Sunday, January 31, 2016

Charity, Ruby, turning point, serving a future god, love her with everything, tiny glimpse

My newest design--planner on the go!
31 January 2016

It's officially February--the month of love!

So, I've been thinking about charity this week. When creating my own vision, goals and plans for this week, one thing listed under my vision is I want to love God with my heart, might, mind, and strength. 

We've been meeting with Ruby a lot lately.  We'll just stop by her house frequently throughout the week. So we've been trying to work really closely with her and help her progress. It's hard because she's pretty skeptical. She knows the gospel is good and understands that it helps other people. But she just doesn't want to accept it herself yet. She feels like she's a strong enough individual on her own and that she doesn't need to rely on anything else right now in her life. 

Took a member proselytizing this week with us and it was super fun!
We have pretty intense, spiritual lessons with her and it's pretty draining. Usually they talk about in Preach My Gospel about how to make our investigators trust us. But for me, I kind of focus on working on the opposite-- trusting my investigators. Things that are most personal to me or my experiences I'm not just willing to share with anyone.
She was really a good sport to bike around in the rain with us
Ruby is someone I've probably been the most open with my entire mission. So it hurts when I feel like I'm giving her everything I have and I'm offering her everything I can and she's just not taking it. 

But I'm grateful for this experience which helps me better understand charity. 

Turning point
And it's neat to recognize progress within myself; I realized this morning that maybe I'm at a turning point. 

This week it's taken me longer than usual to fall asleep, maybe 10 or 15 minutes some nights which I realize is probably nothing compared to some people, but it's a long time for me! 

I've been up usually thinking about Ruby and just replaying the lessons in my head and thinking about how she must have been feeling. I woke up this morning and remembered my dream about her, and remembered that she was also the last thing on my mind as I was falling asleep, and thought it was weird she's been on my mind so much. As I was thinking to myself "Why am I still thinking about this? It's weird I'm thinking about her so much, before I might have been thinking about something concerning myself more" I remembered it's February 1st-- the day registration for BYU opens and the day my brother is going to go online to help sign up for my classes for summer term which starts in June. 

It was only then that it occurred to me that I had totally forgot about it the entire week--that something that's going to determine my life when I get home soon hadn't even crossed my mind. It made me think of the famous scripture, Mosiah 2:17 that I had been pondering earlier this week in a way I had never thought of it before. Usually we interpret this scripture as it makes God happy when we serve people around us because they are His children, pretty simple. 

Serving a future god
But lately I had been thinking of it in a more literal sense, that because of the gospel we know that we can become like God one day, so when I try to serve someone around me, I am literally serving a future God. I think this is why it makes me so sad when Ruby doesn't fully accept the gospel, because I view her with this kind of perspective, but she doesn't see it at all. 

Love her with everything
Which then brings me back to my vision for my mission--to love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength, in other words with all of me, with everything that I have. And then with the same interpretation, if I look at those around me with their potential as becoming gods, I then also need to love them with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. 

I can honestly say that I've loved Ruby the best I could. I would be content telling the Savior if I ever had an interview with Him that I tried my hardest and that I really did love her with everything I had. 

Tiny glimpse
That's what charity means to me, and I was grateful for the teeny tiny glimpse I was given into how Christ must feel towards us and how terribly disappointing it must be for Him when we don't accept Him or when we don't love those around us, even after He has loved us so completely and perfectly.

I think charity is a lot of things, and it is all-encompassing. An excellent definition is found in Moroni 7, so I wrote down all the things that it lists and then compared it to all the "Christlike attributes" found in Preach My Gospel. Charity really is everything. We are nothing without it. It is our foundation if we want to make progress developing other attributes.

Love you!
Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Mosiah 2:17  "Behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom: that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

Mosiah 28:3 "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish...."

2 Nephi 26:30 "Wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love.  And except they should have charity they were nothing."

Matthew 22:37-40: "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang al the law and the prophets."

Our latest discovery--Thai food!  Green curry, papaya salad, satay chicken

Freezing cold, Anika's baptism, successfully failing

Sister Beus and me with Anika -- just before her baptism
January 25, 2015

Super fun week! 

-potluck for a ward activity
-records for lowest temperatures in Tainan
-Anika's baptism! 

So freezing cold!

Freezing Cold
I didn't believe it could get so cold on this "tropical island" I'm living on, but sure enough winter has finally come! 

The Taiwanese are really not accustomed to cold, so of course everybody is freaking out, giving us bags of scarves to take home and recipes for how to make ginger tea. As we were emailing just now, all within 5 minutes, 3 different ward members called to make sure we had enough blankets in our house. 

Called and asked Sun Mama if we could visit her last night
and she said,  "Sure, but it's so cold that I'm not getting of bed."
So we just joined her!

Anika's baptism
But Anika was a trooper and got baptized on apparently what was the coldest day of the year! She was super cute and was dressed in her baptismal suit and wearing boots and all wrapped up in a scarf.

Anika dressed for her baptism
on the coldest day of the year
As missionaries, we try to plan carefully so that the baptismal service can go smoothly and can be a spiritual highlight for the new member and all those who attend, but they usually never go as smoothly as we hope... As was with Anika's baptism. 

I tried to account for everything that could possibly go wrong, but this was one thing I didn't anticipate. The elders' recent convert blessed the sacrament for the first time yesterday and it was also his first time baptizing someone. So he was very nervous. He memorized the prayer and where to hold his hand, but somehow it wasn't communicated clearly to him that after he finished reciting the prayer that he was then supposed to actually help, well, baptize her. 

Newly baptized Anika:  radiant!

It was already a rough start for poor Anika because she took her glasses off to be baptized so she had already fallen into the font when trying to step in and was pretty embarrassed by yelling her natural reaction when stepping into the water "wow it's so warm! I'll just stay in here and never get out!". Then to top all of that with everyone already laughing at her, she was so obedient and did exactly what we told her to and bent her knees and leaned back after he said "amen."

But he didn't help immerse her into the water at all, he just stood there! So we all stood there and painfully watched Anika in slow motion practically try to do a backbend into the water and with no success, just falling and bobbing around like a little ball in the font. But members started telling him what to do, all of this going on while a sister from the Relief Society started reading off a number from her phone, trying to give me a referral... I answered as politely as I could "Sorry, I'm a little busy right now" and the second time was a success! It was quite the baptism. Despite that things didn't go as planned, Anika's baptism signified her covenant with God and she was radiant.

Successfully Failing
I enjoyed studying another BYU Devotional this week by President Worthen about failure, "Successfully Failing: Pursuing Our Quest for Perfection". He talks about how we focus too much on the word "perfection" but not enough on the word "quest". 

We often hear the scripture in Abraham 3:24-25 about how our time on earth is a time to prove ourselves to God that we'll do all things that He commands us. Usually we think of the word "prove" meaning to demonstrate something that already exists, but it also has another meaning: to find out, learn, or know by experience. That changes the meaning of that scripture a lot for me; this life wasn't designed for us to demonstrate to God how obedient we already were before we came to earth. 

So proud of Sister Beus contacting people
President Worthen says "God formed this earth so we could prove ourselves in the other sense of the word -- so we could find out, learn, or know by experience; truths that we did not already know and that we could not learn in any other way." We could not have remained in our premortal condition, memorized all the attributes of godhood and then take a written exam to become like our Heavenly parents. 

Leaving little messages to thank our members :)
We come to this earth so we can learn how to incorporate these attributes into our character. He then cites some studies from the Harvard Business Review Failure Issue in 2011 which I found really interesting about how not all failures are created equal. In her "Strategies for Learning from Failure", HBS Professor Amy Edmundson discusses that there are essentially 3 types of failure:

- lack of precision in routine but important matters
-inevitable results of complexity in processes
-researchers try to push frontiers of knowledge

Some of these are preventable, some of these are out of our control but can be managed, and the last type of failure is good because it can accelerate our learning process. 

It's interesting to apply this to my life and to try to make similar distinctions in my daily efforts. Things that we should do practically perfectly and eliminate all failings in are daily prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. If we are doing this, then when the other 2 types of failure come, we'll be able to deal effectively with them. 

I learned a lot from his speech and have been trying to figure out things that are just my fault and that I can do a better job of preventing, or staying patient when realizing things are out of my control.

All my love!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Yummy leftovers given to us by members

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Anika and Ruby, power and range, life experiments and experiences, fruit drink shops

Exchanges!  So happy I could spend a day with Sister Shang and ask her ALL of my Chinese questions!

18 January 2016


This week went by really fast!

Anika and Ruby
Most exciting: our investigator Anika got back from Japan, so we finally got to meet with her. We originally set a baptismal date for the 23rd with her, but since she was in Japan for 2 weeks, we still  hadn't gone through lessons 2-5 with her. So we were going to talk to her about pushing her date back. 

But she surprisingly wanted to keep her original date and the member at her lesson really encouraged her too. So we taught her the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all of the commandments--all in 2 lessons! I was really surprised. They were the ones pushing it with me :) 

Anika passed her baptismal interview.
She's going to be baptized Saturday.  So happy for her :)
But she's totally prepared and it was exciting going through the lessons with her. She passed her interview on Saturday and will be baptized this week! We're so happy for her! 

Keep praying for Ruby.  She's progressing really quickly and learning a lot.
When I mentioned broccoli was my favorite vegetable,
the next day she brought me a fork and bowl of broccoli.  She's so sweet! 

Power and Range, Life Experiments and Experiences
Continuing from last week's article about experiments and experience.  BYU chemistry professor Jennifer Nelson points out that power--in the scientific context--gives us confidence in the experiment's results.  Statistical power comes from a sufficient number of trials. Range means changing the variables and conditions and increases probability of accurate results. This is exactly what the Plan of Salvation provides for us! Heavenly Father's plan provides power and range, Satan's plan had neither power nor range because he wanted to force us to make every right decision and deprive us of agency. 

I'm grateful for the gospel perspective which allows me to see trials not as mere hardship, but as a way to accumulate knowledge. 

I know that the "good news" of the gospel is true, that nothing is "fixed" but that we can always change and grow through the Atonement. President Hunter said "If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong". 

I know that this time on earth is a time for discovery, exploration, and learning. I know that if we let them, our experiences can have us become more like Christ and learn how to rely on Him. 

Our life experiments or experiences can serve as tools to help us learn truth and make changes. I'm grateful for Christ Himself who showed us the importance of experience. It wasn't enough for Him to simply learn about the Plan of Salvation and to know all things theoretically. He had to come to earth and experience life just as us, but because He was willing to do that, He is in a position to understand us in a way that nobody else can. I'm grateful for this short time that we have to learn and turn theory into reality! I've learned so much on my mission :)

All my love!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Teaching my baby [new mission companion] how to be REAL Taiwanese
Spoiled--enjoying our queen beds :)

Starting to get sentimental...I'm going to miss all the drink shops in Taiwan
and how you can find about 4 of these on every street,
pull up on your bike and order a quick fruit drink!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Biking at night, awesome to be Sister Beus' trainer, cozy train ride, experior, Wang Nai Nai, trial runs to discover truth

11 January 2016

Wonderful week! 

With the whole get up on for biking at night ;)
Awesome to be Sister Beus' trainer
Hard to believe I've only been with Sister Beus for less than 2 weeks. She's learning really quickly and her Chinese is improving so fast! It's awesome to be her trainer because she's really flexible and wants to learn a lot, so she's open to participating and being involved in every aspect of the work. 

Sister Beus--it's awesome to be her trainer!

This week I read a BYU Devotional that I really enjoyed. In fact I spent a couple hours just re-reading and thinking about the things the author talks about (probably because it was a little bit scientific and I haven't been in school for a long time!) 

Professor Jennifer Nelson, the author, is a chemist. So she talks about how her work in the lab has affected her perspective on the gospel, and it helped me to understand the Plan of Salvation through a new lens, and to just see things very logically!

Cozy train ride back from Taizhong

She talks about the words "experiment" and "experience" and how they're from the same Latin root, from the word "experior", which means to gain knowledge through repeated trials. That really is our purpose of life: to gain knowledge in order to change so we can become better -- even to become like Christ. 

Our cute recent convert, Wang Nai Nai
Trial runs to discover truth
Most people think of the word trial as something painful, and as different experiences we go through that we don't enjoy. But to her trial means an experiment repeated in order to learn something valuable. And that's really how we should view the word! 

She says "every experience in life can become another trial run, giving us power to discover truth about our lives and gain insight into how we can change to become more like the Savior." 

Unfortunately, I'm out of time right now but I'll share more about the speech next week! It's a good one :) 

Love you!!!

Sister Hancock

Christmas party with our English students

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Babies, New Year goals and vision, turn lives over to God, promises fulfilled, rare blessing

White Christmas - baptism of Sister Li in the Nanzi Ward [see last 2 letters for details]
January 4, 2016


Exciting week! We picked up the babies [brand new missionaries we are training] on Thursday and went right to work. I'm training Sister Beus and I can already tell she's a hard worker, she's focused on her purpose, and willing to jump right in. 
Sister Beus
We'll have a lot to learn from each other during these 2 transfers! 

Lunch together - trainers and trainees :)
New Year goals and vision
Happy New Year!

I enjoyed thinking about goals and accountability at the start of this new year. I also enjoyed readjusting my mission vision, goals, and plans for the remaining 3 months that I have. It was neat to see the vision, goals and plans I had made a few transfers ago. Surprisingly, things that I wanted to work on or become back then I have achieved or are part of me. So I was able to sort of "check those off" and move on to other things I want to work on. So it was comforting to me to see how much I have changed and improved even if I might not realize it at first. 

My vision for myself in about a sentence is: "To love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength." Or even more simply, the vision for my mission in a word is: consecration. 

I came across this quote before I started my mission and came across it yesterday again during personal study: 

Turn lives over to God
"Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will:

-deepen their joys
-expand their vision
-quicken their minds
-strengthen their muscles
-lift their spirits
-multiply their blessings
-increase their opportunities
-comfort their souls
-raise up friends
-pour out peace."

by President Ezra Taft Benson, prophet and president of the church (December 1988)

Promises fulfilled
I've seen each one of these promises be fulfilled during my mission in very specific ways, which I don't have the time to expand on right now, but I know this concept is true. 

When we lose ourselves in service, or when we are willing to sacrifice and hand our lives over to God, as a result we are happiest and find a sense of satisfaction that I haven't been able to find any other way. 

Rare blessing
Being on a mission is such a rare blessing! 

It's the last time in my life I'll be able to focus on only one thing and really try to master it without the distractions of other things. It's the last time in my life I don't have to worry about money, paying taxes, finding work, what to major in, studying for tests, etc. Everything is given to us! We have an apartment arranged for us to live in, at the beginning of the month I go to an ATM and take out that month's cash, we are given a strict schedule to go to bed on time, you're even given a companion, someone who has to love you and be your friend! 

Even though I'm an "old" missionary now, I still don't take for granted what a special opportunity this is and it's fun to be able to experience it all as if it's new from my trainee's eyes. 

Last but not least, one of my favorite scriptures:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God."  Romans 8:28

All my love!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Beautiful Taiwan
New missionaries and trainers - Taiwan Taichung Mission December 2015