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