Monday, August 27, 2012

August 26, 2012

Me and a man named "Underground Frank" He helps missionaries buy stuff for way cheap
 A couple pics of our ward activity

Brother Xu Juan Jie teaching a bunch of recent converts and investigators how to tie a tie 
 Our church on the subway map... notice the cross

  Elder Honeycutt on exchanges. 

My view from my desk.

Good Morning!!

What a wonderful week here in the outskirts of west Taipei. The highlight of the week was most definitely 2 people entering into the waters of baptism. However it wasn't as simple as originally planned. Brother Guo (80 years old) and Brother Yang were both scheduled to be baptized Saturday night. Saturday afternoon we went to a concert put on by the mission and we were a little bit behind schedule as we returned. Let the stress involved when holding a baptism begin!! Luckily one of the other missionary companionships in our ward didn't go so they were there to begin setting up for the baptism, filling the font, etc. However when we got to the 7 o'clock baptism at 6:58, only one investigator was there. 

Brother Yang had changed clothes and was all ready for his baptism, but Grandpa Guo was nowhere to be found. We immediately rushed over to his house, only to find his wife and grandson, but no Brother Guo. They informed us that he had been at the church at 6:30 in the morning, because he thought his baptism was at 7 a.m. not 7 p.m. He also wasn't home that evening. I was devastated but determined not to let Brother Guo's absence influence my attitude for Brother Yang's baptism. Brother Yang's baptism was an amazing spiritual experience. Following his baptism the bishop heard of Brother Guo's situation and said that he could be baptized the next day following church meetings. We were so thrilled!!!

Brother Guo's baptism was outstanding!! Everyone in the ward was there because it was right after church. He was so funny. He's a super sarcastic 80 year old man. Everyone in the ward loves him. All the little children loved watching him get baptized. I was very nervous baptizing an 80 year old man, but it only took one time, and it was very smooth. After the baptism, while he and I were changing into dry clothes, I informed him that he would be asked to share his testimony, and I went over with him about 4 or 5 times that when he wants to end, he needs to say "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Grandpa Guo is definitely a slower learner, but I thought he got it. Then when the time came for him to share his testimony he got up and read a part of the missionary lesson pamphlet we gave him about baptism. He finished, and looked right at me as if to say "I forgot what I'm supposed to say.'' He then went on to say what would be the Chinese equivalent of "whatever!'' and walked off the stand. It was really,really, really funny. I love him. He's a true miracle.

The first time I met with Brother Guo, my companion, Elder Su, informed me he comes to church weekly, but he can't really understand the missionary lessons, so he hadn't been able to progress and they don't really meet with him, they just stop by to say hi on occasion. I felt bad, knowing that Brother Guo loved church. However after my first visit I felt like I knew what my companion meant. I then prayed for Brother Guo the following day and had a feeling we should go back and visit him again. I drew on a paper Heavenly Father and said "That's God." I drew Jesus and wrote he's the Son of God, and I drew the Holy Ghost with dotted lines and said he doesn't have a body. The following day at church he shared what he learned with some people in Sunday School! I thought this could work so the next visit I wrote on a paper in Chinese "How to get back to Heavenly Father'' and I drew 5 stairs labeled ''Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Endure to the End." It seemed like it was hard for him to understand, but the following Sunday at church he started telling people he wanted to be baptized. We were astonished, so we began this teaching method of writing things very simply on paper and drawing pictures to help him learn. He started getting it. Then came the Word of Wisdom. He laughed at me. Told me I was crazy, and grabbed a big box full of tea. I told him he couldn't be baptized unless he kept the Word of Wisdom, thinking he wouldn't accept. I told him even if he's not willing to live it we still want him to come to church every week. Then he said "Elder White, I don't care if you're there or not, I'll be at church every week." I laughed and we left. The following visit he informed me that he was living all of the Word of Wisdom with the exception of still smoking. I was shocked. He said he would quit smoking, but that he still had time because his baptismal date was still a month away. Then the following Sunday the lesson in Sunday School was the Word of Wisdom. After that day he quit smoking!!! It was a miracle as the Lord helped us find a way to communicate and teach Brother Guo so that he could learn and prepare for baptism! The Spirit speaks all languages, including bad Chinese handwriting with little pictures. The Spirit did its part and Brother Guo is now baptized!

This week our mission had a concert done by Michael Mclean, an LDS songwriter. The good part was pretty much all of the mission was invited. I got to see Elder Sheng, my last companion in TaoYuan and his new zone leader companion Elder Vandenberghe, my MTC companion! They're having a blast and it's good to know that my old area is in such good hands. The best part though was that they brought up an investigator name Brother Huang. Brother Huang was someone I found just before I left TaoYuan, and they informed me that now he is close to baptism!!! It was such a nice surprise. I'm super happy to see that seeds I planted right before leaving an area have grown and are almost ready to harvest! I also was able to see Brother Zhuang, a convert of mine in DanShui who then moved after his baptism, I was able to get his new address so I can stay in contact!!! I also saw a woman I began teaching on my 3rd transfer who we had to refer to another area. I found out that she is now a member!! It was a wonderful day!

In other news the TuCheng ward lacks piano players. I've had to play the piano in priesthood and at baptisms lately. Needless to say I'm a little rusty. It's been a rocky ride. 

This Saturday our ward has a musical fireside. I will be playing the Ukele. I'm debating between performing Radiohead's "Creep" or "Love One Another" I'll let you know next week what I decide on.

I love you all, CTR

Elder White

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012

Wow.... Time flies. I can't believe I'm beginning transfer 13. I can't believe how much I've learned on this mission thus far. I can't wait to continue to learn the things the Lord wants me to learn. I'm so excited to continue to do the Lord's work here in TuCheng. This is a wonderful place. The ward is incredible. The people are friendly. There is nowhere else I'd rather be.

My new companion is an Elder Neal Darley. He is from Layton Utah. Only my second Utah companion! He's definitely an introverted, quiet guy. He's 21 years old and went to Weber State before his mission. He's on his 11th transfer. He's a hard worker and an obedient missionary. I think this week's been a bit stressful for him as he's still adjusting to being a zone leader. That's how it's been for all of my 1st time zone leader companions. But I hope that when he gets settled in and more comfortable he can loosen up a bit and just love the people of TuCheng.

Speaking of people in TuCheng that I love, there's my good friend Grandpa Guo. He is one of the funniest old grandpas you'll ever meet. He's the one that told me I was crazy the first time I taught him the Word of Wisdom. He even went and got out a bunch of his tea and tried to convince me to drink some of it. Now just a few weeks later, after getting an answer this wasn't Elder White's theories or doctrine, but actually a commandment from God, he's quit smoking and drinking tea and coffee. He passed his baptismal interview this last Saturday and will be baptized this week!! I couldn't be happier! He's the funniest old Taiwanese Grandpa.

We also had a Brother Yang pass his interview this week. He's a little bit of a socially awkward man. But he's got a big desire to have the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to follow Christ. I'm looking forward the baptism of these two brothers this Saturday.

Our baptism from last week. Tom Xu, the 17 year old shy kid, helped us teach an investigator this week. We have a newer investigator and I felt like the 2 of them could be good friends, so we asked him to come be our member present at the lesson. At the end of the lesson our investigator talked about how he wanted to come to church, but was worried because his parents don't usually let him go out on Sundays. After the lesson I thanked Tom for helping us, and then he said the cutest thing in the world. He said "Hey, Elder White, I just really hope that Brother Li can come to church Sunday. Can we pray for him?" What a great kid. He loves art, and since being baptized he's drawn a couple pictures. One is of Jesus, and the other is of Joseph Smith. YEAH TOM!!!

In other great news, we've got a couple other younger kids. 2 brothers to be exact. One is 14 and the other 16. They are probably my favorite to teach, because they like fun lessons, and we like to make it fun for them. They're doing great, and if all goes according to our plan they will have their interview this Saturday. Pray for them. The one concern there would be parental guardian permission. They live with their grandma, who I've spoken with several times on the phone. She is very approving of them coming to the church, I just hope she'll approve of them being baptized.

My favorite investigator here is named Brother Andy Huang. He's a great guy. An eternal investigator, and missionaries before had stopped meeting with him. Prior to my coming he had met with missionaries twice in about 9 months, while still coming to church and every imaginable activity every week. My first night in TuCheng I felt impressed to meet with him. And we have been ever since. He's progressed so much in the last 2 months and is working toward his baptismal date of 9/12, his birthday. One of his biggest concerns is that if God loves him why does he have some of his current life trials. Last night he went up to Taipei with us and attended a musical fireside with a man named Michael Mclean, who's done a lot of music for church movies and other stuff. It was a really amazing meeting and everyone who attended felt the Spirit really strongly. The best part was when I looked over to Andy and saw him wiping tears from his eyes. He was feeling it. That's such a huge blessing for him to feel it. I believe he'll act on that feeling and make his 9/12 baptismal date. We're going to go out with him today for p-day as well as with some recent converts. I hope that he can continue to have that spirit with him.

I'm looking forward for what this transfer has in store for us. I really want to continue to baptize here in TuCheng. The Lord has definitely blessed us so far. I know he'll continue to bless us, if we do our part. There are so many magnificent people here that the Lord has prepared and is preparing. I hope that I can help them prepare to enter into the covenant of baptism with him.

I know this is HIS work. It's true.
Elder White

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012

Dearest Friends and Family,

A new transfer begins. Elder Su heads back home to TaiZhong. My new companion arrives this morning, and more adventures and miracles await us in the near future.

I'm going to miss Elder Su. We meshed really well together. It's always hard to leave those types of companions where everything was just really comfortable. He was a great example to me of enduring to the end. He worked hard until the end of his mission, and wasn't "trunky" at all. I still don't know if it's sunk in to him he's going home today. Ha.

This week Elder Su asked me if I had seen his "Double Sized." I was first thrown off because he never speaks English to me. Once that wore off I realized I had no idea what he was talking about. I inquired for more detail and he said something along the lines of " you know, my double sized?"  I was completely lost?? Then he explained to me in Chinese what he wanted. I realized he was referring to his "Double-Sided tape." So this week I've been referring to our double sided tape as double sized, and our regular tape as single sized. His English is getting better!

This week was full of so many amazing things that happened. Let me start with Tom Xu. Great kid. 17 years old. Really shy. Last week he passed his baptismal interview, but was still waiting on his parental permission slip. A lot of times missionaries won't have the investigator do the baptismal interview if they don't have the permission slip already, but here in TuCheng, we choose faith. He passed his interview, then the following day at church said his parent's probably wouldn't sign it, because they think not drinking tea is weird. We were fasting for his parents to agree, and we invited him to continue praying for it. The next day, this last Monday to be exact, he called and informed us he had his parents' permission!!! It was a huge miracle. He was baptized Saturday afternoon and it was a wonderful service. The Lord provided the way.

By far the biggest miracle/highlight this week took place in the Taipei, Taiwan Temple on Tuesday afternoon. At that time the entire Zhang family, father, mother, daughter, and 2 sons were sealed in the temple for eternity by the priesthood power of the Lord. What a miraculous occasion and one I will never forget. Elder Bogle and I were their witnesses. What an absolute privilege to teach a family, see them make it into the waters of baptism, and continue to grow in the gospel over the last 14 months to prepare for this wonderful day. I know that the covenants we make in the temple are real, and that the power that sealed their family was from God. Tears could not be restrained, and the spirit was overwhelming. Hands down the highlight of my mission. 

Elder VanDenBerghe (MTC Comp) was serving in ZhuDong this last transfer, so he got to come up for the sealing. Man I miss that Elder. He's a blast. 

The work in TuCheng continues to be amazing. There should be many more baptisms to follow. The closest is Brother Guo, 80 years old!!! He's the coolest! He took the subway up to stake conference with us yesterday. What a blast that was. He's super funny. He first told me I was crazy when it came to the Word of Wisdom. Now he's living it. I love him so much. I can't wait for his baptism. 

When this last transfer started, I informed Elder Su that I wanted to eat vegetarian. His family is vegetarian and so he was vegetarian before the mission. Toward the start of the transfer he would want to go to this steak place but then remember we weren't eating meat. Friday night for one of his last mission meals I took him to the steak place and bought him a nice steak dinner. (Don't worry, a nice steak dinner here costs like $4 USD) including all you can eat ice cream. I also had a chicken. The following morning running was super painful. 

This week we also had the first every West Zone Training Meeting. The church is now starting a new thing where the first of each month the Zone Leaders do a big training meeting with their entire zone to get the mission president's vision out, and help their zone work on the things they feel their zone needs. This meeting is wonderful. It went really well, but what I most loved is that it gets the whole zone on the same page at the START of the month. What a blessing. 

This week we also had an investigator ask us if he's really Heavenly Father's child, or if he's a descendant of dinosaurs, because of evolution. He's a... different investigator, however he's accountable. Our teaching appointments are always especially fun. He definitely has one of the more "colorful" teaching records. He's brought up in the past questions like "If you're eaten by fish can you still be resurrected?"

The Church is true. A new transfer awaits. I know that this is the Lord's work!
Love you all.
Elder White

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6, 2012

Good Morning!

What an amazing week here in Taiwan. The Lord loves Taiwan. He loves Taipei. He loves TuCheng. So many miracles are happening on a daily basis here. It's great.

I don't know where to begin but I've got a ton of people I want to talk about. 

Tom Xu. He's a 17 year old student. Super nice, super shy, loves the church. He passed his baptismal interview this week! We're waiting for his parents' permission. I pray he'll get it. He wants to be baptized so bad. This was the priority of my fast yesterday. Please pray so he can go through with his baptism this Saturday.

Grandpa Guo. He is 80 years old, he comes to church every Sunday without fail and the first time we visited him my companion warned me that he's a very slow learner. We left there after the first meet and I sincerely doubted he'd be able to be baptized in this life. I prayed about him and got revelation to start making little papers that simply teach the doctrine of the lessons and the baptismal interview questions. A few week ago, I made one about how we return to Heavenly Father. On it there was Brother Guo at the bottom of some stairs, and there was Heavenly Father at the top. There were 5 steps. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. The following Sunday he began telling members he wanted to be baptized. We started to see that he was understanding. It's been amazing how much more he's able to understand now. The spirit is teaching him. 2 weeks ago I taught the Word of Wisdom to him. I knew he'd have some problems. He basically rejected me right to my face that day. I said Brother Guo, regardless if you are living this commandment or not I hope that you'll still come to church every week. He said "Elder White,it doesn't matter if you're there or if you're not there, I'm going to church every Sunday," in a very sassy, I don't need you tone of voice. That's why I love Grandpa Guo. Then we went and visited him earlier this week and he's completely changed. He said he was going to start living it. He said he'd quit everything immediately and was slowly quitting smoking but that he will have quit before his baptism. We were shocked. We then went back Saturday and his wife told us he'd stopped drinking coffee and tea, and is smoking less. We were astonished. When I first taught him the Word of Wisdom just a week before he had got up and grabbed a whole bunch of tea packets and told me about all the health benefits. Just one week later he quit! Yesterday in Sunday school the lesson was on the Word of Wisdom. He was eager to share all he learned!

This Tuesday my companion contacted a man named Mister Shi. He's in his 50's and is usually in mainland China, but will be in Taiwan for the next short amount of time and currently has a lot of free time. He first met because he took a wrong bus and met Elder Su and thought it was destiny. He came the next day, Wednesday, and sat down with us. He had a lot of "ideas" and came off a bit prideful, but agreed to meet Thursday. We were on splits and Elder Su met with him, said he was pretty much the same, but agreed to meet Friday. On Friday we were on exchanges so I was to meet with him. At the beginning of the lesson he started going off on his ideas. The Spirit told me to sing "I stand all amazed" with him. We did, the Spirit in the lesson was a bit better. We bore testimony of the Savior, and our member shared some really good stuff about being converted because of answers to his prayer and leaving the more traditional Asian religions behind, however brother Shi was pretty much the same. Then we opened scripture. Read Alma 7:10-13 about what Jesus did for us, then 14-16 about what we need to do to use the atonement. The Spirit was so strong. He whole mood changed. I was overcome by the Spirit and Brother Shi began asking questions about how to be baptized and what it means to enter into a covenant with God. It was amazing. He met yet again the next day, and was a completely different person. Humble, and willing to learn, said one of the most amazing prayers I've heard an investigator say. Then he came to church yesterday. I testify that the Lord has prepared people. Even if they don't know that they're prepared. Even if we don't know they're prepared. The Lord knows. We met with Brother Shi every day last week, and he's willing and wanting to meet daily this week as well. What a miracle!!

Another remarkable miracle this week took place as we went to the chapel Wednesday morning to meet with a set up. As we rode up to the chapel we were met by a Filipina named Mary. She was an older woman who informed us that she only has 1-2 days off a month, just like most Filipinos in Taiwan, and that every time she has a day off she comes to the church looking for missionaries. She usually waits an hour or two and then leaves without luck. She is a member of the English ward here in Taiwan. She'd been looking for missionaries because she had some friends from the Philippines who wanted to learn more, and one in particular needed a blessing. We were there! We were able to meet her. She called us 2 days later and we went out that night to visit Mary's friends. What followed was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission and one of the most humbling experiences of my life. We followed Mary to were these Filipinos lived. We were led to a sad living situation in which probably about 100 Filipinos live on 3 floors of this little building. Cockroaches everywhere, they work 12 hour days in factories and only have 1 or 2 days off a month. They do it for their families. They love their families and can provide better for them working in Taiwan and sending the money home. Many of these people have college degrees and would be working white collar jobs in the Philippines, but the pay here is still better. Mary led us to a back kitchen were we met with 4 of her friends. We gave one sister a priesthood blessing and it was such an amazing spirit there with us. We then explained about the restoration of the priesthood through Joseph Smith and shared a little bit about the restoration. We'll be going back next week to share more. It was an amazing miracle and experience. 

This week was TYPHOON WEEK!!! There was a pretty big storm that came in Wednesday and lasted until Friday morning. We were asked Wednesday evening to go home and not proselyte. We were then told Thursday afternoon that we could go out if we first called president, and if we had set up lessons at the chapel, and immediately returned home at the end of the lessons. We immediately set up 2 lessons so we could get out!!! In between those 2 lessons we began setting up others for that night. We were blessed to have people willing, in that weather, to come over so we could set up lessons for every half an hour. When it was all said and done we didn't get home until 9 o'clock, just like any regular day! It was great!! In a recent General Conference address, our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson said "No cause, no force in the entire world can stop the work of God." When he said that I'm pretty sure he was talking about typhoons.

My recent convert Brother Huang is cool. His English name is Shaggy, I gave it to him. He is the one that was baptized in 3 weeks. He now calls us whenever he doesn't have work asking if he can come be our member present in lessons!! It's awesome. He has a great testimony, and most people are reluctant or shy about teaching lessons with us at first. But before he had ever even done it he was asking if he could. He is currently preparing to go to the temple, and wants to start doing his family history.... WOW!

Last P-Day was amazing... I don't usually talk about P-day, but we went up to a place called Jiu-Fen with one of our investigators and 2 members. What a beautiful place, as the pictures I will send will indicate. I'm so blessed to be in Taiwan. This little island is so great! I love it so much!

This week Elder Workman came down on exchanges. He goes home next week, so it was my last time proselyting with my former companion and good friend Elder Workman. It's kind of crazy, because almost all my companions are in that group. Elder Bogle goes home next week as well. I'm going to miss them all. I'm still astonished with how many amazing companions the Lord has given me. I feel really blessed. 

Speaking of Elder Bogle, he and I will be at the temple tomorrow! With the ZHANG FAMILY!!! THEY'RE GETTING SEALED FOR TIME AND ETERNITY!!! They have asked that Elder Bogle and I be their witnesses!!!! I couldn't be more excited!!! I can't wait. I love them so much. They are such an amazing family. I've been too blessed as a missionary. I cannot wait to see this family I love so much be sealed and become an eternal family. It's so cool too because when Elder Bogle and I taught them we were both young missionaries, so we both are still here 1 year later to see them sealed. I couldn't think of a better way to end my mission if I were Elder Bogle. 

That's another great thing that's happened this transfer. Seeing some of the missionaries that chose to extend see big miracles. I'd been wondering lately if extending was the right choice, especially since I'd miss Christmas and school. One thing that's helped is an Elder in our district. He originally didn't plan on extending but he prayed  about it and chose to. And he's seen huge miracles this last transfer. The coolest was a family that he was teaching. He really wanted to see them baptized, before he left but they went on vacation for 3 weeks and upon returning they had to learn all the commandments and have absolutely no problems and be willing to live them without any hesitation in order to make it. He and I started praying for this as soon as they left on vacation. They came back and it really happened. They were amazing. I did the mother's baptismal interview yesterday. What an amazing family! It's helped me feel better about my choice to extend. 

I want to tell you about my English class gospel lesson this week. It went really well. We started by playing the thimble game with a sacrament cup. It's where someone picks a topic like colors, then fills the small cup with water, and goes around one by one to everyone and they have to say a color. If it's the same as the person with the cup chose and wrote down on their hand, they then throw the water on them, and it's their turn. This game was super fun because these Taiwanese people did not want to get splashed. It was like torture if they were the one to get splashed. Lots of moaning and what not. Really fun. After playing a couple times we continued and someone guessed the same as the person with the cup. Before they splashed that person I said stop, and I asked if anyone was willing to take the splash instead, at first no one was, finally someone said they were willing. So I let that person take the splash. Everyone thought that wasn't fair. Then I asked them what if we were playing with a gun. And if you guessed wrong instead of getting splashed you got shot. Would you be willing to take that on for someone else? We then opened to some scriptures about the atonement and how Christ died, and suffered for us. It was really cool. I felt the Spirit really strongly as I reflected on what Christ has done for me and then testified of Him. 

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to represent him, and be a part of this work. 
I love Him. 
Elder White