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

21 October

Wow, can you believe October is almost over? It is definitely cooling down and getting windy--in preparation for winter, in which the weather is cold and rainy all the time. Oh well, I guess anything is better than heat, right? :)

This past week was pretty exciting. Actually, every week is pretty exciting. :) We had regional conference this week, which meant that all of the stakes and districts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, and the other countries in South East Asia all watched a broadcast from Salt Lake directed specifically to southeast Asian members, each translated into our own respective languages. Which means that for two weeks in a row, we have attended church in English! It was awesome. Sister Dalton, Elder Oaks, and President Uchtdorf (and Elder Rasband of the area authority presidency) spoke specifically to members of southeast Asia.

Sister Dalton told this awesome story about a couple of years ago when she spoke at YW General Meeting about a marathon she had run. She said that she got an email from a Brother Lai in Singapore who asked if she thought it was ok to run a marathon on Sunday since he was training for one and the only marathons in Singapore were on Sunday. Sister Dalton wrote back and basically told him to ask the Lord and read 1 Samuel 2:30--"He who honors God, God will honor." Well, she never heard from him again until 2 years later when she went to Singapore and was greeted at the airport by several people, among whom was Brother Lai. She asked him if he had run the marathon and he said yes, but "I did it on Saturday and I did it in the traffic."

She then told of how Brother Lai the next year had a business trip to Salt Lake and it was at the same time as the Saturday St. George marathon! He ran it with Sister Dalton and her husband and said that he never dreamed that he would have an opportunity to go to Utah and run a marathon. Sister Dalton then told us that as we are faithful and obedient, choicest blessings will be ours--even if they are not immediate.

And then President Uchtdorf said that since his grandsons were in Taiwan on missions, their mom had asked him to say hello to them. He said that he would instead say hello to all of the missionaries from their mothers and that they loved us. We were at the stake center watching it and Elder Evans, one of his grandsons, was there as well. We all laughed while Elder Evans pretended that he did not know what we were all laughing about. I think it would be pretty weird to have your grandfather say hello to you in a regional conference!

And then--he asked everyone who was listening that if they had not already comitted to go on a mission, to commit right then. He said there were 367 missionaries from this area but 1500 who could serve! He said "if you have not decided to go on a mission, decide now. Commit yourself, and commit yourself to your Heavenly Father." It was really awesome and quite powerful.

Let's see, what else is exciting. I guess I can share a miracle with you so this entire email will just be spiritual. I will try to share something funny next week. :) Sometimes we find ourselves teach crazy people. With serious mental problems. I guess our chapels are an easy target for weird people to wander in and want to meet with the missionaries. BUT, sometimes really golden people just walk in and want to meet with us. The other day we were teaching English class Wednesday night and this woman walked in and asked my companion if she could buy a Bible here. She has been watching Christian tv and they told all the listeners to go and start attending a church close to their homes. Well, she lives about 3 minutes away and so wanted to come to our church. We gave her a Book of Mormon and started meeting with her and she is absolutely awesome. It is so exciting to see the gospel begin to change people's lives! Isn't it so awesome that Heavenly Father allows us to participate in this work?

Love you all. Let me know if anything exciting happens in your lives. :)

Sister White

14 October

Hello everyone!

I have several exciting stories from this week but I just got back from a very long and strenuous hike and I am kind of tired. So it might come out kind of spastic. Sorry. :)

The first exciting story is that I am the coordinating sister for my stake, which means that I get to go on exchanges with the Taoyuan and Zhongli sisters. Last week I went to Taoyuan with Sister Tedjamulia for two days. And I was so glad I had a bike odometer--because I rode more than 50 km in two days! No wonder I am so tired all the time! The day after I got back I fell asleep on the floor after I got up in the morning. My morning exercises are getting more and more pathetic and sometimes my morning prayer lasts for the full 30 minutes of exercise time. Not because I am super spiritual but because I am super tired. :)

So while I was on exchanges we went to visit a woman who is blind to read the Book of Mormon to her. She is actually transcribing the Book of Mormon into Chinese braille and we would read to her and sentence by sentence she would punch the dots into the paper. Right now there is not a Chinese braille Book of Mormon so having missionaries read to her is the only way she gets scripture reading in. One of the missionaries calculated how long it would take and said at the rate that she is going, it would take 12 YEARS to finish putting the Book of Mormon into Chinese braille. After we left her house, I was extremely touched by her sacrifice and her faith and realized that really, the Lord asks so little of us and gives us so much in return! And truly, sacrifice breeds faith.

And then, Friday night Lin Man Rou (we call her Xiao Man) got baptized! We were very excited because she has been investigating for several months and has developed enough faith to walk through the gate to join the path to eternal life. :)

The best part of the baptism was halfway through the service, when the elder next to me said "I forgot to turn off the font!" and ran out of the room. Well, the small overflow drains can only handle so much and the girls bathroom was flooded. After the baptism, my companion and I went in search of a mop or a squegee to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, all they had was a scrubbrush with a long handle. Never deterred, I grabbed the scrubbrush and tried to sweep all of the water back into the baptismal font so it could go down the drain. It was a painstaking process but after only about 25 minutes the floor was close to dry. It was definitely a memorable baptismal service!

And now a story about how my lack of humility once again gets in the way of being effective. :) Yesterday there was a member in the Bade ward who wanted the missionaries to come to her house to eat lunch. Well, neither my companion nor I knew where she lived so the elders gave us some directions. Never one to trust elders (sorry) I looked at my map, couldn't find the road they told me to meet them at, and figured that they read the character wrong and went to where I thought it must be. Well, when it wasn't there you think I would learn my lesson, but I have never been one to put my pride down quickly! When I called the elders to ask where they were to meet them, the elder told me "on xin xing road" but he said the tones wrong, making it a completely different character and definitely not on the map. Well, once again doubting the ability of the elders to give directions, I tried my own way several times. I won't bore you with the details but just know the last laugh was on me, when we were almost an hour late because I kept going to the wrong places while the elders waited patiently for us. I certainly wasn't laughing then--I was actually quite frustrated--but it is kind of a funny story. Maybe one of these days I will be more humble, eh?

Oh, and finally, conference was AWESOME! It was so great to hear 8 hours of the prophets and apostles speak IN ENGLISH. I understood every word and it was really really exciting. And Monday was zone conference and they asked me to give a talk. The topic? "How the Book of Mormon has changed my mission."

Anyway, please excuse the spastic nature of this email. I hope you are all doing well! And congratulations to my sister Kaitlyn, who successfully birthed her first child, a little boy named Talmage. (Their last name is James.) (Just kidding!) Love you all,

Sister White

PS--Brittany, congratulations on your mission call to Armenia!

7 October

October is here! And that means two things...cooler weather and GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!! I know that you have all already seen it (by the way, I heard they will be building a temple in Brigham City...seriously?!) but we watch it a week after the fact. Which means this Saturday and Sunday. We are all really stoked and excited.

So the exciting thing about General Conference is that last Tuesday we were up in Taipei doing temple tour and we were walking into the kitchen at the church to eat our lunch. Up in Taipei the church building has 7 stories, with the distribution center in the basement, two chapels, many classrooms, a gym, and church employees who work on the 4th level. So anyway we were walking into the kitchen and this woman walks up to us and asks us if we can help her translate something. It was a talk and she was trying to translate it into English. After helping her with several difficult sentences, I caught a glimpse of the title of the talk...and realized that it was President Monson's Oct 2009 general conference address! So even though our help was minimal, I helped translate his conference talk into Chinese...and I totally read it before it was given. It was exciting. :)

I am sure that many of you may have heard that there was a pretty serious typhoon in the Philippines. The same typhoon (it was actually a twin typhoon--2 in 1) was heading for Taiwan (and my companion and I were getting pretty excited for a typhoon day because we were exhausted!!!!!) but never hit full force. It did, however, bring very strong winds and lots of rain--not strong enough for our mission president to tell us to stay inside but so strong that we could hardly ride our bikes at times. The cold rain was a relief after several months of melting but it was a bit of an irritation to have freezing rain pelting into our faces with 30 mph winds for 3 days straight. Oh well, the life of a missionary is not all fun and games, right?

But some of it is fun and games. I guess my parents were tired of hearing about how I ride all over Taiwan at death speed and so they sent me a speedometer for my bike. :) And I finally installed it yesterday, and so the stats are in. Yesterday we rode more than 9 miles, our top speed was 16 mph, and our average speed was 8.2 mph. And it was a pretty normal/chill day. I just wish now that I had something that could measure the speed of the wind blowing our bikes over! :)

Oh, and I was called to be the "coordinting sister" for Taoyuan and Zhongli, which means that I get to go on exchanges again. Remember when my companions in Tucheng were the exchange sister? So I am excited for a party a week again on exchanges! :)

And now some news about Achin, the Indonesian new member. When we went up to Taipei on Tuesday, we went to the distribution center and picked up some indonesian materials that we had ordered about a month ago--they were finally in! So right after her baptism, we gave Achin an Indonesian hymnbook, 3 Liahonas, the RS Joseph Smith manual, the proclamation, and the Living Christ. It was so exciting that she will finally be able to read things in Indonesian! And she is so awesome. When we went over to her house to give her the Indonesian things she had a tithing slip and asked us to fill it out for her (because it has to be written in Chinese). So we filled out the address and the ward part for her and gave it to her, and she said "thank you" and then reached into her bag and pulled out a stack of 30, gave them to us, and asked us to write her address on all of them! We laughed and said we would write her address on 3 and then she could ask the members for help on the rest. It is inspiring to see her so faithful--that even though she doesn't understand anything she still goes to church, and even though she has severe money problems she still pays her tithing, and she has been introducing us to some of her friends too. And asked us to have missionaries visit her children in Indonesia. She is just awesome!

And now for a story about the weird and the wild in Taiwan. The chapel in Bade is beautiful and pretty big and so we get all sorts of weird people that will walk in when the gates are open and come to church on their own. Some of them are ready for the gospel, and some of them are crazy, and some of them are drunk.

The other night my companion and I were at the church meeting with Achin and we were sitting in the foyer and had the door open because the weather is FINALLY cooling down. So we were talking to her and all of a sudden this man with long hair and a cut on his face without a shirt or shoes (he was only wearing pants) and very VERY drunk walks in and stares at us. I thought to myself, "if we ignore him he will go away" so I just tried not to make eye contact and hope he would just walk out on his own. My companion, however, ordered him out. It was actually pretty funny because what she said in Chinese was "you can go outside. Now. There is no one here you are looking for. Go outside! Go! Go!" So he turned around and walked outside.

So yesterday we were at the church while one of our investigators was having a baptismal interview (so two elders were there) and he walked in again--just as drunk but this time wearing both a shirt and shoes. Luckily the elder who wasn't giving the interview took him outside and sent him home. And when the elder came back in, he said, "Isn't the Word of Wisdom so awesome?"

Yes, it is!

Well, I have more to say but I am tired of writing. Hope you all enjoyed General Conference and stay away from shirtless drunk men. :)

Sister White

28 September

Hello everyone!

I am an aunt! That is the exciting news for the week. My sister Jocilyn had her baby and named him Peter Lloyd May. And he is the cutest nephew I have. :)

And now for the missionary work. Achin got baptized! She is the Indonesian investigator (now member) that we taught last transfer. The story of her baptism is really interesting so I thought I would share part of it with you.

Achin is here in Taiwan taking care of her brother-in-law, who is Taiwanese and 83 years old. It is a long story but the short of it is, her sister died and so Achin came from Indonesia to take care of her brother in law, who needs a lot of help. Well, she really doesn't like it at all, especially since her family is still in Indonesia, but the gospel has brought her a lot of joy.

Anyway, so Saturday afternoon (about 1:30) we get a call from Achin, who tells us that her brother in law is very sick and she might have to take him to the hospital...and then she calls again and tells us that she is in the hospital with him. And we start to panic because her baptism WILL go through, whether or not her brother in law is in the hospital. So we start calling our ward mission leader, and talking to the other elders, etc, to try to find a way to get her from the hospital to the baptism and have someone at the hospital to take care of the brother in law (you can't just leave them in Taiwanese hospitals). And we had a baptismal interview at 3 in the Taoyuan church and a lesson at 5 in the Bade church and then the baptism at 7 in Bade. So while our investigator is having her interview, we are outside trying to figure out how to get Achin to her baptism.

And then, even though I warned our district leader that this investigator might not pass her interview and to not take more than an hour (because we had to ride an hour to get to our lesson in Bade) he still took an hour and 45 min (and she still didn't pass) and we had to change our lesson and then ride like crazy to get to the Bade chapel. We finally asked the elders to go to the hospital and take care of the brother in law so Achin could come to her baptism--and the MM leader would go and pick her up and take her back.

But by the time we left the Taoyuan chapel we only had 25 minutes to make it to the chapel an hour away--so after riding really fast we caught a bus and took the bus the rest of the way.

But the busses in Taiwan have no maximun capacity. If they can stuff more people in they will, and that was how this bus was. It was so crowded that I just looked at it and got claustrophobic, and my companion and I got on and I tried to stand on my tiptoes and hang on to the ceiling bars so I could get some fresh air, all the while being touched on all sides by people and purses, etc. Did I mention that I have a very big bubble?

But, we finally made it to the lesson (only 15 minutes late!) and Achin made it to her baptism (only 20 minutes late) and the speaker made it too (only 50 minutes late) and Achin got baptized and then confirmed the next day.

Needless to say, it was quite the adventure!

Oh, and I forgot to mention that this transfer I will be in Bade once again and with the same companion, Sister Olsen. We are really excited. :)

Speaking of transfers, I only have this one and then 3 more before my mission comes to a close. I was in the mission office two weeks ago and one of the office elders told me my stats. So as of two weeks ago, I had:

15593969 seconds
259900 minutes
4332 hours
181 days
25 weeks
6 months
4.31 transfers

left on my mission. Of course, when the senior missionaries and the mission president's wife heard that he gave me my stats, they were properly horrified and told him that he could NEVER tell anyone how many seconds they had left on their mission! But it is ok--I am a sister, and it is not like a secret when I am going home. But I thought it was funny and wanted to share it with you.

Well, I had a lot more adventures but I am tired of typing, so that is all for now. Oh, and just a bit of good news--it is finally turning into fall! And getting SLIGHTLY cooler. I weep tears of gratitude--or maybe it is because of the dust blown into my eyes by the 30 mph winds that we have been experiencing lately! My companion said the other day that she didn't know she needed to bring goggles on her mission! Sometimes the wind is so strong that it blows my helmet off (but the buckle thing keeps it on my head) and we wonder why there is ALWAYS a head wind and never a tail wind. Oh well.

Sister White

23 September

Hello everyone! I wrote this awesome email and then accidentally deleted it before I saved it--and I am too tired to write the same things over again. So you will get the bare bones without any beautiful language structures. Sorry. (ps--my next preparation day is on Monday!)

So my sister should have her baby this week--hopefully!--and then my other sister in one or two weeks. Crazy.

And then the news for the preparation day. A couple of weeks ago one of the elders in our district told us that he had wanted to run a marathon his whole mission and this was the transfer to do it. Of course my companion and I wanted to come along (on our bikes) and so he decided that after 5 weeks of training on preparation days, he would run week 6 preparation day to the west coast of Taiwan and back.

So this morning my companion and I left our house at 3 am (to avoid the heat) and accompanied the elders to the coast. It was a very weird Taiwan we saw early in the morning--the only places open were 7-11's, betel nut stands, and internet cafe's with people playing games all night long. And two sister missionaries getting ready to ride 26 miles. :)

Anyway, the elders (2 running and the other 2 biking) went really strong for the first 12 miles or so. But once we got to the coast they kind of died--with knees giving out and energy zapped and the works. Although my companion and I acted as the medical, water, and cheerleader team, once we got to the coast we took off and found a beautiful deserted beach (it was 6:30 am!) and played in the water (don't worry, no swimming) and took lots of great pictures--which was actually our purpose in going. There was no way we were going to miss out on an opportunity to see the ocean--especially at sunrise!

The elders kept running (by this time all 4 were running) while we played at the beach :), but when we finished we caught up to them to see how they were doing. When we saw them them were all staggering and limping and looked like they were about to die. And I turned to my companion, and she turned to me, and started singing "the errand of angels is given to women" and laughed. We thought it would be a funny movie scene of these elders barely able to walk and smiling sisters come riding up on bikes with sports drinks and ace bandages and cookies. :)

Anyway, once we started heading back we left the elders (who still had about 6-7 miles to go and could barely walk) and just came back. They might be still out there, for all I know. But the point it, we went to the ocean today! It was beautiful. And I have lots of funny stories to share about it but they probably wouldn't sound funny on email, so I wll save them for when I get home.

And just so you don't think my mission is all play, I will let you know that Achin, our Indonesian investigator, is getting baptized on Saturday. She is seriously so awesome and has a lot of faith--even though she can't understand anything at church and can't understand much in our lessons, she reads the Book of Mormon every day and has received answers to her prayers. Teaching her helped me realize once again what power the Book of Mormon has to change lives--and also made me grateful that they have a Book of Mormon translated into Indonesian!

Well, I will try to send a better email next week. It is still hot here but I think we only have a couple more weeks until it starts cooling down!!! :)

Sister White

16 September

Hello everyone! The good news for this week is that I am still alive. Some of you have mentioned that you love reading my bike riding stories/adventures--I am sure they will make me laugh when I get home but for now I just want to die! :) We went to President's interviews this last week and President Grimley asked me how I was doing. I told him that I felt like I was going to die--that every day my biggest dream/desire is just to sleep and I didn't think I was going to make it any more. He said, "Well, we want to make sure you get off the island alive! You can sleep the whole 18 hour plane ride home!" and then told me to try to go to bed at 10 instead of 10:30. He is really an awesome mission president.

Speaking of interviews, I hit my year mark tomorrow which means I only have six months from today until I go home. At interviews President Grimley asked me if I wanted to go home one transfer early--so Feb. 2 instead of March 16. I laughed and told him not to give me that temptation--and then keep thinking about how nice it would be to go home and sleep in February instead of in March! I think it was really weird that he asked me--but I guess he asked every missionary who is going home in March. Because of the Chinese New Year, many of the Taiwanese missionaries scheduled to go home with me will go home one transfer early so they can see their families. So I guess president just asked everyone. It was weird, though.

Speaking of weird, I have lots of weird stories for this week. The first is about H1N1, or the swine flu. I guess there has been a recent case of H1N1 here in Taiwan (there have been like 3 cases so far) and so there has been a big scare and everyone has been taking precautionary measures (sometimes they go over the top here :). There are signs everywhere about how to avoid H1N1, and many more people than usual have donned the green doctor's mask (lots of people wear those here). So last Sunday we were going to church and we walked in the door and there was a member standing there holding a bottle of spray hand sanitizer, standing next to a table with a box of green doctor's masks. It was her job to spray everyone's hands as they came in the door to church, and no one got past her! Two little boys came running in and she chased them down and blocked them off and sprayed their hands before she let them go up to sacrament meeting. Then a father came in holding a little baby girl and the member sprayed his hands but he was late so he started walking quickly up the stairs. And the member chased him down and sprayed the little child's hands, which were resting on her dad's back because she was sleeping. It was really funny and my companion and I laughed about it for a long time. And then we took pictures donning the green masks and hand sanitizer.

Speaking of sacrament meeting (how many paragraphs can I start with 'speaking of'?) as sisters my companion and I switch off every other week between the Bade ward and the Taoyuan ward. So we went to the Taoyuan ward two weeks ago (with the hand sanitizer) and so this past week we went to Bade. When we went back to Taoyuan that evening to meet with some investigators, we were shocked to hear that someone had been proposed to at church! Our MM leader just got back from his mission in California and his girlfriend (who is a member of the Bade ward) just got back from her mission in southern Taiwan. His family was scheduled to speak in church that day and so the bishop also asked his girlfriend to report on her mission in their ward that day. So then after they all spoke and the closing song and prayer had happened, everyone was about to leave when the first counsellor got up and asked everyone to stay for a minute. Then our MM leader got up and started reading this letter to his girlfriend and crying (and all the women in the ward were crying too) and then proposed to her. And she looked around at the ward and said "In front of so many people!" and then said yes. Only in Taiwan! My companion and I were really upset that we missed it--but, that is the life of a sister.

Speaking of "only in Taiwan," this past Saturday our stake had a "Sports Day" where all the wards came and competed in running, dodgeball, tug of war, etc. They asked the missionaries to come so we brought some of our investigators and they had us missionaries be a team and compete against the other wards. In addition to being incredibly hot (two people passed out and they had to take them to the hospital), neither my companion nor I have run hard core for a long time and so we were terrified to see what would happen. Well, I guess the "death speed" bike rides have done something good for us because we both ran really fast. And have regretted it ever since, because at least for me my entire body is in agony every time I laugh, breathe, ride a bike, or walk. Just a little bit of an irritation! :)

And finally, one piece of good news and one last story (a little more on the serious side). Liu Rui Yi, and investigator we have been working with this transfer, got baptized on Saturday! And Achin (the Indonesian) is on track to get baptized in two weeks. It is weird to me to have so many baptisms in a transfer (more than my whole mission!) and it really is a testimony to me that this is the work of the Lord and He will do what He wants--and sometimes he lets us get to see the sweet, sweet fruits of our efforts and His magnificent power in action.

And the story. This is about my awesome companion, Sister Olsen. One thing I have come to understand about companions is (a lot like marriages) if you don't get along with your companion everything seems miserable, no matter how great your circumstances are. And if you do get along with your companion, no matter how bad your circumstances are, life is great. Well, my companion is awesome and I thank Heavenly Father every day for her example and how fun it is to be with her. Lots of times as a missionary it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and look at people as "potentials" or "not potential" in terms of listening to the gospel and forget that we are doing the work of the Master, and when we come home at night He really doesn't care how many set ups we got. He just cares if we are doing His work. And my companion is a great example to me of this principle.

The other night we were sitting on a bench eating dinner (really quickly because we were didn't want to be late for our next appointment) and this old man sits down at a bench across from us. I keep eating my dinner because we are in kind of a weird area of town, next to a nursing home for severe cases, and going to be late and so I am trying to eat as fast as I can. Plus, I rarely contact men--and he probably wouldn't even understand Chinese. And then my companion goes over and starts talking to him and asking about his children, etc., and all of a sudden I got it. Missionary work is so not about the numbers. I saw my companion doing what the Savior would have done if He was here--talking to the man and cheering him up and helping him to feel the love of God. And I was humbled and resolved even more to do the work of the Master and not worry about results.

So that is my spiritual lesson of the week. Isn't my companion awesome? And missionary work is really great too. Hope you are all well--

Sister White

9 September

Hello everyone! The crazy news for today is that I hit my year mark next week. Which means that I only have 6 months left of my mission. Crazy. Yesterday all the sister missionaries had a meeting in Taipei and I looked around and realized I am one of the oldest (mission wise) sisters in the mission! And I think I am the oldest (age wise) American in the mission, which makes me feel really old. This morning I started having "post mission fears" about going back to BYU and being 23. That is just really really old!

Anyway, but enough about how old I am. This past week was really crazy--my companion and I feel like we have taken a biking tour of Taiwan and we are so tired! We really try to be effective but having such a big area means a lot of juggling and a lot of riding. Sometimes we have to be in two cities in one day and so we have to ride back and forth. The other day we had to go to Taoyuan in the morning and then to Bade at noon and then back to Taoyuan in the evening, and then back to Bade at night to go home. it was exhausting. And my companion said to me yesterday, "I feel like we just ride all over Taiwan but we don't do anything--no teaching, no contacting, just running all over!"

So I will tell a story to illustrate. Monday was district meeting, and the zone leaders were coming to teach it. The zone leaders actually live in Bade (our district meeting is in Taoyuan) and so we teach the women in their area too. So they called us the night before and asked us if we could come with them to a lesson at 5:30 Monday night in Bade, but we said there was no way because we had an appointment at 6:30 in Inge (about a 45 minute ride away). But then after district meeting my companion was teaching one of the zone leaders (young missionaries have to teach the zone leaders every transfer to improve their Chinese and teaching) and the other zone leader asked me several times if there was ANY way we could come with them to teach this investigator--she had come to attend a baptism on Saturday so we met her then, but she came drunk and I guess her husband just died two weeks ago and this zone leader really wanted us to go with them to teach her. Well, I finally gave in and said that it would kill our legs but we would go to teach her and then they would have us teach her after that.

Well, unfortunately we did not leave the Taoyuan chapel until 5:00 and the appointment was for 5:30. It usually takes us 45-50 minutes to ride to the Bade chapel and it is all uphill. So my companion and I took off riding at top speed (I call it death speed) to get to Bade. About halfway there my body just gave out and I started praying, just let me die. Nothing in life is worth the pain I am in right now and I just want to lay down in the rice fields and die. We were riding so fast and my body is seriously slowly falling apart. It has been a long year and some days I just don't think I can bike anymore!

Anyway, so we made it to the Bade chapel at about 5:35 and met the zone leaders there, who left the Taoyuan chapel at the same time as us. And one of them turned to me and said, "I can't believe you sisters made it here so fast! We just barely got here and we booked it all the way." And thankfully I didn't hit him or even respond but I thought it was an incredibly chauvenistic comment--does he really think that elders bike so much faster than sisters?

Anyway, so I was already irritated at him and I wanted to die, or at least pass out and cry because I was so tired, but we went with them to the investigator's house. And then she wasn't there, so they called her, and it turns out that she had gone to Southern Taiwan that afternoon! I was so upset I just wanted to cry. We had just killed ourselves for nothing...and we still had to go to Inge! Well, thankfully my companion is awesome and she helped me laugh about it--plus we still had a beautiful ride to Inge, which is out in a countryish area.

So then we ride to Inge and try to find the second counsellor's house, because we had a dinner appointment with him and his wife. Unfortunately, I have never been to Inge (pronounced een-guh) and my companion had never gone there from Bade before (only from Taoyuan). And so we got lost. And while we were trying to find their house, they kept calling our cell phone to see where we were, so I would stop and pull my phone out but inevitably it would bump against something in my bag and hang up on them. Every time! And we couldn't call them back because they only have a house phone, and we can't call house phones from our cell phone.

Finally we pulled over to use a pay phone and call them and tell them that we would be late--and then finally made it to their house, half an hour late. After riding all over Inge, Bade, and Taoyuan as fast (or faster) as our little legs could bike. So we ate with them and did an FHE with them, and then rode back home to Bade.

My companion and I keep joking that we want to buy a bike odometer so we can see how much we ride every day--I am pretty sure we topped 50 miles this week.

Anyway, so that is my exciting life as a missionary. I feel like my body is a lot like my bike--after several accidents and a very long year, my bike is starting to fall apart and just can't make it sometimes. Me too. But the work of the Lord will continue to move forth, and I only have six more months until I can go home and sleep for a month. :)

Love you all,

Sister White