Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Feeling loved! July 28,2013

Sansiantai Bridge in Taidong county
Sara had a great week, is on fire again and seeing the Lord's hand in the work they are doing!!  I had the privilege of meeting a returned sister missionary who is a counselor in the program we are doing for 3 weeks - hosting 2 Students from mainland China.  She met Sara before she finished her time there and even got to go on a few splits with her.  She said Sara was a wonderful missionary!  So cute and fun and her Chinese was really good!  It was fun to hear about Sara from another's perspective and to get a hug from someone who has seen her more recently than I!  

"Family :)  I love you!

So sorry I didn't say much about my companion or anything last week.  She is from Farmington, Utah.  She was in China as a study abroad student at the same time as me.  I would stay at her house sometimes when we went to that that Nanjing branch in China.  I don't remember her well, but it was cool because when she stood up, I just had a huge witness of the spirit that I was supposed to be her trainer.  It was sooo cool.  Her name is xxxxxxx and she is 1/2 american 1/2 Italian.  She has been taking Chinese since 8th grade.  It is actually her major, so she is awesome already and we have very similar thought patterns so it is good.  We both feel the spirit really strongly too and that is awesome.  

I still have some of my challenges as well, but the lord has given me a lot of extra strength.  He truly qualifies who He calls.  I was so tired before I went to Taipei to train again, but now I have so much Faith and so much strength.  We have been seeing sooo many miracles this week!  I have realized that my challenges really have made me so strong... not only is my body strong from riding my bike around all the time, but my spirit is strong from all the things I have had to overcome.  My mountains to climb really have made me stronger and it was cool to have that witness.  As we talked about times in China it just reminded me of how much I really have grown.  

We saw so many miracles this week, but Satan was also working overtime to prevent the work from succeeding, but we worked harder! The elders (Elder A..... especially) have really been going for team Jesus and we have seen so many miracles. As we have started working as a team here in Taidong we have seen soooo many miracles!!! I felt like before it was much more of a competition, but now I can tell we really all care about each other's investigators and we are doing our best to support each other and work together to bring others unto Christ. We had an amazing experience helping the elders teach a lady they met on the street. I am sure Elder A..... will write about it today. It was exactly what we all needed to see. She was the definition of a golden investigator. She reminded us that though the Taiwanese may reject us, it is not our fault. Our message is true and because of the light they see in our eyes there will be some ready to open their hearts. She lives in Taichung... not even in our mission... but I did not care one bit. She was amazing and it was a privilege to meet her. The elders have not only been working together with us better, but they have been giving us investigators!! and we needed those miracles this week. 

The last miracle was very special. It is simple, but a powerful witness to me of the power of prayer. At the Hualian special conference, I remember President Saunders telling us about his mission experience and how he would pray that people could find him. I had never thought of that before, but it was something I couldn't forget. So my companion and I started doing just that. We have been praying every morning and lots of other times throughout the day that not only can we find the prepared children, but that they can find us.

Oh how quickly the lord answers our prayers. This Saturday as my companion was struggling riding her bike in a skirt, she got self contacted. A lady on a scooter asked her to pull over. She and her daughter wanted to come to church and they were wondering what our time was like. We set up with her at 8:15 the next morning right before church started and they came! The mom couldn't stay, but the daughter really wants to learn. She had a good experience at church and even better - set up a time for Tues. This kind of experience has not happened to me my entire mission and it's because I have never asked for it before. "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." I KNOW this is true! I know it is because of our desire to obey that we are guaranteed His answer. 

The lady we met with the elders was really an amazing experience.  Her name is L...... and she is an elementary school teacher.  She said she hadn't been to Taidong in 20 years because she doesn't like it there. She had planned on going to Gaoxiong, but for some reason changed her plans.  Meeting with us she knew why.  She said she was always afraid of our missionaries before, but she could see in our eyes our kindness and it opened her heart.  We were all there for a reason and it was a reminder to me that prepared children are out there.  I am going to send Matt her info and I hope that by some chance of fate he will get to meet her!  That is my small wish...  I want to meet someone and send them back to Taichung to have my brother help them get baptized... how cool would that be?!  

Anyways I love it here and things are going well.  Many more miracles have happened though I don't have time to write them all.  I love you and am sooo grateful for all the words of support you give.  I finally read the "Sacrificing the Lord's Way" talk you wrote and it is perfect for what we wanted to help our RC's with.  


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Baby! July 22, 2013

Sara's email came a bit late this week, because of some trainings that were going on during their regular Preparation day. She sounds really happy though and seemed to enjoy her trip to Taipei. She had some great experiences!

She uses a lot of mission lingo in this email.  Here are some definitions you may find helpful (Baby = new mission companion ready to be trained)  (Babysitting - new missionary's first experience contacting in the mission field).  

*here is a question I have been wondering:  what does the word "train" (as in riding a train) have to do with "training" (as in teach someone how to do something)?  English is a really confusing language!

"Here I am on round two... ha ha I was so tired after the first baby (trainee) that I was a little worried about training again.  It is okay though because when I went to Taipei to go to the trainer's training meeting I just had a really neat experience. Even though I was sooo tired from taking the train at 6 in the morning for 6 hours, as I walked back into Taipei after the first time in 3 months, I realized that when I had walked that same path before - I was not the same missionary I am at the moment.  I learned and grew and saw so many miracles during the last two transfers.  Soooo cool!  I may not feel successful sometimes, but then I have moments like that when I just realize how much different I am and my life is because of my mission.   I can honestly say that my mission has changed my life and I still have time to keep growing and changing.  

My new companions name is Sister Z........  My baby, Sister O....., went to open another area (she is so awesome!) and she is with a native companion, so her Chinese is going to improve so fast!  My new baby has studied Chinese on and off for 5 years.  She speaks soooo well!  I loved her the moment I saw her.  She actually served in Colorado for almost a transfer before coming here so she was already partway trained.  Unfortunately.. Taiwan is not much like the state side missions so she is having a bit of an adjustment time.  She is awesome though and I feel strongly that we will see many miracles during the next two transfers...

One cool experience we had was "babysitting" the first night the sisters came in.  I love "babysitting"!  It is so special to me because it is the new missionaries' first contact with missionary work so I know the lord will give them crazy miracles.  I felt really impressed that we should not go for a ton of street lessons, but we should find a prepared person for the sisters in that area who wanted to get baptized... and guess what! that is exactly what happened!  Soooo crazy and so awesome.  Our Faith in the Lord really brings so many miracles.  It was the trainee that wanted to talk to her too.  I am so glad the Lord lets us be a part of this work.  I think my view of finding is changing more and more.  I realize how much we really need to just rely on the spirit and how important following the spirit to set our goals is.  

Pray for my new companion!  She is really shy and having a hard time adjusting to this new environment.  Cool thing is I actually have met her before!  When I was teaching English in China she was in Nanjing studying Chinese.  We would stay at my friend Emily Masterson's house sometimes so we could go to church and she was one of Emily's roommates.  Sooo crazy.  We also have a lot of random connections just from the small church Asian community as well.  Sooo fun!  

Well here we go for another week of miracles.  I can't wait to tell you about what we see this coming week :)  

I love you all and you are in my prayers.  Thank you for your support and your words of wisdom. Mother, I especially loved your thought.  I will go and read about that story of the woman who touched the hem of Christ's cloak.  I was pretty happy this week because as we went out to do "babysitting", one of the AP's just made a comment about how I had so much faith.  If there is one thing I have, it is Faith.  I know how much the Lord loves me and these people.  Though things may not always go quite as I want or expected, at least I have the Faith to go - and I think I really have been moving mountains every day!"

Monday, July 15, 2013

Typhoon? July 15, 2012

Just before church today we heard word of a Typhoon hitting the island.  We were anxious to hear if our missionaries there were okay.  We were relieved to get Sara's email today and hear that all is well and that she will be staying in Taidong to train another incoming missionary!

"So first... Typhoon update... well to be honest we were the most blessed on the whole island.  Though the winds were a little stronger than usual it was almost perfect weather.  I must admit.... Taidong is a little bit of a heaven spot in Taiwan.  It is country, beautiful, and though one of the hottest places and least convenient, is definitely one of the best places in Taiwan... and it's a good thing because I'm going to be here for another 3 months!  Ha ha I got a call on Saturday that honestly took me by surprise... I will get to see Chad come in... because I will be training again in Taidong! 

It was funny how it happened, because I have had no feelings about this upcoming transfer other than that I am feeling really comfortable here in Taidong.  I was thinking about it and even though I'm a person who really really enjoys change, I have been feeling lately like I would be ok living here for a long time.  It is also great because we have one of the funnest places on the island.  Taidong always has some fun activities going on.  It is seriously the most like Hawaii in culture and in looks as well.  I am also in the area that gets most tan... ha ha you can always tell the Taidong missionaries because 1. you never see them! 2. when you do see them they are sooo much darker than everyone in Taipei.  You were also right about the weather here... the clean air is definitely an answer to my prayers.  Unfortunately, because of the heat we have to deal with other health problems.  We are always sick to our stomachs and because our room has no air conditioning right now, we die from lack of sleep sometimes.  In fact, my poor trainee was like dying the past few days from a flu bug that I am praying won't pass to me.  We are hoping to get a better sleeping arrangements worked out before the new transfer.  Good news is that since I am training again I get to go to Taipei for 1 day.  I am hoping I can go to the temple while I am there.  I am also hoping I can get a chance to visit Neihu - though that is a pretty small chance. 

I know I am in Taidong for a reason though!  I feel very comfortable here in the culture and weather.  I have met some amazing people here.  I am hoping that our hard work in finding and teaching this month will lead to a few baptisms in august with my new trainee.  I know the lord will keep throwing challenges my way, but pray that my baby will be a good one!  I know they will all be amazing, but I am a little worried.  It will just be interesting to see what challenges the Lord decides to throw our way.  It is weird to me that I am quickly becoming one of the older missionaries here.  It is also funny to me that I am one of those ones out in the out-lands that no one knows.  Luckily unlike some of our older missionaries who get sent here and "die" (finish their missions) here... because I am such a young missionary 4 transfers here will still leave me with 4 more before I finish so I still have a chance to go up to Taipei and get retrained in the big city life. 

We definitely saw some miracles here this week, but I must admit the biggest miracle happened inside me.  When my companion was sick was the same day the typhoon came (sort of hit us... it wasn't even bad enough to keep us inside though).  It was a convenient time to be sick because though the weather wasn't terrible, the wind was a little dangerous for riding bikes.  The other sisters in our apartment had one that was sick as well.  So after I organized all our records and was about to go crazy from being in our apartment, we got permission to go on exchanges.  Sister Thompson and I were excited to hit the streets and  "geng hao". The elders had a baptism planned that night and a ward party that we were hoping to attend.  So we only had about an hour of tracting time and this was our day to find new investigators.  I was so worried because we weren't hitting very many of our goals that week.  I must admit I went into the tracting time thinking ok where is the family that we can find or how can we teach the most lessons in this hour.  As I talked with people this was all that was on my mind... finally I realized what I was doing, took a deep breath and said it is not about the numbers!  ha ha the Lord is not going to let me find those prepared people if all I can think about is how low our numbers are and how much we need to get them up... I realized how ridiculous and stressed I was being, when really it is the people and the spirits behind all those numbers.  The stress immediately left me and though we didn't really teach any lessons with prayers, it was a wonderful time tracting and we met some amazing people including one of our English class students, our ward member, and a nice lady on the street who used to live above the missionaries. She invited us to come to her house whenever we were there.  She is Buddhist but is a great potential.  Her husband also welcomed us in and she has 2 college age kids who will be home for the summer (probably until mid august).  We will see what happens with that, but the Lord definitely blessed us with many miracles.  

I love Taidong and I am grateful to be here for another 3 months.  Pray that I will have the energy, patience and love I need for another round of training.  I know I can do it and at least this time I am familiar with the area - so here we go for round 2 :)  

I love you all and am grateful for every prayer, word of advice, letter and email.  It really makes all the difference.  I have the best family in the world!!!

Sister Sara Gummow ^_^"

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wo ai taidong! July 8, 2013

Sister Gummow has made it over the "hump"/"camel day" and has felt your prayers and encouragement.  Thanks for continuing to remember her in your thoughts and prayers.  This week they focused on finding and helping the Less Active members to remember the blessings of the gospel.  This work, she is discovering, is every bit as important as baptisms and she is finding great joy in it!

"So this week was full of challenges just like usual, but I am getting a much better perspective.  Mom, thank you for the Letters.  They came so quickly and just when I needed them.  I also got quite a few emails this week... so I'm guessing you tipped off a few people that I needed some encouragement.  Ha ha thank you!  It is good to know I have so many at home loving and supporting me.  I am trying to keep a good perspective and honestly despite my feelings of inadequacy I can really look back on my mission so far and say I have grown and changed sooo much!  It is pretty cool that I have been able to speak the language I love so much for the past 9 months.  Sooo awesome!  My Chinese is not great, but it is definitely pretty good and it feels natural to me now.  The funny thing is that when I am really really tired or in more of an emergency it comes to my head to speak Chinese first now.  I think it comes from my first two companions being Taiwanese because every time I needed something, if I said it in English they would just look at me like "ting bu dong" so I would have to re say it anyway. 

Taidong is seriously an amazing place.  It really does have a very "Hawaii" feel to it and I feel like I fit in here very comfortably.  Sometimes too comfortably.  I think that is why the lord is letting me continue to have so many challenges.  This week we saw many miracles as we have been working with our LA's.  We decided it was time to search out some more of our lost sheep.  It has really been amazing to see them have a desire to change and know that the lord put us there for a reason.  He really is preparing people, but sometimes the people He is preparing are already members.  They just needed some time and when they are ready to come back He lets us missionaries know.  He also lets us know the best time to go visit. 

We have been exhausted from riding bikes in the hot sun, but it feels good to come home knowing that we gave our all and maybe a little more that day.  My companion is growing and learning so much.  I am really learning a whole lot about communication and how important it is.  I have also noticed this pattern in myself of things starting out good and then getting harder and harder.  I think the big thing is I always go into everything with the most optimistic outlook.    The thing is, despite any difficulties, I will always be grateful to them and I LOVE them.  That is what I think is most important.  Whatever challenges we have had just increased my love for them as we worked to overcome them.  My trainee is awesome, but there are, as with everyone, some things that hold her back sometimes.  Some of the ways I am used to doing things are not effective for her at all.  I am doing my best to build myself into a better person who is more capable of love and understanding.  Training is tiring though!  I am going to be so proud of her wherever she goes though because I know she has learned well and will go bless many lives.  I am excited to see what next adventure the lord will send my way.  

We have one more week and then it's off to new areas new companions (probably though there is actually a good chance we both might stay).  I am surprised to say that  my usual need for change ( I love moving!)  is actually smaller this time.  I feel like I would be comfortable staying in Taidong for a long time.  Moving would be fine too, but I wouldn't be sad if the Lord wanted me to stay here either though.  I am so willing to do whatever He wants ha ha... much better than anything I would want!

I have to tell Bryanna that I was especially touched by your card.  It really helped me through this week and I am working on having that faith that can move my mountains.  I also absolutely loved the CD of your and Dan's music.  You are both so amazing!!! I can't believe how awesome you are both becoming!  You can steal my earrings, but try your best not to lose or damage them... I may be in Taiwan, but I will still like those when I get back!  ha ha I am sooo grateful for all of your support.  Love you!!!"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tiadong hen re le!!! ^_^ July 1, 2013

After last week's letter, we are grateful that Sara was able to get over being sick and push through the discouragement!  I appreciated the advice that her father gave her when she was discouraged about not having baptized anyone and reaching her halfway mark - "Hang in there Sara.  Remember it's about loving others.  That is where happiness in missionary work comes.  Not baptizing, Jesus never baptized anyone as far as we know. He did love and care and do good.  Making someone laugh or feel better about themselves will lift you as well."  Great advice and I hope that it lifted her in her efforts to be Christlike!  Here is some of her email:

"It is funny how it is so true that mission time is just crazy.  I look back on the weeks and think it has all just flown by, but sometimes I cant believe all that has happened in one week... I did hit my half way mark and received the camel mom so thoughtfully sent.  ha ha it is hanging up on our wall and gives us a good laugh whenever we see it.  So I did take your advice and get a blessing as well.  I could really feel Satan working hard on me to get me down.  I pushed through the hard times though and didn't miss a beat out their on the street.  I am a firm believer that whenever I am out that door, I have to put on a smile and have to open my heart to the spirit or there is no way I can do the lord's work.  I may have been not quite as Christlike as I want to be, but I did my very best and we saw some awesome miracles.
We are really finding through our LA's this week.  Most of our LA's are the only member in their family and lots of them have kids that just adore us missionaries.  As we have been bold and loving in teaching their children we are definitely starting to make some progress on the whole family.  It has been really fun to go to some new areas of Taidong as we are searching out the lost sheep.  We got lost a little ourselves sometimes, but is has been fun.  It is soooo hot.  I cannot describe how powerful the sun is here other than that I am getting darker and darker and most of the time the most we spend outside is an hour or riding our bikes to and from places.  It is dangerous to be outside in the sun too long, so we have been trying to be really careful how we plan everything.  My poor companion has really fair skin so it's even more xinku(difficult) for her.  
So some of the highlights of this week. 

We lost 3 of our solid investigators :(  1 moved to Tainan, one to Pingdeng, and one to america.  This is S... (on the far left of the photo)  Far right is Zh... ma ma.  She is an awesome member that takes care of us so much!  One of our members opened a new Korean food shop a little while ago and this is us at their opening party.   

This is C... she is the one moving to Tainan. It was sad to say goodbye to them, but fun handing them off to the missionaries in their new areas.  I know the missionaries there will have the same message and will help their testimonies grow.

It was cool to watch the broadcast about missionary work... unfortunately it didn't affect us as much as I would have liked.  The church here isn't quite as established so we are not quite at that point yet, but they have strong testimonies and that is why there are so many missionaries out here!  We have seen the blessings of members and missionaries working together and it really makes all the difference.  We are going to start working on helping them become more modern missionaries.  

Another strange experience that happened this week was one of our recent converts W.. Jm.  Her cousin died in a scooter accident.  He was out in this area for vacation and he and his girlfriend crashed.  It was such a terrible experience for their whole family (he was only 19).  It was all over the news here, but it was also an amazing chance for us to testify to her of the plan of salvation.  It all became so real to me as we watched all their relatives in mourning... as they all did the Buddhist traditional funeral...  I just wanted them all to know so badly where he was right now and that they could see him again.  I could feel the spirit testify so strongly of everything we talked to her about.  It was really amazing!  I could also see her mother and father open up to us and they could see we were servants of the lord.  They may not know it yet, but it was definitely a seed planted.  

We also had a fun experience going to our investigators house to eat.  She has been nervous about telling her husband she has been meeting with us, but he was actually super nice about it and supportive.  he also likes waiguoren (foreigners).  The elders were also super awesome and went with us to teach him English and he asked for their number...  which is awesome!  He even let us teach them all how to pray.  Her last name happens to be the same as mine too (wen JM) so we definitely have a special connection her family is awesome!  

Well that's about it!  Keep "jia you" family!!! 

Love you all!

Sister Sara Gummow"