Let's start with the good.
Namely, Ting. Who is just the cutest Chinese girl ever.
And this week...she agreed to be baptized on July 20th! (date subject to change)
How did that happen to someone who didn't believe in God a week ago?
Well it started with lots of stress at work/school (whatever you call it when you are getting your PhD) as she felt like she couldn't meet with the varying expectations of supervisors. As she thought about the rising pressures, she said, "I remembered what the sisters told me, that I have a Father in Heaven, who loves me even if I don't meet others expectations. And then I felt a lot better."
She also committed to living the Word of Wisdom, giving up her coffee and tea and the chance to drink beer at parties (since she said she doesn't drink it alone). Her simple faith that she hasn't even noticed changing is so inspiring and we just adore her. We told her we would be there every step of the way to help her be ready for her baptism and she got a concerned look on her face and said, "So you won't be there afterwards?"
Then came the awkward part where we both had to explain we were going home relatively soon (as in before her baptism...) but that there would always be missionaries for her. Plus God, who is the most important J.
Some other memorable things she said (insert thick Chinese accent):
"I was reading a study about chocolate and they said chocolate has become more expensive because the Chinese discovered it was delicious!"
"I don't actually want to be a supervisor. I just want to be a mom. So if you know any open housewife positions, let me know."
To celebrate after our appointment, we went out to eat at Vapiano's and Ting ate Italian food Chinese style, crying out every few bites, "MMMHHH! DELICIOUS!!!"
She's our pride and joy, if you couldn't tell J.
And now for the bad…
A member asked if she could cut our hair and we foolishly agreed. I felt a little like Samson as large curls fell from my head and I realized it was more than a little trim. Except I didn't lose any supernatural strength and though mildly saddened at first, it really wasn't that much hair (because I have an abundant amount to begin with). It’s probably the same length as when I came on my mission, which is actually not that bad. But I needed a bad thing in the week so I could still use my chosen email title, and I had been so proud of not cutting my hair for over 16 months.
So on to the crazy.
Fact: Missionaries are crazy-people magnets, thus leading us to many crazy experiences.
Such as sitting on a bahn (train) and having a man come up to us and ask how we are doing as we are about to get off. We say we are doing well as we all get off. He then proceeds to point to where he lives and invites us over for coffee and then clarifies he doesn't want any violence but the very presence of a statement like that indicates otherwise. We then move away and he takes our hands to kiss them as a farewell. Resisting the urge to run, we walk quickly in the opposite direction.
And where do we walk? Oh, we just go right on to see a crazy lady that a member told us to visit. Except we didn't exactly know how crazy she was. We approach her building and see this lady in a nightgown wandering outside the building looking under rocks and she asks if we want to go inside. We tell her we are looking for someone and then naturally, we find out she is indeed our intended contact. Unsure of whether we are visiting a mental institution or not, we cautiously follow her inside.
Only to walk into a room where we can't breathe because no one has opened a window in a couple of decades. There is no way to describe the scent of mold and cigarette smoke that enveloped us as she shut the door and the feeling as she then stared politely at us without sitting down. We said a brief prayer with her and left rather quickly to avoid any airborne plagues.
But, don't worry, the crazies just kept coming! Yesterday at church, we were happily waiting for Ting to come (which she did of course, since the Chinese seem to be more reliable than the Africans). However, before Ting came, an old lady entered the church and immediately hugged us around our necks (which was awkward because she's smaller than us) and then grabbed our arms and dragged us into Relief Society, where we sat as she continued to cling to us. We had seen her once at a bahnhof before and she's also seen our elders, but somehow knew where our church was. As we sat during the lesson, she made us open her water bottle and punch out a pill for her to take. Then she started shaking really badly and moaning and we had no idea what is going on (insert frantic looks around the room for help), but then she calms down after a 43-second freak out session and asks us to escort her to the bathroom. She stayed all three hours at church, but thankfully our ward mission leader helped take care of her the rest of the time.
And guess what? She called us this morning to say she'll be coming every week.
Anyway, let's move forward to life lessons.
#6. You make time for what is important. I have met so many people on my mission who say they didn't have time to read in the Book of Mormon or pray or go to church. And every time they say that, I don't believe them. Because we fill our time with what is important to us. We make our own priorities. I know people work and have lives and need to sleep, but five minutes is not a big sacrifice- cut five minutes from some other activity. I've also met lots of busy people with so much on their plates and yet they continue to make time for church, for family, for maintaining their relationship with God.
As Elder Bednar put it, "Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do the simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results."
I will always make time for the little things of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because that's when little daily wonders happen.
And for your reading enjoyment, I thought I'd include a list Sister Hansen and I made this week.
Fears Missionaries Have about Going Home
· relating to normal people again
· how to act with your family
· adjusting to babies born and spouses added (to friends/family back home, not us)
· catching up with everything
· feeling a lost sense of purpose
· forgetting everything you learned on your mission
· losing contact with people from your mission
· being awkward and only knowing how to make missionary jokes
· being alone
· realizing you didn't figure out everything out on your mission and your mission didn't make you perfect
· forgetting the mission language
· knowing your dog probably won't recognize you
Fortunately, we can boldly face these fears in not too many weeks.
Have a grand week J.
--Sister Claire Michelle Woodward