Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 23, 2012 (Hualian)

Hey everyone,

Merry Christmas! Tonight we are taking the train to Taipei and staying at the mission home because tomorrow we're having a big multi-zone Christmas zone meeting thing. I'm super excited to go to Taipei and hang out with the other missionaries. 

I'm still getting used to this area. In some ways, it's really different, but it's mostly all the same. People are a lot more willing to talk to you here, I feel like, but sometimes it's hard to discern if they really have interest or not. We don't have very many investigators, but we are hoping to slowly and surely build up the area. We have two cute older women - the Wang sisters, who are getting baptized next week. They are from China and sometimes I totes can't tell what they are saying. They are cute. We helped them write their little testimonies to share at their baptims. We asked them their favorite scripture, and they just fanned through Du jiemei's scriptures and seemed to just randomly pick a marked scripture. It was great.

This week we also had our big Christmas party. A ton of people came and we were able to meet a couple people that could hopefully turn into investigators. The youth acted out the nativity and they did so awesome. Then a few little toddlers wearing lamb suits came crawling out onto the stage. Think of Asian tinies crawling while wearing little lamb suits! It was so cute I almost cried.

Speaking of youth, the youth here are SO GOOD. They are so strong and always hang out. Our mm leader, Daniel, (also SO GOOD - he's super super involved in the work and with us and the ward and is waiting for his mission call) hosts a fhe every sunday night - usually just a bunch of youth come. Last night we had it at his house - which is a cute tiny one room kitchen/living room thing. We always eat dinner together - which is usually noodles with melted peanut butter on them, and then last night we also had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and these chewy black sesame things. Last night we had a gift exchange, which was so fun. The Elders just brought stuff from their house and one elder brought this fake leather jacket. This girl got it and she wasn't super stoked, but then for some reason, by the end of the game, all the teen girls wanted it and it ended up getting stolen by this one guy at the very end. The girls were freaking out and it was hilairous. Oh, and elder lin gave a stuffed animal igauana and it was so funny because a teen boy got it and he was like, "what is this??"" and elder lin was so funny because he was like, "what do you mean? it is so cute! i love that guy!" funnier in Chinese. I was cracking up. 

One cool contacting experience we had was that after visiting a former, we had just a few minutes left before we had to head home. We decided to knock a couple doors before heading home. We knocked on this one door, and an older woman was just like, "we bai bai!" Which everyone says, which means they worship ancestors and have no interest. But in the background, a younger woman was talking on the phone, and I waved at her and she came over. Turns out, she is christian, but she and her husband recently spent some time in vancouver and one of their friends there is lds, and he shared stuff about our church with them. She said she has a Book of Mormon and sometimes when the Bible is confusing, she'll use the book of mormon to help her understand it better. Awesome! We're hoping to make contact with her again this week. 

Also, this week, me and one of the temple sisters were on exchanges. We were out in the country and it was hot. Anyway, turns out, I got (no lie) approximately 75 bug bites on my legs from my knees down to my ankles. Turns out, most of them are some little flea bug thing that lives here and apparently has no translation. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE UNCOMFORTABLE IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Seriously. It is impossible to not itch. Not like a 4 year old saying it's hard to not itch or not pick a scab, it is truly physically impossible to not itch my legs. I have tried 7 million creams and all the ward members when they saw my legs yesterday started giving me tons of advice. I seriously need your prayers. It sounds silly, but I haven't been able to sleep and it's hard for me to focus on teaching, because I'm so itchy.  We're buying meat tenderizer today (what even is that?) because my district leader says that works on jelly fish stings, so I'm going to try it out. Sounds delicious. But, Taiwan people are the nicest and most hospitable. We met with an investigator the other day, and she gave me this ointment and gave me a bunch of new washcloths so I could put cold water on them. So nice. I'm super humbled by peoples' hospitality here. They are the nicest.

I think that's all for this week. I'm so excited to talk to you on Christmas day.
love, sister natalie

Ariel: Thank you a million times! Waiting for more!
Celia: Also thank you a million times! Also waiting for more! Can't wait to see pictures of Lucy! How exciting!! What is vaughn and mags' address?
Lou: Thank you so much for the Christmas email! I love hearing from you! So, Hannah is at byu?
courney c. b. petersen- where are you|?? are you at the same address?
alicia harris- you too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 (Hualian)


I finally MOVED.

And guess where I am?? HUA LIAN.

That probably won't mean anything to anyone except for the Faj Mahal, but you guys can google it. It's one of the most beautiful, coolest areas in the mission. It's on the east coast of Taiwan - our apartment is about a ten minute run to the beach (haven't been yet, but I'll report when I do). It's about a 3-ish hour train ride from Taipei, so it's really far from the mission office. There are only 4 sisters in the whole zone - me and my companion and then two hours south from us, there are two more sisters. You guys, this place is a dream come true! For reals. It's so laid back and quiet and peaceful. Everywhere else in Taiwan (atleast in my last zone and in Taipei) is jam packed with people and cars and always really noisy. Hua Lian feels like a little mountain city - like Boulder or Park City, but not as ritsy. But then it's on the coast, so it also kinda feels like California in summer time. Most people are really willing to at least talk to you. People are smiley and happy. And I feel like in other areas, it's always so crowded and when other people get in your way, you get ticked. But here, when you get in peoples' way, they just slow down and smile at you. It's a super cool area. I'm super grateful I get to serve here. Not just because it's beautiful and wonderful, but also because the members are so great and this area is just a good one.

My companion is Du Jiemei. She is Taiwanese from Jia Yi and she is awesome and adorable! I love her. She is on her third transfer, but I feel like she is the big companion. She works so hard - all the time. Never quits. I love hanging out with her and speaking Chinese all the time. But, we're going to speak English more to help her English. Oh, I heard this area has scary dogs because it's more rural. (does rural = scary dogs?) We've already had a couple sort of scary dog encounters. One day while we were biking (my bike is not here yet, so I've been using this little yellow beach cruiser from a member in the ward. I want to be just like this member when I grow up. On Sunday, we were waiting on the front porch of the church, and he and his family all rode up together on their bikes. Like four children, and the mom had a little guy on the back of her bike. Cutest/coolest thing in the world.) Anyway, biking, and on the side of the road, I saw a big dog with a muzzle and he had tackled another dog and was just hovering over him. Scary.

We went to mm meeting on Saturday night (we cover two branches), and one of the bishopbric members talked to me about being outgoing and friendly with the members and also told me to call leaders and members and tell them what we need. He said wanted us to be fun missionaries and find fun, new and happy ways to share the gospel. Cute. The ward was really welcoming and nice.

Yesterday at church, I got to meet some more members. Sunday night, we had a little fhe at the church. Mostly a bunch of Young Men and Young Women came. We all ate dinner together. A really ghetto potluck because we don't except young men/women to bring food - so it was random stuff the missionaries and mm leader and another church leader brought (instant soup with noodles, peanut butter mixed with noodles, bread, 2 chocolate muffins, canned smoked eels). It was great fun. Then we shared about what the Liahona is and shared a talk from last conference. (the young men/women here are sooo good! They are totally into the gospel. There is one boy who just joined the church in the summer - he is 14 and only member in his family and he is so cool and such a stellar member. He always does all this stuff to help the church and wore his white shirt and tie to the meeting last night. So impressed with all of them.) Then we played this game we can only play in Chinese because it deals with their classifiers. For example - you can't say one book, you say one classifier book. Anyway, so you do this clapping thing, and then you say a noun and the person next to you says number and classifier and then it goes up higher. So hard. Faj, you should play it with your students. I can totally see you leading this game - clapping and snapping while speaking Chinese. Totally your thing.

So, to back up. Yes, I finally left Zhong Li. When they told me I was moving, I was 99% not surprised, because a. obviously there forever and b. I had been feeling like I would move. I super love sister Crofts and super trust her to take over the area. At first I was kinda bummed because Chen jiemei wasn't leaving (we've been there sooo long together), and at first I was having super fomo (fear of missing out) because we all have so much fun together. But then I decided that it's actually really good and a cool experience to leave behind really good things. Anyway, my last couple days in Zhong Li were crazy, especially the last day. It was super sad saying good bye to some of the people, but also awesome because I know we'll be forever friends. Thursday, my last day there, was super crazy. This was part of the schedule:
eat breakfast
do studies
lunch - eat curry with Cai jm - the recent convert with two little boys. I LOVE HER.
do some other stuff
3:30 eat dou hua with our beloved soon to be baptized mei jun. SOOO full.
5:00 go visit Luo jm (member) - I already told her we had a 6 o'clock dinner appointment, but when we got there, she fed us. Ohmygosh so full.
6:00 rush to our member friend Phoenix's house to eat a fancy Christmas feast with her. She had sugar cane smoked chicken and potatoes and other delicious things.
Me and Sister Crofts were DYING of fullness and cracking up because we always eat so much and are gaining weight, so it was so perfect. We couldn't think of a better way to end our transfers together. Painfully full.
Had a lesson with Qian jiemei. She was precious and talked to me about how grateful she is to know the gospel and it made me feel so great, knowing I could help her with that. Then they left, but Yun En (her little boy) ran back in and in his cute raspy voice, told me he was grateful to know the gospel and he knows Heavenly Father loves both of us. Precious.

Then we rushed to the Wu's so I could say bye to Brother and Sister Wu - looooove them. So, so much. Wu jiemei told me if I go to Hua Lian, she'd come visit me. Ha, hopefully she'll stay true to her word!

Then I stayed up so late packing. Yes, Father, I have too much stuff. Friday morning, I was scrambling around (miscalculated my time) but everyone helped me stuff stuff into my bags. Okay, this email is getting boring. But, I was so excited when I found out I was moving to Hua Lian and would be with Du jiemei. We tried to do weekly planning on the train back to hua lian, but I kept getting so distracted by the ocean and trees and mountains outside my window. I keep  having to talk to Sister Crofts about stuff and she was telling me how much she missed me and I was like, "It's hard to miss you when I'm running along the beach." She was like, "Oooo, I hate you! I am so mad right now!" I thought I was so funny.

All right, finally peacing out. Love you all dearly. Love this gospel dearly. So grateful every day I have this oppotunity to be a missionary.

Sister Nad

Addison! I loved your email and your pictures! I loved seeing Grandpa and Grandma. Who's with the grandparents in the last picture? Also, look at your matchy-matchy hipster. Cute.
ARIEL. need you address. love you.
CELIA. need your address, too. love you.
kimi - writeeee meeee.
kayla. you too.
Analyn. I love love love getting your letters.
allison. update meeee. love you. did you get my letter?

the funny one - me talking to cai jm at lunch
wu jiemei at our little christmas dinner
me with qian jiemei and yun en and daughter yi qin.
window outside my hua lian apartment - the mountains are so pretty here.
me and du jiemei!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 10, 2012 (Zhongli)

Dear all,

Some awesome things happened this week. One of the best things was that our little Yun En, Qian Jiemei's son, got baptized. He is such a joy to teach. He's always so cute and happy and excited to see us. Qian jiemei said that he used to not be excited to come to church, but now he's always excited to go to church and meet with us. Also, he recently cut his own hair, which is why he looks like he's from Star Trek. Cutest boy ever. On Sunday, he got confirmed and afterwards, he ran from the chair, back to his mom, with a huge smile on his face. Precious. I love him and his mom so much. His mom told me at his baptism, it was the happiest she's ever been in her whole life.

Our investigator, Mei Jun, is still doing so awesome. She called and said she was going to try so hard to make it to church and ended up running from the train station to the chapel, to get there as soon as possible. She's the best. She came back later that night to watch the Christmas devotional with us. (Dorothy Larsen, I was watching out for you in the choir.) So grateful that her friend, Jason Ni, has shared everything with her. (Faj, whenever I introduce Mei Jun, I say how Jason's in your class. He said he went over the other night to roast marshmellows. Jealous.) Anyway, Jason makes me want to be a way better member friend. It really helps so much when the people have member friends who help them understand the gospel.

This week we weren't doing so good at getting new investigators, but yesterday we went to visit our beloved new convert, Dong jiemei. She has some health problems, so I haven't seen her in a while. While I was outside her house calling her, my companion started talking to this guy walking by. He agreed to let us come over in about a half hour and share a message with his family. So we went over, and shared about prayer with them. They became our new investigators and were willing to set up again with us. I feel like he has a lot of desire - I'm not sure about his wife. But, it was still really awesome to meet them. Talking to everyone really is so important in missionary work, because you never know who is prepared.

Another one of our investigators, a Wang jiemei, is not progressing a ton but at the last meeting, she casually mentioned at how she had finished reading the book of mormon! I was blown away. Now we just need to get her to come to church. If it rains, she pretty much doesn't leave, and it's been raining a ton lately.

This week we also went to a Christmas concert with our favorite Ping. (They're all our favorites.) We were supposed to drive home with a member, but her car was blocked in (we had to leave early), so we started taking a taxi to the train station but they said there was an accident on the tracks, so we coudn't take the train. so we had to take a bus all the way back and didn't get home until suuper late.

Oh, ps, my favorite little Boston ABC investigator writes me all the time and she told me she's getting baptized on January 19th. So stoked!

Oh, ps, my companion is ultimately disheveled. As disheveled or more disheveled than me. Last night, I was kneeling next to our investigator, Mei Jun, and we were playing with a member's baby. One of the members brought brought bread and this egg salad stuff and Sister Crofts was carrying a piece of bread with that stuff on top and I hear a big thud and turn around to see her like leap-hopping through the hair (because she hit her hip on this table) and then the bread fell facedown with a huge "SPLAT" right next to Mei Jun's leg. Oh, man, we were laughing so hard we almost died. We are a total dreamteam companionship.

Some other funny things about this week:  our district is all gaining weight, and we are all concerned about our double chins. It's super fun. Our zone leaders gave us the invite to hug our companion every night and tell each other we love each other. Love my comp for reals, but worst invite ever. Also, the zone leaders never follow up on invites directly with us, except for this invite. And one night this week, I was so tired and we were biking home, but the elders told us to go this one way that was way more long, so I was sort of chapped. And then I was so hot and sweating because I had my coat on and was biking so fast, and then I was getting more chapped cause I was so hot, then my skirt got completely wrenched in my bike chain, and Sister Crofts had to literally rip it out and I was like,"I am SO ANGRY right now! I am so chapped!" (Really, just because I was so hot - not because of skirt b/c my skirts always get ripped in the bike chain. Classy.) And Sister Crofts was cracking up, which I loved because whenever I get angry like that, my brothers always crack up at me.

I have loved thinking about what Elder Holland said at conference, "The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty." I love that. I'm trying to express my love to God by being more loyal to Him, not doubting Him, more perfectly keeping his commandments and mission rules. I love God so much more now than I ever have, I think. I'm so grateful to know the gospel and I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ. Lately, I've felt kind of down and like I'm not a very good missionary. But, I'm grateful that through Jesus Christ, I can change. And I'm grateful that Heavenly Father loves me, and so He can help me achieve great things. I just need to have sincere prayers, diligent scripture study (to better figure out what His plans for me are) and trust Him. I only have three transfers left and I just want so badly to change and become the best best best I can at this time in my life and get rid of all the bad and stuff that's not good.

Family, send allllll my love to Lydia when you see her. Really love her so much. So, so excited for her. Also, Faj, ask Mark M. if he ever got my letter. i don't want him to write me back, but I want to make sure he got my letter and saw the awesome envelope I sent him. Also, I desperately need immune boost capsules and deep heat. Deep heat almost gone. Use it all the time. Would die without it. Thank you. Faj, I know my name is cen hui4 lian2, but what hui and what lian? I need to know asap, thanks.

I love you all so much. Thanks so much for all your love and support and prayers.

TARA!!! problem, just sent a juicy letter to Park City. You have to read it, if there is ANY way possible. Gah, sorry. Love you so much and loved loved hearing your news. Glad you're feelin' some peace. I'll write you more soon. And duh, forever besties. So don't even worry your cute little self.
VERINA: I am officially a part of the cool club. THANKS for the letter. Overjoyed. Writing you back sooooon.
Ariel: neeeeed your address. Did you ever get the letter I sent?
Celia: sorry, can you send your address again??
Allison: How are you? miss/love you.
Kimi: kimi! writteeee me. love you guys.

1. Yun En's baptism. Star Trek hair. Love them
2. DOUBLE CHIN. Me beckoning to Ping on the bus.
3. me. temple in back.
4. me and cai jiemei. recent convert. one of favorite people ever. they really are all my favorites.
5. me and sister crofts with mei jun.
ps, I wear glasses everyday. I love my glasses! Thank you, family!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 2, 2012 (Zhongli)

Dear everyone,

Finn do you read my emails?

Have I told you guys about Mei Jun yet? Faj, there is a guy in your class named Jason Ni. She's his best friend. Jason is a total rockstar and has already talked about everything with her, so she's already keeping all the commandments. When we share commandments with her, she's just like, "yep, I already know. Yeah, actually I haven't been drinking coffee or tea for a year now." She is super prepared and so fun to teach. Last week, she only came to sacrament meeting and Jason told her she should attend all of church and that she should listen to what the missionaries say because they can really help her. She came to all 3 hours of church yesterday. Jason will tell her things you say in class, so he must like you. I asked her is he thinks you are scary or super serious. She said no. (ps, did you ever get the lucky i sent to you to give to Lucky?)

I LOVE having mm meetings and I especially LOVE our mm leader. This week, he was telling us about something he saw on discovery channel about this group of people who are fighting to save the whales, and it reminded him or the missionaries and the work we do. It was precious and hilarious. He's the most  humble, sincere man in the world. Whenever our investigators are having a hard time, he always talks about how he thinks about them and worries about them. And he really does. Last week, we were talking about this ward member who got bit by an ant, so the elders went to give him a blessing. I was like, "Where did he get bit?" And Wu dixiong started cracking up a little bit and was like, "It's inconvenient to say. In an inconvenient place." We were cracking up.

Sister Crofts had to go to the doctor, aka hopstial this week. That took up a whole day. The building was really beautiful (in Taipei), but that day I didn't have my camera. Bummer. The doctor's English was good, but there were still some good language barriers. Realized my vocab doesn't extend to the medical realm at all. Faj, isn't it weird that I can speak Chinese a little bit?

We didn't too hot numerically this week. But, last night, right as we left our apartment, we were biking to this one neighborhood and there was a girl walking on the side of the street. There's always a ton of people walking on the side of the street, and sometimes you feel prompted to talk to someone and sometimes I'm like, "Should I keep going? Should I turn around? Should I talk to them?" And sort of argue with myself. But, this girl, without even thinking about it, I just noticed her and slammed on my brakes to talk to her. Sister Crofts was ahead of me and told me later that as soon as she passed that girl, she started turning her bike around to talk to her. It's so cool how we can be so literally led by the spirit. The girl was awesome and set up with us.

Also, my beloved trainer, Sister Wang, just went home, but she came to visit zhong li yesterday with Becky Li. I LOVE WANG JIEMEI. She is the most kind, Christlike person in the world. Parents, if you come, we'll totally go visit her and her family on the east coast - taidong. She snuck chocolate into my bag. She's so loving and wonderful. I totally miss not having her as a fellow missionary.

My favorite book of mormon scripture lately is Alma 37:17. This is also one of my favorite themes of the Book of Mormon, and a reason why we repeatedly read the book of mormon. God will keep all the promises he's made to us (think: patriarchal blessings, other priesthood blessings, personal revelation, keeping our covenants) because he's kept all his promises he's made to our fathers, aka ALL of the people in the book of mormon. Over and over and over again, we see that as people keep their covenants, and keep the commandments, they prosper. This gives me so much peace, hope, and comfort. Also, sometimes I feel like I have big, grand plans for my life or things I want to do and sometimes they feel unattainable, but I truly know that God loves me and has great plans for my life, and as I trust Him and do what's right, He'll help me achieve and have a rich, full life. It's so comforting to know that the One with the most wisdom, power, and knowledge knows me and loves me, and because of that, He's on my team (or rather, I'm on His team) and He'll help me in every aspect. I truly feel that my life has been so incredibly and richly blessed - honestly, too blessed. My life has been so good, and it's truly all from God. Believe in God. Let Him help you achieve and become all you can. I know our lives will be better as we do so. I'm still trying to really live this principle - trusting God and His ways, His time, His promised blessings. The gospel is too good.

Family, will you hate me if I don't send you anything for Christmas?

love love love all of you so much. All of you are HUGE, ginormous blessings in my life. For reals.

love, Sister Natalie

Verina! I was so, so, so happy and excited to get your letter! Thank you! I'll write you back later. I love you and your sister!
Celia! Neeeeed your address again. Sorry.
ARIEL! Also, neeeed your address. Did you get the letter I sent?
Courtney CB: Are you still in DC? Same house? What about Kristin?
ALICIA HARRIS: did you ever get my letter? what's your current address?

- always looking like huge dorkwads. Lately, freezing and super wet and rainy.
- pie eating contest - notice jason ni's friend, lin mei jun in the background. also, notice the grandpa's face on the right hand side. so good!
- favorite district picture ever.
- freezing day led to combined companionship study on the bed under blankets.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

November 25, 2012 (Zhongli)

Dearest famster and friends,

This week was the most stressful week of my mission, so far, I think. We had this idiotic idea to throw a huge autumn party for our ward, investigators and their friends. It turned out well, but there was so much stuff we had to do for it. We were in charge of doughnut on a string, which me and Sister Crofts realized was too hard for 2 people. Two people was not enough to be holding up the stick and tying string to it at the same time. We also had a pie eating contest, but because pies are so expensive, we just bought these bread things and put whip cream on the top. I didn't realize how crappy that was, until Brother Su (an American in the bishopbric and one of the contestants) was like, "You guys bought bread from RT Mart instead of pie?!" And Elder Deal was like, "We bought them bread when we said we'd give them pie? How cheap is that!" The pie contest looked miserable, like they were suffocating from whipped cream and I was laughing so hard. They all loved it. Later we had a balloon stomping competition, which was also super hilarious. Sister Crofts was running all over, screaming, and doing high leg kicks because a bunch of people were chasing her. So funny.

This week, we also had a little Thanksgiving. On Tuesday during studies, we were like, duh we should celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. (Because it was after pday, and we were going to have a meeting for our autumn festival.) So proud of us, because we put together a thanksgiving meal in 24 hours. It was actually super delicious. Here are the food assignments:

me and sister crofts (ps, I LOVE Sister Crofts - I never have time to include stories about her, but she's a super awesome missionary, talks to everyone, and also hilarious. Like, she worked at a fat camp and has a bunch of funny stories about being camp counselor. Also, Faj, she is as disheveled as me. The other day, she was trying to super glue this bow together, got glue on her hands, so she's frantically trying to get it off with tissues, and then the tissues get cemented to her skin. I was cracking up. She was chapped.) Anyway, me and Sister Crofts bought a duck. You buy a duck on a little roadside stand and they chop up the whole thing for you. Super heavenly, for reals. We also brought bread.

Elders Powell and Andersend: Drinks and dessert. We chose something nice and easy for them because lsat time we assigned them to bring fruit to a function, they bought maggot-infested oranges.

Elders Deal and Patrick: side potatos. So, their steamer wasn't working, so Elder Patrick had to cook the potatos 3 at a time in a toaster oven. He was a little chapped.

Sisters Chen and Burrell: potatos and gravy since Chen jiemei's mom is constantly sending her potatos and gravy.

It was super fun and delicious. And fastly eaten. yeah for having thanksgiving on a regular lunch break time!

This week, I don't know why, but I've felt really led by the Spirit. It's been such an awesome feeling. Our mission is focusing on the Book of Mormon this month as well, so we've been encouraged to use bom more. Anyway, we went to visit an investigator, but she wasn't home, but I felt that we should make a goal to talk to just like two people or knock two doors before we leave an area. We quickly went up to a girl named Bagel Wang. She said she believed in God, but didn't really believe any specific thing about him and wasn't really super into religions because she didn't want to identify with like a specific way that God is because religions say different things about him, or have a set regulation of how God is, or something like that. I asked her, "If there was a way that you could really know who God is and what type of person he is and could know that it was true, then would you be interested in knowing it?" She said, "Yeah, if there was a weay  I could kn ow, then I would accept." So I was like, "Just a sec!" and ran to my bike to grab a book of mormon. She listened to us talk and testify of the BofM, even though my Chinese and contacting skills were super lacking that day. But she told us she's actually really interested in the book or momron and our messge, because we seem so happy. (If you wanna be happy, accept the gospel. Tell you what! Everyone comments on the happiness of missionaries and members.) She said she's studying for a huge test and can't meet with missionaries until next summer, but we gave her a book or mormon and she seemed really happy and gratefl to have it. And it was just a super awesome experience for me. I know that what Niels said iss true, the Book of Mormon has power that we don't even know. Even though my Chinese wasn't super fluent, I knew she could feel that what we were saying was genuine and true. If you want a better life in any way, read the Book of Mormon.

The other night, when we left the church, there was a girl outside I wanted to talk to, but no time. So Qiu Feng, new convert, was at the church, so I called her and asked her to contact that girl. What a rockstar, totally talked to her, and the girl totally has interest. Lately, I"ve just felt really divinely led.

Church, yesterday. So many people came. Including our mom with all three of her kids. She wasn't going to bring her kids, but they all wanted to come. One of the them, a young woman, said she's going to bring two friends next week. So awesome.

Our wonderful LA, Ping, when I asked her if she was coming to church tomorrow was kind of ticked and like, "Yes, I love church! I'm coming every week. You don't need to ask me every week." Ha, love her.

I also had interviews with President this week. Man, he is so awesome. Constantly super in-tune to the spirit, and when you're with him, it's kind of scary sometimes because it's like he can look into your soul and know everything you're thinking. But I set some goals with him and I'm excited for the rest of my mission.  I only have three transfers left, after this one, so I'm trying to do super awesome the last three.

pant breathing. time almost out.

love you guyss sooo so so so much.

oh, i ate dinner with malachi and his wife and their beautiful baby, moses micheal mcgee. best name ever. love them all so much.

love, sister nad
allison mays: make sure you untag ALL ugly photos of me on facebook. thanks!! looove you!
trevor: had a dream, you owned a bread shop, and to get better business, you were having your employees standing like standing in the tiles so they looked like super tiny people. Gah, that is so hard to explain. Whatever, i'll tell you later. loooove you also.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 19, 2012 (Zhong Li)

Dear everyone,

Niels. For realz. Also, love reading your emails so much. I always feel suuuper inspired. Brobro, write me a poem. And a letter. Did you get that rad letter/card I sent you?

This week...

- family - saw Malachi McGee's baby for the first time. He's precious and I feel like he's full of the spirit. He's so cute. His name is Moses Michael McGee, which I feel is one of the greatest names of all time.

- recent convert Cai Jiemei, one of my besties/my Taiwan aunt took like 5 minutes teaching me how to say "qu", which means "to go" - a word I say all the time. But she told me that my pronounciation of that word makes it sound like I have a lisp or something. So funny. She was explaining to me how to put my tongue and pronounce it, so I kept trying to say it over and over. Chen Jiemei (old companion) was there, and started taking a video. Faj, you would love it. I'll show it to you when I get home.

- Yesterday we went to a rockin' stake conference! Elder Toronto and Elder Wilson of the 70 were there. My favorite was Sister Wilson's (his wife), talk on teaching our children to have faith. She had a list of a few things they did in their home to help their children grow up with faith:
1. Talk about the gospel in everyday conversation.
2. Ask them questions about how they and their friends react to situations or something. (this one I can't really remember)
3. Tell them the scripture stories, especially as they are going to bed at night. Help them realize who true heros are.
4. Her kids wanted her to give them foot rubs and back rubs at night, so she told them she would do it, as long as they talked to her the whole time. Faj, you'd love doing that one to Finn's feet.
5. Let them see you read and pray on your own (separate from family studies)
6. React with faith to challenges, and your kids will learn how to use faith to face challenges.
7. Be nice to the church members. Invite them over for dinner and fhe and help them when they need help. Never criticize or talk bad about other members, especially leaders.
8. When you're with your kids in nature, teach them to respect and love nature. Say things like, "Man, isn't God amazing? Look at that sunset!" The Faj Mahal was so good at teaching us to have love and respect for nature. Eternally grateful for that.

Elder Wilson mentioned how faith requires sacrifice. I love that. He also talked about how every effort we make is rewarded and every effort we put forth gives us more and more light. Every good choice gives us more light. Even though Kai is in a dark place right now, every good choice he makes and every effort he makes and every good influence in his life will give him light. I love that that is what the gospel is. It's light and everything good. I want everyone to be an active part of this church and gospel.

On the way home from the stake conference, I sat on the bus next to one of my favorite Taiwanese people, our mm leader's wife, Wu Jiemei. We chatted the whole time. I loved it. We talked about some of the trials in her life, and discussed faith and the gospel. I talked about Kai. She kept holding my hand. I love hanging out with her. I always learn so much from her. Whenever I'm with her, I'm like, "Tell me how you have so much faith!" "Tell me how I can love fasting and not want to die every time I fast." etc. I love chatting with her.

This last week, we also had a zone meeting and a training meeting with President Day. At the zone meeting, Elder Deal said, "It is a bondage to fear death." I think that's so profound. Another Elder talked about why we need to read the Book of Mormon daily until we die. He said "our memories get captured in these verses, on these pages." He talked about as we read it again and again, we remember revelation we've already received and we remember thoughts and feelings that are associated with certain verses. Every time I read a certain verse in 1 Nephi, I remember my mom and some personal revelation she received about that scripture and then shared with me years ago. I'm loving the Book of Mormon more and more. I am reading about Christ interacting with the people in 3rd Nephi and I love Him more. I love studying how He teaches and interacts with others. In some ways, I feel like I've never read the Book of Mormon before. It's cool.

Some investigator updates:

A super golden, beautiful girl showed up at the chapel on Sunday to go to stake conference with us. Faj, you have a student named Jason Ni in one of your classes, right? She's his best friend. (I know Jason from Zhubei.) Anyway, she has a bunch of member friends, and is so prepared. I talked to her on the bus ride there. She pretty much already keeps all the commandments. She said she pretty much believes this church is true. I gave her a Book of Mormon yesterday and we're meeting with her this week. She's sooo good.

A girl named Zhu An we've been meeting with for a long time. She's so cute and wonderful. She's doing really good, but is scared she can't keep all the commandments forever. She has been reading and praying. She said lately she has been getting a lot of feelings that she wants to get baptized. She has been feeling that the Book of Mormon is true. She's keeping the word of wisdom, even though she loves her tea, and seeing the blessings that come from it.

Xu family - we just met with the mom and son last week. But now the dad and one daughter have baptismal dates, as well. We're excited about them. We'll see how it goes.

Our LA, Ping, is doing sooo good. She's been to church every week since she came the first time. She's so funny and we LOVE hanging out with her. She had to RUN to catch the bus to stake conference. It was so funny and so stressful. If we call her aunt or say anything remotely referencing her age, she gets TICKED. It's hilarious.

I love you all so much. The gospel is the most important thing to me. I'm excited to follow the commandments more fully my whole life. I feel like before my mission, I was sometimes casual in keeping commandments, but I'm understanding more how important and wonderful commandments are.

Love, Sister Nad.

Celia: whew, finally! So glad to hear from you. Glad that you guys are all doing okay. How's the rest of your family? How's work? Yep, Steve and Ariel are in ny! You guys should hang out sometime.
Allison: thanks for your big update! love hearing about everything! oh, allison, IMPORTANT, ugly pictures of me are getting tagged on my facebook. UNTAG them pronto, please! thank you a million times! I think I sent you a letter a couple weeks ago - did you get it? Also, would you hair be like hombre? I'm not sure if I can picture what it would look like, BUT I 100% trust your style judgment (aka, sending you my pre-going-on-a-date pictures to get your approval). I bet it'd be so cute, and then you wouldn't have to keep it up at all, right? You could just cut it off later if you didn't like it.
Tara: Are you still in the wilderness?? I'm going to start writing you back today!
Erin: Did you get my letter?
Emily Brown: I love your emails. Every time you talk about your Russian members, I picture little old fair-skinned, smiling grandmas. I love the images I have of your mission.
Kjirsten: love you writing you today too.
Aunt Jeni: You're the best.
Aunt Bonnie: How are you?? Miss you.
Kimi: writteee meee. love you guys.
ALICIA HARRIS: I've been thinking about NAtive Americans lately. Did you get the letter I sent forever ago?
COURTNEY PETE: do you read this? I misssss you. Write me an udpate.

look at the grandpa/magnifying glass in the background
love metro pictures. aka armpit pictures.
Chen Jiemei - verina do you look at this? your sister wears scarves now!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012 (Zhongli)

Oh, man, I'm so excited about all these new little missionaries! Verina (Sister Chen's little sis and Niels' friend) got called to Taizhong, Taiwan! And Lydia, congratulations! Oh, man! I am SO excited for you. You are such a rockstar. Also, I need your home address. Niels, email Lydia, and get her address for me. Thanks!

I have been thinking lately about how we are truly all the same family. We are all children of our Heavenly Father. I know that that is true, but I'm starting to feel that it is true more and more. I've also been thinking about the end of the world (haha, sort of kidding, but also serious), and how we really do need to prepare the world for the second coming and do our best to purge the world of wickedness. Ha, that sounds extremist and scary, but missionary work is the best way to do it. Even when I'm tired or stressed about mission stuff or anything else going, every day I feel hugely grateful that I have this chance to be a full-time missionary.

This week we contacted an American outside of the church. (Contacting people from other countries other than Taiwan always feels so different. And sometimes scary.) We started talking to him about God and he wasn't sure if he believed in God or not. He talked about how he thinks God is maybe a woman. We testified that through the Book of Mormon, we can know exactly who God is and that He is a man, and because He is perfect, He has all the good qualities you can have. We testified of the Book of Mormon, and even though he wasn't interested, he did say that it seemed pretty clear-cut and straight forward. Read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. But, when we invited him to meet with missionaries, he said something that broke my heart a little bit: "You know guys, I'm 57 right now. I'm over this kind of thing." It was so sad and strange to see someone - a little human - who thinks he doesn't need God or that there's an age to be "over-God." To want to have nothing to do with someone so great and good and who loves us and knows us and desires greatness for us like we can't even begin to comprehend. I testified of God and that our message fits everyone, regardless of age and I told him even if he was 87, I'd still contact him. It's never too late to start believing in God and trying to figure out for yourself if He is real or not. And once you find out, oh man, how much greater is your life going to be!

We have had huge success with our dear Ping. She's the one who joined the church in New Jersey. She came to church last week for the first time (here) and loved it. She attended institute this week, came to church with us again on Sunday, and even went up to Taipei with us last night to attend a special meeting with Sister Reeves and Sister Cook of the General Relief Society and Young Women presidencies, respectively. Anyway, the meeting was awesome. They asked the congregation to raise their hand if they were first generation member, and it was pretty much everyone. It was super cool. I love these little Taiwanese people. They're so stalwart and wonderful.

We had temple training with all the sisters this week. Best ever. Loved seeing all the sisters and getting to eat with them and talk to all of them.

We've really been trying to talk to everyone, and just be better at getting to where we planned to contact and make sure we follow through with our plans and we've seen a lot of success from it. This week, we were at a Carrefour parking lot (just like a Shopko), and we talked to this woman and her son. We didn't talk to her very long, but she wanted us to come visit her and really wanted to set up with us. Then she came to her set up, brought her little boy. Said she really wanted to have Christianity in her life and set a baptismal date. Lately our mission president (by the way, love him!) has really been pushing for families. We've been seeing so many miracles as we've been trying to focus on finding families. (something I hated before my mission - the use of the word "miracles". Use it all the time now. Yeah, changing so much!) We also contacted someone walking outside of the church and we talked to him for like two seconds and we were like, "could we come visit you and your family sometime?" him: sure. Us: Sunday? him: sure. Us: 10? Him: sure. It was really cool, so we went to visit him and his family, a little unsure because it was such a fast contact. But, total miracle! It was him and his 16 year old daughter. He really wants her to join a Jesus church and she is really open to it as well. Her mom doesn't want her to just join any church, but to really feel like she believes that what she is learning is true. So happy she said that, because some churches will do mass baptisms, where just hundreds of people will get sprinkled with water and it counts as a baptism. But, we know that baptism is a sacred, holy ordinance, a literal covenant with God. Anyway, she was awesome and came to church for 2 hours on Sunday. She even participated in Sunday School. Also, my companion randomly called up this mom we met to invite her to church on Sunday. She and her little daughter totally came for all 3 hours and they totally liked it. Even her shy little girl went to Primary and had so much fun.

Sidenotes: the Elders have discovered my lazy eye. I told them how when I'm talking to Niels, he'll just be like, "Hey, I"m over here!" as he snaps his fingers at me. They loved that, and have loved telling me the same thing. Also, Elder Deal told me the other night, he was the "chapmaster." They knocked this door and Elder Deal (a new missionary), said, "Uh... What's my name?" to the guy. The guy started cracking up and was like, "Oh sucks to be you guys!" Then Elder Deal got doored as he was biking home. Ha, so good.

Oh, man, almost out of time.

Love you all so much. This church is true. Jesus is the Christ. Through Him we can be saved in every aspect. Heavenly Father lives and loves us.

Love, Sister Nad.

allison: I LOVE you. thanks for the update.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4, 2012 (Zhongli)

Dear everyone!

Since I just wrote on Wednesday, I feel like I have nothing to write now.

Also, my journal writing has been lacking because our house is a riot. Seriously, four of us girls live together (did you know I STILL live with Chen jiemei?? I love her so much and I'm glad we have a reputation for being together for 6 transfers now). So, every night we chat and crack up and rush to get to bed on time. Also, our house has two phones, but one line. So me and Chen jiemei think we are hilarious whenever we are talking to district or zone leaders. We are ALWAYS both on the phone. While Chen jiemei is talking, I whisper things in the background, like about what they're saying or say things like, "Go towards the light!" The elders get all creeped out and it is awesome!

This week we said bye to Cai Yin Ru, one of our besties. (She's scooter contact girl.) I recorded her telling a little bit about her conversion story and how she met missionaries. It's really cute. She's moving to Taizhong mission, (degrey, maybe you'll meet her!!), so we won't be able to meet with her anymore. She wants to get baptized down there so her family can attend, which is awesome. Also, she and that guy are totally hitting it off. Yeah, missionary work! I really love her and really miss her, but happy that she's so golden and loves the gospel so much. The gospel really has changed her life and views so much. She said before she met the gospel, she didn't want to have children because she felt the world was too scary, but now she really wants children because she feels like the gospel will totally help her have a happy, peaceful family. yeah, so cool!

This week in ward missionary meeting (one of my favorite things, for real!), we were talking about how we needed mini missionaries, because there's a couple areas they might have to close. Me and the elders started suggesting older women in our ward and our mm leader was taking it seriously: "Uhhhh... Yeah, maybe. Would she ride a bike?" Hilarious. We were cracking up.

Also, this week, our LA that we've been working with for a long time, Ping, came to church! Stoked! She's the new jersey one who hasn't been to church since she's been back here in Taiwan. She had a good time and totally made friends and loved it. We were so happy. I want to be better at helping LA's when I get home from my mission. I feel like they just need some extra love and encouragement and then they're totally willing to come back to church.

NIELS. Biggest rockstar missionary ever ever ever. i love reading your emails. You are so committed and dedicated to this work. Admire you so, so, so much.

Sorry, really, not that much happened. Oh, the pictures are just a bunch of missionary pictures. After we went to the temple, a bunch of us went out to eat together. My trainer goes home this week. Totally sad! She visited my ward yesterday and bore her testimony. Eternally grateful she was my companion - I seriously learn so much from her whenever I am with her.

I love you all so much. I love the gospel and I'm so, so, so, so grateful that the gospel is a part of my life, and becoming a bigger and more important part of my life.

Love, Sister Nad

Kimi: FINALLY! just kidding, bestie. But, thanks for the emails and I loved seeing little Liv and her black little nose. Cutest.
Ariel/steve: safe???
celia/benson: safe???
Josh and Dee: check last email for my shout-out! love you guys!
Allison: letter going in the mail for you today!
Allison: letter going in the mail for you today!

me and my trainer, wang jiemei. (top photo)
also, the picture of me with flower shirt and she's wearing a purple shirt is xin zhun, one of my very first investigators/baptisms from zhubei.

October 31, 2012 (Zhongli)

Dear all,

Sorry for not writing on Monday - our pday got changed to Wednesday so that we can go to the temple today. I need the temple right now. So stressed about new york and the east coast. Stressed about global warming. Stressed because I'M STAYING IN MY AREA ANOTHER TRANSFER. (dyyyyying.) Love the area, love the people, but you know, YOU KNOW. Stressed about other things. Anyway, so I'm grateful and excited I have the chance to go to the temple today.

Guess what? One of my all-time favorite Taiwan people, Wu jiemei was Mimi Warnick's trainer!! yeah, so cool! Her name is You Hua Li - mimi will totally know her! I'm going to write mimi about it, but tell Mimi that her husband is now the most strong, active member.

My poor ward has to have me for another transfer. Wu jiemei took us out for dinner because they thought I'd move, but nope! So, embarrassing, psyche!

Okay, this week we had the best baptism! Cai jiemei (also one of my favorite Taiwan people - gah, they're all my favorite!) and little Bo Yu, her 8 year old son got baptized. (Faj, her husband is from hong kong, so I feel like our missions are connecting a little bit.) Cai jiemei has waited forever to get baptized. She was so ready and the baptismal service was so lovely. We sang "I like to look for rainbows" as the opening song. Someone saved me from having to play the piano. I introduced Cai jiemei, emphasizing that since I've been here foreeevvver, I've gotten to know Cai jiemei really well. Then they had the baptism. Bo Yu had to get baptized twice because the first time his leg came up. We chatted with Cai Jiemei while she dried her hair (ps, I always try to let investigators have a moment alone in the bathroom after their baptism because I think it's probably a powerful, spiritual experience and also, because of your experience Ariel). Then we went back upstairs, Cai jiemei bore her testimony and ended by firmly declaring that she will endure to the end. Ooo, I get chills thinking about it. Bo Yu read his testimony in a monotone: "I'm so excited to keep coming to church every Sunday. I love learning about following Jesus' example." etc. I was cracking up.

I told you about how we met a hottie mchotterson that we are setting up with our investigator Yin Ru, right? Oh, man, they haven't had time to meet yet, but they've been corresponding, and Yin Ru loooves him - aka loves us more than ever! She already loved us, but every time she calls us, she expresses how grateful she is for the gospel, meeting missionaries, and meeting this new guy. And one day she'll thank me for encouraging to switch her little profile picture from a cat to a picture of her. haha! And she asks us questions about the temple and eternal marriage. Oh, she's so cute and funny. We love her. Bad news! She's moving to Taizhong soon. Degrey, maybe you'll meet her. So she's not getting baptized with us.

This week, we discovered a cockroach in Sister Crofts' luggage. Four girls living together plus flying cockroach equals so much screaming. I started recording them trying to catch it because it was hilarious. Showing you all the video when I get home. Everyone was freaking out. We were yelling louder and louder and louder.

In Sunday school, our recent convert, Qian jiemei bore her testimony about the spirit world. She said that she and her little boy chat every night before he goes to bed. So he was laying in bed and she was chatting with him, and he was like, "mama, I don't want you to get old. Because then you'll die and I don't want you to die." She said he was only five at the time, and he started crying. She didn't know what to tell him because she didn't really know what would happen. She said she told him, "Don't worry! I'm going to be pretty forever! I won't get all old and wrinkly. I'm not going to die!" But, she said it made her so sad because she didn't know. But, now she can tell him that even if she dies or something bad happens, it's all going to be okay because she's going to see him again and they'll live together forever in a really happy place. Precious. Telling people about the plan of salvation was a huge motivation for me to come on a mission. Also, I've been all stressed about the end of the world (Faj, are you cracking up? I'm serious) and the storm in new york, and I always tell our investigators how our lives aren't stable and things could change in two seconds, but our relationship with God won't change. He'll always be there, and that's why we need Him and we need to live the gospel. Some get it and some don't.

We've been meeting with an awesome LA, who got baptized in your mission, Niels. She has all these fliers for activities at the Morristown meeting house, and I think of you. Whenever we meet with Ping, we walk through crowded, scooter and pedestrian filled streets to find a little local place that Ping loves. Hot soup with pork, dou hua. Last week it was ice cream from a gas station. I love hanging out with Ping. She's wonderful and takes us to eat delicious food.

All right, I think this is what I've got for this week. Stay safe. I love you all more than I can even express.

I forgot a story. We went to zone conference and had to go out and find with a new companion. So me and Sister Laumatia got put together. We had this feeling to just go knock at this one house. So we did. Actually not even really a feeling - it was just something we did. Anyway, the woman there was interested in religion and had a lot of questions. She let us come in. Sister Laumatia offered a beautiful, sincere, humble prayer. The woman started crying and said she didn't know why she was crying but she felt so happy and so touched. She said no one had prayed for her before. Before the prayer, she was talking a lot and had a ton of questions. After the prayer, she was so still and calm. It was a powerful and awesome experience for me. And before we left the woman insisted on giving us persimmions. As she gave us the fruit, I could feel how grateful she was that we had prayed with her and for her. It was such a cool experience.

the pictures i just emailed:
us with investigator, jovi.
me and sister laumatia with our fruit.

Love, Natalie

Ariel, Steve, Celia, Bens, Annie, Yahya, Khalil - are you guys safe?? So stressed for all my new york and new jersey besties!
Ariel: thanks for the million emails and pictures. looooved them. Also, duh, cannot wait to visit you. Also, seriously, moving there when I graduate. So set on it.
Allison: Thank you tons for the rich updates on your life! I loved your emails!! Thanks for sending them. I will write soon!
Trevor: brobro
Emily Larsen: Are you getting these? thanks for the email. love you so much.
JOSH AND DEE: I love bananas so much I could die. Seriously, looove you guys and loved hearing from you! can't wait for dinner, kisses from landon, and will i get to hold lily by the time I get back??

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21, 2012 (Zhongli)

So many good things happened this week!

This week I went on exchanges in Tao Yuan - only been on exchanges there like seven million times because I've been here forever. But,I really do love this area. I love going on exchanges because I feel like I always learn so much from the other missionareis. I went with Sister Laumatia, who is awesome. We went to find a former investigator - an older woman. I was extremely exhausted that day and her house was super dim and super warm, so I was so drowsy. Felt my head jerk during the prayer. But perked up when she was talking about her health problems. We didn't understand a word she was saying - a medical condition - so she lifted her butt up and pointed at her butt, like it had something to do with her medical condition. so good!

We've been meeting with our recent convert Qian jiemei's little boy, Yun En. Oh, how I love him! He is precious and innocent and adorable. He's 8 and we've been having so much fun having lessons with him. I love that I've had this opportunity to teach children a lot lately. We taught him the sabbath day - we spread out a bunch of little things all over the floor and then he had 2 minutes to run and pick them all up and put them in a certain spot. We related it to how we get tired doing all the stuff we need to do and so on Sunday, we need time to rest. (did I already tell you about this lesson?) Anyway, it was awesome and him and his little sister Cherry collapsed on the floor after they were done. So cute and funny. Also Qian jiemei brought her pregnant friend and her little girl to church on Sunday. So cool. Made my heart soar! Also, Cai jiemei and her little boy Bo Yun are getting baptized on Saturday. I'm so stoked! Pray that everything will go smoothly, because I'm nervous a little bit!

On Friday, we were in Taipei doing temple tours. We gave a tour to this recent convert from Taizhong. He was super handsome and super cool. And we have this perfect investigator and we thought they'd be perfect together. So normally I wouldn't do this, especially as a missionary, but we told him about our investigator yin ru, got his contact information, and are totally setting them up, but we had to ask yin ru's permission first. Yin Ru is our investigator who is so classy and always wears beautiful clothing. Anyway, we talked to her and she was way into it and kept asking us if we were sure he was attractive - she didn't fully trust us. But yesterday she saw his picture on some facebook thingy and she thinks he's a dreamboat. And they're both super spiritual and awesome and she's from Taizhong, so it's all perfect. Also, I love her! (she's my cool scooter contact story one.) Anyway, so she is moving next to Taizhong next month, which is a bummer because she won't be here for her baptism, but she told me that when she moves there, she's taking a break from work, so she can really focus on learning the gospel, and then once she gets a job, she's going to make sure it's one that will allow her to always come to church and in the evenings can attend institute and english class. Wahhh, such a rockstar! Also, she said she used to be really depressed about some things going on, but since she's met the gospel, she feels way happier. So cool! The gospel is so cool, because it totally changes lives.

Friday night, we slept with the temple sisters in Taipei because on Saturday, we went to Xin Dian (part of Taipei) to attend a baptism for an investigator we share with those sisters. (lives ehre, goes to church there.) her name is Pei Hua and she's great. We love her.

Also, this week - super miracles with getting tons of new investigators in awesome ways. It was awesome.

Also, this week had some serious wardrobe malfunctions. Biking with a skirt and windy weather is the worst. Kept screaming because my skirt kept flying up.

In English class, I teach beginning English now, by the way. It's fun, but so far no good stories.

I love you all so much.

love, Natalie

October 8, 2012 (Zhongli)

This is a post Natalie sent today. It is from Oct. 8th and for some reason we didn't receive it then. However, the photos still did not show up. (Matt, aka The Faj)

Dearest everyone,

On Friday morning my stomach started feeling really weird and sickie, and so did Sister Crofts. We were being the worst contactors ever - moving really slow and talking really slow because we kept feeling like we were going to throw up. At dinner time we went home to rest and woke up still feeling so sick, so I called our mission mom and she told us to stay home. Good thing, because I threw up three times after I called her and felt like I was going to die. I think it was food poisioning. It was terrible. Being sick made me miss you, Faj and mom. Also, I am still needy when I am sick. Sister Crofts was making fun of me because when i was on the phone with Sister Chen telling her to buy stuff for me, I was like, "And make sure the bananas are fresh. If they have brown on them, I won't want to eat them." Also, our mm leader and his wife are so cute. I feel like they are my Taiwan parents. When I talked to Brother Wu (mm leader) on the phone, our conversation was like this:
him: "Cen jiemei (me)! Is it serious?"
me: no
him: do you have diarreah?
me: no
him: (a word in chinese I don't understand)
me: (making a throwing up noise) is that what you mean?
wife in the background: ask her if it's all the stuff in her stomach coming out her mouth!
him: repeats
me: yes
him: well, that's throwing up.

Anyway, I love how sometimes it's hard for us to understand each other and I think it's so precious how good of care they take of us. 

Other eventful things from this week - got the warbys! Thanks parents! I looove them, even though with my missionary style (aka no style) they sometimes look really dorkwad on me. But I do love them.

Yesterday at church I was sitting on the same row as Yi Qi, our 11 year old recent convert, and a blind grandma in our ward. During the hymn, Yi Qi was talking really loud, so i was about to turn to her and tell her to be quiet, but then I noticed that she was reading outloud the words to the song a line at a time so the woman could sing along. So precious - eyes welled up with tears for reals. Also, Yi Qi always helps her walk and get to her classes. It's seriously so precious. Also, during sacrament, tons of huge loud fireworks and firecrackers were going off. No clue why.

I know it's awesome that this mission gets fed all the time, but you guys, YOU GUYS. Dying DYING from how much we had to eat this week. We got fed so many meals this week. I know, I know, some missions never get fed and they're out finding in the cold all day every day, but seriously, this week was rough. So full. 

We have a few investigators that are doing really, really well. Yi Xuan (one of my dear friends here, because she's been our investigator since I moved here) is super ready for her baptism. And the ward is extra supportive of her because they've known her for so long and they really include her in everything. They've already been annoucing her baptism in relief society. We've still been working really hard on our lessons with her son. This week we taught him the gospel of Christ, and it wrapped twine all around the church to be Lehi's vision (yeah, included scriptures, book of mormon, and prophets with that one!) and then having him "endure to the end" by following the rod. Man, the things we do for him. We love him and his mom so much.

Another investigator is named Yin Ru. Man, she is so pretty and classy. I want to go shopping with her. She wears these delicate, beautiful pinks and cream lace, or she'll wear all black. She has bangs and reddish-wash dyed hair. And she's sooo golden! Super, super prepared and loves all the church lessons and she's just so wonderful. (She's the one amazing scooter contact girl.) We're trying to get this handsome young guy in our ward to fellowship her. Right, right??

Okay, I think that's about all I have for this week. Man, love you all so much. Really, you guys are huge examples of support and strength. When I think of you guys and my relationships with you and how blessed my life is, it makes me want to be a better and better missionary. 

Thanks for all the awesome support (aka letters!) Love you all!

love, sister nad.

Allison!!! Thanks for the big emails and pictures! I loved seeing and hearing about San Francisco- too fun. I'll write you in the next couple of weeks!!
Erin! I'm still writing you soon. I hope you have some dramatic roommate stories to share with me. yeahh, kidding.
Trev4: brobro.
Kjirsten: overjoyed to get your letter! i ate it up. writing you back soon!
kayla: thanks for your big letter. love you.
cousin anja: love you so much. excited to hang out with you in a few months!
aunt jenalicious: love love you. hawaii?

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012 (Zhongli)

This week we had such an epic baptism. It was the other sisters' investigators and it was held after English class - which was weird and awesome. For the spiritual part of the lesson, we're just like, "All right, everyone, let's go watch a baptism!" Anyway, so me and Sister Crofts are sitting up there as the baptism service is starting, and Elder Patrick, our beloved district leader, runs up and beckons for us to leave. We go downstairs and the baptismal font was empty - no water! This is a big deal, because a.) it had just barely been all the way filled up and b.) it had been filled with warm water, which there is not very much of and c.) takes like 45 minutes to fill up, and people would be coming down in like 20 or something. So we were trying to figure out how to fix it and we got the clever idea to grab the hose from outside, bring it in through the font window, so it's be filling up from two places. Anyway, it was a little frantic as we tried to get the font filled as fast as we could (with cold water), and I had a fun time hanging out in the font, because I had to hold the hose in through the window until the water got too deep. We prayed that everything would still go smoothly for the baptism and right before the people came into the room, Elder Deal checked the hose out of the window and she got baptized by immersion in one dip. Yeah for traumatic baptisms! 

Conference was the best, right? We biked as a big missionary bike pack (my favorite!) about an hour to Tao yuan, to watch conference at the stake center. When that one man (sorry forgot his name) testified of how children don't need baptism and the power of the Resurrection of the truth of it, I was overcome with the Spirit. I was so touched as he testified of the resurrection and I felt that the resurrection is a real thing and even though I sometimes wonder about it, I felt that I have no need to worry. He also testified that all the things the prophets have spoken concerning it are true. I'm so grateful for prophets and apostles. 

Oh, man, I can't think of anything else that happened this week....

Lately, I've been getting all bummed out on finding. Lately we have not been getting a lot of new investigators. Stressful. Last night, we were contacting on a busy street corner by a university and night market. I almost started crying because everyone rejected us and I thought about Jesus Christ, and how even though He is the Christ, people rejected Him too. And it's not even about getting rejected, I think missionaries get used to that (and Taiwan is the best, because people are so nice and often talk to us) as much as that I always want to be at the right place at the right time and sometimes I feel like I'm not being the best tool for the Lord. I know there are prepared people and there's got to be a ton of them, right? "Eternal life hangs in the balance", as Elder Holland says, but sometimes we don't find them. And I'm worried that I'm not as in-tune with the Spirit as I want and need to be. Anyway, I am doing good though. I'm grateful and feel honored and humbled and super loved by the Lord as He allows me to do His work. I only have like 6 months left on my mission, and I hope to still accomplish a lot. Even though I don't know what those things are. Yeah, goal setting - still a weakness!! Well, I love this gospel and I know that it is true. I'm so grateful for the ordinances, doctrines, and commandments that make up the church and gospel. This church, this gospel, is the best thing in the whole entire world. This week we met with one of our beloved investigators whose progress is really slow as far as missionary work goes, but I love working with her and her little family so much. Anyway, she was confused and perplexed at how we can have so much faith towards the future. We realized with her that that was the big difference between her and us. She doesn't have very much faith and we have a lot in comparison. And the difference is huge. But I always tell her that what we have - the faith, the happiness, the assurance of God's existence, etc. - is all completely attainable. 

Our all-knowing and all-loving Father in Heaven lets us learn line upon line, precept upon precept. Oh, also lately I made a decision. Because I worry easily, and I'm always worried about the future, despite what phase of life I'm in. But, the other day I decided I'm done worrying about the future. In my entire past, God has blessed me with soooo, so, so much, He has helped me have success and joy in all areas of my life, and in retrospect, there has never been any need to worry about anything. I'm trying to face the future with complete faith and confidence in God. He loves me, as He loves all of us. And He only wants the absolute best for us. I want everyone to come unto Christ, because it's the best life you'll live.

I love all of you so much. Thinking about all of you makes me want to be a better missionary. I've been too blessed.

Love, Sister Natalie Christensen

Niels- yeah, for realz cryptic email. I haven't finished the letter or sent it yet, so don't worry! Sending it in the near future!
Emily Brown - I'm already dying at your description of Russia. In love.
Lou- I love hearing from you!! Where is Hannah at school? When I get home, we're having a girl day when you're family is all out of town. I'm serious!
Kayler- got your letter. loooove you.
kjirst! loved hearing from you! cracking up in your letter.
trevor - look at me! not worrying so much!

[No photos were attached to this email; Natalie said that her email has been acting up]

pictures: Check out my zone leaders' ties!!
I LOVE THIS PICTURE. Fillin' up the font. Aka just doing the Lord's work.
Inside of a convenient store/mirror photo.
all of us sisters in the zone watching relief society conference together.
Taiwan - one day had all these beautiful taiwan flag streamers across the road.