Sunday, June 28, 2015

Is Sunday too soon? What if we hadn't talked to her? emulating Christ, humility

June visit to attend the Taipei, Taiwan Temple

June 29, 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan

Awesome week! The work is moving along again. Found 3 new investigators this week.  I'll tell you about one of them.

Our Dakeng District with our mission President and Sister Blickenstaff
Is Sunday too soon?
Amber- really nice girl in her 20s or 30s. Her boss is a member of the church and has influenced her life a lot. She has been really touched by his example. 

There was a period of time where she was stressed out with work and wasn't very happy. He shared little bits about our church that really helped her. 

She's super prepared and anxious to keep meeting! She brought up baptism herself. When we were scheduling our second visit with her, she asked "Is Sunday too soon?" (Only 3 days later) This never happens! 

Everyone usually comes up with lots of excuses and tells us how busy they are and we really have to work with them to find a time.  But she basically invited herself to church :) 

What if we hadn't talked to her?
Another highlight was exchanges. On Tuesday I went to Fengyuan to work with the Sister Training Leader there in her area. Exchanges are always fun. There's something about them that gives you an extra ounce of motivation and energy. As a result, there's always a fun story or miracle that comes from those short 24 hours together. 

For us, we were able to find a new investigator and quickly sit down with her and teach her how to pray. She was a really sweet 14-year-old girl.  She was super interested to keep meeting with missionaries and learn more. 

I loved how bold Sister Thao was with her. Even though we were in a public place, she wasn't worried at all about what people would think or if it would be awkward. It's from that boldness and dedication that the miracles come, from tiny little decisions like that. What if we hadn't talked to her? 

Emulating Christ's Attributes
In my personal study lately, I've been reading the New Testament, a few chapters everyday, really trying to understand Christ's nature and how I can try to emulate His attributes. 

Mosiah 4:13 says 
"For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" 
I'm grateful that I have this opportunity to dedicate all of my time to serving the Master. I know that only through this way can we understand Christ's nature and become more like Him. 

One attribute that particularly struck me this week was humility, while I was reading the Atonement section in Matthew 27. Over and over again, people accused Christ or denied who He was, asking "Art thou the King of the Jews?" or "If thou be the Son of God..." It would be very easy for Him to unkindly yell back or to defend Himself. But instead "he answered nothing." He didn't feel the need to prove Himself. 

He knew who He was and His purpose, and was comfortable with that. He was humble even though those around Him did not understand who He really was. 

Sometimes as a missionary, especially with a huge language barrier, I don't feel like people truly understand me or my full personality because the thoughts and feelings that I wish I could express are often very limited by vocabulary. 

I appreciate Christ's example that we need to always be humble no matter what the circumstances--because He went through the hardest circumstances of all--and to always be kind regardless of how others treat us. 

My favorite missionaries
I've found that my favorite missionaries to work with are those that are humble and don't have that feeling that they need to prove themselves to me as their companion, or to those around them, but are meek and always simply try their best, open to feedback.

Have a happy week!

Sister Hancock

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day, why God gave us families, knee pads, watermelon milk, power tracting

Ice skating with some new converts

I'm grateful for my father
June 22, 2015
Da Keng, Taiwan,

Hi loved ones!

Happy, happy Father's Day!

Sadly we didn't celebrate here because they celebrate in August in Taiwan, but I was still able to celebrate in my heart! 

I love my family
I've noticed that the longer I'm out on my mission, the more I love my family. It sounds a little ironic, because I haven't seen my family for a while now and I'm not able to talk to them very frequently. But it's mostly my attitude that has changed. Little tiny things that might have used to bug me seem so trivial now that I'm understanding how important families really are; they truly are the center of God's plan.

Why God gave us families
Preach My Gospel says it best: 
"Because families are ordained of God, they are the most important social unit in time and in eternity. God has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life. The home is the best place to teach, learn, and apply principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ." 
I know that's true. God gave us families so we can be happy and so we can learn correct principles in a safe atmosphere. I know they're the most important social unit and that we can be with our loved ones even after death. 

On this Father's Day, I'm grateful for my father who taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ: I've learned from him unconditional love, gratitude, hard work, patience, obedience, and sacrifice. 

I'm so happy to be a missionary and to try everyday to share these concepts with families in Taiwan!

Highlights from the week:
Covered in knee pads and elbow pads!

Knee pads
Last p-day was really fun! Went iceskating with a few of our recent converts!

So hilarious they take it very seriously here and cover you in knee pads and elbow pads!

"Normal" American burgers
Afterwards we went and got burgers. Maybe I've been in Taiwan for too long, but they tasted pretty "normal" American to me!

Watermelon milk
I don't know why I've waited so long, but this week I finally tried watermelon milk and it was delicious! So we got more! And we'll definitely be having lots this week too!

Power tracting
Decided to go tracting with the sisters who we live with. So we blocked out 3 hours of the day and went the 4 of us together. It was a lot of tracting! But it was fun being able to decide on a street together and divide up and go until we covered the whole street. 
Sister Liu and I like to wrestle!

We met some cool people! And also got rejected a lot! And got really sweaty!

This week is looking really good.

It's the busiest things have been here in Da Keng in a while. After calling tons of people, we got 5 people to set up appointments with us for this week. And we have some other people who said they would also schedule to meet with us. So I'm really excited that hopefully they'll become new investigators and we'll be able to start teaching! 

Happy Fathers Day! LOVE YOU ALL!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Huang Jiemei from Qishan

Monday, June 15, 2015

City life, temple, cheese, weaknesses, cooking, change, odd sensation

Hello from Sister Liu and me!
Monday, 15 June 2015
First week in Dakeng, Taiwan

City Life
It was a good first week! I'm adjusted to the area and learning my way around now. I'm enjoying the city life-- tons of motorcycles everywhere and busy streets! The four man is a blast. I never want to leave this area! 

The work however, is slow, but it goes on. For the first time on my mission, we literally have 0 investigators, which means our entire day is spent trying to find people to teach. This essentially means lots of tracting and calling whoever we can - formers from the Area Book, and lots and lots of contact cards trying to set up with people who missionaries met in the past. 


Temple in Taipei
Got to go to the temple! It had been a while since I was there, and I love the new things I'm able to learn each time I go. It was special seeing how everything was the exact same, even though I was in a completely different place in the world, that the church really is the same everywhere

A member took us and a few sets of missionaries to an all-you-can-eat pizza place! It's always fun to have pizza in Taiwan because cheese is so rare. It's definitely different, but still good!

You sit at a table and waiters walk around with all sorts of different pizzas and if you want a piece, you just raise your hand and they give you one. It was also all you can eat ice cream too which was delicious!

My favorite pizza was one of their sweet ones. I had never had anything like it before: crust, cheese, apple slices, and cinnamon. It sounds odd but it was super yummy! And it was a really fun night.

This week I studied a lot about weaknesses. One of my favorite verses has always been Ether 12:27, and I enjoyed trying to better understand it this week. Often I think we put sin and weakness in the same category, things that are both bad and distance us from God and things that we need to overcome. 

I enjoyed studying an article from the Liahona talking about the differences between sin and weakness. Satan encourages us to sin to distance us from God, while God actually gives us our weakness so that we can turn to Him and come closer to Him. Satan tries to use our weaknesses to entice us to sin, while Heavenly Father will use our weaknesses to teach us, humble us, and strengthen us. 

Weakness itself does not make us unclean. Our purpose here on earth is not merely to be innocent and stay clean and return to Heavenly Father's presence, though cleanliness is certainly necessary to dwell in His presence. If this was our purpose, we would all "be better off lying snugly in our cribs for the rest of our lives."

But we come to earth to gain experience, to be able to learn good from evil, to grow in wisdom and skill, and to acquire godly characteristics-- "progress we cannot make from the safe confines of a bassinet."

"We cannot grow spiritually unless we reject sin, but we also do not grow spiritually unless we accept our state of human weakness, respond to it with humility and faith, and learn through our weakness to trust in God." 

In response to Moroni's worry about his weakness of writing comes the famous verse (Ether 12:27) in which Heavenly Father does not tell Moroni to repent, but He offers him grace. Grace is the appropriate remedy for our weaknesses, not forgiveness. 

Often our strengths and weaknesses are related too, and sometimes the real problem is finding balance. For example, I tend to be observant which I view as a strength. But sometimes when taken to the extremes, my personality could become too perfectionistic.

We can also learn a lot from Ether 12:28:8
"Because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong"
God does not offer to necessarily remove the weakness, but to change us so that we can overcome it. Oftentimes this happens through helping us learn to work around it, or gaining a sense of humor or different perspective, so that we can improve gradually overtime. 

I'm grateful for the weaknesses that each of us has so that we can remember to turn to God and learn humility. I'm grateful for the weaknesses that I have so I can also learn to be patient with others and their individual challenges. 

I know that the promise in Ether is true that as we work with God to tackle our weaknesses that we truly can change and become more like Him.

This week I've actually been eating my own cooking! .... Taiwanese food is practically all carbs - white rice and noodles. So while I feel full at first, after biking, I quickly lose energy. So because of this, for one, I'm officially not a vegetarian anymore (but will probably go veggie again once I return home) and two, I really started praying that I'd be able to find healthy alternatives.... 

I believe that Heavenly Father answers prayers and indeed blessed me with an opportunity for me to take control of my health.

In my new area, there are real grocery stores, similar to how things are in America, and more options, so I can buy healthier things. In addition, the sisters I'm living with all cook their own meals everyday, so we no longer eat outside during the day. I've really enjoyed this because I can eat enough vegetables and cut out a lot of oil! 

Our senses can actually change. I've found this to be a really interesting fact during my time in Taiwan. I remember when I first arrived how humid it felt - I thought it was miserable. I remember how sticky I felt that first day when the Blickenstaffs timed our mile, and this was in Taizhong, at 6 in the morning, the coolest possible circumstances. We were all completely covered in sweat. 

Fast forward a couple months to Qishan, the hottest area of our mission, running at 6 in the morning when it was a hotter part of the year and some days I would come home hardly sweating. 

And I remember how stuffy our apartment felt when I first arrived, but only a few weeks later, I found myself putting a sweatshirt on to do morning studies. I'm not sure the science behind it, but it seems as if my pores have really changed! ...

Odd Sensation
I also remember the overwhelming sounds of an unfamiliar language, hearing people make sounds I wasn't used to that I thought sounded funny. 

But yesterday I found myself during Sacrament Meeting listening to a couple from Singapore who are about to go home from serving in the Taipei temple. They were giving talks in English and a Taiwanese person translated.  I understood 100% of each part. It was an odd sensation! 

I would hear the sentence in English, then in Chinese. But sometimes I would forget which one is which because I could understand both of them. I would have to try to remember which one was supposed to be the "more comfortable" language, because both of them made sense to me! 

Senses are really extraordinary, and it's even more fascinating to me how things that once seemed hard or unfamiliar, can become comfortable as we keep working on them little by little :)

All my love,
Sister Hancock

Monday, June 8, 2015

Got my wish, left Qishan with a bang, English is no longer an option, leave this area better, so excited

Super excited to be serving in Taizhong!
Qishan English students at our last party
June 8, 2015

Hello loved ones,

Got my wish
Turned out I got my wish: I moved up north! 

I'm super excited to be serving in Taizhong [sometimes spelled Taichung]. It's a really fun change. 

Miss Qishan
It means that I'll no longer get to bike past the scenic rice fields and mountains of Qishan. 

I will miss so many people in Qishan.  We had our last English party.  Made delicious smoothies and had a 3-legged race.  I will miss my English students!!!

Goodbye Sister Price!

Left Qishan with a bang
True to our plan, Sister Price and I indeed had a bing-filled week.  I will miss Sister Price! Ate tons and left Qishan with a bang! 

And do you remember Lin Yu Jun?  She was the one who introduced us to Lin and Xie Jiemei, our cafe investigators.  Well, Lin Yu Jun chose to become a new investigator. Really exciting!

Lin Yu Jin, our newest investigator in Qishan
City Life
Now that I'm in Taizhong, I get to enjoy city life.  I already love it!

It's definitely not the countryside -- I practically feel like I'm in America again! It really messed with my mind when I first arrived. It's really different here! 

Next to the mission office
The area is no longer gigantic, and I'm right next to the mission office! So I'll get to see President & Sister Blickenstaff frequently and will get to work with lots of missionaries. 

We were in a rural area in  Qishan.  We had a little district [of 4 total missionaries].  Traveling to any meetings would require a full day.  

But here I'll get to know lots of missionaries and have a bigger district.

I'm now living in a 4-man. It was ridiculously messy when I walked in. Like scary messy! But it will be super cool to have 4 sisters all in one apartment! 

English is no longer an option
More exciting news, my companion is a Taiwan native! So English is no longer an option :) 

I'm going to have her work me over hard. I'm excited for the ways it'll help my Chinese progress even faster. 

Sister Liu--my new companion!
Her name is Sister Liu and she's from Taipei and she is tiny! Tiny. I thought I was short. But she's super cute! 

Leave this area better
We were working with a lot of investigators in Qishan.  Sister Liu told me there are literally 0 here. Which means lots of finding time. 

I'm excited for the challenge. I'm ready to get to work and try to leave this area better than I found it!

I'm excited for this week!  I'll give you more details about my new area and companion next P-day.  

Love you!
Sister Hancock

P.S. I get to go to the temple this week.  Wooo hooo!  So excited.

Being a missionary is TOO fun.