Praise heaven!! My companion is 1) native 2) adorable 3) super dedicated and probably the very definition of self-starter. She’s only been here a week and could run this place in her sleep. Pretty much our roles work out like this: I get to be everyone’s friend and she gets to be everyone’s missionary. She pushes them and I take care of them. It’s actually a really good balance. Miracles pouring out of the sky, pretty much. So far, lots of sunshine, too. 😀
While we were waiting for an investigator to come shang ke then play badmitton with our MM leader, Yang DiXiong asked me how long I’d been in Tao Yuan. I just laughed: “Six weeks. I’m still not sure where I’m going most days.” He stopped playing and told me earnestly, “You know, we were talking last week about you. It feels like you’ve been here forever — you have a very generous personality and we all love you.” I’m not sure who “we” are… but it was a wonderful compliment and something I needed to hear. This will be the second time I’ve sent a missionary home from a place they’ve been in forever. It’s daunting. There’s 10+ months of experiences, knowledge, etc. to absorb in a very short six weeks. And the bulk of it doesn’t transmit…. but I’ve come to love this place and Yang DiXiong assured me that was enough. The Ward members can feel that and are willing to help. I feel like I’ll be out here for a while. Even better, Tao Yuan has a reputation for having stronger-personalities sent out here. Becky Li, Wu Tian Tian, Yang JM, and me, apparently. HAHAH! Who knew!? 🙂
As far as the District is concerned, Tao 1 Elders stayed the same. Tao 3 we got two new Elders, one in each companionship. One moved in from Hua Lien to be our new Zone Leader and one moved up from Tai Dong to be with our District Leader. They’re both in awe of Tao Yuan. Listening to their testimonies on Sunday made me realize how rare Tao Yuan is. We have incredible Wards and Stakes. It’s pretty much like walking into any full-fledged Ward in America. All callings and programs are in tact — from Young Mens/Young Womens to Primary to Family History to Institute and Seminary. It’s a little overwhelming, in fact! Trying to keep track of all the activities you could possibly invite investigators to…. haha!
That started me thinking, though, about how to go about doing missionary work out here. Obviously, we’re out on the street every day talking to everyone. But, on a whim, I asked the Laurel’s President if she had an Less Active Young Women. Her eyes got wide and started rattling off names and phone numbers. I asked why they were Less Active. She said exactly what I wanted to hear: because they’re the only person in their family who has been baptized. That night, I asked the First Counselor for a list of part-member families. We’re splitting it up with the Elders and have our new Transfer goal: to make Eternal Families. 😀 Lin Jiemie and I are totally fired up about this because that’s really what the message of Jesus Christ’s gospel is: eternal happiness. How do we gain eternal happiness? By being with God and the rest of our Family for eternity. There’s nothing that will bring you more joy than that assurance: after death, you’ll still be a family. You can progress together. You can help each other, support each other, and get back to God’s presence together.
No matter what your family situation looks like right now, the hope of the Gospel–the chance to change granted to us by Jesus Christ–can bring you happiness. I have an investigator back in Shilin who completely understands and accepts all principles of the Gospel…. but has an aweful family life. She doesn’t want to get baptized because she doesn’t want to be with her family forever. We went wandering around her home town one day — not a lesson, just a fun tour — and talked about her relationship with Christ. That’s the key. You have to trust that the Atonement is real and because of it you can see real change. You might not see it now. You definitely won’t see it immediately. But it will happen and it’s incredible when it does! That’s the one thing I remember most from the MTC. Brother Heaton reminding us constantly to never forget that we have front row seats to the greatest show on earth: the changing of the human heart.
Believe God. Believe change is possible. Believe life is Eternal and that you deserve happiness. God loves you. He’s provided a Savior, His own Son, for you. Do that and write me lots of letters…. hahah! 😀
Officially, “Hua Sheng Jiemei”
Ps — there’s a member in Banqiao that I’ve never met… but he definitely made me a set of “dog tags” out of steel. Carved my name, both simplified and traditional. So legit. They were delivered to the Bu on Moves Day. Love Taiwan. 😀