Monday, December 20, 2010
It's crazy that Christmas just snuck up on me. It's funny how missionaries have absolutely no concept of holidays and when they are because your mind is elsewhere. Holidays are usually a big deal for me (as you would all know!) but this year it's kinda been fun to not have to do all the waiting and all the sudden they pop up! I thought I was sending my Christmas gift to you all really early, but it's a good time I sent it when I did otherwise I wouldn't have had the opportunity to send it on time. Wow, it's been so crazy to move SO much over the last 2 months. I'm excited to finally be able to stay put for a while! President Bishop said that he tends to keep missionaries in areas longer so I finally felt ok about unpacking my bags completely :)
Upon arrival in Taiwan there were SO many memories that came flooding back to me. I didn't realize that I would be landing in the same airport that we always flew into as a family! I could vividly remember when we moved here the second time and the moment I stepped outside I felt like I was going to drown by breathing because it was so humid! Luckily this time around it wasn't that humid... either that or I'm just used to it now. :) The drive down to TaiZhong was also so fun. Sister Fleming and I got really personalized time with President and Sister Bishop because we got here separately from the rest of the missionaries in our transfer. While we were talking I really enjoyed looking outside and remembering the roads, sights and everything. I felt so at home, like this wasn't new to me at all. There was even a part of the road where I thought to myself, "Hmm, LeoFoo Village should be somewhere around here," and not 10 seconds later we saw the sign for it! Everything from the signs, traffic, white tile buildings, window guards, light switches, plants, and the smell of the mission home were just screaming "You're in TAIWAN!" to me the whole ride home and the moment we arrived at the mission home.
It seems like I've been here a lot longer than a week, but maybe that's just because in reality I've spent years here! But here are some adventures we've been having since I arrived. First off is street contacting, where we talk to people on scooters every single time we stop at a red light. It's kinda crazy and there's so much that you want to say but you only have 30 seconds to say anything! I just have to remember that when I have the Spirit with me He will guide me to say what each person needs to hear, and that I shouldn't be discouraged if people reject the message. My job as a missionary is to find those who are prepared and willing to listen. If I have to talk to 100 people to find that one person, my work will not have been in vain.
It's truly been a miracle that the Lord has blessed me with confidence to do what I thought would be intimidating things. It's interesting to compare my feelings on my mini-mission in Hong Kong to now as a set-apart missionary. Things that scared me to death (particularly contacting people on the street and calling people on the phone) are not as scary as they once were. I feel like the Lord is dissolving my comfort zones so I can overcome my fears and work in faith and love instead. By no means am I perfect, and there are still times where I'm scared to do things, but I know that those things can be overcome. That is one of my biggest goals on my mission: to be able to say I've done all the Lord has asked me to do. I'm slowly learning what that requires, and slowly overcoming my inhibitions and fears to rely on His strength to do what He requires of me.
I got to try boiled bamboo for lunch today, which was not bad, but I don't know if I'll ever order it on my own accord again. I feel like I'm getting much more of the Chinese food experience than I ever have before, which is definitely eye-opening, and exciting at times, haha :)
My companion, Sister Weinheimer, is so awesome. She has been such a wonderful trainer, showing an incredible example of diligence, love, teaching with simplicity and power, and following the Spirit. She helps me learn very well and is incredibly encouraging and helpful. I love her so much and am learning so much from her, especially how to show love for people through missionary work. We have a lot of the same goals and feelings about missionary work, so it's a huge blessing to be so unified in purpose. We're helping each other grow a lot.
I've already seen several miracles happen. The two that are most apparent are 1. having no trouble with jetlag, and 2. being able to understand and communicate more than I thought I would be able to. Never in all my years of travel have I ever been void of the effects of jetlag, but this time it's as if I didn't even change time zones at all. Truly a miracle and a huge blessing in my eyes so I could get straight to the work. I'm definitely seeing the gift of tongues unfold as well. There were several times this week where I thought to myself "I should not be able to understand this right now, but I am." There is still a lot that I don't understand, or can't say, but I know that if I've seen this much growth in the first few days of being here that I will be able to progress a LOT by the end of my mission.
I had a special blessing in my setting apart that I would master the language in a short amount of time. I know that in order to receive that blessing I have to work hard in exercising my faith to obtain it. This week I've been working on an intense language study plan that I know will push me, but I'm relying on faith and miracles to help me learn and grow and obtain that blessing.
Already I've started receiving inspiration for our investigators. 2 particular times come to mind where Sister Weinheimer asked me "is there anything you think we should teach?" and very specific things came to mind. I'm so grateful for the Lord helping our companionship to meet the needs of our investigators. I'm so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve Him and do His work. The Lord has been blessing me richly already, and I'm so excited to work hard and see the fruits throughout my mission.
The Christmas season has been wonderful for me so far. Before I left Idaho I got to go to an incredible Night of Nativities put on by the church kinda like the one in Hong Kong where they had all sorts of nativities set up from around the world... except it was huger and better! They had close to 600 nativities from ALL OVER the world. It was particularly special to see nativities from countries that are not currently open to the gospel such as China, and countries in the Middle East and Africa. Christ is one central figure that all cultures celebrate. As I saw those nativities displayed, the Spirit really touched me that Jesus Christ really is the Savior of the world. Not just Christians or countries that have His gospel, everyone. No matter the culture, race or religious beliefs, Christ has sacrificed His life for all that we might be able to repent, change our lives for the better, and be worthy of all the blessings Heavenly Father wants to give His children. As I've been able to focus more on the real reason for the Christmas season, my life has been richly blessed. It is one of the biggest blessings of my life to be serving Christ full-time right now, with all my heart, might, mind and strength.
I love you all more than I can say. I hope that this Christmas is not sad because I'm not there, but instead, gives you a greater reason to focus on Christ. That's who I'm serving, and as you learn about and serve Him this Christmas season, you'll be having Christmas with me, in spirit. I've been so incredibly happy to hear about your 12 Deeds of Christmas. Each time I hear more about them it warms my heart that yes, indeed, my family has been focusing on serving others as Christ did. As you continue coming closer to Him, you'll be able to feel His love--the love I'd like to send to you this Christmas.
All my love,