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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monday Novermber 11, 2013

Monday November 11, 2013

The best part of my week was our lesson with XXXSan. She had finished all the missionary lessons before I arrived at Danshui, but hadn't received an answer. This week when we visited her and asked her about the Book of Mormon, she said, "Zhe shi zhende." (This is true).  I don't know if better words have ever been spoken. I believe in the power of the Book of Mormon! It was amazing. I don't know if she realizes just what her belief means, but it was the greatest of all miracles for me. Which made it all the more bitter when she didn't come to church Sunday. She'll make it, slowly but surely. Conversion doesn’t always happen as quickly as we sometimes want it to. I know the Book of Mormon is true!

I don't know if XXX JM’s faith has grown a ton yet, but she is reading, praying and CAME TO CHURCH THIS WEEK! If she keeps doing these things, with real intent, she will know. I was afraid she would not want to meet with us. I didn't know if transferring from an English class student into an investigator would evolve smoothly, but I was wrong! Out of all our investigators, and those who said they'd come to church, she was the only one who really showed up. Yes XXXJM!

As we were contacting last Monday we ran into a college student who was really curious, talked to us and asked good questions. We ended up teaching him the entire first lesson. Both of us felt like the spirit was strongly there--it was so cool! I think Heavenly Father really wanted us to find him that night, because both of our lessons cancelled last minute-- which made it possible for us to find him! We had to give him to the Elders, but it was still cool.

We had 6 peike’s this week! I know that doesn't sound like a lot (nor should I be thinking too much about numbers) but it is really hard to find peike’s, so I count it as a miracle! Especially with all the cancellations we had this week. People were cancelling so much that I'm starting to rely more on them cancelling than on them showing up. But those hours spent calling to find peike’s paid off! Along with the ward members helping us peike, we've been meeting with the Bishop while the Mission leader's been gone. That has been so beneficial. The Bishop and his wife are really supportive of us as  missionaries, and it makes a huge difference."

What is on my mind the most at this very moment--is the inconvenience of sitting on a bruised tailbone!! I'm not sure how I did it . . . but I woke up one day this week with a VERY sore tailbone! I can't sit in certain positions, or lay flat on my back very comfortably!  So that's been fun, especially when I'm riding a bike. :)

This past week I had interviews with President Day.  He really does receive revelation for us. It's funny how he changes for every missionary; he is the mission president every missionary needs. I felt so uplifted after talking with him. I felt approval of my efforts, but inspired on things to do to improve. He really is one of the most filled-with-love persons that I have ever met. It makes him an amazing mission president.

I shared with President Day some of my goals. The advice he gave me was to 1) make the Savior a bigger part of my life every day, and 2) give the glory to God for every good thing that happens to me. So these are the things that have been on my mind. As a general question for anyone who wants to answer: 

How did you develop your personal relationship with the Savior?

I've just started reading Jesus the Christ too, and I LOVE it! It is so good! I am learning a lot. Although my study time just got a lot shorter and there was never enough time to begin with! I love this gospel. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. Serving the Lord every day is a special opportunity that I am really grateful for.

Our apartment in Danshui is so nice!!! No dehumidifier, but AC, yes :) And it's beautiful. We can cook in it . . . but we don't :) Food on the streets is so convenient and cheap, so we usually eat out. Taiwanese people actually eat out a lot more than we do in America for that reason, although not as much as us missionaries :). Food in Taiwan!! It's so good and it's so different sometimes . . . which I love. I love trying new foods. It's fun to always have something new to try--and it's all delicious! Lately I've been craving moon cakes, a traditional mid-autumn festival treat, which we don't get a lot of after the festival; so I think we might have to go find some today! There are a lot of different kinds, but one of the more common ones that I really like is a cooked egg yolk in the middle, with sweet red bean paste around that, all surrounded by the pastry part. So good!!

I love you

This is from a lady in my ward, the one on the left

Planning is with man, accomplishing with heaven.

Man proposes, God disposes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday November 4, 2013

Monday November 4, 2013

Dear family,

This week has been good. I always forget what has happened by the time Monday comes around. Yesterday my companion helped me remember some of the fun/funny things, so I hope this week will be a little less boring.

First is the earthquake!!! My first earthquake ever!! We were standing outside the church waiting for an investigator. I was leaning against the wall, when all of a sudden I thought, "Wow, this is a strong wind, I can feel the building moving. Wait a minute . . ." It was pretty exciting to be able to feel it. We could only feel the quake for about 5-10 seconds, but apparently it lasted for a minute or two. We were both stoked, because it was a first for both of us, and we ran inside super excited to ask the students in institute if that really was an earthquake. We found the teacher standing fearfully next to a pillar and no one was looking particularly excited. They did find our excitement quite funny!

So this week was Halloween . . . but Halloween isn't really celebrated in Taiwan . . . :( 
I was determined to do something! I woke up Wednesday and decided that we were going to carve pumpkins in English class that night. Ok, so it was really just drawing faces on tiny pumpkins with markers from the Primary closet. It still made me happy to see some Jack-o-lantern faces on pumpkins.

The best part of Halloween was seeing a group of college kids who actually dressed up!  It was funny being the one saying "Wo keyi pai ni de zhao pian ma?" Can I take your picture? Usually we're the ones sticking out.  
Is this xiao3long2bao1 ?

Also for Halloween we set out to  find xiao3long2bao1, something a member had told us was yummy that we have never eaten. We knew there was a shop around the church, and asking around not only led us to the place, but the man bought them for us too! Yes. Being Waiguoren (foreigner) is the best. And then we bought some candy in honor of the holiday, and of course ate all of it that night :)

We also finally ate Agei, Danshui's traditional food. It's actually really good!
Is this Agei???
It's pretty simple, just a big tofu ball with noodles in the middle, but the sauce makes it yummy. The traditional Agei is historic.  Way back when, fisherman would make Agei because it was easy to take out on the boat without getting messy, etc. because the noodles are surrounded by Tofu.

Today was pretty fun too. The XXX family came to Danshui to visit us! They were an amazing family from Zhudong that I love so much. They are the best.  They have this amazing capacity to love. It doesn't really matter what I do or how good I am at this or that, you don't have to earn their love in any way-- they just LOVE. It was pretty fun! We didn't have too much time because we had to go to Taipei to sing, but it was perfect. It was also XXX first time eating gummy worms . . . which she was REALLY reluctant to do . . . so I had to take pictures.

I did push-ups for the first time in a VERY long time. Bad idea!! I was sore for days!!  My companion is pretty good at working out . . . so I'm hoping to get in a little better shape; hopefully it will make riding up all these Danshui hills a little easier.

We met with a girl we'd contacted on the street for the first time Thursday night. First of all we thought she'd fang'd us,stood us up. We ended up sticking around the church for a half an hour (experiencing an earthquake). We realized our phone was having problems, fixed it, and got hold of her.  Then we met with her! I was glad a few things kept us around the church, because it was an amazing lesson.

Actually the lesson wasn't that amazing because I talked too much, but SHE was amazing! We asked why she'd agreed/wanted to meet with us, and she said because she wanted to get to know God. WHOA. But it gets better. When we asked her what it would mean if God really existed, she said she would want to follow him. AAHHH! These people really exist?? Yes, they do. It was super cool. I'm really excited to keep meeting with her.

XXX came to church this week!  It is so hard to get people to come to church. I really hope the gospel can help her, because she needs it. It was cool to see her and JM, the gospel principles teacher, talking after class. XXX was talking to JM a bit about her problems, which had to do with the lesson that was taught, and it really made JM care about her and want to get involved.  We visited  JM and her family after church. She talked to us about XXX and agreed to help us peike XXX lesson next Saturday. She invited us to have it at her house. Yes!  

Finding peike's is SO HARD.  I'm excited about getting-members-involved. Peike's were actually a miracle this week. One night I spent 45 minutes to an hour trying to find a peike for the next day. I called everyone I could think of without success. BUT, another night, after trying really hard with no success, a member called US back and said she could!!  Last night a member called us about something and agreed to peike BOTH of our lessons tonight!! I was SO grateful.

Temple tours was a Book of Mormon day.  We handed out 5 copies of the Book of Mormon, 7 counting the English one we gave Elder Weech and the Spanish one we gave our Recent Convert who is studying Spanish.  We gave one to a man who lives in China; another was a Korean BoM to a man just visiting Taiwan for 5 days. I BELIEVE in the power of the Book of Mormon. Handing out copies of the Book of Mormon is my favorite thing to do.

A couple weeks ago before District meeting the Elders called and asked if we could pick them up some food, because they were running late. However I misunderstood and I only bought two lunches . . . and 4 elders needed food! I felt pretty bad and told them I would buy them pie to make up for it. This week, we came through. Tuesday rolled around and Sister George and I bought an entire cheesecake and brought it to our district meeting. It was a little pricey, but definitely worth the Elder’s reactions!

Training really is wonderful. I can't say that I'm the best trainer ever, I'm definitely not perfect, but I can say that it feels right. And I'm really happy. Needing to take the lead makes me more responsible for what we do together, I'm a lot more motivated to do it and I feel greater satisfaction and involvement in what is done. I'm glad to be a missionary.