Walking in a Winter Wonderland

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Anne and Sister Apsley

Anne and Sister Apsley

Funny Flashcard Example Sentence of the Week

Box B Card #59

Word: Conscience

Example Sentence: Do you think camels have a conscience?

And with that stirring introduction…

Why hello my dear family and friends!

There is currently no snow in Taiwan, although this past week has gotten pretty cold. I’ve been told that Xinzhu is one of the coldest places to be in Taiwan for winter because of the fierce winds. And oh boy have they been fierce! The other day we bought gloves to wear as we bike so that we don’t freeze too much.

This Christmas season has not been and will not be “normal” by any means but we are sure in the Christmas spirit more than ever here in Taiwan. On Christmas eve the 3 Zhubei wards will be having an activity together and we have been trying to get everyone pumped to invite all their friends! We are hoping for a ton of investigators to come. The wards will also be doing a nativity and there will be lots of singing, food, and fun. Oh man I am so excited. The missionaries will even be in a “foreigners choir” with the 1st ward and then in the Chinese-speaking choir as well. I can read about 1/2 – 3/4 of the characters on the hymns, which is cool.

I have been super-duper impressed seeing the ward prepare for this activity, they have been going all out! They are truly examples of the believers. Most of them come from part-member families, even bishops and counselors. One of our favorite members named Kent has been baptized for less than a year and he is such a good sport, being our ward mission leader and all. He’s also going to be Santa for the ward activity! Haha.

This week will be my last full week of training so it is a possibility I could soon be transferred out of Zhubei. Whether I stay here or not I am glad we have been working hard since the beginning to establish good relationships with the ward and to really take care of BOTH our areas!

Miracles

It’s cool to be able to talk so much about investigators in these emails since it shows how much our area has been progressing in the past 12 weeks. Basically all of first transfer we didn’t have anyone to teach but after having some patience and a lot of faith we have been able to see the area blossom. You can look back to the first few emails since I got here and I barely said anything about investigators…because we didn’t really have any haha.

On Friday we taught the Plan of Salvation to Sister Wan and she loved it. Everything just clicked. She is so excited to get baptized next month and told us that ever since she has started investigating the church her life has improved a ton. Wow. The Spirit works, people! I love teaching the Plan of Salvation because it is so cool to share with others that our Heavenly Father has an eternal plan for each and every one of us.

We also had a first lesson with Xiang Ke Ren last Monday night (10-year-old daughter of a member who just started coming back to church.) Oh man it was so cool. We talked about reading the scriptures and she told us about a scripture she learned in church that she really liked. And we told her that she could begin to read as little as a verse every day and she said, “Just a verse? I want to read a whole chapter every day!” Oh man that was impressive; that’s more than most adult investigators will commit to every week. When we were setting a baptismal date she originally said, “Well I want get baptized on my birthday” (which is in August) but our member, Sister Ni did a great job convincing her to set it for January– “Baptism is like spiritual rebirth so if you get baptized next month you’ll have two birthdays!” We are so excited to keep teaching her.

We are also starting to meet with another investigator named Rimon (pronounced Ramone) and she is great. The Elders contacted her mom on the street and she said, “Oh, my daughter has a ton of interest.” She has already been to church like 4 times and loves young women. She basically already feels like part of the ward, we just need to teach her! She also had a couple of concerns about baptism but we think next lesson she will be solid to set a baptismal date in January. She really loved learning about prophets and how we have a prophet who leads the church today.

Meeting members while out riding our bikes

Meeting members while out riding our bikes

Remember the Chen family I talked about last week? They’re the ones whose family dinner we crashed–the dad saw us biking up Xinfeng hill and then again as we were caroling. We met with their family again this week–we mostly only talked to their 15-year-old daughter about the restoration this time (for many circumstances including but not limited to a talkative member, a rambunctious grandchild, etc.) but she was super interested and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. The dad didn’t walk in until the end but when he came into the house he told us that he had been researching some stuff about our church…

Normally this is a cause of great alarm because we all know of the variety of strange rumors one can find about Mormons on the world wide web…but he said he was super impressed by us and our church and if his daughters could be like us he knew the family would be alright. Wowie, wow wow. Just goes to show how you can be an example for anyone anywhere, no matter what you’re doing–even when you think no one is watching! Like we didn’t think caroling out in the cold and getting a bunch of doors closed in our faces would amount to much but one man saw. And invited us to teach his entire family.

Oh oh oh here’s another story I just remembered. On Wednesday we biked up to Xinfeng for a pass-off lesson with the elders (and we ended up getting stood up but it’s okay) so we decided to take the local train from Xinfeng to Hukou. As we tried to get through the gate we had an issue with our yo-yo cards (that you put money on and then can use on local trains, the high speed rail and Taipei’s subway) and as the ticket dude sorted it out we missed the train so had to wait a few minutes to get on the next one. This really cute, tiny lady sat down next to us on the platform with her 2-year-old daughter and we started up a conversation. She was headed to her home in Hukou and invited us to her house! So we went to her house and shared with her a little message and invited her to English class later that night. She kept giving us so much food! We had no idea what to do with ourselves. I got the impression that she was feeling super lonely at home with no one but her 2 year old daughter for company most of the time because her husband works. But that night she came to English class with her entire family! And we are hoping to see them at church and at the Christmas activity as well. Her name is Sister Liu-liu.

English Class

Oh man we had the funnest time with our advanced class on Wednesday night. We tried to teach them how to write poetry and taught them about rhymes and alliteration. So they made their own version of the “12 days of Christmas” which I have attached a picture of. They…kind of got it haha! It’s fun teaching them how to be creative. This is hard for lots of Taiwanese people in some ways because of the way they are taught in schools. My personal favorite is “1 Reindeer Laying on the Ground”

Teaching alliteration in English class

Teaching alliteration in English class

Questions from Mom

1. Is it cold at all yet? -reference the beginning of the email for the answer

2. What do you usually have for breakfast?

Normally leftovers/fruit that we already have in our apartment. Sometimes we’ll go and get little breads with juice or soy milk. They also have some really good breakfast burger places around here in Zhubei that we’ll go to as well.

3. How is your Chinese? Do you talk in English much other than with your companion?

Haha our district does everything in English. Lots of members will even speak English to us. The Zhubei 1st ward also has a lot of English-speakers since it’s the ward all the foreigners in the area come to so we’ll speak it with them. Don’t worry we still get to speak and practice our Chinese a ton too!

One thing that’s pretty cool is being able to interpret for the English-speaking members of our ward. Sometimes when Abish isn’t around we’ll do it for our friends and there is honestly no better way to improve our Chinese and our English at the same time. You have to be so on top of the game, it’s fun. Just my kind of challenge.

4. What is the grossest food you have eaten this week? The best food this week?

We’ve eaten a lot of dumplings as usual haha! Oh man the dumpling place we usually go to loves us because we eat there so much. And they just barely found out about our purpose as missionaries so now whenever we go in there they’ll start playing CHRISTIAN MUSIC in both English and Chinese. Haha. Oh man. The first time they started playing it there were other people in the restaurant and they were like, “what the heck is going on? What is this?”

We didn’t eat anything too gross but on Sunday we had this Relief Society gift exchange. We made no-bake cookies for everyone, and everyone ate them but you could tell they weren’t huge fans–people in Taiwan don’t really like super sweet things. We got this delicious European chocolate from the event so mmmm that’s been yummy.

Oh and Sister Apsley vows she’s going to make me eat Stinky Tofu this week so I guess I’ll have a story to tell you about that next week. Yuck. I can smell it on the side of the street sometimes and it does not seem pleasant.

5. Any new muscles appearing after all the bike riding you do?

My calves are in pretty good shape if I do say so myself. Heh. I am slowly but surely becoming the master of Xinfeng Hill. Oh and we found out today that the elders who live up in Xinfeng will be moving down to Zhubei so no more racing up the hill at night for them soon. Biking down the hill though is probably the most exhilarating experience I’ve had in my life.

Presents for the Ward Christmas Party

Presents for the Ward Christmas Party

Other Little Tidbits

1. Most of the fruit has gone out of season except oranges. And for some reason people just keep giving us oranges! Our entire district has so many oranges we don’t even know what to do with them.

2. There’s this kid (who I think is in the second ward) and we call him tia wu (dance) kid. He is this pretty chubby kid. But boy can that kid DANCE. He can cartwheel. He can groove. HE CAN DO THE SPLITS. He was just dancing around in the church and we thought it was all fun and games until he went and pulled off the splits right in front of us. Then we knew that he is no joke. Tia wu kid is my hero.

3. The other day we were looking for a potential investigator’s address in an area when I started to get a really bad feeling that we shouldn’t be there. So we sped right out of that neighborhood. It was kind of scary but I know that we are being protected by God here as missionaries.

Chinese Character of the Week

永恆 – yong heng

This means eternal! In my studies and in Taiwan this week I have been super moved thinking about the eternal spirit of Christmas, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and His doctrine. The idea of eternal, loving families is so beautiful and I am so thankful for my family at home and for all the friends I have made that also feel like family. What a valuable experience it is to be leading other people to these truths.

Aaaaand that’s about it! I’m super excited for this coming week. We’ve got a mission party in Taipei on Thursday, lots of “lasts” with Sister Apsley, the multi-ward Christmas party on Saturday, Christmas day on Sunday, and then…SKYPE next Monday! WOWIE wow wow. We’re probably going to go to Taoyuan next P-Day so Sister Apsley can show me the sights so I’m pretty excited for that too. There will probably be some fun pictures next week.

Love,

Sister Anne Watson

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