Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Sunday, February 24, 2013

To Taizhong and back...

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, Belle, and Coffee,

I would like to begin by apologizing.  I didn't tell you last week that I wouldn't be emailing this week until today.  We had a "Missionary Meeting" where Elder Watson, the Asia Area President, and Elder Evans of the Missionary Board and member of the first quorum of the 70 came to meet with all of the Taizhong missionaries.  We spent the entire day from 8 in the morning to night about 8:30 traveling to and from as well as attending this meeting.  It was exciting to hear the inspired words from our leaders.  We were taught several Zone Conferences worth of information in about two to three hours.  We learned how to write letters, we learned about the influx of new missionaries, seeking referrals, talking with and not to people, and much, much, more.  It was so wonderful. They are such wonderful men filled with the spirit of the Lord.  Their remarks were incredibly inspired.  I felt like I learned a lot about how to become a missionary.  He was very direct with us which I think was very beneficial for all missionaries.

It is also the beginning of POWER WEEK.  Every day we have a new goal that we need to achieve.  Yesterday was placing fifteen copies of the Book of Mormon and exchanging information for following up on reading.  Elder Magnuson and I had a blast.  We accomplished the goal and then, as instructed, called President Bishop to inform him, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED."  We worked incredibly hard and had a blast every minute.  I can't wait for tomorrow's POWER WEEK challenge.  Every day we leave at nine o'clock and eat on the go.  It's so much fun.  

It sounds like everyone at home is working hard.  I hope that things keep going well for everyone.  You all are so great.  I'm grateful for your loving guidance in all things.  Mom and Dad, you are the greatest parents that I could ever ask for, and Eric, you are the shining example that EVERY little brother needs.  I hope that you all keeping inspiring me to work hard. 

Valentine's Day seems to have gone well considering Dad was out of town and a lot of construction was happening to the house.  I hope that everything went smoothly.  The house is going to look totally different when I return.  I've said that many times, but that's alright.  I just hope you're all happy.  I for sure am, so don't fret Mom.

I can't quite wrap my head around the idea of Elder Manning having come home. That's  astounding.  The time in the mission field is so very, very, brief.  I imagine that he was an outstanding missionary.  His abilities with people far transcend my own and many others.  I believe that he loved every single minute of his mission and accomplished a lot of good.  I just hope that when I return I can believe the same about my own mission.  I just want to do good.  I want to change.  I have been allotted such a short amount of time to change everything about myself.  I'm not changing fast enough, but I'm trying to.  I can't help enough people.  I'm trying to do everything I know how to do, but I can never get anywhere near where I'm supposed to be.  I feel a little bit like when I was little and I would ask for something and Mom would let my fingertips touch it and then pull away and I would have to keep reaching and reaching for it, but in reality it was never in my control, but in Mom's.  I'm struggling to change and to be what I'm supposed to be, but I feel like when the Lord feels that I'm submissive, humble, and prepared, he will allow me to change and improve.

I imagine that Elder Jensen is doing an incredible job in Russia.  His faith and dedication are astounding and steadfast.  I'm grateful that
i could say that he is one of my best friends.  I admire his example of patience and long-suffering.  He is the kind of person that I want to associate with after my mission and forever.  His values and standards are those of one who is preparing for Celestial Glory and I admire it so very much.  

There's not a ton to say about Chinese New Year that I haven't already said.  We get fed every night and everyone tries to give us these red envelopes with money in them.  
We must refuse them each time.  Every night as we were about to fall asleep, a slew of fireworks would be shot off. Music blares and almost no one is working for about nine days.  It's quite the commotion, but we didn't see any dragon parades unfortunately.  You eat a lot of hot pots during Chinese New Year which is like a big pot of boiling "hodge-podge".  Kind of like fish balls, and vegetables all stewing away. We have a bowl of rice and then we grab what we want.  That is essentially what you eat the entire holiday.  It's really tasty.

I ate "Mexican food" on an exchange last week and it was pretty good. It didn't quite taste right as the rice was more Taiwanese and the meat was as well, but I thought it was an exciting option suggested by my companion at that time (I went to his area).

Am I going to transfer?  I don't know.  I hope not.  I have been here for a few months now and the longer you are in an area the more likely you are to move, but I really can't be certain.  If I move I don't know where I would go.  I've spent half of my time in Taiwan in this one area and I love it.  It feels like my whole mission has been here in a way.  If I do, you'll be the first to know. I don't really want to think about it.

Mom, Dad, and Eric, I love you all so much.  I love knowing that my family is strong in the faith of God.  I know that this gospel is true and that nothing on the face of the planet can stop it.  I couldn't deny the truthfulness of this message even if I tried to.  I love my Savior and I'm grateful for His holy sacrifice.  He died for me.  He knows me.  The sooner we submit to the will of the Father, the sooner we qualify for the healing of the Atonement.  If I live to be a hundred years old, I will never, from this day onward, deny my Savior.  I cannot. I will not.  I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  In 1820 he saw the Savior and Heavenly Father in a grove of trees in upstate New York.  He was fourteen years old.  Through the power of a mighty God he translated an ancient record buried centuries prior into what is now known as the Book of Mormon, a testament of our Redeemer's teachings on the American Continent.  It is a true book.  He did come, and He will come again.  We are to read it and pray every single day of our lives.  Please do.  It will open your minds to understanding and like I said, qualify you for those precious blessings that wait behind the door of obedience.

I love you and miss you daily.  Don't worry about me.  I'm in the service of God.

- Elder Woolsey

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Chinese New Year

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, Belle, and Coffee,

This has been a rather eventful week for us here in Taiwan.  It's the Chinese New Year here and things are getting crazy.  It's hard not to feel like the Chinese New Year is a masterful scheme designed by Satan himself to dismantle missionary work.  I adore the festivities, and I would love to be a tourist here, but church attendance drops like a rock, all of our investigators returned home, and ever member possible is feeding us.  Now, on the surface this sounds great, but I want to be out on the roads finding prepared so badly and we are seeing a slight influence on our numbers.  Speaking of members feeding us, we literally are being fed by families every lunch and dinner for a week.  I feel like an American missionary!  I don't know how they get anything done.  Each dinner or lunch appointment is an hour and traveling/trying to find home is consuming our time.  We're using this effectively to find Member-Referrals, but it's still difficult to adapt so abruptly.  It's sad that I only get one.

There are fireworks, and foods, and worshiping of idols like would not believe.  The Chinese New Year is the time of year for this country.  You all would have a lot of fun if you were on vacation here at this time.  It's exhilarating.

Another thing that you would probably like to know all about that I'll go ahead and tell you is that I interviewed with President Bishop this last Thursday.  We discussed extensions/return dates a little bit.  He told me that there is an extension that he can give me of 30-days, but that he doesn't really like giving it.  He also said that it may be possible to return home for the Winter semester in which case he would invite me to do so.  I didn't know how I felt about the entire situation until this interview at which point President Bishop and I had one of those moments that completely changed our relationship.  He first of all remembered that I loved to write.  He then used that to analogously relate the situation to a story saying that every great story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  He said that no matter how great the story, it must in fact end, and it will end.  As he told me this, his eyes filled with tears.  I don't know if he thought of stepping down from being a mission president or if he thought of his own mission, but the thought touched his heart with emotions I can't articulate, but only felt.  He then said that after it ends, we are responsible to take the things that we have learned and go and be the best son, brother, student, etc. that we know how to be.  I love President Bishop.  He made me finally wrap my head about things a bit.  The mission is a refining period.  I am meant to be learning so that I can be an even greater tool in the Lord's hand afterward.  Part of the further training is education.  I still don't know if I can go home in time to make it for the semester, but if I can, I think I will.  I want to be here forever, but my mission president is more wise than I am.

Now, in terms of classes, I don't really have a clue.  I don't remember a lot.  I would suggest working with BYU and a counselor to help me set up classes that I still need to take.  If you have more specific questions like (BIO 256 or CHEM 300), I will be able to answer easier, but right now it's a little bit difficult.  I apologize, but I need you to do a lot of legwork on that department for me.  I don't have a major nor do I know what I should take.  I'm interested in Business, Law, of course Writing, and Medicine.  I don't know how I am going to decide from those though.  I really need another interview with my mission president.  Speaking of which, my new mission president's name is President
Blickenstaff.  I don't know much about him, but he looks great.

I'm sorry that Eric has been sick.  That's so hard.  I hate being sick, and luckily for me, the Lord has protected me on my mission. I won't get sick as long as I'm obedient and righteous.  I've never gone this long before in my life without being sick.  I have confidence in the Lord that I won't get sick anytime soon either.

Ok, so Coffee is pretty cute.  I'll admit it.

I can't believe all the changes that have happened to the house over the last year.  The house will be the same basic structure, but everything will be so different when I return.  I'm actually excited for the changes.  They'll be exciting.  I used to be and in many ways still am like Eric in that I didn't like change, but I'm honestly excited for them for some reason.  I think it's primarily attributed to the fact that I'm used to this massive change and that when I return I expect tons of changes.
The snow sounds dreadful.  I haven't seen snow in about a year and I'm grateful for it.  I don't miss it much.  Especially that much.  Keep working hard.  Spring is coming soon.

A care package?  I don't really need a lot I suppose.  I wouldn't mind some hand-written letters.  Other than that, there's not much I really need.  I feel rather content here.  Sometime in the not-too-distant future I may send a lot of mission things home, because they are beginning to accrue a bit.

How's everyone in Arizona?

Is everyone happy?  What are you all doing every day to be happy?

How have you all developed your relationship with God lately?

Any questions for me?

I love you all so very much.  Keep working hard and go out of your way to serve each other.  The Lord wants us to be happy so do it.

- Elder Woolsey

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Things are heating up.

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, Belle, and Coffee,

Well, it has been another week in paradise.  The work seems to be going very well in Taiwan right now.  The mission has had many meetings recently, one of which completely revolutionized the English Program here.  Incredible missionaries like Elder Bailey and Elder Wang took the initiative to take the bull by the horns and create new text-books, advertising, responsibilities, and other mechanics to take our "free English class" and turn it into a well-oiled, primed, efficient machine that will not only actually help the people of Taiwan improve English and many baptisms will follow.

Mom, Dad, Eric, I have never been so happy.  I love the work of the Lord.  I really have a sense of self efficacy.  I feel that as I work my hardest, it will help the mission, and that the mission will help the church.  The Lord allows His missionaries to have this feeling when they try their best.  I've been here for a year, and to be honest, it does not get old.  I love being able to be a tool in the Lord's hands to perhaps bring souls unto Him. 

I can't believe that the weather has been that miserable in America.  It has been getting warmer and warmer here.  With the increase in temperature comes an increase in sweating.  It will be blazing hot before too much longer, of that I am sure.

 A missionary that returned home a while ago came back to visit Taiwan recently.  He told the missionary he trained not to fret about entertainment, or changes at home because it's all there when he returns.  I firmly believe that.  He did say however that you miss your family growing up.  So, to combat this, I exhort you all: You are not allowed to change until I return.  I'm just kidding, but I do miss you all a lot.

The ward changes are exciting, but I imagine that everyone is doing great in their respective callings.  I'm also happy that you accepted the missionaries' invitation to speak with your neighbor. 

Why are the Lakers doing poorly?  It seems as though they should be succeeding with their incredible line-up.  That's very strange to me.

My language is still improving, but it doesn't feel as explosive as it did when I first came to Taiwan.  We as a companionship, typically speaking in Chinglish.

I have not discussed release dates with President Bishop.  We have interviews with the Mission President this week, but I don't know whether or not he will bring it up.  I personally don't think that I will ask him about it because, but if he asks about it, we can discuss it at that point.

 I'm excited about all of the friends who have decided to serve because of the lowered age requirement.  I'm excited to see how these people change over the course of the next 1.5-2 years. 

I apologize that this email is so short, but we don't have much time today.  I love you all so much. I know that the Lord lives and loves you all very much.  This week we had the opportunity to be with a short-term (one-week) missionary to give him a taste of missionary life.  Brother Huang is already an incredible missionary with a powerful testimony.  I believe that he will be a blessing wherever he ends up serving.  I admire his testimony.  I wish that mine was that strong at sixteen.  His understanding of people and such is remarkable for someone so young.  I love seeing the youth of Taiwan already be this strong.

I love you.

- Elder Woosley