Sunday, December 30, 2012

Walk the Path

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

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

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

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

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chains He Will Break

Good week... We had a good day at Church--the Elder's Quorum President, I guess, went contacting outside a mall on Saturday and invited someone to church. That guy came, and stayed the full three hours and also attended the ward Christmas party. He seemed so nice and happy to be there. Unfortunately he is only here on vacation, but we're hoping to meet with him after Christmas and send a referral to the Philippines. That was a cool little miracle. 

Also, the Relief Society President brought a friend to the ward Christmas party, and we were all able to take her on a tour of the church (highlights included the chapel and the baptismal font). She seemed a little nervous when we first met her but by the end she felt much more comfortable and opened up a lot more. She said she would meet us again after the holidays, so we're excited about that! Our ward members are so amazing for inviting their friends and acquaintances to church!

A highlight this week was attending my last Zone Conference. The highlight was definitely not that it was my last, but because it was so great. I love Zone Conferences. In our mission, because it's so spread out over a large area, we rarely get to see missionaries who are not serving nearby (I think it might be different in the US). But at Zone Conferences, which are combined with several Zones together, we can gather together as missionaries and rejoice. It sounds cheesy but it is so filling for me to see missionaries I've known and served with throughout my mission, and see that they are still "my brethren in the Lord." That they have been serving faithfully, and have overcome trials, and have grown stronger in faith and character and confidence. There is one Elder who was in the MTC with me, who I almost don't recognize because of how much he has let the mission change him (in a good way). It's really cool and a joyful experience.

I also love Zone Conferences because of the strong Spirit that is always there. This time it was a Christmas Zone Conference, which was really nice. We watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional (amazing) and sang so many Christmas hymns and heard talks about Christmas and how relevant Christmas is to missionary work. We had, also, a testimony meeting at the end where they requested especially for the missionaries who are going home soon to bear their "last" testimony. The Spirit was seriously so strong. 

I shared my testimony; I think the entire thing was driven by this line from O Holy Night: "Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother." I have taught many people who are truly in chains, truly in bondage of many kinds -- bondage of sin, unbelief, idolatry, poverty, addiction, hatred, abuse, undesirable family situations, difficult economic situations... there are many kinds of bondage. And these weren't just random people I met. These were people that I taught and loved and desired salvation for. It has taken a toll on my heart, to see someone I love suffering and be totally unable to do anything except bear my testimony of the Savior and try to help them keep the commandments. I cannot heal them. I cannot take away their burden. Sometimes I could hardly bear their burdens. 

But there is One who can. This bondage is exactly why God sent His Holy Son into the world. The significance of Christmas is not so much the fact that Christ was born, but that His birth meant that He would someday sacrifice Himself for us. Because He did that, He can heal. He can lighten burdens, and ultimately bring us to overcome every trial. Chains will He break, for the slave is our brother and in His name, all oppression will cease. Because of our Savior, our bondage does not need to last forever. Indeed, most of it is definitely temporary, and through obedience to the commandments, all of it can be ultimately removed. We will be changed. We will be freed. 

I am so grateful for the Christmas season because of how close we can feel to the Savior, if He is the center of our Christmas. Truly, He taught us to love one another. He's the reason we give gifts. He's the reason we gather with our families at Christmastime, and through Him, someday we will be able to gather together with our families, never to part again. 

I am humbled and grateful to be His missionary.

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, December 16, 2012

God Makes Up the Rest

This week was an intense one with all the transfer things, visa issues, and helping Sister Lim (a missionary from Singapore going to the St. George Utah Mission) get her visa ready to leave for the States. I look forward to Zone Conference this week.

I also am really grateful for Sister Black. She came to me the first night and expressed her desire to work hard and to be obedient and to work on improving herself as a missionary. She is so humble and open and patient and kind. I'm really impressed with her pure heart. I'm really excited to work with her.

A cool miracle this week was that on Saturday night, I was feeling a little discouraged... we had gone out tracting and had trouble finding anyone in our area (Filipinos). I felt we had wasted time trying, and I was just feeling down and had lost some of my hope. But that night after we came home, I sat down to write in my journal, and the name "Ronan" popped into my head--the name of a man from the potential investigators list in the area book. I felt like I should give him a call right then and there, which I did, and he accepted the invitation to come to Church the next morning.

We picked him up from the train station to show him where the church was, and he is a good and humble man. He said he is a Catholic, but he is looking for some "peace of mind." When we walked up to the chapel, I told him, "This is the Church," I could suddenly feel the Spirit. He could feel it too. He really enjoyed sacrament meeting as well, and meeting the members of the Third Ward. He felt very at home. His wife and children are out of town for the holidays (he had to stay because of work), but when he come back he wants to bring them to church. 

It was a testimony to me that when we do everything within our power, God makes up the rest. When we push ourselves to our limits, the blessings come. He is excited to come again next week and we are excited to start teaching him. 

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sacred Responsibility

The most pertinent news is that transfers are happening this week... it's like I've received my death sentence! I am very blessed to be staying in the Third Ward (Filipino ward). It's exciting. I'm also going to be with a new companion--her name is Sister Black, and she's from Utah. I'm looking forward to it. 

This week hasn't been so eventful... we have been teaching Brother Julius about the priesthood, since he was ordained as a priest. I was so proud of him. He described the feelings he had as he was being ordained--he said that though he didn't understand everything that was involved with it, he felt that God was trusting him with a sacred responsibility and that he now wears an invisible badge on his chest that he has to uphold. I love the priesthood and I'm so grateful for the effect it has on the men that I know.

We've found a couple of new investigators, but they are all leaving Singapore for Christmas... it will be interesting to see how it goes. 

I forgot to mention that I met someone named Gopinath! He pulled me aside and told me his name was Gopinath. He was from southern India and I wish he had wanted to learn about the Gospel, but he wasn't interested... but that was the first time I've met someone with the same name as me. So it was cool :) haha.

I love the Gospel and I'm grateful to be a missionary. We have such a sacred responsibility as missionaries and also as members of this incredible church. I'm grateful for Temples as well and the blessings that come to us spiritually and as families because Temple ordinances have been restored.

The Savior lives!

Sister Gopinath

Sunday, December 2, 2012

These are the Lord's "Elect"

This week was a humbling one. I'll tell you why.

During our district meeting this week, we were talking about teaching people who don't come from a Christian background, and the discussion began to be about finding investigators who are not from a Christian background. A concern popped into my head, which I brought up. While I was in KL (Kuala Lumpur), I met very few Christians. I taught several non-Christian investigators, but they were exceptional people who'd had a fascination with Jesus Christ for years. I loved them with all my heart. But I talked about how these days, I talk to a stranger and invite them to learn about Jesus Christ and if they are turned off by the name "Jesus Christ," I let go and don't try to push it because I don't think it will go anywhere. I tell myself that to be saved, all men need to believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and if they don't even like his name then there's nothing I can do. So I bring up his name and see their reaction, and if it's negative, I move on.

I got a few responses from other missionaries that really impressed me. One Elder said that the Lord is preparing people specifically to receive the Gospel. These are the Lord's "elect." But we, as missionaries who are imperfect mortals, will not always recognize the elect. So we need to try to find a way to relate to Gospel to anyone we meet, because although the name Jesus Christ may not be important to them yet, it will be someday. They may not know what they are looking for, or where to look for it. But we need to do our best to help them receive the Gospel. 

This really humbled me and caused me to reflect. I will not always recognize the elect. Even people whose baptisms I have attended... at first, I didn't know that they would be baptized. It will require more patience and faith and energy on my part, but I am going to work on adjusting my teaching to meet the needs of anyone I meet... to do the best I can. 

A highlight of the week was seeing Joachim in the hallway at church! I'm not in his ward anymore, so I haven't seen him in about a month. But yesterday we bumped into him! I was SO happy to see him! He has changed in the last month! He was wearing a tie! He was smiling so big! He said, "Sister, finally we meet!" He talked about how he holds the priesthood now, and he passes or blesses the sacrament every Sunday. He said he is very blessed. I was so impressed with him. He seemed more confident--he was glowing just as bright as the day he was baptized. Even his English had improved. Even though he's a few years older than me, I feel like he is my son, in a way. He is like a bud that is blooming into a brilliant flower. I'm so proud of him. The holy priesthood makes men into men. 

Speaking of which, Brother Julius received the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday, and was ordained to the office of a priest. It was so great. He felt the Spirit strongly all day. So rewarding.

I know the Gospel is true. I love being a missionary. It is not easy, and I think it won't ever be easy. It's okay that way, though. It was never easy for the Savior. I know our Savior lives and loves us. This is His Church. Families can be together forever. The Temple is the house of God.

Sister Gopinath