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 Mormon...how 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