It was an amazing week and being able to open the new YSA building. It was a draining week but rewarding nonetheless. Each day we went out ''finding'' and invited everyone to come for a tour. I would not be surprised if I invited more than a thousand people to come to the new building. We were also able to invite many to baptism when we got to the baptistery floor. The Spirit was definitely the strongest in the chapel and by baptism font. I pray that those that came on the tour left with a sense of renewal and that their hearts with be changed and prepared to receive the gospel.
Sister Merrill and I gave many tours in Chinese to the Chinese students that came to the new building. Us as tour guides that speak Chinese has left an impression on them and from someone we heard that the Chinese students that have come on tours have been talking to their friends and we are now more aware of and known as ''the two American girls that can speak Chinese.'' haha. I think that is a great way to be known.
Sister Merrill and I saw many miracles with using the family history centre during the tour. On the first day, we gave a tour to this older man named Steve and we asked him if he knew the name of a grandparent so that we could search it. He gave us a name and the very first search result was a record that belonged to his family. It took less than 5 minutes to find this record! Incredible! It turned out to be the marriage certificate of his grandparents and he learned some things he never knew about them.
We also gave a tour to this girl named Lydia and once we got to the family history centre she told us how she became very interested in doing her family history a year or so ago and her desire kind of fizzled out when after a lot of research she wasn't able to find anything. Her ancestry is unique and her great-grandmother was born in Belgium but came to England in her 20s or 30s and lived and died here. Other than that basic information, she knows not much else about her. We spent maybe 30 minutes on the computer with her trying to help her find a record with her family on it and we found nothing. We suggested that she ask her grandmother that is still alive more about her family so that she could come back with more information and we would be more help to her. I think her drive to do family history was refuelled and she said she would come back soon.
The first ever church service at the new building was yesterday and the sun rays that shinned through the chapel windows was a great compliment and parallel to how we were filled with greater spiritual light during the meetings. We invited people like crazy to come to church this Sunday. Saturday we had around 4 confirmed they were coming and a list of about 8 others that had said they would come earlier in the week. Although we invited many to come to church, Sister Merrill and I had no investigators (key indicator wise) that attended sacrament. I see the greater picture though and we did have at least 5 nonmembers that came because of our efforts to invite. It is so disappointing as a missionary when you feel like you did so much to help people come to church and none of them show up or last minute aren't able to come. I think I speak for both Sister Merrill and I when I say that we are going to use this experience to learn from and work harder this week to get more people to church this following Sunday.
The member of the seventy, Elder Stevenson and his wife announced that they want the YSA membership to double by December. Wow! It's going to be a stretch but it is possible. The bishop took no delay on inviting the YSA members to make a goal on how many people they were going to bring to church and help come unto the waters of baptism this year. Next week for the dedication they want 200 non-members there. Speaking of the dedication, Elder D. Todd Christofferson will coming to dedicate it. Wow! What a privilege it is to serve here in the Man YSA at a time like this.
Last night, Sister Merrill and I hosted a musical fireside. I am so grateful for the members in the ward that participated and helped us to organize it. It was a huge success. I am sure the Spirit touched the lives of everyone that attended. For the final performance, Sister Merrill and I with two other sisters from our Zone sang ''Come Unto Christ'', the youth theme for this year. I don't feel like I am much of a singer but when it was my turn to sing a solo, the Spirit completely took over and I was able to sing with the power of the Spirit. This was my first time being in charge of an activity like this. Putting together an activity as a missionary can be quite stressful but I have learned that when things don't go exactly as planned or may not be as perfect as we want them that we should just enjoy the moment and let the Spirit take control of the meeting.
This past week I have been earnestly praying for a greater sensitivity to the Spirit. I already see my prayers being answered. We taught our investigator Stephanie the law of tithing and during the first time we went over it I had a feeling she did not really understand that even though she lived with her mom, she would still need to pay tithing on her income from work. I shared my thoughts with Sister Merrill and we decided to review tithing the next time we saw her. I had truly discerned her misunderstanding and she now understands when and what she needs to pay tithing on. Stephanie is worried what her mom will think about her paying tithing. It was a very good lesson because we had a member there that was able to share her experience with preparing to be baptized and tell her mom that she was going to pay tithing after she was baptized. She too was nervous to tell her mom but when she finally did, her mom was fine with it.
One last experience I would like to share about being more sensitive to the Spirit took place on a night we had an hour to do some finding before returning home for the day . We left our flat and I had this strong feeling that we were to meet someone, as in someone that had specifically been prepared by the Lord, that night. The dark and empty streets that night contradicted that feeling. Nonetheless, Sister Merrill and I continued to talk to those who did happen to be out. We weren't finding much success on the side of the road we were on and we decided to cross the street. We came to a fork in the road and Sister Merrill stopped and suggested we head down a side road that seemed really empty and not too promising. I stood there asking silently where Heavenly Father wanted us to be and I had a subtle prompting that we needed to go down the side road so I agreed to go down that path. There was no one ahead of us so we searched the opposite side of the street to find some one Chinese to talk to. A minute later we spotted this Chinese girl and as discreetly as we could, we crossed the street to go talk to her. She was surprised that we could speak Chinese and quickly opened up. She was definitely in need of the comfort the gospel brings to our lives. She told us she had been in a fight with her boyfriend and she felt really lonely. She asked how Christ could help her and we shared a scripture with her and walked her to the new building so she would know how to get to it. We invited her to come back the next day since it was getting late and we needed to return home. She did not come back the next day but when she does will discover that it is a place of refuge.
This week I had a wonderful personal study and read a talk about the Atonement. The general authority that wrote the talk talked about how sometimes we may believe that Christ is who he is but we don't necessarily believe his claim that through his Atonement we can be forgiven and make it to the Celestial kingdom. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that through faith in him we be forgiven of our mistakes, become clean again. Christ can and will save us and help us become fit for the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. This is the great message of hope of the gospel. I encourage you all to give this talk a read because my short explanation of it won't do it justice:
Love you all!