We have had a week of miracles over here! And I had the best birthday EVER!!! One of the biggest miracles is that one sister told us Saturday night she wanted to be baptized and was able to pass her baptismal interview that very night. However, we still don't have a specific date since her father is not that keen on her being baptized. She has really been strengthened by the sisters in the ward and is definitely working hard to resolve this concern. We will keep praying and expressing our faith--I know it is just a matter of when now, not if. Working with them has been a very sweet experience for me. It reminds me sooo much of Mom and Grandma Winnie!!! All the resemblances to my own family just make it so dear and tender to me. I know God is using me to help others have the same blessings I now have. So I have faith--God will allow this to all work out. He is behind this work. I read a great scripture on that the other day--2 Nephi 27:20--"I am able to do mine own work." Right now our investigators are facing trials we are ourselves cannot overcome, but God can. All we need to do is our part with faith. That is what I plan on doing.
For our retention work, we had some really rewarding experiences this week. One of the top ones was that our less active sisters came back after two weeks of not coming, and she went to the hospital with us to visit another sister. It was soo cool!!!! The ward also arranged for her to have her new member lessons now (since she never had them while still a new member!)--which will help the ward to actually know her. I am so excited!!! She is definitely on her way back to full activity in the church, we just have to be patient and supportive.
Sister Thomas is so amazing--I love being her companion. She is hilarious and so hard working. I am so grateful for the faith and high expectations she brings to this companionship. She really helped me have such an awesome birthday!!! She wrote me note telling me all the reasons she loves me and is grateful I am her "mom". It was so sweet and hilarious. We have so much fun together. She reminds me soooo much of Katie Lindsey. It is soo awesome! We just keep seeing miracles together! So fun.
So for my birthday---it really has been like a birthday week! I had those sweet emails from you all on Monday, and then my recent converts Phina and Huiying (along with Dongdong, Phina's bro) came and took me out to lunch! Pictures attached :)! I loved it!!!! They made me the cutest Asian card (like our Japanese friends do) and a cute journal. Then Tuesday the Relief Society Pres. took us out to a super nice lunch...there were like five courses! Which ended with a chocolate brownie sunday....the first of the birthday cakes (I ended up with a total of SEVEN if you count that). Wednesday was a special zone conference and Amy Wu (she has served as a short term missionary sooo many times--I've known her since my first move call) dropped by and gave me a birthday cake (the one you saw a pic of with Sister Rigby). And we were treated to Subway for zone conference. At English that night I was given a little dessert by Su JM (third). Then my actual birthday comes!!! First thing--as we are leaving the guard to our apartment gives me a birthday cake (fourth)!! He knew it was my birthday because of the increase in mail..that said happy birthday on it! Lol, plus I got a package from you all :). I love the stickers, and the watch and the ankle braces. Thank you so much.
Then we went over to a friend's house and helped her clean a bit. Tasha treated us to lunch, and on the way over there, I contacted this awesome lady. She has since met with us twice--she also attended church! How cool!! Then lunch was awesome--pizza hut and a few members came too. They had this huge birthday cake at the end and it was pretty good (fifth). Then that night we met with another friend and she gave me a cake (sixth...we ate it for breakfast three days in a row)!!! And then that night we had ward correlation and Huang Dixiong (our ward mission leader) gave me a boston cream cake (number 7) and sang to me. He is such a father figure to me here! He also really looks like John Denver...Asian style. Anyway, it was such a fun birthday--everyone knew because of facebook! So funny! We didn't even have to buy our own lunch until Friday! Wow!
Oh!!! And one of the coolest parts was that on my b-day we went an visited a recent convert at her school for special needs children. It is such a cool place! So we sang to them and helped them punch holes out of plastic things (they do menial jobs to keep busy and feel like they can contribute--they even get paid) and made treats during the break. It is such a cool center. A mother of one of the children started it so her son could have something meaningful to do and so he could have friends. There are about fifteen students and it is so awesome. I could really feel God's love for these His most special of children. They were such a blast to be with.
For my birthday, Pres. Bishop and Sister Bishop called and sang to me, two of my recent converts kept calling our chapel phone until I answered (they aren't supposed to contact me...naughty! I told them not to call anymore and that I would write them more letters...lol. It was cute though), the Elders sang (so...special...hahaha, it was sweet) and Sister Fitzpatrick received permission to call me too! She had an investigator to ask me for help on (their investigator would be here on Sundays, so we worked together a little). So it was pretty fun! Pres. Bishop also forwarded me an article about dad from KSL. So fun! Lol. Well, I love you all so much and am so grateful to be here in Taiwan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
--Sister Brooke Smith