DA JIA DA JIAHellooo everybody!
My new companion is named Elder Ma! He's a really cool guy and actually trained my MTC companion Elder Stratford which is really fun! He's also a Hong Kong bundeih so he speaks everything. We're getting along great and have already had some good times, and good lessons. And now to my new area! I am now serving in Macau!! Macau is another country that is about an hour long jet boat ride away from Hong Kong, and I am living on an island called Tai Pa off of Macau. Macau is such an interesting place, it used to be owned by Portugal (shout out to Elder Holmes) much like Hong Kong was owned by Britain so there is lots of Portuguese writing on all the signs as well as Chinese, and downtown Macau is basically Las Vegas, so it's like a crazy blend of China, Vegas, and Portugal.
It's a super diverse place too, there's tons of people from all over the world here! It has a very different feel from Hong Kong as well and I'm excited to keep doing the work here! My companion Elder Ma is also the Zone Leader out here so we have lots of responsibilities. We serve in a Cantonese branch, and also an international branch! I end up going to church 3 times a week, the international branch meets twice to accomodate all the Filipinas schedules, so it's lots of church which is great, we also work with lots of less actives from that ward, right now we are focusing on the men to try and help them build stable families in the gospel. The importance of working with members is key in those lessons because I don't speak any Tagolog and a decent amount of the la's don't speak english. So I'm learning a little Tagolog to be friends with these people! Serving in the Cantonese branch is also hard because of course I don't speak Cantonese so well, I'm starting to really be able to hear and understand Cantonese much better, so the ward is really good practice for me to work on that language too and speak it better to contact everyone I can! And finally we have our investigators from mainland here that we work with. Because Elder Ma is the ZL we go on splits a lot, and I have taught a few lessons where just the investigator and I can speak Mandarin, but fortunately the Lord has really been blessing me with the Mandarin so the lessons have been going great! My language capabilities are all being stretched here in the different wards and I am definitely relying on the Lord to keep blessing me to learn everything I can to help all of God's children that I can! We have lots of great responsibilities here as well, we teach an english class, cantonese class for the international people, and we just got trained this last week in a self reliance class.
|Macau - with Chinese and Portuguese signage|
I am super excited to help facilitate these self reliance groups here in Macau. There are just so many people struggling here in all sorts of ways, and the first thing we get to teach is budgeting! (my passion) haha but we also get to help them manage money, start small businesses (Macau is full of tiny little shops and businesses) learn new skills, find jobs here etc, and the best part is we also teach them the Gospel every day at the beginning of the class. I'm excited to help these people regain hope. The program has proved to be pretty efffective especially in just helping people have hope, hope that they are not spiritually or temporally stuck where they are, and gives them the faith to take their lives into their own hands, and move forward. Those groups will be starting as soon as we publicize them here and start to sort out groups and continue to train on how to help out the members and community! It's a great way to serve. I also have a lot of opportunity to play the piano at these wards because hardly anyone plays, which has been a great feeling of getting to use my God given talents to bless where I serve. I am trying to get a music class set up here as well to help teach the people how to play so that when I leave they can always have someone to play the hymns and provide the congregation with that beautiful music!
Funny stories for the week - We were visiting a less active guy in his apartment and one of the members was bearing a strong testimony in Tagalog when all of a sudden his dog breaks out and is all over Elder Ma just lovin him haha after a while Elder Ma turns to me and whispers dude I think the dog peed on me haha I just about lost it I could harrdly keep it together which was so bad because it was a very powerful moment for the man we were teaching (despite the fact that I couldn't understand any of it) haha and I looked down and saw this huge wet spot on my companion's suit pants haha so funny.
We went to a big birthday party for all the members of the international ward who had birthdays in October and the Filipina relief society sisters just loved me!
Haha they are the friendliest people, so humble and willing to sacrifice, and they were just loving me, it was like my Popo's dreams had become reality, they were all swarming me and all lined up to take pictures with me and saying I am a movie star haha it was the funniest thing, I guess Filipinas just love me! I really love these two new wards and serving both of them, the members are all so humble and willing, and I want to do my best to serve them and hopefully leave this area even better than when I got here! Also a good amount of the Filipinas in the ward also new my grandparents who served in Wan Chai which was fun to talk to them about, they all loved you two!
|Filipina sisters in the international ward|
This week I learned a lot about hope. In visiting the less actives and just getting to this new area and seeing what the gospel has given some of the poorer members has just inspired me so much. The people might not have much, but they sacrifice what they do have, and they recieve hope from the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gives us the faith to carry on, to know that we can be better, to allow us to always be able to be better than our current situations. He helps these people know that they have a Savior. They know they have a Savior, and though they have nothing, they have everything. The Savior takes empty people, and fills them. We visited a sad looking less active man on Saturday, and felt him be filled with the Spirit. He came to church and looked like a different man, suddenly given new hope, a hope that his mistakes, though they be grave, can be forgiven, he can be clean, and he can start all over. Sometimes we all need to start over, there's so much hope in the idea of a fresh start. I know that because we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, we can all have a new start, every day, even every hour, as we strive to be like him, follow him, and use his infitine Atonement. I am so glad to know that Christ really is my Savior, I know he is everyones Savior and I have seen him fill people with hope! I love this gospel so much! I am so excited to keep serving this new area and learn and do what the Lord sent me here to do!
Thank you all for the continuing love and support! I am so grateful for you all in my life!