Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just Chillin' Here in PuLi

Elders of Taichung!

Dear Family and Friends,
 Hey everyone!  How's it going today?  It's a chilly one here today in PuLi, snowing up in the higher mountains, and it almost feels like I'm back in good ol' Utah.  It was great talking with you all last week and getting the latest update on life.  From that point on I received lots of Christmas cards from family and friends and I just want to express my gratitude and love to you all for your 關心.  Sorry I don't know how to best term that word... (love and care ).  Look forward to a 'thank you' card in a few weeks.  
So other than batting the cold we were battling to find some new investigators.  We are looking forward to the baptism of Brother Xu this week, and look forward to helping his two sons work  towards baptism in the coming weeks.  Being on the downhill end of the mission with only a few months left, I've been pondering a lot lately on how I can exert all I have to establish and strengthen the church in PuLi, as well as in my own life. I thought and thought and thought, and ended up setting a bunch of goals for the things I want to accomplish as a missionary in the year 2013, as well as for the rest of the year.  Meaningful goals and careful planning are critical to accomplish our desires in life.  As the new year rolls around it is a great time to ponder on what we have accomplished in the previous year, and where we can improve for the upcoming  year.   As I have pondered on the year of 2012 I have made some goals to help me magnify my calling and to see real growth within the branch here in PuLi and in my own life in the gospel.  The point I want to focus on today is faith.  I hope this doesn't feel like a talk, I just want to write something for you all.  Faith is the first principle of the gospel, and leads us to take action.  It leads us to repent, it leads us to serve, it leads us to live better lives.  The scriptures have many examples who show great faith: Nephi, Ether, Alma, Ammon, etc... and  I love each of their examples.  One scripture in particular I like is Moroni 7:33, "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."  Woah, that is a wonderful promised blessing.  If we have faith, we can accomplish anything.  I hope that at we all can reflect on this past year and set goals for the year 2013, and then act in faith to accomplish these goals.  Setting goals, making plans, and taking actions have helped me progress as an individual in the gospel, and I know it can help you all too.  Spencer, look at your email for a special letter :)  I know that with faith we can accomplish great things.  I know that as we have faith, repent, and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will experience true happiness in our lives and with our families forever.  It's true, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."  I love you all!    

With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith

Monday, December 24, 2012

It Was Merry Talkin' to You!

Family and Friends,

No official letter this week from Elder Smith but we did have a wonderful skype/video call with Nick Sunday evening our time (it was his regular p-day, Monday there). He is looking well and enjoying a new area and his first Taiwanese companion who has just been out in the field 3 months and is 18 years old. Elder Smith would like to wish all family and friend a Merry Christmas and thanks you for any and all prayers offered in his behalf. We are amazed at how well he can speak the Mandarin language and realize that small decisions like taking a language in high school for credit, was a means to helping him prepare for this opportunity to share the gospel with the people of Taiwan. Elder Smith has 5 more months left and is going strong! 

Merry Christmas from our family to each of you,

The Smiths
All decked out in a new suit! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas from PuLi

Do I look like I've been "Naughty" or "Nice"? HO HO HO!
Dear Family and Friends,?
So, this letter will be rather short.  So news came out and yes, I have moved to PuLi.  I have a new companion, Elder Shang, and yes he is my first Taiwanese companion :)  He is super awesome and we've gotten along really well so far. 
As for news, I will be Skyping you all next Monday :) can't wait to hear and see you all.  We'll do it around 10:30 or 11 in our time on Monday so it'll be Sunday I don't know what time there.  Just be ready.  I sent two unexpected "Christmas packages" home.  Be prepared!  The items inside you'll love. Talk to you next week,
Merry Christmas
With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith

Monday, December 3, 2012

No Monkey Business

P-day excurtion (check out the city in the distance--it's white, already to harvest)

Dear family and friends,
Hey!  How's it going everyone?  December is finally here!  It just doesn't feel like it yet... snow, Christmas decorations, everything we don't have.  However, the Christmas music has kept me in the Christmas mode ever since Halloween ended so that has been nice.  It is always so nice to hear from you all and the updates on everything.  Not a whole lot has changed for us here in the "Small Harbor," but was overall a pretty great week.
Monday we began on the top of "Monkey Mountain" where we spent the day hiking with the monkeys.  I've never played with monkeys before in my life so it was quite fun/scary.  We had a great proselyting day by going to visit with Brother Chen.  He has still been struggling to quit smoking and so we visited and lifted up his spirits, boosting up his faith to throw this trial out the window.  We also visited with a member of our ward who actually got in a scooter accident going to church so we visited him and gave him a priesthood blessing.  We ended the night by english proselyting in the GuiLin Nightmarket. 
Tuesday we had a great District Training Meeting where I taught about how we can better strengthen our recent converts.  I found a little "diamond" and taught that teaching the Doctrine of Christ will do more to strengthen the trust between us missionaries and the members and bump up the desire to do missionary work.  So that is what we focused on.  Then we went on Zone Leader exchanges and Elder Allen came on over to the XiaoGang with me where we got to work.  He is such an awesome missionary and such a great example to me in the work.  He is a pretty young missionary and I was privileged to learn a lot from him.  
Wednesday, not a lot happened.  We had interviews with President Bishop along with planner checks.  We then had a short amount of time to proselyte before teaching english.
Thursday our teaching pool was pretty low and so we went out and hit the streets contacting, searching for those prepared souls to hear the gospel.
Friday we had visited with a Brother Wu, and investigator who has lots and lots of questions about Christianity.  He was born as a Christian but has had lots and lots of doubts, and lots and lots of questions about everything.  Well, he really really really likes to talk, and every question he brings up, the restored gospel can answer them--its just he isn't very willing to let us missionaries talk.  It's been rough these past few times visiting with him, and so we're hoping that during the next time we visit him, we can just lay it straight and teach him the one message that will answer and make straight every question he has.  We then had a ward dinner party and had several investigators lined up to attend, but upon arrival, none of them showed up.  But all was well . . . the sister missionaries were at the church and needed a baptismal interview, so I was glad I was there ready to go.
Saturday began by attending the funeral of a member who recently passed away.  Although he wasn't a relative of mine, it was comforting to know of Heavenly Father's Plan and for the knowledge about it.  I'm grateful that death isn't the end and that there is more to experience in the life to come.  It was very comforting to know that this old "bei bei" is in a better place, resting from the trials and challenges that he faced during the later part of his life.  The Plan is real! And it's our role as missionaries to spread this message so that all can have a fair chance to return to live with their God.  I'm grateful for this time I have to share what I know to be true, to share that "Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan."  There is no greater joy than helping these Taiwanese make that step closer to their Heavenly Father.  
I love His plan, I love His work, and I love you all.  
With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith