Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 18, 2013 (Hualian)



Hey guys!

Thanks for all the rich emails. I love hearing from everyone. Niels, your email was the shortest. Nine months on your mission?? Crazy. Lars is huge. Also so handsome and adorable at the same time. Lars, are your cheeks still soft? Won't that be sad when Lars starts to grow hair on his face and won't have soft cheeks anymore?

It's still been New Year's all this week. We've still been eating a ton. And even more, since we're always secretly serving each other up with more food. Always so funny until it happens to you. Sister Du and I even went on splits this week so we could attend more dinner appointments. It's funny, because we all love eating Taiwanese food, but a lot of our meals have been American food because they say, "Oh, since you've been eating Taiwanese food all week, we thought it'd be nice for you to eat American food!" But everyone has that same thought. It's been really fun to eat with and hang out with our members. 

This week was really slow because of new year's. Not a lot of investigators could meet. We did have a chance to meet with the mom of the Chen family. We talked about faith with her and read part of Alma 32. We had a really nice discussion with her, and when she said her closing prayer, she prayed that her seed of faith would grow into a huge tree. Yes! Awesome! Loved hearing her apply what we had just shared with her from the Book of Mormon. Her and her husband are doing really good, but because of new year's and stuff, we haven't seen them for a long time, so we're going to re-set a new baptismal date with them and get them working towards that again.

Sunday was a total miracle day, which was a HUGE blessing, because I feel like the work has been going kind of slow. On Sunday morning, Zi Yao, our 14-year-old, biked to church - her first time! The night before we did a tour of the chapel with her and her mom. (Her mom is super great, but is interested in the church for her daughter's sake.) It went really well and when we talked about her coming to church, Zi Yao was like, "I'm so tired. Can I just come next week?" And I was like, "That's what you said last week." Thankfully her mom is super encouraging of her coming to church, so she totally came and since me and Sister Du go on splits for church (because we cover 2 branches at the same time), I didn't get to see her at church. But she said she liked it and liked the talks during sacrament meeting. Awesome. Our member has also been bringing her niece to church and we got to meet with her finally. She's 14, also. 

Then after church and doing our studies, we went to dinner at a member's house. Ate a ton, and then had planned to knock somewhere in that area. We were biking over to a neighborhood to knock, but ended up talking with a couple people on the side of the street. We had a lesson and they set up to meet with us again, so that was really awesome. Then we started knocking in that area. There was a door I wanted to knock on, and when we knocked on it, this cute grandma answered and immediately invited us in to sit down. There was already fruit on the table - it felt a little bit like they were waiting for us. We went in and sat down and the grandma called down her three grandkids who live with her to come down as well. They are Aboriginals (a lot of Aboriginals live out here on the East Coast) and they were so happy and so nice. They are Christians of another church (there are tons of Christian churches here!), which is usually a problem because they're either really attached to their church, don't like us or both. But this family - the Ma family - seemed really interested and open and willing to learn. The grandkids were a teenage boy and girl and an 11 year old boy. The teenage boy has noticed our church and has wanted to go check it out. Anyway, the little boy said he liked to plant and grow things. Precious, right? Anyway, we quickly shared the Book of Mormon with them, by using the pictures in the front to introduce it - one of my favorite ways to introduce The Book of Mormon, Arnold Frieberg and all. I told them how it was an ancient record of ancient America's aboriginal people. Cool, right? The Book of Mormon is the coolest. Then we shared a verse in Alma 32 about growing the seed of faith, because the grandson loves planting. They were super warm and super quick to say we could come back again. Last night, we were so overjoyed and excited to find so many awesome people. We got more new investigators this week than we've gotten in a long time. 

Well, I love you all so, so much and pray for you often. I know that the gospel is the most important thing in the whole universe and I'm grateful to know that when I hear about crazy bad scary stuff happening in the world. I'm grateful I have this chance to meet so many awesome people and see their growth and change as they accept Jesus Christ. I'm really grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary. I feel like I've changed sort of a lot and I love the changes I've had. Anyway, love you all dearly.

Sister Natalie

shout-outs!
celia, celia! I was so happy to get an email from you and hear about how you guys are doing. Love the haircut business. SO happy you'll be in Utah in July. So happy! I miss you and your family. Also, thanks a million times for sending pictures of vags' baby. I love her! Precious.Thanks, also, for the update on my clothes. Also, I love your mission stories. You rock!
Allison! yay! So good to hear from you again. Your house is super cutie. I'm excited to see it when I get home. 
Addison, let's go to Austin the summer I get home. (ps, i'm not allowed to email directly to cousins.)
Tara: did you get my letter??





Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013 (Hualian)



Dear everyone,

One of the most exciting things that happened this week is that my cute little ABC-from-Boston, Angela, got baptized!!! She is such a rockstar! She does her personal progress (!!), gave a talk in church, cried in her testimony (and told me she used the phrase "haters gonna hate" multiple times in it - haha) and recommended a conference talk for me to read/watch. Yeah, she blows me away! You guys would love her. I'm so grateful I could meet her and start sharing the gospel with her. She's the best.

This week, we had our zone meeting. The zone leaders asked me to share an experience to pump everyone up about finding miracles and having baptisms, probably because I need to strengthen my faith that the Lord really does have prepared people out there. And I shared about Yin Ru, who I met in Zhong Li, and I really loved being able to think back on that experience and how prepared she was and how all the experiences she was having in her life were preparing her to receive the gospel. I felt a sacred feeling as I was talking about her. I know that God helped me meet her and I also know that Heavenly Father is real and He is literally our Father, who loves us. I"m so grateful for my mission and the things I've been learning. This experience is so valuable to me.

I had a new sister here on exchanges with me this week and we got to teach the Chen family who we haven't had a chance to meet with forever because they've been out of town. We taught them the Restoration and explained what the Book of Mormon is, because we still haven't. I love teaching them because they are so earnest and their desire is palpable. I tried to make sure I strongly extended the invitation for them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and they firmly and willingly commited to do it. I'm so excited to hear what they think. It's so great all the things we can promise investigators, because they come from God and not from us. The Book of Mormon is totally true, and we can read it and pray about it and get an answer. And God knows us, so He knows how to answer our prayers in a way that will let us personally know that it is true. I do know the Book of Mormon is true.

We also met with our young women, Zi Yao. She's doing good. She reading and praying, but hasn't come to church yet. Working on that.

Because of Chinese new year, our finding has had a lot of people from out of town, which is still great. We did find some good elder referrals this week, though.

PS, Niels, you rockstar, doing all the zone invites.

This week, we also went out contacting with the young women. We were unsure on the details of this activity and when we got to the church, there were six young women there. Me and Du jiemei couldn't separate, so we basically ended up not contacting very much, in order to keep all the girls in sight and sound. But we had the girls split into companionships and then helped them contacting. Actually, we went tracting. They were really cute and funny. Once, one of the girls hesitantly rang a doorbell and then ran a few feet back from the door, squeling and nervous. So, yes, it was really funny doing missionary work with them.

This week, Chinese New Year's started. Fun for everyone besides the missionaries. No, it's actually really fun for us, too. I've been eating SO MUCH. The members are providing every meal and since the sisters cover two branches, sometimes we try to go to two meals, in order to have a member visit and share a spiritual messagae. Saturday - got fed lunch (those members were trying to convince me and the elder we were with to get married - we are not at all compatible, more on that later), after that, our mm leader brought doughnuts to mm meeting, then we went to a dinner appointment at a big Buddhist event thing (really cool, but stressful because they were interviewing us and asking us what we knew about the event which was basically nothing), and then went to another's member's house to say hi and they made us eat more. Niels, cracked up about you and your comp putting food on each other's plates. The elders kept making comments like, "Oh, Sister Christensen hasn't eaten the pig's foot yet" and then the hostess is like, "Oh, here! Eat one!" But I somehow avoided it. But, yeah, best game ever. Anyway, then last night we went to our brach president's house (the loud one who I get along really well with) and he and another member there were asking me if I'd marry a taiwanese guy, and I was like, "No way. Language barrier." And then they went OFF on all these Taiwanese guys I could marry, including the poor little shy recent new convert I was sitting next to (he felt way uncomfortable) and ended off with the same missionary the members teased me about the day before. Then we did a lesson about how the Book of Mormon answers allllll our questions and of course President Pan's first question was, "Why does Cen jiemei (me) not like Taiwanese men?" We did find a lot of good scriptures to answer that, haha. Also, I LOVE Taiwanese people, for the record.

Also, my clothes so ugly. The other day, our mm leader was telling us we needed to dress nice for this dinner and I was like, "Yeah, okay, impossible..." and Elder Miller was like, "Sister Christensen, that skirt is actually one of my favorites of yours." And I was like, "Really??" And then he just smiled and nodded, the way Niels does when I ask him if my outfit makes me look fat. That skirt is the one that used to be a dress, that I cut into a skirt and now the elastic is huge and I have to clip it on the side for it to fit. Yeah, classy.

Yesterday in church, I sat next to a little boy who yell-singed. It was so cute. And the best was that he wasn't even trying to be cute or cool or funny - he just sang like that. It made me think of going to church with Steve and Ariel. Steve always sings really loud and it makes Ariel kind of embarrassed but we all secretly love it.

Oh, man, totally out of time. Love you all soooo so so much.

Love,
Natalie

Pictures:
contacting with the young women. So many peace signs. Also, all the girls clustered at one door - really happened. Poor person being contacted.
Chinese new year celebrations
Us with a potential investigator - a member's niece.

shout-outs
Uncle Phil - Thanks for the email! I'm excited to check out your profile!
Danny - Also loved hearing from you and I"m also excited to check out your profile! How's the new baby?
Crachel- cutest names ever in the whole world. Oh, man! You guys! Cutest. Thanks for the email; I know you're crazy busy.
Kjirsten - Thanks for your letter!!!! It was so honest and beautiful. I have been re-reading it. I'm so excited to talk to you for a really long time when I get home.
Kayla. write me. heart you.
Cousin Addison, thanks for the email you sent. Love you!
Erin. thanks. wrote you!





Sunday, February 3, 2013

November 4, 2013 (Hualian)



Dear family and friends,

You guys are all the BEST. Mom, thanks for the email. I'm getting home on April 27th. Yeah, did you guys hear that?! Ariel, why are you coming out in March and not in April? Kidding. Faj, I love all the mountain, snow, and ice climbing pictures. Utah and Tibet are the coolest. Yes, Wang Jiemei is a member in Hua Lian. It wasn't my old companion, Wang jiemei, right? If it was, then she's in Taidong. Kai, thanks for emailing me - employee of the month, seriously. What a rockstar.

I survived this week getting fed by members, my companion and eating some cheap store bought noodles and brown rice. 

This week was mostly good. Du jiemei got sick (what is up with us?? Faj, I need some immune boost and if you want, you could also send me some burt's bees chapstick, just the normal flavor/kind - the kind you apply with your finger would be good - just one is enough) and so we were in for a day. We had interviews with President on Friday - in Taidong, which is like a 3 hour train ride from us. Interviews were good. President Day called me to repentance for telling him that I was intimidated to be surrounded by the most awesome missionaries ever. He is the nicest man alive and has the gift of discernment like no one I've ever met. Sister Day brought us chocolate chip cookies. Divine. Forgot how delicious chocolate chip cookies are.

The missionaries serving here really are the best. The elders gave us a ton of referrals this week. We also had a lot of success from trying to talk to everyone - always sort of awkward, because you stop your bike by someone walking on the side of the road and sometimes they get a little bit freaked out - and getting a lot of phone numbers from that. 

We have an awesome sort-of new investigator named Zi Yao. She's 14 and really shy and not super expressive, but she seems to really like meeting with us. We shared about the restoration of the gospel with her this week, and taught it by stacking paper cups and removing the bottom ones to show what happens when we don't have apostles and church authority. I'm telling you, I love little analogy things now that I'm on a mission. She also biked in the rain with us (taiwanese HATE the rain) to go to a church activity. She feels like her life has been happier since she's been praying and she likes reading the Book of Mormon. Texted us on Sunday morning to say actually she wasn't coming to church. So, other than that, so far so good. She's cute and awesome and I think warming up more to us. 

One day we stopped and talked to this Filipino woman and yesterday went to visit her. She's a total miracle. I feel like she's super prepared. She loved having us come over, and tried to pay us for coming over. Cha right. She loves Jesus Christ a lot. Before we left, she wanted me to sing with her. So we sang Amazing Grace and Nearer My God To Thee, even though little mosquitos were buzzing around me and I was inwardly freaking out. She doesn't have a book or mormon yet, but she's excited to read it when she has one.

Last night, as we were biking sort of far to a more rural place, Du Jiemei biked over a metal wire and it stuck in her tire. We asked the house owners if we could leave the bikes there and then continued walking to a referral's house. The roads were dark and there were scary dogs, but it was so peaceful and nice to walk for a change, past dark rice paddies and an occasional house. My companion and I chatted the whole way. My companion talked about her love for Korean drama. So cute. The referral wasn't there, but there was a beautiful little private art museum next store that I want to check out on a pday.

One night this week, when we were knocking, the doorbell with the intercom speaker thing was inside of their mailbox. I ended up sticking my head partly in the mailbox and talking to the girl who lived there for a while - asking her if she believes in God and what she thinks her relationship with Him is. I really love moments like that on my mission - talking to people in quirky ways about God- who He is and His incredible love for us.

Love this church, love being a missionary.

I've tried to stalk pretty much all of you on mormon.org, (not as fun as facebook), but pretty much none of you have a profile. Except for you Niels, which I loved. You should make profiles! 

Love you guys!

Love, 
Sister Nad

shout-outs!
Josh and Dee: I still love you guys.
Rob and Crachel: you guys!! miss you guys! how are your twins? Kayla sent me the cutest picture of them and Collin. What are their names??
ANGELA: Are you BAPTIZED?! Wah, your last letter was the BEST. You, teaching about the Holy Ghost better than the elders! Wah, so proud of you! You are the best and I love you so much! 
Ariel: STOP IT with all your pictures. Just kidding, keep sending more and more and more. I am totally framing that black and white photo of you and Steve on Christmas. Ahhh, so beautiful. You guys, YOU GUYS. Love you both so, so, so much. Keep writing!! Did you get my letter?
Kimi: Still love you. Did you get my letter?
Allison: How are you doing? Dying to see some house pictures. And more!
Trev4: I was going through my old planners and I'll write little notes in my planner or on sticky notes of things to tell people on p-day when I email and I found this one in an old planner of these key points to tell you: - good soul - beard - so talented - photography - i might accidentally say words in chinese when I get home. Ha, so cryptic, right?? I have no idea what I wanted to say about the first four. Anyway, looove you.
Tara: Letter coming your way! Written it, it just needs a stamp! I'll get it in the mail today.
Alicia Harris: where are you?
Courtney Petersen. You too.
Celia: did you get my letter? Also, are my clothes at your parents? Should I have someone in my family go pick them up because I don't want your family to have to move them. Can't wait to wear cute clothes again.