Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29, 2012

This week was Chinese New Year, and I'll have to admit, I was a little scared going into the week because I had heard that it was a real work killer here in Taiwan. I had heard from multiple older missionaries that it takes a huge toll on the work, so I was determined this week to prove that not to be the case. I feel like when it's all said and done this is Heavenly Father's work, and I knew he wouldn't be taking Guo Nian off, and so I chose not to either. The result was a delightful, extremely successful, and miracle filled week of service. It was absolutely great!! I'm also really pleased with my zone missionaries, as well. It was obvious through the call-in reports who decided to work and who decided to take the week off. I'm thankful for hard working zone members who for the most part worked hard. 

So what does Chinese New Year entail you may ask? From a missionary perspective there are some major differences. 1. Members feeding us. In Taiwan it's really rare to be fed by members, but during GuoNian we were eating every day with the members, sometimes lunch and dinner. It was fantastic, and they just force you to eat and eat and eat some more. There is not a missionary who doesn't gain a couple pounds during GuoNian. 2. People seem happier, there is a happier feeling on the island, because it's like their Christmas. 3. Fireworks, Fireworks, Fireworks. Everywhere, all day and night. Sleepless nights because of fireworks and firecrackers going off every minute. Overall it was such a great experience. It's their new year because they don't really use our calendar, so Happy 101. We're in the 101 year of their calendar, the year of the dragon.

This week the work was great. I'm loving working with and learning from Elder Workman. We saw some great things and miracles this week. I don't know where to begin. My favorite might be contacting the guy on the bike next to me at a stoplight while waiting for the light to change. Found out he was an inactive member that was baptized in another part of the Island and had never been to church here, hadn't attended church in several years. I invited him to follow me to the church on his bike right at that moment. He came. Then he came to English class the next day. Then came to meet with us and review some doctrine on Friday, then to church on Sunday in a full suit, where he made friends and met the bishop. It was such a great miracle. I'm thankful to have been able to be in the right place at the right time and help a lost sheep who wanted to come back.

Another great miracle was Brother Tsai. He is a YuanZhuMin, a.k.a. Taiwanese Aborigine, a.k.a. Lamanatie blood. He is so great. He met with us only once last transfer and was struggling, but something happened and he had a desire to come back and continue to prepare for baptism. He's changing jobs right now, and he finally had time to meet. He's doing great and wants it so bad. We had the oppurtunity to take him up to Taipei to tour the temple square there and we did a tour focused on the priesthood and eternal families. He loved it. This man is amazing. He is a bodyguard and super strong and tough. He hears the gospel or gets into church and he is just like a little child with the biggest grin on his face the whole time. It is the best.

Now we have kind of a crazy situation as well. A few weeks ago a Brother Zhong and Sister Chen, a young unmarried couple came into the church wanting to learn more. Huge miracle! We met with them and they were great, had a great desire. Then I met with them one more time with one of the Elders in our neighboring area to pass them over because they live in that area. But since then they have not been in contact with the missionaries. However, they were still coming to church every week to our morning ward. They were reading The Book of Mormon, and then they went by themselves to Taipei to set up their own temple tour to learn more about becoming an eternal family. They were amazing. They came to church to our ward yesterday, and I got talking to them. Brother Zhong is leaving to go to Africa this week or next week. That raised a red flag, and I couldn't shake a thought/feeling that kept coming back to me. It was a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland in Preach My Gospel and it mentions "Eternal Life hangs in the balance.... take control of the situation." So I set Brother Zhong and Sister Chen up to meet with us last night. We didn't really know what we were going to teach or how the situation was going to play out but we prayed that the spirit would give us the words to speak. We asked why they had been willing to do all this stuff on their own without being invited and they said because they want an eternal family and an eternal marriage. They said they've felt these things are true!!! So now we're on the clock.

We invited him to postpone returning to work in West Africa 1 full week so he'll go back in 9 days. It's a huge act of faith. We then talked about how to be baptized we have to repent and keep commandments. Then we found out she was a former investigator who before had taken all the lessons and wasn't able to be baptized because of family opposition. So she knew them. We're teaching them all tonight and laying out the plan of salvation in the most amazing young couple in our ward's house. If he's willing to live them and committed, we'll get him an interview for baptism and get them baptized before he heads to Africa. Then when he returns in a year they can get sealed and have an eternal marriage. It's quite a miracle, it's something that will take a lot of miracles and things falling in place just right. But the spirit gave to us last night what to say and how to handle the situation, as well as what blessings to promise. It was a really edifying lesson. So please pray for them. I have faith that if they have the desire, the Lord will provide someway for them to make this covenant even though we're against the clock. Just need to pray hard.

Overall it was a great week. great miracles with finding and teaching, as well as getting people to church. I'm as tired as you can imagine at all times, but I'm happy as can be.

Really quick about last week's bike crash. We were coming home after our baptism last week, and I had my wet baptism clothes on the front handlebar of my bike in a bag. The bag swung into the spokes and my tire just stopped. I flipped over the front of the bike. My head (thank goodness for helmets) rubbed on the asphalt and when I opened my eyes I just saw Elder Workman's shoe on the ground, but no foot in it. He kind of wiped out on top of me. But I got up and I'm fine. I talked to the mission nurse, had my bike repaired and all is great right now. I had some cuts on my hands, and was really sore. I also chipped a little bit of my tooth as well as had a concussion, but that's not important. I'm fine now. I forgot my first transfer for a little bit and forgot what day it was, but all is well now.

Love you all
Elder White

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 22, 2012 - Week 1 of Transfer 8

Hello friends and family, 

Another fantastic week here from TaoYuan. I'm really excited for what this transfer has in store, I think it will be a great transfer of learning and consecrating myself to the Lord. My new companion, Elder Workman, a Viewmont grad, is amazing. I'm learning so much from him and we're seeing success and miracles. It's so great, and I look forward to continuing to work with him and working together to help the TaoYuan zone continue to progress.

The highlight of this week, hands down, was Chen Hao Yun's baptism. He was go great, and I'm so excited for him. Really an amazing person who is committed to following the example of his Savior. Repentance has played a big part in his life and in his conversion process and he shared a bit of that in his testimony after his baptism. He talked about how he almost didn't come and meet with us after we had initially found him, but he had a feeling he should, and just a month later he is a baptized member of our church with the gift of the Holy Ghost as he moves forward in his life. Another cool sidenote, he's a Kevin Garnett fan. You can't go wrong with someone who likes Kevin Garnett.

Here in Taiwan it's Christmas, or at least their equivalent of Christmas: Chinese New Year. It's by far their biggest holiday and they're excited for it. Everyone says it's a buzzkill in the work, but I'm in Taiwan, there are millions of people, and I don't believe the Lord will be taking Chinese New Year off. And I know myself and Elder Workman definitely won't, so we're going to go out and continue to invite people to come unto Christ, and trust the Lord will put those prepared in our path.

This week we found some amazing new people. I would like to share one experience. Every day as we leave the apartment we drive our bikes out of the underground parking garage and turn right, because that's heading into the heart of our tiny area, and if we turn left on the road we immediately hit the border of our area. However while planning Tuesday night, I said I wanted to go out the door and turn left. And so that's what we did. I pleaded with the Lord that night to put those prepared out on that street. As we went and spoke to everyone, in the most literal sense, I met a young man named Edward Zhen. As I began talking to Edward about the Book of Mormon, he said he knows that book. It's named after the last prophet, Moroni's, dad who abridged it. I was taken back and then began talking more to Edward. His family had met with missionaries before, for a while, to the point of coming to church several times. He believed in Joseph Smith's experience. He had a testimony. We set up a time to meet with him the following day. I was away on an exchange but my companion told me how amazing and knowledgeable he was. He wouldn't commit to be baptized because he thought it would be restrictive and tie him down, but we will continue to work with him and help him gain a stronger testimony and resolve his concerns. It was a prepared person the Lord knew by name, knew where he'd be, and gave us missionaries promptings in planning to go there to meet him. It was great.

This week was full of miracles just like that. I love this work and gospel with all my heart. It's beginning to mean absolutely everything to me. I regret not embracing the gospel more and making the most of the wonderful learning opportunities provided to LDS teens growing up, but I can say I know that this gospel means everything to me. I love studying it, I love applying it, but most of all I love sharing it. The Lord continues to bless me far beyond what I deserve. I'm being blessed in every aspect of the work. I'm so thankful for this opportunity and the Lord's hand in my life. 

I'm thankful for all your love and support.
Elder White

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15, 2012 - Let Transfer 8 Begin

 Elder Erickson and me on his birthday.
 Bowling on P-day

 A couple of pictures of my planner this month. Notice the picture of me and Guo. (On the phone he told us he had planned to do a Christmas card but transfers made it so he couldn't. This would have been a good one.)

 My birthday meal, courtesy of Sister Lin in DanShui, a great investigator that spent way to much money on us.

It's move call days, and I'm staying in TaoYuan. I'm pretty excited about that, and I'm even more excited about my next companion. I finally have a fellow Utahn. I had to wait until my 8th companion to get one. My new companion is an Elder Workman, from Centerville or Farmington. He went to Viewmont high school. I'm pretty pumped because the way he does missionary work is fitting to his name. He's an absolute workhorse and a real all star in the mission. It's going to be great. I can't wait for all the miracles we're going to see.

Speaking of miracles this week had its fair share. One tops them all. Chen Hao Yun. I can't remember if I told you last week, but we taught keeping the Sabbath day holy, and he said he was willing, but he has work every Sunday. We asked if he would be willing to ask his boss for Sunday off. He said he would. That's already a huge miracle--few Taiwanese people are willing to do that. The best part is that his boss agreed!!! No one in Taiwan gives work off on account of Sabbath worship!!! It's amazing! So Hao Yun can come to church every Sunday now. Saturday we were teaching him tithing. He committed to keep the commandment. After we taught that we had taught him all the lessons. He was keeping his commitments and had come to church 3 times. His baptismal date was for February 4th, but he was so prepared. We asked him if he wanted to get baptized in 1 week (this upcoming Saturday), and he agreed. Yesterday he passed his interview!!! I'm so excited!!!!

The Lord's hand has played such a strong part in our process with Chen Hao Yun. One night before going to bed we were trying to straighten up our apartment and organize some of the papers. I was going through a stack of hundreds of old teaching records, sorting which ones were in our area and which ones weren't. When I found Chen Hao Yun's record I had a prompting to set it aside. I did so and continued sorting, then I told my companion we should go find this Chen Hao Yun. Well we did, and found out the reason he hadn't been baptized before was because his parents opposed it and he was 19. In Taiwan you must be 20 to be baptized without parental consent. Now 3 years later and 22 years old he can do it!!! 

Another way we saw the Lord's hand in this was by developing a bit of a relationship with his boss, before we even knew Chen Hao Yun or that he worked where he does. He works at a small cafe called Morning Burger, and one day my companion and I were in that neighborhood and decided to eat there. The food is amazing and cheap so we began eating there 2 to 3 times a week. The boss there loved us, and saw us always eating there. Then we found out Hao Yun works there, and it all worked out perfect. I'm just so excited to see him make this covenant this coming Saturday!!!

The rest of the week was fantastic as well. Taiwan's political elections were this week and so there were lots of rallies, concerts, and fireworks going on all the time. Lots of trucks advertising the candidates cruising the streets with loud,annoying messages playing on repeat until the wee hours of the morning. But that's over and the candidate I was secretly pulling for won.

I look forward to this next transfer, I think this is going to be one that I grow a lot. Elder Workman is going to be great, our zone got some great missionaries coming in, so I look forward to working with and exchanging with them.

Everyone have a great Chinese New Year

Also, Add Oil!!!!
Elder White

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8, 2012

 Visiting Jiang Kai Shek Memorial. Cool Place. Some pictures of Dan Shui. An exhibit we went to on P-day
 about the future.

Hello friends and family,

I have been on a mission for 1 year. 1 year, 7 transfers, 7 companions, 5 areas, 5 bicycles. You may have noticed that bicycle statistic is up one from last week. Yes, my last bike (an old dinosaur from a missionary that went home) gave in and the repairs were going to be unbelievably expensive. So I decided that I'm done with all these bike troubles, I'm going to buy a new bike that I know will last me the last year of my mission, stress free. So I did it, and it's awesome... because it's a road bike. Now I'm the fastest missionary in all of Taiwan. I'm faster than half the scooters. It's beautiful.

This Sunday was wonderful!!! Having to attend 2 full blocks of church because Elder Miller is with us can be very tiring, however, the miracles were awesome!! A couple walked in during our church block saying that they had a Mormon friend and they wanted to learn more. We were able to share a message with them after church and they set baptismal dates! Then that night we were heading to the church, when right out the gate we were self contacted by a man, and his girlfriend. We were able to show them the church and they said they wanted to be baptized. Amazing miracles right at the last minute of the week. I know that the Lord blesses us when we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, and sometimes he waits right until the end to bless us, after the trial of our faith and patience. It was great. The better part was the last couple actually live in our area!!! Our area is absolutely awesome, but it is so small, and we're always finding and teaching great people that end up living in the other wards in TaoYuan. It's a real bummer giving over absolutely golden people, but I know the Lord is putting them in our path because he knows we'll talk to them and give them an opportunity to hear the gospel.

Looking back on this last year, it has been nothing but amazing. I've learned so much, about myself, the gospel, about life, and I picked up Chinese a bit on the side. I'm enjoying the language more than I had before, and I can now read most of the Book of Mormon in Chinese. 

I got a Christmas/thank you package and gift from Edward Liang up in DanShui. It made me so happy!! Also, another cool thing is Elder Gist, my last companion from DanShui, is coming down to be Elder Miller's new companion, so I'll get to talk to him today more about DanShui. I love that place so much!

I hope we can all make 2012 the best 2012 we'll ever have. I love being a Taipei missionary, I love serving under my mission president, President Grimley. I testify that He lives. I know the Church is true and that CTR is a really good saying. Because when we CTR there is safety and peace.

Love Elder White

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 1, 2012

Another week gone by. I'm approaching 1 year on my mission this week. Quite astonishing. I'm about half way. It's been great so far. I don't like how fast time is flying by though. I want to make this next year even better than the first.

It's great rolling in the new year, as well. Great time to make some resolutions of how I can be better as a missionary and a person. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me in 2012, but I know that as long as I'm doing my part, the future looks extremely bright.

This week is very interesting due to the fact that Elder Miller is still living with us. It's been a lot of fun. I really like having Elder Miller around, but taking on an extra missionary and another area is really hectic along with our already hectic zone leader schedule. The Lord is blessing us to be able to continue to help both areas and make everything work and still see miracles. It just gives me a constantly unrooted feeling, which is really different. It looks like he'll be here with us the rest of this transfer, so It should be very interesting. We'll have to continue to rely on the Lord for help in taking this extra responsibility. I know it will be great, and we'll continue to have a lot of fun.

The highlight of this week was brother Chih, a.k.a. Charlie entering into the waters of baptism, no matter how chilly the water was due to the fact that the building's water heater was off. It was great to see him get baptized and confirmed. I have no doubt that he will continue to be an amazing member of this church. His desire to follow Christ is amazing and I'm so grateful that through the spirit we were able to resolve his long-time concern, and help him prepare to take this important step.

Today I made an important decision. I bought a ping pong paddle. It was an investment but I had to spend a little birthday money somewhere. This paddle is amazing. I customized it out to the point that it would be illegal to use in regulation tourneyment. It's a classic butterfly blade that I then put red pimple out skin on both sides, with a white custom hand grip. It looks great. I'll have to take a picture before the grip gets too dirty from my hands. It was great playing it today. Quite the paddle.

The TaoYuan Zone is doing great as a whole. I'm really liking it here. I continue to look forward to doing the Lord's work in this great area. Speaking of great areas.... DANSHUI!!! Edward was baptized this last week. He and his family sent me a Christmas gift and a great card. It really made my day. I'm so happy for him and it's so rewarding. If you can't remember, I saw him at 8:55 one night. It would have been easy to just go home because it was about time, but I decided to try to talk to him for 30 second and get a phone number because he was with his family. Such a miracle--called him, set him up, now a couple months later, he's baptized. I couldn't be happier.

I look forward to a great 2012 and second half of my mission

Love you all.
Elder White