April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014 April Showers

Monday was great.  Sister Medrano and I spent the day emailing, shopping for groceries, cleaning, napping, eating, exploring, etc... At night, we had an appointment with Yang Dixiong who helped critique my 1st lesson status.  He helped me find simpler ways to teach our investigators.  Then, Sister Medrano and I biked our way to reactivate a less-active sister: Lai JM.  She has three daughters who also are less-active.  They haven't been to church for years, but guess what?! - They came to an activity on Saturday night and then church on Sunday.  They are really willing to meet with us every week.  We've got a member already involved with her, inviting her to live the word of wisdom and get involved with the church again.  Lai JM is a sister with incredible abilities, and her potential of becoming a leader is so GREAT.  We are all praying for her.

Tuesday, there was a little earthquake during personal study.  It was funny because I was talking on the phone while it was happening, and it wasn't really alarming to me, but Sister Medrano was like whispering at me: "Do you feel that?! We're like shaking!! Is it just me, or do you feel it too?!" hahahah... I think it threw her off that I was so calm.  It was probably one of the bigger earthquakes we've had over here, but it just rumbled our apartment a little.  Later that day, Sister Medrano and I printed off all the music for the musical fireside.  It's now on the 27th of Aprilinstead of the 12th because we have general conference on the 12th... Also, Chen Shi Xuan is actually going to be baptized on the 12th in between sessions as well.  (She's amazing! She totally planned out her own baptismal program and everything.  She picked her own hymns, the people she wants to speak, everything...)  We also got to print off a talk that the sister training leaders invited us to read.  It's called "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson.  READ IT.  We read it together while we ate dinner at a family mart, and we were blown away.  It was perfect.  We contacted at the train station where we had two sit-down lessons with two cute girls from Zhanghua.  They gave us their information and committed to say prayers when they got home.  Then, a Jehovah's witness who was listening in on our contacts totally came and started talking to Sister Medrano and me.  He spoke a little Spanish and said he's lived in Utah before.  He's now in Taiwan serving a mission that he has been on for like eight years.  Pretty long time, eh?! Anyway, we gave him a mormon.org card and stuff... We'll see if he checks it out.  Then, Sister Medrano and I biked to Yongjing to visit Chu Agon and Ama.  We sang Japanese songs and hymns with/for them.  

Wednesday was pretty regular with English proselyting, contacting, and English class.  This week, we are throwing the English party! We're doing an Easter Party kind of deal this week.  Sister Medrano and I are going to do the face painting. The elders are doing "funny bunny", and the other sisters are going to be hiding the eggs for an egg hunt.  It's going to be fun! :)  During English class this week, two of our students brought some tofu and some of these like bread/egg things for us to eat.  They were really thoughtful.  It's fun teaching the intermediate class because everyone in our class kind of understands English but not really... During the spiritual share, Sister Medrano was the boss.  She drew the cutest/funnest pictures on the board.  We have a fun time.

Thursday, I didn't really write in my journal that day, so my mind is kind of blanked, but I DID take some notes for personal study.  That day, I started reading the Bible for real.  I'm already Mark! :) Anyway, I absolutely love the parable that Christ shared with all of his disciples and his people.  Christ's life was full of the miracles he performed.  I love chapter five in Matthew and how it talks about all the things we can be blessed for being: poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger/thirst after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness' sake, reviled/persecuted by men for His sake.

"There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.  The blessings of eternity await you.  yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants on the stage of service." - President Thomas S. Monson

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." - Matt 10:16

"Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." - Matt 10:19,20

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." - Matt 10:22

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and HE THAT LOSETH HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT."

"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." - Matt 10:37-40

MAN, JUST READ THE BIBLE.  Sometimes I forget to read the Bible along WITH the Book of Mormon.  They are both true scriptures sent from God.  They BOTH testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  Now, I read the Bible whenever I have time before I go to bed and in the mornings during meals...  It's like the best!


MIRACLE: On Wednesday, this is what happened ( I finally remembered.)

So, Qiu Zhong Zhi, our ward mission leader is a math cram school teacher.  On Wednesday from 1-4 pm, Sister Medrano and I were invited to go to Puxin, where his school is and teach three classes about the gospel.  (Each class we taught for an hour each.)  That day, it was pouring rain, so when we got there, we were both really wet, and I was having a stomach ache, so it wasn't really convenient.  Anyway, we ended up teaching 36 students about the plan of salvation/Atonement of Christ/Prayer/Prophets.  We used visual comparisons, and the kids loved and understood everything.  After each lesson, we asked the kids if they would be willing to get baptized.  All of them were so willing and said yes...  It was amazing to us to see how pure and close to Christ children really are.  We know that they will remember our visit to them for the rest of their lives.  When we left, the kids all were really sad to see us leave and wished that we would come again.  CHILDREN ARE PURE AND CHRISTLIKE.  It was interesting to see the difference as we taught the older kids last.  It was almost as if the light of Christ was disappearing gradually from the eyes of of the older children. 

It just made me realize that without this gospel, our lives really do become dull and miserable.  With this gospel, however, we may remain pure and clean, full of hope and love, faith, and testimony of a better world. (Ether 12:4)


Also, a perfect quote to fit in with teaching the kids: "It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it." - John Taylor

That is what I've been striving to do recently.

We've been able to work more and more with our ward every day.    

Thursday night, we had a lesson with Zhang Yin Juan who was able to meet Qiu Lian Yue Huan, our ward mission leader's wife.  It was a perfect member lesson, and Yin Juan was able to feel the Spirit and continue striving for her baptism on May 10th.  

Friday was great.  Weekly planning went down, and personal study was great.

Saturday, we went to "saomu" up in Caotun.  "Saomu" is to clean the graves.  We woke up early that morning, threw on some jeans (yeah, that was like the first time in months that I've worn pants outside...) and then we headed to the train station to take a bus to Caotun where a member picked us up to take us to the graves.  It was an amazing experience, being able to see what it was like to celebrate this holiday.  Our district and a few other districts in our zone worked together to clean up and around all these graves.  It was pretty interesting to see how much build up and piles of trash and deposit were just laying around these graves.  We actually found some teeth... After we "saomu"ed, we walked to a member's home for "biandang" a box lunch.  It was great.  I got to talk to the member's mother, who wasn't a member of the church.  She was so cute and told us about all the different plants that she liked to have.  Sister Marissa Anderson took some pictures that day.  Maybe you can find her on facebook.  She'll probably post some pictures up from that day...

At night, we had a 1st/2nd ward night activity.  We all did a lot of preparation for the dinner and dancing that night.  The members are all so cute.  We had an investigator family attend along with that less-active we've been working with.  It was great!

Sunday was PERFECT.  Since I've been here for seven months and I might move next Monday, I decided to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting because next week is general conference, and I won't have a chance then.

One little miracle that we were pleased to witness was during that meeting. I went up to bear my testimony about the talk that the sister training leaders invited us to read last week "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson. The Spirit was strong as bore strong testimony. Since I was the first to go up and share my testimony, many other members immediately followed, each and every single one of them supporting what I had shared: Liu Li Ling, Liu Li Zhen, Yang Chen Shu hui, Amy, SISTER MEDRANO... The Stake President was the last one to speak. He testified of what everyone said that day and supported what I had shared about being aware of pride and repenting of our sins. We all found our eyes wet with tears.  

When Sister Medrano went up to bear her testimony, tears started just streaming down my face.  I feel like she's grown SO MUCH since she's come on island.  She wasn't able to express everything she would have liked using words, but the ward all FELT what she was trying to express through the Spirit, and that was more than enough.  One thing she said that touched the members was, "I may not be able to help you with my words, but I have these two hands." And then, she lifted up her hands and waved them in the air.  It was so cute, and everyone couldn't help but smile.  I am so blessed to know Sister Medrano.  I know that if I do happen to move next week, she will be able to care and love the  ward here as much and more than I have.

Sister Medrano and I are so happy together. She's really worked and prepared herself to become a spectacular companion and missionary. This week, she took the lead in daily planning, weekly planning, taking the phone, and leading discussions!! It was absolutely amazing to see how fast she has progressed. She's definitely ready to take on any calling that the Lord has in store for her. 

I really believe that the best and the greatest miracles are found in the events of our daily lives. The Holy Ghost truly works through us, and when we just give heed to his promptings, great things are truly brought to pass. We now have a new, active bishop. Our ward mission leader has a plan. We are meeting with the relief society presidency this Thursday. We have a baptism this Saturday: Chen Shi Xuan is a convert that I am confident will stay in the church forever.

I love this work. I love these people. I think I can really say that I would be more than willing to serve here for the rest of my life.  

The people are so kind and giving, especially the youth.  The other day, we ate dinner with Trevor and Li Yun (a young woman in the ward) at a hot pot place.  Li Yun looked at my mission watch and said that she wanted to get a watch like mine sometime.  Later that night, I took my watch off and put it on her arm.  I wanted her to keep it, and she did!

Yesterday during church, Li Yun and Trevor came up to me with a bag.  They had me open it!! Inside, I found a watch box and a brand-new, beautiful watch.  They both know that I MIGHT move, so they wanted to get me something.  It was the PERFECT gift.  Now, Li Yun wears my mission watch, and I wear the watch that she and Trevor bought for me.  :) You'll see it when I get back home.  It's gorgeous.

Okay, so I know that this email is so all-over-the-place, but last night, we had dinner with Sister Amanda Oaks and her husband who is now in Taiwan.  We also correlated the music fireside.  President Blickenstaff said that if I do move on the 14th, I will be allowed to come back the night of the fireside to perform with everyone.  :) The fliers that they made for the musical fireside look spectacular.  Apparently, Sister Oaks and her husband performed in the same quintet with Dr. Fox's daughter Kristie Peery. They totally know Dr. Fox.  It is actually probably the most outrageous miracle ever because of all this "anpai" going on.  God's hand is totally in this work.

Also, Liu JM, the one who is hosting the Oaks over here is from Utah and they say they will call Mom up when they get back to the states next month.  They are wonderful.  You'll love their family, so be expecting a call.

Oh, our ward correlation meeting yesterday after church was amazing.  Our ward mission leader Qiu DX got trained last week by our mission president on how to hold ward mission correlation.  YUANLIN IS PROGRESSING AND MOVING FORWARD.  Yesterday, we had 60 people at church.  We haven't had that many people at church for the 2nd ward in YEARS.  Also, we have a new bishop since our previous bishop wasn't ever present (he had work in China all the time.)

I have been so blessed to see Yuanlin transform over time.  It's truly being restored to the way it should be!!!!!

I love this work.  I love the Lord.  I glory in Him, I don't glory in myself because alone, I really AM nothing.  God is my strength.  He is my song.  I will praise His name forever.

Love you all,
Sister Verina Chen

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