Saturday, December 24, 2016

Week #23 - A Penang Christmas: December 19, 2016 – December 23, 2016

Christmas in Penang
Merry Christmas!

This week in Penang, we celebrated Christmas with the branch! It was great fun! Members and nonmembers joined together for a time of singing, a program, and food. Even in a mostly Muslim country, many people from Christian or other religious backgrounds came together to learn of Christ, who He is, and join together in worshipping song and praise. We shared the Christmas initiative, the meaning behind Christmas, and the primary put on a nativity play. It was a very spiritual night. Of course, in Penang, the food was not traditional ham and potatoes, but full of the cultures of Penang, including curry, rice, tofu, and mee (noodles). Every 3rd Sunday in the Branch is a potluck full of the different cultures of Penang. I've never seen people love food as much as the people of Penang! It has been so amazing to see how Christmas brings people together and softens hearts. As we bike around in Penang, even though there are many Muslims, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is so happy to talk with us and wish us Merry Christmas. I am so thankful for all of you in my life, and for the examples of Christ like love and service you have demonstrated in your everyday life. At this special time of year, may we remember to make room for the Savior in our lives, to remember those less fortunate, and to seek His counsel in all that we do. For He is the perfect example and light of all mankind.

The branch potluck

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week: #21 – Charity: The Gateway to the Heart: November 29, 2016 – December 5, 2016

Buddhist Temple
This week has been quite slow. For the most part of this week, Sister Durham and I were sick. I had a small cold while Sister Durham had more severe symptoms, including vomiting. Therefore, we were nursing Sister Durham for the most part. Throughout this transfer, there have been some tough times, and our companionship has not worked together as smoothly.  As we've been patient, caring, and loving, I was able to see how charity can soften a heart. I've experienced it for myself. I've also seen the effects it has on others--members, companions, and investigators. Six weeks ago, one of our investigators became very hard-hearted and started yelling at us. We patiently listened then quietly told her we loved her and walked away. This week, she gave us a call. We were able to listen to her and serve her. Through those acts, her heart was opened again. It was through charity, the pure love of Christ, that her heart was opened and softened. Charity not only softens hearts, but it allows one to be open to spiritual promptings. As I was writing letters to the members in Penang, I found that my thoughts and words seemed to flow out of me. I knew those words I was writing was not by my thoughts alone and were truly inspired.

Chinese Artifacts

Week #22 – Miracles!: December 6, 2016 – December 12, 2016

Fixing Sister Quan's bike chain
This week has been full of miracles! Sister Quan has been riding a bike that the chain comes off easily. As we were riding, we've had many kind souls pull over to help us reattach it. One of the people we met became an investigator. As we've met, this person has a strong desire to share the gospel, yet they only knew about the new Christmas video "Light the World". This showed me the miracle of God, working on the hearts of His children to soften and prepare them to hear His word. Another miracle day was when we were visiting a park. We were having a hard time finding potential investigators to give us their number and set up an appointment. One day, however, we were lead to a park that helped us find 9 potential investigators, and we taught 2 people a full lesson, who later became investigators. This showed me that God hears and answers prayers. Sometimes He answers them in a miracle that is easy to spot. Sometimes, it's not so easy to recognize the answer. However, He always answers. The last miracle of this week was the ability to speak the words that I lacked. There were times while meeting members that I was not sure what to say. My companion would talk about two seemingly different ideas that made absolutely no sense in my head. It was when I opened my mouth, not knowing what to say and trusting God to lead me, I was able to testify and say the words that the members needed
Sisters Vranes and Durham
to hear. I was able to make complete sense of what was previously said and testify of God. I know that sometimes we are presented with others concerns, not knowing what to say. I know that the person and God trust us to help them. I know that if you open your mouth and you are testifying of God and goodness, you will always know what to say to help touch the person who trusts you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week #20 – Singapore and Broken Chains: November 28, 2016 – November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!! This week we went back to Singapore for Zone Conference. Usually Zone Conference with the Mission President is every other transfer. The past few times, the president has gone out to the area, but in the past, there were 2 large zone conferences in Singapore. It is being changed yet again so there are 4 zone conferences in Singapore. This allows missionaries to not only have training, but to do visa runs. Since it was changed recently, we had another zone conference with the president so that we could all be on the same track again for visa runs. This zone conference was training on how to find and teach better, as well as learning how to become a fully consecrated missionary. This is actually a talk called, "The Consecrated Missionary" given by Tad R. Callister. We were also able to have a Thanksgiving dinner put on by the Mission President and his wife and the other senior missionaries. It was very delicious! 

Upon our return to Malaysia, all of the missionaries in Penang were invited by an American family to have a second Thanksgiving with them. It was also very delicious and fun! One thing I am thankful for is the power of prayer and the safety Heavenly Father has provided for us. One of my companions has a bike whose chain has continually been braking off these past few days. We haven't had time to fix it, other than to attach the chain back on. Luckily through prayer, several kind people have stopped to help us. It has really showed me that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. It also showed me how kind people are to others who are in need of help. It reminds me once of a talk that was given in my home ward at sacrament meeting. The person giving the talk had lived in many places, especially in the U.S. They had noticed one difference in some of the places he lived than in others, kindness. In one place, they were nice, but not kind. In the other, it was opposite. I often sat and pondered that experience. What does it mean to be kind? What does it mean to be nice? What is the difference? Is it the amount of care and charity behind the act? Are we just saying, "Hi!" for pleasantries? Or is there more? What about your neighbor? Would you only wave to them? Or would you stop by to help them? Think about it for a bit? How will you show someone that you care today?

(Sister Vranes could not load pictures this week.)