May 28, 2012

Unfortunately today will have to be shorter than usual because we did a great service project this morning building a fence to go around someones house to protect it from thiefs and vandals. It was easily the most work intensive mind power taking project I have done on my mission. It reminded me of when I worked with you as a family back home. I miss doing hard labour now that I really think about it. Something about the satisfaction of you putting your hard work into something and seeing it turn our all right or even amazing.

Something that I have been thinking about along the topic of, "when do you know to drop someone from your teaching pool," has to do with the word IF. So many of our investigators, two of them specifically right now, are finding it really hard to make the decision to be baptized because of their fear of the unknown future. They don't know how baptism and becoming a follower of Christ will effect them in the future, especially as chinese people living under a communist reign. They fear that if they join the church, which they know to be good and true, they will have a decreased chance of obtaining the job or career that they are searching for in the future. They also fear what their friends and families will say and whether or not it would alienate them from their group of friends. All of it comes down to the word IF. IF this IF that. We are trying to teach them more about the word Faith, but there seems to be very little progress made.

I feel that we as missionaries, or members of the church, or just people in general often have this same dilemma. We don't what what COULD or WOULD happen so it keeps us from doing it because we are afraied of the POSSIBLE outcome. The same them happened to peter when he was walking on the water, what if I drown because of these big waves. At least peter made the first step, sometimes we will not let ourselves even get that far due to our fears and doubts. Too often we let fear rob us of faith. The solution? I am still working on it, but I feel that it comes to the point of studying how to increase faith and then taking the necessary steps to try and do so. I love the idea that one of the gifts of the spirit is the gift of having strong faith. We can gain that same faith, it might take a while but we all can have it.

Life is going well here in Liverpool, we are still enjoying the time to finish up our last batch of AUF's while the students are still taking their tests. They all for the most part finish this Thursday, so hopefully after that we will be able to spend more effective time around the universities setting up appoinments with amazing chinese people. :) I have loved the transfer up to this point for many reasons, but one of the things I am most grateful for is that fact that my Chinese has improved quite a bit, especially the listening.

The reason why is that because of Elder Cai I have more opportunities to practice my Chinese, as well as listen during lessons and other times he speaks with Chinese people. I know that requests is not how the Lord works, but if I were to make a request, it would be that I can stay with Elder Cai for another transfer so that I can be at my best level possible my last transfer in the mission! :) We will see how it goes in a weeks time... I really am looking forward to the continued progression in the Chinese work and the new wave of missionaries that we will be able to pass down our knowledge and culture to.

May 21, 2012

The most exciting thing that happened to me this week? Well it didn't happen to me really, more so to Elder Cai. And maybe it isn't really exciting, more just annoying than anything, but we were egged. :) Both Elder Cai and I will agree that chaves are extremely annoying. Who walks around with eggs in their pockets looking for someone or something to throw them at? Elder Cai was hit and splattered pretty well so we had to go back to the flat for him to change. That is the third time I have had eggs thrown at my general direction (meaning at me and my companion) Fortunately I have never really been hit. Luckily my computer is on a wooden table.

This week I have been pondering about the principle of Covenanting with God the actions we take. As members of the church we make covenants as we are baptized and at different stages of our life. We do this in order to show God our greater commitment, as well so that we can recieve the promised blesings that come from making and keeping this covenants. More recently though I have been thinking about the personal covenants we can make with God on a daily basis. We have the ability and opportunity when we pray to make our own personal commitments and covenants. For example, as missionaries before we leave the flat we may set a goal and then in our prayer covenant to God that we will do all we can in order to reach that goal and then ask for his help to accomplish it. I have seen that the more we make these small personal covenants and then do all we can to achieve and fulfill our part, the more we will succeed and in doing so come closer to God.

Over this past week we have continued with the AUF program spending all of our "non-teaching" time centered on knocking on these specific peoples doors and those around them. In doing so we were blessed to see many miracles that has helped Elder Cai and myself to realize how inspired this program is. We have seen many blessings of teaching people on the spot and then setting up appointments with others. Just yesterday at one AUF location we taught two on the spot lessons and set up an additional three appointments. The actual AUF was the wrong person, but because we set our sights on those around as well we were able to see miracles. The AUF program really gets you to places in your area that you would not go to otherwise or that other missionaries have not been to for a long time. We love it. The best part is that all the people we teach and set up appointments with we hand over to Elders Zakharov and Jenei (in a different area of the Liverpool ward area). Another great opportunity to help build up others and their areas.

Something that Elder Cai and I have not agreed on this week is the question of when to drop someome, meaning to stop meeting with and teaching them. Because of this difference in opinion it has given me the opportunity to think of that question on a deeper level. (See looking on the brightside. :)) If people are willing to meet with you, willing to come to church and willing to read sometimes but are not willing to pray what do you do? That is just one scenario and situation, there are many others that there can be. It all comes down to our purpose as missionaries and the investigators willingness to keep commitments. The biggest problem for me is the factor of relationship. The longer you meet with someone the greater your relationship with them will be and the more they will know about the Gospel, meaning the more opportunity to act. The problem is that it makes it so that when you comtemplate whether or not to drop them, you have personal strings attached to the situation which makes it harder to let go. So what is your opinion. If someone is willing to come to meet with you and come to church, but have a hard time with reading and praying should you drop them? I know it is a hard question especially because you don't have a full understanding of the situation, but I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. I guess the important question is, is our time spent with them helping them build faith in Jesus Christ? Think about it get back to me.

May 14, 2012

It has been a great week here in Liverpool and to top it all off was the wonderful opportunity to speak to you my family! I must say that I am very grateful for the support you have been while I have been on my mission thus far. The whole conversation was very uplifting and much of it of a spiritual matter keeping the thoughts focused and centered around the Lords work (No distractions). It is always helpful when your family does this, I have seen the other side for other missionaries which is often difficult for them. So thank you for that help! Well I don't have too much to share either because I as well spoke to you yesterday, but here the habit goes...
Something that I had the opportunity to do more here in Liverpool this past week was tracting. Being a Chinese speaking missionary we rarely spend time tracting because all of the Chinese are in the Streets near the universities or city centers. But due to the AUF program, (looking for members who are lost sheep but have been found through different means and methods) we are making an emphasis on getting them done, we spent three nights of the past week tracting. To be honest it was quite refreshing to be able to do something new and speak with many English people. I love the time during tracting, because while you do so it gives you more time to think and speak to your companion whereas bus contacting and street contacting don't. While you are waiting for someone to answer the door it gives you time to reflect on what just happened at the last door, or something that happened previously during the day, or things going on in the Zone that you can speak to your companion about or simply ponder in your head.

I have thoroughly enjoyed serving with Elder Cai over the past week and a half. You barely recieved a taste of what he is like from yesterdays conversation, but maybe you will get more in the future. To be honest, he is kind of strange. Haha In a good way though. I would say our relationship or friendship is coming along nicely. One of our biggest strengths is that we are constantly talking about something. Whether it be what to do to help the ward, what our investigators need to learn, or what the Zone needs for the next weeks weekly focus. I must say that Elder Cai certainly keeps things interesting and there is never a dull moment with him around. One of his greatest strengths is his understanding of when to be serious, (he is very good at that) but as well he has a sense of humour and is definitely a long ways away from being a robot. I look forward to the rest of this transfer or more that we are together to learn from each other while serving the people around us and ultimately serving the Lord.

We went on Exchanges twice this past week and I was fortunate enough to go with Elder Stubbs from Australia and Elder Burgoyne from Taylorsville Utah. I believe one of the ultimate gauges of success from an exchange is the amount of developed or strengthened relationship between you and the other missionary. I would say that my relationship with Elder Stubbs is better, and now my relationship with Elder Burgoyne is fantastic compared with what it used to be, I just never had a chance to get to know him. That is why I love exchanges, no matter how much you are working around someone, you never get to really develope a relationship until you work together. Both missionaries are older when it comes to a mission life which means I was able to gain more tools and advice from them that they have gained over the course of their missions. Elder Stubbs is very good at expressing his thanks and making sure to use the knowledge he has, while Elder Burgoyne is a very happy and optomistic missionary.

Well, that is pretty much all I can muster at the moment. Just remember I love you and I really enjoyed speaking to you yesterday. Keep working hard and looking up during this difficult time of decisions. Always Onward and Upward!

May 9, 2012

We had sports day Yesterday. We have it once every six months or so, which means this was my last one. Despite the fact that I am quite sore today from all the running around, I am very grateful for the time that we sometimes have as missionaries to rest our minds from all the worries of missionary work and get together and enjoy each others company. I just want to say how much I admire President and Sister Preston for all that they do in order to help us as missionaries fulfill our calling. I think I have told you before, but I am pretty sure that President and Sister Preston do a lot more work and sleep a lot less than all of us other missionaries. The way I can show my gratitude for them and for you as my family as well is by going out and giving my all to the lord for this opportunity I have. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Something that we have started again as a Zone as our Weekly Focus this week, is to speak to the first person out of every door in order to get into and then keep the mentality of forever finding. Just two days ago we were able to see a miracle from this. We had just finished a lesson and we were walking out the gates of some student accomodations with a member when we said hello to a man standing outside the gates. Imediately he replied, "hello Elders." At which point Elder Cai and I looked at each other in surprise and continued the conversation. He is a student here at the University of Liverpool and went to church with his family a long time ago in Wales. He was very willing to invite us over to his house and speak with us despite the time he has spent away from the church. We have an appointment with him tonight and we look forward to speaking with him then. This whole experience came from us making sure to speak to the first person out of a door.

I believe that when we set goals to do something right, God gives us experiences that will help build our testimony in that principle so we will be stronger and more consistant in doing it in the future because we know it is true and it works. It makes me think of missionaries when they first come on their missions. They dont' know much but they do know it is right for them to be there, so God often blesses them for their faith right away and they see many miracles which will lead them to further the work with stronger faith. To me that suggests that the more often we lift our vision and strive for something more in our Goal setting, the more God will bless us because we are trying to do something that is right and he is blessing us so that we will continue to do those actions. It all starts with our desire to do what is right, then it turns into an amazing cirle of truth and growth.

This past week I have enjoyed my time with Elder Cai emmensely. He has such a strong desire to share the gospel and give everyone a chance while at the same time recognizing their agency and letting them excersize it. He will do all he can to help them hear the gospel in the best light and then leave the decision up to them. Essenstially you could say, putting the ball in their court. The time of year is coming again that students are preparing like made for their upcoming end of year test, reports and essays. This means that it is continuously getting more difficult to see people on a regular basis or set up appointments. It has been really interesting how my mission has gone on cycles depending on the time of year it is for students and their schooling. I can't say I fully appreciate this cylce, but it has given me a basic understanding of what will be happening in the future. Once again, I must say how much I love Liverpool, I guess it would be too much to ask to stay here until the end of my mission right? :)

To be honest, Kjanela asked a question about my companions, it is not easy having a companion 24/7. No matter how good your companion is you always end up finding something you don't agree on or get along about. Really there have been few companions on my mission that I did not have trouble with. Both Elder Moss and Elder Eggers were extremely easy to get along with, but all others have been a struggle at some point or another. Frankly it probably comes down to my own personality and inability to let things go and my hobby of debating. If you think about it, it is really strange, but you literally have to be within sight and sound of your companion all day every day except in restrooms or in the flat. That is a lot of time with one person. I probably spend more time in 6 weeks with one of my companions than mom and dad with each other in 4 or 5 months. Interesting thought right? It takes work, but boy does it prepare you for the future.

Kind of funny story. The other day we were teaching one of our investigators named Serena, (named after Serena Williams the tennis player). She is one of the most expressionless and emotionless people I have ever met. You say something funny and it is not until a few seconds later that she even cracks a smile let alone laughs. Then the other day she told us that she was a summer girl, meaning that everything shows on her face all the time and that she gets excited easily. I have no idea how she got the idea that she is like that. All I know is that Elder Cai and I now refer to her as the summer girl. We will be seeing her later today, so we will see if she shows more expression now. Also right now I am on exchange with Elder Stubbs from Australia and have found out that the most poisonous of pretty much everythign is in Australia. Fish, Snake, Spider, Frog, leaf, shoe. you name it and Australia has it, well, probably minus the shoe part. Then again you never know. Elder Stubbs is extremely intelligent and has a large vocabulary that he actually uses. It is great to be able to learn a plethora of principles from him.