Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Other Side of Heaven

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,

I don't have much time to write today.  In fact I have eleven minutes to be exact so I'm pretty much going to throw information at you for the time being and answer your questions first:

1. The bakeries are delicious...sometimes.  They have tons of yummy foods.  Elder Haag and I didn't eat there much, but my new companion loves breads and those kinds of things.  He eats quite a bit so we go to those kinds of places a lot more.
2. Do we have golden investigators?  Yes, right now we have probably four you could say.  One is hard to meet with because he goes out of town to work for weeks at a time (out of our area).  One has a broken back and can't really come to church and thinks that she can't be baptized.  One is her son.  And another is this girl we got from a referral.  She's twenty years old and progressing toward baptism without problem.  She's even talking about serving a mission.  We still haven't shared all of the commandments with her yet, so we'll see how this week goes.  If our lessons go smoothly, then she can have an interview this week.
3.  Is the food still good?  Absolutely.  The fruit and rice and noodles are all delicious, but my new companion doesn't really like to eat a the really authentic (and cheaper) places that much.  He prefers 7/11 and other similar places (which are incredibly popular here).  It's not bad, it's just not my favorite and it's more expensive.
4. I have xiguan (gotten used to) the heat.  I don't mind being sweaty really at all unless I'm wearing my suit.  It's fine here.  I'm getting tanner and still losing weight and gaining muscle.
5.  That actually leads into the next question nicely.  My ability to ride a bike and my overall fitness is improving tenfold.  We don't have a ton of hills or mountains to climb so I imagine that will be difficult when I return, but I would love to bike a little bit and try it out when I get home.  We wear our church clothes and have boxes full of our proselyting materials attached to the back of our bikes to weigh us down.  Sometimes I imagine wearing biking gear and having a light-weight Pinarello (or however you spell it) and it sounds really relaxing.  Ironically, I love to ride my bike.
6. What do I miss about home?  Sometimes, when I think about it (which I not only don't do much but don't like doing) I miss belle.  I miss all of the free food (when I don't have to budget and the drinks and food are delicious and endless).  Sometimes I miss resting (which is probably sinful).  I don't know.  I mostly miss family.  I miss having free time a little bit, but I'm starting to set so many goals.  I don't want to have any free time when I get back unless it's being used for dating or talking with you all.
7.  The people, for the most part, are really really kind.  Contacting, they're not the nicest, but once you sit them down, they're wonderful.   They're not profane like Americans, but the do have a ton of word of wisdom problems.  They're beautiful people and all are willing to feed you and be kind to you.
8.  Is Taiwan safe?  The roads are much safer than they look.  They're terrifying at first, but I"m used to it.  The streets are safe.  Guns are illegal.  Don't worry, mom.

-Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Dajia hao!

Is it possible that I'm dreaming and six months has only been a miraculous dream?  That I'm asleep in the MTC and when I wake up I'm going to go to class and fantasize about what Taiwan is going to be like?  I know that I'm going to cry when I leave this home because I'm trying not to cry now.  One of my favorite sacrament meetings in Utah was Elder Spencer Apsley's homecoming.  He mentioned the waters of mormon and quoted that beautiful scripture in Mosiah 18:30 -- "And it came to pass that all this was done in beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer, yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever."  He described the parts of Russia where he served as his "waters of Mormon."  A place that he looks upon with love and tenderness.  Most missionaries tell me I have a long time left, but I know better. 

You wrote many things to me this week, so I would like to respond to all of them.  How's Taiwan?  It's a beautiful place filled with prepared souls.  The harvest is great and the laborers are few.  There are thousands upon thousands of prepared souls here, we just have to find them.

I have an investigator that told me all about the Colorado experience.  That's pretty crazy.  It's big news here too.  I was really upset after I heard about it.  I can't believe that someone could have fallen so far.  I hope that he comes to a knowledge of his Redeemer.

Batman. Batman. Batman. Batman. Batman. Batman. Batman. Batman.  The Taiwanese know how to say this one in English believe it or not.  Batman is HUGE.  The other night, after a lesson, a group of members went to see Batman together.  They were so excited.  Li Fang Ling Jiemei told me that it was incredible.  Apparently it's "SO COOL" according to her.  I love hearing Taiwanese speak English.  She's actually an English major though, so it's a bit different.  I hope that it will still be as good in a year and a half....if I have desire to see it by that point.  My desires toward entertainment are changing dramatically.  I really hope that if they change entirely that I won't go back to my old ways like a dog to his vomit.  That wouldn't be fun.  It does sound incredible though, and it made me a bit trunky when I was speaking to the members about it.  And yes, we do know how to say Batman in Chinese too.

OH MAN!  I wish I could have been there for Tyler's farewell.  I bet he slayed it.  I hope he doesn't feel like he's going out too late and that when he returns we will all have been home for 6+ months, etc. because once he gets there, his perspective will change.  He won't care when he comes home or what because it won't matter.  Tyler is going to be a phenomenal missionary if he lets himself become one.  I have a lot of confidence in his ability and understanding of the gospel.  Thank you for giving him his letter.  I was hoping that it would get there before he left.  I was incredibly happy about that. 

Mom cut her hair?  I never thought that I would see the day.  I want a picture STAT.  I'm appauled that you didn't send one this week.  So not nice.  I'm just kidding, but seriously, I need a picture ASAP. 

Thank you for telling me about that individual from Taiwan.  He must be reasonably intelligent as well, especially if he's from Taizhong.  I would love to meet with people like this from your work when I return.  I would love to help them get baptized.  That would be incredible.  They can be beacons for their own families.  Please send those numbers.  I will warn you in advance though.  Whenever missionaries get numbers like this, we count them as referrals and will likely contact them with the expectation and hope of sharing the gospel.  Those will be my intentions.  Find out what city they live in as well please.  I would also like his name again when you send it.  I would love to befriend a family with a connection like that.  You should ask about their beliefs if you can.  They're so getting baptized.  What you said is right though. The Taiwanese, for the most part, are a wonderfully kind and willing people.  On the street, they're less receptive, but once you sit down with them, they will give the shirt off of their back to you.  They will feed you.  They will do anything for you.  They may not accept your message, but they're so wonderfully nice.

Elder Taylor and I have been writing letters back and forth.  I don't know much about his new companion, but he's doing great!  I bet that he'll be a leader in the mission at some point.  He's incredible.  I remember him telling me his spiritual experiences in the MTC all the time.  I look up to him and admire him.  I can't wait for our personal reunion because it's going to be both surreal and joyous.  He had an excellent point.  We were in the MTC together and obviously together before that, but it's been nearly four months since we have seen each other yet we're not that far from each other.  We've likely both changed so much that I'm incredibly excited to see his inevitable growth.

Our duan chuan went home (our week long missionary).  We're sad, but I hope that we left a good impression on him so that he'll become a full time missionary soon.

This week was Zone Conference.  Zone Conference is similar to General Conference for a missionary.  You spend nearly the entire day at the chuandaobu (mission home) being spiritually edified.  President Bishop speaks for a while, the Assistants speak, Sister Bishop, etc.  It's wonderful.  You hear the reflections from leaving missionaries and the introductions of new missionaries.  You see tons of missionaries from five different Zones.  I got the chance to see Elder Haag at that time and it was awesome.  He's doing so well.  I need to write him soon.  He's an incredible missionary.  We'll be friends when we return.  It will be a strange day when he goes home.

Feel free to ask questions no matter what they are.  I'm totally open to answering them.

Mexican food sounds delicious.  I've been craving it for the last...two weeks.  I've heard there are mexican food restaurants in the big cities like Taizhong, Taibei (not in my mission so it doesn't matter), and Gaoxiong.  If I ever serve in a city (which I, for whatever reason, believe will happen) I can try it out.  Shalu is pretty rural, but it sounds like Hengchun might be more rural (where Elder Taylor is serving).  They've recently harvested the rice so it's not as beautiful anymore.  Supposedly monsoon season is on its way so it will be raining more than I want soon.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the pictures.  I may send a couple more here soon.  I sent Eric one.

Do I still translate from English to Chinese and Chinese to English?  No.  That actually went away a while ago.  I understand what everyone is saying now and I can pretty much as whatever I want to say.  Am I fluent?  No.  Could I get anywhere I wanted to go and talk with everyone about day-to-day things?  Absolutely.  The Lord is incredible when it comes to helping you learn the language.  I can read most of the Book of Mormon in characters now too.  I know about a thousand characters or so.  I love Chinese, it's gorgeous.  It also validates the church in my opinion, but I'll wait till I get home to tell you more about that. 

Well, I think that you have all been long overdue for a long email, so here you go.  I hope that everything is going well with all of you and with the family in Arizona.  Tell them not to be shy in sending mail.  I'm terrible about writing back, but I've set a goal to write more hand-written letters. 

I love this gospel with all of my heart.  I'm setting goals and making plans for when I return because frankly it's all too soon.  Thank you for your prayers because they have been felt and they're wonderful.  I'm grateful that I could be a member of the Lord's church and I hope that I can work hard for Him.  Keep being an example for me.

- Elder Woolsey

Monday, July 16, 2012

Moving in peanut butter.

Dajia hao!

I'll begin by responding to your email again. My companion is great.  He really is trying to do his best. He's very different from Elder Haag, but he's good.

I'm so happy that you invited the missionaries over for dinner. I bet they were appreciative. What was the spirit they brought? Did share a message with you?  Do you feel spiritually strengthened? Did they ask for a referral? If not, they did not accomplish their purpose and possibly wasted their time, your time, and the Lord's time. You probably don't want to post that online, but it's truth. I hope that they did. That's the purpose of visiting someone.

This whole foods place sounds really delicious. I appreciate that package that you sent me by the way. There's so much candy that it's not even funny. It's delicious, but there is a ton. I'm going to get fat. I feel like an animal eating all of that stuff actually. I get a craving for it when I get home now and it bothers me. It's super yummy, but it's scary at the same time. Thank you so much. I appreciate that you thought of me that much. I feel bad that you had to spend so much on a package for me. Don't feel obligated to do that. It's seriously OK.

I can't believe Tyler leaves here shortly. That's crazy. He'll do very well I bet, but it's still crazy. Nate having been out for about ten months is also intimidating. I've almost been out for six. This mission is flying by and I don't like it. I'm trying to use every waking moment to either spread the gospel or improve myself. I can't change fast enough. I can't improve the way that I want to improve. I just want to come back the man that the Lord needs me to be.

Justin Eldredge getting married is incredibly scary. I can't believe that he's getting married so soon. And to Brooke Romney! Wow! I graduated with her! That's so crazy. Life is definitely still moving even though I'm not there.

Girl's camp will be fun. Don't stress, Mom. Also, did you like the Batman thing? I bet it was neat.

With regards to politics. I think Condoleeza Rice would be an incredible candidate. I bet mom is all over that as well. She's a powerful woman with a lot to offer.

 I wrote a talk that I may have to give in Zone Conference tomorrow and I'm going to use the biking analogy you gave me when I left to describe diligence. I hope I get to speak!

Jeremy Lin is HUGE here. Thank you for telling me about him. It helps me understand a little bit more.

This week we have a duan chuan which basically means a Taiwanese member who will join our companionship for about a week. He'll see what real mission life is like and prepare for his personal mission. He's really nice. His name is Xu Zhanglao. He's really shy and quiet, but he's very kind and appreciative. I hope he can feel the spirit and desire to work.

On Monday, we helped the bishop move. Moving here is ridiculous. Because all of the homes here are little rooms stacked on top of each other, we have to rope furniture up through windows. Don't worry, I'll send a picture. It's crazy. Aside from those things, nothing too new is happening.

We are teaching a Shi Dixiong. He is incredible. He really loved church and wants to be baptized. He's only worried about his family not approving. We have so many incredible investigators and stories that unfortunately I don't have time to tell you right now.

So if you get the chance, I would love family pictures. The Taiwanese love them.

I love you all and hope everyone and everything is going well. Thank you for the love and support. Please read your scriptures daily and work to improve yourselves. I love your example and love that I've felt.� I'll try to write a letter today.

- Elder Woolsey

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A time of transition.

Dajia hao!

Thank you so much for writing such a detailed email this week.  Little things like shopping at Whole Foods, your Boss's joke, and Belle being afraid of fireworks may not seem like much to you, but I love it.  I just want to know what's going on at home, how life is, etc.

So, since I know you're probably most interested in knowing about my new companion, I'll tell you a bit about him.  His name is Elder White and he's from Springville, Utah.  He has been out for over a year and is on his eighth move-call.  He's kind of the exact opposite of Elder Haag so I haven't quite become used to it yet.  I'm not entirely sure what to say about him, so I hope next week you'll ask more questions about him, then I can answer them.  I kind of expect to leave Shalu after this next move-call.  Almost every new missionary who just finishes training (two move-calls) will either move to a new area or receive a new companion.  It's fun to lead an area for such a long period of time, considering my new Senior Companion needs to learn it still.  Speaking of Elder Taylor, however, I wrote him a little while ago and he wrote me back very promptly.  This is the first time we've contacted one another since the day we split up at the mission home.  That was really awesome.  He says he wants to write back and forth more diligently so I'll likely write him today.  He told me a little bit more about his area and it sounds quite a bit different than up here.  He's about as far south as you can get and I'm about as far north (within the mission) so the people and the areas are rather different. 

Elder White and I have been visiting with a lot of investigators in part-member families lately.  Our hope is to complete some families.  We're meeting with the children of some recent converts, the husband of another recent convert, the aunt of yet another recent convert, and another incredible woman whose older sister is a member.  I want to tell you about this woman really quickly.  She recently was in a very serious accident in which she had to replace some of her gums, her foot is the size of a softball, and she has to wear a back brace to sit up.  She can't go to work and she can't sit up for more than an hour at a time without intense pain so most of the time she lies down.  I want to tell you about this woman's faith.  On our third visit (without even having talked to her about it) she looks right at me and says (in Chinese), "Elder Woolsey, I want you to give me a priesthood blessing."  I was blown away.  She said that her sister mentioned it and that she knew she wanted one.  Naturally we gave her one, but it was incredible. Then, in my first visit with her with Elder White (by the way, his Chinese last name is Bai which is an actual Chinese last name and directly translates to white) we challenged her to baptism and she basically said, "of course I want to be baptized!  As soon as I can go to church and actually GET baptized I'll be baptized."  Her faith is massive.  She says that she just reads the Book of Mormon all day.  She says it makes her happy and gives her power.  I just pray daily and nightly that she will heal enough to get baptized.  She's one of those people that the church needs.  A powerful woman who can lead her family as well as others in the church. 

With regards to your email, a lot of notable things happened it seems.  Nash playing for the Lakers?  That's pretty crazy.  You'll have to tell me how that works out.  I adore Steve, but I don't adore Kobe.  We'll see I suppose!

Thank you for sending a package.  I love them, but at the same time I know they're expensive and unnecessary.  Please don't send them if they're a burden.  I don't want you to feel obligated or anything like that.  P.S. The Essential Missionary Collection as well as Called to Serve would be awesome to listen to if you are thinking of things to send.  They have a lot of great hymns.  Perhaps you could open them and put them on the computer before you send them (which is what I would suggest doing because they're super super good). 

With regards to that fire you mentioned in Alpine, it was right next to Elder Erickson's home apparently.  He just told me.  He's in the other companionship that lives with us.  Heavenly Father absolutely heard your prayers and answered them.  There's not really two ways about that in my book.  Heavenly Father blesses us with miracles and wants us to appreciate and acknowledge them so that he can keep blessing us.  It was absolutely a direct answer to prayer.

I'm surprised that Dad liked Spider-Man.  It must be pretty good.  You'll all have to show it to me in a year and a half (I remember when I used to say two years).  I suppose that answers your question a little bit too actually.  Does it feel like a long time or a short time?  It feels incredibly short.  Remarkably short.  I feel like I haven't helped enough, haven't changed enough, and just haven't done enough.  I'm really working, but sometimes I wonder if I'm even making a dent.  Well, as Elder Holland said, if you go out on your mission and didn't convert yourself then you wasted your mission and questioned why we even went.  I'm trying so hard to get the church deep inside.  I dread coming home from the standpoint that I have to leave this place.  All we do here is work for divinity.  I know you can do that at home, but I don't know how to do that yet.  I love it here.  I don't want to leave.  In two years, you should all just come join me instead.  How does that sound?

I hope that in two years I'll have helped hundreds come unto Christ and begin to take the lifelong journey toward salvation.  I also hope that when I get off the plane and see you all again, I will cry and collapse from exhaustion having no regrets, knowing that I did my best.  Lastly, I hope that I can stand before the High Council and say that I have changed forever, that I served honorably, and that I'm ready to continue to serve.

Thank you for all of your love and support.  I'll be home soon enough.

-Elder Woolsey 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Dajia hao.

I have eight minutes to write this week so I apologize for the brief nature of the email.  Most of this email will be in response to yours.  I don't have time because today I got a new companion, Elder White.  Elder Haag became Zone Leader in Zhanghua and I'm still in Shalu.  It was an incredible experience to work with such a devoted, dedicated, prepared missionary.  He was an incredible example of love, diligence, hard-work, and all-around excellence.  He sought to do his very best and he succeeded.

Elder White seems great.  I haven't been with him for very long (a few hours only) so I will report more in detail on this next week.

I'll answer your questions mainly, but I honestly have little to no time.  In terms of women versus men, I would say that there are definitely more women.  The women here are so pure and accepting.  I honestly believe that women have a divine spirit and nature that is not found in men.  They're a miracle.  The problem in this area is finding families to baptize and completing other families.  There are very few complete families.  They are a commodity.  My testimony and love for family has sky-rocketed since coming here.  Utah is a blessed place to live.

The language is progressing well.  I feel like things are going nicely.  I'm still learning and still improving.  It's impossible to be finished.

The reports on missionary work are fascinating.  Keep me posted on those.  I'm definitely excited for my opportunity to report someday.  I want to be able to say that I did all that I could do to help the people here.

Anyway, time's up.  I'll write more next week.  I love you more than you know.

- Elder Woolsey