Monday, November 28, 2011

The Joys Overshadow the Heartbreaks‏

I'm grateful for YOU!!!
This week was really crazy, and we almost forgot that is was Thanksgiving, except that we had purchased some canned pumpkin a few weeks ago to make pumkin cookies. I'd really been looking forward to that, and every time I opened the cupboard I was reminded that "shi jian kuai dao le!" to make the cookies! I started making the batter Wednesday night and Thursday morning we cooked them in our toaster oven (I'm getting to be an expert at that!) so we could give them out to everyone we met with that day :). They were a big hit, especially among the Elders! They were shocked that it was even possible for us to have made them, haha!
We also celebrated the day by eating turkey rice (little bits of turkey over a bowl of rice---really yummy!), pumpkin (which is a fairly normal dish here) and apple pies and vanilla ice cream from McDonalds, Sister Gibson's brilliant idea :P They were pretty good, except for we had a lesson before we could eat them so by the time we were done, the ice cream was melted so we dunked our apple pies in the vanilla ice cream instead :) I was just laughing the whole time picturing your reactions to us having McDonalds apple pies for Thanksgiving dinner, and here I am laughing again. If anything, it was worth the memory!
Other than that, Thanksgiving day was pretty much a normal missionary day, but to give you some hope that we still got some sort of celebration, one of the wards threw a Thanksgiving party Sunday night. It was a great success with lots of non-member family and friends. Of course, most of the food was chinese, but there WERE apple and pumpkin pies, as well as 3 big turkeys that had been roasted in a bonfire on the empty "temple" lot across from the chapel. (I put temple in quotations because everyone believes that there will be a temple built there in the future--there just hasn't been any official statements yet. The church owns the property and everything, plus the chapel is a stake center with huge windows facing the empty lot. Just sayin'...) Anyway, it's funny to think how they roasted the turkeys. Needless to say, it was pretty good! We ate a lot of delicious food and got some great referrals from it, too :)
As far as the work went this week, it was harder than normal. We're not exactly sure why, but it just seemed like a lot of things went wrong. One of our most precious and solid investigators said she had to take a break from meeting and coming to church because her family said they'd disown her if she refused to worship the Chinese gods with them. It's so interesting to me that idol worship really is such a huge issue. In western culture that isn't even a problem, and in my mind I always thought it was just something the ancient Israelites got called out on--but it's very real and very deep rooted here. Another one of our investigators also had a run-in with her mom about it. Luckily that one wasn't as severe. Although I've had to deal with family opposition with other investigators, it's never been as severe as it was this week and it was very frustrating and disheartening for us. But we're not giving up. These people are too precious! And we love them too much. We're determined to have a "white christmas" whatever faith it costs. 
Even though it's hard at times, the joys overshadow the heartbreaks. We were watching a training video segment about some missionaries in the States and one of the testimonies really stuck out to me. One of the Elders said that of course there were many hard and challenging times, but he couldn't remember any of the specifics of them. But the joys he remembers in vivid detail. That's how I feel. It's such a blessing to be helping others come unto Christ because it truly is the most rewarding work.
I love you all so much!
Lots of gratitude for all your love and support,
Sister Morey :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Miracles Happen!

Dear Mom, Dad, Adam, Jake and Jordan :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!! It's so hard to imagine that this is my second Thanksgiving out in the field! I'm grateful that this time I won't have to deal with the snow in Idaho, but I'll also miss the delicious Thanksgiving dinner we had with our Stake President's family. At least we're going to have a Ward Thanksgiving Dinner here, but who knows what kind of food will show up :P It's going to be fun none the less!! :)

I'm so incredibly grateful for what a blessing serving as a missionary has been. Even though it's had many rocky times, my faith has been strengthened and I have such a strong testimony of endurance in faith and hope. I'm so grateful for each one of you and your loving support. Whenever I'm feeling down I remember how much my family loves me and it gives me comfort. Mom, Dad, Adam, Jake and Jordan, I love you.

I wanted to fill you in on all the details of Lin JieMei's miraculous conversion. She's the one who has cancer and is the mom of one of the Elders' recent converts. Three weeks ago I remember a bike ride when Sister Gibson and I were discussing her progression in the gospel. Her goal was November 12th, in two weeks from that time, which meant that she had to be ready for a baptismal interview in a few days. At that point in time Lin jiemei had been voicing a lot of concerns about keeping the commandments because of her circumstances and because of that we weren't able to teach her very fast since most of our time was spent resolving excuses. I have to admit I was a little frustrated with her attitude. Sister Gibson was expressing to me that she had a strong impression that we should do all we could to help her meet her November 12th goal and I remember turning to her and asking, "Just think about it logically for a second. Even if we DID finish teaching her everything, do you think she would really be spiritually prepared for baptism in a week? I don't want to get someone baptized who's not really prepared just for the sake of reaching a goal. She's still got a long way to go." She agreed that she wasn't where she needed to be at spiritually, but she couldn't deny the impression she had and still insisted that we needed to help her prepared.  

I  tried to humble myself and think of what we could do instead of what we couldn't. After all, this isn't a "logical" work, it's God's, and most of the time we don't know all the ways the Lord is working to make miraculous things happen. We thought about teaching her a lesson on spiritual revelation and how she should go to the Lord to help her understand how to apply the commandments to her particular situation. Personal revelation is meant to help God's children, "adapted to the circumstances in which His children are placed" (Preach My Gospel, ch.2). We thought of D&C 9 where the Lord teaches that we need to think it out in our own mind then ask Him if it be right. Then we move forward and He'll confirm or let us know if it's wrong through our feelings. Basically if she had an attitude of "how can I keep this commandment?" and then did all she could, she wouldn't have to worry about whether or not she could get baptized because of fear from not being able to keep the commandments due to any extenuating circumstances.

When we went to go teach her that lesson, it was completely inspired. By the end her heart was much softer and we didn't have to deal with as many excuses. Still, she had a long way to go in getting ready for her baptismal interview. We met with her every day that week trying to help her understand the doctrine and miraculously she accepted it all and was ready for an interview last Tuesday, before her possible chemotherapy on Wednesday. That was the big catch... if she had chemotherapy she would most likely be feeling to weak and sick to get baptized on Saturday, but there was the possibility she wouldn't be able to have chemo because her white blood cell count was too low. We never prayed that she wouldn't be able to have chemo, but we prayed that the Lord's will would be done, even though it'd be pretty miraculous if she could still reach her goal after getting chemo.

The morning of her baptismal interview came and it was such a humbling time for me. We found out that she needed a second interview and when she came out I could tell that the burden of sin was weighing on her. After the paperwork was done and the Elders left we asked her how she was doing. She said it's not very comfortable to finally face God with all the things you've done and confess her sins before one of His representatives.  We shared our testimonies of the Atonement and read the story in Alma 36 when Alma is tormented with inexpressible pain from the sins he had committed, but that it was all replaced by joy and peace after he had repented. I had never felt the power of that story so strongly. We testified that sometimes the repentance process isn't very comfortable, but that the end would be so beautiful and joyful. Through baptism all this guilt and shame would be washed away. When we knelt down in prayer she pleaded with the Lord to help her body by healthy enough to get baptized. I was so touched by her sincerity, faith and desire to be healed both physically and spiritually by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Then it was the game of waiting. The next evening we would find out if she got chemotherapy or not and if she'd be able to get baptized on the 12th. It was torturous! When I picked up the phone to call her Wednesday night I was praying so hard that whatever happened would be what needed to happen. I was a little bit surprised and a little let down when she said she had gotten chemotherapy after all (and she said there was no way to have her second interview and get baptized on the 12th), but at the same time, I felt like the Lord wasn't going to let her slip through the cracks. As we kept in touch with her over the next few days we just tried to be as loving and caring as we could. We prayed our guts out, as well as all the other missionaries who knew about her.

In the end she really didn't feel well enough to get baptized on Saturday, which turned out to be a good thing because it was a really hectic baptismal service (Ruby, Wang jiemei, and a little girl from the ward) with a ton of people there. It would not have been good for her health or delicate situation. We were grateful for the Lord helping us understand that she needed a quieter, more safe and reverent environment.

Still on Monday she wasn't feeling very well, but we had confidence that the Lord would still help her recover quick enough so she could get baptized on the 19th, before the cycle would start all over again with her going in for another chemo treatment. The miracles started catalyzing when we called her for a normal follow up on Tuesday night. She told Sister Gibson that she was feeling a lot better and that we could go visit her! We knew we needed to take the chance while we had it... but the problem was that we already had an absolutely packed night with another baptismal service and 2 other lessons. We "you ban fa-ed" it and found some members who could help us peike and fen kai gong zuo (split up!) Needless to say, Sister Gibson did an incredible job teaching on her own, and she had a wonderful pei ke by her side :)

When I went to go visit Lin jie mei with our recent convert it was such a miracle that she was completely willing to set up for her second interview, although she wouldn't give us an answer about getting baptized on Saturday--she said she'd still have to see how her body was doing. Fair enough. We showed up the next morning with President Chen. The interview went really smoothly and when he called us back when they were finished he started giving us specific instructions on how to help her. He first said that  years before he had struggled with the same kind of cancer so he really understood exactly what she was going through, and it was really xing ku. I was floored at how much of a tender mercy that was that President Chen could relate to her in that way. He then proceeded to tell us that now the decision of when to get baptized was completely up to her and that we shouldn't ask her about it any more--she'd tell us when she was ready. I was a little nervous by that, but it gave me the opportunity to trust in the Lord a little bit more. He also gave us specific instructions for her baptismal service: few people in attendance, none of them could be sick, air conditioner off, and have sisters out with towels to dry her immediately after she gets out of the font. We were determined to follow his instructions.

Then another waiting game--she'd tell us on Friday whether or not she'd be getting baptized the next day. We followed up with her lovingly every day, and soon enough, Friday arrived. Sister Gibson had the impression to find a scripture that would help her feel inspired and open to baptism, and turns out the scripture she chose was exactly that. It was D&C 59:4 about loving the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength, and as soon as we read the scripture she started opening up and telling us that it was a miracle she was feeling so good (even better than she had in the past) and that she thought it was the Spirit telling her she should get baptized. We left that lesson in absolute awe at all the miracles that had happened to get her to that point. She was going to get baptized!!

I've run out of time, but needless to say, the baptismal service was beautiful. She shared one of the sweetest testimonies I've ever heard a recent convert share. The line that particularly meant a lot to me was that she was willing to keep all the commandments--that's exactly what our concern for her was in the beginning. She wanted to get to the Celestial Kingdom and she was willing to do anything to get there.

I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of such a beautiful miracle. Heavenly Father loves us and her so much, as well as her family. I'm so grateful to be a missionary and for the Lord's bounteous blessings.

I love you all so much and I hope each of you can have a wonderful week filled with gratitude for all the ways the Lord has worked miracles in your own lives and of those around you. I know Heavenly Father loves us, and works miracles every day because He loves us. :)

All my love,
Sister Morey :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Temple is Our Goal!

This week was wonderful as we ended with two people getting baptized! One is a 14 year old daughter of a less active. She's really solid and has been completely fellowshipped by the Young Women in the ward. We're so grateful for their examples and spirituality. We hope that Bi jun's example will also influence her less active mom, and her dad (who we have invited several times to come with her to church/to her baptism... he hasn't come, YET!) She has a sweet testimony of the Book of Mormon. "It answers the questions in my heart," she says. We love her so much!

Our other precious recent convert completed a part member family. Wang jie mei has been carefully prepared by the example of her husband, the coming of a new baby into their home, and the members, particularly the relief society president. As soon as we started meeting with her she kept all her commitments and started praying with her 5 year old son. Now they enjoy regular family prayer and scripture study. It's the cutest thing to watch their family pray together. The gospel blesses families! They have a strong desire to be sealed in the temple in a year. I'm so jealous that Sister GIbson gets to go with them near the end of her mission. I keep thinking about all my most recent converts who are planning on going next July-November, and I want SO badly to be able to go with them, but I'd have to make several trips back, unless I just want to come back and be an English teacher for the summer, just for the purpose of being here for my recent convert's Endowments, haha :) Who knows. But the most important thing is that they go whether I'm here or not. It's such a beautiful thing to see them all working towards their temple goals.

Our recent convert Zhou jie mei has been working like mad on her family history, originally so she could take some names to the temple yesterday for the stake temple trip. Unfortunately because she's such a new member and there have been some problems with her account, she couldn't get the names printed in time to make the trip. She was really sad when she told us and I tried to encourage to go anyway, that she could do baptisms for other people besides her family who had passed away, but she said, "No, I want so badly to take my own family names to the temple. I'll just keep working so I can take even more to the Temple next month." I was so touched by her faith, diligence, and intense desire to help her whole family be able to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and especially by her testimony of the importance of the temple. It really should be and is the focus of all we do. A few weeks ago in Sacrament Meeting the Taipei Temple President and his wife came to speak in one of our wards and his wife made the comment that the straight and narrow road is from home, to church, to the temple, to the Celestial Kingdom. I really like that purpose and focus.

We've also been working with a miracle less active who hasn't come to church for 10 years but met missionaries on the street and decided she wanted to come back. She also has a new baby and a really sweet husband who has met with missionaries before but never got baptized because he wasn't able to quit smoking. One day we were visiting Wu jie mei when her husband came home so we got to talking about the temple. I didn't know why, but that morning on the way to their house I had been singing "I Love to See the Temple" and when we started talking about the temple with them, I knew why. I shared my experience of singing it on my bike that morning and then asked if I could share the lyrics. Sister Gibson whispered the Engish words to me as I translated the lyrics for them the best I could, and the Spirit was so incredibly strong the whole time. When I finished I bore my testimony, and then the husband asked what the requirements were to enter the Temple. His gaze was rivited the whole time as I explained that you must be baptized and keep the commandments. I've never felt so strongly the power of the Spirit bearing witness of the Temple. It was a really special experience and we felt as Sister Gibson and I were talking afterwards that he would eventually come around. :)

Thanks, Dad, for reminding me that your anniversary this week is not just of you and mom getting married, it's the anniversary of the start of our eternal family. I really am so incredibly grateful for the blessings of the temple, for the hope and blessing of a temple marriage, and for the covenants the Lord makes with the faithful so we can receive His power and strength to overcome the challenges in mortality and safely return to His presence. The gospel is so perfect and so beautiful. I'm so grateful I get to help people come unto Christ and experience the fullness of life that comes from living the restored gospel for themselves. I know it's true with all my heart :)

I love you all so much!

Sister Morey

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pure Love & Joy

I love you all so much! Thanks for all your wonderful letters :) I'm trying so hard to keep in more personal touch by writing one of you each week... but then I find out that my time to write the rest of you is run out (I wrote to Jake this week). Please forgive me! I'm still trying to get a handle on it. But just know that I love you and am praying for you! Mom, you're doing SO good on your classes! I know the Lord is blessing you, expecially because you seek the extra help from His hand. Thanks, dad, for praying for mom :) I know you're such a foundation of faith for the family. Jake and Jordan--when you get to be experts at pool, please dont cream me when I get home, ok? Or at least teach me your skills :P Adam, I hope you're healthy and safe. I hope to hear from you sometime soon.

I've experienced SOOOO much joy this week as I've been spending more time with my recent convert, Zhou jie mei. She's helped us teach a few other investigators, and she's been coming on wednesday nights (while we're teaching English) to do family history work. I am simply blown away at her enthusiasm for learning and serving in the gospel. On Sunday in Relief Society when everyone in the room said what their biggest hope was she said, "To help these two missionaries to share the gospel, and to help my own family enjoy the blessings of the gospel too." OH! How my heart leaped in pure joy at that comment! I've often reflected at the purelove and joy that I've experienced as my recent converts really take hold of the fulness of the gospel. Whenever I just LOOK at them, I'm filled with this immense joy and love! Being a missionary is such a blessing, and will be for the rest of my life.

I love you all SOOOO much and I hope that the weather isn't too miserable. I wish I could let you borrow some of the pleasant weather here :) Keep being faithful--that's what matters most.

All my love,
Sister Morey