Friday, February 27, 2015

19 photos of my first 48 hours in Taiwan!

First night in Taiwan: Sharing (in Mandarin) "what I know"  on the streets of Taipei

26 February 2015

My amazing first 48 hours in Taiwan!

After 3 flights and 30 hours of travel:  long awaited arrival in Taiwan as one of 18 new missionaries
 for the Taizhong Mission

Visas at last!  18 new missionaries for the Taizhong Mission; 18 new missionaries for the Taipei Mission

From the airport to the mission home: introductions on the bus
Loving and inspiring welcome from Mission President and Sister Blickenstaff

Traditional Taiwanese breakfast with fresh fruit

Visiting with Mission President Blickenstaff and some of the other newly arrived sister missionaries

Morning stretching and running

P90X exercises

"Buddha Clap" exercises and team building

Training sessions
Sharing with each other

Practicing in Mandarin to talk with anybody :)                

Talking in Chinese with people on the streets of Taipei

Delicious welcome dinner with President and Sister Blickenstaff

All of us new missionaries with our trainers/companions.  My companion is Sister Biancardi.

Lunch with our trainers/companions

Happy happy -
on my way to serve in the city of Qishan--
a northeastern suburb of Kaohsiung, a city of 2.7 million in the southwest part of Taiwan

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Taiwan bound, Chinese New Year, Obedience & Agency, 3 Ps

Going to miss all the kids in the Moscow University 4th Ward
February 23, 2015

Hey everyone,

I will dearly miss the creatures of Moscow
Taiwan Bound
I take off tomorrow morning at 6 am from Spokane to Portland to San Francisco to Taipei. There wasn't a lot of notice and time to say goodbye to everyone, but we definitely made the most out of the last few days! We had a ton of member appointments which are great. Our ward is really amazing!!! I will miss those families. They spoiled us with food and sweets these last few days :) 

It really has been so much fun getting to know all of them. It's so cool that they're really just like our friends and it feels like we're hanging out with friends whenever we go over. It's awesome that we've been able to get to know them so well even though we haven't been in this area for very long.

Chinese New Year
A highlight of this week was Chinese New Year. It started out with lunch: Bishop and Sister Schoenberg took us out to Mongolian BBQ which was awesome because it's one of my favorites from back home.

Chinese New Year decorations or earrings?
Then we had another lunch appointment with a former investigator, Kailai. Whenever we go to her house she makes a FEAST. She does not mess around! There's always a ton of food and it's authentic Chinese food and she always tells us to keep eating.

So we had hot pot at her house and then we met at the Institute with the Chinese group for Chinese New Year and had dumplings and other Asian goodies. Basically we had Chinese food all day and tons and tons of it! Just in time for me to go to Taiwan :)

Obedience and Agency
For my last Sunday, Bishop asked me to give a talk on obedience. I really enjoyed preparing for it and going throughout my scripture study with that topic always in the back of my mind. It's amazing how many ideas pop into your head like that! I learned a lot through that assignment. I wish I could type it all up, but I was mostly struck by how much our Heavenly Father trusts us. Agency is a concept that I don't think will ever cease to fascinate me. 

Goodbye dinner with wonderful
Bishop & Sister Schoenberg
But we all know what Satan's plan was: we could come to Earth, make every decision perfectly, and then we would be able to return to live with Heavenly Father again. But instead, according to the plan of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we came to Earth with the ability to make our own decisions, knowing that we would fall short and frequently make mistakes. 

I best understand this concept when relating it to my own earthly parents. The times I had the greatest desire to obey were the times they actually let me make my own decision. For example, I would ask the question "Do I have to go to seminary this morning?" My Dad would always respond telling me "No, you don't have to do anything. It's up to you."

Because I knew he trusted me, I wanted to make him proud of me. It was when I saw that he was loving enough to let me make my own choice that I wanted to then make a good choice so he wouldn't be disappointed. If he were to instead answer "Yes you have to go" each morning I asked, it probably would have started a fight and I would choose not to go to make a point.
Last Bible brunch with the bunch

Principle, practice, promise
It's the same with Heavenly Father. From Doctrine & Covenants 58:26, we know we have choices; there must be alternatives for there to be agency. He is not a parent who micromanages: 
"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things." 
However, He does not abandon us. We are not left on our own trying to figure everything out. He has given us the Gospel and we know how we can succeed in life. As Dad and Mama used to always say, they teach us the "principle, the practice, and the promise." 

Heavenly Father has done the same:  
"I will give unto you a pattern in all things.
I'm so grateful that I have the Gospel in my life and I'm excited to be able to share it with the people in Taiwan! 

Hope everyone has a great week! 

All my love!
Sister Sinclaire Hancock

P.S. Last photos from Moscow:

I love my district so stinkin' much!
Goofing around :)
Chillin' in my University of Idaho Vandals snuggie

Volleyball squad blooper
Last time with the volleyball squad


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Excited to go to Taiwan, so dang much, heart attack, heavy rifle, His friends, what I picture when I pray

February 18, 2015

Hello family! 

Last week in Moscow
Sister Worthen and me
Super great week. Good thing, too, because it turns out it's my last week in Moscow!  Definitely bittersweet. It will be hard to say goodbye to everyone I've met here. But I'm so excited for my next adventure! I'm excited because I know how much it will force me to grow. 

Things almost seemed too easy here! It definitely was a tender mercy from the Lord, but me and my companion got along perfectly, the winter wasn't even that cold, and I could speak English! Life was a breeze. Of course there were the typical mission hardships like being tired and getting rejected, etc. but life was pretty great! 

Excited to go to Taiwan
So I'm excited to go to Taiwan and be in culture shock! I'm ready for the challenge of learning to love new people again. It will be wonderful to sound dumb  in Mandarin and make myself vulnerable because I know it will humble me and force me to rely on the Lord since I won't even know how to communicate with people. I know the food might also be a big adjustment, but I know it will make me try to be more understanding and appreciative of other cultures. All of these things begin my next adventure! 

So dang much
I will miss Moscow so dang much though! And when I say that, I'm really referring to the people. My companion Sister Worthen has been so great! We've become so close over time so it will be weird starting from fresh and getting to know someone all over again. I've loved being in a married student ward and I have really become friends with so many of the members. I know that whatever ward I'm in next will be very different and most likely a family ward. 

I also know they likely will have a different mentality about missionary work; the Bishop might not be quite as enthusiastic and the members likely will not be as involved. I really have never even heard of a ward like ours before! Being involved with the missionaries here really is an expectation. Right when new couples move in, they get involved right away and it's been such a blessing! The members are proactive about inviting their friends to activities and it's so much more effective that way! Bishop works for a property company so he meets with people all the time so we receive tons of referrals from him and that helps a ton! I'm going to miss all of these things, but I know Taiwan will be awesome too!

Heart attack

5 course meal and heart attack
Valentine's Day was super fun! We went over to the Goodwins and cooked a 5 course meal together for her husband. It was great being back in the kitchen and making fancy recipes! It was all delicious and it was fun being their waitresses. It meant so much to them that they could enjoy a meal together and sit down for the entire thing and visit while we brought it all out. We also made tons of valentines and heart attacked them to members' doors which was really nice too.

Lookin' legit

Heavy rifle
While visiting Ting & Tom (our recent convert), we got to try some of Tom's military gear! When we walked into the living room, he was doing something with oil to his rifle on the couch. Casual. So we just sat next to him and started talking. We finally commented on how he was just chilling with his rifle.  He let us hold it and then he brought out all of his gear that he wore in the Middle East. It was really cool seeing it up close and trying it all on. Man, is it heavy! He then told us to try running and crawling and jumping around, because that's how it is in real life. I could hardly jump.

Spokane Temple
Today we were able to go to the Spokane temple which was really neat! It was the smallest temple I've been in so far but very pretty! I'm glad I was able to go before leaving :)

Love and His Friends
This week I've been thinking about love because of Valentines day and especially about some scriptures in John chapter 15 verses 9-14:
Spokane Temple
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
These are interesting verses for me to ponder. If we keep the commandments, then we will feel the Savior's love. But most of all, I love how He calls us His friends. It makes it so personal to know He views us that way and it makes me feel closer to Him. 

What I picture when I pray
I remember a few years ago I was talking to my mom one night and she asked me what I picture when I pray. I told her I picture someone watching over me from up high above in Heaven -- this sort of all-powerful type of Being. We talked some more about that and she gave me some new ideas that I've tried to apply in the way I pray. I've made it a goal to truly picture myself talking to a friend now when I pray, because I know that's how He thinks of us. This helps me to know someone is listening and that I can really open up and feel like someone is not so far away. 

Time's basically up, but I love you all ... and you're in my prayers! 

I'm excited to fly out on Tuesday! I'll find out more details when I receive my travel itinerary in the mail tomorrow

Thanks for all the support and love! Love you all!!! 

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Bible brunch
Sisters and Elders

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What would you do if, Valentine's Day, planting seeds

Happy Valentine's Day! Having fun with the ribbons and balloons out of my Valentine box from home :)

February 9, 2015

Dear loved ones:

Here are this week's highlights!

Speed training
So we met with Brother Staggs again.  He is the really busy personal trainer who we went on a run with last week. This time we joined him for speed training! It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. We did sprints and basically he told me I don't know how to sprint. Which is true! I've never really had to do it before. So he'll be critiquing me each time we meet in the future. Btw, it's become a tradition! Every Thursday at 5 we'll do speed training with him because it's the only time he'll squeeze us in for a lesson. I'm very excited! He's making progress slowly. He said he might be baptized in the next life, but believe it or not that is a huge step for him!

Sister Worthen and me:  "What would you do if..."
"What would you do if..." 
Sister Worthen and I spend our time coming up with these ridiculous questions and scenarios and each of them start off with this phrase. We can stay up for hours laughing about these in bed at night. Or when we're walking to appointments or during contacting, this is usually what we spend our time talking about. 

Valentine's Day! 
Last P-day, we bought matching outfits so we can contact the entire Valentine's Day weekend. We go at great lengths to get people to talk to us, so we figured that matching, festive outfits might help do the trick.

Matching outfits for Valentine's Day contacting
As a joke we wanted to ask some couples in the ward if they had plans on Saturday night, or what they were doing the night of the 14th, to see if some of them might forget it was Valentine's Day and agree to have us over. We were just kidding, but Sister Goodwin invited us over! She said we could dress up in our matching outfits and help her cook a 4 course meal for her husband and then be the waitresses. So we'll be crashing the Goodwins for Valentine's Day! We're actually really excited because we hang out with Sister Goodwin a lot and are getting to know them better. 

Planting Seeds
This week I've been thinking about planting seeds. I'm sad because I know that I'll probably be leaving soon. I've met so many incredible people here and I'm not ready to leave them yet! 

I'm scared because I want them to keep progressing. Every missionary wants to be the one who sees the investigators at the end of their progression and gets to harvest, but it rarely works out that way. 

It can be hard to leave these people not knowing what will happen to them and wishing you could keep helping them, but I trust in the Lord's timing. 

Our apartment
In my Book of Mormon reading this week, I was reminded of the story of Abinadi in the Book of Mormon. How cool is he?!

But really, when it comes down to it, he had an awful "missionary week" in terms of numbers. Each week, we account for our numbers so we can see how the work is progressing and to help push us. 

Abinadi basically would have only taught 1 other lesson to a bunch of new investigators ... (The mission average here is 28 lessons a week). And from that, he only had one person get baptized and he wasn't even alive to see it. But that person happened to be Alma who went on to baptize hundreds of people and really changed the world.

Often times, we can't see the results of the work we're doing.  It was a great reminder to me that even if progression seems slow, it's still there.  And even if we might not get to see the harvest, those seeds that we are planting are important.

Lots of love,

Sister Hancock

P.S. Next P-day is the 18th because we're going to the temple on Wednesday! Talk to ya'll then!

Channing, Sterling and Mama: I love the scarf you brought me back from Sri Lanka!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Running lesson, new investigators, King of Heaven, farewell to Grampy

Running in the snow

February 2, 2015

Dear family and friends,

Still loving Moscow. Don't want to leave!

Frozen Yogurt?
We tried some new finding techniques which I think were a success. While driving home, we would find someone who was walking alone or maybe waiting for a bus. My companion would pull the car right up to them, and I would roll down my window and ask for directions to the nearest frozen yogurt place. They would give some long answer--pointing different directions, telling us to turn at the light after the hill, yada yada yada. Then we would say "Thanks so much. Sorry we're new in town. We're actually missionaries..." and that's where we'd jump into a Gospel conversation! 

Matching Outfits
Running lesson with Gene
This week during weekly planning, we made a different goal to find people for each day of the week. If you can't tell, it's been hard to find young married students. Most people aren't married that are young and if they are, they're already Mormon! So we've been getting really creative. We have some pretty cheesy lines that we've come up with and we even bought matching outfits today that will hopefully get some people to talk to us! 

Running Lesson
So we have an investigator named Gene S. He says he's mean. He's just very blunt! But deep down, he's considerate. We texted him asking when they would be free to have us over. His response "Charity's (his wife) out of town and she's the one who likes having you over, so maybe next week." We texted him back asking if he would meet us at the institute. His response: "No." We asked if we could bring a member to his house and suggested one of his friends and he still said no. After several attempts, we finally let it be.

He texted us Friday: "I actually found some free time. I run for an hour on Saturdays slow enough for most people to talk." So we went with it! Saturday morning came around and of course it was snowing. I've never run in the snow before so that was a new experience! We met at this beautiful arboretum on campus and it looked absolutely gorgeous with the snow. Sure enough we ran for an hour, and the entire thing was hilly, so we were panting trying to ask him questions about his Alma 32 reading... when we could catch our breath.

His response "I have enough faith in myself for the entire world." We're still working on him! But I definitely enjoyed the running lesson and we have our next set up with him for Saturday to join him for his speed training. Oh, I forgot to mention that he's a personal trainer and this hour run Saturday was his recovery day, so I'm excited to find out what we'll do with him for his speed day. Stay posted. 

With Sister Gillette, an awesome awesome sister in our ward
Pink Nikes
Another funny story:  we went straight from our run to the institute for a lesson with our investigator, Emma. We were changing quickly in the bathroom and I realized somehow I had totally forgotten shoes. All I had were my bright pink Nikes. So I taught an entire lesson barefoot then went to Bible Brunch without them too. I felt very unprofessional but people had some pretty good laughs about it, so I'm glad I was able to provide some entertainment :) 

New Investigators
We found new investigators! We were contacting on campus one day, which is super fun, but can be a bit tough. Usually people tell us they can't talk because they're on their way to class. Lots of people have headphones in too. So we walk around and try to decide who looks friendly and interested. It's pretty easy to justify not talking to someone. "They look scary, they look busy, they're in a rush..." or whatever it might be.

at the Bishop's home
We were walking by this one guy and I had a bunch of those thoughts. We were about to pass him, when I felt like I should really talk to him. So we did! And turns out he's super awesome and religious and just a friendly guy. During our conversation he slipped in something about his wife. This never happens! This means we can actually teach them! Usually we just have to pass them off to the other elders who are over the YSA ward.

Double fisting

So we met for the first time with Earl & Rachel on Friday and it was so fun! We all talked and got to know each other and then taught them the Restoration. They had a ton of questions.  Since they met at a Bible College in the wilderness in Montana, they're pretty set with their religion, but we had some really interesting conversation. It was super deep and they had good questions -- the type of things I love thinking about and discussing. I'm really excited to teach them again on Friday! 

Super Bowl at the Bishop's
And the Super Bowl was awesome! We're not allowed to watch it obviously, but the whole ward met at Bishop's house for Break the Fast and we had an awesome time eating and getting to know more members. (That's me double fisting)

Names of Christ

King of Heaven
Mama:  I'm really enjoying studying the names of Christ with you! I'm in 2 Nephi 25 now :) and really enjoying it. Each name is marked in the mini red copy of the Book of Mormon you gave me for Christmas.  It's so cool to see! So far one name that I've liked a lot is "King of Heaven" because we rarely hear that one. 

Farewell to Grampy
Sad news that Grampy passed away. I thought he would have a little longer, but I'm glad he didn't have to be in pain very long. I hope everyone is doing okay, especially Dad. There is much to learn from Grampy's sweet, humble example. All of our Hancock family will definitely be in my prayers. What a comfort it is to know that families are forever! 

Love you all!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

P.S.  Here's a funny picture of the elders who are zone leaders. :)

Funny zone leaders