Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Jurus'lamat Sayangiku"

Hey!  I hope everyone had a good Christmas.  I've realized that Christmas Day, though we all look forward to it, is kind of sad because it marks the end of the Christmas season.  At least I have Chinese New Year (twelve days here!) to look forward to--I've heard it's really cool here.  We are about to enter the year of the dragon.

There's not really much to report about my Christmas other than I got to talk to my amazing family, which was honestly the best present I could have gotten.  Not to sound cliche, but seriously.  It was great.  Other than that we went around visiting less-actives and members.  The work slowed down quite a bit because everyone has left the city and returned to their villages.  But now they're starting to come back.   :)   Lots of potential investigators we'll finally be able to see again.

Wilma got baptized last night!  It's been a roller coaster but she has worked so hard to get to her baptism, and she did it.  Lots of concerns and doubts, lots of concerns and doubts overcome by faith and turned into trust and testimony of the goodness of God.  Her faith is great and her mind is determined.  Her testimony of the Book of Mormon is unshakable, and she is very sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit, which is great.  She's so funny.  She feels close to a lot of the members already which helps her a lot.  Lola and I sang "Jurus'lamat Sayangiku" at her baptism... that primary song that goes "A long time ago in a beautiful place."  It was good.  It was hard for her because her family doesn't yet understand what she's doing, but she was happy last night.  She knows it's right.  What a good example to me.

Feeling more and more like myself, finally starting to adjust to all this change and getting a handle on things.  Also, my trainer is finishing her mission on Monday.  Unknown paths lie ahead.  I'm definitely going to miss Sister Wong.  She is going to be so blessed for putting up with/working with a companion like me.  I've learned so much from her and am very blessed that she was my companion.  A part of me I feels like I'm about to go home too.  I can't wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to be here for another 14 months... next Christmas, I will still be a missionary.  It feels too good to last that long.  So excited for 2012. :)

So Elder Larson, a senior missionary in our area, said regarding his mission as a young man in Germany: "The mission changes your life because you see the world for what it is."  That kind of hit me, or clicked with me.  That's just how I feel.  That's a huge difference in missionary work--the way you VIEW the world.  As a missionary you need to view the world more like God sees it, which unlocks so much truth.  (That and you go to places you would never normally go to, talk to people you might never normally talk to.)  I will never see people the same way again.  I learn every day.  There's so much power in thought and in intention and in choice--the effect of personal choices when given opportunity to make one.  Knowledge, upbringing, attitude, and lots more so intangible and hard to express but so real and all around me.  I've been told that I will never be the same after my mission.  I totally believe it.  I've also been told I have absolutely no idea what that means, because it will change me and my future and my family's future more than I comprehend right now.  The things I am learning, moreso the experience I'm gaining, is so valuable.  I'm so far from the missionary I actually want to be, the person I want to be. I'm never going to be perfect but I'm going to come out of this so much better.  The Lord really does bless us freely--I can't believe I have done what I have done so far.  So much of it seems impossible--and it would have been, had it not been for Heavenly Father's abundant grace and love and willingness to bless and support me in my weakness.  And these principles apply to us ALL, not just missionaries.  The experiences we have in life truly shape us.  We are here to learn, and we determine our futures--we even determine tomorrow.  God is waiting to bless us, we just need to do what he's asked.  And also pray.  Prayer is incredible. :)

The Gospel is true!  It CHANGES LIVES.  I have SEEN IT.  Jesus lives and has power to save us from sin and death.  God answers every sincere prayer.

Read the Book of Mormon every day.  :) It will bring you to Christ.

That's all.

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Music in Malaysia = Train Wreck

So... there are some amazing people in the world.  Such strong faith. Eddy and Reiki (Villa's siblings we met last week) are amazing young men, who really just desire to do what is right and do what God wants them to and become closer to Christ. I'm humbled again and again at the jewels that we meet--people full of goodness.  Last night we had a lesson with them about the Restoration more in depth, and I was touched by their sincerity.  Eddy asked us sincereily what faith is, inquired about prayer, Reiki about when he was younger he felt like he'd rather hang out with friends than go to church but now that's changing and he's feeling that following Jesus Christ is the most important thing for him.   These boys are examples to me--I wish you could meet them!!--of having the heart of a child, even though they're 21 and 15 years old (and live on their own).   They are so sincere and submissive and meek and open and desiring what is good.  After this lesson on the bus ride home I felt that my heart and mind were filled with the things of Heaven.   "Of such is the Kingdom of God."  It's so true.  The qualities of a child are so much the same as the qualities of the Savior.  We need to grow in wisdom as we have learning experiences, and have the minds of adults, but our hearts need to remain pure as a child's.  And it's totally possible.   Those are what the people in Heaven are going to be like.

This week I have been working on/focusing on loving the people more.   Yesterday I found this quote from Joseph Smith:  "A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race."   I also love 2 Nephi 26:33 - "He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female ; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."  Another quote that's been on my mind is from O Holy Night.   My favorite line, probably, is "Chains will He break, for the slave is our brother."

Before my mission I never realized the depth of this truth (actually I'm still learning and will continue…).   All people truly are children of our Heavenly Father, endowed with divine attributes and given the precious and powerful gift of agency. God really does shine his sunlight on both the good and the evil.   As followers of Christ, it's our responsibility to love everyone, EVERYone.   In the Bible it's explained how even wicked people love those that love them, but it takes spiritual strength and a truly good heart to love those that do not love you or treat you well.   That is true Christianity. Definitely working on that one.   To me it is one of the most noble things: to love purely, with your entire heart, someone who is difficult to love/does not reciprocate. We need God's divine help to get to that place but it is more than possible.

I'm so grateful for Christmas and this time to reflect on the reality of the Savior and Redeemer of the world.   It's the most powerful thing.   Reflecting on His life and what it means for me, and also reflecting on generosity and how to spread His love to those around me.   Christmas is incredible.   It's a time of prayer, generosity, forgiveness, love, family, sacrifice, and the Spirit of God.   I hope that your faith and testimony of our Savior deepens and grows as Christmas comes nearer.

Sister Gopinath

P.S. If you are in a place that has snow, will you play in it for me?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Makan Angin "To Eat Wind" Means to Waste Time

Hello!  What an eventful week.  First off, can I tell you that Marvin gave a talk on baptism at a baptism on this past Saturday? Exactly one week after he was baptized himself, he was standing in front of us teaching and testifying to us about baptism.  It's kind of funny, but it's really true--Sister Wong says she feels like missionary work is basically parenting.  I'm finding that to be true.  You serve and teach and love these people unconditionally...  when they make bad choices, it so breaks your heart, but when they make right choices, you absolutely rejoice--it's like floating on cloud 9!!  Seeing Marvin give a talk, even though he's actually only a few months younger than me, made me feel like a mother watching her son.  I just wanted to pinch his cheeks.  He received the priesthood on Sunday and will help out with the sacrament this coming Sunday.  He is such a blessing.  So proud, so proud!

So there's this one girl (who is actually close friends with Marvin) who has been coming to church.  Her name is Narlene and she is 16--she's so cute and she already glows with the light of Christ.  She's amazing because everything she learns at church, she takes home and teaches her family.  We haven't yet met her family and they're not sure yet how they feel about their daughter investigating the church.  But Narlene really wants to be baptized...  she was so quick to recognize the differences in this church, there's just a different feeling.  And she says it's the first time she's actually understood what people teach at church, which is really meaningful to her.  Sister Wong was telling her that she could be the one to bring the gospel to her family, so she could bring them with her into this amazing church.  She replied, "Of course I want that, but you know if they don't want to I still need to be baptized.”  She's so cool.  We gave her the Restoration video and she went home and showed her family, which is incredible.  We also gave her a picture of the temple and explained briefly what it was, and she has already decided she wants to get married there.  hahaha!  (not because it's funny but because it makes me so happy that smiling is not enough!!) She doesn't yet have permission to be baptized, but we're praying that can change.  We are going to her house on Monday with one of her member friends (she has a ton) to meet some of her family (GULP!) but hopefully that will be a really good thing.  Prayers would be awesome.

There's a lot more to write, just about people.  Oh!!  Yesterda,y one of our investigators, Vila (getting baptized 2 days after Christmas!), took us around her hometown to meet her relatives.  It was awesome, just going around and meeting people all day...  all people who were smiling and glad to meet us (weird feeling!).  Vila has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and wants her family to receive it as well.  We have a return appointment with her two younger brothers for Friday.  They are so super nice and said they felt really happy when they met us.  Referrals!!  Yeah!!  :) It was a neat day.

Oh I wanted to tell you all about some cool Malay phrases/things that made me laugh or gave insight.  It's such a funny language.

1) anjing laut.  literal translation: sea dog.  meaning: seal.

2) kencing manis.  literal translation: sweet urine.  meaning: diabetes.

3) orang utan.  literal translation: people of the jungle/forest.  meaning: orangutan.  haha!

4) makan angin.  literal translation: to eat wind.  meaning: to waste time.

5) cahaya mata.  literal translation: bright eyes.  meaning: child.

Cool huh? :)

So basically missionary work is awesome...  so demanding but so cool.  As a missionary we really do represent the Lord.  I try to always act (even down to my facial expression as I'm walking) so that if someone saw me (which they do) they could have a positive feeling about the church I represent.  The way I speak to people, how I behave... it's all so influential because of the black nametag I wear over my heart. But honestly I'm realizing this does not apply to missionaries only. The way we live as members is so influential on the world. Only when I got here did I really truly see how much people watch us. We must stand as a light, our lives MUST reflect the teachings of Christ.  We must emulate Christianity.  We must be pure and worthy and loving...  not only for our sakes but for the sakes of those around us.  We really do take upon us the name of Christ at baptism, and that's something that doesn't ever change.  When we're baptized we promise to make our lives a reflection of His gospel.  Something cool to think about is that when you live the Gospel, when you repent and are pure and obedient, YOU become a testimony of the Savior.  Your life, your very being, is a testimony that He is real and His gospel is true...  because of what change He has made in your life.  Have we magnified that? What have we done with His name? A humbling thought.

I love being a missionary!  I don't ever want to not be a missionary.  I always mention how hard it is but I feel like I can't get enough of this gospel I've been sent here to teach.  It's so powerful and beautiful and simple and deep.  We are all enlisted. 

Merry Christmas!  I'll talk about Christmas next week.  (Christmas music is Malaysia is horrendous.)

Love you all!
Sister Gopinath

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From the Singapore Mission AP's Newsletter (Assistants to the Mission President):

Companionship: Sister Wong and Sister Gopinath
Area: KK1  (Kota Kinabalu)

In an appointment with an investigator, they asked how she felt about the Book of Mormon. Their investigator bore a simple testimony, stating that she knew it was true, despite being a relatively new investigator. The Sisters then went on to talk about Baptism, and it's importance. She immediately clarified to the Sisters that she had already been baptized at an infant, and despite many different religious groups asking her to be baptized, she had already done so. To help answer the concern, the Sisters had her turn to Moroni chapter 8 (you know, the one that totally condemns infant baptisms...). Well, before they could tell her which verse to read, she started reading aloud from the beginning. As she read, she began to cry! Then, around verse 26 she finally said that it was enough and put it down. Needless to say the Sisters thought it was over, but their investigator said that she knew she had to be baptized! The Book of Mormon is the most powerful tool we have in conversion! And go figure that was the topic of the week for the 12-week program too!

Desire and the Pure in Heart

Marvin is baptized! My first recent convert... I felt like a proud mother watching her son. He's so good. So golden. The Spirit was there, he bore his testimony at the end. He was SO genuinely happy. I asked him how he felt and he said, "Amazing... clean. I feel clean. All my sin is gone." Wah! And so yesterday we had a lesson about missionary work, and he already has a strong desire and a testimony of missionary work. He's going to serve a full-time mission, most likely next year. He's probably going to become a member of the bishopric or the Sunday school teacher in a few months (low on priesthood, and plus he's awesome and so willing to serve). He's so solid. Such a strong desire.

I've been thinking about that. Desire. That's really what it comes down to, isn't it? That's how people change. When you really want something, you will work to get it. If you want something spiritual, and really desire it strongly enough and REMEMBER that you desire it, you will turn away from sin and temptation. Whatever you want most is what your actions will follow. It's so important to remember the big picture.

We have one investigator named Vila, and she has recently realized that she really wants to be baptized (this month, baby!). She has met trials, especially with her work schedule and coming to church. She wants to be at church. She wants to do everything she needs to do to prepare for and make her goal to be baptized by the end of this month. She's had a hard time with her boss at work, who is Muslim and thus doesn't sympathize with the desire to worship at a Christian church on Sunday, although she's tried talking to him. She's been very upset, and praying hard about that. Yesterday she called us and said she now has a new manager, who is Christian and has her on the evening shift on Sunday. What a miracle!! She prayed what I think may be some of her first prayers of gratitude. This is a testimony to me that the Lord blesses us according to the desires of our hearts. Whatever we align our actions with--including good worthy righteous things--we WILL receive. We will do our best to find a way, we will resist the temptation to take an easier road, because of our desires. And if we do the best we can to obtain what worthy things we desire, the Lord will bless us with everything else we need. He will fill in every gap and pour out blessings to us from Heaven... blessings in this life and as well as glory in the next. In the scriptures we learn that we will be judged according to our works and the desires of our hearts. I think those two things are quite closely related. We just need to make sure and pray and act so that what we desire most is what's most important from an eternal perspective. What aligns with God's will. What a happy life, if we can do that :) A lot of being pure in heart means having pure desires. Having and acting on our most righteous desires will lead to conquering the natural/carnal man and our spirit will conquer and be purified.

I've realized a lot this week what I really believe. I have met so many people who are not LDS who have such deep and strong faith. Such good people. I'm realizing deeply that it's not about being a Mormon... it's about being a Christian. I'm realizing we as the LDS really do embrace ALL truth... and I do too. We really do seek after everything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. Everything that promotes faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. This church's claim is that it does not differ from the original Church that Jesus Christ established on the earth. That is absolutely true, and we can each know that for ourselves through study and prayer and following God's commandments. This claim implies that our only goal is to follow, obey, and serve Jesus Christ, and we embrace everything that will most lead us to Him. It's truly about being a Christian. That's why I'm a "Mormon." Because I want to follow Jesus Christ and this is His original Gospel in its unblemished and untainted fullness! This is the clear, straight path that leads to Him. I say humbly that I'm not LDS because I love being a Mormon. I'm LDS because I love Jesus Christ. And this is why I'm in Kota Kinabalu right now.

Love you all! Have faith, stay strong, remember where you came from :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There Are No Coincidences

I always want to start my emails off with "Hello from Kota Kinabalu!" But that is more like a radio host or something weird. The second choice is "What a crazy week." I don't know how to start emails. I'll just dive in, I suppose.

Our golden investigator Marvin is getting baptized this Saturday (we're going to his house with the Elders for his interview today) so I'll let you know how that goes. He's so excited, so ready, so good. We taught him about the priesthood and how it's the power of Jesus Christ that is used only to bless the lives of other people. All Christ did with His power was serve and bless those around him. It was cool to see it click--it was like a lightbulb in the soul turned on.

Funny language mistakes of the week: I was explaining to one new 16-year-old investigator that the sacrament is a symbol of Christ's sacrifice, but I wasn't totally sure what the word for symbol is, and I ended up saying "toilet" instead. We all laughed. It's so awful how those silly words like "toilet" ARE actually the words you mix up...

We're teaching two 16-year-old girls who are so cool--Oki and Tarlyn. They're best friends with a member,  Brittiny, who was baptized last year. They've both felt that at their family's church they never understand what is being taught, they have to just nod their head. Also the people are cold and uninterested in them. They are recognizing how different it is at the Church of Jesus Christ and how it just feels different to them. We taught them about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--WHY this church feels different. That the Spirit is there. We taught them about prophets and showed them the Joseph Smith movie and they giggled because Joseph Smith is "handsome!" :) But they really did understand his role as the tool God used to restore His original Gospel, which is so cool! Their hearts are so prepared. They both want to be baptized on Christmas Eve, but they are afraid to ask their parents for permission. That is the biggest concern right now--they of course need to talk to their parents. We are all praying it will work out, that their parents' hearts will be softened and recognize what a good thing this is.

So the Elders met a girl on the bus named Betty who has met the Sisters before us. She told the Elders they had her phone number but never called, or something like that, so she's never been to church, but would like to meet with Sisters to learn about the Church. The Elders gave us her phone number and we've been trying to meet her. Three days later, I was sitting on the bus and met this girl named Susie. She was super nice and had heard of the Church before--had some member friends a while ago (though they've moved now), and has even been to church once before!!! I asked her if she'd be interested in coming again that coming Sunday and she said yes, and I gave her something to read about the Plan of Salvation. So then, that night at the apartment, Sister Wong called Betty to see how she was doing and Betty said "I think you met my sister today!" Sister Wong's mouth dropped open. Betty and Susie are sisters!!! Crazy! They don't even live nearby the places we met them. The odds of that are so slim, there are so many people here. Miracle! God is trying to tell them something! Forgive my shaky story-telling skills, but it was way cool. There are no coincidences. They couldn't make it to church this last Sunday but hopefully this Sunday they will come--they both want to. Their parents have even met missionaries before and carry church pamphlets with them to read. Family!!!!

So today I found this scripture: 2 Cor 8:9 - "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Enough said. The Atonement is so incredible. Our Savior's love is so deep and far-reaching and all-encompassing. His sacrifice was infinite and voluntary. On my mission so far it has become so apparent to me the NEED for a Savior. How He really really is the Light of the world, the Light that we hold up. He is mighty to save, to heal, to redeem.

Also what has stood out to me lately is the need for prayer, church, scripture study, and following God's commandments. These are the Sunday school answers but THEY ARE WHAT BRING YOU TO CHRIST! As missionaries, we invite people to come unto Christ by teaching them true doctrine and inviting them to do those 4 things. Those things are what CHANGE PEOPLE'S LIVES. So powerful! It's what we want for our investigators, so they can come unto Christ. Please hear my brief testimony on these things. Attend church, pray OFTEN!, study the Book of Mormon/pray about it, and do what you know is right. This is what will change you. It will invite the Spirit into your life, change your heart. It's the way to Christ.

Go to and watch the Brandon Flowers video, if you haven't yet. Pretty cool. :)

You are all wonderful. The Church is true. More next week.

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, Cartoon Characters, and Refining

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving is great. It's quite a spiritual holiday if we do it right. Full of blessings... why? Well, because we eat a lot of food, but also because we make efforts to be aware of the abundant blessings the Lord has given us. Later today our district is getting together at the senior couple's apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. It's so funny to be a white person. Sometimes I feel like a cartoon character... or at least that some people feel like we're cartoon characters. :) Especially because of one elder, Elder Petersen, who is way white, has big eyes, and probably 6'2". I can't imagine the attention he gets here.

This week has been really good. Super difficult, (got dropkicked by a few really promising investigators) but I am starting to feel more like myself. All the missionaries throughout the mission are working really hard to accomplish our yearly goals before the end of the year... we're needing miracles. But they just might come if we have enough faith and work hard enough. It's so physically and mentally demanding, this work. We get rejected, or mocked, or even objectified/degraded (in the case of the sisters) at one door or during one contact, but the next door we need to be still full of love and strength and the Spirit so that next person gets a quality contact with us. It's hard. But it's cool. It's impossible to be a good missionary and not experience personal growth. It's so trying, so refining.

So there's this one investigator, who will be my first real baptism. His name is Martin and he is the coolest ever. I think I've mentioned him before, but I must talk about him again. He's so cool sometimes it's hard not to just laugh at how great he is, he so far exceeds expectations. He lives with his grandmother and cousin, who are both members of the church. When we first met Martin, he was shy, quiet, unsure of himself. He seemed to have a weight on his shoulders. We taught him about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He didn't really understand a lot of it, he told us, but he felt good and decided to accept it. Since that day he has begun to pray several times a day, he reads the Book of Mormon into the wee hours of the morning, he teaches us about his favorite verses in the Book of Mormon, he's come with us missionaries to teach other people and has born his testimony to them, he's made great friends with the branch mission leader... he's open, friendly, funny, has a bright light in his countenance. He is preparing for a mission next year. He's getting baptized on December 3rd--our original plan for him was December 10th, but he is so beyond ready. When we told him we thought he could be baptized early, his face lit up. He's so so so amazing. Such a different person. What a blessing he is... how ready he was! He's progressed just because of his own personal choices. All we did as missionaries was present a testify of the principles, and extended invitations to act. He chose to accept all of it, and he has done more than we've even invited him to do. His desire to be close to Heavenly Father is so strong. He is willing to do anything. He is truly the "I will give away all of my sins to know Thee" type of person. I'm so excited for the rest of his life! and his baptism!!!

A few days ago I was reading a scripture and I saw the title "Lamb of God" in reference to the Savior. It sunk deep into my heart. Heavenly Father created this plan of happiness for us, gave us everything we have, gave us the way, gave us His Son. That is something I never recognized. Creating this plan for our salvation was not an easy experience. Just as people of old were asked to sacrifice animals as a offering to God, such as their best/purest lamb, Heavenly Father also was required to sacrifice His own Lamb. Jesus Christ, who was perfect, pure, good, strong, filled with full and perfect love. Heavenly Father's Son, Heavenly Father's Lamb, Heavenly Father's sacrifice. That was the price. What a sobering thought.

Also Alma 7:11-14 has been a big theme of this last week for me. The Atonement of Christ is real. He really does know exactly what each of us is experiencing. Although he was perfect, he chose to experience our trials exactly as we experience it, as a weak mortal. His understanding and compassion is complete and deep. He has conquered all our trials by completing His Atonement--He has paved the way. We need to follow Him. He will be beside us. We can feel that. I have felt that. I've been trying to make taking the sacrament a spiritual experience with the Atonement. If we want to have experiences with the Atonement, and we're willing to remember the Savior, we WILL feel His very real influence in our lives. He's walking beside us, and we are able to FEEL that, and know how real that actually us. No one else can experience that for you. Not even reading my testimony can give you an adequate understanding of how deep the Savior's love is for you. It's something you should experience firsthand. We do that by following His commandments, learning about His life and Atonement, making and keeping and renewing sacred covenants with Him, and striving to remember Him always. We do need to do our part but we get so much in return. Christ lives. He knows us, one by one. I bear my solemn witness of that. 

Sister Gopinath

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

Hello everyone!

KK is still great. There's nowhere I'd rather be. Being a missionary sure is hard, but it's going to be worth it. This is the hardest thing mentally I've ever done, hands down. I have so much I need to improve on.

The church really is so new here. It's so different to be in a Branch of people who ALL have conversion stories. I think the longest-time member joined the church 12 years ago. Most of them, though, are within the last 4 years, and most are part-member families. I admire them so much. We don't live in a spiritual world, but there still are spiritual people who defy their surroundings and choose to follow God and be free from the dirt and slum of the world. It really shows your character when you choose to do something you feel is right when everything around you pulls you the other way, is trying to pull you down. Acting, instead of being acted upon.

It's interesting because the majority of our strongest members are ones who investigated the church for months and months. They usually had one thing they were holding onto that was holding them back. One of our YSA's shared his story with us this week, which really touched me. He said he used to be "kuat jahat" before, meaning wicked. (There are a lot of things in Malay that translate so poorly into English...haha) He would lie all the time, tried to "galalkan orang"... try to get people to fail, pick on them. He met with the missionaries and would lie to them. But what made the difference was he began to read the Book of Mormon. He would read a little every day, and soon he would read in the morning, during his lunch break, and then at night. Something in him gradually transformed. He became a new person because of the Spirit that the Book of Mormon brought into his life. He repented and was baptized, a year after meeting the missionaries. He is amazing now--his face shines with the light of Christ. Sometimes it takes time. I need to have patience and remember that sometimes I am just their first encounter with the Church, preparing them for a time in a future when they're more ready to receive it.

There are so many amazing examples here. I learn so much from the people I met, especially this week. One woman we met was a underpaid, undervalued housemaid (slave, almost) who lives far from her son and has no phone to call him... never is allowed to leave the house of the people she works for, and they don't let her go to church because they are Buddhist and they don't understand Christianity. She has such a hard life but she is SUCH a loving person. She is strong. We swung by the other day and shared a message about faith and prayer with her on the front porch, and she shed tears as she told us her experience with prayer. She said what she cannot tell anyone else, she can express to Heavenly Father in prayer. He takes her burden, listens to her with infinite patience, sends relief to her burdened soul. My soul aches to reach out to this woman. She is incredible. I wish we could teach her, but she never has an off day so she can't do anything for herself or come to church. I don't know how I can help.

There's this woman who came to church on Sunday, and said she's wanted to come to this church for 5 years. She's from the Philippines and has seen the church, the Temple, and the missionaries. Only just now we met her on the bus and she has come to church and she was really enjoying it. We want to teach her really bad, she seems really prepared, but she is difficult to meet. Lives far, is busy. Hopefully we can meet with her soon.

Another new investigator we met with this week was a 17-year-old boy from Indonesia named Ricky. It's so interesting to see how people's lives and families affect them. He is 17, but he stopped school when he was 11 or 12 so he could work to support his family. Although he is not very educated, he is quite mature. He's not goofy or superficial like a teenager. He is really more like 25 years old on the inside. Anyway, he told us he wanted to learn about Jesus Christ. We met with him and his family once and taught them how to pray and taught about prophets. They smoked throughout the lesson... it was an okay lesson but the smoking made it hard. His family is Roman Catholic so they really strongly identify with that church (tradition, family, rather than spirituality), although it was apparent that they know close to nothing about the teachings of their own church. But just the one boy, the 17-yr-old, wanted to keep learning. He came to church all by himself (without his family knowing) and seemed to like it and asked us for a Bible and Book of Mormon. We got him the Book of Mormon, but when we tried to meet him yesterday, he didn't show up. We waited 45 minutes, called him, and he told us he was still at work. So we just left and went to the Branch FHE activity, and after FHE, Sister Wong saw on the phone there were 9 missed calls. It was Fiki, and he was crying. He said he had to be honest. He wasn't held up at work, but rather as he was trying to come meet us, he ran into his older brother and told him he was going to meet us. The older brother forced him to go home and told him he can't meet with us. He was scared, and like I said he was just crying on the phone. He wanted to learn more about Jesus. We told him that he should keep praying and reading the Book of Mormon, and someday when he is older he will be able to learn from us. And he knows where the church is and he is always welcome. It was a really heartbreaking night. Judgement day is going to be sad for all of the parents and older siblings who will not allow their family members to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They don't GET what they're really doing. It's hard.

We're going to keep working. The people here are so great.

I KNOW this Gospel is true. The message I've been send to share is true. Jesus Christ is real, He lives, and through Him we can become free of all sin and we WILL conquer death. The Book of Mormon is the mighty word of God. It's such a big position I'm in--the Lord calls us in our weakness, and strengthens us if we choose to let him. Trying to do what he would do if he was in my place. The battle in life is really against ourselves, in a sense. Because our ability to CHOOSE is so powerful for good or bad. If we choose good, we have Heaven on our side. God is on our side. SO powerful. Light always conquers darkness. I'm so grateful for this complete and restored Gospel. I'm not perfect but I know the way, I know enough. I'm here to share it.

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kota Kinabaluuuuuu!

Hey everyone!

Another crazy week in KK. It was a hard week, a lot of our new investigators have been disappointing and now we're back to the drawing board. One that I was really really excited about keeps sending his niece to answer the door and lie to us, telling us that no one is home, after we took a bus to come out to see him. It happened twice. Probably my least favorite thing in the world is when people lie to me. The first time we went to that house (it's the one with a pregnant wife), it was great. They were so nice and there was a good feeling in the home. Now when we have gone back for our appointments (that didn't happen), that good feeling isn't there anymore. It's a dark feeling. I hope they are okay. It makes me sad and hurt and confused. They don't realize what they're rejecting!! But apparently this has happens a lot to everyone on the mission. 

We got hardcore anti-ed the other day! We went to visit a less active member at her work, and found her sitting at a cafe with this guy so we went to talk to them. The guy found out we were LDS and started ripping on us. Gave this uncalled-for 10 minute monologue to us, basically. I could barely understand anything he was saying (I can't understand people when the Spirit isn't present--true story), but I felt dark. He was preaching false doctrine about our church to us. There was such a terrible dark feeling there, and I didn't even understand him but I knew what was going on. I didn't say anything to him--what he was saying didn't deserve a response. It's amazing! No other church is fought against so hard!! It's quite intimidating to be in this position of influence, the front lines of the church. We missionaries are often the first ones to be attacked. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints truly is led by Jesus Christ, and thus it is worth fighting against if you are on Satan's side. We are a threat to the adversary. It's actually quite cool. What I find funny is that anti-Mormons try to destroy our faith, but what really happens is that our faith is re-confirmed by the opposition. I KNOW that what I'm doing is right, what I'm doing is of God. It is beautiful and brings sweet joy and peace to the soul. The original Gospel of Jesus Christ can heal like NOTHING else can.

Okay, so here are some funny things about Malaysia: KFC is huuuge here. Everyone loves KFC, and KFC here has rice and I think it even has curry. It's awesome. I've been telling people that I live near Kentucky in the US... but to them, Kentucky isn't a place, but a flavor of chicken. :)hahaha!

The members here call me Sister Gopi, and are amazed at how long my nose is.

The other night, Sister Wong and I were knocking doors. There were some Muslim kids riding their bikes, and one of them said "Hi, Miss!" as we passed them. I said hi back. He kept riding his bicycle, and I walked away. Thirty seconds later, I hear, "ORANG PUTIH!!!!" from the distance, which is what he was really thinking. Translated into English, he yelled, "WHITE PERSON!!!!"

One of our progressing investigators, Martin, is so awesome. He is already keeping the Word of Wisdom (a huge problem for 98% of Malaysians) because his LDS cousin, who he lives with, mentioned it. He is so willing to do anything asked of him. He is so accepting of everything we teach him, and he wants to understand. He is hungry to know God, and he is taking action to get himself there. He's a way good example. He's 20 years old and lives with his grandma, cousin, and mom--his mom is the only non-member. He's got great support in his grandma and cousin. He's gonna go FAR. He's so awesome. Hooray for priesthood holders!!! (The branch currently has less than 10.)

It's really hard not being able to teach Muslims! Yesterday I was on the bus, and I was talking to this Buddhist lady and telling her how I was a volunteer for a Christian church. This Muslim lady sitting in front of us turned around and told the Buddhist lady, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." She knew the name of the church. She was so nice and interested in me, and already knew who I was... and I really couldn't share anything with her. It was sad! She totally would have met with us and listened. This happens pretty often. Muslims are SO NICE. They're such good people. Unfortunately in Malaysia, the best we can do is plant seeds by being kind. Someday that law will change... someday.

Malaysia is great. Missionary work is hard but it's gonna be worth it. The Lord loves us. We can and should be receiving personal revelation every single day--God answers prayers. He sends His Spirit. Even if the answer won't come for a while, if you pray sincerely, the Spirit will come and help you know that your Heavenly Father heard what you told him, and is doing all he can. Pray from your heart, pray with faith that He hears you, because He does. I bear testimony of that. God lives.

 I've been thinking today about how expensive the Atonement was. The justice of God is harsh and unforgiving, because the Kingdom of God would cease to be the Kingdom of God if ANYTHING dirty entered into it. Even one sin disqualifies us for returning to live with Heavenly Father. When we make excuses for our sins, we deny the justice of God. We need the Savior. Jesus Christ suffered the eternal price of each sins! The price was SO terrible and so painful. The price was the Spirit of a God. It was enough to completely and totally satisfy the harsh demands of justice, and through the Atonement of Christ, we have access to mercy. Because of what Christ did, if we forsake our sins by repenting, we can be made clean because Christ paid for those sins. So incredible. We need to use that Atonement, so that mercy has claim on us. Repentance is such a VITAL and precious and expensive gift. Given out of pure and perfect love. Alma 42:29-31.

 I bear my witness that the Atonement is real and that Christ lives.

Love you all!
Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Evil Dogs, Witches, and Watermelon Jack-o-lanterns

Whoo! What a crazy week.

Since last time I wrote all of our investigators fell off the face of the earth, or we had to give them to the Elders in our district to teach since it's better for some people to be taught by men. We seriously had no one to teach--there was one boy we taught but he is too busy with exams to meet with us again (the one day we did teach him, it was a holiday). So at the beginning of our week was hard, and I was getting discouraged (I need to work on that), though Sister Wong kept at it. She is a really strong person. We had nothing to do but knock doors and run away from evil dogs. (The dogs here are SCARY!!! I haven't been afraid of dogs since I was a little girl but I'm newly afraid of them these days. They are all dirty and most of them are really mean.)

Sister Wong and I have been praying to find a young family to teach. On Sunday and Monday, our number of new investigators went from zero to 5. We found two young men who have never felt that they've known God before, but now want to. They don't know each other yet but they are both so sincere in their hearts. One, whose name is Peter, lives out in the boonies and his arms are decorated with do-it-yourself tattoos. He came to church for the first time, and was so shy about his tattooed arms. After church we had a really good lesson and we talked about baptism with him. He kept saying how he wants to be clean, and become a good person. We talked about repentance and forgiveness and baptism. He's SUPER awesome. The only thing is that he smokes a pack every day, but that's actually quite low for the average Malaysian, and he says he doesn't like smoking and does it mainly because of his friends. Hopefully he can overcome that, keep coming to church, and be baptized. He is sincere. And he already has a friend here--he was actually a referral from a girl in our branch named June.  

June is someone amazing. She is a better missionary than I am, and she's just a regular 19-year-old girl. She is the only active member in her family, but she is super strong. She comes to everything, goes out with us missionaries at least weekly (would go more if she could), talks to EVERYONE she can about the gospel, and befriends basically every investigator. Fearless! She has 13 months until she turns 21 and can serve her own mission. She's so excited. A great example to me of a great missionary.

So on Monday, going back to our investigators, we found two small families. One is a couple expecting their first child next year, and the other is a mother with a new baby (whose husband we haven't met yet). They both we door-knocks and they invited us into their home. The husband of the pregnant woman, J--k, is SO kind. He kept saying how though a lot of churches/paths are good, he wants to find the BEST one. We taught them about the Plan of Salvation a little bit, about eternal families, and about the Restoration! Haha! When we told him that we have a living prophet today, his eyes lit up and he said, "THIS is what I didn't understand! Thank you so much for coming and bringing this news!" We're going back on Saturday to watch the Restoration video with him and go more in depth with the Restoration. His wife is super good at reading--she read like three pamphlets in 20 minutes. They are both super awesome! And the woman with a new baby was so kind to us and so sincere. She seems interested in hearing our message. We're going back to her house on Saturday too. I have really high hopes for all of these people. They all seem really prepared.

Being a missionary is hard! And it's awesome! We keep getting rained on. I think we've been soaked to the bone 3 times this week. :) The whole "no swimming" rule as a missionary doesn't really apply to us here. On our way to the Halloween party on Monday we were walking in heavy rain by the road, and a car came by and sent a tidal wave over us. Seriously. It was so funny. I actually like getting rained on... someone told me once that missionary work is so much cooler when it's rugged. I'd have to agree.

This morning I was reading in 3 Nephi 12:23-24.   (Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hat aught against thee--Go they way unto they brother, and first be reconciled to they brother, and then come unto me with a full purpose of heart, and I will receive you. )

Sister Wong and I have been working on companionship unity, and succeeding lately. I love this scripture because it reminds me how contention with your neighbor or family makes it really hard to feel the Spirit of the Lord. In order to be a true disciple of Christ, with full purpose of heart, we need to love and continually do our part to strengthen our relationship. Forgiveness should be a regular part of our lives. The ability to apologize first is a valuable skill that comes with prayer and with practice.

 I love you all and think about you often! I appreciate all of your prayers.

 Love, Sister Gopinath

 P.S. Halloween in Malaysia is hilarious. Only the Mormons celebrate it, EVERY woman dresses up as a witch, and the pumpkins here stink so people carve watermelons instead. You should try it next year. It's actually way better than carving pumpkins, in my opinion!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kota Kinabalu, Kentucky, and KFC

My time is already short on here, but guess what? Malaysia is incredible. The weather is hot, but it's great! Everyone is super friendly and generous. It's true, even if people don't have very much, they will share with you whatever they do have.

My companion Sister Wong  and I have been working hard. She is a really good missionary--good at talking to everyone --and I learn a lot from serving alongside her. 

As a zone in Sabah, with President Clark, we're hiking Mount Kota Kinabalu tomorrow! All day! It's going to be intense and beautiful up there. I'll be sure to take pictures.

The branch in KK is so wonderful! They are strong and very loving. I felt really welcomed. Something amazing to me is how excited the youth are about missionary work. People want to come out with us missionaries all the time! And everyone is planning for their mission--even all the girls are planning on it and want it. It's really valued and encouraged here, and people are excited about it in a way that I've never seen before. It's awesome.

KFC is super big here. They seem to think that "Kentucky" means breaded chicken--you can go to the store and get "Kentucky" flavored chicken seasoning. It's been funny to tell people that I live near Kentucky :) They get excited.

We've been praying a lot to find new investigators--we had a bunch, but they were all men so it was better for us to give them away to the Elders. We're doing a lot of contacting/invitations to learn/"Faith Finding." We talk to people on the bus, people we pass as we walk outside, we knock on people's doors. Later today we're meeting with someone we met outside of a hospital, and teaching him about his relationship to God, his Heavenly Father.

The other day we had a lesson with a recent convert named Ruby. Before the lesson, she fed us and showed us pictures of her baptism. There was one picture of her dressed in white, smiling and standing in front of a portrait of Jesus Christ. It was a really simple picture but the Spirit entered me heart and I felt His love for her. I felt that He knows her and loves her and truly suffered the price to redeem her. I saw her differently after that. It was really cool. The Lord really does know each one of us.

Something I've been thinking about is the importance of centering our thoughts on Christ. I think it's not even enough to focus our thoughts on other people, or on teaching skills. We need to keep focused on the Atonement of our Savior and His infinite love for us. That's what the entire Gospel is based on and a deeper understanding of that will move us to meaningful and effective action. It will help us to love and work hard and work with our heart. 

The gospel is true! It's filling the land! It's going forth and no unhallowed hand can stop it. It's cool and intimidating but mostly cool to be here.

My email next week will be even better, as I learn to better manage my email time. :) There's a lot more to tell that I didn't have time to. Remember who you are and that the Father of your spirit is GOD. You are a child of God! That's a BIG DEAL! You are destined for incredible things. I know this is real and true.

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Eagle has Landed!

Hey Mom and Dad!

So I survived the flight, made it to Singapore, and went contacting today! It's AWESOME!!! It's so clean and friendly and everything is shiny and pastel-colored. It feels like a dream or a theme park with a Singaporetheme--it's too cool to be real! Hopefully it will hit me soon. I can't believe I am on the other side of the world. It's so cool to me; I feel like a dork. Sister B and I went contacting really quick and some Elders took a video--I think they're going to make a DVD and send it to you, or something. There was this one girl who was sitting on a bench smoking, and we came up and started talking to her and when we told her we were missionaries, she discreetly threw her cigarette away. I asked her if she was interested in learning about the Gospel and she said it seemed good, so I gave her a Restoration pamphlet and referred her to It was awesome. We met a Buddhist guy from a small town in France who was super nice, and he said he would go to We also got hardcore rejected by this American girl. It was SWEET! Singapore is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! The buildings are incredible and the weather is actually great. So far I actually like it. It's humid and a little sweaty but it's pleasant for some reason. Maybe I'll change my mind later? :)

So my trainer is Sister W, and she seems to be the "favorite" Sister in the mission. She's everything a good missionary should be--I'm way blessed. Everyone loves her and she seems amazing. She's going home soon, so I'll be her last companion. I'm PUMPED.

My first area (I'll leave Singapore 24 hours from now) will be Kota Kinabalu--KK. It's in Sabah on Borneo, so North and as far from Singapore as Sisters go. They speak the most correct Malay there, and there is no air conditioning anywhere there. It's also the area where everyone wants to go to. Sister W, though, has only been there 3 weeks so she doesn't know the area well yet. We won't be biking, but will be using public transportation. It's going to be amazing. An Elder who just left told me about this solid investigator who's getting baptized in 10 days. I'm so pumped!!

I'm not sure what else to tell you other than I AM EXHAUSTED! Singapore time right now it's 7:30pm, and I woke up at 1:30am after sleeping roughly on a plane for 7 hours. I'm trying to survive. Oh and also President Clark is amazing! All the missionaries here are just so full of energy. It's incredible! And the senior couples too--the ones I've met--seem amazing as well! Ahh!

Oh also the first thing we did when we got to Singapore was go to Little India and eat lunch. I attached some pictures. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST MISSION EVER!!!!! I love you all!!!! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!

Sister Gopinath

Monday, October 17, 2011

Packed up and ready to go!

So the last day at the MTC has officially arrived. Our stuff is all packed and waiting to go. Today my heart is full of gratitude and happiness and enthusiasm. I'm so grateful for the experiences I've had here at the MTC. A lot of it was really hard but it's going to refine me. I've met and come to love some amazing friends--fellow missionaries and teachers as well. I know it's nothing compared to how the field will be, but even being here at the MTC has been rewarding. Something said in a devotional that's stuck with me: "This won't be a perfect experience. But, it WILL be a perfect learning experience." That was true about my time in the MTC, I'm sure it will be true about my mission and all my life experiences. Sometimes things go wrong, are really hard, come up unexpectedly for the worse, or are just not what I thought it should have been like. But that never means that Heavenly Father isn't aware of me or doesn't love me. 

There's a video where a woman was talking about how great the blessings Heavenly Father has for those who do their best. The Plan of Salvation, our purpose here, is so glorious and incredible. What we experience here is not what we will experience forever. This is not the finished product. What's in store for us after this life is so beautiful and healing and full of love--that's why bad things can happen in this life. Understanding the Gospel not only gives purpose to our trials, but it helps us understand that our hardships will be outweighed.

A hymn that I have newly come to love is #335, Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy. I love each verse, but I'll choose to just type up the 2nd and 3rd verses. The words are stirring:

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

I love this. It's so super important to always keep our spiritual lamps burning--we never know what service we'll be able to give.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. I have faith that the Spirit will attend me as I honestly serve this mission. It's going to change hearts, heal families, and it's going to move forward. I'm grateful to be counted among the "soldiers in the army." It's not about me. It's about Jesus Christ. It's about Malaysia and Singapore--it's about individuals there. Christ heals one by one. I intend to serve people this way. I feel His love. You can too. Pray sincerely several times a day, and never go a day without studying from the Book of Mormon.

Well, gonna go sleep my way across the Pacific Ocean. I love you all.

Sister Gopinath

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MTC Week 8: Final Stretch

Dear everyone,

I'm doing so well and everything is just crazy. I have almost completed my one experience being in the MTC as a missionary. I'm going to tell you honestly some things I've been learning about over the last little while.

I had an interview with one of the branch presidency members the other day, and he asked me, "How are you different now than you were when you first got here, Sister Gopinath?" It was a really good question that sunk into my heart. When I first became a missionary, I was worried that I wouldn't change very much--that my point B would look too much like my point A. But when he asked that question I had a good answer. I still have a way to go, but I am much more humble in heart than I was when I got here. There is just no room for pride--pride messes up everything spiritual, and there is too much at stake. I am continually working on it. I'm also been trying to become more forgiving and loving of others around me--for me, those go hand in hand. I've been blessed with more success here than sometimes I feel. I'm grateful that the Lord cares enough about me to patiently work with me through things like this.

I'm also grateful to have learned a lot about discouragement. This is a weakness of mine--my dad knows what I mean. I feel like negative thoughts about myself, leading to discouragement/lack of faith and hope and motivation, has been a challenge for me here. It's part of being prideful, and it's also part of recognizing the Spirit. I'm not sure how to describe this, but my experience tells me that feelings from the Spirit of God prompting repentance always move me directly to action and hope in Jesus Christ. Feelings of discouragement, which are not from God and delay spiritual progress, do not lead to constructive action but a lack of faith that action/repentance will really change anything. It's just frustration and it gets you stuck. My first few weeks here, I kept saying, "I've never been so aware of my weaknesses before," which I mentally interpreted as something good, as I saw a need for change. But deep down I was really feeling, "I can't really succeed at this, I'm not a good enough person and it's too late to change." There is a huge difference, and it wasn't actually good or faith promoting. We DO need to be aware of our weaknesses so we can take action and so we can repent, but becoming discouraged is a bad thing. There is a section in Preach My Gospel on that. Those negative thoughts hold you down and decrease your ability to receive the Holy Ghost. They're not from God and should be cast out of the mind as quickly as any other kind of inappropriate thought. I've been doing a lot better with this lately. Jesus Christ will show us what we need to repent of as we come unto Him, but He will do it so lovingly that we do not feel inclined to doubt that it's possible. Lasting repentance is always possible. God is infinitely patient and mighty to save. You don't do it alone, and you are not the one that changes you. He changes you.

I love Alma 20:26, which talks about King Lamoni's father whose heart was initially hard when he first met the prophet Ammon. "When he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly." His heart was them softened toward them, he served Lamoni and Ammon, and he desired to hear the word of God they spoke of. It's amazing to me what LOVE can truly do. Love one another as your Savior has loved you.

I also love Alma 28: 13-14. The work of God is SO important. It is the solution to the greatest problem we face in the world or in eternity. It's a great call of diligence. There is SO much joy to be had, if we only live the Gospel!  So much freedom!

I need to go now, but: I know the Gospel is true. God is REAL. He answers sincere prayers! He really really blesses abundantly every person who obeys the commandments he lovingly gives. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay our ransom and qualify us to live in Heaven again. Jesus Christ loves each person individually and you can feel His influence in your life every day if you seek Him. 

I leave for Singapore on Monday. And I pray for you all.

Sister Gopinath

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MTC Week 6, Week 7? I'm losing track!

Hello everyone! 

Wasn't General Conference AMAZING? It was seriously the quickest conference I've ever watched. Also it was so so directed toward missionaries! I felt really blessed. I was sad when it was over but grateful for the chance to hear prophets. So many things touched my heart. We were all hoping they would announce the Singapore Temple (it's going to happen soon, I can feel it!), but they did announce the second best thing--a church fund to give every member a visit to the Temple! I almost cried! The Temple is so important and such a blessing. Now everyone's family will be able to make covenants that, if kept, will seal their family together throughout all eternity. What an incredible thing. (Also we decided it was okay for us that the Singapore Temple hasn't been announced yet, because when they do announce it, we'll be able to say we served and played a small role in getting the church to that point. That will be an amazing day.)

So we only have one more visit to the Temple left until we return home from our missions. I'm sad about that, to be honest, but it's something I can sacrifice temporarily so that others will be able to get there. It doesn't seem like that big of a sacrifice when I think of it that way.

We got new missionaries in going to Indonesia, and they seem cool! It's fun having another group to speak our language with (with the smaller languages like Malay/Indonesian you don't have a lot of people you can speak it to here, unlike Spanish or French or most other languages you've heard of). One of them is from the Phillippines, and the rest are from the US. One of them is "campur"--which means mixed. There are a handful of mixed-race missionaries! Me and three Elders. I'm a fan.

We taught a lesson to our MTC progressing investigator the other day, and she is doing really well. She is going to be baptized on Saturday. In this lesson she asked some questions about the Spirit World, and wanted to know how you can tell if you go to paradise. She gave an example of someone doing a specific serious sin, and felt prompted to ask (don't you love it when the Spirit prompts you to do something really bold?) if she'd ever done that. She said yes, and I asked if she'd stopped. She had. We read scriptures about repentance and forgiveness, and it was clear that she had repented. Forgiveness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is something I have a strong testimony of, and I shared with her that I've been forgiven before and I know the Atonement is real and it works. The Spirit was powerful as I testified this to her, and I forgot in that moment that I was speaking a foreign language. The words came naturally and had feeling behind them. I told her that God had forgiven her because she had changed and chosen to follow Jesus Christ. You could see her countenance change from timid and nervous to peaceful and happy, and she knew it was true. She thanked us and at the end of the lesson told us that it was very good that we could come today (which she hasn't said before). She's almost ready for baptism. Sometimes I struggle with the fact that our investigators are our teachers acting, but this lesson was real. I felt like a real missionary.
I don't always feel like that, like a "real missionary" (as discussed in Conference this past weekend) but I'm getting there. Our other investigator/teacher is a lot more challenging--I wish I had time to write about him. Every day is so different! So many ups and downs, and I haven't even left the MTC yet. I am working on having more faith and hope. I know that Heavenly Father wants me here for a reason, and that although I am weak and simple, the Lord trusts me to get a lot done in this precious and important work. I'm not alone. Jacob 5:72!

The MTC is a great place but now we are counting down the days until we get on that plane. The language is fun, and I need to work harder because it's already getting harder to progress in the language--or at least my progression is less noticeable. We should get our travel plans on Thursday!!! I think about Malaysia every day, and though I've never been there I already love the country so much. Please write me letters! I love hearing from all of you. You're in my prayers! And you're only gonna get one more email from the MTC! I know Jesus Christ lives!

Sister Gopinath

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MTC Week 6: Cool facts.

Hello everyone! 

I'm just going to start every letter out saying how I can't believe how time has flown. We have less than three weeks here!  It's a little bit sad because we've now gone through two sets of English sister missionary roommates... and we're still here. Haha! It's great though, every week I'm more grateful for the MTC. It has been such a spirtually nourishing/strengthening experience, above all else.

Last week, on Tuesday, Elder Nelson came to the MTC! Now we've seen three apostles: Holland, Ballard, and Nelson. We're SUPER blessed. His talk was great, and it was all about the Book of Mormon. It was based on the October Ensign actually. The Book of Mormon is SUCH a RICH blessing to us from God. Through it we can gain access to heaven. It's so pure. Cool fact: the King James Version of the Bible was translated at the average speed of one page per day, and today in the Church scriptures are translated into other languages by the top translators also at the average speed of one page per day. When Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, he translated an average of seven to eight pages per day. I thought that was amazing! The Book of Mormon is a shining light in the darkness, a bright and strong testimony of the reality of our Savior. It's such a faith-strengthening book.

I've been thinking about pride over the last few days. On Sunday we had an amazing Mission Conference and one of the talks was on pride. It was JUST for me - I don't always feel like talks I hear are "just for me" but this one I did. Pride has been the cause of all my hardships since I've gotten to the MTC. Pride is a "root sin" of many other sins, for it's the cause of contention, reluctance to obey, reluctance/slowness to repent, ingratitude, finding fault in others, withholding praise/generous thoughts, caring most about gaining approval for others, and the list goes on. It was an answer to my prayer, because with that knowledge comes the truth that the opposite of pride, and thus the SOLUTION to these sins/problems, is humility, meekness, and submissiveness. There is true spiritual power in humility. There is spiritual strength, spiritual protection, unhindered spiritual progression, truthful perspective, love for others, sincere prayer, repentance, faith, baptism, the reception of the Holy Ghost, a closer relationship with God, strength to overcome temptation, the ability to forgive, glad/natural obedience, peace, increased capability to perform tasks... all of these things and more are fruits of--or at least are connected to--humility. And not just humble actions, but humility of HEART. Sincere, honest humility. Know who you are and what's really going on--Who is really in charge. This has been a major focus for me the last few days.

I've been thinking about something my stake president said years ago. He said that the depth of your discipleship can be measured by how you see other people. That is really meaningful to me. When I am truly following Christ, love for those around me will be natural. Love is the core requirement for discipleship.
For some reason in my stake, we don't put favorite scriptures on the missionary plaques. But if we did, Alma 26:21-22 would be mine. I came across this last week and it's been on my mind constantly. My natural man can't know anything! I can only know the things of God if I have a penitent, or repentant, HEART. I need to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repent (true faith leads to repentance naturally) and do good works (as the Savior did) and pray continually without ceasing in my heart. This is the way I will have a successful mission, and a successful life afterward. I have reflected on this time and again and I wish I had time to share all my thoughts on these two verses.

Read that scripture that talks about having faith unto reptenance, which reference I forgot but you can look it up on Faith and reptentance really go together. Faith in Christ results in (so immediately that I nearly want to say that it includes) a desire to repent of and be freed from your sins. I'm really grateful for that.
Also Nehemiah 6:3, and Joshua 3:5. Since being in the MTC my testimony of the truthfulness of the Bible has also been strengthened a lot. There are so many spiritual insights, and so much we can learn about God through prayerful study of the Bible.

I love this gospel and I know it's true. I know that through the plan that God has made for us, through Jesus Christ's redeeming sacrifice, we have the ability to become clean and live in Heaven with God and with our families forever. Make this gospel (faith, reptentance, baptism/covenants, and the gift of the Holy Ghost) the center of your life. Let Him into your heart.

You are all in my prayers! Thanks for all you do for me.

Sister Gopinath
P.S. Three weeks  left in the USA!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MTC Week 5: An Invincible Summer

Hello everyone!

This sounds so cliche, but "I can't believe how time flies." It's so crazy that I've been here for over a month--we celebrated our one-month/halfway point the other day with candy and watching that documentary about Thomas S. Monson, "On the Lord's Errand." It was great, I love that man. It's so crazy to think that in four weeks, I'm going to be on the other side of the world. I'm so excited. I'm constantly thinking about Malaysia and I have already begun to love the country so much.

So the Elders going to Indonesian were all friends with us Singapore missionaries, and they helped us with the language a lot. They left two weeks ago or so, but before they did they said that week 5 was when the language clicked for them and they felt it was a miracle. We were all hopeful and hesitant at the same time, because this was our week 5 and we didn't feel any different. But since Saturday the language has just been a lot easier somehow. The last few lessons we've taught, I didn't even think about the language, and I was so much more aware of what was really happening because of that shift of focus from the language to what the person was experiencing. It's been great. We've been told here at a devotional that missionaries often come high in attribute, but low in skill. I'm working on both of those but my skills are especially lacking. I think I've said this before but being a missionary, for me, has made all of my flaws and shortcomings glaringly obvious. I'm learning how to rely on the Lord, and learning how to repent constantly. I'm so grateful to be here at the MTC, I feel like I'm learning so much! I'm determined to hit the ground running.

On Saturday, a volunteer came in and we taught her about effectively studying the Book of Mormon (she was a member). She had a lot of cool insights and had a sweet spirit with her. Oh, and did I mention that she was a native Indonesian? And did I mention how I understood what she said? It was awesome. The Spirit was there in our lesson and she said it made her want to serve a mission (she's been considering it). It was super cool.

It's been interesting because as I've strived to come closer to the Spirit and deepen my testimony here, I've felt that I become more and more comfortable within myself. These gospel principles, sincere prayer, etc. are all familiar. There's this quote by someone I don't remember and it says something like "When the dead of Winter had began to pass, I discovered to my surprise that within me lay an invincible Summer." (Albert Camus) I feel that way about spiritual things for us as children of God, because as such, we are spiritual beings. That's something that is constant and eternal and will never change. Whenever I renew my testimony of some gospel principle, it feels so right and nourishing and natural that it reminds me of Where I came from. Spirituality has a place within each of us, because spirituality is our core identities--we are spirits!
Read John 10. I've developed such a love for the Bible since I've been here. There are so many precious things to be found, so many insights into the gospel and into the life of our Savior. Also I read Romans 6 the other day and was really impressed with/spoken to by the insight offered there. OH! And read the October Ensign!!!! So so so good!!!

I'm sorry this email is shorter! I will write a better one next week. I love all of you and pray for you often. I am loving the MTC and learning so much. My companions are huge blessings to me, and so are my teachers. It's hard, but I KNOW that I'm in the right place. I know that God lives and loves me. He loves each of His children, everywhere. He remembers the isles of the sea. The Atonement can be a real part of our lives and is key to everything good that we can hope to obtain. We owe everything to our Savior, and He loves us so deeply and completely and truly. He is real! God is not far away. Don't pray as if Heaven is miles away--Heavenly Father is RIGHT there. It's not a "long distance relationship'' kind of thing. Pray and remember that He is close to you. ''I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." I know this is true!

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MTC Week 4 - Time is Flying By!

Hello everyone!

I really can't believe another week has gone by. As of yesterday (Monday the 12th), I have only 5 weeks left here until I leave this side of the world. The days are long but the weeks fly by so fast, it's almost scary.

But this week was good. I think everyone in my district is getting to the point with their companions where they have to start paying more attention to the needs of their companionships and actually working out problems that come up. Some of the elders have had a hard time this week, but everyone is heading in a good direction. Most missionaries have times with their companions when it's tempting to be selfish and prideful, but instead we're asked to be selfless and humble and loving and patient. We're asked to qualify for the pure love of Christ when that's not initially something that may come naturally. It's such a good opportunity for us, and me personally, to learn how to work closely with someone--things will certainly come up every now and then, but if you handle it well it can serve you so much. I can already see why, from this angle, missions bless families. We're all going to come back better at being in a family. I know I am.
My Malay is coming along! It's such a fun language, such an interesting one. I'll write more about it later. The other day I could understand everything my teacher said. I'm working on recognizing the feeling behind people's words, and putting sincerity into my own words, instead of just focusing on "What vocab do I know? What words can I pick out? What do I know how to say?" It's really helped me to focus more on "What are they feeling? Where is this coming from? What do they need to understand? What is the Spirit saying?" It's a challenge, but an important thing to be able to focus on.

I've been thinking about the reason why so many missionaries come home so different than they were when they left. There's nothing magic here, no secrets that I've discovered. What makes missionaries remarkable is--hopefully--the fact that we try to put the Lord first in everything every day, and we try to be consistently obedient and consistently seek to serve those around us. Consistency over a "long" period of time (even 18-24 months) has a profound and LASTING effect on people. If LDS missionaries went out for 3 months, generally they would come back unchanged--and if they did come back different, it'd be more short-lived. To me that stresses the importance of being consistent over time. At EFY this summer, we talked a lot about "Taking It Home," which meant continuing to keep commandments at home after returning from EFY. I taught several lessons on this. Now I'm learning more about why it's important. Six days (or even six weeks) of being obedient and spiritual won't change you or change your life--it can only start you on a path of consistency that WILL change you and change your life. I hope that makes sense. I think people come back from their missions different in a very non-superficial way. Their hearts have changed, they truly have become better from deep within. This kind of change takes consistency over time and it lasts. The change lasts, and continues to deepen because the mission will set a pattern for your life. I think it's super cool. It's not magic; it's way more real than magic. It's the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It's His power to change our hearts. It's our Heavenly Father's Plan of Redemption, or Plan of Happiness. It's such a beautiful thing. Enduring to the end in our lives means continually applying the first four principles of the Gospel: faith, repentance, baptism (sacrament and Temple covenants), and (receiving/working for) the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It's a process that we NEED to continually be going through in order to become Christlike. It's continual progress, it's continual change. It's Christ preparing us for what is to come.

I've also been thinking about the importance of the heart. It says in Moroni 10:3 (maybe 4?) that after we have received these things, we should ponder it in our hearts. We need to involve our hearts in this process. Christ in interested in changing your HEART, not changing your mind. He works from inside out. Your scripture study won't help you as much if you don't open your heart, involve your heart. Your prayers are less likely to bring you closer to God if you don't speak to Heavenly Father from your heart. Speak what is in your heart, open your heart. Let the truths of the Restored Gospel, let the Holy Spirit of God, deep into your HEART. Seek to feel it in your heart. And think about it--a heart pumps blood into the rest of your body. If your heart is changed, your entire body is affected. This is a spiritual principle. Your entire self, your entire life, will feel the effects of whatever condition your heart is in. There's so much potential for good. Deep, lasting good!

I love this Gospel! Please send me letters with your thoughts, and please pray for my Malay and also for the other missionaries going to Malaysia. We need it! :) Thank you so much for the prayers you already have been offering. We DEFINITELY feel the effects of those prayers. I love being here, and I know I belong here. I'm so grateful and humbled at the chance to represent our Savior. I love you all!

Sister Gopinath