Preaching the Gospel in Taiwan

Sunday, November 24, 2013


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

It has been another amazing week in the land of miracles (Taiwan).  I've seen so many times in which the Lord has led us and guided us.  As this week commenced we had interviews with President Blickenstaff.  He's an incredibly inspired man and is always unbelievably kind to me.  I discussed with him how I had a little indecisive regret about going home when I'm going home and he told me that he did the exact same thing on his mission.  He was only home for ten days just like I will be and got right back in the mix of things.  He hates the idea of any sort of alternative.  Such definitive resolution was inspiring and solidified my decision.  It sounds to me like my current mission president's mission was very similar to my own.  It's amazing how the Lord sets things up to be exactly what they need to be.  If I could be successful like our family or his family is, I would be a well pleased man.  I want to fill my life with the gospel and never turn from it.  I love it too much to do anything else.

MOM!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  I wish I could be there with you at this time to give you something, anything more substantial than a typed "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" but I suppose this is the best thing I have to offer at the moment.  I have a card in the works with some pictures, but it's not quite ready for shipping yet. I'm so grateful for a mother that loves me and her family so much.  You honestly are, like you said, young for your age.  You and dad are far from aged.  You two have always impressed me with acquiring such a timeless, young feel.  That aside, your adherence to the principles of the gospel means more than anything.  I recently read (again) the words of the sons of
Helaman who spoke so fondly of their mothers who they truly loved indeed.  They taught them in the gospel and when put to the test, they "did not doubt."  I'm grateful that I have been taught to do the right things by a righteous mother who knows the gospel is true.  I love your example, mom.  Don't worry about me, I'm safe from any sort of typhoons.  The Philippines are rather far from Taiwan so don't fret.  Also, before you know it we'll be eating pizza at Costco and going to movies like Ender's Game together.  You're "seemingly dead" son is about to be resurrected and when I return, you won't know what to do with me.  Don't get too excited for you're about to have another great burden on your hands.  Thank you so much for caring for me.  

This week has been filled with opposition.  We have a Week A right now (that means he will be baptized at the end of this week), but we just found out last night that he has family opposition that is impeding him from being baptized.  We have essentially only a few days to sort this out or he will not be baptized.  His grades having been where they need to be and therefore his parents won't allow him to attend church until this is attended to.  He's so prepared which is the hardest part.  Also, my companion (much like the first day of school), got some strange illness that quickly infected the entire apartment of four.  We all were sick this week.  Much to mom's dismay however, there wasn't a chance in the world that this would affect my regular
proselyting schedule, but that doesn't mean it wasn't any less of a burden.  We've been working diligently despite the inhibition.  

Jordan wrote me again this week which was nice.  He seems to be doing pretty well.  How are Denise and Ray doing?  How's Grandma Wilkes?  I worry about our extended family sometimes.  I don't know why, but I worry about them more recently than before.  Is everyone doing alright?

That's strange about the flight schedule.  I don't know what to say.  I guess he'll get in just before me then.  Odd indeed.  I'll have to look into that at some point.  My very favorite missionary Elder Erickson got his "return itinerary" in the mail today.   He only has four weeks left and only three preparation days left.  It hits me like a sucker punch to know that he's about to return.  He's such a great missionary.  Too weird.

Ender's Game sounds awesome.  I loved the book after deliberating over for a while.  I love the part where he lies on a raft in a lake on earth (or where ever he is) and says that his desire isn't to be better than Peter, but to have Peter love him.  
i hope that this scene is depicted well in the movie, because for me it is the absolute climax of the book.  The fact that he finds accomplishment in attaining love above all other success is the best.  After rereading this portion, I realized that I loved the book.  This sole part made the book genius to me.  The rest is just good.  I'm excited to see it though.  I've honestly contemplating completely eliminating all PG-13 movies from my social media whatsoever.  Unfortunately I've made no conclusive decision and therefore likely will watch them when I return.  Making no stance is the same as submitting to the original pattern of doing things.

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is once again on the horizon.  In the eyes of this missionary, every holiday except for Christmas is insignificant.  I'm excited because you all are excited, but Thanksgiving isn't a very big deal to me.  I'm an intense Christmas junky.  I love it so very, very much.  I can't get enough of the music, the food, the spirit, the charity, the love, the giving, the receiving, the movies, the festivities, everything.  I love everything about that holiday season.  The next one, I'll only be two days from home.  "Where ever you find love, it feels like Christmas."  Last year, no words rang more clearly.  

Keep working hard and don't get distracted by my homecoming.  I'm not getting distracted, that's for certain.

- Elder Woolsey
P.S. A new favorite "hymn": "I LOVE THE LORD" by the BYU men's choir.  Please listen to it.  It's gorgeous.  It's to the tune of Be Still My Soul, but the lyrics are what's incredible.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Time Constraints

Dear Mom, Dad, Eric, Belle, and the alleged "Beast,"

I just want to say how much I love you all.  Time hastens onward and the closer it gets to the end the faster it accelerates.  One lesson I've learned in life however is that when you are focused, enjoying yourself, and working hard, time speeds up and you wonder where time has gone.  When you dislike what you're doing, are being lazy, or unfocused, time seems to crawl and slips through your fingers.  I've come to realize this on my mission.  The first time I trained I experienced the turning point in my maturity and mission.  At this time, I felt for a couple of weeks that time slowed down and looking back was in a slight state of depression.  I felt like I contributed to a problem and didn't remedy it.  Now, looking at the time since then, it has raced by in a flash and each week I type these emails I'm shocked it's Monday again.  I have a great desire to call it back, but like Elder Boyd K. Packer said two conferences ago in his very eloquent and cute poem, 

"If I could now turn back the years,
If that were mine to choose,
I would not barter age for youth,
I’d have too much to lose.
I am quite content to move ahead,
To yield my youth, however grand.
The thing I’d lose if I went back
Is what I understand."

I love what I've experienced and I can't recall it back for if I do, I would be making a great mistake.  This mission has changed me and I can't wait for you all to see that it's true.  It's what I've been working for my entire mission: to honestly change and become more like Christ.  I intend to make these changes permanent.  

Jordan wrote me a long letter.  I'm really grateful that he remembered to write me.  I have lost communication with almost all of my former friends and family members except you all.  Any communication is a blessing indeed.  I love hearing from Jordan.  It sounds like he's doing a lot of traveling and other things of that nature.  It sounds really exciting actually.  I can't wait to see him and the rest of the family again at some point. 

How are Denise and Ray doing?  Are they attending church meetings?  Are they happy?  How are things on their end?

Mom, you look super pretty in those pictures!

Snow.  I fear snow.  I can't imagine what it feels like anymore.  I worry I'm going to dry out like a prune.  

There is so much going on at home, I hope that I don't provide too big of a distraction. I just want to help in any way possible.  I don't know how, but I can help.  I pray for this situation every night.  I hope that it works out for the better of the family.  

I love you all so much.  I'm doing great, and I keep getting distracted by class selection.  Thank you so much for loving me so much.  I love you all.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

2 Samuel 14:14

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

2 Samuel 14:14, “For we must needs [go home], and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”

My mission is passing on "wings of lightning" and seems as though water spilt that cannot again be gathered.  I can stare at it, I can think about its patterns, reflections, and other characteristics, but no matter how hard I try, I can't get that water back in my cup.  I think of how much I've changed and how much I haven't.  When I think of those moments I have changed, I get excited and reminiscent, and when I think of those problems and struggles I still have, I feel inadequate and unworthy to represent the Lord.  Preparation days often make me feel this way.  They are times of reflection and I don't wish want to return anything less than a fully converted disciple of Jesus Christ.  

It's a new move call.  I have already been in JiaYi for six weeks.  That seems crazy to me.  Something exciting happened though.  My apartment just became a four-man which means that we have two new missionaries.  One of which is my last companion Elder Chan from England.  How crazy is that?  We are living together again and it's a lot of fun.  Four-mans are distracting though.  I want to be more focused, and I feel like adding another companionship is going to be a trial, especially considering that Elder Chan came on with me and is essentially going home at the same time.  I want to avoid all talk of anything related to us going home, but somehow it weasels itself into conversations and I have to force it down and out.  It will be a lot of fun though.

Declare me as an English major and pick my classes immediately please.  I worry that I won't be able to go to school properly in the Winter before too much longer, and it's too late to extend.  Don't feel bad about being distracted though.  Naturally that's going to happen when something so intense happens.  If you're OK though, please fill out those things for me.  The time is drawing nigh and I need those things taken care of as soon as possible.  I can get permission to do them myself if needs be.

I hope that Halloween goes well for you all.  I love being with you all during holidays, but Halloween is just a blip on the radar right now, barely recognizable or noteworthy.  

No matter what our trials, they are for our benefit.  I love the gospel because it is truth.  The gospel is the only thing that will save us from our own destruction and inevitable demise.  The gospel will save us and make us happy.  I'm grateful that the Lord saw it fit to give us the gospel.  I want to apply it in my life forever, because it's increasingly rewarding.

This week, we found out that some of our investigators are truly awesome and will likely get baptized next month.  It's really exciting.  We have this family who wants our help so desperately, but it is so difficult to help them.  They are very not intelligent and they struggle to understand nearly anything, but they are so desperate.  They plea with us to help them practically and have seen tons of blessings come from just meeting with us (like them mother's mental problem healing slightly and the children being happier after our first meeting and prayer), but they can't wrap their minds around much of anything.  It's so hard to want to help someone so bad, but not to have a clue how to do it properly.  The Lord will assist, I know it.  

I love you all so much, please take care of yourselves.  Inspire me to work harder.  Inspire me to sprint and push myself.

- Elder Woolsey

The Father's Love

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

I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that loves my family more than I can possibly imagine.  He sends His heavenly angels to bear us up on all sides.  He loves us and guides us with His all-seeing eye.  He is mindful of you all and especially mindful of Dad right now.  In these challenges are when He carries us.  I'm so grateful that He protects my family.  They mean everything to me.

Oddly enough, my fellow missionary had a similar experience happen that he just told me of this last week.  His dad was mountain biking (instead of street biking), and got in a serious accident (of which can't be clearly remembered by him).  He was found sprawled out on the mountain side by a half-hysterical woman.  Apparently his helmet was completely shattered, his collar-bone broke in half, both arms are broken I believe, and he lost his memory of the two weeks prior to the accident.  He's alive, but in casts. Strange that these two experiences happened so near to one another.  His dad is not a member, however.  I'm so grateful that my family knows this gospel clearly and not only knows it, but lives it.  No matter what happens to our family, it will be OK, because we have the Lord assisting us.  I will not fear, I will not doubt.

I'm just happy you're OK Dad.

This week we had a conference in GaoXiong focused on stress management and how leaders can help others who are having difficulties adjusting to missionary life.  It was really beneficial to hear President's counsel and personal experiences in which he had become depressed and needed to get his life in balance.  He's a really humble man who says his weaknesses, but not in a pitiful way.  He's not afraid to admit he's wrong, but he maintains his power. We also were introduced to our a new uniforms.  We, at night, are now to wear reflective gear similar to that of a cross-guard.  Not too many Elders were excited about it, but most laughed it off and wear the uniform with pride.  I like the idea of knowing I'm safer that before, but it is pretty funny looking.  Members make fun of us, and non-members all think it's a smart idea.  It was strange though.  At this meeting, the group of missionaries that came to Taiwan a movecall before me gave their reflections (a time in which they have a few moments to sum up what their mission has meant to them).  I'm next.  I don't know how I feel about it.  I was in tears as one of my favorite Elders: Elder Erickson, gave the most sincere, heartfelt testimony, in the form of a poem he wrote.  I can't even imagine how badly I'm going to cry when he actually leaves or worse...when it's my turn.  

There was another exciting event this week that allows me to understand more fully why President is focusing so much on
JiaYi.  A member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and President of the Asia Area came to our District Conference on Sunday to declare tidings from the first presidency and add his voice to the motivation being injected into JiaYi to become a stake.  It's pretty exciting.  Also, Elder Holland and Elder Hales, along with the Primary Presidency First Counselor spoke to us through video (translated into Chinese of course).  They are really focusing on establishing the church more fully in Taiwan and throughout the Asia Area.  Another interesting tid-bit is that they made a video about this family in Taiwan that spread the gospel with their friends who got baptized as well.  They are pushing member-missionary work like crazy.  It's thrilling.

I suppose that because of the accident, Dad didn't have an opportunity to see Nate's report to the High Council.  If you did, I would love to hear about it.  If not, I would love to hear what other people said about it.  I imagine that he is more polished than ever before.  He's a wonderful individual.  I bet he was a well-prepared and well-oiled tool in the Lord's hand and will continue to be for the rest of his life.
With regards to getting a suit made, I'm working on it.  The place that most missionaries go to isn't in JiaYi.  I would need special permission to go to TaiNan and do it.  Aside from that, I don't know where other places to buy suits would be.  I'll keep an eye out, but I don't know what the likelihood is right.  My suit pants have multiple holes in them (only one pair).  I'll keep working on it.  Don't worry too much.  My old suit isn't in tatters or anything crazy like that.

With regards to classes.  I would say to register me as an English Major and we'll go from there.  I know I have interest in English. I've actually been thinking more and more about a Chemistry major because I have been thinking more and more about pursuing a medical career.  I don't know.  I think for now, let's go with this option (my first mission president graduated in English then went to medical school at DUKE).  I think that my options aren't too limited yet, so lets go with English major and we'll see where that goes for now.  I would just like to encourage you again to enroll in classes ASAP or I won't be going next semester at all.  I know things are a little crazy around the house there right now, so take your time, but I would just like this to be present in the front of your mind because I do really worry about it.  I want to make sure that not extending was the right decision.  I have living situation all worked out and solidified (in that it is a done deal for that house with ex-missionaries and an LDS family).  Please set those things up as soon as possible (and convenient of course).

I'm doing well.  I'm safe and I don't have any major trials.  We have some golden investigators that appeared out of no where this week. I imagine that baptisms are on the near horizon.  Thank you all for your support and consistent love for me.  I love you all so much.  I'm working as hard as I can.  I'm sprinting and have no intentions of slowing down.  You're the best family anyone can ask for.  I know the Lord is protecting us and showing his love for us.  I often reflect on that moment of Eric returning to us after his mission.  He stood from the pulpit at the Crescent View Stake Center and with two battered arms and the tongue of angels declared with unwavering faith that the Lord protects His missionaries.  I know that that is true and extends out of the mission field into the homes of those missionaries.  He loves us so much and He protects us from danger daily.

I love you all so much.  Never forget that.  
- Elder Woolsey