Sunday, December 30, 2012

Week 42: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

I can't believe tomorrow starts 2013! Time is just flying by! I have just a mere 7 months left as a missionary, and I know that time will fly, so I hope to make the most of it! 

We had a wonderful Christmas here in Taiwan. I got to skype with my family on Christmas morning and that was such a fun thing! I loved getting to see my family! It had been 9 months since I'd seen them and 6 since I'd talked with them. So that was great. Then we were fed a delicious hot pot lunch by a member (hot pot is just broth and you just pile in meat and veggies and sometimes noodles; so good!) and then a fantastic Christmas dinner by the same member to gave us Thanksgiving dinner. We had turkey, ham, pototoes, the works. Even Christmas cookies! I was so grateful! But aside from all that, the best part was that we had 2 new investigators that day, both who accepted an invitation to be baptized on January 26th! BUT! The miracles don't stop there!!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were also filled with miracle new investigators who accepted baptismal goals! So that meant that by Sunday, we had 5 investigators with baptismal goals! BUT! It still doesn't stop there! One of our investigators that we've been working with for a few weeks, but has been meeting with missionaries off and on since 1998 accepted to prepare to be baptized on January 26th as well!!! So we currently have 6 investigators who have baptismal goals! We feel so blessed!!! It is nothing short of a Christmas miracle! And we still have two more investigators that we are hoping to help them set baptismal goals this week, so hopefully next week we will have 8 investigators with baptismal goals! I haven't had this many investigators with goals since my first month on island. It actually attribute the majority of our blessings to the faith of my companion. She is so incredible. Here is an example of her faith: 

We have this investigator who had been meeting with the sisters here since June or so. When I got here, it was clear she wasn't interested in the gospel right now. After about a month of being here, we finally just asked her if she had a desire to be baptized, and she said, no, not really. So we dropped her. Her son is a recent convert of the Elders, so she comes to church with him sometimes, and she came with him to the ward Christmas party last weekend. She met my new companion and wanted us to come visit her. I was reluctant because we had just visited her the previous week at the request of her son (who had helped rescue my keys, so we felt like we had to), so I wasn't too thrilled to go again, when we could be focusing on finding new investigators who are ready. My companion wanted to talk with her about baptism but I was like, she's already told us she isn't interested, but I figured, it won't hurt. So we go and share a message and my companion talks to her about how we want to help her prepare to be baptized, and that we want her to pick a baptismal date. She's like, ok, January 5th. And I'm like...uh, this is to be baptized, like, become a member of our church, and she's like, ok. And I was like, well, January 5th is a bit too soon, how about January 19th. And she was like, ok. So we talk about what has to happen before she can be baptized and she is willing to do it all. So, I am so grateful for my companion who has huge amounts of faith. I know it is because of her that we had so many miracles this week, and I am so grateful that I can learn from her!

So yes, I am so grateful for my companion! And then! On Wednesday we went looking for less-actives. One of our bishops has asked us to help re-activate less active single woman. So we got a list of all the single woman in the ward and we have started calling/visiting them all. So last week we went to visit some in one area, and we came upon a less-active who we learned is deaf. We couldn't get her attention, so we just left her a note. She texted us that night, but we didn't have a way to text her back because we aren't allowed to text. We called the assistants for permission to text her, but they said no because our mission president has just said that no missionary is allowed to text because they don't know how much it costs. I told them the situation and they said they'd see what they could figure out for us. So they called a few days later and were like, we are going to see on Monday how much texting costs, but for now you can send a text or two to her. So we set up an appointment with her for Sunday. We prayed really hard because neither of us know sign language (Chinese Sign Language is different than ASL), but I was grateful my companion is a native and could write. So long story short, through her reading our lips, and writing down things, we came to find out she is really needing the gospel in her life. She was so grateful we came. She said she prays every day that someone would notice her, and I was so grateful everything in our plan that day had fallen through that we went and found her. So we are going to start seeing her every week and make sure the ward knows about her and can help her come back. 

So that has been our week. It has been such an incredible week, definitely one of my favorites on my mission so far! Every missionary who was on the mission last Christmas said, be prepared for Christmas miracles; it's hard being away for Christmas, but the Lord blesses us for our service. I was skeptical, but I have seen the blessings and this had made it a Christmas to remember. 

Thank you all for your love and support! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I know that this is such a special time to remember the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so honored to wear His name everyday as His representative. I know this message that I am sharing with the people of Taiwan is true. I know that through prayer and studying the Book of Mormon, everyone can come to know of the truthfulness of this gospel. If you don't know if this church is truly Jesus Christ's church, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon so you can find out for yourself if this is Christ's ancient church, restored in our day. I know it is, and you can know too. 

I love you all! Happy New year!!!

#121: My Christmas gifts from my family, under the Christmas tree =]
#160: Me and my family, skyping =]
#165: My companion and our Christmas lunch

#167: My companion and I and our Christmas dinner

Monday, December 24, 2012

Week 41: Merry Christmas!

Hello Everyone!
Merry Christmas!!!!! I can't believe the year is almost over! It seems like just yesterday I was putting in my mission papers, and now that was already over a year ago! Don't let a minute go to waste, time is too precious!!

We had a good week here in GaoXiong! I survived my first week as senior companion! It started off better than it ended, but that's ok. Our first full day together, Tuesday, was really great! We had a ton of lessons and it was just so fun! Wednesday we got fanged (stood-up) a lot, which was kind of a bummer, but we had English and now that I'm not English Leader, I enjoyed it much more =] I teach Gao Ji Ban (Advanced) and for our spiritual share we watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas. My students were really touched by the movie and how Christ-like Mr. Kruger was to others, even though they weren't very kind back to him. 

Then Thursday was the day I have been waiting for since I got to Taiwan! Our Mission Christmas Activity!! The one day that all the missionaries were together at once! It was so much fun, but so short. We left at 6:30 AM on a bus and drove 3 hours. Then we arrived at a Buddhist temple and took our mission picture! So fun! We had about 30 minutes there and we just visited with people! I wish we had had more time there so I could have gone and looked at the temple. I was just more concerned with talking to people =] Then we drove about an hour to another tourist attraction, where we had more time =] So we walked around there and took pictures, then it was off to TaiZhong, my first area!!! We ate lunch at the TaiZhong Steakhouse, and that was super fun. It is an all you can eat buffet. It was great to just get to visit with missionaries I hadn't seen in a while =] And then back to my old home, Beiqu! It was so weird being back there. We had a Christmas Devotional, and then it was back on the bus to head home to GaoXiong. It was so fun to be able to see everyone and to celebrate Christmas!

Then last night, Sunday, we went with some of the singles and some of our recent converts to go caroling for Family Home Evening. It was super fun, and the elders had a real cool miracle out of it. We also had a lady come up to us and talk with us. She often sees the missionaries and is always touched when she sees us. She was willing to give us her information, so we are going to call her and see if she is willing to meet with us so we can share about our special message. 

This Christmas season has been very different from every other Christmas I've had. I have been able to focus more on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and really remember why we celebrate Christmas. Here in Taiwan, they have some of the commercialized aspects of Christmas, but most people here are not Christian, and therefore do not know about Christ. I love that I get to spend everyday sharing with these wonderful people about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how this gospel can bless their lives. I hope everyone can remember the importance of Christmas, and remember our Savior Jesus Christ. 

I read in a conference talk this morning this quote by Elder Russel M. Nelson: "All missionaries, younger and older, serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people." This is why I am serving a mission, and the way I help make people's lives better is by sharing about Jesus Christ. I know He is my Savior, and that through Him, all the pain and suffering and hardships and trials can become joy. That is why we celebrate Christmas, to remember our Savior. 

I love you all! Thank you all for your love and support! I am so grateful for you all. I feel your prayers everyday. 

Have a wonderful, Merry CHRISTmas!

1: Me and Sis. Taylor, my MTC companion of 12 days, and my best friend in the mission (who is now serving in my first area!!!)
2: Me and Elder Westbrook (and our companions). He and I lived together in China
3: All the missionaries (except for Elder Buckwalter, who we couldn't find) that I came to Taiwan with. Love these people!

 4: My darling companion and I

Week 40: I've Got a New Companion!

Hello Everyone!!!
This week I hit my half-way mark! I have been a missionary for 9 months, and today I have been on island for 7 months!!

And the big news of the week is: I have a new companion! And I'm now senior companion!!! My new companion is Sis. Liu, from TaoYuan, Taiwan. This is her 3rd move-call. And the crazy thing is, she was going to school in my first area, and was a ward member in my first area, before going on her mission! And now she is my companion! So I knew her before she was a missionary! So crazy!! I expect that we are going to have a lot of fun together =] I'm nervous about being senior companion, but she will be a great companion to go senior on =]

So, how was my last week with Sis. Gibson? Oh, what fun stories I have =] Let's start with Monday.

Monday was a great preparation day. We went back to the Lotus Pond so Sis. Gibson could buy a few more things. Then that night we went and printed pictures before proselyting. Sis. Gibson had a recent convert coming to find her so we could all go out to dinner. I was unlocking my bike after printing pictures, and my keys slipped out of my hands...right down into the sewer. Now, in Taiwan, on the side of the road, they have these little 1 1/2 inch diameter holes that go down into the sewer, about every 2 feet, and then like every 3 holes there is a bigger sewer grate. And my keys didn't fall down the bigger sewer grate, they fell down the little 1 1/2 inch diameter hole! I was shocked and stunned. Now these weren't just my bike key's was also our house key and our church key! So I began freaking out. Long story short, Sis. Gibson's recent converts son, Ying Zhong, ended up stripping down to his boxers, putting on a pair of rubber boots, and climbing into the sewer to find my keys! (this was after about an hour trying to find them with a flashlight and a stick down the little hole). I'm not sure the whole story because when this happened we had gone to get food, but when we came back, there were my keys! I was so grateful!!!! So that was Monday =]

Tuesday night our investigator with a baptismal date, Lin JM, had her baptismal interview, and it all went great!! We are so excited for her! She was in Taibei this past weekend for her sister's wedding, so we haven't seen her in a while, but we are so excited for her!

Wednesday we had a talent show for English class. That was fun =] We had some fun acts, and then for our spiritual share, an elder read the story of the 10 talents and the rest of us acted it out (if you don't know the story of the 10 talents, its in the Bible...I don't remember where right now, Matthew maybe?). So that was all fun!

Thursday we planned to have two dinners, one with our recent convert, Liu JM, and one with some ward members, all because my companion was going home. So we went to eat with Liu JM and that was super fun! She told us she is thinking of going on a mission! And she's only been baptized for 3 weeks! She is so incredible and I love seeing the change that has happened in her, and I love seeing how integrated and accepted she is in the ward! Then after meeting with her, we were heading towards dinner #2 when my bike broke. It has been making a weird noise for a while, but I've been ignoring it...bummer. So the axle in my back tire had broken, so finally after going to a few different shops, a man was able to fix it for me. So grateful! But, we missed being treated out to our second dinner. We were super sad. 

Friday was super awesome because we had 8 lessons! And we were treated out to super yummy and expensive steak for lunch! We had some great lessons with investigators and recent converts, and I just loved that day! Though there was a ton of hard core biking, like, faster then I've ever had to go before! So crazy!

Saturday we had a mission-wide service day! All of our individual zones did a service project! Our zone did a Christmas activity at a home for older, disabled people. We had a member of one of our wards that lives there, and we were so excited to go and do this little Christmas performance for them! My companion and I ended up in charge of it, but it turned out really good! We had a little performance with some songs and then "Santa" came out! I took pictures with all the residents and Santa, and we had some ornaments cut out for all of them to color and put on a paper Christmas tree we had cut out for them. We had about 30 ornaments because the home told us there would be about 20 people. Well, there were actually 40, so we didn't have enough ornaments or treat bags. We made do with the ornaments and just opened all the treat bags and gave people a few pieces of candy. It was just super fun and we all had such a great time! Then that night my companion and I went to the church for an add at eight o'clock, but we weren't expecting her to be there. We get there and there is a member inside and she is talking with two women and I'm like, well, maybe they did come. The lady turns around and it is my recent convert Tiffany!!!! I was so happy to see her!!! She came down from TaiZhong to find me! So we met with her and her mom for a big and then they came to church the next day!

Sunday was Sis. Gibson's last Sunday. So crazy! The best part of the day for me was having 4 of my 5 personal recent converts sitting with me on a row at church. I love these 5 sisters. They are so incredible and it was so great to have 4 of them at church with me at one time. Then that night we went to a members house for dinner and the elders and other members were there. We had a wonderful night and then read the Christmas story together and talked about what Christ means to us in our lives. It was a really great night. I love being in this area!

So that was our week! It was so great! Our investigators are all doing really well. I have faith that with my new companion, we are just going to blow things out of the water!!! I am so excited! 

My mom had said to me this week that my brother was challenged to read the Book of Mormon all the way through in the month of December and she asked me where I was currently reading. I'm almost done reading Alma, and I have a goal to finish it by the end of the year! When I read through the Book of Mormon earlier this year, I didn't really like the end of Alma because it is all just fighting, but this time around, I really discovered the story of Captain Moroni and the title of liberty. The title of liberty was their promise to protect their land and wives and children and religious freedom. It made me grateful to live in a time when a great majority of the world has religious freedom. I am grateful that I am free to worship the Savior and read the Book of Mormon and go to church. I know this is the exact same church that Christ established when he was on the earth, except that it has been restored. I know that through reading the Book of Mormon, everyone can know this for themselves. But you will never know if you don't read it. So at this Christmas season, when we remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, I invite all of your members of the church or not, Christian or non-Christian, to read the Book of Mormon. I'm not saying you need to read it all, but even just a little bit will allow you to feel the power it has. I know the Book of Mormon is true. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Don't forget why we celebrate Christmas. If you don't know why we celebrate Christmas, write me, I'd be happy to explain it to you =] I love you all and am so grateful for your love and prayers!

2: My zone, right after the activity. 
3: Me and my recent convert, Tiffany and her mom. 
4: Me, my district, and two of my recent converts. 
5: Me and my new companion, Liu JM
6: Me and my companion and her recent converts two kids. The young man is the boy who climbed in the sewer for my keys. And he is holding my keys =] 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week 39: A Week of Miracles

Hello everyone!

What a great week we've had here in Taiwan. We've seen lots of miracles and had lots of fun! I feel like so much happened this week that we will go according to days =]

Monday: Preparation day! We went with one of my companion's recent converts and another set of sisters and we went to Lotus Pond. It was beautiful! Its this lake with some pagodas and lots of tourist shops! Which was awesome because we have been looking for tourist shops and hadn't been finding any! So we were both able to get Christmas gifts for our family there =] So great! Then that night, my rockstar of a companion added 7 people, on the street and on the phone! I was shocked! When we add people, we set up a time with them to meet and then invite them to be baptized on a specific day. So yeah, I was pretty proud of her =]

Tuesday: Sister Exchanges! I stayed in my area again, but Sis. Hancock came to visit! She was trained in the same area that I was trained in, and she was also companions with my trainer, so we had a ton of fun. We talked about all the people we knew, and I learned a lot from her about how to work with the ward. It is something I've really been trying to figure out how to do, and she is the queen of working with the ward, so it was so awesome! We had a great time together. 

Wednesday: Wednesday was cold and rainy, but we still had English! We didn't have many people come to English, but we had two new people come and both were ladies who we added! One was going to come to church on Sunday but ended up not being able to. The other is a lady we will meet with this Wednesday. So that was super awesome!!

Thursday: We had an appointment with one of the lady's my companion added on Monday and she because our new investigator! Yay! I love new investigators! She is a former investigator, and we think she has a lot of great potential. She was going to come to church but ended up not being able to, but that's ok, we are seeing her this week! So excited! 

Friday: Weekly planning! And I added 3 people by myself! One is a mom of 4 kids and I'm super excited to meet with her this week! I hope her family is ready to accept the gospel! 

Saturday: We had another new great investigator!!! And she came to church on Sunday! We were also allowed to take our cameras around that day so we could take pictures of us proselyting, so I have some great pictures to share today! 

Sunday: We had 4 investigators confirmed for church, but only two came, but, they were two ivestigators that had never been to church with us before! So awesome! One is an investigator we've been working with for a while so we were so excited she came!! So that was awesome!!

So all in all, we had 5 new investigators this week and we have a lot of lessons set up for this coming week! Our investigator Lin JM is still on track to have her baptism on 12/29. She has her interview this Tuesday! 

I love being a missionary! It has been so great! Next Monday is move-call and I will be getting a new companion, since mine is going home! So look forward to that!

Thank you all for your love and support! I love the Christmas season and the chance we have to think of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Love you all!

1: My companion and I at Lotus Pond

2: My companion and I with our Christmas tree that a friend sent to me.

3: My companion and I with our APR (our list of investigators) with our fingers on our investigator who was coming to church's name!

4: Me contacting!

Week 38: WOW!

Wow! How did we get to December (ok, I know I say this at the beginning of every month, but I wonder it at the beginning of every month!). I am 8 1/2 months as a missionary and have about 8 1/2 months left!!! So...I'm halfway done with my mission! I remember starting my mission and thinking I'd never make it to the end! And now I'm halfway here and I don't feel like I've been a missionary all that long. Craziness!

So, last Monday, after emailing, we went with a recent convert to go shopping! My companion needs to buy going home/Christmas gifts, and I need Christmas gifts, so our wonderful recent convert took us to some shops. We got some stuff, but then ended up at the beach =] I love where I am serving right now! We just went around this mountain and there was the beautiful beach!!! I was stunned how beautiful it was! And it was such a gorgeous day! I really enjoyed that!

Then Wednesday we had interviews (I didn't because I had one two weeks ago at mission tour) and so it was fun seeing people, especially my mission president and his wife. Love them! We had some great training from President Bishop about how to help our investigators keep commitments so I am excited to use what I learned to help our investigators! 

Friday we made a run to Costco first thing in the morning to buy things for this huge Thanksgiving party we were having with the ward on Saturday. We were making turkey (two), green bean casserole, yams, stuffing (homemade because we couldn't find boxed), mashed potatoes and gravy. And the gravy was homemade too. So that was fun going to Costco. 

Then Saturday, the big day! An elder had started planning this party to help the ward introduce their friends to the church in a non-threatening way, but then he got moved. And his companion went home. And my companion it became my party =] But we had full cooperation from the ward and it all went really well! Of course there were problems, like the person who was supposed to cook the turkeys realized that he ovens weren't big enough, and the person who was supposed to bring plates, forks and cups didn't, but everything worked out. We ended up cooking the turkeys at the church (one right after the other) and then prepared the side dishes at the church and a member took them and cooked them. And thankfully the Taiwanese are used to bringing their own bowls and chopsticks, that they all had just brought their own bowls and chopsticks so we didn't need plates or anything anyway =] I was so impressed with everything! The turkeys turned out delicious and the side dishes were all so good! We had way too much food, but that's ok. I can now say I can make Thanksgiving dinner for 75 people, mostly from scratch, without going crazy =] 

And that was about it for our week!

Investigators! We had two investigators commit to be baptized on December 29th! We are so excited! One has been an investigator for about 6 months and so we were so thrilled that she finally committed to being baptized! We are so excited! The only thing is she wants to get baptized in her hometown, but we aren't sure if she can. So we are going to try and work that out. The other investigator has good potential to be baptized that day as well, but she has to start coming to church =] So we are hoping we can help her understand the importance of church attendance this week. We didn't find any new investigators really last week, so we are going to hit it hard this week and find some more. 

We have also been working a lot with less actives recently, as that is what one of the bishops has asked for our help in doing. So we've been meeting with active singles and getting their help reactivating less-active singles, and so far, we are seeing the active singles be really excited to help us do this! We are also trying to help get family home evening going again with the two wards, and we saw great success with that last night! So things are moving and going great here!

I hope everyone is doing well! I love you all and am so grateful for all your love and support!

1) Yes, this is where I am currently serving. It is so beautiful! And the buildings on the hillside are a college. I'd love to go to college there =]

2) Turkey #1 in the oven!

3) Turkey #1 out of the oven! So delicious with crispy skin, meat falling off the bones, everything!

4) All the other side dishes we made (except for the potatoes and gravy) - yams, homemade stuffing and green bean casserole. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic week! Love you all!

Week 37: What a Great Week!

Hello Everyone!
What a wonderful week we've had here in GaoXiong!!! My new companion and I have had a fantastic week! We've seen lots of miracles, had lots of laughs, had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, but the best was our wonderful baptism!!!!

So we'll start with last Monday. After we emailed we just went grocery shopping, and then that night we went to our recent convert, Pan JM's house, and we had family night with her and her husband, their kids and the elders. It was such a good family night! The kids really loved the lesson the elders did, and then we had a great activity for the kids. And Pan JM's husband participated and actually knows quite a bit about the gospel. We hope he will continue to be willing to meet with us, at least for family night. After that, we did some riding around trying to add people, and my rockstar companion added 3 people (an add is when we set up with them to meet on a specific day and time, and invite them to be baptized). So I was so proud of her! 

Tuesday we had another day packed of adds and lessons. We met with Liu JM, who was getting baptized on Saturday and we resolved all concerns that we had. We also met some great people while we were doing English powerboarding (we stand on a busy street and hold up free english signs and pass out flyers), and one of the ladies has become a new investigator of ours! So that was a super great day!

Wednesday was another day full of adds! We didn't have a ton of lessons, but we had a lot of time to talk to people. And then we had English, and at English, one of the students brought a turkey! So we had turkey after English, and I got to carve it =] I wish I had pictures of that. 

Thursday was packed full of lessons! We also got another new investigator that day, who lives just a few doors down from our current investigator =] Then that night we had a lesson with a lady I had set up last week, and she was so great! She too is now another new investigator that we have! And she seems really solid and we set a baptismal goal with her as well for December 29th. We are going to do everything we can to help her hit that goal! 

Friday we had weekly planning in the morning and finalized everything for Liu JM's baptism! We had a few great lessons, but we didn't work as hard on adding people that day, but that's ok, it was still a great day! We also had another great lesson with one of our investigators and we've decided that yes, she does have a desire to keep learning about the gospel, so that is great!! We just need to start helping her progress. 

Saturday was the big day! The morning had a few lessons and then were at the church at 3 to wait for Liu JM. She showed up nice and early so we had to time to get her changed and take pictures. And the best part was my old companion was able to come down from Tainan to attend! We didn't tell Liu JM this so it would be a surprise. We were in the chapel singing hymns when Sis. Liang snuck in and surprised Liu JM. She was very touched =] So we took pictures and then the baptism started! We had a few great talks and then us missionaries sang the primary song "I like to look for rainbows" in Chinese, with one elder playing the piano and one playing the guitar. Liu JM was very touched by the song. And then she was baptized!! It was so great! She only had to be baptized once! All in all, it was just so great. And we had another investigator attend who said the closing prayer at the service which was so awesome! We are hoping we can help her get baptized this month =] After the baptism we all prepared to head over to a ward members house who was having a Thanksgiving dinner for the missionaries, investigators, recent converts and ward missionaries. It was such a good Thanksgiving dinner and provided a great opportunity for our recent converts and investigators to get to meet some more people in the ward. We were very grateful!

Then Sunday Liu JM came early to sing with the choir and then she received the gift of the Holy Ghost and is now a full-fledged member of Christ's Church here on the earth! I am so grateful for the opportunity I've had to be her "fu yin jie mei" = gospel sister = her missionary =] I love her and it has been so great to see her change, and I know she is going to be a strong member of the church here in Taiwan, and I am so grateful I called phones that one day =] 

So that has been our week! And this coming week is going to be even better (except without a baptism...or we could have someone drop into a week A =] ). We have a lot of the adds from last week set up for this week, so we have a lot of lessons planned already for this week which is super awesome! And this coming Saturday we have another huge Thanksgiving party! Pray that I can make two turkeys and all the side dishes without going crazy or without anything burning or being undercooked!!!

#1: Baptism picture: Sis. Gibson, Sis Busath, Liu JM, Sis. Liang, Elder Jorgensen (he baptized her...his first!) and Elder Cox. 

#2: Liu JM coming out of the font!

#3: Liu JM and I right after baptism!

#4: We were given leftovers from the Thanksgiving dinner, so we ate them for lunch and then had a little left for dinner, so I made a sandwhich (I didn't have my camera at any of the other dinners, so this is all I have a picture of)

I can't believe that this is the last week of November and that Christmas is almost here! I am so grateful for this time I have to be a missionary for the Lord in Taiwan!

Thank you all for your love and support! I am so eternally grateful for all of you!

Lots of love!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Week 36: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!! 

Well, the big news of the week is I have a new companion! Today we had mini-move-call and my companion got moved, and I have a new, wonderful companion, Sis. Gibson! She is from Conneticut. She actually only has 4 more weeks on her mission, so I will be getting another new companion next move-call as well. But I am so excited for these 4 weeks with her! 

We actually did have some cool things happen last week. Last Tuesday we went to meet with a less active and when we got there she was like, I made a new friend who goes to church and I want you to meet her, so we are going to her house. Ok, cool! So we get there and our less active is like, hi, these are my missionary friends. The lady looked at us like, uh, ok. So we went up and were talking and soon another lady comes. Except she is a white Australian. So that was cool. We are talking and eventually I asked the Australian what church they go to, and she says they are Jehovah's Witnesses. I had never met one before. So we talked a bit about missionary work (since they are missionaries in Taiwan as well) and we talked about why we love serving missions and such. It was super interesting. She actually reminded me of how great it really is to be a missionary, because we get to constantly think of Jesus Christ because we are teaching about him and talking about him all the time. She also helped me to remember that Jesus Christ should be the focus of all I do as a missionary. So as interesting of a meeting as it was, I am super grateful for it because she helped me to refocus my missionary efforts and make sure they are centered on Christ. 

Wednesday was mission tour! We had Elder Larry Wilson from the Asia Area Presidency come visit our mission. We got to spend the day hearing from him and learning from him! It was so great! He invited us all to think of 5 things that we will change to be better missionaries, so I am super excited! This was also where my companion and I were singing. We sang "Search, Ponder and Pray" from the children's hymnbook, since scriptures was kind of the theme. The only problem was that my companion got really sick on Tuesday and didn't have a voice and we were super nervous. She got a blessing and we asked lots of people to pray for us. Needless to say, she was even sicker on Wednesday morning. But, we got up there, and I know the angels were singing with us. My companion didn't cough once, my voice didn't crack, and everyone gave us huge compliments. I know the Lord answers prayers, even if it is just so that we sound good while we sing. So that was super great and fun!

Thursday my companion was super, super, sick. She had a fever on Wednesday night for quite a while, and so we stayed in for the morning on Thursday and she slept while I organized stuff and called lots of people. 

Friday night we went out to dinner with our ward correlator and his mom. We went to this great place and it was like a 6 or 7 course meal! And I had steak! It was so good! But we were stuffed by the time we were done eating. So good though!

Then Saturday was a great day to! Why? Because Liu JM had her baptismal interview and she passed! If all goes well this week, she will be getting baptized on Saturday! We are so excited and she is so ready! We are also hoping my companion will be able to come back for it. We'll see! 

I am excited for this week! Sis. Gibson and I are ready to work hard and see miracles! 

Since this week is Thanksgiving, I want to tell everyone how thankful I am for all your support! I am thankful that I have this opportunity to serve my Savior and Heavenly Father here in Taiwan and be able to bring people unto Christ. I am thankful for the gospel and the blessings it brings to me and my family. I know that this gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that because of His Atonement, we can become clean from our sins and return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father again when we die, and for this, I am so, eternally, grateful!

#1: View out my window on a super clear day. The tall building is the Taiwan 85 - the second tallest building in Taiwan.

#2: The view out my window on a cloudy, rainy day. I liked it because the 85 is sticking up through the clouds. And yes, I was missing photography so I took the picture in black and white =]
#3: Sis. Gibson and I! Not the greatest picture, so expect more of us =]
#4: My zone and the East GaoXiong Zone at Mission Tour. 

Love you all! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Week 35: Miracles of the Week

Hello Everyone!!!
I can't believe we are already almost half way through November! Time is just flying! Its already been over a year since I got my mission call! I can't believe that. 

We've had a fantastic week here in Taiwan! Why? Because we have an investigator getting baptized on November 24th!!! Liu JM had a baptismal goal of Nov. 17, but we had never really talked with her about it beyond extending it to her. So this week we talked with her about being baptized for real and she was like, I've already been thinking about being baptized and I've prayed about it already. So yes! She is so ready and we are so excited!! She is so amazing and I'm grateful we were able to meet her. I don't know if I've ever shared the story, but she was contacted by a previous sister missionary (who happens to have been my MTC companion!) but she was too busy then to meet. We have what are called "dead stacks" which are contact cards with people's information, but either they weren't interested or were never able to get ahold of them. So we perodically will call some of these cards when we have time. So I was calling a stack and she answered and said she'd meet with us, and the rest is history! So exciting!

Our second miracle of the week is that we have a new, fantastic investigator with a December 15 baptismal goal! She is 16 and she started attending our English class a few weeks ago, after having received an English tract from the elders. She is super cute and we are really excited! And even better, we thought she lived in one ward, which is the ward that all of our investigators have been in recently, but we found out she is in the other ward, which is the ward we've been praying to have investigators in! So we are so thrilled and so excited for her!!!

Beyond that, this past week was pretty uneventful. Last Friday night, Sister Mary Cook of the General Young Woman's Presidency and Sister Linda Reeves of the General Relief Society Presidency came to Taiwan and we got to go listen to them speak. It was so great! Then this week we have mission tour and will be having a zone conference with Elder Larry Wilson of the Asia Area Presidency, so that will be exciting too! And my companion and I are singing a musical number at it...pray for us!

Sorry this is kind of short, but I have pictures to make up for it!!

#1: Bobbing for apples at our English Class! The lady is Zhang JM, one of our members! It was so fun watching everyone bob for apples!

#2: Elder Sanford carving a pumpkin while the bishop's son watches on =] 
#3: Fishing for candy. That was fun =]
#4: Doughnut eating!

#5: We went up to this mountain with a recent convert that overlooks GaoXiong. It was beautiful. And there was this "LOVE" sign that of course we had to take a picture of =]
#6: So, in this apartment that I live in now, there is no dumpster or anything, so we have to take the garbage to the garbage truck when it comes every night. Unfortunately it comes at 7:30 PM, which is too early to come home but the garbage still has to be taken it tends to collect for a few weeks before we have the time to take it out. So this is 3 weeks worth of garbage. We have two boxes of recycle, 4 small bags of garbage, and one huge bag full of food from the freezer or fridge...yup. That's garbage for you in Taiwan!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week 34: 5th Move Call

Well, hello everyone!
I have made it to my 5th move-call! Today is the beginning of a new move-call (transfer). I am staying in my area, as is my companion. So no changes for us this move call! Our zone has a lot of changes though, and I'm excited to get to meet some new missionaries! This move-call lots of exciting things will happen! I will hit my half-way as a missionary mark (not halfway on island, just from when I went into the MTC) and we will also have mission tour (Elder Larry Y. Wilson will be coming to speak!) and Thanksgiving! We also have a member of the General Young Woman's presidency and General Relief Society presidency coming to GaoXiong this weekend! So lots of exciting things happening!
This past week was pretty good. We have one fantastic investigator, Liu JM, who is just rock solid! She has recently gained a fantastic testimony of prayer, which is so awesome! We are hoping she will get baptized in the next few weeks! She is really our only progressing investigator right now, but that is ok =] I hope this week we can find some more great investigators!!
This past week we had a Halloween party at English! We had fishing for candy, doughnuts on string, carving pumpkins, bowling and bobbing for apples. It was so much fun! We had a really great turn out. We watched The Restoration DVD (about Joseph Smith) and that was really good too. Yay for having a successful English party! So fun!
Next week we have mission tour and I'm super excited! My companion and I were asked to do a musical number, so I'll talk all about that next week. I don't know what we are going to do yet, but we'll do something good, I'm sure!
Well, I think that's about it. Sorry this last week wasn't too exciting. I had lots of pictures from the Halloween Party, and from a mountain that we went to recently, but this morning was kind of crazy, and when we left the house, I though I'd be coming back before we emailed, so I didn't take my camera with me. And we haven't been back home yet. So sad. But next week I will have lots of pictures!!!
Thank you everyone for your love and support! The work is going forward here in Taiwan, and I love being a part of it!!!
Love you all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week 33: Monkey's Attack!

Hello Everyone!
We had a good week here in Taiwan, complete with monkey attacks and earthquakes and sister exchanges! Where shall we start?
So last Monday I went to Monkey Mountain with a few other sisters, and it was so fun! I hadn't eaten before we left, so I took some McDonald's with me. We were walking through a few shops that lead up to the mountain and one of the sisters notices a monkey that is following us on a roof. I had two bags, one with my drink and one with my food. All of a sudden the monkey jumps down and grabs the bag with my drink! I was going to fight him for it, but decided he could have it. He takes it and jumps back up to the roof. A man throws a stick at him, but I'm like, its ok, he can have it! And then another man is like, you have to put that food in your bag or he's going to come back for it! So I hurriedly put it in my bag, and we keep on going. Later on, another sister has her water bottle under her arm, and all of a sudden, there is a monkey on her leg! He grabs her water bottle with his mouth jumps down, but he drops the bottle and runs off. We pick it up and its got a huge bite in the bottom of it. Meanwhile we are all watching this other monkey that is just sitting on a bench (see pictures) and we see him eyeing this sister...we are like, uh, he wants your water bottle. So she sets it down and he gets down but the next thing we know, he is running to her and he jumps on her, and is getting into her bag! She remembers she has a bag of pretzels, and he saw them and wanted them. He didn't get the whole bag though, and all of a sudden all these monkeys come running and we are like, throw the bag, throw the bag! She throws the bag and probably 20 or so monkeys come running and fighting with each other and we are like, oh no! What have we done!!! This lady is getting mad at us for bringing food, but then, a dog comes to our rescue! He comes and scares all the monkeys away =] So, anyway, we are all fine, and it was so fun and I want to go back and spend more time there! But next time I won't bring food with me =]
Then on Tuesday we had sister exchanges! I stayed in my area and had a wonderful sister come to my area. We had a lot of fun! While all of our lessons and back up plans fell through, we found a great mom who we hope we can start meeting with! We talked to lots of people and had a few great lessons and did some great English Powerboarding (we went to a big intersection and just started passing out English flyers to everyone).
Thursday, we went to eat dumplings for dinner and right as we were finishing, everything starts shaking. I'm like, is this an earthquake, and then it gets a little bigger! I'm like, uh, yes, this is an earthquake! I've felt a few small earthquakes, and while this really wasn't all that big, it was possibly the biggest I've ever been in! Everyone else in the restaurant was like, no big deal, because Taiwan has earthquakes all the time, but it was my first one in Taiwan! So crazy!
As for investigators, they are doing well. We are dropping two this week that aren't progressing, but we hope this will allows us to focus on those who are! We have one really great investigator, Liu JM, who is progressing really well. I love her! And we have another, Zhang JM, who is doing well as well. We hope that we can give Zhang JM a baptismal goal this week!
This week is the last week of the move call, so we will find out on Saturday if I move or if my companion moves or if we both stay, so I'll let you all know next week!
I hope everyone has a great week this week! Happy Halloween! We will be having a Halloween party in English this week, and we are hoping we can get a lot of people to come! Yay!!! We really want to start really putting a lot of effort into our English program because we know it is a great way to find investigators!!!
#1: There were a whole bunch of monkeys who were laying on the ground, and the babies were picking bugs (I'm assuming) off of them. It was so funny, because a mom monkey came and pulled one of the babies away from this mom =]

#2: This is the monkey that attacked the other sister. He was just sitting there peacefully, but then he attacked. The sister who was attacked has a picture of my monkey drinking my McDonald's drink, but I haven't been able to get it from her her...

#3: The 5 sisters who went to Monkey Mountain: Back - Sis. Smith (attacked), Sis. Watterson, Me, Front - Sis. Wainright (she was the sister who was my Dan Jones companion my first night on island, she left to go home to American this morning) and Sis. Shen (she came on sister exchanges with me!)

#4: My McDonalds bag that the monkey took. He threw it off the roof after he was done and I couldn't just leave it. You can sort of see the tears he made in the bag.
I hope everyone is doing well! Thank you all for your love and support! Time is going by fast, but I am loving being a missionary here in Taiwan!