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

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