Tuesday, January 15, 2013

4 weeks in Taiwan - Jan 14, 2013

Happiness is like a sunbeam,
which the least shadow intercepts,
while adversity is often as the rain of spring

-chinese proverb

Sara (newly arrived in Taipei) with the kind of snowman she likes best -
the kind you can stand by and still be warm!

*Note from mom:  There has been some concern about the re-posting of missionaries emails on social media because of privacy issues regarding personal information and other potential mis-use of information.  While I have always had permission from Sister Gummow to post her emails and have tried to edit out any info which might identify the people she is teaching, I am going to be more cautious in future posts.  I will not be re-posting the entirety of her emails, but will summarize and  post some quotes from them. *I tend to be a bit unassuming, so if you happen to see anything in these posts that could be damaging to anyone, please let me know.  Thanks!

Her Companions for her first few days there:
The sister on the left, a native, trained at the MTC in the Phillipines
 Sister Gummow has been having a few challenges recently as she is adjusting to missionary life in Taiwan, the language barrier, the continual rain in Taipei and the cultural differences.  She believes that both the struggles and the joys are important to growth so she wanted to share some things she has learned this week:

She loves her new bike!
"Thank you for your prayers.  It has been a bit discouraging, but it really has gotten better and better everyday.  This week I had a really sweet experience... 1. my companion and I worked together on some ways we could improve our companionship obedience - as we corrected some of the obedience issues I saw immediate blessings......... Thank you for David's advice and your reminder about training.  It is really true.  I have already been thinking that I need to remember these experiences and what helped me so I can remember for future."

and this:

"This week I worked on communication.  I realized that in order for things to change I had to let her know 1. I noticed when she was feeling down 2. when I was feeling down or discouraged.  This really helped everything improve so much!  I am realizing more and more important it is to seek first to understand then to be understood.  This means asking questions and digging deeper.  We try to do this everyday on the street and everyday when we are with our investigators.  We can only know what to teach if we are listening to them and the spirit and following it's promptings.  I feel so awkward going up to people and trying to share the gospel when I can barely speak the language.  I feel like I never know what to say... My companion reminded me it wasn't my language skills, every new missionary feels that way.  She said it took her 2 or 3 transfers to know what to say to help people and she is native without that language barrier.  I do expect a lot out of myself, but it's because I know I can do it!  I was also reminded how every time I start a new job there is always that learning period before it becomes normal.  If I use the learning period well and learn from my mistakes I will truly be able to excel   I feel like every minute of my mission is so precious, so it is hard for me to have this learning period, but I have increased determination to keep trying."

Here are some of the blessings that she has recognized and additional things she is working on learning

"Blessing of my mission and situation is 1. my native companion is truly helping my language and mission skills excel quickly.  Things that would never be difficult in English are almost impossible for me (like giving investigators calls, setting appointments, trying to have a normal conversation about someone's family or traditions...) but she always gives me this look like "I know you can do it".  This confidence has enabled me to try hard to be more and more independent   In fact she often tells me she forgets it is my first transfer.  I fail a lot of times to remind her, but I know with each mistake I learn great things! 
2. the Taiwanese people are so great!  They really have so much patience with  my language skills.  They are also so family centered which makes it much easier to try and contact them.  The language barrier is hard, but once I get over that a bit more I know it will be easy for me to relate to them.
3 I have a great zone and district.  They are all working so hard.  They also are very inspiring.  Every time we have a meeting I leave feeling very uplifted and ready to go back out and work hard!"

"We have been learning the value of looking at people as they can become.  I think it all comes down to hope.  This true hope comes from the Savior's atoning power.  His atoning power allows us all to change.  This change is difficult, but so amazing for each of us.  I am grateful everyday that I can change and become a better person.  I don't have to think that my mistakes today will influence my ability to become better tomorrow.  This is why I am on a mission.  I know my Savior loves me... but he also loves each of His children.  When I go out contacting with this in mind, everything is so much easier.  I see them as people I can help, people I can serve.  I see them as people who are sitting in darkness and I hope I can share just a little of this light with them.  I love you all so much!  Remember to let your light shine to all those around you.  I realize how spoiled we are in Utah.  Everyone is really trying hard to be a missionary.  Members seriously make all the difference!  They are so great and have so much more ability to let their light shine.  I challenge you all to think of a referral this week and give it to a missionary   Be brave and bold in inviting others to come unto Christ.  It is not something that is forced... once you realize all He has done why would you not want to share that with others?!"

Eating out with the other missionaries in the District
Sara sends her love to all!  We also received three letters in the mail this week that were all mailed on different days telling us about her arrival in Taiwan and her first impressions.  One letter was sent on Christmas day with her SD card full of pictures from Christmas.  Her letters are taking between 2 and 4 weeks to reach us.  Hopefully that is due to the holidays and the new location!  Thank goodness for email!
Christmas Morning
 and the Message tree that everyone contributed to!
She loved it!!
One of her favorite gifts
A family  Photo Calendar!
Making the Breakfast I sent:
Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Nutella and Hot Chocolate
Do you think that is enough Chocolate?

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