Is this what patience looks like?

The humidity is WAY up, mosquitos are out and multiplying like bunny rabbits, and I got a sunburn last Friday. Summer is knocking on the gates of Tao Yuan City and I’m STOKED! Pretty sure I’m the only missionary, maybe the only foreigner, that’s excited about this… except for this old salty fisherman from Florida I found on Saturday. 😀

The theme of this week is the miracle of patience. Yeah, that tasted bitter coming out of my mouth. Haha! Hang with me, though. It’s a great story: perhaps the most frustrating thing about being part of any organization is sifting through the layers of bureaucracy. Like playing a game of telephone; the message you started out with is never the message you end up with. The Mission is no exception. Thankfully, I anticipated this before I even submitted my papers… and, had some good practice dealing with it in the MTC. All in preparation for the events of this week, I’m pretty sure.

A few weeks ago, an idea was born in our District Meeting. Kind of a larger project, but we were all clear on what it would involve in terms of permission, time, resources, etc. Conveniently, the Zone Leaders are in my District. So there was one layer already sifted. They took some time to communicate up but eventually, the word came back down: it’s a go. That day, we got word out to every missionary in our Zone and got the wheels really moving with the Tao Yuan stake. Everything was falling into place… maybe a little too well. The next afternoon, the Zone Leaders called. “President said ceace and desist. Apparently there was some miscommunication. He said not to think about this for a few months. And not to call him asking why. Do you have any questions?”

Silence.

Most of that silence on my part was shock…. and then a larger part of it was sorting out this strange new feeling inside. It wasn’t anger. It wasn’t frustration. Not exasperation or exhaustion. Not disappointment nor discouragement….

“Sister Oler… are you still there?”

I just laughed. “Yup. Still here.”

“Do you have any questions?”

“Of course… but don’t worry about it. I’ll see you on Sunday.”

Hung up the phone and looked at my planner… I just finished writing out that project’s major milestones and when they needed to be accomplished by. I flipped my pen over and began erasing — and thought about what Tan Jiemie taught me: always buy erasable pens. You will be erasing more than you’ll be writing.

That night, the Zone Leaders had a lesson at the Chapel the same time we did. Hu ZhangLao saw me and started tripping over himself with apologies. I stopped him, “Seriously, don’t worry about it. The mission does strange things to people… and with me, I think I’ve finally sorted out what patience feels like. Of course, I want this to happen and I don’t really understand why not right now… but I have hope for the future. I know it will happen some day and I also know until that day, I have other work to do.” He was floored. I was floored.

Am I becoming a patient person? Weird.

The next day, Saturday, two huge miracles… that are going to need all my time and attention…. dropped into my lap. One is a three-year-long investigator who is finally ready to get baptized. She and I are a personality match and some things have fallen into place in her life that makes her even more prepped for baptism. It’s still going to take some work on her part, but she’s willing to start. She prayed for me to stay in Tao Yuan last night, and so did I. 😀 The other one is probably the most delicate situation I’ve run across yet… and has me hobnobbing with Tao Yuan royalty. Mostly it comes down to a very prepared person stuck in the middle of a very traditional family, with an image to maintain. We’ll see how that develops.

So, moral of the story. Don’t just count to ten when you get mad… take a step back, say a prayer, and hang on. God’s got something else in mind for you, you’re just not ready to see it yet.

Much love,

Hua Sheng Jiemei

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