Here's her latest message:
Hello again from Qishan!
Before I say anything else....HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!! Sorry I didn't say that last week. I wrote in my planner and everything so I wouldn't forget, and I forgot. I remembered as soon as the computer timed out. Anyway I love you and hope you had a great birthday!
I also hope that this week was good and full of miracles for all. We had an incredible week! I couldn't wait to tell you all!
So I don't know if it was this way for you when you went on your missions, but President Blickenstaff has set standards for our mission on the amount of lessons we should have, baptismal goals, investigators at church etc. He always tells us that if we hit these standards weekly we will baptize monthly and it hasn't been disproved yet. But this week we were able to get closer to the mission standards that I ever have in Qishan. We were so close! We hope that if we work really hard this week we can hit them, because hitting the standards in Qishan would be an accomplishment we would be really proud of.
We had ZTM this week which is always a huge pick-me-up. I've said it before, but I love being in large groups of missionaries. It always seems to lift spirits and lets you know that you aren't the only one struggling and trying to preach the gospel on this tiny island, because sometimes it feels that way. Our zone leaders are awesome and always have really motivational training meetings. This month they were focusing on baptisms. Last month our zone didn't do very well, so they asked every companionship to pick a name of an investigator that could possibly get baptized this month and write it up on the board. Like we do every month we all wrote down the names and are praying for them every night. They talked a lot about having the faith to go out and find someone who could get baptized and invited us to fast that we would be able to have a baptism this month. It was a really good meeting and gave me a lot to think about.
While we were on the bus on our way back to Qishan I was thinking a lot about stories that other missionaries had shared and miracles they had seen. It made me doubt myself a little bit because I don't have a lot of experiences like that, but then I remember the less noticeable, but just as significant miracles I have seen on my mission. I haven't seen a lot of baptisms, but I have seen two struggling areas progress like crazy. I haven't personally found a lot of investigators, but I have seen a lot of progress in myself. Anyway, I decided that I want to give up my doubts to help further the building up of the kingdom here. I have faith and I know with God anything is possible, but I still have slivers of doubt when we are tracting, contacting etc. I want to stop that and have complete faith in everyone I come in contact with. I want to have faith in the power of God and be more open to seeing His hand in this work.
So, point being I had a really thoughtful ride back to Qishan and when we got back we saw the miracles start rolling in.
We got off the bus and started walking back home to get our bikes when I saw someone inside the bus station react at us walking past. I did a double take and saw that it was Yu Rong (the young women that always comes to church that I contacted at the 7). We turned around and sat down with her for a little bit. I asked her if she had been praying and she said she had prayed twice every day that week! I then asked her what she felt and she said she didn't really feel anything. I then asked her if she believed God existed. She replied, "a little bit." I was super excited! That is so much improvement for her! We invited her to pay attention to her feelings when she prays this week.
We were also able to meet with her for a minute after church yesterday. We taught her the Gospel of Christ and invited her to be baptized. She absolutely does not want to be baptized and says she only comes to church for friends. I asked her if she felt she had made friends and she said not really. So we think there is obviously something more than just friends bringing her to church, she just doesn't want to admit it. She is going to have a really hard time giving up Buddhism and accepting Christ, but I hope some day she will. Shao Jie helped us with our lesson and afterward kept asking why Yu Rong didn't want to get baptized or why she didn't really believe. She was so cute and had such a hard time understanding why someone wouldn't believe. She's convinced Yu Rong has a little bit of faith, and I agree with her. Hopefully we can help that grow.
After we met with Yu Rong at the train station our front plan fell through so we tried to go visit one of our LAs. We had practiced asking members for referrals during ZTM so we decided to do the same with her and got a reaction we didn't expect at all. She started talking about how her work got changed so she could come back to church and wanted to bring her three grandchildren. (The oldest of whom has already been baptized.) She started figuring out how old they all were and if her granddaughter was old enough to be baptized. Turns out she's nine and her grandma wants us to teach her so she can be baptized. This little girl is so cute and wants to be baptized so bad. She has already been to church once and remembers a lot from when her brother was taught by the elders. (She practically taught the plan of salvation during our spiritual share in english class.)
We walked out of that lesson shocked! We now had a new investigator who could be baptized by the end of the month without a problem. We just need to review the lessons with her!
And then the miracles just continued. We got a referral from an LA to go and find her friend who is also less active and bring her back. (She helped her get introduced to the gospel and remembered how happy she was when her friend got baptized.) We had a million lessons on Thursday. We were going from lesson to lesson to lesson (which has never happened here before). We went to Wang Jiemei's house (the old lady with the giant Book of Mormon) the same day she finished the Book of Mormon. We decided we want to get one made that's even bigger because she is having a hard time reading her's again. We went to our RCs house and determined that her son could get baptized as soon as we reviewed the lessons as well. He was taught along with his mom and sisters, but wasn't old enough to get baptized yet. He is an incredible example for his sisters and always reads and prays.
Thenwe had a lesson set up with someone we had called off of dead stack. Sister Anderson and I are both a little hesitant to call business cards, but decided to be brave one day and call one. It's always a little nerve-wracking going to appointments when you don't know the person or how they will react, but as we pulled up her sons called out to her that we were there and she was really nice and welcomed us in. We answered a few of her questions about what missionaries do and where we were from and then she very matter-of-factly asked, "So what is it you would like to share with me today?" We talked about the Book of Mormon and our Father in Heaven and Prayer and testified of the Restoration. After that was said I asked her why she was willing to meet with us. She replied, "I guess it was just the will of God." Turns out she was baptized into the Baptist church several years ago, but hasn't gone in a while. She told us we could come back to her house or her work anytime as long as we call her first.
I was saying before that a lot of the times I doubt and don't expect reactions like this, but the Lord is definitely teaching me not to doubt and has shown us so many miracles this week. So I've learned that I need to have faith; have faith that people will accept our message, that investigators can be found, and that miracles continue to happen every day. I think this week the Lord was just nudging my memory and reminding me that this is His work and we can see it roll forth in our work, no matter where we are serving.
I love serving here in Qishan. I love the members and I love that we can find things to laugh about every day. This week we actually had a lot of rain, but every time the rain pours we seem to be inside and as soon as we are about to go outside the rain stops. It doesn't happen like that every time, but most of the time that's how it is. According to what the elders say, they seem to be outside every time it pours. So Sister Anderson and I decided that Heavenly Father must love us more. Haha, just kidding! But it is a funny coincidence.
The other day we ended up having a race with the elders from Meinong to Qishan. We had passed them while they were stopped at a corner and rang our bells as we went by. Several minutes later they come zooming past us with smug grins on their faces. Sister Anderson and I decided that we couldn't let that slide, so we sped it up and passed them a few minutes later. We thought we had the upper hand and slowed down a little when we got to the bridge into Qishan and found the elders waiting for us and the head of a secret bike trail. While we were waiting at a red light the turned and went over the bridge ahead of us. We thought it was really funny and were ready to give it to them, but were able to get momentum off the bridge and passed them while they were stopped at a red light. It was really silly, but it made the rainy bike ride to Qishan a little more fun.
This week we also heard a news report about a guy doing CPR on a squirrel and died laughing. We got asked to stay and eat dinner at one of our LAs house that night, but their family eats while watching TV. So Sister Anderson and I sat awkwardly staring a different way and were singing hymns in our heads so we wouldn't listen. Then we started hearing english and heard this story about the squirrel. We both started cracking up! The family had no idea what we were laughing at and probably thought we were a little crazy.
Anyway those were some funny things that happened this week. The pictures I put on dropbox are of all the water bottles and cereal boxes we've gone through the past couple of weeks. I though dad would appreciate that we are drinking water :). The other is of my desk after personal study. It tends to be like that most days.
I love you all and love hearing from you every week. I pray for you every night and thank Heavenly Father that He gave me such an incredible family.
As always, there's another miracle just around the corner!
With all my love,