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,