Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Stand in Holy Places

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

Thank you so much for emailing me every week.  I love hearing from you all.  I love knowing what's going on and that you are all safe and happy.  I hope that I can fulfill the expectations that you all have for my return.  It's still many months away so don't get too excited.  Time is moving so fast.  My companion is going home a week from tomorrow.  His mission is all but over.  And considering that we have been serving together for about three months, it feels very strange indeed.  I don't want to go home.  On top of that, Elder Haag...or rather Brother Haag wrote me an email describing home life.  Apparently he ran six miles at once and got a job already.  That sounds relatively productive.  He also said that there is nothing to miss at home.  Which is also helpful to hear.  I already know it's true, but it helps.

President Monson invited us in the last General Conference to contribute money, if we have it to the Missionary Fund.  I don't know what your financial situations are like, but it may be something that you may want to consider.  I just noticed that this morning as I was reading the
Liahona during breakfast.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DAD!  I almost wish we got another call home for Father's Day as well, but I suppose that there wouldn't be much to say beyond what has already been said.  There's so little time left that I don't know what more to say beyond the monotonous.  As it gets later into my mission, I'm realizing that it's getting easier to just do this forever.  It's my life.  It's who I am.  I love it. I feel successful.  I don't know a better way to live.  

Dad, you are amazing.  I hope you realize that the best example that you can give  Mom, Eric, and I is to exercise your priesthood worthily within the walls of your home.  I know that is what you have done for a long, long, time now and it is exciting. I love it.  Thank you for being that wonderful example to me and Eric of being a man.  Setting goals and making plans to achieve and then achieving them.  Also, to be kind to mom and be a magnifier of all callings you receive helps me know what I want to become.  Thank you so much, Dad. Sorry, I don't have any gifts, but I'll be home soon.  I'm moneyless.

That's a negative on the package and a negative on the pants as well.  Don't worry, I still have clothes that I can wear.

Not much has changed except that we are working harder than ever to continue to do the Lord's work.  Keep reading scriptures together and being productive in achieving goals.  Enjoy life.  I want you all to have changed for the better when I go home.  Be productive!  Get closer to the Lord!  Improve!  I miss you all, but we are meant to seize our lives and go to work.  Please do so!

I  will stand in holy places, and I will not move.

- Elder Woolsey

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


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

What a week. This week has completely changed my mission in more than one way. Elder Haag (my trainer), Elder White (my second companion), Elder Fiala (My third companion), and Elder Croft (my current companion), and President and Sister Bishop all gave their reflections in a mission meeting this last week. A reflection is a two minute spotlight of what you learned on your mission prior to leaving. Elder Haag slept at our apartment last night and is currently on a plan to America as we speak. The other three return in the next couple of weeks. My entire mission has a different feel to it. All of my senior companions left or are leaving at approximately the same time. I'm now an older missionary, more so than before.

I fear the day I return home for I fear the negative influences of the world. I also fear not fulfilling the expectations I have for myself, or worse, the expectations that the Lord has for me. I want to be everything I can be. I want to live my life in accordance with the teachings of the gospel 100%. I don't want to even think of doing something wrong. I want to obey.

The mission is moving past at a racecar's pace. I feel as though I'm standing still as my life is blazing past. Have I changed? Am I still changing? Am I working as hard? I want to do everything I can to be the best I can be, but in the confusion of a hurried life and rushing time, I can barely stand straight. Thinking of coming home, think of Elder Haag returning, President Bishop returning, knocks me down to the ground. The thought of it brings tears to my mind. This time is so short and trying to stop or slow it is like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands. Impossible. But then again, we're not meant to catch smoke with our bare hands.

Thank you for the care package. I'm sure I will love it. Keep biking dad, but don't be too hard on yourself. You're doing an amazing job in all things right now. I love your success.

Eric is also incredibly successful. Having read his thoughts and your thoughts it sounds like he is tearing it up. He is setting a firm foundation that will last for the rest of his life. Truly incredible. I'm so impressed by his effort. I want to be able to do just as much when I return. What stunned me the most is not only has he done all of this, but he is observing the Sabbath and keeping it holy 100%. He cleaned prior to Sunday, and canceled friends with plans to be home, he won't watch television, movies, spend too much unproductive time on the computer (other than writing my email), or listen to non-church music. Incredible. He isn't even studying today. That, my fine furry friends, is a converted disciple of Christ. He is working that hard and obeying the commandments of a Mighty God with exactness. I challenge you all to do the same, because I will be doing EXACTLY that when I return. I WILL NOT seek entertainment, I WILL spend all of my time with family or studying the words of the Lord. I love the gospel and I tell you now (you can hold me accountable), I WILL BE OBEDIENT.

Girl's camp also sounds great. Don't worry about me and clothes, food, etc. I have enough to eat and wear. There aren't steaks or Reese's Puffs in Taiwan, but I love the thought. I will be fine without those things for at least six more months. I have no desire for them either. They just get in the way and distract from the purpose of a mission.

We hiked mountains in a jungle today. It was great. If you ever come here to visit, we'll for sure do it. There were spiders the size of your head that if you get bitten once, you have to get sent home. This is all hearsay, but they are huge and it makes me that much more afraid of them. The spiders are super scary. There are also huge caterpillars and butterflies, and lizards like you have never beheld before. Truly spectacular. You all would love it.

My new mission president comes in two weeks.

Don't get too excited for me to come home, because I still have a long, long, time left. I love this mission more than anything and I will keep moving forward. I just want to be the best I can be and I feel like what Brigham Young said is true. Each day is truly a struggle and fight for the Celestial Kingdom. I challenge you all to find a way to get closer to God this week and tell me about it next week. Please don't put this challenge aside, please ingest it and do something. I want to see spiritual changes in you all when I return. That is our purpose! I heard about family scripture study, that is a great start! Keep it going!

I love you all more than I never knew I could! Keep pushing forward! We'll see each other again someday!

- Elder Woolsey

Sunday, June 9, 2013


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

I love my mission so much.  Elder Croft and I are working as hard as we can right now.  We're really trying to push ourselves harder than we ever have before.  We're trying to do our best to accomplish the purposes that the Lord has put before us.  We want to fulfill His vision for us.  It has been a great month with a lot of successes, and now we have a new month before us that looks better than the previous months combined.  We are so excited.  Elder Croft goes home in three weeks and he wants to go out swinging, so I'm doing what I can to help him do just that.  He's a wonderful missionary.  It's getting hot, blisteringly so, but it's better than freezing rain.  It gets up to about 40+ degrees Celsius with whatever the humidity level is here.  By the end of the day, I have sweat marks in my pants.  Sometimes I sweat so much that it's difficult to get my tie off of my neck.  That's missionary work.  I love that feeling of returning home exhausted.  The work is rolling forth like a stone cut without hands.  Taiwan is incredibly prepared to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So amazing.

It's exciting that you are going on such a fun trip to Italy.  I imagine that you'll have very memorable experiences that I definitely want to see pictures of.  I'm always up for an adventure!  It would be fun to do something like that as a family...or even to come back to Taiwan.  You wouldn't understand the language, but you could meet all of the wonderful people we got to help on my mission.  I have had such a wonderful experience.  I would love for all of you to meet these wonderful people and experience just a taste of what it was like for me.  I'm so happy that they're putting more missionaries here.  I've heard that over forty missionaries are coming on in a move call or two.

Devotion, obedience, and hard-work.  They are key aren't they?  Don't worry about me, I don't get trunky.  I will not get trunky.  I just want to amplify those three things and work as hard as I can until the bitter end.  I never want to feel as though I did less than I could have.  I plan on giving 100% for as long as the Lord needs me to which I suppose is the rest of my life and on into eternity.  I'm OK with that.  I have every intention of pushing myself past anything I thought I was capable.  My mission president has said that he hopes that five years after you return home, you no longer say that your mission was the "best two years" of your life, but rather that the most recent years have been.  The mission is supposed to prepare you for bigger, better, and more spiritual experiences.  He wants us to have fulfilling lives full of years and years of pure joy.  That really changed my perspective on things.  This is just a beginning.  Regardless, I feel like I need to have attained perfection by the end.  I'm trying.

I'm almost tempted to say that you should just go ahead and reserve my spot of the Winter Semester.  That being said, I don't want you to do that and I change my mind.  When I went to the temple, my trainer told me that in the time I left to go to school on time, I could help more people to receive the gospel and change forever, but my mission president told me of how my mission needs to end at some point.  It's difficult for me to decide.  It seriously tears me up.  I want to be realistic about it all, but I don't know how to choose most efficiently.  I would love continued opinions on this.  It's still mostly likely that January 3rd will be the official date. As of right now 95% certain.

I can't imagine returning home and suddenly doing all of those things, but if that's what it takes to dive head first into the rest of my life, I think that would be fine.  I just want to be effective and efficient with my life and I feel like that would be the best to maximize my mission as much as possible while still using the momentum from my mission to have a really busy, difficult semester at BYU.  I want to do things the right way.

Time has past too fast.  I can't even comprehend it.  I can't wrap my mind around it.  I still feel like a young missionary.  I've never taken on that "I'm the old missionary and I'm going to teach you" feeling.  I feel like everyone has so many amazing talents that I can't quite wrap my mind around yet.  I have a long way to go.

This week has been amazing.  I love you all so much.  We're working super hard.  Never worry about me.  I love you.

- Elder Woolsey

P.S. We baptized this last week. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

January 3, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, Belle, and Coffee,
I feel like the title of this email explains a lot.  President Bishop just informed me that three days before the new semester there will be a mini move call that will allow all those in my generation who wish to begin schooling that semester to return home at that time.  In essence, I would be finishing 15 days before two years and would start school 2-3 days (depending on travel time and layovers) after returning home on the following Monday.  If I were leaving next month, this is the option I would be taking and we should plan on it being the case.  I figured that you would be pretty excited about that.  At the same time it will likely be difficult to suddenly move out after being there for only two days.  I'm not entirely sure what kind of logistical things need to go into making that happen, but details on it would be great.  I'm sure that it's the option that you would support, but what all needs to happen and how soon?  Please fill me in on all decisions I need to make in as detailed, but as clear and simple of terms as possible.  Especially deadlines on things.  For example, if I need to know housing by the 23rd of June, I need to know that.  If I have till August, I want to wait until things are more certain.  This likely will not change unless I receive a prompting to extend.

Like you surely imagined, we had a temple trip this week and therefore I was unable to email on Monday.  I still don't have a lot of time today so I will keep this quick, but I hope that you aren't worried about me.  I am safe.  I am happy.  I loved the temple.  I don't know what it is, but HALF of our Zone just happened to go with the North Taizhong Zone on the same day.  Why is this significant?  Elder Haag is in the North Taizhong Zone.  We had an opportunity to talk about a lot of different things and how we can establish our lives firmly in the gospel.  He, unfortunately, is leaving for America in a week and a half.  After so much of my mission, he will be gone.  What a great example of a fully converted disciple of Christ.  Of all the missionaries in the mission, you would LOVE him the most.  He is very mature for his age and is really bold.  He's also good with adults.  I guess you'll meet him in January.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!  Each year brings more wisdom and more happiness.  Thank you for being so dedicated to the gospel for so many years.  Your example of enduring to the end is tremendous and inspiring.  I want to establish a family similar to ours, but hopefully even better.  I think that this is likely the hope of all parents, for their children to surpass them.  I want to make you proud as a father.  I hope you know, also, that you are doing incredibly, incredibly well.  You have given Eric and I a wonderful example of how to love your wife and to always put the gospel first.  Thank you so much for being so patient and loving to Eric and me throughout all of these years.  Truly phenomenal.

Star Trek sounds great.  I can't wait to see those things with you.  I still have a long long time so don't get too excited, but that being said, we will all be together soon and being making new memories together instead of just dwelling by the warmth of the old.  I miss you all so much and I hope that you know that although I often say I don't want to go home or things of that nature, that I love you very very much.  You three are my best friends and my favorite people on the planet.  I don't know how any person could possibly be more happy than me.  I have the best family that Heavenly Father has ever given to a single person.  I honestly believe that the Lord has rewarded me.  I don't know why...I suppose I just needed a little more help than the average person and I couldn't handle that much adversity.  Keep being amazing examples to me.

You'll have to scout out the new temple site in Rome when you go to Italy.  I imagine that that country will be beyond remarkable. I expect many many pictures from the adventure and many stories to boot.  I love the idea of exploring new cultures and peoples.  I hope that sometime in the not too distant future (maybe next Summer), we can all come back to Taiwan together and I can give you a taste of real Chinese culture and the amazing people that reside here.  Truly an amazing place.
I love you all so much.  Keep pushing yourself forward and doing your best every day.  I love you all so much.  

- Elder Woolsey
P.S. We baptized last Saturday.