Monday, December 29, 2014

Irons and Feasts--CHRISTMAS 2014

Well, it's come and gone, but Christmas 2014 was the best!!!!!!!! On Christmas Eve we had two baptisms that went super well. Louisa and Erin--they've both been learning for over a year, but they've finally made the decision to make covenants with their Father in Heaven. The services went super awesome. It was great to be able to see how happy they were, how nervous they were, and how much they've changed in the time that I've known them! :) 
We had SO MUCH FOOD on Christmas Day. First round=All of the American Christmas candy that packages from home brought. Second round=Feast at the Schollenbergers. Totes delicious :) Third round=Christmas Party at Brian Che's, where the elders were requested to sing. We'd sung "Silent Night" the night before at the baptism, first two verses Chinese, third verse English, and at the Christmas Party at Brian Che's we performed it again. I'm so grateful for the chance that we have at Christmas to be with awesome friends and family! Christmas is the best :)
A couple weeks ago, as I was ironing a shirt/pondering Christmas, I got a nice little realization. So the iron I was using is one of those kinds that has a little area for water. If you fill it up with water, the iron works 100 times better. The steam helps speed up the ironing process and makes the shirt look so much nicer and cleaner and less wrinkled. It also helps to magnify the heat. Without the water, the ironing job isn't much good at all.
The same is true in life. We all know that we're going to have trials and hard times--the almost unbearable heat of Life's Iron. But when we add the Water of Life--even Jesus Christ--our trials take on a very different nature. They still exist, to be sure, but they're different. They're not there just to make us miserable or destroy us--they're there to refine us and iron us out. With that Water present, the heat seems to be magnified, but the resulting steam enables us to smoothed out. It enables those trials to flow by quicker. It allows us to see that there is actually a reason for Life's Iron. It's not just something to heat things up--it's something that's meant to make us better.
Thanks to Christ, we have purpose in life and we find purpose in trials. Do I like trials? Not one bit. But do I know why I have them? Or rather, do I know why I need to have them? Yes. I know that they're there to help me be better. Thanks to Christ, they're not permanent. They're not fatal. They're refiner's fires, the irons of life that mend and make us. Thanks to Christmas, we have Christ, and thanks to Christ, we have everything else :)
I love you all so much and hope that you had a magnificently great and grand Christmas! Keep on keeping on! Happy New Year! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Monday, December 15, 2014

God is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

Another Zone Conference week has come and gone. This past week has been so good spiritually, but man, it sure has done a number on my physical self. I've been combatting a return of foot fungus as well as a nasty little head-cold, but ne'er you fret! The work of God continues to roll forth!
At Zone Conference this past week we learned about how to work better with members-we are on the SAME team, after all--and then we also learned about the love of God, as exemplified in Christmas. If you haven't yet, I highly encourage you to take some time and watch #SharetheGift that the Church just barely came out with a week or two ago. So good! It gives me the chills every time that I watch it :) 
As I've reflected on the birth of my Savior this past week, I've been able to really think about His love for me and for all of humanity. He really just wants us to come back and live with Him again. He's always offering us the opportunity to make covenants and promises with Him. What's the point of these? To bind us closer to Him, to inspire us to aspire to celestial heights, and to help enable us to become more and more like Him each and every day :) He lives--He was born in mean estate, He lived a simple but humble life, He died on a cruel cross, but now, RIGHT NOW, He lives again! The bonds of death have been snapped; the chains that would encircle the world have been severed! As the words of one of my all-time favorite Christmas hymns says, "God is NOT DEAD, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with PEACE on earth, GOOD WILL to men." ("I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day", Hymn No. 214, emphasis added). 
How have you seen Him active in your own life? How have you felt His hand touching, leading, guiding, and influencing you? He's so real, and He's so amazing! The fact that He loves us enough to have been born, lived, and died for us is remarkable in and of itself; but now He lives for us again! He's not going to stop loving us, and He will always been working with us, until that perfect day when we are like Him. I know that's true :)
For now I bid you a wonderful rest of the day and week! I love y'all lots!
Mai Zhanglao
p.s. We went to Zone Conference this week. Look what I found....The caption for the second pic is "'Nuff Said" :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where is the Love? What's the Matter with the World, Mama?:):)

Hello Errbody!
These past few weeks have gone by quick! Thanksgiving was wonderful, and Christmas is coming! HOORAY FOR CHRISTMAS! It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year :) And when we're filled with the Spirit of Christmas, we're living the most wonderful life :) So today I want to quickly share a quick thought with you from yesterday.
We met with a recent convert and her family yesterday at the church to talk about the Importance of the Family. It was the perfect lesson for her--she has a husband that's super controlling, and that essentially is very restrictive of what she and her kids can do. She let off some steam with us, and made mention multiple times how she doesn't love him and how she doesn't want to be anywhere near him. It was sad, but really enlightening. We left her with the commitment to fast and pray and seek for opportunities to develop charity for her husband. Hopefully she'll take our challenge to heart and rely upon the power of the Atonement to be able to love her husband the way that Christ loves him.
This encounter brought tears to my eyes--the point behind families is to be happy and find joy in this life. It's helped me see what type of man and future husband I'd like to be, as well as help me appreciate all the more my own father for the wonderful example he's given to me and for the love that he's shown to us kids and our mom. I know that families truly can be forever, if we will put in the work and effort, the tears and the love, that the Lord asks of us. Everything will work out in the end, as we hold on to each other and on to the Lord. :) I'm so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose simple teachings and sayings truly are the pathway and guidelines for this life. If we'll simply learn to love and to forgive, to have faith and to repent, to remain true in hard times--these things will surely carry us out of life's hard times and help us truly magnify the sunshine days that God has planned for us. Sure, it's super hard, but it's also worth it. Courage, then, and on, on to the victory! :)
I love you all! Keep on keeping on! :)
Mai Zhanglao