Monday, July 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
This week marks Scott’s 1 year date serving a mission. The term “trunky” refers to having feelings of home and wanting to pack the trunk/suitcase. He still has one more year of service, so we don’t want missionaries to be “trunky.”
I've had such a spiritual preparation day so far... and it's only been 2 and a half hours so far. I woke up and started preparing lessons for the day, and reading a little from the Liahona. Now I got to read (my mother’s) conversion story on email. … we have a few investigators that have been investigators for a long time….Elder Weeks has seen the Spirit change their countanence, and really knows they have felt the truth of this church.
So yesterday, we had Uchtdorf (an apostle and is in the First Presidency of the church) come and of course, I took notes. :) To start out, I'll share this little story. It was seriously alittle bizzare, and surprised me. As missionaries were shaking hands with Uchtdorf, he would look in their eyes and ask them where they were from. Of course, I was busy deciding if I was from Utah, Hong Kong or Mongolia. To my surprise, he didn't ask me. He just looked me in the eyes while shaking my hand and said: "You're homeless, right?". I was SPEECHLESS! Maybe I was a little scruffy and looked homeless... but I knew he was talking about my family being inbetween moves. The Perkins could have told him about me in the car over, but I don't know why they would. It was just weird that he knew that, and it made me realize that if he was that in tune with the Spirit, and looked into my countinence, he very well could have been told that. It was amazing. At the conference, his wife talked, and she really is an amazing woman. I just thought... I hope I get to marry a lady like her and like my mom. She's a great spiritual lady, and my mom really cares about her kids and raised us well. I'll have to start searching hard when I get home.
Then President Uchtdorf spoke and talked about a lot of things. One that stuck well was how to receive answers to questions. He said, write down questions on a notepad, and when you study the scriptures each day, have that page open, and he promised: The more and more you study, the answers will little by little be revealed, until you understand that principle in great depth. (See Preach My Gospel, Pg. 6, Hyrum Smith Quote).
Anyways, this week has been going really well. I'm glad you all are having a great time there. I have difficulities in the mission field, but there's nothing I can't get done with the Lord helping me. I'm sure learning a lot and loving it too. As for being trunky, I'm not really too trunky, so no worries. I think the only main thing is me wanting an iPhone or iPod Touch. I heard of a Gospel Library application on it. It has Preach my Gospel, Liahonas, Scriptures, all the manuals, etc. And... will soon have a lot of languages. I wish I could just pop open a Liahona article to share with an investigator, instead of first having to buy a Chinese one, find out what I want to share, and then having to carry it around in my hands all day. Haha... that's pretty much it. I love my mission. I love you all too. I hope you're all safe and doing well. I'll pray for you and the rest of the family.
So... This week! We did exchanges with my District leader, except it was here in LongTan. It was amazing to see how many more prepared people we ran into. Or at least people willing to give us their information and listen to a message of the Gospel. The one that I felt SOO good about though was this lady. We were outside the Chapel waiting for our awesome progressing investigator Howard. One minute after he arrived, this lady walked into the chapel grounds. She told me she was looking for the Bread of Life church, but we told her it wasn't here. I quickly chatted to her about God and she opened up and told me her story. She started watching "Good TV", a Taiwan Christian TV channel, and after her husband found out, he told her to stop. She stopped, but gradually brought it back. He decided to let her do what she wanted. She then tried getting him to go to church, but he didn't so she never did either. She recently decided that she wants to go by herself, then finally bring her husband over slowly. She talked about feeling the Holy Ghost and searching for the Peace in life that comes from the Gospel. I testified a bit about the Holy Spirit and this Church having prophets guiding this church and through prayer, she can find out which church is true. It was cool. I called her last night though, and she said she only has time on sundays, so she'll come to church some week. I'm excited, and still praying for her.
Other than that, the miracles I've seen is just being guided by the Spirit in talking to people. As an old Mission President's wife used to say, "Follow your stomach, that's sometimes how the Spirit works". We were going to 7-11 to get a drink and copy some papers, and right as I stopped my bike, I found myself starting to talk to the guy next to me. I introduced myself and pointed out our chapel in the distance. We talked about Church and Heavenly Father and he said he wants to check out the chapel sometime. So we'll call him this week and set him up.
That's pretty much my week. It was good, but one of the most tiring weeks I've had. I'm so glad you both get to relax and visit with family in the US. I hope you're all having a blast and enjoying each other's companionship. I thought about it, and thought... I wish I could be there with them and RELAX! Haha... but then I thought about it... I am SOO lucky. Taiwan is so great to me, and I get to live in this beautiful country while preaching the Gospel. So, I love it here. I don't want to take it for granted. This really is the Lord's work, and if we desire success, are worthy, and work hard, he'll bless us, guide us to others, and guide others to us. I can testify of the Spirit in this life. It might seem magical, but it exists and works according to faith.
We just had interviews with President this week, and wow... It totally was a great awakening. A few things he told me were: More finding activites during the day, DON'T visit members unless you have an appointment (because it's a "waste of time"), and to get the most out of my mission, I should be a 100% Obedient, 100% Diligent, and 100% Preach my Gospel missionary. Talk about being guided by revelation. My companion likes going to member's houses and finding people on the way, but most of the time, the member is at work. So, whenever it's my turn to plan activities, I plan to visit Former, potential, or current investigators, or go contact people. Right after President interviews, I went on an exchange with my District Leader, and it was so good. It was so focused and spirit-led. I learned so much and received so much desire to build up the Church, to talk to families on the road, and to share the gospel. I can't take any credit for myself. All to Heavenly Father and the leaders that trained me on this. All I can say is that working hard really is the easier, happier road.
Anyways, thanks for your letter! I hope you all have a blast in the US. We met with Howard and he's still doing good. Really humble and willing to give it all a try. He reads and prays, and we just taught him the Sabbath day and now he's going to try asking his boss if he can get work off on sunday morning to be able to go to church. He said it's probably too hard to get the full day off right now, but he could try to come to church. He's really good.
That's so weird that it's your last week. I can't believe that we're moving out of Hong Kong. That's been my home for such a long time. Maybe I'll get to move back sometime after I graduate. I plan on moving back to Asia later in life, if I can.
Anyways, this week went really fast. I did exchanges with an awesome Elder. He's been in Taiwan for 2 months, but originally from Taiwan. His English is near perfect, he's an aboriginal, and he's the first in his tribe/people to attend National Taiwan University (the best university in Taiwan... basically Taiwan's Harvard). But he is the most "Awesome" missionary I have ever met. We worked really hard and had a great time in his area. I love being with companions that work hard. Only downfall is that they have really high guilt. Guilt could be good at times (to repent, for example), but alot of their guilt is negative feelings, that depress them. So, It's good and bad. I like working hard though. It feels good. I notice that if you don't work hard, time goes so much more slowly and you don't get the fire and happiness from doing missionary work.
We have an awesome investigator named Howard. We only met with him twice, but after the first lesson, he read and prayed about it all. He wants to give Christianity a try, and when we met with him yesterday, he told me that he feels really peaceful when he prays. He's way humble and wants to learn more. I'm excited to continue meeting with him.
As for Chinese, I'm getting better at it, and right now, I can hold a pretty good conversation with anyone. It helps a bunch more being able to practice it in Member's houses and also on the street when finding people. People open up and respond a lot better when you talk to them about their interests and their lives instead of trying to make them listen to our message. Also, you're totally right about this mission meaning alot to you. I have learned sooo much this first year, and I feel like I can talk to people much better. I've also learned alot about confidence and relying on the Lord. I really love it here. One of the biggest things though is seeing lots of symbolism in the Lord's work, and also just in the world.
So... the Subject of the email (From the Dragon pool down to the ro…) is some place's names in my area. I never realized how big our area was compared to TianMu. We spent about 30-40 minutes to travel by bike to some areas. One's called ShiMen (RockDoor). So, to start out, this week has rained every single day. Hard hard rain. We were going to ShiMen to visit some former families and a less-active or two, when we decided to take a short cut up a hiking trail. The shortcut included crossing a SpillWater on a river... which we didn't really think about because it's raining. When we arrived at it, there was NO WAY of crossing that with our bikes. Ironically, that was the last stretch of the shortcut, so we'd have to go all the way back if we didn't cross. From the look on his face, I could tell my companion wanted to ford the river... but thanks to the Spirit, I got a clear answer: NO!!!
We talked to some locals by the river and found a bridge to cross the river, but to get up, we had to carry our bikes up a ladder then ride across. It was much smarter and better.
So, that was just a clear answer that I could feel from the Spirit. It took a while for me to notice it was the Spirit, but there was no way I wanted to disobey that impression. Anyways, I thought it was a cool personal story of guidence by the Spirit.
LongTan is a good area. It's like Yuli, but not as small and spread out. The people are more open to talk, but it's still hard to find those prepared here. We've been doing more less-active work to help repair the ward here. One thing I really like about this area is that I get along really well with my companion. I have no bad thoughts about him, and I can see myself staying in contact with him after the mission. He's hard working and a good teacher.
This Church really is true, and it's shown by the fruits of it. I've been studying "The Gospel Blesses families" and it really does give us the unity and happiness promised. I thought about our family. We might sometimes have small arguments, but mostly, I feel the love we all have for each other. I've been trying to address that more and more to people when first sharing the gospel. It's strange that it's getting close to my year mark. I feel like I haven't been a junior companion very long.
I’m exchanging with another Elder. My companion and his companion are going to visit new members in another area, while me and the rest of the District are going to an amusement park! =D I'm soo excited.
Yeah, so mom, I'm so excited about LongTan. Like, my first week, All I thought about every morning was how many prepared people this place has. It just felt like it has SOO much potential. I actually feel a little like a story in preach my gospel. Our ward doesn't seem to care much about missionary work here and doesn't have a great relationship with the members, but I really want to work on that. Serve and care for the members, and the rest of the time, work the hardest I can to get more people to teach and bring to church. I just feel like this place is going to be really cool.
Elder Weeks (and I) talked to some members, shared scriptures, strengthed them, etc, and it didn't count for any numbers. But it felt good. I felt like I was doing the Lord's work. I feel like this transfer's goal is to find a balance. Everything in the gospel is about temperance and a balance from what I've seen. I'm going to try to find a balance between serving with charity and using "Key Indicators" to focus on what's most important in missionary work. I'll work more on charity for people. Sorry I didn't share any scriptures or anything, but I know Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I've recently learned that following his example and living the "What would Jesus do?" attitude, is an easy, easy answer of how we should make decisions in life.
I'm not in Taibei anymore... I'm in a place called LongTan... which means Dragon pond/swamp. I'm now quite sure how to translate it yet. They have a Chinese Idiom that says: LongTan HuXue... which means "places of extreme danger". Haha... it's like "Dragon lair, Tiger Den". So... We'll see what that means.
I arrived in Taibei Main station early, so my companion and I are writing emails now because nothing else is open in Taibei. We're going to go to the mission office later, and then to a market to get some stuff? I know it's too early for you all to write, so I'll use this time to send pictures :)
But yeah, my last companion, Elder Chen is pretty worried. His new companion is also a senior companion, and he's going home in 6 weeks. So that makes 6 people in his district and only one is younger than a year. He's a good hard working missionary, so he'll do fine. Our mission has numbers set for goals as a "Golden Standard", and Elder Chen and I broke all of them besides one, and doubled one of them. The important thing I hope he learns on his mission though, is how much charity matters... Like Ammon for example. He never said: "And behold, we got 56 new investigators, 10 baptisms, with 200 plan of salvation lessons taught in the land of Zarahemla." But rather that their goal was to "bring some soul" to the knowledge of God. Charity really is the key.
So my new companion is Elder Weeks, he's on his very last transfer and promises to work hard and not get lazy. Haha... I've had a companion alittle like that so, I'm used to it. But I trust that he's going to work hard this next transfer.
Oh! So Sister Mong got baptized yesterday morning. We had the service, and church started right after, so she got confirmed the same day. No having to wait. It was really good, and I'm pretty sure it was a good experience for her.
… it's so cool to think that you're in Hong Kong. Whenever I talk to people and they ask where I'm from, I'm not going to be able to say "Hong Kong". Hungary would be cool to say, but Hong Kong is much more like home. Haha, when I picture Budapest, I picture a frozen city, with me freezing in my small Taiwan jacket... I hope it's not TOO cold.
This transfer with Elder Chen has gone by soo fast, and I've learned alot and have really improved in my abilities as a missionary. I'm a much better street contacter and teacher in lessons. In DanShui, my companion did most of the speaking and teaching, because I couldn't speak Chinese well enough. But now, I got lots of practice here and things are much better.
As for this week, the College girl (Sister Meng) and Brother Chen passed their Baptismal interview. We also had Sister and Elder Pratt visit us this week and what they talked about really helped. They said "Don't baptize someone who hasn't received revelation". After they said that, I felt really good about our two investigators. Brother Chen has a great testimony of prayer. He said that he was praying for a long time sunday morning for it not to rain so he could come to church and go to the interview. It rained REALLY hard that morning, but around 8, it stopped completely. It was a small, but cool miracle for Brother Chen. Sister Meng has a testimony too. I know she knows this church is true. So this week, sunday morning at 8:30, both of them are going to get baptized! Brother Chen had a problem come up with his college major, and he said he can't come to church that sunday morning. We're praying and fasting for a way for him to come. We'll ask him today if he can do the same. It's really imporant to get baptized this week because he's going to Dubai for a Tai kwon do competition for the next few weeks. Anyways, that's this week's main trial.
Also, after seeing how other american missionaries are doing with their native companions, Elder Chen and I are actually doing really great. The only conflicts are on missionary work methods, which everyone has, so things are really going smoothly :)
It seems like lots of Church leaders say that the most important thing to stay active and Endure to the End is attend church, pray, and read the scriptures. I really like it because a missionary taught me this the other day, and you can share this with others if you want. We have CPR! Basically when someone is dying, we try to do CPR and save them. We have a spiritual CPR too. It's basically: Church, Pray, Read. Haha... It's really that easy. If we go to church, we take the sacrament, renew our covenants, and feel the spirit. If we read and pray, we'll have the Spirit and be guided through life as we pass through our trials. It's really that simple. Of course we need to teach our families, fulfill our callings, but as long as we do those, we'll have the spirit so much more in our lives. We'll develop Christ-like Attributes, and live more and more like Jesus lived.
That's pretty much my week. It went really well, and I'm so glad you had a great time with Elder Hallstrom and everyone else over in Hong Kong. It sounded like a great talk.
I got to go... today we had preparation day on wednesday because... IT'S TEMPLE DAY!!!!! I'm so excited. I hope you have a great week and I'll talk to you on monday and tell you where I'm moving to :)
Wow... you all are having so much fun! I really miss Hong Kong, and I wish I got to spend more time there. Maybe I'll get to go back and live there someday. Oh! So I was talking to Brother Larsen about a month ago and he said that they usually offer the Foreign Officers exam at colleges every year... I was thinking about doing that when I get back to BYU. I would love to work for the Embassy. Just run around the world and let my kids grow up in different countries.
So, truthfully, this week went really fast. I can now testify that if you work hard, time goes by really fast. The 2 transfers I had in DanShui went sooooo slow. Truthfully, we didn't work really hard there. We taught lots of lessons, but as for sharing the gospel everywhere we go, we could've improved. This week, I've been focusing on a few things. For contacting people on the street, I've been making what Preach my Gospel tells us to do. It says to share brief summaries of restored Truth. So, I talk about the restoration, the Book of Mormon, Better family relations, etc. I share 2 sentences and bear my testimony of how it's blessed my life, and it's yielded good results. People are willing to talk more instead of just rejecting us because we're missionaries. It's really neat.
That's pretty much it? It really went too fast. I'm also starting to lose weight. Haha... When I came to TianMu, I was about 70kg, and now I'm around 65kg or less.
I was thinking two nights ago about what it'd be like to go home. Not like a trunky feeling, but just of how life would change, which really got me to appreciate this mission more. For example, It really is amazing to be able to focus this much time on spirituality and the Gospel. Back before I came on a mission, I went to church, fulfilled my callings, and did 5 minutes of drowsy Book of Mormon study, while out here it's 2 hours study, and the whole day to practice what we learn from the scriptures and Preach my Gospel.
Hahaha... I forgot to tell you that we were shaking hands with the Apostle too. Yeah, I figured that if anyone were to understand what happened, it'd be the Apostle. The person I had to worry about was President. So that's who I mentioned. I figured if Sister Perkins hugged me, it wasn't a problem or anything. It was just funny to be like: "Ahh! I got hugged by a girl!"
So this week, my companionship had alot more struggles, but we worked them out now. I'm finally having the spirit and having a fun time with Elder Chen. We've done some really good work these past few weeks, and now that we have more unity and more Spirit, I'm excited to see the miracles we'll do this next week. I still worry about Elder Chen as he worries too much. Worries about himself as an example, worries about the district, worries about the numbers... etc. I'm trying to help him out. Stress can be good at times, but alot of constant stress isn't good for the body. I'll see what I can do about that. Any ideas? Elder Chen actually is passed out on the couch next to me at the internet cafe. I might have to poke him or something.
But yeah, things are doing great! I can truely say I'm really going to miss the mission, so I hope I can make the most and do the best I can during this time. Like David said in a letter to me, It'll be nice to see my family again and friends too, but I'll really miss my friends and the people here. I got to see lots of members from DanShui yesterday and it made me happy to catch up with them and see how they're doing.
A college girl we've been working with (who basically is a member already) got her baptism approved from her father and now she'll be getting baptized in the next 2 weeks. I'm so excited! She already has a bunch of LDS friends and an LDS boyfriend, so she'll stay active. It's cool!
Wow, so Ryan leaving to college, you and Dad getting released, moving to another country, seminary, etc... You all are really going to have a lot of spare time. Haha, it'll be a good opportunity for you all to catch up on things and get to tour around Hong Kong one last time.
… when I get off my mission, I'll make it a point to call every sunday night and more. Truthfully, that's one thing I missed when I left on my mission. Just getting to talk to my mom about things in life and seeing how Hong Kong is doing. So, I'll do that for sure!
Oh, I never told you this did I? I'm sending this to both you and Dad to read this part. Elder D. Todd Christofferson came to our mission last week. It was really cool. The cool part that I liked was shaking his hand. It was firm but gentle at the same time. It made me think of what shaking Christ's hands would be like. After reading alot of Jesus the Christ, the whole image I had of Jesus changed. He's more of a bold, righteous, perfect figure than I ever thought. He's loving though harshly rebuking. When I shook Elder Christofferson's hand, it felt like I was shaking the Savior's hand.
Elder Christofferson also said something that confirmed a thought I had in my head these past weeks. Elder Chen is a good missionary, but gets way too stressed about making goals and getting enough 'numbers' for the week. Sometimes it makes me think he cares about numbers too much. Elder Christofferson talked about it, saying: "When it comes to numbers, we don't care." It was a good rebuke/reminder to the mission of our MISSION here in Taiwan. Are we just getting points so when we're done with our missions we can compare, or are we working for the salvation of Heavenly children? It's one thing Elder Chen and I are trying to work on. Numbers help us have a better vision for the area, but we need to remember that charity we're trying to develop to actually bring people to Christ.
The other thing I learned this week is the importance of the Spirit. As I said on the phone, we have some language barriers, and because of them, we say stuff that we didn't mean. Because of that, we got in some arguments, and the spirit was completely lost. That whole day, we only got to talk to about 2-3 people on the streets. Then on Sunday, we finally talked about the conflict and got it resolved. Right after that, we knocked 2 doors. The first one set up another time next week to meet, and the next door let us in to teach a lesson. It was amazing how much difference the Spirit makes.
Hey, thanks for the scriptures! That was sweet. Thanks for always praying for me. I feel so much more helped that I've ever felt in my life. I'm sure yours and Dad's prayers help me daily. This mission is so life changing and awesome. Not like Awesome, DUDE!... But just really puts me in awe, for how much I have changed for the better. I feel so much prepared to take on life. I'm almost a year out, but I feel so much more prepared for life in serving the church, raising a family, etc. It's just so neat. You'll probably understand when you and Dad go on a mission. Maybe Dad might even be mission president some day...
As for Charity, it's something that I need to work on too. It seems like everytime I pray to develop a Christlike Attribute, Heavenly father sends a trial to test me and let me practice... it's hard, but I'm learning.
Anyways, missionary work is going great! Elder Chen and I work really hard everyday. I haven't worked this hard since... Hmm.. maybe ever? Haha... It's really good prep for when I become senior though. I feel like I'm getting close to King Benjamin who "by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul"(W of M 1:18) to do the Lord's work.
I just want to say that it was great to talk to you yesterday and good to know you all are doing so well. I hope you had a great mother's day and Dad and Ryan treated you really well. Thanks for everything you do for me! I know this is the Lord's work and his Spirit is real. It will guide us in our efforts everyday as long as we stay worthy and "ask, seek, and knock".
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sister Hou is really cool. The ward fellowships her a bunch, but because I have a new companion, I feel like we don't visit her like we should. She got baptized and then it's like the missionaries forgot about her. I want to visit her more, so I'll see what I can do. Elder Chen is a really hard worker, and really is devoted to finding new investigators. We have our struggles, but we're both trying to be patient, and actually... him and I only speak English because he wants to teach English after the mission. I want to speak Chinese, so I'll see what I can do.
Elder Chen actually has met David. David served in his branch right before David left Taiwan. It was funny to see some pictures of David and also some stories. Apparently, David's favorite phrase was "wo de xiezi you she", a quote from Toy Story: "There's a snake in my boot!!" And other stuff. Also, he says I'm a lot like David too. As for explosion of the work, because I went on an exchange with my Zone Leader, I can use the Book of Mormon so much better on the street. I haven't had so many people stop and listen to me. My Zone Leader taught me to have faith and use the Book of Mormon through his example. It was really cool! He isn't the most educated and his Chinese is just a little above mine, but his faith is so big that language is not the problem. You can just feel the love he has for the people when he teaches. It's really neat. Our mission is focusing more on finding people and getting more new investigators than teaching skills or working with members, so it's a bit of a change, but it's getting there on my side.
As for Brother Chen, we'll have to see how things will go. His breath smelled a little like smoke last time, so we'll talk to him about it. He's definitely got a testimony. We just have to make sure he can trust us and not be so embarrassed that he'll forget about the church.
I hope things are going great over there. Ryan should be preparing for exams soon, and you all are packing up getting ready to move. Haha, plus Grandma and Blaire and Karen are coming. Hopefully its not stressful!
Oh, so a HUGE THING: SISTER HOU GOT BAPTIZED! It went SO well. Even though I didn't find her, it was cool to see her get baptized. She had such a good experience, and the ward members are excellent at fellowshipping. She's going to do so well here. But next stop: Her husband and kids! I'm already really good friends with her 8 year old daughter, so we'll see if I can get her to start praying with us. Her husband gets opposition from his parents, but I feel like eventually we can get him baptized too. That's one of my goals this transfer.
Speaking of transfers, today marks the new transfer, and Elder Green has gone down to TaiDong as a District Leader(The district I started out in). And my new companion is from Taiwan, and knows David! David moved into his Branch and a week or two later he left on his mission. His name is Elder Chen, and so far, he's a hard worker and really loves telling people about the gospel. He and his TaiDong companion had about 27 baptismal dates set when he left, so we'll see how much that explodes here. I'm willing to work hard, so we'll see how much success we can have here. I already sense some possible difficulties with the culture/language barrier, but it'll all work out as long as we're patient with each other.
This week has been kinda crazy. We got called from the Mission Office and they said that they want us to paint the apartment by the end of the week. When we got that, we knew that it would basically kill the missionary work for the rest of the week, but we still managed to get things ready for Sister Hou's baptism and other lessons too. But so far I had to paint 2 mission apartments. Haha, I think I'm going to start counting that number. So far I have: 8 Trees carried up a mountain, got chased by 23? dogs, painted 2 apartments, etc... Besides from the crazy schedual, things were a bit emotionally up and down. I still don't feel like my mandarin is where it should be, but that probably comes from comparing to other missionaries and people. It's alittle discouraging. But this last week, I really had a good time with Elder Green. He's probably one of my favorite companions on the island.
... Things are going to go really well this week. Brother Chen really has a big testimony about this gospel and is going to get baptized soon. It's going to be interesting to see what else goes on in this area, this transfer.
…I hope the whole volcano thing clears up. It's kinda strange/cool/scary to see that these days really are the last ones. Shows us so much more how much we need to prepare for it. A member recited this scripture to me last sunday (in Chinese of course): "If ye are prepared, ye need not fear" from D&C. If we're prepared for the last days, we don't need to fear. Being prepared to enter the temple is a great measurement of the preparedness. This life really is just a probationary time, and our real life that we should be preparing for is our eternal life. Here we do our labors, but there we live as families in happiness forever. It's fun to put that in perspective.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
So I'm with Elder Green here from Oregon. He's a great worker and good companion. I'm working back to being exactly obedient, but it'll take some work since It kinda went down from my last companion. Andrew sent me a letter and he might be going zone leader soon, so he's pretty excited he gets to serve more.
As for work here, we have this awesome family named the Hou Family. The Mom believes in prayer and is going to finish off reading the whole Book of Mormon soon. The Dad has a few issues to work through and needs a basic testimony, but other than that, they're all great. I'm excited to work with them more.
Sooo... Guess what! My area is where all the foreigners live, so it's really been fun to talk to the foreigners here and having a big connection that most other missionaries don't have. The English ward bishop asked us to visit the members since the missionaries assigned to their ward can't go that far, so we took 2 hours out of a day to do that. The first person we visited said there were a few more families in that building. He said: "The Larsens are a floor right above us..." and I said: "Like... Nick Larsen?". He said yes, and after we finished our conversation, we went upstairs, and surprised my old Priesthood leader. Haha, it was so cool. His family is doing great, and their son David is HUGE. They invited us to eat dinner with them on April 12... haha little do they know that it's my birthday. So that will be a cool little treat.
As for the Hou Family, things have been great! She finished about a week ago now, and is now keeping a whole chronology/story book of the whole thing. Like... what happens in 1 Nephi down to Moroni. She's awesome that way. The one thing we're going to have to work with her on is Sabbath Day. She works on Sunday, and doesn't seem to understand the whole deal of not buying things either. It'll be good though. We actually got the husband to join us in a prayer, and as we left he looked a lot more happier. We're going to see good things from this family. =D Also, we found out through Sister Hou that Chinese people have April fools day. She called us during our planning for the week and with a sad voice said: "My husband hit me and said I can't join the Church. Like really hit me. I need to talk to you two..." We talked to her for a bit, and said we'd come after were done planning. As we arrived to her store, she came out all sad, holding a piece of paper saying.... April Fools Day in Chinese... She got us SOO BAD! It was really funny though. What did you guys do for April Fools?
Other than that, there's not much going on lately. I ate a whole chicken foot and felt like a Neanderthal the whole time. You can only look so polite when you're ripping off chicken fingers with your teeth. Haha..
Oh yeah! I recently realized something. When people say their chinese last names to people, they usually say a word so people can know what character it is. For our family name, the usual way to say it is Confucious, and they know our character is Kong. As a joke, I use the word "Nostril". So, around the kids, I answer to the name "Nostril" or BeeKong, in Chinese. It's really fun.
Anyways, I'm glad you had a great time in Macau! I hope both the birthday and anniversary went well! Dad: I'm going to send a card to you soon! Sorry I'm late!
Love you both so much! =D I'm so lucky to have awesome parents. I've felt the Spirit so much this week, and was reminded that it's not about skill, but it's about teaching the Lord's way, which is the Spirit. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants, "If it is by some other way, it is not of God" (or something really close to that). I know I'm not a great teacher, and it's a weakness given to me so I can rely on the Lord for strength, and for that I'm so greatful.
(Upon learning his new nephew was named Austin, which is Scott's middle name, he says the following.)
Wow!!! I had no clue he was named Austin!! WOOO hahahaha I'm so stoked! I'm definitely going to teach him Chinese and how to rock climb now. I'll have to wait a few years though. =( I'mmm soooo excited!! =D I've always wanted a nephew.
(And after finding out the things we did while in Taipei, he says...)
Wow... that's so funny that you were at Fisherman's wharf... I was there my second to last night in DanShui. We went with an investigator to talk and eat something quick. It was good. We talked about life, what he's doing with his and other stuff. Developing friendships with investigators is just about as important as sharing the gospel with them. That's acutally one thing I thought about for a while. Like, the Church has a lot of money. So much that they could mail pamplets and copies of the Book of Mormon (haha) to everyone in the world. So why have missionaries? A few reasons... We're called with power and authority, we can resolve concerns, become friends with them, and bear testimony of it. In a way, I think of it like I'm not baptizing people, I'm baptizing friends. =)
Anyways, I'm glad you had a great time in Taibei. If I saw you in Taiwan, I don't think I'd be distracted too bad. I'd probably just try to contact you in Chinese for fun and say hi. Haha... that'd be confusing for both of you and my companion.
My new place (TianMu) is really cool, but I honestly miss DanShui. I miss the ocean, mountains, hills, lots of people and other cool things. I have a weird feeling that I'm going to be confined to the city for a good part of my mission. I really do love the ward here though. They're really welcoming and warm. Lots of members are willing to go with us to teach lessons too, so it's going great.
(On hearing about Ryan's school trip...)
Wow... Mongolia sounds so fun. He didn't freeze to death... that's good. He'll be able to take those clothes to Utah and stay super warm. It's hard to think that Ryan is 18 now and going to college next year. Weird huh? Oh yeah! Did Ryan get my present by chance? I hope it made it to Hk...
Anyways, I think the coolest thing I felt this week was during my scripture study. I'm usually in Preach my Gospel and Jesus the Christ, but recently I've opened the Book of Mormon and read parts of it. IT"S SOO COOL! I just LOVE the feeling of learning new things in the scriptures. Whether its about faith, or the Spirit World, or other thing, the truth just speaks out. Sometimes it's confusing, but once you read over it a few times it makes alot more sense and has more parts that lots of people miss the first time over. Basically the scriptures are awesome. I love them.
Be safe and be happy! =D Just remember we came to earth to have trials... and JOY!
I just wanted to say I'm doing great! And as Dad has guessed, I just got transferred! I'm with an Elder named Elder Green. He's from Oregon and he's a cool guy. He's a hard worker, so I'm excited for the miracles we're going to see. We're in a place called TianMu, which means Heaven Mother. It's about 20 minutes away from DanShui and it's in the same zone, so I'll see my old companion still and some of my friends up in DanShui. It's going to be a good good transfer. Elder Green is actually my last companion's last companion. Does that make sense? When I came to DanShui, I replaced Elder Green. He went Senior in TianMu and has been doing really well. My only worry now is being able to keep up with him. I have such a big learning potential here in terms of fire for the work. He's a great example and I'm excited to learn a lot from him.
Yeah! I heard about Erika and Sterling! I'm finally an Uncle :D I wished them congrats for making me an uncle and told them how cool I was. Then I told them I was kidding and that I'm not that prideful. :) But I'm always working on being more humble. (The “making me an uncle” part refers to a family joke. Scott has 3 nieces, so when each girl is born, we say he is an Aunt. So now that the first boy has born, Scott is now and Uncle.)
As for DanShui, I had a great time there. My companion and I had some arguments and some unhappy times, but overall, I found my happiness in the members and my investigators/friends. I was really sad to leave them. They're all cool, but I know I'll meet some more friends here in TianMu and will get to know more people and share the gospel better as I learn the language.
Anyways, it's weird to believe that in a few months, I'd been on my mission for a year. I'm trying not to count the months though. I feel like this transfer is going to change that :)
Oh yeah! Sister Kunkel got me the package. She's one of my mission office friends. I was soo happy! Thanks so much for it! I was wondering if the mangos came from the pantry, because they expired in December... But we're still munching on them... I think it's just because I still feel invincible, but after eating them, my stomach feels weird.
Anyways, I didn't get to do much personal study because of this week's schedual, but I'm starting to more and more like Jesus the Christ. Especially since Easter is coming. There's so many things to learn from him. For example, in our Missionary Handbook, it talks about Leaders leading mainly by example and teaching. Alot of that is so important. If you're a leader and teaching what you're not following, you're basically a hippocrite. Jesus followed his teachings whether it be in his earthly ministry or in his Jehovah role in the Old Testament. I just love how he's a leader and an example, and how that carries over to us today in our leadership. I hope I can be the best example I can be whenever I'm called upon for leadership roles.
Thanks so much for being awesome parents! I love you both so much! Thanks for always being great examples. I feel like I've had a great childhood because of you two. I just want you both to know that I love you both. I hope things go better and a bit more relaxing.
Elder Scott Carlson
P.S. With all the recent earthquakes (Haiti, Chili, etc)... it's really beginning to feel like the last days...
…Sterling… advice was to be the most obedient you can be, and you'll be sooo blessed. I haven't seen much success in terms of investigators or activation efforts, probably because of obedience or lack of charity. Not that I'm really disobedient, but that I let little stuff slide. The main thing though I learned is that I need to work hard to get Charity. Also just serve my companion! Like... Shine shoes, make his bed, breakfast, etc. I'll have to think of some creative stuff. But I'm excited to start thinking of some ideas to serve better. (Sterling is Erika’s husband. Erika is Scott’s 2nd big sister. They are expecting a baby boy any day now.)
This week was really fun and really trying. We started out with our Monday doing missionary work, and also painting our old apartment. I was looking at your Blog and I thought it was soo funny what you said about David's (missionary) apartment. You said that his was pretty good living conditions... I'm pretty nervous to show you mine! It's by far the nicest apartment I have ever lived in. I'll try to send some pictures. Ops! I don't have any, I have a video but it's too huge to send over. The whole trying part though was with exchanges. Sometimes... I just don't like them. I become the Senior Companion, and I'm just babysitting the other Elder while he tells me everything I'm doing wrong. But then sometimes, there's exchanges that are fun and you get a lot done. Elder Broadhead, a guy in my district is such a charitable guy! He's really been making my time here in DanShui go by happily. I hope I can learn some more from him if he's here next transfer.
So, other thing. I got a letter in the mail from my last companion, Elder Lindsay. I don't know if you remember him, but he's such a good awesome companion. I wish I knew that more when I was with him. He said that things in Yuli are going well. He got one of our investigators baptized, and has about 5 other baptisimal dates set. All from people he and I found and taught in Yuli. I'm SOO excited for all of them. Sadly I don't get to see them again and go to their baptisms, but I'm happy he's doing so well down there.
Also, I got a letter from Andrew, and he's on his 4th transfer in Australia. He's been made District Leader, and also Senior companion of course. He's doing great! :)
Other than that, things are great! I'm really excited for my new nephew! I can't wait to hear about him and see him too! Also, it's pretty funny that you and Dad are in Taipei right now. Umm... if you want you can give me a call!! My phone is... 0972... haha jk. I'm not sure I can give that out. But yeah, I hope you two will have fun! It's colder than usual so make sure you bundle up! Also, try to go find yellow watermelon! I ate at a member's house the other day, and they gave us it. I NEVER KNEW THEY HAD THAT! I was going crazy. They all thought my reaction was pretty funny. (Arvid and I visited Taipei – he on business and I for pleasure. This time we did NOT ask for permission to visit our missionary as we knew the answer would be “No.” But we even visited DanShui, where Scott is living!)
As for Spiritual stuff, I LOVE JESUS THE CHRIST! I've been reading that for like 30 minutes every personal study in the morning. I'd study other stuff like the Book of Mormon and Preach my Gospel, but it's so interesting that I can't put it down. I've never had so much new information about Jesus put in front of me before. The thing that stuck out was what I read yesterday during lunch. Jesus taught about the Sabbath and reproved the Pharisees about the lack of mercy. The one line that stood out to me was our Lord's words: "The Sabbath was made for man, not Man for the Sabbath". This simple phrase reminded me of how much force we might put on obeying laws (and mission rules), without remembering why we have it. The Pharisees forgot about the restful blessings the Sabbath gave, and basically put the importance of the Sabbath over the life of Man. It was great for me to remember why we even have our mission rules and commandments. It's to protect us. 100% Obedience is important, but without love and mercy, we're basically like the Pharisees.
Anyways, that was part of what I learned that day. I love that book! But hey, it's time for me to go. I love you both so so much! You two mean a ton to me. I hope you enjoy Taiwan. Make sure you get some winter melon tea while you're here. Just say "DONG GUA CHA" and they'll probably understand what you want. :)
The coolest thing that happened to me this week was our investigator Eason. It seems like this always happens to us here. We met with him after English class, and my companion left the room to take a phone call, so we just talked. He said that he's visited so many other Christian Churches, and they were all weird in a way. He came to ours and said he felt it was the true one. He said he really wants to try it out. He's just a golden guy! I'm so happy to have him. Only thing though is that he said in April he's moving over to Australia. So we're debating as if to try to get him baptized before that, or give him over to the missionaries in Australia. And it's quite possible that I could give him over to Andrew! They're in close by cities. So we'll see with that.
(Andrew Chenn is a good friend of Scott's from Hong Kong. They were also at BYU together.)
It just seems that whenever I get a cool investigator, they always move or something comes up. Kinda stinks, but I just press forward. I did my part, and I hope missionaries/members get to do theirs later. :) Eason is just a really cool person.
A missionary in my District heard about the Chile earthquake, and he has a friend there right now too, and so he's glad to hear that everyone is doing alright. I guess it might be just a matter of time before Taiwan could have something like that. I've already been in 3-4 small/medium-sized earthquakes, so yeah. Really, the signs of the times are coming. I hope that Taiwan isn't due for something like that for a while.
As for things this week, basically have been slow still. We've been moving into this really nice place. We have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, really nice family room/study area and a really nice kitchen. I feel like I'm living in a hotel. Plus it's like 300 USD per month. SO much cheaper than BYU apartments... makes me want to come back here and live here.. but I miss the US so probably not.
I think the hard thing with my companions is that I haven't had much charity for them. I'm always around them and just noticing flaws, which I really need to change. The other thing is when I'm trying to be obedient, but can't because of my companion's decisions. But I'm working on things and It'll be much better. As a Junior companion, I follow my companion's lead and just do the best I can individually. I was thinking about it last night, and decided that whenever I have a negative thought about my companion, I'll think of a strength he has and focus on those. I really want to treat my companion like my best friend. That's where I think most of the issues come from.
As for missionary work here, it's not bad. I won't complain. We had our whole day filled up yesterday with people and things to do. We had 5 lessons scheduled, (which is REALLY good), but 5 people who didn't show up too. So that stunk, but we got to get some other chores done for the new apartment.
Sorry I didn't write Monday. Our leaders didn't plan very far ahead and cancelled our preparation day on Monday, and put it for today (Wednesday) to let us go to the temple. I'M SO EXCITED! I haven't been to the temple in like... 6 months. I'm so happy to get to do another Endowment.
Anyways, besides moving, painting the old apartment, not much has happened. I did go on an exchange with another Junior Companion in my district, and we ate lunch at this American Restaurant. It was the best Chillidog I have ever had. We then went contacting and something my companion calls "Exploacting" Basically its Exploring, Contacting, and Tracting in one. We met a really cool guy, but never got his number. We're hoping he'll call us sometime to get more answers to his problems.
I told Erika this, and I just wanted to say this again. I recently have been reading Jesus the Christ a bunch, and it's such a cool book. I hope this isn't blasphemous, but Jesus is AWESOME!! He's totally the man. I've never noticed lots of things Jesus the Christ did. He really is the perfect mortal person to walk the earth and the way he does things really is the path we all should follow. My perception of him as a gentle, caring, emotional guy has changed to a being who is bold, kind, chastizing, wise, smart, gentle, caring, etc. He just does everything so perfectly.
Yeah, Gmail is all great now, I had to help some other district members get theirs all ready too, so now I can finally write back!! It's pretty fast and really convenient, so I'm really glad they did this. I heard some rumors that they were releasing this for missionaries and I got pretty excited. I'll be able to send more pictures through this too!
Yeah, things are much better with companions and alot of it was just people in the District, but that's doing much better now. Just this GuoNian time was pretty rough. We were meeting with members every day, and didn't do much missionary work because everyone goes south. Every meal we went to, we spent about 3 hours there talking and eating. One morning I weighed myself and I was 65 kg, I came home that night as 70 kg. Haha... about 11 pounds of food by the end of the day. But that's guonian. Also, this week is going to be more slow as we're going to be packing up all the junk in the apartment to move over to the other one. My companion said it takes about 2-3 days to do it all, plus all the other meetings we have during the week... Yeah, our week is about filled up then. We find it kinda funny that we have so many meetings about how to do missionary work. We have 2.5 hours of study in the morning, and once a week we have 2 hours of District Meeting, then we have Zone Conference about 2 times a transfer, which is an all day thing... etc. I don't know how many hours of meetings we have, but it's a fairly huge amount.
Hmm... this is a funny thought I never thought I'd have. I'm sitting next to this guy who's playing a game where he makes this guy dance by pressing arrow keys. I never thought that I'd think "wow... he's wasting his life with video games, when he could be outside running or biking, or hanging out with friends". Like, I think video games are ok, but some of them are just completely pointless, and just a huge waste of money and time. That thought was kinda random, but yeah. I'd rather be doing something outside or with friends than that game.
(I'm paraphrasing some of what Scott directed at me - his mom - regarding my early morning seminary class.) I remember being a student there and I'd listen and watch the teacher, but I like other students was pretty tired. One thing we're taught as missionaries, is that to keep people's attention up, is ask questions. People will easily zone out or even fall asleep unless they participate in some way. Something that Sterling sent to me a while ago in the MTC. He said "Remember that Ammon and his brothers were told to be patient in their afflictions before they experienced any success." And I'd say that applies to us where ever we're serving in the Church. It's hard, but keep your vision and purpose of why you're serving on your mind. I was glad Sister Wade taught us as well as my other teachers, like you in South Africa. =) From what I've found, what people are responsive to is personal stories and experiences, as well as asking them about what they think and about things in their lives.
(Directed at Arvid, serving as the District President.) It's crazy to see that as the world gets more wicked, the more effect and temptations it places on the members. I can't even imagine what it'd be like for Dad to always hold those disiplinary councils. I really hope things get worked out. He really is a busy man and I know there's lots of pressures on you and him right now. I really hope these experiences keeps you and him even closer together and closer to the Savior. That's one thing I've heard about quite a few times about marriage and how trials are really good experiences to grow closer together, no matter how hard it is. I'm excited to be able grow close to someone like that... but as for now, I'm a missionary haha... I've got a few years down the road for that.
Anyways, thanks for being an awesome Mom. And thanks so much for writing every week. Missionaries really appreciate that. I hope I can write Ryan every week and just make his mission happier that way. But thanks for yours and Dad's examples as parents and thanks for this experience to be on a mission. =)
Anyways, thanks for being an awesome Mom. And thanks so much for writing every week. Missionaries really appreciate that. I hope I can write Ryan every week and just make his mission happier that way. But thanks for yours and Dad's examples as parents and thanks for this experience to be on a mission. =)
Friday, February 19, 2010
This week really has gone really slowly and I really think it's because of the New Year... Everyone is gone, or can't meet, or is just busy. So like... Missionary work is ground to a halt. We teach small lessons when we can, but other than that, we're just eating at member's houses and meeting with them. That's pretty much it. Oh! Also, we've recently been looking for a new place to live too. The apartment we've been in, missionaries have lived in for about 10-15 years... so It's probably about time to choose another. We found one in the price limit... and it's called the Monte Carlo. We now feel alot more proud just having that name for a building. But luckly the missionary work is keeping us humble. Haha...
I teach English class for the Kids here in DanShui, and I immediately have a lot more respect for Teachers. They certainly do not get paid enough for their efforts. It sure is fun in someways though.
We had this long time investigator who decided he'll come to church. He got in a motorcycle accident a few weeks ago and had a bad wrist injury. He came to church and at the door he said "It's soo weird. My wrist doesn't hurt." He sat with my companion and during the meeting, he took off his cast and started flexing his wrist in all directions and just stared at it. He turned to my companion and said: "Ok... I need to get baptized. I have to do it quick and my family can't know about it"... So that's another issue, and we'll be working with him on that. He can get baptized, but we don't want any family issues. It was just a cool little miracle we saw here in DanShui.Here's a pictures I've taken recently... we have an investigator who is a , so he let us mess around with his booth a little bit.
So, here's this week's story... The week started out good! We got to get lots of lessons in and talk to a bunch of people even though the 3 colleges and the schools around here are on winter break, and the Chinese New Year is coming up too. Then, during our District Meeting, the sisters announced that they have a baptism planned for (Feb 7th). But.... they needed someone to baptize their investigator. Considering that I haven't had a baptism yet, and haven't even attended a baptisminal service here in Taiwan, they asked me to do it. So sunday came around and there I was doing the baptism. I had the prayer all memorized and it was good. Basically, the investigator's body was really really stiff, and the water was fairly low in our portable font. So... 7 prayers and attempts later, the lady was baptized. I felt so bad and embarrassed everytime I... kinda had to shove her down. But all in all, it was a good experience. I feel like she forgave my weaknesses, and it over all was great. She also is fellowshipped really well among the members, so it seems just perfect.
Even though I had the opportunity to baptize a person this week, I think the best experience I had this week came from a personal experience in the . If you guys could read Alma 36:18-20 real quick, it'd make this even more meaningful. Basically in that scripture, Alma is recounting to his son his experience with the Angel. He said while he was passed out/unable to move, he was experiencing the anguish of his sins. But he remembered his father's words about Jesus Christ and called upon his name to deliver him from this sorrow and pain. After that, He said that he felt so happy and joy. He said his joy was as exceeding as his pain.
I really felt that this week. I thought about some stuff I really needed changing and felt that Godly sorrow for my sins. One of the saddest things I think I've felt is that severed connection between myself and my God. What's so marvelous is that through Christ's atonement, we can call upon with a sincere heart to repair that connection. When the sin is forgiven and repentance is complete, the Spirit flows so strongly, and the joy comes. I really felt that. Not only was that time some of the saddest times I've ever felt, but also was some of the happiest feelings I felt. This experience let me know that God does live, and he loves us. Jesus really is the Christ, and the Atonement is one of the most important things we can use in this life.
Anyways, Life on a mission has challenges, but it's such a great experience. I hope you all are doing well in your everyday challenges too. It's always important to remember that trials are learning opportunities. Just always press forward with faith in Christ, and we'll make it home fine.
I love you all! I wish the best for all of you!
Elder Scott Carlson