Monday, October 27, 2014

The Church is True Whether You Like It Or Not - Week 39


Sorry last week's email was kind of short. I was falling asleep on the
metro on the way home and was too tired to write much. This one is
going to be long. (:

Yes, my birthday packages arrived on time. I let one of the senior
sisters in the mission office know to look out for them and she was
sweet enough to drop them off at my apartment the day before my
birthday. Also, Ashley: those pajama pants and socks are amazing!
After taking our annual mission picture at the VC, my zone leader came
up to me with a package that said, "ThinkGeek" on it and I was
wondering what remarkable person would be so kind to send me that
merchandise. I was so happy! And quite a few people were jealous that
I now sleep better at night because I have kitty cat pajamas. (: (:

Last Tuesday after our mission picture, all of the Chinese
missionaries met with President Cooke to talk about the Chinese
program. President Cooke wants us to work more in DC, especially at
the universities. It's hard to have Chinese investigators in DC
because the church building where the branch meets is about an hour
away so President wants us to start two more Chinese sacrament
meetings down there. One will be at the institute building by the
University of Maryland. The other will be at the Barlow Center where
all the BYU interns are which is by Georgetown University. President
Cooke assigned Sister Liu and I to be in charge of Georgetown so we
get to go to the university and start making friends with the Chinese
students there and to organize Chinese sacrament meetings at the
Barlow Center. It's gonna take a lot of work and we need to find
people to help out with the sacrament and it will probably be just a
few of us passing the sacrament and preaching to each other at first
but hopefully we can get it to grow. Essentially I'm starting another
branch haha. So cool. I've been reading the church handbooks on how to
start your own branch. I'm very excited to have a project. You all
know how much I enjoy having projects to work on. (: Also, Sister Liu
can't extend until January like she wants to so she will be leaving in
December. President Cooke told me he's in contact with salt lake and
they are working hard to get another Chinese sister to me in time.

I have 6 weeks left with Sister Liu so I need to get proficient before
she leaves. My Chinese is substantially better than it was at the
beginning of the transfer. My second day in the branch, we visited a
recent convert couple and I didn't understand anything they were
saying and I tried to say two sentences and failed miserably. Now I
can understand almost half and what's being said, depending on the
conversation, and I can teach and testify well enough. The other day I
was doing my makeup and Sister Liu came up to me and in Chinese asked
what time we need to leave for something and I replied in Chinese. She
walked away and then it all of a sudden occurred to me how totally
weird it is that I'm just speaking this crazy language that terrifies
people. How the language works is really starting to click more.
Sister Liu is impressed by all the random vocab I know but I haven't
really understood the grammar until now. There's still so much to
learn though.. Sometimes it's overwhelming but the Lord called me here
for a reason so I'll get it eventually.

On Wednesday we had our sisters conference. We had some great
workshops and talks and we ate lunch and then enjoyed a really
incredible talk from one of the senior single sisters here. Her
husband was a pilot in the Vietnam war and he was deployed when she
was only 20. His plane was shot down 9 times. The last time, it was so
bad that when the plane crashed, he flew out the front window and he
caught fire. When another plane flew in to get him out, they grabbed
his arms and his skin slid off. Ouchy:( He didn't die. They thought he
was going to but he didn't and he went home and had ten kids and went
on to speak at fire sides about his experience. He died of a stroke in
1997. Anyway, ready for the crazy, this-church-is-true part? Almost
half of his body, I think 43%ish, was burned. And the part that wasn't
burned? Guess. Where his temple garments were. It was like a perfect
line along the collar and sleeves and legs where he was burned and
where he wasn't. That served as a huge testimony to him for the rest
of his life that the church is true. BOOM. THE CHURCH IS TRUE WHETHER
YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.  D. Todd Christofferson said in last General
Conference: "To those who believe anything or everything could be
true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels
like coercion--'I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true
that I don’t like.' But that does not change reality. Resenting the
law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a
cliff." I don't like physics or biology or math but that doesn't make
it all false. I'm sorry if you don't like the commandments or the
bishop or the church but that doesn't mean it's not true. The end.

Wednesday night I had a really cool experience. Beware, this is
another one of those "it's true!" stories. Last Saturday, my birthday,
when we were tracting, a teenage girl answered the door. We talked to
her for a minute and she said we could come back. Sweet! We asked for
her name and said we would come back Wednesday. Later that night right
when I was about to fall asleep, I realized I forgot her name. I
didn't want to go back and not know her name because what if her dad
or someone else answered and we were like, "so there's a teenage girl
who lives here who said we could come teach her about Jesus, do you
know who she is?" Weird. I thought about it for the next few days and
could not remember what it was. Finally Wednesday night came. Before
heading out, I locked myself in the bedroom and prayed to God for
help. I explained my predicament even though He already knows because
it's what you do and asked for Him to help me remember. I didn't end
my prayer but instead just sat there thinking and waiting. And then it
happened. The name "Michelle" popped into my head and instantly I felt
a spark as I realized that that was it. I came out and told Sister Liu
that it's Michelle and she was like, "yeah, you're right!" So we went
and visited her. She wasn't home but her mom was so we talked to her
and then last night we went by again and gave her a Book of Mormon.
Super duper cool! Such an amazing answer to prayer.

On Thursday we taught Zhang LiYing. We got to the point where she said
she believes the Book of Mormon is God's word but she still won't
accept it. Because that totally makes sense. Have fun with that. We've
tried all we can so we are dropping her but she still comes to church
so that's good. That night we had Chinese choir. Yuck. Haha

I had a very enlightening dinner on Friday night. This week was filled
with enlightenment. So we all know there's not much Jesus in China.
But that doesn't mean He was never there. The gospel of Jesus Christ
is hidden in the Chinese characters! What??? Crazy! Let me show you
two examples: 羔 so the first part 𦍌 means sheep or lamb and the
bottom part 灬 means fire. Like a burnt animal sacrifice in the
scriptures! Or this word: 船 so the left part, 舟 means boat. 几 is like
八 which is eight, and 口 is the measure word for people. Where do we
find a boat with eight people? Noah's ark. Apparently you can find
more of this online. So cool, right? Also, China's symbol is a dragon.
In the scriptures, satan was sometimes referred to as a dragon. What
did satan want? To take away everyone's free agency. What does the
Chinese government do? Essentially take away everyone's free agency.
Being companions with Sister Liu, I've learned even more about the
Chinese government. Jesus used to be in China but He isn't there
anymore for some reason unknown to us and now it's ruled by a dragon.
But Jesus wasn't completely taken out because He's still hidden in
their language. I will research this more when I get home, it's
fascinating to think about.

I'm glad this transfer is over. On Wednesday I will be in my 7th
transfer (out of 12) and it will be my nine month mark. I'm now
already over halfway through my mission. That is so weird. I thought I
would be a greenie forever but now I'm halfway... What?? Some days I
never want it to end and other days I really miss Charlie and
Sylvester. I imitate Sylvester sometimes by meowing while licking my
lips and Sister Liu thinks it's hysterical. But anyway, next transfer
should be better. I have a project to work on. Sister Liu and I are
getting along better. My Chinese is improving. And the Lord has been
extremely patient with me this transfer but I think next transfer He
will definitely expect a lot more out of me. Lately I've been praying
to have God guide me during personal study instead of me just studying
whatever and it's been very enlightening. The Lord has taught me a lot
about what I need to do and understand to be a better missionary and
person. This transfer wasn't my best. It will probably go down as my
worst in terms of a lot of things. But it's all uphill from here and
it's gonna be better. Prepare to be amazed and what Sister Liu and I
can accomplish with the Lord as our third companion.

Also, I found D&C 68:6 today during my inspired personal study. This
scripture really hit me and it's now one of my new favorites. This is
a taste of what God has been teaching me lately. I'll just copy and
paste it since I know half of you won't bother to look it up:
  "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am
with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even
Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I
am, and that I am to come."    So good. Cue the tears.

And that was pretty much my week. Good stuff. I got some pictures off
of my camera so I will send those to you in additional emails since
there are a lot. I love you all so so much! Remember I will always
love you and I'm only a postage stamp or a "send" button away!



Sent from my iPad

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me - Week 38


Thank you so much for all of the birthday gifts! I really appreciated
them a lot. I took a lot of pictures for my birthday but they're all
on my camera so you can see them sometime later since I don't
currently have a way to get my pictures off.

On my birthday I woke up and made cupcakes courtesy of Amanda and then
we did studies for three hours as usual. I bought pineapple last P day
for my birthday which was delightful so I had that for lunch and
French toast. I felt weird and didn't know what to do so I took some
pictures. After lunch we finished weekly planning from the day before
then we went and did blogging and Facebook for an hour. Then we went
to the mall and got Panda Express. Sister Liu thought it was hilarious
when I told the lady I wanted "chow mein." In Chinese it's "chao
mian." So that was yummy. That night we didn't have any appointments
so we went and knocked doors for 2 1/2 hours. We have a creepy book
that tells us where all the Chinese people live here. Then we went
home and lit a candle on a cupcake then I had some hot cocoa since it
was cold outside. And yeah. That was my birthday (:

This week we taught Zhang LiYing again. She has the baptist friend and
is upset over the Book of Mormon. We were going to drop her but we
decided to try teaching her one more time and I came up with a plan.
She can't read or write Chinese which is a problem when it comes to
her reading the scriptures. We planned a lesson for her where we first
told her we were going to talk about Jesus. We prepared the scriptures
that we needed on my iPad so we wouldn't read out of actual books. We
read some scriptures in the New Testament about His birth, baptism,
teachings, and miracles. We next showed her a bible video in Chinese.
Then we told her we wanted to read one more scripture. I pulled out 3
Nephi 11 on my iPad and we read it to her. She really liked it and
seemed to understand. After we finished reading it and discussed it a
bit, we told her that that was the Book of Mormon. (: Then we all
knelt down and she prayed to know if it was true. We all felt the
spirit but she took it to mean that God heard her prayer and not as an
answer. But now she's not as scared of the Book of Mormon and we have
a return appointment. (: (: (:

Why I Believe was at the VC last night and it was so good. The
speakers were a his band and wife who were baptized last year and they
were both ordained Protestant pastors. It was so so good. You can tell
they used to be pastors. Some weeks I'm falling asleep but this was so
great. Everyone loved it. It's cool to hear their conversion stories.
Also, at Why I Believe they start with 3 testimonies from recent
converts then they have all the recent converts stand and introduce
themselves before the main speakers. Meredith came and stood and was
able to tell everyone she was baptized last month. (': I love her. I'm
so proud of her.

Today we had our transferly zone activity. Our whole zone went to the
national mall for the sunrise and then a breakfast. After that we did
The Amazing Race which was so fun. We ran all over the mall to
different monuments and statues to take pictures and whatnot for the
challenges. It was tiring but I really enjoyed myself. And it was so
nice to talk to all of the missionaries I'm friends with. Then Sister
Liu and I joined Sister Lewis and 4 other sisters to go to a museum.
It's the National Museum of American History which I went to a few
months ago but it was fun to go again and I wanted to be around the
other sisters since we are all really close and I don't see them very
much anymore.

Love you all, you're awesome. Thanks so much for all the love and
support, it means a lot.

Ether 12:6



Monday, October 13, 2014

Proud Missionary Moment - Week 37


This week was grand. Last week I got to go on exchanges. Sister
Taggart came here with Sister Liu and I went with Sister Everton to
Seneca! My baby area! Sister Taggart had planned for us to check on
some formers and potentials. I had been thinking about the Velasquez a
lot lately so I asked before she left if we could check on them and
she said that would be great. I taught the Velasquez from April to
June and they were gonna be baptized but then cancelled their baptism
the Wednesday before and broke my heart and then after that I was
transferred so I haven't seen them since June. They had told me I need
to visit them but as a missionary I'm not allowed to just take time
out to visit people who aren't in my area so it was a miracle that I
had exchanges. We went there and Esteban and Leticia were home so we
went inside and talked to them for an hour and a half and they said
they would come to the Spanish Night of Music and Inspiration if I
would be there too so I agreed to go as well. Even though I'm not in
Seneca anymore, they're still my investigators! It was so good to
visit them, I was really happy. Also, proud missionary moment: when it
was time for us to go I asked if we could say a prayer and they
automatically got on their knees to pray. I trained them well (: It
was so nice and strange to be back in my first area and apartment. I
also loved being with an American companion for a day. I talked her
ear off since I've missed having Americans to talk to.

We taught Zhang LiYing twice. Both were bad lessons. When we taught
her on Wednesday, our member present didn't show up so we didn't have
anyone to translate. Part way through the lesson she wanted to call
her friend to translate. I didn't think it was a good idea but she
wanted to. Bad, bad idea. Her friend is Baptist. She went off on the
phone in mandarin forever about how wrong we are and we are a horrible
church and she's so upset her friend is learning about us. Then Zhang
LiYing got upset and said she refuses to read the Book of Mormon and
she will only believe in the bible. I was so frustrated because Zhang
wouldn't shut up and Sister Liu wasn't translating and wouldn't
translate for her what I was trying to say. If it was English then I
could've easily told her why trying to limit God's word to one book is
stupid and ignorant but I couldn't in Chinese let alone her dialect.
Finally in frustration I bore testimony in Chinese that I know it's
true then we left. Some people are so rude. If my friend called me
asking me to translate for some Jehovah's witnesses or even the church
of satan, I would translate instead of being rude and bashing their
beliefs. I'm pretty sure Christ would've just translated. A lot of
Christians are mean and don't actually act like Christ. No wonder so
many people hate religion. Anyway, the second lesson we had a great
lesson planned and we had a less active sister with us who speaks the
dialect but once again Zhang went on and on and we couldn't get much
in. The only good thing to come of the lesson is that the less active
woman bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. It's lessons like these
that make me realize how strong my testimony really is. I know this is
true and nothing any man or woman ever tells me will make me deny what
God has told me.

We taught a girl named MengQi in DC on Friday. She goes to the singles
ward but the sisters there passed her to us to teach since she
understands better when we teach in Chinese so we have an investigator
who isn't in our branch. I don't mind, we are all on the same team
here and if it helps her to have us instead then I'm happy to help.
It's fun going into DC to teach people. I was slightly disappointed
when I found out that the Washington DC North mission is mainly
Maryland with only elders actually serving in the city since sisters
are too dainty. But now I get to serve in DC too.

On Thursday night we had dinner with a member. We were late and after
we parked, Sister Liu threw her door open and hit the car next to her.
She got out and acted like nothing happened so I chewed her out and
then checked the other car but there wasn't a mark. Apparently in
China it's ok to hit other people's cars? Because it took a while to
explain why you don't do that. By the end she wasn't very happy but
whatever. After dinner, we came out and the owners were really mad. We
gave them the number of the mission office to call. I called the
senior elder in charge of cars at the mission office to let him know a
rude, grumpy lady is going to be calling him. He later called back and
said that she did call and was angry but she calmed down. This woman
had always had bad feelings towards the church but she said that
Sister Liu and I changed her mind because we were polite or something.
He then told her she's welcome to come to church any time to see what
it's like and gave her the address and time. So that's cool. I didn't
realize I was being super nice or polite, that's just how I try to act
with everyone like Christians should. If they understand what being a
Christian means.

Sunday was fun. At church I didn't understand anything. Then we went
to dinner and I didn't understand anything. Then we went to the
Spanish Night of Music and Inspiration with the Velasquez and I didn't
understand anything. Sweet.

It's frustrating because my Chinese isn't very good but I'm the senior
companion who has to make a lot of the decisions and decide what we're
going to do. I feel like I'm training Sister Liu even though she's two
transfers older than me in the mission and three years older than me.
If I was a new missionary being trained by someone who knows Chinese
then it would be fine because they would be making most of the
decisions and speaking the most and helping me have opportunities to
practice during lessons. But that's not how it is because God loved me
too much to send me to an easier mission with MTC language training.
Refiners fire is so much more fun.

2 Nephi 29:6-11. The Lord calls those who say we have a bible and
don't need any more bible fools. We can tell God He can't write more
books just like we can tell J.K. Rowling she can't write any more
books because God has always done only what man likes and understands.

Thanks Dad and Cari for the package! I already opened it.. Hope that
was ok haha. Thank you so so so so much!

Love you all! Next week I won't be in my teens anymore. So exciting.


The Velasquez (: Abby, Leticia, and Esteban.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bipolar - Week 36


This past week was better. I have never felt so bipolar in my life as I have as a missionary. This is turning out to be my hardest transfer besides my first. My first wasn't necessarily hard I was just new and tired but this transfer is kicking my butt. But it's ok, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. I think this is why I had such a good last transfer with my first baptism, God was preparing me.

We had zone conference this past week which was grand. President and Sister Cooke are so great. President Cooke cracks me up. For upcoming birthdays we get birthday scarves or ties. Two other sisters and I have birthdays this month so we were looking at the scarves and couldn't decide which one to get. President Cooke promptly came over and chose for us. He was telling us this one would bring out our eyes or complexion and that one would highlight our features. So funny. So I now own a scarf picked out by my mission president for me.

We had some good lessons last week. We taught Zhang LiYing a couple times. We don't speak her dialect and she doesn't speak ours but we can kind of understand each other. The first lesson was annoying. It took us over an hour to get through a 5 minute object lesson because she kept on talking and talking and not listening. At the end she said we need to teach her more slowly because she's not understanding. I wonder why. The second lesson we kindly told her that we are glad she has such strong faith in Christ but that we are here to teach her. That one went a lot better. We invited her to be baptized and she sort of accepted. She has already been baptized in another church and is totally willing to be baptized again but wants to understand why before she commits. The only problem is that our member interpreter with us doesn't know how to say "priesthood" or "authority" in her dialect so we literally could not explain why she needs to be baptized again. We'll try again tomorrow and hopefully figure out how to say it.

We also taught a Chinese girl living in DC. She's the singles ward sisters investigator but they invited us to help since she speaks mandarin. It took an hour and a half to get there and the lesson wasn't done until 9pm and then it took as an hour and a half to get home. Ouch. It was cool to be in DC late at night. I've only been in DC late at night twice but before I was surrounded with missionaries or people but this time it was just us and the occasional pedestrians on the street. Slightly sketchy but the city is cool at night.

We had Chinese choir practice again. There were only 10 people there and everyone was off key except for me and the one other soprano. It was funny but kind of a waste of time in my opinion. Oh well.

General Conference was so good! We watched it at the VC for Saturday morning and then members homes for the other three. I only watched the Sunday afternoon in Chinese but it had English subtitles. It's cool that they are having some of the men speak in their native languages. I'm glad President Uchtdorf stayed English though. It was fun having them speak a different language with Chinese translation and English subtitles.

On Saturday night we had hot pot for dinner after General Conference, it was so good! I'd heard about it from the rm missionaries from Hong Kong in my Chinese class at BYU. They weren't allowed to eat it there. Hot pot is where they put a special pot in the middle of the table with boiling whitish broth and lots of plates of food around it. They you just use your chopsticks to put the different food inside of the pot to cook it for a few seconds then you take it out and eat it. It was so good. The only problem is that the Chinese culture is for them to serve you and after a while I was so full but didn't know how to tell them to stop. I literally gained a few pounds overnight. 

Also, Chinese people don't like sweets. For dessert we always have grapes or sometimes really bland fruit cookies. Interesting, no wonder they are all so skinny.

Speaking of food and gaining weight, being on my mission has made me realize how much I want to be in shape when I go home. I was never fat or really out of shape but I wasn't in great shape unless I was playing lacrosse. Here it's just so hard to stay in shape with people feeding you stuff and 30 minutes of exercise or even 45 minutes just isn't always enough to counteract it especially since exercise doesn't always happen too consistently at 6:30am. Being in shape is a gift that I can't have on a mission. 

Here's a story that I read in the Ensign today that I just love. It made me laugh. 

"I was sitting in the corner of the celestial room by the organ during the dedication of the Memphis Tennessee Temple. President James E. Faust (1920–2007), a member of the First Presidency from 1995 to 2007, had come to dedicate the temple. He and several other leaders were seated behind the microphone. A local Church choir filed in and stood behind them.

A young woman I visit taught was a member of the choir. Throughout the meeting, I prayed that she would receive what she had come for. She had confided in me that she came to the temple dedication that day to find out her standing with the Lord. She had committed serious sins in the past, and though she had repented, she still struggled to feel good about herself. She even struggled to feel good about singing in the choir.

I stared at President Faust, feeling that he, as a representative of the Lord in the First Presidency, ought to be able to do something. But how could I tell him, and how could he do anything? After the meeting, he would file out of the room just as he had come in, and there would be no introductions, no handshakes, and no words exchanged. I understood that he was busy and had travel arrangements, but still I prayed.

President Faust, deep in thought, looked at me for a while--the muscles in his eyebrows were knit together. When the meeting ended, a happy expression flooded his countenance with light.

He looked at me again and then suddenly stood up, turned around, and stretched his arm forward as far as it would go. He pointed directly at my friend. Then he said firmly and loudly, “The Lord loves you!”

President Faust’s gesture was small and simple yet so powerful that it could have come only from the Holy Ghost communicating to him what I could not. Those few words blessed my friend and continue to sustain my faith that the Lord is mindful of the details of our lives and “that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6)."

And the scripture is Jacob 4:4-6. In case we weren't told enough yesterday about the importance of following the prophet, here's another reason. When we listen to and follow the prophets our faith is fortified and strengthened and we can command in the name of Jesus and the very mountains or waves of the sea obey us. Whuut? So cool! Of course that doesn't mean that we can just move mountains whenever we feel like it, only if God commands us to or if Pharaoh is chasing you trying to kill you. But we can have power to overcome temptation and stand for what's right and bring power into our family and homes.

I love you all, you're the best.


Sister Black