Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Small Part in His Work

This week... it's been good. We've met a lot of people, even people who would meet with us, but it's hard because they are all so overwhelmed with work. People from the Philippines are mostly housemaids that work 12 hours or more every day, with on average 1 or 2 off days a month. They are all exhausted, and a lot of them are struggling emotionally... so we've met a lot of people who we feel would accept the Gospel, but maybe right now it's not their time. We're still working on finding the people whose time is now. 

The other day I contacted a family from Switzerland while doing door approaches. This is noteworthy because western-culture people are generally very rude to us missionaries, so it's intimidating to talk to them in general, but I didn't feel scared at all as I bore testimony of the Savior and of eternal families. They didn't want to learn more, but it was a personal victory to be able to testify boldly and feel no fear. Someday they will know.

Success/highlight of the week: Brother Jesse got baptized yesterday! It was the sweetest baptismal service ever. His good friend Jenny (she was the one who first invited him to church and has been there for everything) gave a talk on baptism, and talked about his example has impacted her life. She said, "Never once did I see in him any doubt or fear about anything. Only faith." She was close to tears the entire time as she bore testimony of the Gospel and the blessings that baptism has brought to her life. Jesse really is an amazing example--what Jenny said about him is true. He is full of faith, not fear. His heart is soft and he finds it easy to believe the word of God. He is a great man. I can see him in the Elders Quorum Presidency soon.

Then we watched the baptismal ordinance. I have been to many baptisms on my mission. The Spirit of God is always there. This time, when we saw brother Jes go down into the water, God's Spirit pierced my heart. The image of them standing there in the font, heads bowed in reverence and solemnity, touched my heart. When I got my mission call, it came with a booklet full of information about my mission. On the cover is a picture of a man being baptized. That image came to my mind--I felt I was looking at the real-life version of that image, and I cried. Brother Jesse's heart is so humble and sincere and willing to do whatever God requires of him. He is on the path home to His Father's kingdom. He's on the path to the Temple. (We are trying to get him and Jenny together... hehe.)

I feel so privileged that God let me come here and get to play a small part in His work. Times like these remind me why I am here and what we are really trying to do. I love being a missionary and I'm excited for whatever is next. I feel that there's something good coming around the corner.

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Making Choices

This last week included August 17th. August 17th was the day I reported to the MTC last year. It was fun to be here in Singapore for it, because four or five of the Elders who were in the MTC with me were also there. We all talked about it, about how FAST this last year has gone and how different we all are now.

I remember the day I went into the MTC as if it were four months ago instead of twelve. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea what a mission was even like. But I was excited and I felt that God wanted me there. I can't believe that was a year ago. 

At the same time, though, so much has happened. I feel I have aged (matured) at three or four times the normal speed. On my 22nd birthday, it felt strange to be turning 22 because I feel that internally I have been 24 all year. I still have a lot to learn, of course, but I have seen and experienced things this past year that I never knew existed. Feelings I didn't know I could feel... people in live situations that I never knew about. People in spiritual places I never knew anyone could be in (good and also very bad). I am still growing up but I feel that in many ways my mission has made me an adult, made me a woman. It's given me a chance to see the world through spiritual eyes, to see the world for what it really is. 

This week we visited an inactive part-member family... the husband is an American and hasn't been to church in at least 15 years, probably more like 20+. He married a Catholic Singaporean. She passed away earlier this year, but their three children are still Catholic and are brought to church every week, from what I understand, by their relatives. He told us that he wants to wait until the kids are old enough, and he'll let them follow whatever religion they want when they're old enough to make the decision. It was interesting to spend some time with them. They have a good relationship with each other, from what I can see. They joke around that seem to like spending time with each other. He says that sometimes he tells them Book of Mormon stories, and he keeps the Book of Mormon by his bed. I started to ask him questions about what his concerns are why he is not living the Gospel. I wanted to ask him more questions... but he said he felt gloom in the room so he was going to change the topic, which he did. That gloom was the Spirit (or absence of the Spirit) teaching us about how we should not let others' sins or mistakes lead to our own personal apostasy. I didn't say that to him, but it was a good learning experience for me. I wonder what will happen with this family. We want to teach his children so that they CAN make that choice, and make it with an understanding of what they are choosing. We'll see how it goes.

I know that the Gospel is true and that God is real and loves us. He gives us commandments so we can be happy and have His Spirit with us. I've experienced that firsthand in my life--that obedience brings the Spirit of the Lord into our lives.

Sister Gopinath

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Time of Adjustment

​I have now been in Singapore for over a week. I'm starting to adjust, and I'm liking it more and more. I think it's been the hardest adjustment I've had to make since getting in the mission field. I am with new people--new companion, new room mates, new house, new wards, big expensive city. I think God is, once again, trying to teach me patience and resilience. Also, Filipinos here speak very good English--they are taught American English too. So it's been a language adjustment as well. My spoken English got very poor in Malaysia--I even would mix Malay words in and almost never say the English word/could not remember the English word, because the Malay word better described the thing. So I am re-learning English. It's exciting.

Last week we had a lesson with people who are of the Baha'i faith. There is more than one point in my telling you this story, but I'll start with one that is relevant to my bad English. To the lesson, we brought two of the Elders in our Zone because there were some people there who live in their area. So it was four missionaries and four people who came to meet us. Two were Singaporean, one was Canadian, and one was Moroccan. All of them had really good English... and I have been in Malaysia for the past 10 months. So anyway we had a really good discussion and I participated quite a bit, and afterwards as we were walking home, Elder Shone came and was talking to me. He said something like, "I really appreciate the way that you teach, and the spirit that you invite as you teach. Also I can tell that English isn't your normal teaching language." I laughed. He is a Linguistics major, so he was paying attention to my sentence structure and the way I expressed certain ideas which apparently was heavily influenced by Malaysia. I thought that was interesting and amusing. Maybe someday I'll get good English again...

Some other points of telling about that lesson was to mention how the woman from Canada has read the Book of Mormon for education purposes. But she didn't get the point of it and doesn't know it's true yet. It's funny that someone can miss the message of the Book of Mormon if the Holy Ghost and real intent isn't a big part of your study.

I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, and the Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the world. I know that not from logic or reasoning or my own opinion, but I know it because I have received personal revelation directly from God through His Spirit. What a priceless gift. I know He lives.

I am out of time, but Singapore is great. I'll write more next week.

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Entire Country Is My Area!

Today is my 3rd day in Singapore. I was really sad to leave KL--especially sad to leave Sister Noorda, who I love, and Jack, who has been really struggling lately and has been on his way back up. He's been an investigator I've been able to connect with in a really good way, and teach him just the way he needed to be taught. I care for him a lot. My last lesson with him was one of the hardest things I've done on my mission. Everyone held back tears until after we parted--ripped the bandaid off. It was one of those times when "God Be With You 'til We Meet Again" doesn't seem cheesy at all. I really do pray that God with be with him and my other investigators who I love as well. I feel nervous that I won't be there to keep teaching them and talking with them but I know that actually, they were never MY investigators to begin with. They belong to God. I would never have even met any of those people in the first place if it weren't for Heavenly Father guiding us and taking care of us and blessing us. I know that He will continue to do that for people like Jack and Deva and Dr. C and Freddy and for me as well. I'm so grateful that God placed me in the paths of these precious people and allowed me to play a small part in their journey back to Him.

So now I'm in Singapore, with Sister Anderson. She was born in Beijing but was adopted by her parents in America when she was a young girl. She is hilarious and great. 

Our area is ALL OF SINGAPORE, but we have a special assignment... we are in charge of two wards: the 1st Ward, which is an ex-patriot ward (Americans, Europeans, random other places), and the 3rd Ward, which is the Filipino Ward. So basically, Sister Anderson and I are in charge of finding and teaching people from the Philippines. Initially I had mixed feelings about not teaching Singaporeans, but I think the conclusion is that I'm pumped. All of the other missionaries are jealous--and they tell that to us. So it's great. Yesterday we met with an investigator named Jesus, we call him Brother Jesse. He's awesome! He's so prepared and going to be baptized in a few short weeks. He is the kind of person who finds it easy to believe the word of God. He is sensitive to the Spirit and very purehearted. I'm excited. I still just got here, really, but I've been told that Filipinos love the missionaries and love the Gospel so I should have a good time. I imagine that it's similar to being in the US, serving a Spanish-speaking mission in a very clean and safe Chicago (or whatever big city you want to pick). I'm excited to see how this goes. Also, in the 1st Ward we have a dinner calendar so we get fed American food 2 or 3x a week. :) So different than Malaysia!

Anyway that's mostly it. I am still adjusting to this change... Singapore is full of wealthy people, and the whole city is kind of like a shopping mall. It's a different mindset, and although it definitely feels Asian here, the mindset is a lot more Western. It's like being in a different mission. But I'm looking forward to serving here.

I know that God takes care of us and our families. He is real and He guides us and loves us. The Book of Mormon is true. We are each in His hands. He sent His Son to pave for us the path to peace and eternal life. 

Sister Gopinath

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Precious Gift

​This week also not much to update, because I've been sick for a few days (headaches, exhaustion, stomach problems) and we've had to stay in for a while. Yesterday was my first day up and running again--I am now fine. But... some stuff that has happened:

Sister Noorda and I both spoke in sacrament meeting on Sunday--about missionary work/preparing for missions. It was cool. I felt like getting that assignment meant that our Branch President trusts us as missionaries. We have a strong group of young men in our branch and so I tried to aim my talk toward them... it reminded me of being at EFY talking to the young men about serving missions. I talked a lot about the necessity of personal worthiness and personal testimony of the Gospel. Anyway, it was a good experience. I love the members in my branch.

Memorable experience on a train: I was trying to talk to this one Chinese lady, and she was really nice but she was having trouble understanding me because she isn't "English educated" as they say here. She called her sister, who is English educated, to come sit by me to translate but I just started talking to her sister. I told her I am a missionary and she said she'd been to Christian churches a few times before, though her family is Buddhist. I began to share about how through Jesus Christ we can find strength to face our trials. I could tell from her body language that she was listening very intently to everything I said. I shared that Christ had blessed me and my family, and that we share a message about Him and His love for us. She was very quiet. The Spirit was there quite noticeably and I knew she felt it. I felt like she may have gotten goosebumps, which isn't something that happens on the train every day.  I asked if she was interested in learning more, and she paused and said, "...okay. Can..." She paused again and said, "Later lah," brushing aside the spiritual feelings she'd been having. I asked for her phone number, but she smiled and said there was no need for that. I made sure she had our phone number and gave her a pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation, and we parted on a friendly note as she got off the train. She'd decided that now was not the time, and I don't know what will happen to her, but I KNOW she felt the Spirit of God testify to her of Christ, and it was cool thing to be there for that. 

We went and visited the sister of that member who came to District Conference, the one with the husband who doesn't like the church. Her sister took us to her house and we had a nice visit with her. We now know where she lives, which is good news :) We'll be going back there soon.

Everyone else is still doing well. We gave Jack a pocket-sized Book of Mormon for his birthday, so now he can keep it with him all the time and read it during his quiet moments at work (security guards aren't always the busiest people in the world). After we gave it to him, he texted us later that day and said, "Thank you for the precious gift you gave me."

Being a missionary is great. 

Philippians 4:7 -- "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (footnote: guard) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." I like that verse, and I've felt that in my life as well. As we come closer to God by keeping His commandments and living the Gospel, there is a peace that comes to us that cannot be found anywhere else or through any other way. It is the peace of God. It endures even through test and trial--it lasts forever. Closeness to the Lord--having his Spirit, feeling this peace--is something I really want to have every day of my life here in this world. I'm grateful that Christ marked that path for us to walk.

Sister Gopinath