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