Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year!

Some sheep, a harp, and 1000 NT in a red envelope…..sounds like the title of a chapter in a mystery novel, doesn't it? :)

Happy Year of the Sheep! This week we ate a lot of food. 10 meal appointments in 5 days...I think I won't need to eat for another 5 years! (everything closes during the six day holiday and so the missionaries eat with the members of the church) Hahaha! The best way I can think to describe Chinese New Year is that it's like Thanksgiving, but with 2 meals, and rather than pilgrims, football, and turkey, we have Buddhist gods, bai-bai, fireworks, and Taiwanese food. And repeat that every day for 6 days in a row. So maybe not much like Thanksgiving at all..... :D

I have a lot of pictures and descriptions of all the food we ate, since that took up most of the week, but I'll tell you about some of the fun things that happened here.

First, after a year of searching..... I FOUND A HARP IN TAIWAN. We were riding our bikes when I turned my head to see a little folk harp sitting in the window of a music school. I immediately stopped and called out to Sis Pieper to turn around. We went in and asked the front desk lady, and I guess they teach harp there. I didn't get to play on it, but I did get a pic, and we were able to strike up a gospel conversation with the lady at the front desk. 

Second, H. That guy. He is one of my favorite investigators ever. It was really neat this week to see how he is being converted to the gospel. At our last lesson he thanked us for talking to him and sharing the gospel with him. Then he said that since we have started sharing with him, everything in his life has gone more peacefully. He said that when he can't sleep or feels restless, he'll say a prayer and then that feeling of peace comes right back. He loves when we come to visit him. 

Third, hong bao (red envelopes). The tradition at Chinese New Year is to give family and close friends a red envelope with money inside. When we were out tracting, we were talking to an older couple and gave them a hong bao with some tracts inside, after assuring them that there was no money inside. (it's rude to open a gift in front of the giver and we wanted him to know there was no money inside so he wouldn't feel badly)  He told us to wait a minute and the wife came back with a bag of peanuts for each of us and two hong bao, which we could tell had money inside. We tried our hardest for a solid 5 minutes to not accept the money, but there was no escaping. So we took it, and opened it later to find a 1000 NT bill in each one. We donated the money to the general church missionary fund. :D But it was really fun to be part of a cultural tradition, even though we couldn't accept the money.

On to the food...We made dumplings with the family of the Relief Society president! They tried to make everything all festive for us by giving us hong bao and teaching us the background of why we eat dumplings at Chinese new year (it is remarkably similar to the story in the bible of the Israelites in Egypt and the destroying angel...passover!)

We went with a church member and her kids to that same temple that Sis Pieper and I visited a few weeks ago for p-day. It was PACKED...sort of reminded me of what I think the atmosphere would have been like when Christ cleansed the temple. People everywhere, vendors selling food and incense and other bai-bai materials. I'm not sure how to translate the name of this food to English, but it's glutinous rice ball with pig intestine inside. It was actually pretty good, as long as you thought about it being pork meat and not intestine. We also ate hot pot with one of our English class students and her family, KFC and pizza with our ward mission leader and his wife (and his adorably forgetful grandmother), and traditional taiwanese foods like sausage, rice noodles, soup, tofu, rice, and little sesame treats with a family from the ward.  Then there were the turnip cakes, meat and seafood filled cabbage.  Did any of that food look good to you?  You will love Taiwanese food someday! I will make it for you in the summer!

Love you!
me :D

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts with....

Hahaha- thought I was going to say 'C', did you? There are actually no 'C's in Chinese! :D But the characters for cookie in chinese is 餅乾  [bing3 gan1]. 

This week was filled with cookies! And it was fantastic! 

-Cookie experience #1: I decided to try out the cookie mix Aunt Linda gave me and make it in the rice cooker. It worked out pretty well! And it was perfect because last week when we called one of the sister companionships in the zone and asked what we could do for them, they said (jokingly), "make us chocolate chip cookies!" And then we did! Fun.

-Cookie experience #2: In an effort to try to strengthen our investigator, M, and help her daughter have interest in the church, we got together with them and a member sister and her daughter to bake cookies. It was really fun and just reminded me of making cookies and other goodies at home with my siblings

-Cookie experience #3: On Saturday, the youth in our ward invited us to come teach them how to make cookies for mutual. Most of them had never made cookies before (people here don't bake) and they had a blast. A couple of them invited friends, and we were able to connect with some potential investigators, as well as teach the youth what being a missionary is like. 

-Cookie experience #4: While on exchanges, we found a "car tire" cake stand with oreo inside! Wow! Usually they have sesame or red bean or peanut or chocolate or cream or yam-which are all delicious. But oreo is something else! So tasty! 
Lots of other great things happened this week! 

First, L was baptized! It is seriously such an honor to be his 福音姊妹 (fu2yin1 jie3mei4= gospel sister= the missionary who teaches him) because he is such a spiritual giant. I can't wait for a year from now when he and his wife, who is also an recent convert, can go to the temple together. And hopefully their 2 daughters will join them along the way. 

H!!! I love this guy. We set a baptismal date with him last week and he is so excited for it.  He's our adorable 62-year old grandpa figure. And he loves to crack jokes with us. Last week we set up to meet with an recent convert at the chapel, and H just showed up and said, "Hi, I just wanted to come see where I'm going to get baptized on Mar 21." He reminds us every time we see him about "our March 21 appointment". He's great. 

 All the rest of our investigators are out of town for 過年 (chinese new year), which starts this Wednesday! YEAH! We are going have to eat so. much. food...... Pray for my poor little stomach. Hahaha! :D

Love you!
S. Murri!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Miracle meetings

This week despite only having 2.5 full proselyting days due to several meetings and traveling down to Taibei, we were able to see our investigator pool expand quite a bit through some great miracles and people placed in our path. 

Last Sunday as we were standing at the door waiting to contact someone who was referred to us by a member of the ward, we noticed a lady walking by on the street and said hi to her. She asked us (in English) if we needed any help, and we said we were just looking for a friend. She was really friendly and cute, and we struck up a conversation with her about why her English was so good. We ended up inviting her to English class, and getting her phone number before she walked away. On Wednesday she showed up at English class, and we were so excited when she marked 'yes' to the part on the English form about having interest in coming to church and 'yes' to the part about being willing to meet with missionaries! We stopped her on her way out after class and she said she would be coming to church on Sun! On Saturday, we called her and set her up to do a tour beforehand. During the tour we asked about her religious background, and she said, "I am a naughty Christian", which, she explained, means that she hasn't been very active in coming to church since becoming christian at age 16 (she's now 37). She LOVED church and all the members were super sweet to her. When we gave her a Book of Mormon, she said, "oh, do I just bring this with me every week to church?" Yes! Her name is W and we already love her so much!

The next miracle new investigator is J. I had a feeling several times last week that we needed to go to a particular street to try to find people, so we planned an evening to go there. We were knocking doors one evening, and J had just gotten home from work and got out of his car. We said hello and invited him to english class, which then led to a discussion about what we were doing here. Turns out that his dad is christian, and he is sort of christian but not really active. He has a great relationship with his family, and is just a really good guy. Near the end of our discussion, we asked if we could pray with him, and he accepted. Then we asked if we could set up a time to share more with him and he said, "of course! you seem like such great people and we've had a great discussion." A few days later we went back and shared a brief message with him and got to know him. He said to us, "I wish my daughters could meet you!" Yep, so do we! :D At the end we had a kneeling prayer, and he said a very sincere prayer. 
We're really excited for him! 

As far as our two favorite security guard investigators, H and Z, they are both coming along slowly but surely. I love H- we decided that if he were american, he would be the nice grandpa-esque guy in New York who sells hotdogs at a hotdog stand. Super cute. 

L is getting baptized this Sunday! He is so great- probably has more gospel knowledge than I do at this point! He is 4 chapters away from finishing the Book of Mormon and loves reading conference issues of the Liahona (the church's international magazine) and thought it was really funny when we committed him to obey and honor the law. 
We are a little worried about M- she didn't come to church the past two weeks. We had a good lesson with her this week in which we reviewed the Baptismal Interview Questions and were able to figure out exactly where she is and what she needs help with and the areas where her testimony is weak. Pray for her that she doesn't give up on herself. 

 God lives. He is my Father. Christ lives. He is my Savior. Joseph Smith's account is exactly true. I don't know everything, but I know enough.

-Alma 5:48 "I say unto you, that I know of myself that whatsoever I shall say unto you, concerning that which is to come, is true; and I say unto you that I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name."

It's true. 

Love you all!
S. Murri

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How many different things can you make in a rice cooker?

Here are some of the highlights since I last emailed you:

We met two awesome new investigators who are both security guards, and both quite open to what we have to say (and one of the best parts is that we know exactly where they are every day during the day and can drop by anytime to visit them at work!)

I made cookies in the rice cooker with the cookie mix from Aunt Linda. Forgot to take pics of that one, but they turned out pretty good! I think I'm going to start a "how many different things can you successfully cook in the rice cooker" project...this morning I did scrambled eggs, which worked out pretty well!

We had a Mission Leadership Council meeting (monthly meeting of all the zone leaders, sister training leaders, mission president, and assistants, to receive training and discuss the mission vision for the coming month). Not only did we get some excellent training, but we got to watch the movie Meet the Mormons! Made me want to go to Nepal....But the neatest part of the meeting was near the end when we all knelt together as a group to petition the Lord for inspiration to create the mission vision. I was asked to act as voice. It was a powerful moment to all be kneeling together and seeking God's guidance for our mission. 

What do you do when your someone tells you she's in love with a man from Ireland who she's only communicated with online through google translate, and that he wants to fly to Taiwan to meet her? Imagine that Studio C skit of the guy emailing that girl in the alps or wherever it is she is, but change the language to Chinese, and you've got pretty much exactly what happened in the lesson with one of our less active members. (See Studio C "Google Translator") She tried to convince us to come to her house and be her go-between when he gets here and find out if he really likes her and if he will take her to be married in the temple. (he's not even a member of our church) Sis Pieper said, "well....yeah, we could come teach him about the gospel!" Since we're not allowed to counsel people on their personal problems (thank goodness!), we just encouraged her to pray about it, and if she still felt like this was God's answer to her prayer, to at least take someone with her when she went to pick him up for safety reasons. Let me tell you, missionary work is never boring!

We have a lot going on this week with two Zone Meetings to do trainings at, and a two-day mission-wide leadership seminar in Taibei!! This week is going to fly by!

love you!
sis murri