Well another week has gone by and honestly I don't even know what we did this week. It's not that I don't remember, like sometimes happens, but more that I don't know if what we did this week did much. Last night it was getting close to time to report in our numbers for the week and we weren't quite home yet so we stopped and quickly counted them up. This has happened to me a lot on my mission; you go to count up numbers, feeling a little embarrassed and disappointing, then once you count everything up you realize that your week was a lot more productive and useful than you thought. Sometimes numbers are depressing, other times they are a boost. This week they were a boost, which I am extremely grateful for. Sometimes it is the small miracles that I am most grateful for...and this was one of them.
I loved what dad talked about in his letter to me this week about treasuring up those instances when people accept our message, or listen for even just a minute. It reminded me of something Nicole wrote me when I was in Qishan, that some days are so hard that you don't know what you are doing out here, other days are full of miracles, and thank goodness for those miracle days because they make the hard days worth it. It is so true! The rejection rate is high, but it makes the acceptance rate so much more precious!
Speaking of hard days and miracles we had a day that fell into both categories this week. This week we tried our best and worked really hard, but as usual we didn't end up accomplishing what we had planned to do. But despite other days not going quite as planned we ended up getting an awesome plan set up for Saturday. We had several lessons, a few with members set up to help us out, and a meeting with a new family to teach later that night. Then....you guessed it...a few hours after we woke up the phone started ringing and over the next couple hours almost every single appointment canceled. Thus goes the life of a missionary. So we ended up spending most of the day calling people or contacting, trying to do something productive. Then after dinner and our extra half hour of language study (because Sister Murdock is training we get an hour and a half, which is really great) we headed out to go tract before we needed to head in for the night. I told Sister Murdock that we were going to find a place to tract and that she was going to take us there.
We walked out and started getting our bikes ready for take-off...really that's how it feels at night. With all the lights, locks, bike reflectors, helmet, and reflective gear it feels like I'm getting the Enterprise prepped for take-off sometimes. If only we could bike as fast as warp-speed...
Anyway, we got our bikes prepped and this lady walks up to us on her own. I'm thinking she is our miracle for the night, but she just keeps talking to us about all the presidents of America and keeps getting distracted every couple of minutes. Sister Murdock is standing off to the side almost completely oblivious to what this lady is saying and I'm desperately trying to get a word in about the gospel and give her our church address. This crazy fiasco goes on for about ten-fifteen minutes then this lady randomly stops talking and walks away like we weren't even there.
Not thinking much about this, besides that it was a little weird, we rode off and Sister Murdock led us to a street to tract a little bit. We start walking down this street and I am determined to talk to everyone that we see because there had to be a reason all our plans fell through. We talked to this lady outside cleaning the front of her building. She said we could come back and share more, but didn't sound pretty committed. I wrote her down anyway and we started walking down the street to see if we could find the number of that building, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally decided to talk to two girls who had just walked out of the same building and ask them. I got the number from them and started sharing about the gospel and asked if we could find time to share more with them. They nodded their heads, but didn't say anything. I asked if we could get their numbers and they just stared at me. I think I asked them four or five times until one of the girls said they could just come find us if they wanted to hear more. Yea.... that's code for I don't want to listen, but I'm too embarrassed to just tell you. I invited them to church and Sister Murdock and I headed back to our bikes to head back to the church to call more people.
As we were once again gearing up our bikes The other girl comes running down the street and asked me where to go and when if she has time for church. I told her where and she started talking about how she has gone to Christian churches before and even has a bible. Luckily I had a Book of Mormon in my bike box, so I told her a little bit and told her that the Book of Mormon has helped me so much. To that she replied, "Oh, I need that." and excitedly took the book. She ended up not being able to come to church, but we got her number and hope that we can continue sharing with her about the Book of Mormon.
It definitely was a huge miracle. The rest of the day didn't matter because we met her. We were talking about it after and realized that if our plans hadn't fallen through, if that crazy lady hadn't stopped us, and if she didn't randomly walk away, if we hadn't talked to that lady cleaning and needed to get the number of the building we would have never run into this girl. We would have never known that miracle was waiting for us. After she walked away Sister Murdock turned to me and asked, "Did that just happen?" Its funny because that still what I feel like after every occurrence like this. Every time someone gives me their number, agrees to learn more, or accepts a Book of Mormon that thought still runs through my mind. Maybe it is a bad thing, but it makes me so much more aware of the hand of the Lord. He is the one really guiding this work. We just get to stand back and be amazed.
We were also able to had two new investigators come to church this week. They are our english students who requested Books of Mormon after our spiritual share. (Yes we still teach english. Every area, every wednesday.) They loved it and we have a lesson set up for later this week to share with them. They have both been reading, but don't quite understand. Hopefully we can help with that.
Dad asked if any of our referrals have turned into investigators. Unfortunately not yet, but we are still trying.
Training is good. Sometimes it is hard, because you have to pick up the slack for everything your companion can't quite do yet, but Sister Murdock is doing great! I know I wrote about it last week, but it is really cool to see how fast she is adjusting and how fast her Chinese is improving. The gift of tongues is real! I remember hearing my trainer tell me the same thing, but never believed her. Now it is kind of fun to be on the other side and see it for myself. I was actually telling her this morning that I don't even know where I learned most of my Chinese from. There are some things I could tell you exactly what book or study guide, or person I leaned it from, but for the most part I have no clue. It just came, its still coming. It will never get perfect, but at least we have a whole lifetime and beyond to keep learning.
I actually did have one of our investigators tell me when she answered the phone she thought it was a Taiwanese person who was calling and was a little surprised it was me. I'm not sure how true that is, voices get altered over the phone...haha, but it made me feel a lot better. But that also means I have an accent, dang.
It was so good to hear from everybody and how your week went. Happy Birthday Nicole!! Sorry I forgot to say that last week. We walked out of the internet cafe and I realized I had forgot. Anyway, it sounds like it was pretty relaxed, but fun nonetheless. I'm glad Jemma is doing so well and that she is loving school. I knew she would. She is such a smart kid. I loved the restaurant drawing as well as the pictures! So fun!
It sounds like Jemma is going to have to teach me how to use technology when I get home. Seriously, I'm regressing. It's sad. Maybe someday when our mission gets the i-pads they've been talking about for years there will be some hope for me. Haha.
Oh do you remember the Lin Jiemei from Qishan? She was a member referral and was super golden! She got baptized a few weeks ago! So exciting. Apparently she is helping her kids take the missionary discussions as well and they are getting ready to get baptized! Miracles, every day.
Well, that's about all I've got for now. I'm sure as soon as I walk out of this cafe I will remember more stories I could have told, but this will have to do.
I love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers, letters, emails...everything. I couldn't do this without you!
Remember there's another miracle just around the corner!
With all my love,
Oh, one last story...I thought you might like this one. The other day while we were at a member's house I went to go put my shoes on after our lesson only to find someone else trying to use my shoe. I put my foot in, felt something weird, took it out and watched a cockroach the size of a small Snickers candy bar run out and down the hall. It was disgusting. But I think I was just so tired I didn't even think to react much. So, if you ever come to Taiwan check your shoes before you put them on.