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!!! 

Week 62: Sick

Hello Everyone!

Well, this week really wasn't too exciting. I was sick all week and didn't have much energy to do much. But we still got out there and worked. We talked to a lot of people this week, but most of our investigators, actually, all but one, cancelled their appointments this week, which was a huge bummer. 

One great thing this week? The 4 day thunderstorm we were supposed to have pretty much skipped us. It was cloudy and had several bursts of crazy rain, but no continuous rain, for which I am so grateful for. I love tender mercies of the Lord. If it had been pouring rain and I'd have been sick, I wouldn't have wanted to go out. The Lord knows me too well =]

On Tuesday we had interviews and planner/area book checks, which is always fun. Our mission has been working on a new project, which is maps for each ward, with every member on the ward list pinpointed (using Google). So we got those this week and we are loving it! It helps us to see where people live, and if we plan to go to an area, we can look at the map to see who lives there so we can have better back up plans (ie: we can have names of people to visit and not just put Less-Active). So we did use that a bit this week and we really love it. It also helps for some of the crazy addresses that we can't find on regular maps. 

I'm really sorry this is such a boring email. I promise this week will be better and next week I will have miracle stories!!! 

Lots of love.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Week 60: OH MY GOSH!!

Wow. How did I get to week 60! Time is flying! I am loving life!

We've had a great last 10 days!! I don't even know where to start! 

Last Monday we went to my companion's last area, Yuan Lin, and we went out to eat with the sisters there and a recent convert. We went to eat all you can eat hot pot and BBQ. It was SOOOO GOOD! SO good! But I was soooo tired. I fell asleep while we were eating. But the food was so good!

Then Tuesday we had exchanges. I stayed in my area and my companion went to Tainan to play. But it's ok because I got to go to Tainan on Friday/Saturday. And it was so beautiful!!! I decided Heavenly Father was torchering me. It was so beautiful, the weather was perfect, ah, I fell in love in the first 5 minutes. But it was super fun! I love going on exchanges! I love all the sister that we are able to serve! It is so fun to get to meet them and serve them and learn together with them!

Wednesday was super fun because we had our English Mexican Party! The mom that we met two weeks ago at Mission Leadership Council, who lives in our area, brought her daughter! And I made salsa!! It was so yummy! But so painful to make! I made it on Tuesday night and as soon as I finished making it, I realized my fingers on my left hand were burning. And then I thought, oh no, I didn't wear gloves while I was cutting up the chili peppers! And so my fingers burned for many, many hours. I didn't go to sleep till almost 1 AM. And then when I woke up, they were burning again. But they eventually stopped. I tried so many things to get them to stop burning, but the only thing that was working was sticking them in the freezer or in a frozen bag of edemame...neither of which were very conducive for sleeping. But, its ok because the salsa was a huge hit and was so yummy!

Friday morning we went to LuGang and met with our mom who came to English class! She was very willing to pray and read the Book of Mormon. She seems to be doing really well and we are so excited! We will invite her to be baptized this week!

Then on Sunday it was Mother's Day! As excited as my companion and I were to talk to our families on Mother's Day, we weren't really excited for it. Why? Because no one wanted to come to church because of it! BUT THEN! We had a miracle!! We met this lady on the road a few weeks ago and she said she'd bring her two daughters to church that Sunday, but then at the last minute wasn't able to come. And then she didn't come to church two Sunday's ago, and wasn't really answering her phone. So we thought, oh well. But then she texted us on Sunday morning and asked us for the address of the church! She said she was on the road and was coming to church! She brought her 2 and 5 year old daughters with her and they stayed for all 3 hours! The girls went to primary and nursery and they all really enjoyed church! We then met with her again yesterday and taught her to pray and gave her a Book of Mormon and she was really receptive to all of it!! And she accepted a baptismal date for June 22!!! We are so thrilled! She is so wonderful and I am so excited!

Then this past Monday wasn't a preparation day because we went to the temple today. So we proselyted (after I skyped my family of course, which was so fun!!!) And it was an awesome proselyting day! We have two new investigators!! One is the friend of two other investigators, and she really has a lot of interest, particularly in prayer. We were supposed to meet with her yesterday but she had to work, but she is coming to church on Sunday! And then we went looking for a former investigator, but they had moved. The lady who lives there now though was very willing to sit down with us. So that was super awesome!

And then today was temple day!! This might be my last time on my mission, which was kind of sad, but I really enjoyed it. It had been a long time since I'd been, so I was so grateful! And I did a session in Chinese (though I did have a translation headset on as well). But it was really cool. And then since I didn't do inititories, and went to an earlier session, I then got to do a few sealings which was super cool. I love going to the temple!!!

Oh, and we had some changes in our leadership position. Before we were covering 4 zones: Nantou, ZhangHua, JiaYi and Tainan. But we were traveling 4+ hours total for exchanges with JiaYi and Tainan, which was just too much. So our mission president called two more sister training leaders and put them over JiaYi and Tainin, which left us just with Nantou and ZhangHua (3 companionships). But then he called again another day and was like, actually, I'm going to give you Taizhong South zone, so you will have 7 companionships again. I'm excited! The Taizhong south sisters are only about a 20 minute train ride away, instead of a 2+ hour train ride, so much more manageable. I am excited to serve these new sisters!!

Well, I think that's about it! Enjoy pictures!!! I hope everyone is doing well!!!

1: Our all you can eat hot pot and BBQ, after most of it was eaten. 

2: Me and my salsa!

3: My district: Elder Xiong, Elder Ferrall, Sis. Wu and Me

4: Some of the sisters we are over: Sis Packard, Sis Smith, Sis Worthington, Sis Cole, Sis Wu, Me, Sis Jarvis and Sis Schultz. Love these sisters! (picture in the next email)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Week 59: Only 3 Months Left!

Wow. Week 1 of May is over! Next week starts a new transfer! Where is the time going!!!!

We've had an incredible week here in Zhang Hua! This week was meetings week! We had mission leadership council, our first ever! It was so wonderful! We talked about councils and their importance in the church. We were also able to ask questions about us sisters new role and how to work best with the elders, and we received some great leadership training! I was so grateful for that meeting!

Then Thursday we had a Sister's only meeting! It was so fun to get together with the sisters. My companion and I were asked to present a training on preparing to become a leader, and it went really well! We were nervous because neither of us knows how to prepare to be a leader...we were just thrown into the positions =] But we figured there has to be something we can teach these sisters. So we focused on following the example of our leaders and developing Christ-like attributes. After all, Christ is perfect, so He must be the perfect leader right? Overall, it went really well I think, and I think, at the very least, it gave the sisters a boost of encouragement =] That is something I've learned about myself this week: I'm really good at giving encouragement! Yay!

Then Friday and Saturday we were on exchanges which was really fun. I'm really enjoying being able to get to know these sisters better and be able to give them the support, encouragement and training that they need to be the best missionaries they can be! I really, really love being a sister training leader. It is the best!

Our investigators are all doing so good! We invited our families to be baptized, but they declined...for now! We aren't giving up on them that easily! This gospel blesses families, and we are going to help them see that. Our Amah and Abei are doing really well too! Abei came to church again yesterday!!!! Let me tell you the miracle of that. 

My companion and I were talking about how we could help Abei have a good experience at church yesterday because we know last week he didn't understand what was going on. We had another brother bring him to church yesterday and before church we sat down with him and shared with him a little bit about the plan of salvation. We went into the chapel and he sat in the back with my companion and the sister who was going to translate for him. Yesterday was fast Sunday, so people were getting up to bear their testimonies. Sis. Xiao, the sister who was translating for Abei, got up and bore her testimony all in Taiyu so Abei would understand. I was really grateful for that. And then the brother who brought Abei to church last week got up and bore his testimony. He said that he brought Abei to church last week, but because Abei didn't understand, he didn't think he'd come back; but he did. This brother said that he was too proud, and that sometimes we are all a little too proud. And he used Taiyu to say all of this. But that isn't the best part. After him, many more members got up and bore their testimony to Abei in Taiyu. I was so incredibly grateful for their willingness to help Abei have a marvelous experience at church. Then in Sunday School the teacher used all Taiyu to teach the class so that Abei would understand. My companion and I didn't know how to help Abei, but Heavenly Father did. I am so grateful for the members in our ward who were willing to go out of their way to help Abei have a good experience at church. I hope that his wife will come next week. 

We've also had some incredible miracles with less-actives this week! First, we had a great lesson on the plan of salvation with a less-active sister last Friday. She has such a strong testimony, she just doesn't have a way to get to church, so we are working on helping her get to church. Then we met two new less-active sisters, both of whom are mothers of young kids. It was so fun to meet them and I hope we can help them, and their families, come to church. The last is a sister who we have been working with for quite some time. We invite her to church every week, but she hasn't come yet. Last week we once again invited her and she said she'd try. We called her on Sunday morning and asked her if she was going to be coming. She said yes! And she did! She came for all three hours, and then at the end of the meeting, she asked us to help her fill out a tithing slip because she wanted to pay her tithing. I asked her afterwards why she chose today to come to church. She said she had reread the pamphlets we gave her and she decided that if she wanted her faith to grow, she needed to start acting, so she is! I was so happy to hear this! This is what we've been trying to help her do, and I know the Lord has His timing; I'm just glad I got to be here when it happened!

So yes, this week has been another week of miracles! I truly have felt the hand of the Lord in my life these past few weeks. It is incredible! I am loving reading the Book of Mormon everyday and am learning so much from it! Being a missionary is truly a fantastic thing and such a huge blessing. I know my time left here is short, but I hope that I can make the best of it and do what the Lord would want me to do!!

I love you all! Sorry the emails haven't had pictures recently...I haven't done anything on preparation day. But today we are going to my companions old area to eat and visit the sisters there, then next week we are going to the temple!!! So I'll have temple pictures when I email on Wednesday (no one freak out when they don't get their email from me on Monday =] )

Love you all!!

Week 58: What a Week of Miracles!

Hello my dear friends and family!!!!

What an incredible week we have had! By far the best week of my mission!!!! We have been blessed with miracle after miracle, and how grateful I am to the Lord for blessing us as he has!!!

But first, can I just say that time is going by too fast???? It's May! May is the month that I arrived in Taiwan...that means I've been in Taiwan for almost a year! I can't believe it! Time is flying too fast. 

So lets stop talking about time and start talking about our incredible week!

I don't even know where to start...

So last Monday. It was a bit stressful as my companion and I decided when to go on exchanges and where to go, as our week was really already scheduled. But, because Heavenly Father loves us and supports us, we worked it out all right. After small freak out sessions that we had no idea what we were doing, it all worked out and our exchanges all got arranged. 

Tuesday morning we were going to go visit a new investigator but she called and said she didn't have time, so we were going to go visit a less-active. But as we were beginning to travel there, I got too nervous that it was too far and we wouldn't have time to get back for district training meeting. So we stopped and prayed to know what we should do, since visiting the less-active was our back up plan. After we finished praying, I was thinking of people in the area or places to tract and I remembered a street that I have frequently seen and wanted to tract so we went there. And the 4th door we knocked on was a family! They are ren zhu min (aboriginal) and most aboriginal are already Christian, which they were. They let us in and we had a really great lesson with them. They were willing to let us come back another night when their whole family would be there. So AWESOME! So then we had exchanges (my companion go to go back to her old area =] ) and that night Sis Zhao and I had some great lessons. The best though was that night we were riding to go find some investigators and I was bummed that we were short a recent convert or less active lessons. Not long after that, a lady pulls up to me and is like, Hi, I'm Sis. Huang and I'm like, I have never met her before! I pull her to the side and turns out she is a less-active! She was heading home and I asked if we could follow her home and visit her; she readily accepted! So that was miracle #2 of the day. Such a huge blessing!!

Wednesday we had some great lessons with our investigators, particularly Sis. Zhang. We were able to really understand some of her needs which was super cool, so now we can help her work through them. English also went really well that night too, even though I only had two students, one was 2 years old and one was 9 =]

Thursday my companion had a meeting only for Taiwanese, so I got to go with Sis. Jarvis and Sis. Schultz! We had a great morning and were treated out to pizza =] That afternoon we had an awesome lesson with our investigator, Wang JM and her son! We showed her how to use her iPhone to watch conference and read the scriptures. She was SOOO excited! I just love them. And her son was reading 1 Nephi 8 about Lehi's vision, and without ever having explained to him what everything symbolized, he was able to tell us what the story represented. He is such an incredible young man! And he can't wait till he can have the priesthood =] We just need to get him baptized first =]

Friday, oh man, Friday we had the best experience I've ever had on my mission. We met a lady a few weeks ago. She is probably in her 70's, and the first time we talked with her she seemed really interested. The next time we went and visited her and her boss (she shells shellfish outside a house) and set up a time to go visit her. But then her boss called and said she didn't have time (this was last Tuesday). So we went by today to see her. And she was SO EXCITED! Her boss came out and was like, Amah is going to take you to her house. She's been waiting all week for you to come back! We were shocked! So we follow her to her house (while picking up cardboard boxes along the way - they collect recycle to get money). We get to her house and her husband was there. I wasn't sure how he'd feel about us being there, but he welcomed us right in and seemed very happy that we were there. They living in quite humbling circumstances, and I felt very honored that they wanted us to come visit. My companion did all the talking because they only speak Taiwanese (but I am starting to understand what is being said, but can't speak it at all). My companion asks if they have been praying but amah said no because she forgot how to, but this was why she has been waiting for us to come back: she wants to pray. The last time we had gone, her boss wasn't feeling well, and we prayed when we left that she would feel better. After the prayer, and after we left, the boss felt much better. Amah saw this and knew it was because of prayer. Her husband, Abei, has cancer. He was diagnoised 3 years ago, and at that time was give 4 years to live. So this is the 4th year. She wanted to know how to pray so she and her husband could pray for his health. So we taught them how to pray. Neither can read really well, but Amah told us to write it down anyways and she'd have someone read it to her. We gave it to Abei and he started to read it! We helped him with the characters he didn't know, and then he just sat there and read it over and over again the rest of the time we were there. As he was reading it over and over, I could feel his faith in prayer grow. He didn't really understand what he was doing, but he knows prayer can heal, and he has the faith that it will heal him. We also mentioned about church to them, and Abei said he really wanted to come and listen. So we found him a ride and he came to church!!!!! This amah and abei are so incredible. They are putting their whole faith into the gospel and prayer, even though they don't even really know why. It was such an incredible humbling experience. 

Ok, that is the end of the huge miracles this week. I'm sure there are a ton of little miracles too, but I realize this email just became super long. 

Oh wait, that's not the end! Our families!!!! We went to visit the Chen and Shi families last night!!! The Shi family was so excited for us to come! They were all sitting around the table waiting for us when we got there. And the best thing: they prayed last week!!!!! I was sooooo happy to hear that they are praying! The daughter shared with us her experience with prayer: she had lost something so she prayed to find it then found it. So simple, yet it impacted her and she knew Heavenly Father heard her prayer. They are such an incredible family! The Chen family is also doing so awesome! While they didn't pray last week because they forgot, we retaught prayer and then the father said the closing prayer. In his prayer he thanked Heavenly Father for the opportunity to come in contact with the church. So cool. Both families are doing so great and I'm so grateful for this opportunity to be able to teach them!

Ok. That's about it for our week. Being Sister Training Leader is the best! It might have stressful moments, and my poor companion doesn't know the area at all because she is always away on exchanges, but we are both loving it and feeling the tremendous blessings that Heavenly Father is giving us!

I am so grateful for this time I have to be a missionary!

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

Have a wonderful week!!!