Sunday, October 27, 2013

Never let a day go by- October 27

Hey there fam and friends!

Wanna know something nuts? I have officially been a missionary for 4 months! And I have been on island for 2 months already. How is that even possible? This means that I only have 14 months of my mission left. And its almost Christmas...AHHHH TIME TRIP. Anyway...this week. So usually the night before I plan out what I am going to report on or say but I kinda forgot to do sorry if this email is crazy sporadic. But I brought my journal with me so hopefully I can recollect all that has gone on in the past 7 days of my life. Here's a list:

1. This last Pday we really wanted to chill and take it easy. So we decided to explore the beloved city of JiLong. We found this bakery that sells the most amazing thing I've ever eaten in my life. PANDA BREAD. It's ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way). Its better than Costco chocolate muffins. That's how good it is. It's bread shaped as a Panda and it has nutella filling with walnuts. YUM. On Pday we also did something I haven't done in 4 months--we took a nap. It was miraculous. I woke up around 3 pm and just decided to enjoy my free time to myself in the apartment while my companion slept. Except the funny thing is--I had no idea what to do with myself! I hadn't had this free time in a while. So I decided to build a box haha. I built a box for my scriptures--so like a scripture case. I have yet to decorate it but I'll send you a pic when I'm done.

2. On Wednesday my companion played the piano at the hospital (for service) while in the meantime I made 1000X phone calls to formers and miracles happened. 1. I could understand them over the phone for the most part 2. A former said she would come to church and she totally did. 3. I explained to a lady what Kolob is kinda over the phone in the worst Chinese possible 4. I talked to lady who used to be in jail and she really wants to meet with us ASAP, WHOA WHOA WHOA MIRACLES LEFT AND RIGHT!

3. Our investigator didn't show up for a lesson so we decided to go English class contacting. We were in the middle of the city, super busy area, when suddenly my comp started running after someone. It was our investigator with her daughter and her mother (the mother does not like us at all). We were trying to figure out how to talk to her without the mom seeing us. We said a quick prayer for an opportunity to do so. Suddenly just completely out of the blue the mother took the daughter and walked into a store. Our investigator was about to walk in too but then she stopped and turned around. We jumped in front of her and invited her to church--guess what--SHE CAME. It was amazing!

Two special girls we are working with

4. We went to the temple on Saturday and I got to go on an exchange with my favorite person ever--Sister Brown! She used to be my Sister Trainer Leader but this last transfer she got called as a temple sister. I was so excited. She is the best. She gave me some of the best advice ever about the mission. We were walking back after a night of contacting in the area around the temple and I was asking her, "Sister Brown, do you think I'm doing okay as a new missionary?" She said, "Sister Tracy, don't worry, I am not worried about you. You are doing what you need to be doing." I asked her what that was. She said, "You are being genuine. You are a sincere missionary. Don't ever lose that gift." That meant a lot to me because that is exactly the type of missionary and person I strive to be. I never want to turn into a salesman or a robot missionary. I find that I am happiest and missionary work is a trillion times easier and my language is much much better when I am just being real with people. God made us all different for a reason. We each have a specific and different impact to make on others and the world. Don't ever lose that. It's a gift. Be who you were made to be.
My Companion
Taipei Temple

Sister Brown and Me

Me at the temple

Sisters in my Zone

5. Our apartment has a gas leak. Found this out two nights ago. We called the district leader and zone leader and President Day on Saturday night freaking out cuz out apartment is super ghetto and has no gas tank or carbon monoxide meter or anything. We ended up just opening all the windows and turning on the fan. So far so good. But it was super lolz because the next Sunday morning a bunch of people in the mission found out and were calling us, "Nimen hai huo zhe ma?" (Are you still alive?) hahah. Don't worry. its allllll good.

I am beginning to understand more and more each and every day why missions are so sacred. I am living in a world where suddenly things like grades, looks, money, the number of dates you go on, where you bought your clothes, where you are from, how many friends you have--they don't matter in the success you have as a person. The mission is like a dream social and spiritual environment where we are tossed into a corner of the world with a companion and told to serve. So we have to use and discover and develop all the good within us and figure out how to do that amidst all of the problems that arise. Thinking of that has really helped when I am feeling lazy and unmotivated to do missionary work. I ran into a girl at the temple  from the Taichung mission who goes home this Tuesday. I asked her how she felt and she started to tear up and said, "I feel sick." She looked me right in the eye and put her hands on my shoulders and said, "Oh sister, don't let a single day pass by where you're not grateful to be here. This is the place to be." I think everyone has those moments where they are not absolutely loving the work, but that's okay. Even Christ asked himself in the Garden of Gethsemanee, "Let this cup pass from me" "Do I REALLY have to do this?" In a sense, we are all going through our own mini atonements. But when we step back and think about what it is we're really doing and why we are doing it--if it's for a Christ like cause--it's worth it. Every second of it. And how great the opportunity it is to learn to be like Him--our perfect Exemplar.

Never let a day go by without cherishing it.

Have an amazing week everyone.

Zaijian :)

Sister Tracy

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Charity--Just do it- October 21

Well nimen hao everybody! 
Well, it's only been a few days since I last emailed everybody but A LOT has happened in those last few days. To start, here are some funny things to report: 
1. On Saturday we visited a recent convert at her house. She made us this really yummy soup and I was freezing cold (it's starting to get colder here in Taiwan--and by cold I mean like 65 degrees hehehe) anyway, this soup was super good! Lots of veggies and bits of fish and stuff. Anyway as we were leaving the house after the lesson my companion Sister Barden said, "Wow you really liked that soup huh? Did you know there were whole guppies in that soup?" "Uhhhhhh no...." I ate GUPPY soup. Like, the whole fish! scales, eyes and all! I can officially say I have eaten fish eyes. HOW IS MY STOMACH NOT DYING ALREADY? I do not know. 

Cooler days!

2. The Elders in our area have started a new craze called, "Balloon Animal Contacting." They carry around balloons and ask people if they want a free present. They ask them what their favorite animal is and then they make a really cool balloon animal and give it to them! Then they will relate it to Gifts from God or the Creation or something and its actually a huge success. We sisters need to get more creative... 
3. After English Class there is this investigator who loves to play piano and have me dance. Its so funny. She'll be like, "Zhong jie mei!!!! Zhong jie mei!!! Tiao wu shi jian ma?" (Sister Tracy! Can we do dancing time?") I'll just basically interpretative dance to any song she plays on the piano. It really brightens her mood; not to mention it counts towards my exercise time, and I make a complete fool out of myself. But she's had a hard time lately so besides teaching the gospel, it's the best I can do for her ha-ha. 
Okay sonme other thoughts and things from the past few days: 
1. Friday was a really insane day--Shen de an pai kind of day. Shen de an pai means "God's errand" like, God sets up timing. Well we were sitting in a 7/11 eating dinner and I looked out the window and saw two of our progressing investigators walking towards me (the ones who went to church last week). They got so excited as did we! We bought them chocolate and gave them encouragement right before they took their tests. Immediately after that, another investigator who we have not been able to contact in what seems like forever walked in. We had a quick lesson with her and encouraged her to keep working on the word of wisdom and then we finally set up another appointment with her for today. Lastly, as we were getting on the bus to go teach a new investigator we ran into an old investigator who previously committed to baptism but her mom was SUPER against the church so we had to stop meeting with her. Her mom told us we were not allowed to talk to her anymore but she said nothing about hugs so right when I saw her I ran up to her and gave her a hug and she started crying. It broke my heart. I know one day she will be able to meet with the missionaries again. 
2. Saturday was nuts but super great. We had stake conference on Saturday at Shi Lin. We were at lessons literally all day so the zone leaders called us and said, "You won't be able to be home until midnight if you go back to Jilong and you need to stay the whole meeting so can you sleep over at the Nei Hu sisters' apartment?" Sister Chamberlain (my bestest MTC buddy) is a Nei Hu sister so I was super excited!!!!!! But we had been at lessons all day so meiyou banfa (no way) did we have time to run back and grab our dongxi (stuff). So we basically had to borrow everything from them ha-ha. It was so much fun! 

A clock store!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!--for you mom

One of our elder's bikes. super funny

3. Saturday was also amazing because we taught the most amazing lesson so far. We taught our progressing investigator (one of the girls we saw at 7/11) about the plan of salvation. We asked her how she thought a knowledge of the plan of salvation could change her life. I felt super impressed to tell her about Ryan and how I know he'll be resurrected one day and receive a perfect body and how that faith has changed my family for the better. Also, I showed her a picture of our family and told her about Michelle. I started telling her how a knowledge of eternal families has literally saved my family from falling apart. It was a really simple testimony but the spirit was so so so strong. She started to cry and said, "What is this feeling that I am feeling?" We told her it was the Holy Ghost which bares testimony to follow Christ. We then asked her if she was willing to follow Christ and be baptized. She said "If I can always have this feeling, then absolutely." Miracle. You know it's interesting - I have never been so open about my family before the mission. Whenever we talk about the plan of salvation I usually always bare testimony about how this plan has saved my family because its given us eternal perspective and goals to push towards. Its always invited the Spirit so I keep sharing. 
4. Lastly, I just wanted to share some thoughts on charity. At Stake Conference on Sunday we gathered at the chapel in Jin Hua right by the temple. We sat with a bunch of the ward members and young adults. I love these people. They are so faithful. They greeted me this morning and my heart just lit up because I dunno, I just love them. They are my Taiwanese brothers and sisters. I will never ever forget them. I've learned a powerful lesson here in JiLong. Charity heals everything. Honestly, if I ever catch myself in a sour mood, I've learned the key to get out of it is at the very moment I just catch myself from falling any deeper and just show love for somebody. This is how I am learning to be more like the Savior. I found myself in a bit of a bad mood yesterday and a small small small subtle feeling said, "Hug somebody." I turned to my companion and immediately gave her a hug. Both of our faces lit up as did our hearts. I felt 100X better. If we ever have a happy thought or impulse of charity we need to act on it immediately--don't miss out! The key is to act without hesitation; otherwise, you miss out, become hesitant, awkward, and then you still find yourself falling. They don't call it the "still, small voice" of the Holy Ghost for nothing. You gotta act fast, quick on your feet. Allow the Holy Ghost to teach you about charity, to teach you about Christ. Acting on impulses of charity is something that has saved me my whole mission thus far. Without it I wouldn't have met many of our new investigators or invited people to follow Christ or have the relationship with my companion that I have now. Don't doubt these feelings. I testify that all good is from God. Don't doubt, only believe. Have faith, then act. Just do it. 

K that's my invite to you all this week. If you catch yourself in a sour mood immediately do an act of charity. Trust me it works! 
K love you all :) Till next week 
Sister Tracy 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"I made Brownies with a Buddhist Monk and other interesting things about missionary life"- October 16

Hey all! So I should start out by apologizing...I was supposed to tell you last P-Day that I wouldn't be able to email this last Monday because our P-Day got changed to today (Wednesday) because today is our Temple Day! Yes, in just a few hours I will be in the Taiwan Taipei temple and I am soooooo stoked! :) But sorry if I caused any worry mom and dad...I will have P-Day on Mondays again after this so it's all good! 
WOW! So a TON of things have happened in the past week. Here is a list of cool things happening in Taiwan: 
1. Shout out to Beverly Evans...I got her letter this week and it was totally an answer to my prayers. I was feeling super inadequate two weeks ago and her letter and experience totally lifted my spirits and helped me realize that everyone feels inadequate for their callings at first. But the Lord prepares us for these things. I have no need to worry. With faith there is no fear. Thank you, Sister Evans. These past few weeks things have been exponentially better. The work is growing on me and I realize more and more every day that I am supposed to be here. 
2. Last Wednesday we had our English Class Party. SO fun! The theme was "Fall Festivus" (festivus for the rest of us). So, I was in charge of the BINGO game and I made fall themed bingo cards. Turns out that Taiwanese people love bingo. hahaha they had a blast. We also played the Joseph Smith stick pulling game (they didn't like that so much) but the elders were fun to watch as they played! We also gave them hot apple cider and it was sooooo funny because the Taiwanese were like, "What the heck is this?" They thought it was soooo weird that we heat up fruit drinks. They could not get over it. hahahaha. I love the Taiwanese soooooo much.

3. Last Thursday Sister Barden and I had temple tours. It was amazing - a day literally full of miracles. We conducted 5 tours in 5 hours--nonstop. when you do temple tours you basically show them church pictures and portraits and teach a lesson at the same time. Missionaries bring their investigators or you bring your own or you find people on the street and invite them in for a tour. We brought a less active member from our ward and she was fascinated. We showed her pictures of the inside of the temple and described the inside and she was like, "I feel so much peace...I need to go inside." Also, we taught a ton of new investigators. I invited someone to baptism for the first time and they accepted! and it's a lady from China. She said she was so excited to tell people in China about the gospel. This is such a happy message indeed. This day was just really amazing because it was hope and reassurance for me and Sister Barden that there are truly prepared spirits in Taiwan. We've had some rejections recently and felt pretty down, but on this day the Lord sent us miracles who are ready and excited to learn about this Gospel and make and keep sacred covenants. It was a testament to us that we really can do this work. 

4. Also, on temple day I met this guy and his wife who live in Okinawa, Japan. He served a mission in Taipei 10 years ago. He flies F15s in the airforce and his name is Jeff LoMeyer. He says Uncle Jim is his general!!!! He was like, "General Hecker has a Mormon niece???" haha just thought I'd throw that out there. 
5. We had a week full of miracles. We made specific goals about inviting EVERYONE (literally, everyone) to church and giving out more Books of Mormon. We have had a lot of success! 4 investigators came to church on Sunday! Oh, and it was General Conference after all so we didn't have to wait for forever! But anyway it was awesome for them to come and hear the words of our leaders and socialize with the ward members during lunch. We are working with incredible people right now. 

6. Conference was great! Favorite talks were Holland and Uchtdorf. And after all the mission talks we've had a lot of the ward members volunteer to help us teach - sooooo thankful! 

My District

7. A lady in our ward gave me Pride and Prejudice in Chinese...I'm going to send it home and I cannot wait to read it in Chinese...SOOOO COOOL :) 
8. It's transfer #2 which means I am more than 1/2 through training. Never thought that would happen!!!!! So crazy! I have 10 transfers left. On Dec 5, I will be home in a year 
Frozen yogurt  (trainee) picture

Frozen yogurt (our trainers) picture

9. There is this awesome investigator I gotta tell you guys about. His name is Zhou dixiong (but we call him Dreamer). He is an endowed Buddhist monk. He saw us missionaries from the temple and ran down and said, "I saw you in a dream!" He started meeting with us and he is all about it. He knows the Church is true and has sooooo much faith and wants to get baptized. Problem is...he's an endowed monk so he lawfully cannot get baptized. We're trying to work around it but the technicalities are out of our hands. Until we figure that out--he is literally the coolest, most spiritual person I've ever met in my life - so zen. And he likes to cook. I made brownies with an endowed Buddhist monk! 
10. The language is getting so much better. I feel the gift of tongues in my life. I can understand people a lot better now. And talking to them is a lot more natural. It's honestly a miracle. I cannot wait for you guys to hear me speak Chinese. It's so Asian and amazing and I love these people more and more every day. This is where I am meant to be!

Okay, off to the temple! Until next MONDAY :) 
Love, Sister Tracy 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Miracles Miracles Miracles- October 7

Hey nimen hao! 
Riding bikes through a typhoon is fun, HA!
Hope everyone is doing great and had a beautiful conference weekend (or is still having...I guess technically you are all watching conference right now) I didn't get to see conference yet. I will be able to see it in two weekends once they ship the Chinese translation over here. And hopefully they will ship the English one over here too. Still not for sure...I might end up attempting to watch it Chinese...oh well, haha. 
Well this week was FULL of mini miracles. Really hard week but really great. Here are a few things: 
Miracle #1: This last Tuesday we taught a lady named Zhuang Jei Mei. She is about 60 and she is Christian. She is a referral from her daughter who we met on PDay. We taught her the plan of salvation. I don't know why but I had a huge impression to talk about Michelle. So I did. I told her that I had a sister in heaven and that at first to my family life seemed really unfair. But this plan makes life totally and completely fair. It helps us make and keep sacred and eternal goals. Now, keep in mind, I explained this in broken Chinese so I don't know if it really came out this way, but it must had made some impact because the Spirit was so strong and Xhuang Jei Mei reached over and touched my shoulder and smiled and said "thank you." This small moment was a real big miracle for me. 
Miracle #2: I met a really cute mother at the hospital, Zhou Mama. She reminded me of an Asian version of Sarah Fryer ha-ha! She even had a little boy who looked like an Asian version of Saxon, crazayyy! Anyways, I talked to her for awhile and found out that she was interested in finding a new church because she had no special feelings about her parents' church. I told her about some principles of God and family. Family especially stuck out to her. The whole time talking to her, I just imagined her in temple clothes with her family. It was beautiful. I had never attempted to ask for someone's number before but I just went ahead and asked and she said yes! So hopefully, we can meet with her soon or somewhere down the road she comes unto Christ. 
Miracle #3: We have an investigator Yan Jie Mei. She is 15 and under a lot of pressure and stress because her parents are crazy strict and making her take all these tests and exams and stuff (this is actually a super common problem in Taiwan). We met with her one night right before English class and asked if she wanted a priesthood blessing from the Elders. She was really resistant at first but we made a list of the trials she had right now and it was a big list so we finally said, "Okay you need this." The Elders came in and blessed her. The blessing was very sweet and simple. Afterwards she sat there--stunned. We asked her if she was okay. She said, "I haven't felt the Holy Ghost like this in awhile. It's real. I feel so peaceful right now." She said the sweetest closing prayer afterwards, thanking Heavenly Father for sending the priesthood to this earth. What a miracle that we have Christ's authority on the earth today. 
Miracle #4: This week was really hard for me. Just lots of things are hard about this mission. It all added up to me feeling like all my weaknesses were lying on the table and that I was super inadequate for missionary work. I swear my companion was inspired to give me this Liahona Priesthood session talk by Elder Eyring called, "Preparation in the Priesthood: I Need Your Help." I need to read/watch priesthood talks more often. It answered every worry I had at the moment. I encourage everyone reading this to Google it right now. Especially if you are feeling like a huge noob at something like I was. It was about how Heavenly Father really prepares us to magnify our callings. I can't even fathom that Elder Eyring felt the same way I did as a youth...he's the most accomplished person ever! I am so thankful for the example of prophets and apostles. Their lives are miracles and the way they inspire others, young timid silly sister missionaries included, is a miracle. 

Miracle #5: Last Saturday Sister Barden and I were contacting at the harbor. We were off - really frustrated at the little things. We decided to sit down for a few minutes and just pray privately and then together. In my prayer I asked Heavenly Father, "Please, just one miracle, help us see at least one teeny tiny miracle tonight." Afterwards we stood up and I felt like we should walk towards the bus stop. So we started walking and we saw this girl sitting by herself. We sat with her and began talking casual then talking about the Gospel. We talked about prayer and showed her Alma 37:37 and then gave her a Book of Mormon. We asked her to say a prayer and her prayer was BOMB--she sounded like a member. She said, "Thank you, this is a miracle." We asked her if she usually had time on Sunday mornings. Her response was something I haven't heard a single Taiwanese person say before, "Yes, I usually do have time on Sunday mornings." WHATTTTTT? Oh man miracle miracle miracle. 

Miracle #6: Highlight of my week. On Saturday, one of our "eternal investigators" Zhen Yu, was supposed to get baptized. It was even her birthday. But her father refused to sign her permission form. So she didn't receive baptism. Yesterday during fast and testimony meeting she stood up and bore her testimony. She said last week her father asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She told him, "I want to be baptized." "I don't want you so be baptized." he said. She said she stood up and told him, "Dad, one day I will get baptized. And then I will go on a mission. I will be a missionary. I will serve. I will endure to the end." She then proceeded to talk about how the missionaries were good examples to her and changed her life. She said that we were miracles to her. If you ask me, she is more of a miracle herself than I could ever be. I am so thankful that I am able to know people like this. 
Oh wow, the small happy things are what confirm to me that this work is good. This work is truly the Lord's work, Christ's work. It is not easy, but who said salvation ever was or would be easy? I heard a quote from Elder Holland last week. "We must be prepared to walk the path that the Savior walked. This is how we come to know Him, how we come to be like Him." This really touched me. It's not an easy path. But in the eternal perspective of things, I know it will all be worth it. 

Shopping Questions:
What is this?  Google it and tell me!

More shopping stuff:
Bamboo and other weird stick thing sold at the super market
Also, green mysterious looking fruit

More Street Pictures:

Love you family and friends :) Till next Pday 
Sister Tracy