Sunday, February 23, 2014

You are great!- February 24, 2014

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for the Happy Birthday wishes! It was an awesome week! I can feel your love from halfway across the world :) 
Sister Johansen, my wonderful companion!

Cool things from this past week: 
~RUNNING. I am so so so so happy because God sent me a companion who loves long distance running and the outdoors and exploring. So my beautiful comp, Sis Johansen, and I have decided to get up at 5:50 and go running all around Hualien every morning. IT'S A BLAST. I've seen the most beautiful things here. This place is seriously the best of all worlds. We've run by oceans, canals, parks, mountains, everything. It rocks! I love this place. I am telling everyone that I want to die here. I want to die and retire here. It's paradise. 

Beautiful Fields and Mountains

A cemetery in Taiwan--shrines for the dead

~Book of Mormon. I finished it. My testimony in it has been reaffirmed. I know that it is a true book and it can change lives. I encourage everyone to read it! A power will flow into your lives like you've never imagined!

~I am now reading the Bible all the way through. I bought a cute mini Chinese/English Bible and I am loving it! I'm starting to get into reading characters! :) So much fun.

~Packages. I got a bunch this week! Thank you family, Nina, the Hsu Family, and the Merrell Family! I have soooooo much chocolate and trail mix and literally I have 4 jars of Nutella. I will never go hungry again!
note on mail: now that I live in a faraway place its going to take even longer for me to get mail. So don't be surprised if I don't respond for a few months.

~Qiao Men. Sis Johansen and I have had the wackiest adventures this week qiao mening (knocking doors) Contacting here compared to contacting in JiLong is completely different. This is because most people here live in houses and large plantations and not a lot of people are out and about on the street. JiLong is a HUGEEEE city with tons of people on the streets. You just have to jump on people. Here it is a lot more lax. I like it a lot more. We went up to this village in the mountains the other day to contact. SOOOO much fun. Lots of animals (dogs, cats, pigs, birds, cows) were everywhere. We've had a lot of success in finding families up in those mountains that want to hear the Gospel. Lots of miracles on the way! 

A random cat
We contacted these woodshop people. So awesome. 
A dog that follows us, I named him Spunky

~Birthday. My birthday was really fun! My companion made me a banana milk shake and we ate star fruit. Also, at night my companion secretly got a few of the young women to buy a TARO CAKE for me and throw me a surprise celebration :) My favorite! Later at night I opened my packages. It was a great day :) 

Taro Cake! Yummy

My birthday dinner! The elders in our district made these realy random balloons and threw them on me!

~JEFFREY HOLLAND! So on Saturday we traveled for 5 hours to get up to Taipei and meet JEFFREY R HOLLAND. It was a miraculous experience that I will never ever ever forget. First thing we did was all the missionaries in Taipei got together and we stood in this auditorium in the Jin Hua chapel. I got to lead the music for the meeting. We sang "Hark All Ye Nations" as the general authorities walked in. First, Sister Holland walked in, then all of a sudden he was there. Elder Holland. My heart immediately lit up. I just had this overwhelming feeling--the same feeling I had after finishing the Book of Mormon this past week--the same confirmation feeling of the Holy Ghost--Yes, this is a man of God. We all took a mission photo with him and the general authorities--Elder Hallstrom and Elder Wilson and Elder Gong. So cool! Then we got to shake their hands. As it was approaching my turn to shake Elder Holland's hand I was frantically thinking in my head, "Oh man, this is a once in a life time chance to say ANYTHING to him. What should I say?" Suddenly it was my turn and I looked him right in the eye and said, "Hey! You're great!" He laughed and said, "Actually YOU'RE great, Sister Tracy!" ha-ha cool. I also told Elder Wilson that his glasses were cool. They were...The meeting with them was so inspirational. Something that really hit me hard was when Elder Holland was talking about the blessings from a mission and he pounded the pulpit and said, "You have NO IDEA. Literally, NO IDEA what the Lord has in store for you all." He also made a big point about how the leaders of this Church have given their lives for this Gospel, "This is not a fairy tale. Do you think we would give up all these things for a fairy tale? No. This gospel is true. This mission is not a fairy tale. This mission is REAL LIFE. It is the realest life you are ever going to live because this is the closest to living the truth that you are going to get to on earth." It is was really powerful. He talked a lot about being converted. I'd say that was the real take home message. What it means to be converted. What it means to align your will with the Lord's, it means living a life that actually matters. 
At the end of the meeting I was sitting on the stand and Elder Holland came up to me and shook my hand to thank me for leading the music. He whispered in my ear, "Remember Sister Tracy, you really are great." Hands down, coolest moment in my life. 

A sign they made for us at the Elder Holland Mission conference

This mission is the most precious time of my life. Its turned my life right side up. This Gospel can do that for everyone. 

The Hualien Chapel!

Love you all!
Sister Tracy 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Gonna Be Okay- February 17, 2014

I had the most amazing miracle happen to me this week...ready for it...? 
I got transferred to my dream place, HUALIEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Hualien is the HAWAII of Taiwan. In the mission people call it "the Promised Land." All this last week I had a big impression that I was going to move to the East coast. Even my companion Sister Zippro had the same impression. At transfer meeting as soon as the image on the screen popped up "Hualien Zone" and there was an empty space for a girl companionship, Sis Z said to me, "Its going to be you." and I said "I know." Then it was there!!!!!!! I am so blessed to be here!!!!!!!!!!! 

Ji An

It is BEAUTIFUL here. I am living in a city called Ji An. Its VERY VERY VERY different from Taipei. Not a lot of city. Very rural. Many many farms. I live by the beach and the mountains. It's the most beautiful place I've ever been to in my life. It's sunny and warm. President Day told me that this transfer was going to be a time of peace for me and that God was rewarding me for the things I've been through here in Taiwan. SWEET. My new companion is Sister Johanson. She is from Provo Utah and she is AWESOMEEEEEEEEEE. She is everything I want to be. She loves me and I love her. :) She likes to run! Today we went running for an hour by the beach! She also loves outdoors so today we are going hiking! YAY!!!!! We work really really really well together. We also live with the sister training leaders in Hualien. One of them is my "grandma" (my trainer's trainer). She's a native. And the other is a hilarious girl from Utah who's been out for awhile too. I love them. 

Sister Johanson

Yesterday was awesome. We had 4 baptisms! Three of them were these kids from a really rough family situation. They basically take care of themselves. The ward members here rock and are really reaching out to them. On the day of their baptism Sister Johanson and I woke up at 6am and biked to their house to help them get dressed and ready to go to Church. It's 30 min bike ride and I am borrowing a bike with no seat - quite the work out. When we got there the kids weren't home. So we biked frantically around the entire block asking everyone if they had seen them. It took 1.5 hours. We stopped to say a prayer asking Heavenly Father to know what to do. When we were done, this old man taking a walk came up to us and said, "Hey! Its gonna be okay!" Sister Johanson smiled cuz we both just had a good feeling that they would get baptized. We got a call from the oldest daughter saying that they wouldn't be able to come to church and get baptized cuz their mom got in a car accident. We biked super fast to the hospital (30 mins away) and met up the with kids. The mom is okay, she had to get a few stitches but she said, "I want my kids to be baptized today. Can you help them get to church?" HECK YEAH! So we helped them get ready and then we called a member and they eventually made it and got baptized! It was a beautiful baptism! Yes everything WAS okay!!! Sometimes you just gotta slow down a sec and turn to God. Ask Him. Just do it. He will help. Everything sooner or later will be okay. Just have faith. 

We made it! It's gonna be Okay!

Four wonderful Baptisms!

I really miss my friends in JiLong. But I know other missionaries will keep the work there strong. And I will definitely see them again someday.
I have never been happier in my whole mission. This is a special place. God really does lift us up.
Love you all!
Sister Tracy
p.s. It's super weird that I am gonna be adult status this week - no more teens!
pss. I got a package from Mom and Lynn Merrell. I will open it this Thursday :) 

Monday, February 10, 2014

AND THE APOSTLE IS..................- February 10, 2014

Hello family and friends!!!! 
Amazing week! 
#1 first and foremost: 
You guys have no idea how excited I am! I get to sit near Elder Holland next Saturday and shake his hand and everything! I am super duper oober stoked. I legitimately prayed that the apostle would be him. Best birthday present ever! 
#2 I survived guo nian! 7 meals later and I am still okay. Telling everyone I was a vegetarian saved my life because they didn't give me oober amounts of food. Instead, they force fed the elders lol. 

Our investigator's family and us at guo nian

#3 The duck is FINALLY GONE
#4 I have decided that Taro is my new favorite vegetable. Not only is it my favorite color--Purple--but they have a lot of yummy desserts here made from Taro and it's amazing. I've also decided that I want a Taro cake for my wedding.
#5 Sister Zippro and I are seriously Nephites. On Monday we went to this investigator's house and had guo nian dinner. We planned on sharing Lesson 2 with her and her parents--turned out her entire extended family was there and they were all drinking beer and laughing at us. I was super duper intimidated at first. Then I said a prayer and looked and Sister Zippro and she said, "Let's sing." So we asked if we could sing a hymn for them. We sang, Lead Kindly Light. Then we just stood in front of them all and started teaching and testifying about the plan of salvation. We got laughed at and made fun of. We asked our investigator to read from 3 Nephi for us. She took the scriptures and started reading them out loud jokingly, then as she kept reading she got a little more serious and started to get quieter. The Spirit really entered the room. She started reading about Christ preaching to the people in the Americas and when she handed the scriptures back to us she said, "Hey, this is really cool." When we left the house she walked with us to the bus stop and apologized and said, "Thank you for sharing that. I feel good about your message." Though the rest of the family still thought we were really weird we still went forward like Nephi or Abinadi or Ammon and just preached anyways, and we ended up affecting someone. It was a real life Book of Mormon Story!
#6 We had some amazing miracle investigators come out of nowhere and set baptismal dates:

A. Jian Grandpa. We contacted him a month ago at a train station. He is this extremely old man who has been a Christian for 50 years. He speaks Taiwanese more than Chinese and he's basically deaf. It's really hard to communicate with him but we managed to invite him to a baptism. He came! Then he invited us to come to his house. So we did! And we brought a few of the members from our own ward to help us teach the lesson. Basically the lesson went like this--we taught a principle, he wouldn't hear us, the member would reteach whatever we just said only say it in Taiwanese. Then he would understand. Haha. This was basically the whole lesson. But here was the miracle. When I recited the Joseph Smith's first vision he looked at me the whole time and smiled. When I finished the member asked him, "do you need translation?" Jian Grandpa said, "No I understand. I know what she is saying is true." The Spirit really does speak to all. And there is a real power behind the words of Joseph Smith.

B. Chen Mei Fang: a former investigator who called me randomly and knew my name and asked to meet with us. She met with us last week and said, "I want to be baptized. God has healed my mother from cancer. This is something I have been praying about recently and it miraculously happened. I know I need to baptized now." "Uh...okay!" So now she has a date set and she is soooo incredible!

C. Lai Jie Mei: She was a referral from our Sister Training leaders. I literally met her two days ago. She is a Taiwanese girl version of Joseph Smith. She has been looking for truth her whole life. The day before she met the missionaries she read James 1:5-6--just like Joseph Smith...she said a prayer that she would find the truth. Then she met the missionaries and they taught her about the restoration. She knew Heavenly Father had led her to truth. She is getting baptized next week...
#7 I really really really don't want to leave JiLong. I love these people way too much. And I love my companion. We are in the middle of all of these miracles and there's a chance one of us will leave soon. This Wednesday night we'll know for sure what's gonna happen. I have a feeling I am going to move really far away. I don't want tooooooooo.

#8 I had a really sad moment the other day. I realized that in 2 weeks I will be halfway done with my mission. How can that possibly be? I just got here. I have so much more to learn! I haven't accomplished as much as I want to! This is a real motivator to work harder and love every day more and more. This is the most miraculous time of my life.
#9 Also, I turn 20 next week....what the heck!!...ADULT STATUS

Went bowling last P-day! Classic.

#10 I love you all
Till next time! This Sister Clock needs to get tick tockin!
Sister Tracy 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy New Year!!!!! (Chinese style)- January 3, 2014

Hey there family and friends! 
Happy New Year!!!!! Yes it is finally here, Chinese New Year. (Guo nian) Lately life has been crazy. This past week was full of challanges. Especially since during guo nian people are extremely busy. Its been nearly impossible to meet with anyone. All of our investigators are out of town or have too many family activities. Which is fine because family comes first but at the same time its extrememly inconvienient for us missionaries. 

Happy Guo nian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Chinese New Year!

An old lady gave us a present, 1000 year egg...i ate a little. NASTY

Some things from this week:

~To help us out (since all food places are pretty much closed down) the members made a calendar to feed us missionaries for the week. This is extremely kind but at the same time extremely difficult because the Chinese love love love to feed us. So much that they force feed you. They will put all this food in your bowl without even asking, they just want you to keep eating and eating and eating ha-ha. I have found a solution to this though. The trick is to just eat extremely slow and tell everyone that you are a vegetarian. Because most of the food is heavy things of meat and fish and stuff. But if you say "bu hao yi si wo shi chi su de ren." (sorry, I'm a vegetarian) they go a little easier on you. That's the only way I've been able to survive so far. Also the elders help us eat the food. I feel bad for them sometimes though because they get force fed like crazy. Last dinner we had the member put a huge slab of cinnamon roll on this elder's plate (and when people put the food on your plate/bowl you have to eat the whole thing or else its impolite) It was like as big as his head. He ate the whole thing! so sad ha-ha.

~We've had cool opportunities teaching member's family members who are not members. Because during guonian the whole family gets together. So we've been able to introduce the Book of Mormon to a lot of people and it's been really cool.

~Oh yeah and I bought a ukelele because I miss music. I hope that's okay... it's pretty! I named it Tina. (After one of our Rcs)

~Today we cleaned the apartment and I killed an entire nest of cockroaches that I found living behind the sink. Talk about ghetto. I think I killed about 50 of them.

~President Day asked me to conduct the music for Mission Conference on February 22. And guess what--an Apostle and 70 are coming. Pres Day said that I would be able to sit really close to them! I'm so excited!!

~We had a cool experience the other day. We visited our Ward mission leader's home and taught his mom (an LA) His older brother who is not a member was also there. We shared a message about sacrament. We asked the older brother to join us and at first he was like, "I wanna watch Spongebob" but eventually he sat with us and listened to our message. I handed him a Book of Mormon and asked him to read 3 Nephi 18 with us. As he helped us read out loud he started to get a little more involved in the lesson and asking us questions and stuff. He eventually said, "I want to go to Church but I smoke and can't stop." We told him that through Christ we are able to make any changes in our life. "Really..? That's kind of cool," he said. He is our new investigator now!

~I gave a talk in Sacrament yesterday on sacrament. I invite everyone to read 3 Nephi 18--look at the blessings. Through sacrament we are promised to be spiritually filled, we are promised to be protected from evil influences, we are promised to have a strong foundation. Aren't those things that we want? Let's not forget these beautiful promises that Heavenly Father is dying to give us because He just loves us that much. Everyone go to church! And pray that the people in Taiwan will go to church as well :)

Love you all! Transfers are next week. Any guesses what will happen to me? 

My best friend Cora leaving for winter break :(

my shoes finally died

Sister Tracy