December 22, 2014"The glitter of the season should never prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace." President Uchtdorf
Sister King are SO happy it's almost Christmas!! Every morning, we sing a Christmas hymn and read a scripture from our Christmas advent. We have a little Christmas tree sitting on our desk and decorations around our house. I love this time of the year and the feeling that it always gives me! :) Being a missionary around Christmas time has been so fun and meaningful. I have found that when I talk with people about Christmas and tell them about how it is Jesus Christ's birthday, a lot of people don't know. Christianity is not as common here in Taiwan, so it's been really powerful to help people see the true meaning of Christmas.
On Saturday, we had a ward Christmas party!! There were so many people who came! Maggie taught her Mormon Club at her college a dance that they performed for us, so all of those students came. Plus she invited a ton of her other friends from school, so we were just surrounded by people who were having their first experience inside a church! The activity went really well! Tons of food and the members had a lot of performances. Us missionaries sang some Christmas songs in English.
One of Maggie's friend who came was Isabel!!! I love her. She's from Swajilan, in Africa. She was chosen to come to Taiwan to study Travel and Hospitality Management for two years and then come back to Africa and teach what she learned. She loved the Christmas activity. Afterwards, she asked us if she could come to our church meetings the next day and we arranged everything so she could get a ride and be here. Since she's only been in Taiwan for a few months, Sister King and I switched off translating for her during the meetings. The ward really welcomed her and she had a really good experience :) Love her.
So before I came to this area, the sisters in Xiao Gang were over the Xiao Gang and Qian Zhen wards. Now we're only over the Xiao Gang ward, but both wards meet in the same chapel and our areas are right next to each other. We live in the Qian Zhen area, and our chapel is in Qian Zhen. This past week, we carefully looked at the map of our area and found out that two of our investigators don't live in our area! And almost all the people we have been contacting who have interest in learning more about the gospel live in Qian Zhen!!! It's been hard, but we have so much faith that we will find people in our area!!
We are still working with some awesome people in Xiao Gang. Giving investigators ornaments to put on their trees, teaching them lessons, feeling the Spirit as we teach with power. I love being a missionary.
One of the investigators we've met with we met on the street one day. We were looking for a former investigator's address, and asked someone for directions. We got to know her and she had a lot of interest in learning more about what we are sharing as missionaries. A few days later, we came back and introduced her to the gospel and invited her to read the Book of Mormon. We went back to visit her probably about four days later and she had already read to 1 Nephi 22!! She just reads whenever she has time. She owns a barber shop, so whenever she doesn't have anyone there, she just sits there and reads the Bible and the Book of Mormon. It was so amazing seeing her progress so much so fast! She had so many questions and such a desire to learn.
The Schwieders are a couple missionary who are serving here in Xiao Gang. They are from Idaho, and they've been in Taiwan for a few months. Elder Schwieder served here in Taiwan when he was younger. They often help us teach each week, especially with less actives. On Monday, we invited them to help us visit with a part member family. The wife is an active member and the husband has been an investigator for many years. He has been close to deciding to get baptized several times. A lot of missionaries have worked with him, pushed him, encouraged him, prayed for him, done all they could. It just hasn't been his time. But the Schwieders came and we had a really amazing lesson with him. The Schwieders can only speak very basic Chinese, but the Spirit was so strong! The investigator said that the Schwieders are his example and he wants to have the gospel in his life like he can see it in theirs. He almost cried as he talked about how much he wants the peace and happiness that the gospel brings. I am so grateful for the Schwieders! They connected with him in a way that none of us could.
Things have just been really good. Being a missionary is really hard. Harder than I ever expected it to be, but I am so happy!
On Sunday, I was struck when someone said that our purpose in life is to be happy. It's that simple. Jesus Christ came to earth to live for each of us, so that we can be happy. We may have trials and challenges, but Heavenly Father has given us this time so that we can be happy! So let yourself be happy :)
Love you all! Enjoy Christmas! Sister Berrey