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!