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