Saturday, July 22, 2017

Week #53: Revelation! – July 11, 2017 – July 17, 2017 (Miri)
It was a Spirit-filled week, ending with the greatest revelation of my mission, the water heater! I'm kidding, but it was one of the best discoveries I had made in the Miri home. Every area I have served so far has had a water heater switch right outside the bathroom, but Miri was a time of endless cold showers. On Thursday, after staring at the water heater in the bathroom, and staring at a mysterious switch in our study room (which I learned to never touch mysterious buttons/switches in KK or a guard will come up to your apartment at night thinking there is danger), I discovered the wondrous connection! I'm never taking warm water for granted, ever again!

Anyway, this week was truly Spirit filled. We had yet another baptism, and Sister Montague skyped in from Arizona (because she finished her mission a couple of weeks ago) at 4 am. Our new convert, J--- is so cute! She's Filipina, and since our church is the English speaking branch, we have a lot of Filipinos and Chinese that attend. Her baptism was all in Tagalog. I was not able to understand a word, but the Spirit was so strong. I could really feel the testimony and faith of each of the Filipinos that participated, and it was incredible. In this mission, we get a lot of Filipinos who work in Malaysia, and they are just so ready for the Gospel. One elder joked that there are two things Filipinos are just meant for, basketball and the Gospel. It's true though:)

As for a spiritual thought, I am reading through an old General Conference, October 2015. One talk I read yesterday morning and was reminded of was "My Heart Pondereth Them Continually" by Devin G. Durrant. This speaker starts out with a clear distinction of his earthly and spiritual calling, an investor and disciple of Jesus Christ, respectively. He challenges his audience to do two things that will have a major impact on them, physically and spiritually, that are like bank deposits, that will only add up. The first challenge is literally making bank deposits--save money every week. Many of us understand how this will have a positive effect and overtime will produce significant results. The second challenge is to "ponderize" a scripture every week. Perhaps this rings a bell. This is a made up word combining ponder and memorize. Just like the bank deposit, ponderizing a new scripture every week is making spiritual deposits, which over time will add up and produce significant results. I invite you to read this talk and ponderize a scripture this week. I am going to start as well with my senior year seminary theme, Doctrine and Covenants 6:33,36 :)



Saturday, July 15, 2017


Sisters Vranes and Steele
Week #52 - Claimed: July 4, 2017 - July 10, 2017 (Miri)

This week I was claimed by a Chinese family. So most of the week has been slow, we were trying to find some less actives and former investigators at their homes, but no one was home. On Friday, we finally went to visit a less active that we try to see every week or every two weeks. The wife and daughter-in-law are both members, but the husband and the sons are not. As we went to visit, the wife and husband were both very talkative and interested in getting to know me. We were helping them become Facebook friends and contact past missionaries again. As we were talking, I jokingly asked them to give me a proper Chinese last name. In order to get a "real" Chinese name, you have to have a Chinese person give it to you. I have a Chinese name from my foster family in China, 高超 (gao chao), but I don't have a last name. On my mission, I have been going by 高姐妹 (gao jie mei, which means "Sister Tall"). Many people in Miri haven't like it and said it wasn't a real Chinese last name, which it isn't, so I was trying to have the couple give me one. Eventually, I told them my adoption story, and the wife was so sad. She was telling me how she was going to cry because of my story. She went on about how I couldn't miss anything, because I hadn't remembered anything, but I would miss them because of my face, or something like that. She said that I have American parents, but now I need Chinese parents. She then claimed me. She was so happy, because now she has two daughters. The husband warned me that he wasn't Mormon, but he hopes that's okay, haha. So now I've been claimed! I'm finally Malaysian!
Claimed!

Anyway, one miracle that happened this week was riding home after English Class. We were in a hurry, so we were biking really fast. Half way home, I felt an impression to slow down. I stopped for a moment wondering if it was true. I was very unsure if it was just some fear or doubt, but we needed to get home fast. I then continued to ride and was trying to catch up to my companion to tell her, but she was too far ahead. I prayed to be able to yell loud enough so she could hear me call her name. I also prayed for confidence that if this was a true prompting from Heavenly Father, that she would stop. After my prayer, I took a deep breath and yelled. She immediately stopped and turned around. I caught up, told her what I felt, I led the way and we rode slowly home. Later that night, I learned that she had actually not heard me, but that she felt she should stop at the exact moment I had yelled. It was a miracle and a blessing!

As for a spiritual thought, I would invite you to read the lyrics to "Choose the Right" (hymn #239) in the LDS hymnbook. Many times, we want to choose the right, but how do we know what is right? In the world today, it seems like there are so many gray areas. The answer is simple. In  2 Nephi 2:28 it says,
And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit

I know that this is true. The Great Mediator is Jesus Christ. Look to the example of Jesus Christ, and you will always know what is right and true.

 
Sister Vranes - can fall alseep anywhere, anytime, any position

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Week #51: YOU Are a Child of God: June 27, 2017 – July 3, 2017 (Miri)

Since Sister Montague is leaving, I've been living off the love of members, meaning their food. When a Malaysian loves you, they'll feed you. That's about the only way they show their love, and by being very very blunt. If you gain weight, they'll tell you.

Starting at the beginning of this week, we went to the beach for p-day. We brought ukeleles, pizza, and played games in the sand. It was definitely a p-day to repeat...which we are this Monday! Yay!

The highlight of this week was Saturday. We had a baptism! Our 17-year old investigator, T----- finally got baptized after a long journey of investigating for two years. For a long time, her parents would not allow her to join The Church. They did not even attend her baptism. Her testimony, strength, and courage were admirable. She is a true pioneer of Miri. We then celebrated her baptism afterwards with the other two branches at a Gawai party. 

Gawai is an Iban celebration (Iban is a traditional tribe of Malaysia). It is the celebration of a new year, like Christmas. There were many traditional costumes, music and dancing (in which the missionaries had to participate with the poco poco), and delicious food! They had a Gawai tree full of candy, where the men dance one by one up to the tree, cut off some candy, and throw it to the kids. There is a candy, choki choki, that is basically a plastic tube of chocolate. It is delicious. Two of the elders danced, threw candy to the kids, and the chips and choki choki to their companions *shaking my head*

At the baptism, we performed "I Am a Child of God" https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-05-009-child-of-god?lang=eng  This is a basic song that the smallest children sing in the Church. Don't forget who you are, and who you can become. You are a son or daughter of God with divine nature. You're potential is limitless. Heavenly Father loves you more than you could ever imagine. I hope you see this. If not, pray, and ask Heavenly Father who you are to Him. He will tell you.

I love you all! I pray for you. I miss you. 

Love,


Sister Vranes

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Week #50 - And Then There Was One: June 20, 2017 - June 26, 2017 (Miri)

I'm back and ready to kill. This week I have been transferred to Miri, which is in Sarawak, East Malaysia. I am yet again companions with Sister Montague, my first mission mama out of four. I have "killed' 2/4 (missionary talk meaning I was their last companion before they finished their missions), soon to be 3/4. Sister Durham is next! Sister Montague goes home July 4, 2017.

Anyway, jokes aside, I am in a trio with Sister Montague and Sister Steele. I knew Sister Steele in the MTC, she was 6 weeks ahead of me, so we had 3 weeks to get to know each other. She is from Orem, Utah. She is a talented singer and musician #ukesquad, and is very down-to-earth and patient. We also happen to have the same first name, Samantha, but both of us went by Sam before. Honestly, I do not know what I am doing in Miri. All I know is that the Lord needed me here.

Miri reminds me of St. George. It is very hot and desert like. There are a lot of houses instead of apartment complexes. The homes are gorgeous! They are huge and spread out. Many people here even have yards and gates. The city symbol is the seahorse. We get chased by dogs here, supposedly. I have only transported by car so far, because I am waiting for my bike to be sent from Penang. I learned that Muslims are not allowed to own dogs according to their religion. Many dogs are either strays or have been trained to be guard dogs. Other dogs just chase us because they are bored, while we are both on bikes and on foot. There are also all sorts of animals around. The other day, we found a crab in our drive way, and a frog in a sister's shoe this morning. There are 7 sisters living in one home. We have 6 sets of missionaries serving here, 3 sets of sisters and 3 sets of elders. There are 3 branches, 2 in Malay (one of those is technically Malay but usually speaks all Iban), and 1 in English (thank goodness that's my branch). Miri is where Sister Steele and Sister Clark started their missions. Sister Quan is still the Queen of Miri, having served here for 10 months. That's a little about Miri for you.

While in church, yesterday, I met an investigator and her 2 daughters from China. Her first daughter is my age, also an ox, and is studying in England. Her second daughter is Sarah's age, also a rabbit, and is studying in China. The two daughters were born in Malaysia and grew up here, but their family is originally from China. They are moving to KL soon, but it was great to get to know them. The mother has been investigating the church for almost 15 years now. While I was talking to the oldest daughter, I learned that she was actually quite involved in the church in England. She goes to YSA activities often, and even camps. I was talking about Trek and Girl's Camp, as well as YSA activities, and she really wanted to participate in these activities. We then talked about her life in college. She expressed her difficulty making friends. Don't we all, at one point or another, have had difficulty with a new stage of life? I know I did. 

Growing up, I often had to make difficult decisions of which school I should attend, should I go on a mission and when, and am I even doing the right thing? These are life-changing decisions that many of us had to make. I soon realized, early on that I couldn't just make them myself, but prayerfully. To give a little background, I went to an elementary school that fed into a junior high, where only 20% of that junior high would feed into the boundaries of my high school. I had the option of 3 junior high schools, all within a 5 minute drive of each other. This was a time I had to prayfully decide which school to attend. The next decision came when I had to choose which high school, and then further for college. These dilemmas were caused because I had a choice for something good, versus something better, versus something that was best for me. These moments helped me to strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father and to rely on His plan and timing for me. In the end, when I had made a prayerful decision, I had found countless blessings. I was able to go to a school where I had countless opportunities where and doorways opened up. I was able to find teachers that I understood their teaching and that I connected well with; I was even able to make really good friends who supported and guided me down righteous paths. At the first of each of these new experiences, I always had a difficult time making a good friend. I knew I had made a correct choice, because I had prayed about it, but I was wondering if I had chosen wrong. This was a time where my prayers had to change and I even had to fast. I found myself changing the words of my prayers to be more specific, and with the faith to fast, I found what I was looking for. Today, I can say I have at least 1 great friend (from each stage of life) that has influenced me, supported me, and led me down righteous paths. I am still great friends with each of them to this day. 

It is my testimony that Heavenly Father has a great plan for each of us. This plan goes down to the smallest decisions we will make. We have no need to wonder which choice is correct. We will always be right when we prayerfully choose them. I know He listens to our prayers and fasts when we have righteous desires. I have faith that He has higher purposes for my transfer to Miri. Perhaps you don't understand everything in your life right now, but there is one who does. Trust Him. Ask Him. He will listen and in the right time, He will answer.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week #49 – Is Heavenly Father Your Friend or Your Best Friend? – June 13, 2017 – June 19, 2017 (KK)

Is Heavenly Father your friend, or your best friend? One sister said this statement this week and it has stuck with me, a lot. First, what constitutes being a best friend? Probably someone you trust, can talk to and who will listen, can laugh and cry with, and loves you for who you are. Is this your relationship with God?

This week, we have been trying a new contacting method, a survey. There were 4 questions we asked that struck up some very interesting conversations:
1. Do you believe in God?
2. On a scale of 1-10, how close do you feel to God?
3. On a scale of 1-10, how close do you want to feel to God?
4. How do you think you can reach that goal?

I was surprised to find how many people did not know where they were on the scale, but they wanted to gain a strong relationship, at least 8 or above. Throughout this week, I had to ask myself these questions. I realized I wasn't where I wanted to be, and that I could improve. 

This week I have been studying a lot about The 12 Steps to Change. This is found on LDS.org. Even though these 12 steps to change are related a lot to addiction recovery, these are the 12 steps to repentance. Everyday, we are trying to change, to become better, and to ultimately do what we call repentance. This change is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Everyday, I am repenting. Everyday, I hope you too are repenting. Now don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean you are a bad person, but that you AND I are not perfect, and need to change, to become better. The first step to change is honesty. Are you honest with yourself? With Heavenly Father? I invite you today to answer those survey questions, and be honest. Just check where you are spiritually today.

One way to grow that relationship with God, with Heavenly Father, is to have an open, honest prayer. Prayer is the way to communicate with God. This is also made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Start your prayer by saying who you are speaking to, "Dear Heavenly Father". Then say the things on your mind and in your heart. How as your day today? What did you do? You can include questions such as, "Are you there? Are you listening? Do you care? Do you love me?" Include the things that were good and you were grateful for, as well as the secret pleadings of your heart. Since prayer is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, end with, "In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

I am learning everyday how to have meaningful prayers and a deeper relationship with God, with my loving Heavenly Father. This is the first step to deepening that relationship and reaching the type of relationship you hope to have. I know the 12 steps to change are the 12 steps to repentance, the 12 steps to healing, the 12 steps to peace, and the 12 steps to happiness. Start today.

I love you all.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love,


Sister Vranes

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Week #48 - Triangles: June 6, 2017 – June 12, 2017 (KK)

This week was crazy! It was very, very eventful, with Zone Conference, exchanges in Singapore, and the missionary open house. It feels forever ago that we had Zone Conference, but it was only on Tuesday. In Zone Conference, the topic was finding. President and Sister Simmons started with a focus on training the trainer. In the next few months of this mission, we are losing large groups of missionaries. At the end of THIS transfer , we lose 20+ missionaries, and then gain 20+ new missionaries. I forgot it's June already. Anyway, there's going to be a lot of turn over, and greenie fire. Whoot! 

In training, we learned how to adjust to life. There is a book called Adjusting to Missionary Life on LDS.org. We talked about how this book is really about adjusting to life. There are many things we can apply to life through this book, especially about stress. Sister Simmons said, "If you're not adjusting to missionary life, you are not repenting (changing)". Life is a constant change and at times, it gets very stressful. There are many ways and techniques to deal with these. The best manual to life, however, is The Book of Mormon. Take Nephi for example. Many times, his brothers oppose him, and at times, bully him. Instead of letting things just happen to him. He relies on the Lord, asks for strength (the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ), and take matters into his own hands, becoming an agent to do rather than be acted upon. Take a look through these two books and learn something to help you today.

On exchanges in Singapore, I was able to be reunited with my mission mama, Sister Durham. The duo is back and better than ever. It was lots of fun, with lots of contacting, and implementing the things I had just learned in Zone Conference. We went about Singapore talking to many people, rejected by many people, and giving commitments to everyone. We made a point to leave everyone we talked to with a commitment, such as write 3 things down that were good today. It was a great time! We taught English class later that night and were reunited with our Penang buds, Elder Elieson and Elder Hunt. 

Upon returning to Kota Kinabalu (KK), it was late at night, I got sick, and the next day we had a missionary open house. While riding back home with one of the members, we learned that all of KK had gotten sick overnight. We weren't sure if our decorations were complete for the room we were in charge of. No one had specific details to what we were doing specifically. To be frank, we thought it would be a complete disaster. In the end, it turned out better than expected. We were actually very impressed. Many people happily brought their friends that they had introduced and invited. Everyone's decorations were spectacular. Our investigators came and had a good time, and were even fellowshipped very well by the members. The next day we had church, combined with the other branch. Only a few people from the open house came, but the district was so unified. What made them all unified?

They remembered their purpose. They remembered that we are united in our love for Heavenly Father. In this mission, we often talk about triangles. Draw a triangle like this: an equilateral triangle, I/me on the left, you/them on the right, Heavenly Father at the top. In this triangle, you have to be equal. You draw nearer to your neighbor/spouse/friend/etc. by coming closer to Heavenly Father. If there was only you and the other person, you are the farthest apart. Additionally, without Heavenly Father, this triangle becomes a tug-of-war. There is no balance. When you remember Heavenly Father, there is perfect balance. Now it becomes a matter that both you and the other person must be coming closer to Heavenly Father. If not, the triangle becomes lop-sided. So, I invite you today to look beyond divides. Look beyond prejudices. Look beyond challenges and faults. Remember who you are and who those around you are, children of a LOVING Heavenly Father. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Week #47: May 30, 2017 - June 5, 2017

This week has gone by very quickly. Sister Evans and I are working hard to find new investigators and to prepare for the open house in KK (Kota Kinabalu) coming up on June 10th. One thought this week is the scripture found in Matthew 7:7, it says, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." I immediately went to the Topical Guide, and under Ask; Seek; Knock, a similar word is prayer. Look in the Topical Guide and in every scripture excerpt, replace "ask", "seek", and "knock" with "pray" or "prayer". In the footnotes of Matthew 7:7, to ask=prayer; to seek=meditate and study; and to knock=learn. This is THE secret formula to growing your own testimony. I testify that this is true. I know that prayer is the doorway to know truth, to gain answers, and to talk WITH Heavenly Father. Prayer is our phone call to God, scriptures are His loving answers. I know Heavenly Father loves you and listens to you. He knows who you are, the things of your heart, and the answers to give to you. Please, give Him a call today. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Week #46: Making History (actually my companion is) – May 23, 2017 – May 29, 2017

I got a new companion this week named Sister Evans. She is from Gilbert, Arizona. She has served most of her mission in KL, kicked me out of Penang for one transfer, and has now switched places with my old companion. Need I say more? She's actually really awesome! She's patient, kind, and funny. I remember my mom found her on Facebook from the Singapore Missionary Mom's page, and said to me, you need to be friends with her. Little did I know I would even be companions with her. She's an English speaking sister, but has actually learned a little of every language. She can kick my butt in Malay. She's the first English sister in all of this mission to break the East Malaysia barrier, and to be serving in Kota Kinabalu.

One miracle this week was riding the bus on Sunday. For most of this week, I had lost my voice because of my cold (the first time I have ever lost my voice in my life!) We had appointments set up, and while I was sick and recuperating, we scheduled additional appointments. However, we had to cancel many of the appointments of our Chinese investigators and Chinese less actives we were working with, because my voice did not improve. Sister Evans and I had faith that I would have a voice by Sunday, so we could call these people back and set up another appointment. Well the miracle came and I was able to call them! But none of them picked up their phones... We were a bit bummed, but started on our way to visit a member. As we rode the bus, we found that everyone we talked to could speak English, had run into missionaries before (mostly the senior couple a few years ago), and wanted to learn the gospel. It was an amazing day for us!

On Sunday, in church, we were able to share our testimonies as a Relief Society. One thing that came to mind were pictures of Jesus. When we see pictures of Jesus, He is always looking lovingly, warm, and is inviting. He often has open body language, a hand out, that is beckoning you to come. As I've been sharing The Book of Mormon, I'm learning that IT IS another testament of Jesus Christ. It tells us of Christ's life.  The people are all normal people with their own problems, yet they tell their testimonies/prophecies/experiences of Christ and how they came to know Him. In all of the examples of Christ and how He treats those around Him, He simply invites. He says, "Come". In KK, we've been preparing for a missionary open house. This is for the members to do member missionary work. I have never seen such amazing member missionary work than here in KK! As I've been thinking about missionary work, even as a member, we don't need to be afraid to share. We are not overbearing, nor forcing, we are inviting. We are simply doing as Christ would do. Elder David A. Bednar said, "Don't do missionary work because you are a missionary. Do it because you were baptized." Think today how you can follow Christ's example. Just say, "Come".

Sister Vranes could not upload pictures this week.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sister Clark

 Week #45: Add Up! – May 16, 2017 – May 22, 2017

It's that time again, transfer week! I'm staying in Kota Kinabalu. My companion is transferring to Penang, and she'll finish her mission there in 3 months. Our Mission President calls STL's if they are being called, released, or transferring to accept their calling in their new area. We were home playing Uno, trying to recover from illness and keeping our thoughts away from transfers last night. We thought we were home free, when we got a call. It was a restless night, full of tears. When I heard Penang though, I knew she was going to a great area.

This week we celebrated Sister Egan's birthday. We finished our last week of sugar with "Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake" (my mom's recipe). It was delicious! Before getting sick, I went out with Sister Egan, the only healthy sister at the time, to her area. We visited a member's home and contacted 8 teenagers. I didn't speak a lick of Malay, but they were kind and listened to us. I realized, I had forgotten society and how to talk to teenagers. It was embarrassing, but the Spirit was still strong. That was one of the miracles this week. The rest of the week, we fell sick.
 
Happy Birthday Sister Egan!
After contacting the 8 teenagers, we taught Free English Class. We teach this for an hour, once per week, and then teach a short, optional Gospel Discussion. This week, we shared "A Shower of Heavenly Blessings" from LDS.org. While we were talking about this video, we explained how it is about positivity and gratitude. During this video, I had an "aha" moment about positivity. Often, when we think positive, we think of a (+) sign. This is a "plus sign" or "addition sign". I was thinking of blessings when we recognize them, we feel happy. Counting blessings is a positive way of thinking. We can only be positive, because we are adding up! Sure, you can look at others around you and say you don't have those things, but you when you look at your own life, you can't count your blessings down, they aren't taken away. So the key to life is to add up! Add up your blessings, and you will be amazed!


Our "Healthy" Breakfast

My "African" Companion

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Branch Family Fun
Week #44 - Dear Mother, Thank you: May  9, 2017 – May 15, 2017

Happy Mothers Day!!

Thank you all of you mothers around the world! You make the world go round and round. Yesterday, in church, we of course celebrated mothers. In Sacrament, the Young Men and Elders Quorum sat behind the podium gave testimonies and stories of their mothers, and sang "Teach Me to Walk in the Light". The Spirit was so strong and it was great to see and hear the men have such great memories of their mothers. The sister missionaries were given the opportunity to teach the Primary for this Mother's Day. We showed them videos on the church website. One video I loved was "Life
Mothers Day Cake
Doesn't Come with a Manual--It Comes With a Mother" This is so true. My testimonies of mothers and motherhood has grown so strong this Mother's Day. Mothers are the windows to Heaven. In Heaven, we have both a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. In the scriptures, the love our Heavenly Parents have for us is compared to a mother's love, "For can a woman forget her suckling child?" (1 Ne 21: 15; Isaiah 49: 15) One of the strongest ties of love is a mother and her child. There isn't anything a mother wouldn't do for her children Therefore, how much greater must be the love of our Heavenly Parents? I've been
Sisters Clark and  Vranes
thinking a lot about my own relationship with my mother and the experiences I have

with her that tell me she loves me. I'd like you to do the same this Mother's Day. Pay attention to the things they do for you. Pay attention to the things our Heavenly Parents do for you. I love my mother and appreciate her. I have a greater, new found respect for her. I love all of the women in my life. Each of you exemplify Christ and aspects of the person I want to become. Thank you. Thank you for your example, and for giving me a peek into the windows of Heaven. 


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sisters Vranes and Durham
Week #43 – Singapore, Lost Luggage, and Birthdays, Oh My!: May 2, 2017 – May 8, 2017

This week was Zone Conference in Singapore! Singapore was lots of fun and I got to see 2 of my mamas (trainers) who are still alive in the mission (still on their missions). Sister Clark and I went to a Swedish Bakery where I got to eat my first Swedish pastries. Swedish food is sooo good! For Conference, we focused a lot on planning and preparing, and it was superb! I officially have 5 pages front and back of notes from this conference. I learned a lot about goals and plans through the General Conference talk "Return and Receive" in the recent conference by Elder M. Russell Ballard. There was one video, however, that was phenomenal. It is called "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. It was a BYU devotional given in July 12, 2011, and is a must see. This devotional helps us understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what it really means to receive His grace. He continues to relate grace to one who is learning piano. In this analogy, it was so easy to understand grace and what we must do to receive it. I cannot put into words how great this video was, and I invite all of you to watch it.

Returning home from Singapore, we had a layover in KL. Our flight was delayed 30 minutes and we thought we were going to miss our flight. Thankfully, we didn't. My bag, however, missed the flight. The whole time, I had been thinking how weird it would be and what I would do if my bag didn't make it. I was thinking of a few of the missionaries we had run into that had missing bags, and it just came to mind that mine might not make it. Well, we arrived at 5 pm, after 30 minutes of flying in circles in the air because of the bad, rainy weather, and sure enough, it wasn't there. The airline said they would ship my bag, but were very confused about our address (because we live in a mall). We ended up staying until it arrived at 9 pm. 
Sister Clark at the Swedish bakery.

Another thing that happened this week was a party. On Sunday night, we were invited to a members' home to help her with a Mother's Day service project for the Relief Society. She was making lots of food and I couldn't figure out why. She said some members from the Branch Presidency were coming over to meet a less active member in her home. Turns out she invited a lot of members from the Branch to celebrate my birthday! It was so sweet of them and they really tried to make me feel at home and part of their Branch family. I haven't been here long, but these amazing members know how to make missionaries feel at home. It was so sweet of them! I also got a delicious yam cake! It's healthy and delicious! Two things you wouldn't think would go together, but Aunty Josie knows how to bake! :)

Manicures 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Primary Pictures
Week #42 - The Work Goes Forward: April 24, 2017 – May 1, 2017 (Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia)

This week has been great. The work is going forward in KK.  I love the city and its people. A few things that have been great this week are teaching people. One day, we invited a very less active member to an investigator lesson. It was amazing to see this member trying so hard to help our investigator progress towards baptism. They taught and shared their testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout the lesson, you could see the wheels really turning in this less active member's mind, and the dots were connecting. In their testimonies, you could hear them converting themselves. Another miracle was when we were running late. Our two less active members we were going to meet in the same location, but at different times, ended up meeting each other. We then had a
Our chapel in KK.
lesson about the Word of Wisdom. It ended up being just what they needed, each taking a different turn on the Word of Wisdom. They learned together as well as taught each other. It was sweet.  Church is great and we are starting to make more connections with church members. Many of the members, especially the church auxiliary leaders, are excited about preparing a missionary workshop and missionary open house/fireside. We've been bonding over sports with the Branch members. As we've been teaching a lot of our less active branch members, we have been identifying a lot of their needs. It's been superb because you can just see the gears turning during the lessons as we prepare according to their needs. The dots are connecting and they are starting to keep their commitments with a deeper drive.

On Sunday, we ate with a member who likes to feed missionaries a lot. She is in our branch so she feeds us the most. She only feeds the missionaries that she likes :)  I was sharing this story because as we were talking, she told us how she notices the missionaries that say "Thank you". She also told us she disliked American missionaries because they don't do that. She pointed out the other missionaries that are from America and made them an example. However, she turned to me, and said, "I'm sorry to say, but you are not fully American. It must be your mom." I
KK jungles
thought that was an amazing compliment and I just wanted to pass it on. Thank you mom and dad for teaching me manners!

This next week we are flying to Singapore for Zone Conference. I am excited to learn about becoming a better missionary. Talk to you in another week!


Highways in KK.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Badges of  Sisters in KK.

Week #41 - Beautiful and Unified: April 18, 2017 – April 24, 2017 (KK East Malaysia)

This week has been the healthiest week of my life! I now live in a 4 sister home, and it is crazy! At least we are unified! We have started a 12 week workout program together, we eat healthy salad and roti susu together, we sing David Archuleta together, we do crazy home remedies (like onions on the feet to detoxify sugar) together, we do makeovers and facials together, and best of all, we are willing to try new things, together.

Anyway, this week has been great! We have been able to meet some awesome and interesting people. One day, we got a random phone call from a guy that the previous sisters had contacted. On the phone, he kept saying his name and we tried to understand, Edison? Elison? Jenison? On the last one, he gave up and said that's his name. Later, we met, and the whole time I called him Jenison. Turns out I was saying it wrong. It was Innocent. However, he is not very innocent. I will not go any further in his story.
 
KK Sisters: Vranes, Egan, Kunie, and Clark
As for a spiritual thought, one thing that stood out to me this week has been family history work. Oftentimes, we don't think to do this in our free time. We would rather sleep, watch a movie, or go to social media. However, there are many people who are very involved in family history work. When you start, you begin to realize there is something special here. We love our families, especially our immediate families. When we start to research out our ancestors, we discover new things about ourselves. We discover a rich heritage, a heritage focused on creating a better future for their families. I often like to think of it like this, no one wants to be forgotten. When we find our
Sister Clark and her healthy dish.
ancestors, they rejoice. They were once lost, but are now found. Now that they are found, they rejoice because they know the joys of the Gospel, and are yearning to enjoy them for themselves. That's why the temple is so important. When we learn of their sacrifices, we think, there is nothing we can do to repay them back. However, that is not true. With the blessings of the Gospel, and temples, we are able to do a work for them that is invaluable. We are able to give blessings that extend beyond the veil of death. That is a beautiful blessing that the Gospel brings with the opportunities we have in this day and age. Family history and going to the temple are the greatest tools and blessings we have today. Because of them, we are able to bless our families; because of them, we are able to bless God's family; and because of them we are able to have eternal families. This is the work that God has for us. Do it.

 
Sister Kunie eating a "healthy dish".

Sister Egan enjoying her "healthy dish".

Friday, April 21, 2017

Welcome to KK.
Week #40 - My Reign Has Ended: April 11, 2017 – April 17, 2017

Five transfers, seven months, later, I am finally transferred from Penang. My reign has officially ended (missionary lingo for being transferred after a long stay in one area). Now, I am in Kota Kinabalu, which is in East Malaysia. Thankfully, this is the most touristy place in east Malaysia, so it is very similar to west! My new companion is Sister Clark, who is from Sweden. She's amazing and hilarious! Sister Clark is 6 feet tall, and has had all of the Sisters who are under 5 feet tall for companions, including me! East Malaysia is so very different. In West Malaysia, you can tell which language a person speaks by their race. Here, you cannot. There are mostly Malay, Chinese, and Iban people. You can meet someone who is Malay who only speaks Chinese, or even a Chinese person who only speaks Malay. There is more than one branch, so the area is huge! Church is all in Malay, not English. Guess who's coming home trilingual? This sister! Just kidding, I'll probably come home
Sister Vranes loves KK.
speaking chompor (mixed languages). Many of the people here only speak Malay and they get really scared if you speak English. Many people still come up to me expecting me to speak Malay. Another difference is we don't bike. We ride the buses and walk everywhere. Now I am exercising a whole new set of muscles! :) We also live in a mall here. It's fun, but it's easy to get trapped in "The Great and Spacious Building". Trust me. Kota Kinabalu is so pretty, and the people here are amazing! In the words of Annie, "I think I'm gonna like it here".

Anyway, this week has been superb! It was Easter Sunday! For me, it was really special because I was given the opportunity to share my testimony in Sacrament Meeting and teach the primary children about Easter. This was a special opportunity for me, and each time I testified of the Savior, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the reason we celebrate Easter, my testimony grew. I know the power of sharing your testimony. We often think we share our testimony for others to grow and develop their faith, but it is also for us to grow our faith. So I will share my testimony with you today.

I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father, and that I am His daughter. I know that He created a plan, a perfect plan of happiness, that was meant just for me and for my benefit. I know that He has eternal purposes and that we go through our trials and challenges to achieve these purposes. I know that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, so that we may have the perfect example and not walk through life alone. I know that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer, and that He lives. I know Easter is a celebration that is special and sacred. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for my sins, and that I can change. I know that Jesus Christ overcame death--he defeated Satan. Knowing the Atonement of Jesus Christ and celebrating Easter brings such love, respect, and peace to my heart. Because I know these things I true, I have no reason to fear.
 
Sister Vranes at KK chapel.
The other day I read a talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley, I think. He was talking with a Catholic Priest. In their discussion, the priest asked, "Why don't you have the cross in your church?" 

President Hinckley responded, "We don't have the cross because the cross reflects the death of Jesus Christ. In this church, we celebrate a living Christ." 

The priest continued on and asked, "Then what is the symbol of your church?" 

Personally, I had never contemplated this question before. President Hinckley continued, "The symbol our church has are our members [ourselves]". 
Sister Clark

This made me think. What more need have we to represent Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than ourselves? Jesus Christ is a living God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We are living members on the earth. Through us, we reflect to the world who Jesus Christ is, and what he has done for us. I know this Easter Sunday our hearts are turned to Jesus Christ. Let us think a little more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what it means for us. Share your testimony of the Savior this day and become a Saint, a representative of Jesus Christ. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Penang Mall
Week #39: Obedience - April 4, 2017 – April 10, 2017

This week has been good. We've been very very busy teaching lessons, just the way Sister Shafer and I like it. We were also able to listen to General Conference, which has been superb and inspiring. On Sunday, I had a superb study, and I learned more about faith. I have been reading talks from the May 2009 Liahona, and learned the 6 destructive D's, which ultimately lead to disbelief. These 6 things lead into one another, which destroy the faith one has. It came so strong this week to change what I am doing, my behavior, and attitude--give up any doubts and fears--which will ultimately lead to faith and confidence in God and in my mission. This was definitely the eye opener I needed to remember to keep an eye singled on faith and the glory of God.

Durian, not Sister Vranes favorite
One miracle this week was visiting our members. We've been meeting a lot of less active and active families, and giving them the Book of Mormon Reading Chart Challenge. As we've followed up with them, we've discovered many of these families are starting to gain a desire to go to the temple, and are making a conscious effort to read together. Some of these families have children who are almost missionary age. One family, Sister Iswari, has a daughter who is 18 and desires to serve a mission. She has previously gone to the temple, but is starting to desire to go again with her daughter. We're really trying to help her desire and set a goal to go through the temple with her daughter BEFORE her mission. Another set of sisters we discovered desire to go to the temple. They haven't really known each other, not even knowing they lived in the same area, but through us, got to know each other over dinner! They discovered they both have the desire to go to the temple at the end of the year/first of next year. They bonded over that desire, and even started making a pact to help each other! It was amazing!


Wonderfood Museum
Penang has been really starting to grow and it's been superb to see how these members are starting to take the first steps to faith. I realized, I'm having to take my own steps of faith while I am here in this mission. This week I'm really going to work to follow the counsel that others have given me through blessings and to be strictly obedient to the missionary handbook, including exercising hard. I'm learning a lot about faith and the requirements to develop it--OBEDIENCE.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Washing cars with the youth
Week #38: March 28, 2017 – April 3, 2017
It's Conference Weekend! Sadly, I have to wait a week to listen to the prophets and apostles. This is to make sure they're all published online and are translated to Chinese. Anyway, this week for p-day we got massages. It was the nicest thing! Especially when we've been riding bikes for so long.

This week has been great! We've had lots of rain. It literally flooded here. No worries though. Just a quick midday shower for us. Luckily there was a day it did not rain, and we had a car wash with the youth. The Young Men's President gave a superb testimony one Sunday about service. On his mission (which was this mission a few years ago), he gave service to many people by washing their cars. Then he realized, he had not even washed his dad's own car. How much are we willing to serve and give gratitude to other people, but not to the ones closest to us? The members of the church kept joking when would he wash their cars. He, being a complete sweetheart, organized a youth activity to wash the church members' cars. Many of the youth were able to serve their parents by washing their cars. We were invited to help as well--3 hours, 6 cars later, the youth were not only washing the cars, but each other in the end. It was a blast!
Waiting for the rain to stop

This week in church, it was fast and testimony meeting. Many of the members we've been working with are families. We've been trying to get the parents, the mothers and fathers, to become the examples to their children of a family centered in Christ. Well one member came up and started a "Father-Son Challenge". The father came up and bore his testimony, and afterwards challenged his son to bear his own. This started something new, fun, and exciting, to the point another father came up. Many of the youth are girls, strong in the gospel. One thought came to mind afterwards, "The Daughter-Mother Challenge". This is my challenge to you to try one fast and testimony meeting.


Snails