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