Saturday, January 28, 2017

Week #28 - Just Sing: January 17, 2017 – January 23, 2017

Sisters Vranes and Shaffer
This week I got a new companion! Her name is Sister Shafer, from Springville, UT. I had previously gotten to know her for 3 weeks in the MTC, before she left for the mission field. It has been great to see a familiar face, and to get to know each other better. She's super sweet and kind! Her Chinese is AMAZING! She's been serving in East Malaysia this whole time, and finally came to Penang, home of her two previous companions. 

This week has been a great week with Sister Shafer! We have been working to organize ourselves and set a vision for this transfer. We've decided we are going to continue working with the members as well as focus more on the youth. Two missionaries returned to Penang from their mission in the Singapore Mission, serving in East Malaysia their whole missions. One of the highlights for me this week was seeing the missionaries from Penang Branch, Sister Soon and
Penang at night
Sister Lim, return home from their missions. Many people spoke so highly of them that I was beyond excited to finally meet them. It was a very tender moment to see them come home and be welcomed into the arm of their families!! I'll admit, I teared up a bit. That's one thing missions do, make one more prone to cry. It's absolutely awful because I cry a lot more now! One miracle that occurred this week was calling all of the less actives in the Branch on the phone with the recently returned home Sister Soon, and singing hymns while waiting for Sister Shafer to come to Penang. It was amazing to see how calling them, with different intentions to share music over the phone, had softened so many hearts. Many wanted to set up appointments to meet. That just showed me more of the power of music. Hymns truly change and soften hearts. They also can change thoughts and moods. Next time you are having a hard day or are in a bad mood, sing a hymn.
Food of Penang

Food of Penang

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ipoh Zone at Monkey Beach
Week #27 - Transfer Accomplished: January 9, 2017 - January16, 2017

It's that time again. Yep, you guessed it, TRANSFERS. Luckily, I am staying in Penang, as well as getting a companion whom I already met in the MTC, and is super sweet. This week, our Zone went to Monkey Beach... except we didn't make it. The hike was too long so we stopped in a nice area, and ended up feeding monkeys! The elders had some pow, and we found the monkeys when they stole one of the elder’s pow. Afterwards, the monkeys continued their search until all of the pow, bread, and nuts, we had brought were gone. We left after having a great time together. 

Sister Vranes feeding a monkey
As for miracles this week, I can confidently say, "Transfer accomplished!" For the past transfer, we had been trying to accomplish a goal of no dead time (or be so busy with lessons we cannot contact), as well as achieve at least 15 potential investigators, with a final transfer goal of 90 potential investigators. Each week, we had set certain goals, but were a few short of the mark. It was frustrating! What were we doing wrong? We were obedient. We were trying to talk with people as honest children of God. We worked hard and had a desire to do the work. We prayed like crazy. When it seemed we weren't going to be able to make our goals, our prayers were answered. We were able to teach so many lessons that we were going crazy trying to fit people into our schedule. We were also able to finally achieve 15 potential investigators. So, what does this mean? Well two things. First, our perspective had to change. We had to learn to use the power of the
Sisters Vranes and Durham at Monkey Beach
Atonement and prayer to change us and soften the hearts of those we met. In this time, it was a waiting period on God's timetable that taught us many lessons. Second, God answers prayers in His

own time. It may seem rote, but it is true. Sometimes, He answers when He thinks we are ready to
receive the answer. Other times, He answers when others are ready to receive an answer to their own prayers. God's timing is true. He always answers our prayers, whether the answer comes quickly, or whether we need to wait for the answer. His love for us is perfect. He knows and loves each of us, and is aware of our needs and desires. I know this is true. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Week #26 – Forgive and Forget: January 3, 2017 – January 8, 2017

Ipoh Zone at Batu Ferringhi Beach
This week has been superb! The missionaries gathered together and had a great Zone Meeting as the Ipoh Zone. Missionaries from Ipoh, Butterworth, and Sitiawan came to Penang. We went to go to Batu Ferringhi Beach and had a great time. We learned how to contact better, and brainstorm ways to work with the reasons we hear around Ipoh Zone for not wanting to hear the gospel. We officially ended Zone meeting with the sisters having a Tim-Tam slam in our apartment. Attached are pictures of how to do it.  Another great thing this week was that we had a baptism! That made us really excited for the start of the year and for Penang Branch. 

As for a miracle this week, we were able to drop two investigators. Now that seems like it wouldn't be a good thing, but it taught me the principles of
Step 1: Get Tim Tams and Hot Chocolate
forgiving and forgetting. The video I shared last week was "Look Not Behind". Up until now, we had two investigators who were very old, and not wanting to progress. As we spent time with them, there was an incident where one of the investigators hurt us badly by yelling at us. Over time, we visited her and she welcomed us back. However, we felt that we had to officially drop her as an investigator. For me, that was my first investigator who truly hurt my heart. We had taught her so much, and I had truly loved her. To see her turn on us so fast was heartbreaking. Over time, I had to learn how to let go of my hurt, and to forgive her. During one of the last times that we visited her, I felt an overwhelming
Step 2: Bite off opposite ends of the cookie
feeling of love and peace again. I felt compassion and understanding, as well as how precious a daughter she is to God. That was truly one of the miracles I experienced this week. I know that I could not feel that love and compassion without the help of the Savior. I know that through the Atonement, we can be truly healed. When people in life hurt us, it is easy to not forgive them, hold a grudge, and avoid them at all costs. However, that is not what Heavenly Father expects of us. He expects us to forgive anyone and everyone. At times, it seems difficult--almost impossible! However, I know the Atonement makes it possible to forgive AND forget. So if there is anything you are holding onto? I hope you decide today to use the Atonement and to let it heal you.
Step 3: Drink hot chocolate through the Tim Tam

Step 4: Eat the Tim Tam

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sister Durham and Vranes
Week #25 - Field Week 25: December 27, 2016 - January 2, 2017

Happy New Years!!

This week we've been able to share with people New Years' Resolutions. Many people in Malaysia celebrate Chinese New Year rather than the New Year, 2017. For Chinese New Year, many people don't make New Years' resolutions.  I know at home, many of us look back on our lives in the past year, and wonder how we could improve them the next year. So I would like to share this video called "Look Not Behind Thee" on

If any of you did the challenge from my last entry about giving God a gift, I would invite you to make that gift a New Year's Resolution. Make little goals along this new year to be able to fully give God the gift by next Christmas. As I've looked back on this year, so much has changed, and yet, there is still so much I would like to change. This is the time of year to do just that. Stop making excuses and saying, "I wish". Do it!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Week #24 – Christmas Gifts: December 20, 2016 – December 26, 2016

Penang Branch Christmas Party
As expected, my thoughts this week have been turned towards Christmas and the Savior. In church, I was given the opportunity to give a talk, the topic was John 3:17, which states: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." As I was preparing for the talk, I was wondering, how this relates to Christmas. What is the true meaning of Christmas? I was flipping through the LDS hymnbook and noticed that all of the Christmas songs include words such as "joyful", "triumphant", "praise", "hallelujah", "rejoice", etc. The tone behind these songs are joyful, expectant, and anticipating. What are we really singing during these songs? What are we really praising? We are singing the birth of Jesus Christ. Why is it so significant that Jesus was born? It is because He gave the greatest gift known to man. He gave us the gift of the atonement. As missionaries, we share that the atonement has three parts: Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ's death on the cross, Christ's resurrection. So why are these significant? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ suffered the sins of everyone. On the cross, Christ completed everything his Father asked him to do--he finished his Father's will. When Christ was resurrected, he overcame death. He made the greatest miracles come to pass and made it possible for us to live with God again. Because of this, we have a reason to celebrate! We have a reason to sing praises! We have a reason to rejoice!
Sister Vranes and Durham
with a member

As we've contacted people in Penang, we've had the pleasure to share the true meaning of Christmas. So think about these next few questions: Why do we give gifts on Christmas? How do you feel when you get a gift? If you could have any gift this year, what would you like to receive? How do you feel when you give a gift? If you could give anyone any gift, what would you give? You know that God can give any gift. This year, what gift would you like God to give you? This year, what are you willing to give to God? I challenge you to make your gift to God a New Year's Resolution and to keep it!