Our Christmas card
Our first attempt at egg nog.
This week we had meetings. Then we had more meetings. After those meetings were finished we had more meetings. I'm fairly confident that this week had less proselyting time than any other week on my entire mission. However, it was still a great week rendered in the service of my Lord.
This week's best meeting was most definitely the monthly fireside our mission does every Fast Sunday. I always enjoy attending these firesides for investigators and new converts. I feel like every time I go I hear some good news about someone I found or taught progressing in the gospel or being baptized, and this time around was no exception. Every fireside they have 2 to 3 new converts share their experiences. The first was a girl from TaoYuan. She was an investigator of the Elders in the ward adjacent to ours but we always met her and her family. I taught her multiple times on exchanges but never anticipated her getting baptized. She was only meeting because of her recent convert mother's manipulation. That said, the Spirit worked on her recently and I was shocked to see her baptized and sharing her experience at the fireside. It was great news.
Another one of the speakers was a man from India who I taught back in DanShui but who had disappeared. He had gone back to India and then came back to Taiwan, was found by the English ward elders and was recently baptized. Really cool stories. No effort is wasted.
My favorite news from the fireside was regarding one of my old investigators in DanShui. I found Mitch Zhao on my second day in DanShui and began teaching him. He progressed and passed his baptism interview on a Friday night over a year ago. He needed a second interview with a member of the mission presidency (common in Taiwan because many people here will have abortions, often married couples). We set up the interview for Sunday at church and Mitch never came. I was devastated. I later found out he had been tempted to drink wine by some old friends that Saturday and had given in. He was too ashamed to come back to church and stopped investigating and meeting with us altogether. Then, last month, over a year after the last time I saw him, I was looking through my old missionary planners. I found his name in my old DanShui planner and felt prompted to send him as a referral to the DanShui Elders currently serving there. Long story short, as I was walking up to the chapel for the fireside last night I was greeted by a happy Mitch. He was excited to see me. He'd been meeting with missionaries and was progressing! I was thrilled. I always felt like he was one that slipped away. The fireside was filled with good news. I was super happy.
This week we had a leadership training meeting that was ALL DAY FRIDAY and ALL DAY SATURDAY. Wow... It was long. One nice thing about the meeting was that all the leaders in the mission came to Taipei and attended no matter where they were serving. It gave me the chance to see some good missionary friends for a couple days, and for what will probably be my last chance to see them before I go home. During the meeting I was asked to do a training with another Elder from the opposite side of the island. The training was on helping investigators receive revelation through church. We had about 40 minutes to come up with this 45 minute training. Needless to say it was a little bumpy, we never really got on the same page. There was one great part of the training, however. On the whiteboard I wrote, in huge letters, a quote to get people excited about our topic. I wrote "Go To Church" - Snoop Dogg. This is a real song. Then, no one used the whiteboard for another 3 hours, so the inspiring words of Snoop Dogg were up there for a long time.
Another good part of the meeting took place during another companionship's training. They had us role play with another missionary sharing some teaching we enjoy from the gospel, and then invite that missionary to do something based on our teaching. I hate role plays, but I've recently found ways to make them bearable. I teamed up with a sister missionary and taught the Word of Wisdom, I convinced her that God doesn't want us to eat meat in our given circumstances and that she should be vegetarian. I committed her to be vegetarian for the remainder of the transfer. She said she would. As we were evaluating, she said she felt this was an answer to her prayers. I had to bite my tongue to keep from l laughing out loud. She makes the 5th sister missionary I've convinced to eat a vegetarian diet by making them re-think the teachings of the Word of Wisdom during a role play. It's lots of fun. It also hasn't gone over too well when some of the sisters I had previously convinced later saw me eating meat. Oh well.
This last week our best investigator didn't answer his phone. Not once. We're concerned that he finally told his parents he is meeting with missionaries (something we encouraged him to do) and they haven't let him talk to us since. The family opposition in Taiwan is really sad. I know it takes place all over the world, but it's always sad to me here in Taiwan because these traditional Chinese families see Christianity as something evil. It's sad to see the younger investigators become converted to the gospel and still be unable to fully follow Christ through baptism because they're unable to obtain parental permission. It's always hard for me to swallow.
Our other investigator close to baptism had a big breakthrough this week. Saturday night we met with him. I had just returned from Leadership Training and Elder Davidson had been in another area all day. We had no lesson plan. We prayed really hard right before going into the lesson and were especially focused on listening to the Spirit. We were guided and what resulted was the most spiritual lesson I've taught with Elder Davidson. I learned... a lot. As I shared about basic principles of the gospel I was being enlightened to see the importance of them in a new way and it also enlightened the investigator. We shared a little bit about Laman, Lemuel and Nephi as the Lord instructed them to get the plates. We talked about how Nephi didn't doubt... he just acted. That was really the only difference between him and his brothers. They were asked to do the same things, make the same sacrifices, and went through basically the same trials. The only difference was Nephi's faith to do. I then told Brother Li that I could picture 2 Brother Lis. They both are him, they both will have the same trials, challenges and experiences. These brother Lis only differences are that one has faith to act on God's will and one doesn't. I asked him which one he thought would have a better, happier life and future. HE GOT IT. It clicked for him. The spirit was strong and he developed greater faith to ask and the faith to act. It was a super duper lesson. I hope it results in him overcoming his last challenge before baptism.
This last week I also sent a box of some study materials, study journals, and Chinese study stuff home. They encourage us to do so to ensure our baggage won't be overweight. It was expensive!!! Other than those books I don't think I'll have too heavy of stuff to bring home so I should be good on my luggage weight.
This week we also were able to go to the temple. It was a great experience. I always feel like I learn something new. I'm excited to be able to go really often after my mission.
I've been on a mission 2 years and 2 days. I have 19 days left. WOW. I didn't know this time would come. It's been such an amazing journey. I want to finish out strong. I can't believe it has gone by so fast. It feels right though. I've given it my all. I will continue to do so for the last 3 weeks. I'm absolutely exhausted. I will probably hibernate the first 3 weeks home. I'm excited for what the Lord has in store in these last 3 weeks as well as in the future. I'm so thankful I could serve a mission. I'm thankful I could do so in Taiwan. I'm eternally grateful for my family support. I'm even more grateful I can represent my Savior. I'm thankful for His sacrifice.
I don't remember much more of what happened this week. Just lots of meetings. I can't wait to have some time to do the WORK this week.