Dear loved ones,
Sorry I'm a couple days late! Today is temple day (yay! we get to attend!) So it is also our P-day instead of the usual Monday. Sorry again, I don't have pictures! :( Next week, I promise. I'll charge my camera tonight!
I'm so blessed to have such great grandparents!! And aunts and uncles and cousins... really, I just have an awesome family! :) I'm super excited to hear about Grandma Gayle's mission call! That is awesome!! Sis. Murri (MTC companion) is from Texas.
Ok! If you haven't seen it already, look up "Apostle in Asia" on lds.org the Elder Holland in Asia video, and follow the other video link too. It's so cool! It's about his visit to the Asian area, and it'll give you all a little bit of insight to my life :)
I'm sending a letter answering a lot of questions from your letters. I get the mail about once a week or every 10 days... so yeah, I get a lot of mail. Thank you! :) Love it!
This week was awesome, the weather has been amazing! Not a ton of rain or a ton of heat, except that little moment of downpour a couple days ago. Well, this week was fun. We went on exchanges with the temple sisters, and they are amazing! Sister Jasperson and I saw some cool miracles this week; one of them was us finding a mom and daughter who were totally willing to listen to us! We were door knocking, and this lady and her daughter came to the door. After talking a bit with us, praying, and starting dicuss the Restoration, she let us in and we were able to have a great, quick, lesson about the Book of Mormon. They seemed interested in it, and she asked great questions. It was so cool to hear someone not ask like, doubting questions or inviting an argument questions, but just simply wanting to understand more! It was cool. I'm also always grateful for the miracle of our safety while riding our bikes! Sometimes (I hope this is ok because I can't help it) I feel like I'm in a Star Wars movie.
I'll have to take a picture so you all can truly understand. But all the scooters (mopeds) work their way to the front of the stoplights, and bikes too. And the red lights have a countdown so as soon as it gets to one, everyone is going, and there are scooters whizzing past you and you all surge forward, and sometimes intersections get weird with left turns and things... yes. Trust me, I've had some serious moments I just am like, wow, I'm a flighter pilot in Star Wars!
I've been getting better at organizing I think, and we are using our Area book more. It's really easy when we update it every night while the other is making calls, it keeps us both engaged in the work and makes our life a lot easier when it's updated! I really want to work on having a better, more motivated attitude while finding. We find a lot, throughout the whole mission we always will be finding, so I want to work this week to find ways to keep it fun and motivated. So, that has been a bit of a challenge.
I totally love Sister Jasperson! She is an awesome
companion, and from the beginning has really made me work, which was a little nerve-wracking at first, but by now we both take turns leading in DPS and WPS, getting to appointments, finding addresses, making phone calls, finding situations, and starting lessons. I'm definitely still getting used to these, but I imagine it'd be a lot harder if she hadn't just thrown me right into it. I love it! We've been working on our one minute message, our stoplight version of the Restoration. It's been really helpful in practicing saying 2-3 sentences each, and we've found our unity, clarity, concise-ness and simplicity have all improved. Also, it really helps figuring out different transition points to baptism. We've been focusing on 10:15 being reflective time, and it is amazing the effect I've seen in my life. I'm more peaceful at night, I'm able to say more focused and sincere prayers because I don't feel rushed to make the 10:30 mark, and we are actually in bed, falling asleep by 10:30, which of course affects our whole next day. It's really been cool, since Sister Jasperson suggested we do that. Well, that's been our week! Contacting, teaching, coordinating, finding, studying, and laughing.
We had a trainers/ trainees meeting this week. President Day talked about something that really comforted me. Everyone says by about the 3rd or 4th transfer you hit a wall, and I just didn't want to hit a wall, or impair the work. So that's been in the back of my mind, but in the meeting President was talking about trials and how we can turn them into stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. And I thought, yeah, let's take that wall and make a ramp! It'll take a bit more effort to get up, and yeah, might hurt a little, but it won't be a hinderance, it'll be something to help me reach a higher potential. It is such a great work we are here to take a small part in! Whenever things get hard, stressful, or discouraging, I take a step back, and remember an analogy Sister Jasperson shared with me.
She said she thinks of us doing this work as: her with her little niece baking cookies. When her niece wants to help Sis. Jasperson welcomes her. She gives her an apron, and the tools she will need, and when her neice asks for the chocolate chips, she moves them towards her. But if her neice were to just break down and cry and say, "It's too hard, there are too many!" Sis. Japserson would try to comfort her and say look, it's all here in this cup. Just take it.
God is there, giving us this opportunity to help him, and we just have to calm down sometimes, and receive the chocolate chips he's giving us. I've also learned, that as long as we have all the ingredients (obedience, prayer, studies, companion unity, the Spirit) there are many different ways to put it all into the bowl to make cookies. I don't know if I explained it well, but it helps me when I get too focused one incident... this work is bigger than us! And I love that.
One more really cool thing, we are planning a baptism for Saturday!! Our sweet Ye JM is being baptized by her son on Saturday and so we are putting together the program, trying to get as many members involved as possible. It'll be awesome!
Well, lots of love, and sweat, and curly hair from Taiwan (I think it gets curlier everyday... ). The gospel is true!!!
Love, Sister Smith
I hope ya'lls week was as great as mine! Ah! The field is awesome! It was actually quite hard the first four days because I was just so tired! I realized too, these are real people! Real lives, and problems, and I am asking them to change their whole lives. Its not really me, it's the Lord, but it's coming from a young American who can barely speak the language... obviously this is the Lord's work because people actually want to keep listening to us. :) Their are so many spiritual blessings from a mission, but its also awesome to be able to go to cool cities and sites. Our first day we ran to the Shank hai Shek memorial (I think that's his name...) and it was awesome to see. So much Chinese culture everyday!
Ok, so I'm realizing now how hard it is to talk to people, but we just go for it... I've only chased down like three people so far (meaning I walk with them for a bit trying to get them to take the Restoration tract) ... :) It's lots of fun. Super cool moment though! When I focus, and I'm trying to just listen to the investigator, the Spirit makes up the difference in my vocab ability and while sometimes my companion does translate, I'm able to understand the jist of what they are saying. It was amazing when we met this lady and she rejected us, but eventually let us in and told us this story about her how she and her husband are split and her son lives with him... well, I only really picked out "son", but I knew what her story was. It was an amaing moment to help me realize, when it comes to God's children, as long as we show we are willing and are trying, he really will make up the difference and help us spread our testimony.
Many miracles from datongqu this week! We were able to meet some really awesome less actives, find out their situation, and let them know we are here to bring them back and do everything we can to help them. We are excited about that, and we had two encounters with awesome restoration lessons with husbands (one of a member and one of an invesigator) who haven't before been too inclined towards the church. Both times the Spirit really was there testifying to them. And then of course there are miracles of safety! This is my first week on a bike... I'll just say I learned really quick my skirt flapping in the wind was soon replaced on my priority list. It's crazy but amazing to bike in this traffic! I honestly love it, and while at first I didn't really like the idea of reflective vests, I quickly have become grateful. I know as well, that as long as we are obeying the safety guidelines and schedule rules we'll be protected. Also, bike contacting is fun! We get some interesting people... and I'm still getting used to people staring or saying "Hey, Americans!" (And then to see their faces when we start speaking Chinese... Sister Jasperson says it never gets old.)
We were able to get some awesome peikes (member present lessons) this week, a couple of sisters in our area are really on fire about missionary work. We have goals for the week to get more involved though. To ask members if they have even just one hour they could set aside to come work with us.
Chinese is challenging, but I don't think it seems as much of a challenge to overcome anymore. Everytime this week when I have needed to tesify or communicate or understand what someone was saying, the Chinese was there- from the Spirit of course. I either can pick out enough words to piece their story together or (and this is super awesome) I get a feeling of what they are saying. I love being a missionary!
Studies are great, I love personal study and companionship study is also awesome. I love my companion! It's easy to talk to Sister Jasperson, and she is so great at teaching, I think it's been really great to learn how to focus and set goals, that has been hard for me in the past. I'm just super excited to keep seeing miracles, and having fun while doing the Lord's work here in Taiwan. I'm excited for the rain, though riding in it is not my favorite thing I've done since getting here. :) Glasses also make it hard. I don't know if I'd rather mess with the hassle of contacts or glasses... but I'm grateful for being able to see at all :)
Food is still awesome! Veggies with rice, or meatbalss with vegggies, or eggs with rice and veggies... yeah. Throw some chocolate in there with oatmeal and you got my life :) But it's super good meat and noodles and veggies. Love it here!
I'm excited for General Conference, here because of translation and things we'll watch it this coming weekend. It's our brothers and sisters we are serving. We just have to remember, it's their agency to reject or be offended, but it's our job to invite everyone. The gospel's true!
Love, Sister Smith
First email from Taiwan!
I love it here! Hello family! This is your international-traveling daughter :) haha, yes, it was fun to talk to you all for a bit while I was traveling! I'm writing in my journal (I'll actually start writing more... just I'm so exhausted by the end of the day!) I'm learning more and more the best prep for a mission you could have is read Preach my Gospel, and actually try some of the activities in there. Read the scriptures, and don't just read through the lessons in chapter 3, but get to chapter 4 about the spirit, or 9 about ways to find people, or 10 about teaching skills, or 2 about studying skills. So many things in this book also relate to daily life :)
Mom, Dad, just hang in there. Thank you for your prayers (I assume you are praying for me... because I'm receiving help from angels everyday.) The plane ride was long, but we all made it, and first two days of training was awesome. Now, I'm with my trainer, Sister Jasperson. She is amazing! She is so faithful, funny, and obedient. She loves the people, and is constantly recognizing areas we can improve then setting goals so we can improve. I love contacting. It honestly is probably one of my favorite things. We see so many miracles here! The Taiwanese are so kind, and hard working. But here's something that took me a few days to get used to, people literally haven't heard of Christ, or of our church. We meet people, introduce ourselves and say our purpose is to help them come to Christ and be baptized. It's amazing how many people actually stop with us and talk. It just goes to show that the gospel is true and that the Spirit touches their heart. Church was interesting, like 50 members, maybe, but that are really great. Many Taiwanese (at least in my area) speak a little bit of English, which is kind of cool. I'm in Taibei, (Taipei) DaTongQu is the district. I'm excited to get more people to church and get our investigators baptized, and on the path to the celestial kingdom.
Well, I'm short on time because I also had to write president (who is awesome!) I love President and Sister Day. They are... I can't even describe them. But they are so fun, and spiritual, and Sister Day has some Tennessee spunk in her. President Day is truly inspired. Yeah, next week I'll write faster to him and hopefully have more time. The language isn't as bad as I thought it'd be. The Spirit is amazing. It has helped me already countless times, understand Chinese when I know in my mind I didn't have the vocabulary. Speaking is harder, but Sister Jasperson is so amazing about pushing me to speak and instigate many of the conversations, make the phone calls, and make me push myself to use Chinese. It's an amazing culture out here. Just, different.... yeah, but amazing. The food is also fabulous. There have been a few times we don't know exactly what we're eating, but we eat it and it's really good. :) haha! lots of noodles and rice, with pumpkin, other vegetables, pork, chicken, squid, mushroom, papaya, zhenzhu ( a little black fruit thing), seaweed... yeah. Some really delicious stuff! Soy milk and rice milk are big out here so that's good for me :) Also, the water has to be filtered so while we drink lots of water (because of the humidity and heat) we also have juice sometimes too. Warm water is a thing here... people don't usually put ice in it. Well, this is my life now, and I love it. It's just getting hot so everyone keeps saying we're in for a treat :)
Ok, hope everything's great! love you all, things here are not too expensive thats good, cuz we eat along the street most days. Still can't really speak the language, but I have faith that it's okay and everything will be fine!
Love you all lots!
I'm Sister Smith, missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'm serving in the Taiwan, Taipei mission until July 2015.