Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday October 28, 2013

                                                                        Monday October 28, 2013

The Lord is merciful. And His love is infinite. The Love of God is one of the most basic principles of the gospel, but I think it might be one of the most important. It encompasses everything else. I love that!

The primary program was yesterday, and that was fun!! The little kids were so cute. A particularly precocious little boy's parents sat in front of us, and he was running back and forth between the front of the room and them the whole time. Taiwanese kids are so cuteJ  

Saturday night the phone rang and it was President Day! He invited us to participate in the traveling missionary Christmas Choir. Woo hoo!!! The time commitment is kind of a lot (every p day for an hour in Taipei, and it takes us over an hour to an hour and a half one way), but it will be worth it. I LOVE singing. I love it. We sang I am a Child of God this past week with our investigator XXX, and she had tears running down her face. Music is SO powerful. I believe in the power of music. I love being able to participate. And it's Christmas music! It will definitely be something to look forward too. Plus we get to check the mail when we go to Taipei, which is always fun.:)

We met with a girl a few weeks ago, but she was just 13, and seemed a bit intimidated by us, not wanting to set up any more appointments. Then Saturday night we called to  invite her to come to church, and she did! Just for the last little bit, coming to Young Women's, but it was really cool to see her show up. Also XXX came to church yesterday! She came just for Sacrament meeting. I was so happy to see her!! We were supposed to have 3 to 5 investigators at church yesterday . . . and only XXX came . . . but I am so happy for that one! I love her! And it was the Primary program, so all the doctrine was very fundamental and straightforward . . . and very cutely delivered too.  It was cool because we shared Plan of Salvation with her Saturday night, and then Sunday at church they mentioned it too. I have high hopes for her.

English class was another miracle of this week! We had two new awesome girls show up to our class . . . and then they both set up with us!! Yeah!! One was for church, and she didn't come . . . but still! It was super cool, because I always hear about success from English class, but I've never experienced much myself.

The bishop's wife told me yesterday that my Chinese had improved.  I don't know if she really meant it or was just saying it because she knows missionaries love to hear it. Either way I appreciated the compliment.

I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON!! This past week I read something that has been sticking with me. Ether 6:5-12 is a beautiful analogy for trials in life and how to face them. I've noticed the analogy many times before, but a different part stuck out to me this time. Verse 5 says "And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the Promised Land" The LORD caused the wind, and it is furious, but it is pointed toward the Promised Land. On  my mission I get the distinct feeling that the Lord is preparing me for things to come in my future, and that a furious wind is needed in order to make it to the Promised Land. Sometimes we will be buried under the water because of the fierceness of the wind, but it is in these times that we rely fully on the Lord and call on His name to be lifted back up upon the waters again. And the fierceness of the wind indicates the things the Lord has in store for us. The refiner’s fire will get very hot sometimes, but the Lord has "created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work." (3 Nephi 22:16) I want to become the Lord's tool, and I sense that he is preparing me to become the tool that He can rely on and will use to bless others.

We met with our bishop yesterday. It was a little like a training class. He started out and I was motivated and excited to do everything he was talking about, then I got overwhelmed, wanted to cry and give up. He ended expressing his support and understanding, which resolved some of the just-wanting-to-give-up feeling. He really does remember what it was like to be a missionary, and the different pressures and struggles we face, and that fact alone is SO helpful. Plus he understands his ward, and that helps a lot as well. He has a different perspective than we as missionaries do, and it's really nice.

I love you!! I am praying for you!

Sister Edwards (Du4 Jiemei)"

First time going hot-potting
A member in our ward who is a professional cook.  Her food is always SO GOOD. when we go to visit her this is what she gives us.  YUMMY

These are pig's feet, just because everyone needs to become familiar with pig feet.

MRT is Taiwan's subway system.  The brightly colored bus thing is the coolest MRT train I've ever seen!!! It was like that on the outside, but the inside was evern better!  It had only three cars, but each one was differently themed and they had TVs playing stuff about the area.  Super Cool!!!

These are views from Danshui or Sanzhi, a place in our area.

Monday October 21, 2013

                                                                                      Monday October 21, 2013

Wow! This week has been amazing!  The best part has been the focus and attitude my wonderful companion has brought to me, and that we've felt together. We definitely build each other up, and it makes us excited to go out and work. Heavenly Father has really been blessing me and helping me to love others. That is something that's been on my mind a lot--loving others--because when we really truly have charity for others, missionary work becomes more natural and enjoyable. So this is something I've tried really hard to develop and Heavenly Father's been helping me.

I think one subtle miracle was the progression of our investigator XXX. She recommitted to keep the word of wisdom, to come to church next month (no work!!!!) and set a baptismal date. Then we were able to meet with her again in a member's home on Friday. Which may not sound like a big miracle, but finding peike's is really hard, especially in Zhuwei, where XXX lives.  We had set up to visit a member who lives in Zhuwei the same day we wanted to meet with XXX. Woohoo!  All those little things make a difference.

Yesterday everything miraculously worked out. Our member visit cancelled. It was our only member visit of the week. At stake conference another member invited us to their home, as well as a bunch of other members. It was perfect because the last two Sundays we haven't been able to talk with many members, nor have we had any dinners with members.  Yesterday we were able to talk to a bunch of different members and share a message with them about sharing the gospel. There was one particular member whom we got to know a lot better. Then she was able to help us peike for our lesson last night. It wasn't big, but everything worked out right.

Studies have been good! We've been doing a lot of role plays, and I really like it. Well role play actually isn't my favorite thing to do . . . but I think it helps a ton. Personal study is just hard because there is so much I want to study, and only so much time. Especially when I take the time to really ponder, as Sister Day taught us, as well as record what I ponder, which I think is important.

I love Sister George. She is absolutely wonderful, and I want to thank you for putting us together. I think I am becoming a much better missionary with her and a much more pro-active missionary as well. She is doing really awesome. Her Chinese was already good, so that helps a ton. Plus she is always willing to go out and work. She teaches well and is improving quickly too. When it comes to food, we have a lot of fun :) 

I have to tell you last p day, Wednesday, we walked around with the Jilong and Neihu sisters for probably an hour or two . . . searching for Cold Stone. I have to confess . . . we didn't find it. No! Next time we're getting directions from President Day. We had to settle for frozen yogurt.

 I've taken a step toward being pro-active and trying to make things happen. Just setting up with members for next week ourselves, calling up the relief society president ourselves, etc. I've realized that I feel stress very strangely--I'm either in the green section, feeling awesome, or in the orange/red section, feeling like I want to give up. There never seems to be an in-between. But this week I really only felt stressed like that once or twice, and the rest of the time I've felt good! I think Heavenly Father is helping me to focus on others a little bit more and it has been helping a ton. It's a slow process, but I'm trying to be like Jesus!

I think missionary work, like life, has its ups and downs, I'm hoping this up will continue. Heavenly Father is real. He hears our prayers. He loves His children. Jesus Christ lives. He can overcome, and has overcome, every pain. I believe these things. They are the most basic truths of the gospel, and they are usually the answers to most things in one form or another. At least in my experience :)                                                                                  

We went to the mission office a lot last transfer. We go once or twice every transfer to do temple tours. During one of these we went to say hi to Sister Day and ended up having dinner with them.  At this dinner I did probably the best I ever have with my spiritual share . . . which I regretted when training calls came :)  The morning of the day we were going to Taipei for Trainers' training, President Day called me to reassure me that my call was from the Lord. He'd read my letter and called to tell me that this wasn't a random "Yeah I think she'll be alright," but that he knew last transfer that he'd be calling me this transfer to train, and it was inspiration from the Lord. "There are plenty of sisters who can train in this mission, but right now, the Lord wants you." Whoa. I'd already come to my own realization by that point that this was Heavenly Father's will, but President's call gave me added reassurance.

The title of my email--it's true! It has really cooled down in Taiwan! Especially Danshui . . . which, as everyone keeps telling me over and over again is bitterly cold in the winter: the coldest part of Taiwan. NOOOO!!! I didn't bring a coat! Here we go :)

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards

A super cool back pack.

Pizza making party.  We were the only ones who made a picture with our pizza....and I was proud of us:)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tuesday October 15, 2013

                                              October 15, 2013
Dear Family,

I think perhaps the first thing to report is that not only am I still alive, but happy too! Last week was crazy with Sister Taylor heading out, preparing to train, and going to Taipei almost every day. It was also a week of revelation for me. Sunday night I made a comment to Sister Barden, a roommate from Jerusalem that entered the MTC the same day that I did, about not wanting to train, and why.  She grabbed me, looked straight into my eyes and said some strong words. It really made me think, and I was grateful for the things that she said, because it made me realize what I needed to do. Because of the resulting change of attitude, I was able to feel the spirit speaking to me, and recognize the Lord's hand in this calling. The revelation began to come, and I was able to change.

I felt a lot better when Thursday came around, but I was grateful for your call that morning President. I know there will be times where I rely on the assurance that you gave me.  We haven't even had one week together yet, but I love my companion. My new companion is Sister George, from Idaho (kind of) and she is awesome! I'm excited for the time we’ll be working together. She lived in Shanghai for high school, so her Chinese is pretty good already. She went to BYU Idaho, studying English education, wants to be an English teacher in an international school, and Mandarin. She is wonderful!!

I think I will learn more than Sister George will!  She has helped me, especially in my attitude. Lately it's been hard to want to go out and work, but these past two days has been a lot better! I'm excited for these next few months! I think we are going to see a lot of success together, and I think we'll have a lot of fun while doing it!

Sunday night helped us both get pumped up and excited to go out and work. We went contacting and had four lessons on the street in about an hour and a half. One of them was with  Xie4 Jiemei. Xie JM's lesson was a miracle. She is prepared. After she closed our lesson with a prayer, I told her, “I really believed God was watching over her, and that it was arranged by God that we met her.”  She got a little teary-eyed as she explained that day she'd been a little depressed-sad sort of. Then she met us, excited missionaries. She was really touched. We met with her on Monday, and she is golden. She is wonderful. She set a baptismal date too! As long as her mom doesn't oppose. It was so cool. I could feel God's love for her. I guess this technically counts as this upcoming week, but it was too amazing not to report!

Li Lu san was also this week (yesterday), but I am so excited for her!! She recommitted to keeping the Word of Wisdom, and more diligently studying the Book of Mormon. She had already been taught all the lessons when I first got to Danshui.  We've just been reviewing different principles with her.  Last night we reviewed repentance and baptism, which was PERFECT for talking about recommitting to keep the word of wisdom and overcoming temptation.  We also set a new baptismal date.  Perhaps the best part was that she will be working afternoons next month . . . so she can come to church!!!! YAYAYAY!!!!! I'm SO excited!

I’m grateful for the experience of last transfer. I feel like it was so inspired--some things about it were hard, but many more were wonderful and I learned so much!

We had a ward activity. It was so fun! Our ward did a float for a huge parade in Danshui! The parade was supposed to be last week, but because of another Typhoon it got pushed to this past Saturday. We passed out SO MANY tracts!!! I'm wondering if (and hoping) that tonight we will have lots of new students at English class. Oh! I also was made English Class Leader, last minute because they forgot to assign that out already. I don't know when they expect us to do all the things they want us to do, but we'll see.  

Getting ready for the big parade.

The parade! I love Taiwan. And I love the members in our ward. A part of the parade is a 30 second performance, in which we had a little cheer that went like this: "YE-SU-JI-DU" (this said by one person) "YE! YE! YE!" (Response by everyone). "YE-SU [something something something--sorry I don’t remember this part]" "ZAN! ZAN! ZAN!" "YE-SU-JI-DU" "HOU QI SHENG TU JIAO HIU" "YE-SU-JI-DU" "AI NI! AI NI! AI NIIIIIIII!" We were chanting to the crowd "Jesus Christ loves you loves you loves yoooouuuuu!!!" Ha ha SO funny!!!! It was a lot of fun. Although we were pretty tired by the end of the day (my poor companion almost died).

Finding good food:

    Taiwanese sandwich thing. gua4bao1 in Taiwanese and yi4bao1 in Chinese

Lately I've been thinking that I think the biggest thing I've learned on my mission so far is just how much Heavenly Father loves His children. Sometimes He gives me a little taste of what that feels like, and I am overwhelmed. Love is very powerful. Every time I'm going through some sort of trial on my mission (which can't be too many, I know, because I haven't been out that long), my answer is ALWAYS to love. To really love others, to focus on them, and also to love the Lord and rely on the power of His Atonement. And it works. I am gaining a greater understanding of the great commandments: 1) Love the Lord thy God, 2) Love thy neighbor as thyself. This is the answer to life! But living it is a lifetime process :)

A little while ago I was thinking a lot about aligning our wills with the Father's, and how this is the process of "becoming one". It was really interesting to take a look at the prayers the Savior says in the Garden-- especially the difference between the first and the second (I think this is in Matthew)-- and how this relates to the Savior's own process of becoming one with the Father. But that's another point for another day :) The point I wanted to make today, is just the role that love plays in this. The Father and the Son ARE love. Their every action is motivated by the deep and incomprehensible love they have for every soul. When we are able to feel this love, our will becomes one with theirs. Our goals become aligned with theirs, and everything else falls into place. SO many problems or worries or questions or . . . a whole slew of different things, fall away when we are filled first with love for God and second with love for others. Charity really is the greatest of all the gifts of God. So as a missionary, I invite all of you to strive for charity for everyone around you, and use that love as a motivation to share the gospel! I will also be trying to do the same :)

I love you!!

Monday October 7, 2013

Monday October 7, 2013
Dear President Day,

This week has been both faster and slower than normal. I feel like the missionary work slowed down. We had lots of cancellations this week. Also since it is Sister Taylor's last week, it's easy to see how quickly time is passing. We also had exchanges to start the week, which were really fun!

Our best lessons this week were probably our two member lessons.  One was a new Zhao4 JM. She was a referral from Beitou, and it seems like she has a lot of potential! She doesn't really believe in God, but she also said that she was willing to do the experiment to see if he does exist. She seemed interested in hearing our personal stories of our own conversions and how we knew. She even stayed for a few minutes into the next lesson we had following hers and then came to English Class that night.  I really like her!

Our other peike was Huang JM, or Dorthy. She's doing pretty well. Our last meeting she said she really felt like God was hearing her prayers . . . but she wasn't sure which God. But I think if she continues to read the Book of Mormon, she will understand.

We also met with You Coco this week. It was a crazy process getting to meet with her. She ended up feeding us right after we'd eaten a massive meal! The food was yummy and it worked out! She talks so much that it's hard for us to say much, or understand what she's talking about.  She is really dedicated and wants to get baptized, and is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy.  She is already in Alma! I think that is the most important part in learning and gaining a testimony of the gospel.

A very bright highlight from the week was an unexpectedly dinner with our Mission President and his wife! We were in Taipei to do temple tours, and we heard Sister Day was feeling sick, so we went up to say hi before we went out to eat. President Day came in and asked us if we wanted to eat with them. Um . . . YES!! It was so fun!! And the food was great.

Also, side note, I think the best vanillas ice cream you can buy is Kirkland vanilla ice cream. President Day showed us how he eats peanut butter with ice cream too :) Our president is SO GOOD. I LOVE him. He loves his missionaries so much, and I KNOW it. Before that dinner I'd never talked to him much, but I KNEW he loved me. He's just like that! I'm so grateful for that dinner. Thank you President and Sister Day!  Thanks especially to Sister Day for getting up when she wasn't feeling good. I loved the experience so much. The food was great but being with you and your wife was even better.

On Friday we got a very surprising phone call too--Sister Taylor's dad!! Telling no one but her mom, Brother Taylor decided last minute to come to Taiwan! We were stunned, but it was fun to meet him a little. Sister Taylor did a really good job of dealing with the surprise--we just kept doing missionary work, and he came with us for what he could. It was pretty cool for him to see how much love the people in Danshui have for her.

Saturday night was trainer calls, and that was a little unpleasant. President Day, I'm trying to change my attitude and be more humble.  Perhaps there is a misunderstanding about where my abilities are. I was worried enough about Sister Taylor leaving and getting a new companion!  This call came right after a lesson in which I realized that I completely ting bu dong'd the entire thing, which highlighted the problem: I don't know the language!!! How can I possibly train a new missionary when I can't speak the language? I know if I refused the call after receiving it I would feel guilty forever but I wanted to refuse so badly.  

I remember before I came to Taiwan I was afraid I would get some trainer who had only been out for a few months because there just aren't enough sisters to train. Now I AM that trainer that I never wanted to get. I feel I am doing a disservice to that Sister. That being said, if I'm going to do it. I don't want to give my trainee any of this stress. I want to love her and be there for her. I want to make this good for her, whoever she is.  I realized I need to believe that this is from God, and that he really is orchestrating this. I know in my head that this is true, but my heart is saying "You got this calling because there aren't enough older sisters to train." 

I'm sorry for my bad reaction. I hope this helps explain it. I'm trying really hard to have a better attitude before the week ends! It is slowly changing. I know that you are called of God President Day, and I will trust in the calls that you extend to us. I DO believe in God, everyone’s lives are in His hand and He is guiding this work. I am so grateful for you, your love and your support. I really did feel loved by you and Sister Day on Thursday, thank you.

I'm sorry I threw a temper tantrum in this letter. I'm really going to be fine. I think I kind of knew this was coming because of my setting apart blessing. I LOVE YOU!!!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards

Monday September 30, 2013

Monday September 30, 2013

Dear Family

"This week Danshui has been good!  Poor Sister Taylor . . . the time is passing by too fast for her.  We had several days that started really bad, and then got really good, or the other way around. Sister Taylor and I are riding a roller coaster of emotions and stress, but it always works out in the end! Heavenly Father is really good and giving us just what we need.

Huang Dorthy is our recent miracle! She is still progressing really well. When we met with her on Tuesday she had read through 1 Nephi 12 (this is from Sunday to Tuesday) . . . which I think is incredible! I am a missionary and I don't read my scriptures that fast. And she's praying too, so I think she's going to get answers. (And my Chinese MUST be improving, because I almost typed "she's doing prayer too") It's so exciting to meet with someone who is keeping commitments and seems to want it.

Li Lu San is doing pretty well--we met with her again this week, and she is reading and praying, but she still doesn't know that it's true. From her comments about the scriptures; I think her faith is growing. If she continues to really seek, she'll know. Yesterday she had a day off from work. It was her birthday, so she went with her friends to Xinhua to celebrate instead of church . . . NNNNNOOOOOO! She doesn't have work off very often (she's a nurse), so that was hard.

Mandy! We still haven't met with her a ton, but she is so willing and seems to love our message. We had to teach her the entire first lesson quickly this week. She came late and we had other appointments, so we'll have to review thoroughly next time, but she was open and willing to commit to read and pray. Since she contacted us to begin with, I'm not too worried about her.

We finally met with another investigator again! She's been taking care of her younger brother out of town lately. She was great--we could barely squeeze a few words in to teach the second half of the Plan of Salvation. That woman can talk SO MUCH!  But we love her, and she's great. She is keeping commitments, including the Word of Wisdom and she wants it so much! She also came to an activity that was going on the same day we met with her, and I think she enjoyed it. A few members of the ward took the time to talk to her, and I think she enjoyed it.

We also met with a Gao JM for the first time yesterday, and it was kind of cool. When we contacted her on the street a couple days ago she was SUPER NERVOUS! When we talked about other things she was a little hai hao, but when we tried to encourage her to try saying her own prayer, she would get SUPER nervous. She almost started crying on the street (ok . . . so maybe we were pushing it too much . . . but we wanted her to say her own prayer so she could see how not-scary it was!). She still set up with us. Then the night before she didn't answer when we called. The next day when other things were going on we didn't worry too much about getting to her appointment because she hadn't confirmed anyway. Then we discovered that WE had missed calls from HER! We rushed over to the university and met with her.  I'm still not sure about her interest, but it is cool to see someone we didn't think would work out be able to meet with us, make commitments, and set up another appointment.

I feel like Heavenly Father is really guiding the work, because everything just works out the way it's supposed too. So many times things happen, just right. For example Gao JM yesterday! We were at a big ward lunch. We decided to check our phone and saw her missed call. Then the people we had an appointment with last night cancelled; consequently when we finished meeting with Gao JM we decided to go see Jean, our recent convert. She's been really stressed out lately. We ended up washing her walls and re-organizing her room/house (her room is her house).  I think it made a big difference for her! It wasn't according to the original plan, it wasn't the best Sunday activity I can think of, and it took a long time . . . but it was RIGHT. It was what she needed; we could help because our appointments all cancelled. 

That sort of thing happens a lot. Sister Taylor is so good at recognizing opportunities and then grabbing them.  I'm trying to see how she does it so I can continue to do the same! I'm actually nervous for Sis Taylor to leave. I don't know how I am going to be in Danshui without her. I know I'll have a new companion and that will for sure help, but I'll have to guide us around.  I'm supposed to already know and have relationships with the ward members.  I don't know how I'm going to do it. I don't want to lose what Sister Taylor has here!

We got to eat dinner with a member of the temple presidency last Monday night because they live in our ward. They were great. Sister Taylor and I have been having so much fun lately! We work a little bit differently, but we both know it and so we work with each other . . . and then we have so much fun!!! I'm killing my companion (meaning she goes home this next transfer day), so it's a rough transition. Mom, you and Sister Taylor should get together to clean and organize. With your ability to throw things away and her ability to work hard and endure to the end with big projects . . . you would be so great together!

Something kind of cool! I met a Shi4lin2 member who has her call to serve on Temple Square! Because of Visa stuff she's not sure when she'll leave, but when she does, you need to tell me when you go to temple square and you can take her and her companion out to dinner or something. Her English name is Emerald.

So the instrument is a traditional ancient Chinese something or other that sounds super cool!

This was our young men young women talent show Saturday night that our investigator You Coco showed up to. (It was super fun! They may or may not have made us get up with everyone and participate in the totally bu Xing dancing . . . I felt bad, but the ward members were all up dancing too, and they LOVED it . . . and I loved it too :))

That spider is in our church!!! It was SO GIANT!!! I kept getting distracted during the lesson because I was afraid of where it would go like fall on me!!!

And then the goose on the truck. Yeah I have no idea why that goose was on that truck, but I made us stop so I could take a picture.

I love my life, I love Taiwan, I love being a missionary, I love this gospel and I love my Savior Jesus Christ!!!!! I would be so miserable without the power of His love and Atonement. Lately I've been thinking more about Christ and just how much He is EVERYTHING. He is the light and life of the world, and my life, and everything I hope for in life. I wish everyone to have the best week ever and good luck with everything. I love you!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards, Du JieMei