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 :)

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