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!

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