Monday, March 7, 2016

This is it!!! Last Blog Post from Taiwan

This picture marked the ending of one of the happiest days of my mission. My cute trainer Sister Wu planned a surprise for me it included my first baptized investigator, my first ward mission leader, one of my first roommates, one of my first member friends and some of my favorite people:)
My trainer and Mom!
One of my favorite roommates, Sister Lin!
My first baptized investigator, Cho Dixiong
My first ward mission leader, Hu Dixiong
One of my first member friends, Cora

To top it all off Huang Xing Hua was baptized this Saturday :)
Dear Family & Friends,
I'm at a complete loss for words... so it's time for a song!

On the first day 'till I go home my companion said to me...

"It's March! I swear I'm not emotional..."

This was the first of March and our final Zone Conference together. It was our best training we've done yet. It's been so fun for me to watch Sister Meyers, who is by nature more shy and timid, really come out of her shell and take on this role as STL.

On the second day 'till I go home my companion said to me...

"Good luck at your interview!"

I had my final interview with President Jergensen this week. It was wonderful to receive one last Priesthood blessing from a man I admire so much. But as I left my interview I started thinking about everything we had talked about... and I became very discouraged. I felt that my mission had been a waste of time because I had not had enough baptisms. I was really hurt and I didn't know what to think for a while. I was very distressed and couldn't really function. 

On the third day 'till I go home my companion said to me...

"Last WPS!"

I had been praying a lot that night and the next morning for peace and consolation from the Spirit. It came. I was able to think logically and do you know what I realized? The only being in the universe who wants me to think my mission was a waste is Satan. So I stopped listening to him. :) haha. It was also so awesome to be able to do my last Weekly Planning Session with my companion. I really needed her encouragement and love :)

On the fourth day 'till I go home my companion said to me...

"It's your last exchange!"

Being a STL has stretched me in ways I didn't know I could be stretched and I haven't really liked it sometimes :) haha. But looking back I'm so thankful for all of the experiences I had that changed me. I was able to go on a really great exchange with our dear Li Jiemei. She's still in training, but she is going to be a very powerful leader in this mission. I was so thankful to be able to bond with her and be friends :) Also the picture of us in the font was when we were preparing for Huang Jiemei's baptism :) haha

On the fifth day 'till I go home my companion said to me...


This was potentially the happiest day of my whole mission. Huang Xing Hua Jiemei entered into the waters of baptism and made covenants with Heavenly Father. It was wonderful and she just kept saying how good she felt. That night Wu Jiemei and I had already planned to go to dinner together and she was going to invite some of her friends who lived in Yonghe. While we were waiting for her outside the restaurant who should show up but CHO DIXIONG!!! I almost cried when I saw him. It's been almost 1 full year since I saw my first RC. He walked up and told me that Wu Jiemei had invited him too! So we were all going to eat dinner together! I was giddy. He then kept telling me how much my Chinese has improved. hahaha. So we went into the restaurant to sit down and while we were waiting guess who walked in? Lin Jiemei! My roommate from Zhubei! And then Hu Dixiong came in! And Cora came in! And Cai Dong Dong came in! And naturally Wu Jiemei was also there, so happy with herself for surprising me :) It was one of the most wonderful reunions I have ever participated in. WU Jiemei also got presents for all of my family :) haha. She's really hoping we will adopt her later ;) ;)

On the sixth day 'till I go home my companion said to me...

"There's your 4."

Before LIn Jun Nan was baptized Sister Meyers and I faithfully set a goal to get 5 more baptisms before I went home. I've never fasted and prayed so hard for anything on my mission. We fasted almost every Sunday and prayed for it every day. We searched through all our former records, found on the street, got people to church, everything we could think of. After Lin Jun Nan was baptized we only had 4 more. So this transfer has been affectionately nicknamed "the 4" haha. We've been working so hard for it, but nothing seemed to be working. Our investigators would be all ready for their interviews and then all of a sudden their family would protest or they had to find a job or they had to move to China... so many different things. Last week after our WPS I realized that because of the requirement in our mission for investigators to attend church at least 3 times before baptism, I wouldn't very likely see 3 more baptisms after Huang Jiemei's on Saturday. So I prayed and told the Lord I trusted Him no matter what. Then on Saturday Huang Jiemei was baptized! It was wonderful and we had a lot of support from the ward. Then on Sunday we went to the fireside in Taipei. (My heart is so full even as I write this.) As we were leaving the fireside, I got to see Sister Nau, one of our sweet sisters in our zone. We used to serve in the Central Taipei Zone together when I was training Sister Fenlaw. She hugged me and very emphatically told me, "Anna is getting baptized on SAturday!" I couldn't believe it. Anna was a young African woman Sister Fenlaw and I had found during our first transfer together. I was elated! Then as we walked out into the hall I ran into a woman who I had given a temple tour to when I was companions with Sister Wood... she called my name, hugged me and said, "Guess what? I got baptized last Saturday!" I was speechless. 

As we were riding home I just kept telling Sister Meyers how astonished I was and she said, "There's your 4." I felt the Spirit just rush into my heart in that moment. All of the fasting and praying we had been doing meant something. It just wasn't something we were seeing direct results from. Those prayers and blessings were going to people outside of our view. I began to count mentally in my head, Lin Jun Nan (1), Huang Xing Hua (2), Anna (3), The miracle temple tour (4), but we were still short one. I asked my inspired companion what she thought of that, she then said, "Maybe it will be one you don't know about." Once again, the Spirit came into my heart and I knew what she was saying was true.

I testify that God knows His children. He loves us and has a plan for us. I testify that we will never fully understand the reach of our service until the very end. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He lives. He loves us. He has already given us all that he is (and that's a lot).

I love this gospel. I am honored to be a part of the Taiwan Taipei mission family. This really does feel like my new home. I'm thankful for every one of my companions and all they taught me. I'm thankful God is still watching over me. 

I love you all and I'll see you soon!

Gu Jiemei!!!
I got to visit Lin Dixiong in the hospital one more time before I left for home:)
My last exchange with cute Li Jiemei!!!
I TAUGHT MY FINAL ENGLISH CLASS. For some reason my entire mission I've been chosen to teach the kid's class... as you can see they are always so full of spirit :) haha
Taipei South Zone!!!
Taipei West Zone Leadership:)
This is the miracle woman I saw at a the fireside this week:)
One of my favorite members. This is Ding Jiemei. They got us cake for our last dinner with them :')

Monday, February 29, 2016

Last Full Week as a Full Time Missionary

Dear Family & Friends,
I can't believe that I am beginning my last full week as a full time missionary!!! This last transfer has just been a very refining one :) I'm thankful for the gospel and all the peace it brings. Here are a couple of the tender mercies of this week: in picture form:)
1.  Attending the temple
2. This week when we were at the temple I ran into one of our Xinan members! And then--due to a very large tender mercy of the Lord--I got to go to lunch with 3 of my very favorite members today! WOOHOO!!! 
3. Our sweet Huang Xin Hua will be getting baptized before I go home! We're so excited for her. She was actually an investigator about 2 years ago and we found her record and decided to contact her!  She's inspiring! :)
4. Love these adorable kids:)
5. This week I decided I missed Young Women's too much... so we put on an activity! This activity ended up being the most stressful cookie-making I've ever endured, but look at their smiling faces :) 
6. Exchanges with our favorite Xindian Seesters.
7- There's only so much more time left where I can match clothing with my best friend and have it be socially acceptable... so we capitalized on this fine opportunity. Team Taiwan!
8- This morning we went to our usual park for exercise and found an empty half-court for basketball. Turns out the players that were on the other half actually wanted to play full-court... so we ended up playing against them! It was the most fun exercise we've had in a while :) Watch out for Taiwanese basketball players... They're fierce.
9- Seeing some of the beautiful sights here in Taipei
10- Visiting the largest miao in my area.
11- This picture is a story I will have to tell later;) it includes the investigator, the RC, the 2 peikes, and the dog. One big happy family! :) 
A couple of other things I didn't take pictures of but am so grateful for were:
-Seeing Sherry on the street and having her bear her testimony to us right there of how Heavenly Father loves her and is protecting her
-We were able to attend an activity with our Relief Society and we pulled a woman in off the street to attend. She loved it and fit right in with our members!
-I attended my final ward council of my mission
-Sister Meyers. She keeps me laughing even when I don't want to :) haha

Heading into this last full week of missionary work is a little bit crazy, but I'm thankful for the support of an awesome companion and all the prayers from people back home. I know I'm where God wants me to be. I know I'm doing the Lord's work. I'm thankful for all the growth and stretching God is putting me through. 


Gu Jiemei

Monday, February 22, 2016

18 Months & More

This picture just warms my heart. So in a kind of crazy turn of events we had a gigantic missionary activity with our 2 wards! I ended up splitting off with 2 of our more mature sisters and we had 2 lessons and 1 new investigator girl who said her dad is looking for a church! (A big miracle here in Taiwan) The Shuanghe wards are just beginning an incredible legacy of Missionary Work and I'm so excited to have been a small part of it. 
To celebrate my 18 month mark I had starbucks Hot chocolate, McDonald's ice cream, and my companion and I wore matching skirts. 
This is what happens on the day we decide to clean out the apartment's junk
So in a turn of events that broke my heart, we had to say goodbye to Roger. He is going back to Mainland China to see his sick father in the hospital. On his last day here we were on exchanges and Sister Meyers didn't get to meet with him, but I had him pull out this picture so we could have one last picture together.
The best district meeting I've had my whole mission! We're on the quest for gold!!
Dear everyone I love,
Here are a few things from this week:
1- Tender Mercies:
So our mission has been making a HUGE push towards member-missionary work and so we've been thinking a lot about what would be the best way to get referrals from members. We've been thinking about it and praying about it and we saw the hand of the Lord. Our second counselor in the bishopric invited us to meet with 2 of his neighbors this week! They're 14 and 11 years old and super awesome. We set up with them to make cookies together on Saturday! :) haha. Our bishopric also agreed to go and visit Sherry's family this week. :) They'll be going on Saturday and talking to her parents about her baptism. I'M GOING TO BE A NERVOUS WRECK. haha-- 

So last year I studied one Christlike attribute every month and ended right in December. So preparing for the upcoming 3 months of my mission I didn't really know what to study... then God made it clear to me over and over and over again. FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY AND LOVE. It literally felt like he was pounding me over the head with it. haha So NOW I study those 3 things a lot. The other day I studied True To The Faith and read the definitions for those 3 attributes... it blew my mind! One of my favorite lines was, "... the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ is the single greatest act of Charity..." wow! For some reason I had never connected those 2 things... but ya! It's so obvious. I've also been writing in my journal every day one thing I learned or one experience I had that had to do with those 3 things. It's been pretty fun to see God teaching me.

3-My Amazing Companion-
Oh my... where to begin? Sister Meyers is one of the most humble people I've ever met. She just wants to do her best. She's also so obedient. Remember when I said she was like a stripling warrior? ya... go read those verses and you essentially know just what she's like. She also is so good at making me feel good about myself. She reminds me of the things I do well and encourages me when things get hard.

4-My testimony-
I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I testify that God loves all of His children. I testify that God's love is unconditional. I learned that lesson big time this week. I kept beating myself up about some things this week and I couldn't understand how God still loved me. I prayed about it and talked about it with Sister Meyers a lot. Then when I woke up the next morning I realized how and why God can love us no matter what. God is completely unselfish. He never thinks about himself and what's best for Him. He only wants to do what's best for us. 24/7, 365 days a year. That's what makes him happy. Serving others. 

And when we do that, it will make us happy too.  

I love you all so much! 

Gu Jiemei

This is Yang Agong! Is he not the cutest thing you've ever seen? He wandered into the chapel all by himself on Sunday and came to church! We were able to meet with him, teach him to pray, and get him on date for baptism! Woohoo!!!
My amazing Taiwanese roommate.
My daughter and granddaughter:)

My other daughter and granddaughter:)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Chinese New Year Part 2

Giving one of our lessons during Chinese New Year.
I'm holding the Cumbuca! (Monkey Trap)
Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

but more importantly...


Things that made this year's Chinese New Year great:
1. The Cumbuca- So Taiwanese people are wonderfully competitive, especially when you give them a challenge of intellect. So each time we would go over to someone's house and present the Cumbuca we would say that it was a game people would play in Brazil. We would then outline their challenge, they could only use one hand to get this fruit out of the Cumbuca. All 5 of their fingers and their palm had to touch the fruit. They kept trying to find ways around it or to cheat. haha. But nobody could get the fruit out of the Cumbuca. We would then explain that this task was impossible and we would read the first 2 paragraphs of the article from the Liahona. After that we would teach them how to "let go" of their "sins" using repentance. After that we taught that after we repent, Jesus Christ could give us the thing we most wanted, BLESSINGS! We would then open up the Cumbuca and show them that inside there were hongbao (red envelopes). Inside of our Hongbao we had a picture of the temple, a picture of us with a little note, and a referral card. We then invited everyone to think of one person in their lives who needed this repentance blessing. We'll be following up in the next week :)

Trying to get her hand out of the Cumbuca:)
Getting your hand out of the Cumbuca is just impossible!
2. Our investigators- Living in Yonghe is really nice because there were actually quite a few of our investigators in town! I was very surprised because we're up in Taipei, but we were able to meet with a lot of people! Also, the biggest miracle of all... THIS WEEK WE HAD 7 INVESTIGATORS AT CHURCH. It was a Guonian Miracle! :) haha. We really saw the Lord's hand in guiding us to the prepared this week and many people kept their commitment of coming to church! It was glorious! We also had a couple people just walk into the church looking for peace!! WOW! 

3. Finding- We were actually able to find A LOT of new investigators this week as well! It's nice living in the most populated place in Taiwan ;) But I think once again, this week we were able to see the miracle of former investigators. God is ALWAYS preparing his children to hear the gospel and if they don't fully accept the gospel the firs time around, He will give them another shot. One of our investigators at church was a Huang Jiemei. I had never seen her before yesterday but had her record in our area book so we called her and set up! She is amazing and wanted to know about all of the activities and everything. 
This is a candid shot of one of our favorite New Investigators May. Her son is actually a less-active member in a neighboring ward and she LOVES to come to English Class. She insisted on feeding us during Guonian, and up until this point we had never really gotten a chance to teach her the gospel, so we decided now was the time. We shared about the Restoration and she was very quiet through the whole thing. No questions, no concerns... and so I wasn't really sure if she was understanding it... then at the end she quoted back in her own words almost the entire lesson. GOD LOVES HIS KIDS.

Also... May is 84 years old.
Add caption

I had a very difficult experience this week that taught me A LOT, for example:
1. I learned how much my mission truly means to me. 
2. I learned that the gift of tongues is real and that it also includes God sometimes taking away my ability
    to say everything I wantto say, but He insures that I say what I need to say.
3. I learned to love those around me.
4. I was reminded of the importance and power of fasting.
5. I was also taught more about my love for the Taiwanese people.

This week we worked with a Sister companionship that was struggling a lot. They even wanted to go home. It was hard for me to see someone in such a dark place and it caused me to ponder on a lot of different things. But I want to share my own testimony that God is real. The Atonement is real and it works. I testify that as we have faith in and rely on Jesus Christ, it will work out. No it won't work out immediately, but it WILL work out. Our job is to not give up. 

We met with one of my all-time favorite members yesterday and she shared a story from when she was struggling in her own mission. She said her mission president pulled her aside to interview her and she just broke down and said she wanted to go home. Her Mission President looked at her and said, "Sister, I will let you have any companion you want. You can choose wherever you want to go... just don't give up." Wow. That story really impacted me as I thought about the eternal truth. Heavenly Father tells us this all the time, "JUST DON'T GIVE UP". He knows things are going to be hard, and he has prepared for that! If we just don't give up, if we just rely on Jesus Christ, things will work out. I promise. 

Mom asked how I am feeling with just a month left on my mission.  I feel at peace. I feel like God has had a hand in everything that's happened so far, and He's not going to abandon me now. He was there for me in Georgia waiting for my Visa and I had to take over my area after 2 weeks, He was there for me in Zhubei learning Chinese and Taiwanese culture, He was there for me when my area got collapsed and we were over 2 wards, He was there for me when I left for Taidong, He was there for me when I trained Sister Johnson, He was there for me in the heat of the summer, He was there for me when I came up to Taipei for the first time with Sister Fenlaw, He was there for me when I first learned how to be a Sister Training Leader, He was there for me when we wanted to give up on Lin Dixiong. 

I don't believe God's going to leave me hanging. I just have to not give up :)

There's all kinds of emotions with the coming change, but I'm thankful. I can feel that God prepared me my whole life for my mission, and on my mission he's prepared me for my whole life after. 

I love this work and I'm thankful to be here :)

I love you all!

Gu Jiemei
Off on an adventure:) Taking a perfectly safe bike selfie!!!
Picture at sunset with our cute roommates!
I thought Mom would appreciate a picture of me playing the piano!!
Zone Meeting!!! We call ourselves the Wild West Zone:)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chinese New Year!!!

Chinese New Year fun with this cute Nie nie!
So I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but shortly after Lin Jun Nan was baptized he went back into the hospital. It's pretty far from where we live, but we had the blessing of going to visit him this week after MLC in Taipei.

His body is doing a lot better than the last time we saw him! And his Spirits are up significantly. He even got up and walked around with us for a little bit! Then I jokingly asked him if he could dance for us too, he then proceeded to do a little cha cha cha. :) We're so thankful for all that he has taught us.
Two of my biggest blessings, Sister Meyers & the temple!!!
Dear Family & Friends,
A few things from this last week:

1- The earthquake:
Mom asked if I woke up during the earthquake. NOPE. My companion did though! The only thing I actually woke up from that night was my roommate going to the bathroom. Right after that I quickly fell back asleep. haha #TOOTIRED. It has been really cool though to see the Taiwanese people join together in prayer for these people. There were a lot of testimonies on Sunday that talked about this disaster and God's plan. I think it's been very uniting.

2- CHINESE NEW YEAR (Guonian) has arrived:
Here is a little bit of info about Chinese New Year. The celebrations go on for about 10 days. Pretty much everything closes down as people go to visit family.  7/11, Family Mart and McDonald's are open! haha. But other than that, nothing's really open. We got a lot of dumplings and cakes given to us though so we should last until the end of the week :) We've also got people feeding us every single day. There are some fireworks, but they're not as fun in a place like Yonghe because you can't see anything with so many buildings. I also think other than firecrackers there's not much that's legal here. On specific days during Chinese New Year, there are different kinds of traditions. Yesterday there were actually quite a few people still in Yonghe, but today there won't be as many because of the tradition to go back to your Mother's family's house. As missionaries we visit with members and their friends and share a message with them. The tradition is to hand out red envelopes filled with little toys, candy, or money. We give out red envelopes with a little gospel message and our pictures:) Since this year is the year of the monkey we will share a message using a "Monkey Trap" as an object lesson! I'll let you know how that goes next week:)haha.

Yay! So here's a picture of our very first Guonian qingke. It was FILLED with non-members and we were able to give every one of them a hongbao with our Guonian picture and a referral card where they could write their information and meet missionaries. It was so much fun to be surrounded by that family feeling again. It really was just like Christmas. 
3- Mission Leadership Conference:
I love MLC. I always leave feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but I think it's such a big blessing to see what exactly the Lord wants us to do. There's a lot of revelation happening. I also think it's interesting to see how MLC has evolved since I've been an STL. It's really changed from trainings, to discussions. President is very very open and wants to help us as much as he can. He's also one of those people who always answers your question with a question. He's the best :)
Mission Leadership Conference
4- Most important lesson I learned this week:
The most important lesson I learned this week... Wow. This has been quite a week. I think I've learned a lot about enduring to the end. Trials and challenges will inevitably come, but I know that prayer helps. I really gained a testimony of that just this morning! This past week was one of the hardest of my mission. I had forgotten to rely on the Lord. I had forgotten that this is HIS work. I felt that all of my weaknesses went on a rampage and I couldn't escape. Then my companion asked me a very inspired question,"Are you allowing your weaknesses to make you humble or proud?" She nailed me. I had been so proud and not turning to the Lord during my hour of need. I needed to trust and really rely on him. So I repented! And I prayed. I REALLY prayed. And guess what? Nothing's changed. I'm still me, I still have all my weaknesses, our investigators are still struggling, our area's the same, but all of a sudden I  feel filled with hope. It's all about prayer. I love this work and I love my Savior. I testify that the Spirit truly is the comforter. He is there for us when we need him. 

I love you all and I am so thankful for your support and prayers!!
Gu Jiemei
Our hats that turn into scarves:)
Our MM Leader and his wife keep giving us gifts! This week it was the fancy hats! they also double as scarves! Have I worn it every day? ... Maybe.
Fancy hat from the side. Something interesting about Sister Giles, when planning in the winter, I always feel like I have to have something on my head. You can ask any of my winter-time companions haha. Whether it's a scarf, a hood, or a hat, I just have to have something there.

Oh how I love exchanges. This week I got to go out with Sister Tiffany Good. It was so much fun and I was really inspired by her energy during finding. She's also really good at connecting with people by just being who she is. I loved it and I learned so much :)