Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013 - I have been a missionary for 6 months???

Is that not the craziest thing you ever heard? Well maybe that is exaggerated, but it blows my mind how the time is flying by! It has been a struggle, no doubt, but hard things are the worthwhile things.

Sounds like time just keeps rolling on back at home as well! Sounds like everyone is enjoying an All-American Summer! Trips to Tahoe, Utah, Camps, just to name a few that you all are enjoying! 

So this week, what to say about this week? It had its individual challenges, like any other, but more importantly, I think Elder Fong and I found some ways to overcome them. Most of the time it wasn't because of us, it was because of the Lord worked with us. I am learning that if you put yourself in the right place at the right time doing what you should, miracles will happen. So why deny yourself seeing those blessings? Simple, but some of the most profound answers are the simple ones.

So anyone want to hear a miracle story from the week? Well, this week I have had a bit of trouble walking and doing the normal thing missionaries do because of some knee problems. In Hong Kong, we do a lot of walking because that's how you meet people, most people don't have cars, so they walk. One day, we had a whole day of finding a head of us, I didn't know how I was going to make it. I didn't see a way to do it. But we put ourselves in the right place at the right time doing the right things. A miracle happened. We met some of the nicest people I have ever talked with that day! We found and taught more people than I ever had on one day of my mission. I love to teach mainly because that is what helps people understand more about our message, but I also love it because we usually get to sit down. haha. the Lord provided us people to talk to and teach. It seams small, but believe me, it was a miracle. Hope that made sense... haha.

With all the work we are and have been putting into the area, we are just starting to see the fruits of our labors. We have helped reactivate almost 5 less active members, met a few new people who are slowly starting to accept and live the gospel and our ward is so excited to help us find, teach, and reactivate.

One thing that I have really noticed this week is that before I didn't fully realize that everything that we do, obtain, or see, comes from God. He is the author of it all. I used to think rather selfishly and air headedly, that I was doing so well based on my own merits. That is the wrong line of thinking. Everything comes from God. I think when we realize that, we can live more at ease knowing that our Loving Heavenly Father is in it. He isn't just in the good, but He is there in the bad as well. He isn't just in the "important" or "big" things, but there in the small and routine parts of our lives. Realize He is there and I promise you will live a better, happier life.

Well, I hope that all continues to go so well for each of you. I have said it before and I will say it again, I couldn't do this without the support from you all. I feel your prayers for me and they are answered.

Love you guys!

Elder Woodburn

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 22, 2013 - Funny Week For Sure!

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear from you all back at home! It is always a pick me up to hear just how good everyone is doing back in the states. It was a long week, filled with some hardships and even more learning experiences. But what week isn't? haha. We found a ton this week, an exhausting experience for sure. I think it was on Thursday that we didnt have anything but finding.... Got to love those days, but I thought about how the trek is going on back at home. I was never blessed enough to go on a trek (went to Disneyland instead haha) but to think of all the youth pulling handcarts through the mountains. Made me glad I was finding. Perspective is a funny thing. But really, we had a solid week.

So this week, like I said earlier, not a ton of teaching appointments. So we spent the days finding with no real success. When I say success, I mean teaching or making some new friends who are interested in our message. It was rough towards the beginning of the week. My attitude just was all wrong. Nothing seemed to go right, just problem after problem. I struggled to feel like we were making a difference. Then we went on companion exchanges. I ended up being with Elder Bradley, a mandarin speaking elder. It just added to the stress because he doesn't know any cantonese. I had to handle a lot of things solo. I learned a lesson from it though, When the Lord calls (or does companion exchanges), he qualifies. That day, we saw miracles. We found for the whole day, but ran across a guy from Shengzen. Lucky for us, he was fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin. His name is Mr Wong. It was weird at first, because as we got to know him, he said that he "swam to Hong Kong". I thought that there was no way that I heard that right. But thats what he said! He was a really great guy who ended up buying us lunch. He commended for being so devoted to something so difficult. He was really receptive, so we will continue to teach him. I asked Elder Bradley about the whole swimming thing, and he said that he is probably an illegal immigrant from the mainland and that he probably really did swim here.... haha. Crazy for sure. Later on, we went and visited some less actives from the ward. That can be kind of frustrating when even they don't want to see us. We tried our best, but couldn't really talk with anyone. Again, since I was the only Cantonese speaker, I had to get past the security guards. Talk about intimidating! haha. But they were actually pretty nice. I just acted oblivious to a lot what they said and they just let us go up. I guess that was easier than trying to explain that we couldn't. haha. We were able to find one lady who moved to France and became less active. She was visiting her mom for the summer with her five kids who speak french and chinese fluently! It was so cool. We shared a quick message with them. It was a unique experience for sure. Thanks to madame guisti, I was able to ask them to use the restroom in  french. haha. All those years of french did pay off! haha. But really, that day was a turning point for the week. Nothing really changed, except for my attitude.

I feel like its a lesson I have learned time and time again. you cant control really anything but your attitude. Luckily I have had some reminders of that. Great friends, experiences, and opportunities that continue to teach me that you can only control attitude. Really a lesson we all need to learn at one point or another.

So funny things that happened this week? Not a ton comes to mind, but there is one thing. Since Elder Fong is native, he and other people talk a little quicker than I can pick up sometimes. But we went to a members house for dinner with a less active. The conversation turned to food, and how I am not a huge fan of the chinese food. Elder Fong then said something to the effect of," He doesn't like it because it gives him diarrhea." I just thought to myself,"There is no way that he just said that...." haha but then the member looked at me and said in broken English, "The Chinese food give you diarrhea? What give you diarrhea?" hahahaha. Never thought I would have to answer such a question. Bathroom talk is apparently ok in dinner conversation. haha. We also got caught in a pretty bad thunderstorm while finding. We ran to the church to get out of it, but by the time we made it inside, it looked as if we had went swimming.haha. Weather here is a little different than Nevada.

All is well here in the China. haha. Almost at 6 months since starting as a missionary. Is that not crazy or what? Lots of progress has been made, still lots to go. Things can be hard, but there is no other way to grow. I asked myself a lot this week, "why are you here? This is tough. How are you going to keep this up?" I came to the conclusion that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And if its hard, you just do it. You can do hard things. It was never intended to be simple or easy. Loving the journey so far, but I think most importantly, I'm loving that the journey has hills, bumps, and thorns. Help is there, not if you need or when you need it, but it is always there.

Love you guys!

Elder Woodburn

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013 - It's officially summer in HK!

So things are really poppin in Hk right now. Schools out, people and tourists everywhere, and its hotter than any weather I have ever experienced! Hey, but that's just part of life, right? No complaints here! I am loving being in Butterfly. Since there is a nice pier in our area and the weather has been hot, it has helped us find some really interesting people! So that's always nice. A lot of what we do is the same, day in and day out, but meeting and talking with new people is what makes things interesting and fun!

So earlier this week, we did companionship exchanges within the zone. It was a really awesome opportunity because I stayed in Butterfly and had a new companion for a day. Since he didn't know the area or anyone in it, I had to take lead! Crazy for sure, but it was really awesome. We had a lot of success that day meeting and teaching new people. My Cantonese is getting a lot better, but there is still room for improvement. Well, lots of room, actually. haha. But I ended up teaching a few lessons all by myself on the pier because my comp was teaching as well. That was the first time that had happened, teaching alone, but we just sort of rolled with it. I thought things went well, but the lady asked about the Trinity and why we don't believe in it. I couldn't adequately explain, so it boiled down to me telling her to pray and ask God if what I had taught was true or not. I was a little frustrated I couldn't explain the way I wanted to, but I did my best. When it comes down to it, prayer and personal revelation is the only way we get our answers anyway, I learned I didn't need to eloquently explain. The Spirit is the best, and only teacher when it comes to these kind of things. Overall, the exchange was an awesome experience. There is something rewarding in doing your best and seeing some success, as well as feeling and knowing you're doing whats right.

We continue to struggle to help people progress and continue to hear the message of the gospel. We had a lot of investigators stand us up this week. But along with that, we saw what I would say is a miracle. Whenever we got stood up, we would just go finding. Almost every time we ended up seeing and teaching the person we were originally supposed to meet. Kind of cool, that happened four or five times this week.

Investigators are a struggle, but we are still seeing amazing progress with the less active members of our ward. One that comes to mind is Ling Hing Daih. He is super awesome, but has been less active most of his life. Only member in his family, and when he moved to Singapore for school, we had no idea where he was. We call these people "lost sheep" because we have no way of contacting them again. Luckily, he moved back and a member found him and introduced us. We have had some awesome discussions with him. truly another miracle!

So this week I sort of started seeing a Eastern medicine doctor... haha long story short is one of the members in our ward had us over for dinner and he works as an eastern medicine doctor. Well, like a western medicine meets eastern medicine doctor. haha he gave us a "special" pad to help with sore muscles and joints, as well as these weird supplements that we boil in water, then drink the water. Again, for sore joints and muscles. haha. It is a gross drink that I'm not sure is helping, but he swears by it. haha. That parents of that family both served missions, one in the states, so they have great English. They think they are my parents while I am in HK. They are awesome! Bishop Evett, he may have served with you in HK his name is Chan Wing Fai. Maybe you will know him... But anyways, they are they best. Defiantly being taken care of all the way across the globe!

Keep doing the right things in the right places. Sounds simple, maybe overly simple, but that's where success is. 

Love you all!

Elder Woodburn

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8, 2013 - Success!!!

So big week here in 蝴 蝶! That's for sure. You know how I talked about all those less actives we were able to visit and teach? Well, almost all of them were able to make it to church! That meant that we had 15 less active members at church! It was an amazing experience for me personally, seeing such progress, now we just have to keep it up! It was a little funny at church though because instead of having Priesthood/Relief Society, we had a combined meeting and discussed the ward's mission plan and how to get people coming back to church and inviting friends to come and see what we believe. I was a little worried at first because of all the less actives that were there for that, but they got into and most contributed to the discussion on how to help others come back. They didn't realize we were talking about how to best help them! Funny to see that, but truly a miracle. I was able to bear my testimony for the packed ward. It was kind of nerve racking for me, but I thought that it went really well. We have a white guy in our ward who once was a missionary who talked after I did. He talked about his first time at a testimony meeting in ShaTin, my first area as well. He said how no one understood a word, but everyone just smiled and nodded... haha but then he assured me that wasn't the case for me. Another miracle, I speak Chinese!!!! haha.

I reflected a lot on what I am doing and the importance of what I am doing. Overwhelming really to think about it all. I talked with a lady on the hingtit (like a cable car that we use to get around) and she thought that I was born in HK, that's how I knew Cantonese. It blew her mind to think I have been here three months and that I can speak and understand. My ability to understand more Chinese has made for some awkward times as well.. I think some 70 year old ladies hit on me this week... haha hilarious for sure. That's all I got to say about that one.. haha With all the success that we have had this week, we have also had some tough times. Not a ton of success with teaching investigators. We saw one of our investigators and he ran from us... trying to expand our teaching pool, but still working at it.

Probably the best news of the week, something that I literally jumped for joy when I heard is that Harry, our investigator from 沙田, was baptized yesterday! I can't tell you how happy that made me. Funny to think that we are usually happiest when we help others be their happiest. Loving being a missionary!

Well, all is well. Every day is a struggle, each in its own way. That's how it's meant to be though!!! Love you all!

Fun Day today, going to the BIG BUDDHA!!! Can't wait to tell you all about it next week!

Elder Woodburn
胡 基 謙 長 老

July 3, 2013 Happy Hong Kong SAR day! Oh and 4th of July!

Fam and friends! How goes it back in the States??? Stoked to hear about all the mission calls. The wave is just getting bigger and bigger! There isn't a work like it. One that changes more lives and brings lasting happiness. I know that with a surety. 

This Monday was HK's fourth of July, well, sorta. It is the day they were turned over to China, no longer a British Colony. It was weird because there was a bunch of people had China flags out and pictures of Mao Ze Dong... It was really weird.. haha No fireworks though, what a let down.. haha.

This week we have worked miracles and that is not an understatement! We have been struggling to find people to teach and the few that we do have, are losing interest. It has been a struggle for sure. We have just really tried that much harder to make a difference. The Hong Kong area has plans to expand from 6 stakes in Hong Kong to 9, so that means we have a lot of work to do! So we turned our attention to the members we haven't seen in a while. It can be tough contacting these members because a lot of the time they just shut the door on us too, even though they have experienced the happiness the gospel brings in the past. We had that happen a lot this week, but with that, we have also made huge strides! We have been able to meet with almost 10 different families and invite them to church. I have faith they will make it, but we will see Sunday! In meeting with them, I have seen photos of their own baptisms as far back as in the 60's! Hong Kong is a special place, especially in Hong Kong because the church is still so "new" here. Seeing those pictures brought back some great memories for these less active members, as well as helping Elder Fong and I teach with more fire. Seeing the legacy of missionary work in this part of the woods has really been a motivator. 

This week I gave my first blessing in Chinese. That is a miracle in and of itself! Luckily, the Lord and his power isn't bound to my language ability. Elder Fong is one of the smoothest talkers I think I have ever met. To visit a lot of these less active members, you have to get past the security guard. The Angriest and most intimidating old Chinese ladies the world has to offer. I don't know how we were able to do it, but he always can talk them into letting us up and visit.

One miracle story is we went to visit a less active and we couldn't get past the guard. she just wouldn't let us up. So we just talked to her a while. As it turns out, she is a less active member herself! We had tried contacting her multiple times with no success, but here she was. We were able to schedule and teach her later that week. Now she will be at church this Sunday! The Lord truly puts people in your path. So it is our job to be doing what we should be doing, when we should be doing it. That's where miracles happen. All about obedience.

Missionaries live a crazy life on top of all the spiritual stuff as well. I have been packed into a train car so tight that I hardly had room to breath. They had some MTR workers pushing people onto the train. It was madness. haha. 

Be a missionary. Everyone can do it. Be an example. Serve. Just be nice. The world needs nice people. Sounds overly simple, but its true. I can't tell you how many people will stop and talk a while just because of a smile. Its hard to do sometimes after finding for 8 hours in the wet heat of HK, but it pays off. So this week, smile. Help someone who needs it. Be the person you were sent here to become! The Lord will help you.

You are all in my prayers, and I am feeling the effects of yours all the way across the world. 

Love you all!
Elder Woodburn