The daily grind of a middle-aged missionary

Here’s the daily grind:

Monday: The Elders wanted to go to the new Sogo Big City that just opened in our area. Turns out we have a bunch of girls for Elders in our District… they flipped out and went shopping mad. My only claim to fame was pulling the “foreigner card” and getting the mall staff to help us find eight seats together in the Food Court. Poor Lin ZhangLao was trying his hardest, but wasn’t getting anywhere. More people than you could even imagine in a place at once. So I turned to a manager-type-looking man, who conveniently had a name badge on. “Mr. Wang, congratulations on the wonderful opening! This is certainly a good start, but I was hoping you could help me find some seats for me and my friends.” He hopped to, delegated, and within 5 minutes found eight seats together. Loved it. Lin ZhangLao was floored… I just told him sometimes it pays to be a girl and a foreigner. πŸ˜‰

Tuesday: After taking the Christlike Attribute inventory and realizing I had some places to work on…. opportunities immediately presented themselves. How annoying. πŸ˜‰ Two incredibly frustrating investigators (why are they scheduled on the same day?), the rest of the day full of cancels (we never get “fanged” in XinZhu…. everyone’s business etiquette is too good for that. They do call and cancel, though) and mini-comp inventories. The only saving grace was the XiangShan Elders bringing me Brazilian Pizza for lunch. The short story is, there’s a Brazilian family in our ward that has a pizza shop. But it’s far enough into XiangShan that the sisters never have time to go down there… so we invited the Elders to participate in a service project. They were ready and willing. πŸ˜€ That night was redeeming, as we ran into the Bishop on his way over to visit a Ward member in the Hospital. Got some good feedback from him, sang primary hymns in English, and went to bed feeling like I’d finally accomplished something.

Wednesday: Spent four glorious hours in ZhuBei, being trained by Elder Gong of the Asia Area Seventy Presidency… also, a former professor of mine. His wife accompanied him, one of my former Chinese teachers. Outside the fact that the concepts they taught us were incredible, it was good to see them. An excellent reminder of how far I’ve come since Freshman year of college… It’s hard to describe that training session. Mostly calm, like you forgot time and stress and everything. Spiritually and intellectually invigorating. Loved every moment of it. English class that night was a blast — I love teaching Advanced English. We get into real discussions. I taught them about the communication model… sender, receiver, message, feedback, channel, etc. Talked about different kinds of feedback, including non-verbal cues. They loved it! Transitioned that into our relationship with God and how we need to not only be sending messages (prayer) every day, but we also need to be seeking feedback (scripture study, listening to the Holy Ghost, coming to church, etc). It was wonderfully effective and got them all thinking. Pretty sure the bulk of them are coming early next week so we can have more “spiritual message” time. Haha!

Thursday: I’d been trying for the last three weeks to point out some investigators that weren’t actually progressing and we probably need to stop meeting with. But every time I did, my dear companion would go into fits. Point being that the Elders are our only resource for finding (because we’re always teaching), and if we don’t start making room in the schedule to take care of their referrals, they will stop giving them to us. So, heading into this WPS, I was stressed out of my mind. I prepped her in the morning with a good “We’ve gotta talk about something in WPS.” Apparently it was enough…. and my “prioritization” talk landed smoothly. She’d been thinking about it, too…. That was a nice little present from Heavenly Father. That whole night was POURING rain. Even the natives thought we had a Typhoon hanging out in Hualien or something. Ridiculous. Soaked through and through, but strangely loving every second of it. Welcome to Taiwan.

Friday: Found out our favorite member had a miscarriage…. so, with our wonderfully free morning (straight up miracle) we went to see her. She’s doing better than expected, until we both realized she’s a) the strongest woman we know b) so firmly rooted in the Gospel that nothing could shake her. Instead of our plan of walking her through the Plan of Salvation and gently reminding her that families can be together forever, she started bearing testimony of the Atonement and talking about how beautiful God’s plan really is. I was in tears more than she was. Then she fed us lunch, and we distracted her by telling her funny missionary stories. It was still looking like the start of Monsoon season when we left her house, and like a couple of greenies we’d scheduled the two farthest places in our area back-to-back. Needless to say, we were soaked again. You just accept it and realize the old Hakka man next to you with no shoes on is the MOST intelligent man in the whole world, then start laughing hysterically. Yeah, pretty sure a good chunk of the Taiwanese population thinks I’m crazy. Ah well. πŸ˜€

Saturday: Anytime a switch up in a companionship happens, there’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s DTR time. BYU students should all recognize the acronym… but for those of you who are not so “in the know,” it’s dating lingo for “Determine the Relationship.” My old companion Gao Jiemie was a PRO at this and I’ve taken a few pages from her book recently. I made copies of the Baptismal Interview Questions and, strangely, had a reason and a prompting to pull them out in nearly every lesson this week. Several people with the same concern: I’m not ready for baptism, I don’t think my faith is strong enough, I’m not too clear on the doctrine, etc. These are all people who are “shang wan ke” and Bu Jiemei was struggling to sort out why they weren’t just leaping in the waters of baptism. Saturday was the culmination of all of this — nearly every lesson turned into asking the BIQs. Absolutely genius. Ask the question, then ask “why?” Simply, “Why do you believe that? What happened to help you believe that?” Then, you just listen. Your investigator will lay out for you the next several week’s worth of lessons… and essentially, the path they see themselves taking to baptism. Elder Holland was right (haha!) we need to listen. These people are people, not numbers. And if you ask the right questions, then LISTEN, they will tell you everything you need to know.

Sunday: Let me tell you how much I am going to sleep when I get home from Taiwan. All the way to Sunday, and then I’ll probably sleep some more. Attending three wards on Sunday is rough, especially when it’s the 5th Sunday. Not sure about your Home Ward, but in my Home Ward the 5th Sunday is famously boring, mostly because it’s a bunch of lawyers trying to sort out what to do with an extra Sunday, a wild-card topic, and the Relief Society and Elder’s Quorum meeting together. Multiply that by three and welcome to my Sunday this week. Sacrament meeting in each ward was incredible, and so was Sunday School (Thank you Liu HuiZhang and Lin DiXiong for keeping me entertained!). But that third hour killed it. One lesson was on how-to and how-not-to use the Chapel. Another was on the benefits of finding a job you like. The other… I skipped out on. God blessed me with Young Women aged investigators. By the end of it, I think even my synapses were too tired to function. Went home to eat and recover, then went out for some good old fashioned door-knocking. Made life worth living again, as we were invited into a few houses and were given some gorgeous flowers by a very cute old lady.

I’m not sure where the common theme or underlying take-away from this week is… other than this: today, the sun is out. Spring is here. We’re heading up 18 Peaks mountain. Life is good. Elder Gong, talking about Enduring to the End said, “Enduring to the End means enduring from 30 to 40, then 40 to 50, 50 to 60, 60 to 70, if you’re lucky 70 to 80, and 80 to 90. Then taking all that life and pushing it further, into something greater beyond the veil. And then enduring some more.” I’m pretty sure he was talking about our entire mortal experience, but I can’t help but think he was talking directly to Sister Missionaries. Each transfer represents 10 years on your “missionary life” and if you don’t break it down to one transfer at a time, one week at a time, one day at a time… enduring to the end can get exhausting. So, for right now, I’ll focus on enduring from 50 to 60. Jiu hao le.

Love you all and next week I’ll attach some photos from the “gaoji” camera of the beauty that is 18 Peaks. πŸ˜€

Hua Sheng Jiemie

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