Monday, March 30, 2015

My Cat Died - Week 60


I wonder if my writing skills have improved on my mission since I
write a novel every week. I hope you all have enjoyed my novels.

This week was good. Nothing special. Other than my cat died. I was
pretty devastated about that. The ironic thing was that during car
rides this past week I spent a lot of time telling Sister Wu about my
cats and funny things they do. Then, most ironic of all, she also
asked me on Thursday if animals have spirits and where they go when
they die. I told her that I assume animals go to heaven and that all
the fun, cute ones go to the Celestial Kingdom and all of the bugs and
scary ones go to the lower kingdoms. I was just kidding of course. I
then told her that I'm pretty sure that when my cats die, which
wouldn't be for another 8 years at least since they are only 7 and 8,
that we would get to be with them again. I also jokingly said I wished
I could be sealed to them in the temple. Then the next day Sylvester
died. :( :( Kind of ruined my weekend. I was really looking forward to
seeing my kitties again and taking a video of their reactions to my
homecoming. At least I still have Charlie. But man I'm so sad. :(

Anyway, back to my weekly report. Last Monday we taught Jia Wei and
her husband again. I'll call her husband Brother Wang. We taught them
about the restoration since we had covered God and Jesus by that
point. We did it slowly and simply since all of this is still new to
them. They totally got it. We taught about the apostasy and recited
the first vision (I still need to memorize that one in Chinese) and
told about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It went well.
Brother Wang even repeated the story back to us to make sure he had it
correct. We also showed them a short video of Elder Perry testifying
of the restoration with Chinese subtitles. I love teaching this
family. I've only had the privilege of teaching people this prepared a
few times on my mission and it is so exciting.

On Tuesday we had two meal appointments and then a lesson with a less
active man and his non member wife which went well.

Wednesday we had zone conference. That was grand. Lots of great
workshops by our leaders. They also gave each apartment a book with
100 no equipment exercises in it. I'm pretty excited. I don't like
treadmills because I get bored staring at the wall especially with no
music here and there are no good places to run where I live. So I've
been doing those every morning and I feel great.

That night we went and taught Linda Fu. She is less active as well and
her husband isn't a member. After a great lesson, her husband informed
us he's leaving to China on Monday (today) until May. Great.
#chinesebranchprobs Everyone is always leaving to either China or
Taiwan for a couple months! It's super frustrating. Just stay here in
America! In the branch! Let us teach you! Yeah. I can think of two
other families in the branch who are also leaving. Yay.

Thursday we got to drive into the Baltimore mission for a doctors
appointment. It was in Frederick and they have mountains there! Not
super big but they were mountains! I was so excited. I haven't seen
mountains in over a year. That was the highlight of the day. And free
Burger King from a member.

Friday. That afternoon at one we taught Jia Wei by herself. We taught
her about what baptism is and Jesus's baptism and why it's important
and showed her a bible video of His baptism. By the end she accepted a
conditional baptismal invitation! Then we went home and did weekly
planning which was interrupted by Sylvester email I received. Then at
5 we visited a less active member who is trying to sell her house so
she can join her husband and daughter in California. She made us home
made dumplings which were divine. Then after that we went to Chinese
choir practice at a members home for an event next month. Listening to
Chinese people sing is funny. Then they gave us ice cream which helped
me to drown my kitty sorrows.

Saturday we taught Zhang LiYing. She's the one who doesn't speak
Mandarin or English. Sister Wu could somewhat communicate with her
using Cantonese. That lesson reminded me why I didn't like teaching
her before. I don't think we will go back. She's not ready to listen.

That night was the General Women's Broadcast. The talks were really
good. I always struggle with the broadcast though because it's so
cheesy it hurts. But despite that the messages are sent straight from
heaven and we all need to listen to them and obey. I really liked
Bonnie Oscarson's talk the best. She spoke to us when I was at the MTC
and she's a great speaker and funny, very direct lady. We can all
learn a lot from her talk.

Yesterday we had the Easter program during sacrament meeting. Last
week, Sister Connell had asked me to put together a musical number for
it since someone had cancelled. She wanted me to sing "I Know That My
Redeemer Lives" and have Elder Yang play the violin. I found a nice
vocal arrangement but no violin part so I spent a couple hours on
Tuesday writing a violin part to go with it. Sister Wu played the
piano for it. It went really well I think. I sang it in Chinese. All
of the missionaries in our branch are talented. For another song in
the program, three of the elders were playing the cello, violin, and
viola while the fourth one accompanied on the piano. All of the
members were super impressed that all of us could perform. It was

Right after sacrament meeting ended, Brother Pugmire, our ears mission
leader and a young men leader, went up to us and said "Hey, you're
teaching the young women today right?" Oh no. We completely forgot we
had agreed to teach them about missionary work. We spent Sunday school
planning a lesson. Brother Pugmire had also forgot to plan the lesson
he was going to teach to the young men so they combined. The lesson
was fun and I enjoyed giving it. Sometimes I forget how much fun being
a missionary is and how it sounds to someone who isn't a missionary.
Being a missionary is weird but really great.

Last night we tracked mansions. We used our list of 5000 Chinese names
and chose the ones living in the mansions of Potomac. That was
exciting. Housing is already super overpriced here in Maryland so
these houses cost millions. You could buy a mansion the same size in
Utah for a lot cheaper. But then you have to live in Utah.

Today we went to the city. I showed Sister Wu the monuments and then
we went to the National Air and Space Museum. It wasn't that
interesting so we were only there for 30 minutes. Other people would
probably love it but neither of us are into science unless it's a fun
discovery channel documentary.

"But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt
your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony
of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The
scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a
God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it,
yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their
regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator"(Alma 30:44).
I know God lives and loves us and is aware of us all. He is aware of
all of His creations, that includes animals. I'm sure Sylvester is
happy and enjoying that happiness and rest which God has prepared for
all of His creations. Joseph Smith firmly believed he would see his
favorite horse in heaven so I believe we will see Sylvester in heaven
one day too. Let's live so we are worthy of it when the day comes.

I love you all! Thanks for the emails and pictures and love! And good
luck with everything.

Love, Sister Black

The first four are of today in the city. The fifth is a family we had
dinner with this week. The mom was friends with Sister Wu's family
back in Hong Kong.

Monday, March 23, 2015

我喜欢弹钢琴和唱歌和画画和吃饺子和告诉人关于耶稣基督的赎罪和祷告和睡觉 - Week 59


We didn't get as much teaching done this week as last week. But we had
a few really great lessons.

Monday night we taught the Wang family which is Jia Wei and her
husband. If you remember, they are from Beijing and have only lived
here for a year and a half and have a three year old son and don't
know anything about God and can't speak English. They came to church
Sunday before last and seemed to like it alright. The husband seemed
to like to more than the wife. We went over and brought a member with
us who is in the branch and served his mission in Taiwan. We taught
them the very basics about who God is an explained how He has a body
and He is our literal spirit Father and He's perfect and glorified.
Then we taught about Jesus Christ and how He is the literal son of God
and had a mortal mother. We explained His Atonement very simply and
read a scripture. We then had them watch "Because of Him" in Chinese
and they really liked it. After the video I asked the husband what his
thoughts were and he basically bore testimony of how amazing it is
that someone was willing to die for us and that it's through Christ
that we can be clean. Bingo! Then he said the closing prayer like a
boss! It was such a cool lesson! They got it and they loved it.

Ok Tuesday we taught the Asia family. They have only lived here for
six months apparently and they live in a castle. The elders had been
teaching them in the past and the mother's interest had cooled and
they were kind of relying on the sons to continue to have interest. We
went to a lesson with them last week and it wasn't good. The spirit
wasn't there and the mother was bored, as were Sister Wu and I. So we
decided that since the lesson with the Wang family had gone so well we
would go ahead and do the same idea with the Xias. We also brought a
member of the branch to help us teach. And it worked. At first the mom
was mildly unresponsive and bored as usual. But then she slowly
started to ask questions and make comments. By the time we were
talking about the atonement she was actively participating and offered
to read the scripture. We then showed them the Chinese "Because of
Him" as well and she loved it. I asked her how she felt after the
video and she said happy and I told her that that's the Holy Ghost.
She was so happy and there was a new light in her eyes and as we left
she very sincerely thanked us for coming and didn't want us to leave.
It was awesome.

Something that occurred to me is how much we (I) sometimes take for
granted the fact that Jesus Christ died for us. Like I know it and
appreciate it and worship Him as a result but I've know it for so long
that taking the sacrament and teaching people and repenting of my sins
have just become routine. But it really is incredible. These people
are hearing it for the first time and they are amazed and hungry to
learn more. This really is a miraculous and perfect plan that our
Father has set up here. I want to not forget how amazing it really is.

On Wednesday we attempted to do the same thing with Ruth. It didn't go
as well as planned. She's been investigating for years. We got there
and she decided to make dinner for us. We told her that we are fine
and had already eaten (even though we hadn't and were starving haha)
but she proceeded to spend over an hour making tons of food for us.
The good thing was that we got to talk to her a lot about the church
as she cooked. But it took forever. And then we finally sat down to
eat. And then five minutes later she thought of something else to
make. After a couple hours we were finally able to get to the lesson.
It was rocky at first but then I started doing to cups and re
explaining the restoration to her in a different way (I was very proud
of my Chinese in that lesson). The spirit started entering the room
and there was a change in her eyes. Then her 12 year old son who was
doing the dishes decided at that point to drop a plate he was washing
and make a big noise. In an instant she was up and chastising him and
then proceeded to give him a lesson on doing the dishes and how he
needs to be a better son for twenty minutes. By this point the spirit
was gone and we had been there forever. I sadly put away my cups and
told Sister Wu that it's time to go. We were so close.

Thursday was spent mostly planning and in meetings and then visiting
Chinese people who recently moved in with no luck.

Friday morning we got to go to the temple! And instead of doing a
session we did sealing a instead! Only daughter to parents of course.
I brought a couple names to do. I also, while doing family history
last week, found a whole family so I'm currently trying to get their
work done. It's very exciting. I'm enlisting the help of elders to do
some of the names during their temple trip. It's so nice having a
temple in my mission. I have been able to go so many times. It's
really a blessing. Anyway, the temple sealings were great and I think
everyone really enjoyed them. After that all of us sisters went next
door to the stake center for a mini sisters get together. We had
Kirsten Aymer speak to us. I love Kirsten. She is in the Kensington
ward and she joined the General Conference hunch about 7 years ago.
Her husband used to be a navy seal and is studying to be an animator
and joined the church 4 years ago and their family was sealed in the
temple in 2013. They are one of my favorite families in that ward.
They are so cool! I could write a whole email just about them. Anyway,
she was actually introduced to the church from doing Mary Kay. One of
her clients was LDS and she became interested and asked her client
more and went to church with her one day. So she told us her
conversion story and did a Mary Kay makeup tutorial which was very
fun. She's so funny. I love her.

After that we drove out to Poolesville to visit Jia Wei. She didn't
seem to understand what we've taught as much as her husband has and
she's lonely during the weekdays so we scheduled a time to meet just
with her. We brought a ward member and taught her the Christmas
lesson. We decided to start from the beginning of Christ's life with
her and take it slow. So we read Luke 2 and showed her the Nativity
video. Then she said the closing prayer. Yay! So good!

After the lesson we rushed back to the stake center by the temple to
have our interviews with President Cooke. We also got our new iPads.
Yay. So I'm officially not on Facebook anymore. I feel like a normal
missionary now. With Facebook I still kind of knew what was going on
but now I really have no idea and I haven't felt this secluded from
the world since I was at the MTC. It's an interesting feeling. I get
all my info from Mormon Newsroom now haha. Apparently people from Utah
were in DC this week to talk about religious and LGBT rights. Sweet.
Utah and Mormons are leading the way with equality here! More like God
is. How inspired. It's crazy how much God loves us and cares and is
like, "K if you want to be gay then go be gay but let the saints
worship in peace." It's perfect.

Anywayyyyy, so I got my new iPad. It's lovely. Since I go home before
August 23 I don't get to keep it. Bummer. But that's ok. I don't think
mom and dad feel like paying another $400 right now haha. I backed up
all my pictures onto a flash drive but now there's no pictures in my
iPad. I downloaded some church pictures from so I'd have
something. I love official portraits of general authorities. So

Saturday was driving around and visiting our list of Chinese people
who just moved in. Not a lot of success there.

Yesterday was Sunday! Sunday is a special day it's the day everyone
else has to wear a dress too. And where we see the fruits of our
labors. Jia Wei came to church. She seemed a lot happier. Right before
sacrament meeting Sister Connell, a single older (but not really old)
missionary came up to me and said that a musical number for next
week's Easter program canceled and was wondering if I could sing
something. I guess... I feel awkward singing at church events. I'm
kind of an awkward singer. It's all awkward. Awkward should be my
middle name. So Sister Connell and I found an arrangement of "I Know
That My Redeemer Lives." She wants Elder Yang to play the violin so I
spent a lot of time writing a violin part to go with it. I don't play
the violin but it's not that hard to create a simple melody with only
the treble clef. It was fun, I felt like I was back home writing music
again. Well at home it was more listening to songs and making
arrangements than creating a whole new song.

That night we drive around visiting Chinese people on our list of
5,000 Chinese names. Super fun. One woman seemed promising.

Spring is slowly coming. It snowed briefly on Friday but it's all gone
and now it's a balmy 40 degrees. The cherry blossoms will be blooming
in a week or two which will be exciting. I will take lots of pictures
and send them home to make you jealous. I'm just living the dream out
here haha.

Sister Wu and I get along really great. Like super great. At home we
both just do our own thing and don't talk a whole lot but we both like
it that way and then when it's time to get out and work we go out and
work and teach very well together. I love it. I've never had a
relationship like this with a companion but it's very nice.

I'll probably never be fluent in Chinese out here but I can teach and
testify very nicely and keep up with conversations even if I can't
offer much. And I'm ok with that. Before I thought that I had to be
perfectly fluent to be effective but I don't. I will be fluent one day
but that day isn't today. I will be good enough one day and that day
is today.

That was my fabulous week out here serving the Chinese people in the
DC metro area. I love you all. The church is true, the book is blue,
and Moroni's on the ball.

"And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things
are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall
come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of
his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the
Lord God hath spoken it.
"For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according
to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made,
or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened;
yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through
the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
"For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice;
yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner
of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an
infinite and eternal sacrifice"(Alma 34:8-10).


Sister Black