Tuesday, May 23, 2017

March 23, 2017: New Chinese Branch

The opening day of the Chinese Branch was fantastic. There were 120 people in attendance (a good amount of visitors came, so the regular attendance will likely be around 80 in the coming weeks). We had sacrament meeting, and all of our recent converts participated in preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament. It's incredible to see how far they've come.
It was so hot in the building because we're still waiting for the air conditioning to be installed (we have one room with air conditioning), so we opened all the windows. Elder O'Riordan (a Seventy) came and spoke at our sacrament meeting along with Summer (our Chinese Relief Society President, in photo below), President Korte (our Stake President), and President Scott (our Branch President). Gospel principles class was 100% Mandarin, so I picked up a few new words. Occasionally someone will make a joke in the class and there'll be an outburst of laughter, and my companion and I will smile and look around thinking, What is happening? What's so funny around here?
Elders Quorum was in 100% Chinese as well; our recent converts are preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood this April, so Elders Quorum is Melchizedek Priesthood preparation class.
The members prepared lunch for everyone after church and we all had the opportunity to talk with the recent converts. During the lunch Jerry, our investigator who is working to quit smoking so he can be baptized this Saturday, came up to us and said, "This Saturday4pm. shi li ("she-lee" -- baptism). I will quit smoking."
I've seen miracles in my mission but never before so frequent and powerful. I've never seen change and transformation so powerful and bright as I have these past few months. Heavenly Father prepares his children but he also prepares us to take care of them. I'm so grateful Heavenly Father gave me the opportunity to witness Chris, Lei, Lanhao, Ian, and soon Jerry, transform from common men into priesthood holders who bless the sacrament and share their sincere testimonies in front of a congregation. Pure joy doesn't come from putting effort into ourselves but from putting effort into building our brothers and sisters. It is then that we see who they really are; it is then that we see who we really are. It is then that we realize what Heavenly Father has in store for us.
Elder Koch   

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