Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving in Peanut Butter

DA JIA HAO!!!!!!!!!!

Wow!  What a week on both ends!  It sounds like so much has been going on at home and it's ridiculously exciting to hear about everything.  I know that typically I wait till the end to tell you the parts you really want to hear, but I'll toss you a bone right off the'S DAY.  My Mission President strictly adheres to the Missionary Handbook (which I actually love...but you may not in a second).  It states that calls must be limited to 30-40 minutes, which essentially means that I CANNOT go over that time.  In essence, the call will be brief.  Now for the good news!  Our Mission President gave us permission to SKYPE...if we can find a computer with the capability...which is surprisingly difficult here.  LUCKILY...the church here (for whatever reason) has the latest and greatest everything.  I need to take pictures of my ward building because it's the nicest I have ever seen....sorry about the off topic statement...anyway...a few lucky individuals work for the church here and work in our jiaotang (meeting house).  Their computers have the capacity to SKYPE, and we're really good friends with the man that works there (he's a convert who served a mission and speaks English).  So set up Mom's laptop to do it, because we'll be able to.  Now the calling time will probably be at 10:30a.m. Monday morning here in Taiwan, which means it will be 8:30p.m. Sunday night for you.  It may be forty minutes after that time depending on who goes first, but yeah, that's how that's going to work.  If you have anymore questions, please send them this way!  Also, please confirm everything I said.  I'm very excited!

Now I'll respond to the rest of the email.  The weather hasn't been that hot actually because it has been raining so A TON.  In fact it's raining buckets right now and I forgot my rain gear...YAY!  Haha!  It was bright and sunny when we left only an hour ago.  It's kinda bipolar like that.

I'M SO HAPPY ABOUT TYLER'S CALL!!!  THAT'S FANTASTIC!!  WHAT A STUD!!  That's so crazy that he's going to Nicaragua!!!  WOW!!  I can't wait to receive updates on how he's doing!  He'll be a great missionary!  I LOVE THE GOSPEL!!  I'm excited for him to go out and baptize the country!  Tell him I think he's incredible and that I'm ridiculously excited for him.

That stinks that the Suns are doing poorly.  :/  I'm going to miss Steve Nash.  I wish I could have seen his last game.  That would have been fun, but kinda surreal.  The Suns are a HUGE portion of my childhood.  It makes me think of Nate.  I bet he's tearing it up.  I sure miss that Elder!  I'm jealous that you ate at Jack in the Box!  Hao chi hao chi(good eating).  I could go for some American food right now in all honesty.  Haha!  Speaking of, expect a package from me in two weeks or so.  :D  I'm happy that Stake Conference went well.  :D  I'm also so happy that Eric is moving home. I miss him so very very much.  I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU GOT THE DAN JONES VIDEO!!  THAT'S AWESOME!!  I love it!!  HAHA!  I can't wait to see it when I get back.  I can't get on and watch it now.  That's buxing (not ok).  I looked SO FAT in that video, but I've lost 10-15 pounds at least so I look much thinner than that now.  I'm going to try to send a couple of pictures today.  

I'm happy that Mormons are in the news.  I love the idea of the church getting publicity.  It's a sign of the last days coming.  The church is becoming huge.  The mission had 73 baptisms.  I'm still waiting for my first, but we have this golden young man. He's nineteen and his name is Huang Zi Hao.  He calls us and asks us gospel questions and says he's praying for us and such.  He's our friend and he loves it.  It's only sad that the members aren't receiving him that well.  One night, we called him and he didn't answer (we do loads of follow-ups).  He called back later and said (in chinese), "sorry I didn't answer, I was PRAYING!!!  HAHAHA!!!!  How wonderful is this guy!  I bet he'll serve a mission.  He's incredible.  We're excited.  We have many who could be we're trying our best and following the spirit as much as possible.

Speaking of following the spirit, we had a really great experience while on District Leader exchanges.  I was riding with the District Leader to eat dinner and I got a feeling that I should talk to this one kid, but I just went past.  I caught up to Elder Oakman and asked if we could go back to talk to him, but he said our time was running out.  He's like if you REALLY REALLY REALLY feel like we need to, we can, but he wasn't wanting to.  I told him that we needed to and we went back and talked to him.  I asked if we could meet with him sometime, and he was like sure!  Right now!  Follow me to my house!  We went to their really nice house and met with the entire family!  We walked in and they asked if we wanted something to drink.  We're usually afraid of this question because it's often tea....but it was dong gua cha (cha is tea, but this is a winter melon tea which is pretty much the only tea we can drink here and it's yummy and sweet).  What a joy!  Then we taught a watered down version of the first lesson and the whole family (except the dad) knelt in prayer!  It was incredible!  The only sad thing is that they are not in my area so I may never see them again unless the other Elders get them to church.

My apartment is...ok.  Nowhere near as nice as the one at BYU.  It's very hai hao (ok).  It's technically a house, but it comfortably fits two people and we have four....yeah...and it's always messy and we get cockroaches and such.  I love the work too much to care, but mom would be pretty upset if she had to stay there I think.  I'm not sure what you mean by good area.  If you mean looks, all of the houses are hideous on the outside by my standard, they're all close together and it doesn't make much sense.  All of Taiwan is beautiful though which is nice.  SO GREEN!  If she meant crime, then that's never a problem.  Supposedly stealing doesn't happen here and if it doesn’t everyone knows who the robbers that's nice I guess.  I'm still losing weight, yes.  And supposedly with Summer coming, it's going to get more intense.  I need to lose weight anyway, so meiyou wenti.  By the way, I was thinking yesterday or this morning that I wouldn't mind trying to bike with Dad a bit when I get back.  I'll have biked a lot so my butt will be ready.  I just will need the further conditioning and riding up hills.  We only have a few of those here and they kick my butt.  

We don't really have fun on preparation day because there's no time.  We have stuff we need to get done like emails and shopping and because my emails are so long it takes a long time.  It's really hard to find extra time.  We take some dorky pictures and sometimes we shoot the whole day in the foot like the Zone Activity, but it's worth it.

I just want to say that Mom's words of wisdom were exactly what I needed to hear.  I've been stressing because I haven't been doing enough, but it really calmed me.  I am so appreciative of a spiritually in-tuned mother who is concerned enough for me to think of me and try to help regardless of the distance.  It's inspiring and I greatly appreciate it.  Seriously, perfect.  An answered prayer.  

Dad said something that I've been thinking about a lot.  He said something along the lines of saying that it must be great to represent the Savior, and Dad, it is.  I get to be his mouth, hands, and feet for two years.  It's not much because of what He did for us, but it's all he asks for and I want to do what He asks me to do.  It's not Jesus Christ here, it's Yesu Jidu, but it doesn't matter, He's the same man, the same sacrifice, and everyone has the same need.  They must here this message.  It's so true.  I have ZERO doubt.  I've seen too many miracles to doubt.  I've read too many scriptures to doubt.  I've felt too many promptings to doubt.  I hope that you all know how much I love this gospel now.  It took until I served a mission to fully realize this about the gospel.  If there's something you guys are not living fully, please change it now.  I doubt there is, but the Lord is waiting to bless you more for whatever thing that is, but literally CAN NOT until you submit fully to him.  I'm happy to say that I'm not the same person.  I hope that you can see that in my emails.  I don't want to act like any of these things come from me, because they don't.  I'm trying to boast of my God right now like Ammon.  I really love it.  I will weep when I leave.  

Now for a few more things.  We helped a family move on Sunday from a home into a factory (which was kinda sad, but they did it because they had to).  I just wanted to say that they work in a SRAM RED factory.  I thought it was ironic.  They make loads of their products by hand.  They make planet X racing tires and I don't know what else, but I thought Dad might get a kick out of that.  We see that A TON here.  Tons of factories or ladies in their home packaging boxes with things to be sent to America that say "made in taiwan on them."  

I tore the skin off of the top of my foot this week.  I scratched it and because of the heat and stuff the skin healed to the sock and I literally ripped the skin on the top of my foot off.  It hurt really really bad for about three days.  It's fineish now. :D  Like I said, we've seen many miracles.  Whenever we are ridiculously tired, we get rides somehow.  Whenever we are starving, members feed us (like the other night with DOMINOS PIZZA!!!).  As long as we're doing everything, the Lord has been stepping in to help us.  It's crazy.  

I want to apologize to Dad about something.  Remember when you were frustrated because of my seminary attendance?  I'm really sorry about that.  You were trying to raise me more fully in the gospel and I wasn't thinking about it enough.  I didn't care enough.  I do now, but I just want to say that I'm really sorry for that.  I was a dumb teenager then and I would like to think that I'm less of one now.  

I really love you all and miss you heaps.  I can't wait to see and hear you all in two weeks.  This mission has become everything to me.  I love the gospel more than I ever knew I could and I'm feeling the spirit more than ever as well.  I want this forever.  I just want to leave this mission with these principles so deep inside me that they can never leave and if the Lord needs an errand run he can ask me to run it for Him.  I may sound like a silly missionary, but I'm serious.  This is more important than anything in this life and I know it is.  It's so obvious now.  I feel like someone took a bag off of my head and I can see now.  I'm working hard, and I'm still trying to improve.  I love you all.  May the odds ever be in YOUR favor.  ;)

-Elder Bryant Woolsey

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Little goldens all around us"

Dajia hao!

I appreciate the letter this week.  It was very detailed.  :)  I always look forward to these emails because I don't get the chance to get much other mail anymore.  I have received one letter from a sister in the Taibei mission, but I don't plan to read it until I write her and tell her that I can't write her anymore (it's sort of a mission rule, I just want to go above and beyond).  I just want you to know that it means the world to me.  You are all the best.  Thank you for your prayers.  I don't know how to describe it, but being a missionary....I just know I'm safe.  I don't worry about anything as long as I'm obedient and being smart.  I just expect people to accept our message's true!  And they've all heard it before!  Even if they are fojiao (buddhist). ;) I have more time to write today so I'll do my best to really include a lot.

So I have a funny story before I get to into answering your email.  So do you remember the drunk man we met with?  Well he now has a baptismal date and had an INCREDIBLE DREAM.  But let me get to the first part.  So we went to his home and asked him if he wanted to take a tour of the church. He said he did so he hopped on his bike instead of his scooter to be "like us" and we set out.  It's like a twenty minute ride one way or so so we thought we could make it there and back quickly.  Well....he was drunk tonight too of course, and he's very unhealthy to boot.  We got about half way, and he stopped saying, xiuxi yi xia (I don't really know how to translate this directly, but it's like...let's take a break for a second).  Well we were riding and Xiuxi yi xia(ing) constantly.  As we were doing that, dad's addage from pre-mission came to mind and it was PERFECT.  Whenever dad saw people doing bad things, he would say something along the lines of, they just need to get a bike. was this drunk man trying to turn his life around...RIDING A BIKE!!  It was perfect.  And after having ridden ALL THE TIME lately, it was so perfect and I appreciated it a lot more. Hilarious.  I just thought dad would appreciate that story.  That night he set a baptismal date.  The next day he told us that he had a dream.  He was in heaven and he was very afraid (he never said why but probably because of his sins), then Jesus Christ appeared (realize that this man is VERY FOJIAO) and told him not to be scared, and then he wasn't anymore.  Also, he said that he thought that this meant that Christ was satisfied with his xili mubiao (baptismal goal).  Cool huh?

You may want to write a little earlier from now on. Like only an hour.  I got on really close to when you sent it, but I wrote Eric first so it was ok.  Meiyou wenti ke shi ni yingai xuyao (no problem but you probably should).  That's my goal on my mission, to become permanently changed for the better.  I never want to leave. 

You guys sounds like you're exercising up a storm!  Congrats! Keep it up!  Wanna know something funny?  When I return, I will likely have ridden more consecutive days in the last two years than Dad!!  HAHA!  I say this because we ALWAYS ride on Sundays as well and Dad rarely does (unless it's leisurely).  My butt always hurts, but my quads are in the most pain.  It just hasn't gone away.  They're ALWAYS sore.  I don't know what to do except keep pressing on.  I'll add your advice about the bike height and such.  The Azurri is cool.  It has the church's name on it and stuff and that I'm a missionary.  Pretty slick.  It's a real trip.  I wish I could keep it after my mission.

Some days here are pretty cool (days in which it rains), but mostly it's ridiculously hot and I sweat like Shaquille O'Neal.  HAHA!  Seriously though, I do.  I didn't think I was much of a sweater....  When it pours.  I'm not excited for the rain and summer seasons (just around the corner).  It's great though.  I'm always tired.
So let's see.  I'm area is called Shalu, but it includes Longjing, Dadu, and Wuqi.  It's huge!  I'm always sore from all of the riding.  It's kind of like a combination of cities and rural areas.  There are loads of rice fields, but they're not that big.  There's this hospital here which is off the charts nice.  It's huge and has a giant expensive restaurant at the top.  Pretty cool.  It's kind of our landmarker.  I went on Zone Leader exchanges this week in Tanzi.  It's a much more urban area.  More polution.  The pollution is really really bad here.  The people are nice here.  They're very patient, but that doesn't necessarily mean receptive.  Supposedly they're less nice up here in the north, but oh well.  Many will listen, but's hard.  Many offer food and none insult you, they just say buyong (no need) or meiyou kong (this is hard to translate but it's like they don't have time plus they don't have interest).  I don't like hearing that.  President David O. McKay gave a dedicatory prayer in China that we were all given when we got here.  It asks Heavenly Father to raise a receptive, righteous generation.  I honestly believe it's like everyone 30 and younger.  They will almost always listen to you.  Many are fojiao here and if you ask why, they say tradition.  They don't know why they do it, they just do it.  Also, sometimes it feels like we're in a competition with the Jehovah's Witness missionaries.  We see they're proselyting materials all the time.  The Taiwanese seem to like us much more though.  We set up with a member of their faith though which is really rare.  Supposedly they use scare tactics to restrict hearing other religions.

Tell Eric that in the apartment we speak a lot of Chinese and a lot of English.  Probably mostly Chinglish, but yeah...

The food is good and bad.  I'm already a little tired of some of it.  A lot tastes the same.  :/  We've eaten at McDonald's once.  My companion doesn't like it and it's like twice as expensive as anywhere else.  You can get a full meal here for 50 kuai ( less than two dollars).  At McDonald's, if you get a drink it's like 120ish kuai ($4).  Still cheaper than America, but yeah.

I likely won't get to skype, but we're going to call President Bishop about it soon.  We'll probably only have forty minutes to chat which is hardly anything but supposedly the rules change all the time here so sometime in the next two weeks we'll find out when we get to call.

My companion has taught me a ton of Chinese.  I ting de dong (hear to the point of understanding) most of what he says, but he's taught me useful phrases and things.  He's very helpful.  Matt is not in my Zone, so although we had Zone Conference on Tuesday with three Zones, he was not there.  He's WAAY south.  He went to the southern tip and I went to the northern tip (of the mission).  Kinda funny.  :P  I did get to see Elder Chan though!!  :D 

I've lost a lot of weight. From the sweat and the constant exercise I've dropped like ten pounds.  It's nuts.  It keeps dropping too.  Supposedly Summer accelerates that weight loss too, so we'll see how that goes.
Now, I want you to know how much I love you all.  It makes me sad when I see so many families without the gospel, or even part member families.  It makes me realize how fortunate I am and how important that temple marriage is.  Be grateful that you have this church.  I just want to help people, but it's not me who can change these people.  I love this work.  It's our Heavenly Father's work.  He loves us.  He gave us this gospel because it's the ONLY way (2 Nephi 31:21).  If there was another, easier way, we would have it.  But this is it.  It pains my soul to see people turn down our message, because I think of what they're turning down each time.  But then I linger on the hope that perhaps tomorrow they'll accept eternal salvation.

Love, your son, Bry.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Drunkards, Baptisms, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Dajia hao!!

HELLO HELLO!!  How is everyone??  I unfortunately don't have loads of time due to the Zone activity that we had today, but I'll get to that in a bit, because it was tai hao le!  I'll begin again by answering your email and such.

My companion is from California.  He's awesome!  He really is working hard to be a great missionaries and he loves the Lord.  He's a great example and he loves me and this gospel so much that his goal is to make me a better missionary than he is.  That's so selfless!  Especially considering that he's so good already!  I'm jealous of spring.  It's raining right now.  I've gotten a little sunburned as well.  It's SOOO HOT!  Sometimes, it's even night time, and I'm literally soaked with sweat.  

The food is good if you get the right thing.  I've eaten loads of duck and other things.  Asparagus juice is gross by the way.  The mian (noodles) is awesome!  It's my favorite right now.  I have eaten at Mcdonalds already, but it's a funny story.  So we contacted this guy and his girlfriend and asked if we could join them for dinner to discuss our religion.  We ended up going to McDonalds, and while we were ordering their food, they LITERALLY ran out the door.  It was hilarious, but sad.  My companion bought apple pies for everyone too, so he was stuck with four apple pies.  HAHAHA!  Sad, but funny.  My butt and legs always hurt, but I'm getting used to it.  We ride a ton.  Some days we ride....I don't know how far, but at least 50 miles.  It's kinda nuts.  I would LOVE AMERICAN FOODS AND SNACKS in the care package and a FAMILY PHOTO (PLEASE LAMINATE IT), and anything else you wish to send.  DO NOT SEND BEEF JERKEY, NUTS, or PLANTS of ANYKIND.  They won't get through customs!  Snacks and things are fine!  So no nuts or jerky.  The stuff can have nuts in it probably, but no packaged nuts.  The language is going surprisingly well.  I can ting de dong a lot of what is said, but it's still hard to speak sometimes and say what i want to say.  I can now turn on my Chinese brain, but it's limited if that makes sense.  Translating from English to Chinese produces better Chinese, but it's depending on the situation, I can speak better Chinese or simple fast Chinese.  Contacting I need the latter.  Lessons are often the earlier.  I just need to keep studying!  I've almost passed off the first part of Phase 1 (which is a language study thing) which is good.  Most people don't finish in the first move call, but I'm really trying to do that!  The ward is pretty good.  We get about 90ish a week.  There's only one ward in the building, but the meeting houses are HUGE and REALLY NICE.  Like zhende.  Our numbers are down, and we need to raise them.  We couldn't get ANYONE of our recent converts, investigators, or less actives to church.  It was a terrible Sunday, but jiayou!  We'll just work harder.  I ton of them have Buddhism problems.  They think all religions are the same and all worship the same god and it doesn't matter.  That's hard.  We tell them to pray and ask him for themselves, but oftentimes they say it doesn't matter.  We try to testify and let the spirit talk instead of us.  It works once we've done everything we can do.  My flat is alright.  It's big compared to most supposedly, but there are a lot of stairs and no room.  No where to sit and eat and we have cockroaches pretty often.  Not to mention Mosquitos.  It's crazy.  It's fine though.  The AC in our room works well.  I usually wake up cold.
I actually only have three minutes left and I haven't told any cool experiences, but we had a guy who told us he thought our message was true after the first lesson (he came to general conference randomly).  Then after, he told us he got an answer.  Then on Sunday someone answered is phone and said he was zhanglaojiao which is Protestant.  Super weird.  We need to get a hold of him.  We also met a funny drunk man, and other drunk people who touched me because I was a waiguoren (foreigner/outsider).

So for the zone activity, we went to a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES PIZZA parlor.  IT WAS HILARIOUS!!  It was in Taizhong city.  SO SO FUNNY.  It actually tasted really good, but why was it even there!? They played American pop music and I felt apostate.  Haha!  Anyway, we're working really hard on this Wang family, but they told us that they can't accept the gospel because her husband's dad is a monk...apparently that leads to contention.  Also, we have two little kids lined up for baptism, I think I told you the associated MIRACLE.  If not, remind me. 

I really have to go.  I love you and miss you all.  ZAIJIAN.

-Wu Zhanglao

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elder Wu's First Email From Taiwan

Ni hao! Ni haoZhe shi Wu Zhanglao!

Oh! Dui bu qi, wo wangle, ni bu hui shuo Zhongwen.  Dui bu dui?  Hao...meiyou guanxiSuoyi, wo hui shuo Ingwen.  I forgot that you don't speak Chinese! Kaiwan xiaoHehehe....anyway....I'm alive!  Your son liveth!!  I have an eternity's worth of things to tell you!  Your email kind of asked about everything, so I'm going to start from when we got off of the phone to know and if I forget something that was in the email, I'll write about that afterward.  Hao bu hao?

So...the ten hour flight to Tokyo....ha ha ha!  SOO much fun!  Bu zhende.  It was...fine...for the most part.  So we got put into flight groups for each plane we were on and they didn't necessarily include our companions.  So, basically, I wasn't with my companion. :(  Instead, I got to sit with ELDER TAYLOR!!! :D For the long flight as well as the flight from Tokyo to Taibei.  That was awesome! 

So I got on the plane kind of late like I mentioned on the phone.  I then realized how strange it was to be a missionary because of how many people gave me very strange looks.  For example, one man, looked up at me and told me to pray for him, then the man next to him shook his had in a ludacrous (zenme shuo?) fashion.  It just seemed really strange to me how much people dislike me for what I'm doing and they don't even know me.  On top of that, the most surreal factor is that I carry our Lord Jesus Christ's name on my chest.  But, as I've been told, if it wasn't easy for Jesus Christ to spread His gospel, why should it be easy for me? 

Anyway, so I got on the plane late and I COULD NOT find a spot to put my bag.  A flight attendant came up to me and told me that I'd probably have to check it. :,(  Luckily I didn't have to, but we did have to put it in first class...meaning, I couldn't access it for eleven hours.  No snackages for me!  Ha ha!  It was actually ok.  Meiyou wenti!  Airplane food is pretty bad I've come to find out.  It's edible, but it was the peak of bad food I've had in the last three months.  I suppose the Lord wanted to "polish" me just a little bit more before coming to field.  I also sat with Sister Romanello, who is my old AP Physics teacher's daughter.  She is tai bang le, so that was sweet, but for whatever reason, during the flight, she switched out with Sister Ochoa (whose dad is Adrian Ochoa who spoke in the Priesthood Session).   The three of us (Elder Taylor, Sister Ochoa, and me) talked for hours straight which made the flight bearable. :D  There's not much else to say except that we sat RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION.  We could not be closer if we tried.  No one sat in front of us, it was just a giant television screen.  They showed X-Men, Ides of March, Mission Impossible 4, and Tower Heist.  All movies I would have totally watched had I not been a missionary.  That sure took will power. on the landing, I was writing in Elder Long's journal (we just did that kind of stuff toward the end with Elders and Sisters we really liked), and it made me ridiculously sick.  I turned white and was sweating like crazy. I almost lost it.  This set my feeling for the rest of the day (oh yeah, I only slept for thirty minutes).  Oh yeah, we also contacted a nice Taiwanese lady on the airplane who is totally golden.

In the airport, we talked to the lady again.  Luckily, I placed a "" card with her so she has the opportunity to learn more.  We didn't have time to do much else than go to the bathroom and talk to her.  We got onto the next plane (the 747) and left to Taiwan.  I sat next to Matt AGAIN! But we were both feeling very sick.  We got more food, but I just straight up couldn't eat it.  I really tried to sleep as much as possible but it was nigh impossible. Someone next to me was watching a really inappropriate movie to top it all off.  I was so miserable.

We landed in Taiwan and I felt like the Brother of Jared landing in the promised land after 344 days on a turbulent sea.  Yeah...then we helped that lady I mentioned get her luggage and got our own and then met the mission president.  By this point it's about 11:00p.m. Taiwan time.  I was pretty wiped out.  We said goodbye to our Taibei comrades and got on a bus for orientation for about two and a half hours.  We had to fill out a ton of information (which made me ridiculously motion sick again) and introduce ourselves.  The Assistants to the President were also there.  What stellar missionaries!  They're so wonderful!  The bus was hilarious when it pulled up.  It was a massively tall bus with colored lights and things.  I thought it was a joke at first!  Ha ha

We spent the night in an apartment (yes, all fifteen of us plus the two zone leaders in this area).  It was a tight fit, but we were all so tired that it was fine. :D  The next day began my first crazy day.  So we woke up and got ready, then met the President for breakfast.  We ate traditional Taiwanese food all day.  For breakfast we had some fried bread with some other bready stuff, soymilk (the Taiwanese don't eat or drink dairy products here much at all), and FRUIT.  The fruit!!  Seriously.  The pineapple nearly blew my socks off.  Wax apples.  Papaya.  Yellow Watermelon.  And something else.  So good.  Then we went to orientation for a while, then ate again.  We went to a place called the HOT POT.  It's cool. You basically get a pot full of hot broth and you pick whatever you want, as much as you want, and cook it in there, then you partake!  There were a lot of strange things, but I played it pretty safe.  I put pig belly, noodles, tons of veggies, an egg, and things like that in.  SO GOOD.  I also had these dumplings that make me want to do back flips they're soo good.  After that, I got to meet with President Bishop one on one.  He tried finding my poem that got published in Euphony, but he wasn't allowed access.  So I told him that I would ask you to send me a copy somehow (digitally preferably).  Please send it to me so I can proofread it! H aha!  He's an ENGLISH major!!  Ha ha!  He's an extremely intelligent man.  He really wants to help the people here.  He and his wife are very sweet and extremely spiritual.  They've lived devout lives.  I'm so grateful for them.  They're wonderful.  Let's see...after more orientation we went out to eat a multi-course meal.  There was Peking Duck, tortillas, lettuce wraps, more dumplings, and loads of other things. Some people ate the fish eyes, duck brains and the other nasty things.  I didn't want to try. They're all so good though!  ha ha!  Now....we get to the infamous "DAN JONES" experience.  Just as a background on him.  He is the missionary that Joseph Smith's last prophecy resulted in.  Joseph Smith said he would still see his native Wales and he did.  he served a mission there and baptized somewhere around 3500 people over two missions.  Anyway, he would tell towns in advance that he was on his way, then when he got there, he would stand on a box and cry repentance.  So....that's what we did.  We went to a night market (a very popular spot where you buy and eat a lot).  We sang "Love at Home" in Chinese, then bore our testimony on a box with a BOM in hand, then ran around with a temporary companion and contacted for an hour or so.  I was nervous, but it was actually a lot of fun.  A lot of people stood around and listened (many laughing).  Even President Bishop, his wife, and the assistants did it with us.  They're such great people!  I was It was wildly successful.  I don't remember how many contacts we got, but it was well over 150.  We reviewed the day, then went back to the sushe.  I tried writing in my journal but was so tired that I fell asleep in the process.

Now for two days ago.  We woke up and went to the church at the mission home. They fed us more breakfast.  This tortilla breakfast thing, a hamburger, and soymilk.  Very strange, but yummy.  Then we went into a meeting in which we were assigned our Trainers.  A random trainer was assigned to us for the time being during the training and information meeting.  We discussed the what, how, and why of missionary work.  Great lesson by President Bishop.  Following that we opened "Lucky Money" that told us who our companion would be.  I opened mine last with Elder Taylor and found out that my companion would be Elder Haag (pronounced hayg).  He is off the charts awesome!!!  I'm so happy to be with him.  He's really trying to teach me to "be a leader" and a "great missionary" he says.  I love him to death already.  He's very spiritual and everything.  I'll send pictures next week.  We then ate at TGI Fridays (which was weird for me).  It's a total crack up because of all of the American decor.  We then headed out to Shalu, which is where we are now serving.  It was about an hour by bus from Taizhong city.  It's the north west part of the mission by the coast.  We taught three lessons the very first night.  The work had really begun!  ha ha!  We taught an insurance agent first.  He loved to talk, which made it hard, because it's difficult to focus on the lesson.  He fed us hot water (they know we don't drink tea, but they always have hot water boiled for tea so that's what they give) with a plum seed inside.  So yummy actually.  He had just gotten back from Germany too so we had some cake things.  We taught him an unsuccessful lesson.  He has smoking and drinking addictions.  We also taught a family who was really receptive except for the main investigator who is an intellectual and doesn't understand why God won't just tell him that he is his Father (zai tianshang de fu).  His mom (who doesn't normally visit with us did and said she believed our words).  We then met with a recent convert who is Crazy solid.  He's going to go on a mission.  His mom who isn't also met with us when I asked her (she doesn't normally do that) and we got her to pray and supposedly she prayed again that night. No answer though.  The next day was general conference (again, I know, ha ha!).  It wasn't crazy productive, but we still managed a lesson with two kids.  This is where the first MAJORLY NOTICEABLE miracle happened (aside from those other two small ones I mentioned).  We were late because it took us two hours to get home from conference, so we had to cruise to get to our appointment.  I also had to get a helmet for my new bike (which somehow ended up being an Azzuri...oh well!).  We pulled out, already late, to grab a helmet and ride to our appointment (a forty minute venture that we were going to try to do in twenty.  Anyway, we left and my companion's tire was flat.  My butt hurt like CRAZY from the day before (P.S. All we do if it's not spiritual stuff and sleep is ride our bikes and sweat.  It's incredibly hot and I think the Lord is teaching me a lesson because of my attitude toward biking).  We ride for hours daily.  Our area is huge.  (We live with two other missionaries which isn't typical, but it's fine).  Like, my butt hurt so bad that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make it.  I was also incredibly sore.  We are servants of the Lord however, so we went on our way.  As we did so, a man pulled up from our ward!  Like instantly!  Asked what was going on.  We told him and also told him our peike fell through (member for lessons), and he was our peike and he gave us a ride in his car!!  There aren't many cars here!!  It was a miracle!  We also challenged them to baptism, they accepted, and their dad said it was Ok!!!

The next day we taught those kids twice more.  It was all awesome.  Anyway, now is preparation day and I really have to go.  I've wasted a lot of time.  Last thing is that the traffic is nuts.  If mom saw what we do daily she would freak out.  We just pull up to cars and bikes in the middle of the road and talk to them.  People just go around us and stuff.  It's...funny...

Anyway.  The church is ridiculously true.  I'm safe.  I'm happy.  And I love it.  I love you all so much.  Zaijian.

-Wu Zhanglao