Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 20 Build Our Foundation on Christ

We fasted this week with some of the Malaysians we are working with! It was such a cool experience. We had mentioned fasting a few times over the course of teaching them, and last week as an example we told them we were fasting this Saturday. And they wanted to participate! They fasted for help with their English, which is already improving so much. They read the Book of Mormon every day, the Chinese and English version, to help them learn. How cool is that? 
Another really neat experience this week involved some 7th day Adventists. We've actually developed a pretty strong relationship with one of the ministers there, they had us over for dinner a couple weeks ago, and gave us dinner last week as well (no big deal, right?)  Anyway, they invited us to an event they were having at their church on Saturday. There was this special speaker coming, and we went. It was so interesting to see some people's reactions, cause we had met a lot of them before on the street. There really was a sense of community as we walked in, and being able to build on common ground was so cool. I'm really grateful for all the opportunities I have had here in Australia. Who would have thought I'd be here, in a little place called Mildura, Victoria? There's so many amazing people. That's the great thing about life, it's all about the people we meet, and the relationships that are built. I have a strong testimony of relationships that are built, centered on Jesus Christ. As we grow closer to him, and surround ourselves with like minded people, those relationships are so much stronger, built on something that will never fail. That's my little spiritual thought this week. As it says in Helaman 5:12, we must "build our foundations on Christ, that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds...he will have no power over us, because of the rock upon which we are built." I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know he lives and loves us. What a blessing to be sharing this knowledge with everyone I meet :) have a wonderful week!
Sister Townsend

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 14 Dinner in Serbia

Apologies for my lack of email last week, it was crazy. I don't remember if I mentioned, but we drove to Adelaide a week and a half ago for a missionary conference. The man who is kind of the president of the church for the Pacific area came here and gave a training to all us missionaries. He is such an amazing man. His name is Kevin W Pearson, look him up :) Anyway, a big part of the training he gave was about our divine identity. He spoke how we are all children of God (we know that) but to we remember that in our daily decisions? He helped us remember that as children of God, we have the potential to become like him (Psalms 82:6). For myself, I forget all the time, and I'm serving a missionary, talking about God to people 24/7! But remembering who we are and what potential we have to become like God, that gives such a vision for what we do here.
This week we had an amazing lesson with our Malaysian family. We were a little unsure at this point with what to teach them, but we were definitely prompted to go over our divine identity. As we spoke about it, the lesson turned towards our progression, and what we need to do to become like our Heavenly Father. Each person went around the room and shared what they felt would help them most to progress closer to Heavenly Father. So cool to hear the different responses and to see their understanding and evaluation of where they are at spiritually. I felt such a love for them, and the Spirit in the room was so strong. Then at the next lesson it was so good to see that almost all of them had acted on what they'd said, and felt the difference! 
But that would be the reason no email last week, we had just finished the 5 hour drive home and I had no concentration left. 
This week we also had another really neat experience. We were knocking on the door of someone we'd met a while ago, and we knew he was a preacher, but not what faith. We met his wife, and she said she was really busy and would call next week for a time we could pop by. But then 30 minutes later, she called us and said, "Do you have any plans for dinner? Come over to our house!" We did, and weren't really sure what to expect. When we got there, the table was set for 7 people, and only 2 people live there. Then a bunch of people from their church show up... We started talking to them and found out they were 7th day adventists. And they were so nice! Usually when we've met people from other faiths, they want to argue with us. But these people were so kind and we really built on the common ground that we had :) It was so cool. And the food was really good, that's always a bonus. The couple, one is from Bosnia, and the wife is from Serbia, and she gave us some of her homemade relish. Yum.

I hope everyone had an amazing week. I hope we are all looking for the spiritual experiences we have in our lives, cause I know they are there. A spiritual experience can be something as simple as recognizing when something happens that makes you feel God is there, or when you feel closer to Him than you did before :)  

Feb. 28

There's a new initiative in the mission: Ride the Bikes! We love riding bikes, because we can talk to all the people we see. Our area this week has been a bit different, we really have tried to apply the bikes every day. I think it will also teach us how to use them more effectively with the time that we have. It also can take just so long to get 1 kilometre! There are so many people to see and talk to, it's really interesting. It's one of my favourite parts of missionary work, meeting all these different people and getting to know their story a little bit. It's a good thing no one really asks for my story, cause I'm still figuring that one out :)

Funny story from this week, we were walking along the footpath, having a good conversation with someone, when out of nowhere this branch appears and my hair got caught on it! I tried to brush it away and just keep walking, but I kind of got embarrassing it took me a little bit to untangle myself from this tree, and my companion is just trying her best not to laugh at me, and I just looked like a fool.

Another thing about Australia that no one ever tells you about are the flies. These massive flies are everywhere, and they love to land on you and take a ride. The buzzing around your face and ears in so annoying, but of course no one can see the flies, just you waving your arms around your face. I have also heard it called the Australian Salute, just waving your arm across your face to make the flies go away.

On a more spiritual note, we had a really good lesson with Losena this week about family history. For those who don't know, the Church of Jesus Christ has a big emphasis on family history work. The doctrine of it comes from 1 Corinthians 15:29, "Else what shall they do which are baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptised for the dead?" The original church of Christ performed baptisms for the dead, to enable those who have passed on to receive the blessings that come from being baptised a member of Christ's church. That is why we do so much family history, to help our ancestors receive for themselves the blessings of the gospel. These are very special people who sacrificed so much, and I am so grateful for the family I have, both living and dead. Losena was really excited to do some of her family history, if just for now to get to know her ancestors a little more.
The gospel has so many things that make us even happier than before, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned, from the scriptures, from family, from teachers, and from our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ stands at the head of the church, directing us through a living prophet today (Amos 3:7). Thank you all for your prayers and support, have an amazing week!

Love Sister Townsend

Feb. 21 What a wonderful week

I've realized since coming to Australia that I'm not a huge fan of Indian food. We had a few experiences this week with different kinds. Unfortunately, some experiences are better than others. We had one time where the food was so spicy, and so different to anything we normally eat, it affected us so badly for the next 2 days. But the people are really nice, and just want to feed us out of respect and love.
But we had a baptism this week! That is such an amazing time, and the whole day and week is blessed by it. 3 of the girls we've been teaching were ready to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized (John 3:5). The feeling you get seeing someone make a promise to follow Jesus Christ is so wonderful. But my very favourite part is hearing their testimonies at the end. The feelings they get come straight from God. The commitment is not to join a church, but to feel the love of God more in their lives, and to access His gospel. It is so great to see that change in someone, and it's always a change for the better :)

I don't know if you can tell, but sometimes I run out of words that are positive enough to describe how I'm feeling. Let's just say really really happy. This is the work of God, helping his children come closer to him. I love my Saviour Jesus Christ. I know that his example is the way we can feel true happiness in this life. Sometimes we feel like we are happy enough with where we are at, but there is so much more that can be felt, and that is through Jesus Christ.

Feb. 14 Staying in Mildura

It's the start of another transfer, and I'm here in Mildura! So is Sister Tamana, which is amazing, she's been here since last June :) But of all the places to stay for that long, this one is definitely the best. We had a miracle this week with the prospective elder! We have a neighbour with a CTR tattoo behind his ear, and we've kind of had the feeling that he knows more about the church than he tries to let on. (And they're really good neighbors, his wife made homemade tomato jam and gave some to us) Anyway, we knocked on his door this week and we randomly asked if he knew what the priesthood was. Not at first, but as he started talking and saying different things he'd done at church, he definitely had the Aaronic priesthood. And he kind of remembered what a stake president was, and he knew about P-days :) So we asked him if he wouldn't mind having a visit with the stake president when he came down, and he said all good! That was a really good testimony to me of the prospective elder, and really trying all we can to find them. Especially here, there are members just hiding out, not on the records at all. But once we find them, that can start the process back. I love this work, and know that there are great things ahead as we are diligent in seeking the Lord's hand with everything we do. That's a little bit of my email to President, sometimes I use that in my group email as well. Those are generally the longer emails :) But not this week, cause most of my email was about my new assignment, as a Sister Training Leader. It's so crazy, especially because I haven't even trained yet. But I'm still with Sister Tamana, so we get to do it together, which should be fun. I'm so happy and excited for the future!

I don't know if I sent this photo yet, but I really love it. That happiness is real :D