It is the beginning of a new transfer and so our Preparation day is on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. I forgot to mention that in my email last week so unfortunately I didn't have any emails today...but that is my own fault, eh? :) My next preparation day is next Wednesday, just in case you want to send me an email.
My companion went home and I got another companion, Sister Pitts, from Nevada. This is her last transfer, too, just like it was Sister Bernardo's last transfer when I was with her! I don't know how it is in other missions but when your companion goes home they say you "killed" your companion, and you talk about your first area as the place you were "born" and the last as the place you "died." Anyway, since I have "killed" 3 companions now (I count my trainers companion, who went home right after I got there as one) people in my district have started calling me the "serial killer." What can I say, anything to keep life exciting, eh?
Since this past week was my companion's last week it was crazy. We tried to make contact with all of our less actives and investigators and new members, and of course all of the members wanted to say good bye to her too. So we were running all over trying to get everything done--and now I have to be in charge, even though I am not the senior companion, because my new companion doesn't know anything about the area. I am afraid that we will get lost often and I will forget about people we are supposed to meet with or which members can help with lessons, etc etc etc, but it will be a good experience in helping me learn how to fully trust in the Lord. But I am still scared out of my mind! :)
I am sure that many of you have wondered how it is to live in a country where they have a non-alphabet focused language. I will just tell you---it is incredibly hard! When you have 3,000 Chinese characters memorized you are considered "literate"--and I am well on my way there with about 300 memorized! In missionary work, this presents a whole new set of challenges--not only can I not read menus or street signs or bills or actually anything, but I also cannot write notes for investigators/less actives, and I can't write the progress record that we give to the ward each week about the progress of investigators, and I can't read some of the entries in the area book because they are written in Chinese, and I can't read any of the scriptures or church books (such as the gospel principles book). Sometimes it drives me crazy! But I am learning to trust in the Lord and realize that He will provide a way for us to do His work, even if it takes a little creativity.
For example: there is a YW in our ward who was baptized almost a year ago. Her story is crazy--two elders were at her apartment complex writing a note for one of their investigators who lived there. Elder Smith saw her outside and realized that he could either spend a really long time trying to write a note in Chinese, or he could ask this girl if she would write it and save a lot of time. Well, she write it for him--and when she finished, she asked him, "Can I join your church?" Elder Smith was a little taken aback, and then he said, of course! She took all of the lessons and was baptized and is a great member now. She often brings friends to church with her and even though she is the only member in her family she is dilligent in progressing along the path to eternal life. So crazy--maybe that will happen to me one day too! It is just another testimony to me that the Lord has prepared people to accept the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The field is so white--and people in Taiwan are starving for the restored gospel!
Last transfer my companion was the "exchange sister," which means that she and I went on exchanges with three other areas. It is kind of crazy when it comes to planning, etc but it is kind of fun to go to another area for two days and meet new people and see different styles of teaching, contacting, etc.
This past week we went on exchanges with Xindian, my old area (it is pronounced Sheen-di-en), and I got to go there to be companions for a day with my trainer, Sister McGhie. The craziest thing of all was I got to see almost all of the investigators that I worked the most with while I was back in Xindian! Idon't know how it worked out but I definitely felt like it was a tender mercy from the Lord that I got to see all of these people that I hadn't been able to say goodbye to.
Oh, and a final funny story because this email is kind of random and probably a little boring. I loved my last companion but she was sometimes a little spacey. :) Tucheng is a little more "hick" than Xindian and so there are a lot less foreigners here--which means I stick out A LOT. Red hair, white skin, blue eyes--it is almost as bad as it was in the Middle East. Anyway, so the other day we were riding home at the end of the day and it started raining. My companion pulled over to put on her raincoat thing, and I followed suit, only to find that she had pulled over right next to a bar. Scantily clad women eyed me down and these drunk men in their 20's started talking to me. They asked me where I was going and I said home, and they said, "So early? Why don't you play with us for a while?" Right, they probably didn't see my tag. And then they told me I was beautiful...but by then my raincoat was on and we rode away. I am not really sure why, but I often get contacted by drunk or high people! How lucky, eh?
I really love it here. I love the work, I love the people, and I love the Lord. He is so merciful!