Hello from Sydney!

Hello from Sydney!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 7 - Autumn is in the Air

Hopefully only 2 more weeks before I fly to Sydney!!

Ni Hao! 

So hopefully (depending on visa, flight plans, etc.), I'll be on a plane to Australia in exactly 2 WEEKS! Crazy, right?? 

This week has been a huge learning one for me. I've had so many new insights on the Gospel and have had so many prayers answered in ways that I would never expect. Everyday, I can see our Heavenly Father's hand in my life. It's really such a blessing to have. 

P-DAY! The best day, after Sunday of course. Thanks mom for the Shirley's Peanut Butter Rolls and Cheese Bread, as well as the package of goodies! Thanks Jessie and daddy for the note and letters!!! I'm getting fat.... 

Cheese Bread and Peanut Butter Rolls from Shirley's Bakery

On Monday, we had Skype TRC, which was pretty neat. It was kind of awkward because our volunteer was using Skype on his phone, so he could see us, but we couldn't see him. He Skyped us from Taiwan, which I thought was pretty cool. The communication was a little rough, but we talked to him about the Book of Mormon and why it's so important. The Book of Mormon is one of the most powerful tools we have. When used properly, we can gain personal revelation and direction in our lives. We receive answers to deep questions of the soul. It's an amazing gift to have. 

It was freezing!!! It rained, and it was so cold... It was in the 60s.. 
We taught Zhang Wang Quan about the importance of the scriptures and how we can liken it unto our own lives. It was a good lesson. This week, we have a new batch of mandarin missionaries!! Tuesday is when the international missionaries come, so as STL's we got to pick up Sister Meyer who is from SYDNEY going to Taipei! When we picked her up, I saw Elder Pelz!! That was so crazy!!! It was nice to see a familiar face from home. We took Sister Meyer to choir with us that day. I also saw Jordyn and Sarah, so we got a Posse picture! :) 

Devotional was really good. The General YW President, Sister Oscarson spoke. She just told us about the most important advice she had for missionaries from her missionary children. Some of the things she mentioned were;
Through hard work, we can receive true happiness. 
We can't solve our problems unless we put our shoulder to the wheel. 
The work should never end if we're doing it right.
We should give our all to the the Lord and hold nothing back.
Go the extra mile.
Listen to the spirit and pray always.
We are never alone.
Expect miracles when we are obedient and faithful.
The Lord will labor with us.
Love those we serve.
It's basically everything we've already heard, but it was nice just to be reminded of it all. 

That was a cold day too... 
Wednesday is when all the greenies came in. I caught up with Elder Pelz a little bit, so that was nice.

Me with Elder Pelz and companion

A bunch of Helaman Hall'ers came in that day! Elder Daniel Bellingham is going to Taipei, Sister Ashley Poelman and Elder James Otani are going to Kobe, Japan; Sister Sarah Eckstrom is going...  oops, I forgot, but she's here; Sister Hannah Sharp and Lizzie Christiansen are going to Hong Kong! It was so fun to see all of them, especially since I was relatively close with most of these missionaries at school. 
If you're part of the Posse and you're reading this, Cat Daddy says hi to y'all! 

We had a new district come into our zone. All of them are going to Taipei except two elders. One is going to Boston and the other is going to Houston. They're such great missionaries. There are 5 sisters and 7 elders in that district. Two of them are ABC and have really good Mandarin. Also, one sister, Sister Bowman, worked in Shanghai for the past year, so she's pretty good as well. She knows the Messicks and the Allred's. Small world... But I love all the new missionaries, especially all the Sisters! They're so nice and adorable, even though most of them are older than me haha, they feel younger since they're younger in MTC age. As STL's, we had to give the orientation to the greenies about the importance of companionships, the white handbook, and then give them the tour of the campus. It's weird to think that I was doing that 6 weeks ago with Sister Howell and Sister Jackson

New sisters joined our zone this week

That night I was really struggling and so I just cried out to my Heavenly Father in prayer, pouring my heart and soul to him. So I went to sleep just seeking an answer to my prayer.

That morning, we went to the 6 AM yoga class, which was absolutely amazing and relaxing. Much needed. At the end, we meditated, and our instructor gave us things to think about so we can relax. She said that we are strong, and no matter what we do, Satan has no power to bring us down, and we shouldn't try to bring ourselves down either. Through Christ and his atonement, we can do anything and we can rise up because we know we have a loving Heavenly Father who is watching out for us and is helping us.
It was a good day after that. We cleaned the toilet stalls for service that morning. Then we studied. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and perfect. 72 degrees, blue skies, and a breeze. We taught Zhang Wang Quan, which went well. We also taught Huang Li Xin about the power of prayer, and that was a really good lesson. The spirit was strong, and she's finally starting to understand Heavenly Father's role in her life. We had a district party that night, which was really fun. All the elders brought tons of food and we were hanging out in the 'secret garden' under the stars. I love our district. We're so tight. The love and understanding we have for each other is so incredible. We all have our flaws and our strengths, and we work hard to build each other up. 

We did cardio kickboxing for our early morning workout class. That was interesting...we did lots of squats. During personal study, I accidentally fell asleep and I got lipstick on the corner of one of the pages in my scriptures...haha whoops. All of the Taipei missionaries (31 of them) who came in the same day as us got their flight travel plans since they leave earlier, Sep 5 (due to mission presidents conference in HK).  There were a bunch of rumors about visas not coming through and that the Taipei missionaries would be delayed a week, but we don't know. I think it'll all work out.

It won't be long before our district is on it's way to Taipei and Sydney

We taught a Less Active, and that was okay. It was just hard to reach him. 
We collaborated with the Taichung district, and we had to lead a discussion about the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion, and that was good. Sister Fisher and I were paired up with Sister Wawro and Sister Cardon. That was really good. The Holy Ghost plays such an important role, and it's vital that we are qualified and worthy to receive it. I got to interview some of our new sisters that night, and it was so fun getting to know them.

There was snow on the mountains when we woke up...does that seem right? It's freaking AUGUST. But the weather that day was absolutely perfect, mid 60s and sun. There was a huge thunderstorm that night, so we woke up a couple of times because of that. It finally felt like fall that day. The air was crisp, leaves are starting to change color, and I was in a sweater. We taught Zhang Wang Quan the word of wisdom, and he accepted it with no questions. I was pretty surprised and pleased. We ran into Sister Chen with her husband and daughter, Verina, who just got home from Taichung. She served with Sister Christina Tsoi! Crazy! But she told me a bit about her mission. She's so cute! She's going to BYU studying piano performance. I absolutely love their family. They're always so nice, and have the strongest testimonies. They've been so supportive and helpful over the past few weeks. 

We read Alma 5 as a district, and just recorded all of our personal insights. I love that chapter. It's just so powerful.
After dinner that night, Sister Meyer (from Aus) and Elder McLaughlin (from Scottland) had an 'American conversation', which was hilarious! Their American accents are pretty good. 
I went a little crazy that night...I accidentally lightly punched an elder in the arm, jokingly because he was making fun of me, and Elder Elliott said I had anger problems, hahah. 

That was honestly the second longest day of my life. It was so overwhelming. We had training meetings in the morning, then Relief Society. RS was really good. We talked about being devoted to Heavenly Father and to be anxiously engaged in the work. She showed us a video of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, which was really good. It just reminded me that Christ's atonement saves us all, and that God is always with us.
During district meeting, Elder Heaps and Elliott talked about the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost, which was also really good. One point I really liked is that ALL good things come from God.
That evening's devotional was given by Stephen B. Allen, and was really good. 
Some points I got from that were:
There's nothing that Heaven can't heal us from;
We must build our foundation on a rock, not the sand;
We are called of God;
Through Christ we can do all things;
We're at war with Satan, and he will do his best to push our buttons, but we can over come him when we are faithful;
We need to trust in God's answers;
The Lord will always comfort us; 
Rely upon the mercies of God;

Then for movie night, we watched one of  Elder Holland's MTC devotionals, called Missions are Forever, which was superb! He talked about how this is the only time we can be considered apostalic. 
We can't come back with any regrets. The mission will change my life and affect every decision I make. We need to keep our missions as a part of our heart and soul. 

I love you all and miss you all!!

Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Week 6 - In the MTC

This is where I'm going!!
(Thanks Sister Clark for the pretty scarf!)

Some highlights from this past week:

We taught Zhang Wang Quan (one of our Progressing investigators), and we got him to commit to baptism!! The lesson went so perfectly. He asked about the celestial kingdom because when he studied the plan of salvation, that was something he really liked, and he asked how we could get there, and then our lesson just flowed. The spirit was so strong, and I know that Heavenly Father was definitely guiding our lesson. 

I had my medical examination this week for my Australia visa.  While walking to the BYU Health Center, a white car drove by, and some Asian girl with short hair kept calling 'Sammi! Sammi! Sammi!' I had no idea who it was...I kept thinking of all the Asians I know in Provo. Then I asked Sam Lew and we think it was Allison Lew...but I'm still not sure...so if you're that mysterious person and you're reading this, let me know! Haha, it's been bugging me!! The medical examination took forever...most of the time was spent waiting for different doctors. I had to do a urine test, then a chest x-ray, which was so weird...I had to stand up right against this machine, and then it just jiggled. 

Thursday's class was mostly focused on how to teach according to the needs of the investigator, because we've had a really hard time with that. We also read 1 Nephi 21 as a district. I highly recommend you all to read this chapter. Wu Lao Shi shared a thought he had while reading this scripture, and it was "the greatest act of faith is to accept the Lord's timing". This is something I know I struggle with personally. I know I'm a control freak and I like planning things and knowing what's going to happen. But working within the Lord's time is so important. This scripture also really applies to missionaries. It talks about how we are the Lord's tools and we've been saved specifically for this time. 

On Sunday we went to Music and the Spoken Word and then Relief Society. Elder Elliott's dad played the organ...he's absolutely insane! He played the entire time without any sheet music. it was incredible. Relief society was really good. Sister Esplin, in the General Primary Presidency, spoke about how we are saved for this time. She talked about how our call as missionaries is to bless lives as we represent the Savior. Like the savior, we need to 1. Have a deep sense of our sacred responsibility, 2. Receive revelation and instruction from our Father in Heaven, and 3. Be strengthened and prove our loyalty through overcoming trials and temptation. 

Sacrament meeting was all about repentance. Elder Weber played a beautiful arrangement of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and I just bawled...it was so amazing. Then Elders Barnum and Butler sang Savior, Redeemer of My Soul, while Elder McLaughlin played the piano. That was so pretty as well. Those lyrics are just so powerful. 
It's such a beautiful song. 

Devotional was really good this week. Jenny Oaks Baker, a professional violinist and Elder Oaks' daughter did a musical devotional with her family. She talked a lot about how the Lord blesses us and how we need to recognize these blessings. She and her kids played songs in between some parts of her talk. It was just so beautiful. She's an amazing violinist. In her talk, she said how her Julliard music education was 'decent', which I found pretty amusing. 

That's about it for now...

Scripture of the week: Isaiah 55:2...eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness...This was our motto for the week :) So enjoy eating and being fat! 

Thanks for all of your prayers, love, and support. I hope you're all doing well, and I miss you all. 

Me, Elder Jacob Dyer, and Elder Dallen Peterson

Sister Fisher and me

Me and Sister Robinson
(Amy Robinson's niece who is going to HK)

Me and Sister Hansen
(going to HK, we had almost every class together at BYU)

Me watching a video

The other sisters in my district are Taiwan bound.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 5 - Hump Day

Getting ready for Asia with cutesy chopsticks and practicing the classic Asian photo pose
Sister Lew and Sister Fisher


So this week we hit HUMP DAY! I can't believe I've been here for a month already. It feels like I just got here, but it also feels like I've been here FOREVER. The time is starting to speed up though.

This week was pretty good, nothing terribly exciting happened.
It rained last week, so the missionaries decided not to be missionaries for 10 minutes, and danced in the rain and jumped in puddles.

Devotional on Tuesday was about why missionaries go to the Temple before they leave, and the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants, and performing Temple ordinances.

I hosted on Wednesday, and two of the girls I hosted were converts and had amazing stories. It's so cool to see how the Gospel reaches people in endless ways. I can't wait to work with people and to hopefully change their lives. I got the package of circus animals and fruit snacks! THANK YOU :)

On Thursday, during our study time, 5 missionaries came up to us at different times to practice bearing their testimony, some in foreign languages, so that was really cool.

One of the sisters phrased a mission as "in our whole lifespan, sacrificing 18 months is nothing, but those 18 months are everything and will change our lives, and what we do in those 18 months can give people an eternity".  I absolutely loved that because it's SO true!  

I got donuts and a package from the Rudds, so that was really sweet.  Thursday was also the day I found out about all of my visa issues, so that wasn't fun. 

The scarf was sent by Sis. Rudd
The Rudds also send doughnuts!

During class that day, we learned how to teach the Plan of Salvation in a simple way to those without a Christian background, because that's what we've been struggling with the past few lessons with our investigators. They have no concept of God and Satan, so it's hard to explain the Fall and the whole Plan of Salvation. It was really interesting trying to learn how to explain this to people who have no idea about God.

That night, we had District Donut time, and in order to have a donut, everyone had to share their love-life stories. That was so much fun. Our district has so much fun hanging out together. I absolutely love them! It was so funny, so, someone called Elder Elliott an idiot for something he did, and then Sister Jenkins says, "it's pronounced Elliot" (a quote from the movie 'Open Season'), and everyone just sat in silence and then busted out laughing, because it was so awkward and no one knew how to respond.

Friday was pretty good. We talked about the importance of commitments and agency in order for real conversion to occur. If we don't have the desire to keep these commitments, then we can't be properly converted. These commitments are essential because they help us live the Gospel standards the way God wants us to.

I got my hump day package that day, which made me REALLY excited!! The pictures and notes were so cute, thanks :) Elder Elliott, got 3 boxes of donuts that day from some anonymous person, so we had District Donut time #2. This time, we had to share our first impressions of everyone. That was really funny. Mine was usually "She's Chinese, why is she here?"

Saturday was officially Hump Day. We had our last Mandarin Sister Soccer during gym with the Taichung (older) sisters. We had TRC, which was good. We talked about the importance of revelation through the Book of Mormon. We had good discussions with the volunteers. The spirit was so strong in guiding our lesson. I

I saw Sister Jordyn Hansen on Saturday! So that was fun! She got in on Wednesday. Saturday nights are never productive...we have our study time from 5:15-9:00, and it's just so hard to focus. I ended up falling asleep during my study, because I was exhausted and the weather was beautiful outside...perfect napping weather. Then we hung out with some of the elders from the other districts in our zone. It's been really fun just getting to know everyone. Then we had our hump day party with our district, and everyone brought a ton of food. That was a lot of fun.

Sunday.... Sister Fisher and I got called to be Sister Training Leaders for our zone!! We had made deals before, and I could've sworn Sister Jenkins and Sister Strong were going to be it. But I'm excited to be a STL and to work with and serve the sisters in our zone. I already love them so much. Sunday was full of training and leadership meetings for Sister Fisher and I. Sacrament Meeting was kind of sad because the Taichung district is leaving, and they sang their farewell song. They sang "Nearer My God to Thee" a capella in Chinese, and I just started crying. I've become so close to all of them in the past few weeks. They're going to be such great missionaries. Then we had our district meeting about the Book of Mormon. I had more training meets afterwards... the new Zone Leaders are Elder Lee and Elder Eyring, so I spent most of my time with them. Then we had Sunday devotional which was SO good. Brother Heaton, administrator at the MTC, spoke. He talked about helping people find God in their lives, and had two missionaries share their conversion stories. One of them was from a girl I hosted...she was given a book of Mormon to make fun of it, and by the time she read the 8 witnesses, she felt like she got struck by lightning, and freaked out, and read the whole Book of Mormon, researched all about the Church, put her name on Mormon.org, and the missionaries came, then she was baptized. All the stories were incredible and powerful. I don't have time to go into detail, but God is real. He knows all of us personally and is watching over us all the time. They showed a really cool Mormon Message about finding God. I absolutely loved it. It's based on a true story of a convert who struggled to know God. http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages?v=3701964025001
WATCH IT :) It's so good and so powerful.

Before devotional, we usually sing prelude music. So our branch got assigned to be in the overflow since the gym is so small. The video was working but the audio wasn't, so the lyrics of all the hymns were on the screen, but we had to follow the conductor a capella, and for some reason it was just really funny. Then someone got on a piano and tried to follow along. It was pretty cool, then we started singing Nearer My God to Thee, and the audio came back on, and the spirit was so strong when everyone was singing it. We watched the Testaments for movie night. I don't know why they show that to a bunch of teenage missionaries...they had a bunch of awkward acting love scenes, and everyone was cat-calling at the kissing. It was pretty funny. It's a good movie overall. It really testifies of Christ and the Book of Mormon. but it was just weird.

Today, I went to the temple to do initiatories and that was really good. Two of the temple workers came up to me and asked if I was related to Larry and Sui Ying. Sister Christensen said that her husband served with Uncle Larry in HK. How's he doing by the way? and Sister Morris worked in the temple with Nin Nin for 18 years! It was fun getting to know them.

I think that's about it this week. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know that Christ lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and goes hand in hand with the Bible. I know that it's another testament of Jesus Christ. I'm so excited to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bring the light of Christ into their lives.

Love you all so much. Hope you're all doing well.



Sister Cardon, me, Sister Wawro

One Month in the MTC (although in Chinese it says, January or first month, haha)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 4 In the MTC

Elder Sng with the girls and Elder Musgrave awkwardly on the side

Ni Hao!
I can't believe how fast this week went by...

That was a rough day...however it got better by the end.
Elder Wheeler was really sick, to the point that if he wasn't better by today, then he would be sent home, so we fasted for him as a district. I also didn't sleep well at all the night before. So I was tired and hungry. Then for some reason, everyone was just kind of in a 'gloomy' mood, so that didn't help. The stress of learning Chinese and studying the Gospel caught up to me for the day...but it's all good. I don't necessarily know why it was as bad day, but it was. Until Devotional at least. 

Elder and Sister Groberg spoke about bearing our testimony. It was really good! Elder Groberg told incredible stories about his mission in Tonga and we watched a few clips from The Other Side of Heaven. I really want to watch that again...guess I'll have to wait 17 more months. Afterwards, I went up to them and introduced myself and Sister Groberg was telling me about how the last time she saw me, I was a baby and that she couldn't believe I'm old enough to be on a mission. Then she told me how her mom and Nin Nin used to go to the Temple together. I thought that was really cool! 

The Taipei missionaries left that morning, and it was sad but exciting to say goodbye to them. Sister Jackson ended up getting released and going home so her back can heal.  Hopefully she'll be in HK in 3-4 weeks! It's weird without them...but we've gotten closer with the other districts. The Taichung district leaves next week...which means that we'll be the oldest!! That's crazy... Saturday is hump day; I can't wait! 

Elder Wheeler came back and started feeling better. The power of fasting and prayer is REAL. 

We also hosted (new missionaries) for the first time. 2 of the 4 girls I hosted were in tears...it was kind of awkward. One of them, I don't remember her name...is going to the same mission as Michaela Forte! Perth, English speaking!! So my dorm has an elevator, which makes moving nice...I had to lift 3 heavy suitcases up 3 flights of stairs...without help. It was lovely....not. but the girls were so nice!
I also ran in to Jacob Dyer, from Shanghai! He's serving in Riverside, CA speaking Mandarin. It was cool to catch up with him. 

Honestly, I don't remember the days anymore, everything just kind of blends together. But Sister Fisher and I taught quite a few good lessons this week. Most of our lessons with our investigators were about prayer, Christ's earthly ministry, and the Plan of Salvation. Most of them were improvised because of the questions our investigators would ask. But we did surprisingly well...at least I like to think so. It's cool being able to talk about the Gospel in Chinese without having to read out of a book (like we did the first two weeks). Sister Fisher and I realized we have the problem where her gospel knowledge is so much greater than mine, but my Chinese is a lot better than hers, so during our lessons, we have to take time to translate her answers and then I say them.
The best part was cinnamon rolls! THANKS MOMMY! <3 those were delicious! Also, thanks for the package with lotions, chapstick, and stickers! :D  

We had TRC which went really well. It was a long day, but it was good. I love my teachers, Wu and Tan laoshi! They're always so full of good insight and help me learn and see things in a different perspective. Tan lao shi shared a scripture, which I just love. It's D&C 45:62, which basically says 'great things await us'. We've talked a lot about enduring to the end this week. I've learned a couple things that I never really thought about. 1. Great things await us, making the journey worth it, regardless of how hard it may seem. 2. Although we are not perfect, we can be perfect in one thing at one time with every decision we make. We can endure to the end with patience and by doing one thing at a time. We don't have to take on everything at once. 

Fast Sundays at the MTC are LONG. We study from 7:30-9:30, then have mission conference for 2 hours at 10, then have district meeting for an hour, sacrament meeting at 1:30 (testimony meeting), then an hour of more studying, temple walk, dinner at 4:30, more studying, devotional at 7, then movie night at 8, and back in the dorms at 9:30. It was a good fast Sunday. It's cool being in a testimony meeting where everything is in Chinese...well Chinglish actually. A lot of the Taichung missionaries who are leaving next week bore their testimonies. It's kind of sad :( I've become really close with Sister Porter, Sister Murdock, and Sister Turner. Sister Porter and I are planning on living together at BYU when we get back. Also, the elders in that district are way cool! Elder Sng and Elder Cook are like my older brothers. They pick on me, but help me out and give me good advice. They also yell at me when I work out. Elder Cook was in the air force academy, so working out with him is scary and intense.
Me with Sister Porter

One of the themes I noticed this Sunday was 'repentance'. Repentance is such an amazing gift. Although it can be really hard, it's something that can help us become better people.
For movie night, most of my zone watched Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. I forgot how incredible that movie is! Everyone was in tears by the end. The amount of faith the saints had at the beginning is absolutely inspiring. No one in their right mind would endure that much persecution, suffering, and sacrifice for a false religion. Their faith alone proves to me that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. 

An elder we met last week came up to Sister Fisher and me and bore his testimony out of the blue. He's from Brazil, and didn't know any English before coming to the MTC. He's going to serve in Georgia. He stopped us while we were on the way to the doctor's office and just said he wanted to bear his testimony that he knows that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon is true. It was short, sweet, and beautiful. It was the cutest thing ever. 

This week I've thought a lot about why I'm serving a mission and what do I hope to accomplish. I want to make a difference in people's lives, whether it's converting them, or simply planting a seed of faith. I want to help others recognize the happiness and blessings the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring into their lives. It's such a blessing to be part of something so amazing. 

I think that's about all for this week. 

Me and Sister Akita

Sisters in my zone