Sunday, June 26, 2011

Living the Gospel Brings a Living Testimony

There have slowly been signs popping up that I am turning into an "old" missionary... yikes! This morning when I went to unlock my bike I noticed that one of the latches on my box on the back of my bike had fallen off. Many of the companions I've worked with have had to use bungee cords to keep their boxes closed for that reason... I thought that would never happen to me! Ahhh! Hahaha :) I can't believe how long I've been here already, and yet I still feel like a baby missionary! However, I've taken some time this week to look back and reflect on the things I've learned so far while being on a mission. It's been a sweet experience to realize just how much I've learned and grown, and that even though I've gone through some of the hardest, most faith-trying experiences in my life, it has all been for my good, and I've seen so many blessings and miracles because of it.

This week was really special as Sister Brownell and I were able to find lots of unplanned teaching moments where we were able to share our testimonies in informal teaching settings. Lately we've been fond of a noodle place where you can choose what vegetables/other stuff you want inside and then they stew it up for you in a delicious broth. There's all sorts of things to choose from including animal innards, all sorts of substances that I have no idea what they are, about 5 different kinds of tofu, etc... but I like to stick with the vegetables like broccoli, pumpkin slices, and green peppers :) Oh yeah, and because Sister Brownell is vegetarian I've decided to try it out and be vegetarian with her! It's been really awesome and we've been eating a lot of yummmmy food (thank goodness that Taiwan is really accommodating to vegetarians), although I must say I haven't been 100% dedicated. I've been about 98% though! That's pretty good, for me :)

Anyway, back to the story. Early on in the week we went to that noodle shop for dinner and as we were waiting for our noodles, two girls sitting at the next table over decided to talk to us in English. They were two students majoring in English and saw the opportunity to talk to two foreigners, and it was perfect because when everyone noodles came we naturally wanted to say a prayer before we began eating, and so we invited them to join with us. They loved it and the rest of the meal was a wonderful conversation about life, God, and what the gospel means to Sister Brownell and I. We invited them to English class as well, which they were really excited about! The only sad thing was that they were both going home to other cities for the summer, but we were able to refer them to those areas and they said they'd attend English and meet with the missionaries there. :)

A few days later when we went back to the noodle shop one of the ladies that works there struck up a conversation too and noticed that all of the missionaries or members of our church she's ever seen have been so nice and beautiful and that she was wondering why. I testified that it was because we follow Christ, and that as anyone chooses to do the same they can radiate the same light and become a better, more beautiful person every day. That's the power of the gospel! Sister Brownell and I continued to share our testimonies as we waited for the noodles to cook, and a few people around us joined the conversation too. I just love being able to share my testimony is such natural ways and share the light that I've been blessed with. It's such a huge blessing to be a missionary!

Perhaps my favorite moment of the week was yesterday in between our two different wards' church meetings. We had just finished the first block of meetings (which finished late) and we only had a little bit of time to quickly eat some lunch before we had to run to ward council meeting for one ward and ward correlation for the other ward before the next block of meetings started at 1:30. We were some of the last to leave the chapel, and right as we were rushing out to get our lunch I noticed that one of the Elders' investigators was still there. Just the day before we had seen him right after he had finished his baptismal interview (for the 5th time, I think is what he said) and he just had a really sad, confused look on his face. We were worried about him so we asked what was on his mind and he said that he's been meeting with the missionaries and coming to church for a long time and has had several baptismal interviews, but he still wasn't sure if he wanted to get baptized. My heart ached for him as I could see the sadness in his eyes. Just then our investigator walked in the door to meet with us so we didn't get the chance to continue our conversation with him, but as I saw him still in the chapel with most everyone gone I felt the urge to go talk to him and share our testimonies about the Book of Mormon. I made the suggestion to Sister Brownell, who at first was concerned we wouldn't have enough time to eat, but when I insisted, she agreed we should. As we approached him we told him that we'd been pondering about his concern, which really touched him. We then asked how his Book of Mormon reading has been going lately, and he said, "I haven't been reading it very much." I was filled with the Spirit as I pulled out my own copy of the Book of Mormon and testified that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and that he'd get his answer if he carefully read it. I told him that "If the Book of Mormon is true, then you'll know that this is the true church and that you should get baptized. If it's not, everything we've been teaching is false and our church is no different than any other." I don't know exactly what else we said, but the Spirit was strong and I appreciated Sister Brownell's sweet testimony, too.

I know without a doubt that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored gospel on the earth today. It was restored because of the humble prayer of an honest seeker of truth, the prophet Joseph Smith. I know we have a living prophet today that leads and guides this church and I am so grateful to have the secure knowledge that as I follow the prophets words, I'm following Jesus Christ. Sister Brownell asked me last night how I know the gospel is true, and I responded simply with the words, "Because I live it." As I said those words it was all re-confirmed to me and many experiences throughout my childhood, teenage years and time at college were brought to my memory of how living the gospel has transformed into a living testimony. I know that as anyone faithfully obeys the commandments and lives in accordance with the teachings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, they will, in the Lord's time, be blessed with a living testimony, too.

I love the gospel. I love the Lord. I love being in his service as a missionary. I love each of you so much and think of you often. Thank you so much for your faithful examples and testimonies. They have been such a strength to me. I know of no better way to find happiness, success and fulfillment in life than by living the gospel in its fullness. Please continue in faith and righteousness, and be willing to make changes and sacrifices to be even more obedient. I promise that you will find more peace and lasting happiness as you do so. I promise.

All my love,
Sister Morey <3

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dove Chocolate... and Green Bean Soup!

This week has been absolutely FULL of excitement!! We got to go on Sister Exchanges again, which is always one of my most favorite part of the transfer because I love seeing all the sisters together and learning from and working with them. This time I got to go with Sister Lew, which was so awesome because we were in the same Mandarin class together when she got called to Taiwan, and I remember thinking that I wanted to go there so bad! Little did either of us know, we'd be called to the same mission, and have an opportunity to be companions! Even if it was just for a day, haha :)

We had a wonderful time catching up, sharing miracle stories (I shared the one about my dear Anne), eating fried rice (one of my absolute favorites) and drinking fresh fruit juice (I got guava-pineapple! The fruit here is just GLORIOUS!!). I loved picking her brain about mission life since she's on her last move-call now, and I was able to meet with some of their wonderful investigators and see Sister Lew's incredible example of teaching, loving, and helping others come unto Christ. She is such a wonderful representative of the Savior and I'm grateful I had the day to serve with her.

Wednesday was my 1/2 birthday on the island! AHHH! How does that happen?! Sister Brownell (and Sister Smith, since she was on exchanges with her from Tues-Wed morning) surprised me with some cute sticky notes on my wall and some dove chocolate with a few pampering face masks :) We're going to have fun one preparation day! Sister Brownell and I also enjoyed a special birthday dinner of one of our favorite treats, green bean soup. Haha I KNOW that doesn't sound very appetizing, especially as a dessert! I think it's funny too, but believe me, its better than it sounds. It's not the normal green beans you think of; they're little, kind of like lentil beans, but they're very delicious and sweet. Sister Brownell and I love it!

One of our investigators, Zhuang jiemei, is progressing very nicely. We LOVE to go visit her because it seems like every time she just has more and more faith. She's been reading the Book of Mormon faithfully and praying every day. Her prayers get more and more sincere, and she keeps understanding gospel principles better and better. She's so cute (even though she's in her 50s), and she seems to get a kick out of converting to Christianity. She told us this week her family invited her to go "bai bai" (the traditional way to worship as a Buddhist) and she kindly refused saying, "wo yao bai Jidu!" (I want to worship Christ!) Sister Brownell and I got a laugh out of that one. Zhuang jiemei even shared with us that she's lost the desire to drink tea, even though we haven't officially taught her the Word of Wisdom yet! She is just so wonderful, and I've loved watching the change in her since day one. We're hoping she'll be able to get baptized in July, which would be so special to be able to see her progress from start to finish! Well, of course baptism is not the finish, but still, it's rare to see an investigator go from start to baptism because we're always at such high risk of moving, especially me! I've had a different companion every move-call and have been in 3 areas already, but luckily sister Brownell and I have been saved for another move-call. I'll most likely kill her (be her last companion) as she only has a move-call and a half left. I sure hope I get to kill her, haha :) I love her!

Anyway, some more highlights of the week were:

  • Having a very successful ward missionary activity. Elder Huang and Elder Sasine (our district leader and his companion) worked closely with our ward correlator to organize this fireside to help members catch the fire of missionary work, and especially of the Book of Mormon. We had 10 missionaries at the activity (almost all the missionaries in our zone) and we sang a song in Taiyu (Taiwaneese) called "Yaso eh ai" (The Love of Christ). The activity was very inspiring, and many members wrote their testimonies to place in copies of the Book of Mormon to give to friends, family, or our investigators. It was a wonderful evening.
  • We had a few miracle lessons this week. One was when we just so happened to be at the church and a cute 20-year-old girl walked in the chapel. We totally thought she was the other sisters' investigator, but when the other sisters looked at us with confused faces and mouthed, "Is she yours?" we were really excited for the opportunity to teach her. Her name is Marine, and she is one of the most golden people I've ever met. She's already seen the Lord's hand in her life in significant ways (saving her life several times) and she has such high moral standards already. We're excited to keep teaching her.
  • Some funnies/highlights of the week: completely shocking a man when he heard us speaking Chinese; saving a bat that was almost dead and laughing at the comparison to the good Samaritan story because we found out later that the Elders passed him by; getting to make guo tie at a street vendor for dinner one day and having her end up coming to church thisSunday! and spending the weekend as a threesome with Sister Smith (the sister who knows the Mickelsons/Chiles, etc because she was an exchange student in Taiwan). Sister Smith is now on the train to TaiZhong to be companions with Sister DeVictoria! Oh, being a missionary is so much fun :)

Anyway, I've gotta go! I enjoyed writing an extra long letter... I LOVE you all SOOO much!

All my love,

Sister Morey

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ferris Wheels... Skirts... and Smiles!

Another week has passed, and another group of miracles has taken place! Oh, I love being a missionary! Even with it's ups and (sometimes really low) downs, the tender mercies of the Lord always seem to shine through and bring hope to keep going.

The highlight of this week was the baptism of our dear friend Liu Jia Ci! She is one of the sweetest, and most hilarious people EVER, and both Sister Brownell and I love her to pieces! And the rest of the ward does too! She's been so blessed to have formed really strong friendships with the ward members, which played a big role in her conversion. The biggest hoop she had to jump was paying tithing because she gives 80% of her income to her family, but after lots of faith building and promising a lot of blessings, she finally committed. Out of all the investigators I've had the blessing to help get baptized, she's by far one of the most prepared. Her baptismal service was so special because of that.

She was so funny when we told her the night before that she had to wear a skirt to the baptismal service and she refused to do so (she's never worn one before!) but with a lot of loving persuasion and encouragement from us and the members, she wore one that Sister Brownell brought and gave her to wear every Sunday from here on out :) She was so nervous before her baptism, but she calmed a little as we prayed with her right before she went into the font, and when she came out she was absolutely beaming! When we asked her how she felt she said, "I want to laugh!" So we told her go ahead :) She was just so happy the rest of the night, and it was incredible to see how many members were there to support her because they love her so much! YAAAAAY!!!

Sorry I don't have time to write much else because I took some extra time to write to others this week, but it's been good! We also got to take a preparation day adventure to ride a ferris-wheel with one of my most favorite people in all of Taiwan: Xiu. She lives in my first area but travels all the time to be with the missionaries whenever she has a day off. I love her to pieces!

Anway, I love being a missionary, I love the gospel, and I love each of you. Thank you all for loving and supporting me so much. I've felt it strengthen me a lot.

All my love,
Sister Morey :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Awesome Week as a Missionary!

Today was sooo crazy cuz we went on a fun island adventure with the district and some other members, and we got back super late so we don't get much time to email :( But it was SOOOO much fun! We went on a bike ride around the entire island stopping at a few sites (a cave, the beach, and the coral seashore) and really enjoyed the gorgeous scenery! Sister Brownell and I were also so excited to see mangoes there that we got mango slushees (and friend rice) for lunch and mango bings for dinner! Yummmmm :) The machine they used to make the bings was almost exactlythe same one that we had, so it was fun to remember all the fun times we had as a family and with friends eating bings :) I loved the adventure today!

This week was SO awesome. We had a lot of miracles happen and things just keep getting better and better. The first miracle of the week was on Tuesday night after we had a lesson at the church. As we left the building right after the Elders we made sure to turn off the lights inside and lock the door, but when we started riding away the Elders reminded us (from outside the gate cuz they had already left) that we needed to turn off the lights in the parking lot. So we turned back, turned off the lights, and decided to make a final round to see if there were any other lights that needed to be turned off. As we passed the front door of the chapel we heard the phone ringing inside, so we quickly parked our bikes, found the keys, unlocked the door and ran inside to answer it. When I heard the voice on the other side say with excitement "Moraaaaay!!!" I was shocked beyond belief! I instantly recognized her as Anne, the one that I had contacted about 2 months ago in my last area who was completely golden but unexpectedly disappeared the day after her baptismal interview--the day before I left the area. She was calling to tell me that she got baptized!! Sister Ko had told me that soon after I left she went with her trainee to go find her, and Anne said that she was so touched by that, that she decided to get baptized! Oh my goodness, it was one of the happiest moments of my mission, and to think that I would've missed it if we hadn't have turned back to switch off the lights. That was such an incredible tender mercy.

Another miracle was that since Sister Brownell and I are both really new to the area (I'm only 2 1/2 weeks ahead of her here) we've been spending a lot of time getting to know our way around (including getting lost lots...), but one day as we were trying to find a recent convert's house we saw a woman sitting on the side of the road and she kinda looked like there was nothing for her to do. She had her head in her hands and I felt like we should stop and talk to her. We found out that she didn't have any work, and didn't really know what to do with herself. We parked our bikes and sat on the side of the raod with her. As we got talking, we found out she believed in "yi guang dao" which means she believed in all 5 of the major religions mixed together. She seemed really set in her beliefs and said Jesus Christ was just the same as the other great leaders of the other religions, until I felt impressed to get out the book of Mormon from the back of my bike and read about Jesus Christ in Alma 7. She went quiet, and we taught her a little more, after which she said, "Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me why there are so many religions. Shouldn't there be just one?" Sister Brownell took the opportunity to testify of Joseph Smith, and after I added my testimony to hers, Yang jiemei asked, "Where is your church?" Sister Brownell and I were super excited, and she said she would read the Book of Mormon and come to church on Sunday. It was one of the most incredible teaching moments I've had on my mission, and I was so grateful I listened to the quiet thought to talk to the lady on the side of the road. What makes it even cooler was that her last name (Yang) was the same as the recent convert we were trying to find. ;)

Some other miracles of the week that I don't have time to tell in detail are:

  • Our investigator Liu JiaCi siad she was willing to pay her tithing and passed her baptismal interview. She'll be getting baptized this Saturday!
  • Another investigator, Zhuang jiemei, said that she wanted to work towards baptism after attending a baptismal service for one of the Elders' investigators. She wasn't quite sure before, especially because she works on Sunday, but she's willing to start finding a way to come to church :)
Ahhhh! I just LOVE being a missionary! And especially with Sister Brownell. I love her so much, and we get along so well. We have a lot to relate with each other, which has been such a blessing, and I feel like I can turn to her for anything. I'm so grateful that I get this opportunity to work with her, and that the Lord is helping us find and help those who are willing to follow the Lord. I know the gospel is true with all my heart!

All my love,
Sister Morey

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ooopsies.... We Slept In... Until 4:30am!!!

OK, so the big news on this side of the world is... after Sister DeVictoria and I returned home on Wednesday night we got a call from President Bishop assigning Sister DeVictoria to make an emergency transfer to TaiZhong because one of the Sisters there has to have surgery to remove a tumor from her brain. It's Sister Zheng--I've gotten to serve with her twice, once on sister exchanges and once when I was in limbo waiting to come to GaoXiong (that's who I was serving with when I called home for Mothers' Day). She's so sweet, and has so much faith. She was battling brain cancer before she came to serve, but after lots of miracles she was able to overcome it, and now we're praying that she can overcome it again.

So, we spent Wednesday night packing, and Sister DeVictoria was on the train the next morning, and Sister Brownell took her place serving here with me. She is such a wonderful missionary and I loved her from the very get go. I'd met her several times at the mission office during sister exchange days and always thought it would be fun to serve with her, and little did I know I'd get the opportunity, and under really unexpected circumstances at that! This whole move has been so crazy, and I'm sad Sister DeVictoria and I didn't have much time together, but I'm LOVING serving with Sister Brownell. The thing is, since I've only been here for 3 weeks and she's completely new to the area (she hasn't been down to GaoXiong her whole mission, and this is her 9th move-call) it's pretty much like a white-wash. We're having a lot of fun getting to know the area and the people together though, and we're already seeing miracles happen!

Sister Brownell and I have already been through so much together and it's only been 4 days! On Friday morning we were supposed to get up at 2:45am to take the bus at 4:30 with the rest of the southern zones to the mission meeting with Elder Jensen (President of the Seventy) and Elder Watson. I was struck with absolute horror when I woke up to my clock reading 4:30, only a few seconds before the Zone Leaders called us asking where we were! AHHHH!! I was so sad and so scared that we wouldn't be able to make it to the meeting in time, but luckily, through lots of phone calls, patience and prayers we were able to find a way to get to the mission meeting just a few minutes after everyone else by taking the High Speed Rail. It was super cool and it was a fun experience, but I'd rather not have had to taken it under those kinds of circumstances!!! We made it right in time to take the mission picture and go in for the meeting. We got to shake the visiting General Authorities hands, and I was especially excited to see the Watsons. They were super surprised to see me, and Sister Watson caught herself quickly when she first called me by my first name, haha :) That was a sweet exchange.

And, my time is up again... man, I just have so much to say about this week! I wish I could tell you more about what I learned in the mission meeting with the Jensons and Watsons, and then at the nationwide fireside with Elder Bednar on Saturday. It was another Question and Answer session like we were able to participate in in Hong Kong. Absolutely incredible. But I'll just have to save it for next week and tell you how I've been incorporating the things I learned :)

I LOVE this gospel so much and I'm so grateful that I'm serving a mission. The Lord has blessed me in so many incredible ways, and I've been growing a lot. Most of all, I've been able to see other people grow and change, and it's so awesome to see the power the gospel has in people's lives! It's true! It was all reconfirmed to me several times this week. I know it's true with all my heart.

Waaaay Too Many Blessings to Count!

I've heard the weather has been crazy everywhere this year... just proof that it's getting closer and closer to the Second Coming! I keep hearing of more and more crazy things with nature (like a tornado in New Taibei?! Since when did Taiwan have tornadoes?) and every time I just think, "yep, it's the signs of the times!" I'm just grateful that I have a gospel perspective. It's kinda interesting because there have been several times when I've contacted people on the street and the one question they ask is "what do you believe about the end of the world?" Then I just simply share that I don't know when it'll be, but that we have a living prophet that tells us how to prepare and live in a way that we don't have to fear. That is such a comfort to me. As for the weather over there, I hope it gets warmer and less rainy for you!

We've had a much cooler week with lots of rain, too, and I hear a typhoon might be on the way. It's really "fun" being a missionary in the tropics! I say "fun" because sometimes it really does get unbearably hot and I sweat like I've never sweated before, and the rain really is a "ma fan" (inconvenience) when you're trying to contact people on the street, BUT there are fun times in the rain, too :) The first day it rained, Sister DeVictoria and I had planned to go tracting (without having any idea about the weather) and right when we parked our bikes, it started POURING. Sister DeVictoria and I just looked at each other and started to laugh! Luckily we had rain gear, but the bottom of my skirt and my shoes still got soaked. But you know me, I love playing in the rain, so it was more of an adventure than a disappointment :)

As for our investigators, this week was really stressful because there was a mom and her son who were going to get baptized this weekend (the one that just passed) but the mom ended up having a huge tithing problem and no matter how hard we tried to resolve her concerns she just simply wouldn't believe that God would make everyone pay a set amount of 10%. We were really really sad when she said we wasn't going to get baptized because of it, and even though we wanted to help her still get baptized with her son, after lots of praying we felt it would be best to give her a rest, strengthen her faith more in Christ, and help her set her own baptismal goal. That was the big heartache of the week, but we still love her! It really helped Sister DeVictoria and I to study and ponder more about how to help people build their testimonies in Christ and progress towards baptism.

There's something WAY exciting that's happening this week, and that is we have a meeting for the entire mission this week with some visiting General Authorities, including Elder Watson :) I can't wait! It'll be such a sweet reunion with all my companions and the other missionaries I love so much, as well as a spiritual feast, and a nice visit with our old family friend. Oh, I just love being a missionary, the gospel, and being associated with so many incredible people all over the world!!! I have waaaay too many blessings to count :)