Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 1 Again

 Memories of Harry Potter
da jia hao!!
Well, I guess I'll take care of the elephant in the room.. I finally made it to Taiwan!!! I have loved every minute of it so far.  It is 100% different, but I just love it all.  I was definitely blessed and comforted to run into a missionary mom in the Tokyo airport, and a family whose son served here that was coming back to visit.  I think Heavenly Father knows exactly what I needed, and for that I am so thankful. It wasn't hard to say good bye to everyone in Georgia until I was actually gone, and then my mind raced with all the people I’m going to miss so much.  From here on out, all I see is Asian people.  I'm really going to miss the huge variety!   I talked to Pres Harding in the airport, and he told me that the Lord was proud of my work, and that I had accomplished everything I needed to do in Georgia.  Boy, did I need to hear that.  Pres Day seemed like he had a lot of trust for me already, and helped me feel that I can accomplish everything I need to in my short time here.  
It was so good to meet President and Sister Day.  I forgot they're from Tennessee and they knew Cami! Sister Day has made me feel at home, especially when she uses her little Southern phrases. President Day is way different! Obviously.  He's just fun haha.  Our first morning, he went on a run with us to see the Chang Kai Shek memorial. I think it was the memorial place for the guy who founded Taiwan or something haha, I haven’t got it all straight yet.  It was way cool though! We also went to see the place where Taiwan was dedicated as a place to preach the gospel.  We all took the chance to dedicate our own missions and fully recommit to do our very best.  That was a cool experience!
 A cool hotel, and the place that Taiwan was dedicated for missionary work is right outside here
 Sister Pendergrass, Westover, and me by the temple.  First day in Taiwan!
The night before transfer meeting, we got 'babysat' by the new trainers, and I got to go contacting with Sister Bowman! That was really weird to see her in a different setting other than the MTC, but way fun! I miss her! Transfer meetings are way different too! They're a party, and I love it.  
So my new tongban is Sister Strong! or qiang jiemei.  She's from Hooper, Utah, and she was the generation older than me in the MTC! It's been fun to reunite (: She likes basketball and soccer, so we have fun in the morning exercises! Luckily, she was just barely with a bendi tongban, so she learned a lot of characters and knows how to get around now. 
 Sister Strong
I’ve seen almost everyone in my district from the MTC and more.  Elder Gray is in our ward, as well as Elder Wheeler, from qiang JM's district, and two other elders from the generation after us.  I'm in the Yilan ward, and we're in a little town called Luodong.  They say it's pretty country, but there's still parts that look like the city to me.  Maybe just because there are a million rice fields! 
 Taiwan, Taipei temple!  We get to go next month!
The ward is awesome though, everyone was so happy to see me, and everyone asked why my zhongwen is so good. Haha I'm still not sure if I should believe them, or if it's just a thing they say. 
The bike riding has been fine with a skirt, but I'll have eternal bruises on my butt! Maybe one day I'll get used to it. We're still waiting to get mine, so I've just used a rental. I'm pro at chopsticks, since I learned how to used them back with Sister Watts.  Thank goodness. 
Sorry, my mind is buzzing everywhere! If you want to know more about something, just let me know (: but here's some random things about Taiwan:
skinny roads
scooters EVERYWHERE. I want one!
sewer smells.. I'll get used to it
I thought Georgia was humid.. Taiwan is SO HUMID.  Sister Day walked outside from the mission home and her glasses fogged up.
the showers (ours at least) are on the same floor and space as the toilet.  So everything gets wet. 
We only have A/C in our sleeping room, and our study room.  That's where se spend most of our time at home
So we don't have cockroaches, we put food trash (like apple cores and such) in the freezer until the garbage man comes.  They don't have dumpsters, so the garbage man comes around probably every day and goes to people that are standing outside with trash
the garbage truck sounds like a sad ice cream truck
they have weird dongxi (stuff) in the drinks!
you go up to someone and ask them chibaole ma? (have you eaten yet?)
ba.  That's how you express uncertainty.  Best word ever.
You can spray your bum when you're done if you would like... 
I'm sorry I didn't take advantage of that.
 This is either really safe, or really creepy
 Snagged this gem while biking along...
Taiwan yidian (a little) reminds me of Peru.  Sometimes the people here even look latin.  I don't know if that's my mind playing tricks on me, or Heavenly Father's way of sending me the people I originally wanted to go to. The people are wonderful though! On our first day, a guy gave me two apples to welcome me.  Everyone will give you water or some kind of fruit.
For the most part, I feel confused all the time.  I can pick up a few words here and there, but it's a struggle. I know it will come though.  President has us work on Phase 1, which is basically where you learn a million teaching phrases, vocab, and other stuff.  I wish I was studying this for the past 8 months, but I'll make up for it! 
rice fields for days
 women de jia! I guess you could call it an apartment complex
Hahah everything about rice farms make me laugh.  
They tie them up before cutting it, and they look like little ponytails!

It's really cool to see how the gospel is exactly the same even when you're half way across the world.  They teach out of the same book, you feel the same spirit, and church goes the same way.  It's comforting.  And it's such a testimony to me that Heavenly Father loves His children everywhere, even if they don't believe in Him yet.  He loves them just as much.  I'm so grateful for the fullness of the gospel that we have, and for this opportunity that I get to serve two missions.  I'm so sad that I won't be here for the full 18 months, but I'm taking advantage of every minute here that I have.  

Love, Feng Jiemei (:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tokyo Airport

Hi there,
My family is going to Taiwan with our RM son who served in Taipei and he is having a great conversation with your daughter in the Tokyo airport, where we are all awaiting our flight to Taiwan.  She looks fantastic and seems in great spirits.  She met up with two other sisters and they all came in together to Taipei where the mission president picked them up.  They seemed tired, but happy and excited! Just wanted to let you know she's doing great!
All the best,
Betsy VanDenBerghe and family

Monday, June 22, 2015

Farewell to Hotlanta

Happy Father's Day!!!
To my favorite daddy, and my grandpas, brothers (only Scott and Manuel. Haha maybe next year Brigham and Joseph!), and all those who have touched my life (: Daddy, I love you so much.  Thank you for being an amazing example of one who would serve the Lord for anything and any time. I can't even tell you how much I've learned from you, and I'm so thankful for all of our little daddy-daughter times we had gardening, fishing, driving and who knows what else!
          The district--Elders Gallovich and Hamilton, us, Elders Gebauer and Hollingsworth (DL)
This week was a wonderful last week in Atlanta.  I realized that I think this transfer was more for me like a training for Taiwan than anything else.
 The Atlanta North elders from the YSA ward, E Zimmerman, Rigtrup
 We really didn't teach many people, and as of right now, we have about a half of a progressing investigator.  But we've had a million opportunities to find people street contacting, store contacting and in visiting with people at the park.  Before this transfer (and even the first few weeks) that was probably my biggest weakness! But now I feel a lot more comfortable just talking to anyone.  Bring it on, airport! I'll have to tell y'all later about Sister Echols' story that inspired me to become better at contacting, but I have sure come to love teaching and sharing the gospel.  Before the mission, I was terrified to give a sunday school lesson! Looking back, I can see clearly how Heavenly Father has been molding me into the person He knows I can become.  What a miracle.
 Silly elders--they thought they could fool us!
 Drained after a long Sunday
Jordan finally received his answer and ended up dropping us.  It's really too bad! He loves the idea of eternal families and baptisms for the dead, but just can't wrap his mind around some other things.  I think right now maybe just isn't the right time.  But we definitely planted a big seed.  He even told us this last week that he developed a faith in Christ that he didn't know if he would ever get back.  So, I guess we fulfilled our purpose in a different way.
 Just keeping our eyes on the road
 district selfie
 Saying goodbye to the Sandy Springs sisters-Sisters Creech and Manakofua
Chao is doing well, he reads all the pamphlets we give him, and makes little Chinese notes and questions (: and he came to church again yesterday! He made friends with Shuping, a girl in the ward who is also from China.  I pray that he'll get baptized!!
Chinese candy!  This includes beef...
This week I also got to use my Spanish a ton! Haha one time, this guy from Colombia just started going off at me, and somehow I responded perfectly in Spanish.  That's the gift of tongues if nothing else.  I know I'll have that same blessing in Taiwan! I've been surprised at how many people we've met from Mexico, specifically people from Brig's mission like Altamirano, Guerrero, and something like Chipotle. They always think it's so cool that I speak Spanish, and also that my brother has been to where they're from.  Connections are wonderful (:
We had to go to Pep boys this week to get an oil change, and it was like a 3 hour wait, so naturally we decided we'd make the best of our time and just walk the streets.  I felt like a real missionary walking the crazy streets of Atlanta! It was sweet. We talked to homeless people,  (did I ever mention that we also live down the street from a homeless shelter?), sweated a bunch, and talked to everyone.  I'm definitely going to miss HOTlanta!

Haircut with Mitch and Alyssa at the church
I'm especially grateful for the time I've had with Sister Manzer.  She has taught me so much, and helped me be the missionary I need to be for Taiwan. We have had so much fun together, laughed, cried, and felt the spirit together.  She's amazing (: 

Sad to say good bye
It just hit me this morning that I'm actually leaving this wonderful area! I will be leaving tomorrow at 12:30 in the afternoon.  I'll be all by myself, so I'm a little nervous about the whole airport experience since I've never been flown alone, and it seems like a lifetime ago that I was even alone for anything! It will be great though!  For 10 months, I've been praying that I will meet someone in the airport or on the plane who is prepared to receive the message I have been set apart to give.  Sister Mason (the mission nurse) called and told me she'd be taking me to the airport.  THIS IS REAL. I'M GOING TO TAIWAN!!!  I don't know how to express excitement in Chinese or I totally would, but WHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Until next time! I love y'all (:

Love, Sister Facer
Good-bye to Sister Manzer, and my taxi driver, Sister Mason

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nothing's Better Than a Great Day in Georgia

 Humid day at the park
 Always a good time at Good Will
 Last picture with Pres. and Sis. Harding
 I came out with Sis. Barry
Happy Monday y'all!!
What a  wonderful week.  I'm still on cloud 9 from last week's news, and I'm just so excited to see what will happen for my last week or so in Georgia.  First though, thanks mom for the package! I loved it (: And tell the Gonzalez' thank you for that awesome talk, and Sharon for her Christmas letter! That was a little rude to make me wait, haha, but I promise I'll save it until Christmas (: Also, Happy birthday on Thursday, Lys!! I hope it's a great day (:
Wow, mom, that's sweet that you had so many connections this week! Definitely tell Jenna hello (you've come in a few times while we were working together) and I'll be sure and look for Sister Johnson.  I was debating on whether I should take my big coats that I inherited, or if I should just buy a raincoat there.

Our Fab 4

 Sister's P day! Me, sister Manzer, Russell (from AZ) and Aiono (from Australia)

Exchanges with Sister Russell
Anyway, this week was great! We had our last two exchanges, and they went really well.  I stayed in our area with Sister Russell (from Atlanta ward, they live in the same apt complex) and it was awesome! Haha we were walking down the street and I said hello to an Asian, then I choked! She asked me why I didn't talk to her, and I wasn't sure why! So she yells at her from like 30 feet away and asks if she speaks Mandarin.  Haha whatever works, right? It was sweet though! Her name is Alice, and we just spoke in Mandarin and I told her what we do, and we'll be teaching her more this week (: Yay!! That built my confidence in my Mandarin, and lead to another experience back with Sister Manzer and I talked to a whole family of Asians! One of them was even Christian! They weren't interested, and I'm not sure how to deal with rejection in Chinese yet, but I'll get better! Wo ai zhonggo ren (:
Sister Gubler (she reminds me of Katie Henderson)
Then we did exchanges with the Smyrna sisters, and I went with Sister Gubler.  We're like the same people! She loves soccer, piano, the ukulele and we're just going to be  besties when we get home (: She recently got an ingrown toenail fixed so we couldn't do much, but I think the exchange was more for me than for her.  We just talked forever, and she helped me get some stress off my back so that was wonderful! 

Me, Sis. Gubler, Manzer, and Suda!  They're the cutest (:
We did have one lesson this week that really stuck out to me.  We were teaching Jordan with two members there, and we decided to go back to prophets and watch the restoration video.  That thing does wonders! Most of the time, anyway.  For a second, he was caught up on John 3:16 and how we only need to believe to be saved, and we don't need baptism.  Somehow we ended the lesson on a great note, and asked him to pray specifically to know if Joseph Smith is a true prophet and if the Book of Mormon is true.  It was awesome! Haha usually when we do that, people still pray in their own way with their set little sayings, but Jordan was so sincere! He asked specifically, and then waited for what seemed like 10 minutes.   The spirit was so strong, and we were all praying that he would feel the spirit that was in the room, too.  We left it at that, and told him to write down his experience.  He told us that since we've been meeting, he's been able to regain his faith in Jesus Christ, and he never thought he'd be able to do that again.  That was very fulfilling to hear.  He'll definitely take a little longer, but he's doing so good! Jordan is amazing.
 Sis. Manzer doesn't like to actively kill bugs, so she lets them suffer a long and painful death

Missionaries: 1, Cockroach: 0
bug bite, mole, bug bite, bug bite

 It's like herding cats
Seriously, things are just wonderful. I've even got to use what little Spanish I can remember with a lot of people! Haha all I can say now is that we represent Jesus Christ and we have a very important message about the restoration of his church. And the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ! and then I get their number and tell them that better Spanish-speaking missionaries will call them (: haha works every time. I have loved every minute here.  I'm so thankful to be a missionary, and that I am happy, healthy, and growing every day spiritually.  I can't think of a better thing to be doing.

Love, Sister Facer