Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oct. 21, 2009

Hey Family!!

Taiwan is an awesome country. It's just so great and there's a ton of great people here. The food is awesome and it's really beautiful here.

Today, Elder Youd and I are going to bike up to a waterfall in the mountains to see how hard it is to get all 8 members of our District up there. That's definitley going to be fun! And as Dad said, this is probably the most beautiful part of Taiwan. There's only 10 Elders and 4 Sisters that get to serve on the east coast at a time, so I feel pretty blessed here.

So here are some statistics.... I've been chased by about 15-17 dogs now... and it's still counting... Yeah... I don't know what else to count up. But yeah, the work is going great, I get to talk to people about Jesus Christ and his Gospel, but most importantly how it can bless their family.

We met this really cool family 2 weeks ago, and it's so cool to see how interested in the gospel they are. The Chao family lived in New Zealand for a few years and worked for a LDS church school up there, so they already knew a bit about our church. We just met with them yesterday and it was so interesting. We decided to share the message of the restored gospel, and why it's important to us today. They seemed most interested in the Book of Mormon and its significance to us today. We gave them a Chinese edition of the Book of Mormon. It was actually really funny because they talked about how we can't really understand the full meaning of the Bible because it's been translated a few times. They then wanted the English Book of Mormon because that would be much closer to the original meaning. It was just really neat to see the desire to read a book that I really believe came from God. We opened it up and shared a verse from Moroni, but from that verse, they kept on reading and reading.

Elder Youd and I really feel like these are REALLY good people. They seek for the truth and are willing and humble enough to test out different ways to find that truth. I know that Christ's gospel is true and is the way for the salvation of men. I know that when we read the truth and pray about it, we will know that something is true. It's just really cool to see all the little miracles that happen every day that witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of us all.

Anyways, that's just been the highlight of my week and something that I've learned. Miracles don't have to be huge things. But I know each one of them is a piece of evidence that God loves his children and always wants to help them.

By the way! I heard Dad's name on the Asia Area Broadcast thing this sunday... I was so excited!!! It was my Dad!! But I was listening to English so I don't know what the Mandarin translation was.

I love you all! I hope you all are individually doing well and are safe. I pray for you all every day.

Elder Scott Carlson - Kong Wei Yan Zhang Lao

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 14, 2009

My trainer is Elder Youd (pronounced yaod, so Yao, with a "d" at the end). He's really cool. In some ways he's like David too, so I get along with him. He's a western missionary from North Carolina and he went to the Air Force Academy for a year. He's a great guy. And really trusted in the mission. From what I've heard, because the East Coast missionaries are so far away, they're the ones President can trust. I guess he really wants us to learn well from the ones down here how to do missionary work, be obedient and learn good skills for the rest of my mission. We work hard, but I always feel there's a lot more I can be doing. Last week we only had 15 proselying hours because we had Zone Conference, then General Conference. So LOTS of learning, but it was great, and now we're back to our normal schedule.

Elder Youd has been here in Yuli for 5 months! It's kind of crazy. He and other missionaries he's been working with have really pulled up the ward. The final goal of the ward is to make the 2nd Counselor (currently Elder Youd) a member of the branch, and to have the missionaries focus on missionary work. So that's going to happen hopefully at the end of the transfer. So it's all progressing and we're starting to find people to teach.

This really cool guy, Brother Wu, is 60 years old. His only problems that we know of right now is smoking and... mostly a knowledge of how the church can help him. Compared to most other single Taiwanese guys, he doesn't go drinking, he doesn't chew binglang (Beetlenut), and etc. He's a really good guy and always happy. By the way, Beetlenut is such an interesting drug. It turns your mouth blood-red, it smells foul, and probably has a stimulant in it. But, lots of people chew it and it's a big part of the culture.

The first few days in Taipei were hot, sticky, and I had a difficult time with the language. I still struggle with it, but not as much as a firehose it was the first few days. It's coming along and it's going good. Oh, it turned out that David talked to his friends in Taiwan and his bike broke. He wasn't sure what they did, but they said they weren't going to send it because of that. So it's all good. I have my beautiful bike here in Yuli. Oh, and just to make it less likely to be stolen, I put on a huge "No sucess can compensate for failure in the home" sticker in Chinese. I think people will be able to tell that its a stolen bike from that :).

Wow... Trees were uprooted in Hong Kong? We don't have that problem where we're at. We have mountains on both sides so we're pretty safe. We have earthquakes and lots of rain, but we're good here. In some ways, I'm really excited if a disaster happens. We'd get to go out and do service... but at the same time, that'd be really terrible for lots of families here. Like David used to say, lots of people here really don't have too much money. They struggle at times because of their situations. It's great to always help where we can though.

In Yuli, we live 2 floors above the church, and it's pretty big. The kitchen sink is completely clogged right now, so we'll fix that, and we've got AC, so it's comfortable. It has 1 main room, and 2 smaller side rooms, but we sleep in the main room because that's where the AC is. I have pictures that I might have sent to you of the mountains, and that's our view outside our window. Yuli is really small, but nice. For food though, all we can eat is rice and noodles. If you're in Taipei, you can eat dumplings, KFC, Subway, McDonalds, etc... But we're just stuck with noodles. But hey! There's a great Tea shop we sometimes get drinks at.

Aww... I wish I could've wished Erika a Happy Birthday. I still don't know if I can send her emails, or if she can send me them, so could you tell her I wish her Happy Birthday?

Anyways I probably need to run. I love you though. I'm glad to hear things are good over there. Things are great here too, sometimes difficult, but that's expected. The work and the Gospel is true. I know it is. Haha, I'm glad you love missionaries. :)

I love the gospel and I'm so thankful I can be serving here. I'll work hard.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Earthquakes and Typhoons

This is from Scott's mom, Kelly...

In the early hours on Sunday, Oct. 4, an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude occurred in the ocean just 14 miles off the east coast of Taiwan, where Scott is living. See below what he says about that. Meanwhile, the latest typhoon has passed Taiwan and they are currently enjoying some nice weather.

Now - from Scott:

October 7, 2009
So I'm down in the middle of Taiwan to the East, in a small town called Yuli. I can bike from one side to the other in about 10 minutes, but that's not only my mission boundries. We have about 4 other districts with lots of tiny small towns that we can't even get to. But here in Yuli, my companion, Elder Youd, and I's job is to build up the branch. We have about 12-14 that come every week, and that's a lot more than there used to be. So we're both working on activating lots of the members again and showing them why church is so important. At the same time, we're still looking for people to teach and actually had really good success so far. There's been a typhoon in the area south of us for a while, so we've been getting the wind and rain from that. Oh and that's one thing really funny about Taiwanese people. Taiwanese people really don't like rain and its an acceptable excuse not to go to school, work, or meet with people because its raining.

It's really fun here, but pretty hard work. Especially when I can't really speak Chinese still. I try and struggle though so it's going good. The Taiwanese people here are really nice, humble, and just great people.

Oh, and I actually slept through my first 5.3 or so magnitude earthquake. My companion in the morning said it was going on for about 25-30 seconds, and while he was on the floor for cover, I was just sleep talking away to him... Haha, I found it kind of funny. I remembered having a dream about an earthquake, but don't remember actually being in one.

I'm doing great here and just wanted to say hi to all of you and that things are going great!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Arrival in Taiwan

September 28, 2009

So! For my first area, I'm in a small township called Yuli. It's on the east down, about halfway down south, so I'm way far away from the Temple and Taibei. After the first 2 orientation days, my trainer had to fly up from Taidong (South part near Kaohsiung), pick me and Elder Adam up and fly down to Taidong. Elder Adam (my MTC companion) is serving in Taidong, so after we arrived there in the 25 min airplane (crazy I know), we took a 40 minute train to Yuli. What's so insane is that in that whole area we're in, it's only my companion and I. We have like 300 square miles in our whole area. We're not sure if that's true, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. When we go visit people, we have to take a train, then at every train station we have bikes locked up to trees. We get those bikes and bike 10-30 minutes to the place. It's all fun though. East Coast Taiwan is SOOO beautiful. Pictures with a camera will never do it justice.

Yesterday (Sunday), We biked over to a member's house to visit them, and we biked next to an old railroad track. On both sides of us were vast rice patties. Then on both sides of the patties were just huge mountains with clouds veiling them. It's so amazingly pretty here!

What's interesting about this area I'm serving is that the last time a person was trained here was 2 years ago. Our area is really special. Right now, its not so much as doing tracting and contacting and finding people, but here its more of instituting the church. We had probably, 12 members at church yesterday and there's more than 30 in our branch boundries. My trainer is the second counsellor in the Branch Presidency, and he's been working hard to get less active members back to church and have the leaders do their job better. Because everything is so spread out, we have maybe 2-3 lessons a day, and most of them are members. So it's a really interesting area and its a great experience. The members though are so loving. I can barely speak down here because the accent is hard to understand and plus I don't know lots of words. But even though I'm a stranger to them and I can't speak their language, they still are really nice to me. David was really right. These people really don't have too much here, but they are so giving and polite. I think a lot of it is because of their love of missionaries. They have what they call "fuyin de chuanjiaoshi" which means "gospel missionary", which is basically the missionary(s) that helped them get baptised. The people here just have tons of love. It's really awesome. Always helping out and sharing.

Anyways! Sorry I'm talking so much. I'll just say that the first 2 days were really tough here in Yuli. I felt so lost with not understanding the language, having a new companion, and not knowing anyone or being in the city. But hey, it's fine. I think I'm all good now. I just need to work hard and get the language and things will be better. I at least know I can help my companion by showing faith and being optimistic about missionary work.

My Preparation day is on Monday instead of Wednesday. Taibei Elders have theirs on Wednesday, but we don't.

Anyways I hope things are going great for you Mom and Dad! Tell Ryan I hope he's doing well!

Elder Scott Carlson