Sunday, November 27, 2016

October 17, 2016 Elder Holland visits

Too blessed to be stressed

From photo of journal pages

October 17
God never ceases to amaze me by what he does.  Yesterday was the highly anticipated visit from Elder Holland.  No words can describe what an experience that was.  We worked hard to prepare the mission spiritually for it, and it certainly payed off.

As Elder Holland and his security pulled up, President, Elder Ko, and Elder Parrish and myself stood outside to welcome him and his wife.  They greeted us and he conversed briefly.  The most remarkable thing about Elder Holland was his eyes.  As he shook my hand asked me where I was from, I understood the meaning of the Apostles “handshake interview”.  His eyes, ringed with blue-green, fire, were truly piercing.  Never have I seen before any gaze that so embodies that word.  There was a certain feeling that his discerning gaze had access to your soul; not an uncomfortable feeling, because for every bit that it was fiery and piercing, it was also loving and possessed more kindness than I’ve ever known.  It was truly impressive.  It struck me so profoundly that as I was being interviewed and stared into the eyes of a special witness of Jesus Christ, he has truly taken on the countenance of someone greater.

Elder Holland mentioned later, as he taught us, that this was a special day even for him.  Due to circumstances, it was not just him that came, but his wife, son, daughter in law, and grandson.  They all radiated the warmth and light of consecrated disciples.

They all spoke briefly and wonderfully to us.  Sister Tarnasky, Nash, and myself performed “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”, and it was powerful.  Then Elder Holland addressed us.
He started at the podium, and soon worked his way down to the gymnasium floor with all of us.  He didn’t actually have anything planned to teach us, so I was very curious to see what would end up coming out, what would be done with two hours with a mission.  It turned out to be the Book of Mormon.

There’s no way I could record what was taught.  I suppose all I could say is that it was incredible.  I  had a couple take-aways.
1) The Book of Mormon is powerful.  Despite how much I already knew that and have taught that, there was no room for doubt left that the Book of Mormon is the most powerful conversion tool on the planet.
2) The gospel is simple.  What Elder Holland taught to us yesterday was very basic.  There was no deep doctrine or anything we couldn’t gain simply by reading Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon.  I think that was very purposeful.  I think that he wanted to show us that the power of his teaching came not from intricate knowledge, but simply through priesthood keys and pure testimony and conversion.  It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge to teach what he taught.  It takes an undeniable witness and passion that what you teach is true, something that only comes through time-tested obedience.
3) Spiritual preparedness is real.  I can’t help but wonder if I might have a more revelatory experience at church each week if I prepared myself by persistent prayer and fasting and having faith that it would be a spiritually significant event.  Hmm.

Elder Wu on left and Elder Jheng on right. Flushing fire
Elder Sundet on he left and Elder Moe on the right! I was in the MTC with Elder Moe.


October 10, 2016 the Exchange Train.

None of us remember how this picture was taken

From photo of Journal pages
October 3
Last night we were at President’s planning for the upcoming MLC.  Out of nowhere, President started telling us of the last letter he received from Elder Pothier, one of our finest zone leaders.  He was telling of an investigator who has been meeting with them for a while who just couldn’t receive an answer about the Book of Mormon.  He told the missionaries relentlessly that they had been teaching over and over and over again about the “Spirit” and he had simply never felt it and could not believe.  The Elders sat there dumbfounded for a moment, and then began to testify.  They just testified.

October 6
The Exchange Train.

The last few days have been a blast.  Historically, assistant exchanges with zone leaders have all been just 6-9 “primetime” exchanges, and it’s been thought impossible to do anything more.  Well, we’ve revamped our exchanges (and everything we do as assistants, really) and have decided to do two 24 hour exchanges with every zone leader.  For each exchange, two of us stay here and bring in a ZL companionship, while the other one travels to a different ZL comp.

It’s been another lesson to me that necessity, desire, and faith provide a way.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to implement this new planning model without full, proselyting, focused exchanges.
So I was nominated to travel for the first week, and so I bounced around Queens for three days without coming home.  My first stop was Jamaica.

What a blessing to return to old areas!  We visited a family I knew who had progressed so much.  Friends and former investigators stopped us on the street to say hi – one even said he had a dream about me and was trying to find me again.  I presume the Elders will get in touch shortly.  Somehow some members found out I was coming and found us at the church where we were teaching a lesson.  And we even ran into Ana(sp?), a lady that Elder Boden and I found a year ago who is getting baptized in two weeks!  It was so fun.

Elder Garza (sp?) and Elder Corbett (sp?) are our strongest ZL’s.  One of the biggest miracles of the exchange is that, skeptical at first, by the end of the exchange they were bouncing off the walls with excitement for the new planning model and member work.  3 days later, they called back and detailed how they had already communicated with every member in their zone and made plans to revamp everything they do.  They got stoked.

After Jamaica, I went to Elder Moe and Elder Sundet(sp?) in Richmond Hill.  It was very much the same experience in that they got super excited about everything.  It’s very strange to see younger missionaries just loving exchanges so much and learning so much, hanging on every word you say.  It brings me back to when I got to go on exchanges with some of the legendary assistants like Elder Birmingham.

Then I went to Astoria with Elder Watson and Elder Parkinson.  It was such a blessing.  Elder Parkinson came into my Jamaica district as a trainee over a year ago.  I remember our exchanges with his complete lack of Spanish and knowing how to be a missionary.  Now he’s a Zone leader, and he understands what “forever changed” means.  So special.

The planning model went a lot rougher with these two, but we had some wonderful pillow talk where we were all able to open up and Elder Watson felt better about some personal struggles.
What wonderful experiences.  So blessed.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

October 3, 2016 Conference was Amazing

Conference was amazing, as usual. Too blessed.

Some other quick highlights:

Things are going great in a trio, and thanks to the extra man, we double our exchange power.  I’m just packing my bags right now to be shipped off to the city to travel between exchanges for three different zone leader companionships, while Elder Ko and Elder Parrish will bring three different zone leader companionships here to Lynbrook while I’m gone.  I’m excited! I love exchanges so much.  Exchanges with my leaders in the past have seriously changed my life.  I’m sad I don’t get to go on exchanges with my leaders anymore.

On the bright side, we are getting some very unique pockets of time with our leaders.  We are riding high on our planning wave ever since our interview with Tracy Watson from the missionary department.  We just finished four days straight of zone conferences and are preparing for the upcoming mission leadership council.  We wrangled the Facebook info of the District 3 missionaries out of Brother Watson, and we are going to Skype them into our council to keep pushing what we have been learning about planning and online proselyting.

Life in the minivan
To top it all off, as we were driving home from one of the zone conferences, President Reynolds called the office of Elder Holland and told his secretary that a year ago, he had taken provided lodging for Elder Holland when he was in New York for some conference, and Elder Holland told President to “give him a jingle” the next time he was back in New York and he would love to talk with the missionaries if he could.  The other day, we got a call back – Elder Holland is coming to the mission! Now we are trying to figure out how to organize an emergency mission-wide conference during church on the 16th without letting word get out of who is coming lest the building be stormed by members (btw don’t tell that to anybody in the vicinity of New York….)

Life’s great.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary! I truly know that this church is true. I know that true joy comes from God only. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine
In the home of Dustin, an extremely rich man who temporarily ran away from us to take a really long call in the middle of a visit. You can see the confusion

Sunday, November 13, 2016

September 26, 2016 Journal entries

From photos of Journal pages:

Sept 12, 2016
Picked up some mid-transfers today and the MTC decided to send us one of them a transfer early without telling anyone!  President’s face when 5 new missionaries showed up at the airport was priceless.
- In our planning a few days ago the conversation perfectly covered who was going to be our extra surprise trainer.  Disaster avoided.
- I love Elder Ko because he is just so good at the administrative side of our job.  What would I do without him?

Sept 13, 2016
- I’m so grateful we were able to recover from a rough morning and finish the day with positive energy.  And it was a miracle to catch our neighbors at just the right time to have a great conversation.
- I love Elder Ko because he is forgiving.

Sept 14, 2016
Today we spent all day at President’s planning for the next zone conference and transfers.  After that, we went over to give Candace, a less active, a blessing.  It was such a beautiful experience.  Afterwards, we were prompted to share 2 Corinthians 12 about Paul’s infirmity and the Spirit was so strong.  She was crying as she read it, and I hope this gives her the push to come back.
- I’m so grateful that we were prompted to share that scripture with Candace.  It’s such a blessing to see the Spirit work.
- I love Elder Ko because he always tries to make things better even though he makes mistakes.

Sept 15, 2016
Long day of transfer planning.  Got a new companion, now in a trio with Elder Parrish.  Wow, he is so solid.  He’s going to help.
- During planning we were good and stuck.  We prayed and asked and within 5 minutes had it worked out.  We really felt God’s hand guiding us.
- I love Elder Ko because he is wise and if we didn’t have him we’d be lost.  I can do missionary work – we understand each other real well.  All this administrative stuff goes right over my head.

Sept 16, 2016
Eating at the Chen’s(sp?) is an interesting experience.
- Transfer planning went so smooth and, as always, we really saw the Lord’s hand guiding it.
- Elder Parrish!  I love how funny he is!

Sept 17, 2016
- Was able to teach well and be animated at trainer/trainee meeting.
- I love how dedicated Elder Ko is and that he worked today even though he didn’t feel well.

Sept 18, 2016
- I’m grateful we were able to get Elder Parrish and be on time to the fireside.
- I love Elder Parrish because he is so unquestionably dedicated.

Sept 19, 2016
Picked up new trainees today – great group!  All of them seem to be really solid missionaries, which is unusual.  Two of them are Mexican and don’t speak English, both are super stars!
- I’m glad that we were able to have good conversations with people at the airport and all ran well.
- I love that Elder Ko tries so hard to make your life just a little easier.

Sept 20, 2016
We had transfers, taught leaders conference, and then had a mission home night with the departing missionaries.  Such a special experience.  Some hermanos of mine go home today.  Elder Harris in particular is someone I look up to more than almost anyone.  I will miss him.

Sept 22, 2016
Yesterday we had a personal interview with Tracy Watson from the missionary department.  He and his assistant had the intent of asking us some questions and finding out how Facebook has been implemented in the mission, but after that we kept drilling them with questions for another couple of hours, and it was an amazing experience.  What we talked about will completely revamp what we do as assistants and help us help the mission.  One of the biggest changes is that we have to find more time to proselyte.  We realized that we can’t afford to let our zone leader exchanges be anything less than 24 hours.  They inspired us so much about online proselyting and the new planning system they gave us 8 months ago that nobody can figure out.
We’re going to get this.  And then we’re going to teach the mission.

We spent all day with President scrapping what we had planned for zone conferences and redoing it all.  In the afternoon we asked President to call Brother Watson and ask him if they could work with us on a nightly planning session.  They coached us through planning, and afterward President asked us to run our new zone conference plan by then.  They loved it.  We feel really good about it.  We are asking for some miracles to happen in the next couple of days in order to make it happen.  I’m excited.

Spent the day planning with President again.  Trying to be ready to teach this by Tuesday is flying by the seat of our pants, but we’re getting it.  We brought in a Sister Training Leader companionship to the mission home and coached a daily planning session, which was quite enlightening.

Sept 19, 2016 photos only

Farewell to the district

Hello to our new companion! He's large. Grade AA.

Power trio

Looks like we sell vacuums