Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Price I Pay for Wearing His Name

This has been a week of ups and downs. My faith has been challenged, disrspected, and my soul humbled to a level I didn't know existed!
We had District Meeting this week and our District Leader, Elder Ladd, said we should all be doing better than we are. I took that to heart, but with a great deal of fear at all I had to change about myself in order to raise my level of missionary work.
Sister Chen and I contacted 108 people the week before and Elder Ladd said we could do more. This meant that I needed to step away from Sister Chen's side when we were at the bus stop and start talking to people on my own, in Chinese. What an internal struggle I faced as I prayed for strength from the Lord to help me open my mouth. This week Sister Chen and I talked to 211 people. 61 more people than Elder Ladd expectd of us. I was blessed to run into Chinese people who could understand English when I didn't know the word in Chinese. I was blessed to talk to some Australians, and I was blessed to talk to a lot of people each day. I was blessed to have time fly by, especially on days where we were contacting for over four hours in a row. I was blessed to not run into any rude people as I started. I was indeed blessed!
Thursday we had free English Class and afterwards we had two sets of investigators who needed to be taught. This meant I had to teach pretty much by myself. So I went, with a big smile on my face, to teach Shadow and Ke how to pray. The Lord put words in my mouth as I taught them the special gift it is to communicate with our Father in Heaven. At the end of the lesson they were both excited because now they knew how to attain help from a higher being.
Saturday was Steven Chang's BAPTISM!!! It was amazing. After the baptism Steven got up to bear his testimony and was a little choked up. Then on Sunday he recieved the Holy Ghost. It was so exciting to see someone become a member of the only church that will allow you to reach the highest level of salvation!
Right after Steven's baptism we had a lesson with Tony. Tony has no religious background, but has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying. When we taught him on Saturday I invited him to start preparing for baptism on November 23rd. He said if he knew the Book of Mormon and the Church were true by that time, he would be baptizd. Saturday was a golden day!
Up until Monday, wearing the Savior's name on my chest has not been a huge challenge. I have had to overcome personal weaknesses, such as talking to strangers and speaking Chinese; but never have I been treated unkindly or disrespectfully...Until Monday. Monday was not P-day and so we went to work. I sit down at the bus stop, and a Chinese guy comes to sit next to me. I simply say, "Hi how are you today?" In which he says to "*&%$ off!" stands up and walks to the other end of the bus stop. Never in my entire life have I ever felt so disrespected, taken aback, or my confidence shaken. I had heard the stories from Elders about the foul language of some people when they see missionaries, but I thought it might be different for Sisters because we are sweet little girls. I guess that expectation came from living in the south for so long. I was shaken. At lunch I went up to the bedroom and knelt on my knees and asked Heavenly Father to restore my confidence. It was hard, but as I started talking to more people, the confidence began to be rekindled and I was once again excited to be a missionary.
Yesterday was training and our AP told us that wearing the name of Christ comes with praise and disrespect, but that we should always be happy to bear the name of Jesus Christ. I am happy to always bear the name of my Savior and Redeemer. He gave me strength when others tried to knock me down for doing the work of the Lord. I know that Christ can help everyone out, that He loves us all, even that guy who spoke so rudely to me.  He can help us in our times of need and will help us, if we just reach up and ask. I love you all!
1st Picture: Steven and Sister Chen and Me
2nd Picture: Sister Chen and I at the Brisbane Temple!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Turned Around

I am in a new country and it is different--more different than I expected that's for sure!
This week Sister Chen and I have been growing as a companionship. We talk to a lot of people and my Chinese is slowly but surely improving. We practice a lot and I have a sticky note to write down all the words I don't know each day. It gets very full!
We are scheduled to have a baptism this week and I am so excited! His name is Steven Zhong and he is golden. Before meeting with us he had already come to the conclusion that drugs and alcohol were bad, then when we told his that we don't drink coffee and tea he just nodded and said, "okay." He talked to our district leader Elder Ladd and asked what he needed to do to prepare for his baptism besides have an interview. Elder Ladd told him to buy white underwear. Then on Saturday Steven called us and excitedly told us, "I just bought white underwear." It made me laugh, but it is a good sign that he is excited to be baptized.
On Saturday night we had a dinner appointment with a single sister in the ward. She lives in a one room flat and my heart about broke as she told us she was between a rock and a hard place. We ate, shared a message, and when it was time for us to leave, I felt very strongly that we should not ask this sister to drive us all the way across town back to our flat (a member had dropped us off). So, with faith that Sister Chen and I would find a way home we said thank you and left.
We walked around aimlessly for a while looking for a bus stop. We finally found one, but it was in a little bit of a sketchy part of town. So we called Elder Ladd and asked what we should do. He gave us the local transportation number and they gave us instructions on how to return to our home through two buses. I felt quite at ease, until we arrived at the second bus station only to realize it was the weekend and we had been misinformed by the operator! OH my heart was papa (nervous/scared)! I am not a public trasportation girl. The only time I have used public transportation is in NYC with my dear Dad who knows that city so well.
Luckily, a kind bus driver helped us out by telling us a round about way to return to SunnyBank. After three buses we finally returned to familiar territory adn were able to walk the rest of the way back to our flat. It was a little scary, but at the end of the day I do not regret it one bit because I followed to promptings of the Holy Ghost. I don't know exactly why, but I know we were blessed and I am fine with that!
1st Picture: a street view of Brisbane near the mission office, all the pink is for breast cancer awareness week
2nd Picture: Lee and me at our last lesson before I left
3rd Picture: my view from the airplane as the sun rise caught up to us...about four hours until landing!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Finally Down Under!

Family and Friends I made it! I am now in the land below the equator and a day ahead of America. As I write today it is Sunday in America and Monday here in Australia...Crazy.

Australia is beautiful, especially now as it is spring. Everything is in bloom and the weather is a perfect 20 Celcious all the time. My new companion is from Taiwan. I met here briefly in the MTC. I was actually suppossed to get here before her, but alas my visa did not come and hers did. Her name is Sister Chen and she speaks very very little English and so our communication skills are very bad at this point. I am suppossed to help her learn English and she is suppossed to help me learn Chinese. It is a great opportunity because I hear Chinese all the time, but then there are moments when I think: Can I do this?

Saturday and Sunday was General Conference all over again! This time I had to watch it in Chinese...eek! Thankfully I had already heard it in English. I had quite the headache after each session, not sure whether it was from hearing all the Chinese or the supreme jet-lag I am trying to overcome. By the end of Conference on Sunday I was so depressed with a major headache. I just didn't think I would ever understand this language and was wondering what in the world Heavenly Father was thinking sending me to this foreign land to speak a foreign language. Then we went out to do missionary work...

Here we do not knock on doors, we just GQ or golden contacting! This means we go to the bus stops in our area and just talk to all the people there. Every 15 minutes we get a fresh batch of people to talk to. Let me tell you something--the Lord knows me oh so well! I hated tracting in Georgia, but here there is no tracting, rather we just talk to people like a normal person. First we say hello then we ask, "Where are you from?" If they reply China or Taiwan we begin talking to them in Chinese. Now, granted my Chinese isn't very good and my listening is even worse, but I am able to contribute a little bit and pick up the main message of what is being said. We try and hand them pamphlets or get their number before the bus comes. It's very fast work we have to be concise so we can get their number. If they don't seem interested in our message we let them know we have a free English class every Thursday. This usually grabs their attention and we get their phone number that way. It is so much FUN! I FEEL like a real missionary.

When we have appointments it is not in inestogator's homes, rather it is in our office. The church has purchased a small office where the Chinese program can meet with investogators. It is right down the road from the bus stop so we can easily tell people where to come see us for a lesson! I really like it that way.

Culturally, things are very different, at least in the part of Brisbane that I am in called SunnyBank. It is so Asian. I hear more Chinese being spoken rather than English. All the store's names are in Characters and everyone is Asian. I stick out like as the tall white American who is trying to speak Chinese! It has been very humbling. Even the park where we go running in the morning is Asian with a Asain form of zumba going on in the park.

The sun rises at about 5:00am every morning and then the birds bark! My first morning I thought I had over-slept because the sun was beaming into our room and the birds were barking all over the place. It was frightening. It doesn't help that we have to sleep with all the windows open because there is no "aircon" (airconditioning) in our "flat" (apartment). But thankfully Brisbane is close to the coast so there is always a nice breeze. Sister Chen is always cold and I am always hot--guess Taiwan is really HOT and Sister Chen hasn't become used to Australia's weather yet. Did I mention she has only been in the field 4 weeks? I have been a missionary longer! Weird!

Well that's about it. I am going on with lots of prayer that I will one day be able to understand my companion and the people we talk to. God Loves us all and He loves Australia, which is why He has missionaries like me here!

Rejoice the Hour is at Hand

I am going to AUSTRALIA!!!! Sunday evening Sister McFarlane and I recieved a call that we would need to find a ride to transfers this Wednesday. Then this morning when the assistants called to let us know which of us needed to pack, they said, "Sister Jensen, oh and make sure your bags are all within weight limit because your visa is here. You'll come to transfers and then we will drive you to the airport." I squealed with joy and couldn't stop jumping up and down! My prayers have been answered, my journey to Australia is now underway! Then I remembered why all this was possible and I collapsed on my knees almost immeadiatly and said a prayer of sincere gratitude to my Heavenly Father, because without His divine help, none of my mission would be possible, even the obtaining of my visa.
This week has been full of cancellations, but a good week none the less. Thursday someone asked me what my favorite scripture was and I said 1 Nephi 3:7, and then I started reciting it in my mind...IN CHINESE :) It was a little victory for me and a huge blessing from the Lord.
Second, we have a new investogator, Angel, who is so sincere and so spiritually prepared! She is a friend of Sister Manely's and we were able to have dinner and give the first lesson at Sister Manely's home. So powerful, even with all the kids playing and screaming in the background. There is just something special about the Spirit that resides in the member's homes.
Third, I had a dream in half Chinese and half English. The real bummer was that I couldn't understand what was being said in Chinese...I will get there I am sure, especially since I am soon going to be immersed in the language! Can you tell I am a little ESTATIC :)
Fourth, this was a miracle, at least for a girl who loves shopping. One of our ward missionaries took us to meet her friend and it just so happened to be at this Home Consignment shop, where they were having a deal $5 for a bag and as much stuff as you can fit, you can have. The Sister from our ward purchased each of us a bag and I was able to get some new shirts and a new skirt and dress. Oh how I love to shop!
It's a calm in my heart,
It's peace in the soul,
A grand midnight sea-
My Father's love for me.
Oh, its power is great!
Oh, it's power divine!
What a glorious decree,
My Father's love for me.
It's a life I live
It's a love I feel
From somewhere Heavenly,
This, My Father's love for me.