Monday, January 11, 2016

#11 A week of "ers"

Leihdeih hou!!!

I say every week is a good one, and it's no different this week. Tin Sau is an area full of miracles, and I fall more and more in love with the people here everyday. I am so grateful for the privilege I have to meet and teach these wonderful people!

Okay, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things about HK! Or at least in my little nook of Tin Sau.

-Hong Kongese are very honest people, almost all of the time. It actually makes missionary work really nice, because if they're really not interested in what you have to say, they'll straight-up tell you or walk away and you just move on with talking to other people. It also makes me glad I don't get offended very easily, because they'll tell you some pretty blunt things to you sometimes. They're definitely things people wouldn't tell you in America.... However, they're very kind, sincere people. 
- Anything from anywhere in the world you want to find, you could probably find in Hong Kong. People, restaurants/food, companies, anything really. It's one of the most international places in the world, and it's so fun to experience all kinds of different cultures here in the gateway to the Orient! It's pretty great.

So some amazing experiences for the week! So I have mentioned how much I LOVE English class before, but this week my love for it definitely increased! One way we talk to people is by inviting them to come to our free English class, and this week a ton of people showed up and loved it! We have a few teenage girls who really like the missionaries and English class, but are super skeptical about taking lessons with missionaries and coming to church because of all the weird things they've heard about our church from other people. However, we have one investigator named Jessica whom we've been meeting with for a while is 18 years old and LOVES English class! These girls asked her about what taking lessons were like and Jessica totally bore her testimony about how much meeting with missionaries has helped her and how much she's learned about God and the great friends she's made in our ward and encouraged them to take lessons. What?!?! She really wants to wait a year before she gets baptized, but she's already doing such awesome missionary work and progresses so much in our lessons. And a lot of those girls are in our proselyting area. So we're excited to meet with them this week!

So the title of my email comes from a thought I've had all week. As I have reflected on the last few weeks in Hong Kong, it's amazing how much I've been stretched and changed, all for the better. This last almost month has helped me understand a principle a good friend of mine taught me as a teenager. The Lord doesn't expect us to be perfect at keeping commandments or doing His will all at once. This life is a time for us to learn, grow, and become like Jesus Christ. It wouldn't be fair if the Lord gave us the impossible commandment to be perfect as Christ is in the state we are in on this Earth without any help. He doesn't expect us to be perfect, but he does expect us to progress and put forth our effort, and then be humble enough to allow the atonement of Jesus Christ to take care of the rest. This week I've seen a lot of progress in our church members, in our work in Tin Sau in our investigators, in our recent converts and less actives, and in myself in so many different ways, and I am so excited to see where this area will go compared to where it was.

I am so grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The restoration is evidence of God's love for everyone in all points in time, and I am so grateful I get to share the joy and love that comes from the restoration of Christ's gospel and His church on the Earth.

Keep doing hou yeh (good things), and I'll talk to y'all next week!  (And hopefully share more about Hong Kong with y'all. Sorry y'all, mouh sihgaan (no time))

Ga yauh!

Sister Leonard

#10 You Can't Have a Rainbow Without a Little Rain

Sanlihng Faailohk!! (Happy New Year!)

So my email this week is super short since I am running out of time. 

Working in Tin Shui Wai continues to be such a privilege and this week we found many potential people to teach. Our area is super tiny, but we are teaching so much and I am so amazed by how prepared this densely populated area is for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!!

Quick experience I want to share before I have to go:

So Wednesday and Thursday I seemed to be having one humbling experience after another (mostly with the language) that made me wonder when I was going to get any relief. Thursday night I prayed the hardest I think I have ever prayed that we would find people who are prepared and that I would have the courage to open my mouth, even when my language skills seemed less than adequate. The next day, we experienced so many miracles that helped me understand that sometimes the Lord knocks you down to your knees so you'll learn to rely on Him when times get hard.

I am so eternally grateful for the love our Savior has for each of His children. I am so humbled by the opportunity to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of the Tin Sau area and I know the Lord will continue to work miracles in this area as we rely on Him.

Love you all! Talk to you next week!!

Sister Leonard

Monday, December 28, 2015

#9 Lead Kindly Light

I don't even know where to start with this week. It was just full of miracles and encouragement I can't quite explain. I'll start with the fun stuff though!!

About two days before Christmas, we had a zone Christmas party, which was basically 10 sisters and a million elders. It was really fun though! We played games, ate good food, and then everyone from the mission office came and visited us! One of the office senior missionaries, Elder James, did these awesome animated story telling performance of The Grinch, costume and all! It was one of the best things I've ever seen. You could tell he's been doing it for years, he had all the Dr Suess ryhmes down and everything!

Christmas Eve was one of my favorite days ever since I've been in HK. We taught a couple lessons, one of them being Jessica! She's 18 years old and she's is exactly what I imagine a typical Chinese teenager to be like in the best way. We were teaching her about prophets and I could see her starting to stress out when we were talking about modern-day prophets. She believes in prophets from the Bible, but she doesn't understand why we need them now. After we explain why, you could tell something was still wrong. Towards the end, I expressed to her that it was okay if she didn't believe now and that we don't expect her to believe unless she receives confirmation from the Holy Ghost. We then invited her to sincerely pray about Thomas S. Monson and his purpose as a prophet, and she accepted! She is so awesome, and I love how curious and logical she is about everything! She asks such great questions and it's amazing to see her progress as she learns more about the church, and more importantly as she grows closer to her Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. Afterwards, then we went less active finding. Many of them weren't home, but we visited one member who is a seminary teacher and is so encouraging about me learning Cantonese and helps me so much!! She reminds me of many other amazing seminary teachers I've had over the years. Also, as we were walking to this members home, we walked through a park and it looked like there were three different dance parties going on with mostly popos (chinese old ladies). One group was doing traditional taichi, the second group was doing this modern-day pop dance, and I can't even adequately explain the third one. They were all so different, it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. Also, I was super exhausted at that point so it was even funnier to me at that time.

Christmas day was awesome!! I got to call my family, which was really fun! We taught a couple more lessons, and then we taught Yingmahn Baan (English Class) that evening! My comp and I taught the older class/people with more experience with English and it was so fun! It was this night that I met Becky. Now, I know I haven't been in HK for very long, but I highly doubt I will find a popo I love more than Becky. She is the sweetest person I have ever met, she's spunky, she goes to a lot of different kinds of classes because she loves to learn so much, she watches Ellen and America's Got Talent to learn English, and I don't know if I have met a person so cares so much about her family in my life. She's not interested in learning about the gospel right now, but she loves learning English and loves talking with sister missionaries! Teaching English class is probably one of my favorite parts of the week because you get to meet so many different kinds of people!

So earlier this week we taught Kary, who has met with missionaries before, lost interest, and then started showing interest again. We gave her a church tour and ended in front of the painting of Joseph Smith's First Vision. My comp then prompted me to talk about Joseph Smith's experience, where I found myself reciting Joseph Smith's First Vision in Cantonese for the first time to someone without messing up. The spirit was so strong and I bore my testimony about how I came to know this experience was true and how I came to know Joseph Smith was a prophet, and she wants to meet with us again! I hope she will continue to meet with us!

So earlier this week I was having a hard time with enjoying finding. No one was really wanting to talk to us or hear our message and approaching people is so out of my comfort zone. I don't know how many times I prayed in that 1 1/2 hour block we went finding that I would have a meaningful experience and find someone to talk to. The hymn "Lead Kindly Light" came to mind, specifically the words "The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on." Suddenly I was reminded that while the night is dark (it was really was at the time) and Hong Kong is pretty far away from Florida, the Lord is on my side. This is His work, and He will lead me to those prepared souls ready to hear the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Towards the end, I felt like I needed to talk to this guy at a bus station, and we found out he's a Christian, but doesn't really go to church anymore. We shared with him a simple message about the restoration, and gave him a pamphlet and went on our way. The hymn and that contact were such a tender mercy to me and reminded me that this is the Lord's work and that people will be found in His time.

I am so grateful to be in Hong Kong at this time. I am so grateful to serve in an awesome ward to is so welcoming! I was invited to bear my testimony during sacrament meeting yesterday, so I did so in my simple Cantonese and even shared my favorite scripture and as I did so, I felt my mouth be filled with words, which was such a blessing since my cantonese is so limited. I was even asked to play the piano in Relief Society on Sunday (anyone who knows me well enough knows my piano-playing skills are not that great) and the Lord helped me so much with that too. I am so grateful for such awesome and encouraging ward members who are so awesome and supportive as I struggle and labor through learning Cantonese.

Well, that's all I have time for this week. Next week I'll include stuff about HK culture, because that's a whole other email in of itself. I love you all and I hope you all have a great week!!


Sister Leonard/ Leuih Ji Muih/ Sister Thunder (that's what my ward mission leader calls me since the Chinese character I was given means "thunder")

Monday, December 14, 2015

#8 Enjoy to the End

Alright y'all, it's the final countdown. We got our travel plans on Friday evening, and I leave for Hong Kong early Monday morning. I couldn't be anymore excited, nervous, freaked-out, and all of the above about anything ever.

This week has been a busy, but good one! I got sick again. The MTC is like a petri dish, and once one person is sick, everyone around you gets sick. It's the worst. But I've still been productive and the Lord has helped me so much! Also, Nyquil. :)

Also, we got our new name badges today! It's in English and Cantonese side by side! My chinese character the mission office gave me means "thunder." Pretty much the coolest character ever. How fitting ;)

So we've been teaching members in Hong Kong over skype these last 3 weeks, and it has been such an awesome experience!! I can't wait to teach Hong Kongese in person! 

Also, over the last 2 weeks I have met 3 missionaries from MAINLAND CHINA. There aren't very many members in Mainland China, much less missionaries. But they just love the gospel so much and are so excited to go to their assigned mission areas. Also, I felt bad because they got really excited seeing our chinese missionary tags and started speaking to us in Mandarin, but we couldn't understand anything and explained we were learning Cantonese. Funniest part is that they tried to speak to my companion who was adopted from China, but knows hardly any Chinese and is the most Americanized person you'll probably meet. She felt really bad. I thought it was kinda funny though. :)

So I have had so much fear this week, which isn't a very good thing to have as a missionary. Once the reality set in that I will be teaching in Chinese in less than two weeks set in, I immediately wondered how I could do that. However, the Lord has commanded me to teach in Cantonese, and I know he wouldn't tell me to do anything I couldn't accomplish through Him, and that's what makes all the difference and gives me so much comfort. I know through Jesus Christ I will have the power to bring others unto Christ in Hong Kong as I speak my broken Cantonese. I am ready to work hard and enjoy my time out on the mission field. :)

I won't be able to email you for another two weeks since I leave early next Monday, but I love you all! Talk to y'all when I get to the Orient!

Sister Leonard

Me with our Sister Training Leaders, who just left for Cambodia and Washington State!

A final zone picture before 3 districts speaking Hmong and Cambodia left!
Celebrating Christmas early with the cute Christmas tree Sister Shiffert's (my comp.) mom sent!

​New zone picture at the Provo temple! We got a new district of Thai speaking missionaries in our zone. We just have Cantonese, Thai, and Laotian left in our zone. :)

Monday, November 30, 2015

#7 I Believe in Christ

Leihdeih hou!!

I cannot believe I have been here for 7 weeks! We get our flight plans to HK on Friday, and I could not be more excited! Earlier this week I started learning more words that will help me get around HK after realizing knowing how to say "God loves you" will not help me find the grocery store. 

So this week was pretty awesome! I've seen 6 people from SVU here at the MTC preparing to serve all over the world since I have been here! It's been really fun catching up with all of these people!

Teaching this week has been pretty great!! We continue to get better with teaching by the spirit. Funny story though! My companion said during a lesson the other day, "If you smell God, he will answer you." instead of "If you ask God, he will answer you." Just a tiny tone difference between smell and ask. Ahhh, tones. They're killer sometimes.

Thanksgiving at the MTC was pretty awesome! We started out with a devotional with Elder DALLIN H. OAKS. He's one of my favorite members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles! Not that you're really supposed to have favorites, but I always enjoy what he has to say, and this address was no different. One of my favorite parts was when he said "The standard of truth is a daily protection." It's so true! God never gives a commandment without promising a blessing. Never. He's so good to His children, and the power that comes from His commandments are evidence of that. I could go on and on about his address, but I'll just leave it at that. Elder Oaks also brought his family along, and his daughter, THE Jenny Oaks Baker, world-renowned violinist, performed for us!!! If you haven't seen her and Condolezza Rice perform "Amazing Grace" together on youtube, GO WATCH IT NOW. Powerful stuff! Anyways, she performed with her amazingly talented children and their performance was so moving!

We also participated in a humanitarian project where we put together meals that will feed thousands of hungry children! It was a really awesome experience to work with these missionaries doing something greater than myself.

I also found out that I was selected for a 40-50 -person choir for an ecclesiastical Christmas Program the MTC is putting together! The music is simple, but powerful. Just as most Christmas music is. I am so just grateful for the opportunity to sing with such talented missionaries from all over the world!!! We also get to work with Ryan Eggett, who directs 6 choirs around Utah and sometimes directs the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He's so talented, and I am really excited to work with him!!

Okay, I just wanted to share an experience I had last night at the Devotional, which probably goes qualifies for top-5 most spiritual experiences I've had in my life. So the District President at the MTC, Gary Hutchins, shared his experience when he went to Jerusalem and bore his testimony of the reality of the life of Jesus Christ. I have never felt so much peace and confirmation fill my heart and soul of something so simply profound in my life. Afterwards, we sang, "I Believe in Christ" and between the message that was just shared, a missionary initiating everyone standing during the hymn, the quality of voices surrounding me, the quality of missionaries around me, and the organist killing it on the organ, I was almost brought to tears of how powerful of a gift knowing that Christ lives and knowing what that means to me.

I would invite all of you to study and reflect on the reality of Christ's life this week. What does the ministry of Christ mean to you? What does His sacrifice mean to you? As you reflect on these things, pray about them with "all the energy of heart" you can, with real intent to know and feel for yourself what this means to you. Do this, and I promise you will receive a feeling and a witness unlike any other, because Christ wants you to know that He loves you and He wants you to come closer to Him.

I love you all!! Have a great week!!

Sister Leonard

​Our Cantonese District, some of the missionaries learning Thai, and some of the missionaries learning Hmong (who just left today) at the Provo Temple!

​On our way back from the Provo Temple this morning! It's been snowing here for a couple days now

​My cute companion and I yesterday on our temple walk!

​Happy Thanksgiving in Cantonese with my cute tuhngbuhn (companion)!

My District on Thanksgiving with Christmas lights! (Minus Sister Curtis)

Monday, November 23, 2015

#6 Trained to Love

Leihdeih hou!!!

So this week was SO good, as always! A mission is so hard, and I have plenty of hard, rough times that I won't talk about. But I will say this much -- anything can be made right though the atonement of Christ. ANYTHING. All of the hard times I've had have molded me into a much better missionary, leader-servant, and person. All it takes is making the decision to follow Him and turn those thoughts into action! There's a quote I like a lot that says "Pray like everything depends on God, work like everything depends on you." SO true! God can't keep His end of the deal if we aren't keeping ours, and we always get the better end of the deal!

Okay, so some fun things that happened this week!

- So we found out this week that we not only have one celebrity in our midst, but two! So Elder Love, the shorter elder in our group with darker hair, was a part of an LDS music group called "Beyond Five." He's really talented! Y'all should go look him up! Also, one of our teachers, Si Hingdaih, lived in South Korea for a good portion of his life and was on a TV show there! We still haven't gotten full details on that one though. Still pretty cool though!

-Our investigators are doing really great! Funny story!!! So we were teaching Douh HD and we had a full lesson to teach him about the restoration. Well, he got really curious about what we were doing in Hong Kong and why we were there and how all of that worked. So we answered all of his questions and then he started asking us about our Cantonese and he said it was good for  how little time we've started learning it. And then all of the sudden, out of no where, with no idea where I was going with this, I asked him "Do you speak any English??" (In Cantonese, of course). He said no, he never had the opportunity to, although he has wanted to in the past. I then told him we offer an English class and we really wanted him to come! He thought it would be too hard, but we reassured him we would help him learning English! Our mission in HK actually offers free English classes weekly, but I guess missionaries in the MTC never think about that though, which was pretty cool that I received that prompting to ask him about English! He's been a lot more receptive to our message since then, which has been pretty awesome!!!

- On Saturdays we share messages with members in Provo who speak Cantonese, and it is a really awesome opportunity to practice our Cantonese and practice teaching people, not just lessons. Two Saturdays ago, we taught an lady about missionary work and she is a convert from Hong Kong who has live in Provo for a really long time, but is one of 3 members in her family. She shared with us "it's easy to share the gospel with strangers, hard to share it with your friends, and even harder to share it with your family." and she really appreciated our testimonies of encouragement to find opportunities to share the gospel that makes us so happy! Tonight we teach members in Hong Kong over skype, and I am so excited to teach these members!!

- So every Sunday we have to prepare messages/talks to share during sacrament meeting on Sundays with our zone, but we never know when we are speaking until the branch president calls us up. Guess who got called up? Yours truly. It was on one of the favorite topics, which is enduring to the end. Such an awesome opportunity!!

Okay, just a quick though before I need to go! So I have been studying charity this week, and our choir director, Ryan Eggett (who I guess directs the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sometimes), shared a thought from Pres. Monson that has really stuck with me all week. The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ isn't going to church, or having a really awesome calling, or making your lessons perfect, or about putting on a front that makes you look good and like you're living the gospel. The essence of the gospel is love. It's about doing the things that will help you have the Holy Ghost with you to guide you to those people who need the love of Christ, and more times than not, it is through His servants who heed the call of the spirit. It's about choosing to have enough faith to love someone even when they make themselves not very lovable. Everything we do should train us to love as Christ did. It is because of the love that Christ showed through His whole ministry, in His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane for each individual personally, and on the Cross of Calvary that makes it possible for us to return home to our Heavenly Father. But we can only do that through charity, which is the pure love of Christ. 

I would invite everyone to read 1 Corinthians 13 and to accept the invitation in Moroni 7:48 to pray with all the energy of your heart to be filled with this love. We cannot become anything without Charity, and as you share the pure love of Christ with others, you become purified yourself.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission! I love my teachers so much for the sacrifice, willingness, patience, encouragement and love they have for us as missionaries. I cannot wait to go to Hong Kong in 3 weeks to share to love of Christ with others! And I am especially grateful for this time I have to learn how to love others as Christ did. I am not on a mission to learn Cantonese, or to go to Hong Kong. I am on a mission to spread the good news of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, that we have a living prophet who guides Christ's church, that we can receive revelation that will help us become more like Him, that this gospel allows families to be together forever, and the share the love of Christ that comes through the principles of His gospel.

I love you guys!! Have a great week!!!

Sister Leonard/ Leiuh Ji Muih

PS the picture is of my district with our teacher, Kuok Ji Muih, who is from Macau studying at BYU and served her mission in Hawaii! Also, have I mentioned how much I love my district? They're seriously the best. Okay, now that's all. :)

#5 God Loved Us, So He Gave Us Pigs

November 16 2015

Leihdeih hou!!!

Well, I hit the half-way point of my time at the MTC on Saturday! It is so crazy to think about how much I still have to learn, but as I reflect on the time I have been here, I am so amazed at how much I have learned! If me knowing as much Cantonese as I do in this amount of time isn't evidence that there is a God, I don't know what is! :)

Anyways, I am short on time again this week, so I'll just share a few of the highlights from my week!

You are probably all wondering what my subject means, so I'll start with that! So "Jyu" with a mid-rising tone means "Lord". But Jyu with a high-flat tone means "pig." I was trying to say something real quick in Cantonese, but I used the wrong tone for Jyu, and my teacher kindly explained to me that I said "pig" instead of "Lord." Kind of embarrassing, but I didn't feel so bad when I shared this story with the other Canto district and one companionship told me in a lesson, they told their investigator (unintentionally of course), "God loves us, so he gave us pigs." I'm sure all you bacon enthusiasts out there would agree with this statement, but it isn't super relevant to teaching others about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. So that was a great moment of the week!

Our mouhdouhjes' (investigators) are doing great too!! We committed Douh Hingdaih to be baptized, which took a long time, but it was such a good experience with us because it really helped him understand the importance of being baptized by the proper priesthood authority. Our lessons are getting so much better as we strive to allow the Holy Ghost to work in us and meet the needs of those we teach. We teach 8 lessons this week instead of our usual 4-5. So that's exciting! Also exhausting.

So Elder Hugo Montoya of the 70 came to the MTC this last week to speak to us! He spoke at General Conf this last Oct and you probably saw the memes floating around with The Princess Bride references and his picture. Well, before he started his talk, he made reference to this meme and shared a story about how his great-grandfather in Mexico was killed because he was a Mormon. It was one of the greatest things ever! Who knew a Princess Bride reference could be so relevant? Not me. Anyways, he shared a really awesome message about missionary work! He shared a story about a missionary who didn't have enough support or money to finish his mission. In a journal entry, this missionary said "...But I must stay and do something of worth." And he stayed and continued to bless the lives in the area he was serving in! What a great attitude to have towards missionary work! Missions are so hard, but he knew that the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ meant more to him than any trial he is going through. I hope to have this same attitude as I serve my mission and do something of worth in every area I am in.

I am out of time, but I hope you all have a great week!! I love you all, and I hope you understand and recognize the importance of the Lord's hand in your life! This week has been my hardest week yet, but as I have recognized all the times the Lord has had His hand in my life, I can't help but feel so much gratitude for the opportunity I have to shared the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Hong Kong and help them increase their faith in a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for them and a loving Savior & Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who died and atoned for our sins so we could return home to our Heavenly Father. There are a lot of other things I can give up, but my mission and my testimony of this gospel are not any of them.

Love y'all!

Sister Leonard

I don't have many pictures to share this week, so here's one from the second week!  Our main Cantonese teacher, Jong Hinghaih, is in the middle of the two elders in our district.

It forreal snowed today in Provo!  This is me and a few of the sisters in our district walking home in the snow from the temple this morning!

My roommates and I with our old Sister Training Leaders in our zone who left for Thailand last week!