Monday, April 29, 2013

Taidong! April 29, 2013

Sister Gummow was transferred this week to a beautiful spot along the coast called "Taidong" or "T'ai-tung"!  They recently split the area and will be living with two other sister missionaries.  She will be facing new challenges and adventures here!  Here is her latest email with the details!

"So... dddd I am in Taidong!  It is like the very farthest away from Taipei - in our mission.  They have been having crazy success in Taidong with baptisms so they decided to open a new sister area.  The sisters before were covering the 1st and 2nd branch, but now we have 2nd branch and they have 1st.  My new companion is Sister Tiffany Oborn from Roseville, California.  She is so wonderful.  She has so much faith!  ha ha and she is already prepared spiritually if not quite in the language.  We spent the 6 hour train ride studying and setting some goals for what we want to do in this area.  We were so filled with hope and excitement!

Sooo when we arrived we had two great members drive cars and help us all to our house... except we don't have a key... so we had to wait for the sisters at the church until they could walk us back.  When we got there... one person didn't have a bed... we only have one bathroom for 4 girls and yep pretty much our apartment is not meant for 4 girls.  Ha ha my poor trainee got a glimpse of culture shock from the first night (don't worry I let her have the bed.)  ha ha the other two in our apartment are two taiwanese sisters... and lets just say that though the area was just splitting.. we are whitewashing.  There are maybe 2 investigators right now and absolutely no information about the area.  

Well I know the Lord put us here for a reason.  We are also super super grateful that this area has seen so much success.  We have so many RC (Recent Converts) and LA (Less-Actives) that we can take care of.  So we have a good place to start at least.  Getting around has been pretty fun.  As my character reading skills have not been the greatest and we only found a character map it is like playing matching games trying to find the streets.  Luckily the elders also whitewashed and trained 2 transfers ago, so they have been super super helpful in trying to get us set up in a good place.  Oh and little surprise was that elder T........ from my last district got transferred into my district here.  I'm not sure why the lord decided to send us both out here, but our district had very good unity before and we really tried to work with the elders in strengthening Neihu... so here we go again.  I actually considered it a little tender mercy because he was always my go to in Neihu when i got lost or needed language help.... which both will be a challenge as Taidong is huge!!! and I am training so no chance I can ask my companion language questions.  ha ha it is great out here though... super beautiful and clean.  It is also very warm, has a beach close by, and monkeys :)  ha ha there are many many prepared people here and I am excited to start finding them with my companion.  

Pray for me!  When we got back to our apartment and saw what we had to work with... I must admit I was a bit discouraged.  I think everyone has much more faith in me than I have in myself.  Elder Gummow gave me some wonderful advice that I will do my best to follow though... "just have fun with it"!  Pray that no matter, what I can keep up this faith and happiness in the work.

We have a wonderful and supportive ward so I am excited to start in this area!
Here we are getting ready to climb the next mountain :)  I can't wait to see what new things I discover on the way to the top."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Big news! April 22, 2013

Big news from Sara!! and I reposted some recent pictures off of facebook that her friends posted.  The first one is with a friend she knew at BYUH who will also be serving a mission in the NYC North Mission and the second is with an investigator who came to say "good-bye" to Sara before she is transferred.  She has some big changes and challenges ahead - prayers of support for her are welcome!  Here are some quotes from her recent email!

"Soooo big news!!! ha ha I got a phone call Saturday night from our zone leaders... they informed me that this transfer I would be training! :)  Yay!!! ha ha I was feeling like I might.  Right after that, he said with a chuckle... and you will be moving!  *_*  ... My first words,  "Oh Elder, pray for me!"  I am so excited for this new opportunity!  I still feel like a new missionary, but there is no such thing for the sisters.  They will be having so many coming in and I am excited to be a part of it.  I will most likely be opening a new sister area!  I will let you know where - though right now I honestly have no idea.  I will find out this Friday at transfer meeting.  You will be having two children whitewashing so very soon I will be understanding my brother's feelings.  I am excited though because I love street contacting and it will be so good for my trainee to get all the time in practicing.  

I must admit I am terrified, but it is strange... when he called me I already knew that he would tell me.  I have felt since the 2nd week of this transfer that the lord was preparing me specifically for this next challenge.  He has not only been preparing me, but I have felt a power that is not my own.  When I have language study it helps me learn faster and retain more, when I preach the gospel it testifies of my words.  I have been seeing so many miracles, but the biggest miracle has been the outpouring of the spirit that I have felt directing me. 

PhotoYesterday I had a special experience at church confirming to me that my service in Neihu was not a waste.. despite no baptisms... one of our investigators came to church simply because she loves me and wanted to say goodbye (she already posted a picture of us on facebook) After I bore my testimony and was walking from the pulpit I saw so many of our ward members that I loved so much and as I looked at them I could see how sad they were that I would be leaving.  One of the women giving a talk spoke specifically to me and Elder T.....  It was so sweet and she just said how much we had made a difference in the lives of her dancing class students (every Friday we would share a message and every Tues  the elders would share a message).  Elder T...... and I have similar personalities and the ward members are sad to be losing us both at the same time, but I feel like they are prepared well to be helping the new people coming into Neihu.  

That night I had the most special experience.  We were going to visit a LA that I did not know at all.  As we came to their house and sat down I realized that I knew her husband and children because they were very active... especially her husband.  He has been so good to me.  They just bore their testimonies to me and thanked me for my service in Neihu.  They said they had all been very touched by my service in Neihu.  They also were so grateful we visited.  They said it has been like 10 years since the missionaries have visited their home.  ...... Di xiong was especially grateful.  His daughter is studying in England and has had some struggles.  He said every time he saw me he thought of his daughter in England.  He has a strong spirit and said that when he hears others speak he can always tell how much of the spirit they have with them because he can feel and see it.  He said every time I spoke he knew I had the spirit.  I think this is exactly what I needed to hear... despite whatever weaknesses I have and whatever disappointments I may have faced my first 3 transfers I can testify by the spirit.  That is all I need to be a successful missionary is to really understand the spirit and I know I have been learning how to rely on the lord more and more everyday.  It was a sweet confirmation to me today as the ward members told me how wonderful my Chinese was and they were so shocked it was only my 3rd transfer.  It was even better to hug them and to know how much we really love and appreciate each other.  These last few days in Neihu are going to go by fast and I am going to enjoy every minute of it and find like crazy.  

Here we go for another great adventure!  

Oh PS  mom thanks for the updates!  I can't believe Courtney is training Mckenna!  She is a great trainer and a wonderful person.  I hope Kenna loves every minute with her.  Congrats to Spencer and Tanner too.  looks like a yummy and fantastic idea ha ha.  Everyone seems to be doing so great.  I wish I could have heard the concert!  It will be so fun to see all the fun things that have changed.  Sorry no pictures or letters recently.  I will do better next transfer I promise.  I have literally been spending this whole transfer trying to make my companion happy and P-day is her favorite day so we do it her way.  I get my way when we plan and tract and stuff so p-day is all hers :)  well I better go I still need to write my mission pres.  I love you so much though and my thoughts and prayers are with you all.  Pray for my trainee!  We are going to need a lot of the Lord's help ha ha especially with my sense of direction... ^_^  

oh Aimee thank you for the email.  It really made me so happy.  You are wonderful and I am grateful for you everyday.  I actually visited with a member family last night and the wife reminds me so much of you!  I hope you can meet her someday.  I love you!  oh and Ben I really did write a letter for your birthday , but it still hasn't been sent... paisei! (taiwanese for I'm sorry). "

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Temple Today - April 15, 2013

"In our day, the steadying arm of the Lord reaches us
through the ordinances of His holy temples."
Elder Robert D. Hales 

 "Prayers are answered, revelation occurs,
and instruction by the Spirit
takes place in the holy temples of the Lord."
Ezra Taft Benson 

Sister Gummow's email came late this week because her P-day was changed to Wednesday so they could attend the temple in Taipei.  Most temples are closed on Mondays, their normal P-days. 

Even though we are far away, we seemed to share the same kind of weather this past week in addition to challenges and blessings!  Here are some quotes from her email:

 "Joanna just emailed me and said that your Chinese is getting good!  She specifically said your accent was good, mom, so that is great!  Native companions have definitely helped my Chinese, though I feel like I have hit another road block... I must admit - because I never get to speak English.  Sometimes I wake up and I don't want to speak Chinese at all, -but guess what- I still do and it gets better!   ha ha! It was funny because my companion has a bit of an accent so I got to coach her on how to say "4" more biaozhun (standard) ha ha so funny.  We were both laughing as we walked to a member's house, listening to me teach her Chinese! 

Anyways, we get to go to the temple today!  Daniel asked a good question about the languages spoken in the temple and they do have English and Chinese.  I will probably do English today until my Chinese is a bit better... they also have translators.  

I'm so happy Matt is closer to me now :)  Yes... it was rainy here too and freezing!  It's all good though I am adjusted already so it barely phased me ha ha, but to be honest, my companion and I had a challenging week.  She has been having a huge problem adjusting and I have been super stressed because she just gave me all the responsibilities to do.  I had too much to think about and was forgetting things and was not exactly the most happy I've ever been.  Serving a mission without a companion's help is more than a little discouraging.  Luckily, we had the unique opportunity to have our coordinating sister come to our WPS.  It was so wonderful and so helpful!  She was able to help us set some meaningful goals that have really changed things this week.  One of her invites was to write down our responsibilities and split the work.  I think once my companion saw everything I was doing, she realized by herself that she needed to do a bit more.  It was so cool to see such a quick change.  We also had a long discussion after general conference about how to help us both progress.  We agreed to help her be "da tongban" (senior companion) and start leading.  It has been so amazing how much things have changed.  It has only been since Sunday night, but we have already seen so many miracles.  On Sunday, our whole plans ended up changing, so I told her I would follow her and support her.  We kept praying for direction and when she didn't feel anything, we would still follow her.  She was so frustrated, but I knew she needed to start then.  It was cool to have the experience of lifting and supporting.  However at the end of the day, I brought her to an area I felt like we should knock doors out.  Turns out a family let us in.  As we shared with the husband about prayer, his teenager daughter walked in and sat with us.  They may not be the most prepared people in the world, but it was our miracle and they said we could come back! We will visit again tomorrow and see what happens.  I have been working on really supporting and encouraging her.  She feels really  nervous to make choices, but as we have seen miracles and been accomplishing our goals, she gains more and more confidence and I realize how much the Lord's hand is in the work.  I think He just wanted us to learn how to do our roles (I needed to learn how to better assist and encourage and she needed to learn how to lead even when she is not 100% sure of herself). 

I may only be in Neihu for like 2 more transfers. ..........  It has been reconfirmed to me over and over again on my mission how the lord hears and answers our prayers.  He doesn't forget any of His sheep.  We had the chance to meet with a very cool lady this week.  C... JM.  She said the first time we met her she had just finished a prayer asking the Lord to help her come back to church.  Turns out I contacted a person right next to her and my companion was able to talk to her as she started heading home.  She said she would come to church but never did.  One day we felt like we should call the contacts in our phone that I didn't know.  Turns out I called her right after she had finished praying for some help again, so she set up with us for the next day.  She said she would come to conference, but didn't make it, but I'm sure she will meet with us again!  It is really an amazing feeling to know we are the Lord's tools. 

 I loved conference so so much too.  It was a little complicated because I had to find a companion to watch it with me in English, but it ended up being so awesome and Shandi, one of my best friends in this ward, watched it with me.  She was so sweet and I got my break to speak English like I really needed. 

Pray for L........... still no progress and I may be leaving Neihu soon so I'm praying that some miracle will happen and I can help her be baptized before I leave!  I am putting her name in at the temple today.  Other than that a mission has been a roller coaster of emotions every week (I remember John describing it like that and I completely agree!)  But every mountain I climb gets a little easier because I get that much stronger every time   I am hoping for a little bit longer of a down hill, but I'm guessing probably not... next transfer will be preparing for training if not training... we will see what the Lord has in store for me!  Here we go for another week!  I love you all!!!

PS - I think it is awesome that you plan out the hour goals on your day.  They have invited us to to half an hour goals lately and it has been such a blessing... PMG planning is so inspired!  I am striving to be more of a PMG missionary and there have already been so many blessings and we have accomplished so much more. 

Oh BENNY!! Happy Birthday!!!  I am sorry it is late, but I will send of a letter today too.  you are the best brother in law.  I hope you don't get too healthy while I'm gone because I do expect a "baking cookies" party on Sunday night when I return! ha ha.. 

You can also tell Amanda I love her and happy birthday!  I sent on her little person so she will get a picture from Taiwan and a letter from me about Taiwan :)  ha ha I love you all!!!"

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013

"Begin each day as a new discovery, and you will never grow old .... you will just grow." 
-(from a birthday card)

Sister Gummow is doing well and growing everyday! She told us more about her native companion and the sacrifices she is making to serve the Lord.  Here are some quotes from this week's email!

"So first of all I got the new CD and I also LOVE it!  Thank you so much.  It was fun to have something new to listen to this week.  I also loved all the updates.  I was actually on an exchange in Shilin at the time and as I read it that night I was just laughing and saying how everyone is getting married.  So crazy and so awesome!  Give them all my best!  I was also happy to see the picture of Sister Dobson (serving in Japan) and my friend Cindy.  I was able to see Cindy and talk to her when we did temple tours.  She told me about seeing Nicole and we were laughing about our time together in Hawaii and how weird it was that I could talk to her in Chinese now ha ha.  We usually get to do temple tours 2 times a transfer.  I love temple tours!  We always see so many miracles... plus Sister Ochoa is a temple sister so sometimes I get to exchange with her when we are there.  She is super wonderful! We get to do temple sessions once every  2 transfers.  Our temple date is coming up next week or the next week... I can't quite remember, but if I don't write one p-day that is why and the email will come on Wednesday.

So my companion sister l.....  She is from zhanghua.  She has an older brother and two younger sisters.  When she was 9, her mom met the missionaries and was baptized.  They were baptized after and a few years later, her dad was baptized.  Her family was very poor and has been blessed so much by the gospel.  She said her family changed so much by joining  the gospel.  She herself is wonderful.  She has some physical limitations, but despite this she really wanted to serve and earned all her own money to go on a mission because her family couldn't support her.  Sometimes our mission goals are not quite the same, but she has been super willing to talk with me.  I feel like we are finally figuring out that the key to companionship unity is communication and practice (role-plays are so great! thank you, John, for helping me see that) haha.  

I am super excited to try and contact M......  She is in my zone right now, so I feel like this is super special and hopefully I will be able to get permission to talk with her.  I will do my best to get her set up with some missionaries too!  who knows I could even get transferred to Shilin next transfer!  One of the sisters is going home so it's a good chance actually :)  

This week was all about improvement and especially goal centered planning.  I have seen so many blessings as we have done our best to use our weekly goals to guide our daily planning.  It has changed so much for us and we are seeing much more success.  Keep praying for l... JM  She is still emailing me and she even fasted and prayed yesterday, despite not being able to go to church.  I have a feeling things will be changing soon.  I am praying with all my might that she will be able to be baptized in the next 2-3 weeks before transfers.  Pray that we can meet this goal or I might not be able to be here to help her :( 

Tell Joanna and our cousins I love them!   - So funny that she has become the new member of the family.  Thank you so much for helping her.  She is wonderful and blessed me so so much while I was here.  I needed her those few weeks while she was here.  Well sorry I don't have much time, but thank you so much for all your advice.  I will try not to stress out too much and I have already seen how much this mission has changed my life.  I have learned and grown so so much!  I know the lord is just going to keep challenging me so I can grow.  Mom, your last letter and notes were very thoughtful.  It was interesting because my other friend sent me some advice about improving relationships too.  It helped me realize that while I may accept and love everyone despite any faults, sometimes we express our love the best by helping each other grow.   It has helped me take a whole new look at the phrase in my purpose "invite others to come unto Christ".  When our mission president asked us who "others" included I realized that others includes not just my investigators, but members, family, companions... everyone! 

I am excited to watch this conference!  It is funny how things that I thought were good before have now become the highlight!  I am so excited to share with everyone that we have a living prophet and they can hear him for themselves this Saturday and Sunday! "tai hao le :)"  I love you all!  "

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Easter March 31, 2013

Despite transfers this week, Sister Gummow continues to serve in Neihu with her companion that she has been with for just 3 weeks.  They are doing great and having a bit more success this week! 
Photo: I'm really sure Heavenly Father planned out everything for us, I stayed with the amazing family for Easter which is Gummow family, and they just found out their missionary daughter is the good friend with this guy who was baptized me three years ago. I was thinking I won't be able to see him anymore, because I lost contact with him for three years. But we finally met last night on Easter. I was so excited to see him. And how thankful for him to help me know gospel. Thanks Jared! 3年沒見到的福音長老#cutecouple#love#gospel#elder#church#awesome#girls#boy#yay#wonderful#happy#day#easter
 As a result of Sara's email last week, we were able to be part of a "tender mercy" this past week.  Sara connected us in January with a recent member, J..... that  she met at Christmas time who returned to Provo for school.  We had J.... over for Chinese New year and Sara has been teaching J....'s mother who had Sara and her companion over for the New Year in Taiwan  - so we just traded children for awhile.  Well, J... texted last Sunday and was having a rough week so we invited her over for Easter.  She was in our thoughts and prayers all week and as Sara requested in her email last week, we made contact with one of Sara's High School friends who served in Neihu a few years ago and got some advice from him.  Well, after a few facebook messages with him and texts with J...., I found out that Sara's High School friend was one of the missionaries that baptized J.... !!  When J..... came over for Easter, we were able to reunite her with the missionary that baptized her and his new wife!  What a wonderful lift that was for J.... during her discouraging times.  What fun it was to be part of this "Tender Mercy!" 

Here are some quotes from Sister Sara Gummow's email this week:

"So good to hear from you!  Things have been going well in Neihu.  It was a bit of a tough few weeks.  It seems like all of our investigators pretty much died.  We were having a tough time finding, plus my companion has like epilepsy (at least that is what the cell phone translated).  She is super great, but we can do a super fast schedule because she will get really tired.  Nevertheless, the Lord knows when we are doing our best.  We saw so many miracles.  The thing is - this week I decided to ask for some.  As I was obedient and really worked my hardest, I saw the Lord answering our prayers.  We had a few Less Actives respond to us and allow us to meet with them.  We also had a cool miracle this Sunday. A new person showed up in the back so we went to talk to her.  Turns out her member is a friend in another ward.  She has a sincere desire to learn and set her own baptism date for the 27th of February.  She is super great!  I still am not sure about what her needs are, but I know the lord will help us as we meet with her.  I am also excited to find these two L/A's that Jared gave me.  I hope we can find them :)  I will ask around.  I can't believe he got to see Joanna! 

I loved the Easter pictures!  The Easter activity was very very fun!  The Eclair recipe was an interesting adventure... we didn't have an electric beater so the consistency was super hard to get right, but it was a funny adventure trying to beat it fast enough and the elders had fun with it.  It wasn't necessarily a success, but it was ok and fun experience.  Deviled eggs was good too though apparently pepper is hard to find.  ha ha I think almost any american recipe is a little hard here sometimes, but we had fun with it.  We also got to meet 3 people who could potentially become investigators so that was super great! I also got to see Tsai Jei Mei.  She visited for the program!  So strange to see her returned.  It is strange to think about!  I really really do love being a missionary.  

I'm so glad Joanna was able to have Easter with you guys as well.  I know the Lord is really watching out for all of His children.  Mom you are so wonderful!  I can't wait to tell Joanna's mom about the experience.  I love you!!!

This week I also discovered the lord has a sense of humor.  So I have been struggling with the whole language barrier lately.  I have been wondering if it will ever be as comfortable for me and I can enjoy Sunday as much as I do in the USA.  So as I sat there, I just asked for a small miracle.  I just wanted on this Sunday to be able to have the gift of tongues and really understand the talks and stuff.  I was able to listen a bit better and we had this new investigator come... but as the ward choir stood up to sing they sang an  "I am a child of God/I believe in Christ" melody... in English!  I knew it was an answer to my prayer.  Though not quite what I had expected -  I felt like I was at home for just a minute.  Though the Lord may not always answer our prayers how we expect He will answer them! "