Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm a Survivor ^_^

We were relieved to hear that the "Super Typhoon" - Usagi came and went and left Sister Gummow, her companion and Taidong safe and sound! While I was emailing Sara this morning, the Tabernacle Choir Broadcast was on and they were singing a beautiful song from "The Secret Garden" called "Hold On". The verse about the storm seemed particularly fitting for the day - so I emailed the lyrics to Sara.  She comments on them at the end of her email so I thought I would post a link to the words for those reading this blog too - just click on:  Lyrics to "Hold On"  to read them. My favorite verse is:

When you see the storm is coming
See the lightning part the skies
It's too late to run
There's terror in your eyes
What you do then is remembered
This old thing you heard me say
"It's the storm,   not you
That's bound to blow away"

Hold on
Hold on to someone standing by
Hold on
Don't even ask how long or why?
Child, hold on to what you know is true
Hold on till you get through
Child, oh child
Hold on

This song is also applicable because Sara hits her ONE YEAR mark this week! She has gone through challenges and growth and has held on to what she knows is true through it all. 

Time flies!

 Dear Family,

I survived the Typhoon!  Ha ha I know it was the biggest one, but honestly I didn't think it was that bad.  Taidong always seems like a little oasis that manages to avoid the worst of things.  This Typhoon was pretty strong and did keep us inside for one day... but despite a Saturday not able to go out we still saw many many miracles.  One of these miracles was we were able to find 8 new investigators... all from potentials or referrals.  Sooo awesome!  Next week we are setting a goal to find 12 new investigators. Pray for us.  It is amazing how when companions are able to work together
the miracles they start to find.  I think it is interesting that Matt has been able to stay in Zhong ming for 4 months.  I have been in Taidong for almost 6 months now.  I am glad it is here, with my family that I was able to hit my half way and one year mark.  We are all also expecting that next transfer I will probably be moving, but I would be very happy either way.  It seems though that I build up an area just enough that the missionaries after me find a lot of success.  We had some rough patches, but we really have some awesome investigators now and we are still finding more.

I will tell you two of my favorite finding miracles this week.  The first one is XXX.  She is a a Filipino. I met her a few weeks after I got to Taidong.  She had just married a Taiwanese man and moved here.  She was having a hard time dealing with all the transitions and she was really happy to speak to us. She was so happy to meet Christians and when we prayed with her she was so touched.  We all felt very much like it was the hand of God.  Especially because my companion and I had nooo idea why we were supposed to be on that bike trail right then, but then she rode up and just as we were about to give up and start heading home we prayed with her and she said she would go to church the next day.  The next day she really did show up.  We were so happy, but never had any time to teach her more about the restoration.  After that we called her a few times, but she never answered.  I thought it was just a miracle and then she decided it wasn't that important and didn't want to learn...  I was thankfully very wrong.  It turns out a few weeks after we met her (when she stopped answering her phone)  She had actually gone back to the Philippines and was there until a few weeks ago.  After she got back she was having a hard time and thought of us, but was nervous to call.  Then on Tuesday we get a phone call.  It was her asking us to come to her house and to meet with her and her husband.  We set up a time for Friday.  When we went we found some complications because her husband was a bit nervous to meet with us, so at first he made up an excuse to leave.  It ended up working out because XXX needed to talk to us alone and let us know what was going on.  Then he came back about 30 min. later.  He let us meet with them.  I don't think he would be investigating if it weren't for his wife, but he is willing to try.  I could see the spirit working on him and I have faith that the gospel really can change their lives.  He committed to praying as a family.  The next day I called XXX and she said that after we left he held her hands and they prayed together.  He already has one child too from another marriage and they will be praying with her too.  It was so crazy  to see how what Preach My Gospel says is true... No effort is wasted... and sometimes one New Investigator can turn into a whole family of 3.

The other miracle is actually similar.  My companion, Sister O....., and I were on our way home one day just tracting.  As we were getting our bikes we saw the lady from the binlang store down the street outside talking to a lady.  She seemed to be having a bit of a hard time and they were interested in us so we stopped to talk to them.  Then we saw her little girl and invited her to English class.  The lady on the scooter encouraged her to let her daughter go and be with Christians.  She said it was a good influence.... The next two weeks her mom brought her to English class, but we didn't see much more than that.  When we were going by we would stop and say hi sometimes and re invite her to English.  She started coming again about 2 weeks ago, but we actually decided to meet with her and ask her mom's permission to actually teach her about the gospel.  We were surprised at how happy and excited her mom was.  She actually really wanted xxxxx to go to church.  The next week xxxxxx came to English and brought one of her good friends with her.  We invited them to church last night and our MM leader helped pick them both up for church.  At church they found out that they already knew most of their Sunday school class and some of our members from school.  The lord really does prepare people.  They both set baptismal dates and committed not only to pray, but to come to church every Sunday.  It might be a bit difficult because they are little kids, but still amazing how the lord works.  Not only that but after xxxxx said she wanted to share with another one of her friends and asked for a Book of Mormon to give them.  We got 3 awesome referrals from investigators this week and all from things that my companion and I did here in Taidong 5 months ago.  We never know the Lord's timing, but we do know that he does answer.

One cool thing that I learned this week was from reading the Liahona from August.  It was a talk called "In His own way and in his own time."  It is all about how the lord reveals things to us.  It gives an example of how sometimes we expect the lord to answer us in really big life changing ways.  We expect answers like we read about when they get shocked by lighting or receive a vision... He says that this is like saying we will only listen to the teacher who shouts at us and ignore the wise teacher who speaks to us quietly.  As an elementary education major and one who has taught kids a lot on my mission I can attest to the fact that the only time a teacher shouts is when their patience is thin and the children won't listen to anything else.  It is a blessing that we can be the good student that can listen to the wise counsel of a teacher speaking quietly.  Are we the students that cause the Lord to shout as us to finally be able to hear His words??  or are we the kind of people that can listen and obey those quiet gentle promptings??  Do we need the Lord to shout at us to do good or can we see a need and fill it?  I am working everyday at being the kind of missionary who doesn't need those strong promptings, but can go and act on whatever the Lord says.

I'm glad my companion's parents contacted you!  They will probably be very happy to get some more information and pictures.  Also, it's fun that Matt is with someone from Lone Peak.  I hope he really likes Zhong Ming... looks like he might be like me in Taidong - in Zhong ming.  ha ha  we have 3 more weeks until transfers so I'll let you know if it might be more like 7 months here... ha ha I know that whatever the lord wants of me I will be able to do it and I am grateful for all these challenges that He has thrown my way... I really have changed... a lot! 

 Mom, thanks for the lyrics to the song, it really touched me and I would love to hear it!  I feel like I would really like that musical.  6 months!  It really has gone by so fast!!!  I can't believe that I only have 6 months left :(  It is kind of hard, but comforting knowing that the Lord is molding me into the person He wants me to be, so here we go for 6 more months of changing :)  I hope that He continues to bless you as much as He is us here!  Dad I will be praying for you specifically every week and next week we have fast Sunday so we will be fasting for you too.  We are doing a special missionary fast with our ward on the 28th so we are hoping to see some cool miracles from that too.

All right well I love you!!! Keep to the Faith!

ha ha and sorry about BYU's loss.  Maybe next year when we are both back it will be the good luck charm to break the losing streak.  I agree with Matt in saying that you are all "piaoliang" and "hen shuai"!  Everyone thinks our family looks so wonderful and I would have to agree... we have a pretty awesome fam :)  Love you all!

Sister Sara Gummow  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Lord's Timing - Sept 16, 2013

Sister Gummow sent us a letter last week with an SD card full of pictures.  Most are from her  P-day and with her previous companion from California.  What a beautiful area she gets to be in!  Here are a few fun ones I thought I would share (the last one is from her current zone): 

Dear Family,

Soooo this week I am learning more and more about relying on the Lord for His timing and learning that He makes up for our time as well.  There was one week that we had to go to Taipei and exchanges in Hualian so we weren't in our area for 3 full days, but the Lord let us meet so many awesome people that week and we taught so many lessons.  Our numbers were so high that week and I know it was because the Lord knew we didn't have time, so He let us see so many miracles.  I have noticed the same pattern over and over since then.

Sometimes we will go tracting for like 2 hours and not meet anyone and teach maybe one or two lessons, but sometimes we only have 10 min and we meet the prepared peoplď˝… ... good example of this is one day we finished a lesson a little late so our finding time changed from maybe 30 min to about 10.  We decided we should try anyway so we went down the street for a few minutes and ran into some little kids.  Two of the little girls mom came outside.  We got her number and left it at that.  On Saturday we thought maybe calling up some of our potentials would be good.  Not going to lie - at this point I had forgotten who she was, but I called and invited them to church... then they came!  Sooo crazy.  It was so funny... unfortunately her kids were bored and didn't like church so they haven't come back, but we have started meeting with them and they love it.  They set a baptismal goal as a family and started praying often.  It is all super super new to them, but I can really see them changing and she said every time she prays, her Faith becomes good again.  It is exciting to see the gospel start to change peoples lives.  Our past two weeks of finding have actually almost all been from potentials.  It makes me realize how important every single one of the people we meet are.  It is cool having been here for so long.  Sometimes I will just remember people we used to meet with or someone I met on the street and think I need to try them again.  The lord really know when people are ready.  

Another example is we have an investigator named Y......  Her family is "yi guang dao" ( I'm not sure exactly what church that is to translate, but basically they believe in one light and everything is good... it is similar to Buddhism  but different...)  and her husband is a traditional religion (Buddhism).  When we started meeting with her she was really nice to us, but it was hard to teach her anything.  She just wanted to chat and she didn't really understand anything we were talking about.  It took us maybe 1 month and a half for her to really start praying.  Every time she would say she was just not used to it and she was busy...  but last time we came we brought one of her neighbors who is our neighbor and she was waiting with her Book of Mormon and pamphlets out.  She has been trying to pray and she is still not used to it, but she wants to try.  Even better a huge motivation for her to learn the gospel is her family and this member and her started talking and that is all the member testified of - is how the gospel blessed her family.  We didn't even get to start the lesson for a good 20 min while they were talking, but I knew that that was exactly why the member came.  Even better they figured out that they know each other... their husbands are friends so she had seen her before.  Y.......... invited her to come over whenever she had time and said she thinks it was fate.  Sooo cool because last time our member at the lesson also knew her daughter from school and discovered her husband worked with one of our other members.... the lord truly prepares people to hear the gospel.  

I have a huge testimony of the influence of members on investigators because right now all our solid investigators that are progressing are doing so because they have seen how amazing our members are and they love that feeling.  They may not be used to it or understand, but they like being with our members and they can feel this is a good thing.  Also my testimony of the fact that you never give up on investigators. Sometimes they need to rest for a little bit, but because we have kept up so much diligence in teaching and friend shipping these people we have 3 families who are progressing in the gospel.

It is so much more effective to have them learn as a family.  One of those families is my sister, wen jei mei.  She has the same last name as me and we love each other ha ha, but at first it was just her learning, but she was afraid of her husband, so we started friend shipping him too and then they started coming to our church activities.  Last night we went to have dinner at their house and invited them to learn about the gospel as a family and invited them to baptism.  The husband wasn't sure about baptism, but he said he likes us and thinks this is a good thing so he is OK with us coming and teaching them and they said they would start praying as a family.  Even better wen jei mei said that he has changed so much already and she loves it. Sooo awesome how the lord works.  I have been meeting with her since I came, but now I really feel like things are moving in a good direction, but if we hadn't have had all those months of building that foundation, the invite would not have been the same.  The lord knows where we are supposed to be and who we are supposed to teach.  I am only worried now that next transfer I may be moving, but I know the lord will work things out here too.  

We went from 1 progressing investigator last week to 7... all of whom are newly progressing.  All 3 are families!  So awesome and we are so happy to see their lives changing.  Taidong is going to have some baptisms!!!  I'm not sure when, but I know all 3 of the families will make it all the way I'm just grateful for the privilege to open this door to them.  

Other than that Sister Zippro and I are still good... still some challenges so please keep praying for her, but we are good friends and that helps a lot.  Even more - I know the Lord will keep making up for our time.  You are all wonderful.  The pictures of the cabin look so fun and I can't believe you ran into Elder Patrick... sooo weird!  ha ha I don't even know what his first name is, but he was a great zone leader.  Give Joanna a hug for me!  It seems like you are doing a great job of taking care of her.  You are wonderful mother and that is why the lord is blessing you with such great health... he knows how much people would be missing out on if you did not have good health to bless all their lives.  We all have our part in building the kingdom of god and you have all been a part in my conversion.  Thanks for all the support and words of wisdom.  Dad I love you!  Thank you for setting a Christlike example.  It has helped me see what a family centered on Christ has power to do and given me the faith to realize who to rely on.  Humility is one of the things I really had to learn and I know I have learned it soooo much from your example.  

Bry and Dan you are both getting so old... Bry... don't steal ALL my clothes!  ha ha jk jk you look cute in them so it's ok.  Dan you better be thanking the lord for the privilege of making that band.  I think he wanted you to learn something too and maybe part of that was humility and diligence.  Just because you are good at something doesn't mean you can stop learning k? I love you all and pray for you every night.  Give Aims and Ben huge hugs and tell them to update me because I haven't heard from Ben in forever!!!

Sister Gummow

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another week in Paradise, Sept 8, 2013

Dear family,

Last week started out with a wonderful P-day to see some gorgeous flowers in the mountains.  Unfortunately it was a super long canyon drive and I got ultra carsick...  it's been a long time since I have really been in a car so apparently I get carsick now... but it was still beautiful and I was fine by the next morning.  Not going to lie though... I really love my bike now.  So efficient and comfortable to get from place to place.

This week we were able to find through our potentials.  The past few weeks we have been finding finding finding and now we are just trying to figure out how to turn our 10 odd other investigators into progressing investigators because we only have one progressing right now.  We are hoping for 3 baptisms this month, but we need some major prayers to make that goal.  We have one family who could still make it in time and a few other random people that have been to church before.  A....(she was doing awesome and then just stopped answering our calls one day), the S.... jiating( a mother with 2 little girls.  She is awesome and been to church once, but we just started meeting so they would have to progress soooo fast!)  W.... jiating (another mother with one girl interested and her husband is actually pretty awesome, but never comes to church...)  Soooo that is what we are mostly hoping for this month.  We also have a few other that we are really hoping we can help progress this month.

I love our investigators and have felt the spirit guiding me more than ever before.  I really have seen how the light of Christ emanates through his missionaries.  Especially when my companion was having a hard time. He gave me more light than ever before.  Yesterday, for example, I had to give a talk in church last minute because the talk canceled... yes this talk was in Chinese and yes I only had about 5 minutes to prepare. ..... so even though I was really sick Sunday morning I got up and gave a talk.  The funny thing is I even came to church in glasses and just felt terrible, but for some reason no one could tell.  It was so strange and wonderful.  I was grateful for the light that emanates even when I'm sick and not feeling good... it was still there and I still was able to help the ward.

One of our LA's came to church and it just made my day! I told her and was telling her how I didn't feel good, but seeing her made it all worth it.  She insisted on helping me out and asked the elders to give me a blessing. Even though I was embarrassed I felt so much better after the blessing.  It was like my whole body was filled with light again and I felt so good.  I was blessed I would have the ability to feel the spirit more.  I was so grateful because I have already felt it so much, but to have it even more is such a privilege.
Oh we also went on exchanges this week.  That was fun. I got to go to Hualian with sister M.... and my comp was with a Taiwanese girl in our area.  She did awesome!  I am so proud of her.  Unfortunately when I came back there are still some things she is figuring out so keep up your prayers for us.  We aren't in the safe zone yet.  It is like a boomerang a bit.  It goes and comes really quickly, but every time she get stronger and more able to overcome.  Thank you for you love and your letters!

I can't believe you saw Seulbee!!!  I didn't know she was there!

I love you all! jia you!  It sounds like everyone has been having some challenges lately.  My biggest advice is to choose happiness in it all.  Find some way... anyway to relieve your stress.  I sing... like all the time!  I also make jokes out of all the crazy or gross experiences I have had.  Whatever works and count your miracles everyday!


Sister Sara Gummow  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Tui ni de fu" September 2, 2013

Another week for Sara in Taidong!  I think this week in her second set of weeks in the transfer, so she'll be here at least another 6 weeks.  Things seem to be going well for Sara, but she needs some prayers for her investigators.  Pray that their hearts will be open to the spirit and they learn the gospel and that their desires will be to be baptized!

Hello dearest family!

Thank you for the email!  It put a huge smile on my face and I kept laughing at various parts... especially imagining mom at Costco driving the electric cart with grandma walking beside her.  I also can't believe your luck in getting over the injury so quickly.  Sooo awesome!  Mom, the lord really does love you so much!  I know it's not Mother's day, but I also just wanted to tell you how grateful I am for you example to me.  This week we had like 2 ward activities and did 2 FHE's with different families.  It was really awesome and at every one I got to bear testimony of how this gospel has blessed our family. 

 As we did our Hawaiian activity (huge success btw!!!  Thank you for all you help mom!!!)  I was just struck again how grateful I am for all you have taught me.  Sometimes I may take off a bit too much to bite, but I know that my talents and abilities have blessed many lives... not to mention how much every single person loves the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  I get volunteered to make them for things all the time (sooo funny).  

Apparently, I am known as the one who can cook though before my mission, this was not heard of...  ha ha "tui ni de fu" a saying in Chinese that means "stole your blessings", but really means just like "I learned it from you".  

So besides all the successful activities, we also had a few cool experiences this week.  We have about 4 families we are teaching right not.  They may not really be progressing right now, but it is still cool to be teaching so many families.  So far it is mostly the moms/women who are really progressing, but we are going to get there.  First I want to talk about all my Wen Jie mei sisters.  Apparently if anyone has the last name wen we are destined to be best friends.  One of the investigators families the wife is named wen h.......  Their English names are M.... and L.....  We have actually been meeting with her since I got here.  She was a former who set up with us when we came into the area.  It was cool because it went from us just teaching her to us meeting the whole family and the whole family has been befriended by our ward.  They love our ward activities and have some great friends there.  The thing is they still haven't come to church and are not really interested when we talk about the gospel.  I really believe that they will someday though.  They have so many great friends in our ward that even if they don't get baptized while I am here, I know they will someday.  

The other Wen Jeimei is a less active.  When I first got here we were able to befriend her and she came to church a few times.  lately it has been harder though and she refuses to set up appointments because it is really inconvenient for her.  She loves talking on the phone though so I started a new thing where I call her everyday and we share scriptures with each other.  I still don't know what kind of influence it will have, but I am praying that getting her to read the scriptures everyday really will have a great influence.  

Another cool less active story-   We went to visit our LA, J.... Jeimei. - so background is that she is a lady who came here from mainland China.  She met Christians in mainland and when she came here she already had a testimony of Christ.  She got baptized pretty quickly, but she doesn't necessarily have a testimony of the restoration so she kind of goes to other churches too sometimes, but she has been a lot more active lately.  Anyways after she got baptized, her son got baptized.  He stopped coming to church 3 years ago after his father died.  He was very bitter toward god.  I have never met him before, but one night a few weeks ago the elders set up a time to visit her and invited us to go too.  When we got there they invited her son to come in too.  It was cool because as we started teaching there were just question that kept popping into our minds to ask him.  He opened up and told us sooo much of why he hadn't been going to church.  I really felt the spirit guiding me to answer his questions.  I was very bold about my replies and after was a bit afraid because I just hoped my boldness did not offend him.  I had copied a child's prayer in Chinese and as we left I just gave him a copy and asked him to read it.  I told him if he prayed I know that god would answer him... so anyways I thought he went back to school the next week, but as we met with J..... Jie mei we found out he is still here!  She has been worried about him and just thanked us.  She said that after we left he said he really like us and we had answered questions that no one had been able to answer him before (I know that was only the spirit finally letting it touch his heart and teach him).  She thanked us for our words and said we didn't know how much of an impact it made.  It was really cool because after my companion and I were able to teach her an awesome lesson and commit her to reading the book of Mormon everyday.  

We are praying that this month we can see some miracles and help 3 people be baptized.  Please pray for me and my companion in filling this goal.  We are hoping Z.... Jei mei and W... 's family can be prepared this month for this wonderful blessing.  It is really all in the Lord's hands though so the more faith added to our prayers the better.  

Thank you for all your support.  I can not lie and say I am not a little discouraged by some of the numbers we have been getting, but I know that I will keep doing my best and loving everyone!  My companion is teaching me a lot and probably the most important thing is that I need to stop taking everything so seriously and just learn how to laugh sometimes.  Happy missionaries always have the most success.  I love you and I'm so grateful for all you do for me!

I am off to see some cool place in Taidong today so I'll try and take some good pictures for you all!!!

Love you!

Wen jei mei ^-^