August 19th, 2012
August 19th, 2012
That song from Brother Bear, "Tell Everybody I'm On My Way" is my theme song for this week. It's not technically a Church song, but I think it's rather spiritual and perfectly fitting for my current situation. As we were biking along this week, chuan'in the jiao, I kept thinking "Tell everybody I'm on my way! And I'm a-lovin' every step I take!" And when it was dumping buckets of rain I changed the words to "with the rain pouring down yes I'm on my way! ....blah blah blah....new friends and new places to see....with....the rain...pouring down yes I'm on my waaaaay! And there's NO PLACE THAT I'D RATHER BE!!!!!!!!" I don't know if it was very evident in last week's email but my first like 3 days here in my first area were pretty challenging. I felt overwhelmed and a little discouraged at my lack of skills (Chinese, teaching, contacting, etc.), but I just kept praying and praying all the time. This really is a wonderful place to be, full of generous, kind, beautiful people, but I needed to find that strength beyond my own to really settle in and to cherish and love each moment of each day. As I poured out my heart in prayer to Heavenly Father as we biked around all day, I was filled with comfort and strength. It was a time in my life when I could truly feel God's presence, and indeed it felt like He was with me. I am filled with joy. I am still learning and making mistakes every single day, but I trust God. He called me here because He knew I could succeed in the work He has for me to do. I just have to keep doing my best and relying on His power to overcome my weaknesses! I really really love it here.
My companion and I are becoming better and better friends each day. She is an amazing missionary. She is diligent and obedient and really gives everything to this work. She is full of love for the people we teach. I am so grateful to have her as my trainer. I learn from her every day.
Aside from my attitude shift this week, I have seen so many other miracles! I hardly know where to begin! Ok I'll just start with Wednesday. We had 3 investigators come to our free English class, though none of them were in the class I was teaching. After class was over, I was very surprised when my companion came up to me and said I needed to go teach 2 of our investigators while she went to teach the other one in a different room. WHAT! I wasn't really panicking because it was just going to be a quick little lesson, but still I've never done this before. One investigator is a woman I contacted on the road this week, the other is a woman my companion contacted early Wednesday afternoon. We wanted to keep the lessons short because they had already been at the church for an hour and a half for English. I got to know them a little bit, then we said a prayer and I started explaining the Book of Mormon. I read parts of the introduction with them and then invited them to start reading it. At the end of the lesson, I asked one of the women if, as she felt our message was true, she would be willing to be baptized . . . . she said YES and we set a date for September 15th. I was so shocked. I don't think I've ever extended the baptismal invite in a first lesson before . . . not even in practicing. I think what was even more amazing to me was to see that even though I can hardly express myself in Chinese, if I do my part in following the Spirit and saying simple truths, the Spirit testifies and builds on what I say to help others feel it is true! I can't even hardly express it well in English, but it's just so cool to me how teaching people the gospel works....it's not us, we are not the teachers, it's the Holy Ghost. And thank GOODNESS for that, because if it was all up to me, then no one I meet would come to Christ cause they would not understand a word I said.
We have continued to meet with this sister. I can tell she is so prepared to hear this gospel. We taught her the first lesson last night, all about the restoration of the gospel and Joseph Smith. My companion recited the first vision to her, and the Spirit was so strong. We asked if she thought it was true and she said she believed it. She kept getting so excited about the things that we were teaching her that she would put both her hands over her heart and sigh like she was trying to keep it from bursting out of her, she was SO HAPPY. I love getting to know her and helping her understand the teachings of Christ. Seeing that the gospel makes sense in her mind is so powerful.
Another miracle: last week we had a lady show up to Church whom my trainer and her last companion contacted on the street. We never called her or anything. She came to church all by herself on her own accord! I think that is such a courageous thing to do. I know Heavenly Father guided her there. As we have continued to meet with her, it's been clear to me that she too has been prepared by the Lord. She is just looking for light. I'm grateful Heavenly Father has helped me this week to see all the miracles in missionary work and to appreciate them. Sometimes they might not seem that grand, but it really is astonishing to me. I think it is a miracle that an investigator would ride her little bike 30 minutes in the rain to meet us at the church and hear us explain the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think it is a miracle that through imperfect teachers, she could still feel the light and truth of this gospel because it is being confirmed to her by the Holy Ghost. She's totally amazing, and I'm so excited to be on this journey with her!! Yesterday my companion taught her after Church while I was teaching another investigator (we both had members accompany us to the lessons), and my companion told her about Joseph Smith and invited her to pray about it. This woman started praying immediately! She said she felt something great...it was something she had never felt before but it was so strong. She felt the Spirit! I love being able to see this work come alive!!!
Our ward here is completely amazing. People are so willing to accompany us to lessons and to help us make our investigators feel welcome and comfortable at church. I also love meeting with recent converts and less active members. Taiwanese people are very giving. Everyone always gives us food when we go see them. We went to visit 2 recent converts this week, a father and his daughter, and we left with a bag of instant noodles. These people are so so generous. I know it's only been 1 week, but that is crazy to me. As I've started loving each moment of each day, everything is different. I know God is helping me to have a good attitude. The only negative thing is that the days, though incredibly busy and full, go by really fast.
I feel like I'm not very good at explaining my experiences. I just want to share something I studied in personal study this morning, then give you my Top Ten for Taiwan before I sign out for this week. This morning I read Elder S. Baxter's talk from April 2012 General Conference entitled: "Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents." I know I'm not a single parent, but there are some fantastic gems in there for anyone who needs strengthening. One thing he said was that "it is through the hardships of life that we grow toward godhood as our character is shaped in the crucible of affliction, as the events of life take place while God respects the agency of man." It tied in perfectly to my reading in the Book of Mormon. In chapter 4 Alma talks about how the church kind of hit a stumbling block because so many followers were being lifted up in their pride. But there were still people striving to be faithful. These problems were "a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions for Christ's sake [...]." These people, though suffering great trials, used their God-given agency to choose faith and, in their afflictions, grow toward godhood.
Something else from Elder Baxter's talk: "While you cannot change the past, you can shape the future. [...] With God's help, you need not fear for the future." In Alma 4:14 it says that the people were "looking forward to that day [when Christ should come], thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead." I love the example of these faithful saints persevering and looking forward in faith and hope. Their attitude, faith, and diligence in obedience is truly shaping their futures. I want the same to be said of me. Looking forward in faith is something I've really been trying to work on this week. I have seen and felt a tremendous difference in my life as a missionary as I've strived to do so. I am truly "singing as the days go by" as I keep smiling, trusting God, and find joy in this work. I have so many blessings.
My Taiwan Top Ten (favorite things about this place I call home)
1. At night the garbage truck comes around and plays music...like ice cream truck kind of music...and people come and throw their trash bags in.
2. People weaving around on scooters and in cars both with and against traffic on both sides of the road. It's basically a free-for-all.
3. "In the year 55-35" is playing right now at the internet cafe I'm sitting at...that song from "Gentleman Broncos"
4. taro buns!!!!!
5. contacting people on their scooters and trying to get them to go to the side of the road before the light changes at the intersection (this is how we do the majority of our contacting)
6. The light that shines from the people I teach...they are so fantastic and I wish all of you could meet them.
7. did i already mention the taro buns?
8. The clouds here are magnificent. They fill me with joy.
9. Rain rain rain.
10. Food glorious food! Don't care what it looks like! Seriously. I've eaten something called "Hairy Meat"
I am so happy and I am excited to keep getting better at seeing other people the way Christ would see them, and then using that vision to help them come to know Him better. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ will change and bless their lives in ways none of us could ever dream.
I love you all so dearly. I feel your prayers and want you to know that I pray mightily for you, too.
Carry on carry on carry on!
Love love love
Sister Coco Mack :)