Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mid-autumn Festival, smells like meat, 40 days, if, Taipei temple

Road trip to Taipei
September 28, 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan


Mid-Autumn Festival
Zhongqiujie kuaile! (literally middle fall happy) Happy Mid-Autumn festival! 

Everyone has been celebrating this weekend. Their celebrations have to do with the lunar calendar and that there are a bunch of myths about it and to celebrate, everybody BBQs. Why they BBQ nobody was able to give me a straight answer, but I guess that's their way of celebrating! 

Smells like meat
But the grills are very different from American grills. They're small boxes basically that they put coals in and then a rack on top, so it's done sitting down, and the stuff cooks very slowly, so everyone sits around and talks while waiting for the food. It's really fun to see, because here a lot of peoples' stores also serve as their house. So biking down the street, you can see every single family BBQing outside their house or shop.  All of Taiwan smells like meat! Mmm... 

Last night our Relief Society President invited us over to BBQ with them and it was really fun! Poor Sister Howard is still pretty new, so the Chinese is still a work in progress. Wu JieMei said in Chinese what all the food was, but obviously Sister Howard didn't know what she was saying. So after grabbing a skewer on the table and sticking it into her mouth, one of the elders translated for her: "that's chicken butt." But she's a champ so she just smiled and kept chewing! I even tried some chicken stomach and it was pretty good! 

We have interviews on Wednesday and exchanges again on Friday so I have that to look forward to this week! 

40 days
This week during personal study, I read about the time after Jesus was baptized, which He spent in the wilderness fasting for 40 days. Though this is a short section in the New Testament and one that is well known, I think there's a lot we can learn when analyzing these verses. 

Right before, after Jesus was baptized, He hears Heavenly Father's voice declaring that He is "His Begotten Son." Growing up, hearing that Jesus was perfect, I interpreted this to mean that He always knew who He was and that He fully understood His role as our Savior, but this actually isn't true. He grew up as any of us do, gaining knowledge gradually. James E. Talmage says, "Christ's realization that He was the chosen and foreordained Messiah came to Him gradually." 

So after fasting for 40 days, Satan tempts Jesus saying "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Satan is very tricky! Just in this one-sentence temptation are lots of mini sub-temptations. It would obviously be tempting to eat and assuage physical hunger. It was also a temptation to be selfish and think of Himself for once; it would also be tempting to test His own power. 

But the biggest temptation in Satan's statement lies in the word "IF". Satan was forcing Jesus to doubt His divinity and to try and prove Himself. "To have yielded would have been to manifest positive doubt of the Father's acknowledgement" because Heavenly Father had just declared Christ as His Beloved Son. 

This is only temptation #1 and I will continue next week with the next temptation! But just hoped I would be able to help us all think a little more deeply about Christ's nature and how truly perfect He was.

Have a wonderful week! 

Love, Sister Hancock

At the temple in Taipei together

Monday, September 21, 2015

new missionaries, second time, sacrifice, broken heart, offer ourselves, stinky tofu

Monday, September 21, 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan


It was a quick week! 

New missionaries
We had exchanges on Monday and it was fun serving with Sister Oakeson. She is still in training so I got to go through "12 weeks" in the morning for study time and train her which was really fun because I hadn't looked at "12 weeks" for a long time. I'm always so impressed by new missionaries. They have so much faith and don't get discouraged by anything. They don't really understand a ton of Chinese still and especially not the subtleties. So a lot of times they don't realize that someone is rejecting us and they're really happy. So I just go with it and don't really tell them. But her Chinese was really good so I didn't feel like she was still in training at all.

Exchanges with Sister Oakeson!
Second time
On Wednesday, we went to the temple! It was my second time going to the Taipei temple and it was a great experience :) It's a relief to see how everything is the same as it was when I went to the temple in Oakland, California. It's a relief because we can let our guards down for a bit and don't have to worry about what to do or the Chinese, and because we can see the Church truly is the same no matter where you are in the world! 

Taipei Temple:  House of the Lord
In preparation for the temple, I loved studying about sacrifice. The temple is full of altars to represent our sacrifice and willingness to follow and serve God to the best of our abilities. So I wanted to focus on understanding this part better. We read about animal sacrifice in the scriptures, an ancient symbol of God sacrificing His Son, a sign of the Atonement which Jesus Christ would come to Earth to perform. After Christ performs the Atonement, we learn in the Book of Mormon that we no longer need to perform animal sacrifices, that we instead can offer up a "broken heart and a contrite spirit." This symbolizes the Savior's sacrifice of Himself. 

Made brownies to celebrate our Emily's baptism!
She's officially not a recent convert anymore, she turned 1!

Broken Heart
I've enjoyed studying Jesus the Christ on my mission because it's the most "gaoji" book we're allowed to read as missionaries. There are 4 books that we're allowed to study along with the scriptures and church magazines and most are pretty simple because what we teach everyday as missionaries is simple doctrine, so we focus on the basics. 

But I love reading Jesus the Christ because it forces you to read closely, analyze, think deeply and it keeps my English skills sharp. In Jesus the Christ, the author argues that Jesus literally died of a broken heart. Growing up, I had learned in Sunday School or somewhere about how cruel the crucifixion process was and that it was designed to keep you alive for a few days, as a form of torture so that you wouldn't die from mortal wounds, but from internal causes as a result of you trying to keep your body hanging up by exerting pressure on your feet, etc. Basically I had never looked into it that deeply but only understood that when people were crucified, they died because of internal causes. 

James E. Talmage goes into depth and provides evidence that Jesus Christ literally died of a broken heart for us: 
"The strong, loud utterance, immediately following which He bowed His head and 'gave up the ghost,' when considered in connection with other recorded details, points to a physical rupture of the heart as the direct cause of death."
Psalm 69:20-21 reads
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.  They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Offer ourselves
I love studying Christ's Atonement because the more and more I learn, the more I realize how completely perfect His sacrifice was for us. Our job, then, is to offer ourselves, our own broken hearts as a personal sacrifice. Elder Maxwell suggests 
"Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!" 
I'm grateful for the experience of a serving a mission to learn about Heavenly Father and Christ's sacrifice for me and what more I can do to honor those sacrifices. 

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Hancock

So proud of my companion for trying....

stinky tofu :)

The cooking lessons continue:  for Sunday lunch
Sister Howard learned how to make pasta with avocado sauce

Banana bread we made for Family Home Evening

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Facebook missionaries, Chinese flashcards, fun with Sister Howard, not rich toward God

14 September 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan


Facebook missionaries
It was a good week. We found out we're Facebook missionaries for this transfer which we're really excited about. 

Chinese flashcards
Trying to type in Chinese is a bit rough because I haven't studied characters yet, but we're figuring it out alright and it's really fun. Our mission has helped provide us with some materials to learn Chinese, mostly flashcards, and they're organized into 3 phases. 

Phase 1 I finished while I was in training and it's strictly church words so that you know how to teach people basic lessons. Right now I'm working on finishing up Phase 2 which is broken into a green, red, and blue box, so I'm about to start the last box and then I can move onto Phase 3! 

In phase 3, you learn how to read and write characters, still mostly words that you will find in scriptures so you can read with investigators at church and in lessons, but it also includes some other useful words too. I was a little worried when I arrived in Taiwan and heard about this system for learning Chinese because I lost about 3 months while serving in the states and waiting for my visa, so I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to get through. But it's turning out just fine and I'm excited I'll still be able to learn some characters before going home!

Sister Howard and me in Taichung
Fun with Sister Howard
Sister Howard and I are having a lot of fun together. Turns out we're actually pretty similar! At least the most similar so far out of all my companions. 

Companion study is really fun because we always talk a ton about gospel principles and we could go for hours discussing what we learned during personal study! 

Lately I've been giving her cooking lessons because she's never really cooked at all her entire life, so we made banana pancakes together for Sunday breakfast yesterday :) 

She went to BYU Hawaii before her mission so we can bond over the beach. Her mom is from New Zealand, and my 2nd trainer in America (Sister Worthen) was from New Zealand, so it reminds me of fond memories from the Moscow days. 

Sister Worthen and me in Moscow, Idaho
It's fun being companions with Sister Howard because she's super open to trying new things. Her trainer had tons of allergies, so she couldn't really eat any Taiwanese food. So I get to introduce her to crazy stuff everyday and she's always up for it. I love it! 

We also have some fun companion traditions, like every week during weekly planning, we write down each others strengths on post its and give it to each other so it's fun to see them accumulate over the weeks. 

And for every 10 people who reject us (including us testifying and asking for their number or to set up with us and them saying no) we get to buy a yummy waffle treat. For every 5 people who say yes and are willing to meet with us again, we get to buy bing.

Not rich toward God
Continuing from last week's talk, I enjoyed learning about another part of the Savior's journey to Jerusalem. It is when He gives the parable of the rich fool:
“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
"Ultimately the man was condemned not for the wise practice of storing temporal provisions but for failing to prepare spiritually for the future. Being “not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21), the man was eventually deprived not only of the treasure he had temporarily accumulated on earth but also of “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (Luke 12:33). His choices in life left him impoverished in eternity."

In direct contrast to this man, Jesus was on His way to His death, yet He was doing so willingfully because He was willing to give everything that He had, including His own life and will to Heavenly Father. He declared, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). He had already been baptized by water. Here, He was referring to the Atonement He was about to perform, in which His entire body would be covered in sweat and blood, descending below all things, suffering for us out of love. 

I'm grateful for the Savior's Atonement. Through His life, we have a perfect example to learn from and we can know what sort of lives we should aim to live. 

So happy
I'm grateful for all of your support and I'm so happy to be a missionary in Taiwan! 

Love you!

Sister Hancock

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sister Howard, BBQ family, baby tradition, the point of missionaries, losing myself in this work more and more

With our recent convert, Wang Jiemei
September 7, 2015
Dakeng, Taiwan

Sister Howard
It was a good first week with my new companion! It's going to be a fun transfer. After I was companions with LiuJM [JieMei - "Sister"], I was convinced I never wanted another American companion again.  But obviously I knew I would have many more because the majority of our mission is American. But I must admit, after having a Taiwan companion and a Korean companion back-to-back, being able to speak in English is a relief. Luckily my Chinese was sufficient for basic conversation with them, but it's been amazing how fast Sister Howard and I have been able to get to know each other even in a short week, because conversation comes so effortlessly and we can truly say the things we're trying to express to each other. 

Me and my companion, Sister Howard

BBQ family
The highlight of our week was we found another family! We had been tracting and had finished tracting around a few streets so we were walking to our bikes to move to go somewhere else. But then we saw a bunch of people outside BBQing in their garage (it was raining) so we started talking to them. Turns out they were all co-workers. They invited us to sit down with them and immediately started feeding us tons of meat and seafood. They were all really welcoming and said we could come back another night, so we did. 

They invited us in and this time it was just the family and they have 3 super cute daughters. We taught them how to pray and they were really open to everything we taught them. They invited us to another BBQ and said we could come over whenever we wanted, so I'm excited to keep working with them! 

Taiwan baby tradition
Another funny moment was on Saturday. Our RC [recent convert], WangJM invited us to some activity with her, but it was something I had never heard of before. So I asked her what it was and she basically just told me it was a kid thing and to meet her at a bus stop and we'd go together. While we were waiting for the bus she explained to us that it was a Taiwan tradition that when the baby turns 1, they are given baskets with tons of different items inside and they are to choose 3 items, which then represent what will happen in their life, what their strengths might be or what sort of career they might have. Super Taiwanese.

I thought we might be going to someone's house, maybe one of her friends who might have also had a 1 year old daughter. But when we showed up to the building, it was a legit organization, and there were tons of parents who had all signed up and registered and paid in advance. There is a program prepared with singing and dancing all aimed towards the babies to get them prepared to pick their items. Then they dress all the babies in these tiger outfits complete with hats, bibs, and slippers. It was hilarious! We even got a special shout out over the microphone as they welcomed the "American friends." It was probably the first time I had felt so far away from America. #onlyintaiwan

I loved studying a talk this week from the June 2015 Liahona [church magazine]: "The Savior's Teachings on Discipleship". This talk discusses the Savior's last 4 months before His death, and his journey back to Jerusalem--the entire time of which He knew He was marching towards His death. 

While on the way to Jerusalem, He stopped at the home of Mary & Martha. Oftentimes we are critical of Martha because instead of spending time listening to the Savior, she was fussing over the house and what food to feed him. I love this quote that describes what we are really meant to learn from their story: "The Lord did not go into the kitchen and tell Martha to stop cooking and come listen. Apparently he was content to let her serve him however she cared to, until she judged another person's service... Martha' self-importance occasioned the Lord's rebuke, not her busyness with the meal". 

So many ways
As a missionary, there are so many ways to go about doing this work. There are 5 lessons that are set in place. But besides that, we are completely free to choose how to teach those 5 lessons, how fast we want to teach them, how in depth we want to be, how bold, etc. 

The point of missionaries
The point of missionaries is not simply to teach non-members our doctrine. If that was our purpose, we could give them a copy of Preach My Gospel, or have them read the 5 lessons online. We have missionaries so that we can develop a relationship with our investigators and get to know them so we can teach them according to their needs and them support them as they make changes in their lives. 

Heavenly Father needs every type of missionary
Heavenly Father needs every type of missionary: the more shy ones, the energetic ones, the funny ones, etc. because each one of our investigators is different and certain types of missionaries will be effective for them. 

I like this quote because it's a good reminder to us that we must never judge someone else's service. We are to do our best and trust that everyone else is trying their best too, and that's enough. Though our service might look different than someone else's, the Lord is proud of us and appreciates our efforts, no matter what they might look like. 

It's also so important that our service is genuine, that our intentions for serving are truly because we want to help those around us and not to make ourselves look good. 

Losing myself in this work more and more
I'm constantly working at these things and losing myself in this work more and more every day. I love the people of Taiwan and it is such a privilege to serve with them! 

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

P.S. We found the forbidden fruit! 
the forbidden fruit

the rain continues
funny translations