Monday, June 2, 2014

June 1, 2014

We had another busy week. Hard to believe that another week has gone by! That seems to be my experience as time has went by on my mission.

So this week was tough, had some really good experiences though. Some that are challenging me to become a better teacher and missionary, so it is exactly what i needed. There are two experiences that come to mind. The first was that we went and met Vicky during her work break. It was a good lesson, but we finally got to the bottom of her concern. She just won't come to church and we couldn't figure out why. As we talked, we figured out that she wants it to just feel right before she comes to church. She doesn't want it to be forced. She is willing to put in some effort, like meeting with us and reading a bit from the book of Mormon, but as far as church, she isn't quite ready to make that leap of faith. I felt like we explained very clearly how church could help her, but she just wasn't willing. English work has been soooo great to me. It is so liberating being able to say anything I want in a english lesson versus chinese. But with that is coming this sort of frustration when our investigators still don't seem to grasp it. So I am buckling down and working a lot on my teaching skills. Hoepfully the added work and effort will help us convey the spirit and let it teach.

The other difficult lesson that we had this week was with Warren and Briggite. They are very active in the Jehovahs Witness church and our doctrines are different. They know the Bible incredibly well and pull out lots of Old Testamnet scriptures I have never heard of to make their points. Its good, but I am not used to having an investigator with such a deep understanding of the Bible. We explained a lot about the reason for the Book of Mormon and the Plan of Salvation. They were very skeptical and didn't think that it was true. The light of the lesson was that they said that they would honestly try and read the Book Of Mormon and ask God if it was true. In the meantime, they asked us that we find and note the scriptures in the Book of Mormon that support the doctrine for the Plan of Salvation. Again, such a blessing to me, because the research is strenghting my testimony as well. Hopefully the research will help them as well. pray for Warren and Brigitte! 

Even with some difficult lessons, we had some real miracles happen as well. We were able to teach Ben and Sarah this week and it was such a cool experience. We taught them the commandment of tithing. As we began to read the promise of tithing in Malachai, Ben was able to quote it from memory. He taught us about the importance of tithing and giving! haha. It was insane! Both were more than willing to keep that commandment. We also went over the baptismal interview questions with them and it amazed me at the level of understanding both have and the strength of their new testimonies. They will be baptized June 15. Such an awesome family and experience in getting to teach them.

We had one other surprise this week! On friday, we got a call from our mission president and he told us that he had an assignment for us. Personally I get really nervous every time I hear that because the last time I heard that, I was moving into the office... haha. But he told us about a missionary on his way home, but has some visa issues and will be stuck in Hong Kong for the next week. He doesn't know Cantonese obviously, so he is in a tripanionship with us until he gets the visa thing worked out. His name is Elder Davies and is a good missionary from the mission in Bagiou, Philippines. It has been fun having him with us. All the filipinas here love him since he speaks tagalog. This assignment has been pretty fun!

That about sums up the week. Of course more happens in the week than I can write. hope all is well.

Happy Dragon Boat Festival! Going to watch the races today for P-Day!

Elder Woodburn

May 25, 2014

Another Solid week! We had some really good things happen for us. I was thinking about it last night before I went to bed just how awesome it is to be a missionary. I'll try and recap the week for you.
So Tuesday, Elder Lau and I were on the western side of the island trying to do some finding and we got caught in some yellow rain, which is pretty bad rain. To make things worse, Elder Lau didn't have an umbrella and mine got broke from the winds. So we ran to the nearest bus stop to try and get out of the rain. We found the bus stop and tried to use the little overhang to shield us from the rain, but the rain wasn't coming from above, it was blowing in from the sides. The buses got backed up because of the weather so we sat and waited while we just got drenched! I felt bad for Elder Lau, he was so wet. We both were. by the time the bus came, it looked more like we went swimming than got caught in a rainstorm. Got to love it. I have been yelled at, rained on, and burped at. haha I really do love being a missionary.
Wednesday was a solid day as well. We went do service in Kwai Hing. The program is called soap cycling. They collect used soap from hotels and then we scrap off the top layers and make sure it is clean and good to use. They then send it to countries who are in need like the Philippines, Africa, and parts of China. It is a good way to share the gospel as well. We were able to talk with the manager of the place and we had a really good gospel conversation. What i learned from that was just that if you want to share the gospel, serve! It is easy to do and is well worth the time and effort. We were also able to visit Tomo at the Tai families place again this week. He seems to be doing really well. It is a difficult teaching situation for us, since we need a translator to speak Japanese, but we are working around that. We are using lots of object lessons to help him see and understand as well as just listening. Sister Tai says that it is helping him a lot. So we are glad to see that he is progressing. He has made good friends with people at church. A surprisingly large number of members in the branch know Japanese and are making him feel at home.
We were able to meet with Vicky twice this week. We had a really good talk about the difference between Jesus Christ and Prophets. She has some great questions. Then we met her again on Sunday. Connie Zhang, a member in the branch had us over for dinner along with Vicky and we had a discussion for her afterwards. It was probably one of the best lessons I have had on my mission. I think everyone there was feeling it. We talked about the necessity for a restoration and what it means to us to have the blessings that come from following Jesus Christ in His restored church. I really was an awesome experience. Sister Zhang is an awesome fellowshipper and can relate to Vicky so well. Only problem is that they are moving back to the states in a few weeks. So we are on the lookout for another fellowshipper that can help us teach as Vicky progresses in the gospel.
Sonu is also doing great as ever! He was elected as his Universities student body president. he is a little stressed about the job, but he is figuring things out. We were able to help him and talk through some things as well. I feel like Sonu is such a great friend to us, not just an investigator. We started teaching him commandments and he is loving it. Everything is really making sense to him. He is already having experiences with prayer and the Book of Mormon. He says that he knows it is true and that he feels at home when he attends church. Thats music to our ears! It has been a really good experience getting to teach Sonu the gospel.
Ben and Sarah are also just doing awesome! We met them at their house this week, along with another young family in the branch, the Channers. We had an awesome visit with them. They are on track to be baptized on June 15. Both are seeing how the gospel is helping them in all facets of their life and are really soaking it up. Ben is hilarious guy. They have a roommate that lives with them as well. His name is Kamara and he is from Africa as well. We were focusing a lot on Ben and Sarah, but Kamara was there as well. I noticed how happy he was that Ben and Sarah were getting baptized, so we turned to Kamara and asked if he would be baptized as well. He immediately said he would. It was awesome! So we are now working with Kamara to achieve his goal of being baptized on July 27! Funny how blessings come as we work hard and recognize opportunity.
Sunday was a really awesome day all around. The branch president challenged the whole branch to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. the best part about it was that as we talked with our investigators that were there, they wanted to take the challenge too! After the block schedule, we had what they called a "linger longer". There was food and everyone was there. It was great for us because the ward did a great job of talking with our investigators and helping them feel at home! They are building a base in church with the members and that is key for when they are baptized. If they feel like they are a part, they will stick around. Retention is key. the sense of family will only help. I think we are getting that in our branch here in Hong Kong!
Really was a week of great things. Wish i could rely it all to you. but trust me that we are staying busy and working our tails off.
Love you!
Elder Woodburn

May 18, 2014

Another awesome week here! Mothers day last week was great getting to hear from everyone! Sounds like life just keeps going for everyone. When I first started my mission i didnt really like the idea that things really would go on without me, but now hearing just how great things are, it makes me happy to know that life goes on and life is good!
Like I said, we had an awesome week! The big events that stand out is that we were able to meet with Brigitte and Warrens family twice this week. They are the refugees from Rwanda that are waiting to be relocated by the UN. We were able to visit their family and teach a really awesome discussion about the Restoration and the meaning it gives our lives. we discussed a lot about priesthood authority and the importance that has in Christ's church. They seemed to really get it. I haven't ever met someone so well read in the Bible! As we talked about certain principles, Warren was able to pull out scriptures from memory that pertained to the topic. It was a really awesome experience. We gave them both a Book of Mormon and they are reading dilligently! They also have two small kids Elva who is 7 and Kendra who is 5, and they are the cutest kids ever! Really well behaved and love to play. They know a family that is in our branch actually and they had us all over for dinner on Saturday. Itwas such a crazy fun experience. The Hawkins, the family that had us over, also have two kids about the same age as Elva and Kendra so it made for a lot of noise and playing, but it was so fun! After dinner we talked about how the Book of Mormon supports the truth found in the Bible. Turns out that Warren had read all of the into, 3anditnesses as well as the first few chapters in Nephi. he is loving what he is learing and we will continue to help them know more as a family. It is a really awesome experience.
The other family that we are teaching is Benjamin and Sarah. Ben is from Lyberia in Africa and Sarah is a native from HK. They were married a few months back. they are doing really well too! They are on track to be baptized in a few weeks. We were able to go with them to another families house and eat dinner as well. It was a great dinner and we had a really great discussion about how keeping commandments has helped build a solid base for family. I think it really helped apply why we keep commandments and what it can do for us. It helped because we had just taught the Word of Wisdom to the both of them and they were a little reluctant to give up tea. Both have a strong testimony already of Joseph Smith and his role in the restoration, so we were able to tie that in with following the commandment. Again, just a great lesson and we are seeing so much progress with them. More importanintly, is they are seeing the change in their life. The gospel changes lives!
The other experience that Elder Lau and I had this week was that we helped another member move this week. Nothing crazy was quite the project. They moved to a place called Lamma Island which is only accesible by boat and then there are no cars on the island, only these small 4wheeler things they call "villigae vehicles". So the hard part was getting everything loaded on and off a boat and then getting the stuff to the place itself. We got the village vehicle all loaded up but then there was no room for us, so we had to walk 45 minutes to their place. It was pretty hot and humid, but it was a really awesome little walk. Lamma Island has somehow been shielded from all the noise and pollution that is found and HK, so it was our time to enjoy fresh air and a cool view. I have found real joy in helping others not only learn the gospel, but in just helping period. I think everyone needs that in life. Everyone has a need to help, to give. Its something we can all do and it really will lead you to live a happier life.
We are staying busy and thats what i like. we are working, thats for sure! Really loving every day. I hope things back home are the same.
Elder woodburn

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4, 2014 - Big week

We had an awesome week, serioulsly it flew by. we worked really hard and we are seeing real progress in the branch! We did have a few meetings that we had to plan for and attend for the zone and international district, but it didnt slow us down!
So last Monday we took it really easy. We did manage to schedule a new investiagtor that we found on the street. His name is Oscar. His dad is African American and his mom is from HK. He is a really awesome kid who just graduated from high school and is working at a sushi place near the church. He was really nice and welcomed the discussion. He has some different ideas about God and who he is, but we were able to help him understand more about God and how He loves us. It was really awesome. We also were able to visit a family that we found in Kowloon. They are asylum seekers from Rwanda. turns out that their lawyer is a member of our ward. They are just waiting to be relocated to the US by the UN. In the meantime they are living in HK. We were able to visit their family in their humble home and talk about the principle of eternal families with them. A whole family! They were so excited about the doctrine, especially after all the violence they have seen in Rwanda. It was a really special experience for all of us. Briggette and Warren. I am excited to see how their family will take up the gospel.
Tuesday was a busy day as well. We met with Carolin, a german exchange student that lives in my old area all the way out in WuhDip. She is doing great. We taught her the word of wisdom. She is keeping it. all this week she has been keeping it! Success! It has taken a lot of will power and us following up, but she is doing it. she has a huge desire to know if it is true and the only way to know is by trying it. She has a lot of courage and desire to try! We also were able to visit the Tai family again, have an awesome dinner and then teach their relative, Tomo. He is doing great! I think I already told you he is a bassist of a japanese metal band and that he is an amateur boxer? So crazy! but we taught him english and followed up on how prayer has been going. He said that he had prayed once but didnt think it did anything. As we talked he finally came to the conclusion that if he wants an answer, it was going to take more than one prayer to do it. So he is on the path to getting to know our Heavenly Father as well! Just another awesome experience.
Wednesday we met with our mission leadership council and talked about what our zone was doing and the challenges it was facing. it was a really cool meeting to be in. President Hawks is a huge pool of wisdom and i got to hear just a fraction of it in that meeting. I really love our mission president. Later that night, we met with our district president, President Tai, and discussed missionary work in the district as a whole. A lot of it was focused on how the branches and district as a whole can better support us in the work. Another really productive meeting. I think the reason it was so productive, both meetings, was because we really prepared. It took forever to get all the names and their info/situation, but it was really worth it.
Thursday we met with Sonu again! He is just doing great! He is going through finals, but has not been skipping reading the Book of Mormon. He even got on and was looking trhough talks and videos! He is doing so great! He really thanked us for what we were sharing. He looks to us as great friends and we do the same. We have already seen quite the change in him. Before he was really shy and quiet, but now he was talking with tons of members on Sundays. the gospel really is change.
Friday was another great day, we met up with a great member family, the Hawkins, and shared more about what members can do to be missionaries now. It was cute as their 6 year old daughter told me how she was going to invite her friend to the primary activity in a week. She also told me all about her favorite movie, "Frosted". It was cute and really effective. We have some great members in our branch!
Saturday was filled with a lot of finding, but it is worth the hard work and effort, becuase on Sunday we got tons of people at church. Sonu was there, a less active brought her non member husband, a family that we are teaching came! It really was awesome. Lots of hard work paying off! We were able to teach a few of a members friends at their home as well after church. Just so much good going on! We were able to eat at the Zhang families house as well. Connie, the mom, had referred a friend earlier in the week and we talked all about how to help her. the friends name is Vicky and works in the ICC, the tallest building in Kowloon. She invited us to visit with her during her luch break and teach her. So we got to go to the ICC and teach her. We had a great lesson, although it was hard to focus at first because we had such a great view of the whole bay from so high up. We got so many funny looks walking into a high class business in the ICC but vicky was so excited we didnt care. We are meeting with her again this week!
like I said, lots going on. So much to do. So much good to do! i am loving my time here in vic1. Really hoping we can make a difference in the branch. but loving my time.
Have a great week!
Elder Woodburn

April 27, 2014 - Another Solid Week

Elder Lau and I had another really awesome week. Its weird to think how fast it flew by. And here I am, sitting at the computer again. Where does the week go? 

So we were able to meet with a really great new investigator this week, his name is Habib. He is from India and is originally Muslim. We met him because he just walked into the church asking about Moroni. haha. He had a really great knowledge of Christianity and he is doing well. We have had some great discussions with him so far. We introduced the Book of Mormon to him and as we were explaining, he opened up the book and he read out loud a scripture from mosiah about overcoming the natural man. He looked up and said, "yeah, that is very true. I like this book." We were both so happy. He has been reading a ton, now we are working on getting him to church.

Another investigator I think I mentioned last week is Sonu, also from India. He has a strong desire to be baptized. His mom is a catholic and he wants to learn more about Christ so he can join a church. He is a college student now who is pretty shy, but he said that he has been praying everyday as well as reading and has said his confidence is at an all time high. He is recognizing the power of prayer to change. We are meeting with him tomorrow and hopefully can pick a date for him to be baptized. He is doing really well.

I told you about Tomo last week as well, right? Well Tomo was a heavy metal star in Japan. haha. His FB pics made it look pretty legit. But he is staying with a family in our ward since he is their cousin. The family is the Tai family. They are really awesome. Their kids are all so cute and their house has that awesome feel. We are teaching Tomo english and then his family translates our spiritual messages. He has zero religious background so we are starting basic, but it is going well and the Tai family is there to support him every step of the way.

This week was especially busy since it was the China Hong Kong International District meetings. I got the chance to speak in the Saturday session. It was a really neat experience. I spoke about how I got introduced to the church through a Alonzo and other friend's example, invitation, and follow up. I thought it went well, and I have had a lot of people tell me that the story got them motivated to do more missionary work themselves. So I guess I did my job. There is real power in member missionary work. The speaker following me was Elder Gong of the 70, so that was cool. I opened for a 70. haha

Sunday was even better. There was a youth choir and we got 4 of our investigators to sing in the choir. It took a lot of coordination with the members, but they convinced them, it was awesome! The one that comes to mind is Carolin. She is a German exchange student. She thinks its funny because I try and talk to her in German, but I can only say what Ashton taught me when I went to Germany like 3 years ago. haha. She is another great youth that we are trying to help line up a baptism for before she goes back to Germany this summer. 

I am really liking the change of pace in English work. Scary, thats for sure. White people in Hong Kong are very business oriented, so I am learning how to turn that to a gospel conversation. Really loving life.

I hope all is well. I think school is out? Enjoy your vacation!

Keep being a good example. It truly is your strongest tool in sharing our beliefs. Share your testimony, but more importantly, live it.

Elder Woodburn

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014

Lots of change this week. So I am now serving in Victoria 1st and 2nd Branch. Both are English speaking branches. Vic 1 is on Sunday and is for all the foreigners that live in Hong Kong. Vic 2 is an everyday branch for sisters from the philippines that only get one day off a week from their job as domestic helpers. My companion is Elder Lau from Malaysia and we are the international zone's zone leaders. This assignment is much different than any thing I have done before. I am really excited to help in these branches though.

In the mornings we wake up and go finding. Loooking to get a "pull back" for church. Which means we find a philippino sister willing to come to church, then we turn her over to the tagalog speaking sisters. Then we do studies planning and use the night time to go finding for people in Vic 1. Sp[eaking English is so different, but it has been so fun. Ahuge blessing. I have met so many people all with very different backgrounds. We Have a few investigators from Germany, Japan, India, Nepal, and even Pakistan. Its insane. Loving every minute of it.

One of our investigators i will tell you about is Tomo. We just met him yesterday. He is a relative of a member and he is living in Hk for the year. he speaks a little english so we are tutoring him and using his family to help him learn about the gospel. He plays bass for a Japanese Metal band. haha crazy huh? He is really nice and is really interested in learning more about the gospel. It could be a struggle since we need his family to translate into Japanese, but it should go well.

Another awesome story is about Yousef. He is from Pakistan and is Muslim, but is interested in our church. We got permission to teach him since his family doesn't mind him learning about Christ. He is a deep guy who loves to talk about the Old Testament. So we are looking forward to continuing to teach him as well.

Happy Easter Everyone. Remember that life is good. Enjoy it! I know that Christ lives and He is always there for us.

Love, Elder Woodburn

April 14, 2014 - I'm out!

We had another busy week this week, probably the most busy of any week in the office for multiple reasons. Monday we moved, Tuesday we looked at apartments, Wednesday we moved, Thursday we moved, Friday we moved, Saturday and Sunday we had conference. I couldn't fit time in to breathe even if I wanted to!

So I will start from the beginning. Monday we finished moving out of an apartment up in Gam Tin. I was happy to get all out of there because It was on the third story of a building without an elevator. That made moving fun... haha.  But we got it all done and that's what matters. Tuesday we continued to look at apartments in Tai Po. We finally found one that worked for our needs and budget. We managed to get the contract signed and ready to go. Wednesday we hopped on a boat early to head out to Macau. It took us two days to move into the two new apartments that we had out there. It was work! The problem was that we had so much stuff to move, but no car of our own, so we had to rent a huge truck if we wanted to move anything. It was fun, but like I said, it was work. We were able to grab a boat back late Thursday night. Friday we moved into the apartment in Tai Po. It was relatively simple to do, compared to the move out in Macau. Saturday was conference as was Sunday. And on top of all that, President gave the news that i will be leaving the office this transfer! So Elder Young came in on Saturday and I have been using any spare time we have to train him on office elder duties. It made for a busy week.

I will know tomorrow my new area and companion. I am excited to be back out in the thick of things, where I don't have to worry about moving, driving, parking, or staring at a computer again! i learned a lot in the office and am so thankful for the opportunity. I feel like I made the most of the time and opportunity.

Conference was awesome! I think I say this every time, but I am pretty sure that was the best one to date. Personally I enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf's talk about Gratitude as well as the presiding bishop's talk about our "4 seconds" Both seemed so applicable to me at this time. I know that there is something in conference for everyone. Not to mention Elder Bednar's talk about trucks and their loads. It will continue to change the way I look at life and its struggles.

I am excited. I am doing great. Loving life, excited to get back to the daily grind of a normal missionary.

Make the most of what comes your way. Do something for someone else. Be happy.

Love you all,
Elder Woodburn