Monday, April 27, 2015

The Power of a Smile

Just keep smiling, just keep smiling, just keep smiling:)
The bugs really like me, just like they liked my mom on her mission!!!
Dear Family and Friends,



So... when I went to the MTC my teacher gave me a name. That name is Gu. I never questioned it, I never thought much of it... until recently. I realized that everyone else's names are translations of their names. But Gu doesn't exactly sound like Giles... so I began to wonder why this was my name. Then when we were out contacting last night I was talking to a woman about Chinese characters (because I'm still trying to figure out what the heck they mean) and she talked to me about my character. Guess what my character is? It's a cross over a box. Guess what crosses symbolize in Chinese characters? THE NUMBER 10. As I realized this, I got a little emotional. For those of you who don't know, my jersey number in soccer was number 10.

This was a huge blessing because lately I've felt like I've kind of forgotten who I am. I had forgotten about the things I did before my mission. My talents. My abilities. My strengths. My interests. It sounds a little crazy but that's really what was happening. Then as I had this little moment of clarity about my name, I felt the Spirit whisper to me, "You're still my number 10 Mads." I was so overcome with joy and peace and just... yes. haha I am playing on a different team now, but I've still got a big role to play. 

Another cool thing I realized about my name, is that it is a representation of our Savior. The top is a cross to remind me of His atoning sacrifice. Then the bottom is his empty tomb. He is Risen. I loved this when I saw it. I know the church is true!! :) haha

Funny thing that happened this week!

So our next door neighbor is our best friend. She and her daughter are also our investigators. Mom is super catholic, but she's slowly opening up to the Book of Mormon! YAY!! Also, Chen Su Mei (daughter) has cancer. She's really not doing well. But I know that the Lord has been preparing them to hear this message. Our Branch President came and helped us peike their lesson. They just love him. haha Then when we were at our Missionary coordination meeting, I was talking about Chen JM and Chen SU Mei and I expressed how their biggest concern is coming to church because they have their own church that they go to. Then our Branch President explained that our neighbor is like the branch president of this catholic church... hahahaha. So... we're probably just going to convert this whole catholic sector. yay! :)

The power of a smile.

So... this picture is very significant for many reasons, but for starters this is a Momenjing. I've heard about them, but I had never actually seen one! Then we went over to our LA's (less active's) house to visit and as she was reading with us it sounded a little funny, I asked if I could see her book and voila! This book is at least 40 years old. So we very lovingly offered her the newer translation :) haha

To go from the beginning, we went to visit this woman's daughter and she wasn't home, but I really had to go to the bathroom, so I asked if I could use their toilet. When I got out, we asked if we could just read some scriptures and pray with them. The two sons said they didn't want to and left the room. The mom looked like she was about to leave too, but she said it was ok. So we pulled out our activity that we were going to do with Qiu Cun Cun (her daughter) and did it with her. She was surprisingly very interested in reading! We had a pretty good visit and left.

As we were reporting to our Branch President on Sunday about our week, I brought up this family. (They have the same name as my RC (recent convert)back in Zhubei :) yay!) Up until this week, I didn't know that the mom was a member. We had always gone to visit her daughter. As it turns out, all four of their kids have been baptized! President Hou said that the mom doesn't usually let people in and that she's pretty grumpy. He asked how we got in to the house. I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled. He said "That's why! It is your smile!" haha He then proceeded to tell our Elders that what they need to do to improve is smile like the Sisters. haha 

This is the Momenjing.
While this experience is pretty funny, I have really learned the value of a smile on my mission. I testify that God smiles and we should too. When I first got to Taiwan I remember just riding through the streets and smiling. I had no idea what to say to people, but I knew I could smile and wave at everyone. I testify that the little things will bring about great change in the lives of others. I don't know where this familie's story will go from here, but I know that we won't give up.
So I love you all :) haha. Thank you so much for the prayers, emails, letters, and support. You're all amazing. Keep it up!


Gu Jiemei

The Lin Jiating Family, one of our favorites in the branch

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How Will You Always Remember Him?

Scooter contacting. Sometimes being on the streets of Taiwan is like being in a Mario Kart Race:)
Sister Power!!! On our way to zone conference
Having dinner with all the missionaries in Taidong:)
Dear Family and friends,

This week once again has been filled with miracles. I can't really begin to describe my gratitude to my Heavenly Father. I just know that He is aware of me.

To illustrate this, I want to share a story...

So last night, Sister Johnson and I went to go visit one of the Less-Actve members of our ward. But her car wasn't there and she clearly wasn't home. She talked to us last week about how she wants us to meet with her son, who is already 8 years old, and teach him the lessons so that he can be baptized. But they weren't home and the night before during planning we had decided we would go to the street perpendicular to her house. So we went knocking on this street. Seems innocent enough right? I have never been so frequently rejected in my life. Every single door we knocked was a bu yao. Then the last man we talked to was actually Christian. He had read the Book of Mormon 2 times, believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet, believed that an angel had revealed the plates unto him... but didn't believe our church was true. That was one of the most frustrating moments of my mission. haha. 

So as we walked away, I just didn't feel the Spirit. I was upset. I was upset with Heavenly Father because He wouldn't just make things easy for us. I've really been focusing on faith this month and as we rode away from this area I was thinking about why Heavenly Father makes us test our faith. Sister Johnson was leading and all of a sudden she stopped and said "I think we need to go back to our LA's house." I had already checked for her car when we rode by and it still wasn't there. But we followed the prompting. 

We headed back and our LA was still not home. So we knocked on her neighbor's door. She was very short with us and seemed very irritated. But she talked with us for a long time. We were able to place a Book of Mormon and have a lesson with her! Then just as we were wrapping up who should drive up? Our LA with all of her kids. We were able to help them unpack their car and get them all inside. Then we were able to have a lesson with her son!! IT WAS A MIRACLE! 

This experience has really strengthened my faith in Ether 12:6. (Jordan's favorite scripture!) I know that faith is a precious attribute. That is why we have to work for it. It's not something we can have on a whim. We must have steadfast faith in Christ. Because He is the one who brings the miracles into our lives. 

So the mission tour started this week in our zone! It was amazing. I was so impressed with President and Sister Gong. Sister Gong is a Taiwan Taipei missionary! She's kept her Chinese up all these years! It was so cool to see their examples. I learned so much about the sacredness of my Savior. I've been changed through them and their example. The question they asked me that was most poignant to me was about our covenants. He asked

How will you always remember him?

It really caused me to reflect. I invite everyone to think about this and ask Heavenly Father to help them :) 

I'm sorry I don't have much time, but I love you all. thank you for your support. I know that the Lord is blessing us so much. All is well in Taiwan :)

Gu Jiemei

Sometimes missionary work is exhausting:)

Sometimes when you are watching a Mormon Message you see yourself and your parents in the background of it!!! Go Cougars!!!

Sometimes we have to make funny faces...

and more funny faces!!!
Let the soccer contacting continue:)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A New Chapter Begins and the Crazy Just Doesn't Stop:)

Another one of the beautiful sights here in Taidong:) 
Our zone at the beach
I just thought this was a cool picture:)
Dear Everyone,

Well... this week. Allow me to testify that God has a plan. He loves His children. This week... dare I say it, has been the craziest of my mission. haha. So... where to begin?

I spent a few days in Taipei this week to pick up my new companion! I rode up there on Thursday and we spent the day in trainings and such. Then that night we went babysitting! So babysitting is when all the trainers get assigned randomly to a trainee and then you go out for 2 hours and you go finding out in the streets of Taipei! My trainee was Sister Knapp. She's super great :) haha She was super determined and just so excited. That night I stayed in Neihu with Sister Wood's old companion. It was great! Then the next morning we woke up early, got ready and headed to the temple for the training meeting. So how the training meeting works for trainers/trainees is we all get to sit in the front and then President Day has a powerpoint with all of the trainee's pictures names on it. They come up one by one and introduce themselves in Chinese. Then we all drum roll...... and President Day announces who their trainer is! So Sister Johnson got up and introduced herself and everyone behind me kept saying "She's yours! She's yours!" (They said that after everyone... so it wasn't that big of a revelation) but then President Day read my name and I jumped up, screamed, and ran to hug my new companion. Then we went and got our picture taken and then we sat through the rest of the meeting. 

My sweet new companion Sister Johnson. She is from Taylorsville, UT. Her dad served in Taiwan too and she is amazing:)
After that we had to stay in Taipei for a little bit waiting for our train to Taidong. Guess who I saw? Wu Jiemei :) It was the best!!! I also realized that my Chinese has gotten worse since I stopped being her companion. haha She talks really fast :) But we got to take a picture with the my daughter, me and her. She's excited to be an Ama! She scared my poor companion though because she completely spoke to her in her fiery/fast Chinese. haha. Such is the mission :)

So then that day we spent almost completely on the train. We had 6 and a half hours on the train to get to know each other and plan for the coming week. It was great! Sister Johnson also got to see some of the most beautiful parts of Taiwan. 

So as I mentioned above, this week has been crazy. Moving into our new apartment has been a huge blessing, but it's been incredibly difficult. Let me explain some of the cool/crazy things.

We didn't have water. This meant that I didn't get to shower or brush my teeth on Saturday. But guess what? The Lord sent us rain. That way I knew that he loved me and it helped to cover up my stinkiness. haha.

We didn't have gas. We still don't have gas... haha so we're just not going to be cooking in our house much. But we had 2 members spontaneously feed us yesterday! So we didn't even have to worry about food. 
Allow me to introduce you to one of the miracles of the week... HONG JIEMEI!
She's amazing. We were riding home from Conference on Sunday and I was really not looking forward to going home for lunch. We had bought some food from the 7-11 on Saturday night, but we didn't have much. Plus we didn't have gas so we couldn't really cook anything... haha. So we're riding home and I'm thinking about how I'm a failure as a mother because I can't provide for my child... when Hong JM rides up next to me on her scooter and (while we're riding) asks if we've eaten lunch yet. I said no and she said come to my house and eat! Wow!! It was a big blessing. We love her :)
We didn't have keys. But because of this we got to meet our neighbor, who is also our land-lady. She is catholic and is absolutely delightful. We were able to give her a Book of Mormon and she let us in to our house! She also called the guy who works on the water and had him come over and help us.

We didn't have bikes. So technically we have bikes. We have 5 bikes. But ALL of their tires are flat. We didn't know this until Saturday morning before we went to Conference. We had to make a lot of phone calls and a lot of our plans failed or fell through, but through some miraculous members we had 2 bikes. Lin DX had fixed my old one, and his son let us borrow his bike for the whole day! Then when we went back, he said that he would let us use his daughter's bike. So Sister Johnson is riding his daughter's bike and I'm riding my bike that he fixed. 

We didn't have a phone. So we went to transfer meeting thinking that we could pick up a phone... but alas they didn't have any. Then sweet Elder Jensen pulled his out of his pocket and said here have mine. He took out his SD card and just gave us his phone. MIRACLE! So we had a phone! But... we didn't have a charger. Our phone was almost out of battery (this is the morning we didn't have bikes or water and I was still trying to figure out how we were going to ride to the church) and I was praying to find some way to charge this phone when I looked and found an old phone box! But sadly there was no charger inside... but guess what was inside? Another battery! This battery only had half a life, but it was enough to get us what we needed until the Elders could bring the charger to the church.

Sister Johnson has really been a trooper through all of this. haha. I don't know what I would've done without her good attitude. She's a rockstar. 

I know that God lives. I know that He has a plan for each of us, his Children. He loves us infinitely and knows us perfectly. I know that sometimes things don't go according to our plans. But it's ok. Because as we are doing what we know is right, we can always rest assured that we know we are where God needs us to be. I love this gospel. I loved General Conference with my whole soul. We were blessed to be able to watch it in English with the missionaries from the surrounding area and it was a big blessing. I know that President Monson is called of God. I sustain the Prophet and Twelve Apostles. I have no doubt that the Lord is leading our church today. I trust the Savior even though I can't see the end from the beginning. The Lord will always put angels in our paths. All is well :)

Sister Giles

General Conference:) I loved it so much! 
Last day in our tri-panionship:)
Have I mentioned that it rains a lot here in Taiwan? haha.
Packages!!! We love them!
Gu Jiemei

Monday, April 6, 2015

We Have to Bloom Where We Are Planted:)

I am in such a beautiful country!!!
This little flower is growing out from the cement. Nothing else is alive around it. Amazing!!
Well, this has been a less-crazy week. (If I can really say that. haha)

So as we were riding our bikes I noticed this flower on the side and I had to stop. It reminded me of that phrase bloom where you're planted. I really think I've gained a testimony of that over the past transfer. From moving apartments in Zhubei and serving in those two wards, to coming to Taidong and working in two branches, I really have learned that even if our situations are not ideal, we can blossom. 

This little flower gives me hope. No matter where we are, or how uncomfortable, or tired, or stressed we might be, we can bloom where we are planted. It won't always be easy, but as we follow the commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will see results. 

Taidong is out in the country. It is amazing!!! There is a much different pace to life here.
This cute sister is from Georgia:)
When I attended Hualien's district meeting on Tuesday, they did a classic inspired question exercise. What that means is that you stare into your companions eyes for one minute and then you pray for an inspired question to ask them. Then you ask them this question and share a scripture with them. Sister Tan was the one who asked me my question and she asked, "Do you believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be?". I thought this was interesting because I had already expressed to her that day how I really had been gaining a testimony that I knew I was in the right place, etc, etc. But as she asked me that question I really stopped and thought for a minute. That morning and over those 2 days I just kept thinking how tired I was and how I just didn't have much energy to do this work. But as she asked me that question I realized that no matter how uncomfortable I was sleeping in 3 different apartments that week, or being with a lot of different companions, or having to completely start over introducing myself a million times, I was still exactly where I was supposed to be. I realized that being in the right place at the right time doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Sometimes it's still going to be hard. That's the way the Lord designed it. His plan is perfect.I love this gospel. Today in personal study I learned a lot about eternity. I have absolutely no idea how to comprehend that... but I am gaining a testimony that we are eternal beings. Our potential is infinite. We have to see that in ourselves, but more importantly, we have to see that in others. I really want to work on gaining a more eternal perspective in this next transfer as we will be meeting/working with so many new people. 

I am very excited for all the challenges that lie ahead. I love you all and am un-endingly thankful for your support and love.

Gu Jiemei

PS. My new companion arrives on Wednesday and I will meet her on Friday:) I'm so excited and nervous :) haha.
I asked Sister Huang to write in my journal for me. (She's one of our roommates) So I told her about my day in Chinese and she wrote about it in English. #languagestudyfun :) haha
Today our companionship went with the Elder's in our zone to a mountain in Beinan to watch the sunrise. We had to get up super early but I really learned so much on this trip about obedience and how I need to step it up. I'm excited for my new missionary to come and trying to be full of faith, but I'm nervous too haha :)
We went to a morning market today in the courtyard of a buddhist temple. 
Another picture of the morning market