Monday, September 29, 2014

A new mask, but not for Halloween

I passed my 6 month on island anniversary this week.....what?!?!?! How have I already been here for half a year?! Time is flying.

I'll start by talking about some of our investigators who I mentioned last week. 

-Y: had her baptismal interview this week, and she passed!!! The challenge is that she wouldn't fill out the baptismal record because she hasn't told her parents yet, and she is afraid that they will oppose. She is really nervous, but she said she plans on doing it sometime this week. We are praying for her.

-W: she is one of our 14 year olds! She came to the baptismal service of the elders' investigator on Saturday and recommitted to be baptized on Oct 25. She said that her parents know that she is learning about the church and they are okay with it so hopefully there won't be any problems there in the future. She also came to church this Sunday! Our Young Women did a great job of welcoming her. 

For English class this week the topic was 'clothes and fashion'. As part of the lesson, we did a recyclable talent show- we split them into two groups and gave them a few minutes to create an outfit out of materials from the recycling bin and then they had to use English to describe the outfit. They got really into it- it was so much fun! 

missionaries from Nicole's MTC group together at zone conference
 One great experience from this week was meeting with a less active church member we have been working with for the past couple of weeks, C. Last time we met, we encouraged her to read, pray, and attend church, so this time we followed up and asked if she had been reading the Book of Mormon every day. She said, "I promised you I would- of course I have! I am in 2 Nephi!" That made me so happy to hear that! She promised us that she will come to church this coming Sun- it will be her first time back in several years. 

On Saturday we had several really neat experiences! Every time we bike to the chapel, I have been having this feeling that we needed to turn down a lane and contact, so on Saturday we went and did it. It is pretty close to a college, so we figured that there would be lots of students at home and lots of people to talk to. We started knocking doors, and there was literally no one at home- door after door. Part of me wondered if we should just go somewhere else, but there was a little feeling that just compelled me to continue there. One door was finally opened by a man and his sister, and they invited us to come in. We sat down and started getting to know them. He seemed to be familiar with missionaries, so I asked if he had been to our church before. He said "of course". Huh? Then he listed off the five things that the word of wisdom prohibits. We finally asked him how he knew all of this and he said he was baptized 18 years ago. double "huh?!" We shared the first lesson with him- he had read from the Book of Mormon before, but didn't have one. He asked when church was, and said he would come the next day- and he did! We looked him up on our ward membership list, but he is not there, so maybe his records are still somewhere else- either that or he was baptized into a different church. But we really feel like God led us to meet them, which was a neat miracle! 

On Saturday we also got to see a recent convert we taught, J, baptize the elders' investigator! I am so proud of him! 

I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO excited for general conference!!!!!!!!!!! And so jealous of all you lucky people who get to watch it a week before we do! But I think it will be the best early birthday present ever. :D I have been rereading the talks from last conference to prepare....did I mention I am excited for conference?!

The weather here has been cooling off a little! It makes me feel like I have sunshine in my soul to step out the door in the morning and have it be not blazing hot outside. :D I love fall!

UPDATE ON MY “CHILD”- the new missionary I will be training: The new missionaries' visas have cleared the San Francisco office and are now waiting for clearance in Taiwan! Usually that takes about a week. They could be here as early as this Saturday! 

Love you! Thanks for the prayers...I can feel them!

Sis Murri

I know this looks like I am really angry, but mostly it's just because if I smiled, the mask would start to fall off! A member of the church gave these to us- they are skin whitening facial masks. Taiwanese people love giving other people ointments and products. If, for example, your acne is acting up, you will get a whole ton of people come up to you and tell you that they saw that you had a lot of pimples, so they bought you some medication. It is hilarious, because in the US it would be a little rude, but here it's a show of love!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

奇蹟. More Miracles

But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is the same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. 
And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles
Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
                  -Mormon 9:11, 15-16

What are miracles? Miracles are:

- When you invite your cute 14 year old investigator to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and she asks to see the pamphlet so that she can do it right then and there. 
- when you watch the same Mormon message in Chinese that you watched the night you opened your mission call 1 year ago but now you can understand every word- and read and understand more than half of the Chinese subtitles.
-Inviting a beautiful family of 4, including the mom and dad and 8 year old daughter, to be baptized on Nov 1, and they all say the most enthusiastic, "yuan4yi4!" (willing!) you've ever heard.
-the tender mercies that allow you to say without a doubt that God lives, he loves us, and is aware of our needs.
-Miracles are when the investigator you taught the Plan of Salvation to, and whose father passed away 2 years ago, attends church the following day, where the subject of the sacrament meeting primary program is the plan of salvation and that families can be together forever.
-When you have to send Sis Branch's bike before your new companion has gotten her bike from her old area, and decide you have no choice but to just walk everywhere that day- but at the exact moment you drop Sis Branch's bike off with the security guard, T-Join pulls up with your companion's bike, allowing you to not have to walk all day.
-When the typhoon holds off until you've finished proselyting for the night to pour buckets of rain.
-When a less active member of the church says, "How did you know to talk about prayer? I haven't really been praying very much lately- I think God sent you because he knew."
-A letter from home and a package from a friend just at the moment when you need it most. 

I do not believe in coincidences- I believe in miracles.

I want to tell you about just a few of the investigators we are teaching right now! 
1. A college student from Gaoxiong. She has a baptismal date for 10/11 but the only thing that is stopping her is that she is afraid her parents with oppose. She is 21, though, so she doesn't need their permission. But she is still scared.

2. The nephew of the member in our ward. Never thought I'd be teaching an investigator named after a Book of Mormon prophet....his aunt gave him that name when he was little. :D He accepted a baptismal date of 10/25.

3. The family who we invited to baptism on 11/1. Sis Branch and I met them last week knocking doors, and I am so so excited for them. They are in the process of moving right now, so they are busy, but I think they will make it. 

4. Our cute 14 year old investigator. She has a baptismal date of 10/18.

5. J, also 14. His mom is not at all active in the church, but supports him being baptized. He has a date for next saturday, but since he hasn't had his interview yet, we will probably push it back a week or two.

 God is so aware of Danshui....I love it here! It is the best place in the mission to serve, as far as I am concerned. :D We are seeing so many amazing things happen. I think I could stay here for the rest of my mission and I would be happy! I am so blessed.

This week I got a new companion- Sis Eley. She has been on island for 1 year, and she is really quiet. This past week after transfers was a hard adjustment for me, but this week has been one of tremendous growth. I have come to experience for myself the power of Jesus Christ's atonement, and the ability He has to fill us with charity. 

I love you all! Miracles do happen- I am a witness of it. :D

Sis Murri

Monday, September 15, 2014

Too many miracles to write!

Hey family!

My new missionary still has not yet arrived. They have all been given temporary assignments in the United States, but it is hoped that they will be here in 2-3 weeks. We are having a transfer meeting tomorrow, and Sis Branch will be moving (so sad!), so I will have a new companion for at least a few weeks. 

Here's a quick overview of the week:

Tues: district meeting. Visiting the guy who gave us the little temples. Finding H, someone interested in learning about the Gospel, and setting a baptismal date with him!

Wed: lunch with W (the one we made cupcakes with). Finding a new investigator L and setting a date with him! English class- Minute-to-Win-It party.

So good to eat homemade salsa again!
 Thurs: finding another new investigator W. Ate hot pot (so yummy!). 

Fri: meeting a guy in the mountains who gave us each a block of his homemade laundry soap. Meeting with a sweet less active member of the church, A C

Sat: an amazing 5 hours of finding, including 3 new people interested in investigating the church, who are a family! meeting with our recent convert J.

Sun: seeing the BoM's power as we discussed 1 Ne 1 with an investigator. Church. Ward leadership meeting. Meeting with H and reading the BoM with him. New member fireside at Jin Hua and seeing H, a person I taught in SongShan, as well as several missionary friends.

We have a TON of people interested in the church, but we are struggling to get some of them to commit to baptism, so that is our focus right now. We have been knocking a lot of doors on a street called XinSheng Jie (translation: New Life Street). In the past 2 weeks, we have gotten 10 new investigators from knocking there! I think it is because we are really helping people have a new life through the Gospel. :D

8 yr old hog owned by one of the church members
This transfer has given me such a vision of the importance of the temple and family, and how they are intertwined. If those two things are your vision and priority, it makes such a difference. I am so grateful to have a family in which those two things were emphasized. I finished the New Testament a few weeks ago and have started on the Old Testament. 

As I think back on this week, I think what made it so wonderful was not just what happened- although we did see so many amazing miracles, meet lots of great people, exceeded the number goals we set for ourselves - but rather the feeling that is in me. I don't know, it is hard to describe. But I can feel myself growing and changing and just embracing losing myself in the Lord's work. It is a good life. There is nothing more satisfying than being engaged in the work of salvation. I love being a missionary. :D

I love you! 
Sis Murri

Monday, September 8, 2014

"It's hard being Taiwanese!"

ZhongQiu Jie Kuile! 

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival here in Taiwan! It is celebrated sort of like the 4th of July in America- everyone does KaoRou (grill meat) and there are fireworks.

The subject line is a quote from one of our members who helped us teach this week. It made us laugh because it is true! The people here are always working, studying, going to school. They are very busy.

Let's see...what happened this week? People answering their doors wearing nothing but underwear (just a little distracting...), and meeting a very educated Scottish guy in the mountains and having a deep conversation about the meaning of life with him. This is my life!

 First off, I am still with Sis Branch! We were supposed to have transfers this week, but none of the 32 incoming missionaries have their visas- they are all still in Provo. The Taiwanese government has changed its visa rules, and none of these 32 or the 25 for next transfer have visas yet.  No one knows when they will be getting visas- it could be a couple weeks or a couple months or more. Some who had been planning to move this transfer will not move. We don’t know if they will trickle in as visas get approved during the days of the coming transfer, or if they will come in one big group, or if they will be pushed off until next transfer. President Day encouraged us yesterday to include these missionaries in our fast. So, for now I will be staying in DanShui with Sis Branch- we will be having a transfer meeting next week and see what happens! 

Last week for p-day, we went to a member's house and made cupcakes! That was really fun- I miss having an oven sometimes! 

 We have gotten our investigator pool up and flowing again- when I first got here, none of the investigators were progressing, but now we have got a good group going. We are just trying to encourage them to set baptismal dates. Our L Family is doing okay. The dad and son have been busy so we have just met with the mom. She said they could come to church yesterday, but they didn't show up. We are not giving up on them though. 

Sis Murri

PS: Not sure if p-day will be next monday because of the crazy transfer schedule. It could be Wed. We'll see.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I'm going to be a mamma!

The assistants called on Saturday night to let me know that I will be training next transfer! I am sad that I will only have had 1 transfer with Sis Branch, but excited that I will be staying in DanShui for at least 2 more transfers, and of course excited (and a little scared!) for the opportunity to train a new missionary.

flooding the earth with copies of the Book of Mormon

P day night we went out knocking doors. The 1-4 floors of a particular building had no one who was interested in listening to us. They were all super Buddhist. Finally we got to the last floor, which we originally thought was just an attic, but upon further inspection, we discovered that there were two houses. At one of them, a dad opened the door. We started talking with him, and then his wife came and started listening. She said, "I think I actually have interest in this." She told us that she liked the idea of going to church every week and having a family to support each other. Wow! We set up with them for the next day, and taught them about the plan of salvation. They have an 8 year old son, and we are praying SO SO SO hard that they can continue to learn about the gospel together, be baptized together, and then be sealed in the temple as a family. I love families. It was such a miracle that we found them, because they were literally about to walk out to go eat dinner- 2 minutes later and we wouldn't have met them. Please pray for them.
Buddhist altar in someone's home
 As we were out finding on Wednesday, a white guy pulled up on his scooter and said, "Are you Mormon missionaries?" He said that he is also a missionary, and whenever he sees Mormon missionaries, he always stops to encourage them and tell them to keep up the hard work! He said, "There are a lot of Christians in the world, but not many who are willing to work so hard to share the gospel." That was just the encouragement we needed right then to keep working hard.

On Thursday, our mission had a memorial service for Elders Xiong and Thredgold. It was really good, and we all left just inspired and motivated to be better and do more. This week, we had a district fast. We saw so many miracles come from it- my testimony of fasting has been strengthened so much. 

temple replicas

On Saturday, we went to visit a member, C JM, who lives up in the mountains. As we were leaving, she asked what we were doing next, and we told her that we were going to knock doors. She asked if she could come with us....of course!!!!! This is pretty much what every missionary longs to hear! She suggested that we knock some of the doors near her house.  She took the lead, went up to the first door, and told them we were missionaries and we were there to visit them and to please let us in!  They said no, but that did not deter her- we went up to the next house and she said the same thing to the next guy and he let us in.  We followed him into his living room and saw, across from the big Buddhist altar, replicas of the SLC, Manti, St George, and other temples...our temples!  What?! We asked him and he told us he makes them. What?!  Long story short, he ended up giving us each a mini Salt Lake temple and told us we could come back some time and teach him more.

Our p-day might not be next monday- there is some craziness going on with transfers and new missionaries and visas- so I'm not sure when next week I'll be able to email you. 
Nicole wrote their Chinese names in the sand

Love you! Thanks for the prayers and support!
Sis Murri