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Monday, December 28, 2015

A blast with Sister Findlay, Jingle Bells, White Christmas baptism, true greatness, things I can do


Last P-day at the beach!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Hope it was a very merry Christmas!!

There are tons of pictures from this week that will basically summarize it for you. 

A blast with Sister Findlay
It was a blast spending these 3 weeks with Sister Findlay covering 2 geographic areas.  We had many adventures taking our bikes on the train back and forth between Gaoxiong and Tainan.

Riding the train back and forth between Gaoxiong and Tainan
But we started off by going to the beach last p-day...

At the beach with Sister Findlay
then I was able to go on exchanges with my best friend from the MTC which was sweet for us because we've wanted to be companions our entire missions. 

Jingle Bells
We met with some awesome investigators, definitely enjoyed party hopping all the Christmas activities....
Singing Jingle Bells (in English) and Stars were Gleaming (in Mandarin)
[To watch video clip, click here]
had a lot of performances of Christmas songs, skyped my family...

So happy to talk with my family on Christmas!
and best of all, it was a white Christmas! 

White Christmas: baptism of Sister Li
Sister Li got baptized and she was so happy. Lots of things touch me about her story, but I'm most impressed by how much missionary work was involved in her conversion, and not from us missionaries. 

Her boyfriend went to college in America, met missionaries there and got baptized, then went on a mission. After his mission, he met Sister Li in Japan actually on a work trip and they started dating. So one Sunday he brought her to church and then she started meeting with us sisters. Member referrals really are the best!! 

And then most touching was right after she got confirmed at church (yesterday) she spent the entire day with us! Her boyfriend asked if she could stay with us until he picked her up again after FHE. We, of course, welcomed her. It was so cute--it was like he was dropping her off for us to babysit her and she was so excited to go proselyting with us. We practiced a few times before contacting real people and she was so excited! She wasn't scared at all, and she killed it last night! 

It's touching to see how missionary work never really ends and I'm so impressed by such awesome member missionaries. 

We're all going to have babies!
["having a baby" is missionary slang for training a brand new missionary]
True Greatness
This week I studied about what true greatness is, and it's a great question to ponder! What makes someone truly great? President Joseph F. Smith said

 "To do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness."

Which leads to the next question, what are the things God has ordained to be the common lot of all mankind? I think they are very simple things, and I think that it's the obvious answer we hear all the time: it's the thousands of little deeds that lead to a person's character, or the type of life they leave behind. We all know there is no such thing as instant greatness. I particularly like this scripture because I am little! "Out of small things proceedeth that which is great" (D&C 64:33)

Live nativity in honor of the Savior's birth
True greatness requires the development of character. "It requires a multitude of correct decisions for the everyday choices between good and evil" over an extended period of time. 

Spreading Christmas cheer
It's interesting to see who the world respects and how those people are very different from the people that I respect. The world might respect strong business women who seem strong, capable, independent, confident, maybe even a little mean! I respect people who are honest, selfless, patient, humble, and kind. 

Which got me thinking about Jesus Christ and what made Him great. Of course He performed the Atonement, but even if He didn't, I would still think He was great and was our perfect example, just from studying what few records we have about His life from the New Testament. 

As I was pondering the things He did, what struck me is that they're all things that we can actually do. Aside from the Atonement, the things He did are very realistic for us: Christ forgave, He served, He loved deeply and unconditionally, He was obedient, He sacrificed, He did the Father's will, He was patient, and He was diligent. 

The thing about Christ, though, was that He was patient 100% of the time, there was never a moment He didn't serve, there wasn't a single person He didn't forgive including those who betrayed and killed Him, and He was obedient every second of His life. 

Christmas companions
Greatness isn't rocket science, but the key is sticking with the little decisions we know we should be making every second of the day-- that is what made Christ great. 

Things I can do
So this week as I pondered Christmas and as I start the last 2 transfers of my mission training a new missionary, I want to work as hard as I can. I want to try my hardest to better understand Christ and His life and become like Him, because I know these are things I can do, while also understanding that perfection comes not in this life, but the next. 

All my love!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

The ward loved our Jingle Bells performance.  I even got my district to do crazy choreography for it.
Crazy bubbles

Monday, December 21, 2015

White Christmas, Sister Findlay, His birth, don't come passively, lesson of the shepherds


Sister Li passed her baptismal interview and is getting baptized on the 25th. It's going to be a white Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015
Tainan

Hello!

I cannot believe it's Christmas this week. Where has the time gone?! 

My new companion--Sister Findlay.
Getting serious with her purple,
plastic briefcase. :)
My new companion: Sister Findlay
Transfer calls were last Sunday morning, and the call went something like this "Sister Wawro, you'll be whitewashing" (because she's going home) and "Sister Hancock will be with a short-term missionary. Is there anyone in your ward who you could ask to be your companion for these 3 weeks starting tomorrow?" 

Uhhh no?

A short-term missionary is a member who is not a real missionary, but will be your companion temporarily because there aren't enough missionaries in the mission. It can be a high school-aged student or a young adult and they'll live with you and do everything like missionaries for a couple weeks, then go back to their normal life once they can be replaced by a real missionary. 

Unfortunately because it is not summer time, everyone in our ward is either in school, working, or taking care of kids all day, so no one could do it. But I was in a trio for a little bit with the sisters from the Tainan 1st ward and that was so much fun!


But then President called and told me there was one other sister in the mission who was also supposed to have a short term but had problems too, so we got put together! So my companion now is Sister Findlay--also my first companion ever from Utah. She's great! We're having a good time together.

It's been quite the adventure because we're basically serving in both of our areas still, taking the train back and forth between Gaoxiong and Tainan, so we're keeping busy and making sure to hit up all the Christmas activities :)

The Tainan government asked us missionaries to put on a show on Christmas Eve at the train station.
Here's our zone practicing all the Christmas carols :)
His Birth
I've enjoyed studying about the Savior and His birth this week in my personal study. I'm so, so, so excited for Christmas! 

I like this quote by President Nelson about our Savior: 
"He came to pay a debt He didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay". 
Christmas is such a special time to reflect and to think about how we're doing and about how we can better accept Christ as our Savior and come closer to Him. 

I especially enjoy serving in Taiwan, because no one really knows why we celebrate Christmas, they just know we have Christmas trees and stockings. So it's fun to be able to share with them all the symbolism and real meaning. And it's helped me a lot to stay focused on the real meaning of this season. 

Nanzi chapel
Don't come passively
Yesterday we went to a special meeting because they added a new stake in Gaoxiong, so a new stake presidency was called and Elder Wang, the President of the Asia Area came and spoke. 

In his talk he said several times that Christ paid the highest price for us, and we need to do the same. 

He said the church isn't something we do halfway or when we want to, that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we don't come passively. 

His words sure rang true to me and helped me think about more I can do to increase my faith and better try to serve. 

Lesson of the Shepherds
There's so much we can learn from the Christmas story, but one part that stuck out to me this week was how the shepherds were able to see the baby Jesus. It was when they were out with their flock, taking care of the sheep that they were told the news of the Savior's coming. So as we focus on feeding His sheep, and serving those around us, we're able to come to know Christ better.

Love you all! Merry Christmas!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Festive, Christmas Party, Killed Sister Wawro, Interested in other people's lives, relationship with Jesus Christ, Merry Christmas


Goodbye Sister Wawro!
13 December 2015
Tainan

It was an eventful week!

Festive
If I had to pick a word to describe the week, it would be festive
All Mission Christmas Party
Christmas Party
We had our mission Christmas party and it was super fun! We got up early, early in the morning while it was still pitch black. Our whole zone took a train to the other side of our mission. We hiked up to a beautiful Buddhist temple and met our entire mission there. So it was awesome seeing previous companions and tons of people I haven't seen in a long time. 

Reunited with my MTC District
The happiest part for me probably was that we were able to go to a beautiful spot. I heard about how pretty Taiwan was and saw some pictures on Google before coming and was so excited to see all the scenery. Here are photos of Sun Moon Lake.  Beautiful Taiwan!

Sun Moon Lake -- Beautiful Taiwan!
                                       

But I honestly haven't been able to see much because we serve in big cities and most of the scenic places are on the coast. And on a p-day you don't have a lot of time to bike out to super far places, so I was excited to see more of my mission country! 

President Blickenstaff munching on shrimp tempura lettuce wraps :)
Exploring Sun Moon Lake's Itashao aborigine village 
Killed Sister Wawro
Today I "killed" Sister Wawro ["killing" is slang for being the last companion of another's missoinary to "finish off" their life as a missionary]. She's finished her mission and is now at the mission office in Taizhong and flying home on Wednesday. 

Goodbye to the missionaries who have finished their missions

It's a really odd thing, being with someone the very last transfer of their mission, the last day, even the very last hour. But it was such a privilege to serve together! We really did become best friends in our 9 weeks together. 

Sister Wawro and me--happy companions
Interested in other people's lives
I learned so much from her example! What sticks out to me about Sister Wawro is how interested she is in other peoples' lives. She is amazing at getting to know people! She is a thinker, that girl. She's a very thoughtful person and very intelligent. We loved talking through things together, anything -- what the deal was with our investigators, what we would do in certain situations, deep doctrinal questions, our opinions on lots of different topics. We covered a lot in just 9 weeks!  I'm really impressed by how well she got to know me in that short amount of time. She asks really good questions that make you ponder and reflect. And I'd say she is probably one of the people in the world who understands me most and what type of person I am, my personality, the way I think. 

With recent convert Ke Jiemei
Personal relationship with Jesus Christ
I really admire Sister Wawro because of how much she loves the Gospel. But not only that, how much she understands. She practically has an encyclopedia of conference talks stored somehow up in her brain! She knows so much about the scriptures, and has a really personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She's thoroughly studied His life and has a deep understanding of His character. There is so much more that I love about her but I thought I'd share a poem that she wrote as she was going home to America.  (See below.)

Merry Christmas


Our ward put on a fun Christmas pageant.  
We missionaries passed out candles (or ate them)
to the crowd to sing Silent Night together
Celebrating Christmas with our Recent Convert, Sister Ye
Merry Christmas!

Much love,
Sister Sinclaire Hancock
Merry Christmas!  (December 2015)


By Sister Wawro

I've been camping, and in camping you leave home to come here. 
Me, I've been camping for well over a year. 

In camping  you'll learn pretty fast, 
which gear is heavy & which aint gunna last. 

Distractions are heavy, some stuff you gotta dump. 
But if you pack up too soon you'll get stuck in a slump. 

Before camping, its better if you prepare.
You need stamina, heart, and to know why you're there. 

You'll say lots of prayers, hear lots of talks, 
get caught in the rain and get stuck with wet socks. 

In camping, sometimes it kinda sucks, 
You'll hike for hours just to get stuck in the ruts. 

You'll call lots of young girls whose interest is high, 
only to find they just thought the elders were shuai. 

It's physically hard, you'll sweat a lot, 
and sleep on a bed that feels like a cot. 

You'll get bitten, get tired, get zits on your face, 
but be expected to smile and keep up a good pace. 

You'll be dared to eat hearts, eyeballs, and slugs,
and fall asleep praying not to be crawled on by bugs. 

You might be rejected for weeks, you'll feel like you've lost, 
you'll become more like Him as you bear his cross. 

While camping you'll find out real quick, 
that happiness depends on the people you're with. 

How you make other's feel says a lot about you, 
help other campers along, lift their burdens too. 

And you'll get closer to them, they'll become you're best friends. 
They're your best souvenirs when this journey ends. 

While camping, you'll learn some impressive new skills, 
conqueror some fears, take parasite pills!

Plus safety skills! 
CPR, rescuing, how to retain, 
emergency kits, reflective gear, and what to wear in the rain. 

You'll clean up after yourself, bring your own kit, 
you'll leave every place better than you found it. 

Camping builds character, brings you to new heights, 
You'll climb to new peaks and see beautiful sights. 

You'll learn that God, like stars, becomes more bright, 
while you're in the trials of the night. 

And God, like stars, seem more near and more deep, 
in the nights that you can sleep. 

Soon you'll find the inevitable, that you need a shower, 
and you need to go home more and more by the hour. 

Which is fine, because camping can't be your whole life. 
You go home to apply the lessons you learned on your hike. 

You'll realize camping is one big MTC, 
It's Zion's camp, and you're still a trainee. 

My camping trip has been perfect for me. 
Most days are just days; all that we reap we can't see. 

But never, never, never give up. You don't know what you'll do, 
Most of the good that you do will only be seen by God, and by you. 

So Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?
To lift up our brothers, and shoulder the odds?

then at the end, we may stand still, 
and we know the Lord his arm will reveal

that at the time of the storm a small helm moved a great ship, 
so let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, so all benefit.

Don't get discouraged, worried, fear, or shrink small, 
You stand for Christ when you speak; Live up to your call!

Open your mouth. Say the exact words He would say, 
because sometime, somewhere, there will come a day, 

When you take off your badge, and have a new start. 
But but though you take off our badge, it'll stick on your heart. 



---


  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fireside with new apostle, 2 minute invitation and blessings, love fully, best ward ever


Our whole mission together to hear a new apostle, Elder Stephenson

Monday, November 30, 2015
Tainan, Taiwan
Thanksgiving lunch with Wu Jiemei

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Mission-wide fireside with new apostle
This week our mission had the special chance of having a fireside with the newly sustained apostle, Elder Stevenson. 

It was a mission-wide event, which meant the entire day was spent traveling to get there for it. Some people had to leave at 4 in the morning and didn't get back until midnight, but we were all so excited!

He shook each one of our hands and he and Sister Stevenson gave great talks. I took a full page of notes which is pretty rare for me, but their talks were that good! 

2 minute invitation & promised blessings
What impressed me most was what a good missionary Elder Stevenson is! Of course that's an essential part of their calling as special witnesses of Christ, but the way he taught was especially effective. 

Getting investigators to come to church is one of the hardest parts of missionary work, so he briefly gave an example of a church invitation and promised blessings in about 2 minutes, but it was powerful! 

President Blickenstaff and his counselors with Elder Stephenson
If I were that investigator, there would be no way I would reject his invitation after that! It was simple, easy to follow, but very descriptive.

He gave incredibly detailed promised blessings that were personal and could relate directly to the investigator's life. And he mostly just made me realize I could do a lot better at promising blessings when I teach. 

We are servants
Another thing that stood out to me was a phrase he repeated several times: "We are servants."

So often I feel like the people here are serving me here! The Taiwanese are so kind and are always trying to make us feel welcome in their country, and especially the members in our ward are so willing to help us missionaries that I usually don't feel like a servant at all on my mission!

But that is my calling, so I'm going to work harder to find ways I can serve those around me, even through simple little acts. 

Ability to love fully
As he was ending his talk he invoked some blessings on all of us missionaries; he blessed us with the power to endure, with confidence, and with the ability to love fully. Those words really hit home for me, "the ability to love fully." I'm still pondering the full meaning of that phrase, but I think it's absolutely beautiful. 

I think a common theme of last conference was giving our hearts to God, and that's something I've been working on and pondering. I hope that I'll be able to love more richly and more deeply my investigators, my companion, and the members I'm blessed to serve with.

My city right now--Tainan 
Christmas music?
Have a wonderful week! I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas cheer!

Also feel free to email me Christmas music it would be greatly appreciated! It can be arrangements of hymns, or something MoTab sang, or anything written over 100 years ago :) 

Love you!!

Sister Hancock

Best Ward Ever
P.S. We have the best ward ever. I bet none of you expected us to be eating turkey for Thanksgiving in Taiwan!


Thanksgiving turkey
Our Bishop!
Unusual bathrooms in the local "Dream Mall"






Reflective, my gift to Him, progressing, MLC, daily accountability, beloved status, comfort, reassurance and confidence


On exchanges
Tainan 2nd ward is the best!
So impressed we have decorations :)
7 December 2015
Tainan

Happy December!


How is the Christmas season going?

I can picture our beautiful glass tree all set up in the living room. And I hear it's actually pretty cold in Palo Alto too! 

I'm doing well here. 

Reflective
It's Sister Wawro's last week of her mission, so that's pretty crazy and makes me very reflective on my time as a missionary too. 

Sister Wawro's last week

I've been thinking a lot lately about what more I can do, and how I can keep changing as a person and becoming a better missionary with the time I have left. 

My gift to Him
The Christmas season also causes deep pondering within me as well-- thinking about my relationship with the Savior, whether there's enough room in my heart for Him, what I can change this year as my gift to Him...

Progressing
I am doing well! I'm enjoying this area and we've been helping our investigators keep progressing. The progression has gotten a little slower with them now as they each have a couple things preventing them from getting baptized. But we're working with them and continuing to expand our teaching pool. 

Another good week. Really, they're all good. I don't think there will ever be a bad one!

President Blickenstaff with this members of the Mission Leadership Council
MLC
We had MLC [Mission Leadership Council] on Tuesday and that was exciting! [Mission] President [Blickenstaff] released some changes to our mission's visions, goals, and plans as well as our mission standards.

Discussion on less active members
A big push lately has been focusing on less-active [LA] work and what we call "rescues." To fully rescue an LA means that they come to church 3 times within a 5 week period and accept a calling from the ward.

I'm glad President is focusing on this lately, because really we should have been working this hard all along on LAs. 

But the issue is we only have so many hours in a day, so usually most of our effort goes into working with investigators. 

Bringing a less-active member back into the ward strengthens the ward just as much as baptizing a new convert into it.  Working with LAs is some of the most rewarding work that I've done on my mission.....

Sisters of the Mission Leadership Council (MLC): singing our mission song
Daily accountability
It's cool to see how much President listened to our ideas at last MLC and was willing to make big changes. 
One of the changes he made that I really like is he added a plan in helping us achieve our goal: be accountable to yourself and the Lord daily. 
MLC lunch

Accountability was not something I was very good at before my mission. I can't tell you that at the end of the day I would ask the Lord 

"Did I do what I was supposed to do today?" in my prayer before going to sleep, or 

"What more could I have done?", or 

"Are you pleased with the efforts I'm making?" 

President says when he served a mission, these weren't questions they thought about at all! They just went out and worked really hard. But as we all know, missionary work has changed a lot since then. 


Mission Leadership Council - December 2015
Beloved status; comfort, reassurance, confidence
I'm especially grateful for this Christmas season that we have a special opportunity to reflect on our relationship with the Savior, to think about whether we have made sufficient room for Him in our hearts, and what we can change about ourselves this year as our "gift" to Him. 

I second what Elder Christofferson said, and hope that during this Christmas season 
"you might have some sense of the Lord's regard for your offering, some sense of how you stand in His eyes, some sense of the beloved status you occupy as His son or His daughter. And I pray that knowledge of that status may give you a great deal of comfort, reassurance, and confidence that you are approved in His eyes." 

All my love!

Sister Hancock

Bunny I found while contacting at 7/11!
English class! Teaching the "xiao pengyou" [young friends]
Guo Baba ["Father Guo"] push up contest against Elder Trotter. He won.



Chuanin' the jiao

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A new start, missionary church, we all need to find God, conscious choice, leads us to our knees, search for me with all your heart

With Ruby, the investigator we found in the park [see story in last week's letter]
23 November 2015
Jiayi, Taiwan


A New Start
It was a good last week of the transfer. It's crazy how fast the transfers go by! Went on an exchange, went to a missionary training meeting in Gaoxiong, and visited some great members this week. 


November 19: Specialized training session by President and Sister Blickenstaff on
various leadership skills, including ministering, teaching, time management, companionship unity etc. 
I'm excited for a new start! It's move day today, and we'll be having some new sisters move into our zone and a new district leader which I'm excited for. I'm also very happy I didn't have to pack! That's the worst!! 


Missionary Church
Yesterday, the Bishopric gave the entire sacrament meeting to us missionaries. So we had about 45 minutes to talk about missionary work and it was a great opportunity! My topic was "the Lord's church is a missionary church" and I enjoyed thinking about that topic last week in preparation. 

Our district
There have been times on my mission where I've thought to myself that missionary work is terribly inefficient and that because it's God's work, "There's gotta be a better way."

Some days we talk to probably over 100 people and maybe if you're lucky 5 of those people will have a real conversation with you, 1 is willing to set up [an appointment] with you, and whether or not that person will even end up getting baptized, we don't know. The point is that we get rejected all the time, but every missionary knows this is what they're signing up for because that's how it was with Jesus Christ too, and our purpose is to focus on each one person. 

The Lord's church has always been a missionary church (Moses 5:58, Mark 16:15, D&C 66:5). I believe that's evidence that this truly is God's church. 

Of course God would require us to preach His gospel because He knows every single one of His children needs it, no matter what country they live in.

He loves us all the same and hopes that we'll all be able to return to Him. 

We all need to find God
I think there are a lot of reasons God's church is a missionary church, but I chose to talk about one: God's church is a missionary church because we all need to find God. 

For me, this is not an easy thing that God requires of us. We know that in order to go to the celestial kingdom, we all need to have faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I personally have never found that an easy thing that comes super naturally. 

Hard work, conscious choice, diligence, trust, humility
Sister Wawro and me: two peas in a pod?

In my experience it has been hard work--a decision that is intentional, one that takes a conscious choice and much diligence.

Believing in things that we can't see takes humility, to trust that there is much beyond our understanding--that just because we can't see things or comprehend them, doesn't mean they are not real. 

I think that God requires us to search for Him because it helps us go against our prideful human nature which is to doubt, and be skeptical, and to want to trust and rely on ourselves and no one else. 

Leads us to our knees
It leads us to our knees, to the scriptures, and it strips us of pride. 

Searching for God opens our eyes and broadens our perspective. 

It makes us more loving. 

It makes us realize there's so much more than we realize and there's more to life than just ourselves. 

Search for me with all your heart
The scripture I chose before leaving on my mission was Jeremiah 29:13, and it's still one of my favorites for all these reasons.
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
The search is never over! There's always more we can do!

All my love,
Sister Hancock

Sisters in our district

Sister Wawro and me
English party--we love Costco muffins
The Elders in our district