Learning from the best...week 93

Monday, May 29, 2017

This week was really exciting. I don't think I could describe in any effect just how blessed I feel. I want everyone to know that I am Heavenly Father's most spoiled child. That doesn't mean favoritism. That's not true. It's not that I'm better than other's. Quite the contrary. It just means that I need the most help. I would say that I'm helpless, but in reality, I have the Spirit walking with me almost every step of the way, and it really is a panic when I try to make the executive decision.

We were blessed with amazing weather and BLACK RAIN! We were outside when it started, but we were called inside because it can be dangerous in some areas (not in mine though). The weather for the rest of the week was HEAVENLY! The air was clear and cool. I went on exchanges with some fantastic elders who teach me how to be a missionary, even when they have only been in the field for a few months! This mission consists of the smartest and strongest and most powerful missionaries in the world...and then Elder Taylor, who was blessed with the opportunity to be companions with the best one, Elder Johnson.

For those within the sound of my voice...or...letter......thing, I would tell you to count your blessings. You lose count pretty quick, and find your spirits lifted with hope and faith!

My companion is an especially good example of Hope and Faith. We are getting ready for the month of June, and he's going home on the 16th. Rather than throwing in the towel or ignoring the date, he is getting excited to pick up as many blessings as he can on this land of blessings that rain just as hard as it did this last week...and that is a lot of water.
Elder Johnson's a good guy. I don't think he's ever lost his temper before (which he says is a lie, but I think I'm right). He's got a good and level head on his shoulders. All of my previous companions have had this gift, so maybe I can learn something from them...maybe.

I send my love. I send the love of Elder Quentin L. Cook who blessed you and others in the way only an Apostle can, saying that you will not only be protected by the commandments, but increased and strengthened according to your faith and love for the Lord. I felt the truth of his words ringing in my heart and had enough faith to know that God exists, He loves us, and He is WAY smarter than us. Love you all. Take care. Keep the Faith.

PS Don't eat Balut. It's just a bad idea.

Notes from Mom:  Here is a description of balut:  In the Philippines and Southeast Asia, balut is a common food that people eat. Balut is a fertilized chicken or duck egg with an almost developed embryo. The egg will be eaten in the shell once it has been boiled. I decided I would not post a picture.  Yuck.

The price of miracles...week 92

Monday, May 22, 2017

This week was so interesting. I've been working on prayer as I shared last week, and at first it seemed to be working. Then we hit wednesday. I think it was probably the longest day of my mission thus far. NOTHING was happening. We couldn't teach, we couldn't study, we couldn't even speak Chinese! It was like the spirit was being cinched like a hose. We were straining to feel it the whole day, but it just didn't seem to come all day. We got home, and we were so confused. Had we sinned? Was there something we had done to offend our Father in Heaven? We couldn't come up with anything, so we looked at our planners for a long time and decided to close the day in a special way. We sang a couple of hymns and we set some specific goals for the next day. We closed with a short prayer and both knelt there in silence, feeling the strain that was there release somewhat. It was not a flow of power surging into us. We both felt that God was kind of telling us "that's pretty good, but can you keep it up? I think you can! Let's try..."
Then the miracles started.
We started getting a few phone calls...then more...then more. Soon, our phone was exploding with texts and missed calls, people asking us for help, priesthood blessings, surprise new investigators, former investigators and less active members calling us after as much as 20 years of literally ZERO contact with the church.

A special one was on Friday. We got a call from the assistants saying that there was a man originally from America that had been living in mainland China for more than a decade. He was in a hospital and one of his friends called in a favor from the mission to get someone to visit him. The man's name is Dirk (pretty fun name😊). We went and visited, found out he's not a member, but his father was a less active and his grandmother was the wife of some former general authority. Nothing crazy happened, but we became pretty good friends with him. We went home. The next morning, Elder Johnson, the one out of us two who seems to listen to the spirit more, felt a prompting that we should go visit him again that morning. We had done no planning or study. We just went.
Turned out that his family had come to visit him as well, we walked in and heard him talking about these two nice guys that a co-worker had sent to visit the other night...so the phrase "speak of the devil and he shows up" is obviously not only applicable to the devil. He broke out laughing when he saw us and introduced us to his son and his wife. He then told us that he wants to take us to lunch sometime this upcoming week when he got out of the hospital. Hopefully we will still be able to do that. His son speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin all fluently. Reads both simplified and traditional Chinese...I feel useless sometimes...BUT I'm grateful for the blessings that I do have.
I will tell you all how it goes with Elder Cook tonight. I AM SO EXCITED! 

Also had a baptism yesterday. He is an awesome kid who went to his grandma and told her "grandma, I need to learn more about Christ and get baptized." She came and found us after 12 years of not talking to anyone from the church. We had his grandma, his mom, and his nanny who are ALL less active members of the church at his baptism and all three hours of church. THIS IS A HUGE MIRACLE considering that they are all single moms that have to work almost every day and find difficulty in getting just one day off in a month. It happened though, and there are miracles happening in this family of struggles and trials.

God loves ALL of his children and provides for their needs so that they can grow. That is my testimony. Love you all and pray for you by name and by night. This is the greatest work ever. I don't want it to end.
I'm sorry that I haven't been sending very many pictures lately. Apple doesn't even have USB connection anymore on their laptops...:(

Elder Taylor

Notes from Mom:  Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and 5 or 6 of the Quorum of the Seventy are in Hong Kong.  All the missionaries get to be taught by them.  The mission is abuzz with excitement!

Happy Mother's Day...week 91

Monday, May 15, 2017

Well, another week...of miracles...and other stuff like that. Elder Johnson and I gave our first training together in a Zone Conference. We had a lot of fun. We talked about some things that were mentioned in Elder Bednar's talk from october 2008 general conference. We are needing to learn how to receive revelation and how to teach our investigators to do the same. Revelation is THE principle of salvation (emphasis added to a quote from the Bible Dictionary on Revelation). Without revelation, we cannot return to the Kingdom because, frankly, we never learned how to in the first place!

As an object lesson, we used this electric pad used for physical therapy and had the Elders all get in a line. When there was contact between them, the circuit was completed and EVERYONE could feel the electricity pulsing through us. If there was one person that made a break, no one could feel it. Sometimes our prayers are there, but are just said for the sake of being said. We kneel down at night out of habit and, half asleep, mumble something we are grateful for and ask for energy enough for the next day.

We need more than that. Elder Bednar explains very well the connection between the creation of all things and the purpose of Prayer. Before everything was created physically, it was created spiritually. When we pray in the morning, we should attempt to spiritually create our day. Test your faith, and prove it to be strong. Then throughout the day as we realize that creation of the day being physically MANIFEST (that's an important word right there, pay attention to it) we should express our sincere gratitude. This connects our prayers and INCREASES OUR FAITH because we see the realization of our desires and efforts combined in our understanding of WHO is actually doing this. It's not us. We are only tools in HIS hands to accomplish something greater than ourselves. We should therefore be willing to submit to the enticings of the spirit and become saints through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.

For those who read this, especially the mothers, you should remember that your prayers are most often and most powerfully answered in the range of your Priesthood Power, or STEWARDSHIP (there is a difference between authority to act in the name of the lord and the power whereby we become His disciples. The honorable stewardship entitled "Mother" empowers you to spiritually affect and influence your children according to the will of our Heavenly Father. We can therefore positively conclude that the most successful (a hard word to define and an important word to ponder) individuals in their callings are the ones who respect the agency of those in their reach, but by faith provide the necessary opportunities and the powerfully persuasive example whereby those individuals are INSPIRED (this word, again, is easily bound to the doctrines of Revelation and the Holy Ghost, the member of the Godhead who manages the distribution of that revelation).
If you are a leader in the church (which you very likely are in some way or another) Revelation should be what you are looking for to benefit others around you.
I LOVED reading and pondering this topic, and it really helped me to appreciate seeing my mom and dad today, who throughout my life have shown me so much about what it really means to be a disciple of our Lord and Master.
I know He lives, and I know that because He lives, we have all power given to us over the challenges of the world, all on the condition of sincere repentance. He is our Redeemer. I leave this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.​​

PS...happy mothers day picture with the mates in the apartment...

Sweat and rain...week 90

Monday, May 8, 2017

Thought I would just show you that we were moving a buch of people around the Island. We were already pretty sweaty from carrying all the stuff, and we were getting off the MTR when from 30 feet under ground we could hear the sound of the pouring rain. We looked at each other, and then we both smiled. We didn't have umbrellas, but we hadn't showered that day either. The result was refreshing as well as a big mess to mop up. We have Zone Conference which Elder Johnson and I have an hour training that we are supposed to organize...so I'm gonna need your prayers.

I'll share thoughts next week. Remember, when it rains, the only thing that you need to worry about in the end is mopping and laundry afterwards. Rain isn't actually too bad. LOOK UP! OPEN YOUR MOUTH! DRINK IT! (Don't do this in polluted areas of the world...#GeneralConferenceHK!)​

Bonus post...week 89

Friday, May 5, 2017

Notes from Mom:  This morning I woke to an email from Joshua Johnson.  "Ran into your sons in HK today. They are studs!" Now I need to figure out how to rotate photos that I thought I already rotated!

Week 89

Monday, May 1, 2017

Notes from Mom:  we didn't get a traditional weekly email from Ian this week.  Instead, we went back and forth with him trying to give us access to his gmail account so we could view some pictures he tried to share.  We got it figured out and got a lot of pictures, but it used up his time that he would have written the usual email we enjoy.  Here are some bits and pieces from this week:

Mom, I need to know where to find them. Store names don't help really. I can get stamps. Do you want just some plain plastic ones or do you want fancy stone ones? How many? Send me specifics and I will tell you price and possibility. Paper cuts are definitely hard to find, but I might know a place. No rush...but I don't want to all of a sudden not have what you wanted and then not be able to go... always be prepared, right? Love you momma!
 (This is in regards to some of the souvenir ideas I sent him.)

I'm not sure why you would want them...They are not really that good...they get dirty very easily. I don't know where to buy them. I just see them around all the time. How many stamps and what names? Chinese or English? I could get you a stamp for your grading papers that says "error" in Chinese...:)  (I love this-I was asking him about some totes that are seen all over.  I appreciate his logical approach to the dirty tote bags ;)  I am TOTALLY going to take him up on the chinese error stamp! It would possibly look like one of these): 

錯誤 错误

That's 3 in a row for NHS momma. Have you run out of room in your little box of memories for all these recognitions and awards? Good job mom:) Way to "dot your i's and cross your t's." I learned from the best.  I have heard from Elder Darrington that Fall semester class registration is open. Am I registered for classes yet? If not, I would really like to get started. (Registration hasn't opened for Fall semester yet.  This week Ana was inducted into the Springville High School chapter of NHS.  I was also offered a job teaching at the high school!)

Looking forward to this boy's return home!

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