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!