Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 36

Hola mi familia estabamos un pokito pollo loco.

What a week, what a week. As you can see, I've been brushing up on my Spanish skills. The other elders had a less active come to church this week and he speaks Spanish and his English isn't very good, so I was trying to speak some of the Spanish I learned in school, and I realized that I didn't learn very much at all.... hahaha and it didn't help that every time I tried to say Yo, I would say Wo. hahaha it was a struggle and a half and I ended up just pointing to myself and saying "Gringo" and then speaking English... hahaha I guess the gift of tongues is only in Chinese for me...

This week was a lot of figuring out what's going on with our newly formed area. I don't know how we did it, but elder Wang and I got the best possible area we could have out of this whole situation. The area that elder Barlow and I were in has almost all of the less actives in the ward, and the area Elder Hixson and Elder Wang had covers the highest Chinese population in the whole city. hahaha it's like the best of both worlds, but it's weird because we've got downtown Wollongong and the University, and that's just a weird little island that we take care of, and then it jumps up to the far north suburbs and I looks really weird on our map we made, but I'm okay with it. I got to meet the people that Elder Wang was working with and it was really awesome. There's Trish, a uni student from Zimbabwe; Gong, a Uni student from China and Bruce Li, another uni student from China. They're all awesome people and I'm so excited to talk to them more about the gospel.

This week was Elder Wang's 20th birthday on Saturday. Friday night after basketball we surprised him at the other elders' flat with some hot pot and cake, then Saturday between sessions of conference the sisters surprised him with a cake, and in the afternoon, the Zone leaders came up and surprised him at our flat with cake and pizza. We probably should have coordinated better, but I will say, he definitely didn't see the triple-threat surprise party coming and he was definitely the most scared on the last one. hahahaha it was great, except we had just come from a Tongan feed for lunch and we couldn't eat any more food so the cake is still in our fridge. But there's nothing wrong with that.

General conference was FLIPPIN AMAZING. They didn't talk about missionaries very much which was kindof disappointing, but I really enjoyed what was said. They started it off strong, too with two of my favorite hymns and Elder Holland speaking. hahaha I was lovin it. I loved what he said about enduring tribulation. I enjoyed Elder Oaks talk in the priesthood session as well. I can't remember exactly what it was about, but I remember putting a star next to it in my notes so i'll have to go study over that one again. I heard that there were going to be members of the church protesting on temple square during priesthood. Did that happen? or was it just a rumor? President Monson's Talk on love was also inspiring. he talked about the commandment to love God and to love your neighbor. In 1 John 4:10 it talks about how God first loved us, so it's like a cycle of Love goin on down here. God loves every one of his children and we are first expected to Love God, then to love others, and when we love others, we will do things to help them feel the love God has for them which will help them develop a love for God. And then it just get's paid forward. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

Hope you all had an awesome conference. I'd love to hear your insights on the talks so feel free to email me those!!! I was able to testify of the reality of a living prophet on the earth this week and watching him speak gave me another confirmation that he is called of God to lead and guide us in these days. I am so thankful that God doesn't expect us to make it back on our own, because I'm pretty sure I'd be very lost without people here to help me. Love you all! Have a great week! Thank you for the prayers! I can feel it for sure!

Week 35

Alright well here we are at the beginning of another 6 weeks in paradise. 

On Saturday we got the call from the zone leaders and they told me that Elder Barlow was getting transferred! DANGIT! but they wouldn't tell me anyone else because they weren't in my district. Dumb, I know. So we get a call from Elder Hall about five minutes later and he tells us that Elder Hixson is getting transferred too! DOUBLE DANGIT! But here's the kicker: They told us right then and there that there would be nobody replacing those two and elder Wang and I are now companions! Hahaha I couldn't believe it! hahaha so I ended up going out with Elder Wang because they had an appointment with an investigator on Saturday. His name is Bruce Li. hahahaha he's hilarious. It was in total native Chinese and I couldn't understand most of it, but we taught the whole plan of Salvation. And then on Saturday night We were sitting there, and they had taken a break from packing their stuff, and Elder Hixson said, "This is kindof awkward because its like we (he and I) used to be together, and now you (me and Barlow) are together, and you (me and wang) WILL be together, so it's like Tingey is living with his past, present, and future girlfriends...." hahahahaha it was pretty much the funniest thing ever. and you DIDN'T have to be there. hahaha 

Elder Barlow went up to Oatlands, up near Paramatta, and Hixson went down to Narooma, which is way down the coast. It's beautiful, but there are about 0 Chinese people... poor guy. Everyone was hoping for Bankstown 3rd Chinese branch, but nothing going for them. Perhaps someday I will reach the promised land where there is milk and honey and hot pots every week after church. hahaha I think the best thing about transfers is the transfer meeting. It's always so awesome to hear the departing missionaries testimonies and words of wisdom. This transfer, one of our APs went home and his final testimony was so powerful. His name is elder Purriri and he's someone I've really looked up to on my mission. Then, as is tradition when highly respected missionaries go home, We did the haka in the gym. I had elder Barlow film it for me and i'll try to put it on the drop box, but it was cool because we did the first part to him, then he did one back to us, and then we finished. It was intense. Hahaha I just wish I didn't look so shrimpy compared to all the huge Polynesians..... but that was really cool.

It's been crazy because we combined the Wollongong B and Wollongong F areas so we're trying to figure out what to do. We doubled our investigators and most of Wollongong F's investigators were Chinese so I'm really excited about that. My Chinese is slowly improving. I just need to learn more words. and get more comfortable with the grammar. In our Chinese gospel principles class on sunday, I was asked to read a scripture, and when class was over, elder Hixson's (now my) investigator, Gong, told me I sound like a Chinese person. That made me so happy. hahaha but that doesn't matter too much if I can't understand what people are saying to me... hahaha. But I'm excited for what will happen with my Chinese this transfer.

General conference is coming up this week and I just can't wait. I remember last general conference was my first week in the field. It was also the time I met Bernadine. Crazy how much has happened in those 6 months. Hahaha still feel like I don't know what I'm doing... but I think the difference is, I'm less worried. I've come to know that God has a pattern of using the improbable to accomplish his work so that there is no question of who is behind it. (that's pretty much a direct quote from when elder nelson came and spoke so I'm not claiming it) and I definitely feel like an improbable one. hahaha I was watching all these departing missionaries bear their testimonies yesterday and I thought, man, I've got a ways to go to become as strong as them, but looking back on where I was 8 months ago, I think I'm definitely making progress toward where I want to be in 2015.

Love you all. The Church is true. We've got a prophet on the earth today and I can't wait to hear him speak on sunday! The lord has his hand in each of our lives a lot more than we realize. I know that to be true. You are all the best, I pray for you all and I feel your prayers daily.


Elder Tingey

Friday, April 4, 2014

Week 34

Well here we go. 

What a week. What a week. I'll try to remember everything that happened this week. Monday after email and shopping we went back to the flat because it was pouring rain and played chess. I am by far the worst in our flat. Elder Wang is Chinese and Elder Hixson and Barlow both did chess club in high school. I was embarrassed over and over and so we came up with a new form of chess. One person gets all the pieces, and the other person only gets a pawn and their king, BUT that person can do two moves each turn. Go try it. it's pretty nuts. Ya, we got pretty bored.... hahaha Then we had dinner at the stewarts like we do every Monday night. They have 12 missionaries over for dinner every week! They are so awesome. But it kept raining all night and on Tuesday when we woke up we got a call that bishops yard had flooded so we went and shoveled mud out of his driveway and grass for a good 6 hours. hahaha I was sooo sore after it. And then we all had dinner at his house that night so we spent pretty much all day there! 

Then on Tuesday we took the train (we are running low on Kilometers for the month) up to a place called Stanwell Park. It's really pretty up there. We walked around and talked to people and tried to get some potentials so we had a reason to come back in the future, but nothing doin. All goods, though, cuz we saw dolphins. it was cool because up there it goes from rainforest to beach in a couple meters. So then we came back to Wollongong and visited some less actives. 

Thursday I was on Trade-offs with elder Quass (oh yeah, I'm district leader...hahaha but I've only had to give 2 trainings this transfer because of zone training meetings and conferences) He is Chinese, but raised in Minnesota. It was a good day, but I think having a car has made me soft... We were on foot and I was sooo tired by the end of the day. We took the bus at one point and I sat down next to a Chinese guy (as usual) and started speaking some Chinese with him. He talked really fast and the bus was loud so I couldn't understand much of what he was saying, but he told me my Chinese is very clear and easy to understand for him. hahahaha but he had to say it in English cuz I couldn't understand what he was saying.... awkward... hahaha but I think he was speaking partially the dialect of where he's from(can't remember which province it is) but then he got off before I could bring up the gospel. That's the trouble with busses. You have literally no time to introduce them to the gospel, but I decided this week that I need to study basketball terms because Chinese people love talking about the NBA. So Ive been learning teams in my free time and star players. hahaha gotta love that lanqiu.

 Friday the whole zone had interviews with president lew. It was really good. He gave both me and elder Barlow some really good advice. And sister lew told me to make sure I was excercising so I don't gain too much weight, and then gave me a tim tam. (ps: tim tams are the best thing in this world) Saturday we did heaps of less active work because our ward list got messed up and names of students that got baptized here, and moved back to china have been coming back onto our system so they have had the missionaries visiting all the addresses to see if it's really them and where they are if it's not. It results in a lot of exciting experiences, and a bunch of extremely awkward ones as well.... hahahaha its great though. and then we went back to the flat and called potential investigators because we found in our area book that potentials from like a year ago hadn't been contacted yet. Barlow called one named anna and the first thing we hear when she answers is "wei" so barlow just dove in head first with the Chinese and it was awesome. If you didn't know, phone Chinese is about 10 times harder than regular Chinese because all you hear is faoaifls;jkgal;jkasl;jasl;jajcuelx,eposmdfas;iowfmaf and you just say hao, hao. hahahahahaha it was awesome. but eventually we had to revert to English so we could actually communicate with her and she asked us to text her the address of our chapel and the meeting times so hopefully she comes this week to church!

 Then sunday we had church, visited some less actives, then had dinner. all in all, a great week. And going into the last week of the transfer, we're gonna have an even better one. love you all! Remember to pray for missionary opportunites! The church is true! For those that are following along in the book of Mormon reading, how awesome are the war chapters of alma??? Moroni and Heleman just are the coolest guys ever.
Take luck!
-Elder 田

Week 33

Just another beautiful week in the GONG! Things are going great. I'm not sick and guess who's back down to 95 kilos?!?!?!?! I think the diet is working!! Hahaha but we were miserable last week, so we decided to throw the diet out the window, and try a new workout routine. I'm pretty confident that will work. Plus it's hard to keep a diet when members feed you...

This week we met some cool as people that we helped move into their new flat. They're from CHINA!!! Frank and Shelly are their American names. we spent most of Saturday with Frank and he is such a solid guy. He said shelly might want to study the bible with us and that would be awesome.

We started a new tradition of Wednesday night hot pot with all the Chinese speakers. One of the Chinese recent converts of the other elders was moving to Adelaide and so he gave them a hot pot stove. So now on Wednesday nights we go over and have some hot pot. spicy food doesnt' really bother me anymore. You could say I'm a Sichuan 的 人. It's funny because we'll go to white people's houses for dinner and they'll say, "it's pretty spicy. Sorry, I hope you're okay with that.." and then I can't even tell it's spicy at all! I just pound lao gan ma and rice all day.

I don't know if I've told you this, but our ward choir is like legit. We don't mess around. We're called the Wollongong Pipes. And the reason I'm telling you this is because yesterday I made the switch from bass to tenor. I know, I know, I'm crazy. But we've only got one other tenor so it doesnt' sound very good. We'll see how it goes, but judging from yesterday, we're gonna smash it. We're singing a song called "because he lives" for easter sunday.

I found a cool scripture in Corinthians that I figured I'd share with all yall. It's 1 Corinthians 15:10, I believe. if not, then its 10:15. But it is paul speaking. he talks in the verses before about how he felt unworthy because of the things he'd done in the past, and all the problems he caused the church. But then in that verse he says something that I really liked. He says "by the grace of God I am what I am." I loved that because It truly is the grace of God that brings each of us the point we are at right now. Everyone may be at different points on the journey, but Everyone has the same opportunity to progress and become something better tomorrow than they were today. We need to just look forward with faith, and then get going!

I'm really worried because transfers are only two weeks away, and elder barlow has been in Wollongong since we all got to Australia so he is most likely going to be transferred! Dangit! We've been having a party these last 4 weeks! hahaha it's funny how quick you can go from praying for change, to praying for things not to change! But it's okay. Whatever happens will just mean I need to learn something else.

This morning we were getting ready to leave and all of the sudden I heard elder barlow yelling from the other room. I go running in, and he is staring at the wall right above my head. I looked and there was a big old huntsman about the size of my palm right above my head. Hahaha we were all screaming. I tried to get a picture, but my camera was dead, so i'll have to try to get one of the other elders pictures. But next thing I know, barlow has the vacuum and is trying to suck the thing up, but it's running away and he is chasing it and knocking stuff over, and when he finally got it we all gave a victory cry. But then we were all scared it was going to crawl back up the hose so we started sucking up other stuff to make sure it died. We worked up enough courage to open it up, and found the carcass so we're pretty much sure he's dead.

Hope you're all having an amazing time watching all the basketball games without me. We have to do things to cheer ourselves up or else we would all fall into a deep depression over missing march madness. hahhaa kai wan Xiao. Lov eyou all! peace and blessings! Take luck!

Elder Tingey

Oh yeah, I was going to say this as well, but I forgot. We have Bats here! Heaps of them!! Every night they fly overhead. I think they live in the cliffs, and then they go out to the water for food every night. It's so cool. I thought they were birds when I first got here because they're about as big as cockatoos. It's nuts.