Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Your Son Liveth!

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,

REJOICE! THE LORD IS KING! HE REIGNS OVER ALL AND IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD!  ELDER RICHARDS HAS RETURNED!  His side-burns have been shaved and his countenance is bright.  I'm so happy that he left, for now he has returned and he knows EXACTLY why he is here.  The Lord is in fact the a God of mercy and prayers have been answered.

Well, now that that's over with, it's that time of the week again, when you get to hear from your most favorite missionary son!  I loved receiving letters throughout the week because I could better plan out what I could say to conserve my time.  However, I am ridiculously strapped for time each time I write, so bear with me, for my letters will be lacking in detail greatly.  As a quick note, if I don't get to everything, expect a letter with more details, and tell Eric that I will send him a hand-written letter in reply to his letters (which I am extremely grateful for), and not to expect personal emails until I arrive in the field.  You wrote a lot, so I'll do my best to reply to everything:

The fact that Bishop Thompson complimented you on that tie is wonderful.  Thanks for the honorable mention. ;)  I'm happy that ward conference went well!  Mom, you are a choice daughter of your heavenly father, and he loves and appreciates that you were willing to sacrifice  your Sunday for such an honorable cause and for supporting your husband.  I would, mother, like to hear some more personal things from you!!  It seems like Dad writes the emails and you mention a couple of things for him to place in them...this is not good enough!  I want to hear from you!  The Mandarin is going surprisingly well.  I'm picking up a lot, and although some have had experience before, I am ahead of some of them.  I'm still behind the ones that have had more than two years, or actual experience in the country.  They are beasts.  I will work harder.  I have Jesus' name on my badge. 

I'm not sure what I have forgotten necessarily, but there are a few things that I would like (but don't need immediately).  I would like some more hair stuff when you get around to it.  I have plenty for now, but I'll run short soon and I can't get any in here.  I'm sure whatever you get will be fine.  Regarding the tie clip, I DO NOT want it.  I left it at home intentionally so that Eric would wear it for me while I was away (like I wore his).  The pretzels that mom sent me were VERY YUMMY!  Keep it coming (within reason)! 

The sleep schedule....well, let's see.  Surprisingly perhaps, I am the best at going to bed when I'm supposed to and waking up when I'm supposed to.  I have been able to follow that rule with an exactness and I have been blessed accordingly.  Matt is doing very well in Mandarin.  He's a smart guy.  He can speak the language (which is most of the battle) so all he has to do is memorize grammar and words...I'm not quite there yet.  He's an incredible young man and an incredible missionary.  He really is one of my best friends in the entire world.  I adore and admire him.  I'm so happy he's here.  He feels like my second companion (that's how much I see him).  His companion, Elder Hougaard (or however you spell it) is such a nice guy too.

Thank you for praying with me.  It means the world to me.  I truly can feel the strength of your prayers in all that I do.  They bolster me up and strengthen me.  I greatly appreciate them. Read Moroni 8:3.  This is exactly how I feel that you feel about me.  I think you'll love it.  I feel that I have been placed in a hyperbolic time chamber of spirituality and maturity (ask Eric for the reference).  I feel like I have aged years in the weeks I have been here.  I feel more mature and I have NEVER understood the spirit the way that I do now.  I always need help with the language, so keep those coming.  Also, my patriarchal blessing is stunning, please take a peek at it again.  I did, and I got loads more out of it this time.

I'm happy that I've inspired your biking Dad! :P  Congrats on your success! I honestly mean it.  And I'm sorry for all the times that I gave you a hard time about it.  I know it means a lot to you.  And I know that I mean more to you than cycling.  That's all I need.  You are a wonderful parent.

Mom,  You are one of the most incredible, humble, kind people I know.  Don't let your talents go to waste!

Elder Neil and I.....are......Elder Neil and I.  I KNOW that we were meant to be put together and so with that knowledge I have persevered.

My daily schedule isn't very exciting.  I get up early, then eat, then go to class (which is three hours long) which is a fusion of language and spiritual study.  Following that I'll have personal study (where I read scriptures and stuff) then I have language study (where I study the language) then lunch, then class maybe (the schedule varies daily) which is another three hours (also a fusion).  We'll teach investigators, or practice the language on computers, or a dozen other things.  Sorry, I'm over my time limit as we speak so this part isn't very specific  so I will likely send you a letter. 

Last thing.  Today I was sitting in the temple and  I read 2 Nephi 4:18-the end I think.  read it.  It is inspirational.  I feel great.  The Lord loves you guys and he loves that you love me so much.  Thank you so much for everything.  Expect a letter sometime before next Tuesday with more stuff.

Love, Elder Bryant Woolsey

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hold on...

Ok, so I actually had an extra second to write.  I love you guys very much, and I miss youp, but I've already gone over my time by a minute.  I apologize for the abruptness of the email, but it's all I have.  Please ask loads of questions, it would help to narrow what I have to write about.  Thanks guys!

Finally Here!! DUM DUM DUM!!

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,
       I bet at some point in the last couple of days, you questioned whether or not you were ever going to hear from me or not.  Well here I am.  I'm alive, I am well, and the church is true.  There have been so many things that have happened over the course of the last week that it's difficult to explain them all in one email.  I would like to preface this email with a couple of key notes:  first is that I only have thirty minutes to write, so I apologize for any lack of description there may appear to be.  I'll do my best.  Also, I may mention very personal, spiritual experiences that I have had, but I feel that I cannot go into great detail over email for the format would be inappropriate.
      So...I suppose that I'll start at the beginning (as dad has told me before).  After you guys dropped me off, I was met with a whirlwind of events.  People were handing me things, taking things, taking pictures of me, calling me "Elder."  It was all very surreal.  Following the initial rush, I was placed in a classroom with four other young men (one of which was my companion, Elder Neil), and two young ladies.  I later found out that this is my district.  Anyway....I sat down and the teacher, Brother Liu, looked at me and, from what I could ascertain, said something to the effect of ahj sdlkjf dlkfjalsdkjf zxsdkfjl asdkj adslfkjal;sdkfjlakkd weoiruokmck somciek iockslkdj opskciekkcd dkls dlkcidkikdc dkdkdkpd civjklajkl asdfjkl;jkl; sdklc nalksjdtf.  I think that's about right.  Needless to say, he was speaking Mandarin Chinese, and I hadn't a clue what was going on.  It turns out that about half the class has had Chinese before in High School or some derivative of High School (I say derivative because one sister is from Australia (Sister Mitchell), the other is from Mexico (Sister Ochoa, who speaks English and Spanish impeccably), one Elder from the U.K. (Elder Chan...don't be deceived by the name, he is very British although his parents are Cantonese), and two Elders from Canada (one is French and the other is from Canada proper, both are fluent in French and English and are going to a Mandarin speaking French mission).  Pretty cool so far. you may be wondering, I see Elder Taylor EVERYWHERE.  He is not my companion, but we are in the same branch and he lives two rooms over from me.  We talk all the time.  It's great.  The food is AWFUL.  Occasionally there will be a half-decent meal, but they are few and far between.  The second day, my cold made a viscious comeback.  I was very very sick, but I didn't tell anyone and I powered through it.  That aside, my companion....didn't seem to like me very much.  He tended to walk off (when, as you know, we are supposed to stay together), and doesn't talk much, although it has nothing to do with being socially incapable.  At the end of the day, I was sort of hating it all.  It was so hard.  I knew that there would be days like that in the MTC, but I hadn't a clue that they would come so early.  In many ways, I wanted to come home.  I had to ask myself why I was here, and once I remembered, I didn't want to leave at all.  Now, I realize that I'm not making it sound very appealing, but I honestly love it here.  I wouldn't go home if the prophet told me today that I had a choice to, and that if I did, I would be honorably discharged.  I have had some of the most profound spiritual experiences ever.  I finally understand better how to recognize the spirit (I listened to the GREATEST devotional ever on it by Elder Bednar), and how to get answers to my prayers.  Elder Bednar essentially said to stop worrying about seeking out the "feeling" of the spirit.  If you are good, you are being guided already.  The Holy Ghost is guiding you every day to make decisions that you don't even realize are promptings from the Holy Ghost.  Not because you are incapable of recognizing them, but rather because there's not really much to recognize.  He gave very intense examples of this and it was glorious.  "All that is good comes from God." 
       On the third day, they had us teaching in Mandarin, and we teach an "investigator" nearly every day.  I can now bear a simple testimony in Mandarin, pray a simple prayer in Mandarin, discuss scriptures and other things as well.  "With the Lord, nothing is impossible."  And boy, ain't it true!?  The hand of the Lord is definitely playing a massive role in my learning of the language.  The grammar of Mandarin is simple, but all of the words look and sound the same, and the tones are killer.  My companion has taken a couple years of Chinese, and went to a Chinese summer camp where they only spoke Mandarin.  He is very talented and my crutch for the time being.  If you would like, I can write out some Mandarin in the next letter, but it's difficult to do on the computer. 
       The greatest thing that anyone had told me prior to coming out came from Eric.  That last night, as we went around the room, he told me to question myself as I faced situations where disobedience may occur, even if it be minor.  Because of Eric, I resolved early on to be strictly obedient and I have felt the blessings of the Lord pour out upon me for it.  I don't need to shave every night, but I do it anyway.  I don't need to read my white handbook for five minutes every day (because I've already read the entire thing), but I do it anyway.  I can go to bed early, but I choose not to, even when we finish class early, because that's not exactly what was asked of me.  I will obey.  I must obey.  The Lord has been answering my prayers nightly and I can honestly say that I feel the prayers of you guys as I learn and study.  Thank you.  I keep pushing myself, but it is hard.  Being on a mission is easily the most difficult thing that I have ever done in my entire life.  Harder than college.  Harder than High School A.P. classes.  You name it.  Those were childsplay.  It's easy to slack off here, but I may never have this opportunity again or at least for a very long time, so I will utilize it fully.  My time is almost up.  Shocking! I know!  I've included much, but not even close to everything.  I want my plaque scripture to be 1 Nephi 13:37.  This scripture has touched me profoundly and I will go into greater detail later.  "More Holiness Give Me" is now one of my favorite Hymns.  I will explain that later too.  I also have a testimony that my companion was given to me by God for a purpose and I love him.
Love, Elder Woolsey