THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF THE CRAZIEST WEEKS OF MY WHOLE MISSION! And one of the funnest, too. And the saddest. And the strangest. And the coolest. So excited to tell you all about it.
First off, I am writing this email from XINZHU city, which is right next to my very first area of Zhubei. (My aunt Lori also served here however many years ago, so if she has any members or people that she remembers that might still be here, I would love to hear about them!) So I am BACK to where the wind is big and the weather is cold. And I was called to be a Sister Training Leader with Sister Emily Liu who is from Sandy, Utah, and is friends with my trainer Sister Apsley. Sister Liu is actually a 華僑hua qiao from Hong Kong! I have been on the mission about 5 months longer than her. This is probably going to be my last area and she could possibly be my last companion! So crazy! I saw Sister Liu get trained down in Taidong, we are friends. She is seriously so awesome and has SO much energy for such a tiny person.
And right now, for the time being, we are actually in a TRIPANIONSHIP with Sister Nielsen, who will be training a new missionary in ZHUBEI, my last area! Her companion still hasn’t arrived from America since they are having visa problems. So we have been kind of trying to figure out what to do about that since we don’t know how long this arrangement is gonna last. But anyways, Sister Nielsen is ALSO insanely awesome and she is from Richfield, Utah. Her mom is Taiwanese and her Dad is American. She is almost halfway through her mission.
But we are all getting along super well, and I love telling them all of my Sister Huang stories from training and we all agreed that Sister Huang is probably the cutest person that ever lived on earth.
Well, for P-Day on Monday my friend, Sister Barber, came back from America and we did P-Day with her family and a bunch of other missionaries! We went to Jiufen, me for my second time. Basically, it’s this cool little shopping village up in the mountains/hills in the Northwestern corner of Taiwan. It was so funny because some of the sister missionaries were doing their emails on their cell phones on the way there, and Sister Barber’s mom was just looking at all of them and asked “What the heck are they all doing on their phones?” Let’s just say we’re still figuring all of that stuff out still.
On Tuesday we got fed pizza and fried chicken by our ward mission leader and one of the other members, and I realized that I should probably start packing since it was about a given that I was going to leave Banqiao.
And in the afternoon we went to Interviews and the Xinpu elders were there, and they told us that they had seen the Transfer sheet (a chart with all the missionaries’ areas and new companions) in President’s office as they were doing a baptismal interview with an investigator. So that they KNEW where we were going. And I got kind of stressed out because they wouldn’t tell us.
THE CRAZINESS BEGINS
On Wednesday afternoon Zhang jm (our investigator) fed us lunch like she did for Sister Hansen when she got transferred, and then we got a link to a google drive document that had our transfer information. SO instead of having to go to a 7/11 to open an ibon code, we were able to see RIGHT THERE…
DUN DUN DUN…
I WAS GETTING TRANSFERRED TO XINZHU AND SISTER HUANG WAS GETTING TRANSFERRED TO TAIDONG, AND THEY WERE WHITEWASHING (when two new missionaries go into an area with no prior background on the area, ward, etc.) BANQIAO WITH ELDERS.
Yes, it’s true! It was SO crazy just reading that little piece of paper on my phone. Let’s just say that that little Google drive file caused a LOT of changes to our Wednesday schedule! We had to run to the mission office to pick up Sister Huang’s train ticket, and then we spent the rest of the day frantically packing and trying to get stuff ready for the Elders who would be coming the next day.
Sister Huang ended up having 4 luggages and she wanted to take some of them to the post office so she could ship them either home in Taizhong or to her new apartment in Taidong. And that would have taken an hour out of our day, but then right when we got out the door we saw a truck for a transportation company outside and he agreed to ship off her packages right then and there! So that saved us a lot of time.
That day I also had to get in contact with both of the elders who were coming in to the area (which was a lot easier because of LINE) and fill them in on as much information as I could.
We also had this funky situation where I had to decide who would teach our investigators when we left, the Tucheng sisters or the new Xinban elders (since our mission has this rule where, in most cases, missionaries can only teach people that are the same gender as them.) I had to call President and ask for his direction, and he explained that if it was convenient for the Tucheng sisters to take our investigators then they should probably teach them, but that the Elders also needed some people to teach and that they could possibly teach them as well. But in the end, he told me to decide.
So after some discussion with all the other missionaries, I decided to let the Tucheng sisters teach Sister Zhang and Sister Xu. I have been in contact with the Elders a lot this week, giving them directions and telling them all about the members and stuff.
It was also a “blast” trying to tell our investigators that we were both suddenly leaving…I think most of the ward was surprised but in the end, missionaries move and they’re all used to it. I know all of our investigators will be in really good hands with the Tucheng sisters and the new Xinban elders. And I am totally going to take the High Speed Rail to Sister Zhang’ s baptism in a couple weeks (We researched and found out that it only takes 30 minutes from Xinzhu to Banqiao station.)
Me and Sister Huang had a great last night together, and at English class we found out that the Elders were TOTALLY just joking with us about the whole transfer thing, like, they totally had no idea, and I was stupid for believing that the information about transfers would be so obvious on President’s big board in his office.
We ran into a tragedy on transfer day and a part of me still can’t believe that what happened…happened. Me and Sister Huang had to leave our apartment pretty early and I had to go to the mission office to drop off the SIM card to our phone and the house keys for the new elders. I had my two big luggages, my little missionary bag, and an extra bag that I was going to leave at the mission office and pick up later. This little bag had lots of things in it, like all the letters I’ve received from friends and family, some VERY special gifts that I bought for family when I got back home, all the pictures and train tickets I’ve collected from people, all of my extra missionary name tags, maps, the ibon codes from transfers, and other important mementos.
And, somehow, on our way down the stairs and into the taxi that took us to the train station, that bag completely disappeared. Gone. Zero. Zip. Nada.
We only noticed once we got to Banqiao station. I had Sister Huang go to catch her train down to Taidong (since we had to get separated at that time anyways) and had the taxi driver (who lives in our neighborhood anyways) take me back to the apartment so I could look. And after running back into the apartment, running up and down the stairs, calling all of the doors in the apartment, and even going with a neighbor to visit the little neighborhood office thingy (which was closed since it was too early in the morning anyways), I finally came to the conclusion that my bag simply disappeared. In half an hour. When nothing in the bag would have even been of interest to some passerby on the street (even the special gifts probably weren’t a ton monetary-wise.)
And by that point, time was running pretty short, so I had to ask the taxi driver to just take me to the mission office, and that was one of the most miserable taxi drives of my life. Let’s just say I…uh…might have cried. A lot. But by the time I got to the office I was fine.
I was late to the mission office and made my train to Xinzhu only in the nick of time–literally, the second I got onto the platform the train doors were opening. And on the hour-ish ride down I had a bit of time to think about my situation and what I had really lost. And I have been thinking of it until now.
First of all, I think God must have taken that bag and translated it into heaven! I’m literally convinced of that at this point and that makes me a lot happier.
And I also have been thinking a lot about the pioneers, and how they left everything that was important for them. And I know that I have ALREADY been able to find true happiness here in Xinzhu and we have had SO much fun.
So much has happened in Xinzhu these past couple days, I still can’t believe how much happened this week. Anyways, I am here replacing a missionary who just went home, and she was a SUPER active, hardworking missionary so it has been interesting trying to take her place!
We saw some pretty cool miracles on Sunday when we originally didn’t have any investigators planning on coming to church! A potential investigator and her 9-year-old daughter ended up showing up after we called them on Saturday–we totally weren’t actually expecting them to come but they CAME! And set up to meet with us this week. 🙂
So in the end, I don’t quite have the time to share a big, inspiring, spiritual thought like I have the past couple weeks, but just to let you know I am doing SO well, and of course there are hard times still but…there is nothing that makes a missionary quite as satisfied as knowing that they have worked hard and done something that helps them to reach goals to invite people to come unto CHRIST! And we sure did that this week! It makes all of the other worries just fly out into the distance.
AND OH HEY ON SUNDAY WE HAD A MEETING WITH THE STAKE PRESIDENT, IN ZHUBEI. SO yes, I got to go back to my first area for the first time in a year! And afterwards, Sister Nielsen wanted to get some stuff from the apartment so I got to see EVERYTHING. It was SO trippy. It was awesome. It was also weird thinking that some of my former companions like Sister Armstrong have also lived in that apartment.
Well, that’s all folks!