Monday, April 20, 2009

Notes from Sam -- 20 April 2009

Elder McIntosh and our zone conference teaching skill robot.
Elder Garcia and me, sporting the worst haircut of my life (a story for another day). Don't worry, it's fixed now.

Dear family,

We had a good day at church yesterday. Last week at church Christian had been assigned to give a talk on resurrection in Primary and Cara had been assigned to read a scripture. All week Lisa helped them prepare for this. Then on Saturday, something came up to keep Lisa from coming to church. But since the Primary presidency had given her kids those assignments and because the kids were so excited about it, she felt obligated to get her kids to church and arranged for them to go even though she couldn’t. So Christian and Cara came again and had a great experience! I think this experience shows how important members are in helping investigators attend church. We saw Lisa’s family three times and committed them to come according to Preach My Gospel principles, but what made the difference was the way the Primary presidency had involved those kids and given them (and in effect Lisa) responsibility. Over the past couple of weeks Elder McIntosh and I have been thinking a lot about what it takes to get investigators to church, and I’m beginning to see that the more we involve members in the process (as Preach My Gospel directs) the more committed the investigators are and the more faith I have that they will actually get up on Sunday morning and come.

In that same vein, Sharon (Richard’s girlfriend) came to church too. Last week she left after sacrament meeting but this time she stayed for Gospel Principles, thanks in large part to a member in the ward who knows her and Richard and who did a great job of chatting with and fellowshipping them. To top it off, Richard’s sister Dawn, whom we have never even taught, came to church with them! Richard referred her to us a while ago and we have been trying to teach her for a bit but haven’t succeeded. She seemed to get a lot out of church, though, and now we have an appointment to teach her on Tuesday. It’s so good when nonmembers come to church and have a great experience! I think that is one of the most rewarding moments of missionary work, one of those times when a sort of veil is opened to us and we can see the people we are teaching becoming active members of the church.

Church attendance was also high across the zone! This is especially great because there are 16 people dated for baptism in the zone, and almost all of them came. By attending church, they are showing real commitment to those baptismal dates. In Crewe ward, four people (all of whom came this past Sunday) are getting baptized this coming Saturday. It’s been a while since we’ve seen that many people fully receiving the gospel all at once.

The zone has seen miracles not just in progressing investigators to baptism but in finding new ones. Something we’ve focused on in the zone over the past few transfers is the “consecrated finding hour,” a practice in which missionaries devote a whole hour of their day strictly to a finding activity such as tracting or GQing and really make that time sacred by planning carefully and prayerfully for it the night before and praying at the beginning of the hour to set it apart. Sister Johnson and Sister Coleman are serving in Congleton, which historically has been one of the most difficult areas for missionary work in the stake, and they have really caught the vision of the consecrated finding hour. This week they had some great experiences: on one day they had their finding hour right after a visit with members, and they invited the members to pray with them and then to come out and street contact with them! The husband in the member family ended up setting up two appointments for the sisters and I believe the wife set up three! Another day, they spent their finding hour out in the countryside among some farms (the kind of place where there aren’t many people and it’s usually quite difficult to find many good contact) and they were able to set up two appointments! Believing that the appointments would go through, they brought a member along for both, and not only did the appointments happen but the member ended up knowing both the people they’d contacted! Altogether, the Congleton sisters had 14(!) new investigators this week (mission standard is 2), and it sounds like most of them came from their consecrated hours of finding. Wow! One reason I love being a zone leader is that I get to hear about all these great experiences and share in the excitement. I’m really blessed to be serving with such great missionaries and hearing about the miracles they experience.

Elder McIntosh and I also found some new investigators this week. The most promising one is a man named Kirk, who lives on the very edge of our area, only a few yards from the border with Stoke ward. He is originally from Rwanda but lived in Uganda (maybe he was born there?) and had to flee from there to England. He told us the story of how he was detained by immigration authorities for a year when he first arrived. I got the sense that was a very difficult time for him. During our second lesson, he got out a battered old copy of the Bible - the printing date was 1964(?) and the flyleaf had something like “Property of Farnham Congregational Church Youth Group” written on it – and told us about how a preacher at the church in the detention center had given him that Bible. As he recounted the story I could feel his love for the Bible and his testimony of Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful moment. I think I will enjoy helping Kirk come to feel the same way about the Book of Mormon. He already understands the ideas of the Restoration very clearly and is eager to learn about it. As we left his house yesterday he placed his blue paperback copy of the Book of Mormon on top of his old Bible and gripped the two books together as if making some kind of statement about them. Remembering it now makes me think about Ezekiel 37:15-17 and how the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph “shall become one in thine hand.” True prophecy really is fulfilled.

I forgot to mention this last week, but I got a letter from Yvonne Matapo! It sounds like she’s doing really well. She talked about how her family opposed her joining the church at first and how she wasn’t even completely sure about it at the time but that since her baptism the Holy Ghost has confirmed that it was the right choice. She has finished the Book of Mormon but she still carries it around with her everywhere and reads it on the way to work. She said she wishes she had accepted the gospel earlier and that if she had, she might “be on [her] mission already.” She is just a pretty amazing person. I’m so blessed to have gotten to teach her.

Elder McIntosh and I had some funny experiences while finding yesterday. We were talking to some people who had met and been taught by missionaries some 15-20 years before. They were telling us about how the missionaries had gone places with them, had played badminton with them, etc., and how they had taught them to make “those crisps with cheese - those tortillies!” A very English description of nachos. : ) Later on, we street contacted a man who was coming out of a pub. I started to teach him a principle, but he stopped me. Then he said, “I’m an alcoholic, I smoke like a trooper, and I only believe in one thing: Henry VIII. He created my church. No!” : )

Tomorrow we have an all-mission conference at Chorley! President Boyd K. Packer is coming to speak to us. It’s very exciting! A lot of us were hoping President Packer would come at some point since he is Sister Bullock’s father.* Tonight Elder McIntosh and I will take the train to Chorley and stay over there with the Chorley zone leaders so we can be there bright and early tomorrow for the conference.

I love you all!

Elder Pimentel

*Speaking of which, remember in President Packer’s priesthood session talk in (this most recent) conference where he mentioned how some of his grandsons had come to visit him, some with their fiancĂ©es and one with his mission call to Japan? The one with his mission call to Japan was Scott Bullock, the one Elder Garcia and I went teaching with over Christmas. Pretty cool, huh? I think Peter Olson is in that same mission and should surely meet Elder Bullock.

Notes from Sam -- 15 April 2009

Dear family,

We taught two amazing new investigators this week! Matthew and Lavonne are their names. Elder McIntosh and I had gone all week without finding any new investigators, and when we showed up for our appointment with Matthew on Sunday at 7 PM the address he gave us didn’t exist! We rang him and found his real address, but then it turned out he wasn’t at home. We stayed in the area though and finally at about 7:35 we were able to teach him and his girlfriend Lavonne. As we got to know them he mentioned some of the struggles he’s been going through, and both of us independently felt prompted to read from Alma 36 with him. As we did so the Spirit was really strong and we identified it with them. Then we taught about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, and again the Spirit was amazing. When we asked Matthew about his feelings he told us how good he felt about the Joseph Smith story and then commented, “I know it’s true.” That’s the first time I’ve had that happen! We committed him and Lavonne to be baptized. By the end of the lesson we’d identified the Spirit several times and had even demonstrated how our prayer at the beginning of the lesson that we would feel the Spirit had been answered. Since then we’ve had a second great lesson with Matthew on scripture study, and we are seeing him and Lavonne today with our great ward mission leader. Missionary work is amazing!

Besides Matthew and Lisa, Christian, and Cara (who are still amazing and came to church this week) we have another very promising investigator named Sharon. She is the girlfriend of a less-active member named Richard on our home teaching list. They both came to church last Sunday. The first time Elder Garcia met her she seemed very cold towards us, but after a few visits she seems to trust us a lot more. In the last lesson she asked us if our visits are for the purpose of converting her to be a Mormon, and we were able to state our purpose and explain why we want her to be baptized. She had a misunderstanding about the doctrine of kingdoms of glory that had been a big concern for her (she thought we believed only members of the church would go to the celestial kingdom), and we were able to clear that up, which was great. She enjoys reading the Book of Mormon, and we’re looking forward to teaching her more.

Let me tell you a bit about last week. I told you that Elder Garcia had been called as the new assistant to the President. Transfers is always on a Wednesday, and usually phone calls to newly-called leaders come on Sunday night followed by transfer calls on Monday night. As the new assistant, however, Elder Garcia got his call on Friday morning, though, and was told that the current assistants would come that afternoon to take him to the mission office for the next few days to help with transfer planning. That left me without a companion, so President assigned me to work in a companionship of three with the two Stoke elders for the rest of the week, covering both our areas. He also swore us to secrecy about Elder Garcia’s call (which wouldn’t be made public until Monday night) in order to eliminate needless rumors.

Thus began several very exciting days! Having two companions instead of one, especially two great ones like Elder Newson and Elder Hernandez, is a lot of fun. It makes finding more effective (since there are three of you to talk to people instead of two) and allows you to enter any home whether or not there is another male present. We also had a car, two different apartments, and two different wards (with all the associated investigators and appointments) to cover, so we kept very busy, driving from place to place and appointment to appointment. On the first night of our time together, we had two dinner appointments with members (one in Newcastle Ward and one in Stoke Ward), neither of which we were able to cancel, and so we had to eat two dinners back-to-back! : ) The trials of missionary life. The secrecy aspect was fun too. Since Elder Newson is a district leader, he had to take phone calls from his district every night and pretend I wasn’t around, and I had to take phone calls from the other district, pretending that I was back in Newcastle with Elder Garcia. It turned out to be quite challenging to avoid dropping telltale clues – I guess I wouldn’nt make a very good spy.

I’m really excited to have Elder Garcia as the new assistant! I really like his training style and have already enjoyed the presentations I’ve heard from him this transfer. I’m also really blessed to have had the chance to serve with him. He was an amazing zone leader and taught me important leadership principles, and in general he just built my faith a ton. Since he’s gone a few people have mentioned that I’m doing some thing or other a bit the way Elder Garcia would have, and I always feel really complimented! I mentioned to him that you appreciated his letter.

This last week has been one of the busiest of my mission! We had zone leaders’ council, district leaders’ council, and zone conference. Besides actually attending the meetings, we had to prepare the entire district leaders’ council meeting and a 35-minute training for zone conference, as did each of the other zone leader companionships. After zone conference as we were cleaning up the chapel I noticed that Elder Shull, one of the Manchester zone leaders, looked about ready to sleep for a week. I actually loved every bit of this week for all its shortened sleep and craziness, though. I really enjoy preparing and presenting trainings, especially when you can get missionaries excited about things. I think that’s something else I’ve learned from Elder Garcia – he had a spiritual gift for preparing really amazing trainings that were exciting and produced great results, and in the course of serving with him I feel I’ve “caught the bug” and developed real faith in the power of good trainings. Elder McIntosh and I put together some great stuff for our trainings this week: in district leaders’ council we likened preparing investigators to come to church to the Creation (a spiritual creation, i.e. the weekly planning session, precedes the actual creation, small things are accomplished each day of the week in culmination for a Sunday in which everything is completed, etc.) and for our zone conference training we likened the Preach My Gospel teaching skills to the Power Rangers, who in times of particular peril can each metamorphasize into a different mechanical component and join together to form a powerful robot. By the way, it’s a good thing that ONE of the elders in our companionship got to watch Power Rangers when he was growing up. : ) Fortunately most of the zone had watched it too (including one of the sisters). Both trainings went pretty well.

Elder McIntosh is great. I love him. He's also turning out to be a natural-born zone leader. Last night, after our training on teaching skills, he had a dream in which he was watching the two of us teach a lesson from above and critiquing us on our teaching skills.

I assume you’ve mailed me info about Stanford housing and that there will be time to get it sorted by post. If you need me to reply quicker than that will allow, please get in touch with the Mission Office!, I believe. Also, I got the driver’s license application, dad, and will be sending it soon.

Love you!
Elder Pimentel

Sunday, April 19, 2009

From Jon 4/18/2009

Subject: Vajtswv pheej foom koob hmoov rau wb

Nyob zoo tsev neeg!
Buenos dias! I hear that there will now be two Spaniard Fifes out in the vineyard. One in Chile and one in the DR. Neat.
Richard will have been a member for a year come September, and he and Krissee plan on being sealed. I hope there is some way I can attend.

Nothing changed with the new transfer, but we did get a whole bunch of blessings all at once. We have some promising new investigators!
Thib ib: Angelena---45-55, friend of a strong member, has been to our church one or two times in the past, and liked it. She has had a copy of the BoM in Hmong for a long time, and has been reading it! Not only that, but she understands it, loves it, and knows the stories very well. We were discussing one difference between the bible and the BoM is that the Bible has been through many hands and languages of men, and is therefore less clear in teaching the same truth, while the BoM was translated by God's power. I explained how Joseph had little schooling, but the Lord gave him knowledge and wisdom to know what the writings meant. Angelena then astounded us by saying something to the effect of, "Oh yes, that makes sense. This way there is no more confusion. God frequently reveals wisdom and knowledge to his prophets little by little by little. Like when he showed Nephi everything that happened in the past and will happen in the future, and when He gave Lehi instructions little by little as they fled Israel and traveled in the plains and jungles, and when Jacob was telling Joseph about the ancient Joseph in Egypt and how he knew his grandchildren would be preserved." Once we gathered our respective jaws up from the floor, we asked her why hasn't been going to our church. She said she didn't know. She'd always just gone to the Hmong Alliance church, and that's the one her kids like. No one ever invited her to join our church...just to attend every once in a while. I guess she must have figured that it doesn't matter which church you attend, but you should actively seek the truth. We didn't have time then, but we plan to explain authority next time.

Thib ob: Mai See, 15-16, met her on her way home from school. She is very bright, Christian, and recognizes the importance of spirituality and preparing for the life after. She understands very well, and seems responsible and committable. Happy day.

Thib peb: The Yang family. I can't remember the father's name. Maybe...Vam Tshoj, or something like that. We'll Mikafy that to be Va Cho. We talked to Va Cho and his wife as they were coming home from something. They invited us in. They called all of the kids that were home to gather around. Here they come..1...2,3,4..5,6...7.....8. We asked how many kids they have. "Oh, ten---no, wait...eleven, but three aren't home." They all sat around us on the floor attentively. Not even the little ones were running around doing cartwheels and screaming. Teenagers were not constantly walking in and out and through. They were all participating and asking all the right questions. Especially Ying, whose name was actually Chi Moua Ying, but everyone just called him Ying, so when they came to America three years ago, he just put his legal name as Ying Yang. Ying asked questions like, "Why are there so many religions in the world that worship the same God?" and "Why did Jesus die on the cross?" and "How does God answer our prayers?" They're all way nice. That was 10 solid new investigators in one blow! What's more, Va Cho lets his kids go to church!

Love ya! See ya!

-Elder Moua Ying

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

From America's Dairyland!

Things have been going well here as our new addition has been welcomed by all. Tiara has been a true gem in accepting Kenshin as her little bro. She is very protective of him (throws fits when doctors or others try to hold him) and is constantly claiming him as "hers." We're surprised Kenshin has been able to even gasp for breaths of air in between all of her kisses. Kenshin is growing into quite the sumo. He is over 14 lbs and is wearing 6-9 mo onesies now. He is sleeping like a champ and is very liberal with his smiles!Spring is here and we're ready for the temp to break 50! (It's been a while) We've been doing some spring cleaning as well as some remodeling of the bedrooms. We'll post some before and after pictures when we get them loaded.Tiara has been talking up a storm. It is so nice to be able to communicate with her! Some fun things she says/does:Any sneeze, cough, throat clearing will earn a "bless you!" from her. It could be anyone too! She blesses people at church, stores, restaurants, and from the complete opposite side of the house as well.She now plays mommy with her baby doll, and does everything she sees mommy do to Kenshin..........everything.......Can almost do a somersaultShe can sing the ABC's (look for video post)She helps cook by tossing salads, mixing batter, taste testing etc.The list goes on and on. She makes our lives ..... adventurous!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Notes from Sam -- 8 April 2009

Dear family,

It has been an amazing week and a half and I have only 12 minutes to write this letter! I'll try and send a more complete one next week.

The most important stuff: I am staying in Newcastle for the next six weeks. Elder Garcia has been called as the new assistant to the president, and my new companion is Elder McIntosh, the one I served around for two transfers in Manchester and three in Blackburn. He's a good missionary, and it will be fun to serve with him and teach him the ropes of being a zone leader.

I mentioned to Ruth that I wasn't able to read her letter about the housing draw (due to mission policies that prohibit us receiving forwarded communications from friends by email). If this is really urgent, please let me know right away so I can get permission from President to read and reply to the email. I mentioned to Ruth that I will be checking email on Monday or Tuesday. If that will be too late, please email the mission office and let them know about the situation. Thanks! Sorry about the hangups.

A couple of things that have been going on:
Our zone had an amazing week of quality gospel conversations last week! The mission standard is for each companionship to get 70 QGCs and 12 appointments in a week, and while some of our companionships have gotten that regularly others have struggled. At the beginning of the (just-finished) transfer, Elder Garcia and I met with the district leaders and set a goal for each companionship to increase in QGCs until by the last full week of the transfer when everybody would get 70/12. The district leaders emphasized that goal strongly and last week everyone was able to do it! In fact, most companionships greatly exceeded it. We all had to work together to make it happen too. The sisters from Congleton came and worked in our area while they were in the area for General Conference and got us some appointments, and we were able to go over to their area on Sunday night and get the last appointment they needed to hit standard for them. In the other district, three companionships had the weekly standard by Friday night but the fourth one was way behind. So on Saturday Elder Rose took another missionary with him to the struggling area and stopped people in their town centre for about 5 hours straight, helping them far surpass the standard. It was a pretty exciting week for us.

General Conference topped it off. I loved every minute of it! I think my favorite talks were the one by Elder Hales, the ones in the priesthood session by Presidents Uchtdorf and Eyring, and the one by Elder Holland. It makes me sad to think this is my last mission General Conference.

I've got to go now! More next week!

Elder Pimentel

Notes from Sam -- 30 March 2009

Dear family,

We're having beautiful weather here! Daylight Savings Time was yesterday here in England, so the days have also just gotten a lot longer. I'm looking forward to the summer, and also to General Conference next weekend.

I hope Ruth had a happy birthday. I sent her a letter - hopefully it arrived on time.

This week has been up and down like crazy. We taught Rob Rainbow and his family again on Tuesday, and he was still on fire. He told us he'd watched the Restoration DVD (which we'd left him) seven times. He'd also invited one of his friends, a man named Chris Cam, over for our return appointment so we could teach him! Chris had a big concern about how God could exist when there is so much evil in the world. We talked about how God allows agency, but he wasn't really convinced. Finally, towards the end of the lesson, we were talking about prayer and Chris mentioned that only once in his life had he ever had a prayer answered and said something about the experience. At that point our fellowshipper (a young single adult who hasn't yet gone on a mission) jumped in and said something like, "See? You do know that God exists!" Chris sat back and thought about that for a moment, and we could tell he was feeling the Spirit. It was as though his countenance was changing before our eyes. He realized that he did know that God existed, and after that he had a different attitude about the lesson and listened really carefully to us (at one point Rob jumped in to say something and he seemed annoyed at the interruption and asked us to keep on teaching - "Go on, mate!"). He committed to be baptized as he continues to feel right about it! After the lesson, our fellowshipper told us that he'd never seen anyone feel the Spirit so clearly before. It was a great moment for all of us. The Spirit testifies to investigators quite often in the first lesson, but it always feels like a miracle to me, and I think it really is.

Unfortunately Rob Rainbow and Chris Cam have not endured in faith. When we rang to confirm an appointment with them on Thursday, Rob told us he wasn't interested in meeting with us anymore. When I invited him to remember how he felt that first time when we shared the First Vision with me, he didn't answer and handed the phone to someone else, a woman from another Christian church that Diane (Rob's partner) had been baptized in a while back. It turns out that people from this church had visited the Rainbows after our second appointment and convinced them that they didn't need the Book of Mormon and shouldn't accept visits from us any more. The woman who spoke to me on the phone essentially rebuked me for preaching a false message, and when I explained we'd still like to visit Rob and strengthen his faith in Christ, she asked us not to and said something like, "What I'm trying to say is that Rob wants you to get lost, but he's too sensitive to say it right now so I'm here to say it for him." Grrr. It frustrates me when other Christians go about doing things like this. There really has been a great apostasy in our world, and it's painful sometimes to see all the people living at least partly in spiritual darkness because of it. But it's part of the work.

Anyway, I'm sure Rob Rainbow and Chris Cam (who has similarly chosen to investigate this other church at the moment) will not forget what they felt as we shared the restored gospel with them - in Chris' case, I think his whole involvement in this other church is a result of what he felt as we taught him. We were commiserating about the situation with Chris Rainbow (who knows both Rob and Chris Cam quite well), the other day, and he says he thinks they'll come around in the end. Chris Rainbow is great, very converted to the true gospel - he even spoke to Chris Cam this weekend and tried to convince him to attend church with us, testifying of the Church and attempting to resolve Chris' concerns. We're lucky to be teaching him (Chris Rainbow) again. He hasn't been out to church yet, but we're working on getting him back there.

The Baileys are still doing well. They've missed church for a couple of weeks now due to emergencies and unexpected challenges, but they still have great testimonies, especially Lisa. We're reteaching them the main three lessons, and Lisa is really grasping the doctrine now in a way she never did before. In particular, when we taught the Plan of Salvation she really understood the Fall and how significant it is. Apparently the story of Adam and Eve had confused her throughout her Catholic upbringing - "I haven't been able to understand that for thirty years," she told us. It's so exciting when people really get the doctrine that way.

I went on exchange with Elder Breisch in Crewe this week. Crewe is on fire right now - they have 6 people dated for baptism (one got baptized this past week as well) and are teaching all the time. Their investigators seem to like them a lot, too, because when I came on exchange one part-member family had just given them a cake decorated to look like a giant Book of Mormon and another investigator (a cheesemaker) had given Elder Breisch a big 2.5-kilo block of Cheshire cheese. Elder Breisch and I had some interesting experiences on exchange: we street contacted a man who was carrying a dead rabbit ("I'm busy, mate") and we went to the stake roadshows with some investigators. The roadshows sounded like a great place to be with our investigators, and we were quite surprised when the first roadshow mentioned tithes and offerings (something these investigators hadn't yet been taught) quite prominently and even featured a Primary-size child costumed as a giant tithing slip! : ) I think I appreciated the humor of the moment a little more than Elder Breisch, who was squirming in his chair a little bit and undoubtedly anticipating some awkward questions. We also realized the music that was being played as part of the roadshows was not appropriate for missionaries to be listening to and ended up leaving after the first roadshow (the investigators stayed and were taken care of by members). The kind of evening that becomes a good story once it's over. : )

I've been meaning to mention this for a few weeks now, but there's an English sister missionary in our zone who spent the year before her mission living in Den Haag! She moved there in December(?) 2007, so I guess she missed you all. She attended the Hague ward and knows everybody there as well as many of the people in the stake. When I was talking to her about it I kept on wishing that Mom and Ruth were here to recognize all the people she was mentioning - many of the names were familiar but I couldn't really connect them to people. Anyway, it's cool how small the world of the Church can be sometimes.

Next week is transfers. !!! So preparation day will not be on Monday. It's virtually certain that either Elder Garcia or I will be transferred, so to play it safe you can send post to the mission office until you hear otherwise (I should be able to get the post at zone leader's council which I believe is next Friday). I'll probably be emailing next Thursday.

I love you all! Enjoy General Conference! I sure will be.

Elder Pimentel

P.S. It sounds like several babies have been born in the extended family and friends circle. I'm struggling to keep track fo them all, but congratulations to those concerned!

From Jon 4/11

Subject: Huab cua zoo nkauj

Nyob zoo!

That's so exciting! Lope-a-tope is going to be spreken spaniardian in the land of Nephi! It's good to hear he won't have to put up with much hot and mugginess in his portion of the land down under. It is also a cause for rejoicing that we will see each other for the space of a time ere he departs.

We've been earning some good street cred around the hood. All the "G"s respect us a lot, and many tell us, "If anyone gives you guys [trouble], you tell us, and we'll [ensure they don't do it again]." It makes me feel safe to be on most everyone's good side.

We went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, and I went to Dinkytown, which is mostly the U of M campus. It was a lot of fun. It reminded me a lot of LaCrosse, where we would sometimes walk around campus and talk to everyone. We met a student from Japan named Yoshi. He was really nice and polite (of course). He has been in the country for almost a year and has a very heavy accent. He apologized that his "Engrish is not complete", but he understood well enough if we spoke slowly and simply. I can't remember the name of his hometown, but when I mentioned Fukishima, he lit up and said that's really close to where he lives. He wanted to learn more about God and it was a really good conversation. When we first spotted him, Elder Brown, whom I was with, thought he was Hmong and excitedly told me to talk to him. I could tell he was not Hmong, and very likely native Japanese, so I greeted him in Japanese, which greatly startled Elder Brown, and even more startled Yoshi. What startled Yoshi more (and rather delighted him), was when I continued in Japanese with one of the only sentences I know. It's funny how much more people trust you if you can speak even a little of their language. For this reason I often speak Hmong when I first meet Hmong people, even that person answers back in English.
The Zone Leaders share an apartment with another team there, and when we met up with them that night, we noticed that each of the four of us was wearing a different language nametag: English, Spanish, Hmong, and German. Elder Brown was a Spanish Elder before he was a Zone Leader, and Elder Glenn served in Berlin, Germany, but had to come back for surgery on his leg, and is now here. I told him he just missed meeting my Uncle.
Conference was wonderful! Xai Chor and his family came to at least half of the sessions, which were broadcast in Hmong in a different room in the stake center. They liked it.
Neng Thao and Mai Lee also attended both days, but Mai Lee still didn't fully understand what prophets are. We explained afterwards, but it would have been more beneficial if she would have understood the first time we explained it so she could have gone into conference with that context.

I'm trying to decide if I want conference in audio form. It's kind of a hassle to try to find a member who can put it on my MP3 player for me. We don't ever have time to do stuff like that, and it's hard without a car.

Happy Easter! We've found that a lot of people on the street walk around wearing crosses, but they don't even know what Easter is about. Nor the atonement, half of the time. This season opens a lot of good teaching opportunities.

Well, that's the end of our show, tune in next week! Love ya!
-Elder Moua Ying

Monday, April 6, 2009

From Jon 4/3/09

Subject: Nyob zoo ib zaug ntxiv

Nyob zoo!

It's me again! P-day was moved to today to accommodate conference. I just wrote, so not much is new. It's always nice to be able to say hi though. Any news on the location of the people Lopeytope will teach, and the brand of words they will use? What about Georgie?

We are really pushing for everyone to come to conference this weekend, particularly our progressing investigators. The only thing holding back Xai Chor, and therefor Mee, from being baptized is that Chor wants a stronger testimony first. He believes the church is true, but he hasn't received an answer from God yet. He told us that when he prays, it feels kind of empty, and he wants it to feel good and refreshing like he hears people describe it. Next lesson we will read Enos with him and teach him how to make prayer more powerful. We may invite him to fast. Hopefully conference will give him the spiritual confirmation he needs.

Recently we were visiting with a nice Hmong lady who liked to talk a lot, and she was describing the differences between the US legal system and the way things are done in her village in Laos. She said if someone is accused of theft, and they deny it, the suspect is to dip his arm in chicken grease, then rinse with water. If he is innocent, his arm will be fine. If he is guilty, his arm will be irritated, inflamed, and/or it will break out with blemishes.
If one is accused with adultery, they must drink water from the accuser's jug. If he has a stomach ache, he is guilty.
If one is accused of murder, a legitimate trial is held with witnesses, evidence, etc. If he is found guilty, he must pay a "head price" of about the equivalent of $13,000. If he cannot, he is imprisoned until his family and friends can pool together enough money to get him out. Keep in mind, the people in Laos are dirt poor, and a dollar goes a lot further there.

They also have many interesting medical practices, including dropping a few small beetles into a cup of water and swigging it down to cure headaches. (She offered this to me, and I politely declined, telling her I was sure my headache would go away soon, and that it was very small, and besides, I had some medicine at home if it persisted).
She also showed me some special grass she was growing that she was going to soak in water to make a kind of eye-drop solution that evidently cures pink-eye. One time I had a brief bloody nose, and the member we were with immediately whipped out a piece of some kind of root from her purse. She told me to shave off a little of the root and cram it up my nose, and it would never bleed again. My nose stopped bleeding before I even had to decide whether or not to try it, but she swore it works like magic. I wonder if our medicines are actually made of the same stuff they use, just in bottles...

Well, that's all I have to say about that. Love you all, and I'll talk to you later!

-Elder Moua Ying

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kent's Mission call......

.....has not yet arrived, but put in your guesses as to where he might go!

Post them in the comments!