Monday, February 25, 2013

So grateful for eternal families :) - Feb 25, 2013

A family in harmony will prosper in everything.
 - Chinese Proverb

Sometimes we don't fully realize the impact of our kind words, letters and encouragement.  But today, Sara helped us to understand that they are the guard rails on the "rollercoaster life" that missionaries experience!

Thank you so much for your emails!   It is such an amazing uplift.  I also have to tell you Aimee that I completely agree with you.  It is funny the things you don't miss until you can't have them.  A great blessing of my mission has been how much it has made me grateful for everything I have.. especially our family!  I even got to make my favorite cookies for our FHE activity last night.  It was funny thinking back with all the memories of me and Ben Sunday night making these cookies.  They turned out perfect this time strange because we usually always put too much or too little flour ha ha. 

So first this week was a bit of a roller coaster .. like usual ha ha It started out with some amazing miracles.  First - M..... our wonderful Indonesian investigator.  We teach her in English and her home county is mostly Muslim, so she does not know anything about Christ.  We teach her very very simply because her English is not very good.  The cool thing is that she can feel the spirit.  We were able to take her on a church tour and teach her about the Restoration this week.  She told me after that she had this weird feeling in the Sacrament meeting room.  She wanted to cry, but didn't know why.  I was so happy she could feel the spirit!  She said she would come to church on Sunday.  She works at night time- 7pm to 7am so this is a big sacrifice for her to come to church. 

X.. JM is another of our new investigators.  She owns a restaurant and is a wonderful loving mother.  She is having a very difficult time because her restaurant is not very successful right now.  We were able to set up a service time with her on Friday and us and the elders helped her clean up.  The next day my companion and I decided to go visit her.  She was so happy! She said that today and been busier and she knew it was because of our prayers.  We have also been having more success with the members.  They are really starting to love and trust us... still no member referalls, but I know we will get there.  I need to improve about asking for them too.  Sometimes I feel bad asking for so much.  The members are really so wonderful.

J's family is so great!  They had a wonderful meal, but even better than that was the company.  They are so fun and her neice and nephew are the cutest!  Ha ha I loved being with them.  It made me feel so comfortable and at home. 

So the rollercoaster part of the week was nearing the end I was feeling so discouraged because our numbers are really low.  I was making calls on Saturday night and I just knew not very many of our investigators would be coming to church.  I had prepared the ward for them coming and everything, but they weren't answering.  One of the members was a little late to church and asked me if M..... came (she was going to help translate the meeting into english for her)  I didn't know why but as I told her no I just became so sad and discouraged.  Sometimes we work so hard and don't have any success.  It is so discouraging.  Mom I think your dream was very spot on.  I definitely needed that hug and someone to tell me they are proud that I am here because I felt so hopeless and this time, as the Sacrament meeting started I felt so silly because I couldn't control my tears of saddness and discouragement.  Luckily, I cry all the time, so hopefully the members thought it was just some spiritual prompting.  Despite this I remembered my blessing that I would be able to put on a smile even when I did not feel like smiling.  I managed to get through church, strengthen member relationships, and set up appointments with members all with a smile.  I am so grateful for you all.  Sorry out of time, but I know the Lord really does watch over us!  Keep the faith!!! wo ai nimen

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feb 17, 2013

 Sister Gummow wrote this week after finishing the last week of "Guo Nian" - Spring Festival/Chinese New Year!  It sounded like a great way to start the new year!!

This week was a great Guo nian adventure and I loved it!  It was so fun to get to know the members better.  I am finally starting to remember them and know them.  It was also good for me to learn my way around the city a bit better.  I'm still not great at it, but every day improve.  This week I saw so so so many miracles!  It was so cool.  The lord was giving me reminders EVERY day that it truly is His work.  ALL of our investigators were in other places, so this week we got to focus on members, less actives, and FINDING.  ha ha this was a bit hard, but the lord truly uses our talents.  So many people were willing to listen to us.  I think it is because I have really learned how to show my love to people quickly, so they were curious about what we were doing working during guonian.  It was so cool.  We taught 18 lessons when the usual is about 12 for us.  Our District Leader was amazed so many were willing to listen.  I know it was a direct result of very very earnest prayers.  The lord really helped us find some great people.  We also got to do Temple tours.  Sister Ochoa and I got to be companions for 2 hours!  It was so fun.  Ha ha she is a great missionary and it was fun to be together for a little while.  Soooo weird to me sometimes that we speak Chinese...

Teachmetowalk5082351_detailOh you asked about the CD and Chinese.  CD I LOVE!   I often choose this CD to listen to.  Primary songs are my favorite by far.  You can also tell John we often listen to the CD he sent us too.  

Chinese... well honestly I have very high goals and expectations for my Chinese so I don't think it is that good, but people always make comments on it.  I definitely mostly think and talk in Chinese and am already starting to forget English sometimes... so weird!  So it is going well... though Language studies have been struggling so much lately!  Any good ideas on how to help me memorize vocab or make my language study time more effective?  I want to keep up the progress.  This week was ok, but still not as good as I would have liked.

 This was her response to her dad sharing his mission experiences with her and what he learned:

So dad I have to thank you once again for your advice.  You know me too well.  So this week we also had interviews with the mission president.  I asked Pres. Day how I could better inspire others to want to serve and how could I help inspire investigators.  I have such a strong testimony.  I wanted to be a light like President Monson and help other people have a desire to do and be excited about the gospel.  He told me four great things 1. always strive to be the perfect example. 2. consistently and constantly demonstrate Christlike attributes 3. strive to have the spirit at all times 4 be the most positive and enthusiastic.  I definitely have some room for improvement though I have definitely been improving!  But back to dad's advice... my companion helped me point out a very helpful thing... My high goals and standards for myself are great, but she asked if I expect the same of others around me... and to be honest I do!  I expect a lot from my family, friends, companions and investigators.  I think it is good to have high expectations because it says you believe in other's potential to become.  The problem is when they don't measure up they feel guilty and I don't want anyone (especially my companion) to feel this kind of pressure.  It has been hard for her too because this week I saw a lot of success.  It was not mine though it was because I was listening to the spirit's very small thoughts and promptings, but when you are not seeing the same thing yourself I could see how that would be discouraging.  I am going to be working a lot on genuine compliments this week.  I encourage you all to do the same.  Sometimes it is so much easier to see the good in others and put yourself down.  Don't do it!  God gave us all gifts.  Let us rejoice in other's successes!  I love you all and hope this Valentine's was good.  Good luck this week.  Mom we love you and appreciate all your sacrifices for us.  Dad, Dan and Bry we recognize the toll on you guys and want you to know the lord is grateful for your sacrifices too. Dan keep up the 15 min reading!  LOVE YOU!!! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Xin nian kuaile! - Happy New Year! Feb 10, 2013

Sara shared with us some of her experiences this week with the Chinese New year:

"New Years in Taiwan has been fun.  Everyone is very happy and though they may not want to take time out of their holiday to hear our message, it has been amazing to see the Lord's hand guiding us.  I even was able to contact by myself while my companion was writing and giving cards to less actives.  I was able to teach 2 lessons and find a new investigator.  Talk about miracles!  Ha ha my Chinese is improving, but I can feel myself hitting a bit of a plateau so please pray for my language ability this week... also pray for my stomach -   ha ha the members here are wonderful and are feeding us all this week lunch and dinner... and when I say feeding us I mean it is like having 2 Thanksgiving meals EVERY DAY!  I don't know how I will survive, but it is great to be with the members and to get to know them better.  I am even at the point that sometimes I can actually be myself in Chinese... that may sound weird to some, but it is really hard to express your personality if you don't know how to say it in Chinese.  It does get better every day though.  My companion and I have had a much better week.  I think it has helped me to know that I am not completely reliant on her for our success.  The lord will help us both accomplish His work.  I have seen this blessing over and over this week."

We had the privilege of having a new friend from Taiwan that Sister Gummow met at Christmas time who is now living in Provo over for dinner to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This friend is the only member of the church in her family and Sara has the privilege of teaching her mother about the church currently.  We enjoyed getting to know her and having that connection with Sara
"Thank you for all the updates!  It is hard to imagine you guys in the freezing cold snow!  I hope you are all surviving ok!  Taiwan is getting warmer and warmer every day.  I have a feeling the summers... are going to be fun ;)  ha ha I am glad I'm not suffering in the snow though.  Better make a snow man for me and send the picture.  Tell Jill's sister gonxi gonxi :)  Congratulations!!! I am so happy for her.  The Lehi party sounds great!  Our Chinese new year has mostly consisted of eating food.  They celebrate it for an entire week, but we don't specifically do much because most of the holiday's meaning is in the resting part which we don't do ha ha.  It has been fun though to have all the people be so kind to us!"

She also gives some missionary advice and things she wished she had brought on her mission: 

Mom thank you for getting that package for me!  I seriously love pictures!!!  It has been the only regret that I didn't spend more time picking out good ones before I came, but I never really thought about it because before I always had facebook and such I could pull them up whenever I wanted, but now I cant do that to tell people about family and friends, so thank you!!!  I love you all so much and am grateful for all you do!

Hey Daniel!  I think it is so great that you are joining in the rules with us!  I think seminary is probably right on the rules because when I was in seminary we did a similar thing and I saved the paper and yep... white handbook standard... it really isn't bad out here though, but one thing I didn't realize before my mission was how it really does take self discipline to succeed.  There is no mom to help you complete your goals out here and sometimes your companion may not want to keep the rules, but you can still motivate yourself to do it without anyone else.  In the end judgement is between you and the Lord... you can't tell Him oh, but what about my companion or my mom forgot to remind me so I didn't do it.  In the end it is really between us and Him, so work on that discipline now and you will find success.  I haven't sung called to serve in a while actually and I am kind of missing it.  I wish I could have heard you play!  Let me know how it all goes this week. :)

Bryanna!  Oh you are becoming such a teenager.  I wish I could have seen your curly hair!  I bet it was so pretty.  Your hair is sooo long.  Maybe by the time I get back mine will be too :)  It is fun to hear of you experiencing these new things.  Whenever I show my family picture they always say two things 1. my mom looks so young! (they usually can't tell who mom is they think it might be Aimee) 2. my little sister is so beautiful.  I would have to agree with both of those statements.  The thing I wish I could explain to all of them though is how beautiful you all our from the inside out.  I would encourage you to focus on the inside beauty because that is what lasts... that is what changes the world.  Like sister Dalton always says, "1 virtuous young woman can change the world."  I love this and I know it to be true because I am seeing it happen all around me.  The most beautiful, amazing people I have met have been the ones who are sacrificing and serving the Lord.  They are truly amazing!

Mom and Dad you are so great and I love you both for giving me the gospel to guide me.  One thing I have been thinking a lot about lately was how grateful I am for the pioneers in our family who gave us the gospel and for righteous parents who took the time to not only gain a testimony of the gospel  but to live it in every way!  The sacrifices you have both made for the gospel are amazing and to see the blessings unfolding everyday are even more amazing!  The Lord truly does take care of His sheep.  He is taking care of us here in Taiwan and all of you at home.  Thank you for your support and kindness."

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Key to Happiness Feb 3, 2013

 If you want happiness for an hour -- take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day -- go fishing.
 If you want happiness for a month -- get married.
If you want happiness for a year -- inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime -- help someone else.
-chinese proverb

Sara's email this week sounds more like the Sara we know and love.  She seems to have made it through the culture shock and has her feet on the ground again. The weather is improving and her creativity is coming through in the Zebra stripes she painted on her bike as well as her service project in weeding and language study program: 

"Wow things are really going by so quickly here!  It has definitely been getting better and better.  I got some letters from you guys this week that brightened my day.  It was a Valentines package :)  Thank you for all your support and love and I enjoyed the chocolate bar too though... before it got to me, an animal chewed a corner so I had to break off a huge chunk :(  kind of sad, but we all were entertained by it too.  I haven't got the other letters yet, so hopefully soon.  I have been enjoying the flavor-aid packages quite a bit too mom.  Thank you!  Today I will hopefully have some time to go shopping too :)  Everyone is getting geared up for Chinese New Year here.  It is at least a week to 2 weeks long thing, plus all the time gearing up to it.  Everyone is busy, so it's good, but kind of hard too.  Many people will be gone over the next week, so we should have a lot of finding time over" Guo Nian" (Chinese new year).  We have also been blessed with great weather.  Everyone says it is still winter, but I think the worst of the cold is over (cross my fingers) and from here on out I should survive ok.  It makes it much better contacting people and riding my bike everywhere (which I love my bike btw I painted it sooo cool-like a zebra of course :)). 

This week we had a very fun experience.  Every week we get to do an hour of service, but we have been having a hard time finding what to do, so this week we asked a dancing class.  At the church one of our members teaches a dancing class every Wed. and Fri. and the missionaries will share a message with them.  So far we haven't found any investigators from it, but they are all great people, so we asked them if we could help them.  One of the ladies is injured, but her husband and her still go every week.  She will sit on the side and watch them.  She is so cute and full of energy!  She said we could help them weed their garden.  We got the elders and our member friends and we all went and weeded at their garden for a few hours.  It was so much fun!  Ha ha and I was glad that you taught me well.  Only the other Elder from Utah had weeded before, so we got a lot done quickly.  It was so funny to see everyone weeding.  It was cool to see this different part of Neihu.  They brought us back into a really really beautiful area that just had a bunch of land.  It was this beautiful valley in the midst of a big city.  Truly truly was a blessing to be able to go there and we have already seen so many results.  They were so grateful and now the rest of the dancing class members really respect us.  I can see how service is such an inspired activity.  It really shows people of our love and our diligence. 

Anyways, I have seen how love and sincerity have worked so many miracles here- including in meeting with J..'s mom.  The members sincerely love me and I often don't know why because I can barely hold a conversation with them, but I think they can tell how grateful I am for all their help. 

For me, this week was another testimony to me of the Lord's power, through the members comments to me.  One of the younger adults in the ward (I have a picture with her-short hair girl-both went to Hawaii before and are so great!) came back after I had been here for a transfer.  She had no idea I was still training and was so surprised when I told her.  Many people have told me they forget I am still training and they had no idea.  Then, on Sunday I had the opportunity to bear my testimony and encourage the members to fast and pray for missionary opportunities.  When I finished many of the members told me how great it was and I asked one about my Chinese and she said that she was so surprised because I spoke so clearly she thought I was Taiwanese.  I am only in my 8th week and I can see the lord working miracles with my language.  Lately I think it has been because of my diligence in fulfilling my goals. .....  This is what I do to help me.  I will spend one of my language studies during the week just planning a schedule for the rest of the week.  I will look at everything I need to study, memorize, practice and I will look at how many days I have.  Then, I will break it down and write out a specific time frame I will study it.  It is tedious and a pain, but has helped me have much more focused and goal oriented language study times.  Even when I am tired and really don't want to study I know that to keep with my schedule I have to completely use that time.  It pushes me so much and has helped me improve so quickly!  I am still terrible at memorizing, but it has helped me so so much!

I will keep doing my best.  Thank you for the uplifting words.  It really helps remind me of the importance of obedience and staying focused on the Lords work.  You are all so great!  I hope in the next few weeks I will have many more miracles I can share :)  Thank you for your support.  Dan and Bry thank you for your emails too ha ha.  I can tell you both are growing up fast and Dan I am so excited for you!  I wish I could hear your guitar music!!! Do you both like the new theme (standing in holy places)  I love it and the new song.  I listen to the CD online and seriously is my favorite!  You are both lucky! 

LOVE YOU ALL!!!!   Sister Sara Gummow"