Monday, October 25, 2010

10/17/10 Email

Brother and Sister Rasmussen sound like fantastic people and fantastic missionaries. And this is their third! :) So amazing. I think I remember hearing about them before, but I'm pretty sure I've never met them. And, that is a fantastic focus to their mission. I've really appreciated the recent conferences and talks we've had that focus on establishing the kingdom of God. Because baptism is not what establishes. It of course is the gate that we need to go to get on the path but baptism does not guarentee eternal life. To establish we really need an eternal focus, people who are baptized need to keep enduring and continue to make covenants. Yes! Get people to the temple!
And, I love Sister Rasmussen's experience. That is so true, you never know where you are going to find the prepared people and sometimes you wonder why you had a certain prompting. And, honestly, sometimes you never see the effects of your actions or don't understand why you were prompted to do something--but I would rather not know than live with the consequences of not following promptings. But sometimes you immediately see blessings and are so thankful for the guidance of the spirit. And it's really cool when you feel prompted to talk to someone and they immediately reject you and drive off and you wonder what you are doing, but the very next person you talk to (who obviously wasn't there when you first pulled up) is ready to hear about the gospel. Really exciting experiences and great memories. Yes! Start now to prepare for a mission, and you heard at conference too, everyone's help is needed. And, it really is the most bonding thing, to teach the gospel together. To teach something so beautiful and perfect and I think you teaching with dad would be so awesome, because you would be teaching about things that you have really experienced in live and are living, you are living an eternal marriage and know how it has blessed your life.
Just want to tell you about our recent converts. Golden. So great. Coming to church and coming to activities, and our little zhou yuting, she is willing to help the missionaries while she is at school. And, when she gave the prayer a couple weeks ago in church she was so cute. Saying a prayer in public can be such a scary thing for a new member but she was so great and willing. In her prayer she said, "And, although I'm just a new member, I'm am so thankful for the opportunity to be in relief society and say the prayer." She really is the cutest thing ever. And that little boy, it has been so hard to get him to church because his parents are being really difficult. At first they said if he got his homework done they would let him go to church. Then they wouldn't let him go because on wednesday he didn't have his homework done,...then it was that he couldn't help his mom take care of the kids if he went to church. It was really frustrating because they kept coming up with new reasons not to let him come. But he really is amazing. He is the most stalwart 9 year old I've ever seen. He has worked to hard every day to get his homework done, and he still takes care of his sisters and brother. He loves church and does so much to come to church every day. I am so impressed by his faith. Have I told you what he said at his baptism and confirmation? He said he felt really comfortable and really happy. And then he told us that he even felt a little bit like crying during his confirmation. He is such a great kid, and so willing to do what he needs to in order to keep commandments.
Ok, this is it for today, I love you all and wish you luck in work and school (don't let it get too boring :) )
-your sister, daughter, etc.
Sister Ko

10/10/10 Email

Hello dearest family!
Oh my goodness, wasn't conference amazing!!? Wow, I love how they know how to bolding and with love tell us what Heavenly Father wants us to hear. And, when I was listening to the talks there were so many things that our investigators will benefit from. I hope they were listening carefully... When they especially talked about agency and our choices, nothing Satan does can Make us choose bad choices. Following the commandments is our choice, but no matter what, wicknesses is never going to bring happiness. The chosen leaders of our church gave such beautiful, inspired messages. I am so thankful for modern-day revelation.
One investigator in particular that came is this english-teacher mom that is the cutest and spunkiest mom ever. Came to church with a friend and loved it. And she says she loves it better than her old church because you get to learn so much every sunday. And, i love what she said about baptism. Because we explained that she has to live a certain way and has to gain a testimony before she can be baptized because it's not just a quick decision. The actual baptism is quick but it is such an important step and a representation of a forever commitment to follow the Savior and Heavenly Father's teachings. She loved it. Thought it was the smartest thing ever and was more excited at working towards baptism because of it. She said with her other baptism there wasn't anything to it, you didn't have to do anything and she thought that was silly. She is so excited to prepare for it...but, she is still have trouble keeping commandments. The hard part is there is no addiction involved, but she said once she knew about the word of wisdom it made her want to drink coffee more and drink alcohol. So, she probably won't be baptized this weekend, but she is progressing and needs a little bit more work but she is so cute and enthusiastic about learning and gaining a testimony. Just needs to do it.
Oh, mom last time you asked about our investigator that can't read. Well, part of the issue is that she speaks taiyu which is a little different from mandarin so even if she could find audio I'm pretty sure they don't have taiyu....but we are still working with her to see if she is still interested. She is having some work and husband issues and hasn't been too interested lately but we will still keep working with her.
Wow! Babies all over the place when I get back, and weddings! That's exciting! Oh, don't worry about my shins, some of it is the bike but mostly from mosquito bites. Our landlady jokes around that nantou is so pretty that everyone wants to come and visit, even the mosquitos. There are a ton. And they have horrible, small black mosquitos (that's really the direct translation) that are pretty small so you don't notice them until they are biting you. It's a mafan.
Ok, love you all! Hope you have a fantastic week!
-Sister Allison Ko

Pictures Galore

Mei fen's baptism picture
The little boy, little brother Hong's baptism
Mei fen's baptism. Her member friend, and neighbor member are in the picture too, they were both perfect for this family!

The wonderful zhou yuting's baptism, such a spiritual experience

We took a district trip last preparation day and went to a nearby miao, temple, isn't it just beautiful!?, more to come.... I love the red and all the decorations

We ate lunch and then hiked up to this other cool temple. And, by 'hike' i mean we walked up the paved road that led to the miao. I think I'll have to look really hard if I want to hike while I'm here--but this place was really pretty and so detailed, so cool!

yes, so many colors, so many cool things to look at.....

okay, so I promised a picture of my bike: I spray painted it so now it's a lot less attractive to theives. When I was done I actually like it a lot more and thought it was now more likely to be stolen--but my companion assured me that it is really ugly. i love my bike.

And, we went to get our haircut and hair washed! It was pretty fun, not going to lie, people in taiwan love to get their hair washed. I almost lasted a year without getting my hair cut :) yes, i know, it's pretty gross, but hey, when you pull your hair back in a ponytail everyday it looks the same

10/3/10 Email

Speaking of the new converts in Nantun, I have been really bad at writing them but I will work on this week or this month to write them all--i am just so slow at writing characters, but I will make a goal to write everyone this month. But! I just got a letter from cai ying xuan, she is the one with the cute little meimei. She has been doing so great, Sister Crane told me she has a calling and in her letter ying xuan told me that her son just got baptized as well! She says she and meimei miss me and Sister Norman and she misses us calling her and singing to her :) (we used to call her every morning for two weeks so she would remember not to drink tea) She is doing so great and I am so excited to see her continue to grow in the gospel and help her family.
Yes, it is sad how everyone will have some sort of trial in their first year of baptism and they really need to remember their testimony and the feelings they have already had to keep going strong. It is also really sad to see so many who have fallen away for silly reasons but still have strong testimonies. They can be such a support for others and such a strength to the ward but choose to stop coming to church. sad.
That is a cute story, it also reminds me of the story in Matt, and the song: Truth reflects upon our senses. I love that hymn. The taiwanese love it here, especially in nantun they sung it all the time, but it also has such beautiful words and a really awesome message. Who are we to judge others when we ourselves have faults. The only person who doesn't have any faults would not even consider judging others. (well, ok, not until the final judgement, but that is different)
just so you know, I love you guys.
--sister ko

Sunday, October 24, 2010

9/26/10 Email

Dearest family,
Ok, here is a quick update on a couple random things that I've been wanting to mention :)
First, I got new bike handles! I used some birthday money for higher bike handles so that my back and my wrists will feel a little better, we ride bikes a lot more in this area so it was really worth it. And, I'll be painting my bike soon so I will take pictures shortly. Also, after the typhoon someone asked us questions about what we thought of the typhoon and what we were doing and why we were still outside when there was a typhoon....well, our picture was in the paper so I will also make a copy or take a picture and send you sometime :) Thirdly, I never thought I would eat jello, ice, starch ball, and beans in the same bowl and think it was so delicious. I never thought those foods could be so good, haha, sister lin loves them and taiwanese people really love cooked, cold beans in deserts and drinks. Who knew? Fourth, I now have more than 13 freckles. I have a couple small freckles on my face now, and I know you told me freckles on my hands was not good but I have two more....but no worries, I put sunscreen on almost every day and it seems to be helping. Oh, and if someone tells you that you run like a sheep, it's evidently a compliment :)
Ok--so, this week was really amazing, we had so many new members and so many investigators to church this week it was so exciting! Mei fen was able to get confirmed and her mom came! And we are also teaching another lady who honestly cannot read, its a little harder to teach because she can't even read the little kid book of mormon but she is so humble and came to church yesterday as well. We also have started teaching this really awesome student who came to english class last week. She also came to the baptism and had a really amazing experience. And, in church the cute new couple brought their friend to church and she was so great. Loved church and was so excited to meet with us again this week and learn more about the scriptures and about church. So cute and is going to be so great!
But, wow, the most exciting part was the baptism. Our cute little zhou yu ting was baptized on sat! She has been at school for the past couple weeks but came back on Friday and we got to sit down with her for a little bit on Sat and then she was baptized that night :) It was such an amazing baptism. Her mom also came and when she was sharing her feelings about church she got really emotional and her mom started crying a little bit too, it was a really moving baptismal service. The relief society president gave a really great talk as well and did a really great job of talking with her mom about baptism and the holy ghost. Her mom is really busy and not too interested in coming to church but is very supportive of her daughter. Yuting is the most golden investigator and is already a fantastic member. She is so willing to help and so willing to keep learning about the church and about how to better herself and develop good habits. I am so excited to see how her life turns out in a couple years, she is going to be the cutest and best mother ever. The church is true and Heavenly Father knows how we need to live in order to have happiness and be the best we can be. That is why we have commandments and prophets to let us know what they are.
I wish you all the best and love you!
-sister ko

9/19/10 Email

Oh my goodness, yes, I have realized that as well, I have been a missionary for 9 months. That is a weird thought. It really has not seemed that long. Wow, so fast, and I always felt that once I was out halfway through I would be so confident in how missionary work should be done and so confident in speaking with everyone. There is still so much that I don't understand and so much of the language that is completely beyond me, haha, but every day is a miracle and I still have so much time to improve!
This sat we were able to see mei fen be baptized! It was so amazing and really exciting. Her mom has been so great and supportive through this and it was so cool last week. We stopped to talk to her mom before going inside to visit mei fen and she talked to us about how life has been really hard lately. Then she started crying and talked about how she wants to go to church with her daughter. So great! Her neighbor is also a member of the church and we sometimes have lessons at her house. The mom and neighbor are already friends so it was the most perfect thing, at the baptism they were able to sit next to each other. During the baptism she was really moved and started crying again. And, Brother Guo, the bishopric representative was so awesome. I love when he conducts the baptisms because he really cares about the investigator and really shares according to their needs. When he gave a share at the end he gave his talk and then said that because mei fen's mom might not understand he would repeat the talk in taiyu (taiyu is the language that a lot of the older generation uses that dad talked about before, a lot of people can speak both. It's similar to mandarin, but actually, to me it sounds a lot more like cantonese). It was a really spiritual baptism and such a cool experience to see how when you teach one person there are always more opportunities to find and meet others to share the gospel with.
The thing is, she wasn't able to be confirmed yet this week because of a little friend called typhoon. I don't know if you guys hear about things like that, but there was a typhoon that came to Taiwan so church was canceled. Don't worry, don't worry, it really wasn't bad. Nantou is in the middle of the island so we pretty much are protected from everything. The worst that happened to us was that our window was really weird and our desks and papers got wet :) A lot of rain, a lot of wind, but we still were able to go out and do missionary work so it was pretty much a normal day. It was really exciting and I'm almost sad that there wasn't more to it. But, I hear that the southern part of the island got a lot more so I hope they are still ok.
One thing that I thought of as I wrote to Austin was the opportunities of sharing my testimony everyday on a mission. While I was in the MTC and we would practice all the time, it felt a little weird at first just because I wasn't used to it and when I first came on island it was pretty much the only thing I knew how to say so you get to say it all the time. And, when you learn other words sometimes you forget the power of a simple testimony. So, recently I have made an effort to make sure I include my testimony. Testimony along with scriptures is the way to bring the spirit into lessons so we can never forget their power. It is amazing how a simple testimony can be so powerful. And, each time is special. I used to worry that it would get routine and not be special, but when you are able to share your own personal feelings and personal witness of the gospel it is always special. I can't really say, but, unscripted words that come from your heart are always going to be special. That's just how the gospel is. You don't need to say much to let people know what these things mean to you. Just say what you know to be true and the spirit will testify.
dearest family, I love you all!
-sister allison ko

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sister Lin

sn't she gorgeous! She really is beautiful and such a fantastic missionary and companion, i love her!
And, it's hilarious that she is so dark, taiwanese love whiteness and do everything to keep from getting tan, but she gets dark so easily :)

9/12/10 Email

The baptism was a little hectic. Last minute the dad (yes, there is a husband, and he actually used to be the elder's investigator but he wasn't willing to keep commitments) really didn't want them to come to church and get baptized and so it took a while and we got started a little late, but it was a really sweet, quick but great baptism. It ended up that only the son was baptized on sat, but we are still working with his mom. But, I loved how the son said that when he received the gift of the Holy Ghost he felt really comfortable and really felt special. I love that. And yes, he really will be such a great support for his mom and a great example for his family. It's hard because he is only 9 and has such a great responsibility but is working so hard to do the right things.
And, this week we have a young women who will be baptized, and maybe two if we can get parent's permission for another of our investigators. It's funny how you always seem to have spurts of the same type of investigator. When I first came to Taiwan there were a lot of single mothers or mothers with dad's who didn't help out much, then we have a whole bunch of single young women(20's), then here in nantou we have lately had a whole bunch of young women-age girls (13, 15). But sadly two of them still don't have parent permission. It's interesting, they both have divorced parents and live with their fathers, their fathers are fine with them coming to church and activities but won't let them get baptized. But especially one of them has started developing such a desire to be baptized and follow commandments. She even has been setting such an example for one of our new members that I fear is not being as obedient as she was first baptized. They have started a really cute friendship and I think they will really help each other out a lot.
We are going to be singing in sacrament meeting as well. We are really trying to improve the situation of the ward here. The church is perfect, we as members of the church are not, but we can do our best. We can have love for one another and can help one another. It's just so sad to see sometimes and I'm still not sure what else we can do, but we are going to start by singing in sacrament meeting and having a little share.

9/5/10 Email

Sister Ke and her children were able to come to church again yesterday so she and her son can be baptized on Saturday. Have I told you much about them? They really are an amazing family that really really needs the gospel. She is a very young mother with 4 children but it has been a really awesome experience to see them changing. She does love children a lot but she just has so many that she doesn't know how to take care of them. But she wants to change and wants to be better. She loves relief society and learning there. Sometimes you come across people that don't seem like they would accept the gospel but today I was reading in Alma 6:5 and just love how he says that the gospel was taught to everyone. No respector of persons or situation. Every single person can be benefited from the gospel. The gospel is for everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to use the same Atonement and everyone has the opportunity to change. Jesus Christ is the Savior of every single person that has and will live on this earth, and it is only through His Atonement that we can be saved. No matter how many bad things or good things you have done, everyone needs the same Atonement, the same Savior.

We have also been teaching zhou yu ting and she is more golden than I ever thought possible. Every lesson with her is filled with the spirit and she loves to read, loves to pray and loves church. She came to stake conference last week with us and loved every minute of it. Then she was so excited to come this week. The members already love her and she won't be here this next week because she is leaving for school but she will come back on weekends and be baptized in this ward. But, she will keep going to institute and church down at school. But, what I really love about her is that she finds strength from the scriptures, I love following up with her on the phone--she gets excited to share what she has learned and how it helps her. Especially with faith and keeping commandments. When we shared the last couple commandments she was a little nervous because she thought they were asking a lot of her but the next day she shared 1nephi 3:7 (she just set a goal of reading from the beginning, and perfectly came across this perfect verse :) ) with me over the phone and talked about how she knew she would be able to keep the commandments because Heavenly Father will prepare a way for us to do so. And, she this week wore a shirt over her dress because she had learned about modesty. She is just fabulous, and she loves family. Every time we meet with her I imagine her as the cutest, sweetest mother ever and can imagine her being very very happy with the support of the gospel. She loves the gospel, and already knows how to apply what she is learning to her life.... Just golden.
dearest family, I love you and hope you are all doing well and school will go well this week--school does start this week, right? :) Good luck, add oil, jiayou
sister ko

8/30/10 Email

It is so weird that september is already here and football season (by the way, love that tara, honorary bruinette.... :) ) and school is starting up--how is school preparation going? I can't believe how fast everything is going by. This move-call we are having general conference. I honestly couldn't believe it. I'm pretty sure we just had general conference last month.... But wow, I love general conference and the opportunity to let our investigators and new members hear from the prophet. We talk about him but conference is their opportunity to see him speak and, ok it is a translation, but they get to hear the prophet of God giving revelation to the whole world. President Monson is an amazing man and a prophet of God's church. Have you seen "On the Lord's Errand"? I've seen it a couple times and it is really powerful, you can see that president monson really has spent his whole life in serving the Lord and in helping others.
Yeah! I'm glad the ward is getting my letters. I made a goal to write everyone back on my mission so it might take a couple months but I promise that I will respond :) And, my companion, since she is taiwanese she already can buy all of the same things when she returns home and can visit these places easily so she loves being inside on preparation day which has given me a great opportunity to catch up on writing. But, she said next week we can go out and do something special so I found this 'vacation' book in our apartment and I'll pick somewhere fun to go..... :) But, wow, being with sister lin has been so fabulous. We have also realized, this week especially, that we have a lot to do here, but I am very excited to be with her and serve with her. She is super obedient and really understands what she is doing here, I've never been with a companion who uses her time so wisely. I really hope a lot of her rubs off onto me this move-call.
On friday the whole southern island held a youth conference and a lot of the missionaries got to go. It was amazing--we were just here for one activity, but the youth of two stakes put on a little show. And of course they sang that 'be strong' song--have you been singing that in young women's? :) It was so great, and the Nantun ward was there too and I got to see members from my old area which was so wonderful, they are so strong and such great member missionaries. Sister Crane recently told me about how one invited her roommates to church and 2 are getting baptized this coming month. And, then after the show there were some missionary shares and then we got to get into groups with them and share about missionary work. Then...they got to do their own missionary work! Everyone was given a book of mormon and wrote their testimony in it. Then they are going to give it to a friend and invite that friend to church. Have you had any missionary days or activities in young women's lately? That is a fun one to do, and of course you can watch the living waters dvd too, i love it :)
Stake conference was this sunday and there were some great talks. One was President Perkins, I think he's the Asian area president of some sorts. He shared some great stories about his own father and a family he met while he was mission president in taibei. It was really wonderful and really powerful and we have one investigator that loved it. She loved church and is so excited to come back next week. She is the cutest thing ever, 18 years old, and she has so much desire to learn more and learn how to prepare to have a strong and loving family. She learned how to pray this week and loves it, really feels that someone is listening to her prayer and wants to have family prayer when she starts her own family! We have not even taught her about that, she came up with that activity on her own. This girl is amazing and i'm so excited to keep teaching her :)
Ok, love you all so much!
-Sister Ko

8/22/10 Letter

Dearest family,
I love my companion so much! I've only been with her a week but it has been amazing and I just love working with her. She is an amazing missionary and really gets things done, gets appointments set up, really helps people realize the importance of the gospel and make commitments, and sees things that need to be done and knows how to do them. I am so excited to what will happen to this area with her here. There are things that I've wanted to do here, but wasn't sure how to go about doing it but she has the means and the drive. We are so busy every day and time goes by so quickly. She has great english, but sometimes it is still hard to understand her english, but I'm sure it's also really hard to understand my chinese:) But i love it when we speak in chinese to each other. Every once in a while she likes to use english or will tell me a story in english, but most of the time we speak in Chinese, which i absolutely love. She is so patient with me! But, i love that despite our language differences we both are still about to plan for our investigators, work together, and laugh together. We laugh a lot and it has just been a really fantastic time with my dear companion this past week.
One thing that is funny is that she has had a few american companions so her accent is pretty much an american accent. So, it's funny when we contact together and people say, wow, you guys have great chinese! But, yours is better (pointing to my companion, chinese people are very blunt and will tell you things the way they are), to which she will reply: yes, I'm tawainese. But, I love trying new foods with her too, there are things that regular missionaries still can't read because we focus on reading scriptures, and, well,....we just don't learn food words--- but are little food treasures that my companion knows about, so it's been great to try new things.
Yes, I have been noticing that too, how important our role in the ward is in this area. But I am really lucky and my companion understands it very well and after church yesterday she said we need to start visiting all the members and serving them. I love having a tawainese companion who understands what the members here need.
I've gone on exchanges where two companionships are in the same apartment, but i think that the sister's areas are usually really large so we don't usually have more than one companionship in each apartment, but maybe in the city.... I have always just been with my companion. So we have a lot of room :)
I have noticed more and more the importance of learning in the church and the importance of parenthood. We have a new investigator who is a mom with 4 kids under 10years old. It has been a really interesting experience to go to their house and see how different things are for them. They just really need the gospel in their lives and need to learn how to take care of their family. They are growing so much though and the oldest boy, 9 years old is the best older brother I have ever seen. He is so good and works so hard to take care of his younger syblings. Also from other investigators' family situation, I am just so thankful that you guys love me. That you care about what I do, you care what goes on in my life. There are a lot of things that I have taken for granted in my life that I didn't realize were blessings before my mission. I love you all, thank you.
-Sister allison ko

8/18/10 Letter

Haha, with it being so hot here I guess I'm almost used to it, I mean, you take a shower but immediately start sweating again so I think I'm getting used to it....I take a little handkerchief/towel with me in my proselyting bag so that helps. And make sure to bring a lot of water each day :) But! One of the members said that it would gradually start getting cooler in a little while! :)
So, Sister Pease is off and heading to Utah so I have a new companion! She is a Taiwanese! So this is my first Taiwanese companion! I'm a little nervous, not going to lie, but I'm really excited about the blessings and miracles she will bring to this area. And, she will help me a lot on understanding more of the culture and of course help me with my language a lot. She is one of the most beautiful people I've ever met, not kidding. I can't believe I don't have a picture for you--but I will make sure next week we have pictures. Lin yin zi, Sister Lin, is my companion. From Taibei, and has one little sister who is just about to start college, from what she was saying I think she and her mom were baptized when she was 8 and her dad was baptized, either 10 years after or 10 years ago. One thing I am also nervous about is that she came from a really busy, really prosperous area that was kind of like Nantun and Nantou is just such a country area, it's different.
But!! Sat we had a baptism! Ren zhi and gui mei got baptized! There was a youth missionary activity after which was their baptism! It was a beautiful service and we even had some investigators come and were able to enjoy and really feel the spirit. I am so excited to see them be baptized, ren zhi has completely given up smoking, but she found new work that originally told her she wouldn't have to work on Sundays so we are working with her to help find a way to work something out with her boss. They are both so fantastic, and after we watched Finding Faith in Christ with them, our investigators, and some members, it was amazing to hear our new member's testimonies and even our investigator is starting to get to know Christ and start to feel of His sacrifice and the significance of the Atonement and mostly of Jesus Christ's love for all of us. It was amazing.
Ok, I love you all and will write next week and send you pictures with me and my new companion. Thank you for your love and letters!
-sister ko

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Pictures

Here is our zone, me and my beautiful companion, and our district at the temple. Elder Duncan, Elder Zhou and Sister Pease are now on their way home :( They are fantastic missionaries and will be dearly missed

the outside of the visitor's center by the temple

Going with our cute new members to play arcade games. They beat us badly :)

view from our apartment in the morning, so cool!

Eating ice cream at our apartment.

We had a ward missionary day and dialed phones at a 7 :) haha, yes, that is a part of a missionary's life

me and one of our great 18year old member friends who help us at lessons

renzhi and guimei after their baptism

Us with Zhang yumei, she's really cute and loves being with missionaries

Me and Jenny, our cute friend here, she is so sweet!

Our district here in Nantou! This is after the missionary night the ward held for the 3 leaving missionaries.

Some funny pictures, this totally epitomizes people in our district, I love these pictures....

Today we went to the missionhome and took this with some short term missionaries and some leaving missionaries....

I just love taiwanese decorations. This is the way to decorate a window.

Me and Sister Pease today at the mission home. She is now at her last day and will return to Salt Lake City shortly!