Friday, June 29, 2012

June 24, 2012 (Zhongli-15)

Natalie and first three companions
Okay, so first, big, scary news. I am training next transfer. Terrified. Sister Chen is also training. We were at the mission office last week, and President called us both into his office to tell us. But, we're actually both staying in this area. Right now we cover 2 areas/2 wards - Zhong Li and Pin Zheng, but we can't focus on Pin Zheng very well, because we're always in Zhong Li. Also, our apartment is super tiny, so we're moving to a big apartment, and having four girls live there (way too much fun!). Sister Chen and her new comp will be in Pin Zheng and me and my new comp will be in Zhong Li. I'm so terrified to train and already feel bad for my trainee so pray lots for me! Also, my Chinese - still super rough. I'm super glad I'll still be close to Sister Chen and can get help training and finding stuff on maps, etc.

The Zhong Li ward has a ton of awesome investigators and a bunch of people progressing towards baptism. Hopefully in the next few weeks, we'll have a couple baptisms. We will see. We have one awesome cutie girl named Jia Yu and she's just doing so good and progressing so much towards baptism. She has such a strong testimony already and has shared some of her spiritual experiences with us and it's been so good to hear. She always prays and reads the Book of Mormon, and those things are totally key for gaining a testimony. If people won't do those things, then they won't know these things and they won't progress. But, if they do those simple things, they will progress and know these super invaluable truths for themselves.

This week we had typhoon warnings but no typhoon. We secretly kind of wanted one. A safe one. This week, I got told that I look pregnant (AHHHH!) and Sister Chen got mistaken for a man! Wahhha, I was cracking up.

This week, we also attended a special training meeting for the sisters - temple tour training. The temple sisters are rocking - they're sort of like the female assistants to the President, so we had an awesome training meeting with them and I got to see my 2 past companions. Picture is with my three companions. Seriously, I've had the best companions ever! Love them all so much. And I was especially happy to see my matching-soul companion, Tsai jiemei (on the left side of photo.)

My mission president is leaving this week/next week. A little bit sad. He's been so awesome and really influential on my mission.

Also, having a little insecurity about how AWESOME Niels is. Thank goodness I'm the only girl, so I don't have to try to be cooler than Niels. What a good missionary. And hilarious letters. Friends, you should read Niels' mission blog. So good. So funny.

Allison Sligting- could you log onto my fb and try and get Talisa Vistaunet's address for me? Thank you! Also, love you and loved getting your email. Thanks for always being nice about my frumpy outfits.
Kimi- Yesss! Loved getting your email - thanks for all the rich updates. love you so much.
Ariel - write meeee! love you/miss you immensely.
Zoe Mia - haven't heard from you in foreverrrrr. write meeee.
FINN, i need Bentley's address. Spanks.
COURTNEY CUTE BABY, Daniel wrote me back! Yeah! He totally got my letter, so no worries about talking to him for me. He had a funny Krishnayya story.

Other pictures:
Seasame noodles from this place I love in Taipei. Restaurant picture is the same place. Sister Chen in the same place.

My district

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 10, 2012 (Zhongli-14)

This week:

- We taught the Word of Wisdom a few times, and everyone received it really well. I'm always a little nervous to teach word of wisdom - I'm a huge baby missionary, but little by little getting more bold. Anyway, with one girl, we had a mom in our ward be the member present. She was saying (in her own words) how her two oldest daughters are skinny and follow the word of wisdom and her youngest chubby daughter doesn't follow the word of wisdom. It was so funny because our investigator has this cute high voice, and she was like, "Oh, yeah, big difference!" But in Chinese it sounded so much funnier. Also, I LOVE commandments. I've never not liked commandments, but I've never had any special feelings towards them, but I really love commandments. They're so simple, and if you follow them, you get tons of blessings, you're protected, safe, and happy. And if you don't, you don't get the blessings and you're not nearly as happy as you could be. And I think sometimes I'm scared to commit peple to live commandments, because I'm scared they won't get the blessings. But the thing is, the blessings are not coming from me, they're coming from God. So it's impossible to not get the blessings attached to a certain commandment. I was talking to one of the elders about one of his converts. She is the oldest of 8 kids, and has to work to help take care of them. One time talking to them, she was really upset, saying how she was never going to have a life of her own, and she was sad, etc. Anyway, she ended up getting baptized, and after that, got a new better paying job so she only had to work one job instead of two, so she had way more time. Then she started thinking about going to college (she's like 26 or something and has never been), then she decided to go on a mission, and she started her mission this week. It was so inspiring for me to hear. Heavenly Father loves us and has plans for us greater than we can imagine for ourselves. He wants to lead us, if we will let Him. I know this is true, even though sometimes it's hard to apply. How do you guys think we submit our will to God's and let him lead us?

- The people here are sooo good and so kind. The members give us bread, fruit, snacks all the time. The other day, we had a teenager in our ward be a member at a lesson, and after I was complaining to her about how hot Taiwan is and she left and came running back a few minutes later with a handful of ice cream bars. I felt like such a baby - but, seriously, these people are some of the best in the world.

- This week we went to our super awesome investigator Cai Jiemei's house for her little boy's birthday party. She is practically a member, but can't get baptized right now because of some family protests. (That's a really common problem for people not getting baptized here.) In the bday picture, she is the one on the far right. Her little boys are the two cute/funny boys in the front.

- This week we helped some recent converts/newly weds paint their new apartment. So fun.

- Faj, I have an investigator from Nanjing! We talked about Fuzi Miao.

- Hm, we have a new investigator who I met on a college campus the other day. She said she recently attended a Buddhist acticity/retreat thing and a bunch of people there said they had seen  Buddah, so she was kind of confused about truth and what truth is and how do you know if things are truth, etc. Anyway, she is very Buddhist, so felt hesitant about praying because it conflicts with her Buddhist believes, but I thought her background was interesting. Hopefully we'll get to keep meeting with her.

- Sorry, my emails are boring lately. Pressuse = huge because Niels' emails are awesome and powerful and spiritual and hilarious.

I love you all so much!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 3, 2012 (Zhongli-13)

I love how easy it is for me to love people here, especially our investigators. I just love them so much. But sometimes when people reject me on the streets, I get so ticked. So I'm trying to have more charity and really love everyone. I think the power of prayer and the Atonement are so cool. It's so hard to change ourselves on our own, but with the power of prayer and atonement, we have all this ability and power to change. Especially with loving people. So many times I have prayed to love someone, and then it just happens. I love them. It's so cool.

This week we judged an English competition and the kids were so funny. They read memorized poems. The first kid was like, "I had a SUCK, but I couldn't find IT!" And we were like, suck? Then we realized he was saying sock. Ha, so cute. I feel like lately when I speak here, people are like, "Huh?!" Ha, so overwhelming. Faji, I think my Chinese really is progressing. I understand a lot more. I'm on the phase 2 of language, so I'm memorizing like 2000 vocab words or something like that. So that helps with listening. I feel overwhelmed by Chinese, but that's okay. I also wake up 30 min early every day (usually) so that I can have extra study time. (Don't put that on my vlog, sounds pretentious. Hey, is the blog and pictures getting updated okay? Thanks for doing all that.) I need to pray more for my language to improve.

We have an investigator named Zhuang Zhu An (don't put whole name on blog). She's like 20 and so cute and so great. She loves us and we LOVE her. She's super sincere and really wants to figure this whole religion thing out. Sunday was her first time coming to church. She told me she lost $1000 and she told Heavenly Father if she found it, she would come to church. She ended up finding it, but then on Sunday was super tired and frustrated about some stuff. But, because she promised God, she totally came to church. She's so cute. She wants happiness in her life and we talked about how that is what God wants for us too. So great.

I went on exchanges this week with Sister Ochoa (degrey knows her from mtc), and since she is newer, I took her to eat tons of delicious food. Pictures included.

Our ice cream shop investigators are awesome and came to a ward party thing on Sunday night.

This week, I feel a little overwhelmed about being a missionary. Sometimes I feel like I have this big weight of souls on my heart and my shoulders and when our investigators or other people aren't doing well, I feel, not like it's my fault, but that there's a lot more I can/should be doing for them. Ah. But, that's why we have Christ and the Atonement. I feel like I constantly need to re-center my faith on Christ, and not on myself or my own abilities.

Last night, we were contacting (knocking) and walked past a scary dog. He started barking and coming towards us, and I was freaked, but we walked away quickly. Then, we accidentally walked past AGAIN, and he started coming towards us and Chen jm was like, RUN! So we booked it and I was FREAKED. Little chomperson trying to nip my ankles. That's all about that. (It didn't end up chasing us.)

picturesss. I can't see them right now. Some are my favorite foods. One is Chen jm contacting. One is the view from our apartment window.

Love you all so much, I can't even stand it. Jealous that you're all doing the coolest things ever!

Mini Update, May 27, 2012 (Zhongli-12)

Dearest family and friends,

I have nothing to write about this week. Here is a list of stuff:
1. The food here! Ah, too good. Sister Chen and I are a little stressed about our weight-gain (you better believe my family pointed it out when I was on the phone with them. Niels: "Natalie! Dad saw a picture of you and said it looks like you're gaining weight!" The Faj Mahal: "What? I did not! He is fabricating my words!") so we have been steaming brown rice and vegetables. It is bland and delicious. Then the elders see us eating cake and make fun of us.
2. Sister Chen trying to airplane-game give food to the elders when we don't want to finish something. Hilarious.
3. Also. The food = so beautiful. See pictures.
4. We sometimes forget that the things missionaries do are super awkward. For example, our training this month has been on commitments and following up. (We've been so much better on following up-aka calling people to see how their prayers and going - kind of awkward, but awesome-and it's been super worth all the awkwardness because it really does help people progress.) Anyway, I asked one of our members to follow up with one of our investigators and ask her how her prayers and going and our member told me she felt so bad/uncomfortable doing that, and I remembered that missionaries actually are kind of weird and do weird things. In my real life, I would definitely never call someone I met for 30 minutes to ask them how their prayers are going. Ha.
5. Niels sent me an email from mtc. So hilarious. Oh, man. He is so funny.
6. In general, our investigators are doing so good! Reading their scriptures, praying, coming to church. So happy.
7. We do church tours a lot for our finding, and this week we ended up having a tour/lesson with a drunk man and his sister. When we were praying the drunk man was like, "I feel it! I feel something!" And Dong Jiemei (our most recent convert) was there and she was kind of cracking up and I was too. So funny.
8. We did temple tours this week! Love temple tours. We only gave tours to members this week.
9. I bought a new blazer and short sleeved t-shirts. I am not so blazing hot now. I still love shopping.
10. I tried translating in Relief Society for our American friend, Michelle, who is here adopting 3 Taiwanese kids. I realized I actually still don't understand a ton of stuff. But, my Chinese is getting a teeny bit better.

Okay, that's all I can think of for this week. Wah, love you all so much!!
Love, Natalie

Allison Sligting- thanks for your sweet email. What is your parents' address? I want to start sending stuff there, maybe.
Bentley Snow- thanks for your beautiful email! Ah, your writing, so good. Strengthened my testimony of God's love for us.
Tara Jibson- WHERE ARE YOU? I want to send you a letter. Where should I send to?
Nicole - got your letter!! flower basket boutique? So fun!