Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movecall 4 Week 2 Sun 12/27/09

‏Dear Family,

Merry 3 days after Christmas!

FYI my preparation day has been moved to Monday permanently so take that into account for emailing me. It was so good to talk to you all!

The cold is settling back in, it was nearly hot for a few days, and today it is grey and windy and chilly rain. It is good weather to cuddle up with a book, so when we head home after this I will have a good cuddle with the Book of Mormon haha.

I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to anyone for as long as we would have liked! We are told to keep our calls to about 40 minutes and no more than an hour and I was definitely on the side of an hour.

On the 24th, we knew that we were having a mission activity, but it was a big secret. We just knew that we had to meet at the trainstation at 4:15 AM, which meant waking up at 3 since the station isn't in our area. Then a bus pulled up and we got on, and found out we were going north to Sun Moon Lake. Sun Moon Lake really was gorgeous, surrounded by green mountains. That day was special because there were a bunch of Chinese government officials on recess from negotiations there. There were Falun Dafa* protestors meditating all over the place in protest. The best thing about the mission activity was that the whole mission was together! That means that I got to see all of my old companions, including my MTC companions I hadn't see in months. At Sun Moon lake, we saw a couple different temples and took lots of pictures. Then we went to Taichung for a big dinner and short Christmas devotional. We didn't get back until after 11, and had woken up at 3. This would make anyone tired, but when you are a missionary you still wake up at 6:30 and go about your day and you can't take naps.

Christmas was the BUSIEST day of my whole mission. We were still sleep deprived from the two nights before, and for our exercise we just ran to 7 to buy phone cards and ran home. Then it was a super quick shower, talking to you (I missed half of personal study and Sister Busath didn't think it was allowed but I thought it was fine). Then we planned our lessons and skipped the rest of companion study because Sister Busath told some nonmember we would come to the church at 2 when we usually need to plan until 2:30. So we planned, opened presents at lunch, finished planning and raced to go meet Rita, head back to back lessons for a couple hours, then rode an hour to Shaogong where we had a baptism. We didn't have time for dinner, and the baptism ended up taking two hours instead of 45 minutes, then we had to hurry and ride the hour back to the chapel to put an investigator in a baptismal interview at 9:30 PM. Christmas dinner was two minutes long, eating a fast food chicken burgers we picked up on the way to the church. We didn't get home until 10:15 (usually we go to bed at 10:30). It was insane. It was probably a blessing to be so busy, and especially to have a baptism - a white Christmas! But I'm glad our days aren't usually like that.

Thank you all for the presents! I liked everything! The face wash was the one I wanted, thank you for your efforts Daddy :) And the tights and gloves will be much appreciated and used. Shelly, the ring fits, thank you! Now I just need to learn German (is that the other language on it?) Sister Busath says thank you for the stocking. I was also very grateful for the toothbrush - it wouldn't be Christmas without a pound of Reeses chocolate and a new toothbrush :) We loved all the Christmas decorations and missionaries for years to come to enjoy them too I'm sure.

My companion does a "Tastes of Taiwan" section in her emails every week home and I think I will start. This weeks feature: sugar cane. If you are ever in Asia and you see people taking the skin off long poles of what looks like thin bamboo, it is probably sugarcane. They cut off the outside and inside its white and they give you a piece about a foot long. You bite off pieces, chew the fibers and spit them out. It's pretty much pure sugar water. It's interesting to try but not something I will not bother eating on my own. An investigators father cut it for us.

Alright, time is up.

I love you all so much!

Sister Johnson

Monday, December 28, 2009

tmas Calling‏- Sun 12/20/09

I am authorized to either call on the evening of the 25th or the morning of the 26th. I'm kind of annoyed that they didn't email us this until right now, when there is no time to coordinate with you. One way or another, I will call. To one phone or another. I am allowed to call from 9:00pm - 10:30pm on Christmas (it's like, 7 in the morning for you) or from 6-10:30 am on the 26th (Christmas evening for you, around 6-7 pm.) So pretty much I have no idea when or on what phone I will contact you. Feel free to email the mission office.

I guess I will probably try to call you around 8:30 or 9 in the morning Taiwan time on the 26th. This will be in the evening on Christmas day your time, I have no idea what time. This means I probably won't get to talk to my sisters, which makes me really disappointed.

I'm very stressed about calling home because I don'tk now if you will be In elko or not when I call - what if the weather is bad or you are still traveling and your cell phone doesn't have service because youa re in the boonies? Anyway if I don't get ahold of you I will keep trying your cell phones (I know mother's number too 775 934 9604).

try not to go out in Christmas eve from the hotel in case I get permission to call it would be earlier about 6 pm

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

divine compassion never flees nor fails us‏- Dec. 16th

Dear Family!

Guess what - I am calling home in 9 days!

This is what I need:- The phone number of whoever or whereever I am calling. It would be nice if it was a landline with more than one phone so I could talk to more of you at a time at once - I hear that we are encouraged to only talk for about 45 minutes. If not, then no worries.- The Pennytalk or whatever phone card number that mother alreayd has money on. I need - the international access number (not the US number), the pin, etc. I can buy a card here too, just let me know. I will probably call Christmas night, which will be the morning of the 26th for me. If someone could check the time change between Utah and Taiwan that would be useful. I think we are 14 hours ahead...I'm not sure. Okay, that is that.

So remember Sister Wang- the investigator that has a bird in tupperware? Well, it turns out she has two birds. More importantly, she read the Book of Mormon in about a week, then gave it to her father to read. Then I accidentally left my English Book of Mormon at her apartment, and when we came back two days later, she had read IN ENGLISH through half of Alma. She had a dictionary on top of it when we came. It is honestly amazing. She still doesn't grasp that we aren't like other Christian churches, but she set a baptismal goal. First she didn't want to set it because she had already been baptised, and then when we convinced her, she was adamant that she had to be baptised tomorrow and didn't want to wait until she had been to sacrament meeting three times. She reminds me of Peter when Christ is washing his feet. First Peter says, Don't wash my feet! and Christ says, I have to wash your feet , and then Peter says, Okay, then wash all of me! and Christ says, No, just let me do what needs to be done in the proper way. That was a terrible summary, but I hope you know what I am talking about.

We also have a really great investigator, Sister Song, who is very beautiful and wealthy and so socially able. I just love Sister Song. She has a Christmas baptismal goal, and hopefully will make it on time! We moved her goal up two weeks to meet a challenge from our Zone leaders to have a White Christmas (with baptisms!)

GUESS WHAT. I went to Monkey Mountain today. At first I was not impresssed. We had gotten lost, then when we found the trailhead we happened to time it to be in the middle of a huge tourist group of Asians from Britian. It didn't look like a hike, it was a boarded path in the middle of a bunch of tourists. There was not a monkey in sight. I was ready to leave. When we saw an unmarked dirt path split off, my companion and I took a minute to decide if we should take it, though we didn't know where it lead. A native said to us in Chinese, this way and waved us. He went up ahead and we looked at each other, looked at the group of tourists and decided to follow the dirt trail. On the way we ran into a man, walking stick in hand, hiking barefoot. It was...insane. It was the roughest trail I have ever hiked and he had no shoes. When we got to the top, it wasn't what I was expecting. It was a wooded area, you couldn't even see the view, but there were chairs and soft music and people lounging and laughing. It was really peaceful. There was work out equipment there, people were doing sit ups or stretching their backs or lifting weights. Others just sat and drank tea from huge silver pots that were apparently there for public use. It was like a camp. It had an amazing feel, really peaceful. We hadn't seen any monkeys, but I decided I didn't care. It just had been a really great hike. I love the city but my heart had missed nature. Then on the way down...we saw monkeys! A lot of them! Here is what I learned from observing them in the wild:Monkeys really are adorable, They really do have red butts, and they smell much better in the wild than at the zoo. We took about a million pictures. It was so great.

I'm not sure how much time I have left, so I will send this off now.

I love you all very much!

Oh, my next preparation day is Monday, so write me on Saturday or so and I should get it.

It is move call! I hope I stay here and stay with Sister Busath. Really, really I do.

Sister Johnson

Cami's memorial to Fish: (separate email to us)

Fish, Fish was a good fish. He swam well, he always was ready to do a dance when I came into the room and eat food off my finger. He was the only fish who ever lived longer than a month in the family. He survived numerous trips back and forth between Elko and was a strong fish, a survivor. He enjoyed eating, swimming, and pooping. He had an excellent modeling career and spent his last days in the loving care at the Johnson loony bin. He was a source of colsolation and joy to all who knew him. We know, even now, Bear and Fish are looking down on us, by our side whenever we need them. We will see them again someday. May Fish rest in peace. Amen.

Cami's message to Donna:

it sounds like you are doing a great job at institute! I'd want to go for sure :) Fish will be okay. Don't be sad, he is by my side always.
I love you so much!
Talk to you SOON!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tue 12/08/09

Dear Family

It is hard to believe it's the Christmas season when today it was hot even without a sweater. There are more Christmas lights than I expected here. Our apartment building today put up a Christmas tree and some lights. A really descent number of places have lights up. In 7-11 (we spend a lot of time there) they play Christmas music and it is heavenly. My favorite is when the miaos (daoist or buddist temples) put up Christmas lights. How considerate of them to celebrate Jesus' Birth with us!

This week has been good! Zhu ya ci got baptised and confirmed this weekend and we were so happy. She is so sweet. I will never forget when we were teaching The Sabbath to her. In Chinese, it is translated directly as Rest Day. "So, Zhu ya ci, today we want to teach you a commandment. Do you know what the Sabbath (Day of Rest) is?"She nodded."That's so good! When is it?""Death..." She whispered, her eyes big, hardly looking at us. In Chinese, they say someone is sleeping or resting when they die. I only I wonder what was going through her mind as we told her we were going to teach her a commandment about Death Day. Poor thing!But we cleared that up and she got baptised! Rejoice!

This week we had another investigator have an interview. I will call her... Sister Small to protect her identity. My companion told me that they suspected Sister Small had mental problems and had acted really weird when they visited her before. Our district leader told us to teach her and put her in an interview and the proper judge would deem her accountable or not. When I visited Sister Small, she seemed a little odd but generally fine. She would look at us a little strangely and laugh sometimes, but I always thought it was my Chinese. Then... on the day of her interview she was saying weird things. She thought that my hair had changed colors. She thought that it was black before. She wasn't looking at us normally. She told our district leader his pants were too tight hahaha. He came out of the interview looking disturbed. Things like, she says she has children, but doesn't know their names (she doesn't have any). We set her up and interview with President Yang, emeritus area authority. As soon as she showed up for that one, we knew she wasn't going to pass. “Oh, she is on one today...” When we introduced President Yang, she just laughed. She was not there. It was disconcerting. So, she was deemed unaccountable at this time so doesn't need baptism unless she gets medicated and normal. It's not our job to get her medicated or normal, so I guess we just will see her in the celestial kingdom.

Alright, times up
I love you

Cami's response to my email to her:

It is good to hear from you.

Yes, try moving Fish away from the Window to a good warm spot. He usually swims less and slower during the winter but try to get him to do tricks, it may cheer him up. I've had him for about a year and a half. I got him in May 2008 I think.

Don't stress too much about your lessons. I'm sure you are a great teacher. Maybe you could practice presenting for Daddy and have him give you feedback, or in front of a mirror.

And about getting other things done, I've found having a planner on my mission is very useful. You write down your weekly goals for all aspects (spiritual, physical, intellectual, etc.) and the tasks that need to get done, and then make plans when to do each one.

Yeah, I'm not sure when the last time was I was at Grandpa and Grandma's house...literally years ago. Certainly before MIddle school I'd bet.

Okay, I better hurry and write the family email or won't have any time left! I love you! FML -

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

thanks for you‏- Dec. 2, 2009

Dear family-

How was Thanksgiving?

The night before Thanksgiving (last Preparation day actually) some English students planned a little "Thanksgiving" activity. We had a lesson we needed to start promptly after class or we would be late getting in, but someone insisted. "This is all for you!" So we ate Chinese noodles and a slice of turkey standing in the hall outside the church kitchen. It was a nice thought and really very awful. "This is not Thanksgiving." was all I could think of. I started to get *really* trunky (missionary talk for missing home) for the first time.

That night at about ten oclock, we got a call and I answered it. I was expecting a Taiwanese woman and was very suprised to hear an American man's voice. He is a member in our ward and invited us and the Elders to Thanksgiving dinner at his house the next day. Oh, it saved me! Somehow, just being in an American home with other Americans and eating Traditional American Thanksgiving Food really helped. I may not have been with my family or at my home, but a holiday that is very important to me did not go unregarded as it has so often for me in the last 5 years. It was really a blessing and tender mercy that I needed. So, the moral of the story is make sure the missionaries are going somewhere on holidays!

On Sunday my companion and I were contacting at a light on our way somewhere. The person I was talking to did not set up and drove off. My companion was still talking to me. A man pulled up kind of in front of me, chewing on a biscuit and looking at me. He looked like someone that had a life of hard manual labor, alcohol and binglan chewing*. I tried not to look at him because we aren't supposed to talk to males unless our companion is within arms reach and involved in the conversation. "Hello" he said. "Come to church!" (Usually that is all it takes to end these kinds of conversations.) "Poor you." And he put a sack of of hot dumplings on my bicycle. I tried to turn them down but he just drove off.

Does anyone remember watching the old church movie On the Way Home? We watched it once, probably about 15 years ago, my companion had never seen it. All I remembered was there was a little girl in a family who died. We are working with an investigator whose spouse died so we decided to show it to her. We didn't have time to preview it and make sure we actually thought it would be a good fit. When it started we weren't even sure it was the right movie. My companion and I kept looking at each other like, is this it? It was so cheesy and early 90s! At the end though I was really moved and I think our investigator was too. It's about a family and their little girl dies, but as they accept the gospel and are baptised their family improves in all aspects, and gives them hope.

I've noticed I've started to get really easily touched by things. Man, those stories at the back of the Ensign just about get me every time! Whenever I hear of people's aches and how they are relieved by kindness of others it just moves me. Sister Busathe says the same thing has been happening to her. She says that the hardness of the world has been removed.

This Saturday my dear investigator Zhu Ya Ci is going to get baptised. It is amazing and a miracle. The first time I met her, we ended up having two investigators at once so I had to teach the lesson alone with a member. The member, despite her good intentions, was off on tangents and unhelpful. My Chinese got tonguetied and I tried to teach Zhu Ya Ci the Word of Wisdom and stay on topic. "So, do you think you will have a problem with any of the five things we just talked about? (tea, coffee, alchol, tobacco, drugs)" "Yes...I drink tea, coffee and alcohol and smoke." I didn't even know what problem to tackle first. We have had investigators that don't get baptised just from a problem with ONE of those things, let alone four. We are supposed to figure out when they use it and why and then have a plan for them not to. I just struggled through it, told her to get over coffee and tea and we'd talk more later. It was the worst lesson I've ever taught and afterwards I said to Sister Busathe, "If she gets baptised, I will know the work has NOTHING to do with me, and the church is true."And she is getting baptised this Saturday. Zhu Ya Ci is so amazing, she has had so many things to get over and she has done it in 5 weeks. Honestly, her getting baptised has nothing to do with what we have taught or done. She is just amazing.

Times up

*binglan is a kind of drug. It is a nut you chew and turns your mouth and teeth red. It literally looks like you are bleeding from the mouth. It is used mostly by the poor and those who do hard labor because it is numbing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a week of a lot of randomness‏- Tue 11/24/09 11:20 PM

Oh my dear family.

Happy Thanksgiving. I'm sorry I can't be there (again!) with you but I know I am where I need to be. I really, really, really am praying I will be able to be home for next year but I'm still not sure when I'll be released. If I am, next year everyone at our house, okay?

This week I went on Sisters Exchanges. It was a blast. I only went one area over to Zoing and just loved Gaosiong even more. Zoing was the cleanest area I have been in, the most modern and western. I guess the most foreigners live there. We visisted a less active who is married to an American and their apartment was so clean and decorated like an American home, oh I loved it. We also had frozen yogurt and mexican food again. The sister I exchanged with was a blast - Sister Kilgore. It just felt good to laugh.

We went to visit an investigator who owns a little restaurant. I had never met her so I didn't know which of the two women in the store were the investigator, her family, customers etc. One woman was staring at us like she knew us so I assumed she was a family member of the investigator. My companion went to greet the woman behind the counter so I assumed this person was NOT who we were there to see, so I said, I'd like to invite you to church and gave her a pamphlet. She was beside herself with excitement to meet us. She told us how she is Christian and was baptised a long time ago and she feels like it was God's plan that we met. And then... Lin: I just have so many questions, so many questions...I don't know if I understand the Bible...Me: Maybe we can help you. What is your question? Lin: I have so many questions... Like why you don't use electricity... I mean that is so amazing, so amazing...Me: ...You think we don't use electricty?... hahahaha...Yes, the woman thought that we were AMISH. Well, I guess we were both wearing dark skirts and riding bicycles... I had wondered before if people look at us the way that I see Amish people and it turns out yes, yes they do :) I am pretty sure that woman was crazy (for reasons beyond what I am mentioning.)

Someone we met last week asked us to come help her clean her house so we figured we could do our service hour there. So we end up getting lost and were an hour late. We went up to her apartment, and it was already clean. It was small and covered in tchoky. I...can't even describe the random things. I want to go back just so I can describe it better. She had a bird she kept in a clear tuperware named Warren. She called her sister and made us talk to her twice, and then wanted to run across the street and bring us coffee. We explained we didn't have a lot of time (being an hour late crunched our schedule), and she disappered into the kitchen. "It smells so good!" She said...(we didn't smell anything...)"It smells so good," she repeated and then came in with a tray, looking pleased with herself. She had made us hotdogs. "Oh yes, those smell so good! Thank are too nice..." And so I have eaten Taiwanese hotdogs. I do NOT want to know what was in them.

I wish you could understand the crazy things and people I see every day.

In my English class, I have students who have given themselves the English names of Wheat, Kiwi, Prince, Milky. And Taiwanese people, bless their hearts, are the most tone deaf people I've ever heard. And Taiwanese people LOVE kareoke. LOVE IT. It doesn't matter how bad they are because the kareoke machines distort their voices to a sort of weird warbling that makes everyone sound exactly the same, pretty much regardless of talent or gender.

Man, so much has happened this week I nearly forgot. Last Thursday we had Zone Conference and Elder Watson of the Seventy was there with his wife touring the mission. He is the Asia Area Authority and recently gave the talk on Temporance in the Saturday afternoon session of Conference. He served here in Gaoxiong when there was only one zone for all of taiwan, one for Japan and one for Hong Kong. He laid bricks in the Gaoxiong chapel. It was just such an amazing meeting. We all had to prepare short talks on Christlike attributes and were told 30 missionaries were be speaking so it better be good, Elder Watson was going to be there. I had been having trouble preparing it because I wanted to speak on charity but nothing was coming. As the prelude started I jotted down a couple notes about John 5:30 and my talk finally felt like what it should be. I was so nervous though - I hate public speaking and chances were I was going to be called on. I prayed that if I had to speak, I would go quickly or else I wouldn't be able to listen to any thing anyone else would say. Then, Elder Watson pulled out a box with all of our names, he chose mine to go second - a tender mercy indeed! My talk went well and Elder Watson, his wife and President Hoer all commented on it. After I was done I could just relax and enjoy the meeting. It was sooo good. I got an interview with President Watson afterward, which was nice.

Alright, time is about up, I love you all, I am thankful for my family!
Happy Thanksgiving,
Sister J.