Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Missionaries are not exempt from real life"

Sis Jenkins and I worked SO HARD this week. We talked to EVERYONE and asked for referrals from EVERYONE and used every single minute of our time and studied Preach My Gospel like no one's business and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Seriously, I am exhausted. And by exhausted, I mean more than the usual missionary tired! But we had a great week and I learned a lot about God and how He operates in my life. 
 beautiful new chapel in Danshui

President Day told us all this week that he has a vision for the month of December to be a "white Christmas"- meaning he feels that every companionship can have 2 baptisms in the month of December (double the usual goal). He gave us some suggestions as to how to accomplish this, and I know that because he is called of God, if we are diligent in following his invitations and following the spirit, we can achieve this goal. DanShui will have a white christmas! We set a goal this week to have a new investigator every day, and so far we are rocking it! Last night we realized we hadn't gotten a new investigator that day, so we called every potential person who we'd had a lesson with on the street in the past week but who hadn't yet set up a time to meet with us. After 4 calls with no success, we finally talked to one guy who wanted to meet. YEAH! Miracles! 

letting every know about their free English class
 Sis Jenkins and I were invited to participate in the annual Missionary Christmas Choir! We 40 missionaries from within the 3 Taibei zones were asked to participate. We will rehearse every p-day and perform every Fri, Sat, and Sun in December for wards in the Taibei area. It takes us an hour and a half of travel each way to Taibei, so it will pretty much consume all of p-day after our email time, but I had heard from a lot of missionaries who participated last year that it was an incredible experience, so I was really excited to get the call to sing with them! And, they are going to try to find a harp for me to play. No one in Taiwan has harps, so we'll see how that goes. But that would be so fun- I love playing Christmas music. 

With the Christmas choir and the extra hour of studies we have because of training for Sis Jenkins, we have less time than ever, higher goals than ever and more faith and willingness to work than ever before. This is the perfect environment to see miracles. :D

  X got baptized! Yeah! He's a good kid. I really hope that his baptism will help motivate his mom to become more active and they can work together to learn the gospel. 

This week we fasted for our three investigators whose parents fandui (oppose)- but who really could get baptized any minute if their parents agreed. We said a lot of prayers and put a lot of faith into it, knowing that God could work miracles in the hearts of these parents. A couple hours after breaking our fast, we called up Candy to see if she could still meet with us. She said no, that her mom said she couldn't. We asked if she had had the chance to talk to her parents about baptism. She said yes, and that they were angry and said no. I was totally crushed- I was trying not to cry the whole bike ride home. For a little while I was just so confused. How after all of our faith and prayers and fasting was this sweet girl who WANTS to be baptized still not able to? Sis Jenkins and I started discussing the scripture that says that if you ask in faith for righteous desires, God will give them to you. Baptism certainly is a righteous desire- what were we lacking? Then sis Jenkins said, "missionaries aren't exempt from real life".  We aren't exempt from God's will just because we are missionaries. 

The next day in personal study, I read Pres Uchtdorf's talk Continue in Patience, and this part stuck out at me: "We wait for answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may appear so right and so good to us that we can't possibly imagine why Heavenly Father would delay the answer." As I read that, I realized that God wants these kids to be baptized just as much as we do- probably more, even! So if they have to wait, there must be a reason. I don't know why He allowed us to meet them at this time only to have their parents oppose. I don't know why their hearts weren't softened. There are a lot of things I don't know. But like Nephi, "I know that He loveth His children, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." I do know, however, that if we trust in God, he will make everything happen for the best, and continue to guide our steps. If we do what is right, he will make all things right. This week has been such an amazing opportunity for me to learn to REALLY trust God- just like we are asking our investigators to do. So I am actually thankful for this experience!

 We are going to the temple today! I am so excited. I have always loved the temple, and having a vision of the temple shapes and directs people and families on the path to exaltation. 

Love you!
Sis Murri 

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Being a monk is harder than it seems!"

I feel like the weeks just go by faster and faster! 

Blowing out her "candles"
My birthday was so fun- being together with a bunch of my missionary friends on the beach...doesn't get much better than that! We all ate mint m&ms (thanks mom!), built sandcastles, and took a ton of pictures. There are always a ton of couples taking wedding pics on the beach, so that provided for some great people watching opportunities. And my cute companion left little notes all around the house for me to find. So all in all, it was a great start to being 20. 

Funny stories from the week: 

-This week we contacted a guy on the street who told us that we were skinny- he said, "I expected Americans to be fatter. No! Not fatter....more wide." Hahaha! Then he asked if our church was the one that had polygamy because that sounded good to him. Well, we did a little doctrine correction, gave him a pamphlet, and went on our way. 

-While we were on exchanges this week, a group of old people doing their old people exercises (which mostly involve hitting themselves in various places and shaking different limbs) invited us to join them every morning at 5:10 for exercise and promised us it would make our bodies really healthy. Then we met another group of old ladies who started touching my skin and saying how white it is. I love Taiwan. 

-A guy on a motorcycle told me I looked like a movie star. I tried to share the gospel with him but then the light turned green and he pulled away. 

-The title of the email comes from a role play that sis Jenkins and I did yesterday. I was trying to help her get a perspective of what people here think about us (that we are a little weird) and how to connect with them. So I pretended to be a monk and contact her. It went really well until I realized that I don't even know what monks do or really what they believe in! So then we just had a good laugh. :D Sis Jenkins is great- she is really enthusiastic and loves to learn. 

The best parts of this week came from the lessons we had with our investigators:

We met with L twice this week and shared with him the gospel of Jesus Christ and the commandments. When we were talking about repentance, I used the analogy of if he lied to his grandma to illustrate the steps of repentance. He looked a little offended for a minute and then said, "but I don't lie to my grandma!". Hahaha! We assured him that it was just an example- that we weren't saying that to imply that he was dishonest. So cute. Last night we shared with him all of the commandments in one lesson- which is something we don't usually do; usually we split it up into two or three. But we knew that he could handle it. When we taught him about the word of wisdom, he said, "that's fine, I already don't do any of that stuff." What?!?! Everyone- and I mean EVERYONE- here drinks tea. Yep, he is awesome! The only obstacle we have run into is that his dad wants him to wait to get baptized. We asked him if he thought he was ready, and he said, "yes, but my dad doesn't want me to get baptized right now". So we are praying really hard and will be fasting for him and his dad this week. We are trying to find a way to get in contact with his dad (he lives with his grandma, but his dad is his legal guardian, so we need his permission). Luckily his dad is still fine with him learning about the church and coming to church, so I hope that if we can meet with him, we will be able to convince him to let his son get baptized. I think family opposition is the hardest part of teaching kids- other than that, they are so much easier to teach than adults because they are so willing to learn and change. 

We also taught W the Word of Wisdom this week. We explained the principles and then asked her what she thought of it or what she thought the hardest part of living it would be. She said, "I don't do any of those...I don't drink tea or coffee and I don't it shouldn't be a problem." What?!? That was the second time this week a teenage investigator has said that to us! These youth are so prepared to hear the gospel. In her closing prayer, she said, "Thank you for sending the sisters to my house. I am going to follow your commandments and not do any of these things."

This weekend we got to meet with L family. In the opening prayer, the dad said, "thank you for sending your servants here to teach us". I got chills when he said that- it was a neat thing to see that he already recognized us as representatives of Christ. We taught them the first lesson- the restoration of the gospel. They received it really well. We used lots of pictures, which the kids really liked. Mom- those things you sent will really come in handy with the 5 year old. At the end we asked them if they would be baptized on 11/22, and they all said yes! At the end, we asked if they would read 1 Ne 1 before our next visit, and the mom said, "I've already read past that." What?! We asked her where she was, and she said she had read through the part where Lehi's family builds the boat. Wow! We hadn't even asked her to do that- she did it all on her own! I asked her, "What do you think about it? Do you believe it's true?" She said yes, that she believes it is true. Wow. They didn't come to church yesterday because they overslept :( but we have a lot of hope for them still. 

 Yesterday after church there was a little 8 year old girl in our ward who was baptized. As I was sitting there during the service, I realized that it was exactly 12 years ago that I had been baptized- and exactly a year ago, I went to the temple for the first time. The Spirit bore a sweet witness to me of the necessity of these saving ordinances in Heavenly Father's plan. I want everyone to get baptized! I want to help these families become eternal!

I love you!
Sis Murri

Monday, October 13, 2014

"One year older and wiser too!"

What a week! 

Last Monday afternoon, I went to Taibei for the trainers' training meeting. On Monday evening, after having dinner with all of the new missionaries, we took them out for a night of contacting on the streets of Taibei. That was a blast- the whole thing was just deja vu of me 6 months ago! The next morning was transfer meeting. I remember as a new missionary the anticipation of finding out who my trainer would be, where my first area would be....let me tell you, that was nothing compared to how all of us trainers felt wondering who our “babies” would be! President LOVES building up the suspense- our transfer meetings are always super exciting and upbeat. My new companion's name is Sis Jenkins, and she is fantastic! I knew the moment we sat down together after being assigned to be companions that we would have a great time together because she has a great laugh! She is super upbeat and eager to learn and work hard- and just loves to have a good time. I had her make phone calls the first night and she did a great job! I have been having such a great time showing her the ropes of missionary work and introducing her to my favorite parts of Taiwan. As part of the transfer meeting, our ward got another set of elders, so now we have 3 companionships serving in the DanShui ward! The Lord's work is rolling forward!

Ready to go!
My companion's first bike riding experience was a fun one! We rode down a super steep hill and she got her first crack at dodging Taiwan's traffic. :D

One of the best parts about this week was GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love General Conference so much. I have been counting down the days. :D I am so grateful to have parents who made watching all 4 sessions of conference a priority as we were growing up. This conference was incredible- I think it just gets better and better every time. Our members watched it with the Chinese voice-over, and our ward mission leader brought his laptop so that us missionaries could watch it in English. I was about to tell you about my favorite parts, but honestly, that would take forever...especially because you all know how good I am at picking favorites. I just started typing it all out and then gave up because it would have taken forever and pretty much you might as well just watch the whole thing, which you've already done. Everything is my favorite. 

I think the biggest thing I got from conference- other than a merciful abundance of revelation about how to help our investigators- was a vision of how the things I am learning on my mission can and will shape my life as a future wife and mother. I feel like I just gained a perspective on how I want my family to be, and how I want to use the principles and lessons God is teaching me here. I also loved the emphasis on receiving our own personal confirmation of spiritual truths- this is something we are always encouraging our investigators to do. And, I also loved in the women's meeting video that the last sister was speaking in Chinese. :D

New missionaries getting their bikes
Speaking of investigators, here's an update on a couple of them!

-L: When we met with him this past week, we read 1 Ne 1 with him and reviewed the first lesson. I was so proud of him- he remembered almost everything about the Restoration. We asked him if he believed that God was his Heavenly Father, and he said yes, because he has been praying every day! The first time we met, we asked him that same question, and he said he didn't think he believed in God- so this is incredible progress. He came to both sessions of conference yesterday, and we are meeting with him tonight to share the plan of salvation. 

-L family: We got in contact with them again! What a miracle! They gave us their new address, and we are visiting them this coming Saturday and hoping to recommit them to baptism and start them on the path to becoming an eternal family. 

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! The weather today is absolutely gorgeous, and my district is all going to the beach together. This past year has been incredible- a great semester at BYU, a month at home with my family, and 9 months of being a missionary. Doesn't get much better than that.

Love you!
Sis Murri

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Your baby is coming!"

On Friday afternoon I got a call from one of the assistants, Elder Huang. He did the normal pleasantries and asked how we were doing and then said he had some good news (all in Chinese). Then, in English, he said "your baby is coming!", switched back to Chinese, and said that the new missionaries were flying in the next day! I have to go to a meeting in Taibei for all the trainers! Tomorrow is transfer meeting, and I will finally have my new missionary! 

 Last week for p-day, our district got together and went out to an all-you-can-eat pizza hut. It probably doesn't take too many guesses to figure out whose idea that was- the sisters' or the elders' (hint- it wasn't the sisters :D). I think the elders all ate 20+ slices of pizza each....I'm sure pizza hut was thrilled when they saw the 8 of us come in the door! :D I love being with my district! They are all such great missionaries. Next p-day for my birthday we are planning a picnic at the beach!

One fun experience of the week was meeting an old lady who was practically deaf. I had to literally yell the gospel in her ear...but on the upside, I'm sure all the neighbors could hear it! We should contact old deaf ladies more often. 

Another fun experience of the week was that I bought myself a $290 (NT) steak for dinner one day this week. (about $9.50 US) I was just craving some red meat all day so I splurged. But since I haven't had much meat for a while- much less steak- it didn't even taste as good as I was expecting. But it was fun anyway.

Kind of funny that the vast majority of our progressing investigators are under the age of 21! We were able to find 8 new investigators this week, so we are excited to work with them and see who will progress!! On Saturday, we had just finished a lesson and had about 10 minutes before dinner. It would have been easy to just head to dinner early, but instead we decided to use that time to knock...and we saw a miracle! We met a lady who let us come up to her house and share a message- it was really what she needed to hear. 

We have been working with an less active member, C, the past few weeks- I think I have mentioned her before. She was baptized 30 years ago but hasn't been to church in a long time. She is just the cutest lady, and whenever we visit her, she always gives us stuff.  She told us this week that she has read up through Enos in the Book of Mormon already!!!! When I heard that I was so proud of her! Since we started visiting her, she has been reading every day, and you can just see the changes that have been happening. And, the most exciting part....SHE CAME TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was so happy to be there that she wanted to take pictures with everyone. And we were happy to oblige. :D

One of the things I've learned this week was how important it is to have the Spirit. I mean, every missionary- and member of the church for that matter- knows that, but I have seen this week how the Spirit provides the motivation for this work. When I have the Spirit with me, I can't stop myself from sharing the gospel- it's all I want to do. When I have the Spirit, I have more Christ-like attributes. Both of these things are essential to the work. 

I am losing myself in the work...the other day I sat down at the piano, and realized I forgot how to read bass clef. That was a little weird! I had to think pretty hard to remember- my brain is just in missionary mode right now! I love being a missionary!

Sis Murri