Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Riding a a rainstorm...while wearing a skirt. I love being a missionary!

We exchanged with the Sister Training leaders last week and got caught in a HUGE rainstorm! It was pouring and thundering and lightning (which doesn't really happen here!) and we were trying to bike home in it! It was actually really fun because it was so crazy, and it sort of felt like a video game- you know how in Mario Kart where you're trying not to get hit by all the stuff that will kill you and then you get inked and can't see? Well, switch out the swinging spiky things for taxis and busses and the ink for rain in your eyes, and that was us! Love it! Times like these make me realize that I really am in a foreign country riding a bike in a skirt and telling people who are thoroughly Buddhist in a language I don't really know how they can become Christian! And I love it :D 

One of the many Buddist temples in Taipei
We saw a really neat miracle on that exchange. We had a little bit of contacting time before we needed to be back at the apartment, so we said a prayer and Sis Gagon asked me where I thought we should go. We both felt like we should head a certain direction, so we started walking. We found a lady who was texting on her phone and started talking to her. She was super interested and we set a baptismal date right there and then! So neat!

Another amazing miracle we saw this week was that Sis Petersen was looking through her old planners and found the name of someone who was potentially interested in learning about the Gospel. Next to it, the guy had written "Linkou Taibei". She was serving in Taoyuan at the time, and at that time, she thought it was bogus because there is no Linkou district in Taibei and it didn't work when she tried to send the referral. But when she saw it this time, she realized that Linkou is a street in our area! It is actually a street where one of our recent converts lives! So we called him up and he agreed to meet with us! I think if he wasn't prepared to hear the gospel last year when sis petersen found him, he must be by now!

Alpha and Beta. We gave them an alarm clock and talked about the importance of church attendance on Friday and they still didn't come to church. :( So we will keep trying. There must be something that is stopping them because the love the scriptures and are still going strong with the word of wisdom- we just need to find out what their real concern is. Hopefully we will be able to meet with Beta and his parents this week and discuss some of their concerns.

Cleaning the baptismal font.  Now it is nice and sparkly!
 This week I read Helaman 3:35 in my personal study. (..They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.)I love this scripture- I love especially the part about yielding your heart to God. That is my goal- to yield everything to God and become pure and sanctified. I feel like my mission is definitely helping me to "wax stronger and stronger in my humility". God wants to kill the natural man, not just tame it or temper it, but kill it completely. In order to do that, we have to give ourselves completely to Him and trust that He knows us and will give us experiences that will refine us into the person he wants us to be.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Growing taller and the gift of tongues

It was a great week.  Our sweet miracle 9 year old S was baptized on Saturday! Such an amazing experience! We have been working with her and fighting for her since my first week here. I really hope that this will help her dad want to become active in the church again so that next year he can baptize their son and they can be sealed together in the temple- there is nothing that I would like more for them right now! She shared her testimony at the baptismal service and talked about how she felt so clean and wanted to come to church everyday.

Beta passed his baptismal interview this week! But, his parents want him to wait until he is 18 to be baptized, which won't be until the middle of July. That made us so so sad- we just wanted to cry! He is so prepared and loves the gospel and hasn't had tea or coffee, both of which he loves, in 3 weeks and is so strong! We are praying really hard for him that the hearts of his parents will soften and allow him to be baptized before that. We have faith that we can see a miracle with their family. 

So apparently, not only am I growing spiritually but also physically too! I noticed this week that all my skirts are a good inch and a half shorter than they used to be, and this past week when I saw Sis Smith, she said, "Sis Murri! What's up with your growth spurt! We used to be the same height!" Crazy! I felt like I was getting taller but this past week confirmed it!

Usually not a fan of McDonald's but it was so good!
 My Chinese is coming along. I have been trying to read from the Book of Mormon in pinyin and characters and I am able to get about 20% of the characters ,which makes me really excited! I can't wait to be able to read! God is blessing me SO SO much to learn this language. I literally would not be able to be able to speak a quarter as well if it were not for His power and influence. There is no other way to explain it. The gift of tongues is real, but not in the way I originally thought. I don't say words I've never learned before or anything, but my ability to memorize and retain what I study and see is way beyond my own capacity because of His grace. When people ask us on the street why our Chinese is so good, we always tell them it's "Shen de zhufu" (God's blessing). So true!

Our mission is now on Facebook- 2 elders have just started getting things up and running. We are supposed to get ipads in Aug and then we will be using it every day to communicate with interested people and members of the church. Crazy!

This week I have been studying a lot about faith. I started reading “Jesus the Christ” a few weeks ago and I LOVE it- so many amazing insights. This week as I've been studying Christ's miracles, I've realized the literal power that is imbued in our faith. It is not figurative. I love Moroni 7:33. ("And Christ hath said: If you will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me") Our faith makes everything possible.

Love you! Love the work! Love the people! Love Chinese! Love being a missionary! 

Sis Murri

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Sort of like New York City, but with Chinese characters everywhere"

This week had some super great highs and also some disappointing parts. C L was baptized yesterday!! It was so exciting! A guy who was baptized a few months ago got to baptize her, so that was super cool. The whole thing went really smoothly and she gave a great testimony at the end. Watching someone get baptized really made me think about my role as a missionary. I really can't take credit for any of it. It's interesting- we spend all our time trying to help people, but in the end, it's really about God and them. It's not about us at all. But it is so amazing to see people take that first step and be baptized. Alma 29:10 was how I felt yesterday! (that scripture says, “And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then I do remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he has heard my prayer, yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.”)

Skyping on Mother's Day with the family in different places
Another great high of the week is that S, our sweet 9 year old, is on track to get baptized this Saturday! Our goal is to really focus on her family and reactivate her dad so that they can partake of the blessings of the gospel as a family. We asked her this week why she wanted to be baptized, and she said, "well, I've never done it before, and it will make me closer to God". Such sweet simple faith.

I don't really have a lot to tell you about this week, so I think I will just try to describe to you what it's like to be in Taibei! It is a big city and sort of like NYC except Chinese characters everywhere. There are busses and cars and scooters and bikes and taxis and people everywhere. There are lots of old people here too. Well, probably not more, but they are just more active than older people in America. We talk to people who are 80+ quite regularly.  It is a thing to be proud of to be old and they still walk around and buy food and exercise in the park by hitting themselves (apparently it increases circulation).

playing a game with the English class
There are advertisement cars that blast loud music or words. There are Buddhist parades with fireworks maybe once a month on a god's birthday. There are a ton of Buddhist temples here and on certain days of the lunar calendar, people burn incense and sacrifice food and money out in front of their businesses and the whole place smells like a campfire. Every house and business (pretty much) has a big Buddhist altar. We mostly do street contacting to find people who may be interested in learning about the Gospel. We tell them who we are and ask them if they believe in God. Usually they say no, that they are Buddhist, and a lot of the time we teach them how to pray or show them the Book of Mormon, or if they are not interested, we give them an english tract. Someday I will bring you all here so you can really see what it is like! 

I am trying to work hard and make the best use of the Lord's time. It is easy to always wonder if I will ever be doing enough or working hard enough or speaking well enough but I have to trust in the lord and use that to motivate me. I have learned so much about myself and about life on my mission already. I love the gospel so much and it is so amazing to be able to just do gospel things all the time. I love teaching people that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them. There is no concept of loving and merciful God in Buddhism. I think I have always taken that for granted until now.  This past week, I have really been working on my prayers. Prayer is something I take really seriously. How wonderful of an opportunity is it to be able to talk one on one with the Creator of the Universe, the one who loves us perfectly and is all- powerful and all knowing. Wow. What a privilege!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Nicotine, soft serve, and fake eyelashes

Well, somehow I forgot my planner which had everything written down that I was going to tell you, so we'll see how much I can remember! I feel like my brain has disintegrated after 3 months of using a planner. The planner has pretty much become my brain now! Hahaha!

a peek into a missionary's apartment

The temple last week was so great. It looks like the Dallas temple from the outside but is different on the inside. My favorite part was right when you walk in the temple, there are two sets of double doors, even before you get into the lobby. Following with Chinese tradition, between the first and second set of doors is a place where you take off your shoes. I thought that was so significant and it really reminded me of the sacredness of the temple. 

 We saw some really amazing miracles this last week! We set a baptismal date with one of our long-time investigators, WGJ !!! This is HUGE for him. His goal is June 8th. We have really seen a change in him lately. We are really working with him and praying for him to make this goal. He has had a few different baptismal dates in the past but never made them. He has been coming to church and institute (a scripture study class) for over a year but has resisted being baptized. He finally opened up this week about some of his concerns and that really helped us know how to help him. We pray for him and think about him and plan for him and worry about him and discuss him all the time- I don't think he'll every really understand how much we want to help him- and how much the Lord wants to help him. I think being a missionary is giving me a taste of how the Heavenly Father feels about His children. 

We also got several new investigators this week and set baptismal dates with all of them. May and June are going to be so exciting here in SongShan! We have met some absolutely amazing, humble and prepared people this week. God is keeping his promise to hasten his work.  We also had some amazing church members accompany us to teach this week- they were just perfect for our investigators and had just the right amount of boldness and love. 

Some funny things that happened this week: 

·      I confirmed my new finding technique of talking to people who are smoking or who just finished smoking. I tried it out three times this week, and it worked all three times! When you think about it, though, people are in a good mood because they've just gotten a good dose of nicotine, so they're more willing to talk to us! They gave us their numbers and agreed to meet with us!

·      The elders just started teaching an interesting woman who is afraid of soft serve ice cream.

·      The lady at the fried rice place we go to all the time asked me if my eyelashes were real. She was a little bit incredulous when I told her that I had mascara on but that they were real. 

Taiwanese ghali (curry).  So good!

This morning in studies I was thinking about all the places that say that if you “thrust in your sickle with your might”, you will “lay up salvation for your soul”? Why does faithful missionary service help qualify you for exaltation? I think the answer is in becoming a missionary. If you give up all of you heart and desires and wishes to God, your mission will change you. God will change you. I can feel that change. I am learning so much and really having a refining experience. I think my mission will be the foundation for the way I want to live the rest of my life.

me :D