My Dear family,
I don't know what it is about this move call, but I am exhausted! Sister Anderson and I are giving all that we can just so we don't fall off our bikes while we are riding. It's really pathetic. When I first got on island I was really proud when my biking ability was growing. I would switch my bike to a higher gear every week until I got to the top and could ride a lot faster. I think I've hit the point where that ability is going to slowly deteriorate. My legs get tired a lot faster, and what used to seem pretty easy before seems ten, well...maybe five, times harder. I thought it was funny when dad was talking about how he was getting old, because its exactly how I feel on a mission. My eyes aren't getting worse yet, but my body hurts like it never used to before. Haha! But I'm glad to make the sacrifice. And I guess that just shows that I'm trying my hardest. I had a goal in the MTC to go home and be so tired I collapsed, knowing I gave my all for a year and a half. I don't think that goal is going to be hard to hit, I'm on my fifth move-call and already feel like I could just fall over anytime if I let myself.
Before I forget we are planning on Skyping you on Mother's Day! We will probably do it Monday morning here, so your evening there. We haven't been able to find someone to help us yet, but the elders might have found a computer we can use. If all else fails we can go to a wenka. So we will probably try to do it around the same time we did for Christmas? Not too sure yet...sorry!!!
Anyway, enough of that. We are tired, but we are also two happy missionaries. We are trying really hard to keep a positive and happy attitude. Its not very hard with Sister Anderson though. She is really easy to get along with and we are already really good friends.
This week has been a trying one. We've gotten stood up for so many lessons. We would have lessons set up and even find members that would help us peike and then would have to call the member and cancel because the investigator canceled. Friday after weekly planning even ended up being a complete day of tracting because everything fell through. By the end of the night we were exhausted and didn't want to tract anymore doors, but of course we did. We didn't really have any success, but we did have a lot of time to talk which made it not as bad.
A few tracting stories from the week:
On Friday afternoon we had picked a neighborhood to tract and as always there was a Daoist temple nearby. We were walking down to the next row of houses when when this 60 year old man walked by us. As is typical here he looked at us and said a barely understandable "how are you?" and started chuckling. (Men yell it out their windows to us all the time. I'm not sure if they really know what it means and that it implies an answer should be made, but we get it a lot.) He then went and sat on one of the chairs right outside the Daoist temple. Then every single time we walked past or within eyesight he would yell another barely understandable "how are you?" and chuckle like a mad man. It was hilarious! He was possibly drunk or maybe just a little crazy, but it made tracting a little more bearable.
I can't remember what day it was, but we were yet again tracting another street and tracted into this 90+ year old man. His hair was completely white, he didn't have any teeth, and he was living completely alone. We tried to talk to him, but he didn't speak Chinese he only spoke Taiwanese. We could pick up a little bit of what he was saying and just about guess the rest. He tried really hard to give us money saying that he lived alone and didn't need all that money for himself. We thanked him profusely, but told him to keep it for himself and continued tracting the street. He stood out on his porch or sometimes walked out into the middle of the street holding his can of change just watching us. When we were walking back to our bikes he stopped me and once again tried to give us some money. He ended up grabbing my hand and shoving a 50 kuai coin into my hand (just a little under two dollars) and wouldn't take it back. We thought about going back and giving it back, but felt awkward about it. So I now have this 50 kuai coin that will always remind me of the goodness of people. There are so many good people here and sometimes I forget that amid all the rejection and scorn. He was so willing to help us and even though he had every right to save for himself he was willing to give some of what he had to two American missionaries that he didn't even know.
Really not much else happened this week. Huang Jiemei (the mom who brought her kids to church last week) came to church again this week! Sister Anderson and I walked into church and had quite a few LAs and RCs at church but no investigators. We were a little discouraged, but glad that we had some people come. Then during the opening prayer we heard the door open and someone start walking to some seats in the front. Sister Anderson and I both peeked to see who it was (hoping it was her). And it was! We were so happy.
We went and visited hernight and finally finished teaching the first lesson. She's not quite ready to commit to baptism yet, but she has an open heart. She is willing to learn and listen, but just wants to understand a little more before she is willing to accept. Several of the members have already talked to me and mentioned that she seems like a person who will be really open to accepting the gospel. She loves the values that her kids are learning at church and loves that we focus so much on family. What is even more miraculous is that her mom is completely open to it too.
The older generation here is very traditional and don't like the idea of their family members breaking from tradition. Their culture here also includes the children having the responsibility to bai their parents and ancestors to help them in the afterlife. The parents are afraid that if their children become Christian they won't give them the respect and help they need when they are spirits.
Anyway I hope that we can continue working with her and that nothing happens to allow the interest she has now to go away. She leaves for China in a couple of months, so we need to use the time that we have the best we can.
Of course Shao Jie came to church again, but I was so proud of her because she fasted! She didn't even need us to remind her. We went to go meet with her and she brought it up and asked us exactly what she needed to do. She is incredible and continues to amaze me!
We've also been able to meet with some new LAs. Sometimes LAs are really frustrating. They know what they need to do, they just don't want to do it. We do have some awesome ones that have extenuating circumstances that prevent them from coming to church very often etc, but most of them are just lazy.
We have been focusing on a Ju Jiemei lately and try to visit her at her barber shop when she doesn't have customers. The few times I have visited her she has almost bragged about not coming to church and being less active, but says that she has a lot of faith. So the next lesson we had with her I shared the scripture in the Bible that says "faith without works is dead." She laughed...because she knew she wasn't doing anything.
Then we found a new LA who was offended by a member and won't come back. We tried to teach her, but she kept saying she didn't wan't to accept "Mo'ermen Jiao," but she already has.
We've seen these two on the streets several times and they try really hard to avoid us. It might just be that I'm a little stubborn, but I don't want to let them crawl into the wood work again. They are frustrating sometimes, but they are precious children of God. They had testimonies once and have just forgotten it. I hope maybe if we show them that we really do care about them and are trying to help them they might be willing to come back.
We also have an LA that we go visit everyafternoon who we are currently trying to get to stay for more than just one hour of church. She always pulls out the excuse that her husband will yell at her if she stays too long. This week though she also talked about how the vegetables and food she goes and buys is all sold out at the market by the time church is over. After she said that Sister Anderson and I paused for a little bit, not knowing quite how to start, then taught her about what keeping the Sabbath Day really includes. We tried to invite her to not buy anything and she continued to make a bunch of excuses, one of which being a particular vegetable is only sold so she has no other time to buy it. It was an interesting lesson, and we got pretty blunt again.
After that lesson Sister Anderson and I were talking about how so many of the prophesies in the scriptures are fulfilled today. We were talking about how our LA was complaining that our church has so many commandments that other Christian churches have, and that the world is flattering people away from the truth. And then there's the story of Zezrom who believes he is a man of learning and denies Christ, wanting a sign before he is willing to believe. We have been coming across so many similar instances and really are seeing the scriptures being fulfilled.
I'm finding that recently I've had to confront and say things to people that I never thought I would say to someone in my life.I hate that we have to sometimes, but other times its really satisfying. We are literally crying repentance to the people.
And that's about it, and on a more positive note we have a lot of potential investigators. We have several people that we need to go back and visit or get in touch with that we have contacted recently. We're hoping some of these people will stick with us so we can find some new investigators. Almost all of the investigators we had before have dropped, so we are back to square one in finding new people to teach.
I almost forgot about anothermiracle we had! We have a Sister in our ward named Lu Jiemei. She is Vietnamese and has been a member for just over a year. She is incredible and she and her husband are so good to the missionaries. We go over there for FHE a lot and share with her family. Her husband isn't a member, and I'm not quite sure why. Every time we have gone over and talked about the scriptures he is right here participating in the discussion and sounds like a member.
We were sitting in Sacrament meeting and only had about ten minutes left when Lu Jiemei's husband walks in with their little daughter and sat down in one of the empty chairs in front of us. Lu Jiemei was sitting in front of us so I saw her face when she turned around and saw her husband walk into church. She was shocked and amazed. She moved over to sit by her husband and was just glowing for the rest of church. As far as the missionaries know he has never come to church before this week. I know Lu Jiemei is an incredible example to her family and hope and pray for her that her husband will some day be willing to be baptized, hopefullywas just the beginning.
I also forgot to tell you last week...don't be mad...but I bought a violin! I've been dying without one and have wanted to find one to just play for a few minutes. Then a couple of weeks ago Yeh Jiemei emailed me telling me there was a violin in Gangshan on sale for 4500 kuai (about $120). So she helped me buy it and brought it down during the baptism. Sister Yeh's new companion bought one too and says its actually a really good violin for the price. I'm so excited! I never realized how much I would miss it until I didn't have it anymore. Hopefully it can be a tool for helping our members and those we teach feel the spirit.
Anyway I love you all, my time is about up. But I did get your package and absolutely loved it! I love those pictures of Jemma. They are now up on my wall and make me smile every time. I can't wait to talk to you! Have a great week!
There's another miracle just around the corner!