Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 24, 2010‏

Dear Friends and Family,

MORE AND MORE MIRACLES ARE HAPPENING EVERY DAY!!! It is absolutely fantastic! Where to even begin?

Well, for starters, There is the AMAZING Wang Family. The entire family finished all the lessons last week and had their baptismal interviews and they are ready to be baptized on Saturday! Yeah! The mom's name is ZheXuan, and the son and daughter are ShaoJun and ShaoYun. They are so fantastic. The son is 12 so he will be able to get the priestood and he is so excited to pass the sacrament. Seriously, every time one of those children prays I can feel heaven a little closer. It is like nothing I have ever experienced before. It is just so real. This is a picture of me and Sister Mac Issac and the daughter and the mom.
Also, once again, MIRACLES! We had a girl who came to English class who is amazing! Her name is Hong RaeYin and she is 17. She is just the cutest thing ever. I really adore her. Anyways, last week one of the Elders gave her a Book of Mormon after English class, and when we met with her a week later she was already over half way through First Nephi. Then when we met with her the next time she told us about an amazing experience she had where she knows God answered her prayers. It was so powerful! I just don't really know how to describe how miraculous and wonderful this is. She is just so prepared for the Gospel. She came to church yesterday and really liked it (despite the really strange sunday school lesson about hellfire and idols). She said she will come nest week and we are going to meet with her again in the middle of the week. Wow! It is amazing! Not only that, but she wants to learn to play the guitar, and she just received her aunt's old guitar, so last time we met I played "Teach me to Walk in the Light" while we all sang along. Ah! It was so wonderful. I love missionary work.

Also, another miracle! Ok, sometimes we are not as organized as we think we are, and for some reason Sister Mac Issac's stomach is never hungry, so despite my daily pleadings that if we don't eat I will pass out, sometimes things work against us. One day in particular was just like this. In the evening, we had appointments that ran long, so from 4-7 straight we were booked and crazy busy, and I was HUNGRY! Finally 7:15 rolls around and our lesson gets out and I am thinking, "If I don't eat soon I may die." We were chatting with the Elders about how busy (and hungry) we were today and just as we were leaving the door to get some FOOD one of our less active members walks in the door and says, "Sorry I'm late!" Of course I was happy to see her, but oh boy was I also hungry! So we sat down with her and had our lesson and it was almost 8 by that time, when she said, "I brought you something!" and she pulls out these baked goods from a member's bakery. I was so relieved! So she left and wouldn't you know it - right outside our classroom door there was another bag full of food from Seven Eleven that said, "And they took no thought for themselves what they should eat..." Our Elders are amazing! Elder Yeh and Elder Van Wagoner had bought us food! Ah! I truly know that in our hour of need, the Lord will provide! I have never felt so grateful for food in my life. Ever. EVER!
Also, this week I saw a bunch of HUGE BUGS! First, this spider, I kid you not, was hanging precariously above my parked bicycle and it is about the size of a fifty cent piece. Needless to say, I was NOT happy to see it there! Also, this slug is, like, as big as a camera. Seriously! What happened here?! I swear they feed their bugs HGH or something! Wow!

I think I have discovered the most challenging part of a sister missionary's life here in XinZhu. I want to pose the question - How on earth do you keep your skirt under control while riding a bicycle in a windstorm? Really, what to do? Good thing I bought those bicycle slips because there is just no way to avoid the inevitable! It is just a constant struggle here because the wind is so stinking DA! (BIG!) Evertime I am on my bike and a new gust of wind blows my skirt and my britches show all I can think is, "Ah! The life of a sister missionary! Itsn't it great?" It is a good thing I love riding my bike so much!

I read a talk this week by Elder Watson about temperance from Last October Conference and it had a quote I really liked that I wanted to share: "Being temperate means to carefully examine our expectations and desires, to be diligent and patient in seeking righteous goals." I really liked the entire talk, and this part in particular. I know that as we try to better ourselves, God doesn't expect it to happen all at once. The moment we decide to change, we have a long and sometimes painful road ahead of us, but as we stick to our decisions, as we patiently accept our downfalls and continue to try - just try our best - slowly we will become the kind of person God needs us to be. We need to carefully examine our expectations, and do all that we can, but in the end, "It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). Remember - God will never ask more than our best effort! Then, if we really give him our best, he promises to make us for the rest. I know this is true. I am so grateful for His grace - it truly makes me a better person that I could be otherwise.

Well, I hope all is well! I love you all very much!

Sister Collyer

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 17, 2010‏

Dear Friends and Family,

BAPTISM! Yeah! One more fantastic soul who has found the road to peace and eternal salvation through Christ. What a wonderful baptism it was!
Fan Yiwen was baptized on May 15, 2010 into the Xinzhu 3rd Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is a 19 year old college student working two jobs while going to school. Wow! She is one busy girl! And her testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so strong. the day before her baptism we met with her and asked her why she wanted to be baptized. She told us that she has been to a lot of other churches, and they are really good, but she always felt that there was something missing. When she came to our church and started learning the gospel, that part was filled. She knows it is true. Wow! Her testimony blew me away. I have a lot to learn from her example.

Her baptism was wonderful. A few of the members said a few words about why baptism is important and the blessings God has promised us as we embark on this journey. The missionaries in our area - there are eight of us total - sang "Come Thou Fount" for her, and it was fantastic. Our Elders really have great voices! Then one of the members of her ward baptized her. We had to do it twice because the first time her toe came out of the water. She was such a good sport about it! She is so willing to do anything that God commands. After the actual baptism she shared her own personal testimony and then said, "Sister Mac Issac and Sister Collyer are like my mom and my big sister." We joked a little afterwards about who is the mom and who is the sister. :) But really, the spirit was so strong. All that were there could really feel the peace and joy of the Lord. My heart was so full. I felt like I was in a beautiful garden with the breeze blowing through my hair with all of the people I love around me. That is what it felt like for me. I am so grateful for this gospel. It is so true when Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). Gods peace is truly whole and complete, and when we follow in Jesus' footsteps, we can find that peace. I know this is true. I have felt it in my own life as I have tried to do the things God expects of me. I am so grateful that despite shortcomings, God loves me enough to grant me this peace.

After the baptism, our Elders were so exhausted from helping us out that they collapsed! Not really. We were learning some relaxation techniques, but it just looks so funny. This is how hard we work our missionaries in Taiwan! (See picture)
MIRACLE! Yeah! This week has brought one HUGE miracle that I am so excited to tell you all about!

We have a family of investigators - Sister Wang and her two children. We have been teaching them for a while, but Sister Wang has been really hesitant to really commit to baptism. The night of Fan Yiwen's baptism, Sister Wang called. She asked us, "What do I need to do to get my family baptized as soon as possible?" Woa! What was that? A MIRACLE, that's what! We are going to meet with her and her children every day this week and next week, and their goal is to be baptized on May 29, 2010. Pray for us! We have a lot of material to cover before their baptismal interview, but I know that all will fall in place if we just trust in God and do our best to prepare. The gospel is true! Their family truly is prepared. They have such fantastic faith, it just took Sister Wang a while to realize it, but now that she has, she is all in! Wow! What a great example of faith and diligence and willingness. It is fantastic!

Last Wednesday we were able to go up to Taipei to visit the Temple. It was a much needed boost. It is amazing the comfort that the temple brings. Sometimes the work is hard. Sometimes I am just to prideful and I do not want to change, but there in the Temple, in the House of the Lord, I am always reminded of my divine heritage, and the power of God. He truly has the power to bring about anything. I know that if we have faith in Jesus Christ we will be able to do things we normally would not be able to do. I was reading in the Bible Dictionary under "Grace" and it talks about this power. I know it is true because every day I pray to God to help me overcome seemingly impossible trials - the language, teaching, contacting, and other things - and every day I feel his support. If we rely on the Grace of Jesus Christ, we really can become more than we could ever imagine. I am so grateful for this knowledge!

In other, more lighthearted news, We took out our garbage this week! Yeah! When we pulled it out and put it all in the kitchen together, it nearly covered the entire floor! We are just so busy that simple little chores get put off until suddenly the task is overwhelming! I think it is one of those funny little ironies of missionary life.
Also, this week one of our zone leaders hit his two year mark on island! Elder Van Wagoner has officially been in Taiwan for two years! Wow! His companion, Elder Yeh, made him this bag to celebrate his 2nd birthday. :) Since a lot of you many not know what "Larry" means, let me briefly explain. A "Larry" is a white guy who comes to Taiwan to find a wife. Yep! I love our Elders!
Well, that is about it for this week! I love you all and hope all is well! Keep sending the letters - they are a huge support!


Sister Collyer

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 12, 2010‏

Dear Family and Friends,

Nihao again from the beautiful island. I have one word to describe this week - MIRACLES!!!

This week one of our investigators interviewed form baptism, and she passed!!! We are having a baptism this Saturday! One more soul on the path back to Eternal happiness! And she is simple amazing! Her name is Fan Yiwen. She is nineteen, and she just has so much faith! In one of our past lessons with her we asked, "will you pray to know the church is true?" And she said, " I already have. I know it is true. I have felt it in my heart. I know it." Wow! It blew me away! When I was nineteen I was definitely not that sensitive to the promptings of the spirit. God definitely needs her! I think she will make a great missionary one day.

Also, the other miracle, and this one is HUGE! This week I went on Exchanges. I went over to Zhubei to work with Siuster Dowdle. Sister Dowdle was in the MTC one transfer ahead of me, but her visa had problems for a couple weeks so she actually got in Taiwan only two weeks before me. So basically, we are at the same level when it comes to speaking Chinese - and we were alone doing the work in Zhubei. Scary! But let me tell you, I have never felt the strength of the Lord so strong as I did with Sister Dowdle. I think it is because we both knew we could not do it alone, and we prayed like a million times that day for his help! In the one day we spent together, we got about ten peoples numbers and set up a couple people with appointments for the Elders through tracting and just walking and talking to people It was amazing! People understood us, and we understood them and I just can't tell you how much I believe in MIRACLES now! We really focused our efforts on finding potential priesthood holders for the ward since the ward really needs them, and we found a couple people who really seemed prepared. It was such a blessing! And at lunch we ate in a park and a woman walked up to us and said, "I want you to teach me son. He is nineteen can I have your number?" Wow! It was amazing! And once when I was at a stoplight the car next to me rolled their window down to talk to me and get our information. Wow!

A little funny story that happened on that same day. Ok, really, two funny stories. One, there was this gigantic crane that slowly screeched up next to us at a light, and Sister Dowdle (who is probably one of the smallest missionaries in our mission - even compared to the Taiwanese sisters!) shouted up to him and invited him to church. Also, at another light, when we stopped Sister Dowdle pulled up nest to this frilly, pink, sparkly bike with this cute little girl on it and stared talking to her, and I pulled up next to the most intense looking Neon Green racing bike. The man on it was in full racing gear and his bike was loud and had three exhaust pipes and, I don't know, it was just really intense. The contrast was hilarious! Her with her frilly pink bike, and him with his racing bike. I love Taiwan!

Also another quick story. Last Monday my district went to Cold stone, and the had a game going on that if you won, you get a buy one get one free coupon. The game was rock paper scissors! I used Rebecca's excellent strategy and I got my companion and me a coupon! It was great!

Well, Unfortunately I don't have much time today, so that is about it! I am off to Taipei to visit the temple, and I am so excited!

Wo ai nimen!

Sister Collyer

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010‏

Dear Family and Friends!

Wow, I cannot believe it has already been an entire week! Time is flying by so fast! Ah, make it slow down, please!

This week was another week filled with miracles. On Tuesday I had a new and very different English-boarding experience. I told you earlier that in Danshui we walked around a public square to English board and people came to us. Well, here there really are no public squares, so English boarding has a completely different meaning. One of the Elders in our district stands on a street corner with a huge yellow board advertising and the rest of us run out into the street when the light is green and hand our flyers to people on scooters or knock on peoples windows until they open them so we can tell them about English Class. My companion even talked to a bus for a little bit before the light turned! It was crazy. I kind of prefer the Danshui experience, but this one was definitely an adventure!

On Wednesday we had English Class and it was a great experience. Sister Mac Isaac and I teach the children's class, and it was really fun! She is great at entertaining the kids while still keeping them under control. Before she came on her mission she taught English in China, so she is right at home in that classroom, and it really shows! It was a great experience.

Thursday was probably my favorite day of the week. We rode our bikes out to a part of our area that was a little bit further away, which I loved! We spent most of the time visiting members and investigators, and riding our bikes between their houses. It was like one happy experience followed by another! I loved it! Also, I have a funny story about one of the places we stopped by. We visited a member to invite her to stake conference next week, and she invited us in. She proceeded to feed us lemon and vinegar drink and to punch my companion's behind! What?!

Ok, now for a little explanation - the vinegar and lemon drink is something that people in Taiwan really like a lot. As for me, well, definitely not my favorite. It tastes like lemon. And vinegar. Neither of those are on the top of my list of drinkable things, and mixed together they are not any better! And punching my companion's behind - here in Taiwan when muscles in the back are sore (and for missionaries riding bikes, that is often) they punch all the muscles in the behind and legs to make them loosen up and feel better. Still, in was a hilarious experience for me!

That evening we had an amazing miracle! We were headed back into our apartment complex when we saw a car with a Bumper sticker from the church, so we knew it was a member. We walked over to say hello, and it turned out being an inactive member form the Danshui area! He said he has been inactive for ten years. We talked to him for a bit and then he looked at my companions name and said, "Hey, I once knew an elder with your same name - Qu." She said, "really? Because that is my brother." She proceeded to pull a picture of her brother out of her bag and the man said, "Yes, that is Him!" Then he saw my name and said, "And when he was here, his companion's name was Ke!" We marveled for a minute at the miracles of the Lord, and we asked him what his desire for his young daughter was. He said he wants her to marry a returned missionary. We convinced him to read the Book of Mormon and get in touch with the Elders in his area. It was really amazing! Talk about a situation set up by God. It really affirmed to me that God is guiding this work - from the beginning! God cares so much for all of his children and knows exactly what each person needs.

Now, for a little bit of explanation. My companion's family are not members, and are very anti Mormon. When she joined the church, her family disowned her. A family in her ward practically adopted her, and she calls them her mom and brothers and sisters. So the Elder that the man knew was the oldest son in this family. My companion really gave up a lot for God, and it really is touching. I have a lot to learn from her example about sacrifice and service.

On Saturday we went over to the You family's home for family home evening, and it was fantastic! It was a ward event, and there was so much food that out of the thirty or so people there we only ate about half of it! Also, they gave a spiritual thought and had a game, which was great! I want to tell you a little bit about the game because it is a funny little story. one person stands in the middle and is blindfolded. They choose an animal and spin around in a circle and point at someone and that person has to make the animal sound, and then the blindfolded person has to guess who it is. Now imagine me in a room full of people who I do not know their names, and even if I did know their names I probably couldn't pronounce them. Also, I had no idea what animal sound to make when they landed on me. So of course, when one of the men landed on me, I tried my best to guess which sound to make, and he guessed it was me! Then I had to be the blindfolded person! Ah, I was horrified! Still, it was fun. When I had to guess who it was, I just guessed people's shirt color and eventually I got it right! It was a fun experience, and everyone was really nice and encouraging.

Church was an awesome adventure! We cover three wards here and luckily all of them meet in the same building. Unluckily, that means we are in church from 8:30am-6:00pm! Wow, talk about a long day! Still, it was great to meet the members and get to know people a little bit. I think I am really beginning to understand people. When I don't understand at least I know how to say, "Could you say that again, please?" Everyone is pretty nice here at helping me out, and I can feel myself improving little by little every day! It is great!

As for our investigators, I have met two really awesome people with baptismal dates - Wang Jiemei and Fan Yiwen. Wang Jiemei is a mom, and she is so great! She loves the gospel and seems to really understand how important it is to be baptized! She and her kids will all be baptized later this transfer, and I am really excited! Fan Yiwen in nineteen years old and is going to be baptized in two weeks. She is awesome! She talks really, really fast, so most of the time I really don't understand when she is saying, but every time we teach her a commandment she says she is willing to obey. She also has a testimony of God and Jesus and is just so great! I am really excited she is going to be baptized!

My companion and I are doing great. As I said earlier, it is her first time being a senior companion, and so far so good. She is really passionate about being a "Preach my Gospel Missionary," and I swear she knows the book inside out. I can't even count the amount of times I have her her say, "In Preach my Gospel..." or "Preach my Gospel says..." It is hilarious and inspiring at the same time. I can feel some more miracles coming soon because of it!

Also, I just had to add this picture. This is our scale. I think it provides the foolproof weight loss plan. :)

Time is short, but I love you all very much! Keep writing, it is great to hear form you!

Sister Collyer