Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone!

  I'm so happy that I had the chance to skype with my family last week. That was a lot of fun. Everyone seems to be looking good and to be having a good time in all that they are doing! What was better, I got to skype you all twice! (it was because we had a problem with getting a hold of my companion's parents haha) So that was pretty special! But now the problem is that I don't really know what to write in this week's email haha. I guess I'll kind of just sum up the week.

  We're still doing our thing out here in Xihu and working hard and trying out best to find people that we can meet with. So far we have seen some more glimpses of success. After church, we met with a lady that had met with missionaries about 4 or 5 years ago, and since then has still read the Book of Mormon periodically and loves to pray. I asked her what her favorite thing that the last missionaries taught her was and she said "The Plan of Salvation!" (she even remembered the name!) becuase it helps her to have guidance in her life. She's a nurse and really busy working in a different city a lot of the time, but she said she wants to continue to meet and learn more!! 

  Come to think of it, we actually had a really good week. We've been to visit a lot of members, both active and less active, and have gotten several lessons through tracting recently. Most of our time is spent just on the streets, tracting, or looking for former investigators and less active members. Not to brag or anything, but we are leading the whole zone (by a long shot!) with the amount of time spent finding on the streets. We are hoping that this work will start paying off soon! Elder Cole is a great companion and I really enjoy working with him. He is a hard worker and doesn't let things discourage him! I think that we are going to find something together, I just have this feeling. 

  Other than that, we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, with good old Elder Lauti from the MTC. It was the first time that I've been on exchanges with someone from my MTC district so that was a lot of fun seeing how much each of us has grown so far. We also saw a lot of miracles while we were together. I went over to their area, and while we were still having our DTM (district meeting) a guy just randomly came up to the church and said he wanted to learn more about Christianity. He had gone to a Christian church before when he visited Canada, but wanted to learn more. We gave him a tour of the church and he agreed to meet again later that week. At night we also met with a really awesome guy who is Christian, but hasn't been to church for a while because he didn't like how the leaders in the other church were just the ones that paid the most money. He still really wants to follow Jesus Christ though and without any bit of hesitation said he wanted to be baptized if he found that our church was true. When we asked if he wanted to be baptized if he discovered it was true, he actually said "dangran" which means, "obviously!" So that was really cool!

  And then on Christmas morning, Elder Cole and I opened up our packages/Christmas presents. It was a lot of fun to open them all up! Last year I just opened up my packages in the beginning of December when I got them, but then when Christmas came it was really depressing not having anything to open haha. This Christmas was many times better than last years! Thanks so much for all the presents and for the letters! It was a great Christmas and I'm having a great time! I love you all lots!

Elder Stevens

Random Rice Fields

Workers Out In The Rice Fields

Christmas Gifts.  Thank You!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas!!

Dear Everyone,

 Merry Christmas!!! I hope that all of you back home are having a good time celebrating this wonderful time of the year! I really love Christmas time. Even though the weather isn't the best, it's still my favorite time of the year. It's even better to celebrate Christmas in Taiwan because the weather isn't even a problem! I'm really grateful for the Spirit that Christmas brings to missionary work. I'm thankful for the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for each and every one of us. I'm thankful that because of His sacrifice for us, we are able to overcome the challenges and obstacles that we all face. I love watching the videos: Because of Him, and also, Because He Lives. They are really powerful and really simple and powerfully illustrate the importance of what Christ did for us.

  This week has been a lot of fun. Elder Cole and I are having a good time together and trying our hardest to find effective ways of doing the work in the rural areas of Xihu.  We have worked very hard so far, and I believe that with continued diligence, eventually we will start to see some results from our efforts. I am really enjoying serving here and this time has really helped me to learn a lot of new things! This week we also got to celebrate some Christmas activities. The ward has been really good at getting some parties together. Actually one of the members is a teacher at a smaller school here and she invited us and a few other members to put on a little show for the students after school. It was so much fun! It was a school for kids from about 6 to 14 and the majority of them were really young. They wanted us to share the Christmas story and sing some Christmas songs for everyone. So Elder Cole and I got up on the stage and told the story and showed the pictures we had drawn (they didn't look very good) and they all loved it! Most of the kids, because they live so far out in the country had never seen American's in person so they went crazy when we walked in haha. It was insane! Then after the show, we did a little question and answer thing where we'd ask some questions to see if the kids remembered anything and then we would give them candy if they got it right. I asked them "How can Jesus help us?" no one raised their hand and they all sat, thinking of how to respond. Then, finally a little boy hesitantly raised his hand and said "He gives presents to the kids." I guess he's technically right. So I gave him some candy.

  We also had a ward Christmas party with food, a little video, and a talent show. They roped Elder Cole and I into singing a duet, so that was fun. It actually sounded pretty good haha. All in all we had a great week, and I'm excited for this next week. I hope you all have a great Christmas!! I can skype my time 10am on Christmas morning. Which is probably 7 pm  your time Christmas eve. I don't know what the user name will be that I'm using though. I'm super excited to talk with you all though!!

  Have a very Merry Christmas!

Elder Stevens

My MTC Companions!  Nice Reunion

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mini Move Call... And Christmas Party!!

Hey everyone! 

Well after just being here in Xihu with Elder Williams for only three weeks, we had another move. Elder Williams in transferring to an even more rural place called Huwei and I will have a new companion named Elder Cole. I'm really sad that Elder Williams is leaving after I just barely arrived here. He was a really great companion and missionary. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot together. It's not everyday that I get to have a Samoan companion! I will miss him a lot. My new companion Elder Cole seems really nice though. Before the mission, he was really good friends with Elder Pearce from my MTC district. He just got down with training about three weeks ago so he's still fairly new.

  Last week Elder Williams and I had a great week though. It was out mission Christmas party. You probably already know though from seeing all the mission pictures on the blog. It was pretty fun, especially because we got a chance to talk with a lot of the missionaries that I'd served with before or I really like. I got to see everyone from my original district back in the MTC and we got some pictures. Hopefully I'll be able to send them next week when I get them. We went up to a place called Puli to visit a place that I'm sure you've all heard of, Sun Moon Lake. It was actually a lot bigger of a lake than I thought it would be. I envisioned it as a lot smaller with temples and stuff all leading out into the lake, but it was still really pretty and I enjoyed going there. Actually most of the time was spent taking the picture with every missionary by that tower. It was up on the top of the hill by the lake, and we spending an hour or two just standing there taking it and making sure that it was a perfect picture. Dad it was even worse than taking all that time with the pictures taken by you haha. It was alright though. We also went to a chidaobao (all you can eat place) with a lot of good food.

  Other than the Christmas party, it was a pretty normal week. Elder Williams and I went to visit lots of less active members and to do a lot of tracking. Actually the very first house that we knocked on this week turned out to be fun. The guy instantly opened up and let us really quick. I was super pumped and expecting a miracle and this guy to be super awesome and willing to listen.  But when we sat down together, he just kept watching the TV and didn't really say anything to us. He just would nod his head to anything we said to him and watch the TV haha. Eventually he said that we had to go before his wife came back so we just got up and left. it was quite bizarre.

  We just spent a lot of time tracking, but we didn't really see much results yet. Maybe we need to go a little further from the main town. The people we talked to this week didn't quite seem that excited to talk with us. I'm excited to see what things that Elder Cole and I can do together.

   Thanks so much for preparing those packages for me! I'm excited to get them! I don't know if I should save them for Christmas or if I should just open them right when I get them. It's really hard to wait for these type of things haha. I'll keep you updated on what we're going to do for skyping. We could probably do it Christmas morning our time here. But I'll let you know. Well, I love you all lots! Have  a great week!

Elder Stevens 

Puli, Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake

I Caught A Fish This Big!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 2 In Xihu!!

Hi Everyone,

  So....week 2 in Xihu... It's been a lot of fun so far! My companion Elder Williams is a really great guy and we have lots of fun together. We've also been seeing some signs of success here, and lots of little miracles here and there.

  So this week we met with a member Sister Lu who recently just came back from inactivity. She wanted us to go over with some ward members and to meet her husband who is not a member. We went over with Brother and Sister Shi, an awesome couple in our ward, and also with another member, Brother Chen. We had a great talk with Brother Chen (Sister Lu's husband, their names are different) and the Shi family shared their experience of how the gospel completely changed their lives and blessed their family. Brother Shi used to be an alcoholic, and just smoke and drink all day and trash up their house. They lived in complete poverty. But then they were able to change and now after 10 years in the church they have completely changed everything around and are a great family. We talked a lot with Brother Chen about how the gospel can bless families and we shared the Proclamation to the World with him. It was a great lesson and we all invited him to come to church in two weeks with his family! I hope he can come. It might be a little slower going with him, but we'll work a little bit at a time.

  Also we spent a night with the Elders in Yuanlin because we had to get on the train early to go to Zhanghua and get on a bus to go to the temple! It was great! I got to ride up with Elder Lauti. I've rarely seen him since we got to Taiwan but now he's my zone leader and so we got to go up together! This time going to the temple it wasn't raining so I got some pictures! I love going to the temple! When we got back though, we were exhausted haha. When we go to the temple we don't get our regular p-day so it's a little more tiring, but it's worth it!

   This week we also met with a guy named J.... He's pretty cool and he just graduated from college and is working. His teacher referred him to come to our English class here and we've taught him a couple times. Eventually, we shared the Plan of Salvation with him this last time and he seemed to really appreciate it. He's been to many churches before, but couldn't seem to find the answers he was looking for. So a few years ago he gave up and decided that we couldn't find those answers in this life and was content just to live a good life. He's a little hesitant to try to search again into what he views as just another church, but he is coming along slowly. He says he wants to know, and wants to be baptized when he knows it is true! He's really cool!

  We also tried to go around our area to tract and look for former investigators. We didn't see tons of success, but we got lost late at night, really far from our house haha. It was pretty fun, but it was getting late so we had to hurry up and find our way back. We found a cool arch in the middle of the rice fields. It was really weird to see it when for miles around all there is is fields.

  It has been a blast so far. We've also been working hard to call lots of the people that missionaries have met in the past. We have a HUGE stack of papers and we spend at least an hour or two calling through them. We set up someone for tomorrow that we called so it's working! It's a lot of fun here in Xihu! I love you all lots! I'm pumped to skype you all coming up! It's coming up quick!

Love you

Elder Stevens

Temple Trip, Taipei, Taiwan

Apartment Study Room 

Apartment Main Room, Center Of The Floor Is Our Dresser

Xihu Ward Chapel

Our Apartment Building 

Random Road

Arch In The Middle Of Rice Fields

Monday, November 30, 2015

Life In Xihu...

Hello Everyone, 

 I want to start out by saying I didn't forget about Dad's or Grandpa's birthday! I just forgot to include the birthday wishes in the last email...sorry about that. I remembered them in my heart though so that is what's important! So I thought I would make up for it by wishing a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! And a HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDPA! It seemed like you had a great birthday! Grandpa you certainly had a lot of birthday cards this year!! That's pretty impressive. I don't think I've ever gotten that many birthday cards before. You are very loved by all of us! Dad you are too! This certainly is the birthday season! It seems like everyone's birthday is in November.

  This week has been a great one. It's a little interesting adjusting to my new area. Unfortunately, I didn't take a whole lot of pictures of the surrounding area, but I'll do that this next week. It's a pretty flat area, not a lot of hills. It's near the sea...kind of. Our area stretches to the ocean, but our main area is a few hours away. We still get the strong sea breezes though and it's pretty cold. I pulled out my jacket for the first time a few nights ago. We went out to one of our secondary areas to help a member move, and we biked about an hour and a half to get there. The wind was fighting against us the whole time! The travel back was even more fun because we were tired and could hardly see a thing since we were in the middle of a bunch of rice fields with no lights! Yes Dad, to answer your question, I've actually seen some people here. It's actually a little bigger than I first expected and it even has one McDonalds here so this is a pretty developed place!    It's a little harder to find people to teach, and it's been a while since missionaries have found new investigators. They just meet with the same ones over and over again and there hasn't been a lot of progress. We have been working hard with the ward so far and for some reason the ward really likes me haha. They told me that they hope I can help turn things around...that's a lot of pressure but I'm willing to do it. One of the members even came up to me and said she wanted me to meet with her family and teach them. She was a less active member until she recently started coming back to church and now she hopes we can help her husband who has interest in learning about the church. So things are looking brighter already! I hope I can do a good job here, I'll need lots of your prayers though!

   Btw, I'm not district leader anymore, I'm too far out in the boonies to really be an effective leader or to help anyone if they need it haha. I have a great companion. Elder Williams is pretty cool. He's really chill, and he's really willing to try new things. He had to serve in New Zealand for about 6 months before he finally got his visa to come to Taiwan so it's been a little harder to pick up the language after that long of a break. He's doing great!

   Sorry I'm writing so much, but we had a great week. The whole mission got the privilege of going up to Taichung and listening to the new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Stevenson, speak to us. His son just finished up his mission here last week and so he was coming to pick him up and to give us some training. It was really neat to be able to listen to his experiences. He was a mission president in Japan a few years ago and he told us a lot of his stories and I learned a lot of things that I could do to improve. It was great!

   Actually, in the morning, before we headed out that morning to go to the meeting, I had the feeling that I needed to grab a copy of the Book of Mormon. I wasn't planning on taking a lot of stuff because it would be annoying to carry it all the way to the mission office, but I had the feeling again, so I just grabbed one and put it in my bag. Then on the bus and train ride I kept looking for opportunities to share it with someone, but nothing happened. I kind of forgot about the feeling and just thought maybe I was wrong. But then on the last leg of the trip home after the meeting, we got on the last bus and I sat down next to a college guy. I just started talking to him about school and stuff and then he said randomly, "Hey you're Christian right?" I told him I was and he said he wanted me to tell him more about it. He said he's heard about lots of different religion but that he has no idea what to do because there are so many churches he doesn't know which one is right, or how to know which was right. I didn't need to be asked twice, and so I pulled out the Book of Mormon and shared with him some scriptures about finding truth. I started from God and shared how He has given us his eternal truths that are unchanging and can guide us in life. I talked about how we have a living prophet that leads us today. I told him that he could know the truth by reading and praying about it and asking God, the source of all truth, which church is true and God would answer his prayer. He excitedly  took the Book of Mormon and said he would read it that night and that next week he would go look for the missionaries where he lived. He doesn't live in our area but we exchanged numbers and I told the Elders in the other area to call him up. It was really cool!

  I'm glad you all had a great Thanksgiving. We celebrated by going and meeting with Elder Stevenson so that was pretty nice. We didn't get any good food or anything though. Actually I forgot it was Thanksgiving because Elder Williams is from Samoa so he doesn't celebrate it haha. Oh well, I'll just have to wait until next year for some good food. I'm excited for Christmas though so I can talk with you all. I'll see how we'll work that out. i don't think that skype actually works this far out in the country side though.... haha don't worry it probably does.

  Well I love you all lots! I'm really enjoying my time here in Xihu! The Lord definitely sees that I'm not perfect and need lots of help so He has indeed blessed us a lot in this area so far! Thanks for all the prayers and love! I love you all!


Elder Stevens

Special Meeting With Elder Stevenson.  Can You Find Me?

My Rental Bike Until Mine Arrived.


Elder Stevens And Elder Williams

A Few Photos From My Last Area Nanzi

Monday, November 23, 2015

Leaving Nanzi And My Friends...

  Hey everyone! 

  Today was a sad day. My time in Nanzi has drawn to a close and now I have been assigned to serve in another part of beautiful Taiwan. It's a place called Xihu and it is very small. Actually our area boundaries are some of the biggest in the mission, but the population here is....not very much. So now I am sitting in an internet cafe in the middle of nowhere haha. It's super cool though. I have usually served in the city or factory areas of Taiwan, and now it's my first time serving in a place out in the country. Actually my previous companion Elder Moore served here before and I've heard lots of stories of this place. One of which is that there are more dogs here than there are people. We will see... 

  But before I left Nanzi Elder Grisenti and I had some last few stories and miracles together.  We had planned to have a lesson with a guy that usually is always able to meet, and never cancels appointments. But then for some reason he didn't show up, and when we called him, he said that he had completely forgotten and that he couldn't meet with us. At first we were a little sad, because we had already had our other lessons for the day cancel on us too. But then about a minute or two after we finished talking with our friend, the church chapel phone rang. I answered and it was a women that really wanted to come to our church English class, but was always too intimidated to come. So she had decided to call our church and see what we were like. She asked if she could come over right then and tour our church. Before I could respond she said that she would come over right then, and then she hung up! I called up the Sister missionaries to come to the church to help her out. And then when she came the Sisters gave her a tour, and had a lesson with her right then. And now she is continuing to meet with the Sisters. If we wouldn't have had a cancelled lesson at the church, then that whole thing would've have happened.

   We also met up with our friend W... S... H.., and he is still awesome. He has started to read the Book of Mormon, and says that when he has questions, he goes and talks with one of his college professors who is a member as well. He has a really strong desire to change and set a baptismal goal for the 2nd of January. Unfortunately I won't be there to help him along the way, but I know that Elder Grisenti will continue to do a great job. He really is an amazing missionary. I'm really sad that we will no longer be working together.

   We also had a fun activity at the church. A member taught a little class on how to make handmade lotion, and chapstick. It was actually pretty cool to see how it was done. It looked far too complicated for me to do myself, but at least I have a little of the finished products to take with me and use! We also went and played basketball with A... one of the nights. It was a lot of fun. I hadn't played in a while, but it was still a lot of fun. It was a good last time together with A.... I really hope that he will continue to come to church and be able to work  out his concerns. He has a lot of desire, but I hope that his doubts and concerns don't get in the way of that progression!

   It was really sad to leave Nanzi. I was especially sad to leave Elder Grisenti and S.... They are both awesome. S... has really grown so much and is a great guy. I remember when I first met him, he was a little bit of a pessimistic guy and now he is super happy and I've seen that the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel has really helped to change his perspective on life and the challenges that we face. It's super cool to see that change. Both him and Elder Grisenti went with me to the train station this morning, but we were running late and there were no time for "goodbyes". After riding the subway to the train station, I had to sprint with all my luggage to the platform, and made it onto the train literally one, or maybe two seconds before the doors closed!! It was too close! haha. But now I've made it to Xihu and my new companion is named Elder Williams. He's from all over the place.  He was born in New Zealand, and moved to Utah, and then to Samoa. He's a cool guy that just finished up his training here. So we should have a great time! Despite the challenges that we sometimes face, I love being a missionary, and I love all that we get to do! I'm looking forward to the new challenges and adventures that lay ahead here in Xihu!
I love you all lots!

Elder Stevens

I Will Miss These Great Friends

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tender Mercies...

Dear Everyone,

First off I'd like to start out by wishing my Mom a very happy birthday! 媽媽!你生日快樂!我也祝你平安和健康!我希望你的願望都應驗! (Translation:  MOM! happy birthday to you! I wish you health and peace! I hope all of your wishes come true!) 

  I hope that you all had a great time together and made some super good foods! Did Eric make some good Japanese foods for your birthday? I was celebrating your birthday over here in Taiwan. I made sure to tell everyone it was your birthday in all the lessons that we had! Thanks for all that you do for the family and for me! Thanks for the emails and the packages and all the advice that you give! I know that you are sad I couldn't be home for your birthday (at least I think so..) but I know that you are happier that I'm out here serving! I love you lots Mom!

  I'm glad to hear that the package made it home alright and the goodies inside were all intact. Thanks for sending me the pic of everyone wearing the ties I bought. They are some pretty nice looking ones. Thanks for the package you sent out for me. I will probably be moving next week because I am almost done training Elder Grisenti, so I hope they send it to the right place when I move. I have a track record for all of my stuff getting sent to the wrong place haha. 

   This past week was a little rough. It seems like as we have been working, we haven't seen a whole lot of success from our labors. We talked with W... again, and he told us that actually his parent's won't let him meet or talk with us as all anymore. He said that he was allowed to continue to read the scriptures and pray, but not to come to church again. That was the last time we have heard from him, about a week ago, so it's pretty sad. I hope that we can at least keep a little contact with him. We will definitely keep praying for him that things will work out in the end! I know they will as long as he continues to keep his faith in God and to continue to build his relationship with Him!

  We also met with K... this week, and he said that he didn't want to continue learning about the gospel. He decided that it didn't really matter to him what happened when he died or what God had to offer. He just wanted to live his life as he wanted. It was really sad seeing that, especially after he hadn't even really given it a shot. I guess everyone has their agency to choose what they want in this life. We were really sad on the long ride back home (it's about a 40-50 minute bike ride to his house) and not saying much. But as I stopped at a stoplight I said a prayer. Just to ask God to help us know if we were doing a good job or not. Things haven't been going the best, and I wanted to know what we could do better. And then I just kept riding, and when we stopped at the next light, I pulled up to talk with someone on the scooter next to me and he was super happy. When the light turned green he told me to pull over to the side of the road so we could talk about church. He's a really nice college student that believes in Christ, but hasn't really gone to any church in a while. He would've talked with us forever, but we had to get home quick, so we exchanged numbers and he agreed to meet in the future. I felt a lot better about that, knowing that God was watching us and is helping us along the way, regardless of whether there are setbacks or not. Even though we've seen some challenges these past few weeks, we have also seen lot's of His tender mercies. And Elder Grisenti and I have had a great time together!

I love you all lots! I hope you all have a great week and an upcoming Thanksgiving!

Elder Stevens

Our Good Friend Charles!

Elder Grisenti

Zone Conference Training

Wearing My Fancy Sandals  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Great Week!

Hi Everyone,

  Well this week was pretty fun! At the beginning it seemed like just a normal week with nothing out of the ordinary, but then we were told that on Friday we would be having a member of the Seventy, Elder Wang from Hong Kong, come to our mission and we would have a big training with him. I was super excited for that and the whole week seemed to go by really slow because of that excitement haha. The training was great though! Before the big training, the district and zone leaders for Gaoxiong area got to have a special meeting with him and it was really helpful. He's a really funny and blunt man. So he answered our questions pretty straight up without beating around the bush haha. I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot.

   One thing I really loved was the story of David and Goliath. We all know the story about how David knew that the Lord would be with him and that he would be able to defeat Goliath with his sling and a stone. But if he was that confident that the Lord would help him, why did he still bring 5 rocks with him. He only needed one. Why bring the extra 4 even though he knew that God could help him kill Goliath by using just one? The answer is that even though David knew that he only needed one stone and that God would help him win, he still needed to prepare himself for when the time came, depending on how far away Goliath was, how tall he was, how strong the wind was, and depending on many other variables, David would need to use a different size of stone. He needed to prepare himself so that the Lord could use him. Likewise, so do we. Even though we know that God can do anything, we still need to prepare and arm ourselves with our own skills and knowledge; with our own stones. This way the Lord can build off of what we have and we can be able to accomplish what we need to.

   Other than the training this week we have really been working with W.... He is ready to be baptized and he really wants to be, but his parents won't let him. He is only 19 years old, so until he is 20 he needs his parents’ permission to be baptized. He talked with then last week when he went to visit, but they said no. But on the bright side, they said that he could keep meeting with us and learning more. It is understandable that his parents might be a little apprehensive about their son joining a church that they know almost nothing about. So I believe that if W... can share his testimony with them and let him know about the great teachings and truths of the gospel they may realize that our church isn't scary after all. So please keep him and his family in your prayers.

  This week we also met a really cool guy named W... S... H.... He is almost finished with college and is really nice. He says that he wants to learn how he can change his life. He has always had a fairly nice life, but he has had some problems that pop up in his life from time to time, and he's realized that it is himself that needs to change. He's super cool and we are meeting again with him before he comes to our English class.

   Yeah we still teach English.  For the past few weeks, S... has been helping me teach the beginning class. It's super nice that S... is pretty willing to help out with that and it's fun to teach together with him.

   Well that's about it. We went to the hospital last pday so I don't have any cool pics...sorry. But I hope you all have a great week! Love you all lots!

Elder Stevens

Monday, November 2, 2015

Monkey Mountain!!

Hi Everyone, 

  We finally had the chance to go to Monkey Mountain!! It's a place that I've wanted to go to since I first came down to Gaoxiong. It's a mountain that you can go hiking on and it's really pretty. The main thing about it though is that there are tons of monkeys all over the place! They just roam all around and through the trees. A lot of them are super cute, but lots of them are really ferocious too! Elder Grisenti almost got bit a couple times and they would hiss at us if we scared them too bad. I was squatting down trying to take a picture of one and suddenly my friend Diego pulled me back just in time to avoid getting bit in the face by another monkey that was right next to my head on a branch! I tried super hard to get a picture of me sitting next to a monkey to send home, but they were just too fast, and too scary to get a good one haha. It was super fun though. I sent home a file with a bunch of pics of it so hopefully you can download them. I have some bad news to tell you...  Apparently I didn't inherit the good picture taking gene from you Dad. I took a lot of pictures for Elder Grisenti and after looking at them, from then on he just let someone else do it for the rest of the time. Sorry Dad.

  Other than that, on Saturday for Halloween we had a ward party! It was pretty crazy! We were meeting with our friend W… in one of the rooms, and after the lesson we came out and there were people everywhere! There was a ton of games and goodies; there was even a big maze in the cultural hall and a haunted house in the basement. There were lots of little kids and they all enjoyed it. I enjoyed it too, especially when my companion and I went into the maze.  It was pretty fun. We tried to have a little gospel sharing time at the end and watched a short video, but after all of the kids had eaten pounds of candy, there was no way for them to sit still with all that energy! We watched one of my favorite videos, “Because He Lives”, so I hope that maybe someone there was able to feel the power of that message! I love in the video where they emphasize that because Jesus Christ died for us, every single one of us has a second chance. We can conquer anything...even death. It's just such a happy message!

  Our friend W… is doing really well. He's really quiet and doesn't say much, but he just absorbs everything we say. Even little things that I didn't even remember telling him about. I get kind of worried since he never talks so I don't know if he understands or not, but if I ask him a question about something, he'll remember it all! He has a goal to be baptized two weeks on November 14. Please pray for him!

  Today the post office called me and said that the package I sent home for you all a month or so ago got sent back here to Taiwan for some reason. I told them to just try sending it back to the US again. So hopefully they will be able to get it home to you all this time! Sorry for the wait. Good thing I sent it early. Maybe it'll get home in time for Christmas!

   That's exciting that you got a new calling Mom! It seems like you just barely got called to be a teacher! Were you called right when I went out on my mission? I hope you can figure out how to be a camp director! It's be no problem for you though!

Well I love you all lots! Thanks so much for all the emails you send every week! i really appreciate it! My favorite part on the pday is opening the email and being able to read the letters from you all! I love you all lots! Have a safe week!

Elder Stevens

Eating one of my pot!  The best is when they have free ice cream and soda!  Elder Grisenti finally likes to eat hot pot!

Monkey Mountain

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

 Dear Everyone, 

  This week was nice and refreshing with the rains that we just had. Fortunately the typhoon that was supposed to hit hard here in GaoXiong ended up going north and hitting the mountains near the center of the island so we didn't get much of it. We did get a lot of rain though. When it rains here, everyday we get completely soaked, usually all the way through, but usually by the time we go home at the end of the day we are dried off. I don't really wear the rain pants and gear as much, because then I will just get soaked with sweat because it's so humid. So either way you get soaked, but I prefer the rain haha.

  This past week was pretty fun! We went to the tallest building in GaoXiong, called the Gaoxiong 85. I hope you all appreciate the pictures I sent home from there. Another member took some more, so hopefully I have those by next week. 

  We taught a wonderful but interesting lesson this week. We met with a really nice man named T.... He is Vietnamese. He has lived in Taiwan for about 10 years but his Chinese and English are just so, so. We communicated fine about the basic everyday stuff, but as soon as we started talking about gospel related things, he had no idea what we were saying.  It turns out that his vocabulary on religious things is basically zero and he didn't know what prayer or who even God was. He said he really wanted to learn about our church and how it could bless his family, but we just didn't know how to tell him! In the MTC and in all of our training, they taught us to teach very simply, and so we took that training to heart! Luckily we had a copy of the Vietnamese Book of Mormon so we used that to teach him very simply about who God was and what prayer was. We opened to Alma and shared the story of Ammon teaching of God to King Lamoni and used that to teach T.... We also opened to scriptures of prayer and taught him how we could communicate with God. It was very difficult to express what we wanted to say.  However, despite the simpleness of our words, the Spirit was really strong, and T... definitely felt it. He says that he wants to continue learning and to be baptized on the 21st of November. We will really need God's help to help us know how to help him!

  Oh, another funny and kind of scary story from the week, and also on the week of Halloween. We were eating food outside a 7/11 (in Taiwan they have a 7/11 basically on every single street corner) when we noticed an old guy on a bike just staring at us. I mean that happens a lot here in Taiwan since we are the only White people so it wasn't bugging us too bad, but then he just started smiling and whispering to himself. I don't know why but we both had the creeps so we decided to leave. Then the guy started following us! He followed us for like 10 minutes then we decided to use our superior athleticism and bike as fast as we could. Later that night when we were returning to our apartment we saw him again. We didn't think he saw us so we parked our bikes and started getting off when we heard the unmistakable creaking of his bike coming behind us. He got within 10 feet of us by the time we got back on our bikes and booked it out of there. He followed us for a good little bit but we were too fast. My adrenaline was pumping. We were nervous because he found out where we live but so far he hasn't attacked us in our sleep or anything so that's good. Several days later we saw him again while we were eating inside a restaurant. He just pressed his face against the window and stared at us for 10 minutes straight then left. We haven't seen him since then so it's all good.

  We also went to celebrate the birthday of one of our friends and investigators K... We ate lots of noodles and shrimp, and he even bought a really fancy cake that after blowing out the candles, he just gave to us to take home haha. 

  And awesome news...S..., our dear friend we baptized a few weeks ago received the Aaronic Preisthood yesterday at church, and is continuing to be super awesome! He is loving it so much. It's super cool to see. He always tries to put on the "tough guy" attitude because he's a weight trainer, but he is actually super excited! I love that guy! Also....I did my first one handed push up last week so my workouts with him are paying off haha.

  Well this week I wrote a lot. Hopefully I didn't bore you haha. I love you all I wish you all the best!! Have an awesome week!

Elder Stevens

Tallest Building In Gaoxiong

Goaxiong 85

Batman View Of The City