Monday, April 27, 2015

27 April 2015

It has been a really special week this week. My planner is covered right now with a picture I took from the Book of Mormon and it says
"... yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
My sentiments very much echo Ammon's today. This week we put our heads down and worked hard. We tract everyday. We did our best to get the program put together, we prayed a lot a lot a lot. We had a few learning curves too I would say. We taught some people, we taught some lessons and then recommitted ourselves to do better and to teach people instead! A few people we are working with found out they've been diagnosed with cancer.... The Lord protected has protected us and those we are working with. And it all culminated this weekend with the baptism of Kyle and Kirsty!!

I felt the Spirit so strongly during their baptismal service, watching them go through it all, it made me remember my own baptismal covenants. And the testimony that they bore was so beautiful. Kirsty bore her testimony first - so brave! - she said that this had been quite a long journey but that she knows she is in the right place. And she talked about what a blessing their daugther Harriet is in their life - and that even her super friendly nature is a gift from Christ and that she knows that this is His church. Kyle started by saying that he was no social butterfly but then he just spoke from his heart. He spoke about how he was pretty agnostic for most of his life but that now he knows that God led him to Kirsty so that she could lead him to His church. And he spoke about how he knew for sure that God was there now and how a big part of his realisation of that was Harriet - because how could they create something so perfect? It must be from God. And Harriet is walking up and down the first row, throwing her arms in the air and smiling so hugely the whole time. He said he has no doubt whatsover that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that Thomas S Monson is a prophet today. Baptismal services are so special! I'll always remember it.

Also we sang a musical item - When I Am Baptised - and singing it reminded me of the time my little sister sang it for a solo in primary presentation and I was shocked because (1) she didn't tell us she had a solo and (2) she sounded GOOD! Not like she sounds when she used to wake me up by singing the Alex Boye and Carmen R version of "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today".... and the elder's investigator joined our musical item also with us. And primary songs are so great. Sister Soh was primary music leader before her mission and it sounds like so much fun! Thank goodness for her and for her experience. The lyrics are for the song that we sang are:
I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain (and it rained a lot last week)
and ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again
I know when I am baptised my wrongs are washed away
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain
I want to be the best I can and live with God again
Isn't that such beautiful, simple, clear doctrine? Coming from the mouth of babes usually! I have gained a testimony of the children's songbook!
Also in case you were wondering how the other colourful people from Christies Beach if you recall previous entries...

SANDY the same as ever! She has a solid testimony and is always telling us stories about when she gets the chance to share the gospel with others. She hasn't been too well lately after some surgery, and then a male redback spider bit her (! at least not female?) .... so we've missed her at church for a while. But perhaps this is part of the reason why I've been sent back to Christies Beach. Unfinished business! Gotta help out where I can. And Tiny, Thumbelina and Blossom her three saint bernard dogs are also the same as ever. Still big and furry and slobbery haha.

... and Paul are doing great too! Paul has been rebaptised which is awesome, and when I think of his story I can't help but link it to the Tad R Callister quote about things that you can live with and things that you cannot. He knows he cannot live without the gospel anymore. And Desiree is doing so well - she's back in Australia for a few years at least and she's studying and they are moving closer to the chapel soon so hopefully we'll have two new additions to the weekly Book of Mormon class!
- Kyle and Kirsty's baptism obviously. Precious family dressed in white! (:

- Sister Funaki and Sister Hartley. These are two awesome sisters! They found my camera which went MIA after the baptism. And when they returned it they returned it with a little bit extra! This was my favourite photo hehe.

- My mum sent me this photo. My brother has come home!!!!!!!! Even though I am not there with him, I still think words cannot express how happy I am that he is reunited with the family. He has come so far. We have come so far! (Ella is so tall!)

So, keep the faith! I'm so grateful to be a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Life isn't always easy, but I've learned so much. And I feel so blessed. The Lord takes care of my family, he takes care of my area. Really, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?

Keep praying! Keep going! Have a great week! (: 
20 April, 2015

Last Pday after emailing/shopping/etc. we went and did some art with Jenny and her pop-up shop on Beach Rd! It was super fun. Jenny is really cool - I know you'd like her. She's so bubbly and full of life and dreams. We made letter paper (the 3 pages of which I have sent off by now - I would use 3 pages just like that) using (okay forgive my terminology but I shall call it) stamps and watercolour textas and it was SO much fun. She told us, "just let go! if you make a mistake that's okay, that's just called art." And I love that!! There's no use in being a perfectionist. It takes a righteous desire to do good and turns it into something unrealistic and stressful (in my experience at least)... And what she said actually reminded me a lot of repentance. Not that it is "okay" to sin, but that in the grand scheme of things, we all sin, we all sin everyday, even the prophet sins, the only person who walked sinless on the earth is Jesus Christ. And so in admitting that, and working through your mistakes, learning from your mistakes, changing (i.e. repenting) .... that's what life is all about. And that mindset is so much more hopeful than I think what immediately comes to mind when somebody says "repent!" hahaha. 
I also admire how even as you "let go" a lot of skill in art really actually comes by a marvelous amount of self discipline. And I thought there was a lesson in that too. 

And final thought tangent is a quote for Tad R. Callister that I really admire. "I can live with some human imperfections, even among prophets of God - that is to be expected in mortal beings. I can live with some alleged scientific findings contrary to the Book of Mormon; time will correct those. And I can live with some seeming historical anomalies; they are minor in the total landscape of truth. But I cannot live without the doctrinal truths and ordinances restored by Joseph Smith, I cannot live without the priesthood of God to bless my family, and I cannot live without knowing my wife and children are sealed to me for eternity. That is one choice we face- a few unanswered questions on one hand versus a host of doctrinal certainties and the power of God on the other." 

This just speaks to my soul. Faith is a gift from God, and it is a gift worth praying for, asking for, fighting for the freedom to express.

One seemingly innocent Thursday after vising the temple, two elders walked into the newly opened Costco to go eat some pizza. Their daydreams of pizza were interrupted by, 'Hey Elders! Come over!' as a young family waved them over to their table. That was the start of how we met Kyle and Kirsty but their conversion story begun long before even that. 
Have you ever heard of #tumblrstake? I hadn't until a few weeks ago. I'd just like to thank all those who use the Internet for good. 
Their baptism is scheduled for this Saturday! We are so excited for them. They're such a beautiful family, and they've taught me a lot - about commitment and watching how excited they are about the prospect of entering the temple themselves, the prospect of finally joining the church that they have believed to be true for so long ... and also I've learned that Satan does not give up, he tries and he tries and in the face of it seems any kind of covenant or step forward you take to get closer to Heavenly Father, Satan is there to thwart that. But we know that he cannot win. The Book of Mormon (I'm up to Alma again! War chapters!) teaches it so, so simply that you can't misunderstand it. When you are righteous, you prosper in the land. Not to say that you don't go through hardship, see Mosiah 24 for that one, but the Lord takes care of His own. So if you are on the verge of something good, don't give up! He is there for you.  

Brian was supposed to give us "the sign" when he was ready to investigate the church. Weeks pass, some progress is shown but mostly we're just like - we know he feels the Spirit when he goes to church, we know he feels the Spirit when we teach his family (he's staying with some family who are part of the church at the moment) why won't he just investigate?
And then we start plotting how to help him investigate and how awkward it is and hahahaa we realised probably we weren't helping the awkwardness because beating around the bush really doesn't ever help. So we just prayed and felt it was time to teach him, sign given or not. 
We come into the dinner appt and chat with his uncle who asks us what we'll teach. We have Plan A) light message, commitment to investigate next time Plan B) first lesson, commitment to be baptised. The uncle says he thinks Brian is ready for the first lesson. Good thing we become meticulous planners on our mission, hey? 
So we go with lesson 1. And it was so, so powerful!!!!!! not us. But the Spirit that was present as the family - whose conversion levels are all at different places - shared their testimonies, experiences with priesthood blessings and conversion stories. In the midst of it all, we asked Brian how he felt. He said he felt "buzzy" (what was that? I wondered) and then I realised he was feeling the Spirit and I remembered a story that somebody else told me when he joined the church. He said that his wife told him to pray about the Book of Mormon and he did and he felt so funny, like emotions churning inside and he didn't like it because he was a man and what were feelings? But his wife, being a returned missionary, knew better and explaining to him that that was how the spirit works with us oftentimes. 
And so we taught about the Spirit, using the handy restoration pamphlet and Brian bravely committed to prepare for baptism next month! dun dun DUN! Missionary work is so exciting :D 
To cement the feelings of the Spirit (and because the family is musical and I know music helps us to feel the Spirit), we closed with hymns. Love One Another and  #136 - I Know That My Redeemer Lives. I love that hymn.  
So I think morals from this story include (a) missionary work is awesome (b) trust the Spirit (c) you can spend your whole life waiting, sometimes, maybe, you just have to jump and trust in God. 

Also Sister Soh is awesome. She calls the animals I am allergic to away from me. She runs with me (and often ahead of me) and she has a powerful testimony that she can definitely say is her own. I think that's what makes a testimony powerful. You can have eloquence and awesome stories but if they aren't your own, then it isn't enough to get you through to the end of the day, it isn't what touches a sincere investigator's heart. I'm so blessed to be serving with her in Christies Beach. As our District Leader Elder Hefa says, Christies Beach is BURNING! (I totally did have a lot of unfinished business it seems.) 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015

 Chillin out in the beach with my Preach my Gospel...

Because we have to swim against the current in today's world. it's from this month's Ensign

Last week was really great! We had 3 rescues at church! Which means that somebody who hasn't come to church in a very long time has come and partaken of the ordinance of sacrament and renewed their baptismal covenants. It was so wonderful to see the ward members gather around these lost sheep now found. And they looked so happy to finally be back. Each story is so intricate I couldn't do it justice by describing it. How great is the glory of God, He watches over all of His sheep, and He beckons us to return to His fold. 

I was given the opportunity to share my testimony during the zone activity yesterday. And I want to share it again with all of you.

I know that my redeemer lives. And I know that because He lives, all is not lost. I know that hard times are a necessary part of life - it is so crazy, I've heard that for so much of my life but I really didn't come to a deeper understanding of it until recently. I remember when I visited Hiroshima in high school and I saw the devastation and horror and I asked why, why did this have to happen? The children really got to me. And I see it so often in the mission field. People trying their hardest and going through trials. I saw it in myself. When I've been giving all I've got and still had to face trials that I couldn't control. I asked, why Heavenly Father? Why is this burden so heavy, why is my cup so full?

But I realise now that I could've been praying for different things instead of asking why. We won't know why these things happen in this earthly life a lot of the time. But we can accept with faith that it is for our own good. That our Father in Heaven loves us and is mindful of us. And that although we may not receive immediate relief, we can receive the strength to bear well our trials and to learn the necessary lessons. I know that this is true. 

I know that a loving God allows pain and suffering in this world and that is because He loves us. If you have any questions, see the recent April 2015 Ensign! Some articles in there explain it really well. 

I love you all! Happy Easter! Have a great week!! :)