June 25, 2012

The YSA conference has been a great success with the Chinese recent
converts and investigators alike! We ended up being at the Chapel and
other related activities most of the time in order to facilitate the
integration and communication between the Local Brits and the Chinese
students. Overall we ended up with about twenty Chinese who attended
from within the boundaries of our mission. Seventeen from Liverpool,
two from Preston, and one from Manchester. It was also great to see
other Chinese students from other parts of England show up. There was
one from Cambraige, one from Leicster, and four from Newcastle
up-on-tyme/Hull. At times it was very difficult to initiate
conversations between the Chinese students and the English speakers,
but for the most part we were able to keep them fairly involved in the
activities. In the end we were also able to build up the relationships
between the Chinese students from the different areas of the country,
we feel that that was a great success in itself.

To be honest the whole experience was very awkward and out of place
for me. We literally attended the whole of a YSA conference except for
the dance part of Saturday night. I haven't even been to a YSA
conference or anything else like that in my life, and now I had to
experience it as a missionary. I had such mixed feelings the whole
time I was there. The worst part was the fact that all 250 of the YSA
were probably thinking the same thing. What in the world are these
four missionaries doing here at our Convention?! They had either one
of two things in their mind, or both. These missionaries are so
apostate wasting their time at a YSA conference, or, oh no, the
missionaries are here to make us speak to the 20 Chinese people they
brought, run away! So awkward.... I truly feel that I will never
experience such an awkward social situation like that in my life
again. But like I said, the time spent there was very effective in
helping the Chinese in their own personal conversion process and
really enjoying their time there.

It was a great learning experience though which built character in a
specific way. Imagine walking up to a girl YSA, speaking to them in
the most professional yet personable way possible so that you can then
smoothly/casually lead them to speak to a Chinese member or
investigator who is standing there by themselves not sure what to do.
All of this so you don't look like an apostate missionary flirting
with a girl while not making it seem to the girl you are just using
them or forcing them to speak to a Chinese person. Elder Cai and I
have had many a conversation about the whole thing, and we are just
grateful it is over and it went as well as it did.

So like I said, mom and dad, if there is anything that is going to
distract my attention or focus on my mission, it would be going to a
YSA conference for three days where most of what they talk about is
dating and marraige. I am pleased to say that we succeeded in our
mission of helping the chinese while keeping focus on why we were
there in the first place. Talk about experiences you can only have as
a missionary.... Haha

Because we were there to translate for some of the Chinese during the
Firesides we had that wonderful opportunity to listen to President
Kopischke answering some questions the YSA had. Unfortunately for us,
much of the discussion was centered around dating and getting married
as you would imagine at a YSA convention. It was very strange being
there and listening to those types of comments as a missionary. One
thing he did say though that he tied directly to missionary work is
about recieving a confirmation of whether or not you should be
married/baptized. He said that sometimes people know that they truly
love each other before they get married, recieving the confirmation
that they should. Whereas others don't feel that true love or joy
until later after the marraige. He said it is very similar to people
joining the church.

Some people feel/recieve an answer that what they are doing is right
before they are baptized, but for some it comes even later after the
Gift of the Holy Ghost has been given. When he said that, Elder Cai
and I looked at each other. We had been discussing the very subject of
whether or not you should baptize someone who has not recieved their
answer yet. And it sounds like from President Kopischke that yes you
should if they want to do it for the right reasons and are doing
everything right, but they just have not felt or recognized the answer
yet. In time when all of the right things are being done they will
recieve that confirmation telling them what they have done is right.
Both Elder Cai and I are very grateful for the opportunity we had to
learn important and useful principles even at a YSA conference with
the main purpose being to find an eternal companion or being taught
how to do so elsewhere.

I had a great time on Exchange with Elder Caner this past week. Elder
Caner being from France I thought he would be much more reserved and
quiet. Much to my surprise I was very wrong. Elder Caner has a
fanastic personality and is very charismatic, always laughing and
helping others to laugh as well. He has a great strength of helping
those around him feel comfortable, which then allows them to share the
way they are really feeling. Always optomistic and willing to help and
be of service, I can honestly say that Elder Caner went about doing
everthing he could to make my life better and happier as well as
everyone else we met. He is a great missionary with a very pure heart
and right intentions and I am grateful I was able to learn so much
from his example. The only thing that keeps him from progressing
quickly in his skills is his English speaking abilities. And as I can
empathize with him, that is something that will have to be worked on
slowly but surely on a daily basis. Oh the joys of missionary work!!

June 18, 2012

I had a great experience this week that gave me an opportunity to really ponder and contemplate the testimony I have of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. I was on exchange up in St. Helens and we were street contacting just before we were about to teach a lesson. One of the last people I spoke to was absolutely adamant about the fact that I was completely crazy and had been brain-washed into believing the things I believe and that it is only in my head. I have had many encounters like this, but for some reason it made me think about my testimony more than before. I asked myself the question, why do I believe what I believe, what is it that has given me a testimony?

Seeing as I have not had an Alma the Younger, Nephi, or Joseph Smith experience yet, I can't just tell people my story giving them the opportunity to either believe or blatantly reject it. Really what it comes down to are the promised blessings that have come as I have kept the commandments God has given. It is very simple to find out through basic living of the standards and waiting for the promised outcome. If they come than it obviously is true, if they don't, then it is not. Also I was reading today in PMG chapter 5 about the Book of Mormon, and realised how much my testimony is based upon it and its truthfulness. For me after reading it so many times I can't see how anyone can read it and tell me that any one more or even group of men wrote it in the space of any ones lifetime.

To me it is a living miracle and witness of God's existence and his love for us. After thinking all of these thoughts this morning, I realised that I need to be more specific when teaching our investigators about the Book of Mormon, sharing with them over and over again Moroni's promise and emphasizing that this more than anything else really is what will help them to find the truth. So that is one of my new resolutions. One, sharing my testimony of the Book of Mormon more, and two, making sure they know that we expect them to recieve a testimony or answer from God based upon the Book of Mormon. Then all they have to do is actually read it and find out for themselves.

While on exchange in St. Helens my companion and I tried to speak to a family of four about the Gospel telling them that they can have an eternal family, but they were not interested and kept walking away. About 5 minutes later as we were talking to someone else, two police officers came up to us and told us that we need to be more careful with our approach to people because they had just been told by a young family that we had intimidated them and that they did not feel that that was right. To be honest, the family was probably just complaining because they don't like being preached to, but it did make me think of how our actions as missionaries can affect others and the way they think about us. We can leave lasting impressions on people, so we better make sure it is a good one. "There is no second chance for a first impression."

June 11, 2012

This week has gone much better, thank you for your prayers. At Zone Leader Council on Friday I gave a training on "ATTITUDE- Never a bad day." I feel I was prepared the week before to be able to train on that topic so I am grateful for the opportunity and experience it gave me in preparation. Chinese I feel will always be a struggle here in England, so I am hoping one day I will get to immerse myself somehow in the language in the future. How exactly are you going about making and selling these brownies in so many different places? Do you make them at home and then take them there, or something else? Haha, so did Dad's comment mean he almost couldn't keep up with you, or it was painful to run so slow? Hey if you run the Ragnar, I'll join.

All I can really say for this week is, "Life is good because the gospel is true." As the trials of life swirl around us sometimes that is all we can tell ourselves to keep going. Right now in Liverpool we are struggling with those we have dated for baptism. It seems that they are willing to set baptism dates as "Goals" but are having a hard time with actually having a sincere desire to be baptized to follow Jesus Christ. Elder Cai and I are trying to figure out what we can do to help them gain a greater vision of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its truthfulness. We are really hoping that the upcoming YSA Conference here in Liverpool will help them to see that other people their age and same type of lifestyle live the gospel and are able to see the benifit of it in their lives. Currently we have 12 chinese members and investigators planning on going.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Zone Leader Council we had last Friday with Elder Kerr. After the meeting I was speaking with some of the other Zone Leaders and it was mentioned multiple times that we had all been thinking and discussing within our companionships about certain obstacles keeping us from progressing as a mission. We all agreed that during that meeting most of the points of how to overcome these setbacks were discussed, taught, and then we were invited to apply those teachings into our work as leaders. Some of the principles and quotes I took out of the meeting were: Testifying to others of BLESSINGS that come as we live the gospel. Not changing the frequency of correction but the method. Follow Up with love and respect. Putting all our worries and cares on the High Counciler and not the Bishop or Stake President. I loved the quote, "coincidences are what happen when God wants to remain anonymous".

Yesterday we went to Ward Council at 7:30 a.m. Normally that would be really early for us, but as a missionary you don't really notice or think that it is so early. :) It just gives me a greater appreciation for the organization of the church and the willingness of so many members of the church to sacrifice their time, efforts, and skills to move the work along, even if that means waking up at 6:30 a.m. to go to a meeting on a Sunday morning. During the meeting the Bishop spoke briefly about the topic of complacency and how they as the Auxileries leaders need to set an example of Losing themselves in the service of God and magnifying their callings. It seems it is much to easy to get complacent in the every day habitual routines of life. We get comfortable where we are and then we don't want to move. I guess that is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It just comes down to asking myself, I am feeling comfortable right now? Because if so, I need to repent and do something more.

June 6, 2012

Your right it is transfer week... The first thing I want to say is how
excited I am to stay here in Liverpool for yet another transfer. No
you didn't read the words wrong, I AM staying here in Liverpool. This
will be transfer number seven and counting... I love it! There is
quite a bit going on and I am excited to stay a part of it. Working
with Elder Cai for another transfer is going to be fantastic and I
look forward to the continued learning and growth that will take
place. We have evaluated this past transfer and have now written down
the things we would like to do better or get done in this next one.
Many of our goals and plans are in regards to working with the ward
and getting them more involved in the Chinese work. We hope that the
upcoming National YSA Conference here in Liverpool will be a good
opportunity for the Chinese members and investigators to mix with the
local members. We are going to be working with Elder Hoare to see how
we can help.

The past week has been all about firsts, and unfortunately they are
not very good firsts. We started out by locking ourselves out of our
flat on an exchange without our keys, phone, planners, pens, my
namebadge, and any proselyting materials to our names. Lets just say
it was an interesting three hours before we got into the flat again.
And all that because Elder Chan and Elder White needed a Japanese Book
of Mormon... Then that same day we were teaching a 24 year old chinese
girl on a bench in a park when about 3/4 of the way through the lesson
we (Elder Marjanen and I) were bomb attacked by a bird. It completely
messed up my shirt, tie, pants, face, and hair and Elder Marjanen got
hit on the back. Fortunately the girl was not hit one bit. She felt
really bad about it but lucky at the same time. We tried to tell her
it was because God loved her so much. Haha.

The next day Elder Cai and I witnessed a major car wreck, on Friday we
got a flat tire on our car with four missionaries in it who forgot how
to change it so we waved down a taxi driver who did it for us. Then to
top it all off, during the baptism of one of the Chinese students a
member of the bishopric answered his phone on the stand while a talk
was being given. We'll just say that by the end of the week Elder Cai
and I were not about to be surprised by anything that would happen,
except for me staying in Liverpool of course. :)

To be honest, I am slightly frustrated right now because it seems that
I have hit yet another road block in learning Chinese and it is really
getting on my nerves. I don't know what it is, but I feel as if I
can't speak very fluidly anymore and my sentences are all jumbled.
Elder Cai and I have spoken about it but don't know why it is so
difficult right now. I will just have to continue on and push through
it. Oh how I wish I could understand everything that is being said in
Lessons and that I could fully answer peoples questions in Chinese.
One day it will come I am sure, but I just wish it were now. It just
makes me even more grateful that I will be staying with Elder Cai for
another transfer. So here we go!

Right, so I don't know what the office told you, but it sounds like I
will actually be flying out on the 23rd. That is a day earlier than I
told you last week I think, so I don't know if that changes any of
your plans. The evening of the 26th? Haha, cutting it a little close
are we? You don't think I have lost enough sleep already? Well, if me
going home for your selfish reasons is what you want, I guess that is
ok, I don't have much say in the matter, the senior couples in the
office would side with you and not me anyways.... :) I think the few
days I am in Arkansas I will need some help obtaining some essentials
before I head off to Provo. I don't really want to attend school in
missionary attire for the first few weeks or without any computer or
phone. I don't know how much material I left there in Arkansas, but I
don't feel like it was much.