Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What I'm Grateful For!!!

It's officially Christmas in the Yonghe appartment!
Isn't the food beautiful?!!!
Yonghe ward is amazing! We got to eat dinner with 2 couples from our ward who have missionaries out in the field. It was so much fun and reminded me of my own parents. They were talking about packages to send for Christmas and how different America was from Taiwan and it was just a really funny role reversal. haha 

Dear family and friends,
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! So I thought I would just tell you all some things I'm thankful for...

- I'm thankful for an obedient companion. That was one of my biggest worries on my mission and   honestly  I've never had to worry about it. I've always had companions that were willing to work and do God's will.
-I'm thankful for music. Being with Sister Wood brings my musical appreciation level up by at least 75%. She also has Josh Groban Christmas music. That makes the end of every day better.
-I'm thankful for the gift of tongues. Chinese has been harder lately, but I know God is blessing me and helping me all along the way. I'm thankful for the little victories.
-I'm thankful for my health. I haven't had any injuries or really serious health issues since I've been on my mission.
-I'm thankful for the SCRIPTURES. I just... yes. I've truly started to understand what people mean when they say that the scriptures open the door to revelation. I seriously feel like God is re-writing the scriptures as I read them.
-I'm thankful for our ward. We literally have been given so much food in the past few weeks that we have had to throw some out for fear of it going bad! A good problem to have if I say so myself.
-I'm thankful for strong examples. We had an FHE at one of my favorite members houses yesterday and the bishop's family came. The sister whose house it was at has been divorced for a long time and raising two teenage sons by herself. I don't think I've ever seen her unhappy. She's incredible. She's always offering to help us peike or have scripture classes at her house.
-I'm thankful for my family. I've been so blessed to have so much support from my family back at home. I'm so thankful for the letters and love I feel.
-I'm thankful for the Plan of Salvation and the temple. We had a really hard visit last night when we went to stop by an LAs house. The woman who answered the door look really confused and at first we thought we were in the wrong place, but after chatting for a minute we realized that this was the family we were looking for. They let us in and we were even able to see the Dad and youngest son. They were all baptized and Mama was baptized about 5 years ago. We were surprised that they were such recent converts and were asking some questions to find out why they hadn't been at church when the dad said, 

Dad "Well, you know we did the whole church thing and after the temple sealing we..."
Me "Wait, what? You were sealed in the temple?"
Dad "Yes. We're an eternal family. 
*long silence*
Me "So you were sealed in the temple to become an eternal family... I don't understand why you would leave."
Dad "Oh! No it's not like that. We didn't leave right away, it was over time."
*long silence*
Me "Does that sealing mean anything to you?"
Dad "Well to me religion is a lot like a super market. It doesn't really matter what you buy as long as you eat till your full. right?" 

I was speechless. I couldn't for the life of me understand why this family, who had been sealed in the temple not more than 4 years ago, had completely forgotten the covenants they had made and the blessings they had been promised. 

I testify of God's eternal truth that families are forever. I testify that ONLY in the temple and with the proper Priesthood keys is this possible. I testify that this is God's desire for his children. He wants to be with us forever just like we want to be with our kids forever. I testify that the temple is God's sacred house. I testify that our covenants in the temple are real. They really are sealing and binding and lasting. I am so thankful that my family is sealed together forever. I'm thankful for the opportunity we have to change and repent when we mess up. I know God loves His kids. 
-I'm thankful for the Atonement. One of my goals last transfer was to understand the Atonement better. The biggest lesson I learned was that for me to use the Atonement, I just need to repent and be happy. It's so simple and so worthwhile... and such a work in progress. haha
-I'm thankful for the Spirit. I've learned so much about listening to and following the Spirit on my mission and I am eternally grateful for the things I've been able to watch God do when I listen to Him. 

I'm thankful for this gospel. I'm thankful for this mission. The church is true and nothing can take that away from us. 



Gu Jiemei

Sister Hughes is in our Zone :) Putting the three-some back together!
This week I got to go on my first exchange as a Sister Training Leader! I got to go with Sister Noble, who was actually in the MTC with me. We had a really awesome exchange and we were able to bond over a lot of the same concerns since we're in the same point in our missions.  
Another fantastic exchange this week with Sister Kitchens! It was so fun as we realized that we chuanjiao the same way. She's a real amazing missionary. So proud of her and all she's doing :) OUR MISSION IS JUST FULL OF ANGELS!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Night Market, Sun Protection, Dongua Cha and More Miracles Along the Way:)

My companion and I became true Taiwanese women this week as we bought the traditional sun-protection arm sleeve. 
We love the Night Market:)
Another picture of the Night Market
This week I decided I was going to make Dongua Cha! I'd never done it before.. but it turned out pretty good! :) haha If you want to try it, it's called Winter Melon tea. You can go and buy these brick like things from Asian markets and then you just boil it in water. It's delicious :) 

IT IS NOT NOVEMBER 16. I can hardly believe it. I'm in real shock. Christmas is coming! Thanksgiving is like here! WHERE DID THE TIME GO?! haha. 

This week has been full of miracles and changes and love and prayer and humbling and just... so much. haha :) I'm thankful for Sister Wood and her example of love. :) She's the best.


Let me tell you a little bit about our investigator. So he's been investigating the church on and off for about 3 years. His name is Lin Jun Nan. He's about 40 years old and he's a champion. He's got really good English and likes to practice it with us. We tell him how awesome he is all the time and he says, "Yes. Because I have Jesus.". We asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said "Yes. I think so. Because I really want to change my life." He's so golden and so amazing. 

About 6 months ago he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. He's not willing to take chemo or any drugs like that and so the doctors don't think he has much longer. Even since I've been here I've seen his condition get worse... but I've never met someone with a better attitude. He's literally in constant pain, but he always has a joke to share or a high-five to give. I'm so thankful for his hard work. As we met with him yesterday he said, "You know, I think this is my test. I think something really big is coming." We testified to him that what he said was true. 

He met with President yesterday for his final baptismal interview and he passed! He's being baptized on Saturday at6:00. We're thrilled. :)
Oh. One more thing, his English name is Mark. (Maddie's uncle who died of cancer 9 yrs ago is named Mark. He was also 40 yrs old when he passed away)

Another one of my favorite experiences this week was this one:) So about a month ago Sister Fenlaw and I were giving temple tours and there was a member who came in with her friend. Apparently her friend had taken off work very specifically to come and do this tour. As we were getting to know this friend she told us she was from Yonghe and very shy. She has a hard time getting to know new people. Well, guess where I moved to a few weeks later? Yonghe. I think it was a tender mercy for this little woman, but it also showed me that God knows exactly where I am and what he wants me to do all the time :) He's go it all figured out. 
One of our sweet miracles this week:)
Lastly this last Saturday at our church we had a family history activity. It was VERY well attended and lots of fun. Our part as missionaries was to give a mini little temple tour with pictures. When Sister Wood and I were manning the station, there weren't very many people in attendance, but there was this little angel. Her name is Luo Jiemei. She lives in one of our neighboring wards and is 17 years old. We talked with her about the temple and then asked her what she had thought about serving a mission. She said that she was already planning on it. We expressed our excitement and she then said, "Well... I think it's going to have lots of challenges." In that moment I reflected back on my mission and all the challenges that I've had... but I realized as well that coming out of those challenges and seeing the blessings that come from them is the best feeling in the whole world. We then talked about how God blesses us in our trials. She then shared with us something her seminary shared with her, "When the trials are the hardest, the blessings are the most." I testify that is true. I think it's so easy when we are in times of trial to not see His hand. I'm still very very bad about that, but I'm thankful that I can look backawards. I'm thankful I can reflect when my perspective is better and see His hand better than I did the first time. 
Luo Jiemei
Oh yes Mom haha, I'm a Sister Training Leader now. (Mom note:  Maddie didn't mention this when she was transferred but I kind of guessed from some of the things they were doing) I will actually be killing Sister Wood here in Yonghe. :) She finishes her mission December 18. CRAZY!! She's doing really good at keeping her fire burning though :) 

I love my mission. I love the Lord. I love Taiwan.

Thank you for the undying love and support.
Gu Jiemei
Cute Guo Jiemei! One of the first missionaries I met here in Taiwan. Love her so much!!!
Got to have a moon cake this week from a famous bakery here in Taipei
Some of my ALL TIME favorite sisters!!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Dramatic Move:)

Sometimes when you are at Zone Conference you get to do Zumba in front of your whole Zone:) Wearing your favorite Ama pants. (All the little grandmas here in Taiwan wear these pants)
We were very excited when we found out favorite ice cream bars at the Family Mart! I don't think the company is making them any more, so we had to buy a few:)
Our sweet investigator Hugo and our cute member peike Shi Mama:)
Having some fun with Sister McComber. (Presidents Jergensens mother in law, and our cute mission grandma:)
Dear Family and Friends,

As is common with my mission, a very dramatic move happened! We had all kind of felt like maybe Sister Fenlaw would move and so we were preparing for that. But we were still nervous because honestly anything can happen with move calls. So we got through our english party. Which went really well! We did a temple tour with all of our students and there was some VERY positive response from them. A lot of people really loved the Because of Him video. I don't blame them! It's like my favorite :) haha anyways, after the english party we got home and tried to start planning, but we were just so nervous! And we kept jumping every time the phone would ring. So the Zone Leaders finally called us to tell us the news and asked if the other sisters were home. The other sister's were still in a lesson so the zone leaders said they would have to call back in a minute. It was so intense and we started chanting "kill the zone leaders" and stomping around our house. hahahaha (Side note, we really do love our Zone Leaders. They are excellent. We were just very stressed! haha) So when the other sisters got home we called the zone leaders and they told us that Sister Fenlaw, Sister Aldous, and I would all be moving. We were in shock. Nobody said anything for a while. We then had about 24 hours to pack up all our things and try to say goodbye to people before we were transferred. But we got to end our time in Xinan with a trip to the temple with Luo Jiemei. I can't think of anything better :)
Going to the temple with Luo Jiemei, her first time:)
Getting to see the Lai family at the temple doing baptisms for their ancestors!!! AMAZING
One quick experience we had with one of our awesome investigator before we had to say goodbye to him. So we started out by asking him if he had read the Book of Mormon...

Jameson: "Not a ton... I just read that intro and the testimonies.(which was exactly what we invited him to read 2 days before)" 
Us:  "Well cool! Did you get a chance to pray before you read?" 
Jameson:  'Well... no. But I did pray after I read it." 
Us:  "Really?? That's awesome!" 
Jameson:  "Well the intro invites you to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true or not... so I did that." 
Us:  "So what was your answer?" 
Jameson:  "To keep on learning and keep on going." 

WOWOWOWOWOWOW!!! It was so amazing. It was so hard to follow up and have such an amazing lesson and then have to tell him goodbye. It was very hard, but we know he's in good hands with the other sisters :) I also found out that he went to church and FHE this last week! Atta boy! :) 

Our awesome investigator Jameson!
My new companion is Sister Wood :) She's from Springville. She's fantastic :) haha I love her very much and we're already having a ball! She's very talented in music. She's very competent at this mission thing. She's got REALLY good relationships with our ward members. She's REALLY good at helping the Sisters in our zone. She's just... perfect. Yep :) I'm learning lots.
My new companion, Sister Woods. We actually got to be companions for a couple of weeks in Zhubei:)
A few things about my new area:
I am now in the Yonghe area, which means I'm still in Taipei just about a 30 min. bike ride from my old area. Things are actually a little cheaper here! There are A TON more people and they all live in our area! :) haha it's amazing! Our chapel is really little, but I really like it. I feel like our members here are very humble. Also... Yonghe people are all just really smiley. It's cool! :) haha. I
We went contacting at this really beautiful park and saw miracles!
So I'm very excited for the upcoming transfer. There are lots of good things already in the works and we've got some good goals for the future. I'm excited for everything that the Lord has in store.

Last week my ponderizing scripture was Proverbs 3:5-6 (one of mom's favorites). I remember choosing it on Monday and thinking, Is this really going to be that important this week? I basically know what's going to happen... Little did I know! I know that as we trust in the Lord... he will make it all work out. He's shown me that countless times on my misson. I'm thankful for those reminders :) 

I love you!
Gu Jiemei

One of our cute members braided my hair:) I don't let very many people do that!!! haha. My head is way too tender:)
Last pictures with Sister Fenlaw, wearing our National Taiwan University T-shirts !!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

November is the Month of Miracles

So it was halloween this week in case you were wondering. And so that's awesome. But doesn't really effect me much. My companion on the other hand is one of those plan for months, full on make-up/hair, stay up all night and celebrate kind of halloween hosts. So as representatives of Jesus Christ we very honorably put together this lovely number. 

Can you tell who we are?

(The answer is not Hogwarts students)

We are ELDERS bum bu bum bum bum bum bum. (When you read this think of the "We are Farmers" jingle from a while back)
There's no Halloween in Taiwan so there's no trick-or-treating, but we did participate in another great Taiwanese tradition which involves traveling to the nearest Family Mart and buying Haagen Dasz ice cream. Woo hoo!
Dear Family & Friends,
 A couple of awesome miracles from this week:

1- So about a week ago we were contacting outside of an MRT station and we met the cutest old toupee wearing man. He didn't have time to pray with us and honestly I was pretty sure he ting bu donged everything we said. But he set up to meet with us another time. He said he wanted to buy us some drinks but he somehow already knew that we don't drink coffee. So that was cool! Anyways, we set up, but he said he couldn't give us his address or phone number and wouldn't let us write down the appointment on a card insisting that he would remember.

So this week we had our appointment with him! We set up for a lady in our ward to come and help us out. We met her at the MRT station and started explaining the situation as we approached the 7/11 we had set up to meet with this guy at. And as we were approaching we saw this man in a completely white Navy Uniform. We then realized it was our investigator! He was perfectly on time at the exact place we had set up with him! So we started walking over to where we could sit down and drink some mango smoothie and got to know each other. He was pretty hard of hearing and I wasn't sure he understood what we were saying. So I was kind of preparing myself for one of those "teach them how to pray and how to feel God's love" kind of lessons. 

He then proceeded to tell us about his long time Christian friend and about all the bible stories he had told him. He talked about Adam and Noah and Moses and so I figured lets give him a shot. So I started with "Thank you for talking with us today. Today we want to share a story with you about another very important prophet named Joseph Smith." He became very quiet. Which was very surprising because he was a little bit rambly. So we started to share about the apostasy and the first vision and he didn't say a word. 

At one point he stopped us and said, pointing to the picture of Joseph Smith, "Now, this man is a prophet of God. He was 14 years old when he wanted to know what church was true. He knew that God would answer his prayer. So he prayed. And God and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Is that about right?"

We were stunned. He then proceeded to do that with every gospel point we had taught him. We were SOOO excited. It was such a huge miracle and built my faith so much that God is preparing people for the gospel. He heard about the bible from a Christian missionary when he was 19 years old and the impact that woman had on him has carried throughout his entire life up until right now where he is prepared to hear the full truth. 

God loves his kids.


So Sister Fenlaw and I were preparing to go finding for an hour on Sunday and were about to set some goals. We discussed how many new Investigators we would have and I felt 3. That's a very high number for that hour of the day. haha. But I was feeling very full of faith. We then prayed that we would be able to find some humble seekers of truth and started on our way.


So we recently learned that we can chuan the jiao inside of college campuses. So we decided we would go inside of the Taipei University of Education. As we walked in, I saw a young man sitting on the fence playing with his phone. I almost walked past him, but went back and talked to him. We shared with him that we were representatives of Jesus Christ and we watched the Because He Lives video. He told us he was catholic and believed in Jesus Christ and such. We then asked him if there was anything we could pray for him for and he said this, "I'm just really looking for direction for my future." Can you say golden answer?? Yes. yes you can. And yes you should. We then talked to him about baptism. He said he had been baptized before but he literally said these words (but in Chinese), "Would I have to be baptized again?" We said yes. "Well, I was really little when I was baptized so I don't even remember it. I would be totally ok with being baptized again. I would feel better if it was my decision." For you returned missionaries, CAN YOU SAY THE DISTRICT?? (Totally a quote from Jackie)

Sister Fenlaw then had the brilliant idea that we should invite him to the YSA FHE happening that night in a few hours. So we showed him the address and he looked it up right there. We actually didn't know how to get to the FHE either so we might have also needed to look at the map... he then realized that we didn't know where it was or have the technology to conveniently find it on our own and volunteered to borrow a bike from one of his friends and ride there with us. We told him we had some more missionary work to do, but we would see him there at 6:30. We then parted ways. 

About half an hour later we got a text in broken english telling us exact directions on how to get to the FHE and what we would see there and such from our new friend. 

He then showed up at the FHE. He's the one sitting next to me in the blue sweatshirt. It was my favorite FHE ever :)

YSA FHE with our investigator in the royal blue:)
3- We got to go to the Taipei Temple this week:
IT WAS SO AMAZING. I just love the temple so much. This time I actually got to do initiatories in Chinese. That was very interesting to see how far my Chinese has come :) So I went through and did two names of initiatories in Chinese. Then I got to do some in English. As soon as the words came out of the workers mouth I started to cry. I just love the cleansed feeling you get during the initiatory. The Spirit really does speak to us best in our native tongue. It made me understand better why we learn Chinese. We learn it so that they can feel the comfort I felt when I heard the english initiatory. We also got to go to a session. It was the best!!!

Today in my studies the theme that the spirit kept pushing me towards was Trust in the Lord. Which is kind of exciting, but kind of terrifying. Something Sister Fenlaw and I are always saying is that The Lord is preparing us for THE THING. We don't know what THE THING is, but we are pretty sure that it's pretty good and has something to do with our eternal Salvation. I feel like being in Xinan has been very refining for me. But I'm so thrilled to be coming out of these 2 transfers a better missionary and a  better person. I know that God really is preparing us for something. I know that trusting in the Lord is the key. Even though I forget that all the time... I know it's true.

Thanks so much for all the love and support!!!
Gu Jiemei
Luo Jiemei took us to the top of Taipei 101!!!
101 stories up!!! Very, very high:) haha