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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Miracles and Tender Mercies - week 85

Hello everyone!

 I feel like I have said this a lot recently, but this week was again one of the best weeks of my mission! A week truly full of miracles and tender mercies. The work is too good.

We had one of the best Sundays ever in Vic 3, it's the last week for Vic 3 before it splits into the Kowloon Branch and the Wan Chai branch, and it was the best turnout I have ever seen! One of the long time members of the branch and a true legend Huang Dx gave a talk in church and brought back 10 less actives and 5 friends to church, and all the missionaries were able to get a record number of investigators to the church and it was amazing! A great atmosphere and excitement in the building, and it was really touching to see all the old time members recognize the less actives and hug them and see so much joy in the reunion. Sometimes we forget to simply invite people back, tell them they are missed, loved, and most importantly, that they are needed. The members were really happy to be back, Vic 3 has really become a home to many. I really love Vic 3, it is so exciting to see Heavenly Father preparing the people for the split, I have never seen so many people at church, I hope they all stay. It is also a little bittersweet, I will miss the wonderful and loyal Kowloon members. But I know that the Kowloon Branch is going to be amazing! All of our YSA are in the Kowloon side, I am excited to see them grow and serve, I am so proud of all the great people I was able to teach in Kowloon, they will contribute greatly to the foundation of that branch. 

We had a rollercoaster week with Zhao jm getting baptized. She called us earlier saying that se couldn't be baptized because she might have to go to mainland to visit some relatives before they move, and then we couldn't have a baptism next week because of the split, or the week after because of Conference, so we were a little worried trying to figure out what to do, but the whole time somehow I didn't feel too worried and trusted God because she was prepared and faithful. And then last minute the situation was resolved! Zhao Jm was baptized on Sunday!
Zhao jm and her son

Zhao jm is baptized!

Zhao jm friends supporting her baptism
As were two children from the branch. Again there were tons of people attending and supporting. It was a great baptism, Zhao jm was so prepared, and I had the privilege to perform the ordinance. It is such a special moment to be standing the water and watch the person enter in from the other side, I just felt the Spirit so strongly, and felt the love of God for all the people in the room. He really is watching over all of us His children. I feel so privileged to be small part in the stories of these people's lives and conversions. I love being a missionary so much, and love these people that we serve, they are the best!! I knelt down that night to pray and just felt my heart filled with gratitude and happiness. The mission has filled me so many times with joy and happiness, it is such an incredible experience. It's been amazing to see how quickly the attitude can change if we keep gratitude and charity in mind,  and always remember our many blessings. It is a lesson I have constantly been learning my whole mission. I definitely have learned to trust God.

This week was full of other little miracles, an old former called us wanting to meet up and told us all about his life, which was incredible and so sad. When he was six his parents divorced and neither one wanted him, so he was with his grandmother, who then passed away. And since then he has been alone and working for himself. He eventually found his way over to Hong Kong where he tried to reconnect with his father, but found that his father has a new family, which was hard news for him, and ever since then he decided that he would never rely on anyone for anything ever again. Many years later he met missionaries who shared with him and his wife and daughter shared the plan the of salvation and the gospel message, which touched his heart. For some reason they had lost contact until this week when he called us up, and we met. He is very humble and has great potential! I just want to help him be a little happier and hopeful! It was also miraculous, when we went to meet him at the chapel, two random people walked in, two mainlanders whose son had moved to Utah and got baptized, and they were looking to learn more. Amazing! Heavenly Father truly sends his prepared people to us when we are humble enough to be prepared to receive them! We have lots of great potentials for these next few months, lots of referrals from Sunday as well. I can't wait for these next few months, I expect big things from the Mandarin branches and from the great members and people we are working with!

It has been a great and faith strengthening week for myself and for all those that we work with. I know the Savior is with us in the work, I love the words of President Eyring "If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidance of the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we 
choose it. And with prophets revealing to us our place in the 
plan of salvation, we can live with perfect hope and feeling 
of peace. We never need to feel that we are alone or unloved 
in the Lord’s service because we never are. We can feel the 
love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and 
our right to bear us up. And He always keeps His word." The hardest, as well as the easiest of times on the mission have been a blessing, and I love seeing the gospel of the savior mould and change the willing and open people that we teach. This week I truly did feel the love of God, for me, for my family, for our investigators, the members, for all of us as His children!

Love you all, thank you for your prayers,

Elder Woolley

Kennedy Town were we live

Apartment mates

Elder Woolley playing tennis with Scott on P-day

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Victoria 3rd Splits week 84

Helloo Everybody!! 

It's been a very exciting week!  Biggest news first, Victoria 3rd branch is splitting! We are founding the Kowloon Mandarin branch! It is so exciting, we have been working on laying the foundation and preparing the area for the branch for soo long, it is good to see all the work I did in Kowloon paying off, I know so many good saints over there who will be blessed with a church closer to home. I am sad I won't be at their meetings, but I know it is going to flourish! I am happy to be helping out here on the Hong Kong Island side to continue to build up the new Wan Chai branch. It reminds me of when the church was formed, there was like less than 20 members at the time, amazing to see how He moves the work forward! I am excited to see where these branches go over the next few years. I love seeing all the members and especially the recent converts grown and contribute to the work, I love them all so much!

We also had moves calls last night, we will be in a tri-panionship with a little trainee! I'm happy to stay with Elder Garcia, and we're excited to have a new buddy with us! The island is doing really well right now, Zhao jm will be getting baptized this Sunday! I am so excited for her, she is an amazing person, and has been prepared for this day for a long time. Her full story is amazing, just shows us how much God prepares his children. When she lived in Shen Zhen one of her friends joined the church and moved to Utah. She then took a month trip through America, and stayed with the friend in Utah for a period and toured Temple Square, then went back to China, moved to Hong Kong, and met the missionaries. She has been given small things here a little there a little until she has finally made the decision! I am really excited for her baptism. It has been a long time coming!
Having dim sum with Zhao jm

In a really sad turn of events, our friend May has to go to Shang Hai for work for a time, it was sad to say goodbye though she should be returning here and there over the next few months. She has gone through a very complicated stage in her life, she shared with us all the things she has learned and all the ways she has changed in our short 6 weeks of sharing the gospel with her, and it was very touching. Truly the gospel has power to change behavior and nature more than anything else. We know helping her form this relationship with God in this hard time of her life has helped her be more stable, and really believe him. She used to question how God could exist and let all the bad things happen to her even though she asked for Him to not let them happen, but now she has learned to really trust him, and seek to learn and find His will throughout the situations of life. It is an important lesson to learn and I have enjoyed seeing her grow spiritually. I hope she will attend church in Shang Hai, and still believe she will be baptized in the future!
Elders Woolley and Garcia with May

I went through a sort of weird stage for the first half of this week, this week started off really slow with a lot of disappointments, and for some reason it threw me into a weird mindset, and for a day or two I experienced one of the few times on my mission where I found myself tiring of 'doing good' for lack of a better way to say it. And the grind of the work seemed to really wear on me, I was praying at the beginning of that week for the passion to come back, because for some reason it was down a bit. But it didn't seem to comeback, and I was confused! I was in this state when we went to a meeting with the District President Holyoak for the International District, and we had a very inspiring discussion about pushing the work forward, how we are already given everything we need to succeed in the work, we just have to be humble and use it and not always ask for more. Then he paused, and went on to share some thoughts about the mission, told us to not go through the missions, but let the motions go through us, to really always be serving a mission, and really ponder on all our experiences and conversations with leadership and learn and grow in such a way that our natures are changed, so that when we go home and take off the tags we don't revert back to our old selves, but continue progressing along the path of service, because we are the future of the church! I was hit right in the core and felt a big boost, and just thought don't be complacent and stop thinking about yourself! Again I had been thinking too much about myself. I reflected a lot on what he said and pondered on the many amazing blessings and people I have met on the mission, and pondered upon the teachings we received in a recent Zone Conference, and again felt that fire of gratitude and passion to work hard and push the work forward came flooding right back! I am grateful that I received an answer to my prayers right away, and such clear counsel and a bit of personal chastisement from the Spirit. I really pondered a lot about what he said, and then we went out and just went right back to work, we went out finding and ran into an awesome guy right away on the pier at night, and gratitude and excitement just filled me up and I now know a cleared direction for myself, area, zone etc. Very grateful He pulled right back after a brief stumble.

I thought about something that we discussed in Zone Conference about repentance, sin is anything that estranges us from God. Any feelings of guilt estrange us from God, and we have to go through Christ's atonement to be brought back to being one with God, and to be able to standing his presence with confidence. I thought about the story of Nephi getting the plates from Laban, how the first two times failed because they went after it the worlds way, relying on chance, and on material possessions to get them. It wasn't only until Nephi relied on the Spirit, did it God's way that he was able to succeed. But the path of following Christ is not easy, Nephi had to do something that made him uncomfortable, he had to kill Laban to continue on the path and in order to allow the people to have the word of God. Of course as we walk the Lord's path we won't have to kill anyone, but I believe and have experienced on my mission the Lord bringing me upon my own 'Laban's' lying in front of me, that I have to get rid of so that I can continue and grow and not 'dwindle' in unbelief. It is the same for our investigators who encounter their personal Laban's on the path of discipleship, where they must do something they have never done before, something that scares them like quitting smoking, praying, telling their family that they want to join a church etc. But we know the result of overcoming those things is worth the difficult moment of decision with Laban lying in the path. I am grateful that we have those moments of decision and growth, and know that as we rely on the Spirit which leadeth to do good we will be ok! I am grateful that the Spirit helped me get over a little Laban of complacency this last week, and I am so excited for the future in this area, it is such a bright future! 

Love you all!

Elder Woolley
Hong Kong University Campus

Finding on the K Town Pier
Sister Neddy from Macao

Friday, March 17, 2017

Work on the Island - week 83

Hello All!!

We had another great week! I have really enjoyed my time on the Island so far! It has been great to truly feel and see blessings coming daily from the Lord, especially into the little and wonderful branch Victoria 3rd. What a wonderful branch, I look forward to every Sunday, sitting with the members and partaking of the sacrament together. I often reflect on how far the branch has come, I am so proud to see our great converts blessing and passing the sacred emblems. It just fills me with joy to see them all progressing and learning. Victoria 3rd branch is truly a special place, built on the shoulders of some truly amazing converts. I love seeing a branch made up almost entirely of first generation members grow and thrive in the gospel. I also love serving with a recent convert, for the second time in my mission. It is always fun listening to him share what he has learned in his studies every day, I am impressed by Elder Garcia's desire to learn and grow, he is a good missionary. Truly the promise is real, if we obey the commandments, we prosper! There was another branch this week in Vic 3, Vivian, a woman from Beijing who walked in to the Wan Chai chapel a few months ago after having a feeling that she needed to go in. God is a God of miracles, and miracles certainly haven't stopped today!

Zhao jm is going to make her baptism without a doubt. She is so excited and more prepared then almost anyone I have ever met. She is eager to learn and do the right thing. She is always saying I hope... I hope.. She is so hopeful and trusting! We gave her Uchtdorf's talk 4th flour last door to read. It is an excellent talk and such a true principle. I can't wait for her baptism! Livia was confirmed at church on Sunday, it was a great moment, she was so excited and happy, it has been so fun to see so many people making the changes necessary and coming unto Christ. It is the best work! 

We had a particularly difficult lesson with one of our great potentials May. Originally we had planned to share about the Book of Mormon, but as we started talking with her it became clear that that was not the message that she needed. She vented on some very complicated personal and work matters involving some friends and betrayals at her previous company etc etc and again we were in the position that we have been in so many times in the mission where we have absolutely no personal experience to rely on, and are forced to full rely on the Spirit (as we should be doing every time anyways), and must trust and know in our hearts that the Savior truly understands us all in the most complicated, as well as the most simple of problems. So we were praying to know what to say and it was amazing that immediately a scripture and mormon message popped into mind, so we shared them both, testified our hearts out, and listened. She was touched, and said that strangely she had a thought of what she needs to do while she was listening to us. It is sad to see this situation really just affect her, she is a great person and we are praying that things will work out and that she will not have to return to Beijing. I am grateful for the direction of the Spirit. Again, I was reminded of how deeply grateful I am to have the Gospel in my life, and to have the eternal perspective and peace. And to know truly that there is a Savior who has done so much for me and even understands the hardships I go through, that testimony and knowledge is something that I wish everyone would have! These types of trials are just so hard for people that don't have the higher perspective, I have seen them just topple people's lives and budding testimonies,not to downplay the difficulty of the trial, but to have the faith and belief strong enough to truly have the rock of a foundation, regardless of what is or is not happening in life is a gift. I hope to be that way whenever hard times find me. 

That is why it is so important to have hope!  I have been thinking about that Christ-like attribute - hope.  Zhao jm is a great example to me of hope, she has yet to fully receive what she wants/is searching and asking for, yet she is filled with hope!  I love the scripture, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Rom 15:13)  He is the God of Hope, and wants us to have peace in believing, not negativity, doubt or fear.  Why not hope and trust and have peace in what we believe to be true, then "plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope." (1Cor 9:10). I love being around people who are filled with hope, and love reading and studying praying because it always gives me hope and faith in the promises of God, and that one day they will be fulfilled. It can be easy to lose hope, and we meet people everyday who have either lost hope, or have never had hope in anything. A great part of being missionary is giving people hope in something, something that they never had considered was possible, seeing them "plow in hope" and eventually receive and increase of faith, happiness, and peace from the God of Hope.

I love the work, and look forward with hope for this week!!

Elder Woolley

Elder Clegg's birthday -we took him to the only mexican restaurant in town

Filipina sisters - they know Grandma and Grandpa Woolley

HK Central

Friday, March 10, 2017

Best Week! - week 82

Hello everyone!!
As you can tell by the title, this has been one of the best weeks of my mission, and probably my life! So many great things happened, we've just been so blessed! The work on the island is going great, we are seeing tons of blessings and meeting lots of great prepared people, my companion and I are getting along great, the work is really fun! The island is on fire right now!

International Zone leadership :)

We had a mandarin missionary meeting this week it was very inspiring. It is great to be a part of this special work here in Hong Kong and involved with the amazing members in China. We are laying a great groundwork here and helping building foundations and future leaders of the church in China. The church in mainland is truly amazing. Elder James shared some great stories from his mission here in Hong Kong in the 60's, he knew my grandparents well. It is amazing to see the progression of the church, sometimes we do not get to see the blessings of the work we do, but the fruits do come. For example, my Grandfather didn't get too see all the fruits of them joining the church, but I'm sure he sees more and more now as our family grows in the gospel, and with each person that I am able to share the gospel with or baptize. I'm grateful for their examples and faith.
Zhao jm (sister Zhao)

This week we had two miracle baptisms! The first one is Angel, the daughter of one of our members Tan jm in Vic 3. I may have talked about this last summer, but I called Tan Jm who was less active at the time last summer, and happened to call on her daughters birthday. This triggered her interest in having missionaries over again and helped her decide to go back to church and get her daughter baptized. It has been awhile since then, and their family has been through a lot of trials financially and had a hard divorce since then, but she was finally able to bring her daughter to the gospel and be baptized! It was a simple baptism, she was still pretty shy, but it was touching to see them two united together in belief. I could really feel the love she has for her daughter. She gave a very touching talk for her daughter.
Angel's baptism

The other baptism was Livia! We have been working with them and praying for her for a very long time, it wasn't until a month or so ago when we met with her and President and Sister all together that she finally started to really progress and have her concerns resolved. It was a very touching baptism as well, she is a very prepared person, and it is great to see her and her husband also united fully in the gospel. Again it is hard to explain the feelings of joy in seeing these wonderful people who we love so much taking the step of faith into covenanting with God. They never realize how much God has in store for them, and how much he really does bless us. He always keeps his promises, and the promises in baptism really are wonderful.
Livia's baptism - they will be living in Colorado for the summer
- in my family's ward!!

We also had two amazing lessons this week, our Rc buddy Scott's referral, May accepted a baptismal date for April which is so exciting! She really connected with Joseph Smith' story, apparently the religious climate in China is similar to that of America during the great awakening, but with a communist twist. Lots of pastors of different faiths, lots of them making money etc. It really is a land of peoples searching for identity, purpose, and God. We are excited for her!

We were also able to start teaching Scott's wife this week too and I am really excited for her! It is a slow start, starting really at the basics, but again there is so much potential in helping unify them together in the fold.

Every since I got to the island, I had a feeling that I had to start meeting with and teaching Zhao jm and her sons, an eternigator of vic 3 that I have known well for a year or so, who has never been able to be baptized because of some opposition from her spouse. Anyways we met with her this week and just had an amazing lesson, we learned that she doesn't actually have much spouse opposition, just personal doubts and fears, a lots just stemming from thinking that she doesn't know enough/ hasn't had a100% for sure knowledge that it is true. It was just a great lesson, we were able to resolve the concerns and mostly just feel the Spirit and calm assurance from Heavenly Father, sometimes we all need to just"doubt not, fear not, look unto me (Him) in every thought" and doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith! I have met so many people, missionaries and investigators and members who let doubts and things they don't know scare them and keep them from committing or from being more! Living the faithful and believing life is certainly harder than living the cynical and doubting life, but so much more meaningful and filling.mI am so excited for her, she will be baptized before April! The Lord is in the work, and he truly knows the details of the details of our lives. I have felt so guided the more that I pray and pray for these people, for charity, and for the work.

It has been such a  blessing to be amongst so many people changing their lives and their natures and coming to know their Savior. I have felt so many times guided and sent to specific people, and I really feel a special connection especially to those that I have helped be baptized. I am grateful for charity, that has allowed me to love and pray for the people harder than I ever have before, and that has allowed me to see them as they are, as we all are, as children of God without end, and with divine potential. I love it, and know that we don't do the work alone! What a great work to be part of, " shall we not go on in so great a cause?  Go forward and not backward.  Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!  Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing.  Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free."

Love you all, have a great week, I am praying for you all!

Elder Woolley