Thursday, March 27, 2014

Transfer 4 week 5

Starting off with some of my favorite quotes of the week:
Sister Yeung: "I will go, I will doooo, the things by body commands!" She realllly had to go to the bathroom! hahaha
Our Recent Convert (alan): "I hope in Heaven I get to play basketball with the Elders, that's heaven to me." So sincere. 
My absolute favorite of the week is by Elder Guo, stay tuned for the story later in my letter.
This has been a great and verrry full week! I will try to share all the highlights that I can. Both Saturday and Sunday were packed absolutely FULL with teaching, which is my favorite. I love being in the office and analyzing the numbers, but there is nothing greater than teaching and testifying.
Saturday we called one of our investigators Yisai (pronounced I-say). I've had him for awhile now, and the whole time I was teaching him I thought he was from China, so I thought "Perfect! Now I have a Mandarin speaking companion and he will understand more fully what we share with him!" Uhh... nope. After he made us play a long guessing game of where he is from, we find out he is from Tonga! Everything made so much more sense after we found that out. Then we invite him to go to church the following day and he says so calmly, "yeahhhh, I guess I will. Since I'm supposed to get the Priesthood tomorrow anyway, I guess I'll go." Isn't is great when you find out that your investigator got baptized 3 weeks ago and decided not to tell you? Especially since we had taught him 3 times since he has gotten baptized. Frustrations of a Temple Square missionary.
Sunday was one of the greatest days on my mission! We had gotten a new investigator, Hanz, last week. And he was leaving back home for Chicago on Tuesday. So we felt the impression to invite him to come to our ward with us on Sunday, and he said yes! Even when we told him that it starts at7:30am. He came, and although he didn't understand much of what the sisters were saying, he definitely felt the spirit. After the opening hymn, he looked at me in awe and said "wow, is it always like that?" I simply replied "yes. Always." He was brought to tears in the musical number as well. He is very in tune with the spirit, and recognizes it easily. We took him to music and the spoken word directly after and he LOVED it! Hymns hymns and more hymns. He didn't want to leave after that, so instead we sent him to the theater here and played Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration. Only one of the all time greatest church movies. Shortly after we had staff meeting with the mission presidency and APs. At this meeting we present the numbers of the mission and discuss how we can help the mission progress. And as President Harmon said "We knocked it out of the park." I just love analyzing numbers! We had a very special experience after that. Because our mission boundries are literally inside the gates of Temple Square, we don't have any members or wards where we can go to their homes. But because there is a young Chinese boy, Scott Walker, who was adopted and doesn't speak any English, we are able to go to their house. We went and taught with the Elders there in their home. Just a different experience! This is the family that has 18 kids. They're superstars. We also get to have dinner when we go to their house, and boy was that great! Not only to be in a home, but to be in the Walkers home. Every time that I come in contact with them, I am changed. The way they have unconditional love to anyone they come in contact with is just astounding. We arrived back to the Square just in time to meet up with Amir and Maryam at the square. Maryam is Amir's wife who is FINALLY in the Unites States! It was so great to meet her. We asked her how she had felt about what Amir had shared with her about the church and she said "I like a lot, but not ready to jump board get baptized like Amir. I need learn more." But we are so grateful to be teaching a lot of families right now. We know that Amir and Maryam will one day be sealed in the Temple, and become an eternal family. That they will have the desire to keep learning and growing each day of their lives. And I couldn't ask for better people to teach. Our next big appointment on Sunday was with Zhu Yue and Yun Fung, they are some of our investigators that come to the Square with the Chinese Elders and we teach them together here. The lesson went great and we were able to find a lot of their concerns, but unfortunatly the lesson got over about 30 minutes later than we planned.. which means we got left at the square without any other sisters to walk home with. The Elders Guo, Shiuh and Chau knew this and Elder Guo said "Do you sisters need a man to walk you home?" HAHA! Then Elder Shiuh said "Well, not us!" haha they are so funny. They are some of my favorite Elders that come to the Square. Well moral of the story is, don't get left behind on the square because then you'll have to interrupt your roommates precious planning time to grab a car and come pick you up. 
Tuesday I had another crazy experience with my BOM reading coming to life on the Square. I was reading in Helaman 8-9, where Nephi is telling them that he is a prophet of God called to declare speedy repentance unto these people. But, just like in every dispensation, the people rejected the prophet. He prophesied unto them that they would find their chief judge laying in a pool of his blood. They stated "now we will know of a surety whether this man be a prophet... we do not believe that he hath.. nevertheless, if this thing which he said... (is) true, we will believe." But even when they found the chief judge laying in his blood they did not believe. Nephi had to give unto them another sign, and finally a group of them believed him to be a prophet of God. There are so many times where people are so hard-hearted where they won't even recognize or acknowledge a sign when it hits them in the face. I had an experience Tuesday night where I was on exchanges with my District Leader, Sister Walsh from England, who is very shy and timid. we had not had too much success contacting and we only had a short time left before we had to return home. We see a man looking at the Temple Model, we get talking and find out that he's a scientist from Germany. He was quick to tell us many things that he disagreed with in our religion, and ended with "I believe in science, physical evidence, not God." Sister Walsh started replying very softly and kind. But then I remembered an experience that a friend of mine, Elder Reed serving in Africa, had wrote about in his weekly email. How a man was trying to weaken their testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but Elder Reed stood his ground and testified so boldly and straightforward how the Gospel has changed his life. And I felt that this was the opportune moment for me to do so as well. I somewhat interrupted Sister Walsh, got right up close in his face, looked him dead in the eye and bore my testimony the most boldly I have thus far on my mission. I told him "You know what, we volunteer 18 months of our lives to come and share with you what we know to be true, and I wouldn't be standing here today if I simply just believed this was true. I know that God is real! That us being here on the Earth isn't by chance, but for a greater purpose. I know that we were meant to meet today so that we could share this message with you, to share that we know this Gospel is true. And I want you to know that I know that Joseph Smith received an answer to his prayer, that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And I know that you can know these things too if you would humble yourself enough to recognize God's influence all around you." The spirit was absolutely burning inside me! I crave that feeling. And this man and Sister Walsh looked at me in complete awe, I could feel the spirit radiating from me. I have never been so bold in my mission, and it felt GREAT! I know that this man would not have accepted physical evidence of God. But I know that he felt the spirit as we testified to him, and I pray he will never forget that feeling. I want to be as Nephi, "unwearyingness declaring the word... thou hast not heard them (man).. but sought my will.. and now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever." (Helaman 10:4-5). I want to be as Nephi and have unwearyingness in the work. To have power and authority in my words and to have people recognize me as a disciple of Jesus Christ. And I know that God will give us strength and authority in our words as we open our mouths. We can't be scared to share what we believe, because I can promise you that the Lord will strengthen you. We alone are not enough, but "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13).
I had another great experience while on exchanges with Sister Lampinen this week. But unlike the exchange with Sister Walsh, we were having great success all day! We had gotten a hold of all of our investigators that we had planned to teach, were able to contact new investigators and had taken 2 tours in the morning! We each had gained 4 new investigators! We had just an hour left and we were ready to see another miracle. We got a text for a tour and I knew that was going to be it. We took it and met our victims.. muhaha! It ended up being two old ladies and one of their sons, who reeked of alcohol. "Hmm... Heavenly Father? This wasn't what we asked for." But boy where we wrong! The older ladies were very religious and were so interested in learning more about the church. We had taken them around for a little while and we decided to end at the Christus. They loved and knew all the scriptures in the audio. Sister Lampinen bore her testimony and definitely brought the spirit, and I just fed off that spirit and added my testimony. I looked each one of them in the eyes and felt that same burning inside me as I did with the German man. I didn't want to stop! I must have been testifying to them for 10 minutes, and not one of them even blinked. They felt it. And this is the best time to invite them to learn more, but they kindly rejected. Normally, I would be really hurt by this response, feeling like I didn't do enough. That in our purpose as missionaries to "invite others to come unto Christ byhelping them receive the restored Gospel..." I only invited, but didn't help them. But I didn't feel that this time, I felt that this was a successful tour even without them referring to learn more. Sister Lampinen and I talked afterward and we knew that something had changed inside them, that their fire was rekindled. They re-committed themselves to follow our Savior Jesus Christ. And this brings them one step closer to accepting the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I want to testify about the power a testimony has. No matter how strong your testimony is, it is yours! Even on my mission I have felt extremely inadequate because I felt like my testimony wasn't strong enough. That I don't know enough. But now I know that whatever seed you have planted is enough to testify. That Heavenly Father knows what I am capable of, and he wouldn't call me here if my testimony wasn't enough. President Poulsen said in Zone Conferences (when I was on medical leave), that "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second best time is now." My seed started growing only 2 years ago, but I know that as we constantly nourish it with the power of prayer, scripture study, church and application, that our seed can grow as fast as we allow it. Heavenly Father WANTS us to grow and gain experience, our only limitation is as we succumb to the natural man within. Be strong in the Lord, and grow your seed! I can promise each of you that your seed is enough, and that it has the power to plant other seeds.
I love you all, and I hope this email makes sense. I always have so much to say but so little time! I enjoy hearing from you all, please email/write me to let me know how you are doing. 
Countdown: 15 days until conference!!! :)
Best regards,
Sister Brock

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Transfer 4, feels like week 2, actually week 4

To be completely honest, I had my companion type that. I have only learned my name in Mandarin. And that's because I got to (kind of) pick how to translate Brock... I picked Boo.
Well I arrived safe and sound back on the beautiful Temple Square this last Sunday! And I was scared out of my mind. My heart and mind desperately wanted to come back, but I wasn't sure if my body was. Well ready or not, I came and got right into it! Sunday we had such a successful day, shortly after I arrived we had a mandarin lesson on the square (my first one!) and oh boy was that great! Her name is Zhu Yue. She is one of our investigators who we have been teaching for awhile, but this was the first lesson that her husband attended too. She has such a strong testimony but is nervous to get baptized, so we're working with her a lot. We also took a mandarin tour of 8 people and they all got book of Mormons and referred! But they are heading back to mainland China soon, so we won't be able to teach them after that.
Monday we were analyzing numbers all morning, and then took an investigator lesson. That's where other Salt Lake missions bring their investigators to Temple Square and we teach them together. And that went really well! When missionaries do that, it's usually to set a baptismal date, because the spirit is always so strong here. So we get to see a lot of people accept baptismal dates! Though I think it's pretty weird when the local missionaries want us to invite their investigators to be baptized... just my opinion. We were then heading to lunch when we passed someone asking the sisters at the desk for a tour, and without processing what I was saying I somewhat screamed "We'll take it!" She was from Brazil but was visiting for her friend's temple marriage. The wedding was in Wyoming, but she decided to stay a few extra days and come to Salt Lake City. And boy was that an AMAZING tour! Her name is Gabriela, and she is prepared by God to hear this Gospel. We taught her all about the Temple, and taught her the restoration. She got a Portuguese book of Mormon and wants to meet with local missionaries! We are also going to be teaching her over the phone. Oh yeah, and she accepted baptism on the tour. She's golden.
Tuesday we also got a hold of one of my favorite investigators, Juanita! She has been having a lot of health problems, but thankfully she is doing much better this week! We went over baptismal interview questions with her and she is solid, so ready to get baptized! And her husband just started meeting with the local missionaries too. She's a great grandma (which totally surprised me) and wants to take all of her grand kids to primary! haha she's great.
Wednesday I had my return doctor's appointment! I know my mom has been waiting for this... she wanted Sister Poulsen to call her and give her the update because "What if I can't wait until Friday?" Well it was a total of a 4 minute appointment, and most of the time was spent removing my steri-strips. Everything is looking real good! Thankfully this scar isn't as thick as a lot of my other scars. It is about 6 inches long though and dis-formed my belly button... but who needs that anyway? One downfall is that I think they cut through some of my nerves and I lost feeling in about a square inch of my stomach. But other than that everything is going great! I am pretty much off my medication, because I can't drive when I'm on it. And have had a great balance this week of sitting either in our office or the teaching center and being on the square. On Wednesday we tried to contact a lot of our referrals because it is a goal to have contacted them all by conference. So one of them I called is named Caroline, I met her friend on the Square last transfer and he referred her. I finally got a hold of her! I was extremely awkward on the phone (as usual) but she still was willing to learn more about the Gospel. I'm excited to teach her, she lives in Salt Lake, she is in high school and she is blind. I'm excited to see how she progresses.
Thursday was a packed full day! We took a bunch of tours, Mandarin, Cantonese and English (almost caught a German one too!). And we have been handing out Book of Mormon's like crazzzy this week, probably close to 30. One Cantonese tour we took was one of the coolest teaching experiences I've ever had. (btw, everyone who knows Cantonese also knows English. People in Hong Kong learn Cantonese, Mandarin and English in school). This man's name is Han Zao Lin (I like to call him Hanz, like from the movie Frozen) and he is from Southern mainland China, but studies now in Chicago. He told us within the first few minutes of meeting him that he is searching for a church, "well great we can help you with that!" We started off with teaching him a few of our basic beliefs, and then taught him the restoration. I was bearing testimony about how he would feels God's love more by reading the Book of Mormon than by any other book, and he then responded "How does God's love feel?" Well surprising this is the first time I've ever been asked this on my mission, and it definitely caught be off guard! But truly the holy spirit guides, and I gave a short but powerful testimony of how I feel God's love. The spirit was so strong! And he told us he wants to feel God's love like we do, and that he wants to read the book of Mormon. We are going to be teaching him over the phone. But this experience really got me thinking, what does God's love feel like? I feel like for me, it's the unexplainable joy and endless hope for a brighter future. When you feel happy and you don't know exactly why, other than there is so many blessing in your life that you just KNOW that God has a very special plan for you. And you know that no matter what happens, it's for the better, because it's all a part of God's plan, and his plan is always far better than ours. I have a confident testimony in God's plan for me. I have had some pretty extreme ups and downs in my life, times where I have felt like I am at the top of the world and times where I feel like nothing is going right. And I never understood for a long time why that was, why couldn't I just have an average life where I don't have to worry about the next downfall? But when I was in the MTC we watched a Mormon Message entitled "The Will of God" ( it is my absolute favorite video ever, so please take a moment and watch it. I saw this during one of my ups, when I was flying high on the spirit in the MTC. And it really humbled me, made me realize that these things happened to me so that I could be built up the way that my Father in Heaven intends me to. And ever since, when I've had a hard time, I am grateful. Because I know that this is my chastening, to become more of who my Father in Heaven wants me to be. I know that God has a great plan for me! And that these ups and downs are going to help me to become better, stronger and strengthen my testimony of the Atonement. I know that this surgery was to help me become better. I had a realization last week. I realized how quickly I went back to the person I was before my mission, not utilizing the time I had to study the scriptures, lounging around, and using immature language. I am grateful that I had this experience, it motivated me to ensure a lasting change from my mission. I don't want to go back to who I was, I want to be better, stronger, and firmer in my testimony and personal conversion. And now is the time to do so! I love this Gospel more than anything, and I am not willing to give it up so easily.
This morning we got to go to the Temple, which is always a great experience. There is no place that I feel closer to God than in the Temple, the house of the Lord. Sister Yeung and I stayed in the Celestial room for over an hour, we decided to do our companionship study in there. Needless to say, it was the best companionship study yet! Then shortly after we started emailing, our recent convert, Brother Ling, came to the Square. So we went to go meet up with him, and he brought a friend along! We now have a new investigator :) Can I just say that absolutely all Chinese people love me? And that is not an exaggeration.

I want to share a part of my study journal with you from this past week. (Helaman ch.12)
This chapter is typically know for verse 12, about building your foundation on the gospel of Jesus Christ. But for now I would like to focus on verses 34-52. It starts off with a cloud of darkness that surrounds the wicked people of the Lamanites and one Nephite by birth, named Aminadab. They are very frightened, but Aminadab beheld Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, through the darkness because of their glowing countenances. In his own words, "they did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of angels... (and) they did lift their eyes to heaven." I can just imagine this glorious moment that Aminadab beheld, it was so miraculous that Aminadab called unto the Lamanites to look and "behold the faces of Nephi and Lehi." He testified unto them that they are conversing with angels of God. The people then desired this cloud to fall away from them, and Aminadab said unto them that they must repent and have faith in Christ. They all began to cry mightily unto the Lord their God, and the cloud of darkness dispersed. "They were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory" because of repentance and faith in our Savior. They could not deny this physical evidence of which they had seen, and they began to bear record and testimony into the other Lamanites. And because of the greatness of the number of testimony's and witness's being shared. they were converted unto the Lord. I know that events in the scriptures can be replicated, even if not to a tee. Just yesterday I had a very similar experience. Sister Yeung and I took a tour of two women who were lawyers, the tour went very well and they both felt the spirit very strongly at the Christus. They both accepted book of Mormon's, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Sister Yeung and I were discussing how we thought the tour went when we noticed these tho ladies discussing something very intently, we wondered if it was about the things we shared. We decided to go up to them again and invite them to attend the organ recital. They were surprised at our reappearance. They said "we were just talking about you! We were so impressed at how you both conduct yourselves, and how much good you are doing in the world at such a young age." They noticed the glowing countenance that the gospel brings us. And although they may not yet be converted, we KNOW that they will never forget this experience and the feelings they had at Temple Square.They will go back to their homes and share of their experience with the disciples of Jesus Christ here at Temple Square. This happens so often here at Temple Sqaure, we begin the journey of someone's joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are so blessed to be a part of their first taste of the goodness of this Gospel.

I love teaching and testifying of the book of Mormon, there is not greater thing in the world to me.I treasure every moment I get to share a scripture with someone, whether it is their first time or their hundredth time, I know that the scriptures change lives! That the Book of Mormon will bring you closer to Jesus Christ than any other book. It has the power to change your life, I can testify of this because I am a result of it. The Book of Mormon has given me hope for a brighter future, it has given me a sure testimony that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves ME. If you haven't read the Book of Mormon yet, I invite you to do so, because I promise you that it will change your life.
I love you all and hope you have a joyous week.

Sister Brock

Unfortunately we didn't take many pictures this week. Caught up in the work! That's a good thing though right? Sister Yeung and I will try to do better next week.

I used one of our Senior Couples, the Curtis's, blanket in the hospital. I returned it to them when I came back on Sunday, and on Monday morning I found it back in my office with the words... "Courage, Sister Brock, Feb 2014" embroidered on it. They are my favorite! They spoil me.
And don't look at the second picture if you don't want to see my scar. This is Wednesday night after they took off my steri-strips. I washed off the gunk shortly after, and it is looking a lot better now. You can see how interesting my belly button looks now... hard to even find it!