Yaaayyy!!! We had a baptism this week!! So excited! And it turned out just incredible.
I loved reading your emails and it sounds like you are all doing well. Sister Anderson and I were talking this week about how we miss just going out and doing stuff with our families, or being able to come home and have a lazy movie night with your family. Its the simple and mundane things that I miss the most.
Anyway, enough of that. This time will be over faster than we know it. (Did you know next month I hit half way!? Time goes by so fast!)
I just want to tell you about the baptism, but I'm going to force myself to start from the beginning of the week. We actually got "fonged" a lot this week. (There's a saying here "fonged women de geze" which literally means left us sitting like pigeons. The missionaries use it all the time when we get stood up for lessons.) But thus is the life of a missionary I guess.
Despite getting stood up a lot and having our plans fall through we still worked really hard. We met with one of the ladies we had tracted into the first week of the move call and were able to teach her and her husband a little about the Restoration. We invited them to be baptized, and they told us there was absolutely no possibility, but are still willing to learn so we are going to keep going back. (The Hong family, my RCs in Nantou, started off that way too.) So we got two new investigators!
We dropped Ma Jiemei this week. We went back to go see if she prayed and she hadn't. The whole time we were there we felt like we were being mocked by her and her son. Her son had a friend come over and they told us to teach him how to pray and that he could have a lot of interest. I was trying to include them all and have Ma Jiemei talk about prayer (because she knows what it is), but they wouldn't. So I gave up and focused on the friend. We taught him how to pray using the Plan of Salvation I miraculously had in my bag, maybe the Plan of Salvation is what he really needs. He even said the prayer. He was so willing to try and listened to everything we said. The Spirit was definitely there when we were teaching him, but when we turned back to Ma Jiemei and her son it was not there.
If nothing else my mission has definitely taught me how to be bold. We were really straight forward with her and I asked her some pretty bold questions. Sister Anderson was so mad that she couldn't speak so I took the lead. I can't remember everything I said, but I know I asked her why she would let us in. She said she wanted us to play Mah Jhong. So I asked her what was more important Mah Jhong or her salvation. She said Mah Jhong was more important. I also asked her what she was afraid of, she just pushed that one off and made a ton of excuses. We then testified as much as we could and with all our hearts. I testified to her as a representative of Christ that our message is true and that she could know it. We prayed, left the door, and aren't going back. Maybe one day she will be prepared. Maybe she will be humbled enough to "experiment on the word," but for now we need to move on and find those who are prepared now for the gospel.
Actually we ended up dropping a lot of our investigators. They weren't progressing or didn't really want to learn. There are so many people here who just want to learn about Americans or are too embarrassed to reject us. We need to focus our efforts elsewhere. Its really hard to drop investigators, but sometimes it needs to be done.
Perhaps one of my favorite things was walking down the hallway and seeing all the other missionaries together. It truly is a pick-me-up to be gathered together. The companionship of other young men and young women also trying their hardest to do the work of the Lord, who are going through the same trials, the same joys and understand every single thought and experience you go through (because they've had the same ones) is an incredible blessing. It makes me think of how incredible and how much more joy and comfort we will have when we come face to face with our Savior. He knows us completely and individually. That feeling of security will be ten times greater and how much greater will be our joy.
I know that my redeemer lives! He knows us, and He loves us! How great is our joy!
As soon as we walked in we were also greeted by one of our zone leaders and one of the assistants to the president who were waiting for their next planner check. We were able to talk to them for a minute and our zone leader (who moved into the zone the same time I did) said to us, "You are tearing it up in Qishan! What are you doing?"
And you know what, I have no idea. I don't know why the Lord has let us see so many miracles. All I know is we are doing our best and having faith. I guess that's enough. It is such a good feeling though to see an area completely change for the better.
Thenwas our baptism! The rest of the day wasn't super eventful or incredible. We went and found an LA who wants nothing to do with the church because she was offended then feel dead asleep while we were talking to her. (we left a note) Then did some tracting and that was about it. We went to the church super early to make sure the font was clean and start heating up the water and testing it. While we were waiting I called some phones and Sister Anderson worked on writing the program for that night. We ran and got some dinner and then went back to the church. Around that time I started feeling really sick. My stomach pains came back like they would before and recently I've been catching a cold so I was really uncomfortable. I felt really bad, but Sister Anderson set up and let me sit down for a little while. Thankfully it went away completely right before the baptism (prayer works!).
Anyway I loved being at the church and seeing the font. Whether we were testing the water, moping out the font, or checking the water temperature every single time we walked back there I just took a minute to look and to take it in. And every single time I was hit by the spirit. It is so strong there! It is such a sacred place and that was manifest to me as we were preparing for the baptism. This is where people start new lives, they covenant with God and start a life turned toward Christ.
Yeh Jiemei was actually able to come to the baptism because they found out it could only take them an hour if a member drove them to Qishan (President won't let us go if it takes more than an hour.) So we had a very happy investigator and it was great to see her again.
The program went well and so many of our members showed up to support Shao Jie. It was incredible and I was so proud of our ward! When it was time for the ordinance we helped her get back to the stairs and we all watched from the side as she was baptized. She had to be baptized three times to finally get her all the way under the water. I was really nervous because she was so afraid of going under water in the first place. When she walked out she was breathing hard and I asked her if she was okay. She stopped for a second then said to me, "When I was under the water it felt like I had Jesus Christ by my side."
I lost it. I was doing really good until then, but that tipped me over and I started crying. She is only 12 and is so close to God and the spirit. I am so privileged to know her. She bore her testimony after and then at churchand said she was afraid at first so she said a little prayer before she went in and it helped her feel more calm. I love seeing the faith of these people! It is something so foreign at first to them, but when they believe they hit the ground running and are incredible examples to me. Shao Jie received the Holy Ghost and was absolutely beaming!
We were also privileged to have President and Sister Blickenstaff come to our ward and speak in Sacrament meeting. I love them so much! They are so full of power and of the Spirit. (Also I was extremely proud that thethey come to Qishan, a small city in the middle of nowhere in Taiwan, they were able to see a confirmation.) Tender mercies.
After church the ward members had prepared an even more elaborate meal than usual for the missionaries and President and Sister Blickenstaff. It was a little strange being with them in a normal setting, but we were able to sit, talk, and eat lunch with them before they had to leave.
That night we went back and visited Huang Jiemei and taught her about the Restoration. She was completely intent on what we were teaching and had so many questions we ended up teaching bits and pieces from all the other lessons. We gave her a pamphlet and she started reading the definitions in the back to understand better and even started asking us about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
After that we mustered up all the energy we could and biked back to Qishan. I don't know what it is, but we both have been completely exhausted the past couple of weeks. Thank goodness today is P-day!
Well I'm almost out of time. So much happened this week! I'm glad Jemma got her stickers and likes them! To answer dad's questions Chinese is coming along. I feel like I can pretty much communicate with everyone now and have recently been trying to work on my reading and writing, because in that aspect I am practically illiterate. So hard! Why can't they just have an alphabet? I'm safe and eating fine, probably too much. At least we are biking all the time right?
I love you all and miss you! We will try to figure out what we are doing for skype this week and I'll let you know. Love You!
There's another miracle just around the corner.
Love you all 8080808090808080908090908090. Give Jemma a hug for me!