This week we were so focused on trying to help our investigators progress, and we also went hard proselyting in Taiwan’s cold, rainy winter weather. We made a really concentrated effort on talking to and inviting as many people as we could to do things like meet with us or come to church. We felt SUCH a huge difference from last week where we were kind of going through the motions but weren’t really going out of our way to talk to people. And we saw some really cool miracles!
BUT let’s go from the beginning! We had an AWESOME start to the week with DISTRICT P-DAY in a place called NEIWAN, 內灣, a town that’s inland of Xinzhu city (which is right on the western coastline.) It’s basically just another one of those tourist towns (like Jiufen or Yingge) with lots of food and trinket shops. Taiwanese tourist traps are known for sausage sticks, expensive mango drinks, ice cream, Taiwan key chains, and other 東西 (stuff.) But somehow, even though I’ve been to these places a million times, they never get tiring when you’re with your whole district. Neiwan was actually one of the more fun P-days I’ve been to. We caught the 7:40 AM train from Xinzhu station in the nick of time…because it was the first day of the month I hadn’t taken out money yet, and when we got to the ticket gate I realized that my train money card was completely empty. Sister Liu had already dashed through the gate so she had to hand me some money from across the gate so I could go to the 7/11 and add it onto my card (with the train leaving in, like, 3 minutes). It’s a miracle that we got on the train on time…it reminded me a lot of the parable of the 10 virgins! Luckily, I was able to pay Sister Liu back once we got to Neiwan.
We went on a hike and also ran into some members, which was fun! I don’t have all the pictures yet, sorry. That will probably have to wait until next week.
Current Investigator Statuses
This week we were able to meet again with our most progressing investigator, Chen jm. This week we just reviewed the Word of Wisdom so we could make sure to cover all of her concerns. We invited her to create a plan so she can follow it completely! We had to change her baptismal date to the beginning of February, but it’s okay because she is still very willing to do everything she needs to. We don’t think she will have any concerns with any of the other commandments, so we are mostly going to be working on building her faith. Her 2-year-old son is so cute, they came to English class and to all 3 hours of church! She is starting to feel like a member in our ward more than an investigator, haha! It’s great because most of the women in the ward are young mothers like her so it’s really easy for her to get along with them.
(Side note: this ward feels more like a Utah ward than any of my others have been–mostly because there are so many young families! It’s super weird! This ward is also really mature when it comes to missionary work, they are not nervous to share the gospel! No matter where I’m serving, it’s always interesting to realize that just about every member is a convert to the church. So I guess you could also say that it’s still definitely NOT like a Utah ward.)
It was raining super hard on Sunday during church, so before sacrament meeting started we called her to see if she wanted a ride from anyone, but she said “no, we’ll be fine just walking! My son will have his rainboots on.” She is such a trooper!
We also made some headway with our most progressing investigator without a date, Mo jm. I don’t know how much I’ve talked about her before, but she met with missionaries a year ago but lost interest because she couldn’t keep the Word of Wisdom due to coffee and tea concerns. We have been working on really building her faith to keep the commandments. According to Sister Liu, she’s grown a lot since they began meeting with her again last transfer. She used to complain about every commandment/commitment, but through PRAYER she has had a lot of cool experiences with Heavenly Father helping her to be humble. By now, she is basically keeping the Word of Wisdom. This week we taught her “Keep the Sabbath Day Holy.” Before, her perception of this commandment was just “Come to church every week. Come to church every week.” It’s kind of sad that she didn’t see exactly WHY we have this commandment (and what blessings we can get from it), so that’s what we focused on in our lesson with her this week. And, guess what??? SHE CAME TO CHURCH THIS WEEK! The first time since I moved here to Xinzhu! Granted, she didn’t make it in until after sacrament meeting, but you should have seen Sister Liu’s face when she saw her head poking in through the Gospel Principles classroom door! Mo jm still hasn’t set a baptismal date because she doesn’t have enough faith yet. BUT WE ARE GETTING THERE!
We actually had a TON of other cool lessons this week, but for the sake of time I’ll just mention one more investigator named Xiao Wu. She is actually an investigator in the Xiangshan ward, and we set a baptismal date with her this week! We did it through the second lesson. As we were teaching her, we weren’t sure if she was really feeling it and it kind of felt like it was all over the place. It didn’t help when the member who was with us wanted to show this seemingly random video of Jesus visiting the spirits in the Spirit World…but in the end it turns out that this was exactly what Xiao Wu needed because she said that she loved the church and the video because it gave her a very warm feeling! And when we invited her to be baptized, she was totally solid–“WILLING!” She was also able to come to ALL 3 HOURS of church this week! Her very first time and church could not have been better. We got the opportunity to accompany her the whole time, and it was awesome to see the Xiangshan ward step up to fellowship our investigator! Me and Sister Liu have visited their ward several times before, and the elders in there have said that the ward is having unity problems. But it felt great this past Sunday! AND XIAO WU LOVED IT. During Relief Society all the sisters were sharing how they like people to show love to them, and they actually stopped before they got to Xiao Wu, so I leaned in and whispered to her asking what her love language is, and she responded, “Just coming to church more would be fine!” And after church when we stopped to set up with her, we said “we can do Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.” And she was like “I can also do those days. Can I just meet with you all 3 days!” She is so golden.
I found out through our district chat on Wednesday afternoon that President Monson passed away. I think that must have been 1 in the morning Utah time so we found out before you guys! What actually happened was that we were meeting with a recently reactivated member who got baptized only a couple years ago. It was actually a funny lesson, this poor lady doesn’t really have a huge testimony of the gospel but as we were trying to review the first lesson she kept saying “Yes, not bad, not bad, this church is really awesome!” We kind of gave up on teaching seriously when we started talking about the prophet and got sidetracked on this conversation:
Her: Does the prophet live in Taiwan?
Us: No, he lives in America!
Her: No, I think he lives in Taiwan, I think I’ve met him before!
Her: Does the prophet have a Facebook?
Us: Uh…..we don’t think so?
Her: I’m pretty sure he added me on Facebook, here let me show you!
And then she proceeded to pull up the Jergensen’s Facebook from her iPad and we seriously had to try so hard to not bust a gut laughing (don’t worry, we kept it as controlled as possible!) Ironically (and somewhat in-opportunely), at the end of the lesson she wanted to add our LINEs and that’s when I saw that President Monson passed away. There was an awkward 10 minutes where I knew and my companion didn’t, but I wasn’t able to tell her until we got out.
THE COOLEST STORY EVERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!@!!!
On Thursday, the Xiangshan elders posted on our district LINE that they had a lesson with this old man who’s biggest desire was to be BAPTIZED! That was in and of itself a cool miracle, but that night we truly found out the scope of this man’s story….We did a district group call and as the Xiangshan elders were talking about their lesson with this man, Sister Liu suddenly started SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS and dancing around the house. Because she KNEW this old man and knew his story!And she told me this story which I wrote in my journal. THE EPIC STORY OF THE MOST AWESOME OLD MAN EVER. THIS STORY CHANGED MY LIFE.
“OH MY GOODNESS HERE IS A HUGE MIRACLE STORY. It literally has nothing to do with me but here out of the mouth of Sister Liu.
This story begins with Elder Hinckley, an elder in my generation (as in, I got to Taiwan at the same time as him, we were in the MTC together.) His second area was in Neihu (somewhere in Taipei) where he taught and baptized this 60-70 year-old woman. And then this woman really wanted her 90+ year old parents to hear the lessons as well, SO THEY DID and they got all the way through the lessons and the parents wanted to get baptized BUT THEN the woman’s SIBLINGS found out and OPPOSED. HARD CORE. So what were the missionaries to do? Technically, the old couple are adults and can make their own decisions but in this culture, children have tremendous influence over their parents in their old age. And this issue made it all the way up to President Jergensen and the Asia Area Presidency. And in the end, President Jergensen said to baptize them…but before that could happen, the siblings swooped in and decided to move the parents somewhere else so they couldn’t get baptized in Neihu!
By the end of this part of the story, my current companion Sister Liu was serving in Songshan, and the Songshan sisters were teaching Elder Hinckley’s recent convert woman the RC lessons. So they found out this story.
Okay AND THEN. Sister Liu (who spent only 1 transfer in Songshan) and eventually Elder Hinckley both got transferred to a place called LONGTAN, a rural area in Taoyuan county. The closest train station to Longtan is a small local one called Puxin and from that station you have to take a half hour drive. To get to Taoyuan city, the bus takes 2 hours. (Getting anywhere from Longtan takes 2 hours on public transportation because of how out-of-the-way it is haha.) But ANYWAY, one day during her time in Longtan, Sister Liu was just sitting in church and she SAW THE COUPLE! Yes, they had gotten moved to Longtan and were getting ready to meet with Elder Hinckley there!
BUT THEN. The parents somehow let it slip to their other children that they had found the church in Longtan so the kids SWOOPED IN with a dastardly plan. They SEPARATED THE COUPLE to TWO DIFFERENT REST HOMES in different parts of Taiwan. They literally TORE APART these two people who had been married for decades just to stop them from getting baptized. Sister Liu told me she remembered the couple’s last Sunday in Longtan before they moved and how they looked so sad. This poor man in a wheelchair and his wife.
So then, of course, Sister Liu then moved to Xinzhu, and here in our district we’ve been sharing tender mercies/miracles to each other on LINE! And today (Thursday) the Xiangshan elders posted this tender mercy: ‘Met with a member referral who WANTS MORE THAN ANYTHING TO BE BAPTIZED. And he has passed a baptismal interview before, and he said a beautiful prayer at the end right before we set up to meet with him this Saturday!”
And at the end of the night we had a district call and as the elders were sharing more about this man’s background Sister Liu started FREAKING OUT. She was screaming in high pitch because she realized that THE XIANGSHAN ELDERS HAD FOUND THE DAD AGAIN because the Neihu recent convert had told Elder Hinckley when they just happened to see each other in Taipei. Sister Liu was screaming “FIND THE WIFE! WE HAVE TO FIND THE WIFE!” and we were all in awe that God’s plan is so awesome and how cool it is that the church can be found EVERYWHERE (so there’s no getting away from it in Taiwan.) I also realized how cool it is how everything can STILL work out for good for the faithful even when opposition is fiercely intense.”
And that is the whole story.
Sorry, this email is kind of all over the place because my mission is currently also all over the place! I have had SO many awesome faith building experiences and personal studies, and sorry it is impossible to share them all but I hope you all enjoyed these little tidbits. Here’s to next week!
Sister Anne Watson