Dear Mom (Birthday Queen), Dad, Eric, and Belle,
I am blown away. Honestly, blown away, by all of you. I'm astonished and impressed by your constant diligence and love for the Lord. Home sounds happy, peaceful, progressive, and full of nurturing by "the good word of God." A tender mercy that I have realized since coming to Taiwan is the influence that one decision that I didn't understand a year and a half ago, to enter my mission papers, would make on those around me. As I read the email this week, my body brimmed with excitement, gratitude, and love for a family that has worked so hard and so diligently to love the Lord. That picture that you sent me of you and mom touched my heart. I feel like your bond has been strengthened and nurtured since my having left home. There is the fact that I have improved as well, but that influence stretches far beyond our family's boundary. I received a letter from Kameron (please remove full names in the blog posts please) this last week. Does that name sound familiar? Well...I can say that I was more than a little confused as upon closer inspection discovered the titled affixed at the front of his name: ELDER. My heart skipped a beat as when I left he had told me that he questioned whether the church was true and had never read the Book of Mormon. I opened the card to find that he had found my mission experience to be an example to him and that he had, over the course of the last year, developed a testimony of the Savior. He is now serving in New Jersey (I think), English speaking. What a joy that was to see. I had a similar experience prior to leaving, in which another one of my close friends said that since my call, he felt like he needed to follow my example and serve whereas before he questioned his ability. He is now serving on the east coast Spanish speaking. Elder Apsley has also written me about that example saying that he just wants to change and follow his Savior and that he's grateful for my change. These things fill my soul with joy. My last companion was having similar experiences. He questioned for a long time whether he wanted to serve and when he decided to go, a friend of his said that his example changed him and helped him decide to serve. Think of the lives that are being touched and the service that is being rendered all over the world! We didn't think much of what we were doing at the time. I didn't understand what a mission was, but now I realize that it's small and simple things that add up to great things. I will never for a day in my life regret serving.
It sounds like Mom's birthday went off without a hitch. I miss home when I hear of such festivities and fun times. I can't imagine doing those things very well right now, but I bet it's exciting. A great missionary, Elder Olsen went home this last week. He was in my District last move call. What an incredible Elder! He lives somewhere in Utah. I don't know his information really, but it would be cool if you could find some of these people who served around me and hear of their incredible experiences. I'll tell you right now that that Elder loves people. There may be a Taiwan Taichung Facebook page or something that could lead you to these people that I've served around. It's just a thought that just barely came to me. I bet mom adored those slippers, the food, Cinderella, and the other movie. It sounds like a wonderful time and the renovations of the house are going to make the place unrecognizable, but that's OK. It will be fun to see the change. Those changes seem like old hat to you all, but incredibly strange still to me. But, either way, time is moving incredibly fast, and will never slow down no matter how often I tell it to. I'll be home soon.
I wish I could have heard you speak, Dad. The best talk I ever heard you share was in Stake Conference shortly after we moved to Utah. You shared about Grandma's passing and how it changed your life. I remember crying and I remember the way it made me feel. I bet yesterday's talk was just as moving and inspirational. Thanks for being worthy, willing, and able to represent the Lord.
Win LOTOJA, eh? I have a really cool poem I want to share with you, but I don't have it on me right now. I think it will explain what it will take for you to win. It's really descriptive, you would like it. I think you can do it, Dad. I have confidence in you. Just put it all on the line and enlist the Lord's help and you can't go amiss.
I love that scripture you sent. I had a different insight about a week ago on it that I'm not sure I shared with you or not about before I served a mission, but I think it fits perfectly with the current political situation. One thing that I have learned on my mission: THE LORD GRANTS UNTO US WHAT WE DESIRE (ALMA 29!!!!). This is truth. If we desire change and spiritual enlightenment, we will get it. If we aspire to the hearts of men, we will get it. If we want to follow the philosophies of men and seek after carnal indulgences and wickedness WE WILL GET IT. It all comes down to what we desire. The Lord adores His children and being such, He gives us what we want. This doesn't eliminate trials, but regardless the end result is always what we want. I want to want a lot of things so that I can desire them and develop certain attributes. There's power in our desires.
A call to China?! I'm a little confused, but very interested. What does that mean exactly? Where is he finishing his mission? What an experience it must be to be one of the first in that blessed land! David O. McKay consecrated China and East Asia (including Taiwan) for missionary work. It's a golden and blessed land. The church is skyrocketing here. The members are so strong, it's truly astounding. I can't wait to hear about the growth here in 20-30-50 years. I can't wait till a Gaoxiong temple is built. The church already has the land, they're just waiting on the worthy members in the area to utilize the Taibei temple first. I wish there could be three (well, fifty would be even better, but...) one in Taibei, one in Taizhong, and one in Gaoxiong (all three of the major cities). How wonderful would that be?
Well. I apologize for not having more to say this week. It's been a great week and we've been doing our best to help people progress toward baptism. We have some great goals right now and I honestly believe they can hit them.
I love you all. Keep it up.