March 27, 2013

Washington - 3/27/13

Hi family!!

I'm in SPOKANE, WASHINGTON.  My new companion is Sister Huddleston, and she is awesome.  She's been here FOREVER, so she knows this area like the back of her hand, which is perfect because I have so many questions all the time. SO, a little bit about what happened when I left the MTC until I came here:

On Monday, Sisters Astorga/Tulande-Vasquez left at 4:00 a.m. to New York.  We all woke up early and helped them wheel their luggage to the bus stop/wave goodbye to them.  Sister Tulande-Vasquez kept crying, but we all promised to find one another after our missions... They're THE BEST.

After we dropped those sisters off, Sister Tsoi, Sister Ting, and I finished packing our luggage and left for the bus stop.  Shout out to Eric Backman who helped the missionaries load their heavy luggage into the bottom of the bus.  It was good seeing a familiar face for the last time.  Anyway, we boarded the bus and drove to the airport.  When we got there, we got breakfast and then HANDED OUT OUR FIRST BOOK OF MORMON!! There was this guy sitting across from us, and we were SO NERVOUS because we were dealing with a REAL PERSON instead of just a teacher or actor in the MTC.

We discussed and debated on different ways to approach him in Chinese (so he couldn't understand, obviously), and then Sister Tsoi was like, "Let's ask him if he has a pen!!!" (She was speaking in Chinese.) SO, we DID ask him for a pen, and he didn't have one, so it was super super awkward, and the conversation died like three times becuase we kept asking him pointless questions like, "So, you're going to Spokane?"... DUH!  EVENTUALLY, we asked him about his family, if he had ever heard of our church, and we found out he was Presbyterian.

Then, we bore our testimonies, and I gave him a talk by President Monson about blessings.  Sister Ting had a Book of Mormon, so she gave him one with her testimony from 2011 written in the front.  SO, first contact = SUCCESS.  We felt ON FIRE.  When we boarded the plane, there were like 10 other missionaries that were really excited about the work, so EVERYONE was talking to everyone, and pamphlets, copies of the Book of Mormon, and cards were flying everywhere.  It was pretty fun.

So, when we landed in Spokane, we met our mission presidents, President and Sister MULLEN!!! - YES, the twin of Brother and Sister Mullen from our ward at home! They are identical twins and sounds EXACTLY the same.  They picked us up and brought us to the church where we did "fear busting" which is where we were paired up with a random sister from the Spokane mission and went tracting for the first time. 

My companion and I were able to teach TWO discussions and commit both investigators to pray and read the Book of Mormon.  It was great.  We also ran into a Jehovah's witness who was fixing the phone booth, but he was obviously not very interested.

Yesterday, I met my trainer, Sister Huddleston.  She is awesome, and I took a picture with her, but I FORGOT my camera cord in the car and don't want to make both of us walk out to the car again.  I PROMISE I WILL INCLUDE PICTURES ON MONDAY! (Mondays are our P-days, but we emailed today since I missed it this week.)

Sister Ting and Sister Tsoi both got sent to the same area, different than mine.  They are probably going to be speaking a lot of mandarin since they are teaching in the Washington University student wards.  At first I was a little jealous, but I know that the Lord has a plan for each and everyone of us.  Sister Huddleston says she knows a family with a foreign exchange student from China, and so we are going to get in touch with him tomorrow! I also might get to teach English (AND THE GOSPEL) to two other people from China.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!

We have our own car, phone, and apartment.  Everything here is so big and spacious.  The ward members are awesome and SO friendly.  Yesterday, we taught one investigator, who we were able to commit to come to church this Sunday!! But that's not it! In the beginning of our lesson, we asked her to pray, and she said no, but at the end, we got her to pray!!!! Sister Huddleston and I were jumping and smiling SO BIG after we left the apartment because she has NEVER prayed in front of the missionaries before.  She also has two beautiful daughters, and her husband is a less active.  We really want them to get married and enjoy the blessings that come with keeping the commandments.

I also played Liszt, Chopin, and Ravel for this recent convert who lives in a nursing home over here.  He is 80 years old and was so happy when we came to visit him; however, he's not in our area anymore and really only likes sister missionaries, so we have to gradually let him go because the elders in his area need to take over.  What a cute old man. 

Also, everyone here knows that I can play the piano, so I'm ALWAYS playing all the time.  It's great.  My companion and I get along really well.

Anyway, yesterday we taught 4 lessons.  It was really fun meeting all my new families and investigators.  I love them already and can't wait for them to make covenants with Lord. We also are meeting with an investigator tonight who is needing the baptismal interview! AAH!!! So excited to meet him. 

Today, we had our first district meeting.  There are 6 sisters and only 4 elders.  It's so weird to have more sisters than elders in a district.  SISTER POWER!!!! I can already tell that it's going to be an awesome transfer.  I know the Lord has sent me here for a reason, and I can't wait to be shaped by His will.

Washington is beautiful. The trees are gorgeous, and the weather is fairly warm!

Alright, time for shout-outs:
Also, my new mission address is as follows:

820 S. Pines Rd. Ste 101
Spokane Valley, Washington 99206-5595

Hope you all have a great week!!  Remember God loves you, and SMILE!!!!

Sister Verina Chen

March 24, 2013



Right after I sent you my email, I checked my profile, and guess where I'm headed until our visa's come in?!!?!?!!?!?


CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!  ALL three of us, Sister Ting, Sister Tsoi, and I, burst into tears and hugged each other so tightly IMMEDIATELY after we checked our profiles and found out we are all going TOGETHER.  - IS GOD TRYING TO KILL US WITH HAPPINESS?!??!

I feel so happy right now.  We're not sure if we're going Mandarin speaking, but I wouldn't be surprised if we were.

WASHINGTON, EVERYONE!!!! It's like a second mission call.  I can't wait.  WHAT BLESSINGS.
We are probably leaving this coming Tuesday, so I'll write you later and confirm the details.

Also, something I forgot to mention in my other email: If you are ever bored, go onto and watch all the "I'm a Mormon" clips.  Read all the talks and events.  They update you on all the interesting things going on in the church, and you can find answers to any of your heartfelt concerns.  haha is TRUE. AMEN. 
OK.  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.  Please forward this email to everyone else and update my blog when you have time.  I pray for you all every day and hope that everything at home is going well. 

Love you!!

-Sister Verina Chen   

MTC - 3/21/13

Dear Family and Friends,

Sister Tsoi, Ting, and I transfered districts since we are still waiting for our VISA's.  At first we were a little dissapointed, but now we are really really happy because the Lord has answered all of our prayers.  We are now with a district of Mandarin missionaries that are leaving on Tuesday to go to Taiwan.  Today, we find out where we are going stateside until our visa's come in.  We also might stay longer at the MTC, which sounds like a win/win situation.  The reason why I say that is because the MTC is really like the CELESTIAL KINGDOM.  I see miracles EVERY DAY and feel like crying out of happiness every second.

One of the countless miracles happened literally like 20 min. ago.  This morning, my companions and I decided to go to the temple but were late and missed the 8:00 session.  At the end of our session, we walked back down to the MTC and guess who we ran into?! - SISTER TSOI'S GRANDPARENTS.  If we hadn't missed the 8:00 session or done anything else that we did this morning, we would have never run into them.  This morning, Sister Tsoi, Sister Ting, and I decided to pray and fast for answers and to increase our faith.  Sister Tsoi had been feeling a little discouraged recently, but all her fears and worries went away after she ran into her grandparents. - ALL our fears and worries went away.  When we got back to our residence, we all knelt in a prayer of gratitude for all the blessings and love and MIRACLES that happen everday to us. I feel beyond blessed to be here learning, growing, and loving the gospel.  I couldn't ask for a better, more fulfilling experience in life.


Anyway, about our new district:  I am now in Elder Palmer's district! Shout out to Doug if he's reading this.  (They're related!)  I also see Will Vernon all the time since he's a teacher.  He's playing an investigator for my companionship this Friday.  ALSO, SISTER VICKY CHEN, Elder Bogle from your mission is now my teacher.  He said he knows you and that you'd know him?!  haha  Regardless, all the sister missionaries going to Taichung Taiwan are AMAZING, and we all get along SO WELL with each other.

AH! I love the Lord so much.  I don't even know how to express my gratitude and  happiness I have experienced here right now.  I just want all of you to feel what I have felt and am feeling here as a missionary.  The Lord truly loves all of his children.

OK.  So, last Sunday, I played a piano solo "I Believe in Christ" in the 7:00 devotional.  I think there were around 2,000 or more missionaries that were there!  It was such an amazing experience.  Thank you Mom for helping me feel ready to audition for this opportunity! Everyone who meets me says that I'm the "MTC celeb" over here.  hahahaha  Don't worry.  I won't let it get to my head.  I just feel SO GRATEFUL and SO HAPPY that I am using my talents to serve God and share His message from my heart.  I was really worried I wouldn't be able to play much piano over here, but God has allowed me to play ALL the time over here.  The last two Sundays, I was able to arrange/accompany the musical numbers for our sacrament meeting.  Our district became SO STRONG and SO UNIFIED because we worked together on our musical number.

ALSO, shoutout to Spencer Park, Sara Bauman, and Erin Durham who I saw playing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir orchestra last Sunday.  Before relief society every Sunday, the sister missionaries get to watch the broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word".  It's always such a great experience, and I can ALWAYS feel the Spirit.

Alright, the time is up, EVERYONE, keep praying, have faith, and read the scriptures.  God is REAL. HE DOES answer prayers, He loves us so much, and He blesses families!!!! I KNOW it's true. HALLELUJAH!! :) ^_^
Love you all so much.  Keep the faith!!

Sister Verina Chen

PS Mary Mitton, thank you SO MUCH for the box of cookies.  My companions and I LOVE stuffing our faces.
PPS I received a letter from Bishop Mitton and his counselors.  Can you please tell them how much I appreciate them?! I will try to write them if I have time.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT.  Here are some scriptures to read/study sometime this week/Sunday when you have time:
Jacob 3:1
Enos 1:15
3 Nephi 18: 19-21
Moroni 7:48
Moroni 10:3-5

March 16, 2013

MTC - 3/15/13


Another week has gone by! Can you believe it?
This week was so FUN.  My companions and roommates are pretty much the BEST.  We have companionship inventory at least three times a day!! That's where we discuss how we can improve our companionship, but we always start out by saying how much we love one another.  It's the best.  Last night, we had a heart-to-heart inventory with all my roommates: Sis. Astorga (Guatemala, convert), Sis. Leite (Boston, convert), Sis. Tulande-Vasquez (Spain, convert), Sis. Tsoi (Hong Kong), and Sis. Ting (Malaysia/Australia, convert).  We realized that even though we are all from completely different areas of the world, it's amazing because we have all come together, through the Lord, to serve missions!!! We all started crying because the Spirit was so strong, and we just LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH.  It just goes to show that everything that happens in your life, whether it be good or bad, IS FOR A REASON.  God knows us and wants us to become stronger every day.  Sister Tulande Vasquez is the cutest girl in our room.  She is so timid and petite, and whenever she bears her testimony, she starts to cry.  When she cries, Sister Astorga cries, and when Sister Astorga cries, I start crying, etc. Anyway, last night, Sister Tulande Vasquez told us that before she came to the MTC, she had a dream that she would be living with a group of sisters from Asia and America, so when she met us, she wasn't surprised at all.  The point of me telling this story is to help you taste a little bit of how nothing in the gospel/life is just a coincidence.  Another point I want to emphasize is the blessings of MISSIONARY WORK.  Without missionary work, none of us would have ever met each other.  GAH!!! Maybe I'm just confusing everyone with my "lightbulb moment", but this is just a little taste of the reality and power of MISSIONARY WORK.  With six girls in one room, there is bound to be drama, but let me tell you.  THERE IS NO DRAMA.  Let me repeat.  NO DRAMA.  It's really a blessing because a room with six girls and no drama is just UNHEARD of. 

Sometimes, Sister Tsoi and I start bursting out in laughter during our role plays.  Last night, I acted as an investigator, and Sister ting and Sister Tsoi were the missionaries who were supposed to teach me the first lesson. Sister Tsoi was really really giggly ALL NIGHT, and although I didn't know what she was laughing about, I started laughing uncontrollably as well (LAUGHING IS CONTAGIOUS).  All of my friends know  that when I start laughing, it's hard to stop. Our teacher, Brother Hunsaker (who used to sing in Vocal Point at BYU) was so patient with us.  Don't worry, Mom.  We are usually VERY good and VERY serious. Anyway, on a more spiritual note, I have learned SO MUCH here.  I feel like a different person, and I'm not even in Taiwan yet.  The MTC is like the Celestial Kingdom.  Everyone here is so friendly and wise.  One of my favorite scriptures from this week is ALMA 17:29.  It says that through small and simple things are great things come to pass.  I know that if we have faith in the Lord, He will and does bless us to be stronger than we think we could ever be. 

OK, So time is running out, and I can't upload pictures because I don't have a camera chord.  I have so many more stories to tell you when I have time.  Anyway, Sister Tsoi, Sister Ting, and I are actually staying an additional week because the travel people are still working on our VISAs.  So, We will probably stay another week here at the MTC and then get a call stateside until we can go to Taichung, Taiwan!

OH, and Shoutouts to people I saw this week at the MTC: Sister Brinton, Sister Lloyd, Brother Hadley, SISTER ASHLEY SMITH (since we're both in the accelerated program, we are actually in the same branch and live in the same building, just down the hall from one another.  She looks SO WONDERFUL, and we both can't wait till Amy comes in!! AMY, if you're reading this, I got your package and cute stickers.  YOU ARE THE BEST.  I will write you a letter soon.)  I KNOW I saw more people here, but I can't remember and I don't have time. 

I LOVE YOU ALL!! Keep the faith!

Peace and blessings,


March 8, 2013

MTC- 3/8/13


I'M AT THE MTC RIGHT NOW.  My companions are Sister Ting and Sister Tsoi.  They are beautiful, bright, and SO SPIRITUAL!

When I came into the MTC, everything happened so quickly! I saw Sister Eve Smith who showed me to my room after I grabbed my MISSIONAR BADGE and keys!!! (WAHOO!)  Right after, I was taken to my class and met all the other sisters and elders in our district.  I am in the class with all the accelerated missionaries and will probably be leaving around March 20 or 26.  They haven't given us a set date yet.

Anyway, three of the sisters in the program are going to New York, English/Spanish speaking, and my two companions and I are going to TAICHUNG, TAIWAN!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE being here and was worried about not liking/getting along with my companions.  Sister Ting is 26-years old and reminds me so much of Mom and Sister Vicky Chen.  I know she sounds older, but she looks SO YOUNG, and we joke around all the time.  She is from Malaysia, moved to Australia for college, and then became a nurse! She and her older sister who lives in Provo are the only converts in her family, and she has an amazing conversion story.  Her Mandarin is wonderful, and she always is thinking of others.  I love singing the "Zou Zou ... women xiao shou lao xiao shou" song with her.  She's MY FAVORITE.

Sister Tsoi is 19 and from Hong Kong, although she doesn't speak mandarin as well as Sister Ting and me.  She started out in the 9 week program with Sister AMANDA BURR and Sister Graham, but since she understood everything that her teacher said, she was transferred to our class. (PS.  The Taichung Taiwan sister missionaries are the most attractive, hands down.  HOLLA! hahaha JK.  Everyone here is beautiful, ESPECIALLY Taiwan, Taichung missionaries!) Anyway, I helped Sister Tsoi move in with the rest of us sisters.  There are SIX SISTERS in our small little room, and I am sleeping in the middle top bunk bed!  Although we have only been here 2 days, I feel like we have been here a week because we learn SO MUCH every day!

Yesterday, we met our branch president, President Marion! He is a really funny, but strict man and always "cooks good food for us".  When I walked into our meeting room, he asked me to go play the piano right away, so I started sight reading some arrangements they had laying out on the piano stand.  It was kind of funny because I was playing really well until the modulation, and then the modulation was really atonal and sounded queer.  I'm glad I got used to the key fast so that I ended on a good note.  - No one else here knows how to sight read.  You can feel it everwhere you go.  I was also called as the musical coordinator. The food here is just like the food at the BYU food court, so for anyone leaving for the MTC soon, that's what you can expect. YOU'LL LOVE IT. Everyone here is so friendly, and the spirit is SO STRONG.

I also auditioned to play "I Believe in Christ" on the piano for a devotional yesterday.  There was a sister who was auditioning, but she didn't have an accompanist, so I had to sight read her vocal accompaniment, which had a tricky rhythm.  We ran through it twice, then auditioned.  After I accompanied her, I played my piano solo, and the sisters in charge told me they'd have me play here before I leave!! THANK YOU MOM for telling the sisters about me.  They were so kind to call me out and ask me to audition.  I sometimes miss practicing, but the Lord has blessed me so that everytime I play, I feel like I have practiced forever! It's really a miracle! 

Today, we went to the temple, and MOM, I was able to have our district complete all the family names! Everyone was so excited to do endownments for me.  After the session, Sister Tulande brought me the finished name card, and apologized because there was a TEAR STAIN on it.  She was like, "Sorry Sister Chen, I started to cry."  It was SO ADORABLE and so funny because Sister Tulande is from Spain, has an accent, and is just the sweetest missionary ever.  Yesterday when she bore her testimony to the mission president, she started to cry, and all the rest of us sisters started crying, too!! One of the Elders started to cry as well. :)

Sorry I haven't been able to check any of the mail.  Our district leader was assigned yesterday and is the only one who has access to our mailboxes.  I will probably get the mail sometime later today or tomorrow!! The MTC IS AMAZING! I am seriously the happiest I have EVER been, and can't wait for Jon Jon to experience this feeling! The SPIRIT IS SO IMPORTANT. 

Mom, I pray for you everday! I want you to know that I am really really happy and healthy, and I eat my prenatal vitamins everday!! You don' t need to worry about sending me any food! We have SO MUCH FOOD!

Dad, the Chinese food here at the MTC tastes like charcoal compared to your cooking! It can't even compare, so I've been eating other ethnic foods that they have here, mostly American like salad wraps which are soooo delicious and healthy, fruit, and much much more!

Jeffrey and Kara, thank you again so much for coming to see me off last week! I write in the music journal Kara gave me everyday! I LOVE YOU GUYS!

Elder and Sister Chen, WOW this is what you guys experienced?! I am SO GLAD for my decision to go on a mission.  IT is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me! I can't wait to get out to Taichung and serve!

Jon Jon!! My favorite little brother! How you doing?! Holding up? :) You're so cool, and I am so happy and grateful for your little notes you snuck into my luggage! Those scriptures are amazing!
One thing that I learned these past two days is the importance of strict obedience.  I am glad that Mom and Dad taught me to never settle for less than my best.  I'm seriously a TOUGH COOKIE (Doug should appreciate that), and I'm not even homesick!!  I have been bearing my testimony in mandarin, and I learn something new everday! OH, and another thing! When you get here, be sure to PARTICIPATE! My companions and I are ON FIRE! We are like best friends with the Holy Ghost and work SO WELL with each other.  It's ridiculous.  I love the gospel.  I love the Lord.  I love being here, and I love you all!!


Sister Verina Chen

PS I am praying and thinking about you all!! Peace and blessings!