Elder Cannon Clark and Elder Bruce White (Cannon is a friend from Idaho)
Our MTC district with Elder Hodges and Sister Fan.
Me painting my bike.
I have a mustache vicariously through him.
This is where we tract.
The nicest person I contacted that day.
Letter for the week:
Great first week in Taiwan!! Where to begin.
I'm not good at Chinese. I contact people and have no idea what they're saying back to me, so I just bear testimony and hope that the spirit can do something. This week I spent 30 seconds contacting this couple using Chinese. They were nice and nodding their head, and then after 30 seconds she said, "duibuqi wo bu shou yingwen." That translates to, "I'm sorry. I don't speak English." hahaha! That really boosted my confidence in my Chinese. I'm studying like crazy. I really want to pick this language up quickly so I can be a more effective missionary, but I know it's going to have to come slowly, bit by bit. My MTC branch president said something that has popped in my head a lot this week. He said "Don't let the things you can't do keep you from doing the things you can." I really like that. I can still work hard, study hard, smile and wave to everyone I see, have faith, and strive to improve my language skills everyday.
Speaking of working hard, having a companion willing to work is AWESOME. I really am loving my trainer. We get along really well and the one thing I wanted in a trainer was someone who was willing to work hard, and Elder Erickson has that. I love being able to get out there and get to work.
I painted my bike. They have us paint it so it's less likely to get stolen, but I'm worried with my amazing paint job I made it more likely to get stolen.
I really enjoy the food here. Twice this week we've had older ladies come up to us and talk to us about America. Both of them asked if we eat hamburgers everyday in America. They're shocked when we tell them we eat the Taiwanese food. One of them even tried to imitate what English sounds like. HILARIOUS!!!
I taught my first English class. I was assigned to teach the beginner class and the other missionaries said that I'd just be teaching a bunch of little kids and would just have to play a game. Then I get in my class and the little kids were nowhere to be found. What I did see was a couple who look to be in their late 20's and a 40 year old lady. So I started to teach out of the little book the mission has made, and it was going horrible. One of the most awkward 15 minutes of my life. I had no idea how I was going to teach 90 minutes of this. Then I turned to the body parts page. This I could point to and didn't have to know the Chinese to every word, so it was easier. Then an idea came to me. I taught them the words from the book and then I also taught them head, shoulders, knees, toes, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Then I made 3 adults stand up and sing "Head, shoulders, knees, and toes." It was hilarious seeing these adults doing this in broken English, and they were loving it. One of them said that toe and tongue sounded the same. I thought this was hilarious coming from a Chinese speaker, where everything sounds the same, and the tones change the meanings of words.
Then a miracle happened. One of them asked me how to say mustache. From there it was smooth sailing. I taught them every facial hair term in the book, from handlebar mustache to lamb chops, to soul patch, I covered it all. It was so hard not to laugh every time these people were saying soul patch in broken English. They were diligently trying to study the words and taking notes drawing all the different styles and writing the English name. It was the greatest!!! I then taught them hair styles like mohawk, afro, corn rows, and mullet. They asked about girl hair and I didn't know what to say so I taught them bangs, and no bangs.
Before I knew it the time was filled and class was over. It turned out to be really fun when I just relaxed and made it funny.
Friday night we had a basketball activity which was great because we got a lot of people's info that we can call and hopefully some become investigators. Basketball here is so funny!! They all work like crazy on their ball handling and tricks, but they can't finish or score. It's so funny to see all the crazy no-look passes that go on. But there were actually a couple kids that broke the stereotypes and proved that some Asians can ball.
This week our goal was for 4 new investigators. We'd worked hard all week to meet it, prayed hard, had a lot of faith, but as of Saturday evening we had found one. We were trying to stay positive, but we had two scheduled lessons that night with people who we were hoping to teach and get set up with so they'd become new investigators, and they both no showed. (so many no shows every week) Anyway, we waited until 8:30 and then we just said we got to go. We went to knock a door we had knocked earlier in the week and the guy had said come back, but he wasn't there. We found ourselves at the end of a long day, having done a lot of hard work, and with little results. We pulled into the alley and I offered a prayer. I prayed that in this last half an hour God would put just one person in our path who he has prepared for the gospel and who needs our help at this time. We said amen and I pulled back out on the street, and the first person I saw was a kid about 20 years old on the other side of the street. I had a really strong prompting to talk to him, so I crossed the street and began talking to him with my companion. He said he knew about the church from when he was really young, and that his older sister is a member. We asked him if we could give him a tour of the church and he said we could. We showed him around and he liked it a lot. We then sat down and taught him a lesson and he really was interested. He said he still tries to pray like he was taught when he was a little boy. We had a great lesson and set up to teach him Tuesday. He really is as prepared as I've seen an investigator since being here on island. He talked about wanting to follow Jesus Christ and we invited him to be baptized and he accepted. That was great! I was so excited on the ride home I almost got hit by 3 different cars. (Riding bikes in this traffic is SO FUN!!!)
We still needed 2 more investigators to meet our goal and we got one Sunday afternoon, and then our 4th came the last 30 minutes of Sunday night. The Lord was really testing our faith this week, but I know that he definitely answers prayers.
Another really cool story this week is about a less active in our ward named Dan, a.k.a. "Dirty Dan." (Most of the people here have picked English names, and so that's what I use when writing home for convenience.) My trainer and his last companion told Dan when he was going to go out to parties and clubs to call them first. Last week he did and they said don't drink or break the law of chastity. Saturday he called and said he was going to the club that night. We set up a time to meet with him in the afternoon. We taught him a lesson and tried to convince him not to go, but he was pretty set on going. We concluded by making a deal with him that if he went he couldn't drink, couldn't break the law of chastity, and had to be to church on time at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. He agreed and then my companion invited him to say a closing prayer. I quickly interrupted and asked him in his prayer to ask God if he should go to the club that night. He thought it was weird, but he said he would. Then he prayed and he asked God if he should go to the club. After the prayer we asked if he got an answer. He said no, but the expression on his face said otherwise. Then later that night we're at the church for a lesson, and in walks Dirty Dan. He's not at the club. He's on his way up to the gym for a church young single adults activity. It was awesome. The next day he was at church on time, and Sunday night we saw him on the street on his way to another church activity. It was so cool!
We have a baptism Saturday night!!! Her name is Yang Qi Ping, English name Apple. I'm excited. She was scheduled for the 20th of April but that was a Wednesday so we teach English. We asked her if we could move it up and she said she didn't feel quite prepared. Then we bore testimony and I challenged her to be baptized on the 9th, moving it up even further than we had first anticipated. She said she was willing and she passed her interview Saturday. I'm really excited. I've heard it's been a while since Zhubei has had a baptism.
The work is going well. I've hit the ground running and working hard. We come home each night and just die on our beds because we're so tired, but the Lord provides us with enough energy to get through the next day. The Lord loves the people of Taiwan. I'm so thankful to be serving here. I still sometimes just look around while riding my bike and see all the bright neon lights and characters everywhere and can't help but grin from ear to ear because of where I am. I'm loving it so far, It's definitely hard, but I'm definitely growing a lot. The Lord answers prayers, and definitely has those he's prepared in Zhubei waiting for us to find them. We just have to talk to hundreds before we get the one. Our zone leaders here said it's like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles. Well said. That's why we have to just open our mouth and talk to EVERYONE! I've talked to everyone. My favorite is the 20 second contacts to people on scooters next to us at red lights.
Also the weather in Zhubei this week was absolutely wonderful! The other older romanization spellings of it are Chupei and Jhubei if you want to look it up at all. My companion and I set a goal to take a picture a day, so I hope to be able to get you a few every week.
Love all of you!