Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 27, 2010

Here we are again

Wow! Another week gone by. They really seem to fly by way too fast. We're approaching the end of my second move call in Taiwan already. How'd you like those pictures of a flooded Donggang? It was kinda fun, even though I was soaked from the knees down. If I'd had a canoe you can bet I would have gone paddling around the streets, throwing lifesavers to people.

This week was a week of incredible miracles. We've been working hard for a couple weeks now to find investigators, and we've been sitting down and teaching very little. We pressed forward with faith that the Lord would give us success if we were diligent. Well, in the last two days we've seen the fruits of our labor. We started teaching a 17-year-old kid named (name) who I found last Tuesday, and he is so incredibly willing! He's excited to learn about the gospel, he came to stake conference yesterday and loved it. He is such a good kid, and he recognizes that this gospel is what will fill a void in his life.

We also met with a girl who wants really badly to be baptized, but her dad won't allow it until she's 18. We shared the story of Esther with her and testified that if she and the branch all fasted and prayed, she would be able to get her dad's permission. The Spirit was very strong, and I was just amazed by her faith and desire to be baptized.

Members have started giving us more referrals, we've been having good sit-down lessons with pretty solid investigators, and I've just been feeling like the Lord is pouring out His blessings on us. I know that the field is white already to harvest. It may be hard at times, but all we have to do is press forward through the hard times with an eye of faith, looking forward to the blessings that will come. That's why the scripture I want on my missionary plaque is 2 Nephi 4:20, 30. My God is my support, and I know that He will help us overcome any trial that comes our way.

Fun cultural thing for the day: last Wednesday was the Mid-Autumn Festival. The traditions on that day (9/22) include barbecueing out in front of your house and worshipping your ancestors. Ancestor worship (aka "baibai") takes many forms, but on the Mid-Autumn Festival it's usually buying stacks of paper "money" and burning it in a fire or putting a piece of fruit in the family shrine. It sure makes the air smokey when everyone is burning paper money or barbecueing. And people give away moon cakes on that day, so naturally every member of the branch had to give the missionaries about twenty of them. Our fridge is so full of moon cakes it's sagging. Just kidding.

Well, my time's up for this week. I love you all so much, and I pray for you every day. Please remember to study the scriptures and pray daily! Talk to you next week.



Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

A Bit Waterlogged, but Doing Great

Well, as you probably saw, we did indeed have a monster typhoon yesterday. It was actually so bad here in the south we could not go out proselyting. The wind was just too strong--it was blowing trees over and everything. So we stayed in the apartment from noon until 9:00 and called. Called everyone--former investigators, current investigators, recent converts, stacks of contact cards...I almost lost my mind. Street contacting is so much more fun than that. And yes, now we have a nice flood in some areas of Donggang, up to my knees in the deepest parts. One of the main roads is also a river, with a current and everything.

I'm already short on time...where did it go? I want you all to know I love you and I have a testimony of Heavenly Father's love for each one of us individually. I know that anything that's important to you is important to Him, and He will hear your prayers. That's something most people in Taiwan don't understand right now, and we have to teach them--prayer is an actual two-way communication between you and your Heavenly Father. I want to challenge you all to try and make your prayers more meaningful. Also, get a Preach My Gospel and start using it for FHE or personal scripture study! It's a great tool and I know it will help you understand doctrines more clearly. Especially chapter 3. You can get a pdf on the church website, I think.

I love you all so much. Sorry for the shorter letter, expect a better one next week!

Love you!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

No Letter Today - September 20, 2010

Dear Brother and Sister Durrant:

Elder Durrant has asked that I relay a message to you since he will not be able to write you today. He and his companion are just fine and their apartment has not sustained damage in the typhoon yesterday but they are busily helping others dig out and there are no internet places open in their area. Evidently the south was hit the hardest and our missionaries here in Taichung are a little envious they didn’t get to see as much action. There seems to be the opportunity to provide much needed service now that the typhoon has headed west.

So we just want you to know you son is fine and will probably have some interesting news to share with you soon.

Warm regards,

Sister Greene

Taiwan Taichung Mission Secretary

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 14, 2010

A Belated Letter

Yeah, sorry about that. We had a special zone conference yesterday with a member of the Asia Area Presidency, Elder Pratt. As a result, preparation day was moved to Tuesday. I hope you weren't too worried about me. :) That zone conference was really good. They're instituting a new sort of curriculum from Preach My Gospel to really help missionaries become more effective teachers. We talked a lot about how vitally important it is for people to be praying on their knees and understanding they're actually talking to Heavenly Father, as well as reading from the Book of Mormon and applying it to themselves. It was great--an answer to my prayers. And we got Subway for lunch! Mmmm...I'll tell you what, you don't know how good so many fresh veggies taste until you go a few months with only fried veggies. I was even eating the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. Yeah, I've become much less picky with my food. Do you happen to know if you can go lactose intolerant by going without milk for two years? Milk and cheese are soooo expensive here. I don't think I've had genuine cow milk once since the MTC--it's all soy milk. =D

Well it sounds like you're all doing well. You had Elder Holland and President Packer?? That's so awesome. I love Elder Holland's talks. I just wish he'd speak up and tell us all how he really feels.

I've had several varieties of Taiwanese shaved ice, and all are delicious beyond compare. One is the bingsha I told you about, which is like a Slurpee but with real fruit and MSG and all kinds of tasty stuff inside. The other's called a chuabing, which is shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk, chopped mango, and a scoop of mango ice cream on top. Way good.

Well, this week has been a lot of fun. Still faithfully working to find those people who will be baptized this move call. I now sometimes meet people and start to contact them and they say "I know. You've talked to me three times in the last two weeks." Oh. You wanna come to church? I've seen so many miracles I can't begin to count them. One I see so very often is when I'm talking to an investigator or someone on the street and I don't completely understand the words they're saying, but I know what they mean. I will also sometimes be thinking what I can say to an investigator, drawing a total blank, and suddenly the perfect question just comes to my mind. That's the Spirit working through me, I know.

That reminds me, I gave my second priesthood blessing ever this week. Our Filipino member was in the Emergency Room a few nights ago and she asked us to give her a blessing. There are very few things more special than to start giving a blessing, feel your mind go blank of your own thoughts, and just start saying the words that flow to your mouth. That's what it felt like--the words didn't even really pass through my brain. She's doing fine, by the way. She's so solid; every Fast Sunday she gets up and bears a really powerful testimony.

Last Sunday I also got to go up to the mountains to visit some less active members. Taiwan's mountains are so cool, and the people are also so great up there. They're Taiwan's native people, so they've got a completely different language from Chinese or Taiwanese, and they have aboriginal art and stuff. Way cool. If I ever go there on a preparation day, I'll take pictures so you can see.

I love you all, and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Remember, Heavenly Father loves you!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 6, 2010

The Rain Came Down and the Flood Came Up

But the house on the rock stood still! ;) So yes, the typhoon. Just a disclaimer for the future: you don't have to worry about me the next time you hear something like that. They still send us out proselyting unless it's seriously too dangerous. Then our leaders order us to stay in our apartments and call investigators or something. So yeah, don't worry in the future if a typhoon or earthquake comes. I mean, we get some of each every year. This year's typhoon was actually not that great as typhoons go. We'd have periods of really heavy rain and wind for about 15 minutes, then it would almost stop raining. Then it would start up raining again, then stop. It didn't even flood the streets. Apparently last year on 8/8 they had a huge typhoon and there was water up to my waist. This year was really mild.

As for the language, I'd say it's getting better and better. I'm finding myself able to understand what people say to me nearly all the time, or at least know what they mean. I'm learning even more vocabulary for the missionary lessons, etc. It's a real blessing of the Lord--I may have had the gift of tongues at the MTC, but nothing makes that gift take off like being surrounded by the language and talking to the people all day every day.

We met this really cool kid yesterday. He's about a year younger than Dillon. We taught him the first lesson, which is about the Restoration. At the end, we asked him when we could meet again to teach him more and he said "Can you teach me right now?" Really super willing. His only obstacle so far is that his parents don't want him being baptized, because they already did their religion's baptismal-like thing to him when he was a baby, and he can't go join another church. Yeah, Taiwan has some strange religions. There's one called YiGuanDao that basically believes everything. They believe in five holy people, including Buddah, Mohammad, and Jesus. Basically their thing is that all those people are the same and all taught God's truth. I'm so glad our church has the testimonies of two separate nations that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. He was not just some good teacher who's on the same level as Buddah. He's our God, our Master. It's out of love for Him that I came out here and work my hardest every day.

Well, I guess I'll close then. I sure love each of you, and I know Heavenly Father is watching out for you. Keep up your daily scripture study. That is truly vital, trust me. You need that constant nourishment to protect yourself from the tricks of the adversary. I love you all so much and I'll talk to you again next week!