Monday, May 26, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 33: According to the Desires of My Heart

Oh how glorious of a week it has been. I probably exaggerate quite a bit, but the sun is out, the air is warm and humid, and the world around me is just OH SO GREEEEN. How can I NOT say it's glorious! It's impossible to imagine that just a couple of months ago, all the grass and plants and trees were still covered in snow. Oh how Minnesota's grass and trees and flowers are so good at adapting to their surroundings. It really is quite miraculous! Weird to think, but the plants and grass and flowers that flourish so well right now are an example to me-- oh of just how TOUGH they really are to so quickly spring back to life after being frozen and buried for like 7 months straight! Weird--i know, but deal with it. They are an example to me. 

I promised you all with stories this week, and indeed, I am a woman/ SISTER of my words. Prepare yourself to be blown away!

But before I share the successes of the area with you, I want to clarify that I share these things not to boast of our own strength, but like Alma did, we talk of these things to glorify our Heavenly Father, because in His strength, we truly can do all things--but MOST IMPORTANTLY, what i've learnt is that --we HAVE TO BE WILLING TO GIVE ALL OUR HEART, MIGHT, MIND,AND STRENGTH to Him.
Like I told you all last week, I set a goal of being absolutely faith-filled and hopeful in all things, and Heavenly Father heard the desires of my heart.

I started this week off with an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders of our Zone. So off to the family wards, and tracting life aka "normal" missionary life of the New Brighton area I went. It's absolutely mind-blowing to me that whenever I leave my areas for exchanges, it usually is only about 10minutes car ride from where I usually am--yet a different area feels like a whole different world to me outside of the campus. Anywho! Miracles after miracles came about here on this exchange. 

After picking me up at about 8pm Monday night, Sister Richardson and I went back to her area. We were planning to do a stop by to visit a less active but because Sister Richardson was new to her area, we couldn't exactly find the house, so we decided to stop in that neighborhood and 10 by 10 the area. Ever since President's training from last week, I have started to ask for guidance, strength, and the ability to recognize all opportunities where we can find someone to baptize in EVERY one of my prayers. So before hopping out of the car, Sister Richardson and I said another prayer asking for guidance and went about knocking on doors. By this time it was about 8:45pm, closing to the time that we had to head back to the apartment. We did not have to wait long, but Heavenly Father heard the desires of our hearts and with the last door we knocked, we met a man named Gary, who was home alone, sitting in a dark living room, with his beautiful german shepherd Eva. Gary had just returned from the hospital the night before after getting treated for a lung infection. He had just recently lost his wife, and because of some contention with the pastor of the local Lutheran church that he had gone to for many years, all the members of the congregation including his children have turned against him. Gary was at a lost. He had lost his trust in God, and was at a very lonely and sorrowful point in his life. We brought him light and hope and encouragement as we told him that we were representatives of our Savior Jesus Christ to come to bring a message of peace and hope to his life. We taught him a doorstep restoration in a dimly lit, smoke-filled living room, with the door half propped open by Sister Richardson's leg so we wouldn't break the rule of 3 gender rule. We promised him specific blessing of healing and love, and forgiveness. I truly felt His Heavenly Father's love for him as I bore my testimony to Him. I saw in his eyes a sense of hope and curiosity. 

Second exchange miracle was the following day. Right before the end of our 24 hours exchange, Sister Richardson and I were stopping by an investigators home for her lesson. Of course, it fell through like all our other investigator lessons that day. Surprisingly, neither of us were worried but we continued to be hopeful and talked to EVERYONE! Sister Richardson had been praying all transfer to find a family that they could teach in their area. Heavenly Father heard our prayers. After being stood up by our appointment, we left the porch of the house and right behind us, across the street, we saw an african lady sitting in the grass, enjoying the sunshine with her 3 year old daughter playing around her. We went over to simply talk to her, to get to know her, and to hear her story. Sister Linda Inaho is from Papa New Guinea, and had just arrived in Minnesota not too long ago with her husband and her three year old daughter, Delahney. Sister Inaho has been searching for a church. She used to be Baptist, but since being here, hasn't found anything that made her feel comfortable. We talked more and got to know her better and through our conversation we learnt that her husband is an alcoholic. We saw fear, stress, and worry in her eyes. We taught her about her Savior Jesus Christ and promised her the blessing of the Atonement, of healing, of confidence, of strength to raise her daughter in righteousness, and with that the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. She was so excited to meet and to attend church that following Sunday. 

Sorry I ran out of time, but the last part of my letter are more miracles taken from my letter to President Clements-- enjoy!
. It was indeed a remarkable experience--imagine the scene, a Chinese Sister, a sister from California and an African Sister, sitting in the grass on the side the road, in the middle of Minnesota, feeling the spirit and talking of the same thing--of the Love of our Savior Jesus Christ. The spirit and the light of Christ is truly universal. We truly are ALL children of a loving Heavenly Father. He knows us so well!

Progressing Investigator:
One last miracle! I truly have been praying and eating and drinking and sleeping baptisms like you told us to President! Heavenly Father truly does grant us the desires of our heart, as long as we TRULY desire it! Sister Wei Xiu You is such a delight to teach. We are edified and enlighten by her examples each time we meet with her. Sister You is the mother of one of our Chinese recent converts, Wei Liu. Sister You had met missionaries in Hong Kong many years ago, but upon returning to mainland China, she was not able to continue attending or learning about the Church.  After all these years, Heavenly Father prepared her by giving her the desire to continue to read the Book of Mormon. Heavenly Father then prepared her by allowing her daughter to meet missionaries and be baptized here at the U of M campus. Through an inspired and prayerful mission President, Chinese speaking missionaries were requested to be sent to Minnesota. Sister You was then finally able to visit her daughter for the first time in the states this summer season, and now has been taught almost all of the lessons within a week. She cannot say that she believes in a lot of the things that we teach her during the first sitting, but through her diligent, prayerful, study and pondering every day, she is able to come back and confidently tell us the things that she believes, without us evening following up or asking. Heavenly Father can truly do His work on His own, but simply is merciful, and loving enough to let us participate, hence helping us, the missionaries, His children, learn in the process. 

This week I plan to work really hard on finding member referrals! President, you are very inspired, thats all I can say to have given us those words of counsel last night. Many weeks I have been praying to seek guidance of how we can help our Chinese investigators and new converts become more involved with the ward and with the other ward members. This is the answer! Build up their comfort zone with their own friends! I know that if this becomes the true desires of my heart, that Heavenly Father will grant us according to what we set our heart and mind upon. I am excited to act on these counsel! Thank you for all that you do President. We truly do look up to you and Sister Clements! We love you two and pray for you always!

Family, I love you all so much! I just wished you could be here experiencing the same joys, and life-changing, experiences that I get to be so fortunately a part of everyday! Thank you for all your support. Until next week! Robsters! Don't be down about not getting into the school. Be filled with hope! Pray and fast, and seek out His guidance and His will. I will be praying for you!

Sister Pao

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 32 "Hope--and dodging bullets as we go"

I hope that all of you had an amazing past week. I'm sure you are all very very busy; hence, I haven't heard much update from you all. I hope that all of you are engaged in meaning activities each and every day! :D
My prayers have been answered this past week as I learnt from an amazing zone conference why we haven't been seeing as many baptisms  (overall in the whole mission) recently. Our faith and trust in the Lord and the Holy Ghost have been dwindling because we are, an overall more mature and experienced group of missionaries-- we have forgotten that this is the Lord's work!
Hearing this caused me to re-evaluate myself and the missionary that I have been for these past few months. There has been a lot of days where I have been engulfed in being worried about the retention capabilities of the ward, that I have forgotten my purpose as a missionary-- and that is to invite others to come unto Christ and to enter into the waters of baptism, where from there they can be blessed with the sanctifying power, and strength of the Holy Ghost. I have become a passive missionary, thinking that planting seeds of conversion is but enough. I know that all the people we meet who hear about this message but do not want to actively pursue it are indeed blessed with a small seed of light, but that does not mean that I do not still need to go forth and to diligently pray, and seek out those who are prepared! I have been holding back on the potentials that we have as we heed the promptings of the Spirit!
"Our worries become self-fulfilling prophecies moving us toward the disaster we fear." This quote struck me hard this week. Kind of like a slap in the face. I worry too much, but why do I worry when all I need to do is continue to move forward diligently!
Sister Huang has been such a beacon of light these days in my life as together we have been encouraging each other to be filled with HOPE and JOY! And hence through praying for the christlike attribute of hope, we have been blessed with fruits of our faith.
One of our investigators Cedric Shan is progressing to be baptized on July 19th. Dodging bullets as you see is the name of my post...but just to reassure you all, we are not literally dodging bullets. Sometimes it feels like it though, when we are faced with all of the MOST unpredictable things ever! Life of a missionary-tell me about it! Sister Huang and I have been praying hard for him because we thought last week that he might have a problem with the word of wisdom and with cigarrettes. We prayed for faith and boldness to help him commit to keeping the word of wisdom that very day, and went into our lesson. Heavenly Father answered our prayers, and blessed us with MORE than we were expecting. Cedric didn't have any problem with cigarrettes! He said that he would sometimes only have some coffee when he was pulling all-nighters for his studies, but that recently, he has been trying to commit to changing that bad habit. We were overjoyed--and surprised at first! But ever so grateful. Whew we dodged that bullet there!
Bullets don't end there though, we are always being kept on our toes these days! With this summer break, people keep unexpectedly telling us that they are leaving for vacation here and there. Makes it a tricky time to help them set dates for baptism. Despite all that! We are dodging each trial that comes our way one step at a time, and NOT LOSING HOPE. This week, I can just feel it, will be a week where our faith and hope will bring about miracles after miracles. Expect stories next week!
Thank you so much fam for all your prayers on the missionaries behalf! WE are such a blessed group of people. Each and every day, I evaluate the things and lessons that I have learnt in that day, and I just know that My Heavenly Father knows me so well! Otherwise, I would not be here on my mission, and I bet I would not be half as grateful, and knowledgeable and diligent of a person as I am now. I am learning lessons of eternal worth here, and I cannot even start to express my gratitude and joy in words.
I love you dearly, and looking forward to hearing from you all next week!
Sister Pao

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 31 "Happy Mother's Day!!!"

Oh it sure was a delight to have Skyped with all of you last night! I am so immensely blessed with a beautiful, ever changing for the BETTER, family. I am so proud to be related to such beautiful (handsome: didn't forget you, Dad and Robby..oh and Carson! hehe), loving, and awesome people.
I just love you all so much and all I can say is that, we sure are a blessed family.
Oh I've got to share with you all the miracles of our wonderful investigator, Ming Long. Ming Long was one of my first miracles during like my first several weeks out in the field. We had met him on campus, and didn't really expect much from him...didn't even set up an official meeting with him. but somehow, amongst all the confusion and misunderstanding, he showed up for an appointment one Sunday evening. When Sister Smith and I had first seen him, we couldn't even remember his name, embarrasingly enough! We met with him consecutively then teaching him all the first lessons and commandments, and set a date with him to be baptized. He said he would prepare for baptism, but he struggled a lot still with the idea of why we cannot drink tea, and amongst that concern, he had a lot more philosophical issues because he had previously studied a lot of different chinese philosophy. Despite all that he was still really willing to learn. Take note that this was all back in October 2013! After meeting with him for a few weeks or so back then, he texted us suddenly one day saying that because of some school issues, he was not a "free man" like he had thought he was (those were the words that he said). He said that he could not get baptized, and because of that, he could not keep meeting with us anymore. We were devestated! However, we knew that he was a great guy, and that he still had a lot of potential, and the want to learn. Fast forward to this new year. We kept in touch with him all these months, inviting him to things, and looking out for him, and shooting him friendly texts all along the way. Because of all these great interactions and friendships that he has felt here, he called us to see if he could meet with us again in March! It was such an exciting moment for me to see someone actively reach out to us and to want to meet with us. Ming Long still cannot be baptized here in the US because his school and governemnt back in China is sponsoring him as a visiting scholar, doing research here in the US. One of the restrictions of the contract that he signed was apparently that he could not be baptized, or be converted or something of that sort. However, we are considering and looking into different options for him, such as going to HK when he does return in August to be baptized. He was all in for that, and we are suuuuper stoked to help him and to see how things will progress from there. Ming Long is sooo cool and awesome! Oh and over the summer, he is going to bring us to give us a tour of his Civil Engineering Labratory which is underground or something. He focuses on the research of Debris Flow, and thus he spends a lot of times calculating the fall of marbles rolling down chute or a tube. Sounds like kindergarten to me! haha Dropping marbles down a slope or a slide. haha
Sorry that was super duper long, but long story short, I know that despite our purpose as missionaries right now is to invite people to come unto Christ, and not merely to be their friends, but in the end, we are all building eternal friendships here as we truly care for the welfare of each and individual soul and child of God. I am excited to have friends from all over China-- who are all brilliant may I say,-- after my mission here! I pray that they will progress and grow, and continue to flourish in the Gospel as I have seen my family do so. That is the greatest blessing anyone can ever as for.
I love you fam bam, and I hope you enjoyed this story about Ming Long. He's a cool guy, hopefully y'all will get to meet him someday! With all the Chinese who seems to love Taiwan, I'm sure we'll have plenty of visitors in the future. haha
But as for now, take care and until next week will I hear from y'all again!
Oh. and see you at Christmas time. ;) oh how that's gonna come A LOT sooner than ANY of us can imagine.
Love love love,
Sis Pao

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dinkytown: Week 30 "Change: The Book of Mormon is like a chameleon!"

I have survived yet another transfer here in Dinkytown! I think Dinkytown truly will become my eternal mission, haha. I guess the Lord still has a lot of things for me to learn here at the U of M campus. Can you believe it!? I've been in Dinkytown for a few days shy of EIGHT MONTHS! time truly does fly!
Every transfer, I feel like everything around me gets switched and changed around while I stay still. It's often sad to see people leave, and sometimes, I can't help but to feel a tad bit left behind. But then I am reminded of all the amazing people that I have come to love here, and the comforts of the Institute building, and the abundance amount of miracles we see every week, and then on second thought, I don't think i'd ever want to leave this place.  I think Heavenly Father senses my slight hope of getting to see other parts of Minnesota though each transfer, and so he has constantly allowed me to move at least from apartments to apartments here withing Dinkytown. HAPPY MOVING DAY AGAIN! I have officially gone full circle and now I'm back in the apartment where I started my mission off in! haha We're being kept on our toes here, can't get too comfortable! haha
The perks of the YSA ward:
Last Preparation day, Sister Huang and I were pampered by Kitz. She brought us out for manicures! Never ever did I think that we'd get to enjoy such luxury on a mission! Yup, we are quite pampered. The best part of the manicure besides the fact that I have clean nails again is meeting the owners of the Nail Salon. And yes, they do talk like the veet-na-meese. Sparko laike dye-mond een dee sky! Kit or gel? I help you get boifrend"
It was great! I think I've made some eternal friends that day in the nail salon. The vietnamese couple looove Taiwan, and said that they visit quite often because they have a niece who is half taiwanese that lives in Taipei. She kept saying that I looked so much like her niece. They loved us so much, and were so impressed by what we do here in Minnesota- as missionaries, that they even told Sis. Huang and I that we could get free manicures anytime that we wanted. Woot woot! Unfortunately, they didn't quite fully understand our schedules here because of the language barrier, and thus we couldn't teach them a lesson, over them fixing our nails. However, I did get their emails and will definitely hope to get in touch with them after the mish!
Perks of being based at the institute is that we get to attend all the CES fireside as long as we have an investigator with us. I learnt so much from Elder Ballard's talk to all the Young people in the church last night. He focused on three main topics. First is the use of technology, second, the dangers of Pornography, and the third the importance of marriage. What really stuck with me was what he talked about with the use of technology. He asked us all if our smartphones and ipads, and computers have become our masters, or do we have control and use them as our slaves. It made me think about my time spent before the mission. How often I went onto my phone to check facebook and to check instagram, and pinterest and etc. the list goes on forever. I marvel to think how easy it has become to acces information , but how much time we also spend on unimportant scrolling , and "likeing" and posting. We have distractions coming from every angle these days. Elder Ballard talked about how our generation today no longer get to enjoy the heavenly light, the comfortable darkness, and the natural silence that Nephi, and Christ, and even the Pioneers/ Joseph got to enjoy in the past. People have so many distractions that we no longer get to be spiritually uplifted or feel the presence of heaven close by as we stare at the dark star lit skies at night without the disturbance of a nearby jet flying by overhead. I miss silence, and I know that's something I personally loved before my mission. To be out in nature on my own. That's something I want to preserve in my future life. Those spiritual moments we get from being STILL.
Ups and Downs of this week:
Ming Ming, our dear friend Ming is so awesome. She's grown so much, and has truly had a change of heart. However, just poor timing is causing her to move her baptismal date back...for 3 months! Yup, unfortunately, so many of our progressing investigators are leaving for the summer, and because of that, we don't want to have them be baptized and go off for 3 months! Ming comes from truly an awesome family I personally believe. Her parents are so supportive, reasonable, and loves her so much. Although they didn't agree 100 percent to her being baptized, they gave very logical and respectful comments. Her dad and mom are coming in on May 20th, and I just want to meet this Dad of hers. Maybe I'll be able to win them over somehow with my charms...bahaha what charms. just kidding! I'm excited for Ming though because she will be traveling around the US with her parents all summer..and guess what's planned into their itinerary!Utah and Temple Square, yeaayah. We're going to pray hard that her parents will have the chance to talk to missionaries and have a super spiritual experience!
Highlight of the Week:
Sister Huang, Sarah Quass (a high school Senior from a nearby ward), and I went on a little adventure this past Saturday! We went to visit the married Student housing up at the St. Paul campus. We heard that there are a lot of Chinese young families over there, and of course, with ALL the Chinese that we can get, we will go scout them out! This has been my very first self planned door knocking experiences here on my mission, and guess what...with two and a half hours in mind, we only successfully knocked on 5 doors...yup 5. wanna know why?
Well on our fifth door of the day, we ended up meeting an Egyptian family. Yup. Egyptian, not Chinese may I we had hoped to.
This Egyptian young couple lovingly invited us into their home. They respectfully listened to us share our message of the Restoration, and when we had concluded that...they literally went into an hour lecture about the Islamic faith. Yes! They pulled a missionary "let us convert the mormon missionaries to the islamic faith" move on us! We sat through an hour of him telling us about the Islam faith, the Qran's history and before long, he even whipped out his electronic Qran and started to sing the Qran to us. (Did you know that they sing their scriptures?? What? I was clueless! ) We literally were pretty much bull dozed over by his intense personality. It is truly after lessons like that on the mission where I just felt defeated until I think of the seeds that we have planted...and also at the fact that I have yet gained another funny, memorable, awesome experience to my mission memory bank!
Long story short, we bursted out in laughter after that lesson, then went and treated ourselves to some Mexican food and Bubble Tea. haha!
Despite all that, we left a copy of the Book of Mormon behind and hopefully one of these days, he will come across it and read it for good for himself. Funny last thought, all throughout the lesson, he kept telling us about how he has read every bible out there and that finally when he came to the Qran, he knew that the Qran was the only right book. But of course, when we asked him " Have you Read the Book of Mormon though?" He said no. Well sorry sir, you are never going to know the truth of it if you don't read it!
Missions are filled with such great memories and planting seeds here and there! Loving every minute of the work over here me loves. Happy MOther's day to all you lovelies, and I can't wait to see you me fam bam in less than a week! Until then, stay awesome, and enjoy the nature around ya and go have a meaningful conversation with someone this week! Get off those phones once in awhile...and you know who I'm talking about! ;)
Love always!
Sister Pao

Byebye Sister Curtis! :(