Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29, 2015

Another baptism this week! We completed the couple - Tony and Tina, so now they're both members.  Can't wait to go to the Temple with them for their Temple sealing. As always, it was great listening to him sharing his testimony at the end of the meeting.  His wife gave a talk about the Holy Ghost.  They're going through a lot of trials right now, but she has a great outlook.  She said God gives her these trials to help her learn and grow.  That's how you succeed!

During a visit with one of our investigator families this week, he found out that sometimes our phone doesn't receive text messages.  So he tried to give us a phone, but we couldn't take it.  Sometimes Chinese people are too nice!  When he found out we had to help some people move houses, he tried to get us to use his truck that he just bought but doesn't drive, because it's not convenient.  Unfortunately we had to turn that offer down too.  

Recently, looking at all the recent converts we've been blessed with, I can't help but to comment on how people can change.  A lot of people will say, "oh no, people can't change," but that's totally opposite of reality.  I've seen it, people leaving their past behind, leaving their mistakes behind and changing, becoming a new person.  Just talking with one of our recent converts this past week, and comparing him to where he was months ago, they just have this light in their eyes and their countenance is so bright - the future seems limitless and they're just moving forward.

Introducing the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement to people is what has allowed them to get this light in their eyes, this joy in their homes, and this peace in their hearts.  It's just so incredible to witness firsthand and I'm so grateful to have this opportunity out here in 100+ degree Riverside

Husband's baptism makes for a complete member family

Elder Merriman, Elder Dyer, Tony, Elder Murray, Elder Zeng

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 22, 2015

We went to a Kindergarten orientation night with an investigator this past week.  It was fun reliving some childhood memories.  I really admire the teachers, can't believe they put up with not only the kids, but the parents!  The parents are more of a hassle than the kids!

David, one of our recent converts in Riverside was heading back to China, so he invited us over to his house to help him clean out his fridge... by eating all the food in it.  So huge meal with him.  Too stuffed.  

We got to go to the Temple too which is always fun.

We had lots of Chinese food, even meat sticks! It felt like I was back in Shanghai eating "lamb" (rat?) meat on the sidewalk.  

Sunday was Dragon Boat Festival so we got some Zong Zi's (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves] at the Chinese market.  So we cooked those up, and made some cold noodles.  I voted to just put them in the fridge to cool them, but Elder Zeng said I couldn't so I stood there with a mini fan cooling them down.

When we met with Tony and Tina this past week (Tina got baptized last month and Tony is getting baptized next Saturday), we talked about having a Temple sealing.  Tina especially, is really excited to go to the Temple.  It's the best feeling to see your investigators/recent converts have their own desire to do things like be sealed to allow them to be families together forever!

Davids' house - helping him clean out his refrigerator

David's house 2 

Temple with the Chinese-speaking missionaries

Meat sticks!!! am I back in Shanghai? 

Busy kitchen - cooling the noodles with a mini fan (Elder Zeng said we couldn't use a fridge)

Cold noodles and Zong Zi Party (and gross salty duck egg that Elder Zeng bought too)

Brown woo! - all the way in Eastvale, CA

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 15, 2015

During an English class we were teaching this past week, we reviewed some airport and airplane vocabulary.  Suffice it to say that I miss flying a lot.  I haven't been on a plane in almost a year!

We had a nice workout, climbing Mt. Rubidoux again, with some recent converts from Riverside.  It's fun to hang out with them.  It feels like we've created a social club with our members at UCR because they're all really good friends with each other!

Elder Murray and I were walking in a neighborhood the other day when this car pulls up and this young guy tells us, "I wouldn't go down that street if I were you."

"Why not" we ask.

"Because I live there."

So we're just kind of like what?... and he says Jesus Christ's teachings are bad and he doesn't have time to teach us how to be smart... Really weird.  So he drives off and we keep walking and he pulls back around and tells us using a lot of expletives to get out.  Kind of weird, but, whatever... 

Elder Murray being Elder Murray told him we'd call the cops and he was like "Do it, I don't care, write down my license plate." So I obviously thought, hey good idea, so I wrote it down.  I don't know what for, but... it was just a weird interaction with this guy.

At church on Sunday, Elder Murray was translating a talk of a recently returned missionary (from Guatemala).  At the end, she said she would bear her testimony in Spanish, so Elder Murray just said, sorry she's about to speak Spanish.  Thank you Mr. Capilla from SAS, because I grabbed the headset and translated it.  Not saying my translation was perfect, but she was using pretty easy Spanish words and I got most of it.  It was cool!

It's always fun talking to our investigators, who, while they're not baptized yet, they talk about the church using "our church." So "our church" does this or that.  Even defending it when other people are all like "CULT!!!"

We had a member of the Seventy (church general authority) come and visit.  It was amazing because [he] was just full of love and humility – [we felt] that he loved us and wanted to help us succeed.  We had a couple of special leadership meetings with him and he talked about how this training we get now will help us become effective ministering leaders in the church in the future.  He talked about how when you're on the stand, you should look into the eyes of all your members (missionaries in our case - he had us sit on the stand for a bit) and discern their needs/concerns.  He said in D&C 43:8-9 when it says act, it's not how to behave, it's to go out and DO.  We are beings that are meant to act not get acted upon.  He said to be quick to observe and quick to act.  He mentioned how enduring to the end is not simply hanging on - it's acting and continually using the enabling power of the Atonement to become better

One thing that showed his humility was sharing the stories that helped him learn a certain principle in his life.  For example, he told us not to wait for someone else to change the mission. "Don't hope that THEY will change it, THEY means US". He learned that through the mistake of not taking action with this certain temple building assignment. He shared his own weaknesses to help us be better.  

Something interesting that he mentioned was that oftentimes, missionaries are not assigned to a mission but to a mission president - to help him achieve.  

He also mentioned Elder Packer's "doctrine of proximity" – that sometimes you have to go to the place and be with the people to discern their needs. I loved his phrase "in the LDS church, we do hard things".

Beautiful Riverside!

Chillin' on a rock

So Chinese

With Elder Murray and David

With Li Tuo in front of the huge cross

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 8, 2015

So I've decided again, that instead of returning to Brown, I will be pursuing my lifetime dream of opening a bakery that doubles as a barbershop.  My cookies are getting even better because we've been blessed with so many baptisms recently! 

There can be miracles! If you believe! We had two miracle baptisms this past week.  Remember when we got a baptism "taken away" by the Irvine missionaries when one of our investigators moved there? Well we just got paid back two-fold, karma is real! The Liang family moved into Eastvale about three weeks ago.  The son was already baptized, but the parents hadn't been yet.  So we taught them two lessons, and the second one they told us, hey we're getting baptized on Sunday! So after a long process which involved our mission president talking with the Arcadia mission president, we got permission to go attend the baptism in Hacienda Heights on Sunday.  They have a Chinese ward and that place is SO Chinese. All the street signs and everything! It was cool seeing another mission, and the missionaries there, and their iPads!

I've found that the most fulfilling moments in the teaching process as a missionary, is when they share their testimonies at the baptisms.  It's kind of like seeing your children graduate (because I know what that feels like) when they get up there on their own and share about why they were baptized.  At Ryan's baptism, he talked about how at the start he just thought the missionaries were nice people that seemed a little "different" from normal 19/20 year olds in how willing we were to offer service.  Then he said we gave him the Book of Mormon and taught him about the church and now it's his desire to raise his son in a church family and have them get the blessings that come with being in the church as a family.  

Flipping scallion pancakes with my cookies cooling in the background and radish cakes in the other pan

Ready to flip

I'm opening a bakery in conjunction with my barbershop!

Ryan's baptism picture!

Hacienda Heights - mini China

Monday, June 1, 2015

June 1, 2015

Tragedy strikes Elder Dyer again.  I lost my second son to Child Protective Services.  I feel like my son was in 10th grade, and told me he wanted to skip 11th and 12th, and just go straight to college!  No fun, so much left to teach him!  I got called to be a Zone Leader with Elder Murray so I have to give Elder Zeng up.  Elder Merriman is going to be continuing [Elder Zeng’s] training.  My highlight with [Elder Zeng] last week was him filling up the car with gas all by himself.  Had to shed a tear, it was a monumental moment in his life.  

In other news.  Tina was baptized on Sunday night.  We made cookies again, and the members say they're getting better and better! Secret ingredient: butter and more butter. 

Another one of our investigators postponed his baptism a week so his wife and son could get formal clothes.  I guess that's okay... 

We went with a member's wife (she's not a member - yet) to the park with her kids because her husband wasn't home when we dropped by.  We walked the puppy for them.  I think the Church should look into getting their missionaries puppies - because I can guarantee you it increases the amount of people that are willing to talk to you by like a million percent.  

Pretty much all of our investigators that are renting rooms in other people's houses can't meet at their house anymore.  All of the land lords no longer like us.  Not because we're rude or anything.  There's a Chinese Christian church nearby that's all about bashin' on the Mormons.  We have horns, we're polygamists, we'll chop off your arm if you leave the church after joining.  Oh wait, no we won't... It's really annoying though.  Props to the investigators and members though, they keep coming strong and kind of think the general "fear" of our church is a bit ridiculous.

I really admire our investigators because they stick with us and keep coming to church even though my translation is terrible.  Imagine if you had someone who's English wasn't even that good, translating your church services or whatever - I'd get a bit tired...

Elder Zeng being pulled by a member's puppy

With Tina for her baptism

Jarupa Zone!

Being with a companion from Sichuan means you obviously have to sample cookies with spicy fillings

Our beautiful cookie arrangement for the baptism