Hello from Sydney!

Hello from Sydney!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 3 - Update

Hey y'all!

I've survived 1/3 of my MTC experience so far, so yay! It's crazy how fast and slow the time goes by. I feel like it was forever ago when I said bye to you... :( 

We started TRC (Teaching Resource Center) where members come in and we teach them as members and have discussions in Mandarin. It was pretty cool, and they were really helpful. One guy actually brought in a nonmember so we got to teach him. It's neat to have discussions about the Gospel, in Mandarin and to share each others' experiences and testimonies. 

One of our districts leaves today/tomorrow (Elder Francis is going to Auckland, and everyone is going to Taipei and hopefully Sister Jackson gets to go to HK  (health problems)). It's kind of sad because they're like our big brothers and sisters. Our zone has become so close this last week. We're just one giant family. We also got a new Taichung district on Wednesday, so we're no longer the greenies. But it's been fun hanging out. We all work out together, eat meals, and 'study' during additional study time. We said bye to Elder Francis today and the whole zone gathered around to send him off, and we had zone prayer. The spirit was so strong...I just can't wait to go to Australia and serve the people there!!! 

I learn so much everyday. My notebooks are filling up with scriptures, insights, and revelations. This week, most of our lessons that we've been teaching and studying for have been focused on the Atonement. The Atonement is such a powerful tool. In our district meeting yesterday, Elders Heaps and Elliot talked about the importance of faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was really good. I think sometimes we think that the Atonement won't work for us, or we just don't deserve it, but when we think about it, that's just really selfish to think that. Christ suffered for everyone's trials, pains, sickness, afflictions, and sins. To not accept it is basically saying that we're too good for Him and that he suffered death for nothing. I love the Atonement, and studying it this last week has been super inspiring. 

The language has started coming along this week. I feel a lot more confident in my Mandarin. No where near being fluent, but I can have actual conversations, so that's a start. I started reading the BoM in characters, to pinyin, to English, and although it takes FOREVER, it's been really beneficial to both my language and spiritual learning.

I'm starting to get more comfortable with teaching investigators...but it's still hard because I can barely organize my thoughts in English...having to do it in Mandarin takes 10 times longer! 

Another focus this week in our class was learning how to study, plan, and teach according to our investigators needs. I liked the way Tan Lao Shi phrased it, as missionaries, we sacrificed our agency for 18-24 months. Everything we do, during planning, individual, companionship, and language study is all for our investigators and their needs, and ultimately for The Lord.

The mission has been such a humbling experience. "Forget yourself and go to work" is the best advice for a mission. my focus is on my companion, the people, and Heavenly Father. As representatives of Christ, we need to obtain his character, and his character is to turn out and reach out to others when the natural man inside ourselves would turn in and be selfish, something I know I need to work on. 

One thing I've really learned is to study and prepare well and then listen to the Spirit...without one or the other, we don't have a lesson. 

In the devotionals and talks we've had this week, the main focus was on exact obedience and to love the people you serve... I feel like that's all anyone talks about, so I guess it's pretty important. 

I've never been so tired in my life. It's just so exhausting every day, but it's good. Life with a 24/7 
companion is a little tough, but I do love Sister Fisher.

I ran into basically half of my freshman ward this week. Most of them are on West Campus but they come up here for P-day, so that's been fun. 

I hope you're all doing well!

Love and miss you all dearly <3 
Sister Lew

Cake Bites from Sweet Tooth Fairy

Packages this week from the Hawkins and Clark families!  Thank you!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 2 - Snippets from my letter home.

Ni hao!

I hope you all are doing well!!! It's been the longest week ever...but it's been good for the most part. We're finally starting to get into a routine which is nice.
Our typical day: 
6:30 Wake Up
7:00 Breakfast
7:35 Workout
8:55 Personal Study
9:55 Companionship Study
10:55 Language Study
11:55 Lunch
12:30 Additional Study Time
1:30 Class/or teach an investigator
4:30 Dinner
5:15 Class/teach an investigator
8:30 Additional Study time
9:00 Planning
9:30 Return to Residence
10:30 Lights out

It gets a little redundant but it's been good. We switch our exercise every day so sometimes we do weights, or cardio, or play soccer or four square. I actually made a couple of goals playing soccer!! :) apparently I'm good? Just kidding.   
The stress is starting to come, but I've been trying to keep a good balance of food, exercise, fun, and studying in my life. I think it's working...I haven't had a meltdown yet, so that's good! 
I keep running into random people that I know, like one kid I went to EFY with 4 years ago. Or I see people from college, or siblings of people I know. I said goodbye to Sister Whittaker last night. She's so amazing and I know she'll do wonders in Budapest!!   
I love my district! We've had some fun this week... Just joking around, being normal people and not uptight missionaries. Elder Wheeler just keeps telling us the funniest stories from the army and Elder Vaughn is the little brother that we all love. He's the one going to Sydney with me. Oh yeah, I met people from Oz who know the mission/presidents pretty well. So, I've talked to them about it. I've also gotten to know my zone really well this last week. They're all so fun and funny as well as so spiritual. It's so cool! I love my zone. We're like one giant Chinese speaking family! We have missionaries going to Taipei, Taichung, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland, and stateside. It's pretty cool  
My Chinese just keeps on growing...it's a lot of work and studying, but I've really enjoyed it. Wu lao shi asks me to translate for him quite a bit...The other missionaries in my district are also really improving. It's really cool to watch and witness the Lord's hand in all of our lives. I actually am "studying" the scriptures now, and there is so much power and truth to them. I love it. My testimony of the Book of Mormon keeps growing. I know that the Lord inspires us when we read the BoM. Even without specifically looking for something, I'll come across a scripture in my personal study that will help with a lesson or it's something that I just needed to hear. 
I love being in an environment where we're all here for the same reasons, and that is to invite and help others come unto Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is just so wonderful and brings so much happiness into our lives. We see that happiness and light of Christ in every missionary here at the MTC. It's absolutely beautiful. The random testimonies, or scriptures that people share, or random insights can bring so much light into our lives. 
Sisters Fisher, Lew, Jenkins and Strong

Me, Elder Robison & Sister Jenkins

Other sister missionaries from my freshman ward (David John Hall)

My district

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week One - In the MTC

The last 5 days have been absolutely crazy! But a good crazy!

I've seen so many people here from BYU! It's a big reunion, so it's been a lot of fun to see everyone walking around, all dressed up with a name tag. I also met Sister Robinson's niece who's going to HK and one of the elder's in my zone, Elder Peterson, is from Shanghai so he knows the Messicks and other people there. 

The missionaries in my zone and district are phenomenal! One of our zone leaders is Elder Okeson who I went to youth conference with 2 years ago...he's from Suzhou! Our zone is our branch and I love our branch presidency!! One of the counselors served in HK for a few months...well Macau. And one of the other counselors knows the Palmers... 
Our sister training leaders, Sister Howell and Sister Jackson are so great! They're so spiritual and loving and fun to be around. Sister Jackson is actually going to HK in a few weeks so look out for her!  Most of my district is going to Taipei, Taiwan except for me and Elder Vaughn.  He's from Tennessee, just graduated HS, and has never spoken Mandarin before. My district is made up of 4 sisters and 6 elders. We're the only 4 new sisters in our zone, and we all room together, so we're already so close. My companion is Sister Fisher.  She's super nice and sweet and we get along pretty well for the most part. It's weird having to be with someone literally 24/7....I'm not used to it. The other sisters are Sister Jenkins, who actually lived in David John Hall... and Sister Strong. They're so much fun to be with. The other sisters in our zone are also so great. I feel like we're all best friends already and it hasn't even been a week. There's a special feeling here that's so unique. 

The MTC is such an amazing place. The moment we started orientation with the welcome meeting, there was an incredibly strong spirit. I don't even know how to describe it. It's amazing to see that 85,000 young adults are out serving because we all have a love for this gospel. What teenager/young adult would spend 18 months - 2 years of their life disconnected from everything and everyone to share the gospel of Jesus Christ if it weren't true?? That in itself is a testament that this gospel is true. 

We study about 10-11 hours a day. We have Chinese class with our district where the teacher only talks to us in Chinese. Four of us have already studied a little, so we help translate for the rest of the class. It's been good for me to review as well as learn. My Chinese has improved so much and I know it's because of Heavenly Father's help and the Gift of Tongues. I'm so impressed with how fast the missionaries in my district are learning Chinese. There is no way we could be doing what we are doing without the Holy Ghost. We've taught 2 lessons in Chinese, which were pretty scary. But they went well! Although my gospel vocabulary wasn't big enough to answer a lot of our 'investigator's' questions, I could understand almost everything she was saying, which was a relief to me. It's crazy how much I speak Chinese here... I lived in HK for 18 years and i've spoken more Chinese here than I did there. It's been so good. I'm always embarrassed to say I'm from HK and don't know Cantonese or Mandarin... But everyone says my Chinese is pretty good (teachers, branch presidency, and the older missionaries), so it makes me feel better about my inadequacy to speak more Chinese. In sacrament meeting, they randomly select people to give short talks or testimonies in Chinese, so of course, I was picked, along with Elder Eyring (Pres. Eyring's grandson!!!). I was surprised that I was able to do it! I read it from a piece of paper...but I pronounced everything right without messing up. I can also pray in Mandarin which I thought was a huge accomplishment. 
My testimony has grown so much these past few days. I know that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and knows each of us. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and translated the Book of Mormon in our day. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers and that he is looking over all of us. 
Studying Mandarin

My District
Provo Temple
My friend Kitty who works in the MTC
My companion Sister Fisher

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hi everyone! 

I have been called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Australia Sydney North Mission, speaking Mandarin! I report to the Provo MTC on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. During this time I will not be able to use my personal e-mail, social media, or phone. If you want to see what I'm up to, you can check out this blog! Or you can e-mail me at samantha.lew@myldsmail.net or write me at
Sister Samantha Ying Lew
SEP10 AST-SYDN 2007 N 900 E Unit 18 Provo UT 84602

This address will be good until September 8, 2014. I'll post my Australia mailing address when I get there. I would love to hear from you all! 

See you in 18 months! 

Sister Lew