Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Can I meet your alcohol?"

this tired. physically, emotionally, you name it! It was a great week, and we helped a lot of people...but boy am I feeling old! This week we were able to help some sisters in our zone who are really struggling. I think one thing I've really learned this week is that God is in the details. He sets things up. I'm meant to be in this particular place at this time. 

 This week I was able to fulfill a lifelong (well, at least mission-long) dream of confiscating someone's alcohol. H invited us over to dinner at his house and while we were eating, I asked him the title question. He went and got a bottle, I took it, said thank you, and put it in my bag. Wish I could have had a picture of his face~ he was pretty shocked! We poured it down the toilet as soon as we got home :D

We really felt the power of your prayers this week as we were able to find 4 great new investigators! On Monday night, all of our lessons had just cancelled, so we turned to our backup plans, which was to go visit a potential investigator's house. It just didn't feel right, though. Sis Smith said, "We are missing the point here- God wants us to do something very specific, and we just need to figure out what it is." We looked through the backup plans from last week that we hadn't gotten to, and immediately felt right about going to visit an less active member whose house we had tried to visit a few times before but they were never home. It immediately felt right. We rang the 1st floor doorbell, only to have a lady start yelling at us in Taiwanese. We were pretty sure she was just pretending she couldn't speak Chinese (happens more frequently than you might think...) so we tried to explain to her who we were and the name of the person we were looking for. She went off again in Taiwanese. Sis Smith finally yelled into the microphone "jiababwe!", which is a greeting that means "are you full?" The lady stopped talking and asked us in Chinese why on earth we were asking if she was full. Hahaha! We finally got her to open the door, and she told us the person we were looking for lived on the 5th floor, not the 1st, like the ward list said. We went up and she and her two adorable kids were home! They let us in, and we had a great lesson. We sang I am a Child of God and the spirit was so strong. The two kids are 9 and 11, and they became our new investigators. What's even neater is that the mom said she had been thinking about bringing her kids to church not too long ago. 

One way I know that God loves me is that he sends me chocolate when I really need it! Last Saturday was one of those dead tired, wearing clothes that haven't been washed that week because your dryer is broken, can't find any good food for lunch days. As we were biking to a house, I was praying and telling God that I was really trying hard and said it would be awesome if someone gave us chocolate....and what do you know? The less active member we were visiting gave us each three chocolate truffles. Prayers are answered, folks, even ones that are as inconsequential as chocolate. :D

In English class this past week for the spiritual share we read Alma 17 and acted it out. Definitely one of the funniest things I've every witnessed. Just picture a bunch of Asian adults crawling around on the floor pretending to be sheep, and I think you'll get the picture. :D I love teaching English- it's a blast. And my students ask funny questions like "what's a prom queen?" and "I heard a song the other day called White and Nerdy- what does nerdy mean?". Too funny!

Also...Sister Smith and I passed our "1 year on island" mark! Sometimes it seems like the shortest year, other times the longest, but it's been an incredible one, and I wouldn't change it or trade it for the world. 

Well, that's all. Lohas, everybody!
Sis Murri

"They say that missions change you...."

They say that missions change you. I'm here to tell you that's true, because I ate both bananas and tuna this past week....and liked them! My taste buds really have become Taiwanese- I can't even eat American sweets anymore. One of our members bought us ice cream cones from McDonalds last week, and I took one lick and just couldn't put any more of it into my mouth, it was so sickeningly sweet. 

Anyway....the work is going great here! We are so tired and time is flying by so fast with exchanges and meetings and basically just working our little bums off. We come home every night and just crash! 

 H and M are making incredible strides. M should be set to get baptized this weekend or next weekend! And H...I love that guy. He set a goal this week to quit drinking alcohol by May 11 (seems like a long time away, but he is pretty addicted.) He is SO set on May 11- he even told his super devoted Buddhist wife that he was going to be quitting alcohol, and invited her to church! He said a great closing prayer in one of our lessons this past week in which he pled with God to help him overcome the "bad habit" (there is just no good English translation for what he actually said....) of drinking alcohol. Sis Smith and I walked out of there fist pumping and said, "YES!!!! HE CALLED ALCOHOL A BAD HABIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" So much progress for him. He wants it now.

The Spirit of Elijah is so real. This past week, Sis Smith and I were working on our My Family books (pamplet published by the church to help people get started on family history- our area seventy asked us to complete it for mission tour, and we want to use it with those we teach). I really felt the spirit as I recalled memories of my family and grandparents. The Lord intends for families to be together forever, not just because he thought that families would be a good way to help us out here on earth, but because the family is an eternal unit- not just a good idea God came up with. 

One of my recent converts from Danshui went to the temple for the first time last week! And L went to do baptisms on Saturday! There is nothing sweeter to me than seeing those I taught go to the temple. That, and being passed the sacrament by the man whose baptism I watched just last month. Too many blessings. :)

Finding has been a little rough lately. Actually, the whole time I've been in XinZhu, finding has been tricky.  If you could specifically ask in your prayers for us to be sensitive to the Spirit to know how to find the prepared people- because they are here somewhere! I've noticed in my mission that God often tests our faith before giving us his greatest blessings. And even if there's not some huge blessing waiting in store, I can have confidence before God in knowing that I am doing all I can. And that's really all that matters!

This week I realized how much I love being a missionary. Although there are definitely days that I can't wait to just take a nap, I really am dreading the day the tag comes off forever (well, at least until I serve a senior mission!). It's God's work. I'm so grateful to get a front row seat. 

Love you!

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Living the Lohas Life"

I am so proud of this title, mostly because it is so alliterative. hahahaha :)
I know what you're thinking right now- "what on earth is 'lohas'?". Well, I'm wondering the same thing! We see it on signs everywhere. Someone google it for me and see if it really is an English word. We think it might just be a transliteration of 樂活  (le4huo2), whose meaning can best be described by "abundant life"....
Anyway, this week has been full of 'lohas':

 -Wednesday was one of those days you read about in the Ensign. It was 12 degrees C and pouring all day long, we had no rain ponchos, every one of our investigators stood us up, the pinyin on the church computer somehow got turned off, making facebook difficult to use, our exchange plans kept getting changed, which meant our time was used less than wisely, no one wanted to talk to us as we were knocking doors...forget plan B, we were on to plan Z! But you know what? I was happy! It was a great day! Heavenly Father is so incredibly merciful in that Sis Smith and I were just laughing all day long because it was so ridiculous! :) And also, we ate yummy Thai food for dinner. Which just about made up for everything else!

-Thursday we traveled to Miaoli to train at a Zone Conference. To get there you have to take a train, and then walk from the train station to the chapel (about 25 min walk). We got off the train and found a map (neither of us had been there before) and started walking. About 45 minutes later, we found ourselves back at the train station. We had walked in a giant circle! We went into a library to ask for directions, and there was a lady checking out books who said that she lived right near the chapel and could take us there. Because we're not allowed to ride on scooters, she rode at 5 mph behind us as we walked for 30 minutes, directing us the entire way, until we got to the chapel. 

-H CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!! And not only that, he was wearing a collared shirt, tie, and slacks. He is so great. His biggest struggle is with the word of wisdom. We knew that he drank alcohol, but we didn't realize until this week how serious his problem is. He called us drunk one night and we had to convince him to not drive his car home, which was really scary. We have a lot of love and faith in him- now we're just trying to help him feel the love that God has for him and know that his life is more than this. 

- M is also progressing SO well. She is set to have interviews this week. We had an incredible lesson with her this week, and at the end, had her pray about Joseph Smith. I asked her how she felt, and she said, "it feels real". The spirit was so strong. She is so ready for baptism. 

-This week we had 3 less active individuals show up to sacrament meeting! Yeah! and L passed the sacrament for his first time. He and his wife are just blossoming in the gospel, and I have so much love for them. Something I have loved helping people understand is that there is absolute truth and the purpose of religion isn't just to be an emotional support and Christianity isn't just a western thing, but rather a humankind thing.

Well, that's all folks. Lohas. :)

love you,
Sis Murri

Monday, March 9, 2015

Conversion and Spicy Meat

What a full, busy, happy, yummy, crazy week!

I just asked Sis Smith what I should write about in this email, and she said, "you can write about how hilarious I am!". She is hilarious! Hahaha! I absolutely love love love being companions with her; she is an incredible missionary. Just being around her makes me want to be a better person and missionary. 

This week We were super hungry for some good beef (they don't eat a ton of that here), but it's expensive, so we found a restaurant that looked not too pricy, and each bought a plate of meat. The restaurant was pretty full, so the only tables they had left were ones for 10 people. They asked us if we minded, and we said no- because we're missionaries and we love talking to people, and also, everyone in the place is staring at us anyway. Perks of being a white girl. I think I will miss having people tell me I'm beautiful all the time in America. It always is interesting to me that I can be dripping sweat in a country full of gorgeous Asian people and still have them tell me how beautiful I am. Anyway, a lady and two guys sat down at the table with us and we struck up a conversation while eating our meat (and sweating bullets because it ended up being mega spicy).  We kept talking to them and it turns out that one of them has a Book of Mormon and had been to our church 15 years ago or something- we got his number and are meeting with him this week.

This past Saturday we had 5 Recent Convert/Less active member lessons back to back- and the theme of the day seemed to be that when a person is truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing else matters. Each of the those that we visited who no longer come to church still has a testimony of the gospel. One is inactive because she works nights, and thus sleeps during the day, and they live with her mother in law, who is very opposed to the church and criticizes them heavily for attending. Another is inactive because she joined the church hoping it would help her daughter, and now her daughter doesn't want to go anymore due to some insensitive comments made by another member. The third is not active because she has some personal questions and concerns. 

These lessons were a stark contrast to the lesson we had with L and W, our recent converts. We watched the video with them about Chris Williams forgiving the driver of the car who killed his wife and children. As Sister Smith and I discussed afterward how to help these people who believe in the gospel return to full activity, we came to the conclusion that it's really not about the mother-in-law, the needing to work, being offended, the daughter, or the personal concerns. It's really all about conversion. If there were true conversion, none of those things would take precedence over the blessings of the kingdom of God. Then we started to realize how directly that relates to us. We decided that most members of the church- or even Christians in general- would say that their goal is to go to the celestial kingdom. But is it really? If that is the desire of our heart, we don't justify listening to a song with "just one bad part", for example. It's been a real wake-up call to me to reexamine the desires of my heart. And the best part about it is that if we discover that our desires are a little misplaced, God can change the desires of our heart- and it's all through Jesus Christ. This is the way I want to live. It's the kingdom of God or nothing. I feel like I have come to understand so much more about the reality and veracity of the Atonement these past few weeks. I have been reading my Patriarchal blessing every day and trying to understand who the woman described there is- because that woman is me, it is my spirit. And she is incredible. 

Love you!
Sis Murri

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Gift of Fatih and a Gift from the Buddhist God, Pusa

I have a new companion! Yep, Sis Pieper got transferred to Taibei- which I was pretty surprised about. I thought for sure we would be together for another transfer. But my new companion is Sis Smith, who is in my same generation! I didn't know her super well in the MTC because she was in the other zone, but now that makes 3 companions whom I've known from the MTC that I've served with here! This week it was confirmed to me again- just as it has many times on my mission- that God knows me SO well. There is no way he cannot be my Heavenly Father. Being companions with Sis Smith is just what I needed. She has an incredible fire, desire to be obedient, and so much faith. 

Our people made a lot of fantastic progress this week:

-M SET A BAPTISMAL DATE THIS WEEK! Apparently she has been progressing behind our backs- wow. We had an incredible lesson with her and she bore her testimony to us, told us that she knows this is all true and that she needs to get baptized. She even brought a friend to church this week. She still really wants her husband (who is not interested in the gospel) to join the church with her, but our peike shared a great personal experience with her and helped her see that she can't let her husband's lack of interest keep her from the blessings of the gospel. She is set for the 28th of March. We are thrilled. :D

-H is also doing really well. We taught him the Word of Wisdom (the Lord's law of health) last week- he took it really well and admitted that he really does rely on alcohol. He said how happy his friends and family would be if he could quit.. And we also cleared up the difference between God, Jesus, and the prophet. :D
-Last Sunday after church, we were leaving the building when we saw L standing in the hallway. We asked him what he was doing, and he said that he and his wife were getting temple reccommend interviews so they could go do baptisms on Friday!!! (baptisms for the dead is a practice described in the Bible that was restored to the earth when the fulness of the Gospel was restored. 1 Cor 15:29) We were so excited! We got to meet with them on Saturday and hear about their experience. They didn't participate in ordinances- they just wanted to go in first and feel the spirit of it and watch- but they talked all about the peaceful Spirit that was there. We had a great lesson about the temple (I showed them my temple book, Mom, which they loved- thanks again for that!) and the best part was that they kept talking in terms of 'when'- "when we are sealed", "when we reach a year of membership and receive our endowment in the temple". Made me so so happy. That has been my mission-long dream, to baptize people whose sealing I can later attend. And I made myself a promise at the beginning of my mission that I would try to do everything I could to return to Taiwan to see my converts receive the ordinances of the temple. The miracle of the gospel is not just that families are able to be together forever, but that they can want to be. 

We also had some super interesting experiences this week:
-We were knocking doors and were let in by a nice buddhist couple with a really large and lovely altar. They explained that they worship Pusa (a buddhist God), and we had a little discussion about our beliefs and then about theirs. Then the wife went into the kitchen and came back with a large burgandy tin of cookies, and gave them to us, saying that they should be ours because we are white, and there was a white person on the front. We tried to refuse, but Taiwanese people are extremely generous, especially when it comes to food, and they just don't take no for an answer. We finally accepted and then she said that that morning when she was bai-bai-ing to Pusa, she had a feeling that she should give the cookies to someone, but didn't know who...until we showed up at their door. She said we should just consider them a gift from Pusa. We gave them a Book of Mormon in return. 

-We had a lesson with a guy this week (who turned out to not live in our area, darn) who, after being taught about God being our heavenly father, asked if Heavenly Father had a companion. He reasoned that if we are all spiritual sons and daughters of God, then there can't just be a Heavenly Father. First time I've ever met someone outside the church who's figured that out.

I read 1 Chronicles 29:5 this morning- "And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?". There is no way that I can, in good conscience, call this mission a sacrifice. After all that the Lord has done for me, this is just a tiny drop in the bucket. 

Sis Murri