Monday, October 17, 2011
Just Over a Year!
Thanks so much for being patient with me about last week. I'm so sorry I didn't get the chance to write a really good letter! But I'm going to make up for it this week and write a really good one :) There's so many happy and exciting things that have happened, as well as some heart breaks. That's how life goes (especially as a missionary), but that's why I'm so grateful for the gospel to put everything into an eternal perspective. And the joyful moments sure do outweigh the heartbreaks!
Last Monday we attended a wonderful stake exercise activity with our two wards. It was SOOO fun and we were able to make stronger relationships with the ward members and have extra opportunities to talk to them about missionary work. The funny part was that I didn't realize I should've brought shorts to run in the races (because President Bishop has asked us to wear proselyting clothes whenever at all possible), but two of the Sisters in the Yuan Shan ward were willing to switch their pants for our skirts, haha. I won't ever forget that! (You can see in one of the pictures that Ti mama, to my right, is wearing my skirt, hehe). I was delighted to be able to run in the relays for both wards simultaneously (at different parts of the race for each ward) and had a little scare when I realized that I had to sprint to the opposite side of the field in order to get to the part of the track I needed to be at to pick up the second baton! But I got there just in time and ran my heart out for that ward, even though I didn't get a rest in between. :) What a wonderful preparation day!
One of the most joyful moments was my dear Zhou jiemei getting baptized! I discovered her in our former investigator records and for some reason hers had a picture of her attached. Most of the record was in Chinese so I couldn't read all of it, but for some reason I was really drawn to her record. I called her up and as soon as I started talking to her I instantaneously fell in love with her, and I could hardly wait to meet her the next week when she would come to church. Now, about 2 months later, my love has only grown as I've seen her develop her faith and make courageous choices to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She threw away all her coffee and tea, read the Book of Mormon the entire week she was sick, has become enthralled with family history work and even made us lunch for in between conference sessions :) I LOVE HER!!! Her baptism was absolutely beautiful with people that were special to her there. Since then she's just been bouncy and smiley and even more faithful than ever before. Oh, how I love my recent converts :)
The other highlight was one that is old news for you all, haha. General Conference was AMAZING!!!! So many of my heart's questions were addressed and really gave me encouragement. You know me... sometimes my perfectionistic tendencies get a little in the way, but the talks from the servants of the Lord helped me know that I was doing a great work. I especially appreciated all the encouragement given to both current and returned missionaries and how they are treasures of the church. So many of the talks spoke to my heart and gave me great tools to refine my skills as a missionary, and as a parent and teacher for the rest of my life. I loved Elder Richardson's talk on teaching after the manner of the Spirit. That has made a huge impact on the way we teach here and on the kind of person I'm striving to become. What a wonderful feast and outpouring of love from our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Last Monday was Double 10 day, Taiwan's independence day, which also marked the day I gave my farewell talk... and this past Thursday marked one year since entering the MTC, as you already knew :) It's so CRAZY to think of all that's happened since then, and how much I've learned and grown! I know mom asked what I did to celebrate the monumental day and I feel kind of silly to admit that we didn't really do anything, haha. It was a really busy day of missionary work!! But there was one special part of the day. Sister Gibson and I went to a special meeting for the trainers and trainees, at which Sister Flemming and her trainee were there, too! (Dad--no, I'm not still with Sister Smith. After 2 1/2 weeks of being together she got transferred when I got the call to train Sister Gibson. Crazy, I know!) When the meeting ended Sister Flemming and I marveled at the fact that exactly a year ago that day we were just meeting each other for the first time--our first day in the MTC. With not much more than a hug and a "happy anniversary" we then went back to work! It's great being a missionary, expecially with some of the dearest friends I've ever had :)
I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve. I'm sad I can't be there to help out more at home through all the tough times, but I'm praying more fervently for each of you and I'm trusting that the Lord will bless you in my absence (He'll have a more powerful effect than I ever could). I love you all dearly and I KNOW that enduring is hard, but brings incredible blessings "if you endure it well." I know the gospel is true and that Heavenly Father lives and loves us. Just re-read Elder Uchtdorf's conference talk if you need a reminder :)
All my love from across the world,