Monday, April 27, 2015

Pretty Grand - Week 64


Hello everyone! Hope you are all doing well! My week was pretty grand
and very memorable.

Last Monday night we taught Jia Wei! When we got there she said that
her husband said not to wait for him. He wasn't at last week's lesson
either. Sister Wu and I became very sad and wondered if he had lost
interest and what more we can do and we were apparently both making
private plans to fast for him this Sunday. We taught Jia Wei the
lesson with our awesome member there and it went well. Jia Wei's
parents were in town from China but they didn't join us. After the
lesson we said a prayer and we were just about to leave when in walked
her husband! He sat down and started talking to us for a few minutes.
We then asked him if he had a chance to read a pamphlet we gave him
and he said no he didn't have time but we can read it together now. He
went and grabbed it and so we ended up teaching him a lesson as well
and he's still golden as ever. We finished with their three year old
saying a prayer which was adorable. And that's how we got two member
present lessons in one household in one night haha. Afterwards they
fed us this kind of Chinese pizza and it was really good. I love their

Tuesday was spent mostly driving to doctors appointments. But we did
have dinner with an older couple and also Elder Lim and his family.
Elder Lim completed his mission the week before and his family came
out to get him and they stayed for a week. It was interesting eating
dinner with an elder and especially one without his companion since we
aren't allowed to eat with elders. We just chatted and joked around
and his parents and sister teased him about a girl he really likes who
is still serving her mission in Temple Square. It was a bit strange
haha since I'm used to working with him, not teasing him about his
girlfriend and chatting over dinner. It was fun though.

Wednesday was great. That night we taught a woman, Apple, and three
kids that she watches full time. Apple isn't a member and has been
investigating for years but her son is a member and actually does
animation. The three kids have lived with her for a few years now
since their parents neglect them. The kids love the church and are so
knowledgeable about the gospel and they really want to get baptized
but their parents won't let them and tell them that God is evil. While
we were visiting, the thought came to me that a legal guardian can
also sign the baptismal record and Apple said she was willing to sign
it. I asked if she's the legal guardian and she said yes because she
signs all of their school and doctors and insurance forms and the
parents gave her permission. The two boys are twins and are 12 and the
girl is 7 and we told the boys that we think they can get baptized.
They were super excited. After the lesson, they played the piano for
us and then they put on some Chinese music videos and sang and danced
for us. It was so cute. When we got home we called President Cooke to
make sure it's ok and he said it was so we called them and told them
and then asked if May 23rd sounds good and they said yes! I'm so
excited for them, they're the best! The date might end up changing but
Sister Wu and I came up with a plan to get them all the rest of the
lessons taught since they boys told us they want to be baptized as
soon as possible.

On Thursday we went out to lunch with Sister Fordham from the
Kensington ward. She took us to a Chinese restaurant and we ate Hong
Kong ourdurves (I don't know how to spell it and spell check isn't
helping). Sister Wu was in heaven. And I ate the one thing I vowed I'd
never eat: chicken feet. Gross, I know. This one was a little better
because it was breaded and seasoned instead of just plain, pickled
chicken feet. It tasted fine but I still only took a couple bites
because I was grossed out haha. That night we went and grafted for a
couple hours which was uber fun.

Friday we went to the Fordhams again and did yard work which was fun.
We did it with the Kensington sisters and the Kensington elders later
came and joined us. Her yard is a history of missionaries. Sister
Croese cut down this tree and Elder Ng helped build this patio and
Elder Malugin built this brick wall and so on haha. And now Sister
Black weeded and rebuilt the wall of this flower bed!

At 3 on Friday we visited Jia Wei again and retaught her the
Restoration which went well. She said she was reading about our church
online and there was an article where someone was talking about what a
great church we are and we do so much service. Whooooo! Someone who
cares more about the good that we do than the differences in doctrine!
That night we went and contacted at an Asian market for a while.

Saturday was so great. One of the best Saturdays of my mission.
Because.... ALBA GOT BAPTIZED!!! Yay!!!! Story time!:
So, last July I was serving in Kensington with Sister Lewis. But
before that, Sister Lewis was serving there with Sister Bertholon
(from Tahiti🌴) and they got a referral in their phone for some person
with a weird name (Elder something...). They went to the house and the
guy who answered didn't know anyone by that name and wasn't
interested. Sister Lewis and Sister Bertholon then decided to knock
the houses around the referral's house before leaving. They knocked on
a particular house where a high school age girl answered the door and
they were able to teach her a bit and give her a Book of Mormon and
the girl seemed pretty interested. Now fast forward to July when I
come in. We had tried visiting the girl a few times but she was never
home and we couldn't get in contact with her. One night, an
appointment fell through. Both Sister Lewis and I felt that there was
someone specific that we needed to see but we didn't know who. It was
a very strong feeling though. We prayed to know who to visit and we
awaited inspiration. There had been a small thought in the back on my
mind that we should see the girl but I didn't know if that's really
what we should do so I didn't mention it. Finally Sister Lewis
suggested that we go to a certain part of our area. I knew that that
was the direction that the girl lived and so I finally said her name,
"Gisselle." Sister Lewis looked at me and we both in that moment
received a delightful spiritual confirmation that that's where we were
supposed to go. She said, "Giselle!" back and then we both started
chanting "Gisselle!" like we were in "Enchanted" and we happily sped
off towards her house. We excitedly decided that we were going to
teach whoever is there regardless of if Gisselle is home or not. We
arrived and prayed and hopped out of the car and ran to the door and
knocked. And the person who opened the door was a cute, pregnant woman
in an adorable maternity dress named Alba! We explained who we were
and asked if we could visit and share a short message with her. She
agreed and we we inside and shared the Restoration and she loved it!
She agreed with everything and felt the spirit so strongly and she
agreed to read the Book of Mormon. We set up a return appointment and
we got back into the car and screamed for a few minutes about how
amazing it was. And then we celebrated by going to the store and
buying ice cream. The next lesson with her she prayed and she started
crying in her prayer and telling God she's sorry she hasn't spoken to
Him in so long. It was so powerful. And this began our adventure of
teaching Alba! By our second or third lesson, she already had people
like her mom and friends criticizing the church and telling her it's
false but she just bore testimony and told them that they need to read
the Book of Mormon and pray and then they'll know that it's true. She
would've gotten baptized then but she had a couple marriage situations
to resolve which is why it took her 9 months to get baptized. But now
she is finally baptized and her 10 year old son was baptized as well 7
weeks ago! I'm so happy! She is amazing. God's elect. Her baptism was
beautiful and afterwards I was talking to her and I congratulated her
on being a Mormon and she said, "I'm a mother, I'm a daughter, and I'm
a Mormon." Hahahaha she's so good! I LOVE HER. She's a huge miracle of
my mission. (: (: (:

After the baptism we ran to the metro and gave out pass along cards to
people and got street contacted by Jehovah's Witnesses haha.

That night was the Chinese choir concert. Oh boy. So at our chapel we
had our branch choir, the Mormon choir of DC, and then about 4 other
Chinese choirs each perform 2 songs each before we all sang 2 songs
together. So our Chinese branch isn't the most musical and one of the
songs we were supposed to sing was pretty tricky and was also a
cappella. We rehearsed that song a ton and it was sounding pretty bad.
After we rehearsed, all of the choirs ate a light dinner together
which was nice. Then we all gathered together in the chapel with our
invited guests to perform. We went first. The hymn we sang sounded
pretty good. The other one could've been worse but it definitely
could've been better. It was a little embarrassing but oh well. Both
the altos and the sopranos wanted me to help them sing their part
since I have a strong voice haha so I was kind of switching parts all
night but I finally settled on soprano since if the sopranos sound bad
then everything else sounds bad too. The rest of the performances were
great and it was a great missionary opportunity.

Yesterday instead of normal church we had a broadcast. It was from
salt lake and it broadcast to 129 stakes up and down the east coast.
It was really good. Elders Anderson, Hales, the General Young Women's
second counselor, and Elder Kacher of the Seventy spoke to us. That
night we had dinner with some members and then we did more contacting
at an Asian market. Uber fun.

And that was my week! Pretty grand. Other than one of my favorite
investigators dropped us. :( But it's ok, press forward saints! The
scripture this week is one that my Book of Mormon professor at BYU
really emphasized and I read it again this week and loved it:
"For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that
which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it
be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come
unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come
unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he
remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and
Gentile"(2 Nephi 26:33).
God loves us all and invited everyone to come unto Him no matter who
we are or what we've done. It doesn't matter our age, race, gender,
religion, family, past, sexual orientation, etc. We are all the
children of God and Christ performed the Atonement for all of us, not
just His "favorites" or Christians or Mormons.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!


Sister Black

Alba's baptism!
After her baptism! With her cute daughter.
At the Fordhams with their massive, droopy dog whom we all have come to love.
Chicken foot.
The three kids at Apple's singing and dancing for us.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Standard of Truth - Week 63


This week was transfers! Whoo! Sister Wu and I are still together in
the Chinese branch. It was sad to see the other missionaries go home.
I was kind of bummed out the rest of the day. I'm getting tired of
watching all my friends go home. I'm glad I only have one more
transfer meeting of missionaries going home until it's me.

This week we taught Jia Wei twice. Her husband got home late on Monday
night so we weren't able to teach him but we taught Jia Wei and it
went really well. We also brought a member who ended up being
absolutely perfect for her. We taught Jia Wei on Friday as well about
the family proclamation to prepare her for her parents visiting from
China. Her three year old son decided not to take a nap that day and
so he was awake and super disruptive as usual. After a while, I became
the glorified babysitter and spent the rest of the lesson speaking
quietly to him and letting him press buttons on my iPad. His Chinese
is so simple and clear and cute so I loved chattering quietly with
him. When the lesson ended, Sister Wu offered the closing prayer.
Usually the toddler keeps on making noises and running around but this
time as she prayed I noticed that he was sitting next to me quietly. I
discreetly opened my eyes (don't worry, I repented) and he was sitting
with his hands folded and head bowed. When Sister Wu said "amen" I
asked him if he could say amen and all he did was nod. I then asked if
he could say a prayer. He nodded again but just sat there and didn't
do anything. Then all of a sudden he jumped up and grabbed my hands
and put them together and then did the same with Sister Wu. He then
sat down and announced that he was going to pray. He then proceeded to
bow his head and say a completely gibberish prayer. It wasn't Chinese
or English haha. And then he finished by saying "amen." So cute! I was
almost in tears, it was so adorable. We finally managed to teach him
to pray! And he had also pointed to a picture of Jesus on my iPad and
said, "基督" which means Christ. He's learning! I'm so happy. (:

On Tuesday we had our last district meeting of the transfer. We played
a game to see how well we know our companions which was pretty funny.
That night we drove around and knocked doors from our 5000 Chinese
name list. It was so incredibly beautiful. There were trees with
blossoms of all different colors everywhere. Spring is breathtaking

Wednesday was transfers. There were 13 missionaries and 3 senior
missionaries going home so it took forever to get through all of their
testimonies. They were good though. I was super restless though, I
have trouble sitting for long periods of time haha. But I survived.
That night we checked on more people.

Thursday we visited a cute 16 year old young woman. She and Sister Wu
and her home teacher who came with us all spoke Cantonese so for part
of our visit I just sat there as they chattered in Cantonese. Also,
she's more comfortable in English than mandarin so we taught her in
English and it was so weird. Sister Wu and I felt really off as we
taught and testified about the atonement. She loved the lesson and
felt the spirit so it was good but it was weird for us missionaries.
We never teach in English and we pray in Chinese everywhere so it's
interesting how ow doing things  in English throws me off haha. My
Chinese isn't even that good!

That night we taught another investigator. She's not really
progressing and we end up staying over there for a couple hours just
to teach a short lesson because she spends a lot of time cooking for
us and then talking. Sister Wu and I ended up hiding some of the food
in our bags when she left the room because we were so full and she
kept on bringing out more.

Friday we taught Jia Wei and then that night we had Chinese choir
rehearsal for our big Chinese choir concert this week with a couple
other Chinese choirs and the Mormon Choir of Washington, D.C.

Saturday we knocked more houses during the day. At 3:45 we had another
choir practice but this time combined with another Chinese choir to
rehearse the two songs we are all singing together. Sister Tsai
volunteered me to play the piano and Sister Wu to play the organ for a
song so that was fun. It's an interesting song but it's sounding good.
The other one is "You Raise Me Up." They really like that song.

Last year when Elder Ballard visited, he encouraged us to talk to ten
people per missionary per day. This transfer they are really
emphasizing that. So for ten minutes after the choir practice on
Saturday we went to an Asian market parking lot and handed out 20 pass
along cards to the people there. I don't think we can do that every
day but it's effective. Until the management gets mad.

That night we watched "Meet the Mormons" with members of the Chinese
branch which was grand. I've seen that movie so many times now. It's
still good. Even if I can now quote it.

Sunday was grand. We were at church for over six hours. It's like I
have a calling or something. Ha. That night we had Why I Believe at
the vc. It was really good. He new convert testimonies were a lot
shorter which was nice and then the Fowlers, the new directors of the
vc, gave their talks which were so good. Elder Fowler was so good. You
can tell he was a general authority. He speaks so well and so
powerfully. His talk was really aimed at trying to increase the
testimonies of everyone there which was perfect. Sometimes I wish
people talking either at the vc or in church would realize that
there's investigators there and work more on strengthening the
listeners' testimonies than just talking for their assigned time.

I've discovered how to lose weight. Only buy a huge bag of frozen
Mickey Mouse chicken nuggets and a 24 pack of Sunny D on P Day and
then you'll never want to eat again.

That was my week. Sister Wu and I are working on speaking more Chinese
in the car which has been nice. This week we have some really great
things happening which I'm excited for.

Last night Elder Fowler talked about the standard of truth delivered
by the prophet Joseph Smith. It goes: "The standard of truth has been
erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.
Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and
calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly,
and independent, 'til it has penetrated every continent, visited every
clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear. 'Til the
purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall
say: 'the work is done.'" At the time that Joseph Smith said this,
there were only 23,000 members of the church. But he said that and
even had the audacity to write it down. Over 100 years later, when
Elder Fowler was born, there were only 950,000 members. But then by
the time Elder Fowler served a mission at 19, it had doubled. And then
15 years later it had doubled again. Now today we have 15.3 million

He also talked about back in 1995 all of the general authorities
gathered together in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake.
It was there that a President Hinckley told them of his airplane ride
home where as he was pondering how to get more temples to members he
suddenly had an idea and wrote down on a napkin or two the floor plan
of a small temple that could be built to suit the needs of its local
members. At this meeting, he told them all that he wants to have 100
temples built before he dies. At this point there were only 43
temples. It took the church 160 years to build 43 temples and now
President Hinckley wants to build 57 more before he dies. But Elder
Fowler said there was electricity in the air and they were all so
excited and knew that this was a prophet of God speaking. Now, 20
years later, we have around 145 temples with over 30 more in various
stages of construction. The Lord's hastening of the work needed to
start with the hastening of temple building so that members everywhere
can attend the temple. And now it was just announced that we will get
3 new temples in Haiti, the Ivory Coast, and Thailand. Amazing. The
Lord's work truly is hastening. "Behold, I will hasten my work in its
time"(D&C 88:73).

I love you all! Talk to you in a few weeks!

Sister Black

1&2. Death pictures at district meeting for the departing missionaries.
3. Our feast while just trying to teach our investigator a short lesson
4. Secret picture of me walking to knock a house on Saturday.