Monday, July 25, 2011

Popcorn, Tricycles, and More Baptisms!

This week was another really intense and crazy week! I've really missing popcorn lately and I told Sister Brownell that you can pop popcorn in a paper bag and she was astounded that it would work even if it wasn't the commercial kind (as I was when I first found out) :P So, last Monday I decided to buy popcorn and show her, but when I realized that we didn't have any paper bags (I don't even think they have them at grocery stores here) we had to get creative. Finally I found out that a small cereal box works just as well :) Needless to say, we had popcorn a lot this week :) I also made some chocolate cake mix cookies which were a big hit among everyone we shared them with, especially all the missionaries. Even the Relief Society presidency was so impressed they asked me to make more for their activity next month, and they'll provide the funds. YESSSS!! What a happy week!! 
We got dumped on several times this week because there was a typhoon in the area. But it was WAY fun!! Sister Brownell and I LOVE riding in the pouring rain, as long as we don't have to open our bags when contacting people, haha. We really had so much fun. The only thing was that we knew if it kept raining all the way till Sunday it would drastically affect church attendance (Taiwanese people hate going out in the rain) so we prayed the heavy rains would pass before the weekend. We were happy to see the sun was shining brightly on Friday and stayed that way till Sunday. We had 10 investigators at church, which is a record for my entire mission so far! I love it when Heavenly Father answers our prayers like that :)
This week was mostly crazy because we have SOOOO many investigators, it's ridiculous! It keeps us on our toes just to keep track of them all. Heavenly Father has been blessing us so much lately and we've been handed investigators left and right; we hardly have to go out contacting to find more on the street! At one point in the week we had to go on splits because there were just too many lessons for the two of us to handle. Heavenly Father is really opening the windows of heaven and pouring out blessings on us!!
Last week we found out that two young women in the ward are not actually members because of parental fan dui, so we've been working closely with them to exercise faith on their part and ours to help soften the hearts of their parents, especially their dad. Sister Brownell and I have been learning the power of fasting over the last month and so we invited all of the Young Women (who are all their good friends) to join with us in a fast to help them get baptized. We're meeting with their family tonight. I hope with all my heart their parents will be able to feel of the love of the Savior and the blessings the gospel can bring to their family.
The fun thing about yesterday was going to pick up one of our investigators for church. Her name is Dinny. She's 7 years old and she's basically a Chinese version of Becky Christensen. She's soooo funny, wild, sweet, loves to do service, and loves the Book of Mormon. It's crazy how much her mannerisms really remind me of Becky. We went to go visit her on Saturday and since she had a friend over to play we got to have a lesson with her friend too! After we sang the opening song, Dinny taught Tina how to pray by having her repeat the words after her. So precious :) Then Dinny invited her friend to church! Yesterday when we went to pick them up they were both waiting for us in their cute little dresses. Dinny has a pink tricycle with an extra big seat so two people can sit on it. It was the cutest thing to see them both riding to church with us. Sister Brownell and I were laughing the whole time, especially when Dinny said, "Wait for me! This person is really heavy!!" We ended up pushing them most of the way there :P Once we got there, Dinny took Tina straight to the Primary room, and when they found that the teachers hadn't arrived yet Dinny took Tina on a tour of the Chapel. We didn't even have to worry about either of them! It was so cute to watch :)
The happiest part of the entire week was Zhuang jie mei's baptism. We just absolutely adore her! Her testimony is so sweet and pure, and she's here to stay. We talked a lot with her about enduring to the end and we've already set a goal to help her go on the Stake temple trip on August 13th! It was kind of stressful right before the baptism because we found out a lot of things weren't actually prepared when we thought they had been taken care of, and there weren't even the right baptismal clothes... but we searched and searched and finally found some ones that would work. I was a little nervous about how the service would go, but once the meeting started and the speakers started sharing what they prepared, the Spirit filled the room and I felt like it would all be ok. It was a spiritual feast, and Zhuang jie mei was so happy. Elder Palmer, the elder who referred her to us performed the baptism, which made it extra special for all of us. Zhuang jie mei was sooooBrownell and I were delighted to :)

Yesterday when she got confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints she was promised some marvelous blessings and it was touching how the blessing was so personal to her--I don't even know if the brother performing the ordinance had any idea. Afterwards when I asked her how it feels to have the Holy Ghost she said with a big smile on her face, "So happy!" I then told her that now all she has to do is keep listening to that voice and He'll lead her back to Heavenly Father.
I just love being a missionary!! It's very hard at times and it's super intense. It takes all of our effort to stay focused and be able to receive the revelation necessary to help meet the needs of our investigators. But it's all worth it. I've felt angels working beside us, Heavenly Father helping us know how to resolve the concerns of His children, Jesus Christ strengthening us when we were weak, and the Spirit reminding us of important things when there were too many things to keep track of ourselves. Missionary work is amazing and such a blessing. I know this gospel is true with all my heart and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share it each and every day.
I love you all so much!! Keep smiling and living in the "manner of happiness," for truly it is the happiest thing to be living according to the principles of the restored gospel.
All my love,
Sister Morey :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Your Potential, Your Privilege"

We recently found out that one of our the recent converts, here works in a dentist office, so I got my teeth cleaned today. You'll be happy to know the dentist said my teeth were very pretty! It only took about 10 minutes to clean them because they were already so good :) AND, it was only 100NT!! Can you believe it?! That's just over $3 for a teeth cleaning. We had a great time going out to lunch with our recent convert afterwards, too. We're so blessed to be serving here!

We've gotten dumped on a few times here since it's typhoon season, but it hasn't been too bad--we've actually been spared more times than we've been dumped on! It seems like Heavenly Father has been really mindful of us and saves most of the big downpours for late at night or when we're in the chapel teaching.

This past week has been the most incredible week of my whole mission so far! I've never seen more miracles in my life, and I don't know if there's been a time where I've been more receptive to the whisperings of the Spirit. Not only have our investigators been progressing more rapidly, but Sister Brownell and I have been learning more true principles ourselves. It's true, the learning curve shoots straight up when it's done by the Spirit!

I'm not going to have near enough time to tell you all the miracles that have happened, but I'll try and fit in the big ones, and I'm just so grateful that I've been recording my journal entries so I can actually capture most of the details. I also thought that maybe sharing the principles I've been learning would be more beneficial than sharing the actual miracles since each story has so many more parts to it than I can share.

Throughout my mission up to this point I've been wondering what the difference is between those who just go through their mission taking what comes and working with it and those who actually make miracles happen. I've been feeling like I've been more like the first and that there was a lot of untapped power I was missing in my missionary service. I wanted SO bad to be able to be a more powerful missionary, so I started pondering and praying a lot. So many things happened in the mean time to help me start finding answers, but one key was reading President Uchtdorf's talk, "Your Potential, Your Privilege" from the April 2011 Priesthood Session. I substituted "missionary" for all the times it said "Priesthood" and it was crazy how much it applied (liken the scriptures unto yourself!). I felt I was living far below my privileges.

It's amazing just what a little more prayer, a little more faith, and a little more obedience can do. It's transformed this week and has transformed my entire mission.

Two weeks ago I got the privilege of attending a Specialized Training Meeting where we were taught to focus on the Fundamentals of Preach My Gospel. It was an answer to all the prayers I've been offering and really gave me the opportunity to learn how to be the missionary I've always wanted to become. I feel so blessed that Heavenly Father has been slowly teaching me and giving me the tools to actually "grow into a true representative of the Savior," one of the blessings promised me before I left. We were given several invitations throughout the meeting and as Sister Brownell and I have really taken those principles to heart and have applied them in our work, our work has changed completely. I never knew how much difference just a little more obedience to the commitments extended would make. It gets me so much more excited to follow every invitation we're given!

One thing that Sister Brownell has been teaching me is how to receive revelation through prayer. After companionship prayers, Sister Brownell would often say, "I thought of 2 things while you were praying..." and then share with me her thoughts. We started to recognize that those were precious bits of revelation, and I started to pay more attention to my own thoughts during prayers. It's been amazing the things that come, and I've learned that prayer really is a 2-way form of communication. We just have to earnestly listen and pay attention.
On Wednesday night as Sister Brownell and I were discussing our impressions from our companionship prayer she asked me if I would like to join her in a fast for a specific investigator and to ponder about them as we went to Zone Conference the next day. I felt really strongly that we did need to fast and I was happy to join her. It was incredible how much of a difference fasting made. Just the topic of Zone Conference itself was an answer to our prayers: Faith to Move Mountains. I testify I've seen mountains being removed this week, and we're going to keep working in faith till there's a clear cut path that leads to Christ for each of our investigators.

Sister Brownell and I have been reviewing our lesson plans and praying together to have the Spirit's guidance before every lesson, and we've been teaching with so much more purpose and unity (a direct promise from the specialized training). The lessons have been more meaningful to the investigators and the Spirit has been more present than ever before. One of our investigators, who wouldn't pray when she first met with the Elders, said the closing prayer after one of the most Spirit-led lessons. I could see the lights turning on in her eyes.

We also learned to turn the "do it" switch to the "now" position (President Uchdorf's talk). As we've acted on the promptings we've received, regardless of how small they were (like to go buy mangoes from our investigators), they turned out to be doors to even greater miracles.

Ahhhh! I can't even begin to express all the things I've learned and all the feelings I've been having this week, but I've run out of time. I KNOW Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and will guide us specifically in each of our lives if we spend a little more effort listening and acting. By small things are great things brought to pass. That I know.

I love you all SOOOO much! Keep having a wonderful summer, and I hope Trek is the most wonderful part of it all :) I'll be so excited to hear all about your experiences.

All my love,

Sister Morey

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fabulous Week!

Well, this week was a fabulous week, and it all started out with pumpkin, chocolate chip pancakes!! One of the families in our ward spent a few years in the States and picked up a few good recipes while they were there. We went to their house for dinner last Monday night and we had pumpkin pie and mango pie for desert!! Then they sent us home with the leftover pumpkin pancake batter that they had for us to use the next morning, and we sure enjoyed it! Another awesome breakfast was a plate full of 3 of my most favorite tropical fruits: guava, mango, and lychees! Just look at the picture and see if your mouth doesn't water :P

We've been having fun trying to teach the rainbow bird outside our apartment how to say, "Bei Jie Mei," Sister Brownell's name in Chinese. You can only imagine what a joy it is for me to say good morning to that rainbow bird every morning! His name is Bibi, and he loves honey :) He's so cute! And really amusing too :)

There were so many good things that happened this week, and I've been learning a lot and pondering how to make significant changes in the way I serve as the Lord's representative. I recently read President Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood Session about living up to our privileges. As I read the talk I substituted the word "missionary" or "missionary work" every time it said "priesthood" and it was shocking how applicable it was to my work as a missionary. Sister Brownell and I have been "setting goals and making plans" to help our investigators in even more significant ways and to be more in tune with the revelation the Lord wants to give us. After all, He knows each one of the people here personally, and He's the one that can best help us know how to help meet their spiritual needs. We've seen miracles happen already as we've sought to do so. I just love being a missionary!
The best part of the week, well, one of them, was that Zhuang Jiemei had her baptismal interview this week! She's SOOO awesome and has such a solid testimony. We also discovered this week that she makes the BEST fried rice ever!! We're definitely going to her shop more often :) We just love her SOOOO much!!

I'm so excited to share more of the miracle stories that will happen this week as we work even harder to help our investigators get baptized! The Lord has been sending us so many people, and we currently have 9 people that we're really hoping to help get baptized before Sister Brownell leaves in August. It's going to be tough, but we're going to work for it in faith. We just recently found another family of 4 that we're going to meet with this coming Thursday. The Lord is preparing so many people for us, it's incredible. I feel so blessed to be able to have this experience in the service of the Lord. It just keeps getting better and better!
Thanks for your awesome letters, your love and encouragement. It means so much to me.

All my love,
Sister Morey

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy 4th of July!! It's weird... it doesn't even seem like it here, but Sister Brownell and I celebrated this morning by singing "America the Beautiful" for companionship study this morning. I was really touched and remembered what a blessed place America is. We also have a paper chain made out of red, white and blue strips that have scriptures on them for the Christlike Attribute for the month: Knowledge. It's nice to be at least a little festive, even if we don't have much more than that :) It's crazy being a missionary! No time to really celebrate! But it's still fun in many other ways, like...

Yesterday Sister Borwnell and I laughed almost the entire first 3 hours of church because one of our investigators, Zhuang Jiemei, came to church for the first time and got smothered in hugs and even kisses from the members! We just about died of laughter when one of our favorite amahs, Lin Wen, found out that Zhuang Jie Mei was her neighbor and she got way excited and pulled her into a huge teddy-bear hug and then kissed her on both cheeks while just squealing in delight and saying, in Chinese, "We're good neighbors!!" and then asking us how to say that in English! When she found out that Zhuang Jiemei owned a restaurant she got excited all over again and said, "I've been looking for a place to eat close by my house!" She then linked arms with her and led her straight to gospel principles class and continued to jabber with her. Hahaha :) It was super sweet to see her make instantaneous friends like that!

What was even better was after Sacrament Meeting, one of the recent converts asked us how to pay her tithing because it was her first time, and somehow Wang Jiemei (who has been a member for many years and her whole family is LDS) got asked too, so our recent convert, Zhuang Jiemei, Wang Jiemei and us two all went downstairs to where all the tithing slips were and had a mini-lesson on how to donate Tithes and Fast Offerings. It was perfect because even though we had taught Zhuang Jiemei tithing before, we hadn't taught how to do it yet and we had the perfect member to help us teach them. Zhuang Jiemei was so touched by all the different contributions (fast offerings, missionary fund, humanitarian aid, etc) that she pulled out a wad of money from her purse and said, "I don't even know how much this is, but I want to give it." I was shocked, and so touched by her faith. I explained that she didn't need to pay tithing till after she was baptized, but she still wanted to donate to fast offerings and the missionary fund. It was so sweet as we accompanied her to give her envelope to a member of the bishopric. Zhuang Jiemei is amazing. Her faith is getting stronger and stronger every time we see her.

This week I also learned a lot of great lessons on relieving others' burdens. I've started a journal entitled, "A Little More Like Thee" where I pick a theme from the scriptures, conference talks, or other sources of revelation and work on it for the week. I originally had selected the topic of having a gratitude attitude, based on President Monson's talk, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude" from Oct 2010 conference, but as the week passed, I felt there was something else the Lord wanted me to learn.

As Sister Brownell and I worked throughout the week, we had many opportunities to give genuine service. There's an Elder in our district who has been struggling with some tough challenges lately and we wanted so badly to help him out. We decided to leave little gifts in his (and his companion's) helmet just to cheer him up and show a little more support. We had been given some lychees (which are some of the most delicious fruits EVER) and we were extremely excited to eat them, but we didn't have anything else that we could give to the Elders, so we decided to leave those in their helmets. It was hard to give them up, but my heart was SO happy afterwards as I knew it would cheer his day to find those. A few days later we left the most beautiful, ripe, delicious-smelling mangoes in all of the missionaries' helmets (including our own) because we didn't want them to suspect it was us. They totally got fooled into thinking it was the members, and Sister Brownell and I were trying so hard not to laugh when we heard some Elders talking about it later and saying "we have no idea who left those mangoes in our helmets!" My heart was smiling so big!

That was just the beginning, and the Lord provided more meaningful ways to truly relieve people's burdens throughout the next few days. We went to go visit a new member who is struggling with a lot of issues (including recovering from a broken femur) and it was a miracle we even got up to where her apartment was because she wouldn't answer her phone. She welcomed us in but was really down and said she had to take a shower, so we said, "no problem! We'll just sing hymns to you while you're showering!" It was so sweet as we were able to sing some of our favorite hymns and a spirit of peace and calm filled the room. She came out feeling really refreshed and started to open up to us. As we continued talking we were able to help resolve some of her concerns and she told us, "I don't know why I didn't talk to you earlier!"

Throughout meeting with her the thought came to my mind, "To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike." It's from President Monson's talk, "Charity Never Faileth" from the Relief Society Broadcast last October. As that line came to my head, I knew that was the theme the Lord wanted me to learn for the week. I started to watch more carefully for more opportunities to truly relieve peoples' burdens, and I had many more sweet experiences. The next day we visited another recent convert's family and the Spirit guided the lesson and inspired us to help her husband quit smoking so they could reach their goal to be sealed in the temple as a family. A few days later I was able to help comfort and encourage my companion as she was dealing with some challenges. It was precious to me to hear her say afterwards, "Thank you, I feel a big burden has been relieved."

It is such a joy to be a servant of the Lord and to receive His guidance in how to truly help His children. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father gently guided my mind and experiences so I could learn to be a little more like the Savior in relieving the burdens of others. I love the Lord. I love serving. I love the gospel and I know it's true. It brings the greatest joy when we truly seek to follow the Savior's example. May we all learn to be "A little more like Thee" as we find ways to relieve the burdens of others.

I love you all so much :)

Love, Sister Morey