Sunday, May 16, 2010


Hello and welcome to my last email as a missionary. Before I leave you with a few closing thoughts I thought I would tell you some funny experiences. It just wouldn't be natural if you read an email from me and didn't laugh.

First of all, last Sunday we went to stake conference up in Taipei. I was getting a drink of water when suddenly I heard someone say, "Hey Breanne!" Shocked to hear my first name, and especially to hear it in English (because everyone calls me "Sister White" but in Chinese) I turned around and saw Anna, my dear friend who was in my branch in Jordan. She is Taiwanese and last year moved back to Taiwan. And then I ran into her at Stake Conference! It was really a beautiful little tender mercy to see my dear friend from Jordan in the middle of Taiwan.

Well, and I forgot what I was going to write that was funny. So maybe just laugh.

And now, as I conclude my final email as a missionary, I wanted to tell you about my testimony but in a different way than just saying "I know...". I want to tell you about three people on my mission that represent faith, service, sacrifice, and the truthfulness of the restored gospel.

The first is Huang Xin Wei, who has been baptized for a little more than a year. Before she met the missionaries her life was really difficult and she has a 2-year-old son but no husband. However, her son's father is very controlling (in Taiwan if a case goes to court almost always the father gets the children, not the mother) and controls her life, including where she lives and tells her that she can't go to work. She also can't go home to Hong Kong unless she doesn't take her son.

One day several months after she was baptized her son's father got angry about something (he still visits his son frequently) and told Sister Huang that she could choose her son or the church, but she couldn't have both. Sister Huang was devastated. She fasted and prayed and finally told Heavenly Father, "I won't leave the church." And Heavenly Father, seeing His faithful daughter's sacrifice, changed the heart of her son's father, who changed his mind and said he didn't care if she went to church.

Her story reminds me of the first chapter of Moroni, where Moroni says he is in hiding because the Lamanites would kill everyone who would not deny the Christ. "And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ."

The second is Achin, my dear friend from Indonesia. Even after she joined the church her life still had many, many trials. She misses her children and husband in Indonesia. Because she is taking care of her sister's husband, who is very old, her income is not always constant. But her husband in unemployed in Indonesia so she can't go back home.

When I was leaving Bade she told me, "In Indonesia when things got hard I would smoke and drink. But now that I have been baptized I don't feel any temptation to do that any more. I know that Heavenly Father will take care of me and my family."

Every time I see her I think of the marvelous change that comes into one's life because of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost.

And third is Yao Yu Er, a 16-year old new member in Taoyuan. Before her baptism she was very very faithful. She came to church every week and went to early morning seminary every day--often being the first to arrive. But she resisted baptism for a long time because she didn't feel she was ready or worthy. Her parents have 9 children and haven't been very good about taking care of them, leaving the older siblings to take care of the younger siblings. Before her baptism she looked so unhappy, usually wearing all black every day.

When she finally decided she was ready to be baptized, she was so happy. The day of her baptism she was just glowing. And after her baptism she changed so much! The Spirit changed her heart and sanctified her, and her face was filled with joy. She is working on her Young Womenhood recognition, wants to graduate from seminary, and is sharing the gospel with her family. And she doesn't wear black all the time any more.

Dear friends and family, I know the gospel is true. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and Heavenly Father loves us so, so much. And I am grateful I had the chance to serve them for these past 18 months.

Sister White

3 March 2010

Hello everyone! This is my second to last email and when I checked my email this morning I had 7 emails!!!! With many people saying "sorry I didn't write you on your mission till your last 2 weeks..." But really I am so grateful for any email. Because let's admit it, I didn't write any of my friends on their missions, not even in the last two weeks. I know that life is a lot busier as a real person so thanks for thinking of me and praying for me.

I have 14 more days left as a missionary, but it doesn't feel like it because I am back in Tucheng with a really funny companion. Sister Hsu is really a joy and a delight to be around and keeps me laughing with her funny English. The other day during dinner we were looking at a map of Tucheng and Sanxia and I saw that next to Sanxia was Inge and next to Inge was Bade. It is really quite far to ride from Tucheng to Bade (maybe 2.5 hours on a bike) but on the map it looked really close. So half joking, I turned to my companion and said, "next preparation day we can ride to Bade and see my friends there! Look, it is really close!"

And then she turned and looked at me and said, "Lady, it's a map!" and rolled her eyes. It was really really funny but I don't know how to express how funny it was. Just laugh and enjoy it. :)

My companion also got hit by a car! It was rather exciting--I was riding behind her and we were riding past the church. She turned her head to look at the church for a second and a big truck pulled out of an ally and stopped too late. She turned her head back just in time to run into the truck, break off its side mirror, and run into a parked motorcycle and fall off her bike. It was a pretty tramatic accident involving blood and some big bruises but my companion is a real trooper and just got back on her bike to ride to our next appointment. Missionary work is so exciting! And both of us laugh about it everytime we think about it. "Look, the church!" Boom!

And on Saturday, Yin Ren and Zhen Yi, two sisters, got baptized. Yin Ren is 16 and Zhen Yi is 8 and their mother is a member. Their mother has a lot of health problems and her body is slowly dying, different parts at a time, so there was a long time that she didn't come to church. But recently we started teaching her daughters and on Saturday they got baptized.

They are both really cute so we were really excited for them to get baptized, but they were really nervous. And then we got to the church Saturday morning and realized that the elders had forgotten to turn on one of the water heaters and they take 4 hours to warm the water! And the baptism started in 30 minutes!

So I told Yin ren and Zhen Yi that it was going to be like going swimming! The water was really cold but luckily the weather was pretty hot that day. And then Zhen Yi, when she bore her testimony after her baptism, said that she was really nervous but she said a prayer and she said right before she walked into the font she said a prayer and she said that she felt like Heavenly Father went with her into the font and helped her to not be afraid. Her testimony was so pure and sweet. These kinds of experiences make the awful and dreadful worth it all!

Well, love you all. Next monday is my last email as a missionary. Hope you are excited!

Sister White

22 February

Happy birthday to dad, Losaunne, and Avalon!

This week I don't have much time left to write (because I had to register with the new myldsmail) but I just want to say that this week was a week of accidents! I guess I couldn't get off the island without another string of accidents. The first one was minor--my companion was riding right behind me and I stopped too quickly. She ran right into me and fell off her bike--she got some nasty bruises but no cuts. Nothing happened to me except my raincoat got ripped. I didn't realize it at the time but when we were walking into the house at night my companion said, "Sister White! Your raincoat is broken! I am sorry I broken your raincoat!" I just laughed--her English is really so cute.

And so then Friday night we were stopping by the store to buy new raincoats because it was raining pretty hard and both of our raincoats were "broken" and we were getting soaked. so we were crossing the road on the crosswalk (riding bikes) and I was casually chatting with my companion when all of a sudden boom! I got hit by a car. It was actually quite exciting since it was my first accident involving a car and not motorcycles. What was even more exciting was that it was a hit and run! I was really blessed, though, because although the car hit me on the right side and I fell over to the right side, I only have bruises on my left side. And they are quite small. No blood, only a few tears, and my shoes didn't even break! Heavenly Father really loves me. :)

Wow, this new email system is so awesome! It would have been great to have earlier. It is run by google so it is great. Sorry, side note.

Well, nothing much new to say. I am still alive and healthy and still working hard. Today for preparation day we went to a mountain in Sanxia and saw waterfalls and even saw a monkey! It was awesome.

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week. I will try to write more next week.

Sister White

15 February

Happy Chinese New Year! and also valentines day, but that has kind of gotten passed over because of New Years Celebrations.

Since I only have 3 more emails to write I really don't know what to write anymore. You all have been overly informed on my life this past year and a half and, well, lets be honest in saying that I really don't know what has happened to any of you except my mom and younger sister. The letters have trickled down to one each week from Becca (Thanks!) because all of my other friends have already returned from their missions. And I think the only times people write letters to missionaries are when they are on missions themselves, because you have a set time for it and you know how important letters are.

And plus, since I am back in my old area and it is once again Chinese New Year, I feel like everything I write is just the same thing. Over and over. And I hate boring things. So maybe I will wax a little philosophical in these last few emails. Sorry.

But first, the fun stuff. Chinese New Year! All the celebrations that didn't happen at Christmas are made up for in Chinese New Year celebrations. Which means that everyone runs away to southern Taiwan to play in the country for a week, while us missionaries try to get creative with our missionary work.

We eat meals with the members both lunch and dinner for more than a week, which means some really exciting and weird things to eat. Last year I ate cow stomach, which I thought was disgusting, but I ate it again on Saturday and it really wasn't so bad this time around. Last night we had a bunch of Chinese food, steak, and fried ice cream, so we are going around the world in our eating styles. (Have you ever eaten steak with chopsticks? How about fried ice cream?) Maybe when I get home if any of you come to hear me when I speak in church (if I speak in church...ha ha ha (my dad is the bishop)) I will cook up some Chinese food. :)

On Friday we went to our investigator's house, Mei Zhi. She has been an investigator for a really long time because she has several habits that she just can't break, especially smoking. The first time I went to her house I saw more than 10 years of smoke dripping down the walls. No wonder she can't kick the habit--her house is like a cave of smoke temptation! So we told her that Friday we were coming to clean her house. We only had time to wash the walls in her room, which were black with smoke. It was amazing to see what a little bleach and water could do, and when we left the walls were yellow instead of black. Not quite yet to white but much better.

As I cleaned the walls in her house I thought about her life, and many other investigators' lives. Sometimes as a missionary you might expect that one rinse, or even one deep scrub with bleach, is enough. And by this I mean that teaching investigators the lessons and having them pray and come to church a couple of times is enough for them to completely change their lives. But really, there are some people that need 8-10 washings before they are finally clean and can completely change their lives. And there is no need to get impatient with them! Just seeing them progress, however slowly it may be, is exciting. Like wiping a layer of black off the wall and seeing the white underneath. So often in life we become impatient with the process and just leave or buy a new house. But through our faith and dilligence and patience, the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ can completely change our lives. But it does take patience!

Anyway, I don't have much else to say. I have been reading Jeremiah recently and have once again fallen in love with the Old Testament. Give it a try. :)

Sister White

8 February

Hello from sunny Taiwan! This first week in Tucheng was a string of one weird adventure after another. First of all, my companion Sister Hsu. She is a bundle of laughs and I don't think my stomach will stop hurting from laughing all transfer. Tuesday we ate lunch and then were going back to the apartment to do our weekly planning session (we eat most meals outside). I was in front and when I got home I looked back and no missionaries. I went down a couple other streets looking for my two companions, fearing that they might be lost, but to no avail. I am famous for losing my companions but Sister Hsu knows how to get home so I started getting a little worried. And then I saw Sister Hsu and Sister Chen (the short term missionary) walking down the street..Sister Chen was pushing both bicycles and Sister Hsu was carrying this huge wooden thing. At first I thought she had gotten in a bike accident and knocked something down but as I got closer she said, "A mirror!" She had seen a huge mirror in a pile of trash (framed in wood) and stopped her bike and went back to get it. Our apartment only has one mirror (in the bathroom) and with 4 sister missionaries that just wasn't going to be enough. So we took the one to our apartment, took the mirror out of the broken wooden frame, and then once again walked back to take the broken wooden frame back to the pile of trash. It was one of the funniest things of my mission. :)

Speaking of the "short term missionaries," the west stake did an activity that let the YSA go with the missionaries for either 3 days or 7 days. This past week we had one for three days and one for the full week. The idea was that through this activity the YSA would have more of a desire to serve a full time mission. We lucked out, though, because besides the fact that both of them were my good friends from Xindian, they are also both returned missionaries (one served in Taichung and one served in Taipei). So it was a week of awesome, awesome training from two really excellent returned sister missionaries. I learned so much and I told Sister Su, one of them, that she was the companion I had prayed for my whole mission. I am so grateful that in my last transfer the Lord gave me this amazing opportunity to learn so much about how to share His glorious gospel with the Taiwanese people.

Sister Su told me that I should write a book entitled "The Return of Sister White" because of the reactions of everyone in the ward when I told them that I was back. Their shock only deepened when they heard that I had moved back here and I wasn't just on exchanges. I heard two comments the most: "You're back! Really?!" and "You've gotten skinnier!" I guess all that bike riding in Bade was good for something, right?

The Lord has really given me a huge blessing to come back to Tucheng and see all that has happened in the last half year. Some of the investigators that I taught while I was here are now active members with callings, and Sunday I saw Brother Zheng (I taught him and his wife and they were both baptized while I was here last year) passing the sacrament. On Saturday I went to the Yeh family's house (I taught them while I was here and they got baptized after I left) and when Brother Yeh walked in he smiled really big, shook my hand, and said, "Thank you so much for teaching us the gospel! I already have the priesthood! In fact, I have to go to a meeting today!" all the while grinning so big. (I am sorry my english is getting more and more like native Taiwanese missionaries' english!) It was so funny to see him so excited to go to a meeting. And Sister Yeh and Sister Gao, who also got baptized a couple of weeks after I left, are ward missionaries. It is such an awesome blessing to be able to see these people progressing in the gospel! And for that I am so grateful to the Lord--He is so merciful.

Chinese New Year starts this Friday, which means eating lots of strange things at members' houses. But I don't think I will think things are as strange as I thought they were last year. Today, for example, for lunch we ate fried rice, frog legs, fish, intestines, and vegetables. And that is a pretty normal day. I have gotten used to most of these really strange things that for some reason Asians like so much to eat. :)

One final thing before I end this email. We took some new members up to a fireside last night in Taipei, and they gave some of the stake "short term missionaries" a chance to speak. One of them that spoke was our companion, Sister Chen. She said something that I thought was so interesting: most things in life are not about if you want to do it or if you like to do it but if you should do it. It doesn't really translate that well from the Chinese but you get the point. I would elaborate on it but that would take all the fun out of it. Just think about it for a while and come up with your own elaborations, I guess.

Hope you have a wonderful week! Happy Chinese New Year!

Sister White

1 February

Hello everyone and welcome to the last transfer of my mission! Even though none of you are here with me I feel like you all know an inordinate amount about my life and so it is almost like you got to experience my mission with me. So here is for the shocking news of the transfer:

I moved!!!

And even more shocking: I moved back to Tucheng!!!

And even more shocking: We are in a threesome right now, with another sister coming on Thursday. Two of them are Taiwanese "short term missionaries", so it will only be for a week. But the most shocking news: they are both from Xindian, my old area!!! And I know both of them!!!

I definitely thought I would stay in Bade until the end and I was really shocked when the news came. I was excited to go back to Tucheng, but lets admit it, it was a bit anti-climactic. However, I was excited to have a Taiwanese companion (Sister Hsu, with whom I have gone on exchanges), because I have not yet had a Taiwanese companion. When I was set apart my stake president told me in the blessing that I would have many Taiwanese companions, and I thought it was somewhat odd that I didn't have one throughout my mission. Even in hoping for a Taiwanese companion my last transfer, I knew that would only equal one Taiwanese companion and not many. But I figured the Lord had fulfilled that promise in another way so I didn't worry about it.

But now to come here to Tucheng and have 3 Taiwanese companions is something that I never, ever expected. The Lord really does fulfill His promises even when it might seem that the time is past and it is too late!

Coming back to Tucheng was a very surreal experience. A new member from Bade drove me here and it was really weird to drive from my old area to my other old area, since Tucheng and Bade are both very big areas so even though they are far apart they still border each other. And even weirder is that Xindian borders Tucheng. I don't know why that is so weird but it is.

The last few days in Bade were very hard for me. I told everyone that I hadn't quite prepared my heart...I really thought I had 6 more weeks to "die" slowly. But when the call came on Friday night (and it came from the assistants, which was good because I might not have believed my district leader) as a missionary I said yes. I think much of a mission is about saying yes to whatever God asks you to do, even when He doesn't tell you why. Because He often doesn't tell you why.

Last night we went to dinner at a member's house--the member's house we went to for Thanksgiving. The Bade ward has started a tradition that when missionaries move they invite everyone to the Lin family's house and eat together and take pictures and cry. Well, the members cry but usually the missionaries (they are men, right?) don't. So last night there were 30-40 people there all gathered in the same room--which means no place to go without touching someone else, as Taiwanese houses are really not that big--and after we ate the 6 of us missionaries sang to them and then the three of us that were moving bore our testimonies. I was last and, although I had kept the tears in all day, they couldn't be restrained as I felt the true love of Christ for these dear Bade members. And then Elder Gong, my zone leader and the missionary who each move call pretends he is crying (which only infuriates Sister Lin), started crying too! Everyone in the room was crying, which was sad of course but I was really happy (and Sister Lin too) because I won because Elder Gong was crying. That is probably kind of sick that I was happy he was crying but you need small victories, right?

I truly loved Bade and will miss the members, investigators, and especially riding through fields of sunflowers. Going there was like paradise and I will never be the same because of the time that I spent there.

And now it is time to spend my final six weeks working with all my might in Tucheng. If any of you want to update me on your life (Thanks Tadd for the scripture today) I can read emails from you. And I might not get the letter on time. :) So feel free to email me! Or else in March I will find you! :)

Sister White

25 January

Hello everyone and happy rainy Monday! Saturday night we were leaving the church after a lesson with an investigator. This investigator (Ya Ping) is really cool and I really like her. She is really searching for the truth. Anyway, it was raining when we walked out of the church, and she had forgotten to bring a raincoat (she had ridden her motorbike). So, since I have two, I lent her one. There was no way I was going to let her ride home without a raincoat! The only problem was, I lent my other one to a member a couple of weeks ago, and she hasn't given it back yet. And the next day was Sunday, and I didn't really want to buy a new raincoat Saturday night. So I prayed that there would be no rain on Sunday.

Adn guess what? Sunday morning it was raining, but by the time my clothes dried (during church) it stopped raining and didn't rain for the rest of the day!

But now it is Monday, and I can go to the store, so it is raining once again. God really does provide a way for us to keep His commandments and stay dry while we are doing it!

This past week our stake did an "English camp" for the youth. Since almost all of the missionaries in this stake are from America, we taught the English camp. :) The stake president, who studied at BYU and works in translation, has a vision for the youth of his stake which involves going to Mutual, going on missions, staying active in the church, and marrying in the temple. Just like most other stake presidents. But almost every child in Taiwan attends "cram school," from elementary school to high school. Cram school is school after school, so you can learn more and get a better test score. Everything in Taiwan is about tests, which means that junior high students all prepare for the test at the end of their third year, because their score determines which high school you can go to. And your high school score determines which college (in Taiwan) you can go to.

All this testing means a lot of memorizing of a lot of useless information, which is forgotten soon after the test. It also means that children have school every day, and many students have cram school until 8-9 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays. And for most, the test score is more important than anything else.

Well, President Tsai has a vision that if the youth in his stake learn the Western way of learning and learn how to study on their own, and especially learn how to study English (by speaking and listening, not just memorizing vocabulary), they will be much more able to go to BYU Hawaii, go on missions, and stay active in the church. So he asked us to teach an English camp, which was Thurs-Sat morning and afternoon, in which we taught the youth how to teach the Plan of Salvation from Preach My Gospel in English. It was a great experience to work with the youth and help them develop both their English skills and their testimony.

But all of that aside, Friday afternoon one of the funniest things happened of the transfer and perhaps my whole mission. Our new member Achin gave us a box of chocolate chip cookies, which was very nice of her, but I ate one and they were disgusting. There was something in those cookies that didn't belong. So we decided to give them to the zone leaders. Elders will eat anything, right?

So we went to English camp and, since there was a delay in starting and the youth were still eating their lunch, we gave them to the zone leaders and stayed to watch their reaction after eating them. They were incredibly grateful and really excited to get cookies. Well, I wish I could describe the expression on their faces after they ate one. Elder Gong, and American, was trying to be nice but his face couldn't lie...those cookies were disgusting. And Elder Ye, a Taiwanese, said, "It's spicy!" (We found out that the ingredient that didn't belong was wasabi...a very hot Japanese green sauce!!!)

So then Elder Gong, always one to be resourceful, decided to spread the joy of chocolate chip cookies with the other elders (it was really a perfect situation because all the missionaries from the zone were there). Each one had a similar reaction--excitedly grabbed a cookie and stuffed it in his mouth, and then disgustedly swallowed and looked for water to wash it down. And then looked for someone else to give a cookie to. :)

Two reactions were my favorite: one elder who is still pretty new was really excited at the prospect of cookies. "Who brought these?" he asked excitedly as he grabbed a handful and put one in his mouth. "Who brought these?" he asked disgustedly as he ate the first cookie and looked for a place to put the handful of cookies he had grabbed. And then when Elder Gong said, "the sisters," he said, "Oh! They're really...good!"

And then Elder Gong, not wanting to leave anyone out, shared some with a member of the stake presidency and the one American in the stake, who married a taiwanese woman and who was in charge of the camp. He gave it to Brother Su right as he was getting into the elevator, and he was busy talking to a member of the stake presidency so he just grabbed one and said thanks. And right as the elevator door was closing, with the cookie still in Brother Su's hand, Elder Gong said, "You might think it's chocolate...". The look on Brother Su's face was priceless. And the whole time we were standing in the corner, laughing so hard we were crying.

Missionary work still goes forward, but it was nice to have something funny to break up the monotony! I think I will laugh about that one for the rest of my mission. :)

Well, that's about all for this week. Hope you all have a wonderful week--next Monday begins the start of my final transfer!

Sister White