Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Chill P-day

So last Monday we kept it kind of chill and went to the church and watched some church films and I was able to start up on my piano practicing.  Haven't played the ivories in a while.  We began the day off by visiting Sister Huang and she is the nicest lady in the entire world.  She has been a member for a long long time, and she made us an apple pie.  It was delicious!  We then visited with Brother Xu, our recent convert, and prepared him to receive the priesthood and prepared his son to be baptized.  They are looking good for this week and so we are excited to see Brother Xu see him baptize his son!
Tuesday and Friday we were went and visited Brother Zhuang.  I forget if I have mentioned him in previous letters, but he was one of the previous branch presidents and is now in a carehome because things aren't convenient for him at home by himself in a wheelchair.  He is pretty much the only one who is "all the way there in the head" and so he really enjoys our company and actually being able to converse with somebody.  We took him some dumplings and had a great little feast with him and were able to share with him a few things that we have learned from the scriptures over the past few days and strengthen his faith.
Well, sorry today's letter is a bit short.  We went and played with a member at Sun Moon Lake and our time for emailing is a bit short.  Sorry!  Things are going well though, we haven't been able to visit with that big family yet.  We have only got a hold of them twice ever since, went undercover and found their address.  We're hoping we can help this big family!  The gospel of Christ is the only thing that can bring eternal joy and happiness to this family.  
With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The greatest tragedy is to suddenly realize an opportunity to grow (share) has been lost.

Hey! How's it going? How'd this week go for you all? Enjoying the cold? I hear it has been a bit colder this past week back at home. Well, it was cold here for us in PuLi as well. Even though we are in a warmer climate, the area I am in is enclosed by mountains and it brings is a humid cold, which is pretty cold. All seems to be alright for you all other than the cold, and same goes for us here in PuLi. All is going good, and can't complain about anything. Monday, was a super busy day for us. As I mentioned a few weeks ago my bike got stolen, and so my companion and I spent some time taking bits and pieces for old missionary bikes and bringing them all together. Finally decided to get rid of the girl bike I was riding. Later on in the day we went tracting and ran into a super nice man, Mr. Chen, who was willing to let us into his house. We were able to share about the blessings of the gospel and how it will bless him and his family. It's always sad to see individuals hear so much good that the gospel will bring to their families, but then not want it. Oh well, right now just isn't his time. Tuesday we held Zone Conference where we focused on Baptizing, Rescuing, and Retaining. So much was learned and I was given more drive to bring those "lost" back into the fold. I felt a bit like dad that day as well. I always hear stories how dad has been asked to play the piano and organ for meetings with very little notice beforehand. Without a lot of notice, I was invited to accompany for the musical number and then play the songs during the meeting. It's been a long while since I've played the piano and I'm so glad I had enough practice before my mission and was able to "wing it" just fine. So again, thanks mom and dad. Upon returning home we were able lift and brighten another man's day. We went tracting and ran into a Mr. Xu. He has had a lot of struggles physically lately, and he mentioned he was comforted as we sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" and shared about Heavenly Father. It felt great to be reassured to know that God is our Heavenly Father and that He has prepared a plan so that we may be together with our families for eternity. Wednesday we went and visited with a less active previous branch president, Brother Zhuang. He has been welcoming these past two times as we've visited him at the caretaker home. Just like dad shared in his letter to me last week, we need to help them shovel the snow covering their pathway towards the chapel. We were able to strengthen his faith and he committed to come to church with us. Yeah! Saturday we visited with a former investigator, Mr. Yang. Upon walking up to his doorstep we were greeted with open arms and led into his home. Those first few moments made me super confused about what was going on. Mr. Yang is a kind, lonely man, who loves missionaries. All he could talk about was about previous missionaries, how they all lived in Salt Lake City, and how he wants to be like us missionaries. We're not sure how much interest he has in learning the gospel, but was more than willing to begin praying and reading from the Book of Mormon that has sat on top of his TV for several years. As I said he is super lonely, but seeing him learn about God and prayer and the smile it brought to him just made that moment that much more special, making his day. In my last package, mom sent me several envelopes with little quotes for each day to ponder. As I began writing in my new journal I decided I would expound on each one each day. The first one I came upon said, "The greatest tragedy is to suddenly realize an opportunity to grow has been lost." I really like this one and I decided to switch the word "grow" with the word "share." We all have the opportunity to share the gospel with those without. Even though the individuals I was able to visit with haven't fully accepted the gospel of Christ, I was glad that I was able to help them work towards doing so. I'm grateful for each opportunity to share the message of eternal families and glad that it won't end after two years. I'm grateful for the testimony I have gained and for the comfort this testimony brings to my soul, and I hope each day that I can help someone else be comforted by the restored gospel of Christ. I hope that each of you can too! With Tons of Love, Elder Nick Smith 司馬長老

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Get Rid of Those Snowbanks :L)

How's it going?  How's everybody doing?  Sounds like you're all enjoying the wonderful snow that just recently came on in.  Mom, thanks for the pictures of it all.  There are lots of people who would die to actually see some real snow here so I'm glad I could get a feel of what it's like.  So sounds like everything is going along great with the family and all, which is good to hear.  I'm doing just fine here in PuLi and here's the latest from this past week.  
Monday my companion and I were able to go ride around our area and visit a few Buddhist temples.  Pretty cool stuff!  Later on we were able to visit with a less active family, Liao, and got to know them a bit.  The mom and all but one of the kids are members, but they are all out and about at school in different areas.  They pulled out all their trinkets and stuff from previous missionaries and had such a great time.  Just like dad mentioned to me in his letter this week, all we need to do is to help them clear the "parking lot and sidewalk" to help them come back to church.  
Thursday we were able to visit with one of the previous Branch Presidents, who is also less active, and is now in a care-home because he recently slipped and fell and now is unable to walk about on his own.  He too showed us all the pictures of him along with missionaries and ward members and still has good feelings towards them all, his pathway just needs to be cleared to come on back to activity.  
I know this letter is a bit short, but I really enjoyed what dad sent to me in his letter.  Every since he sent it to me I have been thinking and pondering about it all.  From these two members we were able to visit this week, they both still have good feelings towards the church and to the missionaries.  Good enough to pull out old memories and talk about them.  However, there is just that snow bank that is blocking them from wanting to walk out the door and come back to activity.  Through faith and with the help of the Savior, those snow banks blocking us from progression in the gospel can be plowed away.  It won't be easy, but with faith anything is possible.   

With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Family and Friends,
Happy New Year!  Yeah, how has it gone so far?  Hopefully it has gone off pretty good.  If not, you've got some time to make it good.  This week was pretty exciting for my companion and I, and I'll get crackin' down on it in just a bit.  But first of all, Mom HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I love you and hope you have a super amazing day!  XOXO :)  Okey dokey, lets get going on with this week.
So, I remember last week I kind of talked about faith, setting goals for the new year, and some other things.  Well, my companion and I focused on faith and how we can have more faith to find those prepared to receive the gospel.  The first few weeks in this area were a bit rough due to the fact that there were no new investigators and no one willing to meet with us.  We had a wonderful DTM about it and then went and worked our hardest, went out finding in faith, and we found an amazing family of 8 kids, so a total of 10.  Wow!  We were able to visit with them on Saturday and give them a tour of our church.  I could feel the stress that these 8 kids, age ranging from 3-14, bring the parents as we gave the tour and tried to teach the family.  In all honesty, my companion and I didn't know how to best handle the situation, but all turned out in the end.  The parents had a great impression of our church and really seem accepting to the message on families.  A few obstacles lay ahead, but working with faith these can easily be jumped over.
After visiting with this family we attended the baptism of Brother Xu and it was exciting to see him get baptized.  What was even more exciting was to see the desire of his 9 year old who wanted to get baptized too.  (He even brought a pair of clothes to change in after he got baptized).  After a little bit more preparation his son will be looking good to be baptized on the 19th of this month and then after a little bit more work we will be able to help us other son prepare for baptism.  It is a small family, but it'll be a complete family in the church.  
There is nothing better for a family than the gospel of Christ.  During the time I have served as a missionary I have been able to see the difference between individuals where the family is raised on gospel principles and those that aren't.  I am so grateful for the help that this gospel has brought to the Taiwanese, as well as my family.  I'm grateful for my two loving parents who took the responsibility to raise me on church standards. I know the principles, standards, values,and teachings of the church have helped me up to this point, and for what lays ahead.  I know that the gospel of Christ bless families for eternity and hope that this family of 10 and this Xu family can begin to experience so.  I know the gospel and this church is true!  I know it!  I love living it!  and I love it!

With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith