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