Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Swift Changes and Evolving

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

I'll begin by answering questions. 

How is singing the hymns in Chinese?  At first it's strange, but now I'm used to it.  They don't rhyme as they are supposed to be as close to an exact translation as possible.  Instead of 350+ hymns, there are only 200 exactly.  I have sung them so much that when I hum a tune, most of the time I end up singing the Chinese version.  You obviously don't sing the tones when singing in Chinese.  We carry miniature Chinese hymnbooks wherever we go and sing in most lessons.  Music brings the spirit.  The church is the same here in Taiwan as in America. My current ward is the heart of Taizhong and it honestly feels like a Utah ward except a different language.  There are tons of people and many are not first generation LDS.  It's nothing like the struggling parts of Taiwan I've experienced before.  This ward is thriving.

New companion this week?  Yes.  My companion is leaving on Friday to white wash train in the southern most part of the island.  White wash means that he's opening a new area, not switching with another missionary.  He will also be training a new missionary at the same time.  Starting from nothing will be hard.  Starting from nothing with a missionary that doesn't know how to be a missionary will be harder.  He's a good missionary though.  He'll do well.  He actually goes home soon.

Care package?  Negative.  I have not received it.  That being said, I usually receive it the day you ask.

We are always on exchanges (three this week).  At night we are doing follow-ups constantly.  We gather numbers, we plan meetings (this week we had a demonstration of a bad first lesson in a training meeting with President Bishop and the Assistants which was hilarious and a lot of fun).  There's a lot of time that is consumed, but it is rewarding and the Lord blesses you for your efforts. 

While on exchanges we saw a miracle though.  A man stopped me on the road and said that he had seen me three times this week.  He said that he has met with missionaries before and didn't get baptized because he couldn't come to church enough at that time.  Now he has more time.  He will likely be baptized soon.  He said that the first time he saw me, he was thinking of those missionaries that he had met with previously and how he desired to see them again and be baptized as well.  He then knew that the third time he saw me, it was because of the Lord.  He will likely be baptized soon.

The house keeps changing.  I'm excited to see all of that when I return.  March Madness sounds like a lot of fun, but it's sad that BYU didn't get in.  It also sounds freezing.  Things are getting hotter here and it's raining more and more.  22 new missionaries are coming this week and 14 are staying at our apartment.  That should be fun.  We get to take them all running the next morning.  It should be great.

I can't believe that so many people are going on missions.  It sounds like everyone was really affected by President Monson's call to serve.  The 19 year old sisters and 18 year old Elders come on in this next wave.  We're incredibly excited to see how they are different from previous missionaries.

Tell BYU that I'll be there for Winter Semester.  I deferred enrollment while I was at BYU so it should be easy to start that back up again.  Please inform them and have them find my deferment.

I'm glad that Mom's doing well in Primary and that Dad is working hard in cycling and work.  It must be hard to travel that much.  Eric also seems to be doing very well.  I love hearing of my family's successes.  You all are so great.  I know that the Lord is blessing you all for your hard work, diligence, and obedience.

I suppose I don't have a ton to say.  I will next week though.  A lot of changes are happening: new missionaries, new companion, etc.  I'll keep you posted on all of this.  I love that you asked questions this week.  I would love to hear more.  Keep them coming.  It makes writing the email easier and more focused.  Keep it up!

- Elder Woolsey

Friday, March 22, 2013

Swimming in the deep end

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

Thank you so much for taking time to write me every week.  I love seeing such extensive letters from all of you so often.  Every week for over a year now, you have written long letters that have kept me informed on detailed information that has keep me in full connection with all things happening at home.  I love it.  Thank you.

It's a strange feeling being here in Taizhong I decided.  Today is a rainy day and it feels so much like when I first came to Taiwan, seeing as I was trained in North Taizhong of Shalu.  The weather is becoming the same as it was last April when I landed and memories of those first few days are flooding back.  I remember my trainer who was so excited to see me on a younger move-call than I am on now.  I remember riding really hard and really far that first day and loving every minute of it.  I now think of how my trainer has only a little over a move-call to go before he has to return to America.  And what a wonderful missionary he has been!  Funny enough, he is no longer the assistant to the president, he has now stepped down and is serving once again in SHALU where he was a year ago with me.  If I had to guess, I imagine that he will likely train again with his short time left before he returns home.

I am now allowed to email all of my friends and other family members.  Please inform all of this and invite all who have the desire to do so to write me.  It's an official announcement by the missionary board, so I can write other missionaries as well.  I would love to hear from others and their experiences, so if there's any way of informing them, I would appreciate it.

 I hope that all things go well.  Keep me posted on all that you decide to do and what I can do here to help you.  I know that I don't have a huge efficacy not being there, but I'm willing to share my thoughts on whatever you say and such.  Of course the best course of action is to consult with the Lord.  He is the most important person to ask.  Remove those pavilions and you will have no problems.  The Lord has a plan for our family and I think it entails being very close.

Also, it sounds as though your cycling ventures are going well as well.  I can't believe that you are so physically fit.  I have a small confession to make.  When I teach the Word of Wisdom, I often use dad as an example of how the word of wisdom can change someone's life.  I usually mention a previously less healthy state and now that you're more fit than I am.  My investigators always get wide eyes and laugh because to be honest, I'm in pretty good shape right now.

Taizhong is on fire right now.  It is a wonderful zone to be in.  It's the heartland of this mission and I'm very convinced that Elder Hoopes and I are going to continue to see success, even if we only have another week and a half together.  I better learn the area quick!  He's a relatively famous missionary by missionary standards as most people know that he trained younger than any other missionary in this mission for many, many, many, years.  Our thoughts on missionary work are very similar so we are already hitting the ground running.  We dropped in a WEEK A investigator this last week which means without previously having a goal, we helped an investigator set one for that week and pass an interview.  When this is the case, we have to first call president bishop and get permission to baptize him that same week.  To make a long story short, we had a baptism last Saturday.  He's an awesome kid that my companion has been working with for the last six months. I'm grateful that I was able to come here and help him prepare for baptism in such a short amount of time.  We are going to try it again on another investigator who has come to church for four weeks straight for three hours each time, but unfortunately hasn't really been progressing toward baptism.  He has a testimony, but just doesn't feel very ready.  This area is golden and we plan to set it ablaze.

The Zone is wonderful.  There are about 24 missionaries (in this Zone).  We exchange with all of the Elders in the Zone at least once to observe missionary work and train. We have all of their numbers and it is our goal to help everyone in the zone use their time effectively and to teach others how to baptize.  We have a specialized training meeting this Thursday in which we have to present some things.  It's more responsibility than I've had in any other previous assignment and it's more difficult on the area because we exchange so much, but it's wonderful being so close to so many different missionaries.  It's also interesting to note that all other missionaries watch you now.  We have to be obedient.  We have to be the example.  This zone, fortunately, is wonderful.  

Thank you for sharing your personal experience with me about Jared's accident, Dad.  I'm grateful that you are willing to share such a sacred experience.  I know without a doubt that everything you said is true.  I know less and understand less than you do, but I believe it.

What you said is true.  My time is growing short and it will be great to see you all again.  I fear returning home knowing that I won't be doing exactly what I love. This work is wonderful and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.  I do want to see you all though.  Thank you for caring for me so very much.  Don't worry about me. I plan to sprint to the end of this race and collapse at the finish line at the airport.  I love you all.  Don't worry about me. 

- Elder Woolsey

Friday, March 15, 2013

Back in the heartland

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

This has likely been the most crazy and defining week of my mission since I first came to Taiwan.  This week, is the new MOVE CALL or transfer as most people in the church know it to be named.  Having served in Nanzi for HALF of my time in Taiwan, I imagined that I would likely move.  I don't know if you all realized that I was there for so long, but I was and I loved every moment of every day.  When I think of Taiwan, and being on a mission, I think of Nanzi.  I think of this 7/11 we often made calls at . I think of the NANZI EXPORT PROCESSING ZONE (a manufacturing area for semiconductors and other things of that nature).  I think of the wonderful Elders I have served with and the wonderful success we saw.  Well, aside from those brief sentiments, I'm sure you're curious as to what happened.

First and foremost, Elder Magnuson and I had the privilege of seeing four of our investigators enter the waters of baptism and be confirmed as members of this wonderful church Sunday morning.  These individuals' faith and desire to serve the Lord is astounding.  I'm grateful that I could be in such a wonderful area for so long, long enough to see this success, purely from the Lord.  I knew that you would be happy about this.

The next major change was that the page of my mission has turned and a new chapter begun.  I've moved.  I went all the way from the south in Gaoxiong to the very north in Taizhong.  I'm actually right in the heart of the mission.  My area includes the mission home and all that comes with that.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  I don't feel qualified and I feel completely out of my element: a new area, a new companion, a new assignment, but that all being said, I know that the Lord will lead me and my companion.  There are people here that need to be baptized and they will be.  My new companion's name is Elder Hoopes.  He's amazing.  He's quite a bit older than me in missionary terms (being on his 13th move-call).  He's a diligent missionary who has baptized a lot here in Taizhong.  I wouldn't be surprised if he continues to baptize a lot more on his mission.  He was actually companions with my trainer Elder Haag right before he became the assistant to the President.  I've already been told that I'm supposed to lead this new area after three weeks (less than one move-call which is far from typical).  The assistants to the president are in this Zone and so are many other older missionaries.  I don't want to give off the vibe that I'm terrified, because I'm extremely excited.  I can't wait to see what we get done here. 

Because of the train ride and other activities that we've had to take care of this morning, I don't have a ton of time to write, but I knew that you would like to know all of that information. 

 I'm grateful that the Lord has blessed our family so much in the short time that I have been in Taiwan.  The blessings of heaven are tremendous and innumerable.  I don't doubt that we are witnessing the hand of God in all that we do.  I'm grateful that Eric is doing so well in all facets as well.

I hope that you all are doing well and that this email finds you safe and sound.  I love this gospel.  I rejoice in the truthfulness of it.  I'm trying as hard as I can to be the best missionary that I can be out here.  Thank you for your love and support and confidence in me.  Seek obedience.

- Elder Woolsey

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The time is far spent

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

Wow, how i miss you all.  You all are amazing.  I'm so grateful every night to have parents and a brother that simply love me.  You all are so successful right now and I know it's because of your unwavering allegiance to the banner of Christ.  You never let up during adversity and lift a warning call to all who will listen.  Thank you for setting such an amazing example of diligence and dignity.
The mission is going great.  I constantly feel as though there is no time left to improve and I'm not going to live up to the expectations I have set for myself by the end of my mission.  I love serving the Lord, but I can't progress fast enough.  I just want to be good and do everything that I'm supposed to do.  I have big plans for when I return to be the best and most hard working that I can be.  I know I sound like a broken record, but I just want to be good.

I'm happy that Elder Manning's return was that great.  I know he was a fantastic missionary.

This last week we had POWER WEEK.  Elder Magnuson and I worked as hard as we could to break personal records and do our best.  We had a lot of success.  We sweat a lot and helped many people come unto the Lord.  I'm so grateful that I could be the Lord's missionary at such a pivotal time in the history of the world.  The world needs the gospel more than ever and I get the privilege of sharing it with these golden and prepared people.

This week has been full of miracles to boot.  We met a man that bought us chocolate drinks and pastries as we taught him the gospel.  As it turns out he has lived in Iowa for a very long time and his son went on a mission to SOUTH AFRICA.  If this man isn't the set up of God, I don't know what is.  I can't wait to see what the near future holds as we work with this wonderful seeker of truth.  

I don't have a ton to say this week for some reason.  I just love being here.  I love doing my best every day to help the Lord's cause.  I every now and again hear American music or movie posters and I truly lack the desire to return to that lifestyle.  I know that one day I must return to the world, but I have no intention whatsoever of returning into the world.  I don't want to be as of the world as I once was.  That's not me.  I'm a disciple of Christ now and that's all I ever want to be.

I love you all so much.  I hope that you are doing well and that you are safe.  I love you more than you realize and miss you daily.  I can't wait to see all of your glorious progression upon my return.  Keep moving forward.

- Elder Woolsey