August 26, 2013

What a week!!!! :)

Dearest family and friends!!!

So this week's events:

So, remember that less-active young woman that we biked into on the street a couple of weeks ago?! - This week, we were updating the ward list, and we ran into the name of that young woman!  However, her cellphone number in the ward list was WRONG.  Not to fear! - We had run into her on the street and had written down her current contact information!  What a miracle!  We were able to write down her current cell phone number, and although she hasn't answered our calls yet, we know that our ward will be able to get in contact with her in the future.  What a small and tender mercy of the Lord!  

Sister Liu and I were able to update SO MUCH information for the ward.  We found another less-active young woman named Ou Yi Ting.  She had been baptized with her mother in another area, but when she moved to Zuoying, she stopped to coming to church.  She hasn't been to church in YEARS, and the ward doesn't even know they exist.  We were able to meet with this 20-year-old sister this week, get to know her, and start re-teaching her all the lessons.  She doesn't remember too much about the church, but when we met her, she was wearing an old CTR ring that her mother's previous missionaries had given her.  It was wonderful to see her take interest in learning more about the church.  :)  We will keep working with her.

Yesterday after church, we gave 1/3 of the updated ward list changes to our relief society president and the ward mission leader.  Our relief society president was so happy and told us that she enjoys feeling the unity between the ward and its missionaries.  We know that things will become much easier and more efficient as we continue working with our ward leaders.  Every week, we ask for the names of those in our ward who need special attention or visits.  We love working with our ward, and they love working with us!  

Chen Hai Jin, one of our golden investigators, had an unfortunate event occur last week.  Her 20-year-old daughter Luo Ping Ping got into a car accident and is now in a coma in the hospital.  We got permission to go to the San Min hospital to visit her and pray with her mother.  Her doctor is giving her 10 days before they decide whether or not to take her off of life support.  Chen Hai Jin is really worried that her daughter may never wake up.  However, the Sanmin elders have already given luo Ping Ping a blessing.  This event was really shocking! What a hard trial for this mother. It just gave me perspective into how careful we have to be with our lives.  It also gave me insight into the way the Lord works.  This accident can either turn into a strength or a weakness for Sister Chen Hai Jin.  Sister Liu and I discussed how great it was that Sister Chen Hai Jin was able to trust us enough to ask us for our help and our prayers.  We are praying that she will continue to put her trust in the Lord no matter what the outcome is.

I know now more than ever how precious life is!  This week, when we visited Chen Mama, she told us that the doctor had previously told her that she only had 4 years left to live.  This year was her 4th year mark, and every time we visit, we just see her weakening and weakening.  She said it's hard for her to eat, sleep, and get around the house.  Although Chen Mama is in considerable pain and is lonely most of the time, she said that she is entirely at peace.  She knows where she's going after this life on earth.  I am so grateful for the plan of salvation! It gives us peace and strength to overcome physical and spiritual hardships here on Earth!

Last night we visited Qiu De Zhen's less-active daughter and her boyfriend.  We taught them the plan of salvation.  The whole time we were teaching, I felt like they didn't really understand the reason behind all of the lesson.  So, halfway through, I decided to stop and ask them a question.  I asked them why they thought we were here on Earth today.  I asked them if they knew the reason why we have bodies, why we are alive, and where we are going after we die.  They paused to think and couldn't think of an answer.  After letting them think for a while, we explained to them God's merciful plan of salvation, and they started to understand the importance of our visits.  

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated and impatient with some of our less-actives/investigators because they just don't seem to THINK.  I always have to correct myself and remember how Christ would act.  He used love, patience, humility, and example to teach the people on earth.  I am always in awe when I think how amazing He was to never get frustrated with us for continually sinning, for being slow to hearken to His commandments, etc.  He really is the perfect example!! I'm working so hard to follow Him every day. 

Chen Jing Feng, one of our LA's let us go to her house and visit her for the first time.  She washes dishes for her job and sometimes gets really sad about her life washing dishes instead of teaching piano (her preferred occupation).  After playing some Chopin nocturnes with her, we sat down, listened to her concerns about life, and left her with a prayer.  We had asked her to continue praying to God for help not only in life, but specifically for her to find a new job and be able to one day attend church regularly.  Right after we ended the prayer and right before we entered the elevator to leave, she got a call! It was the boss of the job that she really wanted to work for.  She was really excited and expressed her joy in her prayers being answered!! What a crazy story, right?!

Yesterday in church, the primary president asked me to accompany for the primary children.  Then, she asked me to share a story about prayer with the primary children.  All the kids were so cute when they saw me walk in!! They all started whispering to each other, "It's Sister Chen!!"  haha They're the cutest.  A lot of them have gotten to know me really well, one of which was Wang Hao Ping, the little boy that we found and brought back to his mother.  I love how innocent and pure little children are! I hope that I can become more and more like them each day!

This week's relief society activity was making moon cakes!! Our investigator Huang Jing Fang wanted to attend, so we went with her to make these moon cakes!! It was so much fun, and the moon cakes tasted so good! The sister that was teaching us how to make these cakes was so cute.  Some of the sisters' children also attended, so they were in charge of putting the sesame seeds on top of the dough when we were finished making them.  Putting sesame seeds on top of dough is actually a really tedious job.  It's a job that needs small, quick hands, perfect for children.  OKAY, let me take a moment to explain how difficult putting sesame seeds on top of dough can be.  - There were two kinds of sesame seeds: white sesame seeds and black sesame seeds.  - There were also many different kinds of moon cakes - red bean mooncakes and yellow bean moon cakes.  Both cakes needed sesame seeds on top, but we needed a way to distinguish between the yellow and the red bean cakes.  So, Sister Huang came up with a wonderful idea to put ONE black sesame seed on all the red bean moon cakes.  So, the little children had to very carefully pick out ONE black sesame seed to put on top of all the red bean moon cakes. 

WHEW.  Anyway, isn't that a funny story?! Everytime the kids finished doing a tedious job, they went running and yelling, "Laoban! (BOSS!! BOSS!!)" looking for Sister Huang to tell them what to do next.  hahaha 

ok. That took me way longer to explain than I intended, and it probably wasn't as funny as I thought it was.  Oh well. You get the point... ba.

Alright!! I'm a little short on time and I want to include pictures, but I hope you all enjoyed reading about some of my adventures!

Also, remember that the love of God is the reason behind everything!! 1 Nephi 11: 22  

Alma 57:20-21

"And as the remainder were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those 2000 and 60 were FIRM and UNDAUNTED."
"Yea, and they did observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them."

What outstanding examples of faith and trust in the Lord!!

Alma 60:23 talks about how the Lord wants us to clean the inner vessel before the outer vessel.  Everyday, we must continue to watch ourselves.  When you find yourself judging another person negatively, getting frustrated because of another person's actions, just remember that we are all imperfect.  In order to help others, we must first be strong enough to change ourselves.  Be humble.  Be prayerful.  Ask God to help you when you feel inadequate, scared, or angry.  He knows you, He loves you, and He has power enough to protect and support you.  

I know that God protected those two thousand young stripling warriors back in the time of Helaman, and I know that He will protect us when we have firm and undaunted faith!!!

Alright, I hope you all are keeping the faith and working hard!!  Today Sister Liu and I are going to see the sea with our investigator Jane and our dearest AMY.  I'll include pictures of our attire! :) :)

I love you all! Thank you for the support and blessings you bring in my life!  

Sister Verina Chen

- The paper cranes that I made for Chen Hai Jin's daughter
- Our cute moon cakes
- Poncho picture (Typhoon season!! It was so much fun!)
- Me and Amy

PS The blue and white striped dress are from our cute LA old lady Mian Mian Jiemei.  She is wonderful!

August 18, 2013


Dearest family and friends:

Here are some of the events/journal entries of this past week:

TUESDAY: Sister Liu and I went on exchanges with the sister training leaders.  I stayed in Zuoying with Sister Lisa Smith, and Sister Liu went to Sanmin with Sister Jian.  It was such a wonderful exchange!  Joseph totally knows Sister Smith!  She's such a wonderful person, and I look up to her so much.  Something I learned that day during zone conference is the importance of knowing how to use numbers with faith.  We've had a lot of changes to our key indicators recently which have helped us to focus more on the people and not so much on the numbers.  It's really interesting.  I feel like at the start, I was more concerned about what other missionaries thought/saw of me when they looked at my numbers.  Don't get me wrong.  Numbers are important.  They can help you push yourself, set higher goals, and track your history/progress; however, there is a difference between numbers and people.  It's important to remember to treat everyone like a precious, child of God.  Every contacting/teaching situation is and should be difference, according to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  On that note, I feel like everything must be done in wisdom and order!! If in doubt, PRAY.  Seriously, trusting completely in God to help you establish goals/become a better person is easier said than done. 

I love the scripture in Alma 13:18-19: "But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and long-suffering;  Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest."

Yesterday during our ward missionary meeting, one of our mission leaders shared that scripture.  It really hit me because humility really is the key to truly repenting/changing/progressing in life. 

WEDNESDAY (journal entry): Yesterday was awesome! Sister Smith and I visited Qiu De Zhen's (1st counselor of the Zuoying ward) less-active daughter and her boyfriend last night!  We were able to go over the restoration with them.  We ended up referring Sister Qiu's boyfriend to the elders in our area and are excited to see them both progress.  A lot of the people here are really shy.  Most of the less-actives don't remember anything about the gospel and need a good review!  There are so many part-member families over here in Zuoying.  Sister Liu and I are working hard to help these families be able to one day, enter into the temple and be sealed for eternity!! We have strong desires to help everyone receive such eternal joy!!  I LOVE THESE PEOPLE. 

We also had time to go English proselyting by Costco.  During our time proselyting, Sister Smith was stopped by a cute girl on a scooter named "Xiao Shu" - "Little tree".  She ended up coming to English class and is super cute!! After proselyting, we had to bike really fast to our next appointment, grabbing a quick dinner on the way there.  I think the most memorable times over here are the moments like rushing to appointments in the rain and laughing with your companion the whole way.  Funny story: Every time we go English proselyting, we always open/close with a prayer.  It was really hilarious because I was asked to say the prayer IN ENGLISH.  Since all my companions and "duanchuans" have been native speakers, I haven't had many opportunities to say prayers aloud in English.  My companions and I have only ever communicated in Chinese. So anyway, I said this prayer in English, and it was sooooooooo awkward.  Everything I said was super slow and really chopped-up.  After I said "Amen", everyone just looked at me and said, "Haven't spoken English in a while, have ya?"  HAHA It's funny, right?

Speaking of biking (NOT - This is a totally random note): we contacted a kind of crazy man on the street on our way to our appointment.  His name was Alan.  Anyway, he had met missionaries 40 years earlier and had some really crazy misconceptions about our church.  It was great because we were able to give him an opportunity to meet with the elders.  He ended up giving us his contact information, and the elders will contact him this week!  Every time we contact these people at red lights, I always smile really big and make them smile!  It's super fun and effective.  A lot of people are willing to pull to the side of the street and quickly write down their contact information.  I think I'm learning to love contacting more and more every day!!  Plus, my paper-crane-making skills are spectacular now.  TIME ME.

Continuing on with my Wednesday journal entry: Here are my new goals to become a new, successful missionary:

1. Pray for the Spirit consistently/constantly
2. Love people and desire their salvation
3. Do all I can to get up and go to bed on time.
4. Focus on one Christlike attribute every week.
5. Pray for strength/humility every night.
6. Set daily goals and always work with DILIGENCE
7. Increase less-active member attendance and SAVE them!
8. Extend an invitation to think/do good to every person contacted on the street.
9. Learn from other missionaries, especially my companion.
10. Talk with everyone and be genuine/be myself.

Fun events of the week:
-Putting eggs on top of my bike box because we had too many groceries and biking back home with Sister Liu laughing and screaming at me to be careful!! haha
- Getting back home with the eggs unbroken and as good as new.
- Making banana crepes and fruit salad for breakfast.
- Learning how to make different kinds of noodles/dumplings and eating too much food.
- Finding joy in the smallest things like sneezes.
- Laughing because the only language you CAN speak fluently is Chinglish.
- Laughing even harder because you and your companion start acting like an old couple and you realize that both of you are super weird and will totally be awkward returned missionaries.
- Feeling older and older as you see new missionaries come out into the field.
- Meeting missionaries that taught your parents during TRC at the MTC. (DAD AND MOM, keep doing TRC!!!)
- Buying flowery spandex because they are comfortable to sleep in.
- Listening to Chen Mama tell stories about how she met her husband!  She's the cutest.  She related to us an experience she had a long time ago when her husband was still alive.  At school, her son's teacher asked the class to raise their hands if their parents fought at home.  All of the students raised their hands except Chen Mama's son!! Chen Mama later told me that whenever she and her husband got into an argument or had a little bit of tension, they would always write down their feelings instead of say them out-loud.  When they wrote down their feelings of tension/anger, they would always start laughing because they would realize how silly they were being for fighting/arguing about such petty things.  Don't you love that story?! - I made a goal and wrote in my journal to do the same.  Chen Mama also gave us insight on choosing who to marry.  She said that we should find someone who can 1. Cook vegetables, and 2. Visit old people.  I love how those two things are so simple but are totally indicators great qualities in any person.  :) 


- TWO of our less-actives/recent converts answered our phones this week and met with us!! YES! 
- Gao Su Fen, our investigator with a week D goal is totally progressing and attended church this week.
- One day, we had scheduled a new investigator at the church.  When we arrived, she didn't show up, but one of our other investigators was randomly at the church, so we sat down with her and had a miracle lesson.
- FIVE of our investigators came to church this week!!! 

WHEW!!! I haven't even written Thursday-Sunday's events, but, I think I included the most important content in this email!! 

There is seriously so much that I have learned during these past weeks on my mission. 

One last share:

Yesterday in church, we learned about CHARITY.  I feel like CHARITY is the best thing!!  In Gospel Principles, it says, "We should not try to decide whether someone really deserves our help or not (see Mosiah 4: 16-24).  If we have taken care of our own family's needs first, then we should help all who need help.  In this way we will be like our Father in Heaven, who causes rain to fall on the just and on the unjust alike (see Matthew 5: 44-45)."

By the end of my mission, I want to be able to say that I truly developed this Christlike attribute.  I want to be able to everyone and be humble enough to accept change and accept myself.  I know that it's just as important to love and accept yourself as it is to love and accept/help others.  Changing yourself to be in accordance with God's will is way more important than changing others to live in accordance with God's will.

I know that everything that has happened on my mission has happened for a reason.  I love learning and becoming the person God wants me to be.  I feel like He's really helped me to stay focused and really understand/realize how important it is to work diligently and faithfully.  I know that this church is true.  People ask me everyday why I'm serving a mission.  I feel like a huge reason was to find and develop a testimony of my very own.  So many times, I feel like the mission is for ourselves!! It's for us missionaries to find ourselves, to change ourselves, and to decide and make plans/prepare for the future.  I am constantly reminded of how merciful God is.  How great is His plan! How wonderful are His ways!!! I hope that regardless of what trials/hardships I face, I will be able to stand firm and always be willing to change and learn from every experience.

I love this work.  I love this church.   I can't even express to you all of the love I have for my family and this gospel!! 

I hope everyone of us can be able to develop Christlike qualities and strive to settle for nothing less than our best!!!!

Love you all so much! Thanks for all the emails, examples, and kindness!!!!! Keep it up!

Sister Verina Chen

Here are some fun pictures of me and Sister Liu on P-Day/other days when we are in the apartment.

One of them is of me in the poncho one night when we were drenched from the typhoon.  I was carrying Chen Mama's violin on my back and had to wear the poncho over the violin case, so I ended up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You can't really see it in the picture, but we both thought it was hilarious.

PS Sorry the pictures are so bad!! Sisters don't really have time to look all beautiful and stuff.