This week, I hit my year on island mark. Now when people ask me how long I've been here, I can say over a year. I got my Alien Residence Card Renewed, and my companion bought me a cheese-bake (rice with stuff in it covered in cheese, so the closest you come to a casserole in Taiwan) for my anniversary marker. I remember when I first got here, and Sister Hill would tell everyone she was just over a year in Taiwan, and they'd praise her Chinese. I remember back then, I didn't think I'd ever be able to understand what the teenage girls were gossiping about on the bus/train next to me were saying, or what people asked me in a basic sentence even at times...but here I am, understanding a large majority....watching the young woman's broadcast in Chinese...and still getting most of what they were saying. There are still works I don't understand, but when I'm diligent, I just write them down and they commit to memory after looking them up, they usually are just there. That is not how it was to start with...so I'm just here to testify that the gift of tongues is real, and that Heavenly Father really does bless us when we are doing his work.
This week was a lot of fun with conference going on. Since the Taoyuan church here that we serve at is the stake center, I saw a lot of missionaries and old Zhongli members on Saturday when it was just broadcast here. It was really awesome to see everyone. It also was just a really unique experience to watch conference with a group of missionaries. We laughed really hard, like when they called names, and 2 peoples uncles got called...then Sister Hintze, was like, "Man...everyone's uncle" then...a Carter was called, and everyone high fived Elder Carter...and we were like, "Is that your uncle?" "Nahhh.". Boys will be boys :). Yet we were reverent when the time was appropriate for silence. No crying children...no people snoozing off and bored. We were all intensely listening, and it just brought a special spirit, so even when Elder Holland brought up a serious topic, we were able to laugh at the jokes he dropped in, while still seeing the pertinence in what he was talking about. Of course the Sisters got a lot of slack and the Elders kept a watch to see that we were taking notes on what they found important...haha, but we were thankful for the counsel for us...may we be good mothers when the time comes.
This week has been a pretty good week. After e-mailing, we went to Window on China in Longtan for Preparation day. It was a lot of fun, and we were able to become a lot closer as a district as we just went and took pictures and played together at the tiny theme park. My companion had never gone before, and she loved it.; I was grateful for the opportunity to become closer to my district. They wanted to hang out again this week and go to the beach together, but I had to go to the doctor in Taipei, so that wasn't an option...but I was just really glad that they wanted us to hang out with them. At the beginning of the transfer, they didn't want to go with us, but then last week they did, and we just all became closer friends. That's important in a district. When your district is close and has unity, you pray for each other, and you just see so much success and miracles as your district works together doing this wonderful work the Lord has allowed us to do.
With investigators, we've been following up with our investigator Vera every day. Her faith is so big, but it's not easy to overcome addiction. Nicotine is killer. On Tuesday the bishop attended our lesson, and he was a great help for her. He himself understands what is is like to be addicted, so he was a great benefit to the lesson. Vera has improved a whole lot. She is almost there. She is stressed though, and I was a little at a loss for words as she cried into the phone about always giving in to Satan and how her head would feel like she needed to explode. I've never been in that experience. I can't tell her I understand at all. I've never touched what we call the "big 5" in the Word of Wisdom ever. My struggles are just that I need to more diligently exercise and I eat too much sugar especially lately...just whenever I feel stressed...kind of problems. But yeah, basically I can't really understand what it's like. I'm not going to tell her I do. But yeah, Sister Tedjamulia and I have just been really emphasizing the relationship she has with Jesus Christ, and how when nobody else can understand he can. I really love Vera, and every day, even when she doesn't do as well as she might have hoped, she commits to trying again. I know she will do it. I just know that it takes time too. So we are doing what we can to be encouraging. She's changed so much lately, and there is more of a light in her eyes. She's awesome.
We also had a really amazing lesson with Joline this week. Sister Hong came out with us, and Joline really opened to us. Before we were really worried because we thought she went to the liliangtang this church a lot of Christians here go to. We've had some not too positive encounters with people from there, because, well, they didn't like us...so we just really wanted to help Joline. She really opened up to us. She asked a ton of questions and shared about how church eventually became a negative experience for her so she hasn't attended. We hope to address more of her questions, since we had no way of getting to them all, next lesson. We also hope we can help her in developing faith so she can have positive experiences at a church and be willing to come attend. I'm excited to continue teaching her. I've taught Christians before, but never one whose understanding of the Bible is as clear as hers, but she's so willing to listen and ask questions. It's a unique experience for me here in my mission, as most people I have taught are more exposed to the Buddist or Daoist religion, and so teaching is a lot more simple, and usually doesn't get too deeply into the Bible.
Crystal's mother said she might want to wait until she is older to be baptized, since she is so young and her sister who takes her to church might go to college soon. We are now leaving it up to the members to arrange rides for her and talk to the mother, and whatever else needs to be done. We will continue working with the ward on anything they want us to do, and still visit them, but we figure this is a situation best to leave to the ward for the time being. Luckily we have a pretty awesome ward, so I'm sure things will get done.
We also had a really good lesson with Ji Rushuang this week as well. She finally opened up and shared some of the pressure and stress she had been feeling with us. It was the first time she had a question for us, so we were happy to answer her concerns. We also taught her about the sabbath day, and she will come to church this next week she said.
Also, something fun this week, was that on Thursday we did splits with some members, and Sister Zhang and I went out to visit Li Yijing. She has been coming to church for quite some time, to the wrong ward. Lately though, she's finally committed to coming to this ward, and always even brings a friend. Sister Zhang and I taught her about the plan of salvation and set a baptism date with her. She said she doesn't know if she will be prepared so fast, but she trusted us and Heavenly Father would help prepare her, and made goals, and committed to coming to church and activities. On Wednesday, we saw her and her friend, Xu Jialin, at English class, and Jialin said she didn't have a BOM, so we were able to give her one. It's great to see Jialin's interest grow as Yijin progresses. She is a great friend, and already a wonderful missionary. The members like her a lot, because she's very cute and just very interested in the gospel. She told SIster Zhang she likes to go to church because she always finds the lessons very educational and learns new things. We like hearing that.
Times running fast so that's all I'll say about investigators this week.
Tuesday we had Zone conference in Zhubei (Xinzhu county). It was a good conference. It's the first time I have been over in Xinzhu. It only became part of our mission recently. As it just so happened, all the sisters going home this transfer were all there in the same zone conference. I was happy to see Sister Kunzler giving her last zone conference testimony. She's really a sweet girl and I was glad I got to see her again. I thought when we left Jilong, i wouldn't see her again since she was going so far away, and I was staying over in Danshui, but in the end, I saw her at least 4 more times, before at zone conference we said a goodbye...for now. When she's in SC and I'm in SC, we can just set up to go to the temple the same weekend. Of all my companions, I'll probably most likely see her again.
That's pretty much all that went on this week, and the computer will turn off in 1 minute, so great timing. Haha. Love you guys!
Sister Flora Bruno.
Day 78, Ogden Enterprise
11 months ago