Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012

Last p-day in DanShui

What a week here in TaoYuan. I don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start with yesterday, what was probably the most dramatic day of my mission. The drama was all about the Huang family's oldest daughter. This week with meeting we met with them and they were all doing well. The mother and son weren't quite ready for baptism, but the daughter was. She's been praying and reading and growing in her testimony. She always reminds her mom to keep the Word of Wisdom if Sister Huang wants to drink coffee. She prepared and wanted to be baptized so we set up an interview for her before church. She was a little nervous about being first before her mom and brother but she wanted it. Then Yesterday morning before church she did the interview with the district leader. She failed the interview. I was astonished. I've done about 20 baptismal interviews as a missionary, and I was positive she was prepared. The other frustrating part was that the district leader didn't say why she failed. He just said that she was nervous. I had the worst feeling the rest of the day. I knew she was prepared, and I was really sick to my stomach all day. Then at 9 o'clock the district leader called and said he was sorry, he'd prayed about it, and she should have passed. He said that if she still want's to get baptized she can. So we immediately called her, explained the situation, and she said she wants to and is really excited!!! A complete 180. I'm really thankful because I knew she was worthy to be baptized and wanted it. She's going to get baptized this week!!! Set the example for her mother and younger brother. It's wonderful. I've been praying lately to better understand the fall and the idea of needing to know sorrow to know joy. I think I learned my lesson yesterday. I felt even more happy for LiAn than if she had just passed the interview in the morning. Really dramatic day, going all day feeling like she should've passed, and then hearing the good news that the District Leader prayed about it and admitted he'd made a mistake. BAPTISM!!!

A great highlight of this week has been teaching Elder Sheng English. Every night at 10:30 when we're in our beds falling asleep I give him a little English lesson. He's learned some great stuff. I gave him a new English name this week, "Half Man Half Amazing." So when people ask him what his English name is, he says "Half Man Half Amazing." He also likes to say things are "funky fresh." I taught him that one, and then like 2 days after I taught it to him, we contacted a man in a shirt that said funky fresh. I spent one night teaching him all the cheesiest pick up lines I could think of. Including this one. Guy: "Did it hurt?" Girl "Did what hurt?" Guy "When you fell from heaven." Really cheesy. He was excited to show the Elders in the district what he learned the next day. He said "Are you hurt" response "No, Why?" Elder Sheng: "When you fell in heaven." It was a great attempt. Then last night as we were leaving our apartment after dinner to go out and work, I put on a sweater, then I said "I hope it's not too hot." Elder Sheng then said "I hope either." Long story short, I love working with Elder "Half man half amazing" Sheng.

Last week my recent convert here in TaoYuan Brother Chen HaoYun, was really sad because he was looking for new work and almost everywhere required him to work on Sundays. He was really sad and was worried about finding a job. I told him he knows the commandments and he knows that keeping the commandments will make him happy, then I told him it's up to him. He called me later this week, excited as can be, and informed me he got new work, and that he can rest on Sundays!! He's going to work at TGI Fridays. Funny story, TGI Friday's is like everyone is Taiwan's favorite restaurant. It's super expensive here and they think its basically America. It's really funny.

A huge highlight this week was Elder Gong from the seventy and Asia Area Presidency came and did a mission tour and met with every zone. It was wonderful. I learned so much. He's such an amazing man. He and his wife both served missions here in Taiwan. It was a great meeting and great experience. Afterward he had enough time to interview a couple missionaries and I had the opportunity to have an interview with him. It was wonderful. It was about 20 minutes, just sitting with a General Authority sharing our testimonies, him asking me questions, me asking him questions. It was a very cool experience. Elder Gong is a very quiet soft spoken man, but yet speaks with so much spiritual power. It was really great to be trained by him and then have that really cool experience of talking with him. I'm very thankful I was given that opportunity.

Overall this week was really good. There were definitely some downs, it got off to a slower start, but there were so many miracles this week, I'm super thankful. I love being a missionary and I love serving in TaoYuan. I love it when people get baptized!!! Nothing makes me happier.

I'm SOOO TIRED. Last night I was so excited to get in my bed and go to sleep. It was a great week, and we worked really really hard, saw miracles, and then collapsed last night. That's just how it should be. I'm probably going to try for a more relaxed p-day this week so I can get back out there and continue to help all my wonderful investigators, as well as go and find some more new people the Lord has prepared.

Oh, By The Way, Last weeks P-Day I went to DanShui :) I love that place so much!

Love you all!!
Elder White

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 22, 2012

A Day in the Life (in response to a question from mom)

6:00 alarm sounds, I wake up just as tired as I was when I went to bed, but with a little help from Elder Sheng we get up and head down to our apartment complex's exercise room, where we run on our treadmill for 20-30 minutes. Then we return up to our apartment and do some core workouts, shower, I usually eat 2 pieces of wheat bread for breakfast, and study Chinese until it's time to start personal study.
8:00 personal study
9:00 companionship study
10-10:30 Language study... at this time I usually just continue my study of Chinese characters, but I usually get bored and just start asking Elder Sheng to teach me really advanced Chinese words and idioms.
10:40 we go out the door and start talking to everyone we see. We usually will have one scheduled lesson between 10:40 and 12 when we eat lunch.
12 we go find some vegetarian food to eat, we usually eat some vegetarian noodles, or tofu and vegetables, or some vegetable dumplings, or some steam bread.
1:00 we hit the streets again,contacting everyone we see, we sometimes will have lessons or meetings, until dinner at five where we do what we did at 12.
6-9 we're usually teaching lessons. we stay pretty busy here, if we don't end up having lessons scheduled we're out on the streets contacting.
9 we go home and plan the Lords way, including a hymn sung in English to begin planning session. That's my favorite part with Elder Sheng
9:30 end planning and start a hectic 30 minutes where we are both on the phone confirming the next day's appointments, finding members to help us teach, fielding phone calls from zone missionaries with questions and concerns.
10:00 pm get ready for bed. Study a little Chinese, or straighten up the apartment a bit. pray
10:30 in bed lights out. At this time I usually spend 30 minutes talking with Elder Sheng as we fall asleep, first about our investigators needs, then about how he's gotta work on his English so he can get into American schools and we can be roommates and I can introduce him to American girls.
11-6 get a horrible nights sleep in preparation for the next day.

 Nami... My English student's baptism!! YAY

 On exchanges in Longtan, the Elder on the far right is Elder Benson, the Franks cousin
 My former companion Elder Hauter on his bike
 Elder Miller, Gist, and me looking out over YingGe
 A temple on a lake in Longtan
 More market stuff

 With Ru Pei Yuan, who has been to church 3 times in a row!!!
 This guy was great. I was riding down the street in BaDe, an area in our zone and this guy just yelled "Good Morning" in some hilarious English. So we turned around and talked to him and he let us in his house. He spoke the most broken English one can speak, and he was hilarious. We prayed with him and taught him about the gospel. Then I asked if I could take a picture with him. He really didn't want me to take a picture with him, so I started sneaking pictures. Eventually he gave in. But it was probably the funniest 15 minutes of my mission thus far.

  Me and an Elder Lin, one of my favorite missionaries!
 Huang family!!! My current favorite investigators
 This is me and the Huang family. This picture is against the rules, but I think it's funny. We lined up for the picture and Sister Huang last second linked arms with me... Because I'm the really awkward missionary I should be, I naturally freaked out, but it was too late. Notice how awkward my hand is. I think this is really funny.

 Me and the Zhao family, some of my favorite members, check out Brother Zhao's fresh bowtie
Picture with Doris, an 8 year old girl I did the baptismal interview for
 A shot of my new companion Elder Sheng

A couple shots over my kingdom, TaoYuan

Me and my convert, Brother Chi.

Weekly Letter
Hello friends and family,

Yet another great week here in TaoYuan. Time continues to fly, faster and faster. I don't know where it all goes. I don't know where to begin. It was just another fantastic week. I really love my new companion. It's a blessing to serve with such a great missionary, Elder Sheng is the man. I can begin this week's email by telling you about my Saturday morning companionship study. Friday to Saturday we had the Assistants come on exchanges with us. It was myself, Elder Sheng, and an Elder Fang, also Taiwanese. That night we had an appointment scheduled to meet with an Indian, so I used that as an excuse to make them spend a majority of companionship study role playing teaching in English to each other. It was the greatest! I made them practice giving baptismal invitations in English. One of the better companionship studies I've had on my mission.

Another great thing that happened this week was our ward was privileged to have President Perkins of the Seventy, and the President of the Asia Area come and visit our Sacrament meeting. He gave a great talk on the sacrament, and what it means. I learned a lot. That was pretty cool.

This week we also had interviews with President Grimley. I informed him that I would be extending. So it's official, I come home at the end of January next year. I feel good about this decision. I will miss that semester of school, but I feel that it's what the Lord wants me to do. President Grimley was really supportive. He said that was the time of year he ended his mission. I feel good about the decision. It was hard to make, but I know as long as we're doing the Lord's will, we'll never regret it.

To answer your question about the apartment situation, it's just me and my companion in the apartment. If I'm not mistaken there is only one apartment in the entire mission that has more than one companionship. The apartment I'm in right now is very nice, in an upscale building complex with a lot of amenities we don't have the opportunity to take advantage of. We don't ever cook at home, breakfast sometimes, but other than that, nope. Food outside is so cheap in Taiwan, it's quicker, and if you're eating outside you have the opportunity to continue to talk to people as you eat.

Let's talk about some of my people. The Huang family is doing great. The kids are both going to be interviewed for baptism this week. The mom still needs some time. She's good with everything, except the 1st of the 10 commandments, not having any other Gods. She feels that if she gets baptized she'll offend these "other Gods" who she believes have blessed her and helped her. So she's come to the conclusion that she needs a sign, big blessing, strong feeling before she turns away from the other Gods. She loves prayer, she believes in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, keeps the commandments, and in all honesty can pass the baptismal interview, just knows that by being baptized she commits fully to Jesus Christ. So please pray for her. I want her to get baptized with the children, but I've also learned that if a family has some prepared but not all, it's best to move forward with those prepared, and go ahead and baptize them. I can't wait to see those kids baptized. I know the mom will be soon to follow. Yesterday Sister Huang asked me if she could pay tithing without being baptized.... that's how good she is.

We met with Brother Tsai twice this week. We had some really powerful lessons. He'll be asking his boss again today for Sunday's off. It hasn't really gotten anywhere in the past, but maybe this continuous asking with eventually get to his boss. He's so close. This is all he needs. He saw me reading from my pocket size English Book of Mormon yesterday and was really disappointed to learn they don't have that size in Chinese, because he really wants to be able to read it at work. I feel like he just DESERVES to be baptized. But I don't know how else more to help him.

Our less active brother Ru's friend, Li met with us twice this week and is progressing super fast. He's great. Really one of the most golden people I've met. I bought him a tie this week that he could wear at church. He loved it. It was so great. Next to the Huang family he's probably our next baptism.

I look forward to this next week. Elder Gong from the 70 will be touring the mission and training. When he comes to the TaoYuan zone they have selected four Elders for one-on-one interviews with him. I was on the list!!! I'm super excited, I know it will be such a good learning experience. He spoke to us in the MTC when I was there, it was definitely one of my favorite talks while I was there. It's going to be great. I hope his nephew had good things to say when we were companions in DanShui... haha.

The zone is doing great. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love Taiwan. I love my Heavenly Father, and my Savior Jesus Christ.

I love all of you.
Elder White

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Great week to begin my 10th transfer in here in Taiwan. Pretty crazy to write that out. I never thought I'd hit my 10th transfer. I'm pretty sure I just walked off the airplane last week. I have no idea where time has gone, but I'm thankful for every minute of this opportunity that I've had. Being a missionary is such an amazing experience. I love teaching and testifying of the Gospel.

This week went by so fast. I don't even remember much of what happened. I love my new companion, Elder Sheng. He is Taiwanese. He is an amazing missionary. He is vegan. This is due to the fact that he has a serious skin allergy and the eating of meats, eggs, etc. can intesify his skin allergy. Therefore, in honor of Elder Sheng, and to develop district unity, all the Elders in our district are vegetarian this transfer (with the exception of one who's holding out). It's been pretty fun.

Elder Sheng has a great story. He was baptized at age 10 with his family (mother, father, younger brother.) They then went to the temple 1 year later and were sealed. Then they slowly went inactive. Elder Sheng went to college and went really inactive, got caught up in the party kind of lifestyle and ended up flunking out of college. At that time he prayed to Heavenly Father for direction, and felt prompted that Heavenly Father wanted him to serve a mission. So he made the neccessary changes to do so. His family is still inactive but his mom has since been getting back into the church. He's come out to serve the Lord and has done a great job. He's a really incredible missionary. It's really great working with him.

The TaoYuan zone is on fire. Things are amazing here. The work here couldn't get much better. As far as our area, the Huang family is doing great. We taught them the Word of Wisdom this last week and they were taken back a bit, but they committed to live it. Then later in the week we dropped off a card and some drinks (that we could drink) to them and left it with the man at the front desk of their apartment building. They loved it! They will be interviewed for baptism either this weekend or next. Pray for them.

Another great miracle this week came after visiting with Ru PeiYuan (the nametag story, less active). He's begun coming back to church and doing a bit better. My current companion is also a big help. The miracle though is that as we were leaving their apartment complex the other day I invited a kid out front to church this Sunday. Not a very good contact or anything, just told him the time and location (we didn't have much time to talk). Didn't even think anything else of it... until Sunday. When Ru PeiYuan showed up with him to church. The kid's name is Li, and he knew that we knew PeiYuan so he got a hold of PeiYuan and came to church with him. Stayed all 3 hours, loved it! He's really inteligent and tried to answer all the questions in Young Mens. Then after church we sat down and had a lesson with him. He set a baptismal date, said he felt the spirit. He goes to a high school really far away so he lives in the dorms Monday through Friday. These are his words. "I can't come here and meet too often because I'm not in TaoYuan Monday through Friday, but if you give me the Book of Mormon, I can study it on my own." Miraculous was that this was before we even had talked about the Book of Mormon or given one to him. He set up a time to meet with us next Saturday, but he also said he's not sure how his mom with react because she is Taoist. He said he'd ask her this week, and I said we'd call and confirm his time Friday and see if it'd be ok. A few hours later he called and said he'd talked to his mom, she's totally fine with it, and that he's excited to meet Saturday. It was pretty sweet!

Our area is so busy. I feel bad because there are people who have a lot of potential that I feel sometimes fall through the cracks because we have no time to meet with them. We are so busy, it's really great! I wouldn't have it any other way but our investigator pool is massive right now. This combined with the zone responsibilities and organizing meetings/exchanges has forced me to be a lot more organized person. It's been a great learning experience. I love TaoYuan, it's amazing how many really prepared people live in our tiny area. I know the Lord is definitely preparing them.

I honestly can't believe how fast time flies. I love this mission. I honestly don't ever want it to end.
The gospel is true!

Taiwan's humid season has begun. Buckle up.
Elder White

***This next section was in answer to some of our questions:***

Brother Tsai met with us last week, he knows his problem is the Sabbath, he knows that he should be in church, he takes a lot of crap about the church at work, and so sometimes he gets in these little spurts of reading just the Bible and not the Book of Mormon. When that happens he always says he feels a difference, doesn't feel as good. One of the biggest problems is that the boss lets those guys with wives and kids rest the weekend, so he never has a day off. We're meeting with him tonight at the Bishop's house. Should be a good lesson. The lesson with him this week was pretty powerful and he committed to do whatever the Lord tells him to do in order to overcome this problem. 

My mission president has 1 more transfer after this one. so like 2 1/2 months. Last week at zone leader council I had the weirdest thought flash through my mind, of holding that meeting with a different mission president at the head of the table. It will be crazy, I'm going to miss President Grimley. I feel like he is a perfect mission president and I really have a lot of respect for him. I know very little about President Day. I have no idea what he'll be like. However I do know that he is called of God by a living prophet. It'll be interesting but I'm excited.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 8, 2012

Wow... Today marks the start of my 10th transfer as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on the island of Taiwan. (That's the name of the church in English right?). My English has become really awful. Apologies. 

I cannot wait for this transfer to play out. I have been privileged to stay in the TaoYuan 3rd ward!! I'm so excited. The even better part.... my new companion. Elder Sheng. A native Taiwanese. He is sweet. I was his district leader back when I was in DanShui. On an exchange with him one day, I told him "one day we will be zone leaders together"... That day has come! It's going to be so great here in the TaoYuan zone, and in the TaoYuan 3rd ward. Elder Sheng is coming up from being a district leader and he's only on his 9th transfer. It's great--the 2 youngest Zone Leaders in the mission (as far as transfers) are together. It's going to be a lot of fun. Elder Sheng is an awesome missionary with a lot of fire, an amazing conversion story, and he's ridiculously talented on the guitar. This transfer will be great!!

This week was great! We watched general conference the past 2 days here in Taiwan. What a fantastic time it is every 6 months. Living prophets and apostles with restored priesthood keys and authority teaching and testifying of Jesus Christ. Can't get much better than that. I know without a doubt that Thomas S. Monson is a called prophet of God. He holds all the keys and the rights to the priesthood. I full heartedly sustain and support him as president of this true church.

Of course everyone asks the same question after conference "Which talk was your favorite?" It's so hard to pick just one, but I really liked the talk by Elder Hallstrom about being converted to the Gospel and not just the church, and the relationship between the two.

The work was great here in TaoYuan. We're are continuing to see miracles. There is some disappointment with some investigators, but there is even more excitement and good news. The Huang family!!! They are progressing so nicely. They are loving church. Reading and praying. We taught them the 10 commandments and the Sabbath day. And they committed to living it. All we've got left is Word of Wisdom and tithing and they are there!! I think that neither of these should be a big problem. They are so great! Every time I teach them I just don't want to leave.

Another investigator who's made lots of progress is named Tsai Hai Zhu (not my other brother Tsai). Tsai Hai Zhu has met with us for 6 weeks now. When he began meeting he was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Within the 1st two weeks of him meeting with us I taught him the Word of Wisdom and we made a plan for him to quit smoking. Right now he's down to 4 cigarettes a day, and his countenance is completely changed.

All is great here in TaoYuan. I cannot wait to pick up my new companion in a couple hours. We're going to see so many miracles. This work is so great. The church is true. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, let us all consecrate ourselves to live it more fully as we live our daily lives and become better disciples of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He Lives!

CTR always.
Elder White
Sister Chen's baptism. The family is the Zhao Family, they were great in fellowshipping her. The little kid is their son. He is sweet and his english name is Dynomite!!

 some shots of morning burger. Chen Hao Yun's place of work, my favorite.
 The other huge burgers were 14 ounces. This lady saw us eating bread in the park, felt bad, and invited us into her restaurant to eat a 14 ounce burger, after which her worker became our investigator. Finding new souls even during lunch time... I love it!
 The bowling is the best district picture in the history of missionary work... it was our P-day activity
 Me playing ping pong on P-day
 The waterfalls are at an amusement park on Pday

 Those little chocolates cost a ton of money... so much that we were shocked to the point of buying them to see what they were all about and then eat nothing but bread the next day