Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

I just realized I have quite a bit to write to you...I completely forgot to tell you about our Christmas Activity we had last Thursday! I was the captain of our bus...which only meant that I had to take head counts and if anyone got left behind it was my fault. I did get to talk on the microphone though. :) We went to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County. It was kind of cloudy, but it was still a very beautiful day. I actually really liked this year's activity because Sun Moon Lake and the two other stops around it are up in the mountains where it's really clear and beautiful. We took a mission picture at the pagoda and then went to another temple and then to a little touristy town where we could buy souvenirs. Like I told you, I was intending to buy some souvenirs, but there was nothing I really wanted there. If I'm going to spend my money, I want something I like that I could keep in my house always. I was looking for some Chinese wall scrolls, but mostly all they had was aborigine stuff that looked just like what you could buy in Moab or Mexico, etc. What more evidence do you need? The Book of Mormon says that Hagoth sailed away and nobody knows where they ended up. Looks like some of them ended up on Taiwan.

Then for dinner we went to the Taichung Steak House like last year. It was really tasty. Especially because this year I avoided the steaks and went for stuff like Mongolian barbecue. Finally, we returned to the mission office chapel and had a Christmas devotional, and then we rode our bus all the way back home. It was a lot of fun, especially just getting to see all the other missionaries, like Elder Larson, Elder Mohr, and Elder Turk. I'll send an email of pictures later.

We're seeing some great blessings in terms of our investigators, too. Brother (name) is willing to be baptized this Saturday...he just needs to tell his parents. They said he could come to church, so I hope and pray that they won't oppose him making his own decision on baptism. We were blessed to find a family of former investigators and started teaching them, too. They've been Christian for four years now, and all because the wife had a dream one night that the Holy Ghost spoke to her. So she instantly converted to Christ and convinced her whole family to go with her. They don't have a church, really--she doesn't think it's important, because as long as you just believe in Jesus you're saved. Didn't He Himself say that not everybody who says "Lord, Lord" will enter into His kingdom, but he who doeth the will of the Father? They're a really nice family, though, and I think they have a lot of potential.

We just got back from a Christmas dinner at a barbecue place, which was very tasty. I ate a lot of sushi and grilled meat.
Well, I think that's just about it. I love you all so much and I'll talk to you again next week.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas from Me to Y'all

Hello everyone! We just got back from a pretty successful zone activity. It was very simple; we just kind of ate pizza and chicken together, but it was great to get the zone together. We were also able to present a tool we created to help them get more member referrals. It's like a little worksheet where members can write names of friends they can invite to hear the gospel, methods they can use, and a place to write a goal of when they're going to do it. I was really excited for it, because 1) It took me a long time to write it all out in Chinese and 2) The idea came like a blast of revelation when I was studying really hard in Preach My Gospel for a way to help our area and the whole zone find more solid new investigators. So I was pleased that it worked out so well.

This week is going to go so fast, I can tell. This Thursday is the ultra-secret Christmas devotional, and all I know about it is that I have to be at the Tainan train station at 4:30 in the morning. Should be a lot of fun.

This week was fun, but also kind of stressful. One kind of fun thing we did was we went with a member to go caroling to some old people. The unfortunate part was that we didn't have time to really teach them much, and none of them lived in our own area. But it was a good opportunity to do some service. One of the old ladies was super happy to have us over, she was laughing and swaying along while we were singing. We said happy Christmas (i.e. Merry Christmas, but in Chinese you say happy Christmas) and she said "Yeah! Happy, happy, everybody's happy!" It was cute. We also had a pretty successful leadership training meeting. I was worried about our presentation, but after a lot of study and prayer we put together a presentation that went pretty well. Our topic was on helping investigators receive revelation through prayer, and we focused our training on helping people have a desire to pray about the Book of Mormon. It turned out pretty well, thanks to the Spirit.

Our investigators are having some troubles right now, actually. I mean, investigators always have problems, but we're trying really hard not to let them drop out. One kid is scared of his family even though he's never actually told them he wants to get baptized. Another guy who quit using drugs so he could get baptized started smoking. I feel confident we can help these and other people get baptized, but I'm really sweating over helping everyone in the zone baptize. I've got to lead by example, but I still don't feel like I'm good enough to do so. Oh well. Luckily we can have faith in Christ instead of faith in ourselves.

I'm sorry this week's letter is kind of short. We're a little short on time today. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hello again, everyone

Greetings from your favorite missionary in the Taiwan Taichung mission. :)

The thing about Christmas...yeah, it's sad. Like, if you look at Christmas displays in Asia, there is no whiff of anything religious anywhere. It's all Santa and presents. I saw some decorations in a Mos Burger the other day which had a Santa face and the words "Merry XMos." That's three strikes in a row: Santa, X instead of Christ, and inserting their product name. I'm kind of contemplating doing away completely with Santa when I have my own kids. When you think about it, Santa is like idol worship. People leave offerings of cookies and milk to a fat guy who sneaks into their house and leaves them loot. It's so similar to certain forms of Daoism. Anyway, that's another story for another day. Maybe just read 3 Nephi or Luke, because if the world won't remember Christ, at least we will. :)

A couple funny stories about McDonald's I never told you before: 1. Taiwan does Coke cups too. This summer I earned several of those gluttony trophies--all you have to do is buy a "MegaMac" value meal (a 4-patty Big Mac) and upgrade to large. Whoof. My poor heart. 2. A couple weeks ago there was a huge line at Mai-Dang-Lao (McDonald's). The quarter-pounder had just been introduced and they were giving a free one to everybody who would pose for a picture with it. We refused. After all, we're representatives of Jesus Christ, and we're not going to end up on some advertisement for quarter pounders.

This was a hectic week. I felt like it slipped right by and we didn't get nearly everything done that we needed to do. We have several investigators who are doing really well and progressing to be baptized on Christmas Eve. I'm a little worried because we haven't had many new investigators lately, so our pool of investigators is not as full as I'd like it. We're going to work hard to find more this week, though. One of the miracles was that the (name) Family came to church for the third time yesterday. This guy has made a great change in the month we've known him. The first time we met with him he had some crazy YiGuanDao beliefs, and he believed his daughter had been to heaven and talked to spirits and all sorts of weird craziness. The last couple times at church he hasn't mentioned YiGuanDao once, and he even said he'd be baptized when he knows that this church is true. Wow! He's been bringing two of his three kids each time (different two each time). I think he's afraid of his wife, though, because he won't let us come over to his house to teach him and we've never met her. He says she's a very devout YiGuanDao. We'll see what we can do for them.

This week we'll be having a leadership training meeting, and for the first time I'll have to participate in it instead of just going along for the ride. Each zone leader companionship presents a one-hour training session on some aspect of missionary work. Our topic is helping investigators receive revelation through prayer. I'm excited for this; I definitely feel like it's a challenge at times to help investigators really understand what prayer actually is. In the culture of Daoism and Buddhism, you just go to the miao and use incense and pray to the gods there when you need help, but nobody really gets that there is a God in Heaven who is listening to every prayer and will answer them through His own method. To be fair, I don't think I developed a really good habit of prayer until I became a missionary (and I sometimes still don't pray as well as I ought to).

How fast time goes...the Christmas activity is almost here already. Scary. My time is getting shorter, so I feel an even more urgent need to baptize more people. I've got to find those families! We're still working with the (name) family. The boys are awesome as always, and the mom is also really cool. The dad knows what's right and what he ought to do, but for some reason he's not doing it. I think he even wants to change the way his life is right now, but maybe he's just not motivated enough to act. We're going to try and get those boys to come to church and seminary and start showing a good example to their parents. I think the mom could come around really easily if she can find a way to keep the Sabbath Day holy.

That's all the time I have this week. I love you all so much and I hope you all have a fantastic week.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy December!

I learned something funny recently that made me think of you. In Taiwan older people will say they have "lao hua yan," which just refers to how older people often start to get farsighted. But it's funny because that literally translates to "old flower eyes." I don't know why, but I think it's funny anyway. I might call you old flower eyes sometimes. ;)

Well, this was a really good week. Elder Braby and I are still in Tainan. We just got back from the train station, where we had some all you can eat pizza with some of the other Elders. I'm feeling really excited for this month, because we have some great goals that are going to be tough, but I feel we can hit. We've started a sort of weekly zone newsletter, which I wrote during my dinner yesterday and copied today. I think it'll be a big help. We're working on really fostering some zone unity and getting people excited to hit our goals. We've named our zone "Team Tainan." I remember in an interview several months ago I asked President Bishop how I can personally have more urgency and fire in my work. He told me that the key was to have a goal or vision of where I want to be, and then work my hardest toward that goal. I think that applies to a zone, a family, a ward, a school, or any group. If you all have a common goal that you all want really badly to accomplish, you'll be much more united and more willing to work hard.

And (name) was baptized and confirmed this weekend! He looked so happy. He's really felt the Spirit testify strongly to him of the truth of our message, I can tell. It's truly been a miracle to see him baptized, because for those two weeks we were afraid he was gone completely and we didn't have his address. But the Lord told us not to give up on him, and because of some inspiration in personal study, good plans in companion study, and a spiritual atmosphere in his lessons, we were able to teach him exactly what he needed to know and he felt the Spirit. That personal study time is vital. I am confident that the Lord will prepare His worthy servants who obediently study in the morning with the things they will need during the day. And that's not just for missionaries. Starting the day with scripture study is ideal for everyone. I'm really happy I got to know Brother (Name) and help him be baptized. He'll be a great member. Sorry, I forgot my camera today. I'll send you a picture next week.

We're working with a couple of wonderful families right now. The (name) family (did I tell you about them already? the family with three sons?) is doing well. I think we're getting the ward pumped up to rescue this family, and we're also working on getting the boys involved in church activities like seminary where they can meet friends. They're such a good family. Turns out the mom is baptized as well, so we've just got to get those parents active and get them to bring their whole family to church. I love them a lot, and I want really badly to help them get baptized before my time in Tainan is over.

Well, it's about time to wrap up, I guess. It's good to write to you all. I love you and I pray for you as always.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy 感恩節 (Thanksgiving)!

Hello again from my side of the pond! Happy Thanksgiving to y'all. My Thanksgiving dinner was a tasty bian-dang, which is kind of like Panda Express. You get rice, three kinds of vegetables, and some kind of meat, like a fried chicken steak or beef or whatever. Mine was beef steak with black pepper sauce. Yum. I've gotta learn to make some of my favorite Chinese foods so I can still enjoy them in America. Have any of you ever tried curry? It's delicious.

I love reading stories of Book of Mormon missionaries. It really does humble me to remember that nothing I go through can compare to what Alma, Abinadi, Amulek, Ammon, Aaron, Nephi and Lehi suffered just so they could save the souls of some of their brethren. I just realized how many great missionaries' names started with A. Hm.

I am indeed excited for Christmas. Christmas will hopefully be the day that one or more people receive the best gift of all--the gift of the Holy Ghost. We're working with a guy right now who has more faith in Christ and more desire to be baptized than I think I've ever seen in anyone before. His obstacle is he's working through an addiction to drugs, but he really feels he can be ready for baptism on Christmas Eve. We hope so as well.

This week was power week, and we really saw some amazing miracles. Yeah, I said it again, but who can deny that they're miracles? Thursday was power "flood the Earth with the Book of Mormon" day, where we tried to place as many copies of the Book of Mormon as possible. Technically, we don't track that number anymore, but we did it for this one day. We placed over 1000 copies with about 80 companionships. We were giving them to people as we tracted, we gave them to people at the restaurants where we always was a lot of fun. And on Friday we did "power member splits day."

Elder Braby met with some progressing investigators with one member as his companion, and another member went with me to go visit a couple of new investigators we were scheduled to meet at their homes. One of these was the (name) family (pronounced like Jung--that last part sounds like the end of the word 'stung'). I found them a week ago as I was calling former investigator records. The record said it was a family of five and when I called them they were willing to meet. When we got there on Friday night, it turned out that the dad and the oldest son were already baptized. The mom and the two younger sons haven't yet. The mom wasn't there, but we taught a simple lesson to the dad and the three boys, who are in 5th, 8th, and 9th grade. They are such a cool family. The boys were all really respectful and they read the scriptures with us and answered our questions. Brother (name) said he's been teaching his boys to pray every night even though they haven't been coming to church. I have really high hopes that as we work hard and have members involved in the teaching process, we can help this family return to activity and get everybody baptized so that they can prepare for a sealing in the temple.

Brother (name) is good to go for his baptism this Saturday. He's doing so well--the members love him and he showed up early to set up the chairs. If that isn't a miracle story, then I don't know what is. I'm so happy that he's going to enter into this covenant with our Heavenly Father. We've also got a couple of other great investigators who are looking solid to be baptized in December. The Lord's been blessing us richly these past couple of weeks.

I don't really know what else to say. Today Elder Braby and I are probably going to take it a little easy, write some letters, clean the apartment, and maybe watch the Thomas S. Monson documentary, "On the Lord's Errand." I'm kind of amassing a sizable library of church media. It's great. Have you ever seen "Special Witnesses of Christ"? It's the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve bearing testimony of various gospel topics (for instance, President Hinckley standing in the Sacred Grove bears testimony of the First Vision, Elder Holland standing in the Garden of Gethsemane testifies of the Atonement). Great stuff. Great for family home evenings.

Well, that's about it I suppose. I sure love you all very much. I know that the Lord's watching over each and every one of us. Remember that even the strongest testimony will die very quickly if not nourished daily by personal prayer and scripture study.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello there everyone

Top of the Monday to you. It's great to hear from you all this week.

Thanksgiving crept up on me last year, but this year a few people have been reminding me of it. We do run into foreigners once in awhile. Every Sunday, actually. The Tainan Fourth Ward has Sunday School classes in English and an interpreter at Sacrament Meeting, so we have about three families of Americans in our ward. Or should I say, three American men who married Asian women and are living in Taiwan. They're all really nice though.

The car horn honking...once in awhile we'll get an American who rides by flipping us off and yells something, but he's going so fast I can't make it out. It's more funny than offensive. We also get a lot of groups of Taiwanese teenagers who ride by on their white scooters and yell "HELLO HOW ARE YOUUU!" It's pretty hilarious.

Zone leading is going pretty well so far. I am still trying to get used to it all, but I have had a lot of support from President Bishop. I love that man. Elder Braby is from Sandy, UT, and he's been in Tainan for three months longer than I have. He's a great missionary, and he had a lot of success in his previous area because he worked really well with the ward members to get people baptized. Exchanges work like this: we'll usually go once or twice a move call with each Elder companionship, and one of us will go to the other area with the senior companion and the other will take the junior companion to our area.

On your mission did you have two zone leaders per zone? That's the way ours is; Elder Braby and I are the zone leaders, but it seems in some missions they just have one zone leader. In our zone we have 20 missionaries (well, 19 now that one of the Elders left early). There are eight zones in the Taichung mission: North Taichung, Taichung, ZhangHua, NanTou, Jia-Yi, Tainan, West Gaoxiong, East Gaoxiong. I actually don't know how many missionaries in the mission. A lot more now that we've had so many new missionaries come in.

Answers to questions I have been asked:

1. My mission is going really well. There are hard times and happy times, but I regret nothing so far.

2. I've taught a lot of people, but families...fewer than I'd wish for. A lot of people think their family would be angry if they tried to share the gospel with them.

3. School is so much more stressful than a mission. And not nearly as satisfying.

4. The language is working pretty well. Actually, I feel like I need to study it harder. I feel like I'm busier than ever and I haven't been studying enough.

5. Last year I tried to get a flu shot, but I didn't know how to say it. I went to the doctor and used the phone dictionary to show the word, and I said "I need this." They looked at me kind of funny, but took my 150 kuai and sat me down. Before he needled me he asked me why I didn't look like I had any symptoms. My eyes got all wide and I said "I'm not sick yet! I need the thingy that makes it so I won't get sick!" He said "Oooooh! That! That's only 50 kuai." And he gave me 100 kuai. I still shudder to think what kind of sicko shot he was about to give me. O_O

6. The Lord called me to be a missionary for two years. I want to give it my all for those two years, so I don't dwell on coming home. I know the day will come, and when it's time I'll be happy for that as well. The Lord wants me to be a missionary, but then He also wants me to move on to the next phase of life.

7. Yes. In fact, if anyone wanted to come here on a graduation trip or just a vacation, I'd be happy to play tour guide. I also hope to be able to come back and see some people/families I baptized sealed in the temple.

This was an excellent week. On Tuesday night I had a dream that we found that investigator who disappeared, overcame his concern, and he was baptized the next week. Elder Braby and I both felt that I had that dream for a reason, so we kept trying to get ahold of him. Wednesday night he finally answered the phone, and on Thursday we met with him. We were able to share a scripture with him that answered his concern and helped him feel the Spirit really strongly. In his closing prayer he thanked Heavenly Father for the Spirit and how he could feel such a happy feeling. He wants to be baptized next Saturday. I thank my Heavenly Father that He told us not to quit trying even though Brother (name) hadn't answered his phone for nearly two weeks.

We're seeing a lot of success this week with our investigators. I love these people so much. What makes me happiest is to see them start to really love coming to church and reading the scriptures and praying. We have several people who are firm on their decision to be baptized in December, and I'm feeling really confident we'll see a white Christmas Eve (baptism) and one or more confirmations on Christmas Day. I'm finding that leading a zone is very much outside of my comfort level, but I am grateful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity to serve others. I find that my love grows and grows as I think about and serve 18 other missionaries. The Lord is helping me to fill a position that I of myself have no power to fill.

I'm not sure what else to write...and my time's almost up as is. I guess I'll wrap things up for now. I love you all so much. Know that I am always praying for all of you and that I know the Lord is with us when we go through trials in life.

I love you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly report November 14, 2011

I cannot even believe it's been another week. I think I've been twice as busy, so time has been flying by at at least double the speed.

It's been a great week, mostly. We had another investigator just up and disappear. I hate it so much when that happens--they refuse to answer your calls or anything. It's so sad because if they would just talk to us maybe we could resolve their concern. But the Taiwanese culture is about "face" (just another word for pride). If you can't keep a commandment or you are afraid to get baptized you just try to avoid seeing the missionaries ever again so you don't lose face. I love these people too much to just let them vanish. We'll be praying that we just run into him on the road this week.

We have some really promising investigators, though. One is a nineteen year old kid who likes coming to church and has been willing to live every commandment we've taught him so far...except baptism. He's afraid his family would oppose. We're working to help him work through that. Another man has been struggling for a long time with a heroine addiction. We met with him and the bishop, and that man has more faith than I've seen in a lot of active members. He wants very badly to be baptized and begin a new life; he wants to wash away his past sins. He believes in the power of Christ's atonement. We gave him the 12 Steps to Addiction Recovery workbook made by the church, and he currently has a goal to be baptized on Christmas Eve. There are some really great people here in Tainan, and I'm loving the chance to work with them.

Not sure what else to report on. Hm. I got to go on exchanges with Elder Dong this week. He's the district leader and he's in my old area of the Tainan 3rd ward. It was fun; I got to go see some old investigators and I got to visit my recent convert and good friend (name). They're trying to slowly convert his wife, because the other three in the family are all baptized. She's super fierce, though. Yells a lot. But she's got a good heart, so I think with time she will come around.

It rained a ton this last week. My goodness. Thursday it rained all day long without ceasing, and all the investigators who set up to meet with us released our pigeons (it's a Chinese expression that means stood us up; didn't come to their appointment). However, Heavenly Father answered our prayers. It was really cold and rainy after lunch and we prayed that either the rain would stop or we'd be strengthened to be able to work anyway. Shortly after our prayer, we felt that the rain was a little warmer and just a bit lighter.

I'm afraid that's all I can think to say about this week. Sorry this letter's a little shorter. I want you to know I love you all so much, and I pray for you. Have fun and good luck in this week's day-to-day.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Hello again

Hi there, everyone! Our week was great as well, but as usual super busy.

I learned something funny last week: it's apparently very bad luck to give someone a clock as a gift. You never ever do that. It apparently sounds like a curse that you want the person to die. I don't quite get it, but some people take it very seriously. Seems a missionary once gave one of our investigators a clock because he said he had trouble getting up on time for church. He told us he was seriously weirded out by it.

By the way, I'm jealous of the fuji apples. Good fujis are really expensive here. Then again, I won't complain, because where in America can you find guavas or mangoes?

This week we had a meeting with Elder Gerritt Gong of the Seventy. It was a really great meeting, and he emphasized that all of us need to learn the first vision and the invitation for baptism word for word as it is written in Preach My Gospel so that we can tell them to investigators with power and feeling. "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one holding priesthood authority from God?" I also learned a lot about leadership, because he held a Q&A session at the end and one Elder asked exactly the question I wanted to ask--what makes a good leader, or what are some attributes I can develop in myself to be a more inspiring leader? Elder Gong didn't even say this, but the Holy Ghost brought to my mind President Monson. Have you ever heard anybody say they don't like President Monson? No. People will follow him to the ends of the earth for two reasons: one, they feel that he truly, completely, and honestly loves them, and two, because they trust him and believe that his counsel is inspired of God. So I really pondered that a lot and thought about how I can emulate him in any way.

This week we saw some miracles (there I said it again...) in finding. I went on exchanges twice in a row, both times bringing the junior companion to our area. It was an adventure, because I didn't really know the area very well still. However, with both missionaries we contacted a person who turned out to be really awesome and very well prepared to hear the gospel. One is a 19-year-old kid. He came to church on Sunday and heard the law of chastity in his first Sunday School lesson. I was kinda worried that he wouldn't take it well, but after church he told us how great he thinks it is, and he said "I learned an important truth today. I agree with this law."

The other guy is about forty-something and unmarried. He told us in our first meeting that he met with us because he wants to know his purpose in life. He said usually he comes home from work and smokes and drinks and watches TV until it's time to go to sleep, then he wakes up, goes to work, and repeats day after day. He felt like it was pointless and self-destructive, and then we happened to talk to him and invite him to come unto Christ and he accepted. I remember that contact. I saw him standing outside 7-Eleven and the Spirit nudged me to talk to him. I kind of rode past him and the Spirit pressed again (still very gently, but distinctly), so I hit the brakes and turned around, getting to him just as he was starting up his scooter and getting ready to go. Elder Haag, the Elder I was exchanging with, came over with me and we taught this man about the restoration of the one and only true church on the earth.

He set up to meet, and on Saturday night we learned just how prepared he is to receive the gospel. We introduced the Book of Mormon, and before we even had time to say we would give him one, he said, "Can I buy one from you? I really want to read it." Few things put a smile on a missionary's face like teaching somebody who's that willing and desirous to draw near unto God. It makes a thousand rejections worth it. It makes me feel like Aaron teaching the Lamanite king in Alma 22, when the king says "What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God...Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy." That's the mark of an honestly repentant soul. He's willing to pay any price to be reconciled with God.

I think the biggest challenge of being a zone leader is that I feel a strong personal burden to help my zone members succeed. When numbers are sinking, faith is diminishing. I want to be a good leader and rekindle the fire of faith in those I serve. I'm just not sure I know how. However, I have faith that Heavenly Father will be with me and will inspire me. He always has in the past. He's pretty reliable that way. ;)

Well, I'm basically out of time now. I love telling miracle stories, though. Miracles, miracles, miracles. They really build my faith. I think I said the word about five times in this one email. :)

I love you all so much. I love this work so much. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing all of us in diverse ways. He lives, and His Son Jesus Christ lives. I know they appeared to a young boy named Joseph Smith in a grove of trees. I'll talk to you all again next week!

Love, Carter

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Which is a holiday they don't celebrate in Taiwan, but I hear you folks in America think it's big business. Just kidding. Well, here I am again at the start of yet another week. This week went by so darn fast, I almost can't believe it.

So, first off, I have some beautiful and exciting news: we have a Costco in our area here!!! It's a huge deal, I don't think you even know. It's famous all throughout Tainan, and people come from all over to shop there. As for me, I enjoyed a week of Costco muffin breakfasts, a gigantic carton of milk, and a ton of spaghetti for Sunday dinners. Not even to mention free samples and giant slices of Hawaiian pizza. It's funny; when you write about shopping at Costco, you use all the really big, heavy words in your vocabulary.

Anyway, on a little more serious note, being a zone leader is really hard. I knew it would be, but it's a lot of stress to have to think about not only our own area but also everyone in the zone. I'm constantly agonizing over members of our zone who it seems are not obedient to the rules, or who are trying hard but still have low numbers. I feel like I don't naturally have the characteristics of an effective leader, and I have to learn how to acquire those. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, because I'm not; I love this chance to serve, it's just that I guess I didn't realize before that it's hard work to lead a zone. I really desire my zone members to have success and it's my responsibility to help them do so.

This week I went over to GueiRen and did companion exchanges with one of our district leaders, who's also training. It was fun, and I learned a lot from this Elder. I also learned a bit more on how to lead. I suppose the Lord doesn't always call those who are already qualified to serve in a position, but often calls those who need more practice and training. I think that's the case with me.

This area has some really great investigators, though. The members are also great. This morning we went and did some service for a member named Brother (name) (no, he's not Taiwanese) and moved furniture for him. Yesterday we went to a barbecue with the (name) family--the husband's Filipino and the wife's Taiwanese--where we met several of Brother (name) Filipino friends and gave them copies of "Ang Aklat ni Mormon." Several of them have great potential, I think. Most of them are here working for three years, in which time they won't get to see their wives and children. That would be really tough. So we'll see if we can bring them the light of the gospel.

Elder Braby's a great Elder. He's very good at working with members--getting to know them, building relations with them, but not wasting the Lord's time doing so. He's also incredibly good at doing impressions of people, mostly other missionaries. It's pretty funny when he does his Elder Cocke. I also can't remember if I told you or not, but Elder Perry is in my zone. He's on his last move call now.

Well, I think that's about all I have to say this week. Tomorrow we will be attending a mission tour by Elder Gerritt Gong of the Seventy. That should be really good. I expect to learn a lot. I sure love you all, and I look forward to talking to you again next week. Till then,

Love you,

Monday, October 24, 2011

You’ll never guess where I am this week

So I'll just tell you. Yes, true to the guesses by all of you and by myself, I finally got kicked out of Tanzi. I was sad to go, but it had to happen. Elder Larson didn't want me to go, which I'll take as a compliment. :) And now I'm writing to you from...Tainan. Yep, I got sent back to nearly the exact same area as I was in before. Nearly eleven months ago I moved to the Tainan 3rd ward, and now I'm in the 4th ward. Same chapel. Same city. But now I'm a zone leader. Yeah, I got a call from President Bishop on Saturday night at about 10:00 and he asked me to lead the Tainan zone. My companion and fellow zone leader is Elder Steven Braby, who came on island the same time as I did.

I'm actually really excited to be back here and have the chance to see my recent converts, to serve my fellow missionaries, and so forth. I'm pretty nervous because I want to be a good leader and I'm not totally sure what I'm doing. But that's what scriptures and prayer and a companion are for, right? To answer your question, Dad, we don't find out who's moving until Saturday night (under usual circumstances) and then the move happens on Monday. I took the train from Taizhong to Tainan at 10:15 this morning. So yeah, that's the big news on this side of the pond.

So, I actually have several funny stories that all happened this week. The first was on Wednesday when Elder Larson and I were tracting some houses before English Class. We knocked on this door and we saw a guy down the hall take a look at us and then run back behind the wall (he was in a shirt and tighty-whiteys). He came back a few seconds later with pants on and ran to the door, and I could tell right away he was drunk as a skunk. He couldn't even focus his eyes on me. But he started yelling at us, insulting us, and basically acting like a guy trying to pick a bar fight. Finally we both decided to just leave, so we said we welcomed him to church and backed away while he yelled something about how Adam and Eve's kids couldn't have possibly had kids together. So there was him, little ball of sunshine.

Then on Friday we were heading to an appointment with the (name) family at night, and I saw two white people with a little stand of magazines on the corner and they said hello to me, so we turned around to talk to them. Just my luck, they weren't innocent magazine salespeople at all, but two Jehovah's Witnesses trying to rope the Filipinos into a "Bible study class." (-_-' ) I felt like Alma and Amulek contending with Zeezrom, because the guy kept asking us questions that he already knew the answer to, trying to cross us in our words. He'd be like "Hm. Ah. That's so interesting, because I just read this part in the Bible..." and pulled out his Watchtower Bible. But I know that God fulfilled his promise that we were not confounded before men. We were both given the words to say, and in the end we were able to just bear pure testimony and leave--if not friends, then at least not enemies. Don't worry, I don't go looking for bible bashes.

The last story is good and funny, not just a "poor Elder Durrant" story. We were teaching (name) and his Filipino grandpa, who is actually super interested in the Book of Mormon. We taught them the kingdoms of glory, telling them that the first kingdom was like the sun, and we're the most happy there, the second is like the moon, not as good as number one, and the third is like the stars, and the sinners go there. (name)was falling asleep because it was about 8:30, so Elder Larson said, "Hey, which kingdom do you want to go to?"
(name): "Number three."
Grandpa: "Number three? Why do you select number three? Why do you do that?"
(name): "I like the stars."
Grandpa: "You cannot select number three! You select number three, you go to hell!"
Elder Larson and I were laughing so hard. If you don't find it funny, have Dillon read it to you in a Filipino accent (sounds like India, more or less).

Anyway, those are my fun stories for the week. Our investigators are doing well. (name)'s grandpa was the surprise investigator who really has a lot of interest. He was so excited to get a Book of Mormon, and he read nine pages even though it's a little tough for him to read English. Elder Larson's going to give him a Tagalog copy. He also would have come to Stake Conference if (name) hadn't slept too late--they were going to ride their bikes there together. It's really cool to see that the Lord is preparing the hearts of the children of men. We may find them in the most unexpected of places, but if we're always looking, we'll find them.

Fun bit of trivia: I'm now in the same apartment Elder Bickmore was in when he was my zone leader. We've got a pretty nice little setup. We're in the An-nan District of Tainan City, which is a lot of countryside and stuff. Elder Braby is from Sandy. I'm pretty excited to be working with him. We'll just have to rely on the Lord to do all we can to help our missionaries hit their own goals. President Bishop is big on that--hitting your own goals.

Well, that letter was exceptionally long. You should be proud of me. I love you all so much, and I wish you well in the coming week. Talk to you next week!


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Weekly Report

Hello everybody! It's me again. Can you believe it's Monday AGAIN? Can you believe it's the last week of the move call AGAIN?

Well, it's the last week of the move call. I hate to say it, but I think it's my last one in Tanzi. I don't want to leave. But after such a long time in one area, it's pretty likely. I don't want to dwell on that, so I'm going to move on.
We've seen a lot of success this week by working with the Bishop. We asked him what he'd like us to do to strengthen the ward and he gave us a list of many 12-25 year old less-active young men who either need to advance in the priesthood or prepare to serve a mission. We've met with many of those people already, one of them came to sacrament meeting yesterday, and we've found two new investigators already. The mother and younger brother of one of the less active members are really desirous to learn more about the gospel, especially because the father of the family passed away only a few days before we went by to visit. The timing could only have been set up by God himself. We gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and she read the whole thing by our next visit. At that time she said she wants to completely get rid of all the idols in their house and start to believe in Jesus Christ. I could hardly believe my ears. Usually people are telling me that their ancestors have passed down these traditions for hundreds of years and they can't change now. I wish I could tell them that my ancestors had a tradition of showering once a year and using outhouses, but that doesn't mean I need to follow their tradition. But I don't think they'd take that the right way, so I don't say it. Anyway, she seems really great, and she really desires to follow Jesus Christ.

This week we've actually been really struggling to help our investigators progress. Those we have don't seem willing to be baptized anytime soon. We've really seen a lot of blessings this week in finding new investigators, but we're struggling to find people who will really progress. But then I received a tender mercy during Sunday's personal study. Feeling just a little down after having nobody at church, I read Alma 8. I didn't especially plan it; it was just the next chapter in my daily reading. But it was full of words of comfort and counsel from a loving Father to me. I read that when I am feeling "weighed down with sorrow," I must remember that I have "great cause to rejoice." The Lord is mindful of me and loves me completely. He counseled me to try "another way" (verse 18). So even though I am often disappointed by my mistakes, I can have a fullness of joy in knowing that I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do. The angel told Alma to lift up his head and rejoice, because he had been faithful in keeping the commandments of God. That message filled me with hope, and I too know that my Father loves me and is pleased with me even when things are a little rough.

Well, I'd better wrap up for the week. Who knows what surprises and wonders await us in the next week? We'll find out.

Love you all so much!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Double Ten Day!

Happy Double Ten Day to you. This holiday is very significant to the Taiwanese because, for one, two tens is apparently very lucky. For another, it's like the Fourth of July in America. This holiday is their national birthday. On October 10, 1911, the revolution began which eventually overthrew the Qing Dynasty and established the Republic of China. This is also their centennial celebration of that day. So there's a ton of people getting married today. To celebrate, the Elders in our district went out and did some barbecuing. It was delectable but expensive.

Just a quick explanation--last preparation day we had a zone activity in which we went to a theme park in Houli, which is north of Fengyuan. But only our district showed up. It was so cool, because rain threatened all morning, so almost nobody else came. There were no lines for anything at all. We rode the bumper cars for an hour and rode the roller coaster three times in a row. It was fun, but I'm worried my gut is growing weak from underuse. I got seriously nauseated after a couple of the rides. I hope it isn't true.

So this week was awesome, but it went really fast. Especially with ten hours of General Conference, which was amazing. I really gained a lot of personal revelation, especially regarding how to teach by the Spirit and how to teach people about the Book of Mormon.

We had many miracles this week. I'll just share one or two. Last week we met a man on the street and set an appointment to meet at his house. We went there at the appointed time and only his parents were there. His dad was extremely rude to me and said that his son (who's at least thirty) didn't want anything to do with Christians and turned us away. I'm not proud of it, but I'll admit I was kind of angry. As we were unlocking our bikes I heard a voice I recognized and I looked up to see a former investigator talking to Elder Larson. He was musing about how he always seems to run into us missionaries when he's feeling down and talking about how he wants to come to church, but he has to find new work first, because his current work won't let him. We talked to him, invited him for baptism, and set a time to meet with him. I was very humbled by this experience because it taught me yet again that the Lord is going to put us where He needs us when He needs us there. We didn't go to that house for the guy who set up with us. We went so we could be in this former investigator's path. I shouldn't have let my faith waver for even a second.

I feel great. I'm doing what I love to do. The language, with Heavenly Father's help, is coming more and more easily. People often comment on how I don't speak with a foreigner's accent and on how I can read and write quite a few characters. I don't say that to boast of myself, but to glory in God. The gift of tongues is real. I've pondered a few times what changes I hope you all, including my ward family, will notice in me when I get back. I hope I'm more charitable. I hope I'm more humble. I hope I have learned to set goals and work hard for those goals and not procrastinate. I hope I'll have learned a lot more of the basic and precious doctrines of our church than I ever knew before. So far, on each of these, I feel I've made great progress from who I was before my mission. I've still got a way to go, which is fine because I've still got time. I've got to make this time count.

We're still working with some of those investigators. Brother (name) is still trying to realize that he knows the Book of Mormon is true. The (name) boys think they're not ready for baptism and their mother agrees, so we're trying hard to help them work through that. Sometimes I feel like my weaknesses are too great for me to bear, but I have faith in the promise given in Ether 12:27 that my weaknesses will eventually become strengths. I don't know what else I could have done to help them get baptized before their parents go out of town this weekend. They'll be gone for several months.

Well, time to wrap up. I sure love you all so much. I love to read your emails and write you my own each week. Stay strong and have fun. I'll talk to you next week.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Conference Weekend!

Hello everybody! So good to hear from you all! Sorry this email is so late. We had a rockin' preparation day, so it's about 3:30 right now in Taiwan. I hope you all enjoyed conference. I want to enjoy it so badly! I can hardly wait for this Saturday.

Well, this week was really good, but also really hard. We struggled big time on our key indicators, even though we were working hard every day. That's a big lesson I've learned on my mission--there are going to be ups and downs even when you are being exactly obedient and as diligent as you know how to be. This came to me when I read the story of Abinadi. When he died, he may have thought that he failed and that nobody was converted, but Alma was, and he baptized 204 other people. Contrast that with Ammon, who baptized an entire kingdom of Lamanites. God isn't going to love Ammon more than Abinadi. Both performed the work they were called to perform. I know that the Lord loves us all, and He will not shield any one of us from pain or trial, even if we're being very good.

Brother (name), the bishop's wife's friend from work, is doing really well. He told us that he's had experiences with prayer, scripture study, and church attendance that made him feel he was receiving revelation. I feel we will be able to help him be baptized, mainly because of all the support and encouragement from his member friend. She shares scriptures and experiences with him at work. I really feel that once a person refers a friend to the missionaries and sees the person progress, that member then gets excited about the gospel and the friend's progress. I hope each of you will think hard about which friends you have who you could invite to church or to a youth activity. I know we all have nonmember friends.

Well, time's almost up. I love you all so much and I'll talk to you again next week!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekly Howdy-do

Well, this week was a little less eventful than usual. Not because we weren't working. Just because a lot of our investigators have had some situation or another prevent them from meeting with us this week. On Tuesday I did get to attend a leadership training meeting, which was really awesome. The topic was on establishing the church, and there were several smaller training segments on how we can do that. We learned how to find families to teach, how to obtain member referrals, how to rescue less-actives, and a couple other things. It was really great, and I learned a lot of things I could start doing immediately to improve my proselyting. President Bishop has made a couple of big changes in the last couple weeks, all of which are geared toward helping us focus more on our purpose and on being consecrated missionaries. For instance, he basically got rid of the Taichung Mission Rules because he wants us to govern ourselves based on the principles in the Missionary Handbook. He's turning the mission more toward really establishing the church, helping it become a strong and permanent thing here in Taiwan. He's gearing us to seek more referrals from members rather than spending all day every day contacting. I really like what he's doing. I know he's an inspired servant of the Lord and that the changes he's making will help strengthen the church and the members in Taiwan.

Elder Larson and I have actually had some troubles finding new investigators this week, so we've been working hard in that area. We spent one day this last week in a secondary area of ours, called ShenGang. I really didn't get lost (you'd be proud of me, Dad, not to mention that all the road signs were in Chinese), but we couldn't find a place to eat dinner when 5:30 rolled around. It was kind of ridiculous...I thought we were going to have to resort to buying cupcakes from the convenience store, but we finally found a noodle place. Speaking of convenience stores, there are 7-eleven stores all around Taiwan. There's also another chain called FamilyMart. Do they have those in America? I don't remember ever seeing them before.

So I ate a new food this week. Bamboo. I bet you didn't know anything besides pandas could eat bamboo, huh? But humans can too. Actually, I think what it was was the root of a bamboo sprout. It was actually really tasty--kinda juicy and potato-like. Elder Larson is actually really good about trying new kinds of food, and he got used to the food really fast. But he absolutely refuses to do stinky tofu. Every time we smell it on the road he yells in pain and cries for mercy. I keep warning him that if a member serves it to us we're both going to eat it and like it. He's a really funny guy and a hard-working Elder. I really enjoy serving with him.

Are you all excited for conference? We sure are. And you get to watch it a week before we do. Elder Larson is so excited for conference that he steals all the past conference issues of the Liahona and reads them.

Well, that's about it from me this week. I sure love you all! Talk to you next week.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hey Everyone!

Well, this week was very eventful. Brother (name) was baptized and confirmed this weekend. He has to be one of the most well-prepared new members I've ever had the privilege of working with. He shared a wonderful testimony after his baptism, saying that he'd been searching for the answer to a question and never found the answer until he came into our English class and talked to us. Then on Sunday during priesthood he was actively participating in the discussion, even quoting from memory a scripture in 3 Nephi. Elder Larson and I agree that the key to his rapid and smooth progression was his willingness to read the scriptures. He felt the power of the Book of Mormon, he knew it was true, and as a result he knew that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I am so happy to have had this chance to help Brother (name) be baptized. I know he will be a great member and that he will progress toward receiving temple covenants. That's the other great thing about him--he's so excited to go to the temple. He read the temples Liahona from cover to cover and members keep encouraging him to prepare to attend the temple when it opens back up. I truly love that man; he was a tender mercy of the Lord.

We had another big disappointment with a couple of investigators, though. The (name) brothers (the family who attended the English branch) were unable to have their baptismal interviews because the youngest one, (name), had a sudden health problem and they had to take him to the hospital. I believe he will be all right, but they just wanted to make sure everything was ok. We'll need a miracle, for sure, because Brother (name) leaves for China sometime this week. We haven't given up. It's just going to take a lot of help from the Lord if this is going to work out. We'll pray and work our hardest and trust that everything will work out according to the will of the Lord.

Today we're going to go barbecuing with the Elders in Fengyuan. I'm really excited because I'm super hungry. I'm afraid I don't have much else to say this week, except that I love being a missionary. I know that this church is true. We had a sad experience this week of trying to teach a less active who still believes the church is true but wants something more, so he's dabbling in mischief like the Church of Scientology and junk like that. He's even endowed. I know that this church is true and that there is nothing else that will bring happiness to us. I love you all so much. I'll talk to you next week.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Yes, it's the Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival today. We've been eating lots of barbecue and moon cakes. And the move call came in! Drumroll.....I'm in...Tanzi still!! Woooo! There were 25 new missionaries flooding the mission this transfer. New missionaries come in on the Wednesday night before move call, and they get working with their trainers on that Friday. Hardly anyone left this move call, so we just opened lots of new areas. Nice little surge of youth in the mission. Next move call is almost as many--I think it's about 20.

Yeah, I've been in Tanzi a long long time. But I'm not complaining. I'm excited I get just one more transfer here. The Lord has really been helping us help our area to grow, and we're seeing so much success lately.

We're seeing a lot of miracles with our investigators. (name) is well prepared to be baptized this Saturday, and the members love him already. He's also really excited to prepare for the temple, because we gave him the temples issue of the Liahona to read. I'm just amazed at this man and what he has done to prepare for baptism. He encountered obstacles that would cause other investigators to just drop out, but he has conquered every one. He changed his Sunday work schedule and gave up coffee on the spot. It's been a real blessing to get to teach him these few weeks.

We've also been blessed by the Lord to find the (name) Family. I think I mentioned them in last week's letter, but they're a part member family and their two sons are not yet baptized. The older son has set a goal for baptism and I think we can help the younger son be baptized at the same time. Heavenly Father really guided us through the Spirit to know when to go find this family, because they're ready now. Elder Larson is also a perfect companion to have, because the two kids love him. I love this family so much, and I thank my Father in Heaven for the chance to help them complete their family and prepare for a temple sealing.

Funny story about that family: the assistants were kind of trying to steal them from us because they went to the English branch, but President Bishop told them we get to teach and baptize the kids. ;) Elder Larson was getting all into it, like a battle between us and the assistants. I told him that was probably not the attitude we should have. But I'm really happy we won, because those kids are just awesome.

You know, I just love Taiwanese people. This Lunar Festival is a big day for barbecuing with your whole family, and at nearly every barbecue we rode by (all of them are out front of their houses, mind you--no back yards in Taiwan) people invited us to sit down and eat with them. We didn't, of course, but I just love how hospitable the Taiwanese are.

I sure love all of you. Sorry this week's email is a little shorter, but look forward to a baptismal picture next week!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Almost-Mid-Autumn Festival!

The good news this week is that we have an investigator who has committed to being baptized next Saturday. Brother (name) has progressed, to put it like Elder Larson, "like a wildfire." He's always thinking deeply about the scriptures and about the commandments we share with him. He read the entire conference Liahona and shared some thoughts about President Uchtdorf's talk "On the Road to Damascus." I truly believe that the reason for his rapid progression is rooted in his study of the Book of Mormon. He did what it took to feel the power of that Book, and like the sheep spoken of in Alma 5, he heard the voice of his Shepherd and answered the call. He's been making friends with lots of ward members and he's overcome obstacles with coffee and the Sabbath day, but now he's progressing really well toward his baptismal goal. It's such a privilege to be meeting with him and helping him progress toward baptism.

We also saw some more miracles this week in finding. Last Sunday we visited a part-member family because the Spirit prompted us to. When we arrived we found out they'd just gotten home from China the day before, and the husband told us to come back in a few days. We came back on Thursday and met with them--they're great. The parents both have strong faith in Christ and still pay their tithing. They want to go to the temple but they feel they have no way to be active. We met with them and their two unbaptized sons and encouraged them to attend the English branch (because the mom is Filipino), and they attended. I know that it is because of the Spirit that we were able to contact this wonderful family at exactly the right time. I hadn't thought about them in months because I knew they were in China, but when our plans fell through one night I just had a thought to go try their house and there they were.

I'm sorry; I seem to be short on time this week. I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you again next week. From where? Nobody knows yet.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dear Family

We've been seeing some real miracles this week. We have some really great investigators. One of them is Brother (name), who currently has a week C goal. He's just been a really incredible investigator from the start, and he already feels strongly that Joseph Smith is a prophet "Because of this book," he says, holding the Book of Mormon. He likes to share parts with us that have real meaning to him. He's already quit his dependence on coffee and in his prayer he thanked God for helping him be free of that which was controlling him. We've also been meeting with a man named Brother R. The amazing thing about him is that in our first meeting, we sat down and he immediately told us he had a problem with drugs and he wanted Jesus' help to overcome his addiction. It just blew me away that he was willing to trust two foreigners he'd never met before with such knowledge. I know it was the Spirit testifying to him that we are servants of God and the message we bring is the one he needs to be free from addiction.

This week we experienced a heart-wrenching disappointment, though. (name) told us he didn't want to get baptized because he's been meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses and they won't let him go to their church if he's baptized. We tried everything I could think of, we met with him several times, we warned him of the consequences of postponing baptism, but he didn't listen to anything we said. It was terribly disappointing because I really love him and I desire his salvation, but we had to come to grips with the fact that he has his agency. We'll continue to try and win him back.

The best news from this week, though, is the baptism of (name). I was so pleased to see him enter into this covenant with his Heavenly Father. The best part for me was his testimony after his baptism. He really does get what baptism is, and he felt the forgiveness of his Father in Heaven. He also said he and his girlfriend already got married, so I suppose this week's baptism counted as completing a part-member family! I'm so excited for them, and I hope things work out so that a year from now I can see them sealed together in the temple. I can tell he's going to be a great member. There really is nothing quite like having a baptism. It makes all the hard work for the last few weeks or months, all the rejections and disappointments, worth it. They're going to raise a righteous posterity in the gospel.

Well, that's about all. We've got a massive typhoon coming at us this week. In fact, it may be upon us even as I write these words. We'll be fine; we've got the prayers of the whole church behind us. Anyway, I love you all so much! I'll talk to you again next week. Until then, keep being awesome and faithful. I love you all so much!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hi There

Hey everyone! This week has gone by so quickly. It's hard to believe.

My favorite thing about Taiwan...boy, that's a tough question. I like everything. I love the people, from the motorcycle-riding teenagers who yell HELLOOO to us as they scream by to the hunchbacked old women (amahs) who go around collecting recyclables from trash cans so they can get some money at the recycling center. I love the food (especially the shaved ice). I love the language. I even love the weather, even though I come home at night drenched in sweat or rain. Every day. I love it. Most of all, I love the gospel and the power it has to change people's lives. I love seeing gatherings of Taiwanese saints, the Taiwan Taibei Temple, and everything else that reminds me that the Lord has set His hand to gather scattered Israel. His elect hear His voice and they follow Him.

The biggest miracle this week is that we have two investigators who have committed themselves to baptism this Saturday: (name) and (name). Both passed their baptismal interviews this past weekend and came to church yesterday. I'm so excited for both of these men; they've both come such a long way since I first met them. I think the best part of yesterday, though, was when a member invited us to a lunch appointment at the church. At first they didn't tell us what it was. Then we got there and it was a birthday party for a couple of sisters in the ward. But then there was a twist; Brother (name) surprised his girlfriend (an active member of the ward) by proposing to her. I can't even really describe how happy it made me to see that. This truly is the whole reason we do missionary work--those two are about to start a whole new life. In the past three months, the sister missionaries got Sister (name) reactivated, she brought her boyfriend to church, and over a period of time he decided to be baptized. This Saturday he'll become a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the next couple weeks, they'll be married. Then I hope to see them sealed for time and all eternity in the holy temple of God one year after his baptism. We're helping people open the doors to the Celestial Kingdom and eternal exaltation. I'm just so happy right now, I can't even describe it.

The Lord is also continuing to pour out blessings on us. We have lots of other investigators who are progressing very well toward baptism. I truly believe the Lord was teaching me a lesson in humility during my time in Tanzi. For the first several months we had only one baptism. Now, in a sudden burst of miracles, we've got many wonderful investigators to work with. I know that our Heavenly Father loves each of us, and He has power to do His work.

I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day in My Neighborhood

We have had more miracles this week than I think I deserve. The Lord opened the windows of heaven on us. One of those miracles was that six investigators came to church, and a seventh came after sacrament meeting. It was truly miraculous because yesterday was a big bai-bai holiday (see below, when I talk about Ghost Month) and these people still came to church. One of them was an investigator from a month ago who just came of his own accord. I am truly humbled and overjoyed that the Lord worked this miracle. Two of these people now have week B goals, and several of the others can probably set week C goals when we meet with them later in the week.

Brother (name) is one of those week B investigators. He's really changed and he's developed a testimony of the truth. On Saturday we were going to teach him the law of chastity--something we were really worried about--but it turned out that he hadn't really read the Book of Mormon, so we read about the gospel of Christ instead, and the next day after church he said he was willing to be baptized on the 27th. The law of chastity also turned out to be no problem, because he's planning on proposing to his girlfriend (a member) next Sunday. I love this man, and he really desires the chance to build an eternal family through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The other person with a week B goal is (name), who has recently started to progress and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. When Elder Harris was with us on exchanges he invited (name) to be baptized on September 3, which he accepted, but this week we invited him to be baptized earlier and he is willing to do so. He has really changed a lot as well. I want to really make sure that he has member friends, though, and I'm a little worried about that. He has a sort of eccentric personality and not a lot of members will really go up and talk to him. We worked things out during correlation, though, so the main focus this week will be to make certain that he is ready to pass a baptismal interview and endure to the end.

We've had many other wonderful blessings, including a guy who has been coming to church with his girlfriend who suddenly just told her he wanted to start meeting with us. We met on Sunday and he seems really willing to seek the truth. He's currently unsure about a quick baptism, so he set a week E goal, but I feel as we continue to meet and he keeps commitments we'll be able to help him be baptized sooner. He is really a good brother, and I look forward to working with him. We also have a family who came to English class for the last two weeks, and the dad came to church on Sunday. I'm really excited for this family because the dad told us his father and grandfather were Christian and he wants him and his family to get back in touch with their roots and make new friends at church. I just gotta say, when I think of how badly I want to baptize this family, my gut hurts. They are an incredibly cute, nice family. He has a twelve-year-old son (*cough*DEACON*cough*) and a nine-year-old daughter. I don't want to be the least bit prideful or anything, I just want this family to be able to be together forever in the Celestial Kingdom of God.

Finally, something of a more personal miracle--one of my recent converts from Tainan, (name), wrote me to tell me his daughter got baptized. Now if the mom will get baptized they can set a goal to be sealed in the temple. This is what missionary work is all about. Seeing and feeling the joy of all these people, helping them prepare for eternal life...I'm so happy right now. I, like Ammon, just feel like boasting of my God, because He's truly been showing forth his almighty arm. I love Brother (name) so much. He's one of the most humble people I've ever met in my life, and to tell you the truth I'm surprised his daughter got baptized. I only ever taught her once, and the whole time she was stifling laughs and rolling her eyes (she's like 23 or something). That made me so happy to hear that news, because if there was ever a family I'd be willing to fly back to Taiwan to see them sealed in the temple, it's this Chen family.

Quick culture bit, this month is the Ghost Month on the lunar calendar. People sacrifice a lot of food to the ghosts. I'm out of time!

Love you all!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Father’s Day!

And also happy Ghost Month to you all! This week we're a little later than usual emailing because the (name) Family treated us out to the Taichung Steak House (that all-you-can-eat steak emporium where we went for Christmas). They are just way too nice to us. All the members are just way too nice to us.

Elder Larson's doing really well. He has a great enthusiasm for the work and he loves being in Taiwan. He played football for Timpview High School (I don't know if I said that last week). His language skills are still not the very best, but he takes it with a smile and focuses on the needs of our investigators. I love serving with him, and I can tell we're going to see miracles in the next five weeks. I won't lie, though, it makes me a little bit nervous to be a trainer. I know that I have to be a good example because I'm setting the tone for the rest of his mission.

I've been realizing more and more that in Tanzi the secret to success is the members. I was told by President Bishop when I first moved in that the ward here in Tanzi is one of the strongest in the mission, and experience only confirmed this statement. We've been seeing great success when we work through the members. I'm convinced that missionaries cannot do this work without the help of members. All the stuff you hear in primary or young men's or women's or wherever about how you can be a missionary now--it's true! The Lord is preparing people around you to hear the gospel, and we missionaries need you to invite them. This week we've seen a real miracle in Brother (name). His girlfriend is a member, and we met with him for the first time in about four months on Saturday after a baptismal service, and he's really changed a lot. He eagerly accepted a baptismal goal of August 27 and attended church for all three hours the next day. He also asks us really good questions and I can tell he's truly seeking the truth. It's truly a blessing from the Lord to get to work with him, and we're going to do everything in our power to help him hit this goal.

Some of our other investigators have run into some trials and problems, but I have faith that the Spirit can help us help these dear brothers overcome these trials and be converted to Jesus Christ.
I know that this work is God's work. I know that He is guiding us and that His angels are round about us to bear us up. There is nothing that can stop the kingdom of God from being established, for it is His hand that guides this work.

I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Greetings from…drumroll…

...still Tanzi!!! Yay! Fooled you, did I? Nope, I didn't move again.

Well, the biggest change that happened this week is that I got a call from President Bishop on Wednesday night. How often has that signaled a big change in my mission/life? Many times. He called to tell me he would like me to train a new missionary in the upcoming move call and that I should be at the mission home at nine o'clock Friday morning. So on Friday I went down there, Elder Zhou got on a train home, and I got some training on how to be a trainer. Then I met my new companion, Elder Larson! He's from Provo, UT. He's excited to be in Taiwan preaching the gospel, and I'm excited to have him here as well. Funny coincidence--he knew Elder Steven Lew at the MTC. Elder Lew was his Zone Leader there. It's a little nerve wracking to be a trainer, since every little thing I do is going to set the tone for the rest of his mission, but I'm just going to trust that the Lord knew what He was doing calling me, and that He'll give me direction to fulfill this assignment. Pray for me. :)

We saw a pretty great miracle this week. On Saturday we attended a ward activity focused on helping investigators and new members make friends with ward members, and we had a great turnout of investigators. They all seemed to really enjoy themselves. The best thing was when an investigator named Brother (name) came over and talked to me. He's the boyfriend of a recently reactivated sister, and for a couple months he's been coming to church every week, but also made it a point to avoid talking to us. On Saturday he said he wants to start meeting with us and taking the missionary lessons. It was unexpected, but I was definitely pleased. Some other ward members who really like him also started cheering and hugging him when he said that. We're continuing to see great miracles as we work in harmony with our ward members. In fact, I really think that we can't do this work without members. We need them to be proactive with sharing the gospel, helping us bear testimony of gospel truths, friendshipping investigators and new members...etc. I really love our Tanzi members, and I think I am going to see more success than ever before if I can learn how to help them reach their potential.

Well, I sure love all of you! Stay safe and happy and faithful!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Hello Again!

This week was really great. Brother (name) is doing really well. He's just about quit smoking, and he knows it's through the power of God he was able to do so in so short a time. He started smoking in middle school, and in the space of about a week and a half he was able to quit. When he was telling us about it the other day he started tearing up and he said he'd already thanked his Father in Heaven for giving him the strength to quit. This man is amazing, and he has such a desire to be baptized. I'm just blown away by the change that was wrought by the touch of the master's hand...I the Book of Mormon. Well, both. He's ready to be baptized on August 13 (he still needs to come to church a few more times).

We also found a pretty cool new investigator who is friends with a less active recent convert. Or should I say, Elder Zhou found him. He just started talking to this kid while I was making a call and it turns out he really wants to learn more and he came to church on Sunday. This week truly has been full of miracles...but I'm out of time! Resizing pictures takes a couple minutes.

Sorry the email is shorter. I love you all so much and I'll talk to you again next week--the first week of my tenth move call.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ahoy Thar!

Anyway, this week was really great. We really saw many abundant miracles from the Lord.

The biggest and most exciting of these miracles is Brother Wei. He's the friend of an active family, the Peng family. Brother Peng referred him to us before I even got here, and I met with him my first week in Tanzi. Over the course of a few meetings it seemed he just didn't have interest. He didn't desire to know whether what we taught was true. In the last week, we've seen a complete transformation. I don't even know where it came from, but about a week ago we met again as we happened to ride by and see him at Brother Peng's shop. We taught him that to develop faith he had to give it a try living the commandments, such as reading and praying, and see what the results are. He agreed to give it a shot. This Wednesday and Thursday we met again, and on Thursday he had not only read 2 Nephi 31 as we'd asked, but he'd marked it up, written notes, and told us how he felt it was directly applicable to his current situation. We asked if he'd be willing to be baptized and he said, "Of course!" That stunned me for a couple seconds, and when we recovered we helped him set a goal to be baptized.

Then on Saturday was another huge miracle. Elder Cocke (one of the Assistants to the President) was with us on exchanges and we taught Brother Wei the word of wisdom. He has a big smoking problem, but when we taught him that in order to be baptized and be in harmony with God's will he had to quit, he was willing. We asked him when he wanted to quit and Brother Peng's son (a deacon) piped up and said "Tomorrow!" in English. Brother Wei truly exercised his faith and agreed to quit smoking immediately. He says he wants to be baptized "The faster the better." Yesterday we talked to him and he said he did slip just a little and smoked two cigarettes that day, but that's a huge improvement from his one pack per day. I'm just in awe over the faith of this man, and he has a true and strong desire to be baptized on August 6.

I know why this all happened, and it's not because of anything we did. It's because Brother Wei was willing to read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon. He felt the Spirit testify to his soul that it is the word of God, and he had an immediate desire to do what Nephi directs by being baptized and enduring to the end. I am so grateful to our God for giving us this amazing book and His Holy Spirit, which together change hearts and lives. I know that anyone who is willing to do what Brother Wei did and humbly try planting the seed in their hearts will without a doubt come to feel that this is indeed the true gospel and church of Jesus Christ and have a desire to follow Him.

Well, now that I'm done with that long story you probably want to take a nap from the eye strain. That was the highlight of the week, really--seeing the complete change of heart in Brother Wei.

I love you all so much! Talk to you again next week!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Temple Day

Hello everybody! Boy oh boy, what a week it's been! I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

It's such a refreshing feeling to go to the temple, especially after a long time of not going. I suppose it's a little different as a missionary, but no matter who you are, attending the temple will refresh your soul.

So I have a really interesting story to tell this week. I'll start by saying that my companion's name is no longer Elder Chen. He's now Elder Zhou (sounds like Joe). He's no longer from YuanLin, but from Xi-Hu. No, he didn't get an identity change. Last Wednesday I got a call from one of the assistants to the President, and he asked to talk to my companion. After a twenty minute series of phone calls my companion came over to tell me that he had to return home that night. His parents, you see, did not know he was going to be a missionary. His dad filed a missing child report with the police and a detective had called the mission office thinking Elder Cocke (the assistant) had kidnapped my companion. He had to take him home and fill out some papers at the police station. I, meanwhile, had to go spend two nights with the Elders in Dakeng, the next area south of me.

We finally found a kid in the ward over there who was willing to be my companion for the weekend until the replacement could come, so I got to proselyte in Tanzi some more. Then on Monday the guy who was going to come be my companion kind of just decided he didn't want to come after all, so I had to go spend a night in Fengyuan (the area north of me--the other area in my district) while the assistants frantically searched for another replacement. Then on Tuesday morning Elder Zhou came up, and he plans to be here until the end of the move call.

What a crazy crazy week! But it's been an experience to remember, and I really feel like I've grown a lot in these weeks. The thing is, and I'll be honest with you all, it's not easy having a short term. All three of the short terms I've had have been awesome and have been able to teach me things and help our investigators progress. And yet they're not full time missionaries; they haven't had the training and experience most missionaries have had. I sort of have to make tough decisions all on my own. This has forced me to rely heavily on the Lord, even more than in the past. I feel like one thing the Lord is trying to do to me is make me less indecisive and force me to take the lead. That's certainly been one result of having this crazy situation with my companions. When I can't really discuss something with a companion, I always have my Father in Heaven who can guide me through the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Anyway, now that I've got my long-windedness off my chest, our investigators are doing well (few as they are). I really feel like we're about to see a few new investigators progress, so I'm really excited to see how that goes. (name), the one who was too unmotivated to eat, has started to feel the beginnings of a testimony. The main reason? He has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying every day. It's just that simple: the Book of Mormon has the power to change lives and soften hearts if we are just willing to humbly read it every day.

That's about all I have time for this week. I sure love you all! I'll send pictures from the temple trip next week. Did you get the big mission picture last week?

Love you all!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hay There!

Hello again everyone! How is everyone doing this week?

Anyway, yeah, Elder Chen is going to serve as a short term missionary for four weeks; he goes home on July 16th because he has to submit some stuff for college. He's really an amazing missionary. He's diligent, he has a strong testimony of the gospel, and he has a way of just putting investigators a little more at ease and letting them know that believing in Christ is not only possible, but worth it. The only thing he ever complains about is that Tanzi doesn't have a Subway. He says he's never gone so long without eating Subway. ;)

Well, it's been a good week of proselyting. That guy who was too unmotivated to eat food, (name), has actually started to progress a little because of Elder Chen. We went to visit him and Elder Chen just bore a simple and pure testimony of prayer and we helped him, through studying the scriptures, understand that God is not just waiting to punish us, but rather is anxious to bless us and sends prophets to warn us of the natural consequences of sin. Something finally clicked. He didn't even complain when we asked to kneel and pray at the end of the lesson. It truly was a miracle, and I know it's because we used the Book of Mormon and helped him learn the truth straight from its pages.

(name) was finally...FINALLY confirmed. You have no idea how stressful it was to have a baptized but uncomfirmed investigator for a whole month. Our mission calls those "sandbaggers" because Joseph Smith said that baptism of water without baptism of the Holy Ghost is useless, and a man might as well be baptized in sandbags. But he was confirmed on Sunday. Now I just need to do my best to help him endure to the end, since I'm pretty much guaranteed to be here until mid-September at least. Plenty of time to help him stay on the right path. I hope.

It's been raining a lot lately. Actually, in the time it took me to write this email, it went from sunny 80s degree weather to a downpour. -_- But that's fine, because it's mango season, baby! I'm salivating just thinking about fresh mangoes. And thinking about two weeks from now when we're going to go barbecue with the Elders in FengYuan.

That's about all I have this week. I love you all so much and I look forward to hearing from you again next week.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

No, I didn't forget! It's just that in Taiwan, Father's Day is August 8, so they aren't selling Father's Day cards right now.

It's good to hear from you all again! Here we are at the start of a new move call. I'm still in Tanzi, and I have a new companion! More on that later.

I'm having the time of my life, even though it's super hard work. It's tough because I often feel like I'm just twenty years old and I'm supposed to be in charge of the eternal welfare of 98,000 souls. And yet, I don't feel overwhelmed, because I know it's not me guiding this work, but it's the Lord. I feel I'm growing closer to Him than I ever have before in my life. This is a priceless experience.

As I mentioned, Elder Mohr moved way down south to Gaoxiong today, and my new companion is Elder Chen from Yuan-Lin. He's Taiwanese (of course) and he's actually not a set-apart missionary. He's a short-term missionary out here for six weeks. Our mission will ask members to do that from time to time when we don't have enough missionaries to fill all the areas. He's actually only been a member for seven months, but he's really awesome; his desire to share the gospel is really strong. He's seventeen, turning eighteen July 9th. I'm really excited to serve with him--it'll be a really different experience, since he's never been to the MTC or anything, but I think it'll be a great opportunity.

Well, things have been going pretty well for us here in Tanzi. We're working with a man named Brother (name)whose wife and daughter are both members. He's probably older than Dad, because his daughter's grown and married. He's just a really nice man and I believe we can get him baptized, it's just that he is a little hesitant to make that decision so quickly. This is not a concern that the Holy Spirit can't solve, though. Have I said it enough times? I love being led by the Spirit. I love the fact that I'm doing the Lord's work and that He's guiding me to know how He wants it done. Brother Xie is so nice and humble. He's read all the way to Jacob already, which is quite impressive. More news on him will be forthcoming.

I don't really know what else to say. Things are kind of slow right now with investigators, but I really think that as we work hard we'll see things pick up. I'm pretty excited to work with Elder Chen, but at the same time it's a big responsibility.

Well, I'd better go. I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!


Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13, 2011

Dear everybody,

Hello again at the end of another week!

It's not for sure yet, but I'm almost positive one of us will be moving next week, because I've been with Elder Mohr for over three months, and three months is normally the longest someone will stay with a companion. Yes, some Elders get REALLY into "move call madness," making brackets and all this really over-the-top stuff. It's kind of funny to hear what people guess, but it does no real good to try and guess. Yet I sometimes try guessing anyway. :) I'm probably staying in Tanzi, but nothing's for sure. The steak was really not that expensive. Taiwan usually imports beef from Australia or New Zealand. Probably about 7 USD a person with the all-you-can-eat salad bar, but compared to a normal meal that was pretty pricey. It was fun, though. Elder Mohr enjoyed it.

Well, things have been going pretty well this week. That guy I told you about who was so unmotivated to do anything is still the same. He just will not do the things that he must do to receive conversion, so we may have to stop meeting with him so often. In one of our lessons we asked him what his direction was in life and he said he didn't know and started sobbing out loud and cried for like an hour. We were reading scriptures, singing hymns (all while he sobbed with his head on the table), trying to help him have a really spiritual experience, and when he finally picked his head up and wiped his face, he was exactly the same. If that was a spiritual outpouring he felt, he sure didn't show that it changed him in the slightest. Sad stuff when people choose to be that way.

This morning we had a zone activity where we all went biking up into the mountains of Dakeng scenic area. That was kind of fun, but because of some miscommunications and other hardships we didn't get to go hiking as we'd planned, but the bike ride was pretty beautiful. If I have time I'll include pictures. President Bishop actually came up with us. He's pretty fit for his age--he was out-biking some of the Elders even on the 90-degree (not temperature) uphill parts. Okay, not 90 degrees. But it sure felt like that.

Then this afternoon the other Elders in our district came to our area and had lunch with us and we basically just kind of had a fun afternoon talking and playing hearts at the church. Speaking of lunch, do they sell four-patty Big Macs in America? Because I may or may not have eaten one today. Does that make you lose respect for me? If it makes you feel better, I got a "free" Coke-can shaped glass for my feat of gluttony. And Taiwanese people make fun of us for eating McDonalds... find me a place in America where you can get a four-patty Big Mac delivered to your door. :)

Well, that's about all I have this week. We're running low on progressing investigators right now, so you'll have to wait till next week to hear about those. I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you again real soon!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy Dragon Boat Festival!

Yes, it's the magical holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival this week. I'm not really clear on the customs of this holiday, but it involves...dragons...and boats... and rice balls? Anyway, it's pretty cool, even though it meant lots of our recent converts and investigators didn't come to church. It's good to hear from you all! I'm doing well here in Tanzi. And it's Elder Mohr's birthday tomorrow, so I'm treating us to a steak after we email.

Well, this week went by really quickly, but it was a lot of fun. We went on exchanges with Elder Wong, one of the assistants to the President. I learned a lot on that exchange, especially on how I can use charity and love to reach the hearts of those I teach. When he contacts people, he's not loud or overbearing, just very genuine and loving, and people want to meet with him as a result.

Our good old (name) has now been to church three times and still doesn't want to pray when we ask him to. He's just super unmotivated. He says sometimes he can't even gather the motivation to get up and get something to eat when he's hungry...much less to kneel down in his bedroom and call upon God. He really is seeking the truth and light and purpose the gospel can bring, but he doesn't seem to realize it's all right here. He hasn't gotten an answer about the Book of Mormon because he's not praying with real intent. We tell him he has to commit to God that he'll act according to the answer he receives, and he keeps saying he can't commit to that because he hasn't gotten an answer yet. I think we can help him, we just have to work on that desire problem.

Well, I'm down to three minutes. I don't really have any weird food stories anymore, because I'm more or less accustomed to it all. When I eat octupus at a restaurant I don't even think about telling you about it. They do have these tasty little spice buns that come frozen and you microwave them. They're like steamed bread with meat inside.

Ok, I gotta go. I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Hi there, my family!

Hello from Taiwan...again! As I predicted, this last week went crazily fast. It's great to hear from you all again and tell you how things have been going here in Tanzi.

I was wondering if you've been having a cold spring, because all the pictures in the conference Liahona were snowy and cloudy. Speaking of the conference Liahona, that was the most breathtaking cover to a Liahona/Ensign I've ever seen. And I also saw three people I knew inside. All from our ward. Maybe you already know, but if you don't, see if you can "I spy" Elder and Sister Caldwell and Elder Eythan Barney on the inside. That was kind of fun.

Before I forget, you asked me to just tell you if I need anything. This isn't a need, per se, but the next time you happen to send something my way I'd love more music. Especially a greater variety of Mormon Tabernacle Choir and possibly some EFY music if you have any. Like I said, not a big deal, but it'd be nice to have. :)

This week we had the great privilege of having a mission conference on Friday with Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy as the main speaker. It was a really awesome conference, and I learned a lot about how to be a better teacher. His main topic or theme was basically that we missionaries are not teaching anything new or foreign to these people. These are they who are choice sons and daughters of God, who received their first lessons in the world of spirits. He focused on how we can focus on helping people feel the Spirit, which will contact their spirits and uncover what is already there. That, I think, is why people always say that the Spirit feels good, because it's how they used to feel living in Heavenly Father's presence.

This week was also the baptism of (name). He's doing really well. He's got a lot of friends and when he bore his testimony at the baptism he was kind of shy and didn't know what to say, but I felt that he really has changed and he really does know this church is true. The only reason he wasn't confirmed is because his mother is in the hospital very unexpectedly, and he had to go take care of her. I have no doubt that next week he'll be able to be confirmed. I'm so glad because we've gone a long time without baptizing, and (name) is a very good young man who was well prepared to receive the gospel.

We've been seeing progress with many of our other investigators as well. One man we found on the street, who happens to be the cousin of an active member in the ward, has been meeting with us more and more frequently. His name is (name), and he's really seeking truth and meaning in his life. He's gone through some hard times--his mom died from cancer last year--and I feel like he knows what we teach is good. The only problem is that he is very unmotivated. He says sometimes he just doesn't want to care about whether or not God exists. I think he'll be fine, we just have to help him change that way of thinking and see that what he's been searching for is right here in front of him. Today we're going to focus on prayer, so we'll see how it goes.

Brother (name) is doing well. We met with him on Friday and it turns out he's not as willing to be baptized as we were hoping. He says being an investigator is good enough for him. I'm afraid we didn't have the time to really overcome this concern, but we'll continue to help him. His daughter and wife both really want him to be baptized, so their love for him will certainly be a key factor.

Well, that's about all I have this week. It sure is good to talk to you all each week. Know that I love you and I pray for you every night.



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy May 23, everybody!

Hello again at the end of another short week! And the beginning of probably an even shorter one (more on that later). It's so good to hear from you all!

I love studying the New Testament. Especially when I study it alongside Jesus the Christ. I'll admit, when you first gave me that book I didn't have a great desire to read it. On my mission, though, it's one of the most amazing books I've ever read. Elder Talmage really has a way of putting it into context and helping me really understand what happened in the life of Jesus Christ.

The exciting news this week is that (name) is going to be baptized this weekend. He had his test this last weekend, so he couldn't come to church, but we're good to go for this week. I feel like the Lord has really blessed us with him. We've gone quite a while without baptizing, and it's a real blessing to have an investigator who is willing and who has good friends at church. We're also planning to meet with him this week with the Bishop as our peike (the member who accompanies you in the lesson), so that should be a good opportunity for the Bishop to get to know him and also to give him some advice and so forth. He's a good kid. I just feel strongly that this week we have to focus hard on two things: helping him really feel the reality and importance of the atonement in his life, and helping him get set on the track to enduring to the end. I want to point him to the priesthood, the temple, and callings at the early stages so that he will join the church to stay.

The Lord has given us many wonderful blessings and miracles. Satan would tempt me to believe there have been no miracles, but this is a lie. For instance, the one person we had at church is a man named Xie MingKen. His wife and daughter are both members, but they've been less active for awhile. They recently started coming back, and he wants to be baptized and join his family. He doesn't have a goal currently, but that's just because he can't meet until Friday. He's been to church many times, so depending on how much he knows already he can drop in and be baptized soon. I know the Lord has seen our efforts and has showered blessings upon us.

Though I am one of the weakest of the weak things of the world, He gives me strength to do things far beyond my ability. For instance, I've made a decision that this time I'm going to be the best district leader I can possibly be. I'm afraid most of my life callings have been basically like an assignment to take care of such and such duty, but I haven't given my all to those callings. I've decided I'm going to do all I can to lift, inspire, and bless my district and give my all to my investigators as well.

It's been super rainy for the last couple of days. Apparently there's a typhoon coming soon, so we keep having spurts of downpour followed by a little sunshine and then swirly clouds and then more downpour. But typhoons in the Taizhong area are nothing compared to typhoons way down south in Donggang.

Anyway, some cool news this week: on Friday we're having a mission conference, and Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy is coming to visit. We also have a combined district training meeting on Tuesday, so that's why I said this week will be going fast. I'm really looking forward to it; I think it will be a really spiritually renewing experience.

That's...about it. We're just going to bike up to Fengyuan today and eat an all-you-can-eat hot pot with Elders Nelson and Perkins. Elder Perkins is a trainee, so we'll see if he can eat very much. I guess I'll leave it at that today. I sure love all of you and I love to hear from you. Remember to endure to the end at school and so on. I'll talk to you again next week.