Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Elder Carlson!!!

Today, April 12, is Scott's 20th birthday.

I'll post his letter in a little while.

Mar 29, 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.

Mar. 22, 2010

(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!

Mar. 15, 2010

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...

Mar. 8, 2010

…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. :)

Mar. 3, 2010

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.

Feb. 22, 2010

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. =)