It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Or maybe it is over there in the States. Here it's basically just 7-eleven and McDonald's that really even acknowledge it's Christmastime. Well, and the Ward--they're planning a big, elaborate Christmas party, which they'll hold on Christmas Day. Not sure why they'd do that. But they did. I guess in Taiwan it's not like in America, where nobody wants to leave their houses on Christmas.
For you youngsters tuning in, an Area Book is this gigantic binder where missionaries keep records of anyone they've ever taught. There are records from around twenty years ago. It's supposedly a gold mine for finding people who maybe weren't prepared to be baptized back then, but are now. I haven't had a whole ton of success from it so far, but I'm sure there are people in there who are ready.
About the pancakes, yeah, the $380 is Taiwanese dollars. The exchange rate is about 1 USD = 33 NTD. So that's about ten or eleven USD. But as my trainer told me, you don't want to go exchanging things into USD or else you'll go broke quickly, since we get our money according to living costs in Taiwan. I think of it more like this: I can get about 200 pancakes out of that bag of mix, meaning I spend roughly $2 on breakfast each morning. A typical breakfast costs around $50. :D That lets me save up money for more barbecue restaurants!
Well, we got a surprise Saturday night; Elder Gardner is being moved to NanTun (still in Taichung City), and he'll be a district leader over there. I'm kinda sad, because I really consider Elder Gardner a good friend, but we'll continue to do the Lord's work no matter where we're called. My new companion is Elder Perry. I don't really know him, and his train doesn't get here for another couple hours, so more on him next week.
(name) is a week B now (meaning he'll be baptized on Christmas), and he's been keeping the commandments we've taught him so far. He was a little confused about the word of wisdom, because he likes to drink tea and coffee, but he's been living it so far. He's a really shy kid, so probably the biggest obstacle is getting him to speak up so we can find out what he truly feels and believes. He's a big fan of one-word answers to questions, so we've had to become big fans of multiple follow-up questions. I'm really excited for him; he seems to really have a desire to learn more.
We've also found a new investigator this week who's really great. His name is (name), and he's a really humble and nice man. He was actually a member referral from another area, and he set right up to meet with us. He has a Christian background and he's really desirous to get closer to God, so he has been more than willing to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and repent. His challenge, I think, will be Sabbath Day. The place he works is busiest on weekends, so they won't let him take those two days off. But we shared 1Nephi 3:7 with him and he really committed to do what it took to keep the Sabbath holy. I'm really excited for him as well.
I wanted to share a little experience from this last Friday. We just got out of a lesson with a Mr. (name), who we strongly committed to pray about Joseph Smith (he's a Christian and doesn't believe the authority to baptize was ever taken from the earth). The Spirit was really strong in that lesson, and afterward I felt like there was nothing we couldn't do. I'd be circling around an intersection talking to people, trying to invite them to meet with us, and even if they drove off in my face I was just filled with love and faith that we would still find new investigators that day. I share this experience because it helped me remember that whenever we feel discouraged or hopeless or angry, or whenever we think badly of other people, we don't have the Spirit. The Spirit will fill us literally to overflowing with faith and hope and charity. There will be no room for those dark thoughts Satan wants us to have. I testify that Heavenly Father has sent us His Spirit to give us a "perfect brightness of hope" and "a love of God and of all men" (see 2Nephi 31:20). If you ever feel those depressing feelings, pray or read the scriptures or sing a hymn until the Spirit fills you up with light. You will have the strength to conquer any challenge or temptation.
I sure love all of you. I pray for you every day. I'll talk to you again next week!