Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Craziness to be sure.

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

This week has been insane.  I've moved again.  So three weeks ago, trainers were announced for the upcoming move call.  I was not among these names.  Instead, I was sitting in wait for movecall not certain where I would be moved, but knowing that I likely would be.  Well, the last week of move call comes and I get a call from President Blickenstaff giving me another "special assignment."  He told me that he had changed some plans.  Apparently he went to Hong Kong, and when he returned, he came back with a vision of turning the last district in our mission into a stake....BY MARCH!  How crazy is that.  In order to do so we need some 20 odd active, tithe paying, Melchezidek Priesthood holders.  Instead of the original plan, I was asked to white wash train into the city center of this district.  This means, that the former two missionaries were moved out and I and a brand new missionary were moved in having never been in the area before.  We have records, but nothing else.  Also, in the outskirts of the area, my friend Elder Erickson, was asked to do the same thing (an amazing missionary).  Aside from all of this, the zone is receiving added support from many other missionaries as well.  In short, President Blickenstaff changed everyone's original plan and stacked the JiaYi Zone in order to turn it into a stake by March.  He has a vision and he plans to achieve it. 

My new missionary's name is Elder Brinley.  What a fireball!  When we were put together, President Blickenstaff told me "I gave you a gem" and boy did he!  When I'm done with this kid (yes, he's only eighteen), he will be the best missionary in this mission, I tell you that much.  He was born in England, lived in Japan for five years, lived in Holland for a year, and has lived in Texas for the last several years.  He loves the gospel like you wouldn't believe and he is working diligently to give his all to ther Lord.  Super impressive.  His dad is an international lawyer for Shell Oil Company and subsequently travels a lot.  He comes from a long line of active Mormons and loves to be a missionary.  I see why he was put with me to do President Blickenstaff's task of whitewashing the JiaYi area.  We're going to tear it up.  He does everything I tell him to do (in a good way).  He'll be a legend for sure.

Schooling.  Just pick?  Whew...I wish I had the slightest inclination of what I desire to pursue.  I honestly don't know.  Law sounds wonderful, especially after talking with my current companion.  I love to write, but I don't see myself teaching English or doing journalism.  I wouldn't mind being some kind of surgeon or general physician.  Also, owning a powerhouse business sounds great as well.  I want to do something that is going to be brutally difficult, but incredibly rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction and money.  I also wouldn't mind wearing a suit all of the time.  I honestly can't pick very well, that's why I'm seeking counsel from you all.  I want to get a business degree, but not as the main focus.  I want to get my MBA later.  I wouldn't mind owning my own firm or being a doctor of some sort. I'm committed, I just don't know where to fire.  I'm really trying to think, but I can't focus too much on this when my mind is on this District becoming a Stake before March.

Woah.  I had no idea that Dad did THAT well in LOTOJA.  I guess you're just too humble, Dad.  I'm super impressed. by your dedication to cycling.  I definitely want to find something and make it my passion like that.  It just proves how you can achieve anything through the Lord and focusing on it.  You truly are amazing.  Go out, and beat it next year then. 

Italy sounds like a paradise.  I can't wait to see tons and tons of pictures from it all.  I love the idea of traveling and seeing the world in the coming years of my life.  I want to be well cultured and well understanding of other peoples and their history.  I think it's important to stave off ignorance in all forms. 

Mom, I'm doing fantastic.  I couldn't be happier than I am right now.  I am eating well, but if you would like to send some treats this way, I wouldn't send them back.  I don't need a thing, but a nice hand written letter from all three of you.

Oh yes.  So I got a call from our Mission Secretary and apparently the return date for those who wish to attend the Winter Semester has been changed to December 27th to provide more time. Don't get too excited yet.  I asked her to double check on it and some other things for me to make sure I don't plan incorrectly, but you could be seeing your little baby even earlier than you think.  I can't practically hear mom's squeel.  I love you all so much, and I will likely have a definitive answer on the exact release time next week.  If there are any thoughts on that, please tell me.  I don't know if she had all of her information right.  I'm still waiting for her to call me back.  We'll know then.

Maybe state my major as something law related for right now (it would involve me taking some basic writing classes I presume), and then I suppose i can always change it later if needs be.  I will keep praying about it, but this sounds like an appropriate direction for the time being.  I can take some writing classes while exploring the law side of things at the same time.  If I hate my first semester, I will change to science/medical immediately.  It's really down to these two I suppose. I have every intention to get my MBA but that doesn't really involve my undergrad much because from the research I did before, many programs at higher end universities involve getting both a medical and business or law and business degree at the same time.  Pre-Law or something similar will be fine for now. 

I love you all so much.  Keep working hard.  I'm doing great.  I'm working as hard as I can to further the kingdom of God on earth.  Keep pressing forward, and I'll see you before you know it.

- Elder Woolsey

Sunset or Sunrise?

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

I feel like over the course of the last few weeks, our email discussions have gradually shifted from discussions of missionary work and things of such nature to coming home and schooling.  I know this is natural, but where have the last two years gone?  I feel like I blinked once and I was in the MTC, I blinked again and I was being trained, I blinked again and I was training, I blinked again and I'm here now.  I have been a Zone Leader for five move calls (don't post that online).  How on earth has all of that happened?  How have you three not been by my side through every step?  How have my desires and passions changed so suddenly?  Our mortal existence is brief.  Incomprehensibly brief.  I'm just grateful that I have a wonderfully supportive family and the fact that I can say that I have NO REGRETS from my mission.  I love my mission.  I still feel new in many ways, but I'm old.  I'm happy I still have the rest of my life to find ways to serve my Master. I love Him.

Classes can't be selected until October?  That's good to know.  I still have a little time to figure things out.  It's honestly very difficult for me to fully decide what I am meant to do.  I have every intention of finishing my education.  Compromise is not an option.  I will continue to pray about it and hopefully come up with an answer in the not-too-distant future.  I would actually appreciate it if you could send me a list of majors from BYU in the next email.  That would honestly be very beneficial.  I want to make the right decision.  I want to discuss these things with my Mission President, but I haven't had an interview opportunity yet and likely won't for a good while.  I suppose I could just email him or call him, but he's so busy it's hard to justify discussing a non-mission related purpose with him.  The old release date is still probably what's going to happen.  He just sent out an email that said that he doesn't want to extend extensions unless a need is required.

I'm so happy for you, Dad.  I think it's wonderful that after so much dedication and diligence you accomplished your goal of placing in the TOP 10.  Such a feat is incredibly impressive.  You get what you seek.  I think it's a wonderful example.  I want to be equally as committed to the pursuits of my life.  I want to give all of these things my all.  I'm grateful that my parents are those who achieve what they set out to accomplish.  

That miracle story from LOTOJA impressed me greatly.  I love miracle stories.  The Lord is watching over all of His children so keenly and so intently in order to protect us from the daily dangers of the day to day world.  I love being a member of this gospel for it is the only way to obtain a fullness of the Lord's blessings all day every day.  The Lord is mindful of us all and magnifies our efforts beyond our own understanding.  I don't know whether that man with the oil was a mortal angel or a celestial angel, but he was sent of God at that very moment to take care of His precious son.  How wonderful is the God that we worship!

The Zone is getting progressively better.  There are very few missionaries that don't want to baptize and don't want to have success.  Almost all missionaries desire to improve and be better.  The problem often stems from not understanding how they can improve or where to begin.  Each set of leaders from Senior Companion to Mission President oversee a different phase of the work and desire to improve in their realm of influence.  As each level of influence works together and catch a vision of what they can accomplish, progress is made.  We have exchanged with all of the companions in the Zone in hopes of inspiring all to catch the same vision.  As the Bible says, when we have no vision, the people perish.

I cannot for the life of me comprehend that Nate is no longer a missionary in just ten short days, and that he will be home shortly after that.  The thought is mind boggling.  I CANNOT WAIT to hear your analysis of him upon return.  I can't wait to hear how he has changed and improved over the course of two brief years.  He was also an amazing person from the beginning.  He prepared long and hard for his mission.  He prepared longer and harder than I did, so I can only imagine how much better of a missionary he must've been than me.  After I came out on my mission, I realized how much I admire Nate and his constant perseverance in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He loves the Lord and has always worked as hard to align his with the Lord's.  I'm grateful that I have such an outstanding friend that I can trust for the rest of my life.  Good friends are hard to come by.  He is the best kind of friend.

Winter.  I don't know what that feels like anymore.  It doesn't sound very inviting honestly.  Winter in Taiwan is pretty nice.  It's cool, not cold, and it doesn't rain very much.  Taiwanese Winters are where it's at.  The last thing I want to think about it feet of snow and frigid winds.  Hopefully this blazing hot Summer will carry over into the Winter months as well.

I got to exchange with Elder Taylor last week.  Can you believe that?  He's in this Zone now.  For the first time in over a year and a half of missionary work, we finally had the opportunity to work together proselyting.  It was a load of fun.  Imagine being a missionary with a great friend for 24-hours: talking to everyone, teaching lessons, etc.  He's a great missionary full of sincerity and a burning desire to serve God.  He is incredible.  I'm so grateful for the wonderful friends that I've been blessed to know.  He told me about all of these friends of ours that are either married or engaged, and I was blown away.  He also told me of his brother graduating High School and many, many, other crazy events that have happened over the course of the last couple years.  Truly staggering.  I feel as though I won't recognize home when that point arrives, but I know that aside from the first few days, everything will seem as though it hasn't changed.  I can't comprehend it nor do I wish to.

This mission has changed my life.  I love it. I love the Lord.  Thank you for supporting me.  It means everything to me that you all love the gospel too.  You are my best friends.

- Elder Woolsey 


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

Time is flying at the speed of light and I can't keep my hands on it.  Today we went to the temple and situations being as such I don't have a lot of time to write so I will keep things relatively short.

I will be writing on Monday like normal next week.

The temple was wonderful!  I was a little disappointed however because there was no new film for us Taiwan people.  I probably won't get to see the new film until I return home.  That doesn't matter though.  I was really trying to focus on what major to pursue as I sat in the Celestial Room today.  As if it was meant to be, you asked me which major I want to select.  Honestly, I still don't know.  I can't for the life of me get my mind around what course I want to set for the rest of my life.  What a challenge!  It's so definite!  I know I can change my major, but it's staggeringly difficult to decide.  I've put a lot of thought into medical.  I also feel as though the best living standards come from pursuing business (which I know I shouldn't do as an undergrad being likely worthless).  English sounds not bad as a major, but pre-med sounds great as well. Pre-law would also be an excellent choice.  I can't quite get my mind to focus in on one.  I'm so focused on missionary work that I barely understand what each one is anymore.  I don't want to waste time.  I need to figure things out as soon as possible.  This I know.  Where to go however is still beyond me.  The only revelation I feel like I've honestly received is that I need to be (don't post this online) ridiculously excellent in whichever I pursue.  I need to give it 100%.  President Bishop's undergrad was English and he pursued Medicine at Duke University.  Mitt Romney's undergrad was English and pursued Law/Business at Harvard.  I feel like English is likely a solid choice, giving me a lot of flexibility.  Any thoughts?  Please pick classes immediately.  Just pick for me and I can figure it out later.  I need to get into school.  If it's super urgent, you can get permission to call me and we can talk about it through the phone.

I know that missions end.  I don't want mine to though.  It's so hard to fathom this all ending any time soon.  I hate the idea of not being a full time missionary: everything I'm doing involving serving my Master and King.  I know that by being successful in education, family, and occupation, I can be a wonderful tool in the hands of the Lord.  I need to have these things taken care of in order to be the best most powerful tool in His mighty hand.  That is my goal in life.

I definitely want to minor in Chinese and my characters are considered really good.  So don't worry about characters.  I can read pretty well.  I'll keep working on it though.  Now that I have more direction on having good characters I'll make sure that I use these last couple of months to master some characters.  I want to be raring to go come January.  I want to be a fireball that is in the prime of his element as soon as the semester begins.  It's going to be great.  Please help me with personal advice on picking a major.  Before Monday, please (ALL THREE OF YOU) if you can, tell me exactly what you think with regards to my major.  Of Law, Business, Medicine, and Writing.  Which do I seem most apt to do?  Why?  Give me all thoughts and I will make a definitive decision on Monday.  If today is the last straw, pick ENGLISH.  I will quickly ensure that my GPA is in place for that scholarship you mentioned.  I will work like you won't believe to get it to the level it needs to be. 
I'm excited that you all get to go on vacation in a few weeks.  I'm sorry that work and everything has been stressful and layoffs are looming for many, but Mom, you are amazing and I know that you have nothing to worry about.  The Lord will protect us as we obey all of his commandments.  He loves you more than you can comprehend.  Keep serving Him and he will set up everything He for your benefit and experience. 1 Nephi 11:17.

I love you all so much.  Elder Chan and I baptized last week which was amazing.  A truly converted young adult who loves the Savior a ton.  It's great to see the church growing in Taiwan.  This place is so full of wonderful people. I love to serve God.  It is my passion I believe.  I know that I can do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13).  He is mighty to save. 

I will keep working hard.  Please keep helping me on that end with school.  Things need to go smoothly.  I love you all so much.  Thank you all so much for your help.

- Elder Woolsey

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Miracles of God

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

Thank you, Dad, for your testimony.  I felt the spirit so strong as I read why you follow Christ.  I can't even begin to describe what it means to be a member of a family that has strong, powerful testimonies of the restored gospel.  Coming to Taiwan, and in many cases seeing people struggle with their identity in a corrupt and broken world, makes me appreciate my family more than ever before.  I love you all.  This gospel means everything to me.  I cannot deny the change that the Savior has wrought in our family.  How glorious!  How marvelous!  How can we not shout praises to Him from now till the end of eternity!  Thanks be to Him who is mighty to save.

Next week, it's mom's turn.

I bet you're all wondering why I'm emailing on a Thursday, well...basically, we initially had a temple trip planned for Wednesday, but then Monday morning (after the entire Zone had the day planned with proselyting activities) President Blickenstaff that he was going to be out of town when he announced trainers so he announced them early, subsequently having a training meeting for them on Wednesday.  Since missionaries in our Zone are training, the temple trip is moved to next week and preparation day changed to Thursday. Our temple trip is now next Thursday, so don't expect an email till then.  Following that, preparation day will be back to normal!  Sorry about the stir it may all have caused.  I'm still alive however.

I can't even describe how badly I don't want to return home.  I love my mission more than anything.  I love serving the Lord.  I know that the Lord loves me and desires my welfare.  I've never felt so close to the Lord. I've never felt so much like I've been actively helping people like I do now.  Home feels like a foggy dream that's hard to recall properly.  I just can't imagine not eating rice every day, not speaking in Chinese, not wearing a white shirt and tie (which unless exercising in the morning, we always wear no matter what the circumstance), not being a full time missionary wearing the name of the Savior on my chest.  The thought hurts and stings a bit.  All I know is that I'm not ready yet.  Like the end of LOTOJA.  You get to this point, and you're not finished yet.  In fact, far from it.  There's probably even still another rest stop in there somewhere.  I have time.  I have to make the most of it.

Blake Rost is home?  Incredible.  I bet he was a great missionary.  I love that young man.  I love that entire family actually.  I know that they all are disciples of Jesus Christ.  Something I'm still working on and hopefully one day will achieve.  Nate comes home soon doesn't he?  When is that?  It's likely less than ten weeks, right?  Wow.  I can't even fathom him coming home.  I think I'm most excited to see him when I return.  He's always been a great example to me.  I imagine his testimony and leadership abilities are more than stellar. 

Elder Taylor is doing well I believe.  He is in the south whereas I'm still in the north, so I never see him, but he's training right now and I'm sure he's doing great.  Elder Taylor is a wonderful missionary and a wonderful person.  I just hope that we are able to run into each other before all is said and done.  Seeing him in the mission field is pretty surreal to be honest.  It's like a pure line back to home.  I can't fully describe it, but it's indeed strange.

I miss home teaching with you Dad.  I wish we could be home teaching companions again.  I've realized on my mission how to properly home teach.  Before I just picked an article and shared some thoughts on it.  Now I know that there needs to be testimonies, promised blessings, invitations, inspired questions, and so much more.  We are family home TEACHERS not family home visitors or family home sharers or family home anything else.  I can't wait to be a magnifier of my callings.  The idea excites me.  The church needs more members like you three: active, and diligent in all things.

In my next interview with President I will bring up my feelings about leaving, and receive some inspired counsel.  Unless he asks me to stay or suggests strongly that I should, I won't change anything about the current choice.  I also believe that returning home at that time seems like the most effective and efficient choice.  I'm not suddenly not a missionary, or a servant of God, or incapable of being close to the spirit when I return.  On the contrary, I have a greater responsibility to prepare for my future family and help my friends come unto the Lord. 

I love this gospel.  I love you all.  Please take care of yourselves.

- Elder Woolsey


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

I wish I had gone into the MTC earlier in many ways.  I have several co-missionaries that are extending or trying to extend.  I want to be here longer, but it's not the most efficient thing to do.  I don't know.  I know going home at that time is the right thing to do, but there is always that voice in the back of my head that makes me want to stay. Any advice for this situation?  What's the right thing to do?

Time is seriously blazing by.  It's going by faster than I've ever imagined.  Days and months are flying off of the calendars.  It's stunning.  I can't hold on to it no matter how much I try.  I can't even wrap my mind around how fast things are going.  I'm trying to improve and progress, but time seems so short.  I want to be great, but it's like a whirlwind.  I can't do anything, but embrace it, but it's hard to fully submit to time constraints.  I'm rambling slightly, but boy do I love my mission.  I can't even comprehend doing anything else.  I love every moment and it makes me want to cry just contemplating returning home.  I want to shout and cry and a dozen other emotions, but I know that that's not right at the same time.  I can't describe the emotions in my heart right now.

Classes?  I think those classes sound fine.  I need a writing class for certain, and Chinese as well.  I can't decide what to pick for a major.  I want to do Law, Medicine, Business, or Writing to be honest.  I definitely need direction.  Sorry, I won't be following in the Semiconductor footsteps.  A counselor will help a lot with this decision I think.  I'm excited to see the results of your conversation.  I want to be busy with school upon returning.  Please give me many credit hours.  One of the classes can be religious at least.  That will add mandatory credits, but won't be too difficult.

I loved my MacBook from two years ago.  Something similar would be beyond fantastic.  Don't spend unnecessary money on me though.  I want to get independent as fast as possible.

Traveling sounds incredibly fun.  You'll love Europe.  My companion is British as you all know, and he is amazing.  Incredibly humble, diligent, and loves learning.  Great person.  I will definitely be friends with him after the mission if I can. 

The ZhongXing Mega Zone as Elder Chan and I call it is incredible.  We got special permission to hold an extra long Zone Training Meeting in which we discussed Obedience, Diligence, and Faith with regards to missionary work.  It was wonderful.  We made these huge flags that said ZHONGXING: FAITH, OBEDIENCE, DILIGENCE on them and had everyone sign them.  We practiced teaching a lot and it was full of enthusiasm and excitement.  Great meeting.  The zone is improving steadily.  Exchanges are insane.  We are literally exchanging every other day every week of this move call.  It is burning a huge (but reimbursable) hole in my missionary pocket.  I love being a missionary though.  I get to proselyte with a ton of amazing people.  I can't even comprehend returning right now. The thought makes me sick.

I hope that you all are doing great.  I want to hear more about your spiritual progression in your next email.  A brief testimony would be a welcome change.  Please inspire me to keep working hard. 

I love you all more than you know.  I love the Lord more than anything.  I love my mission.  I have changed and will continue to change on my endless journey to become the perfect disciple of Jesus Christ.  I plan to tear up everything I do from now until forever.  This life is the time to prepare to meet God.  I love my Savior.  He died for me that I might live.  He gave me literally everything that I may be happy.  He loves me.  My Father in Heaven loves me too.  I can do all things through Him.  The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of this truth.  This is the only true church on the entire face of the earth and will be forever. 

- Elder Woolsey