Monday, August 29, 2011

Because I Have Been Given Much!

Kung Fu Power!
Hello everybody!
So I got thinking that last year I was just starting college.  WOW! weird! I kinda miss not starting school right now, but I'm glad I don't have to worry about all the stress that comes with school.  Anyway, hope this week has been awesome.  So I'll quickly explain the reason for this emails title, "Because I have been given much."  So last night for FHE we watched the Emma Smith movie.  There was one part that really stuck out to me.  It said, "He has blessed me more than I know." Wow!! Right then I started thinking of all my many blessings that I have been given so far.  I started writing them down, but the list went on and on.  I'd just like to say that I'm so grateful for my loving family and for all their support.  Also, for all the  prayers for the missionaries around the world.  I'm grateful for this gospel and the joy that it has brought me so far.  Being here in Taiwan has helped me realize that I have had an amazing life in the gospel so far.  I have grown up on righteous principles, thanks to my wonderful parents and siblings, that have helped me grow and develop in the way the Lord wants me to. I could go on and on but I don't have that much time.
So this week not much happened at all.  We have dealt with the same situations this week.  Everyone here on the island is "super busy" and has "no time" at all, or they "stand us up" and don't show up to our appointments.  I don't even think we, as a companionship, had any lessons this week with any new people.  However, this past Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder McAllister.  We had a few lessons where we taught the 1st lesson.  After our lessons we evaluated how they went and we both felt the lessons completely changed after we shared the 1st Vision.  It was AWESOME. 
I would like to share a simple example of the people here.  So we were talking with this young man out on the street who was obviously waiting for someone.  We get talking and then this cab pulled up and then he completely left us to talk to the cab driver.  We tried to get his info to talk to him but his excuse was "I don't have time".  So we went into the little apartment complex we were right by and started to ask the guard if he knew a certain person.  We didn't even say much and he responded saying, "I'm too busy."  He kinda was because he was helping a cab driver back up.  10 seconds later after he was done we tried to talk with him again and he told us he had no time.  So we tried to go find this person on our own and the guard wouldn't let us enter the complex, I guess because we are missionaries.  We told him this person was our friend and we just wanted to talk with him.  He chased us down and wouldn't let us enter.  We got arguing with him, which was no help at all.  Then this guard's friend walked in and grabbed some drinks.  We asked how he was and he said, "I don't have time."  We were like, "We just wanted to see how you are today." He said, 'I'm too busy."  So we left and went down the street a little ways.  We rang on a doorbell to find a less active.  No one came to the door but we heard a voice from above and came out from the little canopy and saw a little women sticking her head out the window.  Right when she saw us she poked her head back inside and shut the window on us.  This all happened in 10 minutes or less, and this is usually the turn out we get. 
I got thinking a lot about this and was reading in Alma 26 and came across verse 27 which says: "Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give you success." This was the answer that I needed, but it wasn't how I wanted it.  But it really applies a lot.  Even though we are getting "stood up" and rejected, we need to bear through this with patience and then the Lord will give us success.  These are the word's straight from the Lord, and He would never lie so.... Just gotta go through with patience but I cannot wait for the outcome of it!
So to answer your questions. The meals we usually cook or buy... breakfast: toast and jam. lunch and dinner: dumplings, fried rice, rice bowls with veggies and chicken, chicken breasts with rice.  Those are the usual.  Biking hasn't been too bad.  Playing soccer over the years has helped build muscle in my legs and so its not bad at all.  Dad I'm so glad you got on and viewed my area.  That Burger King you saw, we ride pass that every day.  And Taiwan's pinyin is terrible and so that's why it was "Feng chia".  But that is my area.  I'm at the college almost everyday and right next to that are all the little food shops and that is like the middle of the entire night market. 
Thanks for all your prayers for me and for all the missionaries around the world.  I know the Lord is mindful of us all and hears our prayers.  I'm grateful to be here in Taiwan and I'm grateful for all I have gone through so far. Love you all, Elder Smith

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Almost a Month in Taiwan

The View from my Apartment in Fengjia
Hello family and friends,
Wow it is so good to hear from all of you!  This time last year I was getting ready for college.  Don't have to worry about that for a while.  But the rest of you do haha!  School starts up today (probably in the morning for you guys).  First day of high school for Julia!  Oh you're gonna love it!  Especially with volleyball.  Spencer, live up your junior year and have a party.  Landon is in 6th grade.  Wow! You've grown up so fast Lando.  Keep up your humor.  It's funny!  Anthony, keep working hard.  Sounds pretty rough with the situation that happened previously.  I know you can work everything out and help those come back to church.  Mom, crazy week!  You can rest now that the kids will be in school.  The bbq you guys had looked sooo good!  I can't wait to have my first steak when I get back.  Dad, thank you for your letter.  I couldn't get through all of it because of time, but the parts I read we awesome! Thanks for your story. So on with the week
So last Monday we met with a really awesome family!  We met them while we were on Assistant exchanges.  When they met with us they told us they wanted a good environment to help their 2 year old child grow up in.  I think the church would probably be the best environment for them and so that's what we told them.  We gave them the 1st lesson and I felt it went really well.  They said that they believed our message to be true and so we'll be meeting with them more.  We'll see how it goes.
Tuesday was exciting! I passed off lesson 2 in phase 1.  Improving with the language is always exciting!  So funny story... We were given a referral and so we tried and tried to get a hold of him and meet with him.  We finally set up a time and met with him.  He had had some lessons previously and so we just talked with him for a bit to see where he was at with the gospel.  The more we asked, the more we found out that he had a pretty good relationship and knowledge of the gospel.  We eventually asked him the baptismal questions to see where he was at on everything.  He answered correctly for every single one.  We were like "what?  How is he so golden right now?" We were so excited because we were thinking we were going to baptize this man.  Talked a bit more and then he finally told us he had already been baptized and was a member.  What?? Haha why didn't he tell us this beforehand.  We all had a nice little laugh and then just made sure he was keeping all the commandments.
Wednesday, we just tried to have as many lessons as we could.  Didn't matter who, where, or anything, we just needed to teach some lessons.  We talked to everyone possible and tried to meet with them then and there.  Didn't get much success out of that, but we added some new people as investigators.  We then tried to go sit down with some people at the park.  The first people we came across were these two drunk guys.  We taught them the 1st lesson and they were amazed at everything we talked about! haha it was so funny.  We left and then worked our hardest on finding people. 
Thursday we had a lesson with a friend Tu Dixiong.  We felt we needed to focus on the Restoration, and so we felt we would show him the Restoration film.  His computer wouldn't play it and so we unexpectedly taught him about faith, repentence, and baptism.  It went really well and he committed to baptism which was so awesome!! 
Friday we met with our most recent convert Lin Dixiong and taught him the follow-up lessons.  I don't know what he does but he knows like everything now.  He understood the plan of salvation perfectly.  He has really progressed a lot since we first met with him.  He is now sharing scriptures and insights with us. 
Saturday we decided to go visit some old investigators that previous missionaries forgot about or dropped.  We were in a certain area and there just so happened to be an old investigator in the area.  We got to the door and told his mom/sister that we were "old friends" of his.  She let us in and we met with this kid.  A few minutes after we got there, a man that my companion recognized walked in the door.  It was our ward's Elders Quorum President.  We were wondering why we were there, and we asked him the same question.  Apparently the Elders Quorum President is this kid's uncle.  He sat down with us and encouraged this young man to come to church and learn from us.  I think without his help, he wouldn't have gotten far with this kid.  This kid ended up coming to church and we'll continue to meet with him. 
Sunday was probably the longest day I've been here.  It was my first Ward Council Meeting.  Two hours of not understanding a single word makes it very difficult to stay focused, and awake.  However, I did my best and tried to pick up new words and phrases from them.  All the lessons we had the rest of the day fell through and so we spent the rest of the time trying to find new people and to sit down with them.  One lesson in particular, we asked this man his religious beliefs.  He had none.  We asked if he thought we had a Creator.  He said no.  We asked him why and he said he believes we evolved from sea animals.  We got talking for a bit and then he changed his view right then and said he believed we evolved from rocks.  So…we didn't get very far with this man.
Sorry if it feels like I'm just throwing everything that happened during my week at you.  I have so much to read and so much to write in such a short amount of time.  But the work keeps moving forward.  We are working our hardest to find to teach.  The Lord truly has a part in this work.  It is his work.  I had an opportunity to see that happen this week.  The church is true and the Taiwanese people NEED it in their lives.  Have fun this week!  Be safe! Love you all, Elder Smith
p.s. So a few questions you asked.  The area I am in is called Fengjia.  The only airport I know of here is abandoned…I'm pretty sure there is another one nearby cause he always see planes flying super super low.  I'm not sure what my address is, just cause its all in characters.  Some land points: I'm near are Fengjia University, and Fengjia Nightmarket.  Hopefully that will help you kind of see where I'm located.  The speakers and cd player are working awesome.  I haven't been able to listen much.  We have switched off listening to my stuff and my companions stuff.  I am currently in a ward, but it is super small.  The activities they let us they let us attend FHE every Sunday and last night we played dodgeball--it was alright.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

First Baptism in the Field

New member Lin Zong Yi with Elder Smith and Elder Johnson
Dear family and friends,
This past week went by super fast.  Without my journal I wouldn't be able to remember anything that happened.  But it was good to hear about this past week.  Dad, thanks for the talk outline.  Keep sending those, they are awesome.  Once I am able to communicate better I can use those without a problem.  It also sounded like your reunion went well.  Sounds like a lot of hard work went out on your part for creating the slide show/video, but I'm glad you found some helpers for that.  I just asked a few of the Elders if they knew Elder Oram here and they said they did.  I personally haven't seen or met him but I have something to talk about with him now.  Mom, crazy week huh??  Well now that this Celebration thingy is over you can have some time to relax before you have to send the kiddies of to school.  Anthony, work your hardest these last 100 days you have.  Don't regret a single moment.  Spencer, Julia, and Landon, enjoy the rest of your summer.  Have as much fun as you can because a few of you only have a few summers left to not have to worry about much.  Spencer, work hard with the job.  Julia, I don't know how volleyball tryouts are/went, but if they already happened then hopefully you made the team.  If they haven't, then work your hardest to make it.  Landon, enjoy your summer and start working on those merit badges.  I hope the rest of you had an awesome week and continue to do so.  Well onto my crazy week.
So last Monday we started by heading to a place called Mr. Chicken Head to eat lunch with a few of the Elders and a less active member.  It is very similar to Firehouse Pizza where I used to work, but without the pizzas.  It was so nice to have amazing pasta again.  After the preparation hours, we went and had a few lessons with some less actives, one who used to be the 1st counselor in the bishopric.
Tuesday was an exciting day.  So for learning the language here, there are 3 phases.  1st phase is learning vocab, teaching phrases, promised blessings, scriptures, and grammer for the chapters in lesson 3 of PMG.  We are supposed to learn each of those for each chapter in lesson 3 and then be evaluated by the District Leader on each chapter.  Well, today I passed off everything for lesson 1.  Yay!!!  4 more left and then I can learn my everyday words so I can finally understand these people.  So I don't know if you remember the story from last week about how I had the impression to leave one Book of Mormon in my bag and that we gave it out…But anyway, we met with him this week and taught him about the Plan of Salvation.  He said that he now believes in God and seems to be progressing.  After that lesson, we walked outside and discovered it was raining, harder then I've ever seen it rain.  Rain + no rain gear = church clothes soaking wet.  Yeah, so I have learned that we need to be prepared for every situation.  Which can also be tied into repentance.  We always need to be doing the right things, being prepared for the 2nd coming of Christ.  No one knows when it will happen, but I know I want to be as prepared and worthy as I can for that day. 
Wednesday was Combined District Training Meeting with our entire zone and the Mission President.  We learned how to become better at contacting and how to change our prayers into MIGHTY prayer.  It was so awesome and I learned so much.  It was also good to see Elder Larsen from my district in the MTC.  It was good to hear how he has been doing these first few weeks.  After the training meeting we went to go meet with our new investigators, but each of them fell through and never showed up.  Only if these people knew what they were missing...
Thursday was probably the scariest day of my life.  I am so glad to be serving where there are a bunch of Buddhists, Daoists, etc. . . Instead of Christians who know the Bible like the back of their hand.  We meet with a man from Oregon, who married a Tawainese lady and lives here with her.  He speaks very good Chinese and obviously his English is amazing.  So this man was interested to know about our religion (not).  He believes that Heavenly Father, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all spirits and one god.  He believes that God pre-ordained people who is going to save.  And obviously that it is by grace that those "preordained" people are saved.  He believes Christ did everything for us and so we don't have to do anything but believe in him and as long as we believe in him, then we are part of that pre-ordained group to be saved.  I thought we handled it very well, it’s just his heart was very hardened and didn't allow our message to touch him.  Even though he didn't feel the spirit, I know for sure that I did when our testimonies were shared. 
Friday was another awesome day.  We went on Assistant exchanges.  At first I was kind of nervous because I don't know the language, don't know how effective my contacting skills are, etc . . . but as I worked my hardest I saw that the Lord blessed me.  I honestly think that day was the hardest I have worked so far.  I talked to every single person that I saw and didn't stop talking.  I saw from our effort, we were able to add 25 new potential investigators all with times to meet. 
Saturday was the day I have been looking forward to all week.  It was Lin Zong Yi's baptism.  He truly has prepared well and has a strong testimony of this gospel.  The spirit was so strong at this meeting and I could definitely feel it during his testimony, even though I didn't understand a word of it. 
Sunday was a rough day.  Started off great with Lin Zong Yi's confirmation, but later on in the day it was hard to find people to contact.  So apparently this month is "ghost month" (I think) and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is worshipping their ancestors.  They all have food outside their homes, burning incense, worshipping, and throwing paper money in the fire.  I found out that they believe that their ancestors can use this money in the world they are in to buy things.  They can also "spiritually" eat the food that they have placed out.  Weird.  One of our investigators, we went to visit, was worshipping.  We didn't want to interrupt anything so we said a prayer with him. 
So yeah that was this week.  I'm grateful to be here in Taiwan even though I don't understand anyone.  I know that I am here for a specific purpose and I will work my hardest so that one specific purpose gets fulfilled.  This morning I read an article about the conversion story of the man who translated the Book of Mormon and a lot of other church books from English to Chinese.  I forget his name but I want you to look it up.  It is awesome.  Love you all and hope all is well and continues to go well.  If you have any questions about Taiwan or anything (I know that I haven't answered some questions, so re-ask them because I have forgotten them) please feel free to ask.  Til next week
Love Elder Smith
p.s. These are pictures of the baptism with my trainer, the city from my apartment, part of the night market during the day.  At night you can barely walk cause it is so crowded.  The one with the sword was my first night in taiwan before i knew my area. Enjoy

Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting Use to Lots of Contacting

Hey family and friends,
It is so good to hear that everything is going well back in Utah!  Dad, yesterday was Father's Day here in Taiwan, SO HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!  Let me just tell you something about the food.  It is so good here.  Everyday we eat dumplings, fried rice, or this chicken curry thing and it is so good.  But to be honest, the food doesn't live up to the quality of Uncle Mike's Chinese food he made for us.  His was so so so good!!! But the food here is still amazing.  This just tells you how awesomely good Uncle Mike's food is . . . It's been a crazy week so I'm gonna jump right into it.
Last Monday, for the rest of p-day we went out to eat with all the elders, sisters, and some of the singles here in Fengjia.  We went and ate some snake :)  It wasn't that bad, but didn't really have too much of a flavor.  Went out tracting for our English class, and found some potential investigators.
Tuesday we met with a Brother Jiang and taught him the 3rd lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Afterwards we went out contacting in the street.  We pulled up to an intersection and I just felt I needed to talk to this young man, and tell him we had a special message about Jesus Christ.  He pulled over and wanted to be taught right there and then.  I didn't know what to do haha.  We ended up going to a park and taught him and gave him a Book of Mormon.  Unfortunately he isn't in our area and so hopefully the other missionaries are meeting with him
Wednesday we meet with a few people.  First was Brother Zhan. We tried to commit him to baptism but he won't just yet.  It's kinda frustrating.  Then we met with Brother Lin and talked about the law of tithing.  We then went over the baptismal questions with him, he is getting baptized this Saturday, and it all went well until the last question.  It is about consecrating our lives to the gospel, or something like that.  He whipped out 2 Nephi 4: 17-18 and told us that he didn't know if he could because he knew he would make mistakes.  We told him that that is why we have repentance.  He is such a golden investigator and I can't wait for his baptism.  Later that night we taught an English class to the natives here.  I was in charge of the "advanced" class and they just wanted to discuss certain subjects.  I learned from them why they do scare off monsters.  Anyway...haha
Thursday, we spent a lot of time just contacting on the street. All our appointments fell through and so we couldn't really do much besides visit less-actives, who are never home, or contact.  Not a lot happened today.
Friday was another unsuccessful day.  We had our weekly planning session and then headed to McDonald's to eat for lunch.  While we were there, two little Taiwanese girls came and talked to us.  They said we had beautiful hair and eyes haha. Went back out contacting and trying to find some less actives.  We went to an individual’s home, but he wasn't there.  On our way out, some guy was making these kissing noises.  All of a sudden, this little bird flew out of nowhere and landed in his hand.  We went over and talked with him, Elder Johnson did, and I got to hold and play with the bird.  It was AWESOME!!! The man also taught me to speak niaoyu (bird language) so at least I've learned one language so far.  Went back out, contacted, and had no success.
Saturday, we had an appointment at the Fengjia University with an investigator, but he fell through.  Then we headed to the church so we could have Brother Lin's baptismal interview.  He passed!  I'm so excited for him!!!  Afterwards we headed back to the apartment to grab something.  Ever since I came to the island, I have been carrying around 3 book of Mormon's to give out to our investigators, but since they kept falling through I decided to take them out.  I then had this feeling I needed to keep one in my bag.  I told Elder Johnson that our goal for the rest of the day was to give this Book of Mormon out.  I completely forgot about the book, and as we went out to meet a less active, we met another young man who lived right next to this less active.  At first we didn't talk much with the kid cause he were trying to get a hold of this less active.  We gave up and then decided to talk to this kid.  Turns out, we ended up teaching him the 1st lesson and gave him that Book of Mormon.  Just a cool little story!
Sunday was a bit relaxing.  At church and testimony meeting, I didn't understand a single word, which is ok for now.  Then we went to meet with a less active and rode across the airport which was relaxing and very very quiet.  Found out that the less active wasn't home AND that he was a long ways out of our area.  So we quickly returned back.  Oh, forgot to tell you this.  So every single day since I got here, we have been coming to one of our investigator's house.  Every day.  He lives high up in the apartment and takes forever to get up to.  Everyday he hasn't been there.  We have left him notes and each day we come back the note is gone.  Today we finally caught him.  He told us he hasn't been keeping the commandments as much as he could.  He has been drinking just a little bit, which he has been justifying saying that he hasn't been drinking a lot, only a little bit.  We committed him to drink no more.  Then we went back out contacting with no success at all. 
Well that has been my week.  We have been trying to think of better ways to find those people who are ready to hear the gospel.  It is just so hard when everyone is in a hurry to go somewhere.  They have no time and don't want to meet because they say they are Buddhist.  And then the ones who are Christian here say they don't want to meet with us because their minister told them that us Mormons are evil.  I don't get it!  So that is my life right now. I love you all, hope all is well, and can't wait to hear from you all. Love Elder Smith