I was so glad to get your emails and read about how you are doing. It sounds like you've been having a lot of fun lately. Everything seemed so simple, but I think its the simple things that mean the most.
I forgot to tell Dad happy Father's Day last week! I hope it was a good day and that you felt loved and appreciated (which you should everyday). I love you so much and am so grateful for everything you do for all of us. I honestly couldn't have asked for better parents or a better family. I am grateful for you everyday.
This week has been a little rough. We spent a lot of our time traveling so we ended up with very little lessons, but we were able to learn a lot and know what we can do to become better missionaries.
On Monday Sister Anderson and I went and took pictures with one of our RCs. For the past month I've had this vision of the pictures that we could take. We bike around rice fields all day and lately they have all been being harvested. (Just so you know Farmville is correct. Rice is an extremely fast growing crop. A field could be harvested one week and then two weeks later there's about six or seven inches of growth again. It amazes me every time, and popular to common belief they are not completely flooded with water all of the time.) Anyway, so the rice fields have been ready to harvest and I remember Dad telling me about when he was on his mission and ran across a wheat field that had been half harvested and they took pictures in front of both sides. So I told Sister Anderson and we decided we wanted to try and replicate that, just the Asian version. As you can tell by the pictures we went to the local dongxi store (pretty much an everything store) and bought sickles. We had planned on doing it after we went to FoGuanShan the other week, but it started raining. We told our RC and one of our members about what we wanted to do and they thought it was hilarious so they were gracious enough to help us out. We were both pretty proud at the outcome. We think we should make a card and send it to President Blickenstaff with the scripture from D&C 4 at the bottom. "For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation unto his soul."
Anyway, we were able to meet with one of our member referrals earlier this week and she is incredible! She technically doesn't live in our area, but our chapel is closer than the one in her area. A family in our ward referred her and one other sister to us several weeks ago, but we had never had an opportunity to set up with her until last week. They have both been coming to church for several weeks and have loved it!
So we met with one of the sisters at the church and shared the Restoration video with her and gave her a Book of Mormon. We asked her if she would be willing to be baptized and she immediately said yes! She told us about how she has been going to several other Christian churches, but none of them ever seemed right. She says in ours it just feels....right. She is desperately hoping to find the peace and the fullness of the gospel. She talked about how when she goes to Bai the Buddhist gods she never felt like she knew who she was praying to or what she was asking for. We had an incredible member there with us who was baptized just over two years ago and they both just clicked. Our member testified like crazy and our investigator just poured out her desires. Sister Anderson and I just sat back and watched, putting our two cents in every once in a while. It was so awesome!
Then on Sunday the other sister who was referred by the same family came up to us and set up her own time to meet and hear the missionary lessons! These two are incredible and I truly believe that they will be baptized. I'm praying that nothing happens along the road, because right now they are so golden. I don't know if I will be able to see them through the teaching process (I have a very large possibility of moving in a couple of weeks), but I'm so grateful I've had the privilege of knowing them and getting them started on the road to baptism.
Sunday we were also able to get Cai Jiemei and Huang Dixiong to church! Okay...they came for five minutes, but at least its improvement. We've been calling them like crazy and asking if they were going to come. I guess they went to Gaoxiong that day so they stopped by on their way out. They were able to hear the sacrament hymn and took the bread then left. It was a little ridiculous, but I am just glad we actually got them to the church. Hopefully next week we will be able to have them there for longer. I also called them a few days ago and asked about praying and reading and Cai Jiemei said she had read a little bit! I was so excited! Its been weeks where they have showed no progress and we have considered dropping them. But now there's hope!
Huang Jiemei continues to come to church faithfully every week with her kids. We were a little stumped with what to do with her, because they weren't doing much else and we've taught prayer and the Book of Mormon a million times to them, but the same day I called to follow up with Cai Jiemei I called Huang Jiemei and she said they pray every night as a family!
These are all really small things, but are giant miracles to us. Small progress is more than we had before. A few other miracles we saw this week were:
-Shao Jie passed her temple recommend interview on Sunday. She was so nervous, but was awesome. She even asked the Bishop how she is supposed to magnify her calling! She hopes she can go to the temple in August with the other youth.
-Cai Jiemei (not our investigator, an LA we meet with every week) got a calling and is now going to have to come to church for the full three hours! She counts as a rescued LA now.
-One of the young men in our ward got his mission call this week to.....Provo, Utah! That's the equivalent of us going from Utah to Taiwan. Most Taiwanese missionaries stay in Taiwan. He's super excited and is the first missionary in his family. His parents were practically beaming at church the other day.
We had Zone Conference this Thursday and have had some big changes in how we are going to have to do missionary work. President was really concerned about our whole mission not having very many baptisms or baptismal goals and decided to re-evaluate our rules. I think I told you a couple weeks ago about the numbers we report every week (about our number of RC, LA, and investigator lessons). Well now we are expected to visit three active members a week. President said that was an expectation not a standard to shoot for. If we get zero President will call us personally to see what happened. Then our RC and LA lessons are now required to have an active member present or else we can't count them and report them at the end of the week.
I know this is all probably pretty boring, but we are really nervous about this in Qishan. We struggle enough as it is getting member present investigator lessons. Adding RC, LA and member lessons to that is going to be really hard. I can see the benefits in it and we are trying to have faith and do what our President has asked of us. I guess they tried this out in one of the Taizhong zones and every other aspect of missionary work improved. So we're going to need your prayers. This could either be the best thing that every happened to Qishan as far as member missionary work, or it could completely turn the members against us. We're hoping for the first. :)
Friday we were able to go on exchanges with the Tainan sisters. I stayed in Qishan with Sister Tung again and Sister Anderson finally got to go to Tainan. It was fun working with Sister Tung again. She actually goes home in a couple of weeks, so it was really fun to get to talk to her about her mission, her feelings about going home, and all that she's learned on her mission. We talked a lot about companions and what a difference good companions make. I have been extremely lucky and have had incredible companions that I have loved so much. I've been given some hard areas (Sister Tung told me they are probably the first and third most rural areas sisters can go to in our mission), but because of my companions it has all been bearable. I have loved the time I've had so far! I've learned so much and grown in ways I never thought possible. It really has been the best decision I have ever made to come out here.
That's pretty much the happenings of this week. I got the sheet music from grandma (thanks grandma! I'm sure she'll read this).
I loved what Nicole shared with me about David in her email. Faith really is such a pure attribute. It is full of power greater than we often realize. This morning I was actually able to read Alma chapter 8 again, which is the chapter that got me through my third move-call in Nantou. That chapter isn't focused on as much as others, but it has a special place in my heart now. I love how Alma, after he's rejected in Ammonihah then is told by an angel to go back, immediately obeys and returns to the city. This is a city where he was spit on, laughed at, mocked, and thrown out; but he still went back. He, like David, had such strong faith in the Lord and our Heavenly Father. I love what is says in verse 16, it reads, "And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them." Preach unto them. That's all that we can do. We teach, bear testimony and have faith that the Spirit will touch their hearts and they will be willing to learn more. Alma and David had incredible faith. They did not doubt. I only hope I can come to have a sliver of such faith.
I love you all so much, and am so grateful for your support. I love my mission. I love my family. I love this gospel. I love my Savior.
As always, there is always a miracle just around the corner. Sometimes the Lord pushes us to our limits, but then shows forth His hand in providing miracles...after we have walked forth with faith.
With all my love,