This week I can testify of something cool — no matter what country you’re in, every West Coast has the same feel to it. The moment I landed in XinZhu, it felt familiar. The sunshine, the humidity, the greenery, the beautiful people, the open-toed sandals, the salty breeze…. all of it added up to California. Add some major tech companies up at the Science Park and you’re looking at the Silicon Valley of Taiwan. And I love it! My cute internet cafe even has Firefox… praise heaven. Rummaging through the “free box” I found a tourist’s guide to XinZhu and we’re stoked to work through it on Pdays.
My District has some legit missionaries in it… including my buddy Wang ZhangLao from the MTC. He’s in ZhuDong, so they have their own chapel, but they are in our district. Which means I get to see him once a week, and we get to hang out on Pday. I’m not sure I’ve told you much about him, but we pretty much have the same sense of humor, and for a long time in the MTC his jokes were the only thing that kept me alive. We got on Island he was shipped down to Tai Dong, so no one’s seen very much of him. As soon as he sorted out I’d moved into the district, he called me and told me we had to make up for lost time. Love that kid! This is also my first District without Zone Leaders. Kind of a strange feeling, but nothing to freak out about. Three natives, one Aussie, and the rest of us all came to Taiwan at the same time. A pretty young District, but we make it work.
The ward(s!) are legit. We had a couple activities this week so I got to meet most of them before Sunday came around. As we stood at the front door, welcoming people to church, the Elders were trying to whisper over my shoulder who was who. Their jaws dropped when the members called out to me from across the parking lot: “Hua Sheng Jiemei!!” And that’s how we roll. 😉 Our investigators are also pretty legit… everyone’s English here is beyond compare. Probably better than my English right now! Aiyo! I’m so used to speaking Chinese, that I’ll continue speaking Chinese, and they’ll respond in English. It’s pretty funny to watch, actually!
Perhaps the greatest challenge of this week has been insecurity. Last transfer, Lin Jiemie asked me what I would rather deal with: pride or insecurity? I told her, flat out, pride is much easier to cure. All you need to do is pray for some accident or catastrophe…. some situation where no amount of money or charm can save you. You have to rely on God. Overnight, pride is swept away. Insecurity, on the other hand…. aiyo. This week I’ve sorted out that insecurity is also a form of pride. So much time is spent thinking of the self… that nothing gets accomplished. Instead of garden-variety pride that takes the viewpoint of “I’m too good for this,” insecurity says “I’m not good enough for this.” Either way — there’s no trust in God. There’s no faith that things will work together for your good, that God will qualify you for the work He wants you to do.
Having this quality in an investigator is difficult and requires that you start back at square one: God is your Heavenly Father. He loves you and wants to bless you. Now, having this quality in a companion has turned out to be even more challenging. At the end of every day, before we start planning, I ask her to tell me what she felt like she did well that day. At first, she couldn’t think of any. So I sketched out our day as I saw it, told her about the moments I saw her follow the Spirit, about the improvements she’s made in bike contacting, about the time I saw her get rejected but she kept going and greeted the next scooter with a smile. To watch her face, you could tell it had never occurred to her before that there was even one thing she did well that day. Broke my heart. And made me eternally grateful for the support and I love I had just before I went into the MTC… from home, from my ward, and from my work. Without y’all, I would be a wreck in the mission field.
So, as I look at the week coming up… I’m taking a deep breath and realizing that starting at square one with a missionary is going to test my newly acquired patience and capacity to love. But, I’m willing. I can see what my companion can be: an incredible missionary. The trick is getting her to see it, too.
Hua Sheng Jiemie!