Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ups and Downs of Missionary Work: A Small Miracle

AHHHHHHHHH. Last week of the transfer excitement happening already. Since it's the last one I'll ever go through, I'm kind of apathetic about it, but I don't mean that in a negative context. What I mean is that I honestly couldn't care less about what happens to me. No matter what, I've already determined I'm going to work really hard, but have a lot of fun. The other details will work out themselves by inspiration and revelation this week as President decides who to put where. But it's fun to watch the excitement other people get because of it. There are 2 Elders who serve with us in the Taoyuan second ward. Just us 4. The ward in Tao 2 is super supportive. So, even though I've only gone to the Taoyuan church once for church because the way things just worked out, I know a lot of the members and love them a lot...they sign up to feed us, and I know it's important to them that we come, so I've done my best to make every appointment I possibly could. Because of it, I know tons of the members right now, and on a more personal level than just church. Well, one of the Elders is already passing around his Bye Bye book like he's moving. Haha. I personally told him I wouldn't sign it until he was sure he was moving. But I'm just lazy like that. :)

So yeah, other then the normal slight buzz of excitement from the uncertainty of where you will be and what you will be doing in a very week from now, this week has been really unique and full of some lowest of lows and highest of highs.

Saturday was a particularly interesting day. In the morning, we went out and bought some flowers for Jian Jiaying's baptism. Well, because there is no way that the flowers will fit in my basket, my companion clipped her bag to the back of the bike, and put the flowers in her basket. It was raining and we had spent forever getting ready so we could look nice for the baptism...but were prepared too..I brought my straightener to fix my hair during the lunch hour if necessary. Well, somewhere from the flower shop to the church, my companions bag disappeared. That bag had a lot of important stuff in it. Because she carries a bigger bag, she carries all our stuff. She had potential records for the area for the last 6 months or so, that we call on spare time...she had all our DVDs we both had bought, pictures we use for our lessons, and just a lot of stuff important to her personally as well. She claimed in the bag, it was probably about 200 dollars worth of things. (American dollars) So, of course, even though we were supposed to eat pizza with the Elders and a member of the bishopric buying us pizza, we decided we could be a little late for that, and went back to look for the bag. This time, I'd taken off my raincoat, and putting it back on and going back out, I got really soaked...and when we went back, my companion went all the way back to the flower shop super fast....I even lost her for a couple minutes, but in the end, neither of us could find the bag. We thought someone probably threw it away. It had no cash in it and since it was raining it was just put in a pink garbage bag. Well, we came back to the church a little sad, and the Elders were/ being quieter than usual as well. We didn't end up eating the pizza until a lot later than scheduled, but Brother Wang just messed around on his computer until we were ready...and so it ended up being good. I was really sad about the bag, and I took it out on my hair. I was really frustrated the rain made my hair SUPER frizzy, and the straightener wouldn't fix it. Haha, so we were all not in the best moods at the baptism, but I'm grateful for Brother Wang, finally, we ate the pizza and it helped our mood to talk to him and eat with all the people who arrived early for the baptism.

Eventually, Jian Jiaying arrived. She was really cute. I felt bad because she was a little weary about the fact that she had to be baptized 4 times, which is really bad luck in this culture, but I think despite that, she was happy. She got to talk to a couple friends and really liked the food at the end...a return missionary from (Yuanbo) did an awesome job at preparing snacks for after, and she really liked them. Also, I just really was able to feel the spirit during her baptism. Even though most of us are trained singers, meaning we can sound really nice after practice...and we didn't really have a bunch of time to practice, we sounded really nice in the end (I thought) and I was just really excited for Jiaying. She's really cute, and even though she doesn't say a lot and I haven't known her for a long time, I really love her. I think she's a really good child to her mother. Her mom is a little bit of a pusher, and probably gives her a lot of stress, but she works so hard to do well in school. She has a lot of strength and intelligence. So it was a really exciting experience.

Also super exciting, we invited Sandy and her 3 kids to the baptism, and they all came, all the way from Daxi to Taoyuan! Because they live in the other ward, but they really wanted to see a baptism...And they liked it a lot too. They stayed after eating desserts for a good 30-40 minutes. Sandy told me when she left, that she really loved the feeling during the baptism. Our investigator Shirley came as well, and said she was touched by Jiaying's mom's testimony. I too really felt the Holy Ghost during the baptism. A lot of people mentioned that they could, and so I thought it was a super successful baptism...the best ones are the ones with the Spirit. That's how you can know it was good, is when people were able to come and be edified by the Spirit. So, despite our sadness over our lost bag, we were able to forget it for awhile, and focus on Jiaying and have a really good experience.

After the baptism, we had told the Elders we lost the bag, and they were really insistent that they help us look. We had already looked and weren't sure if it was worth it to take up the Elders time and go look again...and we told one of the Elders...to which he responded by telling me since they were Taiwanese they understood the culture and what would happen to a random bag on the side of the street. So, because they were really positive and hopeful that we could find it, we told them we could go, and kind of partly for their sake because they seemed to want to help so bad...So we waited until everyone left the church, locked it up, said a prayer, and with the Elders and went to go look for the bag again with their assistance. To be honest, my companion and my faith was a little low. We had already looked for quite some time and hadn't been able to find it, and we had just hoped someone would find a way to return it to us. But the Elders faith was really strong! And because of it, we saw a miracle.

We biked back down Xianfu street, the street the church is on, and went the wrong way down a one way street, and only a block from the church, my companion and I biked right into a pink bag set on an overhang out of the rain on the side of the road. It was seriously a miracle. I felt the Spirit so strongly in that moment, the Elders claimed they didn't do anything (they only biked with us for like 90 seconds before we found it) and went on their way, but my companion and I decided they were our heroes. We were really grateful for their faith and example to us, to show us there is hope, and like it says in 3 Nephi 18:20, Heavenly Father will give us things that are right. And lets be honest, most Elders would not go searching for a lost bag with the sisters. They are just classy. So, after the Elders went on their way, my companion and I said a prayer of gratitude standing there under the overhang. We both were laughing and really happy, and all the stress and sadness we'd felt that whole morning just totally evaporated. And it was funnier we both were really touched by the Spirit, so I think our eyes were a little watery and such. Cool experience.

Then, we had a feeling to go see Fang Lizhen. We've been trying to meet with her since I got here, but it's been impossible, and she's not there a lot when we stop by, or if I call and tried to set up, she would say she'd call me, and never did. And she stopped coming to church like she used to...but we stopped by just to see, and she was there! We were able to tell her church was changed to a different building and she said that she'd come. We found out that she is moving to China in two days...and so has been super busy preparing to move...we were so we were glad we told her about church, she wanted to go and tell everyone goodbye. So, she did come to church Sunday towards the end, and was able to say her goodbyes. I was really sad we never got to teach her, but I'm glad she found friends at church and she has a good impression of the church. When the church goes to China, I have her address and phone number to send her in as a referral. Plus, the members love her, so I think they will keep in touch.

That night, we were scheduled to take an investigator to the Taoyuan chapel for stake conference, but it was raining and she didn't want to go...so we just had a lesson with her at the church, but I was really disappointed I really had my heart set on going to stake conference, so again, I was a little sad. I won't lie.

Last, that night, after a lesson with the investigator at that church and dinner, as we took our bikes out to head home, my bike tire popped! Well, this may not sound dramatic, but I forgot to tell you how last week on the way home from MM Meeting, my back tire popped, and they thought it was the inner tube, so they changed that only, then as Sister Lai (we were on exchanges) were biking down, 15 minutes down the road, it popped again. We were across the street from a store, and so we went in and they changed the inside again, they said the tire would probably be fine, so we went out again and within 5 minutes it had popped again! So, then we walked to the church, the rest of the way. We had MM meeting there and had to be at the church. After MM meeting, our awesome MM leader Youan found us and our bikes a ride back to our house, and we walked to a bike store down by our house and were able to get everything fixed perfectly. It took like almost the whole day and was kind of a dramatic process for me to keep blowing out my tires...(back) so when my front tire popped I was NOT happy. And we were in Taoyuan again, and we don't know any close bike stores.

So we called the Zone Leaders for permission to call the Tao 2 Elders, and Elder Lin was really patient with us and explained to me in half English half Chinese how to get there...but I was just really stressed with everything that had been happening and I forgot the difference between right and left, and he kept saying youbien and zuobien, and I didn't know what way I was supposed to be going, so there on the phone with Elder Lin I just started sniffling and he'd be like "do you understand (in Chinese)" And I'd be like "sniff sniff...no, no problem...I'll just ask people on the road" but he was good and explained it like 2 times in Chinese, and even if I thought I wasn't understanding, I think I must have, because I lead us straight there, all the while not knowing exactly what I was doing, I just tried to remember his words....we got home really late, and had to call President, but everyone was patient with me, and things worked out...and we biked home in the falling rain...and I felt like the world was sad with me, so it made me feel better about being sad, because the world was too. Haha.

Sunday I had a similar experience with feeling the most happy I've felt on my mission and really sad at the end too. We had an awesome lesson at a members after eating, and I was just really happy during the dinner and getting to know that member, and the Elders shared the spiritual thought, and S. Zhao started crying, and the spirit was really strong as my companion and I shared and the Elders added to it, and it was just a really a really spiritual lesson, and interesting too as one of the Elders talked about his Twin brother, raised by a different parent and how different they were. Basically the spirit was super super strong during the lesoon part...and I laughed a lot and just felt really happy during the dinner part. We all felt like a big happy family(no time to go into all the details) but then that night, I just had such hope to find a new investigator. We didn't have plans because our appointment was canceled, and I had a strong feeling to go track at a specific place...and the wife invited us in, then they husband came out and said he didn't need us, so then I was just really sad because I seriously put my ENTIRE heart into finding the perfect place to go contacting and I had childlike faith that they would let us in...and it was like, almost, but not quite...and we still had quite a bike ride, so we only had time for just like 3 doors, and that was the only one that opened. Then the whole way home, nobody would listen to me on the scooters, they just were like, no, we are busy, we are Buddhist...and my hope was just so big that we'd find someone. Not sure why. I guess I can just pray that the family will read the pamphlet and come to church...but I just had this STRONG feeling like I was supposed to find someone. That rarely happens, so I felt like my heart was broken when we didn't.

So basically this week, I've learned there is a lot of pain that comes sometimes when you go out and love too much...but even when it hurts, when the good times roll back around, they are so sweet it's ridiculous...so the bitter bads help us even more feel and appreciate the excellent goods...so yeah, this week has been a roller coaster, but I'm extremely happy. Well, no more time! I wrote too much! Ah, we are late. See you later! Love you.

Sister Flora Bruno. Sister Fu.

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