So many exciting things happened this week! I had the opportunity to have an exchange in Liverpool and serve with Sister Chuo (from Taiwan) for a few days. They are teaching so many Chinese students there! It is so exciting! I felt the Spirit so strongly as we met with young Chinese investigators and recent converts. These truly are the future leaders of the church in China.
I got to teach a new member lesson to a young woman, Jolene, who I met at the Chinese meeting months ago. Do remember how when I served with Sister Gong we had a Chinese meeting at the Mission Home where all of the Chinese investigators came from their separate cities and were able to meet and mingle and share testimony? Well, Jolene was there. She was an investigator then and very shy. I hardly recognised her when I saw her again! The Gift of the Holy ghost is so real. There is light in her eyes and her countenance has changed. What a miracle! It was just fantastic. It renewed my conviction as I remembered what missionary work is all about. She is actually married and her husband and little boy are coming to England finally next month! She is so excited to teach them the truths that she has learned. She expressed a lot of excitement at teaching them how to pray. "They can pray every night now like I do!" What a miracle in her life.
We are also seeing more and more changes in the mission under the direction of President Preston. Our specialised training was all about working with the members. We are a "Forever Finding" mission and have been since the help of President Bullock. There is such an emphasis on speaking to everyone - having Quality Gospel Conversations - that our baptisms from street contacting have tripled the last couple of years.
Now, President Preston is trying to keep that aspect of the mission strong while simultaneously making member referrals an emphasis. It is so wonderful to hear his point of view on obtaining referrals. He was, after all, a member in the mission only a few months ago! He knows exactly what it's like. The funny thing is that everything that we were trained to do with members are things Sister Jack and I have been doing! It's always great to know that your spiritual impressions are aligned with your leaders, though. Now we can put that much more energy into it! We are excited to get better at doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way: through the members.
We are also getting so excited for Conference!! We simply cannot wait! As a missionary, General Conference is like Christmas! Times ten! And Christmas is like...well, it's just odd as a missionary. But that's another story : )
I had a major personal milestone this week: we experienced trials and I found it in my heart to be grateful for them in that very instant! This is something I never, ever thought I would experience. I've heard people talk about it, and I understood the concept, but to actually experience it was amazing.
I think it all came together when we received a message from Joshua right before sacrament meeting. His vicar strongly advised him to stop meeting with us and Joshua chose to take his advice despite his spiritual witnesses of the truthfulness of our message. I was gutted on the phone. I felt such anger towards Satan. I felt frustrated and depressed that we failed. But then there was a little voice in my head that said, “Have you really failed?” Joshua had used his agency, but in many ways that had nothing to do with me. That matter was settled, and the battle was now inside of me; I could choose the outcome in my heart. I prayed for hope and patience. My heart was calmed and I felt hope. I was comforted and persevered through the rest of church with a genuine smile on my face. I was the Master of my soul in that instant and in just a few seconds I became more like the Saviour.
If life is a training ground, a place to learn, that means that the only failure is when you don’t learn from an experience. Every hard experience (whether you are a missionary or not) it makes the future manageable no matter how daunting it may seem.