Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"There is sunshine in my soul...and a wiener dog on my shoulder"

There's just never a dull moment in Taiwan.  People here are a little obsessed with their pets....they carry them around everywhere and push them in strollers and put diapers and tutus on them. But this past week, well...

We were riding home from an appointment and pulled up to a stoplight, only to see a guy with a cat clinging to his shoulder. I looked over at sis smith, and she pulled up to contact the guy, starting with, "woah....your cat." Poor thing, the cat looked terrified. And the guy was just riding all around the city with it. We seriously laughed the entire way home. And the only thing that makes this whole experience funnier is that earlier this week when we were biking over to the church, we saw a guy standing on the side of the road with a wiener dog standing on his shoulder. It was like a pirate with a parrot, but instead just a Taiwanese guy with a little wiener dog, just chilling on the side of the road like it was no big deal.

This week was so good! I feel like I grew so much spiritually and had some really neat experiences. 

One thing I've been doing this week is using a prayer journal. I bought a little notebook, and I use it to record the things I ask Heavenly Father for in prayer. As I've written down the things I ask for, it's been so much easier for me to see all the little ways Heavenly Father answers my prayers- and it makes my prayers so much more meaningful because I'm really thinking about what things I need and what things my investigators need. One really neat experience I had this week with this was on our mission tour on Friday. Elder Gong of the Seventy came and we had a day-long training meeting with him and President and Sis Day. I had two specific things that I had really been thinking and praying about and wanting God's direction and guidance on. President Day stood up to do his training, and talked about the EXACT thing that I had been pondering about. His first sentence answered my question to a T. 

This week we also had interviews with President Day. I love President Day so much; he is probably my biggest hero. I really feel like one of the reasons I had to come to this mission at this time was to learn from his Christlike leadership and example. Anyway, as I was sitting there with him, discussing my goals for the next two months, I just had a feeling that this is what judgement would be like. Not scary, or filled with fear or guilt. Just like having an interview with President Day and feeling the love of God that we can recognize because we have come to know Him. 

We had a couple of great exchanges this week with brand new missionaries. I love working with them because they are so willing to learn and just full of energy.

Quick update on investigators:
-A is still as golden as ever. We taught her the plan of salvation last week, and at the end, asked her if she believed it was true. She said yes, and when I asked her why, she said, "because I can feel the holy spirit". Yep. She loves reading the Book of Mormon and telling us her favorite parts. Her biggest obstacle is still church. We tried inviting the ama that she takes care of to church, thinking that if we could get the ama to come, then of course A would have to come with her. But she was not interested at all. It's a really tricky situation, because if we push too hard, the ama's son (A's boss) could forbid us from coming over, or A could lose her job. So we have to be really careful. She wants to come to church SO BADLY. I am not stressed about it though. Parting the red sea seemed like an impossible thing too, and you see how that turned out. :D 

 Well, we still have no washer or dryer, and our patio flooded, so they have to bring in a plumber to drill a hole through the brick wall to get to the pipe or something. Sis Smith and I are always laughing because at the beginning of our time together, we struggled with unity in lessons, but now after all the crazy situations we've been in, we have the best unity of anyone ever. hahhaha!

Love you!
sis Murri

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Hitting people over the head with the chair of righteousness"

Wow, another crazy week! I feel like I've hardly had a moment to breathe!

I asked Sis Smith yesterday how on earth to summarize our week...she said, "hitting people over the head with the chair of righteousness". I feel like that's pretty accurate, actually. 
with other missionaries at the church

 Basically, after a really inspiring temple square tour training last week, Sis Smith and I decided we were done being things to be acted upon and that we were just going to be so straight up with people. And it is so refreshing! I feel like before my mission, and even on it, I've been the type of person who just tries to keep everything smooth and not rock the boat, even if that means not being as forward as I should be with people because it just feels awkward for me. Missions change you, and that's all I have to say about that! We said what needed to be said to less active members, investigators, sisters in our zone- and it was so neat to see the Lord fulfilling our calling and speaking through us. Everyone progressed this week. The spirit was there, and we had love. We were able to help a less active sister see how her actions are influencing her life now and her future, and able to help some sisters in our zone who were struggling with obedience see how being exactly obedient literally brings miracles. Literally the day after we had a pretty straightforward conversation with them about following certain rules, they decided to change- and had 4 other lessons during finding, something that was HUGE for them. I learned this week that we don't need to be afraid of saying the "hard things" when we are led by the spirit and have charity for people. God backs us up.

This week Sis Smith and I individually and as a companionship asked the question, "Lord, is it I?". The answer to that question is simply always yes. We we working hard before, but we have completely redoubled our efforts and our desire to reach the goals we set has increased 10 fold. We worked so hard last week and there are still so many places for improvement, but it felt really good to really get fired up again.

At the end of a long crazy day
I'm not sure if I've mentioned her before....we are teaching a beautiful Filipino woman named A. I don't think I've ever met someone so ready to embrace the Gospel before. We were knocking doors one day, and we were about to turn around but just felt like we should knock on one last door on the corner. And that's when we met her. :D She said she had been praying to God to be able to keep hearing His gospel even though she was far away from home and her church. She is here taking care of an ama (grandma). She is Catholic. We left her a pamphlet about the first lesson...and she actually read it! Such a difference from all the investigators we just dropped who wouldn't do anything without being dragged along. We taught her the first lesson and she said that she had always been confused as to why in the catholic church, they don't baptize by immersion like Jesus was baptized, and why they believe in the trinity when it just doesn't make sense according to the Bible. Yep, incredible. We didn't have a Tagalog book of Mormon for her in that lesson, so we just left her with an English one and asked her to try to read the introduction. The next lesson, we had a Tagalog one for her. She was so happy. She had read not only the introduction, but all of Joseph Smith's testimony as well. And loved it. Her challenge will be coming to church- with her work it will be hard, so pray for her. I've realized through this experience how willing God is to answer my prayers...I just have to pray for the things I want! How often do I want something, but not actually vocalize that in prayer? And why not? Bruce D Porter said, "Prayer was never meant to be ordinary. It can be among the most exalted of privleges we enjoy in this mortal sphere." I want my prayers to be more like that. I need them to be more like that. 

This week we were riding home in the pouring rain because we forgot our ponchos. A fruit stand lady waved us down and told us she was going to run to her scooter to get us ponchos because she was afraid of us catching cold. So sweet. The taiwanese really have compassion and hospitality down to a 't'. I want to follow their example. 

Love you!

Chaos, Craziness, and Comfort

Just when you think things can’t get any crazier…they do! 

We had a transfer this past week....and I'm still in XinZhu with Sister Smith! I was SO surprised~definitely thought I was moving. But I don't think I'll stay here until the end of my mission so who knows, maybe I'll move on my last transfer.  I love working with Sis Smith.

On friday morning we got a call that there would be sisters opening the Xinzhu 3rd ward...and moving in with us in a few hours! We already have another set of sisters living with us since their house got broken into a few weeks ago. We were also informed that the new set of sisters would be sharing a cell phone with us since the mission office somehow ran out. Needless to say, the next few hours were a rush of getting keys copied, rearranging our house, pulling an ancient desk out of the depths of our patio and getting it cleaned off, taking apart our beds and moving the box springs into the living room for the other sisters to sleep on, getting them roughly acquainted with the area and meeting with the elders to get boundaries figured out. Whew! We didn't end up eating dinner until 8 pm- luckily there was a little place still open. That was the hand of God, let me tell you! :D 

One of the other crazy things that happened this week was that we went through our investigators and dropped the vast majority of them. We had a lot of people who just weren't keeping commitments, and it was wearing us out to have to keep dragging them along. So, we're starting fresh.

General conference was so good. so so so good!  I really focused on receiving personal revelation, and writing the things I was being taught by the spirit, rather than just what people said, and I got so much out of it.  It's so interesting to me how much I feel like the past year of separation has strengthened my relationship with my family. Being away from them has caused me to recognize so much all that they have given me and how lucky I am. I've been thinking a lot about the temple lately, especially with Jared preparing to go soon, and us having another two years of separation. Because of the temple, no separation need ever be permanent. Without the temple, permanent separation is always imminent. I'm so grateful that we are led by a prophet, too. That is just so comforting to my soul! I don't think I ever realized until recently how much peace it brings to not have to worry about any decisions that are made by church leaders. They're prophets, seers, and revelators, so the choices they make or policies they enact or doctrines they teach are from God through inspiration, and that's just that. 

love you!
Sis Murri

our faces say it all....

Monday, April 6, 2015

Swept Graves and Empty Tombs

JARED IS GOING TO BE A MISSIONARY IN SWEDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I opened up my email and saw stuff about missionary calls in the subject lines of emails, my heart got the same feeling as it had when I got my own call- excited and nervous and fluttery and wow, so many feelings.

Good thing I love him, because that whole leaving 3 days before I get back thing really stinks. Just want to cry a little over here in this internet cafe....

Anyway, as far as my week...hahaha I can't even remember anything I was going to say to you because my mind is all occupied with Sweden and Jared being a missionary.

The subject of my email this week comes, of course, from Easter. Here in Taiwan, there is a holiday called Grave Sweeping Day. People return to the place of their ancestry and clean off the graves of their ancestors and do ancestor worship rites. I don't know if it usually works out like this, but this year, it was on the same weekend as Easter. It was so neat for me to realize that because of Easter, the grave is not the end. There is life, both now, and to come.

So excited for conference this coming weekend! And also, I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese, woohoo!

Sorry, I'm so distracted with all this Jared being a missionary stuff that my brain is not even working....just going to send a pic and call it good :D

Love you!