Sunday, August 17, 2014

Good stuff and birthday fun

11 August 2014

Dear Family and All of You,

This week seemed to be just one long-drawn-out, exhausting event.  I can only remember the good parts, so let me tell you all about them:
Last Sunday we visited a member who hadn't been to church in probably 15 years.  We found out about her through another member we visited the previous week.  She set up an appointment and brought us and the branch president to her friend's house.  We had a nice visit and they all talked in Foochow, which I still don't understand, but she decided to come to church yesterday!  Not only that, she found that she had old friends in the branch, and they sat in the chapel after sacrament meeting, catching up on a lot of things they've missed over the years.  She even said she'll be coming to church every week now!  Yaayy for member missionary work!!
Wendy is still learning with us about 4-5 times in a week.  She's Malay-educated, so she's still learning to read Chinese.  It's slow going as we read the Book of Mormon together, but I love it!  She has such a willing heart and is so good at sharing her questions and concerns with us.  It's just a joy to work with her!  I'll let you know what happens as things develop.  Or, you could just read 1 Nephi 3 if you want to know what we're learning next.  Don't spoil it for me, though! :)
Happy Birthday to Elder Durrant!  His Birthday was Friday of this week.  We celebrated by going on companion exchanges.  I thought I wouldn't see him all day, but we met up at our lesson with Wendy, so that she could give him a birthday present.  We celebrated our reunion on Saturday with ice cream and cake, and I broke out the napkins that you sent me.  Hilaarious!
Thank you for the package! It is always great to get little pieces of home.  I absolutely LOVE the jellybeans, and I think the napkins are just the greatest.  I'll have to enlist the help of Elder and Sister Beus in order to make the brownies.  Our apartment doesn't have a large oven anymore.  We've got a small toaster oven, which is great for garlic bread, but makes for unique cakes.  You can see from the pictures I'll send how Elder Durrant's cake turned out:beautifully blackened on top, and with molten chocolate batter running out of cracks in the bottom. When he put in on a plate, we both laughed hard because it jiggled like jello, but managed to keep it's shape.  ("I have some loose birthday cake, okay."  wobble wobble.)  It was deliciously unhealthy!
Back to Friday's exchanges, I went out with Elder Sutherland (not to be confused with Elder Sutherland the Chinese Elder) to a far-away area for some faith finding.  In case you haven't done a lot of faith finding, it means that in companionship prayer you tell Heavenly Father exactly where you'll be and what you're trying to accomplish, then ask for His help to find someone who will become a new investigator.  We parked our bikes at the end of a long row of terrace houses [is that what they're called?] (one really big, long building with partitions and separate gates for different residents) and then I offered a prayer.  I said that we really needed new investigators and that we would be knocking down this row, trying to find someone who needed the gospel.  I asked that Heavenly Father would help us to find someone to teach.  The street was deserted, it was the afternoon time when no one's home from work, it was pouring rain, and the houses were so new that not all of them had residents.  These were small matters for the Lord, however.  We knocked on the very first gate, and out walked a girl about our age.  I explained (in probably the most boring way possible, sheesh) that we were missionaries and our purpose in coming was to share a message that blesses families.  I asked if we could share our message with her.  I was completely caught off-guard when she said, "right now?"  and, "Is this important?"  I stuttered, "Yes, this is very important."  She told us her parents weren't home but that we should come back on Sunday.
Well, Elder Sutherland and Elder Christensen went back on Sunday (because she spoke better Malay than Chinese), and said that it was the most Preach My Gospel perfect missionary lesson ever taught.  They had a branch member who became this family's friend right away, they followed many of the recommendations in Preach My Gospel about how to begin and what to teach, and they taught about the Restoration of the Gospel.  They said the family all soaked it up and were basically the perfect new investigators.  Wow!!  My testimony that the Lord is preparing people to receive the gospel was strengthened immensely from that experience, and I feel so grateful to see a miraculous answer to my prayers come so immediately.  It was so unexpected that I just laughed when the Elders told me about their meeting on Sunday night.
On a day when even my rubber shoes were starting to complain about being so drenched, and my planner was destroyed and my name cards turned to soggy lumps of pocket goo, I was skeptical that anything would be accomplished, but I was willing to try, and wiling to involve the Lord in our plans.  I know that He knows my situation and is willing to help me if I will just accept His help.  I know the same is true for everyone, and I'm so glad that I have a chance to share this message with people here!
Thank you for all the support you are to me, through your constant prayers, your yummy and funny gifts, your encouraging letters, and your outstanding examples!!  I love you all SO MUCH!!

Oh yeah . . .   One interesting thing I discovered as I read the scriptures this week:  In Jacob 7:27, the English is: "Brethren, Adieu."  The Chinese reads, "Brothers, I would that God be with all of you."

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