Hello from Sydney!

Hello from Sydney!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last week as a greenie!!

My district
So it's my last week as a greenie! Crazy! It's the last week of my second transfer in the field...which scares me. I have a feeling that Sister Kuo might go....
This week went by so fast!! and I can't believe this Thursday is Thanksgiving!! Thank goodness we're celebrating Thanksgiving :) All the Americans in the zone are super pumped! 

This week, Yan Lin has just been AWESOME! She's come to FHE, institute, the ward activity, a baptism, AND met with us! We are so excited for her baptism on Saturday. PLEASE PRAY that all will go well this week because we know Satan will do everything he can to stop her from being baptized. She really is special. She is so prepared for this Gospel. I see her being such an active example for women in the church, especially in Singapore! 
Yan Lin has also started inviting and bringing our friend Nora to all of these activities, which is sweet. Nora is also from our English class and she's from Mongolia. She has pretty good English, but it's sometimes hard to communicate. So we're slowly working with her. She's come to institute for the past 2 weeks on her own without being invited by any missionaries. Amazing! 

Theodore's baptismal date is pushed back because meeting with him is pretty hard...but he's still good. 
Frances hasn't been replying to our texts, so we're a little concerned.
Amin is great and is progressing well. 
We had a really good finding day this week. We went with Sister Yamashita and just talked to EVERYONE. and we were able to teach everyone we talked to, make return appointments with most, and ended up having 4 new investigators in that hour and a half. MIRACLES! Heavenly Father ALWAYS provides a way. 

I learned that I have no patience in teaching English 1-on-1 to those who can't speak English...we had a lesson with this old Chinese man who can't speak or read English, so I have to use Mandarin to translate, and it's just maafaan, but it's good. He's really sweet...Heavenly Father is trying my patience. 

So chapter for the week for y'all...Alma 32. FAITH. I love this chapter. We shared it with one of our investigators, Tom. We need to ACT on our faith in order for it to grow. If we don't do anything after baptism, then what's the point of being baptized? Salvation only comes through acting on our faith. 

Something of concern that's come up is our investigators and RC's finding anti-LDS-lit/sites, etc. WHICH IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING THING EVER. but It's okay. We're working lovingly and patiently. They have all sorts of questions on polygamy, race, women and the priesthood, etc... 
I find it hard to tell people they need to pray and have faith to receive their answers... but we're not supposed to really go in depth. We use the scriptures as well though. 
Also, Hillsong...that church. Great music, great message. But they keep attacking us and our investigators and RC's...please just let it stop...

DTM this week was on asking questions, which has been a theme this transfer. Asking inspired questions is so important because that is when we are really trusting the spirit and that is when we allow the spirit to work in the person. Sister Dick came up with one which was brilliant. "If God communicates with his children, but doesn't use His voice, how does he talk to us?" Inspired questions are ones that make people really think about the WHY of the Gospel. 

Lately, there's been A LOT of focus on the Chinese members in our ward and our investigators and building the Chinese program. Sharon Wang is amazing. She's been working with the bishopric and missionaries to help us understand their thinking when introduced to the Gospel. She's also VERY aware of the situation of the church in China. Since most of the Chinese are students and are returning home for the holidays or for CNY soon, we're ordering all materials so that every one can bring 1 copy of everything back with them to China. This is also great for our preparation of our Chinese Conference this Thursday!!! We are so excited. All 20 of the Mandarin speaking missionaries in this mission will come to the city for this conference. We have sweet trainings, panels with Chinese converts, etc... It's going to be so good! This is the first one, so we're really hoping that this will have a long term effect in terms of China opening up. 

On Saturday, we were supposed to go to a stake YSA activity that our ward was hosting, but then because it was near the beach, the ZL's said to turn around (since we were on our way on the bus) since it was pretty inappropriate for the missionaries. I love having such obedient missionaries who are able to make calls like that and can do so boldly. 

Anyways...I think that's about it for now. I love you all and hope you are all doing well. Enjoy this Thanksgiving. I really am SO thankful for being part of such a wonderful family. I'm thankful for your examples and your love. I'm thankful to be serving in the most beautiful city (aside from HK) to do the Lord's work. I'm thankful to have the Gospel in my life. It is the biggest blessing and I would not be here if it weren't for the Gospel. 

Sister Lew

The Mockinjay symbol is everywhere in Sydney!

We made cookie dough this week just to eat.  Sister Kuo is digging in!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 19 - #Spoiled!

First of all, Sydney is bipolar when it comes to its weather...just like HK and Utah. Hot-as... one day, and then super cool the next... It's nice, I just never know what to wear.

Secondly, Thank you for all the love this week!!! 

Daddy, Thanks for the stationary and the happy lab and vitamin C!!! :) 

Happy Lab popcorn and chips!!

Then I got a package from Victoria 1st youth/primary!! I loved it!
Gwenyth drew me a handsome prince haha. Also...I don't know half the youth that wrote letters but that's okay. Who's Sky? I got a letter from him from the primary bunch... 
Mom, please tell Hugo thanks for the 'dear john' and that I am heartbroken, but will move on. Also, tell Sister Gabon and the Clarks thank you so much! I really appreciate their love and support. It was so sweet of them!!

Care package from Victoria 1st Branch Primary and Youth

This week was good! 
On Monday I met a potential cousin...we showed Ariel around the city a bit. She's awesome! We walked into the TC and saw her, and Sister Kuo freaked out because they were friends at the Y. She's here on working holiday, and then we made the connection that her sister is dating Steven in Taiwan!!

Sister Kuo, Ariel and me

FHE was good! Leslie taught about using our talents and potential...that's been a major theme lately...so I guess Heavenly Father is trying to tell me something.
Tuesday, we had interviews with President and Sister Howes. Those went well. We just spent time getting to know each other more.  We discussed concerns, expectations, what I like. I was able to reflect a lot on my mission so far, and I honestly wouldn't change anything about it. I absolutely love it. There is SO much I need to improve on in doing the Lord's work, but this is the perfect opportunity to learn how do do it.
Finding this week has been a little hard because of finals and no one can be bothered to talk to us :( but we've been getting potential and new investigators from our English classes, so that's been really good. It's a great way to share the Gospel with people.
I watched the Restoration again last week, and that just really hit me, as always. They had so much faith and sacrificed so much to keep the church alive. Their sacrifice definitely paid off, as I am now in Sydney sharing the Gospel with everyone around me...or trying to at least. 

President and Sister Howes came to DTM this week and taught us how to introduce the BoM using the introduction effectively and efficiently. The introduction is super powerful. Especially the last two paragraphs. The Howes' are just awesome :) I can't explain how inspiring they are. 

We had a miracle on Wednesday at English class! A girl from Vietnam, Frances, said she was interested in learning more about Jesus Christ and had a ton of questions. She didn't know about Christ until she moved abroad and has really felt the love of God in her life. So we met with her on Saturday to teach her more and Sister Rowlands, the 1st counselor in the bishopric's wife was there by chance to clean the chapel, and she's Vietnamese and offered to come to our lesson. It was so good. We gave her a chapel tour and the spirit was so strong. She's really keen on learning more about this Church and how God and Jesus Christ can help her in her life find peace and happiness. She's on date for Dec 27!! She recognized that it was right after Christmas and got super excited! 

Yan Lin is just AWESOME! We met with her twice and she can really see the Holy Ghost working in her life. She's on date for Nov 29 and then will go back to Singapore mid december. We went out to dinner with her on Saturday, which was nice. She just has this 'glow' around her. I can't describe it. I love seeing how much lives can change when they accept God and Jesus Christ in their lives. It makes people so much happier and so full of life. 

We haven't been able to meet with Theodore this week...so we may have to push his date back a little :/ 

Our struggle right now is getting people to Sacrament meeting...many of our eternigators and recent converts haven't been coming, but they come to everything else. They know the importance of taking the sacrament every week, but aren't applying it in their lives...aiyah.
However, Caesar is just amazing!! Such a great example to all of us. He told us he wasn't coming to church because he had to study, but then yesterday, he just walked in casually and sat with us. He said, "I knew that this is really important, so I decided to come". It just touched my heart. 

Institute was also really good this week. We were studying 3 Nephi 12, the Beatitudes. absolutely beautiful. One thing that hit me was that we need to experience Godly sorrow to allow repentance work in our lives. Also, it's important to help people recognize God's hand in their lives when reflecting on 'coincidences' or 'things of chance'. 

Friday, we helped Sister Stubbs pack up her place because she moved. That was the really hot day of the week, so it was nice to be mostly indoors. We had a nice lesson with Joyce that evening. We taught her more about the Atonement, and then I felt prompted that we should sing I Stand All Amazed in the middle of the lesson. We were all speechless afterwards. There was just so much emotion in that room that comes from the knowledge of the power of the Atonement. It's just the greatest blessing…

This week we taught the Plan of Salvation a few times, and it's just such a perfect plan. ahhh I can't express how amazing it is to know our purpose in life and what happens afterwards.
On Saturday, I had my first 'islander meal'. Shanice and Amelia, members, cooked lunch for the whole zone, which was super nice of them!!! We had corned beef and otai and taro and sweet potato. It was so good. 

Sunday, I had the coolest experience yesterday morning. I gained a true testimony that God answers prayers. During personal study, I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants 107, about the Priesthood. Thoughts of being unworthy and that I haven't fully repented of past transgressions started entering my mind and I started panicking a little. As that started to happen, I bowed my head and said a silent prayer to ask if I am supposed to be here and to ask if I am worthy to do His work. As I continued reading, I turned the page to D&C 108 and it just filled me with so much comfort as I read it. Certain lines just stuck out to me, and I felt as if Heavenly Father was talking to me.
Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed.
Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing, and resist no more my voice.
And arise up and be more careful henceforth in observing your vows, which you have made and do make, and you shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings.
And it shall be fulfilled upon you in that day that you shall have right to preach my gospel wheresoever I shall send you, from henceforth from that time.
Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.
And behold, and lo, I am with you to bless you and deliver you forever. Amen.

I have never received such an immediate and bold answer from God to my prayers.

At church the talks were all on prayer and Joseph Smith. The Restoration is so amazing. We'd have to be crazy to believe a 14 year old boy saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ unless we knew it is true. I know I'm a little insane, but I'm not a lunatic, so it must be true! Relief Society was on love which was really good. Just emphasizing how we need to love everyone around us and show it through small acts of kindness. 

Elder Nolan came back!!! So that's good! He's looking better and better, still struggling, but improving! We're just so grateful for that. 
Also, a member from China, Sharon just moved into the ward. She's so great. giving us so much insight on how to work with Chinese people with the Gospel. She was one of the first missionaries from China!!

I also met Julia Lai..I asked her if she knew our family, and she's like...I did a couple thousand names of the Lee side of your family...do I know your family? OF COURSE. I was the one that invited your Poh Poh to cut the cake at the 65th anniversary of the church in HK....that was funny,. 

Sister missionaries with some HK visitors.  Julie Lai is 3rd from the right.

That's about it for now. The end of the transfer is coming up, which is crazy. It's probably my last transfer with Sister Kuo :( :( 

But the church is true. I know that God and Jesus live. The Book of Mormon is SO true. I'm in Mosiah right now, and King Benjamin's address just smashed it...I'm trying to be a much better missionary. Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet. We just got the GC edition of the ensign...ahhh I love rereading all of the talks. They're just too good. 

I love you all!!! Have a fantastic week! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 18 - 4 Months

HARRO! I reached 4 months yesterday! Which means...14 more to go! wooohooo

This week was awesome! One bummer is that many people aren't able to meet with us because they're all busy with finals :(  I was on trade offs with Sister Ah Fua for 3 days, so that was fun. 

Hmmm highlights:
Yan Lin is getting baptized on Nov 29!! Awesome! She's so solid. So golden. We love her!

Tanner Roberts, a member in our ward from Utah, got his mission call to South Africa!

Ethan, who worked with Elder Easton and Elder Marshall, got baptized on Thursday! It was a beautiful service! Michaela Ball, Lynn Chia, and Rob Le (all members), sang beautiful musical numbers instead of giving talks. They all had to do with baptism and the Holy Ghost though. It was really cool. Our investigator, Amin, came to the baptism and he really enjoyed it. He can't wait to get baptized. He and Ethan became friends, which was good, since they're both Persian.

We did lots of finding this week...so I was on my feet A LOT. I've also been running almost every day...so I'm starting to get over the 'sore' feeling.
Joyce went to the Temple for the first time to do baptisms!! We're so proud of her! Her faith in the Gospel is amazing. Such a great member! We love her!!!!!
DTM this week was great...we talked about our true potential as Heavenly Father's children and we need to use it as much as we can. Especially while in the city..there are so many people who are prepared for the Gospel, and they may not know about it if we don't rise up to our potential and talk to and teach them.

Zone movie day!  Sister Ho came back to visit us!
Oh yeah, last week, for pday, we watched 4 movies... hahah
Frozen, Despicable Me, Space Jam, and How to Train Your Dragon 2...(Alex, I'm still SO sorry I lost your Space Jam basketball). It was honestly so weird to watch these movies. Things that seem so innocent in the world are so apostate to a missionary, hahah. Especially all the romance scenes!!!  It was so fun watching Frozen though. It was hard not singing along. The elders now all try to sing Let it Go, but they don't know how to, so they ask me, but I refuse. Hahah. It was weird being with a bunch of missionaries who have never seen it considering EVERYONE and their dog has seen it back home.
English classes have been going well. Those are fun :) Mohammed, one of our regulars, brought us chocolate cake that his share mate made. It was delicious.
Saturday, we helped Sister Craig clean the chapel since everyone backed out at the last minute. Then she bought us pizza for lunch, which was so nice of her! The members here are so great. Sister Craig is an excellent example of someone who magnifies her calling. MAGNIFY YOUR CALLING, YOU WILL BE BLESSED. Every calling in the church is important to Heavenly Father and there's a reason he called you to be what you are…I'm not too sure how I could word that better.

Thanks for the pizza Sister Craig!
Yesterday was Sister Dick's birthday, so we made a cake using pound cake, jam and whipped cream and then had a lamington tower. The Dicks are great! So are the Nolans! Elder Nolan is getting better and should be home soon!

We're in the midst of planning the first Chinese Conference for the missionaries!!! It's going to be awesome. We're working on how to teach Chinese people and meeting their needs, understanding their background, and trying to help them gain their testimonies. It will be sweet. 

That's about it for now! Just a little thought to leave with you is that "acceptable is not perfect". We needed to come to earth, to gain a body, to experience burdens, trials, sorrow, grief, pain, happiness, joy, love, and peace to become acceptable in the presence of Heavenly Father. The Atonement helps us do that. As we strive to become perfect, we do become perfect, but we can't just be perfect...does that make sense?
It does to me…

I've started the book of Mormon again! AHH, I just love it! So much new knowledge every time I read it. I'm in the Isaiah chapters right now in 2 Nephi. Christ lives!!!

Thanks for the donuts and treats!! Everyone was jealous haha. Don't worry, I shared. 

Dad dropped of a bag of goodies from home and 2 dozen donuts!

Have a great week!!!
Sister Lew

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week 17

This week was great...and it's already November, so that means.... CHRISTMAS MUSIC!! 

Some highlights
2 baptismal dates! Theodore, from HK, and Holly from China! All set for Nov 29. So please pray that all will go well with our lessons and their progress.
Taught quite a few good lessons this week. Lots of finding time. 

Had a great lesson with Amin!! He shared his conversion with us. He said at first it was because of the people and he liked what he saw in them at the church. and as he started reading the BoM and praying and interacting with the members, he started to see God's hand in his own life. He said that Elder Nolan is his role model. It was super sweet. 

Institute was really good this week. it was on 3 Nephi 11, which I love!!! Christ visiting the Americas is just beautiful. So I finished the Book of Mormon today for the second time on the mission!!! Of course I knew it was another testament of Jesus Christ, but I never actually felt and knew it from reading it...I guess I just didn't pay attention as to how it testifies of Christ. I usually just read for personal revelation. But as I've really started to focus on my relationship with Christ, my testimony of the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ naturally came with it. I absolutely love the book of Moroni. It nicely sums of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God's love for the people shown in the scriptures is the exact same love he has for all of us. We need to do our part and act righteously so we can feel and accept his love.
Some other miracles are that we ran into a Less Active on the street, and I felt good about inviting him to church..he didn't come, but I feel like that seed was replanted :)

I've focused this week on acting on my "hunches". There are far too many times where I ignore small promptings to talk to certain people on the street, but I've been better about just trying to listen and actually following through with it.  

We taught an awesome lesson on the pioneers. I just love talking about the pioneers with the early saints, and then relating it to the members today. We're all pioneers, enduring some of the hardest trials of our life, but because of our faith, it makes the journey worth it.
We went to a recent convert's uni graduation this week. It was so weird being at a graduation again... it was a nice ceremony, but it was so hot. The University of Sydney is a gorgeous campus!! The whole event reminded me of when Rory graduated from Yale on Gilmore Girls, hahha. 

Also we had the hit party of the year...the institute Halloween party! That was fun!! A ton of people from our English class came...probably a total of 120 people throughout the night. The first bit was games and activities that we, as missionaries, could participate in and then the rest was a dance...so we went home well before that started, haha. The costumes were great! 

On Saturday, we went to a baptism. He's an Aussie who has an amazing testimony of the Atonement of Christ. He's really solid. Such a nice guy and his service was beautiful. That's when I saw the Wrights! We were at Summer Hill chapel, where they meet, and ran into them...she started saying "Sammi! Sammi!" It was so weird because I haven't heard my name in so long......

This Sunday, we had an area wide fast for missionary work. We've also been planning the first Chinese Missionary Conference for all the Chinese speaking missionaries. It's going to be awesome...
One thing I'm sick and tired of is people telling me that I should've learned Chinese because I lived in HK... honestly, I couldn't care less anymore. Although it's something I wish I paid more attention to, I don't regret the life I lived. I was able to focus on other opportunities that have led me to where I am today. #storyofmylife -____- it just gets old after 19 years... 

Anyways, it was a good week! Today is a special zone preparation day, meaning we had 30 accident free days in the mission. So we're going to watch Frozen, Space Jam, How to Train your Dragon2, and Dispicable Me...so that means I have to go soon :( But I hope you're all doing well! I love you all so much!!!

Sister Lew

Week 16 - I'm gonna find my cousin!

So the title of this week's letter is "I'm gonna find my cousin". So that comes from this annoying as but super catchy music video about family history on lds.org. You should check it out. It's made me really want to get into doing family history work, something I know I'm slacking on... 

This week was probably the longest week so far in the field, but it was so good! Always so full of miracles! 

The start of a new transfer!! I absolutely love Sister Ah Fua and Elder Arnold. His Chinese is significantly better than mine, so it really motivates me to want to learn more. It's hard when the Chinese peoples' English is better than my Chinese....It is quite different without Sister Ho and Elder Fowler, but we love our missionaries! 

My week was good! We had a bit of finding time and have 6 new investigators! Not quite sure how solid they are yet, but one of them came to church on Sunday! We met her at a bus stop. Her name is Grista and she's from China. She said she would come to church, but then we weren't sure because she never replied to our texts...but then she came right after sacrament meeting. It's weird being on the other end of missionary communication. I used to get annoyed by how persistent missionaries are with their investigators... but I now understand why it's so important and why they do it. It's because we truly come to love these people and just want to share the sweetness and goodness of the Gospel with them. 

I've really been focusing on working with Chinese people. I've come to realize that I was called to serve in Sydney, Mandarin speaking to bring the Chinese people closer to the Gospel and closer to our Saviour. There's a reason why Heavenly Father called me in the time that he did. All of my experiences of living in Hong Kong, having both the American and Chinese culture in my background, and my terrible and basic language skills have prepared me to work with these people. I understand them a lot better than people who have no concept of Chinese culture. It's still incredibly hard to discern what they're thinking and what their concerns are, but I have an idea and I can relate to them a lot more easily.
Also, random side note, I sincerely apologize for not practicing piano when I was younger. You provided me with such great opportunities, and I'm sorry for wasting all the time and money. But I am DETERMINED to play much better throughout and after my mission. 

Sorry my thoughts are a little scattered today. 

Also...I HAD MY FIRST BAPTISM! Okay it wasn't 'mine', but it was Heavenly Father's. But I was there since the first or second lesson. She was contacted the transfer before I came in, but then didn't start taking the lessons until I came into the area. Her name is Joyce and she's from China. She is absolutely incredible! Watching her grow in the Gospel has been a unique experience, and it's an amazing feeling to know that I was able to help with the conversion process. She was baptized on Saturday along with 3 other people: Sam, Win, and Jessie. It was a beautiful service. Sister Kuo and I sang 'If the Savior Stood Beside Me' and then a couple people gave great talks. I think my favourite part was when those who were getting baptised bore their testimonies. They were simple and beautiful. Knowing that baptism can wash away our sins and that we can repent everyday is a great blessing. We can become better and better. There is nothing that we can do that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can't fix. 

The members have been great this week! They're always so willing to help us with our lessons and come out finding with us. I love the missionary enthusiasm here! It's weird to think that they're only a few years older than us missionaries...some of them just got off their missions...and some are even younger than us! We really try hard not to be YSA but to be dignified in our work. 

Something I've been working on this week is acting on 'hunches'. Just go with my gut feeling, which is the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As I've done this, miracles have happened. I've gained more confidence in talking with people and trusting the spirit. I also know that sometimes when we don't act on them, Heavenly Father will give us a second chance...sometimes! haha
This week, we went to Victoria Park and a man advertising for Greenpeace stopped us and said he was a member. At first I was a little judgmental, and I'm mad at myself for it, but he had a ton of piercings and long hair, but he was a super friendly and sweet guy! I thought to invite him to our ward, but then didn't...and then I kept thinking about it for the next two days. We went back to Victoria park and he was there again! So I invited him and his friend to church...they didn't come, but I felt a lot better about the situation!! ACT ON YOUR HUNCHES. NO matter how scared you are!! 

Ah it's just been such a crazy and incredible week. It's hard to motivate myself to get up and do the work sometimes because I can't help but be selfish, but then I put myself back into the perspective that I'm here for a reason and that is to bring others closer to Christ...so I need to stop thinking about myself. 

This week will be good...lessons, tradeoffs, Halloween, and Fast Sunday. There's going to be a pretty big Halloween Party on Friday for the YSA...should be fun...they're kicking all of the missionaries out before the dance haha. anyways, Hope you all are doing well! Love you heaps and heaps!!! 

Sister Lew