Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wo Qin Ai de Jiating,

This past week we had a "Power Week". This means we lost language study time and meals times (we ate on the go) and left the house earlier in order to boost of our proselyting time. It was pretty fun--we were able to hit some really high companionship goals! For example, we talked to 240 people last week, which hasn't been done for at least the last five months. We usually talk to about 180 to 200 people a week in this area. In my past areas we always set goals for around 300, but this area is different. So that was really great! And we were able to get really close to several other high goals. The goal of the power week was to help us raise our vision for December. We hope December is a Power Month!
As for our investigators, we had to drop a baptismal goal (which was for this up coming Sunday :( ) because of parental opposition this week. However, our friend is not giving up and is pretty upbeat about the whole situation. She has a little bag full of missionary materials (she said she wants to be like us--and we all have matching bags now :) ) that she has been bringing home with her. I know that as she continues to share her testimony of this gospel with her mother, that her heart will be softened and we will start of December WHITE. She is constantly in our prayers.
A success story from this week is we were able to help another dear friend come to church!! We biked with her to church and she had a fantastic time! The ward was very great with her and we even had a linger longer for her to attend. It was a very happy moment for us--and we set up a member to come with us to her next lesson. They were able to meet each other and it was so fun. She was so cute too--sharing her testimony of the power of prayer with everyone. I was so proud of her!
With our recent convert/less active work we were able to have an increase in church attendance by working earlier to confirm them for church. We made the time to make calls to correlate with the ward and it worked really well. We still had less new members than we wanted, but we had three less actives come and one new member brought her husband! It was awesome!
As for gospel study, this week I decided to re-read the New Testament (getting ready for Christmas!). It has been really fun and the true reason for this is because last Monday my companion and I went to Costco. While there we were publicly ridiculed (not so fun) by a Canadian couple who professed to be Christians. It was sooo unpleasant because they refused to listen to the simple testimony we bore and just took every chance they could to try and trip us up. I answered honestly all of their questions and stated several times that I wasn't interested in arguing or debating with them about Joseph Smith (they were telling me my church's founder was a child molester due to him having teenage wives) and polygamy, etc, etc, but that my companion and I knew that this message is true because we asked of God.
I was a little shaken up by it emotionally and it was really just embarrassing because we had friends with us. The whole exchange was in English, but they could get the gist of the conversation. After I finally got them to leave us (ten minutes later) we turned the corner and we actually had a pretty good talk with our friends. We explained that after we are baptised, we have joined God's team and Satan is not very happy about that. So people mock us, hate us, reject us, but it's ok. Christ descended below it all--that gave me a lot of comfort. But I did cry a little because I just felt soo sad for them. They had said they were doing this because they "loved me" and even though I don't believe in their Hell they didn't want me going there. Their hearts were soo hard and if they aren't willing to change they will not have an eternal marriage or family. True happiness will escape them :(.
But anyways, after having them spew verse after verse from the New Testament at me, I decided I needed to become more familiar with it. As I read the chapters they had mentioned, I was able to see how a Joseph Smith translation clarified the doctrine, or how even if they had continued to really read the next chapter or two there was a direct contradiction to what they had yelled at me and Sister Lethco. Anyway, I am over it, but it was not so fun. Our district and zone leaders were really great at giving us scriptures for strength. Elder Summerhays told me to read 3 Nephi about how those who are persecuted for the Lord's sake are blessed. We appreciate the support we get from our leaders.
Well, sorry to end on that note, but I am happy and my testimony was only strengthened by that encounter. So I love you all and more later ok?
--Sister Brooke Smith

Monday, November 14, 2011

This week was good, but also a little sad...

Dear Family,

This week was good, but also a little sad--like it sounds like you have had too. We, along with the mission it sounds, had a lot of investigators stop progressing this week :(. One of the saddest was our dear little family--the little boy who reads everyday and his mom. The Elders have and are still working with the son (who is pretty great), but the mom politely told us that her husband said they needed to refocus on the religion they already have. So we were a pretty devastated about that, but we know the Lord loves them and we do too. Our biggest obstacle at this point is parental/spousal opposition. We know that the Lord will provide a way, but sometimes it is hard to have the patience to wait for His time. But on a happier note, our cute friend came to our ward again this Sunday! She is progressing beautifully and gave her mom a "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet to try and help her mother better understand this church. We are so proud of her! Her current baptismal goal is December 24th, but our prayers are that our white Christmas will come a little earlier this year :).

Something I was really happy about this week is that we worked soo well with our wards!!!! On Thursday we had a miracle day with five lessons with a member present--all different people and for two of our wards! It was awesome!!!!! When our members become involved, it just makes the work go by better. I love seeing the faith our members have here and for their willingness to serve. Sister Lethco is great at helping our active members, less actives, and investigators feel loved and it is so great being able to serve with her. So I just feel like we have a continually improving relationship with our wards and with the English branch. They were very influential in helping a few of our new members and less actives come to church this week. I am sooo grateful for wonderful members :). Along the same lines, another sister came to church again this Sunday and the ward members were soo great at making her feel loved. We just can't do this work without members!

Into the gospel study, this week I really feel like I've been able to grow a lot closer to my Savior. I have been reading conference talks from last conference (I only have one left now!! I want to be finished before I get the new one) and one I read this week was by Elder C. Scott Grow on the power of the Atonement. He gave a beautiful example of the enabling power of the Atonement in sharing his brother's life. Elder Grow is also so great at expounding on the scriptures of the Atonement. As I followed his references and did my own study, I felt my faith grow. I love my Savior, and I know that He really did atone for me. I am so grateful for Him.

I wrote Jamie--is he still at basic training? I hope so :P.

Don't worry, I am not going to die with the bike seat I have :). It would just be nice to get a new one. But I've kind of adjusted to the old one...I might just super glue it. I just need to take money out a little here and there to pay for random things like dental visits, pictures, bike repairs, clothing repairs, etc.

Love you all---you should be getting a package from me sometime in December...hehe.

All for now--thank you for all you do!! Be missionaries!

---Sister Brooke Smith

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just Stop and Pray

Hello there!

This week we were able to apply what we learned at mission conference (with the Gongs---I love them!!!) almost immediately! It was great! One of our progressing investigators set her own baptismal goal after we extended a bold memorized baptismal invite. It was great! Her problem is that she goes to school and lives here Monday through Friday, but on the weekends goes home to another town which is outside of our mission. We talked to the assistants about this situation before, and so we are not allowed to call the missionaries there, who she has met with a few times. She has a great member friend there we have permission to call. Also, she came once to our ward two weeks ago! It was a huge miracle. Her family has a lot of tensions around things religious, so she is very afraid to let them know about her meeting with us. She is ready for a baptismal interview, but since she attends the other ward most often, we don't want to put her in a baptismal interview here if she needs to get one from the other mission, etc. She says next semester she will be able to stay here more--like two out of four Sundays a month. And she really really wants baptism! But she still needs parental permission since she is only 18. One really cool thing is her mom saw a picture she had taken with me and Sister Sorensen (before Sister Sorensen went home) and she decided to be honest and say she was meeting with us. Her mom just didn't react at all, so she feels like that was a blessing from God. So we hope that as we keep working with her (and she has soo many friends in our singles ward) that the Lord will provide a way for her to baptized this month.

As for recent convert/less actives, our huge success story from this week was that the Relief Society president and another sister went over to visit our lovely sister who is ill and got her to commit to church!!! And come Sunday morning she came for sacrament!! With her health condition she shouldn't be in large groups of people, so she only stayed for the one hour, but all the members were so great at guanxing her. It was awesome!! We have been working with her for over a month now and this came only because the Relief Society responded to our call for aid. It made us sooo happy.

For my study time, I have decided to re-read the Book of Mormon, but this time from a complete missionary perspective (an idea from Sister Lethco). I looked through Preach My Gospel for principles or ideas I could highlight during my Book of Mormon reading. I came up with highlighting what can be accomplished by the power of the Holy Ghost, my purpose, how to measure success, teaching skills I want to emulate, attributes of a great missionary, and things pertaining to power and authority. It has really opened up the Book of Mormon even more to me. I love it!

Something else is I had a few rough spots this week, mainly my own bad attitude, and it wasn't fun!!! So I've been learning (and Sister Gong spoke on this at the mission meeting) that when I feel grumpy to go pray it out. Just stop and pray. The Lord will bless us with peace, but only when we ask for it! So don't feel afraid to do the same. I have seen it help my companionship and our relationship with the ward so much!!! Oh, also we are sending two Elders to the Taibei mission from our Nantun ward! It is awesome--they are soo excited.

Thanks for all your prayers!


Sister Brooke Smith

I Survived My First Week as a Senior!!!

Dear Family,

Well, I survived my first week as a Senior!!! Woohoo! Having the amazing Sister Lethco as my companion has made it not only possible but enjoyable too! Together we have seen a lot of success and I think we'll be able to help this area become more established unto the Lord. Our two confirmations went smoothly on Sunday--we were able to hit our goal of three baptisms and three confirmations for the month of October! That felt good--and those converts and so rock solid! I love them so much. I am excited see their progression and contributions to their wards. We have been working closely with the wards and Bishop and his wife gave an excellent lesson on how to support new members this past Sunday. It was so awesome!! They have decided to do linger longers after church once a month in order for the members to better guanxi (take care of) our new members, investigators, and each other. We are excited to see the turn out!

As for other investigators, we had 2 come this Sunday! She is so awesome and her son is too. They had us over for dinner last week and said we can come over whenever we want. The problem was before we could only meet with them once a week so that they could both be at the lesson. But we are working with the Elders now and since the boy is home alone at night they will be able to just go over and teach him. The mom is home during the day so that is when we will go visit her. And then we, the sisters, will teach both mother and son at the usual once a week time. She also really wants her husband to meet us, but he doesn't come home until the evening usually (at which time she is gone), so hopefully the Elders will be able to work with him too. And they already have plans for coming to church again next Sunday! The son told his mom he loves it and wants to come back--and she feels the same. I was so proud of the ward--they really guanxied her and her son so well. I love our wards!

For RCLA work, this week our big success came when the Relief Society President when with us to visit a less active sister. They already knew each other, but it had been a long time since their last visit. However, it was like an instant friendship and the Relief Society President is excited to start visiting her regularly with other Sisters. I feel that really great goals were set and plans made in order to help this Sister come back to full activity in the Church. We will let you know how that goes!
My bike seat is still a little broken. It rides fine, but I might have to replace it in a few months. We have a few spare not so good ones around the apartment too, so I might just take on of those. But a new one is only like 400 kuai (I checked today) and that is like 12 dollars or something. So that is an idea? Other than that I really don't need anything. Handwritten letters? More primary children letters!!!! Sister Dalamas sent me some! I LOVE THEM!

Lastly, my studying--finished up Diligence!!! It is weird to think I have been here long enough to be finishing the attribute study this month...time has flown by. I have also been doing a lot of studying this week on gaining the Faith to Find. Elder Summerhays has been a great district leader to go Senior under! He gave my companion and I several scripture passages to study about this (D&C 60:2,7 and Alma 37:40-41), and it has helped a lot. I am really grateful for the wonderful zone and district leaders we have! They are excellent at supporting us and to see areas we can improve in. And our Mission President and his wife are excellent too :). We love them so much!

So excited to see Elder and Sister Gong at mission meeting this Thursday!! Sister Gong taught me Chinese my senior year of high school so it will be fun to see her again!

Love love love love and Happy Halloween!!

----Sister Brooke Smith

P.S. Tell Shawna I LOVED the novel she sent me!! Her letter was HUGE! And it kept me soo happy all week!!!!!