May 18, 2015
Right now I am sitting at a computer in DouLiu. This morning I took the train for about two hours to come here to my new area! It was hard saying goodbye to everyone, especially Sister Johnston, but I know that this is what God needs to happen.
Sister Johnston and I arrived at the train station and said goodbye, then I went with Sister Biancardi to wait for the train. Five minutes before the bus came, I heard the phone ringing - I forgot to give the XiaoGang phone to Sister Johnston. We just dropped our stuff on the ground and sprinted up all the stairs and down the hall to give it to her and then came back and made the train! Carrying all my stuff and sweating a ton, I was so relieved to sit down in my seat as the ticket man came around to stamp our tickets.
This week was completely full of miracles and really good experiences that helped me learn and grow. Here are some:
Monday we rode over to Maggie's college, but we were early and I felt really thirsty. When we were coming out of the 7-11 after buying a water, we ran into a girl that we've met on the road several times. Each time we've talked with her before, she's never been willing to give us her number or set up a time to meet, but she asked if she could meet with us after her class that night!
At Mormon Club, we played water balloon toss. None of the college students had ever played with water balloons before, and didn't really know how to coordinate in tossing the water balloon back and forth. SO FUNNY.
We met with and investigator for the first time. She a mom and has come to English class twice. As we started to teach her, she just started crying as she told us about different trials she has had in her life and how the messages at English class have totally changed her life and helped her know how to deal with the trials that she faces. As we testified of Jesus Christ and read scriptures, we cried with her and promised her comfort and purpose. When I told her the next day after church that I would be moving, she just started crying. So so precious. It's amazing how close you can get to someone as you teach about this gospel. As missionaries, we are the living witness that this gospel can bless us! They can feel that and recognize a difference in their life.
We prayed specifically to know where to go on Tuesday night. We didn't have any lessons set up, but I immediately remembered that the night market in LinYuan is open on Tuesday nights. We went there as planned and were talking to as many people as we could. As we walked down a row, we noticed a foreigner on the other side. We approached and noticed that she was using her hands to sign to the man next to her and the people around her. They were all communicating silently, but you could feel excitement in the air as they saw Sister Johnston signing to her. They soon realized that American Sign Language is different from sign language here in Taiwan. The woman pulled out her phone and they were typing back and forth on her smart phone in English. We learned that she was from Poland and was here visiting and friend. It was an really cool exchange as we tried to communicate with them. Her friend next to her was Taiwanese and his family was behind him. Both of his parents are deaf, so he knows sign language, but also spoke Chinese and a little bit of English. Everyone was so excited that we were able to talk with her and get to know her! The boyfriend told us that he actually came to our English class in QianZhen several years ago. We used Chinese to tell him more about what we are doing here in Taiwan and invited them to come to our church, and he would sign what we said to his friend and family.
As we shared about prayer with an investigator, she felt really really nervous to come to our English class for the first time. We encouraged and supported her and taught her that she can always pray and receive the comfort that she needs. When I taught her that Heavenly Father hears all of our prayers, her eyes just lit up, "really? That's so amazing! He hears all of us!?" I was so happy to be able to testify to her that He does!
Annie decided to be baptized on August 22nd. She feels like she wants to continue to learn more and wants to be baptized on her birthday, August 22nd. As we were talking about it, she was like "but you said that most baptisms happen on Saturdays, right? I don't know if my birthday is on a Saturday." "Well, it doesn't have to be on a Saturday, that's just usually the most convenient time for everyone, but it can be on any day." We checked the calendar and she was happy to see that it is a Saturday! God is a part of every detail of our lives. He knows everything!
Ever since Sister Johnston came to XiaoGang, she has wanted to contact someone using her Rubics Cube. She's really good at it...I am so bad, but she wanted to contact someone using it and relate it to the gospel. As we were riding our bikes, I noticed a girl sitting on a bench playing with her Rubics Cube! We stopped and sat with her and started talking. I thought it was so cool! We finally found a way to contact using a Rubics Cube!
Qiu DiXiong CAME TO CHURCH AGAIN!!! I really believe that one of the reasons God sent me to XiaoGang was to meet the Qiu Family. Sister Qiu is a really strong active member in the ward and her daughter is really active in Taizhong going to school. Her husband took the lessons with missionaries and has come to church a lot, but hasn't been baptized yet. I have been able to come to their house several times and meet with them. Brother Qiu's attitude toward the church and this gospel has changed a lot. At first when we visited them, he wouldn't really respond when we asked questions. We would go over with the intent to help Sister Qiu and strengthen her, but as we taught, things would get directed to help Brother Qiu and if we asked questions, he wouldn't really respond. It was a hard situation and Sister Qiu has had a hard time seeing him not want this gospel. But we continued to help him, and he has come to church on his own several times. We met with them this week and reviewed the plan of salvation. When we were talking at the end about what we can do personally this week to progress on our journey through life, Brother Qiu told everyone that he wants to repent more and be thankful. I'm so happy I was able to see him change and become more happy and open to this gospel. That family is so special to me, I love them so much!
When Sister Johnston was in the MTC, the doctors told her that she has a mild case of cyliac...I don't know how to spell it. They told her she should stay away from gluten...wheat, noodles, bread, anything that would have gluten. She said that it wasn't really a big problem and we were eating a lot of gluten while I was with her, but as she talked with Sister Blickenstaff about it, we were told that another sister in our mission is on a gluten free diet. It was cool to see that this challenge, this trial of not being able to eat a lot of things that they usually eat became a blessing. They talked about what other options there are here in Taiwan and helped each other a lot. It was just cool to see that Heavenly Father gave them both this trial so that they could help each other.
This week we had a really really good Zone Conference! President Blickenstaff came down to GaoXiong and taught us a lot! Something that they are really focusing on in our mission is helping investigators understand the importance of church and keeping the Sabbath day holy as well as following up. There are so many aspects of being a missionary, but I think that these two things are really important for me to focus on personally. The Zone Conference was really good! The Spirit was so strong and I felt so much power as we stood and sang our mission song at the end. I love being a missionary!
I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to move to a new area! Lots to learn and lots to improve. President Blickenstaff called me to be the Sister Training Leader in this zone, so I will continue to rely on the Lord as I stretched to get to know the area and zone. I'm really grateful I get to serve with Sister Tapia! She's awesome!!
This is a mini move call - usually we have move call every six weeks, but sometimes President has people move in the middle of the move call on week 3. For this mini move call, there are only four people moving. Sister Jorgensen, my MTC companion, was serving here in DouLiu since September! Today she moved to XiaoGang to be with Sister Johnston. Also, Sister Jorgensen trained Sister Tapia, who was Sister Johnston's MTC companion. So we're just switching between each other a lot, haha. It's fun!
I had the blessing of serving in XiaoGang for almost six months. I was there since November and I am so grateful for all of the things that I learned there. Each day I was tested and pushed. I have been able to strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that this Church is true! It's as simple as that.
One thing that I really learned this week is just the importance of being anchored in this gospel. We each will face different challenges in our lives. Forces from others, our environment, as well as ourselves and the pressures and limits we put on ourselves push us and shape us into who we are. But as we face all these challenges, the most important thing to focus and continually strengthen is our own conversion to this gospel. As we are anchored to this gospel, and live true to our faith in Heavenly Father, we will have the strength to face these challenges. I have learned that it's often hard to know who to rely on and count on, but no matter what happens, we can always always always turn to the Lord and rely on Him. He will never let us down!
As I said goodbye to the people I have grown to know and love in XiaoGang, I reminded them to "meitian meitian meitian du moermenjing. meitian meitian meitian zuo daogao. meiyige libai meiyige libai meiyige libai lai jiaohui!" read the Book of Mormon everyday everyday everyday. Pray everyday everyday everyday. Come to Church every week every week every week. The Lord will bless you! I know it's true! I've seen it in my own life and in so many other's lives. Keep being strong and rely on the Lord!
I love you all so much! Sorry this is so long....so much to say! Sister Berrey
PS sorry I totally forgot my camera in my other bag that they brought to our apartment....I bought a new camera last p-day and I've been taking pictures. I'll send them next week!
I love you all so much! Sister Berrey