Wednesday, May 26, 2010

5/23/10 Crazy!

Dear Family-


This week has been good. Church yesterday was insane. It was raining when we left, and as I stepped onto my pedal to mount my bicycle, there was a problem with the chain and there wasn't any tension. I was going downhill and it was raining and slippery so I took quite an impressive fall. Anyway, Sister Dewyea did a playbyplay of what happened for me last night and it was really impressive. I just remember falling on my back then a minute later my bike landing on top of me. I laid in a puddle looking up at the clouds, my bike over me, and considered not getting up. I did, my companion fixed my gears and we went to church. Xing Hui, our new member and her sister hadn't come so we went to go find them. They came with us, and it started really raining hard on the way back. We had missed 2nd ward sacrament by that time and were almost an hour late to 1st ward so Sister Dewyea and I went to 1st ward together. Then we had to correlate a ride for a member for getting to and from the train station, had 2 baptismal interviews, had two ward correlation meetings simultaniously, and had to entertain 3 children of our investigator while she was in an interview. Then the Relief Society president wanted us to play piano for them while we are trying to run back and forth between two ward correlation meetings. Oh, it was crazy.
I told her no.

That is sort of the way church usually goes here but it was particularly crazy yesterday.

Oh yes, Amy asked me a few questions about some Chinglish things I said, so I will translate.

Juabing is a food, and the juabing guy is the man that makes them. Juabing is sort of a flat round bread - like a tortilla in function but quite different in taste and testure. It usually has egg and maybe corn, onions or meat on it, as well as really good spicy sauce. It is really good. The juabing guy in Douliu made the best juabing I've ever had and we were regular customers there. He liked us and would give out English fliers for us.

In my mission (I don't think it is this way in most missions), we categorize our investigators by how close they are to their baptismal date. We give people a baptismal date when we meet them the first time, 5 weeks out. Then they are considered a week E. 4 weeks is week D, 3=C, 2=B 1=A. A week A means that they are getting baptised that week. This system helps us know who we need to focus on the most. "Dropping out of week B" means that for some reason something came up that kept them from becoming a week A and still being ready to be baptised the following week.

If you are wondering, do people in Taiwan really get baptised just 5 weeks after they meet the missionaries? The answer is yes. It is not unusual.

Okay, well my time is close to up.

I love you!
Sister Johnson

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday May 17, 2010

Dear family,

Sister Dewyea and I are beat. We barely made it through our study time (8-10:30) before we went back to bed and slept for two hours this morning. We have been working crazy hard, seeing a lot of miracles. We had an amazing 6 week B's this last week...none of which have currently rolled over but we will hopefully drop some back in. Just know it was amazing. They all live really far apart though. One day we started riding our bikes at 1:30 in the afternoon, and except for 4 45 minute lessons we didn't stop riding until 9 PM. We didn't have time to stop for dinner - we stopped and had hamburgers for 5 minutes somewhere. It was crazy. We really have been working like crazy. Yesterday we had 4 peike's (more than sometimes I've had in the week in the past).

Remember how on the phone we said we were riding to Tianzhong - over an hour away? Well, that night we were looking for a former investigator whose house we couldn't find. I asked some lady who was walking on the street and invited her to church. She couldn't help us with directions, but she did come to church yesterday. That is great except that means we have to keep going to Tianzhong to meet with her haha. I found out the train does in fact go to Tianzhong though!

Funny story. It was sister's exchanges this week. We always meet at the station in Zhanghua which is just a 13 minute train ride north of Yuanlin. I got my new companion, got on a train headed south, which happened to be there about 3 minutes early, but it said our train on the electric board so we got on. We were chatting away when my instincts started telling me something was wrong. Out the window we were closer to the mountains that I remember the train being and I felt like we should have been there already... I started looking around and saw a sign that said next stop Douliu.

Douliu, my first area?! But that is a significant distance south of Yuanlin...! Somehow we got onto a fast train that doesn't stop at every station and didn't stop in Yuanlin. So we accidently left our zone, which is not allowed. I called my zone leaders and groaned when Elder Blackham answered. Elder Blackham is a very very diligent missionary that I have heard is kind of hard on the Elders. I thought he may maul me.
"Elder Blackham...I have to tell you something I don't want to tell you."
"Umm, we got on the wrong train and are going to be in um, Douliu in a minute."
"What? Well, I guess we all make mistakes. Just get off in Douliu and come back and get back in Yuanlin as soon as possible."

So my companion and I got off in Douliu but there wasn't another train for an hour. I made my companion look out all the big windows of the station with me while I remininced about my first area and probably bored her to tears. "You see that corner?! That is a great corner for contacting. And other there is the best juabing stand in all of Taiwan. The juabing guy would English proselyte for us. And at that convenience store Sister Pickering and I added some Chinese people." It was a nice trip down memory lane. I kept hoping someone I knew would show up, but no one did. It made me miss my first area, good old Douliu where I was trained. We did run into the Douliu Elders* ( which was a bit embarrassing as we weren't supposed to be there) and I told them about an old investigator I wanted them to find. So maybe they will find and baptise her and it will be a miracle.

Alright, time is up.

I love you all so much!

Sister Johnson

* On a random note, one of whom is Elder Evans, President Uchtdorf's grandson

Friday, May 14, 2010

suprise!‏ Wed 5/12/10

Dear family,

It was so good to talk to you on Mother's Day! What a delightful family I have.

Today was the temple trip. We woke up bright and early (5am) to make it to meet the bus at 6:15 in Zhanghua, but the bus driver slept in and didn't come until 7:30, so we all could have woken up at 6. Oh well. The temple was still completely worth it.

Guess what - Xing Hui got baptised on Friday! We decided just to ignore the fact that the older sister decided she didn't want to get baptised and continue talking about Xing Hui's baptism like it was still a sure thing. It worked - she got baptised. It was really fun. We took the three girls out to McDonalds and bought them happy meals before the baptism. McDonalds is more expensive than chinese food on the street so they were really excited. They got to play on the play place, eat french fries and get a little doll. They were pretty much in heaven. McDonalds is very smart about it's marketing for children. We were heros for less than $10.

I am just going to take a minute to write an ode to my ward Correlator, Brother Jiang. At first I didn't know if I would like him, and now I am pretty sure he is the greatest ever. Sister Dewyea and I started having a feeling that Xing Hui needed to be baptised Friday, not Saturday. We didn't have a good reason except we both felt like it was what needed to happen. So we called Jiang dixiong on Thursday, and he said, okay, let's do it on Friday. He organized it all the night before. On Friday Sister Dewyea and I started calling the ward to invite them, and everyone said that Brother Jiang had already called them. He called the whole ward, had speakers, organized it all. It was really great. He is the best ward correlator I have ever had.

Xing Hui's baptism itself was really amazing. After she was baptised, standing wet in her white clothes, she looked transformed. I will never forget her face. I could tell she was feeling something but she didn't know what it was. She was so still and the spirit was so strong. I told her she needed to always remember that feeling and never forget it, never forget Heavenly Father's love for her. It was really special. I felt the spirit more strongly at her baptism than at any other I've been to, maybe because she is a child.

Yesterday was Sister's Exchanges. The sister that came was a very, very bright and cheerful sunbeam. Sister's exchanges is always valuable if for nothing else than to remind me how much I love the companion I already have.

Well, that's about it for me - I'll email again on Monday as normal!

Sister Johnson

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dear Family‏ Sun 5/02/10

Dear Family,

I can't believe it's already Mothers Day this Sunday! Yay, I get to call home! It sounds weird, but I feel like Christmas was just yesterday.

Shelly told me that they recently went to a Chinese restaurant where they barely spoke English and they didn't know what they ordered. Welcome to my life! I rarely ever know what I am eating, let alone what I am ordering. I have decided I am happiest not knowing. There is the initial problem of not reading characters, then if I can read them I don't know what it is. Then once they bring it to me, I still have a policy of not asking what the meat bits are and a lot of the vegetables I've never seen before. It usually is pretty good though. I have eaten something that translates to Smelly Tofu, intestines, ostrich, stomach, blood rice...

OH, I have a good story. At nearly every meal, people drink soup, no matter how hot it is outside. Most restaurants have huge pots of it you can self serve. This week I reached into the bottom of the pot, pulled up the ladle, and... in it there was a chicken head. A whole, white chicken head. It's eyes were closed. I didn't know what to do. I started to laugh and had no idea what to do. Do I put it back? Do I put it in the my bowl and scare my companion? Will that offend someone that wanted to eat it? Do people eat the head? Do I take it or leave it?
I dumped the head back in and filled my bowl with broth.
It wasn't bad.

If we are eating at a new place that I am not sure what is on the menu, I look for the characters I can recognize. I decide if I want rice or noodles, then pick what kind of meat I want with it and sort of hope whatever they bring me will be good. I am beginning to be able to read a lot more so it is getting easier to at least have some idea what I am ordering. It usually is.

On Saturday we had a baptismal interview for two little girls - Xing Hui and Xing Yu. We had their mom's written consent as well as had met with her and made sure she didn't have any questions or concerns about her daughters getting baptised. It seemed fine until at the interview Xing Hui and Xing Yu were SO BAD! I felt like a mom that is embarrased by how naughty their children are being! When they saw tall, tall, white, white awkward Elder Christenson (my new district leader that did their baptismal interview) they about went bezerk. They wouldn't sit still or be good or answer the questions they knew the answers to. They didn't pass because the older sister decided she didn't want to get baptised because her grandmother would yell at her and apparently her mom said she didn't want them to get baptised. The younger sister didn't want to get baptised without her older sister. They about broke my heart. Then we let them draw on the whiteboard for a bit while Sister Dewyea and I had another lesson. They drew hearts and "We love you Sister Johnson and Sister Dewyea" all over the whiteboard and suprised us. It only broke my heart more. They are the cutest girls, if a bit unruly and I just wanted what was best for them. We rode with them back home, Xing Hui riding on the back of my bike, under the stars and past the rice patties. I was just so heartbroken for and by them.

We dropped them off and Sister Dewyea got me laughing with her dry sense of humor and we kept on, and went to visit other people. Before I knew it it was time to go home and riding home in the dark, past the palm trees and in the shadow of the mountains I found myself smiling again. "Why are you smiling? You are still heartbroken over that terrible interview! Aren't you sad?" But I couldn't keep a little smile off my face. Nothing seems to be able to keep me down.

I think the world is so sad, people are so burdened under sin and cares and ignorance and chasing after wordly possessions. I am a missionary, I don't have much but I always have enough. I'm not pretty but I am well loved. I have little worldly success to show for my work but am totally satisfied with the results. I am happier than nearly anyone else alive. It doesn't make sense, but it turns out, the church is true. The Gospel path really is the easiest, happiest way to live this life; and the only way to have eternal life in the world to come.

Talk to you soon :)