Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wo Qin Ai de Jiating,

This past week we had a "Power Week". This means we lost language study time and meals times (we ate on the go) and left the house earlier in order to boost of our proselyting time. It was pretty fun--we were able to hit some really high companionship goals! For example, we talked to 240 people last week, which hasn't been done for at least the last five months. We usually talk to about 180 to 200 people a week in this area. In my past areas we always set goals for around 300, but this area is different. So that was really great! And we were able to get really close to several other high goals. The goal of the power week was to help us raise our vision for December. We hope December is a Power Month!
As for our investigators, we had to drop a baptismal goal (which was for this up coming Sunday :( ) because of parental opposition this week. However, our friend is not giving up and is pretty upbeat about the whole situation. She has a little bag full of missionary materials (she said she wants to be like us--and we all have matching bags now :) ) that she has been bringing home with her. I know that as she continues to share her testimony of this gospel with her mother, that her heart will be softened and we will start of December WHITE. She is constantly in our prayers.
A success story from this week is we were able to help another dear friend come to church!! We biked with her to church and she had a fantastic time! The ward was very great with her and we even had a linger longer for her to attend. It was a very happy moment for us--and we set up a member to come with us to her next lesson. They were able to meet each other and it was so fun. She was so cute too--sharing her testimony of the power of prayer with everyone. I was so proud of her!
With our recent convert/less active work we were able to have an increase in church attendance by working earlier to confirm them for church. We made the time to make calls to correlate with the ward and it worked really well. We still had less new members than we wanted, but we had three less actives come and one new member brought her husband! It was awesome!
As for gospel study, this week I decided to re-read the New Testament (getting ready for Christmas!). It has been really fun and the true reason for this is because last Monday my companion and I went to Costco. While there we were publicly ridiculed (not so fun) by a Canadian couple who professed to be Christians. It was sooo unpleasant because they refused to listen to the simple testimony we bore and just took every chance they could to try and trip us up. I answered honestly all of their questions and stated several times that I wasn't interested in arguing or debating with them about Joseph Smith (they were telling me my church's founder was a child molester due to him having teenage wives) and polygamy, etc, etc, but that my companion and I knew that this message is true because we asked of God.
I was a little shaken up by it emotionally and it was really just embarrassing because we had friends with us. The whole exchange was in English, but they could get the gist of the conversation. After I finally got them to leave us (ten minutes later) we turned the corner and we actually had a pretty good talk with our friends. We explained that after we are baptised, we have joined God's team and Satan is not very happy about that. So people mock us, hate us, reject us, but it's ok. Christ descended below it all--that gave me a lot of comfort. But I did cry a little because I just felt soo sad for them. They had said they were doing this because they "loved me" and even though I don't believe in their Hell they didn't want me going there. Their hearts were soo hard and if they aren't willing to change they will not have an eternal marriage or family. True happiness will escape them :(.
But anyways, after having them spew verse after verse from the New Testament at me, I decided I needed to become more familiar with it. As I read the chapters they had mentioned, I was able to see how a Joseph Smith translation clarified the doctrine, or how even if they had continued to really read the next chapter or two there was a direct contradiction to what they had yelled at me and Sister Lethco. Anyway, I am over it, but it was not so fun. Our district and zone leaders were really great at giving us scriptures for strength. Elder Summerhays told me to read 3 Nephi about how those who are persecuted for the Lord's sake are blessed. We appreciate the support we get from our leaders.
Well, sorry to end on that note, but I am happy and my testimony was only strengthened by that encounter. So I love you all and more later ok?
--Sister Brooke Smith

Monday, November 14, 2011

This week was good, but also a little sad...

Dear Family,

This week was good, but also a little sad--like it sounds like you have had too. We, along with the mission it sounds, had a lot of investigators stop progressing this week :(. One of the saddest was our dear little family--the little boy who reads everyday and his mom. The Elders have and are still working with the son (who is pretty great), but the mom politely told us that her husband said they needed to refocus on the religion they already have. So we were a pretty devastated about that, but we know the Lord loves them and we do too. Our biggest obstacle at this point is parental/spousal opposition. We know that the Lord will provide a way, but sometimes it is hard to have the patience to wait for His time. But on a happier note, our cute friend came to our ward again this Sunday! She is progressing beautifully and gave her mom a "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet to try and help her mother better understand this church. We are so proud of her! Her current baptismal goal is December 24th, but our prayers are that our white Christmas will come a little earlier this year :).

Something I was really happy about this week is that we worked soo well with our wards!!!! On Thursday we had a miracle day with five lessons with a member present--all different people and for two of our wards! It was awesome!!!!! When our members become involved, it just makes the work go by better. I love seeing the faith our members have here and for their willingness to serve. Sister Lethco is great at helping our active members, less actives, and investigators feel loved and it is so great being able to serve with her. So I just feel like we have a continually improving relationship with our wards and with the English branch. They were very influential in helping a few of our new members and less actives come to church this week. I am sooo grateful for wonderful members :). Along the same lines, another sister came to church again this Sunday and the ward members were soo great at making her feel loved. We just can't do this work without members!

Into the gospel study, this week I really feel like I've been able to grow a lot closer to my Savior. I have been reading conference talks from last conference (I only have one left now!! I want to be finished before I get the new one) and one I read this week was by Elder C. Scott Grow on the power of the Atonement. He gave a beautiful example of the enabling power of the Atonement in sharing his brother's life. Elder Grow is also so great at expounding on the scriptures of the Atonement. As I followed his references and did my own study, I felt my faith grow. I love my Savior, and I know that He really did atone for me. I am so grateful for Him.

I wrote Jamie--is he still at basic training? I hope so :P.

Don't worry, I am not going to die with the bike seat I have :). It would just be nice to get a new one. But I've kind of adjusted to the old one...I might just super glue it. I just need to take money out a little here and there to pay for random things like dental visits, pictures, bike repairs, clothing repairs, etc.

Love you all---you should be getting a package from me sometime in December...hehe.

All for now--thank you for all you do!! Be missionaries!

---Sister Brooke Smith

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just Stop and Pray

Hello there!

This week we were able to apply what we learned at mission conference (with the Gongs---I love them!!!) almost immediately! It was great! One of our progressing investigators set her own baptismal goal after we extended a bold memorized baptismal invite. It was great! Her problem is that she goes to school and lives here Monday through Friday, but on the weekends goes home to another town which is outside of our mission. We talked to the assistants about this situation before, and so we are not allowed to call the missionaries there, who she has met with a few times. She has a great member friend there we have permission to call. Also, she came once to our ward two weeks ago! It was a huge miracle. Her family has a lot of tensions around things religious, so she is very afraid to let them know about her meeting with us. She is ready for a baptismal interview, but since she attends the other ward most often, we don't want to put her in a baptismal interview here if she needs to get one from the other mission, etc. She says next semester she will be able to stay here more--like two out of four Sundays a month. And she really really wants baptism! But she still needs parental permission since she is only 18. One really cool thing is her mom saw a picture she had taken with me and Sister Sorensen (before Sister Sorensen went home) and she decided to be honest and say she was meeting with us. Her mom just didn't react at all, so she feels like that was a blessing from God. So we hope that as we keep working with her (and she has soo many friends in our singles ward) that the Lord will provide a way for her to baptized this month.

As for recent convert/less actives, our huge success story from this week was that the Relief Society president and another sister went over to visit our lovely sister who is ill and got her to commit to church!!! And come Sunday morning she came for sacrament!! With her health condition she shouldn't be in large groups of people, so she only stayed for the one hour, but all the members were so great at guanxing her. It was awesome!! We have been working with her for over a month now and this came only because the Relief Society responded to our call for aid. It made us sooo happy.

For my study time, I have decided to re-read the Book of Mormon, but this time from a complete missionary perspective (an idea from Sister Lethco). I looked through Preach My Gospel for principles or ideas I could highlight during my Book of Mormon reading. I came up with highlighting what can be accomplished by the power of the Holy Ghost, my purpose, how to measure success, teaching skills I want to emulate, attributes of a great missionary, and things pertaining to power and authority. It has really opened up the Book of Mormon even more to me. I love it!

Something else is I had a few rough spots this week, mainly my own bad attitude, and it wasn't fun!!! So I've been learning (and Sister Gong spoke on this at the mission meeting) that when I feel grumpy to go pray it out. Just stop and pray. The Lord will bless us with peace, but only when we ask for it! So don't feel afraid to do the same. I have seen it help my companionship and our relationship with the ward so much!!! Oh, also we are sending two Elders to the Taibei mission from our Nantun ward! It is awesome--they are soo excited.

Thanks for all your prayers!


Sister Brooke Smith

I Survived My First Week as a Senior!!!

Dear Family,

Well, I survived my first week as a Senior!!! Woohoo! Having the amazing Sister Lethco as my companion has made it not only possible but enjoyable too! Together we have seen a lot of success and I think we'll be able to help this area become more established unto the Lord. Our two confirmations went smoothly on Sunday--we were able to hit our goal of three baptisms and three confirmations for the month of October! That felt good--and those converts and so rock solid! I love them so much. I am excited see their progression and contributions to their wards. We have been working closely with the wards and Bishop and his wife gave an excellent lesson on how to support new members this past Sunday. It was so awesome!! They have decided to do linger longers after church once a month in order for the members to better guanxi (take care of) our new members, investigators, and each other. We are excited to see the turn out!

As for other investigators, we had 2 come this Sunday! She is so awesome and her son is too. They had us over for dinner last week and said we can come over whenever we want. The problem was before we could only meet with them once a week so that they could both be at the lesson. But we are working with the Elders now and since the boy is home alone at night they will be able to just go over and teach him. The mom is home during the day so that is when we will go visit her. And then we, the sisters, will teach both mother and son at the usual once a week time. She also really wants her husband to meet us, but he doesn't come home until the evening usually (at which time she is gone), so hopefully the Elders will be able to work with him too. And they already have plans for coming to church again next Sunday! The son told his mom he loves it and wants to come back--and she feels the same. I was so proud of the ward--they really guanxied her and her son so well. I love our wards!

For RCLA work, this week our big success came when the Relief Society President when with us to visit a less active sister. They already knew each other, but it had been a long time since their last visit. However, it was like an instant friendship and the Relief Society President is excited to start visiting her regularly with other Sisters. I feel that really great goals were set and plans made in order to help this Sister come back to full activity in the Church. We will let you know how that goes!
My bike seat is still a little broken. It rides fine, but I might have to replace it in a few months. We have a few spare not so good ones around the apartment too, so I might just take on of those. But a new one is only like 400 kuai (I checked today) and that is like 12 dollars or something. So that is an idea? Other than that I really don't need anything. Handwritten letters? More primary children letters!!!! Sister Dalamas sent me some! I LOVE THEM!

Lastly, my studying--finished up Diligence!!! It is weird to think I have been here long enough to be finishing the attribute study this month...time has flown by. I have also been doing a lot of studying this week on gaining the Faith to Find. Elder Summerhays has been a great district leader to go Senior under! He gave my companion and I several scripture passages to study about this (D&C 60:2,7 and Alma 37:40-41), and it has helped a lot. I am really grateful for the wonderful zone and district leaders we have! They are excellent at supporting us and to see areas we can improve in. And our Mission President and his wife are excellent too :). We love them so much!

So excited to see Elder and Sister Gong at mission meeting this Thursday!! Sister Gong taught me Chinese my senior year of high school so it will be fun to see her again!

Love love love love and Happy Halloween!!

----Sister Brooke Smith

P.S. Tell Shawna I LOVED the novel she sent me!! Her letter was HUGE! And it kept me soo happy all week!!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello from Nantun!

Hello from Nantun!

It was hard to say good-bye to our lovely Sister Sorensen, but I know transfers home are important too :). I am excited to have a stellar new companion in Sister Lethco!!! Yes, I went Senior this movecall...a little scary, but we can do it! Sister Lethco is so great! We will be sure to work our hardest over here! I haven't really met her before, so I'll tell you more next week!

This week has been so amazing! We had our lovely baptisms this Saturday along with the Elder's. It went so well! They were AWESOME. So ready. It was such a great experience--the Spirit was felt by all. What was really cool is one of sister invited her husband and best friend to attend--it was so special to have their support and love at her baptism. I am so proud of her courage! We look forward to their confirmations this next Sunday as we had Stake Conference this past Sunday. I was happy Sister Sorensen could end her mission with three baptisms in her last month! Pretty great. Miss that girl!!!!!!!!!!!! Glad to hear you'll have her over for dinner.

We also have been so blessed with great progressing investigators! We are very excited to help them grow closer to their Savior by helping them discover more and more of the Gospel. With one great family we haven't met the father yet, but this week the wife said she really wants her husband to be able to hear our message too!!! So we are going to work out a time to meet with the whole family this week! Also the wife and son have committed to church this week. The son has continued to read the Book of Mormon every night before going to bed. He is awesome!

We were visiting a less active this week who gave me the COOLEST pink-jade bracelet! All the Taiwanese women wear jade braceletes, so I feel like a true Taiwanese now :). It is soo cool!!! The people are waaay too generous over here.

As for Gospel learning--loved loved loved Stake Conference!!! We had a broadcast to all of Asia! Elder Osguthorpe, Sister Ann Dibb, Elder Anothy Perkins (I know him :) ) and Elder Richard G. Scott spoke to us!!! It was AWESOME. Elder Osguthorpe's talk was inspiring and gives clear direction on how our members can be a bigger part of this grand work. Elder Richard G. Scott's talk was amazing too! I wish we had had more investigators to hear his beautiful message on the value of women. So many women we teach here so lack in confidence and self worth. I think I'll be sharing his words with quite a few people this week.

Well, kinda short on time since it was a movecall day and I "killed" my dear Sister Sorensen. Thank you all for writing!!!!!!!!!!! I loved hearing from all of you

P.S Because my companion left, we were taken to sooooooooooooooooo many meals this week. At first it was just lunch, then dinners and lunches, and then tea times and pre-dinner dinners. Well, all for now!

---Sister Brooke Smith

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I know the Book of Mormon is True!

Dear Family!

This week has been so good! There have been soo many miracles! One being our two beautiful investigators who are set on being baptized on the 22nd! It'll be a great way for Sister Sorensen to end her missionary service--and both of the investigators picked the date before they even knew Sister Sorensen was leaving the next week. I am really grateful that the Lord answers our prayers and allows us to make our goals.

One sister had a lovely lesson on tithing on Wednesday and passed her baptismal interview the next morning. She was radiant. Then Wednesday we met with a golden family-- they are so great! The eleven year old son has been reading the Book of Mormon every night since we gave one to him! We are really excited for our next appointment. They also expressed a desire to attend church after we called and shared with them our church experience. And you already know about our other investigator! She is on fire! We'd been having a hard time meeting with her outside of the Sunday meetings, but after we told her it was must if she really wanted to be baptized, she met with us every night she could! It was great! Her desire to receive the blessings of baptism is so strong---she is willing to pay the price. One of the things I will never forget about her is when we started to teach her tithing she pulled out the pamphlet, flipped open to a section and said, "This is my favorite part--can I share it with you?" And then when I started to stumble when teaching fasting she said, "My Chinese is better, I can teach you!" and proceeded to teach me the doctrine of fasting PERFECTLY! Our peike (the Relief Society Pres.) was astonished and said, "Sister Smith, you need to give her a name tag and take her with you!". It was amazing. She has such a burning desire to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost in her life that she has a hunger for spiritual knowledge. It is really amazing to see how well the Lord prepares those who diligently seek for truth. I have no doubts that she will be very instrumental in bringing back other relatives to full membership in the Lord's Church.

We also had a pretty great experience with a less active sister this week. She was baptized, along with most of her siblings, over twenty years ago, but has been less active for the last several years. It has taken cancer to help her realize that she needs to come back. It is kind of a complicated situation, but over a month and a half ago she had asked for the ward to give her the sacrament and a priesthood blessing. The ward correlator never really addressed that though, and so we finally called the Bishop. He was so great and since it was Sunday and no one in the ward was available, to send the Elders over to do that for her. They gave her the sacrament that day and then set up a separate time for a priesthood blessing since her friend wanted us to be there with her. When we came, she was so excited. She had been reading the new Book of Mormon we had given her and had so many questions! She really wants to relearn this Gospel and it is really helping her regain that Light that comes from righteous living. She also recommitted to live the Word of Wisdom. Then the Elders taught her simply and beautifully about the Priesthood. While waiting for our church to come and bless her, many of her Christian friends had had their pastors/ministers over to bless her. She said it was really nice of them, but she was waiting for our Church. It was kind of sad, because it took so long for our ward to respond, she thought God must be telling her she wasn't worthy of the sacrament or a blessing yet. So she said that she'd been trying to live her best so that she could be worthy. It made us really sad, but glad that she is working on improving. We were so grateful for the quick response from the Bishop and the Elders. The blessing was beautiful and she was very touched. She told us afterwards that she could tell the Elders struggled with Chinese, but that because it was full of love she could feel the truth of what they were saying. I love the priesthood and I am so grateful for the worthy priesthood holders in my life!! Now we have things worked out with her ward and our Relief Society President has already called her! So great!

This week I saw another miracle--I finished the Book of Mormon!!! Finally right? I took a long time, but I feel much better acquainted with it. I studied every page and the people in that book are so much more real to me now. I spent at least 15 minutes every day reading the Book of Mormon for the last nine months and it really has changed me. As I neared the end it became harder and harder to put it down! I can't wait to do it again--after I pick up a fresh copy from the Mission Home! It has really helped me help my investigators-- it is an amazing conduit to personal revelation. I know the Book of Mormon is true!

I love you all soo much!!!! Take care!!

---Sister Melissa Smith

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Charity and Service

Sunday, October 9, 2011
My Dearest Family,

Sister Sorensen and I have felt a little differently about life this week. We have been able to do some really great things--such as have our lovely friend baptized, but we also have felt a sadness about the conditions of our wards. All three are struggling in the two most important areas-- Charity and Service--which is something every ward and every person can improve on. I was rereading Sister Silvia Allred's address from last Conference---"The Essence of Discipleship" and those two things--charity and service are the crux of being a disciple of Christ. Our wards have many great members, but they have a hard time looking past their own group of friends, as many of us struggle to do. The less actives are usually less active for a reason and it is hard to persuade them to come back. But that doesn't mean we can give up! That doesn't mean we can excuse our lack of service.

So Sister Sorensen and I fasted for the inspiration to help revive our wards and we are keeping that task continually before our minds. The scripture that just keeps coming to mind in Matt 22:36-40. I just am not quite sure how to get the wards to really understand the severity of those commandments--that they are commandments we must do! Our poor wards are getting very discouraged and it makes us sad too. They are great people whom we love dearly, but we know that through the power of God they can reach their full potential and help the word of God to spread forth to fill the whole earth. We know that through the power of God we can do anything. The Lord always answers the prayers of the righteous who have the faith to ask. So we are really going to work on that this week. We've had a few ideas come to mind--such a mottos or stickers--but we'll get the right answer through the whisperings of the Spirit, so we'll continue to seek that.

A little more on our beautiful new Sister; she is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She has turned all of her trials into sources of faith as she has relied on Christ. And every time I see her I am amazed at her beauty--she truly is God's precious daughter. At her baptism she shared her moment of conversion to the Church with us. It was after she had failed her first baptismal interview (because she still lacked faith in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith) and started a fasting with us to help her get her answer. As she was reading the Book of Mormom she was lead to Ether 12:27 and as she read that verse of scripture the Holy Ghost touched her soul. After that she was ready and committed. Since her second baptismal interview she has been rock solid and has actually helped in lessons. She is a very needed addition to our little singles branch.

Well, there is much work to be done, but I feel as I study diligence in the scriptures and in PMG that that really is the answer to all of this! Work, and work by the Spirit. I am so excited to see the miracles that will come after the showing forth of our faith! I love this Gospel and I know that God is here helping us along.

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for your prayers. As Sister Sorensen is coming to the end of her mission we have a lot of goals left to work towards and I believe we will see miracles! So stay and touch and be good!!!

Love you all so much,

Sister Brooke Smith

Crazy Mountain Dakeng #4

September 25, 2011
My Dearest Family,

Wow, your lives just seem sooooooooo busy!!! It is funny how missionaries are really busy, but not really. Like, we do lots of things and are always on the go, but it isn't the same feeling. I guess it is because we just focus on the Lord--there are no other demands pulling on our time. I like it---even though I have now apparently developed dark circles under my eyes and break out all the time. But I figure, these are just signs that I am doing my best right? Lol, we always say you resurrect after going home, and by looking at Sis. Lew's pic, she is definitely looking good! I am so glad to hear you all had a fun time. She was the perfect trainer for me. We had a blast! It'll be fun to see her next year. Well, I am almost to my half way mark...weird eh? All of the Sisters I came out with have already hit it since they were in the MTC longer...which is weird. Lol. But I really like where I am at. I love being Sister Sorensen's companion soo much. We have such a great time together and we have seen soo many miracles. This past week an investigator was going to our church along with her church and last Sunday she just decided it was time to decide! So she did and had a wonderful baptismal interview. She is going to be baptized Oct 1st (since we have conference a week later its all good) and is so strong!!! I just love her soo much and she just makes me feel soo happy every time we met with her. This past Sunday I attended the Singles Ward with her (my first time going to that ward) and she showed me around to all the classes! She is so awesome!!! She bore a beautiful testimony of fasting in the Gospel Principles class and I just know she has the faith to endure. Also, we discovered we both speak a little Japanese and so we practice together now! So fun :). Just little words here and there, but it really made her soo excited and it is pretty fun. But our Japanese is pretty horrible...oh well! Dad will get to speak to her when she comes to visit! She really wants to come visit sometime--which is soo exciting. I hope you get to meet some of my new converts. I love them soo much. I just keep thinking how blessed I have been and it makes me soo happy. Something fun is that since it is Sister Sorensen's last movecall she gets to call of her recent converts. The mission has changed a lot during her service---there used to be a HUGE push for baptisms...and we had a lot! But now (when I came) the push is retention...since many of those baptisms went inactive. So I haven't baptized a crazy amount, but all but one is super strong in the gospel. One...well, she has a few things to work on, but we all have free agency. Anyway, it has been a time for me to ponder the many blessings I have had and those that await :). we went with two members (both baptized for under two and a half years) and hiked this CRAZY mountain in Dakeng! It is called Dakeng #4...and I have awesome pictures I will be sending soon. Maybe the members will post them on FB...not sure. But it was sweaty. We had to use hands and feet to hike this thing...with ropes! It was so fun...but exhausting and now we have no time for anything. Sigh, so I will have to write individual emails next week.
Love you all!!!!!!!!

Sister Brooke Smith


Doing Great in Nantun

September 18, 2011
First week of movecall is over and we are doing great here in Nantun! I love my new area and I love Sister Sorensen soo much. We just love serving together and teaching in unity. It is a happy time. She reminds me sooo much of Katie Lindsey! It is hilarious! I love it. We laugh together alllllllllllll the time. We are best friends. She is on her last you will get to meet her soon...she lives in Orem.

This week we saw some miracles and I'd like to share a few with you. First was that we met with an investigator who has been waffling between our church and another Christian church for
several months. Her co-worker is a member and has been very encouraging and
supportive of our investigator. Our investigator's other church is interesting
in the fact that they have many similar commandments--including tithing. When
we taught tithing this past week, she said she'd been paying ten percent to her
other church since May! So its good that she already has the desire to obey
God's commands, but she also has a hard time telling the difference between the
churches. Especially since she hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon or prayed
about Joseph Smith. But when we met with her we felt prompted to invite her to
have a baptismal interview. She did the next night and she is just still hung
up on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. But she felt like it was a very
positive experience and our district leader was great at making her feel
successful in the fact she has a lot of faith. So we were a little unsure of
the next step, but then Heavenly Father helped us out. On Sunday she met with
her member friend before church and said she felt like she just needed to decide.
Whenever she prayed about our church and attended sacrament meeting she felt
happy. She felt like God was here. And she recognized that she lacked the same
amount of that feeling at her other church. She told us she'd like to have
another baptismal interview this Friday and be baptized the next Saturday!!
Such a miracle! It is maybe a bit slower than we'd like, but it will give the
ward time to prepare and really support her. We are soo excited!
Another huge miracle we saw was with a less active family. We were out visiting some formers, which went really great (another miracle) and ended up finishing up quite a bit earlier than
expected. Sister Sorensen had the thought to visit a nearby less active family
and so we did. The father and mother are both members, but only one of their
three children is baptized. Their 20 year old son, is semi-active since he goes
to school in Jiayi and the members there are really good at encouraging him.
The dad is a police officer and the mom just said she likes watching tv...sigh.
When we dropped by the mom and son were there, and then the dad came home about
halfway through the visit. As the Lord arranged it, the son was staying over
for the weekend and after having inviting the family to come to church, the
three there said yes! And the next morning (after a whole year of inactivity)
they came in their Sunday best! It was so awesome to see and the ward was so
happy!! Of course now the objective is to go with the home and visiting
teachers to keep this family going, but we are so excited and hope to help them
love the Gospel. The mom has probably lost the most of her prior knowledge. She
thought Joseph Smith and Jesus were the same we decided it is
probably best to review all of the lessons with her. But we are going to work
hard to have members with us.

As for gospel study, I have really trying to do better at studying specifically for investigators. The Lord has really been blessing me to find resources to help them, but the hard thing is
actually using them sometimes. So I am going to keep working on it! I know the
Lord can help my investigators better than I can. I love the Book of Mormon and
have been trying to help all we work with develop that same love!
Well, all for now, but I love you alllllllllll sooooooooo much!!!

Wufeng, Beichu, Zhanghua & Nantun All in One Week!

Soooo this week has been wayyyyyyyyyy crazy!!! I started off in Wufeng (my old area) had a day in Beichu and three in Zhanghua. And now....I am serving in Nantun! Lol, it is actually in the same zone as Wufeng...hehe. But about that a little later. Being able to see different areas helped me to gain appreciation for the amazing mission we are in! We all have the same goals and purpose. I love that.

First off, this week we had Sisters Exchanges and my dream came true!!!! I FINALLY was able to serve with Sister Chloe Ith!!! I love her sooo much--we met up in Gaoxiong and both ended up moving North. She goes home soon though. She was born in America but grew up in Singapore. Her dad is Cambodian and she knows soo many of the same people I do! Sister Ith also knows me from BYU because I spoke on going on the BYU Study Abroad to Nanjing and she ended up going the next year! So we have a lot in common. When I was in Beitun we shared a chapel and when I was in Wufeng we were in the same district! I love her so much! Sisters Exchanges was a blast and I received some answers to prayer with her. It was a very uplifting and edifying experience. And guess what!!? She just moved to Fengshan today!!! My first area :). It is pretty awesome.

Then on Wednesday Sister Laxi got the call that she was going trainer---my third companion to do so!!! It has kind of become a mission joke that I train Actually all of the Taiwanese Senior companions went trainer! We have nine new sisters come in this week--five of which are natives!! So great! On Thursday I got to meet the new trainees because I helped with their Dan Jones night! It was so fun seeing them and remembering how I felt. I saw Elder Riley White (go Springville!!!!) and he is doing so good! He told me that Missy told him something to tell me...but he forgot! She cuts hair at the MTC now so he saw her there. Anyway, it was way fun to see him--he got sent waaaaaay South! He'll love it!

For my last little bit in Wufeng, my cute 18 year olds are doing so great! They both have such a desire to learn more about the gospel and to feel the Spirit. I have complete confidence that Sister Laxi and Sister Wang will be able to help them progress towards baptism and enduring conversion. Also, another investigator is doing great and has been keeping her commitments. All three should be coming to church this Sunday and it is exciting!!! We love them so much.

So come Friday morning I had to move out and I ended up going to Zhanghua for three days. But funny thing is they kind of forgot about me so all Thursday night we had to make a KABILLION calls and we finally got it all straightened out. It was way fun in Zhanghua because I whitewashed with Sister Pomeroy!!! She was my first MTC companion (with Sister Miller)! Whitewashing means the area was closed and so two new missionaries have to reopen the area and start from the bottom up. It was so fun. Even though I knew I wouldn't be staying I just fell in love with the ward. We saw so many miracles! Sister Pomeroy is amazing and she also answered so many of my prayers. Our time together really bolstered me up and she is totally coming to Thanksgiving with us after we go home (we will be going home together). Yep! She is the coolest Chicka around. She was companions with Sister Bray last move call, but now Sister Bray went trainer!! And she is training an old mission president's daughter! Actually President Watterson was the Taizhong mission president when I lived in Taibei. So I totally remembered the other day that she was Jeremy Perkin's date to prom when I doubled with them in 2005!!!! So we have actually met before...but both kind of forgot about it. Small small world. She is way cute though. Oh and Sister Cooper moved from Fengshan to be with Sister Pomeroy!!! How cool? All companions with companions.

Then come Saturday night....we found out movecall! Except there is another Sister Smith now and they confused our transfers! But we got things figured out and I moved from the Wufeng District in the Taizhong Zone to.....the Nantun District in the Taizhong ZONE! Lol, and my old district leader became zone leader and the zone leader became my new district leader. And the district leader in Zhanghua I was just with became the new district leader in Wufeng. I feel like we were all just shuffled around a little. I love it because I was really not ready to leave my zone! I love it too much! I am now on my 6th move call, 5th companion, and 4th area. It is exciting! Lol.
I will probably stay in Nantun for at least two movecalls though since my new companion, Sister Sorensen is dying here. She goes home next movecall! WEIRD. :p

Something else fun was that today is the Moon Festival! So last night we went over to a member's (in Zhanghua) and had a bbq!!! Chinese style :). It was so good and I am really going to miss the sweet Chinese sausages (their equivalent for hot dogs). But luckily I still have awhile, so no worries! And the fireworks were way great. I love Taiwan.

I am always so grateful for our study time. I have learned so much from that precious time, and I can't wait to keep learning more. The Lord has really given me so much comfort through His word. One thing that Sister Pomeroy and I studied together this week was the talk by Elder Bednar on "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary." It is so powerful and motivating. But we especially enjoyed the "You Can Do It" section at the end. Sometimes we just see all of the weaknesses and it is hard to remember the good parts in ourselves. But I know the Lord can help us accomplish His will in His way. I love Him so much.

Well, all for now! I love you all sooooooooooo much!!!!

Wufeng has been Fantastic

Dear Family,

Can't believe it is already the last week of move call...that is weird! I really hope I don't move again! Wufeng has been fantastic. I love it here soo much! And my da tongban (senior companion...literally "Big companion") has already been here for three move calls. So many predict I will go "Da" (senior) here. Who knows. The thought of going Senior is more than just a little bit scary. Lol, but the Lord will have what He wants happen and we just have to be humble enough to accept it. This week we had some really great things happen. First, we have so many awesome investigators!!!! Two cute little 18 year olds came to church for the first time this Sunday. AND...they biked there with us :). It was such a happy ride to the church that morning. And the two girls became fast friends---I foresee a joint baptism! They had such a good time at church and both are making plans to come next week. One investigator has a piano class every other Sunday, but after church she told us that she was going to talk to her teacher and see if she could schedule it for a different day so she could come to church every Sunday! It was so awesome! I love teaching people who have a desire to learn and are willing to test the principles we teach.

Our week a away from baptism investigator, dropped this week though. It has been a rough week. She encountered some family opposition and for a bit told us we couldn't visit at all. But then a member went to the rescue and made it possible for us to visit them Sunday after church. Originally she was still going to come to church, but she didn't feel good. I think we will have to slow it down a bit, but we had a great visit with them after church and I think we'll be able to set a time up before next Sunday. She really loves church and says she will come next week!

As for RCLAs, we found some really awesome part-member (member part inactive) families this week! Both said they'd come to church...and both didn't :(. But we will keep working with them and involve the members more. I am excited to see how the Lord will bless us because they are awesome families and we love them sooo much. Last night we also visited a new part-member family-- (a recent convert who is currently serving a short-term mission and is a RC from Beitun--my last area). She is on fire and before she left for her short term mission gave me her family's info. So we finally got them to set up and last night we had such an awesome visit. They were way nice and the mom seems very receptive. The dad is willing to listen, but he also feels that all religions are the same and that in the end, we are Jesus. So there is some work to do there, but we are willing to do it! They want us to come over for dinner next-next Sunday :).

I love the attribute activity soo much! Every month the attribute is exactly what I need to work on. I learned a lot about patience, and feel like I have found several ways I can improve my lack of patience! One of them is by developing humility---which just happens to be this month's attribute! Yay! I really feel like the Lord is supporting me in every aspect of this missionary work--including the work I am doing for my loved ones. I love Heavenly Father so much and am so grateful He allowed me to have this opportunity to learn and grow.

Well, I am about to head out and go to a Sisters Activity with Sister Bishop (wife of the mission pres.!!). We are way excited! I am sure there will be some fun pictures coming your way soon.

Love you all!!

---Sister Brooke Smith

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week of Miracles!

Dear Family!

This week has been a week of miracles!! We have been having a little bit of a rough time in Wufeng--many of the progressing investigators from last move call stopped progressing and several great people we had started teaching stopped meeting with us due to exposure to anti-LDS literature or friends. Our zone leaders had given us some invitations to increase our investigators at church, and even though we had been trying really hard, we only had one person committed for church on Saturday day. Also our week B (past tense now...:( ) still did not receive permission from her mom still. We were feeling a bit down and discouraged, but we have also been focusing on mighty prayer. I have really noticed a change in my own prayers, and in our companionship prayers. Sometimes it is hard when we feel soooo sleepy, but it really does make a big difference! This week we saw miracles! One happened when it was eight thirty at night and we were calling formers. I had already called through most of the numbers I had with me, but my companion said we should call for another twenty minutes. I was tried, my Chinese was getting slurred and I was just a little discouraged from the lack of success. But I decided to call through some of the numbers that hadn't answered the day before. The first number I called actually picked up and when I asked if she could come to church (twelve hours later) she said YES!!! My companion also was blessed to confirm one other for church. So we went from one to three. We were still feeling that was a little low, but we had tried our best. Next morning, our investigator arrives EARLY and is so happy to be with us. Heavenly Father also blessed us to have our other two confirmed for church investigators arrive. Then a member brought her yet-to-be-member mother, and another member brought her niece and four of her friends. So in total, we had NINE investigators at church!!!! It was a MIRACLE! And the miracle add from the night before brought her daughter to the Jenny Philip's concert that night! It was so great! I feel like the Lord has really blessed us. Also that day so many people came to our church meetings--it was a very great feeling. I want every Sunday to be like this one.

As for our less active work, I have been thinking about how we need to take a member with us to visit, and hopefully we'll be able to put that more into practice this week. We haven't yet :(. But I feel like that will really help a lot. This week we focused on them by having more of our RCLAs be our member at lessons. The only problem is that we were fanged by our peikes (members at lessons) a few times...but hopefully we can continue to work with them on that!

In the gospel study realm--I love the Book of Mormon, I love being able to feel more and more familiar with it every day. It has been a real source of comfort for me. One of my favorite verses--my motto for this move call is Alma 26:27. I am always inspired by the accounts of the ancient missionaries. I just finished up the last bit of Helaman, and I am just so impressed by the example of Nephi. I really liked chapter 16 and how it showed how Samuel the Lamanite and Nephi worked together to bring many souls unto Christ. It showed how districts and zones should be--especially verses 1-5. I really believe that as we work in unity, we will be able to work miracles. Today we had an awesome preparation da yactivity in our zone to increase unity. I felt like it really did and I gained a better appreciation for all the effort and love our leaders put into this zone. They are great!

Sometimes I think I just never want to come home, lol. But then I think about taking a bath and reading books, playing in Alaska and going to school and then I think, maybe in a year that would be nice. Lol. Eleven months left! Sometimes it feels like I just started, others like I should be on the last stretch. Mainly you feel down when the work is going slow or things aren't so perfect with a companion. But when you have success the time really flies and you are filled with such joy that you wouldn't be anywhere else.

I met a member at church who remembered Emily Owen! It was pretty fun.

Sister Brooke Smith

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another Move Call...Wufeng...And another Language!

Dearest Family!!!
Another move call is here! Weird how fast time flies when you are serving the Lord. And though I thought I would be staying in Beitun for more than one move was not to be! I just moved to Wufeng and my new companion is Sister Gao. She actually just changed her name to her aboriginal name, since she is a Taiwanese aboriginal, so she is actually Laxi (La-shi) Jiemei. Last movecall they taught someone in her same tribe/clan (?) and actually a lot of people who don't actually speak apparently I get to learn a lot of aboriginal language in this area! Woot! I am also her first foreign companion, and she is my first native. We came in from Taibei to Taizhong together too! We spent two days in the mission home together in a trio with a Sister Liu. So it was pretty cool to find out we'd be companions. She went senior last move call with a short term missionary, so she is way amazing! I am sooo pumped. Plus the ward in this area is supposedly really really great! Which will be so fun!  I love it here already!

As for my last area, this past week we have worked hard to strengthen our ward relations by completing the assignments they gave us. When we reported to them on Sunday about the assignments they were soo happy and gave us more names for people to visit. It is so great to have them start working more closely with us. I think they see we take their assignments seriously and are starting to trust us more. I think that having a duan chuan there will be really great for the ward too--they really respect Taiwanese missionaries. I think that as the ward relations continue to be strengthened we will see a lot more success with our investigators and recent converts. Also we have been able to see several less actives become more active since serving there and I love that!

On the investigator area, we were really blessed last week and found some really amazing people. So far we haven't been able to meet with them more than twice, exciting things are starting to happen :). And one family we met when tracting invited us in and had us eat lunch with them! It was soo great! So much fun.

One of the really fun things having to do with our less active work is that one cute sister who has not been to church in a  long while, came a few weeks back and then peiked for us last Saturday! At church she had just worn her normal clothes, to peike (teach with us)  for us she dressed up and wore a skirt! It was great and I feel like she has more desire to come back to church. Right now the problem is working on the Sabbath. I don't think she has ever tried asking off before, so we asked her to try this time. Hopefully she will try! We are praying for her.

As for gospel study, I really love the book of Helaman. I am still only in the beginning chapters of it, but they are so great! It talks about strengthening less actives, using new members, what we should be preaching about and so many other great things! It seems very applicable at this time in my life and I just love how the Lord prepared it so that it is of great value to all of his children. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God!!! It is so vital that we read it---feast on it every day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So something else cool, when I was at the Mission office today meeting my new companion I was able to see a lot of the missionaries going home this move call. Also, my sweet little P. (my first convert in Gaoxiong) snuck up to Taizhong to see Sister Lew off and I got to see her!!! It was awesome! And even cooler her brother is serving as a short term missionary right now!  But it was a fun reunion and I loved seeing my trainer. I love her so much and she is just soo happy. Her mission was a dream for her she says. It definitely had hard times, but she was able to do so much good and she feels so at peace with it.

Well, all for now, but more next week! Not a lot of time with moving...sigh.

--Sister Brooke Smith

July 25, 2011

My Dearest Family!!!

Well, the movecall is coming to an end! This is the last week and the work has been a bit rougher this movecall. But that is just how it goes sometimes. About our investigators, they have all pretty much stopped progressing! It is so hard sometimes to figure out how best to help them keep commitments and make it to church. One thing my companion and I have decided to be more diligent on is writing down the commitments we give and planning very specific follow ups. However, they still have their agency and this Sunday only one of our investigators came to church. We have some really amazing people, but it they are all really really busy. True conversion doesn't occur until people decided to do the little things--pray often, read from the Book of Mormon daily, and attend church every week. Right now only one investigator, L,  is even coming close to doing those three things somewhat regularly.  She has a desire to change and become better.   Sunday when I called to make sure she was going to catch the bus for church, she told me she was making an effort to look extra pretty for church.   I was proud of her for trying. It was pretty cute :). One really good thing that happened was that Sister Devictoria arranged for her to sit down with the bishop after church. We all sat down with him and he was very good to her. His wife helped in a lesson for her at her home before I came here, so he knows a little about her. He asked her about her illness and family life and gave her some commitments. I think if she keeps her commitments and really repents, she should be baptized. We will see though as we keep working with her. But besides her, our other two progressing investigators both did not attend church.
One really great thing that happened this week was we had a great lesson with Y. We had the lesson at the bishop's house with his wife. Our ward missionary came too. I felt like they were really excited about her and tried hard to become friends with her. She  really loves how the church helps her children and she also really loves the free English class on Wednesday. Because she brought her kids, we started a children's class and she invited all her neighbors too!! So now we have five to seven little children that come every week--with two or three moms too! We are planning to have a member and her children come so that they can have a member friend, which hopefully will give them more interest in investigating the church. So we are pretty excited about that! One of the moms even made me and the class bread to share last week! It was great :).
What has really been a focus of late is part member families. We found this cool ward list that lists heads of households and all the members, if they are married, have children, etc. So we can kind of guess who is a part member family from it. We have been mapping them out and visiting the areas with high concentrations of them, and we have found some really great people! We only started last week, but hopefully this week we will see more of the fruit of our labors. Also this has been great at updating the ward's information and getting in touch with less actives. We have called through the ward list asking for referrals, and through that found a lot of less actives. One we set up a time for and it was amazing! She hasn't been to church in awhile and is leaving  in September for a year working abroad. She was thinking that maybe it would be a good time to go back to church and then, bam, Sister Devictoria calls and sets up with her. She really felt it was like God answering her question and she agreed for us to give her information to the missionaries in her new area! It was awesome!! This Sunday we did have quite a few less actives (five) show up at church! It was great--and all had either been visited by us or received a note from us recently. A ward activity is also coming up in one of our wards where they are going to write notes to the less actives, so we are excited for the ward to get more involved.
Well, all for now!! But I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you next week :)
---Sister Brooke Smith

Charity July 18, 2011

Hello Everyone!!

This week has been an interesting one. One of our investigators was making more progress, but her goal dropped this week because she didn't come to church :(. She is such an awesome person, but also very very busy. We had some great lessons this week, but I think she felt a little pressured and she still hasn't been able to keep her commitments. I have been praying about it and feel she needs time to ponder what we've taught. But not too long, just a few days. I have been trying to receive inspiration for her, and I know that as I keep praying and studying the Lord will let me and my companion know how to help her. I did receive the thought to teach her the basics again--obedience. And then on Sunday the topic in Relief Society was obedience and the lesson was so great! Unfortunately, she didn't come to receive it though. But Y. came with her children! I feel like we are starting to develop an actual relationship with her, which is nice! Before we really didn't know all that much about her. Her children come to English and they have invited many of their next door neighbors as well! It is great! They say I am the best teacher ever...hehehe, makes me feel happy!! We sing songs and play games and it really helps us be friends. I hope they are starting to develop some more interest in the gospel as well! We start each class with a prayer and end with one too. Also the last half an hour is a spiritual message. So hopefully we will be able to preach the gospel to the whole neighborhood! It would be great! She also really liked Relief Society this Sunday, which will definitely increase her desire to come back. The ward is really starting to befriend them and take an active role in the work. We have been having a really tough time receiving member referrals and members present at lessons (peikes) but we've made some plans with the ward correlator to change that around--for both wards. This morning we even received a member referral! It was great!

As for the RCLA work, we have started making a list of all the part member families in our wards. This past Sunday there was a beautiful baptism that completed a family. The whole family except the dad were members but 18 years later he received baptism! It was such a joyous occasion and there were many friends and family there to support him and his family. It really inspired Sister Devictoria and I to work harder to have that happen more often :).

In the study realm, I have been able to learn more about making those changes that I need to in my life. I took the challenge from zone conference and really tried to examine my life for those rough parts I need to remove. The one thing I came up with that I would like to share is just that I rediscovered that I need more charity. An increase of charity for God because if I loved God perfectly, I would always obey with exactness and rely on Him with all my heart. I love God, but I know that as I strive to know Him more, thereby increasing my love for Him, I will be able to become the daughter He would like me to be. I will be able to feel the Spirit in greater abundance and work in complete unity with my companion. I love Sister Devictoria and I am so grateful for this chance we have to serve together. She has such a desire to find those with real intent and is a hard working missionary. I was really reminded this week too that Satan wants to destroy the family--the companionships we have because he knows that will diminish our power. I decided to make an extra effort to be in unity with my companion and to cut out all of the thoughts, feelings, actions that could hinder us from being so. As I have tried to do so, I have been able to feel God's love for me so much more often and find that I do the things I should be doing out of habit instead of having to remind myself. I am excited to see what other blessings He has in store for me as I continue to change and become better.

I love you all and hope you have an awesome week!!

--Sister Brooke Smith

The Lord Provides for Us July 11, 2011

This week has been a great one for us! The numbers are a low, but we expect all the work we put in to yield better results over the next few weeks.

I think the coolest thing about this week was that the Lord really provided for us. There were several times when all the plans we had made totally died, and our backup plans died and it was only then that we were able to do what the Lord really had in mind for us. One of the top experiences from this week was when my companion and I were a little lost while trying to contact a referral. We just couldn't find the address, so finally we pulled over and just poured over our map. Then this lady pulled up next to us and asked if we needed help. This somehow lead to us finding out that ten years earlier she and her daughter had been baptized into our church, but had since gone inactive. She had suffered some rough trials, divorce, her daughter being taken by her husband, etc. Now she is living with the father of her eight year old son, both of whom are not baptized. She said that lately she has been thinking on if she should take her son to church since he is eight and should probably be baptized. It really was Heavenly Father reaching out to her that we were there. We took down her information and looked at our ward roster that we had been updating in because we were curious as to if we had visited/called her already. We found that while her name was still on the record, all of the information was wrong! Now we have that information updated and we hope to start meeting with them very soon. This is not going to be an easy return to the church, but I know that the Lord loves her and He will let us know how best to help her come back and to bring her family too.

Lately we have been doing a lot of LA work because the ward asked us to and we have been able to find some great part member families that way. We have found a 17 year old boy, an 18 year old girl, several pairs of parents, husbands, and wives. Currently we are holding FHE with the 18 year old girl every Tuesday. Her mother is inactive due to work, but her dad is not a member either. She also has a nonmember friend come every time! We've only met twice so far, but we know that as we help them feel comfortable in a gospel environment and help the mom regain her testimony through helping us teach, the daughter will have a desire for baptism. We are still working on how best to help the 17 year old, C. His father died just barely over a year ago, leaving his Vietnamese mother to take care of their two children. The mom is the member, but inactive because she works every day to support her family. She has such faith and is working on preparing her husband's temple work information. Her daughter is also a member, but the son felt a loyalty to this father, who is Buddhist. Now that it has been a year, we are hoping that as we visit the whole family and bring the spirit into their home, he will have a desire to come to church. He is just the sweetest little kid, adores his sister and is so kind to his mother. He was taught by the Elders before, but felt too much pressure and asked them not to come back. But he loves singing with us and we hope to hold some family scripture time with them and get him reading the Book of Mormon. We are also making postcards and sending them out to all the LA on our ward lists. We just made one real one and copied it a bunch, so it hasn't taken up too much time. But it is nice and with it we hope to contact all of them! It just takes so long to write little notes when we go and visit them, so this way we will be able to not waste as much time.

Our two week Cs are P and Y. P is awesome and brings a notebook when we have lessons together! Her problem is time--she is a manger of an insurance company. She is very down to business and straightforward, so we gave her a baptismal planner with things we need to teach on what days if she is going to hit her baptismal goal. We recently discovered when her break at work is and were able to have a sit down with her there last week. Our problem is we are not able to find peikes for that...but we are hoping to do so this week. She also has a word of wisdom problem (tea and business) but said she was willing to try this week and her word is gold. She has never not kept a commitment...yet. We have faith in her!

As for Y,we are probably going to have to go a bit slower with her...she is just now barley starting to believe in a god and is not the best at keeping her commitments. She likes Church and English for her kids---who absolutely love it. We recently discovered her children's dance teacher goes to a different ward and so we are going to try and have her peike for us sometime this week. I think that with a friend she might be more willing to experiment upon the word.

Also, we have this awesome family! We found them while tracking and they have been meeting with the Jehovah Witnesses every week for two years, but haven't felt like they have been able to answer their questions, so never joined. The father is the main investigator--his 15 year old daughter is a little interested too. She goes to a Catholic school and so believes more in their doctrine. The mom and son come to our English classes though :). We met the family two weeks ago and the dad has already read up to chapter 22 of 1 Nephi! He reads to find questions and sets aside time to read every day! We asked the Elders to help us with him while we work with the daughter since their schedules don't always match up--which doesn't allow us to see the dad as often as he has questions! We have a lot of hope for their family!!

In the gospel study realm, I have loved reading about Knowledge. It is comforting to me that the Lord has promised us over and over again that as long as we ask and do our part, having faith and an sincere heart, he will answer us and through the Spirit we can know all we have to. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what I am doing, or how I can help our investigators. The area is different and it is forcing me to really rely on God. I have to show forth the faith and then the miracles will come!! So that is what I am trying to do.

All for now! I love you all sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much!! So happy to hear all about your adventures!

Always in my prayers,

---Sister Brooke Smith

Taibei Temple! July 6, 2011

Hey you all!!

So I just got back from the Taibei Temple!!! That is why preparation day was on Wednesday instead of the usual Monday. Sorry!!!! I had such an amazing experience. I was really able to feel so renewed! Before the session started I was able to do some work  in Chinese only! It was way cool. But for the most part it was in English :). Which is really nice because the Chinese is super advanced. There was just such a feeling of love and support. I love being in the temple and being able to focus on what matters most. Also on the whole bus ride up and down (three hours ish each way) we watched excellent church movies. They bring the spirit so easily and renewed my testimony of Joseph Smith, the pioneers and all saints who chose Christ. God loves us all so much and I am so honored to be a part of this magnificent work.

This week has been pretty good! Getting mail is such a highlight! I have been really blessed to receive a lot of mail lately! I love it!! It makes me a bit slower at writing everyone back though. So be patient! Lol.

Well, we are just getting this area all set up, trying to get to know our wards and serve them the best we can. It is a little slow in the beginning, but it will pick up. We have a few really awesome progressing investigators too!

One is keeping all the commitments we give her! Now we have to start working on things like the Word of Wisdom and Tithing. She only has time once or twice a week to meet with us, but we are going to try and see if she can meet a little more often. She is a week C right now and we have a lot of ground to cover. She is way great though and I believe that as we use the Spirit to remind her of these eternal truths, she will continue to progress! She is so great.

Also, we have another who I think she is a little bit on the slower side of the progression process, but she is still making progress. She says she is slowly starting to believe in God. Her children LOVE church soo much, so hopefully that will keep her coming back for the present. I have been trying to more prayerfully plan for her with my companion, and I believe we will receive inspiration for her.

This week we have also worked really hard to visit our ward list. We have so many less actives that need to be brought back. We have been able to come with some ideas, such as holding FHE with them, coming over for family scripture reading time once a week, etc. We are hoping to help them establish the righteous patterns they need to develop to keep their testimonies burning bright. We are expecting to see some of the fruit from our labors on Sunday!

As for my gospel study, I just grow to love the Book of Mormon more and more. The scriptures hold a very important role in gaining personal revelation. I am starting to learn how to focus in on that more for my investigators. I am working on also having qualifying of the companionship of the Spirit. I thought that the leadership meeting was so great for that!! I am excited to work on those commitments and improve my effectiveness.

Well, all for now!

Love you all so much!!!

Sister Brooke Smith

It is another beautiful day over here in Taizhong! June 27, 2011

Happy Monday! It is another beautiful day over here in Taizhong! This past week it has been pretty rainy--which we loved because it meant cooler weather! Luckily we were able to stay pretty dry most of the time too. The one time it was really pouring we pulled over to talk to some people under the overhang of a building and said a prayer together with them and it stopped raining! WOOT! They weren't interested in the gospel...yet! But it was a cool experience nonetheless. I am pretty much in love with my new area :). Sister Devictoria is the COOLEST! She has been a little down with a cold this past week, but that never stopped her. She is on the mend now too, so that is good. We just have so much fun together doing the work and she has such a desire to bring souls unto Christ that will endure. There is a lot of reactivating work to be done here and new investigator side of things is a bit down. But since we are both pretty new to the area we feel like we've been given a new start. So we are going to redo how missionary work has been done in this area! They haven't had a baptism in about five months too--we are definitely changing that as well. We know that as we work hard and are obedient and worthy, the Lord will bless us. We have already met some awesome people who we would love to prepare for baptism. We have also got some amazing ward missionaries here! They are way hard working and excited to see the work go forth. We can only be truly successful as missionaries when our members help us along the way! Member referrals are GOLD.

Some fun things that happened this week was that we had a little Dan Jones Night of our own last night! We parked our bikes and waited at an intersection for the light to turn red. Then we would take our BOM and bear our testimonies and invite people to pull over and talk to us. It was our first time doing something like that and it was really freaky at first. But we prayed and while it wasn't terribly successful at first, we started learning how best to do it and I think the next time we do it it will go even better. We had a few people say they would come to church...we'll see next Sunday how that goes! It really just helped us focus and pumped up to open our mouths to everyone and invite all to come unto Christ. We also had a lot of chocolate that day...maybe that had something to do with all the extra energy? :) Sister Devictoria has this HUGE tub of chocolate ice cream in our freezer... the Elders ordered it for us from like a factory or something. It is HUGE and DELICIOUS. Yep, we are going to have do some extra exercise while we are here. Lol.

We love our district so much :). We have an interesting district--one pair of Elders that now cover Dakeng/Beitun, one pair of Sisters (us) that cover Dakeng/Beitun and the office Elders! The office Elders are awesome :). Elder Hanick, who is an office Elder, is our district leader and is pretty great. We are excited to revitalize this area and see some success.

It feels a little like Sister Devictoria and I are restarting this area (as we are both pretty new). We have started finding some really great people. Sister Devictoria is super lihai and already knows the area really really well. We have been working to open our mouths and preach the gospel to everyone. We have been trying out many different finding methods since we need to rebuild the investigator pool. So far the most successful source of new investigators have been our received referrals! We are so grateful :). In our ward, our ward corrector wanted us to think of a missionary activity we could set up for the ward and we have come up with some fun and effective ideas. When I spent three days with the Yuanshan sisters last move call they held their mission activity and I learned a lot from them. There are some parts that went really well and some that were a bit rough. Having seen how it went I think Sister Devictoria and I are going to do a similar activity but adapted to our situation. So hopefully that will happen in the next several weeks. We really need to get our wards involved in the work!! The wards are full of great people, but they are still working on becoming unified and warm. Through service they can accomplish these goals so we are excited to help them along their way.

I loved meeting the Dakeng ward yesterday--they were so great! One of the areas we need to work on is getting our RCLAs to church. The same as my last area, there are many less actives in our wards. We visited one cute family the other day and I absolutely love them. But they absolutely loved us and Sister Devictoria had this great lesson on how every part of the gospel (reading the Book of Mormon daily, listening to the prophets, family prayer etc) are critical to protecting our families. They seemed to understand.

As for my gospel study, lately I have been restudying conference and I love it so much. Every time it just lifts me up. I reread Elder Uchtdorf's talk and I really liked how the last section is all about how we need to share the gospel with others. I am going to copy the Chinese version and drop off a few copies to some families in the ward as we meet them. Also this past Sunday I had such a good experience in Gospel Principles. I really felt spiritually fed and found some areas that I can improve in. The lesson was on the Second Coming and that is not a topic I have been thinking much about. But I was reminded how important it really is--because we need to prepare for it. Preaching the gospel to all is a part of that--a very important part. I felt God's love for me and how much He needs me to help do His work in these Latter Days. It renewed my testimony.

Well, all for now but Sister Devictoria and I are going to have a great week and we are soo excited to see the blessings the Lord has in store for us!

  Sister Brooke Smith

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sorry, 2 posts on same day. Just noticed I didn't get last weeks on, so if you missed it, I just posted it before this one!

Hey ALL!!!!
So I just moved to Taizhong today!!!! My new area is called Beitun and our chapel is right next to the mission house. It is so fun! Our district leaders are the office elders! And my new companion is Sister Devictoria. I actually met her my first full day in Gaoxiong. She was serving close in Jiayi and Sister Lew's companion was in a trio with them. They all came down and attended W's baptism that first Saturday I was here. Then second move call she took Sister Bray's spot as junior in the area right next to mine---so we were in the same zone. And now we are companions! She said she totally called it too, so that is really fun! I love her so much and am so excited to serve with her! My new area hasn't had any baptisms in a long while apparently, so I am excited to see things change as we are diligient, obedient and worthy missionaries. Also, I am going to be able to go the Taibei Temple in three weeks! I am so EXCITED. It will be awesome.
This week has been a pretty much AMAZING one. On Monday we had just a nice relaxed preparation day and on Monday we had sister exchanges. I love those!! I exchanged with just the sisters right next door (literally...they live like five minutes away since we don't live in our area). The new senior over there is Sister Brownell---who I absolutely ADORE. She is just the best person/ missionary ever and I loved loved loved being with her. We worked hard together and felt so much joy in the work. It was just what I needed. Then, when we exchanged back on Wednesday afternoon Sister Cooper she had got the call that morning (usually it comes at night, but she found out a bit early) that she would be going trainer! Wow, both of my companions left me that way! So I got kicked out...again. But it was awesome because come Friday morning Sister Cooper went to Taizhong and I went to stay with Sister Brownell and Sister Morey!!! I loved it soo much. We were a great companionship. It was full of unity and love and we were able to find some really great people together. Plus we just laughed and had fun the whole time.
Well, I have to go soon, but here are the highlights:
*We saved a bat...kind of :).
*We made our own dumplings for dinner at this vendor's was awesome and she ended up coming to church on Sunday too!!!
*We made awesome brownies for a HUGE ward missionary activity and the activity was a success!
*We learned and sang a Taiyu song (aboriginal language of the Taiwanese) called "Jesus' Love".
*We sang hymns on our bikes together.
*We had compliment circles at night before bed.
*We recorded on their tape-journals at night!
*We are best friends :). I love them.
It is soooooooooo great, and they all live in Utah!!! So watch out, we are going to be best friends for sure. They are just so great. I have some fun pictures from this morning :). Might show up on Sister Morey (Amie)'s facebook, so go check for that.
Well, time to go but I love you all so much!!!
-------Sister Brooke Smith


Dear Family!!
This week has been a pretty great for me. We had a beautiful baptism on Friday. It was so great. Our investigator (now new convert) did so well and afterwards came out wearing the most sharp clothes and we were soo proud! She also bore a beautiful testimony of Christ. She absolutely loves "Finding Faith in Christ" and has strong faith in him. Her confirmation on Sunday also went very well and she was warmly received into the Fengshan ward. This past Sunday we worked more with the ward to have our investigators/new members feel welcomed and accepted. It worked really well and it made for a happy Sabbath. Q (who will be baptized this Saturday) came in a dress with nylons!!!! She even had some makeup on. It was her way of showing to God that he was important to her. Sister Cooper had been prompted to remind her to wear a skirt on Sunday and it turned out to have a really big impact. Because Sister Q wore a dress, her parents-in-law asked her where she was going. She was like, I am going to church. And I am going EVERY Sunday. I am soo proud of her and I know that Sister Cooper was inspired so that she would have the courage to be honest with her extended family. Having already overcome the family opposition, she will have more courage to endure. We are so excited for her baptism and enduring conversion.
Something else cool that happened this week is that we had a killer meeting with the relief society president. We had asked her for a list of five people in the R.S. we could go visit for her. So at the meeting we went over them and also discussed needs with her. She also asked for updates on our investigators so she could prepare the R.S. for them on Sunday. That is why Sunday went to so well! A happy sign of improvement was that sooo many ward members went to the temple on the ward temple trip this Saturday. It was amazing and I feel that there was a lot of bonding on that trip. Hopefully they will keep it up!
As for my gospel study this week, I have started doing something pretty fun! For my study on virtue I started going through the new young women's value of Virtue and completing (as much as is practical) the value experiences. It is so great and has helped strengthen my testimony not only of virtue but of the young women's program as well. I have also been studying the nine principles on how the gospel blesses families. It really has helped me a lot and I keep seeing so many ways in which I can improve. As I approach God in prayer and ask for his help in overcoming my weaknesses, I know he will help me.
All for now but definitely excited for this next week! Can't believe it is almost MOVECALL. I find out this Saturday if I move or not!!!!!! WEIRD!
Love you all!!!
---Sister Brooke Smith

Monday, June 6, 2011

Island Adventure

So today I sent out my email so late because I had an ISLAND ADVENTURE! It was sooo great!! Some of our new members  set up a young single adult activity and invited our whole district to come too. So one pair of elders and two pairs of sisters (Sister Cooper/me, Sister Lew/Lee) went and it was so great. It was kind of crazy because we had to bike to a train station to catch a 6:30am train to Gaoxiong, where we had to catch a bus that rode for an hour, where we went on a half hour ferry ride to Xiao Liuqiu Island! It was RIDICULOUS...and fun. Luckly I did a bit of letter writing amidst all the traveling. Then our friends all rented motorbikes and we had to rent bikes...sigh. The bikes were waaaaaaaaay was definitely not comfortable since my knees kicked up super high and the gears were not working. But we had fun with that since all the bikes in Taiwan seem to be that way besides ours...which are imported. Hahaha. So the island was suupper hilly and there was no way to bike up them, so we had to walk our bikes about half the time too. But we had a great time of it and the beach was AMAZING. So beautiful.  Anyway, we basically biked a loop around the island stopping at various geological attractions (reminded me slightly of Yelio, mama).
Great fun in the sun...I put on sunscreen several times but still managed to get a bit burned....sigh. Oh well, I have this super cool watch line now :)
So we have two baptisms coming up!! One this Friday and one next Friday. It will be so great. The first is so cute and it will be so great for her to have the support of the members. She is great and says that whenever she is at church, reading, or praying she receives a clarity of mind and we have seen it happen. I know that Lord will help when we allow Him too. It is so great.
The second is our lovely Q. She is a miracle woman for sure, and after church this Sunday she was even more ready for baptism. Because we need to wait for her to attend church three times, her baptism has to wait until next Saturday. One cool thing is that after passing her interview, she went to some Christian meeting and told all her friends she was going to be baptized. They asked her at what church and when she told them the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints they all told her we were not Christians. They are a group of many different sects, but one sent their minister to visit her and spent FIVE HOURS trying to convince her she was wrong. But she was so awesome! She said she thanked him for his concern but knew by the Holy Ghost testifying it to her, that our church is the only true church and that she must join herself to Christ. It was amazing and I am so impressed by her strength, Such a miracle.
Hope Kat has such a blast at Trek!
Sister Brooke Smith

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sorry this is late....Da jia hao!

Da jia hao!!

So this week has been pretty crazy but really good. I learned a lot about Charity this past month---it has been much needed.

Fun things from this past week:

We had a special mission meeting in Taizhong on Friday where Elder Jensen taught us how to become better missionaries. He is so amazing! Funny thing is, we were tricked by our zone leaders--they said we had to be at the train station to catch the bus at 3:30am and that the bus would leave at 4am. But actually...the bus didn't even leave to 4:30AM !!!!!!!!!!! But other Elders were there at 3:30am so we had company. Sigh, slightly grumpy since we missed out on some sleep, but the bus wasn't too terrible...except one Elder snored like (name removed to protect the innocent) was bad. The meeting wasn't until 9am, but we only got there like an hour early. They took pictures, so hopefully I will be able to send them to you soon!! But the whole experience was so amazing and I was able to see all of the missionaries in our entire zone! It was great!! Sister Bray is doing soo great and all of my little MTC family was there. I met the new missionaries that came last move call and it was so great. I love Sister Afflick, who is from Eagle River..I think..and she is always in the same big meetings that I go to! So it was awesome.

Saturday night we watched a broadcast from Taibei! Elder Bednar was there and they did this SUPER cool thing where all the stake centers in Taiwan were hooked up so anyone could ask questions all over Taiwan!!! Someone in my old ward (in Daliao) asked a question and it was soo cool to see how it showed up immediately on the broadcast. It was a special q&a session with Elder Jensen and Elder Watson (and their wives) there with the Bednars. It was especially for the youth and singles, but everyone that wanted to could come. It was AMAZING and I will have to write more about it next week. But Elder Bednar was like the perfect companion, always yielding to the other speakers who were moved by the spirit. He also sometimes delegated and it was so great. We learned about marriage (the first q...hehe), study habits, how to reactivate less actives and work better with the members. So great right?

Last night we had such a fun ward activity too! It was like a potluck...but all of it was CHINESE! YAY! So awesome and so delicious. We had some investigators there too and it was just such a great time. We have really been trying to build ward unity so it was awesome.

Then the third thing is the story of our first meet with Q, , taught all the lessons after church she passed baptismal interview and going to be baptized 6/11 miracle story! It is in my president's letter mostly, but more next week for sure.

Outta time, but loves you!!!!!!
---Sister Smith

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fengshan and Sick Companion

Hey all!!!!
So the first week of my third move call has come to and end! Wow, where does the time go over here????
Life is great--it has definitely been a week of learning and growing for me. Sister Cooper is absolutely amazing and we are taking her up to the cabin in Alaska sometime for sure. Hopefully I can send some pictures soon :). Well, she has been pretty sick this week and we had a lot of fun (as in none at all) going to a Taiwanese doctor for her. But she is on the mend and we are figuring out our area (we split to just Fengshan and I really don't know the area all that and directions...hehe). I am really excited to see how this move call works. We are excited to work more with the ward and to actually get to know them.

I really love being a missionary here and I know the Lord is always watching out for us. Wow...this is like the first week I haven't had more to say than time left....sigh. Sorry, life has been a bit different and it is definitely causing me to have to rely on my Savior more and to depend on Him. But I know I am here for a reason and that I have some things to learn this move call and I am so excited for it. We have had some pretty great times already. Yesterday was just so much fun. Sister Lee (Sister Lew's new trainee) is the cutest thing ever and she treats me like my little sisters do!!!  We love having a four sister apartment now that we have gotten all the space figured out.

Well, love you all so much and more for sure next week!

Sister Brooke Smith

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cold Stone Icecream and New Companion!

So this week has been an interesting one indeed!!! On Tuesday I had sister exchanges and went to Xiaogang. It is not too far away so I only had to take the MRT (the subway) to get there. But I had to ride the other sister's bike (we switched bikes....good think my bike didn't explode on her!) and she is a bit shorter than me! The seat was as high up as it could go too! Lol, it was alright though. My companion for the day was Sister Petersen and she is awesome. She should have gone home today, but has extended for an extra move call. It was fun being in a new area and for lunch we went to this mall and had Cold Stone!!! Soo good! Then we just biked all over and had some great lessons. That night (after 9:30pm of course :) ) she made me smores and we just had such a fun time sharing mission experiences and getting to know each other. We switched back on Wednesday morning and it was great to be back with Sister Lew. That night Pres. Bishop called and said for sure we would be splitting-- she is training again and I am staying over Fengshan. So we are all going to be in one old apartment. Which means no moving to me! But space :(   Lol, it will be GREAT. And my new comp, Sister Cooper (who I will meet in like two hours!) is a legend.  She is just a stellar missionary! So I am super SUPER super excited.
Well, I don't have too much time today since I wrote a lot of smaller notes. But I love you all so much and will have tons to write next week!

Gospel is TRUE!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

French Mexican Food in Taiwan!

So this week I have been kind of sick, but the Lord has really been taking care of me and I've had the energy to do all I need to! I also passed off two Chinese tests this week!! Three more to go and then I am done with my Phase One for Missionary Mandarin or whatever they call it. There are three phases in total. Keeps us studying hard :).

Something fun I forgot to write about last week was that we had a member from our Daliao ward have us teach a friendfrom Ni geria! She came with us and it was so great. He is Catholic but hasn't gone for a while. He seems excited to read the Book of Mormon and is such a kind man. I know that as he really puts forth an effort to draw closer to God, he will receive a special witness of the truth of our message. We are handing him over to the Elders though since he is a he. But it has been fun to teach in English :).

We ate burritos on Tuesday!! SO GOOD. There is a French man that married a Taiwanese woman that lives in our zone who set up a Mexican food shop. So delicious. It is outside of our area (and always closed on Mondays) so I have only heard the stories of its deliciousness. But the sisters in that area offered to pick some up for us before district training meeting and it was awesome! Definitely different, but soo good.

Also, we have been given soo many random things this week that it inspired me to keep a journal on just the things people have given me! So far it includes popcorn (thrown into my basket at a stop light), beef jerky, lemons, and stick notes. The things we get "song"ed as I like to say "song" = to give.

So funny story for the week---How HDX and my skirt met. Sounds creepy? Well, it was!

Well, we pulled up to their house and the mosquitoes started to swarm. Sister Lew bent down to spray my legs to save me from the mosquitoes and HDX thought I had hurt my legs. So he rushed over (he is like half blind too...and doesn't speak full is mixed with Taiyu) and started feeling my leg and pulling up my skirt. I just freaked out cause I had no idea what was going on, but all I did was like go white and kept fighting him with the hem of my skirt. SOO FUNNY! Then Sister Lew translated and we both were like, Oh. It was hilarious and no harm done--just an old innocent old man, but it was soooooooo awkward!!! Oh well, the things of life.

Hmm...well, it appears as if the time has already come and gone, but I love you all so much and more later! We have some awesome investigators and I am excited to see how the Lord uses us in his hands :).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Special Mission Conference

Hey There everyone!!!
So this week has been pretty great! We've had quite a few meetings though, so our lessons were a little down. We only had 28 this week, but we know we can improve! I passed off my Phase One lesson #2 evaluation! YAY! And my awesome district leader, Elder Adams from Colorado, helped me set goals to push myself a bit more...and I will be doing lesson #3's evaluation tomorrow. YIKES. I can do it though!
Then on Thursday I had my first ZONE CONFERENCE! It was great! We did something a bit different from the usual (I have been told)--we had a master teaching lab. We had six stations and were taught how to improve different aspects of missionary work at each station and given a few minutes to role play and implement the new knowledge. It was great!! We can already see a difference in our work and I just so glad they gave me all of these awesome tools right at the beginning of my mission. Definitely a blessing. I was able to see Sister Miller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was one of my companions at the MTC (along with Sister Pomeroy--we were in a trio). It was soo fun and she is doing great. I was also able to see Sister Bray. I just love her so much. Our mission president, President Bishop gave us an inspiring lesson on the Atonement. It was beautiful and the spirit was so strong.
Then on Friday we had an investigator, D. H. pass a baptismal interview!!! She will be getting baptized on the 30th!!!! I AM SOO PUMPED! She came to three sessions of conference and is just GOLDEN. She is a beautiful daughter of God.
On Saturday  (the picture I sent) we had this AWESOME special mission conference with two of the best Church Historians. They are absolutely amazing and so spiritual--they also happen to have both served missions in Japan (shout out to Dad!). We were able to just ask them any question we wanted and they spoke to us about it. Then our area seventy (he said the closing prayer in General Conference on Sunday) Elder Kent Watson, bore a beautiful testimony on how serving in Gaoxiong over 48 years ago has changed his life!!!!
Well, I am out of time, but I love you all so much and I know that God is really watching out for all of us so much!