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 

April 6, 2014

We had another great week this week. It was a bit of a struggle for me though. We have had a lot of housing contracts end the past weeks and it we need to find new apartments. When a contract ends, the landlord can adjust the rent and it seems that each time a contract ends, they bump it up way too much. So we spent our entire week moving out of old apartments, finding new ones, signing new contracts, and moving in. The transfer is in a week and a half so we need to have 3 apartments open before then that we have yet to sign the contracts on. It is going to be a crazy week and a half.

The one day of the week that we really got to get out and be normal missionaries was on Sunday. We were able to get two less actives at church. Both seemed to have a great experience. It can be hard at times finding ways to motivate members and these less actives to build friendships, but i would say overall that our ward is really good at welcoming everyone. There were less people at church overall this week. Saturday was Ching Ming festival. It is a chinese holiday that I am struggling to find a way to explain so that it will make sense. So on Ching Ming, you usually go and visit your ancestors graves and burn them food and money in the afterlife. It is a common religion here in Hong Kong to do this normally, but this is a special public holiday. So a lot of the members of our ward went to their ancestors home towns in Mainland for the holiday.

Sunday night we were able to visit another less active at his home and share about the blessings of church. His brother was also there to hear the lesson. It went really well. We hope to see both Brother Lee's at church this upcoming week.

Since the time change, we didnt watch conference, so we will be watching it this next weekend. It is really awesome time as a missionary. You are doing all you can to help others while trying to stay strong yourself. Nothing helps more than hearing conference and working as hard as you can to apply all that was taught. I am learning to welcome chances to grow and learn.

Wish I had more to talk about, but that was the week.

Learning lots on the mission, maybe even some things most Elders dont get to learn. I am pretty sure that I could open up my own moving company here in Hong Kong. Or be a Realtor. Or a truck driver. I have also learned that moving in Hong Kong is 100x more frustrating than in the US. So I will happy to help anyone move when I go home. As long as there are no stairs or elevators involved, any dyou have a giant truck that can get everything in one trip, and you have a garage that we can easily store all the extra stuff in... haha the list goes on and on.

I am loving the time here, as well as this added assignement of the office.

Have a great week.

Elder Woodburn

Sunday, April 6, 2014

March 31, 2014 - We saved the temple from flooding!

Ok so there has been so many awesome things about this week, so I am going to try and give an adequate update.

So everyone remembers Avis Loi? One of the converts that i taught back when I served Shatin? Well he got his mission call early this week. He has been called to serve in the China Hong Kong mission! Starts in June! Is this not the coolest thing that can happen to a missionary? i get to serve with one of my converts! It doesnt get better than that. Elder Kho and I called and talked to him. He is really excited, stoked really! So awesome.

Another huge miracle that we had this week was on Thursday we walked out the the temple and saw a foreigner sitting at the temple. We said hello, but he didnt say anything so we just continued on our way. He followed us a little ways and then asked us if we were missionaries. We said yes and he told us how he is a less active member of about 6 years and that he wants to come back to church. We were able to meet with him twice in the last two days. Those lessons with him were some of the most powerful teaching experiences I have had on my mission. He lives in China now and after talking with him, he is not sure he wants to go back. He went to an english branch yesterday and talked with the branch president. Im not sure what he is going to do, but i am so grateful I could teach him and help him start to rediscover that testimony that he had, and still does have.

Last story from the week is that yesterday HK got hit with black rain. that just means that it rained ridiculously hard that the city had to shut down basically. Subway stations were beginning to flood, the mall we live near by's roof broke and started to flood. It was crazy. So President Hawks had us go home early. We were a little worried that the temple might flood a bit as well, so we went down to the basement parking lot to see if it was ok. Turns out that there was water coming down into the temple basement parking lot and so we helped put up sandbags and sweep the water out. It was a little crazy! We managed to get everything sealed up and taken care of. The storm is still going, but it slowed down a lot. So everything it fine now, especially the temple basement parking lot. 

Such a great week this week. I cant wait to be telling these stories for the rest of my life.

love you all,
Elder Woodburn

Friday, March 7, 2014

March 3, 2014 - Another Great Week

This week really flew. Not sure what made it different, but it went by unusually fast. We had a lot of excitment with Elder Holland coming and having a mission meeting with him. We were able to visit a few part member families as well this week. It was really a full and productive week on all fronts.

So last Monday we were able to visit a recently returned missionaries family. His little brother is less active and the dad is not a member. We had a nice visit with them. It can be difficult at times, I mean evaluating different situations and not be too overbearing. But we shared a nice message about the importance of family and how we can strengthen families through reading the Book Of Mormon. It was a nice simple message that hopefully got them thinking. We will continue to keep up with them and be sure to help out where we can. It is all about making sure you have a good relationship.

Tuesday was the meeting with Elder Holland. It was a really awesome experience. The meeting was in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island. We got there early and helped set up for the all mission picture. We got all set up and everyone slowly filled in. We were able to take a nice mission picture then shake hands with Elder Holland as we entered the chapel and took our seats. Elder Hallstrom of the seventy was also there and we got to meet him as well. Both gave talks along with their wives. It was a really awesome meeting. Elder Holland talked a lot about making sure we can establish true conversion not only for our investigators but for ourselves as well. Really powerful. He also helped us understand more about the Book Of Mormon and how we can better apply it to help those without a Christian background. He is a fantastic teacher. We were all afraid that he was going to come at us with lots of fire, since Elder Holland is so passionate about missionary work, but he complimented us on our obedience, diligence, and attitude of wanting to grow. I have never felt more love from a speaker.

Wednesday was a solid day as well. we had to go up to 上水, to figure out some apartment problems and renew the contract with the land lord. It is near the border into mainland so we had about a 45 minute train ride to get there. on the way I sat next to this really nice woman, Mrs. Lee. As I sat I could tell she was wondering what my name tag said so we started to talk. She was really interested in what missionaries do and why, but not so much about the message itself. She was really surprised that I could speak chinese. haha. she told me that I should go up into mainland, that there are more people there that would listen to us and join our church. haha. By the end of the train ride she said that she was happy to hear more about what we do. She complimented us on how nice and mannerly we were and that it changed her mind on how she looked at missionaries. We have a lot of conversations with strangers but this one stood out because I felt like we were successful even though she didnt want to hear the message. She changed her mind that we are good people and not all the bad things that people say we are. In my mind, missionaries are going to continue to have these conversations and then see the work start to role. I was glad that someone noticed a good example.

Friday we had an activity with the youth. I am optimistic about how it went, but in all honesty, it is hard to really capture the attention of a group of young men and young women from ages 12-17. We talked a lot about the importance of missionary work and how we can be missionaries now. We watched the little video about the family sharing the gospel to the song, "Ill go where you wantt me to go". I then shared about Alonzo and how he got me to come to church along with all the other friends that kept inviting me and encouraging me. It was a nice sharing because it helped the youth see that successes do happen. After that, the sisters helped them all do some practices in inviting friends or helping the missionaries teach. Overall, It was just sort of difficult to keep everyone involved, but we did our best. Hopefully the youth are excited to help us with the work in their ward!

Sunday we didnt have anyone at church, but we spent a lot of time talking with the leaders in our ward so that we can better cooperate. I ended up getting a migraine afterwards so I just had to stay in and sleep it off. I am pretty useless when they get that bad. I am feeling better today and am ready to get back to work. 

Today I am going to the doctor to get some shots for the pain in my knees. I have been there once before and so i am not too nervous. The doctor is never fun, but the shots will take some of the pain from my knees.

Hope everyone is doing well. Cool to hear that Ryan and Hadley got into BYU. That place is going to be popping for sure after the mission. haha. a lot of the missionaries here are excited hearing that their younger siblings got in as well.

Loving everyday. Learning everyday. the way that it should be. Know that all is well in Hong Kong!



Monday, February 24, 2014

Feb. 24, 2014

This week went by quick, really a lot like the other weeks lately. This week we spent a lot of time out of the office, trying to meet new people. We were able to have meaningful conversations, but no new investigators from our efforts. I think that it is just another good opportunity to see that hard work and persistence will pay off in the end.

We had a pretty special opportunity to go to a special fireside last night. Elder Holland of the Quorum of the 12 is in Hong Kong. He had a special conference that was in Wan Chai, but was then broadcast to each stake center. We watched in Kowloon Tong, our church building. It was an awesome conference. Elder Holland talked a lot about the importance that we play in this last and greatest dispensation. He said that we as saints will no longer flee like prophets and peoples of the past. It is the time to stand and confront worldly trials head on. He spoke with such power and passion, it really filled the room. gave me added fire to make this upcoming week a great one. 

We as a mission have a meeting with Elder Holland tomorrow, so we are all looking forward to that.

I wish i had more to say, but that really is all. We have been working hard and have faith that prayers, work, and consistancy will best help us do God's work.

Life as a missionary has its challenges, but its really not that different than regular life. We are all looking for balance. I promise that as you learn and follow the Savior and his example, you will find that balance.

I love and pray for everyone back home. Your thoughts and prayers are felt here in Hong Kong!

Elder Woodburn

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Feb.17, 2014- Happy Valentines Day

Really quick week. Lots of change, but I feel like you learn to adjust pretty quickly. Elder Mak is learning all there is to do about housing and taking care of apartment stuff. He isn't too busy now, but in the next two months we have a few apartments that we need to renew or find new ones. Other than that, we have been able to really get out of the office and hit the streets!

On Friday, we had a call come from the temple saying that there were people there who wanted to learn the gospel, so we walked over there to meet them. It was a daughter and her mom. They saw the temple and thought it was really pretty and wanted to go inside. We took them over to the chapel and showed them around. The daughter is named Donna and she is actually born and raised in Canada. Her English was a lot better than her Cantonese, so I talked to her in English, while Elder Mak talked with the mom in Chinese. It was an interesting experience to get to teach in English. they were both really interested and so they said that they would be at church. They didn't make it though because they went to a different LDS church closer to their home, but walked into the wrong one. We scheduled them this week along with the missionaries that serve that area so we can show them the right one. It was cool to think that there are interested people out there and are more than willing to ask and seek out the answers to some of life's problems.

A-Ho had to work overtime this week at a new restaurant that his company opened up. So he has been really busy. We have talked with him over the phone a few times and he is doing well. Still praying and reading, so we are excited to turn him over to the missionaries that cover his are in Choi Hung.

Sunday was probably the busiest day of the week. We had a former investigator come to church, A-Seui. But he brought a friend to church, A-Fui. It was really surprising to see them there because we haven't been able to contact A-Seui for the last few months. His mom doesn't like him meeting with us, so he had to stop meeting with us. I don't know what was different this time, but it was great to see him and get to know his friend. We talked with them both after church and they are doing great. We talked about how everyone has challenges, but how Christ helps us overcome them. We read examples from the Book of Mormon so that they can see that it is true and the consequences of the truthfulness of that book. Went really great. Only problem is that A-Fui lives outside of our area as well, out in Tseun Wan. So we set a turnover for this week with him.

Lots of the people that we have met and taught this week live outside of our area, but they have real intent. I think that is what I have admired most about the people we have met this week, they have real intent. It is a good feeling being able to turnover great potentials to other missionaries too.

A Thai family came to church this week too, since they were in HK to come to the temple. We translated for them, which I don't know how much good that did, since their English wasn't super great. But they cooked a big lunch and had us eat with them. It was really fun because of the language barrier. We learned that they have a son in California on a mission. The funniest part was that the mom in her broken English kept saying that the girls in Thailand are very beautiful. It made for a really funny lunch. haha

As far as everything else goes, things are great! Time is really flying. Weird to think how that happens.

Until next week.

Elder Woodburn 

Feb. 10, 2014 - Lots of Changes

你好嗎?今個星期點啊? 我們在Office好忙喎!

So this week has been an interesting one. I think I mentioned last week that Elder Woo and I would be staying together in the office. Well, I was wrong. Tuesday Elder Woo got the call that he would be leaving and that he would need to train a new Housing elder before he goes back out this Thursday. So my new companion is Elder Mak, from the west point of HK island. He is a lot different than Elder Woo. His english isnt as good, so I hope that I can help him best I can while we are together. Im sure he will progress fast. I have had native speaking companions pretty much my whole mission so my chinese has improved a lot. I still feel like I dont know very much, but its just more opportunities to learn. But that is what is going on in the office. I will still be here, but just with a new companion.

We had a really great week. Most of it was spent in the office because Elder Mak has a lot to learn about the housing responsibilities, but we were still able to meet with A-Ho. He is doing great. We asked him why he is so diligent in finding out if our message was true, his reply was awesome. He said that he has seen his life begin to change as he has thought and acted upon the things we have shared. He said that he has faith in God that He will help him. Thats huge! When we first met, he didnt even think God existed, now he growing his faith by acting. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the change in peoples lives because of the gospel, but the fact that he recognizes it is even better. We set something up this week so he will get to know the missionaries in his area. I dont know if I mentioned it last week, but he lives in the neighboring area, not ours, so we need to pass him to the right elders. I am just happy that he is using faith to act and find out the truth for himself.

Last Monday we had the chance to go and visit Elder Kho's grandma in an old folks home. Oh yeah, I dont know if I mentioned that before, but I live with my trainer again! He got permission to go and visit his grandma, so we tagged along. It was really fun. All the old people loved having us there and talking with them. I attached a picture, check it out! It was so funny because Elder Kho's grandma took the picture with us and then was so surprised that we could immediately look at it. She was embarrassed she didnt comb her hair so she quickly ran her hand through her hair and made this cool Mohawk thing. haha It was so fun getting to know real family in Hong Kong. Made me appreciate the importance of family in the Chinese culture.

Time just keeps on going. Weird to think that we are into February already. Hope all is well back at home.

Elder Woodburn

Monday, February 3, 2014

Feb. 3, 2014 - Happy Lunar New Year

So it was suprisingly a slow week out this way. No one told me that Chinese new year makes it super tough to do missionary work. It is a really traditional holiday, so everyone is home and visiting family. Makes it tough to schedule people and meet new people. 

We did manage begin teaching a new investigator this week though! His name is Jeun Faat. He was met by the sisters and so they turned him over to us. He is 15 and a really cool kid. Has a ton of faith in Jesus Christ, so it has been an awesome experience teaching him. He started the BoM last week and we have him scheduled again this week. He is great!

We also met with A-Ho again and he is doing well as well. He has little knowledge of the Savior, so we read stories of miracles that he performed and more about his life. He seemed to really be soaking it up. He has the most sincere prayers I have heard, trying to figure out if God is real and if Jesus Christ is really someone he can rely on to overcome all things. 

There is a tradition in the Chinese new year that you take one day and you clean your apartment. Like really clean it. So Saturday was set apart as "deep clean day". We cleaned the entire day. A solid 15 hour block of cleaning. It was exhausting! But good to get our apartment in order and to throw away tons of junk.

Sunday was interesting. Church was just sacrament meeting because of the new year and we combined with the other ward that meets in our building. Attendance was scarce... Everyone went up to Mainland to visit their 家鄉, their home town sort of thing. Where their ancestors came from. Still fun. Wierd to think that a week ago our sacrament was bursting with mainlanders, then this week, we hardly have anyone because they all went to mainland.

I wish I had more to report, but the new year really put a damper on things. Still an awesome experience.

Excited for the holiday to end, so we can get back to work!

Elder woodburn

Jan. 26, 2014 - Halfway? Already?

Well its weird to think that i have been a missionary for almost a year now. By weird, I mean just how fast things have gone. The flip side to that is I think of how much I have been able to experience and to think that I still have another year as a missionary gets me excited that I am here. The elders from my MTC group are all meeting up today at a burger place on the island. It should be a really fun lunch. Getting to catch up on things and talk about the mission so far. In the MTC, I don't think that any of us thought we would make it a year of living in HK, learning Chinese, and waking up early and going to bed late. But here we are, doing the Lord's work. It should be a really fun day.

As far as the week goes, we had an awesome one. New investigators, mainlanders, and baptisms! I'll try and recap as much as I can.

So we were really blessed because a companionship in another area met two different people who live in our area, and were able to schedule them to come to our family home evening. One is named Jason. He is really awesome, but there is just one problem. Jason is deaf. He knows chinese sign language (which is different than ASL) and when you talk to him, he reads your lips. It is crazy how he is able to do it. Especially since he cant here the tone on the word you are saying, so he has to do a lot of guessing. He were able to have an awesome lesson with him and he really enjoyed FHE. I think since communication is so difficult for him, he doesn't have a ton of friends, but at church everyone made a special effort to get to know him and I think that meant a lot to him. He was sick on Sunday, but we will be meeting with him again tomorrow.

The other investigator that came is named A-Ho. He is a really awesome kid. He is 20 and works in a kitchen at a giant restaurant up in my old area, Sha Tin. He fit in really well as well. He came to English class the night after FHE, then came the next night to meet with us and share the message of the Restoration. It was really awesome. He couldn't come to church since he had to work, but we will be meeting with him again this week as well. He seemed like he really likes the atmosphere at the church and the members he has gotten to know. He has very little religious background so we have moved really slow. But I think that we are already seeing progress. He isn't exactly sure that God exists, but since we have taught him, every night he has prayed to know more about God and if He is really there. A-Ho has real intent for sure. i cant wait to meet with him again this week.

Sunday was actually the craziest sacrament that I have ever been to. The reason? Well there were a 108 new branch presidents from mainland here for leadership training. Since they cant hold such a big meeting up in mainland, they all had to come down here. The branch presidents and their families all came to our sacrament meeting. It filled up our whole chapel and then some. We had to set up chairs into the gym as an overflow. That never happens! I think our bishop knew that they were coming so he had the whole program in mandarin. can you imagin that happeing back in Fallon 4th ward? Having sacrament in a different language? Just another day in Hong Kong.

Another awesome miracle was a baptism that they had in the ward that we share the building with, Cheung Sha Wan. The investigator's english name is Fanatasy. She was a walk in about a month ago that Elder Woo and I taught. We could tell just how prepared she was and so we turned them over to the sisters in the right area. They have been working with her ever since and then yesterday she was baptized. I think that the most rewarding thing is just having a small part in the change of someones life. We really did have a small part, but it means the world to me to think that we had that chance because we are doing what we need to be doing.

Overall a solid week. Really awesome. The idea of trying to remember that trials are not trials, but opportunities. It is making all the difference.

I love you you all and hope all is well.

I should have another exciting report next week, it is Chinese New Year! 


Elder Woodburn

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jan. 20, 2014 - Family

It was a short week because our P-Day was on Wednesday last week. The week goes even faster when those changes happen. Crazy to be sitting at this computer trying to think of what happened to give you a little report thinking, "Didn't I just do this?" But in all reality, i love emailing and taking this time to think back on the week.

It was another solid week. We had so much cool stuff go down. So bear with me as I try and recall all of it. So on Thursday we had the chance to go to a mainlander baptism. since Elder Woo has really good mandarin, he had to help witness for the baptism. It was an awesome experience for me. It was a young, college aged lady from Tianjin who was baptized. A lot of friends who are church members came down to go to the temple as well as to support their friend in getting baptized. She has a crazy story about how she came into contact with the church, which was really awesome to hear about. I think my favorite part about getting to know Mainlanders is that we literally have no way of communicating. i know enough mandarin that I could say my name and that Im a missionary and if they had interest in learning more that we had missionaries like me that actually spoke mandarin. Other than that I am useless. So it is so fun trying to get to know them and talk. I have learned so much about body language and tone in communicating. So crazy. Thinking back on it, I think that some of my best relationships have been made when we couldnt talk. Goes to show that we have to show our love, not just say our love. Overall it was an awesome experience getting to be a small part in that and getting to know them. One of the friends had a daughter who is only 8 years old and is the branch pianist up in Tianjin. I thought that was soooo cool. That little girl has serious talent.

We had the chance of doing more exchanges this week. I stayed in 深水步。 It was with our zone leaders. I honestly think that exchange is going to change my mission and how I look at what a missionary does. What i mean is, I have come to learn more about the purpose of a missionary and how that effects what we do on the day to day. I always thought that when we go "finding" that we were looking for families, but what i learned was that I was trying to contact everyone that would listen (which is good), but that I would miss families. I thought I was looking for families, but I learned that I wasnt making them my focus. I learned that I developed this habit out of laziness, because it is scary to walk up to a family in a park, the parents sitting on a bench watching their kids play. I have to be honest, it is probably the scariest thing I have ever done. Its a lot of responsibility, knowing we have the answers every parent is looking for to help their family become more unified and strong. This is exactly what we did on the exchange, we found families. It was one of the best experiences of my life. We talked to so many great people. We now have a number of potential families that we will continue to contact. Not everyone was nice. I talked with a lady who said that we dont worship the same God and then grabbed my shoulder and began to pray that I could get to know the real Jesus Christ. I think the coolest thing that i learned from this particular experience is that I am gaining a new perspective. She wasn't particularly nice, but I loved that lady for caring enough that she wanted me to find real happiness (the exact thing I was trying to help her do). i hope this is semi-making sense, but just know that I am really learning the importance of the family and the responsibility we have in helping them. Also I am learning just how to love a stranger.

It really was an awesome week. Thinking about what I learned about family finding and the way we can show our love. I think these two lessons that I learned from the mandarins and the families that we talked to is that we can always be better about showing our love. So I want you to think about that this week. How can you better show your love? It isnt anything that you have to say, just a simple way to show your love. It doesnt have to be big, it doesnt have to just be towards your family. It could be something for a complete stranger. But be bold and do it. It may be scary, but I have learned this week that God rewards and empowers the bold, those who are willing to do what is right even if it is scary.

I love you all. the support that you offer me is a love that is very precious to me. I hope that in a small way that my service here is helping you back home.


Elder Woodburn