Saturday, August 26, 2017

Week #58: My first baby!!: August 15, 2017 – August 21, 2017 (Miri)

This mission is being taken over by greenies and giants! I just had a baby and her name is Sister Sorensen. She is from Springville, Utah, and straight from the states. She is blond, 6'1'', and AMAZING! She is seriously the sweetest. In Miri, we had a plan that I would only speak Chinese for the first two days (there was even food at stake). Sister Steele thought I would last 20 minutes...I lasted 2 seconds! I was just so so excited!! If you haven't already guessed, she's a basketball player. She also plays the harp and goes to BYU. Haha, she actually had found and stalked my blog a bit before coming into Singapore and thought how crazy it would be if I were her trainer #imfamous. Straight off the plane, she was ready to get to work. I can tell it's going to be a great transfer!

Anyways, this week has been crazy. On Monday, we found out about transfers. Sister Steele and I found out we were having babies! It turns out I know her baby, Sister Joylyn Hansen, because we went to Chinese camp together. I was surprised when I found out she was coming into the mission. I saw it in President Simmons' office (my mission president). I was so excited and told him I knew her. President really has a sense of humor, because I became a trainer, but not to my friend. That's ok. I knew it would happen. On Wednesday, Sister Steele left the home at 9 am to catch an 11 am flight. It was a slow day at first, but then at 2 pm you'll never guess who came to the home, Sister Steele! I couldn't believe it! I had to wipe my eyes to make sure they weren't deceiving me. It turns out her flight was at We spent the rest of the day together, but she had none of her stuff; they were already checked into the airline. We took apart her bike and finished the area book and preparing the area together.

On Thursday, my greenie arrived!! We have 4 new missionaries in Miri. I went to the airport with the senior couple to pick up 3 of them when they flew in from Singapore (the other one arrived a lot later). The elders didn't get to pick their new missionaries up, but I did #score! While they were waiting for their luggage, I saw three white tall (like 6 foot tall) missionaries and tried to get stalker photos. Unfortunately, all of my photos turned out blurry (and now they can't upload to the computer, sorry). Anyways, they came out, were dead tired, but were ready to work. I loved it!!

The rest of the week has been normal missionary work. Sister Sorensen made it to her first Sunday! That's all it really takes in all the new phases of missionary work to get used to it. Of course, there will be a lot more for her to get used to, the culture of Malaysia, for sure! Sister Sorensen is just amazing and I love her!

As for a spiritual thought, happiness is a choice. I'm learning that more and more every  day. Just as happiness is a choice, thoughts are choices. Anything that is good, kind, and happy is from God. Thoughts that are not, come from Satan. As a wise district leader of mine once said, "Sadness and depression are not eternal principles". Don't let Satan overcome and don't let him in. Choose to think happy, choose to act happy, choose to BE happy. If any of you have seen Disney's Hercules, there is a scene where Hercules has just rescued Meg, Hades tries to make Hercules unhappy and think differently, but Hercules just back punches him in the face. My trainer always talked about this scene. When Satan comes into your life, just tell him to "be quiet" and back punch him in the face (watch the movie for added effect). 

I love you all!
Sister Sorensen

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trying to find the right house number
Week #57: Blessings are everywhere: August 8, 2017 - August 14, 2017

This week was full of miracles! One day, we were trying to find a bunch of less active members that lived near the church. These members have already been searched for, but not found. We said a prayer that day, took our bikes, and went on our way. Within less than 5 minutes, we already found the first less active. Unfortunately, they had moved away overseas, but we were able to contact their sister-in-law. She was really nice and sweet. We found out during the rest of the day, that the members we were in search of had actually moved a while ago. We were able to contact so many great people: a lady who owned a cute cafe and she likes to sing and dance, a cute Chinese family with 3 kids, and a man from New Jersey but has lived all over the world (including Afghanistan). It was a very fun and eventful day. 

The next day was a miracle of a lifetime. It was very late at night and we were biking home in the rain. The place we were at was 40 minutes away from our home, on a good, sunny day. When we started, my bike seat was starting to move, and with each pedal, would move side-to-side. Then my handle bars started to come loose. At one point, it
Eating a BIG bowl of noodles
had tipped all the way to the side. I had to pull over a few times to move it to the center. After 10 minutes, my light started to indicate that it was going to die, unless I charged it. I started to pray really hard for my companion and I to be safe. After a few pull-overs and readjustments, I hear my companion yell, "It's Liew!" He is her recent convert from a year ago when she was first in Miri. He had a giant green truck, his wife in the front seat, and ropes for our bikes. He saved our lives! It was a miracle! They tied our bikes down, we got in the truck, and we were happily driven home. The power of prayer is truly amazing.

The next day, was what seemed a very unsuccessful day. Miri is known for it's dry, hot weather. It's still humid like crazy, but more dry, kind of reminds me of St. George, Utah. It's also notorious for never raining, and no wind, not even if you're biking fast enough you should catch wind. However, Miri has been bipolar, it's rained almost every day since I've gotten here, and there is lots of wind that fights back (but it's ok because it's natural air conditioning). On this particular day, there was no rain, but lots and lots of sun and wind. We were trying to visit more members we had felt needed our help that day. As we stopped by, no one was home. By the time it was 5 o'clock, we were drained. We were biking to our next home when we were chased by dogs (pretty common in East Malaysia). Then one of the dogs near the end of the street turned around and fought the other dogs off. It was a miracle! Blessings kept pouring after that. As we were riding, I got a picture of the beautiful sunset. It was as if God was smiling down and saying, "You're doing good.
The perks of being petite
Keep trying!" We had arrived to this home early (and had to wait for another member to arrive), and started to play futsol with the members' neighbor, the cutest 8 and 5 year olds! It was a great way to be in the right mood again (too bad they only spoke Malay). The lesson got a raincheck, but we were able to meet a long time less active and contact him. On the way back, our member was able to drive next to us as we left the neighborhood to protect us from the dogs. Blessings brighten when you count them, and there are many.

Lately, I have been studying families with my companion. We had one of our investigators ask from the Restoration pamphlet, "How does the gospel of Jesus Christ strengthen families? How is it done? What do you do?" Well that seemed like an easy question - every day hold family prayer, family scripture study, go to church as a family, hold FHE every Monday night, and other basic primary answers. Little did I know that this question would keep popping up everywhere. In District Meeting on Tuesday, a meeting held every week for missionaries to be trained and learn how to become better missionaries, we answered questions of the soul, such as, "Why are families so important?"

My companion shared a talk with me called, "Teach Them to Understand" by Elder David A. Bednar. This is a tremendous talk where Elder Bednar answers the question: "Why is the home so crucial for gospel instruction?" I will not give any spoilers here, but if you've ever had any thoughts or questions about your family now or in the future, I would highly recommend reading this talk. Find it, learn from it, and implement it :)

I hope you all take care and be safe!
Elder  Schwemmer's good-bye party

Sunday, August 13, 2017

So sad, we ended up in a Muslim Cemetery.
Week #56: The Good and The Bad: August 1, 2017 – August 7, 2017(Miri)

Hi Friends and Family! 

This week was a great week! We got a new investigator last week who we passed a Book of Mormon, she read it every day, texted us a verse a day, came to church last week, but didn't want to meet. We were perplexed. She even wanted to share a small 2 minute talk in Church. Thankfully, that was our lead in and we were able to meet her not only once this week, but twice! MIracles! She came to church this week, fasted with us, and even shared her testimony in church. She's awesome! 

"Celestial Kingdom" Mattresses
One day, we were having a slow day, and decided to follow the Spirit to where we needed to be. The first time, we ended up in a cemetery. Not just any cemetery, but a Muslim cemetery. We quickly got out of there. The second time, we ended up in a neighborhood. Some sisters called us and we got bit by mosquitos like 50 million times. We also got out of there. The third time, we found a girl, but she was Muslim...but not wearing a hijab. It guess it just wasn't meant to be that day.

On another day, we were with a member who only comes back to the area every 4 months or so to take care of their mom who is getting older now. This member knows everything about the branch and had taken us around to meet less actives and meet their nonmember friends. One of the friends we were introduced to owns a mattress store. Her shop had a mattress brand called the "Celestial Kingdom". What better way to start a conversation than through a mattress?? Haha.

Celebrating Sister Hoeft's birthday.
We also had a birthday this week. It was Sister Hoeft's. She loves her birthday and told everyone when it was coming up. She loves celebrations! She basically had all that she really needed/wanted so we didn't know what to do. Then Sister Steele came up with an ingenious idea. Sister Hoeft is a jokester and she loves presents. We wrapped all of Sister Hoeft's stuff in newspaper, desk, bed, and dresser included. We also wrapped her presents in newspaper, so she had to unwrap everything to find them. She loved it! Everything was like a mini gift for her. The other sisters made a chocolate cheescake, and decorated her study doorway with quotes she says all the time. 

Anyway, one thing that helped my faith grow in the power of prayer and fasting this week, was losing our phone yesterday. After church, we weren't sure where it was. We thought it might be in a member's car that had helped us to bring our investigator to church. When we realized we had a problem, we both immediately prayed, and made it part of our fast. The member had already left, but we felt an overwhelming sense of calm and peace. We were sure it was in the member's car. After the reassurance by the Spirit, we continued to focus on our missionary work. The phone didn't show up immediately. The member was too far away for the things we had planned that day, so we continued to work hard, according to the plans made that morning. That night, as we were about to prepare dinner, miracles happened! First, a member came to our home to drop off some food. Second, the member whose car we thought we had left our phone in, came to our home to drop it off. Miracles! It showed me the power of prayer and the Holy Ghost to give feelings of comfort and peace. It also showed me that the Lord blesses His children for doing His work.

Helping a member with their new puppies.
On Sunday, we gave a lesson in Gospel Doctrine about adversity. The branch has been through Gospel Principles so many times that they got bored, so we studying gospel doctrine. The book we are studying about is Doctrine and Covenants. This is a series of revelations given to Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this lesson we discussed Doctrine and Covenants, section 121-122. The title is, "O God, Where Art Thou?" In this time, Joseph Smith and other church leaders were jailed for six months without any accusations nor reasons given. They were abused, cold, marched, confined in a small space, and had very little interaction with the outside world. It would be easy to say, "Why Me?" Yet, Joseph Smith never did. Instead, He understood the Lord and His purposes. President Brigham Young said, "Joseph Smith progressed toward perfection more in thirty-eight years because of his trials than he would have been able to do in a thousand years without them." Many of us experience trials today. Adversity is hard to overcome. I know that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle. We need Him to help us today. Think of where you would be without the trials you have. Where would you be? I know I wouldn't be the same person. For that, I am grateful for my trials. I invite you today to look to God for help. He knows the way and He will show you how.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: The Sisters in Miri, all wearing the same pair of levis.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Zone Conference in Singapore - Sarawak District
Week #55: Be an Instrument of the Lord: July 24, 2017 – July 31, 2017 (Miri)

I'm so sorry for the last week! When we landed in Singapore, everyone had a list of things they wanted to do. One the good side, I got to finally see quite a bit in Singapore. We went to see these giant trees that are gorgeous at night. I had seen them earlier on an exchange in Singapore, but I got to see them again and they were extravagant. We then went to Chinatown where we got to shop and we were going to eat Mexican food, but the shop was closed. So sad. We had a very good Zone Conference on Teaching Repentance by the Spirit. It was very inspiring. I learned a lot personally. We did a lot of role plays (which we do like every other day in this mission), and it was a real treat to finally see a role play by President and Sister Simmons. We got to see how they taught, and that they even messed up at times. At the end of Zone Conference, we usually have an activity. In the past, activities have included rely races, volleyball, etc. This time, our activity was seeing the lightshow in Singapore. It reminded me of the water light show in Disneyland, California. It was amazing! We then ran to get some llaollao (yogurt from Spain), and then went home.
Sight Seeing in Singapore
After Zone Conference, we got to stay another day to have exchanges. I got to go on exchanges with Sister Welling (the STL from Bountiful, Utah). It was lots of fun, and I got treated so well. Every STL knows my love for ice cream, so I got a real treat by going to Cold Stone. We contacted a lot of people and taught an amazing lesson on the Book of Mormon, and how it answers any question. I love love love the Book of Mormon, and I know it truly answers every question. In Singapore, we found out about a new change to the mission. In the Singapore Mission, we have 3 languages, English, Chinese, and Malay speaking missionaries. Now, missionaries assigned to the Singapore Mission will only be assigned Mandarin or Malay, no English. Although most of the mission here is English, we will all be learning so that we have more areas that we can serve. Before, English missionaries served only in West Malaysia, Malay missionaries served only in East Malaysia, and Mandarin missionaries served everywhere. It will be a great change to the mission. We will still be speaking English, as well as learning new languages in this mission! :)

The rest of the week was a bit more uneventful. When we returned, it was a bit slow in Miri. We were trying to contact our investigators again, but none of them were picking up. It was hard. On Saturday, our recent convert biked with us most of the day. It was lots of fun! She had the spirit of missionary work very strong in her. I don't remember much about the week before, so I'm sorry.

One thing I learned this week was the topic "Be an instrument of the Lord". This is actually a picture quote I put on my companion's planner that I made for her. There is this video that made me really think of what is most important. Most of us think time is one of the most precious gifts we have in the world. The next question is how do we use it? Do we use it wisely? Do we make time for the things that really matter? Today, make a list of the things that take your time. Add the things you would like to do to your list. Now, add numbers starting from 1 up to give an
Sight seeing in Singapore
order of importance to YOU, not to how much time you think you have. I was reading a talk this morning from the April 2015 General Conference, "The Comforter" by President Henry B. Eyring. President Eyring talks about the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift is given by proper priesthood authority after baptism by the laying on of hands, and conferred by the power of God. Often we think this gift is for us, and it is, but it is also for us to become instruments in the hands of the Lord to help bless and comfort others. The Holy Ghost is given so we may give service. I invite you today to read this talk and watch this video. Take time to do something that will change your outlook on life and priorities. In the words of Elder Richard G. Scott, "Decide to do something that will have eternal consequences". Be an instrument of the Lord.