Saturday, May 31, 2008
Subject: Ib tug menyuam mog liab tshiab los?!!
Nyob zoo nej!
John is getting baptized on Sunday! He's pretty excited, as are we. Houa and Shoua are going to make a special effort to come to church so they can see the baptism, and their parents might come too. John's parents are less-actives who haven't been to church in over a decade, and we really want them back, especially because John has several younger siblings whom their parents would bring if they started coming back. John chose Chue (the one preparing for a mission) to perform the ordinance, which is perfect. This will really be a great experience for Chue.
We have been teaching two sisters, Molly and Mai Yer, and it's been going very well. We were initially focusing on their older sister, See, but she is too busy now, though she still is very interested. Recently, 3 more sisters--- Judy, Bee, and Jamie, started investigating too. They all are very active in two churches over in St. Paul, which they attend every week and participate in all the activities etc. These are both Hmong churches, and they go purely for social reasons. They have not learned anything in either of these churches. They love having us over and learning, because they don't get that kind spiritual nourishment anywhere else. They are great at keeping commitments, and we are very excited for them. The real trick is going to be eventually getting them to give up their other churches. We'll just have to convert all of their friends who attend the other churches too.
A while ago we were walking down a quiet residential street when out of nowhere, and quite suddenly, a lady pulled over in her car and shouted,
"Hey! You're Mormons, right?" Eyebrows raised, but smiling, we approached her. Evidently the day before she had seen us on our bike on a busy street and had tried to shout to us and get us to stop. She wanted missionaries to come teach her and her kids. Elders had tracted into her home a while ago but since she was a single mom and there was no other male there 16 or older, they couldn't go in. So they left without setting up a return appointment. They didn't really explain the rule we have about needing 3 males 16+ or 3 females 16+ in the same room, they just said that because she had no husband, they couldn't come in. She asked us if we could make some kind of arrangement, perhaps send sister missionaries or something. We explained the rule and said we would be overjoyed to make every arrangement necessary for her to be taught by missionaries :)
We were invited over to an American member's house for dinner this week. We know them very well, and have helped them remodel their house all last transfer. We were there with two teams of English-speaking Elders, who also helped with the re-modeling. The head of the household, knows Uncle Jay, and respects him a lot. He has been very troubled and stressed lately, and was in a really tough situation. He asked for a blessing and invited all the Elders to participate. His bishop came over, and we assumed he would act as voice. To my startlement, he asked me to do it! It was my first time, and it was a really incredible experience. The priesthood is amazing, and very, very real.
-Elder Moua Ying
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Subject: Zoo sab kuv tau txais lub txaj ntsim ntawm hom lug.
Nyob zoo nej!
Yesterday we had the opportunity of helping a member family and much of their large extended family (only the closest extended family) prepare for their father's/grandfather's funeral. Hmong funerals are beyond elaborate and exhausting. We helped load and unload enough supplies to sustain over 1000 guests for 24 hours. There will probably only be about 300 or 400 guests, but they will stay for 72 hours (the family will be standing almost the whole time, and none will sleep). Cases upon cases upon cases of pop, water, and beer (the latter provided by and for the non-members) stacked to the heavens.
We are glad we won't be there for the actual funeral, and it was fun to help move such a tremendous cache of supplies and see it all in one big room. We also had the neat experience of working in an environment that might as well have been Hmongland. Nobody was speaking English, so we had a great opportunity to be totally immersed. Many people got a kick out of the two white guys speaking Hmong, so they came up and talked to us throughout the lunch break. We got pretty good at steering every conversation into the gospel, and got a few people interested in the Book of Mormon.
John, Shoua, and Houa Thao ahave been practicing hard for a ko taub tournament that starts today. It will continue on until tomorrow, and we are worried that their team will be asked to play tomorrow. They are pretty good, so there is a good chance they won't be eliminated today. It's weird because we want them to do well, but they need to come to church. We are praying that it will at least work out so they will have a pocket of time so they can come to sacrament meeting. John's baptism is going to be on the first of June, and he's looking forward to it. I really hope he can come to church. All three of them have been working really hard for the huge 4th of July tournament, so they have been busy, and very tired. This makes teaching them difficult, but they are still progressing well.
Have a good week, and good luck with all that stuff that's happening!
-Elder Moua Ying
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
With Elder Adams in Manchester
Thank you for the camera! I love it already. And the card reader is going to allow me to send pictures to you from just about any computer, so I can hopefully send some almost every week! Yay!
This week has been huge - it felt like at least two. We got to meet a lot of our investigators, got set up with a service activity (working at the local British Heart Foundation), figured out bus passes and bus routes, went to church, went to zone conference, and went to a family home evening with a big group of members and investigators. The Manchester South Ward is great! All the ways President Jacobsen and the assistants have been encouraging us (in zone conferences, interviews, etc.) to involve the ward in our work are happening here, probably in part because the assistants have been assigned to this ward for a long time. The bishopric and ward mission team have decided that before members can get excited about missionary work, they need to have their faith in Christ and basic habits of scripture study strengthened, and so they've worked out a series of lessons for us to teach to the members and are helping us set up appointments and teach the lessons. Having the priesthood leadership behind us is going to make it so much easier to help members do missionary work.
Elder Adams is a great missionary. Even though he's brand-new, he's already really good at recognizing the guidance of the Spirit and at feeling charity for the people that we meet and talk to. Yesterday morning we were GQing in town center and I set up an appointment to meet someone at 3:30 PM back in town center and teach him (on a bench or something). We came back at 3:30 PM but he wasn't there, so we sat down on a bench to wait for him. After a couple of minutes an older lady came and sat down next to us, and we chatted a bit with her. It was getting to be about 3:40, and it was pretty clear that the man we were supposed to teach wasn't coming, so I whispered to Elder Adams and suggested that we get going. He whispered back, "I think we're here for a reason." So we stayed there and kept on talking to the lady. She told us about how a lot of the people she loved had passed away, and it appeared that she was pretty lonely and sad. She wasn't interested in learning about the gospel, but we were able to share a few gospel principles in our conversation (about God's love for us, etc.) and the Spirit was there. When we finally left awhile later, we both felt like we'd planted some important seeds. It's a good thing Elder Adams was there and listening to the Spirit, because I probably would have just left and missed a good opportunity to uplift someone else.
Our teaching pool is decent-sized, and I don't have time to tell you about everyone right now (besides, I haven't met them all yet). But we had a really amazing lesson last night with one of the most wonderful families that I've ever gotten to teach on my mission. They have six kids (ages 12, 11,9, 3, and 1-year-old twins), and they got referred to the missionaries by a friend they met on the Internet who is a member of the Church from California and whom they apparently asked some question about the Plan of Salvation. Elder Davies (our district leader, who covered our area last transfer) taught them one time and went over the Plan of Salvation, and he set up last night's appointment for us. The three littlest kids were in bed when we came, so it was just the parents and the three oldest kids. They are great people, and they started asking us all sorts of questions about America, and then about the church. The questions they asked all led directly into the message of the Restoration, and we were able to teach it in a really clear and powerful way. When we taught about the Spirit, I read Galatians 5:22-23 and asked if they'd ever had feelings of peace like that, and they started describing all these times and ways that they'd felt the Spirit: "your heart feels warm," "you know that someone is watching over you," etc. It was amazing! Then when we taught about the Apostasy and Restoration, you could see that they all understood it so well - it was like watching light bulbs go on over their heads. We're so excited about teaching them!
I have so much more to say but am out of time again.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Sent: Saturday, May 17, 2008 4:36 PM
Subject: Minneapolis: Episode 2
Nothing changed with the new transfer, but next transfer we are expecting 3 new Hmong-speaking Elders.
I caught the neighbors home and they had the package! They had taken it inside because it was raining. I brought it inside and opened it up, and found that a large swarm of ants had prepared a surprise party for me and they were rather enjoying themselves and the bounteous refreshments. Had I known they were there I would not have brought the box inside yet, but there it was on my desk. Once they learned that I planned to remove some of the contents of the box, the party quickly turned into a skirmish. In the end, the homemade treats were compromised, the pictures had long since perished from water damage, but all other contents survived. The ants, however, did not (save it were a few that yet remained in the box when it was cast into the outside garbage can. A pencil can with a very flat lid earned a medal of Valor and the title "The Ant Crusher". We labeled it and everything.
UPS called to try to help, and now they know not to deliver to the side door. There are two side doors: one with the other unit's number, and the other without a number. I can see how they would assume that side door belongs to us.
We got to hear the President of The 70 speak to us today. Very neat indeed. I'm also excited to hear Elder Christopherson tomorrow. A rare opportunity.
Happy birthday Liz! May all your toes be bruiseless, and all your cilantro be fresh.
The weather's been nice, and the work's going pretty well---not much different, so things are splendid in general. Miracles are occurring, and I'm trying not to forget to write them down.
Cheerio and write back soon!
-Elder Moua Ying
I LOVED talking to you on Sunday. When I got off the phone, I felt like I was floating with happiness. : ) And Elder Webb's dad did eventually call, so you don't have to worry for him.
Lots of big news this week. First of all, I've been transferred. To Manchester! It's really exciting to be in the big, big city finally. Manchester and environs encompasses two of our mission's seven stakes; I'm in the Manchester stake in the Manchester South ward, which is one of the biggest wards (probably the biggest ward) in the mission. It meets in the oldest LDS chapel in England, which happens to be the chapel we all congregate to on transfer day. This is President Jacobsen's ward (although he's often visiting other ones around the mission), and has six missionaries right now. The sub-area within the ward that I'm covering has been covered by the assistants to the President for a long time (a couple of years, I think), so you can bet that the ward has a lot of trust for the missionaries and that the records for our area have been well-kept. We also have a really nice flat, with hardwood floors, two showers, and a big space-commander desk that I get to use for my morning study. My new address is
Elder Sam Pimentel
Flat 7, 2 Moor Lane
The even bigger news, however, is that I'm training a new missionary! His name is Elder Adams. Here's what the mission newsletter said about him when it announced all the incoming missionaries:
Elder Carl Jay Adams is from Ammon, Idaho (near Idaho Falls). He writes, plays, and records music. He plays the piano, violin, guitar, drums and harmonica. Elder Adams loves running and he excelled in track and field events in high school (300m and 100m hurdles). He received the Idaho Top Scholar award.
When I showed that to Elder Adams last night, he said he doesn't actually play the violin very well - he just barely started taking lessons before he came out. But that still leaves him being a pretty impressive guy. : ) He's a very together person and we will have a great transfer (or hopefully two) together. He and I are both a little overwhelmed right now, though, because we are whitewashing our area (i.e. neither of us was in the area last transfer, so we are brand-new). On our very first day, we had our missionary coordination meeting, and we just sat there with glazed expressions while the other four (very competent) Manchester South missionaries went through a long stream of business with the ward mission leader. When I asked Elder Adams if there was anything that I needed explained better, he said, "Not anything that you know more about than I do." : ) But we'll get going pretty soon - we have some pretty good investigators, apparently, and our area looks good so far.
Being a trainer is a huge jump in responsibility for me - When President Jacobsen issued the call to me on Sunday night, I was really, really excited. By the time we got to the chapel on transfer day to meet the new missionaries, though, I was practically shaking because I was so nervous. Just like when I came out, President Jacobsen didn't tell either the new missionaries or the trainers who they would be serving with until we were all in the chapel. 16 new missionaries were arriving, and I was the last one to be assigned, so I was pretty tense by the time I found out which one I would be getting. Not only am I senior companion for the first time, I am whitewashing an area. And, it turns out, I'm the oldest missionary in our district. Kind of crazy stuff
I have tons more to say but I have less than 120 seconds left. I love you all! I love England! I love training! I love Manchester especially!
Mother's Day is this Sunday! I'm looking forward to talking to you all.
At zone conference a couple of weeks ago, the assistants to the President went over three big commitments they want the missionaries in our mission to keep: to do bus contacting (talk to people on buses and invite them to be taught), to keep the missionary schedule (by going to bed on time, getting up on time, taking no more than an hour for lunch, etc.), and to be positive. So I've been thinking a lot about those things these days.
We had a good experience on Saturday. Elder Webb and I did some planning in the morning, had a big meal, and started fasting (since Fast Sunday was the next day). Then we went outside and started working. We had set up three appointments set up for the day, two with potential investigators in the afternoon and one with Jacob, our really solid recent convert, in the evening. As we went to contact some referrals and then to our appointments, we tried especially hard to talk to every person we met on the street ("forever finding" as the mission newsletter calls it) and we bus contacted. Unfortunately, both of our afternoon appointments fell through. We'd made a backup plan to go into town center and talk to people there, but when we got there it was overrun with drunken delegates from the Young Farmers' Convention (or something like that - apparently it's an annual event) behaving really rudely and making it impossible for us to contact people. Elder Webb in particular got really frustrated but we tried to stay positive, and we went to try on some more people. Finally it was time to see Jacob, but when we got to his flat he wasn't there either. We thought about going home to make some phone calls, but we decided we really wanted to teach a lesson so we knelt down outside Jacob's flat and prayed to be guided to someone whom we could teach. For the next hour we worked as hard as we could, and the Spirit guided us in an amazing way. We were walking down the street when Elder Webb and I both felt we should knock on a certain door that we were passing by, and the man who answered it gave us a referral! When we got to the bus stop later, we discovered that we had ten spare minutes before the bus came, so Elder Webb and I each picked a door near the bus stop and started knocking on it. The man who answered my door was not interested and not very polite about it, but at the next door I met a really wonderful family that knew a lot about the church and loved family history. We invited the mother to a big family history event being held at the church next week, and one of the daughters wanted us to come speak to the youth interfaith forum that she is a part of. The bus came just after we'd finished talking to these people. When we got on, there were only three other people on it: an old man, a man with headphones on, and another person way at the back. I decided I was going to talk to one of them (in order to keep the assistants' bus contacting commitment) and picked the old man, but he got off as we got on, so I ended up going to the back of the bus and talking to the man there. He was a great person and I had a wonderful conversation with him. When he got off, I asked him if we could stop by and he gave me his address! When we got home, Elder Webb and I sat down and thought about some of the good things that had happened in the day. Even though all our appointments had canceled and we didn't get to teach anyone, we got contact details for about six people (including the man I met on the bus) and we had a great experience being led by the Spirit. It was wonderful to look back and see how we'd been guided without really recognizing it at the time.
My driving is getting better. This Monday I worked on right and left turns. It's so satisfying to shift gears smoothly and correctly - I can see why some people like manual transmissions so much better than automatics.
Tuesday was our last district meeting before transfers. I was hoping to get a district photo to send to you, but Elder Prows' camera card isn't connecting to the terminal here, so I'll have to wait until I can develop photos from my camera. Transfer day is next week, and there's a high probability that I will be leaving Blackpool - I don't think President will leave Elder Webb and me together, and I'm more likely to be moved than he is since he's been here only six weeks. So for this week please send mail to the mission office instead of directly to my flat.
The weather is really warm here. I wore a short-sleeve shirt without a jacket for the first time (I think) on my mission yesterday, and it was great. Hopefully the rain will stay away for a while.
I love you all!
Congratulations to Ruth for making her decision! I think she will have a great time at Harvard.
We had a great lesson with Mitch and Natalie on Sunday night. Our Gospel Principles lesson on Sunday described baptisms for the dead briefly, which set us up perfectly to discuss Mitch's concern about how baptism by priesthood authority can be necessary for salvation. We realized that part of Mitch's concern is that he didn't really understand part of the Plan of Salvation - for instance, he's always referred to the Spirit World as "the waiting room" and on Sunday we discovered that he imagined it to be pretty much like an airport lobby, with everyone just sitting around waiting in boredom for the resurrection. : ) Now that we understand his concern a little better, I think we can teach in a more relevant way. The best part of the lesson, though, was the way Natalie (who's read a great deal from the Gospel Principles manual and the scriptures) helped us explain principles to Mitch. We're teaching them again tonight, so we'll see how it goes.
I forgot to mention it in my letter last week, but I took a driving lesson! The instructor (who has some contact with the church and was referred to us by our ward mission leader) took us out to an area with very little traffic and had me practice parking and shifting gears. I was a little shaky, especially because the instructor told me that I would need to start using a different kind of steering where I can keep both hands on the wheel at all times (as opposed to the hand-over-hand style I learned in America) and I didn't really understand how to use it. But I had another two-hour lesson this Monday, and I did much better. The instructor took us out to the Promenade, one of Blackpool's main drags, and had me go all the way down it almost to the edge of our area and all the way back up again into the North elders' area. It was a bit intimidating to be driving in traffic on such a major street, but by the end I was feeling pretty comfortable shifting gears. Hopefully I'll be able to get my license before too long! The instructor said she thought I would need 15-20 hours of lessons before I could pass my practical test, so that's only about six more weeks of lessons at this rate. Kind of exciting.
We had zone conference on Thursday, and the mission president announced a big change in our policy about meals with members: from now on we can only eat in members' houses when they have a nonmember there who is a progressing investigator or likely to become one. We're adopting this following the great success of a similar rule in mission(s) in the Eastern United States (the Jacksonville mission, perhaps?). This will necessarily lead to us being fed by the members less often and I'm not sure how all the missionaries are taking it, but I'm pretty happy about it - I think it will get us more chances to teach people in members' homes, and I don't mind providing my own food. Our whole district and zone seem to be on board too, which is great. The members haven't been taking it so well, however. When the new policy was announced in the Blackpool Relief Society (where a calendar is passed around for people to sign up to feed us), many feathers were ruffled. The sister who passed the calendar around handed it back to us blank but assured us in a kindly voice that she would complain about our mission president's cruelty to the stake Relief Society President. : ) The North elders went to a (previously-scheduled) tea appointment shortly after the announcement, and when the mother of the family prayed over the food she asked that the mission president's heart would be softened. : ) Kind of absurd. President Jacobsen saw all of this coming, of course, and in zone conference he said that when members complained about the policy, he would be happy to send them a hanky. Fortunately there are also families in the ward who are on board with the new policy, and we should be able to have tea with one family and their nonmember friend next week. Mom and Dad, I'm curious how your mission's policy went down in the Jacksonville 2nd Ward. Were members annoyed? Have the missionaries seen success from it?
There was a ward temple trip last week to do baptisms for the dead, and all three of our recent converts from February went! Yay! All three of them (two from our area and one from the North) have pretty solid testimonies and are integrating well into the ward. Jacob, one of our recent converts has been going through a rough time lately, so he called the Waltons, a family in the ward that he is really close to, to invite them over and ask for their advice. After their visit, Sister Walton gave us a call and asked us to go and give him a blessing. We stopped by this morning to give him the blessing, and as we left Sister Walton was there in her car to pick Jacob up so he could help her deliver Family History leaflets around the city, after which Jacob was going to eat lunch with the Waltons and then go and work on his genealogy at Brother Rowley's house. It lifts my heart to see members pitching and fellowshipping new converts without even involving us. It sounds like Mom and Dad are doing a great job of that in Jacksonville.
Today Elder Webb talked to a man on the bus who asked him if he was alone in England. He said no, his companion was in the back of the bus. Initially, the man misunderstood and thought my name was "Companion," but Elder Webb set him straight: "His name is Elder Pimentel." "Heck," said the man, "his parents sound like hippies." : )
We're teaching a great family who I think I've mentioned earlier. Elder Smith and Elder Colton (whom I replaced in this area) tracted into them last December. The parents are named Mitch and Natalie, and they have two little kids, a seven(?)-year-old and a two(?)-year-old. They have a born-again Christian background and really love to study and discuss the gospel. It's been interesting for me to teach them. Mitch is very talkative and dominates our lessons a little bit. Natalie is a quiet person and doesn't talk very much, but she loves to study and had started keeping a study journal even before she met the missionaries - she's read most of the Book of Mormon and highlighted verses that are meaningful to her and has now plowed through much of the Doctrine and Covenants too. Elder Webb and I weren't entirely sure about the strength of her testimony though, since she doesn't say very much when we teach, so last week we left them a set of written questions to answer in writing before our next visit. Some of the questions were "Do you believe Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God? Why?" and "What does it mean to you that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth?" When we taught them last night, Natalie shared her answers with us and we could tell that she had a really strong testimony of the truth of the gospel. It was wonderful to hear someone we've been teaching explain how she knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the missionaries were sent to her family from God. Yay! Mitch still has a concern about baptism by priesthood authority and how it can be necessary for salvation when so few people have access to it - he keeps on saying that Mormons won't be the only ones to be saved in the celestial kingdom (which, of course, is true). So next time we're planning on teaching them about baptism for the dead and how God has provided a way for everyone to receive priesthood ordinances the right way. I'm really excited about it.
Ian seems to have disappeared. We haven't been able to get in contact with him for over a week now, I think. We're guessing that he's moved out of Blackpool suddenly without telling anyone (something he told me and Elder Smith he might do due to some difficult personal circumstances). : ( But at least he knows the Church is true, has quit drinking, and has the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles manual. I just hope that he makes contact with the missionaries wherever he lives now so he can get baptized.
Elder Webb and I now work for a couple of hours a week at the British Heart Foundation charity shop in the swanky resort town of Lytham which is at the southern edge of our area. At the end of last transfer President Jacobsen gave us a call and told us that the shop manager there had called the mission office and asked for some missionaries to come and help her out! Usually we have to solicit community service opportunities, so it was great to have one handed to us like that. I like working at this shop much better than I liked working at the one in Runcorn. This one seems busier and more organized, and we've gotten to do a wider range of things around the shop: last week we were up in the attic boxing up a bunch of tacky Christmas ornaments, but this week we were on the shop floor rotating stock. I mentioned before I came out on my mission that I felt like I'd missed out on the American cultural experience of working retail - now, as a missionary in England, I'm getting it!
I went on exchange with Elder Turner this week, since he's now my zone leader. Our day together turned out kind of badly, since all our appointments ended up falling through, but I really enjoyed working with Elder Turner again, just like I did back in Barrow. He goes home in four months - within a few months of then, about 60% of the mission will have turned over (since several huge MTC groups will be going home, including Elder Turner's), and I'll be one of the "old" missionaries. Kind of crazy to think about.
I'm over my cold now, so I don't sound like a frog anymore. : ) After weekly planning last Thursday, Elder Webb and I were both feeling lousy so we both took a long nap. That seemed to turn things around pretty well and help us work better, and we've been in fine shape this week.
The toffee doughnuts were good, but not as good as Elder Prows talked them up to be. Our next project is to get the man at the chippy (fish-and-chips-shop) across the street to deep-fry Mars bars for us. : )
P.S. I hope Ruth has a great trip to Stanford. I'm a fan of that place. And I guess I hope she enjoys Harvard too. : )
We had a great experience while teaching a less-active sister this week. She is from "down south" (what everybody in this part of the country calls Southern England) and moved up here a few years ago with her several children. She'd like to come to church, but two of her daughters, one about 12 and the other about 14, don't like to go. She doesn't like to leave them home, so they all end up just staying. It's been a pretty tough situation for us to deal with. We went over and taught them on Sunday night - since we can't visit a single sister alone, we brought a great couple from our ward, the Waltons. Sister Walton is a really friendly and wonderful person who visits many of the sisters in the ward. After the Saturday session of General Conference in Chorley, she came up to the four of us Blackpool missionaries and got us all to come with her to visit a less-active sister in a nursing home and give her a priesthood blessing (a very appropriate post-Conference activity, especially for the conference where President Monson gets sustained). She and Brother Walton contributed a lot to the lesson. Then, right as we wrapped it up, Sister Walton asked if she could say something. She spoke to the 12-year-old daughter (the 14-year-old wasn't there), and boldly but lovingly explained to her that she was selfishly keeping her mother from attending church, and that the Spirit had prompted Sister Walton to tell this to the daughter. She told the daughter that she was supposed to be in Sister Walton's Sunday school class and that she wanted her to be there. She asked the daughter to think about how she could show her mother that she loved her by coming to church with her. Then Sister Walton asked that we all kneel and she said a prayer, asking for Heavenly Father to bless the whole family. It was wonderful to be there while that happened - I don't think either Elder Webb or I could have addressed the issue so well and with such a measure of the Holy Ghost.
We have been teaching a couple of recent converts who were baptized in February, a young Nigerian man named Jacob who is here studying business at a local college and a single mother named Danni who has a really smart six-year-old son. Both Jacob and Danni are really strong in the gospel right now, and I feel really lucky to get to teach them and be around them. Jacob is really excited about sharing the gospel. He has a copy of Preach My Gospel which we have been discussing with him. He has also started attending Institute in Chorley every week and is taking the Mission Prep class. This week, he told us, he and someone else in the class will practice teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (lesson 3), and he's pretty excited about it. We've been teaching him how to give away a copy of the Book of Mormon too. I guess it's always fun to teach someone how to do missionary work, but somehow doing it with a recent convert is especially wonderful.
Here's that story I didn't get to finish telling last week:
One evening a week or two ago Elder Smith and I were planning for the following day. We had some free time in the afternoon, so we prayed to know which area we should go to and settled on a certain neighborhood. We found a less-active member who lived in the same general area and decided to visit her first. When we got to her house the next day, she wasn't in, so we started tracting her street. Outside one of the houses, as we approached the door to knock on it, a lady got out of a Dog Warden van to knock on the same door as us. [new part starts here] She was at the house to pick up a stray dog that the houseowner had picked up. While we waited for the owner to come to the door, Elder Smith started talking to her and we got into a conversation about the Church. It turns out she lives near the church in Lancaster and was taught last year by missionaries up there. After we'd talked for a while, it was pretty clear that the owners of the house weren't in, which really confused the dog warden, since she was there to pick up a stray dog that had been found and the person who had found it had called her about ten minutes ago and said he/she was at home. We continued talking while she walked back to her car, and we could tell that she was interested in what we were saying, not just waiting for an excuse to leave. Then she got a phone call from the person she was supposed to meet and realized she'd gone to the wrong street. Before she drove away, we gave her a Restoration pamphlet and she said she'd read it (although she didn't give us her contact details - she said she knew where to find the Church if she needed it). I was really struck by the sheer coincidence of the whole experience - the fact that we happened to be in that certain area (where I'd never been before) knocking on the door at the exact same time, and not even the right door for her. Things like that help me know I'm being guided by the Spirit.
I went on exchange with Elder Prows yesterday. Elder Prows is 6'6", the same height as Elder Russell. He's a good missionary, very patient and relaxed, and I enjoyed working with him. I think he and Elder Carter will work really well together. Elder Prows been out for twenty months already, so this might be his last area.
Elder Webb and I are getting along great. I'm getting to know him a little better - it turns out he has 15(!) brothers and sisters. The other night we were looking at each other's pictures from home. Elder Webb looked at the photo of Dad and that giant UN helicopter and said, "Your dad looks like a movie star." : ) Elder Webb has actually been in a movie himself: Baptists at our Barbecue, which I think some of you have seen. He's an extra - the good-looking one, apparently. : )
I'm feeling really tired this afternoon, so sorry if I'm not writing as much or as clearly as usual. I've been a bit sick over the past couple of days with some kind of throat/sinus cold and I think that's why. But I've been taking a lot of Vitamin C and decongestant and that's been getting me through OK. I should be over it by the end of the week, I'd guess.
This morning we went to the sand dunes by the sea (kind of like the ones in the Hague, only not as grassy or as numerous) with the North elders and tossed Elder Webb's football around. We're going back there in two weeks to play Capture the Flag with the whole zone, which should be a blast. While we were there Elder Webb picked up fifteen seashells, one for each of his siblings (I guess seashells can be kind of exotic when you live in rural Utah).
Elder Prows (an experienced missionary) told us about these really good toffee-filled doughnuts that you can get really cheaply at ASDA (the Wal-mart of England, where we did our shopping today), and so Elder Webb and I both got some. I'm excited to try them tonight.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Subject: Zoo siab hnub nco txog niam!
Nyob zoo nej sawvdaws (Hello everyone)!
The subject of this email is how you would say "Happy Mother's Day". Literally it says "Happy day to remember about mother", or more literally,"Good liver sun remember about mother". Hmong is fun. The word "nco" can be used to mean to remember, but also to mean "to miss or long for". While I do miss you all and love you all, you don't have to worry about me being homesick. Thanks to all your letters, I don't have to wonder and worry about you, and I know more or less what's going on. I'm so focused on the work here that I don't have time to think of much else. I have noticed that this focus also makes time pass far too quickly. It scares me to see how long I've already been on my mission. People always ask how long I've been learning Hmong, and I hate to count. When I do figure out how long it's actually been, I realize how precious little time I have left and I work even harder.
I was pretty sure I told you about my transportation situation, but in case I didn't: it's the same deal as East Side. We have a car (Chevy Malibu with a V6 ^_^) and we have very limited miles, so we bike to nearby places, and load the bikes on the bike rack and drive to farther regions, then deploy the bikes and work around that area. There are days when the weather is bad and we forgo the bikes and just drive and walk.
The work is really picking up, lots of exciting things and many miracles. I'm trying to remember to write them down, but I forget some of them. We found a lot of new people, and are helping some people who have gone astray remember their testimonies.
Love you all, talk to you tomorrow!
-Elder Moua Ying
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Subject: FW: It's bloomin' pretty!
We're back to ordinary showers (rain showers) now---no more flurries. I haven't seen any jackalopes, but I have seen several rabbits, innumerable squirrels, and one unlucky turtle who didn't quite make it across the street fast enough. :(
Everything is starting to bloom here, and it's getting quite lovely. We are enjoying the cooler temperatures before it gets hot and muggy.
We've been experiencing a lot of miracles around here of late. Too many to write about, but I'll put them in my journal, and I'll share them some other time.
We had a great lesson with John Thao about scriptures, prayer, and baptism. He is a deeper thinker than his brothers and really gets this stuff. He's coming to church tomorrow, and we are going to set a baptismal date with him. Mai Vang is also coming to church, and we will set a date with her too.
We got a referral from some Mika Elders who have been helping home teach and old Hmong man (English speaker) who is the only member in his family. The old man moved, but his son and the rest of the family are still there. They love having the missionaries over, but don't speak English. We are eager to meet them.
Chue is getting pretty stoked for his mission. He is pretty close to receiving the Melchizedek priesthood, and is working hard. He hasn't had a drink since October, despite intense pressure from his best friend in the world, Vader (yes, that's his real name). Vader offered him a drink at a party and insisted he drink it. Vader told him that if he did not, he would end their friendship then and there. Chue was in a tight spot. He considered carefully, shook his head and said that his commitment to God was more important. Vader clapped him on the back and told him he had passed the test. Vader just wanted to see if Chue was serious about his religion or if he was just going through a phase, or perhaps acting pious just to look good. Chue has come a very long way.
Congratumalations on all gradumatations and eaglery, and things of the like! Keep it up!
The Twins game was a bundle of fun, I have some pictures. We won 4 to 3, and it was pretty exciting. We got a free hot dog and drink with our ticket, and it was "dollar dog Wednesday" so I got 2 more dogs for a buck a piece (limit 2 per person). Good deal---2 bucks for 3 dogs and a drink. :)
May your rice bowl be full, and your pigs be fat.
-Elder Moua Ying