Greetings from your favorite missionary in the Taiwan Taichung mission. :)
The thing about Christmas...yeah, it's sad. Like, if you look at Christmas displays in Asia, there is no whiff of anything religious anywhere. It's all Santa and presents. I saw some decorations in a Mos Burger the other day which had a Santa face and the words "Merry XMos." That's three strikes in a row: Santa, X instead of Christ, and inserting their product name. I'm kind of contemplating doing away completely with Santa when I have my own kids. When you think about it, Santa is like idol worship. People leave offerings of cookies and milk to a fat guy who sneaks into their house and leaves them loot. It's so similar to certain forms of Daoism. Anyway, that's another story for another day. Maybe just read 3 Nephi or Luke, because if the world won't remember Christ, at least we will. :)
A couple funny stories about McDonald's I never told you before: 1. Taiwan does Coke cups too. This summer I earned several of those gluttony trophies--all you have to do is buy a "MegaMac" value meal (a 4-patty Big Mac) and upgrade to large. Whoof. My poor heart. 2. A couple weeks ago there was a huge line at Mai-Dang-Lao (McDonald's). The quarter-pounder had just been introduced and they were giving a free one to everybody who would pose for a picture with it. We refused. After all, we're representatives of Jesus Christ, and we're not going to end up on some advertisement for quarter pounders.
This was a hectic week. I felt like it slipped right by and we didn't get nearly everything done that we needed to do. We have several investigators who are doing really well and progressing to be baptized on Christmas Eve. I'm a little worried because we haven't had many new investigators lately, so our pool of investigators is not as full as I'd like it. We're going to work hard to find more this week, though. One of the miracles was that the (name) Family came to church for the third time yesterday. This guy has made a great change in the month we've known him. The first time we met with him he had some crazy YiGuanDao beliefs, and he believed his daughter had been to heaven and talked to spirits and all sorts of weird craziness. The last couple times at church he hasn't mentioned YiGuanDao once, and he even said he'd be baptized when he knows that this church is true. Wow! He's been bringing two of his three kids each time (different two each time). I think he's afraid of his wife, though, because he won't let us come over to his house to teach him and we've never met her. He says she's a very devout YiGuanDao. We'll see what we can do for them.
This week we'll be having a leadership training meeting, and for the first time I'll have to participate in it instead of just going along for the ride. Each zone leader companionship presents a one-hour training session on some aspect of missionary work. Our topic is helping investigators receive revelation through prayer. I'm excited for this; I definitely feel like it's a challenge at times to help investigators really understand what prayer actually is. In the culture of Daoism and Buddhism, you just go to the miao and use incense and pray to the gods there when you need help, but nobody really gets that there is a God in Heaven who is listening to every prayer and will answer them through His own method. To be fair, I don't think I developed a really good habit of prayer until I became a missionary (and I sometimes still don't pray as well as I ought to).
How fast time goes...the Christmas activity is almost here already. Scary. My time is getting shorter, so I feel an even more urgent need to baptize more people. I've got to find those families! We're still working with the (name) family. The boys are awesome as always, and the mom is also really cool. The dad knows what's right and what he ought to do, but for some reason he's not doing it. I think he even wants to change the way his life is right now, but maybe he's just not motivated enough to act. We're going to try and get those boys to come to church and seminary and start showing a good example to their parents. I think the mom could come around really easily if she can find a way to keep the Sabbath Day holy.
That's all the time I have this week. I love you all so much and I hope you all have a fantastic week.