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!"