Sunday, January 31, 2016

Staying in Hualien!

THE BEST District I've ever been in. It's been really cool seeing how unity in the missionaries can really build up an area. All of us stayed except for Elder Casper. We will miss him so much! 
I'm staying in HuaLien! I'm seriously so happy to be here. And Sister Haupt and I are going on our 4th transfer together! My mission just gets happier and happier with every transfer. And this week has been so incredible. Having faith in our area and in our investigators has made all the difference in their progression.

We met with Cai again this week and he's doing so well. Unfortunately, we had to pass him over to the sisters in the other ward because he lives like 2 houses outside of our area. But our stake president talked about how we are called to build up the area in where we are serving, and it's cool that we still get to build up all of HuaLien together. The sisters had a hard time getting a hold of him this week, so on Sunday we had a feeling to call him right before ward council and when we looked at our phone he had just called us. So we called him back and he said he was at the church to attend the 1:30 sacrament! It was so happy! 

Best investigator ever! Cai Cheng Zhu. We will miss teaching him, but I'm super excited for him to be coming closer to Christ.
Li Chong Wei is also doing amazing. We meet with him almost every other day because he loves reading the scriptures with us. We are teaching him the commandments right now, starting off with the Word of Wisdom. He has a smoking problem, so it was a little hard for him to accept it. But he understands how it will bless him. After teaching the lesson, we invited him to follow it again and then after thinking for a second, he decided he didn't want to be controlled by a substance anymore. Sister Haupt and I also told him that we will go off all sweets to support him, haha. It's been really cool seeing him smoke less and less everyday. We asked him if he's seen a difference and he said he really has. It's been so fulfilling seeing people make real changes in their lives that actually make them happier.

Yang Mang Fang is also doing amazing! Seriously everything we taught her this week were things that she already studied on her own while reading the Book of Mormon. The other day, I shared this scripture with her while we were explaining how to recognize the Holy Ghost in Moroni 7:

"12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God;and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually,and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God."

And then she was like "Oh yeah, I've read this before" haha. Sister Haupt and I just laughed. She is coming so close to baptism. She came to church for the second time yesterday literally 2 minutes before sacrament meeting started. Her car broke down on her way to church so she ran into the chapel all frantic, but it worked out well. It was a very inspired sacrament meeting. We actually had our Mission President come down to HuaLien with his family to speak. He spoke about a time when he was giving an investigator a second baptismal interview since he had been involved in an abortion, and how this man was able to be relieved from this burden through repenting. Yang cried through the whole meeting, and later we found out it was because she, too, has been involved in abortions. In China, they don't allow you to have too many children. So, she's just had this burden placed upon her for years and years that she feels like she can't get rid of. She's been so excited for her baptism, but I feel like promising her that baptism will take away that grief helped her better understand why she needs to be baptized.

I think this has been the happiest time on my mission because I am so blessed to see people literally change their lives. I wish I could just spend an eternity sitting down with people and talking with them about God, and watching them feel the spirit for the first time. I've grown such a testimony that the teachings of Christ will bring us more happiness and peace than we could ever ask for. Developing faith has also been very life changing for me. I have seen first hand what it means to believe in people in comparison to doubting that they will change their life. Believing in and loving people is just a happier way to live.

Well, I've written enough. That's all for this week!
Sister Hendricks

過年! Chinese New Year is coming up this week! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

HuaLien: The Best of the Best

I don't even know where to begin with how much this transfer has taught me. I've loved every part of it. I feel like I've learned so much, and being with Sister Haupt as well as such a unified zone has been so memorable, and we have all grown together. It's been so uplifting and fulfilling as we've all been able to strengthen each other. I'm grateful that I've loved every day of this transfer.

Transfers are this week! The process of moving at the transfers has changed. Before hand, you'd go to Taipei if you were moving for a transfer meeting where they basically announce where you're going and who your companion is going to be as if you're part of the Oscars. Super fun, but definitely a waste of time. Now, they call us on Wednesday and let us know if we're moving or not and then we leave on Thursday to our new assigned area. My whole mission, I've been in each area for only two transfers. Let's just say that I hope I break that streak and stay here..

I think the biggest thing I learned this transfer was how to choose to have faith and choose to believe. Sister Haupt and I have put everything into believing in our investigators and having faith that they can be baptized. As I've earnestly prayed and worked for this attribute, it's been amazing the results we've seen. In the past 3 weeks, we've met some of the most prepared people I've ever taught. As we plan for their lessons and then go into teach them with actual faith that they will start progressing, the feeling is completely different. When we meet with them, it's so much more than just a lesson. It actually feels real. It feels like we are making a difference.

Yang Ming Fang continues to progress at rocket speed. We taught her the Plan of Salvation this week, and it was so beautiful and powerful. She understood it so well. She's also been reading the Book of Mormon everyday and she says she really feels something as she reads it. She even attended a baptism with us on Saturday night and then came to church for her first time on Sunday. As well as our other incredible investigator Li Chong Wei. He's a college student and was a referral from the Elders in the other ward - also really seeking for truth. They both had the best experience ever. We were a little nervous about taking them to one of the church classes, because the teacher usually goes off topic or teaches really deep, or incorrect doctrine.. haha. But he wasn't there today so our Bishop offered to help us out and he taught the PERFECT lesson. Everything about it was perfect! They both have baptismal dates for February 20th and I've never been more positive about an investigator achieving their goal. I'm so excited for them! 

Seeing all of these changes in our area has been so rewarding. It was a bit more difficult when I first got here, but everything is really looking up. I've never put so much heart and soul into anything in my life to leave this area better than I found it. It's taught me so much hard work and diligence. At first, it made me a little nervous that I might be moving again this week, and that I wouldn't be able to see our investigators be baptized next month. But as I've tried to align my will with God's will (whatever it may be), I've found peace in that I have done my part to help our investigators by honestly believing in them and having faith in them.  I feel so happy that I've been able to see this part of each of our investigators' conversion and to feel God's love for them.

The people I've met this transfer have a place in my heart. I will forever be so grateful for the experience I've had here in HuaLien.

Sister Hendricks

Don't the mountains remind you of Utah?
Our beautiful Chapel!
YingJie came to HuaLien!!! She goes to the Salt Lake Temple Square Mission on Feb. 22nd! I will definitely be visiting temple square to get a Chinese Tour of the Salt Lake temple when I get back :)

Grocery shopping in Taiwan!
Exchanges with sister Kitchens! I have never laughed so hard in my life than when I was with her. Hahaha we had way too many good laughs that day.
I will never get sick of this view!
Us with Yang Ming Fang!! Ah I love her!
We went to a 7-11 for like 5 minutes to warm up my fingers with the sweet potatoes. 
​So I never thought this would happen... but IT GOT COLD. And yes, it is as freezing as they say. I feel like it's been a really long time since I've been in this cold of weather. I heard it even snowed up in Taipei. All I'm saying is I am very impressed with missionaries that are sent to freezing cold missions. Luckily, winter is almost over here :)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I've learned that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is completely simple!

I wish I could leave my weekly email to just that one sentence to emphasize my point. But fortunately, I have too many stories to back it up. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is (as I've learned since a young age) faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. Yet in between all of the other doctrines or commandments given to us, or all of the little things we do as members of the church such as attend church activities, complete things such as personal progress or Duty to God, prepare to serve missions, take seminary, etc., the point and purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ gets lost, and all of those other things become meaningless. This relates 100% with missionary work. 

The first step to everything we do is faith. And I would say that before my mission, I considered myself a pretty faithful person. I felt like that was a strength of mine that I could put all of my trust in God, because of my relationship with Him that I had worked hard at to develop. Of course coming on a mission, I've had my faith tested by doing a work for a year and a half that could not be done without faith. 

In this mission, our mission president has a standard set for every missionary to help at least one person be baptized every month. I haven't made that standard on my mission. I've worked really hard, I've kept positive my whole mission, I'm always setting goals, I'm not letting myself get discouraged, etc. But the other day, our Zone Leader called us to talk with us. They said they did some statistics with the Assistants while they were on exchanges this past week. They said they noticed that the missionaries that get baptisms every month are usually the same missionaries every month. They asked those missionaries why they were able to do that, and they all replied that they believed they could do it. They had faith in their investigators. 

As I thought about that, I realized I had lacked in faith towards that standard. I didn't realized how necessary faith was and why we need to believe in the people we teach. I feel like I covered it up with saying they weren't prepared, or that I was serving God in other ways other than by helping people to be baptized. But really, the big thing missing, and the thing that I want to develop more than anything is complete faith. Our District Leader said that there's a difference between believing that God CAN do these things, and believing that He WILL do these things.

So, this realization has brought me to repentance, yet given me so much hope for the time I have left. And I can testify that it's already brought miracles! Sister Haupt and I did two exchanges this week - both of which brought many, many new investigators into our area, including our most prepared investigator - Yang. I don't even have enough time or space to write about her and how much I love her!! But basically, Sister Haupt and Sister Beeston met her on exchanges, and she literally lives 3 floors above our Bishop (about 80% of the people we've met recently all seem to live outside of our area). She is from Mainland China so she has the COOLEST accent! She moved here not 6 months ago since her husband is Taiwanese. As most of you may know, there is very little religious freedom in China, but Yang has always wanted to believe in a God despite the atmosphere she grew up in. They met her on Tuesday and we've met with her two more times since then because she's so interested in knowing more. At first, she seemed really weirded out by Joseph Smith and the priesthood that's been restored to this church. She's very real and doesn't believe things right away, so teaching her about the Holy Ghost was probably the most spiritual lesson I've ever been in. She was so moved that she could find out for herself through the power of the Holy Ghost.

We had her over for dinner at a member's house yesterday and she said she's been praying for truth her whole life and she feels like she's close to finding her answer. Our member opened his mouth and told her that meeting two missionaries the other day was already an answer to her prayers, and the spirit filled the room.

As I've pondered on this as well as other occurrences that have happened this week, I've realized that faith is the first and most important step. It's really as simple as that! Developing the faith is next - it takes effort on our part. Prayer, study, pondering, patience. But the reward is more beautiful than anything else I've ever experienced. We can literally put our faith in God. He is our creator and our Father in Heaven and He LOVES us. He wants us to have happy lives. We can trust that not only CAN He give us everything we need, but also that He WILL.

Too great of a week. TOO GREAT. I wish I had more time to talk about every little thing that happens every day that strengthens my faith. There's just too much good in this world to even express or grasp! 

Okay last thing - On Sunday, I was asked to do a lot of things that I just can't do haha. They invited me to play the piano in sacrament meeting to accompany our Bishop singing A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, and then to translate all 3 hours of church for some travelers from America. Definitely thrown out of my comfort zone. But it was really cool applying faith into those things, and seeing how much God has helped me in learning Chinese on my mission when I thought it would be impossible when I first arrived. As well as bringing some piano skills back to memory on the spot haha. 

Well I hope that's not too long. Tried to keep it as simple as possible. Have a great week!
Sister Hendricks

Exchanges with Sister Roberts! Probably the best exchange I've ever been on. She's been on island for only about 4 weeks. And guess where she's from? Marietta, Georgia! I'm so grateful for the life-long friends I've made on my mission. 
Frisbee in the rain at 6 AM with the BEST ZONE EVER!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hello Everybody!

The perks of taking train rides to Taidong!
Hello everybody!

So for the past 3 or so weeks, our area has done nothing but stand still or fall backward, right? And I'll say it hasn't been the easiest phase of my mission, and it's difficult to not immediately blame myself. But once again, being put into a difficult, uncomfortable situation has really humbled me and taught me how to keep going. The Brethren of the church have the standard set really high for the Zone and Sister training leaders to have a "model" area. An area that makes all of the key indicators every week. An area that helps at least one person be baptized per month. An area with a HUGE teaching pool of investigators all progressing, and always teaching people and preparing them for baptism, etc. It's put some stress on Sister Haupt and I, but we came into this transfer with a lot of faith. Yet, as week after week passes, and we feel like we've made zero changes in our area, it's been harder to believe that our area will start progressing.

This week was exactly what we needed though. We had another one of those weeks where we spent most of our week traveling to and from places to do Zone Meetings, and then exchanges with the Temple Sisters up in Taipei, and it was hard to believe that we would still be able to help our area with the amount of time we actually spent there, and especially with how the past weeks have gone down recently. We got really good training from our Temple Sisters and came back Saturday night with a LOT of energy and motivation to apply the things we learned. We had some more people talk to us, but no one set up. And then Sunday came and we had no investigators to invite to church, and our only lesson planned for the day cancelled. Nonetheless, we went out to find more people, and to start off we just kept getting rejected over and over. So we stopped for a second and Sister Haupt began to cry. I've never worked so hard at being completely obedient, full of faith and positivity, studying and praying for help, going quicker from door to door, etc. and I've never seen so little results from it. 

The cool thing was, even though it was difficult, I still really believed deep down that it was going to work out and we soon would be seeing the fruits of our labors. I really had faith that God would step in once we had learned all we needed to learn. So, we got ourselves pumped up and excited again and said a prayer and got to work. And I can tell you that our entire area changed in not 3 hours time. We taught a total of 10 lessons one after another and 5 new investigators. Not to mention that we had a member tell us she could come finding with us last minute, so she was able to see so many miracles on her first time going out to work with the missionaries. It was literally the last day of the week to make our goals and we almost made every single goal for the whole week.

I'm not saying any of this to boast. In fact the complete opposite. I have been completely humbled by the power of God. Anyone who's served a mission or is on one right now can too testify that God is really a God of miracles. With the results of our efforts from the past 3 weeks, it would seem completely impossible to have the kind of day we had yesterday. Seriously, with every person I talked to I wanted to just cry as we prayed with them. Sometimes I feel we take for granted the opportunity to pray with people on the street. But let me tell you, I took every single contact to heart and wrote down each of them in my journal. This lesson has taught me so much. Never give up. Never lose faith. Appreciate the small things. and of course, God lives and He loves us. I know it's true! And I've never felt so blessed in my life to be here, doing what I do.

Love you all!
Sister Hendricks

TaiDong Zone Meeting! I love these missionaries :)
Cute puppy that was following us around the other night haha

The bad cat sat on a box in the mud.
The rock hit the cat.
Fill the box with mud.
He sat in the mud, that's bad luck.
Let me hop on the cat.

So this is what we teach our poor english students.. We had literally NO time to plan for English class this week, so we planned for it on the train ride back to HuaLien right before English Class. I think the sentences we created perfectly represents how little sleep we've had the past few days.. enjoy.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

 Sister Haupt and I had this amazing opportunity to be with a recent convert that we taught together from MuZha when we went up to Taipei, and then again because her family came down to HuaLien to visit! It was a nice surprise :)
I didn't even realize that the year ended until I wrote January 1, 2016 in my journal entry that night. I have no idea where 2015 went. I'm just so happy and grateful that I get to say that I was able to spend all of 2015 as a full-time missionary. It's been the most challenging, yet most rewarding and happiest year of my life. I know it's because I've learned how to put my trust in God. His plan for me is better than I ever thought it would be. I'm grateful for that knowledge that will carry me throughout the rest of my life.

This week was very eventful. We were able to do exchanges with the sisters in YuLi, and I was able to be with my old companion Sister Peng! She came to HuaLien with me. I feel super blessed that I've had multiple opportunities to serve with my companions more than once. Later on in the week, we traveled to Taipei for a Missionary Leadership Council. It was a great meeting and I can't wait for Zone Meeting next week! Something they are really stressing is having all Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders to have "model" areas. This has been a little difficult seeing that our area has struggled for a very very long time. It goes in ups and downs. President Jergensen has always stressed that we have enough faith, energy, skills, and focus to do the work. He believes that if we aren't succeeding in a specific area, then we can narrow it down to one of those things to know how to improve. We've worked super super hard the past couple weeks to maintain all of those, yet we still can't seem to find people willing to listen.

I feel like on my mission, I've gone through different times of enjoying every phase of the work, and then also getting discouraged when things don't seem to go as planned. Maybe I compare myself to other missionaries for how many lessons they teach, or how many people's baptisms they're involved with, or something of the like, and then relating with with how successful of a missionary I am. But this week, I studied in the New Testament about when Christ asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him. I also studied the talk by Elder Holland where he references that story. Something that I learned is that Christ can catch fish for himself, he doesn't need Peter to do it. And He can do it perfectly, and get as many as he wants. But what Elder Holland's insight is, is that what He does need is disciples that love Him. And I feel like if there's anything I hope to learn from this, it's that I can show my Father in Heaven that I won't be discouraged when people don't set up with us, or I won't be discouraged if our "super golden amazing investigator" decides they don't want to be baptized a week before baptism, etc. If God wants people to be baptized, He'll send them to us, or us to them. What He needs is for us to love Him. To have faith in Him. My companion shared a quote with me when we were having one of those days.. "Faith isn't what you show when you get what you want. It's what you show no matter what you get." I couldn't say it any better myself. 

Anyways, great week. Happy New Year everyone!!
Sister Hendricks
Alligator Car
This is what it looks like when Elders make cookies

Sister Peng & I