Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy 2-28!

I'm not lying this time. Apparently 2/28 is a holiday in Taiwan for some reason I don't understand. So our internet cafe is full of kids playing loud and obnoxious video games. But hey, why not celebrate it while it's here, mm? :D

Thursday I'm going to Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung) for a full day of training in the Fundamentals from Preach My Gospel: Teaching More Effectively, which is a set of eight lessons the missionary department made to help us be better teachers. Every district training meeting is based on one of these eight lessons.

Unfortunately, neither of our week B investigators rolled into week A. (name) didn't because he's only been to church for all three hours once, and the mission rule is at least twice, and yesterday he had to leave early because he'd had a migrane all night and couldn't sleep. So we'll get him baptized next week. He's really a great person. He's been making friends with the ward members and he made a valiant effort to come to church. As for (name), that was a big disappointment. We had a member offer to drive him to church, we talked about how important it was every time we visited him, and I was sure he was committed to come. Then we showed up Sunday morning and his daughter said he wasn't there. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure this is only a setback. We'll review with him why the Sabbath is important and I'm confident he will be baptized. We just need to rely on the Lord's help with him to make sure we know and meet all of his needs. He's very willing, and every time he prays he asks Heavenly Father to help him be baptized, so he's still doing all right.

We saw a real miracle yesterday at church. A man showed up wearing a white collared shirt and said the missionaries contacted him a long time ago and he never came, so today he decided he'd come dressed up and see if we had church services. He made fast friends with several members and told us he felt really good at church. This was truly God's blessing, and I'm excited to help this man come to know his Heavenly Father more.

I'm still working on improving the cooperation between us and the ward leaders, especially in retention of new members. Our ward, unfortunately, has a lot of new members who will meet with us and have no bad feelings toward the church, but who don't often come to church because they don't feel welcomed. This is why programs such as home teaching are so very VITAL. People need that friendship and love or it's really hard to come to church, no matter how good your testimony is. One thing's for sure, after my mission I'm going to be a 100% home teacher. It's's essential.

I'm sorry I don't really have much else to say. It's great to communicate with you all every week. You're in my prayers, and I wish you all a wonderful start of March. (Where do the months go?)


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Monday!

There's not a holiday this week as far as I know, so we have to celebrate something.
Hello, family! It's great to hear from you. It's hard to believe another week has FLOWN by. Dillon mentioned that 10 months has gone by really quickly, and I have to agree. I'm actually kind of afraid to come up on my one year mark.

First of all, I'm happy to report that (name) was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church this weekend. He's doing really well. He actually showed up about half an hour early for his baptism because "Today is the most important day of my life." It's been so great to see him make this sacred covenant with his Father in Heaven. I still remember our first contact with him: we found his address without a phone number on an old list of investigators from a few months ago and biked way down to Tainan City South District (took us about an hour because we were contacting on the way). We got there and he was willing to meet with us right away; he said he missed the other Elders and wondered why they just stopped meeting with him. The Lord truly has guided us in finding and baptizing this man.

Our week B, (name), unfortunately did not roll to week A because he had a toothache and didn't come to church, but when we visited him after church he was willing to set another goal and he told us that he had been praying and reading his scriptures that morning. So even though he couldn't come, he definitely understands the sacred nature of the Sabbath Day! This man is so humble. I really love teaching him and helping him learn more about his Father.

We've also been blessed with a couple of other really great progressing investigators. (name) is in week B, and he's very willing to be baptized. He came to Brother (name)'s baptism and was making friends with several of our young single members. We also met with a (name) who came to church on Sunday. Last week when we met with him he said he knew the Bible was true because the Holy Ghost bore witness to him, and when we invited him to be baptized he said, "Yes! I've been looking for the opportunity to be baptized, but I didn't know how. Then," (pointing to Elder Turk) "you ran into me on the street!"

Finally, (name), who has been progressing slowly for a long time, is still not sure he wants to be baptized, but last night we prayed with him and in his prayer he told Heavenly Father he loves Him. After the prayer we just kept kneeling and I said, "Your Heavenly Father loves you too." He just couldn't stop smiling as he said "I really do love Him." Seeing investigators develop true love for God is one of the sweetest things in the world. When that happens, you know a person is being truly converted to Christ.

In other news, I did my first baptismal interview on Saturday after our investigator was baptized. Pretty fast, but it wasn't quite as scary as I thought it would be. As in all things, we just have to rely on the Spirit to tell us whether or not that person really has repented of her sins and is ready for baptism. She passed the interview, but then disappeared the next day--her cell phone is no longer in use and she's not at home. Poor Sister Cooper and Sister Huang. Which reminds me, we have a really fun district. We have the Zone Leaders (Elder Bickmore and Elder Cocke), both of whom are really funny people, and Sister Cooper, a black sister who is incredibly funny as well. Sister Huang is fifteen years old. Yeah. 15. She volunteered to be a part-time missionary because the mission didn't have enough sisters. She's doing surprisingly well. And her English is really good because she was born in America.

I'm also really loving this Book of Mormon reading activity. Did I tell you? President challenged us to read the Book of Mormon in three months, marking the names of Christ, words of Christ, attributes of Christ, and doctrine of Christ (articles of faith #4) in four different colors. I'd encourage you all to try the same thing with a clean paperback copy of the Book of Mormon. It's really been increasing my testimony of this book.

Well, my time's just about up. I sure love you all. Today's power cleaning day as well, so I get to spend most of my preparation day scrubbing scum and junk. =D Wishing you a happier Monday than me,


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day?

I feel like we weren't even deserving of all the miracles we were blessed with this week, but I'm also extremely grateful.

The most exciting news is that (name) was finally baptized! He dropped into week A on Monday and was baptized and confirmed this weekend. He's such a nice person, but I think his big obstacle was that he was afraid to commit to something when he didn't know beforehand that it was 100% right. But he took a heroic leap of faith and entered the waters of baptism. I know that the Lord upheld him and blessed him with His Spirit. Actually, he was having doubts Friday night, but after we followed up on the phone he had a powerful and distinct prompting of the Spirit that he needed to be baptized. On Saturday we were continually calling him and he wouldn't give us a direct answer about whether he was or was not coming to his own baptismal service. We met with him to boost his feelings of the Spirit, but it came right down to the wire--he told us if he was coming he would show up at 6:30. And he drove up at 6:40. This was a huge blessing, and I thank our Heavenly Father for guiding (name) to make this great decision.

We also have a great investigator named (name) who will be baptized this Saturday. The only concerns he's ever brought up about baptism are that we have to make sure the water is warm or he'll catch a cold. :) I love that man, and I'm excited to see him baptized as well. He always amazes me with his understanding of gospel truths and his sensitivity to the Spirit. When Qiu Rong was confirmed, Qing-Yu told me afterward that he felt the Spirit really strongly and he recognized it immediately as such. That man's so well prepared for baptism.

Finally, (name), the father of a recent convert, is making great progress as well. He came to church again, so he's in week B. After church we taught him the word of wisdom and he immediately promised never to drink tea again. Then we asked him if he believes this is all true, and he said he doesn't doubt it because we all believe it, but he also believes his Daoist gods have answered his prayers before. We taught him the 10 commandments and asked him if he was disobeying any of those commandments. He thought for a moment, then read aloud again the part about not bowing down to idols. He said, "This is a commandment, too..." We bore testimony that his Heavenly Father is the one and only God and if he would stop worshipping other gods he would feel more strongly the love and revelation God wants to give him. He committed, and he had a big smile on his face. This man is one of the most humble people I've met so far, and I look forward to his baptism as well.

And here's some news--today's the start of a new move call. I'm still with Elder Turk in Tainan, but this move call I'll be the district leader. A little nerve-wracking, but to be honest it'll be less stressful than other district leaders, because I just have us, the sisters, and the zone leaders. I basically just take numbers every night, lead district training meeting every week, and do baptismal interviews. That last one is the one I'm actually nervous about. I have to decide whether or not somebody's worthy and prepared to be baptized. But I'm humbled by this opportunity to serve, and I'll do the very best I can.

This last week was power week, so we left the door early, ate lunch and dinner as quickly as possible, and worked our hardest to find and teach lots of people. It was very refreshing, especially after Chinese New Year, when a lot of people were unwilling to meet with us.

Well, not much else happened this week. Well, I mean, a lot happened, but I'm running out of time and there's nothing that really sticks out that I need to tell you about. And by that I mean I kinda forgot. Sorry. :/

Love you all so much!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Letter to Family, February 7 2011

Hey there everybody,

Well, things have been going pretty well. We had a great zone conference about the power of the Book of Mormon, and it really helped me strengthen my testimony that that book has a power far beyond the words of men. It invites the Spirit because it talks constantly about Jesus Christ. Actually, President Bishop challenged each and every one of us to read the Book of Mormon in three months, marking four things in four different colors: names of Christ, directly quoted words of Christ, attributes of Christ, and the gospel of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, endure to the end). I'm only about 20 pages in, and it already is astounding me how often the Book of Mormon talks of Christ. Truly it's as Nephi said--they talk of Christ, they teach of Christ, they prophesy of Christ...It's really a testimony builder to do this activity.

We've had ups and downs this week with our investigators. Some of them who seemed so close to baptism have backed away yet again. I think that (name) and (name) are alike in that they are afraid to jump into something unless they're 100% sure they can go through with it. So they both have been shying away from baptism for quite some time. But Elder Turk and I feel like we've really received some revelation as to what we can do to help them and our other investigators trust in God and follow Him. Faith, after all, is not to have a perfect knowledge of things. You receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. So even though they've both seemed to take steps backwards, I am still hopeful that we can help both of them be baptized. I know they know this is true, so we just need the Spirit to touch their hearts and bring about a miracle.

We're also working with (name). We found him as a result of trying to visit one of our recent converts who hadn't been coming to church for over half a year (his son). This man is incredibly humble and willing to try the things we tell him without hardening his heart. His obstacle is just that he has already pledged himself to Daoism, but I think as we continue to emphasize prayer and studying the Book of Mormon he will see that this is the only true religion and he will have a desire to be baptized.

And this week we have our POWER WEEK. We leave the door earlier, eat faster, and work harder to preach and teach and work as missionaries do. I'm actually really excited. It's probably going to be exhausting (if we do it right), but the times you work the hardest on your mission are the times it means the most to you.

Well, let's see...there's also not much to report on in terms of Chinese New Year. Not much really happened, except for most people telling us they didn't have time to meet with us because they had family over or they were leaving to visit family. Actually, last week the Bishop treated us to a Japanese restaurant, so I tried sushi and such for my first time. It was really good. And we were invited over to dinner with one of our investigators and his parents. That went well except for when I took a bite of some chicken which tasted kind of sour, and our investigator leaned over and said "that was marinated in sake." I had to spit the chicken into my napkin, which was a big loss of face, to say the least. heh. But the parents weren't offended. Just probably a little confused at my overreaction. :)

So I'm including some pictures from last preparation day. We visited this place called Anping Tree House. When the Europeans came here they built a big house for their trading company, but they eventually got driven out of Taiwan, and over hundreds of years the house got overridden by the surrounding banyan trees. It's really cool stuff.

Well, I hope things are all right with you all. I guess I'll find out next week. :)

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



That means happy new year. :) I hope you can see it, and it's not just a bunch of white boxes.

Hello everybody! Man, it's hard to believe another week is gone. I'm glad to read all of your fun stuff that happened this week.

One of my goals for my mission is to baptize a whole family before I've been here a year so that I can see them sealed together in the temple a year later. I know exactly what you meant when you wrote about entire families being special. It seems that's harder to do in Taiwan, though, because husband and wife are more independent of each other. Missionaries often baptize people whose spouses have no interest at all in the church, and it takes them a few years to finally come around and be baptized.

This week (name), who has been an investigator for a couple years, finally agreed to be interviewed for baptism. He's always told us he doesn't want to be baptized that fast, but never told us why. On Thursday and Friday we had two extremely powerful and spiritual lessons with him and he agreed to have an interview. While he unfortunately did not pass because he's still not quite willing to make some of the changes in his life, he's made a lot of progress, and I feel like we can help him be baptized at the end of February. He now believes in God. We just need to continue to help him realize the importance of keeping God's commandments. I think as we help him develop true friendships with the ward members he will realize he doesn't need to break God's laws just to have friends. We were truly blessed this week to see his change of heart, and I know we can continue to help him.

We also saw some miracles at church on Sunday. (name) came for his third week, and he said he really likes coming to church meetings. The only thing stopping him from being baptized is that he doesn't know enough of the doctrines, so I think he can be interviewed this week. Also, (name), the crippled father of one of our recent converts, came to church for all three hours. He even walked up the stairs for sacrament meeting. It was so great to see his desire to come and hear our message. I don't know if he's really felt this is the one and only truth yet, but I love this man because he is so humble. He was willing to open his heart to our message and give it a chance to grow, just as in Alma 32.

That guy that read the whole Book of Mormon in two days is still meeting with us, but he's...ahm...not getting a few things. For one, he's been looking up all kinds of junk on Wikipedia and the internet about the church, asking us about unimportant details like the exact timeline of the Book of Mormon. And when he prays he says "God, if you're there, appear in my presence ba." (ba at the end of a sentence is sort of like a suggestion, or you're unsure about something) And he prayed like that after a half-hour lesson about how God won't appear to us and we need to be humble and accept whatever answer He wants to give us. :P But I think he's progressing.

So it's been a great week of missionary service. I've really seen some incredible blessings and miracles from our Heavenly Father. I'm starting to not be as terrible of a senior companion as I have been. And I learned how to type Chinese characters, as you saw in the subject line. :)

So now for the stuff you've all been really wanting from me all along--what happens in Taiwan during Guo Nian (Chinese New Year)? I'll forward to you a letter of Guo Nian trivia President Bishop sent us. You can do with it as you wish. Other than that, the ward put up a sign-up sheet to treat the missionaries to lunch and dinner every day during Guo Nian. Nobody signed up. :(

There are lots of firecrackers going off at random times during the day (and night). Nothing's really happened yet, so I'll have to tell you more next week.

And that's about it for this week. I love you all so much, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!