Monday, June 30, 2014

White-Washing, Temples, and Culture

Aloha Family and Friends,
We're getting more and more settled in our area and I love it! So just to recap a little of what's going on. My area is Guishan (south) in the Tao-1 district, in the Taoyan Zone. It's to the left of Taipei. My companion and I are white-washing the area because the sisters who were assigned to this area before and who opened the area got sick and one went home. The other is all better now but she's in a different area.
I finally got my bike! For the first few days we had no bikes because we were no longer using T-join, I guess it's a moving company who would normally transport missionaries' luggage and bikes on transfer day. But because of a little mishap with losing a missionaries' belongings, we're not using that company right now and the office elders are dropping off the bikes individually to the missionaries who couldn't get their bikes. My companion still doesn't have her bike but we found some old missionary bikes in front of our apartment that weren't lock (and weren't stolen!). The ward mission leader offered to get them fixed for us and now my companion has a bike! The members here are sooo loving and charitable!
Let's talk about some investigators and miracles. Because we're trying to get our area back on its feet while at the same time trying to learn about our area, things have been a little slow but we've been working very hard! We met a young boy named Hunter outside our apartment just as we were getting ready to leave. He was very willing to talk to us and he knows a little bit of English. Well, he committed to baptism on July 26 (Fabian's birthday!) and we have a meeting scheduled with him. To be honest, I don't really know how he's feeling but I hope that when we meet with him tomorrow, he'll be even more excited for his baptism. We even talked to his mom afterward. She's seen missionaries before and she even encouraged her son to talk to missionaries and attend our English class. Hopefully his mom will be willing to meet with us as well!
We have this golden investigator named Yo-Yo who the Tao-1 elders taught before there were no Guishan sisters. She's already attended a baptism and she has a baptism schedule for July 26 (those two baptisms are my gifts for Fabs on that day). We really have to do our best to help her feel prepared. Yesterday we read the Book of Mormon with her. She's keeping her commitments so for now things are going great with her!
I am very grateful for the culture in which I had growing up and my rich cultural experiences that I've had in my life. I can already see the miracles from them. Saturday we had the opportunity to do Temple Square tours. When we went out contacting, I decided to turn around and talk to a sister sitting on the stairs. We talked to her for a while and just as our lesson with her ended, I noticed two Filipinos in the distance. I immediately asked them if they were Filipino and told them that I was too! We later found out that the Filipino sister was inactive. She actually was living in my trainer's last area and that she only didn't go to church because she didn't know where the chapel was. We got her contact information so that we could refer her to Sister Porter and Sister Van Tonder (the Xuanjing sisters!) We also found out that her sister was strong in the church and she was just waiting for her to get out from doing an Endowment session. I hope that my testimony and through our efforts, she will come back to church.
Another cultural experience was on our way back from the temple. On the crowded train, I heard a familiar language coming from behind me. I noticed that it was Spanish!!! In my best espanol, I turned around and asked them where they were from. They said Mexico! Well, the guy was from Mexico but the girl was born in Dominican Republic but she's full Taiwanese (kind of like my Filipina born in Hawaii situation). Well, they were there just for school at the university. We later got to talking about the gospel and I asked if she wanted to learn more. She said that she was interested so I got her contact information. Unfortunately she she doesn't live in my area but I definitely can't wait to refer her to the missionaries!
My Chinese is getting better! I understood the lesson and participated in the Gospel Doctrines class! :) I know that the Lord has a reason for everything. "The Lord has given us all the source of hope as we struggle to help those we love accept their eternal inheritance. He has made promises to us as we keep trying to gather people to Him, even when they resist His invitation to do so. Their resistance saddens Him, but He does not quit, nor should we. He sets the perfect example for us with His persistent love..." -President Henry B. Eyring

I love you all!
Sister Sagisi
Xia4 Jie3Mei4

 After emails last week, Sister Koch and I went to get mango shave ice!

Sandra, Aska, Sister Wu and Sister Hu. And Elder Chen and Elder Nelson.

Such good food!!!
 Hope Noodles!

Sister Liang, Sister Cai, her little sister, and her two friends in the back. Too bad they aren't in our area (they are investigators).
 My new bike!!!!!

 Painting because it's Fabs' fave color...and I like red.

 All done! Does it look bad enough to not be stolen?

 Okay, my two favorite things in ONE!

 Brother Ye and his mom and Lu JieMei (our Ward mission leader's wife and children.)

 I've always wanted to go on this!

 Hey look mom, we made our way to America!

 I spy a Texas license plate. I win! (inside joke)

A map of Taoyuan in regards to Taipei.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hello Taiwan!

Dear Family,

I'm finally in Taiwan! So when we landed, let me just say...I knew I was home! Everything looked so familiar, the food, the highways, the people...everything. I just knew that this is where I needed to be. 

Okay, so leaving the MTC was pretty sad but I was ready to take on the rest of my mission. Last Sunday we got our Chinese names at our Naming Ceremony. Our teacher, Bro. Johnson, who also served in Taiwan Taipei gave us our names. My name is Xia4 (the numbers explain the tones for the word, if you know Chinese you'll understand) Hui1 Zhen1. So Xia4 means "summer" and that's my last name, which I've had since I got to the MTC. You can pretty much call me "Sister Summer." Then Hui1 means "radiant" and Zhen1 means "cherish" and that word also comes from the word "zhen1 zhu1" for pearl because I like the beach. So I don't really know what my name means when you put it together. I guess you can say Summer Radiantly Cherishable...haha.

The plane ride wasn't too bad. It was about 13 hours. That doesn't include the time to travel to Denver and from Denver to San Francisco. But from San Francisco it was just 13 hours away from Taiwan.

I'm in my new area! So I'm in the Taoyan Zone, Taoyi (Tao 1) District, Guishan South Area. This is to the west of Taipei. We are what's known as "white-washing" the area. This pretty much means that we're re-opening the area. Soo...please don't get too worried about this, but the sisters who were previously in this area, one of them who was the trainer got sent home because she got sick. Like her body wasn't functioning well and her intestines weren't working I believe. The other companion got sick as well but she is here and recovered but got sent to another area. So on Sunday, (yesterday) the members have been very concerned about us and kept asking how we're doing. They're concerned that it might be the water in the apartment or the food places around here. We really have to have the Gift of Discernment here. But I know that my Mission President is called of God and wouldn't send us to a place that he knew wouldn't be OK for us. He sent us here for a reason. Although we're still trying to learn about this place, learning who the members are, picking up what the other sisters had left as far as investigators, I'm so grateful that I get to do it with my companion.

So my companion/trainer is Sister Koch. She's from a military family and she's lived in Hawaii for a big part of her life. So we just say that we're both from Hawaii. She is so great! She's been "on-island" for almost a year now and I'm her first "daughter." She's very bubbly and so cute. Sister Roy called it that Sister Koch and I would be companions! And Sister Koch also told me that when she saw my picture and name in the mission office half a year ago, she said out loud, "I want to train her!" Perhaps President Day heard her? Haha. When we first got to our area, the first thing we said was that "They had to send the most optimistic sisters to this area." I can guarantee that many people would complain about everything, but nope not us! We've already seen so many miracles. We don't have our bikes yet so members took us to church. They've also been feeding us. We are so blessed!!!

Missionary life is definitely something that I did not expect was like. Haha. But then again, my trainer says that nothing about what we've been through these past few days has been normal. Haha. To me, it seems pretty normal but I just can't wait until we get settled. Re-opening a new area is crazy! The Lord has so much trust in us! And I need to have so much trust in Him, especially knowing that the sisters who were there before got sick and one was sent home. I have been praying like crazy here. But I know that there is a reason we are here. We are here to work and leave the area better than when we got here. This will be an exciting adventure!!!

Miracle of the week:
We had an investigator family come to church on Sunday. They are the Chen2 Family. They have two children, a boy who's 10 and a daughter who's 6. The sisters who taught them before said that the boy wants to be baptized. We taught them a lesson and invited them to church and they were more than willing to come. Well, after church, the boy couldn't find his family because the family seemed like they left early. I was so worried because how horrible would it be if we lost one of our investigator's sons?! They would never trust us again. So I'm a worrier...I explained that to Sister Koch. But as I said a personal prayer, I felt comfort. It was a feeling of so much comfort that I had to pray whether that's what I really should be feeling. The Lord answered my prayer and just comforted me. It was the weirdest thing! Well...after our dinner with a member, which BTW was SOOO GOOD, we knocked on the Chen2 Family's door and there he was. The family was happy and together. There was nothing to be worried about. The Lord answers prayers. We just have to trust Him with His answers.

I love you all so much! Please take care! I know that I'm supposed to be here in this area! I know I'm supposed to be in Taiwan.

Sister Sagisi
 Sister Koch and I at an internet cafe getting ready to email you!!! It smells like smoke in here :(
Okay, so I was in line going through security at SLC and this brother sees my name badge and asks where I'm going. I say Taiwan Taipei and he says that his daughter is there and will be training! Perhaps we could be companions! Well I took a picture of him and he took a picture of me to show his wife. And in a few pictures, you will see his daughter, Sister Porter!!!

 I was admitted to Taiwan!!!

 This is Sister Porter! She laughed when I told her the story of her dad, Brother Porter! Haha.

Oh my goodness, I almost about cried when I saw my BEST FRIEND, Sister Roy!!!!!!!  She's not in my zone...or district...but we're on the same island :D

This is an awesome conversion story painting. See if you can figure it out. It starts with two missionarries giving a Book of Mormon to the brother at the bottom.

The Chen2 Family (another Chen2 Family, who are members) and the Lin2 Family! Look at how amazing the food looks!

 Another picture with them!

 The streets!

My beautiful companion and the streets of Guishan. Well, one main street. There are so many streets.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Taiwan Here I Come!

Dearest Family,

Good news! Another apostle came! And Fabian was right, it surely was Elder Quentin L. Cook! :) What a blessing! 8 apostles in 9 weeks at the MTC. The Lord really needed me to learn something important from them all. We've also had some from the Quorum of the Seventy come and address us.  What amazing men of God!

So my companion got her reassignment! She is now going to Hong Kong China Mandarin speaking! How crazy is that?! The Lord just has special plans for each of us, I know that for sure. Sometimes He also has a different way for each us to come to know of His plan. For my companion, it took surgery for her to get a reassignment. It took not being able to ride a bicycle in Taiwan for her to get a reassignment. I know the Lord knew where she was going all along. He felt she just need to take the back road in finding out, perhaps.

Also, the NPR segment came out... I'm kind of embarrassed of my voice. Haha. I'm so glad that I don't have to listen to that for the rest of my life. I'm sorry for everyone else. Haha. It was funny listening to it and laughing because of the mistakes they made. So my companion, Sister Jackson is from Texas NOT Wisconsin. And Elder Gibbs is not named Kevin but is named Devin. Yup! It's funny how they can sometimes get things wrong.

My district is pretty amazing. I love them sooo much! We are definitely exemplified unity. Last week, we did what is apparently called the "Pillar Challenge." So at the MTC and at the BYU Cannon center, they have these pillars full of cereal. As a zone (but it was our District's idea) we decided to to take the challenge of emptying out the pillar. I can honestly say that I felt sick afterwards. We decided on Captain Crunch, the berry one. I guess on missions, we have to do things to keep us laughing, having fun, and unified. Mission accomplished. (See picture below)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Father's Day! I hope that my daddy had a special Father's Day! Father's are so special. I just love that quote from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a mormon message: "Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father."  I know that our Heavenly Father loves us just as our earthly father loves us. How sweet it is to know that!

I love you all! Take care! Talk to you (by email) in Taiwan!!!!!!!!!  I'm soo ready for this. I leave you with part of the letter I wrote to my branch president that pretty much sums up my MTC experience.

"Wow! My time at the MTC has come and gone so quickly! I can only imagine what the rest of my mission will be like. In class yesterday, we discussed how missions really are such a short amount of time and we, as His servants, don't want to waste any minute of it. As I mentioned in my "Enduring to the End" talk in Sacrament one Sunday, it's tough knowing when the "end" is because it's just that much easier to start slacking off and getting "missionary-ritis" as I like to call it. It's similar to "senioritis" which I definitely had the last few months in high school. I've been praying so hard here at the MTC for help to keep going and improving and to not be complacent. That's how life is. We're never going to stop progressing, even in the Celestial Kingdom. I need to do my part if I want to show Heavenly Father that I can teach His children about His gospel.
Now that I'm towards to the end of my MTC experience, I got so discouraged looking back because I know that I could have done so much better preparing for the language. I felt that I let Heavenly Father down in preparing myself for the field. I didn't meet my goals and I didn't do a lot of the things I wanted to, as far as my language study goes. But now as I think about it, those feelings come from the adversary. I know that I tried. But it's those feelings of "I knew I could have done better" are the ones that I need to repent of. I'm grateful for this MTC experience, which has taught me so much and has given me a foundation of what I need to do when I'm in the field. I know that everything that I do is for the Lord and His children. All of the spiritual gifts that He gives me and will give me are for Him and for the benefit of my brothers and sisters.
I love His work and it is truly a privilege to be a part of it. My MTC experience is one that is so unique for me and is one that the Lord has given me to prepare me, personally, for the field. I know of His love because I have felt it."

Sister Sagisi (Xia JieMei)

We emptied that pillar!!!! Zone 25!

 Talk about beasts ;)

 Two of our Teachers, Sister Walbrecht and Sister Mack! We will miss them!!!



 With our Branch President, Pres. Woodfield, his wife and Bro. Seow, one of his counselors.


 Our lovely Zone!


 From Hawaii to Taiwan!!!

 Taiwan Taipei!!! That's Sister Howell! She's on the VISA fast track so her Mandarin is amazing!


 I really love them!

 Sisters in our Zone!

 Sister Bosler and Sister Karchtner going to Hong Kong China Cantonese speaking. We really grew close over these past 9 weeks.

 Love her!

Sister Weiss was the first to go :( Sydney Australia North here she comes!

 Boarding on the bus to go to the airport!

Then our Elders left! Elder Fu and Elder Gibbs off to Brisbane, Australia!

 There they go! And also forgot to mention Elder Badger and Elder Vang going off to Melbourne, Australia! I love my district!!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Travel Plans!

Dear Family,

First off, I got my travel plans! So I depart from Salt Lake City at 7:30am Tuesday, June 17. We arrive at Denver, CO at 9:05am. We have a 2 hour layover before we head to San Francisco. Then about an hour layover there. Then finally we go to Taiwan! Why do we go to Denver (in the opposite direction) first? I have no idea... But how crazy is this: We leave San Fran at 2:25pm June 17 and arrive in Taipei 6:30pm June 18.  Yes...lovely. But I guess this is a challenge to see how many people I can talk to on the plane! Challenge accepted!

So yes, it's my last week at the MTC. I am so excited but at the same time, I'm kind of sad. I'm sad to leave the friendships that I've made. We just found out some very sad news about my companion. So she won't be going to the Taiwan Taipei Mission with me anymore. She'll be having a change in assignment due to her surgery. We just found out this week. We don't know where she'll be reassigned to. It will have to go back to the apostles and she'll get her new assignment by the end of this week. I know that she was supposed to be in our MTC district and that her first call to Taiwan Taipei was not a mistake. I know that I was supposed to be her companion and accompany her through all of this. I am so excited for what the Lord has in store for her and I am so grateful for the opportunity He gave me to be a part of it.

I know I don't talk about our lessons here at the MTC a lot, but here's one that is definitely worth sharing. So we were teaching a new investigator. Her name is Guo Mama (it's a Chinese tradition to not take the name of the husband, so instead of being Sister Guo, she is the Mama of the Guo children). Well, her daughter who is a member, passed away just last month. But she was just so prepared to meet with us. She was willing to do anything that we asked. Well, on our first lesson, things were going so well that at the end of our lesson, I asked if she was willing to be baptized. And just like that she said, "Yuanyi" which means that she was willing. I asked her why and she gave her reasons of her daughter. I testified to her that I know her daughter knows that she's meeting with us right now and that she is so happy that she's willing to make this commitment. I just wanted to cry right then and there. But then when she asked "when" that's where I think I ruined the whole lesson...I really need to learn how to tell dates and things in Chinese. Haha. Well, at least I can teach and bare my testimony in Chinese! Hehe. ;) But seriously, I can testify that people are just so prepared for the gospel and that we should never be afraid to commit our investigators to baptism on the very first lesson. The Spirit will tell us when the time is right.

"People don't care about what you know until they know how much you care."

I love you all! Take care! Here's to my last full week at the MTC! I have a feeling an apostle will be coming tomorrow to our Tuesday Devotional...I can just feel it ;) But what do I know? Haha. I'll be sure to include that in my next email.

Sister Sagisi
 Beach volleyball with the district!!!

 Special VIP visit from Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi. She not only is a member of the Church but she is also the CEO of Namdeb, the largest diamond corporation in Namibia!!! Such a neat experience!

 My teacher who just got married this past weekend! She married the Elder from the District (Elder Christensen). And I just love my district.

 Sister Samowitz going to Nagoya Japan. She knows Hebrew...she's so awesome!!!!

 Oh you know, just tracting.

They were just too fast...

That's all for now. Wo ai nimen!