Mosiah 4:9-10

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things, see that you de them. Mosiah 4:9-10

Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 3 in the MTC

Elders Stratford and Woolley at the Map Wall
Elder Woolley meets Sister Woolley
Elder Olsen arrived - Jacksonville FL bound!
Ryan's district "working" hard 

Elder Hammond, taking a little break

Sister Odem and her companion still goofing around with these Elders

The boys are back together - Elders Holmes, Woolley, Olsen, & Curtis

Caroline and Ryan - still goofy and still awesome 

This week was the best week so far! I learned so much and I have a lot to cover so I hope this all makes sense and that I have time to say everything I want to say!

I'll start with a little bit more about my companion Elder Stratford, he is from Bountiful, Utah, and is an absolute historian. We compliment each other very well as companions, I've been blessed to be able to pick up the language faster than him, and he struggle with it so I help him out there, and he knows tons of great scriptures and quotes that help back up all of our lesson points. It's been good to get comfortable enough with one another that we are able to positively accept criticism from one another. The rest of my district and I continue to get closer and have lots of fun in class, though some of the more serious members sometimes take everything too seriously all the time. I think it's important to be able to relax and laugh and take the time to enjoy ourselves! The mission is serious and important, but so is making it a positive and good experience! Our zone got a bunch of new elders this last week and I look forward to getting to know them all, despite some of them being painfully immature high schoolers. But its not like I'm super mature anyways haha. A few more of my really good friends got into the MTC this week, specifically Sister Bennion and my good friend Elder Olsen! It's great to see them and catch up when we can, and I love seeing all my friends out here dedicating themselves and working hard it's very inspiring!

Some of my friends in the other zone got picked to be interviewed by the Huffington Post which as kinda random seeing as it's not the most credible new source, but Im interested to see what they were asked. I kinda wish I got to be picked haha but everyone look out for that article! Apparently the prep for it was pretty intense, they had to be able to answer some super negative and slanted church questions, so I hope the interview goes well!

I had the opportunity to teach my Elders quorum class lesson this last week about baptism which was an awesome lesson. I really had to think about it, I think as missionaries we often lose sight of the sacred nature and need for baptism because we focus so much on obtaining it for our investigators, and I really got to challenge the Elder's with questions about baptism. I also think that in order to learn about it we have to study our Savior and the parts of his life (his death and resurrection) that our baptism represents. My whole shtick for the lesson was that the Savior (as we read in scripture) willingly gave up his life and was baptized not just to be an example for us, but also to show his willingness align with that of his Father. The best thing we as God's children can do is align our agency with his will etc etc I wish I could talk more about it haha

I also had some fantastic teaching experiences this week! I'll start with our 2 new 'investigators' Mu Zhi Hao and Deng Zhi Xian. Mu Zhi Hao is super curious and asks tons of questions in kind of mumbley Chinese, so it's been really good practice trying to figure out what he is saying and how best to answer him. He's been very open and accepted many of the principles,  he just likes to learn. Deng Zhi Xian is the exact opposite. Funny story, when we showed up to teach he asked how we found him - the word for to find is zhao dao and to teach is jiao dao so they sound really similar when spoken fast- so I thought he asked how we would teach him, so I pulled out my books and said with these books! and he just stared at me. It took us a couple uncomfortable moments to even get in because we kept asking if we could come in and he was just weirded out haha but we finally figured it out and taught a quick lesson. After our closing prayer he just left his head down and had totally passed out which was funny and uncomfortable, so we woke him up, set another appointment and left. On Saturday we got to teach in the TRC which is where they have real members and nonmembers and we got to go in and teach them which was such a confidence booster to see that I really could communicate in Chinese with real people and have normal conversation! I was happy to see that my companion's Chinese is also beginning to progress well. We continue to work on having the Spirit when we teach, not getting frustrated with language, and supporting one another as we teach. It's been great!

One particular day we were both pretty frustrated about the language and my teacher (who is a total stud) reminded us that Chinese is nor our purpose as missionaries. The Chinese will come, but we can't let it get in the way of our true purpose which is to invite and help people to come unto Christ. Our purpose is people. I love that! 

I got to meet a missionary who had just returned from Hong Kong Mandarin speaking which was awesome! I am so lucky to be one of the 16 people called out of the thousands to serve such amazing people, and work with people from mainland China who have never heard anything about Christ before, it can give such hope to a religiously oppressed society! He also said that I will be learning Cantonese in the field too which is pretty hype!

This week I also got to meet my new mission presidents which was AWESOME! Hands down the best hour of the mtc so far they were so inspiring! They told about their conversions and bore testimony that they know this is where were supposed to be, and I felt such a strong confirmation that this is where I am meant to serve, speaking with this language, and serving the people of Hong Kong. The mission president's conversion was also so interesting, he said he was intellectually converted before he was spiritually which I thought was so interesting because most people think that intellectually religion doesn't make sense. He talked about the facts of Joseph Smith, how he, as a young man with the education of a 3rd grader, was able to translate the 530 pages of scripture in the Book of Mormon in 65 working days, and that the accounts from witnesses say that everyday he would orally dictate to the writers picking up right where he left off from the day before without anyone saying anything about the previous days work, and the Bible, as authorized by King James to be translated, took 5 years with 20 scholars working every day to translate.  It's pretty incredible, especially when it is the most powerful scriptural witness of Christ alongside the Bible that we have. He also talked about Christ, and the fact that he is one a few people in history who's teachings have lasted for thousands of years, His life has been analyzed, alluded to, and talked about in endless amounts of literature, and is the only one who continues to touch lives and change lives, that continues to grown and connect with cultures globally, and was the only being who affected humanity so universally and culturally, that time itself is counted from his life. He then talked about how he was spiritually converted later.

I also hit a rather rough spot at one point this week, opposition really takes the smallest doubts or worries and makes them seem huge. I was feeling pretty down and afraid I wasn't ready, or wasn't gonna be a good missionary one night when I read 2nd Nephi 4, and was immediatley comforted. 

I feel that I should bear my testimony in this letter and talk about a few more of my insights from this week, so I will. I know that this church is true. I truly truly do. I wish I could convey to you all the truth of the Book of Mormon, it really was translated by Joseph Smith, a modern day prophet of the Lord. Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer and we have a Father in Heaven who knows us and loves us I promise you that he is real and that he is there. He hears our prayers, and we are all able to find it out for ourselves. We talked about enduring to the end this week and I didn't like how so many people took it to seem so negative, like the world is some terrible harsh place that we must endure through til salvation. We are taught that Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy. Our Father wants us to have joy, think of the Savior that he gave us, and the sacrifice and torment he endured to allow us to become better through him! When we are buffeted by the winds and storms of life we shouldn't just lower our heads and bear down into the wind while we stare at the dirt and the ground, we should look up at the sky, up to our Savior, in 3rd Nephi 15:9 Christ tells us to look unto him as we endure, that he is the light! It's an inspiring scripture, and again reminds me that I shouldn't focus on my self and pity myself whenever I have a struggle, this mission isn't about me, and life shouldn't always be about me. I'll leave you all with this scripture that I love it's 2 Nephi 9:51 " Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness." We are all working our hardest to do things that give us real fulfillment and happiness in life, the things that are uncorruptible and perish not, the things that are really worthwhile. I think we all know what those things are.

Sorry for the length of the email and disjointed-ness, I just had a lot on my mind this week and little time to get it out! As always I love hearing from everyone, love and miss you all!!
Wu Zhang Lao.

Monday, June 22, 2015

MTC Pics from week 2

MTC District - Fun bunch of missionaries!
Elders Woolley & Stratford with Sister Odom and her companion

MTC District at the Provo Temple
Elders Hammond, Curtis and Woolley
Elder Woolley and Elder Holmes!

MTC Zone

MTC Companions - Elders Woolley and Stratford

Elders Woolley, Hammond and Crowder

Elder Woolley and Sister Haws - she's going to Ft. Lauderdale Portuguese Speaking!

Week 2 in the MTC


Week two was such a great week! The week definitely has its ups and downs but I always end every week feeling even more excited to get out to Hong Kong and start teaching my people and meeting my future investigators!

This week was a good week of bonding between myself, my companion, my district, and all the zones here learning Mandarin. We all spend like 9 hours a day together struggling to learn this amazing and difficult language, and I've gotten so close to everyone. My district is just full of the most interesting people! For example this one girl in my district won a car and an elliptical on The Price is Right. Super random, but so cool haha. It's great as the week goes on to be seeing all of my friends from BYU slowly arrive in the MTC, this week Elder Curtis, Elder Smith Driggs, and so many others came! The Mando crew is just the best too, it's fun to have such good friends from before like Elder Hammond and Sister Pugsly here with me learning, feels like old times every once in awhile. I hope I can get the pictures to work this time, the computers have been a HUGE pain, Pday is the most stressful day of the week because time is so limited and there's so much to do and say, thank you to all the personal emails they make my day!! And sorry ahead of time if I don't get to answer them I get to what I can!

My companion and I have been working hard to be the best teachers we can be with what little language we have! I have noticed huge jumps in my language and understanding since the first lesson, its SO incredible to see how much the Lord blesses us here, my companion and I have noticed huge differences in our lessons when we have the Spirit, and when we don't. We are trying to listen to one another and the investigator while they are speaking instead of focusing on what we could possibly say next, and that's helped us to improve! We got our first 'investigator' Zhang Yu Fan to commit to baptism which was awesome! I felt the Spirit strongly in the room as we testified what we know to be true, and I felt the language come to me more easily as I kept the investigator and his needs in mind. It was great! I've gotten all the tones and tone combos down as well as all the weird pronunciations down which is great (like shi which is pronounced sure) and I am continuing to work on the weird grammar. Like some words are only verbs like to prepare, so to say you are prepared you have to say you very prepare well completed (Ni han zhunbei le). Kinda. It's confusing to explain, but I'm working at it haha

Funny story, one of my roommate elders, Elder Jackson, snores excessively in his sleep, and his companion, Elder Kirschner always hits his bunk when he starts snoring to shake him out of it. So the other night Elder Jackson started snoring and he hit his bunk, which made Elder Jackson spasm and yell in his sleep, which freaked out the half-asleep Elder Kirschner who also yelled, which woke me up, and for some reason I thought they were both in my bed so I yelled, it was so funny how freaked out everyone was I laughed the whole night and got no sleep. Also some kid spilled milk on Elder Hammond's one suit at dinner and he got so mad I was just dying the whole rest of the night. You really gotta find the humor around you here because everything else can be so serious. Having a best friend from BYU in my class makes it good though, we often laugh uncontrollably randomly throughout the class, which I think is healthy and lets everyone calm down and relax a little, but we occasionally get lectured about it. Oh well. Also I rolled my ankle a little playing basketball this week but it was worth it because I got the and 1. I'm definitely the king of injuries here. It's healed up pretty well though which is great.

This week I've been continuing to work on my charity towards others, as well as trying to get to know more about our Savior Jesus Christ, and the type of man that he was while he was on Earth. (my favorite mandarin phrase right now is Dang Jidu zai shishen de shihou it flows so nicely and means when Jesus was on the Earth...) I started to read Jesus the Christ and it is an absolutely amazing book. So well written and addresses every possibel facet of Christ, his character, personality, sacrifice, and perfection. Everyone should read it. The type of man that He was is incredible. In his hardest, final hours of complete betrayal and loneliness, he thought of others, never Himself. Wow. I just think of how much I think why me all the time, and that's where unhappiness comes from. The constant focus on oneself and what we think we should have or what we think we deserve. I'm trying to turn myself outwards, and give all of myself to this work.
Love all of you and it is sooo great to hear from you!! Only 102 Pdays left! lol
Wo ai nimen!
Wu Zhang Lao (Elder Woolley)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

First MTC Photo
Elder Woolley with his companion Elder Stratford
Sister Stone and her companion

Monday, June 15, 2015

Week 1 in the MTC

Helloooooo everybody!!
This week has been crazy I don't even know where to begin! The mtc is an amazing place, everywhere I go I hear all sorts of different languages being spoken and practiced which is awesome, everyone here is so focused on learning and trying to be better there is a special spirit here. The layout of the mtc also reminds of a prison in some ways haha it's always a nice surprise to see the mountains and be reminded that I'm in Provo, I've only been here for 5 day but it feels like I've been here for a month, but not in a bad way. The amount of information that I'm learning is crazy, I go to bed every night exhausted but with my head full of new things, and wake up every morning tired but excited! Sometimes it feels like one big BYU reunion! It's so fun to walk around and see all my friends from freshman year with their name tags and see how hard they're working, its truly inspirational.

My companion Shi Zhang Lao (Elder Stratford) is a great guy and we get along very well. We have similar ideas about teaching and he getsbuckets in basketball during gym time. He is also randomly the second cousin of one of my good friends from BYU, and she is in our neighboring Mandarin zone so we all get to spend lots of time together. He and I are the only kids in our district of 10 kids that have never had any Mandarin experience so we have decided to be the hardest working companion pair to make up for that, and it's really paid off. We pray before every study session and I've never felt my mind so open to learning something in my life, the amount of mandarin that we are taught and absorb in the day is pretty ridiculous. I can tell that companion relationships, if they are done right, can be really strong and uplifting relationships so long as we are both striving to do our best and have the Spirit with us.

When I walked in to class the first person I saw was Elder Hammond one of my really good friends from BYU! It's exciting to be together and learn together, I've learned to appreciate and love everyone in my district. 

Learning Mandarin has been crazy, the rate at which we learn is faster than that of any class I've ever taken in my life, and I have never worked harder at or been more humbled by something before in my life. The first day of class our teacher spoke only Mandarin and only has ever since, I have never heard him speak English, and after two days, my companion and I had to prepare and teach a Mandarin speaking investigator. It was definitely the hardest day here so far. We walked up to the and said Hi were missionaries and he just spoke all Mandarin and we were pretty mindblown. I was able to pick out some things here and there and tried to answer some questions, and my poor companion was struggling even more than I was. We left bearing what little testimony we could and I felt very humbled and a little embarrassed. I think I apologized to him like a thousand times because I couldn't say anything I wanted to. It helped me to realize how little I can rely on myself at this point, and that I need to rely with faith in God that I will be helpedthrough the work. Elder Stratford and I have spent more time on our knees in prayer than I probably did the whole summer while I was home and I can really feel it pay off! We are more calm and prepared, our second lesson went miraculously well, we prayed to be calm and have the spirit with us (all in Chinese), and I found that, even though I still struggled, I was able to understand more and more of what he was saying and was able to speak more and more. It's so exciting to see these little miracles, 5 days ago I couldn't speak any Chinese, and now I speak it 6 hours a day in class, and am teaching our 3rd lesson all in Mandarin about the Book of Mormon next week.

This week I have been trying to change some parts of my nature, I found that I have been so judgemental, prideful, and selfish. We learned a lot about the character of Christ, how he was the perfect example of selflessness, in every moment of his life, including his greatest struggles, he thought of others. I have been trying to turn my thoughts and my prayers more outwards, and out of a more genuine love for others and not out of any selfish desires like recognition etc. These past few days I have been slowly de-worlding myself and trying to become the best missionary I can be. At a devotional we were told basically to get over ourselves, stop worrying about why me, or I want, or I expect, and realize that it's not always going to be what we want or think we deserve. We have to lose ourselves in others in order to find ourselves.

I apologize for the length and jumblyness of this letter, there's just so much to talk about and so much I've learned and experienced already!! I love you all and I know this work truly is the work of the Lord! Sorry if I don't get to respond to all of your emails, my time is fairly limited here in the MTC!
Elder Woolley (dunks) :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Last good-byes before entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT

At the Provo Temple grounds before Elder Woolley enters the MTC

Elder Woolley will be in the MTC until August 11, 2015.  He will then leave for China Hong Kong to begin his work for the Lord among the chinese people.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Set apart and ready to serve the people of Hong Kong

Elder Woolley with soon to be Elder Curtis

Elder Woolley and his little sisses

Very happy and proud PoPo (Grandma)

Elder Woolley with Auntie and Uncle 

Elder Woolley with Mom and Dad

President Krumholtz, Denver Stake President 

Elder Woolley and the family - miss you Kat (big sis)

Such a happy day with Elder Woolley