I survived 過年 (Chinese New Year)! So let me explain something. In Taiwan everyone works all day every day (kinda reminds me of my dad). They are super hard workers but they never ever relax or take a break. Chinese New Year is that break. For an entire week everything everywhere is closed, so there are no restaurants or stores open. People travel to be and stay with their extended families for a week. And all they do is eat (and sing karaoke but that’s a different story). So what are missionaries to do during this time when everything is closed and everyone is hiding in their houses? Member work. We spent every meal being fed by members and bringing the Spirit into their home. Now, I would much rather be filled with the Spirit than filled with some of the strange foods and ridiculous amounts of food. So we will talk about some of the cultural adventures first and then end on a spiritual note.
In Taiwan, it’s rude to turn down food. It’s also rude to leave food that was prepared still sitting on the table. So when they put an entire feast on the table, the eyes of the four missionaries go really wide and you kind of want to cry. But you say a prayer and start attacking it with those chopsticks for lunch and dinner and sometimes second dinner. I have never felt so full in my life.
The new strange foods I tried this week:
Duck blood – not a huge fan. At all.
Some seaweed looking vegetable that always comes tied in a not – actually pretty good it tastes like green beans
Shark – the chewy texture is interesting but the taste is pretty good
Chicken feet – not quite sure why this is considered a food. It’s literally bones and rubber.
Fish skin – actually pretty good
Sticky cake – deep fried and really good. Has cultural significance of getting promoted in your job if you eat it
Radish cake – really good
Squid – really chewy but really good
Deep fried sweet potatoes – so good!
Ginormous shrimp – shocking to my family but I actually like shrimp now
There’s probably more but I’m forgetting right now.
We live in a 4 person apartment, so at the end of each day we would have story time and I would tell all of the funny stories that happened at these meals. They are some of my favorite stories to tell, but they are a lot better in person, so talk to me post mission and I will tell you them all hahaha.
Eat each of these member meals we would end with a spiritual share. At one in particular I don’t think I’ve ever felt the Spirit so strong ever before. We were at a less active member’s house, and we decided to share Moroni 4:3 which is the Sacrament prayer. As I testified of the importance of the Sacrament I knew with all my heart what I was saying was true. The covenants and promises we renew each week by partaking the Sacrament are some of our biggest blessings and opportunities. When I finished testifying, I asked this Sister how she felt right then. She said I feel peace. I looked her in the eyes and said that is the Spirit. It is Heavenly Father letting you feel His love and inviting you to come back. Do you want to feel this every day? She said yes and through quiet tears said, “I need to come back to church”. It was so incredible.
I know this church is true. With all of my heart I know it’s true! Heavenly Father loves us. He wants to help us. If we’ve fallen away He welcomes us back with open arms.
I read a talk by Elder [Jeffrey R.] Holland from April 2012 called “The Laborers in the Vineyard”. In this talk he tells the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard and gives some insight into its meaning. One part that really touched me He said:
“It underscores the thought I heard many years ago that surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.
I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.
Whether you are not yet of our faith or were with us once and have not remained, there is nothing in either case that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoning. “Come boldly [to] the throne of grace,” and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast “without money and without price” at the table of the Lord.”
The power and light of Christ’s Atonement are real! If you’re lost, I also invite you to come back. If you are here, I invite you to help bring someone else back to the light and love of this Gospel.
I love you all so much! I don’t have much time to write since I have the amazing opportunity of going to the temple. So I will make sure to tell you some funny stories next week.
One quick one. At one member visit he took us to Costco to eat lunch haha it was random. But I opened my phone to check the time and he saw my background picture which is a picture of Christ. He chuckled, looked at me, and said, “why does your Jesus look different than mine?” And then proceeded to show me His background picture of Christ. He looked at the next missionaries and goes… yours is different too hahah and proceeded to look at all of our backgrounds and then proclaim rather loudly in the middle of the Costco food court that they are all different. Hahaha it was so funny.
All right. The end.
I love you all so so so much!!!