Hello everyone and happy rainy Monday! Saturday night we were leaving the church after a lesson with an investigator. This investigator (Ya Ping) is really cool and I really like her. She is really searching for the truth. Anyway, it was raining when we walked out of the church, and she had forgotten to bring a raincoat (she had ridden her motorbike). So, since I have two, I lent her one. There was no way I was going to let her ride home without a raincoat! The only problem was, I lent my other one to a member a couple of weeks ago, and she hasn't given it back yet. And the next day was Sunday, and I didn't really want to buy a new raincoat Saturday night. So I prayed that there would be no rain on Sunday.
Adn guess what? Sunday morning it was raining, but by the time my clothes dried (during church) it stopped raining and didn't rain for the rest of the day!
But now it is Monday, and I can go to the store, so it is raining once again. God really does provide a way for us to keep His commandments and stay dry while we are doing it!
This past week our stake did an "English camp" for the youth. Since almost all of the missionaries in this stake are from America, we taught the English camp. :) The stake president, who studied at BYU and works in translation, has a vision for the youth of his stake which involves going to Mutual, going on missions, staying active in the church, and marrying in the temple. Just like most other stake presidents. But almost every child in Taiwan attends "cram school," from elementary school to high school. Cram school is school after school, so you can learn more and get a better test score. Everything in Taiwan is about tests, which means that junior high students all prepare for the test at the end of their third year, because their score determines which high school you can go to. And your high school score determines which college (in Taiwan) you can go to.
All this testing means a lot of memorizing of a lot of useless information, which is forgotten soon after the test. It also means that children have school every day, and many students have cram school until 8-9 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays. And for most, the test score is more important than anything else.
Well, President Tsai has a vision that if the youth in his stake learn the Western way of learning and learn how to study on their own, and especially learn how to study English (by speaking and listening, not just memorizing vocabulary), they will be much more able to go to BYU Hawaii, go on missions, and stay active in the church. So he asked us to teach an English camp, which was Thurs-Sat morning and afternoon, in which we taught the youth how to teach the Plan of Salvation from Preach My Gospel in English. It was a great experience to work with the youth and help them develop both their English skills and their testimony.
But all of that aside, Friday afternoon one of the funniest things happened of the transfer and perhaps my whole mission. Our new member Achin gave us a box of chocolate chip cookies, which was very nice of her, but I ate one and they were disgusting. There was something in those cookies that didn't belong. So we decided to give them to the zone leaders. Elders will eat anything, right?
So we went to English camp and, since there was a delay in starting and the youth were still eating their lunch, we gave them to the zone leaders and stayed to watch their reaction after eating them. They were incredibly grateful and really excited to get cookies. Well, I wish I could describe the expression on their faces after they ate one. Elder Gong, and American, was trying to be nice but his face couldn't lie...those cookies were disgusting. And Elder Ye, a Taiwanese, said, "It's spicy!" (We found out that the ingredient that didn't belong was wasabi...a very hot Japanese green sauce!!!)
So then Elder Gong, always one to be resourceful, decided to spread the joy of chocolate chip cookies with the other elders (it was really a perfect situation because all the missionaries from the zone were there). Each one had a similar reaction--excitedly grabbed a cookie and stuffed it in his mouth, and then disgustedly swallowed and looked for water to wash it down. And then looked for someone else to give a cookie to. :)
Two reactions were my favorite: one elder who is still pretty new was really excited at the prospect of cookies. "Who brought these?" he asked excitedly as he grabbed a handful and put one in his mouth. "Who brought these?" he asked disgustedly as he ate the first cookie and looked for a place to put the handful of cookies he had grabbed. And then when Elder Gong said, "the sisters," he said, "Oh! They're really...good!"
And then Elder Gong, not wanting to leave anyone out, shared some with a member of the stake presidency and the one American in the stake, who married a taiwanese woman and who was in charge of the camp. He gave it to Brother Su right as he was getting into the elevator, and he was busy talking to a member of the stake presidency so he just grabbed one and said thanks. And right as the elevator door was closing, with the cookie still in Brother Su's hand, Elder Gong said, "You might think it's chocolate...". The look on Brother Su's face was priceless. And the whole time we were standing in the corner, laughing so hard we were crying.
Missionary work still goes forward, but it was nice to have something funny to break up the monotony! I think I will laugh about that one for the rest of my mission. :)
Well, that's about all for this week. Hope you all have a wonderful week--next Monday begins the start of my final transfer!