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, February 27, 2017

I Love the Island! - week 81

Hello all!
What a great week, this week went by so fast I hardly even know what to write! First off, I love the Island - it is a great area! We are really being blessed by Heavenly Father, and are working with some really great and amazing people. Elder Garcia is a great companion, we are having tons of fun and getting lots of work done! We have met with one Mexican guy together but I am of no help on the Spanish end haha we keep trying to find Spanish speakers for fun, but they are eluding us.

I had a great opportunity to help out with a training for the branch Presidents and leadership for the International District, it was really nice to see the hard work and Spirit that goes into their end, because I know how hard the missionaries are working and praying for them and for the work on our side of things. We did a brief training on effective and meaningful planning etc, but I really liked listening to the District President train them and inspire the leaders. He talked about the cliche definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is cliche, but cliche for a reason, because we really are people of habit, repetition, and get set in our ways. That's why we so often need to be reminded of things, humbled, etc. And that's why in the mission we are always changing areas, companions, assignments etc because we always have to be stretched, and try different things to get the results that we are capable of. He also focused on the idea of a personal ministry, we aways have to be living the principles that we are to be teaching. If we want to teach something, then we have to have a recent personal experience in whatever we want to teach or emphasis. Great principle of leading by example, as the Savior always did. I am grateful for all the experience I have had here and helping out President Lam, it has really helped me gain a lot of perspective on serving and helping build up the church, and being a more effective tool. It is the most satisfying and worthwhile work to be a part of!

We are teaching some really wonderful people currently, we are working a lot on building up everyone's foundation. We are teaching for the most part save on person people with no Christian background, and a lot of them are newer investigators that we have gone through as we get this area going. I love meeting so many new people and starting a new relationship with them and just trying to make them happier and learn about who they are. It has been really fun, the past two weeks I have taught tons and tons of very simple basic lessons on some of my favorite principles, God is our loving Heavenly Father. He loves us. We can communicate with Him through prayer! What a great principle. It has been wonderful to be part of many people's first prayers, and I have enjoyed hearing my companions experience with prayer, as well as sharing my own experiences. It is the first step to developing a relationship with Heavenly Father, feeling his reality, and finding one's true and divine identity as a child of Heavenly Father. I am excited for the path of learning and growing that is set before many of these great people! We have invited many people to ask Heavenly Father if he knows and loves them. It is a simple question, but for some reason most people don't think to ask it, but if anyone asks a perfect, all knowing Eternal Father if He loves them, of course He will tell them! It has been a great strength to my personal testimony this week as we have shared and promised and testified that there is a God in Heaven, He is our Father, He is involved in and aware of our lives, He wants us to have joy, and He loves us all.

We also had a great lesson of the Plan of Salvation with our investigator May who does have a Christian background, and it was one of the best Plan of Salvation lessons we have ever taught. We taught fairly simply, and it was amazing to see her questions and confusion all clear up, and see the light of understanding grow in her eyes and mind as she came to feel the truth of the plan. She clearly understand that we lived with God before, understood the purpose of the fall and our choices, felt the direction and blessings of this wonderful life we have here, and felt hope in the Resurrection and end goal for us all. But most importantly is the Atonement of the Savior, I am so grateful for Him and the Atonement! He did it because he loves us, and because of the joy he feels in helping each and every one of us. There is no better role model than the Savior, and no gift more precious than the Atonement. I am touched every week as I partake the sacrament, not just eat it, read the words of the sacrament hymns, and really remember Him, and ponder upon the great and incomprehensible suffering of the Garden of Gethsemane, and upon the cross where he was left completely alone, so that he could finally understand what all of us feel, have ever felt, and will ever feel throughout the trials and mistakes of our life here. I am grateful that he has become more and more real to me here on the mission, he is real, and can become real for anyone that will reach out to him, and follow him!

Love you all, have a great week!

P-day bike day!

Bolo bao pbj - genius :)

First Week on the Island - week 80

Hey fam! How was everyone's week?

It was my first full week on the island, and it was super fun! The work here has just picked up miraculously fast, lots of members and potentials to work with, and Elder Garcia and I had a really great first week. Elder Garcia is awesome, he has a great desire to be a good missionary and is a really fun guy to be around, we are having a great time together and working hard! I feel like I have so much more time to focus on the work than I did before in the office, and I just get to apply everything I have learned about the work so far into this great area, we are expecting great things!

We are working with a lot of potentials and members, I am so glad I got to stay in Vic 3 branch despite the move of area, I love vVic 3! I love seeing all those great members every Sunday, they are so wonderful. I just want to help them so bad, help them and grow Vic 3 into a more powerful and fully functional unit. We are working well with the members, we are great friends with everyone, I am so proud when they go to talk to our investigators, or when they bring friends! These are big steps. It is amazing to see how far it has come, and to see all the great additions to the branch throughout all the time I have been there. The work is not slow! It is not easy, but it is definitely not slow! Even in just one years time there have been lots of baptisms and reactivations, it is great to be part of the process and work of the Lord.

Our friend May, Scott's referral is doing well, she was previously baptized into a different Christian church, but kind of lost her religious habits after that time. It has been great helping her get on the right path. She has great potential! We were talking to her on the phone the other day and she was telling us how happy she is when she prays, and that she feels really peaceful afterword. I don't know why but I was just so happy when she said that. It is a simple thing, but it is truly a big step in her progression, and I love to see it. There is something very special about people's first prayers. She is our greatest potential right now, though there are many more on their way! It is fun rebuilding an area, one, it is humbling, and helps us start from the basics and really work our way up, and it is so rewarding, we celebrate and cheer on our investigators for every little step, and for every scheduled person. I can't remember being so happy and grateful for someone telling me that they were enjoying prayers. Change is always a good thing, I'm glad that I could be out on the island, and be stretched by the change. I do love it here, it is so fun building it up, Elder Garcia has a great attitude too and we are doing some great work! I can't wait to see where it goes!

We got to baptize a Philippina sister into one of the everyday branches because they have no men in the branch, and her testimony was so wonderful. She was very humble, and kept expressing how she wants to learn more! It was a great reminder to me to continue to value learning in the gospel, take studies seriously and make them a habit of life, to always treasure up the words of Christ. We have had so many experiences this week when scriptures would just be coming to my mind every time anyone said anything, it is amazing to see the Spirit just bringing up scriptures and conference quotes to my mind all the time, I love the words of Christ! "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." 2Nephi 32:3- I have found this principle to be so very true on my mission, so many times the scriptures have directed me in a course of action or given me very clear council on what to do or say in order to bless myself and those around me. I am so grateful for scriptures!

We had an opportunity to teach a lesson this week in English which was fun and kinda hard at first haha we're not so used to it, but we taught the restoration to this Chinese woman who grew up in the states. It was really enjoyable to teach it in my mother tongue and the Spirit was very strong. I love hearing my companion's testimony. He is a newer convert, his testimony is always so simple and sincere. I love how the gospel is the same. It is complicated, but really at it's core it is so simple. As we taught the restoration it just felt so clear and simple to me, again the Spirit, as it has many times in the past, confirmed my testimony to me, and to our investigator. We really saw it click in her mind, and the desire to learn grew. What a great thing it is to see the light in someone grow and grow as they attain more knowledge, Spirit, and understanding, as it says in D&C 50:24 -" That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."It is really cool to feel it form others, and see it in myself, as their light and happiness really grow from the Gospel. I love sharing light with others, and know that we as church members really can be a light. People feel it! I have heard so many stories from mainland China, where they are not allowed to proselyte, where members are approached because the people can see and feel a difference, and want it too. I love the gospel, and feeling light all the time. I love seeing it spread through everyones lives. Hope everyone has a great week!


ps. I forgot my camera, so I only have this one pic courtesy of Elder Stratford , so more to come next week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Island - week 79

Hello everyone!!

What a great week!  This week was transfers week, and I moved out of the Kowloon area to go the Island!
I am truly grateful for all my time in Kowloon, I have learned so much from the wonderful people here. I will miss not being in the mission home and seeing all the temple patrons from mainland and other countries come through. They are always amazing and faith filled saints. I am so grateful for the time I had to work closely with President Lam, I learned so much from his example and teachings. I am grateful for the awesome companions I had too!
Mainland members
It is fun being in a new area! I am happy that this area still attends the same mandarin branch as I did before, which is a huge blessing because of the great relationships I have built with these members! Hong Kong Island is a much different place, much more big city, and people from all over the world, lots of white people, I'm scared to talk to them haha. The area has been a little bit slower for awhile, so I'm excited to get the work going! My new companion is Elder Garcia, he is a new missionary of 5 months or so, I picked him up from the airport. He is also a convert of a year and a half or so, has a great testimony, and is really fun to work with! Very humble, and excited to work! We get along great. He also speaks Spanish which is pretty fun, because I totally can't speak it at all anymore.  
Elder Garcia
The last few days in the office were, teaching some of our awesome investigators (I'll still see them at church) and picking up new missionaries! It is always enjoyable. My first few days on the island have been really good so far too. We've really been praying for miracles and blessings, and showing the Lord we are willing to work for them. Every time we leave the house to travel on the MTR or walk anyway, we pray for prepared people to be put in our path, and promise that we will talk with them. We have been talking to everyone, and the more we open our mouths, the more He trusts us and has sent some great people our way! We found out our neighbor is from mainland, and has interest to meet, and we keep running into people on the train, street, everywhere we can! I am grateful for the blessings.
Last night in the temple apartments
I am excited to be working with the members on the island, there are a lot of part member families and especially less active young men to work with, which is really fun. We visited a less active and her husband was there, he is from Mexico, I think I wrote about him last year. It was really fun to visit him, Elder Garcia and him spoke lots of Spanish, it was so weird hearing Spanish in one ear and Chinese in the other haha I have almost no ability to speak Spanish, it is the exact opposite of Chinese.
Elder Garcia and I studying in our "new" apartment
Our recent convert Scott is such a stud. His new calling is branch missionary, and he takes it very seriously, he invites all his friends to activities, shares about the gospel to them all the time, gives out Book of Mormons, the guy is on fire! We went to meet one of his friends with him, and he brought like two other friends to introduce to us. Amazing. It has been a perfect calling for him. Other people praise him a lot, but he is very humble, reminds me of a quote by President Monson about magnifying callings, simply by doing the duty that pertains to it. He is just simply doing his duty and is being blessed! If everyone just simply understood and did the duty that pertains to our callings, the work would progress just like Scott is.
P-day with buddies

My man Li Jiu

I was studying in the scriptures and was so impressed by the example of Amulek, and his choice to serve with Alma, in Alma 15:16 "...Amulek having foresaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Amminihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred..."

He really gave up everything to follow and preach, he reminds me of so many recent converts here in China who have to give up a significant portion of their material or 'worldly' life for the gospel. We were talking with Scott and his friend, and his friend was asking him if Scott has lost friends or anything since he doesn't drink and go out to bars with his friends anymore, and Scott was like ya I have certainly lost a few friends and social time, but what I have gained spiritually is far more significant and has made me far happier than I was before. I'm sure Amulek would say the same thing, as would any missionary or any person who gives up a little to follow and serve! I am grateful for the opportunity to give of myself, to serve, and to learn what it means to truly be happy. 

Dinner before picking up incoming new missionaries
Pizza time!!!

I love being a missionary and serving!

Elder Woolley


Monday, February 6, 2017

Tender mercies - week 78


This week was an awesome week, a mission highlight! Lots of spiritual moments, but mostly just filled with tender mercies. I'll try and sum it up as best I can.

First off, I really love working with Elder Stratford. I have just been blessed with some amazing missionary companions. We work great together and he is a focused and diligent missionary with great integrity.
Elder Stratford, me and enchiladas

The week started off great! On Monday, Jason's dad was visiting from 惠州! We were so excited to meet him. Jason is a great rc, and I still remember a year or so ago when we came across him on the street, and remember how his faith helped him overcome his parental opposition. It is amazing how the gospel really blesses families. His dad was great, and had some really good questions. He said even though he had been raised completely not knowing or understanding anything about God, he has seen how much it has blessed and helped his son. He was really appreciative for the church, and even believes that the gospel might be the right path, and he himself would really like to learn more. WOW! We were so happy!! He is going to try to find more time in his schedule to come down to Hong Kong to visit his so son and attend church meetings to learn. It makes me so happy to see the Lord blessing their family. Jason is a powerful pioneer and will bless his family eternally.
Jason's dad
We had a missionary broadcast this week, it was a great broadcast. I learned a lot, it's impossible to summarize all my thoughts really. One thing I did enjoy was Elder Bednar's opening prayer. So powerful. It is a rare opportunity to hear an apostle pray, and pray so specifically on our behalf. I love the focus on the uncountable, rather on the countable. It's like how President Uchtdorf says, all the things you can count don't really count. All the things you can't count, really do count. We can't count conversion and change of heart, it's a good reminder to always be doing the right things for the right reasons, and not just because there is a number attached to it for reports.  I love the focus on the Spirit as the teacher. It reminds me of how hard I prayed and relied on the Spirit for an interview I did a little while ago and how all of my questions and comments were what she needed (because they were from the Spirit). If only every lessons I ever taught were like that, I will work harder to get out of the way and let the real teacher teach.

I loved seeing all the missionaries come through for the broadcast, it makes me so happy to see them all! The mission is doing well right now, I really felt the special spirit and power of all the missionaries gathered together. We sang called to serve and I really was touched, to feel the faith of all those missionaries, and feel their desire to serve and to be taught. I love missionaries!
Missionary friends at MLC

Elder Kim - almost done with his mission :(

At the end of the conferences an couple missionary who I worked with in Macau bore their testimonies as they are both leaving the field, they talked about how the Tagyam family, an older couple who I brought sacrament to in Macau, was going to the Philippines to be endowed and sealed! What a tender mercy to hear that! I am so happy for them and amazed with their progression. Heavenly Father watches over all His children.

On Thursday we had a pretty open day with not too much to do because most of our people are still out of town for the new year, but our day was suddenly packed with blessings! A bunch of members had scheduled a Gospel Lesson on missionary work and temples, but the teacher wasn't able to come, so we last minute taught a bunch of mainland members and youth about preparing for missions and the temple. I don't know if I have ever met with a more teachable group of people, they just desired to learn. Their faith was amazing. Every single one of them is a convert within the past 2-5 years. Their faith in Jesus Christ really was palpable, I was so impressed, they will be excellent missionaries. If only every member had their faith, their would be much less problems, people would never hesitate to do their duties and magnify callings. One of them named Alan really impressed me, he was baptized 4 months ago, he had been doing business with tow men from America who both happened to be members, and he felt something different from them. He said for some reason out of nowhere I thought to ask them what their religious beliefs were. Because he approached them they were able to share a little bit with him, which led him to be baptized. And this week he came to the temple with 500 years worth of family names for the temple, and he has an absolutely shining countenance and testimony. We always have to be living in a way that someone could see us and feel the difference that Alan felt from those two members! 
The group we taught

Mainland baptism

Members from India

We also ran into another member outside the temple who is preparing for a mission and brought her friend to tour the temple. We taught a powerful lesson about our Heavenly Father, and my testimony was strengthened again. And then on the train we were talking to a family from Xi An, and as I pulled out a Book of Mormon, they were like oh you are mormons! I was caught off guard, then they said we toured Salt Lake Temple 4 years ago, we love that church! I was so surprised! They excitedly took the book and said they want to learn more! Heavenly Father always puts people in our paths as long as He can trust that we will reach out and find them.

Our great investigator Livia is progressing amazingly fast, she will definitely be getting baptized in March, if not earlier. Max is doing a great job supporting her, I love seeing them learn together.

There are so many more wonderful experiences from this week, I can't sum them all up! I feel so blessed to be serving in Hong Kong at this amazing time of the church, to be working with so many pioneers, and to be strengthened by the faith, humility, and desire. Heavenly Father can do so much with a willing heart, I really trust that he will continue to guide us in our work for the rest of the mission and our lives as long as we are willing to let him,and are willing to pay the price. I am grateful Christ was willing to pay the ultimate price for all of us. I love being a missionary and love Hong Kong!

Elder Woolley

Gong Hay Fat Choy - week 77

Happy Chinese New Year everybody! It is now the year of the Rooster (my mom's year). New Years week is always an interesting week, especially for mandarin missionaries. All of our investigators, potentials, members, basically everyone went back to mainland for the week! But we still managed to have a pretty good week! 
Lunch with Sheldon Poon 

Chinese New Year Dinner?!

We met a new referral, a members son, named You Wei. Fun fact he is also my old companion Elder Hui's cousin! He is a really impressive kid, he is only 13 but is really intelligent and mature. We had a great lesson with him, the questions he was asking really amazed me, I couldn't believe he is only 13! He asked about how to know if things are true, how to know if God is real, why are their so many religions etc etc. Real questions of the soul. He reminded me of young Joseph Smith, who at about that same age was asking those same questions. We are blessed that he took those questions to the scriptures and to God in prayer. We had a good lesson and he said a great prayer. I have good hopes for him! Every time we teach someone I always envision them gaining testimony and getting baptized, and with him I see it happening very quickly. I can't wait to see them again this week! He also agreed to play a violin/piano piece in church with us in the future!
Elder Hui's cousin - You Wei

We have an awesome old man investigator Li Jiu, I think I sent a pic of us with him last week. He is a great guy, every time we teach him Elder Stratford and I leave so happy, because he is just so humble and teachable. It's pretty funny, he speaks in all Chinese and then says "Elder" in english in a pretty funny voice haha but he is a pleasure to teach. He wants to learn, really respects the missionaries, has great faith, and is the most humble person I have ever met. We had a miracles with him this last week, we have been trying to help him quit smoking, a problem he has had for about 50-60 years, and he always talks about how he has trouble breathing unless he smokes. We had been working with it, teaching, testifying, promising blessings, and nothing seems to work, then all of a sudden, this last week he said, I quit smoking. I choose to be done now, it will be no problem. And then he quit that moment, just like that. He has been clean since then. I was totally shocked, of course we will have to see how it plays out, but he really did just quit right then and has been clean for a week. Amazing. He is really exercising his agency to act in faith. I am impressed by the power of choice, and how great the gift of agency is, as well as the enormous role it plays in our mortal lives.

I thought a lot about choice and faith this week. I really like Elder Anderson's talk, faith is not by chance, but by choice. I think in different times throughout my life and mission, in my own life, and in the lives of people we teach, I see lots of people just waiting for faith to come to them. Waiting for signs, blessings, clear answers, basically waiting for faith to chance upon them. I love how simply Anderson says it, 
"faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it." If we want more faith, more blessings, more answers, we have to choose to believe first, actively seek it, and then do everything we can to hold onto it, doubting our doubts, before we doubt our faith. It's a principle we learn all the time, but for some reason it stuck out to me a lot this week. Choosing actively to have more faith, trusting it really is all in his hands. Using agency to choose always to be more obedient, act righteously, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, seeking and working harder, then holding onto the faith at all times. A simple formula for always increasing our faith in Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the Savior and all that he has done for me individually, and for billions of individuals throughout time. It is hard to comprehend really, but I am grateful, I know it's true, and know that the Atonement works.

I love getting to meet people from all sorts of different backgrounds and upbringings, from the impoverished to the wealthy, I love talking to them, getting to know them, and just knowing as I look at them that they are children of God, just like me, that there is a spirit in them just like me, and that we can help remind them of who they are, and where they have the potential to go and become. Missionary work is the greatest, I love the people and love being a missionary!!

Elder Woolley 胡長老

Kowloon Stop (MTR) apartments

A couple from mainland - wife is getting baptized soon

Helping Ding HD move 

Found a squad pic in the trash at Ding HD's

Training a new AP - Elder Sargent - also Jacob's cousin!

Classic Hong Kong Popo working hard