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

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