What a crazy week! So in other words, a normal week as a missionary in Taiwan full of miracles, tragedies, and the normal interesting stuff.
Well, first of all, the end of the transfer happened and me and Sister Liu are still together! So she will be my VERY LAST companion here in Xinzhu and on the mission. It was crazy though, about 40 percent of the mission got transferred this time so lots of changes were made with people moving around. Our zone didn’t change a ton, but it has been fun to welcome some new people into lovely Xinzhu and set some awesome new goals for the zone!
They switched out one of the zone leaders so now we will be working with Elder Alexander who I came to Taiwan with (as well as Elder Bird who didn’t leave haha.) (Side note: Elder Alexander makes the last of many missionaries who I came to Taiwan with and am later serving with…but he wasn’t in my MTC district. I’ll be ending my mission without having served even NEAR anyone from my big district! So weird.) On the first day of the transfer on Thursday we got together to discuss our zone’s needs for MLC (mission leadership council) and came to the conclusion that our zone will continue to focus on finding new investigators this transfer. This was also our focus last month, but we decided that we are going to step it up a bit and make sure everyone in our zone is setting good finding goals every day, and following up on them throughout the week. We also want to encourage them to evaluate their progress within their companionships throughout the day. We realized that most companionships in the zone will set finding goals every morning, but by the end of the day lots of people would forget about those goals or lose steam due to weariness/discouragement/etc.
Haha it’s really funny because for most of my mission I have really HATED setting finding goals. Every time my mission leaders tried to make a push for it I kind of recoiled a little bit…I don’t know why, I guess it’s pride or bad attitude. But as soon as I got to Xinzhu I realized how much setting finding goals really relates to our purpose as missionaries and our faith in Jesus Christ! I think I learned a lot when I was training Sister Huang, because we were definitely working, but we were sometimes going through the motions and not setting really good goals for the day. And our area suffered! We definitely lost some faith and effectiveness.
But this past transfer and just this week with Sister Liu we saw SO MANY MIRACLES from making daily goals in the following three categories:
- New Investigators
- Gospel Conversations (how many times per day we share the gospel with someone…a little bit hard to track, but for me personally a good gospel conversation includes getting to know someone and sharing with them a doctrinal point from one of the lessons or a scripture from the Book of Mormon.)
- Set-ups (how many people set a specific time and place to meet with us after we invite them.)
Every morning as we set goals in these categories we prayed for the faith, desire, courage, and action necessary to make them really happen!
And it was so crazy, two of the weeks when we set really high goals, we would start out the morning getting rejected really hard by everyone. But then on one morning we set up with 3 people in less than an hour, and another day with 2 people in one hour! It was AWESOME! And with every one of these people we weren’t just spewing words at them, we were just really trying to teach to their needs and show them what true servants of the Savior look like.
So many people really opened up to us on the street this week which was way cool. With one lady, I wanted to take a picture of her dog, and then we got into a conversation about how God loves all people and all dogs and will give us all happiness in the end even though there are trials…(yes, even for the poor shelter dogs.) We even offered to go to the dog shelter this lady works at to give service one day. We think she appreciated it. With another lady, we contacted her really quick as she was standing outside of her work waiting for her boss to come. We invited her to church and told her how at church there are lots of families, and every week we all go to learn about how to strengthen our family relationships and become better people. And she opened right up to us and said that her family was having problems and agreed to come to church the next day! And she came and made it to a part of sacrament meeting and loved it!
So we brought all of these ideas to MLC in Taipei this week, which was way fun. I got to see Sister Bernhardt who moved to Hualian to be STL there for her last transfer! She actually moved down there a week ago to be with a sister who was finishing her mission. Her companion had left last week to start school so they sent Sister Bernhardt in there so she could get a bit of an introduction to the area before almost-whitewashing! And guess who her new companion is? Sister Hansen, my other former companion! Hope they don’t have too much fun without me, haha. They also fed us MEXICAN FOOD at the conference which was delicious.
During MLC we also found out that we will be having more intimate zone conferences this coming transfer. Instead of combining multiple zones, we will be meeting mostly individually to discuss the new use of technology in our mission. And we will have to do a 3 HOUR TRAINING with the zone leaders at that time so guess we’re going to have to be preparing that a ton this next week…haha.
We took a train home from MLC, and when we got back to Xinzhu train station we walked out to find out that our BIKES WERE GONE! And after asking around a couple construction workers and information desks, we were led to look at the ground on where our bikes had been parked and saw an address written in chalk there with a number. So we called the number and it turned out our bikes had been towed away by the police because of construction they were starting on that road. Sadly, there was nothing we could have done to change the situation because that morning, the place where we had parked our bikes was definitely NOT an illegal spot, haha. But we had no other choice but to call a taxi to take us to this road in the middle of nowhere where there was this little police station. We found our bikes and had to fill out some paperwork where they needed our exact address, so we had to call one of the office elders who started laughing at us. But luckily, in the end they didn’t make us pay any money for some reason so I guess we were lucky. My bike was jammed between a couple of other ones so this tiny little wire had gotten stuck into a coil on the kickstand of one of the other bikes so we had to spend a solid few minutes in the freezing cold trying to coax it out. And then we were finally able to bike off to the rest of our night haha.
The best lesson we had this week was with our investigator Xiao Wu. We were able to meet with her at a member’s house and share with her the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The lesson went great and there was a particularly tender moment when we asked her how she thought it would feel to have a new start. She got tears in her eyes and started explaining how much she would love that because of some family problems when she was younger. She opened up more and told us that during church that week, every song we sang gave her goosebumps. So she is SO ready for baptism and we hope that everything can keep going smoothly with her. It’s so crazy how Sister Liu contacted her at McDonald’s last transfer! Because it was on exchanges, we were able to tell the other sister who contacted her how awesome she is and it made the sister so happy! NO EFFORT IS WASTED!
Despite all of the cool stuff me and Sister Liu got to witness this week, we also saw some HUGE HEARTBREAKERS with one of our most progressing investigators going crazy at us on social media and dropping us. It was so sad! The members were so confused as to why she wasn’t in church this Sunday. We talked to some of them and we think that our investigator was definitely having other problems as she was talking to us and that they will try to get in touch with her. We were probably the most heart broken by the fact that this investigator was accepting the things we told her about the Book of Mormon and prayer on the surface, but she wasn’t actually making these two tools a part of her life, so she couldn’t really rely on them or the things we taught her when the trials began to enter into her life. But we will keep praying for her and hope that she will be able to come back to the gospel some day.
Both me and Sister Liu learned SO MUCH throughout this whole experience, pondering on what we could have done differently and seeking for the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I personally received lots of spiritual confirmations in this process that the gospel is true, that the Book of Mormon really is the Word of God, and that this truly is Christ’s church. I obviously already feel it deeply in my heart, but it was just nice to feel some extra love from God this week.
During language study at the end of this week we were learning “You Can Make the Pathway Bright” (from the church hymnbook) in Mandarin and I was pondering on those words a lot during the past couple days. I especially like the chorus:
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
At the end of the week I started humming this song whenever I was on my bike and I think it is so awesome how all it takes is a little bit of light given from God and you can literally go ANYWHERE! Through studying the principle of light vs. darkness in relation to the gospel the past couple weeks, I have been able to realize that the only way me and Sister Liu could have failed this week was by getting discouraged after running into trials/discouragement/fatigue/whatever. As long as we actively try to let the light of the gospel into our lives and use it to light up the lives of other people, the darkness of sin cannot have any hold on us. I am thankful for this principle because I sure have had my share of having negative feelings in this mission and during the past week! BUT IT’S ALL GONNA BE OKAY. And Jesus Christ already experienced all of our sorrows!
Thanks for all of your support and prayers. These last 6 weeks are going to be super special!
Sister Anne Watson