Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 14 "Life is Gooood, and cooool"

Happy 2014 fam bam!

Life is soo goood. I am emailing you all a lot earlier this week because surprise surprise, Satan is hard at work trying to stop us from going outside to teach. Monday, we have been commanded by our Mission President to stay home and indoors at all times. The temperature is one of a kind! One of a kind indeed. Minnesota is purely living up to it's name of being the Icebox of the Nation. Wikipedia or Google or whatever it was sure wasn't lying about that fact when I was researching about MN before the mission! Good to know!

Record temperature drop for Monday! Drumrooooollll, we will be reaching -33 degrees Celcius! Woooohoooo! COOL eh??

Anyhow, things are getting exciting and busy here in Dinkytown even though many are gone for the break. The weather sure isn't stopping us from teaching and from bringing people to the waters of baptism. We have a solid investigator getting baptized on January 25th! Pray for him and pray that he will have the strength to overcome any challenges that always seem to arise before someone's baptism. He is super duper cool and funny. We met him while contacting on Campus. SG (his initials, apparently we are not to use our investigators' full name when emailing, ooops.), so SG, ASKED us straight out what HE can do to meet with us and to learn more. We didn't set up an appt with him, he did with us. From there, he has been going strong and is loving everything we teach him right now. Sometimes, Heavenly Father truly sends you those who are prepared to learn and to accept. I hope that this continues to be the case, as we continue to do the Lord's will according to his timing. SG invited us to go have hotpot at his place on Monday! Perfect match eh? Hotpot on the most freezing cold day of my life! Love it!He texted us last night to invite us to his home so that he could express his gratitude for helping him learn all this time. We are sooo blessed!

This past Sunday, I had a surprise visit from a family that claimed to know me and claimed to have been in my ward in Vancouver, and claimed to have been a counselor in my Primary Presidency growing up. Lo, and behold! It was true! I didn't believe it or couldn't REMEMBER it would be the better word at first. But then it all clicked and connections were made. MOM, YOU'RE GONNA LOVE THIS. 
長青(i don't know if that's how his name is written but, hope you get the point) his sister Sherry Chan and her husband Howard Chan live here in Minnesota! They came to my YSA ward last Sunday because their ward was canceled for the cold. haha wimps...haha jk.
anyway, it was so cool to see them and to find out that they only live 20 minutes away from the Institute!

After our Sunday meeting, Brother Chan texted us and invited us to lunch on Friday. He has been a part of pioneering the Chinese work here in Minnesota and wanted to meet with us to discuss needs, resources, and future actions to take to help the work move along. It is amazing how the Lord works through his children, how he prepares people to be instruments in his hand, in bringing about his work. Sherry and Howard both served Missions in areas where they were pioneers of the Chinese work. They served in YSA wards as well, so they are well aware of many of the things that need to me done. It was so cool to hear their story, and even cooler that SHE TAUGHT ME PRIMARY! Now, of all places, we are reunited here in Minnesota, serving the Lord together. 

I have been called by the Institute organizer Brother Miller, to probably start up a Chinese Institute class this coming new school year. Crazy eh? I am definitely not qualified, but you know what? I am excited to learn, to work hard, to be tested and challenged, as I learn and teach alongside these new Chinese converts. I am scared but, i know I am in good hands. I have fallen in love with reading the Book of Mormon both in English and Chinese. I have also fallen in love in learning about the Plan of Salvation.


I hope you will all try this out, and I can't wait to hear about all your discoveries along the way!

Love you all so much!
Sister Pao

Dinkytown: Week 13 "Ohhhh Mothers"


I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! 
I wish you all a Happy New Year! It's come so fast! I am beyond excited to be starting off another year, and excited to say, that this FULL coming year, will be completely FILLED with missionary work, and SOLELY that!

I am beyond excited for all you others and for the exciting goals, and dreams waiting to be fulfilled. I am not one to be very big at setting goals, but guess what? I am changing my old ways, and overcoming my laziness. Some of you all should jump on the band wagon, and do the whole New Year's resolution thing. However, set actual goals that CAN be achieved, as you think TO THE SAVIOR, and to the POWER of change that he brings to our lives, through his everlasting Atonement. I am excited to turn my will and laziness over to the Savior, and to have him help me refine myself even more. 

Each week as I prepare to write this email home, I try to think of somewhat cool blog titles. haha I think this weeks' is super appropriate, and let me tell you the different aspects that it covers. 

Yan Wu was our date set for 1/11/14, as of a few days ago. She chose that day, and is absolutely ready for baptism. Despite our constant efforts of warning, and preparing for family opposition- specifically from the mother, it has struck again. OHH MOTHERS! Why do you do this to us! First opposition from Pan's mother that we are still dealing with now, and then opposition from LiPing's mother, and now YAN'S! HAHA We are not complaining but we are simply a tad frustrated now at how ANNOYINGLY LOVING AND CARING MOTHERS ARE.

To all the dear mother's that have played a role in my life, especially to my own! Thank you for letting us make choices on our own, and especially for allowing us to receive eternal blessings: such as baptism, which will eventually result in eternal life and eternal salvation. Thank you for saving our lives, literally- unlike all the investigators' mothers that we have to deal with now. 

I guess we have to give them the benefit of the doubt, they simply have not had the chance to experience what their daughters are experiencing here. I am super excited for Yan and for what she plans on doing to proceed toward her baptism.
Yan's mother is not opposed to her getting baptized, but simply wants her to wait a full year before committing herself fully to this. We had a great lesson with Yan last night. We listened to the next steps that she wants to take to help her parents become comfortable with this. She expressed herself that sharing her own testimony and explaining to her parents how this Gospel has changed her life, has brought her life joy and peace, and that it will continue to bring her joy will be key to her getting baptized on the 25th of January. She knows that her faith is being put to the test here, and she sees it in that way. She used the analogy of a math problem. You can understand how to do a math problem, but how you can come to understand it that much more is when you TEACH someone how to do a math problem. 

I have been evaluating this experience and have come to feel and express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for giving us trials and obstacles to help us, as missionaries, be more prepared on dealing with family opposition. He is teaching us to not only to ask if they have talked to their families, but incorporating it throughout all the lessons the possibility of family opposition and how they can build a testimony to stand up to it. Yan has given us a lot of new insights and has strengthened our testimonies in countless ways. The Lord is refining us, while refining her, to prepare her for hard, leadership roles, in the future Church in China. I am surprised to say this, but I am grateful for Yan's mom, and for her opposition. Afterall, where's the fun of missionary work if we aren't challenged! haha

FINALLY THANK YOU FAMILY FOR THE LOVELY CONVERSATION THAT WE HAD ON CHRISTMAS DAY. I am so thankful for modern technology and for the chance I had to see all of your beautiful faces. 

Here's my final counsel to you before the New Year, read and ponder, and see if you want to incorporate these things into your new year goals!

Go read PREACH MY GOSPEL page 10: A Successful Missionary.
But change "A successful Missionary" to "A Successful Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints/ A successful Son or Daughter of God" or A successful Husband or Wife. 

Love you all immensely! More than you can comprehend.
Sister Pao




Dinkytown: Week 11 "A White Christmas"

A white Christmas it is and will be indeed everyone! We are loving the beautiful blanket of snow here every single day. Although its cold, I really don't mind it...just yet, because it is just oh so beautiful!

Funny thing about last P-Day. After emailing y'all, Sister Smith and I spontaneously went to have frozen yogurt for lunch! haha call us crazy? yup! We had a lovely surprise at the check out: Normally, an ounce of froyo costs 42 cents but we ended up only having to pay 11 cents/ ounce for our froyo! The lady explained that at their store, with every degree below 32 degree F, or 0 degrees Celcius, that would be how much cents you get off the original price. So the temperature was 1 degree F that day so we got such a great deal! Best day everrr! One of the ups of being in the Icebox of the Nation. haha- nobody wants to eat frozen yogurt expect for crazy missionaries.

This past weekend was certainly a white Christmas, not only because of the constant snow, but because my dearest two new best friends, Naye Lazaro and Karem Salas Ramirez entered the waters of baptism dressed in all white. My First baptisms here on the mission! I can only express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father of how blessed and fortunate I feel to have been granted this opportunity to teach them and to see their conversion process. If I never told you all, Naye, we contacted on campus, and from there, Naye brought Karem, her bestfriend and roommate, to church and from there, the two of them simply flourished. They are so faith filled, loving, and prepared to spread the Gospel. I can just imagine them sharing their conversion story to many more in the future, including their families. Naye accepted this Gospel, blessing the life of her best friend as well. I just love it!

Yesterday, we had the chance to go over to two of the Zone Leaders investigators home for dinner. Zhang Jia Ling and Ding Hao Chen are such awesome people- and awesome cooks as well! Jia Ling and Hao Chen are both from China, and because Sister Smith and I are supposed to be teaching all the Chinese investigators, the Elders had to pass them over to us. Jia Ling cooked us all the most amazing meal, and probably the closest thing that reminds me of our home cooked meals, that I've had here on the mission. REAL chinese food, and not fake panda Express American Food, not greasy China food, but GOOD yummy food. 
While we were there, we had the chance to teach them a lesson as well. We focused on helping them brainstorm ways that they could continue to be anchored in what they have learned, continue to be faithful, and to feel of the spirit especially when they return back to China for the Christmas break. As missionaries, we worry for our investigators' spiritual growth like a mom worries for their teenage son. I guess this is a taste of how motherhood will feel like in the future! Sharon, this is probably how you'll feel very soon, judging by how fast Carson is growing!!- I'm tellin' ya, the mission prepares you for every aspect of your life.

This Christmas season I've been thinking a lot about Christ's mission. It reminded me of the scripture found in 3 Nephi 27:13. Christ came into the world to do the will of the Father, because the Father sent Him. I know that as I am serving my mission, I am walking as close as possible next to my Savior and His mission. It is probably the only time of my life where I will come as close to literally walking hand in hand with the Spirit. I will not fight to do the will of the Lord. I will submit myself and serve selflessly, thinking less about myself, but always filling my mind with thoughts of how I can be helping those around me, helping my companion, doing the will of the Lord, and reflecting a FLOW missionary at all times. A MMM missionary is a Faithful, Loving, Obedient, and hardWorking missionary. And I want to exemplify that, because those are all the qualities of my Savior. 

I am so very blessed for loving parents, a great family, and opportunities of a life time that I am enjoying here on my mission. I am also so grateful for my knowledge of how I can receive eternal happiness in this life today, and not simply dwell upon the temporal things of this world. May your knowledge of the Savior's birth into this world this Christmas season and of his redeeming love and mission inspire you to share this Good News with all those around you. Humble yourself, and do the will of the Father.

Hugs and Loves to all of you during this special season!
Sister Pao

Our gift to President and Sister Clements from the zone. Excuse my horrible writing! But I tried with what I had: acrylic paint and a 1 dollar paintbrush. Haha!

Dinkytown: Week 10- Losing Track of Time!

Another week has passed. Which means a week and a half let before we have transfers again! Crazy! That means Sister Smith might be leaving me, and new Chinese sisters will be coming in! Can you believe that?!

Speaking of Chinese sisters, this past week was a definitely just like the last. Lots of heavy lifting, and self refining, and trusting in the Lord. First off, we had a new found realization that was sort of like a stab to the heart, but which was definitely must needed. This past week, the Elders and Sister Smith and I were sort of chastised by President Clements. Apparently, we misunderstood the plan of action of exactly how he envisioned the Chinese work moving along in the TC YSA ward. With my arrival, I knew that I am opening doors by knowing how to speak the Chinese language and by helping the chinese learn the Gospel through their native language. However, we were not aware of the fact that Sister Smith and I were supposed to be TEACHING all of the Chinese investigators. We have been teaching some, and mostly in English with clarifications done in Chinese. However, that was definitely not what President intended for me to be doing.

It was shocking to hear that, and to think that I haven't been doing exactly what President Clements have been wanting me to do, and to think that I wasn't wise enough to have asked and clarified otherwise. However, it was enlightening to be reminded of the greater plan that the Lord has for me and for this area. I am honored and humbled once again to be serving Him and to be helping Him move his kingdom ahead, especially the work in China. I am truly so blessed to be teaching and working with some of China's brightest and most brilliant students here at the University of China. They are going to be such amazing leaders back in their home countries one day. I can just see it and I have such great faith that things are happening fast. Read (D&C 90:11). 

Now I am focused again on my purpose and my work to be done here- what the Lord has called me here to Minnesota for. President has instructed me to start reading the Book of Mormon all in Chinese, and I have gladly taken up his counsels. I love the Book of Mormon, and I know it will be a challenge to read it in Chinese, but simply from the past few days, I have been shocked and surprised by how much of it I can understand. I am so excited to think of how much I can learn by doing so.The Lord is empowering me from on high, and blessing me with the gift of languages. I will give you all updates later on of how it goes!

As for now, I will keep this email short, but please do continue to pray for Karem, Naye and Pan and all the rest!
Karem and Naye are getting baptized this week! Its been truly blessings beyond words to have had the chance to be acquainted with them and to have had the chance to participate and be a part of both of their conversions. The Lord is being so good to me by blessing me with two of his strongest daughters as my first baptisms. I am overjoyed and so very humbled. They are going to do and work miracles for their families. I can just feel it in my bones and guts!

Love you all so very much!
Sister Pao

Dinkytown: Week 9- Heavy Lifting

Another eventful and fulfilling week has passed! Mission life is so fulfilling, that I already fear how my life will feel after returning home to ordinary life! It's not a bad thing, and I know that when the time comes, I will simply have to accept another change and phase of my life. The next will be just as rewarding as the previous!- I hope ;)

Changes are good. Changes are oh so good! And I have felt that way ever since my life took on a significantly remarkable change the day I moved to Shanghai. Ever since then, I feel like my life has never been boring, and I have been ever so blessed with new adventures, enriching experiences, and the creation of inspiring and everlasting friendships. This is especially and undeniably applicable to my life as a missionary today. Change is the key to exercising the power of the Atonement in my everyday life. And never before have I ever come to see this as strong as I do so now. My Savior loves me, and thus, he continues to refine me. I have come to experience "a change of heart" and I "have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, that Alma talks about in Alma 5:26

Thanksgiving celebration this year was a memorable one indeed. Definitely a change up from all the previous years of thanksgivings I've had. Our district had the honor and chance to host a thanksgiving dinner for all the international new members, investigators, and potential investigators who are students here at the U. We had a delightful turnout! Teamwork coming from all different sides, resulted with an absolutely remarkable meal! We had turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin sticky rice, corn soup, cranberry, jello, green been casserole, and much more deliciousness.    We had about 30 people show up, and out of the group, we had people representing 10 different backgrounds/languages! (English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, French, and Spanish!) Diverse eh?! We were so blessed, and it truly was a special night.

This week, because of the continuously intensifying dangers/sketchiness surrounding Dinkytown/campus, we experienced a new change up! Because the elders live farther away from campus than we do, they always had the car. Now the sisters are assigned the car for safety, thus leaving us to swap apartments with the elders! Today we had our move! Much heavy lifting was done! However, before any of the elders could come serve us, a hilariously unlucky, and inconvenient event occurred before hand! Of course, something funny ought to happen!
Sister Smith and I woke up at 5am to get the apartment ready. Cleaning packing, vacuuming and ensuring that we had EVERYTHING ready and be waiting for the elders at 10:30am. We successfully did so, and at 10:20, we got ready to make our way downstairs to grab the rest of our laundry that was in the dryer. Lo, and behold! Ironically enough, something came our way. I reached to grab the door handle to head downstairs. The door was locked. I unlocked the door, and tried again. The door was still not budging. Pulling and yanking simply did not work. We were LOCKED INTO OUR OWN APARTMENT! Can you believe that? Ridiculous eh? Super funny as well? oh heck yes! Sister Smith and I just laughed and laughed, and then called the elders to say that we were locked in. The elders came to our rescue- supposedly - but no one could get the door open. Long story short, we still ended up calling maintenance and he got the door open in like 10 seconds. haha. Should have just called him right off the bat! Would've saved us some time, but of course, we were too prideful, thinking that we could figure it out on our own. Anyways, lesson on pride -- still in the process of refining.

With December 14th coming up close, sister Smith and I are getting more and more anxious as we have 4 people set to be baptized that day. Definitely at the beginning of my mission, I simply thought that all the work was done when we had a date set with investigators, little did I know, that was only the beginning! After a date is set, that is when the HEAVY LIFTING begins. President Clements has been counseling us a lot recently on pulling all the way through, until they have entered the waters of baptism!

Let me tell you a little about each of these investigators. Pan Rojonasarot is from Thailand. Absolutely darling and hilarious. She studied at the BYU ELC and that is where she met missionaries. Now she is studying Pharmacology Social Science here at the U. She was supposed to be baptized Nov. 23rd, but delayed because her mom intensely opposes her being baptized. Poor thing. She is working hard for Dec. 14th now, and yesterday, we just finished fasting with her for the courage and confident to stand up to her mom with what she knows to be true. She can do it! and She will! We are praying sooo hard for her!
Naye Lazaro is the sweetest, sassiest little Mexican girl from Austin Minnesota. When we first met her on campus, she said that she hates and doesn't trust in God at all anymore. Her mom died when she was young and from then, God has always been unfair to her, making her grandfather sick as well. Now, she can say that she has officially let go of all her grudges and sees the bigger perspective of life and of God's plan and his love for her. She has grown so much! She is so amazing! we know she is ready as well, she doesn't think so , but we know she is!
Karem Salas Romeres is our miracle as well. She is Naye's roommate and is the sweetest little Mexican girl as well, they are too much like sisters. both 4'11, and sassy, and smart and funny. We love them to death. Karem comes from a strong Catholic background with strong ties to her Mexican culture. She believes strongly in God, but never found her true faith. She enjoyed the culture side that the Catholic church brings to her, but since meeting with us, she has come to learn so much! She says everything makes sense now! What we know and teach the LDS church makes sense! She is scared to betray her culture, and to cut all ties, thus she's nervous for the 14th as well. We know she can and will be ready. Much prayers sent her way.
Finally Yan Wu is our sweet Chinese investigator from Beijing China. (She has the same last name as Wu Guan Chen!) haha
When we first met her on campus, she expressed her pains of not knowing why she is studying so hard, and what is the whole purpose behind her education and her life! We knew the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation would solve her problems. She has been meeting with us ever since and have grown exponentially. All the Chinese new members think that she needs more time judging by the fact that people in China never had religion before, but I KNOW SHE'S READY!

I guess with all these people lined up to go, Sister Smith and I will be doing much heavy lifting within these next two weeks. Getting fellowshippers to love and serve them, help them be committed and help them not miss out no this beautiful blessing. We are overjoyed and so super stoked for them. But afterall, it will all be according to the Lord's timing. And I will be happy and absolutely satisfied to accept that.

I know this is an overload of information and the LONGEST email ever, but, pray for our investigators this week! And hope I survive contacting, BECAUSE IT IS SNOWING CATS AND DOGS OUTSIDE NOW. It's BEAUTIFUL THOUGH and I am excited for a White Christmas. In fact I am dreaming of one. Of one where many of our investigators will enter the waters of baptism in their white baptism clothing. Now that's my perfect White Christmas.

I love you all very much, hope you all have a splendid and fulfilling week!


Sister Pao

District Thanksgiving Lunch
We did good eh? All prepped within half an hour. Instant meals haha
BOOTS, GOT-'EM thanks Shar!
Thanksgiving Sunday at the Quass's
The Quass' and the Chinese new members and investigators. The Quass have two adopted Chinese kids. Sarah in the white beside Sis Smith and the  other is blocked. They are the greatest!
We surprised Ali Fife (my mostest fav person ever) with a Thanksgiving "turkey" breakfast, because she is a pharmicist and she has to work all day 7 days of the week! poor thing. But we LOVE her!