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.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Week #37: March 21, 2017 – March 27, 2017

This week has been a blur! For two days, we were in Ipoh for Zone Meeting. We were able to learn more about goals, and we set more goals as a District, to have a unified vision. Upon our return, we had exchanges. This is a time where us missionaries go with another sister companion, who is a Sister Training Leader (STL), and learn how we can improve individually and help our area. I learned a lot about getting right down to it, and getting to work. Often times we hear, "Just Do It!" Many times we procrastinate what we need to do because we are scared or lazy. However, we often find that we spent more time and energy avoiding the problem than it would have taken to just do it. This is my challenge to you today. Get up, and get to work!  On Sunday, President Simmons (my mission President) and his wife came to the branch to visit. They gave superb talks about charity.

In studies, I read an article, "The War Goes On", in the April 2017 Liahona. This talks a lot about the war in Heaven, and the war that still goes on today. This tell us more about the origin of Satan, and why he became the devil. It points out 4 tactics Satan uses to get to us, and how we may better recognize and fight them.  These tactics include temptation, lies and deception, contention, and discouragement. When we recognize these are the ways Satan gets to us, then can we recognize how we can get him out of our lives--how we can get him to stop influencing us. There are often ways we can stop his influence, but it won't be complete without the Savior. Don't forget to use the Atonement! I know that the Plan of Salvation IS the Plan of Happiness. Keep trying, keep fighting, and keep being faithful!

Zone Conference for Kuala Lempur and Ipoh Zones