Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,
So, apparently, it rains in Taiwan. A lot. Because I moved, I can't find where I packed my rain gear so my companion and I both got caught in heavy heavy rain without rain gear...three times... The first time our investigator was pleading with us to change our clothes, and we had to tell him like twelve times that we didn't live at the church and didn't have other clothes. The third time, this really old lady who didn't speak Chinese forced us to take her ponchos. I now have a poncho. I know what you're thinking, Mom... A typhoon is coming this next week. It shouldn't be as bad as the last one. Supposedly this last week was also a Typhoon. It only rained a lot.
So I must tell you. Now that I'm in a city, we have tons of restaurants and people everywhere. The work is still really slow, contrary to initial thought, but everything is much more convenient. Anyway, my companion and I ate Subway (they have a really cheap two dollar deal for a 6" and a soda) and it just felt weird. I felt like I was in America for a little while. It smelled like Subway, it tasted like Subway and all the workers there have to know how to say all of the vegetables in English in order to work there so we ordered in English. It was bizarre. The lady that helped us didn't even look THAT Taiwanese. Also, we went upstairs to eat it and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith started playing. Following that, our super awesome recent convert that got baptized like six months ago or something up stairs and gave us free...donuts!! I haven't had a donut in forever either. It was incredibly bizarre. I felt like I was home for a second and I both hated it and loved it. I don't think I'll be going back. Oh yeah, and get this. You know how there's no Dunkin' Donuts in Utah? Taizhong has one. Go figure.
Our recent convert is seriously incredible. He is only fifteen years old (almost sixteen) but he comes and does missionary work with us all day every day (not exactly, but almost). He wants to be a missionary and he's incredibly strong in the gospel. I can't wait to see what happens to this kid someday. He's on Summer break and his parents don't really care what he does. He's an incredible example of the believers (it also helps that he speaks Taiwanese).
Stake Conference was this week as well which means I got to see a ton of missionaries from all over this part of Taiwan...including my long missed trainer Elder Haag. He's doing incredibly well as the Zhanghua Zone Leader. It sounds like he's having tons of success and really tearing it up. I hope you all get a chance to meet him someday, he's seriously great. He feels like my second older brother. I hope that we can still be friends even after I get back.
This mission is crazy. Having moved, I've found out about a ton more missionaries and their situations as well. I didn't realize how intelligent a lot of the missionaries are here. I feel like in order to have come here, you have to have had crazy credentials, Chinese beforehand, or lucky. My companion, Elder Fiala, took two years of Chinese and four years of French and is attending the University of Virginia. My Zone Leader went to Harvard. The Zone Leader in Pingdong has already graduated college with a Bachelor's degree in Math (yeah, he's only twenty). The former Zone Leader here also is attending Harvard. Elder Haag graduated High School when he was sixteen. The list goes on. I feel really inadequate. I haven't had Chinese before. My intelligence and my credentials are small in comparison. I'm just another missionary. It's incredibly humbling to be surrounded by so many outstanding people. As of lately, I've been inspired even more so to return to work incredibly diligently in my schooling. The previous goals I set will still be my goals and I know now how to make plans and work hard to achieve them. I will. I didn't know that Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve graduated from Standford with his Juris Doctorate. The Quorum of the Twelve is all extremely well educated and For the Strength of Youth (which I highly recommend picking up the new one and reading it) talks about feeding your desire to learn. I'm going to work incredibly hard in schooling and my church callings when I return. That is going to be my only focus. Marriage is a third I suppose (buyong xiang name duo / no need to think that much).
I can't wait till you all can come back here with me and I can show you what I mean. There are so many things that I would love for you to experience.
What you said about the Dentist is incredible and inspiring. I'm so grateful for the examples of the great members of this church. This gospel is incredible. I love it. That made me incredibly happy.
Well, I'm still safe and the work is progressing. I do miss you all, but it's going to be the hardest thing I've ever done when I leave here. I don't want to think about it right now. Thank you all for everything you do for me. Your faith, support, and prayers are felt continually. Thank you so much.
- Elder Woolsey