Monday, July 25, 2011

Hello Again!

This week was really great. Brother (name) is doing really well. He's just about quit smoking, and he knows it's through the power of God he was able to do so in so short a time. He started smoking in middle school, and in the space of about a week and a half he was able to quit. When he was telling us about it the other day he started tearing up and he said he'd already thanked his Father in Heaven for giving him the strength to quit. This man is amazing, and he has such a desire to be baptized. I'm just blown away by the change that was wrought by the touch of the master's hand...I the Book of Mormon. Well, both. He's ready to be baptized on August 13 (he still needs to come to church a few more times).

We also found a pretty cool new investigator who is friends with a less active recent convert. Or should I say, Elder Zhou found him. He just started talking to this kid while I was making a call and it turns out he really wants to learn more and he came to church on Sunday. This week truly has been full of miracles...but I'm out of time! Resizing pictures takes a couple minutes.

Sorry the email is shorter. I love you all so much and I'll talk to you again next week--the first week of my tenth move call.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ahoy Thar!

Anyway, this week was really great. We really saw many abundant miracles from the Lord.

The biggest and most exciting of these miracles is Brother Wei. He's the friend of an active family, the Peng family. Brother Peng referred him to us before I even got here, and I met with him my first week in Tanzi. Over the course of a few meetings it seemed he just didn't have interest. He didn't desire to know whether what we taught was true. In the last week, we've seen a complete transformation. I don't even know where it came from, but about a week ago we met again as we happened to ride by and see him at Brother Peng's shop. We taught him that to develop faith he had to give it a try living the commandments, such as reading and praying, and see what the results are. He agreed to give it a shot. This Wednesday and Thursday we met again, and on Thursday he had not only read 2 Nephi 31 as we'd asked, but he'd marked it up, written notes, and told us how he felt it was directly applicable to his current situation. We asked if he'd be willing to be baptized and he said, "Of course!" That stunned me for a couple seconds, and when we recovered we helped him set a goal to be baptized.

Then on Saturday was another huge miracle. Elder Cocke (one of the Assistants to the President) was with us on exchanges and we taught Brother Wei the word of wisdom. He has a big smoking problem, but when we taught him that in order to be baptized and be in harmony with God's will he had to quit, he was willing. We asked him when he wanted to quit and Brother Peng's son (a deacon) piped up and said "Tomorrow!" in English. Brother Wei truly exercised his faith and agreed to quit smoking immediately. He says he wants to be baptized "The faster the better." Yesterday we talked to him and he said he did slip just a little and smoked two cigarettes that day, but that's a huge improvement from his one pack per day. I'm just in awe over the faith of this man, and he has a true and strong desire to be baptized on August 6.

I know why this all happened, and it's not because of anything we did. It's because Brother Wei was willing to read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon. He felt the Spirit testify to his soul that it is the word of God, and he had an immediate desire to do what Nephi directs by being baptized and enduring to the end. I am so grateful to our God for giving us this amazing book and His Holy Spirit, which together change hearts and lives. I know that anyone who is willing to do what Brother Wei did and humbly try planting the seed in their hearts will without a doubt come to feel that this is indeed the true gospel and church of Jesus Christ and have a desire to follow Him.

Well, now that I'm done with that long story you probably want to take a nap from the eye strain. That was the highlight of the week, really--seeing the complete change of heart in Brother Wei.

I love you all so much! Talk to you again next week!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Temple Day

Hello everybody! Boy oh boy, what a week it's been! I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

It's such a refreshing feeling to go to the temple, especially after a long time of not going. I suppose it's a little different as a missionary, but no matter who you are, attending the temple will refresh your soul.

So I have a really interesting story to tell this week. I'll start by saying that my companion's name is no longer Elder Chen. He's now Elder Zhou (sounds like Joe). He's no longer from YuanLin, but from Xi-Hu. No, he didn't get an identity change. Last Wednesday I got a call from one of the assistants to the President, and he asked to talk to my companion. After a twenty minute series of phone calls my companion came over to tell me that he had to return home that night. His parents, you see, did not know he was going to be a missionary. His dad filed a missing child report with the police and a detective had called the mission office thinking Elder Cocke (the assistant) had kidnapped my companion. He had to take him home and fill out some papers at the police station. I, meanwhile, had to go spend two nights with the Elders in Dakeng, the next area south of me.

We finally found a kid in the ward over there who was willing to be my companion for the weekend until the replacement could come, so I got to proselyte in Tanzi some more. Then on Monday the guy who was going to come be my companion kind of just decided he didn't want to come after all, so I had to go spend a night in Fengyuan (the area north of me--the other area in my district) while the assistants frantically searched for another replacement. Then on Tuesday morning Elder Zhou came up, and he plans to be here until the end of the move call.

What a crazy crazy week! But it's been an experience to remember, and I really feel like I've grown a lot in these weeks. The thing is, and I'll be honest with you all, it's not easy having a short term. All three of the short terms I've had have been awesome and have been able to teach me things and help our investigators progress. And yet they're not full time missionaries; they haven't had the training and experience most missionaries have had. I sort of have to make tough decisions all on my own. This has forced me to rely heavily on the Lord, even more than in the past. I feel like one thing the Lord is trying to do to me is make me less indecisive and force me to take the lead. That's certainly been one result of having this crazy situation with my companions. When I can't really discuss something with a companion, I always have my Father in Heaven who can guide me through the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Anyway, now that I've got my long-windedness off my chest, our investigators are doing well (few as they are). I really feel like we're about to see a few new investigators progress, so I'm really excited to see how that goes. (name), the one who was too unmotivated to eat, has started to feel the beginnings of a testimony. The main reason? He has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day. It's just that simple: the Book of Mormon has the power to change lives and soften hearts if we are just willing to humbly read it every day.

That's about all I have time for this week. I sure love you all! I'll send pictures from the temple trip next week. Did you get the big mission picture last week?

Love you all!