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, May 31, 2016

3 Moments - week 42

I don't have much time this week so I will be brief and share a few highlights. 

We had a week packed with great meetings, we had Zone Conference with the Hong Kong Island Zone and recieved great trainings from our mission leadership, I had the privilege in assisting a bunch of people visiting from mainland which is the biggest blessing, and one of the most life changing things I get to be a part of, and we had our first branch acitivty! We all went to Sai Kung (Xi Gong) together! It was really fun, helped us strengthen our relationships with the branch, and helped me really feel charity for them all. I know our district has prayed and worked and put our whole souls into helping this little branch grow, and it made my heart so happy to see them all enjoying themselves together, like a family.

I'll share three quick powerful moments from the week. we were visiting our investigator Chen Dx, I sent pics last week, and have been focusing on helping have a clear understanding of his relationship with God. Somehow the topic of forgiveness came up, and soon we were able to fully hear the depths of this mans tragic life, I was shocked at the horrible wrongs he has had in his life, including his children being killed and other family leaving him. He was completely alone. For a moment I thought, how can I talk to this man about forgiving others, I can't even begin to comprehend how hard it would be to forgive those who had done so much wrong. And then we felt moved upon by the Spirit, it is not me asking for him to forgive, but He who's name I wear everday, our Savior Jesus Christ, who on the cross said, forgive them Father, for they know not what they do. The selflessness of Jesus Christ is unimaginable, but I knew as we bore testimony that if Chen would just let it go, give it to Christ, that Christ would truly heal his Soul, which has been scarred and rent for decades. The Spirit was powerful, we were all moved, and I pray that he can have power to overcome and allow himself to be healed. I know that forgiving others heals us.

Another moment was from a women from mainland, I didn't get to interview her, but listened to her testimony after she was baptized. She had a very hard life, not very much money, lots of sadness in her family, and a feeling of emptiness and confusion for a long time. When she heard the gospel she accepted it immediately, and prepared for baptism. She described how clean she felt, as she talked again the Spirit bore witness to me that that is why I am here. To forget all myself, the heat, the rejection, tiredness, everything, becuase helping people like her, that it was it's all about. My testimony of the real power of baptismal covenants grew from her.

Lastly, my companion and I got to teach young mens young womens combined on Sunday, and at the end we all went around and shared how th gospel has blessed our families. As they went around I was amazed when I realized that every single one of them are the only ones who come to church from their families, who are all either none members, or less active. I was amazed at the faith, courage, and desire in all of them. They all said such simple things, like it makes us happy, makes me want to share it, gives me purpose, helps me when I'm lonely etc, but the Spirit magnified their words to me, and I was again reminded of how precious the Gift of the Holy Ghost is, that it has touched and continues to guide, aid, and comfort those amazing young men and young women every day, giving the strength to come every week regardless of everything else in life. 

I love our little branch, it's amazing to be in a branch that is 90% converts, they are all so powerful, every week I am so impressed by their testimony, spirit, and fortitude. Each one of them has an amazing story. The work is moving forward, it is not slow no matter how it may seem at the moment. When my Grandparents were first joining the church here, there were only a hundred or so members in Hong Kong at the most. Now Hong Kong will be having a stake spilt, from 4 stakes to 6 stakes with thousands of amazing members! It is an amazing and historic time to be here. The work is moving along!

Love you all!

Elder Woolley

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Building the community - week 41

Hello everybody!

Another week already gone by, the Kowloon Area is doing great, Elder Shukis and I are working hard to get it going again! I'm glad that our area had this dip, it's helped me step back, evaluate, and start to make some changes to help us get the momentum back. We've been working on some big projects as well in our area, we cover 13 cantonese wards in our area, and lately we've been coordinating with them to help us find some of the lost sheep from our mandarin branch who moved their records there and just disappeared. It's not been the easiest working with all of them, but it's a good way to help us get better at coordinating with other people and just being on top of it all. We're helping to build a sense of community in our area for the mainland community and members, it is hard for a lot of them to assimilate! I'm excited for the potential once we have all the info gathered! Love these people!
Dinner at Sister Dong's

We got a great new potential, named Wang Di Xiong. He is great! He is from northern China, I love his accent, and he literally has no religious background at all. He is a former member of the communist party, and is quite lonely in Hong Kong. He doesn't really have friends and his family is all back in mainland. I haven't taught too many people like him who have no concept of any religious belief, it was pretty amazing. We shared a simple lesson about Heavenly Father, about prayer, and some other basics. It was amazing how he just listened and wanted more. At the end, he expressed his desire to know God, it's amazing how people treasure this knowledge that they have never heard or even thought of before. Definitely another reminder to me of how blessed we are to have the gospel, and how truly precious that it is, how blessed we are to even have free religious thought. He has great potential, I am excited to see where his desire takes him!

Yang Kai also graduated college the other day, we attended his pictures, and it was probably the best finding activity of my life. Everyone wanted to talk to us and come to our activities and take pictures with us it was great! Haha so many pictures with random China moms they were loving us. They couldn't believe an American and Mexican looking guy could speak chinese with them. Got lots of great potentials from it! Way better than off the street.
Yang Kai's college graduation

Our other investigators continue to slowly progress towards their baptism, which is heart warming. Lately I have really felt that I just have to trust the promise of the Book of Mormon, that anyone, if they really read, ponder, and pray about it's contents will get an answer of it's truthfulness. We have 2 investigators right now and that is really their only problem, and the only thing we can really do with them is encourage them to read, and trust the promise. And I really do trust that promise. I have complete faith that because they are in a seeking mindset, really looking for truth, they will be blessed with the answer they are looking for. It is a promise from God, and one that I have experienced myself.

This week I have been pondering a lot about desires as a missionary. What are my greatest desires here, and what success is here. I was reminded of Alma, who's desire is to be an instrument of God to bring some soul to repentance. The word instrument really struck me, as I think back to the greatest moments of my mission so far, the days or moments that have been the most meaningful have been the times when I know I was truly just being an instrument in His hands to accomplish his purposes. We spend our time refining ourselves, teaching, studying, praying, and working so that we can be better instruments in his hands, so that we can allow ourselves to be used by him, to the best of our abilities. So success to me is really connected to that idea, if I am committed to being an instrument for two years, put away my 'weapons of rebellion' and do His will. It's not that easy of course. 

I really like something President Lam said in our District Conference the other day, about hard things. He talked about how he was in an interfaith council one time, and the people there couldn't understand the binding of Isaac, couldn't understand why a loving God would test Abraham so, asking him to sacrifice his son as a test, and then stopping him at the last second. To them it was so hard to understand. God knew how Abraham would respond to that command. God knew Abraham would obey, because He perfectly knows Abraham. But God wanted Abraham to know Abraham. He wanted Abraham to see his faith, his obedience, to see what he's made of. It reminds me of a quote by Brigham Young, I've used it before but I'll use it again, he said something like- "a man can't come to know God without knowing himself, and a man can't know himself without coming to know God." Abraham had come to know God, and God wanted him to come to know himself. 

So as time here goes on and the work moves forward, it never really gets easier, because the more I come to know myself and God, I discover more things that I am capable of improving upon, and the more I have to allow God to help me and change me. It's an amazing process, and I am blessed to be on it's path. I feel like all of our lives are like the binding of Isaac but stretched over all the years, a slow process of easy and hard and ups and downs, strong and weak testimony in which we come to know God, and come to know ourselves. God doesn't only want us to know Him and His Son, but He wants us to know ourselves, and see ourselves and others as He sees us, His children. 

I love the work, I am so grateful for every eye opening day. It's a blessing to be able to go out and apply everything as I try to be a more refined instrument that the Spirit can testify through. I'm excited for the work of this summer, we have a lot of great things coming up in our area and in the lives of our investigators, big progression is just around the corner!


Elder Woolley
One more pic from last week's P-day hike - windy and foggy!
Meeting a kung fu "uncle" in the park

Monday, May 16, 2016

Faith in the Restoration - week 40

What an amazing week! Every week is just full of so many great experiences and miracles!

We have a new investigator who is a restaurant owner in Yau Ma Di, he said he was going to teach us how to cook some dishes. We taught him a great lesson, he is really searching for God in his life, and just soaks truth in without any real questions. Just random silly ones haha. After our lesson we ate dinner with him and all his staff as they prepped the restaurant for opening hours, it was really fun! We were trying to joke around with them and be part of their crew haha they were all really nice, hopefully we will have some more opportunities with the staff as well, a lot of them are from mainland too!

Elder Shukis and I had a great experience this week on Sunday. Sunday was a special broadcast between Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan which was really cool, but we were a little frustrated because a lot of people who we had confirmed for church and lessons fell through, which is just missionary life of course. But then a member came up to us requesting our help to give a friend a blessing. One of the speakers talked about rescuing and helping others, and this member had a prompting to text a non member friend, who then accepted the offer of a blessing, she is very sick. So because all of our things were cancelled we had the great opportunity to serve this member and bless her friend, and they both had so much faith! It was so funny listening to them two talk to one another after the blessing, her friend grew in faith from it, and will be coming with her to church and start being taught! The Spirit truly prompts us and guides us, if we are prepared to listen to the guidance.

Our other investigator Chen Guo Wu is coming along strong, he has cut his smoking and drinking in half this last week, and we are working with him to drop all of it. It's great! He has great will power and desire, and we're trying to help him rely on Christ for the last step. 

I have been thinking a lot this week about the Restoration, and all the doubts that people have surrounding it. It is what sets our message apart, and it is what makes our message true, and it is what is attacked the most. Of course no one will attack the plan of salvation, or the gospel of Christ, repentance, or the resurrection. But people, including members will always doubt and misjudge the restoration. Satan works so hard to make us doubt it because he knows what it means, if it is true, which I know it is, then saving ordinances are on the earth in this church, and satan doesn't want people to know that. We had a really powerful lesson about the restoration the other day, and I sat and really thought about the prophet Joseph Smith, and pondered and prayed about it harder and deeper than I have in a little while. I thought about the unbelievable persecution of the early saints, as they were driven from place to place, having their homes, hopes, and dreams shattered over and over again. I thought about Joseph in Liberty Jail, confined to those terrible conditions, while knowing all the suffering of the saints, and finally of his martyrdom, which he went to knowing fully that he would be killed. Those early saints, let by a true prophet of God, had an ability to endure that I can hardly fathom. They experienced things that none of us can imagine, and faced very real and physical opposition. But today we all face different opposition. It's all about faith. Real faith. We can't see the plates. We can't talk to Joseph, and hear from him first hand. We hear rumors, confusing details of the restoration, and we hear doubts and mockery. Recently our convert Jason had a friend who tried to anti him about the church, and the Gospel, and he stayed true to it. I thought why he stayed strong, and why so many who would seem stronger fall at the smallest doubt in the Restoration, and it's because we need to have a faith grounded in that foundation. Jason has never had doubts, he has always prayed, and felt the truth of it. He has not forgotten how he felt, so the opposition just rolled off him. In our lesson I had a reconfirmation of the restoration, something that we all need. I know it's all true, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon is true. It has a changing power that can only come of God, I've seen it and experienced it for myself. How lucky I am to share it with everyone!

Thank you everyone for the support, sorry for the rambling of this letter haha I wasn't really sure what to write this week, but it's what has been on my mind. Love you all!

Elder Woolley

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy Mother's Day! - week 39

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!!

I had a great call with my family this morning, the time just flies by and I feel like nothing really that important gets said haha but I love my family and it was so great to hear your voices! 

I am so grateful for my Mother! There are few people in my life who are even near approaching my Mom for how much they have influenced and changed me. I can't even begin to express how I am grateful  for her love and example. She is such a proactively loving person, it's something I really admire about her. Always going out of her way to do things for friends and family. So selfless. The more I serve the more I really really appreciate my parents, and the more I see how they were right and I was wrong(unfortunately) haha and the more I see how they really rubbed off on me. I can remember many times on family trips when my Mom would just sit and ask me about how life was going and suddenly we would be talking about everything and all my stress would be gone! What Elder Holland says about mothers is so true, that "no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Christ that the selfless love a mother has for her child." 

My new companion and I had a bit of a hard week, we're still getting used to one another, and working together to get the work done. A lot of our investigators are taking finals right now so we didn't meet with too many of them, but we had some amazing experiences with members and being out on the street! We met a group of like 6 moms from Guang Dong and all their children, and they all have interest! We said a prayer with all of them and it was so cute! All the little kids folded their arms and bowed their head, and at the end said Amen. They don't realize the Spirit that that brought to that little park. It was amazing. We also taught this homeless man who obviously had some drug issues, and ended up on the topic of that Atonement. As we taught it tears filled his eyes, and he looked at us asking, imploring, really? Is it true? Is it possible? I felt so blessed to be able to look at him in the eyes, and say yes. The hope that I saw in his eyes in that moment was indescribable. I hope we can continue to help him to know that he has a Savior, and he can be made whole again. 

This last week I had the greatest privilege to speak to a youth conference of members from all over mainland China, and wow I just loved looking at all their wonderful faces! We got to share all about our experiences and answer questions, and the instructor shared a message I will never forget. He talked of angels, in chinese it's tianshi, tian means heaven, and shi means messenger. He talked about how we don't realize the Spirit that we have as missionaries, and it's something that a lot of people take for granted. But in mainland, they don't have missionaries, they can't preach the gospel, they can't even talk about it with others. He said when we walked in to share our message, we were like angels to him, who hadn't seen missionaries in so long. And that is just another privilege of being a part of the amazing work of God, that we, like any member, can be the angels sent by God, right when His children need us. I have thought of so many times in my mission when I know I was guided by the hand of God to talk to people who needed comfort, I have never thought what it must have been like from their perspective, to be approached by complete strangers, and to feel of God's love from them, when they needed it most. The work is just one big miracle, and we as missionaries, and as members have the privilege to be the angles that hoist up and help bear up the fallen and trudging and tired around us. We may not realize it but it is what we do every day! I know my Mother is a great example of this, I know she has been an angel for me, and for many many others. 

As I approach my year mark in the field I have been pondering a lot about how I can keep progressing, keep being a better missionary disciple of Christ, and how I can keep a bright burning fire of faith and desire to share, because it is not always easy! Keeping such a state of faith is not easy, it's probably why so many just choose not to believe, because it requires no effort to not believe. As I was pondering this I had a few thoughts come to mind. One of them was "don't wait on the road to Damascus" waiting for some big experience to cap off my first year and push me off in to my next, instead, continue focusing on the miracle of the day, remember what I have learned, seen, felt, experienced, and loved. And to remember that this is about the Lord, His work, and Heavenly Father's children, not me. These two messages came to me very quickly as I studied after my prayer, it was almost in chastisement, but it was what I was looking for! We don't need to be told exactly what to do to keep having great spiritual moments are huge testimony building experiences, instead we endure to the end, constantly repenting, and remembering what it is all about, the Lord, HIs work, and Heavenly Father's children. Everything else will follow. It's another part of the continual shift of perspective that I have needed here in the mission from before looking at me me me how I can be better, I need this that, how I can find people, etc, to the Lord, what Heavenly Father's children need of me, and trusting myself into the Master's hands. These are His investigators, His members, His church, and His two years.

Again so happy to talk to my family today I love you all so much!! Thanks for being the best!

Pics will have to wait another week sorry!


Elder Woolley

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Transfers - week 38

Hello everyone!

I had a good last few days with Elder Graham and with Elder Shukis! I learned a lot from Elder Graham and his inquisitive nature. He is a great missionary and will do great things in the New Territories! I can already tell Elder Shukis and I are going to do great things together here in Kowloon! I am excited to work with him, it's odd being the Senior companion over someone who has much more experience then me, and is really humbling. I respect him a lot and look up to his enthusiasm, and he brought some great ideas with him from the New Territories that I am excited to put into action here. We are trying to get a comprehensive list of all the mainland members here in our area, and set up an outside activity to help them all get to know one another. We are hoping this will help with the smoothness of the branch split that is coming in the future. I have learned a lot from him already, I can only hope he is also learning from me. I'm really happy I have the opportunity to continue serving as District Leader, our district and branch have lots of potential and lots of work ahead, I'm happy to keep serving with all the missionaries. I know that we are going to have an amazing transfer.

Our investigators are starting to move along again, two of our baptismal dates got a lot more solid this week! We had an investigator who was about to drop us for his friends church (guo dx), but we had a powerful lesson with a strong member, and recommitted him to find an answer from the Book of Mormon first before he decides. He has a searching mindset so I know he will be able to get an answer from the Spirit. Our other baptismal date Chen Guo Wu was a bit of a miracle. We haven't been able to schedule him outside of just having him come to church, then he just called us up on Saturday and asked to meet that night! We had a great discussion that led to the Word of Wisdom. He originally believed its ok to do a little here and there, but after we taught the commandment, he instantly changed his mind. He said, if it's God's commandment, then it's right. I'll just quit it all. I was stunned by his faith! His faith is amazing, as is his willingness to change his lifestyle so quickly. I know he can be ready for his date in June.

I was reading about the barges of the Jaredites, and it reminded me of our testimonies. If they are tight like a dish, then we won't sink when the waves that are sent are way crash over us. But if we let doubts or worries start to make wholes in that barge, then we start to fill with the waters of doubt, and sink. But if we have faith, then we can have light continuously within us, just as the Jaredites. I learned a great lesson of faith from these things this week.

I'm excited for our areas potential!
I don't have much time this week, but I'll have more for next time!

Love you all!
Elder Woolley :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"I will go before thee..." - Week 37

District temple day - with Elders Grayam and Sy
It's only been a few days since my last email, but it has been really eventful!

Yang Kai got sustained as a branch missionary in church on Sunday! I'm excited for him, I think this calling will really help strengthen his testimony and faith as he helps us out in the work here. Jason also got confirmed on Sunday! It was a great blessing to be a part of. I felt the Spirit so strongly. I'm so proud of these two guys they are such studs! It has been an enormous blessing to my testimony to have been with them and even found Jason, and stay with them throughout this portion of their journey. The changes in them are so clear to me. Jason has become a much more out going and happy person, as well as very affectionate. He will be a valuable addition to the branch. I was asked to speak this Sunday for 15 mins or so, and it was a great opportunity! I was looking out on our little branch, and just felt so much love for them. Of course the branch is not perfect, it has many problems, but I love the members so much, and Elder Grayam and I have put our heart into working to make it a better place. I also saw Yang Kai and Jason sitting in their suits (Yang Kai wearing the same one as me still haha :-)) and I just felt the joys of being a missionary swell in my heart. Sometimes I think I don't deserve to be this happy! Heavenly Father certainly rewards us for our work and faith. That small moment where I could feel a little bit of His love for His children in the Victoria 3rd branch was certainly a reward for me. 

As I was saying last week, a lot of our other investigators have dropped us, or been antied by friends or family. It always saddens me when someone we are working with gets antied. I can't imagine why people try so hard sometimes to say terrible things about us to others. But of course, it happens. So we hit the streets, and one day we had a solid block of about 4 hours of street finding, we walked from Tsim Sha Tsui to Heng Hom along the pier back and forth haha. I had mentally and spiritually decided that I would try my very hardest the whole time, and to not get discouraged. We believed and expected that we would find people. I'm so glad we had that mindset because I had a great time! My shoes are getting destroyed by days like that, but they can be huge faith building days if we so choose to let them be. We met lots of people from around the world, all the while with a beautiful view of Hong Kong island behind us. It was really a great day, and we planted lots of seeds, and met some good potentials! Heavenly Father is always bolstering my faith. We have more finding this week, but I am looking forward to getting out there and talking to people!

I was studying the story of the Brother of Jared, about the boat, the window, and the rocks for light. We have all heard this story many times, and about how sometimes we receive answers right away with clear instruction, and how other times, we must have a plan first, do our part of the work, then review it with the Lord and have Him help us carry out our plan. I was pondering those verses when I was struck with a thought from Ether 2:25 "And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?" The Lord can prepare us to cross the great deep  of this life, and we really need him to prepare us for the winds and swells which inevitably come, there is no other way. He wants to prepare us because he knows exactly what is coming, but he leaves our amount preparation up to us. He won't force any of us to allow him to prepare us, but we have to choose. He says what will ye that I should prepare you to have light? I asked myself what am I willing to do, show, sacrifice, so that I can be fully prepared of the Lord to face the upcoming challenges. The Lord promises "I will go before thee" (Ether 1:42) in all that we do, and he has already gone before us in this Earthly life setting us a perfect example, and he has gone before us all in the Atonement in which he bore all of our pains, weaknesses, sorrows, and sins. But we choose if we follow him who has gone before us in every way. We have to choose how much we accept and allow him,through the body and blood that he sacrificed for us, to prepare us. The brother of Jared offered him faith, and a plan that the Savior accepted and then he prepared Jared for his journey, both physically with light for the boats, and spiritually, with Jared's magnificent vision of Christ. I've thought a lot about what I must do to be prepared by Him. The things I have to give up, the parts of my testimony that I must strengthen, and the faith I must show. I know that through Christ's example and his perfect Atonement, we can be prepared for every trial, I have seen so many great examples of that in my life. I know he wants to help us, and that he asks all of us everyday, what will we do to be prepared of him "that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?"

Hopefully that all made sense and wasn't to rambly. I know this is God's work, I really love Kowloon! Moves calls are next week, so we'll see what happens!

Elder Woolley

Mainland members supporting baptism!

District lunch with Zhang Popo