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

18 January

Wow, can you believe that January is almost over? Only 2 weeks left of this transfer and then we are into the Chinese New Year celebrations! :)

This week a lot of things happened that I said, "This is going to make it into my email home!" So if this email is random and scattered, I apologize.

First of all, this last Tuesday was really cold. Really cold. And unfortunately I was about as prepared for a cold day as Utah is prepared for a typhoon. :) At least I had a coat. But we rode our bikes from the Tao2 chapel to the Bade chapel, freezing all the way. By the time we got to the Bade chapel we weren't freezing anymore, but the sweat was freezing to us. It was really cold. And as we got to the Bade chapel, we saw our zone leader and one of the assistants getting out of a car. (The assistants are the only ones that drive in our mission.) And the assistant, E. Scott, started jumping up and down and rubbing his hands together. "It's cold!" he said. I looked at him and then started laughing cynically. What did he know about cold after just getting out of a heated car? The office that the assistants work in is also heated! I told him I thought it was hysterical that the assistants could drive around in heated cars and sit in heated offices while the sisters were riding bikes all over freezing cold Taiwan. :)

What else? Oh, there was the day when we went to contact a member referral. We had set up an appointment to go to her house and, when we got there we found a rather poor family. Two sons and a single mother who is looking for a full-time job right now. The situation was enough to tug at my heart strings--until the dog came running into the living room! He was a small little thing but in need of a good whipping. While we were trying to teach this woman about prayer, the dog would hide under the bench we were sitting on and then run out and bite our legs. After once or twice of this (the first time I yelled because it startled me so badly!) I realized that this was going to end. So much of the rest of the short lesson was me holding the dog at the neck and trying not to get bitten. Sometimes he would escape and run around and come back and bite our legs again, and he went to the bathroom on the floor twice (we were only there for 20 minutes!). The closing prayer was more than a little comical. I asked my companion to pray because I was struggling with the dog (holding his neck was the only place you wouldn't get bit) and during her short prayer I must have gripped the dog too hard because he started wailing. Wow, I don't know what will happen next week but all I know is that I almost killed that dog during the prayer. I never really liked dogs!

I am trying to think of what else interesting happened this week but it was just a normal week. We went to visit one of our new members, the amazing Sister Lin (Wan Ting) and her testimony is so strong and so amazing! Many people have a problem giving up tea here in Taiwan when they join the church and sometimes they drink it once after their baptism. But once is all it takes before the guilt is unbearable! Sister Lin said that she went to the store to buy some tea for her husband (because he is not a member) and she said she tasted it because she wanted to know if it was good for her husband. And she said as soon as she drank one mouthful she felt an immense guilt--she said she had never felt such guilt before! The Spirit is so powerful! And repentance is so real. It is amazing that the Lord takes care of all of His children individually and so very personally.

Oh! And one last thing. The other day we went to contact a referral and the referral's store was right by a member's house that had given us dinner the month before. So we went to drop a card off at their house to thank them and this older woman was standing outside the gated complex. We started talking to her, and she didn't seem interested in the gospel but she said, "Would you like to come in and have something to drink?" Well, there was no way we were going to pass up an opportunity like that so of course we said yes. She invited us in and went and squeezed oranges to give us fresh squeezed orange juice! She said once again that she was not interested but it was a beautiful experience to get to know her sing to her.

Hope you are all doing well. And congratulations Brittany, you enter the MTC this week! I would love to be on your email list!

Sister Breanne White

January 11

Hello! Happy Monday! (or Sunday...) These past few days Taiwan has been getting a "cold" spell...which means that the weather has been down in the 40's some days. (I hear that Utah is having the coldest winter in a long time, and some days it gets up to freezing... :)

Well, I am still very much used to very cold weather and a somewhat chilly day still feels quite warm to me. Which means that I am still wearing short sleeves, while everyone around me is wearing coats, gloves, scarves, and shivering. And then they look at me with my short sleeves on and they freak out. :)

Yesterday we stopped by an investigator's house to share a scripture with her and see how she was doing. She said, "Can I touch your finger?" (Kind of a weird question, eh?) When I agreed, she touched my hand, and then almost fell over from shock. As she was wearing a coat and her hands were icy cold and I was wearing short sleeves but my hands were warm, she must have thought I was some sort of alien, or something! She was expecting my hands to be icy cold. It made me laugh for quite a while. "Can I touch your finger?"

A lot of things happened this week but I don't really want to write about any of them. Who wants to hear about a less active with manic depression who yells at the missionaries when they, at her request, go over to clean her house? Or people cancelling on their appointments because it is raining? Or missionary leaders who don't seem to know what the term "unrighteous dominion" means? Or less than happy companions?

No one, right? So this email will be a little shorter this week. But still exciting! Last Monday we went over to Jian Jia Yin's house, who is an 18-year old investigator. Her mother is a new member and when she got baptized she asked us to start teaching her daughter. Well, we have been teaching her and she has been progressing, but very slowly. (Remember when I told you about the Sunday when our new member told her daughter that if she didn't get baptized she had to leave the house? No wonder she is not progressing, with pressure like that!) Anyway, a long time ago we had invited her to really pray about the Book of Mormon. And if she didn't get an answer, to pray again. And she said that she did it, but she didn't get an answer, even after three days. Well, we had invited her to keep praying, and had taught her about the Spirit and an importance of a testimony, etc, etc.

And last week we went back and I asked her if she had prayed and gotten an answer. She said yes!!!! She prayed! And God answered her prayer! She said the answer she got was, "It's true, don't ask again." Which fits her personality exactly.

Joy beyond belief! She prayed and got an answer! The other things, like keeping commandments, will come so much more easily now that she has prayed and received an answer. Life is wonderful!

Oh, and did I mention that for some strange reason my area is filled with sunflowers right now? God loves me, and He gives me sunflowers in January.

Sister White

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy New Year--2010!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Some big changes have been happening in our mission and my preparation day will be every Monday now. Cool, huh? :)

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! It didn't really feel much like anything to us--the weather was quite nice, and Christmas morning (for me) I called my family. Which was fun, but what do you say on the phone to everyone--hello! ummm...hello! But it was exciting to hear my little nephew Peter's voice. (As a side note to my little sisters and brother, I hope you liked the Christmas package. Especially the dried spicy seafood and quail eggs :).

While I was talking to my family, my brother mentioned that he could tell from my emails that I was trunky. What?! Trunky? I think that we both decided that the word was "anticipatory," not trunky. I am quite anticipatory of the next thing--freedom, cars, and jeans. :) But I think the people in the wards here are more trunky than me for me to go home! They keep talking about how soon I am going home and how they will miss me--but not too much, because some of them have asked if they can stay at my house when they come to visit Utah. And then last night we were at a member's house eating dinner and the people there all started talking about how I am going home so soon and all the movies I should watch. I don't even like movies! And I still have 2.5 months left! But whatever. As my father said, I still have a lot of work to do--even if the members talk about me as if I have already died. :)

So yesterday I felt particularly guided by the Spirit, for which I was grateful. The past few weeks have been particularly discouraging, with a bunch of our really awesome investigators disappearing or telling us they don't want to meet anymore. When that happens it is easy to question your own ability to listen to and obey the promptings of the Spirit: "Did I do something wrong? Should I have contacted them more? Should I have contacted them less?" etc etc. And I have been feeling the numbers stress (missions are about service, not about numbers, right?) more and more lately. So yesterday I put some extra effort into my prayers, pleading with the Lord that He would bless our efforts in this area.

So we went to church in Bade. And then after it was over, we were leaving, getting ready to go home to eat lunch, and for some reason I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. I didn't know what it was, just this nagging feeling. So after we had already unlocked our bikes and started leaving, my companion and I stopped and went back into the church. And just as we walked in, the elders (who were standing in the chapel with some girls) said, "Sisters--these two girls want a tour of the church and they want to get baptized!" (the elders are always a little overexuberant). So we gave them a tour and set up another time to meet with them. They were 17-year old neighbors who had taken a bus to the church just to check it out and see when we meet and if they could come to church. What a miracle! It was wonderful to see the hand of the Lord working like that. And although the elders could have given them a tour (and then set them up the next time for us, since they were girls), it was a beautiful tender mercy to see that He led us back in to the church just for them.

And then last night we still had 10 minutes before 9pm, so we stopped at a pay phone to call some land lines (we can't call land lines from our cell phone, and we can't use our land line. lame). I parked my bike and stepped up onto the sidewalk just as I put my hand up to smooth my hair down--and stood up right under a metal sign. It hurt my finger a lot, and just as I was about to get frustrated the Spirit let me know that I had been guided by revelation to put my hand on my head at exactly that moment. Otherwise, it would have hurt my head a lot worse than it hurt my finger! Isn't it a beautiful thing that Heavenly Father is so willing to guide and direct our lives--even in the little things that matter so little in the eternal scheme but are important in our personal lives?

That's about it. A member called us Christmas Eve and said, "Sister White, what do you want for Christmas?" My first thought was, "An investigator that wants to progress toward baptism!" And my second thought was "or a referral!" The ward members were so nice and gave us a lot of gifts. I have never received so much chocolate in my life! I guess that is the easiest thing to give missionaries, eh? I think I have gained back everything I lost from riding my bike all over Taiwan!

Love you all,

Sister White

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! And hello from rainy Taiwan. The other day it was raining hard all day and it was freezing cold. After riding our bikes all over I looked down at my feet and saw this disgusting combination of blackness of dirt mud and grease covering my legs! I sent pictures as proof of how dirty and gross it was. So that is the kind of weather we are facing now!

So this has been an exciting week in prepartion for Christmas. Because it is cold and rainy alot of people have been cancelling on us or just not showing up for their appointments (or church) because they don't want to drive/ride their scooters in the freezing cold. Which is kind of lame for us. And them. On Thursday we went to the church early in the morning for an appointment with a new member (10:00) and then we had an appointment with an investigator for 10:30. She cancelled, and then our 1:30 appointment cancelled, and then our 4:00 appointment cancelled. And then our 7:00 appointment cancelled. I was feeling pretty discouraged--basically like I wanted to cry--and we were on our way home to do our weekly planning session. We had not eaten lunch yet and the only thing I wanted to do was to go to the convenience store (Family Mart) right by our house. I walked in to buy something and the Spirit said, "talk to the checker woman!" I thought that was awkward so I didn't. And then she came over and asked me what I was looking for and told me all the lunch options. I still didn't talk to her about the church (what would I say? I want a sandwich--and do you want to come to church?) because I thought it was awkward. And then I bought my stuff and still didn't talk to her. And then my companion was buying her stuff and I couldn't stand it any more so I blurted out, "Have you ever been to church before?" She said, "What, are you going to preach the gospel to me?" and I said "Yes." Well, she gave us her number, said that she had seen me a couple of days before riding my bike past her house, she lives near the church, and she would probably come to our Christmas activity. It was a beautiful testimony to me that the Lord loves His children even if they all cancel in the same day--and even if we think it is awkward the Lord will provide a way for us to share the gospel!

On Friday and Saturday we had Christmas activities. Saturday was the Christmas party for both Bade and the Taoyuan 2nd ward, so we had to choose which one to go to. It wasn't a hard decision because the Tao2 ward asked us 3 months ago to come to their Christmas fireside and sing with them, so we chose them. On Friday, however, a member of the Bade ward who works at a preschool asked us (the missionaries) to do a 15 minute presentation at the preschool Christmas party. We were more than happy to comply--until we got there and saw about 50 kids and their parents and teachers being entertained by the KFC chicken dancing around and a magician with a real dove! We were terrified to do our 15 minute live nativity. Who can compete with the KFC chicken?

But it actually didn't turn out so bad. We had some of the kids come up to be Mary, Joseph, the angels, shepherds, and wise men, read a couple of scriptures from Luke, and sang a few hymns for them. It was definitely an unforgettable experience, though--who can compete with the KFC chicken?!!

And then Saturday was our Christmas activity with Tao 2. That afternoon was Sister Jiang's funeral and it was quite an emotional experience for me. Everyone in the whole stake knew her and she has been a member for 30 years so practically all of Taiwan knows her. Therefore, the chapel was packed with people standing outside to pay their last respects. Her son is on a mission in southern Taiwan and his mission president let him come back for the funeral. The hardest part for me was seeing this valiant missionary son, soon to finish his service (in February), still wearing his name tag, who came up in the morning and went back to his mission in the afternoon, standing there and trying not to weep because his mother had passed away. It didn't help, either, that I knew half the people there and they were all weeping too.

By the time we got to the Tao2 Christmas fireside, I was in no mood to have to smile and talk to people and pretend to be cheerful. Even though we are preaching the message of salvation, sometimes missionaries want to be sad, too! But I had a revelation as we were practicing. The Tao2 ward had decided to do a Christmas fireside, with lots of singing, a little reading of scriptures, and watching a short Christmas church movie (the Nativity), with a special emphasis on inviting non-members and investigators. As we were standing up there singing during practice, I was thinking, "I don't want to celebrate Christmas right now!" And the Spirit reprimanded me--"Sister White, you don't want to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, who came to give you salvation, freedom from your sins, and eternal happiness?"

Well, I do want to celebrate His birth. I know He lives. I am grateful for the love of our Father in Heaven, who sent His Only Begotten Son to suffer and die for our sins, our weaknesses, and our pains and sorrows. I know that the only way to true happiness is through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of all of our sins, and we can access this happiness through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. And I hope this Christmas season you have a chance to share the joy of the gospel with those who are searching in darkness. It is a rather fulfilling work!

Sister White

Did I mention I am still in Bade with the same companion? I didn't move. And next week my preparation day will be Wednesday. Merry Christmas!

16 December

Hello! It is raining here and I hear that a cold front is finally coming in. How exciting, eh?

Do you like the pictures I sent of our Christmas decorations? The Christmas tree probably looks better than you imagined, right? :)

This email will be a bit more serious. I usually like light-hearted emails so you don't think I have turned into a robot missionary, but this Sunday the former Relief Society president in the Bade ward passed away. We got the December Ensign last week and I noticed that a lot of the articles were about death. These two things together have made me ponder a lot about life and death these past few days.

The Bade RS president, Sister Jiang, was a really awesome example. Everywhere I went in Taiwan people would ask me how she was doing. She struggled with cancer for a long time and finally succumbed--but it provided a lot of opportunities for people to provide service and for their love to grow. When I first came to the Bade ward I met Sister Jiang. This was before she was too seriously ill and she invited us and a new member over to her house for dinner. When we got there she was rushing around the kitchen with a wrap on her head trying to finish making dinner for us. After eating she told us stories from her mission many years ago in Southern Taiwan--how she got mad because the people only liked the foreigners and didn't ever do anything for her because she was Taiwanese, the lessons she learned, etc. She told us that when she first joined the church she was not active--but she went to church once a month to pay her tithing. She knew that that was a law of God and so she said the law of tithing kept her in the church--going once a month every month until she was fully active.

One of the women in the Bade ward told me that Sister Jiang was their example of faith. One Sunday, after several Sundays of not being able to come to church, Sister Jiang was wheeled in in a wheelchair by her husband. I asked her how she was doing and she said, with weariness and weakness evident in her face, "I am doing so well because I am at church. What else could I want?"

The Jiangs have two children--a son on a mission in southern Taiwan and a daughter in America. Seeing her and her husband's example of faith really changed my mission, and I am grateful that the Lord let me have this opportunity to meet one of His powerful servants here in Taiwan.

With her passing I was reminded of another dear friend of mine, Brother Peterson, who also passed away due to cancer. When people like this leave this world one is brought to his/her knees in gratitude that one was able to be blessed by such an example of service and humility.

As Christmas approaches my heart is filled with gratitude for the great and glorious love manifest by the Father in sending His Only Begotten Son to sacrifice for our sins, our weaknesses, and our pain. I know that God loves us. His Son is our Messiah. And I am grateful that at this season I am able to preach His gospel, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sister White

9 December

Hello from a tropical island! The past few days the weather has been abnormally warm and my companion and I laughed this morning that I was wearing short sleeves and riding a bike in the middle of December. Nothing like the Utah snow...but I must admit, I am so grateful that I don't have to ride my bike in the snow! We are really so blessed!

I can't believe that Christmas is almost upon us. Since it still feels like the end of summer in Utah (nothing at all like last December's freezing rainy days) I sometimes sing as I am riding my bike "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas." But let's admit it, I really am not. I am so grateful to spend another Christmas here in Taiwan among the people I have grown to love so much! Let's just hope I don't get transfered--since the new transfer starts the 21 of December!

I have lots of exciting stories this week. The first is a rather funny story from the rather funny Relief Society president in the Taoyuan 2nd ward. Sister Mao (remember the one who asked me if I had clothes?) was at a baptism the other night and they had asked the missionaries to sing for the special musical number. After the baptism she pulled me aside and said, "Sister White, your singing was beautiful. You are so talented, it is scary! How are you ever going to find a husband that isn't intimidated by your abilities? Can't you make yourself a little dumber?" I laughed for a really really long time after that one. "Can't you make yourself a little dumber?" :)

We have been working on the decorations in our apartment. We wanted a bigger Christmas tree but didn't want to spend any money, and one day I saw a green coat left by another missionary. Well, I looked at our 3-foot stand up fan, looked back at the coat, and a Christmas tree was made. The one I made looked less like a Christmas tree and more like a coat sitting on a fan, but my companion fixed it and it looks pretty cool now. We put a brown skirt on the bottom and wrapped the "tree" with long raffia paper and stuck pass along cards on it. It actually looks better than I am describing it--I will have to send pictures next week. It is pretty exciting. :)

Last Wednesday was my "year on island" anniversary and so my companion and I went with 2 members to Xindian--the place of my "birth" and went to this beautiful lake. With permission from the assistants we rode in a paddle boat. It was fun but the main reason I wanted to ride in the boat was to take pictures of the other side of the lake. :) It was exciting to go back to the place of my birth and realize that I have grown so much since then! Just like a baby grows so much from when she is born until she is a year old! :)

I have a couple of short stories to share. Yesterday I called one of our new members, Rui Yi, and asked her what she was going to be doing at 1pm (she works from 4pm-midnight every day). She said, "I don't know--read my scriptures maybe?" It was a beautiful reply--and not just because I am a missionary! And then the other day we were getting off the train to go to our English class at the church and as we were walking toward the exit, this man walking next to me offered me his business card. My first inner reaction was irritation--I really didn't want to buy whatever--but as a missionary I smiled and graciously took the card. Then he said that his daughter had come to English class a year ago, he knew we were missionaries, and he said we could call him and talk to his family about the church/reinvite them to English class. It was exciting--he wasn't trying to sell me anything at all! The Lord really does place you where He wants you.

He Xiang Rong, our little 8-year old investigator from a less-active part-member family, got baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. Our MM leader suggested that she go up to bear her testimony on Sunday, but she was scared so I said I would go up with her. It was so cute to hear this little 8-year old's testimony--mostly about how she had to go under 2x because the first her foot came up. And after a bit of prompting from me (because when she got up in front of everyone she just stood there and said, "I don't know what to say!") she also said that she knows that Heavenly Father loves her. She is so adorable and I will try to send pictures next week.

And finally, as my own testimony, I know that Heavenly Father loves us and He answers our prayers. Last Sunday I was having a really hard day and feeling like a useless missionary. I felt that I had too many responsibilities and I would never be able to fulfill them all (it didn't help that one of our new members told her 18-year old investigator daughter that if she didn't get baptized she couldn't live in the house anymore and she left church crying, and because of a problem I brought up in MM meeting half the ward in Taoyuan was asking why our investigators in Bade didn't go to church if we weren't there, and it was fast Sunday but we had to wait a couple of extra hours to break our fast so we were starving) but I was excited to take two of our new members up to Taipei to attend the Christmas missionary/investigator fireside because I had been asked to play the organ. Well, I got there and sat down at the organ and one of the assistants (the very one who had asked me to play) came up to me and said, "Sister White, we don't need you! Someone else is going to play the piano."

What?! They don't need me? That was pretty much the last straw for me. I was having a pity party and asked the Lord if He needed me and if I was doing His work or if I was just wasting my and His time. Well, as we headed home from the fireside we went to get a ticket at the train station (which was very crowded because it was Sunday night) and all of the sudden this woman walked up to me and said, "Do you remember me?" Well, no I didn't but I wasn't going to say that. After looking at her for a minute I suddenly realized that I had gone on exchanges with the other Taoyuan sisters and we had gone to her house. She was less active--hadn't been to church for 3 months because she had been offended by some of the members--and I very straightforwardly had told her that it was ridiculous that she was putting her salvation in jeopardy because of other members and that she should return to church and receive the blessings that were waiting for her there. She said, "Sister White, I go to church every week now!"

What a tender mercy! I know that the Lord prepared a way for me to feel of His love and know that I am needed and the work I do is His work. The Lord is so merciful!

I love you all. Have a wonderful snowy day!

Sister White

2 December--One year on island

Happy December! I can't believe it is almost Christmas. The holidays are upon us so I decided that our apartment should look a little Christmasy. There was a 6 inch Christmas tree (yes, 6 inches) in a little box in the apartment so I put it on the table and bought some tinsel boughs and put them on the window. the problem is, I bought a silver and a blue one and wrapped them together but the blue one was shorter than the silver, so we now have a very tacky looking window decoration of blue and silver wrapped together tinsel with the blue ending before the silver. Oh well, maybe our Christmas decorations will get more advanced as the season progresses.

This week I would like to write about...MOLD. After living in a wet climate for a year (tomorrow is my official year mark on island! CRAZY!) I thought I was used to the mold that appears rapidly if you leave things wet for too long. But, this past week I ran into several surprises: mold on our whiteboard eraser (!!!), mold on some peanuts that we hadn't put in the fridge (who puts peanuts in the fridge?), and mold on my SUIT COAT JACKET!!! I opened my closet the other day and saw mold growing on my suit jacket. It was a very strange oddity...did you know that mold can grow on a suit coat?

Last week we had an awesome Thanksgiving. We made some cards for investigators and members to wish them a happy Thanksgiving so we went to take some of them around. The problem is that I can't draw--at all--so we took these cards with little turkeys on them that looked like a 5-year old drew them. Oh well, my companion said people pay big money for things like that!

For the second year in a row, I didn't have turkey (Taiwan doesn't really have turkey) for Thanksgiving, but I did get two dinners last Thursday! We had one scheduled in Taoyuan and one in Bade and there was no way we could get out of either one. The first was just a normal "missionary dinner" and then after riding an hour to Bade and working it off, we went to the second, which was a full out "Thanksgiving feast." Just no turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, or pie. But there were rolls! And chicken, and salad, and mashed potatoes, and green salad (with shrimp in it--I have never eaten shrimp in as many different ways as I have eaten it in Taiwan!) and pumpkin soup and muffins from Costco (lets admit it, muffins from Costco are the best!!). And the Lin family that invited us (6 missionaries) also invited several ward members, so it was like a big family with lots of little kids. It was a wonderful experience and definitely a Thanksgiving I will never forget! I love ward members who go out of their way to help the missionaries feel at home and missionaries who go out of their way to help the ward members feel like a family.

Let's see, what else. My brother and sister-in-law had their baby so now there are three little boys in the family! Wow, now I have more nephews than I have brothers!

Oh! And then the beautiful fun and funny story for the week. On Sunday one of the members that is our good friend in Bade (she is 22) came up to us at church and said, "My grandma is here visiting from Southern Taiwan--she is Protestant--and she has been looking at a lot of pictures of Jesus and asking questions like where did we come from, where will we go when we die, and which church is true and how do you know. Can you come to our house and explain these things to her?"

Well, more than excited to go, we were prepared for the one difficulty--Amy (the member)'s grandma speaks Amizhu, a native aboriginal language, and very little Chinese. And we don't speak Amizhu. And neither does Amy! Amy's mother (the grandma's daughter) does, but when we went over to teach her the mother was gone so our translator was the Spirit! We used a lot of pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit (I love that little book! It is awesome!) and after two days and the first two lessons, Amy's grandma told us thank you so much and she wants to get baptized! We said that we would have the missionaries down in Southern Taiwan find her--and I realized that I really want to learn to speak Amizhu! It was one of the most beautiful languages I have ever heard--perhaps because almost no one speaks it! Oh well. It really made me grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and the knowledge the the Spirit speaks all languages--even when we speak one and the investigator speaks another!

Love you all. Hope it isn't too cold--I am still wearing short sleeves here. :)

Sister White

25 November--Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! The weirdest (well, one of them) thing about serving in Asia is that no Western holidays are celebrated, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Tomorrow will just be a normal day for us of proselyting and teaching (although a member family did invite us to come to their house for a "thanksgiving dinner"--which was nice!) and our mission president has "cancelled" Christmas for us this year, which means besides the call home, it will also be a normal day of proselyting. Oh well, we celebrate the Chinese holidays, right? :)

Hmm, I am not quite sure what to write about this week. Our dearly beloved investigator Lin Wan Ting got baptized this Sunday.
It was our turn to be in the Taoyuan 2nd ward for church but Sister Lin was getting baptized in the Bade ward right after church. We planned on leaving the Taoyuan ward right before Relief Society so we could ride our bikes the 50 minutes to the Bade chapel and be there for her baptism. Well, one of our investigators (her name is Oscar--kind of weird, I know) was at church with us and when we said we were going to leave church early to ride 50 minutes in the rain she freaked out and, after several minutes of scolding us, she told us that she was going to take us in her car. When I told her that we still had to ride back to the Taoyuan chapel later, she said she would come and pick us up and bring us back. Well, we certainly weren't going to argue with her, so we got a break from riding almost 2 hours in the rain. The Lord really sends us angels in our need!

Last Wednesday at English class I told my class members that if they had any English papers that they wanted me to check their English on, I would be happy to do so. Well, one of my students, Sue, came up to me after class and said she had a paper and asked if I would correct it. Not supposing it would be too long or difficult, I readily agreed. I really want Sue to start investigating the church and I felt that a service opportunity would be a great way to strengthen that relationship.

Well, on Friday morning (about 1 pm--I guess not really morning) she gave it to me. I asked her when she needed to have it back and she hesitated, looked embarassed, and then said, "Tomorrow is a really good day in the Chinese calendar, and if I turn it in tomorrow it will be really good. Can you have it done by later today?" Well, no problem, until I looked at the paper--40 pages of an academic paper about science parks in Taiwan. It was one of the most boring things I have ever read--and I guess I didn't realize her English was that good! Anyway, we were planning on going up to Taipei with an investigator that day but she cancelled so I had plenty of time to correct the paper. Sue wanted to pay me but I told her that missionaries cannont accept money--so when she came to pick up her paper she had a huge bag full of fruit for us--a watermelon, apples, peanuts, tomatoes, and pears. I guess she decided that if we can't take cash we can take fruit!!!

Saturday night the ward asked us to help with an engagement party. Remember the wedding party last transfer? Well, we are good publicity for the non-members that came to the church to attend the engagement party (we stood at the door and handed out programs) so that was fun.

And then yesterday, we were eating lunch with a member at a restaurant. She had just taken us to meet her friend who she was hoping would start meeting with the missionaries and took us out to lunch after. When we were almost finished this man came up to me and said in broken English, "Are you from church?" When I nodded in the affirmative he said that his friend (eating lunch at another table) needed a religion, he himself was preparing to be baptized and become Christian, and he wanted us to come over to the table and talk to his friend. His friend looked like he hadn't slept in a week (which was true, he told us later) and said, "Can we go to the church right now? I need to confess. Is you pastor at the church?" I told him that we didn't have confessional but the missionaries would be happy to meet with him. He said, "Can they meet right now?" so I called the elders and they just happened to be at the church and have time. He and his friend went immediately to the church and the elders taught them. It was a great testimony that the Lord really is in charge of this work and He will lead his children to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Well, that's about it. Life is pretty good--exhausting, exhilerating, exciting, and every other "e" adjective. Hope you all are well. Eat lots of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner :)

Sister White

18 November

Dear all,

Last week's letter was so spiritual--but I don't want any of you to think I am having an extraordinary, less-than-normal mission. So hopefully this email will make you laugh. I laugh about these things too--after the fact, because they certainly weren't funny during!

First of all, Taiwan has suddenly gotten frigidly cold accompanied by constant rain. When freezing rain is dripping down my face and mud is all over my legs and I still have 40 minutes to ride on my bike, I try to think about how hot it was in the summer and how much better cold is than hot. It helps, I guess. :)

Last night we went to the Relief Society president's house for dinner and as we were leaving (because it was raining I had my jacket in a box in my bike and was just wearing short sleeves and a raincoat because if you wear the raincoat and the jacket it will be way too hot while riding a bike) the RS president started freaking out. "Short sleeves! Aren't you cold? Why aren't you wearing more clothes? Sister White, do you have clothes?" If you can pretend that I am telling this story and can hear the voice fluctuations, it will be a lot funnier. My companion and I laughed about it for a while--it will probably be one of our "transfer jokes." "Do you have clothes?"

Secondly, two weeks ago Elder Watson, one of the counselors in the area authority over South Asia, came to visit our mission and we had a zone conference. The assistants asked our district (4 elders and 2 sisters) to perform a musical number and we planned to do a simple rendition of "Israel, Israel God is Calling" with some other arrangements. My district last transfer was crazy and could rarely get through anything, including prayers, without laughing (Sister Olsen and I not included) and most times when we sang hymns at district meeting the elders ended up laughing. Hysterically. So with a little trepidation (on the part of Sister Olsen and myself) we started singing. We got though the first verse fine but on the second I was supposed to sing a solo and one of the elders started singing with me. Well, that was the end of it for the elders, and the last 3 verses of the song consisted of Sister Olsen and I singing and the elders standing up in front of everyone laughing hysterically. Some of them worked really hard to be able to sing but were only able to come in for about 10 seconds before they started laughing again, which sounded even worse. All the elders in the congregation were trying to hold back the laughter, the sisters looked disgusted, and I was really embarassed. Oh well, I am learning a lot about patience, right?

Afterward I had an interview with Elder Watson and he mentioned our musical number. I apologized for the elders' laughter and he said, "One of them looked like he was crying! What was wrong?" No, he was just laughing so hard he was crying. I am pretty sure we will go down in history as the worst musical number ever. :)

Let's see, what else. Some of you returned missionaries have responded to my comments about how tired I am--that is the life of a missionary, right? I think a lot of it, however, has to do with riding our bikes all over northern Taiwan. Last transfer Sister Chen came to my area on exchanges. When we were exchanging back Sister Olsen asked her how exchanges were and she said, "I feel like a wild horse that has been beaten!" And then Sister Pottle, who used to serve in Taipei and lived about 5 minutes away from the church there (and never had to ride more than 20 minutes) woke up and said, "It hurts to be awake!" The exhaustion is severe and some days I am so tired I can barely stay awake on my bike--but hey, I am nearing the end, right? I think that at the end of my mission I will really have nothing left to give--which is a good sign, right? As long as I make it to the end... :)

In other exciting news, the Lord is pouring out His blessings upon Bade right now. Yao Yu Er got baptized last Saturday--and I have never seen her look so happy in her life. She was literally glowing and once again I was reminded of how the gospel completely changes peoples' lives. We have an investigator who lives in Inge (very far away and up some steep mountains) who met the missionaries in Taichung (the other mission in Taiwan) and went to church twice, then came back home to Inge and said she wanted to be baptized. She passed her interview and will be getting baptized on Sunday after church. She has two beautiful little daughters (one is 3 and one is 8 months) and she is an amazing investigator--the kind that missionaries dream of. In Relief Society on Sunday they were talking about the Book of Mormon and asked this investigator, Lin Wan Ting, what she thought about the Book of Mormon. Even though she has investigated the church for only a month she said that the reason she wanted to get baptized was because she knew that the Book of Mormon was true. It was not because she thought the members were awesome or the church was beautiful or the missionaries were nice--it was because she knew for herself that the Book of Mormon was true. It was a beautiful, beautiful testimony to me of the power of the Book of Mormon.

And then for the oddly inspiring, the other day we got a call from a member who had just birthed a baby the night before. This member has some emotional problems (the kind that you need to take medicine for--but I can't understand what they say when they tell me the name in Chinese) and sometimes is a little weird but she called and asked if we could come and help her get up to go to the bathroom. We went over to the birthing center to see what we could do to help her and after carrying her iv, etc in for her we stood outside her door until she was done. One of the nurses came to talk to her (by this time her husband had returned) and she opened the door but didn't go in. The nurse then closed the door (the wife and her husband were arguing in rather loud voices), turned and looked at us, and said, "Is that woman a member of your church? She is weird. What is her problem?" Never one to spread rumors, I said that perhaps it was because she had just birthed a baby. The nurse said, "No, she is weirder than any other patient. We ALL think she is weird." And later, when the husband came out, the nurse asked him, "Is your wife a member of this church? Has she accepted Jesus? Because we ALL think she is really weird!" Notwithstanding the inappropriateness of the timing of this remark, my companion and I still laugh about this one too.

And then, while we were still waiting outside the door of this woman's room, another nurse came up and started talking to us. She asked what the name of our church was in English and we found out that she is from Indonesia, Christian, and is interested in coming to church because she hasn't gone for a long time in Taiwan. We invited her to come and she gave us her number and said she was willing to meet with us. God truly works in such mysterious ways! It is funny and exciting all at the same time.

Hope you are all well. Please keep praying for me as I still have 4 more months before I am allowed to die! :)

Sister White

9 November

Hello everyone! Sorry this will be rather short because I opened up my inbox this morning and it was full of baby pictures! I love getting pictures but it took a while to open them all because my inbox is so small and soooo slow. So if you could shrink down the pictures it speeds up the process a lot! Congratulations to Cambria and Tyson on the birth of their second (and going white water rafting with her the day after she was born!!!) and to Jocilyn and Kaitlyn for the continued growth of their baby boys.

Remember how I said the weather was cooling down here? Well, we have had an unfortunate heat spell--perhaps to remind me once again what summer is like. :) This is the beginning of a new transfer and I am still in Bade but I have a new companion--Sister Pottle. She is really awesome and one transfer younger than me so I knew her in the MTC. It might be dangerous with two such old missionaries in the same companionship :) but we will try to keep it chill.

The most exciting news is that our investigator Yao Yu Er is getting BAPTIZED!!!!! She is 16 and there are 9 children in her family (unheard of in Taiwan) and her parents were not very competent. She has had a very bad family experience but the gospel has really changed her life. It has been so exciting to watch her change over these last several months. She asked me to cut her hair (I will try to include a picture) and she looks like a completely different person now then when I first met her. She is happy and her face is full of light--and I cut her hair so it doesn't cover her face any more so you can actually see her eyes. And she is smiling. I have been so blessed to watch the gospel change people's lives!

I have two main points to share in this email. The first is about a defining moment--you know, one of those 5-minute stretches that changes your life (and your eternity). I was on exchanges with the sisters in Taoyuan and I was with a Sister Hsu, a Taiwanese. We went to an investigator's house but her son had H1N1 so she couldn't meet with us. We were walking away and saw a woman sitting down on the sidewalk with her head between her knees. Sister Hsu said "Do you think she's ok?" and I thought "I think she's crazy--let's not go and talk to her" but thankfully I didn't say that. We went over to talk to her and see if there was anything we could do to help her. It turns out that she actually lived in the same complex as this investigator and she was very sick and couldn't get up the strength to walk over to the gate and into the complex. Sister Hsu picked up her bags and we took her into the gate, where she had to sit down again but we made sure the guards were taking care of her before we left. I think sometimes as a missionary I get too caught up in being effective and efficient and forget that I am a representative of Jesus Christ--who was the Savior of the world. I was so grateful for Sister Hsu and her example of Christlike service!

And then these past several days I have just felt so grateful--mostly for the atoning sacrifice of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the love that our Heavenly Father has for us, but also for this chance I have had to be Their representative and watch as the restored gospel of Jesus Christ changes peoples' lives. Yesterday we were meeting with a new member who has had a difficult life. Even as a new member she was easily offended and didn't like the members in the ward (she got baptized about 2 months ago). Yesterday we asked her how she was doing and instead of going off on a 30 minute spiel about how awful her life is, she said that her life is so good she doesn't even know what to do! She said she still has problems but they don't even feel like problems anymore. She said it is the strangest thing ever!

And then remember Achin from Indonesia? I asked her recently how she was doing, and she said it is the weirdest thing. She has lots of problems and worries about money and her family in Indonesia and so many other things--but for some reason she feels at peace! She paid her tithing and said she wasn't worried about money. She studies the scriptures (and EVERYTHING else we gave her in Indonesian--we just gave her a Preach My Gospel and she LOVES it) every day and she said she feels at peace and knows that God will prepare a way for her.

This is the power of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! It doesn't change peoples' circumstances, but it changes them. It changes their heart, it changes their thought process, it even changes what they like to do and their goals and their families. Isn't the Lord so merciful?

Sister White

3 November

Hello everyone! Welcome to NOVEMBER! The weather is actually getting quite cold (as cold as Taiwan gets) and I am pretty happy. I might not be so happy when I ride for 2-3 months through freezing rain but in my opinion, anything is better than the melting heat that I suffered through for several months.

Let's see, what exciting things have happened this week? On Friday we held a Halloween party in Bade at the church. My companion and I were in charge of the food and decided that we would make some pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. You know, something easy that would not take too long but would be fun and different for Taiwanese people to try.

Well, we forgot the fact that it was so different that the ingredients would not be readily available in Taiwan! Many things are available in Taipei but Bade is out in the boonies so we run a little more dry in respect to foreign food here. Needless to say, we had to cut, peel, steam, mush, and season our own pumpkin (oh how I love Libby's pumpkin pie mix!) and find some other pretty creative ingredients to make the pie, bread, and cookies. But it was a big success and the pies and bread tasted delicious! Even more so after the several hours it took to prepare it all!

At the party (we had it for members and investigators) they had a donut eating contest--the kind where the donut hangs on a string from the ceiling and you can't use your hands. Well, the record for the fastest donut eater was 1:30 or something like that, and then they asked my companion and myself to try. I have always had a big mouth :) and I won hands down with a 42 second record. Yeah! :)

Oh, and next week are transfers so my preparation day next week is MONDAY. So don't forget, Mom and Kaitlyn!

We had temple tour last Thursday and as usual, I have some exciting stories to share. We met a man from Tibet (ever since I read Seven Years in Tibet I have been interested in Tibet and Tibetans) who just walked into the church and wanted a tour but only had 8 minutes before he had to catch his bus. His interest level was so high but he only had 2 minutes to listen to us--and then ran out of the church to catch his bus! (He was literally running).

And then we gave a tour to a member from Malaysia who had come to Taipei to go to the temple. Her conversion story was pretty exciting--she has been a member for more than 20 years--but what really intrigued me was when she told us about her niece, who was baptized when she was 18. She had been going to church for several years but her parents were devout Catholic and did not want her to get baptized. When she turned 18 she started making plans to be baptized and her aunt (the member) said, "Why don't you wait until you are 21 so your parents won't be so upset?" Because they were really mad. And her niece said, "I don't want to wait. I don't want to live in darkness any more. I need the gift of the Holy Ghost." So she got baptized. And then she went on a mission when she was 21. Her answer--"I don't want to live in darkness" reminded me of the hymn "Searching in darkness, nations have wept. Watching for dawn their vigil they've kept. All now rejoice, the long night is o'er--truth is on earth once more!" Oh how badly the world needs the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ--and baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

Yesterday morning we went to Yi Jun's house (the one I told you about last week) and followed up on her Book of Mormon reading. She said she gets home from work really late--about 10 pm--but she reads at least a chapter before she goes to bed. She says she doesn't know why, but she just loves the Book of Mormon and the more she reads the more she loves it! We taught her about baptism by authority and asked her if she would set a date and prepare to be baptized on December 5--and she said yes! She was really excited about it and kept asking questions about what she should wear and if she would have to bear her testimony, etc. Member referrals are the best! (Her friend is a member in another part of Taiwan and referred her.) It was so exciting to watch the plain and unpolluted truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ change Yi Jun's life--and that by teaching the simple doctrines people are influenced by the Spirit and feel the desire to be baptized. I think I can call her "miracle child" because I have already seen lots of miracles from teaching her.

Well, that is about it for the week. I hope that all of you had a great Halloween and are excited for Thanksgiving--there are nonstop holidays from now until I come home! Crazy!

Sister White

28 October

Wow, November is almost here! I feel like this month has just raced past. I think the cooler weather helped alot. Oh, and next week my preparation day is TUESDAY, so if you want to write me be sure to write a day earlier than usual.

Let's see, what is exciting about this week. My companion and I are riding just as much as ever but we have slowed down just a little (we have tried not to be so late so we don't have to ride so fast) and it is not so hot, so I don't feel like I am going to collapse every second anymore. Just every other second. Yesterday I was on exchanges so me and Sister Chen (my MTC companion) rode from Bade to Inge and then back to Bade and then to Taoyuan, took the train to Zhongli, and then changed back and Sister Olsen and I took the train back to Taoyuan and then rode out to Bade. Unfortunately my speedometer was not on so I can't tell you the stats, but I was so tired that in our 7:00 lesson I kept yawning. I thought I had covered them up pretty well but my companion told me after that it was really funny--I would be in the middle of a sentence and then there would be a long pause and I had this huge smile on my face (trying to keep my teeth clenched while I yawned) and then I would keep talking. Oh well. And I messed up a rather important grammar structure and instead of saying that Jesus Christ was crucified, He crucified them. I was so flustered after that that it took me several minutes before I could speak normally again.

Sunday night we went to a member's house for dinner. Unlike the US, the ward members in Taiwan don't usually have the missionaries over for dinner. But our MM leader in Taoyuan is a returned missionary from California (and the one before him served in Canada) so they started a program where each month they pass around a sign up sheet in Relief Society and we have dinners with the members most nights. It is a great chance to meet the members and work with them with referrals, etc--and most of the time the food is great. I have gotten used to almost all the foods in Taiwan and have come to love lots and lots of it. There is only one thing that I can't stand and that is stinky tofu--it smells like open sewer and tastes about the same. Well, Sunday night we went to this really sweet members house and she was so excited to tell us what we were having for dinner--duck soup and stinky tofu! Well, missionaries are always polite and eat everything but my stomach was really unhappy with me the next day. Oh well, the things we do as missionaries, right? :)

And then a little story about what I have learned as a missionary. When I left the MTC I thought I knew what to do to be a good missionary--and things like going to funerals, weddings, and track meets did not fit in that category. But I quickly found out that as missionaries, we are not entities unto ourselves--we are here to help the ward. And I learned that when you do what the ward asks you to do, no matter what it is, the Lord blesses you in incredible and miraculous ways. Last week we were going to visit a less active that the ward asked us to meet with. She had been quite hard to get ahold of and had cancelled on us before so we were a little wary of what we would find when we got there. What we found was a beautiful mother with two adorable daughters (12 and 10) and the 10 year old had not been baptized. Their 12 year old friend was over at their house as well and when we started talking about baptism and how we wanted to help the 10 year old (her name is Xiang Rong) prepare for baptism, their friend (Shu Hui) said, "I want to be baptized too!" So they both set dates for the end of November and all three little girls came to church on Sunday. My companion and I have been so blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord--He is pouring them out without measure upon us!

And one more lesson. I was reading in the David O McKay RS/Priesthood manuel and he told a story about his father, who on his mission to Scotland found that when he preached about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, the people turned away and would not listen. He decided to just preach about faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, etc.--the basics of the gospel of Christ. It says, "In a month or so he became oppressed with a gloomy, downcast feeling, and he could not enter into the spirit of his work." He decided to go to a cave (after several weeks of this) and pray with all his heart to find out how to get this feeling to leave. "He entered the cave or sheltered opening, and said, 'Oh, Father, what can I do to have this feeling removed? I must have it lifted or I cannot continue in this work'; and he heard a voice...say, 'Testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.'" (pg. 91-92)

After several months of being in Taiwan, I found that many people, when I told them the story of the first vision and used Joseph Smith's own words, spaced out, didn't listen, and then would ask weird questions as soon as I was done, such as, "Do you want something to drink?" It irritated me and I decided to not use Joseph Smith's own words, to just tell them the story and try to help them understand that God loves them and they can feel that love through the Book of Mormon. After all, most people in Taiwan do not have a correct understanding of or even belief in God, and I felt that this was an important principle for them to base their belief on.

Well, I soon learned my lesson and repented of this behavior and use Joseph Smith's own words as often as possible--even with members, etc. So yesterday we went to visit a referral in Inge and shared with her a first lesson. She had a Christian background but hadn't been to church in a while and wasn't really familiar with Christian doctrine. So we started teaching her the first and tried to get her involved. After a few unsuccessful tries, we just continued to the part about Joseph Smith, at which point her attention became fixed, the Spirit came into the room, and we bore powerful testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. It was beautiful. And then my companion (Sister Chen) asked her if she believed what we just said, and she said, "Yes. I don't know why, but I believe. I was getting so excited to hear what would happen!"

It was a beautiful testimony to me that through a knowledge of the Restoration, people can gain a beautiful testimony of the truthfulness of this work, the nature of God, and everything they need to know to progress to salvation and eternal life. This gospel is true! Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and through him They restored the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Love you all,

Sister White