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


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