Welcome to September! I am so excited for summer to be over, you can't even imagine. One more month of raging heat and then it will cool down a little.
This morning we went hiking in the mountains in Daxi (in our area--we have Bade, Taoyuan, Daxi, Inge, and Qiao Ai--5 cities!) with two members from the Bade ward. Even though we went really early in the morning to avoid the heat--we got there about 8 am--we were all still dripping with sweat! We hiked for about 15 minutes and then stopped for a rest--and I had to take pictures because it seriously looked like we had just taken a shower. The problem was the shower was coming from the inside out--the sweat was dripping off my arms and down my face into my eyes. It was gross. I never want to sweat again.
But the hike was beautiful! and maybe one day I will send pictures. We went with two new members--one is an 8 month member and the other is a 2 month member--and it was cool to talk to them and see how their lives have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We talked about going to BYU (they are 18 and 20 and both want to go!) and single adult activities and missionary work as well as normal things (like how hot it was) and it was just exciting to be reminded that I am a part of this great work.
Oh, and as a side note, we saw several big spiders--one was black and yellow and bigger than my hand. It was disgusting and I took some pictures :) and then ran away. No poisonous snakes, though, although there were plenty of signs warning us of them. This morning before we went hiking I was reading in Mormon about how missionaries will "take up serpents" and I wondered what that meant. Thankfully I didn't find out today. :)
So in other news, before I get to my investigators, my friend Shayla just had her second child! It is a girl and she named her Avalon--which is the same name as my little sister! (Isn't that cool Avalon?) It is weird to me that she was my roommate and now has two children and her husband is in the bishopric. And I am still in the single stage of life. Luckily as a missionary I don't have any other choice, right? :)
So now to our investigators. The exciting news is that two of our investigators got baptized last Saturday! It helped me to remember that people do not get baptized because of the missionaries--they get baptized because of the Lord and the Spirit. Sometimes there is a temptation as a missionary to "claim" your baptisms and measure your success by how many baptisms you have. For example, if you heard that one missionary in Taipei had 2 baptisms their whole mission while another had 12, your first thought would probably be that the second missionary was more obedient and taught better or had a better testimony, etc. But the truth is, they are all God's investigators and so many factors lead into them joining the church that it is impossible to "count" the investigators/baptisms you had. Missionaries move all the time, and sometimes really bad missionaries see a lot of baptisms because they are God's children and He will help them get baptized no matter what the missionaries do. Oh, and someone from Tucheng is getting baptized this Saturday, which is so exciting because she changed her baptismal date several times when I was there and is finally getting baptized!
So yeah. With the two baptisms last week and the one planned for this weekend, I will have seen as many baptisms in Bade in the first three weeks as I have seen my whole mission. Which is the point I was trying to make above.
So now I am really rambling. I will tell you about a couple of investigators and then close this. One investigator we are teaching right now is from Indonesia and lives really close to the church in Bade. Her name in Achin and she is so awesome! She is so willing to keep every committment we extend to her and is preparing for baptism this month. Her three children live in Indonesia with her husband and she is here to take care of her sister's husband (who is actually in his 80's and old and sick while she is in her late 30's--not quite sure how that worked out) and she has a really hard life right now. Lots of Philippinos and Indonesians in Taiwan are away from their families and trying to earn money to send back to them--but their life stories make me cry because they are so sad! Away from their family and country and lots of times their work situations are really not very good--but anyway Achin is awesome. She speaks some Chinese so we teach her in Chinese--but a lot of Indonesian words are the same as Arabic, so we teach in a mix of Chinese/Indonesian. What we do is read a Book of Mormon verse with the principle we are trying to teach in it and then I will guess which word it is in Indonesian that we are trying to say. After lots of hand motions and explaining, we finally get it worked out. Needless to say my Indonesian is getting pretty good :) and I am remembering quite a bit of Arabic.
Who else. Oh yes, Chen You Yu, the 18 year old who went hiking with us today. She is a new member but her story is very interesting. She was an investigator for about a year and a half but her father would not let her get baptized (you have to be 20 in Taiwan before you can get baptized without your parent's permission). But then one day in June she sat down and had a serious talk with her father about how she wanted to get baptized, etc. And he still wouldn't let her--but then the next day he was driving up a really steep hill and saw two missionaries riding their bikes up the hill. And he thought, wow, missionaries work really hard. And he was touched. And so he let his daughter be baptized! It was an awesome story and reminds me that the Lord is always planning everything--and even though we sometimes don't see the fruits of our efforts, if we are listening to the Spirit then we are doing what the Lord wants us to do. Isn't the Lord so merciful to let us participate in this work?
Anyway, that is all for now. I hope none of you fell asleep because of the boring content of this letter...