I got on my emails and read about several people talking about the importance of smiling–(shoutout to Sister Oldroyd, Sister Clawson, my mom, and my dad!) So that will be something extra to keep in mind for this next week. But just so you know I am currently all smiles for many different reasons! There have been many things to be happy about even though missions are hard. Okay, where to begin?
This week the Guo family graciously proposed to take us to Shi Fen Waterfall, which is somewhere in northeastern Taiwan. Brother Guo took a returned missionary and his family there a week before and it apparently was pretty disappointing, but we went after the Typhoon so the water levels were a lot more impressive! They also had a lot of typical tourist-trap things to do like sending off paper lanterns into the air and buying tons of knick-knacks.
On Saturday we had this big ward talent show put together by our Ward Mission Leader! Our ward has been doing this for years and so they take it very seriously. I was laughing the whole time! It was great. They also had us missionaries perform a number, the elders and Sister Hansen sang a bunch of missionary songs together while I played the piano. In between “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” and “Called to Serve” we had a member give us envelopes with our names on them, and we opened them up and they said “Taiwan” on the inside! It was so fun to act out getting our mission calls again, haha.
And then on Sunday they had a whole ton of Father’s Day celebrations because in Taiwan Father’s Day is on October 8. 8 in Chinese is pronounced “bah” so 8/8 is “bah bah” holiday. And bah bah in Chinese also means Father. So they literally planned a whole holiday around a play on words. But anyways lots of members invited their friends to our special musical sacrament meetings and in the end no one was really interested in meeting with the missionaries, but it’s good that they were willing to enter into the chapel!
And then on Sunday night our recent convert, sister Huang, spoke at the recent convert fireside in Taipei so a ton of members and investigators got to hear her testimony! And she wasn’t nervous at all. I was so proud of her! Afterwards she thanked us for giving her the opportunity to bear her testimony. Honestly she is so solid. At church she got called to be the Young Adult representative and she’s doing so much to help the ward! We are so thankful!
While visiting members/finding this week we found this entire neighborhood with all of these apartment buildings that look exactly the same, and there were little groups of families just walking down the streets together. There were no cars because this community was blocked off to cars even though the roads were built for them. Everything was so picture-perfect it felt like we had just walked into a TV set or a movie set or something–like Harry Potter! And through the rest of the week we’ve just been planning activities so we can go to the neighborhood/park again because we find it so interesting.
The big disappointment of this week was that we were planning to have SO MANY investigators at church. We were calling and checking up on them all week to make sure they could still come, and then NO ONE CAME! They all cancelled on Saturday night or Friday morning. Aw man, it made me so frustrated! We dropped one investigator because she cancelled on us last minute to tell us she was going out with a friend (even though we have been trying to get her to church for weeks and weeks.) We were already questioning her desire so this was the final straw.
But anyways it left me feeling so frustrated that all of these people are so quick to make pursuits like work of more importance than of finding the things which contain true substance. But through prayer and reading the scriptures, I know that God has comforted us a lot this week to know that it’s not our fault and that He accepts our efforts to invite people even if they don’t accept.
Let me tell you a funny story about some of my favorite investigators! We are teaching a group of three named Sherri, Jackie, and Tony. This is literally THE worst case of third-wheeling I have ever seen in my whole life! Sherri and Jackie are a married couple while Tony is their best friend who just follows them everywhere. They all showed up to English class one day and I got to teach them in the beginner class! It’s so funny, as they were introducing themselves Sherri said, “this is my husband, and my best friend!” and then they agreed to set up an appointment with us! And they all showed up a few days later, so they are our new FAMILY of investigators + the best friend! We taught them the message of the Restoration and they received it really well! Sherri is the most curious and asks a lot of good questions—she kind of leads their motley group of 3 but her husband and best friend definitely have some interest too so we are excited to continue teaching them.
And last but not least….
I HIT MY YEAR MARK THIS WEEK! I cannot believe that it’s been a full year since I entered the MTC! The beginning of my mission was really slow but now it is flying by! One interesting occasion marked my one year week. The bishop’s daughter in our ward is preparing to serve a mission, and on Saturday night at the talent show she started opening up to me and sharing about some of her fears and concerns before she sends in her papers. I was able to talk to her and share with her some of the same feelings that I had a year earlier and it seemed to help her a lot! Mostly in the past year I have learned about the importance of failure, reading the scriptures, praying, making mistakes, and just pushing through everything!
The past year of learning experiences is truly impossible to put into words. If you just look at the changes on an outside level, you’d think I haven’t changed much (literally, I show people my driver’s license picture and they say that I look the same as when I was 16 haha) but on the inside I guess there’s been a lot of changes. You’ll have to see what they are when I get back because I don’t really know for myself. At least the summer tan lines are coming in nicely.
On a less serious note it’s such a rip-off that we didn’t get to be in the nice new MTC buildings a year ago! I just saw this video from the church that has a tour of the new buildings and I saw one of my MTC teachers on it which is pretty funny! (ye lao shi) Oh how time flies! I really can’t believe it!