Thank you as always for your emails, they always lift me up and are a great start to the new week. Honestly not a lot has happened this week on my end either. We go out every day to tract, contact or to possibly visit people and teach them about the gospel, but lately it seems that none of that has been working out very well. Well as far as outward manifestations go...I know there are often influences that we don't see. And honestly we probably don't see most of the influence our efforts have.
We haven't been able to meet with John and his wife again. They are technically the Nantou elders' investigators, so we only go over when we are invited, but we do hope that we can help in any way that we can. Her husband is so prepared! He just won't come to church until his wife will come too. I can't remember if I told you, but he has already read the Book of Mormon once and is about half way through it a second time. He believes and often talks about how missionary work is the best work there is! We hope someday he will be able to realize he can be an example for his wife and act on his faith.
Chen Zhen Zhen, the lady we taught once with her son (the one who asked "can I?") has been dropped for a little while. I firmly believe that someday she will be ready to accept the gospel. She has already been tracted into and taught by two sets of missionaries, but now is not her time. The first week of this move call we set up with her and went over to go finish teaching her about the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we went over she said she hadn't read the Book of Mormon (still) and then started bringing up a lot of different concerns that showed up out of nowhere. Basically she has read other books from different religions and thinks they are all good and that one specifically isn't true, but they all are (a common way of thinking here). She also said she doesn't think a family shouldn't have members from many different religions so she is more inclined to accept one of the churches her family members go to. She brought up a lot of different things which we answered, but she didn't want to really listen and basically dismissed us. I remember while she was talking and bringing up so many different concerns I just started testifying. I told her I knew this gospel was true, and that she could as well if she would do her part, which she hadn't. I told her the only way to know was to read and to ask God, and if she wasn't willing to do that she wouldn't be able to receive an answer. I then told her we were representatives of Jesus Christ and that His church has been restored and that our message is the most important message on the earth today and that it could help her with all the problems she had told us about.
After that she brought up more excuses and tried to counter everything with other religious practices, but we were way past time to leave so we had to go. (We almost had to call President Blickenstaff because we were almost home after ten.) Nothing much we said made much of an impact that I could see, she did get a little uncomfortable, but we just invited her to read and told her if she would she could receive answers to her questions. Ever since then we have been giving her a break.
That was the first time I have ever done that though, and it made me feel like a missionary. That might sound silly, but even though she wasn't really accepting I felt like I was delivering this message with all my heart and testifying like the prophets in the scriptures.
Anyway that was a long explanation, but for now she's not very willing to listen to much more. It was hard and I couldn't stop thinking about it for several days, but now I just hope someday she will pick up the Book of Mormon she has and sincerely read and pray about it. It could help her (and everybody) so much! We just first have to read and then ask God.
Dad asked about what church is like here and its pretty much the same, just smaller. And even then it depends on where you go. Nantou is one of the most rural areas, so its a lot smaller. But other than that and the language it is pretty much the same. (Dad I actually didn't hear that story in Church. We only have the gospel principles books in English so all other book they just have the Chinese versions. So most of the time I'm not to sure what is going on, especially because most of the lessons consist of the teachers telling everyone to read the chapter.)
But we also went to the youthschool class this week because Jia Zhen came to church! She has been the young woman who has had a baptismal date since I got here. We have a new date for and I think she might really stick with this one. She was able to move her tutor time to rather than and came to church for the full three hours! It is really hard in our ward because we only have one young woman and only two young single adult sisters. So I was really worried that she would feel really awkward and not like church, but our ward was incredible at fellow-shipping her and afterward she said she had a really good time.
The language is going well...I think. I think I've been given a great opportunity to grow and learn a lot this move call. With Sister Hill I'm actually the companion who speaks the most and I have to remember to let her have a chance to talk. So we have been able to learn a lot and improve together. I've been forced to come out of my shell in order to get what we need to do done, so it has been really good for me. I've gained a lot more confidence and even though I don't know how to say a lot Chinese is starting to feel a lot more natural. I've even started having dreams where I'm speaking Chinese. And I have started sending texts! They take me a while, but I'm getting faster and have started learning more characters, at least the basic ones. People are really nice here and compliment me on my Chinese a lot, even though it isn't very good. Its really funny to watch people laugh at us on the street and start speaking to them in Chinese. It throws them off and sometimes they get really embarrassed because they were just talking about the foreigners on the street. They hardly ever expect us to be able to speak Chinese. So...yes...Jemma's prayers, and mine are working and the language is coming along.
Sister Hill and I get along really well. It's just different. Every person is different and has different personalities. She is more quiet and I know this sounds strange, but I'm usually the one talking the most. But we get along great. This has been her first move call as senior companion and my first move call out of training so neither of us knows exactly what we are doing. Like I said we have been learning a lot together. It has just been a little hard this move call because it seems like no matter what we do we can't find new investigators and all of our current ones (besides Jia Zhen) have stopped progressing or even setting up with us. But we keep moving forward and have been trying to strengthen each other in the work. It's probably just a phase and trial we have to go through. As we trust in the Lord and keep doing our best He will lift us up and strengthen us.
I think I answered almost all of your questions...you had a lot this week! As far as the rest of this week went we weren't really able to meet with many people. Were continuing to get our less actives to church and almost had Patricia (the lady from Costa Rica) come, but she slept in I think. I love going to go and visit her though! We also went to go try and visit one of our recent converts (the one who got back from Australia a little while ago) and ended up sitting with her parents and hearing them rant about how offended they were with our ward and how their daughter is going back to her old christian church. We were there for a long time and it was really good to hear what has actually been going on because their daughter wouldn't tell us. But because she wasn't there her mom was willing to talk to us about it. I think it will take a while for her to be willing to come back, because they are really offended, but we are going to keep trying. Mostly our ward hasn't fellow-shipped her much since she got back and all of her friends go to the other church so she would rather go there. It was hard, and I was really sensitive the rest of the day. It is hard to hear of people leaving, but we are going to try and help her as best we can.
Something funny happened right after that encounter. We had just walked out and I just had to take a breath and started crying. Sister Hill was being a great companion and was comforting me when this homeless looking guy pulled up to us on his bike. I think he saw me crying when he passed a few minutes before and came back. At first he was really nice and gave us a bunch of oranges he had in his bike basket. I started just making small talk with him to be nice, but then he asked if I was married (which happens more than I would expect). I told him no and tried to tell him about the gospel and our purpose in coming to Taiwan. That didn't make much effect and he asked me again several times if I really wasn't married yet...it was really creepy, but we invited him to church and to hear the missionary lessons from the elders. After that he decided he didn't want to talk to us much and left. We actually ran into him on the road in Zhongxingand he called to us from across the street. There seems to be a consistent plague of creepy Taiwanese men this move call.
Speaking of plagues this move call, everyone recently for some reason has decided to call us in the middle of the night. Almost four nights in a row we have had someone call us at eleven or twelve, and most of the time they aren't even for important reasons. I guess Heavenly Father is just testing my patience.
That's pretty much it for this week. We were able to set up and meet with a couple of people we haven't been able to see in a long time. So we hope we can continue to meet with them and help them strengthen their faith and belief in Christ. Most of them have lost a lot of desire over Chinese New Year. We have also been able to find some formers and have found out that they have no interest, which helps us weed out our potential investigator pool a little bit. Not much success yet, but as we continue to do what we can we will find those prepared to hear the gospel.
Oh I almost forgot, we were able to have interviews with President and Sister Blickenstaff this week. I always love meeting with them! They are so uplifting and are incredible examples. I can always see and feel the love that they both have for us and know that they care about me personally. I really am blessed to serve with them!
We were also able to get permission from President to go out and take some pictures of the Lantern Festival. It is huge! So we were only able to get a little in the fifteen minutes we had before we had to get back home. Since the lights don't turn on until it gets dark we don't really have much opportunity to take pictures on preparation day since we go back to work at six. (Which is when it really starts getting dark). But we are going out today with Yu Mei to see some of it, which should be interesting.
Anyway I'm out of time, but I love you and am so glad things are going well at home. I'm so glad you are happy and healthy! Know that I love you and that I am so grateful to be a missionary. Even when it is hard it is the best thing I could be doing with my life right now and I feel so privileged to be serving in Taiwan.
Love you, with all my heart,