Monday, March 9, 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
I want to start by saying I've been able to witness some amazing things and have some amazing experiences the past eighteen months. I'll never adequately be able to express the feelings I have at this moment. All I know is I'm the luckiest girl. The people I've met have changed me, and I got to be apart of many of my best friend's change as well. My heart really truly honestly aches. And that's the only way I know how to describe it. And that's where I'll leave that thought.
This week was absolutely incredible. We both (my companion and I) have little time remaining, and we worked hard to be there for the sisters in our zone and teach like crazy. We were so excited to see our friend Emily be baptized on Saturday :) Honestly, one of the best days of my mission. She's from Vietnam, and she's amazing. Sister Bertha and I stopped her on the street quite a few months ago, and now we were able to see her in white. Man, it was magical. Afterwards, we had a huge hot pot gathering with all the chinese in Coventry. Just kidding. But really, everyone invited their friends, and we had recent converts, investigators, etc. all chilling together. Basically, a hot pot is where there are a few boiling pots of broth like substance, and everyone has a bowl and chopsticks, and there are lots of plates of raw fish, cabbage, veggies, and meats. You add it in to a pot and go ham. A perfect way to spend my last weekend in Coventantry (see what I did there?).
I don't know what else to say. I feel like Nephi, in that my writing is super weak, but I feel a lot deeper.
The last testimony (until later this week): The Spirit is a real being. I feel Him as I bear testimony of the Savior. Though I don't know everything, I know I'm happier when I follow the gospel. That's why I've chosen the path I have. I've come on a mission because of that. I believe with all that I have that God lives because of specific experiences I have had that I can't deny. He loves even those that blaspheme Him. The Book of Mormon has changed my life in a very real way. Without it, I could never have had the peace I now enjoy. My life is far far far from perfect. There are so many things I wish would change, but the overall sense of honest and true peace I feel overcomes that. I've loved my mission, and I shudder when I think of the life I'd have without it. I have changed.
The only way Chen knows how to smile
The last district photo
Some of my favorites. Investigator and recent convert
Investigator neve showed up faces
Monday, January 19, 2015
This week was awesome, yet crazy busy with loads of travelling. It's made the time we have to work and find very precious, so we're working hard to stay on top of everything. But here's my miracle for the week:
We met Marwan on Friday evening last week. We asked him about his beliefs in God, and he said he had none. We asked about his background and how he decided that, and he said that it just didn't make sense. We bore a simple testimony of the reality of a Heavenly Father, and invited him to learn more. It was nothing special. I didn't feel a huge manifestation of the spirit or anything crazy, but he said sure so we set up an appointment for Tuesday and went our separate ways. I honestly didn't think he'd be there for the appointment. I texted him before to see if it would still be okay to meet. He said yes, so we went to IKEA to wait for him. And there he was! Standing right outside. He was smoking a cigarette, and seemed to be deep in thought. We asked how his week was. He said that ever since he'd spoken to us, he'd felt something strange. He put his hand over his chest and looked like he was thinking super hard. He said that all he's thought about is God the past few days. He kept saying, "What if He's there? I mean, what if? I'd never thought about it before." We sat down with him, and began to teach. Honestly, I have never felt the spirit more strongly in my life. It was very real, and made my heart pound. As I talked about the Restoration and Joseph Smith, my belief in the event grew. We talked about the Book of Mormon and prayer at the end. When we finished, we gave him the book. He said, "Really? Are you sure? I can't take this.." And when we insisted, he kept thanking us. Before we left, we said his first prayer with him. We sat there silently for a second afterward. Even in the busy IKEA cafe, I felt like us three were in our own little world. We sat silently to let him feel. He told us he's never felt this strongly, and he didn't know how to describe it. And honestly, I don't know how to describe how I felt either.
Also, when I get home, I hope that you'll see a difference in me. I guess I've made many discoveries on my mission, and I've shared a lot of them with you, but here's just one more I was thinking about recently...
When I live the gospel, I am happier. Simple as that. At first, I lived it because that's what I'd learned to do. I'll be completely honest, there was a good chunk of time in my life that I didn't live it in many aspects. I didn't keep certain commandments because I didn't see the need. But there came a time where I knew something needed to change. I wasn't happy. Now I live it because it keeps me happy all the time. Things are still sad at times. I still experience normal grief and sadness from failures, but it's different. I don't know how to describe it. Ha, I guess another thing I've found on my mission is I'm terrible with words and can never adequately express how I really feel. Frustrating, but I'm over it. I just wish I could convey to you the feelings in my heart at this moment. The gospel is true! You don't even have to take my word for it. At no cost to you (actually to your benefit) you can try and live it yourself and see the difference. My pride held me back for so long from actually accepting that it brings peace. And I've seen it out here as well. And it's not just me. I've seen it bring happiness to those who are homeless, I've seen it change those who would appear to have it all - a perfect family with a career they love that brings in money and many friends. I've seen those same people sacrifice for the gospel. Some of my friends here have given up the hope of having a relationship with their parents for the gospel. They've given up careers. And the cool thing is, all these people are different. Each has different lives with different interests and opinions. The gospel has not made them the same. That would defeat God's purposes anyway. The gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is meant to make us happy and perfect in our own way.
So sorry for the rant.
And sorry for being preachy again today.
ANYWAY. Life is good.
Funny: This week a red headed 18 year old that came up to my shoulder asked if he could take me on a date when I'm done being a missionary. #truelove
Reunited at last
Friends from Wales came to visit :)
Monday, January 12, 2015
Baptism x 3: Our cute little Sarah was baptized on Saturday! She looked radiant and lovely, and she was super excited. Even though she had to go under three times, she was happy about the whole thing. I asked her how she felt afterwards, and she said, "Very very clean."
Chinese sacrament: Once a month, there is a special sacrament meeting done in all Chinese. It happened to fall on the day that Sarah would be confirmed, so she was able to be confirmed there. She was so smiley and beautiful! When I asked her how she felt after the confirmation she thought for a few seconds and then said, "Hungry." I didn't really know what to say, so I just nodded and smiled. After the sacrament, she turned to me and said, "I feel pure and peace." #heartmelt
I was able to go on exchanges this last week with sisters from all over the world: the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Taiwan... When I first picked up the sister from Romania, she was very quiet. She's only been out for 3 weeks. She didn't say too much, but I asked her some simple questions about her life, and I found out she was baptized a few months into my mission. Only a year ago! She's incredibly strong in the gospel, and going on exchange with her now did much more for me that it ever could have done for her. So blessed.
It's been raining loads, life is good, yesterday I prayed that we'd see on of our friends that went back to China, and we ran into him that night.
Sorry this is short! Love you!
My "I'm taller than my assistant picture"!
Monday, January 5, 2015
Ha. I feel totally fried. I should have written this at the beginning of my email sesh, but I did not. And now my head hurts. All the emails I recieved today reminded me of how soon I'm leaving. I feel like it's really unfair that I have to all of a sudden leave all my best friends here in the UK.
Our new year was lovely. I set the alarm for 12 so I could wake up to the new year, but then I was super annoyed when it went off. But our week has been amazing. For some reason, a few of our sisters got ill or injured this week, and since we're the closest sisters with a car, we got to make a few hospital trips. But one was on New Years Eve, so I thought of my dad and watched the fireworks as we drove on the motorway to our destinations. God loves me. #tendermercy
Text from a girl we're teaching from China:
I have decided to baptism
I nearly DIED when I read it. So cute! And so simple. She's been praying and studying, trying to figure out if this is true. She leaves for China when I go back to America, and we challenged her to really try and find her answer before then. And she did :) Her prayers are beautiful and simple. It's amazing to see the transformation of someone who doesn't have any previous knowledge of God to one who knows with all their heart that they're a child of a divine Being.
The reason I am serving a mission: In Mark 16:15, Jesus Christ says "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Many people I meet (and many people back home) question my decision to come out here and teach the gospel. I mean, it's hard and sometimes not pleasant, and many people haven't wanted to listen. Being obedient to this commandment has honestly been rough. It always will be for everyone. But, I love the Lord, and so my decision was simple in the end. The only way I want to live my life is through the teaching of Jesus Christ. We have Someone who has gone through everything on our behalf. In essence, He lived our life before we did. Why not trust Him? He's gone through it all, He loves me, and He wouldn't tell me to do something that would make me unhappy. I have not yet been disappointed in living the gospel. I am more happy right now than I have ever been in my entire life. Perhaps this may sound cheesy, but I'll never be able to express my feelings about this adequately. I don't understand everything, my life is so far from perfect, but I can be happy despite the hard things that come. So, that's why I preach the gospel. In the Mormon 9:22, it also talks about preaching the gospel to every creature. Jesus Himself taught everyone He met. And that's because He loved those people. And me, and you.
Sorry for the random scattered thoughts. I love you!
Monday, December 29, 2014
Family and friends,
We had an amazing miracle this week with our cute little Vietnamese investigator. She's going to university here, and we've been teaching her for a while. Sister Bertha and I found her on one of my first days here. She didn't have many beliefs at all, but over the last little bit she's been coming to church and making friends. Slowly, she has been able to find that there is a God, and that he loves her. This is an extremely sharp masters student who is used to experiments and evidences and proof. We weren't sure that would even give it a chance. On Saturday, I asked her what her thoughts were on baptism. She thought about it for a few seconds, and then said, "I'm ready for it." The moment she said the words, the whole spirit in the room changed. I've never felt anything like it, even on my mission. God loves this girl. My companion and I just looked at each other wide eyed. She was so confident in her answer, and was so happy. I love her more than anything!
Anyway, life is good. I love Cov. Honestly never been happier in my life. I don't think that's a coincidence. The gospel makes me happy, and that's why I share it. Perhaps that sounds cliche, but it's true. Happy New Year! Make some goals.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I can't remember if I e-mailed this last week. I don't think I did. But this past week has been crazy busy. Sister Bertha leaves for home tomorrow, and we've had loads of stuff to do and people to see before things get super hectic. It seems so surreal watching her pack her things and get ready to go back to real life. I haven't felt like that will ever be me. Everyone keeps asking her how she feels about going home and such, and I've been enjoying the fact that no one knows when I go home. On Thursday; however, I had my last zone conference of the mission. It was a special one for Christmas, but Sister Bertha and I were asked to give departing testimonies in front of all the missionaries. I still have a whole 6 weeks, so I didn't think about it much until the day of. On that day, President Rasmussen called my name to go up. As I walked and stood at the pulpit, I felt like I couldn't even speak. I looked out at all the faces of my friends. These are the people I've loved and served with for the last year and a half. Thinking about it now even makes me want to cry. I know I'm being all #cheesy and #dramatic, but I really don't know what I'll do without these people once I go home.
Before I came on my mission, I was told that love is the most important part about serving the Lord. I heard it all the time, and I kept thinking "Yeah, yeah, whatever." As I've been here and I look back, I've been able to understand love on a new level. I loved people before: my family, my friends. But out here, it has hit me in a new way. I don't really know how to describe it. I've loved deeper and more freely than in any other time in my life. Even though my family isn't here, I've loved them more as well. With each new person I meet, I love them without understanding why. I just really love people! Sorry for my little rant. I've sort of been panicking about leaving the past days because it means I won't see many of these people ever again, and it makes me feel ill to think about.
On Tuesday, we went on our last exchange for the transfer. I stayed in Coventry with another Sister. It was freezing cold, and the winds were super bitter. We were just out talking to people, but honestly we were both quite miserable. We only had about an hour of finding, but I really wasn't sure if I could make it that long. There came a point where we both just looked at each other and just read each other's minds, "Keep finding? Or go hide in the car?" It's the same situation I'm sure every single missionary alive finds themselves in. Luckily for us, we decided to stay. Seriously 5 seconds later, we bumped into L from South Africa. He seemed cool, we gave him a Book of Mormon, and we set up a time to see him the next day. When we sat down with him in our lesson with him, he told us he'd read the chapter we'd given him, and couldn't stop after that. He kept reading and reading, and couldn't wait to return from work to continue reading. We were so so excited! He told us about all the things he'd learned, sharing insights from each verse and feelings he'd had as he read. Later in the lesson, we asked him to read something from another part of the book. He opened the page super carefully, and started reading. We realized pretty quick that he really struggles with reading. He was choppy, and he struggled to spell things out. It melted my heart just listening. I was so touched that he put so much time into reading when it's such a challenge. I guess it just meant a lot more to me that he'd read so much when I realized the sacrifice.
Well, congratulations if you read this whole thing. I'll be honest, before my mission I just skimmed missionary e-mails. I love you!