Monday, September 24, 2012

September 23, 2012

Ok... so last week was pretty eventful to say the least. It all really started on Thursday, but I can review a couple things that happened toward the start of the week. Monday we held a West Zone p-day activity. It was fun to get the whole zone together and we made some food and played some games. 2 eventful things happened. One Taiwanese Elder was trying to make "smoothies" but he didn't know how. What he was doing was blending up all these fruits he bought from a grandma off the street with Ice. They were pretty disgusting but there was one sister missionary who felt bad that no one was drinking them, so she just kept drinking his smoothies. She later spent 15 minutes in the bathroom throwing up. Kinda sad, kinda funny. 

The other eventful thing that took place during zone p-day was that we decided to play that one game called "ninja." I don't really know, I think it's popular at like little Mormon gatherings. It's not a contact sport and the thought didn't even cross my mind that it could affect my shoulder, but as we were playing I moved my arm in a bit of a weird way and sure enough my shoulder popped right out of place. It's been in a lot of pain this week. The good news is I've been too busy and tired to think about the pain. Monday night I went to my last Family Home Evening in the TuCheng ward. WHAT AN AMAZING WARD. They truly are something special. I'm so thankful I had the opportunity to serve there for 2 transfers. 

Tuesday I went on exchanges with an Elder Honeycutt down in an area called SanXia. It's in the same ward as us, but they're forever away. A cool thing happened. While down there we ran into a couple of Mainland Chinese tourists. Of course they wanted to take pictures with us, that's just all of Asia, but as we got to talking to them we found out they actually had a quite a bit of gospel interest. The Elder I was with remembered that they had a simplified character Book of Mormon in the apartment down there and we asked if they'd like to read it and learn more. They were super interested. They told us where their hotel was and told us we could leave it with the desk guy in the lobby. We ran and grabbed the Book of Mormon. I wrote a short testimony in the front and we took it to the hotel. I get excited any time we can plant seeds for people in Mainland China. Even though we weren't finding people that actually lived in the SanXia area or anything, I really felt like we were accomplishing the Lord's will that night and doing the things he would have us do.

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.

Friday morning the whole mission got together for a new meeting that's never been done before now. It was a big move call meeting where everyone gathered and were paired up one by one and got their new companions. They started out with pairing up the trainers and trainees. President would introduce each new missionary then announce where they were going and who their new companion would be. When my trainee was being introduced President then said he'd be opening an area. He said he'd be going to SanChong and I got up and cheered... The problem was I wasn't supposed to know where I was going, and President hadn't announced my name yet... It was funny. So that's the adventure that began. I'm headed to SanChong, opening and training. I'll first tell you about my companion, then I can talk about the area.

My trainee
Name: Elder Zack Peterson
Age: 19
Hometown: Salina, UT... I know what you're thinking, and I don't know where that is either
Height: 6'5"  Yes 6'5" may currently be the tallest man in Taiwan
Hair Color: BRIGHT RED
Hobbies: Sports. He took state in the 3200 dash in high school. He's now on scholarship at UVU for track. Pretty athletic kid.

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.

My Area.

SanChong district of Taipei. Pretty downtown. Pretty big. The mafia capital of Taiwan!! In my ward boundaries there are 400,000 people. That's just in a single ward boundary. Yet there are only about 60 members coming to church. The ward's biggest challenge is the Priesthood. There were only about 10 priesthood holders. That's why we're here. This ward needs priesthood. The last several transfers the ward has only had 1 set of sisters who didn't speak a whole lot of Chinese. They were whitewashed out... (both moved) and new sisters came in, as well as us opening the SanChong Elders. We were left with one real investigator. ONE. We've got work to do. The ward was so excited to see 4 missionaries and to see Elders. They really amazed me with how supportive and excited they were toward the missionaries and missionary work. I felt really overcome with emotion Sunday as I sat in that ward with a prayer in my heart hoping to be able to serve them and give them the kind of missionary they deserve and so desperately need. There is so much for us to do in the coming months.

The ward needs priesthood. The current second counselor in the bishopric isn't even in our ward. He is on special assignment from the stake to come be the second counselor, because they don't really have anyone else for the job. I really hope we can reactivate some priesthood holders as well as find and baptize some potential priesthood holders.

That first Friday we had a lesson with the one investigator left over from the sisters. It is a Brother Huang. He is a nice humble man who didn't graduate from high school, is illiterate, and speaks mostly Taiwanese. He understands Mandarin but doesn't speak much. His entire family are all members except for him. We went and shared a lesson. Thankfully we had it set up to have a member there who could translate the Taiwanese if we had problems. My Taiwanese listening ability is actually ok. I can get a lot of it, but there were some times where having the member to help us understand was a big blessing. I felt bad from my trainee. I've had like 2-3 lessons in Taiwanese my entire mission (including this one), and his very first lesson in Taiwan is Taiwanese... hahahaha super funny. Brother Huang wants to be baptized and my companion set a baptismal date with him. That was cool. The thing holding him back is his smoking addiction. We asked him if he'd had a priesthood blessing for quitting smoking and he said no. I felt prompted to give him a blessing, and what followed was one of the most spiritual moments of my mission. I called in his entire family from the back of the house and they all gathered in that small living room. I placed my hands upon his head to give him a blessing by the power of the priesthood. During the blessing I felt prompted to promise him he and his family would enter into the temple and be sealed as an eternal family. It was a very spiritual experience and I fought back tears as a finished up the blessing. I really love Brother Huang, and I know he's going to make it. He works selling fruit in the markets so he has to get up at 2 A.M. and then he works through the morning. He goes to bed at like 7 p.m. It's a rough job and that's part of the reason for smoking. Please pray for him and his family.

Another cool miracle took place as we were walking around our area looking for places to get the supplies we needed for opening a new apartment. We walked by a clothing store and as we passed it I was impressed to go back and talk to the man inside. I don't usually proselyte to people at their workplace, but I know the spirit is vital in this work so I returned and walked in. We got talking to the guy and found out he was a former from like 2 years ago. He also said we could come back this week and share more. It was a big miracle. I know the Lord has called us to open SanChong for very specific reasons, and I know that if we follow the spirit and work hard we'll accomplish what he wants us to accomplish here.

These last couple days have been a couple of the most tiring of my mission. Having to FIND, clean, move furniture into, and set up our new apartment, I feel a little bit bad for my trainee. We have a pretty ghetto apartment. I talked to the office elders about it and they said that SanChong is an expensive area, and that due to the fact that last month was "ghost month'' in Taiwan, no one was selling their apartments. Therefore the market was super competitive and expensive. We were able to get our apartment during this time because the person living in it before was an old guy who died just a couple weeks ago. It was in pretty bad shape, but it'll be fine. Friday we didn't have any furniture yet and so we had to go sleep in the neighboring area's Elder's apartment. They have one of the nicest in the mission. Haha, I felt kind of bad for my trainee.

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.

I love this opportunity and this work.

Pray for SanChong.
Love Elder White

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