Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Monday, October 29, 2012

Zuoying Festival

Brightly Beams, Our Father's Mercy

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,

Wow.  I don't know how better to describe it than wow.  After reading that email I feel like my family has been blessed more than me from my serving a mission.  I don't know how to explain how I feel, but that's it.  When I reflect on my mission thus far, I think that no one changed or has benefited as much as I.  I didn't realize the far-reaching influences of my mission.  Dad, you sound incredibly lihai (fierce).  I am THRILLED that you could answer such penetrating questions as those with complete honesty and validity.  We do have a wonderful relationship with each other.  You are a good father.  Eric and I have worked diligently in the Gospel because of the wonderful examples that you and mom set for us.  You and mom were prompted to physically leave Arizona to move to a new life in Utah, because we needed to be where we are now.  The changes are so subtle!  So gradual!  Can we not look upon our family and say with humbled hearts that the Lord has made us "new creatures" in Him!?  Can we not pour out our hearts in gratitude nightly for Him having given us so much!?  I love you all. "Brightly Beams, Our Father's Mercy" eloquently describes a diamond of truth with regards to our Savior's atonement.  It is obviously depicted in our family.  We've found the shore.

 I found a scripture this morning that I would like to share with you all, but I don't have it memorized yet.  It's in D&C 78:19.  I think it sums up the importance of gratitude.

Mom, you don't get shorted in this either.  This week I had a tender memory come back to me as I was outside working.  I remembered that you used to write "KING BRY" on my lunches that you so lovingly made for me.  This may seem small, insignificant, and random, but it gave me confidence.  Those reminders at my potential made me realize that I can become something in my life.  That righteous influence coupled with the gospel has allowed me to realize the promise in Philippians 4:13 that says nothing is impossible through Christ who strengthens us.  We have Gods leading our endeavors and angels to bear us up.  How can we ever go amiss?  Thank you, Mom, for preparing me for this time in my life.
I'm overjoyed that you're going to a corn maze tomorrow. 

President Ostler will do incredibly well.  He's a righteous man who has always cared about me.  He has been a loving and righteous representative of the Lord for as long as I've known him.  He radiates the love of God and has His image engraved upon his countenance.  I'm excited for the potential.


What do I like most about the culture?  Everyone is so kind once you get to sit down with them and speak with them.  They would offer you the shirt off of their back if you needed it.  The Taiwanese have been prepared for a long time to accept the gospel, and I have the fortunate opportunity to come in and reap the incredible harvest.

Tracting, contacting, or referrals?  I can't wait until I get the opportunity to explain all about missionary work in the Taichung Taiwan mission in person and in detail.  Whether you spend more time tracting or contacting seems to be dependent upon where you are located.  We tracted much in Shalu, but it is very, very, rural compared to the city of Nanzi in which I now reside.  Here, we tract much less than contacting scooters in the street.  In the Taiwan, Taichung mission, we talk to everyone.  Referrals are a constant and ongoing endeavor.  We have a referral system through our cell phones in which missionaries send those they meet on the street's information through a database and we call them as the come through our phone.  We try to get a hold of them throughout the week.  If the referral comes from a member in the ward, it is treated as very precious and you contact them immediately.  Member referrals are the most efficient source of investigators and baptisms (of which I can explain at a latter date in greater detail).
Halloween package?  Yes.  Thank you so much.  Elder Forbes and I have almost eaten all of the chocolate toffee cookies that are so delicious.  The Peanut Butter is a savior.  I had peanut butter toast as part of my breakfast this morning.  Really tasty.  Thank you.  You're going to make me put that weight on again.

Last Monday, we went to an awesome festival in Zuoying.  I will try to send some pictures from it today.

I love you all.  The work is true.  Elder Forbes and I had a great week.  We had some investigators come to church and total ward attendance was really high which makes us more than happy!  Be thankful for overcrowded ward houses!  I love this gospel more than I ever thought I could  and hope it will grow for the rest of eternity.  I love you so much and I know that the Lord is watching out for you. 

- Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I didn't even notice

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle,

What a week it has been.  I want to begin by sharing an experience I had last night, but need to preface it with some background.  Elder Forbes and I have been working with a less-active member, visiting him once or twice a week every week since I have come to this area.  He is great.  He has come to church for about five consecutive weeks now and loves having us over.  He's incredibly kind and is always willing to learn.  We have been teaching him all of the lessons again.  There's a chance he's not actually a member as the ward still hasn't found his record yet, but he swears he is so that's fine for now.  The point of this background, is that Elder Forbes and I have been working hard with him and we have developed a serious and honest love for this man.  Last night, as we were riding back from our secondary area (the farther away areas under your stewardship, about a forty minute bike-ride or so from the church) we came across him and his friend walking down the street.  The first thing that crossed my mind was, "Wang Long De! I love that man!"  The second, "great, and a member referral we can teach!"  The third, "what on earth is he doing out and about this late on a Sunday night?"  Well, to our utter surprise and displeasure, he had been out having fun (this man is almost sixty and very calm and collected, very reclusive, and very kind) with a buddy we had never seen.  He was acting strange, too strange.  Apparently, they had been out drinking.  And from the smell of him, drinking a lot.  You could tell that he felt bad, but his senses were so garbled in the haze of the alcohol that he could barely talk and would laugh hysterically in spurts every few minutes.  He pulled me to the side to talk to me and rambled about his activities and how he was glad he could come to church today and such.  It was a mess.  I tried to compose myself, but tears welled in my eyes.  I saw a man that I had grown to love and care about breaking the commandments of God on His holy day.  After an awkward exchange, my companion and I left.  Riding quickly, and talking with everyone in an attempt to ebb my sadness, I spoke with a man who had just gotten off work.  He looked as though he had returned from a trip as he was wheeling a suitcase behind him and dressed in a nice polo with slacks.  I asked a bit about him and in relatively good English, shared that he knew I was a Mormon and that he used to be Christian.  I dug deeper to discover that he used to be very active and believe strongly in our Savior, but ceased to pray daily when he divorced from his wife and his son moved to America.  He began getting emotional as he told me how he felt abandoned and that if he doesn't keep working constantly, occupying his thoughts continually, he will drive himself crazy.  I began to feel for this man and describe how Christ still cares for him and that he can have that companionship and peace again.  He expressed an honest sense of gratitude for my effort, but walked away, silently into the night.  To be honest, at this time, I felt like someone had punched me repeatedly in the stomach.  Why did I have to see my friend drunk in the streets?  Why did I come across this man who had rejected God and hated Him for his circumstances?  Now, my purpose in telling you this is not to bum you out or ruin your day.  It's that our Savior died for everyone's sins.  He loves us and carries us.  He told us to come to him and find rest, that his "yoke is easy" and "burden is light."  He loves all of us.  If we sin, there is hope!  There is happiness and love ahead!  A lot of it!  I don't know why the Master sent me to them last night, but I know that he did.  I realized last night that I love the people of Taiwan.  I really, truly, honestly, whole-heartedly love them.  I want to serve them.  I'm trying my best.

I have a few questions and comments before I respond to the bulk of your email:

Have you been to a HAUNTED corn maze yet?  If not, please go this week.

I would love a copy of my personal priesthood lineage if that's possible.

Jacob Hogan returned home about eleven days ago.  This morning I received a letter from him, from his last preparation day in the field.  That was a very strange thought.  He's home and likely doing very well.  I miss him a ton.  I think that it would be great if you could congratulate him on an honorable return.  His information is likely on my Facebook page.  He sent me a letter with some things that he had learned on his mission in it.  He's definitely a returned missionary, full of light and happiness.  That was honestly spectacular.  It went way too fast as mine is going now.

I never even thought of praying for Mitt Romney.  I think that's a wonderful idea though.  What you said about what Mom did, was rather clever and brilliant.  I'm impressed actually.  Imagine a President that consults with Prophets of God.  The country would be in wonderful standings.  I hope that he does just that.
Thank you for your words regarding our family.  I often reflect upon the influence that this gospel has made in our lives.  We are blessed for the chance that He gave us.  I can tell that we're trying to use it effectively as well.  He knew where we needed to be.  I often marvel how often the Lord extends His almighty hand to influence my simple life or the life of our family.  God knows me.  He knows you.  I've felt, since coming out, that my life has been set up by the Lord (Shen de anpai in Chinese) and that I have a role in this eternal plan.  I don't know what it is, but I tell you right now that I'm going to be on the Lord's Errand for the rest of my life.  I plan to seek Him in all things, always.  Thank you for reminding me.

Zone Conference was this week again.  I love it.  We get to see half the mission and somehow (again, probably Shen de anpai) Elder Haag who is in the North half of the mission and should not attend my Zone Conference came down to do some specialized training and I got to see him again.  He's so great.  I love all of the wonderful missionaries in this mission.  President Bishop spoke on strengthening the ward and working with the ward in missionary work.  There was a ton of great training and thoughts shared.

The temperature is getting cooler indeed.  It feels great here.  There's a breeze and I don't sweat as much.

I'm not going to recognize the house when I return I bet, but that's OK.  The homes are so different there than here, it will be like a trip into the Twilight Zone anyway.  I hope you all can come back here with me someday.

Elder Forbes and I are working.  All areas are golden.  We'll find some.  We have a lot of investigators right now who are progressing toward baptisms, but many don't have a goal right now.  We're working on that however.

My body weight?  I started gaining a little in my last area (after having lost much) because my companion's dietary habits were different than previous Elders, but then began losing it again when I came here.  When I left home, I was around 186 pounds (believe it or not) and now I'm in the 160s.  I don't know if you can tell from pictures at all, but I have lost quite a bit.  I gained weight in the MTC as well.  I don't have much of a desire to put it back on.

My language skills are still progressing steadily, but nowhere near the explosion of when I first got here.  I can always work harder on language.  I would say that 75% of my day is in Chinese.  Elder Forbes and I talk in Chenglish which is about 80% English and 20% Chinese, and then everything outside plus lessons is in Chinese.  It's really a wonderful language.

I just want to express how much I love you all.  I pray for you nightly.  I pray for your safety, happiness, success, and spiritual welfare.  I know that the Lord is blessing your lives and influencing them for the better.   Keep working for the Kingdom.

-Elder Woolsey

Sunday, October 14, 2012

(Top) Elder Woolsey's Apartment Balcony (Bottom) With A Member of the Church

55 degrees sounds cold

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle (is she still around?  I wouldn't mind a picture...),

Wow.  All I can say, is wow.  What a week.  Elder Forbes and I have been pushing ourselves to the limit to try and hit our goals (most of which we hit), and then we got to spend times with the other American members and watch all five sessions of General Conference in English.  What a spiritual feast.  I was truly flabbergasted at the incredible, inspired, words of our Prophet and the Lord's Apostles.  I was trying hard to only write down the things that I felt the spirit prompted me to write, but there was just so much I wanted to remember.  Did you catch the Eric Little reference, Dad?  I'm sure you did.  Or Shayne M. Bowen's remarks on the separation of loved ones, and that those scars NEVER heal until we are in their presence again.  I think of Grandma.  I still miss her.  People think I was too young to remember correctly, but I don't think people remember how close we were.  I remember one night, when I was much older, I was in my room trying to sleep when I began to spontaneously cry because I suddenly missed her so much.  Mom came in and told me something along the lines of, "Bry, you know what she would say if she were here: 'Bry, what are you cryin' for?'"  It made me laugh.  I also think of being separated from you all.  The feelings are less intense knowing that we can still communicate, but there are still gaps and pieces missing that can never be replaced.  That's why the Plan of Salvation is so vital.  These gaps and scars are permanent.  They do not heal with time.  They heal when things are restored.  When they are fixed.  When they are the way they are supposed to be.  That is some time away, but everything will be in its proper order in the Celestial Kingdom.

We heard from Dieter F. Uchtdorf who entreated us to live lives without regrets.  To enjoy the moment, but to work and to serve and to be with families.  It made me realize the important things in my life and what I want to and need to accomplish in this life. 

Boyd K. Packer discussed the difficult journey of repentance and quoted the beautiful hymn I invited you all to listen to a few weeks ago (although I don't know whether you did or not); "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy."  What a brilliant hymn full of the beautiful, yet sublimely simple analogy of those struggling in sin and the tempest tossed sailor. 

Hey Dad, do you remember Rodney?  You taught me a lesson with him that I didn't realize that I had learned until this week.  You make think that you didn't do much and you may have nearly forgotten about him, but I learned so much from the character of you and what it means to be a man during that time.  I didn't like Rodney much in that moment of time.  I felt like he was a burden, he smelled strange, he did strange things, he was distracting, loud, etc.  But you, Dad, had patience with him.  You gave him rides.  You sat by him.  You answered his questions.  You were his friend.  I would like to say that when I return, I can be that for someone else.  You sacrificed much for him, and although you and he likely didn't change much because of it, I did.  People are blessed by our service.  We should work constantly to serve others because we just may answer another's prayer.  I wasn't praying for an answer to a prayer regarding those things at that time, but the Lord knows my needs better than I do.

Also, Dad, you know how you keep saying the reasons for my serving, and what you expect me and imagine me to become on my mission?  Well, when I heard Elder Eyring's talk on Priesthood Potential, your words sunk in deeply.  You were telling me my potential so that I could achieve it.  I was blessed enough to have that counsel from a worthy earthly father and my patriarchal blessing from a loving Heavenly Father.  Both of which allow me to know what I can become.

I loved the picture of Mom and Dad.  Very cute.  I also loved seeing the mountains.  I miss those.  Houses and nature are not the same here.  55 degrees sounds frigid cold too. 

Scheels sounds pretty cool.  The framework was done while I was there.  Basketball and football seem to be going well, but I am completely disconnected from it at this point.  Aside from Jeremy Lin, neither sport is that big here it seems.  Baseball is the thing right now.

You want a girl name for the Jeep?  OK.  How about SHI MEI YU?

I think it's hilarious, ironic, and lovely that you sent Peanut Butter.  We have it here, but it's expensive and tastes strange.  Many fail to remember that we don't have many things that you all have there in America.  We don't have colored drinks like Kool-Aid, Gatorade, etc.  The Filipinos sell it here but it's really expensive.  There are many things we don't eat.  I laughed when you thought that meal looked gross.  That's fine dining for me and Elder Forbes.  Most times it's rice and meat with a couple of strange vegetables that I don't know the names of.  Chili Verde sounds beyond delicious.  I can't wait to eat that when I return.  

To answer your questions, I did get the money out.  My bike is still not fixed, but that does not mean it's not inoperable. I can ride it just fine, it just makes some crazy sounds that sound really scary.  Feel free to put money in my account, it will allow for peace of mind and convenience in not having to keep asking the question.  Pictures?  I just sent some pictures last week, but I'll send some more, and then put ALL OF THEM on a disc and send it home probably today or next week.

I have both heard of and seen pictures of the new iPhone.  Did you know that there is no 4G in Taiwan? 

We actually found out that there is a Burger King in the Zone.  Strange, huh? 

Well, I want to say that I love you all very, very, much.  I think about you all often and pray for you all nightly.  I miss aspects of home, but when I think of how long I've been out, I can only think that I'll be home all too soon.  I adore the pictures.  Keep them coming.  I'll try to send a couple more today, but don't expect too many.  I love our small family.  I'm grateful that we have testimonies in the gospel.  I'm not going to be the same when I get home.  I plan to work.  I will have changed.

- Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Monso[o]n is on it's way.

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle

What a week it was for the glorious people of Nanzi.  I would just like to begin this email be sharing a miracles story with you including its background:

Gaoxiong is a city.  A big city.  Very different from my previous two areas.  Being such, there are many Waiguoren or foreigners in the area (tons of white people teaching English and tons of Filipinos and Vietnamese who come here for better work, pay, and living conditions) which means more foreign members in the ward.  It is my privilege to translate Sunday meetings from Chinese into English for the Filipino and American members (the first counselor is actually a great man from California who has wonderful Chinese.  He loves to buy things from Costco for us.  His charity knows no bounds).  One of these American members is an older lady from Utah who married a Taiwanese man and lived there with him in California for 25+ years.  They have been sealed in the temple and about four years ago came to Taiwan in order to have a change of pace and avoid having no insurance for a few years during the awkward time frame associated with their jobs and their ages.  Well, this is all important because while she is active, her husband (aside from the first Sunday in Taiwan in which she was nervous about walking alone to church) her husband hasn't accompanied her in fifteen years.  No previous missionaries have known this because they have failed to ask, but my companion being the great Elder that he is had the courage to ask about her situation and this is what she found out.  Well, excited about the prospect, I set up a time to go and visit them.  They fed us hamburgers (real ones, you know that's right) with soda and chips and we shared the Plan of Salvation (which I felt prompted to do during personal study that morning).  As we did so the spirit was very strong.  The wife expressed her desire for an eternal family and the husband sort of stared blankly at her reply, obviously deep in thought.  Well, yesterday at church, we found out that that night they knelt in prayer together at the close of their day and had their first family prayer in over 12 years.  She told us this with tear filled eyes and a heart full of gratitude.  Mom, Dad, and Eric, this is a gospel of miracles!  This isn't a tradition passed from generation to generation.  We all must face a time in our lives where we must decide if it's true or not.  It is.  It's the Lord's church.  We are members and therefore have become candidates for salvation.  This gospel changes lives like it changed ours.  This is everything.  It's more important than anything else.  We need to, as Elder Uchtdorf in a previous conference so eloquently stated through analogy, exclaim, "I'm committed, brother!"  I'm eternally grateful that we are in this church.  I don't know where I would be without it.  Elder Forbes and I are currently teaching two families the gospel and I pray that they can enter the waters of baptism, and a year from now enter the Lord's holy house.  It's the Lord's will for them.  It is the true and only way.  If you read this and desired to work harder and repent more fervently, then do so. 

I'm glad that conference went well.  Conference is a week late for us as it must needs first be translated into Chinese then sent here.  I'll watch it this Saturday and Sunday for which I am so excited.  Zone Conference is next week as well at which point we get to hear our inspired Mission President's words of wisdom.  Elder Taylor will be there too (not because he is in my Zone but because he is in my half of the island.  We are not in the same Zone.  It would be incredible to be companions with him some day, but unless it is in a leadership position like Zone Leader, it is more than unlikely).  I'm excited to hear our Holy Prophet's words of wisdom.  I will be preparing some questions in which I will be searching for answers that I can bring to Conference.  I cannot wait.  You're so lucky.  I miss watching it with you all.  I miss the French toast and bacon.  IT sounds great.  It's true that I only have two priesthood sessions left, but I want to think about that even less than I did before (and for me I still have three!).  Missions are short.
 What do I think about the missionary age?
I think it's great. Get people into the field. Get them serving. That's actually already a rule for Taiwanese born children, but get the Americans in the field at eighteen as well. If it means that they're more likely to go, get them out there! If young women are more likely to serve, get them out there too! Get them serving. Get them working. We should have had this revelation a year and a half ago so I could have left earlier! Let's get them working, get them home and get them in school. I worry about the maturity level of the already questionable missionaries, but the good outweighs the bad.
The fact that there is going to be a new temple in Arizona is outstanding. I love hearing about new temples. Taiwan will get another one in the next ten years if I had to guess. This country has a lot of members with only one temple that is incredibly far away for the people here in Gaoxiong so because of financial circumstances and lack of convenience many don't go. As soon as the people become better at fulfilling their temple covenants and their duty to go often, there will be a temple here in Gaoxiong. The church already owns the land for it, we're just waiting on the faith and works of the members. I am going to leap for joy the day that temple is announced.

I can't even describe how happy it made me when you said that you went to the temple.  I don't know why, but when I heard that I just got so happy inside that my parents go to the temple to remind themselves of the important covenants that they have made with our Lord.

Football sounds like fun.  I don't think about it much though.  Politics sounds great.  I heard about the debate here.  I heard Obama got destroyed.  Most Taiwanese don't understand politics at all nor care much what happens.  It's a pretty big deal that I heard about it here.  It must have been quite the debate.

For Christmas, I would love music.  I have none.  A new shirt and ATHLETIC SHORTS would be great.  I was originally under the misconception that we would wear casual clothes on preparation day but this is not the case.  The rulebook says not to when possible so me and my companion don't.  I don't need pants, I just need exercise clothing as mine is very worn and kind of gross.  I've lost a lot of weight so keep that in mind, but please send baggier shirts.  I would also love garments as mine are all very not white.  I don't NEED any of these things, but I since you asked, I figured that I would tell you.  I would also love a few REAL pictures of the family.  Perhaps in a small book or frame.  They're great for investigators, families in the ward, and my personal usage.  I don't know what else I really feel like I need that badly.  There are a lot of nice things that I don't need, but that's pretty much it.

My watch is working perfectly fine.  No problems whatsoever.  It's getting a little beat up, for which I apologize, but it's a really great watch.  Really durable.  It also reminds me of Dad whenever I see it.

I'm excited for your interview, Dad.  Prayer and pondering are key for preparation.  Read and pray daily.  Fast if possible.  I'm excited for you.  What a fantastic opportunity to speak one on one with the elite of the church.

My new companion?  Okay, I'll tell you:

We work great together.  I imagine that we will have a lot of success together and I hope that we can be together for another move-call after this (which aside from my trainer which is mandatory, has not happened yet).  He is about a month older than me in the real world and has been out on his mission for about five months (he hits his six month mark this month).  He's great.

I think that's about it for me this week.  It's been a wonderful week in which an entire family of four in which we're working with presently all came to church yesterday for three hours.  That's incredibly exciting.  Elder Forbes has the faith to move mountains and I imagine that we will see even more miracles in the coming week.  Please ask questions when you write, I love answering them. 

This gospel is great.  It means everything to me. I love this family more than you all know.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that we will be together forever.  Our family is eternal.

I love you all,

Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Going by...

Dear Mom, Dad, and Eric,

This week has been quite the shake up for me.  I have been overwhelmed with new responsibilities and the new area, but it's a wonderful time to be a missionary.  Nanzi is golden.  I'm transitioning into the middle group of missionaries now and I cannot believe how long I've been out.  I hate thinking about it.  I don't want to go home.  My trainer only has a few move-calls left now whereas before he had hit halfway while we were together.  I've been trying so hard to be everything that I can be.  I fear the day that I return, because I fear not accomplishing my goals and not becoming the best that I can be.  I've had my mind so focused on other responsibilities and getting to know the people, investigators, and ward, that I haven't looked at my personal goals much recently.  I just want to be good.

Thank you all for writing me this week.  I really appreciate the emails every week.  They strengthen me and remind me of my purpose (as they should).  I'm fortunate to have family members that seek after my well-being and desire to push me to keep working.  I thank you all for your fortitude, patience, and kindness.

I rode my bike through and area here in Nanzi called "Little America."  It's essentially an area that has grassy front yards and side-walks with thick, leafy trees and wide roads and gutters (not very similar to typical Taiwanese areas).  It was strange.  I'm not going to recognize America when I return.  Also, there are many Americans here for some reason.  I contacted one the other day and he told me to go talk to a wall.  I was surprised by how antagonist and rude he was.  I didn't take offense as much as I was surprised.  I just wish that people like that could have the gospel in their lives.  I just want people to listen to what I have to say.

Also, the day after moving here, I found out that we are moving to a different area.  So, Wednesday night (with permission) we packed everything up and Thursday we spent the day moving.  Unfortunately Elder Forbes and I are still feeling the effects of it upon our missionary work.  Moving twice in one week is difficult to handle, but we're still going on.  The new apartment is much bigger and new so it's really nice.  We're excited for the new set-up.

There's a wonderful man from California who serves in the Bishopric here who loves missionaries.  He bought us three giant boxes of cereal from Costco and a gallon of milk.  We're so grateful.

It sounds like home is as crazy as ever.  I can't believe President Critchlow is being released after all of this time.  He is an incredibly spiritual man who goes about doing good.  He helped this family so much and I'll be eternally grateful to him for it.  I wonder if higher callings await him. 

Thank you for the CTR ring.  I have a confession however.  At the moment, I can't find it.  I was wearing it daily, but when we moved (the second time) I think I may have lost it.  It's the only thing I lost, but regardless it's gone.  I'll keep looking for it, but I apologize for losing it so quickly.  I'm just grateful that it wasn't the ring from my youth.

It sounds like work is going well.  Keep it up.  Get fit!  Good luck, mom!  You're incredible!  I love you so much!  Write that book!

I can't believe that my Facebook is that crazy.  I remember singing those songs at a member's house on my last day in Shalu.  It's strange to think that that was almost two months ago.  The taller Elder is Elder Erickson, he is an incredible Elder who has become one of my best friends on my mission.  The shorter, brown-haired Elder is Elder White, my companion at that time.  The four of us were living together in Qingshui.

It's strange to think that Fall is coming.  The Mid-Autumn Festival was yesterday and it's a huge holiday here.  They love to give us these small pastries called Moon Cakes.  They have a sort of flaky outer layer with a particular filling.  The most common and most traditional is a whole egg in the center (I'll let you ponder about whether that's good or not for a minute), but some of them have ice cream, chocolate, hazelnut, pineapple, or other things.  Everyone barbecues on these old fashioned grills as well.  They're really hysterical, but it's tradition.  All in all a pretty fun holiday that led to many member referrals.

I'll keep Patriarch Phillips in my prayers.

To answer your questions:

1.  For Christmas?  I'm not sure.  Garments and NOT PURPLE OR BLACK OR GRAY ties would be great.  Some of my ties are pretty beat up (seeing as for whatever reason I only brought six with me) (the new ties are great!).  Also, I don't think that you can properly comprehend how much we sweat.  I've been in Taiwan for six months now and the color of my garments is, well, not white.  Aside from those things, I don't know.  I can't think of anything right off the top of my head.  I imagine Green Chili will be too hard to send (just kidding).  I suppose it will taste that much better when I return.  Oh yes, supposedly there is a Smokey Joe's in my area (Gaoxiong is much more urban as you can see) so I might go see if they have Mexican food someday.  Perhaps in the next email you can give me suggestions for what you think would be good to put in the box for Christmas.  I can't think of things right now.

2. The mail system is wonderful in this mission.  Everyone sends everything to the mission home and then the mission home redirects everything to the specific apartment.  So don't worry about time delays at all.  It will get to me in the same amount of time that it gets to Taiwan.

3.  I took out the money to fix my bike and send a package home, but we moved and I had to pay for the replacement of air conditioners.  What that means is that I need to send in about $130+ dollars of reimbursements today.  Needless to say, I haven't had a chance to replace the things that need replacing yet.

4.  I don't know how much money I need in there.  I would like to know how much is in there when you do put money in however.  I would just like to be aware of what I can use.  I'm trying to take pictures, but I didn't take that many in my last area.  I think I am going to burn a DVD and send all of my pictures home for you to look at.  We have a place that does that right by our apartment.  I'll try to take more pictures.

I love you all so much.  I'm so thankful for your care for me.  You don't need to send me packages and worry about me too much.  I'm still fine.  I love being asked questions because I don't always know what to write.  Please keep them coming.  They're my favorite.  Keep praying and reading daily.  It's a commandment.  It keeps us pure and holy.  Repent often.  Seek the Lord in all things.  Magnify your callings.  I love you all, and I hope that you remember that this church is more than a three-hour tradition once a week. 

- Elder Woolsey