MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
First of all, I would like to apologize (and not apologize) for my disobedience and talking to you for way over my time limit, heheh :) BUT I LOVED TALKING TO YOU!!! Sorry for being an emotional mess...it was worse after I hung up. Me and Sister Cluff just sat there and cried...my eyes were puffy haha. But I'm back to work and LIFE IS GOOD!
This has been one of the best Christmases I've ever had!!! It was magical :) Small, simple, yet FILLED with the spirit of CHRISTmas.
Last Monday we had an FHE on Friendship and they talked about what a true friend really is. I thought about it, and I'm so grateful for the real friends I do have. They have helped me become a better person, supported me through all of my good and bad times, and have truly accepted me for who I am without any hesitation. One of the best friends I've met on my mission, aside from Jesus Christ, is Sister Cluff. We talked about it the other day; we really are like sisters. It's amazing how much our friendship has developed in the last 3 1/2 months. I have learned so much from her and she has been such a great example to me. It's crazy how well we get along. We even have the same stupid sense of humor!!
Tuesday was rainy and gloomy. But we had some good lessons, including one with LiuDing! She is struggling with the WoW but really wants to repent and be baptised! So we're working with her and hopefully she'll be ready by Jan 24th! That evening we worked at the Temple Lights with our whole district, which was really neat!! I talked to this one member who is incredible. She's from China and was baptised when she came to Sydney 17 years ago. She's the only member in her family, and is raising her two young children in the Gospel by herself, because her husband isn't a member. She was just so humble and had the most beautiful testimony about blessings coming through obedience.
I also met the Sydney South mission president, but didn't realize it was him...awks. They were with the Tollman's, the lovely couple that was on my flight from SLC to Sydney, and so I went up and said hello to them, and then afterwards I realised that it was President and Sister Pack (?) that was with them. I wasn't feeling well at all that evening, my lower back and stomach were in a lot of pain and Elder Laurenson offered to give me a blessing, so I accepted the offer. He anointed and Elder Arona gave me the blessing and it was so powerful. THE PRIESTHOOD IS REAL. And I am SO grateful to have worthy Priesthood holders in my life. I felt much better afterwards. It was strange that parts of the blessing were similar to my Patriarchal blessing...not word for word, but in essence.
It was a great night though! Lots of teaching opportunities. There was one sweet lady who just cried at the picture of the Second Coming. She used to be a preacher or a pastor for a church and she saw it and just said 'He's coming and it breaks my heart to see so many people just ignore it'. It broke my heart! Although she wasn't part of our LDS faith, she had such strong faith in Christ. We got home about 11:30 that night, and that was tiring.
The next day was Christmas eve! Most of the day was spent in trainings and meetings that were really good. We are really trying to become PMG missionaries, because that is the way the Lord wants this work done. One thing that we are focusing on this new year is 'Rising to a new sense of commitment'. After doing the same thing everyday for so long, we sometimes lose sight of our purpose as missionaries. Not completely, but we're not gung ho about it 24/7 for 18 months. Recommitting ourselves to the work includes being FULLY consecrated and dignified, using all of my heart, might, mind and strength and with an eye single to the glory of God.
Christmas Eve was awesome!! We did our zone secret santa, which was a lot of fun. Elder White was mine and he got me a MINION USB :) I was so happy! He has a funny sense of humor. Opening the present was an obstacle. I had to pull levers, unwrap paper, pull strings, open boxes,...it took me almost 5 minutes to open the dang thing. I think the best one was Elder Honema'u from Tonga...he got a pineapple and a coconut and was THRILLED. Best reaction yet. It was super funny to watch. The assistants also brought us our Christmas packages!!!! :)
Then we all watched the Polar Express!! That movie was so good...last time I saw it was in theaters. Sister Dick was so sweet and made us hot chocolate and gingerbread houses to decorate! Elder Marshall and I made horchata, and the Nolan's made delicious homemade caramel corn. It was a good night :) Sister Cluff and I had our pillowpets with us and all the sisters wore our matching fuzzy socks. That night, we opened the rest of our Christmas packages that members gave us.
CHRISTMAS DAY! We woke up at 4:45 to run to the Sydney Opera House for a sunrise devotional. President Le (the EQ pres) and two members, Junior and Jin, came with us...why they woke up before 5 to run with a bunch of missionaries on Christmas was beyond me...but it was so sweet of them!!!! It was a nice cool morning. The sun didn't really come up. It did, but we couldn't see it because it was super overcast. But it was lovely. Elder Droubay shared a nice story about making room for Christ in our lives. Then we all read a verse in Luke 2. Everything was very calm and still...it was beautiful. Afterwards, President Le took some of us to see the Martin Place memorial, or what was left of it. It was beautiful. There was a quiet reverence there and a very special feeling. Afterwards, we went back to the chapel, prepared our zone Christmas breakfast, and opened Christmas packages!!! It was like watching a bunch of 5 year olds open presents. It was a great sight! THANK YOU FOR MY PACKAGE :) it was absolutely lovely! All the treats and goodies, decorations, and especially the clothes! You have no idea how happy I am for new clothes. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Afterwards, we did our stocking stuffers and then got ready for the ward Christmas lunch. We had a pretty good turn out! It ended up being mostly investigators, so that was cool because we got to introduce them to the true meaning of Christmas. Then I got to talk to you guys!!!!!!!!! I am just SO grateful to be born into our family. We have the best family ever. Afterwards I just thought to myself, I am CRAZY for leaving you all behind...but I know that what I'm doing is worth it and we are all being blessed. If I didn't know this church was true and didn't think it would be worth it, there is no way I would have sacrificed family. Missionary work is just so great and important. I absolutely love it. It's hard-as, but it's WORTH it. I was a mess afterwards...I ended up crying and laughing at how ridiculous I was the rest of the night. It was really nice to talk to all of you. I'm glad to hear you are all doing very well!! and are enjoying your time with family and friends in Utah. Send everyone my love!
|Tree and card from Victoria 1st Primary!!!|
|My package from home!!|
Boxing day was tradeoffs with the STL's, so I was with Sister Ah Fua. It's nice sharing a flat with them. We know them and it's not as intimidating. We also all have such a close relationship that they can correct us in a loving way and we are not at all offended. It was a good tradeoff. Had some good finding and lessons. We've been working with Nora and preparing her for her baptism, which was GREAT!
Nora was so prepared to receive the Gospel. I underestimated how much she needed it and how much it's affected her. She was really nervous...like we had a hard time getting her into the chapel for the baptismal service to start. She looked absolutely beautiful in white. It was a beautiful service. 4 people got baptised!! She came out of the water and just started crying. When she bore her testimony, the spirit filled the room. We could feel how much love she has for God, knowing that he is real and that he loves her. It was very emotional for all of us. I had to give the intermediate talk at the baptism and that was scary because President and Sister Howes were there!! But it went decently okay. Much better than my talk in sacrament meeting. I basically taught lesson 3 of PMG, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, then invited everyone who had not yet been baptised to be baptised. It was all good. Afterwards, we all went to 3 Mama's for dinner...I've probably had more Thai food than anything else here. Anyways...We are so incredibly proud of Nora!!!!
|On the way to Nora's baptism.|
|We love Nora!|
|So great to see Sis Kuo again with Joyce!|
|After baptism dinner at 3 Mamas.|
Sunday was good. All the talks and lessons were on New Years' resolutions. There were a few families visiting the ward, including a crying baby! That was new. It's so weird seeing youth and children having been in YSA for a year and a half.
As I've been reflecting on 2014, I realised how much has happened. This time last year I was filling out my mission papers, still unsure if I was going or not...and 1 year later, I'm already almost 6 months into my mission. I finished 1 year of uni (and passed all of my classes), played with some dead bodies in a cadaver lab, worked a little bit, went on my first college roadtrip with the posse, dated some creepy (okay they weren't really creepy...) RM's, finished Hart of Dixie in 3 weeks, had my wisdom teeth removed, went on a mission, learned mandarin in 9 weeks, and moved to Sydney for 16 months. Lots of good times and bad times. Lots of mistakes made, but amazing lessons learned from them. I think my greatest accomplishment is the relationship I have developed with my Heavenly Father and with my Saviour. It has completely changed my view on life. It has helped me put into perspective the things that matter most, like family and the Gospel. I have been so blessed!! This year my focus is to become evermore effectively CONSECRATED in the missionary work. As well as being more obedient...freely obedient at least. WHB obedience is not bad, but it's the intention behind it all that is hard. I also realised I have just over a year left...which means I will be Sister Lew for all of 2015! CRAZY! Another goal is to keep inviting others to come unto Christ...but doing so more effectively. Also, loving the people and not being judgemental is something I want to accomplish. To see others as Christ sees them is a very hard thing to do, but from the little experience i have with it, it's amazing how much more light we have in our lives from having that love for others. Also, I want to finish the Standard Works by December 31, next year! I'm almost done with the BoM for the 3rd time since I started my mission, hopefully I'll finish by the end of the year!
It's been a slow week otherwise in the mission, but miracles nonetheless. Nora is one of our biggest miracles. I'm so grateful for her example and faith!! It's a new year, which means a fresh start.
I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had this past year, to learn and to grow and really build my own testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Christ lives. I know that my Heavenly Father lives and he loves us perfectly. Through Jesus Christ we can be saved. We can learn and grow and be perfected through him. He helps us become better and supports us when we need it most. I know that the true church of Jesus Christ has been restored by the prophet Joseph Smith. He translated the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ. Through the Book of Mormon, we can receive guidance and personal revelation. We also receive truth which is confirmed by the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that President Monson is a true prophet today and he leads and guides us the way Heavenly Father wants us to be.
I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends and family. I'm also so grateful that I was born in the church and I have this wonderful opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father, and bring others closer to Him. Have a wonderful new year!! I love you all HEAPS!