Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Anthony! and Happy Halloween to you all!

Do you like my costume? Happy Halloween
Dear Family and Friends,
Can you believe it?  November is just around the corner.  But before it comes, Happy Birthday Anthony! wow, it feels like just the other day that I wished you Happy Birthday.  Hope you have a fantastic day and enjoy some cake and ice cream for me.  As for the rest of you, Happy Halloween!  Enjoy those sweet, sugary sweets for me, and send me some if you can :)  Well this week had it's ups and downs as usual, but was a great learning experience in and of itself.     
This week began off fantastic with a companion exchange with Elder Garey.  It is so much fun getting together with a former companion and classmate and working together to establish the church here in Taiwan.  Our exchange began off as cruised on back to XiaoGang in a rush to get the work going.  Along the way we ran into a man doing road/cleaning work and began talking with him as he walked along the road.  He then introduced his to his fellow workers and got talking with all of them.  He went off on his own as we talked to the group of adults, but none of them had any interest in learning more.  We extended the invitation to all and then out of nowhere, this man reappeared and was willing to meet.  We visited him the following day and taught about the nature of God and prayer.  He is a humble man and willingly accepted our invitations.  He suggested we come visit with him more at his work and we're excited for those visits.  
We had another great lesson with a new investigator, Brother Zhuang, at a members home this week.  He is Christian, very familiar with the Bible, and I guess just wanted to learn more.  We had already shared with the the message of the Restoration, and in this particular lesson emphasized the Book of Mormon, going some sections in the introduction to the Book of Mormon.  It was so great to have the help of the members in that lesson, especially the testimony a Sister Hong.  She talked about how the main point of reading and praying about the Book of Mormon isn't just to know whether the it is true or not, or to know if this is the only true church.  Those things are important to know and are key in building a strong foundation of faith, but what it truly comes down to is what it says in the introduction of the Book of Mormon where it says the Book of Mormon tells us what we must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.  She brought it down and said, "If God says to do something a certain way, then we have to do it in order to receive that promised blessing."  The Spirit testified to me that  what she said was true.  The Book of Mormon truly does contain God's word and adds on to what the Bible says, enabling us to know more about God.   
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  I love this scripture, it states it clearly.  Life eternal is to know God.  Through developing our faith in Chirst, repenting daily, making and renewing our covenants, and enduring to the end can come to know more and grow closer to God.  It's a never-ending process that comes line upon line, and precept upon precept.  I'm grateful for the privilege I have to serve here as a missionary, to help my brothers and sisters here in Taiwan to know God, their Eternal Father, unto life eternal.  There is no other work in the world more joyous than this.  I love you all!  Happy Birthday Anthony!  Happy Halloween!
Love you all,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Family . . . isn't it about time!

Hey Everyone!
How is it going for you all?  All is well here in Taiwan for my companion and I.  We're staying healthy, strong, entertained, and we're loving the work.  This past week went by too fast for me, as every week does, but we enjoyed the miracles and precious moments as it went on by. 
This week we were able to visit with an investigator, Brother Wu, who we had sat down with a while ago and were finally able to schedule another appointment.  He is a busy truck driver, always driving back and forth to Taichung and Taipei.  With the time he has to on his own he spends with his family, and more particularly his son.  The last time we visited with him we shared about the Family Proclamation to the World and introduced him to the Plan of Salvation.  He has no real religion, but is searching for something in his life.  He brought something up that somewhat answers what he is looking for in life, and that is the words to the hymn "I am a Child of God."  He is a child of God, and He has sent him here.  He has given us an earthly home where we can enjoy peace and happiness with our families. We testified about families and I absolutely love what the Proclamation to the Family says about how our families built upon the principles of the gospel are more likely to be happy.  We didn't have much time with him but this is what he wants for himself and his family.
As for Jerry, he came to church this week!  This was a huge step for him this week, especially after the few struggles and frustrations with him earlier on in the week.  However, he made that step forward, and the rest will come step by step. 
This past week we were able to visit with quite a few ward members and we taught them the plan of salvation and asked them the "penetrating questions" that President Monson talked about once. And you know what?  Each one has turned out very positively.  In fact, one member brought up his son directly, telling us that he has a son in his 20s who hasn't been baptized. He had failed his interview a while ago and his dad wants him to learn the missionary lessons again so that he can pass his baptismal interview. We went over to their house last night and had FHE with him. We had a great activity about the Plan of Salvation with him and on how this life is a time to be happy, learn, and grow to return back to live with God. God provided a way that our family relationships are able to be united in this life and in the life to come and that is through Christ and His gospel. 
Sitting here thinking about families I was reminded of the little quote, "Family, isn't it about time?"  I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the chance that I have to develop a wonderful relationship with my family.  The thing I am most grateful for is that death is not the end.  Through Christ and His Atonement we can all enjoy our family relations beyond the grave.  I'm grateful for my two wonderful parents and how they taught me correct principles.  I'm grateful for the knowledge I have that I can live with them for eternity.  I love my time here as a missionary and for the chance I have to help bring my brothers and sisters to the knowledge that families are and can be forever!  I love the gospel, I love my family, and I love you all!  
Love you all,

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It is worth it!

Hey everybody!
How's it all going?  Can I just say that conference was super amazing?  It was super amazing!  It was such a wonderful experience to gather together in our small little chapel, on this small little of island, to hear the word's of our dear prophet and apostles.  Other than not having my family right by my side, it felt like home.  Listening to conference and seeing the familiar buildings in good ol' Utah filled my mind with memories: memories of attending the conference center to personally hear and see each speaker along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing sacred hymns of praise, memories of doing fall clean up in-between sessions, and memories of attending Priesthood session with my dad and brothers and then going out for a great snake afterwards.  To be a bit honest, I missed it all, but no worries cause we have several years ahead to enjoy.  With questions and investigators in mind, each talk given brought on inspiration to me and my companion on how we can help move this work forward in Taiwan.  
The work here in XiaoGang is going along well, a bit rough these past few weeks, but that is alright.  This past little while, my companion and I have been trying to get and to work with the ward a lot better.  While reading in Alma I read over a part that might be able to help us (yes, that includes you too) in our missionary work.  So the Nephites just had a huge battle and were "greatly afflicted" over what had just happened.  However, the people were "awakened to a remembrance of their duty," and from there the church was established more fully and thousands were baptized.  What was their duty?  To preach the gospel.  As representatives of Jesus Christ, we all have the duty and responsibility to share with our fellow brothers and sisters the wonderful message of the gospel plan, to help them understand the purpose of life, why we have trials and challenges, where we were and will go after this life, etc...   We are surrounded by people who need to know these things, but don't know where to find it.  Only we can help them.  
After conference I began reviewing last May's edition of conference and came across the talk, "Was it worth it?" by David F. Evans. I would just like to invite you all to read it and then think of who you know can benefit from the messages that we were just given this conference.  I know that each message was given for a reason, and there is someone in your life that can and will benefit from them--they just need to be directed to them with your help.  I know that missionary work can be viewed as the thing the missionaries do, but aren't we all missionaries?  I am so proud to be a missionary!  I am honored to wear the name of my Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ on my chest.  I'm so glad that I made the decision to serve Him and I hope the young boyz out there will do the same and make the right decision.  Times are rough, some preparation days you look back and think to yourself, "Oh boy, what am I gonna write home to the family," but it is during these times that you grow in character more than you would anywhere else in the world.  I love being a missionary, I love this church, and I love you all!
Love you all,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Get The Desire, BOYZ!

"...if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work." (D&C 4:3)
Dear Family and Friends,
How's it going? How was swimming this past week for everyone? Good!  Everything is nice and dandy here in Taiwan. The weather has started getting colder than usual, mainly just in the mornings, which means fall is here. I haven't really noticed just because there are no trees to judge it by, but the past few morning jogs have really shown it. We heard the big news yesterday on the change on missionary standards and I personally feel that is super awesome and never thought about why it never was that way in the first place. I had also wondered why all the Taiwanese missionaries here could serve when they were 18, and why it wasn't the same all around the world. Spencer, start preparing NOW! Start preparing for the best two years FOR your life.  
I love what Elder Russell M. Nelson said, "The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come." He also said, "A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one's conversion, worthiness and preparation."  The time to start is now! Spencer, and all you others, do all you can to get that desire. Well, just from the few things I've been told, it sounds like General Conference went amazing!  I'm super pumped to listen to it this weekend, and I've been preparing this past long while by reviewing last April's conference talks. Ah, so good! Well, let's get on with this past week shall we? There were just a few little changes here and there, not too much, but the work is moving forward.
Jerry is getting better and better. His desire to drink alcohol is gone out the window. We have been helping him with betel nut this week (I've talked about it before, if you are still confused what betel nut is just let me know) and he has done super good with it. The amounts he chews daily has gone significantly down, and is now chewing less than 15 per day. In fact, these past few days he has successfully gone the entire morning without chewing any at all. We shared the Plan of Salvation with him this week and along with the Atonement of Christ we shared D&C 59:9-10, testifying that coming to church and partaking of the sacrament can guard us safe from the things of the world. He got really stoked to come to church, so did I, but in the end didn't come due to him not feeling well (could be a reaction from not chewing so much).
We have a new investigator, Brother Wen, who is a referral from Elder Garey. We visited him on Monday night and I felt like that was the best lesson Elder Lathen and I taught together. We were unified, following the Spirit, and just listened to what he had to say. At first he was just interested to know what the difference between Catholics and Christians were, but as he opened up more we learned that 'love', the love of God, caught his attention, and that is the message we have to share, God loves us! Everything he has done up til now and will do forever is because he loves us. It is true how if we missionaries listen with love we won't need to worry what to say and teach, it will be given to us by the Spirit. 
Spencer, and all those boyz who may receive this letter, just know I love you.  May sound weird, but I do. I am so grateful for the time I've had to serve a mission and for the remaining time I have (only 8 months...).  The short time of a little over a year I feel has changed me for good.  I feel like I am the same individual, but my desires in life, my attitude towards specific things, and a whole lot more has changed for good. Only by truly living the gospel plan can this change for good come about. The time to prepare for the best two years of your life is right now. Looking back I wish I would have done a lot more preparation, but there's not much I can do about it now besides to just keep swimming. I know without a doubt this church is true and that it is lead through revelation by a loving prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I know he has been called of God.  I'm so excited for the chance I have to hear his voice this weekend. This IS the true church and it was restored by our loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. Boyz, a mission will shape your spiritual destiny, your spouse, and your posterity for generations to come.  Get ready for the time of your life!  Love you all!  Til next time…
With all my love,