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

Jan. 15, 2014 Mongolians are officially my favorite people in the world

How goes it everyone? Back into the swing of school and things yet? Im sure you are all doing so great 加油!

this week has been really great. There are a few experiences that i will tell you about. First is we were able to meet with a less active that we have been working with again this week. We felt impressed to talk about family history, kind of wierd, but that what we did. He straight loved it! He got out all this stuff and was on the computer making his family tree, really just soaking it up. We talked about through his efforts, he can help his ancestors enjoy the gospel as well. He felt the spirit for sure, but when we invited him to begin living some commandments, he said no. He is ready to change yet, but he is changing. His name is brother Hung and he really is a diamond in the rough. It can be frustrating because he still doesnt want to change, but it is a process, not an event that we are helping him to experience.

I also had the chance of going on exchanges this week! I went out to Tung Chung with a newer missionary Elder Wong who is from Malaysia. It was an awesome time. Tung Chung is a small little town right outside the airport. Very quiet, very rural. it was just an awesome change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of SSP. They have an investigator out there that had a baptismal interview, but didn't pass because he doesn't quite have a testimony of President Monson as a prophet. So that is what we helped him to overcome. We had probably one of the best lessons I have ever gotten to sit in on along with the Branch President out there. All of us were able to come out of the lesson with a stronger testimony of living prophets and a stronger desire to follow their counsel. truly an aweosome thing to have a problem and be able to resolve it by following the guidance of the spirit. The investigator is having another interview this week and i am sure that he will be baptized the week after. truly a miracle and mercy of the Lord.

Lastly, there is a huge group of Mongolians here this week to go to the temple. All of them except for two or three of them only speak mongolian (which sounds like a mix of mandarin and Russian and is the most manly language i have ever heard). So it is fun interacting with them. They come in to the office wanting to thank us or get directions and it is so fun. there is one old man who has come in a few times and he is so cool! He has no idea what I am saying, and I dont have any idea what he is saying, but it is just fun. He came in today and said something, so i stood up to help him. he grabbed my arm and just said, "car" and did a wheel motion. I finally figured out that he was looking for the train station, not a car. So we walked him down to the station, him latched onto my arm the whole time. I will be sure to get a picture with him to send next week. What makes them so great I think is the great sacrifices they go through to come to the temple. Mongolia is really far and they are so willing to give up what they had to be here at the temple. I admire their courage and faith.

Really, a solid week. loving it out here. Everyone has new year resolutions, be sure to stick to them! be better, have more faith, want to change, then do it!

Love you,
Elder Woodburn

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dec. 29, 2013 - Merry Christmas/Happy New Year


 Anson's Baptism
Hey sorry about last week, I sort of didn't get an email off to everyone... But people change! And here we are, writing an email to you all.

So everyone says that Christmas as a missionary is one of the best times to be a missionary and that is so true! To be honest, Christmas itself was really uneventful. We were out on the streets the whole day and weren't able to teach anyone. It was rough, but i felt super accomplished knowing that we tried our best, we represented the Savior, and that we have the chance to even share about Christ on a daily basis. If anything, It really just helped me to internalize Christmas and the reach of its message. Easily on of my favorite Christmas because of the message that we share and the hard work we put in. That Christmas I got a Playstation was pretty good too though. haha i remember my parents told me that Sony was the elf that helped Santa make it... haha.

Our ward also had a Christmas party that was so helpful for us to get to meet some less actives in our area. Almost every family has a relative that isn't active and they killed it in inviting them to the party. We were able to get to know them and set some appointments up for visits later in the week! It was an awesome party!

We also had a special family home evening that we were able to get some people to. Our member brought a Santa suit and said that i was the fattest so I had to wear it. haha. It was really awesome because the sisters had a family come with 3 little kids. two of them loved it, the other one just cried and cried and cried. I felt horrible! haha. Never thought i would make a little Asian girl cry like that before, but a mission is full of surprises.

On my birthday we went to TKO and bought a new apartment. I felt like a high roller dropping so much cash on my birthday. haha. we will be helping the sisters move in some time next week.

We are continuing to work with Mr Chow. He has been really busy with work, but that didn't stop his wife from helping us out. She invited her two sisters to hear the missionary discussions and they are really great. They had met with missionaries in the past, but just got too busy. They listened and recognized how important our message is. A huge miracle for sure. Anson was baptized yesterday and so the whole family came to all of church and then was there for the baptism. Anson is 9 and is full of energy. It was really fun. He asked if I would baptize him, so it was a really great missionary moment for us to get the whole family to church and see the importance of baptism. I think the cutest part of the day was after the baptism, all the little kids started saying that they wanted to be baptized too. haha. It was an awesome day because we are starting to help a family progress toward eternity.

Today has actually been pretty eventful already. The bishop saw that I was having some trouble walking so he told me to go see him this morning. He is a 中醫, or a Chinese doctor... haha so I went to his place and he did acupuncture and put this weird wrap of smelly green stuff on my leg... haha people looked like, "what is this guy doing here?" even more than usual. Most surprising is that I feel pretty good. I had zero confidence in Chinese medicine, but I think i might be a believer now. haha

that's a quick look at my week. It was seriously one of the best weeks of my life. Seeing the Chow family progress is just awesome.

I love you guys. Have a happy New Year!
Elder Woodburn