A ton of stuff has happened this week. Where to begin?
We’re beginning to see a lot of success here in zhubei. The work has been extremely slow for the area this entire year but we’re thinking by the end of this transfer there will be a ton of baptisms! Sister Apsley and I have been meeting with a lot more investigators. The elders in our ward have had so many appointments they had to go on splits this Sunday, which rarely happens. This success is part of the reason for the title of my email, but it will be explained more in a little bit….
Monday night we met with an investigator named Ruby for the first time–she’s a referral from the STLs and has already been taught most of the lessons. She is so solid–we asked her what her favorite scripture was and she turned to 2 Nephi 15 which is one of the Isaiah chapters about gathering scattered Israel. She is SO solid and we are hoping that she will get baptized on December 24th! We just need to make sure we can teach everything and that she’ll come to church at least 2 more times.
Chen mom has been coming to church! She wants to get baptized so bad and we finally scheduled to meet with her this Wednesday before English class. As long as we can find time to teach her as well, we have no doubt we will be able to schedule another baptismal date with her.
Last Sunday a girl named Rimon came to church–we found out that the elders contacted her Mom, who then referred her daughter. We scheduled to meet with her for the first time this coming Saturday. She is attending the 2nd ward (which overlaps our own) so we didn’t get to go to church with her yesterday but last night we got a cool call from one of the counselors in the bishopbric. He said, “You’re teaching Rimon right? She’s GOLDEN. Today in Young Women’s she said she wanted to serve a mission. She wants to be a missionary!” We are so excited to teach her and maybe her mother as well.
Then on Wednesday this lady came to English class–whenever someone new comes to English class they fill out this little paper and they can check a box that says “I would love to learn more about how the teachings of Jesus Christ can help my life.” And she checked it off! We had just a little bit of time to talk to her after English class and she was like “yeah I’m totally interested” so we invited her to church. Wednesday was a pretty crazy day so by the time Sunday rolled around we’d forgotten that we had invited her but she showed up! For all 3 hours! And she loved it! And we set up to meet with her this Thursday.
I have a lot of faith in all these people! There will probably be a ton of cool lessons in the coming weeks. On Tuesday last week we also got a million referrals from Abish in our ward. She is the most on-fire member missionary I have ever met. She set up to meet with us and the elders, and as we were sitting down in a room in the chapel she cracked out all these sticky notes with just tons of names on them. She shares the gospel with literally anyone she meets and just cares so much about all of them, wants them to receive eternal blessings! She is also really good at calling us and wanting to coordinate with us.
Taipei Day…Round Ten Million
On Wednesday, Sister Apsley had her second appointment at the doctor’s office in Taipei. This time Sister Vatcher, the mission nurse, scheduled an appointment for another sister missionary on the same day so…we got to go on splits! Sister Vatcher, Sister Apsley, and Sister Barber went to the hospital in Taipei and I got to be companions with Sister Sylvester for a good portion of the day! She is so cool. She is from Las Vegas, Nevada and went to BYU as well. She even stayed in David John Hall her freshman year! Her dad is American and her mom is Taiwanese, and she’s been out in the mission for 15 months or something. It was super cool, I was glad I got to learn so much from such an experienced missionary. After our companions left, President told us he wanted us to go out finding in the area around the temple/jin hua chapel! Sister Sylvester was a little bit disappointed because she’d heard stories from Sister Barber (who’s been to the hosptial in Taipei quite a lot) about how her companions had gotten to do service in the mission office or even go to the temple. But I know that we needed to go out because we ended up seeing so many cool miracles!
As we were walking around having fun, talking to each other and to everyone that would stop to talk to us, I realized: I LOVE TAIPEI! I LOVED going street contacting in the big city. When we first got to Taipei I thought “it’s probably completely pointless to go contacting around here–I bet everyone around the temple has been contacted by missionaries like a million times.” but I learned that that’s not the case at ALL. We were able to invite people to do temple tours–the jin hua chapel has tons of fun Christmas activities and we were able to use the fliers for them effectively. Lots of people seemed pretty interested the live nativity they’re doing in a couple weeks.
But anyways…as me and Sister Sylvester were out we made a goal to get one person to go on a chapel tour right then. We’d just finished a quick break at the mission office and we were walking around right behind the chapel when we saw this younger guy getting on his bike and decided to talk to him. We found out that his name was Michael and he was an exchange student from China getting his master’s degree. And we pointed out the chapel to him and he said he thought it was a school! But we quickly got talking about religion and he said he had lots of Christian friends in China, but he’d never been super interested in learning more about God but then he told us “I just want to learn more about God and how he can help my life–man, I just want you guys to teach me!” So we found out where he lived (so we could refer him to some elders) and invited him to take a temple tour another time. But he was like “do you think we could just do a temple tour now?” And of course we were like OH HECK YES so we walked into the meetinghouse where Sister Armstrong and Sister Rhynard (who was my MTC companion) were the sisters doing tours for the day. We accompanied their tour and we first walked into the chapel of the meetinghouse. Right as we walked in, the Holy Spirit was so strong–you could just feel something special. It was almost palpable. And as we sat down, Sister Armstrong asked him “Michael, what feelings do you have right now in this chapel?” And he told us how lots of his friends had tried to get him to go to church in the past but he hadn’t felt anything, but he said “right now I feel something so special. This is different from all the other churches I’ve been to. I just want to learn more.” It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed. It was hard not to get emotional!
The jin hua chapel has this gallery of paintings of the life of Jesus Christ so we took him around all the paintings and talked about the life of Jesus Christ–his miracles, his death, his resurrection, the atonement, and we ended talking about baptism and invited him to get baptized–and he said yes! This was such a cool temple tour that me and Sister Sylvester had to ignore 3 calls from president (but don’t worry, we called him right afterwards. Haha.)
Sister Apsley didn’t get back to the mission office until 6:00 PM and we didn’t get back to Zhubei until 8:00 PM so we missed English class, sadly. But luckily on the train we met this cool lady who lived in our area who committed to come to English class the next week!
We also had to take home some Christmas packages for the elders in our district. There were two gigantic ones and one small one–it’s a miracle that we got them home haha. At least our gigantic packages made people on the train pity us enough to give us seats. It also made people a lot more willing to get out of our way. 😉
On Thursday I biked up Xinfeng hill for the first time ever. Xinfeng hill is the gnarliest hill in our zone, possibly in the entire mission. In the words of Elder Anderson, our old district leader– “If you throw up, keep biking!”
This is the hill that makes grown missionaries cry. And we made it up since we had an appointment up there that day! We just took it really slow and had to take a few breaks haha. Right before we went up we went to the store and bought gigantic water bottles and boy did we need them.
I Got Chased by my First Dog!
So Taiwan actually has a decent amount of stray dogs. There are also a ton of people that own dogs of all shapes and sizes and they will take them literally EVERYWHERE. So on Sunday night, before we went English boarding at the night market me and Sister Apsley decided to go and check it out to see if there were lots of people there. Sister Apsley turned down this side road thinking it would be a short cut but it was just a dead end of a few houses. So as we were turning around to go back onto the main road this big dog popped out of NOWHERE and started barking so loud and CHASING us. Oh boy did we bounce out! It freaked us out. It was even more freaky for me since I was following so I was in the back.
Later that night we had some time to go knocking, but as we got into the neighborhood we kept getting a bunch of phone calls so we were standing around on our bikes answering the calls. But we had to move from place to place because we kept parking in front of places with LOUD, SCARY DOGS! I have never been scared of dogs my entire life. I love dogs. But Sister Apsley is scared of them and being chased by that one dog kind of freaked me out for the rest of the night.
CHINESE CHARACTER OF THE WEEK
因為 this means “because.” Yes, that is all it means. First of all, it’s really fun to write. Second of all, we often pass around 因為他 cards which means “because of him” and these cards have a qr code to a video about Jesus Christ. Because so much good in this world is because of Him and through Him! And that’s the entire focus of the Christmas season so that’s pretty cool.