Monday, February 11, 2013

My Heart Is Full ...the last post

I felt like this week was a very full week. More like, my heart was full. 

We met with Arnie. His heart has truly changed. He brought out some very good questions about Joseph Smith and his role in restoring the Gospel. A strong and sweet spirit was there the entire lesson. He talked about wanting to share this Gospel with others, even though he is not a missionary or a member of the Church, but just "as a Christian" he feels a desire to extend God's love to those around him. His heart has this soft, gooey, spiritual center. We got his parents' address to send missionaries to them--Arnie feels this is the will of God, and he hopes to be baptized with them. He said, though, that if they don't accept, he would still step forward himself (to be baptized). The Spirit was so strong. It was one of those lessons where I felt incredibly blessed to be a missionary. I told Arnie at the end that I wouldn't be seeing him again, and he shook my hand with the most warmth and love I have ever seen in his eyes. He said he was grateful that he got to meet me. I cannot believe the warmth I saw in his eyes, and I will never forget it. 

There is a less-active member named Melba that we've been visiting lately. After several years of being away, she really wants to repent and come back to Church. We visited her and only got to speak with her at the doorstep (she is a domestic helper, so it's not her house), but we talked to her about the Atonement and God's love for her. She expressed a desire to do her family's Temple work, and we talked about that for a while. It's hard to describe, but I felt the Spirit really strongly as we told her that Heavenly Father loves her deeply and would strengthen her as she takes steps toward full activity in His Church again. It was impossible not to feel incredible love for Sister Melba.

Sunday was really emotional for me. I got to see Julius (new member I taught, the one from India) in the hallway before church, but I didn't get to talk to him because Sacrament Meeting was starting and he is in another ward. So we just waved and smiled goodbye to each other. I then sat down and cried through the opening song, praying that God would continue to take care of Julius. I was already weepy and then Bishop Osumo announced that it was my last Sunday, and he asked me to give a short testimony, which I weepily did. My heart was just full of love for these people and a heartfelt prayer that God will take care of them, that they will take care of each other.

I'm so grateful that God sent me here. I feel so blessed. I know that God loves each and every one of us. Jesus is the Christ. He lives today and guides this Church through a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. The heavens are open.

Sister Gopinath

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tender Mercies

This week was different. I spent most of it sleeping and trying to recover. I was blessed to be able to go out after three days and teach a lesson with Sister Ballantyne, though I barely made it through the lesson and even then, I only made it through that lesson successfully because of divine help. My head was so "clogged" and I was so drowsy (my ears were even stuffed so I couldn't hear) but somehow I was able to teach and Sister Ballantyne said that the investigator opened up a lot more than he had their first lesson. So that was a miracle. We talked about the Book of Mormon, and receiving answers to prayers. Even through my fog of sickness, I could feel the Spirit guiding the lesson and what I was saying/asking. I felt happy to teach, and also happy to go to bed that night. Tender mercy.

Church yesterday was great as well. Arnie, an investigator I talked about a few months ago, has decided he wants to send missionaries to his family (his family is moving to Ohio very soon) and he wants to all be baptized together. It is a steep goal but it's a breakthrough because he came out and told us that himself, without us probing at all. He was saying how he comes to church every week and learns something new every time. He also faithfully attends Institute every week with his girlfriend (a member), and finds it very inspiring and enriching. It's taken him over a year, but he's now come out and said that he'd like to be baptized. Now we have to work on his family and help him with any concerns that come out of that, but it's such progress from where he's been. I was so happy and excited. 

I will save all of the mushy and painful feelings about leaving soon for the next email. Haha. It hasn't really, really hit me. I still feel like a missionary. At church, I felt and acted like I always do. I'm grateful to be here.

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, January 27, 2013

These People Have Touched My Heart

This week was a little different! I'll write about one highlight. I got to go on my last visit to Malaysia, to spend some time helping the senior couple in Johor Bahru (this is a regular thing that all the Singapore missionaries do). I was there for two days, and we got to teach some recent converts that Sister Crichton taught! The picture I've attached is of Sister Kimon. She and I got along really well. She's Iban, but she also speaks beautiful Malay, so the senior couple taught a lesson about the Temple and I helped translate (along with some of the Johor Elders, who came as well). 

I wish I could describe to you the feelings I had as I was there. To be in this environment again... to be in Malaysia, with its people, speaking its language. To be in such a humble home of a sweet new member. That night we visited the home of a member of the bishopric, and taught about the priesthood (again, I translated for the senior couple with Elder Tice and Elder Mayo), and I shed a few tears that came as I realized this was my last lesson with a Malaysian. These people have touched my heart. I'm so grateful to have had a small part in their reception of the restored Gospel of Christ. I'm grateful that God loved me enough to send me here.

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Battling to the End

I'm be honest... this week was a slow week. I taught fewer lessons this week than any week of my mission. It's been hard, and battling discouragement is an ongoing thing for me. Rejection, for some reason, has lately been more painful than ever. I think it's because I am nearing the end of my mission and so I have a clearer idea of what I want to see happen... my hopes are high. And those hopes, currently, are not being fulfilled. I feel like I am trying as hard as I ever have before, but for some reason the results are just not coming. There's this part of The District 2 where Elder Murray is talking about how he feels that he and his companion have been doing their best--they feel they are they best they've ever been on their missions, and at the came time "the baptisms just stopped." Right now I am feeling that way.

We got a new Ward Mission Leader yesterday! That was really exciting. Our previous one was "less active" as far as helping us out, and this new one seems really excited about getting the ward more involved. That is something that will improve our missionary work. It's hard because almost all the members work until 8 pm, or later, so we can't visit them. We've been working with the bishop, and that's been good, but we've done as much as we can right now with him. The way we'll succeed now, really, is through the link of the Ward Mission Leader. 

This week I have been reading about submitting our will to the will of the Father. I read a talk that talked about how there are two ways to do that. We can give up our behaviors that don't match what God wants, and do the actions we are commanded to despite wanting something else. We accomplish much good, but in our hearts we still hold on to our "natural man" desires. The other way, the better way, is to give up our behaviors that are not according to God's will--give up our habits, attitudes, ways of thinking, and our very desires. When we give it up in our hearts as well as in our actions, it is then that the Atonement of Christ can enter our lives and change our natures. Our will becomes God's will--our will is to do what God wants, and that desire becomes stronger than anything else. In this way, not only do we do what the Savior would do, we become as the Savior is. I am working on ways to better apply this in my life, and understand more about this. Christ was the perfect example of this. He came into the world to do the will of the One that sent Him.

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Peace and Comfort

This week was fun. I'm not sure what to say, but that the people in the email from last week... Gus, the first one, has set a baptismal date and he is working to stop smoking so he can make that date. He is awesome, but he is in the Philippines for 2 weeks because it's his daughter's birthday. It's great for him but it means we don't get to see him for a while. But he is doing great.

Katrina, the girl I wrote about last week, dropped us. She told us that she wanted to stick with her original church, and she'd already discussed with the leaders that she realized she needs to be baptized so they're going to do her baptism in their church. She became hardened toward us. I don't want to go too much into it, but that is the most exquisite pain I have ever known. I know it's not the end of the story, I know I did all I could. But it feels like a knife in my heart. When these things happen, it still hurts every single time. I love her and desire her salvation. But I know that the experiences we had with her were exactly what God wanted for her at this point in her life. I find peace and comfort in that. I did all that was within my power.

It's been an otherwise good week. Some new investigators are coming out of the woodwork, and we have a new energy in our companionship because Sister Crichton is with us :) She is Samoan and way cool. I'm excited to be with her. 

I love this work. There is no work that has affected me more from the inside out. I am converted to the Gospel more every day, as I study it and apply the principles in my life. I am grateful for the chance to boldly declare this Gospel to everyone I meet here, that they might partake of eternal life.

Sister Gopinath

Monday, January 7, 2013

Epic Day!

Best day of the week was Saturday! It was an epic day to be a missionary, as my companion put it so well. We met with two new investigators who are amazing. One is named Gus, whose wife and tiny children are all strong and active members in the church. He has decided since coming to work here (his family is still in the Philippines) that he wants to know for himself. He has been touched by the influence of the Church in the lives of his children, and told us that he wants to follow the example of his little children (they are 4 and 2) and become as a child before God. He has already made up his mind that he wants to join the church--not for his wife, but for himself and for God. He's fantastic. We're meeting him again soon and going to help him stop smoking.

Also, our EQ President street contacted a woman named Katrina, who has no experiences with our church, but is so sensitive to the Spirit. We met her and just began the lesson, and the Spirit entered the room and touched her heart. She was in tears and told us she doesn't know why she was crying. We talked about the Holy Ghost and talked about a lot of things. It was so cool, because we'd planned to teach her the Restoration, but the Spirit was strongly telling both me and Sister Black that we needed to teach the Plan of Salvation. It was a beautiful experience. We're hopefully meeting her again tonight. It's lessons like that when I most love being a missionary. I treasure this time.

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Walk the Path

Hi! So I guess you want to hear about Christmas? I think my favorite part was talking to you guys. Christmas is not much without family. 

It was fun because the ward had a Christmas morning BBQ. We ate lots of chicken and grilled pork (Filipinos love pork!). It was great; we got to know some of the members a little better. A highlight was that a less-active member came along, and she approached us with a referral! We called the referral that night, met her yesterday, and both the less active member and the friend she referred, Eva, came to church! It was awesome! It's always been something I've wanted to focus on--bringing less-active members back by helping them share the Gospel with their friends. It hasn't worked out very well, though it seems like a great idea to me, but here it just kind of happened. I hope that this Sister keeps coming to church. She was so excited to see her friend Eva at church. It was so sweet. Eva had brought the Book of Mormon we gave her, and showed it to her friend and was so excited that she had her own copy. Her friend said, "Yes, all you need to do is read and pray. This book will really help you." She said some other things in Tagalog that I didn't understand but it was awesome! Yeah! We are meeting Eva again this week. She was a wonderful Christmas present! (If you're wondering what to give a missionary for Christmas/birthday/any kind of holiday, a referral is a great idea!)

Since all of our investigators and recent converts are out of town, we spent the rest of Christmas contacting people who didn't get to spend Christmas with their families. We shared about eternal families and the Restoration. It felt really good. We also delivered some Christmas cards to members who had stayed here for the holidays. That also felt good. Christmas as a missionary is wonderful. I'm grateful.

Heavenly Father really does answer sincere, open, honest prayers. I have experienced that time and time again. He is real. The principles of the Gospel are true, the path is set in stone. Our challenge is to walk that path. We do not do it alone--we cannot do it alone, and we are not asked to. The Savior overcame it all. We can feel that in a very real way through prayer and application of correct principles. 

Sister Gopinath