Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 25, 2013

We were excited to read about the new church website
 for the Chinese people who join the church outside of Mainland China
Sara is feeling more comfortable in Taiwan and staying focused on her purpose there.  She continues to learn and grow in amazing ways while bringing hope and comfort to the people of Neihu.

"My companion is wonderful.  She is so great about supporting me and helping me improve. At first, I felt very alone sometimes.  I don't feel like that anymore.  The Lord has also been blessing us with many miracles.  I am slowly learning what to "boldy" invite means and that it is ok to be super awkward sometimes.  I am not here to be everyone's favorite person or best friend.  I am here to boldy and courageously invite others to come unto Christ... unfortunately this week I really felt like all of our investigators are dying off...

We had so many people cancel and so many say they were too busy to meet with us.  Luckily the ones we have I was so nervous to challenge or do anything because so many were canceling and "dying" (I think that means they are not interested anymore - not really dying) and I didn't want to mess anything up.  My poor companion had to deal with my stressing out about teaching them and times to visit them and stuff.  The thing was... when I finally met with them I realized that I can pretty much do anything because we have already established that foundation of love.  They know they are not just a number.  They know that I want to help them know Christ and know truth.  They are like my Taiwanese sisters and brothers.  It was comforting to know that sometimes I may mistakes, but at least my investigators know of my love for them and because of this we can progress together. 

L.. JM hasn't figured out a way to meet with us this week, but I am still confident she will.  I had an email from her this morning so I was very happy because of that.  She has a testimony and this is just a trial of her faith.  We are just going to patiently wait for the Lord's timing on this. 

Oh cool thing was I found out that Jared Stout was a Neihu missionary!  You should tell him Michelle says "hi".  Ask him what his Chinese name is and if he remembers any "formers" (former investigators) that I can tell the elders to go visit :)  Neihu is struggling right now.  The elders are running into the same problem as us.  A lot of our investigators are dropping out and we are finding that retaining our new investigators is a little difficult.  It is ok though.  My new companion and I have set some great goals and a good plan of action and I am excited to see what miracles we will find this week. 

I loved reading your email today and am glad your birthday went well, mom and Bryanna!  I want to see a picture of you and this bow.  Get Daniel to go out and practice soccer with you!  ha ha you sound a bit bored Dan :(  we miss you too!  I love you and look forward to when we can all hang out together, but know that you do have a lot of control over how your life goes.  Find something new and go find a way to bless others.  The hardest times in my mission and my life so far are when I am too focused on myself, my faults, my wants, my feelings... when I remember to look outward and focus on others it seems like this is when things go well and I find so much more to life. 

Dad it is so hard to see these hard things in life going on. (Sara's dad sat on the jury of a Criminal Case this week )  I have heard so many sad things and seen so many sad things, but that is why Matt and I are out here.  We get to spread the knowledge to everyone that they have a Savior who knows and loves them.  That has been my favorite things so far on my mission was letting people know about their loving Heavenly Father who gave them his son, Jesus Christ to help them through their earthly challenges.  Sooo awesome!  I am praying for your success and the family's happiness.  I hope all goes well!  I love you!!!"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Transfer #3! March 18, 2013

Be the first to the field and the last to the couch.
Chinese Proverb

Sister Gummow's companion finished her mission last week and Sara was given a new companion!  Just like springtime, she is starting fresh with a new companion and new investigators and a new hope for one of her investigators in particular!

So this week was transfer week!  Yes, the new email policy does mean I can email for a longer time and to friends, but I am still going to try and keep it in an hour because on P-day we don't have very much time...

 So... first miracle of the week!

Thank you for your prayers on behalf of L..JM.  I would ask you to keep continuing them, but specifically that she can have confidence to stand up for her beliefs and desire to join the church and that her parents will not oppose any more.  So the very same P-day that I asked you to pray, we went tracting that night and got a phone call just as we were about to start knocking on doors.  Guess what.. it was L... JM.  She said when she was away working her family asked her why she wouldn't drink tea or alcohol (so awesome that she was still keeping the Word of Wisdom!) and so she told them about going to church.  They were very opposed and showed her a bunch of bad stuff about Mormons,  but she wouldn't believe them and has kept praying and reading the Book of Mormon.  She found an excuse to call us and set up a time to meet on Thurs.  T...Jm and I were able to meet with her and bring another member.  I had been praying about her a lot and have a very good feeling about her having the ability to be baptized.  T.... JM will be visiting Neihu on the 30th and 31st for the Easter activity so we set her baptismal date for the 30th of this month.  We are going to need some earnest prayers for her if it is all going to go smoothly though.  We actually had a special fast with her on Sunday so that her parents wouldn't oppose.  I have already seen so many miracles with her through the power of prayer so I am confident the Lord will provide a way for her to receive baptism on the 30th. 

My new companion is so great BTW :)  Like my previous companion, she is also Taiwanese!   She is so cute!  L... Jei mei.   She is a very happy girl.  She has had many challenges and grown so much on her mission so far (been out about a year).  She said she finally decided it is better to be a happy missionary than to be so stressed out by the numbers and everything.  She loves to have fun and loves to talk.  There are definitely going to be some challenges, but I think it is about time I learned how to have some fun in missionary work.  Ha ha it really is kind of hard at first to be a real person and a missionary at the same time.  Hey Elder Gummow, I also met this X.....ZL at transfer meeting.  He seems super great and said you were doing good, though you are still pretty shy ha ha.  Don't let the language hold you back.  I learned the best thing you can learn is how to ask questions because then they can talk and you can listen... and if you don't understand - smile and nod and it usually works out just fine ha ha. 

So my companion and I did a little very-needed spring cleaning.  Most of our investigators won't set up, won't answer our calls, or are not progressing... so we cleaned off our white board and started over.  It is going to be challenging because we have a ton of contacting time now, but I know the lord will help us find His prepared children and be happy as we do it.  Our numbers may not be the highest this month, but we are actually sharing a happy message that we believe and we are ready to go for it.  We are still going to be trying to reach our old investigators sometimes, but we decided we can only push it so far.  After we do our part, we have to let the Lord keep nourishing their seed of faith and see where it goes.  So here we go for another transfer in Neihu.  :)  We will see what miracles the Lord has in store for us now! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Springtime ^_^ March 11, 2013

 Sara has almost finished her training and has learned so much!  We are pleased with all her hard work and she said that she was able to get a Ukulele and is looking forward to sharing her talents to further the work in Taiwan!  They are working on a fun Easter celebration and have many exciting things in the works!

"Family!!! I love you all!  I am often very relieved that Taiwan has pretty manageable weather so I am not dying all the time!  It has been a bit warmer this week and we have been seeing the sunshine.  I hope it is the same for you out there in Utah.  The worst part about rainy days is the lack of people outside, but when it is hot outside... it is almost the same ha ha.  Oh well the lord still finds ways of accomplishing his work despite the weather.  Only 5 more days of training!  I should also finish my phase 1 Chinese :)  yay!  New transfer, new phase of Mandarin, new companion.  T.... JM has been happier over the past week and we have been able to find good unity. Trying to focus on having good unity and praying for each other has been great!  I'll let ya know of the changes next week ;) 

I am excited about our area.  I was feeling pretty down because there wasn't much going on and no new investigators, but people are starting to come out of the wood works.  The interesting thing is that 2 of our new investigators are bible fanatics and have been really checking the validity of the Book of Mormon.  ha ha so this has been an interesting week for me going a bit more into the timeline, history, and deeper doctrine of the Bible and Book of Mormon   It has actually really been fun to study out their questions and find my own questions in the process.  I didn't think that would be a big thing on my mission in Taiwan, but I'm glad I am getting the opportunity to dig a little deeper.  It has helped add clarity and depth to my testimony.  I am so grateful the Lord allows us to have these doubts and questions and then gives us the tools we need to find answers for ourselves.  One thing that I am very grateful for lately is the gift of continued revelation (prophets).  So many people are so confused over doctrinal points in the Bible because it is not clear sometimes.  They rely on their own personal thoughts to find the answers... hence a billion different churches and religions.  So interesting... so amazing to be able to tell them how we don't have to work out these questions through our own thoughts or rely on the thoughts of other men... we can know what God's thoughts are through the Book of Mormon, our prophet's and apostles and that through personal prayer, personal revelation they can know that it is true.  Any of you who read this and do not yet know... go find out!  Don't waste time trying to rely on the thoughts of men... turn to the scriptures, to God's words, and after ask HIM!  He will answer your prayers.  I know because he has answered mine and I know He has answered my parents, and I know he has answered many other church members.  He loves ALL of His children and not one is exempt from this wonderful gift of personal revelation.  If we sincerely seek answers we will receive them. 

I would ask our family this week to pray for our investigator L.....  She is wonderful, but left for a month to work and since then hasn't answered our phone calls.  Our zone leaders told us this month they had a strong impression that everyone in our mission would baptize this month.  When I looked at our area, I know none of them are ready yet, but as I prayed to find the Lord's will for the area I feel very strongly that L..... is going to come back.  It is going to take some earnest prayers, but I have faith.  I know this is the Lord's work and she is His precious daughter.  I am interested to see what miracles this next transfer brings!"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Seeing the raindrops March 4, 2013

This week we received a fun package from Sara with some Chinese New Year decorations like the red banners that the Chinese place over and to the sides of the door.  These are intended to scare away the New Year Monster. (She remarked how similar the story is to that of the baby Moses in the Old Testament when the children of Israel painted their doorways with Lamb's blood to protect them from the destroyer).  She also sent some treats and a beautiful table runner and some of the tracts they hand out for their English Class, the basics of the gospel, and temple tours.  It was a fun surprise!  We also got a SD card full of pictures!  I included a few of my favorites in today's post!

Thank you so much for the email.  It is always just what I need!!!  I got your letter and memory card.  I LOVED the baptism pictures ha ha. (These were pictures of her when she was baptized)  I showed them to my district and we were all laughing! It was so cute. Thank you for the funny pictures Bryanna drew at church too.  Made me laugh and feel like I was right there with you all.  I'm glad you liked the package.  Sort of New Year/birthday packages.  Dad- how is it being 50??  Ha ha my companion and I figured out our dads have the exact same birthday and both turned 50 so that was kind of special!  Hey dad thanks for the words of advice.  It was definitely needed.  I often forget that it isn't my skills as a missionary, but their own choice to choose to accept or reject the gospel.  As you all know I often prefer to focus on the positive, so this week I saw a cute Asian notebook that I just had to have.  The front part said:

"How Are You?
Even though the grey
rainy day may
let people feel
But when you lift
your head and discover
the rain drops."

Ha ha it happened to be a freezing cold and rainy week, so I thought it was very applicable.  Though the English may not make sense I thought it was the perfect quote for me.  It reminded me that no matter what may be going on there is always a beautiful miracle, a small thing we can see God's hand in our lives.  If we can only look past the grey, rainy day... we can discover the beauty in a rainstorm.  That was my new goal, so every day I have been "discovering" the raindrops of the day.  Here are a few of this week's raindrops.  1. on 2/27 it poured rain all day, but it was warm rain and so fun.  It was a comforting rain that was fun to tract in. 2. 3/1 I called an old investigator to check up and set a time to visit.  They had no kong2 (free time), but when she kept on talking to me I finally invited her to church.  She accepted and yesterday her and her daughter came to church for the first time in like 20 years!  3. On 3/2 we ran into one of the Elder's old investigators.  I saw a boy sitting on a bench and just pulled over to talk to him.  Turns out I knew him and he has been missing church, but I know the Lord loves him and it was His way of telling this boy he is welcome back whenever he is ready!  3/3 sooo many raindrops :)  Z..... JM and her daughter came to church, they also invited us to their house that night to give us food.  We also were able to visit a member family who really needed to hear our message.  Last but not least our wonderful friend r... r... is starting work this week so we went to read her a scripture and were able to eat dinner with her and her mom and comfort her.  Such a wonderful night.  The Lord really watches over us!  It is His work and I'm so grateful to be a small part of it.  

I have an invite for all of you this week.  I have seen such a difference in my attitude since I started "discovering the raindrops"  I know how important it is no matter the weather... good or bad... focusing on the beauty in a storm changes the entire atmosphere.  It doesn't mean the hard things won't be there, but they become a new adventure.  Dad's test, Rachel's health, or whatever the challenge may be.  Let us look for the Lord's hand in each small day, each event.  As I have done this the challenges have been forgotten and I can only see how beautiful this world is and the amazing life experience the lord is enabling us to have.

I truly do often pray for you all and am so grateful for all you do.  Each letter, packet of kool-aide, or email message makes my day.  Thank you Dan and Bry!  It sounds like you both have some awesome things up ahead.  Aim looks so beautiful!!  Ha ha and Ben and Steve have lost so much weight!  You are all looking so great!  I hope the Lord continues to bless you all as much as He  is blessing us out in the mission field   

 ha ha and thank you so much for all the friend updates.  Jared and Mason have not written me though I did get a letter from David!  I also got a letter from John signed from Jantz.  Made my day.  Thank you so much for the encouragement!  Ha ha it came at the perfect time.  I will keep doing my best!!!

P-day at the park

Her Pet turtle

Costco in Taipei!

Healthy lunch at Costco

Riding Missionary Style! - with a camera in one hand.....

One of their yummy meals during Guonian -
 Huo Guo (Hot Pots)

Taipei Temple Tour
There were definitely some hard days this week.  Matt had his power week and I think this was mine a bit.  I had a goal to pass off my phase 1 by this transfer so I have been waking up early to study and I'm still not sure I'm prepared, but I know the Lord will help me.