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!
Love

Elder Stevens




Tallest Building In Gaoxiong


Goaxiong 85


Batman View Of The City

Monday, October 19, 2015

Super Week...

Hello everyone! 

This is Elder Stevens from the nice tropics of GaoXiong, Taiwan. I'm sorry to hear that everyone is super cold back in the Eastern States, but if you are ever cold, just try to think of the nice beach temperatures that I'm enjoying basically every single day over here! :) I have noticed that it's starting to get a little colder in the day, but that's a relief because we don't sweat as much anymore haha.

This week has been pretty much the usual. We had fun with some tracting and lots of contacting haha. We also met with one of our English Class students. (English class is the best! Recently, all of our solid investigators are from English Class!!) and he's pretty cool. His name is K.... We called him up one night and tried to set up a time to meet, but he said he was too busy for the next few days, but that he could come to church. Then one night he just randomly showed up at the church while we were making some calls, and we just taught him a lesson. It was really hard to stay on topic of what we wanted to share because he has so many questions! He really likes coming to church and really wants to come closer to God because he's had many experiences that give him a feeling that there is something more out there than what science proves at the moment. Which is really cool because he's a chemical engineer and all about science. He also said we could come to his house the next day and teach him again. We biked about 40 minutes to his house and barely found it in the dark haha. In his house he said he had a "secret base" and at first I was a little nervous about what that meant, but we just follow him out back to a really nice little garden and pond that he had created in his backyard. He lives in a really sketchy area next to a factory so it's not really a pretty location. But the place he made had ferns growing up the sides of the walls next to him so you couldn't tell it was a building and he had fancy lights and stuff. It was as if we were out in the middle of the forest. It was super cool. We talked back there and shared more about the Book of Mormon. it was a super cool place to teach a lesson.

On sunday, both K... and another one of our friends from English class, A..., came to church. I think they both had a good time. They both have lots to learn and some changes to be made, but they are both awesome and I hope that they can continue to progress.

One of my good friends Elder Rock (from back in Tainan) is in the same zone as me now, so in a few minutes we are going to go visit some fun places in Gaoxiong. It's super cool to see him again. 
Well I love all of you!! I hope you have a great week!

Love
Elder Stevens

 p.s. I just got a virus on my sd card so all my pictures are gone....so I will not be sending any this week lol. Hopefully you have all the pics that I sent before saved Dad ;)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Conference Weekend...

Dear All,

  This week pretty much consisted of us traveling from one meeting to another. Literally I don't think that I've ever had this many meetings in one week before haha.

  We went down with a friend to a small island called Qi Jin that is next to Gaoxiong. We went down there and rode around looking at the sights. It looks like a really awesome place to go swimming...but we just watched other people swimming haha.

  Then we had our zone meeting down in Shi zhong. And to get there, we have to take a train/subway kind of thing. (Chinese is jieyun but I don't really know the English).  It's about an hour or so of travel each way down there!

  Next we went to Shi zhong again because we had a trainer follow up meeting. I'm already halfway through training Elder Grisenti!! It seems like I just barely started, and now we are halfway through the time that we are together.

  The following day, we didn't have any meetings, and all of our lessons cancelled so we spent the whole day either tracking or just talking with people on the street. We went out of the far reaches of our area, to places that we never really go to cuz we never have time. It was pretty fun exploring out there.

   Then we had a big Stake Activity! We went to a place called Cheng Ching Lake and had an athletic event there. I was super excited cuz I wanted to play some soccer or bball, like they had the years past for this activity... but...they changed it up for this year. This year it was a walking scavenger hunt... which was fun. My companion took some good pictures so I will be sending them soon. 

   The next day was pretty fun. One of the members wanted to record Elder Grisenti and I singing a hymn and wishing one of the other members a happy birthday. So we went to a park right next to our house and started singing "How Firm a Foundation." It sounded really good.  During this time a guy was driving through the park on his motor scooter and came up to talk to us. I thought he wanted to talk to us about our singing and church, but I was really wrong haha. He starts going off on how the government in Taiwan is against him and also all the people at his work too. Also that the church was stealing his money! He wanted us to call President Obama and ask for his personal assistance in helping him get his money back! After failing to convince him that what he wanted was impossible, we just kind of gave up and told him we'd try, and then he just drove off. Pretty fun stuff.

   Finally, the day I had been looking forward to forever, arrived!! We watched general conference. We watched all the general sessions and then for the Priesthood session we went down to Shi zhong again. There were so many awesome talks! I was also really happy that Elder Rasband was called. I had a feeling that he would be. And yes, I know Elder Stevenson's son in this mission. He's a really nice guy. Because my last name Stevens and Stevenson are so similar, literally everyone in my ward was coming up to me and congratulating me on my dad being the Apostle haha. I went on with it for a while, but then one of the members (he had good English) read my name tag and called me out on it hahaha.

  My favorite talks were as follows:
  Elder Uchtdorf on the blessings of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ.
  Elder Holland on the love of mothers. Mom I think what he said was completely true. I feel that your love is the closest thing that there is to the Savior's love for us! I grateful that I have such a wonderful mother like you!
   Elder James Martino  on learning of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Many of the people we teach only want to know out of pure curiosity, and they need more than just that to learn the truth.
   Elder Uchtdorf on Daniel's story. Really good about the importance of needing to stay ready and worthy.
   Elder Christofferson on the need for the church organization. Many people I meet here don't really understand why we need an organized religion. What he talked about was really meaningful. 
Sorry I wrote so much haha. I didn't think I would write this much when I started out haha. Well I love you lots!! Have a great week!
Love,
Elder Stevens

My Favorite Dessert



Qi Jin






Monday, October 5, 2015

Miracles!

Dear Everyone,

 Well all the miracles that we were waiting to happen... all happened this week!! This past week we met with S..., who was still having lots of concerns about being baptized. He knows that everything we've shared is true, and he really wants to be baptized, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't want to make a commitment with God that he might break in the future. He was especially worried that he might not always be able to come to church. He wanted to wait until he was sure he would never mess up and then he could be baptized. (Which we let him know was actually impossible.) He is a very....firm person when it comes to his opinions, and it seemed like there was no way we could help him out. We met with him again and had one of the most intense lessons I've ever had. We bore strong testimony, and the Spirit was really strong. We told him that we wanted him to write down a plan of how he was going to keep the Sabbath holy. And if an accident happened and he wasn't able to come to church, we asked him to write down how in that situation, he would still be able to keep it a special day. He wrote out all of his plan, and then right there we kneeled down and he prayed about the plan. As he was praying, I had a really good feeling that the plan he had written was good. After the prayer, the look of comfort and relief on S...'s face was immediately recognizable! He paused for a bit, and then said that he was ready and that he could be baptized in two days!! Huge miracle!!

  The baptism was in the afternoon so not many people were able to come, but it was still awesome. Elder Grisenti and I both gave talks at the service, and they went pretty well. Elder Grisenti was really nervous to have to give it in Chinese, but he did really well!

  We have been working really hard to build our relations with the ward members here. We want to be able to work really closely with them so that all of the friends that we bring to church will be able to have good friends and support from the ward so that when we leave they will still be comfortable coming. We've been working at this for a while, and also trying to be able to meet with the members' friends, but at first it wasn't really working. This last week however, we had two members in the ward come up to us and say that they had friends that wanted to learn about the gospel. One family had even set up a time to meet, and we are meeting with him!  More miracles!! I'm super excited!

  Our other investigators are still having some trouble coming to church. We really need to emphasize coming to church so they can have lots of support from the ward members and feel the atmosphere at the church. Unfortunately many of them just are not willing to make the sacrifice to get up early and come to church. Some of them are willing to come and so I'm happy for that!

  Last week we were able to go up to the zoo for a bit. It was super windy and raining a bit, but it was still a fun time. The zoos here are pretty cool. All the animals that we think are pretty normal, are super exciting here. For example...rabbits, raccoons, cows, bison, and horses were all big attractions. It was pretty funny to see how excited they were to see animals like that. 

  I'm glad that Dad and Eric had a fun time going to watch general conference and attending the Japan mission reunion! That's super fun...but you're right...too expensive to do every year haha. Well I love you all!! Have a fantastic week, and I will too!

Love Elder Stevens


Joyful Day!!