“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.”
March 9, 2014
March 10, 2014
It's a weird thing being a one-year-old missionary. I actually don't feel that old, but as a sister and only having six months left, it's only natural that other missionaries and even members start talking to you about how you're going home "so soon" and oh, how "old" you are... PSH, whatever!
Last night as Sister Medrano and I were delivering "thank you" notes to families in the ward who had treated us out to dinner last week, she mentioned that I'm like the "mother" of our district. haha She said it was because I've been here in Yuanlin for the longest time. I was thinking about it, and I couldn't help but laugh because that's the way I DO feel sometimes over here. The missionaries and members always ask me about EVERYTHING (haha seriously, like everything), and I haven't really noticed it before.
Sister Medrano asked me if I felt trunky or if I hated all the time reminders. To be honest, what they say and ask hasn't really affected me so far, but that's probably because it hasn't quite hit me yet, and I feel like there is so much more for me to learn and experience out here in Taiwan. God's totally in control, and He'll send me where I need to go and be at the right time and the right place, so I'm not really nervous about anything.
Can I just start out by saying how sweet little Sister Medrano is?! After power week, she left a little card on my table expressing her gratitude for all the things we had done together. Then, on the date of my anniversary, I had just taken a shower, stepped out, and found a plate of fruit and cake that she prepared for me. She is seriously the sweetest trainee anyone could ever have! I love serving with her so much.
Alright, on with the events: On Monday, the new sisters Sister Burton and Sister Parkinson moved into our apartment. They are both so cute and so lively, perfect for whitewashing into the 1st ward. I knew they were coming in the week before, so I had prepared/called up the bishop, relief society president, young women's president, ward mission leader, and other important leaders in the 1st ward so that they could meet with them the first few days they were here. We worked together to update the area book, map, update APR information, and schedule appointments for them to meet investigators, rc's, la's, etc. Yeah, lots of paper work, but I kind of like doing that now!
The transition went really smoothly!! It's only been a week since they got here, and they already know the area and the members pretty well! Sister Medrano was so patient with me when we needed to take the sisters to their appointments in Shetou and Yongjing. What they are doing can be stressful, so we've been helping them out as much as we can to get the work going as soon as possible over here in Yuanlin.
The work has really taken a new shift since the sisters have arrived. With our new ward mission leader, we have a ward mission plan that is definitely going to help us find a new pool of investigators!! Sister Medrano and I are determined to be diligent and obedient every day as we work to find those who are prepared to receive the truths of this gospel.
During DTM on Tuesday, we were given an invitation to use the last 30 minutes to allow us missionaries to have a testimony meeting. Everyone in our district had an opportunity to bear testimony of the gospel. Something that came out of my mouth while I was bearing my testimony kind of just stuck with me from that moment until now. I said something along the lines of every single one of us needing the gospel because we are all broken people. Sometimes, we feel like we always need to be fixing others, when in reality, the only one we can truly fix and the one who needs fixing is ourselves.
This mission has taught me that the only thing I really CAN control is my own behavior, my own actions, and my own testimony. I can in no way control my companion, my investigators, my dear brothers and sisters who I associate with every day. Sometimes, we need to take that step back to evaluate whether or not our expectations are righteous expectations, whether or not our expectations and goals are in align with the Lord's.
One morning, Sister Medrano and I were feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to come up with a random activity to help us get going and stop wallowing in that gray-colored moment. We decided to write down all the negative things about ourselves, the things that other people would judge us for, the things that Satan wanted us to feel about ourselves. We shared them with one another and then RIPPED the paper into tiny, tiny, tiny pieces. We then wrote down all the things that we are good at, the things that we think people like about us, the things God likes about us. We then glued that positive paper into our journals.
It was a little random activity that we decided to do for companionship study, but I think it actually worked!! Writing all those things down really helped me see from a bigger perspective. I realized that most of the tedious things that were bringing me down don't really matter in the end run. For example, Satan tries to make us worry about little things that don't really determine whether we are successful children of God. As missionaries, here are some common stresses that can bring us down: our ability to speak the language, our outward appearance, the way people treat us, our comparisons to other missionaries, our key indicators, etc.
If you read in Mosiah chapter two, you will find that none of those things that bring us down really matter in the long run. All that King Mosiah teaches his people over and over again is to "keep the commandments" diligently. In my favorite verse of that chapter, verse 41, we see that when we keep the commandments, we are blessed both spiritually and temporally.
I know that what the scriptures say is true. Sometimes, we get so worried about the little things in life. (PS I'm sorry if I've said this same thing over and over again in previous emails. It's something that just seems to come up over and over again in my life recently). However, we must remember that in the end, the only things that really do matter are whether or not we are diligently serving our God by keeping His commandments, by doing His will, by living by righteous standards.
Whenever Sister Medrano and I get stressed, we always have to remind ourselves of this principle. It really helps us to be more accepting of ourselves. It helps me, at least, to recognize how far I really have already come and that Satan is trying his hardest to bring us down all the time. He makes us believe that we are failures, that we can't do hard things. Satan is the one who wants us to compare ourselves to others and think negatively.
With faith and hope, however, God will always be there leading us. He allows bad things to happen, and He allows Satan to influence us, but that is because He also has granted us the agency to choose happiness or sadness, to choose eternal damnation or eternal exaltation. It's really a happy thing!!! :) Guess who's in control of determining your own destiny?! Who is the one in control of your attitude, your feelings, your life?!
You are your own agent!
On Wednesday, since I wasn't teaching the kids anymore for English class, I kind of had to switch teaching modes. We had 10 students come to the intermediate class. Sister Medrano and I spent most of the time introducing ourselves and getting to know our students a little better.
At the end of English class, Jia Shan, who had been helping the new sisters with the little kids, came down and told me how it went. Apparently, the bishop's son, K-9 had been dropped off at the church to go up for English. Of course, the teachers had changed, but he had no idea. So, upon finding the new sisters in the room, he immediately ran back home, in tears. He thought I had moved, and he was really sad because the week before, he gave me some star candy, and I told him that I would share it with all the students in English class the next week. Of course, it didn't go as I'd expected, and he totally was in shock.
Ok, fine. This story is a little sad, but I thought it was hilarious. K-9 is super cute. His house is like a block away from the church, but on his way home in the dark, there was this stranger lady who was honestly concerned for him. When she asked if he needed help, he, with tears streaming down his little face, said "no", and continued on his way home.
Later that week, during the ward dinner, I saw K-9, so I went up to him to say hello and give him a hug, but he seemed a little angry. He kept running away from me. That's when I figured it was probably because of English class. When I asked him if it was because we had switched teachers, he nodded and just pouted a little. I had to explain to him that I really still loved him and that it wasn't my choice to switch teachers!! I wasn't the English leader. After he understood, he suddenly became his normal self, and everything was back to normal.
haha Oh man. I just thought I'd share with you that little, tender story. It's the little things and events that happen in my life that allow me to be happier and rejoice in our wonderful Savior and Redeemer, for He is the one who allowed us this life on Earth. He is the one who allows us to experience joy, experience pain, and still have the opportunity to return to our loving Heavenly Father. I love Him so much!!! I love Heavenly Father because He really IS our Heavenly Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters, and nothing in the world can take that knowledge away from me! These truths are what motivate me to be good, to be kind, to be patient, to be virtuous, to be worthy, to be obedient. Because we are all family, I can work that much harder to love and have charity for everyone I meet.
On Saturday morning, one of our ward missionaries Zhang Ya Ting (who is preparing to leave for a mission pretty soon) had one of her friends come o the church. Her referral is a young, college student named Huang Yu Han. We've actually met with her before, but every time we schedule, she is super late or just cancels the lesson. This time, she was late as usual, but we were able to catch her at the church after we ran to another lesson in Shetou. When we asked her why she was late all the time, she told us that it was because she had no interest in the church. Before I let her completely shut us off, I asked her if we could just watch the short Restoration DVD with her.
We put the DVD in and couldn't figure out how to get the Chinese recording on, so we watched it in English. I had to translate for her as the video was playing, but oh man. When it came to the First Vision, the Spirit came flooding into the room. As I was translating, words that I normally wouldn't be able to say so smoothly just popped out of my mouth. It was a miracle that I was able to translate the movie the way I did that day.
After the movie ended, I looked again at Huang Yu Han and asked her what she thought, how she felt, and if she understood why we do what we do now. Her countenance completely had changed, and she committed at that time to pray sincerely and honestly about the prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We even committed her to sit down with us and introduce her to the Book of Mormon.
That experience really strengthened my testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit just kicked me in the face and reminded me why I did come on my mission, why I am the way I am right now, why m parents joined the church, why so many people have sacrificed and still sacrifice so much for the welfare of God, for the welfare of the church as a whole.
I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to establish His church in the fullness and truth it contains in these latter days.
Sometimes, we forget how important it is for us to bring these truths and these scriptures to our friends and families today. If we just take a moment to realize the importance of these truths, we will understand and feel the reality of this life. We will no longer stand in fear of bearing testimony, of inviting our loved ones to repent, of standing for truth, and ultimately, loving these brothers and sisters that God has placed in our live's paths.
This week during the 1st/2nd ward dinner/activity on Saturday night, there was an investigator family that showed up. Their name is Gao. Anyway, they are English class referrals. Last Wednesday during the first English class of the transfer, our English leader assigned me to be the teacher of the intermediate class (zongji ban). It was a little bitter-sweet leaving the kids to teach a range of 12-40 year-old students. However, that day was when I invited the Gao family to the ward activityon Saturday, and they accepted!! They even brought a plate of delicious peppers and chicken. Then, they participated a little in our ward's dance activity.
To end this week's email, I'd like to share a scripture that really helped Sister Medrano and I work through this week.
"Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear."
"And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation."
"For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity."
"Fear not what man can do; for PERFECT LOVE CASTETH OUT ALL FEAR."