Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, and Belle,
Well, to be honest, the last few weeks have been rather difficult for me. Training is a lot more than it is cracked up to be, but it runs much deeper than that. I honestly love the training part even though it is difficult. It's exciting to see another missionary grow so quickly. It tries your patience, your endurance, your faith, your commitment, your obedience, etc. A trainer's example sets the standard for the rest of the missionary's entire mission. This is what they should expect. This is what they should be doing. This is missionary work.
I had the opportunity to interview with President Bishop. This happens once every other move call and it's a wonderful opportunity to have some short face time with an inspired man of God. I adore President Bishop. I have faith that he has been called of God and receives specific revelation, not only for this mission and the people on the southern half of the Taiwanese island, but that he receives revelation for me. He knows how I'm doing through that inspiration and blesses me life as a worthy instrument in the hands of God. In the interview we discussed the goals we set during the Mission Tour with Elder Wilson of the 70. President Bishop helped me to take those goals and ensure that they have plans associated with them, that they're not just vain wishes. We discussed Nanzi, progressing investigators, and what can be done to further the work. The interview was very brief to be perfectly honest, but great regardless. Sister Bishop made cookies (something you can't seem to find in Taiwan unless made my an American). Oatmeal and chocolate chip. Oh boy they were good. She took my picture and sent it to you as well. To be honest, it's an awful picture of me in my opinion, but oh well. I don't need to impress people (beyond looking like a servant of God) for another year. We received training on Follow-Ups, which was wonderful because it's exactly what I've needed to improve on recently. It's sad to think that he only has six months or so left.
I have a couple of other questions:
1. What are some quick and easy recipes (like super quick and super easy)?
2. What are some ideas for a Christmas party (the ward has asked us because we're Americans and they don't really celebrate Christmas very much in Taiwan)?
Also, there was a tender mercy on Sunday. We were teaching a less-active member who Elder Forbes, Elder Cutler, the Spirit, and I completely returned to full activity. She even has a calling now! The point is, we were teaching her (finishing up the basic lessons) and at the end she asked for a blessing. I was fortunate enough to give that blessing. I honestly had many feelings as I did it and was prompted to say the things that I did. When I finished, she was in tears. It was a tender mercy amid some trial recently. Elder Cutler and I also met a family who wants the gospel to help his son. We're more than willing to share, to say the least.
On to your email:
With regards to missionaries getting half-calls to China, I've heard it here too. Apparently it's a big rumor in the MTC. No one can show facts however. I'm pretty sure that the church would announce it if it were true.
I like the pictures, they're fun. Please continually send pictures! I love seeing you all. I haven't seen Eric in quite some time ( I don't think creepy zombie Halloween Eric really counts either).
We do not get to see the Christmas Devotional unfortunately. I wish we did, but such is the way of a missionary I suppose. If you could send copies of the talks in the Christmas package, that would be fantastic! I don't plan on opening any of those things until the appropriate day. I love what you said about Thomas S. Monson being a prophet, Dad. For that, he surely is. I remember when Gordon B. Hinckley passed away. It was a difficult transition for me, because he was all I knew. Even after Thomas S. Monson was President for some time, there wasn't much of an attachment. Coming here, I have read many of his words and articles about his life. I know that he is a Prophet of God without a shadow of a doubt. I would deeply, deeply, encourage you all to pick up a copy of "On The Lord's Errand" (of which I recently picked up a copy myself). It is incredibly inspiring and gives a lot of great background into the life of our current Prophet. It's only 60 minutes, but thoroughly enjoyable.
With regards to earthquakes: yes. Often? I don't know what counts as often. There was a pretty big one that I felt very distinctly one night when I was at the church house. Everything shook and the doors to the baptismal font made quite the ruckus. Supposedly there was one at around midnight a few nights ago, but I didn't notice.
It's getting cold here. I think they're taking the cold of Utah and depositing it here in Taiwan. I'm not used to this damp cold. It's very penetrating.
It's strange to think that I'm almost twenty years old, no longer a teenager. It's not a thought I much care to think about, but not thinking about it doesn't make it any less strange. It's odd to think that you all don't really know everything that has happened for an entire year of my life aside from what I tell you. Thank you all so much for blessing me throughout my entire life. I've never been as thankful as I should have been. I have had incredibly patient, kind, loving parents for twenty long years. If that's not consistency, I don't know what is. Thank you all for your examples and kindness. I hope this week goes well for you all.