Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm so happy you are alive!‏ Feb. 22, 2010

Do you know what is great? The fact that my whole family is not dead. I hadn't gotten emails in two weeks and when I didn't have any today I had a panic attack for about five minutes that the whole family was dead, ten minutes that just Mother and Daddy were dead in Belize and the sisters didn't know how to tell me, and then called the office to figure out what was going on. Apparently they changed the webaddress of the church email as well as my email account. So hooray! No one is dead and I am once again getting emails.

Things have been good. I don't have much time left because I spent about half wondering why I still haven't heard from anyone and then reading the emails that you all very faithfully still were sending me. I'll try to write more in a minute, but today just may be individual emails!

Sister Johnson

Cami's note to Donna:

It sounds like you have had fun! I can't wait to see some pictures. I'll try to send some home soon myself :) Really, mennonites and Chinese people in Belize? Isn't Belize in South America? I had no idea it was so...diverse down there!

Don't worry, I don't think I've drawn out money in awhile. I probably will in a few weeks or so, but I withdrew about 200$ back when I first got my card out and have been using it since - there aren't a whole lot of other expenses, I may need to buy some things soon though. Don't send the bank card yet - I will think of some things you can send with it :)
Four minutes and I've still got 2 people to email

I'm glad you are home safe!


Monday, February 15, 2010

I hope you know how depressing it is not to have anyone email me.

In other news, Happy Chinese New Year - Guonian. Yesterday was the Lunar New Year It is the biggest holiday of the year here, sort of like Christmas. It lasts a week plus, and everyone goes home for the holiday, almost no matter what. I heard in the former Gaoxiong Mission, some Taiwanese missionaries that had nonmember families were allowed to go home for the New Year dinner because it is that big of a deal.(It's not allowed as of this year.)

I'm not sure exactly what they do at Guonian for a week besides eat and rest. I guess they also bai-bai and give each other fruit and red envelopes. Nearly everything is closed though, including the restaurants so we have to eat inside. Sign up sheets went up around the wards to invite us over to eat so we haven't had to cook much yet. We had 3 meals at members houses on New Years eve, like those missionaries that eat three Christmas dinners. Because we, the sisters cover two wards we have a ridiculous number of people that have invited us to eat at their house. There is a new rule however that we can't eat with the Elders so we are letting the Elders take the appointments that are double booked. Elders can eat and eat and never be full.

The word fish sounds like the word prosperous, so they eat fish to have a prosperous new year. We have had panfried fish at every meal with members this week. And I mean a whole fish, with the head, tail, skin still on. Everyone just sort of just digs in their chopsticks to the midpart and pull out a bit of meat. It's not bad. I'm just glad no one invited me to eat the eye. The eye is considered the best part and it is an honor to eat it.

Other things we have had at every meal- a kind of reddish sausage that you eat with a vegetable they told me is garlic, but doesn't look like garlic the way I know it. Also, hot pot, which is almost like fondue but it is in water instead of oil - they put a bunch of meatballs, vegetables, fish, tofu byproducts, dumplings, etc in a boiling pot in the table and you just pull out what you want. The first time I had it was my second day on island and I didn't like it. Now I think it's good.

This week the work has been slower because of the holiday. Half of the time it is an excuse, but everyone really is busy. I mean, would you have time to meet with the missionaries on Christmas? Probably not.

It has been good though, we've seen a lot of miracles. We rode our bikes over an hour in the rain on Guonian to meet with a former investigator, which turned out to hopefully be worth it. She will hopefully get baptised either this week or next week. She is out of town so it's hard to get a hold of her, so we are hoping she will still be committed. She has my same xing - Zhan, so that makes me really happy.

Anyway, times up.
Happy new year.

How depressing. Not a single email, and the mail doesn't run in Taiwan for about 10 days so I won't hear from anyone for weeks.

Yuanlin first week down‏ Sun 2/07/10

Dear family,

Yuanlin is beautiful. I am serving in the country again (by country I mean a town of 130,000 which yes, is country here). There are green hills and rice fields and orchards. I had forgotten what it is like to just ride my bike for a half an hour and not talk to anyone. No one else at the lights, and then no lights to stop at once you get farther out. In Gaoxiong you couldn't ride for three minutes without talking to SOMEONE. Sometimes it would get exhausting when you just want to get where you want to go. This is restful but talking to less people can mean less potential investigators. My legs also have to get used to the long rides without stopping at lights :)

Sister Liu and I cover two wards here with a set of elders in each ward. Once again I have to learn who is named Lin, who is named Chen, etc. :) On Sunday we went to half of Relief Society and then two both Sacrament meetings, where I had to introduce myself. This was the first time I have been asked to introduce myself so I was unprepared. I only had my character scriptures, and I was proud I was able to read aloud a couple verses. My reading really progressed a lot the last couple months. This whole gift of tongues thing is actually pretty amazing. I've been studying Chinese for about 9 months now, and for the last six only spend about an hour a day in focused study, and I can read aloud. That is a miracle.

One of the things that I prayed for when I became senior companion is that I wouldn't hate my district leader. Every night the senior companion talks to the district leader and reports on our progressing investigators. Some district leaders are very well meaning but give a lot of pressure or too much well-intended advice. My district leader has been very good; he sometimes gives an ideas but mostly just says that only we can receive revelation for our investigators. I like that. He also is American so we can follow up in English which makes things go quicker. His companion, Elder Vaterlaus, and I served together in the MTC and in Douliu so it was nice to see a familiar face when I got here.

Sister Liu and I are having a blast. She is a very happy missionary. We have little communication issues here and there but we mostly just laugh through it. She thinks that I am halarious. When I asked her if I could say "Good evening" in Chinese (the construction was very logical), she laughed and laughed and said it was so cute she was going to write it in her journal. We laugh a lot, which I enjoy. If gospel means good news, then we should be happy! During meals we speak English so she can practice; the rest of the time we use Chinese or Chinglish.

My companion is diabetic but is apparently healthy enough to serve a mission. Then on Wednesday night, we were teaching the kids English class and playing duck duck goose. Sister Liu was very animated, pretending to be a dinosaur or something and chasing the kids when she was "goose." Then she started yawning and stopped talking and went quiet and strange so I tried to give her sugar but she didn't want it. After a few minutes when she kept closing her eyes I called the Mission President's wife because I was afraid she was going into a diabetic coma. She refused to talk to Sister Hoer or take sugar or check her bloodsugar which gave me gray hair. After about five minutes of panic with me on the phone with Sister Hoer she ate some sugar packets and didn't die, which relieved me very much. Oh, it stresses me out. That was probably the most stressful thing to happen this week. So far, I haven't killed my companion or anything so I guess I am doing okay as a senior! :)

Okay, times up,
lots of love
Sister Johnson

PS this Sunday is Chinese New Years, Happy Year of the Tiger!!!! I guess everything will be closed and we will eat with members a lot.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Suprise‏ Sun 1/31/10

Dear Family-

Well, it has been a bit of a crazy week!

I have big news!
Today... I moved to Yuanlin!
I went senior companion!and...
My junior is a native!
Eeek, eek, eek!

I didn't know this before my mission, but companionships have one senior and one junior companion. The senior pretty much has all the responsibility and the junior just follows them around and tries to bear their testimony once in awhile, or at least that's what I did :) As senior, I am now responsible for planning activities, planning lessons, how we set and achieve our goals, dead stack, the APR, and pretty much the spiritual welfare of every single unbaptised or inactive female in Yuanlin plus my companion. It is making my stomach feel nervous just thinking about it. I don't know how to be senior! I've only had three senior companions to watch and learn from. Oh well.

My only consolation is that I think I am going to LOVE Sister Liu. She is very happy and excited and takes a lot of joy in missionary work. Her English is good enough to understand when I have to break into Chinglish, but I am trying to just speak Chinese. I hope that we can just laugh through this movecall as I figure out how to be a senior and how to speak Chinese, haha! I think it will be great.

I had to say goodbye to my beloved Gaoxiong (I will always love that city) but I think Yuanlin will be good too. It is much, much smaller than Gaoxiong as far as people, but is a big area and has a comfortable feeling. The city is bigger than Douliu and we will cover two wards (which I have never done...!) Also, one of the Elders that I served with in the MTC and in Douliu is here too - it was nice to see a familiar face :)

Well, that is all for now, I love you all, keep praying for your little Zhan jie mei, because I don't know what I am doing :)

Sister Johnson

PS - Tastes of Taiwan this week is Biandang - "lunchbox". You choose out from assorted greasy vegetables, greasy tofu, greasy unidentifyable brown stuff that may be a tofu biproduct, and your choice of pan fried meat - beef, pork or chicken (sometimes fish), and they give you rice at the end. It's really pretty good. It is what Panda Express is based off of. I painted it to sound really disgusting but it's not, there just is a lot of oil. I'm afraid for my heart here.

ps where is belise? be safe i love you and i love my pjs :)