Thursday, July 28, 2016


So, this is my last week in the MTC! If everything works out, I should be leaving next week Monday! There has been a lot to take in and learn. One cool thing I was able to experience was being able to sing in the MTC choir for this band called the Nashville Tribute Band (I think). I think they're all members of the church, and they came and performed at a devotional, singing songs (mostly country songs) about the church, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, going on missions, and more, and the MTC choir was able to provide a bit of background singing for some of the songs, which was pretty cool.

I've also been getting along with my district pretty well still, and we're all going to miss each other once we all leave, but we're pretty excited to get out into the field. We've had some awesome teachers too, who have taught us so much more about how to teach and about the gospel, it's really mind blowing and an eye opening experience when we realized how much we didn't know. 

There isn't much else left to share I guess, I don't have any in-the-field stories like the other missionaries, but I guess I'll just share a little bit about the Devotional we had on Tuesday. We got to hear Elder and Sister Conde speak (not sure if that's how you spell their name). One thing sister Conde said was that the most powerful teaching tool is our testimony so use it often. A real testimony borne of the spirit can change lives, and our testimonies can influence our every choice.

Hopefully I'm out somewhere in the field the next time I email you all
-Elder Ho

Here is a picture of our district:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

​From left to right - Me, my companion (Elder Richins), Elder Pickett, Elder Hymas
Hi everyone! Sorry, I don't have much pictures at the moment, so I wont be sending any yet. Anyways, I've made it through the first week.

To start off, the language is tough. It's a real struggle, and I can't even teach the first lesson in Australian yet. It's rough.

Also, my district and zone is pretty awesome. In my district there 4 sisters and 8 elders, and we all get along really well. We've shared many great times and spiritual experiences already, like giving the sisters blessings or listening to amazing testimonies/experiences from our teachers. My companion is Elder Richins, from Utah, and my two other roommates/district members are Elder Picket and Elder Hymus, and they're all awesome. We all help each other be obedient, work hard, and focus when we need to. 

A cool experience I got to have was at our Sunday devotional, where we got to watch Elder Bednar speak in a video titled "The Character of Christ", or something like that. It was a super helpful and inspiring video, and fun fact: it can't be watched anywhere else but in the MTC I think, because he is addressing specifically the Missionaries. At least, that's what they told us. After the video ended, everyone stood up, and right in front of us was Elder Bednar and his wife, and some of his other family. I could have walked 20 feet and shook his hand (which probably wouldn't be appropriate in the middle of a devotional). Don't worry, I didn't, but I wanted to. He allowed us to ask him questions, and he and his wife and son would answer them, which was super awesome. Don't get too jealous lol.

Anyways, the MTC is good. I'm learning a lot, and the spirit here is awesome, and so are the people, but I feel like I'm in a box and just want to get out into the real mission world, but that's still in less than two weeks. It must be crazy for the Elders that have to stay here for nine weeks. The food is ok, another fun fact: don't drink the orange juice. I never have and I never will, we don't even know where that stuff comes from or what's wrong with it. Just don't drink it. Also, believe it or not, I'm in the MTC choir. That's not the end though; we're singing country songs. Who would have thought I'd do that. Not me, but whatever. It's a cool experience, and although most of us probably can't sing, it's still pretty fun. 

Also, I was able to visit the temple today and do a Session, which was pretty cool. It's a little different from the Hawaii temple, but it's really nice. It makes me miss waking up early to work in the Laie temple, but it's fine, I've got other things the Lord wants me to do. Hopefully I've covered everything, if not, I'll send it in another email or next thursday (my next P-day).

-Elder Ho

BTW, here's the mailing address I think

Provo Missionary Training Center
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84602
United States

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Few Parting Shots

Thank you, Aunt Lynda for picking up Ammon!  He met 2 of his cousins that were also reporting to the MTC on the same day!!!  After  a delicious meal, they headed to the MTC...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Farewell Talk
(Since not everyone could be there to hear Ammon speak, I'm posting his talk :)

Aloha Brothers and Sisters. On Tuesday night I’ll be leaving for the Provo MTC to begin my mission in Brisbane Australia. This is why my talk today is about how I got to this point in my life. Before I begin though, to answer some very frequently asked questions, yes I’m excited, I’m not too nervous for the mission, only for this talk, and yes there are many dangerous creatures in Australia. Anyways, I’ll start off by talking about the decision to choose a mission, and the various influences in that decision. 
When someone is making the decision to choose a mission, peers are very important. Some of the most influential peers we have in our lives are our families. Families are so important within the gospel that the First Presidency made what many of us know as “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. At one point it states that, and I quote “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live”, end quote. A person’s childhood can have a huge impact on the future of their lives, and it can be either a positive or negative impact. Neurological research has shown that the early years can play a key role in a child’s brain development, and has a direct effect on their adult life. I believe that if a family teaches a child at a young age about the gospel and the importance of serving a mission, when the time comes for that person to decide on whether or not to serve a mission, they will base that decision the many things they learned about in their childhood. From childhood, my parents have often talked about the importance of serving a mission. I also learned about the missions my grandparents served, and the mission that my dad had also served. During family home evenings, we would sometimes practice missionary work with each other by doing things such as role playing a situation with a friend that we want to invite to church, or setting goals to give a book of Mormon to one of our fellow peers. In the end, my family left the choice of serving a mission up to me. I knew it was a commandment of the Lord, and because I had been taught about it from a young age, I made the choice to serve a mission at a young age.
I think that the earlier you make the decision of whether or not to serve a mission, the better it is for you. Of course, you can always change your mind, but by making that choice early, you give yourself more time to prepare for your future and focus the rest of your life on that decision. Not only is the family a big influence in making the decision to serve a mission, but so are other peers, including teachers and church leaders. I still remember learning about missionary work in primary classes from my primary teachers, including primary songs about the mission. One song that I can recall is “I hope they call me a mission”. I remember sitting in those small wooden chairs that they still have in primary, as the teacher wrote the lyrics of the song on the chalkboard, erasing a few words after each time we rehearsed it so that we could have it memorized for the next primary musical number in sacrament meeting. The lyrics of the first verse say this: “I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two. I hope by then I will be ready, to teach and preach and work as missionaries do”. The second sentence, “I hope by then I will be ready, to teach and preach and work as missionaries do”, implies that, as a child, a lot will have to take place before someone can go on a mission, including baptism, preparation, and possibly years of building a testimony. The second verse says, “I hope that I can share the gospel, with those who want to know the truth. I want to be a missionary, and serve and help the Lord while I am in my youth”. This simple primary song gives a simple yet great explanation of what serving a mission is all about, and summarizes what is taught in primary about missionary work. Prepare for a mission, and then share the gospel with those who desire to know more about it, performing service not only for others but also for the Lord. What is taught in primary can also have an effect on someone’s decision to serve a mission, as it did for me.
Youth leaders and the youth program is also very impactful when it comes to making the decision to serve a mission. There are many service activities and chances to share the gospel in order to prepare someone for a mission. A small book titled, “For the Strength of Youth” summarizes the many lessons that someone may learn in the youth program. On one page, it teaches the reader about service, saying that “service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ”. It goes on to say, “You can serve by sharing the gospel with others now and as a full-time missionary in the future”, and finishes that section by describing the blessings of servers. The youth program in the church really helps to prepare youth for missionary work and making the decision to serve a mission. I’ve had many youth teachers and leaders that have guided me to this point now, but I’ll just mention a few of them. One of them was Brother Alisa, who taught me when I was a deacon I think. I remember him and his wife often telling us about their missionary experience, and how it had changed their lives and who they were. Another youth leader who has impacted my decision to serve a mission is Brother Tom, who would teach our class the importance of missionary work, and would ask us if we planned on serving missions. The youth program also provides many opportunities for service and for working with the missionaries. I have been tracting with missionaries twice and experienced a small portion of what the mission is like. The youth program can have a big effect when it comes to making the decision to go on a mission, whether it’s from the classes and leaders or the service and opportunities it provides.
People your age, whether they are friends or classmates, can also have a powerful influence on your choice to go on a mission. Another topic in the “For the Strength of the Youth” pamphlet talks about friends. It says that “they will influence how you think and act, and even help determine the person you will become”. In a psychology class that I took at BYU, they discussed the importance of those around you, and how the social environment you’re in really does affect who you become. First Timothy chapter 4, verse 12 states “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity”. Not only are we an example to our friends, but our friends are examples for us, and whether we know it or not, we take on some of their traits, whether good or bad. Finding peers who can be a good example for you can help with your decision to go on a mission. To be honest, in high school, the closer I got to the missionary age, the more I started to think of it as more of an obligation that was being forced onto me, and something that I was beginning to dread. Two years is a very long time. I began to think about how, out of the roughly 730 days there are, you can only call or facetime your family four times, and you can only email them about 104 times. You can’t swim for two years, you can’t watch movies or listen to non-church music for two years, you’re not even supposed to hug other people for two years. I would miss a lot of family things too. I wouldn’t be here for birthdays, reunions, and who would want to miss their own sibling’s marriage? I also tend to stress out in social situations, and I normally try not to stick out, so walking around in a white shirt and tie all day talking to strangers in an attempt to teach them about the gospel wasn’t exactly something that sounded fun to me. Instead of leaving for the mission right out of high school, I decided to go to two semesters of college and put more thought into what I was going to be doing. Being at BYU, where everything always has a spiritual side to it, and people are getting mission calls left and right, really started to change my attitude towards serving a mission. I also saw some of my friends enter the MTC, and they had a positive attitude towards the mission. One person who really helped me change the attitude I had towards the mission was my friend and roommate, Teancum, or TK. I’m not sure what normal roommates talk about at night, but sometimes we would just share our feelings about serving a mission, and at first they were similar. It wasn’t exactly something we were looking forward to doing. Then, throughout the semesters, I saw his attitude change. He started to have a more positive outlook on the mission. He started to see the good that came out of it, and the blessing that it could bring not only him, but those he could possibly meet in the mission field. Because of his example, I began to change my attitude also. We both submitted our papers at around the same time, and we both received our mission calls and opened them at around the same time also, not with dread, but with joy and excitement. We would often joke around about how we would compete to see who could have more baptisms by the end of the mission, or how we would prank our companions. If he on this island today, I would thank him for the example he set for me, but he is already in the MTC and preparing to serve in California. Another example that has changed my attitude towards serving a mission is my sister, Kamalei. Even though only young men are commanded to serve a mission, my sister decided to serve one too. She has shared many of her experiences and blessings from serving a mission, and I was able to see first-hand how it has affected her life.
Family, friends, and church leaders have guided me towards the decision to serve a mission. However, there is more to serving a mission than just submitting papers. You have to prepare yourself in many different ways, including spiritually. One of the simplest ways to spiritually prepare for a mission is through being involved in church. By being involved in church, we surround ourselves with others who have the same beliefs as us and we are able to maintain our focus on the gospel. In the Preach my Gospel book, it says, “While learning from a good teacher is very important, it is more important for you to have meaningful learning experiences on your own. Getting good results from your study depends on having a strong desire to learn, studying with ‘real intent’ (Moroni 10:4), ‘hunger[ing] and thirst[ing] after righteousness’ (Matthew 5:6), and searching for answers to questions and concerns.”. This chunk of text from Preach my Gospel is telling us that not only do we need to attend our church classes, but we need to be active learners. We have to desire to learn and grow.
One great way for youth to spiritually prepare is through seminary. Through all four years of high school, you are given the opportunity to study the scriptures through seminary. In these seminary classes, you are able to thoroughly study the scriptures, chapter by chapter, and learn how to apply those scriptures in your life. Henry B Eyring says, and I quote, “There are three powerful things seminary can do. First, it puts young people together who share the same values. Youth like to be with others who share their faith and who love the scriptures. Second, it puts youth together with a teacher who has a testimony, and they can feel the fire of it when it is borne. Third, seminary gets young people into the scriptures”, End quote. The first thing he mentions, which is putting people together who share the same values, can help everyone focus on studying the scriptures. The secondly, President Eyring mentions a teacher and their testimony. One of my seminary teachers was sister Camacho. She was very knowledgeable and all of the students could tell that her testimony was strong. Her lessons seemed to come from her heart, and not just from a manual. When she bore her testimony, the spirit seemed to fill the room. The third thing President Eyring mentioned was that seminary gets young people into the scriptures. With the right mindset, seminary can really change someone’s attitude towards the scriptures. For many youth, at first the scriptures may just seem like a religious textbook filled with confusing messages. Through attending seminary, the religious textbook can turn into something much more, with your seminary teacher translating each chapter into some sort of message. Sister Camacho was very good at getting the class into the scriptures. She had us do many activities, got all of the students involved, and finished many of her classes with ways to apply what we learned in our lives. Although it wasn’t always fun to wake up at about five in the morning, seminary really helped prepare me for my mission. Although I wasn’t too great at memorizing the various scriptures, or winning the scripture chase competitions, seminary taught me the importance of the scriptures. Although they are records of the past, they have messages that apply to everyone, even today. 
I was also given the chance to study the scriptures at BYU Provo, which helped prepare me for my mission and bring me to where I am now. I took two Book of Mormon classes, one for the first half and the other for the second half of the Book of Mormon. One thing that these classes taught me is that I need to study my scriptures outside of class. I needed to improve my personal scripture study. Instead attending an early morning seminary class to study my scriptures, I was taking 30 minutes out of my own day, nearly every day, to read a few chapters. Through these classes and personal scripture study, I was able to observe the teachings of the Book of Mormon and see how they aligned with teachings from our Church Leaders, teachings from the Bible, and how they addressed issues we even have today. It is surprising how ancient scriptures can be relevant even today, whether it is addressing family values, war, corruption, or even health. These classes taught me how to use the ancient teachings from the scriptures in my modern day life. For one of my Book of Mormon classes, we had to complete something called an application paper, where we take a teaching from one of our Latter Day Prophets which goes hand in hand with a Book of Mormon scripture, and apply that in our lives for a week. We would then write down the results after. I had learned how to apply scriptures in my life, and observe the results from that, whether it is doing more service or being more forgiving towards others. This is something that I think I can apply on my mission and for the rest of my life, and something simple that we all can do. All you really have to do is find a lesson from the scriptures, do your best to apply it in your life for a week, and observe the changes that happen.
One more someone can do to prepare for a mission is to provide service. President Thomas S. Monson said, and I quote, “I believe the savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves will eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in the service to others grow and flourish – and in effect save their lives”, End quote. This goes hand in hand with a simple quote from Gandhi, who I think is a great example of someone who serves. He says, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Both President Monson and Gandhi mention losing ourselves in the service of others. When we put forth our full effort with a willing heart in the service of others, not only are we helping them, but we are also finding ourselves and helping ourselves grow. There are many opportunities for us to serve, ranging from simple acts of kindness to eagle projects or Mormon Helping Hands projects. In the Book of Mormon, king Benjamin stated that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God”. So it makes since to prepare for a mission where your focus is serving the Lord by providing service for others. At BYU, my sister and I joined a group called vineyard which performed various services such as translating hymns or doing family indexing. There were times where I felt the spirit while doing family indexing, as I read the names and information of many people who had passed on, whether they were people registering for the military or obituaries of from various towns.
One last thing that I’d like to mention, which prepared me for my mission and brought me to where I am now is my opportunity to work in the temple over the summer. Every Tuesday and Thursday I was able to work in the temple from 6 to 10 AM. I learned so much over a short period of time about the sacred ordinances that take place there, and I know that there is still so much more to learn. I saw many people visit the temple and work there with such a strong spirit in them, and they loved what they were able to do there. My dad has told me that the goal of the mission is ultimately to bring families to the temple, and that everything else they do is a stepping stone towards that goal. By working in the Temple, I was able to witness and experience the blessings that I would be trying to provide others on the mission, by hopefully bringing them to the temple in the end.

These are just a few things that have prepared me for my mission. There is a lot more that has brought me to this point exact point in my life, giving a talk only two days before I leave for my mission, but at the time that I was writing this talk, it was getting kind of late. So, I’d like to bare my testimony …