Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Elder Holland came to my mission!!

Dear Family,

So this week was once again full of tons and tons and tons of miracles... so many tender mercies that it is hard to count.  I feel like every week just goes by faster and faster.  So this week's main highlight was the fact that Jeffrey R. Holland, and Elder Wilson, Elder Holstrom all came to our mission.  

They were here for some conference and were able to set up a special devotional for all the missionaries in our mission and then the next day speak at our sacrament meeting in West Taipei stake.  It was truly an amazing event.  Jared Winkel gave me a talk called "The miracle of a mission" http://laytreasuresinheaven.com/the-miracle-of-a-mission/ which has been one of my favorite talks my entire mission and it was sort of like having a live version.  He really helped strengthen our faith and commit us to be better. 

One of my favorite things that he said was something I had been thinking about lately.  One day I just really wanted to know who wrote Preach My Gospel.  I wanted to know how it came about... but Preach My Gospel itself gives no glory to any of it's writers.  When he was talking to us he said he felt impressed to tell us why they developed it.  He said it was because so many RM's come home and were going inactive or completely losing their Faith.  They were not living up to the things they had been teaching. They were so concerned that they developed Preach My Gospel... not to convert more people like I had supposed, but to help convert the missionaries.  Through a careful study of Preach My Gospel we truly learn the basic principles that our Faith is founded upon.  We strengthen our Faith in the core of the gospel.  The church unit is simply a way for us to live our faith, but preach my gospel tells us what we actually believe in and gives us the means to develop that testimony.  It is not something you memorize, but something like the scriptures, we ponder and apply.  Preach My Gospel has changed my life and I hope that every member is reading it... and continues to love it's pages as much as I have on my mission.  I have a principle that I have lived by on my mission and that is every single question I have can be answered through PMG, the scriptures, and the white handbook.  Those three resources have helped me through so many trials on my mission as well as the good times.  

So other than the amazing conference ( mom - I met that random lady from Thailand BTW whose daughter is going to our mission soon) we also had some really neat finding and teaching experiences.  One of the good news is that my old investigator  (when we changed areas, we had to give her to the elders) but she passed her baptismal interview and should be getting baptized next week!  We should be able to go to it too so I am so so happy!  

The coolest teaching experiences definitely happened on Sunday.  So a few weeks ago we had a finding miracle and knocked on these two doors and they both had interest and became our investigators... well this week we were finally able to find a peike (member who could come to the lesson).  It was so neat to feel the spirit at these people's houses and our peike gave us a huge hug and thanked us for the opportunity to meet these two people.  The spirit that was present in their homes was so so strong and it was so clear that the lord loved them so so much!  I have never felt the spirit so strong that it moved us all to tears and moves me to tears once again just thinking of the experience.  The best part is - we get to feel it and teach them every week.  I feel so blessed that the lord is letting me be a light to so many in Taiwan that are in a dark place.  

My favorite thing that I have been learning still is that we are Noah's arc... he is shining on us and we are his hope in this dark and dreary world.  He looks on us and smiles.  The cool thing is that Elder Holland said the same thing to us.  He told us that we are the ones the lord is smiling upon (the exact wording I have been telling all my sisters on exchanges)  I know the lord is proud of our efforts to do good and fight of the powers of satan.  We are strong and we have the power to crush that serpent's head!  

I wish I could tell you all the other really amazing things that happened, but just pray that I can get around to writing in my journal so someday I can share them with you!  

I love you all!

Sledding looked like so much fun.  I'll look out for the package for sure!  Give Jill another hug for me if you see her!  


Sister Sara Gummow

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Last Transfer

So this is the official start of my 11th and final transfer!   I must admit I have very mixed feelings.  While I am excited to come home... I feel very scared... ha ha and shebude likai taiwan (will be sad to leave (sort of... doesn't translate well)).  I have developed so many great friendships here and seen so many amazing miracles.  I have left my heart in so many places here that it will be hard to leave.  

This transfer has already started out great.  My companion is amazing!  We feel so lucky to be together for one more transfer as well.  I feel especially lucky that she is my last companion.  She really has so much fire for the work and wants to keep working and doing her very best.  She has enabled us to see so many miracles.  I am so grateful for her.  One of the fun things we are doing as a companionship is we memorize a song every week, so when we aren't feeling the greatest or just need a bit of a spiritual boost we will sing and it cheers us up... and it also makes the Taiwanese people laugh to see us riding around on our bikes in the freezing cold singing at the top of our lunges smiling.  This week was "Lord I would follow thee" and last week was "hark all ye nations".    

So this week has been one of the coldest weeks ever! and it rained... a lot... and we don't have many investigators so we were finding a lot... but this week we saw so many awesome awesome things happen!
So to start out we were able to get some pretty awesome miracle referrals.  We were able to set up with two former investigators that popped up out of no where and still have interest.  Both of which know the gospel is true, but have faced some family opposition.  I think it is their time though and they really will start progressing!  We also ran into a little old christian lady.  At first she told us she was too busy to talk, but we asked if we could say a prayer to bless her and she let us in.  After, she showed us this job that she is doing and was complaining a bit about her life so we just said we would love to help and we helped her for the next hour.  She is aborigine so she doesn't speak Chinese very well, so we just sang to her for like and hour while we helped her do her job.  It was so fun and as we left we said and prayer and hugged her.  As sister G hugged her she broke down in tears, pulled away a bit and then hugged her again crying.  I went over and we just told her the lord loves her and He will take care of her.  Then we told her we would be back again next week.  One of the coolest things ever!  I really understood the line in "Lord I would follow thee" that says' I would be my brothers keeper, I would learn the healers art, to the wounded and the weary I would show a gentle heart.'  This song is one of my favorite songs because I feel like it describes exactly why I LOVE TO FIND.  It is so cool to be able to be the lord's hands in bringing about good.

One of the funniest things that happened was one night we prayed to find a mother and we did... she turned out to be kind of crazy and dragged us to this random miao where they were giving away free lanterns for the lantern festival.  So funny... but good story.  We actually got to go to the main place where they send off lanterns for the festival last p-day.  It was freezing cold and raining, but we have a cool video that the member took for us of us sending off a lantern.  The area was really pretty too so you will love the pictures.  My flash drive is having problems right now so I can't send them today, but next time I will for sure.  

Ha ha and I don't know why, but the whole kidney stone thing clearing up really did clear up my skin as well, so I am looking much better recently.

There were many more miracles this week, but that is all I can think of off the top of my head right now.  One of the cool things was that we made almost all of our WPS goals this week!  It was really exciting especially because we don't have many progressing investigators right now, so to get members at our lessons was a bit difficult, but the lord really helped us because we were trying so hard.  

We finished the week very tired, but feeling great... we faced lots of rejection and lots of freezing time in the rain, but we know we worked our hardest and the lord really blessed us so much.  
One of the things I studied this week i would love to you all to read a talk called, "recognizing god's hand in our daily blessings."  http://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/01/recognizing-gods-hand-in-our-daily-blessings?lang=eng
It actually reminded me a lot of what dad has been going through...  Elder Christofferson talks about when he first got called as an apostle how they went through a major time of financial trials and how in the end he was glad the lord didn't take away the trial right away.  It really allowed him to know his heavenly father in a way he would not have otherwise or may have taken more time. It also shares a cool story - I will quote it here:

In the 1950s my mother survived radical cancer surgery, which was followed by dozens of painful radiation treatments. She recalls that her mother taught her something during that time that has helped her ever since:

“I was so sick and weak, and I said to her one day, ‘Oh, Mother, I can’t stand having 16 more of those treatments.’

“She said, ‘Can you go today?’


“‘Well, honey, that’s all you have to do today.’

“It has helped me many times when I remember to take one day or one thing at a time.”

The Spirit can guide us when to look ahead and when we should deal just with this one day, with this one moment. 

I also really saw this come into play as we prepared to leave our house this week... as we prepared to go out the door every morning knowing it was cold and we didn't really want to go out in the pouring rain again for a long time... but as we took it an hour at a time, a day at a time... we saw so many miracles and we made it through happily even though looking at the prospect of 8 hours in the freezing rain looked terrible somehow it really wasn't bad at all. This talk was seriously so good and really helped me take a new perspective the hard things we go through in life as well as the many many blessings we really do have.  

I am so grateful for the savior and his love for us.  I feel like my testimony of Him is increasing everyday and I am so grateful to be serving Him with all my heart might mind and strength. 

ha ha - dad I will let you know when I have time to be trunky... for now I don't think I have any time to stop and think about it too much! :)  I love you all and my prayers will continue to be with you!  

Sister Sara Gummow      

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Safe Ground :)

We are so grateful for the fasting and prayers of our home ward!  It helped get Sister Gummow through her bout of Kidney stones and helped the Lord's work continue to progress in Taiwan! Here is a picture of her sporting her fashionable hospital gown as she goes in for an X-ray to find out the condition of her kidneys.

Dearest family,

I have good news... I am officially clear of the kidney stone problem and even better... it didn't even really hurt at all.  I don't have to keep taking medicine anymore either, just drink lots of water because there is a bit of residue or something so I have to make sure my insides are good and cleaned out. Thank you for all the prayers and fasting.  

Guonian is very interesting and fun.  It is about a solid week of being invited over for meals and then a lot of people don't have work for 2-3 weeks. Guonian is fun and everyone is happier, but it is mostly just like a really long Thanksgiving... with lots of really loud fireworks... so not going to lie - I am glad it is over.  The good thing is that we were able to use our time pretty well and had some cool miracles of investigators meeting members and RC's being welcomed into the ward.  We were able to call most of our "qingke's" and invite people to attend with us so it all went really well.  We actually ended up having to miss about half of our invitations because of meetings and stuff, but that was ok too because we were constantly full and I had nice little breaks so I actually didn't gain any weight over Guonian!  

My favorite foods... I wouldn't even really know where to start... and I don't know half of their names, but everything is pretty good.  I must admit I am still a fan of sweet things so I love the red bean and green bean soups... soo good!  

So this week we were also taken up in a two day leadership training meeting where all the district, zone leaders, and sister training leaders went to Taipei from 9am-6pm everyday for two days... it was sooo long, but really really good.  We were able to address a lot of really awesome skills that I am really excited to go out and use as well as start training the other sisters on.  Our teaching pool is slowly starting to build up as well.  

We were able to have a really fun cool miracle this week as we were knocking doors.  We don't know our area that well so we just looked at an area of a map and we both chose a road that stood out to us... it happened to be the same road (definitely the spirit!) and then we just walked to wherever the spirit led us. Then I saw this random tiny tiny alley way and we started walking down it.. it led us to another random alley way.  No one was really willing to hear - then we get to a door and a man opens the window to talk to us.  As he opened the window, the man in the last house we knocked also came to the door, so my companion went to talk to them.  While she talked with them I was able to teach the man a lesson and set up for a return time. Then we went back into the other person's house and also taught them and set up a time.  It is really not often on a mission that you find neighbors who are interested in hearing.  They were both very interesting people, but I really felt of the Lord's love for them. We are excited to be going back this Friday afternoon :)  

We also found out that with the boundary splits, we have a few investigators that are not willing to set up with the elders so we are getting permission to keep meeting with them!  We are really excited to get a few of our beloved investigators back.  Hopefully it will all go well :)  

We have really seen the members stepping up and become really willing to help out the missionary work. I am so grateful for all of their service.  We hope we can continue to bring the spirit more into their homes and into their lives. 

I still love being a missionary just as much and the Lord loves me too because we have a really cool surprise meeting next transfer...  Elder Holland, as well as someone from the 70 and the presiding bishopric will all be coming to Taiwan on the 22nd to speak to all of us in Taiwan.  Elder Holland will also be attending and speaking at our stake conference.  Probably one of the biggest events since Pres. day has been a mission president and definitely since I have been a missionary!  I feel very blessed that I can still be a part of it and know it will be an event to be remembered!  

I think that is pretty much the gist of what has been going on here.  I don't really think there is anything I need, but start letting me know if there are any random things, or foods from Taiwan that you all would like me to take back with me.  I realized recently I haven't really acquired many souvenirs and I feel like I should have more... so if there is anything just let me know!  Thank you!  I love you!!!

Sister Sara Gummow

This is me and my companion at the doctor getting the x-rays... it was really an interesting adventure trying to learn all these words in Chinese...  x-ray is S-Guan1, kidney is shen4 - usually they say shenzhang.  

Here is my district at one of our last qingke's with one of our LA members who started coming back recently :)  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This week was a blast.... literally!

Sister Gummow visited the doctor again this week.  He was kind enough to blast her other, larger kidney stone so she won't be in as much pain as last week if it decides to take trip out of her kidneys.  Blessings come in disguises sometimes - you just have to look a little deeper!

Dearest Family,

So first yes we did go to the temple last week so I finally saw the new movie and it was wonderful!  I received so much new inspiration and it gave me a really different perspective.  It may be longer, but I felt like it was easier to not fall asleep in...  ha ha maybe that just is because now I am more used to my mission though...  

I really love that talk lift where you stand.  It has really helped me out in my mission as well.  
I can sympathize with Matt this week because Guonian is a very special time in Taiwan.  If it makes him feel any better we have 0 progressing investigators.  Ha ha it really is fun to go out and find and find, but sometimes it is a bit draining as well.  It is also interesting because my companion and I are often on exchanges, so sometimes keeping track of everything can be tricky because we miss a lot.  I am kind of used to all the pressure, but my companion sometimes gets a bit down or stressed out, so pray for her!  

This week I have been very grateful for my calling as a sister training leader... I have really seen how those hard experiences have made me grow and now I know much better how to help out the other sisters who may be going through a difficult time as well.  Pretty much whatever challenge they are facing I have been through at least something similar and I am still alive and happy so it is helpful for them to know they can overcome it!  

I have really been praying for the family and especially for dad, so I hope that everything goes well this week and the right opportunity opens up.  It will be interesting to see what the lord wants our family to learn from this experience.

So for my kidney stones...  miracle of the week is that it hasn't hurt at all.  I was really surprised and grateful. The interesting thing is that we went to the doctor this morning and I guess the first time I was hurting, I must have passed the left kidney stone without even realizing it.. we think it must have been sometime in the night when I was in so much pain... I don't really remember much so probably.  The weird thing is that they went in for an x-ray today and discovered I have one in my right kidney as well and it is kind of big... so they wanted to do a shock wave treatment to break it up.  I successfully survived the shock wave treatment and now they said the next two days it will hopefully all be good.  I go back next Monday just to check it all and make sure it is ok and the treatment worked.  If not they will try again next month.  I told him the faster the better... luckily medical treatment in Taiwan is super super cheap so I am hoping to get it all sorted out here before I go home.

It was really a huge miracle because if I hadn't gone in the first time, they never would have discovered the one in my right kidney.  I guess it was too big to really move so that is why it hadn't hurt me yet, but now it can be resolved so I feel like that was a huge blessing of the lord.    

So one of the cool things I learned this week has to do with the brother of Jared.  I was reading about the barges and how the purpose of them was to take them to the promised land.  The lord had a designated place... then he sent winds and waves to direct the ship.  He sent storms... to direct the ship.  

It made me think of them sitting in those boats probably terrified being knocked around, but always making progress to that land... the days there were no winds and no storms they wouldn't move at all.  They were probably grateful for the calm because it allowed them to rest, but in the end the calm didn't add to their progression in their journey.   

 I thought it was really cool because I think the lord does the exact same with us.  He knows what I need to become more like my Savior... He knows what dad needs, mom needs... every single person.  He knows that this storm will help us move toward the place He wants us to be.  I am so grateful for the challenges He may send our way... though it may be difficult and tiring and sometimes in the midst of the storm we may ask why?  but in the end we will see our progress and realize it was all worth it and really the lord was helping push us toward our goal.      

Another cool miracle was that as we were at the doctor, we met some people from our area and were able to share with them a really cool message.  They weren't willing to set up a time to meet, but I know she won't forget the testimony we shared and when she is ready - she will call us :)  

We also had a really cool experience at a qingke (eating dinner at a member house) we asked the member if we could invite some of our RC's so that they could get to know ward members better.  It ended up being a party and we had 3 RC's, 1 LA and a few members all there.  Almost all of the members were converts so at the end they all went and shared their conversion stories... so cool!  It was so powerful to hear their stories... definitely is an experience I will remember the rest of my life!  

I think that is about it for this week :)  Love you all!!!  

Sister Sara Gummow