all were devestated. We all thought they were a family sent from God to be baptized right now. But, they thing we didn't see was that our efforts were maybe not to help the family at this time to be baptized, but that our efforts did help Mami Miryama get baptized. Starting 3 months ago, she starting to quit drinking coffee and keep the commandments of God. We literally did nothing directly for her, but, through our efforts, Mami Miryama told us that she was ready to be baptized. It was another strong testimony for me that every effort is not wasted. Had we not done those firesides and family nights for the other family, Mami Miryama might never have been baptized. But, thanks to the Spirit and a little effort from us, Mami Miryama, an eternal investigator, was baptized this week.

Every Effort Counts!

Elder Garff

Monday, October 17, 2016

This Week Was Really a Pain in the Neck!

Josh and Elder Piazza with their Tahitian Drums
Hey Everyone,

This week certainly was a fun week... As a result of the hike we did last week, my neck was badly sunburned and was stiff because the sunburn held it there for 3 days. So fun doing contacting and lessons like that!
Sunscreen.  Sunscreen, Sunscreen.
Other than that, it was a good week. The highlight would have to be the Relief Society Activity. We played the Tahitian drums for the Branch of Vaiaau and it was fun! We watched a dance, listened to songs, and saw a parade for each of the wards/branches, which was awesome!

For a more formal note, we had several great things happen this week, and a lot of progression. I'll say more in the weeks to come, but it is amazing to see the great miracles come to pass through the little miracles. Alma 37: 6-7.

Lastly, Elder Piazza and I are staying together another transfer! We got the calls a week early, and found that we will be losing 4 sisters :( But, they will be replaced by 4 other sisters, so we still have the Relief Society! It will be the first time that I will have stayed with a companion for 4.5 months and it will be great! I am excited to see the results this transfer! 
Le'a is one of their investigators.  She is awesome and should be getting baptized soon.

Funny Moment: We were teaching a 13 year old boy named Gustave about the law of chastity. We told him that homosexual relationships were not good for Heavenly Father and right after, he started laughing uncontrollably and said he wasn't MaHU! It is now a joke between us as missionaries ha ha ha!

Culture Shock: I was about to tell all of you to make sure to wear suncreen, but, I realized that in Utah there will be snow soon... So that was a bit of a culture change!

Spiritual Thought: This week, due to the sunburn and stiff neck, I thought a lot about a common word in the scriptures "stiff-necked". After being through a week of "stiff-neckedness", I realized how wise this counsel was. If we are too prideful for the commandments of God or if we are too set in our ways, we are only hurting ourselves. As we keep the commandments and as we become less "stiff-necked", we free ourselves and all pain associated with our pride goes away. My challenge to you all is to obey the commandments of God. This will not only help you avoid being stiff-necked (a perfect sunscreen), but will also help you loose your "stiff-neckedness".

I hope all is going well in Utah! Go Utes!

Elder Garff