Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday December 9, 2013

Monday December 9, 2013

Dear Friends and family,

This week we met with a new investigator who we first talked to last week. She brought a friend with her and our lesson went well! So that was cool. We saw an investigator of the Elders’. We had given his name to the Elders a while ago. He came and watched the choir performance this week. Sister George and I really felt like running into this guy was a miracle, and then to see him in church was super cool.  We had met him at a restaurant and he helped us read the menu.  We talked to him in English which is so hard to do when trying to teach the gospel.

One of our investigators, Amy, is progressing well. It's exciting to see her accept our invites. She's been to church, has started reading the Book of Mormon, and came to the choir performance!  

Speaking of which, that choir performance was enjoyed here in Danshui. The Relief Society teacher brought it up yesterday. She described how much it touched her, and the relief society spent several minutes talking about how wonderful the spirit had been.  This teacher also explained that her YW-aged daughter was in tears during the violin-viola-cello piece--and that was the first time she had ever seen her daughter touched by music. Several other members shared how they were touched.  While closing the performance with his testimony of the Savior our bishop had to pause several times because he felt the spirit so strongly. Perhaps it wasn't the most polished performance, but it was still good for those who came. We had several investigators there between the Elders and us.  The ward warmly welcomed each one  and talked to them after. That choir performance was a great success.
Here we are with the Young Women making cookies for our choir performance.  We helped a little :), actually mostly just ate cookie dough.
A cool miracle was running into a member this week. We were outside her house writing cards to give her and her sisters! We'd planned on giving them notes that night before visiting a member that also lived in Bali, thinking that they lived close by. It turned out that they didn't live near each other at all. So when we finally arrived at their house we were not feeling good about spending so much time on the road just to drop off some notes. As we stood there Chu JM herself walked up and asked what we were doing! We talked to her for quite some time, and I felt like it was REALLY good that we got to spend that time with her. Things like that make me wonder just how much the Lord is guiding us without us even realizing it.

One thing I'm learning on my mission is to be happy. That has been a big issue for me. If I can't be happy now, I'm never going to be happy! Happiness, in most cases, is a choice. And it's one that I want to make now for the rest of my life. And I think making that choice makes us much more capable tools in the hands of the Lord. Our potential is so much greater. And I think I've done alright! Not that I've always done it perfectly, but I think that my capacity to choose happiness has grown on my mission."

Angel has been progressing, indicator wise, very nicely!  We are still waiting for spiritual experiences, the most important part.  She has been coming to all sorts of activities, is obeying all the commandments, including praying and reading every day, and keeping the Word of Wisdom, and has almost finished all the missionary lessons. Last week, for the first time, we ask a Brother in the ward to help us peike. Usually we ask sisters, because those are the people whom these someday members will most likely need as friends. As we sat down to start, I realized that our lesson that day was on the Law of Chastity. The one time we ask a Brother to peike . . . it's the Law of Chastity. I just laughed inside and we proceeded forward :) Angel JM had no problems with the commandment, so it was fine and really not awkward at all. 

We also taught Angel JM tithing. She was so cute! We brought these little stars to do an object lesson. I gave her ten stars, and asked her to give me one back. She did, and then took another one and gave it to Sister George, "Here, you can have one too." Our object lesson thwarted by her generosity, we just started laughing. You can guess from her giving nature, tithing wasn't a problem.

This week I finally took Sister George to eat stinky tofu! The stuff is growing on me. There are two kinds, one deep fried, and one boiled. We ate the boiled kind this time :) Our stinky tofu also had duck blood in it. Not runny, thank heavens, but an almost jello like consistency thing. It wasn't bad!  The dark thing I'm holding up is duck's blood.

We have a young investigator- Ivy. As we were waiting for her this week, she called and said she just had to go to the bathroom and then she would meet up with us. After waiting a while and she still hadn't come, we called her, and she informed us that it was taking longer because she was going "poo poo." (literally, she used the words poo poo). We laughed so hard! We were pretty late, but it was worth it for the laugh.

This past week I also had a particularly disgusting experience. In Taiwan, a lot of men chew Betel nut.  It's this nasty stuff that, when chewed, turns their saliva orangey reddish, and over time their teeth as well. It is absolutely disgusting. As I was riding my bike down the road something wet hit my face. I wipe it off, looked down at my hand, and saw the unmistakable red of binlang saliva smeared on the back of my hand. UGH! Thinking about it makes me wrinkle my nose. I spent several minutes on the side of the road getting that stuff off. I'm so grateful America doesn't have that nasty stuff!

Everyone loves Barbie. Taiwanese clothes with English on them are the best.  Especially after being accused of looking like a Barbie because I'm one of the 5 people in Taiwan with blond hair.

Yes!!!One of my biggest dreams is to get a picture of me riding my bike between two buses.  This might not be the best one ever taken, but now I have it!

It's Christmas with decorations and rejoicing!!!

These random chairs were out at a park that we went to this week-so funny!

I love being in Taiwan and I love this work. There is nothing better. With the Christmas season we have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I hope that everyone is taking every opportunity they have to sing praises to His name. I love you!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday December 2, 2013

Monday December 2, 2013

Dear loved ones,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We were invited over to the home of an American member who lives close by. Originally she told us we would be having chicken . . . but we showed up to a delicious turkey!  Her feast was delicious and impressive. She also invited some American friends from her classes, and it was fun to celebrate all together.  Although I decided, for probably the 100th time, that it's a good thing I'm not serving in the states . . . and I give props to every missionary who is!! It's so much harder with Americans and with English speakers to talk about the gospel! Heavenly Father knew I wouldn't be able to, so he sent me to Taiwan to talk with my sisters here. I seriously love Taiwan so much. And I love Taiwanese people!! I was meant to come here. I hope all of your Thanksgivings were as good as mine.

Yesterday was our first preliminary choir performance, but starting this week our real performances will start. We’ll be traveling around the mission. I'm really excited! I love Christmas and I'm glad I have this chance to participate in the Christmas season in Taiwan. 

Since Christmas is the topic why not a Christmas Tree?
Yesterday we got Christmas cards from our investigator Wu JM. They were so cute! Written in her best English. The card also included little wooden mirrors and combs that had our names engraved on them. It was neat!  She is so cute!

We also had a big dinner with some of the ward members on Saturday night that was fun. It was originally supposed to be a visiting teaching thing, but I don't think it went according to the original plan. It sure was fun and delicious! Our ward is amazing and I love the members.  

Members that were at the  Saturday dinner 

We also have a ward member who is going to feed us lunch on Christmas Eve. That will be great.

Last Monday was productive and fun. We had a member take us out for lunch on P-day. She ended up contacting both the lady working at the front desk of the restaurant, and the store she took us to for some Christmas shopping. We ended up with their phone numbers! Talk about member missionary work!

Perhaps my favorite part of the week was our miracle with Li JM.  Last time we met with her she told us that she believes the Book of Mormon is true. Then she disappeared!  We hadn't been able to get hold of her for weeks! We were about to drop her. We couldn't do this because we couldn't let go of someone who said they knew the Book of Mormon was true. As a last resort, under the suggestion of our bishop, we called a member she had had lessons with, and gave her Li JM's number. The next day WE get a call from Li JM! Turns out she hasn't been answering our calls because she's at work and then gets off too late to call us back. I image forgetting we had called her has a part in that too.  We met with her last week, and she is still interested!  We had to adjust her baptismal date to Christmas, but her desires are all in the right places for the right reasons. It was cool to hear the reasons Li JM had for wanting to get baptized. She wants to make that commitment, to really commit to this gospel. And to think we just about dropped her!! Members are so important!!!!! They have a lot more power than we do in some ways. 

Julia was somebody we contacted on the street last week, and this week we met with her for the first time. I was so unprepared to hear such honest and straightforward questions that it kind of took me by surprise. She was willing to make the experiment, and then to take action, be baptized, if she got her answer.

We met Amy for the first time after contacting her on the street. She came to church, all three hours and met with us after! She was super good and seems to have-real-intent. I'm so glad we had a good peike for that lesson! It made a big difference. Huang JM made sure Amy knew what baptism meant before agreeing to it. Amy did set a goal to be baptized if she knew what we taught was true. I really believe in inviting people to be baptized quickly. It makes such a big difference! When people really understand what you’re asking, they almost always agree, because they understand that this is an action taken only AFTER they have received their answer. It helps them to understand our purpose too. The people who don't hear a baptismal invitation soon have a lot harder time.

Another highlight is our never-ending miracle of Wu JM (Angel). She has been to church every week, all three hours, for the past four weeks

She also went to the new member/investigator hike Saturday morning in Neihu, and a fireside Sunday night.

These three pictures are taken from the hike.

She is keeping all the commandments we have taught her, which is almost all of them. The only worry with her is differentiating between interest in the missionaries and interest in the gospel. She still has never felt the spirit in a way that she recognizes. But she is reading the Book of Mormon and is in
II Nephi.  If she starts sincerely asking and seeking, she'll find her answer. She is doing everything she needs to do, but I'm not sure if she really has a desire to find an answer or just a desire to hang out with us. But she is still amazing!

After going to the trainer/trainee meeting I feel even luckier than ever to be with Sister George. I have such an awesome companion who helps me so much. The meeting made me really grateful for the open relationship we have. We really communicate, and that makes a big difference. Also we have the same basic outlook. Most of the time we see things from the same perspective and that makes missionary work easy. And she works hard and is happy--such blessings!

One morning this week I was feeling doubtful and miserable. I decided to just start from the basics of my testimony. I began telling my companion all the things I KNOW. I had barely started bearing my testimony, when I was overcome with the Spirit telling me the truth of what I was saying. I know God lives. I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Book of Mormon is the truth, and the way of greatest happiness on earth and in the eternities. Simple truths, but I suddenly KNEW them SO clearly. It was an experience I never want to forget.

Sister Edwards/Du Jiemei"
I love you!!!
Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday November 25, 2013

Hi everyone,

As I sat reviewing the week last night, I realized just how blessed we've been. One thing is XXJM. She is doing so well!! She has now been to all three sessions of church three weeks in a row. She is reading the Book of Mormon and is in 2 Nephi. So cool! Actually the coolest part for me was our lesson Tuesday night. She opened up her scriptures and showed us a part she had marked and her interpretation of it. At that moment  I knew she is going to be converted. Since she is sincerely reading the Book of Mormon, I know she'll make it. It was so cool.

Wednesday we talked to a girl on the street named Ella, and ended up teaching the first lesson right there. She has been Christian since middle school, and seemed to be an honest seeker of truth. She accepted our invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and made an appointment to meet with us!

I've wanted to eat at this one restaurant for a few days. Thursday we decided that was the day to do it. As we were struggling to order,  neither of us can read many Chinese characters, a Haitian kid asked us if we needed any help. We ended up eating and talking with him. The biggest miracle was talking in English and naturally bringing up the gospel.  We found out that he already had a Book of Mormon and has read it more than once. What??? We asked if he'd prayed about it, he hadn't.  We invited him to do so, as well as meet with the Elders. He agreed to both. Whoa!!! So cool!! My trainer told me how following her stomach always led to miracles . . . it’s true! I've never exactly thought about the Spirit working through my stomach before . . . but it works!

Saturday was temple tours. Going in to it I was really nervous, because we had NO ONE coming for a tour, and we started at 10 in the morning. It sounded like we were going to have a very long day, but my fears were for naught! Before we had even set up a bishop approached us and wondered if we could give a tour to their ward's investigator while the members were in the temple. We had to ask the investigator to wait a few minutes while we finished setting up! His lesson was so cool.  He is from China and staying in Taiwan for the semester. Three weeks ago he and some friends found and went to church all on their own. Since then he's met with the missionaries several times. Somehow they had not gotten to the first lesson yet, so we taught him the first lesson! He understood so well, it amazed me. After teaching that lesson I am so excited for his future. But I do have to say that juan3she2 is killer!!! I could barely understand him! And even when I could understand him, Daluren (Chinese people) don't use the same words for the same things that Taiwanese people do! Good thing he was really patient.

We have an investigator that's been really busy (partially with midterms), so we haven't met with her in a long time. As we were rescheduling yesterday, yet again, I asked about her Book of Mormon reading. She told us that she is reading in 2 Nephi!! I was so excited. I really believe in the power of the Book of Mormon. Despite not meeting with us in forever, she has still been reading! The Lord is working with everyone whether or not He wants us to be a part of the process.

I love studies,except for language study. Despite our district meetings focusing on language studies, I've loss motivation lately. I think it's because every time I DO use a new word or phrase that I've learned from phase 2, the Taiwanese person looks at me funny, or laughs, and then tells me I used it wrong or people don't really use that phrase anymore. Ah! I don’t want to put so much effort into memorizing, because the word has no use or is good, but only for specific circumstances, and I rarely have someone to ask. I'm working on it though :)

This really was one of the best weeks on my mission.  I have SO much to be thankful for. It is such a good way to go into Thanksgiving.

This picture is at the university right by the church (Zhen1li3 Da4xue2)-- some dog was lying down right in the middle of campus . . . and it just struck me as so funny--he looked dead! So I tried to capture it in picture form

These are our thankful turkeys! Last week making thankful turkeys was our English class activity. It was really fun.  Everything in this email was included on my thankful turkey's feathers.

We pull up to the church one day and something smells BAD . . . so I start checking the bottom of my shoes. Sister George, "looking for the bad smell?" Yeah! She points across the parking lot to a truck full of pigs! They smelled bad, but they were still pretty cute! Well, sort of :) 

Nothing is going to turn out well for those pigs. No wonder they look so worried.

There was this cool float thing that was on the road one day, proceeded by a few trucks full of people with instruments making a lot of noise. I worry a little bit that it was some sacred ceremony I photographed . . . but I couldn't pass up the chance. 

Can you believe this view I have waiting for the MRT (subway) in Danshui? It was particularly gorgeous the other day, although the picture doesn't quite capture it.

One really cool thing from this week: it was transfers, but my entire district stayed!!  I love my district, so it's great. I am so lucky! I am always put with the best missionaries-- I don't know why I am so blessed, but it keeps happening. Here we all are celebrating.

Perhaps this is the view from Rachel's apartment window.  Most important of all it has air conditioning.  

Last, but not least, is the glory of the fanguangdai (reflective belt? I forgot) displayed while wearing rain gear. Did I actually go outside looking like this? Yes. Yes I did. Best day ever :) This is what it means to be a missionary in Taiwan! The fanguangdai is a new rule from a week or two ago--we have to wear it at night now. So any chance of looking semi-normal . . . is pretty much shot :)

I am so grateful for my family and friends. I love you so much. I know I don't always get emails off very quickly to answer yours, but I am  grateful for you.This gospel and my family are the most precious things in my life. I pray for each of you by name every night. I miss you. I love you. You are what I am most grateful for in the world. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (And eat some turkey for me, because we're eating chicken!)

Du Jiemei, Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monday November 18, 2013

Monday November 18, 2013

This week was interesting!   First I had a random Taiwanese kid, whom I'd just met, tell me that he would wait for me for a year. That was pretty fun! He wouldn't give me his number so I could give it to the Elders.  He wasn't quite as interested in them as he was in us, but we did give him a Book of Mormon. 

XXX JM also came to church again this week, and she is doing so well! She is reading, praying, coming to church, and obeying the commandments. She will definitely get her answers!  She's begun to make it a habit of baking us cookies!!  Last Sunday we were talking about cookies after church.  When she showed up for our lesson that week, she plopped down two giant bags of cookies on the table. It must have been obvious how much we liked them, because she brought us more the next time we met.  I won't say how fast we ate them up :)

We also had a visit from Sister George's dad's friend, who is Taiwanese. When Sister George's dad worked in China they worked together and were pretty good friends. They were SO fun and funny too! We had a great time with them, and even got to answer some of their questions; for example, Word of Wisdom.  

Later we got this letter and pictures that he sent:

Dear two young & pretty ladies,
       It is so happy to see you happily staying at Taiwan, we had a such pleasant evening, didn't we?
       The Tibet restaurant we had that 40 cm bowl of chicken noodle is my favorite, definitely we will come back again.

       It is a very good chance for us to understand more about The Lord, and you knew that we are on the way in our believe in god.
  My wife, Meili she is so please to have you in Taiwan, expecting to see you again soon.

         Keep in touch and god bless you
         Meili & FC
        P.S. I attached 2 paintings that I drew. I hope that you like

And just so you know  those painting are real! He zoomed in so I could see it! It took me several times of asking him to really believe that he did paint them. He actually painted the pictures on his IPad; so he would zoom really far in, and do a square at a time. He took 8 months to paint  the river one.

One definite highlight from the week was finally going to the bike shop. I feel like I have a new bike! A month or two ago I left my bike out in the rain for a few days . . . and the rusty chain has been a little rough since then. But now .it rides like a charm! Oiled up, new lights for front and back (both were out), a new reflector, brakes tightened, AND (drum roll) . . . a basket!! That basket may not sound like THAT big of a deal, but it is! Not only will it help with carrying groceries home, but it also will make a big difference with being able to talk to people while riding (for example, at stoplights), because it's so easy to grab something to give them. Elders don't know how convenient their front pockets really are.

One thing that was really cool, was talking with the bishop yesterday. I know I say this pretty much every week, but his support has been a HUGE blessing in my life. His love for and faith in us is so apparent, and that makes such a big difference! He talked to us about our investigators and he told us we needed more faith. Not in a mean way at all, but I was motivated by his own faith in us. It was really needed, and I hope to focus on faith more.  I need more faith. I believe that the Lord CAN produce miracles . . . but I don't really believe He WILL. So that is something I'm trying to figure out how to develop a powerful faith. I'm not really sure what I mean. Hopefully by next week I'll have more to report.

I love you!!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards