Merry Christmas!! What a great Christmas week we had! Celebrating Christmas was much different here in Taiwan than in the States. School is held, everyone goes to work, and it is basically just another day for them. But, we were able to proselyte all day Christmas Day and share a Christmas message on the street of this beautiful island!
First, dad, I lied on Skype...haha. There are 4 chapels in our stake and we are planning on splitting stakes this next stake conference.
Some more about my new area: Sister Cardon and I live on the 23rd floor of our apartment building. The buildings here are HUGE!. We do most of our contacts on the street since we can't knock the apartment complexes---most if not all are all locked up. Another huge change from my previous two areas but I LOVE it! There are so many cars, motor scooters, buses, taxis, etc on the streets...I literally am saying so many prayers I don't die every morning :) haha. The members here are amazing and there are a lot of families in the ward. From serving only in the two branches of our mission--this is a huge change. There are a lot more names I need to remember and people I need to get to know--but they are all so nice and serve us missionaries so much!
This morning after studies to start Preparation day, us and the Tao 3 Elders went to an all you can eat hot pot place with the Tao 3 ward Bishop and his wife. It was really fun and it was good to get to know them. Tao 3 and Tao 4 just split a few months ago and so we pretty much still do everything together except for Sunday meetings. It is fun and it is huge...definitely not used to that part of it.
This last week was filled with some really neat experiences. With it being Christmas week, our Spirits were high and we were able to touch many lives.
Last Monday night after p-day, we had an evening full of miracles. While we were waiting for an investigator to show up, we made some street contacts and met a really cute school student-洪同學. She has a strong desire to learn about Christ and says that her parents would be okay with her meeting with us! We had an amazing lesson with our new investigator Daniel (吳弟兄) and taught him about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. He grew up going to a church as a child a little bit but as he has gotten older, hasn't really gone to church and has 'forgotten' about God. We set a baptismal date with him and we are excited to help him work towards that goal. We visited a part member family-the mom and daughter just got baptized the week before I got transferred here-and we are still working with the dad. He is a very deep thinker and has to perfectly understand everything but I am learning so much from him! We went and wished them a Merry Christmas and had a really good lesson on Christmas and why everyone is so happy during this time of year. AND as we were making street contacts, we went and talked to these two males who were sitting on a bench--turns out they are from the Philippines here in Taiwan working. One of them, Jack, is a Member of our church--has the Priesthood and everything-all his brothers served a mission but he didn't. His friend, Rockie, is Catholic but interested in learning more. We normally meet with a few other Filipino members every Saturday night so we invited them to come! To say the least, we had a very successful Monday night!
Last Tuesday was our Christmas Mission Conference. President Jergensen got special permission to get the whole mission together for this conference. We all gathered at the American Inn Hotel and had a day full of eating delicious food (I took a picture--mostly for you dad---from your picture of Thanksgiving dinner) and many missionaries shared talents--sang and all and some were really funny and cute! Our Mission Choir also sang and did their show for us and some missionaries who serve in Taipei were asked to act out the nativity. They did a beautiful job and combined it with Elder Holland's First Christmas away from home story. It was neat and had a lot of power. Wow, I love this mission so much. I literally serve with some amazing people. I wouldn't change this experience for anything. The relationships I have gained with the people here and missionaries are priceless. Words can't describe how incredible it is to be able to serve in the Taiwan Taipei Mission!
The highlight of Wednesday was that we met with a new investigator we met last week named Chloe. She is a travel agent and frequently leaves Taiwan to give tours-mostly to Japan-but is super willing to meet when she is here! She counts herself as a member of the traditional Buddhist/Diaoist religion here and frequently goes to the temple to baibai but she doesn't really know if worshiping does much. We taught her the entire first lesson and she asked some amazing questions. She is really interested in learning more about Christ. She said she was also willing to be baptized when she comes to know for herself that the church is true! We set a date with her to work towards. She was in Japan this weekend for work but hopefully will be coming to church next week! Wednesday night we had English boarding and English class. Sister Cardon and I will be teaching the Intermediate Class this transfer. I am excited and it is also a pretty good finding tool here in TaoYuan.
Thursday right after getting out of studies, we got a call from an investigator who wanted to meet so we quickly called a member to bring with us and we met him at MOS Burger. 張弟兄 is a former investigator from about a 1 to 1 1/2 years ago and just could never feel of the truthfulness of the message when he met with missionaries before. So today, we have decided to start from the very beginning and go through all the lessons with him again. I am excited to see the change it makes. He was reading the Book of Mormon while waiting for us and I am excited to see how hopefully this time he will be able to feel the truth! Thursday night we had a member call us and ask if we could do a little share for her cram school class about the true meaning of Christmas all in English. She teaches about 13 kids in this class so we were able to go and meet all of them and share about Christs' birth. They were all really cute and super shy. They were so surprised to see two foreigners in their classroom when they first walked in and wouldn't even talk-not even to each other. :) But they warmed up and were willing to talk after a little bit. These kids are so lucky to be able to start learning English during school. Yeah...the students here are really really xinku. They go to school from like 7 to 8 am and get out of school anywhere between 5-8 PM. We also ate Christmas Eve Dinner at a family in our wards home! (Pictures should be on FB)
Friday: CHRISTMAS! Sister Cardon and I had a good morning with getting ready quickly after exercises to have time to open our presents. (Yes, we were good at waiting until Christmas.) And then had a great morning of Studies. We had a full day of outside work--with no set ups during the day so we hit the streets and shared about Christmas with all who would listen. Today, we didn't see many miracles--in fact rarely anyone wanted to really talk to us--but the really neat thing about today was I truly learned happiness. I truly learned the meaning of Christmas. It is not about the presents, the food, the snow, or anything. It is about celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. About family relationships and gathering together to celebrate together. I realized more the importance of living a good life and striving to become the best we can. And, Friday night, we had a great evening with a family in Tao 3 eating a Christmas Dinner at TGI Fridays. It felt weird eating American food because in my previous area there was no restaurants with American food or anything BUT I guess we are blessed now :) WE had a great night and we all ate way too much. Tonny and Fiona (You JiaTing) were just baptized this year and are such strong members. The Elders in their ward tell us how much You DiXiong gets up in Priesthood and tells everyone they need to make more time to peike for us missionaries:) haha.
Saturday: BY FAR THE BEST DAY! I was able to Skype home! AAWWWW it was so good to see you all! I am glad you are all doing great! I am glad you all had a great Christmas!
Saturday was filled with mostly lessons. We ate lunch with a less active family in our ward. Had a lesson with an investigator who is looking to join a Christian Church but has heard a lot about our Church and is a bit hesitant, had an Recent convert lesson with DingLing and Duan JieMei and met with 志文。 He is interested in church but believes that going and practicing shooting this air soft gun thing is more important than coming to church--so we are working on that. :) Saturday night we were supposed to meet with the school student but she didn't show up and then yesterday, we got a text from her telling us that she was so sorry and that she fell asleep and her phone was off when we tried to call her but wants to meet with us again! So, instead we met with the member we were bringing with us. She just got married and her husband is a nonmember but she hopes with all her heart that he can start taking the lessons. His home however is not in our ward so the other missionaries in Tao2 are going to have to teach him. And, we met with Jay, a Filipino AND he served in the CAUAYAN MISSION a while ago as a missionary! He asked where Bryan was but I could only remember the first area he was in...haha He also said that another member in our ward, Alster, who I have yet to meet, is from Cauayan City!
Sunday, today, was the last day with 2 PM church. Next year, we start at 8:30 AM....so it will be difficult for some of our members to be at church, but hopefully they adjust quickly! We had PEC in the morning and church was really good. A stake high counselor visited us and in Gospel Principles and Relief Society, we talked mostly about setting goals for the new year. Last night, we were knocking and accidentally knocked into an LA family. They were so nice to welcome us in. Over the last few years they have slipped in and out of activity. I know Heavenly Father was really guiding us last night because this family needs to start having weekly visits!
Overall, this week was filled with greatness! We also have a great week ahead of us planned! I am grateful I have been transferred to NanKan/TaoYuan. This area has a lot of potential and it is definitely not an easy area but I love the challenge! I know this work is true and am so grateful I am a missionary. This work is incredible, life changing, and miracles literally occur everyday if we open our eyes to see them! I know Christ lives and am so grateful for his birth and the life that He lived. His perfect example and for establishing His church on the earth!
I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!
Sisters Kunzler, Harvey, Cardon and I.
Sister Huang and I.
All from the Christmas Conference we had. We all walked to the grand hotel--the lower steps are where Taiwan got 'set apart' for missionary service.
Sister Coleman and our matching coats. :)
Christmas lunch--chicken and rice.
Christmas dinner with You JT.