I almost forgot it was Valentine's day. I don't think they celebrate it here. We had a baptism on valentine's day :) Tuen Mun Ward's first baptism in 4 years, Sister Yan. The whole ward was so excited. We had a Young Man who is about to serve a mission baptize her. He is always involved at church (bearing testimony, going to activities etc) and is a new convert. It was his first time baptizing someone. The youth were so excited and he and Yan were both so nervous. Everyone was excitedly taking pictures with Yan like it was a photoshoot (not super irreverent though). Yan was under the water for quite a long time because they couldnt push her head under. But it was great.
For Chinese New Years last week it was pretty much very quiet with no people in the streets and a lot of the shops closed in the morning. It is one of the only times they have off work and everyone is visiting family or indoors with their family. People eat together and enjoy each others company. During the day you see a lot of families walking together to go somewhere. I don't know if there is more celebration in other areas.
We have Sister Training Leaders who are like zone leaders but for sisters. We do zone 24s, exchanging companions for a day for fun, so that people can learn from other areas and companionships and ways of doing things. Because we have so many sisters, the main rule is that sisters teach sisters, elders teach brothers. That's why all the investigators I tell you about are sisters.
Here is how we find people to teach: English class gets us investigators. We also have a large pool of less actives and former/ potential investigators to choose from. Less active work is huge in hong kong, generally because people become busy with work at some point or have problems with the word of wisdom. It isn't really like work for us, because these are people. It is nice to get to know people. (That doesn't mean that we don't get tired or that it isn't hard at times, lol).
Funny: Sometimes when we are out teaching, it feels like we spent the day shopping. The other day we came home with two big bags of clothes and two big bags of food from the different people we had visited that day. Of course, we give a lot of it a way (able to use it as an opportunity to serve/ give to others). Finding is a funny experience. Usually we simply find during travels, because we have a lot scheduled during the day. The other day we had a bit of free time to sit in the park. We sat next to a nice old man, and while we were talking to him, another person came up and started asking us about the church. The whole time we were sitting in the park, people just came up and talked to us and sat next to us after we would smile and wave to them and ask a question. It was very neat. One of them even came back and gave us New Years money packets because he was so pleased to meet us. It reminds me of our experience this whole time with investigators. They always call and schedule us. They tell us they miss us. They enjoy talking with us on the phone and hearing our prayers for them (one of them didn't even answer the phone for missionaries before, but now she trusts us and also likes phone prayers). They give us so many things. I think that as we really live the gospel and strive to have that perfect love for them, missionary work is made easy. It can be applied to anyone's life. Live as an example. Love those you are in contact with. Apply the principles of the gospel.
Irene is so special to us. Her family refuses to talk to her or visit her because they say she is crazy. She is not even allowed to visit her child. We celebrated New Years with her (cooked a bunch of food and ate it like a picnic), and after played her karaoke CD's on our mini dvd player (she does not have a CD player). She has been sad for so long (sick/ only friends are smokers as well, so she has been lonely/ no job), but was so happy as we listened to her sing. It was really nice to see. We are supporting her to quit smoking. We also know that going to church will help her to feel better (peace, health) and to receive personal inspiration for finding work. She finally really was excited to come to church and make friends and support. She got lost on the way there though. I am so happy to see her begin to be happy again.
It is so true that the best way to gain your own testimony is to share it. When we listen to our friends who are interested in the gospel and ask them inspired questions, they begin to comprehend the gospel in their own way; as they share their feelings/ testimonies, they receive a confirmation of the truth of it. They grow in testimony. It is special to witness.
Sister Wan is so great. She really just wants to help and serve others. Despite how little she may have, she simply thinks of the needs of others, and in turn is so happy. She and Yan have supported each other throughout the whole process of learning of the Gospel. When Yan was unsure about baptism, Sister Wan just happened to show up randomly at the church that day (we hadn't been able to find her or get ahold of her for a week and had been praying to find her). God answers prayers in His own ways. It was funny because she barged in during the lesson and excitedly said that the Gospel finally clicked for her and that she wanted to be baptized (missionaries have been visiting her for a couple years now, and she had never had the desire before). Her excitement and testimony she shared during that lesson, allowed Yan to realize it wasn't scary or impossible. Since then, Yan's strong will to go to church and to keep commitments have been an example to Sister Wan as well. Sister Wan was able to attend Yan's baptism yesterday, and I could see the love that she had for Yan. She cannot stop asking about when her baptism date is now-- so excited. It has been amazing to witness the miracles involved in one individuals life. In one individual's conversion. We have seen each investigator really grow in the Gospel and in testimony, confidence, happiness. They feel the love that we have for them. They feel the light and example of Christ that we pray so fervently to be worthy of. This past week was Chinese New Years; Yan was with her family, and we hadn't been able to meet with her. We then lost contact with her on Thursday. We did not lose faith in her. The zone kept her in their prayers. I received the comforting witness in my prayers that she would show up to church on Sunday, despite not being able to get ahold of her. I knew that she would. Words cannot explain how happy I was when I saw her walk up to the chapel doors. I could not stop smiling and hugging her. She is now committed to follow Christ's path. It was such a special day.
The funny thing is, Yan has had this emoji face that she has been obsessed with since we first knew her. She loves to draw it and thinks it is so funny. Sister Wan just happened to bring the exact face in the form of a pillow to church the day of Yan's baptism and wanted to give it to us (didn't know about Yan liking it). The only difference is this face is smiling. I think it will be the perfect memory of her baptism, and kind of represents that now she is made clean and happy. Little inspired things.
Sister Choi will be getting baptized next week. She has been falling a lot, and keeps having to see the doctor. But despite everything, she still makes it a priority to come to church (this week, her grandson was leaving to study in Taiwan on Sunday, but she still came to church before having to go to the Hong Kong side). I think she is exhausted though, because she kept falling asleep.
My companion, Sister Villasin, is amazing. I am so glad she has been my trainer. She is so committed to the love of the investigator's. I think one of the most important things to remember is to Teach People, not Lessons. She has been such an example with that. I have confidence that our success is because of that. We really get to know and love each person that we meet, whether it be finding in the park or visiting a less active. Serving them allows us to really see their worth as God's children. They become such important individuals to us. And that allows us to understand their needs and apply the gospel to their lives; the principles are applicable to every challenge and need.
We are on this earth to be tested. Jesus Christ has walked the path before us, so that we can know the exact way to go. Success and exaltation has been made simple. We must simply follow Him. I am so thankful for my Savior. I love my Father in Heaven, and cannot wait to live with Him again with eternal light and glory and happiness. We can achieve anything we set our minds to; His kingdom can be reached, and it will be. :)
Someone fixing a light/ where we were sitting in the park