Monday, August 9, 2010

August 8, 2010

Dearest family,
I'm glad you still got my letter,...:) Oh, another package, I really don't need anything, and packages get so expensive when you send them from the US, i still have a bottle of vitamins I brought with me, I try really hard everyday to eat healthy and eat vegetables. I'm pretty sure every one of my companions will never forget that part of me. I need to eat vegetables and I love milk. :) It's taiwan and it's pretty modern, people don't have a hard time finding things here. Oh! But one of our new members wants to see what I looked like as a child, haha, so could you send one or two and even just one of my baptism picture. People love to see baptism pictures :) The only thing I can think of is cookies. I miss cookies. But they might be kind of old by the time they get here so I'm not sure, but letters, cookies and pictures are what I can think of right now. I'll let you know if I think of anything else.
Oh! mom, I love you, thank you for remembering my wonderful Sister Malmrose, and I will remember to bring her address with me next week, but you might be able to find it in one of my earlier emails.
Yes, next week I will have a new companion, it will be so weird and still no news on what is going on, but President Bishop said he would let us know. Pres Bishop by the way is doing a fantastic job. He is very smart and very much involved in getting things done. We have a new program for missionary that is going to be implemented in the next couple months and he is doing a really great job with introducing that and following the instruction he received in the MTC. He really is so hard-working and cares a lot about us and the mission.
Renzhi and guimei are doing great! They passed their baptismal interviews this weekend so they will be baptized this sat. It will be perfect because we have a missionary activity with the young men and young women and then the baptism. So we can show them different aspects of missionary work and then show them what all the work leads up to. Perfect! :) It will be so great, I love missionary days and I am so excited for these two. Ren zhi smoked on tuesday and wednesday but hasn't since then and she has been battling her temptations really well. She is so strong. And, she is just so amazing. She has such a powerful testimony of her Heavenly Father and Savior. It is so inspiring. And also, she was so amazing when we started talking about tithing. She had read about it and said she had a problem with it. We were thrown off for a little bit, but asked her about it and she said, "well, I guess I don't have a problem now, because I just found work yesterday so now I can pay it! She was nervous about not having a job and not being able to pay tithing. I love this woman. The fantastic thing is that she is also reactivating a recent convert who stopped coming to church but has been to church every week since ren zhi and gui mei started coming. the recent convert is her neighbor.
Mom, you are hilarious, I love reading about your day at the cabin and how you were able to watch your soaps. Sorry I wasn't as interested in them as you would have liked :) I'll watch them with you when I get home. And, it just made me laugh to read about you and david cooperfield. you are so great. I do really miss garden vegetables. I eat a lot here, but taiwanese vegetables are better cooked and they cook everything and like to put a lot of oil with things too, so the vegetables do not taste the same. Eat some cukes and beans for me :)
Oh my goodness! Have you seen "Healing Waters" it's a movie about sharing the book of mormon with your friends and it is fantastic. I had never seen it until this last week and it was really powerful. See if you can find it and share it. It would be a great missionary activity with the youth, we are going to show it to them and have them write their testimonies in Book of Mormons for us to give out.
We get a monthy budget that is usually plenty, and it covers a lot. We have debit cards and most places don't take cards but we can always withdraw money from places like 7-11. Clothes, I actually inherited a couple things from older missionaries or missionaries who left things behind so I'm doing pretty good :) I don't wear a lot of my clothes right now because I sweat a lot nowadays and the whole back of my shirt and sleeves start looking a totally different color :) But they are fine, and I hear this is the hottest time so when sept rolls around it will get cooler, and I hear typhoon season is also around the corner so we might get some great rains soon. :) One of my favorite things about the culture is that nothing is a boy or girl thing. Ok, somethings are, but everyone wears pink everyone has cute little keychains or little animals hanging from their phones. It's really funny and very taiwanese. I actually really love it. But it makes rainy days hard for contacting because you don't know which are girls and boys. Everyone wears every color of raincoat :)
Ok, have to go, but I love you all!
-Sister Allison Ko

August 3, 2010

Dearest mother, dearest family,
Sorry about the late letter--I forgot to mention that this week we were going to the temple so we would write letters on Wednesday instead. I am so excited, I love the temple so much and I'm so glad I still live north enough that we are able to go. Hehe, Madeline is cute, pedicures....hehe love that girl. She does get really into things doesn't she? :) Yes, Elder Uchtdorf was picking up his sons from their missions, one was from our mission, the other from Taibei.
Yes, it is very different here, and very interesting, but one thing that has been helping me has actually been through that statement you said someone's son used on his mission. "I can do anything for one day" I wrote that and stuck it on the bathroom mirror and make sure I look at that every morning and recommit. Because it really does need to be attacked one day at a time. Each day needs full commitment. Yes, I love what you say about doing hard things every day.
Talking to everyone on the street is sometimes hard, but I think it is helping me really personalize my contacting because they need to know personally why and how this gospel will bless their lives. And, especially because they have already heard about the gospel and feel like they have already given it a chance or don't need it. It's kind of funny--here are some of the excuses people give us when they don't want to talk to us: "Oh, I don't believe that kind of thing" "I'm already Christian!" "Oh, I have a friend who is Christian" Of course there are others, but that last one is especially my favorite, evidently if your friend is christian that's enough ? :) But, mom, you are wonderful, thank you for your inspiration and confidence in me and the work. It is very true. Sometimes people are long term investigators until the right person comes along with the challenge. Sister Pease is so good about talking about that and about how interesting it is that everyone with their specific personalities and traits are what the investigators at this time need to hear.
I'm not really sure what will happen when she leaves. Because usually there will be a duan chuan, which is a taiwanese member who volunteer's between a week and 6 weeks to serve a mini mission, and then a new companion when the next transfer starts 2 weeks after that. But, I'm not sure...I will ask our mission president in the letter this week and see if he can let me know. Because if that is the case I'll be senior companion for a few weeks.
Our little 13-year old was progressing so well, her dad came with her to church on sunday!!! Which was fantastic, but he's really not interested in still meeting with us in the future, but he seems to be more open about letting his daughter still attend. We met with them and has his permission now, but we need to get the mother's permission before ying xuan can be baptized.
Ren zhi and her daughter gui mei are progressing as well. But they really need to be reading their scriptures everyday and ren zhi smoked yesterday. We all fasted together on sunday and she stayed smoke-free on sunday and monday so we know she can do it. We have met with them every day since sat so I really hope they can continue to progress. She is so great though and quit her job selling/drinking tea when she found out about the word of wisdom. So, right now not having a job allows us to see them often.
Ok, love you all so much, and I will let you know more on Monday :)
-sister allison ko

More Pictures

This is last week's ye zi xin and zhang ruifen, wow, they are some of the most beautiful women I have met and they are so wonderful, they will do great things and I'm really excited to see what happens with their lives in the them!

One last picture of me and Sister Crane. Below is a picture from our apartment in Nantun.

My new companion, Sister Pease

First day in nantou, our zone and part of another zone went to eat at this buffet place. It was amazing food, they are also a really cute really close zone here--there are amazing missionaries all over Taichung

July 25 Email

Dearest family, it is so good to hear from you! It sounds like this summer has been going fantastically and you are having lots of fun with all your various activities.

Yes, I loved Elder Rasband's talk, it was so good to hear that and reread it this past week and to really know that each person is inspired to be where they are supposed to be. YEs, I have heard the danger of parked cars, and yes I have been hit by one of those, but they opened the door slowly enough that it wasn't bad and I was mostly able to move out of the way :) It is so interesting how people really watch your every move and notice missionaries a lot. The last week I was in Nantun this one man stopped us and asked us about the church. He said that he watches us get rejected every day and he was so curious as to why we were still happy and how we could deal with it. He was so curious as to what we were doing and what it was that was so special that caused us to do this every day. It made me really take more thought into how I act when I get rejected. It's hard. Really hard. I'm not good with rejection. Especially when it concerns people's salvation and happiness. It's the hardest thing to try to get people to understand what they are missing in their lives and to realize how important it is. But talking with that man has helped me resolve to be more positive with each person I contact. When they reject the message, it's just not the right time right now, they aren't ready, but other people are.
The first week here was harder than I expected, not going to lie. I had heard that the first move was difficult but I didn't really think it could be much different, I mean, you're still in Taiwan, right? :) There are just a totally different mix of people here that you take a totally different approach to contacting. But, my companion is such a good example of talking with everyone. She is such a happy and optimistic person, it really is wonderful. There aren't very many stoplights like in the city so every person we see we stop and talk to. It is very different, but wonderful because you talk with everyone and know that everyone you see is being given a chance to hear the gospel. It is also an area that has had missionaries for a while and a lot of people are used to seeing missionaries and know about us and the church. It is also different because there are not as many people we are teaching right now, so I am very excited to work with the newly contacted people we have and help our progressing investigators keep meeting with us so they can keep progressing. It was so weird to have all of Sunday for proselyting, we only have one ward so the rest of the day we could go visit other people and have more lessons. It is very different here than my last area and it's hard to change my ideas of missionary work, but I am working really hard and really trying to change myself. Prayer. Prayer is power :)
Right now we have this cute little 13 year old who is progressing really well, but her dad doesn't want her to get baptized so we are talking to her dad tonight and we'll see how things with that. Adorable! So willing to keep the commandments, so cute, is a little worried about not buying things on sundays, but really great, and we have this fantastic member that we invited with us in lessons. She is 18 and such a role model and a wonderful example with a beautiful testimony. She also has been inactive so she has great personal experiences about what the church can do for you and how there really is a difference when you are not coming to church or following commandments. Then there are also a mom and her daughter. I have hardly ever seen such a patienct and kind mother. When her daughter was invited to say the prayer and said she couldn't her mom coached her through it and did what we usually would. But she was just so loving and patient I was so impressed. Sometimes from investigators I learn some of the most important traits and expressions of faith. THey are amazing!
Ok, sorry I wasn't able to write back to individual family members today, but next week I will! Love you all!
-Sister Allison Ko

July 18 Email

Dearest loved ones,

Yes. Yes. It is very hot. Very hot indeed. And it will still get hotter as July concludes and August comes up shortly, wow, I don't think I've ever been so consistently hot in all my life, but I think I'm also getting used to it a little bit....I think I'm just getting used to the fact that I don't ever stop sweating now a days :) But, I'll tell you this: everyone thinks I'm really xingku, really hardworking, because of it :) The garments are fantastic, I don't know which they are but they are working fabulously, thank you so much!

WHew! Here is the news from TAiwan: I moved! It was really sad yesterday to leave my first area and to leave our new members. There are some fantastic members that I will never forget and will be eternally grateful for their example and influence. We had another baptism on Saturday with two of our longer investigators that I met at the beginning of the 2nd movecall. They both are so great and just were so moved by their baptismal service. And it's just so moving to see their faces after and when they tell you thank you there is so much more. The last move call has been a move-call of miracles. So many miracles...we talked about how different missionaries focus on different key indicators in the mission work (such as getting members to help with lessons, getting people to church, adding people on the street..) but Sister Crane and I joked around that our key indicator was baptism :) We accomplished our baptism goal for this move-call and a week later, after we set that goal I doubted a lot about what we could do and if we really could help our investigators progress towards baptism. But we accomplished it, I really love how this move call and last, the zone leaders told us to continually pray over our baptismal goals. That helped me, personally, stay focused on our goals. And, the best part about it is watching these people continue to come to church and enjoy the blessings. I loved how yesterday one of our new members helped us peike, helped us teach an investigator, and it was amazing to see how her testimony has already grown from her month of being a member. And especially, when last week she didn't go to church she shared about how horrible she felt and how her week really didn't go very well and she knows it's because she didn't come to church. (lin yu chen). She was so nervous about baptism but afterwards she has been so blessed and been so happy. It was so great to see her and have my last day to see her progress. It is amazing what the knowledge of the gospel will do to people's lives.

So, my new area is called Nantou. It is a lot more country, there still are buildings all over, but no big apartment buildings and a lot less people so contacting will be a bit different here than in the city. Oh, and a lot more hills :) I am going to get incredibly strong in this area, and after this I should be able to keep up with dad and marcus :) But, oh my goodness, it is so green and beautiful! So many trees! Wow, honestly, such a beautiful area. And I hear there is Sunmoon Lake here that all the japanese tourists come to taiwan to visit :) A lot of people come here on vacation so it really is such a great beautiful place. My wonderful new companion is Sister Pease, who is one of the happiest and enthusiastic people I have ever met. I am so excited to be serving with her! She's from Salt Lake City--she went to school with Libby and her sister Becky! Honestly, this place is wonderful and I am so excited to be in a new area and be able to meet more friends. It will be so different, and there is only one ward which will be such a change from having 3 :) But I hope then that I will be able to learn people's names quickly and be able to get to know people quickly. This is Sister Pease's last move-call and she leaves for school a couple weeks before the move-call ends so I will need to jiayou and work really hard to get to know the area quickly.

Ok, I love you all and will send some more pictures next week, and I'll show you this beautiful area and my wonderful companion!

-Sister Ko

Baptisms, Hike to Waterfall

At a Buddhist Temple along the way to the waterfall. I just thought these were fantastic.

The "twins" and Yang mama

This is the 16-year-old who baptized Yang mama.

July 11 Email

Dearest family,
Love you all! Thank you so much for all your prayers and thoughtful wishes for the missionaries. Wow, there are a lot of things going on this summer, new families and babies everywhere! :) Gongxi tamen! Congrats to all! Yes, Aunt Lisa will be in my prayers, I hope she is doing well. Yes, I just read President Uchtdorf's talk and we have been sharing it with some of our recent converts and soon-to-be-recent converts because it just is so wonderful. I love how he talks about how in between the once upon a time and happily ever after there Are going to be trials and hardships. It's not going to all be nice, we all will have trials, but we Are able to have a happily ever after. Speaking of President Uchtdorf.... :) Guess who came to Taiwan to pick up their grandsons and just happened to speak to our whole mission? Yes. Yes. You guessed it, we got to meet President Uchtdorf! And, he took the time to shake each of our hands, it was so amazing to be in the presence of a prophet of God. He has an amazing spirit about him, and I was also so impressed with his relationship with his wife. She also spoke with us, and is just a cute, passionate lady. She spoke about her family's conversion to the church and how important it is for missionaries to be dilligent, worthy, and excited about teaching this beautiful message. President Uchtdorf spoke about finding treasures of our missions. Treasures in the relationships we create, the people we meet, the challenges we overcome, the language. It was very powerful and he also spoke about how we need to apply the things we teach our invesigators to ourselves. I was thinking about that a lot and how it really isn't anything different we teach investigators that we don't do or believe ourselves. Everyone needs to strive everyday to live the commandments. Everyone needs to repent everyday. No one is exempt from the commandments of God, and no one is exempt from the promised blessings. It really is such a beautiful gospel and beautiful Plan that our Heavenly Father has planned for us.
It really is a pleasure to be serving here--next week I most likely will be in a new area. I have been here for 3 transfers so I might be somewhere new next time I write :) I am going to be so sad to leave all these wonderful people, especially our new members. But I am excited to be meeting more people and seeing more people grow. It such a miracle and miracles happen every day when you start looking for them and realizing what blessings you have. We have been blessed with so many first lesson this week which is such a tremendous blessing and will really help this area to keep having success. It is amazing to meet with people for the first time with no understanding of Christ or His gospel and meet with them a week later and they already have a testimony of Him and of their Heavenly Father. It is truly amazing to watch people keep commitments of prayer and reading and see how they change immediately.
I love you all, have a wonderful week!
-Sister Ko

Oh, I forgot to tell you, but, also thank you for praying for my safety here in Taiwan. I don't know if you remember how truly clumsy I am, but let's just say on the way back from hiking I had a little bit of an accident and the bike is fine and don't worry, all the vital organs are working properly, but my camera lens got damaged. I can still get pictures from it but I can't take any more....we are going shopping today and I'm going to buy a new one with my birthday, christmas and next birthday money :) Just letting you know in case I suddenly have a lack of money in my account