It sounds like everybody's glad to have some relaxation after a stressful week at school. That's really funny about having 18 priests. I really hope that all of them serve missions. My mission has already changed me in so many ways; I see now why Elder Holland spoke so strongly about the miracle that it is to serve a mission. I agree with him.
Dill, you definitely deserve a break to calm your brain down. That reminds me of how during my first couple move calls I would dream about doing missionary work. For instance, I'd be trying to convince somebody to meet with us or worrying about how to help some investigator overcome his problems (only to wake up and realize I had no idea who I'd been dreaming about).
Kelsi, Taiwanese celebrate Christmas much like most of America celebrates Christmas. They put up Santa Claus statues and Christmas trees, have big sales in the department stores, play music about Santa Claus in 7-Eleven...in other words, only the commercial aspect of the holiday. Christians are very few in this enormous city, so most people don't really know or care about the real reason for the holiday. And that's why I'm here--to help them know about it!
Well, it's been an interesting week. I've been with Elder Perry for a week now, and he's really focused on helping people have a lasting conversion, which is great. We actually have a ton of less active members here because some people got baptized without any kind of testimony of these things. One thing we're trying to work on together is working harder to hit the goals we set. We actually had our worst week ever for adding new investigators, which was making me depressed and feeling like I was failing the Lord and everyone else. Our week B, (name), is avoiding us because his parents oppose anything to do with Christianity. Then this morning I read in Alma 26, where Ammon glories in the Lord for the blessings they received. Even though they were cast into prison and spit upon and everything else, Ammon barely mentions those things. He focuses on how gloriously blessed they were to bring souls unto Christ and see these people's faithfulness in enduring to the end. It made me realize that yes, there are things I need to improve on, but I can't always be looking at what's wrong. The Lord gave us many great blessings this week as well.
One of those blessings is (name) (yes, last week I wrote his name wrong). He amazes me every time with how much faith he has. We found out this week that before we made contact with him he was praying to God to help him know Him and know how to follow Him. A couple days later, I called his name from our cell phone referrals and he was willing to set right up. That blew me away to hear that. The Lord truly answered this man's prayer and sent us to give him the truth he was seeking! And he loves it. He still can't come to church because of work, but he said starting in January he can start requesting time off on Sunday to come to church. He's actually getting married on Christmas in a chapel in Tainan (our chapel, even though neither he nor his fiancee are members).
Another awesome story: when we shared the word of wisdom with him, he said he really liked to drink coffee and he smoked a lot. We asked him if he believed this commandment was from God, and he said he did. Two days later we met with him to help him set a quit-smoking plan and he said he hadn't touched coffee since our last lesson. We asked him to set a goal for when he would quit smoking and he said "Hmm...well, how about tomorrow?" And he wrote it down. We'll be following up this afternoon to see how it went, but this man has enormous faith in his Heavenly Father and his Savior. He really desires to do what's right, and he has the will to act on that desire.
Another surprise blessing yesterday was that a group of five college students just randomly showed up at church. They said they were doing a report on our church's missionaries, so they wanted to come and see what our church was like. It was really unexpected. After church we shared with them the message of the restoration and gave them each a Book of Mormon, and I think several of them definitely have actual interest in the gospel.
So I know there's a lot I need to be better at, but I'm also humbled and awed by how greatly the Lord has blessed me. I've already had the privilege of helping two people come unto their Savior, and I have faith I will be able to help many more in the future. I know this is God's work. I know He loves me and all of His children whom I serve, and He will never leave me if I am constantly seeking His guidance.
Actually, I just remembered our mission is doing some sort of top-secret Christmas mission conference, which will last all day this Thursday. I have no idea what it could be, but it should be interesting.
In other news, this week was the COLDEST week I've ever experienced in Taiwan. It was raining, wind was blowing hard, and it was both humid and cold. So even though I was wearing long johns and a long-sleeve shirt, it was really darn cold. We had dinner with the Li family on Thursday and they picked up my jacket and said "This isn't going to keep you warm!" And gave me one of their coats. I really tried to refuse it, but they said they had a bunch just like it that they never use, and if I didn't take it they would put it in a bag and hang it on my bike handlebars. (-_-) So it was embarrassing, but that coat was very helpful and it could not have come at a better time. These people are so good and Christlike.
Well, I can't really think of much else to say. I guess I'll wrap this up. I love you all so much, and I'm looking forward to talking to you on Christmas. But I still expect a letter waiting for me on the next preparation day. ;) I love our stake as well, and I don't know how I could possibly thank everyone. I got the package from Emily Freeman with notes from a bunch of people in our stake. I plan to send a thank you card, but if you see anyone who sent me a note, please tell them thank you from Elder Durrant!