Life in this random corner in the mission is completely different from anything I have ever experienced on my mission. It’s actually kind of nice to be so far away from the mission home…we don’t have to worry about anything that’s happening with the leadership of the mission because we never hear from them! For zone conferences and interviews we’ll be going to Hualian, so I’ll be nowhere even near Taipei for a long, long, long, long, time.
But this has probably been one of the happiest weeks of my whole mission. Being in this awesome little place where we see a ton of miracles (and I get to be with SISTER BERNHARDT) honestly feels great. It is truly a miracle, a gift from God to be able to feel happy and peaceful from the second you wake up to the second you go to sleep.
Some Fun Facts About Serving in Yuli
- There is apparently one of the biggest mental health institutions in Taiwan here. So some of the people we run into are pretty interesting.
- People also love the drug “bin lang” here, which stains their teeth and lips brown/red and it’s pretty gross. There are all these tall, thin palm trees here which aren’t actually palm trees, they’re actually bin lang trees. And bin lang smells really gross too.
- At 8:30 at night, literally everything in town kind of…dies. So we like to go into 7/11s and do some of our studies or call people in that last hour of the night and we’ll talk to the people that come in and out. We meet lots of cool people out of it!
- About a year ago an elder named Elder Aiono served in Yuli. (He was the AP when I came on the island and went home a month or two ago.) Because we only meet in a rented building (which we live right above!) they either do baptisms out in some beautiful hot springs/a lake, or they have an inflatable font. When Elder Aiono served in Yuli they had a baptism in the inflatable font…and they didn’t keep an eye so it accidentally flooded over or broke and…let’s just say they accidentally “baptized” the internet cafe that used to be on the first floor below the chapel. Yuli doesn’t have an internet cafe anymore.
- Mosquitoes here are KILLER. So we are applying repellent LIBERALLY. They have some big ones that are disgusting and some deadly tiny ones that you can barely see but you can definitely feel it after they bite you!
- Some people who live here reside in very…humble circumstances to say the least. Couple that with the fact that we’re literally always smelling mosquito repellent, animal poop, bin lang or stinky tofu made me joke once: “It’s literally like half the people here are camping!!!!” Including us.
Sister Bernhardt and I definitely feel like we have a very special responsibility as Certified Jungle Explorers, or the CPJs (which can also mean Called-by-God Jesus Explainers if you change the acronym a bit!)
As CPJs we are LITERALLY holding down the fort here in Yuli and it is AWESOME. There is nothing I would rather be doing every day. Even though we can feel a little bit left out from big mission things, we are definitely not lonely because in the past week, me and Sister Bernhardt have become, like, best friends. We LOVE caring for our investigators and the branch and we can talk about everything together as we go about doing the work!
It’s been pretty cool, this week we’ve just been working REALLY hard on following the spirit exactly as we make plans and carry them out, and it has resulted in a ton of miracles!!! We are seriously in awe of all the awesome things that have been happening every day here. When we make good plans, God can place people in our path that we can teach the gospel too–and if needs be He can use the Holy Spirit to help us change our plans to put it in the right place at the right time. But we first have to act in faith, knowing that we can receive.
The Zhong Family
This week we got a FAMILY of new investigators!!!! The Zhong family was found by missionaries through knocking over a year ago and became former investigators for awhile because they became busy/family relationships/missionary and branch drama.
BUT we have been able to get back in contact with them, and on Thursday night we found out from Sister Zhong that her husband was going in to the hospital the next day to get a kidney stone removed (either that or he was in a motorcycle accident and got rocks lodged in his body–you’re never sure when you’re still learning Chinese and you’re trying to communicate through the phone.)
So on Friday morning we met the family at the hospital with the elders. They were going to give brother Zhong a priesthood blessing but he ended up going straight into the operation room. So we just had to sit outside the room for an hour waiting for him. It was great though because we were able to pray for the family with Sister Zhong (which she found moving) and we were able to re-teach her the restoration and explain everything about the Priesthood being restored too! It was super cool because she said “wow, the past missionaries never taught me this part of the Restoration!” and she got to see how we can give blessings of comfort and counsel to those who stand in need.
We didn’t schedule a return visit to meet with the Zhong family but on Saturday we had the feeling that we should travel to their village (about a 20 minute train ride) so we could call a visit on them. As we got on the train to Ruisui it was stalled for awhile so we got there a bit later than we had planned. And then we had a prompting to walk the main road to their house instead of walking down a smaller road closer to the train station. As we were walking down the big road, we ran into an interesting member (who Sister Bernhardt calls the “Mater” of Radiator Springs”, our fun little town) and talked to him for a little bit. All of this was part of God’s plan because as we continued our journey down the road, we saw the Zhong family drive past–headed to their house! We all waved hi to each other and they pointed towards the direction of their house like we should go over with them. If we had gotten to Ruisui any earlier and hadn’t gotten stalled by the member, we wouldn’t have seen them. We would have gotten to their house too early and they wouldn’t have been home.
But we were able to go and visit them and they agreed to meet with us ALL TOGETHER again this coming Friday. The whole family definitely has a desire to follow Jesus Christ. They have been looking for something to truly help them in their lives.
Lin Mei Mei
On Friday night we went to the Yuli Night Market to go English Boarding. I know what you’re all thinking: “WOW, Yuli’s big enough to have a night market?!?!” Well it for sure is! It’s kind of cute, it’s literally like down one road and that’s it (which is nothing compared to the Zhubei night market or Ximending or the Dongmen morning market) but it’s definitely something!
So as we were going around talking to people we ran into the elders who told us that they had run into this little girl who was wearing a pink coat and holding a Ukelele. They had had a short conversation with her and she had told them that she had actually been baptized into our church when she was 7. (If this creates some confusion in your mind because people can’t get baptized until 8 in our church, sit tight.)
But they said that they had lost her without getting any of her information so we quickly said good bye to them and backtracked through the night market looking for her. The Elders left because they said they had an appointment at the chapel. But as we were going around we got a call from them saying that they had found her again by where they had parked their bikes! So we got to go and talk to her.
And sure enough, we found out that her last name was Lin, she was 10 years old and yes, she really had been baptized with her older brother when she was 7 and he was 10. We have honestly no idea how this little detail managed to slip under the missionaries’ noses a couple years ago. But the two siblings quickly became less-active because of family opposition after the baptism, and Lin mei mei’s record was nullified.
Even though the two siblings hadn’t been to church in a long time, Lin mei mei told us that she and her brother would still pray together sometimes and she still believed in Jesus Christ. So she gave us their address and we were able to visit them the next day! Lin mei mei is super-duper smart for a 10 year old and she remembered lots of the things she had learned with the past missionaries and the names of the members of the branch. We originally committed her and her older brother to come to church the next day, but they said they were going to a relative’s wedding.
But on Sunday we got a big surprise when Lin Mei Mei came to church on her own free will! She knew where to go, what to do and everything. So now she is also our new investigator. This time if/when she gets baptized, we’ll know that she’s actually the proper age. In the right place at the right time, guys!!!
Last P-Day, we had a crazy time basically seeing everything that Taidong has to offer in one day. The Hualien Stake President, President Cai, offered to drive us around all day and he was such a great sport! We first went to this cool beach. Then we tried to go up Monkey Mountain but the road was closed for construction. So we went to this awesome-looking bridge that leads to an island. And there’s this beach called pebble beach. There’s no sand, only small, smooth stones!
Then we went to this place which we thought was going to be an aquarium but then it ended up being a fishery-type area where they had all these dead fish and sharks laid down on the ground. Before we got there everyone was like “yeah we’re gonna go look at the sharks” and so I, of course, thought we would be seeing LIVE animals at an AQUARIUM but apparently chopped-off shark HEADS and tough bin-lang-chewing fishermen are even COOLER. Honestly it was one of the strangest, worst-smelling things I have ever experienced.
Well, that’s about it for this week. I love it here in Yuli.
Love you all!
Sister Anne Watson