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