Hello everyone! I just want to start off my letter by saying that the weather in Taiwan is even crazier than the weather in Utah...which I didn't really know was possible. Yesterday my companion and I were riding our bikes out to Shulin (another city--I live in Tucheng but we have three cities in our area) and it was so hot! I am not even kidding. I basically felt like I was going to die. It was really really humid and the sun was beating down and by the time we got to the hill by our new member's house (which is huge by the way--the hill, not the house) I wanted to die. I usually ride my bike up the mountain (I will call it a mountain because it is pretty steep) but yesterday I was so hot and felt like I was going to pass out so I got off my bike and started walking it up the hill. I was almost crying, it was so hot, and I am pretty sure I was dehydrated and I was just praying, "Heavenly Father, don't let me pass out! Just let me make it to the top of the hill. Please help me!"
Well, my prayers were answered and I made it to the top of the hill. I was covered in sweat and could barely walk straight but I made it. Our new member, Sister Chen, had a friend that she wanted us to teach (this makes #3 since her baptism--member referrals are so awesome!!!) so we taught the friend about the Book of Mormon and then the friend left and we shared a new member lesson with Sister Chen. We were in Sister Chen's house for about 2 hours and right before we left, we heard this huge thunder and lightning (saw the lightning, heard the thunder :) and it started POURING! Just our luck, we had forgotten our raincoats (because we had to use them the day before and had hung them up to dry so they didn't get moldy) so Sister Chen gave us these really cheap ones that are like garbage bags. We walked outside and rode our bikes to a member's house that wanted to give us dinner--and it was seriously like riding through a lake! The rain was huge and beat down on us and my garbage bag raincoat ripped and so I got soaked--but I was laughing the whole way from joy because Heavenly Father definitely answered my prayer and it wasn't so hot anymore!!! I like rain a lot better than heat--especially when I have a choice of being soaked with sweat or soaked with rain. :)
So this Saturday our mission had the opportunity of going to the place where the island of Taiwan was dedicated for missionary work 50 years ago. It is the 50th anniversary of the dedication so we had a little meeting there. The thing was, it started at 7 in the morning--which meant that my companion and I had to get up at 5 to get there on time! When I was in college getting up early really wasn't that big of a deal but I have found that as a missionary every minute of sleep is precious--and being deprived of 1.5 hours of normal sleep time is just asking for trouble!
Anyway, we survived and the dedication was really neat. The temple president of the Taiwan temple spoke and told us that he was a missionary 50 years ago when President Mark E. Peterson dedicated the island of Taiwan for missionary work. He was at that dedication ceremony--and here he was speaking at the commemoration ceremony! It was pretty cool. He said that back then Taiwan had 7 branches and the missionaries served as the branch presidents--and sometimes as the Relief Society presidents too! :) And now Taiwan has 12 stakes and 2 districts and its very own bishops and Relief Society presidents. Isn't it amazing that this work goes forward at such an amazing pace! Sometimes it is hard to see the fruits of your labors as a missionary but when you look at what has been accomplished by the Lord in the last 50 years it is really exciting!
So last Thursday we were out in Shulin (teaching another one of Sister Chen's friends) and while we were out there we decided to go and stop by the house of a former investigator out there to see if her interest and circumstances had changed and if she wanted to meet with us again. What we didn't know was that her house was at the top of a mountain--literally!!! We started riding up and there were lots of switchbacks going up--thankfully it was raining so it was not so hot!!!--and by the time we finally got to her house we were at the top of the mountain looking down over Shulin. It was so beautiful, it almost made the ride worth it! Well, we knocked on the door but no one answered--and then her neighbor came out and stared at us, so we went over and talked to her. She didn't know her neighbor (not unusual for Taiwan) but said we could use her phone to call her. Well, I have a cell phone but there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity to get into someone's house (because maybe we could teach them!) so I used her phone and called the former investigator. It turns out that she had moved!!!
I laughed for a long time about that one. But maybe the Lord sent us up there for the family whose phone we used--because although they didn't set up to meet with us, they were really nice and it turns out that the wife had gone to our weekly English class 4-5 years ago! So maybe we kindled a spark that can turn into a flame the next time missionaries take a hike up that mountain! :)
Anyway, so then came the fun adventure of riding down the mountain. Unfortunately, my missionary work has been really hard on my bike and my brakes are almost shot. Well, I forgot to think about this before I rode up the mountain--I was praying the whole scary journey down because my brakes had very little use!!!! Luckily I didn't hit anything or anyone and I got down safely. I think that angels were pushing me up the mountain and then holding my bike as I rode down!
So I just realized that I used a lot of exclamation marks in this email. For those of you who think your life is boring and mine sounds so exciting, let me tell you a secret--life sounds a lot more exciting when you use exclamation marks! :) Next week is the last week of the transfer because our mission president goes home and we get a new one--exciting times! Love you all,