Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Celebrations...

  Ni Hao,

  This past week we have really been preparing for S... baptism this Saturday. He is so excited and has been looking forward to this day for a very long time. We've also been meeting with his two daughters a few times and I hope we can continue to meet with them. They're really nice too. I hope that they and his wife will be able to attend his baptism and that his wife can have a change of heart.  S... really wants to be baptized, so he's not going to let anything stop him this time. It's funny, whenever he hears something he likes in church, or in any film we show him, he'll make some sort of hmmm and get really into it!

   We had a fun Christmas party for our English class last week. It was pretty well attended and we had a bunch of fun games and activities. We had snowflake making, pin the carrot on the snowman, a snowball fight (dodgeball), musical chairs, lots of goodies, and pictures with Santa! Elder Page dressed up as Santa and all the kids loved taking pictures with him haha. A lot of the people didn't want to play the games. They just wanted to sit in their chairs and play on their iPhones! What's the world coming too!
   We also got together as a zone to sing Christmas songs by the Tainan train station. It turned out to be a very interesting night. We picked the coldest and windiest day so far this year! No one wanted to stay and listen to us because the weather was so bad. Also the wind would blow away all of our music, and even the chairs that we had set up for people to sit on. We set up to sing next to a giant Christmas tree outside a mall. When we were singing the tree automatically turned on and started blasting this really shrill Christmas music. It was totally drowning out our singing! Eventually this one member got fed up with it and climbed into the tree and unplugged it haha. It was a fun night.
   The stake put on a big Christmas pageant a few days ago and we all gathered together up in Yongkang to watch it. We listened to the Christmas story with narration and singing except this time, as you would imagine, it was in Chinese so it sounded really cool! The singing was...interesting, to say the least, but we all had fun.
   I don't know what my favorite food would be, most of what I try is really good. I generally like to get fried rice here. It's really good and they have a bunch of different ways to prepare it. They also have cool bread shops here with a ton of fancy breads. They aren't as thick as the bread in the U.S. They're more like artisan breads. We eat a lot of stuff for breakfast. Elder Brady bought me some pancake mix from Costco before he left, so we've been eating that lately. We also have juabing which is basically like a crepe with onion and spices, and an egg in the middle. It's pretty good.  We also eat oatmeal which tastes really different here, but it's really cheap so we eat that a lot.

   Well that's all I've got for this week. I'm excited to talk with you all this week though! I think I'll probably just call you at 10:30 or so on the iPad so I can talk with both of you. Hopefully we'll all have good connection or Eric and I will have a tough time talking! Also, I'm sending a Christmas package home today so it'll come sometime soon....I hope. I love you all! See you soon!

I Received Word From My Former Missionary Companions That
C... Was Baptized!

Mission Lunch In Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Pday Emails

Bright Lights At Christmas Pageant

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Week Before Christmas...

Hi Everyone,
  I can't believe that it's already so close to Christmas! It's coming up so quickly and I didn't even realize it, haha. I guess it's because we're so busy we don't even think about it. We'd better start thinking though, because we have a big Christmas party for the English class we teach and Elder Smith and I are in charge of making hot cocoa and organizing a snowball fight. No, there isn't any snow here, but we're getting a bunch of balls and folding up some of our socks to use. We're trying to stay pretty cheap lol. That's coming up this Wednesday and should be really fun. I love having the English class because we get so many people to teach from it. Last week I was talking with a guy named D... and he said that he wanted to meet with us this Thursday so I'm excited for that.
  We had an amazing miracle yesterday. The trio of Elders in our district (Elders Brady, Galura, and Page) had met this cool member family the R... who had said they had some friends, a young couple from the Philippines named B... and D... living with them who where interested and were asking lots of questions about what happened after we die. D... father had recently died, and B... brother had too. They were afraid that their family was going to Hell because they had made some mistakes. We got to talk with them about what happens when we die, and the opportunity we still have to change if we had never heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ while on earth. We shared about baptisms for the dead. We told them that their loved ones would have the chance to accept the gospel in the afterlife and be baptized. D... just started to cry for joy right then, and they agreed to be baptized! The Spirit was so strong in the lesson, and with 5 missionaries teaching, we were all in sync and taught the best lesson I'd ever been in. Actually it was all because we were following the promptings of the Spirit. I'm really excited for them! Oh, and as a plus, they all speak English, so I was actually able to share in the majority of the lesson for once haha. It's such a relief.
  Before we taught them, they made us a huge dinner! It was a ton of really good Filipino food. Their rule was that we weren't allowed to leave until all the food was gone...turned out to be pretty hard. We struggled for the next 2 hours to finish it all. The problem was that the lady would steal my plate and instantly add another mountain of rice on it! And they had this thing called bitter melon that is really...bitter. It was the main dish.  It seemed that Elder Page and I were the only ones who could eat very much, so we did most of the heavy lifting during that meal.
  On the way from the R... house, Elder Page's bike pedal randomly fell off and we still had about 20 minutes left to bike to our next appointment. So we all helped push and pull him the rest of the way there, which was not fun because there were a lot of hills, mostly going up. It was a rather inspirational story because we fought against the odds, and helped out our fellow comrade and still made it to our appointment on time! 
  Well, we got locked out of the apartment again, but this time I made Elder Smith go up through the window because I was tired of doing it. He was lucky though, because there was a ladder sitting right next to us this time, so he just climbed up that. Hopefully that'll be the last time.
  Things are looking very promising for us. We also had another investigator named L... who agreed to be baptized this March! She was originally planning on waiting for two years before she would make that step, but she decided to move it up. She's golden. The trio of Elders were originally teaching her, but since they are moving, we will be teaching her now, or actually have her teach us. She has read and knows all the lessons.  She reads the scriptures at least 30 minutes before she studies for school, and has a solid testimony already. She's only officially been taught twice though!
  Well that's about it for this week. The singing sounded really good Alexa! I enjoyed listening to it. Keep up the good work. And Ian I'm glad that you guys won your last soccer game of the season. That's always good to end on a high note. I think that calling you at 10 your time would be good. I'll try to get in touch with Eric and plan a time to call him. I'm really excited! Well, I just had another interesting thing to add. Every morning I actually shower in the kitchen because they randomly have a shower sitting there, so sometimes I'll heat up my food while I'm taking a shower haha. It's rather convenient. Well I love you all! Have a great week!!
My District
Elders Smith, Stevens, Brady, Galura, and Page
Sisters Funk and Chang
Da Tung Lu, The Street My Dad Use To Live On In 1970

Random Rural Fields


Helping Elder Brady Get Home On One Pedal 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Party, Exotic Animals, Burning Money...

  Hey how is everyone doing!? It's always so hard for me to organize my thoughts and write everything I did because there's so much to talk about! First of all I want to say that we have an investigator with a baptismal date! His name is Su DX. He investigated the church around 8 years ago but his wife was against it so he stopped. Elder Smith was on exchanges a few weeks ago and found his record in a pile of old former records and decided to call him. He said he was excited to learn again and this time he wouldn't let anything stop him from baptism! That's a crazy miracle to find his record out the midst of so many. We set a date with him for the 27th of December. I really hope that he will be able to follow through and set an example for the rest of his family. His kids seem to have some interest as well. For the month of December our mission has a goal like Eric's. We want to have 100 baptisms this month. Pretty much we want every companionship to have a baptism and more if possible. Everyone in our district has someone on date! And we have several investigators who want to be baptized after we sort out some concerns.
  We also got locked out of our apartment..again. So I had to climb back up those signs...again. It was a lot easier than last time, I'm getting used to it. Maybe we should just not use the keys ever and climb through the window every time. It's more fun that way.
  On the 4th of December our mission had it's Christmas party! We went to a pretty Buddhist Temple. I think it was called the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple but I'm not sure. I just had a little stamp that said that haha. The temple was huge!! and it had the biggest seated Buddha statue in the world! There was a big wall around the temple grounds and towers and statues all over. Also there were a ton of stairs to walk up. I felt like I was in Kung Fu Panda haha. It looked pretty much like that. There were a lot of cool rooms inside the temple and a lot of monks and people were worshiping in them. I didn't take any pics of those because I felt like that might be a little sacrilegious. It was a really neat experience though. As soon as we started to bike from our house to the bus station, it started pouring rain on us. Then, once we got off the buses at the temple, it started pouring rain again! We got drenched, but luckily it cleared up for the big mission picture we took and for some other pics I wanted to take.
  We run into a lot of interesting people here. Just an example, we knocked on a guy's door and he excitedly let us in. We came in with high expectations. Then the guy started to talk about how his brother was attacked by a spirit and was possessed. Things started to get weird, and he asked us to perform an exorcism to free his brother. We weren't exactly thrilled to go about doing that. I don't think that there was anything actually wrong with his brother and then he just said that when he was at a hospital the doctors attacked him with sound waves or something. I think they were just both a little...crazy so we tried to get out as soon as we could. They also gave us some fruit to eat that I think had been sitting out for a few weeks. My tongue started burning from the acid build up in the fruit. All in all, not a successful tract.
  People also always want to take pictures of us! We'll just be riding our bikes down the street and I'll see off to the side, some people taking pictures of us. And when we stop at stop lights, I'll glance at the people next to me (usually girls in this case) and they'll quickly put their camera or phone away and giggle. I'm going to start charging them by having them read a church pamphlet in return for pics of us. We were at a park with an investigator we'd just met and some girls came up and wanted to take pics with us. We aren't allowed to say no, unfortunately, so we spent the next hour posing with them. It was actually more like 2 minutes but it still took forever because they kept doing different poses and swapping in and out. We feel like exotic animals that have escaped from the zoo!
  Another fun fact. A ton of people here like to worship their ancestors and will burn things that they think will then be sent to their deceased relatives. So we always see people outside their homes and businesses burning fake money in little trash can fires.
  Well I'm glad that you got all the ornaments up on the Christmas tree successfully! That's always a lot of work. At least you kept up the lights around the house all year Dad so you didn't have to spend a whole week putting them up! I'm surprised it's not snowing very much in Ohio. It isn't snowing here either in case you were wondering. Actually it did a little on the very top of the mountains for a bit. It literally snowed like 20 flakes and the whole news was freaking out about all of the snow! Also everyone but us is bundled in huge coats and it feels like 60 degrees!
  Well that's all I've got. I hope you all have a great week! I'm excited for you to go to Nepal. That'll be fun! Love you lots!

Fo Guang Shan Buddist Temple, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Taiwan, Taichung Mission 

Elder Smith and Elder Stevens


Monday, December 1, 2014

An Amazing First Week!!

Alright, it's time to tell about my many adventures in the tropical island of Taiwan! We've had a pretty fun week and got a lot done. First I'll give you an update on some of our investigators. Actually it's more like an introduction since you don't know who they are yet. We have a guy named L... Dixiong (dixiong means brother and all their names sound the same and are confusing so I just say brother/sister so and so) L... DX has a wife who was recently baptized and the missionaries have been working with him for a while to see if he would like to be baptized as well. There hasn't been a lot of progress. He was supposed to be baptized this coming Saturday but he hasn't been reading or praying so he doesn't know if the church is true or not. He said he would put more effort in.