Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Monday, May 27, 2013

Faith and Fire

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

What a great week!  I love this gospel so much!  Elder Croft and I have been working hard to help as many people as possible to prepare for baptism and enter into covenants with their Heavenly Father. Each week has a ton of wonderful small experiences that I often forget by the time I get to the computer.  I exchanged with my friend Elder Erickson (because he is the Assistant, he exchanges with Zone Leaders) and we had a blast.  We worked very hard and sought to do our best the entire exchange.  We set goals and made plans to improve and really did improve.  It was great.  He's a wonderful missionary.  

 Elder Erickson's parents are renting a house for him to live in in which 7-8 others can also live in near BYU (starting this coming Winter semester).  Elder Haag will likely live there, as well as Elder Erickson, and Elder Allen.  Three of my favorite and also BEST missionaries in the mission.  I've come to find that one's missionary work ethic and success and skill are attributed to their spirituality and consecration to the Lord.  I've been asked to live there.  It's a little early to ensure it all, but I would like to live with them.  I trust them and their dedication to the Lord is astounding.  Truly spectacular.

My companion is great.  He's a hard worker and doing his best every day to be a good servant of the Lord.  He's pushing himself to hit some high goals that he has set.

My companion and I actually baptized last week and we are baptizing again this week.  We're really working hard to help as many people as possible accept this holy ordinance.  I am expecting June to be filled with white.  We have many people that are very, very, close to making that final leap toward the path to eternal life.  I have confidence that things will go well.
With regards to coming home; our interview wasn't the most productive.  We discussed it, and one option he threw out was to return on December tenth.  There's no way on earth I'm returning that early for anything.  I mentioned it in my email and I talked to Elder Taylor recently and he's going to ask about it too.  If it's an option, we'll likely go that way, if the "mini move" home doesn't work out then I will extend at least thirty days (which can be given and likely will be).  So I don't want you to fret over this too much, but yes, if there is no move call home around the first of the year, I won't come home till February.  The "mini move" would actually be later than we thought as well, probably on January 2 or so.  I discussed with him also how a major in English translated to his medical degree and he said it wasn't too bad, but if I wanted to graduate first in my class to pursue a hard science or physiology.  I thought that was interesting.  He felt that the ability to interpret narrative was very beneficial to being a doctor though.  He also told me that he actually went home in October, trying to return in September and unfortunately could not attend that first semester either.  He said that after forty years, there wasn't much of a difference to him.  I thought that was interesting.  I'm really shaken on what I should do actually.  I would love some parental advice in the next email as we wait for my Mission President's decision on a "mini movecall."

With regards to President Monson's wife, I found a very appropriate scripture this week.  As the
Nephites began to wage war with the Lamanites, the Nephites realized that they were fighting for a better cause than the Lamanites and were thus succeeding.  In Alma 44:5 it says, " the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children..."  These are the words of Captain Moroni.  he was an amazing man.  Anyway, what I noticed is the special wording of "sacred support" with regards to the children and wife.  SACRED.  That is an incredibly powerful word.  I hope you, Dad, feel as though the support of Mom and your children is SACRED, for it is.  

I love you all so much.  Keep obeying the Lord.  I miss you just as much.

- Elder Woolsey

Friday, May 3, 2013

Scatter Sunshine

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

I love hearing from you all week to week.  Each Sunday night I say a prayer that I will enjoy what you all have to say and that you had a great week.  I am never disappointed with the result.  I always receive two prompt, wonderful emails that explain much about the lives of those I love so much.  You all are so dedicated and wonderful.  I appreciate the constant companionship from miles away.

I want to share a really remarkable spiritual experience this week.  I was trying to find a young man who is quickly prepared for baptism to take him to church with a member.  As we searched all over for him (not knowing where his parents' store was), we got confused and frustrated and lost and decided to give up.  We were sad that this kid would not be able to go to church this week.  The member then told me that he had a feeling from the spirit to turn down this road.  We turned down that road and walked for a while.  He then gave up and we were about to turn back when I had a feeling from the spirit that our investigator was down this other road.  Actually, to be honest, I felt like I could almost hear his voice.  We turned down this other road and found some kids playing, but our kid was not amongst them. We had both given up and were disappointed that we didn't listen to the spirit properly as we supposed.  I told the member that we should just swing up this other road and it should take us to the main road.  As we did so, we saw our investigator scrubbing this massive pot outside of a tiny, rundown shop.  We found him.  The spirit totally led us to him.  There is no way on earth we would have found this tiny shack of a shop in the middle of these crossroads and alleys without the spirit.  It was a total miracle. We helped the poor kid scrub the pot thoroughly and then took him to church.  The young man was so tired that he fell asleep in sacrament.  He will be baptized soon.  He's amazing.

Skyping will still be forty minutes (sorry to disappoint).  As for it being next week...are you sure?  My mission president hasn't said anything about it.  I imagine that if it really is the case, we will hear something soon, but I haven't heard a thing.  Will it be on the 13th?  If so, that's a move day.  The 20th?  If earlier, that's only next week and I haven't heard anything.  If we suddenly hear something, I will likely call sometime around 10:30-11:00am Taiwanese standard time.  I'm not positive what time that is for you.  In order to skype I will need to know your USERNAME.

It sounds as though work and riding are as crazy as ever.  I'm so happy that you all are working so hard and doing your best to reach your potential.  One thing we hear sometimes in Taiwan from the elderly is that because they are old they cannot change and don't want to hear our message.  Because of this, some Elders do not like talking with old people.  In essence, it's a "you can't teach old dogs new tricks" kind of thing.  I hope you all NEVER feel that way.  It is a lie.  Your potential lasts forever.  It is forever.  I want mom to write her books and stories so badly.  It aches almost how much I want her to do it.  I know it would bring happiness: fulfilling her potential that is.  Do not fear.  Do it.  I will do it when I return.  I feared at home.  I don't want to not do what I'm meant to do anymore.

What should mom say about missionaries?  I have so many things to say that it's difficult to narrow them down to a few topics.  There is a ton that goes into it.  1. Stress the importance of reading the scriptures and praying daily.  It is EVERYTHING.  And going to church weekly/fulfilling callings.  2.  Study and restudy FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOUTH.  It is a guide to purity and righteousness and preparation for mission life.  If you follow that book to a T you will never need to fear preparation for a mission.  You will never mess up in life.  You will make mistakes, but they are NOTHING you can't overcome.  3.  Magnify leadership responsibilities, other responsibilities, and be outgoing.  Be a socialite.  Courageous and bold.  4.  Save your money and prepare to pay for your mission with your own money.  Do not depend on parents to do so.  More satisfaction will come if you can first understand the concept of sacrifice.  Choose to do whatever it takes and sacrifice whatever you need to to serve.  5.  Decide now to choose the right.  Don't entangle yourself in sin with the expectation to repent.  It is impossible to do.  6.  Give everything to the Lord and it will be the happiest experience of your entire life.  Plan to have no regrets.  Share what dad has told Eric and I for many years that not serving was the biggest regret that he has ever had.  I love telling prospective missionaries that.  They need to understand that this is important.  That it is everything.  7.  Study the gospel.  It's what you'll be teaching for two years.  You better know it and believe it or no one else will believe what you say.

To be honest it's difficult to fully prepare for something like this.  If they magnify fully the standards in FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOUTH, they will be the greatest missionaries ever.  I would say that you should somehow find a big stack of FSOY pamphlets to hand out when you share.  Read it yourself.  Then write about your thoughts again in the next email and I will provide more.  I think that you will do a great job.  What a wonderful topic to discuss on!

I still don't know how to pick a field to work in.  I'm willing to do anything to find a great job even if it involves schooling for many years.  I read a comment by Elder Nelson who was a heart surgeon.  Someone once asked him how long it took him to complete his degree.  He said it was around 12.5 years between his degree and his first bill for services.  He then posed a question.  How much older would you have been whether you did it or did not do it?  The answer is that the difference is the same.  He also was able to perform an operation on President Spencer W. Kimball.  I'm willing to do whatever it takes because knowledge is the glory of God and obtaining education is the difference between desiring to help someone and actually helping someone.  I plan on accomplishing much and reaching the stars, I just don't know which direction to aim at quite yet.

I love you all.  I love the gospel.  I glory in God because He is my Father and gave me everything.  I love that I can serve Him even if I am only a particle of influence for the Kingdom of God.  Thank you all for steering me correctly and leading me to this point.  I am eternally grateful for your help.

- Elder Woolsey

Don't speak so soon

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

That was a wonderful email packed full of information, advice, encouragement, and much more.  Thank you for always being so diligent and never running out of things to say in those wonderful emails of yours.  They truly are remarkable.  I love being inspired to work harder (even if there always seems to be some talk of coming home in each email).  In all honesty, hearing the countdown on days, etc. makes me work harder is all.  All I want to do is push through all of those messy things and come out on the other side exhausted and regret less which is what I am thus far.  I love my mission so much.  Actually, Elder Matthew Taylor is sitting right behind me typing his emails right now.  He has a Zone activity today so we are here together sending emails.  It's strange how things work out the way they do.

Thank you for putting that money into my account.  I doubt I need that much, but I will take out some to work with for the next while.  I may buy a new pair of pants or tailor my old ones or both because all of my pants are disgustingly huge on me now.  I didn't realize how big I was before I left.  I weigh a lot less than dad does now.  Needless to say I used to weigh much more than dad.  It's shocking how a little cycling, daily exercising, and eating right can completely change your health and appearance.  It does become addicting.  And now that I have a body builder for a companion, I may be able to bulk up a little bit even though I have little time or money to do so.  He'll help me make my morning exercises more effective at any rate.

I was shocked to hear about the bomb.  It's disturbing to think that anyone would do something so malicious and evil.  It's honestly terrible.  Thank goodness for all of the talk at General Conference on peace.  I bet those talks seriously helped some of the people victimized by the attacks.  I love how the Lord's hand is in ALL things and we only need to clear all of the worldly sludge away from our eyes and take a step back to realize it.  The Lord is over all of these things.  It will be fine as long as we're obedient.

I'm grateful that I have parents that work so hard at their jobs and do their very best to be productive with their free time.  You two are the best a son could ask for.  Thank you for putting your family and your God before anything else.  The sacrifices that are made by parents for their families are tallied in heaven and treasures and blessings will be heaped upon you in sheaves when the day of judgment comes.  I'm confident that there is no one who works as hard or for such a good of cause as parents.

I'm incredibly happy that Eric is doing so well.  He is a wonderful person.  Keep doing family activities together.  I have every intention of spending as much free time as possible with all of you upon return.  Don't worry about me coming home right now, because I'll be fine and you'll be sick of me saying "well, when I was in Taiwan..." when I return.  If I live at BYU, I will be home every single weekend that first semester.  If I live at home, you will see even more of me.  I love that we have such a small family that is so close.  My brother, mom, and dad are my three best friends in the entire world.  I couldn't ask for better ones.  I have other friends to, some of which are far away from here, but no matter what happens, you three will be my best of best.  I just love spending time with you all.

I've been praying about a major.  I will minor in Chinese for certain, but I seriously need some counseling with regards to picking a major.  I will be interviewing with president sometime in May and we will discuss things in detail then.  Directly following, I will report to you.  I would love some short synopses and opinions on each of those majors.  My passion is writing, but I'm afraid to pursue it fully to be honest.  I feel like I can do both perhaps.  Any thoughts on that?  Also, please talk to a counselor from BYU on what I still need to do to pass off all of my general education requirements.  I want to dive in and hopefully be graduated in two years, definitely no more than two and a half.  I want to focus on schooling and finish it fast.  I will soon have answers to many of those questions.

My time is growing short and although that countdown is only a friendly reminder and an expression of your love for me, it does make me sad to think that in only a few short months I will be returning home to you all.  I love it so much here.  We just had a baptism the other day of a young man who has overcome some intensive internal struggles to come to this point in his life.  You should have seen the smile on his face all day yesterday and the day before.  He was shining with light.  He was so happy to be baptized.  He had two friends that showed up as well.  One of which was a recent convert in another ward and the other we just barely met and hopefully will be baptized soon.  What a wonderful situation.  Heavenly Father is blessing this young man.  On top of it all, he will be attending Taiwan National University, which is essentially the Harvard of Taiwan.  He's so excited to go.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot.  I know I have mentioned his name many, many, times on my mission, but Elder Erickson, one of my best friends in the mission (if not my best friend) is the new assistant to President Bishop.  That is so exciting.  It's great to see such a wonderful missionary to so well and be put into a situation in which he can influence and bless the entire mission.  The other great thing, is that once again, for the third time on my mission, we are in the same Zone (President Bishop and the Assistants are in this Zone as well).  We have been around each other for most of my mission.  He's such a wonderful missionary.


1. My bike is fine.  I got my bike fixed.  I am too attached to my original bike (you know me) to have taken another missionary's for too long.  Mine is doing well, but it definitely is getting old and struggling due to negligence and disrepair.  There just isn't the time or money to take care of it.

2.  I got used to the local food a year ago.  It's great.

3.  Do I eat American food?  Not very often.  It depends on the companion or whether or not we are eating with members.  I've had companions that love McDonald's and therefore we eat there often.  Right now, not at all.  We only eat Taiwanese food.  There are so many foods that I've forgotten about.

4.  I don't really need any clothes.  I should be fine on that front, but I am considering buying a new pair of pants or tailoring my current ones (as previously stated).  My pants are huge.  It's ridiculously cheap to tailor things and buy Taiwanese made clothing here.  I will likely tailor my suits before I return.  It would only be about $10 a suit. 

5. My watch is doing great.  It's a little beat-up, but It works like a charm and is always faithful.  I wear it every single day without any major problems.

6.  Would I be comfortable jumping right back into math and chemistry?  I don't know.  I think I would have to retake Calculus 1 or at least retake Calculus 2 before I could move forward I think.  Chemistry should be absolutely fine.  My last class was relatively simple.

Thank you for the extensive email.  I love this gospel more than anything and I intend on putting everything into my mission these last few months.  I love you all and miss you so much.  Don't worry about me.  I have the Lord.

- Elder Woolsey