Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Week in One Word . . . JABBERWOCKY!

It appears that Elder Smith, based on the subject field he picked for of this week's letter, may have either hit a "brick wall" with the language, in that a lot of it made no sense to him or that he felt like this week's work was made up of a lot of unexplainable twists and turns . . . nonetheless, he very cleverly conveyed his week to us, using the word "jabberwocky!" (look it up, 'cause I had to!) We are truly grateful to the Lord for keeping Elder Smith safe, healthy, and happy. Thanks always for your prayers in his behalf as well as all the missionaries serving throughout the world! 
Last week of March!  What already?!  Time is not playing very fair right now, but I have to live with it.  It keeps on cruising on by...  Well, how 'bout we get on with this week.  How does that sound?
Tuesday was a lovely day full of long bus rides to district meeting and back.  At district training meeting we learned about "The Lord's way to teach."  We learned that we need to observe, listen, and discern, before we began to teach and preach.  As we do so, we will be more in tune with the Spirit, teaching to their needs, thus helping them come unto Christ through repentance and baptism.  As we came in to our small town of HengChun, we ran into one of our less actives and sat down with him for a little bit.  He has run into problems lately and feels how he is handling them is alright.  Feels his way of enduring to the end us alright.  I'd just like to point out that I'm grateful for my testimony on enduring to the end.  I know that as we live according to the principles and ordinances of the gospel, endeavor to keep the commandments of God, and endure to the end, we can receive God's mercy and return to live with Him.
Wednesday began with my best friend in the entire world, Brother Hua, by going on up to Mudan (Aborigine territorry) and proselyting up there.  Being a Wednesday, and the morning/afternoon time, there weren't very many people on up there.  However, we were able to sit down with his cousin, who is a member of the Presbyterian church, and teach her a little bit.  Well, we (Elder Garey and I) didn't really teach much because Brother Hua was just sharing his testimony left and right, which was so AWESOME!  I can just see he has a huge desire to help his family come into this church and receive all of its blessings. 
Thursday was a rough day with absolutely no one on the roads.  With absolutely no lessons and no one on the road to talk to, it makes it a lot harder to help people be baptized.  However, we did take a nice long bike ride into our neighboring area to visit with one of our progressors, Brother Dong.  As we got there he seemed a little bit happier and opened up more than he had in the past.  He mentioned he has been reading a little bit lately, but hasn't felt anything yet.  It'll slowly come.  We then taught him the Plan of Salvation and seemed to understand it well.  He confirmed and even came to church this Sunday!
Friday went by fairly quickly. Had weekly planning, and then went out the door to do some service for our good friends Joe and Klara.  Klara, I'm sure I've mentioned before, is an eternal investigator that has been visiting with missionaries for over 4 years or so.  After we helped them paint some damaged walls in their home, we started all over with the basics and talked about God (has a belief of many gods and that they have a teamwork system going on).  She also just barely finished reading the Book of Mormon and has some doubts about a few things, so we now know for sure what we can help her work on to finally help her to be baptized. 
Saturday we went on a hunt for less active members.  We began by visting Sister Pan, a recent convert, and helping her finish her new member lessons.  We then went out on a search to find a few less-actives (kinda felt like I was in the army on a secret mission).  Well, turns out we ended up riding through the army base  that is here for the people who have to do the mandatory army (which would never be allowed anywhere in America by the way).  So I felt pretty cool as we did that.  We ended up in the middle of nowhere, unable to find a less active's home.  Turns out, God still has a purpose as He does his work.  Even though we were in the middle of nowhere, in the hills with nothing around us, we were able to run into an investigator from Taipei, who is working his hardest to quite smoking to be baptized.  He still has a long time before he gets out of the army, but he is doing all he can so he can be baptized as soon as possible.  I know we were placed there for a reason.  Maybe it was just to give him a greater desire to push forward to be baptized or something, but I know we weren't there just by chance.  
I know that God does have a hand in this work, and like Mom mentioned to me in her email, he knows each one of us individually.  More than we know ourselves.  I just wish and hope that the whole world can come to a knowledge of their Heavenly Father and come to feel of His love for them. I love you all!  And wish you all a wonderful last week of March
Love, Elder Smith 司馬長老

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Know My Savior

Another Monday in HengChun means another week has gone by.  The days, especially this past week, go by slow, yet the weeks and months just seem to fly on by without saying hello.  
Last Monday was a great day of realization for me.  We ran into a Christian man who went off saying "I love Jesus.  Jesus loves you."  After talking with him for a bit, he didn't really know why.  He mentioned that Christianity was passed down in his family as a tradition, just like the Buddhist and Daoist religions.  I've also realized that religion is viewed by him as an "emotional crutch."  When you need it, you rely on it.  When you don't, you don't.  During this conversation, it hit me that I know why I love Jesus and why He loves me.  He loves us so much and gave us the gospel to help us learn and grow spiritually to help us prepare to return to our Heavenly Father.  It's not a crutch to lean on when emotionally in pain.  
Tuesday we had District Training meeting where we learned how to use the spirit to invite people to be baptized.  From there, we headed on over to one of our secondary areas to go contacting and find new investigators.  We went to visit a recent investigator, but he wasn't home.  His brother answered the door and was super willingly let us in.  We began teaching him and to be honest, it didn't go that bad. 
Well, sorry you only get a portion of this past weeks events.  Because these computers are timed, I only have a few more minutes.  Just want you all to know that I'm doing well, and will always be doing well.  Times get rough, but in the words of Elder Dong, "Just be happy and work your hardest."  
Well, that's all folks!
Love, Elder Smith 司馬長老

Monday, March 12, 2012

Livin' on a Bus

Hello!  你們好!
How are ya'll doin this fine day?!  It was great to hear from you all, and dad you be safe in New Mexico.  Don't get too bored while you're there 好不好?  I absolutely love all the updates from you mom, especially about Landon attending the Priesthood Preview.  Landon, just think, in 2 months you'll be getting the priesthood.  That is such an exciting day for you.  Look forward to that day, and the many days ahead of you :)  Well, lets yesterday I hit 10 months.  It keeps on going faster and faster, but I love every second of it. Well, that's about it.  On with this week! 
Tuesday morning we began by visiting a man, a former investigator, named George.  He is kind of older, probably in his 80s, and absolutely loves learning English.  I wouldn't be surprised if he spent all day every day up in his room watching English television shows and playing on his little electronic dictionary.  Well, we began by yelling out loud the the introduction of the Book of Mormon with him, in English and Chinese, because he can't hear very well, and then gave him homework to be able to read the last two paragraphs for us in English the next time we visit him.  He was pretty excited to do so!  We then went on Zone Leader exchanges, and Elder Farr came down to roll with me in HengChun.  We visited Hua dx and talked about some goals that he had in the future.  He mentioned that he wanted to start off by helping his family come into the gospel to get sealed in the temple for eternity, then help his neighbors, and then he said he had a desire to go to China and do missionary work there.  Wouldn't be surprised if he becomes one of the first Mission Presidents in China. 
Well because of what happened on Wednesday, I now know what it feels like to be a bus driver, it would not be fun at all.  Began by heading on up to PingDong to get my companion back.  Took a long bus ride up, grabbed my companion, and took a long bus ride home.  Well, we were almost home when we got a phone call from a member in my district saying that they had an investigator who was looking good for baptism and needed an interview.  Since thursday morning we would have to end up going back up to GaoXiong for Zone Conference, we decided to head on up and do the interview that night.  It just made things a little more convenient.  So we got back to HengChun, grabbed some things, and then took another long bus ride up.  I was basically on a bus the entire day.  Never want to do it again.  Well, it was my very first baptismal interview and I had no clue what to do, but all went well.  Anthony sent me an email saying that he really misses doing baptismal interviews, because he got to hear the stories of how they changed and stuff like that.  What he said is totally true!  This man has lived directly across the street from the church for his entire life, and has never seen missionaries before.  Weird!  He was Atheist before he met with the missionaries, but now is dedicated to and believes in God.  His story was so wonderful to listen to, and I'm looking forward to a many more baptismal interviews.
Thursday was Zone Conference and was focused on the Spirit.  I absolutely love gathering together as an army of missionaries, and being spiritually uplifted.  I definitely learned more about my responsibility, and how I can use the Spirit more effectively in my teaching.
Friday was such an awesome day.  After weekly planning, we decided to visit a former investigator, Brother Chen.  In previous visits, his interest level has been very low.  He absolutely does not like to worry about anything in life.  He loves living the simple life.  His friends are few, because if he has many, he has to worry about too much.  Hasn't been too interested in wanting to read the scriptures because it just brings more worries into his life.  Well, when we visited him he mentioned those same concerns and also that we were raised in this church and already know of the truthfulness of these things.  We then testified of how our lovely parents dragged us to church weekly because they knew it was true.  We lived the principles of the church because we had been grown up in them.  However, we testified powerfully that we still had to find out for ourselves that what we were living was true.  From that point on his interest level changed.  He then basically demanded to know how we know these things and how they have blessed our families.  It was so amazing to see that change in him in just the matter of seconds.  I look forward to further changes in the future. 
Well, that's basically what happened this week.  If any of you have questions about the life here in HengChun/Taiwan, feel free to ask.  If not that's fine too...  Umm, well I absolutely love it here in HengChun, and love serving in Taiwan.  I love my time as a missionary, and cherish every second of it.  My time is short, don't have much longer, so I'll continue to give it all I've got.  I love you all, miss you all, and hope you all are safe :)  Til next time! 
Love, Elder Smith 司馬長老
p.s. sorry about the random Chinese.  i just barely learned how to use it and its super fun now

Sunday, March 4, 2012

20 year old in Paradise

Hello everyone,
So HengChun finds us today with some clear blue sky, a mild temperature of HOT, along with a good rest to prepare for the day.  Wow, its sounds like the typical lifestyle in paradise.  Well, thats how this past week has felt like, paradise.  I'm so glad I got to see and hear about the baptism of my cousin Kamryn.  Congratulations to you!!!  Well, so lets get on with this paradisical week...
Monday was spent buying things and getting all prepared for the week, and then started off by sitting down with our good ole buddy Zheng dx.  We shared with him about how our physical body has some needs we need to attend to: sleeping, eating, showering, etc. and mentioned that our spirits are the same.  They have some needs that need attending to help them grow and mature such as praying, reading scriptures, attending church, service, etc. He really took it in, and seems to have had a greater desire to be more diligent in doing those things.
Most of Tuesday found us sitting on a bus traveling back and forth to District Training Meeting.  Well, it was the first one that I had to teach, and was probably one of the harder topics to teach about for a full hour and a half.  We learned about how we can find better through english class/contacting.  Was super dry, but a lot was learned as we had fun with it.  We then visited with Zheng dx again, but it was to mainly focus on his friend Jerry.  We taught them a part of the Plan of Salvation, and focused on the Atonement and Christ's role in the plan.
Wednesday was a great day to spend teaching a few of the recent converts in the area, especially Hua dx.  Today we shared with him about how he can receive personal revelation for himself. 
Friday didn't feel different than any other day of the week.  However, it was my birthday, and I tried to celebrate as best as I could.  It began by planning for our investigators in weekly planning and then taking myself out to eat at my favorite restaurant.  Other than that, we spent the day contacting and trying to visit a few recent converts and less-actives.
Saturday we met with another one of our progressing investigators.  He actually is a forest ranger and lives super far into the mountains, so we took a nice lovely bike ride there.  Taught about the importance of the Book of Mormon, and we was quite interested in the actual facts about its history.  I'm hoping that sparked his interest.
Sunday was a special day to me.  In addition to it being fast and testimony meeting, I realized that it was the 12th anniversary of my baptism.  In previous years that never clicked in my mind, but I'm glad it came through.  I began thinking back 12 years ago, but couldn't quite remember much about my baptism besides my super large quilt I received as a gift.  However, I'm so glad I made the decision to be baptized.  Even though I may have not known a whole lot about what I was getting into then and the importance of it, I'm extremely grateful for that decision to follow our Savior Jesus Christ.  I'm so glad that I have the knowledge of God's plan for me, and that if I live according to His teachings, I can live in a state of paradise, better than HengChun, with my loved ones. 
Well, I love you all, miss you all, and I love this work! Love, Elder Smith