Hello from Sydney!

Hello from Sydney!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 10 - Born in the city

Hello everyone! 

I'm in Sydney!! It's about time! :) Wow, this past week has been absolutely exhausting but so good! 

I left the MTC on Monday afternoon...packing until the very last minute. It was really sad to say goodbye to my sisters in the MTC. I was in tears... and then saying bye to my district in general was also really sad. We took a big bus to the airport, full of Brisbane, Tahiti , Melbourne, and Sydney missionaries!  We got to the airport and checked in the at the American Airlines counter. Thankfully we were first in line, because there were about 30 missionaries behind us. Security was easy then we went to the gate where I called all of you! It was so nice to hear your voices. I'm so glad you're doing well!! :) 

I decided to try contacting at the airport, so I talked to a lady at the gate next to me...turns out she's a Jehovah's Witness. We had a nice conversation about the similarities that we have with them and I corrected a few misconceptions about our faith. 
Then on the plane to Sydney, I sat next to a lady who believed in the energy of the earth and how meditation brings us closer to harmony with the earth. That was interesting. She was so sweet and lovely. The plane ride had some turbulence, but it was fine. I slept most of the ride. We landed in Sydney flying over the opera house and bridge. What a sight! Then we land only to find out that they lost my, Elder Vaughn and Sister Tian's luggage from SLC...  
Customs and Immigration were easy. We went to the arrival hall and were welcomed by President and Sister Howes and the Assistants, Elder Maxfield and Elder Arona. I cannot describe the love and instant connection I felt with them. Although complete strangers, I felt like I was at home. Sister Howes helped us get our luggage sorted out, and it was on the same flight coming in the next day. Thankfully I had already packed clothes in my carry-on. We waited for the missionaries that came from the New Zealand MTC. There were 5 of them: 2 elders and 3 sisters...all from NZ or Australia! We first stopped by a park to take a picture with the bridge and opera house behind us.

All of us "greenies"
 The city is absolutely beautiful!! and the weather was perfect! 

We drove to the mission office and filled out forms and stuff. Then had interviews with Pres Howes and went to their home. We had yummy soup for lunch and I got to know the other new sisters. Then all the trainers started to come in, including Elder Wilde, who is from Shanghai! We were at youth conference together. We had an orientation meeting with the trainers about expectations, rules, and an intro to the Sydney North Mission. All of us greenies were allowed to share our testimonies with the group. It's a great group of people to be with. The spirit was really strong in that room. We had tacos for dinner, and that was super good too. Anything but MTC food...haha it really wasn't that bad, just redundant and unhealthy. After orientation, people started to head out with their new companions to teach lessons and get to their area. It was weird being split up from everyone. My first area is the Harbour City Zone, which is right in the heart of the Sydney city. 

I was ecstatic when I found out my area. I had really hoped to be in the city!! My companion is Sister Kuo, from Tainan, Taiwan, and she is the best! We get along really well. She's been out for about 10 months now. She speaks Mandarin and English, so she helps me with my Mandarin. We got to the city on Wednesday night and she gave me a tour of the chapel after we dropped of our bags in our flat. Our flat has 4 sisters, so us, and Sister Ho from Lantau, HK and Sister Cluff from Texas. We get along so well. I already love them so much! I met about half of the elders in our zone that night. There are a total of 14 missionaries in our zone, which is the most serving in any ward in the mission. We're all assigned to the YSA ward, which is the only ward in the city. It's a very diverse group of missionaries, lots of Kiwis, Americans, Aussies, and Chinese. Our zone leaders are Elder Stephens and Elder Laurenson and my district leaders are Elder Marshall and Elder Easton. The other missionaries are Elder Dean, Elder Fowler, Elder Ko, and Elder Richards. The AP's work in our zone because it's closest to the mission home. There's also a thing called 'traveling missionaries' where a few missionaries will do exchanges in other areas. So Elder Brimhall and Elder Richardson (I think?) were in our zone for a few days. I was so exhausted that first night. 

Thursday was my first real day on the job. We woke up at 6:30, exercise, then eat breakfast/shower. I wasn't able to go grocery shopping, so I just had toast or cereal or fruit that's communal in our flat. Then starting at 8, we study in the morning: personal, companion, and if we have time, language study. At the start of companion study, we always do our recitations of our purpose, D&C 4, my missionary commission, and D&C 121:33-46. That day, Sister Cluff and Kuo had STL training meetings, so they went to the mission home and I was with Sister Ho. We went out finding around Victoria Park. Finding is street contacting. I was so nervous at first, but it just takes practice and then it gets so much easier. I never thought I would be scared to talk to strangers...but I was absolutely terrified!! I was scared of rejection, but then they told me that they aren't rejecting me, they're rejecting the Savior. Which is really sad and is their loss
We were able to invite people to meet with us. We met one lady on the street, from China, just visiting and gave her a chapel tour. She seemed to enjoy it. We taught her about the Godhead and that was cool. Sister Ho is so enthusiastic when she teaches the gospel. It's really cool to watch. I have learned so much from working with her. She's considered my step mom since Sister Kuo and Cluff are travelling sisters and will be gone about 10-11 times this transfer, haha. That night, we met with the Ward Mission Leader, Michael, who took us out to Japanese food. I had curry and that was SO good... 
If I have any advice, it's to work with the ward mission leader to work with the missionaries. Member involvement in the teaching process is SO important!! 

We spent most of Friday teaching our investigators. Our investigators are just so awesome! Most of them are Chinese, so I was able to use both Mandarin and English. We have a few that are soooo close to baptism, but have a few concerns about family acceptance, etc. There's Tom and Ben, who are roommates with Caesar, a recent convert. They all have such strong testimonies already. We taught Tom about family history work and it's importance. 
We also had a couple of member lessons, which are really cool. We work with them through helping them becoming missionary members. The members in the YSA ward are soooo great. They have such a great enthusiasm for the church and for helping the missionaries. 
I've already been on splits with members to go out finding. We also have quite a few members that help us with our lessons with investigators. They're such a great help to us. They help our investigators see that normal and real people, not just missionaries, can live the gospel. 

On Friday, we have what's called Friday Forum, a chance for members to meet and have lunch with a speaker. The speaker last Friday was Ray, who knows Uncle Larry and Auntie Susanna! Sister Dick, one of the senior missionaries, made Chicken noodle soup...it was very nice. Oh yeah, so the senior couples we work with here are the Nolans and the Dicks. They're all so loving and nice. They help us out so much. 

Me and Ray

Sister Kuo and I had about 7 lessons that day I think (friday..) and then the YSA have games night, so it's like mutual, but for the YSA. I got to know more of the missionaries in our zone. Elder Dick made home made cookies and those were to die for. They were fresh out of the oven!! 

Saturday was about the same. we had studying, then lessons in the morning. Then we did splits with the members and went out finding. I got to see more of the city, so that was really cool. Ah I still need to work on talking with EVERYBODY. It's honestly really scary... 
Then at 3:30 a big group of us went together to go to a baptism at the Greenwich chapel, since we don't have a font. All of the Greenwich and Ryde missionaries, I think?, were at the baptism! We had 2 convert baptisms, and that was really neat to watch. Good talks from the missionaries as well as some of the members. We had one of our investigators come and she really enjoyed it. I met the Relief Society president, Sara Stubbs, who knows Sister Nightingale and is going to HK next week!! :) She's awesome! Afterwards, we all took the train back to the city and we went to 3 Mama's which is a delicious Thai restaurant. Ahh, I love having every kind of food here. The food was so good and pretty cheap too! It seems like I'm eating a lot, but I'm really not...we barely have time for lunch. We eat a small breakfast, eat during the day if we have time, which is very rare, then have a small dinner unless we go out. Too busy to eat or be hungry haha. 

Sunday was my first sacrament meeting in the field. I met the bishop and most of the members. They're so great. It's cool to be in an area where everyone is more or less my age.  It's pretty cool. One of our ward converts received the Holy Ghost and that was really neat to watch. We also had a few of our investigators come to church. Our ward is so diverse that they have about 5 different Gospel Principles classes for different languages. so of course I went to the Mandarin one and I barely understood anything. There are 3 Mandarin speaking missionaries in our zone, 1 Korean, and the rest are English. So we all try to practice our Mandarin with each other. Then in relief society, they called the sister missionaries into priesthood to watch one of our recent converts, Caesar, receive the Melchezidek priesthood, and that was awesome! After church we had a linger longer with cake. then we had a lesson with Caesar, then went back to the flat. Sister Ho cooked us fried rice, which was good. We planned and studied a bit as well as bonded and spent time getting to know each other. Then Sister Kuo and I went to clean the teaching center. Oh right, so in our zone we can't go to members houses, and we do all of our teaching at the Teaching Center (TC) which is right below the chapel. It's a pretty cool set up. They have a lounge with computers and an air hockey table, a bunch of classrooms, and then upstairs they have a 'cultural hall' thing, a kitchen, classrooms, and the chapel. 
Afterwards we had a zone meeting, where we account for our Investigators, RC, LA's, as well as our zone culture, which I'm in charge of. It's 'how we roll', no gossip, be dignified, secret service, grattitude, and some other components that I currently forget... 
Because I'm new, I was 'spotlighted' so everyone got to ask me any questions for 5 minutes. Elder Easton asked what my favourite animal was, and I said otters because they hold hands when they sleep so they don't float away...apparently he had the exact same answer a few days ago..what a weird coincidence. it was funny. 

Wow that was a lot. I'm glad to finally have P day to rest a little. It's just so busy but the work is great!! The jet lag hasn't been too bad, so that's been nice. I'm finally getting over my cold!! I asked my District leaders for a blessing, so ever since, it's been clearing up a lot. 

My first week in the field was absolutely amazing. I've learned so much from the members and missionaries here, and I'm excited to learn so much more during my time here. I love the emphasis on miracles in our mission. As I have gone finding and have taught a few lessons, I've learned to see the everyday miracles in our lives that Heavenly Father blesses us with. 

I have already gained a testimony that Heavenly Father has prepared people for us, especially here in Sydney. Having taught our investigators, most of them are ready for the Gospel. One of our newest investigators didn't have much background in Christianity, and yet, he already sees how the Atonement of Jesus Christ helps us all. He sees the importance of praying to our Heavenly Father as well as reading the scriptures. It was really cool to see that he was aware of the changes he wanted to make in his life. 

The Harbour City Zone is such a special and unique place to people. There is so much diversity and personality among the members here. The YSA have such strong testimonies, and it's really neat to see how they all support and love each other. 

I love working with Sister Kuo. She is an amazing missionary, and I'm so glad that I can learn from her. She has taught me so much of what it means to love everyone, and express that love for our investigators and let them know that Jesus loves them.

I hope you're all doing well! I love you so much :) 
Love 爱,
Sister Lew 刘姐妹 

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