Sunday, July 29, 2012

Look what the cat dragged in . . . 1 year in Taiwan!

Brother Ke's baptismal day
Hey Everyone!
How's it going?  How'd your week go?  I hope it was full of joy and excitement like mine was.  It was great to celebrate Pioneer Day as well as being on the island of Taiwan for 1 year!  Despite the fact that my stomach was not comfortable (most likely due to food poisoning or a parasite), it was still a successful week.  With nothing else, lets get right on into it.
Monday we took time out of our preparation day to visit with our break-dancing friend, Mr. Zhang.  This lesson was a huge surprise to both my companion and I, but went absolutely perfect.  Before we even began teaching the lesson he broke down in tears.  He shared about the feeling he got by hanging around us and by talking with us, that it was something he had never felt before.  Tears flowed throughout the lesson as we shared about the personal relevance that the gospel has with him and his family.  His family situation isn't the best, and he feels that he can change it, and wants to with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is so amazing how the Spirit works within others.  As he prayed at the end, tears flowed as he asked for help and strength  in his family.  It is was a big surprise to see an 18 year old like him softened by the Spirit, giving him a desire to change.  
Tuesday I went on companion exchanges with my Zone Leader, Elder Peel.  He is such a great example to me and there were quite a few things that helped us connect and work well together (ADTR).  The biggest thing I learned from working with him was the ability to teach using scriptures.  I definitely saw the spirit it brought into each lesson, and the power and validity it brings to our message.  
Wednesday was a rough day for me, which made it rough to get a lot accomplished.  Long story short, the food poisoning, parasite, or whatever it was really got to my stomach which left us constantly riding back and forth to the nearest restroom.  Yeah, that sums the entire day up.
Thursday was similar to that of Wednesday, just not as bad.  However, we did have a few lessons along the way which did make the day go a lot better than it was.  
Friday brought a flow of memories back into my mind.  Went on exchanges with my District Leader and previous companion. Elder Garey.  The memories of us serving in HengChun together just flowed into our minds as we worked together, taught together, and just had fun together.  The highlight of that day actually resulted us splitting off and teaching two different investigators.  I sat down with a guy, Mr. Wu, and things just clicked well between us.  He has a Catholic background, but really wants to learn more about Christ.  I tried that lesson to share every principle from the scriptures.  I definitely saw the help and power that it brought into the lesson.  He understood with clarity each portion of the lesson which clicked right away with him.  The most important part that clicked for him was the authority from God.  He wants to learn more and I look forward to helping him in the near future.
Saturday was full of joy and excitement for us.  It was Brother Ke's baptism!  Although I didn't get to know him a whole lot before his baptism, he was prepared well and will be a great member of the church.  Our Mr. Zhang that we visited with on Monday came and watched him get baptized.  It was a great experience for him to see and then he stayed for the talent show our ward held afterward.  Turns out he even participated with us by break-dancing.  My companion did the worm as Mr. Zhang did some crazy dancing for the ward.  Overall it was a fun, successful night.
Well, because of time I gotta make this quick.  Missionary work is the best.  Seeing the change that individuals make because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best.  I love seeing this change within these individuals as well as in myself.  I know that it is the path of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to true happiness in this life and eternal happiness in the life to come.  I love this work.  I love my mission.  I love you all.  
Love the One and Only,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy Pioneer Day!

Dear Everyone,
Another week has come and gone!  And so has another birthday,  HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIA!  Happy Sweet-16!  You can now officially trim church bushes on your own, and along with that you can also start dating.  I look forward to hearing more about those.  It was good to hear from all of you this week and to hear how your summer has played out so far.  Pioneer Day is just around the corner, remember to play safe.  Well, without much else lets get right on into this week...
Monday not a whole lot happened.  Had a few lessons cancel on us, which is a bummer, but things turned out pretty good from there on out.  We were contacting at social education center and actually ran into a bunch of break-dancing teenagers.  I did my best to keep the tunes out of my head as we contacted one of these break-dancing kids.  One thing we noticed is that when we contact a group of people, it's usually the ones who have a little bit of interest that stay around and talk with us.  Well, one of them lingered around and we talked to him for a while.  We mentioned he had quite a bit of interest in learning a bit more, didn't think his friends would, and turns out we will be meeting with him in just a short little while.  From there on out we just hit the roads contacting.
Tuesday went by super fast for me.  We began by eating with one of our ward members, Brother Lin.  Since I just moved to this area I want to get to know the members well and have good relations with them, so I've been doing my best to find a time to sit down with each of them.  Got to know him a bit before we went on over to the church to fix our ward list.  Missionaries before I arrived to this area went through the ward list and made notes on all the changes for addresses, phone numbers, etc...  Well, to make our job a lot easier we met with the ward clerk to fix it all.  Took a long time to fix, and when we did, we went "power-boarding" to invite people to our english class.  We went to this super crazy intersection with hundreds and hundreds of people at, and passed out english flyers and invited them all to come learn free English.  We then later on visited with one the recent converts, Brother Lin.  We taught him about repentance and shared the story of Alma the Younger with him.  Just like Alma, we can all be free from the pain, guilt, and sorrow that comes from sin.  It is because of the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we are able to do so.  
Wednesday was amazing!  We sat down with our investigator Brother Ke and shared the 10 commandments and about the baptismal covenant.  He understands it completely, willing to live each and every commandment, and is well on his way towards his baptism, which just so happens to be this Saturday, the 28th.  He is well-prepared and I am looking forward to his baptism this weekend.  Had a wonderfully fun time at english tonight, teaching with my good friend Elder Nickell.
Zone Conference Thursday was the best, just like it always is.  The overall topic for this Zone Conference was repentance and forgiveness.  There is so much that I could write that I learned about, but for times sake I'll keep it short.   I learned that it is through sincere repentance that qualifies us for the forgiving, healing power the Atonement of Christ brings.  It is because of Christ's sacrifice that enables us to be cleansed and free from the burden sin brings into our lives.  I will be forever grateful for my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and for the wonderful gift of repentance he has enabled me to use daily to become a better person.
Saturday began off bright and early by going to the hospital to give a priesthood blessing to a 4 month year old baby of some members from Hong Kong.  Without going into a lot of detail with it all, the baby has had lots of symptoms and random things happen to him that the doctors were unable to figure out.  The father, after many many prayers, felt that he should invite us missionaries to give a special blessing to his baby.  What a wonderful experience it was to give this baby such a special blessing, one that I may never get to experience again (Will explain more 6/5/2013).  It was such a humbling and very spiritual opportunity for both my companion and I to be a part of.  We then came back and sat down with our investigator, Brother Liu (Michael Jackson dancer guy).  He already has the Christian background and so we shared with him what the Book of Mormon is, where it came from, and why it is so important.  He really loves the Bible and feels like we are trying to get him to stop reading the Bible to read this new book of scripture; however, he did commit to read daily from both books.  He truly does have a desire to learn more about God and Jesus Christ, but just hasn't experienced how much the Book of Mormon teaches us about them.  He is doing really great though.  We also were able to sit down with a less-active member, Brother Ma, and got to know him a little bit.  He has a goal of coming back to church, but because of his job working at China Steel, it is hard to accompany his work schedule.  He is such a great guy, reminds, looks, and has the chill aspect of an 18 year old teen and we look forward to helping him come back to full activity.  
These two years I have to spend as the Lord's representative was the best decision I have ever made.  I am grateful for the daily experiences, the joys and pains that help me learn and grow to what and who I am meant to become.  It is the small little miracles I see daily that help me keep trudging on to the end.  As I stated earlier, I am grateful for Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer.  I know that it is through His atoning sacrifice that we are forgiven, becoming free from sin.  I love this gospel, I love this church, and I love being a missionary.  I love you all as well!
Love the One and Only,

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Family and Friends,
Hello! Can you believe it?  I feel like yesterday I just arrived in GaoXiong and now the month is halfway over.  That means Spencer has just arrived home from his trip to Taiwan and hope he had a blast.  I'm glad he got to experience what I get to experience daily in this beautiful place.  Sounds like the family had lots of fun with camps this week and I hope a lot was learned from those experiences.  With nothing else we'll get right on into a little bit of what happened this week.
Tuesday we began by having a Zone Training Meeting (ZTM).  It's a brand new thing they have, it's basically a District Training Meeting but with the entire Zone.  There we learned how to be Qualigent missionaries, to get quality investigators for our diligence.  Super good!  It was there that we all learned how we can better teach the 1st lesson of the Restoration to help our investigators understand the importance of the God's power and authority and the need for a restoration.  Later on in the day we visited with a guy named Mark.  He has been around missionaries for a while just because he worked at a Giant store fixing their bikes.  We got talking and he absolutely loves his family.  He mentioned he is giving his young family what he never got to experience in his life growing up as a kid.  We taught him of a loving Heavenly Father that has prepared a path for his family which leads to eternal happiness.  He is willing to give it a shot and even started off great by volunteering to pray.  Right after the prayer he stopped and said, "Wow, that felt good!  I got this nice, warm, peaceful feeling during that prayer."  That was just another testimony builder that God truly does hear our prayers, and he lets us know through our feelings that he is listening to every word we say.
Thursday we sat down with our Michael Jackson loving boy, Mr. Liu, and his younger brother.  He already has a Christian background, but has been baptized yet, and absolutely loves reading the Bible.  Well, so today we shared with him the message of the Restoration and used what we learned from our ZTM in this lesson with him.  Well, it went super well.  It helped him understand  more of what Christ did while he was on the earth, the importance of the authority, why there was an apostasy, and the need for a restoration.  It helped him realize that baptism needs a authority holding person to administer this ordinance.  He then realized that our church is the only church with God's authority and asked us if he could join our church and be baptized.  Wow!  It was so awesome to see that teaching those important parts this way has so much power!  
Friday was such a fun day!  Went on exchanges with Elder Nickell and had such a hard-working, fun, fun day.  We visited with an 82 year old beibei from China who is so willing to accept the gospel, despite his age.  Even though his accent was super thick and we couldn't understand a whole lot, the Spirit was still present and strong.  Before continuing the rest of our day, we stopped off at one of the few Costco's in Taiwan. Mmm mmm good!  We then spent the rest of the night visiting and strengthening the faith of a few of their less-active members.
Saturday we headed to a huge mall in his area for a lesson.  First of all, I have never seen a bigger mall in my life than this (its called Dream Mall).  Second of all, I have never taught a lesson in the middle of a beer fest in my life.  Well, we went to the quietest place we could find and taught this man about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  It seemed he was only visiting to ask thousands of questions about us, but I felt the situation was handled great and we were able to help him realize the importance that comes from reading the Book of Mormon and praying.  From that lesson we exchanged back and just spent the rest of the night hittin' the streets and finding some new investigators.
Sunday we had one of our investigators, Brother Ke, go through his baptismal interview and he passed!  I don't know this man a whole lot but it's exciting to see his desire to follow Christ's example by being baptized.  He has a lot of support from ward members which is the best thing for him right now.
Well, that's about all.  Love you all, miss you all, and hope all is well with you wherever you may be.  All is well here and there is no better place that I could be than in Taiwan.  Take care!
Love the One and Only,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Unseen Success

Which one is Mr. Unseen Success?
Hello everybody,
What is going on?  How is everyone doing?  Because of moving to a new area I forgot that last week was Independence Day.  I hope it was a great day for you all, and we celebrated it as best as could.  This past week was a great big change. New area, new companion, new people—basically a new start to everything.  The change has been great and I love this area so far.  So let me tell you a little bit about what went on in GaoXiong this week...
Monday was such a sad day leaving HengChun, but was so surprised on the ride on up to GaoXiong.  So Elder Lin, the elder replacing me, called when he was near our apartment and said that they had arrived and that he had some cool news for me.  He told me that he was with a man he helped baptize a few months ago and he was my referral.  I was super surprised as he told me that.  While in HengChun we sent out a lot of referrals just because it was mainly tourists that we ran into.  Because of that we didn't really get to see a whole ton of success from there, or even hear about the people we had referred to other areas.  Well, we packed everything up and this new member and I got talking about his conversion story.  He had never run into missionaries before me and just came down to HengChun to visit his family for GuoNian and that's when he ran into us.  He said it was because of me that he decided to meet with the missionaries up in GaoXiong and get baptized.  I just had this overwhelming feeling letting me know that a lot of unseen success comes from the work that we do.  It also gave me a stronger desire to give it all I got in every aspect of the work, even if it includes talking to tourists all day long and sending them as referrals.  
Tuesday was a great day to see my new District Leader/previous companion/fellow student Elder Garey.  He led a wonderful DTM on how to more effectively use a member in lessons, and how to have an effective planning session with them before the lesson.  We were able to take what he taught us and use it in our lesson that night with a recent convert and his non-member mother.  Tonight we shared with them both about how we can make our prayers more effective, doing them with real intent.  The mother is our focus now, but she is going to be a bit rough.  She is YiGuanDao, another religion found in Taiwan, in which they basically believe in everything.  Everything comes from God, there are multiple gods, everything is good, and everything will lead you to eternal life.  I still don't know a whole lot about this religion, but their views on everything are messed up.  She has been visiting with the missionaries for a little while now and so it'll be a really slow process on helping her views line up with what is actually true.  She is an amazing lady, prays periodically through the day, and is cruising through the Book of Mormon.  It'll be rough, but anything can happen.
Wednesday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!  Today I got to know one of our solid investigators, Ke dx.  He seems pretty awesome and really has a desire to live everything we teach him.  He is in his 40's and today we taught him the Law of Chastity and Tithing to prepare him for his baptismal interview next week.  He is super solid and says, "of course I can, I have to don't I?" to everything we invite him to do.  Today I actually got to teach english and english class.  It has been a long time since I've done so, and I taught with Elder Nickell (Elder Garey's companion).  I found out that he knows and went to school with our cousin Hilary Smith, and is in their stake as well.  
Thursday we visited a guy named Yang Zhi Yao who was apparently a former investigator a while ago.  He is in his early 30s and is searching with all his heart to know whether the message we have is true.  We shared with him the Plan of Salvation and he made sure he understood it all before we left.  He feels it's true, but wants to know without a doubt before he makes any big decisions such as baptism.  He is really digging into the scriptures and praying to receive an answer.  
Saturday was a great day and had quite a few lessons.  One in particular was with a 30 year old man his younger brother.  They were practicing dancing before we asked to sit down with them, and they told us they were practicing so they could be the next Michael Jackson.  They taught us a few moves and I did the best I could to do the moonwalk, but he ended up showing me up afterwards.  He is a Christian and started off telling us the 10 commandments.  We then shared with him the Restoration and how it contains the full truth and brings the most happiness in our lives.  I love how the gospel of Jesus Christ is able to help everyone increase the knowledge of their Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  They agreed to meet again so we could get to know them more, learn a few moves, and teach them more about the gospel.
This past week has been really great getting to know my new companion Elder Christensen, getting to know the area, and getting to know the wonderful people here.  I have already learned so much here and love it so much.  I know that there is a lot unseen success that comes from us missionaries and that should give us an even bigger drive to work our hardest even in tough circumstances.  Well, that about wraps up this week.  I love you all and I love serving as a missionary in Taiwan.  Til next week...
Love the One and Only,
p.s. the guy with the glasses is Mr. Unseen Success guy

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Come to Do . . . Moving

Dear Family and Friends,
How's everybody doing this fine summer day?  Hope its a bright sunny day with blue skies for you all.  As for me, I am enjoying my last one... July is finally here and I hope you all enjoy your firework-less 4th of July this week.  As for Grandpa, I hope your knee gets better and you will always be in my prayers.  Well, without much to say, lets go on with what happened this past week.  
Tuesday our Zone decided to do a "Zone Scramble" (a big companion exchange) and so I got time to spend up in ChaoZhou with Elder McKinley.  I felt awkward at first not being in HengChun since I have not left my area for a long time, except for DTM and Zone Conference.  We had a great time together.  We visited a few investigators who are looking and progressing well towards baptism.  On our way back home we were lucky enough to find some more money in the middle of nowhere and so we bought some drinks and took them on home to the four-man apartment.  Elder Mutton, one of my previous companions, is going home and so it was great to stay up all night talking with him and catching up on old things.  
Wednesday we began visiting some of ChaoZhou's less-actives and a few recent converts.  Even though I will probably never see these people every again, I was glad that I was able to meet with them and share my testimony with them.  It was such a great and awesome experience to work with Elder McKinley for that time.  Although it was short, we were able to teach quite a few people and I learned so much from working with him.  
Thursday we began by visiting with a Chen dx.  We periodically go visit with him since he doesn't want us coming over too often.  If we do, he tells us to go away.  It had been a long while since our last visit and we prayed that he would just let us in this time.  The Lord truly does answer every prayer and we were able to share a short message on the tree of life with him.  We began reading about Lehi's dream and about the fruit that was exceeding the whiteness of any kind of fruit, and was most desirable of all others.  We shared that the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring an uncomparable happiness into his life.  His life is super relaxed, with no concerns whatsoever, which makes him happy.  We bore testimony that he cannot even comprehend the joy the gospel will bring into his life.  It will be hard at first, but by starting with the basics (prayer, scripture study, and coming to church) it will come easier and easier and he will begin to experience that joy.  He said he will put forth the effort and I'm hoping that all goes well with this man.
Friday was a super dry day with absolutely no lessons, no nothing.  We used the time finding and contacting a ton of people from the area book and we found a few people from there, either referrals to send and people still willing to visit with us.  For dinner we took our investigator Huang Chong Ming out to eat at our favorite curry place.  As we met up with him we ran into a man who set up a time for later on in the day.  After that contact, Huang Chong Ming asked if he could come and join in on that lesson.  We ate curry together and then the three of us went to the church to teach this investigator.  This new man's name is Zheng and is such an amazing man who is willing to learn.  He is come across Christianity in his life and he has interest now and wants to learn a lot more about it.  We taught him the Message of the Restoration and all went perfectly well.  I felt that that was the best lesson that my companion and I have taught together.  One day I hope to hear about this man's baptism...
Saturday we began by cruisin down to the McDonalds for our big pre-fasting feast.  I don't think I've every felt so sick in my life after eating there.  We then biked to the southern most tip of Taiwan to visit with a former investigator, Mr. Qiu.  We didn't ahve too much time to visit, but found out that his family has run into problems lately.  There is nothing better that can help that than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He said that we could come by next week to share more when his entire family is there togther.  As we biked back up to HengChun we went searching for some less-actives and other former investigators, but they were all gone.  We spent the rest of the day contacting up and down the one road we have, but today we were glad with our efforts.  We were able to run into a few members, one from TaoYuan and a couple from Hong Kong, and were glad to let them know that there is a church here.  They were surprised and told us we'd see them at church.
Sunday was a super hard day to go through.  Even though HengChun is a super rough area, I have come to love the people here more than I thought was possible.  It was hard to say goodbye to them all at church, but they made it easy be them leaving church first.  Today we quickly visited with Huang Chong Ming and did a review of the Plan of Salvation.  He is had a hard time lately because he feels it is impossible to quit smoking, which means that he can't be baptized and return to God.  We shared with him a little bit about faith and shared with him Moloni 7:33 which says that if we have faith in Christ, we are able accomplish that which is expedient in Christ.  That pumped him right up to keep pushing harder to give up smoking.  I absolutely love this kid and I will miss him so much.  From this point we cruised on up to MuDan to visit my favorite man in the world, Hua dx.  We rode as fast as we could up the mountain just so I could see this man one time.  He had prepared some food for us and so we ate and I shared a few scriptures with him.  Leaving his farm place was the hardest thing I've ever done.  I love him so much and can't wait to see and hear from him in the future.  We then cruised on back home and got ready to leave this place.
It's official, my time in HengChun is complete.  I have spent the past 7 months in the place that will always own my heart.  I only have a few more hours here in this paradise before I'm outta here.  I will be moving on up to GaoXiong in a place called XiaoGang.  I haven't heard much about this place yet, except that the air there is one of the filthiest in the entire world.  A huge change from that of HengChun's clear blue skies.  No matter what, the work of the Lord will go forward.  My time so far has helped refine and polish me for the trials and joys that come ahead.  That is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  To continually help us improve and become better than we were before.  The trials and challenges we face now are all for a reason.  In the moment, we might not know why things happen, but as we look back in future days we will know the "why."  I love this place, I love those that have touched my heart, and I love serving in Taiwan.  The hardest thing I have ever come to do is leave the place that owns my heart.  I love you all and will bring you news on what GaoXiong brings this week.

Love the One and Only,