Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 26, 2012

We took chairs on the subway, got a lot of funny looks

comp sleeping!
 Last p-day we had a billion missionaries at pizza hut

A cool place we stopped for lunch on exchanges with elder phelps (from alpine UTah)

 Coolest bakery ever
"White's pastry shop"

Pics of our Thanksgiving activity.

 Me and Brother Huang. He and his family are doing so well

 Me and my comp laughing it up
 Me and Brother Zhang (in the Knicks shirt, as well as his friends who are
now our investigators)

At our Thanksgiving, party we found out an hour before it began that they wanted us missionaries to do some kind of musical number... like sing a hymn. That day there just happened to be a guitar at church that the missionaries in the neighboring area were giving to us because neither of them play. Instead of just singing "Count Your Blessings" we decided to write a song about Thanksgiving and perform it. We wrote the chorus lyrics on the board so they could sing along. I don't have all the lyrics but I wrote the chorus and I can tell you the lyrics to the verse I wrote.
Food, Football, Friends, and Family
Indians, Pilgrims, Turkey.. it's Thanksgiving
My Verse:
Thankgiving on the mission, it's just not the same,
No friends no family, just me in the rain,
And my companion, we're both wet and cold
Just trying to bring lambs back to the fold,
Climbing stairs knocking door after door,
I'm thankful my fist isn't too sore.
Thanksgiving dinner, It just feels wrong,
No turkey no stuffing, just another BianDang (really cheap Taiwanese little boxed meal they eat all the time)
Then hit the streets again, no one wants to hear,
Pumpkin pie and an afternoon nap? Maybe next year.....

I'm thankful for all of you!! Sounds like things are good.
TIME FLIES. 2 Months left. Hard to believe. It was a really good week here in SanChong. I was healthy!!! The work moved forward. It's amazing how much more productive one can be as a missionary when not throwing up every few hours or drowsy on medication. It was a very good week and I reflected a lot on what I'm thankful for. I've realized Heavenly Father has blessed me so much. First and foremost I'm so thankful for my family. I can't express how much I love them and I'm grateful for their love and support. I'm so grateful for my parents' example and for teaching us and raising us in righteousness but allowing us to develop our own testimony. I'm thankful for my friends. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to come to Taiwan. I love it here. I'm even more thankful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission here and represent my Savior. I'm so thankful for the success I've been blessed to have as a missionary and the miracles I've been blessed to see. I don't know why I've been so blessed but I'm super grateful. I was sitting in the Huang family's home this week and was overcome with a spirit of gratitude, just at the fact that I'm sitting with these wonderful people I love, it's a blessing to have been able to meet them, it's a blessing I'm speaking Chinese with them. What a great blessing it is to learn this great language. I'm so thankful. The thing I'm most thankful for is actually a person, to whom I'm most indebted, my Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. He is so amazing. I love Him. He lives, He loves, He changes lives. He's changed mine for the better and I've watched Him change and touch many more over these last 22 months. I'm so thankful for His gospel and His example.

This week was such a great week. There were some special miracles, and overall there were a lot of fun things that happened. I'll start with Thanksgiving day. A day full of proselyting, rain, proselyting and more rain. There is no celebration of Thanksgiving here. It wasn't until late afternoon I realized it was Thanksgiving, nevertheless, it was a great day to pause and reflect on the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me. Thanksgiving dinner? 3 slices of wheat toast, and a candy bar.

However, Thanksgiving night brought probably the biggest miracles this week. We were out in the rain contracting. That's where you pick a street, and then simultaneously contact people on the street while tracting doors on the street you are on. Then I suddenly had the feeling that I've learned to love as a missionary. It was the "there is something else we should be doing right now'' feeling. I love that feeling because it usually precedes a big miracle if we're able to effectively follow the Spirit in order to do what Heavenly Father wants us to. With a prayer in my heart I decided we should go knock the door of a less active member the bishop had said we could visit when we first got here to SanChong. Bishop had actually never met this person, and the first 3 times we visited he was not home. We had forgotten about him and hadn't returned in quite some time, but that night, we were in the neighborhood and I felt the Lord wanted us to go pay him a visit.

We might have forgotten about him, but the Lord hadn't. We knocked, he answered, and invited us in. We then met Brother Zhang, a 13 year old kid who was baptized 2 years ago in a city on Taiwan's east coast. Probably the coolest 13 year old kid I've ever met. He's a Taiwanese aborigine and he's in a big budget movie they made about his tribe. He's lived in SanChong for a year and a half and hasn't been to church since moving here. He was so happy to meet us, and talk with us, and committed to come to our Thanksgiving activity Saturday and church Sunday. At the activity Saturday, he brought a friend, who's now our new investigator. He also met a lot of members and the bishop. He was able to go up in the front and introduce himself, and while introducing himself he said he's sorry he hadn't been coming to church and he won't miss another Sunday! He met with the bishop that night who invited him to pass the sacrament that Sunday. He came, fulfilled his priesthood duty, and loved church! We met with him after church and talked about missions and invited him to start preparing now, for a future mission. He said he really wants to serve. It was an amazing miracle, this lost lamb who's coming back to the fold.

The Thanksgiving activity we put on Saturday was a big success. A great turnout and lots of food. They assigned us missionaries a missionary performance and we wrote a song about Thanksgiving. (see above) My companion and I decided to make mashed potatoes. We bought a big bag of U.S. imported potatoes at the market and then boiled and mashed them up with tiny forks. They turned out great though and were the only authentic Thanksgiving food found on the entire table. The activity was really great and lots of fun. We had 5 less active priesthood holders come!!! 4 of which came to church the following Sunday! Such a huge miracle. Our first week in SanChong there were 6 priesthood holders in Elder's quorum. I'd say the average is more like 10-12, so you can see what a big influence an extra 4 or 5 can have. 2 participated in blessing or passing the sacrament, and another one of the less actives we've helped back taught the Elder's Quorum lesson.

Another great miracle this week was helping one of our ward missionaries. Her name is Hana or Sister Tsai. She's really cool and really good to us missionaries. She is a convert of a little over a year and was baptized while backpacking in France. The missionary who baptized her was a friend I made in the MTC going to France speaking Chinese. So cool. She used to be a crazy party girl and has tattoos all over from all the different countries she's visited. Now she's a crazy good convert endowed in the temple and helps us missionaries so much. I suggested once to her to go on a mission, but she was really hesitant. Lately a member of the bishopric also encouraged her to go, but she wasn't sure. Then she lost her job and was really unsure about what to do at this stage in her life. After having ward mission meeting, we and the sister missionaries shared a little bit with her. The Spirit was really strong and we invited her to go to the temple and pray about what Heavenly Father wants her to do. She went to the temple the next day, and then decided she would go "Duanchuan" It's a common thing in our mission where if there is an odd number of missionaries then they will have try to find worthy members to serve for a few weeks or a transfer. Our mission needed a Sister DuanChuan and so right now Sister Tsai is off somewhere in our mission, being a missionary. If it goes well, she'll be a lot more likely to start papers and prepare to serve. It was a really cool miracle!

There were some really good miracles this week, and overall it was a really fun week. We also now have a guitar in our apartment so companion study just got a whole lot better as we've been writing songs for our ward mission leader as well as others!

I'm just thankful to be here in Taiwan serving my brothers and sisters and serving my Lord.
Elder White

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 18, 2012

Our ward mission meeting
 This is a picture of the cell phone referral system. I got a referral this last week from Elder Nickell in TaiZhong!!
 my nickname "Bai Shuai Shuai" it's also a brand of laundry detergent

  san chong at night and some good english 
 Some shots of San Chong at night.


 My super photogenic companion in this picture.

I've taken up watercoloring. This one is of Jesus.

 My trainee is obsessed with Taiwanese ice cream. He ate these 4 gallons in 2 days.
 Elder Davidson (Mr. Basketball for the state of Washington who's on scholarship to play ball at BYU after the mission) and myself (Who was the 3rd leading scorer in University of Utah Intramurals 2 years ago)

 This must be where ALL that mail I'm not getting is going.
 Our sweet Utah Jazz and Chicago bulls hats we've bought off of old guys on the subway.

This week was not too shabby. I began the week still afflicted with my stomach ailment and still taking a medication for it that made me drowsy, but I received a blessing for it Thursday night and have been doing much better since. Despite getting over the sickness there were still a lot of great things that took place this week.

This last preparation day we went down to the TaoYuan 3rd ward (my old area). Elder Vandenberghe, my MTC companion is currently serving there. We went down to hang out with him for one of the last times, (he goes home in 4 weeks), as well as to hang out with one of my recent converts there. It was great. I'm going to miss Elder Vandenberghe. Two years ago I never imagined that this dinosaur fanatic MTC companion would become one of my best friends. The convert we were with was Sister Zhan, a.k.a. Nami. She informed me that she is going on a mission!!! She is going to first graduate college next year and then go! It's so exciting. She had a lot of family opposition in joining the church and she didn't tell her family she was getting baptized, but she said now they know she's going on a mission and they've accepted it as well. It's so cool to see someone who receives the gospel and the blessings it brings, and then wants to turn around and share it. YEAH!

Our best investigator here in SanChong had a rough week. We'd been praying for him to find work, especially that would let him rest on the Sabbath. Heavenly Father provided a huge miracle and provided Brother Zhang with a job. His job makes it so we weren't able to meet at all Monday through Saturday, but he had Sunday off. Then as we continued to follow up with him he sounded worse and worse as the week went on. He hadn't been taking the time to read scriptures and pray and then Saturday he said he wouldn't be at church because he's too tired from work. It's really sad to see this happening. He was really close to baptism. We're going to keep praying for him. It's extremely hard to help people develop desire when we're not able to meet with them.

This week a couple of amazing finding miracles happened. We especially needed these miracles since we spent much of last week and the first half of this week dealing with sickness. While sick I decided to call a bunch of the former records we have. I called many people including some that were investigating back when there were still discussions. Many of them were numbers no longer in use. I had a moderately successful calling session but nothing too special. Then, later that night I received a call from a man. I told him we were the current missionaries in SanChong and he said he hadn't met with missionaries in years (9 to be exact). We then invited him to meet and he said he really wanted to. The first time around he only met once, yet it was a good enough experience to plant a seed in his heart that must have been slowly growing this past decade. He came and was AMAZING. We met with him Saturday. He set a baptismal date, agreed to pray and read, and came to church the next day! At church he made many friends, felt the spirit, and said he loved it! He's excited to meet again this week. If I got sick just so I'd have time to sort through some old records and make calls in order to find this prepared soul, then the strictly toast only diet and all the vomiting would be worth it. Let's hope!

This Friday we had another amazing finding miracle. The Lord really was leading people to us this week. We were in a meeting at the downtown Taipei stake center with most of the other missionaries in the mission. During a break, the missionaries were allowed to go out and get drinks and stretch. One of the missionaries in our district noticed a man on the couch and struck up a conversation. Eventually he found out this man lives in SanChong and came there that day with hopes of meeting missionaries and learning about the church. He gave the Elder his name card and we called him that night. Brother Ding is sweet!! He's done a lot of research on his own online and he's the father of a young family with 2 adorable little girls. We met with him Saturday and he had a lot of desire to learn. He said he wants to meet as often as possible and has time in the evenings almost every day. He also lives within a five minute walk of our chapel, but never knew where the chapel in SanChong was (because we're on the 7th floor of an office building). It was a great miracle.

There was another small miracle this week that helped me remember Heavenly Father answers prayers. I have a small coin purse that I keep my spare change in. Coin purse sounds feminine, it's more of a coin pouch. It was a gift from a member of the TuCheng ward, she got it while she was in Australia so it holds sentimental value. The other night I reached in my pocket to pull it out so I could buy a bottled water. The pouch wasn't there. I was scared. The pouch and the small amount of money it held would have been sad to lose as is, but the real fear came from the fact that just earlier that day I placed the memory card containing my first year of mission pictures in the pouch as well. Losing that would mean losing many, many fond memories. I was stressing. I was convinced the pouch had fallen out of my pocket while I was riding my bike. I decided to pray. While praying I had a distinct prompting to go and check a convenience store we'd been at earlier that day. Prior to praying I hadn't remembered that we'd been to that store earlier in the day. We went back and asked the clerk, who retrieved it from behind the counter. It was a great miracle. I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who hears even our smallest prayers. He loves us. He cares about our lives and our goals, hopes, desires, and interests. There are so many people here in Taiwan who have no clue who Heavenly Father is and know even less about their relationship with him. It's such a privilege to share what I've been so blessed from with them. I literally have the opportunity in helping them come to know their Father in Heaven. Our living and loving God. There's nothing better to be doing!

This weekend we're in charge of a ward Thanksgiving activity. The sister missionaries in our ward also won't be there because they're in some missionary traveling choir. So it's been up to Elder Peterson, me, and our ward mission leader to throw together this activity. I'm not much for event planning, especially when I'm proselyting, but it seems to be coming together alright. Our ward mission leader wanted to learn about the origin of Thanksgiving so I've referred him to the movie Pocahontas, which he will then base an explanation of Thanksgiving off of. There will be no turkey, but a recent convert is providing a goose. Also, our 60 year old ward mission leader with be dressing up as an Indian. It will probably be the greatest Thanksgiving activity ever held on the island of Taiwan. I'm thankful to be a part of it.

Elder Peterson and I are excited to have a full week of health. This week we had President's interviews and in our closing prayer he blessed me that I'd have good health for the last 2 1/2 months of my mission so I'd be able to accomplish all I can and need to in the sunset of my mission. We want to go hit it hard this week and find people that will be baptized in the coming weeks and months.

I'm thankful for this opportunity to serve the Lord. It's gone by so fast. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support.


Elder White

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 11, 2012

The biggest pumpkins in Taiwan our jack-o-lantern
 My Halloween costume.
A drawing of my Halloween costume
 My trainee... he believes people like him more and are nicer to him when he wears the glasses

This week was very interesting. My stomach hurt. It hurt really bad. I took Tums for a couple of days. They didn't help. My companion also had Pepto Bismol, but before I resorted to slurping down that awful pink liquid I decided to call the mission president's wife. She asked me some questions while simultaneously entering my answers into an online program she was using. Sounded like an interesting program because it asked me four times if I was experiencing pain in my stomach. After the fourth affirmative answer I think the program realized I was having pain in my stomach and then said I needed to go see the doctor. So we cancelled our afternoon appointments, hopped on the subway and were off to the hospital in downtown Taibei. 

We navigated our way through a giant hospital to the place I needed to go only to find out that they weren't taking any more patients. They referred us to a smaller hospital around the block. I don't think this hospital had ever had a foreign patient. I took my number and waited to be helped at one of the desks. When my number came up I approached the assigned desk to find a woman who looked terrified. I knew it was because she didn't speak English. I said "Hello, how are you?" to her as a little joke and got a blank stare in return. I then began speaking Chinese to her and she let out the biggest sigh of relief. I was referred to a doctor upstairs. This doctor took me and asked me a couple questions. I think he asked more questions about where I was from and why I was in Taiwan than he did about my sickness, but that was okay because I was able to proselyte to him and his nurse. 

Then all of a sudden he said "hold still" and he punched my stomach like 6 times. He then asked "Did that hurt?" I replied "Yeah that hurt. It hurt really bad." Then he said okay. Entered some stuff in the computer, told me I can't eat anything but toast for the next week and prescribed me some medicine. He didn't even tell me what I had. I went and picked up my medicine. Because Taiwan is socialist the visit to the hospital, the check-up, and the medication cost $3 USD. I am now taking some medication called Strocain. I have no idea what that is, but it rhymes with cocaine, so I'm sure it's powerful. They also gave me another kind, which makes me drowsy. I feel bad for my companion. It's probably not fun having a drowsy trainer. We're hoping to rest this P-day, so that I can get feeling better and hit it hard this week.

The highlight of this week was definitely going over the Huang family's house to eat dinner. Brother Huang was glowing as recent converts always do. His wife prepared the most amazing meal. She's from Vietnam. I honestly hope that one day I could have the standing in the Lord's eyes that I think she's obtained. She'd been taking all 4 kids to church by herself for the last 4 years since she was baptized. All the while doing all the FHE, family prayers, and scripture study on her own. She prayed for her husband constantly during that time, and taught him everything there was to know. She helped him so much while we met with him. Brother Huang is borderline illiterate and she helps him read scriptures every day. Because of a work situation Brother Huang has to attend the afternoon ward, and so Sister Huang, after attending our ward for 3 hours with all four of her kids and doing her calling, then attends the afternoon ward with her husband. It was so nice to go and eat with their humble family. Brother Huang is SO COOL!!!

This week we met with brother Zhang again. He is our closest investigator to baptism. He literally can pass the baptismal interview questions and has a testimony. We just don't know what's holding him back, and he won't share with us. We finished up our lesson Tuesday with him really confused at what to do next. Just then we got an announcement that there was a training going on for the sister missionaries this Thursday on how to do temple tours, and they needed more people to bring investigators to the tours at that specific time. (In the Taipei mission the sister missionaries do tours at the temple, similar to Salt Lake City Temple Square tours. The sister missionaries rotate days doing the tours and every couple transfers they have a big training for it)  The bulk of these tours are spent walking around the chapel adjacent to the temple and looking at gospel artwork hanging on the walls, I've had many investigators have really positive experiences through these tours. We thought this might be an answer to our prayers so we set up Brother Zhang to do a tour that Thursday, and we requested the tour be about baptism. 

We went Thursday and the tour began. We started at a picture of Christ visiting the Americas. I'm thinking this is good, we can talk about how he came and talk about baptism. But then we worked our way to a picture of the Martin Handcart company suffering in the mountains. At that point the sister missionary leading the tour asks me to talk about this picture. I give a description and we continue. Next picture... Nauvoo temple burning down and the saints crossing an icy river. It looked awful. More people suffering for their testimony of the restored gospel. I then asked the sister leading the tour if we could go look at the picture of Jesus being baptized. She informed me that because there were so many people doing tours at once they had been given assigned pictures to use. We got dealt a pretty interesting bunch. Jesus in Americas, Martin Handcart Company, Nauvoo temple burning down, and the first vision. Nothing says BAPTISM more than those four pictures. I didn't know what to think. When the tour was finished we stayed back with brother Zhang and walked him around to the pictures that we wanted to show him. It was really good after that and he felt the spirit. I hope it will result in him having a greater desire to be baptized. He wasn't able to attend church this week so we haven't seen him since then.

Overall it's been a little "different" this week with the stomach aches, hospital visits, and temple tours gone wrong. But It's still great to be a missionary. I absolutely love it, and I'm as happy as can be. I'm so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ and all that He is. He's amazing. I love Him. I loving serving Him. I love representing Him. I hope to become more like Him.

I love you all,

Elder White

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 4, 2012

 Brother Huang's baptism. 

 Brother Huang and his family

 This is a recent convert here in SanChong. Brother Guo. Check out his shirt!!
 Me and Brother Tsai at the fireside

This week was so great. I actually don't really remember Monday through Friday. I was looking forward to the weekend all week.

Saturday Brother Huang entered into the waters of baptism and covenanted with his Heavenly Father. His entire family was there to witness their last member finally make the covenant of baptism. The ward is on FIRE! They've been wanting this kind of growth for the longest time. It's been a little bit of a tough year for the SanChong ward. The ward split. They didn't have missionary Elders for the longest time. Recent converts on the year are very few. Helping this wonderful Brother that so many of the members already knew really has brought a new life to the ward. They now have this family that they can work to help get to the temple and be sealed.

Heavenly Father really does answer prayers. After years of prayer, Sister Huang's prayers have finally been answered in her husband being baptized. Brother Huang, his family, us missionaries, and many ward leaders were praying for him to quit smoking and he received the spiritual strength to do so. Prayer is real. It works. It's a direct line of communication to our Heavenly Father. It's free, simple, and we all can do it. I feel like I often take this amazing gift for granted. God's promises in the scriptures are clear. We ask in faith for righteous causes, and he gives them to us. It's so simple. It's a true promise. And this time the promise came true to the tune of a wonderful father, husband, and son of God being baptized and confirmed a member of the church.


The other event I was looking forward to all week was the new member and investigator fireside put on by the mission. The first Sunday of every month there is a fireside held in the biggest chapel in Taipei, adjacent to the temple. It's always a great chance to see so many old converts, investigators, and acquaintances. Almost every time I go I'm met with the great news of someone I taught a long time ago in a previous area being baptized or the progression of a recent convert. This last transfer 2 of the people I was teaching before I left TuCheng have been baptized and confirmed!! The real reason I was anticipating this fireside though was that TaoYuan's Tsai Yong Sheng was speaking. Possibly my favorite convert! The one I was in a 6-month battle with Satan over his soul! He speaks with such amazing power! The whole congregation was hanging on every word. The topic was the gift of the Holy Ghost. He talked about growing up Catholic and not feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost. He talked about truly feeling it in our church. He was quoting the Bible like crazy (not a lot of people in Taiwan can do that). It was so powerful. He also thanked me for all the fasting and prayers I did on his behalf. I couldn't hold back tears. I don't know why I was so privileged to have the opportunity to teach and baptize him. He's such an amazing new member and since has had so many friends and families meet with missionaries and attend church with him. He's such a spiritual giant. I'm humbled and feel so blessed to have been able to be his missionary. 

That's how I feel about so many of my converts. They're not MY converts, but I mean people I was blessed with the opportunity to baptize. I don't know why I've been given so many miracles. I don't know why I've been blessed to know so many amazing people and see the gospel and atonement change their lives. I'm so thankful for it though. Missions are so amazing. It's a little bit unreal to me that it's winding down. Time goes by SO fast. I'm so thankful for every minute of it. I'm grateful to serve the Lord in this capacity. Especially in Taiwan. What a wonderful place. What a wonderful people. The best mission in the World. I love the gospel. I love my Savior.

Another really cool thing happened this week. In English class I shared a spiritual message on the atonement. It was a very powerful class and everyone was really feeling it. After class I had a woman come and really want to learn more, so we set her up with the sister missionaries. The even bigger miracle though took place on Sunday when one of our students came to church. We found out he was actually an inactive member. He came back and wants to work toward a temple goal. It was such an amazing miracle! 

I love you all.

Elder White