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.