Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,
Dad, I know you're a really lihai (fierce) cyclist, but do you know what it's like to cycle in gale force winds, torrential rains, and a flooded street that comes up to your ankles? It's...an experience, that's for sure. All I can say is...TYPHOOOOOOONN!!! Supposedly it's the worst it has ever been on my part of the island in twenty years. I wouldn't say that I ever felt in danger, but I tell you right now, that it's difficult to work in that kind of weather. No one is on the streets and people cancel appointments like crazy. The bishop along with many others told us that it wasn't safe to be on the roads and that we were crazy for being out in it, but it's a testimony builder for many in my opinion. The wonderful thing about storms is that while it's like the second coming outside and your bike falls over making you lose your rain pants, your flash cards, and a plethora of other useful things, the miracles are free flowing. Elder Erickson said that he saw a clip on the television of a security camera catching a man who was walking along when suddenly the ground collapsed under him. Also, although I try really hard not to look at televisions, that same day Elder White and I saw a clip of a man in Taibei getting sucked into a whirlpool in the middle of the street. It was insane. There was this river the flows next to where some of our investigators live and it was crazy huge. It's supposed to be the size of that little stream that flows next to our church in Draper but this thing looked worse than Grizzly River Rapids and people were out in the streets pumping water out. Supposedly giant rocks were flowing down the main street in Shalu which we didn't end up going to ourselves. Typhoon = Cyclone = Hurricane in case you were wondering. It just depends on where you are in the world.
I asked about why Taiwan is referred to as Chinese Taibei, and it's actually another official name for Taiwan and it has to do with the relationship that Taiwan has with China. Supposedly, China wouldn't let them compete without it.
A missionary that left from my ward here in Taiwan came home from France this week and it turns out that he trained that incredible Elder Dagenais who was in my District in the MTC. That was incredible! I was stunned out how small the world is. One is from Quebec, I'm from Utah, he's from Taiwan, but we all know each other somehow. It's incredibly strange. As Thomas S. Monson would say, there truly are no coincidences. His faith is great. I can't wait till I can come back from my mission, returning as the greatest most pure person that I have ever been. It's a crazy thought to know that at that time, I will never have been a better person at any other point in my life. I suppose that that's how every day should be for all of us. That's how repentance works.
I've had several friends that have gotten married already. I really can't believe it. Elder Erickson keeps mentioning how when we return it's our turn. I feel more mature and more like an adult than I ever have in my entire life, but at the same time, I feel far from ready to start a family. That being said, I feel like my eyes have been opened to the reasoning why missionaries return home and try to get married and start families quickly. I'm not saying that I plan on doing that, but I'm not going to intentionally avoid marriage at that point (whew....I'm only nineteen...).
Mom, Dad, and Eric, I invite you all to set spiritual goals with regards to scripture reading this week. I don't know whether it will be to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, to read a chapter daily, or just to read daily period, but I promise that as you set these goals, you will see the influence of the Lord in your life more abundantly. You will find that your burdens will be made lighter and the love your Heavenly Father has for you will fill you continually. I encourage you all to set a goal and a plan to achieve it. Please tell me how this goes next week!
I hope that I can fulfill your expectations when I return, Dad. I hope I change enough, and that I'm eloquent enough. I can't make any promises on how well I will be able to express myself, but I promise that I will have changed, that this will mean everything to me and that I have made changes and will have made changes that I don't plan to budge on. I'm going to work hard to serve my God for the rest of my life. I've seen many types of missionaries already. Lihai (fierce), mediocre, yi ban (average), and every other time. I don't know which I am right now, but I'm going to do my best, like Eric did his best. Not every missionary changes and not every missionary changes enough to maintain it when they return, but I PROMISE you all that I will. I'm trying to do my best here, to find, to teach, and to baptize. I don't know what success I'll have, but I'll have been converted and if the Lord chooses to bless me accordingly, I will help a few others come unto Him as well.
It's difficult, there's no doubt, but it's more than worth it. There are very few days that I don't go to bed exhausted, then to my...disappointment,wake up exhausted, doing everything in my power to push my legs while running or squeeze out one more push-up. We begin studying sometimes and it's hard to stay awake, and then we go to work for eleven hours before returning and doing it over again. I love every minute of it.
Goodwood sounds delicious right now. Steak. Mexican food. Whew....Elder Erickson tells me sometimes that the first thing that he's going to do when he gets home is go eat. If it's one in the morning he wants Wendy's first. He's a lot of fun, but he kind of has a good point. I try not to think about it though. I have a long way to go.
I'm sorry about the drought. That can't be good for anyone.
Well, I hope that everyone is doing well and that you feel the blessings of sacrifice daily. I'm grateful to have such a wonderfully supportive family that thinks about me often and loves me enough to write weekly and pray for me. I love this gospel. This isn't just a "oh he's a missionary" kind of thing anymore. I don't want it to be. There's sort of a legend about a missionary named Elder Buning who lives in Utah somewhere. He was the hardest working missionary that any missionary I've met so far has ever seen. Actually, Elder Haag was his companion at one point. Supposedly it was almost inhuman how hard he worked and how incredible of a missionary he was. I want to be like that. That's my only desire. He left about four days after I met Elder Haag so there was no chance to ever see him in action. I don't want praise or recognition, but I want to be able to say what he wrote to Elder Haag a couple of months ago which was that when he got home and collapsed into the arms of his mother, it was everything he wished it would be. He worked as hard as he could on his mission and had no regrets. He was tired, but satisfied. He also said that the first few weeks were torture for him because he wasn't working as hard, and he didn't know what to do. I want to be able to say that.
I love you all. You xin xin you banfa (get a translation for this)! I don't know how to type in characters or I would...