Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27, 2012

This week was insane. I don't know where to begin. I've been pretty sick as of late and this week I finally started feeling good, so I felt like I was released from a cage and set free. I finally had enough energy to go crazy in the work. I was so happy and we saw so many cool miracles and blessings this week!

The zone as a whole is doing amazing things, however last week we realized to meet our monthly new investigator goal as a zone we needed a huge week of finding this week. So I called out Monday and announced that it was "Finding Week" and our wonderful zone all got on board. We worked hard, Heavenly Father blessed us so much, and we crushed our goal with an absolutely amazing week of finding. I love TaoYuan!

This transfer is going to be crazy. Because of the new mission president switch, this transfer will only be 5 weeks. However, we still have to go on the same number of exchanges. So it's going to be crazy. This week I only had 2 hours of proselyting time with my companion until Saturday afternoon. Lots of exchanges, lots of traveling, our zone got 3 new district leaders, so we exchanged with all of them this week, and tried to train them a bit. It was great. Our zone is young, but we've got FIRE!!!

This week I set a personal goal that has changed my mission for the better. Before I tell you the goal I'd like to give you some background. Last week on P-day I purchased frozen yogurt at a self serve kind of place. They completely ripped me off because I'm a foreigner (happens a lot if you're not careful) but because I had already served it up in a cup, I paid... Because of how ridiculously expensive that frozen yogurt was I decided to eat as cheap as possible the rest of the week. Saturday I was in the store buying my dinner when a man I had contacted on a bus 1 month before came up and started talking to me. He remembered me and wanted to buy me lunch. I was excited, but I did the polite thing and said "oh no, you don't have to do that, it's not necessary" and so he said, oh, ok, and left. I found out that in Taiwan the culturally acceptable thing to do is just accept the offer the first time. I really wanted to save some money and let this man pay for my lunch, but I failed... Fast forward later that day. We are watching "Finding Faith in Christ" a DVD about Christ's life, with an investigator. In  the movie Jesus helps a man selling fruit and the man gives him a piece of fruit. Jesus doesn't decline, just willingly accepts and eats the fruit. I'm trying to be like Jesus, so I set a goal that anytime anyone offered me something, I'll just accept. So far So Good. Here's the list of things I've been given in the last 7 days: A calendar, a peach, a drink from a drink shop, an entire cake, Sushi, soy milk, a chicken, 2 bracelets (given on separate occasion by different people), another cake, a chicken sandwich, and a guitar. Yes that last one was a guitar. This personal goal is amazing!

This week was full of great miracles. Too many to possibly count and write about them all, but I'll tell you one of my favorites. I was talking to a man on the scooter next to me at a red light. He was having nothing of it. After being rejected by him the light turned green and I started to ride off. As me and the rest of the scooters at the light began driving off I looked around and yelled to a man a couple scooters away saying "Hey! Pull over." To my surprise he did. I was excited. So the first thing I said was, "Why are you willing to pull over so suddenly." His reply "I've really been wanting to come back to church, but haven't been brave enough to." I said "what do you mean come back?" and then I found out he was baptized 3  years ago in another ward in TaoYuan. He was active for 1 year and then fell into inactivity. He had really been wanting to come back, but had been scared of what others might think, and feared not knowing people, because he has since moved into our ward boundaries. We set up a time to meet the following night. He brought his girlfriend, she became a new investigator, and they both attended church together yesterday. Such a huge miracle, all from talking to the 1 extra person after the light has already turned green.

Another blessing of staying in TaoYuan is watching my recent converts progress in the gospel. Brother Chi got the Melchizedek priesthood a couple weeks ago (I don't know how, it hadn't even been close to 1 year, but maybe because his baptism was the last day of 2011?) Brother Chen Nature got the Aaronic priesthood this week. Everyone else is doing so great. Brother Tsai ran into a huge temptation this week. He had some old friends making fun of him and trying to do everything they could to get him to smoke. He said it was super hard and he almost gave in, but he said he overcame the temptation and resisted! This week's best recent convert story is LiAn. We attended the combined young men young women Sunday School because we had an investigator in there. And LiAn shared a scripture in Mosiah 27:3. She said she likes this scripture because she feels like everyone needs to know the gospel. Then she got emotional and talked about how badly she wants her brother and mom to get baptized. She's great, she really encourages them at home to pray and read. She really is setting a great example for her family. After hearing her testimony I became even more determined to help her mom and brother get baptized. Her mom paid tithing yesterday, she's living all the commandments, including tithing, despite not willing to be baptized right now. It's really funny, when I first got to Tao3 the area had really been struggling with teaching lessons with members present. That's all changed now and a big part is the fact that all our recent converts help us. I love this place, and all these converts are a bunch of my best friends.

The Lord is continuing to bless us here. I'll be honest I had a couple thoughts of doubt at the beginning of this week, I've been here so long now, I had found so many new investigators, I was feeling like I was just tired of the area and had found all that could have possibly been prepared. Those are not faithful thoughts, those are not thoughts that lead to success, those were selfish and prideful. I said a prayer and went to work. The Lord taught me a lot this week. I really feel so blessed to be here, in TaoYuan, in Taiwan, on a mission. This mission has been so amazing, I've learned things I couldn't have learned in any other way. I know without a doubt the gospel is true, there is nothing in the world more important to me right now than making that known to the people of Taiwan. I love the Lord. I love his gospel. I'm thankful for his sacrifice.

I love each of you, you're in my prayers,
Elder White

Also, My 22 year old companion shaved for the first time this week!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20, 2012

The last week of the transfer finished on a great note. Brother Chen Zi Ran was baptized and confirmed. It was a wonderful service and his testimony is continuing to grow. He bore great testimony after he was baptized. He was really pumped to have his sins remissed. It's so great when people have that kind of desire, a desire for the atonement to take effect in their lives. He's going to make a great member.

The next big news is that it was move calls here in the Taibei Taiwan Mission. It was a crazy one for the whole mission. I will be staying with Elder Sheng for number 5 in TaoYuan and number 2 with Elder Sheng. I finally have a companion for more than 1 transfer!!! The other crazy part is Elder Miller, who has been in TaoYuan longer than me in our neighboring ward, will also stay. It's at least five more weeks of faith and fun here in TaoYuan. It's only a 5 week transfer because President Grimley leaves in 6 weeks, and he wants to have the new move call done before President Day takes over. It will be so weird having a new mission president. I will miss President Grimley a lot. It will interesting to see how the mission changes.

We are still working with the Huang family here. The brother and mother are still coming to church but say they need more time. The daughter that was baptized 3 weeks ago is doing great. She goes to every church activity, and is growing in her testimony. This week they had their grandma over when we went to visit them. Their grandma wanted to learn and she even came to church with them this weekend. It was wonderful. She was fellowshipped nicely by the bishop's parents. We're meeting with them tonight, so we've really got to help them overcome their concerns so they can enter the waters of baptism. Sister Huang (the mom) has started paying tithing despite not being baptized yet.

This week is a little short since last time I emailed you was last Wednesday. This weekend however we had an activity at another chapel here in TaoYuan. I actually have no idea what it really was, but there were lots of elderly people at the church and they had a bunch of different companies come with tables set up. It wasn't a church sponsored activity, but they wanted a couple companionships of missionaries there to help out, and take pictures as well because the newspapers were there. I ended up bao-ing zhongzis. I'm not quite sure how to say that in English. But you take 2 leaves, fold them up, stuff them with rice and some other stuff, and then fold them into a triangle shape and tie them to a string. It doesn't sound too difficult, but I found it impossible. The Ahmas (elderly women) were getting pretty impatient with me, so with damaged self confidence in my folding leaves and stuffing them with rice abilities I ending up holding the pole that the strings were attached to that the Ahmas would tie the leaves up with. That was a lot more difficult to mess up.

This week was another solid week altogether. Last night, the last 2 hours of the week, I thought I was going to collapse I was so tired. We're going to go for a little bit more laid back p-day here today so that we can be well rested for this new transfer.

I'm looking forward to continue to serve here in TaoYuan. The ward was pretty excited to hear we were both staying. The other set of Elders in our ward are being white washed out by my old companion Elder Bogle and his new trainee. It should be really fun serving around Elder Bogle again. It's going to be a great transfer. I will continue to teach Elder Sheng lots of English he wont ever use here in Taiwan.

I hope everyone reading this can read their scriptures everyday.
Love you all
Elder Bruce White

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15, 2012

 Elder Sheng

 A drunk aborigihne who taught elder miller and I how to fight

 Playing on P-Day

 Brother Tsai's baptism

 a pic of the card NAmi made for brother Tsai's baptism 

Hello everyone, 

What a wonderful week. Mostly because Yang LiAn got confirmed and Tsai YongSheng was baptized and confirmed. Also Chen ZiRan passed his baptismal interview last week and will be baptized this Saturday. YAY!!! BAPTISM!!!

Last week I got pretty sick. My companion really carried us. He's a great missionary.

It's pretty crazy to think that this is the last week of the transfer. Time flies. I don't remember much of last week. I had an intense headache all week long. I know that we still worked hard.

Obviously the big highlight was brother Tsai's baptism. He finally made it. He was so happy. He said he was the happiest he's ever been. He had the biggest smile on his face and gave me a big hug in the font. Haha. He shared some sweet testimony after he was baptized. It was such a long effort helping him make it, but in the end it was all worth it. After inviting him to nag his boss so many times, or quit his work, his boss had finally given in, with a huge blessing from Heavenly Father. His work is one where it's not realistic to be able to take every Sunday off, but he got it!!! Miracles really do happen. We met with him Monday after his confirmation and he rode up on his bike and got off with a huge smile on his face, happy as can be, and said "Congratulations to me." I went in to my boss this morning and set up resting on the Sabbath for the whole year. He said "Heavenly Father really hears our prayers, He really hears our prayers!!"

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and experience the joy of the gospel. I've learned so much about the happiness that true gospel living brings. It's been amazing to see the gospel and the gift of the holy ghost change others lives. Their countenance really does change when they receive that gift, confirming the truth of this restored gospel. True priesthood power and authority is on the earth again to bless our lives. I love being a part of bringing these truths to my brothers and sisters in Taiwan.

I love the gospel!! I love the church! I love my Savior!

I love being a missionary.
Elder White

Monday, May 7, 2012

VICTORY! May 6, 2012

 The rock says Bo Jue, which is my Chinese name

 Elder Miller and Eye sipping our "Winter melon tea (no caffeine), add ice cream, add mint." They thought we were crazy when we ordered it. but it'd be crazy not to order it.  (NOTE: I left the eye because that's how he wrote it. I don't know if it means something or if his English has deteriorated that much.)
 We played soccer one p-day and kicked the ball really hard. It hit Elder Miller's leg and made that mark, which lasted for three days.
 The motel says Bo Jue, my Chinese name
 "sauce district, access to your own, thank you!"
 The shirt says funky fresh. Elder Sheng's favorite English word.
 My new Jeremy Lin pencil bag. I get people self contacting me now because they see it in my back pack. I found a new investigator this week who was willing to learn about Christianity because of Jeremy.
 These are 2 of my English students, really funny little girls, the younger one just turned 8 and got baptized last week, they lived in Belize when they were younger so they're English is sweet.
 Some drunk people we ran into playing the guitar and partying. They wanted us to jam with them and me to sing English, so Elder Sheng grabbed the guitar, and I sang some song I made up calling them to repent and leave their evil ways. They didn't understand a word of it but they really loved it.

 Some cool Taiwanese advertisement with a white guy on it
 The one and only drinking fountain in all of Taiwan!!
Elder Sheng counting to check if the key chain really had 50 stars on it
 LiAn's baptism

Victory, Victory, In Jesus Christ our Lord! I've been in a battle with Satan for Brother Tsai Yong Sheng ever since I got here in TaoYuan. Over the course of the last 5 months he's had some big ups and some big downs. He's kept his faith unshaken through it all. Let me tell you what is going on. Let's begin last week. We reviewed the restoration using Joseph Smith's History, we talked about how right before the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph he faced great opposition and temptation from the adversary. It was perfect because every time he gets close he runs into some serious attacks from the adversary. He related really well to the story and it was a strong spiritual lesson. Then he went a few days, attended a baptism, and at the baptism talked with one of the brothers in our ward about how he's feeling the adversary really strongly in his life tempting him not to pray and read. This last Tuesday we decided to share a strong scripture based lesson, then we decided to take the last 10 minutes and talk about priesthood blessings. After, we asked him if he would like one. Brother Zhao gave him a beautiful blessing. The spirit was so strong, and at the end of the blessing brother Tsai got up and said his feeling was amazing. He'd never felt anything so good before. Then Thursday we met with him again. He said he had talked to his boss yet again about getting Sunday off, but this time he was very bold, and his boss said he'll set it up. He was so excited and said "I'm getting baptized this month."

Sunday was stake conference and he came, and loved it. (he's been to church enough to get baptized, just can't live the Sabbath day commandment). After church I asked him if he'll be able to rest every Sunday from here on out, or if it's still just once every 2-3 months. He said every Sunday. Then I said to him, well in that case do you want to get baptized Saturday? He grinned ear to ear. And we set up a baptismal interview. I sat outside the interview room door praying and worrying. 30 minutes later Brother Tsai walked out of the room teary eyed. He walked right up to me and gave me a big hug. He's getting baptized this Saturday. He and I are the 2 happiest people on the entire island. All the prayers, fasting, lost sleep, worry, and even some tears were all worth it in the end. The ward is all really excited for him. Keep him in your prayers.

This week we also had Yang LiAn's baptism. It was wonderful. She was really happy. Things went really smoothly. The Relief Society sisters gave her mother the right kind of pressure. The mother has every intention to be baptized. She just says she needs more time. I know the family will all make it. I'm really happy LiAn was able to feel it, recognize it, and trust it, so she could set the example for her family. Her baptism was so great, so spiritual, great ward support. It's such a beautiful thing to see someone put their trust in God, and enter into the covenant of baptism with him. Being a missionary is the greatest thing in the whole wide world.

We have an investigator, "Nature" Chen, who is also progressing really well. We met with him this week and talked to him about his baptismal date on 5/19. He said he doesn't think he can make it because he's only in 2nd Nephi. We then informed him he didn't need to read the whole Book of Mormon to be baptized. He said, "that makes more sense, I was wondering how brother Hong did it so fast." (Brother Hong is a recent convert of the other elder's companionship in our ward, and he was baptized in about 2 months between the time he was contacted until baptism). Then Nature said, "but if I make my goal I'll be faster!" haha He's hilarious. He's just got to hear tithing, so he'll hopefully have his baptism interview this weekend. Yesterday he attended stake conference with us. After about the 3rd straight speaker who got up and said they were nervous and had been dreading having to talk in front of everyone, he looked to me and said something along the lines of "What's up with this? Isn't our church all about agency? Why does everyone feel like they're being forced to speak?" Haha He's super funny. His prayers are so amazing when we meet with him. I hope I get to see him baptized in this transfer.

I'll report on one more soul I've been working with here in TaoYuan, that is Ru Pei Yuan, the nametag miracle. He was doing really well for a while there. He had 3 weeks straight coming to church, wasn't fully living the commandments, but was doing better, and was praying. Then last week he stole his dad's car and took it for a joy ride, wrecked it, and was kicked out of the house by his dad. He is currently living in a 1 room hostel, he had to go find work, and he's got a horrible job at a movie theatre. When I went and visited him he had the equivalent of USD $1.40, that's it. He had eaten one bowl of rice in 2 days. The consequences of his decisions have caught up to him, just as they always do. He's now having to work 40 hours a week, while going to night high school so that he can actually graduate, and has just enough money to pay for rent, gas, and the blandest of foods. I'm trying to help him find a job that will allow him to rest on Sunday's, because he's willing if his job allows. Pray for him, It's pretty rough for a 19 year old kid.

This week was one of the greatest of my mission. Besides all the good news concerning investigators we had an amazing zone leader council up in Taibei, I learned so much. It was such an edifying and uplifting meeting. And, I can't lie, it also felt really good when each zone did their report on new investigators and baptism and I was able to report that our zone is leading the mission in baptisms and set a record for finding new investigators in one month. Highest any zone's every found in one month in President Grimley's time. The TaoYuan Zone is doing so well. So many souls are coming unto Christ and our missionaries are all so amazing.

This week also included an awesome exchange with Elder Miller, always a blast. We listened to some really cool audio clips of prophets and apostles bearing testimony with a musical background of piano hymns. It made us inspired to make our own. We bore testimony and read scriptures as if we were southern preachers, all to the background hymn of As Sister's in Zion. Elder Miller has it all recorded, it was really powerful stuff. Really great companionship study.

Another great news from Stake Conference is Brother Chi, the first person I baptized here in TaoYuan, received the Melchizedek Priesthood at stake conference this week. I don't know how it can happen that fast, but he was sustained to the office of an Elder. It's really great to see him progress.

In other great news I found out that Brother Tsai, the one getting baptized this weekend, used to be an advertisement model, and he's been on the cover of a motorcycle magazine. I'm baptizing a male model. Sweet.

So I'm always dead tired at the end of the day, I think that's just called being a missionary, but this week I had one day where I was incredibly tired, probably the most tired I've ever been while still awake. We got home and planned from 9-9:30, then made calls from 9:30 to 10 just like everyday. At about 9:50 while Elder Sheng was still making calls I went in the bedroom, that's about all I remember, because I literally collapsed on my bed. The next thing I knew I woke up at 5:00 A.M. laid out on my bed in full missionary dress. Really confused but still dead tired I untied my tie, took off my white shirt, and went back to sleep until 6. I was wiped out. My companion then told me the next day that I looked dead laid out on the bed. The most tired I've been ever in my life. AND I LOVE IT

The Church is true. Missions are awesome. Brother Tsai is getting baptized. Brother Tsai is getting baptized. I could say it a million times. I'm so excited!!!

I love you all,
Elder White