Monday, August 12, 2013

First full week: Adjustments and lots of learning

This was Sister Peng's first full week in the mission field and she has survived it!
Dear Madre (yup, Spanish... for some reason, I keep thinking in Spanish...), and other fantastically awesome people who walk the face of this earth and graciously take the time to read what I write, no matter how anti climatic it is, :)
Well, today I sit here at the computer cafe drinking my lovely chilled glass of dong gua cha - a drink made by cooking wintermelon, sugar and water (which is my
Winter melon tea
favorite drink in the world!) to write to you according to the accounts of this past week.  Part of me can't believe a week has already passed.  Another part of me feels like I've been here FOREVER.  And then another part of me is who knows where.  Anyways, every day is still an adventure of sorts.  I always find things that I find interesting or weird or awesome or... yeah....
I'm still trying to adjust to Taiwan and Missionary life.  I still find the weather to be very very hot.  It's not as bad as I thought it would be.  I think that's because the Lord knows I hate heat, and is blessing me by making my brain think it's not that hot.  I still sweat a ton.  It's gross.  Like, you're just sitting next to a fan, and sweat is still pouring off of you.  Yup.  I don't understand!  I keep having to drink water, because I'm afraid that if I don't, I'll end up like a raisin. :P
Stinky Tofu
One other thing that I'm still not used to is the smell of Taiwan.  Everywhere smells like food or garbage or other stuff...  The food is okay... Except when you are riding your bike down a street with a lot of vendors of the infamous Stinky Tofu (a form of fermented tofu that has a strong odor. It is a snack that is usually sold at night markets or roadside stands).  Yum....  Still haven't tried eating that again.  I just can't get over the smell!  Haha! One day though.  They have a lot of other good food here, and you can get it pretty cheap too, if you know where to go.  We've been going to a few cheaper places, which have all been yummy.  But then, we also go out to eat with less active members, and recent converts, so then we go to more expensive places.  Which we have to pay for.  Yeah... One meal is pretty much our whole budget for food for the day.  So lately, we've been trying to limit how much we've been spending, which I'm grateful for, because with buying stuff for my bike and such, I don't have much money left. :P
As to missionary life, I don't know if I'm necessarily used to it.  Still not used to talking to people when I really have no Idea what they are saying.  Still get anxious when my trainer hands me the phone and a box of referrals and tells me to go call all the phone numbers.  Still am nervous about contacting people on the street riding motorcycles and scooters, while waiting for green lights.  Still haven't figured out the whole riding bikes in skirts.  Still get freaked out when the lighting and thunder are pretty much happening simultaneously (meaning that it's very very close) and we have to ride through storms.  But all that aside, I love missionary work! I love having the spirit with me all the time! I love praying so often!  I love serving! I love getting to know new converts and members.  I love all of the people we teach!  I love learning from the scriptures! I love my trainer!  I love my area!
So yeah! Pretty much, I love my mission.  Though, some days it's been hard to encourage myself to press forward.  I can't let myself stop to think "how am I supposed to do this?  How can the Lord expect so much?"  But then I think back to 1 Nephi 3:7.  I know this is the Lord's work.  I know I don't have to do anything alone.  I know that in reality, the Lord doesn't expect much from me.  He just wants me to do my best.  He wants me to love everyone I meet, and he wants me to grow closer to him.  I can do that. :)
Language wise, I don't know how I'm doing.  I still get a bit frustrated, because it’s hard understanding what people are saying, and trying to talk back to them.  It gets really confusing when they start throwing Taiwanese in as well.  I feel like I just sit there and smile, because that's all I can do.  Of course, I've been trying to help teach and bear my testimony, but when people start talking about other things that aren't gospel related then I'm like: o.O  Of course, I know, language will come in time, and I've just got to start using it as much as possible.  Of course, my language difficulty has been somewhat of a blessing.  We have two sisters who we met at English class.  They have really taken a liking to me, because they think my accent and my jumbled Chinese is "cool."  They are super awesome and super funny.
Anyways, we have a few investigators and less actives we are working with.  I'm slowly learning their names, and some of them are easier than others to remember.  I find that it's easier to remember their names once I've been able to love them.  They become someone dear in my heart, and I really hope that they will progress.  Like everything, missionary work needs to be fueled by desire.  We must desire for others to come closer to God.  Why do we desire?  Because we love them!  This is why we missionaries go forth among strangers and share the gospel.  Because we love them!  They are our spirit siblings, and we want them to have joy and peace.  It's important for us to love everyone.  Not only is it a commandment given to us from God, but it will help us and others have happier lives.  Loving means being understanding, patient, caring, kind, and accepting.  We strive to strengthen and aid others in their weaknesses, and we serve them whenever possible.
Yup! Anyways, Sister Liu is super awesome! Everyday I'm thankful to have a trainer.  Not only would I be completely lost in this city without her, but I would be completely lost as to how to be a missionary.  She does a really good job in understanding and caring for others.  She cares about others, and is a friend to those we meet.  She is also very patient, which is good, since most of the time, she has to wait for me to catch up to speed in conversations and such. :P  
I was talking to Sister Peng about depression in the Mission field and how common it is and this was her response:  I'm not surprised about the depression.  Missionary work is heard.  It's a lot of work, with not much success; unless you look at it with a positive attitude.  I've gotten to the point that I don't care if people reject me.  It's not my problem, it's theirs.  The prophets of old were all rejected and so were the missionaries.  Today is not any different.  Satan has a hard grasp on the hearts of the children of men.  His ways are enticing.  However, as a missionary, I have signed up to wage war against him.  I have signed up to wage war against one of the most feared beings in the universe.  And yet, I am not afraid.  I am a daughter of God.  I know who I am, and what I am fighting for.  I know that this is God's work, and that he will guide me, if I stay faithful.  This work is hard.  Yes.  But only through hard work can we be changed.  Only if we put forth all of our efforts can we truly enjoy the magnitude of our blessings.
It would be so easy for me to give up right now.  So easy.  I have realized how much of a blessed life I have lived so far.  I have realized that I haven't been as grateful as I should have been.  But I can tell this work is changing me.  And I refuse to give up.  I know the lord has a plan for me, and I will try my best to follow his ways.  I will endure.  And I will succeed. 

Anyways, I don't have much more time left... Yeah... My computer time is taken up by my training time.  Fun fun fun....
Love you all!  Stay cool! Be Strong! :D
Love, Sister Nicholle Peng

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