happy late 4th of july! i will start off by saying that the shift key is broken on this keyboard so sorry, you get all lowercase this week. kind of a pain.
so my new companion is awesome! she was up in danshui before and they don't ride bikes up there because their area is so big so this is her first time on a bike. it is lots of fun and almost like i am training all over again--because i start going and look behind me and my companion has disappeared! this is always scary since i carry the phone and so she would have to go to a pay phone to call me and tell me where she is, but we made up a rule--if she gets lost just stay there and i will come and find her. luckily i have been here for so long that i know where she might have gone and i don't usually get lost looking for her! it really isn't that bad and we never get seperated for long but it is always that gut wrenching feeling when i look back (because we ride in heavy traffic we can't always ride where i can see her because she rides behind me) and she is gone!
so for the fourth of july we invited some of our investigators and some members to a small celebration. only 3 people came :) but we had a fun time making brownies and instant cheesecake and then had a lesson about how the gospel and Jesus Christ bring us freedom from sin and guilt. that and singing patriotic hymns in companionship study were our only celebration. but it was fun nonetheless.
our new mission president arrived last week. he looks like a mix between coach mcconkie, my cross country coach in high school, and dr. pike, one of my professors at byu. i don't think any of you know both coach mcconkie and dr. pike, but i do a double take every time i look at president grimley. he is really great and said that when he was called on a mission, he was called to singapore english speaking, but after 4 months the missionaries were kicked out of singapore and he was sent to taiwan. and he didn't speak any chinese at all! but i guess he learned quickly because the last year of his mission he was the branch president down in gaoxiong! he is from lehi utah and he and his wife are really great.
so now for the interesting stuff. this past sunday we went tracting with one of our investigators, wysteria. we don't do much tracting at all because it can quickly turn into a big waste of time, but i thought it would be a good experience for wysteria. so we knocked a 5-stack and wysteria thought it was really fun--and then i told her it was her turn to talk! she freaked out and said it wasn't fun anymore. :) but she did one door and it was great for her first time. i told her that her chinese was way better than my first door approach! :) she is from southern taiwan and she was shocked that most people just refused us at the door. she said that her grandma, who also lives down in southern taiwan, would be glad to let us in and give us a drink or something even if she wasn't interested in our message. i guess that is the difference between the city and the country, eh? :) but it was lots of fun even though no one listened because our investigator got a good look at missionary work--and i think it helped her growing testimony.
sometimes as a missionary it is easy to get discouraged and wonder if you are doing any good at all in your area. my companion from danshui was telling me about danshui--they spend almost every day in the church teaching lessons every hour, and they have 10 people in the baptismal pool right now. and like 4 people got baptized two transfers ago. i told her that tucheng is amazing but definitely not like that--but i started feeling really worried that it was because i am not an effective missionary. you know, the kind of feeling that plagues me almost every minute as a missionary. :) but the next morning in companionship study my companion told me that she thought about ammon and the other sons of mosiah--that while ammon was baptizing the whole city it was the lot of aaron and his brothers to fall into the hands of a more hardened and wicked people--and they got cast into prison! not that i think that tucheng is more hardened and wicked but it is a good reminder that every mission and even every area is different--and the Lord prepares people in His own time. so i don't know why i am still in tucheng, but last week in personal study i asked the Lord why i was still here. i kind of felt like i have worked this area dry--in that i have visited every member to ask for referrals, visited all the less actives, worked with so many investigators, etc--and that maybe i was getting to the point where i was not as effective here as another missionary would be. so then i opened up the d&c to section 100:3-4. and the Lord, through the scriptures, told me that He had many people in this city and there was a great work waiting for me this transfer. isn't it awesome the way the Lord answers our questions through the scriptures?!!!
and finally a story about hope. there is a less active who was baptized a little over 2 years ago that lives right across the street from our house. we try to visit her every transfer--and always leave notes in her mailbox, etc--but she always says she is too busy. always. i have gotten into her house twice but even then we talk to her as she is painting her house, etc and have to talk at triple speed to get a word in edgewise--because she is just so busy. so anyway last saturday i called her and asked if we could visit her--even for 10 minutes!--because i have a new companion and she said "tommorow. at church." and i was like great! but didn't expect her to come because she hasn't been inside the church building in like more than a year.
imagine my shock the next day when she opened the door in relief society and motioned for me to come out and talk to her! even though she only stayed for 5 minutes--long enough to meet my companion--she said that lots of notes, phone calls, and fellowshipping on our part made her feel guilty enough to come to the church and meet my new companion. so i realized that the fruits of our efforts are rarely instant and not always noticeable--but when we are on the Lord's errand we are doing the Lord's work and we are helping people, no matter how slowly, come unto Christ. it was a beautiful experience.
well, that's about it. my companion and i have successfully survived the "big 10" between preparation days that comes at the beginning of every transfer so we are good for another month and a half! hope all is well with all of you--and if you ever feel the urge to write me an email or send me pictures of your engagement or your little kids, feel free. i love to read your emails!