Well, I have been a missionary for 7 months now! And I will hit my 5 months on island mark this week! So crazy! Time is going so fast! The month is already half over, as is the transfer. I've been in GaoXiong 3 full weeks now, and its gone by so fast! I feel like I am slowly but surely learning the area and the members. I have met all our investigators and almost all of our recent converts. Things are well with my companion and I and we are having a good time. We watched conference this past weekend and it was incredible! I love conference! I'll talk about that a bit more in a little bit.
So I've felt like my emails have been a bit lame recently, and so I took better notes this week about what I could share, at least things like funny stories or cultural things I've noticed, and things I've learned.
So we'll start with last Monday. We went to another area, ZuoYing, to see one of my companions former investigators mom. We went and emailed there, then went to the mall to walk around. Then we met up with Chen Mama for lunch. We had Subway and Chinese bian dang (you just pick a whole bunch of dishes and eat them together with some rice). It was so good! Then we went and were given facials, which was the whole reason we had come. We went to some clinic place and got facials. It was so weird, but it was something fun. She wanted us to come back again so we are going back next Monday to have them again. Ok =] Then we went back to the mall to go to the grocery store. And I found Goldfish and Diet Coke! I was so happy! They don't have Diet Coke in Taiwan, only regular and zero, so I've had to come to like regular coke. I was so happy to find my treats =] That night, we met with our investigator, Chen JM, who previously consistently said she didn't want to read or pray because it was a waste of time. But, something changed and she all of a sudden wants to read and pray. She still doesn't understand what she reads often, but she has read and prayed every day this week. Yay! So it was a fun Monday!
On Thursday we were visiting with a less-active we've been working with. She wants to start coming back to church so she can go to the temple again. Her whole family is baptized, but they are all less-active. She came to church last Sunday, but ended up becoming a bit offended. We visited with her this week and she shared with us what she was feeling, and the bottom line is she doesn't want to go to the temple anymore and she thinks other churches are fine because they have God as well. We tried to talk to her about why this church was the true church and the things that she won't find in other churches. Something that also came to light is that she has her priorities out of order. As I was thinking about this, I came to realize that I want to make sure that when I go home from my mission, I keep my priorities in order, namely, God remains the most important thing in my life. Seeing what this sister is going through really helped me to open my eyes and realize how important it is to prioritize correctly in our lives.
Saturday and Sunday were conference! Our investigator, Chen JM came on Saturday for both sessions. Since my companion is Taiwanese, she wanted to watch conference in Chinese, so the only way I'd be able to watch it in English was if another sister went with me. I didn't hold out too much hope to be able to watch it in English, and that would be fine because I'd be able to read them next month, but then a sister wanted to go watch it in English! So I got to watch Saturday morning session in English, but she didn't stay for Saturday afternoon, so I watched it in Chinese. That was interesting. I was still able to hear a bit of English and read lips on some of the talks, so I got some things out of it. And then the sister came back for Sunday sessions, so I was blessed to be able to watch all of Sunday sessions in English! I was so grateful! On Sunday we had 3 investigators attend conference! One is our rockstar investigator. Super cool story that made me love being a missionary: She was telling me about how before coming she was super nervous and had a lot of anxiety because she had never been to church before. She had forgotten some important things at home and was stressing over that, but then she got to the church, and she said as soon as she walked in, she felt peace. All her worries and anxieties left her and she was at peace. I explained how that was the spirit, and she loved it! It was so great to see her feel the spirit so strong and affect her so much. I'll share my favorite parts of conference at the end.
So I have two cultural things for you all today:
1. Fireworks. I don't know why, but recently (like the last 2 weeks) they have been constantly doing fireworks. I guess the miao's (temples) have birthdays or something, and so they do fireworks. During the day. Specifically, at 7 AM. While we aren't sleeping at 7 AM, it still isn't pleasant to hear them that early. I also can't figure out why they do them during the day, since you can't see them =] But, we are constantly hearing fireworks all through out the day =]
2. A story about picking grapes: I had forgotten this story =] Last week when we went to Costco, one sister wanted grapes. And she proceeded to spend the next 20-30 minutes picking a bunch of grapes =] I love her, and it was just so funny how long it took for her to pick grapes =] The attitude of the people in GaoXiong is very relaxed; they take their time on things =] It's so great!
As far as investigators, we didn't find any new investigators this week, but one of our investigators accepted a baptismal date for November 17! Yay! We are so excited! She is super great. We were sad she wasn't able to attend conference, but that's ok =]
This week we have zone conference! I'm so excited to see some friends and to learn lots! I'll tell all about it next week!
So since I don't have pictures today (sorry, I didn't take any this week...), I'll share a bit about my favorite talks from conference. I think my favorite overall talk was President Dieter F. Uchdorft's talk on Saturday morning. He talked a lot about being happy and making sure we are spending time with those we love. He said one thing in particular that really hit me: Enjoy the moment. Time is not something we can buy back, or go back and redo. My time as a missionary is going so fast, and before I know it, I will be home and back in school and work and what not, and my mission will be a thing of the past. What I also realized though is that I'm not appreciating my mission as much as I should. Every day I write in my planner why I loved being a missionary that day, but sometimes they are lame reasons. I want to look for great things in my day every day. So that's why I loved that talk. I also really loved Russel T Osguthrope's talk. He talked a lot about how to teach, and as a missionary, that is an important thing for me to know how to do =] I am so excited to go back and read his talk and discover how to become a better teacher and a better missionary!
So yeah! Conference! I love it! What were your favorite talks and why? (this goes for my family and friends =] ) I'd love to hear what you all have to say! Feel free to write me or email my mom and she'd love to pass on a message to me =] I am sad conference is over, but grateful we have 6 months to study the messages and then have conference again in 6 months! I only have 3 conferences on my mission and I've already had two of them! Ah! Time is fleeting away!
Ok, this is probably long enough =] I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support and prayers! I feel them daily and it is a great comfort to know I am loved by so many people.
I love you all!