Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wednesday January 29, 2014

Wednesday January 29, 2014

Dear family,

Last week in church (1/19/2014) we set up a meeting with a member, Zhao DX, and his wife. When we talked to them in church, we were focusing on setting up an appointment with them because we didn't know who they were and wanted to get to know another member of our ward better. We thought maybe they were LA's that were coming back. When we talked to him though, he told us that his wife was not a member. We were excited!!  However, going into the lesson we weren't sure what their expectations were. We were hoping to focus on his wife, and start meeting with her as an investigator, but if that wasn't their expectations, we knew it might be a difficult and awkward appointment. But when we met (on exchanges, so it was me with Sister Gruwell, a Sister Training Leader), Zhao DX more or less said that his purpose was to bring his wife to the gospel. We had a good lesson and set a baptismal date. I was amazed!  We made a tiny effort at church to figure out who this member was, and Heavenly Father dropped an amazing and very prepared new investigator into our laps.

We keep meeting with Angel, and she comes to church every week. Last week when we met with her, we followed up on an invite we had given her to spend that week praying about baptism, and setting a new baptismal date. She came back and told us a really cool experience. One night (or perhaps morning), just before she woke up, she had a voice tell her, "You will get baptized." It wasn't frightening or nerve-wracking; it was simply a statement of fact. So cool! And she wore a skirt for the first time to church on Sunday. Which may not sound like a miracle, but it took a lot of coercing on the part of Yang JM (our bishop's wife, who is AWESOME) to get her to come in a skirt, and she complained the whole time (which just kept me laughing). But she is coming along :) slowly, but surely. She reset her baptismal date for 2/28/2014.

The Zhang family DID come to church!! They didn't come until the very end of Sacrament meeting, but they stayed for all the rest of the block. During Sunday School Zhang JM shared the coolest experience with us. She and her husband said prayers together one night (which is something they do every night....yeah!!!).  After her husband and little girl had fallen asleep, she was lying in bed unable to fall asleep. So she decided to do what we had invited her to do. She asked God if all of this stuff was true. Their bedroom has a window, and often the cars driving past will cause the curtain to light up for a few seconds because of the car lights, and then, when the car passes, go back to darkness. After saying her prayer, the curtain, and the room gradually became really light. But then rather than going dark, it stayed bright for a long time, and Zhang JM was filled with a really shufu feeling (which we would probably say a really "good and calm" feeling, although the literal translation is "comfortable"). Then the light got gradually dark again, and she went to sleep. She felt the experience was an answer to her prayer. When we met with them last night, I could feel the difference in her. I could feel her increase in faith, her greater understanding, and her receptiveness. It was an amazing experience.

We finally caught up with Bambi this past week. She is only 16, and because of problems with peike's cancelling last minute, it's been hard meeting with her. We have to have an 18+ year old peike accompany us or else we can't visit her. We finally met on Monday, and it was amazing! She committed to every challenge, including baptism, and committed happily!  Bambi has a good friend from YW, which is, I think, how we got her name.

Saturday night we found out that Monday wouldn't be our P-day because we were going to the temple today.  So Monday we had a day full of empty time . . . it was awesome! By the end of the day we had four new investigators.  Not having P-day on Monday is the best!

This week we start Chinese New Year!! I am SO excited. I expect that we will be seeing tons of miracles. I love you!!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards/Du Jiemei

Pictures that Rachel sent with no explanation.  Sister George her companion at Christmas is her companion so they are from sometime last month.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday January 20, 2014

 Monday January 20, 2014

This week has seen many miracles!! The first was probably our lesson with the Zhang family. After coming to church last Sunday, we set up with them for Monday night, and we had a great lesson!  A member, who is a return missionary, came with us to their house, and our first lesson was wonderful. They are so prepared. With our peike's indispensable help, they were willing to commit to everything we asked. One invitation was particularly touching. We asked about church, and they for sure couldn't attend the next week, and weren't 
willing to give us a solid answer on the 2nd Sunday. Without our saying a word, our peike began to describe her life and how she managed her time and made church a priority, and how everything always worked out. After describing her experience, the family committed to come to church. It was cool to see the spirit working through our peike so much that she said everything that our investigators needed to hear.

Temple tours are always miraculous. As we brought our food outside the temple to eat lunch before starting, a lady very excitedly came up to us and began talking to us. We found out that she was a new English student of the sisters in Wanda, and this lady loved her English teachers. She was already a Christian. We were using the new pamphlet to talk about baptism, and she asked us if it really matters who performs the baptism. At this point we brought her inside the church to answer her questions. At the end of our tour, which mostly covered the first lesson, we invited her to be baptized. You could feel the spirit as she paused and really considered our invitation, and then answered (in English), "Yes. I didn't understand why it mattered before, but I get it now." It was an amazing experience.

Recently our mission president extended a new challenge. Often times as we introduce ourselves as missionaries, we touch our name badge as we say our name. President Day has invited us to talk about our purpose as missionaries, specifically including baptism, every time we touch our badge. We also received the new pamphlet which includes a picture of Jesus Christ getting baptized. We were also challenged to show people this picture as we contact them, ask them if they know what it is, and ask them if they would like to be forgiven of their sins.

We have seen a lot of miracles with these challenges! It helps to keep us as missionaries focused on our purpose, and it quickly allows others to both understand our purpose as well as why they would want it.

We were contacting a university student by the church a few days ago and we could see the difference as we followed President Day’s challenge. As we began to talk to him, he wasn't super interested. As we discussed human imperfection and guilt, and asked if he wanted to be free from these things, the Spirit was there, our message was clear, and he became more interested. It was so cool to see him change!

One thing I've realized recently is the importance of a companion. I think there are a many reasons why we have companions. I am so very grateful that I have ALWAYS been blessed with wonderful companions. It makes a huge difference!! I think my companion might be the biggest influence on my life as a missionary. And I realize that we as human beings were never meant to be alone. A companionship relationship is different than a marriage relationship, but I've realized, being in a companionship, why a marriage is such a necessary part of life. I learn so many things from my companions--and some of them about myself! But the gospel of Jesus Christ gives an understanding, forgiveness, and charity to our relationship with others (whether companions, family members, friends, or just acquaintances) that makes a huge difference. Realizing that we are all children of God, I think, is one of the simplest but most powerful understandings in the world.

This past week we went to the furthest part of our district, to see what there was, and try to find some new investigators. We had never been there. We ran into this older lady who was beyond delighted to see us. She invited us into her house, and we had a lesson with her. As we finished the opening prayer, she was crying and kept saying, "I don't know why I'm crying; I'm just so touched." As we left, we had the distinct impression that we needed to be there that day just to help that woman feel God's love. He is watching over every single one of His children, whether they know he exists or not, and loves every single one of them.

This past week we got the list they've been passing around church the past few weeks . . . our Chinese New Year dinner appointments! Except this is Chinese New Year . . . so there are lunch appointments too :) From 1/30/2014 to 2/6/2014 we have 11 dinner/lunch appointments. Let the terror begin :) I've heard all sorts of horror stories (as I like to call them) about Guonian (Chinese New Year), and I'm pretty excited to see what it's like. The sad thing is that some of our investigators, and most of our contacts, are either out of town or too busy to meet until after Guonian, so we have to be working hard to get things done.

Amy is doing really well!! We gave her the baptism permission form and fasted with her this week as she was going home for Guonian. She is planning on talking to her parents, so I will keep you updated. It has been so cool for us to see her find and use her faith.

I love you!!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards/Du Jiemei

Some pictures sent with no comments or explanations.  So you can make up your own story then mail them to Rachel and see who is the closest to what is really happening.
 The question is:  is she trying to break into a bank or break out of jail.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday January 13. 2014

Monday January 13, 2014
Dearest Loved Ones,

Ok, not literally dancing, but it's been a good week! Ups and downs, just like normal, but with some awesome miracles! I think the greatest miracle has just been watching the progress of our investigator Amy. As we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with her, she reiterated again that she really feels she is ready for baptism. And she really is. Right now, because of family fandui (opposition), it's going to be more difficult, but I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for her and that God is a God of miracles. Seeing her prepared to make that covenant has made me feel that I really am fulfilling my missionary purpose.

Also this week I’ve been talking to more people. One night I pulled up to a lady at a stoplight on our way home, and decided to talk to her, even though there were probably only 20 seconds left at the light.  It turns out that she was willing to stop by the side of the road after the light turned and give us her number. Whoa!! I always hear that this can happen, but that was the first time it's ever actually worked for me!

We were walking into our shequ, and saw a cute mom and her baby. We started to talk to her, only for a few minutes, and set up an appointment for the next day, which she did not fang and then set up another appointment after that!

People are actually coming to church!!  One of our investigators, Mila, told us a few weeks ago that some of the people at church gave her a bad feeling; consequently, she hadn't come to church for a long time. After a few weeks of hard persuading . . . she finally agreed to try it again! Woohoo! Then there is the Zhang family. A short time ago Sister George contacted them on the MRT and invited them to church. They were really enthusiastic about it, but ended up being too busy that week and the next. But this week, they ACTUALLY CAME!!!!  They were really late to Sacrament meeting, and had to leave right after, but they set an appointment  with us for tonight! And the ward was super friendly and the family seemed to enjoy it. This is the first time I've prepared to teach an interested family.  I'm really nervous about teaching them, but I think this opportunity is a tender mercy from the Lord.  Overall we had 5 investigators come to church, although only two for the sacrament.

After church the Elder's investigator got baptized, and three of our investigators were able to attend. The coolest was Mila WITH her husband. From the way she talks about her husband, I think their relationship might be a big burden in her life-which made it cool to have them both there in the church to watch a sacred ordinance.

This week with Mila was one miracle. The second time we met with her we weren't able to find a peike, which makes her lessons really hard because  A) she has more difficulties in her life that peikes often help address, and  B) her Chinese is really hard to understand.  We thought about teaching her about the Word of Wisdom, but decided that teaching about the Sabbath Day would be a little better. Then Heavenly Father showed us that we need to have more faith. As we sat down, she set two cups of tea in front of us. "Oh, we actually don't drink tea," "Why??" So of course, we proceeded to teach the Word of Wisdom to her, with no preparation or peike. And it was a great lesson. The first time we met Mila, she smoked, and I think drank as well. After becoming pregnant she gave up smoking and drinking, and her only real problem is tea. Heavenly Father prepared her and put us in her life now, when she is prepared to hear the gospel.

You asked about my companion. I love her!! She is from Dayton Idaho, which is actually not  far from Downey, so she knows about Downey! She was a student at SUU before she came on her mission and is studying English with a writing emphasis. I think her major is creative writing. Her dream is to open a publishing company that publishes good literature. She is 20 years old (19 when she left!), and has awesome Chinese for not having learned anything before coming out. She works hard, is obedient and so willing to love. I'm really grateful for her forgiveness too. I've realized that I am a person who often makes mistakes. I have been blessed with companions who recognize my good intentions and always forgive me. Sometimes she is too good though! This past week she's been sick, but she refuses to complain AT ALL. I've had a really hard time knowing if she really is ok to go out or not to go out and work. Sister Nelson has deep faith and a strong relationship with her Heavenly Father.  Faith is something I know I need more of, and so that is one of her strengths that I’m grateful for, and I'm hoping I can learn greater faith from her. AH! Time's up already.

I love getting emails and letters. I know I rarely give personal answers, but that is not because I don't care-- you have no idea how much it means to me to get a letter or an email. There simply is not enough time. I love you!!!

Sister Rachel Caroline Edwards/Du Jiemei

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monday January 6, 2014

Hello wo qin ai de jiating!

Transfers!! Wednesday night we got the call that I would be staying in Danshui and Sister George would be moving. I was SO sad to see Sister George go, but very happy to be staying in Danshui. I can feel that my work is not yet finished here. My new companion's name is Alaina RuJean Nelson, from Dayton, Idaho, and transfers are always on Friday, so we became companions on January 3rd, 2014. 2014!! That is still so crazy to me. 

A while ago Sister George and I contacted these two girls on a bus. The contact seemed kind of hai hao, but they gave us their numbers. A bit later we called them and set an appointment for Saturday. The Friday night before, we were busy and we didn’t have time to call them to confirm our appointment or to call a peike. Saturday they got really lost trying to find the church. When they finally made it, it turned out they had brought a friend with them too! As soon as we walked into the chapel  we ran into Guo Coco, a member who is also a great peike.  She could help us peike for a few minutes. As we started the lesson I was a bit nervous, because first lessons can be really hard as you are never entirely certain of their expectations, their needs, or their knowledge of gospel things. On top of that, this was Sister Nelson and mine first time teaching investigators together. AND there were THREE of them! One was a Christian, two were not. Altogether, this lesson could very easily have turned into a disaster, but, it didn't. And that was the miracle. It was a really smooth lesson and we taught basic truths, bore testimony, and invited them to begin their journey. All three of them set a baptismal date, agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and agreed to come to church the next day. It was miraculous.

Temple Tours were great! We met a man named Lenny. He was SO prepared. As we did a quick book-tour and had a lesson with him, we could feel how sincere he was.  We walked into the chapel for a moment, he was drawn to the picture of Jesus's second coming and explained the wonderful feelings he had looking at it. In the closing prayer he told God that although his heart was not prepared, he hoped God would give him the chance to get to know Him. That statement itself told me that despite his assertion of unpreparedness, he was indeed VERY prepared to hear the gospel.

Amy is simply amazing! In one of her closing prayers this week, she asked Heavenly Father to help her quickly get baptized. Whoa!!  During Sunday school our lesson was about Heavenly Father, His attributes, and how we can get to know Him. When asked about her personal experience, and how she has come to know God/believe in Him/something like that, Amy answered "scriptures," and went on to explain her experience with reading scriptures and feeling them speak to her. It was so neat to see her relationship with Heavenly Father. However, she talked to her parents for the first time this week about baptism, and her dad said she couldn't be baptized. Her father's word is law in her house, so this will be an obstacle. But I believe that Heavenly Father is a God of miracles, and I am working to have enough faith that one can actually happen. Her original baptismal date is next week, and she is so prepared! 

I have so many goals, and I don't know which ones to focus on.  I want to pick back up on actively trying to learn Chinese as I speak with people in everyday situations. I need to be more humble. I need to LOVE more. I need to have more faith. I need to be more positive. I need to figure out how to recognize the Spirit. I need to talk to everyone. I need to . . . . oh the list goes on and on. I feel like there is something missing that Heavenly Father wants me to pick up on, but I still can't figure out what it is. I think it might be humility or faith . . . but I'm not sure.

Sister Edwards/Du Jiemei