December 2, 2013

12/2/13 It's December!!

Hello everyone!!

Happy December! I hope that everyone had such a wonderful Thanksgiving break.  Wow!! I miss eating turkey...

haha Anyway, here are the shoutouts:

This past week was Thanksgiving!!! I think I might have forgotten to say "Happy Thanksgiving" in my last email, so ... Happy late Thanksgiving, everyone!! ha... Sorry.  Everything on the mission is so different.  Like, this morning, Sister Anderson and I walked outside and couldn't believe how hot it was.  Seriously, it's like a summer's day over here, and there is absolutely NO SNOW.

The other night, Sister Anderson made a count-down-until-Christmas calendar, and she puts a star on every day that goes by.  It's pretty epic... well, as epic as Christmas gets on a mission in Taiwan.  

However, we ARE really grateful that it's warm over here.  We don't need to worry about freezing in the snow while we're proselyting.  To say the least, I'm just super grateful that I'm not riding my bike in the snow or having to walk miles in the snow, etc.  

Anyway, Thanksgiving day was pretty great!! We made pancakes for breakfast, ate macaroni and cheese for lunch, and had mashed potatoes and ... uh - DUMPLINGS - for dinner.  YEAH.  They were basically the closest "all-American" meals we could make for Thanksgiving... Well, minus the dumplings, of course.  

Hey, but aren't you proud of us?! - We had mashed potatoes and gravy! HOLLA!!!! - Oh, and it's super hilarious because there are basically no turkeys here in Taiwan.  The only place that has turkeys is in Jiayi, and are we in Jiayi?! - Yeah... NOPE.

Regardless, Thanksgiving was hilarious.  We had a blast, and we are so grateful for so many things!! haha Remember that gratitude journal that I said I started last week?! - I'm writing all the things I'm grateful for in Elvish!! One of the elders in our district is obsessed with writing in dwarvish and elvish, and so he gave a key to all of us, and now we all can write in Elvish... It's something a missionary WOULD do. haha  We find entertainment in the silliest things, and I'm SUCH a nerd. haha

There was one night this past week when Sister Anderson and I were really tired and a little bit mellow. So at night before going to bed, Sister Anderson pulled out her acrylic paints and then painted a green mustache on her face...  Of course, I had to follow suit, and I let her paint a mustache on MY face.  To sum it all up, we basically just sat, silently looking at each other for about 10 minutes, and then we decided to take a picture.

Anyway, it cheered us up, and although I look really fat, it was worth including in the email, so that's what that day was like, I guess...

(By the way, I was 47.1 Kilograms this morning.  I'm getting lighter!!)

The following day, we had appointments all over our area, and we were exhausted.  So, when we got home, we decided to have our own little photoshoot.  Sister Anderson and I basically painted our faces and then took a bunch of pictures in our apartment. hahaha - I love Sister Anderson because she's totally okay with doing random things like that to get rid of stress with me.  We had so much fun, and it was really great for companionship unity.

Our area is doing awesome.  Yesterday during fast and testimony meeting, our investigator Chen Shi Xuen totally went up and bore her testimony.  She is our 17 year old investigator who is GOLDEN.  Her parents oppose her joining the church right now, but she's so determined to come to church every Sunday.

During the middle of the week, Sister Liu (my previous companion in Zuoying) called me up and said that two of the investigators that I found were getting baptized!!!! Since Zuoying is too far away from Yuanlin, I wasn't able to go down to attend their baptism, but Sister Liu called me and told me all about their baptism.  The two investigators that got baptized this last weekend were Lily and Shing!! Remember them?! - They are the two friends who were referrals from English class, and Sister Liu and I started teaching them two move calls ago.  It was wonderful to hear that they decided to get baptized!!! 

I didn't really have a lot of time to write in my journal last week, so I kind of forgot everything that happened since I'm turning into an old A-ma  (grandma)... It's okay though because I made so many Christmas trees, snowflakes, gingerbread men, and other Christmas decorations for the English Christmas party this week!!!

Oh yeah!! On Thursday, I gave the Bishop's daughter a piano lesson because she has a competition coming up, and she currently doesn't have a piano teacher.  Sister Blickenstaff also asked me to play the piano during the mission Christmas social in two or three weeks... I'm not sure if she wants me to play a Christmas song or just anything from my piano repertoire, but I'll figure it out.  I just realized the other day that I'm so rusty on the piano. haha It's alright though, that makes more room for improvement, right?!

I feel like the biggest quality that I have been recently needing to develop is patience.  This week, Sister Anderson and I are working on understanding patience.  So, this morning, we read the patience portion from PMG 120.  I loved everything that was said about developing patience:

"Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious.  It is the ability to do God's will and accept His timing.  When you are a patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully.  Patience is related to hope and faith - you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled.  

You need patience in your everyday experiences and relationships, especially with your companion.  You must be patient with all people, yourself included, as you work to overcome faults and weaknesses."

This morning as I was reading my patriarchal blessing, I was reminded of the importance in our worthiness and our faithfulness in keeping God's commandments.  A lot of the time, we get caught up in worrying about little trials and little occurrences happening right now.  We fail to see that in the long run, the only thing that will matter is our ability to stay focused on God's will and not our own.

I've realized recently that the only person who really knows and understands me is God.  He understands and knows me even more than I understand/know myself.  It is comforting to know that when we are confused or impatient, not knowing what to do or say, we can rely on God, pray to Him, and He will care of us.  God will place us in the situations we need to be placed in if we are looking and striving and living in accordance with the Spirit.

Last week's mission tour with Elder Funk went really well.  We were reminded the importance of working with the members in our mission work, so much of the time last week was spent working and developing relationships with the ward leaders and ward members.  Although our efforts didn't show up in the key indicators this last week, we feel like our efforts will really benefit us in the near future.  God's work is moving forward everyday, and every single person is vital to its success.

That's another thing that I've come to know recently.  I've learned that every person is so important.  The worth of a soul really IS great in the sight of God.  One person can do so much!!!! Sometimes, we can't see the influence that we make in others' lives.  However, I know that every small and simple thing we do counts.  It just makes me more motivated to  DO do those small and simple acts of kindness out here on my mission.

God is merciful.  He has provided me with countless opportunities and ways to serve others.  When you serve others, you are serving yourself.  Sometimes we lose sight of our own potentials.  We must remember that God loves us.  He is patient with us and wants us to be patient and loving towards ourselves.  "When at first you don't succeed, try, try again!!!"

Well, I'm really excited to talk to all of you on Christmas... I can't believe it's already December.  It feels like summer over here. hahaha  

Today, Sister Anderson and I are going to buy Christmas sweaters for the Christmas party.  It's going to be great! ;)

Love you all,
Sister Verina Chen

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