Monday, September 24, 2012
Wednesday we went and visited Grandpa Guo for the last time. He was pretty mad when he heard I'd be leaving. He told me that I should just stay and not tell the mission president. He told me he wouldn't tell anyone if I stayed. He then spent the last 20 minutes of the meeting plotting ways for me to stay or come back and visit. He's so funny. I will have to find a chance to make a trip down there and visit him one last time before I leave this island. He's so great. I'll miss him lots.
The real news of the week began Thursday. We went up for a full day of meetings for trainers. Then we took the new missionaries out for the night to work. I purposefully matched up with the Elder that looked the most like me, thinking that he would be my trainee, a guessing system that has been pretty accurate in the past under President Grimley, but not anymore. He was a great Elder and we saw some cool miracles that night. I just walked up to EVERYONE I saw and would say ''It's his first day in Taiwan, can he share a message with you" and then I'd just make him talk and testify. It was super fun.
I was surprised the next day when I found out he wasn't my trainee. Thursday night I also confirmed with a couple of the office elders where my new area was, even though I wasn't supposed to know.
I'm actually really happy to be working with him. He's laid back in his personality but willing to work hard when it comes to the work. We're going to see a ton of miracles together. Taipei, SanChong district, Taiwan, and Salina, UT are a little bit different. But he's adjusting well. I'm just happy as a trainer that my trainee is 6'5" and has bright red hair, because what that means for me is I don't have to worry about losing him in Taiwan.
There is good news. The neighboring area's elders are Elder Phelps and his trainee. Elder Phelps is from Alpine and I'm super excited to continue to work with him!! It's going to be a lot of fun.
I'm so excited to have these first few days behind us and to finally be settled into our apartment. We're going to go CRAZY this week in the work. I can't wait. I know we're going to see so many miracles... mostly because we're going to need them.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
It was another amazing week here the TuCheng. The Lord loves this place, as do I. The biggest highlight of this week was hands down the baptisms of Andy Huang and Wayne Yang. These 2 brethren are so amazing. We have two completely different backgrounds here. Andy had been investigating for over a year and a half. Missionaries had actually stopped meeting with him, although he was coming to church, FHE, ward activities, and institute during that time. I felt prompted to begin meeting with him and in the first time sitting down with him told him he'd be baptized while I was still in Tucheng. I will be moving out of TuCheng in just a short 5 days after his confirmation. The Lord really touched his heart over the last little while and I feel like he was one of the biggest reasons I was called to serve in TuCheng.
On the other hand we have Wayne Yang who was an investigator for just under a month prior to being baptized. The Lord knows him and prepared him prior to his even becoming our investigator. Over this summer vacation his older sister died of a stroke. It was an unexpected death because his sister was still in her 20's. He was feeling blue one day when he ran into a happy missionary. He said the happiness of that Elder made him willing to give his phone number which was then sent to us here in TuCheng. We shared the plan of salvation, promised him families are forever, and shared the other wonderful truths of this perfect gospel. He felt it. He prayed and felt it. Heavenly Father heard and answered his prayers and he was baptized. It's amazing the Lord gave him this right after the tragedy of losing a loved one. We took him on a tour at the "Taipei Temple square" yesterday after church. The temple tour sisters talked about baptisms for the dead. Something he's very interested in. It was wonderful. Also, he wants to serve a mission!!! He's 21 years old right now so he's got time to do so. I hope he does it after he continues to grow in the church. I love the opportunity of working with so many amazing people. It's been a blessing to be here in TuCheng. We've brought 9 brothers into the church through baptism in the 12 weeks I've been here. HOORAY for potential priesthood!!!
My time here in TuCheng is ending. I will be leaving this Friday to go open a new area with a brand new missionary I will be assigned to train. I'm not supposed to know until Friday where I'm going but I've already figured it out, and confirmed it. I'll be headed to the SanChong branch in the Central Taipei Stake. It will be pretty nice to have such a central location as my last. I don't know much about the ward or area. I just know they don't have Elder's right now and they're in desperate need of priesthood holders last I heard. There were Elders there about 6 months ago who got closed down, and I heard that they were a little bit of "problem missionaries.'' I hope when we get there we can be welcomed in a positive manner. It's going to be a great adventure opening and training but I'm super excited. I couldn't think of any better way to finish out my mission.
Another great miracle this week occurred while on exchanges. I ran into a less active man who I taught when I was on my 3rd transfer. At that time he hadn't been to church in over 5 years and came into the chapel just looking for hope. We met with him a couple times and then after finding out he lived in another ward, referred him to the missionaries in that ward. I never thought much of it. Now, over a year later I went on exchanges in that ward, and I ran into again, but this time he was much happier and much more active in the church. It was a cool blessing to be able to see him.
Another great miracle took place Saturday night. We were on the street when out of the corner of our eyes we saw this man decked out in all sorts of bling and wearing a fedora hat. We knew we immediately had to talk to him, although we didn't have much time. We went up and engaged in conversation, after brief introductions, due to time, we exchanged phone numbers and said we'd try to find a time to meet. Then right at the end I invited him to church the following day, not giving it any more thought after that. The next day at church in walks Brother Jiang blinged out in his jewelry like a Chinese Mr. T. Hahaha he's pretty cool! We've set up a time to teach him again this week.
But wait there's more... I have an English student named Neo. He met with us after English class to learn about the gospel 2 weeks ago but didn't have time after English class this Wednesday. Needless to say we didn't expect to see him at church at all, however he unexpectedly showed up Sunday... with his entire family!!! His Father, Mother, and Sister. He himself is in his late 20's his sister is in her mid 20's and their parents all came. It was such a huge miracle. They had a great experience and said they want to come back every week!!
But wait there's more... Last week we began meeting with a Brother He, and he came to church. This week I taught him the restoration and he committed to reading the Book of Mormon. When I opened the missionary closet to give him a copy I found out we were out. Then I told him I'm sorry, and we'd get him one the following day. His reply was "It's okay, take your time, I'm only half way done with the gospel principles book." HAHAHA my face lit up. The teacher had let him take it home and he had already read half!!! That's so amazing... once he finishes that teaching him with be a breeze! He's super Golden!!!
This week, just like every other week, had its fair share of laughables. My favorite took place last night. We had this rather peculiar English student call us last night and ask if he could meet. We'd set up him up before and then had him stand us up, but we had to go to the church later anyway so we agreed on a time. He came. It was weird. We determined his interest wasn't in the gospel and simply testified that the gospel could help him and that Heavenly Father loves him and exists. In closing we invited him to say a prayer. What came next was unexpected. What followed was a literal 10-12 minute prayer. The first 6 minutes or so were stereotypical Buddhist worship (a common thing to hear in peoples first few times praying here, but never for that long of time), then he went on apologizing to Heavenly Father for being a Taiwanese person who didn't speak Taiwanese well. He apologized that he only spoke Mandarin Chinese, and told Heavenly Father it's because he grew up in Taipei where Taiwanese is used less. He also told Heavenly Father his parents are from the south of Taiwan, so their Taiwanese is really good. He pleaded for Heavenly Father to forgive his Taiwanese deficiencies. Then the last few minutes he prayed for world peace. He prayed for world peace because if there is a war he's not able to participate because of health reasons, and he really wants to participate in war, but because he can't, he wants world peace. Then he ended. It was painfully hard to keep from laughing during that prayer. But we made it out alive.
Overall it's been 2 great transfers here in TuCheng. It was a wonderful way to leave on these 2 great brother's baptisms. I love this work. Being a missionary is AWESOME!!!!
Also, I've determined that dragonfruit is the best fruit on earth.
I love you all.
Monday, September 10, 2012
My favorite news this week is probably that Andy Huang passed his baptismal interview!!! This is a huge miracle! The TuCheng ward has been waiting for this for so long. When I first got here he was attending church, FHE, and English, but hadn't been meeting with missionaries anymore. He actually said he didn't like hearing the discussions from missionaries. The first day I had a strong feeling about him and we set an appointment with him for after English class. I shared the first vision and asked if he believes it. He said he did. We talked about what that means he HAS to do. In that meeting I told him he'd be baptized while I was in TuCheng. He chuckled at that. We've been meeting with him every Wednesday after English and every Sunday after church ever since. He's made some changes and adjustments and developed a lot of faith over the last two months, but most importantly, he's developed a desire and determination for baptism. It's been really amazing as the spirit has worked on him. I don't know what it was that brought the change, but Bishop and the entire ward are so excited!!
I can't wait for this upcoming Saturday!!!
When I was in TaoYuan our bishop's father was this really cool 80 year old man. Every time I saw him I'd shake his hand and say "long time no see" In Chinese, which you only say if it's really been a while. He would laugh and say it's only been 3 days, or it's only been a few hours, and then I'd say "in my opinion that's too long and then he'd laugh some more. This continued all 7 months there. Anyways... My MTC companion Elder VandenBerghe is now the zone leader there. He told me this week that he has kept that tradition up and they're still doing it every week. It's great!! It's kind of like the tradition of high fiving the stake patriarch every week in sacrament meeting. I'm so happy Elder Vandenberghe is down there with my old comp. We're actually going down there for p-day today to hang out with them, and hopefully see a recent convert!!!
I love this work. TIME FLIES!!!
I love serving the Lord.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Good morning from Formosa.
This week was full of great news and events. I'll try to take it one day at time.
Monday- I usually don't talk about p-day, but this p-day was just too good! We went to TaoYuan! We got together with all of the missionaries I was down there with a couple transfers ago. Elder Sheng's new zone leader companion down there is Elder Vandenberghe, my MTC companion, so it's even that much more fun! I love those guys. We played some football. It was a much needed p-day down there with some really good friends. If you'd have told me the first day in the MTC that my 135 pound, dinosuar loving companion would end up being one of my best friends, I'd have thought no way. I missed all of those missionaries down in the TaoYuan zone. I was there for five transfers and exchanged with all of them. Really great P-day.
That evening we also got a referral from the TaiChung mission. It told of a Lin Hong Jie, who had been taking the discussions down south and was attending church. He just moved into our area. I gave him a call and he was super excited to hear from missionaries and said he wanted to be baptized. We set him up.
Tuesday- I get a call from the assistants informing me that my companion and I, in the following day's zone conference would be doing a 30 minute training. This is nothing new, but it was super late notice. What really caught me off guard was the topic "How to teach 9 year old Children." Super specific, no section of Preach My Gospel with this heading. It surprised me a bit.
Wednesday- We went to zone conference. During our training we pretty much just told them to use candy. 2 days later was zone leader council. The assistants used candy in their training. Which means our training was a SUCCESS!! Another cool thing happened Wednesday. We were at zone conference right by the temple, and the TaiChung missionaries were up for their temple day. I was able to see my favorite TaiChung missionary from the MTC. Wow it made it seem like time flies. It felt like last month he and I were on the plane just talking to everyone that would listen. Now we're on the back ends of our missions. He informed me that none of the missionaries that came on with us from TaiChung will be extending. They are all going home before Christmas.... ah man. I literally have no one on the plane home with me... well actually I have 3 sister missionaries as my travel companions......
Thursday- Did missionary things.
Friday- Friday was zone leader council. Prior to zone leader council my companion and I went to the mission office so I could do my interview with President Day, which had been postponed by a couple weeks. This interview was great. He informed me that I'd been a zone leader longer than he'd ever heard of. 7 transfers. He then extended the call for me to finish the last 3 transfers of my mission as a trainer. I was thrilled! He told me that I will be training a brand new missionary next transfer, as well as opening an area. It's going to be a huge challenge opening an area with a brand new missionary but I'm super excited! It's going to be a great adventure and an opportunity to see a ton of miracles. In interviews I also asked him about my decision to extend and said it's been on my mind a bit as of late just because I don't know what I'll be doing right as I get home. He gave me some good advice and told me I should start setting personal goals right now for things I want to do in those first few months home. In the last part of the interview he invited me to read all of D&C in 12 weeks. YIKES!!
It was a good interview. I'm super excited for the challenge that lies ahead in opening an area and training!
Also at the lunch following Zone Leader Council the TaoYuan zone leaders kept giving me their phone as a bunch of my recent converts there were calling. They informed some of them that they'd see me at that time. It was so great to talk to Brother Tsai and Nami!!
Saturday- I read the first 10 sections of D&C. Haha. Saturday morning Lin Hong Jie, after meeting with us a couple times during the week passed his baptismal interview. I'm super excited for this man. He is full of faith and I'm so excited for TuCheng to get this strong of a future priesthood holder. He met the church through his girlfriend, who was baptized last week. He moved up here and found new work because they were living together and he needed to obey the law of chastity. He's amazing. I can't wait for his baptism this coming Saturday!
Saturday evening was our ward's musical fireside. I played Love One Another and sang in English, then the second verse I played while a member sang in Chinese, then we came together for the last part with some harmony. I can't wait to show you the video.... the very last line I tapped into my super falsetto and hit some really high notes. I don't think it sounded very good, but I know the entire ward thought it was funny and awesome. It was a really fun fireside. My good pal, (and last companion) Brother Su, formerly Elder Su came up and performed his bamboo flute. It was pretty cool. His whole family came up so I got to meet them all. That was really great. He stayed for the weekend because one of our converts was speaking at the Taipei new member fireside Sunday, and today (Monday) he's driving us out to JiuFen and JiLong, some cool parts of Taiwan that you need a car to get to. Good times.
Sunday- Met with Andy Huang after church. My first day in TuCheng we went to a family home evening and Andy was actually the first person I met. He said "I'm Andy, I'm your investigator." I had a strong feeling from that point. After FHE I asked Elder Su if we had a time set to meet with him. Then I found out Andy had been an investigator for over a year, and missionaries had met with him twice in the last 8 months because he wasn't progressing. I called Andy that night and set up a time. The first time I sat down with Andy I looked him in the eye and quoted the first vision. The spirit was strong and I asked him if he believes it's true? He said he knows it's true. I asked him why he hadn't been baptized and he had gave several excuses. I told him the spirit that we were feeling was from God, and then I told him he would be baptized while I was in TuCheng. Bold, yes. Overbearing, I think not, because it was the spirit prompting me to say it. He kind of laughed but said he was willing to give it a shot. In these last 9 weeks I've been working closely with, and praying fervently for Andy. He's a great guy. Although these last 9 weeks with him have felt like an uphill battle, he's progressed so much. I didn't stop at the beginning when he wasn't progressing much, the spirit was saying to keep working with him. In our meeting yesterday I asked him how he feels about baptism. He said he knows he needs it and now he wants it. He's living the commandments now. We scheduled a baptismal interview this week!!!! I'm so thrilled. I really can't wait for him to make it, the ward has been waiting so long for this. He's come to church every week for over a year, and he attends a majority of church activities. In ward council a couple weeks ago I informed bishop that Andy's baptism was coming up. Bishop was shocked and thrilled!
Sunday night we had the privilege of attending a New member/ Investigator fireside in Taipei. Our recent convert Brother Jian spoke. He's a genius! Taiwan National University graduate (it's like the Harvard of Taiwan) He gave a talk that sounded more like general conference than fireside. I felt bad for the poor missionary that got stuck on translation duty that night. Haha.. Brother Jian is awesome! It was another great week here in TuCheng. The Lord is continuing to bless us with SO MANY miracles!!
I love you all,