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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Miracles (from 2/14/13)

Happy Chinese New Year and Valentines Day!
I totally forgot about not being able to email up until now. But here I am.
Last week was really awesome. We had Rency's baptism (which I believe you can see pictures of on my facebook as some of the members have informed me.)
I was really happy when after the baptism that night we got a text from her that said, "Oh elders I am so sorry! I forgot to pay my tithing today! Is it okay if I pay it next week?" I am very glad she is so committed to the gospel and also to keeping the commandments. She also apologized she didnt get Chinese New Year off so she couldnt help us go finding for new investigators. It is amazing how committed the Filipinas here are to the gospel.
This week, Marilyn will get baptized. A few days ago when we taught her, I realized we had never asked about her family to make sure her husband is okay with her baptism. When I asked her, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she has been talking to them the entire time she has been investigating and that they are meeting with missionaries and going to church now in the Philippines. Also, she was able to get a five day holiday next month so she is going to fly back to the Philippines to help the missionaries teach her family there.
There are so many great miracles this last week, but one that definitely stands out happened on Sunday. We got a new investigator and were preparing to teach her. Right when she saw the pamphlets, she started crying and told us that her son drowned a year ago at the age of 19. She said that after he died, they found all of our pamphlets along with the Book of Mormon in his school bag. She asked us who Jesus Christ is, and when we told her that he is the Son of God, she got very happy and told us the last time she had talked to her son on the phone, he had been trying to teach her about the church and that he told her Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but not our Heavenly Father. She was immediately super receptive, and our lesson quickly changed from the Restoration to the Plan of Salvation. We arent sure if he was baptized yet or if he was just a really good investigator, but his mother was SHOCKED when she saw the same things in our church that they found in her son's bag. She right away said she wants to be baptized, and we are very excited for her.
We have SO MANY baptisms coming up. I really hope I get to stay here for a while. We already have had a lot of success, but there is so much more still coming.
I dont remember if I told you or not but we have a really good Indonesian investigator who finally started reading the Book of Mormon, and ever since then, she has had a problem with lack of sleep because she cant stop reading it at night and wakes up in the morning to read it some more.
Oh! Something really cool happened. We pulled back a Muslim man who is from Northern India and speaks Urdu. He was telling us that he believes every religion has some truths but that they have been changed by men too much, even his own religion. As we shared the Restoration he really loved it. Then he told us something really cool. We talked about Jesus Christ visiting the Americas and he told us his problem with other Chrsitian churches is that they have all told him Jesus Christ didnt go anywhere after he was Resurrected, just back to heaven. But in a village near where this man lives, there are hieroglyphics and an ancient tradition that Jesus Christ went there and to other places after he was Resurrected so that he could establish his church there and visit the people.
So he was very happy about the Book of Mormon and about the idea of Jesus Christ visiting other places.
Holidays are always so crazy here in International. I understand what "religious excitement" Joseph Smith was talking about. As we went finding the other day, we got to worldwide and on one side there was a preacher over loudspeakers yelling out scriptures and things, then on the other a live band from some other church was playing. In the middle of it all there were JWs and other churches' missionaries everywhere. We decided to go to a park a little walk away and on the way the streets were all roped off and there were THOUSANDS of Filipinas in the streets all screaming and singing and dancing while El Shaddai (another church) was having some big huge street service or something. Along the edges were JIL (Jesus Is Christ) missionaries in green shirts trying to pull the Filipinas away from it and trying to give out "Vote for Brother Eddie" cards and flyers so that their church leader could be a senator in the Philippines. Then deeper in the park were tons of Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) members and missionaries trying to invite people to some big giant "anti-other churches" meeting. 

But in the middle of all of it, we were able to get a few pull-backs and when we taught them the restoration, it just clicked in their minds.
This is one of the most challenging and rewarding places and things to do in the world. I feel sometimes like we are placed right in the middle of the Palmyra it shows in the Restoration DVD and sent to bring everyone out of all the craziness and confusion.
Well I guess thats all the stories I have time for. But as you can see, I am very busy lately. But I am also so grateful for everything that is happening here as well as the great things I have heard about regarding my school stuff back home.
Love you all!
Love ,Jordan

Lots of Lessons (from 2/4/13)

Some weeks as a missionary, you feel like you are just planting lots of seeds in peoples' hearts. Other weeks (these weeks are better) you feel like you are harvesting the success. This last week was definitely a harvesting week. This last week we had almost 20 referrals, and had 15 investigators stay for all three hours of church. The investigators have all been very good, and I wouldnt be surprised if all of them get baptized some day. 
One of the comments I heard one night while walking past a group of them that was talking to the members was, "Wow! This is the best Holiday I have ever had!" 

Also, it has been amazing to see how the members have turned into really good missionaries and have really gone to town inviting everyone they can to come to church with them. 

Another great thing that happened this week is Rency passed her baptismal interview and wants me to baptize her this Saturday. She is the one who we found that said she had been praying to meet someone that would change her life, and when she saw our name tags she knew right away we were the answer to her prayers. 

International is pretty well known for having people trying to bible bash us a lot. Because we show up to places where there are usually hordes of other missionaries and preachers from other churches. Some of them are complete with live bands playing their hymns and preachers yelling on loudspeakers. 
For the most part they leave us alone, but sometimes when they try to anti our members who are helping us, we have a hard time just standing there letting it happen. And my companion happens to have the best scripture knoweledge in the mission. I am convinced he has the entire quad memorized. So I dont have to do any of the arguing most of the time, I just let him do it. 
But I have become quite familiar with the doctrine of the other big churches in the Phillipines, and it has been interesting to see them all fighting against each other. We have collected pamphlets and things attacking tons of churches, and while none of them are right themselves, it is sad to see them be so malicious to each other. However, it has really been a blessing to us. I have been so grateful for the restoration, because when we meet with our investigators, they understand Joseph Smith's situation perfectly and they all start crying when we share the first vision, because it is like they have been waiting to hear it their whole lives. 

One more cool story! Last night we were really far away in Discovery Bay at the Victoria 1 (white people) branch's branch president's house helping him give his daughters blessings. Well when we left we knew we were going to be late because we had to take a long ferry ride back, but I saw a Filipina lady walking on the sidewalk and crossed the street to talk to her anyways. She right away got excited and started saying, "Elder! Elder! I am so happy to see you!". She started crying before I even said anything. But I found out she is a member that my MTC teacher baptized while he was here, but she shortly after went less active. She told me about how her trials kept her from going to the church, and how when she moved she didnt know how to get back to the church. She also told me about her conversion story and about how amazing she felt when she went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. She even has continued to read the Book of Mormon! 
But she had started praying that she would be able to find a way to get back to church, and when I started talking to her, her prayer was answered and now she is excited to go back. 

It is crazy how often we are put in the right place at the right time. 

Well I gotta go, but thanks for everything!

Love you!

Love, Jordan

Still Here (from 1/27/13)

It has been another great week here in Hong Kong.
The most exciting news is that transfers came and went and I am still here in international. Also my companion goes home in about three weeks so something weird is going to happen because it is in the middle of a transfer. Most likely someone will just be surprised and told to move randomly. But hopefully this means that I will be able to stay for one more transfer after this one. the transfer schedule will be weird until I go home. This transfer is a normal 6 weeks, then the next one is 4 weeks and my last one is 9 weeks. The reason why is because they want to change the transfer lengths to 9 weeks permanently, but before they do that, theyhave to align it with the MTC so that is the reason for the 4 week transfer.
We had some really great miracles this week. 
Well, we had another cool Word of Wisdom lesson this week. One of our miracle investigators who was the one we found that had been praying for us asked us this week what she has to do to prepare for her baptism. We taught her all of the commandments and the only one she was worried about was the Word of Wisdom and drinking coffee. (so many Filipinas love their coffee). But she told us that the morning before we taught her, she had already made her coffee then thought about it and decided she didnt want to rely on it so much, so she dumped it down the sink and drank water instead. She saw that as a confirmation from the spirit that this commandment is true, even before she learned about it. To her, this was a miracle.
We have a lot of investigators that are doing so well. I am very excited for all of them. they are so accepting of everything.
We have an investigator who came this week and last, and both times the whole church meeting has been on temple endowments and things like that. She told us how she really doesnt understand any of it, but that she knows it is true because the Holy Ghost has confirmed it in her heart. She also helped us go finding yesterday and get a pull-back, even though she is not a member. Pretty cool.
Thanks for everything!!
I lvoe you all!
Love, Jordan

Miracles (from 1/20/13)

Hello again!
I think this week has been one of the best weeks of my entire mission. We had a great baptism on Saturday. I baptized the super golden investigator I had been telling you about. Her name is Remy and I am so excited for her and for her family as she has been trying to work with them so that they will meet missionaries in the Phillipines.
We had so many miracles this week, I dont even know where to begin. We had one of our investigators from before that had to go back to Phillipines come back and call us saying she wanted to go to church. After sacrament meeting the members came up and told us she had been asking them about how to get baptized because she has been prayinga bout it and feels like she needs to be baptized in this church. Then on Saturday we were worried because we have an investigator who is really good but two Saturdays ago when we challenged her to baptism, she said she wants to, except she isnt sure all the way if she should. We thought it was a miracle because this last Saturday we knew we were going to have a baptism, so we invited her to it and told her she would get her answer during the baptism.
She called us Friday night and told us she had something she needed to tell us, but then Saturday morning to our dismay, she didnt show up for the baptism. But before sacrament meeting started, she showed up with some of her friends. She told us that she was sorry but she really wanted to bring her friends to chruch and thats why she was late.
After we taught her friends (who were all very golden), she took us aside and told us she needed to tell us that she prayed about it and felt very strongly that God told her she is supposed to join the church and be baptized.
Yesterday, we went to go finding for a pull-back and the members with us had someone I didnt recognize. It turned out to be someone who had met one of the members in an elevator on Friday. Well this member is so good and always being a missionary everywhere she goes, and she asked this Filipina to come to church with her. Well then on Sunday morning the Filipina also wanted to go finding with us, and she did. It was so funny because I was really confused at who she was and I thought she was just a member who had been gone or something, then was back.
During sacrament meeting, the whole meeting was on things like temple ordinances and stuff, so we thought it would be way over her head. But when we looked back at the end of the meeting, she was the only person in the meeting who was crying. So we pulled her aside and she told us she has been looking for God's church her whole life and today during the sacrament meeting she felt a very strong impression that she had found it. Later on, we got a text from her telling us that Sister Mary Jane (the member who invited her) has been God's stepping stone to find a better life, the true church, an eternal family, and eventually into the holy temple someday. I was shocked, but elated that this person who had only met with us once already had a goal to go to the temple.
We also had someone who I pulled back that was really funny. She was a midwife in the Phillipines before she came here. I wasnt too excited about the fact that she kept telling stories about delivering babies while we were waiting for members to get to the church to help us teach. She told me, "Well you have to know these things because someday it is going to happen to your wife." yeah...
But anyways, the lesson was really powerful and afterwards, I felt that I needed to talk about temples even though this is the first time we have taught her. She started crying and told me that her dad died ten years ago and that last month she had a dream that she found out her dad was still around, and she needed to help him. Well when she eventually got to him, he looked very sad and told her that she couldnt help him where she was right now, but that she had to choose the right path so that someday in the future she could. Apparently this has been on her mind a lot lately and when I shared about the temple, it answered all of her questions.
Being a missionary is great. But sometimes the things we experience and see and hear about are just so incredible. It has been such a blessing for me to be working here with these people who are so open to the spirit and have so much faith.
Well thank you all for everything!!
Love you!
Love, Jordan

Too Much (from 1/13/13)

Well as the title suggests, I have just too much to write about and I think I will tell most of the things when I get home because some of the stories will be better that way anyways.
But one short thing that I will mention is about the investigator I told you about who is super golden and was really prepared. She is the one who was already living the word of wisdom before we taught it to her, because she had overheard some members talking about it. She also is the one who the first time we brought her to the church, on the way we passed by some Jehovahs witnesses and she told us that that is where she had been going to church and was going to get baptized. Well anyways, she had her baptismal interview and unsurprisingly passed. She is so excited to get baptized next week.
Also, there are so many miracles that we keep seeing. The investigator that I told you about who was praying that someone would change her life, then we met her - she has a baptismal date and has been so excited for it. She even has asked to sit in with the Filipina sister missionaries and helped them teach the first lesson, and bore her testimony to the investigator. It has been incredible to see how the gospel changes the lives of these people here.
One thing that has been difficult has been working with the Indonesians. Before it was ignored, but now we have been reminded that when teaching Muslims, the church has very strict guidelines. This was brought to light because of some recent converts who either have been killed by their family, or disowned and threatened because of their conversion. Indonesia is a mostly Muslim country and the sisters from there are pretty interesting. But a lot of them are really good. Luckily this week we have been blessed and have been able to find some already-christian Indonesians.
When I get back home remind me to tell you of the story of us rescuing Jinky and of how the part of my blessing that talks about my chinese aiding the work has happened in a way I never would have imagined. It is a long story and probably a better one for me to tell back home.
There is a recent convert who has the coolest conversion story.
A year ago she was in a coma in the Phillipines and when she woke up, her husband told her about how a white man in a white robe with a beard had walked into the room and told her that his name was Alpha and Omega and that she would have another chance at life, but that in one year from now, she would be given a blue book. She was to accept the book and use it to know what to do with her life and to help those around her. Well then she came to Hong Kong to work and when missionaries met her and gave her the blue book, she right away knew what it was for and was baptized along with her relatives back home.
Most of the stories that come from working with these people sound absurd, but another missionary who served here a long time ago put it well. He said, "Filipinas are blessed with a lot of faith as well as sometimes crazy-sounding visions or dreams. Indonesians are blessed with the gift of tongues. Because usually they cant speak English or Chinese but the moment they are baptized they somehow have almost perfect English." Crazy, but true.
Well thank you all for everythign. I love you so mcuh!
Love, jordan

Time Flies By (from 1/7/13)

I always have heard from other missionaries and RMs who say that their missions progressively get faster and faster. And it is definitely true. I remember going through the MTC and it felt like years before we left for Hong Kong. Then my first couple of transfers also went by really slowly. But wow time is moving so fast. 
This week was cold but really good. We were able to get 13 pull-backs. A pull-back is someone who we meet in Central and are able to take them back on the train with us to Wan Chai and have them go to church.
On Saturday we had some really cool miracles. While trying to convince one Filipina to come back to church with us, another one approached us and asked if we were missionaries and if we could take her to our church. We were able to get both, and when we took them down the escalator to buy tickets, another one came up and told us her niece was a mormon and that she used to drive past the temple in Manila everyday. We were able to pull back all three of them, and right when we got in the church, all three of them started crying and two of them ran into the bathroom because they were embarrassed.  Then after we dropped them off at the church with some members, we went back and started talking to another Filipina. She right away agreed to go to church with us.
After testimony meeting, we had to teach a few lessons, but when we came out, the last Filipina ran up and was thanking us for helping her come. We sat down to teach her a lesson, and she told us that it was a miracle because she has been really sad in Hong Kong and she hasnt known what to do because she has no friends and her employer is really bad to her. She told us that the nigth before, she was planning on staying in her room all day during her holiday, but then she had a feeling she had to go out. She knelt down and prayed to God asking him specifically to allow her to meet someone the next day who would be able to help her. She said that when she saw "Jesus Christ" on my nametag, she right away knew she was supposed to go with us.
The other three pullbacks were also really good. They all are actually really golden even though one of them's parents are preachers in some "born-again" church, and another one's dad is a Catholic priest or something. But they are very accepting of the Gospel and loved church.
I just have been thinking about how grateful I am for serving a mission. It  has helped me to learn and grow so much, as well as to witness so many miracles.
Well I love you all! Have a great week!
Love, Jordan

Too Many Stories, But Not Enough Time (from 12/30/12)

I have so many storied to tell, but not enough time to tell them (and I dont know if I can even remember them all). I am sure though that when I get home I will want to tell stories and talk all the time and everyone will get sick of it. Haha. Last week was super fun with all of the Christmas parties and everything. We ate wayyy too much and I thought I would explode.
Well anyways, I have just continued to see miracles everyday. We have an investigator who wants to be baptized, but she wants her parents consent (even though it is of course not required because she is thirty, but she is not married yet so in tradition, she is still kind of under her parents care). Well I guess that for a long time she has been not sure what to do. She comes to church every week and is really awesome. So we sat down with her and talked to her about this. We had some really awesome fellowshippers there that shared their stories. One of them met the missionaries in the Phillipines when she was 13. Her family did not like the church at all and so they told her that if she wanted to join, she had to pass a test. Her father was retired military and owned a very large plantation. He fired all but a couple of his workers and told this sister that if she wanted to be baptized she had to be able to take care of the plantation for a year and get more crop even though there were almost no workers to help her. She was really worried and when she first showed up to the plantation, she was surprised to see the entire ward and missionaries already there working away, because they had found out about her situation. they continued to come all year around and then in the end her family's hearts were softened and they let her be baptized and also some of them joined the church. It is so crazy how so many people would sacrifice so much time and effort for an entire year just so that a 13 year old girl could have her parent's permission to be baptized.
It reminds me of a talk during General Conference that talks about how we dont use the cross as a symbol for our church. The symbol of our church is the lives of our members. We should always strive to be like Jesus Christ because we ARE members of his church, and us males hold the SAME priesthood that millions of miracles have been performed by, including parting the red sea, raising the dead, healing the sick, etc...
So anyways, this investigator said she will be baptized in three weeks. Next week she will fast, then after her fast she will call her father and tell him she is getting baptized.
We have another investigator who is super cool. She is from Indonesia and her parents disappeared when she was young so her grandpa raised her. He was converted to Christianity, but wound up dying shortly after. So she literally has no family on the Earth.
Well a recent convert brought her to church my first week here and we taught her. She was so great. She loved the message we shared, and said she right away wanted to be baptized and believes everything we taught. Well the day after, her employer fired her and she didnt know why. She was heartbroken over it, and didnt know what to do. She went to a boarding house and started trying to find another job. But every single day she went to church with us, and everyday she brought a referral who was usually someone she had met at the boarding house, and every day without fail during the sacrament, you could see her closing her eyes praying, and crying. We finally asked her if she is okay and why she cries, and she said it is because of how grateful she is that she found the church,  and because she feels so much love and appreciation for the Savior and what he did for her.
Well anyways, she found an employer and had to exit to Macau for a month to wait for a visa. But when she got there the first thing she did was buy a SIM card to call us and let us know she was safe and is excited to be baptized when she gets back, and that she had already called the missionaries in Macau to let them know that she is there.
I am just so blessed to serve here. I love it.
Well I have to go, but thanks for everything!! Have a great week!!
Love, Jordan