Sunday, February 24, 2013

The noblest aim in life is to strive to make other lives happy

Well, it feels like just the other day I emailed you all. How have things gone these past few days? Things are going well here in Puli and its getting better and better. With not much else let’s get on in with the rest of last week. Well . . . 
Thursday we were able to visit with a few less actives. In one of those lessons we particularly shared from 4 Nephi. The first time we visited with him about a month ago we didn't receive a very welcoming visit. However, this time it all changed. We talked about how all the Nephites and Lamanites were converted unto the Lord and about how "there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God." We talked about his life as he began to learn from the missionaries and then after he joined the church. We talked about how through this process he was similar to the Nephites and Lamanites, walking after the things of God and receiving a joy from doing so. When we're happy, God's happy, and he has provided a way for us to obtain an everlasting joy and happiness, and that path is the gospel of Christ. He not only accepted our help in helping him, but he actually told us in what ways we can help him. It was interesting to compare the first visit with the second visit and I'm still wondering what changed his attitude between the two visits, but I know as he realized the joy and happiness the gospel brought to him in the past, he was willing to work towards it again. Just another testimony builder on how the gospel really does bring true happiness into our lives. 
Yesterday afternoon my companion and I had a strange experience. After we ate lunch we left our apartment and went down to where our bikes were. While there we heard some whimpering behind some weed-wacker machines and found this cute, little dog who was obviously a stray. I felt bad for this dog and wished I could help it in some way, and so the first thing I thought of was to whistle (the extremely recognizable way that dad always does at our sports games). It immediately sat up and ran over to me and just chilled by my leg. Right at that moment the 管理員(sorry I don't know how to say it in English) came over and told us to take it out because someone would kill it and eat it. Well, we did what he said and actually placed it in my companion’s basket on the front of his bike. He immediately got comfortable in the basket and feel asleep and we took him to a better place to live. It made me think a lot. We are all the sometimes like this cute, little, homeless dog. Through life we sometimes have wandered into some strange places, and feel alone to the point where we don't know what to do. However, we have a loving Heavenly Father who is there with outstretched hands. As we follow His "whistle", his teachings, his commandments, we will be guided to a better, happier place. I know that Heavenly Father lives and that He does love each and everyone of us. I know He is mindful of our needs and concerns and is willing to answer the cry for help. I know that because He loves us He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to set the example on how we can receive a fullness of joy in this life and in the life to come. 
 I love you all and hope that each of you can continue to experience the joy and love our Heavenly Father has for you. 
‘Til next time! Elder Nick Smith 司馬長老 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Family and Friends,
Hey everybody!  How's it going lately?  So yes, it is Wednesday and feels weird having preparation day today.  Monday we had a Mission Tour where Elder Evans from the missionary department came and talked with us, and then today is temple day for my zone, but because we're too far in the mountains we couldn't go . . . So it's p-day.  One thing I forget to write in last weeks letter was HAPPY BIRTHDAY SPECER!  You're 18, and what does that mean?  I hope that filling those mission papers out soon goes smoothly for you.  This past week went pretty good, and this week has been off to a great start.
The most interesting thing that happened this past week was when we visited former investigators.  We went and visited a Wang family and they invited us in.  We sat down with the dad and his son and began sharing about the gospel.  Well, the dad's interest wasn't there, but his son just so happened to be attending a Christian school in the area and quite loved reading the Bible and praying, and so it was easier to focus the attention on the son.  Well, as things were wrapping up, the mother came down and decided to join the conversation and was just prepared to listen.  Ever since her son began attending this school, she herself opened her heart to Christianity and began to read the Bible occasionally and pray as well.  We will be visiting with them again this Friday, and even though we don't know the turnout of this lesson, it just goes to show that the Lord truly is preparing people to receive this message.  This family wasn't prepare five years ago when missionaries began visiting, but who knows, this may be the time they have been prepared for.  It was just a testimony builder to know that the Lord continues to prepare people to accept this gospel. It's almost like hide-and-seek.  We just gotta go out and look for them and not give up.
Last week we visited with Brother Xu and his son Jia Xiang, the one we are working with to get baptized.  Long story short, Jia Xiang changed our entire lesson plan, but it was for the better.  We had originally planned to finish teaching the Message of the Restoration with him and focus on giving him a spiritual experience and desire to actually want to be baptized.  Well, in previous appointments to be funny, him and his little brother would go through the hymn book to find the shortest hymns and would only want to sing those songs.  Well, this time he found one of the shortest verses in the scriptures which was Alma 18:27, where Ammon is teaching King Lamoni about God.  He helped change the topic on to where we needed to focus the lesson for him.  We were able to help him know more who God is and what relationship He has with him and everyone of us.  He really enjoyed the lesson and was able to share with us the things he learned about God.  Teaching Jia Xiang this time really made me think about Landon because they are about the same age.  Hey Landon, can you do something for me?  I want you to read Alma 18: 24-32 with either mom or dad, or both, and to talk about who God is and what relationship He has with us, especially with you.  And then in next week's letter you can write to me about what you learned, ok?
I began thinking about why it's important to know about God.  I then thought of the scripture John 17:3 that says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."  Eternal life is to know God and His son, Jesus Christ.  As we come to know more about God, we come to know more about the plan of happiness he has for each and everyone of us.  Without going into a whole lot of detail, I was able to see how important it is for each of us to have a firm testimony of the plan God has for us.  Life is uncertain, and can come to an end when we least expect it, and for that reason we need to be prepared at all times, and in all places.  It is only the gospel of Jesus Christ that can unit families for eternity.  As our knowledge and testimony of this plan grows, so will our determination to serve Him to the end.  I'm know that Christ is our Savior, and His atoning sacrifice is the center of this plan.  I know that through faith, repentance, keeping and living our covenants, and enduring to the end, we can be stand blameless at the last day and be welcomed into our Father's kingdom.  This is the wonderful message I have to share each and every day and I'm grateful for it!  Thank you all for your prayers and support! 
Elder Nick Smith

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year

Sun Moon Lake

Hello Everyone!
Happy New Year!  This week was the start of the Chinese New Year, probably the biggest holiday that the Chinese celebrate.  It is a time where family from all over travel and unite together to celebrate the new year.  This year's Chinese New Year has taken on more meaning this year since I actually understand what everyone is talking about, especially my Taiwanese companion who has explained a lot for me.  So again, Happy New year!  This week was good, it still had it's ups and downs due to this holiday.
So, Thursday we were able to visit with two recent converts, Brother Xu and his son Yi Xiang.  What made our visit much more special was that Brother Xu brought his 12 year old son along as well to start learning the gospel.  At first his son was it kind of in a bad mood, but as we got things rolling along he warmed up to us and later on was super receptive to the message.  On Sunday, he even attended Sacrament meeting and enjoyed it a lot.  This family is almost complete.  Just one more and then they'll all be learning and growing together in the gospel.
Due to the Chinese New Year, families from all over are traveling back to their relatives homes, and are all inside gathered together, which makes tracting our main way of finding.  It has been interesting to see all these families united together, and the joy they are experiencing during this time.  To most, this joy will end when death is encountered.  Although those bits of joy can once again be experienced as we remember those who have already gone on, but it is because of the gospel that we know that the relationships we share in this life can extend beyond the grave.  I'm grateful for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and the eternal happiness and joy it can bring to families.  I'm grateful for my family and I love them all!  I'm grateful for the experiences I am given each day to help an individual in need.  This is the Lord's work and I'm grateful to be a part of it.  Happy New Year!
With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oh, It's On!

Xu Yi Xiang's Baptism Day

What a wonderful day here in Puli it is!  Not to hot, and not to cold.  Just 剛剛好! How is everyone?  I hope you all is well and that the cold is treating you all alright. With this wonderful day brings some wonderful news, Xu Yi Xiang, the son of our recent convert Brother Xu got baptized yesterday!  What was even better was that Brother Xu was able to receive the priesthood the same day and baptized his son.  It was such a great experience to experience and it'll be a moment for them both of them to remember!  
We were able to find some new investigators this week to start progressing towards baptism, and one in particular was with a mom and her son, the Gao/Zhuang family.  They are both aborigines (I love aborigines so much) and with that usually brings a Christian background.  It was so great to share about the truths we have in common, and then to add more on to what they already have.  In a sense that is all that missionary work is.  It was awesome to see the desire in the mom as we shared about the Book of Mormon and how it contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Christ.  As with all, "he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them."  The process is the same for all, but the results received come in different ways and are given according to our desire.   
I know this is another short letter, sorry!  Although it's short, I hope there is something sweet you can find. 
With Tons of Love,
Elder Nick Smith