Dearest family and friends,
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!!!! WOOOOO!! So since it's like the biggest celebration over here, the ward members from BOTH 1st and 2nd ward are treating us missionaries out to eat like every day of the week starting February 30th.
WARNING: Any picture you may be seeing in the future may or may not be shocking.
In other words, I may or may not look/seem/appear to be ... fat. (Let's just be blunt.) Okay, but to be true, I am aware and will be aware of my weight. I'll try keeping it in control. HA
Okay! Sister MEdrAno. (Yeah, in the last email, I mixed up the "E" and the "A" in her name... HOW EMBARRASSING!") Anyway, I am redeeming myself right now. Sister Medrano is amazing. I haven't heard her complain ONCE since we have started serving together. She is so humble, patient, kind, and mature in all she does and say. I don't know why, but everyone says that training is hard, and for some reason, it's probably the easiest thing I've done so far on my mission. I'm not even kidding. My mission just seems to keep going uphill. I didn't think it could just keep getting better and better, but it IS. I'm learning so much with/from Sister Medrano, and we're working better than ever to help pull this work here in Yuanlin.
This week was another great week. I learned so much. I'll just include some of my journal entries so you can get a little taste of the most important events.
-I've been contacting more and finding more success with the people recently.
-I'm happier. I pray more.
Last night, Trevor bore his testimony during our ward correlation meeting. He made mention that our hands are really only so big. It brought into perspective the fact that we as missionaries weren't expected to pull this work all by ourselves in the first place. Heavenly Father loves us. We ARE His children. He is working here in the vineyard with us, and He IS full of grace and mercy. I love Him for that. I love Him for loving me unconditionally. That allows me to love HIM always and TRUST in Him always.
Yesterday, we went tracting behind the church. We were able to find and say prayers with two young people who opened up their doors. Bishop Li's daughter actually accompanied us, and it was great to witness such an awesome, pure desire to do missionary work in such a young woman. I felt a lot of admiration and respect for her.
During English class tonight, Sister Medrano and I taught the children. As always, they were running around and shouting at the top of their lungs. It was pretty hilarious because we were trying to teach them how to say "I like to swim! I like to run! I like to jump, etc." We would do the actions to go along with the words, so we would run in place, jump, walk, dance, etc. to help the children learn the words. Anyway, in an attempt to help the children say, "I like to swim!"... I said, "I like to SWIMMING" instead... After I said that, Sister Medrano and I couldn't help but start cracking up in the middle of class. All the kids didn't know why we were laughing so hard, but it was seriously the funniest thing. (It probably doesn't sound as funny as I'm typing/trying to explain it now...) Hopefully you get the point.
Also, our investigator VILIA, the Russian teacher is now on date for March 1st. We had to give her to the elders since we're not taking over 1st ward anymore, but the transition went really smoothly. :) She's so awesome.
-Yes... AS bitter cold as this morning was, I DID wake up to go running.
The whole day, Jamie (Wu Jia Shan) - one of the young women in our ward - helped accompany our lessons. She is so awesome, and I'm pretty sure I'm giving her my mission bike at the end of my mission. She has a twin, and her parents are currently less-active. Oh man, I can't wait to tell you all about her when I get back home. She's seriously such an amazing young woman, and I love/admire her so much.
This morning, we contacted with the youth at the train station. One of the girls I contacted ended up looking me up on facebook. Maybe I'll be able to introduce her more to the gospel when I get back home. Anyway, everyone that I talked to told me that they usually hate talking to the missionaries. Missionaries over here don't really have the best reputation, and so when people see them on the streets, they kind of just ignore them. It was a great opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings and just let the people feel and understand that missionaries are normal people. There's nothing like planting seeds. I talked to this one guy who agreed to give missionaries a chance the next time he ran into them. :) Score!
Here are some scriptures that I've been dwelling on recently:
2 Nephi 22:3
Enos 1: 27
Jiang Me Hui treated us out to dinner last night. She cooked hot pot dishes. I was able to speak and spend time chatting with her son about religion, our Book of Mormon, etc. It was interesting. Her son is 16/17. Anyway, he got baptized young and then he left our church for a different Christian church. He explained to me the prejudice that people have against "Mormons" and missionaries.
Anyway, I just listened to him and then expressed/bore my testimony of the truthfulness and the sense that comes from truly making efforts to first understand others before making judgement/presumptions. Well, in the end, he was actually comfortable and reasonable as he talked and admitted he really hadn't understood the Book of Mormon. He hadn't really made that extra effort to understand scriptures in general.
The main point of this story is this: In his past, missionaries would just talk his ear off. They would just talk and talk about the gospel and not listen or try to know him first. He said that when he talked to me, there was definitely a shocking difference. I'm not saying this to brag about the way I teach or how amazing I am as a missionary. Don't get me wrong!
I'm sharing this experience to make this point: God really needs genuine missionaries who are honest and true. He needs people who are willing to open themselves and humble themselves - people who are REAL and really listen to His children.
These people are REAL people. They aren't just numbers or foreigners! These people are God's children. They have great worth. Their souls are great. They are individuals who have real needs. They are our brothers and sisters who need to be loved with a perfect and patient love.
More than that, we must have integrity. We must respect ourselves enough to respect others. We must try. We must try to stand in the shoes of those we see - those we hear - those we associate with.
We MUST try, and when we do, we discover great things. Our eyes are opened to new sights, and we are able to decipher what to do - what to say- what to HEAR before we make significant decisions.
I guess it's hard to put my exact feelings/thoughts into words. I don't know if any of you get/understand what I'm saying, but I hope that maybe you can get something from the point I tried to get through.
Today, Sister Medrano and I spent a lot of time with Miranda. We ended up walking from her hotel to the church so that she could come and attend family home evening with us.
In the morning, we had stake conference. Chen Shi Xuen and Huang Ren Mei made it to church, and I was able to translate for Sis. Medrano. The talks were all really enriching and uplifting.
After conference, we went home for studies. I fasted again for our area. Can you believe it?! It's already been 19 days since I started the purification process, and I already feel like I'm transforming/changing into a different kind of missionary.
During FHE, Miranda wanted to take a little walk, so Sister Medrano and I ended up talking to her for an hour about her recent reflections/thoughts. As we talked with her, I realized that God really has a perfect plan for all of us. Coming out on the mission has allowed me to meet so many people that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to meet. Since Miranda grew up in New York/America basically all of her life, we were able to communicate the whole time in English. It felt really weird having such a long conversation about God and life with her, but it was also really cool!
I've realized that what the world needs is real, genuine good. We do need more people who are tender, kind, refined, faithful, good, virtuous, and pure. Coming on the mission has led me to realize how important our actions are. Especially in regards to sisters and women in the church, our actions are so important! We DO have an influence on the world. We DO impact and control more than we know. If women allow bad things to continue happening, then the course of our existence will continue making a downfall. I've realized/noticed that when women lower their standards, the world lowers its standards as well.
The other day, Sis. Medrano and I were talking about this, and she mentioned the quote from "Fiddler on the Roof." It goes something like this: "The man is the head of the household, but the woman is the neck." Anyway, it really helped me to take a step back and look at my actions. I'm more determined to be a better example and to never lower my standards. Women DO need to continue fighting and standing for that sold, good truth. I know that if we do what we know is to be good and true, the world will become a much better place. We will be rewarded numberless and infinite blessings in the Kingdom of God.
I know that God is there. He is listening. We can communicate directly with Him. I know that sometimes we are judged and mocked for upholding the standard that we do, but in the end, it really just comes down to what we ourselves have thought - what we have done - what we have decided to choose and do. Others may mock and scorn, but we can choose to love, to be open-minded, to understand, to make righteous judgement, to live a better life. Life is full of decisions and choices. I know that I have been changed and uplifted by this gospel. Sometimes I'm not able to express it through words (especially now as I'm trying to type this), but the point is I have a testimony and a knowledge of the truth of this gospel!
God IS weeding out the good from the bad right now. We're like His army, and all we need to do is stand firm in the faith - believing and fighting for His name and His cause.
Scriptures are amazing!! If you haven't read them and understood them, then I definitely invite you to do so. That's really the only way to understand everything that I feel and everything that I try to say all the time!!
Alright, sorry for another confusing email. I really don't have time to make my emails concise, and so that makes them a little scatter-brained all the time.
Love you all,
Sister Verina Chen