Sunday, November 12, 2017

Week #69 – Go District! – October 31, 2017 – November 6, 2017 (Miri)

Miri Missionaries
This week has been a great week! Out of this week, I would say we haven't gained a lot of success in finding people, but I've gained a greater knowledge, understanding, love, and respect for my fellow missionaries. We've become a lot more united since Sister Cloud has arrived, we've put in a lot more effort, and I've seen an amazing difference. This new perspective is towards my leaders, my fellow missionaries (especially in my district), and my companion I'm definitely reminded of the song in The Best Two Years that that's sung, "Don't you know? Can't you see? What your love has made of me?" This is a great movie by the way. I've felt a lot of love and support from my companion and my District. When they asked us when we should hold our branch Christmas party, my companion and elders immediately stepped in and spoke up to hold it before I finished my mission in December. Woot! Go District!

At the beginning of this week, we went to Batu Niah caves. It is an hour and a half drive from Miri, and are these amazing caves. We got in a good hike and saw some beautiful scenes. The senior couple was nice enough to drive all of the sisters there. It was definitely worth it! The rest of the week were full of little miracles. One day was a very rough, but after riding for 45 minutes to an appointment in pouring rain, that ended up canceling, we stopped by a place to dry off. We were outside a massage kedai, and they gave us some nice towels and a place to sit while we were warming up. It was so
Sister Vranes and Sister Cloud
sweet of them and a sweet miracle! When it seemed everyone canceled that day, we rode past one members' home, yelled his name as we saw him, and came back around on our bikes. He surprisingly came outside, greeted us, had a good laugh, showed us pictures of his new baby, and gave us some fruit. It turned our whole day around. Sunday, we started a music class. I felt a deep impression to do something with my music my whole mission, but finally had the guts to do it. It was amazing. The branch is so excited for this class. They are willing to participate very well. One member I was working with the past week played the closing song in church. It was amazing! He was so happy afterwards, and the members were so impressed. They encouraged him so much more. It made me so happy.

One thing we've been focusing on a lot is the Restoration in our lessons. I've used The Restoration video in some lessons before, but every single lesson I've taught this week is that movie. I never realized the power in this video. If you haven't, or even if you have, watch this video: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-004-the-restoration?lang=eng&_r=1

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Week #68: October 24, 2017 – October 30, 2017

This week has been great. We had a few days of exchanges in the middle of the week. Working with Sister Steele was like talking/working with an old friend. She really made a focus of just making us feel loved and comfortable. I trust her whole-heartedly. Sister Mark was a hoot and we had many miracles that day. Our extra bikes weren't working, so it seemed we were going to go by foot. We were making plans when a pi called us. We'd been in contact the past few weeks, but she was in Penang for a while. The Miri 2 sisters contacted her and passed her to us. When she first got back, she called us and wanted to meet. She had a car and met us within walking distance of our home. She came to our lesson, and immediately asked for us to show her where the church was. We happily did so and gave a church tour. She drove us back and the next day set up a return appointment. Miracles!

On Friday, we had a Halloween Party for the Miri District. There was a great turn out and many pi's/investigators came. Unfortunately, my companion and I were held up with face painting most of the time (a huge hit by the way), and didn't see all the people who did come. I saw many peak their heads in from Miri 3 branch as investigators. It was amazing. On Sunday, even more miracles came up.  A long time former investigator, finally came to church. She was close to baptism at the time, but her parent wouldn't allow her to come. She was so cute and even invited us to her home for dinner that night. She knows what she wants, has strong faith, and isn’t afraid to go for it. 

On our way to this investigator's home, we were trying to find Jalan Desa Pujut. I know a Desa Pujut area, by another member's home, but this was a different area, very far away. On our way to try to find her, we went down the member's street to get to a middle road. On our way there, we spotted a lot of boys playing basketball. They turned around and we found one of our young men members. He hadn’t come to church today. At first, he was trying to kind of ignore us. Then, I felt to ask him if he knew where our investigator lives. He did. He pointed in a general direction. We were confused. Then he got his bike and backpack and rode us to their home, 15 minutes away. He was so so sweet about it. He was kind and we could tell he was really struggling and needs help. It was a miracle beyond miracle. We were given some papaya from another member that afternoon, and gave it to him and his family.

I don't really have much time to talk this week, but I'll write better next week. I love you all!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Week #67: The Sewers Part 2 - October 17, 2017 – October 23, 2017 (Miri)

Luckily, Sister Vranes found her bike lock.
We're back to the sewers! This morning, while buying groceries, we were unlocking our bikes when the bottom bike lock thingy flipped out of my hand and into the sewers. This time, I willingly went in. It was an open sewer so we were looking all around for where it could have fallen. We then noticed there were beer bottles in the sewer that were pretty sunk in. We noticed a black hole, and prayed it was the bottom half of the bike lock. I jumped in. We got a small stick and pulled it out. Miracles! 

Other than that, this week has been superb! At the beginning of the week we had the special missionary meeting with Elder Meurs (Area Seventy), Sister Meurs, Elder Snow (church history), Sister Snow, President Lai (Area Presidency), Sister Lai and Elder Nielson (church history). I enjoyed it a lot. A lot of the focus was writing down your history. Elder Nielson gave a tremendous talk about the First Vision. Elder Snow included a lot of statistics with the Church History Museum and Church History Library. We flew to Kuching for one day. I've officially got 7/8 sister areas in this mission crossed off for visiting/serving for a day or more. I was determined to visit all of them, but now Sibu has opened up since last transfer. The missionaries in Kuching had a little meeting the night before this big meeting (between 3 zones and their outposts--the most missionaries together in this mission since President Simmons started) and one sister said, "It was really good. It guilt tripped me into almost
Sister Vranes and her bike lock in the sewers.
writing in my journal last night." Sure enough, the theme was missionary work and journaling. There is a quote, "Your mission is the MTC to life." Over time, I've learned a few truths about journaling. First, do it! Just get to work and do it. Write every day and you'll never regret it. Second, start from where you are, and then start going back. Sometimes, big things happen but it takes me a few days to start writing it down, so I start at the beginning and lose energy to finish. Just start with the most recent and you'll never have a problem. Third, only say positive things. This is most prevalent in the Book of Mormon. Many of the prophets have trials and challenges. They say the things necessary about their hard situation, but they don't go too in depth. This turns into venting, which just drains energy. Say what little you have to about the bad situation if you have one, but explain how you overcame it. This is what the Book of Mormon prophets did. They showed how they overcame their trial. This is something you owe to yourself and your future generations.

After the meeting, I received a new companion. Her name is Sister Cloud. She's from Rhode Island (last time she was at home though, they lived in Germany. Her dad is in the military.) She is a ball of energy, well driven, funny, and has spunk. I feel as I did back in the beginning of my mission with getting to work, but much more intelligent. I've seen so many miracles. I've been taken out of my comfort zone a lot these days, but I feel more bold and confident. Sister Cloud does a good job at making me feel as if what I do is good and important. She's very supportive. She truly believes in everyone out here. Her goal is to create good unity between us, the elders, and our home. She's very successful so far. I love it! I hope I can do the same for her and support her full-heartedly. My faith has just grown so much in the power of belief. She's creating a lot of power here by her belief in others.
Sister Vranes and Sister Cloud.

One miracle this week was Sunday. When we arrived back in Miri, we had a lot of appointments. We tried everything to get our two investigators to church and some less active members. One night, we called literally everyone in the branch that is thinking of coming to church to find a ride for a mother and her two sons to come to church. When it seemed hope was lost, we got someone to call us at 10 at night saying they could. We then tried to confirm with the mother, but she wouldn't confirm until 20 minutes before church. We then biked to the meet up point to show the member where to go to find the mother and her sons, with the plan that we would continue to church on our bikes. However, the member didn't show up. I totally spaced and forgot to tell them that the mother had confirmed. The mother finally got her mother to take her to church. We got 3 contacts in on the way, and 2 potential investigators. We showed up a little late to church, but found our investigator in class when we arrived. Four investigators (between the elders and us) showed up altogether. The branch is continuing to grow! It was an amazing miracle.

I hope you are all taking care. I don't have too much more time, but here is my spiritual thought. Read this talk, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/a-yearning-for-home?cid=HP_FR_20-10-2017_dPFD_fGC_xLIDyL1-A_&lang=eng


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Week #66: A Greater Purpose – October 10, 2017 – October 16, 2017

The past weeks have been crazy! Sorry all. Last week, I was in Singapore for my last Singapore Zone Conference! What? I'm officially down to two months of my mission left on Monday. Cool thing is I leave Singapore December 16, travel for 33 hours, and arrive in the U.S. December 16#timetraveling. Anyway, in Singapore we arrived at the mission office at 2 pm, emailed for a short time, bought cute dresses, and ate delicious potstickers in Chinatown. Singapore Chinatown is amazing! It's so big and goes on for a few blocks. We went there last time in Singapore, but it was so good we had to go back. I was planning on eating Mexican food (finally!), but we ran out of time. Thankfully, during Zone Conference, the senior couples fed us Mexican food #miracles!

For Zone Conference, our focus was our missionary purpose. It was good to go back to basics and remember why we are out here. There is a huge turnover in the mission right now. About 40% of the missionaries are new from 4 months ago until now. The turnover continues, and President Simmons' board is filled with many new faces for the next months. It's exciting. As we discussed our purpose, we learned a lot about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyday, we recite, "Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them develop faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I've learned a lot about my purpose over my mission.

A greater purpose I've learned and discovered is God's purpose. My all time favorite scripture is Moses 1:39: "For behold this is my work and my glory-- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Learning about God can only come by learning about Christ. Don't get me wrong, there are many religions with much truth about God. By learning Christ's life and example, we can gain a clear and true description of who God is. Jesus Christ is the son of God. He is the only perfect human to have lived. He is the Savior and Redeemer of the World. He is the only Begotten Son. Through His life and example, we can come closer to learning and understanding who God is. As I've studied about Christ's life, everything He did was unselfish. They were purely for the good of mankind and according to the will of God. I am inspired to share this article in the new October Liahona called, "A Christlike Character" https://www.lds.org/new-era/2017/10/a-christlike-character?lang=eng I'm learning more and more everyday how God's purpose and actions are intended to show His unselfish love. Everything they do and ask of us are for the better us. We can truly become like God, to live a higher way and law, and to have true joy. .I cannot say it nor explain it better than Elder Bednar does in this talk.

I love you all! I hope you take care this week!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Week #65: Thank you! – October 3, 2017 – October 9, 2017
 
Sister Sorenesen and Vranes with a memeber.

Sorry for the short message. I am currently in Singapore. We arrived this afternoon for Zone Conference, my last one until I come home! What?!

Anyway, this week was a blur. I was still getting over my cold for the most part of the week. On Saturday and Sunday, we watched General Conference. Everyone said it was amazing and let me tell you, it was! I enjoyed every moment of conference. Elder Hollands talk titled, "Be Ye Therefore Perfect--Eventually" was amazing! Throughout this week, while meeting people, we taught about conference. We gave everyone a piece of paper and said, "If you can talk to God for 2 minutes, what would you ask Him?" We invited them to bring this paper to conference and write the answer they hear. I did this myself and my answers were more than answered. This is my invite to you if you haven't watched conference, or even if you have. Also, for my spiritual thought, read this talk. I can't put into words how great it was and how much truth there is in this talk. The primary focus was the Book of Mormon, but also the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the secret to happiness. As one of my wise companions always said, "If you're not happy, your Gospel of Jesus Christ is broken." I know this is true.
 
Sisters Vranes and Sorensen with a branch member.
In this time out here I've had so much support, wise words of encouragement, and love. I can truly feel your love, support, and prayers out here. It is my turn to finally say thank you. Thank you for each one of you who has been in my life and supported me, whether close or from afar. I'm learning a lot more about God's perfect plan to place each one of you in my life and learn from your examples. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me. I love you!


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Week #64: Breaking 50: September 26, 2017 - October 2, 2017 (Miri)

This week has flown by... I don't really remember what happened most of the beginning of this week. At the end of the week I got sick. I'm still getting over it. On Sunday, my faith in the power of prayer and desire increased. I had a strong desire to at least partake of the sacrament this Sunday. I was pretty sick. After prayer, I was better enough to attend sacrament meeting. My prayers and desires were answered. Our miracle was that we broke 50 in our number of people who attended sacrament meeting! When I first got to Miri, there was about 20-30 people. There was definitely a new energy in sacrament this past week. It was exciting. It just showed me that God answers the desires of our hearts. Anyway, sorry for the short letter this week. I'll write a better one next week. Love you all!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Week #63: Make the Sabbath Your Temple: September 19, 2017 – September 25, 2017 (Miri)

Sisters in Miri.
It's the last week of the transfer and it has flown by! At the beginning of the week, we had Zone Conference in Miri with outpost elders from Bintulu.  Our focus was baptizing converts. There were many great aspects of this conference. One we focused on was recognizing a convert. We reviewed these things from Preach My Gospel (a book we use to become better at teaching), and hoped to become converted ourselves. As it is well said, "You can't convert past your own conversion"--meaning you can't teach what you don't know. This is true on so many levels.

The rest of the week was a roller coaster. In the middle of the week, we attended a baptism, because I was asked to play piano for them. It's definitely been a useful talent to have on a mission. I can't tell you how many times they've needed a pianist on my mission. I counted I've played at 15 baptisms, let alone how many times I've played in church, for English Class, and how many other things I can't count! Thank you mom and dad for putting me in piano lessons! There is nothing better on a mission than witnessing the baptism of a fellow brother or sister who has decided to follow the covenant path and example of Jesus Christ. Thanks to this skill, I've been able to constantly witness this beautiful moment, and the joy, peace, and cleanliness only the Gospel can bring into their lives.

After the baptism, my companion got ill and we had to stay in a day or two. When we finally got out of the house, it was the weekend and there was plenty to do. On Saturday, as we were heading out to bike 45+ minutes to an appointment, and my companion got two flat tires. We started riding when we noticed her back tire was flat. We pumped it up and started again when "pop!" her front tire is flat. We walked back to the home and got an uber. We never got out of the gated community we were in! We figured it was a sign, especially since my companion was still getting over her cold. It was all good though. We got to hand out a Book of Mormon, so miracles!
 
Sister Vranes eating a Cookies n' Cream milkshake.
Sunday was definitely a highlight of the week. Many of the usuals weren't at church, but many of the less active members filled those seats instead. It was a miracle! One of the less actives was up and choristering the whole time. We got to definitely see how Miri branch used to be and the potential it has. Miri is definitely amazing!

One of the things that stood out to me this week was the sacrament. When Elder Christofferson, from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came to Singapore, he did a Q&A session with the missionaries. One of the questions asked was: "How can we, the members, continue to feel the blessings of the temple while it is quite far away?" Malaysia and Singapore do not have a temple. The closest temples are Manilla, Phillippines temple, Hong Kong temple, and soon to be the Bangkok, Thailand temple. Most members in Malaysia have to sacrifice a lot to travel to the temple. Many do not have the luxury of traveling to the temple all the time. Many have to sacrifice a lot if they want to go at all. Very few members have the means, but make the necessary sacrifices, to attend the temple once a year. These members are amazing! We, as missionaries, cannot attend the temple for the duration of our missions (that is anywhere between 18 months and 2 years). Feeling the blessings of the temple is sometimes hard. Elder Christofferson replied, "Make the Sabbath your temple." He told us to have a proper Sabbath Day and to sanctify and set it apart from the rest. To have a proper Sabbath Day, preparation is the key. Make Saturday night the day to reflect on the week--to meditate, repent, and resolve to do better.
 
Sister Vranes eating lunch.
This was definitely a deep thought that was further studied out and addressed this past Zone Conference. Our mission president's wife was giving us a training about pride, (humility is our Christ-like attribute we have been studying and focusing on as a mission this past transfer) when she told us something interesting about the Sabbath. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we learn that it is a way of life. We start with our faith in Jesus Christ, then we repent, when we've repented, we get baptized, and God will promise us His gift of the Holy Ghost. Afterwards, we endure to the end, where we start this cycle, this way of life, all over again until the end (which death is not the end). We also teach that when we repeat this cycle, we don't get baptized again if we've messed up. We come to church and partake of the Sacrament. This must mean the sacrament is really special, and it is. It must mean it is so special it can take the place of having to get baptized all over again. This Sacrament symbolizes the renewing of covenants, all covenants. Think of how many times we mess up and are NOT perfect within the week. I think of this quite a bit. That is the beauty of the sacrament, repentance, and the plan Heavenly Father has set for you, and for me. Because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us, we don't have to be perfect. We may mess up big time, or even small. We may feel we can never be forgiven. We may feel we are past the point of no return. That is a lie! It is Satan's favorite lie. The sacrament, if taken properly, is all the chances we need. We can come to church every week and partake of it. We can be clean and set free. There is no limit to the times you can partake of the sacrament, and ALL covenants, including baptism and temple covenants, are renewed. This is one of the most wonderful thoughts and revelations of my mission. Partake of the Sacrament. Repent daily. Worship freely. Become whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.