Monday, March 30, 2015

"8 Companions This Week & Square Dancing"

Me with the temple sisters on our way to the airport:) Pres. said that I am the first sister to get transferred by flight:)
Hanging out with Sister Tan & Sister Knight at Taroko National Park!
Dear Family and Friends,

The craziness doesn't stop. haha

Monday- I got the call from President Day, packed up my things, said goodbye to a few people, and then I got picked up and driven back to Taipei with President and Sister Day. President Day told me that he would be putting me in the Taidong 3rd branch. But more importantly, he was putting me in a room with 4 other sisters. They have 2 new sisters who were visa waiters (who I was in the MTC with) and both are being trained by Taiwanese companions. President Day asked me, "Does that sound familiar?" I laughed at the time, but it's been scary how similar things are between this companionship and the time I spent in Zhubei with Wu JM :) haha Then I spent that night with the temple sisters, who are wonderful.

I love President and Sister Day!!!
Tuesday- We flew to Taidong. President Day said I'm the first Sister Missionary in our mission to get transferred by flight. haha I FLEW!! It was absolutely amazing. As we were taking off, I was thinking about how cool the world is as we looked at all the buildings and parks and lakes and things, then we hit the clouds. It was really hazy at first, but then we rose up above the clouds and I was overcome with the spirit. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. It sounds super cheesy and geeky but it was like we were in a different world. The cloud formations and colors and lighting and just everything was so beautiful. I was so overcome with gratitude for the Lord and the things that he is allowing me to experience here in Taiwan. That day we had specialized Zone Training (which I had just barely had in Xinzhu). It was so interesting to see how the training was different for the different zones. President Day is SOOO spiritually in tune. 

Sister Oviatt and Mao Jiemei after a little bike accident:(
Eating at the Bishop's house
Wednesday- We had our awesome District Meeting. This zone is really invested in becoming a stake. We're going to make it happen. I feel bad because I'm just getting here towards the end of it, but we're not done yet :) This night, we split up and I got to work with Sister Oviatt who was actually in the MTC with me! She's training with Mao Jiemei right now and it was really good practice for me to go out with a trainee. I realized that I have developed a strange habit... I TALK TO MUCH! I've never had that problem on my mission until now. I've always been the more quiet one. It's a weird thing that I'll have to confront. haha Sister Oviatt also waited for her visa in Georgia! What do you know? :)

Thursday- We went to my new apartment! Well technically it's the old one but no one has been living there for a while. I actually remember Wu JM telling me lots about it. It's cool to be here :)

Friday- We split up and I got to work with a Jiang JM. She is an RC (recent convert) and she is a rockstar. I absolutely loved it. I was with her for most of the day and then I got to eat dinner with her and her mom. Her mom is not a member and mostly speaks Taiyu, but for some reason I just clicked with her. We were laughing and joking and it just having a lovely time. At dinner I felt impressed that I needed to sing for them. I've never just sung solo before so it was kind of weird, but the Spirit was there very strongly and I testified of it's power. I sang I Stand All Amazed. Then on Sunday, Jiang JM started telling everyone about our visit and that I am the only missionary her mother has ever liked! It was a miracle and I think we're going to open up her mom's heart this transfer :)
I had a wonderful day with Jiang JM and her mom:)
Saturday- We had a baptism! haha YAY! It's a high school student that Mao Jiemei has been teaching for a while. He's really awesome. He's the first Taiwanese guy I've ever met that smiled for a picture. They all do this weird "I'm too serious" or "I'm too cool" face. He's awesome  :) Then we had a District (soon to be stake) wide Relief Society Activity. Every branch did a little skit and guess what Taidong 3rd branch did? THEY SQUARE DANCED! Can there be a more fitting place for me to be?! I think not! Someone even sewed them aprons and bonnets and such. 
My new little branch, Taidong 3rd, square dancing! Aren't they darling!!!
Our District (soon to be Stake) Relief Society
Sunday- So I knew that I would be sharing my testimony on Sunday because I just got here and I was really nervous. I know how important first impressions are to the Taiwanese people and I really wanted to have a good one. I prayed that the Lord would lead me in my testimony and I felt that I needed to share the scripture about "small and simple things". I testified that I know that I am a very small and simple thing, but I know that as I humble myself and as we all humble ourselves we can accomplish great things. After testimony meeting I had 3 or 4 different members come up and tell me that they really appreciated what I had shared with them. President Hou (Our branch president) especially made a point to tell me that my testimony was awesome. The funny part of this story is that I took my cheater language study Book of Mormon on the stand with me and read the pinyin, but a bunch of the Relief Society thought I was reading characters... hahaha They thought I was super cool ;) 

I love being here in Taidong!  I miss the wonderful people of Zhubei, but as I've learned over and over again, I am exactly where God needs me right now. The Spirit has testified and I can't deny it.   

I love you all!!!
Gu Jiemei

The famous Beninan Baozi!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Transferred to Taidong & TRAINING!

Beautiful Zhubei:)
Early Sunday morning selfie:)
Well, it's been a really really really really really really crazy morning full of emotions. 

This morning we received a call from President Day during our Language Study. He said he wanted to talk to me. He said he had good news and bad news. I was really nervous. REALLY nervous. Honestly I don't remember much else of the conversation, but this is what the result was, 

I AM MOVING TO TAIDONG. This is the most south-eastern part of the mission. I'll be flying there tomorrow with President and Sister Day. I'll be there for 2 weeks and then I'll start training a new missionary. 

Am I in shock? 100%. But ever since I got my call, my motto has been 

"If the Lord called me to do it, I could do it..."

He called me to speak Chinese and I'm doing it. He called me to serve in Georgia and I did it. He called me to serve in Zhubei and I've loved ever second of it. If he is calling me to go to Taidong tomorrow and serve and train... then I can do it. Dang... I'm going to miss Zhubei so much. It has really become a part of me. I've really unpacked my bags and my heart here and now I've got to pick everything up and leave. I've been working so hard on loving our investigators and our ward and our leaders and all of these things. It's going to be really hard. But I believe. And I've got to trust. 

Love these people!
Always so willing to help us!
 Also heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall send, and who will go for us? Then said: Here am I; send me.

During language study a few weeks ago, I was reading in 2 Nephi when I came across chapter 16:8. I have a necklace from one of my good friends that has a little bike on it and it says Here I am, send me. I love that necklace and I love that phrase. What's even better is when I read it in pinyin the other day. That last phrase, Here am I; send me. in Chinese has one little word had added to it. It's the word for please. So the translation would be Here am I; please send me. This is a really small thing, but it has a lot of meaning for me. 

We all said that before we came here. "Heavenly Father, please send me". Let's not forget that. We chose to come. We wanted to come. We asked our Heavenly Father to send us here. He loves us and he allowed us to come here to learn and grow. 

I've learned so much about making mistakes on my mission that I feel like I'm a professional by now :) haha But the Lord is allowing us to be humbled. He's allowing us to become more like His Son and our Savior.

I love this work. It's been a crazy ride, but I love ever second of it. I can't wait to see what else the future holds. I'm always thankful for the love and support of all of you. You've changed my life. All my love,

Gu Jiemei


New backpacks! and my first outfit bought in Taiwan!

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Little Soccer Team & So Much Rain!!

My little soccer team:) It came with a little soccer miracle! 

Dear Family and friends,

The things I have learned this week are astounding to me. haha

God keeps his promises. All of them. He hears our prayers. All of them. 

I had a soccer break-down this week. We often see kids playing on the street or at parks and such and for the most part I can handle myself without forgetting everything we're doing and running in and joining. But this week we were contacting at this lovely park and I couldn't resist. I saw all these little boys and I asked if I could come play with them, I assumed they would say no but they were very enthusiastic about it! So I went into their little arena and started messing with the ball a bit. If any of you have ever seen me play you know I'm not very tricky or impressive with my foot skills... haha but they thought I was just super cool! So then we played a little game for a few minutes. Afterwards I gave them all English class invitations. 

After we played I felt a little guilty. We didn't get any new investigators and I was thinking these kids would probably forget to give those little flyers to their mom's anyways. But about a half hour later I was swarmed by mothers. We were talking to a potential on the side when I felt someone tap my shoulder I heard them saying "Ya! She's the one in the orange shirt." One of these especially Taiwanese mamas said "Hey, were you just playing soccer with my son? He said there was a foreigner playing with them wearing an orange shirt." Then I got really nervous... haha They were talking fast and it took a lot of concentration, but they started asking me all these questions about who I was, what our church was, where it was, and when english class was. It was amazing! I realized that I had done right. I had helped some people have an introduction to the church!

I know that all of our gifts and talents are from God. He loves us infinitely and knows each of our individual struggles, pains, interests, hobbies, etc. He is in the details of our lives. 

Isn't Taiwan amazing and beautiful?

This is what my Book of Mormon looks like (the one I mentioned in my email last week). It's got characters on the far left, then the pinyin, which is a romanized way for us to learn Chinese, then there's the English translation. 

I am gaining a funny testimony of that principle :) haha. So when we got put into this threesome I was really pretty worried. I knew that I would have to be really humble as I continued to press forward with this work. So whenever anyone asked me what they could do to help me I told them to pray for me to be humble. The next week I got my ear infection. haha Then our District Leader asked us to pray for him and his companion to have more baptismal date investigators. The next week they had 5. These are big things. I know that God is aware of us! He knows the desires of our hearts and he will give us all the things we need. Maybe not the things we want.... but the things we need. 

Love my companions and McDonalds ice cream!
My district getting ready to sing at an old folks home
Another cool miracle of the week is Xu Dixiong. Wu JM and I met him on the street on our second to last week together. However, he has some problems with his teeth and is SUPER hard to understand. I really relied on her to tell me what was going on when we would have lessons with him. haha But lately I've been calling him and trying to set up with him. (I never thought I would be able to talk to a toothless Chinese man on the phone, but allow me to testify for a moment of the gift of tongues... :) It's real.) Honestly I don't understand every word he says, but I understood that he doesn't want to set up with us. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why. He always was super nice to us and really likes prayer and when we talked on the phone he would tell me that he continues to pray. So then this week our stake had a gigantic relief society activity at our chapel. We didn't attend for very long, but while we were there we had a blast! 

The party was wrapping up and I took the giant group photo for everyone. As I got down from standing on this chair, I turned to see Xu Dixiong standing in the doorway! I ran over there and talked to him for about 15 minutes. I could smell smoke on him and I felt very prompted to give him a Word of Wisdom pamphlet (I very randomly had one with me that day). He still didn't want to set up with us. He kept telling me that all religions are good and that's enough for him. But then he told me how he felt a very different spirit in the church and when he would talk to us missionaries. I was very confused and frustrated. But luckily, Wu Jiemei taught me sassy Chinese when we were together haha. So basically I found some of the members of the clean-up crew and asked them to give Xu Dixiong a mop so that he could help. After that I started talking to other members and just watched as Xu Dixiong talked with some of our YSA. It was awesome :) But he still wouldn't set up with us! I was super frustrated. 

Then yesterday we were contacting a man outside his house when I heard a familiar voice from inside... Who should come out but Xu Dixiong! I couldn't believe it. We know knew where he lived! It was perfect! We were able to have a lesson with him right then and there. He said that when the time is right, he would be baptized! But then he proceeded to tell us that he thought it would be a long time. I was so frustrated and full of love. haha During this lesson I had a really cool moment with the Spirit. I just felt it come over me and I heard these words in my mind, "I need you to keep working with him. Do not give up." I know it was a prompting of the Lord, but I'm not entirely sure what it means for Xu Dixiong's future. I know it will include us though :)

Soaked after a really big rain storm!
So there's a really cool story for the week :) I want you all to know how much I love and appreciate all of the prayers said on my behalf. This week there was another really funny tender mercy that I'm 100% sure came from the prayers of my family and friends. 

This week I experienced my second biggest rainstorm in Taiwan. (I've been told that this one wasn't even that bad) We were soaked from head to toe. As we were riding from one lesson to the next we stopped at a certain light and I talked to this woman for a while. She wasn't interested and we rode on. Then at the next light I heard a voice from behind me. "Hey! You don't have a poncho! Here's one of mine." This same woman had stopped and pulled over once she realized how wet I was (for the record I had my rain jacket, but in Taiwan EVERYONE wears ponchos :) haha Rain jackets apparently don't count) and proceeded to pull out a poncho from her scooter-seat. She then put it on me right there in the middle of the intersection. I couldn't stop laughing. :) So thank you for whoever prayed that I wouldn't be rained on!! :) haha

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Don't stop believing.

Gu Jiemei

Some cute filipino girls we met:)

So much fun with these two!

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Missionary Work Is A Lot Like Baking Cookies With Your Mom"

So the church is supposed to be closed on Monday nights, but as we were riding by I saw that there was a truck out front and the lights were on. So we went in to investigate. We met this really nice man who was there on business for the church fixing our lights. As we were talking to him he told us that we had seen him before. I told him I'd been here the longest and I'd never seen him. Then he told us that he was the model they used for the Asian Plan of Salvation pamphlets! haha so we naturally had to snap a picture with him. He said it was his first time being asked to have his picture taken :) haha
After a long, exhausting day:)
Dearest Family & Friends,

So this week was ridiculously busy for many reasons... but the biggest reason is that we moved apartments this week! We're going to a place that's still in Zhubei but on the other side of the train station. We can see our old house from our window :) haha. Our new apartment is much nicer and we all decided it has a very homey feel. 

Moving to a new apartment!
That pretty much took up the last half of our week, but do you want to know what? We were still only 1 lesson short from our mission's standard of excellence this week. WHAT?! God loves us. 

One language victory of the week:
FHE. I love our ward FHE. We do it every Sunday and this week, we sisters were in charge of the game. But because of some pretty crazy moving circumstances, we had to do our Weekly planning yesterday and didn't really have any time to prepare the game. But luckily for me, I'm of the Giles/Clements clan and spur of the moment games are what we do best! So we split everyone into three teams. They then had to come up with a team name and a team cheer. After that, they performed their cheer and we began our relay race! Everyone had to spin around three times, then dribble a basketball down the court and shoot a basket. It was sooo much fun. The winning team got a special prize! Our special prize was some food that we had to take out of our fridge when we moved (We think it's noodles? haha). It was very very fun and by some miracle I was able to explain that in Chinese! haha :) 

Also just a funny fact, I always read 3 pages from the pinyin BOM for language study every day and I've been in 2 Nephi reading Isaiah lately. I can't believe that I'm studying Isaiah in Mandarin Chinese... the church has to be true. 

The Zhubei trio
We've also decided as a companionship that we are going to master the art of referrals. This is how our conversations have gone as of late:

"Do you know anyone else who would be interested in Jesus Christ or this gospel message?"

"Um... I don't know. They're Daoist."

 But then I had this thought... these people don't know what the gospel is. How can they possibly know if their friends will have interest in it? That's like asking someone, 

"Do you know anyone who would be interested in astrophysics?"

"Um... I don't know. He's a plumber."

So we concocted some new questions that we will be asking the fair citizens of Zhubei which we hope will yield a fantastic crop of new investigators for us to bring into the gates of baptism.

Today during personal study I read some letters I'd received from my companions in Georgia. I just became very overwhelmed as I thought about my mission. I've dreamed of this experience and what it would be like for a long time. But what I realized today is that it's even better than I imagined. It's more than I ever thought it could be. I'm changing and growing and becoming a better person. I'm fighting my natural man and trying to help others do that as well. There's nothing more satisfying than knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing exactly what the Lord wants me to be doing. This work is not easy and I am no where near perfect, but I feel like I'm getting better every day. And that is fun :) 

In one of our companionship studies this wee we were discussing how missionary work is a lot like baking cookies with your mom. She's got the recipe and she knows what she's doing. Us little kids just are so eager to help! But we mess it up a lot. We get eggshells in the dough, or we sneak some of the cookie dough into our mouths, or we forget to add a certain ingredient. However, regardless of our folly, mom could always make that cookie dough turn out right. She could always fix whatever mistake we little kids made. I really have a big testimony that this is how our lives are. haha We all make mistakes. We all do silly things that we wish we hadn't done, but at the end of the day Mom (or in this case our Heavenly Father) can fix any problem. He's got the recipe (or plan) and he loves us. He wants us to have those cookies even more than we want to have those cookies.

I really am so eternally grateful for this opportunity. It has changed my life and I can't wait to see what else is in store for me here. The future is bright!


Gu Jiemei
In the elevator!
Here is what Zhubei looks like from our rooftop:)
Another shot from the Rooftop

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"If The Lord Called Me To Do It, Then I Can Do It!"

We think we found the Garden of Eden this week:) Isn't it beautiful?
Well.... this week... where do I begin?!

We had interviews this week! It's always super awesome to meet and talk with President Day. It's just like talking with my Dad :) Which is a huge blessing for me. I can tell him anything and he really loves and cares about what I'm doing and how I'm feeling.

Combined district meeting with the AP's
At our District meeting, the Zone leaders gave us a little special training. It was absolutely incredible and I have to share about it. So they  shared the story of Peter telling Jesus Christ that he loved him 3 times. They then had us face our companions. The Senior companion was to first play the role of the Savior and the Junior companion was Peter. They gave us a few minutes to prepare and I really prayed hard that I would be able to do this and remember it. As I opened my eyes I saw Wu JM smiling at me. She then asked me if I loved her. I got the biggest smile on my face and said yes. The second time she asked me, she whispered my name and I couldn't hold back the tears. After she asked me the third time, she told me that she could really feel the Savior's love for me. She said that she had never seen a missionary like me before. She said that she had no worries about our ward being in my hands and that she knew I had power and I could do it. We cried and hugged. I will miss her :) I love her. She was supposed to be my companion for every reason. 
Me and one of my favorite English students, Ryan. He is one of the most adorable children ever!
We had our valentine's English class party! It was super funny and somewhat awkward. haha Our job was the photo booth. So we made mustaches/glasses and taped them to chopsticks that people could hold up to their faces. That was the night we found out for sure that Wu JM was leaving. I honestly believe that Wu JM prepared me so well for this mission. I don't feel anxious about anything. I know that I can do it. And if I can't do it then I'll make a mistake and the Lord will help me get back up and figure out what to do :) haha

One of my last pictures with Wu Jiemei!!! I have learned so much from her. She is amazing:)
So it was transfers. Luckily I was pretty prepared for Wu Jiemei to leave. I pretty much knew from the time I got here that she would be transferring after training. She is now happily serving in a Taipei zone as a Sister Training Leader :) President Day has also been telling us a lot that we don't have as many sisters as we need, so they'll be closing down some areas. We also kind of expected that Zhubei would get condensed. That seems to happen whenever they have a situation like this. But God still has his sense of humor and decides to throw lots of surprises my way :) haha When they announced my name at transfer meeting (they do this on a powerpoint and they have the whole district's picture and then they insert the new missionaries names and pictures) my area's name disappeared and I got sucked over into Zhubei 1st ward. Then Zhubei 1st ward disappeared and became Zhubei 1 and 2 together! So right now I'm in a trio and we are working 2 wards. It's kind of crazy. But having 3 people is super convenient at times! It's like having 6 hands 6 eyes 6 ears. POWER! We also have a lot of opportunities to split up and work with lots of different members of the ward. 

The Zhubei trio:) Me, Sister Hughes from Grantsville, UT, and Sister Wood from Springville, UT
This is a pretty big responsibility for me because basically I'll be taking over this ward and having Wu JM (sister wood) and Yu JM (sister hughes) help out and I was a little nervous going into it. I didn't know how the ward would react without me and Wu JM together. I wasn't sure how this Sunday would go. But the Lord opened my eyes and he opened the windows of Heaven. I've always been worried about my ability to develop relationships with members because of the language barrier, but I have always made a concentrated effort to talk to people. My words come out clunky and I say things wrong ALL the time, but I always try to talk with people. I hadn't really felt like this was helping me much... but then yesterday at church The Lord opened my eyes. There were many people who came up and hugged me or talked to me or asked me questions and really just helped me see that I have relationships! All of those awkward conversations where I'm laughing for most of the time because I don't know what I'm doing have payed off. I'm not done yet, but The Lord gave me that little bit of encouragement to keep me going and it was such a blessing :) I know that as we do our part, the Lord will do His :) 
The Hislops own their own restaurant and on the last day of Guonian had us come over for dinner!! So amazing:)
Zheng JM one of my all-time favorite people!!!
Love getting mail and it's so cute!!!

This week was pretty miraculous. I'm excited for the challenges that lay ahead for the Zhubei trio :) It's going to be a task, but something that I have believed from the moment I opened my mission call is that If the Lord called me to do it, I can do it. I know he gives us trials to help us :) I love this work.

Thank you for the undying love and support. I miss you all and love you like crazy!! :)

Gu Jiemei