The only thing I can think about equating this week to is childbirth…. lots of pain, lots of tears, and indescribible ammounts of joy. 😀 And looking back across this week, so many good things happened it’s hard to believe there were two days of Typhoon in the middle of it! Crazy!
I’m still not coherent at this hour of the morning… so here’s a list and a few short stories of the dozens of miracles we saw every day this week:
Chen JM — a less active member who has called me randomly over the last three transfers. We’ve met with her off and on, but never really seen any progress. She was baptized 7 years ago, and for the last 3 has been attending the Catholic church. Well, she called again two days ago. We set up to meet with her on Saturday. Employed some good listening skills and sorted out that somewhere along the line, she’d been offended by some other members… and had a few doctrinal misunderstandings. We sorted those out and asked her why she went to church for those first four years. She said when she goes to church she has a happy feeling. We testified that feeling was indeed the Holy Ghost, that God wants us to have that feeling all the time, and that she could have more of it by coming to church. She was excited and said she would come. Later that night, she called to say she was not feeling like going. I coached her through it, and reminded her of that feeling she wants so badly. She agreed and I prayed that we’d see her the next day at church. We weren’t expecting her until the afternoon, but she walked into the morning services, just beaming. Talking with people like she’d never left, old friends of hers came to thank us for helping her come to church… apparently they’ve been trying and nothing worked. The Relief Society President pulled me aside and told me Chen JM had called her last night as well. She was welcoming and promised to sit by her the whole time. It was perfect. She called me Sunday night and reported that she loved church and she never wanted to leave again. 😀
Chen JM — one of our investigators getting baptized on 8/11 sat next to me in Sacrament meeting this week. She asked what was considered a good “testimony.” I told her any thoughts or feelings she had about the Book of Mormon, the Gospel, Jesus, the Prophet, etc. about their truthfulness or how knowing these things helped her life would count as a testimony. She just nodded and went back to listening. A few minutes later, she turned to me again: “If I run out of things to say, can you help me?” Sure! I told her I’d go up with her if she wanted me too. So we did! She bore powerful testimony about prayer changing her father’s mind about church and allowing her to be baptized. As she was talking, the whole ward could feel the power and conviction behind her words. The bishop looked at me, a little incredulous. I just smiled and nodded. After church, he pulled me aside, “Is that the baptism you were telling me about for this coming Saturday?” “Yes.” “Ok. I need to let every one know it’s her.” Then he ran off to personally announce her baptism is Relief Society and Elder’s Quorum.
Typhoon — Mid-typhoon, a member family drove to our house to deliver some medicine for my knees. While waiting for them, we met a man who lives in our building. He has cancer and needs to at least walk around for a few minutes each day. We spoke with him for a few minutes about America and Texas, about the Taiwanese people being so warm and welcoming. He proceeded to tell us a story about how he’s lived in this building for a very long time and has seen lots of missionaries come and go, about how he’s impressed with how humble and hard working we are, and about how he actually has a Book of Mormon from when he was a kid. We asked if we could get him a new translation of the book and his eyes lit up. He promised to read it and was excited about the prospect of coming to church on a Sunday in the near future. We grabbed a copy from our house and put it on his doorstep before returning home for the night. He was so grateful and said he’d start on it right away.
This got us thinking… there are literally thousands of people who live in our apartment complex. They’ve seen Sister missionaries living there for YEARS but because we’re not allowed to proselyte inside, the bulk of them have no idea what we do. One morning this week, we took a look around and realized there are so many resources available to people who live here. It really is like a little village — it’s own daycares, libraries, Family Mart, noodle shops, etc. Turns out there’s also conference rooms you can rent out for super cheap, with internet capabilities. So we asked our new Ward Mission Leader if he’d be willing to organize a family history activity there. He immediately picked up on what we were trying to do… not so much about family history as it is giving people an opportunity to see what missionaries do and ask us questions in a non-stress environment. Even better, his last calling and first love was in Family History. He’s heading that project and I believe it might become a regular Ward Activity, as we also have several less-active members who live in our complex. We’ll keep you posted on that. 😀
Wu DX — A new convert who is 13. He’s just like most 13 year old boys, except that he has the added pressure of having a kind of messed up family. Recently he’s been acting out and kind of being a pain. We know he’s a really good artist, so we asked our Ward Mission Leader if he could involve Wu DX in a project we’re working on by asking him to do the advertising. The WML understood and later that day, we saw the two of them talking earnestly about it. Wu DX realized an adult was asking for his help… this was a big responsibility and it was all on him. You could see the change in him almost instantly. 😀
8 people to church — yeah, right? Our District Leader had to ask me for that number twice because he thought he’d herd wrong the first time. The best part is these are people who are coming to church because they love it. They love that feeling of taking the Sacrament, sharing in others burdens and celebrations, and learning more about how the Gospel can be applied in their lives. Even better (if you can believe it!), my companion and I don’t have to accompany them through church — the members all do it voluntarily. Members see someone they’ve met maybe once or twice through peike, and without prompting they move to sit by the investigator, explain new things, see how the investigator’s recent prayer and scripture study is going, etc. Which frees my companion and I up to sit next to less-active members, etc. It’s incredible! Xinzhu wards, across the board, are all involved and invested in missionary work. The feeling is completely different than when I first got here and you can tell the healing power of the Atonement has had effect here. 😀
Member’s husbands — and all this week, we ended up in some strange places around XinZhu. But every time, we ran into a member. With out fail, each of these members were women whose husbands either don’t care or oppose the church. But seeing us on the road and getting even just a passing smile and nod has made an impact. This Sunday, these members reported their husbands were asking them all kinds of questions about Sister Missionary lifestyle, etc. One member’s less active son showed up to church, excited to see us again, pass the Sacrament, and feel like church was a place he had friends, felt love, etc. 😀
Yes…. so, that was a brief taste of our week. Incredible!! 😀 I wouldn’t trade this for anything, not even two knees that work. 😀