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