Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy moments and sad news

This week....was interesting. Good, happy, sad, hard- we had it all. :D

Our friend J (who just got baptized) took us out for stinky tofu. It was not as bad as I was expecting, but definitely not my favorite thing ever. It didn't taste as bad as it smells- which is like a sewer. Literally. But I don't know that I would eat it again. It is one of those things you have to try when you are in Taiwan, though. :D The stinky drains part is about our apartment- sometimes this stink just comes out of our drains and makes our house smell bad! It is actually a pretty common thing in Taiwan. 

Last week for p-day we went to world chocolate wonderland. It was a pretty fun place- we took a ton of pictures! At the beginning, they gave you 3 chocolate coins to use to "buy" free samples throughout the exhibit. In the first two rooms we went to, there were no things to buy, so Sis Branch started eating her chocolate coins. She ate all three before we found the first place where you could get a free sample. The lady asked for her coin, and she said she had eaten them. They gave her a sample anyway. The same thing happened at the next place. At the third place, you could use a chocolate coin to buy a postcard to send to someone. Sis Branch loves postcards. But the lady wouldn't give her one without the coin. Object lesson learned? Don't settle for a chocolate coin when you can have a postcard. :D It was especially funny because just that morning, we had watched the Mormon message about patience- you know, the one where the little kids stuff the marshmallows into their mouths.

J was baptized this week! He was so excited! After his baptism, he bore a great testimony about how he is so grateful for the Book of Mormon and how it helps him find answers to his problems. 

Before the baptism, one of our members asked if we had heard the news. We said we didn't know what she was talking about. She told us that two elders in our mission who were serving in SanChong passed away during the night from carbon monoxide inhalation. We were- and still are- all in shock. Later that night we learned who the elders were. One of the elders is Taiwanese, and the other is American. I was in the Missionary Training Center with the American elder- he was one transfer behind me, and in Sis branch's district. Either the carbon monoxide detector didn't go off, or they didn't have one or something and since it was at night, they didn't notice it and just didn't wake up the next morning. There have been news articles posted by Deseret news and others. Please pray for Elder Thredgold and Elder Xiong's families- our hearts are breaking for them. We are all a little shaken. We have a working carbon monoxide detector and are being extra careful. I don't want you to worry, but I know you will hear about this sooner or later and want you to hear it from me first. 

This gospel is true! It is so so so true! It is the key to true joy in this life and forever! Live it!

Sis Murri

Hills, heat and hard work...and Taiwanese paparazzi?

This week we worked really hard to find new investigators- lots of tracting, ringing doorbells, street contacting, etc. We weren't blessed with the success we had hoped for, but we have a firm belief that there are prepared people here in DanShui, and we are doing all we can to qualify for the Lord's help in finding them! This week I sort of embraced the hard- the hills, the heat, the sweat, the rejection, the not showing up- and just gloried in being able to do the sweaty, hard work for the Lord, and that made all the difference! Every day, I made a dedicated effort to consecrate my time to God and focus not at all on myself. And it was such a good week. :D

Our investigator J passed his baptismal interview this weekend! His baptism is scheduled for this coming Saturday evening! He is so amazing- so generous and ready to become a member of the church! He always asks great questions and we are so excited for him! He is taking Sis Branch and I to eat stinky tofu on Friday, since neither of us have had it before, so that should be fun! Stinky tofu smells like a sewer, but apparently it tastes really good. I guess we'll find out....

Every time we have gotten on the MRT the past 2 weeks, people have tried to sneakily take pictures of us...except it never really works because their flash always goes off or they are just super obvious. It makes us laugh and we always just tell them we will take a pic with them. I am sure there are so many pics of Sis Branch and I on the internet that we don't even know about! Hahaha!

Several of you have asked me lately about Chinese...I love Chinese so so much! It is just such a neat language and I look forward to my hour of language study every day! Teaching and navigating life in Chinese is pretty much a non-issue. I love learning to read and write the characters! I love the way that everything has a meaning and the ways the characters relate to each other and how I can now start to guess how to pronounce a character I've never seen before (and sometimes I'm even right!) and I love speaking and how I don't have to think about it really. Basically, Chinese is going great. :D I have been so incredibly blessed by the Lord to be able to learn the language and have a love for it- I see it as a direct fulfillment of the promises in my setting apart blessing. The gift of tongues is so real.

This week I went on an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders in Tucheng. From the moment we got off the MRT in Tucheng, it was POURING rain. We had a member visit to go to, and the member lived a good 35 min bike ride away across the city. We donned our rain ponchos and started off. As we were riding down the side of the freeway in the pouring rain, in our bright yellow rain ponchos with our skirts flying everywhere, I thought of the counsel in the white handbook and on the dress and grooming website that says to always maintain a clean, professional conservative appearance. And then I laughed out loud, because at that moment, I felt anything but clean, professional, or conservative. And then I laughed again, because I realized I didn't even care. Love being a missionary. :D
The doorbells played "It's a small world"
This week I have been diving into the words of the prophets and apostles in conference talks- I have almost read through every conference issue in our apartment! When I have a few min of free time before studies or before bed or during meals, I have been studying them, and I have noticed how much more I am focused and in tune with the spirit! I feel like I receive so much revelation from the words of the apostles and prophets- both for me and my investigators. I have also been focusing this week on receiving revelation during my personal prayers. I have tried to be more diligent about listening to the voice of the Lord and always having a pen in hand to write down inspiration I receive. The result has been incredible.

I love you! Stay firm in the faith, and read the Book of Mormon every day!

Sis Murri

A startling discovery, and a warning from the Spirit

This week I made it up a half mile hill that we have to ride up to go from the MRT station to our apartment! Yeah! That was an accomplishment- the past two times I had to get off and walk up half way through. But this last time I was determined to make it so I just put my bike in the lowest gear and powered all the way up. :D And as I told Jared last week, I am actually getting tan, which is a new experience for me since I have never been anything but white white white. Kinda fun. 
evidence of a actual tan...for nicole, that is

Tuesday I had one of the strangest experiences I've had since coming out on my mission. We had set up with a less active member who lives up in the mountains to go help her pull weeds. On the way up, she called and said she wasn't feeling well, but would still like us to come and help clean the inside of her house instead. We got there, and there was blood everywhere, literally everywhere- on the floor, on the table, on the chairs. We asked her what happened and she said that her friend who was staying with her cut his hand two days earlier. We went into the room and there was dried blood all over him, his clothes, his hand. We tried to convince him that he needed to go to the hospital, but he said he was fine. We called the elders because we wanted to get some priesthood holders to come up there with us. While we waited for them, we sang some hymns and then put on some gloves and started helping clean up all the blood. Pretty gross. The elders came and gave them both priesthood blessings. From the moment they opened the container of oil, the spirit and power of the priesthood was so strong. They ended up teaching the guy the first lesson, and he said a prayer. The less active member insisted on us staying for dinner (yep, you can bet I was a little sketched out about eating food that was prepared in a house with blood and bugs and dirt everywhere, but I did it, even when I had to pick little bugs out of the rice). The atmosphere there when we left was SO much different from when we got there. It's amazing what the Spirit can do. And the guy with the bloody hand showed up at church yesterday, wearing clean clothes. So that was cool. And neither of us is sick from the food, which is also cool.
with her companion Sis Branch
On Thursday we had temple tour training and then temple square tours. My favorite part of temple tour training is always President Day's part. He is an amazing man- so loving and kind and full of the spirit. We are so lucky to have him and Sis Day leading us. We had two tours scheduled with other missionaries' investigators- one of which was to a really nice Muslim guy. It was really weird and kind of hard to do a tour in English! A young man who was recently baptized brought his friend in to do a tour, and his friend had lots of questions about Christ, the Atonement, repentance and forgiveness. We talked a lot about that and how because of Jesus Christ we can be clean from sin. We invited him to be baptized, and he accepted! Twice later on during the tour, he said, "I really want to be baptized." He is excited to meet with the missionaries in the area that he lives. Go member missionary work!

We are meeting with an awesome investigator named X DX. He has a baptismal date set for the 23rd of this month. When we met with him this past week, he bore a really powerful testimony about how every time he has a doubt or a question, God resolves it through the Book of Mormon or something we say. He is super prepared and we will be teaching him lesson 5 and going over the baptismal interview questions this week so he can have his baptismal interview the beginning of next week!

Last night, we had set up to meet with a new investigator. The plan was to meet up at a 7-11 and then go to her house. As we got on our bikes to ride to the appointment, I had a really bad feeling and the most overwhelming thought that we should not go with her to her house. She was already at the 7-11 when we arrived, so we gave her a Book of Mormon and told her that we something had come up and we couldn't meet with her. I don't know why I had that feeling, but I am so incredibly grateful for the Spirit to warn us of danger and to protect us. 

Honestly, there have been times this week when I have loved being a missionary and times when I wonder how on earth I am going to make it through the next year because I am just so exhausted all the time and a year seems like a really long time. I am trying really hard to love every day and enjoy the experience. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement. I love you and pray for you every day!

Sis Murri

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Moving day!

I know you are all in suspense to find out about the results of transfer meeting........I moved to the beautiful north coast city of DanShui! If that sounds familiar to you, it's because a few months ago, W Mama brought us up here on a p-day! I am so in love with DanShui- it is gorgeous and the perfect mix of city and country: more city than YuLi, less city than SongShan. It is basically my perfect place! DanShui has a TON of hills- it's sort of up in the mountains- which are super fun to bike down...but not quite as fun to bike back up. :D I am so excited to be serving here- as we were taking the MRT from transfer meeting, I just felt so much peace and love come into my heart for these people. My new companion is Sis Branch, who I know from the MTC because she is one transfer behind me (she's on her 3rd transfer, so I am her "breaker")! She is the sweetest, most loving person ever, and I am excited to serve with her. 

Our ward here is amazing, we have a super nice apartment (we live on the 3rd floor of a high rise complex, we both have our own bathrooms, dark wood everywhere, two extra bedrooms that we use as our clothes rooms, a balcony, a security guard downstairs, a pool and gym downstairs- (we can't use them, but still cool). Basically, I couldn't have asked for anything more. 

I'll start with the events of the week that happened while I was still in SongShan. We met with a part member family who is so great! The wife, who is active in the church, really wants to become a "Mormon family" (that is a big deal here since most people are first or second generation members and full member families are not the majority). They asked Sis Roy and I a lot of questions about how the gospel blessed our families and what it was like to be a Mormon Family. I was so grateful for the opportunity to testify to her of the strength that comes from living the gospel as a family and the blessing of being sealed together. The husband set a baptismal date- he recognizes that his family is blessed by his wife's church attendance! I hope to find some part member families here in DanShui to work with. 

As we met with members and Less active members last week, we discovered that there are a lot of people who don't know how to read the Book of Mormon as scripture. We are really trying to help people learn how to read the Book of Mormon in a way that will actually make a difference for them, rather than just randomly flipping open to a page and reading a few verses every day. It is hard to gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon or even to see how it applies to you when you approach it that way.

Since being here in DanShui, we have done some finding and met with a few investigators. I am excited to work with the people here. I think the biggest thing I have learned this week is that I don't know everything, but with God's help, I know enough. 

Love you! This gospel is the biggest blessing. I am so glad to be able to see the truthfulness of it work in people's lives.
Sis Murri