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.