My dearest family,
I hope this week was a good one and that you are all getting ready for Jemma's birthday party! I can't believe that she is already almost five. I remember being home for her party and preparing to come to Taiwan. It still amazes me that I have almost been out for a year, and that I've been on island for almost ten months. I remember training and telling everyone that I had been in Taiwan for a month or two. Time flies when you're having fun right?
Anyway, the pinata looks great and I'm sure it will be a blast! I think it is really fun that you get to have a birthday party with family. It will be so much fun to share that special day with those that we love the most. The Wild Kratts theme should be really fun. Nicole said she was a little proud of Jemma for wanting a Wild Kratts party, and I have to admit that I was the same way. Haha. I can't wait to hear about it and see the pictures.
I was also glad to hear that my package got there in time. I was a little nervous, but it only took a few weeks! I hope she likes it, someone gave it to me at a night market while we were contacting.
This week was insanely busy! When I got to this area Sister Schultz told me that we would probably be moving apartments sometime this move call because our apartment didn't have a doorman so they were concerned about sisters staying in that complex. Apparently the sisters before us had their bikes stolen several times. (Which is why we take them up the elevator every night.) Anyway, we ended up moving sooner than later, and moved out on Friday! They couldn't find a new apartment in the church's budget, so they decided to switch us with the zone leaders (who live just down the street).
We spent most of the day last Monday packing and cleaning up our apartment. Luckily I knew we were going to move, so I didn't unpack. Friday morning the office elders came by and loaded up all our stuff into the van and drove it to the elder's, unloaded, and did the same for the elders. We helped them load everything up, but had to leave to do our language assessment (which I'll talk about later) so we didn't unload and go look at our apartment.
So when we went home for the night we got our first look at our new apartment. We walked in and it was pretty cluttered with a lot of stuff like records, tracts, Liahonas etc. Sister Schultz was freaking out a little because it was so dirty. I was trying to be positive and was thinking it wasn't that bad, but I was wrong. The deeper we got, the more gross it was. The kitchen was super dirty, the doors and walls were brown from oil and grease, the floor hadn't been mopped in weeks, and by bathtub was grey from dirt. It was disgusting! So basically we have spent our exercise time in the morning and any extra time after planning cleaning our apartment and going through all the stuff they left. We are probably going to spend a lot of today cleaning as well, but the apartment is slowly getting better and feels a lot more livable.
It was interesting, the day after we moved in I just felt weird. I didn't know what it was, but I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad, but I wasn't happy either. I tried my best to shake it, but it wasn't until we got out the door and on the streets that I felt normal again. A little later on we were sitting at a young women's activity and talking to one of our RCs who was there to support them. We told her about how gross the apartment was and she commented that it was probably a lot harder to feel the spirit. As soon as she said that I knew that's why I felt so weird that morning. I was so distracted by the mess, that I couldn't feel the spirit. The prophets always tell us the spirit cannot dwell in unclean places, and this week I definitely learned from experience that this is true. When our homes and even just our surroundings are clean we are more receptive to the spirit. I know we can feel it anywhere, as long as we are worthy, but cleanliness helps a lot. Even cleanliness in regards to the things, the music, the movies, the friends that we surround ourselves with...it all makes a difference. It all affects our ability and sensitivity to the spirit. So let us all be more aware of our surroundings, physically and mentally and strive to make them conducive to helping us feel the spirit.
Moral of the story...make your surroundings a place where the spirit can dwell... and...elders are gross, and need to learn how to clean.
We also spent several hours this week helping one of our members move into their new apartment. Its more like a room with a bathroom connected to it. She and her husband (who is the elder's investigator) and their baby are moving into this apartment because it is cheaper and they will be able to save up better. But I guess they had a lot of stuff stored and they got infested with white ants, so we've been helping go through all the stuff and clean off what we could save and store them in new boxes. So to say the least, I've had my fill of cleaning and dirt this week. But we were really glad we could help her, and when the elders were helping too they were able to add a few people in her building to go back and teach them about the gospel. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Aside from that we had a really hard week. Day after day we hardly had any lessons or new investigators, or even phone numbers to show for our efforts. We were extremely busy every day, but we weren't seeing the results in our numbers. Sister Schultz and I talked about it several times and the only conclusion we could come to is that it's the Lord's will for this area right now. It's hard when you feel more unified with your companion, happier, closer to God, and more motivated in your purpose than ever before and the work seems even harder and slower than it was before.
We had a hard week with little improvement and not much success, but we know that we are doing all we can to further this work. We know that it is no lack of effort on our part, so we are going to go out this week and work our hardest. I know that if we do our best and we continue to have faith in the Lord He will give us the experiences, the miracles, the trials that we need to become the missionaries (and the people) He wants us to become. All we can do is trust in God and He will lead us where we need to be.
I almost forgot! We were able to see Alexis again and give her a Book of Mormon. We are trying to arrange a meeting with the sister missionaries in her area, so we can smoothly transition her over to meeting with them. But a few days after we gave her the book she texted us and told us she had been reading a few pages every night and would continue to do so. She came to church this Sunday and is excited to learn more! I'm continually amazed at how open she is to the spirit and to the gospel. She really is a prepared soul.
As far as our other investigators go Zou Jiemei came to to church again for the full three hours! She walked in Sunday morning and very enthusiastically told me she wasn't tired, so she could come to church! We told her it was God's help and she emphatically agreed. She was completely alert for the whole time too, which is incredible because I struggle every week. ;) The Young Women we are meeting with is incredible as well! She continues to soak everything up and loves reading the scriptures. We still need to find a time when her mom will be home that we can go talk to her. (We tried the other day and she wan't there.) But I know that someday Yi Jun will get baptized. We met with a few other people that are struggling with faith that we are working with and a few really great potentials (or so I hear) that we are still trying to get a hold of, so we are hopeful for a lot of miracles in the future weeks.
Well I'm almost out of time! I love you all and I love this gospel. I want you all to know that even though times get hard I know that Heavenly Father is always there for us. He knows what we need when we need it, and He will always look out for us. We just have to be willing to ask for His help, and trust in His timing and in His method. I know this gospel is true. I know it changes lives. It has changed mine, and continues to change me every day. How great to know that with God and Christ's help we can only more forward!
There's another miracle just around the corner!
With all my love,