Monday, April 27, 2015

Cinco De Mayo Fiesta, Transfers...

  Well, the week has past and here's another email. Whenever I sit down to write, I completely forget everything I had to say so I'm sorry if in every email it seems like I'm just saying the same things over and over. Luckily my English hasn't gotten too bad yet so it's less painful to read haha.

  Well fortunately we had a few activities last week that added some spice to the missionary life. Our English party went well and our pinata was a fan favorite! It was so hard to make and neither me nor my companion knew what we were doing. We just got a balloon and covered it in newspaper and glue and thankfully it was strong enough to work. Actually, we were really worried that the pinata wouldn't even be strong enough to hold the candy. So we put lots of paper on it, so much that they couldn't break it with the plastic bat that we had! So we had to get out a different bat for them to finally break it with. We also made some horchata, a Spanish rice milk drink. It was super easy to make and really good. Everyone liked it. I was really surprised because no one here likes sweet things. Actually we were kind of hoping that no one would like it so that we could drink a ton of leftovers, but they all loved it and wanted to get the recipe. And worst of all, they drank all of the horchata!
  The Dan Jones experience was really good too. It brought back all of those memories of feeling completely lost and confused. This time it was a lot more relaxed and fun. I got to help out an Elder Young who got to serve in Arizona for about a month and a half before finally making it over here. He was a really cool guy. It was really fun going around with him and talking with people. It let me realize how much my Chinese had improved. I could understand everything that people said to me. It's really a miracle to me each time I realize that I am able to communicate with people who, only 4 or 5 months ago I would have no way to connect with them. Unfortunately, a lot of the people we talked to were really rude and rejected us pretty badly, but luckily my companion didn't understand any of the bad stuff they were saying so it didn't hurt his missionary spirit haha.
  Well today was our movecall again, and I am staying in Donghai. Elder Aimes is moving down to Gaoxiong to be companions with my old MTC companion Elder Osborne! Super cool! And even cooler, my trainer Elder Smith just moved up to Taichung and is my zone leader so it was great to see him again! My new companion is named Elder Moore. I met him back in Tainan. He was serving in the same zone down there. And whenever we went to eat at chidaobaos he was usually there so we know each other a bit. He's really great, so we should have a good time together.
  Everything is going well in Donghai and I've definitely noticed that my legs are getting stronger. I'm enjoying that. We don't really have any good workout equipment where I live but at least we get an amazing lower body workout.
  I'm glad that things are going well for everyone back home. I still don't have my packages but hopefully I'll get them soon. It's the thought that counts, so if I end up never getting them, thank you anyway! I love you all lots!

PS: The Mission Office just share this information with us regarding the Asia Area:
"The Asia Area (10 missions: Taiwan Taichung, Taiwan Taipei, China Hong Kong, Thailand Bangkok, Cambodia Phnom Penh, Indonesia, Singapore, Mongolia Ulaanbaatar, India New Delhi, and India Bangalore) includes over half of the population of the world. There are currently 26 stakes, 13 of which are in Taiwan! Taiwan is truly a special place in the hollow of the Lord's hands, and we are so grateful to be serving here with our missionaries!"

Baptisms In Tainan


Monday, April 20, 2015

Lost Packages, Dan Jones, and Pinatas...

Hey what's up!

  I have good news for everyone. I ALMOST have my packages from home! They should be here in another week or so. The mission office has been sending all of my mail to the wrong address down in Gaoxiong. One of the Elders in Gaoxiong discovered the packages and he said he would send them up soon. So hopefully I'll get them quickly! And hopefully all the food is still good!

  Other good news...we've found some really nice people that are really interested in the gospel message. A guy named Steven (what a great name, we are going to get along really well) who is a student here at Donghai University. He is super cool and really outgoing so it was fun to talk with him. He has never really heard a lot about Christ before, but he has always wondered why He is so special and why people are so happy in sharing a message about Him. He's a really nice guy.
I love having a college in my area, because all the college students are a lot more open and accepting of new ideas so they are willing to talk with us and give the gospel a shot. We're also meeting with a student named Jordan who really loves basketball and Jesus! Super cool. He loves learning about Christ and is really interested that there is a whole other book about Him-The Book of Mormon.
  Things are all still going well for me. This week was full of finding and teaching. That's pretty much what we do. Good stuff! We've also been prepping for our English Class party next week. It's a Cinco de Mayo themed party and we've been trying to make a pinata. It's proving to be very difficult, but hopefully we can get it done. I'm pumped for this week though. Remember that Dan Jones experience that I had when I first came on the island? Where I stood on the box and preached the gospel in the night market. Well, a bunch of new missionaries are coming in and I get to go help them do it and then go around with one of them and just go talk with everybody in the night market. I remember how lost I felt when I first came on, so it'll be cool being on the other side of it and helping the other missionaries experience "real" missionary work.
  Ian, I'm sorry for what you had to deal with this week with all those girls coming over and pressing you into service. Xinku ni. (that means basically, wow that's really bad for you, your life is rough) At least your a good sport about it. At your age you'd better keep your eyes open for a wife, so that's good that you're being a gentleman. You had a great soccer game too! Nice job man! Alexa, you looked very beautiful! Probably the most beautiful girl at the whole dance and that's not just prejudiced comments! Your hair looked like it would've taken some time to do. What! You're already taking the ACT! I hope you did well. You'll probably do better than Eric and I did. No worries. 
  Good luck prepping for your bike ride. My recommendation is to find a big hill and just ride up that a bunch. It works pretty well haha. Wow Dad, I wouldn't put it past you to memorize the entire standard works! That's pretty impressive how fast you're memorizing all the scriptures. 
  Well that's pretty much all I've got. I'm really looking forward to getting the packages because I've been without snacks for a long time. All I have to eat in the morning for breakfast is a bowl of oatmeal. It doesn't really do it for me haha. I love you all, have a great week!
Donghai University, Taichung, Taiwan
Dan Jones Preaching in Wales 1846

Monday, April 13, 2015

General Conference, Grave Sweeping Day Of Service, Companion Splits...

Hey Everyone!

I just had an awesome week and an even better weekend! Listening to conference was, as Eric already said, the closest thing I've had to a weekend so far on my mission. It was nice to be able to relax and listen to some great inspired messages. I really liked them all, but I have a few favorites. I enjoyed the one about the doctor in Africa and trying to hear the music. Also Elder Renlund's talk about forgiveness. He said that the moment we decide to change, the Atonement will help us, no matter how many times we've failed before. There were tons of good talks in there. The story of Elder Holland was also really good. I was on the edge of my seat for that one!

Earlier in the week, we saw some awesome miracles. We are slowly finding more and more people to teach. Just like Eric though, we haven't had that many lessons these past few weeks here; just about 5 to 7 each week. So most of our time is spent trying to find people too. It's been a little discouraging, but Eric had some very wise words of advice for me. He said that I should be excited to contact all the time, because that is when you find the most miracles! I tried to go in with that attitude for the week and just be super pumped that we were going to see lots of miracles every time we went to talk with people. And it works! I went on companion exchanges last Tuesday and went down to an area next to ours with a really sweet Elder Kujanpaa. I love companion exchanges! You get to go to fun new areas and you can learn a lot from working with other missionaries. And you've got one day to do as much as you can to pump up their area. He had some lessons set up, but they all cancelled on us, so we had the whole time to contact. We made sure to get super excited because we were going to see tons of miracles and talked with everyone we passed. Basically anyone we talked to was willing to talk and said they would be cool to meet later. And we met a cool guy that just came from Hong Kong. He said he was confused about why there were so many different Christian churches. He was Christian but he had been searching for which one was right. We told him that we had a pretty good way to help him find out! He was super cool. We also talked to a girl who was in college nearby. She was in a similar situation and was super excited to have met us. 
  After a few days, Elder Kujanpaa called me and said that the girl is super excited and has a baptismal goal for May and they have tons of people to meet with now! Eric was right. If you go out with that attitude of expecting miracles, you will see them. None of them lived in our area, but it still feels good to do a small part in helping others come unto Christ.
  It sounds like everyone has been busy back home! You've got a lot going on! Good luck training for the biking trip! I remember biking to Xenia for ice cream and sometimes it felt like a long way. Now...probably not haha. We ride literally for hours and hours everyday haha. Ian that's cool that you're playing volleyball already! By the time you get to high school you'll be a pro! Sounds really fun. On the other hand, Alexa sorry you had to get your wisdom teeth out. I remember doing that, and I hated it! I felt really miserable for the next few days. Hopefully you're almost all the way better now. Wow dad, those rooms have really made you knowledgeable of the scriptures. Did any of the missionaries or kids ask for them? I hope that the package you sent will actually get to me. I haven't received any mail for the past 2 months just about. I don't know where it all is haha. They might have sent it down to my old area on accident. 
  Well I love you all lots! Have a great week!

Note from Dad:  (The General Conference Sermons that Andrew enjoyed listening to are found at:  The story by Elder Holland reminds me of the love Eric and Andrew have for each other.)

Day of Service, Grave Sweeping, Taichung, Taiwan


Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!! 
  It sounds like everyone had some good parties in the States and in Japan! I remember all those Easter parties at the house. Man they were hectic, but there was always a lot of candy. Even though I never ate a ton of the candy, I still appreciated eating some good chocolate! I've gotten pretty bad about eating lots of sweets over here haha. There are lots of cool sweets to try here, and since I won't be here long, I'm taking advantage of it. I love going to hot pots because they always have unlimited free ice cream. We go to hot pots at least once a week. Oh and an awesome surprise...I found some Tim Tams at the Costco recently so I've been enjoying those with my milk every evening. I'm really glad that you introduced those to us Eric. They don't really have them here in Taiwan much, and they're like 10 bucks for a box, but they're pretty good. 
  This week was pretty special because we got to help people with some service activities! Yes! Everyone here in Taiwan is super unwilling to let anyone help them with anything. They sometimes take it as an insult if people offer to help because they want to be capable of doing things themselves. I've learned that even if a really old person is struggling to pull a massive cart piled high with heavy stuff uphill...don't offer to help. They get upset at you. But luckily we had two chances for service this week! We had planned on Wednesday to go over to a member's house and we thought that we were going to be teaching one of their friends. But when we showed up at the house, everyone was busy cleaning, and they instantly just shoved mops and cleaning supplies at us and we just got to work. We literally had barely cleaned for an hour when they made us stop. They said we were working too hard. We hadn't really done much though haha. It's either we really work a lot harder than them, or they think that white Americans are soft and can't work for long. I'm pretty sure it's not the first one though....I guess they think we're soft.  
  Easter was Sunday but in Taiwan it was also Grave Sweeping Day! So last Saturday we got to go to a big cemetery and help them sweep, weed, and take care of some of the graves. It was a lot of fun, but it was really hot and I got pretty sunburned. It was especially fun though because a lot of the Taichung area missionaries were there and I got to work and talk with a bunch of my old buddies. 
  Also, X...X... and Ama had their baptismal service!! Yeah! Ama had to have 4 people help here be baptized in the font! Luckily everything went well. Apparently there were a ton of people who came to the service. That would have been a neat baptism to attend. I'm glad that they are doing well though! 
  Monday night we had a fun activity. We went with a bunch of people to go shrimp fishing! For those of you who don't know, shrimp fishing is just like normal fishing with a pole and hook and bait, but you get to fish for huge shrimp! Some were as big as my hand! They don't have any coastline places that are good for it so we went to a big warehouse and inside they had a giant pool where they would just toss the shrimp in and we would fish them out. It sounds like it would be really easy to just reel them in all day, but don't be deceived. It's really hard! I sat there for an hour and a half and didn't get a single bite. What's worse was that there was a ton of pro fishers next to me and they pulled up a shrimp like every 30 seconds! There wasn't any left for me! They must of had really good bait or something. Luckily right when I was about to give up (Literally, I just yanked out my pole in frustration for the last time) I pulled out a decent sized shrimp!! Afterwards some other people had caught a bunch of shrimp and we all cooked them up and ate them. They were pretty good and pretty big! Well, I don't have a ton of pictures to send this week, but there should be some on the mission blog soon of the grave sweeping and then hopefully I'll get some of the baptism and of more shrimp fishing! 
  I'm really looking forward to relaxing and watching so conference this weekend. Thanks for all the recommended talks. I will pay special attention to those. Well, I love you all very much! Have a great week!

ps btw if you have't checked out the church's new video for easter, I really recommend it. #becausehelives

Shrimp Fishing