Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miracles on Sunny Bank Street

This has been a 10 day work week or nothing but good ol' hard yaka missionary work! That's the blessing you get when you have Temple P-day! But going to the temple is always worth a little sacrifice.
In this long week I have been spat on by a man, yelled at while tracting, told that what I am doing is a waste of time, and I narrowly dodged the careful aim of a sly bird who wanted to poop on my companions and me; and yet there is still a smile upon my face! Why you may ask? Because I am doing the best work I could be doing and at the blessed age of 19!
Sunny Bank has been quite dry lately because everyone is going back to China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan for the holidays. Not only are our investigators packing up and leaving for two months, but the bus stops have been extra sparse this week. However, we don't let little things like an empty bus stop get in the way, and the Lord sees our efforts and helps us out when we have done all we can.
We have been teaching a girl named Cathy, a ABC (Australian Born Chinese) who has very little Christian background, but a sincere desire to come closer to Christ. After our first lesson she texted us and asked, "Can I bring my sister to hear this message as well?" MIRACLE! So the next lesson Cathy brought her sister along and we taught them together. Cathy's sister, Lilian, is headed off to China for two weeks, and didn't want to carry the Book of Mormon with her so she asked if there was an online version. We happily showed her the LDS Library App. This was also a miracle because Cathy had been using her simplified Bible, but once we showed her the LDS library App, she downloaded that and now she has the King James Bible to reference things to. They are both so intent on learning the things we teach. They want to know for themselves if they are true. Cathy has been afraid to pray at the end of our lessons, but when we invited Lilian to pray she did it no problem, setting an example of just how easy it is to pray out loud to her older sister! It was beautiful.
Tony was going to be baptized yesterday, but it fell through because he broke the Word of Wisdom by drinking a cup of coffee. He was torn when he realized he wouldn't be able to be baptized before he went back home to Hong Kong for two weeks. However, it ended up being a miracle in disguise because now Tony understands what it feels like to be so close to baptism and then not have it. How is this a good thing? Well now he really is committed to live all the commandments so that once he returns he can be baptized as soon as possible. This tiny delay has installed a huge desire within him and a greater understanding of the importance of following the commandments of the Lord.

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It was hard to say goodbye, because before Tony returns, transfers will have occurred. I am pretty sure one of us is leaving because Sister Chen and I have been together for three months now. The last thing Tony said was, "I am sure who ever you teach will miss you." In his broken English. It about made my heart melt. I can't wait until he comes back from Hong Kong whether or not I am able to witness his baptism.

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We are happy to be serving the Lord in the Australia Brisbane Mission. I love my two companions and we have been working so hard. This picture is from today when we went to the temple early this morning. We were fasting as a Zone (area of missionaries) for all of our investigators to be able to accept baptism this month so that they can start the new year off clean in the eyes of our loving Heavenly Father.
May we all remember Christ this upcoming week as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. He is the reason for the season and He is the reason I am so happy despite the trials that come with being a missionary. I know that whatever we encounter in life has already been experienced by our Savior. He can help us feel peace and comfort and He will come again to bring us back to our Heavenly home.
Merry Christmas! I love you all!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tim Tam Slam

This week was one for the books! Sister Cabamongan and I have decided that this week, and all weeks that are successful, shall be called "Tim Tam Slam" weeks!
First, let me explain to all what a Tim Tam Slam is. Those cookies on the right, they are Tim Tams, a heavenly biscuit sent from heaven above down to the country of Australia. On the left is Milo. A type of malt thing that you stir into milk. We put the Tim Tams in the refridgerator for a couple of hours while we were at church. Then to celebrate our successful week we heated up some milk, stirred in some Milo and pulled out the Tim Tams. Next we bit off a tiny bit of each end of the Tim Tam biscuit, stuck the cookie in our mouth, dipped the cookie in the hot Milo drink, and sucked the steamy drink up through the Tim Tam. This creates a sensational party in your mouth. The Tim Tam melts after a few seconds, in which you must skillfully flip it into your mouth to finish eating. Repeat this process until you are slammed! This is a Tim Tam Slam--it does not happen everyday, not even every week--but this week was worthy of a Tim Tam Slam.
I will start with the heaps of people who ended up being miracles from Heavenly Father. People who have truly been prepared to meet the missionaries:
1) Yu Xing. A cute little girl, who happened to only be able to meet at the same time as Eric and Joyce. The only solution was to go on splits. Sister Chen paired up with a member from the ward to teach Eric and Joyce and Sister Cabamongan and I anxiously prepared to teach Yu Xing without a native speaker by our side. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but I studied hard and prayed diligently. Sister Cabamongan prepared a visual and I led the lesson. I was overcome with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost as I spoke the language and I could feel Him filling my mouth with words that I had barely studied. The Spirit was strong and by the end of the lesson Sister Cabamongan and I invited Yu Xing to be baptized on December 28th. Yu Xing paused and then replied, in Chinese of course, "If I am ready, of course." What joy and gratitude filled my soul. We had been able to teach and understand without Sister Chen by our side. It was an opportunity to access the gift of tongues I was blessed with when I recieved my mission call. A true miracle.
2) Arash. You may notice this is no Chinese name. Arash is a man from Iran and an ex Muslim. He speaks Persian and very very little English. Once again we were double booked so Sister Cabamongan and I were together while Sister Chen with one of our other investigators and a member. This time we invited a member from the ward who just returned from the Temple Square Mission. We thought she would be helpful in explaining things simply as she came across all different nationalities at Temple Square. Arash showed up and almost immediatle the Spirit settled in, even though we were teaching outside the KFC next to our office. We weren't able to teach very much and what we did teach was through drawings and very simple English. But, as we listened to Arash, he told us of his journey to finding Christianity. He told us about all the churches he has visited in the past three months, and then said none of them helped him feel closer to God and Jesus Christ; not until he stepped foot into our chapel. He told us as soon as he came to our church he began to feel something. He felt close to God, even though he barely understood what was going on. He has a Persian Book of Mormon and has read through 1 Nephi chapter 4. And get this! He asked us to be baptized! We are working on getting Persian teaching materials and having google translate on our fellowshippers phones so we can better help Arash understand our doctine, but he is already so in tune with the Spirit that he knows this church is going to help him come closer to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. He will have to be interviewed by President, because he is an ex-Muslim, but it is exciting teaching someone who is in tune with the feelings of the Holy Ghost. Just imagine what he will be able to do when he actually has the Gift of the Holy Ghost!
3)George. An Asian with muscles, not something we have come across a whole lot here because everyone is too busy studying to eat let alone work out! George was GQ'ed at the bus stop and it was there he told Sister Cabamongan he knew God had a purpose for his life, he just wasn't quite sure what it was. It was the perfect set up to teach him the Plan of Salvation, which is exactly what we did! At the end of the lesson George told us he knew he was suppossed to meet missionaries and that he knew he was suppossed to come to our church. He said he'd seen missionaries before, but it wasn't until Sister Cabamongan talked to him on that one day he was thinking about what his purpose in life was, that he'd been open to meeting with us. It was the perfect timing and thankfully the Lord put us at the bus stop that day at that time. Sadly we had to transfer George over to the city because he lives there, but we heard from the sisters there that George came to church and already wants to know who he needs to home teach! He is a diamond!
My last miracle is simple, but a huge blessing. We set goals every week and until this week we have been short in more than one area. Then this week we were all set to acheive our goals by Saturday and surpass them on Sunday. In came the famous rains of Australian summers. Saturday, for the first time since I have been in Australia, I woke up in a completely dark room. I was a little confused because usually the sun is penetrating the whole flat by 5:00am. Then I realized I could hear the steady pounding of rain through our open window. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Asian culture, they hate rain! They think it is going to make their hair fall out, because in China and Taiwan the pollution is so bad that it is acid rain. They don't realize the rain in Australia isn't polluted. All of our set appointments were calling us by 9am to cancell for their afternoon appointments. Faithfully Sister Chen challeneged them to wait until 2pm to call us. If it was still raining by that time, they could cancel. All morning as we studied and did weekly planning, the rain continued to pour. Then at 1:30pm we decided to have a companionship prayer asking Heavenly Father to please stop the rain so we could meet with at least some of our investigators. At 2:00 the rain stopped. We were able to meet with 2/4 of our investogators. Then the Lord provided a way for us to meet all our goals on Sunday. It was time for celebration! We 'Tim Tam Slammed' it and so we had a Tim Tam Slam celebration!
The work here is progressing, I am progressing and it is a beautiful thng to be able to see the Lord's hand in so many aspects of my life here in Australia.