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!

Monday, November 9, 2015

#4 Wong Chihn Chong, Syut, and other Gwongdungwa Houyeh

Leihdeih hou!!

So the title of my email translates to "Carry On, Snow, and Other Cantonese Good Stuff." I don't have much time to write this week, so my email will be shorter this week, but I want share some fun things about my week here at the MTC!

So my district has 7 sisters and 2 elders, and they are the BEST! They are so much fun to be around, and we are all so different, but our purpose and goals are what bring us together and it has been so fun to get to know them and work with them!

My zone is made up of now 8 districts, since one of the Thai districts left just this morning. In my district, we have missionaries learning to speak Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Thai, and Vietnamese! One of my roommates calls our zone "The Zone of Obscure SE Asian Languages." And it's so true! I love being in a zone where we are going to all kinds of different places in the world where you couldn't even imagine the gospel having a presence in. But nonetheless, the Lord's work keeps rolling forward and to more and more nations. It's so awesome!!!

Okay, some fun facts about Gwongdungwa (Cantonese)!

1. So "kaisih" means revelation. But "keisih" with a slightly different tone means racism. It actually slightly terrifies me that I could unintentionally tell someone "If you come to church, you will receive racism." So I pay extra special attention to that word.

2. So we sang a hymn earlier this week called "Carry On." Here in the MTC, we sing in our mission language, so "Carry On" translates over to "Wong Chihn Chong," which is about the most stereotypical Chinese thing you'll hear in Cantonese. Anyways, while we were singing it, we were getting all the words wrong and we started laughing because of how horribly we were singing it, and then once we got to "wong chihn chong," we all just about died. Way to bring the spirit to our classroom, right? I love Cantonese.

3. So "yauh" means to have, and if you put "jo" at the end of a few verbs, you can make it past tense. Well, if you but "yauhjo" together with the same tones, it actually means pregnancy. It's a good thing we learned that now instead of in the field, because that would be a very confusing lesson talking about Jesus Christ and His Gospel and pregnancy.

4. Cantonese has 6 tones, while Mandarin only has 4. It's hard remembering the right tones sometimes, but you don't have to conjugate anything in Cantonese, so I'll take that over conjugating anytime.

Okay, so it snowed this week! It didn't stick, but this Floridian thought it was pretty cool. Also, there's a girl from Burma in the Thai district that just left that had never seen snow before and probably never would have the chance again, so her district was praying so hard for snow and it came just a few days before they left for Thailand! She was SO cute when she saw the snow!

Our teaching skills are coming along too! My companion and I can teach lessons almost entirely without reading anything! Our sentences are simple, but we are able to teach more from the heart, and that is the most important thing about missionary lessons! I just love how familiar this language feels to me! It's so hard and it doesn't necessarily come naturally to me, but it feels so familiar to me and the Lord constantly reminds me when I get down on myself about not learning the language as quickly as I want to or about not understanding things that he wants me to go to HK to teach people the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that he wants me to work hard in learning Cantonese and if I do, the atonement of Jesus Christ will make up for the rest. It's been such an awesome experience teaching our investigators and seeing the Lord' s hand in those lessons, even if the teachers playing the investigators like to make it harder for us. But I guess that's their job.... Hahahaha! But as I put my trust on and total focus in the Lord, the language comes so much quicker and that is such a blessing!!

Anyways, that's all I have time for this week. I love you all!! Keep doing houyeh (good stuff) and remember how much the Savior loves you and how desperately he wants you to come closer to Him.

Until next week,

Sister Leonard/ Leiuh Ji Muih

​Stripey Tuesday with the sisters of our zone!

#3 No Room For Fear!

Hello friends and family!!

Just to give you guys a fair warning, I am about to write a novel about my week. It was SO GOOD.

Another week at the MTC has gone by, and it feels like just yesterday I was sending another email home! On a mission, conception of time is really weird! The days are long and the weeks are short. I feel like my head is constantly expanding with more and more Cantonese, but I love coming back to the residence every night feeling mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. It's the best kind of exhausted to be!!

So one of my best friends told me before I left on the mission that there are three types of days on the mission: good days, great days, and amazing days. I got to experience all three this week!

Okay, so an update on my health!! I kept waiting for my sore throat to go away, but it wasn't until I had to leave class an hour early because I was in such terrible pain that I finally got an appointment at the health clinic. I don't remember what exactly I had, the name is kind of long, but I had some kind of viral respiratory infection. So the doctor told me what medicine to take and I am now okay! It's amazing how less irritating learning a six tone language like Cantonese is when you can finally talk and practice it out loud! Imagine that.

On Tuesday a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came and spoke to us at the MTC! In the LDS world, that's a pretty big deal! We got to hear Elder Neil L. Andersen speak to us, and it was amazing as we were singing a prelude hymn, The Lord Is My Light, he walked in and we stood up and the spirit filled the room to the very top! I know Elder Neil L. Andersen is truly an Apostle of God and is a witness of Jesus Christ. He talked about sacrifice, opposition, the adversary, and deliverance and how they relate on a mission. My favorite quote from him was "we are not yet what we can be, but we are enough." The power and authority I've been given as a missionary is so great that there are times where I feel so inadequate to bear this cross. But as I understand God is not yet finished with me and he is molding me into who He needs me to be as a missionary, I am filled with so much hope and faith for my future and for my commission as a missionary.

Sister Shiffert and I have started connecting a lot more as a companionship too as we strive to be more obedient and to plan our lessons with the Holy Ghost. And this has made for some amazing lessons that I am really excited to share with you guys!! So we got two new investigators this week, Douh Singsaam and Cici Ji Muih. It's been quite the week teaching them. We had the most amazing first lesson with Cici! She had a lot of really great questions as we taught her what we felt like she needed to know and we committed her to baptism the very first lesson!! It was kind of scary actually, but my companion and I walked out of that lesson feeling like we could baptize the rest of China. The next lesson we had with her we found out she had been struggling with reading the Book of Mormon because of pressure from her husband not to read it. But she still likes our messages and still wants to be baptized! We pray a lot for her that she will be able to overcome this obstacle with her husband, that his heart will soften and that he will have the desire to come closer to Christ. Our other investigator has been quite a struggle. He is an old man who doesn't open up much. He mumbles a lot and doesn't open up much, which isn't a good combination for two sisters who have two weeks of Cantonese under their belt. But he loves hearing our testimonies and always invites us to come back, so I guess we are doing something right!

We also got to host new missionaries on Wednesday and help them get everything they needed for their time here at the MTC! I got to host 6 sister missionaries, and it was really fun to see all the different places these sisters are going and how excited they are to serve the Lord! I love the gospel, I love being a missionary, and I love the MTC, and I got to share all three of those loves that day!!

So here at the MTC, we had our own fun for Halloween! I "dressed up" as Ariel from The Little Mermaid and my companion "dressed up" as Flounder from the Little Mermaid! Also, since our whole district met our language goals, we had a party during additional study time where we ate caramel popcorn with chopsticks and ate candy and watched Mormon Messages. I love my district!! They are seriously the best, and we laugh and learn so much with each other.

We also had a TRC Saturday morning, which was where we basically share messages with members of the church in the area who speaks Cantonese. It was really helpful to get insights as to how I can improve my language and teaching skills!

So every fast Sunday, we have mission conference here at the MTC! The whole theme of mission conference was families! I loved all of the messages shared and my testimonies of families was strengthened so much. I know for a fact that families are ordained of God and that families were designed to help individuals learn gospel principles and grow in the gospel. I know the traditional family isn't something that is ideal for everyone and the world doesn't see the true value of the traditional family, but I know that those who are faithful in the gospel of Jesus Christ and come closer to Jesus Christ will receive the blessing of an eternal marriage and family. I would invite all of you to pray about this, because family is that important.

It was also awesome for me to feel the power that I have as a missionary to bring families together. President Burgess shared that the Lord will use every part of us to bring families together, the good things and my shortcomings. As I prepare myself for the individuals and families that are prepared for me to teach the gospel to, I feel so much love and joy for these families and for how much the gospel will bless their lives.

The devotional last night was also really awesome!! He talked more about families and how the gospel of Jesus Christ can not only bless families, but HEAL family relationships. Christ died for that too, and as you allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to heal you and broken family relationships, you WILL be blessed!! He also shared that the most important work I will do in the life will be after my mission when I have the opportunity to be sealed in the temple and have my own family. This isn't me getting trunkie (a missionary term used to describe those who are looking forward to everything they will get to do when they get off the mission), but I know that this is true, that not just having a family, but building STRONG families are the most important on this Earth. I hope all of you never loose sight of that. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary!! It brings me immeasurable joy knowing that my strengths and weaknesses will bring people and families closer to Christ. The title for my email comes from a thought a sweet sister in my district shared yesterday. She said "When you have total faith in Christ, there is no room for fear." It is so true! As I have come to know Christ and of His love for me as well as His children, I have been filled with faith that He will use me to fulfill HIS work here on the work, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Because I know in whom I have trusted, I have no fear of anything except offending God or doing that which is contrary to His will.

I love you guys so much!! Keep doing everything you can to bring yourself closer to Christ! No words can explain how much joy I feel as I have come closer to Christ. I love this gospel. I love the Lord, and I love being a missionary.

Keep the Dear Elders and emails coming!! Love you all!!!!!!

Sister Leonard
Sister Shiffert and I always go into this random classroom on our floor for companionship study and we were so cold, we hung out by the heater. Utah.....

So "hou" in Cantonese means "good," so we have this Christmas Cantonese inside joke about it and someone in our class drew this on the board. 

Halloween: Can you guess what we all dressed up as? :)

#2 "If the Lord Commanded Me To Do All Things I Could Do Them"

Leih hou!!!

I am still loving the MTC! I am constantly learning and growing, and it's the best! It's really hard, but I love it! Utah isn't as cold as I thought it would be right now, but I am probably speaking too soon. The colors of fall are so beautiful here, especially with the mountains in the background. 

Well, it happened you guys. I got sick. Since Tuesday night I have had a rough cold and since Thursdays I have had a sore throat and basically no voice. I have had a really raspy/no voice for 4 days now. Needless to say, speaking a language with 6 tones and new sounds is pretty rough. But despite how awful I have felt, I have felt so many tender mercies from the Lord this week! Just to name a few, we were able to commit Joe to baptism this week (that one took a long time, but when we finally got to what was keeping him from baptism and invited him again, he accepted! BEST FEELING EVER.) and I lost my voice completely after our very last lesson with Joe. MIRACLE. Also, I have still been able to learn so much Cantonese that I ever did before. Again, MIRACLE. And I only had to skip gym time once and I have been able to keep up with the super demanding schedule of a missionary at the MTC. MIRACLE. Also, my companion is so sweet and she is really patient with me and my being sick. She's helped me and strengthened me so much! MIRACLE. I think you guys get the picture. The Lord really wants to me to learn Cantonese, and he's definitely provided a way for me to still be productive no matter how awful I feel.

Speaking of Joe though, Joe isn't actually Joe. He is now Si Hingdaih, who is now one of our MTC teachers. What the heck?! Our district felt a little betrayed that this man we put so much thought and prayer into is actually a tri-lingual, spiritual giant! It's all good though, he's a great teacher and got home from his mission in Hong Kong in May, and I've been learning so much from him! We now have 3 Canto teachers, and they're all so gifted and they help me so much with learning the language!!

We also have at least 4 lessons with 2 new investigators this week in Cantonese, which I am really looking forward to and am totally terrified at the same time. I am really excited to meet them though! My companion and I are feeling really good about these next few lessons coming up.

Also, on our walk to the temple Sunday, Sister Adams and I met up with Elder Chantz Yazzie, who left for Turkey today! It was so fun to catch up and talk about the good ol' Yokota times and see where everyone's at and how far we've come from middle school/high school. Time is a funny thing.

Okay, just a few thoughts I wanted to share with y'all!!

In my scripture study this week, I came across a scripture in the Book of Mormon that really helped me overcome my trials for the week. In 2 Nephi 17:50 it says,

"And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done."

This is at a time when Nephi is being criticized pretty harshly by his brothers for trying to build a boat that would take them across an ocean after the Lord commanded him to do so. And he was still able to accomplish what the Lord asked him to do!! The Lord will never give us a commandment He will not prepare a way for us to follow. My life has not gotten any easier being on a mission. I've been sick for a good portion of my time here, learning Cantonese is hard, and being exactly obedient is harder than I thought it would be. But when we pray meaningfully to the Lord through holy communication and consecrated work, we can do all things the Lord asks us to do.

Also, our MTC choir director shared a really interesting thought last night. To be a really great anything, one must be focused on their purpose. To do that, we need to do the things that will help us keep focused on fulfilling our purpose and get rid of the distractions that would keep us from doing so. Chuuyngaausih muhkdik, which is Missionary Purpose in Cantonese, were the first two words in Canto that really stuck in my brain, and I know that's not a coincidence. I am so grateful to be in a place like the Provo MTC where I am surrounded by people with the same purpose as me and how much strength, love, and revelation I've received from the Lord on how I can keep my focus so I can be the best/most consecrated missionary the Lord needs me to be.

I love you all!! Have a fantastic week! Keep doing the things that will help you fulfill your purpose in life, whatever it may be.

All my love,

Sister Leonard 

PS If you want to send a Dear Elder, which is a website that allows you to send typed-out letters FOR FREE to me here at the PROVO MTC, my information is on my blog at sisterleonardinhongkong.blogspot,com. I would love to hear from all of you! Also, shoot me your address if you'd like a letter from me!

With Sister Adams and Brother Yazzie!

#1 The Power and Happiness That Comes From a Name Tag

Leih hou!! Leihdeih hou ma?? (Hello! How're you all doing?)

Ahh where do I even start?! I LOVE the MTC! There really is such a spirit unlike any other on this campus. I am learning so much here, and it's only been 5 days!!

First off, thanks to the Adams family for letting me stay with them once I arrived to Utah! Such a blessing to have such a great family take great care of me! And it's been awesome hanging out with Sister Adams! (It's been a struggle trying to call her that and not Mindy. Especially since we're in the same district learning Canto and we see each other ALL. THE. TIME. It's so fun!!!)

Anyways, there are two districts of Canto speakers that arrived and all of the old Canto missionaries going to HK left earlier this morning. They were such a great group though! Kind of rambunctious considering there were about 18 elders and 2 sisters. You could tell they were ready to leave the MTC. Hahahaha!

So my district has 7 sisters and 2 elders (the only elders learning Canto right now I might add. They probably feel like they are drowning in estrogen. Hahaha!) We've got a wide variety of people in our district, but we are all so close! They're so much fun, and I enjoy learning Cantonese with them!

My companion is Sister Shiffert! She's adopted from China and all of her other sibling were adopted from China and Kazahstan, which is so awesome! We have similar personalities, but different interests, so we don't get bored with each other. She's so sweet and I am excited about all the things I've already learned from her and will continue to learn from her. We make a really solid companionship too and we work really well together. We're also directionally challenged, so we get lost at the MTC together all the time. So that's fun. Hahaha!

The first day at the MTC was overwhelming to say the least. Once we got to our classroom, we were given Chinese names and everyone's except for mine was relatively simple. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to finally pronounce it correctly. And then I had to be reminded how to pronounce it again multiple times. My Chinese name is Leiuh Ji Muih (except the tone that's used makes me sound like a man.....). Yeah, I know.

Anyways, I LOVE learning Cantonese! WAY more than I thought I would! The sounds and tones are very hard, but I enjoy learning Cantonese with my district. They also help with my singing voice! I'm thinking my parents shouldn't have invested in voice lessons growing up and should have had me learn Cantonese instead. A two-in-one kind of deal. Hahahaha! Our teacher, Jong Hingdaih, is awesome too!! He is the most experienced Canto teacher in the MTC and he's very patient with me. He only speaks Cantonese with us too, even when he's teaching us. But the gift of tongues is SO real, I've been able to grasp what he's teaching us. Some of the words are similar to Japanese too, so that's helpful! 

We taught our first lesson on Friday! All in Cantonese too. Our mouhdouhjeh's (investigator's) name is Joe. He went to Catholic school when he was younger and used to know Christ, but he doesn't really have a relationship with him anymore. His dad died when he was 5, his mom has cancer and Joe works to pay for the medical bills, and his older sister went away. So he has a lot of problems with his family, but he wants a better life. We've taught him two lessons so far and he's progressed SO much with us! We've made a lot of mistakes as we've been teaching him, but we've been able to not only be prepared with a lesson, but we've been able to teach with the spirit and that has seriously made all the difference. During our second lesson, I read Joseph Smith's first vision (if you haven't read it, READ IT!) to him in Cantonese and I totally thought I had butchered the sounds and tones on everything. But when I finished, his eyes were all read and touched his heart and said a sentence with the word seungseun (believe), which I had just learned the night before and basically said that he believed what we were telling him!! He then touched his heart and said he was feeling something (again, gift of tongues is REAL.). When we told him it was the Holy Ghost (Singling), he had a confused look on his face and asked him a question, but we couldn't understand him. So he then drew a picture of a ghost and asked if that was inside him. We laughed and explained to him what it was and he understood our (probably broken) Cantonese. He always has lots of great questions!! We are teaching him again tonight the Plan of Salvation and hope to commit him to baptism!

I just wanted to share a few spiritual thoughts I had over the week before my emailing time comes to a close.

Doubt will always drive the spirit away. Always. When I first started learning Cantonese, all of my Japanese came back and I even found myself having conversations in Japanese with some of the elders in the dining hall during meals. It made me SO jealous of the missionaries called to Japan and I found myself wondering why I couldn't have been called there too. One night while I was praying, I found myself repenting for doubting my language assignment and praying for the spirit to be with me. What the heck?! I didn't even know that was something I needed to repent for! Nonetheless, the words came out of my mouth and I pondered over them for a few days. One day when our teacher, Jong Hingdaih, was ending his class, he bore his testimony (in Cantonese, of course), that he knew that we weren't meant to go to Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, or anywhere else. He knew that our Heavenly Father wants and needs us in Hong Kong because there are people the Lord needs us to bring the gospel to. He loves us and wouldn't have asked us to learn Cantonese and go to HK if he wasn't going to prepare a way for us to do so. 

Since I have pushed the doubt I had in my mind away and replaced it with faith, I have been able to retain so much more Gwongdungwah (Cantonese) than I was able to before. I can now pray, bear my testimony, and understand quite a bit of Cantonese, and it has only been 5 DAYS. If that's not God helping me, I don't know who is. I absolutely know that the Lord is blessing me everyday to learn and understand Cantonese. Sitting in class for along periods of time is really hard, but I have been able to learn SO much about what God can do through me, and I can't wait for the other miracles the Lord will perform through me.

Also, during our Sunday Devotional w/ Chad Lewis (former BYU and Phil. Eagles football player), he shared a quote from Elder Bednar that applies to so much to me that I wanted to share real quick:

"God must really love Chinese people because He made so many of them!!"

The field is SO white in China, you guys. I feel so much love and compassion for the people of Hong Kong and I am reassured everyday that I am exactly where I need to be doing exactly what I need to be doing. I love China, I love the MTC, I love to be obedient to the mission rules (again, miracles happen when you're obedient!!! Whole other topic though.), I love the power and happiness that comes from my missionary name tag, and most of all, I love the Savior, Jesus Christ, and the power that I can receive from on high because of His atoning sacrifice

Ngoi leihdeih!!!! (I love you all!!) Have a fantastic week and remember that Christ loves YOU.

Sister Leonard/ Leiuh Ji Muih)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Choices of the Chosen (Another Farewell Talk)

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who came to hear me give my farewell talk and came to my open house last night! I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends and ward families in the Vanderbilt Beach Ward, as well as in the Estero YSA branch. Thank you all for your kind words of love and encouragement.

For those of you who couldn't make it, here is a copy of my farewell talk! Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The topic I have been given to speak on is the phrase “many are called, but few are chosen,” which comes from a scripture in D&C 121:34, which is actually part of a scripture mastery from the seminary program, which is an early morning class LDS high school students have the opportunity to participate in.
My freshman year of high school, the standard work we studied in seminary was Doctrine and Covenants, which is book of scripture that contains revelations from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith and to a few other latter-day prophets. When I got to memorizing this scripture mastery and I read the words “many are called, but few are chosen,” my 14-year-old mind immediately related this scripture to Harry Potter and how he is referred to as the “chosen one” in the last couple books of the series. I deem Harry Potter as one of my childhood literary heroes and despite the fictional nature of this book series, I viewed, and still view, Harry Potter as the kind of character worth having aspirations to be like.
While Harry Potter’s mother saving his life from the dark lord as an infant and a prophecy from one of his professors contributed to Harry Potter’s status as “The Chosen One,” I would claim the biggest factor in Harry Potter’s status as “The Chosen One” was in the choices he made leading up to his final batter with the dark lord. He was by no means perfect, but Harry Potter was kind, he was humble (most of the time), he knew the right sources to turn to when he had questions, from a young age he showed a pattern of picking good friends, he had a good sense of what was right and what was wrong, he was courageous, and he was a noble servant of a righteous cause.

While I could go on and on picking apart symbolisms, analyzing the great qualities of the characters in this series, and making parallels between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Harry Potter series, I’ll keep my comparison short. Just like Harry Potter, we all have dark forces we battle against on a daily basis and we fight these forces through the choices we make.

Elder David A. Bednar said: “When the scriptures say that “many are called, but few are chosen” (D&C 121:40), I believe that obedience and faithfulness are what cause those who are “called” to become “chosen.” Many are called, but few are faithful and obedient. God says to Abraham that he was one of the great and noble ones because of his obedience before he was born (see Alma 13:3).
To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen. Please now note the use of the word chosen in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants:
“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” (D&C 121:34–35; emphasis added).
I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.”

Establishing that our personal “chosen” status is determined based on our actions, I want to propose the crowning choices we have made and can make that will count us as one of God’s chosen.
1. Our choice to follow the Savior’s plan, gain a body, and experience mortality.

In the pre-mortal existence, Christ presented a plan that would allow us to choose exaltation while experiencing mortality. We know we accepted Christ’s plan in the pre-existence because we are experiencing mortality right now. Part of the plan was gaining a body, having our own agency and being accountable for our actions. When we make good choices, God blesses us. When we make bad choices, the Holy Ghost cannot dwell within us and we miss out on blessings. When we see mortality through the lens of the plan of salvation, it makes sense that while there were many noble spirits in the pre-existence that have the potential to be noble in mortality, many people have lost touch with the divine worth they have in the sight of God.

Someone once told me, “there is great power in knowing who you are and where you came from.” This rings true in our own lives. When we understand that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (including our own), that we come from a divine heritage stemming from a literal Father in Heaven who has power to do all things on Earth and in Heaven, this will help us understand the potential we have to become like our Heavenly Father and one day dwell with Him.
2. Our choice to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ
Decades after Christ’s Resurrection, the people grew wicked and killed Christ’s apostles and corrupted the teachings of Christ, which led to the priesthood being taken off the Earth. However, Ephesians 1:10 says “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in Earth, even in him:” As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that the dispensation of the fulness of times began when the priesthood was restored to the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith in the 1800s.
The restoration of Christ’s church is one way that our Heavenly Father shows us that he loves us, and he wants everyone to have the opportunity to hear the restored gospel, but more importantly he wants us to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once we have prayed to our Heavenly Father with a sincere heart and with real intent if the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is restored to the Earth, the most basic way we make the choice to accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is through demonstrating faith in Jesus Christ by being baptized by one holding that proper priesthood authority found in Christ’s true church by immersion in water for a remission of our sins and by receiving the gift of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

3. Our choice to work towards strengthening our relationship and our testimony of Jesus Christ
Whether we were born in the church or we are a convert, there comes a time in everyone’s life where we make the choice to follow Christ and accept the gospel or to follow a different path. This choice is made through whatever we are doing to strengthen our testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, or the lack thereof. The things we do to strengthen our testimony of the Savior are pretty small, basic things that we’ve been told to do over and over again, like saying our prayers day and night, reading our scriptures daily, attending church each Sunday, paying tithing, etc. However, it’s amazing just how much of a difference these small things make in our daily lives. When we stop doing these things, we can gradually lose that very important connection we need to have with the Holy Ghost to make good and important decisions.
Some of you may have a testimony that isn’t very strong and some of you may have a testimony that can withstand most any storm that the philosophies of the world throw your way that are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter where your testimony is, I would invite all of you to evaluate where your testimony is right now and where your relationship with the Savior is and decide what you need to do to continue to strengthen it. Gaining a testimony isn’t a one-time deal. We need to consistently nourish the testimony we’ve gained so it can continue to grow. Satan doesn’t necessarily need to get us to do bad things to weaken our testimony. He just needs to get us to change our priorities so something, anything really, becomes more important than the things that will help us strengthen our relationship with the Savior. That is why it is so important to do those little simple things in the gospel that will allow our testimonies to take strong root and grow.

4. The choice to utilize the atonement of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world to suffer, bleed and die in behalf of the sins of the world. It was the greatest act of love recorded in history. He died so we could have a way to return home to our Heavenly Father. Making the choice to utilize the atonement is so crucial to our salvation. We cannot return to our Heavenly Father any other way than through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
We can utilize the atonement in three different ways. We can use the atonement to heal us when we sin, when others hurt us, or when trials come upon us that weren’t necessarily directly anyone’s fault. It is necessary for us to use the atonement to heal ourselves in all three situations because it helps us draw closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He loves us so much that he died for everyone, not just a list of his favorites, and in turn wants us to use the atonement to draw closer to Him because that is what will bring us exaltation in the next life to come.

5. The choice to make and keep sacred covenants with the Lord
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have many opportunities to make covenants with the Lord that allow us to show our devotion to Him and stay on track on our path through eternal progression. It also allows the Lord to bless our lives more richly than he could before. These covenants include baptism, priesthood ordinations, receiving an endowment in the temple, and being sealed to your spouse and children in the temple for time and eternity. Making the choice to make these crucial covenants with the Lord allow us to work towards being marked as one of God’s chosen. But we cannot simply just make covenants and expect the Lord to bless us if we do not continue to keep these covenants.
D&C 82:10 reads, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” The Lord will bless us when we make choices that allow us to fulfill the end of the covenant that we’ve made. As we do so, the power from on high that comes from keeping these sacred covenants we’ve made with the Lord will bless our lives in more ways that we realize.
6. The choice to accept the Lord’s will and His timing
The Lord has a great reward in store for those willing to keep His commandments and endure to the end. However, keeping His commandments and enduring to the end can sometimes seem like an impossible task, and sometimes it feels like this reward is an eternity away. When we are willing to trust in the Lord’s will and His timing, He will always bless us.
I feel like I have best learned this principle as I have prepared to serve a mission. Once I received the answer that the Lord wanted me to prepare to serve a full-time mission, making the decision to serve was actually a very easy decision to make for me. However, as I began working on my mission papers, it took me a lot longer to get my papers turned in than I anticipated due to a few setbacks, and that alone left me frustrated and wondering if the Lord still wanted me to serve a mission. That frustration soon passed when I got my papers turned in and waited as patiently as a prospective missionary could possibly wait for a mission call. When I got my mission call, I was beyond excited about my call to serve in Hong Kong, but I was actually pretty disappointed my report date was two months after my availability date. I didn’t want to have to wait longer that I felt like I had to, and I felt like I was so ready to leave sooner! However, in the last three months I have had my mission call, I have had so many valuable experiences that have been absolutely crucial to my spiritual preparation as a missionary that I would not have been able to have had I left earlier. The Lord allowed those setbacks while I was working on my mission papers to happen so I could report to the MTC later so that He could prepare my heart for the challenges that lie ahead for me as a missionary. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord’s hand has been in every aspect of my mission call, and while it was hard for me to accept the Lord’s timing for me in the beginning and I have faced some of my hardest trials since receiving my mission call, the plan that the Lord had in store for me was way better than any plan I had for myself, even if it required me to go through the refiner’s fire that comes with trials.
I know that as make the choice to lean on our Heavenly Father and counsel with the Lord on important decisions we are making in our lives and seek to do HIS will instead of our own, the Lord will richly bless our lives in ways we don't always expect. Blessings always come to those who wait on the Lord.

7. The choice to trust in the Lord
I want to use an analogy from a BYU Speech by James A. Rasband to illustrate this point for me:
Suppose I find myself in a home built for me by a very generous landlord. It is a nice home. He encourages me to maintain and improve the home and gives me a number of instructions for making the home a nice place to live.
Over the years I sometimes improve the home, but other times, through my negligence, I make it worse. One time I flood the home when I fail to set the faucets to drip during a freeze. Another time my kitchen catches fire because I fail to turn off a burner on the stove. A couple of times I lose my temper and put my fist through a wall.
In each instance the landlord forgives me and encourages me to pay a little closer attention to my home and to his instructions for making the home a joyful place to live. He does not charge me for the damage caused by my mistakes. Instead, sometimes he is patient while I figure out how to fix things on my own; sometimes he sends someone over to fix the problem; and sometimes I wake up and things are fixed in ways I don’t quite understand.
This same landlord happens to have a son who is quite wayward. The son is always up to no good, and I don’t particularly like or respect him. One night the landlord’s son, as a prank, sets fire to the shed attached to the back of my house. The fire gets out of control, and the entire house burns down. I lose the home. I lose all of my possessions, including some particularly valuable possessions that I can’t replace, such as photos and heirlooms.
I’m angry and distraught. I want the no-good son to pay. I want him to fix things and to make me whole. A part of me knows he can’t really make it better. He may not have the resources to rebuild the house, and, even if he could rebuild the house, he can’t retrieve the photos and heirlooms. And that makes me even angrier.
As I sit in anger, the landlord comes to visit me. He reminds me that he has promised to take care of me. He promises me that he is willing to rebuild my house. In fact, he says that he will do more than that: he will replace my house with a castle and then give me all that he himself has. He says that this might take a while, but he promises it will happen.
“What’s the catch?” I say.
“Here are the conditions,” he says. “First, you need to put your faith in me and trust that I really will build you that castle and restore all that you have lost. Second, you need to continue to work on implementing the instructions I gave you about keeping up your house. Finally, you need to forgive my arsonist son, just as I have forgiven you all these many years.”
The Lord will ask us to do many difficult things in our life. He will ask us to follow commandments that we don’t understand the whys of following them. He will ask us to forgive or even help someone that has hurt us in the past. He will ask us to go in a different direction than we had ever planned for ourselves. The Lord absolutely will ask us to do hard things. But we do not have to do these hard things alone. Just as the tenant didn’t have to make all of the home repairs himself, we do not have to repair the broken parts of our lives. Utilizing the atonement of Jesus Christ is what will make us whole. All the Lord asks us to do is to trust Him. When we have a firm testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just in the church of Jesus Christ, it will be a lot easier for us to trust that the Lord will not only deliver us from the pains that we face in this life, but the Lord will give us a reward greater than anything we could possibly imagine.

I know that these seven choices we make are so important. They will help us to become more like Christ and will help us get on and stay on the road to eternal life. Our Heavenly Father has so much love for us that he provided a way for us to return home to Him. As we make the choice to choose Jesus Christ's plan and His gospel, our lives will be blessed in ways we cannot imagine.