Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baptism is Much Sweeter than being a District Leader!

Dajia hao!

Well, another week has come and gone.  It's the last week of the move-call with Elder Haag and this time next week, I'll likely have a new companion.  I'm not too excited about that prospect because Elder Haag is incredible.  He's extremely diligent and hard working.  He'll likely be an Assistant to the President by the end of the mission.  He may not.  Strictly speaking, I don't want him to be, because I think he's such a good trainer.  He really has done a TON to set me up for the rest of my mission.  I'm both excited and nervous to see who comes next and what they'll want to do.  I'll miss him a lot, but separation foster fond feelings.  It will be fun to see him at things like mission conferences and after the mission.

So this week it rained like you would not believe.  I imagine you will hear about Elder Taylor's experience shortly because supposedly in Pingdong (about where Elder Taylor is), the flooding was up to their knees.  I suppose you can't expect much else when a Typhoon hits.  This was a small one too.  Over here in Shalu, we just had winds.  These were unbelievable winds though.  When a gust came, you blew FAR away on your bike.  We luckily were teaching English that night so we didn't have much of a problem, but we biked for miles in the rain the day before.  It's really a lose lose though.  You wear the rain clothes not to get wet, but then it gets so hot inside that you sweat you end up wet anyway.  Either way you're soaked by the end of the day.  After the rain stopped, it got really hot again.  I'm kind of used to sweating like that.  Just imagine when we were in Florida X3.  Three times as humid, three times as hot.  I have tan lines now and my companion still says summer hasn't come yet (then again he was in the south before which is supposedly much hotter and wetter).  Utah still sounds crazy hot though.  I bet I would burn more in Utah because of the atmosphere and lack of humidity.

We had miracle after miracle this week.  During the typhoon we had a lesson at the church.  When we showed up, President Bishop was there for some reason!  Luckily for us we taught our investigator the last of the things he needed to know and got him into a baptismal interview with President Bishop.  He passed! The cool thing is that he would have needed a second interview (after one with the District Leader) from a mission presidency member (you can ask Eric why someone would need one) but we did two for one right there.  It was a miracle for sure.  There truly are no coincidences in this life.  Even Thomas S. Monson doesn't believe in coincidences.  There were others that would be difficult to describe right now.

When you send that package, I would love some pictures of you all!  I would also (if it's not a burden) love The Essential Missionary Collection CD (it has songs like 2. Redeemer 4.Savior, Redeemer of Mankind 14. A Poor Wayfaring man of Grief (by John Schmidt) 15. I Believe in Christ (by Eclipse)).  That should be enough information to locate it.  It's crazy good.  I would also invite you to listen to Savior, Redeemer of Mankind (that name may be slightly wrong).  It is incredibly good.  That poem would also be much appreciated!  I love you!!
I can't believe all of the changes.  I'm going to get home and everything is going to look and feel and sound and taste so different.  I'm scared!  You say nothing is happening, but from my perspective everything is different!  It sounds fun though!

I'm so happy that Eric is having a good birthday week.  I have a package to send him, but I need to take out some money to do it and it's not quite prepared yet.  Birthdays are a lot of fun.  I hope everything is going well with everyone there. 

It's sad to hear about grandpa.  I felt beaten-up after I heard about Grandpa Wilkes.  I don't know why the Lord decided to wait until now to have all of this happen, but I know it's for a divine purpose.  I hope you're all doing well considering.  I'll pray on his behalf, but I remember a talk about prayers having so much power that they can slow down the death of a loved one...which may not be the Lord's will.  I'm going to pray for the Lord's will, even if it's not what I think I want.  I would love a copy of that picture of me and grandpa actually.

I'm glad that Tyler is excited.  By the time he leaves Elder Taylor and I will have been out for over six months and Elder Jensen for about a year.  That's crazy.  In mission life, that's huge.  It's hard to explain, but it's huge.  I hope he's doing well. 

Just remember to read your scriptures (alone and as a family) just as diligently.  I promise that as you do so, the windows of heaven really will poor out upon you and you will feel the love of the Savior more in your lives.  Succumb to the will of the Lord and allow yourself to be an instrument in His hands.  The purpose of the Atonement is to become more than we could ever be in every facet of life.  You will bike faster, work harder, everything.  As you make and hit goals, the same will occur.  I also invite you all to help out the missionaries at least once in the coming month.  Give them a referral.  Feed them.  Compliment their efforts.  Offer to drive them around.  Be a peike (member assisted lesson-person).  There are loads of ways to help further this work.  Please choose one and go and do!  I'll probably follow up with this in the not-too-distant future.


The basketball results make me sad.  That's really disappointing. 

Thanks again, Mom.  You somehow discovered exactly what to say...again.  It was perfect.  Elder Haag and I yesterday started talking about post mission life (which carried over into today a bit).  Somehow, you keep answering prayers and keep me focused.  Although the words were simple and clear, they were eloquent and kind.  Thank you.  I'm really working hard, but I need to keep pushing myself.  I cannot let myself be satisfied with anything.

This work is true.  It literally does not make sense how it couldn't be anymore.  I can't even describe it fully.  It's wonderful.  I wish you all could feel this way.  Please ask questions if there's ever anything you would like to know.  Keep it up.  Thank you for the support.

-Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rain and Broken Records

Mom, Dad, and Eric

     Well, where to begin?  There's so much to address and yet so little at the same time.  I'll start on my end again this week.  It has been raining buckets and today it is flat hot.  This week has been all about rain.  It's difficult to get some one's information when it is raining like you would not believe.  Our contact cards get soaked and so do our church tracts.  It's a little bit of a nightmare to be honest, but the blessings that follow are huge.  My companion says Summer is coming and we haven't even brushed the surface yet.  Supposedly it rains longer and harder and the it's incredibly hot when the sun is out.  I personally think today is really hot, but you know...what do I know? 

     This week, my companion and I got into a biking accident together.  Sound familiar?  Anyway, I was riding along and I saw a family that I really wanted to talk to so I hit my breaks and began turning around (I was leading). turns out that my companion was looking at the same family and had the same idea in mind.  Unfortunately, he was looking for a bit longer than he should have and I saw him flying toward me as I began to turn.  He ran into me and flew off of his bike (rolling two to three times before stopping).  That aside, his bike is super busted up.  He's totally fine (thanks to tender mercies of the Lord), but his bike took quite the beating.  The back part of the frame snapped off from the tire portion.  I didn't fall for some miraculous reason.

    Also, last week during English, my contacts finally started acting up.  I left my contact in even though it was hurting like crazy because I had no place to put it (big mistake).  My eye got really red and a headache ensued.  The next morning my eye was huge.  It hurt really bad and I couldn't open it to save my life.  Everything was a little fuzzy when I looked out of it.  I don't tell you this to get you worried, but I tell you this because it turned out to be a miracle.  My eye looked freaky and I had plans to go to the doctor.  At this time I was extremely humbled.  I went upstairs after the others made comments and took pictures and just began to pray.  I basically told the Lord that I was going to work harder and be smarter for the rest of the mission if He would just help me (it hurt and looked that bad).  Within the next two hours the swelling reduced completely and I could open my eye almost entirely.  I could see just fine as well.  By the next day it was fine.  I don't know why the Lord decided to bless me at that time, but I know that that's exactly what it was.  This may not seem like a miracle, but the Lord healed me.  I've been wearing glasses ever since because I'm a little afraid to try them again, but I really received a miracle.

    Another cool story:  Last week, while on exchanges, we met an American.  She saw my District Leader and me eating dinner on the side of the road and practically tripped over herself seeing us there.  She asked all about us and we shared the message of the Restoration with her.  She agreed to meet with us again.  We got her and English Book of Mormon and Bible and in the pouring rain we met with her again on Thursday.  Her first question was: "Was he really a polygamist?...ya know, your founder?" It was a rough start but it got so much better so quickly.  At the end, I bore testimony about how if she just tries she will know that what we said is true.  She paused for a really long time and said..."I'm kind of afraid that this is true.  Because if this is true, this changes everything."  The spirit was so strong.  It made me want to be an English-speaking missionary.  Then she told us that she was getting surgery done this make a long story short, we made plans to visit her (without her knowing) after her surgery.  We went to the only hospital we knew of (it's HUGE and obvious, therefore the only one we know of) and checked the database for her.  It turns out that she was there.  We went upstairs to see her and a nurse comes out and asks us to translate for her (because the nurse didn't speak English).  We said we could (we had a sneaking suspicion that it was her).  We entered the room and she was shocked.  She told us that she doesn't have any friends in Taiwan because no one speaks English (she doesn't speak a lick of Chinese) and said that when she signed the form asking if she wanted visitors she checked yes for some reason she didn't know.  She thought that our being there was a miracle and asked us to pray with her.  We brought her chocolate and pineapple and left.  It really was a miracle.

     The mission is full of these sorts of miracles.  To top it all off, Elder Haag and I (that day we went to the hospital) had ten lessons in one day and 35 lessons total this week (which is huge.  We broke Elder Haag's personal record).  He and I are seeing a lot of success, but not any baptisms yet....BUT....our golden investigator passed her baptismal interview!!  She just needs permission from her husband which shouldn't be...too hard...he's close to a baptismal goal himself.  If you could experience these things for yourself it would become impossible for you to deny the faith.
     That Snow White movies doesn't sound like it was very good although Thor is the man (he plays Captain Kurk's Dad in the new Star Trek ya know!)  Brave I bet will be good.  I would like to hear about that.  Batman and Spiderman sound like a lot of fun too.  I see ads all the time for Spiderman (I did for Avengers as well).  I've seen pieces of trailers on accident and it takes incredible willpower (only that of a missionary) to pull away right away.  It's so tempting, but I'm not about to waste my time or lose focus for a second.

     Happy Father's Day, Dad.  You're the greatest Father that a son could have.  I just wrote a card, but I want you to know that you mean everything to me and I will follow your incredible example forever.  Thank you for lifting me up so that I could get to this point.  I just hope you know that you mean everything to your son.

     With regards to the NBA.  13th pick is OK.  It's not great, but they could get a decent pick out of it.  They need to start trading and rebuilding is what they need to do.  Perhaps vie for a higher pick.  Go OKC!

     Care package...hmm...send food!  None of the boxes were opened at all.  I would suggest hiding money in package somehow.  Like slipping it in cracks or something, I don't know.  They just open the box and search it then resend it.  The box itself looks like a nightmare once I get it.  I still need deodorant, hair stuff, that poem (Someone's wish came true or whatever it's called), a nice letter from someone, a new tie or two would be great.  I don't care if the time comes from the bargain bin at Wal-Mart as long as it looks alright.  I just need some more variety.  I have hardly any ties and that's the only variety in my outfit that I get.  Maybe a pair of garments or a white shirt (if they're not expensive, if there's room, and if it's not too big of a deal because I don't NEED one).  Pictures would still be wonderful because the Taiwanese love them.  I'm not entirely sure what else.  I actually found deodorant this last week at this weirdo store for the first time, but it was TINY, like a travel sized one and it cost me over four dollars (which is a TON in Taiwanese terms).  It would have been a ton if it were a full stick.  I'm not sure.  Whatever you send will be lovely of course and I don't want to inconvenience you that much because I know it's super expensive.

     Of course I haven't mastered the language yet.  I want to see the person who mastered Chinese in five months.  I'll send a picture of my flashcards today.  I'm still working on it.  I can read whole passages from the Book of Mormon in characters.  That's still improving.  I can get along pretty well, but it's still a process.  Heavenly Father helps a ton.  If you want, in December, I can speak in Chinese for you.  You'll have to remind me however.

     This church is incredibly true.  I love my family and I love this gospel.  Thank you all for being an inspiration for me.  It drives me to work harder than ever.  I love you all. You should invite the missionaries over sometime. 

- Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Dear Familia!

Things are going great here in Taiwan!  It was very hot this last week and a was cooked like bacon.  Luckily for me I'm getting tanner and tanner. The Mission President told us that loads of rain is forecast and we should expect a lot of flooding coupled with a lot of opportunities to clean up the mess left behind.  Should be fun.  I'm glad I bought my rain clothes last week!

Response to your email:

It sounds like everything is going very well at home.  Basketball sounds very exciting.  I hope you're rooting for the Thunder.  Hey, Dad, how good of a basketball player is the New York Knick's Jeremy Lin?  He's incredibly popular here.  Basketball is the thing to do, but the great portion of Taiwanese aren't very good at it and aren't very athletic.  I just wanted to know if it's just a Taiwan thing or if he's actually pretty good.

 Batman sounds great.  I would love to see it.  I do have to say that what I'm doing here is much more fun and eternally more rewarding, but ya know....he is the Dark Knight...  I'm surprised by how they ended HOUSE.  I suppose they were going for the whole ironic approach with Wilson and honestly it's not very emotionally satisfying....House never changed...kind of pointless...  Also, Glee does sound really lame once it's written.  I have a feeling that my taste in entertainment will change dramatically when I return home.

Scout camp sounds fun and messy.  I'm glad that you had that opportunity to render service.  I bet it felt so good when everything was all over.  You two are such incredible parents and outstanding members of the church.

I bet Tyler is bouncing off the walls.  If you could, please tell him that if he has anything he needs from me that could help, to ask.  He's so great.

Nate doing well doesn't surprise me in the least.  I bet he's tearing it up in Russia.  The mission is what you make of it completely. If you literally turn your life over to the Lord you will see success.  You will be tired, but you will change, you will grow, and you will help many come unto Christ.  I'm really striving right now to turn myself over and if there's one thing I've learned, it takes more than one day to do it.  This is one of my main focuses. I want to make changes and decisions now that will define who I will be when I return and forever.

I want to ask a question.  If I return, and I'm really strict about what I watch, how I observe the Sabbath, and my interests, what I eat, my opinions, etc. what will you all think?  Will you support my decision even if you think it's silly?  I would love to hear what you think, because I know that coming home will be the hardest part of this experience.  I know it's going to be hard being thrust back into the real world of television, sports, friends, music, family, etc.  I would love a fully honest answer to this question.

I want to be able to collapse into the arms of my parents at the end of two years with smiles and tears knowing that I did everything I could do to serve the Lord.  That I changed.  This is one of the visions that drives my missionary work.  This time is short.  I'm not here to rest.  I'm here to work. 

Thank you for supporting me.  I know you can't be here now, but this time apart is so short.  I'm 20ish% done (which hurts to think about), and it has only felt like a moment.  Know I'm OK. Know I'm working hard.  Know I love you.  This is His work and I'm going to do everything I can to please Him.

Your son and brother,

Elder Woolsey

Monday, June 4, 2012

Free Salvation! Who wants?

Dajia hao!

I don't want this to sound like I'm starting off this email on a bad foot, but I think I've figured out the only thing in mission-life that bothers me.  We ride around daily, sharing a message that means literally EVERYTHING and so many people won't accept.  Buyong xie xie (no need/use, thank you).  Meiyou kong (no time/interest).  Wo shi bai bai (I worship my ancestors).  What's the worst part is that if you ask them why they believe they usually don't have an answer (not that that's the best tactic, don't worry I'm not being impatient).  It doesn't make me mad, it makes me sad.  Sometimes, while I'm talking to these people, my heart sinks into my stomach.  I feel like I'm pleading with them to take something that they should be pleading with me to tell them more about.  This gospel is so ridiculously true it hurts.  It boggles my mind how people can reject it.  I spend so much time on my knees crying to heavenly father to help these people because they don't know what they're rejecting.  This is everything. Everything.  I wish that their minds could be opened for a second so that they could have a taste of the joy and desire that I have with regards to this gospel.  I see families at church and NOTHING makes me happier now.  I'm serious.  To see a family raised in the church is like seeing a beautiful cake and a tall glass of cold milk after a year long fast.  I can't describe it.  These children are going to grow up knowing who God is and where they come from.  They'll have purpose.  They'll have salvation in the Kingdom of God, where mansions are being prepared and eternity awaits.  I often reflect on how lucky I am to have been raised in the gospel.  I think of how the Lord, for reasons I still can't comprehend, plucked our family from the brink of tyranny, ignorance, and worthlessness to enlighten our minds with the glory of Him who is mighty to save.  I've never felt such a burning desire in my entire life.  Mom, Dad, Eric, if there's something that you're doing or not doing that you feel is not in harmony with the Savior and his teachings, please change it, because this is life eternal, to know Him, to know Jesus Christ.  I don't know how I stood idly by and watched friends like Thai go by without sharing this beautiful message with them.  How ignorant I was!  How poor and selfish my ways were!  I just want to be clean and pure and work hard so that others can come unto Christ.  I haven't seen any baptisms yet, and I blame myself.  We've had nine goals this week and they've been falling off one by one.  We're down to six.  These people don't realize what this is.  They don't understand that after this, if they didn't accept this message, they don't have anything.  We can be with our families forever!!  We can live with God and learn from the Master of all righteousness for eternity!!  We have unfathomable blessings waiting in story if we will just do what He, the Creator of the earth and all things that in them are, asks us to do.  He asks us to read, pray, go to church, give him a little money, and be healthy.  These aren't sacrifices!  He's asking us to do what we should be desiring to do anyway just so that he can BLESS US EVEN MORE!!!  This is what races through my mind when a man, smoking a cigarette, chewing binglang (a plant like tobacco that stains your teeth red and is highly addictive), on his scooter in the middle of the street, on a blazing hot, humid day in Shalu says "Buyong. Xie xie."

I don't know why I was so lucky.

Anyway, back to your email.  The weather here actually hasn't been awful as of late.  A lot of cloud cover.  I'm getting tan (as tan as I can get OK.... ;) )  I'm still the whitest thing ever here in Taiwan.  The Taiwanese think really, really white is beautiful.  They also think my eyes are incredibly special.  I've had people ride up on their scooters just to touch me.  It's really strange.  Haha
I'm happy that you enjoyed my package.  I'll send off another one soon for Eric, but then that will probably be it until Christmas honestly.  It ate all my money. :P  That being said, I will send a card for Mom on her birthday and for you all on your anniversary and the package will include Christmas, and mom's birthday when it comes. 

I have already received your package about three days ago.  :) It was great, but it hurt inside to see that you spent $45 just to send it.  Please don't do that.  I'm ok here.  I have food.  I didn't realize that it would be that expensive.  I ate the pringles in about five minutes.  I finished the Chex this morning.  I'm almost through the M&M's.  Haven't opened the Kit-Kats.  I have six rice crispies lift.  The Junior Mints were melted (by the way, Taiwan opens EVERY package that comes here) and I still ate them. :)  The note is always the best part however. :)  Thank you so much. :)  It is so appreciated even if I eat it really quickly.  It just means I love it so much. ;)  Thank you.

My companion, as of today, is officially on the downhill slope.  He leaves one year from today. Technically he's been on the actual downhill slope for a couple weeks, but he hit his one year left mark today.  Honestly, that percentage you sent my was TERRIFYING.  I didn't know what to do.  I'm almost twenty-percent done.  It's going too fast.  It's supposedly only going to get faster too.  Once I get the language down better, it will take off I imagine.


 My companion got me to eat stinky tofu today.  There are a few things in Taiwan that people are afraid to eat and I've eat about half.  Fish eyes, coagulated pig's blood, fermented bean curd (stinky tofu). That's what I've eaten.  There are other things like pidan (thousand year old egg) that I haven't eaten yet.  The intestines and stuff don't seem that bad.  Haha!  They make up for their bad taste in food with their fruits and vegetables though!  Mmm mmm mm! :D  Mango season kuai dao le (is almost here)!

We have an incredible investigator right now who is doing everything to overcome his addiction to smoking so that he can be baptized and make this change in his life.  His family doesn't believe in him, but we do. He's incredible.  His faith is great.  There are always goldens everywhere.  Finding them is the problem.

Well, I love you all so much.  These emails each week inspire me to press forward and work harder.  I'm grateful that you all took the time out of your schedules to write me and were so patient with my email this last week.  I was going to send pictures of the temple and Elder Erickson who I just realized I've told you nothing about, but I forgot the cord.

Elder Erickson is Elder Oakman's new companion.  He's incredibly shuai (handsome) and hilarious.  He'll probably be a leader in the mission. 

I love your shining examples and kindness.  Thank you for the support.

Love always, Elder Woolsey

Friday, June 1, 2012

Crazy Week

Dajia hao!

I'm so sorry.  You're going to hate this, but I have zero time to write today.  I didn't have a preparation day on Monday because today we went to the Taibei temple.  Apparently it's the most fangbian (convenient) day for the missionaries to go.  Anyway, today was my preparation theory.  We are really far away from the mission home so we just BARELY got back to our area.  I literally have thirty minutes to read everything, write you and write the mission president.

I hope everything is going well with Grandpa.  I kinda had a feeling that he passed away the other day.  I sang "O My Father" on Wednesday with my companion because I felt like he had passed away.  Grandpa wanted "O My Father" to be sung at his funeral.  I hope that still happens.  I tried really hard not to cry in front of my companion.

This last week and a half have been crazy because it's been MOVE CALL!!!  Elder Stone left the "4-man" and we received Elder Erickson.  He's crazy.  He's super shuai (handsome) and hilarious.  He'll be a lot of fun.  He's a move call older than me and tomorrow he gets to come into my area for an exchange (I get to be a legitimate senior companion for a day haha!  I'm a little scared!)

My Chinese is going well.  Elder Haag helps a ton.  I've been studying characters mostly.  They're a lot of fun.  It's SO HARD for me to read characters in different fonts right now though.  For example, I can read them on my flashcards, but I can't read them on billboards (sometimes).  I'm learning though!  My Chinese is decent enough to teach all of the lessons and know the zhongdian (main point) of most conversations.  I'm still super young by mission standards.  As soon as my Chinese is good enough and I'm responsible enough, I will go senior companion.  Most people don't go until they're sixth move and I'm on my second so I have a LONG time to wait.  The area is great.

I really want to tell you about this investigator and this other family we're teaching so I'll keep it brief.  One is trying really hard to quit smoking so he can be baptized (he totally believes).  He is struggling though.  We had him give Elder Haag and me a pack of cigarettes and we taped pictures of Christ on it and filled it with rolled up scriptures (and sprayed it with cologne).  I'll send a picture next week.  He is super solid and is doing great.  His goal is the ninth of June.  I'll have faith he'll hit it.  He knows we're there to love and support him.

The last thing is this family.  We're teaching an entire family that all believes and wants to accept the gospel.  They're a miracle.
Thank you for all of your love and support.  I'm so sorry that this email isn't so good.  I hope you understand that I have ZERO time.  I love you all and you'll all get another email on Monday (my time, probably late Sunday night your time).  I love you SOOOO much.  I see children grow up in the gospel and I marvel at it.  Church families are a miracle and a blessing.  I love this gospel so much. 

Keep it up!

-Elder Woolsey