You know what? Yesterday Dieter F. Uchdorf came to our mission...and spoke to us...and between the meeting with us missionaries and the member meeting, it hit me that I am going home. I guess it hit with perfect timing because I had promised my companion we would not even focus on that I was going home until after all the baptisms...and, they all happened. The baptism by water and the baptism by fire...and only hours later listening to a prophet of the Lord speak to us about how going home was both a happy and a sad thing...and to not waste;our time, it hit me that my time was one more week. Don't get me wrong, it's not like that I think that my mission is over...I will put my heart into this week as much as I can...but now with this Preparation day, and me interviewing with President Sunday...I have the exit interview letter to write...stuff to pack...and about10 people who have reminded me a couple times that if I don't write for their mission bye bye books they will be sad...I've got my lunches and dinners...nights and mornings all cut out for me! But yeah, it hit me yesterday and it was kind of a weird feeling. The last two weeks I said I'd let myself feel that way, but it didn't dawn on me that I really WOULD until it happened. Crazy crazy. I'll have a lot of decisions encountering me when I get home, with the news of the economy, etc etc....but all and all, if I have learned one thing on my mission, it is that Heavenly Father loves me and I will be okay. So onto the stuff you guys all actually want to hear instead of my whole mind thought process...That stuff is boring.
This week was a pretty good week, but it really gave me a testimony about just how many people are prepared to hear this gospel. At this point, everyone who we meet with who starts progressing are given baptismal dates...they almost all are progressing, and a good portion of them are getting into coming to church habits. We met a lady named Huang Shijin just 2.5 weeks ago. She's already come to church twice, and came with her son to the Uchdorf member meeting yesterday. After attending the baptism Saturday, felt she was ready to set a date and prepare for it. Her son set a date as well. He was the cutest kid I ever met. He'd really never heard of Heavenly Father before. So we explained to him prayer and Heavenly Father...to which mother had to speak in very very layman terms and explain to him that there was a spirit inside of him and that Heavenly Father was his father of that, and that she was the mother of his body. I guess he prayed in the car all the way home to get to know Heavenly Father, then when he got home he told his father he had something called a spirit and that it was inside of him and that's what helped him think and went on and on about it. Haha. His dad was pretty much just like...okay...but to hear Shijin tell us about her son I was just super touched. To know that we are teaching a 9 year old child about his Heavenly Father is amazing. I know this knowledge will help him for the rest of his life. This gospel is TOO amazing. Seriously.
On Tuesday we had the fun experience on going on splits with the members. I've heard this happens a ton in the states, but here in Taiwan it is a rare thing. I've only done it twice. We have members come and attend our lessons a good amount...but splitting is something that is rare...However, especially back when we were three people, President had told us we had 2 very experienced missionaries in one area and we should use this to help the area grow...so we arraigned with a member going on her mission soon...and with one of my recent converts Whitney to do splits. That day we had too many appointments to cover ourselves so it seemed perfect. We gave Whitney and I all the church appointments, and the responsibility to go drop off some notes not too far from the church...and my companion and Caitlin Zhuo (who is going to Manchester England) took the bikes and did some house visits. In the end, quite a few people ended up canceling and changing appointments...but it was still a super great exchange. I think Whitney had a really good time. They attended District Meeting with us...which was fun, 10 people in our district that week! We already have a huge district...hehe. Then, we did role plays during District of course. Me, I'm not a HUGE role play fan. I'll do them, because they help your teaching and your plans and they are an improvement opportunity...but I'm never like...YES..role play time. I'm just like...okkkaaay role play. But Whitney loved them. Haha, so cute, it helped me appreciate role plays more, because she was like, "Is district meeting always like that? It was so fun! They taught us how to be missionaries and all those games were super fun." Haha and then role plays were games. So yeah, Tuesday was a really good experience. It helped our week a lot, because we weren't in our area most of Wednesday or Sunday...because we had Zone Conference this week, as well as the Uchdorf thing.
So yeah, Wednesday was my last Zone Conference. It was a little strange to me to be in the zone conference I was in. My name wasn't even on there to give my farewell testimony...but President announced that my name was on Xinzhu's list and I would be up there with the other 16 missionaries going home to bear our testimony. He also asked us to all have good attitudes about the emergency transfers taking place in our mission. He clearly announced that they would still be taking place and that you should love your area and cherish it, because you could be leaving tomorrow. I learned a lot from this last 2 weeks. I can safely say this changed my entire mission. So I really respected that President came out and told us that transfers were happening, would continue to be happening..and to trust him. I think that helped a lot of people who kept wondering what was happening. It helped me too. It was really cool to have 17 of us bearing our testimonies....out of the 25 leaving, there was a large chunk in that conference. I listened attentively to these Elders and Sisters. I felt the spirit strongly as they bore their testimonies. I was a little nervous myself to get up because I felt like I was going to cry...and I hate crying!...but I just teared up for a minute...was silent for a second, then pulled myself together...haha. I was SO not a crier before my mission, but I am totally more prone to crying these days. I wonder if it's a growing up thing, or a missionary thing. We'll see.
And then Saturday....Saturday was a special day. SO much stress...but exciting too! It was a little cramped for time with a baptism scheduled for 4 at one church, and the next one at 6...but a member took us to the church and we got there by 5:15. Everything worked out pretty good. It was an special day. It was the first time on my mission I saw so many baptisms in one day. I'm sure other missionaries have...but it was my first time...and the ward was excited. Especially Xinpu, because 3 of the baptisms were in Xinpu and the ward members were just really excited...and you could feel their excitement. I felt so much love on that day...and it was a special experience to be a part of, I felt the spirit strongly as they got up and shared their testimonies after their baptism...but hands down my favorite part was the next day, as they got the gift of the Holy Ghost, to hear the blessings that Heavenly Father had in store for three of his beloved daughters who had entered in by the way. I was a little sad we didn't get to see Wu Sijing's confirmation...but there was no way to be at both wards that day, because we had to leav Missionary meeting with Uchtdorf...but that was probably pretty super awesome too.
Well, I would tell you all about what Uchtdorf told us missionaries...but there is too much. I'll give dad my planner with the notes in it next week and he can transcribe if he so wishes. But I will mention one thing he said that actually, I strongly agree with, because in my first interview with President Nielson...back in the day...he told me that we were all God's Investigators. I spent a long time understanding lesson one principle one in relation and terms to me. I wanted to know that my life and what I did was because I loved God...and to love God, I needed to truely understand my relationship with him. It was an interesting thing, and I'm still learning...but it really struck me when Uctdorf said, "Be your first and strongest convert. I know that I do not want to be a Sunday Latter-day Saint. I don't want to just act like a member, but BE a member. I'm still in a process. I think it will take a lifetime. I'm more used to reading my scriptures and praying daily, but sometimes it still isn't the most earnest I could be. I still have TONS of room for improvement. My whole life, I've believed that a mission is just another step in our spiritual growth. I doubt I will think this mission is the most spiritual stage of my life...because I believe every day I become better, but I've definitely learned a lot. I'm still the basic core of who I am and was in the past, but I'm better in some ways, and more experienced in others. This is a wonderful work. I'm grateful for my time here in Taiwan. I'm grateful I still have some time left.
I'll see you all next week. I love you. Make sure you are at the airport in time. We leave Taiwan at 11:30 at night on Tuesday. I have a layover in California and then another one in North Carolina...then last I fly into Charleston I believe I should arrive at 10ish on Wednesday morning after about 22 hours of travel...That is not good if you do not have that information. They have the email@example.com email....it should have been sent there. If you do not have it yet, please call the mission home as soon as possible and get that information. Also, please inform the bishop and stake president of my coming home. I would like to be released on that Wednesday if possible, I think it would be weird to just bum around home as a missionary too long. Missionaries don't bum around, but I'd like to for a day or two. HAHA. Also I want to make sure everything is good for my homecoming on Sunday. I want our family to do a musical number too. Is that possible? Can you ask?
Sister Flora Bruno
Day 78, Ogden Enterprise
11 months ago