This week the weather really cooled down and everyone pulled out their jackets. This coming week will be a bit warmer, but it was nice to have a few days to not need our air conditioning.
Our week began with meeting with this potential investigator named Eva who works as an assistant to a JUDGE! She was telling us about how she is investigating lots of different churches right now to find the one that feels right to her. And we shared the entire first lesson and afterwards she asked us if we worship Joseph Smith/prophets and other things. It was disappointing because she said she would contact US if she had more interest–which is one of the most HOLLOW commitments ever because people NEVER contact us back. We have been sending her scripture texts and will try to get in contact with her again.
Our big project this week was going around to our members to have them help us fill out notes to invite our investigators to church. Our members are getting so involved in the work we are doing and it is amazing! I’m just barely starting to notice what a blessing it has been for me to be here in Banqiao for so long. I’ve gotten to know the members a lot better and now they really trust us to meet their families and friends.
The Relief Society also trusted us to help out with a special project we did on Sunday during church. Our bishop had a stroke of inspiration that everyone in the ward could get together and invite all of the less-active members in the area to come to our Thanksgiving and Christmas activities. We did a couple demonstrations while calling real people and then all the Relief Society sisters got to work! They were a lot less nervous than I am when making calls, even! We saw a couple successes just in those few minutes during a church meeting.
We met with the Zheng family on Tuesday night and their two sons are now our investigators! You never know what to expect when you meet with a family–it’s a lot different than teaching one person because you have to accommodate so many different personalities during one lesson. But it turned out really well, their sons were willing to come to church and pray–which was cool because they weren’t relying on their parents–willing to make their own gospel decisions! That’s what us missionaries like to see!
And then here’s a fun story from our weekly English class! There’s this student who’s been coming to my advanced class for the past couple weeks named Ginny (yes, like from Harry Potter!) This woman has two masters degrees and also has a Christian background. She didn’t really have a ton to say after my first spiritual share that she attended, but the next week I shared the Book of Mormon and she started reading the introduction by herself. And as she was reading she looked up to me and asked, “Wait….Jesus Christ visited the people of ancient America?” like she was incredulous. And after I assured her that He really did, she finished the introduction and put the book down politely. And after class I asked her, “do you want to keep this? I can give it to you” and she was so thankful! I am sure she will come back to English class this coming week having read the entire thing and desiring to be baptized.
Zone Conference was this Thursday, in Taoyuan as usual and, of course, it was the one day of the week that turned out really hot, so we were sweating in our sweaters! We talked a lot about having a vision for our mission and our area. For most of my time in Banqiao, I haven’t had a solid vision and have just been waiting for different sorts of storms to pass–waiting for investigators to be willing to do this and that. And that waiting was important and it was important to have patience, but now that we are starting to get the work rolling again, it’s time to put all of our pent up missionary energy into a true vision for how this ward can look a few months from now.
Oh, and here’s one of those other tidbits: They explained to us that we will all be getting SMARTPHONES in this mission. Our mission never even had iPads, so this announcement that we will now be getting our very own smartphones truly came as a shock! At first we thought it was some sort of Halloween joke, but nope! I don’t really know what the full implications of this are yet, but it will sure be weird to be on social media. I’ve kind of forgotten that all that stuff even exists at this point. Sister Huang was kind of annoyed when she found out that her parents couldn’t just send her her iphone from home though, haha.
We started doing companionship study at a Starbucks on Saturday and they were playing CHRISTMAS music. Even though it’s so early in the season, I really wasn’t complaining. It definitely was cold enough outside to feel like a Taiwanese Christmas! Albeit it was a little bit hard to plan lessons in there, but we will definitely go back for language study sometime.
And then that night we went to the chapel to track down a couple of our members and they ended up needing their help to blow up balloons for a young women’s dance! I love unplanned acts of service, especially when you can have fun with it too.
And so to sum it up…this week we also met with our baptismal date investigators Zhang Qi Fang and 許姐妹 and they are doing well–we were able to give them the notes we prepared at the end of the week, so there’s no way they can’t know that our whole ward loves them and is encouraging them.
- How big is the typical apartment in Taiwan? Are there any regular houses anywhere to be found in the city or are they relegated to the countryside?
Taiwan housing is actually super interesting and something I have enjoyed exploring/observing my whole mission (even though sometimes I still get nervous about the fact of actually ringing those doorbells haha.) Some people live in row-style housing, where each house in the complex has about 3 or 4 floors and belongs to one family. And here in Taipei everyone lives in little row/column apartments that kind of look like little compartment dwellings from the street. There are lots of little alleys, backroads and passages that have people living in them–little doors that you wouldn’t spot if you weren’t looking for the address.
There are little pockets of communities and places in the middle of nowhere where people own single-family dwellings. I’ve mostly seen them outside of Taipei because those sorts of communities are off the beaten path. In the richer parts of the city you just get REALLY fancy apartment buildings. Like, REALLY fancy.
Lots of people also live in older apartment buildings that are big but not quite so nice. Lots of these older buildings are decorated to look like they are covered in pink or white or green bathroom tile. I don’t know who decided on this style 40ish years ago but it remains today!
I’ve seen lots of people who live in really small houses where they only have enough room for a bed, a desk, and a bookcase. Taiwanese kitchens are normally really small no matter what kind of house you live in, so they’re a little bit more inconvenient for cooking food.
- Our primary program is coming up next week. In Taiwan do they have a primary program as well and what are they like?
Yeah! Last year I attended all 3 of the Zhubei wards’ primary programs and our ward had their program a couple weeks ago. They are basically the same as back in Utah, although the primary is a lot smaller so the children have to perform or give talks multiple times.
- What has been your most embarrassing moment while you have been on your mission?
I feel like as a missionary, most of what we do is embarrassing by normal people standards haha. When I first got to Taiwan, I was dying with all of the stuff we “had” to do like talking to strangers and ringing doorbells and what not. I think I’ve really had to learn that when you’re in the service of God, nothing is embarrassing and that the only way to not have success is by doing nothing.
- In Taiwan, do they have any problems with homelessness at all?
A little bit. It’s not too bad though. There are lots of people who live in really humble circumstances though.
And that’s it for this week! This week I have been contemplating the role of the Savior, Jesus Christ a lot. It has been a life-changing experiment to truly contemplate everything He did in His mortal ministry, especially taking upon the weight of all of our sins and then rising from the dead after 3 days. After contemplating all of it in my heart, I really do know that all of this REALLY happened. Jesus Christ is the son of God, and He was sent here to earth to take upon Himself all of our sins and infirmities. I know that Jesus Christ visited the people of the Americas after He was resurrected, and a record of this is written in the Book of Mormon! A scripture that really stuck out to me in my studies this week was 3 Nephi 17:17:
17 And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
I TRULY KNOW that even now, Jesus Christ is still praying for us and it is impossible for us to imagine that love that He and our Heavenly Father have for us and how much they want us to return home. I know that Jesus Christ is praying for all of you; He did this in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross as He was suffering.
And I love you all too! And I am praying for you all too.
Sister Anne Watson