Sunday, May 31, 2015

I will miss, one thing I admire, last week in Qishan, unconditional surrender

I'm so happy to be a missionary!
1 June 2015
Qishan, Taiwan

Hello everyone!

Found out officially that I'll be leaving my first area this week. My companion will be training a new missionary in Qishan, so I'll be moving to my second area (but I still don't know where yet).  It's a bummer that Sister Price and I only had 3 weeks together! We were having so much fun and we get along really well. But her trainee will be very lucky :) 

I will miss...
I will miss Liu JieMei
I will miss people I'm teaching.  One cute story: when we taught Huang JieMei about tithing this week, she had absolutely no problems! She said she would even give 30% to God and asked if there were any rules about limits for how much she could donate.

I will miss these members! It's such a special ward. 

And I will miss the beautiful Qishan mountains. 

But I'm excited to be able to get to know another area of Taiwan and it will be fun having a chance to start over again. 

One thing I admire
Had the chance to go on exchanges again for this transfer. The Sister Training Leader came to Qishan. She really is a good example of a "Preach My Gospel" missionary. 

She's really bold and one thing I admire about her is she knows how to take control of a situation. Often times when we walk into someone's house, there will be a baby crying, kids running around playing, the mom doing lots of dishes, the TV on, etc. She's very good about not being afraid and turning the environment into an appropriate setting for a lesson. 

Grateful for 3 amazing weeks with Sister Price
Last week in Qishan
For my last week in Qishan, Sister Price and I decided we're going to try as many drink shops and bing places as we can! 

And one day for lunch, we're not going to buy food, we'll just buy 2 things of bing each :) I can't wait! Diabetes here we come! 

We also made a goal we're going to focus especially on finding new investigators and try to have 3 by Wednesday. I can feel the miracles coming!

Unconditional surrender
This week I loved studying the talk by Elder Maxwell Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father. Talks about consecration are always so humbling because they help me realize how much I fall short! There is so much in this talk that could be discussed; Elder Bednar was accurate when describing Elder Maxwell as the "modern Isaiah." But this is my favorite line:

"Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!"  Elder Neal A. Maxwell

He is absolutely correct that our will is the only possession which is truly ours to give. Everything else that we own we have because of God, but the one thing that is unique to us is our choices, because God gave us the gift of agency. 

I love the idea of the "law of compensation." I've begun to experience it on my mission: I used to have the mentality that a mission was a sacrifice because it is optional, and that we would sacrifice our time and money and interests and basically put our lives on hold in order to serve. 

The longer I'm out, I've really learned that any little effort I have given, the promise in the scriptures is fulfilled, that I am blessed one hundred fold. 

Submission really does enhance our capacity for joy. 

I'm so happy to be a missionary! I'm grateful everyday to be having this experience in Taiwan and it's going by too quickly! 

Goodbye Qishan! 

Sister Hancock

Goodbye Qishan!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My new companion, rain, finished with training, God's influence, talk with Him personally, nowhere to turn but up

My new companion!  So much rain this week! 
25 May 2015
Qishan, Taiwan

My latest purchase! The Meinong umbrellas are absolutely gorgeous
and completely hand-made and hand painted. 

My new companion: Sister Price
It was a fun week! 

First full week with Sister Price... so it's been fun getting to know her and working together. She's from Seattle, Washington, and is going to study nursing when she goes home (in 8 weeks!) It's her first time during her whole mission being this far South and in a rural area. 

So it's a new experience for her but she really likes it in Qishan. And she also keeps commenting "Wow, they really do love bananas in Qishan." Yes we do! 

Banana everything! So delicious. 

She says it's the quirkiest ward she's been in her entire mission. Which reminds me of an active member visit on Friday with You Jiemei. Many funny things happened.... It didn't phase me whatsoever, because that's so You Jiemei. But Sister Price's reaction made me realize how truly funny this ward is. I really love the members! 

I fell in love with the birds and
knew I had to have one with a bird on it...
It rained this entire week! It was so much fun! The Taiwanese do not like the rain - they're sort of scared of it and think it's just a huge inconvenience. So hardly anyone was outside this whole week. And when it's a rainy day, it's hilarious, because it turns into this huge sea of people in gigantic bright yellow ponchos. And yes, needless to say, we rocked the ponchos :P 

Exciting News
Another exciting piece of news: I'm officially done with my training time! 

So starting tomorrow we'll leave the door at 10:30 which will be super weird.  Going through training twice [once in Idaho and once in Mandarin in Taiwan], my entire mission so far, we've always left at 12:30. So we will have a lot more time in the day now.

Prayer: God's influence in our lives
This week I've been thinking about prayer.  It really is a special privilege to be able to witness people saying their first prayer even--something unique to serving in Taiwan.  It's wonderful to see how sincere they are and how nervous they are to try praying.

It causes me to think more deeply about prayer and how I can make it more meaningful even though it's something I've been raised to do and have done since a young child. 

I love the promises stated in Preach My Gospel and have found they really are true: as we pray often, we will realize God's influence in our lives, we will feel closer to Him, we will feel forgiven, we will make better decisions, and have increased strength to resist temptation. 

Prayer: talk with Him personally
Elder Richard G. Scott, a current apostle,  said:

"Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul.

Think of it: the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father.

Actually, because He knows how desperately we need his guidance, He commands, "Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private."

It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him.

We need no appointment.

Our supplication can be brief or can occupy all the time needed.

It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help.

He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer."

Nowhere to turn but up
Missions are a really special time for several reasons. One of the reasons we grow so much is because we cut out all distractions. 

Normally when we have a bad day or something stresses us out, we could listen to music, go for a drive, watch a TV show, go swim, or whatever it might be to clear our mind. But that isn't an option anymore. 

Everything around us is removed and all the normal places we turn to are gone now. So we have nowhere to turn but up. 

It really is the better method though! Turning to Heavenly Father has really helped bring me more peace.  It's such a blessing that we can talk to Him just as we would to our own father.

Love you all!!!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

72 hour emergency kits
Spelling by my cute English students

Lunch at Gaoxiong Zone Conference (May 14, 2015) 
Official photo of our Gaoxiong East and West Zones (May 14, 2015)
(2nd row, center)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

New companion, craving change, Lin Jiemei's baptism, persistence and patience, eternalgators, unified

Lin Jiemei's baptism!

May 18, 2015
Qishan, Taiwan

Zhou Jiemei was eager to teach my companion
Sister Biancardi this workout before she left serving Qishan
First off: exciting news! 

New Companion!
I'm getting a new companion today! I was really surprised because the move call isn't technically for 3 weeks.  But they have "mini move calls" here, so sometimes halfway through the transfer people will get changed around. 

I've genuinely loved each one of my companions and have learned different things from each of them. 

But it is always exciting to get a new one. It's fun being able to have a new slate and being able to get to know someone again. 

Craving Change
I find myself always craving change on my mission--no matter what it is--so I always find change refreshing.

It's also exciting because I'll be the one to teach my new companion the area.  And oddly enough, I'm now the missionary in our district who's been in Qishan the longest! 

Newly baptized: radiant and happy
Lin Jiemei's Baptism
Lin Jiemei's baptism was awesome! 

There were a lot of people there and we had 3 investigators come too which was super cool. 

Persistence and Patience
Zone Conference! It was really really awesome. President and Sister Blickenstaff are super down to earth and I felt really nourished by this zone conference. 

One thing that stuck out to me a lot is never, ever giving up on our investigators. 

So many stories were told of super active life-long members that came as a result of missionaries never giving up and going back and teaching--even if it took 10+ years for them to finally accept the Gospel. 

That's a concept I truly believe in: persistence and patience. 

Every missionary has a different "strategy", but when I put myself in the shoes of an investigator, I totally picture me as being what we call "eternalgators" -- people who get there eventually, but it just takes a really long time.

So for me, I enjoy working with "formers" (people who were taught in the past by missionaries, but for some reason stopped learning) and with people who might not progress super fast (but are still interested). My heart really goes out to them. I think I would be them had I not been born in the church. 

A beautiful white night
Other missionaries have more of the mentality that people are either prepared or not, and that time is very precious.  So if investigators are not progressing, they need to be dropped so missionaries can spend that time finding the people who are ready. 

Both strategies work, they're just different. It's interesting seeing how different each missionary's perspective is.

Unified companionships
The other thing that stuck out to me a lot is something that President said: "Unified companionships are not optional, they're essential." It's so true. 

I've realized that your relationship with your companion affects every aspect of the work. It really is crucial to get along well and to make it work no matter what differences you have.

Hope everyone has a happy, happy week! 

All my love,
Sister Hancock

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lin Jiemei, Mother's Day, trying to the last minute, genuinely happy, cheerful giver, family!

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Lin Jiemei
Things are going well here in Qishan! We're really excited for our investigator Lin Jiemei to be baptized on Saturday! She's super prepared and she's been excited for this day for a while now, so it should be awesome :) We also have a few potentials already set up this week to meet with us and we have Zone Conference on Thursday, so it's looking like a good busy week.

Mother's Day posters
Last night we made some posters with the elders and went contacting together at night. We stood at a busy intersection and wished everyone we saw a happy mother's day.  We talked to them about families and how the teachings of Jesus Christ can help us strengthen our families. 

As a district, we had a goal of 3 adds for that hour. An add is basically when you talk to someone and they are interested enough that you can schedule a time to meet with them and share more. Often times adds are hard to get because people are in a rush and don't even want to talk to you or they don't want to learn more because they don't feel like they need anything else in their lives. 

Trying to the last minute
So we went for the first half hour, and weren't super successful, but we kept going and pushing onto the end and right at 7:30, when we were ending, a lady came up to us because she had lost her Uncle and showed us a picture asking if we had seen him. We hadn't, but luckily we were able to keep the conversation going and we're actually meeting with her again tonight! It was awesome to see that enduring to the end pays off, and that often times, the miracles really do come when we keep on trying to the very last minute and keep up the faith. 

More consecrated
This week I've been thinking about ways I can become more consecrated. This is a really special opportunity that I have to be able to dedicate 100% of my time to serving, and I probably won't have another chance to do so in my lifetime. It really is a neat opportunity to be completely cut off from social media, the news and world events, music, etc. It's so cool to be able to focus all of my time and thoughts on the things that are most important. 

Genuinely happy
I'm genuinely happy to be in Taiwan. I've loved my mission so far, and I can honestly say that every week has been a good one! 

I think that has been a huge blessing to enjoy this time and to be happy to be serving, but I'm working even more on my attitude and trying to keep refining it to become better and better. 

Cheerful giver
From 2 Corinthians 9:7, we learn that it is not just enough to do good things or to make good decisions. I believe that in the next life when we look back at our lives with a perfect memory of our decisions, "judgment" will not be about a checklist of things. God knows our hearts and it is truly our intentions and desires and thoughts that are most important. 
"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver"  2 Corinthians 9:7
I believe it's not just enough to serve a mission and to go through the actions if our heart isn't there. We need to be fully engaged in this work and devote our time and energy and thoughts to caring for people we serve so we can know how to best help them. Though it is true we sacrifice a lot of things in order to serve, I don't like to focus on that. 

For anything I've sacrificed, I know God will bless me "an hundred" fold and that we already are eternally indebted to Him. I'm trying to always have this mentality and not ever pity myself while serving and to give this year and half "cheerfully". I never view it as something I simply need to endure or get through because it will be good for me. But to love every moment. God loveth a cheerful giver. 

So happy I was able to hear your voices and be able to actually see everyone! Seems like everyone is happy and doing well :) 

Hooray for a family visit via Google Hangout!
Me in Qishan, Spencer and Channing in Singapore, Sterling in Ventura,
Mama, Dad and Grandma in Palo Alto
Hope it was a wonderful Mother's Day!!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE you all!
Hope everyone felt the importance of families today and God's love. I definitely did! 

All my love,
Sister Hancock

P.S. LOVE YOU MAMA!!! : Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!!! I sent a card for you by mail.  And here's a photo of me (at the top of blog) saying, "Mu qin jie kuai le!" [Happy Mother's Day].

I really love the journal you sent me! I've decided to use it as sort of a scrapbook journal writing about different pictures I'm pasting inside....

Our time's about up but it was so fun to see you today. Hope it's an awesome week! LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sister Hancocks times two, Joseph Smith's promise is true

May 4, 2015
Qishan, Taiwan

Dear loved ones,

I was going to make the subject "Another good week!".  But then I realized I need to be more creative, because I think that's the same title I use every week. But all of the weeks really are good! 

Sister Hancock times two
The highlight this week definitely was exchanges. We usually go on exchanges once a transfer and it's an opportunity to work with a different companion--sometimes even in a different area--so you can learn from each other and try new ideas. 

Exchanges:  Sisters Hancock
At the time, they always start out a little inconvenient, because you have to pack up your stuff and spend a bunch of time traveling to meet up.  But afterwards I'm always so happy. 

This time was especially fun because I was able to be with the other Sister Hancock! (We knew each other a little bit in the MTC.) Apparently President has a thing here where if you have the same name as someone else, then you're basically destined to be companions at some point. So we're excited for when that will happen. 

It was awesome being able to bond with her, because we both served in the states before coming to Taiwan. We had a ton to talk about and very similar perspectives on everything. 

Usually exchanges are an opportunity for new missionaries to work with experienced missionaries or the Sister Training Leader. But it was neat to be with Sister Hancock because we're both still in training. I actually didn't even know that they "allowed" that. But it was neat to see how even though we've both only been in Taiwan for 2 months, we got around just fine. 

Highlighting the name of Christ in my Book of Mormon
Joseph Smith's promise is true
This week I finished reading through the Book of Mormon again. My love for this book of scripture grows each time I read it!

Even though I read through the same words over and over again, each time I learn new things specific to me. 

This time I was particularly focusing on the names of Christ and trying to better understand the nature of God. So I actually went through and highlighted each mention of Deity. 

It was a little "ma fan" [troublesome] at first. But it's really neat to look back at the patterns that I can now see. For example, in certain chapters Christ is only mentioned a couple times, compared to some verses where He is mentioned 5 or 6 times. 

Most of all, it's wonderful to flip through the book and see how many red annotations there are--that it truly is another testament of Christ. 

There's power in the Book of Mormon and I'm grateful that I have this special time to be able to share it with others. 
The Prophet Joseph Smith said:  The Book of Mormon is "the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461)
I know Joseph Smith's promise is true: it has helped me come closer to God than any other book I've ever read before. 

Hope everyone has an awesome week! 

Love you all! 

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Bing is basically a version of ice cream here. It's delicious because it's not too sweet and there's lots of fresh fruit on top. It's sort of like "milk flavored" shaved ice. So yummy! As it gets hotter and hotter, it sometimes turns into our lunch :)

P.S. Mama: I got your package yesterday!!! Thank you so much! So exciting to open up each part that was put together so thoughtfully and lovingly by you :) My mama sure loves me! I'm wearing the hot pink shirt today and it's perfect for this hot weather - light and loose. I've been trying to find ones just like it! And thanks for the special microfiber washcloths. I tried one out last night! I love the journal! So cute!! And I love the silver charm bracelet and all the meaningful memories associated with it :) Basically I loved all of it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!