Great one here. If you missed my last post V will be released January 26th and will be stateside a week or two after that. -Lisette
Saturday night after the baptism, our ward members were in the kitchen making quite a bit of noise. I stuck my head in and asked if we could help. A resounding “YES!” was heard and my companion and I ended up scooping rice from big rice sacks into vacuum-sealable food-storage bags. Definitely the most Asian-Mormony thing I’ve ever done! The Bishop’s wife even started asking me about canning things…. so strange, but I loved it. All the kids were running around and helping out where they could. The EQP, the Bishop, and I got a wicked conveyor-belt system worked out and by the end we decided if the end of the world came tomorrow, we would all go into business together bagging rice. 😀 The Relief Society President was running the tally…. which families could pay for it and which families needed an extra bag thrown in as a Christmas gift. The feeling was one the Pioneers and the ladies at Welfare Square would be proud of — industry and service and Christlike love all rolled into one. I’ve never felt closer to Zion in my life. 😀
Testimonies & Chocolate
This Saturday, two little girls were baptized. One was an investigator of ours… and the other was a flat out miracle; the result of a whole community’s faith. Our investigator was super-cute and super-prepared. Finished the lessons, baptized, and confirmed in four weeks. She’s been coming to Primary forever and just recently her family situation settled down so she could think clearly about what she wanted in life. Turns out she wanted to get baptized… so we obliged. After the baptism, she went up to bear her testimony and told us all that her favorite commandment was Tithing…. because the Sister Missionaries used chocolate M&Ms. The whole congregation went rolling off their pews laughing, and the Elder’s investigator who was baptized the same night got up after her and asked the Elders why his tithing lesson didn’t have M&Ms. The Elders repented and have committed to teaching every Tithing lesson with M&Ms. 😀 Point for Sisters!
The other little girl is the only daughter in a part member family. Her mom is a really less-active member and her father is a devout member of another religion. The mom is kind of an absentee mom… but dad is such a great dad! He takes her out for treats, does water-color painting with her, helps her with her homework, reads scriptures with her, etc. We’ve been aware of this little girl for a while and have been trying to get her mom activated so she didn’t miss the opportunity to be baptized at 8 years old. Everything we’ve tried has failed… but for a whole transfer, we walked over to her house between Church sessions would make sure she was ready to come to church and escort her to the chapel. Apparently her dad noticed and sees her read her scriptures at least three times a day just because she wants to. Her 8th birthday was last week, and my last companion prepared a Triple Combination for her. When we went to give it to her we let her know we were having another baptism (one of her good friends in Primary), and if she wanted they could get baptized together. She was stoked! So we talked to the Bishop about doing an interview and he went to set it up. That Sunday, mom came to pick her up from church and managed help her daughter avoid the Bishop. I talked to the Relief Society Presidency and they said they’d go visit her this week to see what mom’s issue with her daughter being baptized was.
Thursday morning arrived, and I hadn’t received word from the Relief Society President on the status of the little girl. I remembered, vaguely, when we first became aware of this family’s situation I was told they have relatives that are solid members in ZhuBei…. that morning, I called that family but they didn’t answer. The whole day, people from three wards were calling and trying to firm up details of the baptism. My companion and I said a prayer, and the aunt from ZhuBei called us shortly after the “Amens” were said. I explained the situation and she said, “okay, I’ll see what I can do.” Not ten minutes later, she called back: “She’ll be baptized Saturday. If you need any signatures, her father is the one you want to talk to.” I was speechless. She kept talking, “So, Saturday at 7, right? We’ll be there with the whole family. Don’t even worry. Do you need us to prepare anything?” She was incredible!
That night, we were at the church and just had a lesson cancel. Unfortunately, we didn’t really have a backup plan… but then our back up plan walked in the back door. The little girl and her DAD were there to do an interview with the Bishop. I said a prayer and was nearly in tears at this nearly unbelieveable miracle. As she was inside with the Bishop, her dad (who always says hi to us, no matter where he sees us around XinZhu!) and I chatted a bit. She came out and we got the nod from the Bishop. We made some phone calls and confirmed all the talks and kids choirs and everything. The Bishop walked dad and daughter out to the parking lot then came back in, grinning. I asked him what was up and he said simply, “The conversation that the dad had with his daughter this afternoon was this — if you really want to get baptized, I’ll get baptized too. So next week, he’s expecting you two missionaries to head over there and begin teaching him.”
Fast forward to her confirmation the next day…. and her blessing noted that the faith of a child shall lead generations of her family to the Celestial Kingdom. It was a GREAT few days in a row. 😀 Even better was knowing that we helped this little girl come to church and worked for her baptism simply because we love her… not because a number was attached to it anywhere. And after we’d exerted all our efforts and faith, God provided the most prepared investigator for us in return.
Well…. a short blurb about Taiyu (or native Taiwanese language)… it’s way fun to listen to and try to sort out. It sounds a lot like Chinese, but different enough that you really have to pay attention to it. I was taught how to pray in Taiwanese this week and how to say “eating is more important than anything else… including the Emperor.” The two most important things, I feel. 😀 Why, you ask? Well, we now have an investigator who only speaks Taiyu…. no Chinese. Two white girls teaching a cute little Amah has gotta be the funniest sight ever and how I know God really has a sense of humor. He couldn’t have gotten her ready last transfer when I had a Taiwanese companion? Hahah!
Roleplays in District Meeting
I’ve struggled with doing roleplays my whole mission. In the MTC it was nice… because I really hadn’t ever done this missionary thing before, nor spoken any Chinese…. so it was a good teaching model. But once I got to the field, I felt like the bulk of roleplays were useless. This may or may not be attached to my first District Leader, who never took my teaching him serious and always played these ridiculous characters. No, not bitter. 😉 But yes… recently, I’ve been called to repentance and with a sweet reminder from my companion that she’s still learning and would love to learn from me, but the middle of a lesson is not the time to be learning. Companionship study is the time for that. I’ve consented and we’ve had some REALLY great moments through roleplays, and we always use what we roleplayed that day in our teaching and interactions with other missionaries. Over the last month, I’ve found that the roleplays we’ve done in District Meeting are changing, too. As I take them more seriously and invite the Spirit, so do other missionaries and we all improve together. It’s a great feeling! 😀
The Book of Mormon
Our last month’s focus was on the Book of Mormon and our District Leader’s invite from this week was to write our testimony of the Book of Mormon and send it home. Honestly, I think I’ve found the depth of my testimony this month, through watching the changes this book of Scripture has made in my investigator’s lives. I know this book holds all the answers to life’s questions. I know through it’s power, people are healed physically and spiritually. I know this is the most correct book of any book on earth, and you can get closer to God by *living* the principles contained therein. I know this book is why I came on a mission, why I’m still on a mission, and what is going to get me up every morning for the rest of my life. The message it contains is simply this: you have a Heavenly Father who loves you, who wants to communicate with you, has a plan for you, and has provided a way to accomplish every part (even the seemingly impossible) of this plan. This is made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and through faith in Him, repentance, Baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and carrying on in righteousness. It’s that simple. It’s that true.
On the 23rd of December, the XinZhu zone missionaries will be performing a Christmas concert which is pretty exciting. Everyone in XinZhu will be there and this is the best opportunity the missionaries in this area have ever been given to a) serve the community b) associate the “Mormons” with “Christianity” once and for all c) to find people prepared to learn more about Jesus Christ. 😀 Christmas is here!!!
So, there you go! That’s XinZhu for ya!