Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!‏ Sun 4/25/10

Happy Birthday to Me!

It hasn't been too bad, even though my two companions have both been a-crying all morning.

The last four days have been a bit unconventional because we had three in our companionship! Sister Dewyea's companion went trainer so she got kicked out and stayed with Sister Liu and I until movecall. It is normal, and usually just a temporary situation until they find out where they will be serving. However, Sister Dewyea ended up getting called to Yuanlin, so she will be staying! Sister Liu moved to Huwei, which I was excited about because it is in the same district as Douliu, my first area. Sisters have closed in Douliu since then, and Sister Liu is whitewashing Huwei.

So here I am back with an American companion. It should be good. Sister Dewyea and I had a long, wonderful talk over Subway (my birthday lunch). I loved Sister Liu but I'm not going to lie, it was nice to have a long conversation in English! Sister Dewyea is from Sandy Utah, tiny and petit and has short blond hair. She reminds me kind of a modern Tinkerbell - very pixie like. It should be a fun movecall. I love missionary work so much! When I think I have to go home in 7 months, I think - only 7 months! That's not long enough! I haven't learned everything I need to yet! I would maybe ask to extend, but I don't want to be gone for the holidays again.

It's my birthday and everyone has been crying. Sister Liu cried because she is leaving, Sister Dewyea cried because she missed her companion and has some problems with feeling inadequate. Both of them forgot to wish me a happy birthday until after I reminded them, but Sister Hoer called me, and Elder Anderson wished me a happy birthday at the station. He has wished me a happy birthday everytime he has seen me for a week - he understands how birthdays ought to work! It's been good though. Everyday is good.

Sister Liu and I have been helping our new members start their family history work. Taiwan has a family history resource any geneologist would kill for. They just go down to their government housing office, tell them they want to print out their family history and immediately have about 15 generations information on a nice printout. It's amazing. Sister Liu and I saw a lot of miracles as we have been trying to get people doing their family history work. I took the conference advice to heart that "no matter what your situation, you should make family history a part of your life right now." I can't do my own now, but I can help other people. The Asian culture is so blessed, they have a history of being such good (organized!) record keepers. There is a man I met in Douliu that had done about 2000 years of family history.

We went to a baptism the other night that was great, if not a tiny bit ridiculous. It was the bishop's daughter. Her mom wanted us to teach her the missionary lessons just to "make sure she really understood." Most 8 year old kids that get baptised I don't think really understand too much except that they love Jesus and think the church is true. The the baptism was in the chapel, there were as many people in attendance as there are at sacrament meeting, was quite an event! I'm not going to lie, it was really good. We had two investigators with us that are children and they seemed to really like it.

Can you believe it's almost Mothers day and time to call home again? Here is the email they sent us about it. I will probably call from Taiwan on Monday may 10th morning which will be Mother's day evening/afternoon. Send me the phone numbers of where you will be again - I deleted the last emails and may not remember everyone's phone number.

Times up!

Mothers Day Phone Call Home

You are authorized to talk to your family during Mothers Day. You have two options for this phone call. You can arrange to talk to your family on the evening of Sunday, May 9th or the morning of Monday, May 10th. (Taiwan time) *Calling on May 9th will be Mothers Day morning in the States. *Calling on May 10th will be Mothers Day evening in the States.

Your phone call should not exceed 60 minutes (if your parents are divorced, then you may make two 40 minute calls, one to each parent)

You and your family are responsible for the cost of the phone call; please budget and be sensitive regarding the financial burden on your family.

Plan now how and when you will call your family, or receive their call. Coordinate with your companion, and then email your family giving them a couple of options for the best times to talk.

Have your family call your apartment landline, do not use cell phones!

If your family does not have an international call plan, the cheapest way to call is using a phone card.

If you call your family, the cheapest option is a phone card. You can buy an international calling card at convenience stores (7/11) which can then be used from your apartment phone.

The time differences are:
Australia 2 hours ahead
Malaysia, Singapore, China are the same as Taiwan
Hawaii 18 hours behind
Pacific 15 hours behind
Mountain 14 hours behind
Central 13 hours behind
Eastern 12 hours behind

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sun 4/18/10

Dear Family

Another week has passed. I never know what to write anymore.

Taiwanese people are afraid of the cold; no kidding, if it is under 65 degrees people don't want to leave their houses. I will be on my bike sweating and people ride past wearing parkas, bundled up like eskimos. It rained a couple days this week. Rain is another good reason not to leave the house. Rain is more understandable though, as most people ride scooters and Taiwan has redefined "pouring rain" in my vocabulary. It rains more here during one good rainy day than in months back home. In August's typhoon it rained more in 3 days than it does in ten years in Utah. I actually really don't mind working in the rain though. I always feel the spirit as I work in the rain. It is grace - because we are still willing to be diligent even in less than desirable weather conditions, I get an extra portion of the spirit to comfort and guide. So rain away! I refuse to be brought down.

Next week - the 26th - is my birthday as well as movecall. I may be getting a new companion as a birthday present! Hopefully it will still be a good day. I could move - I probably won't.

Umm, ask me some questions so that next week I will know what to write? I'm sorry I spent all my time already-

I love you all very much!


Cami's Email to Donna:
Re: Welcome Spring!!‏

Well, when I come home in the fall we can have a fun time learning how to can beans and make bean brownies. It actually sounds like fun. I don't know if this is a sign that 1. i am a missionary starved for entertainment 2. i am getting old 3. it actually is fun

Who knows!

Thanks for the pictures

I love you!
PS when is Mothers day/ when do I get to call you? It has to be in the next month or so, right?

Can't wait!

Monday, April 12, 2010

4/11/10 what goes around comes around‏

Dear Family -

Wasn't General Conference wonderful? You know you are a missionary when as soon as it gets over you wish you could watch it over again haha :) I felt a delightful desire to repent and change and got some good insights on how I be do better in the next 6 months. Isn't the Plan of Salvation marvelous? I hope everyone took the apostle's advice and made a new study plan of the Atonement.

I was very concerned I was going to have to watch Conference in Chinese with my companion. I called President Hoer and got permission to exchange with a close set of sisters that are also a bundi/American companionship, but it didn't work out because of schedule conflicts. We called about everyone, and nothing seemed feasible. So, President gave me permission to be companions with the three American Elders in my district haha. So I have officially been a "solo sister," even if just for conference.

On a totally different note, earlier this week, my district leader Elder Stubbs called with an unusual story. He said, "I know this sounds ridiculous, but it is true. Back in February, the office called me and said that a man from Canada called them and wanted to take out the Yuanlin Taiwan missionaries to lunch, and to meet at the King Steakhouse on April 4 at noon. And that is tomorrow Sister Johnson. So, are you sisters coming?" It sounded ridiculous, but I believed that Elder Stubbs wouldn't lie to me, and the office wouldn't lie to him, so we might as well go. I must admit, I still had doubts in my heart. Really, was a man from Canada going to show up in Taiwan and take 6 missionaries out for steak?

He did! A portly American with his Taiwanese wife and Canadian daughter met us at the restaurant at the appointed hour and we all ate steak and ice cream together. It was a dream :) The man went on a mission and served in Yuanlin and said that his whole mission, he only was invited to eat with members twice, so now he takes out the Yuanlin missionaries every time they visit.

It reminded me of how in New Mexico we had the missionaries over every Monday night for dinner and fed them steak before they got transferred. What goes around comes around!

Probably the best part of our weekend was Lin Shu Hua's baptism. I contacted her on the side of the road back in February, and she was afraid of me haha. We met with her once before Guonian and she seemed so noncommittal that I figured we would never see her again. We didn't talk to her for a few weeks, then started to meet with her regularly. She was really good but scared of baptism - I'm still not sure why. So we set a new baptismal goal with her, and put her in an interview as a week D (still having 4 weeks until her scheduled baptismal date - ie- really early to have an interview). I was sure she was not going to pass the question about feeling prepared to make the covenant of baptism, but she did! I moved up her date a week and she got baptised.

Lin jm has had a hard life and you can see it on her stern, sad face. But when she smiles it lights up the room, and she literally transforms. I have read cheesy descriptions like that in books but had never seen it real life before. I always thought it was a cliche overstatement. But she literally changes from a sad, tired looking older woman into something beautiful. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. And the more she came to church, the more she smiled.

And that is why I do missionary work.

Sister Johnson

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mon 4/05/10 Happy Easter

Dear Family,

Happy Easter! I'm not sure Taiwanese people, even in the Church, really get Easter. My companion looked confused when I wished her a Happy Easter, no one mentioned it at church (even during Testimony meeting) and we didn't even sing the Easter hymns. It was very weird. I asked one member if they said "Happy Easter" and she said they did, so we wished each other a Happy Easter and that was it. Oh well. It seems really weird and sad in retrospect; at the time I was too busy to remember more than in passing that it was a day different from any other. I ate some jellybeans and chocolate Mother sent me - luckily the Easter Bunny still delivers to Taiwan :)

I haven't watched General Conference yet - it is this coming Saturday/Sunday for us. It should be a really great weekend - we have a baptism scheduled as well as Conference. I'm very excited. General Conference as a missionary is really the best thing ever. Hopefully this time the English DVDs will work! It just occurred to me, hopefully there will be an English speaking female member that can be my companion because this time I have a Taiwanese companion that doesn't speak English and I probably am not allowed to just watch the elders/one english speaking man in my ward... Pray I will get to watch it in English!

This week was good. We have this investigator, Alice*, who is really funny. She has been an investigator for almost a year now, and is more active than some members and keeps all the commandments. She refused to get baptised though, and they never understood what her concern was. She finally told opened up to us - she wants to get baptised in Utah. Somehow she decided that if she can't get baptised in Utah then she can't to get baptised. It's really insane, but I'm neutral about it. It annoys Sister Liu to pieces but I'm like, if she wants to go to America to get baptised, what does it matter to me - as long as she gets baptised. So if she does, I hope you will all attend! I think it would be cool if my family and friends could go to one of my investigator's baptisms :) Amber really is a character. She also intends to find her "Mr. Right" (her words) while in America. I asked her what her plan was, and she said she will go to a singles party. So...good luck to her! If you have any friends looking for a Taiwanese bride in July, I know someone, no mail-order needed!

Being a missionary is very interesting. I can arguably say, I have learned little that I didn't think I already knew before my mission, but at the same time learned everything. Like who the Savior is. Like what faith is. This week I learned how to pray. Who knew that I was 22, had already been a missionary for 10 months and still didn't know how to really pray? It's nothing I hadn't heard before, I just for the first time really get it. Prayer is communication with God. Prayer is the process of the will of the Father and of the child become one. Ask and what to pray for will be given to you. Maybe some other time I'll tell you more about it. If you ask.

Times up. I love you.

Sister Johnson

*name changed

Cami's email to Donna:

Sounds like a fun time!

Thank you for the package - it made my easter very hoppy :) I am wearing the skirt right now and worn the blouse a few days ago. I haven't had new clothes in a very long time! Sometimes I get old clothes from other sisters, which feels like an inviting change, but I haven't had anything New, clean, unused and untired looking in awhile. It was nice. I've already made a pig of the jelly beans and found my bank card just fine. The makeup is realy nice - thank you, it must have been expensive. It should last me until I come home or longer. No letter from you though?

Love you, thank you so much!