Aunt Amy-- the fish balls here do not taste better than the ones you made (compliment ;) )
Let me tell you what the church is like. The ward is pretty small. The chapel is pretty small with wooden benches to sit on. There is one in Young Womens and about 20 women in relief society. And I think the elders are about the same, however there are 2-3 young men. Everyone is super sweet. There are many less active members; most of them are either too busy or have a small problem with the word of wisdom. But they are all such genuine good people. We usually attend the Gospel Principles class with our investigators. During the week we hold an English class, which always has a good turn out! It is a district activity (we take turns teaching) and around 5-10 people come every time! This last time was fun because we were learning about health and fitness, and the missionaries teaching bought a bunch of tim tams to sip through (not healthy). This Saturday we will have a FHE activity with pizza, and the missionaries are in charge of putting together the game (relay thing with oreos and chocolate and shaving cream and ballons= idea). One member is 19 and saving up to go to BYU-H, so we are excited that we will still be able to see each other after my mission (I will still be able to use Cantonese!).
Night has been so cold... I bought two huge blankets and already have 2 dubets(?) under those. And I wear a scarf and coat to bed. Missionaries here tend to stay in the same area for like half their mission. Long periods of time. I think that is cool, because you really form a close relationship with your ward and area. We have zone conference every month I think. Church is all in Cantonese. In our area, there are no mandarin wards. The Mandarin elders just go to whichever ward they choose (if there is an investigator attending so they can translate, etc). My companion is able to give the Filipino sisters referrals sometimes. Many Filipinos work here with little knowledge of Cantonese. They love talking to my companion.
This week I have really learned the importance of diligence! I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows I can do hard things. I am thankful that I can learn this language and communicate effectively to get to know and trust these people. They are so great.
This week has been great. I think one of the most important things is just to stay positive. Through every thing that happens, as long as you are positive and smiling you can make any situation funny/ happy. It has been so fun to really reflect every day and think about who we should reach out to/ serve more.
Our ward is so special. The members (relief society especially) really work hard at making others feel welcome. We had a Relief Society BBQ on Saturday. It was so cold (probably around 40 degrees F)!!! Yet three Relief Society sisters still came and put so much effort into it (4 of our friends interested in the church attended). They all are so loving and caring and always look for more opportunities to make these people feel welcome. They even gave us warm coats because we have been freezing this past week! We baked them cookies for Sunday because we just appreciate them so much. It is really so neat to watch the unity of the ward grow, and to know that they are pray for the people we visit. They inspire me :) It reminds me of what we learned at the training meeting-- we are not missionaries assigned to a ward; we are members of this ward who happen to have a calling as a full-time missionary.
Our investigators are so amazing. Genuinely good people. One is 80 years old, and she has such a hard time walking. At the BBQ she fell into the bushes and hurt her hand (she is always seeing the doctor for something). She shuffles around, and it takes forever for her to get to church. Her faith is inspiring; she goes through so much effort to be righteous and although she forgets a lot of things, she just wants to follow Christ and be the best that she can be. On Sunday we walked her all the way to church in the 32 degree F rainy weather. She forgot her false teeth, had a tiny jacket, and had to leave an hour later to meet her brother-in-law who is visiting, but still pushed forward and went to Sacrament. She is so cool. One member who hasn't been to church in 10 years, came to church the other day. She says that we are the only family she has (she loves to give us tons of food to bring home and gives little gifts to give to the primary kids. She also made me a scarf). She loves the members as well. She simply needs support.
It is really neat to see the faith of so many people. Sometimes our investigators or members will call us or text us and ask us to pray for them in a situation. They know the power of prayer. They know that Heavenly Father genuinely listens and will answer the prayers as needed. I love prayer. It is so essential. I've witnessed so many miracles, as I try to pray for the needs of others and to really ponder on what more I can do to serve all those around me. I've not only been able to learn of myself and develop the divine traits Heavenly Father has given me (patriarchal blessing), but I have been able to really gain insight on others lives and build their trust and to uplift them. It is so meaningful to me. These people are so meaningful to me. I'm thankful for this opportunity to grow and to become what He wants me to be, and to get to know/ help some of His children who are so special to Him. I enjoy this mission so much; every moment, the ups and the downs. His guidance and His work are truly a blessing.
Thank you all for the prayers. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing those I am working with and strengthening our ward because of your faith. And I know that your families will be strengthened as well. You are all so great.
Our members care about us... They forced us to wear/ gave us these pants and socks and jackets because it was SO COLD. We happily accepted their offer, even though the clothing combination looks hilarious.