Hello Everyone! Long time no see, eh? 好久不見! Even though it has been only 5 days since I last emailed, I have some fun stories to share!
After temple day we went with the APs, zone leaders, Beitou STLs, and the temple sisters to explore the gondolas by the Taipei zoo. It was so much fun. Basically we just took a ton of pictures and goofed off (in Mandarin goofing off is 摸魚 which means to stroke a fish. Haha!) Taipei is absolutely gorgeous. Today we’re planning on going to COSTCO and then play volleyball.
Questions from Mom
- Do you like the big city or would you rather be out farther from Taipei?
So far I’ve LOVED both of my areas on the mission. One thing I really love about Taipei compared to Zhubei is that generally it’s a lot easier to do missionary work–because there’s so many more people! But honestly both places are fun for different reasons. One thing that can be done in any area no matter what your circumstances are is…fall in love with the people. To become family with the members. To appreciate the culture. Being a missionary really close to the mission office has its perks of course–it’s pretty fun being buddies with the office elders, senior couples, and President’s family. But the missionaries in farther away places get really close to each other as they serve alongside each other too. Honestly it’s fun everywhere. Missions are just dandy.
2. Since you transferred it seems like you go to more places on P-day, Why is that?
Generally there is just way more to do/more to see in Taipei and a lot more missionaries willing to go out and do stuff. Also since Sister Apsley was sick for most of training I think we would just try to take it slow on P-Day. But I’ve also noticed that most missionaries in Taipei feel more of an obligation to do stuff since we’re so close to all the sights. But in the end I honestly think it depends on who you’re companions with and how stressful your week was.
3. What’s the best/worst thing you have eaten this week?
On Saturday during our service project (which I’ll talk about more in a minute) they fed us rice balls with stewed eggs and shredded pork floss in them. Ehhhh, it wasn’t my favorite. That’s probably the only exceptional thing I’ve eaten this week. Oh, I did have really good curry soup at this Vietnamese restaurant.
Gearing Up for Chinese New Year
Our mission is currently doing tons of interesting stuff to prepare for Chinese New Year, when literally everyone leaves Taipei, mostly for places in the Taizhong mission boundaries. (Let’s just say we’re hoping for a ton of referrals from Gaoxiong in the next couple weeks haha.)
The church must really plan their Worldwide Mission Conferences in consideration of missionaries’ schedules because we’re going to have a huge training for it on Chinese New Year’s Eve this week. Which should give us something to do haha. The mission is also going to have us all spend 6 hours deep cleaning our apartments on Saturday and then they’ll inspect them in the coming weeks. Right now in Taiwan lots of people are doing cleaning in preparation for the Lunar New Year because it’s a tradition! So that’s pretty cool.
Luckily both of my companions, plus most of the people in my zone really like to exercise so most mornings we do some sort of work out. It doesn’t help that lots of the elders will be going home this summer so they’re currently working on an unofficial missionary program they like to call…6 Months to Sexy. So i’m currently being roped into being HEALTHY. Oh Gosh. Don’t worry I’m actually having tons of fun. 🙂
The French Lady
On Saturday before our service project we had a lesson with a French lady we met on the streets a few weeks ago. Turns out she is most likely nuts as she went off about how missionaries are living in their own fantasy world trying to tell everyone about the gospel, how they should feed everyone wine and crackers at church activities and how she’s not racist but she wants to get mad at lots of Taiwanese women for all kinds of things…. Well in the end she at least accepted a Book of Mormon in French and luckily the APs are over the English ward here so they’ll get to see what we can do with her from here on out.
Feeding the Homeless…Kind Of
Our Saturday service project was the funniest/craziest moment of the entire week. Also probably of my entire mission. I’ll explain why.
Earlier in the week we got told that the central zone does a yearly service project to FEED THE HOMELESS and so we scheduled it out on our planners from 3:00 to 8:00. We were all expecting the activity to be…y’know…feeding the homeless. I was pretty excited but none of us had any idea what to expect.
So we took the MRT to the Wan Da missionaries’ area, put on these cool LDS Helping Hands vests and walked over to this big area across the street from where the President of Taiwan lives! They had all of these gigantic tents set up and quickly put us to work setting up tables in them. The entire area had enough room for 2200 tables but I think we set up about 700 in the time . We put tablecloths, candy, seeds, and soda on them. We were working alongside members from all around Taipei, a couple investigators we had invited, and other Taiwanese people.
Apparently the government of Taiwan does this project to feed the homeless once every year–so it was cool that we got to be involved in it, but we got told after a few hours that the homeless wouldn’t actually be coming to get fed until the NEXT day. So we just got to set up all the tables and chairs for them.
But as we were setting everything up they had these big loudspeakers in every tent that they were playing music from. At first it was this one really annoying one-measure-loop song that sounded like it came out of a computer’s free electronic music application. But then in the last couple hours of the service project they started playing random pop music and our trunky elders started getting a little antsy. And then…all of a sudden…SCREAMO MUSIC.
[Editor’s Note: Screamo music is apparently really hard rock/punk where the lyrics are shouted instead of sung…]
It was the funniest moment of my entire life. They started playing screamo music through the speakers. And the next thing I know I look over to see some of the elders going crazy, pretending to rock out to the screamo music. Honestly I was laughing so hard. It was so weird to have this music just blaring through our ears after we’ve all taken so many steps to try and avoid “worldly” things.You could tell Elder Kirschner was trying SO dang hard to keep cool and he did a really good job at it, although we may have seen him bust a move or two. And then the office Elders (who are probably the chillest people I know) just kept settin’ up tables like there wasn’t even any screamo music drowning out the sounds of our own voices.
It honestly felt like we were some random youth group doing a service project for mutual instead of Elders and Sisters (mostly because of our circumstances, don’t worry. For the most part we kept the spirit of missionary work with us haha.)
Needless to say by the time 8:00 arrived we were all pretty pooped and walked away from the tables we had set up, hearing the sound of a “congratulations, get rich” song exploding from the speakers. I hope the homeless enjoyed their New Years’ meal.
We taught Tina with Sister Vatcher on Thursday and Sister Vatcher shared a really powerful testimony about her conversion to the gospel and how it was a leap of faith. It was really a groundbreaking lesson because Tina had still been going to another church. But at the end of the lesson she was able to identify that the feeling of the spirit at this church can’t be found anywhere else. She also understood the importance of coming to church EVERY week!
But then we found out that for the weekend she had scheduled a tour around the island and WOULDN’T be able to make it to church. We were kind of devastated. So we were just sitting in relief society for the Xinan ward on Sunday when we suddenly got a call from one of the APs (who are over the English ward) telling us that Tina CAME!
Yes, that’s right! Her testimony took precedence over the trip she had already paid for and she decided to come to church. It was such a shock but we were so happy she came. It is just so cool to see people being truly converted–I know that it is not us missionaries who do the converting. We lead people to be able to feel the spirit and then the spirit of God converts them.
So after Relief Society we got to go on THREE-WAY SPLITS with the members of two different wards! Sister Armstrong went to go to the English ward with Tina, Sister Langley had to go to the Xinan ward’s council meeting and I got to help out the Xinan ward choir practice because their pianist was home not feeling well.
Now that’s what I call a good Sunday!
Chinese Character of the Week
I didn’t really think about a good Chinese Character for this week, but I’ll just say that I know working hard and listening to the spirit is so vital in being a missionary and in being a successful person. It’s so amazing to see missionaries turn from immature high school students into adults. And it’s so weird to see some of these changes in myself.
If there’s anyone reading it who thinks they might want to serve a mission, I would encourage you: DO IT! It will change your life. You will develop a spiritual foundation and understanding that will get you through any mishap, ANY life circumstance. The testimony you develop is priceless, not even comparable to having riches or honor.
The knowledge that we have of the Plan of Salvation and of our nature as God’s children is truly immeasurable. We constantly meet people on the streets who have no knowledge or thought of this identity, but we know that this knowledge should shape everything we say, feel, and do. It’s so important to always remember how this knowledge is inseparably intertwined with our purpose in this life.
I love you all!
Sister Anne Watson