Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Hola, como estas!", May 27,2013

On Mother's day during our Skype call, we got to meet Sara's companion.  She asked what to do for Sara on her upcoming birthday.  I had heard the cheesecake was really delicious in Taiwan and I knew Sara loved cheesecake.  They were somewhat doubtful that it could be found in Taidong, but from this picture, it looks like they found it!  Speaking of finding, there was a post on Sara's facebook page by a friend who worked with her at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii who happened to find her brother who is serving his mission in Taichung.  You can see the picture and read more about it on his blog.  Small world!!  She never told us what was happening in the pictures at the bottom, but obviously they are learning to cook something!  I hope it turned out well!  Here are some quotes from her email this week!

"Hey I got the package!  Thank you so much mom!  I loved it :)  We are going to make the cake today and try out some Mexican food with the elders.  Ha ha I still don't love Mexican food, but it is the only thing we can't find over here so I figured it was a good thing to ask for.  Even better we might try and do a Fiesta activity with the youth here so that will be super fun!

This week was one of the lowest number weeks on my mission, but it was still great and we did see miracles.  I absolutely hate knocking doors, but this week we decided to try it out... hence hardly any new investigators, but I could see how the lord put us in certain places, at certain times for a reason.  There are many people waiting to hear this gospel and it was cool to teach people about the restoration.  We have been doing our best to follow the zone and district invites, especially about focusing on the temple.  This has been a huge blessing in my companion and I's lives.  It really has given us a new fire.  Every time we bear testimony of the temple I feel the spirit testify so strongly of our words.

So challenge of the week is that I am realizing trainers really do 1. have to express their confidence in their companion 2. challenge them. I forgot how much the language barrier holds us back from progressing.  I also remember how mad I would get at my companion sometimes because she didn't understand that.  Ha ha now I am so grateful to her.  She NEVER let me use my language as an excuse not to do something.  I am trying to be better at that.  I am so willing to take everything on myself, but I'm realizing that when I do this the miracles stop happening because I am not fulfilling my responsibility.  This is a great lesson for me to learn and I am glad we still have a while together so we can see my companion truly blossom and become a "Preach my gospel" missionary.

So funny story of yesterday.  We decided the best chance to get some more RCLA visits was in this area about 15 min from our house.  We headed over there and as we left one with no success we ran into a lady with very long hair.  She was exercising but decided to stop and talk to us.  She wants to learn English and reminds me of a hippie from the 60's.  She is great and invited us to visit her right then to eat some aboriginal food... we were excited and thought this was a little miracle from God... that is until she gave us the food and it was... probably the most disgusting thing I have eaten since being on island.  Ha ha it was the trial of my life to eat the whole thing and I don't even know if my face was able to fake the smile I tried so hard to put on my face.  Luckily the night was saved as she allowed us to pray with us and told us the time she had when we could come back.  Ha ha we will see how it goes, but it was definitely an adventure.

I love Taiwan and I love being here.  Thank you all for your birthday wishes.  It really was a great boost and just what I needed.  Thank you for your love and support!  Tell Julia "congrats" as well and I can't wait to see her here!

Love you all!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Shengri Kuaile! Happy Birthday Sara!

Today was Sister Sara Gummow's birthday already in Taiwan (since they are 14 hours ahead of us)  Sadly, her birthday package has not reached her yet-  even though I sent it over 2 weeks ago.  I guess it goes to the mission home first and she is far away from the mission home.  She said things are kind of remote there and it takes awhile to get mail and such.  The package contains lots of chocolate  so I hope it doesn't melt too much! Luckily, she has her p-day on her birthday so she can do a little bit of celebrating!  Here are some quotes from this week's email and a picture of her Zone in Taidong:

 Wow I feel so lucky! First I got to Skype with you last P-day and now I get to email right on my birthday.  Skyping you all was so fun btw.  I am glad you figured out the whole 5.0 thing so that we could have a 3 way.  Everyone seriously does look different, but it is fun to see the changes and also see that some things never change.  Ha ha! the Gummow family is the best! 

So for updates on this week.  We really have seen some awesome miracles.  The first miracle is that last P-day we met with a member referral, xxx jm.  A member in the 1st branch just stopped us in the hallway on Wednesday after English class and said she set up a time with her friend and asked us to come teach her on Monday   Um... of course! we would love to!  Such a huge blessing and she was so awesome!  She set a baptismal date and was excited to be learning more about God. 

 Later on that week we met with another investigator that the Elders had given us.  She is a cute 17 yr old girl who needs to feel God's love.  When we talked about baptism with her, I have never seen anyone so excited.  Even better she brought her best friend with her and said she had other friends who would be interested in hearing.  She said she would bring them with her in future visits.  

Another great miracle was that last week we met a girl in the street visiting a LA.  She has 5 brothers and sisters and takes care of them while her parents are at work.  She is only 16, but she is so prepared.  We were able to teach her and all of her siblings about the restoration.  They are actually a christian family and go to church every week, but the kids were so cute and it was so fun to visit with them.  The sad thing is we went back to try and meet the parents and the parents rejected us, but we are NOT giving up!   Pray that their hearts will be softened and they will let us teach the family!  

Last miracle was a super cool one.  So on Saturday nothing in our schedule was going according to plan, but we decided we still wanted to go out and find the parents of the family I was just talking about.  We had only a few minutes we could tract before we wanted to go there, so we stopped by a walking path that we had planned to contact people on.  As we pulled up we weren't sure if we should stay there because there weren't very many people.  We decided it was fine, so we went to talk to a lady who had been riding her bike.  Turns out she is from the Philippines and she had only been there for 5 months.  She had just gotten married to a Taiwanese man in the Philippines and then moved to Taiwan.  She is Christian and has been looking for a church.  She has been having a hard time adjusting to all the things in marriage and a new country.  Her husband is Buddhist so that has been hard too, but despite that she has been praying everyday.  She told us that she had just been feeling like her heart was so heavy and she knew it was the Lord answering her prayers that she found us.  She asked us if she could come to church.  We gave her directions prayed with her and she even wrote out a prayer in Tagalog for us so I will be practicing my Tagalog ha ha.  Even better she wants to share the gospel with her husband, but he won't listen... however, he wants to learn English. So as our weekly service, we are going to try and teach him and her English together for like an hour.  I hope this will open some doors for him to hear the gospel!  

It truly is the Lord's work and I am seeing more and more how everyday he is making such weak and imperfect servants tools in His hands.  I am so grateful that I can be a part of His work here in Taiwan.  I love you all and loved talking to you on Mother's Day!  Jia you!!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

The best part about Mother's day is that we mothers get to talk to our Missionary Children!!  We had a few technical difficulties (Sara called about an hour later than planned because she forgot her Skype password and her companion talked to her family first and went a bit longer than they thought.  Luckily everything eventually worked out.  She looked great and we had a wonderful time being together via Skype.  She loves being a missionary and has quickly begun to build some great new relationships in her new area, Taidong.  Her new companion that she is training is 21 and ready to teach and be a missionary. The companion is really good at reading the map and had been great at all the things Sara was worried about being able to to.

She actually spent more time asking us questions about the family than talking about her experiences, but it was great just to be able to converse.  I was working hard to learn to bear my testimony to her in Chinese, but we weren't able to communicate in Chinese as well as Matthew and I did.  I am pretty sure it is due to my pronunciation so I guess I will keep working on it.  There were a lot more people to talk with when we Skyped with Sara.  Matt called at 6:30am - so there was just the immediate family then.  She loves the warm weather and said to tell everyone "Hi" and that she loves them.

Below I posted the quick email she sent before she called us.

In just a minute I will be talking to you all on Skype :)  I am very excited, but my email time is very short today.  Plan on around 7ish and yes we also only have 40 minutes so I hope everything got figured out with Matt.  I will try and update the Skype  but no guarantees   We are using our investigators computer and she is actually gone so hopefully she already has the updated version. 

Anyways this week was also full of miracles.  We also had a few more challenges.  Ha ha our area is huge!!!  There aren't many people on the streets, but there are prepared people everywhere!  The best is that the members are so so awesome and do missionary work at every opportunity.  One of my favorite members here is Wang Ma ma.  She is the branch Presidents wife.  she is the most humble sweet lady and a mother to all the missionaries.  She was one of the first people I saw in this ward.  It was great because when I saw here I stopped worrying about whitewashing and stuff.  I knew that this ward was in good hands and their were very good people. 

This weeks most fun but difficult challenge was when we ended up wasting almost a whole day riding our bikes to a crazy area.  We asked one of the Elders and he was like "ya probably like a 40 min bike ride."  We decided it was worth it.  After we started, we realized quickly that 40 min... no way.  We also got lost and a very nice lady and man brought us out to the main rode... bikes and all.  Then after we started biking again....2hours later.. and a few hills... who knows how many miles... we found her!  We taught her for 30 ish min and turned around and headed back so we wouldn't be late for our appointment that night.  Our hour dinner break has quickly turned into 15 or 30 min this past week.  It is awesome and I love being so busy and having a companion ready to take on anything. 
I was very sad about the waste of time, but the next day we met with a member and found out she lived right by her.  She was super willing to help her come to church and befriend her.  Yesterday she told us they are already facebook friends.  She also told us she posted up the picture of us and a ton of people said how awesome we were for going so far to find her.  Ha ha... not as much of a waste of time as I felt.  The lord is giving us blessings and maybe a little facebook publicity will be good for missionaries all over Taiwan.

We are also still teaching an exchange student here.  She is so great, but this week is gone with her program touring Taiwan.  pray for her! 

Sorry I don't have more time.  I'm excited to talk to you all in a minute.  I love you and am so grateful for all you do for me!  Everyone is looking great.  Good to hear about Nicole's endowment and I did get her card as well as Aimee's letter.  Thank you!  It was fun to see and they look so happy together.  Aimee you are also looking more and more beautiful.  i loooove you!!!! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!  Muqin jie kaile!!!

Wo ai nimen :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mountains, May 5, 2013

Sister Sara Gummow has already grown to love Taidong!  Some missionaries are overwhelmed by the heat, but she has not complained a bit.  She loves the warm/hot climate! She finally sent a few pictures!  The one at the left is from Neihu with her last companion before she was transferred.  She seems to be great with the training process and is gradually finding her sense of directions despite language obstacles in addition to her usual challenges.

"Thank goodness mom was right about how climbing those other mountains made me stronger to climb this one.  It was seriously so hard coming in, but I have already adjusted and I love it here.  I mean there are still challenges... such as I only have a map in Chinese and so finding places is like a game of matching... and I can't tell people where I want to go because I only know what the characters look like... not how to say them.  Ha ha but regardless of the language restrictions we have seen so many miracles!

First, my companion Sister O is fantastic!  Her Chinese is not amazing, but super good for just getting to Taiwan after only 9 weeks in the MTC.  She is very dedicated and it was easy to get on the same page with goals.  The cool thing is that we have decided that a great way to strengthen our branch here was to not only focus on the living work, but the work for the dead.  We have a family history activity planned for the 25th.  In my other area I would have great ideas, but it felt like it was always hard to get things started because we didn't have much support... here it is not the same!  The little branch only has a few strong members but as a lady on the street told me in the darkest places is where the people shine the most.  Sooo true!  The branch may only have about 60 active members out of their 200 ish members but the thing is they are golden!  

Just a few of the miracles we saw this week.  1.  we visited the branch presidents wife.  They have a little bike shop at their house so as we visited her a 18 yr old boy came to fix his bike.  Of course our branch president invited him in to sit and talk with us and eat some food.  As we got to know him he had no interest in the gospel, but we were able to get out of him what he believed and turns out he had some pretty big questions.  I had one of my biggest spiritual experiences as we were able to use the scriptures to answer his question.  He wasn't willing the first time we asked for his number, but after answering his question and feeling eh spirit so strongly we felt prompted to ask him again and he gave it to us.  We sent him off with a book of Mormon and our testimony that it was true.  Hopefully he will be set up with the elders next week.  After the branch presidents wife gave me a hug and invited us to eat dinner with them.  Ha ha so awesome!  They are a wonderful family.  
2.  we were walking home and ran into a recent convert.  Turns out she has been struggling lately.  Her and her friend went to get their hair done and her friend had been struggling lately too.  She met with missionaries a while ago, but hasn't met in a while.  They all felt like it was the lord telling them he loves them that he sent us to them at that time.  She set up with us and her friend will help us teach her!  So awesome!
3.  Last night I called to set up with a member... she didn't have time, but guess what she gave me three referrals right on the spot and told me that she would be praying for them that they could receive baptism.  Sooo crazy!  Even better than Christmas :)

The amazing thing is that there were so many more miracles that happened this week.  This branch is amazing.  The thing is the miracles only started happening after we had a great planning session.  In this planning session we decided the best way to assist this branch was reactivation and assisting the members that are active or are pretty much active haha.  As we came up with ideas to help them and have been doing our best to assist them we have seen soooo many miracles.  

I think my favorite is still the spirit that comes every time we testify of family history work.  We are going to bring up a new goal for our branch on Tuesday at branch council.  We watched a family history DVD thing and they said that they challenged their ward to baptize 2 wards on the other side (about 400 people) in one year.  With all the Chinese family history that can be done we want to challenge our branch to help out the work and baptize 4 wards this year (about 800 people). I know this is the lords work and as we have tried to see His vision for the area all the other numbers have started happening too.  It is not perfect and we still have a long way to go, but it is so much easier knowing I have the lord, my companion, and a branch full of wonderful people all on the same side, all with the same goal.  That is why Taidong has so many baptisms lately... not because the missionaries are awesome, but because the branch out here has members who are on fire to share their testimonies at all times.  I'm so grateful to be here assisting them in the work.     

Family -I love being a missionary and feeling like a missionary!  The best feeling in the world is to hear a question and to feel the holy ghost prompting you on exactly what to say.  To see the holy ghost carrying it into their hearts... seriously nothing better!

I'm sorry still haven't taken many pictures, but here is one from our hike with our district.  Elder M is in our district and he is doing awesome.  Elder T moved with me from Neihu so you will probably recognize him ha ha and the other two are Elder B and Elder O.  Only one native this time and we actually came in at the same time. 

The sisters and us are doing great now btw.  We have developed a great relationship with them.  The Elders have also been super helpful.  Do you remember Elder D from the MTC?  He is out here too so that has been fun to see him.  He loves it out here.

Thank you for the updates.  I actually did hear a little about that (The Boston Marathon bombing) earlier, but not the final verdict in catching them.  We will be praying for America... so many crazy things happening!

Daniel, ha ha your email made me laugh.  I can't believe you are so great at jazz music... can't wait to hear it!  I also can't believe you actually want to date.  you and Matthew .. definitely not the same ha ha.  Good luck just remember to treat every girl like she is a princess "hao bu hao"?  ha ha and wait until next November when you are 16! 

Tell Nicole congratulations for me!  and dad I'm so glad your work is finally valuing you!  you deserve the best and I would know because I'm your daughter :)

Oh Skype .. we have some success with that.  We can Skype at a members house (using our investigators computer ha ha  around 8:00 am on Monday morning which should be about 7ish your time on Sunday night right?  I think my companion will Skype first though and I will after.  I don't know all the rules, but I think I can just use my Skype account... so i'll let you know!  I also have a phone card if needed.  Let Matt know I will be sky-ping at 9:00am Monday morning and if he can join great!  if not tell him "wo ai ta"! Can't wait to talk to you next week!"