April 30, 2014

April 28, 2014 O Divine Redeemer

Dearest family and friends:

This week was full of miracles and events.  I. Am. Speechless.

Really, every time I thought about writing this week's email this past week, I just can't include/express the joy and number of miracles I have seen.  There's just too much.

Last night during the musical fireside, I found my eyes welled-up with tears.

This week, Sister Shih and I went on exchanges with the Donghai and the Fengyuan sisters.  God's really blessed and supported me as I've served in the Taichung Taiwan Mission.  

Since my mind is running at the speed of light, I'm just going to include my journal entry from this morning's personal study:

Right after church at the Wuchuan church, Sister Amanda Oaks picked Sister Shih and me up to ride down to rehearse at the Yuanlin chapel.  We rode down to Yuanlin in their big van and arrived around 1:30.  I had time to transcribe the rest of the "Be Still My Soul/Where Can I Turn for Peace?" arrangement.  It was stressful, but I ended up being able to get the key change and the rest of the skeleton chords for the 2nd half of the song.  
Sister Parkinson, Jamin, and I all rehearsed a few times... I was super stressed, but after saying a prayer, we were able to get it down, and I felt better about everything.

The two investigator violinists arrived around 3:00, so Sister Oaks, her husband, and I rehearsed "O Divine Redeemer" with them.  They were fabulous, and the quartet was pretty unified/together.  Sister Oaks and I then rehearsed her "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" with me.  I accompanied her on the organ. It was magnificent.  The organ is truly an sacred and holy instrument.

We then rehearsed "The Swan" and "Our Savior's Love".  By the time we finished, it was 5:00, and I had time to run through my Schumann concerto and Liszt Rigoletto Paraphrase.  Sister Oaks helped me turn the pages for the Schumann since I didn't have it memorized.  It was a miracle that I was able to have half of it ready to perform for Sunday night.  God really blesses us when we consecrate our time and talents to Him.  Preparing the program in such a little time was almost an impossible feat, but with God, all things are possible, and it turned out great!

At 6:00, we finally took a break.  We had a final rehearsal with the mic, and then everyone ran home to get a bite to eat/change into something professional.  

When I saw Aunt Joyce, Goo goo, A Jim and A-m, I couldn't help myself! I ran and gave them all the biggest hugs!!! We immediately started chatting and taking pictures.  

Aunt Joyce was so darling.  Outside the church, there is a tree that had blossomed and its flowers had fallen to the bushes below it.  She ran over and grabbed some of the flowers to put in our hair.  :) We had fun taking pictures.  They were also so nice to give me lavender flowers, pineapple cakes, and little sweets.  Uncle gave me a bouquet of Ferrero Rocher flowers.  I ended up handing them out to my fellow performers/members that I loved and will probably not see for a long time after the performance.

Agon/Ama/Da-jo-jo/Uncle Joe/Agon's Japanese friend soon arrived at the church.  I had the same reaction - haha - Just ran straight up to Da-Jo-Jo to give him a big hug.  I then saw A-ma and A-gon and gave them hugs too.  Can I just say that I have the cutest grandparents in the world?!

I was so surprised that both Agon and Ama came all the way down to see me perform.  Da-Jo-Jo had taken a picture of Agon/Ama on the high speed train.  It was adorable and hilarious because Agon was yawning, and Ama was just sitting there all small and cute.  I love them so much.  Ama also loved that I was wearing her shirt that she gave to Mom.  I kept telling her that I loved it, and she kept telling me that I looked beautiful.

I just couldn't leave A-ma and A-gon alone.  I kept holding A-ma's hand and telling her how happy I was to see her, and Da-Jo-Jo was taking pictures.  Agon gave me a red envelope, and Da Jo Jo gave me some Japanese cookies from Kevin.  The Japanese friend gave me some chopsticks.  I'll bring them home.  They're super cool.  I told him about Amy and Ashley, my two best friends who are serving in Japan right now.  Then, I kept saying "arigato" and bowing over and over again. hahaha A-gon/Mom/Dad taught me well.  They loved it.

Finally, it was time for the performance.  There were about 180 people who came total.  It was amazing that we had to open up the gym.  The programs were handed out, people got to meet the missionaries, and everyone loved listening to the music.  Because the piano was kind of blocked by the risers, I brought Agon and Ama and their Japanese friend to the risers to sit next to me as I played the piano.  Of course, Agon brought out his camera and was taking selfies the whole time... with the waterbottle self-timer device that he loves so much... Oh, and he gave me those little lights in the little red bags at the end of the concert.  So cute.

Elder Ruan from the quorum of the seventy presided, our stake president Chen was there as well, and President and Sister Blickenstaff loved the music.  

Everything happened so quickly, I can't even remember how I got through it... During the concert, everyone kept clapping.  It was a little awkward because I didn't really know what to do, so I just turned to the audience, smiled, and nodded my head.  After every piece, I would turn to Agon and Ama, smile, and blow them kisses.  They loved it. :)  

Ama and Agon are beautiful.  President and Sister Blickenstaff loved meeting them, and everyone kept saying that I look like Agon.  Others think I look like Agon.  

Regardless, it was an amazing experience, I was exhausted from playing all day, but I am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL for all the miracles that we were able to see from our efforts.  

It just goes to show that God always provides away for us imperfect people to accomplish His perfect work.  About 80% of the audience were investigators.  It was wonderful to come back and see my English class students, my recent convert Chen Shi Xuan, and my beloved members from Yuanlin. 

There's just too much good in this world.

I can't express to you all how much I felt of God's love and mercy.  My aunts and uncles from Dad's side of the family are so charitable and cute.  I couldn't stop smiling when I thought about how much they love me, even though I haven't been around them so much.  They really are the sweetest examples of love and selfless service, and so is Mom's side of the family.

I was SO OVERJOYED to hear that grandpa and grandma could come, and when I saw Uncle Joe and Uncle Alan, I was beaming!!!!

Man, I am exhausted just thinking about how merciful and great God is.  Who would have thought I would be able to share my talents and preach the gospel at the same time?! It really is a dream come true, and none of these events would have been able to come together if it weren't for His hand.

All I can say is this: God is a God of miracles.
Anything is possible when we put our trust and talents in Him.
This is God's work, not man's. 
He has shaped me into someone I never knew I could become.

I made a promise to myself and to God: I will always consecrate my talents for the building of God's kingdom.

I know that this is the Lord's work.  This week, Sister Shih and I are going on exchanges with the sisters of Shalu and Tanzi.  It'll be great!

Love you all,

Sister Verina Chen

April 22, 2014

April 21, 2014 Dakeng

Dearest Family and Friends,

My first week in Dakeng was so crazy!! Man, it went by faster than I had expected.  Sister Shih is my new companion, and she is AMAZING.  Seriously, from the very first moment to now and forever, she has been so patient, so understanding, and has been an example and support to me.  

Adjusting to the new environment/calling has been a bit difficult for me; however, I know that it's probably normal for that to happen.  After all, this is only my second time really moving to a new area (Zuoying to Yuanlin, and from Yuanlin to Dakeng).  

So, how would I describe living and serving here in Dakeng?! - There really AREN'T words to express what I feel... Dakeng is really special.  I mean, every area is, but Dakeng is a kind of different unique. "A different unique" sounds really incorrect, but in this case, it actually is kind of the only way I can describe it.

As most of you know, I now have a facebook account.  I couldn't log on into my old one for some reason, so I just ended up creating a new account, which is really a blessing.  I have been able to concentrate my efforts more on the people here in Taiwan, being able to consecrate my work more fully to the people of this area.  

By the way, we missionaries have been encouraged not to message family/friends via facebook, so if you would like to stay in contact with me, it'd best be kept through email still!! haha... But, I only email family now anyway, so just letting you guys know!! Don't post/message anything via facebook from now until the end of my mission.

Facebook is a wonderful way to stay in contact with investigators, recent converts, and less-actives on a daily basis.  Sister Shih and I are allowed one hour to facebook every day; however, this last week, we were busy getting familiar with the area/people, so we ended up using facebook for an hour and a half total.  This week will be busy because we are going on two exchanges.  One on Tuesday with the Donghai Sisters and one on Friday with the Fengyuan sisters.

Every exchange lasts for 24 hours.  This Tuesday, I will be staying in Dakeng with Sister Berrey (she's being trained this transfer and is new to the mission).  I am excited to go on this exchange, but I am also a little nervous to be leading the area on only one week of getting acquainted with it.  I keep having to tell myself that I will be able to do it.  If I could take over Yuanlin after 3 weeks, then I can lead Dakeng in one, right?!

I am so grateful for Sister Shih.  This week, we kept running to and from appointments.  We barely have time to get all of our studies in for the day because we are so busy... I didn't realize how much sister training leaders needed to do until I became one.  I think my planner has become my journal because I have no time at all to write in my real journal!

This week, I was feeling really inadequate and a little sick.  However, last night as I talked with Sister Shih and asked her for her experience/input, she encouraged me to read the stress manual.  After I read a paragraph, I immediately felt better.  I had been feeling really weak and small, and I couldn't help but think "why me?"  "All the other sisters in our zone are much more qualified than I am!"...  I realized that this is God's work.  It's not my work.  God said Himself that He has called the weak and simple to do His work in the latter-days!  I AM the weak and simple.  Sometimes I get lost, and I am FAR from perfect, but because God knows this, He has called me to this work.

I immediately felt peace in realizing these truths.  I know that God trusts me with this work. I know that I can also put my trust in Him.  :)  So, moral of the story?! - This week's trial helped me learn something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  

Oh, and did I tell you all how amazing Sister Shih is?! She's going home this next transfer, so she has been out for quite some time!! She's been so patient with me as I adjust to everything, and we work HARD!  What a hard worker she is!

Today, Sister Blickenstaff is letting us go over to the mission home for me to practice on her piano.  Isn't that such a wonderful blessing?! Sister Shih and I will then be going shopping for her summer wardrobe! I already have a lot of clothes, so I won't be buying anything but food.  haha :)

I'm praying for you all!! So, keep praying for me too!! Prayers work!

PS We have a golden investigator Sister Shu who is getting baptized on 5/4/14.  Our recent convert is her son who was baptized about 2 months ago.  After Sister Shu gets baptized, their whole family will all be members of this church!!! Isn't that wonderful?!?!

Love you so much,
Sister Verina Chen

PPS Just wanted to include this quote again because I love it so much:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world.  The world has enough women who are tough.  We need women who are tender.  There are enough women who are course; we need women who are kind.  There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.  We have enough women of fame and fortune, we need more women of faith.  We have enough greed, we need more goodness.  We have enough vanity, we need more virtue.  We have enough popularity, we need more purity." - President Thomas S. Monson

God is helping me become THAT kind of woman!!!  

April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014 Taichung North, Dakung (Sister Training Leader)

Dearest Family (and Friends):

Alright, here we go:  Today, I'm moving to the Taichung North Zone.  I'm in the very HEART of our mission (yes, mission office and everything)... Dakeng ward!  I'll be serving as a sister training leader with a Taiwanese sister Sister Shih.  Sister Shih is a stellar, diligent missionary, and she truly works with and through the Spirit.  I am so humbled and honored to be serving with her in Dakeng, and I know that I will be even more humbled as I learn from this calling.

Being called as a sister training leader comes with a few responsibilities that I will need to adjust to.  1. I will be exchanging with other sisters in our zone every week. 2. I will be using facebook, so don't be surprised if you see my pop up on your news feed...

I don't really know how to react right now, especially since I feel completely inadequate for such a calling, but from listening to the talks from general conference, I know that God will strengthen me in my callings if I just put my trust in Him. (Elder Bednar's talk)  

This week was a little crazy.  On Monday night, there was a huge spider in our apartment.  It was literally the size of a baseball, and man... it was MEATY.  Sister Medrano was the one who spotted it first, but when I heard her squeal, I thought it was just another one of those little cockroaches that easily frighten her...  I was dead wrong.

After hearing Sister Parkinson and Sister Burton comment on the size of the spider, I finally made my way out of my study chair to take a look at what they said was an apparently "gigantic" spider.  (I usually don't like wasting my time on little bugs, especially when there are things to do, but this one was a different story (thus I am writing about it in my precious email home)).  

Anyway, so this huge spider is like in our dressing room, and we don't want to smash it because it might be a pregnant spider, and who knows?! It's babies would probably all just start crawling out if we hit it... Yes, we thought about this possibility.  And naturally, we didn't have the guts to catch it in a container because it was humongous, and we were terribly frightened that it might just jump off the wall, land on our heads, and bite us, resulting in having to be sent home... Heaven forbid, so let's move on.  This is what happened:  Sister Parkinson and I knew that we had some "Raid" in the apartment, so we started shouting, "RAID! RAID!".  Sister Burton, being the more courageous one, grabbed the raid, put on its long nose and started spraying it at the beast.

The spider spun and squirmed as it fell slowly onto a chair... Meanwhile, Sister Parkinson and I were yelling, "KILL IT! KILL IT! FASTER! FASTER!!" as Sister Burton sprayed the spider down.  It felt like she sprayed it for 30 seconds at LEAST.

Soon after we slayed the spider, we all felt seriously ill...  All of us felt like vomiting... all of us except for little Sister Medrano who was waiting outside of the room in fear while this was all going on.

Turns out, we hadn't thought of one important factor before we started spraying that "Raid".  We had forgotten to protect ourselves from that spray, and in the excitement of the event, Sister Burton, Sister Parkinson, and I had inhaled much of those poisonous fumes.

Apparently, bug spray over here in Taiwan is a lot more toxic than the ones in America... hmmm... I wonder why...

Maybe because spiders and cockroaches over here are like GARGANTUAN!!!  Holy cow!

Alright, so that night, it was super "xinku" because all three of us sisters took turns vomiting in our feverish stomach flu.  The next morning, we were all obviously un-rested... Sister Medrano was also un-rested as she didn't sleep very well due hearing us use the bathroom so many times...  So, we all slept in a little more, tried to drink more fluids because we were all dehydrated, and then rest more.

It sounds awful, and it was, but it really was actually kind of hilarious, the whole thing... It really only lasted Monday andTuesday.  We ended up having to run Sister Parkinson and Sister Burton to the hospital.  I was good by then, so I didn't have to be checked it.  President and Sister Blickenstaff had been down here in Yuanlin earlier for a zone training meeting, so they came down to see Sister Parkinson and Sister Burton in the hospital.  It was really a miracle that everything was alright in the end. :)

After Tuesday, we had our English party on Wednesday night.  It was an Easter party, and it was pretty great! We had an Easter egg hunt, and a lot of new people came to our English class!! Earlier that day, I had a rehearsal with Sister Oaks.  We managed to get a cello for her husband, and we planned out all the program for the musical fireside.  It was wonderful!

This Friday, Sister Burton had to come be companions with Sister Medrano and me because Sister Parkinson was training and her new trainee Sister Price came in that morning.  It was great being in a threesome for a couple of days, and we all got along really well.  Since Sister Price was new, we all decided to try making her think I was a native Taiwanese missionary sister, so that night, I only spoke Chinese to her.  Sister Medrano and Sister Burton were pretty good at keeping it together, but in the end, our acting was super bad (I repeat... our ACTING was super bad... Not my Chinese... Although, now that I think about it, that probably wasn't the best either...)  and Sister Price wasn't buying any of it.

Anyway, we watched general conference in Saturday/Sunday, and I learned SO MUCH.  I loved every single one of the talks, especially Elder Bednar's and President Thomas S. Monson's.  

Elder Bednar's talk was about carrying the load (demands, opportunities, stresses, etc.).  I loved what he said about being weary of hauling too many of those nice but meaningless things.  It reminded me of the idea of just completely consecrating ourselves to the Lord and following Him.  I really felt the Spirit of Comfort as he explained how the Lord truly does strengthen us so that we can have increased capacity to carry our loads.  We truly CAN be agents who ACT.  We don't need to be agents who are acted upon.

President Monson's talk was all about CHARITY and LOVE.  Man, I admire President Monson so much.  He is truly an example of Christlike love and compassion.  In our lives, it is so easy to be negative and discouraging, but if we truly understand Christ and His Atonement, we will make love the center of our gospel and the center of our lives.  We will forgive others. We will appreciate others, encourage others, be sensitive to others' needs.  We will be patient and kind, allowing the atonement to heal our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

Saying good bye to everyone here in Yuanlin was not really what I expected it to be.  It truly was a bitter-sweet moment.  It was important to remember that the endings in our lives aren't really endings at all.  They are just "eternal beginnings"... just those "forever beginnings"...  I loved that Elder Uchtdorf is always able to encourage us to keep that eternal perspective in mind.  I know that this move call is just another beginning to a whole new transformation to my heart and just another start to a new testimony. 

I trust in the Lord with all my heart.  Sometimes, I don't understand why He allows certain things to happen, why He calls me to the places and positions I in which I serve, why He allows me so many blessings and mercy, why He loves me so much... I do know, however, that if I put my trust in Him, He will guide and strengthen me.  I AM weak.  I AM small, but He will make me into who He would like me to become if I but allow Him to.

I know that this is the Lord's work.  We are all important tools and indicators of the truth of this gospel.  I know that the small and simple things we do every day truly can influence the world to become a happier, better place.  It all depends on the way we look at life, the way we hope, the way we act, and the way we choose to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord.

Let us continue repenting every day.  Let us choose to respect ourselves as God and Christ have respected and loved us.  Let us treat our lives kindly as we prize our opportunities here as His children.  Let us work together in unity and determination as we pull this work.  Let us humbly serve the Lord in an attitude of rejoicing and meekness.  Let us work to overcome the natural man, to overcome the tendencies of our lazy desires.  Let us be virtuous and true to the covenants we make with the Lord, waiting with patience, enduring with refined dignity for the blessings and fruits of our labors to be received in the eternities.

I love my Heavenly Father.

I love my Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

I love this work and glory.  

I love serving the Lord and proclaiming His truths.

I love my family, my friends, and my leaders.

I know that this church is good.  It could only come from something good, and I believe that that good is God.

Love you all so much.  

Let us become who God wants us to become.

Sister Verina Chen

April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014 April Showers

Monday was great.  Sister Medrano and I spent the day emailing, shopping for groceries, cleaning, napping, eating, exploring, etc... At night, we had an appointment with Yang Dixiong who helped critique my 1st lesson status.  He helped me find simpler ways to teach our investigators.  Then, Sister Medrano and I biked our way to reactivate a less-active sister: Lai JM.  She has three daughters who also are less-active.  They haven't been to church for years, but guess what?! - They came to an activity on Saturday night and then church on Sunday.  They are really willing to meet with us every week.  We've got a member already involved with her, inviting her to live the word of wisdom and get involved with the church again.  Lai JM is a sister with incredible abilities, and her potential of becoming a leader is so GREAT.  We are all praying for her.

Tuesday, there was a little earthquake during personal study.  It was funny because I was talking on the phone while it was happening, and it wasn't really alarming to me, but Sister Medrano was like whispering at me: "Do you feel that?! We're like shaking!! Is it just me, or do you feel it too?!" hahahah... I think it threw her off that I was so calm.  It was probably one of the bigger earthquakes we've had over here, but it just rumbled our apartment a little.  Later that day, Sister Medrano and I printed off all the music for the musical fireside.  It's now on the 27th of Aprilinstead of the 12th because we have general conference on the 12th... Also, Chen Shi Xuan is actually going to be baptized on the 12th in between sessions as well.  (She's amazing! She totally planned out her own baptismal program and everything.  She picked her own hymns, the people she wants to speak, everything...)  We also got to print off a talk that the sister training leaders invited us to read.  It's called "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson.  READ IT.  We read it together while we ate dinner at a family mart, and we were blown away.  It was perfect.  We contacted at the train station where we had two sit-down lessons with two cute girls from Zhanghua.  They gave us their information and committed to say prayers when they got home.  Then, a Jehovah's witness who was listening in on our contacts totally came and started talking to Sister Medrano and me.  He spoke a little Spanish and said he's lived in Utah before.  He's now in Taiwan serving a mission that he has been on for like eight years.  Pretty long time, eh?! Anyway, we gave him a mormon.org card and stuff... We'll see if he checks it out.  Then, Sister Medrano and I biked to Yongjing to visit Chu Agon and Ama.  We sang Japanese songs and hymns with/for them.  

Wednesday was pretty regular with English proselyting, contacting, and English class.  This week, we are throwing the English party! We're doing an Easter Party kind of deal this week.  Sister Medrano and I are going to do the face painting. The elders are doing "funny bunny", and the other sisters are going to be hiding the eggs for an egg hunt.  It's going to be fun! :)  During English class this week, two of our students brought some tofu and some of these like bread/egg things for us to eat.  They were really thoughtful.  It's fun teaching the intermediate class because everyone in our class kind of understands English but not really... During the spiritual share, Sister Medrano was the boss.  She drew the cutest/funnest pictures on the board.  We have a fun time.

Thursday, I didn't really write in my journal that day, so my mind is kind of blanked, but I DID take some notes for personal study.  That day, I started reading the Bible for real.  I'm already Mark! :) Anyway, I absolutely love the parable that Christ shared with all of his disciples and his people.  Christ's life was full of the miracles he performed.  I love chapter five in Matthew and how it talks about all the things we can be blessed for being: poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger/thirst after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness' sake, reviled/persecuted by men for His sake.

"There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.  The blessings of eternity await you.  yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants on the stage of service." - President Thomas S. Monson

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." - Matt 10:16

"Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." - Matt 10:19,20

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." - Matt 10:22

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and HE THAT LOSETH HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT."

"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." - Matt 10:37-40

MAN, JUST READ THE BIBLE.  Sometimes I forget to read the Bible along WITH the Book of Mormon.  They are both true scriptures sent from God.  They BOTH testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  Now, I read the Bible whenever I have time before I go to bed and in the mornings during meals...  It's like the best!


MIRACLE: On Wednesday, this is what happened ( I finally remembered.)

So, Qiu Zhong Zhi, our ward mission leader is a math cram school teacher.  On Wednesday from 1-4 pm, Sister Medrano and I were invited to go to Puxin, where his school is and teach three classes about the gospel.  (Each class we taught for an hour each.)  That day, it was pouring rain, so when we got there, we were both really wet, and I was having a stomach ache, so it wasn't really convenient.  Anyway, we ended up teaching 36 students about the plan of salvation/Atonement of Christ/Prayer/Prophets.  We used visual comparisons, and the kids loved and understood everything.  After each lesson, we asked the kids if they would be willing to get baptized.  All of them were so willing and said yes...  It was amazing to us to see how pure and close to Christ children really are.  We know that they will remember our visit to them for the rest of their lives.  When we left, the kids all were really sad to see us leave and wished that we would come again.  CHILDREN ARE PURE AND CHRISTLIKE.  It was interesting to see the difference as we taught the older kids last.  It was almost as if the light of Christ was disappearing gradually from the eyes of of the older children. 

It just made me realize that without this gospel, our lives really do become dull and miserable.  With this gospel, however, we may remain pure and clean, full of hope and love, faith, and testimony of a better world. (Ether 12:4)


Also, a perfect quote to fit in with teaching the kids: "It is true intelligence for a man to take a subject that is mysterious and great in itself, and to unfold and simplify it so that a child can understand it." - John Taylor

That is what I've been striving to do recently.

We've been able to work more and more with our ward every day.    

Thursday night, we had a lesson with Zhang Yin Juan who was able to meet Qiu Lian Yue Huan, our ward mission leader's wife.  It was a perfect member lesson, and Yin Juan was able to feel the Spirit and continue striving for her baptism on May 10th.  

Friday was great.  Weekly planning went down, and personal study was great.

Saturday, we went to "saomu" up in Caotun.  "Saomu" is to clean the graves.  We woke up early that morning, threw on some jeans (yeah, that was like the first time in months that I've worn pants outside...) and then we headed to the train station to take a bus to Caotun where a member picked us up to take us to the graves.  It was an amazing experience, being able to see what it was like to celebrate this holiday.  Our district and a few other districts in our zone worked together to clean up and around all these graves.  It was pretty interesting to see how much build up and piles of trash and deposit were just laying around these graves.  We actually found some teeth... After we "saomu"ed, we walked to a member's home for "biandang" a box lunch.  It was great.  I got to talk to the member's mother, who wasn't a member of the church.  She was so cute and told us about all the different plants that she liked to have.  Sister Marissa Anderson took some pictures that day.  Maybe you can find her on facebook.  She'll probably post some pictures up from that day...

At night, we had a 1st/2nd ward night activity.  We all did a lot of preparation for the dinner and dancing that night.  The members are all so cute.  We had an investigator family attend along with that less-active we've been working with.  It was great!

Sunday was PERFECT.  Since I've been here for seven months and I might move next Monday, I decided to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting because next week is general conference, and I won't have a chance then.

One little miracle that we were pleased to witness was during that meeting. I went up to bear my testimony about the talk that the sister training leaders invited us to read last week "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson. The Spirit was strong as bore strong testimony. Since I was the first to go up and share my testimony, many other members immediately followed, each and every single one of them supporting what I had shared: Liu Li Ling, Liu Li Zhen, Yang Chen Shu hui, Amy, SISTER MEDRANO... The Stake President was the last one to speak. He testified of what everyone said that day and supported what I had shared about being aware of pride and repenting of our sins. We all found our eyes wet with tears.  

When Sister Medrano went up to bear her testimony, tears started just streaming down my face.  I feel like she's grown SO MUCH since she's come on island.  She wasn't able to express everything she would have liked using words, but the ward all FELT what she was trying to express through the Spirit, and that was more than enough.  One thing she said that touched the members was, "I may not be able to help you with my words, but I have these two hands." And then, she lifted up her hands and waved them in the air.  It was so cute, and everyone couldn't help but smile.  I am so blessed to know Sister Medrano.  I know that if I do happen to move next week, she will be able to care and love the  ward here as much and more than I have.

Sister Medrano and I are so happy together. She's really worked and prepared herself to become a spectacular companion and missionary. This week, she took the lead in daily planning, weekly planning, taking the phone, and leading discussions!! It was absolutely amazing to see how fast she has progressed. She's definitely ready to take on any calling that the Lord has in store for her. 

I really believe that the best and the greatest miracles are found in the events of our daily lives. The Holy Ghost truly works through us, and when we just give heed to his promptings, great things are truly brought to pass. We now have a new, active bishop. Our ward mission leader has a plan. We are meeting with the relief society presidency this Thursday. We have a baptism this Saturday: Chen Shi Xuan is a convert that I am confident will stay in the church forever.

I love this work. I love these people. I think I can really say that I would be more than willing to serve here for the rest of my life.  

The people are so kind and giving, especially the youth.  The other day, we ate dinner with Trevor and Li Yun (a young woman in the ward) at a hot pot place.  Li Yun looked at my mission watch and said that she wanted to get a watch like mine sometime.  Later that night, I took my watch off and put it on her arm.  I wanted her to keep it, and she did!

Yesterday during church, Li Yun and Trevor came up to me with a bag.  They had me open it!! Inside, I found a watch box and a brand-new, beautiful watch.  They both know that I MIGHT move, so they wanted to get me something.  It was the PERFECT gift.  Now, Li Yun wears my mission watch, and I wear the watch that she and Trevor bought for me.  :) You'll see it when I get back home.  It's gorgeous.

Okay, so I know that this email is so all-over-the-place, but last night, we had dinner with Sister Amanda Oaks and her husband who is now in Taiwan.  We also correlated the music fireside.  President Blickenstaff said that if I do move on the 14th, I will be allowed to come back the night of the fireside to perform with everyone.  :) The fliers that they made for the musical fireside look spectacular.  Apparently, Sister Oaks and her husband performed in the same quintet with Dr. Fox's daughter Kristie Peery. They totally know Dr. Fox.  It is actually probably the most outrageous miracle ever because of all this "anpai" going on.  God's hand is totally in this work.

Also, Liu JM, the one who is hosting the Oaks over here is from Utah and they say they will call Mom up when they get back to the states next month.  They are wonderful.  You'll love their family, so be expecting a call.

Oh, our ward correlation meeting yesterday after church was amazing.  Our ward mission leader Qiu DX got trained last week by our mission president on how to hold ward mission correlation.  YUANLIN IS PROGRESSING AND MOVING FORWARD.  Yesterday, we had 60 people at church.  We haven't had that many people at church for the 2nd ward in YEARS.  Also, we have a new bishop since our previous bishop wasn't ever present (he had work in China all the time.)

I have been so blessed to see Yuanlin transform over time.  It's truly being restored to the way it should be!!!!!

I love this work.  I love the Lord.  I glory in Him, I don't glory in myself because alone, I really AM nothing.  God is my strength.  He is my song.  I will praise His name forever.

Love you all,
Sister Verina Chen