Monday, April 25, 2011


Hello! It's so good to hear from all of you again. As you can tell from my subject line, Easter snuck up like a ninja...nobody in Taiwan really even seems to know it exists. Even the church members, when we said, "Hey, Happy Easter!" said, "Oh, is it Easter?" and went on doing whatever they were doing. We didn't even sing my favorite Easter hymns in Sacrament meeting. :( But that's ok, because in our studies this morning we focused it all on the resurrection, so it worked out.

The Taibei Temple, I guess, is roughly comparable to the Boise Temple. I say that in part because it looks pretty much the same and it's pretty small inside. There are two, maybe three, endowment rooms and one or two sealing rooms, I think. I'm not sure. The interior, though, is really cool, especially in the entrance area. They have some furniture, vases, and wall scrolls with a very Chinese feel. I just like it because it's the same feel as in every other temple, but with that touch that reminds you you're in China. Yeah, our zone went, which is roughly 20 missionaries, and there were two sessions--one in English and one in Chinese. We are not allowed to go into the shops or anyplace surrounding the temple; after taking pictures we got straight on the bus and rode back to Taizhong. For meals we just brought stuff with us. I brought typical road snacks along with a loaf of bread with ham n' cheese baked into it. Oh yes. I love Taiwanese bakeries. Yes, only the four northern zones (out of eight total) get to go, and it's once every three months. Yes, the handbook is more detailed now, and the Taizhong mission rules are even more specific than that. You might like this one: "Do not perform bike tricks or take your hands off the handle bars while riding." ;o) So don't worry about me eating gravel. Thanks for sharing your mission experiences with me. Really, I do enjoy seeing the parallels (and differences).

Well, this week was pretty good. I just wrote you not that long ago, but Elder Mohr and I have seen some miracles this week. We still didn't get many investigators to come to church, but the good news is that the one who did come is a new person, Zhang HaoYan, and he's very willing to keep progressing. I was worried he wouldn't like church because he's just 15, but it turned out he had friends in the young men's class. His parents don't fandui, so I am feeling very optimistic about him. We were also blessed to reach our goal of 64 new investigators, even surpassing it by one. Things are going well. I also had the chance to study the accounts of the resurrected Christ in the four gospels and in Jesus the Christ, and when I read the words "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen..." I felt the Spirit testify to me that Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead and he lives today, a glorified and resurrected being. Which reminds me of something I noticed in my Book of Mormon study recently. In Mormon there are a couple instances of 'Being' as a name for Christ. I pondered on the meaning of such a title, and I realized that Jesus is a being with a capital B because He is really the consummation of all we hope to Be. Every being on this Earth ought to hope to one day Be what He is. And if that's our hope, we need to work every day to develop the qualities he possesses. Preach My Gospel chapter 6 has really helped me in this regard. I hope I'm a little more charitable, patient, faithful, and diligent than I was before my mission.

I love you all so very much.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hello me family!

I just got back from my temple trip! It was so great. Part of the fun is the bus ride for three hours each way with my zone. We watched church history videos like Mountain of the Lord and Legacy and Joseph Smith and ate all the food I bought. But of course the real gem of a temple trip is...going in the temple. It was so very spiritual.

So...I don't have a whole lot to write about this week. In answer to your question, Dillon, I'm working so hard to find this family before May 22, but so far we're hitting lots of stumbling blocks. The (name) family has a grandpa who is so stoutly Buddhist that he slammed the door in our face. The (name) family is super nice and willing to meet, but they think changing their beliefs to only one God is too hard and they're not that willing to make the effort. They tell me they believe that every god exists, and if it tells you to do good things it's a true god. Very sad to see how common that thought is in Taiwan. I fasted for this goal yesterday, though, so I feel confident that I'll get to baptize a family. And even if it's not within a year of my release date, I could just come back to see them sealed. So I'm still hopeful.

How's everyone doing on personal prayers and scripture study? If I had a nickel for every investigator to whom I asked this question...I'd have a big ol' bag o' nickels. I've really gained a testimony that these things, along with church attendance, are VITAL to keeping our testimonies. Testimonies really are very fragile, and can break without constant buffering through prayer and scripture study.

I'm sorry for the short letter this week. You'd think with ten days of stuff I'd have more to write, but I'm running low on time already. I want you all to know I love you very much and I pray for you every day. I know without a doubt that this church is true and that if we endure to the end we will all have eternal life in the kingdom of God.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Conference!

Boy, what a happy conference it was! It was such a spiritual recharge, and I felt like several of the talks were aimed right for me. To put it in Elder Holland's words, I received several "prophetic epistles." I can't even believe another week has gone by. They all go fast, but this one was seriously gone in a flash. It's great to read all your words and know you're all well. Before I forget, I need to tell you that next week is the temple trip, so you won't be getting my email at the regularly scheduled time. It won't be until Wednesday evening, my time.

As for the question about proper names, in the Book of Mormon, proper names are usually underlined so that people know it's just a name, and they don't have to puzzle over the meaning of (李海) plum ocean (the literal translation of Lehi's name). Some, however, like Messiah and Satan, aren't underlined. I don't really know how many Taiwanese Elders we have. The majority is still white, but they're increasing. We have a few missionaries, including one of the current Assistants, from Singapore and Malaysia, so they speak three or four languages natively, including English and Chinese.

Well, this week was good. On Tuesday we went to a graveyard in Daya and spent two hours cleaning them. There were some that were extremely overgrown with weeds and grass and trees, but they looked pretty good by the time we were done. The next day I saw a picture on a newspaper (I was NOT reading the newspaper, I was just clearing it off our table in the restaurant) of President Bishop and another Elder cleaning some graves. It's an interesting Chinese tradition. I guess it's somewhat akin to Memorial Day, just a holiday to go and remember your deceased ancestors.

We've seen some more miracles in finding, as well. Elder Mohr, for instance, found a beautiful family of five, four of whom are baptismal age. They're extremely nice and are willing to meet, but the husband is really busy and might have time on Saturday night to meet. I'm continuing to focus on finding families who can be baptized and endure to the end together, and I have high hopes that the Lin family will be one of those. Have I ever told you I have a goal to baptize a full family before my one-year-left mark so that I might get to see them sealed in the temple together? I'm running out of time. :( It's insane to think in just a couple weeks I've been gone for one year. So the clock is ticking, but I feel confident the Lord will grant my righteous desires as I work diligently.

I'll answer a few questions from last week.

I'm in a ward right now. I've only been in a branch once, and that was my first area. The ward members are really awesome. Correlation meeting here is the most efficient and effective correlation meeting I've ever seen, and the members are very willing to help us peike (accompany a lesson with an investigator) or refer friends.

As for entertainment in Taiwan, yeah, most people watch a lot of TV. And even though I don't watch it, sometimes I can hear it while we're eating in a restaurant, and it sounds like Taiwanese TV is a lot of terrible acting ;) Probably the most popular sport in Taiwan is not football or soccer. It's baseball. The Taiwanese love baseball. Some also like to watch NBA, actually. I'll say I'm from Utah and they say "Oh, the Jazz, right?" It took me a few times before I realized what they were saying, because they said the Chinese transliteration. And actually, they do watch a lot of American entertainment with subtitles. We were once eating in a Filipino hamburger place and they had HBO on with Chinese subtitles. Some people I've met learned their English from watching HBO, and their English is actually really good.

Well, I'm running low on time. In closing, I want to share an experience from my Book of Mormon reading. This morning I read 3 Nephi 9-11, and as I read, pondered, and wrote my testimony about the Savior's appearance to the Nephites, the Spirit spoke to my soul and I felt a powerful confirmation that He did, indeed, appear to those people. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that its translator is a prophet of God. I knew this before, but how sweet it is to experience that witness of the Spirit over and over again! I'm so glad I have the chance to preach repentance.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Happy Happy Grave Sweeping Day

Yep, it's another holiday weekend in Taiwan. Happy Grave Sweeping Day (Sao Mu Jie) to one and all. It's great to hear from most of you again. I can't believe yet another week has gone by so quickly.

There's not much to report this week. We met our really high goal for finding new investigators, but we got pitifully few sit down lessons and absolutely nobody at church. I feel terrible when that happens, because I'm in charge of the welfare of these people's souls. Granted, we worked our tails off, so just as Preach My Gospel promises, I'm not disappointed in myself. We're just going to have to work even harder in the coming week to make sure such a thing does not happen again. When people don't come to church, they don't get converted and baptized. It's just a fact. I know the Lord is with us. He helped us find lots of new investigators, and He will continue to support us in our trials. As it says in Mosiah 23:21, sometimes the Lord "trieth [our] patience and [our] faith." He wants to see if our faith is dependent on good results or if it's solidly grounded on the rock of our Redeemer. So I won't lose faith. I'll keep going forward.

Now to answer some of this treasure trove of questions! :D

* We normally teach investigators at the church, actually. Most people don't want us to come to their houses, so we have them come to the church and teach them there.

* I'm trying really hard to find families to teach, but yeah, just about everybody I teach has been a single man. We can't teach women unless there are no sisters in the area (and we've had sisters in all of my areas except Donggang) or unless it's the mom of a family and we teach the whole family together. I want so badly to baptize an entire family together and one day see them sealed in the temple.

* He's from Chico, California (in the north). He's actually doing really well with the culture and all. He's better than I ever was about all the new foods to get used to. He's got a very genuine personality, and even though at times he doesn't know all the words to say what he wants to say, investigators can feel the strength of his testimony. I love Elder Tony Mohr, and it's great to serve with him.

*Right now we have 4 Elders and 2 Sisters in our district. That's about the average size (that is, 2 Elder companionships and 1 Sister companionship).

skip a few...I'll answer them next week

* People occasionally comment about my hair. But I'm really not that much taller than the average Taiwanese person.

* My shoes are doing just fine, so far.

* I'm procrastinating buying a new suit. And I haven't really gained any weight. I don't miss it.

* I can actually read most of the Triple Combination in Chinese now. I know about 1100 of the most common characters in the Triple.

* Yeah, English is about the standard second language.

* We teach English every Wednesday for free (it's a finding tool...shhhh...)

I'm out of time! Sorry...I'll save the exciting conclusion for next week. :o)

I love you all so much. It's fun for me to get to talk to you and know you're doing well. Next week I'll try to save some time to give you some slightly more in depth answers.