Monday, December 23, 2013

Post-Mission Reflection

Well, I've been home 4 1/2 months. Three transfers. So crazy.

I meant to write a final letter when I came home, but, well, that obviously didn't happen =]

I just wanted to give a little post mission update, and talk a little about what it's been like being home. The last week of my mission was a blur! I don't remember much of it (thank goodness for journals!) A lot of it was spent training my dear Sis. Horton on how to be senior companion, and making sure she knew for sure how to get everywhere! The day before I went home I went up to the mission home and I had my exit interview with my mission president. Because he had only been my mission president for 5 weeks, we just talked about his plans for the mission, and man am I so sad I was leaving! He had so many great ideas and plans in place to help our mission continue to grow! I know the Taiwan Taichung mission is going to see many, many miracles under Pres. Blickenstaff! After interviews, I was free to go "play" until the afternoon, when we had another meeting. I had 3 recent converts come up from GaoXiong to see me, and I was so touched that they came all the way up! We went out to lunch (hot pot!! my favorite!) and then we went back to the church and just talked and talked. I gave them words of advice, and made them promise me they will always keep their testimonies strong. I was really trying hard to not think on the fact that I may never see these beautiful women again, these women who had changed my life, and who meant so much to me. It was really a bittersweet time with them. Oh how I love them, oh so much! I hope they know that. Right as I was about to go into our meeting, another of my recent converts who lived in that area came by to see me! I didn't get to see her for too long as I had to go to my meeting, but oh how grateful I was to get to see her! She was my first baptism, and that in and of itself means so much to me, and so I was so grateful to get to see her one last time! We then had a career workshop where we learned about how to get a job when we got back, and then it was dinner at the mission president's house. We had pulled pork sandwhiches, and they were so delicious! It was fun to get to talk to everyone who was going home. After dinner we watched a short video that was made from pictures from our missions, and then we had a testimony meeting. Lots of tears were shed, but it was so great to get to hear everyone's testimonies, and hear how they had changed on their missions. And then, it was off to our last sleep in Taiwan. How crazy that was.

We were up bright and early the next morning to leave for the airport. Because our flight left in the morning, we didn't get to go to the temple or to the Taibei 101, which was really sad for me =[ I really wanted to go do those things, but its ok, more of a reason to go back! Of course, no flight would be a "success" without some luggage trouble...So, one of my suitcases had broken, so I just bought a big plastic bag that the Taiwanese use when they travel. Both my suitcase and this bag were underweight, so I figured I'd be good to go. As the elders were loading the bags into the bus in the morning, I hear, Oh NO! I look over and the handles had broken off one of my bags. I told the elder not to worry about it, it wasn't his fault, I had tape and I'd worry about it at the airport. We get there and I'm taping the bag up, hoping and PRAYING that the bag made it in one piece back to the US. And, thankfully, it did! So we were cutting it close for our first flight...we literally ran onto the flight! I was really nervous! We flew to Japan, and in Japan, we split up. There was one group going to LA and one group going to Seattle (me). The other two sisters who I was going home with were going to LA, so I said goodbye to them in Japan, and it was just me and the elders (so weird!!). We all went to our gate together, and then some of the elders went off to find food and I watched bags. It was so weird not having a companion. So we made it to Seattle, and it was so weird to be back in the US. It almost felt like I hadn't left, yet I knew I had. All the elders were on a morning flight together back to Utah, but I was on a separate flight by myself in the afternoon to Utah. So sad. So I walked them all to their flight (because, really, I didn't want them to leave, and I didn't want to be all alone...). We got there, and the flight people were like, does anyone speak Chinese? Several of the elders went up, and there was a couple from China who needed help, and they didn't really speak English. So the elders are helping them, but they needed to get on their flight so I was like, I'll take care of them. So I walked with this Chinese couple to another area so that they could get some help with their flights. Thankfully when we got there, there was a Chinese-American family there who were able to continue helping them translate, because my airplane Chinese isn't so good =] I then proceeded to go to my gate, and I saw a girl who we had met in Japan. She lives in Utah, but isn't a member. She was just coming back from visiting family in China, and she brought her cousin with her. So I started talking with her, and we just kind of hung out until our flight. Before we left, she added me on Facebook, and this ended up leading to a cool missionary experience! (I'll talk about that in a bit!). So my flight ended up being delayed by about 2 hours, but thankfully my parents were following all that, and so they weren't sitting at the airport waiting forever!

After 18 months, I finally arrived back in Utah, into the waiting arms of my mother =] It was so fun to see my family! All my immediate family was there, as well as scores of my extended family! How grateful I am for such an incredible family! It was so marvelous to see them all. Of course there were tears, but they were good tears =] I said hello to everyone and then it was off to be released. Since my flight was delayed, we were late getting to my stake president, so we weren't able to eat beforehand. No worries. We went and within 5 minutes of seeing my stake president, I was released. I took off my nametag for the last time, and what a weird feeling that was. There was no longer a visible sign of Christ over my heart, so I'll just have to work harder now so people can still see it =] After being set apart we went to Cafe Rio! And then home. It was weird but all so good at the same time. Once home I spent time unpacking and showing pictures and telling stories. It was so fun!

And that's it. I was home and not a missionary.

So how do I feel about being home? Well, at first I loved it, I was so excited to be home with my family because it had been so long! I knew it was my time to be home, and it just felt right. I got right to shopping and buying new clothes. Two days after being home we drove out to California for my dad's side of the family family reunion. And that was soooooo much fun! I love that I got to see almost all of my extended family right after I got home. I love my extended family so much and I've grown up around all of them, so that was really great for me! 

After the family reunion, I had my homecoming, and then the following week I had a really great missionary experience. I had been keeping in contact with the girl I met in the airport, and I offered to take her and her cousin to Temple Square so her cousin could see more of Utah and learn about eh church. She had been, but she came with us, and so did a friend of mine who speaks Chinese. We took a tour and Zhang DX was given a Book of Mormon. Now, I haven't been a good missionary because I haven't followed up, so I am going to do that this week and report back =] 

Thank you all for your love and support of me while I was on my mission. It meant so much to me and I could really feel your love for me. I am so grateful for the experience I had as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for the testimony I gained and the knowledge and experience I had. I am grateful for the people I met and the way in which I was able to help them come unto Christ. Mostly, I am grateful for my savior Jesus Christ and all he did for me and for everyone. If anyone wants to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or has any questions, feel free to ask me!

So that's about it. I'll include some pictures from my last week fork you all.

I will be going back to my pre-mission blog: so come follow me there!

Me, Ramela and Sis. Horton: Ramela is from the Philippines and is in Taiwan working. She wasn't able to come to church because she works on Sundays and can't leave the grandma she takes care of alone, so we would go to the park every week and visit her.  

Zhu Di Xiong, Zhu Jie Mei and Me: I know I've told their story; they moved into the house of a former, and when we went, we met their mom and she told us to come back and meet her children. Both kids were super interested in the church, but of course, the daughter lives on the one island that doesn't have missionaries...there is still hope though! 

Another set of sister missionaries found this family for us! They live way out in the boonies, but the mom, daughter in white shirt and daughter in yellow shirt, are already Christian. They loved us coming and teaching them. The mom has MS, and her daughters take care of us. The missionaries kept visiting after I left, but finally the dad told them they couldn't come by anymore =[

 These are two darling kids of a less-active sister. The girl is baptized, but her dad doesn't want to take them to church, and the mom always works on Sunday. We would go visit often, but because it was only ever their dad there, we could never go in, so we'd just sing to them from the doorstep. Finally we got smart and started taking a recent convert with us so we could go in. These two kids are so smart and they LOVE learning about the gospel! I hope they will be able to start going to church again soon. 

Another less-active family that we regularly visited. The mom and all 4 kids are baptized, but the dad strongly opposes them going to church. We started helping the daughter with English, and through that got her to start reading and praying. It was amazing to see the change in her! She came to love the gospel, even though she wasn't ready to stand up to her dad and make the change to start coming back to church. I know she will one day though.  

This young woman was an investigator when I first got to the area. She had a baptismal date, and was supposed to get baptized, but she decided right before that she didn't want it, and she left. We didn't see her very much for the next few months, but every time we did, she said she wanted us to meet her friend. On my last Sunday (she didn't know it was my last Sunday, and she didn't know that church had changed times, she just decided to come in the morning), she brought her friend. Her friend LOVED church, and wanted to come back. Turns out, her friend didn't live in our area, so we referred her to the other sisters. 1 month later, that friend was baptized, and is now an incredibly strong member!!!! 

Zhang JM and Wang JM. Love them. Zhang JM had just married a man in our ward, and so she had just moved into the ward. Wang JM was a coming back less-active, who is now very active. It was such a blessing to be able to work with her and help her re-find her testimony. 

Qiu JM and her daughter. Qiu JM was a recent convert in the area, and she has a chicken shop where she and her husband make the most delicious chicken!! It's so good!! 

Ah, right where I belong! The girl in the back and the girl in the green on the end were visiting their grandmother in the summer from Las Vegas, and then the little boy and other little girl are in the ward. Absolutely love their families!! 

 Liu JM! A recent convert =]

A member of another ward, and our twin recent converts. They are all so awesome! 

The two Lin Xiao Jie and Lin Amah. We met them one day while riding down the street. They sit in Lin Xiao Jie's garage shelling oysters. We taught Lin Amah and her husband for a while, but they decided they didn't want to keep coming to church (their kids had convinced them that we were going to make them pay the church not true...) 

Last picture with my bike. I love and miss that thing.

Liu JM (recent convert), Lin JM (recent convert) and Zhang JM (ShiZhong sister missionaries personal assistant, haha. really she was just a ward missionary, but she was the best!). They all took a train for 3 hours to come see me my last day. I love them SO MUCH! We went out to hot pot for lunch, and then back to the church to visit.  

Tiffany. My first recent convert. I was so happy I got to see her before I left!! I love her dearly. She bought me this super cute handkerchief from Japan. 

I came home and we celebrated my birthday with my mom's side of the family. It was so wonderful to see them all!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Last One

Wow. Where has 18 months gone?!

This, is my last email to you all as a missionary. 

So what do I want to say? 

We'll start with our week. It was pretty decent. Our investigators aren't answering their phones or meeting with us, so we are going to work really hard this week to get them to meet with us!!! Last week we had Zone Conference on Wednesday and it was so great! I am sad I am leaving this mission right as we have a new mission president! He has a lot of great new ideas for the mission and how to help the work move along. A lot of it is what I have tried to do my whole mission, but now he is going to put a focus on it, so I'm sad I'm leaving now. I also got to introduce my dear new companion, and give my reflection, much like my own trainer did at my first zone conference last year. This whole week has been a week of de ja vu, as I am doing several things with my trainee, just as my trainer did with me as she was preparing to go home last year. It's all just so weird!

I'm sorry last week wasn't all that exciting. But I guess that for my last email, I just kind of want to reflect with you all on these last 18 months. 

These last 18 months have been so incredible! I am learned so much and I'd like to think I am coming home a much better person. My testimony of the Savior and His work and His Atonement for us has grown so much. I know who I am, and I know why I'm here. I know my role in Heavenly Father's plan, and I am so excited to be a part of this great work! I know that Heavenly Father loves us, and that is why He has given us all the blessings He has! I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I love reading it with all my heart! I can't wait to come home and study it even more, and really get to study the Bible along with it, and see how they are interconnected and how they both really are a record of Jesus Christ and how they help us learn so much more about him. I am so grateful Heavenly Father has given me the blessing of being a missionary and helping His children to come unto Christ. I feel like I have done my best, and I pray that Heavenly Father is pleased with my efforts. I may not have baptized a million people, but my commitment to find, teach, baptize and confirm people was what I focused on, and I made sure to focus on the one. I didn't want to let someone slip past me, and I really tried to do my best. I am so grateful for the chance that I had to study and become a master teacher. I may not have achieved the goal of becoming a master teacher, but I know I learned so much about how to teach, and I am so excited to come home and share my talents wherever they may be needed. I am grateful for the chance I had to learn more of Christ, and more importantly, learn how to emulate His example and become like He is, especially because He is the most perfect example. 

I know that this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is Christ's true church upon the earth. I know that we have a living prophet, and that having a living prophet is crucial in knowing what we need to do to return to live with our Father in Heaven. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much and that they want us to return to live with them, complete with our families, one day. I may not be a full-time missionary after next week, but I will never stop being a member missionary. I have learned on my mission how important it is to be a member missionary! We all have family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and others who have not yet had the opportunity to learn about Christ and His true church that is restored upon the earth. I never want to stop helping people come unto Christ!

To all of you out there, please do me one favor. Do all you can to help those around you come unto Christ! We have a special gift that has been given to us: the gift of the knowledge of the Restored Gospel. Share it! It is so precious! Heavenly Father gave what was most precious to Him, His only Begotten Son, to us, so that we might return to live with him! Give to those you love what is most precious to you, your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is what will help them return to our Father in Heaven! 

If you haven't yet had the opportunity to learn about Christ, or if your testimony is a little rusty, I'll be home soon. Call me, I'd love to help you, and then, if you haven't been baptized, I'll introduce you to the missionaries =] They can help!!

I love you all and am so grateful that I have had such an incredible support system while I've been on my mission. I know that not every missionary is as blessed to have such wonderful family and friends at home, and that makes me so much more grateful for all of you! I hope each and every one of you knows how much you mean to me, and how much you have shaped and influenced my life and my mission. 

I can't wait to see you all soon! Some I'll get to see sooner rather then later, but I hope to see all of you as soon as possible!!

I love you all, and remember: You are all sons and daughters of God! He lives and He loves you!

-Sis. Busath (for the last time)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Second to the Last!

Yes! This is my second to last email!!! Next week will be my last email as a missionary! 

So, please don't send me anymore paper mail or packages, as they may not reach me before I go home. 

And next Monday will be the last time I check my email till I go home, so if you want to send me anymore emails before I go home, make sure to send them before Sunday night July 28th!

So, onto this week!

We had a marvelous week full of new investigators!!!!! A total of 6!! They are all so great and we are so excited to be able to help them learn more about Jesus Christ and help them to prepare to be baptized!!!

So, lets talk about our new investigators! I talked a little about our new family that we met last Sunday! Well, they came to English! And the kids really enjoyed it! We weren't able to see them again last night, but we hope in the next night or two we will. Then on Monday night we met Wu JM. She is a sweet lady who just wants to help everyone out and help her family to become better (she has 5 kids!). Then on Tuesday we met Chen JM. She is a deep thinker and has lots of interesting ideas and experiences, but she is willing to do our invitations, and as long as she sincerely wants an answer, she will receive one! Then on Wednesday we met with an investigator, Zhu JM, and her brother was there too! He is so awesome!!! He has a little background in Christianity, but doesn't really believe that God exists. But, he is willing to try reading and praying to know if God really exists, and that is the best way to start. Wednesday we also met Xie JM. We aren't sure if she is really interested, but she set up another meeting with us for this week, so we hope we can help her see that the gospel blesses us even when our lives are going well. Then on Saturday we met Huang JM and her mom. Her mom has Parkinson's Disease and isn't able to move without help, and can't really talk much anymore, but boy can she smile! It was really, really neat to go visit their family. Huang JM, her mom and her youngest sister are already Christian, and they became Christian when her mom got sick. They have great family relationships and you can tell Huang JM loves her mom so much. We are really excited to teach them, especially the Plan of Salvation and how we will all be resurrected and have perfect bodies!! I know that when they hear this, it will resonate within them and they will know it is true!

So that is the run-down on our new investigators!!! We are excited to get them all meeting ward members this week and getting them baptismal goals so my companion and her next companion can baptize them all next move-call!!!

We also had interviews this week! We finally got to meet our new mission president! He is so wonderful and is going to do great things for the mission! We are also having a mini zone conference this week! I am so excited!! I'll be giving my reflection! AHHH!!! My mission is really coming to a close!!!

We also had exchanges last week and I got to go with my dear friend Sis. Jarvis again! We had so much fun and I just love serving with her!!

Then on Saturday night we had a huge Pioneer Day activity! Sis. Jarvis and Belnap had it all planned out and it was for the 3 wards in our building. It was a huge turn out! We had 5 stations that they rotated through (dress up pictures, banana leaf dolls (since we couldn't find corn husks), pioneer games, scone making and dancing). Then they watched a little of Legacy and ate peach cobbler and ice cream and the scones!! It was so much fun!! Everyone really loved it!!!

Well, that was about it for our week! I know this week is going to be so good and go by so fast! I don't know if time goes so fast for all you at home, but its just flying by for me!!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!! Look for my LAST EMAIL next week!!!!!

Love you!

1: My companion and I dressed up at Pioneers for the activity!
2: Our district! Elder Ferrell is moving to GaoXiong to be zone leader, so Elder Lathen needed a new companion, so they got him a duan chuan! And the crazy thing is, he was from my first area, Bei Qu! And I was at his baptism last August!! He is such an incredible young man and is going to have a fantastic time being a missionary for 2 weeks. I hope it inspires him to go on his mission earlier =]

It's Coming!

Time! It's coming! Too fast!!

This week has gone by so incredibly fast, abeit it being a slow teaching week. 

We started the week off with no investigators, and we ended it with 2, but we have 9 new people set up for this week!! We are so excited!!! I have accepted the fact that I will not be baptizing anyone in this area, or with my trainee, but I do not want to leave this area with no investigators for her and her next trainer. So we are both working really, really hard to find people to teach and give baptismal goals to, so that when I leave and her next companion comes, they will have a million baptisms all lined up!!!!

We did find this incredibly great family! This week we have been calling through former investigators, and we found this mom who was willing to let us come by. We went to visit her last night, and their family is so great!! There are 3 kids and two parents. Their oldest daughter is 9 and she is full of so many great questions! She just wanted to know everything, it was so cool!! I am so excited! And they are coming to English on Wednesday!!!

Last Monday my companion and I went to a place called Ba Gua Shan (Eight -something- mountain, I don't know what Gua means). It was fun! We can see it from our apartment. It has a big Budda on top. So we walked our bikes to the top (because the road was WAY too steep to bike) and took some pictures and such and then went home! So fun! Today we are staying home, writing letters, sleeping and eating and...PACKING. I'm getting a head start. I'm trying to go home with only one suitcase and my carry on, so I need to start getting rid of stuff =]]]] Next week we are going to TaiZhong so I can go out to lunch with one of my recent converts (who came to see me yesterday! I love her!) and then my last preparation day we will go to LuGang for the last time! I can't believe I only have 2 more preparation days!

OH! I can't believe I forgot this! We had a typhoon!!!! Everyone was saying how big it was going to be, but I didn't believe them because they always say it will be big, but it never is (or it just never comes). Well, it definitely didn't come on Friday like everyone said, though it was super windy. But sure enough, it came in the middle of the night and lasted till about 2:30 PM on Saturday. Thankfully we have studies/lunch till 12:30 (because my companion is being trained) but then we had to go out. So we visited a few people then went to the church to practice calling people. Then Saturday night our ward had an "Easy Show" aka Talent Show. And it was SO GOOD!!! Oh man, I haven't had so much fun or laughed so much in a long time!!! It was great. 

Last Thursday we also had a less-active sister come to the church to do family history!!! We have been trying and trying to get her to come to church, but she didn't want to. But then she came to do family history! We are so excited and can't wait to get her reactivated through family history. I have come to love family history so much on my mission! I can't wait to go home and do it!!!!

Well, that is about it! I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Thank you for all your love and support!!!

Love you! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Countdown Is On!

Ok, it is, but I'm trying not to think about it =] But now that you all know when I come home, I'm trying to not think about it too much. But for anyone who's's less than a month!

We've had an ok week here in Zhang Hua. The work is moving quite slowly here, not just for us, but for the elders as well (makes me feel a little better). We talked to way more people this week than we did the week before, but our lessons were still down, and we didn't find any new investigators this past week. But we were able to set up 3 or 4 new investigators for this week, so we are hoping they will turn into progressing investigators!!

The three progressing investigators we do have are doing alright. We met with our older lady this week, who has a hard time hearing, and we convinced her to come to church! We confirmed her on Saturday by going to her house, but then she didn't come to church =[ I was really sad. I was so excited and I knew that having her come to church was going to help her out a lot and even though she might not be able to hear the message really well, she could still feel the spirit. I hope we can get her to come this week. 

We weren't able to see our mom and daughter this week though. Because we only go to LuGang once a week, if they are busy that day, we don't have another day to go out there, so we are trying to find members who could go with us and meet her, and also have a car so they can drive us out there. Hopefully we will be able to see them twice this week!

This week youth from our stake have been going on mini-missions for the week. We didn't have one with us because my companion is being trained right now, but we did have one for a day while her companions were at a meeting. It was so fun to have her come with us. She is such a hard worker. Then that night, we had another young woman (who hadn't gone and done the mini-mission) come with us to visit a less-active young woman that we have been visiting for a while now. We were introducing her to Personal Progress, and it was so great to have the active young woman there and sharing her experiences with doing personal progress! It was just really neat. And even cooler was that it was raining and the young woman still went with us and biked in the rain!!

My companion is so great! She is progressing and learning so fast! New missionaries complete what is called "Phase 1" which is a language study program. Missionaries are to set a goal for when the want to finish it (there are 7 evaluations, one for the missionary lessons 1-5 and then a mid-evaluation and a final evaluation). My companion's goal is one move-call. I also finished it in one move-call, but I had language experience when I got here, and so it wasn't really too hard for me. When she set that goal, I knew she could do it. It is proving to be more difficult because she didn't have the language skills before hand, but she is doing so amazing! She is still on track to finish it by the end of the move-call! She is always studying and always doing her best to learn as much as she can! This week she was working on teaching the Plan of Salvation and we spent time going over it together and then teaching it to one of our recent converts. She did so good! I'm so proud of her and the hard work she is putting in. 

Sunday our ward moved to 9 AM. Our ward is really big, geographically, and the church building isn't even in our ward, which makes it even further. I was really nervous that no one would be at church on time, or come at all. But, we had 97 people at sacrament meeting!!!! That was the highest we've had since last November!!! We normally average between 68-78, so I was so proud of our ward. We really have a great ward with fantastic members, and I do love serving with them!!

I can't really think of too much else. You all will only be getting 3 more emails after this, and that is just too crazy to think! I'm getting excited to see everyone, but I'm really trying to savor these last few weeks before they are gone forever. 

Being a missionary has been a really neat experience. It hasn't been the easiest thing, but it has been worth every hardship, and I have grown so much. I keep wondering if I've really changed, but lately I've been going back through my mission journals and reading about where I was a year ago, and it's been really great to see how I have changed. My testimony of the gospel has grown so much. My faith in the Savior has grown so much. I know that this is His gospel, and that this is His work that I am doing. I am so grateful He has trusted me with His work, and I hope that I can continue to do what He wants me to do till the end. 

Thank you all for your love and support! I am so excited to see you all again in a few short weeks!!

Lots of love!!! Enjoy the double rainbow we saw out our window last night!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Well, I Guess I Should Tell You...

But maybe I won't =] You'll just have to wait and find out what I may or may not tell you =]]]]]]]

I love secrets!

So this week has been really great! It's been a week of adjustment and learning and growing and finding and fun!

My new companion, Sister Horton, is so wonderful! I love her! She is such a hard worker and she is trying so hard to learn everything she needs to know. Especially because she'll be senior companion in a few weeks. We've been doing lots of training and working on her Chinese. She's never had Chinese before and so for only being in the MTC for 2 months and being in Taiwan for a week, her Chinese is really coming along. I've already seen so much improvement in 10 days! She is so great! We've been working a lot on contacting on the road and as well as teaching. Teaching skills are so important! Of course the language is really important too, and you need to be proficient at it in order to teach, but you also need skills to teach, so we've been working on that as well!

We've had some great lessons this week and have been working on finding new investigators! We did find some last week, so this week we are going to work on finding more and getting the ones we have to progress. We also met with our miracle mom and daughter that we found while looking for less-actives. They are so great! The mom really wants to be baptized, but we are worried that her husband might not agree. She also lives really far away and can't ride a scooter for that long with 4 kids. So we are working to get members to help her come to church. She is also worried about bringing her two youngest (3 year old twin boys) to church because she thinks she might go crazy =] But church is so important so we are hoping we can help them to church this coming Sunday so they can get baptized on my last Saturday, August 3rd! We can do it!

We also have a new mission president in our mission, President Blickenstaff! President Bishop left on Saturday. It is weird, since Pres. Blickenstaff will only be my mission president for a month, but I'm excited and I hope I can get to know him just a little before I leave!

We've been having some great lessons with less-active members which has been really great. We have some really awesome less-actives who we just need to help them remember their testimonies and the feelings they get from church to help them get to church! I hope we can help a few of them come back this month!

Not much else is going on! Just lots of training and practicing and preparing my companion to be senior companion! (Not for reals, her new companion will be the senior companion and her trainer, but she knows the area...or she will =] ) It's been fun and I'm trying not to stress my dear companion out. Our birthday's are right next to each other (mine is August 1 {hint hint} and her's isAugust 6), so we are looking forward to birthday week! Though I'm going to need to spoil her good to make up for the fact that I leave to come home on her birthday!!! Oh man, I'm such a lousy trainer! Who would go home on their trainee's birthday!? Only me =] 

Well, I hope you are all doing well! I am loving every last moment of my mission and doing my best to stay focused on the work of the Lord!! Thank you all for your love and support over these last 16 months! I love each and every one of you and am so grateful the Lord has put you in my life!!

So since I'm coming home on August 6th, that means all letters/packages/whatnot, will need to be sent from the US no later than July 17th to be safe. (This is not a call for letters or birthday packages, please don't think I am soliciting packages. But if you had already planned on sending me a letter or something, I just don't want it to get here after I leave =] )

Oh, did you all just catch that? That is my surprise!

I'm coming home on August 6th! I've known this for a long time, but we were going to keep it a secret so I could just show up at my family reunion, but I just decided I can't hold it in any longer =] 

Horray! Love you all!!! 


Sister Horton and I


Well, if you know what I'm talking about, you know that means, I'M TRAINING!\

Yup. I didn't think it would happen once I went Sister Training Leader. But, well, it did. 

Her name is Sis. Horton and she is from Tucson, AZ. She is super great! Our birthdays are just days apart, so we are going to have so much fun celebrating together! She is an incredibly hard worker! Just a little story: our first red light on our bikes, I told her, "Ok, we can contact these people together." I pulled up along side a lady and started to talk to her, and then I looked to my side to see my companion, and she was off contacting someone by herself! I was so proud of her!!! Off on her own her first day. And she hasn't stopped! She is so awesome and I know we are going to see so many miracles together! I can't wait!!!!

That was the biggest thing that happened this week. 

Last Monday the other ZhangHua sisters went with us to LuGang, again! This time a member drove us to the beach as well! It was nothing like the beach in GaoXiong, but it was still fun to just be at the water's edge. We didn't go in because it was not very clean water, but it was still lots of fun! And we went to see this little road, that is literally no wider than a body! (see picture). 

Our investigators are doing ok. None of them came to church on Sunday so none of them have baptismal goals now. But we have one investigator, Yi JM, who is so great! She has been reading and praying and she really understands what she is reading and is really developing her testimony! I love meeting with her! And she makes us amazing dumplings! But I told her she couldn't feed us next time because I don't want her to think that is why we come visit her (and I don't want to get fat!!! she gives us so much food!!!) She is so great! She is really hard of hearing, so it's super funny to talk to her because she can't hear =]

Well, I know this is a short email, but that is about all that has happened this week. The biggest thing is that I'm training! I'm so excited to see miracles with my dear sweet new companion! We are going to have so much fun and see so many miracles! She has such strong faith and I am loving all the time that we have to study together. So wonderful! 

Anyway. I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support!!

Yay For June

Hello Everyone!!!!
What a great week!! The greatest thing being: my brother is going on a mission to the Indiana Indianapolis Mission, English Speaking!!! I am so excited and so proud of him! Thankfully he leaves after I come back so I can see him for a short period of time =] And the crazy thing: my cousin is going to the same mission, Spanish speaking. The two of them are great buddies and are so excited to be serving in the same mission!!!

Now, as for my mission, we've had an incredible week this week!!! Our investigators, Liao JM and Zheng DX are doing so well! We've seen them twice this week and they are both reading and praying! We taught them about the Sabbath on Saturday and they both currently work on Sunday, but are willing to try and do all they can to keep the Sabbath Day holy! We are so excited for their progression! Liao JM is a bit shy, but we are working on getting her to open up. I really, really love meeting with them! It's so fun!

Our other investigator, Yang JM, who was a former investigator, is also doing well. We are helping her to see the importance of the Book of Mormon, and how through her actions (reading, praying and coming to church) she can and will gain a testimony that God lives and guides her life. She is also hardcore studying Buddhism right now, and she is having a hard time separating the two things, so that is making things a bit difficult. But no worries, I came up with the perfect example (thanks to the help of the spirit) and we will share that with her next time we meet with her! I'll let you know how it goes. 

So they are our current progressing, baptismal date investigators. But we also found several other new investigators this week!!

The first was a pure, beautiful miracle!! Our mission has this new project, called the "Map Project". A companionship of elders took all the ward lists in the mission and made maps with dots plotted for every member on the list, organized them all and put them in binders for every companionship. These maps serve several purposes: finding really difficult addresses, seeing what members live where, so if we are in the area we can visit them or have them help us peike, and, the best one, find new investigators!! We have had success using the maps for the first two purposes, but we had yet to find any new investigators from the maps, nor had we really seen any big miracles. On Thursday we were in LuGang and our evening appointments cancelled, so we were able to stay in LuGang a bit longer. There was a name on the list we didn't know, nor did we know their current situation, so we decided to go visit the sister. We get there and she wasn't home, but her sister-in-law and her sister-in-law's 4 kids were there. One of the daughters wanted us to come in (she's 7) so the mom invited us in. We started talking with them and just sharing about what we do as missionaries. We then started sharing about how this gospel has blessed our families, and she was just eating it up!!! She was loving everything! Us ourselves didn't mention anything about baptism, but she said, if she is to be baptized her mother-in-law will probably oppose (this is a huge problem in Taiwan). We asked if we could come back and she said of course! Then, as we were leaving, she said, you won't forget us will you?! Of course not!!! So we are so thrilled for this wonderful miracle. And even better, her oldest daughter is 10, and was so interested in prayer as well! They were both willing to pray and they really want to come to English this week!! So excited!!

We also found another new investigator this week as we were tracting. Yi JM is an older woman who is married with two kids, but has gone through a rough time lately. Her mom passed away a year ago and she is feeling the pain of that still. And she is partially deaf, so it's difficult to be able to talk to her (though she can speak just fine). So we are excited to be able to share with her the Plan of Salvation and help her know where mom is, and that she can see her again! The Plan of Salvation is such a wonderful thing!

Well, I think that is about it! We've really had a fantastic week this week! We are continuing to be diligent and work hard, and we are feeling the blessings. I am so excited to see where these investigators can go!!!

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

Have a wonderful week!

Really, It's Not Happening

Really, I'm still not counting =] Well, maybe I am, but I'm not advertising it =]

We had a good week here in Taiwan! We'll start with last Monday!

Last Monday we went with the other ZhangHua sisters to LuGang, a town in our area. It was SO MUCH FUN! We went tourist shopping, took lots of pictures, ate yummy food and saw lots of old buildings! It was so much fun that we are going back next Monday! We were going to go today but its raining and we are really tired =] So next Monday it is! 

Tuesday we had zone training meeting. I love getting together with our whole zone. Its so fun! We have a fantastic zone with fantastic zone leaders who really care about us and our investigators, and really want to help us do our best! We talked about how to extend baptismal goals in a comfortable, non-threatening way, and it was a really good training!

Wednesday we had a bonus zone conference! Our mission president and his wife go home at the end of the month, so this was the last meeting that we had with them. It was so fun to hear all the reflections of the elders and sisters who are going home. We have SO MANY leaving at the end of this move-call. It will be sad to see a lot of my mission friends leaving. Most of the elders I've served around all leave this move-call or next. It will be weird. It was also so great to get to see our mission president and his wife one last time. They performed a great song about Taiwan to the tune of "This land is my land" and we all thoroughly loved it. And then of course it was so great to hear his testimony and to feel of his love for Taiwan and the people here, as well as his love for us and the work. He has been a wonderful mission president, and I have learned so much from him. 

Thursday we went back to LuGang, but this time for proselyting =] Sadly, most of our lessons cancelled, but we still had a few great lessons, and we got one new investigator!

Friday we went on exchanges! I got to stay in my area and a brand new sister came with me. She's been out 1 month and is a rockstar! Funny story about her. She has long, beautiful blond hair. When she was getting ready to come on her mission, she was talking with her mom about how she didn't know how she could wear her hair in a bun on the top of her head and wear a helmet. Her mom said, well, you just need to have a hole in your helmet for your hair. So they went and bought a skater helmet, cut a hole in the top, and now she can wear her hair in a bun on the top of her head and wear her helmet, and her hair just sticks right out =] It is a great conversation starter!

Saturday we went and visited our new investigators, Liao JM and Zhen DX. They are boyfriend/girlfriend, and are really great! They both accepted baptismal goals for July 13th!!!! We are so excited!! They both currently work on Sunday, but I know that as we teach them the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy, and as their testimonies grow, they will be willing to keep it. They were both excited to read the Book of Mormon this week, so we are super excited for them!!!

And then Sunday, the best day this week!!! So many great things happened!! 3 of our recent converts came to church, which was more than we've had come to church in a while! We had two less-actives at church, who came for 3 hours! One has been up in Taibei for the last 6 weeks, so we haven't seen her since then. I was sitting in the chapel, waiting for church to start when I see her 10 year old son in front of me. I was like, what are you doing here, and then it clicked that if he was here, so was his mom!! I turned around and there she was! I was so excited to see her!! She has made so much progress in the 4+ months that missionaries have been helping her come back. Sadly she told us she is moving up to Taibei permanently on Thursday, but we are going to get her in touch with the missionaries up there so that they can keep helping her progress. But the greatest thing that happened is that my recent convert, Liu JM, came to visit me from GaoXiong! Well, she went up to Taibei on Saturday to go to the temple to do baptisms for the first time, and then on her way home on Sunday she stopped in ZhangHua to visit me. I love her so much! It was so fun to catch up with her and to see the progress she has made in the gospel. She is going to go on a short term mission for a week in July and I am so excited for her! She is hoping this will help her decide if she wants to go on a full-time mission! Recent converts are just the best!!

So that is about it for our week! It's been good! We are still working hard to find new, solid investigators who want to be baptized. We haven't found them yet, but we know we can find them!

I hope you are all having a great week! I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

We Aren't Counting Anymore...

Well, I decided we aren't counting how many weeks I've been on my mission anymore =] It's already going too fast that we don't need to keep track anymore. Let's just let it last forever ok =] 

We've had a good week here in ZhangHua! Nothing too exciting. Missionary work is going really slow in our zone right now. We are all searching really hard for those prepared souls. The elders in our ward have had them dropped into their laps. I'm so jealous. It's the power of member referrals. Both of the men they are working with are member referrals. Sigh. We have all been discussing a lot recently about how to improve relationships with our ward members and how we can gain their trust and share their friends and family members with us so that we have investigators dropping into our laps too =] 

On Tuesday we did exchanges with some sisters. I got to go with a sister who has only been on island for 3 weeks. I've never been with such a new sister! It was so fun! It made me a little sad that I won't get to train, but I really love being sister training leader and getting to know more sisters and be able to help them out. But it was really fun being with this sister for a day. Her Chinese is wicked crazy good! And before going into the MTC she had never heard Chinese being spoken before! The Chinese-speaking missionaries are only in the MTC for 2 months now because there are so many of them, but it is incredible to see how the Lord has blessed them with language skills. It is just a huge testament to me that this is the Lord's work, and He won't let His missionaries fail. 

We also had mission leadership council this week, which was super great. It was our mission president's last, which was really sad. He is such an incredible man, and I am so grateful I've been able to serve under him. We talked about our new mission president coming, and we are all excited, but it will be weird, especially since I will only serve with him for a short period of time. But it will be good! It was really cool to be is such a small setting with our mission president and to hear his testimony and to feel his love for the Savior and for missionary work. Such a great experience. 

We had a great, new investigator this week! She is 17, but because of a huge test that she has in July, her parents won't let her meet with us till it's over =[ We are so sad because she was so great! She was sad that she can't meet with us right now because she loves the feeling she gets when she is with us, so we invited her to share this with her parents. I hope she does and I hope they will change their mind and let her meet with us now! 

I also forgot to tell you all about how we lived without water for 32 hours...Last Sunday as we were leaving for church, we saw a handwritten note in the elevator about how the water was going to be turned off from the day before till the next night. Well, we knew we had water that morning, and the last time they said the water was going to be turned off, it wasn't, so we just kind of ignored it (plus it was time to start proselyting, and it was Sunday). Then that night while we were out we saw everyone talking about how there was no water...uh we went home and sure enough, no all. Well, that's ok, as far as drinking water, because we are prepared missionaries who have 72 hours worth of water. But, we had no water stored up for showers or washing dishes or we took a huge bucket and went and bought water from a water pump so we had some. ThenMonday we didn't have any water, but by that night we did =] Yay!

And then we had another earthquake yesterday, but not nearly as crazy as the last one. It was still big, and it lasted much longer, but we are still just fine =] 


1: Sis. Jarvis and Sis. Schultz - the other sisters in ZhangHua. We went to Taizhong with them last week to eat Coldstone ice cream and go shopping!

2: My companion and I and our crazy yummy ice cream!

3: Back in my first area - BeiQu - gone shopping on Yi Zhong Jie! So fun!
Hope you all have a great week!!!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Week 61: AWESOME!

Hello Dearest Family and Friends! 

How are you!?

We have had a great few days here in Zhang Hua. This will probably be a short email because not too much has happened. 

So Wednesday after emailing, my recent convert, Xu JM, from GaoXiong came to find me!! I have to tell you her story. Back in February we had a power week in the mission. One of the days was to have 4 ma shang sitdowns (like, roadside sitdown lessons) and invite them all to be baptized and accept the goal. So we started our day off beautifully by finding a wonderful girl who we had a lesson with, and then she accepted a goal! Sadly, she didn't live in our area. So then we keep working super hard all day, with no success. Finally about 4 PM we were riding our bikes somewhere and this girl on a bike pulled up next to my companion at a stop light. My companion started talking to her and told her we had a message that we wanted to share with her. She said, OK! So we pulled off to the side right then and had a great first lesson with her. I could tell right away that she might have some learning disabilities, so I wasn't sure how far she'd go. Well, she was super interested in learning and had such a strong desire to really understand. She isn't good with directions and lives about a 30 minute bike ride from the church, so we taught her how to get to the church by riding with her. We then met with her almost every day, teaching her a little at a time. I really didn't have much faith in her though. And then I moved in March, but she had a goal to be baptized in April. Come the end of April, I hear that my dear Xu JM got baptized!!!!! I was so, so excited for her!!! And then on Wednesday she just decided she was going to come from GaoXiong to find me in Zhang Hua because she missed me and wanted to tell me in person that she had gotten baptized. It was so incredible to see the change in her. Her confidence has grown, she loves the Savior, she truly understands what it means to repent and change and become better, all of it was just so incredible. I was so touched and was so grateful for this small blessing of being able to see her, and see how the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed her life. 

Another of my investigators from GaoXiong also got baptized in May! My companion met Lin JM on the road and invited her to church. She got her information and then that Saturday called her to see if she wanted to come to church. She did want to, and she did come! And then she came to Stake Conference with us! There was about 3 weeks we weren't able to see her during Chinese New Year because of work, so I was worried she wouldn't hang on, but she did! She was so willing to do all our invitations and was really learning and growing. Right before I moved, she got sick, and the elders gave her a blessing, which was really cool. So I moved, and then I hear that she had a heart attack, right after I moved. I was devestated!! She was in the hospital for a month, but the sisters continued to visit her often and the elders went and gave her blessings. And then on May 4th, she was baptized! 

It is such an incredible thing to hear that people you teach get baptized! I taught both of these sisters for a month while I was in GaoXiong and I am so excited that the sisters there didn't give up on either one of them, and now they both have followed their Savior in being baptized. This is why I love being a missionary! I love seeing people's lives be changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Ok, I got a little sidetracked, but I wanted to share those with you =]

So then Wednesday night we had English!

Thursday was good. We went to LuGang and had a lesson with our new investigator, Pan JM. She is super awesome! We are hoping we can help her make some friends in the ward, since she doesn't really know anyone here (she is originally from down south). We are hoping this week we can give her a baptismal goal!

Friday was exchanges! I went with my dear friend Sis. Romanello. We had a great time. We had two awesome lessons with two of their awesome investigators. It was so fun to be able to teach with her! And then we went to Costco with the Relief Society president to buy cheese for an activity they were doing the next day. 

Saturday was the cheese activity! I think I ate more cheese that morning than I have my whole mission! But it was so fun teaching the sisters there how to eat cheese, what to eat it with, etc. I love when we can share some of our knowledge with the ward members. Saturday afternoon we had a great lesson with our recent convert about individual worth. It was exactly what she needed to hear. 

Sunday was good, but we didn't have anyone at investigators, recent converts or less-actives. Not sure what happened, but we were a little sad. Sunday night though we had a good lesson with one of our families, though sadly the mom just wants us to come teach her kids now, so that we can influence them, so that when they are older, if they want to go to church, they we are going to try and meet with just her alone and see if we can help her see how this will help her whole family now. 

And now we are back at Monday. We are staying at home today. We are supposed to have a 4 day thunderstorm starting soon. This morning was so beautiful (see picture) and then when we left the clouds had rolled in (see picture). We have lots of organizing to do at home and lots of letters to write and naps to take =] 

Well, I hope you are all doing well! I love you all and am so grateful for your love and prayers and support!!

Have a great week!!!