Maybe this photo will make up for the last one. I’m truly at a loss when she doesn’t send me photos. -L
My cute little companion, Tsai Jiemie, pointed out something to me the other day. The conversation started with “You know how each of the Apostles have their specific personalities in talks — like things they particularly focus on?” I just laughed and looked at her like “where is this going?” She eventually ended up at, “Well, I think your focus would be ‘teach the doctrine.’ Every time anyone has a problem or a question, you always bring it back to the doctrine.” I just laughed and asked her, “So, who do you think my favorite Apostles are?” She guessed correctly: Elder Nelson and Elder Bednar. 😀 But, as the week continued, I realized that every single interaction I had included some point of doctrine… and THAT is what caused change.
Two members, Two languages, One faith
After church on Sunday, one of my favorite members pulled me aside and said she needed my help. More than willing, I asked her what was up. She pointed to one of the foreigners in our ward and said “I want to talk to her.” I just looked at her, “Ok… go talk to her. Your English is great.” She shook her head and looked serious. “No, I need your help.” I got that she didn’t just need translation help — she needed the support of someone whom she trusted and could help translate feelings that she’s never spoken outloud before.
I asked the foreign member if I could borrow her for a moment to speak with this Taiwanese member. The three of us went into a nearby classroom and began the most intense discussion ever. Both of them opened up to each other about the problems they face daily in their personal lives, trials they’ve been through, and the struggles of dealing with other people’s agency. There was some crying and some understanding that was deeper than language. It was a good feeling to be helping to women connect and feel like they had a friend …. but then it got deeper. The Taiwanese member asked, “I just don’t know what to do about this anymore?” Now… you have to realize, this member has been a member for 30+ years, served a mission, etc. The foreign member simply said, “I rely on prayer every day. Faith and repentance. Knowing that I want to be happier. God wants me to be happier. And trusting that He has a plan for me to change. I can’t always see the plan because somedays are really dark… but I just close my eyes, and remember that I DO trust God. I DO know He’s there. I DO know He loves me.” The Spirit was so strong in that moment; she was teaching doctrine.
Suddenly the conversation shifted — I was no longer translating. I didn’t need to. The Taiwanese member would ask a question, and the foreign member answered with exactly what she needed to hear. They went back and forth like that, forgetting I was even there. To watch our minds and hearts be opened and quickened, and see real Spiritual communication taking place was awe inspiring. An hour later, we all sat back in silence, exhausted but simultaneously uplifted and edified. We said a prayer of thanksgiving and left that little classroom knowing that God is listening and He can overcome any and all barriers to help His children. Chalked that up as one of the most profoud moments on my mission.
Word of Wisdom: you can only convert to the point you’re converted
A month or so ago, a missionary was complaining to me that every single one of his investigators who is close to baptism is struggling with the Word of Wisdom. He’s had a bunch of support from the Ward, provided peikes with all kinds of different and strong testimonies of overcoming addictions, etc but nothing has seemed to work. So I asked him, “Well… how do you feel about the Word of Wisdom?” He was just silent…. then told me about how before his mission, he obeyed the Word of Wisdom, but didn’t really have a strong testimony of it… mostly he just thought it was annoying, but necessary if he didn’t want his other member friends to judge him. I invited him that week to dig into and read up on the Word of Wisdom– where it comes from, what all it entails, the doctrine of improvement and progression coupled with the principles of self-mastery and moderation in all things — then get down on his knees and ask God for confirmation that the Word of Wisdom is vital to salvation. He said he was willing. I followed up once and he just gave me a “well, it’s going well” answer. But more important than any answer he could have given me, is seeing the fruits of his labor. He has two of those investigators getting baptized this coming weekend, and the other one is interviewing this week.
This same missionary and I recently helped our ward put together a Ward Mission Plan. As we discussed with the Stake President what he feels this ward can do to accomplish our Stake Goal of each member preparing a family to begin meeting with the missionaries, the Stake President brought up a valid point. We need to help our already active families make sure their really, solidly founded on the basic principles and practices of a gospel-centered life. Are they having daily family prayer? Are they having daily family scripture study? Are they holding regular family home evening? Are they attending church together and really understanding what it means to partake of the Sacrament? If the answer to all of those is yes, they’re family will be naturally attractive to their friends and neighbors, and their home will always be an environment where outsiders can feel the Holy Ghost.
In short — we need to make sure we’re all personally and as a family unit not only converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but that we’re committed to living it as well. After all, the best testimony you can share is quietly but consistently going about doing what you’re supposed to be doing. And invite others to join you along they way. So, we designed a Ward Mission Plan with that in mind– how do we first help each family be converted and committed, so deeply and so naturally, that other’s can’t help but be converted as well? The first draft was finished this weekend and will be discussed in the upcoming PEC, finalized next week in Ward Council.
Training by Tsai Jiemei: realizing I’m not the only one
We had a training meeting in Tao Yuan this last week. First, it was way fun to be back in the Tao1/3 Chapel, see some of my favorite members in the whole world, and some of the most incredible missionaries. But the best part was definitely when President asked a question. My companion and I (we’ve only been together for one week by this point) were the only two to raise our hands. President called on my companion, and as she spoke I realized they were the exact words I wanted to say. I just smiled and thanked God for such incredible companionship unity — after all, these concepts are not difficult, but also not ones that everyone’s thought about on their own yet. It was a nice feeling — knowing I wasn’t the only one with that outlook on missionary work. Even better to realize the only other one in the room was my companion. 😀
After she gave her answer, President invited her up to participate in the roleplay… where she pretty much trained two zones of missionaries on how to set goals and make plans. It was a wonderful moment for her to be recognized and appreciated for something that she does naturally every day and I loved being able to sit back and support her from the audience. She’s so cute and is right on track to become the best missionary ever. 😀 I love her and learn so much from her every day.
Eventhough this week has been characterized by working with members and missionaries… and as we’ve been going about doing good, God’s put some really incredible new investigators in our path. We have four incredibly strong, beautiful, independent women investigating the Gospel right now. They are all successful, smart, driven ladies who are doing their best… but recently have found that they’re missing something. One of them is trying to balance family and career, and is so giving that she just feels exhausted. Another is finally reached the top and now she doesn’t know where to go… like her life has no purpose. Another is looking for an eternal companion (her words, in English, even! I was like: woe!? Are you sure you’re not already a member? HAHA!). Another is just realizing what the oustide world has to offer and is looking for an environment where she can learn who she is and be appreciated just because she’s a human being.
We also have a Primary Class full of kids getting baptized in December. Their mothers are just returning to activity, overcoming things like divorce, misunderstandings between members, long-stays in mainland China, etc. As they feel that forgiving and uplifting power of the Atonement, their first thought is turning to their children. Awesome! Because of this, though, I’ve spent quite a few Sundays attending Primary. This Sunday, the lesson was on what it takes to prepare for a mission. One of the kids brought up “love” and shared a memorized scripture about how great will be your joy if you bring only one soul unto Christ (such a legit little kid!).
To illustrate this point, the Primary President asked me in one month how many people (on average) I’ve helped to be baptized. I gave her a number and she began asking the kids questions: “If this person continues to lead a Gospel life, gets married, has kids, then all their kids go on missions, convert at least 10 people…. how many people do you think will be able to have the blessings of the Gospel after 100 years?” The masses of stick figures appearing on the white board brought me to tears, as I realized the work every single missionary does here has such a huge impact.
Some final numbers she put up on the board were this: 7–>14,000,000 < 200 years. Those numbers should look familiar… In less than 200 years, this church has grown from 7 members to 14,000,000. How is this done? By teaching correct and true doctrine. That's all. Back then, there was no White Handbook, no Preach My Gospel. No MTC. No Liahona Magazine. No biographies of modern prophets, no "Mormon Doctrine," no social media efforts, no intrest sparked by Presidential Candidates…. just a Book of Mormon, a distinct knowledge of what the Holy Ghost feels like, this overwhelming desire to help everyone feel God's love, and a call from the Prophet of God to "go and preach the Gospel." After that discussion, the kids were fired up and even my little ones who aren't baptized yet committed to go on missions. Even better, they are preparing now by inviting all their classmates to their baptism in a couple weeks. Legit. 😀
…. so yeah. There's XinZhu for the week. 😀 Isn't it beautiful here?