I always start these emails with "Dear Family," but that always sounds weird to me and not like I'm really talking to you (which I guess I'm not really but it feels like it) so I decided not to this week. Haha.
Anyway I loved reading your emails as usual. Even when they are just about trivial day to day things I love them! They mean so much and help me so much. The snow back home looks like so much fun! Its strange to think that it is almost December. It doesn't feel like it here at all. Today was actually the first day that I had to go put a sweater on because it was a little chilly while we were studying. And even then it will probably bet warm enough for me to take that off this afternoon. I guess I missed the really hot weather and got here just in time to experience one of the best times of the year weather wise. The humidity isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Some days are worse than others, today is actually pretty dry compared to normal. I'm sure I will be cursing it once summer comes though.
Its only been a few days since my last email and I'm trying to remember what I have actually told you and what has actually happened since. So if I repeat myself forgive me, haha. This week has been kind of a rough one as far as lessons and finding new investigators. Going to the temple was so great and I felt God's love so much and was so grateful for the opportunity I have to teach people here about His plan and know the joy of forever families and have the potential to return to the Celestial Kingdom. It was probably one of the greatest experiences I have had in the temple so far. We have had a lot of people that we have met with, but hadn't been able to set up with them again. Once we set up with them for a second visit they are considered a new investigator so we try to get an appointment there, but that hardly ever happens. They all say they are too busy or make one excuse or another. So the past couple of days we have been trying to contact and set up with them and most of them are looking like they aren't going to have any interest which is sad. We did have one which set up with us and its a really...interesting...case.
So we ended up not being able to go out and teach the less active we had planned on becuase it was too far out and we needed to be on time to go english proselyting for english class later that afternoon. So we decided to go tracting down this street a member had referred us to. The street had a ton of really nice houses connected like apartments that all had intercoms on the outside so we were going door to door seeing if they would answer and most didn't have anyone home. After going through maybe ten or twelve houses we reached some less fancy houses and knocked on the first door and a middle age lady answered the door. We said we were missionaries and she told us she didn't have any time but then asked us if we could come backat two. Of course we said yes (I think I might have told you this story already), anyway we met with her and it was probably the strangest meeting I have had yet.
She remembered us and invited us in and we talked for a while, I mostly listened and tried to pick up what I could and introduced myself and our family. She was really nice and happy and we found out that she is studying english pretty dilligently on her own. The more we talked with her the more I suspect that she invited us back because we are American and speak english. With the last few minutes there we talked to her about prayer and she asked us to teach her how to do it and was really excited about it. So I taught what we do when we pray and asked her if she would pray with us. She was really excited and offered to say it on her own. So we all bowed our heads and she starts babbling. At first I thought it might be Taiyu (Taiwanese) but it was a lot harsher. The longer she went on the more uncomfortable I felt and wondered if she was denouncing us or something. I looked up and made eye contact with Sister Anderson and we both had no idea what was going on and had to hold in laughter becuase we felt so awkward. The lady finally finished and looked up at us with a huge smile. Sister Anderson asked her what language that was in and she replied that it was the gift of tounges and that she had seen it on T.V. Sister Anderson told her that we don't really do that and asked if she could say a prayer. As she was praying a completely different atmosphere entered into the room and I felt the peace and calming spirit that comes from sincere prayer to our Heavenly Father. We have another appointment with her, so we will see what happens. We both were a little thrown off by that experience for a few hours afterward. If anything it testified to me about the sacred experience prayer is and the peace that should come from prayer. We pray so often as missionaries and I'm so grateful for that knowledge and gift that we really can talk with our Heavenly Father.
We also had the biggest miracle at church this week! We have been meeting with a recent convert named Chen Ke Li Ya and have been trying really hard to get her to come back to church. We actually went and visited her my second day here and she doctored up my knee a little bit (which is almost completely healed now, its still a little pink and tender). Every time we meet we invite her to come to church and have talked about the reactivation forms we have to guage a less actives progress in coming back to activity in the church, and every time she says she will come. Last week we even called her an hour before church and she said she was coming and didn't show up. So this week we visited her and she was so busy with her work (making these cheap crystal trinkets to sell in the US) that we didn't get much of a lesson in but helped her instead for quite a while. She told us if she got the huge order done that she had dueshe would come to church. We went back the next day and even asked the Elders to come help us for an hour so she could come to church. We were able to get a lot done, but still didn't know how commited she would be to come. Her husband (who isn't a member) even said they would come.
And as you have probably guessed by now they came! I was sitting with our two investigators who are getting married and baptized in a couple of days and whenhit and they weren't there I was a little dissapointed, but not too suprised. Then around Chen Ke Li Ya walks in with her youngest son and sits behind me. I was really excited, but still a little dissapointed that the whole family hadn't come. Then about five minutes later her middle son came in and eventually her oldest son and her husband trickled in. The whole family was there and it was such a beautiful sight to see them all sitting next to each other among the members of the Nantou ward. I couldn't help myself and kept looking back and couldn't keep from smiling. We have been trying so long and praying so hard that they would come and I continue to pray that this is a step toward this family coming fully into the church.
I can't think of much else out of the ordinary. I passed off another Phase 1 evalutation and have three more to go before I have it finished! I'm on track to finish it in a move call so hopefully everything will go well with that. As far as your questions we do have a mission leader called in the ward as well as a few ward missionaries. Zhang Yu Mei who I think I told you about is always willing to help us and has all the time in the world, but we never want her to peike (attend lessons) because she's not a good one. Her spirit is so strong though and all she wants to do is serve a full time mission but because of her handicap isn't allowed to. Our other ward missionary is awesome and has been trying to help us a lot lately. I think if we keep working more with them they will realize what they can do more and better emulate their callings. They are all doing a lot better and are being more diligent in helping us and helping the ward get more involved in missionary work. If we can all work together we can do great things and that's my hope for this area. I want this ward to become a missionary ward and to be so active in sharing this gospel. That's my goal for while I am here is to change this ward because we can't do it without them.
As far as eating we eat breakfast and lunch in our apartment because we have an extra hour and a half of studies because I am training. Pretty much breakfast consists of either oatmeal or toast and a piece of fruit and luch is always a sandwich and a piece of friut. Not super exciting there. For dinner it just depends a lot of the time we just go to a seven eleven or family mart and buy fruit or tv dinner type meals and eat there. Other days we will go to markets and buy dumplings or noodles. If we are feeling adventurous or more hungry we will go get hot pot or a bowl of beef noodles. They eat noodles and dumplings so much here its crazy! They will even go get noodles for breakfast! While I was on exchanges I did eat stinkey tofu...which is disgusting. I ate it and some missionaries really like it, but I think its gross. But I am also not much of a tofu fan which is also in almost everything here. They like squishy things. In EVERYTHING! They have sqishy things in their drinks and soups and almost everything else. When we eat hot pot there is some normal meat and vegetables and a lot of fish. I've eated octupus a lot and they like to congeal blood and stick that in there too or they soak rice in blood and smush it into a square that you can eat. That's about it so far, but I'm sure I'll encounter more along the way.
It does seem crazy that I will be soon going on my fourth month! I've almost been in Nantou for a month. It goes by so fast, but I am also so exhausted that sometimes it seems like time is crawling. Its pretty much the same as the MTC. The days are long and the weeks are fast. Anyway I should go write some more emails, but I love you all so much and loved the pictures of Jemma playing in the snow. Enjoy it for me too okay?
Oh I also need to tell you to get a Skype account and get used to it before Christmas because we get to talk to our families! We have to go find a member who will let us use their skype account so I don't think I will be able to use a different program. I will also need to know your username so I can find you! I'm so excited and can't wait to see you all and talk to you for a little bit. I'll give you more details when it get closer. And I will take a picture of my bike this week and send it next week for Jemma. I'll try to be better with taking pictures..I still need to go find a point and shoot to buy.
I love you all and have a wonderful week! Rejoice that we have the gospel and that we know God and Christ and our relationship with them. It is truly such a blessing! Remember I love you all and pray for you every day. Keep positive! Come what may and love it!