Monday, October 26, 2015

God always knows best, how much peace and true joy the gospel can bring

A group in the community we go help serve every Sunday
26 October 2015

It was a great week! Had a few cool experiences I thought I would share.

God always knows best
The Chen family:  We teach this family together with the elders. There's Chen DX and Zhang JM and he is divorced, but they're now dating and have been living together for years. The daughter from his previous marriage lives with them and she's a member. 

It was the elders turn to prepare the lesson, so we coordinatedMonday morning with them that we were going to share about repentance. We showed up to the house about 5 minutes early and get a text from the elders that we're teaching about conference instead and to be prepared to share what our favorite talk was. 

We were a bit confused, but rolled with it. It turned out to be a really great lesson and at the end, the Dad got a bit emotional and really opened up. He said the lesson was exactly what he needed to hear and that we answered the exact questions he had been praying about that week. It was really neat to see how in tune the elders were with the spirit and it turns out that one of the elders wanted to fight the prompting because they had a different lesson planned out really well on repentance and they thought it was going to go really well and didn't understand why they felt they needed to share about conference, but in the end it worked out perfectly :) 

God always knows best and I'm grateful for those elders' humility.

Ke Jiemei's baptism

How much peace and true joy the gospel can bring
Lu Jiemei: She got baptized last week so we had our first RC (recent convert) lesson with her and it went really well. We felt to share with her about baptisms for the dead and temples instead of typically starting from the 1st lesson. 

Her kids both live in America and her husband died a few years ago of cancer, so she's pretty lonely. She had arranged to visit her kids in Colorado for Chinese New Year and was really excited and the whole trip was planned, booked plane tickets and everything, but then they cancelled on her because they said some things came up and it wouldn't be very convenient for them. Of course she was disappointed and naturally wanted to help and said it would still be fine to visit and that she would love to try and help them, but essentially what they told her was that it would just make their lives more stressful if she came and that they didn't want her help, so she was devastated by that and worried that she was going to have to spend Chinese New Year alone. 

But she loved when we shared about eternal families and helped her understand how happy her husband was right now and proud of her for the decisions she was making and that she could have his work done for him. She started crying and held our hands and didn't let go until after the closing prayer. 

It's wonderful seeing how much peace and true joy the gospel can bring into peoples lives! 

Wish I had time to share more, but they'll have to come next week! 

All my love! 

Our apartment ready for fumigation
We go crazy over American cookies
Our recent convert made us guacamole--hadn't had that for months!
Costco on p-day!

Monday, October 19, 2015

In love with Tainan, Lu Jiemei and Ke Jiemei, exchanges, Monsters Inc., Sister Wawro, such great blessings

19 October 2015
Tainan, Taiwan

In Love with Tainan
I'm in love with Tainan! 

It's a great area. There's a lot happening here and the ward is great! They're really willing to help us with lessons and have been super welcoming. 

So far, I've been most impressed by our Ward Mission Leader. He is on top of it! Really organized and knows our investigators better than we do! (Sister Wawro just got here about 3 weeks ago and then me last week...)  He made an entire binder of our area including maps, a picture of every family in the ward and all of the stuff he gives us has Chinese, English, and Roman Pinyin. Having a ward that is willing and ready to help is such a huge blessing!

Lu Jiemei and Ke Jiemei
Lu Jiemei's baptism
And it's been fun to jump right in! Lu Jiemei got baptized on Friday and she was so happy! .... This Saturday, Ke Jiemei is scheduled to get baptized. Keep her in your prayers! She just recently stopped drinking coffee... but she's totally prepared so I know she can make it! 

I'm excited for this week we're going on exchanges on Tuesday & Friday which is going to be super fun! It's fun getting to see other areas and meet more missionaries. 

Monsters Inc.
It's especially exciting because our apartment is getting fumigated early tomorrow morning so we had to pack everything in our apartment into huge garbage bags and tape everything so it's all completely covered. It's actually pretty ridiculous--apparently there's some serious sickness going around from the mosquitos in Tainan, so the mayor is making every house get fumigated. Just picture Monster's Inc.:  full on suits, gas masks, huge sprayer things... I'm not exaggerating! It's pretty hilarious. But hopefully that will kill all of the cockroaches in our apartment once and for all :) 

Sister Wawro and I started off
our first day together with Coldstone's!
Sister Wawro
It's awesome serving with Sister Wawro. I feel like we're powerful, the two of us together. We're really focused on our goals and we enjoy working hard together. 

We contact effectively together and at the end of a contact, we can always look at each other and honestly say that we tried our best.  And that there was nothing more we could have done--that the person made their own decision and it wasn't our fault or because of any lack of effort on our part. 

It can be disappointing, testifying and testifying and promising that we can help these people become happier and just seeing them not understand, or not be willing, but it's okay. I know there's prepared people in this area, we just need to keep finding them. 

Such Great Blessings
Our queen-sized beds!
I came across this scripture this week during personal study, and it expresses my current feelings perfectly:
"My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?"  Alma 26:1
Our lives are full of rich blessings from Heavenly Father, a loving God who is eager to give us everything that He has. 

I feel so lucky to be serving in this area and I'm excited for the miracles that are coming our way! 

I'll keep you posted on them! 

Sister Hancock

Sunday, October 11, 2015

To Tainan, goodbye DaKeng, General Conference and a new apostle, the law of compensation

Sister Howard and me in our neighborhood in Dakeng

12 October 2015
Move Call Day

To Tainan
It's move call day! I'm being transferred to Tainan and my new companion is Sister Wawro. Sister Wawro is from Texas! (Still no companions from Utah!!!) I'm taking a 2 hour train ride, leaving right after I finish my email time in 10 minutes. We'll be senior training leaders together! 

Good bye to Sister Howard as my wonderful companion
Goodbye DaKeng
I've loved serving in DaKeng.  It's been such a fun time here.  But as always, the change is refreshing and I'm excited for the miracles that are up ahead!   What I'm going to miss most are the RCs [recent converts] in this area. Lots of them are young, around our age, and I grew close with them, so it's hard to say goodbye.  But we'll keep in touch :) 

I will miss Dakeng!
I was hoping I would either get moved to Jiayi or Tainan, so I got my wish! I'll let you know how it is next week! 

General Conference and a new apostle
The highlight of this week was watching General Conference. It's crazy how much you look forward to conference as a missionary. It was really fun! We watched it together as a zone and had tons of snacks.

Watching Conference with Sister Howard and our zone
It was special being able to watch it with Elder Stevenson, son of the newly called apostle. He was probably trying not to show it, but he understandably got a little emotional while watching his dad take his place in his new seat and then bear his testimony.

We accidentally started watching Conference in American Sign Language....
but then switched to English :)

It was also very humbling hearing Elder Stevenson tell the story of his dad getting called into the office, thinking it was his turn to give his suggestions of who he thought would be a great apostle, only to find out that it was him that was being called. It was sweet hearing Elder Stevenson's experience and that "None of them ever expected it". Growing up his whole life, what a blessing it has been to them that even though his dad devoted all his time to serving the church, they never had to worry about food or where to sleep. A way was always provided for their family. 

The Law of Compensation
That's simply what I wanted to share today: the law of compensation. 

We often hear about the law of consecration, especially as missionaries. But something I don't think we talk about enough is something I like to call the law of compensation. 

When we first meet someone, they often ask us the same questions:  "What country are you from? How do you know Chinese? How long will you be here for? You don't get paid? Why would you choose to take time off school and leave your homes to do this?" 

Matching Ahma pants
At the beginning of my mission, I didn't think too much of these questions. But now I've started to see us more from their perspective. We really do look pretty funny, 2 Americans girls biking in skirts. 

Matching green skirts?!
I'm starting to understand more now that I've been here for a long time and it's not all such a blur anymore (and maybe because I can actually understand the Chinese too!) that they really do think we're "hen ke lian" (pitiful, pathetic?) They really just feel bad for us! 

But they don't understand how happy we are and that we don't view this work as work. We're happy every day and we love what we do! 

I feel that I've received more out of my mission than anything I've tried to give for my recent converts or ward members. Everyone is constantly trying to serve us! 

It really is some beautiful kind of paradox, that when we are willing to lose ourselves in the service of God, and when we try to consecrate ourselves to Him and building His kingdom, He only returns to us more than we could even imagine. Even 100 fold, as it says in the scriptures. 

I'm grateful every day I have this special experience to be a missionary. Now that I'm hitting my 1 year mark this week, I am more aware of the sacrifices and all the things that I've left behind because it feels like a long time since I've been home.  But I'm even more aware of the countless blessings that Heavenly Father has blessed me with in return.

Love you guys!

Sister Hancock

Halloween Party for our English class

Sister Howard as the witch

One year mark, Sister Hancock times two, reunions, Christ's temptations (part 2), words from our prophets

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  Romans 15:10

4 October 2015
Reunited with a member from Qishan

It was another good week!

One year mark
We had interviews on Wednesday and talked to President about our own "vision, goals, and plans" for our mission and got his advice. On the 15th, I will hit my year mark since I started my mission. It's crazy to think about! 

Even though I miss America, I'm glad I still have 6 months left because I know there's still a lot that I need to change and work on and that I can become a lot better of a missionary with this time. 

Sister Hancock times two
On Friday, we went on exchanges. Exchanges are fun because you always appreciate everything so much more after they're over. There's so much to learn from other missionaries, but it is always fun to go back to your own companion and the way you are used to doing things. 

As always, we saw some cool miracles and met some awesome people together. 

Exchanges with Sister Hancock once again
It was fun because I got to go on this exchange with Sister Hancock. I had been on an exchange with her before, when we were both in training. 

Our Chinese has come a long way! And we have a special connection because we have the same relative :) It was also funny seeing peoples' reactions when they see our name tags are exactly the same.

Christ's Temptations (part 2)
As promised, here's a continuation from last's week message on Christ being tempted in the wilderness. 

So in the first temptation, Satan tempts Christ's power. In the 2nd temptation, Satan tempts Christ to tempt the Father. 

He says "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down. For it is written, He shall give His angels charge of thee..." 

Satan tries to convince Christ to jump off from the high place where they were so that God could protect Him and send His angels so that He wouldn't die. 

Tu Jiemei visiting from Gaoxiong :)
There also lie many sub-temptations here: to test God's power, to doubt God's ability to save, fame, testing mortal capabilities, etc. If Christ survived the fall, it would clearly be something that people talked about because they would know He was not a completely normal mortal, then giving people a sign and making it then easy for them to accept Him as their Savior. Or, if Christ was saved by a miraculous rescue, people would know of His divinity. 

God alone decides how and when He will use His powers, which Christ was fully aware so once again Satan was not successful. 

In the last temptation, in a vision, Christ sees all the kingdoms and wealth of the world. 

Sister Howard with something we made
 to share our message about families
Satan offers: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." 

Satan is tempting Christ to think about material possessions and to be selfish again. He also tempted the forgetful nature of mortals. Because Christ also had to pass through the veil of forgetfulness, it is likely that He didn't remember in His mortal state, that He actually created this world and everything on it, or else Satan's temptation offering Him the entire world would just be silly. 

At the heart of God's plan for his
children: forever families
But all of these temptations were legitimate, even though I used to think they didn't phase Christ at all. Even though He was perfect, He was capable of committing sin, though He never would. 

Hope everyone's able to keep studying this section in the New Testament-- there's a lot we can learn about Christ's nature!

Messages from our prophets
I'm so excited to be able to watch General Conference this weekend. (We wait a week because of the translations.) One of the new apostles--Elder Stevenson--is my Zone Leader's Dad. So that was cool! 

Hope it's a wonderful week! Love you!

Sister Hancock

We're getting really excited for our English
party on Wednesday.  It's Halloween-themed!