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! :)