Vanessa amazes me. She managed to talk to me, dad and I’m sure lots of others while writing this novel. -Lisette
The more I hear about what’s going on in the world, the more I think God is making up for me missing the Olympics.
First — Romney is a front runner for next president? Second — the Yankees are winning??? Either you are all lying to me…. OR miracles really can happen. 😀
Speaking of miracles, there’s been too many to even count here in XinZhu this week! Let’s start with the greatest family ever getting baptized and confirmed! As the mother was bearing her post-baptism testimony, I realized how little missionaries actually do. The women in her extended family are all members and one night in family prayer, thought she needed some extra help. They reached out to her and prepared her to meet with us. In fact, by the time we even knew who she was, she’d finished reading the Book of Mormon and had been praying every day. We invited her kids to join her and they’ve been having daily family scripture study and daily family prayer and attending church every week since. At church we never sit by them… only because there isn’t room! Every second of Sunday they are surrounded by friends in their Ward. All we really did was answer the phone, agree to go have lunch with a member. Hahah! Something no missionary could possibly say no to! Such an awesome feeling — one of being absolutely an instrument in the Lord’s hands… to really lose yourself in the work. So, as you read about these next few miracles I want to point out that it’s all because of incredible members!!
The Husbands — in visiting active members of our ward, we’ve realized that a handful of the real anchors in our wards are women who have husbands that are not yet members. Dai Jiemei and I decided to focus on them and discussed what makes them different from any other member referral. In talking to each one of their wives, we found a pattern: they’ve all met with Elders before, sometimes multiple times, and all felt like they were getting pushed. For that reason, eventhough the Elders we have now are not that way, there’s a stigma attached to a white shirt and a tie. So, we are taking a different approach. First, is just making sure they know we’re real people… that we care about and love their wife and want nothing more than to serve her. This takes visiting their wife at a time when he’s home and just talking about what we love — how cool his wife is, baseball, sports cars, kids, fruit in Taiwan, etc. Second, after that relationship of trust is establizedh, searching and praying for natural, almost casual ways to bring up the Gospel. That’s not difficult at all. 😀 Third, this conversation always gets to a really good place to ask them how they feel about church, and really get down to why they aren’t enjoying the blessings of this Gospel. We’re incredibly humbled when they open up to us about issues they have with other church members, some commandments, or even what they feel are their personal inadequacies. These are often things they haven’t even shared with their wife. After each of these visits, the wife always finds us the next week and church and thanks us for helping start an open dialogue. A few of them are our new investigators — a few of them still need some more time. After Ward Council this Sunday, I pulled the Bishop aside and let him know what we’ve been up to. He was so moved and reported that one of the husbands we thought might be good to go visit has just recently allowed his wife to receive her Endowment. I know and can feel God guiding us in this effort to help strong members of the church have an eternal family. Greatest feeling ever!
Meeting in Member’s Houses — We have a progressing investigator named Wang Jiemie. She loves meeting with us and has had a peike for every lesson so far. She lives pretty far up in the mountains, though, so each lesson has been at the church. We set up with her again and got her address so we could solidify which Ward she lives in. Her address looked familiar, so I pulled out the Ward Directory and turns out she lives in the same community as the Primary President and two blocks down from the Stake President. Awesome! I asked the Stake President’s Wife if we could meet at her house for the next lesson. She thought that was great and even offered to drive us up to her house. She got in touch with the investigator herself and explained how to get to her house. We arrived and the Stake President was home, more than willing to join in our lesson. We started off with a prayer and an overview of what we wanted to talk about. Our investigator pulled out her Book of Mormon (which we gave her only two weeks ago) and flipped it open to the Guide to the Scriptures. She had things highlighted and notes in the margin and stickynotes poking out everywhere. She said, “I started reading what you asked me to, got down to something about being worthy to receive the Holy Ghost and wanted to know what it took to be worthy…so I started looking it up myself and have some quesitons about… ” We were all in shock for about a second, then we dove into a good, honest discussion about the principles of Faith, Reptentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. On our way out, Hong Jiemei told us of all the lessons she’s ever pei-ed, she’s the most prepared person to really convert and lead a Gospel lifestyle. Later that evening, after our baptism, the Stake President pulled us aside and thanked us for really preparing people for a lifetime in the Gospel. He also said he’s never seen as many prepared people as we’ve been bringing to church before in his life. We simply thanked him for his vision for XinZhu and helping out the missionaries so much. It’s good to feel that he trusts us and is willing to support us and go to bat for us when needed. Wang Jiemie’s next peike is a the Primary President, who lives just one building over from her. 😀
Zhang Jiemei — Earlier this week, the Elders called us with a lady that had contacted them on the street. We went over to see her after a lesson last week and realized she’s a former from about ten years ago. Recently, she’s had some issues with her daughter and eventhough she’s a Christian and attends church regularly, she doesn’t feel the same kind of peace there than she did when she was meeting with missionaries. We met with her once again last week, bringing a peike with us and invited her to the baptism. She attended and we introduced her to a member and asked her to take care of her. She did! By the end of the service, this member and her had become best friends, Zhang Jiemie was so moved by the feeling of love and care that she said “Absolutely, I’ll be at church tomorrow.” We called a couple ladies from her Ward and let them know she’d be attending, invited them to sit by her and accompany her through church. They were so excited and willing to do anything to help one of our investigators. She arrived at church and was welcomed by these Sisters with open arms. They were so involved that Dai Jiemei and I were left to just wave at her and say welcome. By the end of Relief Society, she was in tears saying she’d finally found the feeling she was missing and she committed to come to church for the rest of her life. 😀 I know this couldn’t have happend without our incredible members!
Xu Jiemie — a few weeks ago, one of our Relief Society Presidents offered to give us a ride to the Zone Conference in Zhubei. When she picked us up, she mentioned that she had a friend who lived in our complex who used to meet with missionaries. We took down her information and got in touch with her. Her name looked familiar, so I dug through our records and realized she was a former that had been dropped just the transfer before I moved her. We set up to meet with her and called the Relief Society President to ask her to peike. This Relief Society President does not live in her friend’s ward, but we prayed about it and felt we needed to start from their relationship in an effort to help Xu Jiemei be comfortable with the church. Turns out that was the most inspired decision ever. We met in our complex’s Family Mart and just watched as the Relief Society President bore her testimony of how much the Gospel helped her overcome challenges. She explained the Gospel lifestyle in ways that no foreigner and no outsider to their relationship could have, using examples of their mutual friends, etc. By the end of the lesson, Xu Jiemie was excited about continuing to explore this Gospel, knowing that she not only had her good friend by her side, but that she would feel the hand of God guiding her decisions. Dai Jiemei and I came out of that lesson both feeling like we’d just sat and watched the most incredible show of our lives — we said maybe two or three sentences strung together… just good questions of the soul, placed by the Holy Ghost to help the conversation deepen. It was so beautiful!
Young Men / Young Women — When I first moved to XinZhu, one of the wards had only one active Young Man and two semi-active Young Women. This Sunday, I found one of the less active Young Women wandering around the halls instead of being in class. So I told her I’d take her down there and make sure it wasn’t too boring. 😀 We arrived to a room packed full of young men and young women, laughing and really discussing how the scriptures could apply in their lives. I did a quick count and realized that the bulk of the people in that room were new converts — two brothers who were baptized by the Elders a couple weeks ago, one of our new converts from just three weeks ago, a couple recently returned young women we’ve been working with, and even a young man who I haven’t seen in three months. As the new converts all contributed and shared their testimonies and favorite scriptures, you could see the less-active kid’s faces change… they wanted that kind of strength to their testimony and could see that it was possible! The Spirit was so strong in that lesson and I’m incredible grateful for the miracles God provides in XinZhu every day, helping the missionaries strengthen the Ward by bringing new people in and providing good exmamples to those who may not be the strongest yet in the Gospel. As we left, I noticed the one young man who had just returned to church was kind of on the outside of this little cluster. I pointed him out to one of the recent convert brothers and told him he had a chance to be a good missonary. He just smiled and within moments the two boys were laughing and talking and swapped phone numbers. Awesome!
Dai Jiemie and I just received the Liahona for this month and were super excited to flip through and realize it’s all about member-missionary work. I didn’t realize how much I would learn about being a good member of this church by heading off and being a missionary. Too often we separate those two groups of people. But President Hinckley was right… there’s a better way! The more missionaries really dig into the ward they serve in and be a member of it — get to know the members, love them, serve them, invite them to continually come unto Christ — the more the members will dig into missionary work — will be willing to open their homes and hearts to investigators, and even better arrange for the missionaries to come into contact with their friends and family members. I’m incredibly excited to come home and tap into the resources, the hidden talents of our Ward. I love this work and I’m so relieved to know that it never has to end. 😀
Hua Sheng Jiemie