Week #61: Loving Parents: September 5, 2017 - September 11, 2017 (Miri)
|Sister Sorensen and Sister Vranes|
One miracle this week was this new investigator we are teaching. She works at a foot massage place. We've been slow cooking her the past few months. It started with her always saying "Hi sisters!" in the mall where we usually eat lunch at after a missionary meeting every week. When we first talked to her, she said that she was baptized in 2012 or something. When we returned to talk to her, we learned she is actually Buddhist and attended English Class in Kuching. Over time, her friends at the massage place all started talking to us and liked us a lot. One funny old uncle, who works there, even gave us a phone and hugged me...all he wants to do is dance. It was a great and terrible day that day. Anyway, after meeting with her and encouraging her to come to English Class, we had the impression to just start talking about God. As we talked, she desired to pray and develop a relationship with God. As we have continued to meet with her, she has a strong desire to know who God is and the success she and her children can get. She is a loving parent and relates so well with a loving Heavenly Father. Finding her was truly a miracle and blessing.
|Having fun on a p-day.|
Sunday was hectic. I have never been involved in church so much as I did yesterday. In Miri, there are three branches. Our branch is the last one to start at 11:30 am, starting with Sunday School, Relief Society, and then Sacrament Meeting, respectively. There are 153 members in the branch, but only 20-30 members attend, on a good day. This Sunday, I was assigned to teach Sunday School and Relief Society with my companion, then told to give a talk 10 minutes just before I was supposed to give it, and played the hymns on the piano. As I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting, I was reflecting back on how this would never happen to someone in Utah. I am amazed, however, by the level of involvement these members are accustomed to. In Miri, we have 12 and 13 year olds saying the opening prayer and spending time sharing their testimonies with the missionaries. As I was talking with my companion (who is straight from America so she remembers what it's like), she mentioned the church topics and level of simplicity in Malaysia. Her dad gave a talk on being positive through opposition, while we have talks on simple faith, or service, or tithing--the basic doctrines of the Church. Many times, we have to explain the meaning of opposition, revelation, and many other words to our members. Although these members don't have much, they give their all. As I've come to learn about who they are and their lives, they have every reason not to be faithful members, yet they still are. For a little bit of history, the Church has only been in Malaysia for 20-30 years (20 in West Malaysia, 30 in East Malaysia). It is amazing to see their struggles. The missionaries are the examples of the foundation of the Church and how it should run. Our Branch President basis the organization of the Church off of the organization in Taiwan, where he served only 5 years ago. He is from Kuching, married a long time member in Miri, and has two little girls. This Branch is so young, yet so faithful. These are the pioneers of Malaysia. These pioneers are involved. These pioneers have sound understanding of the basic doctrine of the church. These pioneers are amazing! President Boyd K. Packer said, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." I know that is true. By studying and sharing the doctrine of the Gospel every day, my testimony has grown immensely.
As for a spiritual thought, I am continually learning about the love Heavenly Father has for all of His children. I have learned more about prayer this week than I ever did before. In one of my studies, I learned why we pray and even came up with an analogy to better understand it. If you haven't already, read the Bible Dictionary definition of prayer. We pray so that we can ask God for blessings and revelation. He is able to answer us through His help and guides, the Holy Ghost, scriptures, and even others around us (which is why we go to church, to receive more revelation). My favorite analogy to look at is the parent-child relationship. God is a loving Heavenly Father. We are His children. As a loving parent, God wants the best for us. Sometimes, as children, we are in our own little worlds. There is a girl in my branch who is a great example of this. She often twirls in circles, slides down a small banister, goes to the front where her parents are so she can be watched, and only responds when you wave a hand in her face. She is in her own little world. Sometimes, we are like this little child, in our own little worlds. As children, we sometimes want things, and have to ask for them. A child might ask for their parent to buy a new toy, or ice cream. As a child becomes older, they become a teenager and want bigger things, like a car or the latest phone. The parent will sometimes say yes, or sometimes say no. It may not be in the parent's budget. It may not be healthy for the child. Maybe the parent is saving the money spent on an ice cream cone for their future education--for something better. For whatever reason it is, they know what would be best for the child. I'd like to point out two things in this example. First, the child had to ask. Even though the parent knows their children love ice cream, the child has to sometimes ask to get one. This is why we pray, so that we can receive the blessings Heavenly Father is willing to give, we need only ask. Second, the parent doesn't always give them what they want. The parent knows what is best for their child, and they may even have a greater gift in mind. This is like Heavenly Father, who only wants the best for us. When we ask, He knows what will make us fat. He knows what will hurt us and what will help us.
Furthermore, in this analogy, a loving parent will help their children, but only when they child is willing to do their part. Going back to the teenager, they ask for more expensive things. They ask for cars and phones. A loving parent will wait to see if first they are responsible, and second, if they are willing to earn it. Maybe the child has to work and earn 50% of the cost, and the parent will help do the rest. Maybe the parent ask for more help from the child. Heavenly Father loves His children and is not against having His children "earn" their blessings. They have to be responsible and put in effort. He is a fair and loving God.
But as a loving parent gives good gifts, so much more is Heavenly Father willing to give great gifts. Perhaps the parent doesn't buy their children ice cream all the time. They are saving up for their child to gain an education. This paints the picture of the quote, "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime." I know a parent who loves their child, invests in their life. Heavenly Father sometimes withholds immediate blessings for great ones. He is making investments in us. He is truly a great and loving parent. He is a loving Heavenly Father.