Monday, May 25, 2015

Flood Gates & Faith

My trainer, Sister Wu(right) and my trainee, Sister Johnson(left)  One big happy family!!!
Pres. Hou and his kids, Angel and Johnny. His cute wife is taking the picture in the background:)
Planning meeting at the church:)
Dear ones,

So I thought I should write about a cool thing that the Lord taught me this week! Well... actually it's something he's taught me my whole life... but it's something he reminded me of in a very big way this week. 


It was a week full of miracles.

 We had about 10 people set up for church. Now... logistically I knew this wasn't very likely but, our branch president has given us the goal to have each companionship have 4 investigators at church on Sundays and I was positive we could hit that. So we were just feeling super good. Then Saturday night we went to visit one of our investigators families to make sure that they could still come... they cancelled on us. So that made 2 less investigators. But that was still ok! We still had 8 all set up and ready to go! 

The next morning (Sunday) we called our investigator's mom to make sure they could come and she was already awake and getting the kids ready to go! It was awesome! So then we rode off to the church. The meeting started and we only had 1 investigator there. (She's the daughter of an RC). But that was still ok! Because people always show up late. So we waited and waited. I was constantly looking over my shoulder. People kept walking in... but it was never our investigators. We sang the opening hymn... no one. We listened to the announcements... no one. We started the sacrament hymn and we went outside to call some people and make sure everything was ok and they were still coming... no answer. As we walked back into the chapel I was very frustrated and angry. I didn't even want to sing the hymns. But I prayed. I told Heavenly Father exactly how I was feeling and that I didn't understand why no one had come. They had all seemed so certain! But... No one was here. But then I prayed that the Lord would help me to have a good attitude. Because at that point... I definitely didn't have one. haha 

As I opened my eyes after that prayer I saw one of the LAs we've been working with just as she took the bread to partake of the sacrament. I really thought about what that meant... she was forgiven. How beautiful was that? Then I looked over my shoulder and I saw another LA that we had been working with had come. Her life is really hard and she struggles to get to church because of her husband... but she was there smiling and waving at me. I realized how blessed I was. I started to smile. My attitude changed.


As soon as the sacrament portion had finished, I looked behind me and in came walking the family we had called that morning! Then our phone rang and one of our investigators told us he was waiting for us outside. Then another one of our investigators came in behind us and tapped us on the shoulder. 

The Lord will try our faith. But he always follows up with blessings.

I was studying about courage today in the scriptures. I realized a cool thing... courage always comes because people have hope. People have hope in a change, in the Lord's promises, their covenants, etc. and then they can perform acts of great courage. What I've been focusing on a lot more is developing hope. I testify that the Lord keeps his promises. I testify that our covenants are the most important promise we will ever make. If we really remember our covenants we will feel the Lord's love. He doesn't immediately take away our challenges, of course not. We're here to learn and grow and change and improve. If we never fail or fall or make mistakes we'll never learn and grow and change and improve. 

I love you all.

The Church is true.
Gu Jiemei

Special thanks to Br. Miller who brought a package to Taiwan for me:) Mom filled it with mosquito repellant and of course some reeses:)
This shirt says, "Prayer is Powerful" We loved it!!!
Look who just got transferred to Taidong:) Sister Tate my MTC companion! At least we get to see each other more often!
Bike ride to church: 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Banana Spiders and Book of Mormons

These cute girls reminded me of my cute Mad-puppies!!! Love you girls!!!
(Mom Note: Maddie's nickname is Maddog, so when she was a YCL at girls camp her girls called themselves the Mad-puppies:)
We happened onto this motorcycle gang and I knew I had to get a picture for my Dad!!!
Taiwanese night market:)
Dear Family and Friends,

Then sings my Soul,
My Savior God to thee,
How Great Thou Art
How Great Thou Art.

These little lines of song have been stuck in my head all week. It has been an incredibly trying week, but as He ALWAYS does, the Lord has stretched forth his hand. 


Funny things,

-I SAW MY FIRST BANANA SPIDER THIS WEEK. When we went to Fuyan we were just struck by how beautiful it was. Seriously it was amazing. We felt prompted to walk down this little side rode and so we parked our bikes and started walking. We didn't get very far when Sister Johnson let out a cry of pure terror. I looked up to where she pointed and saw the biggest spider I have ever seen. Then... not 2 feet away there was another web... with yet another banana spider. We both thought that maybe we should turn back, but I told Sister Johnson we couldn't turn back yet because we still hadn't talked to anyone! So we kept walking and we knocked a couple doors and evaded some scary dogs, but still no one. But we still hadn't talked to anyone and I was determined. So we kept walking and guess what we saw?! ANOTHER BANANA SPIDER. It just was not ok. haha.  But we still hadn't talked to anyone so we pressed on. It really looked like an abandoned place and I wasn't feeling super sure that we would find anyone to talk to... when off in the distance we saw the clashing colorful clothes of an Ama! It was the best :) We went over and started talking to her and as we did, her daughter came out. Her daughter had just gotten some sugar cane from a friend and chopped it up right there in front of us and then taught us how to eat it. So we did! And Guess what else? She accepted a Book of Mormon! And she said she would be baptized! IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH WALKING PAST 3 BANANA SPIDERS.
In beautiful Fuyan! This is called a miao:)

-I CAUGHT THE COCKROACHES THIS WEEK. So yesterday when we got home from our long day of riding all over our area I went down in to the kitchen and discovered a cockroach. Which doesn't really phase Sister Johnson and I anymore. We've got a pretty good system down to catch and release them. But this guy kept getting stuck in corners... and it was really difficult to catch him so we kind of beheaded him.... and then we put him outside. During this whole endeavor I was reaching to grab our roach bucket when from underneath my feet ran another cockroach! We freaked out. haha We caught him too and released him into the wild. Then, after finishing our evening planning, I heard Sister Johnson's voice from downstairs. "Sister Giles.... there's another one." So it was the night of the 3 roaches. haha 

-WE PLACED 15 BOOKS OF MORMON THIS WEEK. So the standard of excellence for our mission is 5 a week. So that is 3 times the standards of excellence. Our District had a goal to pass out 50 Books of Mormon this week and Sister Johnson and I really wanted to contribute since the last time we had this goal we were sick. This was all through the power of God. He just knows His kids! He knew we had a goal and He knew who we needed to talk to. Our job was just to keep on trying. We tried talking to everyone and what do you know... success! 

We had a really awesome meeting with Yu Mei this week. So a little background... I think I've mentioned that our neighbor is like our best friend, our investigator, and basically the catholic branch president. And if I haven't mentioned those things... now you know. So we originally started teaching her and then her daughter came home from Taipei (she has stage 4 cancer and is getting close to the end) and she became our investigator. Then one day when we went over to visit them, our neighbor's younger sister was there. Then when we were walking by one day her younger sister called us in off the street to talk to her friend (she does that frequently now). So our neighbor's younger sister is named Chen Yu Mei. She's the funniest thing ever. I told her off-hand one day that we didn't drink alcohol because it's against God's commandments (she's a pretty heavy alcoholic, smoker, and binglang chewer) and since that day she hasn't drank any alcohol. She pulled us off the street this week for a few minutes and told us that she's planning on joining our church. She said she wants to be baptized with her neice, her sister, and her other friend. She said, "This is your mission here in Taidong. This is why you're here." It was one of the more magical moments of my mission. 

This week is my halfway. I really can't understand what that means. I pulled out all my planners from my past transfers and I as I was looking at them I said a prayer. When I was in the MTC Elder Ballard came and spoke to us. He told us about an experience he had when he had finished his mission. He and a friend went to the Sacred Grove and they decided that they would both go and kneel down and ask the Lord if their sacrifice had been accepted by him. He encouraged us to do that throughout our mission. So last night as I was looking at all my planners and feeling all nostalgic, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father if my service had been accepted. This was the Spirit's reply, 

Well, have you been changed?

Ya. I have.

Then it has been accepted.

I really felt like God was smiling at me in that moment. It was such a tender mercy. Then this morning when I was reading the Doctrine Covenants I came accross D&C 97:27. I feel like this was one of the moments where the Lord hit me right in the face.

27 Nevertheless, let it be read this once to her ears, that I, the Lord, have accepted of her offering; 

It was just the coolest. 

I testify that God lives. He loves us infinitely. I can't wait to see him again :) I LOVE YOU ALL! KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

Gu Jiemei

My legs last week:(
My legs this week:) There are getting better!!!
FHE with Pres. Hou's family and some friends! They are the best:)
A ward activity where we got to do charades.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Skype!!!

Skyping with the family!!!
Sister Giles & her cute companion Sister Johnson
Mom Note:
Skyping with Maddie was the best!! I loved seeing this sweet girl! She looked great and sounded great!!! She is so happy and working hard in Taidong! She said that the most important thing she has learned on her mission is to rely and trust in the Lord. She said, "Sometimes I think I can do things by myself, but I have learned that it is best to rely on the Lord! Things always go so much better!" 

She loves her companion! She said their area is huge so they are biking so much and are so busy teaching! They get home each night and collapse into their beds exhausted. She also said there is lots of laughter because they are so tired. haha. There is no better feeling than being exhausted at the end of a day as a missionary, feeling like you have given it your all!

She wouldn't show me her legs, which apparently look terrible, because of all the mosquitos that love her!!! She bore her testimony to us in Chinese and it was amazing!!! The gift of tongues is real!  

What a blessing to have this sweet girl on a mission!!! We love her and miss her. I know she is so grateful for good friends and family who support her. 


All the family and Leasa(Geret's Office Manager who Maddie loves) were here for a Mother's day celebration and to say "Hi" to Maddie
Love that girl!!! 
Quite the set up:)
Ending our visit with Family Prayer:)
Dear Family,
OH MY WHAT A DELIGHTFUL TREAT TO TALK TO YOU ALL! Seriously. I'm still just... the most delighted.
So here are a few things we didn't talk about:

-WE BOUGHT SLEEPING MASKS. Because we're becoming more and more Taiwanese by the day.
This week was a good one. We've been challenged by our leaders to do some pretty difficult things this month, but we have already seen miracles coming from our hard work.
We had interviews with President Day this week :) I love President Day and I am going to miss him so much. I testify that he is called of God and that he knows what he's doing. Every assignment and calling I have gotten from him has pushed me, but it's made me better. 
Funny Story:
So President and Sister Day came to our branch this week! Sister day doesn't speak any Chinese, so President Day asked if I could translate church for her. The first two talks went alright and I didn't really have to struggle much... then the High Councilor spoke. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT HE WAS SAYING. I just looked at Sister Day and said, "Well... I'm sure what he's saying is very profound and meaningful." haha I made eye contact with President Day a couple times and he just smiled and laughed. After the meeting, President Day made sure to come up to me and talk to me for a second. He told me, "Sister Giles, I just want you to know there's nothing wrong with your Chinese. That man was quoting ancient Chinese Philosophers and Ph. D's and such." hahahah IT was so funny.
This week...This week. It was full of lots of funny experiences. And full of lots of growth. I think I've known from the start of my time here in Taidong that I was going to be stretched a lot. That has proven true every single day. I've had to face a lot of my worst fears and weaknesses while I"ve been here. But I've been so blessed to have a wonderful companion, fantastic leaders, and a great branch. I know the Lord is stretching me into what he wants me to be. I think the biggest thing stopping me from progressing sometimes is myself. But that's why we have the Savior right? Right. He saves us from everything. Including ourselves. 
I testify that God is here in Taiwan. This is a place where the church is blossoming. It's so exciting to be a part of such growth! We also got confirmation this week that there WILL be a new stake in Taidong! That will be initiated in Hualien in June. We're VERY excited. I'm so blessed to be a part of this work. 
We'll just do our best and God will make up the rest.
Gu Jiemei

Monday, May 4, 2015

"Faith isn't what you demonstrate to get what you want, it's what you demonstrate no matter what you get."

This was the day the Elder's saved us! We almost missed our train, but the Elders grabbed our bikes and put them on the train and we made it on just in time:) haha. Then it poured rain on us as we visited the members in Luye!
Elder Stevens & Elder Elliot after saving our bikes and us!
The other day we heard some incredibly loud baibai music and went to see where it was coming from. We found this awesome truck, with no one to be found anywhere around it:) So, of course we had to take a picture!!
Well... this was an amazing week filled with learning :) haha

I've been thinking this week a lot about why we fast. 

Story time...

So on my mission... I've done a lot of special fasts. For investigators, Less-Actives, Wards, etc. And every time I have fasted for a specific purpose... the exact opposite of what I fasted and prayed for has happened. 

This last month we have been fasting for Wu Jiemei She's one of our investigators. She's 17 and she's GOLDEN. She's been an investigator since August of last year. She reads her scriptures every day and really believes in prayer. She attends church every week consistently. She's ready to be baptized. So we've been super excited for her. We set the date of 5/9 for her to be baptized. Her only problem is her parents. They're not to keen to let her be baptized. 

So on Saturday we set up to meet with her parents. We met with Wu Jiemei and then walked with her to her house. We had originally hoped that we could talk with her for a bit before we went in there and talked with her parents... but then she got home late and we didn't have that option. So then once we got to her house, I had imagined we would all sit down together and then she could share why she wanted to be baptized and then the spirit would take it from there! But once we got there... Wu Jiemei disappeared into a back room and we didn't see her for 15 minutes. Here's how my conversation with her dad went...

Baba:   "Why are you here?"

Me:   "Well let's wait for Wu Jiemei to get here and then we can all discuss together."

Baba:  "Don't mind her, we can just talk now."

*awkward silence*

Me:  "Um... Ok. So we're really hoping that Wu Jiemei will be able to be baptized next Saturday. We've been meeting with her and we really believe she's ready."

Baba:  "I absolutely will not let her be baptized until she's 20. Then she can make her own decision."

The conversation proceeded and Baba  basically had 2 concerns. The first was that Wu Jiemei's homework has been failing lately and the second was that she's not old enough to make this decision on her own. I didn't know what to say.

Then Wu Jiemei came in. H DX (our MM leader and peike) looked at Wu JIemei and said, "Your father's right." I WAS SO MAD. haha. Our purpose is not to tell people it's ok to delay their baptisms! Then H DX did something great. He invited Wu JIemei's dad to church. Guess what Baba said? "I would love to come. When is it?" I was blown away! I was so sure that this was the answer to our fasting and prayer for Wu Jiemei. And Even better! Yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting! So Wu Jiemei would have a chance to share her testimony so her dad could hear it! I was so excited. After we left her house, we reviewed with Wu Jiemei how she could share her testimony. She was all set up for the next day.

That Sunday Morning I called Wu Jiemei to make sure she was already to go and she dropped the bomb... her dad wouldn't be able to come. He had already gone to work. What's more, she wouldn't be able to make it to Fast and Testimony meeting to share her testimony.

I was crushed. I was upset. We had fasted. And prayed. And really strived to get this done for her. But nothing had happened. But I was reminded of a quote on my Uncle Mark's tombstone;

"Faith isn't what you demonstrate to get what you want, it's what you demonstrate no matter what you get."

I know this is true. I know the church is true. I know that we fast, not because we can change the will of God, but so that we can show the Lord that we are listening. So that we can show the Lord we want our will to be the same as His. I know that God gives us trials to help us.

We can do this! 


Gu Jiemei

Our front door has a mirror on it! 
Sister Pieper one of our Sister Training Leaders
The view off of our balcony
This is an awesome Pancake House. We set a goal and met it, so we decided to treat ourselves to some pancakes:) We ended up surrounded by this big family! It was awesome:)