This week has been incredible! I truly have loved being in the SYSA 2nd Ward. I have so many things to say, that I don't know how I can summarize them for you. I truly cannot stop singing the praises of this Ward. I have been on a lot of college Campus's on my Mission and have been to a lot of YSA Wards, but this Ward is the best, hands down. I am not just saying that either, it truly is impressive. I think it all starts with the Bishop, Bishop Chan. He is young, about mid-thirties and a business man. He is so loving and kind, and truly cares for his Ward Members.
I think the next factor is that there is outstanding strong leadership from the Young Single Adults. Most of these people are working for Amazon or Google and have graduated from Ivy Leagues and BYU. They are all driven to succeed and have a drive to do the Lord's work. I think a perfect example was Ward Council yesterday. During Ward Council Bishop Chan moved the meeting right along, got things done, and encouraged the leaders to have that love for the new Ward Members. He started out stating what the purpose of Ward Council was, and that it was to talk about individuals. This was the first Sunday of the new Semester, and he had already met with all of the new Freshman. School has only been in for three days!!!! He went through all of them, stated what their needs were, how we could help, and who he thought would get along with who. He was moving along so fast I almost did not have enough time to write it all down. Man, I loved it! Fast paced, discussing things effectively- I am just a huge fan.
Bishop Chan made an effort to come up to all of the visitors and investigators before Church started, and it impressed me. Really, I will now LOVE and look forward to bringing investigators to Church because I know they will feel welcomed and encouraged. Because this is such an awesome Ward, it is even more encouragement for me to try my best to find people through our own efforts and to help the Ward Members to find people for us to teach. Right now our Area is in a building period where we are putting in place initiatives and procedures so that we can be more successful and efficient in the upcoming weeks with both of these Areas of finding.
One of those initiatives is to have a Member Area Book. The idea is that we are going to have lessons with Members who need help and encouragement doing missionary work. Some do not know how to, so we are planning on role playing with them different scenarios and giving them tips. We will then keep track of their progress in an Area Book, and have the main focus be if they kept their commitments to extend commitments. We want them to know that they succeed when they invite, so that is what we will praise them on. Also, there are quite a few returned missionaries here who are on top of it, and just need extra encouragement. When presented, the idea of additional accountability and quick weekly follow-ups have been excitedly received, and so we know from this idea that it will help the conversion of these members and will hasten the Lord's work in this portion of His vineyard.
My companions are truly incredible. I love Sister Imai. She is such a sweetheart, and a great cook! She has such a desire to serve others and to share this Gospel. She is wonderfully patient with Sister Wawro and I, and is a great missionary. Sister Wawro has been a joy to have! I hope she never gets her Visa to Taiwan! Well, I know it will have to happen eventually, so I guess I hope I can have her for as much of the Transfer as possible. She has a way with people and to truly discern their needs. She also has a wonderful background with Public Relations and is similar to me in different ways, and is a great support system for the work. She has taken the front with inviting and talking to investigators and members! I wish I had been as awesome as she was at the beginning of my Mission.
Working on Red Square has been great, and well, I find that I personally need to find more ways to have conversations with Street Contacting. Needless to say, I cannot just bring up Church History and have people want to listen to me anymore like in Nauvoo! One of the ideas is to have a survey that we ask students to fill out, and to have the questions relate to religion. I also am a believer in that all of God's children need the opportunity to hear God's word, so right now we are also looking for more opportunities to possibly proselyte on Seattle University campus.
So right now we are teaching a lot of the Chinese, and well, haha, my Chinese is very, very basic. I can now say , "Hello, I am a missionary and my name is Sister Hong.", which means red :) I can -ish now understand some Chinese because Sister Wawro says certain phrases so often, but man it is a totally different world! I am at least glad that we can still teach English people otherwise there would be no hope for me.
So going from talents I do not have (speaking Chinese), there is actually a big focus in this mission about using your talents to share the Gospel. Well, for our Area, it is actually HUGE!~ It covers all of downtown Seattle and the U-District, and five universities. The hard thing is that we are not allowed to proselyte on two of them, and the big winner is U of W because there is a big commons Area where we are allowed to proselyte and there are so many Chinese people who attend U of W. We have gone and Street Contacted these past few days, which pretty much means gone and stopped people on their way to class, and get insulted in random languages :) . Well, Sister Wawro and I just felt that there had to be a better way, and so we are putting together our talents for making things happen. Sister Wawro and I both think the biggest problem is that we are stopping people on their way to a destination, whereas we need to become the destination. We want to put together a booth for campus to get traffic and to peak people's curiosity. We have even brainstormed ideas for themes for different days, that way the booth is constantly changing. We have met with our Ward Mission Leader, and another SYSA's Ward Mission Leader, and now have an appointment with the Institute Council to talk about it on Friday. The main consensus is that the booth needs to be run by students, and the booth needs to be focused on drawing people in to have gospel conversations. It takes about 7 exposures to have someone think about an idea, and twice that to start to form questions. We want this booth to be an exposure or a place to reap the rewards! We found out that the Institute had put on a booth before, but it did not have a clear vision and it was not done consistently. So, now the vision is that the booth will attract the elect people that are willing to learn more about the Gospel, and not just about the Institute. Then, when they get there, and if they are interested, the students can introduce us since we will be right there on Red Square! We are very excited and so far it has been well received, and so hopefully I will have more to report on next week.
So, a MIRACLE happened this week! I was walking along U-Dubb (University of Washington) campus and Sister Wawro and I needed to find the Administrative building. We felt that we should go up to a group of students and ask them for directions, and so we did, and I looked across the group, and BAM! I saw Irene Shieh from Timpview! We were lab partners in AP Biology, and we were pretty good friends! It was a total blast from the past, and we just ran towards each other and hugged each other for the longest time. Her friends and Sister Wawro had no idea what was going on, so Sister Wawro just started talking to Irene's friends in Chinese. Irene and I caught up, and it was just so good to see her. She is from Taiwan, and is the cutest thing! She was the person who explained to me about Chinese characters and a lot about the culture my Senior Year of High School. She is doing so well, and is just a great person. I am going to try to invite her to General Conference and watch it with her this next Saturday.
So we are emailing with the other Elders in our District today, and I have to quote the District Leader, Elder Carpenter. First off, he is hilarious! He has wit, which I truly appreciate. He tries to build up people, and is just an adorable little Elder. So, needless to say, a great District Leader. He just barely said aloud, " Well, my Grandma sent me an email that said that if we truly do not develop and use our talents for the furthering of the Lord's kingdom, we will inherit the Terrestrial Kingdom......... Well, good thing we are working on the Booth!" Haha! I love it!
This week has been awesome, and I have loved it! Seattle is crazy beautiful, I love the city, and the members rock. I hope you all have a good week!