Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Beautiful Christmas in Taiwan!

The shuanghe Sisters going out on our P-day! :) We love Miaos! :) haha
Christmas MRT tree.( at the train station)
Sister Meyers and I at the Christmas Mission Conference:)
Some of my favorite people. The McCombers:) I want to be just like them when I grow up!!
We have a plethera of Polynesians in our mission so naturally there was a Hakka during the talent show. The best part? When they invited President up to participate with them :) 
We all went to the dedication site for Taiwan and President read through the dedicatory prayer. Then he gave us each a moment to go and re-dedicate ourselves to this work. I think this was the  beginning of a very humbling last few months for Sister Maddie Giles. 
Dear Family & Friends,

I'm so thankful for Christmas and all of the miracles I saw this year.

On Christmas Eve we shanged ke, then we went to carol, then on our way home while riding the MRT we read aloud the Christmas story from Luke. It was actually very tender :) Christmas day we woke up, opened presents, then basically just went out and chuaned jiao until our 7 course dinner catered by Yo Luo :) 

My mom asked me what things will stand out to me about Christmas on my mission. I think just being able to say that I represent Jesus Christ every day this year has been a big miracle. The biggest culmination of that was just being able to do it on the literal day for remembering Christ. I also remember praying right after I skyped with my family and I prayed and prayed and prayed for a really long time. Then I apologized in my prayer for praying so long and then Heavenly Father said to not worry about it and that he loved me. I learned this Christmas how patient God is with me. HE's WAY more patient with me than I am with myself. I love that. I'm so thankful. 

The church is true.

Another small miracle/cool thing that happened. We've been reading those Christmas stories you sent to us and I was thinking about a quote from one of them,

"the scars suffered for others make one most beautiful in the eyes of God."

As I was thinking about this quote I thought about us as missionaries. We're scarred and bumped and bruised all day every day and it's all for others.
Then I thought of our Savior. I thought of His scars and His wounds. Then this quote took on a whole new meaning. 
Everything Jesus did was for you. And for me. For all of us. Let's not take that for granted this Christmas.

Much love!

Gu Jiemei

Our investigator Wu Dixiong who came to church on Sunday!!!He is so awesome:) and one of our awesome members Hong Jiemei.
On Christmas eve we got to go to Christmastown (AKA Banqiao) and carol at the train station. It was an absolute blast and so much fun to be there as a missionary. 
I definitely kept up the family tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve!!

After our Skype, our Bishop's wife made us hot cocoa and guava and little cracker things :) True Taiwanese love.
The baptism of Liao Dixiong
Sometimes you just want to build a snowman:)
On Christmas day we got to go visit the Chinese version of "The Office"! haha 
This is a sweet RC named Virginia. She's been baptized for about 4 months and she's a rockstar. She made sure that we missionaries had plenty of time to give everyone tracts at the party and to sing and share the gospel. She's the cutest. God is working miracles here :) 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas From Taiwan!!!

So we were all invited to a dinner together but our member was running late and then the restaurant wasn't open yet. So the Elder's grabbed their Christmas lights from their bike boxes, and us Sisters got all wrapped up and went and Christmas caroled while we English Boarded. Joy to the world! 
So this last week I was finally able to put my years of dance training to good use. 
For our English party we had each class perform a little number and since Sister Wood and I are teaching the little kids we naturally had to perform Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We had lots of actions and it was so much fun. 

Dear family and friends,

Merry Christmas.

It's a really special time of year and I'm so thankful to be here. I've been really struck lately by the fact that I literally get to represent Jesus Christ all day every day. In fact, that's how I introduce myself. 

"My name is Sister Gu and I'm a representative of Jesus Christ."

I testify that we have a Living Savior. I testify that He loves you and me and every person here. I know that as we serve, we will feel God's love for His children. I know that God wants to help us if we rely on Him. I know Christmas is special because of Him. 

I know Joseph Smith is God's prophet. I know Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet. I know that we are God's kids.

Thank you everyone.

I love you and so does Jesus Christ. 

Gu Jiemei

A fine picture of the Shuanghe District. Doing well and representing with safety first!
It was a week of sweet reunions as I got to see Rou Rou and Emerald from Xinan!:) So excited for the Spirit world. I imagine it will be full of reunions just like this! :) haha Lots of running and screaming and crying :)

Another surprise reunion this week was with my own sweet trainer.

It was my first time singing the Solo in the song "Breath of Heaven" since Sister Wood had left and I was super nervous. I had noticed a Taiwanese woman walk in towards the back of the congregation early on in the program but I didn't recognize her at all. Then after the performance, there was a young Taiwanese woman who came up and gave me a weird looking pastry with my name on it. I thanked the kind stranger for the gift, but still had no idea who she was. Then I stared at her for a long time and moved her surgical mask (that's what you wear in Taiwan even if you have a slight cold), then I cried. I hugged her and cried and cried and cried. I had thought about Wu Jiemei every day that week and I really needed to see her. It was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father and I'm so thankful that he knows me so well.

A year ago when Sister Wu and I were together for Valentine's day I told her she should make heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast! So she spent about half an hour in the kitchen diligently working to get something that looked presentable. This time around she said it took her a full hour... and this is what it turned out as. haha. She's the best!!!
Merry Christmas! :) These Christmas sweaters are brought to you by Taipei Main Station. I miss sweet Sister Wood so much but am so grateful for all she taught me:)

This is my new companion Sister Mackenzie Meyers. She is a rock star and I am so grateful I get to work with her!!!
One of my babies, Sister Johnson, is training now and here is our first three Generation picture:)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"There is Always Someone at the Door"

As we were preparing this Saturday for the baptism, I realized that this was the first time I had been in a font like this since my own baptism. 

Dear Family & Friends,

So this week was filled with a pretty big trial. Our sweet Lin Dixiong has disappeared. 

Last Sunday he showed up to partake of the sacrament and it was a huge miracle. We had been worried because he'd been so tired lately, but he made the effort to come and keep the commandments. Then on Monday we were able to talk to him on the phone. From then until now we haven't heard from him once. We've called him, been to his house, called his home phone, and no answer no response. We told our members that we hadn't heard from him and they felt we should still hold the baptismal service just in case he showed. Then if he didn't we would just have a meal all together.

So Saturday morning we woke up and got everything ready for the baptism. And then we waited. And we waited. And we waited. But he never showed up. Every scooter, every car, every taxi could've been him. But they weren't. And so Sister Wood and I stood there. Waiting and Waiting and waiting. Praying and praying and praying. Hoping and hoping and hoping. But even all of our faith couldn't take away his agency. 

This taught me a very important lesson. There's always someone at the door. I think some of us believe that our choices do not effect others. But I am here to testify that everyone you care about is effected by your choices. Whether that choice is good or bad. Now I'm not saying I understand the reason for every choice and I can't judge anyone else's choices, but my point is that when we fall away or when we leave there is always someone there. There is always someone hoping that we return. Whether that's a parent, or a sibling, or a bishop, or a visiting teacher, or a home teacher, or a friend, or a classmate, or a teacher, or even someone we've just met. There will always be someone at the door. Praying, waiting, hoping, watching. 
In this church we are never alone.

And on this earth we are never alone because of our Savior and his Atonement.

He is waiting there. Right by the door. When you don't want to go in, don't worry, you never have to sit by yourself. The Savior is there. The Spirit is there. And he WILL comfort you when you're afraid or apprehensive or unsure.

 I promise as a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ that HE is waiting for YOU. 

So do whatever it takes to get you inside that door. The temple door. The church door. Or even your home's door. Go there and pray. The Savior will bring you the rest of the way.

I know the church is true. I know God loves his kids. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior. I'm thankful to get to know him better here in the beautiful promised land. 

I love you all

Gu Jiemei

We've been doing the 12 days of Christmas :) Everyone loves the Christmas stories. We gather around the couch and I read them aloud and everyone ooh's and aaah's and we cry sometimes :) MERRY CHRISTMAS!
We like to get our parents involved in the Christmas festivities at English Class. Our little kids will be performing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer with actions this week! Pictures coming soon :) haha 

This is the view out of our window in Yonghe. Buildings buildings buildings!
This is a fine example of when members and missionaries work together. 
This week Sister Zhang came out with us to visit an investigator who hadn't been answering his phone. We sat there knocking on his door and calling him for about 10 minutes, but we couldn't quite get to the inside door because of the large screen on the outside. So our member disappeared for a minute and came back with this large staff and then proceeded to pound on the door. Yep. We're determined here in Yonghe! :) 
This is Sherry berry. or Sher bear as the Elders now call her (they all have small crushes on her)
She is our Christmas miracle. We met her about 3 weeks ago and have finally started earnestly shanging ke with her. She wants to be baptized on Christmas and everything is looking like it will turn out that way! In fact when she introduces herself to people she says, "Hello! I'm sherry and I'm getting baptized on Christmas." haha. We love her. She is so full of faith and she's getting all of this down. Keep her in your prayers. 
The cutest Asian baby you will ever see. She belongs do the Ding jiating. Mom's a member and Dad's not... yet :) hehehe
This was the text we got from our miracle investigator named Kevin after he attended the first 2 hours of church on Sunday. Sister Wood and I just cried. haha. We've been very emotional lately... :)
Merry exchanges!! I was with Sweet Sister Everett and it was just the best. We bonded about our time together in Central Zone and we sang songs and I really just got to see one of our best missionaries hit the streets. Awww ya. :) 
I only have a few days left with Sister Wood. She is amazing!!! I have learned so much from her:)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Missionary Christmas Choir and So Much More!

This is a classic Taiwanese picture:)
Exchanges with the lovely Tucheng sisters
I love my companion!!! Sister Wood is amazing and I am learning so much from her.

Dear Family and Friends,

The church is true!!!:)

Here are a few of our adventures this week:

1- Missionary Christmas Choir-  Mom asked about our missionary christmas choir. We are going all over Taipei actually! haha. So most of our weekend evenings are booked with performances. We've seen a lot of miracles from finding people to teach on the MRT on our way to practices:) 

Missionary Christmas Choir practice
2- Zone Conference-  Zone Conference was SOOO much fun. haha I just realized (again) that I like performing. And what's more fun than bearing testimony? Not much! Sister Wood and I finished our second Zone Conference of the day and we just were talking about how good we felt. So light and so clean! And I realized that it was because we had been bearing testimony of the Savior all day long and so our sins had been forgiven us! yay! haha :) We focused a lot on Believing and faith. We actually did a really cool silent activity and it brought the Spirit. (We naturally used the Christmas lights too) We had some questions written down on pieces of paper and then a picture from Christ's life and then we just walked them around the room so everyone could see and we had music in the background. It was very fun. I think it was a training I needed to give because I needed to internalize that part of faith. We need to BELIEVE!
Zone Conference
3-Li Dixiong our awesome investigator--LIN DIXIONG IS AWESOME! So on Saturday (or maybe Friday... I forget) I called him to see if we could come and give him the sacrament at his house (he's been very very weak and we can't even go visit him). He said no. I was shocked! Then as we continued to talk he explained that he really didn't want to inconvenience people to come and give him the sacrament. I told him it wouldn't inconvenience us (like 100 times) but he just wouldn't listen. So then finally (and honestly I should've started with this) I bore my testimony and told him that I knew God had commanded us to partake of the sacrament every week and that it wouldn't inconvenience us to help him fulfill a commitment to God. Then he was quiet for a long time and said that he would come to church by himself. And he came! He looked so incredibly tired, but he came. I know God was so proud of him. And so were we :) His baptism will be this Saturday.

4- Mom asked me to tell about one thing I've learned being a Sister Training Leader-- Oh gosh... I think the biggest thing I've learned is that it's more difficult than I imagined. haha I feel like I have to be on my guard 24/7 because we're always being watched. It's good! But it means i'm a lot more self-conscious of all my weaknesses. Sister Wood and I were actually talking just this morning about how we feel like this transfer has made us both feel very exposed to all of our weaknesses and flaws. But one of the biggest things I've learned on my mission is that it's ok to be imperfect. I finally admitted to myself a couple months ago that I am a perfectionist. I never believed that about myself. But now I know. And now I have to fix it. haha. I'm so thankful for the Atonement and that I can change and improve every day. I'm so thankful that I can repent when I fall short. I'm so thankful for forgiving people all around me who are willing to see me through Heavenly Father's eyes.

5-One last miracle this week:   When I was on exchanges about a week ago Sister Kitchens and I decided that we were going to go and find an investigator right before we did our exchange evaluation. We prayed and felt the Spirit with us. Then a small girl stepped out of our apartment complex. We found out her name was Sherry. She's 10 years old but talks like she's 30. We didn't get to have a lesson with her, but we got her number. It was kind of a funny contact and I didn't really understand why the Lord lead us there... but now I know :) Sherry is now on date for baptism on Christmas. Her parents have given their permission and she's already come to church. She's met at least 5 of our member mamas and they all love her. She's coming to English class and knows most of the missionaries. She joined our ward's choir and helped to put up the Christmas tree. She might be the best Christmas present I've ever gotten :) 

I love you all!!!

Gu Jiemei
Sister Wood and I have spent so much time here this week at meetings etc that we thought we should take a picture in front of the temple:)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Meeting One of the Newest Apostles:)

I was given a sword this week by a man whose door we knocked into. #iloveasia
(Mom Note: Thanksgiving morning about 4:30am I received this picture from Sister Branch who is back in Taiwan visiting. She said Maddie is doing great!!!)
Dear Family and Friends,

IT'S BEEN THE CRAZIEST WEEK OF MY WHOLE LIFE. I've never been busier. Ever.

Monday- Practice for the Missionary Christmas Choir. So a tradition that our mission has is that every year the missionaries in Taipei put on a Christmas program! Then we travel around to different places and perform and bring the Christmas spirit. It's sooo much fun. Since we don't have a TON of people, they needed volunteers for soloists... I got volunteered and I took one for the team. Little did I know...

Part of our fabulous missionary choir:)
Tuesday- WE HAD AN APOSTLE COME! This was significant for many reasons, but the funny part... guess what song we sang for him when he came? The song with my solo. So I've now sang solo in front of our entire mission and an Apostle. It was terrifying the day before and I was, as you can imagine, a bit stressed. But as the meeting began I started to feel so grateful for this chance that I got to share my testimony through song with Elder Stevenson and our entire mission. It ended up being a great experience and I'm very thankful :) 

So here's another funny story about your daughter. So it's no small secret that my favorite Apostle is Boyd K. Packer. I just love the man and everything he says. And it's also not a secret that my favorite talk is "Your Four Minutes" by Gary Stevenson. So when President Packer passed away I was, of course, very sad and I still cry a little every time he gets quoted in meetings (which is every meeting) but you know what? I know God loves me because He sent the author of my favorite talk to take the place of my favorite Apostle in the quorum of the twelve. :) 

So when I saw Elder Stevenson, I was just very tender. And I started to cry. Also, it's a pretty well-known fact that I am a compound cryer. I don't cry for weeks and months and then all of a sudden I cry one time for all of the times that I needed to cry earlier. So I was very very emotional and uncontrollably crying when I saw the Apostle. Then they announced that we were all going to shake his hand! I was watching him interact with all the missionaries before me and just getting more and more touched. When the line came to me and it was my turn to shake his hand I couldn't even form words. I just squeaked out, "I'm sorry. I can't talk." Elder Stevenson very understandingly, looked at my nametag and said, "Sister Giles, it's so nice to see you." Then he kind of side-hugged me and I went to talk to his wife. She then said, "That's how I felt the first time I hugged him too." hahaha. It makes me laugh every time I think about it, but those feelings were so real. I knew that He was a servant of God. I knew that he was to represent the Savior in this meeting. I was just so thankful!

Wednesday-Exchanges with Sister Kho! I love Jade. :) Our biggest problem when we were together was that we kept using our first names:) haha. We also had our largest English Class ever. By the time it ended we had 31 people in that little room. It was very stressful, but the kids were all surprisingly well behaved!
I love sweet Sister Jade Kho!!! She will do amazing things here in Taiwan:) (Mom Note: She is one of Maddie friends from high school. Now they are serving in the same mission)
Our very large English class:)
Thursday- Thanksgiving! By a funny set of circumstances we had 2 Thanksgiving dinners! It was a blast :) 

Friday-MLC. Wow. wow. wow WOW! I love missionaries. I learned so many things this week in all of our meetings but I think my favorite things have been about trusting the Lord. It was so funny as we sat in MLC Sister Wood and I just kept making faces at each other because literally everything that we discussed in companionship study was what got discussed in MLC. And we didn't even tell anybody! THE SPIRIT IS SO GOOD!

Sister Wood and I looking over the temple:)
Saturday- We had another exchange and Stake Conference! Do you all remember the General Authority who spoke in Cantonese in General Conference? Well I've now met him twice in Taiwan! He's absolutely hysterical and so very bold. He starts a lot of comments with, "Now, I don't want to offend you too much..." then he just directly says what God needs him to say. He's amazing!!! He's changed my life. It was interesting to me that he talked about how in Taiwan he can talk about a kind of "higher law" of being a member because the church is so available to everyone. He said that in Cambodia and India they're still working on getting members to come to church consistently. It was just interesting to think of all the blessings we take for granted here. Then I thought about all the blessings I took for granted in Utah and I repented a lot. haha

Sunday- We had more Stake Conference. I testify that God's servants really are his servants. They speak the truth. They have God's power and authority and we need to pay attention to what they say and the counsel they give. 

I testify that the church is true and God loves his kids. 



Gu Jiemei

I got to see both of my girls at the meeting with Elder Stevenson this week. SO BLESSED.
Here's a picture of the bravest thing I did this week. Meet Cheddar our roommate!!!

Here is a poem written by my roommate, Sister Alexis Farr:
Twas the night before P-Day and all through the house
not a creature was stirring except Cheddar... the mouse
Temple pictures were hung on the walls with great care
in hopes that our RC soon would go there
The Sisters were nestled all snug in their beds
with visions of investigators dancing in their heads
Sister Juarez in her blankets, and I in my cap
We'd just settled down for a long winter's nap
When under her bed there arose such a clatter
Sister Juarez sprang from her bed to see what was the matter
Reaching she flipped on the lights just like that
For we had been aware that our house... had a rat...
When what to her wandering eyes did appear
But two beady eyes... that struck her with fear

My poem... is to be continued later.... in life... but there is a little sneak peak.