Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baptisms, mountain climbing, and a little typhoon

This week will be my last week in SongShan! Sis Roy got the call Saturday night that she will be training this upcoming transfer, which means I will be moving! I was not surprised, actually- I've had the feeling all transfer that I would move. Transfer meeting is this Friday, so on that morning, I'll find out where I'm going and then head out! I have loved my time in SongShan. As I sat in church yesterday for the last sunday here, I realized how much I love the people who I've met the past 4 months! This past transfer has gone by SO fast! But I am excited for the new opportunities that are waiting in my new area!

Last Monday for p-day, we went with W Mama, the elders, and a couple of ward members and hiked a mountain! It was absolutely exhausting but so fun- and the views were incredible. The very last part up to the peak was 300 super steep rock steps basically straight uphill...we all huffed and puffed our way up and just collapsed at the top! Afterward W Mama took us out for mango shaved ice, which tasted so good because we were all so hot and sweaty! 

On Wednesday we had a little typhoon. It was not actually that exciting. No one was on the streets and we had to stay in our apartment until 1 pm (usually we leave after studies at 11 am) but other than that all that happened was a little wind and rain. 

The best part of this week was that H JM and her two daughters got baptized yesterday!!!! They are the most prepared people ever. They were a referral and had already been going to church for 6 mo- they just love the gospel and were so excited to get baptized! H JM said that she always thought her family was just different but didn't know why- as soon as they started learning about the gospel, she said she felt at home because everyone was like them- trying hard to be a strong family with good morals. Their whole baptismal process has been one miracle after another. Their schedule was free so they could meet often. They accepted all of the commandments in one lesson (usually we break it into two or three) because they were already living most of them, including tithing. They- especially the kids- just "clicked" with Sis Roy and me, something that just hadn't happened with missionaries they had met with in the past. The Lord's hand has been guiding this whole process! I am so excited that I will still be here in Taiwan in a year and will be able to accompany H JM to the temple to receive her endowment. That will be such an amazing experience! I feel like their conversion is a fulfillment of the promise in my setting apart blessing that if I would follow the Spirit, I would "have the opportunity to teach and baptize individuals who.... are waiting for you to arrive.”

I love Chinese! I feel like my Chinese is improving every day! I rediscovered again this week the power of the Book of Mormon. The past couple weeks, I had been skipping reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese because I felt like I needed more time to learn my phase 2 words. But then I started noticing that I was having a super hard time memorizing the words and getting them to stick. So, I made a more concentrated effort to read the Book of Mormon in characters for 30 min during language study and use the remaining 30 min for vocabulary. The result has been incredible: memorizing has been a hundred times easier, and the words just stick. I have no other explanation than the power of the Book of Mormon and the gift of tongues. I have been picking up a ton of characters lately- I can get about 50% of the Book of Mormon, which is super exciting! I really love Chinese- I feel like it just makes sense in my brain. So many blessings!

from SongShan for the last time,
Sis Murri

A little something different....

"And it came to pass that on the 16th day of the 7th month, the SongShan sisters did ascend to the mountain of the Lord's house. And there they did worship the Lord their God and receive much inspiration concerning the sacred things of God. {Neat side note- we got to do some of the ordinances in Chinese, which was a really amazing experience. I love the temple so so much.}

 And it came to pass that after much inquiry, they did receive a visitation from two men, who came with the intention of repairing that which, for the space of many days, had been broken. And after the space of five hours, and with many tools of curious workmanship, it came to pass that Sis Roy and Sis Murri did again have air conditioning. And thus they did have joy and rejoice exceedingly.

On the morrow, they did go forth among the people, to preach the Word unto them. But behold, there were many who would not hear the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the sisters did press on continually, making an effort to speak to everyone on YongJi Rd, for they knew that the gospel must be preached to every man.

 Yea, and concerning the appointments which they had made with those who were desirous to join the church, it came to pass that larger part of those who had said unto the sisters that they could meet did not show up. And it came to pass that the sisters were grieved in their hearts, but behold, their joy was still great in knowing they had worked with their might to bring souls unto Christ.

And thus we see that men may exercise their agency unto the reception or rejection of the word of the Lord.  

And it came to pass that H JM, and her daughters are still unto this day, desirous to join the church of God. And at this time, they are preparing to witness unto the district leader through an interview that they are prepared to receive this ordinance. 

And it came to pass that the sisters did persist in their efforts to contact C Dx, but behold they did not meet with success. And behold, this was a strange thing unto them, for he had previously been very much engaged in learning the gospel of Jesus Christ. But inasmuch as he did not attend church, his baptismal date must needs be moved back. But behold, the sisters still at this time have much hope for him."

Hope you got all that. Seriously, not much has happened since Wednesday, so I had to find a way to spice things up! :D

Love you!
your favorite Taiwan Taibei missionary!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Salsa dancing to Rhianna?

This week has been hot....literally and figuratively! 38 degrees Celsius and so much happened this week! We had temple tours last Tues, and we had a ton of people come in and take tours, which was awesome. We set two baptismal dates for the elders.

The H family (mom and two daughters) are on track to get baptized on the 27th. They are so excited and so prepared and just awesome. The mom has an amazing sensitivity to the Holy Ghost. They will have their interviews this week!

C DX is still doing AMAZING! He continues to read the Book of Mormon every day and ask super great questions. We taught him Word of Wisdom (The Lord's law of health) and Tithing yesterday and he committed to live both, no problem!! WOOO!! It has been so neat to be able to find someone, teach them all the lessons, and then be able to see him get baptized on the 27th! Working with someone from start to finish is just a super neat process- you can really see their faith grow and change them. We are praying really hard that he will be able to come to sacrament meeting the next two weeks- that would be the only thing that would keep him from baptism. 

We are just trying really hard right now to find new people so that after all those we are currently teaching are baptized, we aren't left with an empty teaching pool.

Our recent convert CY DX was confirmed! He is so great! The Sunday School lesson was on keeping the Sabbath day holy, and afterward, he said to us that he was going to need to get a new job because the job he just started requires him to work every Sunday! Yeah!

On Monday we had a specialized training meeting on a change the apostles recently made: we will now be teaching all 5 lessons before baptism! And, we will be leading out in the new member lessons instead of the ward members, as well as we will be expected to have close contact with our recent converts for 4 months after baptism, and remain in contact for at least a year. President Day is really emphasizing this last part and is asking us to be sure to write letters to those we taught who were baptized once a month even after we are transferred. I am excited to start implementing these changes and I think they will help prevent converts from falling away.

Yesterday afternoon we went English boarding (2 hours a week we go as a group to somewhere where there are lots of people and hold up our big English class sign and pass out as many English fliers as humanly possible). On the same street corner, there was a lady handing our pornographic ads for World Gym and a guy handing out boring looking pamphlets for some government thing. I don't think they were too happy to see us because we were totally out-doing them. We were holding up our sign, passing out tons of fliers (at least 150 in that hour), talking to everyone, people were coming up to us and asking for more one point the guy with the boring pamphlets just sat down on a bench and stopped trying and overall just looked super glum. Poor guy. It's amazing what 4 foreigners and a good cause can do for ‘ya. 

That was pretty much the week!
Love you!
Sis Murri

There is a park near the church that we often go to run at that has the most interesting collection of people ever. There is a group of old ladies that are there every morning practicing salsa dancing. Last week they were dancing to some song by Rhianna. Bet Rhianna never thought that old Taiwanese ladies would be dancing to her music every morning at 6 am. There is also a group of yellow pants, polo shirt old people who just stand there and shake their arms. Literally, they just stand there for at least an hour and shake their arms. Interesting. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tsunamis, duanchuans, and baptisms, oh my!

On Tuesday I took a 4 hour train ride down to the east coast as part of the “tsunami”! (they sent a bunch of extra missionaries farther south to help them try to find more people to teach) The train ride down was absolutely gorgeous! I kept getting distracted from my studies by the beautiful scenery out the window! 28 missionaries were sent to various areas- I was assigned to YuLi, which is between Hualien and Taidong, with a super cute Taiwanese companion, sis Zhong. 

 There is not a single place on the island of Taiwan that could be MORE DIFFERENT than Taibei!! YuLi is a little town with maybe 2 taxis, no buildings taller than 3 stories, and 2000 people, max. There is no one out on the roads. The town is surrounded by mountains and there are lots of open spaces with farms. People would just chat with us, even if they weren't interested in our message. In Taibei you have about 30 seconds to get in a message and let people feel the spirit. 

We spent most of our time in another small town called RuiSui (which is actually a 20 min train ride away from YuLi but still part of the YuLi sisters' area) knocking doors. We never knock doors in Taibei because it is just not productive: as soon as we say into the little doorbell thing that we are missionaries, they say "bu yong, bu yong, xie xie" (no use, no use, thank you) and hang up. In YuLi we would walk up to a house and call in through the screen, "you ren zai jia ma? (anyone home?). People would just let us in to their house before they even knew who we were and would give us fruit and water. Completely opposite of what I am used to! We spent all day finding and talking to people. President Day's goal for the whole tsunami was to find a total of 110 new investigators of the Gospel. As a group of 28 missionaries, we found 171!!! So cool! The whole 14 companionship group contacted 3256 people, got 572 phone numbers, placed 144 copies of the Book of Mormon, set up 217 appointments for the local missionaries, and taught 226 lessons! It was exhausting but it was really a great 4 days! I was actually super popular there.......with the bugs! They have these little tiny dark mosquitos that are vicious. One afternoon I forgot to put on bug spray and got literally hundreds of bites! Hahaha! Luckily they have stopped itching, so I have my sanity back. :D

When I got back on Fri night, Sis Roy told me that we had been chosen to get two duanchuans (short term missionaries) for a week starting the next day! The east stake is doing an activity where the youth could sign up to be missionaries for a week. So, we have two 17 year old YW staying with us this week and following us around.

One of our coolest investigators right now is C DX. I met him a couple weeks ago on the street. We shared a little bit with him and set up a time to meet. Honestly, I didn't think he would show up, but he's met with us 3 times and is reading the Book of Mormon every day and writing down what he learns! He is super humble and asks really great questions. I taught him the Plan of Salvation on Saturday with my duanchuan. After teaching that lesson, I always like to ask people. "how do you think knowing about this will influence your life?" Usually they say they don't know or don't think it will influence them. When I asked C DX, he said he thought it would change his life's purpose- that up until now it had been mostly about him, but know it would be more about God and other people. Yeah! He really just got it. That was a neat moment. He has a baptismal goal of the 27th, and we are working really hard with him to make it to that goal. 

Love you! Thanks for all the prayers! I pray for you every night!

From the other side of the world,
Sis Murri 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New companion, new people to teach, and a new menu

I am officially done with training, and now being "broken" (breaker is what we call our 2nd companion in the mission)!! It was so so sad to see Sis Petersen leave- we have gotten really close- but I have a great new companion.....more about that in a minute!!

out at a  hot pot place before Sis Petersen left
 We saw SO MANY MIRACLES THIS WEEK!!! WOW! God is so good to us! We have gotten a million super golden referrals!!

Beta called us this week! We set up to meet with him at an older couple's house from the ward. We had a great lesson with him. We asked him if he believes the Book of Mormon is true, and he said yes! We talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost and asked him if he still wanted to be baptized. He said yes!!! His parents wanted him to wait until after his birthday, so we asked him when his birthday was and when he wants to get baptized. He said July 20th!! He is such a good kid- please pray for him that he will keep progressing and come to church every Sunday (his biggest challenge right now).

Elder R and his pitchpipe
 One of the other miracles from this week had to do with temple square tours. On Thursday as we were doing tours, a man came in and said he had read all of and wanted to know who to talk to to join the church!! We grabbed the Brother and Sister Baird (public affairs missionaries- we're not allowed to meet with a man alone) from upstairs, Sis Petersen gave the tour, I translated for the Baird’s (they don't speak Chinese), and we invited him to baptism on July 27, and he accepted!! Actually, he asked if he could get baptized earlier! He came to church yesterday!! He took notes and asked a ton of questions! 

We met with a super golden phone referral this week as well- W JM! She went to church as a child and remembers feeling a "really good but hard to describe feeling". She is super sweet and humble and we set a baptismal date with her for the 27th of July! And....she came to church yesterday!!!! Pray for her!

We also had a lesson with a C DX that we met last week on the street and set a date with him as well! He didn't come to church yesterday but sent us a text and said that he was so sorry that he overslept but promised that he would be on time next week! I think he will be solid!

sign on the MRT that shows what is at that stop
The temple sisters gave us a referral for a family of three that wants to be baptized! We called them and the mom said that they need the church and want to be baptized and they told us all the dates they can meet and everything! Wow!

Friday was transfer meeting. I don't think I've ever told you how transfers work here. On Wed night, if you or your companion are moving, you get a call from the Zone Leaders and they tell you to come to the transfer meeting on Fri morning. Everyone who is moving from the mission goes to the meeting at the chapel across from the mission's like a great big reunion. :D President starts first with assigning the new missionaries to their trainers. Then he uses a slide show with everyone's pics to announce the changes. He loves to make it super suspenseful and everyone claps and cheers. Basically, it's a ton of fun! My new companion is Sis Roy! She has been on island for 10 mo, has great Chinese, and loves taking out the trash just like me. :D I am really excited to work with her.

In other news, the people that own the fried rice place that we go to all the time sold it to another couple- the man is Mexican and the woman is Taiwanese. So now, in addition to having yummy Taiwanese food, they also serve salsa. Hahaha! It is so tasty!

Sister Murri