Dear family and friends,
Happy Chinese New Year! Chinese New Year is this week and so all sorts of celebrations have been happening. As mentioned before, the Taiwanese people don't really celebrate Christmas, but CNY is their biggest holiday. They get a two week break from school and most people get several days off work--and they all go to southern Taiwan to celebrate. I am not really sure why. It is usually really hard to get people to meet with you during CNY because no one is in town or they are "too busy." I really wasn't sure what we were going to be doing with our days since the streets of Taipei are deserted--but we have been incredibly blessed and many people still want to meet with us, including investigators and less actives. We don't usually eat with the members (dinner appointments) but during CNY the ward sets up for us to eat most lunches and dinners with member families--and often they have other family members present who are not members, so we get to share a lesson with them, too. I love my new ward in Tucheng and everyone has been so welcoming--and seems to understand that a week and a half of eating traditional Chinese food might be a little much for American missionaries--so although some have fed us traditional Chinese food, last night we ate pizza hut at the 2nd counselor's house.
However, I do want to keep adding to the strange foods that I have eaten so I try almost everything. Monday night, I ate...cow stomach. It had a terrible texture and I don't think I want to eat it again. I was happy for the pizza after that! :)
During CNY they light off fireworks and firecrackers at all times of the day and night, and the other day I was awakend at 4 in the morning with a huge explosion of fireworks! Really, people! But there is a large park right across the street from our house so every night before bed we have our own little fireworks show out the window. It is kind of fun.
And now for some news about some of our investigators in Tucheng. One has a baptismal date set for the 14th and she is amazing. Everytime we share a scripture with her she puts a little paper in the chapter and reads the whole chapter when we leave. Her Book of Mormon is full of little papers--and she is so willing to keep the commandments and her commitments. When we teach people like her my excitement is renewed about missionary work because she is just so prepared!
And secondly, last night we taught a family-a mother and 3 girls. We try to focus on finding and teaching families but more often it is single people that we teach (maybe married but we teach them singly, if that makes sense). I have actually never taught a family last night. But one of the girls is 9, one is 17 and one is 15, and they are so amazing. They have a piano (!) and so last night I played some hymn arrangements for them and then we taught the first lesson about the Restoration. They were so amazing and even the little girls (her cousin was visiting) sat quietly and listened to us the whole time. It is so wonderful to know that God has prepared people and families that are just waiting for us to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with them and so they can begin their journey to the celestial kingdom!
And finally, I love my new area. I had no idea I could love a new area so quickly but I already love everything about it. It is so beautiful and the ward members are so willing and the investigators are so great. And of course my companion is amazing. Anyway, I got here and everyone already knew who I was--as usual, my reputation preceeded me. :) Every Fast Sunday there is a missionary fireside up in Taipei with the mission president where missionaries bring their investigators and the fireside is about basic doctrines of the gospel. This January fireside I was asked to sing with an elder "A Child's Prayer" in Chinese and so I did--and it turns out that the Tucheng missionaries had about 15 members and less actives there, so now everyone knows who I am. It is great, what can I say. :) I am just grateful that I can continue using my talents--I have played the organ at each zone conference and fireside since I got here. (The fireside was actually ridiculous, because I sang, played the organ, and played the piano to accompany...and they kept announcing my name. No wonder everyone knows who I am!)
Speaking of zone conference, we just had one on Monday and it reminded me of something my mission president's wife said when I first got on island here. She talked about how her children never cleaned their rooms when they were growing up and she always used to get after them about it--but then she felt impressed that she should clean their rooms when they went to school to preserve the peace in the home. After a week or so of this one of her daughters looked at her room and said, "Wow! I sure do keep a clean room, don't I!" Then she talked about how we often do the same thing with our Heavenly Father--He provides all of these things for us and all too often we take the credit for ourselves. All I can say is that I am just so grateful that I have the opportunity to be a tool in the Lord's hand at this time in Taiwan. I know that He is guiding and directing every aspect of this work! He loves us--every object and design of His existence is to make us happy! Isn't that wonderful?
I hope all is well. Good luck with everything and if you ever feel the urge to write a missionary, I will always be willing to read your letters. :)