Anyway, it's been another cool week in the Bayview ward! The weather has cooled down dramatically, which means it's been awesome running weather! The only problem is that there has been zero time to go running, so that sucks. Other than that it's been great. This week was transfer week, so we spent a lot of time getting beds and desks and bed-frames and other unimportant stuff from Brampton just so the missionaries would stop whining about having to sleep on cement. Honestly people, get over it.
Kidding. Mostly. But in all honesty, we did have to do a lot of driving in the mornings this past week. Our studies took a hit, but it should all be taken care of now, so it's all good.
With transfers here, we have a ton of trainees in our zone. 6 of our 20 missionaries are in their first 12 weeks of the field, and there's one more coming in this week. It's pretty awesome to be working with them. They all have a great fire about them, and it shows in the work. This week, half of our companionships hit the Standards of Excellence. -Sidenote for those who don't know what that is- The Standards of Excellence is standards set by the mission president regarding how many investigators we should have at church, how many lessons we teach, etc. If you hit them, that means you got all the standards.
In other words, North York Zone gets the numbas!!! So fun!
Anyway, this week was awesome. I really get bored of giving you updates on every single investigator, so I'm just gonna send you a few cool experiences we had. There's this really cool person we're meeting with named Linda who goes to the People's Church. She's super christian, but the thing is, her church isn't in Chinese. But ours is. So she's trying to refer all of her Chinese friends to us, so that we can help them learn about Jesus. Literally the greatest thing of all time. So now we're teaching her parents and a few other people. Also, she gives us food all the time, and invites us to service activities. She is so funny.
One of the guys we've been teaching for a while (I don't think I've mentioned him before) is Tony. He really started progressing this week, and has a baptismal date for the 17th. His parents really wanted him to learn about Jesus, so he started coming, and he liked it, so yay for that. That was pretty cool.
We're working with way too many Davids. I'm not even kidding when I say that in our teaching pool we have 4 Davids. Chinese people are so funny with names. Either they pick a super classic name like David, Kevin, Jimmy, Joe, or Freddy, or they pick a crazy name like Milk, Ice, February, Seven, Twenty One, Blue, Cherry, Middle, Dragon, Sunshine, Desk, etc.
By the way, those are not made up. Each of those names is a real person we've met. I think in China, they pick English names by throwing alphabet won-ton soup at a box of scrabble and seeing what comes out.
In other cool news, Jane (one of our beloved super solid new converts) has her husband in town! Guess what his name is! If you guessed David, you were right! Yep, his name is David. He's really cool. At the end of our lesson with him, we invited him to pray, but he refused saying he couldn't do it very well yet. We were about to give it up when his daughter Victoria (11 years old and enough sass to choke a horse) picked up the pamphlet and threw it on the table in front of him. He pushed it aside, and so she picked it up, walked over again, and threw it in front of him. Then she said "If you learn it, but don't do it, what good does it do you?" I was astonished and frankly not sure whether to restrain her or cheer her on, but then her and her dad started this intense stare down. Probably a good 5 seconds of silence, and then he said "you shouldn't force people to do stuff," but she did not relent. Finally he gave in, and said a GREAT prayer, following which he said he felt really good. He was so pleased with himself. So that was really cool. Yay for Victoria!
Also, we had a fun guy named Chris who we met up with this week. He came to church too, but it was funny because all during church he kept asking why people were sleeping. "Why would you come to church just to sleep?". It's a good question. In defense of the members though, Elder Ballard did come this week, so we were watching broadcast from Brampton, and the lights were all dimmed down. That definitely resulted in some bobbing heads.
We met this guy named John on the street who was really interested. He was super goofy, and he had interest to meet later that week, and so we were really excited. We met up with him, and said an opening prayer, and then he pulls out this sheet of paper. "I've got a few question before we start if that's okay," he said. John had literally gone online the day before and researched everything about the church. It was crazy. And he had a ton of anti-mormon stuff, so we just talked for like 30 minutes about all his questions. The awesome part is that none of it even phased him. He just took it all, and he's still super interested. Honestly, a wonderful lesson.
In other cool Chinese news, we've gotten more media referrals this week than I've gotten in my whole mission. Before this week I'd received exactly 1 (one) media referral for a Chinese person. This week alone we've gotten 5. I don't know what happened. All of the sudden, Chinese people loved checking out mormon.org. It's like this is God's work or something! One of them is named Li Hong Yu and she literally looked at the website, got interested, packed her bags, took a trip to Salt Lake City, met with the missionaries at temple square, came back to Toronto, and showed up at church this week. Honestly, where do these people come from?!?! We met her on Sunday, and shes this super sweet lady who loves her family and wants to believe in God. We're going to see her on Tuesday again. Super excited :)
Also, shoutout to Bayview ward for the bountiful dinner appointments this week. We had many. We've gotta start running again or I'm gonna get fat.
Also, there's another cool story I want to share. It wasn't from our area, but it was from one of the Farsi companionships in the zone. They've been skype teaching a family in Slovenia, and their story is amazing. I thought I'd share it. Their names are Mehdi and Forough, and they are from Iran. While in Iran, they were going on a hike, and they met this white man (not a common sight in Iran). Well, they started talking to him, and it turns out he spoke Farsi. They walked for hours with him while on this hike, and the man started telling them about his church. He told them that the headquarters of the church was in the United States, and that he wasn't from there, but that he was a member. He told this couple all about Jesus Christ, and they were super interested. They felt this feeling that they wanted more of, and so they planned to meet again in the next few days.
However, the area they were in found out that they were learning about Christianity, and so they had to flee the country. Their original plan was to go to the United States to find this church, but because of political relations at the time, they were unable to come over. Instead, they went to Slovenia, and tried to start a new life there. They wanted to learn more about this church, but they didn't speak the language, so they had no way of communicating with those around them. However, Mehdi was walking along the street one day, and saw some people. She knew that these were the people she needed to talk to and so she did her best. Turns out they were members, and so in a conversation that probably involved a lot of miming and broken English, they were able to help her know where the church was, and to get in contact with the Farsi missionaries in our mission over skype. They were so happy to have finally found the church they were looking for.
Well, our missionaries started teaching them, and one of the elders told me that when he asked this couple what that man on the hike had told them about, the couple was literally able to recite back to him the contents of the first missionary lesson. Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon. The whole deal. To make a long story short, they were baptized this week, and I have such a testimony of the power of God to lead peoples lives.
There were so many things that had to work just perfectly so that that couple could learn about the truths of the gospel. God knew their situation. He knew them, and so he put people in their path prepared to help them out. In some cases he may lead you to an answer, but in my opinion, more often than not, you will be his way of answering someone else. Perhaps knowingly, and perhaps without a clue of what you are doing, but if you are worthy and righteous, God will help others through you. You will receive a piece of the joy he feels for his children. This is not a blessing reserved for missionaries. It is a blessing for every member of the church, and I invite you all to be a part of it. Every single one of you have someone who you love who is inactive in the church, or less active than they should be. Every single one of you has someone who you love who needs your help. Reach out. Please reach out. No, you will not lose friendships. No, you will not offend someone. You are their friend and they are yours, so if you truly honestly care about them, you will reach out.
I wanted to save this for last (sorry, my email today is kind of lengthy). Elder Ballard came to the mission this week with Elder Bennett of the 70. They both talked about the necessity to have Jesus Christ on our lips always. To always represent him. They both shared stories about converts who went on for years knowing a Mormon, but never receiving an invite. They were sad, and worried that maybe something was wrong with them. Many of the people that I have taught have been amazed by the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration, and then they will ask us something like "I've known a Mormon for years, how come they never told me about this?"
I promise you that if we all stop waiting for someone else to do it, and reach out to someone the church will baptize more people. We will! Because it's true! It's real! God loves us, and he loves them too. Help his kids make it back to him, because I promise you that it is worth the effort.
Anyway, I love you all. Have a wonderful week!
At the Zhenshan Buddhist temple:
All the swag in the world:
Chinatown! This red thing I am standing in front of actually means "gate" or "door" in Chinese, but they made it out of dragons: