Monday, March 28, 2016

Perfect for me, enduring, enjoyed every day, loved serving in Taiwan and representing Christ, huge blessing, finish line

[Note from Marguerite Hancock: Next Tuesday, April 5, 2016, marks the last day of full-time service as a missionary for Sister Sinclaire Hancock.  Our family will be meeting her at the headquarters of the Taiwan Taichung Mission then traveling to meet some of the people and places in Taiwan she has grown to love.  Hope you have enjoyed this blog of her reflections and photos, spanning  from her first day in the Missionary Training Center to this most recent letter--her 82nd!  She will be speaking as part of our church services on Sunday, April 24 at 1 pm in the Palo Alto Second Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3865 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. Family and friends are warmly invited to hear her reflections as a missionary and to come help welcome her home!]

An amazing year and a half
28 March 2016

Perfect for me
It's been an amazing year and a half. I'm sure the time has gone by quickly for you, but for me, a lot has happened since I've left home. My mission was nothing like I expected. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. 
My mission was fun! Everyone's mission is different and mine has been perfect for me. 

Sister Beus and me
My mission has taught me a ton, but it's taught me the importance of enduring. I believe there are many Christ-like attributes or many lessons that we cannot learn without an extended period of time. Certain characteristics such as patience cannot be developed in such a short period of time as a couple weeks or a month. 

beautiful Taiwan
Having this consecrated time of 18 months has really helped me to incorporate Christlike attributes into my very being. And of course 18 months isn't enough either. So fortunately we have our entire lives to keep working on changing. 

I've found that enduring can ingrain permanent change. Maybe we can try to change our actions, but to have a change become permanent, we need keep doing it for an extended period of time. Even then, that does not guarantee that our very hearts or minds are changed too.

 Tainan District missionaries
Enjoyed every day
I've learned that enduring is much more than putting up with a circumstance. How could there be refining fires without some enduring heat? When teaching enduring to the end to my investigators in the 5th lesson, I often like to tell them we are not just to endure, but to enjoy to the end!

I am glad that I can honestly say I enjoyed every day of my mission. I did not view it as a chore or passively wait for the time to pass by. I truly loved it. 

made our own rope swing?!
Elder Maxwell said "personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience" and that enduring is "not merely the passage of time, but the passage of the soul." We are not just asked to endure to the end, but to endure gracefully and well.

Companions :)
Loved serving in Taiwan; loved representing Christ
I've loved serving in Taiwan. I've loved representing Christ and sharing my simple testimony with these people. 

buying fruit from vendors on the street
My time is come now
Too many anxious openings of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising, but I know my time is come now and I'm ready to go home. 

Tainan district sister missionaries
Calling waiting for me
I feel that I can end my mission at a spiritual plateau and keep progressing when I go home. I know there is a wonderful calling waiting for me back in America too. 

Went to see some beautiful flowers with Bishop this morning!
Huge blessing
It's been an incredibly fulfilling and meaningful year and a half for me--a huge blessing from the Lord. I'm so grateful I've had this experience and I can't wait to see you all! 

Finish line
Thanks for your many prayers and for cheering me on all the way to the finish line :) 

Hebrews 12:1 
all the way to the finish line
All my love,
Sister Hancock

Incredibly meaningful and fulfilling year and a half--huge blessing from the Lord

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Most important things I've learned; loving truly, deeply, fully; Christ's way; people not scooters

New vs. old missionary shoes
21 March 2016

I'm officially an old missionary. You wouldn't even know these are even the same shoes :)

Final reflection
I had to send in my final reflection to the mission office today: we have a tradition that every missionary who goes home shares their final thoughts during their last transfer.  So here are mine.

Final zone conference

Most important thing I've learned
When President Blickenstaff invited us to write down our own vision, goals and plans for our mission, one thing I listed under my vision was I wanted to love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength. 

Probably the most important thing I've learned on my mission is how to better keep this commandment and the importance of loving truly, deeply, and fully.

I once heard a question that I've thought about long since. Someone asked an actor "Do you love yourself in the theater or the theater in yourself?" I tried to think about how I could translate that to a missionary version... Do you love the missionary behind the tag or the tag/ the work itself? In other words, are you in it for yourself or because you simply love it? 

I know that at times we all might get a little distracted from our real purpose from focusing too much on ourselves. Focusing on my intentions and purifying the reasons behind everything I do has helped me to love more fully. 

Loving truly, deeply, fully
So back to my vision for my mission: one day I realized the depth of our doctrine that each person born who comes down to earth can become a God, so by the transitive property, if I were to love God with all my heart, might, mind and strength, I also needed to love those around me with all my heart, might, mind and strength. Because, after all, they are potential gods too. 

It is our human nature to blame, to take offense, to seek our own interests, to be wounded, to want credit, to find fault, to withhold our favor, to not take responsibility for our sins, to think about what we are going to say next instead of listening attentively, to not let things go, to be impatient, to cut a conversation short because we think we have more important things to do, ultimately to love less. 

So how then can we love God and those around us with our whole being, with everything that we have?

Christ's way
In Christ's way. Though He was subject to all these human tendencies, he overcame them all. The most innocent suffered the most and yet, through all of this, not even momentarily did His love diminish. This is the kind of love we need to develop. 

C.S. Lewis said "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature you would be strongly tempted to worship. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

People not scooters
My first day in Taiwan, walking out of the mission home looking at the street, I saw a lot of scooters. Now when I look out at the street, I see people. I want to know their stories and show them how the Gospel can bless their individual lives. 

Christ raises our vision, changes our goals and helps us see what we and the people around us are capable of. Your companion could be a god one day. Did you ever think about that? So my advice for loving your companion more fully: Trust her. Praise him. Let her be herself. And love the heck out of them. 

Matching giraffe shirts?
Like mother, like daughter :)
I know that we can't love God fully if we don't love those around us. By trying to forget about myself, I've become a better missionary and I know it will help you too. I hope that we'll all be able to think more about the divinity of those around us and as we talk to strangers, we'll remember their capacity for exaltation.  

Had a wonderful baptism this week! Such a happy day! 
Such a happy day!
Much love, 
Sister Hancock

P.S.  Here are more photos from the most recent Jiayi/Tainan Zone Conference on March 11th.

Monday, March 14, 2016

New streets, Zone Conference, Nature of God rings true to me, We are his children, Sister Chen

Fun Family Home Evening last night--our investigator Ruby came!
14 March 2016


New streets, new people
We are staying busy in Tainan! Went on exchanges this week and there's a new system which was exciting. Before we would switch companions for a day and one companionship would stay in your area, and the other would go to the other companionship's area. But now all 4 of us stay in one area and divide up the work there and all sleep together in the same apartment. 

Had a fun time learning from those sisters and it was cool being able to see another area, even though it was really close to ours. Because Tainan is so small, I haven't left my area for a long time, so it was fun to see some new streets and meet new people. 

Found this cutie tracting

Zone Conference
We also had Zone Conference this week. It was a privilege to be able to spend some time with the Blickenstaffs and other missionaries. Sister Beus and I were in charge of the musical number, so we ended up doing a medley of 3 songs: "O My Father", "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", and "A Child's Prayer". It was neat to see it come together and we even had an Elder on a violin!

It was a great Zone Conference this week.  Loved being with the Blickenstaffs.
Felt strengthened by so many missionaries all gathered together.
Nature of God Rings True to Me
It was a powerful start to our discussion about the Godhead. We talked about how important it is for our investigators to understand the nature of God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost, because this is something that especially in Taiwan is hard for investigators to understand. They have grown up with very traditional Buddhist beliefs, so they are used to worshipping idols, ancestors, and believe in many gods. 

I love our doctrine about God as our Father; it rings true to me. 

I love that we have someone very specific to picture when we pray and we have a very clear goal of something we want to work towards and become-- a physical being that we have the capacity of becoming like. It makes me work hard and have something I want to be like, an actual person, not a mist or wind or nature or something like that. 

It also logically makes sense to me.  Who do you know who doesn't have a father? Most of all, I love that when we teach people about prayer and the reality of the godhead, we are not offering our word against their tradition. We promise that they can know truth for themselves and that they can personally experience the things we teach them about and that they need to learn truth for themselves. 

We studied a wonderful talk, "Knowing the Godhead",  given by Elder Holland. He says: 
We are to know these Divine Beings in every way we can. We are to love Them, draw near to Them, obey Them, and try to be like Them.
I love that he says before we move on to prophets or apostles and testify of mortal leaders, we need to testify of Celestial ones. And just like every quorum of our church has a presidency, Heavenly Father also follows this pattern and the Godhead functions as an Eternal Presidency.  I hope you have the chance to read the entire thing. 

I learned a lot at Zone Conference and am really going to try to incorporate it into my teaching this week to try and help investigators grasp this concept about the godhead that I know must be confusing and new to them.

We are his children
Lastly, I love this quote by President Monson about our Heavenly Father:
"God our Father has ears with which to hear our prayers.  He has eyes with which to see our actions.  He has a mouth with which to speak to us.  He has a heart with which to feel compassion and love.  He is real.  He is living.  We are his children made in his image.  We look like him and he looks like us."
I'm on my last planner! Bittersweet.
Sister Chen
And Sister Chen is getting baptized this Friday! I'll send you pictures next week! I can hardly wait!

Love you all!

Went to help a less active member clean her house
Savoring goodies we received in a package this week.  Trader Joe's salsa and sweet potato chips are precious!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Miracles, as we are patient, faithful, and follow the Spirit, consistent competence = eventual excellence, involved in the Lord's work

Tracting on a tiny street near our house
7 March 2016

Awesome week! They're going by fast! 

It was a special week where I got to see lots of little miracles and hard work pay off. 

Small miracle with Sister Ke
One small miracle was Thursday: we stuck exactly to our plan and were at every location that we planned to contact at on the half hour dot and met each of our half hour goals that we had set. 

We planned to contact near the college at 4:30 pm. So we were there precisely at 4:30, when I heard someone yelling my name from behind me. It scared me and I didn't recognize who it was at first because she had her helmet on.  But it was our Recent Convert, Sister Ke. (You might recall she was baptized a couple months ago.  Do you remember the amazing story of getting over her coffee addiction?). 

She had gone to visit her son for a month over New Year. While she was there she found a new job and decided to move immediately. So I thought I was never going to get to say goodbye. But she happened to come back that day for a short time to move some of her things. 

It was a tender mercy that we got to see her one last time. Not only that, but on her short ride home from the train to her house, she not only ran into us but 2 other sets of missionaries, so she could say goodbye to all of us. What are the chances?!

Miracle with Sister Chen
Another huge miracle is our investigator, Sister Chen. I love, love, love her! 

When I first moved to the area, Sister Wawro and I called through the "formers" in our phone (someone who met with the missionaries in the past but either they or the missionaries decided to stop meeting) and looked through some former records in our Area Book. Formers are difficult sometimes because there are probably hundreds of names/addresses of people. They take a lot of work to set up with or sometimes they move, or they weren't interested at all and that's why they stopped meeting in the first place. There are lots of reasons that missionaries usually just go out and try to find new people rather than working with formers, but for some reason we called a few that day and Sister Chen said we could visit her. 

We visited her for the first time on November 6th and have been meeting with her about once a week since then. We read through her record, about 5 pages all stapled together because so many missionaries had visited her before... The last entry read "She's just not that interested." But we decided to give it a try. 

Going into the lesson we were pretty scared because some of the people made her sound kind of intimidating! But we fell in love with her instantly. 

She's one of the most sincere investigators I've met my whole mission. She has so much desire to do what is right and wants to know truth. She has tons and tons of questions -- all good ones and she has an intrinsic curiosity. 

With all my different companions that I've served with in Tainan now, we've invited her to be baptized and she has gradually told us what her real concerns. The last time we invited her, she said it was because she wanted her family's support and she wanted them to accept the gospel too. So we had waited for a while and thought that was a good reason and didn't bring it up for a few lessons. But when my companion was planning her lesson this week, she felt strongly that we needed to invite her again, so that was our plan. 

As we are patient, faithful, and follow the Spirit
We showed up on her doorstep a few hours early because my companion heard wrong on the phone :) So then went back later that day and had a good lesson with her. But during it she told us that she might have cancer and has to get surgery at the end of the month.  I was super bummed when I heard that.... Luckily we've developed a great relationship now, so we trust each other. I just looked at her towards the end of the lesson and asked her laughing "So, when are you going to be baptized?" She laughed back at me and said "I've been thinking about this month. My surgery's at the end of March, so how about before then?" 

I was grateful for the Spirit guiding that lesson, because it definitely didn't go how we had planned. But I'm grateful that I was able to courageously invite her and that she was willing to do what she knows she should do. 
For some reason, I just felt to ... just ask her when she was going to do get baptized, and it totally worked! 

We're so excited for her. It's particularly touching to me because this has been such a long time coming and there were so many instances she could have been lost or given up on, as tens of sets of missionaries had in the past. 

It was a great testimony to me that we can see miracles as we are patient, faithful, and follow the Spirit. 

Consistent competence = eventual excellence
It made me think of a talk I read this week by Edward Eyestone, a two-time Olympic marathoner and now head coach for BYU's cross country team. 

He mentioned a story about a runner who wanted to cut his mile time from 4:05 to 4 minutes, but was stuck in a slump and didn't know how to do it. One day he discovered that there was no one thing he could change that could cut 5 seconds, but that there were 10 things he could do each day that would each cut half a second. So he was incredibly disciplined. Sure enough through consistent, small efforts he was able to hit his goal. 

Eyestone quotes this scripture:
"Where, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which s great." (Doctrine & Covenants 64:33)
I like the equation he mentions in the talk: consistent competence = eventual excellence:

"So often we find ourselves looking for that big break, the huge testimony-defining experience, the job or investment that will set us for life.... While those events can occur, more often than not it is by consistent, competent effort, by the small things that we pay attention to, that ultimately and eventually lead us to excellence. Consistent competence equals eventual excellence, or c2 = e2, as I sometimes say. I would challenge us all to take a personal inventory of some of the small things we can work on in the coming months that will help break us from the spiritual, mental, and physical plateaus on which we might currently reside."

That's sort of what we did with Sister Chen. There was no mind-blowing, new idea that we came up with and tried for her. But we tried to get members more involved, we tried to follow up better with her, we stopped by during the week to drop off talks she could read, we got her to come to the chapel more frequently, and we tried to express our love for her more. I believe it was through the combination of all of those little things that we were able to see success with her. 
I've found this is true. 

Involved in the Lord's work
It was a wonderful week where I felt a tiny little piece involved in the Lord's work. I'm so glad that He could direct it through the obedient servants that we are.

Love you!!

Sister Hancock

Like my new ride? ;)
Typical Taiwanese meal

Crazy dog we found while contacting

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Inviting out of love, Twister and Ping Pong, when someone's life flashes before their eyes, one week at a time

President and Sister Blickentaff lead Training Follow-up Meeting
for brand new missionaries (Sister Beus) and their trainers (me).  How is it going after 6 weeks?
February 29, 2016


Great week. Time is flyin! 

Inviting out of love
News for over here: Steve our amazing ward mission leader got released, so we'll miss him a ton. But we had our first coordination meeting with Brother Wu yesterday. Suffice it to say we are in good hands. The guy is efficient. And he's a problem-solver. As we were presenting our progress record to him and telling him about our investigators, he worked extremely quickly and basically just asked one question about each person: "It says here they don't have a baptismal date. Try them again this week". To which of course we would explain how we've invited them before or they dropped their previous goals because of a law of chastity issue or whatever their concern might be. He didn't buy any of it and just said "Their salvation is more important. Let's invite them again this week." Love him! He's ready to help and he's focused on the big goal: baptism. 

It's been neat for me to reflect too, remembering how I felt when giving my first baptismal invite at the MTC--feeling awkward, pushy, unsure... And contrasting that with now--not feeling apologetic at all and inviting them out of love and because I want so badly for them to have these blessings, not even having room to feel awkward from thinking about myself.

Love these wonderful people!
Twister, Ping Pong
This Saturday night we had a great activity! It started a few months ago when I was trying to think of ways to get our investigators to the church and especially some of their families, husbands, or boyfriends who weren't very interested in meeting with us. I gave our ward mission leader Steve an idea of something including food and games. 

So glad so many of our investigators could come!
And we finally put it to action. It was a complete success! 

We played Twister, ping pong, Spot It, Guesstures, and Yahtzee. Everyone had a great time.

Loved all the games
We had everyone bring a dessert to share, so how could you go wrong?

I was a happy camper
Jumbo Jenga!
Other news: our investigator Jessica had a goal to be baptized at the end of March. Because she's only 13, she needs parental permission. Her Dad is Buddhist and doesn't support her, so keep her in your prayers! 

Like a scene in a movie when life flashes before their eyes
I enjoyed thinking about the Sacrament this week. It's funny to think back to when I was younger and would maybe color during church or beg my sister to give me a massage while listening to the talks, or look forward to the snacks in Primary. It's funny to realize that what is now completely full of meaning to me, when I was a little kid, the Sacrament mostly consisted of me being amused by trying to pick the biggest piece of bread. 
I love the Sacrament because it gives us time to reflect and ponder. Doesn't everybody lack that in life? We all get so busy that we don't always have a lot of time to just sit down and think about how we're doing and take stock. For me, the sacrament is kind of like one of those timeline things Facebook makes when it summarizes the year for you in pictures. Or like a scene in a movie when someone's life flashes before their eyes, and it's just tons of quick tiny little glimpses.

One week at a time
I like being able to sit there peacefully on Sunday, quickly review the week, and choose one thing that I wish I could have done better. Then commit to Heavenly Father that I'll do better next week.

It makes the gospel very doable to me, and less daunting when we think about it one week at a time.

I love these two scriptures about what the sacrament means to me:

"Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore desire not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For me maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole." Job 5:17

"Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." 1 Corinthians 11:28

All my love,
Sister Hancock

That's right-- taught Sister Beus to like tofu  :P
Of course you gotta sample the batter :)

Chinese New Year, customized counsel, last transfer, focus on one word, more pure, details of the details

Celebrating our month and a half anniversary as missionary companions.
I'm lucky to have Sister Beus as my companion!
Happy Valentine's Day!
15 February 2016

Chinese New Year
Fun week of Chinese New Year!

So many happy Chinese New Year celebrations!
Many feasts!
For teaching, our schedule actually wasn't as crazy as I expected. Still plenty of people for us to contact. 

Customized counsel
I enjoyed studying a talk from last General Conference, "What Lack I Yet?" It is inspired by the story of the righteous, rich young man who asks Christ that question. (Matthew 19:20) It's a great one for everyone, but it feels especially relevant to me as a missionary. Elder Lawrence said, 
"The journey of [Christian] discipleship is not an easy one...The Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher.  The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion.  If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home." 
I've found that what he says in the talk is true, that the Holy Ghost really can give us customized counsel, and will tell you things that no one else is willing to. 

I'm going to miss Elder Guo and Sister Chang so much!
I call them the "Taiwanese companion I always wanted" because I bug them
with Chinese questions all the time :) 
Last transfer
I'm in the last run of my mission now, starting my last transfer though it's hard to believe. I made several goals of things I wanted to work on before going home. I was excited to start making progress on them, but first I prayed about the new goals I set to make sure it was what I should be focusing on. 

Focus on one word
Surprisingly, I felt that I should focus on something different altogether, just one word in fact: charity. I've always considered myself a somewhat loving person, but this prompting has helped me to search deeper--to really examine myself and to think more about what charity is, because it's more than just love. 

Loving has always come easily to me personally. I know that's certainly not the case for everyone, so maybe I "checked off" charity too quickly from the list of Christlike attributes. What I've been working on is refining my every thought, action, and motive. 

And that's where the real change comes in, but oh is it hard to change our very thoughts. Before we do anything that we've planned in our daily schedule or before I make any decision, I now force myself to ask "Why?" "Why am I giving her this invitation?" "Why do I want to contact at that particular 7-11?" The most helpful question I've been pondering when going through the every day motions is "Is there something in it for me?" 

Deeper, more pure, more selfless
I think that's the part where most of us then would fall short. Though we might think we already have a decent amount of love, there's always love that can be deeper, more pure, and more selfless. Focusing on charity has helped me to try and turn out, to be less selfish, to make sure I don't just want the right things, but that I want them for the right reason and to always be checking that I have real intent. 

Interestingly, as I focus all my efforts on this goal that I feel is inspired, I find that all the other goals I had set aside begin to be accomplished and fulfilled too. 

So proud of my baby [junior companion in training] passing of her
Plan of Salvation lesson.  Just 3 more to go!

He is very personally involved in the details of the details
I'm grateful for God's direction in our lives and the way that He is very personally involved in the details of the details of our lives. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to keep developing charity; afterall, if I had to pick one favorite attribute of Christ, one thing that sticks out the most to me, it would be His selflessness. 

Love you all!!! Happy Valentine's Day! 

Going to miss our district.  Move call today, so we have lots of
new missionaries coming in.