Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas - New Year

Sister Gummow's email this week was awesome! We enjoyed talking to her and are excited to be on the countdown to when we can see her again. 2014 will be a really great year!! Time is truly flying by!!

I know it's a little early, but Happy New Year family!!!

Thank you so so so so much for the amazing Christmas call and presents.  I did get cards from many people and most surprising a great Christmas package from Bryson Carrier!  Ha ha huge thanks to him. :) my companion and I are both enjoying it and we LOVE hot chocolate and I always wear fuzzy socks... all of it super good choices!!!  Mom - I loved the pictures and I'm sad the Christmas Banner didn't make it, but it was a super cute idea and I loved looking at all the pictures.  Thank you so much to all of them!!!  
The Christmas Banner we sent that did not make it :(
I emailed her the individual pictures this week
 so she could at least see them

The member we ate lunch with is actually a less active member and her husband is not a member.  They are super fun and love to travel.  I love going to their house and we had a great lunch with them.  Their house is very much like an american style house, so it is really fun to be with them.  Our next transfer is next friday.  Sister Du will probably move though because she has already been here for 4 transfers.  I have a feeling my last companion will probably be a "waigouren" from the US - so it will be fun to see how the last two transfers go.  Don't worry about my SD card either.  I still have two.  I will be sending one home with Christmas stuff and then use the last one until I go home.  Sorry I have been not as great about sending pics home as I planned ha ha.... 

So this week has been really interesting.  right after lunch when we called we rode our bikes home in the freezing cold rain, so when we got home we were soaked.  My companion had just started getting a cold and by the time we got home she was just dead... so instead of having wps like planned, I got to take care of my sick companion.  It was really bad timing too because we had two more christmas performances for choir and she is the narrator...  So that night when she was feeling well enough to walk again we had the elders come to our apartment complex and give her a blessing in the foyer while I reported to a member to help me report for our meeting we were supposed to go to.  I felt so bad for her, but the good thing was I got to read all the talks that Bryson gave me (thank you!!!)  Luckily my companion has great faith and she truly started getting better after that.  She was out until the next night, but was fine for our performance and is continually getting better.  It is kind of sad though because it is our last week together :(  We are sad to be separated, but it is definitely time.  Our district and zone is ready for some change and I think our investigators need some new thoughts too.  I have learned that continuous change really promotes growth.  The minute things start getting a little stale (no real improvement) it means it is time to change something up.  

So even those this week we had less time out spreading the gospel we had a really cool 
Sunday that really impacted me.  One of the speakers in sacrament shared the scripture in 3 nephi 14: 4-7?  I can't remember which verses but it talks about how the when we need bread, parents won't give their children a stone or a serpent  - so how much more does the lord know what we need.  Then he shared about the story of the brother of jared and when they were making the ships.  He talked about how would it have been if the brother of jared heard the lord's answer and decided that he didn't quite like it.  Then he talked about how the lord knows what we need.  How often do we get blessings, but because it is not quite what we would like we brush it off.  How often do we take the bread the lord gives us and make it into a stone and throw it away.  I occasionally still get a little sad that I haven't had any baptisms and I will pray asking the lord why or what more can I do?  As he spoke it seemed a lot like the lord was pushing me to take a look at the blessing He had given me.  Even though I haven't had a lot of baptisms I have had the opportunity to strengthen many members and have a lot of LA's come back or new members become more active.  That Sunday we had 6 LA's come to church because of our efforts, but that is not all... when the lord says he pours out the blessings of heaven He really doesn't hold back.  Right after our first ward ended we met with our teenage investigator Xie JM.  She has a baptismal date for 1/11 which means she needs an interview next week.  She was willing to meet with us two times this week so that she can meet this goal.  She is excited, maybe a bit nervous, but I have all Faith in her that she will make it.  She was actually taught mostly by the elders (we have only taught her for 2 weeks) but she wasn't progressing with them so they handed her over and she has just taken off.  We really have some great investigators right now.  I may not exactly understand why my mission has played out as it has, but I have loved and will continue to love every minute of it.  

I really hope that my mission has changed me.  I guess I don't see it quite as much, but there are definitely some times on my mission I would call growing pains where it is hard not to see my own growth.  Those trials that the lord gives us are really because He loves us so much and He wants us to become like Him.  I know that whatever challenges our family may be facing right now that the Lord is there with you.  Trust in Him, turn to Him.  He will let you know what to do and what to say to help this bad situation turn into something wonderful.  I think the thing that I have learned the most is to not lose hope.  Have Faith in the savior and His atoning power.  No matter what wickedness goes on in the world, the Savior's atonement can overcome any trial or sin.  

I know that wherever our missionaries are that 1.  they are not perfect as I always used to think... but they are becoming perfected.  The lord sends us our own personal training camp on how to overcome our own natural man.  That is my only advice for any missionaries going out or wanting to go out.  Let your mission change you.  The lord will require some breaking where we turn OUR will over to HIM, but it is so worth it.  I have never been so happy... or so tired or felt to inadequate, but mostly just happy to have the lord with me and supporting me.  

Good luck to my wonderful brother who is going to be training.  Help your companion understand the importance of the PMG and the fundamentals.  You may not be a perfect missionary, but I know if your companion learns those things from you He will be forever grateful.  Don't worry so much about the numbers or Chinese... be exactly obedient and follow the training manual.  If you do that, you don't have anything to worry about... the prophets and inspired people who put the training program together have already done the worrying for us :)  I love you!!!


Sister Sara Gummow ^o^

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Eve - 2013

Our email from Sister Gummow came a day later this week because their P-day was changed to Christmas Eve.  We were excited to actually talk to her on Christmas Day and were so happy to hear her voice!  It was a bit crazy because we were with lots of extended family and had some technical difficulties and such, but we will be seeing her and hugging her in just a few months!  Her release date is set for March 29th but we have not recieved flight info or anything yet.  She was happy and upbeat in her call although we were sad to hear that the Christmas Banner that many of you participated in, that we sent never arrived.  The envelope and a message saying "I hope you enjoy this banner" arrived, but the banner was not inside. So sad..... I will try to email her the pictures this week instead.

She told us that they were given a special surprise at their Christmas Day Zone Conference - The Doctrine & Covenants translated into Mandarin Characters and Pinyin (The phonetically written form of Chinese)!!  So exciting to see the work continuing to progress!

Dearest Family,

Sooo lately we have been crazy crazy busy.  We have been having to split work every Sunday and sometimes on Saturdays because we have no time to teach our investigators!  ha ha between exchanges and the Christmas choir we are often out of our area, but the Lord has been blessing us so much lately!!!  We have had 2 different families randomly walk into the church because they wanted to come.  We have had some awesome referrals and though finding time is short the Lord has magnified our time.  Plus others are busy so we had a few investigators tell us they had to wait until next month to meet with us and we consider it a blessing :)  

Today I got the cutest email from koji kano and it made me realize that I haven't really told you much about how you can help us out here with our investigators because I haven't mentioned them much... so I will give you a quick summary of them and what you can do to help :)

The first one is a LA's wife, Sister T.....  She has 2 little kids and she is progressing really well, but she still hasn't made it to church.  It is hard for them to bring their kids, but I think there is more, so pray for us to know how to help them come to church.  She really needs to start coming to make her baptism date in January.

The next one is a teenager - sister x.....  She is super cute and her older brother and boyfriend are both RC's so they give her pressure.  She has a testimony, but is still a bit nervous about baptism.  She should make it, but pray that we can know how to help her keep all of the commandments. 

We also have a members older sister, Sister Y....  She is adorable, but because of work she also can't come to church.  She needs to talk to her boss, but is a little afraid.  We are going to fast with her this weekend, but she could also use courage to know how to talk to her boss and that her boss will have an open mind and heart to let her have sunday's off.  

Then we have J....!  She left for a while, but we were able to meet with her yesterday and she told us she wants to get baptized!  We set a date for her birthday on 2/22.  so they all need your prayers to be able to endure to the end!  ha ha they are really really awesome so i have faith they can all make it. 

I have loved my time with sister du, but it is quickly coming to an end.  You will get to meet her tomorrow and she is really excited!  You can also practice your chinese with her ^_^  That is pretty much the summary... I am also dying with cold, but what else is new.  This is a funny picture of sister Du before we went on exchanges.  We both had so much stuff and were wearing so many clothes we looked ridiculous and I loved it ha ha she is great!

This is our Christmas companionship picture. We printed some to send to you in cards, but still have not sent them... so you have christmas cards that will be coming... sometime...

sorry I really tried, but our p-days are only like half time because of choir and stuff... :( 

Merry Christmas and I love you all so so much!!!  I haven't got the package yet, but it is probably waiting for me at the office so I will get it on Christmas Day :)  I love you and thank you so so much for everything!  Tell the family and friends we love them and the Neihu members also tell Joanna "hi".  I saw chen rong rong and qiu Jei mei and cai Jei mei.  So they all say hi!  


Sister Sara Gummow

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Concerts :)

 Sister Gummow seems to be extra busy these days.  She was chosen to be part of a Missionary Christmas Choir and they keep them extra busy in addition to her Sister Training Leader Responsibilities.  I wish I could send her a few extra hours to add to each day!

"Ya, so this week sounds like we were pretty much up to the same things ha ha we were going to lots of concerts and performing.... super busy and super fun.  so between our exchanges with sisters and performances our time is really limited... like we can't even meet with some of our investigators because we don't have time.  Super super lame, but the lord is still very efficiently making up for our time.  We have had so many awesome member referalls this month.  I really think in the next month or two we will be seeing their baptisms and I am very excited about it.  The biggest problem is still helping people get to church, but I know we can do it and we are having a nice focus on it this month so I hope to see that changing soon.  

 I also got both letters and my companion and I love all the CDs.  she can't listen to the talks because she doesn't understand, but I will definitely find a time to listen to them.  I might have an american companion next, but probably not. I feel like I might end my time in taiwan with "bundiren" (natives)  I am actually super grateful that I have been blessed with so many natives because it has really helped my chinese and when I can't read or write things they can always help out.   so so nice :)  our p-day will also be moved to the 24th or 25th I can't remember which, but yes I love all the stuff.  the scriptures every day are really fun too and bring a special Christmas spirit.  

So i think the thing i have learned the most lately is how much the lord loves us.  It is really fun to do exchanges and see how different every exchange experience is.  It is cool to see how the lord knows exactly what we need.  He tailors every exchange, every day, every hour to fit those specific people.  I really believe more and more that the miracles we see are exactly what the lord knows we need to see.  I love being a missionary and I love having the lord be such a close part in my life.  We had a general authority come, Elder Packer (70's) who is over the family history department.  It was so cool to hear him speak.  What stood out to me the most was how we can so clearly see the spirit of Elijah in our lives.  He invited us to share family stories.  It is amazing how quickly the spirit comes in when we are sharing a favorite memory.  If we can do this with people on the street, LA's, members going through trials... really anyone it will bring such a great light into the room and this principle of families can open many hearts.  So I invite you all to take time to discuss a family story with someone everyday.  When you hear theirs and share yours notice the wonderful spirit that is there and remember how the lord wants us to have these things forever!  

His wife also spoke about exact obedience and how we do it because it allows us to more fully have the spirit to be with us.  I know that this is so true. I really can feel the difference in a day where I got up right on time and started all my studies on time vs a day that maybe I was running about 5 min. late.  it may only be 5 min., but it throws the spirit off 5 min too and sometimes we need it right now not 5 min. later.  I really have seen and felt the blessing of obedience... sometimes we can't control our companions, but we can be perfectly obedient in our own spheres and I have really felt the difference in the spirit when perfectly obedient and when I am not.  I think this applies to you all really well because it is the same principle with all the commandments including reading scriptures and praying.  When we get lazy with any of these things the spirit won't be with us as much, but I know as you do - that the spirit will more and more be a part of our lives.  I love you all and sorry time is running a bit short so i gotta go, but I love you!!!

Sister Sara Gummow  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shengdanjie kuaile!!

Here is a picture of Sister Gummow from a Thanksgiving Activity that they had in their ward in Taiwan!  She has much to be grateful for there and is really catching the holiday spirit!

Dearest Family,

Hello :)  well it seems like this week and the rest of this month are just going to fly by!  I must admit our schedule is a little bursting full.  We have to go on exchanges with sisters about 2x's a week and we are also in the missionary Christmas choir.  We were all specially selected to participate and we travel all over Taipei singing at different Christmas parties and stuff.  We are out of our area performing 2-5 times a week.  So between the two we are pretty booked full.  It is really fun though and the Lord is definitely taking care of us.  We have received so many member referrals lately and they are really taking up the invite to invite someone to church.  Super cool and super fun to see the hastening of the work to it's fullest in this area.  It is really fun because there are a few Xinban members that know my friends from college or who attended BYU-H with me.  There are sooo many people who have excellent English in the ward, so that is really fun.  Don't worry though... my Chinese is still pretty good.  It could be much better, but I have mastered the Taiwanese accent.  Here are some pictures from the past few weeks

This is our Thanksgiving dinner.  One of the X

inban members made curry and a bunch of other delicious things for us.  She is actually a returned temple square missionary and her three daughters are the cutest!!!  The elder on the far right is Elder M.  His family lives in American Fork.  They just moved there a few weeks ago though.  

The first day of December we put up the tree and the stockings :)  Our Christmas is getting more and more festive.  I haven't got the Christmas stuff yet, but I'm sure I will soon.  I did get the Philippines and my friends printouts.  I was super touched by the Philippines stuff.  Thanks for sharing!!!

Two days in a row of exchanges.  I got to go with a sister H.  She serves in Xinzhuang and she is from Zhanghua (where Matt is serving)  She doesn't live that close to him though, but her dad is good friends with his bishop so he told them to take good care of my brother and the bishop already invited them over for dinner.  super cool :)

It sounds like the weather is pretty cold there!  It has been pretty nice in Taiwan.  It was a little cold the past two weeks, but the past few days have been pretty warm.  Thank goodness!  I haven't been sick yet so thank goodness!  With all these exchanges I am going to need some prayers it is really really exhausting sometimes, but also really really fun.  The sisters we serve with are super awesome.  

We are going to be booked out with Christmas activities.  Between our zone conference and performance and then two different wards (we serve over two Tuchen and Xinban wards) and their ward parties we are going to have a very festive Christmas.  It should be very fun and a great opportunity for our members to do missionary work.  Ward parties are the greatest!

So I think the biggest missionary miracle this week is that we got some more investigators with baptismal dates!  our 4 before died down to 1.  The 1, XX JM is still doing awesome!  She is so ready, but has some problems about Sunday.  She is praying about it though and has faith that the lord will help her.  She is keeping all of the other commandments and doing just great.  The other 3 that set dates with us are actually all from referrals too.  Super awesome!  One is an LA man's wife who told him she wanted to learn about the gospel.  Her name is xxx JM.  She is really wanted to know about her life purpose and who God is, so it is awesome and exciting for her husband.  Another is a teenage girl.  She was meeting with the elders before because they helped her brother get baptized and her boyfriend is a member.  She hasn't been progressing lately though so they are passing her off to us to see if we can do anything.  Then the other is from English class.  The elders were English contacting and she decided to come.  Turns out that she really has a ton of questions about our religion.  Right now it is more of a curiosity.  She is not really desiring baptism, but she is willing to do our invites and feels good about prayer and stuff.  She is really awesome and fun to teach.  We really have some awesome investigators right now.  I only feel bad because I don't feel like we have enough time to give them the time and care they deserve, but it is a great opportunity for my companion and I to learn more about time management skills.  It is going ok so far, but we have a lot of room for improvement. We are just praying we can get it down or the new investigators this month are not going to be very many... If you have any good suggestions about better time management let me know!  (here is a picture her companion took of her calling her report in)

So Christmas phone calls also got much more complicated as you can see from the mission email I forwarded.  It looks like I might not get to coordinate it with Matt.  

I love you and wish you a happy happy holiday season filled with Christ in every thought! :)  I love you all

Sister Sara Gummow ^_^

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December is here!

Here are a few pictures from the SD card that we received from Sister Gummow last week!  These are from when she was serving on the East coast.

Sister Gummow is doing really well and shares with us some valuable lessons she has learned:

Family :) :)

So it always brightens my week to hear from my wonderful family!  I really have learned the power of prayer since being on a mission...  I am always praying and I have never once regretted stopping for a moment (even when we are late) to say a prayer.  I have found that this small act really allows the Lord to make up for our time.  I also love INVITING the spirit to be with me.  I am so grateful for his constant companionship.  Sometimes we aren't aware until he leaves us (thank you for that reminder), but I have many times where it is manifest again that he is guiding me. 

 This week we had a neat experience... on Wednesday night at planning we were looking at where to go at 11 and so I just suggested the first place that popped into my mind.  The next day we went there and at first not much was happening.  We saw a lady sitting down at a park bench and decided just to go talk to her. As she started talking to us we found out that she has been going through some hard things.  She was divorced a few years ago, is now living with her daughter, but was just recently diagnosed with a disease that makes her slowly lose her eyesight and her face is partially paralyzed.  She didn't have much going on in her life.  I was immediately reminded of my prayer that morning that I could be an instrument to lift up the heavy hands and help those who have little hope.  As we told her about our Savior and His perfect love for her I know that she didn't quite believe, but she hoped that what we were saying was true.  She was nervous to promise us a time, but we just said that we would be back in that area the same time on Friday.  So on Friday we showed up their in faith that she would come.  We waited and didn't see her so decided to say a prayer to decide what to do next.  As we finished the prayer we looked up and there she was walking up to us.  When we called her name she had such a happy smile on her face.  I know that the spirit was working on her to help her feel the hope of our message.  We will do the same thing next Tuesday, so we pray that it will be the same result.  Luckily, we do have her number so I don't worry that there won't be a next time. 

 I know that this was a direct answer to my prayers.  It is easy to think sometimes that our efforts are not enough or why are we doing these things, but then the lord lets us see little miracles.  I am so grateful to be an instrument in His hands.  It may not always be in line with my expectations, but just like a hammer and a saw are different tools - so are we.  The Lord has different roles that He wants us to play.  Each are very important.  Our job is just to be the very best tool that we can and to always be willing to do what He would have us do.  

I have also learned a lot about companionship unity while on a mission.  I have been with all of my companions for 2 transfers and I have seen the same patterns with all of them.  Here are a few of the lessons I have learned #1. remember we are all imperfect people.  #2. service helps overcome any problems #3. the atonement can heal any wounds #4. having the same vision/goal is essential. #5. no matter how great people are you will never get along 100% of the time.

I absolutely love being with Sister -, but a lot of it is because of things that I have learned earlier in my mission about how to be a better companion myself.  I have realized that no matter how great a person is, they are still not you so they will not have the same thoughts as you... we can really hope, but communication is essential.  If they don't know how you feel, you can't have things improve.  It is also important to remember though that we all have weaknesses and sometimes it is more important to forgive, forget and take the next step forward.  

I love the talk Elise quoted ("The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar) because the looking outward is essential.  If you are always focused on your needs and they are always focused on their needs - neither of you are taking care of each other.  We all have bad days sometimes and your companion should be the first one to lend a helping hand.  It is exhausting feeling like everything rests on your shoulders, but knowing that you will have a companion to get your back is the best feeling in the world!  

The most important thing for me to learn was how much the Savior's atonement can heal any wound.  No matter how many times we make the same mistakes the Savior always forgives us.  I learned this lesson in a really hard way a few transfers ago.  I woke up being a bit frustrated with my companion.  It seemed like no matter what we did, she always fell into the same pattern and I was mad because I didn't want to deal with it anymore.  As I was starting personal study I said a long heartfelt prayer and the Lord rebuked me.  He reminded me of all the mistakes I have made as a missionary and before my mission over and over and over.  Every time I made the different mistakes, I would promise not to do it again and every time I would make the same mistake, but the Savior never got frustrated with me.  No matter how many times I fell into the same old bad habit, He would look at me with hope that maybe this next time I would really change.  I realized that if I wanted to be like Christ I needed His atonement to help me have this hope that not only could I change, but that others can too and that whether change came or not to apply the forgiving power of the atonement.  One of my favorite scriptures talks about how the power of the Word healed their spirits.  I know that this is true because every time I have been tempted to be frustrated with my companions, I have turned to the scriptures and immediately the lord has helped me overcome and see the situation a little more like He would. 

 I read a story in the August 2013 Liahona called "Grace for mother duck" https://www.lds.org/ensign/2013/08/grace-for-mother-duck-and-me?lang=eng
I feel like I am so often like this, but I am grateful for the Lords forgiveness and His help for all my many little mistakes. 
I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn a bit more about my best friend, my Savior, Jesus Christ and I know that this Christmas time we can all set a few more goals of how we can set aside our own selfish desires and become more like Him.  Our Heavenly Father gave us the best gift He possibly could.  I invite you all to think of a Christmas gift that you can give Him this year.  

Mom I also want you to know that my prayers are all joined with you and I am glad you all decided to have a "White Friday".  The temple is truly the best place to be.  It is christ that will be that solid foundation in a world of shifting values.  I do not get elizabeths emails so you could send those to me :)  I also loved the recipes thank you!!! I will pass them on to xxxx for sure!  

I will be praying for the family!!!  I will finish my application stuff today if I can too.  Thank you for all your help!!  

Sister Sara Gummow