Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 30, 2012 (Zhongli-8)

Dear Big House, (When Chinese people say everyone, it translates to big house. Cute, right?)
[actually a better translation is "big family."]

This week has been so good. This week we had a special missionary meeting with Elder Gong from the 70, and his wife and President and his wife. It was so good. We talked a lot of Joseph Smith and the First Vision and when Elder Gong recited the words of Joseph Smith from the first vision, the Spirit was so strong - it was like you could feel a tangible power of light and goodness in the room. This work is so true. The gospel is so true. Joseph Smith really is a prophet of God. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us, watch over us, and guide this work. I know these things are true and I want everyone to be able to know, because this is the only way to have true happiness and live with our families again after we die. I love telling people they can see their families after they die - it's the best thing ever. My love for God has grown so much, and I feel like I understand His love for me a little bit more.

This week was totally miracle week and really developed my faith in and testimony of God. By Saturday, we still hadn't met tons of our goals. For example, we had 6 member present lessons and needed to get 7 more to hit our goals for the week. So we were kind of bummed, but just set our goals really high for Sunday, and we totally met all of our goals! It was seriously so amazing. We had 11 people at church, which was a ton! People came who we didn't even expect, 2 English class students randomly came, and a new member brought his awesome friend, etc. So we had member-present lessons like crazy yesterday with all this people and amazingly hit all these goals in one day. It was so cool, especially because we didn't do anything - it was all Heavenly Father. Ahhh, this church is so true and it's so important for people to know it.

Me and Sister Chen have developed a bad habit of occasionally cracking up in lessons - one time during a prayer and occasionally during hyms. (The time during the prayer was with our golden investigator, Dong Jiemei, and she started cracking up, too.) It's terrible! We're so stressed about it! We don't even know what it is. Oh, and we taught Dong Jiemei the Law of Chastity this week, and our Chinese was so painfully slow, so our member was probably dying, so she just took over the lesson. Haha. Oh, and perfect example of how Chinese people don't understand sarcasm: When we taught Dong Jiemei the ten commandments, she read, "Thou shalt not kill" and I was like, "Now, we know you have a problem with this one." And it was way awkward, poor Dong Jiemei was just quiet and looked down at her scriptures, like she was confused, and we were like, "kidding! kidding!" And even the member was a little confused, too, we think and then the member was like, "Oh, they were joking! That was just a joke!" Ahh, so awkward and so hilarious.

This week we contacted this awesome man named Fred, and this week we had a lesson with him and his wife and his daughter at their ice cream/delicious treat store. Love having investigators who own an ice cream store. They treated us to divine black sesame ice cream. So good.

I love you all so much and hope everything is going well for all of you. Thanks for your love, support and prayers.

Also, this week me and Sister Chen hit our one-year-left-in-taiwan mark. Weird.

Love, Natalie

Celia: thank you for your long email! I loved hearing mission experiences and thank you so much for the good advice. I love you so much!
Analyn: I got your awesome letter and can't wait to write you back! So happy about Andrew! I'm really excited for you guys.

The pictures of us with yellow things on our heads are actually really funny. It was raining, and me and Chen Jiemei are terrified of acid rain + balding, so we only had that one rain thing and we both put it on our heads, not even trying to be funny, and then we realized it was the most hilarious/embarrassing thing in the world. We were laughing so hard and so self-conscious.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The theme for this week: Helmets and Raincoats (Zhongli-7)

This week was so good. I love hanging out with Sister Chen so much! We really have so much fun together.

English class this week, I had them play, "Do you love your neighbor"? And I was cracking up because one guy's english is really energetic, like fast bursts of words. I can't explain it. Anyway, he'd be like, "I love .... everyone... they is WEARING... A ... RED SHIRT!!", and as he is stumbling words out, he'd get closer to the one person wearing a red shirt, but everyone would be like, "Huh?!" So funny. I was cracking up. He's so cute. They're English really is so good.

This week we had tons of fun adventures, including an EARTHQUAKE. It was little, but lasted like 10 seconds, we think. While were in our 9th floor apartment during companion study. Exciting.

Taiwan people = nicest ever ever. This week, we tried to visit a Relief Society President during lunch so we could discuss people who need help in the ward. And she lives far away. And we were a little unsure how to get there, actually really unsure. So while we were stopped at this light, looking at our map, this guy asked where we were going, so we told him. And then this other man on a scooter, was just like, "Hey, you can just follow me; I'll take you there." (In the states I would never follow some random scooter man, ob.v., but here people are so nice and not potential kidnappers.) anyway, so we followed him all the way to her neighborhood and then before he left, he gave us this big 16 pack of pudding. What?! So nice. Then later that night, a ward member called us and Chen Jiemei had a stressful phone conversation because she was just yelling telling us to go to the night market, so we ran over there really quick. And she loaded us up with cakes, bread, and these gushy gummie things (oh, my the gummy texture things here, aka everything they eat, too die for!) Anyway, people here - way too nice.

Okay, we have a super golden, wonderful investigator named Dong Jiemei. Oh, man, she's so good. In the short time we've been meeting with her, she has progressed so much. She has totally been reading the Book of Mormon, and marked tons of things in it. And she's just so good - she doesn't even want to pray to know if things are true, because she says she already knows. (We told her to still pray about it to strengthen her testimony.) But, she's so humble and child-like and just so good. She's been telling us taht her son also really wants to meet with us and get baptized, but he's so busy, literally has no time. But then this week, he met with elders and also started reading the Book of Mormon. Dong JM called us the next day and whenever we see her, she says she is "so-so" or "same old, same old". But this day she called us and told us how happy she is and that her and her son are already having better relationships and it's all because of Heavenly Father and His influence in their life. Ahhh, so great. A mission gets hard and discouraging and tons of people reject you, but then you meet golden people who really want the gospel, and you get to see people change and their lives change because of the true gospel and the Book of Mormon and it makes everything worth it (including mosquito bite scars, weight gain, etc.) Also, another cool thing about a mission is that I just feel so much more love and charity than I have in my life. I feel like my investigators are my kids almost, we worry about them and care about them so much.

Yesterday, we met with our cutie 17-year-old investigator who is getting baptized really soon. And she's so good - like such a hard worker, works all the time (I think has kind of a hard family situation), and is always super tired, but always comes to church and keeps all the commandments, etc. Yesterday she told us she didn't want to get baptized anymore. Our hearts just about broke and we asked her why, and she said she was tired and didn't know if she could keep keeping all the commandments, etc. We talked about through baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost, she would have more strength and power. Oh, and she also said sometimes she didn't feel like Heavenly Father is a loving God. So I felt like I should tell her about my mom's accident and as soon as I started talking, I started crying. (Doing tones while crying = impossible.) But, it was good, because I really felt like the Spirit was guiding me and my words and what I said. I talked about how we all have agency, and God could have stopped that man from hitting my mom, but He didn't because we have agency and He understands things we don't. So I was able to bear testimony of God's love for us, even when things are hard and we have trials. And that our highest goal is living with God and our families again, and so we'll do anything to be able to live with Him and our families again. Anyway, she's so good and really has such a strong testimony and at the end of our lesson was talking about how she wants her friend to be able to just believe in God. Anyway, she says she still wants to get baptized, so we'll keep working with her.

Last night during a lesson, Chen JM chose to sing "Let us oft speak kind words" (no clue why, weird song) and singing it without piano, so we started getting way off tune and then we were cracking up, like could NOT stop laughing, and still trying to sing, so it just sounded so ugly. Thankfully, our investigator started laughing too. So we had a little bonding with her.

All right, love you all. Brothers, write me better and longer letters.

Love, Natalie

Ps, pictures, probably self-explanatory. Elevator picture - at the end of the day, we always look terrible, esp with raincoats and helmets and carrying tons of stuff.

Emily Brown! I love you and I got your letter and music, which I am IN LOVE WITH. And congrats on mission call - RUSSIA! Ahhh, Russian so beautiful. You'll be so good.
Allison! Good luck with thesis-ing. You're so great!
Ariel! Wah, loved your loong email. Thank you! I'll write you back asap.
Emily Larson! Miss you.
Celia! Got your emai, thank you!! I sent a letter to you, via my family. Maybe call Niels and make sure you get it.
Erin! Did you get my letter?
Tara Jibster! Did you get my letter?
Love you all so much!
Cousin Addison: Write me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 15, 2012, Rockin' Zhongli (Zhongli-6)

So many great things happened this week. First of all, I LOVE Sister Chen. Seriously, we have way too much fun together. We are always cracking up.

We had lots of getting lost and lots of consulting our all-in-Chinese map, which Sister Chen can kind of read. One day we biked forever, trying to get to this one park and it was so hot and we finally got to the park and there were only like ten people there. And that day, we had really high goals because we were just contacting all day. But the day was just going to slow and we weren't meeting any goals. But, then that night it amazingly picked up. We went to the University area and it was miracle city! So many people talked with us and we got a few potentials. Then after that, we went knocking. I feel like sometimes knocking doesn't give very much success, but I still think it's important because it's a different dynamic of people. So, like the second house I knocked on, this guy - a dad - came out. His daughter was standing away from us on the doorstep, so the dad didn't have interest - he left while I was in mid-sentence, and sent his 13-year-old daughter out to talk to me. And then the 17-year-old son came out, too. We had a quick lesson and they totally had interest. Last night, we visited them again and the lesson went awesome! The Spirit was totally there (I'm realizing more and more that if they can't feel the Spirit, there's hardly any reason they'll want to meet again) and they both set baptizmal dates. It was so great. I feel so bi-polar on a mission. One second, we're having no success and I'm like, "Ah, man!" and then an hour later, we meet someone awesome and I'm totally stoked.

We also have an awesome new investigator, who has two little boys. Her name is Gu Jiemei. Our other new investigator is named Dong Jiemei and she is so childlike and sweet and has such strong desires to do good. Another one (Zong Si Ying) is preparing to be baptized in a couple weeks. Things are going really good here.

We also did temple tours this week, which I absolutely love. (Shout-out to MOA friends, this is totally making me a better future MOA tour giver.) The Spirit at the temple chapel is always super strong, and people can feel it as soon as they walk in. When they walk in the church, they sort of let a little breath out, like they can just feel the Spirit. Our tours were so awesome. We met with one sharp young guy who was just interested to learn about the church and what we believe but didn't want to meet with missionaries. We found out that his dad had recently died and he really misses him, so we geared our whole tour around eternal families and temple and it was awesome. He started crying and talked about how much he misses his dad, and I loved being able to testify that we really will see our familes again. After the tour, he was totally willing to meet with missionaries. The only fail was when we showed this little family a pioneer video that had nothing to do with our tour, and it ultra confused them. "Wait, so those three men started your church?" and "What did that old guy have to do with these pioneers?" Ah, stressful and kind of funny.

Also, this week while stopped at a light, I was contacting a guy on a scooter with his two little kids. After talking for a couple seconds, he started trying to give me 300 dollars and telling me to go buy a duck from this roadside stand. (There are road side stands all around, with a ton of whole cooked ducks hanging up.) So I was vehemently protesting, "No no no no!" And then he pulled his scooter over, went and bought a duck, and then gave it to us. And then drove away. We were like, "whaaat?" So funny. Then we got to our investigator's house and Wu Jiemei, a sister from the ward had arrived and were like, "Guess what just happened?!" And tried telling her, but we were talking fast and didn't know the word for duck, so Sister Chen was making duck noises and Wu Jiemei thought we had a live duck in my bike and it was just so funny.

Yesterday I was contacting this man and Sister Chen came up to meet him and she started to go shake his hand and say, "Can I...?" And trailed off, (because she doesn't know how to say that) while reaching her hand towards his hand. But then he didn't shake her hand, so she kept inching her hand forward until she forced his flattened-holding-phamplet hand to do a fist pump with her. So hilarious and so awkward. I've been imitating her doing that since it happened. Cracking up every time.

Oh, we had dinner with an investigator this week, and it was so stressful because she was talking in so much fast Chinese. Chen Jiemei was trying not to crack up at how pant breathy I was getting. It was like this, "Oh, are you used to soup in Taiwan? What do you eat in America? Beef? BEEF? Do you eat tons of beef in America? Help yourselves!!!", while piling food on our plates and telling us to try something, while something else is in our mouth. So funny.

We also ate so much delicious food this week. I'll tell you more about delicious food later. Sister Chen and I both love to eat too much - it's bad. We made a resolution that we are no longer allowed to say, "If you eat it, I'll eat it." We always say that to each other, and then end up eating everything. So funny. I love her so much.

Okay, I'm peacing out. The church is true. heavenly Father loves all of us so much. Looove you all so much I can't even stand it.

Love, Natalie

Pictures! Picture of me with Chinese woman and man is Sister Wu and her husband. We are really close to her and her husband is our MM leader. There is a picture of cars, and if you look close, it's me talking to a scooter boy about the gospel. There is a picture of me and Sister Chen with some people and I"m holding a bag - you better believe there is a free duck in that bag! I think I put a picture of me and Sister Chen eating chocolate cake and me with a blank progress record. Oh, that pic of the dummy - they use those creepy dummy things on construction sites and they freak me out.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 8, 2012 (Zhongli-5) Scariest News in the World

Natalie and companion Sister Tsai

Okay, ready for the biggest/most terrifying news of the century?

President Grimley called me on move call day and said, "Sister Christensen, are you sitting down?"

I was like, "Yeah..."

And he was like, "You should be..." And he was kinda stalling, so I was like, "president Grimley! I'm nervous, hurry and talk!"

And he said, "Do you know a sister Victoria Chen?" (We started our missions together and her little sister and Niels are good friends.)

I told him I loved her and then he was like, "Good! She's coming to ZhongLi and you are both going to be co-senior companions."

So I was confused, thinking there was going to be another missionary coming along, as well, and so I asked President Grimley who else was coming and he was like, "Wait, what do you mean?" And I was like, "Oh! Like, just me and Sister Chen, senior companions?" And he was like, "Yes!"

You guys, YOU GUYS, terrified. Sister Chen is an American Taiwanese. Her parents stopped speaking Chinese to her when she was little so that'd she would know English. She's taken some Chinese in college and I'm for sure banking on her Chinese being better than mine, but we're still like brand new baby missionaries. I feel kind of freaked out, but also really good. I love Sister Chen and I know she is a rockstar missionary. While I was watching conference, I had the thought that my faith needs to be in Jesus Christ, not in Sister Chen's Chinese being better or in the investigators liking me as much as Tsai Jiemei, etc. Sometimes I get all fearful instead of faithful, like when I was pouring over the all Chinese map (aka, I cannot read anything on it) of ZhongLi with Tsai Jiemei last night or when our investigators tell Tsai Jiemei, "Oh, no! Who will help me get baptized now that you are leaving?!" (Seriously guys? C'mon. Just kidding.) I mostly feel good (even though I sorta feel like this will be a glorified MTC experience, ha) and I definitely know that this is what Heavenly Father wants me to do and if He trusts me and Sister Chen, then we can totally do it. I know this will be a huge time of learning and growth for me. Plus, this last week, we've had a ton of awesome people. An English class referral who already wants to get baptized and didn't understand the point of having lessons with us because she already knows she wants to get baptized. A woman who came to general conference with her two little boys - she is still a mystery to me. She said elders invited her, but it wasn't any of our elders. We're meeting with her this week. And a couple good people from contacting, who will maybe hopefully become our investigators. Heavenly Father is definitely watching out for me. I know this will be a time of immense growth and learning, and I'm excited for the tutelage I am getting/will continue to get from on high. But, with all that being said, pray really hard for me 'cause I'm still pant-breathing over all of it.

Speaking of General Conference, I'm happy to announce that the your team/my team game was alive and well here in Taiwan. While watching the young women conference, there was a choir of all young women. Tsai Jiemei leaned over to me, and said, "They're all on my team." Then one cute girl was fixing her shirt really noticeably while the camera was on her, and Tsai Jiemei leaned over to me and said, "She is your team." Haha! And the elders loved it as well, and kept exchanged glances with me as the camera would pan. Too good. And in my English class last week, I talked about prophets and general conference and invited them to come. This man named Bill totally came to Taoyuan (a neighboring city kinda far away) and ZhongLi to watch conference. Awesome!

We met a cute man and his family a couple weeks ago while knocking doors, and we still haven't had a lesson, but we've dropped by a couple times. His wife just had a baby (#4) and she is at her parents' now with the baby for like a month, so he's a lone parent right now. We dropped by last night to set up an appointment or hopefully teach a lesson, but we ended up going in and helping him clean the kitchen because he was trying to get it all cleaned up. It was just so fun and I was so happy last night. Proves that you're happy when you're serving. Hopefully him and his cutie family will become our investigators, as well. Oh, and we found out he is actually our church member. The details are a little fuzzy, but he said he got baptized because he accepts all Gods, so figures he should accept an American God, as well. We'll definitely talk to him about that and try to help him understand.

This week for English class (we had a ton of people come), and I made them play this game like telephone, except that every other person had to act something out. (Totally just love making them act things out.) They were all confused, because I was also confused and at one point, a man yelled out, "Confusion!" ha! So they finally got it and we played the game, and after I was like, "I know you all hate me for making you act things out, but it was fun right?" and they were all like, "Yeah, that was really fun! Where did you learn that game?" I said, "I sort of made it up." And this one guy was like, "You are a genius!" Ha, so good.

All right, I think that's all for this week. Love you all so much.




Celia, I wrote you a letter, but I still don't have your address, so I sent it to my parents. Let me know when you get it.

Tara! I got your beautiful letter - all the missionaries were obsessing over how cool/beautiful it is (I mean, wax seal and everything!) I also wrote you back! So hopefully this weekish you'll get a letter from me. Love you so much!

Mariko! Mariko! Yes! I loved hearing from you!! Harrison looks so much like Austin - so cutester! Love you!

Kimi and Analyn and Kristin Petersen: Got your letters, but haven't read them yet. Today I will! Can't wait! Thanks for sending. Love you all.

Ling Yiqi

Sister Tsai with investigators

Our investigator Zong Siying and her friend

Members and investigators

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012 (Zhongli-4)

Beloved family and friends,

This week we had a lesson with one of our investigators who has a problem with the word of wisdom. Last time when we taught it, she was like, no way, there is absolutely no way I can't drink tea and that tea is equal to air for her. So when we met with her again, we encouraged her and talked about faith and blessings that come from keeping commandments. She said she understands, but still no way. So then we knelt down to say a closing prayer, but she didn't say anything. She just started saying her own prayer and stayed on her knees for thirty minutes! And that tile was hard and cold; I had to change positions like 14 times, but she just stayed on her knees. When she finished, she said, "Okay, I'll try and do it." We were stoked. Unfortunately, she has drinken tea since then, but I do think her desire to follow is stronger and we'll keep working with her.

This week I had exchanges in Taoyuan, which was fun and we knocked on a door and had a first lesson with an awesome lady and her son.

This week we also went to Taipei to do temple tours. Temple tours is like the most tiring day ever, but also awesome. I really love being in the temple chapel. There is tons of art work and it just has a more sacred feeling, I think. Luckily, we ended up having tons of tours, which is awesome. If we don't have tours, then we are finding all day long and trying to get people to come. We had a bunch of awesome tours. The elders brought their investigator who has missed her baptism date. At the end of our tour, we talked about baptism and Tsai Jiemei bore a powerful testimony and the woman was like, "Yeah, I really do know all of this is so true and I will work hard to get baptized." It was cool. Tsai Jiemei can connect to people so well. She was Buddhist before getting baptized, so she always tells people. A lot of peole say, "Sorry, Buddhist, not interested." And Tsai Jiemei can bear her experience, and a lot of people listen to her. She is awesome. We also had a tour with this cutie kind of old couple from another part of Taiwan. They were really in awe of the temple and the grounds and willingly had a tour with us. We gave another tour to another one of the elder's investigator, and afterwards, he sat on the temple grounds and read the Book of Mormon for like an hour! Wah. And our wonderful mission president brought us a bag of these delicious little orange fruits called pi pa.

This week, we had a lesson with our investigator, her sister, her sister's little 3 year old boy, and their little fluffy brown poodle named Baby. This is how the lesson went from my point of view:

Little boy banging the tile floor and/or coffee table with a hammer, hard. So loud.

Baby runs up to Boy and jumps on him. He hugs Baby. Then starts hitting Baby. Baby runs away.

Baby goes to table and takes a bite of Boy's noodles.

Mom scold baby.

Boy runs to table and starts eating noodles.

Baby steals a sucker.

Mom wrestles sucker away.

Boy starts using his chopsticks to put noodles from bowl into the ash tray.

Baby steals sucker, again.

Boy starts to precariously put huge bowl of noodles towards his mouth to drink.

Mom scolds Baby who has chowed down on sucker.

Boy sees dog-eaten sucker on table. Starts trying to eat it.

Boy bangs hard on tile with hammer. Gets scolded.

Boy plays with my scripture case. Next thing I know, he has a huge pair of scissors and is trying to cut my case. I interrupt lesson to retrieve case.

Baby starts jumping all over me, trying to gnaw on my coat sleeve. I grab her and put her on my lap and hold her very tightly against me as I try to tell Mom to importance of going to church and how great Primary is.

Boy starts chopsticking noodles into the top part of his bottle.

I was so distracted, and really have no clue what was said during the lesson. I didn't even realize how hilarious it all was until I was writing it in my journal later.

Also, English class this week consisted of a conversation on dating, and me getting ropped into telling story of my first kiss. So embarrassing. The class was loving it. They also said funny things like, "My friend was on the bus and saw a spicy girl" and "Yeah, you know, if you see a hot mama..." I told them those things sounded weird. Ha, so funny.

Pictures - this week we contacted at Prince Street.

Delicious Chinese medicine soup. These awesome really skinny noodles with huge pork ribs and medicine tastes sort of nutmeg-ish. Super delicious. Tsai Jiemei said she feels like a dog whenever she eats it - I took a pic of our huge bone pile.

I love you all so much! Thanks for the emails. They sustain me so much and really help me feel of your support.




Allison! Do.not.even.feel.bad. Ha, I feel like I haven't written you in forever, so I was feeling all bad. Good luck thesising - you totally rock. Heather will love it, for sure. Have you gone to Seattle already? Can't wait to hear all about it and see pictures! Love you.

Aunt Bonnie! Yay! Loved getting an email from you! Thanks for the updates. Love you!