Monday, March 26, 2012

March 25, 2012 (Zhongli-3)

Dearest family and friends,

Oh, how I love all of you!

Okay, this week was not super eventful (read: no dogs ate my skirt), so sorry if this email isn't the most exciting. But, speaking of dogs, now all the dogs here KNOW how terrified I am of them and try to bite me, sort of. We were contacting an old grandpa on the street, and his dog was with him. The dog kept trying to bite the dangly part of my glove. Yikes, so I took it off. But then he kept following me and was kind of nipping at my skirt. Then, yesterday, biking to church. Biked past a dog, starts trotting along side of me, gets a little closer, grows and sort of nips. Enough that it made me lift my legs up off my pedals, out of his reach.

Drinks here - divine. Have I told you about the hot ginger milk drink with fresh ginger shaved into and black tapioca? And this week, I had this drink - like chocolate milk (cold), with the black tapiocas and these white grain things. Obsessed.

I feel like we had a lot of contacting this week. At the start of my mission, I really hated contacting a lot. But I'm trying to like it more and more. And now sometimes I LOVE it, and sometimes it's still not my favorite. But I really am liking it more and more. Contacting is an interesting way to meet people - I approach random people and ask them things like, "Do you have any relgious beliefs? Do you believe in God? Do you believe you have a soul? What is your life purpose?" Aka, super personal things that I would normally never ask people. Also, pray with people on the streets all the time. At first, I thought that was like the most embarrassing thing ever, but now I'm totally over it. Anyway, this week I contacted a woman - she's a Christian (it blows my mind because Christians here usually think that all Christian churches are exactly the same, so it doesn't really matter which one you belong to, so normally you don't have any luck when you contact them). Anyway, I asked if I could pray with her and asked if there was a goal in her life she wants to accomplish. She started telling me about some problems she was having, and then when I prayed with her, she was crying (because of these problems.) She didn't want to give me her number at first, but she eventually did. It's interesting to meet someone for 3 minutes, and have such intimate moments with them. Within 2 minutes of knowing her, she told me her problems, we prayed together, I hugged her and got her phone number. Weird, right? But, cool. I don't know if anything will come out of it, but I'm often reminded that Heavenly Father is in charge and I'm doing HIS work. If He needs us to meet someone 100 times with no success, just to help lead that person in the right direction, then that's still good, and we're still doing His work. We also had some success knocking doors this week. This cute young grandma let us into her home (never happens!) and let us have a first lesson with her.

We met with an investigator this week - it was only my second time meeting with her. She believes prayer is like this weird power and talks about UFO's a lot. (I wish my vocabulary extended to "X-Files." But, she is awesome and prays daily and reads scriptures daily, but not the Book of Mormon. We always want our investigators to read the Book of Mormon everyday, but for some reason, that's usually a hard commitment for people to keep.

English class was great, as always. I brought my skirt for show-and-tell and told them that story. They looooved it. Then, I made them play sharades (I say "made them" because that's like my least favorite game of all time). They also hated/loved it. Theresa/Pong JM (one of our new investigators) was avoiding eye contact with me, but I called on her anyway (one of my favorite things to do), and she didn't want to come up, but her team was begging her to, so I told her I would give her a not embarrassing one. Haha, they were all so great. One of the cards said, "A dog tries to bite you while riding your bike" and they loved that one. For the spiritual thought, we introduced the Book of Mormon to them. They asked a lot of questions this week - like the titles of God and why we use Christ's name when we pray - they asked who we are really praying to. One of the men in my class asked Tsai Jiemei after class about how you get answers to prayers. I was stoked that he asked her, because normally he seems to have no interest in the gospel part.

Thanks so much for all your love, emails, letters and support. Love you all immensely!

Love,

Natalie

Shout-outs:

Aunt Rolayne! Thank you for your email!

Aunt Bonnie! Thank you for sending me Roylane's email!

Aunt Schlesa! Thanks for your little email. Have fun at the new mall!

Ariel! Gah, stressful. I will write you soooon.

Allison/Kimi: So jealous/excited that you are in Seattle together. Have so much fun and write me huge emails about the trip and send tons of photos.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 18, 2012 (Zhongli-2)


Li Yiqi with her mom and us at the baptism

Hey, everyone!

So, my cousin Kayla is engaged and brother Niels got his mission call to Morristown, New Jersey, Spanish speaking! I'm so excited for both of them, and also dying a little bit right now!

Guess what happened this week? Okay, so this week, we went to go meet with a new investigator and she lived kinda out in the boonies. Like, the place where we went, there were a bunch of people sitting out on their porches (there's no porches in the city), and there were 3 dogs. One was a terrifying beagle in a cage (he was going crazy - like ready to kill someone), one was a black dog on a chain, and one was this tan kinda big dog on no leash. They were all barking and kinda wild. So, as we were biking my the tan one runs up to my bike, gets really close to me, and then chomps! Bites my skirt and tears a huuge rip in it! You guys, terrifying! And hilarious! I let out a pathetic, soft "ahh!" and kept biking fast away. The owners started yelling at the dog, and I just booked it away. You guys! Could've been my thigh! Tsai Jiemei was cracking up, and my garments were totally showing! Luckily I had a clip, so I clipped my skirt closed for the rest of the bike ride home. The bike ride home, I was totally disheveled because my skirt kept gettting caught in my chain and the clip kept slipping, etc. So one time when I had to stop Tsai Jiemei didn't hear me yell after her. So, apparently this lady on a scooter (who I said hi to for 2 seconds at a stoplight - we contact every time we are stopped at a light) went up ahead to Tsai Jiemei and told her to stop. Anyway, we ended up having a lesson with her and she is now our new investigator! So probably meant to be that Freaky Chomper McChomperson bit my skirt! Heavenly Father really helped us meet our new investigator goal this week. When the week was almost over, we were so far from our goal, but then we were able to get a ton at the end of the week. Awesome!


Okay, English class this week. Ah, hilarious! So we played a game where they got in pairs and one was blindfolded and had to go through an obstacle course and the other one would give directions. So I paired up a really good speaker with an okay speaker, and most of the good speakers were the ones blindfolded. Ha! It was hilarious! I loved when the speakers would accidentally tell their person to keep walking straight and then they'd walk into the wall! Gah, I was cracking up. Another guy was doing these fast shuffle steps, and totally looked like he was in a computer game. So funny. After that, we taught a lesson on Lehi's dream of the tree of life and talked about how the gospel and the Holy Ghost give us stability and direction. It was awesome! When I was writing in my journal that night, I kept cracking up and Tsai Jiemei was like, "Your English class members definitely don't know how much happiness they bring you." Ha, for reals!

Oh, also! I taught the class some slang. And one thing I taught them was "bro" and "brobro" - shout out to Trev4 and Emily Brown. They thought Brobro was funny, even though I don't even think it's real American slang, and even though I can't really say it in true Trevor voice.

Our little 11-year-old, Li Yi Qi, got baptized this week. She was so cute and so happy and excited. She talked about how since she's started praying, she can really tell how Heavenly Father helps her life. Her mom wants to get baptized, as well, and will hopefully get baptized soon.

We had special training on how to use the Book of Mormon better in contacting and teaching which I am excited about. The Book of Mormon truly is so powerful, and Tsai Jiemei has been telling me how people really don't progress if they're not reading the Book of Mormon. I really love the Book of Mormon and know that it is true. At the beginning, Nephi talks about how everything he writes is true. I loved reading that and then chapter 11, where he sees Christ and testifies of Him. Wah, so cool. Love it so much.

Love you all so much! Thanks so much for all you do!

Love,

Natalie

Natalie with a little ward friend

Shout-outs:

Ariel! Loved your loooong email!! I will write you soon!! Slash sent you a letter the other day. Hope you get it soon!

Jessica Day! Love your cutie baby Daisy! Thanks so much for sending pics!

Celia! I still need your/your parents' address. I have a letter I haven't sent...

Kimster: Still waiting for that cutie Valentine's letter, hint hint. Miss you! (remember that?)

Allison! Hope master's thesising is going okay. You are a rockstar, for reals.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 11, 2012 (Zhongli)

Dearest family and friends,

I can't even tell you how much your emails and letters uplift me, encourage me, and make me want to be a better missionary and person. Thank you so much for them and for your support.

Because I now live closer to Taipei, we get to go to Taipei about 2 times a transfer to do temple tours. So, the Taipei temple is across the street from the mission home and right next to a big chapel/stake center = super mini temple square. It has a bunch of paintings in it and a video room, so we give tours of the church to people and explain the importance of the temple, etc. I am so excited to be able to do this, because you know I LOVE giving tours - especially of art and religious art - shout out to all my moa besties. So on Tuesday we went up to Taipei. It's kind of stressful because the night before doing it, the temple tour sisters (these missionaries are kind of like assistant to the president, except sisters) call us and tell us if there are any specific tours planned and what to share with them. Then we plan a few different tours - one for a non-member Christian, one for a non-Christian member, and one for a member/recent convert, etc. So, if we don't have tours scheduled then we just go out and find people and invite them to come and have tours with us. It was fun and super tiring - definitely had museum legs, you know, when you're in a museum all day and your legs feel like they're going to fall off? Love that feeling. Anyway, as we were walking to the temple, someone on a scooter called out to me, and it was a mini-missionary (like a one-transfer missionary from Taiwan), that I met last transfer and hung out with for a few hours. She had just finished her mission so I invited her and the boy she was with (a recent convert) to come do a temple tour with us. They came and we gave them a tour. It's a cool experience to be able to bear our testimonies and hear why they got baptized. They gave us a bunch of referrals, as well, which is always good. Most of the time was spent trying to find people to come and do tours, which is hard, because a lot of the people in the area around the temple have already been invited to do tours. Later in the afternoon, the elders brought in a man from Australia to do a tour, which meant we had to do it in English. Chinese is super hard, but I feel like my gospel-English is way awkward and since I've been learning how to say things in Chinese, I never know what to say in Chinese. Also, I think I'm not as bold when I'm talking in English. Isn't that so bad? I'm really trying to be better. Anyway, this tour was a good experience for me - the man had tons of super hard questions. And we couldn't answer all his questions. But he did say that he appreciated that we tried to answer all his questions and never ran away from his questions. He asked that if someone is a good person and lives their whole life well, do they need to have an organized religion? We answered yes, and explained the importance of the temple and the things we learn in the gospel that help us get back to Heavenly Father and live with our families forever.

It's so sad/frustrating sometimes to know that I have all this knowledge of truth, but sometimes no matter what I say, I can't help other people understand why it is important. Like, a lot of the Christian people here think that all Christian churches are the same. The other day, I talked to a Christian girl and told her reasons why our church was different, and in the end, she was just like, "Well, I also believe in Christ and pray, so it's all the same." or something like that. Wah. Contacting is so hard. I think I need to be better at following the Spirit and thank goodness for Preach My Gospel.

I got a little sick this week. I got better record-speed fast. Tsai Jiemei knew I was sick when I didn't want to eat anything. She knows how much I always love eating. I got a blessing that said cool things in it. The blessing of the Priesthood is a huge, big, invaluable blessing, and another reason why our Church is true and another reason I'm so grateful to have the gospel in my life.

This week, we have a little 11-year-old girl getting baptized and her mom should be getting baptized soon, as well. Her name is Yi Qi. She is so cute, and always gets kind of distracted and bouncy during lessons. A couple days ago we taught her the law of tithing. She totally recognizes that everything we have comes from God. We asked her if she only had 100 for food this week (not very much), would she still pay her tithing? She told us how she would ration her food to last through the week and that she would pay her tithing first because God is more important. We also asked what she'd do if she wanted to buy a cute thing and she said that she would save up for it and pay tithing first. She said life is more important than cute things. Her faith is so simple and so strong. She totally trusts Heavenly Father and all his commandments. We also told her how she can only give tithing to Bishop and counselors and she was like, "Idon'tknowwhothebishopisorhiscounselorsIdon'tknow!!" and threw her head back and slumped back in her chair. Ha, so cute and dramatic and bouncy. When she had her baptism interview yesterday, she was like, bouncing off the walls excited. So cute and funny. I told her baptism was coming up so fast, but she thinks this week waiting is forever long. Too cute.

Let me tell you about English class this week! My favorite! Okay, so this week, we talked about American manners, etiquette and food. I demonstrated different etiquette and then asked if it was okay to do that in America or not? And then we started talking about all the differences between Taiwan and America. This guy named Kevin who I love said, "Have you tried chicken butt? It is so crispy and so good." I started cracking up. And we played my favorite game, where I everyone has to give a person clues so they can guess a specific thing. So, this girl named Theresa/Pong (our new investigator)had the word BBQ and people were saying, "It is meat" and "It can be red" (she kept guessing ham), and then someone said it is an activity and she was like, "What?! You tell me it is food and then you change it to an activity?!" I was cracking up. I love calling on her because she always avoids eye contact with me and then when I call on her, she starts giggling and tries to get out of doing whatever I want her to do. So cute and so funny. Oh, and here, people a lot of the time squat on the ground when they sit, so I was trying to tell them we never do that in the States, but they didn't understand what I was trying to say and I was wearing a skirt so I couldn't demonstrate. So then Kevin was like, "Oh, I think I know what you're saying." And he squatted down and I was like, yeah, that's it! But then some people didn't see, so I tried to make him do it again, but he wouldn't. And it was so funny and kind of awkward, and we were cracking up. Oh, also Kevin was trying to explain s'mores to them because he thinks they are weird and they had never heard of them before, and he was trying to explain what a marshmallow is and it was just so funny. Wow, sorry, I"m being so spastic because my time is almost up.

For English spiritual thought, we taught about the Holy Ghost - we compared it to the patronus spell in Harry Potter - you can cast off dementors, or bad thoughts, by using a patronus/the Holy Ghost. (Tsai's jiemei's brilliant idea.) It was awesome. Hopefully they loved it. I'm getting a little bit better at contacting after English class. Even though when I asked Theresa to meet with us, she thought I was asking her if she wanted to work for us. I think that maybe freaked her out a little bit.

I never know what to say about investigators because I don't want to say anything too personal. I'm still trying to figure out this area and the people in this area. I'm getting way better at remembering Chinese names, which I am so happy about! It's so hard to remember their names. A lot of people here have Buddhist background - actually almost everyone does, I would say. A lot of people will claim Buddhism, even though they don't really practice it. So, a lot of times this is a problem investigators have is that they believe this religion, or they believe in many gods - can't accept just one God, or their family won't allow them to join the church because of their Buddhist background. It's definitely something new for me and a religious background I am not used to.

Love you all so much I can't even stand it!

Ps, my english class wants to learn slang. Help me! And any more english class ideas/games or even current event things would be greatly appreciated !

Love,

Natalie

Shout-outs:

Emily Larsen! Wah!!! Berlin, Germany?! You're gonna be so great! I have so much to tell you!!! I'll respond to you soooon. Also, your letter was so funny - thanks for moa and provo deets. Wanted to cry (in a good way) seeing all you moa cuties dressed up all frenchie. And Christian's turtles! Wah, so funny. I will write soon.

Rena!! Thank you for your letter and the cool conversion story! Wah, you are awesome. You'll be such a good missionary.

Grandma! Thank you for your letter! Love you so much! I will write you soon!!

Kimi - Thank you for your letter! I'm glad you like my letters! Livy - gets cuter and cuter every day! Thanks for your English class ideas! will write soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Dear family and friends,

I LOVE my new area Zhong Li. It is a bigger city and more busy and bustling than Zhubei. And I LOVE my new companion - her name is Sister Tsai. She is also from Taiwan. I've been so lucky with companions! The other day, a member told us that we matched and I was like, "Like our clothes? The way we talk?" And she was like "No, your souls." Ha, so precious! I love Sister Tsai because she is a totally rockstar missionary and I can talk to her about everything - like my fears that we'll have to wear white in the Celestial Kingdom and not be able to eat or sleep. Ha. The members here have been so welcoming and so kind.

We have a lot of investigators here as well and I still haven't met a bunch of them. Everyone has been busy this week, so that means that we've been doing a ton of contacting all week. My favorite. Just kidding, I'm liking it more and more. This week, we tried to think of something to make contacting more fun. But we didn't really come up with anything. However, a bunch of little funny contacting things happened this week.

We were talking to this one lady outside of her house who was blowdrying her little dog and she had another dog (a beagle) that was continually jumping up on me. I would kind of gently push him down and then he'd immediately jump on me again. So then I tried discreetly stepping on his leash so that he would stop, but I think it made him mad, so I had to stop doing that. I started talking to another lady outside of 7-11 and she was so happy to be talking to me, and started singing me a song about Jesus that she learned when she was little. Ha, hilarious. I was talking to this guy who got all busy and stressed when he realized I was a missionary, but he still gave me his number and he wrote down his English name "Enix", but told me it was pronounced "Anus." Oh, man, trying so hard not to crack up. Oh, and we received a referral for a guy who's English name is Tiny Yu. Ha, so great.

English class = hilarious. There were a bunch of people in my class - like 8 or something. I don't even know how to describe the funniness of it. There were a few people who's English was awesome and then these 2 little kids, whose English wasn't as good. Anyway, so I was having them play 2 truths and a lie (ps, does anyone have ideas of games or other things for English class - seriously running out of ideas!) and the little boy was like (he's like 12 or younger), "Okay, I can drive a car..." And the class was busting up! Like, everyone was cracking up, and I was trying so hard not to laugh too hard because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. And then later, he went again and said, "I can drive an airplane..." Ha, so funny. Tsai Jiemei told me that his mom put her kids into our class because she heard us laughing in there (before he got there) and so she thought our class seemed more fun. Ha, true.

Oh, also my childhood friend is in my ward here. So weird!

Also, Zhong Li has an awesome night market every night. I love it. I will try to take pictures soon.

Pictures are all from Zhubei - my last Sunday and Xin Zhun's baptism.

Love you all dearly!

Love,

Natalie

Shout-outs:

Allison - thank you for that long email. Loved it! I wrote a letter, and will send it this week!

Celia - I still neeeed your address. Send it to me asap!






February 26, 2012

Hi!

Once again, no time this week, because guess what?! I am getting transferred! I am pretty shocked because I thought for sure Sister Wang and I would be together for 2 transfers, with the new training program and everything. But, I am going to Zhong Li, not too far from where I am - I went there once for a few hours, but didn't really see anything. It's supposed to be a bigger city. My new comp is Sister Cai, also a native. Awesome! I've met her a couple times and I really like her. I am super sad to leave Zhubei - I adore the members and people here. I even kind of like the hills. But, it will be fun to go somewhere new. It was sad saying goodbye to some of the members and some of our investigators. Wah. One of our investigator's names is Coca (her english name) and she is so cute and funny. Like, she'll pat my arm, and she accidentally pats really hard. It's so funny. We asked her in a lesson why she thought so-and-so was getting baptized and she said, "Because it's really fun?" Ha, she's so funny.

We had to go to Taipei like 17 times this week, actually like 4. (It takes 2 hours on train, each way.) So, on Friday we went to pick up Sister Wang's new comp - she is training again. Her name is Sister Ruan, and she is so cute I could die. She has this adorable little voice, and her English/Chinese accent is the cutest. She bikes slow, like me, and she was telling me how she didn't want me to leave because then she'll have to keep up with Sister Wang. Sister Wang said something about how her body would be healthier and she yelled out, "Noooo! I don't want health!" Or something. Ha, she is so funny and great. She reminds me of cousin Kjirsten, and then I found out she wants to sell essential oils for a living. Totally Kjirsten-esque.

Over the past couple of days, I have felt like my Chinese has progressed a bit - like I can actually see progression for once. I feel like I'm remembering more words, etc. Listening - still impossible for me. But hopefully getting better.

This Saturday, Xin Zhun, one of our investigators got baptized. I'm glad I was able to be here for it. My favorite things about her baptismal service:

- the little boy laying down on his side, his head propped up with his hand, right in front of the baptismal font. Ha, so funny!

- Xin Zhun's peace sign, as she came up out of the water.

- Me singing a mormon pop song, translated into Chinese with the young women.

- Xin Zhun's moccasin boots with her white baptism clothes. So cute.

Last week, we went to the Taipei temple and hung out with missionaries. I love Taipei! Such a cool, fun city. Another day last week, I went to Taipei to have a special training for new missionaries = so much fun. I got to see all my MTC buddies, including Sister Winters who came all the way from Hua Lian, and it was just so fun. Especially because at the start of my mission (it's getting better), I felt like I couldn't really be myself because I just feel like this little baby in a new place, so hanging out with all my MTC buddies who laugh at all my jokes (Sister Winters, mostly) was awesome.

Oh, last week, we taught this really old couple - hilarious. We had to yell our testimonies, yell our prayers, etc. And in Chinese culture, someone offers you something and you refuse it a couple times before you accept it. Well, they offered us tea and coffee, and even though Wang Jiemei was yelling that we really couldn't drink it, they were pouring up cups and giving it to us. Finally, we got the point across and then later in the lesson, Wang Jiemei took a drink of her own water bottle, and the whole process started all over again, of them trying to offer us their drinks. Wah, so funny. Trying so hard not to laugh.

All right, sorry this is kind of short and no pictures. Hopefully I'll have more time next week.

Love you all so much!

Love,

Natalie

Shout-outs:

Kimi- what was that?? You apologized for writing too much?! Cha right, can't get enough! I will write back to you soon but I LOVE YOUR HAIR. You look retro and cute. And all your pictures! Wah, love you so much. Is Landy going to DC for his internship? Wah, what a superstar!

Caitlin- thank you! That chocolate is seriously the BEST I have ever had in my life. Wah, so good.

Nicole - your letter was hilar. Thanks!!