Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Aloha `Oe

It has been more than one day since I left Hawaii. Who would have known that I would cry even harder than I first left home for studying at Hawaii as people around me know that I like cold weather and city life? I did not expect that either.
After celebrating the graduation of my friends, I started feeling sad about leaving. I wish I could graduate with the friends who came to BYUH with me at the same semester; however, it would not be possible. They will have graduated already by the time I come back from my mission. Knowing that I am leaving for an important and righteous purpose did not make me feel any better, at least until this moment. I was, and I am feeling upset.

Yesterday was my last Sunday in the Laie YSA 9th Ward. I could not concentrate on the talks during sacrament as I was trying hard not to let my tears drop off. I was very sad that I was going to the airport after the sacrament meeting. I indeed love this ward, and I always count being part of this ward as one of the greatest blessing I have been given. I had never loved going to church that much like the past two semesters. I still vividly remember my first Sunday in this ward. That day, my roommate and I were a bit nervous as we did not know if we were going to love the new ward and new people, or just wanted to go back to the old one. Soon after bishop started bearing his testimony, my roommate and I looked at each other, and we both thought that we were going to love this ward. We love this ward and the people indeed. This wonderful ward led by an amazing, humble, caring, and funny bishop and his awesome counselors made me LOVE and ENJOY going to church even at 8am. And I am very grateful for my calling as a pianist in the ward; it not only helped me be at church on time, but also gave me an opportunity to serve others. When I was playing the closing hymn, my tears dropped off as I knew that we were going to sing the Aloha `Oe soon. I really do not like this song as I cry whenever I sing it. This time, I could not even sing it as I was crying like a baby already.
We're all leaving this great ward.
With some very sweet girls
The BEST bishop ever!
I know that missionary work requires a lot of sacrifice, and I count leaving my beloved friends as one of them. Saying goodbye never gets easier no matter how many times you have experienced it. My roommate Julia and a few very good friends went to the airport with me. I was happy that they went with me as it meant that I could see them a bit longer, but it made saying goodbye become even harder and more sorrowful. My eyes are still sore now. I have been crying during the flight, and even though I forced myself to sleep, there were tears on my cheeks when I woke up an hour later. I do not like Hawaii a lot, but I LOVE THE PEOPLE THAT I HAVE MET AT BYUH.
This semester was the hardest one ever because of the linguistics class and TESOL class, but I am thankful for having an awesome study group. I cannot imagine how I could have gone through it if I had not got them. They already made this horrible class easier. I miss the time we reserved the study room 182 for 12 hours to study for the exam (but spending at least half of the time talking). I miss the time we had study group at 5 in the early morning. I miss the time we taught each other about the chapters. I miss the time we went into the testing center together. I wish I could study with you guys for the LING 377 class. Good luck buddies. You guys always have my support, and you all can beat the class.

I miss you all!

Monday, April 8, 2013

2 Day General Conference

The General Conference weekend finally came! I've been longing it since last October. 
Because of the time difference, the General Conference here in Hawaii started at 6am. Nobody has ever said that getting up at 5:15am for two days would be an easy thing, but this weekend was indeed the BEST one in this semester. 
I've been so looking forward to hearing President Thomas S. Monson stating the statistics about the increase in number of missionary because of the age change. He announced that there were 65,634 full-time missionaries serving around the world (record on April 4), and there were 20,000 young men and young women having received mission call and were waiting to enter the MTC. And I'm so happy that I'm one of them waiting to leave for mission. What a honor!
I've finished watching the 4 sessions of General Conference, and I'll watch the Priesthood session after the finals. All messages from the church leaders are inspiring and uplifting. I'm eternally grateful for having the living prophet who receives revelation and guided us in these latter-days. 
Here are some of my favorite addresses among all sessions:
Elder Boyd K. Packer: We have no greater friend than the Lord. Faith is a real power, not just the expression of belief.
Bishop Dean M. Davies: We need to build our lives on a sure foundation, God's foundation, which cannot fall.
Elder Craig A. Cardon: We overcome the world through the enabling power of the Atonement. Don't be judgmental!
President Henry B. Eyring: You can rely on God to draw closer to your family, even to those who are dead, if you exercise faith.
Elder Richard G. Scott: The Lord is the source of true peace in this life. Simple, consistent, and good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings. Stay on the Lord's side, and you can win over Satan every time.
Elder Quentin L. Cook: Judgement is the Lord's. Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are. For those who reject God, there is no peace. To believe in God is to know all the rules will be fair.
Elder Stanley G. Ellis: We are not spiritual orphans.
Elder David A. Bednar: Sin is a spiritual wound that causes guilt. Guilt can be removed by faith, repentance, continuous obedience.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: The Lord promises to show us the way out of darkness. Accept that the darkness is there, but not to dwell there. You can be filled with light even in trials.
Elder Neil L. Andersen: No force in the entire world can stop the work of God. Let every man choose for himself.
President Thomas S. Monson: Obedience is essential to our salvation. The great test of this life is obedience. No greater example of obedience exists than that of Jesus Christ.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Don't be afraid to ask for help. Belief is always the first step toward conviction.
Elder Bruce D. Porter: Even in a darkening world, we can sing with joy.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One step closer to entering the House of the Lord

Last night, I met with bishop for my temple recommend, but I still needed to meet with Stake President before I can get it. Thinking that lots of people would need to meet with Stake President, I went to the Stake Center at 7:10 even though he would not start the interview until 9pm. Nobody was there. For the next one and a half hours, I was patiently waiting and was preparing for my linguistic presentation tomorrow.
I enjoyed the time meeting with Stake President. I could feel the Spirit! I still remember I thought he was a bit scary when I first saw him, but I changed my thought instantly when I met with him for the mission paper. He is indeed a great man! And I will miss him a lot.
Now, I'm looking forward to going through the temple in Hong Kong. I feel so blessed to have the true gospel in life.
With President Hannemann

Monday, April 1, 2013

Last Fast Sunday in the 9th ward

Ever since this semester began, I've been counting down how many days until I go home. Everyone knows that I want nothing but going back to Hong Kong. The day I've longed for is coming real soon, and today is my last Fast Sunday in Hawaii (not coming back until 2015 Summer) I am supposed to feel excited about leaving, but I just feel sad, and all my excitement I've had is gone.
The most beautiful place in Hawaii
It is my 4th semester studying at BYU Hawaii (which means I've been here for 1 year and 3 months), but I've never given a talk nor shared my testimony in the sacrament meeting. The testimony meeting this morning was my last opportunity to speak to the whole ward, so I told my friend Olivia last week that she needed to push me to share my testimony if I changed my mind suddenly. When bishop passed the time to ward members, I immediately stood up to be the FIRST one sharing the testimony. It did take me lots of courage indeed as I had no confidence in speaking to so many people in English, but I made it today! I shared my testimony about going on a mission: After President Monson announced the age change of missionary, I decided to find out if I should serve my mission even though I had no desire for it at that time. My best friend (Sister Leung who is going to leave for the MTC in a few hours) went to the Temple Visitor Center with me, and we found a quiet corner to pray and study scriptures. After several hours, I told her that I couldn't feel anything. She remained silent for awhile, then she told me that maybe I was worrying about too much. What she said did inspire me! I was worrying about money and lack of knowledge about the gospel. That night, I prayed that I would be guided if I put my trust in Him instead of worrying about everything. The answer came soon. I had a strong desire to serve a mission that I knew it wasn't from me but Heavenly Father. From the letters I've received from my missionary friends, I know that serving a mission is never an easy task, but we have to remember that Heavenly Father's plan is not always easy, but its always the best for us. I know that the Church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I'm so grateful for Prophet Joseph Smith who has restored the true gospel.
Olivia and I with the missionary couple
Today was also my last temple prep class. (Coming Sunday is General Conference) I'm so grateful for the missionary couple that has been teaching us. I can always tell that they're so happy because of the gospel in their lives. And Bishop came in during the class to talk about the temple recommend and missionary work. I like what he said, "Stop looking at the mirror but the people around you, you'll have a better life." When bishop said that he was so proud of us and was going to miss us with tears in his eyes, Olivia and I just started crying. My excitement about going home turned into sadness instantly. I still remember that I was so worried about moving into this ward before the Fall semester began, but I have to say that I fell in love with this ward in a second. Believe it or not, I've never met such a wonderful bishopric in my whole life! I can't imagine how hard I'll cry on my last Sunday.