Monday, April 30, 2012

Greetings from Planet DouLiu

This week we're excited to report that our investigator (name) is progressing toward his baptismal goal of next Friday. He's been coming to church every week and reading the Book of Mormon daily. He's a very humble man, and even though it's taken a long time to teach him everything, I feel he is really willing and desirous to be baptized. We're hoping that after he's baptized his family members will start to have some interest in learning more. His mom even said that if his temper gets better after his baptism she might consider looking into our church.

 We've also started to find some really great newer investigators. Two students from mainland China started meeting with us this week, and while I was in HuWei on exchanges Elder Wong and Elder Lyman met with them and they expressed their desire to be baptized. They've had very very minimal contact with Christianity or religion of any sort in China, but they told Elder Wong they want to be baptized and they know what they have to do to get it. I'm really actually quite fascinated with the church in China.

 Here's some stuff I've learned by asking Elder and Sister Lin, who just spent the last year serving a mission there (not a proselyting mission, more of a take care of the members mission).

 * There are more members of our church in mainland China than in Taiwan.

 * You are allowed to be baptized as long as you have a family member who is also a member, otherwise you have to go to Hong Kong to be baptized.

 * Members are not allowed to openly talk about the church to their friends, but I think if the friend asks, the member can answer his questions.

 Pretty cool stuff. I'd love to someday be able to participate in bringing the gospel to the people of China, even if it's just as a senior missionary with my wife many years down the road.

 One more cool miracle story. This week at English class one of the regular students came, but came about half an hour late. Nobody else had come, so I was just calling some referrals and so forth. Anyway, when I was starting the class discussion she said "Actually, I was hoping you could just tell me more about your church." She said last week when she was feeling sad, she tried a personal prayer, which she'd never done before, and she truly felt like God answered her prayer and comforted her. We're really looking forward to continuing to teach her, because she really seems to have much more interest than ever before.

 Anyway, I'd better wrap up. I sure love you all! I hope this week goes great for all of you.

 Love, Carter

Monday, April 23, 2012

The weekly report, volume 100+

Hello everybody!

This was a great week. Sister (Name)’s baptism went really well. I was worried about all the multiple things that could have gone wrong, like possibly she didn't realize that she was going to be dunked in water or something like that. However, the Holy Ghost just came upon me and I felt at peace. I knew it would turn out all right. And it did. President and Sister Bishop got to come and attend, which was really a great experience. And even though the baptism was at a weird time (5:00 on Friday afternoon), lots of people were able to attend and welcome her to the branch. I love how the gospel unites and completes families. Brother (name) was so happy to have his wife baptized, and he was telling President Bishop and me that he really hopes to have his kids come back next. The Spirit was very strong during that service, and I am so happy I got to be a part of it.

I'd like to share two fun miracle stories for the week. One was a man we met on Thursday for the first time. He told us right at the start that the reason he wanted to meet with us was to see if we could help him understand if some things he'd been thinking about were right. I asked him what he meant, so he showed us some pictures that a friend had sent him. They were pictures of the universe, of galaxies and planets and billions of stars. He said, "Ever since seeing this I've been thinking that there must be a force or a Being who created all of this. It couldn't possibly have just come from nothing." We showed him Alma chapter 30, when Alma tells Korihor that all things are a sign that there is a God. He understood it right away. Throughout the lesson it became apparent that he is very well prepared. There were several times during the lesson that I got a big grin on my face so big I couldn't wipe it off, and I felt like jumping up and hugging the man. Everything he said was exactly the OPPOSITE of the frustrating things that people always say to us. He told us he has three kids because he feels families are the most important unit of society, and that if families fail, society will be destroyed. He said he feels real happiness does not come from money or big houses, and that people who ask him to design huge expensive houses are really still just as empty inside. He thinks it's impossible that there's more than one god and they're all equally good to worship, "Because if they're both different, how could they both be right?" We fasted for him this last weekend, so I am hoping we can help him and his family come to church and be baptized. He certainly belongs in our church! I'm not thinking of myself here, but I am hoping and praying as hard as I can that this is the family that is the answer to my prayers and fasting to be able to help a family be baptized. We'll see what happens.

The other miracle was last night. "Grampa (name)" is another of President Bishop's converts from so long ago, but he's been active ever since his baptism. His wife just got baptized at the start of this year, and his kids are all less active. We went to look for Grampa's son, but they weren't home. Our backup was a less-active we'd never met, also named Sister (name). We knocked on her door, but nobody was home. As we rode away, we saw Grampa (name) walking the other way, and decided to say hi to him before we left. When we told him who we were looking for, he said "No, that's wrong. Her house is over here, and she's home." He walked us over to the next street, and sure enough we found this Sister (name). Grampa (name) was willing to go in with us so that we could go in, and while Sister (name) was getting us drinks, Grampa (name) sat down and started offering us some peanuts which were on the table. I was a little confused as to why he was offering us somebody else's food...until I realized that she was his daughter. She seemed pretty nice, and she's willing to have us over another day. She said the main reason she doesn't come to church is because she likes to sleep late, so we'll see if we can help her and her sons turn that around and come to church with her parents. I'm so glad the Spirit guided us and Grampa (name) to be in exactly the right place at the right time for him to show us where his daughter lived; otherwise we might have gone home and never known she was just one street away.

Final story. On a missionary's last zone conference, he or she gives a short talk called a "reflection," which is supposed to be about his or her mission experience and testimony. Yes, darn it all, I had to give my reflection on Wednesday. I never thought my time would come, and it came so quickly. I had planned to share some experiences and testimony, and then share verses 4 and 5 of "How Firm a Foundation" and share about how Mom's passing was a big trial that the Lord helped me overcome. Then right before my turn, another sister who is also going home got up and shared the same thing. Complete with "How Firm a Foundation" and her mother passing away. Strange coincidence, but it all turned out well anyway. I'd encourage you all to read those verses, because they're the ones we don't sing very often (i.e. ever).

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow.
For I will be with thee, thy sorrows to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The fire shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The Lord is with us in every trial. As we rely on him, no trial can hurt us. We will be made stronger and more perfect as a result, as long as we just trust him and hold on to the iron rod. I love you all so much. Sorry this letter was so long. Beware of eye strain from reading too much! Talk to you next week.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Here we are together...

Hello again everybody! I had a great spring break too! I spent it preaching the gospel. Actually, to tell you the truth, I'm a little sad this week because I'm starting to get "death threat" emails and letters from the mission office. Today they want me to send in a miracle story and pictures for my own "funeral/eulogy." (-_-) But no matter.

I hope to be able to see my converts and their posterity strong in the church years down the road. Several times during conference the speaker discussed whether or not it was really worth all that trouble to save just one soul. The answer is yes, not just because every soul is precious to God, but because one soul, after about four generations, becomes one thousand souls. It was truly a reminder to me that while yes, I still hope to baptize a whole family and I will still try to do so, I won't be too sad if it doesn't happen. In the long run, the single people I baptized or the part-member families I completed have the potential to be sealed in the temple and years later their righteous posterity will be strong members of the church in Taiwan. I was so grateful to get that reminder that the Lord has many great things in store for each individual I've helped to be baptized.

Well, it's been a great week. We've continued working with (name), President Bishop's convert, and his wife. This week she passed a baptismal interview and she is going to be baptized this week! It's been a really special experience to be able to work with them. President Bishop was starting to tear up at Branch Conference yesterday when he was telling us how grateful he is to the Lord and to us for helping Brother (name) come back and now to help his wife be baptized. I don't deserve any thanks, really. I think what really happened was the Spirit worked on him and he himself made the decision to humble himself and come back. We just happened to be the missionaries serving here when that happened. It's been so much fun working with this family, though. Brother (name) is really funny; he loves to practice his English on us and to make up songs to the tune of "How Firm a Foundation" about missionaries coming over to his house. He's 90 years old but still really active. He rides his bike over to a section of road by a bridge and voluntarily sweeps the road and plants flowers and generally beautifies the area. I still have a hard time believing he's really 90, but there you have it.

Another investigator, (name), is also progressing pretty well. He's a member referral, the one whose right leg and arm are recovering from paralysis. He came to church again this week and really enjoyed his experience. He's having a tough time remembering some of the things we teach him, like the premortal life. We taught it to him five times and then asked if he understood where we were before we were born. He said "Nobody knows. I might have lived in Japan or America or even Africa, I don't know." We taught it to him again. Anyway, he's doing well. He's very humble and willing to learn and keep commitments, so I have high hopes that he can be baptized. We hope to teach and baptize his whole family, actually.

Other than that, I don't have a whole lot left to report for the week. This week is zone conference, which I always look forward to. Zone conference really helps to charge me up and renew my fire to do missionary work. So I guess that's all for the week. I love you all and I pray for you. I know Heavenly Father is blessing you all so much. I'll talk to you again next week!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter

Hello everybody! A very happy Easter to you all. Just like last year, we missionaries seemed to be just about the only ones who even remembered or cared about Easter. But it was a happy one, nonetheless, because we got to watch General Conference!

… That's a big problem in Taiwan, you know. Most people are of the opinion that churches are exactly like hammers--there's no need to go telling people yours is better than theirs, because they all accomplish exactly the same purpose. But we know it's not the same, and anyone who really takes a look will know it too. I just wish more people would honestly consider the message we bring them instead of turning up their noses and saying it's exactly like Buddhism, Daoism, Catholicism, Islam, and every other religion because they all tell people to do good things. If that's the defining characteristic of a religion, you can count the girl scouts and the NRA as well. I too am so happy to be blessed to be a part of this church where I know who I am, why I'm here, and where I go when I die. I know that salvation can only come through the Holy Messiah, who gave His life to save us from our fallen state.

Yep, it was move call this week. Elder Wong and I are still here, but Elder Van Noy left (obviously--he's headed home) and Elder Smith moved up to Taizhong. They put the two of us in charge of all of DouLiu, which I'll admit is a bit of a relief. It was getting tough to proselyte in the northern third of DouLiu while they took the more populous two thirds. I'll have to get to know the other half of the area now, but Elder Van Noy took me on exchanges to his area last Friday to help show me around and introduce me to a few investigators. Actually, all three of the investigators we met with kind of broke up with him. They each expressed their thanks for him coming to teach them, but that they'd like for us to stop coming over because they don't intend to change their religion. Sad. I hope it wasn't my fault for being there.

Well, this week was good but very busy. A lot of things took up our time, so it felt like our numbers were pretty low. But all these things were important and necessary, so it's not like we did anything we ought not. On Wednesday we went to JiaYi for the annual grave-sweeping service activity. I can't remember if I told you this last year, but every year on or around April 5, people go clean off the graves of their ancestors and do a little baibai (ancestor worship) as well. We go and help clean the graves of people who don't have living descendants cleaning them. So that was fun to provide this service and let people see the love of the Savior in action. The not-so-fun part was having my skin attacked by thorny vines.

Then of course we had General Conference. I loved it so much. I felt like many of the messages shared were spoken directly to me in answer to my questions and needs. I loved President Uchtdorf's priesthood session message about remembering the "why" of our callings. That helped me a lot. I also loved the several messages about teaching children (or investigators) according to their needs and helping them internalize the doctrine. It was an amazing conference, made better by the fact that five of our investigators were able to come and listen to the prophets.

Some of the people we've been working with lately all of a sudden started to avoid us or say that we were giving them too much pressure. I don't know what happened, because I thought we were taking it pretty slow with these people. So that was a little unsettling. But we have many other promising investigators. One man came to conference on Sunday morning and then brought his wife and kids to the fireside we held that night. They actually seem very promising. He told us that as he heard the prophets speak, it was as though he was hearing the voice of God. Pretty cool, huh? He's of another Christian faith.

Another investigator who came to church was (name), the member referral who is partly paralyzed due to a car accident. On Tuesday when we met with him, Elder Wong asked him to invite his family to sit with us, and as a result we ended up teaching not just one person, but four. His brother, cousin, and 6-year-old son all came and sat with us, and they all seem like very humble and open people. They were listening very closely to what we were sharing with them. So I have a lot of hope for the upcoming move call. Hopefully we'll be able to baptize a couple of families. There's nothing I want more than to serve the Lord to the best of my ability right up to the end, and I'm going to need His help to be able to do so. Please continue to pray for me; I'm definitely going to need it.

Choose the right!


Monday, April 2, 2012

4/2/2012 Letter to Family

Hello again everybody! Hard to believe another week has gone by. We're starting the last week of my 15th move call. Gulp.

The things that went well this week were in the referrals and new investigators. We added four new investigators from member referrals this week, all of whom seem to have really great potential. One of them met our recent convert at their physical therapy place and he's really willing to start coming to church next week. He was in a car accident six years ago and he is still unable to work because his right leg is paralyzed and his right arm moves very slowly. He's very humble and willing to learn (though at times his attention span is a little short).

We also were blessed with a great miracle last night. We were at a branch activity waiting for our investigators to show, and after some time it became apparent that they weren't coming. We were about to leave when a sister walked through the door with two young men, about twenty years old. She introduced them to us, told us that their family runs a breakfast shop at which she's a frequent customer. They both attended the fireside and made friends with lots of members, and afterward we were able to share with them a message about prayer and the Book of Mormon. It was a real testimony to me that the Lord will put prepared souls in our path or us in theirs. Even though none of our other investigators came, the Lord put those two young men right where He knew we'd be.

Our main progressing investigator, Brother (name), is doing really well. He has started to receive revelation through prayer. He told us he prayed about the plan of salvation, and afterward had a thought that the straight line we described made more sense than a continuous circle (i.e. reincarnation). We are going to work very hard to teach him all the reasons why he should want to come to conference this weekend instead of going to JiaYi to visit his girlfriend. He really seems to be progressing, though. I think one of the sweetest things about missionary work is the blessing we have to watch someone's gradual change. The first time we met with him he was very closed off and quiet, and slowly over the course of a few weeks he's started to really open up his feelings to us, telling us he gets a different feeling from us than from people of other religions. It's a miracle to watch the light slowly start to appear in someone's eyes and countenance as they start to live the commandments and doctrines we teach them.

One other thing we're doing this Sunday is a branch fireside. The four of us missionaries planned a big family home evening activity and we've been inviting the members to invite friends to this activity to give them some exposure to the church. We're going to do it just like an FHE, with a lesson and a game and food and so forth. I'm really impressed with how this branch is doing so well with referrals lately. Our investigator pool right now consists largely of member referrals. That's the way it's supposed to be!

One other cool story before I close. I don't know if I told you, but back in Tainan Elder Jensen and I found a family named the (name) Family--a young married couple with a two-year-old daughter. At the time I was praying hard in nearly every prayer that that family could be baptized. It was a real spiritual wrestle, I wanted so badly to baptize them. Eventually I left. Fast forward to two nights ago: Saturday night Elder Jensen (with special permission from the assistants) called me to tell me that the dad of that family got baptized! The wife refused to keep meeting with the missionaries, but that man is now a member of the church. It was just a testimony to me that the Lord did answer my prayers on their behalf. I believe that in the future, if he stays strong, she will eventually soften her heart and follow him. I am just so happy that I could be a part in helping them progress on the path to exaltation.

Keep me in your prayers; I'll keep you in mine. :D


Monday, March 26, 2012


Hmm. What is there to say about this week? It was a lot better than last week, for sure. We found quite a few new investigators. It's interesting how the Lord has so many ways to lead us to find people to teach. We found some of these people by visiting less actives, some by tracting, some by visiting a former investigator and finding his dad at home...we've really been seeing the blessings this week; the fruits of our labors are finally coming forth.

One of our investigators is coming along really well. His name is Brother (name), and he's a referral from another member who is his co-worker. At first he was really closed off and shy around us, but over the course of meeting with him, I feel like he's grown to trust us more, and he's comfortable saying the things he's thinking or feeling. He's starting to keep commitments, like coming to church and praying, and I feel that he has a lot of potential. So we'll keep meeting with him and helping him gain a witness that the Book of Mormon is true.

Another exciting thing is happening with a member referral. We visited a recent convert, Sister (name), who said that she has a friend at her physical therapy place with whom she's been talking about the church. He told her he'd really like to come if there was somebody who could drive him, because he was injured in a car accident some time ago. He's got a wife and kids. We haven't met him yet, but it sounds like he and his whole family have a lot of potential. We do indeed have a member with a car who lives right by them, so we'll see what happens this week.

We're also trying to teach the wife of (name), President Bishop's convert. He's started coming to church regularly again, and President Bishop really wants us to baptize his wife. Problem is she's deaf-mute, can't read, and can't understand sign language. But just like President Bishop said, "Τ獺みΤ快猭!" Meaning, where there's faith there is a way. It's basically the slogan of the mission. So we'll try to think of some way to teach her...probably through heavy use of pictures and rudimentary sign language. Heh. She's been coming to church with her husband, so she basically qualifies on that regard, but I don't know if she got much out of it. The Relief Society sisters were really nice to her.

Well, that's about all I can think of to write at this time. Apparently this week is General Conference, huh? That's interesting...I thought it was on the first full weekend in April, but apparently not this year. We're getting it one week later, as always, on April 7 and 8. It'll be my last conference in Taiwan...gulp. But anyway, I sure love you all a lot.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Luck O' The Irish

No, they don't have any mention of St. Patrick's day here. I only remembered because Elder Smith's parents sent him a package with a green tie and tons of peeps and jelly beans and stuff. Heh.

Well, this week had its ups and downs. We had kind of a bitter tragedy with Brother (name). He had to have an emergency heart surgery in Taibei, so in a matter of two days we went from planning a baptism to suddenly having no investigators. It was pretty hard. He's still good; he called me after the surgery and said he can come back at the end of April, so we're going to try and get the missionaries in Taibei to baptize him. I just find the whole thing very fishy indeed. Not that I think he'd lie to me, but it might be his family. I mean, how do you only find out about a major heart surgery two days before it happens, and then how do you talk on the phone hours after coming out of the operating room? Sigh...I don't know what happened. The point is he didn't get baptized but I think he still can in the future.

We had some miracles happen with our less-actives, though. Old Man (name), President Bishop's convert, came to church yesterday! It was his first time back in years, and he paid his tithing at the start of priesthood meeting. During the week we and the Branch President visited him, and he said "I'm coming to church this Sunday. I'm going to drive myself. My daughter doesn't want to let me because of my high blood pressure, but I'm coming anyway!" And come he did. I was bursting with joy to see him there all dressed in his suit. I knew that we were at least doing something right to play a part in his return to activity. It was the Spirit that did the real work, but I was so happy to be a part of this process. We're going to see if his wife is baptizable, too.
I'm not sure what else to say this week. We've been struggling hard to find new investigators, but so far they haven't been coming. Actually, one cool miracle that did happen was that we were not looking good to have investigators at church on Sunday. We'd tried everything we knew to do, so we just prayed hard on Sunday morning that those who had agreed to come would indeed come. Then while we waited on the steps of the chapel, one of our members came and told us that his friend who we've been teaching would be coming in just a couple of minutes. He did come, and he stayed for sacrament meeting and then had to leave. It was another great testimony to me that Heavenly Father does hear our prayers. We'll have to keep working with Brother (name) to help him understand church a little better and to have the right attitude and expectations when he comes, but he's one step closer to God now.

I've learned this week that we have to be patient even when things seem hard. We have to learn to accept the Lord's timing even when we would rather have what we want right now. I still believe He will help us baptize before I leave DouLiu, but I need to remember not to get anxious or frustrated when it doesn't all come at once. It's not an easy lesson to learn, but I read a talk this morning by President Uchtdorf that reminded me that we are indeed loved by God, and He has never forgotten us. I know he loves me and fully understands that I have weaknesses, and if I endure it well He will help us to see the fruits of our labors before the end. And as Ammon says, those fruits are not few, but many!

I love you all very much. I am always happy to hear from you each week and to share with you what's been happening here in Taiwan. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf. I'll need them more than ever now so I can finish off in a manner pleasing to Heavenly Father. I love you and I'll talk to you again next week!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Marching Onward, ever onward...

I'm sitting here in another internet cafe, a cold rain drizzling outside. It's good to be alive.

This was a really great week. I think I completely forgot to tell you last week, but the chapel in Douliu is newly remodeled and has a big, beautiful sacrament meeting chapel added on to it. It's been under renovation for over a year. This last weekend was the dedication and open house of the new chapel, and we were blessed to play a part in this very historical event. All the auxiliary organizations, including us missionaries, set up a little stand in one of the rooms that exhibited that organization, what it's about, and so forth. On Friday morning some reporters came to tour around and film some displays. Elder Wong and I also went to help out, and they ended up asking me a couple questions about why I came here as a missionary and such, and apparently I ended up on TV! I'm a Taiwanese TV star! No, just kidding. I am, however, an authorized representative of Jesus Christ. Hopefully the publicity will increase some community interest in the Church. Then on Saturday we attended the dedication and the ribbon cutting. Several community leaders, like the county commissioner, the mayor of Douliu, and some of the county legislators showed up to the ribbon cutting and said some very nice things about the church. A traditional Chinese symphony provided the music. It was a really neat experience.

One of the really great miracles this week was that on Wednesday President Bishop, who served here in Douliu many years ago as a young missionary (he white-wash trained in Douliu, actually), asked us to visit one of the men he baptized and invite him to the dedication. We prayed really hard the whole next day that Brother Wang would let us in his house and let us deliver this message. Our prayers were answered; Brother (name) was home, he let us in, and we invited him to come. He was a little reluctant at first--he hasn't been to church in a long time--but he did indeed remember Elder Bishop. The next day we visited again and brought a member with us. This member befriended him and offered to drive him to the ceremony, and he eventually accepted. So on Saturday, 90-year-old Brother (name) and his wife came to the service and President Bishop was able to see him and talk to him. We were so blessed and humbled to be able to play a part in helping this Brother start back on the path to activity in the church.

We have also been extremely blessed to find Brother (name), who is going to be baptized this week. He's started to make a few more friends in the ward, which was my main concern for him, so I'm glad to see that. He really is a very humble and sweet man. On Sunday during our lesson after church, he started to cry and said that he'd finally found his home in our church. Those are the moments when you feel like you've really done something right. The Lord has been answering our prayers in so many ways.

I don't know what else to write. Those were the highlights of the week. Other than that it's been just working hard to find people who will be baptized. The time is ticking, so we've got to do our best to find them.

Well, that's about it for me this week. Keep me in your prayers. I'll keep you in mine. Also, give missionaries referrals! Invite nonmember friends to learn about the gospel. :)


Monday, March 5, 2012

Hi there again

Hello everyone! Long time no write. It's great to talk to you all again and see how you're all doing.

This week was a lot of hard work. We're still trying to build this area up from nothing, but all throughout the week we've been seeing little tender mercies of the Lord. I have been praying all week and fasted yesterday that we would be able to find a family to teach and baptize, and this morning we received a referral through the phone from a member in Gaoxiong. She already talked to her family members (four of them) and they agreed to have the missionaries come visit them. It's too early to tell just yet, but this could very well be the answer to my prayers and fasting.

It's pretty interesting; I've never white washed an area before. I think I was expecting all these things to start happening all at once, but I just needed to take a step back and realize that I must have faith and patience. It will take some time to get this area rolling, so I can't get impatient or frustrated when we end the week with low numbers. We're improving, which is the important part. Just like all spiritual things, I need to help foster steady growth. That was something the Lord revealed to me during personal study a few days ago. Sometimes He has to remind me not to be too hard on myself or expect too much. Instead, I started to look at what He has given us. We have an investigator who is going to be baptized on March 17, and he was found on our second day in the area. That's a huge blessing! Some people go weeks without a single progressing investigator, but we were blessed to have someone who is very desirous to be baptized right from the start.

The members here in DouLiu are just awesome. The Branch President, President Li, is especially great. He's very supportive of missionaries, he's very friendly and loving toward everyone, and he has a "get it done" type of attitude that really influences the whole branch. Every member we've visited this week has offered to help in any way they can, including showing us which members live on our side of the city, where some good places to eat are, etc.

I'm not sure what else to write. We worked hard all week, but there weren't a whole lot of stories to tell. We did meet this less active member who was really nice and seemed to still have a testimony of the gospel. The only things keeping her from activity in the church were 1. Her daoist mother and 2. Somebody offended her at church. These two things are, tragically, big causes of inactivity in Taiwan. I still can't understand why somebody who is an adult with kids of her own would stop going to church just because her 70-year-old mother makes a fuss about it. And leaving church because you're offended...that's just like punishing yourself even more for someone else's sin. That's why in D&C the Lord says that He will forgive whom He will forgive, but of us it is required to forgive all men.

Well, that's about it for this week. I'll talk to you again next week!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Greetings from DouLiu

Hello everybody! It's a bit of a shock to be here in a new area that neither I nor my new companion knows, but it's been fun as well.

My new companion is Elder Wei Wong, from Singapore. He comes from a Mormon family, his parents both served missions, and he's doing really great so far. In Singapore they mainly speak English, and then they also learn the language of their ancestors in school (i.e. since Elder Wong's mom is from Taiwan, he studied Mandarin during high school). He's a very reserved personality, but when he bears testimony, it is a very pure and sincere testimony.

We inherited the north half of DouLiu, which is the less populated side, but we also got most of the secondary areas like CiTong, XiLuo, and LinNei. The chapel in DouLiu just got finished a few weeks ago, and it's a really nice building. They're having an open house on March 10th, and they're really pushing to get lots and lots of members, nonmembers, less actives, and everybody to come to it. The missionaries will be in charge of a little display in one of the rooms, where we will be introducing ourselves, missionary work in general, and so forth. It sounds like it's going to be really big; they've even been publishing advertisements in the paper and on TV. We've got a good branch here. The members seem really nice and the branch president is really supportive of us. I told him about my goal to baptize ten more people before I go home (did I already tell you about that? to hit my mission goal for baptisms I need to get ten more in these twelve weeks), and when I told him he was really pleased and he said "That's great! What can we do to help you hit that?" So I'm really excited for the chance to serve here.

And now a miracle story from my letter to President Bishop, courtesy of the miracle called copy-and-paste:

This last week we saw many great miracles. One of those was that even though we didn't really have weekly goals since we didn't have a weekly planning session, we did decide that we wanted at least one investigator at church. We hit the streets and worked hard Friday and Saturday, talking to everyone and tracting what felt like hundreds of doors. We didn't find anybody who let us in, but we did run into a big guy on a scooter who said he was Christian. We invited him to come to church the next day, and he said he would. Sunday morning came, and he truly did show up. He stayed for all three hours and afterward he said that this church gave him a feeling unlike any other church he's ever attended. He said it felt like home. He also told us a lot of the problems in his life; because of his weight he has a lot of health problems, depression, and difficulty speaking. He's willing to keep meeting with us and prepare to be baptized. This is a miracle because of all the prayers that went into making sure he came. We prayed our hearts out and the Lord answered our pleas. I am so grateful for this tender mercy to help us get the area started as soon as possible.

So yes, things are looking up already. The power of prayer works. I am confident that the Lord gives you that which you focus on and desire the most. If you put your energy, prayers, and efforts on any aspect of the work, the Lord will allow you to accomplish it. We're not really sure what this next week will hold, but I trust that we'll continue to see miracles.

Well, it's time to wrap up, I think. I sure love you all and I thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I'll talk to you again next week!

Love, Carter

Monday, February 20, 2012

Here we are together

Well, it was a pretty good week. That (name) Family I told you about last week met with us a couple of times and then came to church on Sunday. The ward really liked them, fellowshipped them like crazy, and the dad even said the closing prayer after priesthood. The mom was a little less excited. She kept taking her daughter outside because she, I think, was a little uncomfortable and didn't want to meet new people. However, I have a lot of hope for this family. The dad, at least, really likes the church.

Brother (name) was confirmed yesterday. He's just a very happy guy. He's just so pleased to be at church and the members are really doing a great job of loving and strengthening him. Our other converts all came to church as well--all seven of those most recently baptized attended. I love to see that, because we want to not just baptize people, but bring them in to stay and help them contribute and learn and grow.

Yesterday we also met with the father of one of our members. He seems to have softened up a lot in the three years his son has been a member. We invited him to learn the gospel with us and come to church and he said "Yes, I think it's time for me to learn a little bit of gospel." It's definitely the good example of this member that brought his father to the point that he is willing to accept the gospel. He's very loving, courteous, and patient with his dad, which I'm sure opened his dad's heart.

So things are going pretty well here in Tainan. Which brings me to that other point of news I need to tell you. I got a call from President Bishop today telling me that he wants me to be a trainer again. I'm going to be leaving Tainan and moving to DouLiu, in YunLin county. It's what we call a "white wash," meaning both of us will be new to this area. We're splitting the area with the Elders who are currently there. I really wasn't expecting this. I thought I'd probably be here until the end of my mission, but it seems Heavenly Father has something else in store. I will leave Tainan on Friday. It's a little nerve-wracking, but as always I just need to trust in God and seek what it is He wants me to do.

I don't really know what else to say, so I guess I'll wrap it up. I sure love you all! I pray for you every day and I know God is blessing all of us.

I love you!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hello there again! This week has been a pretty hectic and tiring POWER week, but it was worth it.

Well, this was a great week. It was a real struggle to hit some high goals, but in the end we had some good results. We had a double baptism on Sunday after Stake Conference. Brothers (name) and (name) were baptized and entered into the fold of God. The ten-year-old boy, (name), was baptized by his dad who is going to China today and won't be back for three months. It was a true miracle. On Monday we went there for the family home evening and played a little game of pictionary to review the commandments. I was really happy that Brother and Sister (name) were both on the same page; they'd evidently decided that we were right and they wanted their son baptized before Brother (name) was gone. (name) passed his interview the next day in about ten minutes (an average interview takes about 45) and he was baptized and confirmed on Sunday.

Brother (name) came to Stake Conference dressed in a suit and tie, looking very excited to be baptized. He's going to be confirmed next week in sacrament meeting. I really feel like the Lord is blessing us very richly because we're zone leaders. Elder Jensen and I are working really well together, and we're seeing blessings every day.

Another of those miracles happened on Saturday, which was "power talk to everyone day." We talked to literally everyone. Tons of people. One of those was a man buying drinks near a park, and he said we could come back to his house on Sunday. Yesterday we went there and his whole family was there--himself, his wife, and their adorable two-year-old daughter. They all sat and listened. Or should I say, the daughter couldn't sit still for four seconds, but the parents both listened. The dad was really cool; he just had that look like he belonged in the church. He's really willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray, and we're going back there on Thursday. I have high hopes for them. My whole mission long I've had a goal to baptize a family, and my time is getting ever shorter. I'm praying hard that they can be baptized, or if it's not them, that I will find that family.

It was a great week, but there's not a whole lot more to report. We're still working hard and trying our best. Tomorrow we will be teaching our zone at a "combined district training meeting," which should be a lot of fun.

I think spring finally came, because it's been pretty hot the last few days. But then once in a while Taiwan's weather hits us with a sucker punch in the form of a really cold night, which is miserable if you're unprepared for it.

Talk to you again after the passing of seven suns!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Springtime A-comin'

Hello again everybody! We just spent about six hours POWER CLEANING our apartment. It's powerfully clean now. But boy, it wears me out.

This week was a week of miracles. On Friday night after returning from zone leader council, we called the Bishop to ask if he'd been able to convince the father of 10-year-old (name) to let his son be baptized next Sunday, the 12th. Both parents are members, but they were nervous about letting him be baptized so quickly. Anyway, the Bishop said the dad was going to China for three months and they wanted to postpone the baptism until he returned. Needless to say, we immediately rode over to the (name) Family's house.

As we were praying outside their door, two members, a mom and her 19-year-old son, pulled up on their scooter. The mom was Sister (name)’s friend, and also (name)’s primary teacher. What more evidence do you need that God sends angels to help His missionaries? The four of us talked to Sister (name) for a while, and because of their powerful testimonies, she was willing to talk to her husband about having (name) baptized on the 12th. We're going over there in a couple hours to have a family home evening with them and prepare (name) for a baptismal interview.

Another miracle was yesterday's turnout at church. We had many investigators at church, including Brother (name), who is going to be baptized next Sunday after stake conference, and two members of a family we've been teaching. They both really seemed to enjoy their experience, and the Relief Society sisters did really well at fellowshipping the mother. The fourth person was a Brother (name), who is about 22 years old. He's really willing to keep the commitments to read and pray, and we promised him lots of blessings for coming to church, so he came. We also had the highest percentage of recent converts attend church that I've ever seen--seven out of eleven attended, including one man who yelled at us on the phone a couple months ago and said he never wanted us to call him or come to his house ever again. That was pretty amazing and unexpected.

This week is a power week, meaning we set higher goals than usual and push ourselves harder than ever. We leave the door half an hour earlier and eat meals as fast as possible so we can get back to work. I'm excited for it, even though I know it's going to be exhausting. I've found that President Bishop's promise is true--happiness in missionary work is directly linked to diligence. When we work our hardest, we obtain the greatest blessings.

I guess I could explain a little more about Brother (name). He's the one who used to be an investigator, and he called us and asked to meet with us and be baptized and so forth. I'm really glad to see that he has been able to make friends at church and make changes in his life to qualify to be baptized. He's just so nice and humble. Elder Jensen told him to bring his Jehovah's Witness bible so that we could throw it away, and he did it. We told him to wear a helmet when he bikes to church; he did it. I'm really happy that the Lord blessed us to find him and help him prepare for baptism.

Well, that's about it for this week. Sorry if my email seems scattered and rushed. We cleaned so hard and so long today that we don't have a lot of time for emailing. I want you all to know I love you very much and I'm still happily working my tail off to invite others to come unto Christ. I'm still looking for a family of investigators who I can baptize all together before the end of my mission. The clock is ticking, so I'll keep praying and searching.

I love you all so much! Talk to you next week!


Monday, January 30, 2012

January Draws to a Close

Hello again everyone! It's great to hear from you again. Things are going pretty well for us these days.

Did you hear that at the start of this last conference, the reason Elder Scott spoke first was because President Monson wasn't even at the conference center, and nobody knew where he was? Pretty funny.

We had something of an eventful week. Even though it was Chinese New Year, we were able to get some stuff done. We got treated to a lot of meals by members. Wednesday morning we rode a bus up to Jia-Li, which is one of our secondary areas. It's really far away, so I've never been there, but one of the member families invited us to lunch, so we went. The dad, Brother (name), who is also a stake high counselor, took us to visit some less active members. One visit was to the (name) family. Sister (name) and her four teenage children have been members for awhile, but because of how far it is to the chapel and her work situation and the fact that their dad is not a member, they haven't been coming to church very regularly. However, she's a very faithful member and her kids are pretty cool (but also pretty quiet). Then on Sunday I walked into the chapel and right there on the second row was the (name) family! They had taken a bus all the way from Jia-Li in order to come to church. That was a really great thing for me to see, and they committed to invite their dad to come to church with them next week.

We had zone conference on Thursday, and I got to conduct. It was kind of fun, because I've never done something like that before. It was a really good zone conference about obedience and the blessings of following God's commandments. Then when we got home we ate dinner at the home of a less-active former bishop. Yeah. They seemed pretty nice, it's just that the dad was really lukewarm about a lot of things. It really is sad to see somebody who's made so many serious covenants with God have such pitiful excuses not to come to church. I realize I don't know his life situation, so I really hope to help him work through whatever challenges are stopping him from coming.

We've got several investigators progressing steadily toward baptism. One is (name), who I may have told you about. He dropped out several months ago because some health problems stopped him from coming to church. Recently he called me and said he wanted to start coming to church again, and he's got a goal to be baptized on February 11. Our recent converts are doing really well still.

On Sunday all four of us missionaries had the privilege of speaking in sacrament meeting, and I really hope that it had an impact on the members. I spoke on how we have chances every day to share our beliefs with friends and family and people we meet. I used Elder L. Tom Perry's talk from last conference as my basis. Then Elder Jensen spoke on how those members who have unbaptized family members, like spouses or children or parents, can help those family members get baptized. He shared a bunch of real life stories from his other areas, which was really powerful. I realized that I really didn't try hard enough before my mission to share the gospel. There really are so many simple ways to do it. Preach My Gospel suggests that families can create family mission plans just as wards make ward mission plans. They can set goals for who they'll prepare to hear the gospel and how they'll do it. I want to help families in this ward make such a plan.

One more cool experience: last week we challenged one of our really active members, Brother (name), to let us meet his family, because he's the only member of the church in his family. He agreed, and yesterday we went up to his house. Unfortunately, his older daughter and his wife weren't there, but his fifteen year old son and his next-door neighbor’s daughter were there, and we were able to teach them a very simple lesson. He was pretty funny--he's the very picture of an awkward teenage boy, too shy to answer our questions. But I think both he and the family next door have some great potential; the dad next door came out just as we were leaving and chatted with us for a few minutes, saying he really admires Brother (name) and noticed that he goes to church every Sunday.

That's about it for the week. I did go on exchanges twice this week, and it kind of shocked me and made me realize I have been here for a long time. I honestly felt like an experienced missionary, because for both Elder Zheng, a new senior companion and new district leader serving in the same ward where I was a year ago, and for Elder Nickell, who's been out for two weeks, I have been where they are now. It's a weird feeling that they're asking me for advice and I actually have experiences to draw on and share with them. Strange how time travels when you're on a mission. It seems to go by at lightning speed, but when you look back it seems like those things happened forever ago.

Well, that's my spiel for the week. I sure love you all and I am glad to hear from you each week. Thank you for your prayers and so forth in my behalf. I feel the support of all of you, and I pray for you in return.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

The biggest celebration of the whole year is now underway here in Taiwan. The shops are closed, there are fireworks going off all around at random hours, and the work of the Lord is still rolling on.

Well, my new companion Elder Jensen is from Alabama. He is indeed the one who got into the MTC six weeks before me. He's going home in April. Sometimes President Bishop does that--gives some Elders the last move call or two to serve as a zone leader. I'm sure Elder Jensen could have been a zone leader long ago, except he was needed in the office. He is planning on studying accounting at BYU when he gets back, he's the youngest of three children, and he, like myself, lost a ton of weight on his mission.

I thought I'd tell you all some of the traditions of Chinese New Year. Last night we had dinner with the Bishop and his family, and there are a couple of special foods that they always eat on New Year's Eve (last night). One is called nian cai (or "year vegetable"). It's basically a stalk of spinach with the root still on the bottom, and the tradition is that you eat it starting at the root and work your way up, and you can't bite it until the whole thing is in your mouth, because it represents your life. After you've eaten the nian cai you can count that you've gotten a year older; everyone gets a year older on the same day, so if you count by the Chinese standard, a baby born two days before New Year would be counted as two years old a week later, because he's one year old when he's born and two years old at the new year. Crazy.

The other traditional food is called nian gao, or year cake. It's this sticky, sweet cake the consistency of Jell-o, which is then covered in a very thin shell and fried. It's very tasty. I don't think there's any significance to it except that it's yummy.

This last week was pretty successful. We were blessed to find many more new investigators, including yet another very nice family. The problem is that most people are telling us lately that they can't meet again until after the New Year. So lots of people have potential, but we have to kind of wait for a few days. The 19-year-old and his brother have been meeting with us this week. They're pretty cool still, but I can't figure out where their real interest is. Are they genuinely interested, or just wanting to learn about our beliefs? I don't really know, but they are willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray, and that's one of the most important battles. It's like Alma says to Helaman in Alma 37: "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Those who read and pray bring about great changes in their lives. Those who stop doing those things find out that their spirituality dies quickly. Joseph Smith said it too, that a great ship can be influenced by a very small helm. So as long as they're doing those things, I believe they can progress.

We also started meeting with an investigator who just called me up on Tuesday saying that he wanted to meet. Turned out that he was almost baptized about six months ago, but because of a back problem he couldn't come to church for awhile. He's a little bit special, but definitely still accountable and needs baptism. Actually, we didn't even really invite him that first lesson, because we wanted to first make sure he needed it, but after the lesson he said "So, when can I get baptized? I really want the gift of the Holy Ghost." It blew me away for a second, I just kind of looked at him, blinking. Then we invited him for a goal in February so he can first reestablish a pattern of coming to church each week.

Well, that's about all for this week. We're looking forward to a great new week, new year, a zone conference on Thursday, and lots of proselyting.

Talk to you again next week,


Monday, January 16, 2012

Hello again from Platform Bay

That's basically what Taiwan translates to. Hello, my wonderful family! It's so great to hear from you again. Today's a day of new beginnings, because it's move day. More on that later.

So I'm staying here, and Elder Braby is moving out to a small group of islands off the coast of Taiwan called the Penghu Islands. My new companion will be Elder Jensen, who's been serving as the Operations Manager (in the mission office) for the past four or so transfers. He's not here yet, so I still don't know much about him.

Brother (name) was baptized this weekend! I'll send a picture. He's so super solid. He was crying after his baptism, saying it was like being a child again. Pure, innocent, and happy. I really love him. I've been amazed by his faith, his love for the Lord, and his sheer determination to push through all obstacles. He worked hard to get to this point, and I was so happy to see him baptized and confirmed.

We're looking to teach some very promising new investigators. I contacted this kid on Wednesday - he's about 19 and has really long hair--and Elder Braby and another Elder met with him and his two brothers while we were on exchanges, and they're really cool. The 19 year old already read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. Almost nobody actually prays about the Book of Mormon the first time you invite them. They're really cool. We also found a family who's super nice and willing to have us over to teach them. We were in a big rush, so we didn't have a whole lot of time to get to know them, but they're a really nice family. So things are looking up for us here in Tainan.

Well, I don't know what else to write today. I'm a little rushed because we have to get Elder Braby to the train station fairly soon. Next week's letter will be longer, but I think that is about all for this week.

I love you all so much. I pray for you and I know Heavenly Father loves each of us.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday, January Eighth, Twenty-twelve

Well, this week we are having a baptism! He's one of the most humble and faith-filled men I've ever met. He overcame so much more than anyone else to get to this point when he can be baptized. It's like the parable Jesus tells of a man with two servants, one who owed him 50 pence and one who owed him 500. He frankly forgave them both. Jesus asks, which of those two loves his master more? This dear brother whose life was torn apart before is truly finding the peace and healing that comes from the atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm so happy for him. Our other recent converts are doing well, too. Brother (name), the 19 year old who was baptized two weeks ago, got the priesthood yesterday and he's been attending lots of ward activities. He's one of the starters for our ward's volleyball team in the stake tournament. :) I'm happy to see these people being integrated into the ward so well, because after they're baptized, we missionaries want to be in the picture less and less.

We've also been very blessed to find another person who will likely be baptized before the end of the month. His name is (name), and he's ten years old. His parents were married in the temple but were less active for a couple years. Now they're returning to activity and we are going to help their son prepare for baptism. Really, though, the greatest help for him is the teaching that happens in the home. That's the way God intended it. His parents are very supportive.

We're really working hard to find and teach families. I still want very badly to help an entire family of investigators be baptized together on the same day. We actually saw a miracle tracting yesterday. I've been trying to take Dad's approach and tract as fast as I can. This doesn't involve running, since every house is squished right up next to the one next door, but I'm trying to move on quickly if someone rejects me. We tracted into a guy yesterday and I was trying to tell him about the restoration. He told me "I don't really identify with any specific religion. As long as it's good, I believe it." I asked if we could come in and teach him. He said, "Hm. Sure, come in." We taught him the message of the restoration and he really felt something. A lot of Taiwanese people are confused and think that all religions are true, but when we shared some scriptures and taught him about the Apostasy, he understood right away. "Oh, so those other churches are not the truth because they're different from God's true church." He was super willing to read the Book of Mormon and meet with us again. This really built my faith, because we'd been struggling all week to find new investigators, and we prayed and worked and finally found this man tracting on a Sunday afternoon.

I am not pleased with how fast January is going. Time flies on wings of lightning, you cannot call it back ("Improve the Shining Moments"). I want to work to find and teach and baptize a family each month for the rest of my mission. That won't be easy, I'm sure, but I want to end off with a sprint, like I do when I run the mile in the mornings.

Well, I suppose it's about time to wrap this email up. Other than that, it'll just be clean the apartment, shop at Costco, and so forth. Then we'll go out and preach and teach and work as missionaries do. I love you all! Talk to you next week.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

My goodness, is it 2012 already? I can barely believe it. 2011 was gone in a flash.

Our New Year was excellent, because it started with a baptism on New Year's Eve and a confirmation on New Year's Day. Yes, Brother (name) joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was truly a miracle from start to finish with him. Elder Braby and I were talking about it and we came to the conclusion that we the missionaries don't do much, really. We just teach and invite, but in the end the people who are going to get baptized and stay in the church are those who are willing to put forth the effort for themselves. Those who read the scriptures, pray, and have faith to keep the commandments become converted to Jesus Christ really quickly. He's doing really well, and I can tell he really wants to endure to the end. I think if his family can get converted as well, that will definitely increase his ability to keep going in the church. I'm really happy for him and I love him a lot.

Well, other than that, there's not a whole lot to talk about. This week was a little dry on new investigators, even though I feel like we worked really hard. We're looking for ways to improve our effectiveness and the way we use our time so that we can help more people get baptized. This week we'll be going to zone leader council, which should be very helpful. I always feel like I learn a lot there, because we really have some outstanding zone leaders. I learn a lot from their examples.

Chinese New Year is coming up in a couple of weeks. It'll be the year of the dragon, which always seems to be everybody's favorite. Chinese people always try extra hard to have a son in the year of the dragon. I guess it's good luck or something.

Well, I can't think of much else I can say. I guess I'll just leave it at that for this week. I believe we will have more good news and miracle stories for you next week. I love you all very much and I pray for you every night. I know the Lord will be with you.