Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle,
I was a little awestruck when you mentioned that I had been out for ten months. I had no idea that i had hit that mark. I can't believe that I have been out in the field for so long. It's truly astounding to me. It feels like a long time, but a short time as well. Soon, when I reflect back to where I was a year ago, it will have been in Taiwan. I don't know how to describe that feeling. If I'm being honest, I expect Christmas to be a little difficult. I haven't even thought of Thanksgiving and I imagine Thursday to be just fine. The call home on Mother's Day was difficult. When we do our best every day and constantly work, it's easy not to think of home, but when we step back and do something like call home, it hits us. I'm looking forward to speaking to all of you, but I'm not extremely excited for the effects. We also will have a missionary activity which should be noteworthy.
So this week has been really exciting in that we had Elder Wilson of the Quorum of the 70 visit the mission for a tour. At the end, a few missionaries were selected to interview with Elder Wilson. Having not been selected, we began to return to our area promptly, when my Zone Leader, Elder Allen stopped me and told me that I would actually be interviewing with him. I was more than surprised. It's a little nerve-wracking to interview with an Authority that high in the church. I suppose I know how Dad felt a little bit. He began by asking how I've been doing, if I get along with my companion (like asking about mom), asked about my whole family (similar to dad's question), specifically our history in the church. As it turns out, when he was really, really, young his Dad used to smoke a lot and he remembers big clouds of smoke in the kitchen, but when he was a young child his parents became active, but he still has those memories that stick with him. He also had a similar experience as I have had with the Book of Mormon in that we had a powerful conviction that it was true after reading through it and praying sincerely (that was his and my most powerful testimony in the gospel). He then proceeded to tell me that I can't understand at this point in my life the lasting affects of a mission. He says that the people of Brazil (where he served) still call him Angel Wilson because of his bringing the gospel to them. He also had the privilege of baptizing the father of a family where he helped the mother and son get baptized forty years previously. He said that it was a strange feeling to stand in the same font, still with the title Elder, in the same country, in the same language, with the same family, in the same white clothes, as forty years previously. He told me that I cannot understand at this point in my life. He asked if I had ANY QUESTIONS. My mind was racing and the only thing I managed to ask for was an extension and he said that it wasn't really his realm of influence, but he said that I probably could and commended the desire to serve for two full years. It was quite the experience, but altogether too brief. I wish I had hours with him, but I felt like I didn't want to waste his time with menial and trivial matters. What would you all have done?? I want answers to that question (not rhetorical).
A nice man in our ward (the American) bought me and my companion a pumpkin pie, American Ice cream (yes, mom, there is a massive difference), stuffing, and a frozen lasagna from Costco. I think I'm going to give most of it to my companion because i don't want to put on weight, but can you imagine how nice that man is! Elder Forbes and I wrote him a card while we were together and we promptly delivered it to him yesterday. What a wonderful man.
It sounds like home is doing well for the most part. Biking is going well. Movies. The weather. Family in Arizona (for the most part at least). I hope that grandma Wilkes and Grandpa Woolsey are hanging in there. That's really interesting what you said about the letter home. I didn't know I did that. Very interesting. Also, do you still have that "Dan Jones" video from when I first came to Taiwan? The one with me testifying and stuff? I hope so! I'll now answer your questions:
1. Training is definitely a unique experience where tons of responsibility is placed upon you that I hadn't previously realized. I can decide whether we are going to be obedient, whether we work hard, what we eat, whether we keep the rules, etc. I have so much influence that it's staggering, but I've been working really hard and been more obedient than ever before on my mission. I'm always in bed at 10:30, always study on time, always working, keeping industrious, never slighting or skirting rules. I promise that I'm not abusing this responsibility in any way shape or form, Mom and Dad.
2. My pants seem to be fine for the most part. I need to dry clean my suits. I have two pairs of pants that are huge. I need to buy smaller ones or get them altered, because they are honestly ridiculously big. I have lost a lot of weight, yes, but they are huge regardless. The two coupled together results in embarrassingly large pants.
3. Honestly, much to my surprise, it's cooling down. Most days are pretty warm still, but early mornings and nights are very cool and honestly very refreshing. It rained yesterday and I got a little cold. My new companion laughed at me because he thought it was hot still compared to when he left Utah. I think it's pretty cold personally, but I'm a wuss with weather now. I'm just so used to constantly sweating and sticking to things. It will be interesting to see the difference when I actually go home during the winter.
Well my time is almost up. I love you all so much. Tell me all about Thanksgiving and how everyone is doing. Keep being great examples for me of diligence, obedience, and love.