Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eathquakes and Heartbreaks

Wow, you all sent so many good letters!!!! I really loved hearing for you all and to hear about all the exciting things happening in your lives. It is very sad to hear about Japan...I just can't even imagine. We hear about all the rumors of radiation and stuff, but I think all of us here in Taiwan are fine. We had two earthquakes here this past week which was a little scary what with Japan, but both were very minor. One was a bit larger and felt like it was moving in circles below us if that makes any sense. It was a little scary, but we prayed (we were in the middle of teaching a lesson) and it stopped! Woot.
So this past week has been really rough for us here. On Thursday we had a combine district meeting (so Pres. Bishop and the assistants were there, along with his wife) and Sister B. and her comp. and me and my comp. all took a taxi together since we had to meet in Gaoxiong City--about a half hour car ride away. Sister B. and I sat next to each other and just had such a good time catching up and rebonding. We really have become so close, even though we had some rough times in the MTC. It is amazing how that worked out and really was needed for both of us. Once we got to the meeting house, we had a bit of time and were looking at all the pictures on the walls of past baptisms. We saw one of our MTC teachers in the pictures! Also, Jason Evans, from my springville singles ward, had a picture with one of his converts! Pretty funny that I would see someone I know right?  Anyway, we all sat down and right before the meeting pres. Bishop came over and asked Sister B. to come with him. He had been doing interviews and we still had a bit of time before the meeting, so it seemed normal. But about ten minutes later he came back in to get her companion, and when he knelt down to talk to our bench (us three sisters) he told us that the night before Sister B's mother had unexpectedly died in her sleep. It was so devastating....I immediately wanted to go see her, but he said to wait. So he left with Sister Koay and then the meeting started as one else knew. It was so hard for me to stay focused in the meeting knowing what Sister B. must be feeling.  Five years earlier her mother had had a tramatic brain injury, but was well on her way to a complete recovery. I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not, but it was just totally unexpected. About half way through the meeting Pres. Bishop came back in and talked to all of us about it. He said things we definitely needed to hear. He spoke of the world and how much sadness it has, but that is why what we are doing is so important. We have the message of peace and hope all in the world are in search of. We know the plan of Happiness and how death is not an end. We know that God is merciful and loving, and will judge us according to what we actually know, and our hearts desires. He read to us from Moses 7, starting in 42. Enoch was just shown the destruction of the people during the time of Noah, which was probably close to what you are seeing on the news now for Japan. Death and destruction of a once beautiful people, filled him with such sadness he said he refused to be comforted. But then the Lord tells him of Christ, and how all can be made perfect and beautiful through him. It is so true, and Enoch changed from devastated to rejoicing. It is hard, and Sister B. has been so strong, but life can go on and be happy through a knowledge of Christ. We went to the bathroom after the meeting and Sister B. came in. We just clung to each other and cried and cried. It was heartwrenching and I am crying just thinking about it. Plus she is sitting behind me now emailing her family...sobbing too. They sent her the obitutuary today. Her mom was 44 years old and she still has a 12 year old brother and a 16 year old sister at home. She has decided to stay out here as of now, but it has been a rough road. Whenever we run into each other, which is fairly frequently, we just hug and hold on to each other. I am so glad I was able to be there. It is amazing how the Lord had planned so many things to work so well. It is amazing. I am so grateful for his love.
Well, so much to write and no time to write it. Last bit of news, that same day, one of our investigators received an answer to her prayer through the Book of Mormon and decided to be baptized. Totally miraculous!  This is my first baptism for someone I have actually taught! I am soo happy and excited for that. March 26 could come a bit faster :).
But at the same time, I am sad, because March 26 we find out move calls. The president called us last night and said we are pretty much going to stay here, but they are splitting our district into two--this way we can go to our wards every Sunday. So they are bringing two more sisters into our apartment. Our apartment is really really really old, but super nice compared to the other sisters. We each had our own bathroom and a huge living room we do nothing in. We have a room for studying with two desks, and a huge room with nothing but a dryer and a closet for our clothes. So there is room, but it will be cramped. Plus now I know for sure sister Lew won't be my comp. I love her so much--we get along like magic. We have been so great together and I am sad to have that change, but I know it is good. I will be probably still in Daliao, the 35 minute bike ride just to our area from our house! Lol, I hope to stay fit!
Well, no more time.....sad. I have soo many more stories to share!!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Birthday dinner and Ninja Man

Well, this week has been so say the least. It started off wonderfully :). Last p-day was great-I'm getting some pictures printed out this week and will be sending them your way hopefully next week. My birthday itself was great too :). We had two different meetings so it was kind of fun because people sang to me at both. I really liked my birthday because I felt that God blessed me to improve several things and we had lessons with all my favorite people. It was awesome! We had dinner at Uncle Ben (Brother Jian from Daliao)'s beef noodle shop (my fav. food) and he sang to me. Our friend in the next shop over came over too.  She wrote me a way cute card in English. Uncle Ben had made me a cake so we all sang and had cake, it was great. Oh, and that morning my companion, Sister Lew (who I just adore) decorated our white board with little paper hearts and silly notes and inside jokes. One was, "Fortune Cookie say let birthday be as bright as you brain". Isn't she awesome??? I was so glad to get a companion just as weird as me :). It was just such a good day, full of happiness and thanksgiving. I am grateful to have a whole year plus to look forward to in Taiwan. By this time next year I hope to be as an amazing sister as Sister Lew is.
We have biked the world this week!!! DL (Daliao) and FS (Fengshan) are about forty minutes apart, and we made the trip like three times a day on average. So sick. But worth it. We are actually considering giving up part of the area to the elders, but that is sooo sad. It would increase the numbers for everyone though and it is hard only getting to see our wards every other week. So this past Wednesday at English class Phina brought Apples to Apples (junior addition) and we used that as our English learning tool!! We played for a bit (I won!) and then we went over adjectives and how to use them. It was awesome.
Funny story...I almost ran over a man on the way home the other day, but he moved with ninja swiftness and did this hiya thing and it was absolutley hilarious. He like jumped and landed in a squat on the other side of the road. It was a happy memory to be cherished forever. Lol.
I met this really awesome lady on the 11th and the met with her and her two little girls at their house on the 12th! It was so great, but she has some other  religious beliefs we are going to have to work through. I am really excited to get to know her more. I stopped her at a red light and she actually was the one to pull me over to the side of the road because she said it was more safe. Lol!! Awesome! When we met with her she said the reason she agreed to meet was because of the great feelings she got from me. She said I was just so radiating with happiness and love and so I must have such a special and significant message to share. She said she has had other missionaries approach her (not our church) and never felt the same as she did with me!!! How cool? So we sang a hymn--I am a child of God, and she totally loved it and said she wants her children to know the right road for life. So I think we will really be able to help her...
Well, we also sang in our ward yesterday and it was AMAZING. So many people shared their thanks and said it really brought the spirit to the sacrament meeting.
I really have to go, but I love you all and more next week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Missions Can Be This Fun?

The Cai Jiating (family) is taking us out to lunch and to go play around Gaoxiong City today (we got permission to leave our zone, pretty sweet eh?)!! It is going to be great :).

So this week has been a pretty awesome one in general!! We have met and helped some investigators progress and it is awesome! We also met this cute grandma who's son and his family are being taught by the Elders. The Bishop wanted us to go over and guanxi (build relationships) with the girls in the family--as they are the Bishops family friends. So we dropped by and met Miao mama (as we call them here). She let us sing a hymn and teach a little bit, but she was in the middle of cooking dinner so it was a short visit. I showed off my beautiful family pictures--she said they are all so beautiful! She also thought I looked a lot like Mom...hmmm. Lol. So we taught her how to pray, had her say her first prayer and headed off. It was dinner time so we stopped off a lovely drink stand (fresh smoothie kind of thing) and we ordering when she gave us a call. Apparently she had liked us a lot and wanted to give us a snack. So we biked back and she handed us some freshly steamed corn. Sooo cute!!!!!  We just love her and ended up visiting her again this week and meeting her husband. They are just the sweetest little old people. Didn't come to church, but we'll keep working on them.
So about this drink shop--we got avocado milk with pudding mixed into it! Lol, soo strange but so good. Funny thing was we were biking and somehow Sister Lew's drink like exploded...all over her white shirt! It was pretty great since we were heading to go teach English Sister Lew was a trooper and it all worked out great. I really love teaching English!! I am over the beginners class--which is what I am used to :). It is really fun to see how the Lord really will use every talent you have during your mission. I speak Japanese to people almost every day here. It is kind of crazy!
On another interesting note, a new investigator we met on the road last week had us over on Saturday. She believes in God and in the Bible, but was having a hard time understanding it. So she prayed to meet people that could help explain the Bible. Sadly, right before she met us she also met some Jehovah's Witnesses. She met with us on Saturday and we gave her a Book of Mormon and helped strengthen her testimony of prayer. We told her to check her feelings and the Holy Ghost would tell her the truth of all things. But she wouldn't go to church with us because she had already promised the JWs she would go with them. But she said we could come over after church and would come with us next week. We committed her to keep praying and reading the BOM, so time will tell if she has the faith to discover the truth for herself.  We are going to try and set up another time with her this week, but who knows. We have faith though! So we'll keep trying. She has such a cute family and is so searching for the truth!!!!!
Also on Saturday one of the members from the Daliao ward invited us over to his beef noodle shop for lunch. It was great! Beef noodle soup is one of my favorite Chinese dishes :). He served his mission in VA about ten years ago, but his English is still pretty amazing. Because he knew we were coming, he also made us a cute little chocolate cake in the shape of a heart. He wanted to write,  "Welcome Sister Smith" but ran out of time so there was just a little chocolate smear on top :P. Super sweet of him! He has two cute little daughters--one of which will be baptized this year! He is also such a great example of member missionary work! He made friends with a girl who works at the shop right next to his and we have a lesson at this shop after they finished work sometime last week. It was so great! So when we came over for lunch, he also invited the girl over to eat with us. So we were really able to get to know her a lot better and to become better friends :). Way to be Brother Jiang! We had such a great time with her--we were giggling like crazy. Days like this are like, what??? Missions can be this fun?? Lol :). Eating lunch with investigators and really becoming their friends is one of the coolest things. Usually we just eat by ourselves, but combining missionary work with fun is the best! Also, Brother Jiang didn't allow us to pay--so kind. He invited us to have a birthday lunch at his shop on March 8th too. He wants to make me a birthday cake, but we are trying to dissuade him--we don't want to get too fat! People really do look out for the missionaries! We get "songed" little snacks, fruit, and meals pretty much everywhere we go. It is so nice :). And most of the times by people who aren't even our investigators. Most times it is the investigator's or member's nonmember moms.
Oh, so another cool thing- an investigator of ours (who has a member brother) has her birthday on March 9th. So on P-day, March 7th we are having a little get together and hopefully more investigators will come :). It will be AWESOME. So excited.
All for now--love you all soo much!
Oh, and I got my FIRST and ONLY letter this week--Ammon Davis wins the prize :). The only address that is allowed to receive mail for me is the mission address. That will apply for my whole mission. Sigh, but it is good I guess :).