Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, Belle, and Coffee (who I still have yet to meet),
I can assure each of you that I am the furthest thing from trunky at this late stage of my missionary experience. The son may be setting, but that (like Elder Ochoa stated), is merely a sign that I must adjust my course, and ride faster to avoid the repercussions of not being where I need to be when the sun sets (or the storm comes). My pace is only quickening as time draws night to a close.
It's honestly humbling to have this role in JiaYi at this time. This is the longest I've been without baptizing since the very beginning of my mission. We're working hard to help out this area which has only baptized one in the last year. It's been the most challenging area of my mission, but that doesn't mean we are not going to see success soon. We are working with two families that are lovely. We met with one this morning. I wish you could meet them. They are young and the father just wants the gospel to help his family, but is apprehensive about reading and praying daily. I wish they could see the blessings that the gospel has brought to our family and know how it can change lives. We are close to baptizing in many ways, but our investigators need to just make that commitment to really learn the gospel. They need a greater desire. I'm grateful for the miracles that I've seen here already. We will help this place be stake. And while baptisms are low, we've already helped three men pass Melchizedek Priesthood interviews and one more who is just waiting to actually meet with the Branch President. We've seen a lot of success, but not a lot of baptism yet. It will come soon.
You all are so great and I love you all more than you can possibly know. I'm grateful for your constant support and expressions of love to me throughout my mission. I've never doubted that you have been taken care of while I've been out. I know at this time Dad is facing many difficulties with regards to occupational pursuits, but I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord will provide. The Lord gives us "mountains to climb" that we may become better, stronger, and trust in him more (see Elder Eyring's April 2012 address). This, most certainly is a mountain that the Lord has given to you to grow. As I have been more aware of these "mountains," I have seen many of them throughout my life. I've seen where I have grown and where I have stumbled in my hike to overcome them. I've also seen where I have given up and turned back the other way when the trail become too steep and my faith was not enough. I will never do this again however. Whether on the brink of bankruptcy or at the depths of despair, I will never forsake what I know. This church is true. It will guide us through our stormy times. Do not fear, for the Lord is with us, even to the end of the world.
I cannot believe my eyes. Nate has returned. I can't fully wrap my mind around this foreign piece of information. To think that Nate, one of my favorite people in the entire world is no longer in Russia, but instead in the United States gave me a chill throughout my entire body. Seeing his picture and hearing his story gives me the strangest of feelings. I can't imagine the day that I return. Like I told Eric this week, I'm attempting to build a 100 foot-thick cement barricade around my testimony and my new-found/strengthened standards. I pray that I don't come off has holier-than-thou or self-righteous or any of those unfortunate things. I want to be pure and stand steadfast in what I know is right no matter what, but I don't want to be rude or condescending. I'm just grateful that I have a family who shares these standards already and is already on a much higher plane of spiritual sensitivity than I. I'm just trying to catch up.
Thank you for your prayers on my behalf and on behalf of JiaYi. I'm so grateful for them and I feel them every day. I know that we will baptize because it is the Lord's desire. I also know that this place will become a stake before the end of next year and the blessings will be large and magnificent to these people. I want nothing more than to be a tool in the hands of the Lord for the rest of my life, and I know that JiaYi is the place to be right now for just that. I will dedicate all of my time and attention on the task at hand. I want to do the Lord's will and be on His errand. I don't know if I've fully squared away my career pursuits and desires on that front, but I know that I want to serve the Lord in any way shape and form that the Lord asks for the rest of eternity. I just want to do what I'm doing now, (but with my family beside me), forever more. I wish missionary was a profession.
SELECT CLASSES NOW! I fear that it has already opened and many classes are already gone. Please pick as soon as humanly possible. I know you're busy and just got back. Don't feel rushed, but please please please find time.
The idea of spending the holidays with you upon return sounds lovely. I can't wait to share the true meaning of Christmas with each of you at that time. For now, I am focused and razor sharp. I assure you that I am far from slowing down and my mind is as crisp and focus as the day I arrived in Taiwan (if not much more so). We will baptize and we will establish the church here. I love you and can't wait to see you when that time comes. I imagine it's much like our family on the other side of the veil waiting for us. They're excited, but can wait.
I love this gospel. The talks of conference have inspired me to be a better person. I feel as though that I need to repent and come closer to Jesus Christ. I have felt that I must improve and prepare for a family. I don't know how quickly I will pursue the course of marriage post-mission, but it is clear that I want a family of my own very badly, but I understand that much preparation is required. I must establish myself (education, occupation, etc.) in order to have a truly happy family. The Lord has His hand in this and like my patriarchal blessing states (don't post this online), "...and by the spirit you shall know her immediately..." I was particularly impressed by several talks, specifically Elder Uchtdorf's about imperfect members, Elder Dube's about never looking back, but always pressing forward, and Elder Eyring's tender testimony. I love General Conference.
Thank you all for your support. I love you so much. I would love a written letter from each of you BEFORE I return home (hand written is the best of the best). You have much time, but it would really mean a lot to receive this from you all. I would also love it if it included your testimony again. I would love to have your testimonies written on paper by your own hand that I may keep forever and know that my family gave me these on my mission. I would love this.
- Elder Woolsey