Monday, December 5, 2011
Gang Shan... The Final Frontier... To Go Where No Sister Has Gone Before
Guess what?! I'm opening a new area!! I got the call on Saturday night that my new companion, Sister Zhu (who has been serving nearby so I know her well already), and I would be moving to Gang Shan together to open the area for Sisters. President Bishop said that the Branch is small but has been growing rapidly and he gave us the special mandate to baptize enough people that they would have to split because the chapel is too small! What an adventure! Of course I was absolutely heartbroken to leave where my heart has been for the past 7 months, but Sister Zhu and I are excited for this special assignment.
This past week has been wonderful. I got to go on Sister Exchanges with Sister Vandegrift (from West Bountiful, Utah), who is a trainee. She is so sweet and it was so wonderful to be able to encourage her and assure her that she was doing a wonderful job as a missionary. I remember what it was like--it's stressful being a new missionary! Trying to get a handle on everything all at once. It was a precious opportunity to serve and strengthen her, and make a new friend. We had a great time, including having a REAL Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to a less active here who is from America (of course Sister Gibson was bummed she missed out on that one). It was SOOOO good and I was shocked that it was so "feng fu" (plentiful) even though he's a single man and an English teacher, and he'd never cooked Thanksgiving dinner before! It was just like home :) ... well, almost. We got enough leftovers to have 3 more rounds over the next week!
It was heartbreaking to leave everyone yesterday, especially my recent converts. Zhou jie mei was so hilarious, as she always is, and brought us cold, smushed apple pies from McDonalds that I'm sure were a day old, wrapped in felt so they were all hairy when we unwrapped them, HAHA. She often brings us random food from what seems like McDonalds but has been re-packaged and re-distributed, sometimes as free-floating chicken nuggets amongst some hamburgers and then a few more buns with just mayo on them! It makes Sister Gibson and I laugh so hard every time. We find it quite endearing. Anyway, she shared a precious testimony about how her conversion all started because I loved her so much. She started treating her family differently and then when they, in turn, treated her differently as well, whe wondered why and then realized it was because of the influence of the gospel. She said she was so touched that I would say I love her every day, and through that love she was able to feel God's love. Now she's a strong, active member and absolutely loves the gospel and wants to share it with her family. That was such a tender moment for me. Lin jie mei (the one with cancer who most recently got baptized) also cried when we had to say goodbye. I love her so much! I'm so grateful the Lord blessed me to be able to serve in San Min for so long and to be a part of these precious people's lives.
Today has also been a HUGE blessing moving from San Min to Gang Shan. Heavenly Father helped the packing go smoothly, and all the last minute things we had to get done before I left were also completed in good time. Sister Zhu and I met at our apartment and traveled together, with Sister Gibson (we dropped her off at the train station to meet her next companion, who is my previous companion Sister Smith who got booted out after 2 1/2 weeks for Sister Gibson to be trained here... but now she gets to come back!) on the MRT, with our bikes. It was quite the adventure! We were so excited when we got off the subway and saw our new area, and we were surprised it was a little cooler as well. We're definitely getting out the winter clothes!
Even though we had absolutely no idea where we were going, we found our house very quickly (asking for people's help on the road). It is such a nice apartment! It will be really nice to have a completely new start here. We had to go get a few supplies (broom, pillows, stuff like that) and by the end of our shopping trip we had accumulated so much stuff that there was no way to get it home on our bikes, but the miracle was that the people at the store offered to take it home for us. We were shocked! Heavenly Father is already blessing us so much. I've just never seen so many huge cockroaches in my life!
I love you all, and I'm glad you all got to attend the Christmas Devotional together.
All my Love,