Hey there everyone,
Well, I didn't talk much on the phone about the missionary work over the last week, so here's what's been going on:
(name) got married on Christmas. We met with him Wednesday before he left and checked up on his word of wisdom progress. He said he wasn't able to completely quit yet, but he reduced his smoking all the way from three packs in two days to three cigarettes in a day. We're planning to talk to him tonight and find out if he's completely quit yet. I once again am amazed by this man. The willpower it takes to change your life so much in so little time is truly incredible. I am confident it's because he has felt the influence of the Spirit telling him this is true and good, and he's willing to pay any price to grow closer to his Father in Heaven. The one obstacle is still the Sabbath Day. He told us he's going to use some of his special vacation time to take three hours off on Sundays and then work the rest of the day. While that's a great effort, we're going to have to teach him that the Sabbath Day means a complete rest from all labor. Our bishopric member, Brother (name), said "Oh, yeah, that's no problem!" ...it kind of is. I realized in personal study that the scriptures and prophets and Preach My Gospel are all very clear that we are to rest from labor on the Sabbath. I've been praying very hard that after conquering the word of wisdom his faith will be strong enough to do whatever it takes to keep the Sabbath day holy. I am so excited to help him prepare for baptism; he's so willing and ready.
Our other investigator right now is (name). He's really great--he came to our ward's Christmas party and got to know some more ward members. He was taking notes during Sunday School in the back of his Gospel Principles book. We just need to teach him often, in little bites of truth, because he's not really able to remember a whole lot of new things at once. But he's really willing to be baptized. He says baptism is important because we become God's people and we can help God do His work. I just want to make sure he's converted to the Savior, and not to the missionaries, so we're really emphasizing the importance of reading the Book of Mormon.
It's so exciting to be a part of this glorious work. I hope none of you are offended when I say I'm not the least bit homesick right now. I loved talking to you all and hearing your voices, and now I'm just feeling ready to keep going. I can't BELIEVE I'm already 1/4 of the way through. I feel like I just started. I didn't have time to really bear testimony or anything on the phone, but I definitely know that this is where the Lord wants me to be. His hand has upheld me and led me every minute of every day, and I feel like I'm a very changed person. I want to keep changing; this is the time I'm being molded into the man God wants me to be.
And speaking of change...I really just can't get over how different everybody except Dad sounded. Sorry Dad. But I'll be honest, when I heard Megan saying hi in the background and I said "Hey, everybody's there!" it was because she sounded like Aunt Shanny. o_O I bet Megan and Kelsi are tall now, Dillon's probably got a moustache....you better not have a moustache.
So I've been realizing recently as I've worked with less active members that there is basically one common thread: the first things they stopped doing were reading their scriptures and praying every day. I don't think I really realized before how vital that daily spiritual nourishment is. Not that I think any of you would do this, but just remember to never, ever, ever convince yourself there's no time for scripture study, prayer, or going to church. You'll starve your spirit!
Well, today we went out to a barbecue restaurant again. This one even had the option to order marshmallows on sticks :) or cream cheese wrapped in wonton wrappers. It was so good. But I feel like between today's beef-fest and Thursday's all-you-can-eat steak, I've eaten the better part of a cow myself. Can't be healthy for you.
So on that Thursday Christmas activity I got to see a lot of people I haven't seen since the MTC, which was fun. We also went to Lugang, which is an old 1700s Taiwanese town. There were, of course, tons of tourist shops, but we went and visited this old temple. It was really cool, because it looked and felt like an ancient Chinese mansion with the courtyard and the log interiors to the buildings. I wish I could describe it, because my camera battery died before I could take any pictures of it. :( We also visited a giant Buddah statue. Inside were some stories from the life of Buddah. Legend says when he was born he took seven steps to the east, stood on a lily flower, and pointed to the heavens and said some deep philosophical something. It was a lot of fun to go see some of those cultural sites around Taiwan. Then to end the night we had a Christmas devotional at the mission office chapel.
Well, that's about it this week. I love you all a lot.