Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Dear Family!

Sorry I didn't warn you my p-day was changed.  I kind of forgot last week.  We get to go to the temple today :)  We are very excited.  This week has been a week of miracles.  1st of all, mom, I loved the calendar!  It was so great and I even was able to use it in a lesson.  It seriously was my favorite part of Christmas.  I have also been reading one of your testimonies each day during personal study.  It is really an uplift and helps me focus on what is most important.  Thank you all for your faith and strength.  It is comforting to know other people have gone through the same thing.  If they can do it.. so can I!

So this week... Christmas I was able to receive some great inspiration on how to help my investigators.  It was so cool to see that because of my companion and I's obedience the Lord really did bless us.  I had a great idea to help one of our L/A (less active) members start progressing.  I thought about how it is really hard to change when you have too high of goals.  So we gave her a scripture and a challenge to do every day.  Just simple things like exercise, shower and get ready, say a sincere prayer, etc.  We were able to meet with her last night again.  She did 5 out of the 7 goals which was great!  We went in expecting very little... We were actually planning on telling her unless she was willing to do some things to change we couldn't keep meeting with her.  The preparation she had throughout the week and our preparation were able to help us have the spirit and teach her to her concerns.  We were able to find out that she has been wanting to commit suicide because she thinks there is no hope for the future.  We shared about the plan of salvation, our hope for a perfect future.  I bore my testimony of our divinity.  How we truly are princes and princes... we are working on returning to a heavenly palace with our heavenly father who loves us perfectly.  We shared about the gift of temples.  We showed her a pamphlet that had pictures of the different rooms.  I bore testimony to her that the celestial room really is like a little taste of the Celestial kingdom, a place she really can go if she lives this life well.  It struck her with wonder and amazement.  A lot of our investigators live in poverty and this one in particular lives in a dingy apartment with her parents... there is so much stuff and clutter that it is hard to feel the spirit... but when she saw the beautiful temple and that she could work on going there it gave her hope.  She said the closing prayer and thanked us... my wonderful companion helped her recognize her feelings as feelings of the spirit.  It is the first time she has felt the spirit in a long time.  This was a testimony to me of the importance of teaching people, not lessons.  If the missionaries who had taught her first had been able to explain some important things about the plan of salvation she would have had a goal, a hope.  This is the lesson I learned this week.  The importance of desires and hope.  There are so many in this world who are wandering around lonely, sad, confused.  They need the stability of the gospel, the message we bring to all the world that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer of the world.  Only through Him and His atonement can we inherit this eternal life.  Only in and through Him can we return to live with our families and our Heavenly Father in the mansions prepared above.  The doctrine is so important! If we don't remember the why of the gospel... what is the point?  Why would they want to read the scriptures and progress???  In our lives what do we choose?  Do we choose our savior Jesus Christ or do we choose things of the world (food, sleep, clothes, traveling) or even family, school, friends?  What is most important in our lives?
The Living Christ

I am so glad you are all memorizing the living Christ this year!  I know it will greatly bless your lives.  I want to add my witness to His that I know Jesus Christ is my savior.  It is because of my love for Him that I am here, in Taiwan, on a mission.  It is because of Him that I am able to share my testimony and help others come unto Christ.  I challenge each of you at home that every week you bear your testimony of the Savior at least one time.  I am privileged to do this everyday.  I know wherever I am, whoever I share it with, that when I start talking of the Savior, the spirit comes in so powerfully and strong!

Remember the importance of hope this week.  What is our hope?  I know mine is that if I live this life well, really try to become like my Savior that one day I will recognize Him, because I will be like Him.  I can't wait to be welcomed into my Heavenly Father's arms with all of you by my side.  I can't wait to see all my faithful family members there.  I know there are many on the other side that are cheering us on!  "Jia you jiating!!!" (You can do it family!!!)  I love you and miss you all.  Thanks for your prayers.

Love you!!!  Sara

The Christmas Phone Call!!

We had the opportunity of talking to Sara by phone on Christmas Eve shortly after we Skyped with Elder Gummow.  We probably could have set it up for us all to talk together, but I voted for quantity and quality -  2 forty-minute calls instead of one.  Actually we talked for a little less time so that they could call each other for 5 minutes.

Sister Gummow sounded well and happy!  She too got candy and present filled stockings(I sent two -one for them and their companion - since her companion is native and I wasn't sure if she would get Christmas presents) CD's, a scarf and some tights, a family photo calendar and a bike repair kit.  She also got hot chocolate and muffin mix for breakfast, but they didn't burn the pancakes like Matt did and probably enjoyed them a little more.  She said that the chocolate was just what she needed to make it through all this transition.

Taipei is not exactly what she was expecting.  After having taught English for four months in China, I think she thought it would be more like Beijing or Shanghai, but she said it was a big city more like an Asian version of New York and the Americans are not treated as special as they are in mainland China.  In fact, one of the things she struggled with was that the people just walking away from her when she tried to talk to them.  She thought it was because her language skills were so bad that they didn't understand her, but her companion helped her to realize that her language skills are actually exceptional for the time she has been learning it,  people walked away because they aren't interested at first in learning about God.  Once she figured that out, she stopped taking it personally and she was able to work more effectively. Her companion is a convert.  She and her family were Buddhist and they all joined the church when she was 16.  Her companions testimony and understanding of the culture has been so great!  

When we told Sara about the Christmas Snow that we had, she did not seem one bit envious (like Matt was)  and prefers the warm weather to the snow any day!  We talked about lots of other things, but I can't remember most of them now -  but I do remember the spirit as Sara bore her testimony in Chinese.  Even thought I could not understand the words, I could understand the power of her convictions and from what I could tell, her Chinese sounded very good - lots of tones!  She was grateful to all for their participation in the ornaments for her tree and wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

*Sara had sent us some Christmas gifts just as she left for Taiwan from the MTC.  She has written us each a personal note attached to various pictures of Christ and she gave us a copy of  "The Living Christ" in Chinese Characters.  She is always so thoughtful!  She gave me this picture by Simon Dewey and having both a son and a daughter serving missions concurrently, it seems like he painted it just for me!  Perfect choice, Sara!

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