Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Brighton: Week 9 (74) "After the Trial of Your Faith"

Wow another week down on the countdown. Time doesn't make any sense on the mission! I bet on your receiving side, it still feels like an eternity away until I get home. I know I know, and I'm sorry it feels that way. If it makes any of you feel any bit better, THIS IS REAL LIFE. Something that I don't mention as often as a missionary is that there are actually a good amount of moments all across my mission where I have felt like time couldn't be any slower. However, from all my emails home, I'm sure you haven't been able to catch on to it, because, well, straightforwardly, I don't talk about those moments as much. Why? I can promise that I haven't been lying or hiding these REAL feelings with you all, but simply one answer, these seemingly blatant, slow and hard times are just simply ALWAYS over encompassed by the fast paced joys, and goodness of the week! Example A: THIS WEEK!

Guess what? Pretty much all our investigators, and progressing investigators dropped us earlier on at the start of this past week. Cute little Vietnamese Vinh broke our hearts, actually the day of my birthday by writing us a letter saying that he needs extra time. Initially, he felt prompted to be baptized on March 31st, but his battle with cigarettes has just been a really difficult one. I am grateful that he gave me a moment to realize that time is okay, and that a break from our visits will be a good time for him to evaluate, to soak in all that he's learnt, and to learn to rely on the Holy Ghost for himself. I learnt that even when we are not physically there meeting with him, God's plan is still going according to plan, as He continues to work miracles in His life. It proved to be true because out of the blue, we invited him (very last minutedly) to a fireside that night, and he jumped right on board. He has a great heart and desire to be right with God. His time will come according to God's time.

Two of our other progressing investigators, Xu Pu, and JingBo have been way too busy with school and student teaching. With zero people in our teaching pool, we had a lot of work to get done. By exercising our faith, we invited God to work miracles in our lives.

This past week, I set a personal goal of seeking to talk to literally EVERYONE within my reach planned or unplanned, and to share about Christ and to invite all to come closer to Him WHENEVER and WHEREVER I have the opportunity. Funny thing though, I made a personal deal by promising Heavenly Father that I'd talk to everyone possible with the 20 days that I had left to being a full time missionary, but I cannot remember what I hope that He'd promise or bless me with. Within me, I guess that I have always had an unspoken goal of teaching Africans and to teach a little family with kids. As I have sought to testify of Christ at all times and in all things and in all places, LITERALLY, in the gas station, to our waiters/waitresses at restaurants, to people sitting off the side of the street, Heavenly Father has blessed us with a new investigator! Sylvia, from Togo, AFRICA, and her little 6 year old son, Given. I am beyond excited to be able to keep teaching them. Africans are just oh soooo very faithful and has sooo much Trust in God. I hope that I can go through life with the same amount of trust that Sylvia has shown me from all the struggles and challenges that she has had in her life.

While on the tangent of teaching Africans, while we stopped by to pay Sylvia a quick visit last night, we met some African Americans sitting outside in her parking lot soaking in some sunshine. We said hi to the one lady, and made our way to knock on Sylvia's door first. We made a mental note to stop back by to talk to the lady sitting outside after we got in touch with Sylvia. Without us even having to do anything, the African American lady approached US on her own. She said that she recognized who we were, that we were angels and that we are doing a good deed. She came and petitioned our help in praying for her. LaDonna, is our new friend that we will be planning to visit with again on Thursday. She expressed how she has definitely gone down some wrong paths in her life right now and just needs all the help she needs to get back and to be right with God. We testified to her of the healing power of our Savior's Atonement, and how by making promises with Him, we can be fully healed and learn how to truly change our nature. She was filled with the spirit, and we prayed with her (all the while she chanted "Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus as I prayed...oh and of course we held hands in a circle.. ya we did not look like a cult or anything). haha Despite it all, the spirit was strong, there was light present, and she definitely was drawn towards it. We were so blessed to be in the right place at the right time.

This work is amazing. I am so grateful to be able to shed the light of Christ all day errday, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEIR IS REAL SUNSHINE OUTSIDE. Minnesota is warming up and my hopes and dreams as a dying missionary is for it to turn green before I peace out!

I love you all and pray that your faith may continue to increase each and every day. Our faith increases as we speak and hear and read the words of God. So share your testimony, study the scriptures and listen to the words of our prophets and apostles. We gain real peace, and divine direction through that. Don't miss out on His love and quiet whisperings to us!

Love you all!
Sister Pao

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Brighton: Week 8 (73) "Blessed of the Lord, [I've Been]"

Dearest fam bam and me lovely poppets and friends from all around.

Wow, and wows again. That is all that I can repeat over and over again. I am so blessed. To all of my friends, and family from literally ALL around the world, thank you and thank you again. I literally feel like a chicken with my head cut off right now, because I don't even know where to start to respond to all the love that you have all PERSONALLY expressed to me this week.

The video from the fam and Songshan Ward, man! I looked like a crazy lunatic sitting at the public library, bawling my eyes out. But boy did that birthday video prick my heart good...oh man, doesn't help at all in that whole getting trunky aspect of my last transfer. haha!

Opening my inbox this morning was literally better than CHRISTMAS MORNING...well okay, nothing trumps Christ's birth..but yano, I wasn't literally there for it. This has been the most love and JOY that I have felt whole life. I officially mark this morning, 11:20am of March 9th, 2015 to be my MOST current MOST JOYOUS experience of my life so far. I am sure that will soon be trumped by the day that I return home and SEE ALL OF YOUR LOVELY FACES AGAIN. Oh how my heart swells with so much joy. Thank you Rach all the way from Canada. Thank you Nina from all the way in WHAT?, DUBAI??, Thank you from everyone in Taiwan. Thank you to my fav Chan family in Canada as well. oh and shout out to Megan! all the way in Seattle. You all are the BEST. What more can I say.


Monday, February 2, 2015

New Brighton: Week 4 (69) "But all things are done to serve to strengthen our faith in Christ"

This has been a blast of a week! Such a successful, busy, tiring, and joyful week. Emotional swings up and downs were inevitable as well haha. But why is it when weeks are so hard and tiring, that they become some of my MOST worthwhile weeks?! Heavenly Father is still oh so good to us, and HURRAH FOR TENDER MERCIES IN OUR LIVES.

Well, as my email title has given a hint into what I wanted to share, I wanted to share a cool experience that I had this past week as I have been studying more about the Gospel in the Book of Mormon and in the New Testament.

I bore my testimony yesterday in sacrament about a scripture that I found in the New Testament. I was studying that morning and also came across a scripture in the Book of Mormon that basically helped me to refocus on all the little nitty picky reasons of why oh WHY we do certain things in the Gospel EACH AND EVERY DAY. Why do we pray, why do we spend THREE hours going to church each week, why do we study the scriptures why do we keep the commandments and why do we stay strong and suffer thru trials and temptations even though sometimes it is easier to just give up and to live recklessly? The list can go on, Why do we seek to magnify our callings, why do we spend hours and hours over preparing for a lesson or a talk? Why why why do we do so much!? The thought that came to my mind is " all these things that we do are for one purpose. They are to only, and solely strengthen our faith in our Savior Jesus Christ."

And then I read the scripture in the Bible, Matthew 11:28-30
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soulsFor my yoke is easy, and by burden is light."

That is why we do all things, because this life is meant to be a test and trial. I need to live the rest of my life recognizing and remember not to be so shocked and taken back when trials and challenges come my way! I should know better by now that they ALWAYS come! haha Easiness thru the Savior does come though! That easiness does not mean that life is a piece of cake all cupcakes and icing and frosting all the time, but that easiness means Peace and Rest unto our souls. That peace of mind, a buoyant peace (isn't that such a beautiful imagery and choice of words) with a light of "eternal perspective that shines on our struggles and trials" that ONLY comes through the knowledge of the restored truths of the Plan of Salvation. I am so grateful for that full eternal perspective. I am so grateful for administering angels that minister to me all day, ones that God has sent, and living ones, and also my family members that have past. They live, and they don't want us to forget them. Christ and God don't want us to forget them as well, they were our family first after all.

A final thought of a tender mercy story that came just last night came from a Less Active girl named Patricia who is in about her mid 20's. Patricia is the best. I have loved getting to know her. She is such an angel and a woman of pure goodness. We met with her last night at the church building at about 6:30pm. It was fast Sunday yesterday, and without knowing, she was still fasting after all her church services and as we had the chance to meet. To be honest, we were not very prepared for her lesson because we had not seen her for a long time and with church in the morning, we did not have a really good study session. Despite all that, as we sat down, with her. We got to talking and just hearing about some of her recent going abouts. She mentioned something about being confused about the proper way to fast, and then Sister Smith thought to the fact that we could share a Mormon message with her. However, the thought only came because Patricia had asked earlier about the YSA Institute's activities and where she could find them. Because she had gone to church earlier that day, her friend Larissa was able to tell her how to find it on, and so we spent some time while we met with her seeing if we could sort it out and find it for her. We went into it kind of halfhearted because we knew that it was always hard to connect to the internet at the church building. But lo and behold, It worked out, she sorted out institute classes on line and then we were able to show her the Mormon message "Hope of God's Light." As we watched it in the dark, we realized how she started to wipe at her eyes, over and over again. When the video finally ended and we flipped the lights back on. The spirit was pressing upon each of our hearts as we just sat in the silence for a little while soaking things all in. Finally we asked, what were your thoughts? A little bit embarrassed with all her tears that she had shed, she said, Heavenly Father just answered my prayers that I had been praying for in the car as I drove here. I went to church today fasting with a specific purpose in mind, but didn't really get any answer, but all I took away from someone's testimony was how they pray and drive at the same time. She decided to do the same continuously praying for answers even as she was driving to meet us at the church. Finally, as we watched the unexpected video of Hope of God's light, so many things were just answered about how she needs to take time and not lose faith over the fact that Heavenly Father did not answer her question right away throughout her fast. She finally even expressed to us how she has felt impressed that she needs to go to the temple to make more covenants with God but how she doesn't want to think about it. We were able to spend some time to answer and resolve some of her questions and concerns, and finally on her way home as she continued to pray in the car, she texted us in the evening to say that she has finally received a resolved answer from Heavenly Father that she needs to get to the temple. Hurrah Patricia! WE are so excited for her and for the faith and testimony that she has built up.