Monday, January 25, 2016

Snow In The Tropics...

Thanks everyone for wishing me happy birthday, and for the packages and letters that you've sent! I'm no longer a teenager and, if you were wondering, I actually do feel a little older now. Maybe I'm just exhausted from the past few days here in Xihu haha.

  So these last few days have been the coldest they have been in Taiwan for many years, and we can definitely feel it! It's actually snowing in several places in Taiwan, including a place called Nantou which is right near to us. Fortunately, it hasn't snowed here in Xihu.  We are too close to the ocean for it to snow, but because we're next to the ocean, the wind is a lot stronger! You may be thinking, What? Taiwan can't be that cold, it's a tropical island! But let me tell you, it's very cold. And we have no jackets except for a very thin rain coat, no gloves, and not hats, which is not good enough when there is snow haha.

   I would say that Saturday was the coldest and most miserable day of my entire mission! We started out tracting in the morning until lunch and we got soaked completely through after 5 minutes of leaving the apartment. The rain and wind were super cold, and I almost got blown off my bike, or blown off the road many times haha. While we were eating lunch, our 1 pm appointment called and said that he wanted to cancel the meeting because he didn't want us to have to go outside in the terrible weather and bike to his house. That was really nice of him to think of us!

  Luckily for dinner, some of my friends from Tainan, Diego, Danny, and Felicia came up to eat with us and to celebrate my birthday! We ate at a hot pot, and then went to the church to eat a cake that they brought and to open presents. They got me a homemade scripture cover for my Chinese scriptures that I use, a sweet Chinese tie that says "Families are forever" in characters, and a leather coin pouch. (We pay for a lot of stuff in coins here. They're worth a lot more in comparison to American coins) I'm really glad that they came up to celebrate, because up to that point, the day was not fun at all haha. After they left, the rest of the night was cold, and so was Sunday and today, but at least it isn't raining! ....or snowing.

  This week we met a really cool guy named  W... Z... He is 18, and he's also Christian. He met a Preacher a year ago and really liked what was taught. We actually met him when we were away in a secondary area in Erlin which is about an hour away. We had just finished dinner and went to a 7-11 convenient store to study some Chinese. Right when we were finishing up to leave, we saw him walk in holding a Bible and he got excited when he saw that we were Christian too and we started talking. We started talking about Old Testament prophets and he loves all those stories. We shared about how God has once again called a Prophet to lead our church today and he was shocked and really excited to learn. We met with him again later that week and he says he wants to continue to learn more! That was definitely a big miracle!

   Last week for Pday, we and some of the Elders in Zhanghua, including Elder Moore (my old companion) and some members all went to eat at a huge burger place! The burger was bigger than my head!! Elder Moore goes home in 3 weeks so we were having a big last get together.

   Today is still really really cold so we aren't going to do a whole lot for my Bday, but we are going to go to Yuanlin to eat lunch with a friend, and then we will probably sleep for the rest of the day haha. It's going to be a blast! Thanks for all the emails! I hope you all have a great week!

Love,

Elder Stevens








Monday, January 18, 2016

Weekly News...

Hey Everyone!! 

   This email should be a little better because this time my keyboard is working alright! We've had another action packed week! And by that I mean that we went tracting for most of the time again haha. It's pretty fun though. We've been seeing a little more success now. We have a system where we go find a person's house that used to meet with the missionaries a long time ago, and we visit with them. If they aren't there, we just tract all around that place. And if they are there, after we visit, we still tract all over the place there. It's what we have seen is the most effective strategy here. We still talk to the elderly people on the streets when we pass by, but it's just really hard to communicate with them. 

   Last week we found a guy that met with missionaries about 5 years ago, but doesn't really remember anything they talked about. He makes peanuts and the reason he said he stopped meeting was because he was too busy making peanuts every single day. I'm not really sure how much commitment he is willing to put into learning, but at least he said we could come back and talk with him again. Hopefully we can help him to feel something special about this message. 

  Our investigator I... still is cool. He travels a lot on business so he's been gone for the last week and will get back in a week or two. Currently he is the only person we are regularly meeting with. The rest of the time we are just finding! I think that the efforts with finding through the members of the ward is improving though. We are still trying to visit lots of struggling members and helping to bring them back. Those members can definitely feel the love. Two different members, two days in a row, invited us to visit a member named Brother Y... who hasn't come to church in a long time. He was very visibly sad about something when we walked in, but by the time we left, he looked so happy!

   Elder Cole and I are still having lots of fun though! I've been super lucky to have such great companions! We get along, we have fun, and most importantly we work hard!! It's really great to work with a companion that, despite the lack of success, is still willing to go out with you and go work. I'm really thankful for that. We are really enjoying our time here and are learning and growing a lot. I'm thankful for this time in Xihu!

  Last week we also had interviews with President Blickenstaff, and also with his wife. It was a lot of fun. I always enjoy listening to the advice and counsel that they have to share with us.

   I don't really know what else to say haha. It's pretty much just the same every week haha. But everything is going well! I still haven't received Alexa's package yet, but I'm still looking forward to it and all the birthday packages! I love you all! Have a great week!

Love, 

Elder Stevens

Monday, January 11, 2016

Persistance Pays Off...

Hey Everyone。 

  First off, my keyboard is super dumb and I cant control what its typing。 I can either type like this or in chinese characters。 Ill just stick to this, but because its annoying to type and read, this email with probably be pretty short haha。 

  Things are going well here still。 Its been a little cooler and raining a lot more recently so thats been fun。 Most of the time this week was spent doing what?。。。。tracting。。。and riding all over the place looking for people to teach。 The whole week we got pretty much nothing done, and even our friend Ian couldnt meet, but then the last two days we had some break throughs。 We went tracting in the morning right after studies, but either no one wanted to talk or no one was awake so we found nobody。 But then after riding around to a place called Zhutang about an hour ride away, we came back and tried looking for a former investigator。 We wandered around trying to find his house, but we eventually just gave up cuz we couldnt find it。 Then we realized we were at the exact same street we tracted at in the morning。 So we decided to just tract the same houses again haha。 (Theres nothing else to do haha) and on the third house, a really cool guy named Johnny opened up and we talked for a while。 He just graduated college and is working nearby。 He said maybe we could come back next weekend and talk with him more。 I dont know if he will have interest or not, but it was the first time I have ever, in my whole entire misson, met a cool guy from tracting who gave us his number and said he might want to meet。 So I was really grateful for that。
 
  Last sunday night a member just called us randomly and wanted us to come visit some less active members with him。 That was super cool and we had some good lessons and met some new people。 For the whole time that Ive been here Ive constantly been telling the members that we want to go with them to visit less active members or other people they visit and now they are! The member said he wants to do that with us at least once a week now! And then tonight and tomorrow we are going with another member to visit two other families!! The ward is really getting a fire for helping the struggling members and its really cool。 They also seem to really like Elder Cole and I and are trying to get us more involved in their activities and stuff that theyre doing。 Its a relief to have good support like that! So Im hoping for some more success in the upcoming weeks。 If we dont find anyone to teach during the time Im here, at least we were able to help strengthen the relationship with the members and missionaries and help the ward feel more strongly about visiting other members!

  Things are going well!! I love you all lots!
Love,

Elder Stevens

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tracting And More Tracting...

Hello Everyone!!

 It's been another fun week in Xihu! This week was pretty fun and we did a lot of biking around! Our area has 8 different townships and we usually just spend time in the Xihu township because the others are pretty far away. But we've discovered that the people in the farther areas are more willing to talk with us so this whole week we went to several of them. We had to ride at least an hour or two through fields in order to get to them so that was fun! We got some good pictures. So pretty much the whole week was us just riding out to the other villages and just tracting over there and then coming back to tract in Xihu before making some calls and then coming home for the day. That's pretty much what we've done everyday haha. It's a little tiring, but we are hoping that eventually we'll be able to find somebody to teach. We actually found somebody through English Class named I... so we are meeting with him again.  Hopefully he will be pretty cool, he's been to church before so that's pretty nice.

  New Years was pretty fun over here. On the night of, lots of people got out in the streets with parades and fireworks and stuff. There were lots of people carrying alters and thrones with their deities sitting on them. And there were a lot of cars driving around with pole dancers on top of them...yeah it wasn't the best haha. So everyone was going nuts and it was hard to talk with anyone. We just with tracting and walking on the streets to talk with people, but everyone was too busy celebrating New Year so no one would talk with us. We just kept trying and then at 9 pm we went back home and just planned and then went to bed because we were so tired. Then at 12 am they shot off some more fireworks that woke us up for the next half hour and then we fell asleep again. So New Years wasn't a blast, but I'm glad it's over and done with so we can start more effectively finding people. In answer to your question, yes, they celebrate New Years on Jan 1st, and then they also celebrate Chinese New Years which is a week long and sometime in February.

  I still haven't gotten the package from Alexa, but hopefully it comes in the next few days! That's pretty much all I've got this week. Sorry it's so short haha. I love you all! Have a great week!

Love, 

Elder Stevens

About 90 Percent Of Our Area Is Sugar Cane And Rice Fields