Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"I Wish I Had As Many Friends As This Bird Does"

Last night I was talking to an older lady from Hawaii; she was baptised when she was 8, but was inactive and apathetic to the gospel most of her life. When she was in her twenties, some friends finally brought her to church, and she said that she felt some kind of draw to it. She didn't know what the heck those feelings were, but she stuck with it, and started attending church regularly again. She ended up becoming a missionary, and while she was on her mission, somebody asked her how she knew that God and Jesus Christ were real. She didn't. All she knew was that she felt happy at church, and that it helped her be good. 

She said that in the middle of her mission, she watched a video of the First Vision of Joseph Smith, and it wasn't until then that she knew. It wasn't just in her heart anymore. She knew God was real, because why would Jesus Christ come to earth if He didn't love us? Why would so many people love Him, if He didn't love them? Why would He be prophesied about for centuries and millenia before His birth, and remembered for centuries and millenia  after His death, if He wasn't so great and so good? 

At one point, you don't just feel it, you know it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ isn't just a feel-good story. It's everything, and somewhere along the way, as long as you stay on the way, everything clicks. 

I know that you don't come to know it immediately. It takes work, and it takes time, because good things are never easy. 

And I know that even though you don't know it immediately, that God promises us that wewill come to know.

"Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." -Ether 12:6 

Everyone can gain that witness. I know because I did. 

Merry Christmas! 

This is my silly family:

This is a friend I made at the bird park today: 

And all of his friends: 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

"It's the Most Hectic Time of the Year "

It feels like an eternity since I last had preparation day. Last transfer I had it on Wednesday, and this transfer I have it on Monday. Since Transfer days are on Wednesday, I missed p-day last week. The nice thing is that I now have p-day on Monday like a normal missionary, so we don't get judged for walking around the mall during the week. Most people don't realize that Temple Square missionaries have different p-days. Today we saw Elders (boy missionaries) at Walmart and I felt so out of place. I forgot they existed around us.

Last Wednesday Sister Burgoyne honorably finished her 19 months as a missionary, and went home. My trainer is now out there in the real world somewhere eating shoe-fly pie and hanging out with Michael Scott. Will you people make sure that she is okay? I miss her a lot.

I am no longer serving in the Beehive House, which makes me sad... It really was a cool place and I learned so much. Now we are in West Gate, which is the booth/information desk that manages all the tours. It's stressful and hectic in there, which is the opposite of Beehive House, but I love it. We are only there for four hours a week, so that's good. We still get to go out and talk to people on the square!

My new companion is Sister Desjourdy from Montreal, Canada. She is tall, has intimidating shoulders (her words not mine) and huge eyes. I was a little scared of her before we were companions, but she really is the best. She is hardworking, patient, and kind, even when things get frustrating. It's only been five days so far, but we get along splendidly. She speaks French, so we teach many people from random countries. I guess I never really realized just how many places in the world speak French; Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Haiti, Congo... Just yesterday we went to a baptism at the Swahili ward in Salt Lake City. Who would have ever thought?

At the baptism, I was talking to a brother about teaching the Gospel to people who don't have their physical needs met. It's something that I had been thinking about a lot. There isn't much monetary help that I can offer to the people that we meet all the time, and I feel awkward teaching offering spiritual help when really what they need is physically help. But this brother told me that while this is true- what we have to offer as LDS missionaries is pretty limited- the gift of the Holy Ghost is also everything. Through baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we have comfort. We have peace. We have hope. The Light of Christ is in everyone -- we all have a conscience and we all have good morals, but the Gift of the Holy Ghost is how we feel His presence. It was a good conversation, and I have a new resolve and passion for sharing what I have.

Speaking of, have you all seen this?

I love life, and Merry Christmas to you all.


 Japanese meeting+food
 Ironing board + scarf + art + QuebecoisIt's = Christmas decoration

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"The France Flag Looks Nothing Like The Mexico Flag"

Some strange things that happened this week: On Sunday night a group of young adults walked into the Beehive House. There was one guy and two really pretty girls. I don't know what the relationship was between them, but it was obvious that the guy was trying to impress one of them because kept trying to touch all the things behind the red ropes. There is a small rusty bell by the front door of the Beehive House that's pretty fragile due to it being the original bell that hung in the Young's home. We pointed to it and specifically said out loud, "this is the original bell, it's been here for 160 years", and what do you know? The young man reaches over and rings it. HE JUST REACHED OVER AND TOUCHED IT. Those girls had better been impressed, because he committed a big no-no for their sake.

Yesterday was mutual night, so all the Mormon youths ages 12-18 came to see the lights. Our district had the shift manning the theaters that were showing The Nativity. A group of teenage boys were gathered by us giggling and pointing. When they finally got the courage to go talk to my companion, they started asking her, "Who is that one really really cute missionary from France?" After much confusion and a lot of eye-rolling, she figured out that they were actually talking about Sister Lopez, who was wearing the Mexican flag under her name tag. 

Sometimes boys are stupid. 

But other times, they are not: Jorge from Peru has a baptismal date (Dec 12th, before Sister Burgoyne leaves)! And our 18 year old investigator (who still calls us ma'am) from Florida is meeting with the missionaries everyday! And The Chinese family that lives in LA who I wrote about last week is reading the Book of Mormon and loving it! I wish I could tell you all more, but I feel weird writing about the personal lives of these strangers... What are even the protocols of writing about your investigators during the mission? 

Each time we talk to these people I'm constantly amazed at how far these people progress on their own. The "Z" family from Xiamen/LA are especially amazing. We took them on a tour in Beehive during Thanksgiving, and when we called them this week, they had already been reading the Book of Mormon and loving it! They are excited to meet with the Chinese missionaries in LA once they finish traveling for Christmas break. Whooooooooo!!!!! 

Everyday I'm amazed that there are so many people prepared like these. I thought I was going to be fighting angry anti Mormons all day and getting my self esteem kicked in... But really, the world isn't so bad and scary. And the gospel of Jesus Christ really isn't as foreign and weird to most people like I thought it would be. 

Picture of the week: a tribute to my trainer who is going home soon. RIP Sister Burgoyne, the whitest person that speaks fluent Spanish. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

"Belated Birthday Baptisms"

On Thursday, thanksgiving day, our mission president told us to call our non-American investigators. So we did. And we got in touch with our investigator in the UK who we hadn't been able to get in touch with in a couple of weeks. The last time we called her, she was meeting with the missionaries in her area. This time we found out that she got baptized and confirmed on November 22nd (my birthday!) and she was on her way to the temple. Cool.

Every thanksgiving, members living near Salt Lake City sign up to feed the temple square missionaries. We went to the home of the Scott family, who we had never met before. The food was amazing, but it was even more amazing to teach sitting down in a real living room. Brother Scott, Sister Scott, their son, their neighbor Charles, and Sister Burgoyne and I went around and each said what we were grateful for.Charles had lost his wife just two days ago, and he shared his appreciation for the knowledge of the plan that God has for us. He said that he wouldn't know how to handle his wife's death if it weren't for what he learned from the missionaries 30 years ago. It really made me appreciate everything we know about life, death, and after death because of the scriptures.

On Friday the Christmas lights at Temple Square all came on. Hoards of Utahans came running to the grounds. There were screaming children, singing children, and crying children everywhere. Every single person that came to talk to us was looking for the bathroom, or wanting to practice their Japanese because they had served there many years ago. It's insane but exciting to see so many people to talk to. It's also a little funny to me to think that just a couple of months ago, these crowds were Chinese tourists, European backpackers, and Midwestern retirees. Now it's young blonde families and college couples. Although there aren't as many nonmembers to teach, we have run into so many broken-hearted Mormons that really need spiritual rejuvenation. There really is so much work to do and people to uplift (especially) in the heart of Mormonlandia. All of you, go befriend a sad person this Christmas season!

In other news, I have my first real Chinese investigators! More details to come (if it works out and they pick up the phone) in a later e-mail!

I still can't quite get over how awesomely international this mission. So far we have taught people from the UK, Uganda, Lebanon, Czech Republic, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Italy, Peru, Guatemala, and Texas. Now if only all of these people were to get baptized... That would be out of this world.

Pictures:Morning run in the first snow of the year!