Monday, February 29, 2016

Zone Leader Training...

Hi Everyone,

  It's been another awesome week in Ping Dong! The temperature is still the warmest and nicest on the island so I'm ok with that! We had a pretty busy week with exchanges and going to visit other missionary's district meetings, so this week we traveled quite a bit. This week I went over to a place called Chao Zhou with and Elder Cook. We had a good time and went and visited a new member that was baptized a few months ago. As soon as we stepped in the door, the first thing he did was offer us tea and alcohol! I wonder how well he was taught.... haha. We worked with him to resolve those misunderstandings and it was a good lesson. 

  On last Monday night, we had a little activity at the church with some members and our friend H.... He's a really awesome guy in the Air Force! He's been investigating the church for a while now and hasn't really felt that this message is true. He says he hopes that what we are sharing with him is true, but he can't bring himself to believe. And he hasn't really been doing the necessary things (reading, praying, going to church, etc) to understand these things. But after the activity, before we all went home, he started asking us a bunch of super awesome questions about things that he read in the Book of Mormon, things like the resurrection and judgment. He is really sincere, and I really hope he can continue to grow!

   On Thursday we had a big training up in Taichung for the Zone Leaders and Sister Training leaders. It was a really good training and we learned a lot of good things. I went into the meeting praying really hard that Elder Lin and I would be able to know how we should help our zone and what direction to take it in. It's a brand new zone, and the needs of the different districts are very different. It's been kind of stressful to figure out what we need to do. During the meeting we learned a lot of good things that might be able to help. We are going to try to put a bigger focus on working with the wards, and alongside their ward mission plans. This week we are meeting with the Stake President here. He is also a brand new Stake President (because Ping Dong just barely became a stake a month or so ago) so we are going to try to work with him on how to do missionary work with the members. (Dad if you have any advice to give on this from the perspective of a Stake President, please let me know!) After the training, we took the long 3 hour train ride home and made it home at 9:45pm! We woke up at 4:45 am and made it home at 9:45! That's a long day! haha. 

  We also received training on the new way of doing exchanges. In the past, zone leaders would go on exchanges and one of us would get to go to the other missionary's area and travel around a lot. But now, they want us Zone Leaders to leave our area as little as possible and to just stay and work here. So now all of the people we do exchanges with will be coming to our area instead. Which is a little sad because we don't get to see other parts of Taiwan and see cool places. But it's also good, because it helps us to be able to take care of our area more instead of leaving it 2 or 3 days out of the week! 

  We also had stake conference this past weekend, which is Ping Dong's first ever stake conference. It was really great. Elder Lin and I got roped in to sing in the stake choir so that was actually pretty fun. Thanks for all the training that you gave me Grandma from singing in the church choir back home. A member of the Seventy, Elder Zhou, from Hong Kong, also came to speak along with President and Sister Blickenstaff. They all gave great talks. Elder Zhou's native language is Cantonese so his Chinese still is not perfect and he felt a lot like us missionaries do when we have to give speeches in church haha. It was a great time though. The Elders from Hengchun came up for the Saturday night session and then spent the night over at our house before we went to the Sunday morning session, so that was fun!

  Oh other good news, we discovered a really nice gym about 5 minutes from our house so today we woke up at 5:50am to go there and work out. It's only $50 Taiwanese (about $1.66 American) for every hour so that's super nice. I am hoping that I'll be able to get back in shape a little bit before I come home haha. Oh and yes mom, those granola bars are great. I'm not really a big fan of the plain peanut butter ones inside the tan wrapper. That brand of bars isn't my favorite. you can send me the new kinds that you found and I can try those!

  Well that's all I got! Have a great week! Love you!


Elder Stevens

Our Home Ward Building

Beautiful Mountains In Our Area

Paintings Of Native Mountain People

Home Sweet Home!

Training Meeting

First Stake Conference In Our New Stake

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My New Area, Lantern Festival And More...

Dear Everyone,

First I want to start off by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEXA!! I can't believe that it's been a whole year since you got your driving license and haven't even crashed the car yet! Congrats! :)

  Well my first week in Ping Dong has been pretty fun! It's a lot different moving from an area with almost no one on the streets, to the middle of a fairly large city. If I didn't have someone to lead me around all the time, I would get completely lost within 5 minutes! It's a fun place though!

  This past week was our Power Week which means we only have one hour of studies and then leave the house at 9am and then have 15 minutes for lunch and dinner. It was a pretty crazy and interesting week having to come into a new area on a week like that, and also trying to learn everything for what to do to help the new zone out. It's been pretty fun working with Elder Lin. He's from Taipei and has already finished college. He's a pretty funny guy and is really good with the members. It's really clear to see how Taiwanese missionaries can really work well with the members a lot better than us foreigners so I've been learning a lot about good missionary work and working with members from him!

   We actually don't have any real investigators here either haha but I'm used to that from my time in Xihu. The difference now is that we are in a city and there are people everywhere. I'm super excited to start picking this area up and working hard to find more people to teach! 

  This week I'm going to be going on exchanges to the furthest south area in Taiwan...Kending so I'm pretty excited for that. Hopefully I'll have some nice pictures to show. No promises though haha. 

  Today is actually the Lantern Festival so they have a bunch of lanterns everywhere to celebrate. Were going with some members today to visit a fun place. I'm not sure what it is, but hopefully it'll be cool. Well I don't have any time left so this is all I've got! Love you all!

Elder Stevens

Lantern Festival

A Public Park In Ping Dong We Like To Visit

Monday, February 15, 2016

A New Year's Transfer...

Hi Everyone,

   Well my time of serving in Xihu has come to a close and I was transferred today. I've been moved down to the farthest south of Taiwan to a place called Ping Dong. It seems really pretty down here and it's a lot more populated because we are in the middle of Ping Dong city. My new companion is an Elder Lin. He is Taiwanese and seems to be really cool. He was actually my old companion Elder Williams companion right before I went into Xihu, so he served in Xihu for about 6 months. We are the Zone Leaders down here so that should be pretty fun. I'm looking forward to doing what I can to help out down here.

   Last week's Chinese New Year was a lot of fun though. We were lucky and had meal appointments for lunch and dinner on every day for the entire week! So we ate pretty well last week. In Taiwan they don't really do anything in regards to traditional stuff for New Years, but they just eat a bunch. Everyone gets together and goes back to their old homes and relaxes with their family. So we didn't see any special fireworks or parades or anything like that, but we did get to eat a bunch and meet with most of the members of our ward. It was really fun meeting with them all. The members in Xihu really are super awesome. Everyone was really shocked and surprised that I was moved today. The ward was really nice and really good to us and it is a shame to leave. 

  I especially didn't want to leave because it felt that during the two movecalls I was there, I didn't get anything accomplished. We worked and worked, but didn't get anything done. I just hope that maybe something that we did there can help someone come to recognize the importance of this message that we share. 

  Elder Cole's new companion in Xihu is none other than my MTC companion Elder Osborne! I hope that they can have a good time there and find some new people to meet with.

  Ping Dong is a nice area and I'm excited to serve here. I'm sorry I don't really know what else to write so I'll just end here haha. I hope you all have a great week!! Love you all!

Elder Stevens

Ping Dong Is South Of The Island

Hard To Say Goodbye!

Sights To See In The County Of Ping Dong

Monday, February 8, 2016

Safe And Sound. Earthquake Not A Problem Here!

Dear Everyone,

  Well, everyone has been talking a lot about the earthquake that we just had in Taiwan, but Elder Cole and I actually had no idea that it was as bad as everyone said it was. We feel earthquakes all the time here in Taiwan so we had no clue that this was anything bigger than usual. We woke up in the night and turned to my companion and said " earthquake." and then just went back to bed. The rocking was actually pretty comfortable haha. We only live on the 4th floor so it wasn't too bad for us. The next day everyone was talking about how bad it was and I guess it was pretty severe. Several people died in the collapse buildings and there are around 100 or so people that they haven't found yet. I don't think that they will be calling us missionaries to do any help. At least up here in Xihu. While riding around, we didn't see any real damage, just a couple of big trees that had fallen over. No aftershocks either. So it's all good here!

  This past week has been pretty fun. On Monday we went to Lugang and looked around. That was really fun. Then on Tuesday we had our big Zone Meeting. Our zone has about 8 Taiwanese missionaries in it so during the meeting I had to sit in the middle of all of them and help translate. It was pretty fun.

  Wednesday was especially fun. Almost every single day of my time in Xihu here we've basically just tracted, but today we had something new. A member in our ward works with local government leaders here and she got some service opportunities prepared for us. Because the Chinese New Year is here, the tradition is that the people need to clean their houses. So we went and visited many elderly ladies in the country that lived by themselves and were not able to clean for themselves. It was a lot of fun and they really appreciated it. Afterwards, the local people in the village we went to prepared a big dinner for us. It was very...special. There was a lot of meat, but the main course was pig head. They sliced up the head of a pig and fed it to us. There was almost no meat on it. It's just basically all skin and fat, and it's still covered in the pig's hair! It was really not that good at all. Afterwards I was picking bristly hair out of my teeth! 

  For pretty much all of the rest of the time we were tracking. We're still working hard and looking for people to teach. We had a big miracle though. A lady named S... that we had called and tried to meet with a month or two ago finally called us back and wanted to meet. I had called her about a month ago and talked with her about God's and Christ's love for her and she started crying and said she always felt something special when she met with us. She said she wanted to meet with us, but then she heard some bad things about our church and didn't want to meet with us for the past month and a half. Then she randomly called us up and said that she always felt really good talking with us. (The morning before she ran into missionaries she had prayed that she would be able to find someone to help her in life!) She came  to the church and we talked and she is really excited to learn more. Unfortunately, she lives a little bit outside our area so we will have to introduce her to some other Elders to teach. I'm at least glad that I could play a small part in helping S... though.

  This week is the start of Chinese New Year so we've already started to eat with many of our friends here. On Saturday night we ate with the Shi and You families in our ward. They are really nice and the second eldest daughter in the Shi family is preparing to leave for a mission in a two months for London, England. Today we went over to the You Family's house for lunch and since they live right on the coast, they took us around to see some fun stuff nearby. They have an old famous lighthouse there and a couple other fun things to visit. The rest of the week we're also planning on eating lots of good meals with many of the members here. It's going to be a lot of fun...and we might also get very full haha. 

  I still haven't received Alexa's package so that's not good... if it's taken this long to get here, it's either in another missionary's apartment, or it just didn't make it. Maybe it'll get here though.

  We're still having a good time. We're exhausted, but still carrying on haha. It's all going well! I love you lots! Have a happy New Year!!


 Elder Stevens

Monkey King Made Of Shells

Dragon Made Of Shells

Chinese New Year Cleaning Day

Painting Hanging In The Mission President's Home
Representing Plan Of Salvation