Monday, February 21, 2011

Getting "songed" & Mission Goal to Become a More Graceful Bike Rider

Another P-day is here :).  Life has been so great here lately. The work is hard and I am still having a little trouble biking with a skirt, but all is good :). The Taiwanese people are so amazing and generous. Every time we visit people we end up getting "songed" (given) little presents--mostly food. The other night we went by a former investigator's house to see how she was doing and her next door neighbor came over and talked to me (my companion was working the phones since no one had come to the door). She is probably mom's age and super cute. I shared the good news with her and we talked about her family. We teach an English class here every Wednesday night as our service for the week and her kids might come! She wouldn't give me her phone number because she said she isn't home much, but I know where she lives...hehehe. She said a friend of hers is of our faith and she really enjoyed singing our hymns. Sister Lew was finished with the phones so we said good bye and she went into her house. While I was unlocking my bike and getting ready to take off, she ran up to her windows (and all the outer windows are just metal bars...kind of weird...but that is how it is!) and stuck her hands through with little treats she wanted to give me. It was hilarious. The kindness of people you talk to for like two minutes...quite amazing. I really want to go back and sing hymns with her sometime this week!!!
Speaking of singing, Sister Lew has the most AMAZING voice--she sings beautiful soprano and alto. So she usually splits off to the alto part and lets me sing soprano (since I am not the best alto singer...yet!). We sound amazing together and it always brings the spirit so quickly! I love my companion!!! She is seriously the coolest trainer ever :). She is so encouraging and really motivates me to be better every day!! We have so much in common too. We are both pretty goofy sometimes, which makes life so much more enjoyable.
Remember how I don't even live in my zone? Yeah, we actually live in an area that on one side is one zone and on the other is another zone...and both aren't ours! Lol, we are also over two wards--which happen to be like forty five minutes biking distance apart. Also, we have two huge death bridges we bike over and on the way home at night we go through this tunnel of DOOM! Lol, it is this little side tunnel for motoche's (motorbikes) and bikes. It dips way down and then has a huge hill up..on both ends. So between biking through that and having motoche's try and squeeze past us--I am grateful for life!!! I know the Lord is giving me help--I am so accidents prone, but so far no bike accidents! I guess we'll just have to see about next week eh? Lol. So while biking super fast to get to our appointments on time and across our whole area, Sister Lew will always say, "Here we go!" in that little mariocart voice...I think Mario himself says that in the game (mariocart racing) and makes the sound the game makes when you get a is awesome! So we just pretend like we are in a video game and we have found we have super biking powers! Like we were totally going to be late to this appointment, we were like half hour a way and she came fifteen minutes early. So we "level up-ed" and got there in like 18 minutes. It was ridiculously awesome! My bum is still sore all the time, but we are adjusting!! What with the running three times a week and the daily bikathons, it is pretty sweet. Luckily we have an elevator up to our apartment! Lol, whenever we hit the stairs we can feel allllll of our sore spots...and they are many.
Another funny thing having to do with biking (and this will definitely sound like me) is that my bike pedals have these screws on them to like help your feet grip better or something....but they just eat me! So my legs are pretty.  I have gotten a lot better, but the first week I would be sitting down in a lesson and look down and see congealed blood on my leg and a new wound. Lol. One day (it was a super hot day too) I got two little wounds that just wouldn't stop bleeding. So Sister Lew whipped out the band aids and neosporine and patched me up best she could. We went into this investigators house and they were like--what happened?? I looked down and the wound right below the knee had like completely bled through my band was just like a red patch of -aid. Lol. Kind of gross. So I told them my bike likes to "chi" me (eat) and they laughed pretty hard. We went on with the lesson and I totally forgot about it. That night, during companionship prayer, I got up from kneeling and we did our planning. Then later on I looked at the floor and was like, WOW!!! Sister Lew, why is there smeared blood on the floor??? Then we both realized it was from when I had been! That is my gross story for the week. I made a mission goal to become a more graceful bike rider, and I actually had the assistants call me and ask what my mission goals were (spiritual, physical, intellectual, and key indicator) and I when I told him that he just busted up laughing and said, "I know that when we set goals and make plans, the Lord will help us. He will help you accomplish that good goal." It is so true though, when we set goals and make plans to work towards them and then present those plans to the Lord, he will help us achieve them. We just have to do our part.
So in this mission when we contact people at red lights (we literally jump off our bikes and just go and talk to every one while the light is red...and even sometimes when it turns green--it is a good thing the traffic laws here are like NON existent. People still run red lights alllllll the time...I see accidents at least three times a week--but don't worry, we always follow the traffic laws and try and just pull people over to the side of the road so we can talk to them more) we also give them a baptismal goal right away. So the way it works is we have week A B C D  and E investigators. We give them a goal six weeks out and once they have at least heard of baptism (it helps clarify expectations from the start) they become a week E (if we add them...which means that we have set up with them, taught at least two principles, gotten their phone number and extended the invitation to be baptized). Then if they come to church that week, they "progress" and become a week D, so on and so forth until week A, which means they are being baptized that week. It is pretty great.
We currently have two week Bs!!!!!!! They are husband and wife too. The Cai jaiting (family) is sooo amazing. Sister Lew contacted them on her bike a few days before we became companions, and then we taught them together our first Saturday there. It has been wonderful to see them progressing in the gospel. They have two little baby tots (as Sister Lew calls children under the age of...18 :P) who are five and one. So cute! We want sooo bad for them to become an eternal family. Last night we taught them the word of wisdom--which can be a hard lesson to take since EVERYONE drinks tea here. But they actually took it soo well! It was pretty hilarious though because right when we sat down Brother Cai was telling us (not sure why) how drinking a little whiskey every once in a while is good for your health or something, and I just started giggling a little and Sister Lew was like, well, actually, we have a new commandment to tell you and he was like, "I can't drink alcohol?" It was so great and he totally accepted the invitation to live the Word of Wisdom. It was cute because he was like, well, at least I don't drink beer or cha (tea) very often anyway, even if it is good for your health! Lol, the Lord has been preparing them for a long time.
That morning when we had been planning for their lesson we both had the feeling it was time to teach them that commandment, and we had the faith to go forward and do and the Lord blessed us! It was soo great. The husband is still waiting to have some kind of "miracle" before he will accept baptism, but we still have a week to go and we pray for them every day soo many times. We have been teaching that the sign doesn't come until after the trial of your faith. They both read the Book of Mormon daily and have been praying individually (and maybe as a family) so I know they will receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true.
Well, I love you all so much! Today is "Power Cleaning Day" and we have to spend the whole day cleaning--it is a once a year thing. so I don't know if I will have any time to write letters at all....kind of sad since I haven't gotten any mail over here yet! It is always sad to see an empty mailbox...sigh :P.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Letter From Taiwan-bicycles and proselyting

It is my first pday on the island Formosa. Things are crazy and we get to work RIGHT AWAY. It has been a whirlwind experience, but since we have been working hard, so many miracles are already happening.
So we landed in Taipei safe and sound and then off to the buses it was for us. Luggage actually went pretty well--after making it through the airports I condensed everything to the two big bags and one little one. It was shweet. On the bus ride down to Taizhong...which was perhaps like three hours? We left the airport around 11pm and made it into bed around 2am. The mission president and his wife (plus two assistants) came to pick us up--I think you got to see those pictures :). It was such a happy time. The plane ride went really well and life is so happy. On the bus the mission president kept us up the whole time by effectively using the time as a get to know you time plus TONS of instructions about Taiwan stuff. I don't know if I even really remember that much...but it was great.
Since I was added on after everyone else, I sat by myself on the planes (the better to talk to people :P, which I tried to do), and I actually got split up with the group and stayed with the Mission president and his wife. Two other Taiwanese sisters came with me too. The others went to stay with a senior missionary couple. Apparently they all had rickety bunk beds and shared bathrooms. I was soo pampered!!! I had my own room--with a king sized bed and my own personal bathroom. Yep. It was great for those two nights. That won't be happening again for a long long time I expect.
It was so fun staying with the President and his wife--they are such amazing people. Truly like our family here in the mission field. On the second morning the two Taiwanese sisters (Sister Gao and Sister Liu) were invited down for a little breakfast (before going out to breakfast with the group) of leftover delicious fruit. It was fun getting to know the President and his wife more. The two Taiwanese sisters are so cute and so fun. They taught me tons of Chinese and helped me practice. So I felt really blessed to be with them for that time.
So even though we went to bed around 2am we were up by 5:55am and out the door by 6:15am! In this mission we run for 30mins three times a week. To break us in, the first three days of the mission here were all running days. And since I was staying at the Mission home, it ended up being more like 45-60 minutes of running the first two days. Yep, totally killed but I did it running without walking--which was the goal. My face became really red, as it always does, but the Taiwanese sisters just thought it was cute :P. So what with running and biking I am hoping to get into shape pretty quick...hopefully.
Thursday night was INSANE!!!! Lol, after going out this delicious dinner we all went into the middle of this night market (there are 16 new missionaries--6 are from Taiwan!!--and then 15 missionaries met us there) and did what the President likes to refer to as a Dan Jones Night. Now, if you don't know Dan Jones you had better read up on him. It was actually way awesome because he became a hero to me at the MTC. His picture is on the first page of PMG. He baptized like 7000 people in Wales. Read his story--it is inspiring. The main thing you need to know about him is that he is absolutely FEARLESS. So what they had us do was stand on a wooden box in the middle of the nightmarket, shaking a BOM in one hand and preaching about it with all our might for like a minute. It was so scary, and at first I was like, are we really going to do this??? Is this even effective? But I gained a testimony of following our leaders who have been called to lead us. As I stood up there and yelled my testimony out in garbled Chinese, I felt the Spirit and my fears faded away.
After that I was yanked away by a sister missionary and we went on splits to contact. We ran all over that night market, talking to all the females we could. The mission here has a rule--we talk to EVERYBODY. You'll hear more about how that is implemented later on. But for sisters, we try just to talk to females since those are who we can teach. If we do end up contacting a man, we give that as a referal to one of the Elders. Anyway, at first it was hard and uncomfortable, but as soon as I learned to just bear simple testimony we had such success!! The last four people we were able to talk to and get information from were so sweet. President Bishop says that after this activity they almost always get at least one baptism!! How cool is that?? So that night we got twelve referrals :). All the new missionaries headed back and we counted up how many referrals we had been able to get. 
Another cool thing about this mission is that we have been asked to immediately extend the baptismal commitment. So you talk to them, teach them two principles, get their info, find out which area they live in, attempt to set up a time to meet with them (or invite them to church) and then try and commit them to baptism! It is soooo insanely awesome! Some people have no idea what baptism is, but others are like, well yeah, if I feel it is true, on this date I will be baptised! We give them a date six weeks out. And if we do all those steps, that also counts as an on the street lesson.  
So as a whole, we had obtained 300 referals~ which with our logistics would mean about two baptisms. Pretty shweet indeeeed.
Ok, so although I do have an hour to do e-mails on the mission, I don't have a way to print off the e-mails beforehand. Keep writing though--I love it! Plus next time I probably won't have quite as much to write about since everything is new this time.
Anyway, I have about five minutes left and I haven't even told you about the ACTUAL Mission! First off, send my appologies to my friends who didn't get letters last week....I had like ZERO time to write any letters and I really don't know how many I will be able to write today. It has been insane getting everything set up. So I bet you are all wondering....where is Sister Smith now???
On Friday I was given my new companion's name in a red envelope--so Chinese :). She is Sister Lew from CA!!! She is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay awesome and I love her so much. Her mom is originally from Taipei and her dad's family is from Mainland China but he was raised in CA. So she is Asain but only started learning Chinese at BYU (she has a year left after the mission and wants to become a doctor--super smart woman she is!). She has been out for a year now and her Chinese is so amazing. I feel like she is a native. Anyway, she is a super good runner and helps me make and obtain awesome goals already. We are staying in her same area--Daliao. We are the VERY SOUTHERN tip of Taiwan--in Gaoxiong (Kaoshung, however white people spell it :P). We actually have two areas...kind of. We are working with two chapels anyway--Daliao and Fengshan. AND we don't even live in our area ! It is pretty exciting stuff. All of this means that we do a LOT of biking. It is like 45 minutes between the two chapels alone. Sigh. The first day was way rough--I was on a borrowed bike that was ridiculously hard in the seat and had no gears and only one working break. Also, because the seat wouldn't go any higher my knees like came up to my chest------such a bad thing for a girl in a skirt. So I totally flashed all of Taiwan my first night, especially with all the wind we have here. But I got my new bike the next afternoon and I LOVE IT. Keeps me comfy and safe and covered :). But I am soo sore from the other bike. The Lord has blessed us richly for our efforts. My first morning on the mission we had the baptism of Sister Wan. She is amazing and has been confirmed since. Ok, really out of time, but know things are great and that I am having the best time hopping off and on my bike at red lights and contacting everyone!!!! It is great!
Sister Smith

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sister Smith is in Taiwan!

Brooke called from L.A., on the 8th as she was waiting for her flight to Taiwan.  We only got a few minutes to talk, but it was wonderful to hear her voice.  She will spend a few days in Taipei first.  The mission president sent a group pic and email saying that she arrived safely.  Can't wait for her first letter from Taiwan! 

Last Blog from MTC

Hey all!!
So tomorrow (February 8th) it is off to Taiwan with this Sister Smith!!! Packing and getting ready today has been quite crazy, to say the least. However, all the bags are packed and I have a  super Huge personal item I hope they will allow....hopefully. The problem is the language materials they gave us come up to a whopping 30pounds. Yep. So with two bags at 50 and one carry on that HAS TO BE 15 pounds (which is barely my clothes for the two days of training we have at the mission home). Sigh. Sad day, but all is well. Plus I have this nice little Trader Joe's bag April Alvarez gave me and so that is my "personal item". It probably weights like twenty five Pray for me that it will all work out :).
Despite the stress of all of that, I made a goal to not let it get to me and to keep up a good attitude. So far so good :). It really does make a difference if you can do things with a happy nature. My dear dear friend Karen Billings is leaving today at 430!! She is going to be serving in the Philippines!!! We were so lucky to be able to see each other every day and it really made things a bit brighter here at the MTC. I know she will be a fabulous missionary.
I also saw Robbie Campbell several times this week!! It was great seeing him. Already a missionary that one! He will be great out in the field.
I am excited to try and call all of you tomorrow!!! It will have to be short though--if I have to call everyone seperately it will probably only be like seven minutes each most! I am sorry!!! But I love you all and it will be great to hear your voices.
Well, We have had many great experiences this week, but the best was probably experiencing all of rougher stuff. This week Satan has really been working on trying to discourage me. Luckily I know on who I rely---the Lord my Savior. He can replace all of my feelings of inadequacy with His love and power. It has been great to develop a stronger relationship with Him and to conquer my fears and doubts. Satan didn't really stand a chance :P.
I love you all so much, this is probably all I can do today--we have sooooo many little odds and ends to finish up with and then CLASS at 6 to 9:30. And I woke up at 5:20 so I could do my laundry early to ensure enough time for packing. Our packing day just happened to fall on our P-day sadly. Oh well, life goes on and I love you all so much!