Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday June 24, 2013

Monday June 24, 2013
Dear Family and Friends
This week has been so good! I've loved it! I really love Taiwan! The language is still a struggle, but I'm working on it and trusting the Lord will help me. And help me be brave! I'm trying to be fearless, but it is really scary!  Sometimes I think its better I can't speak Chinese. I know I'm going to look like an idiot anyway, but since I don’t know the language they don’t expect anything better and so there's not so much fear about saying the wrong thing. I think I understand a bit more. Thank you, all your support really helps me so much.
So we usually wake up at 5:30 to email because p days are busy with lots of things to do. Last week I begged and got my wish-- more time at the computer (I ended up using 1:40), but usually we just pay for an hour, which includes reading emails, responding, and writing the required letter to the president, and I am a slow writer. So far my letters to the president have only been a few sentences-- I figure he probably is grateful since he reads all of the missionary letters.  It stresses me out-- I want to stay in contact with everyone and tell them I love them, but there just isn't time.

So this past Saturday, June 22, one of the investigators we picked up from the Elders, when we took over part of their area, had her baptism interview, and will be baptized next week! It's exciting!!  She is so strong. She is more involved and active in the church then a lot of members. She has two kids, and one is nine. Her husband doesn't want them getting baptized. He doesn't have a problem with her getting baptized, but I think he wants the kids to be old enough to make the decision on their own. This woman is so good to us! When we met with her earlier in the week, she gave us some bao2zi (this is like a white fluffy steamed bread with meat or red beans in the middle--really yummy), then she fed us and the elders dinner on Friday night, then on Sunday when she came to church, she brought us these little custard desserts (I'm pretty sure it was a form of crème Brule; it was all so delicious)
The ward members are SO good to us here. On Monday a ward member brought us over a big brownie, still steaming hot. During the week a young woman dropped off custard and winter melon tea (no tea leaf) while we were exercising. Another member poked her head in the door a couple nights ago and gave us croissants and drinks. These drinks look EXACTLY like beer . . . we laughed for a long time. Especially when we met the elders on the way home that night and were splitting the goods with them on the side of the street . . . it definitely looked like the missionaries were exchanging bottles of beer. We had three different people ask us for dinner this Sunday, June 23, and they fought over us in Relief Society! We ended up going to a different member's house last night for dinner than was originally planned.  We have been fed once a day since Wednesday June 19, to today, and we have a dinner appointment tonight too! Needless to say, I'm already gaining the weight the missionaries say is impossible not to here. The food is delicious, but very very very greasy.  Everything is soaked in oil, even the veggies.

This week we've laughed a lot--especially over the bugs. A couple of days ago we returned to our our bikes. A spider had been busy, and made a MASSIVE web very close to my companion’s bike. In fact part of the web was connected to her bike. It was actually kind of cool, but the spider was on it and freaking us out. We laughed a lot.
A cool story: a couple of days ago we were contacting and met these two girls who were interested--especially one of them. We met with them the next day (Sat) and taught the first lesson, and although I don't think they really understood everything, they were still interested to meet again. I really like them!! The interested girl, who's English name is Anna, is already Christian and is obviously very interested in God and religion. The other girl is her friend, and I think is still just kind of along for the ride, to be with her friend, but I have high hopes for them. Although I really just hope they can feel the spirit, because this week I've realized yet again how hard teaching is and just how REALLY bad I am at it!  It’s so hard even when I understand the Chinese! Which I think might be getting a little better . . . it's hard to tell.
You know something about miracles? I think there are probably more than we realize every day. If there is one thing I know, it is that God loves all his children (and that the Book of Mormon is true :)), and I think he is looking out for all of them all the time. I think that implies having a hand in everyone's life, whether or not we realize it.
Another little miracle before I have to go-- We were teaching a lesson, and I actually understood more than usual. Not a ton, but some, and then I remembered a scripture that I really felt like would help our investigator. After I shared I kind of lost track of the subject of what we were teaching, but it made it more obvious to me the gift of tongues the Lord had given me. He allowed me to understand enough to share the testimony I needed to. It was cool.
Oh if you can send printed pictures mom I would love that!!
Sister Edwards
Rachel with President and Sister Day-top
Rachel and her training companion

Rachel with all the incoming missionaries in June in front of the Taiwan temple 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday June 17, 2013

Dear family,
I think you must have been praying for me extra hard this week because I've had a wonderful week! The jet lag wore off a little and I think that helped a lot :)
First of all, happy Father's day dad!!! If I got it right, it should still be Father's Day in Utah. I wish I could send you another card, but I still haven't even gotten stamps. You are the best Dad in the world and I love you! I hope it has been a wonderful day and that you eat a piece of cake for me.
Also Happy Father's day to TWO of my brothers! Happy first for you Jeff!! I love to show people my picture of Emma. Every time we have a lesson with someone for the first time (which has been a lot in the past week since we're new) we share family pictures, and I love it because I love to show off my family :)
Before I forget, with the iPod situation, any music whose purpose is to invite the spirit and not to entertain is ok, so I believe all the music I put on before I left is ok.

Ok mom, here are my best efforts at your questions!

Rachel, I’m just curious how your day goes.  How were you met at the airport?  Mission president and his wife (and his mom who is visiting right now) and the AP's met us How long were you at the mission home? I was at the mission home from late Wednesday night until Friday afternoon.  What did you do while you were there?  Um . . . I don't even know! Called you, just other orientation sort of stuff. We also did go to the site of the dedication of Taiwan at the . . . Grand [American?] Hotel. How are you doing in the weather?  I love it!! I love the heat and humidity!! I think part of it is that it hasn't gotten too hot yet, but I just like the sticky feeling.  I know most people hate it and I'm not sure why I like it, but I do! Are you dying or is the heat and humidity ok?  How does it compare to Jerusalem? It's still cooler. I think.    Did you get a bike? Yep! I still need to spray paint it nasty looking, so it doesn't get stolen, but I love it! Except . . . a lot of my skirts have a really hard time with it! They either fly up while I ride, or, (more common) they ride up while I ride! Aarrrggghh! But it's really fun riding around.  I had a moment riding home last week where it was raining, it was late, I mean for a missionary. . . and I wanted to laugh out loud, because I realized I am living my dream! I am a missionary, in TAIWAN, learning Chinese (or at least trying), riding my bike home in the rain! It was wonderful.  We do personal study from 8 to 9, companion study from 9 to 11 (it's longer during training, after training it will just be til 10), and language from 11 till 12, and then we often continue to study through the lunch hour until 1, so we're usually at our apartment all morning.   We have one cell phone for the companionship, but Sister Sutton handles that because the only time I can use the phone is talking to other missionaries who also speak English, which not all missionaries do, we have native Taiwanese missionaries who don't or are learning English.  How much Chinese do you and your companion communicate in? The idea is to SYL all the time (speak your language), but since I still don't know so much we can't for everything. We do our best. You said in your last letter that you only taught in the member’s homes. We actually usually teach at the church, not at member’s homes or at investigators homes. But when we first got here a lot of members were inviting us over for dinner. Also we do teach in "members" homes when we visit less actives. But our members are AWESOME!! We have yet to have a lesson with an investigator without a pei2ke4, which is a member who comes and teaches with us. Also we have members (especially one) taking us to less active's houses to teach. 
 Wow, that was so much easier to answer your questions that way!! Ok. Some miracles from this week! A little background first. So we went to Costco with some members last week, and we bought some bread, cheese, and deli meat to make sandwiches (which, by the way, I got Havarti cheese). Then we were making sandwiches later in the week for the first time, and I remembered I forgot to buy mustard!! Ah . . . worst day ever, right? I went to the fridge, opened it up, and there was a bottle of mustard!!! What??? How?? Chinese people don't even use mustard, especially because they don't even eat cold cut sandwiches at all. It was definitely a miracle.
Another happened yesterday. We'd . . .had a bit of a discouraging lesson with the elders and a member at a less-actives house (where they actually asked, "Why can't the elders just teach?") and I was wondering what in the world I was doing- this place would be better off if I weren't here. But as I talked with my companion, I started to feel better and remember that discouragement never comes from God, it is always a tool of Satan. Our spirits lifted, and we said a prayer over our goals for contacting . . . and then I think it was the first person we talked to, a mom with two little kids, was interested and set up to meet with us. And then we met several people who were at least somewhat interested. This might not seem like a miracle to some of you, but to me it seemed like HF was like, “Thank you for trusting me,” and then blessed us.
I've been thinking about hope a lot lately. The definition in PMG describes it as having an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises to you. I think this is really interesting. I've been trying to figure out how it is different from faith and what having hope means, and I've been trying to have more hope. As a missionary the Lord has made a lot of cool and unique promises. Especially enlightening are the results of having hope that PMG lists: confidence, enthusiasm, optimism, and patient perseverance. Wow!!  What wonderful wonderful things to have, what important things! I've been really trying to trust the Lord and his promise, and the inspiration of my call. I'm not always successful, but I have definitely seen the blessing of the hope. I'm usually pretty happy! And I personally believe, especially right now, my smile is one of the very best things I can share. So that's what I've tried to share the most in Taiwan--my smile, excitement, and sincerity.
A couple of days ago I had the very exciting privilege to try . . . a thousand year old egg!!  This is a Chinese treat.  A rotten egg :) It wasn't bad! The flavor was so different from anything I've ever eaten in my whole life that I almost wasn't sure what to think, but I liked it! I also tried Mango bing which I'd hear so much about , similar to a mango snow cone, and it was also delicious!

Thank you so much for your letters! I know I don't respond to individual things very well, but I do love to hear everything you are all telling me! I love you!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monday June 10, 2013

Dear Family,
Let's see. My companion is Sister Sutton and she is awesome! She's been sick, so that's a bit rough, but even sick she is still up and going, for which I am grateful. She is from Idaho and has been on the island for almost a year. I really like my mission president and wife, for which I am really grateful. They are from Tennessee and are just wonderful.
So we actually still don't have bikes, but hopefully this week we'll get them. Which has meant more walking than normal perhaps, but that's OK!

I have 8 minutes until the computer shuts down. Ah! Let's see . . . this has been an adventure!  Taiwanese people are SO NICE. Much much more patient and kind than Americans, especially the ward members are. For which I am  grateful. There was a baptism on Saturday, and that was neat to go to. Although Jet lag is still hitting me and I was having a really hard time staying awake.
We have a general authority of some sort coming on Sunday and we all have to prepare a 3 minute talk on a particular subject with one memorized scripture. So hopefully that will be fun! I don't know how we're getting there actually . . . we're in Zhudong and it took about 2 solid hours of travel time to get here from the mission home, not counting the time getting to and from trains and buses.

I'm afraid the computer will shut off on me. Thank you for your prayers! This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, and I really appreciate your letters. I'm still on island so I haven't given up yet!!!! I love this place!

Wow. You do not know how much I needed that email from you right now. Thank you!!! Taiwan is . . . beautiful! It's hot but I love the heat and humidity (probably because I don't think it's been too bad so far :)). You think you like watermelon? You need to come to Taiwan and then you'll see what fruit is really like! I've only had a bit and it is SO GOOD! I thought they put sugar on the pineapple . . .nope, it's just that sweet!
Wow . . . mission. This is . . . hm. Harder than I thought it would be in different ways than I was expecting I think. Looooonnngggeessstt week I have ever lived in my life I believe!!!! (And that's with losing pretty much a whole day in travel!) But I'm both here and still alive, so I'm doing alright.
Well, as I expected, I really don't know any Chinese and can't understand a word, but the people here are SO NICE. Really . . . these are the best people I have ever met in my life. Especially the members!!! Holy cow they love their missionaries (and are really patient with the fact that I can't understand anything they are saying). We will be able to have lessons with members nearly every day. I'm serving in Zhudong, and this is the first time they've had sister missionaries in 8 years, and they REALLY wanted us. When we moved into our apartment (which we were really moving in, not just taking over old missionaries' apartment), a member had given us some food and decorated with little paper hearts all over the apartment in all sorts of random places like the ceiling :) I laughed--I LOVE Chinese people!!!  I was really meant to be Chinese. It's funny how little things led to this, but I just didn't notice until now. And I think I was given more opportunities to prepare (Chinese at Hillcrest??) that I didn't take.
Thank you for your prayers!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are VERY appreciated right now.  Love Sister Edwards
Well it is all about service.
  Even though this picture was taken a long time ago, I liked it and finally got it up.  Putting in their hours of service at the MTC.  Now that is the way to shine a floor.  Just put towels on your feet, or better yet the feet of your children and let them shine the floors while dancing.  

Monday June 3, 2013

Dear family,  

I'm sorry; packing took so long, so I don't have very much time! I will try to remember everything you told me in your letters, but it's been a few days and I don't remember everything and I can only skim right now. Before I forget, mom I don't think I told you anything about priesthood last time . . . but we've been talking about it in our district and it's something that I want to study some more things about, and you talked a lot about it in your letter! You even talked specifically about priesthood power and faith . . . which was something we discussed. It was really cool! I also liked reading about your thoughts on families. It's so interesting to me how . . . central to my personal . . . everything (identity and purpose) being a mother is. I'm (obviously) not a mother yet, but I know that is my purpose, and I can feel the power of it. 

Speaking of being tired . . . this is mostly due to the fact that jihu meitian (almost every day) this week, Sister Barden and I have gone running in the morning! I have LOVED it! However it has required getting up early . . . and I am REALLY feeling the effects of it. Hopefully a plane ride of sleep will help! I think we did one day too many however, because my tendon (that has given me problems in the past) really hurt after our run this morning . . . another good reason for sitting for a long period of time! And tomorrow we WERE going to have to report to the travel office at 7:30 am . . . but there was a change of plans and we report at 6:00 am because we are riding the frontrunner up to the airport! I think taking the frontrunner will be a bit of a fun adventure, but the hour and a half earlier will mean some sleepy eyes tomorrow!

Saturday I had a wonderful surprise- Sister Barden and I were running around the field a bit at gym (yes . . . running again . . . this makes us sound WAY more active than we actually are), and I hear my name called. Guess who! Jessica Christine Blockburger!!! I was SO stoked! I felt guilty because we talked probably longer than we should have . . . but it was absolutely wonderful :)

Chloe: CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, I hope you get to visit Katie :) (Oh and Katie, thank you for your letter! It said "Part II" at the beginning . . . was Part I your last letter, or did something not get sent?)

Em: Thanks for your package! I want to send you a letter back, but this P-day I didn't have any time to write anyone and so it might be a while until my next letter, so I wanted to thank you!!!! You spoil me :) And want to make me pang!

Mom I'm planning on trying home phone first, so I hope that's the one you meant. After that I will try your cell phone.

Congratulations Spencer!!

I love you!! Talk to you tomorrow!

Sister Edwards                                                 
                                                                 MTC farewell pictures:
I believe this is Rachel's district with a teacher.

I believe this is a shot of Rachel's generation just before heading
their separate ways

Farewell shots with favorite sisters

Addresses for writing and packages:

Taiwan Taipei Mission
4F, 24, Lane 183, Chin Hua Street
Ta An District, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Thanks to everyone for their patience and keeping in contact with Rachel.  I know that means a lot to her.

Monday May 27, 2013

Monday May 27, 2013

THANK YOU for the package with needed stuff! Today the temple is closed so I only have next week to do the names. I will most likely leave them with a sister in the generation younger than us if we don't finish them. And the bread was delicious!! So I LOVE my watch, but the glow in the dark feature has failed! It's also starting to get a little worn out, so if you happen to see one that is similar and not too expensive . . . I would love it. Also please send my iPod with my earphones and the cheap little speakers I bought (just in case, although I don't think we use earphones in the field)! If you can mom, get someone to help you and connect my iPod to my laptop, take off any of the church music I put on that isn't a hymn or motab (just in case, I don't know the rules yet), and then if you can figure out how, get the conference music from the past . . . well as many conferences as you can on. Dave, Jeff, or Spence could probably help you, or honestly one of my roommates or friends probably wouldn't mind if you gave them a call either. THANK YOU!!!!!!! This will be a huge help and blessing if you can--music really helps me feel the spirit.

So Nick Emery is at the MTC right now, and is in my classroom-building, just on a different floor. Seeing as my roommate is very involved in basketball, we celebrate every time we see him and have been contemplating ways to arrange a meeting between the two. Right now the winner is asking him to marry her for eternity in Chinese. Mostly I just want to see that because it would be so funny. We also had a cool visitor this week--Elder Osguthorpe (president of the general Sunday school presidency) dropped by our classroom and talked to us for several minutes--he speaks Chinese! Who knew? Also I forgot to tell you that last week Elder Nelson came and spoke to us, which was really cool. We had two general authorities while at the MTC--Scott and Nelson. Before I forget, I had a cool experience last night with our devotional. It was Brother Steve Allen (managing director of the missionary department or something like that), who spoke to us about a month ago actually. He is a REALLY good speaker. It was cool though, because he stood up and said he had planned a funny and entertaining address, but felt prompted earlier that day, and then again when he found out we were watching Sister Monson's funeral after his address, that he should speak on something else. And so with absolutely 0 preparations he gave a very spiritual devotional through which the Lord spoke to me again some things he'd told me earlier through my branch president during our departure interview. It was really cool.

I believe that this is Rachel's new companion.  Since no
name was ever given we will just call her
Sister No Name.  Perhaps something will turn up
at a later date.  

 This is the last week! I'm actually getting a new companion tomorrow morning--a sister who already new Chinese coming in. She has been in the already-know-your-mission-language place for the past few weeks, and is now coming to our zone for her last week to prepare to go to the field. I've met her before and I really like her, so I'm excited! I'm hoping this will help my Chinese improve too. It's strange that it's the last week . . . time passes by so quickly here. Sometimes time flies ;)

 Emily: CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR CALL!!!! You are going to LOVE your mission, I promise.

Jessica: I . . . am . . . so  . . . excited . . . for  . . . you!!

Everyone: If you have sent me a letter, know that I really appreciate it, and I want to write you as soon as I can. Time is so limited, so just know that it might take me several weeks to respond to a letter, and I might not be able to respond individually in the future. Our branch president talked to us, and I may not be sending out a ton of letters. Know that I still love you all and that I really appreciate hearing about what is going on in your life and I would absolutely love to still get a letter!

Wow! Sorry I have less than five minutes left to respond to your letters! This means I will only be responding to direct questions, but know that I loved hearing about everything! I didn't have to give a talk in Chinese, and next week is fast Sunday, so I'm off the hook! Whew! I know some people who can give a talk without any preparation . . . hm hm . . . but I am not one of them :) Also mom, I forgot to get the exact dates so I'll have to check, but I was released last Sunday (so the . . . 19?) and I think I served for four weeks. Remind me in your next letter and I will double check.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!