Monday, October 31, 2011
It's so weird to think that I was in the MTC at this time, a year ago! I remember getting several pumpkin pies and cupcakes in the mail and sharing them among the Sisters in our zone. But my most favorite memory of Halloween last year was getting a box full of all of Jordan's Halloween candy! It wasn't the candy so much that made it special rather than the thought and love that was put into it--Jordan sending his precious candy that I'm sure he'd been carefully collecting. :) Thanks Jordan, I'll always remember that.
I also really appreciated your Halloween card with the little extra funds to "treat" ourselves. Two preparation days ago Sister Gibson and I enjoyed a very needed and very appreciated massage. :D The best part is that it only used 1/2 of the money, so we can go back once more! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Oh yeah, and Sister Gibson and I went shopping at a special store this week and guess what we found?? CANNED PUMPKIN!! So, please can you send me the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe? We bought some and we're wanting to make some for the missionaries here as a fall treat :D
We got to celebrate Halloween here by dressing up as missionaries and attending a Zone Conference with Elder Gong of the Seventy and his wife, who are here on a tour of the mission. (Hence why I'm writing a day late... sorry they didn't tell us till late last week that preparation day would be changed to Tuesday!) It was a wonderful day of training with the theme of being "quick to observe" (Mormon1:2). (By the way, he interpreted "sober" in that verse to mean focused on things that matter--of spiritual importance. I though that was very insightful as I had never understood exactly what it meant by that. He said that we need to useevery sense we have to find out what people's concerns are, not only our ears. He also emphasized that only with spiritual senses can you grasp the entire picture. I'm trying harder and harder to use other senses to grasp the full measure of the needs of our investigators, other missionaries, and all we teach or talk to. I know Heavenly Father has been helping me to develop that gift. I'm sure it will be a precious gift as a parent!
The weather has been really pleasant lately, and I don't want it to get cold! Luckily, we've still got a little more than a month left of this really good weather. However, the thing I've noticed is that the church really is the same everywhere... including the freeeezing air conditioning! Hahaha... mom, I think of you every time I get cold in Sacrament Meeting :P Maybe I'll finally have to wear my long-sleeve blazers again.
The work here is going really well. Of course, not without the bumps along the way, but we've been blessed with 4 wonderful progressing investigators. Interestingly enough, they are all member referrals--just goes to show how important the members are! We've been working hard to try and help the members here more fully participate in missionary work. This last Sunday we had a 5th Sunday meeting in one of our wards in which the Bishop outlined the ward plan, the Elders taught about members helping us in our lessons, we Sisters taught about inviting friends and family to investigate the church, the RS shared about how to help less actives, the Elders Quorum President shared about members and missionaries working together, and the sister who gave us one of our progressing investigators shared her testimony on doing missionary work. It was a wonderful meeting, full of the Spirit. The theme was Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-4, the Spirit of Revelation. Often the Lord works through the thoughts in our minds and the feelings in our hearts to tell us who He needs us to help. Those are impressions of the Spirit that when acted upon draw people closer to Christ and help them receive the Restored Gospel. I'm sure you have, as I have several times throughout my life, had someone in mind that you've wanted to share the gospel with, or someone that you feel like you should reach out to. "This (the Spirit of Revelation) is thy gift... apply unto it." We invited everyone to write down any names they thought of (especially during the meeting) and to go home and pray about them, then to extend an invitation to them throughout this next week. We've been preparing carefully for this meeting and have high hopes that it will bring a lot of success in this area. We feel so blessed to have a ward that is so willing to work with us in this kind of a way!
I just love being a missionary. Even though it's hard, I feel secure in that the Lord is blessing and guiding my life and is blessing you all back home. As I've been a little more worried I've prayed more fervently, but one night I got a clear impression that this was the best place I could be, because if I just focused harder on the work, the Lord would take care of everything else back home. I know Dad also gave me that counsel before I left, and I'm so grateful that my whole life I've been taught to trust in those promises. I know that I have no need to fear when I'm in the Lord's service. I love each of you dearly :) Keep "enjoying" to the end!!
All my love,
Sister Morey :)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
My dearest family :)
The funny title comes from my dear companion who tried to wish our District Leader a happy birthday this morning, but got it a little bit mixed up. :) We both got a good laugh from that!
Today I've spent most of my time typing up this poem written by one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Gluch. He read it aloud in District Training Meeting this past Tuesday and it really touched my heart. I know everyone can relate in one way or another, and I hope it can touch you too:
I'll tell you of a sorry tale,
A tale that's mine to tell.
This tale I tell is about the time
My soul was saved from hell.
This tale's beginning has a start
At about age twenty-one,
When life was all a game to me,
My focus merely fun.
I do not mean to say to you
That fun is Satan's game;
But used with caution it must be,
"Cause fun is not always so tame.
What started out as innocent play
Quickly slipped a page.
What started as fabulous fantiful free
Quickly became a cage.
My innocent fun had shifted some,
Not so innocent it became.
I started down a slippery slope;
I couldn't see my aim.
It didn't seem that much to me;
It didn't weigh on my mind,
But it was then about this time
I found myself to be blind.
It's funny how the story goes.
It's interesting to envision,
The pointed purpose plainfully displayed
Points to poor decisions.
Not long after all this "fun,"
With boredom it seemed to mix.
I had to think of something more
To satiate my fix.
My family, friends and loved ones, oh,
They tried to turn me 'round.
But no, I couldn't hear them,
For my destination I was bound.
The leaders, members, prophets, all
Had warned me of my actions,
But being blind, I couldn't see
Their side of satisfaction.
Almost all had given up,
For I just wouldn't hear.
The still small voice, it's sad to say,
No longer ringing in my ear.
The chains had slowly bound me tight,
The devil seemed to have won,
But his venemous laugh I must have missed
For deaf I had become.
We'll take a pause for just a sec
And look at plain hard truth.
You think it's bad now? Just you wait.
The story isn't through.
My life, at least what it once was,
Had degraded some.
The pressure builds for a gospel life,
The weight, it weighed a ton.
I soon began to see effects
Of being deaf and blind,
But on this path I barreled down,
These consequences mine.
My destination seemed so fixed,
I couldn't change my path,
So onward charge until the end,
There ain't no lookin' back.
"Now all is lost," that's what I said,
"Impossible to try.
I might as well enjoy my stay
Instead of asking, 'why?'"
For God, He cannot change the past
No more than I can drink the sea.
Besides, He's got so many friends,
Why would He want me?
It's then that I refused to say
That God's hand was in all things.
'Cause in my life, or so I thought,
The miracles had ceased.
To confess, I needed Father's help.
That courage I could not sum.
Becauase of this, my blind, deafened state,
My mouth, as it seemed, became dumb.
You might be thinking, "Oh, so sad,"
But don't pitty poor, old me.
I took these things upon myself
Just wait, you look and see.
It seemed as though my life had been
Cut off from blessings given.
To me, I thought they'd already shut,
The wondows up in heaven.
Then coldness enveloped my heart,
The bitterness so deep.
How could He have abondoned me?
These thoughts did slowly creep.
For I refused to realize
It wasn't Him, but me!
That's what happens when you rely
On selfishness, deceit.
In my pathetic, crippled state
I stopped along the path.
There was no more progression,
My only focus, aftermath.
My legs would not continue on,
My life a shambled mess.
I chose to let myself go lame,
Impossible to progress.
I'm hoping now that you can see
The sorry state I'm in.
I hope you learn from my mistakes
This path, do not begin.
A sickly, sorry, despicable sight,
Hardly anything left,
The once impressive sight I was
Had come nigh unto death.
Empty, cold, a barren plot,
I'd left myself to die.
When in the corner on my room,
A book caught my eye.
I hadn't touched that little book
In who knows how long.
I picked it up, a feeling came,
Surprisingly so strong.
It had been a while since I had felt
That feeling stir in me.
I opened to a raondom page
And then began to read.
Have ye any that are sick?
Bring them hither, here.
Have ye any lame or blind,
or dumb, or deaf of ear?
Bring them hither, them I will heal.
For I percieve your need.
For you I have compassion;
Your faith is sufficient for me.
The multitude with one accord
Did go forth to the Son,
And them that were afflicted so
He did heal them, every one (3 Ne 17:7-9).
The tears, they refused to stop,
Flowing freely down.
It had to be a miracle,
This scripture I had found.
It applied to me so well,
This couldn't just be luck.
Proof of a loving Father above
Through my old, abandoned book.
I dove right in, the fire burned,
It came from deep inside.
My mouth, my eyes, my deafened ears,
They opened one more time.
I couldn't hear, see, walk or speak,
Spiritually speaking so,
But through my Savior's loving grace
I once more began to grow.
So if you think you'd like to try
To walk the path of sin,
Just remember the moral of my sorry tale:
True happiness comes from Him.
I know Jesus Christ is our Savior, every one of us. If we're just willing to turn to Him, especially through prayer and the words of the Book of Mormon, we can feel His healing power. The Atonement is real; I know because I've experienced it repeatedly throughout my life. Elder Gluch has felt it too, as well has generations of God's children as recorded through prophet's writings. It starts with simple faith and willingness to change. Humility is the key. It's not worth anything to live a life without the full blessings of the Atonement that come by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that will all my heart.
I love you all and pray for you often. Thank you for your prayers too.
All my love,
Monday, October 17, 2011
Thanks so much for being patient with me about last week. I'm so sorry I didn't get the chance to write a really good letter! But I'm going to make up for it this week and write a really good one :) There's so many happy and exciting things that have happened, as well as some heart breaks. That's how life goes (especially as a missionary), but that's why I'm so grateful for the gospel to put everything into an eternal perspective. And the joyful moments sure do outweigh the heartbreaks!
Last Monday we attended a wonderful stake exercise activity with our two wards. It was SOOO fun and we were able to make stronger relationships with the ward members and have extra opportunities to talk to them about missionary work. The funny part was that I didn't realize I should've brought shorts to run in the races (because President Bishop has asked us to wear proselyting clothes whenever at all possible), but two of the Sisters in the Yuan Shan ward were willing to switch their pants for our skirts, haha. I won't ever forget that! (You can see in one of the pictures that Ti mama, to my right, is wearing my skirt, hehe). I was delighted to be able to run in the relays for both wards simultaneously (at different parts of the race for each ward) and had a little scare when I realized that I had to sprint to the opposite side of the field in order to get to the part of the track I needed to be at to pick up the second baton! But I got there just in time and ran my heart out for that ward, even though I didn't get a rest in between. :) What a wonderful preparation day!
One of the most joyful moments was my dear Zhou jiemei getting baptized! I discovered her in our former investigator records and for some reason hers had a picture of her attached. Most of the record was in Chinese so I couldn't read all of it, but for some reason I was really drawn to her record. I called her up and as soon as I started talking to her I instantaneously fell in love with her, and I could hardly wait to meet her the next week when she would come to church. Now, about 2 months later, my love has only grown as I've seen her develop her faith and make courageous choices to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She threw away all her coffee and tea, read the Book of Mormon the entire week she was sick, has become enthralled with family history work and even made us lunch for in between conference sessions :) I LOVE HER!!! Her baptism was absolutely beautiful with people that were special to her there. Since then she's just been bouncy and smiley and even more faithful than ever before. Oh, how I love my recent converts :)
The other highlight was one that is old news for you all, haha. General Conference was AMAZING!!!! So many of my heart's questions were addressed and really gave me encouragement. You know me... sometimes my perfectionistic tendencies get a little in the way, but the talks from the servants of the Lord helped me know that I was doing a great work. I especially appreciated all the encouragement given to both current and returned missionaries and how they are treasures of the church. So many of the talks spoke to my heart and gave me great tools to refine my skills as a missionary, and as a parent and teacher for the rest of my life. I loved Elder Richardson's talk on teaching after the manner of the Spirit. That has made a huge impact on the way we teach here and on the kind of person I'm striving to become. What a wonderful feast and outpouring of love from our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Last Monday was Double 10 day, Taiwan's independence day, which also marked the day I gave my farewell talk... and this past Thursday marked one year since entering the MTC, as you already knew :) It's so CRAZY to think of all that's happened since then, and how much I've learned and grown! I know mom asked what I did to celebrate the monumental day and I feel kind of silly to admit that we didn't really do anything, haha. It was a really busy day of missionary work!! But there was one special part of the day. Sister Gibson and I went to a special meeting for the trainers and trainees, at which Sister Flemming and her trainee were there, too! (Dad--no, I'm not still with Sister Smith. After 2 1/2 weeks of being together she got transferred when I got the call to train Sister Gibson. Crazy, I know!) When the meeting ended Sister Flemming and I marveled at the fact that exactly a year ago that day we were just meeting each other for the first time--our first day in the MTC. With not much more than a hug and a "happy anniversary" we then went back to work! It's great being a missionary, expecially with some of the dearest friends I've ever had :)
I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve. I'm sad I can't be there to help out more at home through all the tough times, but I'm praying more fervently for each of you and I'm trusting that the Lord will bless you in my absence (He'll have a more powerful effect than I ever could). I love you all dearly and I KNOW that enduring is hard, but brings incredible blessings "if you endure it well." I know the gospel is true and that Heavenly Father lives and loves us. Just re-read Elder Uchtdorf's conference talk if you need a reminder :)
All my love from across the world,
Monday, October 3, 2011
This week was great, especially since we got all fired up from Zone Conference, and then us sisters with the Women's Conference. They had an English session prepared for any foreigners, but because one of our investigators showed up that we absolutely needed to sit by, my sweet trainee made the sacrifice to listen to the Chinese session. I was surprised that I understood 90% of it! And General Conference is supposed to be "gao ji" (advanced) Chinese. :) I was pretty happy about that! I helped Sister Gibson out by giving her clues about the topics and she tried to see how much she could catch from that. It was a wonderful meeting, and President Uchtdorf's talk was exactly what I needed. Every time he talks I feel like Heavenly Father is talking to me, reminding of how much He loves me and no matter how hard it gets that I'm not forgotten. He does such a good job at speaking to Sisters' hearts, providing encouragement and hope. What a comfort, and a blessing, to be able to hear what Christ would say if He were in our midst.
I'm SUPER excited for Conference (no fair you already got to hear all of it!)!! And not only because we get to hear (and then put into action) amazing counsel, but because one of my most favorite people in Taiwan is getting baptized!!!! It was such a miracle. Huang jie mei had an original goal to be baptized on October 15th, but because she's been progressing so quickly, she's getting baptized a week earlier instead, which also just so happens to be my companion's birthday!! It's going to be such a wonderful weekend!!! It was really funny because we invited Huang jie mei to the Women's Conference, and then to the baptism that night because we were singing at it, and as she was talking to one of the other Elders at the baptism she said, "I'm getting baptized next week." I think she got a little confused because it was actually supposed to be the week after, but we told our District Leader after the baptism that she had made that comment and he said, "I can do her baptismal interview right now if you want to." Our eyes got HUGE and immediately ran after Huang jie mei who had already gotten to the parking lot to propose the idea to her. After explaining the situation to her she surprisingly said, "OK," and walked back into the chapel with us!! Sister Gibson and I were absolutely ecstatic the rest of the night :) Huang jie mei is such a sweet, humble woman, and I feel so blessed to be her "fu yin jie mei."
This week in Zone Conference we read a scripture that was particularly meaningful to me, and from the emails I read it sounds like you guys could use it too. It was in Ephesians, but since I didn't bring my notes with me, I can't remember the reference, but I'm pretty sure it's in the last chapter. One of the lines says, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." President Bishop, when we discussed this scripture, summarized it to say, "Life 'aint fair--deal with it!" But when he asked for our insights as missionaries he made the comment that my insight was far more wise than his. I shared that the Lord doesn't necessarily test you on your strengths. Of course He'll provide you opportunities to use them, but He also knows the weaknesses we need to develop into strengths, thus the battle is not for the strong, but it's to make those who are weak stronger.
I reflected on my mission as we read the scripture and saw how that was true. I thought I would be able to come here and have rocket success because of the years of preparation I've put into it and the experiences the Lord has given me to prepare for this time in my life. And although those experiences and that preparation has blessed me greatly (and perhaps given me the strength needed to overcome the hard times) the Lord didn't send me here to run the race in that way. Instead He tested me in ways that I never thought I'd be tested and my weaknesses became very apparent. My theme scripture became Ether 12:27. But because of it all, I've been able to overcome those severely difficult challenges, and I can run the race of life faster now, because of the Lord training the weaker parts of me. I KNOW that life isn't fair, that sometimes it looks like we're failing during times of our lives where we thought we'd be cruising. But that's all the purpose of life, is to grow and be tested, to be trained for Eternal Life. I KNOW that the Atonement is real, and it's the only way that we can get through this life without getting scarred from the battle. The Atonement has healed me, and I know it can heal anyone who is willing to humble themselves and turn to Him with a repentant heart.
I love the Gospel. I love Taiwan. I love the people here, and I love being able to serve them as the Lord's representative. I know that the gospel is true with all my heart!! I'm so grateful that we have living prophets to teach us the truth and that we get to hear them this special weekend! I'm so excited to apply their counsel because I know that's what brings the most happiness in life.
I love you all so much. Thank you for your love, letters, and Halloween cards! :)
<3 Sister Morey