Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sister Eo, Vickie, diligence and hard work, small marginal gains, strengthened body, mind and spirit

It's awesome being with my new "junior" companion:  Sister Eo!
27 July 2015

Sister Eo 
It was a good first week to the new transfer! It's awesome being Sister Eo's companion because she's not afraid to talk to people and her Chinese is way good! We have a lot of fun contacting together.

Our "go-to" is to bike to a Family Mart or a Seven on Dong Shan Lu and to try and sit down with whoever we can find. Lots of people hang out in convenience stores like these because they have free A/C. So we strike up a conversation with them and ask if we can sit down with them for a few minutes.

We usually teach them something very simple about how to strengthen our families or about how to pray, and ask if we can keep meeting with them and keep sharing. Sometimes people don't want us to sit with them, or they leave, or they're not interested, but we had a lot of success this week!

Conversation comes really naturally to Sister Eo, and she has a talent of making people feel comfortable and laugh, so we found some really awesome new investigators this week!

She also loves to eat like me, so we had a lot of fun getting lots of bing!

Exciting news is that Vickie is getting baptized on Saturday! I love Vickie so much! She's a miracle! 

It's really true that "through small and simple means, great things are brought to pass."

Literally all I did was hand her a flyer one day and talk to her for a minute about our free English class, but through that, we found a really prepared investigator.

It's been so fun getting to know her and has really been a tender mercy to me. Because she lived in America for 2 years, her English is practically perfect, so I was able to teach her some of the lessons in English which was really special and helped me feel the power of them again.

The teaching process was only a week long which is pretty incredible! We taught her every single lesson this week, starting from the Restoration and Book of Mormon to the Plan of Salvation, all the commandments, etc. And she loves it all!

Vickie "aced" her baptism interview
She's so excited for a new start and for a happier life ahead and I know she'll get that through her baptism.

She had her baptismal interview last night and she's so cute she typed up all her answers into paragraphs beforehand, then wrote them onto little flashcards. And in her words, she "ACED IT!"

Diligence and hard work
Last Monday, I found out from my brother Sterling that he signed his first professional contract and is leaving this week to play soccer in Sweden! I was so excited when I found out, and so proud of him!

That news from him, and Pioneer Day prompted me to ponder diligence and hard work this week.

I enjoyed rereading President Uchtdorf's message in the Liahona for the month of July "All Is Well."  I hope you all have a chance to read it.

He talks about how hard the pioneers worked, and how focused and united they were on their goals. He says "Every day those purposes and goals were clear to them; they knew what they needed to do and that each day's progress mattered." After reading this sentence, the words "focus" and "discipline" popped into my head.

My brother is a great example to me of someone who works hard to the end to accomplish his goal and is incredibly disciplined in order to achieve the success that he wants. His diet, his workouts, research, etc. all lead to success.

Small marginal gains
As a missionary, I know I need to be disciplined and focused, and as I develop those skills, the more success I have. If I were to be disobedient or forget my purpose, I wouldn't be as happy to be here, and I wouldn't be as successful.

Small marginal gains
Something President Blickenstaff talked about at last Zone Conference was the concept of "small marginal gains." I love this idea.

He loves sports analogies and they're all really funny, but he told us about a bike team, the details of which I honestly do not remember at all. But the gist of it was this bike team wasn't very good and hadn't won for many years, but they had a new coach who implemented this new concept of small marginal gains, and through tiny changes such as the type of pillow they slept on, eventually over time, they became successful and even won a competition.

That translates to us as missionaries too, that through tiny decisions, such as talking to one more person, or trying to be a little more enthusiastic, or by biking a little faster and getting to contact at more places, success will come.

Strengthened body, mind, and spirit
President Uchtdorf also says:
"The pioneers learned that doing hard things deepened and strengthened body, mind, and spirit, magnified their understanding of their divine nature; and heightened their compassion for others." 
I love this! I've loved learning how to work hard on my mission. I think I was a little afraid of working hard before my mission because I didn't want to be disappointed in myself. I didn't want to spend hours and hours studying for a test and then have it not go well, because then I would feel dumb and feel like I wasted a lot of time.

"Doing hard things...."
But this week I was especially grateful for the pioneers' example and my brother's example that diligence brings blessings and that hard work always pays off. It will always influence results, and if nothing else, it will influence my mood and attitude because I can know that I tried my best and can expect Heavenly Father to them make up the rest.

I love working hard on my mission by working out hard every morning, biking, trying to make the most out of study time and learning Chinese... it has strengthened my body, mind, and spirit.

It's helped me realize what I'm capable of and it helps me be happy and motivated because I can catch more of a glimpse of my divine nature.

I know that we're all capable of great things and as we are diligent we can accomplish our goals and find joy and satisfaction in our work.

Love you all!
Sister Hancock

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crazy how fast, senior companion, fish eye, halfway mark, so happy, ab ripper X, back of the truck

Goodbye to my trainer, Sister Biancardi
20 July 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan

Crazy how fast
Bye Liu Jiemei!
Well, it's the end of another transfer. Crazy how fast that happens! 

Move calls were exciting as always. We all sat by the phone waiting for it to ring to find out if we were moving, if we were where we'd be going, and who our new companions would be. 

Found out that I'll be staying in Da Keng, but Sister Liu is moving. It's a bummer we could only be together for 6 weeks because we had so much fun. But I'm excited for all that lies ahead. 

Sister Liu: laughing and love
I loved being Sister Liu's companion because we were always laughing. I loved her example of humility and how open and willing she was to express her feelings and love. 

Every night after saying prayers as we'd be falling asleep, we'd say "I love you" to each other and "sweet dreams." This small habit she had really blessed our companionship! 

It was especially cute because she would say it with an accent in English, and she would try to mimic how our voice gets higher at the end of the sentence. I will miss her! 

Senior companion with Sister Eo
But I'm excited for my new companion, Sister Eo. She's from Korea and just finished training this week, which means I'm officially going Senior Companion! And I'll also be her "breaker", which is your first companion right out of training. We're both pretty young still, so it will be a fun adventure. And Sister Graham has a new companion too, so there will be 2 new sisters in our 4 man. Lots of change! All very exciting.

Fish eye
Today was also a big day, because lots of missionaries are going home. I think 22 to be exact - one of which is my trainer, another my breaker, and my current district leader. I will miss them all!
I'm grateful for all that I've learned from them and I'm so proud of them! I even ate a fish eye last night to celebrate! And I only gagged twice, so I'm counting that as a success!

Highlights of the week:

Halfway Mark
On Wednesday, July 15th, I officially hit my halfway mark. Hard to believe! In fact I wouldn't have even known, but President told me during interviews. It's hard to believe I've been out for 9 months because I've only been in Taiwan for 4.

So happy
I'm so happy for all my missionary experiences so far! I can honestly say every day has been a happy one and that I've already seen so many blessings. There really is no more important work than this one. It's such a privilege to be even a small part of it. 

Truly precious
Everyone's mission is different, but I know everyone's mission is for them--it's exactly what they need. I'm grateful for the gift of missions that Heavenly Father has given us to be able to help us immature 18 and 19-year-old kids change and figure out what's most important in life and to be able to bring others unto this Gospel while converting ourselves along the way! It's truly precious to see how the Gospel changes people, and I think the biggest miracle is watching how it has changed myself, and changed things I didn't even know needed changing.
Trio life
Ab ripper X
On Wednesday, we also had our English party. I had a really fun time planning it and it was a success! We had an exercise party which was really cool. We played some silly games first, then split into 3 rooms and people did ab ripper x, Jillian Michaels, and T-25. It was so fun watching everyone work out -- Grandpas included -- and then we had TONS of fruit together afterwards. Over 80 people came! 

Back of the truck
Back to the trio life once again. Heavenly Father must knows  how much I love being in trios, because it keeps happening to me! Because Sister Carlson's companion is training, she stayed with us for the weekend. We had a really fun time the 3 of us and had fun staying up and talking. 

After dinner last night, Su Baba was super nice and drove us home so we wouldn't have to bike. He loaded our bikes into his HUGE fruit truck and we sat in the back with them for a super bumpy ride. It was so fun being able to look out the back of the truck and watch Taiwan as we rode by with the after-rain breeze on our faces. 

Riding in the back of Su Baba's truck -- watching Taiwan as we rode by with the after-rain breeze on our faces
Hope everyone has a wonderful Pioneer Day! 

All my love,
Sister Hancock

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mochi and red bean, 83, salsa chicken, duan chuan, a perfect moment

Sister Liu and me - having fun :)
13 July 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan

Hi everyone!

Here are highlights from my week: 

Mango bing
Mochi & Red Bean
Went back one more time to that all you can eat pizza place we enjoyed so much last time! We went with the Beitun sisters we live with, and 2 investigators. Unlimited pizza and ice cream! So yummy. 

But the best of all are still their dessert pizzas: apple & cinnamon, banana & marshmallow, peaches & blueberries, and mochi & red bean.

Had another record for people at English class! 83! 

It keeps getting bigger every week. I love teaching English class. I always look forward to Wednesday nights. it's such a great way to find people who are interested.

Salsa Chicken
Salsa chicken. That's right, chicken. 

Salsa chicken
I've gradually been becoming less and less vegetarian, but I think last week was the biggest turning point so far. On p-day, I voluntarily bought my own chicken and this week I tried mimicking one of my mom's recipes that I had never made before. It turned out pretty yummy!

It felt weird cooking chicken because I didn't really know how at first. I still refuse to touch it so I had my companion help me cut it up, but it was exciting!

Duan Chuan
We had a duan chuan with us this entire week, which was so much fun! 

A duan chuan is someone who is in high school and thinking about going on a mission. So they serve with missionaries for a week to see what it's like.

So she lived with us and did everything with us this week as if she was a real, full-time missionary. We had a ton of fun together and had a lot of really hard laughs. 

She's really sweet and I admire her desire to serve. I'm going to miss her a lot!

Sister Liu and me with our duan chuan (short-term missionary)
A Perfect Moment
A few weeks ago, while English proselyting, I was standing on the street giving flyers to people who walked by, inviting them to come to our free English class. A lot of people say "no thanks" and a lot take the flyer and smile and leave. 

But I remember one girl in particular: I handed her a flyer and she took it and walked away. I watched her walk away, but after a minute she stopped. She looked down for a few seconds, then turned around and walked all the way back to me and said in perfect English, "I will be there." 

A few weeks went by and I never found her. I thought maybe I didn't recognize her because I only saw her for a few seconds. But it turns out she had been going to the advanced class, so I never had a chance to find her. But I didn't forget that moment and really wanted to find this girl!

My view
Finally she came to our FHE activity with the Beitun sisters and she recognized me immediately and told me everything that had happened. It was actually really fun because after she told me what had happened, apparently I said "yay!!". And that's when she knew it was for sure me because she recognized my "yay." 

We met with her for the first time this week and she is so awesome! It was also really special because I was able to teach her in English which was a relief. I could really get to know her and understand her needs.

She's so excited to be baptized and she's so happy to have found our church! 

While talking with her outside in her backyard, there was a nice breeze and we were swinging in a chair.

It just felt like a perfect moment. We were both so happy and felt like we needed to meet each other for a reason!

Love you all!
Sister Hancock

Sunday, July 5, 2015

30 seconds, wisdom, hot pot, shark, HTBT, way too fast

Hot pot!  

5 July 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan

Happy 4th of July! It was an awesome week! 

30 seconds
Started off by having Zone Training Meeting (ZTM), where our whole zone (about 25 missionaries) meets together and receives training from our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. It's always fun to be able to see other missionaries and the Zone Leaders are always funny and try super hard to keep the 2.5 hour meeting entertaining. 

Happy July 4th!
The focus of this ZTM was on contacting and how to have better contacts. We contact all the time and something unique to serving in Taiwan is they are really short, which makes it a fun challenge. Because we bike everywhere, often we have 30 seconds at a red light to try and talk to someone and pique their interest in meeting with us at a later time or coming to see the church. It's tough to use those 30 seconds really effectively, but it can be done and the ZLs did some hilarious demonstrations that helped me want to improve my contacting skills.

So much wisdom
We also had interviews this week which is always something to look forward to! Every mission president does these differently, but I remember my first interviews here I thought it was hilarious. There is a timer on President Blickenstaff's desk that beeps after your 10 minutes is up. No pressure. But the time really flies by! I feel like he has so much wisdom and I could just sit all day and soak it all up. 

iPads, hot pot, shark
We had a fun time celebrating the 4th of July! A really sweet member treated us and 6 other missionaries to lunch. We met at this really nice hot pot place and she paid and ordered everything for us and then left. She didn't even stay to eat with us! And apparently she does this for missionaries here about once every month. 

It was a really cool restaurant! They had iPads and you just tap on whatever veggies/drinks/meat you want, and they bring it right out. If you want more, you just tap on the screen and it'll keep coming out. And they had endless Haagen Daaz ice cream which was amazing! But the most exciting of all:  we tried shark and I finally tried blood which I've heard about for so long. It was pretty tasty! Then of course to celebrate, we bought some mango bing for dinner and called it a successful 4th of July. 
Mango bing to celebrate the 4th of July

love Taiwan and America
I really love America and I'm so grateful for the freedoms we enjoy. I am always most aware of them whenever I travel and am out of the country. So I'm grateful for this special experience that I can fall in love with Taiwan. And at at the same time, also increase my love for America each and every day.

Lately during companionship study, we've been practicing what we call How to Begin Teaching (HTBT). This is a section in Preach My Gospel, under chapter 10 - Teaching Skills. It's one of my favorite parts of Preach My Gospel. I'm grateful that President & Sister Mullen, my first mission president and his wife in America, really loved this section too and helped us master it. 

Preach My Gospel
The background of this section is also really interesting. When the apostles first decided to write Preach My Gospel, a guide for missionaries, each apostle was assigned a chapter. 

Elder Packer was assigned chapter 10 and one day after looking at a picture of Jesus before bed, he fell asleep, but during the middle of the night, he received the revelation that became the HTBT section. 

He wrote down the words exactly as he received them, but when submitted to the editors, they changed his words around, trying to make it sound more clear. He told them they couldn't do that, that it was like changing scripture, so this section appears exactly as he received it, the only section in PMG that is exactly how it was first written. 

This section addresses how important our first meeting is with investigators, and how important it is to establish expectations. We need to begin our first visit in a "warm, respectful, genuine manner." Then we go through a series of points explaining that our message cannot be learned all at once, that we are not perfect teachers, that they should feel free to ask questions, that we know this message will improve the quality of their lives no matter what their individual trials are, etc. 

I really love each one of these bullet points and it is the perfect way to begin the first meeting! I've learned that when we, as missionaries, really take the time to go through these points in the first meeting, the entire teaching process goes so much more smoothly. 

We understand their expectations and they understand ours. Many misunderstandings can be avoided. They understand our purpose as missionaries and that we're personal, and truly want to help them according to their needs, and that they can trust us. 

The promise in PMG is true, that "as you share spiritual experiences together in the first meeting, they will recognize you as servants of the Lord." 

Lately we've been meeting with a lot of people for the first time and it's so obvious which lessons went well and which could have gone better. And I really believe a lot of that difference is due to how well we did HTBT. I love meeting with investigators for the first time and it's so exciting when we can sit down with them and get to know them! 

Way too fast
I love being a missionary and the time is going by way, way, way too fast, but I'm savoring every moment! 

Love you all!

Sister Hancock