Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,
I want to begin by telling you a little bit about the youth of Taiwan, but in order to do so, I need to back up to about Tuesday. Needless to say, I have a lot to say this week, so brace yourself.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go on Zone Leader exchanges with Elder Bennett. He is a fantastic Elder who works diligently (he's actually attending Harvard when he returns). We had a great chance to get to know one another and discuss how to improve our work. While together, this lady stopped us on the street. It turns out that she was a member, but she took caution to warn us that a huge Typhoon was on its way. She said in Chinglish, "American CNN shuo taifeng hui hen da (says the Taiphoon will be big)." Following that experience, I heard it repeated several times. A lot of people were making preparations including placing sand bags outside of our apartment building in fear that damage would be done. Now, you may be wondering why this was important. Well, the coming Thursday began a three day Taizhong Youth Conference. There was a great fear that the Conference would be canceled as large, looming clouds rolled in and the typhoon bore down on Taiwan.
Thousands of texts were sent out to the youth of Taiwan to fast and pray that they could have their youth conference. Prayers were said and fast were made. The faith of these youth diverted the hurricane. It didn't hit Taizhong, only hitting the most southern portion of the island (where apparently it was relatively intense). These youth, most of whom are first generation converts themselves had the faith in their Savior sufficient enough to produce a miracle that could divert nature.
Actually, on Friday night, selected companionships throughout the mission had the privillege and opportunity to attend part of the Conference at Sun-Moon Lake. My companion and I got selected to go. Guess who else did. Elder Haag, my trainer and Elder Taylor (he probably doesn't need an introduction). This is the first time I have seen him in about five months. Wow. What an experience. Floods of memories and experiences came back. He is doing great. Everything you said is true. When Zone Conference comes around again, we'll be in the same meeting. However, currently, we are not in the same zone. We spent most of the hour and a half bus ride to the meeting catching up and part of it there and part of it coming back. The times that I wasn't with him, I was with Elder Haag discussing our previous area (the members and investigators we associated with). They are both wonderful.
The activity itself was tremendous. Hundreds and hundreds of youth combined together to listen to missionaries share about the Book of Mormon. We had a mini-"Dan Jones" experience with them in which a missionary grabbed one of the youth and stood on boxes on a stage and shouted their testimonies of the Book of Mormon while everyone cheered for them. It was awesome. What a sight! The youth of this church! Their testimonies and their love for a gospel they have known but a few short years! They are examples of the believers who hold their lights high in praise and adoration for their Lord and Savior! I wasn't that good. I also had the opportunity to teach a group of about twelve of the youth how to share their testimony of the Book of Mormon with their friends. It was spectacular. President Bishop was there and gave an excellent presentation on the Book of Mormon being the keystone of our religion, having an actual arch recreated on stage as youth shared their testimonies. There wasn't a lot of opportunity to share the gospel in the normal methods that day, but I hope that our presence strengthened their testimonies as much as it strengthened my own. I wish you all could have experienced it with me.
The presidential election is coming up and I'm pretty sure that when I reapplied for my driver license I registered to vote. President Bishop told us that it would be appropriate for our parents to send us absentee ballots as well as brief summaries of the political candidates' platforms. I would love that. I think you already know that however. If at all possible, perhaps when you send that package this week, you could somehow work in the absentee ballot. I would really appreciate it.
In response to your email:
When I return, this family is totally going to hike Snowbird again and eat pizza and ride the tram like old times. Right now, it sounds...easy and soothing. That's a strange feeling. I must have been pretty lazy before. I can't wait for it, but that's what I want to do.
The city is different. It's a little bit harder to navigate than the more rural Shalu, but I think I've got the most important parts down. We will have success here.
I had the privillege and opportunity of having an interview with President Bishop this week. He is an incredible man, and I think you should take comfort in knowing that he is taking care of the missionaries here in the Taizong Taiwan Mission. He is a spiritual giant with a lot to impart to those he is serving. We discussed the Book of Mormon and its importance to us as individuals and I could tell that his testimony of it is incredibly strong. Accompanying this interview, we were all invited to send you the picture he took of us (which I haven't received yet and will send next week I suppose) and bear our testimonies of this incredible book:
I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It was written by the hands of ancient prophets upon the American continent under the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. It is a factual account of these ancient people who witnessed miracles and blessings because of this gospel and literally saw our Savior, Jesus Christ, having an immortal, resurrected, perfected body of flesh and bone. The Book of Mormon carries a promise to all of those who read it that if they are honest seekers of truth and ask God the Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ of its truthfulness, they WILL know of it is the word of God, Joseph Smith was His prophet, and that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament whose coming was foretold. He walked with us. He taught us. He prayed on our behalf. I know that if you will continually read and study this book, the mysteries of heaven will unfold unto you. You will have the faith necessary to face all adversity. No other book will draw you closer to the Savior. I say these things in the sacred name of He who walked among us, our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
For your information, we are going to the temple next week so my preparation day will be on Wednesday. Don't fret, just expect an email early Tuesday evening. I would plan to send your email at the normal time, just don't expect a response. If you change your time, I may not receive your email. I would also like to invite you all to pray for what to fast for this week in preparation for the upcoming fast Sunday.
I love and miss you all. Keep the working going.