Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When One Door Closes, the Lord Opens Another

There are times as a missionary when you wonder if you are doing all that you possibly can. I often ask myself, "Was my effort today enough?" I always feel the need to improve, it is in my nature, thanks to "goodly parents" as Nephi so wisely put it.

Last week when Sister Ng and I broke records I felt at peace, but an even greater desire to continue doing our best. All week Satan was trying to discourage us. Monday night we had a great lesson with Robin and I felt so confident that he was now ready to be baptized. Then when we were supposed to meet with him Thursday evening, he texted us and said he'd had some coffee and alcohol and felt guilty and wouldn't be able to meet with us anymore. I tried talking to him and letting him know that we were here for him. I tried to set up another appointment with him to help resolve his concerns and to no avail. It broke my heart, and I began to let Satan get hold of my emotions as I felt like I was a bad missionary. Sister Ng was really good though and helped me come to understand that everyone has agency and as missionaries we have to respect that and hope that one day things will change.

Then the rest of the week our appointments kept falling through. I was getting really frustrated and wondering why in the world this was happening! I will forever be working on the virtue of patience. Then one night as an appointment fell through and I didn't feel like talking to anyone, I decided to just get over myself and go talk to the next Asian I saw. Lo and Behold I go up to this guy and say, "Hello, how are you today?" He said good and then asked, "Where are you from?" I am usually the one to ask that question and was caught off guard a little bit. I cheerfully answered, "America. I am a missionary. Have you ever seen a missionary before?"

"Nope."

"Do you have a religion?"

"Do you want to learn about God?"

"Yes."

"Do you have time this Saturday?"

"Yes."

Then just like that I knew why Heavenly Father needed our appointment to be cancelled and we needed to go out GQ'ing instead. God works in mysterious ways that is for sure.

We also had trade-offs this week. Usually I am not a big fan of trade-offs because the English Program is so different from the Chinese Program and well it just isn't as effective I like. However, I hit my knees like I always do when trade-offs approach and plead with my Heavenly Father to allow me to learn at least one useful thing. Guess what? God answers prayers.

I stayed in my area with Sister Young. I was a bit nervous because we had an appointment with a former investigator who only Sister Ng had met and he was from China with not so good English. Seeing as my companion for the day couldn't speak any Chinese I knew that I would be the only one speaking. Thankfully, a Chinese member was able to help us out and so that gave me some comfort. During the lesson I was amazed at how well I could explain the Plan of Salvation. I could remember all the words I usually struggle with (like the three kingdoms of glory). I was also blessed to understand Tom's questions and it was just a great feeling. With a native companion, my confidence in the language went down a little bit because I am obviously not as good as them, but on trade-offs I was able to realize that my language ability is good enough to get the Lord's work done.

The big thing I was able to learn from Sister Young is that when we feel our faith is not enough to baptize, as I had been feeling ever since Robin dropped us, we need to start thinking of things to sacrifice in order to receive extra blessing from the Lord. Sister Young challenged me to make a list of things I can sacrifice everyday. Small things that could help me focus more on my purpose as a missionary and yet draw extra blessings from Heavenly Father as well. She promised me as I sacrificed the Lord would help me to baptize.

Yesterday was the first Chinese Regional Conference where all Chinese missionaries in the mission, all 30 of us, gathered together and had training that actually could apply directly to our missionary work and language studies. It was amazing. President Henderson spoke to us and he has some things in motion that are really going to start putting things into play. He talked about technology a lot, so I am hoping iPads are coming soon...we shall see!

I hope all is well in the states! Transfers are next week I am probably staying put.  I love you all and pray for you. I know this Gospel is true. I know if you follow the commandments of God you will receive blessings from on high. Until next time <3


Monday, April 21, 2014

Time to be BOLD

May I just say that cities are not for wimps. I may have been a wimp once upon a time, though I like to think not, but I can assure you all now that I am no longer a wimp, especially when it comes to standing up for my Savior, Jesus Christ.

This week was the week before the Easter Holidays and so the city was either bursting at the seams with people or there was nobody to be seen. Michael Buble made an appearance as well as Nickelodeon and as always so did the missionaries. On Tuesday I was getting pretty frustrated because no one was interested and no one was actually living here in Australia. It seemed like the only people I came in contact with were here on holiday. Finally I saw a familiar face of a girl i knew lived here. I had talked to her before and she didn't express any interest, but I said, "Suanle" and went and talked to her.

As we talked I could feel the Holy Ghost guiding our conversation. There was a window of time when she expressed that actually she wasn't a member of the church she was attending, but was visiting to see if she liked it. I BOLDLY told her she should come investigate our church as well. Then I shared a brief summary of how Joseph Smith did the same thing until he prayed and asked God which church was true. She said okay and we will be meeting with her later this week.

Wednesday the Jehovah Witnesses were out and about trying to tell people all about Jesus Christ. I think it is a little funny that they don't celebrate Christmas or Easter but those are the only times of the year when they come out and try to get people to join their church. Usually I try to avoid them, but a lady captured me! I was walking towards a man to go talk to when she said, "Oh my Sister!" Usually only members say that, and this lady was dressed pretty modest so I thought oh dang I don't recognize this gal from church, better say hello. So we start talking and then she asks what I am doing. I told her I was out talking to people about Jesus Christ and how he can help everyone! Then she folded her arms and said, "Oh really? Teach me." Naive little me thought she was really interested so I began sharing about the God head. That's when she pulled out her iPad and asked me what version of the Bible I used. I told her King James. That's when she tried to convince me that Jehovah was God's name and that Jesus Christ was not the Old Testament God. I tried to tell her the truth that God was not Jehovah, but it was to no avail. She began to bash Mormons and I was about to have none of that so I BOLDLY recited:

"I am called of God. My authority is above that of kings of the earth.
By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
He is my master and he has chosen me to represent him.
To say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me.
My voice is his voice, my acts are his acts, and my doctrine is his doctrine.
My commission is to do what he wants done, to say what he wants said;
To be a living, modern day witness in word and in deed of the divinity of this great and marvelous latter-day work!
How great is my calling."

I then told her that if she wanted to truly know Jesus Christ that I would invite her to read the Book of Mormon because that's how I came to know Jesus Christ so personally. I wish I could have seen her face as I walked away.
Friday was a bit dry because all the stores were closed. We GQ'ed all the day long. As it was nearing 6pm, the time we have to leave the city on Friday and Saturday night, Sister Ng found a person to talk to. I was calling through numbers because there was literally no one else on the street. I looked up and saw a group of three intoxicated men. BIG MEN. One ran across the street and draped his arms around the guy Sister Ng was talking to. One walked away and one looked right at me just as I hung up the phone. I looked over at Sister Ng who seemed to still be teaching as the drunk "hugger" had moved on down the street. However, my guy was still looking at me when he said, "I'm glad you hung up the phone." My heart stopped for a fraction of a second and then he said, "What are you doing here on Good Friday?"
My heart relaxed and feelings of peace filled my soul. I told him I was a missionary for my church and we were in town sharing the message of Jesus Christ. As we talked I guessed he was the least intoxicated of his friends. Daniel opened up to me about how he was getting ready to marry the love of his life in just two weeks. The Holy Ghost prompted me to ask him if he loved his fiance enough to be with her for eternity. He didn't pause very long before saying, "I thought that's kinda how it works." I told him yes, but we have to do certain things in order to have that forever family. As we talked he wanted to know how I had come to have such great faith. I told him mainly because of the Book of Mormon. That's when I pulled out the copy of the English Book of Mormon I had felt inspired to put in my bag earlier that morning. It is also when his two highly more intoxicated friends decided to come and see what we were talking about. The really big guy that had previously hugged Sister Ng's person saw my Book of Mormon and said, "Oh come on none of that crap." Daniel tried to push his friend away, but it was getting a little rough and I was backed into a corner at this point. Sister Ng tried coming to my rescue, but she is so very tiny and the biggest guy just scared her until she was standing right next to me. Despite all of this, the only thing I could feel was the Holy Ghost urging me to give Daniel the Book of Mormon.

I could see Daniel really wanted to hear how I had come to know the Book of Mormon was true and so I took a deep breath and then began to BOLDY tell my story. I made it brief and made sure my voice carried over the really drunk guy. When I said, "That's how I came to know the Book of Mormon to be true..." a sudden silence filled the air. I testified that the Book of Mormon could help Daniel's desire to have faith become a reality and that it was the only book on the planet earth that could change his life forever and lead him to an eternal marriage. I handed him the Book of Mormon with two hands so he'd know that it was a special book and then said, "We have to get going."
The silence was broken as the big drunk tried to block our way out, but we shoved our way past and ran to the bus station. It was 5:55 and we had five minutes to get out of the city.
Well that was the exciting adventures of this past week! Oh Sister Ng and I also had a record breaking week. We had a total of 52 proselyting hours (which is made of of lessons and finding) and 30 potentials (people we've taught or people who agreed to meet with us). It was a week where every night I fell into bed completely exhausted and woke up praying desperately for the strength of the Lord as it seemed every ounce of my own was gone. We worked hard, saw many mighty miracles and are continuing to work hard this week to become better week by week day by day.

Also had interviews with President and I was able to just sit and chat with him and got some really great pointers on how to become a better missionary. It was my first interview where I didn't go in with a problem, rather just wanted some advice. It was great. I love President and Sister Henderson. One thing President told me was "Celebrate, you deserve it."
I am at peace with the direction I am headed. Month 10 of my mission is here and I can't believe how fast time is passing. I am just glad I am trying my best and that the Lord is able to do much with my best. I love you all!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Do I Stand For?

Often as we walk the city streets there are multiple street side shows going on. We never stop to watch, but that doesn't mean my ears don't hear. This past week a group of high school students were singing and the words to the song asked, "What do I stand for?" As I continued walking and talking to people the words stayed with me and I pondered the question in my heart: What DO I stand for?

I stand for Jesus Christ. It is the plain and simple truth. So simple and yet because of my knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ I am helping so many people change their lives and come closer to Christ, as I personally change and come closer to my Savior as well.

This week we taught a girl named April who is going to be baptized on the 26th of this month. We taught her about the Law of Chastity and she told us that she had some problems with her boyfriend and was worried if she told him about the Law of Chastity it might end the relationship. I could only understand what she was saying and had no idea how to address her concern with my level of Chinese. Usually this is never a problem because the Asian culture believes so strongly in waiting until marriage. However, Sister Ng was amazing in explaining that main reason God gave us this commandment was so that we could develop lasting relationships that could weather anything. The Holy Ghost was so strong and my love went out to April. At the end of the lesson we committed her to talk to her boyfriend and then start living the Law of Chastity. She said yes. She also made a sacrifice on Sunday and came to church to watch General Conference. It was the Sunday Morning Session and she paid very close attention. She was also dressed so cute in a dress and when I talked to her I could sense the change that is starting to take place in her.

Robin is still going strong towards the 26th of this month. When we first committed him to live the Word of Wisdom Robin was a little hesitant because every morning he goes to a cafe with his friends to discuss homework and stuff. Well Monday morning Robin went to meet up with his friends and as he relayed the story to us, spent 10 minutes at the cash register asking the worker if they had anything that tasted like coffee but didn't have coffee in it. They suggested tea, in which Robin said no I can't drink that. Finally, they suggested hot chocolate. Robin showed us a picture of his large hot chocolate. He was so happy to have made the decision to follow the Word of Wisdom. He's a funny guy.

While I have been in city I have been finding it hard to find those special souls like I was finding in SunnyBank every week. But much like SunnyBank after two weeks of really hard work in finding people on the streets the Lord is now willing to place into my hands the prepared souls. His name is Eddie and I met him on Queen Street amongst all the chaos of the city. Anyways on the street he asked me why there were so many churches. Perfect question. I whipped out my Restoration pamphlet and began to give a brief overview of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Afterwards I prayed with him and asked if he would like to meet again. He said yes! We met with Eddie on Saturday at the chapel before Priesthood Session of Conference. We taught him about the Book of Mormon. He opened up to us and told Sister Ng and me a little bit about the challenges he is facing in life right now. He said the thing he desired most in all of this was peace and comfort. I shared with him my favorite scripture in 2 Nephi 4: 20-21 "My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh." We told Eddie that if he would begin to read the Book of Mormon and pray everyday that he would start to feel that peace he so desired in his life. We then invited Eddie to be baptized and he accepted for the 17th of May.
I love being a missionary. It was such an uplifting week with teaching many good lessons and then of course the power of General Conference! I loved Gary E. Stevenson's talk about athletes and the 4 minutes we have to perform. I was quite emotional as I thought about how much volleyball has assisted me in performing during the "4 minutes" that is our earth life. I sure miss volleyball everyday of my life, but I am so grateful that I am able to use the lessons I learned in the gym out in the mission field.

I know this gospel is true. It brings happiness to my life and comfort to my sorrows. I am stronger because of my belief in the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. What do I stand for? I stand as one called of God to spread the truth and light that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"...For he knoweth whither he hath taken them."

Imagine finishing a great lesson and having the Spirit with you and then you go into the heart of the city to GQ. That's when African drums start beating as loud as they can on the street stage and a couple meters down the street a man is trying to earn a living doing magic tricks. A couple meters up the street a man is playing every love struck emotion through his deep throat-ed saxophone. Across the street is the weekly hustle and bustle of the farmer's market. Amongst all these things of the world I must focus and find someone who will listen to the pure and simple message of Jesus Christ, with no flashing lights or heart throbbing music, only the warmth of the Spirit to assist me as I square back my shoulders and go forward. Such has been the challenges of week 2 in the city.

Through all the challenges Sister Ng and I were not without miracles. One of our investigators who hasn't been met with in a long while but is on date for the 26th of April was able to meet with us and when we reminded her of her baptismal date she was still good for it. She is reading and praying everyday and making some real progress.

The other miracle is Robin. I found him in SunnyBank while I was there and found out he actually lives in city so we are teaching him. He went to church for the first time yesterday and loved it. I think the fast-breaker afterwards really helped, but he also loved the music and the feelings he had. The miracle was that the ward just embraced him. They made a real effort to welcome him and make plans with him for during the week. Robin is a bit shy at first, but once he started warming up to everyone he loved it. As we walked him to the bus stop he started talking about he thinks he would like to be a missionary. I told him the first step was baptism and then we will worry about him serving a mission. It is exciting to see his enthusiasm grow.

A funny story about Robin. We were teaching him the Law of Chastity, sometimes an awkward lesson, and it was Friday night. It is getting close to the time when missionaries have to leave the city and we are wrapping up the lesson. I start talking about how the Law of Chastity is a protector and then right as I am listing the things we avoid (porn, homosexuality, etc.) The band that was putting on a concert later that night decided to do a sound check. They start jamming out and I so I yell, "WE DON"T HAVE SEX BEFORE WE ARE MARRIED, NO PORN, AND TRY TO KEEP CLEAN THOUGHTS." Robin just sat there and nodded in agreement and everyone sitting around us just looked at the crazy Mormon girl (we teach Robin in English because he is from Hong Kong and his Chinese is not so good). Then we said a prayer and raced out of the city. As we were going back to the bus station, Tina, our member present from SunnyBank, said, "I am so glad I was taught in the office, so much easier to feel the Spirit and no distractions." I nodded my head in agreement and my heart ached a little bit. I miss SunnyBank's environment so much, but that's not where the Lord needs me right now.

The city is not the place I envisioned hastening the work of the Lord. I didn't think the Lord trusted me this much, to send me to a foreign land to be part of the start of the Sisters Chinese Program and to speak Chinese. Sometimes I feel a little lost and wonder if I can really do this. Yet this morning in personal study I was reading in 3 Nephi 17:4 where it says, "...for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them." I know the Lord can see the bigger picture. He knows exactly where I am all the time. He knows what I am capable of and He knows that these challenges I am facing right now will benefit me in the future. I can't help but reflect on my high school volleyball days; full of challenges and yet they are held in my memory as some of the best times I have ever had in my life. I know that if I continue to work hard the same will be thought of my mission here in Australia Brisbane.

Thanks for all the birthday letters and packages! I think I have received them all. A shout-out to my South Carolina friends who remembered my birthday. I love you all!

P.S. I just found out Tony is getting baptized this Saturday for real! He has passed the baptismal interview and everything! Prayers are always answered, sometimes after a long time, but always answered!