Thursday, May 16, 2013

Week 45, in which I get a haircut (but sorry, no pictures yet), and in which I might have been a sniper target, but I'm not sure.

Hello from Macau! Yes, that's right, I'm still here! I'm so incredibly grateful for every week that God blesses me with here in this special land of miracles. Honestly, it must be something in the water, but miracles just pop up as soon as you look for them here.

T-shirt of the week, worn by a really buff Asian guy (Sarah, do you remember that one time with the buff Asian on campus? I hope you do, because I thought of you when I saw this guy. Anyways...) "They and week need to become strong di dovolop more power in the gym doing specific."

Although miracle-filled, this week was still not easy. Last week I was sick with some sort of food poisoning (I think), and this week I got sick again with some sort of cold/flu, and I ached and sniffed and sounded like a teenage boy with my voice cracking all over the place. No exaggeration, I used an entire roll of toilet paper to blow my nose this week. But nevertheless, we carried on! I'm pretty sure Ammon and Alma and Samuel and all those other Book of Mormon heroes didn't slow down when they had colds. We had a ward barbeque at the beach on Wednesday, and wow are our members awesome. They brought so many friends and kept telling us to teach them and meet with them. They are such good examples to me, and I hope I can be better about sharing the gospel with my friends when I get home.

On Friday we had a really weird experience that turned into a miracle. So on Thursday night the house phone rang (it rarely ever rings), and this random person who spoke okayish Cantonese said that her name was Y and that she'd met us once at Senado Square and wanted to meet us again there the next evening at 9pm. I know we'd never met anyone named Y before (that's a pretty memorable name), but we agreed. So the next night as we were walking to Senado Square, we hear someone say, "Hey, sisters!" And we see a member from Hong Kong who's visiting for a couple of days. He said he'd come with us to go meet this mystery woman, so he walked with us all the way there, even though it was raining. When we arrived at the fountain, we called Y and she said she was almost there. We waited. And waited. And waited. We called her again after about 20 minutes, and she said, "I'm here. I see you. But I don't know..." and then she hung up. And so we waited. And waited. And called her back. No answer. We waited for about 20 more minutes, and as time passed, I started imagining all sorts of explanations, but the one that kept coming back to my mind was like something out of a Bourne movie, or maybe James Bond. Senado Square is a beautiful, open square with a pretty fountain and lots of Portuguese-styled buildings, all old and tall and gorgeous. And I started scanning the tops of the buildings for snipers, because it felt like this Y character had lured us to the square for some mischievous reason. I told Sister Lau, and she immediately agreed, said perhaps someone was there to mark us, and to follow us home so that they could find the sister missionary residence. So by around 9:45, we decided to turn around and go home, but right before we left, I just felt like maybe there was a REASON we were there. So I said, "Okay, here's the plan. We walk one lap around the fountain, making our name tags as prominent as possible. Someone here needs the missionaries. And we walked less than 20 feet before someone said, "Hey, sisters!" Yeah, a member had been standing there for about 30 minutes. She'd just gotten here from the Philippines and didn't know how to find the church. We told her, "Sister, you have no idea how much God loves you." It's just such a blessing, to be able to serve others like that, to see evidence that God really is guiding us. We don't always see the results of our actions. I like this quote by Albert Schweitzer: "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green that it awakens takes time to sprout, and it is not always given the sower to see the harvest."

We've had a wonderful week working with some of our investigators. H is preparing to be baptized next week! Happy Mother's Day! I am so incredibly proud of her. She has overcome so many self doubts and has decided to have faith. And that's what it's all about, right? We all will have moments of doubt and moments of faith, but it's which moments we decide to act on that counts. We choose to act in faith, to take a step even if we don't know if it will work. And Hjust glowed after she decided to get baptized. I can feel Heavenly Father's love for her, and wow is it a blessing to be able to feel that love for others.

We helped Sister W, one of the senior missionaries, teach a lesson this morning, and it was a very memorable experience. This man, R, has an autistic son that he has taken care of for a long time. R is around 80 years old, has about 1 tooth, and has lost his faith. He was raised as a ____, but he had so many awful experiences that he has no faith in religion. He has so many questions, and can't even find it in him to try to pray to God. He can find nothing to be grateful for, and the weight of his trials is now more than he can bear. And wow does he need the gospel. He kept interrupting the lesson, kept bringing up more and more concerns, kept arguing and then leaning back and sighing and apologizing for being so argumentative. I just want to help him so bad, but his faith is so far gone that it will take a lot of patience and love and time to bring it back. But I'm so grateful that God has blessed us with opportunities to meet people like R. He wants so badly to believe, to find faith and hope. But he can't see how a loving God would create such an unbearable "valley of tears." There are so many people like this out there, so many people who need the gospel and the knowledge of the Atonement. That's what I've learned from all the hard times on my mission, is hope. Granted, my trials seem trivial when compared with the trials of others, but something else I've learned is how useless it is to compare your trials with others. When we find the light of the gospel, it doesn't matter what kind of trials we've faced, what burdens we've had to carry. We learn that we're not alone, and that Jesus Christ is there, waiting for us to give those burdens and cares to him. Elder Holland said, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." It's when we stand at the edge of what we can do and raise our leg to take the next step into what we're sure we can't do, that's when God can really show his power, prove to us that he's there. I've seen that this week as I think, "I am so tired and achy and my mind is cloudy and I sound like a man. How can I make it all the way to Senado Square in the rain? Or how can I help this sister feel that God actually cares about her? Or how can I sing to this person over the phone and help her feel the Spirit? Or how can I survive 6 hours at the beach?" But as I just got out the door, dialed the number, opened my mouth, I felt that little extra strength. It's real! I know it! And I'm so grateful for this chance to see miracles here.

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