Subject: Tseem muaj cov Hmoob!
Things are certainly different here. It is very bizarre to be out of the Hmong bubble. It was very weird to attend church where the chapel is full, the talks are in English, the people can and do sing, and there is an organist who knows more than 3 songs and can play them at a comfortable tempo.
The members are awesome! They love missionaries and take care of them pretty well. They not only have a ward mission plan, but family mission plans too. They are pretty good about fellowshipping investigators, but our best investigator has a phobia of crowds and strangers---I'm not sure what that's called...throngphobia? Anyway they do a good job of welcoming her and showing love without overwhelming her.
A zebra team is one that has one English speaker and one foreign speaker. This area has not been a zebra area for a long time. The last time it was was before my mission. We do what the Mika teams did in this area before---teach anyone we find that can understand us and we can understand them. The difference is now we can communicate with a whole lot more people. Tracting is way different than in the Hmong work. We can now tract every house! We usually tract around the neighborhood when an appointment or stop-by falls through. We couldn't do that in the Hmong work too much because the homes are so spread out, there may be only one or two in that neighborhood. Whenever we're traveling and we see a Hmong house, we stop and knock. So we do seek out Hmong families, but we teach everyone.
I feel bad for Elder Nielson when we have a lesson with a Hmong family. He just sits there. I'm teaching him some Hmong so he can greet people etc. Hopefully soon he will be able to make basic small talk and eventually be able to bear his testimony.
Elder Nielson is from Utah. About 40 miles south of Provo...I can't remember exactly where (man, now I feel bad). He is a good guy, he's into sports and things, he's kind of reserved... um...I don't know. We get a long fine, though we don't have much in common. It's probably a good thing we don't have too many common interests because otherwise we would be tempted to talk about them way too much and that could distract us from the Spirit and the work. Elder Richard Vang and I got along way too well and it was a real struggle.
Did I tell you that Elder Erickson is the Hmong District Leader now instead of Elder R. Vang? I think I did...
I have permission to call the Hmong district during language study to practice Hmong from time to time. I've been able to speak with at least one Hmong person almost every day so far, so I haven't called yet, but maybe I will so I can find out what the new Elders' Hmong names are.
The work is going very well! The first couple days were difficult. This being a smaller town, most everybody has met missionaries or Jehovah's Witnesses before, and won't give us a chance to say anything. Our new mission president's wife spoke to us about how everyone is rejected before they are accepted, especially the savior. During His earthly ministry, he was rejected by most and had only a few thousand followers, many of whom weren't completely sincere. During His later ministry in the Americas he was welcomed with tears of love and joy and the tens of thousands couldn't bear for Him to leave.
Most everyone here is very firm in their church and don't want to discuss religion nor hear about it. After we were rejected in the town for the first two days or so, we pressed on with faith, and hope in the Lord's promises. We have been richly blessed, and have been led to many whom the Lord had prepared. The manner and timing of how we "happened" to encounter each of these people is miraculous.
Krisse is going to be baptized on the 15th. She has been investigating a long time and wanted to be absolutely sure the church was true. She has been carefully reading the Book of Mormon, praying before and after each chapter for understanding. When planning my first lesson with her, I read the teaching record and Mosiah 18 popped into my head. I felt we should read it with her. When we got there and asked her how her reading was going, she said she was in Mosiah and came across a verse that really resonated and stuck with her. *Ding* it was Mosiah 18: 10. It had been occupying her mind and pressing upon her feelings. She had originally said she wouldn't decide to get baptized until after she finished the BoM, but she felt the Lord was telling her differently. Huzzah!
Her husband, Richard, had been dismissing this whole religion thing for a long time, saying it was only for those that had problems and fears, and that his life was fine. We've been praying for him a lot, and recently he realized that if this is so important to his wife, it must be worth looking into because he trusts her judgment. He want to get sealed to her, and he is now working towards baptism. Double huzzah!
Acckkhh! I need to go. Kuv hlub nej os!
-Elder Moua Ying