July 30, 2012

It has been a pretty good week here in Liverpool, we have spoken to quite of few new Chinese students but they all seem to be extremely busy right now with a variety of different reasons (excuses). These next few weeks we will looking to branch out to some White people, or really anyone who is not Chinese so that Elder Reynolds will have something to work with later. These next few weeks are going to be quite busy with meetings and exchanges and other plans so it does not give us too much time here in our own area, but we will do the best with what we are given.

Having been pondering about the question of where I am at as my own personal leader, I have looked back through the course of my mission thus far and seen the differences in myself. These differences not necessarily being changing of leadership positions but more of changing of how I lead myself when others are and are not looking. My thoughts focused more towards the goals I set for myself, whether they be weekly key indicator goals, or whether they be monthly personal goals. Everyone says that in order to be a leader you need to have a vision and I feel that my goals reflect the vision of what I want to become or more like can become. Instead of thinking of what can I get away with, I have changed to what more can I do.

The idea of being the best personal leader possible is inspiring to me due to the fact that after the mission you will not be reporting to any District Leader, Zone Leader, or Assistant. Really the only time you will report on your actions is when you have interviews with your bishop. Everything else, at all other times will be reporting to yourself and to the Lord. So now as we have two years to learn how to be our own motivator and own personal trainer, we have to effectively use this time. I feel that I am doing fairly well, I feel self motivated to become better and help others.

What I want to improve in my missionary work and later in my life is to not worry about who is above my physically, but more so, who is above me spiritually. As we said in our training this week, we don't just want a pricked heart, we want a broken heart which naturally leads to a changed heart. So now I need to go personally and intentionally break my heart and be happy while doing it.

Yesterday we had some completely unexpected opposition. I am fine with exams coming up or dissertations that need to be written by students so they don't feel they have time to come to church. I am even OK if they sleep in or if their friend comes to town so they don't have a great enough desire to overcome that obstacle. But when opposition comes in the form of canceling church in your area, that is not fair for our investigators! How are they supposed to overcome that kind of opposition?! Yesterday because of road construction the road to the church was closed and their was no physically possible way for us to have church so the stake president canceled it and said we would have to go to other wards. We ended up having zero Chinese people at church including members and investigators alike.

Elder Reynolds and I, along with the Sisters were absolutely devastated. We were going to have four new investigators at church plus a few others, and two of them were really excited to go. Then we had to call them up the night before to tell them they would have to wait until next week..... We were quite disappointed and couldn't believe it had happened. What made it worse is that later in the day we received a text from a Less Active who had not been to church in about 5 months due to anxiety saying he had gone to the church but found it closed!! He said he wanted to surprise us by showing up but he was the one surprised and disappointed to have it closed. I think all we can really learn from this is to be grateful for those many weeks that we can go to church with no problems and that it is so close for us to go on a Sunday to worship. At least there is always next week, always good things to come.

We are now getting full swing into the preparation time of the upcoming Chinese activity. We are starting to tell everyone when and where it is and to mark it on their calendar so that they can come and bring their friends. What we are struggling with right now is the actual content of the activity. At first we wanted to do something different from last time, but after thinking about it, why should we try to reinvent the wheel? Last time the Chinese loved it and had a great time. Plus we will be having the activity the same time as the Olympics, so it would be a perfect theme. We still want to make it unique though, so that comes to the types of activities and games we will have them play and compete in.

July 23, 2012

Thank you all for your Birthday wishes! I look forward to being able to tell all our Chinese Investigators that I am 21. It sounds a lot older than 20 and whenever you tell them they get a really shocked look on their face and say that they don't believe you, when you adamantly reply that you really are they exclaim that you are way too young to know anything more than them. So 21 sounds better. President Preston told me to make it a special day, but I am not too sure how I should go about doing that. We have a Zone Meeting on that day, so I guess that is special.

There must be opposition in all things. That is the theme of the past five days. Ever since the start of the new transfer last Wednesday we, Elder Reynolds and I have experienced some opposition in our work. We have had seven investigators drop us, and pretty much every investigator appointment fall through. I have been telling Elder Reynolds that it is not usually like this, but I am not sure he believes me. Haha. It has given me a great opportunity to appreciate the times when we have a plethora of blessings in our work.

It seems many of the people who have dropped us recently have dropped us because they have read anti-mormon literature which has scared them away. It kills me when investigators fall by the wayside because they read something online because the reason they were reading in the first place is because they had a great curiosity to learn more and in doing so found something not true which turns them off. I know that these encounters do not count as a fair chance for these individuals, so at least they will have a greater chance in the future.

At the same time, as we have seen all of these trials piled against us we were blessed with a great experience last night while we taught a new friend for the first time. Her name is Olivia and she is from China. She does not have any belief in a higher power and knows nothing of religion. As we taught her the Chinese pre-lesson about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost it seemed that we were getting nowhere. Although she was nice she seemed disinterested in what we were teaching her. Then about halfway through the lesson she woke up spiritually. She started asking questions that showed she had a true desire to know truth.

By the time we got to the end of the lesson and talked about prayer she had felt the spirit and she said she wanted to know how to receive an answer. We taught her how to prayer and invited her to say the closing prayer. The prayer was simple but sincere and immediately after she said amen before we could say anything she exclaimed that she could feel it! She said, "I can't believe it, it is real, I actually feel that there is someone watching over me and look after me, it feels amazing. She then proceeded to profusely thank us for teaching her how to have this feeling. We look forward to seeing her on Wednesday to see how her personal prayers are going.

After meeting Olivia and as well another girl on the street right before Olivias lesson I have decided that I just love happy people. I met a Chinese girl named Candy and she was uber happy and excited about nothing. I asked her why she was so happy and she replied, "why not? There is no reason to be said so I might as well be happy". I am not sure if there is such thing as too happy, but if there was she is a great example of it. It made my day speaking to her though. I still can't believe how happy she was. It just gave me the desire to be happy all the time too, even if I do have trials I have plenty of reasons to be happy. If nothing else, when I am happy I can help others to be happy too.

As we have been studying for our training about a change of heart this week I have been drawn to the line of a "broken heart". Something I have learned is that as we line our will up with with Lords, because we are not perfect, we end up tearing away parts of our desires (our heart) so that we can purify ourselves for the Lord to put the right will in. In essence, we are breaking our heart so that the saviour through his atonement can bind up our broken hearts. -Isaiah 61:1 He is the one and only person that can make our hearts whole again and in a perfect condition, that is why he needs our hearts to be broken, so he can fix them. Like muscles, in order to get them bigger we have to break them down. Although it may be difficult we have the opportunity to put aside our own carnal desires so that we can embrace the will of God. As we do say we will be putting ourselves in a position to truly build the kingdom of God in his way.

Once again, thank you everyone for the Birthday wishes. Have a great week and remember that God Helps those that Help themselves.

July 19, 2012

Well I am sure you would like to know where I went for this transfer. I have been moved to nowhere. I am staying in Liverpool for yet another transfer! I wonder how many more transfers I can stay in Liverpool after this one. To be honest I am quite relieved to stay here, I am grateful for the time I will have here. One part of me can't believe I am still here in Liverpool and the other part feels like it is exactly the way it was supposed to happen. It could go without saying, but I love Liverpool, I really do. Elder Reynolds (my new companion) and I are excited for this transfer. Elder Cai was shipped back to Manchester. I am sad to see him go despite his craziness.

It will be interesting to balance teaching Chinese people and teaching other people now that Elder Reynolds is here and next transfer we are going to need to do a transition with all of our investigators over to the Sisters. We don't want to leave Elder Reynolds and his new companion starting from scratch if I happen to leave, so we will teach both Chinese and anyone else from now on. The other great opportunity is once again learning how to effectively teach in unity with your companion when he does not speak a lick of Chinese. I am confident we will work it out. He is a great missionary. He is from down south in England, I think he said North Hampshire. Maybe. He is my first English speaking companion so it will be a good change of scenery.

We are also excited to have two new missionaries come into our Zone. As has been said many times, new missionaries bring new blood and enthusiasm to the work. That coupled with their faith they are strong weapons in the Lords hands. Both Elder Norman and Christensen look prepared and ready to work hard and diligently, and it is great to know that they are in good hands with their trainers. We look forward to going on exchange with them and learning from them. We sat down with the sisters on Sunday to talk about the upcoming Chinese activity and put together some ideas. When we get it more figured out I will let you know what we will be doing. All is going well here, I am happy where I am doing the Lords work.

Unfortunately time is up for today, we have a lesson to get to, so I will have to more fully share what is on my mind of late on Monday. Have a fantastic weekend and enjoy the sun, because I am not due to the constant rain. Summer my foot...

July 9, 2012

This past week Elder Cai and I have been talking about what we need to do to prepare for the incoming Chinese missionaries. Within the next 6 months we will have 10 new Chinese speaking missionaries coming in and we need to make sure everything is set up and prepared as good as possible for them. I will only be here to see three of them come in but we are working on having another Chinese activity in the middle of August so that the new missionaries can see what Chinese work is like and how exciting it is to be a Chinese missionary.

It was great yesterday because we had about 3 hours of street contacting to do and in that time we taught a lesson on the spot and set up 6 appointments with some new Chinese friends. Most of which just got here to Liverpool in the last week. The great thing about working with students is that you always get fresh stocks coming in to work with. :) The only problem again is that the reason they are here for the summer is because they are all in English Foundation classes to prepare them for the Fall Semester. So when they see a white person who is willing to speak to them they want only English coming out of my mouth.

It is somewhat interesting because when they first meet me they get all excited because I am probably the first white person they have met that can speak Chinese. They rant and rave how fantastic my Chinese is, especially for only two years of study. Then when we start teaching them they tell me I should speak in English because they can't understand me and what I am saying. I am trying to figure how much of that is truth and how much of it is that they just want me to speak English so that they can practice their English skills... Oh the dilemmas in life... I really am looking forward to the continued learning of Chinese for the rest of my life.

On Friday we had a Zone Leader Council yet again, and the main part of our meeting was getting rid of Rules. Our previous mission president, President Bullock was very rigid and set on rules in order to help missionaries be obedient and more sacred. I was very grateful for that. Now we are getting rid of most of those rules to allow missionaries to be agents unto themselves. We have been told by the Prophet and Apostles that we need nothing more than the standard works, PMG and the Missionary Handbook to guide us in our missionary endeavors. We should not need extra rules to keep us on the straight path of discipleship. In a way I think that rules are really good, when we had them and they were actually followed, our mission was doing very well in regards to output of numbers. Now I feel missionaries have slacked off a bit. And now that we are getting rid of the other rules completely I completely support what we have done, I just wonder what will be the result.

Elder Cai and I discussed it and decided that at the end of the day that the missionaries who struggled before to be obedient will continue to struggle, while the missionaries who are always obedient will continue to do so. The difference will be of those in the middle. Really this way is the best way for missionaries to actually become what we are meant to become. We are not meant to be commanded in all things, but should do things because we want to and not because we have too. Ultimately if you can do what is right all the time without any rules, you know it was because you wanted to, not because you had to. It allows us to more fully exercise our agency correctly for the right reasons. Now I just hope our mission can catch the vision of that principle and live up to it.

Well, transfers are coming up next week, so we will see where the Lord will put me. Keep working hard and having fun doing so.

July 2, 2012

The joys and experiences of missionary work continue forward as always. Recently we have had a few disappointing losses in our teaching pool. Either people with really great potential dropping us for one reason or another, or people going back home to China. It is really interesting working with the Chinese, one minute they are having a hard time finding time to meet with you because of school work, then they finish with school and find it hard to meet with you because they are traveling or decide to go home for the summer. It seems like right now we are having a hard time finding the people who can make the balance to meet with us. Dorene is going back to China never to return to England, and Connie is doing the same next week. Two investigators who were so close to baptism but couldn't quite make it. I do look forward to keeping contact with them in the future to see how their spiritual progress is even if they have not been baptized.

Elder Cai have been thinking a little bit about the upcoming Chinese movement that will take place within our mission. With 8 Chinese missionaries coming into the mission within the next two transfers there is going to be a lot that needs to be taught and passed down. In regards to a Chinese meeting, we are thinking that we should have it right after the new missionaries come in at the start of August, maybe like the 10th or 11th. At that meeting we can teach and pass down the knowledge we have and more specifically plan for the Chinese Activity that could take place on the 17th or 18th. We would then be able to involve the new Chinese missionaries more in the planning process and give them some responsibility right off the bat to help them gain a greater understanding of how the Chinese work is, plus help them feel involved, utilized and needed right away to start their missions.

Recently I have been thinking about how much my mission has blessed my life already thus far. Besides the strengthening of my testimony which is the most important part, it has given me so many opportunities to learn, grow and stretch myself. I am extremely grateful that I am able to look back and see specific instances where I had to do something different in my work and in doing so I became better because of it. My way of thinking about missionary work has changed from just do it, to lets do it correctly. I feel I have a much greater sense of what is important, how to prioritize, and how to work harder to achieve a goal.

Being in Leadership has also given me a greater understanding that it is not about me, but about those around me. If I want to be a truly successful leader, I have to forget about myself and look to lift and build them. I really do love what Elder Kerr said. The church is a unique organization, it is the only organization that releases people once they actually get good at what they are doing. It really is the genius of the church. The church doesn't need a whole bunch of people who think they know what are doing and feel comfortable. The church needs people who don't know what they are doing and are humble enough to work hard to get there, always relying on the Lord. Genius.

To be honest, I don't know what more I can tell you this week. Maybe that I feel like there is progress with the Chinese Language at the moment. I feel like things are coming a lot smoother when it comes to speaking, I can get more of my feelings across in full sentences. At least better than before... :) The major improvement has been in my listening though. It just seems to click a lot more than before. Don't get me wrong, I am still very far away from where I could or should be, but it is something. I think when you hear me speak Chinese you might be disappointed a little bit that I am not better, I think I will be. That is the reason why I will continue pressing forward even after the mission the more fully learn the language. It feels good and right to keep learning, you can almost say that I love it! Haha, almost.

Some interesting useless info. is that it seems to be hate on Elder Fawcett week. Haha, yesterday at church I was bombarded by Chinese people telling me how ugly I have gotten. Because of shaving every day I have a rash all over my face which makes it look like I have really bad acne. I think three Chinese people asked me what happened to my face and another said, "you can tell you are really young because you have pimples all over your face." I had just gotten a hair cut as well and one of them told me that it looks really funny and I should do it differently. Haha Chinese people don't understand what side parts are unfortunately. The last comment came after we took a picture, one of the investigators looked at it and then said, wow, you don't look as good as you did six months ago. It sounds like the mission is taking its tole on me... Gotta love it...