Friday, June 21, 2013

Week 51, in which I am SO hungry, and in which I meet a child who may grow up to be the next evil Transformer. Watch out, Shia LaBoeuf!

First of all, how in the world do you spell Shia Lebuf? I can't figure it out. Poor kid, kindergarten must have been rough.

Also, that subject might have been confusing. I haven't been hungry all week or something. I'm just really hungry right now, and I couldn't think of what else to say because that's all that's on my mind at the moment.

Today's t-shirt of the week! Okay, actually, it's not a t-shirt. I've changed it to anything-that's-weird-and-written-in-English of the week. This is written on the cover of a free photo album that I got after printing pictures:

The moment I saw you

You felt like a dear old friend

I want to know everything

About you

You said your name is Komi, the polar bear

You are a silly boy

But your heart is pure and kind

Makes my heart filled with joy

Yeah, it didn't even have a polar bear on the cover. So weird.

So this week a man named W joined our Cantonese class, and a few days later we visited him at his apartment and had one of the more interesting, engaging lessons I've ever had. He studied Theology at university, and he quoted all these scriptures that I say all the time: James 1:5, Amos 3:7, John 3:5, 2 Timothy 2:3-5. It was really neat actually. He seemed to really understand the concept of a restoration of the original church, and was super interested in the Book of Mormon. He was a little... quirky, but it was a really fun lesson! We met his baby and his housekeeper has well. His son? Yeah, he's the one Shia whatever-his-name-is needs to watch out for. His name? METATRON. Apparently he's named after the highest arch-angel or something? But it sounded more like a transformer to me. Anyways, he looked like a pretty normal baby, but I just kept thinking, "It's not what it seems... it's NOT what it seems!" (Name that movie and you get 100 points. Unless you're directly related to me, in which case if you CAN'T name that movie you lose 100 points and I'll never speak to you again. Exaggeration.)

So apparently they have this new assignment for some sister missionaries called 'sister training leader,' which just means that you go on exchanges with the other sisters for training purposes and you go to some other meetings, and now I'm the training leader for Macau! I'm happy about it for a plethora of reasons, one being that I get to go to Hong Kong every month haha. Obviously I'm excited to get to serve and all that stuff too. I really love the sisters here in Macau--we have six now! The sisterhood that comes from serving together is like nothing else out there.

We had so many miracles and new investigators this week! One of my favorite miracles was when we found Lorna. We usually walk the same way every time we're headed to the lighthouse for finding, but this day I just felt like we should take a different way. On our way there, we crossed over a big public square which is usually very busy, but that day it was empty. But when we got almost all the way to the other side, I felt like I needed to turn around. I did, and we saw a young woman sitting at a table in the corner, just reading. And I knew we needed to talk to her. Her name is L, and turns out she was baptized into the church when she was 8 with her mother and brothers, but her father is pretty controlling and doesn't treat them very well, and he forced them to come back and join the Catholic church. Now she's in her 20s and doesn't remember much at all about church, but she said she felt really good talking to us and has a huge desire to come back! The next day we met with her and taught her about Joseph Smith, and afterwards she said, "It's unbelievable, but I believe it!" We all felt the Spirit so strongly, and it was one of the most powerful lessons I'd ever been in.

And finding her was an answer to many prayers I prayed before my mission. All growing up, I felt like I didn't know how to listen to the Spirit and act on promptings. But I'm realizing now that that doesn't mean I'm not as good as God wants me to be. It just meant that I hadn't had enough experience yet. It takes time to really understand how the Spirit speaks to us, and as we just live our best and don't stress about it, we can trust that we're being led. Slowly, we'll learn to recognize those feelings more. But sometimes, we still won't know we're being directed by the Spirit. But it's true. God guides those who want direction. He loves us all so much, and all we need to do is listen and give him a chance to help us know what to do!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Week 50, in which I was declared the new Kwun Tong Master, and in which I am so tired. Well, that's every week. But really, I am SO TIRED.

Yes, I realize that last week I wrote week 44 by accident. I'm just trying really hard to go back in time, because I'm feeling how fast time is flying and I just can't accept it. (this is her mom, I fixed it, so you did not leaving this week as 50 so no week 49 I guess.)

T-shirt of the week: "Don't blink everyone's watching. Hey'll think you're up to something. They ned for you to be everything that they cannot be themselves." I don't really know what it means, but it kind of creeped me out.

I'm writing you from the Apple store in HONG KONG! I will be catching the ferry later today to go back to Macau, but not before we hit up MONG KOK for some serious shopping. This week has been incredible, miraculous, stressful beyond belief, and unforgettable. Sister J, Sister P, Sister W, and I stayed in Kwun Tong this week, waiting to go over to Macau, so we just went finding like crazy, trying to do everything we can to help the Kwun Tong missionaries out. When I first walked back into the church, it felt like I'd never left. Everything was so natural, it was almost like Macau had never happened! I spent a while going through the area book and member book with the new Kwun Tong sisters (neither have been here for very long) and tried to tell them everything I could about the area, the people, the tricks of Kwun Tong, and so on, and wow did I get so frustrated with myself. I felt like I wasn't telling them anything useful, and I couldn't figure out why, but as I was out finding afterwards, I realized. The most important things about an area can only be learned from experience: how lovable the people are, how many miracles are waiting behind every corner, how huge the area's potential is. Yes, we had a LOT of rejection and disappointment in Kwun Tong, but it was NOTHING compared to the miracles and the joy that I had there.

I went out finding with Sister W a lot. She just got here and she'll be trained in the Macau Chinese branch by my sweet former companion, Sister L. And WOW is Sister L lucky! Sister W is an awesome, fearless missionary, and so full of love and a desire to serve. Our first time out finding, we had one hour, and prayed that we could teach one lesson during that hour. So we walked over to a little park, and a woman named C was sitting there on the bench, so we started talking to her, and it was miraculous how much she changed as we talked to her. She started out super suspicious and hostile, but as we shared more about Heavenly Father, she relaxed, and eventually we sat down and taught her how to pray. Then she said a prayer for herself for the first time in her life. No matter how many times I teach someone how to pray, I never get over how blessed I am to be there for that special moment--the first time that they talk directly to their Heavenly Father! I love it. And the rest of the night, Sister Wilcox and I were just so in awe, so happy.

We were in Kwun Tong for a pretty momentous week! They got another set of missionaries and became their own district--there were 13 missionaries at church on Sunday (including Elder Parry, who just finished his mission). On Sunday mornings before church, all the missionaries wait out in the lobby to greet people and shake hands, but yesterday there were so many missionaries that I suggested we just make a tunnel with our arms and let all the members run through, like what the parents did after rec soccer games! I thought it was a pretty genius idea, but it didn't really catch on.

It was so wonderful to come back to Kwun Tong and to see that some people had missed me as much as I missed them! Lots of smiles, hugs, pictures, laughing, etc. Brother Y, our mission correlator, was secretly happy to see me, although he told me right away that I'd gotten fatter since Macau. Didn't faze me one bit. I was very touched though, because he said, "Do you know why I am happy to see you? Because when you first got here, you didn't know a thing. But now you know so much, you are the Kwun Tong Master! You are here to represent Elder Parry!" That was a very big compliment, because Elder Parry was here for a year and pretty much owned Kwun Tong. I graciously accepted the title of the Kwun Tong Master, and I will bear it proudly.

Did I mention how tired I am? I am so tired. Sometimes I just lie on the floor in the apartment and wonder how in the world I will get up again. But then I do and I go out and own Kwun Tong and it's sweet. Heavenly Father gives us what he needs us to have, I know that for a fact! I keep thinking about this quote from Elder D. Todd Christofferson: "[Referring to Exodus 16, the Israelites and the manna] By providing daily sustenance one day at a time, Jehovah was trying to teach faith to a nation that over a period of 400 years had lost much of the faith of their fathers. He was teaching them to trust Him. In essence, the children of Israel had to walk with Him each day and trust that He would grant a sufficient amount of food for the next day ON the next day and so on." Sometimes my faith waivers like those children of Israel, and I see how Heavenly Father is helping me to develop firmer faith and a deeper, abiding trust in him. It's hard, but good.

This week has taught me so much. It's been a refiner's fire. As much as I've loved being back here, I've also had a lot to work through, lots of disappointment in people who I worked SO HARD with who have fallen through the cracks or who have decided that Heavenly Father exists, but that they're not interested in what he has to say. It takes a lot of faith to just let them go, but Heavenly Father knows them infinitely better than I do and he will care for them exactly how they need it. I just need to chill out a little and realize that he's in control! The bottom line is that these were HIS children way before they were my friends and loved ones, so he's got it covered. I just have to do my best, and that's what I'm trying every day to do! Did I mention how much I LOVE THIS MISSION! I do.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Week 48, in which I saw as many miracles as ever, and in which I leave the country unexpectedly. It's sweet.

So I'm in HONG KONG!!!!!!!!! I knew that I'd be leaving, and I assumed it would be for a long time, but turns out I'll be in Hong Kong for only a week, and then going back to dear Macau to continue serving my sweet sisters in the international branch. Due to lots of complicated reasons that I don't feel like telling you, I'll be spending a week here serving with random people until it's time for me to return. And where, you may ask, will I be serving? Well, I had no idea until I showed up at the mission office today, but I'll be going on splits with Sister L and Sister J, the KWUN TONG SISTERS!!!!!!!!! That's right baby, I'm goin' back to Kwun Tong! I am so ecstatic, I was literally jumping up and down in the middle of the mission home, and I think President Hawks might have chuckled a little at me but I don't care. I love those people so much.

I wrote a love poem this week, and want to dedicate it to all of the sisters in the international branch:

For love, we meet until from strangers.

For love, we from the students into a friend.

For love, we become without words don't talk.

For love, we won't respectively.

For love, for your dreams, our efforts.

Joke. I found this written on a notebook and I almost bought it because it made me laugh, but then I thought it probably was one of those purchases I'd regret, so I just copied the poem. I hope you enjoyed it.

T-shirt of the week! "Why would Andy Warhol like me?" And I told her, "You shouldn't make assumptions, I hear he's very open-minded and accepting." She appreciated it.

We had so many miracles this week, one of them being that H, our recent convert, had to leave Macau on the same day I did, so I rode the ferry with her and with Sister S! Sister H is so wonderful, and I'm so grateful that I was blessed to meet her. We read the scriptures together on the ferry, and it fills me with so much joy to see her love for the Book of Mormon grow. She is already in Alma and today we read about how Ammon dominates those Lamanites, and she was just laughing and laughing when she read that part. Yeah, I love that sister.

Sister L will be leaving Macau when I get back, so naturally our last week together was just awesome. I love that sister so much! It was so easy to be companions, and we worked CRAZY hard.

We met with Sister T this week, and she has decided that she really wants to quit smoking, so we talked a lot about the power of prayer and faith, and then helped her to set specific goals for when she'll be completely off cigarettes. We helped her to write a list of all the reasons that she wants to quit, and her top few reasons were for her daughter, her grandchildren (she wants to live to see them), and God-- with those kinds of reasons, she'll definitely make it. We then helped her write down a plan of how to quit and a list of all of her allies, those people who can help her get through the worst times, and it just felt so good to be one of those allies. I am so grateful every day that God blesses me with the opportunities to help people. He doesn't need me in order to work miracles, obviously. But he lets me be a part of it because he loves me and wants to give me that blessed opportunity.

This week I met a sister who has dated her boyfriend for nine years, but she hasn't married him because she wants to have a temple marriage, and he's not a member. We started teaching him the lessons though, and he's awesome! So cool, and really wants to know the truth. And that sister is such an example to me. Eternal families are what it's all about, and I want that for my family, present and future. I love my family so much, and I don't want to lose any one of them, and through Heavenly Father's plan, I don't have to!

Anyways, we're off to Kwun Tong now! We'll be meeting with one of the members tonight, and I'm so excited to see her again! Wow, I still can't believe what's going on-- I feel like I'm in a dream, or on vacation! Heavenly Father LOVES these people, and I know that's true.