Saturday, March 5, 2011

Marks of a Man

My friend, Sister Mikelle Norton, entered the MTC on Wednesday. She's headed to Singapore and way excited about it. On her last blog post, she posted a story that I felt needed to be shared.

It melted my heart and memories and feelings from the mission flooded right back. I really hope each and every day that I did worked hard and did well enough so that my Heavenly Father is proud of me.

For those of us who have served missions, isn't it amazing?

For those yet to go, how lucky and blessed you are!

I'm still growing, but I hope that in some way, I've filled up my shoes enough to, in some way, become the measure of a man of God.

Marks Of A Man
As I jumped on board my flight from Miami to Salt Lake City, I paused for a moment to catch my breath. Seated near the front of the plane was an excited young man, probably 19, sitting with his parents. His hair was short and his clothes new and sharp. His suit was fitted perfectly and his black shoes still retained that store bought shine. His body was in good shape, his face clear, and his hands clean. In his eyes I could see a nervous look, and his movements were that of an actor on opening night.

He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the Mormon Church. I smiled as I walked by and took pride in belonging to this same Church where these young men and women voluntarily serve the Savior for two years. With this special feeling, I continued to the back where my seat was located.

As I sat in my seat, I looked to the right and to my surprise, saw another missionary sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also short, but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was obviously returning home, and I could tell at a glance what type of missionary he had been.

The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body seemed to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time in two years he had even slept, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was. As I looked at his face, I could see the heavy bags under his eyes, the chapped lips, and the scarred and sunburned face caused by the fierce Florida sun.

His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart, and I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been hand-sewn with a very sloppy stitch.

I saw the name tag, crooked, scratched and bearing the name of the Church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all worn away. I saw the knee of his pants, worn and white, the result of many hours of humble prayer.

A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that really told me what kind of missionary he had been. I saw the marks that made this boy, a man. His feet - the two that had carried him from house to house, now lay there swollen and tired. They were covered by a pair of worn-out shoes. Many of the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by the countless number of polishings.

His books - laying across his lap were his scriptures, the word of God. Once new, these books which testify of Jesus Christ and His mission, were now torn, bent, and ragged from use.
His hands - those big, strong hands, which had been used to bless and teach, were now scarred and cut from knocking at doors.

Those were indeed the marks of that man. And as I looked at him, I saw the marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross for the sins of the world.

His feet - those that had once carried him throughout the land during his ministry, were now nailed to the cross.
His side - now pierced with a spear. Sealing his gospel, his testimony with his life.
His hands - the hands that had been used to ordain his servants and bless the sick were also scarred with the nails that were pounded to hang him on the cross.

Those were the marks of that great man.

As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell with pride and joy, because I knew, by looking at him, that he had served his Master well.

My joy was so great, I felt like running to the front of the plane, grabbing that new, young missionary, and bringing him back to see what he can become, what he can do.

But would he see the things that I saw, could anyone see the things I saw? Or would he just see the outward appearance of that mighty elder, tired and worn out, almost dead.

As we landed, I reached over and tapped him to wake him up. As he awoke, it seemed like new life was entering his body. His whole frame just seemed to fill as he stood up, tall and proud. As he turned his face towards mine, I saw a light about his face that I had never seen before. I looked into his eyes. Those eyes, I will never forget those eyes. They were the eyes of a prophet, a leader, a follower, and a servant. They were the eyes of the Savior. No words were spoken. No words were needed.

As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first. I watched as he walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him and found myself walking the way that he did. When I came through the doors, I saw this young man in the arms of his parents, and I couldn't hold it any longer.

With tears streaming down my face, I watched these loving parents greet their son who had been away for a short time. And I wondered if our parents in Heaven would greet us the same way. Will they wrap their arms around us and welcome us home from our journey on earth? I believe they will. I just hope that I can be worthy enough to receive such praise, as I'm sure this missionary will.

I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries like this young man. I don't think I will ever forget the joy and happiness he brought me that day.

David Bryan Wiser

-Ee Chien (Elder Chua)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I have a new, post-mission blog. Feel free to check it out!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"I Will Not Be Still"

In a recent award ceremony, wherein Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor, this is what President Barack Obama said of the men and women who serve in the military.
"Each with specialized roles and responsibilities, but all with one thing in common -- they volunteered. In an era when it’s never been more tempting to chase personal ambition or narrow self-interest, they chose the opposite. They felt a tug; they answered a call; they said, “I’ll go."
It is in that spirit that each missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints goes out into the world to preach the gospel to each son and daughter of Heavenly Father. In a world besought with selfishness and greed, a select few young men and women choose to serve their fellow-men. It is a remarkable thing to see and to witness, that some so young are willing to sacrifice part of their lives - or all of it, in the service of their God, that they "perhaps... may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is their joy" (Alma 29:9).

In the Singapore Mission right now, there is an Elder, Elder Schone, who lies in a critical state in Penang, Malaysia, far from home, fighting for his life after being hit by a car on his bicycle. 19 years old, thousands of miles away from home and family, so that some soul, some child of God might find joy in the gospel and be happy. What motivates someone so young to do something so selfless? President Henry B. Eyring, summed it up perfectly as he described the sons of Mosiah, and pleaded for us to be just like them, saying:
I pray that you will develop the bravery and love for Heavenly Father’s children that led the sons of Mosiah to plead for the chance to face death and danger to take the gospel to a... people. Their desire and their bravery came from feeling responsible for the eternal happiness of strangers in danger of eternal misery.
That's what a missionary wants, happiness for each child of God. Sure, sometimes it's easy to forget, sometimes we fail to look beyond the mark, but it's always there and always comes back, because God is leading the way.

It's been just over six months since I returned from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The time has gone by so fast, I don't know where it's gone. There have been days that I am relieved that I am not on my mission anymore, but there days that I miss it so much that I just want to be there again, trying to teach anyone and everyone about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have had the opportunity to spend time with my former mission companions and friends. How wonderful it is and how happy I am when I around them, because we have built such strong bonds of love and camaraderie. Even those whom I didn't get along as well with, I count my brothers because of what we went through together. I will probably never, we will probably never go through the horrors of war and be bound by a battle-hardened bond, but in our own way, we are bound by something better, that of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I've thought a lot about my mission these past few months. It's sometimes a little hard to automatically move on when you have spent two years focusing on one thing! About a month ago, I was thinking quite a bit about my mission, and felt very inadequate, because I was reflecting on each of the baptisms that I had, and how I had felt at each one of them. So many missionaries talk about the absolute happiness and euphoria that they feel at a baptismal service, because they're filled with the spirit and all that great stuff. For me though, it wasn't exactly the same. Sure, I was happy that that person was getting baptized, but I was exhausted, tired, and not terribly excited. It was something that really scared me because my thoughts were that perhaps I wasn't working hard enough or worthy to have the Spirit's confirmation. It was pretty much that way throughout my mission, and something that I thought about from time to time after my mission. It wasn't till about two months ago that I was taught by the Spirit and was able to understand why that happened.

It was one of those days, when I was thinking about my mission and missing it more than anything, when I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and love, and at that point, I knew without a doubt that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me, and who was happy with me. As I felt that, the spirit taught me a wonderful lesson, that helped me to truly understand what Heavenly Father had wanted me to learn. He taught me that day that I didn't need to feel those feelings and learn those things then because I was already doing everything that He wanted me to do. It was NOW, after all those months that gone by, that He was in a sense rewarding me, but also strengthening my testimony with the work that I had done in the past, because it was at that point that I felt joy, not just happiness or euphoria, but true joy that can only come from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was so so happy, I was glad that I had served a mission, I was filled with a joy that peace that really, in a sense, surpassed all understand, and that I still feel from time to time, more especially at the times when I need to feel His love.

Brother Robert E. Millet, a professor of religion at BYU, recently presented a fireside to my Stake, where he spoke about the Holy Ghost, and how it perhaps is not with us always, because the "Spirit listeth to and fro." Sometimes we wonder why we don't feel the spirit though we're doing everything right. He made the point that sometimes Heavenly Father wants us to learn to make decisions by ourselves, but also to build a kind of faith that cannot waver. He said, regarding his own experiences, "in my mind, I knew that Heavenly Father loved me, but I couldn't feel it." A complete opposite of what we normally think. An intellectual confirmation from within might not even come, but, as he said, it is in "knowing that obedience is more important than emotional satisfaction" that we eventually learn that Heavenly Father is ALWAYS watching out for us. Faith will always triumph fear.

I have felt my Heavenly Father's love so much these past few months, especially during the times when I think I'm alone and have had no one to rely on. I love my Heavenly Father for all that He has given me, and for His Son, Jesus Christ, who gives me life and hope through His Atonement. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served a mission, to have the experiences that I have had. I love the people who I was able to teach and help convert. It was in that moment of feeling God's love, and at various times after, that I have felt an overwhelming sense of love for those who I have taught, children of God who have so much to offer Him, and who are each so special to me in my life. I just chatted with the fiance of my one my recent converts. They are planning and preparing to be married in the temple, and I can't think of any greater joy than to see them make the covenants that will allow them to be a forever family, that I too hope to have one day.

I never got to post the last couple of baptisms that I had on my mission, so here they are!

Frank was baptized Saturday, May 8, two days before I finished my mission. He is active and continues to grow and learn more about who He is as a son of God.

Zong Lu was baptized the weekend after, and I am so glad that I got to attend her baptism! Zong Lu brought a friend to Church who also took the lessons and was baptized a few weeks later!

Time continues to fly by, and the common stresses and activities of life tend to distract and detract me, sometimes, away from that which matters most. But, I always end up remembering, in one way or another, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ means EVERYTHING to me, that a loving Heavenly Father and Brother have provided me with a plan that allows me to understand why I am here on this life, and what I can and must do so that I can be happy. I am grateful for the Restoration of the Gospel, that all because a boy went into the woods to pray, I too, can know for myself that God is there, and that He loves me, without a shadow of a doubt.

The full-time missionaries visited our ward a couple Sundays ago and spoke. They are so lucky! They get fed and have member help and referrals all the time! :) But, they reminded me of one thing, to do my best to serve my fellow-men, and in so doing, serve my Father and Savior.

I'll finish with some of the lyrics that inspired the title for my blog, and that will remind always of why we do this work.

How can I keep this gift to myself, When I can lift somebody else?

I'll be a witness of his miracles and his mercy.

I'll put my future in his hand, Knowing he's made me all I am.

I put my faith in him and truth begins to speak.

His power is real,it moves me until,

I will not be still.

-Ee Chien

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Let Us Cheerfully Do All Things"

Well, this is my last email/blog out as a single full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Time goes by, as usual. This past week has gone well. Jun Xiu was baptized. It was a peaceful and spiritual baptismal service. Jun Xiu had been afraid and apprehensive the week before. But, after she was baptized, she sent us a text message thanking us and saying that she was looking forward to learning more. We've been able to see her a couple times since then, and she is doing wonderfully well.

Frank will be baptized on Saturday. It took us four nerve wrecking interviews with him, but everything is resolved. He is such a great guy, and his desire to learn more about the Church and the gospel is a great example to us. We love his sincerity.

Things continue to go on. We're working on getting more people to progress on to baptism date. We have some great new people whom we're working with. Jessica, who we tried to put on baptism date, is going back to China on Monday, and will only be back in July. But, she'll be baptized. She asked if she could get baptized after she gets back!

Thinking about and reflecting on this journey that started almost three years ago has been.... well, it's rather indescribable. I love my my mission. I have loved serving and teaching and growing. It's still hard for me to see all the change that I think and hope has taken place. But, I have learned from the many experiences I've had. It's been easy, it's been unbearable, it's been the best and the worst days in my life. But, I have learned the things which I have needed to, that the gospel is true, that my family is the most important thing to me, that happiness comes in obeying the gospel. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that he is my Savior and Redeemer. I know that the church of Jesus Christ is on this earth again today, with all the power and authority of God. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the words of God, that through the words of the prophets of old and of the present day will bring us joy, joy that can and will surpass all understanding as we strive to follow what we know to be true.

I'm a little afraid to go back to the world, but I'm also excited to see what Heavenly Father has planned for me as I start school again, and learn to be who I can and must become.

I find comfort in a wonderful talk given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He said,
"And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."
Faith is what I take with me, to know that with it, I have the power to do all that Heavenly Father has in store for me. I know that as I continue to obey His commandments and keep the covenants that I have made with Him, that all things will work out, and give me the experiences I need to allow me to return to live with my earthly and family again one day.

We gave a zone training yesterday. As I was searching for a scripture to close with, I came across this, from the Doctrine and Covenants, 123rd section, verses 11 to 17.
And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it— Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven— These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
These things are true. I am full of good cheer because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for all your love and support these past two years. I'll post more later on next week. Have a great week!

-Elder Chua

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why Charity?

This week was rather normal for us, but we still did decently well and had a great time nonetheless.

Jun Xiu should be baptized Saturday, so that will be great. She's a little nervous, but she'll be fine. Unfortunately, Helen, who is supposed to be baptized on the same date as her, is really afraid and feels that she can't keep the covenants and commandments, so we're trying to help her to see that she will receive so much joy as she gets baptized, and that it really isn't a huge step. Really hope that she can come to understand that. She really does have a testimony. Just not a hundred percent sure as to what is holding her back.

We met with a few new investigators. Some are good, some not so good.

We did well in our area this week, but we had to work with the other missionaries in our zone who are having some issues. We had to talk to one of our district leaders who was unhappy with the way we have our areas, so we had to explain to him that it was a Stake directive. Also working with obedience issues in the Zone. Need to help the missionaries understand that obedience to the commandments and mission rules is the only way that they can find true success and happiness. As I think about the times that I have been happy as a missionary, it has always been when I worked hard and was obedient, because the Spirit is with you!

I'm still working on my charity with some of the missionaries and investigators. This quote by C.S. Lewis really got me thinking.

"When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."

Frank is doing well. He should be baptized the week after. Teaching English class a few times a week now, and teaching the investigators after the English lessons. We'll see how that goes. Have a great week!

-Elder Chua