Monday, October 20, 2014

Cottage Gove: Week 7 (54) "Lift Where you Stand"

Another week has gone and past, and each and every day, Sister Amis reminds me of how much closer it is that our mission will soon be over. I don't like those thoughts but it sure drives me to want to do EVEN more and to dedicate even more of my heart, might, mind and strength!!

One of my favorite things about being in a family ward is the opportunity that I truly have each and everyday to serve, to lift where I stand. Whether it be to clean an overwhelmed young mother's kitchen, to folding 5 baskets of children's laundry, to bearing testimony to a young mother of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to waking up at 3 AM in the morning to decorate for my lovely sister's birthday, the work of Christ is all the same. Christ always lifted where He stood. He was about to go forth to do His Father's will of ministering to the other lost tribes of Israel after he appeared as a resurrected being to the people of the American continent, but instead he paused and lifted where He stood. 
"But now I go unto the Father and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Isreal, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them. And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy." (3 Nephi 17:4-7)

After this, Christ healed all who came unto Him, and then He tarried with them for MUCH longer, chapters after chapters where they continued to instruct and to teach them. BUT FIRST he loved them, he gained their trust, HE CARED FOR THEM first. He did not come to teach them about the sacrament, or to teach them about baptism, just to teach them, but He came to love them first. 

My goal for the rest of my mission is to lift where I stand. My goal for the rest of my LIFE is to lift where I stand, and to learn to be a lifelong disciple of Christ. To learn how He would think, learn how He would feel, to learn how He would act, and to learn what He would do in all circumstances. 

Fun times this week!
Alrighty, on to some joyous once in a lifetime events of this week! So ya, haters don't hate, judgers don't judge, but WE, the missionaries, got to go watch a movie in the movie theatres this past week!!!!!

Okay, without explanation, that might sound a little apostate, so hear me out! So have you all heard of the new movie produced by the Church, or even more, the FIRST EVER MOVIE produced by the church that is being played in the movie theatres? Meet the Mormons made it's way to Minnesota and on Saturday, we gotta bring some of our investigators to go watch the movie/documentary, right in the nick of time for Sister Amis' birthday. Wow, that sure was a fun treat, and an once in a lifetime missionary opportunity. 

But it amazes me over and over again of how a real life movie of six different real life Mormons around the world have the opportunities to share a little of what we believe in, who we are, how we live our lives, and what our faith means to us, on the big movie screens. It was indeed an inspirational movie. Shar and Robby, you should go check it out in Philly! Because of our faith, I literally feel like I have a tie to ALL these people, with all walks of life and all different backgrounds and cultures. From the Mormon infested grounds of Salt Lake City Utah, to the hidden, mysterious tall Himalayan mountains of Nepal, Mormons are everywhere and we are all united in the same faith. It is beautiful to see! We truly are a part of a world wide family, a world wide family of God.

Have a blessed week everyone! Smile all the while and turn to help someone in need today!


Sis Pao! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cottage Grove: Week 1 (48) "Adventure TRULY is out HERE!"

Last picture of Dinkytown. The sky is literally on fire!
Ya, when I told you that I was venturing outside of the city away from the U of M campus, I wasn't kidding when I said that adventure TRULY IS OUT THERE!

I love Cottage Grove with every bit of my heart already. It truly is my new Sacred Grove. The work is indeed very different here, but can I please tell you that every day is an adventure! There ain't a boring day over here, I tell ya, my friend. And adding to all that excitement, or may I say, completing that is my new beloved companion Sister Amis, or aka, Sister "friend" for those of you who don't speak French. haha I LOVE THE HECK OUTTA HER.

So before I dive full fledge into the going abouts in my new area,
I'll go through a slight recap of my week earlier. 

Monday night, I literally was broken-hearted. We spent the day at the Institute building just relaxing, and playing the piano and playing ping pong, and soaking in the last of Dinkytown. We then went home and packed packed packed! (and hey Shar, I really was quite impressed with myself, I didn't have as much as I expected to have especially since I stayed there for a whole year! Sis. Huang surprisingly had WAY more stuff than i did!, so ha! I'm doing better...although i'm sure all my suitcases are still overweight for when I do have to hop on a plane...haha, but that's something to worry about later.)
Ekitzel Wood (Kitz) then came and brought us out to dinner, one last chance to get some pretty authentic Chinese food at Litte SzeChuan before going out into the wild of Minnesoota. 
Monday night, Elder Wall also found out that he won't be extending his mission so a bunch of the YSAs and the missionaries sang God Be With You Til' We Meet Again. Saddest thing ever. broke my heart all over again. Seriously, moving areas after staying there for one whole year literally felt like leaving home all over again. I probably didn't even feel so sick leaving home, than I did leaving Dinkytown and all my new converts, my children!

But anyways, Tuesday night, we had our Last Supper at the Institute dinner with almost all of our Chinese and other YSA's. It was lovely to get to see them all again. Then out of nowhere, Preston, one of our Chinese converts brought us bubble Tea! 撞奶style! So yummy! and then even more out of nowhere! Karem brought me a package that Sister Huang and the rest of the everyone in Dinkytown had put together for me to open on my one year mark! I was so shocked. Sister Huang, that stinker, always going behind my back doing secret combination works. She is just the most thoughtful, charitable person ever. I think that I am forever indebted to her as well. 

The morning of transfers came and it didn't feel as hard to be leaving, surprisingly. I think I was numb to it all until I stepped foot into the Bloomington Chapel for transfers meeting and then I realized that "This is Real Life!" But lo and behold transfers happened and now i'm ka-Powing it up in this new area of mine. 

The work here truly is different. No more Chinese. No more student carefree lives. No more constant flow of people to talk to on the campus. But now it's real life. Real family life situations. Real struggles (not that the students didn't have any) but it's just different. These are people dealing with families, children with autism, marital problems, divorces, addictions, deaths, sicknesses, debt, poverty, work, wayward children, you name 'em all. I feel like I have been in a bubble all my mission, living in a state of innocence and carefreeness. But now I feel even more alive, as I recognize that these are real life situations where the Gospel and healing powers of Christ's Atonement can literally extend to as well. Numbers and reaching goals of how many lessons taught just became so much less important, because these are real children of God, real people, real brothers and sisters that we are working with, that we are serving, that we are uplifting. I am glad that I had felt the importance of this scripture all in preparation of getting to this new area. Now I see the truth and significance of this scripture that much more!: I have learned the power of that scripture right off the bat through my lovely Sister friend, Sister Amis. She's Real. 

Here's the story of our friendship:
Once upon a time, two naive and innocent Sister missionaries stepped off the plane in Minnesota, cluelessly picked up their bags and was shuttled off to the Mission Home in Bloomington Minnesota. Neither knew any of the other missionaries that had come out with them because both had been on a different campus in the MTC. Realizing that, they decided to stick together for a little while even though neither one of them knew each other too well as well. Both however found out that they had both studied at BYU and knew some mutual friends from living in Helaman Halls Freshman Year. One was from Seattle WA and the other from Vancouver, Canada. Both had an appreciation for Fossil Watches ;)
After that first day of brief introductions, they went their separate ways for a whole year of their mission, neither living even within close distances to each other. Little did they know, a year later, they would become companions! And now the rest is history, waiting to be written!

Sister Amis is so great. She is half Mexican and half White, she studied at BYU before coming out here, she is from Seattle Washington, and loves the colour orange. 

So far, it's been a blast! Within the 4 days of being in Cottage Grove, we talked to a shirtless guy at his door, a few drunken people, got caught biking in a thunderstorm, ate 2 dinners in one night (full fledged dinners as well), acted out the story of the tree of life in a family's backyard, learned to knit with Grandma Gallus, met a man who in turn, prayed for us to find truth, Heart Attacked 3 families doors in the dark, and loved and taught two autistic little boy and girl. This place is the place to be. And as much as the ward is struggling with a lot of less-actives and trust issues, we are going to do all within our ability, seriously giving me all, to help build their trust, to help lift their burdens, to serve them in a way that I could've never been able to serve in Dinkytown. Prepare for great miracles and stories to be told my friends. 

I love you all dearly!

Sister Pao
Bike 'til you drop!
Ya, you tell me what's wrong with this picture.
My new companera!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dinkytown (not for long anymore): Week 47 "Adventure is Out There!"

This has been the most exhilarating crazy and eventful, and unique week of my whole mission, filled with unexpected adventures.

Wednesday afternoon, the two Taiwanese Elders, Elder Chou and Elder Tseng moved into our area early, before transfers! They moved in early to have us train them in the Chinese work and to help them transition smoothly and to pick up smoothly right where we'll leave off. I have full faith in them that they are choice spirits prepared by our loving Heavenly Father to be here for all the many new Chinese converts, and moreover, the future ones to come. I am so excited for them!
Although I am wholeheartedly excited for them, it is still quite bittersweet to be leaving Dinkytown. This has been my home for the past year of my life! Getting transferred feels like leaving home all over again. Despite all that, Sister Huang and I were so blessed to have been prepared before hand for this change. Sister Huang and I had the opportunity to speak in Sacrament meeting this past Sunday. The Spirit was strong. I was filled with happiness and comfort that all will be okay.

On to new and exciting adventures! Everything will be terrifical, as Cynthia Peski Pao would put it :)
So with that, I will officially be moving on to the Cottage Grove area to become a Sister Training Leader with Sister Amis (I came out with her!) I am beyond excited to have the privileges of going on exchanges with other sisters serving out in the Minnesota Mission and to help uplift and strengthen different people. Change is good. Change allows us to go through the process of repentance and to become more and more refined. I can't wait to tell you all the new events that will take place. By the time you hear from me again next week, it will be bye bye to Dinkytown, and hello to Cottage Grove, Minnesota! 

Dear President and Sister Forbes,

Happy Transfers week! This has definitely been the most exhilarating transfer of my life/ my whole mission! So much unknown was ahead of us this week, but yet it was also probably the most unique week so far with the experiences that we have gained. We hope that we have done enough to help the Chinese Elders transition and become familiarized with all of the Chinese new converts and investigators. I just know that they are going to impact so many people's lives here in Dinkytown, and that God has prepared them to be here exactly in this moment. 
"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren/ [sisters], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (D&C 123:17) This scripture kept reoccurring in my thoughts this week, as we've continued to face all these changes to come, head on. I know that as we wholeheartedly devote all our heart, might, mind, and strength into doing the will of God, that Christ will make up for the rest of what we cannot do on our own. I can say that I have felt that assurance all week.

As I've reflected upon my mission so far this week, I wanted to share with you the joys and re-confirmation that I have gotten of how much I know this scripture to be true: "For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ."
So many people have been prepared to come to the promise land, where they can freely learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have witnessed that over and over again on my mission.

This past week, we had the privilege of teaching a Chinese family, Brother and Sister Zheng (Lei, and Lina). Sister Lina Zheng had moved to Minnesota about a year and a half ago, and her husband just moved here 3 months ago. Lina has always believed in a God, but she never identified herself as any specific faith. She attended multiple different Christian churches here in Minnesota, but never felt like any of them had the "full truth." She recognized all the good, and basic truths that are in all religions, but was always confused about which of them is real. All up until about three weeks ago, when the Plymouth Elders contacted them on their way home from the store. As she heard the message of the Restoration unfolded before her, she was overjoyed to hear the analogy of the broken mirror, of how she truly did believe that there are bits and pieces of truths in all religion, but because of the Restoration, she has finally found the place where the fulness of truth can be found. Her husband, a Christian for the majority of his life as well was very intrigued with the idea that we lived before we were born onto the earth. His wife had always believed in the Pre-mortal life, coming from the Buddhist faith, but her husband had always disagreed with that fact, just up until we shared with him the scripture Jeremiah 1:5. He was amazed. We were astonished at how prepared they both are to hear of this message. Moreover, the reason why they had decided to move to the U.S. is mainly because they hope to provide a better educational environment for their two year old daughter, and they also hope to have more children. They are a very special family indeed, and we can't wait for the growth that they will experience as the Chinese Elders continue to teach them.

With the new area and new companion that I will soon be having as this week continues to unfold before us, I hope to better live the attributes of this scripture, as I seek to constantly ask myself "What more can I do, or how can I be better?"
"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works." (Alma 7:23-24)

Thank you President for the brief but meaningful counsel that you gave to me over the phone last night. I am looking forward to serving others, and lifting others above myself. We love and support you! See you Wednesday!

Sister Pao

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 46 "God Be With you 'Til We Meet Again"

It is somber news to hear about the passing of those two fine, stalwart Elders in Taiwan. My heart and prayers goes out to them and to their families. Mom, thanks a lot. I bawled when I read your email this morning about the news. Don't worry about me though, I am safe here and still kicking and screaming. It is extra saddening to me to hear their news nonetheless, because although I don't know them personally, one of the Taiwanese Elders is Sister Huang's good friend. As her companion and since we are one in unity, I weep with her, but at the same time, we stand assurred that he is well and that he still is serving an honorable mission on the other side of the veil.
With that, a little insight of why I decided to title this email God Be With you Til We Meet Again, to add to all the sentimental effects, we received a personal call from President Forbes this past Wednesday, that Sister Huang and I will officially be moving and transferred out of the Dinkytown area Wednesday Sept. 3rd. It was the weirdest calmest feeling that swept over me after we had hung up, which was very surprising because neither of us were expecting this. We were both expecting to stay for one more transfer to train and overlap with the Taiwanese Elders, but nope, Heavenly Father has greater plans in mind for us.
To be honest, I didn't know what to think after the call. This has been my home literally for the past year of my life. But after much praying and pondering, and evaluating, we both saw a glimpse into how perfect Heavenly Father's plan is for each of us. Why He timed it for now for us to leave, why President called us earlier to give us a heads up about the news, why He allowed Sister Huang to serve next to each other for half a year, why He allowed ME to serve here for ONE year, EVERYTHING, that we could think of benefitted me as a missionary, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a student, as a future mother, and then moreover, how this will benefit our members, our investigators, our recent Chinese converts all for the better! It is just absolutely astonishing how God manages to make everything work. I could just sit for days explaining how perfect this has been, but I won't bore you all anymore.
Instead I wanted to share my email to President this week with you all because I think this will give you a slight glimpse of all the miracles and JOY I have been feeling. I LITERALLY FEEL LIKE IM EXPLODING WITH HAPPINESS!!!

Dearest President and Sister Forbes,

First off, sorry this email is SO long, but we just have soooo many miracles that we want to share with you.
We are just overflowing with blessings, and miracles, and an abundance of joy. I literally am enjoying a taste of what it feels like when God promises us to open the windows of heaven to pour down blessings upon us, that we will not even have enough room to receive it-- don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about all the blessings, but just recognizing and realizing the hand of the Lord is so many aspects of our lives. It really is overwhelmingly beautiful!

President, we truly do appreciate you letting us know ahead of time of our move. That was a miracle in itself. As much as we want to be the "perfect" absolutely "consecrated" missionaries that we strive to be, our heart and mind will still sometime fall short, and it's definitely take some time to wrap our minds around the changes to come. Don't worry though, it is not hindering any of our work and effectiveness because thankfully for the Sabbath, I was able to more fully come to terms that it's okay that I am sad about leaving, it's okay that I may not fully want to change, and it's okay that perhaps if by my own terms, I cannot feel well about it. But because my Savior can instill in me hope and ennable me to come to terms with anything, I trust and have faith in Him, and hence, He has ennabled me to move forward continuously. We have seen countless miracles because of it.

Our most recent convert just arrived back from Salt Lake City a couple of days ago. Cedric Shan went to Salt Lake with his family that was visiting from China. Right at the start of their trip, they found out that his grandpa back in China had passed away. He was very close to his grandpa, and thought that he would feel devestated and would not have the mind or energy to continue to bring his family around to tour the U.S., especially since none of them understood English, and none of them could drive in America, all their accomodations and needs ands concerns were thrown upon his shoulders. He came to tell us that to be honest, if he had not learned about this Gospel, and the Plan of Salvation and had been baptized just a little more than a month earlier, he would not have been able to function properly and to enjoy the rest of their family's trip here. Because of all these trials right after his baptism and how he so calmly took care of and handled the situations, his family saw a difference and recognized that it must have been the Church and it's teachings. Because of these events, it made their visit to temple square that much more special and meaningful. They loved learning about the Plan of Salvation and felt a tangible sweet spirit surround and comfort them as they were learning from the Sister missionaries on the temple grounds. This truly is God's work, He has a perfect plan in how He wants each and every one of His child to learn of His Gospel and of His plan. He is sooooo gracious in allowing us the privilege of being His hands, and to take part in this great and marvelous work. Cedric is excited to go forth and share more of his joys with his cousin in Boston, his good friend in Washington D.C., and many more of his friends who will be promptly returning to Minneseta after the summer break.

President/ Brother Clements, before he had left the mission field had committed Sister Huang and I to start working with our Chinese Recent Converts and getting them excited about missionary work. We labored diligently, although sometimes felt discouraged because we did not see the immediate results. President Clements PROMISED us many, many baptisms and people who will come into Christ's folds will be because of member referrals. Sister Huang and I truly believed that we have sowed patiently, and we are SO EXCITED to see what miracles will come about as Elder Tseng and Chou pick up right where we left off and reap those who have been prepared by the Lord.

On top of blessing us with much success amongst our Chinese Recent Converts, Heavenly Father blessed us with more success as we continued to work and find and contact diligently. Two days in a row this week, we found two PREPARED and SEARCHING souls, who will become new investigators for the Zone Leaders to teach. A little insight of how we were all blown away by their comments, is first, when Nick prayed at the end of sharing the message of the Restoration with him, he expressed gratitude to God for giving him the opportunity to investigate the Church, and then he asked for the Holy Spirit to guide him to discern truth, and then he prayed to know God's will for him. Justin on the other hand said that after he had heard the message of the Restoration, he felt like a heavy load that he had been carrying for the past 20 or so years, had just lifted off of him. We were blown away by their amazing testimonies! These are REAL people! REAL searching people.

Thank you for providing such a wonderfully enriching training last week. We are so blessed and grateful to have your leadership and your stalwart example. We love you and Sister Forbes dearly! Have a miracle filled week and just know that angels will be lifting you, round about you this week as you continue to prepare for transfers.


Sister Pao

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 44 "Serve til you drop!"

Dear friends and family,
You all are so kind to me and write me such wonderful emails. Also, dearest family and friends, you all have such exciting and adventurous lives and sooo much going on, that I just am engulfed in so much happiness for all of you as I read about your lives and going abouts each week. Because of that, so sorry that my email will me super brief and short this week.
Since I have four minutes left, I just want to express my favorite learning experience from this week and that is: So often we talk about letting our faith show to others around us, but how often we prevent ourselves from seeing our own faith and our growth and progress. That's my favorite lesson of this week and this is, we are all on our personal journey and road of progression. Let your faith show to yourself by patting yourself on the back once in a awhile, by taking a step back and recognizing the good you have done, but getting right back on doing more. We are all imperfect, and we need not be overwhelmed by that fact. That's why we have Christ's Atonement and love and His help in our lives. I have soooo much more to learn, but boy, am I always in for a ride of my life, each and every week as I push myself a little farther in remembering and becoming more like my Savior.
I love you all dearly, and until next week!

Sister Pao!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 43 "Be thou Humble"

Helloooo all me lovelies!
Wow, time sure speeds by and by and by when I'm not thinking about myself, about school, about my friends/associations and etc.
It's something about the mission that makes me feel like we're in some sort of time warp or something. Are you all feeling that out in the real world? Or does the mission really suck you into some kind of vortex?
This week has been filled with a lot and a lot and a lot of blessings from all of our lovely new converts, investigators, and members.
We are getting fed SOOO often now! Seems like every week we have big gatherings and meals with all of our wonderful new converts and investigators and members.
Minglong, our investigator who I literally met when I first got out here last October is leaving soon to go back to China..booo :( He still won't be able to be baptized here because of his school contract that he had signed when they started funding him to come to school here for this past year. Minglong is practically a member already though since he's been teaching us a lot of the lessons now and sometimes even coming in to sit in our lessons with other investigators.. He fed us a delicious meal this past week and spoiled us with Tang Yuan. Ya, in Minnesota! I am gonna miss that kid, but good thing God has placed him in our lives, and thank goodness for technology, we'll get to keep in touch with him. I really really hope that he will be able to find time to go to HK to get baptized!
Chan Family.
We had the wonderful opportunity on Saturday to go over to Sherry and Howard Chan's family's (Chang Qing's sister's) home to enjoy dinner and Family Home Evening with a bunch of other Chinese families and our recent converts and investigators. Biggest gathering of Chinese people here in Minnesota probably for a longgg time! haha
It was amazing to have our recent converts there meeting the other members and sharing their stories and being strengthened by each other's faith and testimonies. I love seeing the growth of our Chinese! Sometimes, I just wished I could see the future and fast forward just  a little to see what greater things they'll be doing with their lives in the future. Will they continue to stay faithful, will they build up righteous families? Will they enter the temple to be married and sealed for all time and eternity? They have so much potential and I just know that Heavenly Father is preparing them to become great leaders in His kingdom in China one day. Also, I just know that Heavenly Father placed them in my life for a reason, perhaps they will be of great help to me in the future, who knows? I can sense it though! And I'm grateful that I have been able to work with so many of the people of mainland China so close-knitted these days. Heavenly Father is still giving me the opportunity to continue my redemption /repentance process from those years where i was prideful and rude while living in China. What was I thinking, Sister Pao? haha
Guess it takes quite a lot to finally knock some sense into me to continue and STAY humble. That truly is the way to be in this life. I still have a lot of work to do, but I am grateful that Heavenly Father is mindful of my weakness and continues to refine me through my investigators, through the experiences that I face here, but most importantly through my loving eternal companion Sister Huang. WE are just oh sooo the same in so many things, hence we clash at times. But because we have been able to work through so many ups and downs, you know, fighting off fire breathing dragons, and falling ice daggers, and scaling walls and such, my future husband should be very very happy and should be EXTREMELY grateful to Sister Huang for helping me overcome and continue to triumph our weaknesses, and to become the kind of person that our Heavenly Father wants us to become. It's a journey. It's hard. But it is sooooo worth it!
Love you all long time, and miss you tons, but would not want to be any other place but here at this time! Until next week me loves!
Sister Pao

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 39 "Every Member A Missionary"

This week has been quite an eventful week!
We had two P-days in one week because of July 4th!
On top of the unusual schedule, I felt like Sister Huang and I had unusual teaching experiences, unique opportunities, and an unusual amount of different opportunities to see a lot more of Minnesota than what we usually have.
Update on Cedric Shan:
WE have a baptism coming up this Saturday! Woot Woot! -- well that's if Cedric remembers to wake up in time and decides to join us for his baptismal interview later today. Cedric was found by the elders on campus about a few months back in April, he was searching for inner peace in his life throughout his school semester and thought that God was answering his prayers when he had met the elders. Since he's Chinese, we got to teach him! He is such a cool, humble, obedient, and xiao shun to his parents, guy. We've loved hearing about the things that he has done to better himself. For example, he quite all caffeine including coke and other pop when he found out that there is caffeine in coffee AND in pop. He said that he felt like he was deceived by the manufacturers all this time. This past week, as we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with him, we asked him how he feels like he came to and believes that God is our Eternal Father. He thought for a very long time and then he started to tell us a story of what had happened to him and his parents this past week. He said that he has been praying for his dad to quit smoking for a while now. Finally this past week, his dad suddenly called him and told him that he is officially quitting after being a chain smoker of 30 years as of that day. The reason why his dad feels like he should do that is because he feels like he should be a better example to his son. What sparked this sudden thought and motivation was because Cedric had sent a letter about him and his dad's relationship and memories growing up to him for fathers day after attending an FHE activity where they invited everyone to write letters to our fathers. Cedric was overjoyed when he heard his dad's call, and felt like God is continuously guiding him and his family, moving them all for the better.
Funny story though: He had missed his baptismal interview this past Saturday at 10:30am because he was completely dead asleep and and slept through all of his alarms and our phone calls and banging on his door. WE literally found his student apartment, somehow managed to sneak in, banged on his door for 25 minutes, and got ZERO reply. He felt sooooo horrible when he woke up. Man that boy is a deep sleeper. I think he gets the award for being the deepest sleeper that I have ever met in my life. And fam, you think I am a deep sleeper, well you all just gotta meet Cedric. haha
July 4th dinner:
Happy America Day! haha funny how we completely flipped it around and celebrated with Chinese food, and with two Chinese families instead. Sister Huang sure had a memorable first July 4th here in America...nothin new though, just more chinese and taiwanese food. haha
I don't know if you have all heard about Clayton Christiansen. He's an area seventy, and he also wrote a book called an Everyday Member Missionary or something like that. Well, we met one of his previous students Connie Zhang, who is a member here in the Eden Prairie area, and also good friends with Sherry and Howard Chan (Chang Qing's sister!) They invited Sister Huang and I over for dinner, so we could share a message and get to know her (Connie's) parents who were in town from Beijing. She so badly wants her parents to join the church, but her dad, has been quite resistent all this time. Wonderful people, wonderful philosophical and moral opinions, and just the cutest little old people. We had such a spiritual and enjoyable time with them, Sister Connie Zhang was introduced to the church by Elder Clayton Christiansen of the seventy. She is actually one of the people that he writes about in his book, except her name is Natasha in the book. They all just have the coolest conversion stories, and as I continued to study more about the talks given by Elder Christiansen, it just made me think more and more about you! FAM!
For example: mom, because you shared with your friends the fact that we go to church, and the blessings that have come to us because of the church, Lawrence and his mom had the opportunity to learn from missionaries and to be baptized! The family in shanghai that you had befriended, her and her daughters were able to learn about the church as well. Shar, because of your faith, you were able to talk to more people on the plane about your belief and what missionaries do. Many more people around us are waiting to hear the Gospel. We should all take on the challenge of Elder Ballard and many more leaders of the Church to set goals and to make plans of how we can invite more people to learn about the church through meeting with the missionaries. I'll write more of my thought next week, but for now, read this talk
It's changed my view and literally have gotten me excited about becoming a member missionary after my mission.
We are working with our ward missionaries to have them extend this challenge to the rest of the members and YSA's in our ward. Seriously, if all of us can become more like Elder Christiansen and his wife, then we seriously will be fulfilling our covenants and commandment from our SAvior to go spread the Gospel to all nations.
Miracle from last night:
We've been praying and fasting for new investigators and one came our way last night! He's also Taiwanese!
I love you all tons! Until next week!
Sister Pao

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 38 "10 Shades More Colourful"

Where has the week gone. Another week has come and gone, and I have, not only been out for half of my mission now, but 9 months is slowly creeping down to only 8 months left. Can you believe it?!
My heart hurts and cringes whenever I see a plane passing over head, and the EVER SO familiar voice of my lovely companion, Sister Huang creeps into my mind, saying "That's going to be you on that plane in 8 months, or a year from today, you'd be home for 3 months already!" Ah! it blows my mind. I guess these thoughts are coming through my mind once again because changes on the mission always cause me to re-evaluate, and to self-reflect.
Speaking of change, President and Sister Clements are officially no longer "President" anymore (please keep them in your prayers as they continue to become associated to 'normal non missionary' lives). We have been blessed with a stalwart, faithfilled, proactive mission President, and a loving, joyful, steadfast President's wife for these last three years, or half of my mission. I cannot even imagine how it feels for them to see all the changes that have happened here in the last 3 years, and also how it feels to have loved, labored with, mentored, lead, admonished, and nurtured 700+ young sisters and elders. Their efforts and examples have definitely touched the lives of many and many more that will come after. They MUST have labored in the strength of the Lord, because I cannot simply imagine and believe that any person can do all that they did, by their own strength.
We are excited to be moving into another new era and experience of missionary work with the starts of getting to know our new mission president, President and Sister Forbes. We got to hold a mission prayer last night, and finally got to hear their voices. Without a doubt, they speak with the same authority and love, and bless their hearts, I cannot imagine how nerve racking it must be to be thrown into a calling where the welfare, spiritual and physical, questions, concerns, and etc. of 300 missionaries plus their investigators are all pretty much directed and dependant upon them. I would explode. Luckily and hence that is the reason of course that I am simply still a missionary who can focus on doing my part for the very least.
Yesterday at church, I was asked by a Young single adult, about how I felt I have changed on my mission, since I am now half way through.To be honest, I couldn't really give him much answers until I took some conscious effort to ponder upon that question. But as I took the time to evaluate, Sister Huang and I talk about how we literally do change every single day, and I see the fruits of what 9 months of dedicated missionary work can do to a person. This truly is the greatest one and a half year of my life. I have learnt how to plan, to organize my time, to be punctual, to be exactly obedient, to hold my tongue and temper even with the sun burning upon you, to turn the other cheek, to persevere, to trust, to love, to love OTHERS, to FOCUS on others, to be sensitive to others needs, to trust in the Lord, to replace FEAR with FAITH, to LOVE the Book of Mormon, to teach, and converse all in Chinese, to know how to study effectively, to LOVE people, to love TALKING to people (every person has a unique story), to recognize the Spirit, to never give up, the essence of hard work, and being hardworking, to look forward with faith, to be persistent and patient, and to be quick to observe.
Oh gosh, the list can go on foreverrrr! What would I have done without my mission. Well, I know for a fact that I definitely would've still been able to live happily, but oh how I would've limited myself on the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for me. I realized here on my mission that although I was a pretty obedient member of the Church all growing up, I had placed limits on the Lord and My Heavenly Father on the things that they wanted to bless me with by not 'searching, pondering, praying' at all times, and daily from reading the scriptures, from not fully understanding my Savior and His infinite Atonement, from not even fully understanding my baptismal covenants! My life was colorful in the past in the Gospel, but because of my mission, I can say that it is 10 shades and 10 times more colorful and vibrant these days. (This connects with Minnesota too I think. Something that puts me to awe is how just whenever I think that Summer's in Minnesota cannot get any greener, a huge thunderstorm washes over, and I swear, all the green around me just gets 10 times more colorful and vibrant!)
Each day and week I have a renewed desire to learn something new, to work a little harder, to not give up. I love that I get to tap into more of my Heavenly Father's wisdom and power, as I pray always, as I spend more time on my knees praying, and then as I get up and get to work.
Along with prayers, I have learnt and gain a testimony of the power of fasting. Don't let that commandment go to waste! A fast of gratitude brough me greater strength and the power of God truly was manifested. "therefore they gave thanks unto the Lord their God; yea, and they did fast much and pray much, and they did worship God with exceedingly great joy." That is how I feel at the end of this past week.
Fam, all I can say is that my eyes, heart, and mind, have been opened to so many greater wonders and awe of this world we live in, of the eternal and infinite Atonement of Christ, the Savior of all mankind, of our purpose and roles here in life, of our relationship with every living soul here on earth (people seriously! get off your phones and electronics, and for once travel on the streets and TALK to people, have PHYSICAL SOCIAL CONTACTS!), and of what gratitude means towards my family, towards those that support me, but most importantly towards my Heavenly Father.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 37 "Connections all around the world"

All I can say is that: "When you are a member of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You literally are connected all around the world. It is the most joyous, most comforting, and glorious thought ever! I love this GOSPEL!"
This week I talk of this mainly because first, Heavenly Father truly answers prayers and guides obedient, and worthy missionaries to uplift and find those who are seeking His Gospel.
Long story short, this week we were out contacting on campus and Sister Huang and I felt prompted to take a different path than usual. We walked down the road and immediately we saw someone that we could talk to. We approached her and found out that she was a Chinese mother currently living in Oakland, California, and was visiting her son here at the U of M for the summer. She also told us that she is an LDS member and that she was baptized in California about a year ago! She had arrived in Minnesota about a week ago, and could not find out where the closest meetinghouse for her was here in Minneapolis. Her and her son had been scoping out other church buildings that they had found on, but since she doesn't speak much English, she was hoping that at least some of the missionaries here would speak Chinese. Despite her search, she could not find the missionaries numbers. Funny story, her son's roommate had met Sister Huang and I on campus about three months ago, and had told us about this mother that would be coming into Minnesota in the summer. He said that he would get our information to her so that when she came, she would be able to get in touch with us. Unfortunately, our phone number had changed, and because of that, she still could not get in touch with us. Finally, the Lord guided us all to meet Friday morning, to answer her prayers, and to help out a fellow new convert that was obediently trying to live her baptismal covenants. We were overjoyed to have been led her way, and also through meeting her, she was able to invite her son to join us for our sacrament service! Although he is not very interested now, we are hoping to work with her and her son throughout this summer, to help him learn a little more about this Gospel that has so miraculously changed his mother's life. (her conversion is the most awesomest thing ever and I will be sure to share it next time!)
Even better to add onto this, after getting to know her more yesterday at church, I found out that Zhou Yun! Sister Zhou from Taipei Taiwan song shan ward is also in her ward! We all know the same people! Mom, you gotta let them know that I saw a picture of Sister Zhou in her iPhone! Coolest thing ever!
Through these experiences this week, I have just been thinking over and over about how powerful of instruments we can all be in helping each other along in this life, if we were always worthy and constantly seeking to be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. And through this experience, it once again proved to me that my claim of not believing in coincidences is in fact so TRUE! Heavenly Father DOES indeed guide us in this life. We just have to be willing to be humble, and submissive-- and no, that does not mean that we are weak, and helpless, but that we are willing to glorify this life, and this work, and our future along with our Heavenly Father.
As I have continued to study about humility, I have truly seen how it is the catalyst of all other Christ-like attributes-- attributes that we know will bring us all happiness in our lives. The qualities, of charity, of love, of patience, of diligence, of seeking out knowledge, of hope, of faith. Even for those who do not have a belief in God, I can already see and know that one way or another, they will try to seek these things out in their lives, and finally find, some may be ten years, some may be a few months, some may be their life time, that nothing other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or following the teachings of Christ can most fully allow these qualities to be a part of your life.
All these attributes round us up as a more fulfilling and well rounded person, and I am grateful to have a knowledge and an ever growing testimony of this gospel.
Until next week!
Sis. Pao

My fave! Matching!
Some more of my faves!
Karem went to Florida, we did too! ;)
Sister Mickey!
Getting worse and worse....uh oh.
Our closest to a good Taiwanese meal that we can get.
Sister Luo from Oakland California
Me lovelies
Sister clements leaving us :'(
Last pic

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 36 "Half Way Mark already?!"

Sorry fam and friends, my update this week will yet again be my letter to President Clements.
BUT HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ROBBY AND DADDY AND TO ALL THE OTHER FATHERS OUT THERE! You're example to me teach me more and more about my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Hope you all had the best week ever!
Dear President Clements, 

This has been another inspiring week filled with many unexpected encounters. Many things we felt like we were lead to do because of the promptings of the Holy Ghost. However, despite feeling satisfied, and accomplished at the end of the day, our key indicators still seem to express otherwise. I am not worried, but just curious as to why our key indicators are at such a low compared to all our past months. Sister Huang and I continue to inquire with the Lord as to what we can do to improve, and over and over again, we have simply received the promptings, and suggestions from the scriptures and from the WHB that by small and simples means, are great things brought to past, and that we need to be patient and diligent. We will keep moving forward, but for some reason, something still seems to be missing.

I have many to share as usual, but the most prominent one of this week would have probably been our Saturday dinner with some of our Asian recent converts (Tuan Pham, Dennis Chu and Preston Wei), and Stan Zhong, and Cedric Shan (our investigators) and Harris, Tuan's Indian friend. After dinner, Sister Huang and I decided that instead of having us share a message, we wanted to hear of all the different miracles that people have seen in their lives recently. We started off by sharing a few of our own as missionaries, and then opened the floor up to any of them to speak up. Immediately our investigator, Stan piped up and talked about a small but simple miracle he had witnessed from one of his TA's in his summer class. She was very patient and helpful towards all the students, and genuinely cared for their learning. The last day of class, she brought them all cookies and treats. He said that usually he wouldn't recognize that as a miracle, but now looking back on retrospect, her kindness brought a lot of happiness and impacted him for the better. Cedric, our other investigator talked about him meeting the missionaries on campus had been his recent miracle. He had been questioning himself for many months prior to meeting the missionaries as to why he hadn't been able to find inner peace amongst his school life. He felt like something was missing and he simply didn't have an answer for it. He felt like his silent prayers were answered when he met the missionaries and felt inspired to go listen to what we have to say. Harris talked about how meeting Tuan and becoming friends with him was his recent miracle in his life.

Progressing Investigator:
Cedric Shan is our date set for July 19th. He is progressing very well, and was able to attend the fireside last night. We thought that it was perfect that he was able to hear Elder Chou and Elder Tseng's conversion stories, AND also to have had the chance to meet them personally. We think that it was a good extra bonus and testimony to him to know that these missionaries were in his shoes not too long ago, learning the Gospel with missionaries just like what he is doing now. Something surprising that came up during one of our meetings with Cedric this past week was how he had taken the Word of Wisdom to another level (BYU campus level). (Don't worry, it is nothing bad!) He learnt that caffeine in coffee and tea are what causes people to become dependent upon it, and so he went and did a little more research upon caffeine. Apparently he had never known that there is caffeine in coke, and when he realized this, he felt like he should not drink coke anymore as well! He said that he felt manipulated by the manufacturers and felt that they have been deceiving him all these years. We laughed, and said whatever floats your boat. Our member joint teacher then said that it's better for us anyways, not to drink so much pop. We are grateful that he is truly applying and processing all the things that he learns here. He surely is a prepared soul.

This week, I am working on dedicating all my heart, might, mind, and strength to serving the Lord. I know why I need to do these things, and have the desire to do so, but sometimes still struggle to find out exactly how I can do this at ALL TIMES. I am simply grateful that I have this time to deepen my conversion. For one thing, I can say that I have definitely realized how much I may have been living below my potentials as a daughter of God before my mission. It truly did require coming on my mission to learn these things, and I am forever grateful for this. 

My family has just been overflowing with good news and things to be happy about. My younger sister is staying strong in the Gospel even amongst her non-religious high school friends at the American International School that she is going to back in Taipei. She is becoming a lot more independent, going summer job hunting and learning so much out of it. She just finished her ACT exam this past Saturday, and also found a job at a restaurant in a hotel!  I just learnt that my older sister and her little family is officially moving from Hawaii back to Utah , and thus, will probably be there when I get back from the mission. Those are some of my biggest dreams, to be able to live with all my siblings close by to each other again, it's just been way too long where all our family members have just been so far away from each other. I am so ever grateful for the Gospel, that has kept our family together even amongst all the hail and mighty storms that have beat upon us. We are a blessed family.

We love you and Sister Clements dearly. You are family to me. I will be forever grateful for all the things that I have learnt from your examples. See you on Wednesday! :)

Sister Pao

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 35

Oh how did another week just slip by?! Sister Huang and I have both officially hit and passed our less than 1 year count. That's what they say, when we our down to less than 1 year, everything accelerates even more! ah!
TRANSFERS call is today! Guess where I'm moving to??????
Nowhere, still Dinkytown and I'm loving it! Can you all believe it, I've been on my mission for almost 9 months! And the whole time I have been here in Dinkytown. Coming up on my 7th transfer. Going down in history baby here in Dinkytown!
Heavenly Father has a lot of unfinished work for me to do here, and unlearnt lessons as well I bet. Excited for what new lessons will be learnt this new transfer!
Speaking of history, We witnessed history in the making this weekend, and especially yesterday in our Sacrament Meeting, according to the words of Brother Bigelow, the first counselor of our bishopric! Brother WeiHua Li, a convert of just over a year, and who had just earlier this year, been ordained as an Elder with the Melchizedek Priesthood confirmed Sister Wei Xiu You as a member of the Church in her own native language, Chinese! Along with her confirmation, Sister Eva Roberts was confirmed by Brother Bebault, a member of not too long as well. Both new converts were baptizing and confirming these new sheep of Christ's fold for the very first time in their lives. It was truly a miracle! Despite being new converts to the church, their maturity in the Gospel and how the Spirit was brought about by them were simply such strong examples to me! We are so blessed with all these opportunities to witness these tender mercies, and needless to say--miracles from our Heavenly Father. 
This past week was one of the fastest passing weeks on my mission probably, and despite it being a super spiritual week and weekend, it was also probably one of my own most frustrating times. Somehow, despite all the miracles that we have seen in our area, I was blinded by all the 'unfinished' tasks at hand that I failed to recognize all the tender mercies from my Heavenly Father until at the end of our day yesterday. Thank goodness Heavenly Father blessed me with a loving companion, who is very patient and collected must I say, and revelations through church attendance. I have been able to refocus on my tasks at hand and learn what it means to put all my TRUST in God. That means being exact and obedient, faithful, diligent, and we SHALL see results. But most importantly, I need to be patient. I am excited for the miracles that we will get to witness here this transfer, as we make it a goal and all our efforts to building our relationship and trust with the ward members, as we continue to seek out member referrals as we build the faith and testimony of our new converts, and as we continue to Baptize! I am so blessed to recognize what the Lord will have us do in this area, and I am grateful that we can receive revelations to do all that we can to work work and work!
Prepare for more miraculous stories me fam bam! I love you all and sorry for the short email again, I got so caught up in reading other emails.
Love love love,
Sister Pao 

Dinner with the Van Heels! Love these girls!
Wei Liu!
Sister You Wei Xiu, love her!
Reunited with Sister Curtis! Tender mercy.
The Nook! Juicy Lucy's, now I've officially been to Minnesota, tell ya about them next week!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 34 "Officially a French guy"

Well, mom, all I can say is that if I told you the stories of what happened to me this week, you would laugh hysterically and say, serves me right.
After all these years someone has finally taught me the lesson of not being so quick to slip off my shoes, and to not be so quick in walking around barefeet. haha But more importantly, what I learnt from this experience is First: to follow the promptings of the Spirit at all times and not to satisfy my own selfish curiosity! Second: Humility!
Wednesday, we were out contacting on campus, and we came in contact with a man from France--take note that he was in about his late 40s. He had broken English, and seemed lost and confused--especially after being approached by two strangers wayy too happily greeting him. From there, he showed us a text message of what he was doing because, I was quick to say 'hey! i know some french' (now thinking on retrospect, i should've just kept my mouth shut! Oh prideful Sister Pao)
Anyhow, we finally figured out that he was doing an Amazing Race like challenge with some of his friends, because they had all pitched in their money to buy a plane ticket for Brazil, and if he wins, he gets to take it! He was really into the game, and if we had known, we should've just ended the conversation their, wished him good luck, and continued sharing the gospel with others. (That would have been the smart thing to do) but of course, I kept digging for more info, trying to understand more of what he was doing and of trying to figure out how we could help him. Anyway, long story short, the challenge that he was at went something like this "You are to take your shoes off and give them to the first woman you see on the streets, then you are to walk for the rest of the day barefeet."
So, lucky Sis. Huang and I, we were the first women that ran into him after he received that text message. So basically he took his shoes off and forced them to us. He was really frustrated though because he felt really stupid having to walk around barefeet--something about french culture and not liking the idea of losing face and looking foolish. But we really couldn't tell, because he had broken english and we thought that he was joking! So finally, he remembered that we introduced ourselves as missionaries from a church, and so it clicked and he said, "you are christians right? Will you help me out now then, because I can't wear my own shoes, give me yours. If you are a Christian, you will help somebody in need. I am in need! Give me your shoes." I thought that he was just messing, because in my mind, I thought that it would be even MORE foolish for him to walk around with half of his feet slipped into some turquoise women's flats! He kept insisting and said, oh yes, it'll be ok, i'll show you what I can do, it's okay, and before then, (who knows what i was thinking) but I had slipped off my flats and they were on his feet! ah! imagine that! Too late for me to take it back. SO! yes, i was a very undignified missionary for a short 5 minutes, because I had to walk back to the institute from the campus BAREFEET. Embarrassing huh?! Basically, the story ended with him, borrowing my flats for a short time so that he could go prove to his friends that he completed the challenge, and then he promised to return them to the institute--in which he did. Embarrassingly enough though, I was very humbled by the end of this little adventure, and learned a very important lesson to not be quick to take off my shoes, and to think before i act! Heavenly Father finally taught me a lesson that probably mom wanted me to learn all those years where I even managed to walk around Shanghai China, barefeet (luckily I didn't have to learn through catching some disease or infectious fungus or whatnot in China) Heavenly Father spared me until my mission to learn! haha
This story took a lot longer than I expected to recount to you all, but I hope that it brought more laughters to your faces and the assurrance that Sister Pao is still Sister Pao. I wouldn't be without my silly stories eh? haha
Just know that I am learning lifelong qualities through ALL different means on this mission of mine. Be expecting pictures for Sister You's baptism this Saturday! Keep her in your prayers for us, because she truly is our miracle from heaven, brought right over from Qing Dao China. Sister You passed her baptismal interview this week by the way! She is so awesome, we shall all visit Qing Dao when I get back from the mish and she will be sure to bring us all over to tour China.
Love you all tons me ohana! You are all in my prayers.
Sister Pao

Beautiful Sis. Richardson from my exchange last week. Isn't MN getting so greeeen behind us?
Wild turkeys and babies!
Some of my faves.
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!
Check out my tan! Yup, we are being called Malaysians, Cambodians, Native Americans these days on campus. hahaa cracks me up!
Green green campus! :D
Sister You and her daughter cooked us noodles! :D
Spring Storms! So cool! Swept right over us while we were out!
Stormy season...might need a raincoat haha. Love em thunderstorms though!
Flowers! Spring!