Monday, March 31, 2014

I am in Taiwan and loving it!!!

I made it to Taiwan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happiest day of my life! Currently I'm sitting in a snazzy internet cafe and pop music is playing on the loudspeaker...I actually feel quite "babylon-ish"...most of these songs are pretty bad.

We got up super early after getting no sleep and traveled all day long, but the 15 hour flight was actually not as bad as I expected. I was going to be really motivated and study lots of Chinese, but they kept the lights off most of the time, so I think I slept for 7 hours straight. Got to take advantage of being able to sleep while you can! It was actually quite lovely, and I have had zero jetlag, so that has also been a blessing.

We stepped off the plane and WHOOOOSH humidity. Crazy! President and Sister Day met us at the airport and we got on a tour bus and went to the mission home which is across the street from the temple. We stayed in temple patron housing for the two days we were there. The next day we ran down around the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial (there's no way I spelled that right...oh well). I loved loved loved getting to be out on the streets around my favorite people in the whole wide world (the Taiwanese!). Over the next two days we did trainings and orientations and meetings with the mission president. He and his wife are the perfect mix of sweet and kind and caring and down to earth and obedience minded...I love them to death. We got to go to the place where Taiwan was dedicated for missionary service and read the dedicatory prayer. President Day also gave us the opportunity to say our own prayer of dedication to turn our lives over to the Lord. 

Finally Friday morning came, and that means transfer meeting! Most suspenseful thing ever!! I have been assigned to serve in.....wait for it.....
Song Shan! I am in the heart of TAIBEI!!!!! The Taibei 101 is in our area! I was really surprised- I didn't think I would stay in the city AT ALL, but I love it!!! My trainer is Sis Petersen. She is great! She has been here in SongShan for 3 or 4 transfers, and I will actually be her last companion because she is going home in 12 weeks! She is really good at working with the members and has a lot of great ideas. We are actually in the midst of renaming my New Missionary 12 Week Training Program because she feels like it is just counting down to her return home and doesn't want to get trunky. Instead of numbering the weeks, we whited them out and named each one after a food. This week is the chinese words for guava and apples. Fun stuff. We have an amazing area with a FANTASTIC ward. They just fellowship our investigators so so so much and they give us fruit and bread every week for our breakfast. There is a lady named Wu Mama who takes really good care of the missionaries and gives us too much food and just loves us. We share the ward with a tripanionship of elders. We don't bike here- we just walk and take the bus, which I was sad about at first but I love it now because we get to do a ton of street contacting, which is one of my favorite things ever. Basically, we just say hi to everyone on the streets and talk to them about the gospel and teach them how to pray and invite them to meet with us. Teaching someone to pray who has never ever talked to God before is one of the sweetest things! I knew the people in Taiwan were ready for the gospel, but I had no idea HOW ready they were....they are so open and willing to talk to us, and even if they aren't interested, they are still really nice. On Fri, for example, we went contacting for an hour and a half and taught three lessons on the street and got two new investigators! God is keeping His promise that he will go before our face and prepare people by pouring out his spirit on them. We have 12 people investigating right now- 5 have baptismal dates, 4 are really progressing, and the rest are continual investigators or just haven't committed to baptism- basically we are really busy! Yesterday we taught a sweet little 9 year old girl whose mom is less active and dad is not a member of the church, but her mom wants her to be baptized. She is so excited and already has a testimony, and is getting baptized at the end of the month. Her English name is Sharon and she is super sweet. Yesterday at church I got to meet a lot of the members.

I understood probably 40% of what was going on at church, and about 30% of what people on the street say. In lessons I can usually get the gist of what is going on, and I teach what I know and testify and invite. Everyone says that my Chinese is really good for just being here, and I know that's a blessing from the Lord. I am REALLY seeing His hand. I don't feel AT ALL overwhelmed with the language or the culture. Ever since I've been here, I have felt so calm. And so happy. :D I don't feel like I stick out. I'm sure the Asians probably think I do but whatever. :) I know that I can't understand a lot of what is going on, but I just do what I can and try to speak and talk to everyone and we are seeing MIRACLES. This area is so so so ready. 

her apartment is above a scooter shop-the one with the papers in the window
 Now onto things I've learned about Taiwan! I had them all written in my journal, but I think I can remember most of them!

-if you want cold water, you have to ask for ice or else it will be warm...not lukewarm, warm
-they don't really drink stuff with their meals
-we can't drink the water here (no one can) because it's not clean. yay water bottles and water filters!
-Taiwan has deliciously yummy food and drinks (my fav is wintermelon tea) and fruits. Basically my stomach is in heaven. 
-every meal we eat is rice and some kind of meat and veggie
-medical masks are in...I guess the air is bad?
-100% humidity is a real thing, and it makes your papers all wavy and your hair all crazy
-there are no self adhesive envelopes here because the humidity makes them glue themselves shut
-it is super cheap to live here...we get 7200 NT a month (divide by 30 to get the USD). A meal is around 90 NT, which actually is a lot more expensive than most places in Taiwan
-it doesn't matter if you go all the way around the world, the church still has the same carpet
-most places here don't have carpet
-there is an art to eating slowly enough that people don't give you bucketloads of food but also quickly enough that they know you like it! If your bowl is empty, you WILL be given more food and be forced to eat it
-Taiwanese children are the cutest things on the planet

I love it here! We are working hard and seeing miracles! I have never been so happy in my whole life!

Mu Jiemei

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"He's an American...He's speaking English!"

Can you believe that this is my last week in America?!  Next week at this time, I'll be in Asia! A few times a day, it just hits me that I'm actually going to be living in Asia for the next 16 months...crazy. I am completely terrified and at the same time, incredibly excited! It's definitely a strange mix of emotions!

Last Thursday was the most exciting day I've had in a few weeks! We got our travel plans!!!!!!!!! WE ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO TAIWAN!! We report to the travel office at 4:35 am next Tues morning and fly to LA, and then on to Taiwan, arriving at 9 pm on Wed, Taiwan time! We definitely all had focus issues for the rest of the day! We also got our full character nametags on Thurs! My tag actually has a different character on it for Mu than what they told me at the beginning of the MTC. It's still pronounced the same way, but this one means to admire or respect. The final exciting thing that happened on Thursday was as we were getting ready for bed. The fire alarm went off, so we got to hang out in the gym for a half hour! I guess someone burned popcorn or something....I was so glad I wasn't in the shower! All of the sisters in my zone just hung out and practiced reciting the First Vision in Mandarin.

I've decided that going on a mission is a lot like our life here on earth. Before we came to earth, Heavenly Father presented us with a plan. We chose to accept it, and were excited to come. Even though we knew that it would be challenging, and that there would be many difficulties, we knew that it would allow us to learn and grow and prepare for eternity. Earth life is not easy, but when we focus on the Lord, he helps us and blesses us to become like Him. We know that Heavenly Father has sent us to earth in our specific circumstances so that we can learn and also bless others. Our missions are very similar. The call to serve a mission has been extended, and we have accepted the call. We knew that it would not be easy and that we would need the help of the Lord to become the kind of servant that He was on earth. We have been called to a place and at a time that is very specific to us, and which will help us to bless the lives of many, as well as to prepare us for our work in eternity. 

Sister Smith and I will be doing a teaching demonstration for the new missionaries tonight! On the evening of the day they arrive, all new missionaries attend a teaching experience- "older" missionaries start the lesson and then the new missionaries as a group take over. I am excited but it will definitely be weird to teach in English (hence the title of the email this week!).

I have had many sweet and spiritual moments this week that have helped me feel how much the Lord loves me and that he knows me individually and personally. I am incredibly grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord that bless my life. 

Like I said earlier, it's still not real to me yet that this is my last p-day here! I think it probably won't hit me until I'm getting off the plane in Taipei! Ahhh! I am so ready- my language isn't, but I DEFINITELY am! I really cannot wait!

I love you all....and I'll talk to you from Taiwan next week!

Mu Jiemei

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"I just came from the doctor's." "Why? Ain't you feeling well?" "Oh, well it's an optometrist office- I work there."

Nimen hao! 

Okay, first we'll start with my optometrist appointment. The trip out of the MTC bubble was a little weird, but it was nice to see that civilization still exists! There was actually no one else at the optometrist except me and my companion and the dr, of course, so I didn't even get to talk to real people, which was a bit of a disappointment. But hey, it was a nice field trip!

Last week, we had the most AMAZING TRC lesson ever! The week before, we taught this sweet lady from Taiwan named Sis C. I felt impressed to share Alma 7:11-13 with her, and we ended up talking a lot about the atonement. She gave us the sweetest feedback and said that she felt the Spirit so strongly. Anyway, this week, we saw her again! She recognized us right away and came up and gave us a big hug (which is rare- Taiwanese people aren't huggy) and said, "I LOVE YOU!" She remembered our names and was so excited to tell us that she remembered the scripture we shared with her last week and that she had told everyone she knew about that scripture. It is such an amazing feeling to be loved by someone so sweet and amazing, and we know that it was the Lord helping us to teach this sweet sister and touch her life.

This week I learned what it truly means to be a successful missionary. It is all about the Spirit and love and people. Everyone wants to help people get baptized, of course, but it's really about more than that. In "Preach my Gospel" (a missionary handbook), it talks about how your success as a missionary is primarily measured by your commitment to do the will of the Lord. One of the greatest things about missionary work is that every single second is focused on someone else. Actually, thinking about the end of my mission just made me cry! (it's true- being on a mission makes you a crybaby.)

I am SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to be a Mandarin speaking missionary and to be going to Taiwan! The work in Asia is moving forward SO fast! Each of the sisters in my district know of at least 2 other people who have been called to Taiwan/mandarin speaking. Recently, Elder Holland (one of the 12 Apostles) dedicated Macau for missionary work! The brethren also visited Taiwan and China and several other Asian nations. So amazing! We are preparing the way for the gospel to be spread to all Asian people! Someday, China will be open for missionary work- I just know it. That gives me extra incentive to keep up with my Chinese so that someday I can return and be a missionary there! AHHH! I feel so privileged to be called to Taiwan and to get to speak Mandarin.

I am SO ready to be in Taiwan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am excited and terrified all at the same time. I know that my Chinese is still pretty terrible, but I feel like there's a limit to how much I can improve here where I'm not surrounded by it all the time. We should be getting our travel plans this Friday!!!!

I LOVE YOU ALL! Thanks for the emails and letter and dear elders! They really do make my day!

Mu Jiemei

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"talks in a high nasally voice like this..."

Nimen hao! I can't believe I only have 2.5 weeks left in the MTC! I am so excited!!!!!!! Guess that means I better start learning Chinese.....  ;D

I feel like with each week I have less and less to say because every day is pretty much the same. All of my daily journal entries have been like a 1/4 of a page this week instead of my usual 1 page- there's just not a ton of news here! 

Okay, weird experience of the week - sitting in the MTC clinic office while the lady talked to mom on the phone! It was so strange to know that she was talking to her. I decided to get an eye exam now because I have been getting headaches from not being able to see. On Monday, Sis Smith and I get to take a shuttle to go the optometrist. Everyone is jealous of us because we get to leave the MTC bubble and go on a field trip. :D

We've been teaching lots of lessons and learning lots of Chinese. I have learned a lot about myself while being on a mission- I'm confident that I've never been so aware of every single fault that I have. But actually, it's a blessing, because I know exactly where I need to improve. I have been praying to Heavenly Father to show me the way He thinks of me, and I have had several very special and sweet spiritual experiences and tender mercies that have helped me trust in the Lord and in my divine nature. 

I love being a missionary so much. It's the best thing I've ever done in my whole life. The speaker in the devotional yesterday shared some scriptures with promised blessings about missionary work. Several of them talked about our families being blessed- I hope that my family can see blessings from me serving. I know I am being blessed tremendously. It is a life changer.

I am SO excited to just get to Taiwan. I feel like I will progress much faster with the language there. Also, they have good fruit and I'll get to see the sky!! Yippee! We should be getting our flight plans in the next week or so. I am the travel leader of our group. They sent me a funny letter about how I have to count everyone at all times and in big letters it said DO NOT WANDER AROUND. There is also a part of the letter that is in Chinese with instructions so that if we get stranded, we can show it to someone so they can help us.

I am about out of things to say, but I want to end with my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I absolutely know that it is true. I have no doubts whatsoever that it is the word of God. As we have been using the Book of Mormon more in our lessons with those interested in learning about the gospel, we have seen miracles. The Book of Mormon can help us answer or overcome literally any question or trial that we have. I know that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and that it is the best way for us to learn of Him and develop faith in Him. One thing that I have noticed is that every time the name "Redeemer" is used, it is always preceded by "my", "your", "their", or "our". He is my Redeemer- I know that to be true! There is a literal power that comes into the life of a person who faithfully studies the Book of Mormon. I know this because I am experiencing it. I am incredibly grateful to get an hour each day to study the scriptures, If you want to come closer to God, read the Book of Mormon. If you want a testimony of the gospel or of really any subject, read the Book of Mormon. If you want to find an answer to a question or need help with something, pray and read the Book of Mormon and look for the answer. I promise you that you will find it. If you want to feel the Holy Ghost more strongly in your life, read the Book of Mormon. PLEASE! Read the Book of Mormon! Study it! Every day! Everyone is familiar with Moroni 10:3-5, but take a look at verses 6-7 "and whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. And ye may know that he is by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same yesterday, today, and forever."

This is true- I know it.

Mu Jiemei