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!