Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quads, progressing, Sunny, giving up tea, scriptures are like friends

*Note: Sinclaire's birthday is April 5. 

Holding the Taiwan flag
March 23, 2015


The weather is heating up real quick! Just sitting outside is still decently comfortable, but after biking for an extended period of time it gets sweaty really quickly! By the way, our area is HUGE. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the biggest in the mission. By car, it takes 2-2.5 hours to drive across our entire area. By car! And we're on bikes. But it's nice to start like this because the rest of my areas in my mission will seem like a breeze. My quads will be able to handle anything! 
Beauty everywhere--even on a long road
This week we found a bunch of new investigators again. We're really excited to work with them! The hard part lately has been to get people progressing. Everyone is really busy so it's hard to setup, but we met some people who seem interested :) 

Sunny is an investigator we met through the free English class we teach every week. She's hilarious! She's probably in her 40s and she is super nice and spoils us. She loves the missionaries! 

She has been coming to English for a long time so her English is really good. Somehow a while back someone gave her a Book of Mormon and she reads every night! 

She told us that she wants to get baptized with her friend Judy. But she hasn't been taught any of the lessons and doesn't really know what baptism really means yet. So we've started teaching her and hopefully next time we meet, she'll be ready to make a baptismal goal!

Giving up tea
We have been teaching Wen Jiemei for a while now and she's pretty close to baptism also. 

Her biggest issue is the Word of Wisdom so we've been working on that with her. She can't quite seem to give up tea. She has so much faith and believes everything! But she isn't quite committed yet. 

This week we spent time contacting people on the university
campus--like old times at the University of Idaho in Moscow 
We've been calling her every day this week and last to try and follow-up and remind her but she hasn't been able to go a day yet without tea :(  But she'll get there and I know she can do it!

Scriptures are like friends
I've grown to really love the scriptures on my mission. I thought I loved them before my mission, but I love them even more now! They really are like friends in times of need. 

Because we have so much time biking, I try to make those sometimes 40 minutes to an hour productive. I've started memorizing a scripture a day and it's been great! 

I was never really good at this before and for the life of me I could not cite scripture references. 

But one of our friends in my last area in Idaho inspired me! She would memorize a scripture a day even though she wasn't super good at it either, so I thought I'd start. 

What beautiful blessings God has in store for us!
Elder Christofferson says 
"Faith comes by the witness of the Holy Spirit to our souls, Spirit to spirit, as we hear or read the word of God." 
It's so true! 

Often times I find answers to my prayers through scripture and it is a wonderful link between me and God. It makes Him seem a little less far away and answers to prayer a little less vague. 

One scripture I memorized this week is in 1 Corinthians 2:9: 
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 
What beautiful blessings God has in store for us!  And how much this scripture brightens my day, when I'm able to recite it in my head over and over while biking on a long road. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful week and happy almost Easter! Yippee! 

You're in my prayers!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

My wonderful companion

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Investigators, a new helper, squid and duck, always a way to accomplish

Scenic rice fields

16 March 2015


It was a good week this week. We worked hard on hitting mission standards and we're really excited because we found 6 new investigators. They're all awesome and I'm excited to teach them! Hopefully they'll be interested in learning more. 

City street

A new helper
One funny experience this week: a few weeks ago we met Lin Yu Jun. When we called her, she was willing to set up a time to meet with us. She's our age.  It was clear that she mostly just wanted to be friends and hang out with us but that she wasn't really interested in the Gospel. We met with her again this week to give it a try and same thing, which is okay! 

She took us to a cute bakery and bought us some pastries, then started telling us how we should be doing missionary work. She was telling us which streets to go on and where the nice people would be hanging out, etc. It was so funny!

As we were leaving, she asked if we wanted her to go and talk to the 2 workers at the shop. Of course we said yes. She walked up to them and introduced us then asked if they would be willing to meet with us this week and they agreed.

Carrot art!
It was awesome because we basically just stood there and she did it for us! If we had asked them ourselves, they would have never said yes. We'll definitely be keeping her around :)

Squid and duck
I tried squid and duck this week too! Definitely did not enjoy the squid, but the duck wasn't half bad. I'm not sure if I'll ever like seafood, but I was proud of myself for at least trying it!

One member this week handed me a piece of fish jerky (yes that's a thing).  I didn't know what it was, so I sniffed because I was curious. That was a mistake. It smelled like these treats we used to feed our dog, Whitney.

I knew that if I were to eat it I might gag. I didn't want to make a scene, so I just sort of held it. She asked me why I wasn't eating it.  We both just started laughing. She understood and said I didn't have to try it.

Besides that experience, I have been trying to be brave and be polite in people's homes! Maybe by the end of my mission I'll eat meat and seafood... "man man lai." [slowly it will come]

Always a way to accomplish what He asks
Samuel on the city wall
I read Helaman this week and I enjoyed reading the story of Samuel the Lamanite. This is a story we all love hearing as kids about how brave Samuel was to go and preach repentance to the wicked Nephites. He preached to them on a wall. While they shot him with arrows and threw stones at him, he survived. I enjoyed reading it this week from a missionary perspective. 

In Helaman 13, Samuel was cast out of Zarahemla but the Lord tells him to return and preach again. Real life equivalent would be like if after tracting a road of houses in Qiwei and no one was interested, would I be willing to go back and try them again if I felt prompted to do so?

1 Nephi 3:7 from the Book of Mormon
I would probably be hesitant, but he immediately obeyed and returned but "they would not suffer that he should enter into the city." Most of us at that point would leave and give up saying at least we tried and followed the prompting.

But Samuel didn't give up and got creative. They wouldn't let him into their city? No problem, let me just go and climb up onto this wall then. He wasn't lazy about it and knew that there is always a way to accomplish the things the Lord asks of us (1 Nephi 3:7). 

He took matters into his own hands and thought outside of the box. When we are given promptings, often we are not given all the details and steps along the way. The Lord trusts us and sometimes it is up to us to figure out how to accomplish the things He asks of us, but they are always possible. 

Sometimes it might be easy to to sort of give a half-hearted effort and to fall into the ineffective routine of saying "Hi I'm Sister Hancock, we're the missionaries in this area. Have you ever seen missionaries before?" But this doesn't always work. 

Qishan elders and sisters
I love Samuel's example of being creative and not giving up after his first attempt wasn't a success. It will not always be easy. People cast stones at him and shot arrows (Helaman 16:7). Sometimes people laugh at us or might be rude, but he kept preaching and found a way to escape safely. 

When he returned "even unto his own country [he] began to preach and to prophecy among his own people". It would be reasonable for him to rest after all that he had experienced and to want some time for himself. But he kept on preaching. I hope I can follow his example and keep on doing missionary work even when I'm home. I'm excited to be able to teach in my own country and among my own people too!

LOVE YOU ALL! Have a great week :)

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

My bed in our apartment
My desk

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sister Biancardi, "this is my work", hike and dumplings, strength

My trainer and companion, Sister Biancardi
9 March 2015

An excerpt from Mission President Blickenstaff's letter last week to all of the Taiwan Taichung missionaries:

"....Our prayers were answered this past week as we welcomed 18 new missionaries who had been serving in various other missions while awaiting their Taiwan visas. They are an outstanding group and have definitely added faith and energy to our mission. We look forward to helping them settle in and learn what it means to be a Taiwan Taichung Missionary....

I am grateful for each of you. I appreciate who you are and who you are becoming. I am pleased with your desire to serve and give of yourselves. You are faithful and dedicated...."

Gaoxiong East and West Zones
(Can you find me?)
Singing the mission song
Sister missionaries meeting with Sister Blickenstaff
Dear loved ones,

I love you so much!  How is your week going? Here's news from me.

Sister Biancardi
My trainer/companion is from Oregon and she did a year and a half at BYU before her mission. She's been out a year now and has been in Qishan since November. It's her first time training! She's very patient with me and has a good balance between pushing me and throwing me into contacting situations on my own, while also helping me and making it less scary. She's shorter than me! First companion who's shorter than me :) and we both fit right in with the people here.

"This is my work"
At training, President Blickenstaff shared 2 scriptures from the Book of Mormon about God saying "this is my work".  He bore testimony about how it truly is God's work, and we cannot do it on our own.

I really believe that! This work is not ours and we will be most successful when we rely on Heavenly Father and bring the Spirit into the equation. It's our privilege to be a part of it.

Qishan hike
Hike and dumplings
This week one highlight was our ward activity. We met at the Relief Society president's house and went on a hike together. It was so beautiful!

It was hilarious because this old lady in our ward kept trying to push me all the way up the mountain because she thought it was helping. She said it was helping her too, so there was this chain of about 5 old ladies all pushing each other up the mountain in a little train.

Homemade dumplings over a campfire

Afterwards, there was a ton of food as there always is. At every activity, everyone brings food.

And lots of it!

And then they always send us home with all the leftovers. We made dumplings over a camp fire and they were delicious.

They also had matching visors for everyone. So Sister Biancardi and I had a fun time wearing them in as many ways as possible that we could come up with :)

So many ways to wear visors
Strength such as is not known among men
This week I've enjoyed thinking about a scripture in D&C 24:12
"And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men". 
We are told to talk with everyone! I feel like contacting and tracting sort of have a bad reputation. Whenever I heard these terms before my mission, I sort of got the vibe that missionaries didn't enjoy it and that they were really hard.

But it turns out it's super fun! It's the energizing part. I learned to love contacting during my time in Idaho because, really, it's just talking to people. What's not fun about getting to know new people?

It's also a fun challenge because you're forced to get creative about it and think of new ways to mix it up and interest people.

Being in Taiwan, it's definitely different because my vocabulary is still very limited right now. So I usually stick to the boring basic things that I know how to say right now, but I'm excited to learn more and be able to catch people's attention :)

 I love this scripture because it tells us to jump right in! That's how it works. I can't wait until I'm fluent to then have courage to talk to people, or else I would never become fluent. Even though it can be a bit uncomfortable at times, I've really learned to make it fun and to just laugh it off when people might be rude or feel awkward with us.

Because we bike everywhere, there are tons of opportunities to talk to people! At every red light, we have about 30 seconds to try and talk to someone about the Gospel and try to set up a time to meet with them to share more.

The promise is amazing that if we really do try our best to talk with everyone that we will be given "strength such as is not known among men." I'm testing that promise! 

And it's true. Every time I feel like I should talk to someone even if I don't know what I'll say, somehow my mouth is always filled.

Love you!
Sister Hancock

Monday, March 2, 2015

Internet cafe in Qishan, great reunion, super awesome, Dan Jones, Power Week, is it I?

Sister Biancardi and me plus the Qishan Elders arriving by bus for Sunday's Gaoxiong East Stake Conference
2 March 2015

Hello all! 

Greetings from an internet cafe in Qishan, Taiwan. It's awesome to finally be here! I have pictured in mind this first week, since about last June when I received my call. 

Great Reunion
I left Spokane with 5 other sisters who I knew at the MTC and we all traveled together. It was a pleasant surprise that when we were boarding from San Francisco to fly to Taipei, we were reunited with tons of other visa waiters. We had all been in the MTC together and were re-assigned to different state-side missions but were all booked on the same flight to Taipei. It was a great reunion! 

President and Sister Blickenstaff--they're super awesome!
Just picture about 36 missionaries running into each other at the airport and all boarding the same flight. Whenever the seat belt sign was off, everyone was able to talk in the aisles, sit together, and catch up about what it was like to serve in the States. It sure was a party on that United flight. I'm sure the rest of the airplane hated us :) 

Super Awesome
We spent the first couple of days in Taizhong staying in the mission home. We received orientation from President and Sister Blickenstaff and the Assistants to the President (APs). It was really fun and they're super awesome! 

A completely different feel than President and Sister Mullen (Washington Spokane mission) but I completely respect both couples! I'm grateful for all that I was able to learn from my time in Idaho. 

I can already tell things are done differently here, not surprisingly. The mission culture is different as well as the focus of our missionary work. Here we focus a lot on retention and reactivation which will be a little bit different. The way missionaries teach here is also different:  it's in Chinese, it is to people with a different culture and often times little knowledge about Christianity. 

In Idaho, we had to be very strong on the doctrine. Many people were religious and huge on the Bible so we needed to be prepared to answer lots of "anti"-Mormon-type questions. That was really good practice for me and I'm glad I learned those skills, but will probably not be doing much of that here. 

My"Dan Jones" experience:
declaring what I know (in Mandarin) on a busy street in Taipei
Dan Jones Experience
On our last night in Taizhong, we went and did the "Dan Jones" experience that I heard rumors about in the MTC from previous missionaries who served in this mission. 

Basically what happened was President took us new missionaries to the center of a busy night market with tons of people and gave us a "soapbox" to stand on, or a stool, and we were to preach to the crowds in Chinese. 

Dan Jones was one of the first missionaries in the church. He was known for his boldness in preaching and doing it this same way. 

It was kind of scary to get up and start yelling our testimonies in Chinese while holding up the Book of Mormon, but it was super fun! It was a good way to jump right in and get rid of a lot of our fears.

Beautiful view from our apartment here in Qishan

Power Week
Now I'm in Qishan, a picturesque town outside Gaoxiong (aka Kaohsiung).

Another thing I'm excited about is Power Week. Chinese New Year just ended and that occupies all of everyone's time, so missionary work has been slow these last 2 weeks. 

Power Week is just something fun to get everyone pumped again and back into it. So our study time is cut in half and we're out the door! 

There are different challenges everyday and certain numbers to meet depending on the day. So today we're going to tract for 3 hours and try to tract our way into 2 lessons with families. It'll be fun!

Is it I?
This week I've been re-reading President Uchtdorf's talk from last conference "Lord, Is It I?" It's just an amazing talk -- go and listen to or read it! 

On the Savior's last night, He tells the 12 apostles that one of them will betray Him. Many of us likely would have pointed fingers or thought "It's probably him." 
An amazing talk--listen to or read it! 

But they were "exceedingly sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22) 

I love how this talk reminds me to focus on myself and the ways I can improve instead of getting caught up in others' shortcomings. President Uchtdorf says it perfectly: 
"If our weaknesses and shortcomings remain obscured in the shadows, then the redeeming power of the Savior cannot heal them and make them strengths. Ironically, our blindness toward our human weaknesses will also make us blind to the divine potential that our Father yearns to nurture within each of us." 
I hope we can picture us in that situation and think about the way we might respond and how we can work on changing our thoughts to be more kind and understanding towards others. 

I'm out of time to write more.   After my first handful of days here in Taiwan--everything is going really well! 


Sister Hancock

Delicious passion fruit juice served last night by a church member to us :)