Being a missionary in Yuli is great. So dang great. Absolutely AWESOME. And we are doing BETTER than awesome because Peng jie mei （彭姐妹）is smooth sailing for her baptismal date of the 29th of this month.
We were a little bit worried before because her work as a nurse is very busy and we hadn’t been able to meet with her in a while. We’ve known where she lives for a long time but we were nervous to visit her because she lives with her husband and her mother-in-law who might oppose the church. But the other day we took the chance and it paid off big time! We were able to meet her husband who is really chill and we haven’t run into her mother-in-law yet. We have been able to visit her or run into her 3 times this past week and they’ve all been at miraculous times where she has a few minutes to talk so we can teach her a new gospel principle!
She was also able to COME TO CHURCH on Sunday and LOVED it! This is her third time coming. She just needs to attend once more to all 3 meetings and then she will hit that qualification for baptism. She texted us afterwards and said that church is the most peaceful, happy time of her week! We still need to teach her lots of the commandments and stuff so pray for her that she will continue to be a stalwart example of a true follower and seeker of Christ.
We are also hoping that she will be baptized in a waterfall so that’s pretty cool. There’s this place locally called 摩們水流 where other people have gotten baptized in the past.
For P-Day last week we went to Hualian to be with the 4 Hualian sisters, although we had no idea what they would be doing. So we just wore our dresses and I figured, if we were going on a hike or something, they would let us stop by the Hualian chapel to grab my sweats really quick (because I forgot them there after exchanges the week before.) Oh boy was I wrong.
We ended up going on the most intense hike of my mission and I had to do it in a skirt and flats. We basically rock climbed and waded through water and I SURVIVED haha. I think I came out of it in one piece…the shoes definitely got destroyed but after a good washing the rest of my outfit was good as new! I felt kind of ridiculous hiking there…after all the rope climbing and water wading. And we passed by a ton of tour groups that were literally wearing helmets and life vests as they hiked. I must have looked like a cool jungle bird to them with the skit and the sweat and the frizzy hair and all.
On Tuesday we went up to the Hualian chapel for the Hualian/Taidong zone Zone Conference! I was able to pick up the letter my mom sent me recently (thanks Mom!) We had an awesome discussion with President and Sister Jergensen about the Holy Spirit. And we got to eat Subway sandwiches for lunch. And then we split up into our zones after lunch and talked about specific goals. Even though Yuli is part of the Taidong zone, we felt kind of left out from this zone meeting because we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere between Hualian and Taidong so we’re not involved in most of the 3 Taidong ward’s activities. It was still interesting to hear ideas from the other missionaries, though.
樂合 (Le He)
Our area has this fun Taiwan Aborigine village called Le He (luh-huh) that we tried tracting around the other day. It ended up not being very successful so we left pretty quick, but it was an interesting opportunity to see life in a little village. It felt kind of like we had stepped into South America in the 50 years ago or something. There were some pretty beat-up houses, mosaic murals on the walls, lots of palm trees. It was kind of deserted because mostly everyone was at work, probably in Yuli or in the rice fields.
Fruit Stand Family
There’s this cool lady named Debbie that we get fruit from sometimes (I love guavas! And asian pears.) We saw her at the night market on Friday and she said that we could come share a message about Jesus Christ with her! And then last night we went to the fruit stand when her husband was working there. He literally said to us “我要請你們的傳教” which is him literally asking for us to preach the gospel to him and his family. Basically he needs Jesus. So we are gonna keep visiting them! Will update you on whether they become investigators or not.
Happy 復活節! Our branch didn’t even celebrate Easter this Sunday. But it’s okay because of the package I got from my mom that had Cadbury creme eggs in it. And church was awesome anyways and I love our branch. And an old member lady gave us some brown eggs, which the another member took because we were skeptical. The other member also tried to give Sister Bernhardt some oil for a mosquito bite on her back… (he is SUPER into oils. He makes the whole chapel smell like him by the end of church.) And he wrote a funny note that has some mixed Chinese and English saying things like “you are ill. You don’t. See here. God oil. (As in, like, the oil of God or something.) Get out ill.” And he literally drew a picture of him and Sister Bernhardt as chickens and him giving her the oil.
This week was big in the Taiwanese religion world! And it all came to a culmination on Easter night–half of Yuli gathered in the town roundabout to light off a ton of really, really loud, fourth-of-July caliber fireworks. The morning before as we were getting ready for the day, the temple down the street had a pre-ceremony thingy where they had young men dressing up in crazy outfits, drum beaters, and bringing this little shrine with a doll god into the temple vicinity. On Sunday night there was a parade where they paraded around the doll and had more people in costume. And everyone was chewing bin lang (as usual!)
We’ve seen some interesting successes this week from using Easter in our proselyting. It’s super awesome, actually. Before, my companion would often ask questions like “if you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?” or “what would you think if you could be with your family forever?” And we would often be met with blank stares or “I don’t understand the question,” and those who got the question wouldn’t be too impressed. But then on Monday night as we did family history with our potential investigator friend (who is now our investigator!) she was really moved by the concept of the resurrection. We talked about her identity as a daughter of God–an eternal identity. We taught her that her soul was not a flower before this life and that it would not be in an animal after she died. And she felt the spirit so strong! She said, “thanks for telling me this!”
It really made me realize what a valuable knowledge it is that we are spirit children of our Heavenly Father, and that we have an extremely precious identity. This week, as we’ve asked questions on the street like “have you had any family members or friends who have died?” and simply testified of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have caught the interest of a lot of people we wouldn’t have been able to talk to much beforehand.
What Even, Yuli?
This is a pretty dang funny place to serve.
We were contacting this lady outside a 7/11. As we asked her “can we meet so we can share more about Jesus Christ?” she looked and exclaimed fatter-of-factly, “I am already a Jesus baby!” and walked towards her car. As a last-gasp effort Sister Bernhardt called out “That’s great! Can we meet so we can talk more about Jesus Christ?” She called back “No!” And got into her car and drove away.
The other day as we were biking through town we passed by this man who was literally wearing his hair in a ponytail. Not the kind of ponytail where you can tie your hair in the back–as far as length goes his hair was pretty normal. But he had the front section gathered into a hairband at the top so he looked kind of like the little girl from Despicable Me. But anyways as we biked by he exclaimed: “Hello! You are beautiful! I love you! Take care!”
And later that night we saw him inside the 7/11 and we were like “aw crap” and hung outside for a bit. But then as he came outside he looked over and saw us, exclaimed “Lovely!” and walked away again.
And then another day as we were biking away from a 7/11, Sister Bernhardt was singing (as we sister missionaries often do as we work) and a man standing outside the store yelled “yeah baby!” It sounded like a weird throaty bird call or something. I was like “what the heck was that?” And Sister Bernhardt yelled “Just bike, sister, just bike!”
Let’s just say people love sharing their English with us.
This week I bought sunglasses because when the sun is high in the sky, my eyes are super sensitive and hurt/water really bad. So that’s why I am wearing sunglasses in lots of the pics. Don’t worry, it’s only bad enough to really need them every once in a while.
I love you all! Have a great week!
Sister Anne Watson