Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and Welcome Home Anthony

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
Hello everyone and ANTHONY,
First of all I hope you all had such a wonderful Thanksgiving, especially because Anthony is home now.  Wow, that is weird to think about...  Also, Happy Birthday to Uncle Mike!  Hope you have an awesome day.  Well, going through all those photos of the family with Anthony kind of made me a little trunky.  But I'm over it now.  So this past week was what we call "Power Week" and we focused on certain things for each day, so lets get right on into it.
Tuesday was "baptismal goal day."  Pretty much the entire day was spent giving out as many baptismal goals as we could.  One individual in particular was named Charles.  He is a former investigator who has met with missionaries for over 15 years.  He was taught everything and has been to church a ton so we tried giving him a goal to be baptized.  His excuse for not being baptized was his doctor told him he could not get water in his "inflammatory ears."  We thought of a ton of solutions to overcome this problem: ear plugs, finding some heavy duty head gear to cover his ears with the ear plugs in, all the way down to wearing scuba gear.  For all of these solutions he said, "bu yi ding" which means it's not certain that water won't enter in.  He told us we could ask his doctor if we could baptize him, and so that was Friday's activity..
Wednesday was "invite recent converts to attend the temple day."  We were able to give all our recent converts goals to attend the temple and get their recommends which was awesome, especially our newest convert Wu dixiong. 
Thursday was "place 10 Books of Mormon day," and also Thanksgiving!!!  The closest thing I got to eating thanksgiving food was an apple pie and sundae from McDonalds.  So our goal for this day was to give out 10 Books of Mormon as a companionship, which means 1000+ as an entire mission.  We were able to sit down with 7 new people and give them all a Book of Mormon.  Our entire mission was able to give out 1023 Books of Mormon which is a ton.  Just think of all 1000 of these people got baptized... That would be cool!
Friday was "member switch day," and we were supposed to go out with a ward member and proselyte.  Well, all our ward members either had work our school, so it kinda didn't happen for us.  However, I went on zone leader exchanges and had two Taiwanese as my companions.  Having them with me really helped a lot with the language. 
That was pretty much how my week went!  However, there is something I want to share especially with Anthony.  So this week we sat down with an RM (came home the Thursday before you did) and taught a few of his friends here at school.  He expressed to us that serving a mission changed his life, and he wants this same change to happen to his friends.  Even though he was released last week as a missionary, he continues to go on with the work.  I know a lot of your friends are on missions right now, but never forget that you can still share the gospel.  That is one commitment we made when we got baptized.  So have fun watching your movies, listening to music, and relaxing until school starts, but don't forget you can still share the gospel.  It may not be in Spanish that you are used to sharing it in, but you can do it!
Well I love you all, and hope all is well with an RM in the home. 
Love, Elder Smith
p.s. Dad, the best way to give me those files is to put it on a CD and send it to me.  Thanks!  Record Anthony's homecoming talk as well, I would love to hear it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Week in the Life of Elder Smith

At the mountain top Temple

Enjoying some Taiwan Cuisine

Hey, It's Elder Smith!
Hello everybody!
To start off this letter, I'd first like to congratulate my wonderful brother Elder Anthony Smith on being such a wonderful missionary.  He has been such an awesome example to me and I'm proud of his service to the Lord.  Thank you for all of your letters, especially Uncle Mike.  I've had some of those similar experiences, but the best way to handle those situations is to work through the spirit, and not with contention.  Well, another rough week has gone by so lets get on with it.
Last Monday was probably the worst p-days ever.  It began by biking to a different area to check out some buddhist temples.  The bike ride to one temple wasn't bad, but the actual hike up to it was the worst.  Super super steep.  After checking out that temple we decided to bike up the rest of the mountain.  Wasn't too bad until we hit a point where it was honestly a 45 degree angle, maybe even more than that.  Through multiple muscle cramps and several stops, we made it to the top of the mountain in a little over 1 1/2 hours.  That is why it was the worst p-day ever.  However, the 10 minute bike ride down made up for it.  (Mom I want you to think about how fast I was going.  A lot faster than all the cars and motorcycles going down :)   )  Then we spent the rest of the night meeting and sitting down with our less-active members.
Tuesday, our companionship got a third member.  He is a temporary missionary until he goes to the Phillapines MTC before he serves in Taibei.  Basically what this means is that I am Assistant Trainer :)  Our day started off by going to District Training Meeting where we learned how we can better work with "pei ke's", which are members that come help teach with our investigators.  Then we sat down with a family who were golden clear back in August.  The dad of the family is very frustrating to work with because he won't pray.  Without pray it is impossible to build that relationship with God and to know of the truthfulness of this church. 
Wednesday we sat down with such an awesome family.  Interesting story though.  We ran into this guy and he wouldn't give us his info, but said he would call us when he wanted to meet.  Well he called and we sat down with him and he told us his family situation.  This guy, his son, and his daughter-in-law all want to be Christian.  However, their mom wants them all the be Buddhist and "bai bai" (worship) so there has been this huge conflict between the family.  Well the dad of this family has read and heard a little bit about our church and wants to know more about us, but he doesn't want his wife to know.  Since she doesn't speak English and the rest of them do, he wanted us to teach in English (which by the way is like impossible for me right now).  We taught them about how we can be with our families together forever, and it all starts with basic things, all the info about the Restoration.  He truly loved the idea about prayer and how we can talk with God.  He also loved how if he reads the Book of Mormon and prays, he can receive an answer from God.  Absolutely loved it! 
Thursday we sat down with one of our investigators who was given a baptismal goal for the 26th, but since he didn't come to church this past week his goal drops.  However, he is still willing to do the things he needs to in order to be baptized: read, pray, and come to church. 
Not much else happened this past week besides visiting some less-actives, and strengthening our recent converts.
I truly hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, which I know you will cause Anthony will be there.  I'm grateful for all of your prayers and I absolutely love Taiwan and the Taiwanese people.  I love you all!  Be safe, especially through this upcoming winter.
Love, Elder Smith 
p.s. Take lots of pictures when Anthony comes off the plane, when he gets released, Thanksgiving day, his first Sunday in America, etc...  Take LOTS OF PICTURES :)  Thanks!
p.s.s. my companion got hit by a scooter as we was cruising through an intersection.  hit the scooter and did a full front flip over their scooter.  landed on his back with no damage done to him, only his bike.. so yeah :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Six Months . . . What? Already?

The days go by slow, the weeks go by fast, and the months seem to go even faster.  Wow!  This past week I hit my 6 month mark.  Looking back to when I entered the MTC seemed like forever ago, but yet it has gone by so fast.  I'm grateful for this time and I'm enjoying every second of it.  Not a whole lot happened this past week, so lets get right on into it.
Tuesday we sat down with a very interesting fellow.  We had met him at the grocery store and he started talking about coke, or something like that.  Well we sat down with him and he just started talking about what he bought on ebay.  It was weird.  Told us he bought a 50 trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill on ebay for 100 kuay (about 3 US dollars).  Told us he had sent it to Africa to see if it was real and to get his money.  During all this we were trying to teach him the Message of the Restoration.  After everything we talked about he would say, "I'll get baptized when I get my money."--Very interesting guy. 
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were really tough to try to sit down with people.  It has been raining the past couple days, and so we already knew all our lessons would fall through.  The people here absolutely hate going out in the rain.  Don't know why, but they just do.  However, we were able to sit down with one of our progressing investigators, Chen dixiong.  He has been so good lately, very shy, but very willing to keep his commitments.  We gave him a baptismal goal, so hopefully I'm still in the area to see it!  Sorry there ain't much else... 
I'm working my best and I'm loving every second of it.  The language is still slowly coming, but it has been amazing to see how the Lord has put word's into my mouth to say.  This truly is the Lord's work and I'm grateful for this wonderful privilege to serve.  Just like Anthony said, now is the time for Spencer and Landon, and maybe even Julia, to prepare to serve a mission.  He was 100% right on how you can prepare: daily scripture study, daily prayer, and going to church weekly.  So simple, right?  "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6)  Love you all and can't wait to hear how things will be with a RM in the home!! 
This question is for mom, dad, other family members, neighbors, etc... In 3-4 sentences, how has the Gospel of Jesus Christ blessed your family? I'm just curious because I run into a lot of people who say family (ancestors) are important, and so I would like some "wise words" from parents and older-ish people to share with the people here how this gospel can bless them. Thank you!!!
Love, Elder Smith

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Life Flashed Before My Eyes!

It's letters home like this one that get me down on my knees to thank Heavenly Father for protecting my missionary sons while at the same time, I am pleading with the Lord for their continual health, safety, and protection! It just so happens I placed Elder Smith's name on the Temple Prayer Roll this past Tuesday which would be his Wednesday (just in time) . . . I strongly believe temple prayers of faith offered in behalf of our missionaries also brings them added protection and safety! Thanks for all of your prayers for the missionaries!! -- Kim
First of all I'd like to say that I miss snow! I hear you got a little bit this past week and I would definitely love some here on this hot humid island. I also would like to congratulate two awesome people. First is my cousin Cole. Congratulations on your baptism. Baptism is such a wonderful start to this journey and it's too bad I missed it. Second is to my favorite professor while at BYU, Grandpa Kohkonen. Happy Birthday!!! I bet you had an awesome day! Thanks for everything you and Grandma did to make my time at BYU a blast! Don't think I have anything else, so on with this week.
On Tuesday we sat down with a man, Li dixiong, that we ran into tracting a couple weeks ago. At that time we gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it. Well, when we sat down with him he had mentioned to us that he reads a little bit from it and the Bible every night. So good! He had a lot of questions about our church and why we are different from other Christian churches. We said there was a pretty big difference, and then he invited his friends and another couple who lives with them to listen to our message. We taught them all the Message of the Restoration. The lesson went so well and the Spirit definitely guided the lesson.
Wednesday was probably the scariest day of my mission. So it began by heading to the mission home for a conference meeting. Elder Gerrit W. Gong, I think in the Quorum of the Seventy, came and did a Mission Tour. We had the privilege to hear from him and I learned so much from him. The one thing I love about this gospel is that I am constantly learning new things everyday. Well, that took up most of the day, pretty much until dinner, and then we had one lesson before English class. After English class we were riding down our usual route home, and some truck came cruising behind us. I was riding like in the middle of the lane and he just starts blaring his horn. I gradually moved outside of the lane, but he kept his horn blaring for like 30 seconds. Then he speeds up in front of us and just slams on his brakes. We had to quickly swerve out of the way so we wouldn't hit his truck. We just thought that that was the spot he was parking, and that we were in his path. NOPE! He sped right back up and came right by us and was swerving and trying to hit us with his truck. At this point we were riding as fast as we could. He finally cornered me in between some cars and yelled something in Taiwanese that I totally didn't understand. I looked at him and the only thing I could think of to say was "pai sei" (pie say) which is Taiwanese. It pretty much means, "oops, i'm sorry" kinda thing. Pulled around his truck and tried to catch up to my companion. This guy came again cruising right behind us. We were going in and out of cars to get away from him and finally pulled up to a stoplight. We were so lucky it was a red light or else we would have been doomed cause we still had this long bridge to cross over. We finally got away, but some lady came up and said that he was right behind us. I don't think I've ever biked so hard in my life, and the whole way home I was thinking "I'm gonna die!!!" Well, we made it home safe and sound! So that was my adventure this week.
Thursday was spent waiting for an investigator to arrive at the church for our lesson. He couldn't find the address and was looking for a good solid hour and a half. Finally found it and had a good lesson with him. Showed him the Restoration film and reviewed the Message of the Restoration. That took up most of our afternoon, and so we decided to head on over to a restaurant where a member "qing'd" (chinged?) us out for dinner. It turned out to be a Hot-Pot Buffett. Do you remember what hot pot is? Well this was an all you can eat hot-pot place. It was like heaven eating there. Tried some new things: pig foot, fish stomach, and cow stomach. They even had a chocolate fountain and everything. It was so good.
Friday was weekly planning and then afterwards we ate at T.G.I. Friday's :) That day we had such an awesome lesson with a guy named Deng. The first thing he had said when he sat down with us was that he had been reading some of our "doctrine" online about how we don't smoke, drink tea or alcohol, and all that other stuff. He then said he did all that stuff, but he wanted to learn more about our church and asked if that was all right. Of course it was all right! We had a super fast lesson since he was in a hurry, but he is so prepared. Said he would read and pray but didn't know when he could meet next cause he travels a lot for work.
That is all that really happened this past week. The mid-terms at the college are now over, well tomorrow is the last day, so that won't be an excuse anymore for a while. I'm so grateful to be here, and I absolutely love every second of it! Even though the people here are challenging to work with, I love them. I know this is where I am supposed to be, and I know there is a reason why I am here. I'm grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for everything this gospel has given me. I miss and love you all!
Love, Elder Smith