This is a vignette email, I guess… hahaha!
Brownie Fudge & Blessings — most of last week I had a really weird feeling I couldn’t shake. Not quite serious enough to put a name to, but just something was off. I was homesick (never happens…. haha!), feeling inadequate, not really loving any situation I was put in, treating miracles like they were a dime for a dozen… yeah. Just kind of in a funk. It culminated on Sunday night into a cry fest in the middle of a rice field under a full moon. And I thought just some extra sleep and a trip to Neiwan would solve it. Better, but not 100%. Monday night, we ended up at a family’s house eating icecream. These members are good friends of mine and, really, might as well be family. They could tell something was off, too, and finally I asked for a blessing from the dad. He was more than pleased to help me out, changed into his Sunday best while mom put the baby to sleep. When we were all ready, he put his hands on my head and I just let the love of God wash over me. It was so wonderful and so clear, not even the slightest struggle to understand the blessing being given in Chinese. Amen was said and instantly, I felt a lightness of being and a renewed sense of purpose and health. The bike ride home, I said a good solid “thanks!” prayer… looking back and realizing for myself how many miracles we’d brought to pass in XinZhu, and looking forward to the miracles just around the corner. It was a great conversation and for the rest of the week I’ve been able to see clearly the hand of God in everything I do. 😀
If you don’t want it, I can’t make you — There are a couple sentences in Preach My Gospel that I just want to staple to the forehead of every missionary. One of them is “… helping people who already have testimonies be baptized and confirmed … prepare for temple ordinances, and continue to build the kingdom of God on Earth.” (or something like that). Another one has to do with agency…. put them together and you get the perfect recipie for “dropping” investigators. The principle is this: someone has to have their own desire for change or truth or greater-ness or whatever you want to call it. If there’s no desire there, no ammount of praying, pleading, begging, cute analogies, cards, balloons, activities, nor peikes will make a smidge of difference. So, quit beating your head against the wall and just move onto “those who are prepared to receive you.” Last week we had a couple of those; some of them just first time set ups and some of those long-time investigators. After each one, Wang Jiemie would look at me as if to ask, “what just happened?” We discussed it and came down to the same point: no desire. We said a prayer, giving her responsibility back to God, asking Him to let us know when she was more prepared to receive us. Got a great feeling and moved on. What did we move on to, you ask? A whole room full of member referrals, people on the side of the road who have been waiting for on opportunity to talk to us, and six new members and three returning members headed to the Temple in two weeks. Awesome. 😀
“dou guode hen xunli” — Last week, we were encouraged to branch out in terms of “finding.” Wang Jiemie and I put our heads together and came up with some brilliant ones. For one of them, we needed some stickers made. Granted, this is Asia… so it shouldn’t be too hard, right? Yeah, no. We went to several places and none of them had even close to what we were looking for. More than a few times, we drove by this one store that was promising, but never open. We were about to give up and settle, when Wang Jiemie said, “I want to try it just one more time.” Deal. Guess what? He was open. After we explained what we wanted and he agreed, we got down to talking about money. He was not really forthcoming with a price, and I got a little worried that we were about to be had. Nope, exactly the opposite. He asked, “Y’all are the Mormons, right?” … “yes.” “I see you ride by all the time and I think you are doing great work. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to help you out and it looks like I finally have one. So I want to give you the first two boxes free of charge. Now, if you need any more after that we can discuss a fair price.” Both Wang Jiemie and I were floored, and worried my Chinese was bad and hers hadn’t gotten worse, we asked him to repeat himself. Hahaha! He thought we were crazy, but obliged. We left his shop skipping, knowing God was backing our new finding technique. 😀
Friday in Taipei — It’s official. I’m XinZhu Ren…. going into Taipei on Friday was so stressful. So many people and weird expectations and new missionaries and yeah…. got off the train that night in XinZhu and it felt like coming home, like I could finally breathe. 😀 But, while we were there, managed to work some pretty legit miracles. I have realized how old I am, in terms of the mission, and how much I do not want to train. I was left to baby sit some second and third transfer missionaries. While they are all great ladies, there was only one of them I could really go out an work with. The rest hadn’t sorted out who they were yet… as human beings or as missionaries. So they just felt like they were tagging along. The other one, a Luo Jiemie, was awesome. She and I headed out after some former investigators and some contacts from Temple Tours with a “no guts, no glory” attitude. Came back with a handful of new contacts, and a family that now supports their sister getting baptized. 😀 She took any idea I threw out, thought about it, prayed about it, made it better, and threw it back at me. Real inspiration being received on the fly. So refreshing after even ten minutes of dazed newbies asking “well, what are we going to do?” … hahaah! So, here’s a word of caution to all of you youngin’s putting your mission papers in right now: Come with opinions. Come with personality. Come with a solid relationship with God already in tact. Come with a knowledge of who you are and how you receive revelation. Everything else is provided: scriptures, preach my gospel, rain shoes, skirts, etc. But the mission is NOT the time to sort out who you are. Get the bulk of that done before hand. The mission is the time to refine yourself and become a well-oiled inspiration receiving machine. But before you can be fine-tuned, you have to have the rough-in already completed. So get on your knees and solidify that before you get into the MTC. Not only will your mission life be much less painful, but you’ll also be more capable of helping more people in the same short year and a half.
Baptism & Family — Saturday night, Zhang Jiemie was baptized. The best part!? 20+ people, a good mix of family and friends, showed up to her baptism to support her. It was incredible!! Everyone was in tears, and she was so adorable praying by herself on the pew because she was nervous. She’s a great convert and I know her daughter saw her example that night and will never forget it. Pretty sure she just changed the face of this whole town… I didn’t realize until that night that she’s such a key member of old-XinZhu society. Expect a few more baptisms in the next month or so due to that woman. 😀
BBQ & Answered Prayers — Since last week, both Wang Jiemie and I have been wanting a “kao rou”… and since it was Fast Sunday, I was pulling all kinds of strings to get us a qing ke that night. God heard us, apparently, and some guy I’d only seen once or twice before walked up to me in the parkinglot, asking if we were free Sunday night for a BBQ. I said yes, of course! Turned out to be a huge party, with all my favorite Elders and fun members (who knew they were all related?). 😀 Thanks for that one, God!
So….. yes. Cut a little short because we still have to do some shopping. But just know that life is still GREAT on the West Coast. Miracles, gale force winds, and some crazy weird Chinglish. 😀