Monday, February 23, 2015

My New Favorite Holiday "Guonian" (Chinese New Year)

Our dragon:) 
Making our dragon!  Thanks to Jimmy Wu for his help:)
Dear Family and Friends,

WHAT A WEEK! I've decided that Guonian is my new favorite holiday. No doubt about it. It's a beautiful mix of so many different things... memorial day (remembering our ancesstors), the fourth of july (ENDLESS fireworks), Christmas (lots of gift giving), Thanksgiving (eating WAY too much food), Hannakuh (religiously celebrating different days), and I'm sure there are probably more I could weave in. But the best part of Guonian is, without a doubt, seeing all of these families together. It's traditional for people in China to return to their home towns to celebrate with all their siblings and parents. So Zhubei has become kind of a ghost town. haha But we've also seen many miracles because of Guonian! For example... MA JIATING! We went on exchanges with the STL this week and we got qingke (invited over to eat) at a member's house. I didn't really know how to get there without Wu Jiemei, but by a miracle we made it! But because it took us a while, we didn't have much time afterwards. We had 10 minutes before our next lesson. So Mu Jiemei and I prayed that we would be able to find a family, and decided to knock for this short time. We knocked several doors and no one was home or they were completely uninterested. Then we saw a light a few houses down. We decided to go towards it and through the window we saw about 6 people all sitting and laughing. It was like a video. What's more, they let us in and allowed us to pray. And said we could come back. And they all took tracts. It was so good. Also, their name Ma means horse. I just think that's the coolest. haha. 
Dinner with the Zheng Family
This gospel really is all about families. We have also been able to visit soooo many members this week. It's been glorious! We've had 2-3 qingke's every day of Guonian. A lot of them have been inviting their friend's and families to meet us and hear us share. Our spiritual share has been different every time. haha But, the basic gist of it is this...

BEGINNING- We knock on the door and come inside wearing the dragon head, we bang pots and pans and yell happy new year. Then Luo ZL (Who is our dragon head) gives everyone Hongbao (red envelopes) through our dragons mouth. It looks like a tongue and is actually pretty cool! Then we pray and begin. Inside the hongbao there is a bookmark with a picture of Jesus Christ and on the back there is the scriptural reference Matthew 18:12-14. Then we share about saving the lost lambs and what we can do to help. Also in the hongbao is a referral card. We then give our members some time to write their referral cards and ya! Sometimes we sing, sometimes we tell different stories... but basically ya that's how it goes :)
It has been soooo much fun to meet so many members and really get to know them better. Guonian brings out the best in everyone just like Christmas does in the United States :) 

Having fun with the Jenks Family
Well it's been pretty quiet around here, except for the fireworks. There are fireworks ALL the time. I'm really starting to associate the smell of smoke with Guonian/happiness. It's awesome :) I'm sending you a Guonian/Christmas package this week or next and inside it has some cool Guonian decorations. It's very common to see red banners around everyone's doors. They say different things about money, or luck, or success in business, or family peace. It's also common to see a lot of people at the temples that are scattered throughout the countryside. I'm planning on getting a picture this week to show you next week. Guonian is an official 1 week celebration as far as I understand. But everyone has pretty much the whole month off.

Wu JM got to skype her family! They are adorable. It made me think so much about all of you at home and got me excited for Mother's day :) haha.
We have chubby "Guonian" cheeks:)
So this next week is pretty huge. It's transfer week and it's my last week of training. It's looking like Wu Jiemei is probably going to be leaving Zhubei. We're not sure yet, but she's been here a long time and it's very likely. We were talking the other day and realized that she has been in Zhubei for 1/3 of her time as a member of the church :) haha It's like her second ward! She's going to be really sad to be leaving, but I think she's ready for a change. I, on the other hand... will have to take over this area now. PRAY FOR ME. haha :) I'm very blessed to have an incredibly supportive ward family that loves us missionaries and is willing to help us. It's going to be a pretty crazy ride and I can't wait to see what the future holds. 

Thank you for all of the support, prayers, letters, and love.


Gu Jiemei :) 

P.S. One last miracle! WE MET CHO DX'S FAMILY! :) It was basically the greatest day ever. It was a spontaneous miracle meeting but we met his mom dad and little brother! THey prayed with us and told us they had really seen a change in Cho DX since he joined the church. We reminded him as we were leaving that he now has the priesthood and can baptize them :) :) 

 A little "Kung Fu Panda" at the beach!!!
Trees are blossoming outside the chapel! So beautiful!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Getting Ready for Chinese New Year (Guonian)

Just a little picture of a busy intersection in Zhubei:)
Preparing some fun things for Guonian (Chinese New Year)
I love my companion:) She's the best!!!
She made me heart pancakes for breakfast:)

Dear Family & Friends,

So we just ate lunch and I keep finding rice all over me.... haha :) taiwanmissionaryprobs

你好家人! 我愛你們 :) 這個月是我第六個月:) 

That is about all the Chinese I can do :) haha I've recently learned how to work these computers and it's about the most fun thing I've ever done. I can't wait to really be able to write someday...:) haha Hopefully. 

This week has been really great. and crazy. In my journal I've started doing lists of the top 10 things that happen throughout the day. Here are some examples;

-I made french toast today! I've never made it before, but when I asked Wu Jiemei what she wanted to eat for breakfast she said, very dramatically, FRENCH TOAST. So I decided I would try it! It turned out pretty good. 

-I stole the ball from one of the Elders in our early-morning basketball game today

-I found a whole complex of people named Gu!! :)

Now... these things are really pretty small. But they're blessings no less :) I think this week I've really been able to find more joy in the small things. I have gained such a strong testimony that by small and simple things, the Lord will cause great things to come to pass. I know that I am a small and simple thing. 

In personal study today I was reading in 1 Corinthians 2;

 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
I have a testimony of what Paul is saying. I feel it very powerfully.I know that right now my language ability is not excellent. But I have a testimony. And even if that's all I can hang on to at this point, it's strong enough to carry me to the finish line. More importantly, it will carry others back home to their Heavenly Father or at least help them a little :)

This week was pretty rough as far as investigators go. Most of them are leaving for Guonian (Chinese New Year) and won't be back for a week or two. This is hard, but I have heard from many different missionaries that Guonian brings miracles. I trust them :) We'll be visiting with a lot of members this week and I'm really looking forward to our spiritual share! We've been planning it for a while now and putting the final details on it today :) We've been fasting to be able to get it all worked out and I have a testimony of fasting! Whoot whoot.

So I really did meet a whole family of Gu's this week! MY PEOPLE!!:) What's more, I ended up talking with this guy for like 15 minutes all by myself. I almost completely understood him. The gift of tongues is real my friends! It was so funny because it honestly felt like I had known this man for a long time. Our personalities just clicked. We laughed and talked and... it felt a lot like home :) He said he wasn't interested, but I definitely gave the elders his information so they can go find him. (He's in their area)

Here are a few picture from this week:

Train station, We were trying to get to a member's home and ended up at the wrong train station twice. It was quite the adventure, but once again I'm so thankful to have a native companion who can navigate and read the signs :) haha.
The beach. Dang... I just love the beach so much. I really get so filled with gratitude every time we go. This time we went and had some very traditional Taiwanese ice cream! (Wu Jiemei insisted) It was sherbet ice cream (kind of) and peanut powder with silantro. It sounds like the weirdest thing, but it was really so good!
This box is a part of 過年. IT's going to be cut and painted into a dragon head which we will then get inside of and use for our grand entrance for all of our member visits. We're pretty excited :) But it doesn't fit on our bikes, so for exercise one morning we got up, grabbed the box and walked it all the way to the church. Walking inside of the box actually was a lot safer so that's what I did for the most part...
Mom sent no-bake cookies and they made it and they were DELICIOUS!!!
I love you all so much. Thank you for the prayers and love. I can feel your support and love pushing me through the hard days :) THere's nothing like being on a mission. It is the hardest thing I've ever done, but I've never been more aware of my Heavenly Father. I learn more and more every day about my weaknesses, but I also learn more and more about how to overcome them. It's pretty miraculous. I stand all amazed. 


Gu Jiemei

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cool Things of this Week!

Our Filipino friend, Janeth, gave us these cool scarf/lava lava things:)
Our awesome zone. We love zone conference!
Our district and our cool bike helmets. I got a new one this week:) Made in Taiwan!!!!:) and of course it's BLUE!!!
Dear Family & Friends,

Here are a few cool things that happened this week:
1. FHE with Fan Jiating. On Monday I was missing my family quite a bit. I was thinking about them a lot and wanting to be with them. But God has a plan and he knew what I needed. That night we went to Fan Jiating's home (he's a member of the stake presidency) and had FHE. It was EXACTLY what we did all growing up. It was so perfect and just what I needed. I think that this gospel can't not be true. It's the same no matter where you go. No matter what language you speak, no matter if you're a convert or born into the church, no matter if you live in a mansion or a shack, everyone can live this gospel. EVERYONE!
FHE with Fan Jiating, family & friends
2. We ate in a department store 2 times this week :) We felt like princesses! Normally we eat in these little no-name noodle houses scattered throughout our area (which is probably one of my top 10 favorite things about Taiwan) and it was so weird to eat in a restaurant-style setting. They have Tepenyaki here! That was weird to see... haha :) The reason we ate there twice is because we were eating with some of the foreigners in our ward. They mostly live out of our area so we have to get special permission to leave. It's so amazing every time. Our ward is the literal fulfillment of 1 Nephi 22:25

"And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture."
Eating at the Department Store with Celina:)
3. When we were eating at this department store we met with Brother Fyde and Sister Jenks. We were all so excited and as we picked a place to eat in the food court, Sister Jenks pulled me aside and told me she was paying for me. I started to protest, but then she explained that she has a son on a mission and she knows how much it means to her when other people help him out there. I was so touched it brought tears to my eyes. God is aware of his children. No matter where we are. Whether it's the Provo MTC, Pleasant Grove Utah, Dunwoody Georgia, or Zhubei Taiwan. He knows.
Lunch with Br. Hyde & Sister Jenks
4. We've had really awesome studies lately. I have such a testimony of role plays! We had one of our most powerful role-plays ever this week. Wu JM was the investigator and I was the missionary. The purpose was to invite our investigator to baptism. The first time, i started with the invitation and then solved concerns and was very effective. I felt pretty good about it. But Wu JM stopped me and said she still had some concerns that I needed to find. So we did it again and I started from the most abstract point. It was so weird. We started talking about painting and praying. And about how God gives us revelation through many different mediums. Our investigator really loves to draw/paint. We then talked about how our investigator is scared that God wouldn't allow him to create. I testified that our purpose is to create. We are to become like God. We are his children. Wu JM began to cry. It was a very powerful spirit. I learned to really focus on 1. being myself 2. listening to the spirit/following my gut 3. really loving our investigator. I think I'll probably spend the rest of my mission working on these things, but I'm so thankful to have had such a big example of it this week :) 

Basically Taiwan is the promised land. Thank you so much for everything. I love this mission. I loves this work. It's a lot like doing spiritual push-ups all day everyday, and sometimes you feel like you're not moving forward at all. Then all of a sudden you'll have an experience or a moment of clarity and you can see how far you've actually come. I'm so thankful to have these moments and also every hard second leading up to them. The church is true.

All my love,

Gu Jiemei
Emailing from my red throne:)
My cute friend Cora! She's one of the YSA's here in the ward

Monday, February 2, 2015

Top 10 Things of this Week

These are called "fanguangdai". They keep us safe on our bikes :) This is also a perfect example of our companionship unity :) haha
I met my first Gu Jiemei!!!! :) She's also a Christian :)
Dear Family & Friends,

So this week was amazing and spiritually stretching.

Here is the biggest compliment of the week: 

"You don't really look like a foreigner... you look like a good mix." -Lin Jiemei

Top 10 things of the week:

1. This one was a pretty huge miracle. We've been teaching a Wang JM. She's from mainland China. She's pretty dang golden. We're super excited for her except for one thing... she'll be going back to mainland China for a month. We were worried because there just isn't a lot of church influence there and she still doesn't quite understand that we're not just A church of Jesus Christ, but we are THE church of Jesus Christ. On Sunday we met one of our member's friends... guess where she's from? Mainland China. Guess what she did? She came to our ward. Guess what else she did? She texted members from China. Guess what she gave us? The address, branch president's name, and branch president's phone number for the ward in China where Wang JM will be living.

2.  I was able to understand Wang JM enough to explain this to her on the phone. 

3. I have really been able to develop relationships this week with ward members. We have a lot of YSAs and I've been able to REALLY become friends with them! It's nice to be more than just Wu Jiemei's companion.

4. Wu Jiemie and I took a picture and I realized something very sad.... my companion is Taiwanese and her eyes are STILL bigger than mine! haha :)

Here we are in front of our chapel in Zhubei. It's so beautiful. Notice the soccer field right in front of it:) Isn't that lucky?!!!!
5. Ye Dixiong came to church! He only came for 1 hour, but it was still pretty dang exciting :)

6. I completely visited a member by myself. This was terrifying. We were at the church and Wu Jiemei had to talk to the clerk about some things during our meeting with this member and so she stepped off to the side and I had to completely lead this lesson. No other member present, just me. But guess what? It worked. You know how? The Spirit. It truly is amazing to me how much the Spirit will take over when we really are doing our best to love the people and do what the Savior wants us to do. 

7. I learned some Taiwanese games at FHE.

FHE with the members. I'm teaching them "Down on the Banks" :)
8. We got fed 3 times in 2 hours. I've never been so full on my mission. haha

9. Our new investigator Avon is sooo awesome! I'm super pumped for her. From the first time I met her we hit it off. Which is weird because a lot of Taiwanese are a bit more reserved with foreigners, but Avon and I just laughed and hugged and had a great time. I'm very excited to see where she goes on this journey.

10. I've been able to really reflect on my mission a lot. This time next year I will be in my last transfer coming home. This blows my mind. I can't believe how long I've been out. I still feel like I know nothing. haha But I know that the Lord is helping me. I can't physically see His hand. But i know He is here. 

I want you all to know how much I love you. This work is insane and stretching me so much, but the stretching is always followed by an increase of love. Our Savior is here. He knows us and loves us infinitely. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Gu Jiemei
Exercising with some ward members:)