I loved your emails this week! It looks like Jemma's fort is a blast and that Dad did a great job on it. Playing in the sprinklers looked like fun (and the picture was so cool!), and Jemma's collection is pretty fun. It sounds like you are all happy.
So dad was confused about relationships of some of the people I talk about. Sorry for not being very clear. Huang Dixiong and Cai Jiemei are married. Here the wives don't take on their husband's last name unless they are members of the church. Huang Jiemei is a completely different investigator.
To answer your other questions we haven't made a card or sent it to President yet. I think we should though. He'd get a kick out of it. As far as the language is going, its not what I worry about the most anymore, but it is always a trial. I'm pretty comfortable in my speaking ability now, but I think Chinese is going to be a lifelong endeavor. Lately I've been focusing more on learning characters to try and learn how to read better, because I'm pretty much illiterate when it comes to reading. That's one thing about chinese, you can learn how to say a word and what it means, but reading it has no relationship to how its pronounced like english. Anyway, its an eternal process, but for the most part I don't have to worry about it that much.
As for this week, it was rough, but we still saw miracles and had some good times together. On Monday we decided to put the song to the test and "put the lime in the coconut." I don't know how the idea started, I think it was Sister Anderson who mentioned it. It was probably the most entertaining 30 minutes I've had in a long time. Maybe we need different kinds of coconuts, but it didn't taste very good. You could taste the lime more than anything else.
Later on that evening we held an FHE at one of our member's houses and were able to have an investigator come. She is one of the sisters that was referred by one of the families in our ward. She is incredible and just like our other referral (from the same family) she is looking for the truth and hasn't been able to find it in the other churches she's gone to. But because of going to so many other churches she has a lot of questions that we're going to have to address. It's going to take her longer to be ready to accept baptism, but I have no doubt that she will someday. She actually doesn't live in our area, but wants to come to our church in Qishan. She didn't want us to refer her to the other missionaries. We asked President Blickenstaff about it and he wants us to try. We're a little sad about not being able to teach her anymore, but we hope we can help her still be willing to meet with the sisters in her area.
As far as the rest of our investigators go, they're still hanging in there, but not a ton of progress at the moment. We are continuing to try and help them receive their own testimony and have those spiritual experiences that will develop their faith. Cai Jiemei actually came to the third hour of church yesterday! But to our disappointment the third hour was combined and we ended up just listening to the members plan a ward activity and talk about a missionary farewell. I felt really bad, she was really confused and looked really bored. (We weren't able to sit next to her because all the seats got taken.) Oh well, we are praying really hard that that didn't turn her off of coming to church. We were really excited to see her.
We also had another unexpected person show up at church yesterday. There was a couple that we contacted a couple of weeks ago that gave us their number and said we could go visit them. We've called, but they would never answer. The brother actually hangs out with a bunch of people every morning at the track we run at and has talked to us a few times telling us he couldn't find the church, or that he was going to come to church on Sunday. Incredibly he actually came! We were sitting in sacrament meeting when a member came up behind us and told us someone was waiting outside for us. We went out and found him sitting on the couch waiting for us. He seemed a little worried about his clothes being too sloppy and worriedly asked us if people would laugh at him. We assured him they wouldn't and invited him in. He stayed for most of sacrament meeting then told us he had to leave and walked out. Then about half way through our gospel principles class he showed back up at the church and walked into the class wearing cleaner, nicer clothes and newly combed hair. It was cute. He actually left to get better dressed then came back for more of church. Hopefully we can get a hold of them and visit them both. It his wife doesn't meet with us we'll have to have the elders teach him.
A few days ago we traveled out to one of our farther areas (I hadn't been there before this week) to meet with someone the elders contacted a few weeks ago on the street. They told us she was a little crazy, but that we could still try. We ended up sitting with her briefly and she is a little bit crazy, but willing to learn. She told us she was like she is because her brain was taken out and put back in her head a month later. The real story (which we got from her mom) is that she fell and hit her head which caused complications. Her mom isn't too excited about the idea that if her daughter accepts our religion she won't be able to worship their ancestors, but is willing to let us teach her and help her become a better person.
The rest of our week we were able to meet with some members which was great! I was able to get to know some members I didn't know very well. I love hearing their stories and their testimonies. Because missionaries have only been in Taiwan for about 50 years most everyone is a first generation convert. Their stories are incredible and I respect their faith and their strength in the gospel so much.
The past couple of days we have had a couple of miracles that have boosted our spirits a lot. We've been trying to find new investigators like crazy and nothing has seemed to happen. Saturday night we ended up not being able to visit an investigator as planned, so we decided to try contacting at the night market here in Qishan. There ended up not being very many people and everyone we talked to seemed especially rude. By the time we decided to go back to our bikes we were both ready to cry. As we started biking off I thought that we should tract the houses along that street. I've thought that before when we were in that area, but we had an appointment so I figured we could go back later. This time we had nothing else to do, so we stopped and tracted.
The second door we knocked on ended up being a former investigator from thirty years ago. She let us in and we were able to get to know her and her niece and nephew who happened to be there. She was really nice and we taught again about prayer. We aren't sure if she is super interested, but we are going to try and go back and see if she will be willing to listen again. At the least it boosted our spirits for the night.
Then last night we were riding to where we planned to tract at the end of our day when Sister Anderson asked me if I had tracted the street we were riding by before. She said she thought we should tract it sometime, so we decided to change our plans and tract it then. A few houses down the street we tracted into this lady who told us that she didn't really have any time. Most the time that's just an excuse, but I still asked her if there was a more convenient time we could come back. She glanced at her calendar and told us we could come back tonight at. We were more than happy to agree and will see what happens tonight.
I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed us to see these small miracles. Our faith has been a little low and we've been really discouraged, but He has lifted us up and has helped us see His hand helping us in this work. I can't wait to see what miracles are in store this week.
I don't have a lot of time left, but I love you all and am so happy you are all doing so well. I'm grateful I've had the opportunity to serve here in Qishan. This area has taught me so much and I know I needed it to become the missionary the Lord wants me to become. The work is hard sometimes, but it was never meant to be easy. It's the hard things that build us the most. I'm grateful for all I've learned and for how blessed I have been.
I know the Lord loves us. I know Heavenly Father loves us. They will never leave us alone.
They will always provide another miracle just around the corner.
With all my love,