Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013 - School? Work? Last-minute vacations?

Sounds like it was an all- American summer for sure. I saw some pics from Ryan and Special K's trip to LA. So jealous! Looked like it was so sweet. It is soooo weird to think that everyone is getting back into the routine of school and stuff. Seems like I just left. I can't even describe my smile as I read everyones emails and hear just how well everyone is doing. To quote the Church movie Legacy, "The Lord has blessed us." haha I quote church movies because thats all I can watch... haha. Oh well. 

I'm sitting on this computer trying to recap the week and I just keep asking myself, "where did the week go?". Crazy how fast it went. A lot has to do with just how different a life it has been as a trainer. Elder Phillips is the man and loves to learn so our days are just filled with teaching. Teaching street lessons, a few new investigators, less actives, English, and how to be a successful missionary. One thing I have really liked about Elder Phillips is that he always values what I have learned and share. Its a trait I think everyone needs, me especially. Never be too wise to be taught. I have been suprised at how many little things you pick up living here and doing the work. Hard to explain, but things are so great as far as it goes training. 

This week we had the biggest miracle for sure. We couldn't arrange any lessons or anything else during the day, so we had 8 hours of finding to do, then English class that night. Those days are rough. To make things worse, we couldn't get anyone to talk with us. It made it a long finding sesh. But we tried to stay positive, me especially so that way it could help Elder P. But just no luck. We were tired, a little disheartened, but thats when we saw a miracle. We taught English class that night and it was a greatbig turn out, but we couldnt getanyone to come. As The other missionaries were talking with this teenage kid, he said he lived in Yau Ngoi. Thats in our area!!!!!!!! I was so stoked. He said he found a flier on the ground and decided to check it out. His name is Aaron and he is the man. He has real interest in learning the gospel. He also plays the violin in this orchestra.He is just really awesome.I look forward to keeping you updated on how things go with him. Funny how the Lord works sometimes. You do your best and you don't feel like you did anything,but He blesses you for doing your best.

We have worked really hard this week to try and earn the trust of the ward. They see me and Elder Phillips and wonder how we can do it with limited Cantonese. One lady went to the US right after I got to Butterfly, and just got back this weekend. I welcomed her back and she looked at me and said,"Wait, how did you learn so fast?!?!" It has been really awesome inviting the ward members to teach with us. As they have done that, I think their trust in us has really grown and it continues to.

I hope everyone got a kick out of my analogy last week about the M&M's. Some of my friends on their missions wrote me and made fun of me. haha.

All is well. Found the cure all, its work. Work and things just go better. I think I learned this this week. Its whats making time fly and its what is going to help the people in our area most. So this week as you go back to school or keep working, remember just to work hard. Work harder than you think you can. The Lord will see you through. Do that and you will see miracles.

Love you guys,
Elder Woodburn

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Fam, friends, how goes it back in the states? From the sound of it, it sounds like all is well. Weird to hear that the Summer is already coming to an end and that people are already getting ready to go back to school. All good things come to an end I guess. 

This week has been a learning experience for me and for Elder Phillips. It has been a balance to try and help him grow and learn, as well as not letting him drown in the rigors of Chinese work. He is the man though. I seriously am one of the luckiest trainers because he already has awesome language ability as well as a desire to learn and improve. It makes my job a lot easier if the desire, no matter the circumstance, is there. And Elder Phillips is just that! So all is going well with training. He will be training in no time, I'm sure of it. haha

But this week had its own unique struggles for sure. I never realized the blessing before, but I have been so blessed to have native companions so far. They really have helped in more ways than I realized. But now, its just two GwaiLouhs (slang term for white guys) walking the streets of Butterfly. One thing that stood out this week was just how much my language has improved, but it was kinda bitter sweet. What I mean by that is, people don't expect us to know any Chinese, so they say some pretty rude and mean stuff thinking we don't catch it. Well, I did.... Awkward. It has been a little bit of a trial, but I have really just tried to increase my love for the people here regardless of our reception. All goes back to attitude!!!

As far as investigators goes, we have a lot of work to do. I had a few phone calls from people who didn't want to meet anymore. Those are hard phone calls to have, but they happen. Agency was so important to God that he made sure everyone has the opportunity to use it. We just teach to the best of our ability and let the Spirit do the rest. Maybe its just not always the best timing or circumstances right now, but we press forward knowing our message is true and changes lives. Because our pool has really been shrinking, we have spent countless hours just finding. Plenty of seeds planted, but no fruits yet really. Out of all of that, there has been one new investigator that just showed up. He really did just show up at English class. Said a friend told him about it and he checked it out. He is awesome!!! We are excited to begin teaching him and seeing the progression in his life that comes with learning the gospel.

We were able to meet with a few less active members this week as well. I have really learned by working with them just how special they are. They have the testimony of the gospel, but aren't active for whatever reason. With them, its all about using their faith in Christ to resolve their problems. It is just a huge blessing to help facilitate that resolving of the problem.

The ward here is good, but I have the sense that they are a little skeptical that I am training. We are working so hard here to gain their trust and continue to help the small Butterfly ward grow. The ward is here to support us as well as we support them, so we are doing all we can to work together!

I think I am learning an important lesson right now. Learning to bloom where you are planted. Blossoming no matter the circumstance. We may not fully understand the culture or the language. Neither Elder Phillips or I have the experience that other missionaries or leaders may have. We aren't Asian and we stick out like Blue M&M in a pile of Yellow ones (not my best analogy... haha). But none of that matters because we have a testimony of the Savior and that he will help us. It may not come right away, all the success that we want to have. But we have confidence that we are being shaped and molded into the successes we were sent here to become. I made the decision to be happy and I'm doing just that. So be happy despite circumstance. Choose to be happy and do it. The simplest answers seem to have the most profound effect.

I love you guys. Keep up the good work. Say a prayer for me and Elder Phillips, we need 'em. haha

Elder Woodburn

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 - So I kinda became a dad this week...

So this week has been the craziest one of my mission so far! So many changes in just a week's time.

Yup, so I became a "dad" this week! That means that I am training! I got the call from president on Tuesday morning telling me to be at the mission home to meet my trainee who just got here from the Provo MTC. I can't even begin to describe the feelings I had after that conversation! A lot of doubts about my Chinese, if I can keep up the pace without Elder Fong, and if I can help this new missionary adjust quickly to the real world of missionary work. My trainer had a huge influence on me, so I was just nervous I wasn't going to do this new Elder well! But regardless, we sucked it up, and I have a new comp, Elder Phillips! He is the man! He is adjusting quicker than I did I think, but he is still pretty jet lagged. He has a crazy drive to learn and use Chinese, so that is going to do him well. I am pretty optimistic at how things are going to work out in Butterfly for the next 9 weeks!!!

So this week has consisted of a lot of just explaining how to do things, when to do them, why we do them. It is a big difference being senior as well as a trainer, but the Lord trusts us. Blows my mind that he trusts us. haha. Just kidding, but really, we have a lot of responsibility to our area.

So real quick, we have had so many interactions with mainlanders this week, it is ridiculous!!! They are all so golden its not even funny, but there is really no way to help them. Sunday, we had a couple from the mainland in the area just doing some shopping and saw our church, so they checked it out. We explained a little bit about the restoration, got them some reading material and off they went! Crazy, huh? Finding later that day we saw these two ladies with tons of shopping bags that were lost. We asked them if they needed help, turns out they don't know Cantonese, but knew a little English. They were looking for the bus back to Shengzen. So we walked them to the bus stop and talked with them on the way. They were so awesome! It was difficult to communicate a little bit, but they had so much interest in learning about the church and why we were white guys learning Chinese and being so nice to strangers. There were at least three or four other mainlanders that we met throughout the week. Lots of people have never heard about the church before, and it is an awesome feeling being their first contact with the Church!!!

Nothing really of interest to report. Still have grandmas telling me how good looking I am, talk about a confidence booster. haha.

I guess one thing that has been on my mind lately is about how powerful an example is. Think about it. We follow Christ, the perfect example. He paved the way. A righteous example is a powerful example. I have noticed that Elder Phillips really trust me and does as I do. It has been an added motivator to be exactly obedient. Because of others in my life and their great examples, I have been able to choose to do the right things regardless of the circumstances. Remember how powerful your example can be to others.

Love you all. Pray for me and my new comp! We are going to need it. My Chinese is ok, but I still struggle at times. And by that, I mean all the time. haha. Oh well.

Till next week! I have loved hearing from you all this week!

Elder Woodburn

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013 - Breakdancing, Fishballs, and the Book of Mormon

Honestly it was a crazy crazy week here in HK. Loving it!

So this week while finding, we ran into these kids break dancing. It was pretty cool. They were all pretty good and they were blaring old school 90's rap which I though was hilarious. They had no idea who we were or heard of the church before (blows my mind to think of how may people have never heard of the church before!). But anyways, They said that they would listen to our message. So we had them sit down and we taught them! I felt like I was back in Kindergarten, only this time I was Mrs. Boyd up there teaching while all the kids sat cross legged and listened. It was quite the experience! They were super attentive and seemed really interested. We have a few activities throughout the week, so we invited them to come check them out. Luckily, Saturday they came to the church. We showed them around and we taught them again. We even let them dance a bit in the cultural hall. It was a really good experience for them to see that we are just regular people. they think it is so cool what we do with our time for the two years and all the rules we chose to follow. It is leaving a good impression on them. We will continue to meet with them next week. Finding and teaching all these kids was an awesome experience!

So its been a while since I have talked about food. So you all know, I think that I am pretty well adapted, but there is still some stuff I have to choke down. This week, it was fish balls. they are sort of like hot dogs, only they are fish in ball form... haha. Not my favorite, but there is definitely worse things to eat. The Wok is defiantly different than the stuff I am eating here. haha.

In the mission this week, it was sort of like Christmas! The AP's finally finished translating the Book of Mormon into a romanized pingyam for all the missionaries! So I ordered one this week. It will have English, Chinese, and the ping yam, so we will be able to use the Book Of Mormon to learn the language now. That will be so cool being able to read scriptures to people in lessons!

This week we have transfers to everyone is a little antsy to see where they are going and who they will be with! We have another huge batch of missionaries coming straight from the MTC. Crazy to think that was just four months ago that I left and came to HK.

All is well here in HK. Things can get a little crazy, then slow as can be. Learning to go with the flow and just do what you can. Chinese is coming. Mainly out of necessity, but I got to give it up to Elder Fong, his English has gotten a lot better!

Love you all, all the way from HK!

Elder Woodburn

PS: I am slowly losing my English, or at least I am talking like a true Asian. I said, "The China" this week. Also, I couldn't remember what to call a weather man. I figured it out. Meteorologist! haha