I lied! This one is actually my favorite! Lisette
What a week!! Characterized by the following things… details to closely follow: 30+ dead cockroaches, Colbie Callait playing next to me, two pants-less brothers, an inordinate number of street contacts with some prior Missionary contact, a sea of small children screaming Merry Christmas, incredibly awkward dancing Single Asian men, excellent food, a couple cute girls from Mainland, some heart-to-hearts with the new companion, strange looks on the street followed with “chaoji gao!,” Christmas present shopping for your companion… with your companion in the same store, and pink faerie wings.
Gao Jiemei landed and it’s been a whirlwind week. We realized we’re both creatures of comfort. So we’ve spruced up the apartment… starting with moving all the cockroaches out. These bugs (literally) rival the ones in the bayous of Houston in terms of size and persistance. Don’t worry. Thanks to the monochrome photos on the sides of aerosol cans, we sorted out which was the most powerful and most effective Taiwanese equivelent of Raid. And we’ve added a new category to our weekly “Key Indicators” … cockroaches found dead the next morning. We were probably a little too happy to report that one to our District Leader last night. We also bought legit cleaning supplies and I’m pretty sure you could eat off our floor now. We also may or may not have invested in some puzzle-like carpet squares and essentially carpeted our apartment. It’s quite the place to spend our four hours of morning studies. 😀
We also sorted out that we have the same weaknesses. A few different strenghts — but definitely the same weaknesses. We’re committed to helping each other overcome them… the most glaring one this week was time management. We both love to talk and have lots of good stories to share… so time flies by. As we reviewed the week’s efforts last night we came to a somewhat good conclusion, though. When we were out working with a very specific purpose (we want to find a Huang Xiao Jie, or we want to have 3 lessons on the street), we saw more miracles than even Gao Jiemei has seen in her entire mission. So, this week we’re polishing and reigning in our time management wenti….
Probably my favorite thing about her is she’s teaching me how to follow promptings of the Spirit, regardless of how small or insignificant they feel at first. I can’t tell you how many times I passed someone, thought “oh, I should talk to him,” and then didn’t. Not two seconds later, she was deep in conversation with that same person…. and turns out they were golden. This is exactly why missionaries work in companionships, people. It’s pretty much God’s spiritual insurance policy — if one companion isn’t listening, or isn’t willing to act, the other one is right there. I love it! Unfortunately, lots of Xiaos (junior companions) take this as an opportunity to just float. Gao Jiemei is actively working against this tendency and having me lead our contact efforts this week. A bit terrifying, but good for me all the same. My other favorite thing about her is simply her height. She’s 6’2″ and blonde. I love walking through crowds behind her… people’s faces crack me up! I’ve found that she’s a very nice contacting tool, though. Usually when people see us they have one of two thoughts, both of wich can be negative: oh, a foreigner! oh, a missionary! It’s really hard to overcome…. but a look of awe and whispered “she’s so tall!” is a neutral if not positive feeling and leads very nicely into sharing the Gospel. Win.
Two highlights from contacting this week, then onto some fun Christmas stories:
1) Tian Mu. We set out from the door with the following prayer: Lord, we’re headed out to find people. Prepared people. Specifically a Huang Xiao Jie. We know she’s there and we know she’s looking for the Gospel. Please guide our efforts and put us in her path. Love, us. We agreed before we started that no matter what we first thought about a person, if we noticed something about them we would talk to them. Literally every single person in those two hours had some previous, meaningful contact with the missionaries. Either they’d been long-term English Class attendees, had shanged ke with the missionaries, had close family members who were baptized, etc. It was incredible! The last girl we talked to was already a Christian, lived in Germany most recently, and was headed to go clean out her church building. She shared her testimony of Christ and told us about her various encouters with missionaries. She invited us to her Scripture study group… and…. as we were getting her number, found out her name was Huang. It’s a fairly common last name, but given the ammount of ampai-ing in her life already, we counted it as an answer to prayer.
2) Dazhi. We had an entire day of nothing but Finding on Friday. President Grimley would be so proud… because nothing happens in Missionary Work until you FIND someone to teach. 😉 So, we went to Dazhi. It’s in the ShiLin ward but not a place the Sisters have historically spent a significant ammount of time. I love it, though. Reminds me of Boston. College town, shuai people, etc. We started by stopping at Suu Chow (sorry for the Wade Gyles) University which we pass through on our way there. We set out to explore the campus and didn’t get more than a minute from our bikes, because again we followed any inkling we had. The guards were laughing at us because they knew we were trying to get away from our bikes… but every couple minute we’d pass them again knee-deep in a different conversation. In the course of 30 minutes we got six phone numbers and about 10 really solid conversations. At one point, Gao Jiemei was teaching a girl about prayer when this kid walked by with a bag from a famous bakery. I asked him if it was good to eat and he stopped. He looked at me, rummaged in the bag, wished me Merry Christmas, and gave me a box of chocolates! I gifted him a tract in return and we had a good laugh. 😀 From there we went into Dazhi… managed to interrupt a funeral (paisei!)…. and play The Game. It’s a mix of contacting methods, completely driven by the first idea that pops into your head. We were headed kind of far out when we stopped at a red light. Gao Jiemei turned to me and asked “Do you feel like we’re wasting time?” I thought and responded, “Not yet, but we’re on the verge of it.” She agreed. We refocused, turned right and got back to dilligently seeking. We ended up in front of a Junior High School. I talked to this older lady for about three blocks and then returned. Gao Jiemei and I kept trading off conversations… while she was talking to this guy with legit red Keds, I got the distinct impression we were going to be on that stretch of side walk for a while. I set my kickstand on my bike and two miracles happened. A student from that school came out, way too excited to see a couple of foreigners. Turns out she’s a member of the Neihu ward! We chatted for a bit, traded “hello”s from people around the Island, then committed her to being less inactive. 😉 After she left, I still wasn’t satisfied. Gao Jiemei and I pingu-ed her conversation with red Keds man until we saw this lady with a bag full of baozi. We stopped her and found out she was from America, just here visiting family. The conversation developed quickly and we answered some questions she’d had for a long time. She was leaving the next day back to America. We gave her a tract and pointed her to Mormon.org. She carried on and both of us realized that’s who we were waiting for. It was an extremely satisfying feeling — like we did something good there.
From Dazhi we went to Shezi to go caroling with the Shilin Bishop and company. While waiting for him to find us at a local 7 (side bar on 7-11s… they are the most legit place. Like a mini office!), this parade of kids came streaming down the street… following Santa Claus, handing out Christmas candy, and singing Christmas songs. Don’t worry, Santa was definitely skinny and on a scooter. Welcome to Asia! They were elated to see a couple foreigners! And we were equally excited to see them. The whole day we were a little miffed that it was so close to Christmas and we hadn’t really felt it yet. Those kids brought the Christmas spirit better than anything else, I’m pretty sure. Thank heaven for Shezi!
Last night we ended up at a foreigner’s house for dinner. They live in Tian Mu and have the missionaries over pretty often, usually Elders. Pretty sure Sisters will be getting more of that action after last night! They’d had a rough week and so had we (lots of finding, no teaching, new area, etc), so we commiserated a bit, cooked together, did dishes together, let the kids show off their Christmas presents, and performed the Nativity. The little girl asked us to be the Angels and earnestly handed me a set of pink fuzzy faerie wings. I took them and donned them. Don’t worry, there is photographic evidence. And, lemme tell you, I make a legit angel. Later, as I stood at the sink with the wings still on, their neighbor looked up from his sink and gave me the weirdest look. I waved and he avoided eye contact with me for the next 15 minutes. I nearly died in fits of laughter!
After Church on Sunday, we came home to open presents. Thank you parents, friends, and random other family members who sent me presents! They made my day and I won’t ever forget that you remembered me. 😀 Hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas, spent with family and friends and zui ai de ren. I guess it’s still Christmas where most of you are… and that’s nice! 😀 Here it’s Pday and we’re headed to Danshui…. without all the lame Elders in our District who are staying home today. Fail.
Ps… oh yeah, the pants-less brothers. We were chao-menning in Tian Mu and came across some college dorm-style buildings. We knocked on a door that had more shoes than I even own outside, all looked like guy’s basketball shoes. We knocked. They opened. They realized we were girls and they were without pants. They shut the door. We were a bit shocked… more that they’d shut the door, strangely, not that they were without pants. Then, the door opened again. A distinct “hmmmm” look happened on both Gao Jiemei and I’s faces…. so we went with it. Ended up teaching my first door-way lesson. It was a beautiful thing. It also made for a great story to tell the Elders when we handed the teaching over. 😉