May 23, 2013

Taiwan Zuoying- 5/20/13

Hey family and friends!!

It's already been a week and a half since I've been here in Zuoying!! It was so good to skype and see all your faces, especially Jon Jon's.  haha JK.  I loved seeing all of you!!

Ok, so the first few days here in Taiwan were so crazy!! I think I was really anxious about the language and the people, and basically everything.  Things have settled in here, and I am SUPER comfortable now.  I feel like I'm at home.  The food is great, my companion is amazing, and the members here are so awesome.  There are so many cute Asian children over here.  It's so fun to give them little letters and candy.  They love that I'm from America and have a weird sense of humor.  ahhaha I also love all the adults and members in our ward.  They always give us doujiang and all sorts of Asian delicious treats.  I think I'm gaining a lot of weight... Don't be surprised if I come back and look like Santa Claus...

Just kidding.  I'm not that fat... yet.  So the miracle story for this week is as follows:

Sister Lai and I were sitting in our apartment, very studious, when I decided to look outside the window. It was so dark outside and looked like it was going to rain, so I said, "Lai Jiemei!! It looks like it's going to rain!!" (in Chinese) and then a SECOND later, LITERALLY, it started POURING rain.  It was hilarious.  We just looked at each other with the biggest eyes and started laughing.  It was "Shen de anpei!"  (God's timing/doing/planning... something like that).

Anyway, everything has been doing very well.  I passed the first chapter of phase 1 yesterday to our district leader.  I have made a language plan and have an hour to study every day.  Sister Lai is teaching me to write Chinese, and so whenever I write letters to thank members for food or to cheer them up, I write a line in English, Sister Lai translates it, and I copy it down on the line below.  It takes a long time at first, but I'm getting faster and recognizing characters even better now!

Every night when we bike home, I like singing hymns with Sister Lai.  It's such a fun thing to do!!! I love riding bikes around Zuoying. 

Also, I've been able to play piano at church every week for relief society.  Yesterday, I was playing some hymns and decided to improvise a little.  Before the mission, I had a hard time improvising, but now, it's so easy, and my improvisations actually sound good!! It's so crazy.  I feel like God has really blessed me with a better understanding for music now that I am serving Him and putting Him first.

I know that God loves us and is aware of each and every one of us.  This week, I've realized how important it is to keep a journal and record everything that happens.  It's also really important to write down your goals.  A goal written down makes it easier to remember and then to accomplish.  I know that the time we have here on Earth is short, but that makes it even more essential that we cherish every moment and work hard to bring the world His truth.  God is REAL.  He listens and answers our prayers.  I see His mercy and love every day, and I know that we ALL can witness the same things. 

I love Taiwan and the people here.  I love you all so much. 

Sister Verina Chen

PS Sorry I didn't have a lot of pictures this week.  We only take pictures on P-day or in the apartment, and we haven't done anything exciting yet for P-day since we've been busy settling in.

PPS I cleaned the bathroom today and mopped the floor/reorganized the apartment.  I think I'm the first missionary to every actually CLEAN the bathroom... haha I've noticed my OCD coming out a bit more on my mission.  I LOVE CLEANING.

Ok, so a lot of the pictures are from last week.  For the ones from this week:

Me taking out the trash!
The fish that I say good morning to every morning outside our apartment!
My companion taking out the trash.
Me looking and pointing to Vicky's email address that is in my companion's book.

May 14, 2013


Dear Jon Jon (and the rest of the family) and friends,

It was SOOOO good to skype/talk with you all on the phone today!
Ok. Guess where I am?!?! -I already told you... - ZUOYING.  It's the smallest area with the most people here in the Taichung mission.  - Am I blessed or what?! Holy cow. 
And Sister Lai is awesome.  She's 25 and is a convert, born and raised in Tainan. I love her so much.

The 2nd night we were here, we did DAN JONES where all the new missionaries went to the night market, sung a hymn, and one by one, stood up on a stool to bear testimony and preach the gospel!! It was so fun.  Sister Burr was the cutest.  She got up on the stool and was swinging her arms everywhere.  It was great.  When it was my turn, my heart was beating so fast, but I started yelling (in Chinese), "HELLO TAIWAN! LISTEN TO WHAT I SAY! I KNOW THIS CHURCH IS TRUE! I KNOW THE GOSPEL BLESSES FAMILIES! - waving Book of Mormon around - I KNOW THAT IT CAN BRING BLESSINGS TO YOUR LIVES TOO!! I KNOW GOD LOVES YOU!!!"

And then we were each paired up with a senior missionary to go talk to EVERYONE we ran into at the night market.  I handed out a Book of Mormon, talked to a grandma selling plants on the street (SO CUTE), and said prayers with about 4 people.  It's great to see the looks that we get as missionaries.  :)

Anyway, today it rained cats and dogs.  The good thing is I got to wear my bright, neon, yellow poncho and bike through the city soaking wet behind my companion.  It was so fun.  I think I was laughing the whole time. haha Also, I learned something really important: DON'T WEAR MAKEUP THAT'S NOT WATERPROOF IN TAIWAN.  Seriously, man.  It's hazardous... Makeup in your eyes plus acid rain doesn't go well. It was so funny because we stopped at the light, and I looked at Sister Lai, and she was like, "oooh!" - And I was like, "Shenme?! Hei Hei de, ma?" (What? - Are they black?!) And she was like "Dui!" (Yeah).  Hahaha So, I rubbed my mascara off with one hand while steering with the other.  When we got to our destination, there was no more mascara.  haha It's like taking a shower in the rain. :) SO FUN!!!

haha I just looked like a crying bright banana riding a bike in the rain in the streets of Taiwan.  - BEST EVER.  Is the rain over here really acid?!

Sowhenever we hit a red light, we always talk to the people on scooters next to us.  The first day I got here, I was super shy and didn't talk to nearly anyone, but then I started talking to people because I figured, the worst thing that could happen is they could reject me and I'd probably never see them again since there are so many people here anyway, right? - RIGHT. I still have a hard time initiating contact, though.  - Working on that.

The Taichung mission is so different from the Spokane, Washington mission.  It's true.  People here are much nicer.  The weather is so crazy.  Today was the first really intense rain.  It's so beautiful here.  I love the people, the buildings, the food (MANGOES), the fruit (MANGOES), the weather, the church.  I love my bike.  That's my favorite.  It's so much fun. 

Being a missionary in Taiwan is so much fun.  It's like riding bikes all day with your best friend and talking to people.  It's only been a few days but we've already been able to visit a lot of people who need our help.  They are people who I am learning to relate to and open up to.  I love sharing my testimony, experiences, and the gospel with those who need it over here, and I can't wait to teach English on Wednesdays!!! :)

Ok.  I'll try including some pictures.  I hope you are all healthy and happy.  LOVE YOU ALL!!! (ESPECIALLY JON JON!)

Sister Verina Chen

The pictures: My custom made bike!
- A picture I already forgot that I uploaded... I think it's of me and the other arrivals.
- Me and my home!
- Hot pot - Dad, we eat everything here.  It's the best food.  YOU NAME IT!
- Me and Sis. Graham (We arrived at the same time.  She was Sis. Burr's comp in the MTC.)
-SIS. Burr

May 12, 2013

Washington - 5/6/13

Hello family and friends!!!

What a wonderful, eventful week this has been!! 

So, I'm leaving for Taiwan tomorrow morning and am really excited to finally be getting there! It's been really bitter-sweet.  Today is the last day I have with Sister Huddleston.  We woke up early to begin packing, and we decided to have matching HAIR, so I did her hair and we modeled in the car on our way to lunch.  We know how to have fun, and we've really become sisters.  We have grown and learned so much from one another.  I LOVE SISTER HUDDLESTON!!!

Susan's baptism was on Saturday.  We were a little worried that she might run out of the building and never follow through with her commitment because of her anxiety, but she didn't!! We held her hand and helped her know that we would be there for her the whole time.  Even after she had been confirmed on Sunday, she was a little flustered, so I held her hand during the sacrament.  Susan is such a sweet lady, and she's been through a lot.  I have grown to lover her so much and am going to miss seeing her.

This weekend, we did a lot of service by going to nursing homes.  I played about 1.5 hours of hymn arrangements and classical music for the elderly.  It's great because when I start, there may only be one person listening to the music, but by the time I finish, a whole crowd of people have gathered and are eager to ask me questions: Where, how, and why I am here in Spokane!! - And guess what? - I tell them that I'm a missionary, and then I'm able to bear my testimony of our church!! :)

We also had to say good bye to Floyd today.  He's the recent convert that we always visit who lives in the nursing home.  He's such a sweet man and cries very easily, so when we told him we were both being transferred, he immediately started to cry, so we started singing, "I am a Child of God", and he began to feel better.  It's cute because he has the tiniest, wiener dog named Oscar.  Oscar's was even a little sad when we went to say good bye.  He's a smart dog!!! haha His head was down and his tail was between his legs when Floyd started crying.  It was so sad, but it was a little funny at the same time.  Floyd said he will write me letters when I go to Taiwan.

Anyway, those were some of the highlights of this week.  I also received a box from mom and dad full of the CD's I requested, so THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! 

Ok, picture time!!!!! 

The first picture is of me and all the foreign exchange students from China!
Jeff is the tall one on the left, Eric is the one right next to me who looks a little like Sam Hsiung.

The second picture is of me and Jimmy and Clarette. Jimmy is a magician and called Dad last weekend.  He's smart and is really funny.  Clarette is Jimmy's friend and her Mom Ping is over here in Spokane for a little while.  I taught Clarette how to pray last weekend.  

I feel so blessed to have taught all these people over here!!! Isn't it amazing that the Lord knows where we need to be at the right time?!

Third picture is of us and Susan at her baptism.  Her daughter Kylee is getting baptized in the summer in Utah where her Dad lives.  

Fourth picture: This is how beautiful Washington is!! I have so many pictures of the scenery here but won't be able to attach all of them!!! 

Fifth picture: While we were walking back home from an appointment, we ran into a man with a garden, and although he wasn't interested, he let us take home some flowers to plant outside of our apartment.  I planted two of them and took a picture of my stubby toes.  :)

May 1, 2013

Washington - 4/30/2013

Dear Family and friends,

OK!!! I have so much to say this week!!!!!

Aunt Humphries!!! - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I heard about your limousine and very fancy birthday outing with all the sisters, including my cute mom! Thank you for helping me choose all my missionary clothes! I get compliments basically every day on how cute and professionally I dress. - It's wonderful!! I also love the Mormon Tabernal Choir CD's you gave me.  They remind me of you every time I listen to them!

Ok, so this week was amazing! We had my first baptism.  Her name is Teri, and she is basically the cutest, kindest woman I have met.  Sister Huddleston and I were able to begin teach her and only taught her 4 times before she got baptized.  I extended the baptismal invite and put her on-date the first time we met. It was incredible!!! GAH. Seeing your investigators in white and ready to embrace the gospel is the best feeling in the world. 

This week, I was reminded that God really is aware of each of us.  He has shown me all the tender mercies every single day I have been out on my mission.  My companion and I missed the bus by a couple of seconds (LITERALLY) the other day when we were headed home.  We were DEVASTATED GAH!!! - BUT, we had the prompting to go to Walgreens just across the street.  When we were there, my companion and I saw these little bamboo plants that were on sale, so we both bought one and then headed back to the bus stop to wait.  While we were there, two people started talking to us about the bamboo plants, and we were able to tell them about our church and invite them on church tours.  - ISN'T THAT INCREDIBLE!?!?! haha

EVERYONE I have been able to meet and teach has touched my heart in one way or another.  I feel so much charity for each and everyone of the people over here.  When they choose to not accept the gospel, it makes me a little heartbroken because I just want everyone to feel the happiness and joy that I feel every second of my day out here!

So on Saturday, we had my first baptism in the morning that I was able to play music for (prelude, hymns, postlude, etc.) - Which reminds me, Mom, can you send me more CD's of my recording of all the hymns?! - I've given all of them away, and some people want copies.  - ANYWAY - after the baptism, we had a wedding in the chapel, so I played for that too. I played Canon in D and Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach (Ok.  I probably have the name of Bach's piece all messed up, but you get the idea.)  It was wonderful that I have been able to play so much over here!!

Last night, I met Jimmy, another foreign exchange student.  He's half-Taiwanese, half-Chinese, and he might call you today around 3-6 pm.  I emailed Vicky more information about him, so she really needs to check her email.  Isn't it awesome that God has let me relate to the people I have been able to serve over here in Spokane?!

Anyway, here's an inspiring quote that my mission president shared with us: "Joseph Smith gives this great counsel: "...shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren (and sisters); and on, on to the victory!" (D&C 128:22) This applies to the great work of salvation that you are doing. "All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith." (D&C 103:36)."

I'm super excited for everyone at home, ESPECIALLY VICKY.  I can't wait to hear from you all, and I'm so excited to head to Taiwan and be able to help the people over there.  My Chinese is slowly improving, and I learn new characters as much as I can every week.  It's wonderful being here.  I love my companion, too. We always leave little notes for one another, and she loves and is so grateful for Mom who always sends us matching packages. The fiber one bars were so great when we needed a little snack this week.  :)

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! Keep your heads up and keep serving and loving the people.  I know Vicky is going to be on top of missionary work over there in the PV5 ward! Make sure you visit all the lonely people and bring cookies!!!

HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK, Y'ALL!! TAKE CARE!! And for goodness sakes, WRITE ME!!!!

Sister Verina Chen


Washington - 4/22/2013

Dear family and friends,

Thank you for all your support!!!

SARAH JENSEN, thank you so much for sending me that letter with all the sparkly stars that fell all over me when I opened the envelope.  haha I will write you today and try to send it sometime this week.  - You're the best and I can't wait to visit with you after the mission! :)

MARGIE/MARGARET emailed me this week.  - What a pleasant surprise!!! - I was super excited to hear from her and really appreciated the quote she included in her email - so much that I decided to include it in THIS email.  It's a quote from Elder Holland, and if you know me, you KNOW I LOVE inspirational quotes:
Here's a great quote from Elder Holland:
"Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and
happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some
don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus
Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and
believe in good things to come."

Isn't it the best quote ever?! - I feel like it is so applicable to EVERY single person!!!

Ok, and this is a shout-out to everyone: HELP THE MISSIONARIES!!! - I've learned that the members are the main resource in helping people be truly converted in the Lord.  - Go teach lessons with them! Feed them!! Offer rides!! - Invite non-members over when you have them over for dinner! - Missionaries need all the help they can get, and when the members are ACTIVELY involved and supportive, the work accelerates even more. WE ARE ALL MISSIONARIES!!!!! - Also, BE BOLD.  I am so grateful for Mom.  She is SO BOLD and she is SO STRONG. 

I have learned to teach simply and lovingly.  In all that you do, be genuine.  Have CHARITY.  Remember that through small and simple things are great things come to pass.  - It's so true, and I know that everything we do - the way we present ourselves, dress, act, and LIVE - Some of the things we do may seem small, but they do impact more than we know. (The same is with bad habits.  If you start small, things add up and you find yourself engulfed in misery. - DON'T LET THAT HAPPEN!!!)  It's so important to be strictly obedient in life.

I know that when we are obedient and when we give our all to the Lord, we WILL see miracles, and we WILL be happy.  People become happy when they serve.  I honestly can say that right now, I am SO HAPPY because I am serving the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.

This week, one of our on-dates cancelled.  She decided to be baptized in the summer by her father who lives in Utah.  I know that the Lord has a time and place for everything and am so excited for her to go through with this decision. On your mission, not everything goes the way you planned, and that's the same in life. So, when you face downfalls or tribulation in your life, don't give up.  Like the quote says, "Don't you quit! Keep walking!..." Read it over and over again.  - Read your scriptures over and over again.  I have SO MUCH faith in those words and the things that are written in the scriptures and said by prophets.  We are SO BLESSED to be a part of this work today. 

Alright, enough of the "pep talk"! Sister Huddleston and I are getting along super well.  We are the super team and always work together and listen to the Spirit.  We have been able to meet with the ward mission leader and work out a plan to improve member support and get everyone involved in missionary work as much as possible.  That is why I was so happy to hear that Mom and Dad are supporting the missionaries, going with them to teach lessons, and befriending investigators and future members!!! - GO MOM AND DAD!!! - If China opens while we are alive, I bet our family will voluntarily go there and serve. - It's no coincidence that ALL of us so far have been sent on Mandarin-speaking missions!!!!! - I wonder where Jon Jon is going to be sent, though!! What an exciting thought!

We have been able to eat dinner with many of the members and other families we are teaching.  - I think I have more pictures of me and all the cute kids over here than I have of me and my companion.  haha It's the best.  The kids are great. They make us laugh and smile all the time. - I always make them little paper cranes and let them color and give them stickers when we are trying to teach a lesson.  - IT WORKS!

We also did a lot of service this past week.  I got to mow a lawn!! WOOHOO!

Also, I played "I Believe in Christ" yesterday in sacrament meeting.  Music is amazing because it gives us opportunities to meet new people and talk with them!!! 

OKAY, I hope you are all safe and happy wherever you are!! I love this gospel and I know that you can love it too!!!!

I'll include as many pictures as I can!

Love you so!
Sister Verina Chen