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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Planting Seeds - week 23

Another amazing week has already flown by in Kowloon and I can hardly believe it! Time here just seems to go by so fast! We had a good, hard week full of lessons, successes, and failures.

The saddest event of the week was that this week we had our hardest lesson with the Liu family. I love this family so much! Since the time I have been meeting with them, I have just seen their desire grow, and really gotten to seen the light of the gospel enter their family and home. It was such an amazing feeling, I love being a missionary and teaching families, I could just feel the love and warmth that a gospel brings into the household! We shared our final message all about Christ, His sacrifice for us, and eternal families. It was very powerful, they had their newborn daughter in their arms and we all just felt the love and power of families as we looked at her, and thought about all of our potential, both in this life, and after death. It was really quite a powerful moment. I saw their love for her, their hopes, expectations, and desires, and thought of how much our Heavanly Father must watch over us, and desire for us the best, and His eternal hopes, expectations, and love. I know that we have a Father in Heaven, a very real Father, who knows and loves each of us. We eached then shared our favorite scriptures, and Liu Zhen even shared his! His favorite was the verse in Alma about faith being compared to a seed, he said he has really felt that feeling in him, as a growing seed that is being nourished, and talked about how he wants to just keep reading the Book of Mormon to continue finding the answers to his questions. It was an extremely powerful lesson, and I just want the best for them as they move to mainland! I know Heavanly Father has given us this time to truly help them plant and nourish their seed, I have faith that it will turn out the best for them, blessing thier children as they grown and continue to search for truth.

I was really sad about that family leaving, but I was reminded of something that was said to me by an old senior couples missionary here. His name is Elder James, he is a really amazing man, and he actually served in my grandparents branch, which was the first branch here in Hong Kong back in the 60's. He always tells me about my grandparents which is really cool, and I remember one time he talked of how during the red gaurd riots, a lot of member and potential member families all moved away, including my granpdarents, who had been a huge part of the founding of the branch, and he said, we had to start all over. At that time we fealt hopeless at how many families had left. And then turning to me he said, at that time we didn't have a full perspective, all we knew was that seeds were planted and nourished, and now, two generations later, their grandchildren are returning to serve, and spreading the same gospel that had converted and blessed so many lives back then. It was a really powerful moment for me, again I just feel so blessed to be here! So I feel satisfied with our work with that family, and we never know what will happen in the future!

It has been hard working with a lot of these students from mainland. Recently a few of them have basically told us they are trying to learn and have faith, but they are having trouble believing any of it. They all told us of the schooling process in China, and how they are all really raised to be the exact same mentally, like no creative or extra thought, and they are taught that religious thought or belief is bad etc. So a lot of them are having trouble overcoming that mental state. It has been really tough trying to help them, they have desire, but they are just still unable to believe. We continue to work hard and pray for them, I know the blessings of the gospel are real, the power of prayer is also very real, and I have seen the gospel change people. It will be a slow process but in the end I know all things with these people are possible if they are willing. But it is also hard to know what to do for them.

Something I really love about the gospel is the peace and balance that it brings to people's lives. In 3 Nephi and in Matthew it talks about how if we seek first the kingdom then everything else will be taken care of, of course as long as we are doing our part. I was reading in the scriptures about how the people were so wicked that their belongings were cursed, becoming hard to hold on to, they would be put away, or hidden, only to be lost. The scritpures uses teh term 'slippery'. I really like that story because it really is true, in our investigators and less active members lives, when they stop doing what they know is right, a lot of their lives have really started to fall apart, and they can't regain the balance they used to have, things in thier life just seem to slowly slip out of their grasp, until they find themselves juggling everything wilst trying to grab hold it all and balance it out. A lot of our students and adult investigators have really hard and stressful lives, and they just talk about trying to balance it all, and how they have no time for thinking about these religious things because of it. But one of the amazing and realy true principles of the gospel is that as we learn and strive to make is a priority in our lives, balance in all other areas naturally comes, as we work hard, things don't seem to be as 'slippery' and everything comes under control. It really is a true principle that I have noticed in my own life, and especially the lives of the people out here. Hopefully that all made sense. I am grateful for a gospel that blesses all aspect of life. The Gospel of Christ is not a part of our lives, but rather, our lives are a part of the Gospel. The sooner we all realize that as I have begun realizing that on my mission, the sooner we truly achieve the balance and peace that the eternal perspective of the gospel can give us. I'm grateful for the path in life, and I'm grateful to help people really come to feel that tomorrow really can be better than today.

I love my mission so much! I am super excited for our area over these next few weeks! We should be getting our buddy Yang Kai baptized in two weeks as long as these next two weeks go as well as the past few have been! He is so amazing and willing and prepared, I am really excited for him!

Thank you for the support and love!

Elder Woolley

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rats!! - Week 22

I hope everyone had a great week this last week! We had a good week here in Kowloon, with only a few hard moments. One of the best things is that our rat problem seems to have dissappeared! I forget if I had mentioned this, but ever since I have gotten here to Mong Kok we have had a rat problem, like finding chewed up bones and other various carcasses hidden under our beds or behind the fridge.
Rat problems!  I hesitated to add this photo :(
Then on Christmas morning we awoke to find the rats who had stuck to our trap had also soiled themselves, it was pretty vile, and I was shocked to find three. We had hoped it would be all, but later that night we awoke to find holes chewed through a pipe that leads to outside, and feared there were more back. It was like an unending nightmare, and finding rat poop on dishes is pretty repulsive, I'm a little surprised we have yet to contract the bubonic plague haha BUT it seems as though the rat problem is finally over! We fixed up the holes and set more traps, but since then we have had no problems for a week! Hopefully that marks the end of the infestation.
We also made friends with Mr. Wong, he is this crazy guy who always wears a Santa hat and somehow he got into our church meeting, I thought he was just a harmless weird old guy, but then he was trying to give me this random iphone he pulled out of his shaggy jacket, and brought duffle bags of 'art' that he makes and tries to sell to us haha, he kept kinda yelling in church, then wandered around to the main floor of the Wanchai building where he had previously scattered Buddha pictures everywhere, and unfortunately the cops had to come and take care of him, it was rather humorous, but I pitied the guy. Unfortunately he somehow got our number so I have had unending calls and voicemails from him too. Crazy people love missionaries! He has been saerching for one specific elder for like a year haha.

Anyways, outside of the rats we also had a pretty good week of teaching and contacting. One night after a long day of planning we had only 30 minutes of free time, and we decided to quickly go outside and talk to people in Mong Kok (which is typically really bad for talking because it is super crowded and everyone is shopping and doesn't want to talk), and we found a place that was a little quieter and less busy.
Ladies Street Bazaar in Mong Kok
There was a guy chillin on a bench smoking a cigarette, and we just walked by and said hey friend how's it going. I had kinda assumed he would just blow smoke at us and wave us off, but instead he was like, I'm really lonely, come sit and talk to me. We talked to him for a little and he started off saying the classic stuff like Oh I really respect you guys and all religions, but I don't believe in any of it really. We talked about life and found that he was at a really tough crossroad of decisions and didn't know what to do. He got pretty emotional and expressed that if God did exist why would he allow him to have such a hard life. We bore testimony and taught him basic and simple principles of the gospel, that God is his loving Father in Heaven, and that Christ is his Savior, and really does understand how he feels. It was amazing to me to see the change in his eyes and demeanor throughout our quick chat with him, and at the end he wanted to pray with us. We prayed sincerely and in the end he said, "maybe this is just a test to see if I will get to know God better."  And then he also suddenly remembered some advice from his deceased grandfather that answered his dilemma.  So cool we got to see our prayer together answered right after. He was very greatful, so amazing to see what happened from our small decision to spend just 20-30 minutes outside talking to people, and to see him go from athiest, to believing and hoping in God. We gave his number to the Cantonese Elders because, unfortunately, he speaks Cantonese.
We had a wonderful lesson with the Liu family, and got the heartbreaking news that they will be moving back to mainland in two weeks. It was so sad, I've only gotten to meet with this family a few times, but we have really seen their knowledge and desire to know grow so much, and I just really desire for their wonderful family to have what my family has! In our prayer with him, he was about to pray, but then quickly decided to put on a jacket over his tanktop to show more respect to God. It was so simple, but touched me so much to see that act of respect from his limited understanding and I got pretty teary seeing the humble reverance he and his family have. I am so sad that we will not have the opportunity to teach them in the future after next week, but I know we have done our best to nurture their seed of faith! They also had to give us back all their religious books except for the one Book of Mormon they are allowed to take to the mainland. I pray they will continue to seek truth while they are home.
We had another day of pushing Chen Hong Tu around, he is a really interesting guy, he's the political representative for a big political faction from Taiwan, and loves to talk to us about his influence. It was crazy though we were pushing him through lady street and all the bazaar shop owners knew him and were like hooking him up with bags of stuff from mainland from behind the tents and he was just like, if you ever need anything I'll get it for you haha so funny and also pretty boss. I was frustrated with him though becasue he didn't come to church on Sunday after we had a bit of a crazy morning ordeal with pushing him then waiting for a gongren to help him, it was confusing. So we will have to push his date back a week.
We were able to successfully give another baptismal invite to one of our investigators who just came back from China this last week, if all things go well we will be helping a lot of people start their lives new path in the next month or so, it's really exciting. but also quite stressful making sure everything is going well with all of them! But I love it and it's so amazing to see people come closer to Christ.
The work is true!  I have been thinking a lot about the talk what lack I yet by Larry R Lawrence, as recommended by my Dad, and also by my Zone Leaders to prep for zone training. It is always a humbling view to look at everything in, to always be asking and looking for what we lack, and how we can get better according to the Father's will. Jesus was the perfect example in this, doing everything according to what the Father willed him to do. It is so amazing to have this one full year of 2016 be entirely dedicated and lived in the mission field. A whole year that I can consecrate my service for the Lord. I am really going to try to be as fully consecrated and committed as I can be, because the people here deserve my every effort. My all is really so little compared to the Lord's all, which is what he gave us. And, as President Lam says, "though He doesn't expect immidiate perfection, He does expect immidiate progression."  I am beyond grateful to serve here, and to be able to serve the Lord and everyday have my weaknesses made known to me, and everyday realize all the things I still lack, the mission is all about progression, whether my own, or the people's whom I serve. I hope we all can progress together to continue to get to know the Lord!

Thanks again to everyone who sent me packages or letters this holiday season, it was really fun to see all those cards and pictures!


Elder Woolley

Monday, January 4, 2016

Rice Cheeks - Week 21

Da Jia! Xin Nian Kuia Le!

So weird that it is 2016! Time is just flying by so quickly! I had another great week here in Kowloon, the work here is just so busy, the time is really flying! These next few weeks may be a little slower, lots and lots of people are all going back to mainland to their lao jia (hometown) for the new year, so Mandarin work is going to trickle starting soon til like mid February which will be rough, but there is lots of promise still here!

I really like the feeling of a new year! It's a good excuse to invite people to start with renewed vigor on old commitments, or new commitments, and really seems to give people a little bit of hope. There is always so much hope in the idea of a new start, and people really seem to latch onto it for the new year. The great thing about the gospel and that the atonement is that everyday, every hour, even every minute we can have a fresh, new start!
Street food = rice cheeks

Anways my companion and I are doing great! We're both working hard, but we get along really well, he has been getting super distracted by the Star Wars trailers that play in the trains haha. We are trying to run 3 times a week to fight the rice cheeks. It's such a battle. I think I have gained about 4-5 lbs so far, and its all in the cheeks haha. We are teaching really well together, and his chinese is coming along, only a few instances, like one lesson he accidently kept saying normal or average instead of peaceful, so he was sincerely bearing testimony of/explaining the spirit but kept telling our buddy that it was just some average normal feeling haha. He works really hard though! I feel so blessed to have had no real big problems with the language, I really don't know how or why, all I know that I am blessed.
At the Hospital getting Chen Hong Tu
Yesterday we wheeled our investigator Chen Hong Tu from the hospital in Mong Kok through the trains to the Wan Chai chapel! It was his first time ever being allowed to leave the hospital in months, it was cool to see how much he appreciated church and everything, even though the whole process was around 5 hours and seemed to be pretty uncomfortable for him! Im not sure exactly what his surgery was, something in his neck that caused numbness and pain, so I assume it was some nerve and vertebrae problem. He is super great though and should be getting baptized in a few weeks if all goes well! 
Wheeling Chen Hong Tu to the MTR to get to church
Our other investigators are all doing well, we're trying to help them recognize the Spirit, and also feel the love! We taught an awesome family the other day, and I was devastated to learn that they are moving back to mainland in a month! Hopefully we can help them be baptized before they leave, I just want there family to have what my family does! We have a lot of great prepared people that are all just loving the gospel and really willingly keeping commitments which is miraculous!
We have been working with a less active named Sun Dx, and I have really been struggling with knowing how to help him. We have tried everything we can, and he is just to afraid to try, to commit himself, and to work for happiness. It is really heartbreaking. I feel such a deep sadness from this guy, and he talks about his dissatisfaction with everything all the time. And he always leaves the lessons so inspired by the Spirit, yet somehow we cannot help him help himself, he is just not proactive enough to try. It is hard. I chastised him kinda hard this last week, we gave him the invitation to read one verse and say one prayer everyday, and he was really wanting to do it because he is so sad and wants guidance, yet he just never does it no matter our reminders. So I kinda chastised him pretty hard for like 7 mins, then, in the midst of it I suddenly had a change of perspective. I suddenly realized that this is a struggling Son of God who needs our help, not my chastisement because I am annoyed, but a child of God with the same potential as every one of us, who need the hand of the Savior to be extended to him to help pull him out of the pit. And suddenly my chastisement turned into testimony, then almost into pleading for him. My heart felt so muhc more open as I fully felt what he is truly missing, and for that moment I think I almost felt what the Savior must feel for all of us. He is pleading for us to let him carry us, he begs us to let him bear, if we are but willing. I really hope that he felt the love of the Savior, and the strength that he can give him. It is really the only strength that will help him continue and progress in this life. 
It reminded me a lot of Helaman 5:12 and of the song Precious Savior, Hymn 103. When we build our testimonies, our families, our actions, our lives on the rock of the savior, all those winds and storms of life that beat upon us will have no power over us, will not move us or knock us into the stormy waters. Seeing people's lives out here has really let me see the true meaning of those storms and winds of life, I can almost feel them surging around in people's countenances, in their lives, as we share this message. And I have been privileged to see the Gospel, the hand of the Savior, reach out, and pull people to safety. It realy puts things into perspective, really makes me realize how insignificant and petty any 'problems' were from my life before the mission. The Savior can "curb the winds and calm the billows" of any storm in life, that while we may pass through the storm still upon the rock of the Savior. We may be wet or shaken up, but we will never be swept up or overwhelmed. This new year is a good excuse for a new start, as I said earlier. Hopefully we can all think of something to really make it a new start. To be better. Through the Atonement we truly can be a little better today than we were yesterday, and tomorrow, more than we were today. I love the gospel, and I know that the Savior truly does save us from life's storms.
Thank you all for the packages and letters from Christmas!! And I hope everyone had a Happy new Year!
Merry Christmas - Loving mom's Chocolates


Elder Woolley