Wednesday, January 2, 2013

December 31, 2012 (Hualian)

Dearest family and friends,

I LOVED talking to you guys on Christmas day. Aunt Bonnie, Uncle Josh, HARRY (you're totally reading this, right) - so pleasantly surprised to get to talk to you guys also! Uncle Joshua, thanks for the letter and Aunt Bonnie - thank you for the present! I really do love all the little stuff your sent me sooo much. Also, those caramels were delicious. I forgot how much I love caramels. 

Christmas was super awesome this year. I thought I would not be that exciting, but actually, it was super great. I"m really grateful I can be a missionary during the Christmas season. On Monday night, we went to Taipei to have a big Christmas zone conference with all the other missionaries. We took a train that left hua lian at about 5 and got to taipei at 8. Taipei Main Station was festive, although it did not feel like Christmas Eve, with a big Christmas tree in the main hall. Then we (all the hua lian missionaries) arrived at the mission office right at nine o'clock. I felt like I was in Harry Potter. All the missionaries from our zone, plus the office missionaries were there. There were tons of letters (thanks everyone!) and packages and we were all so happy. Then we walked to the temple sisters apartment and the elders walked to the office elders' apartment. We walked past quaint little shops in the fairly warm weather and Elder Xu (Taiwanese, but has perfect English) was singing "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to His name" and playing his ukelele as he walked with us. It was awesome. 

On Christmas day, I got to see all my Tao Yuan zone besties. Sister Day gave President Day a bike and he looked so cute biking it around the church gym. Then we had a missionary talent show - so many missionaries got roped into doing talents. So funny. 

I love this area, but I've totally been having some little mission trials. Which is to expected, since for some reason, last transfer I was filled with this strange desire to have trials and challenges and just grow and learn a ton. You get what you pray for. Wednesday was rough. I was itchy (still!) and couldn't focus on contacting. I love this area, I feel so good about being here, but I've been having some missionary trials. We don't have very many investigators and hardly any progressing of the ones we do have. We find alllll the time, but then still haven't been having success. What is going on? On Thursday, I felt desperate for the Lord's help. So, I fasted. Thursday, I felt calm and peaceful and good. And not even that hungry. Bonus. Thursday night, we had a lesson with one of our precious few investigators. She wanted her husband to meet with us too. So her husband  was there. And they have a little girl. The lesson went so well. They were both so attentive and I feel that they have a bunch of desire and are going to do the things we invite them to do. I just really felt the Spirit as we were teaching them. It's cool how fast and deeply you can feel love for people as a missionary.They are really interested in eternal families -especially the husband. When he said the closing prayer, he thanked God for his "perfect family." What a huge blessing to know the plan of salvation and to share it with other people. I'm so, so, so, so, so grateful and happy I can be with the faj, mom, kai, niels, finn, and lars forever. Not to mention all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - and friends. We're definitely related somewhere, right?

Then that night, the elders gave me a blessing (of health- due to my insane itchiness) and it said some awesome things that helped me have more faith, strength, and power. I'm confident that really good things come after trials. Right? 

BUT, we did have our 2 precious investigators from China get baptized. They are so precious and childlike. The Wang sisters. President Day came. Which was great, and so stressful - just because of his title as mission president. Love him.

Also, my little bestie Boston investigator is a gem and writes me letters all the time. She's getting baptized in January. I'm stoked.

The other night we were biking this long, dark road and there was an old grandma walking on the side of the road. I stopped to talk to her. I said, "Hi! Where are you headed?" Her: "To the beach." Keeps walking, not even really stopping to look at me. I thought it was so funny. Where is the beach anyway? It seemed so far away. And she was wearing a pink newsboy cap and flowered pants. She was cool.

Also, last night, biked past a dog. (do that a million times a day.) Dog starts barking and then starts chasing us. Like, booking it behind us - almost nipping my ankles. I have never biked so fast in my entire life. And Faj, I know you said to get off the bike and look at the dog, but that's impossible. By the time I stop my bike and get off, he would have already ripped me to pieces. Terrifying.

Well, I love you all so, so much. And even though this email was kinda complainy and I"m itchy, I'm still so grateful every day that I am a missionary.

love, Sister Natalie

Allison. THANK you for your letter and pictures! I loved loved loved hearing about your life and seeing precious little Livy. Yes, so big! Also, in love with your hair. Of course thinking of copying you now. Also, your house is looking sooo cute.
Analyn! Thank you for your Christmas card. Precious. So excited that when I get home, you'll have a new little baby.
Anja! Thank you for your Christmas card! Oh, I loved seeing your little kids! MIke's beard is awesome! love you!

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