Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Pictures

December 26, 2010

Christmas is over. It was one of the best Christmases ever! Here's what this last week was like. We put Santa hats on our helmets, and painted our bikes red and green, and gave out candy canes to little children on the street. It was great.
22nd, sad because we have nobody getting baptized on Christmas. The Shi brother's mom came home from china, but she told them that they had to wait until 20 years old to be baptized because she wanted them to go to a Buddhist college.
23rd, woke up at 4:00 in the morning, went over and met with all the missionaries from the south at the Gaoxiong train station, and went up to the mission Christmas activity. We first went to a big Buddha statue place called Bagua Shan. Then we went up to Taizhong and ate lunch at a really yummy buffet. It was real fun seeing all my friends from the MTC. Then, we had a mission Christmas fireside, where we sang some songs and talked about Christmas. My favorite part was that President Bishop asked me to bring my violin and play some prelude music. Apparently he forgot and then asked Elder Ammon Chung to bring his viola and play prelude music too. But before we got there on the bus, we impromptu got our violin and viola out and played through a whole bunch of Christmas carols together, while the missionaries on the bus sang. Elder Chung is so good at viola, and we had a lot of fun. So we just played together for the prelude and postlude music. I also had a really fun time talking to my trainer on the bus ride back. he's great.
24th, went caroling with my violin, and ate a really good dinner ate the Li family's house.
25th, opened all our presents, and ate some breakfast. Then we rode over to the sisters' baptismal service. They had three really prepared investigators get baptized. So I got to baptize one of 'em. The only problem was, I walked into the font, and the water somehow had not filled up enough. It didn't even reach up to my knees. There's that awkward moment when everybody's waiting there all reverently looking at us, and I have to look up and say, "the water's too low!" The members said, "just baptize her anyway." Haha, the poor investigator. The water was cold too. We tried four times, but there just wasn't enough water, so we stood there in the font for ten minutes while the water filled up more, and then baptized her again.
That night was the ward Christmas activity, and they had a big meal. We invited a ton of investigators, and they all came. In fact, it seemed that there were about the same amount of investigators there as there were members, so some of them got a little bit neglected. They asked me to play violin, and so I did, and that was fun. I think they all liked it.
Most importantly though, A Christmas miracle happened. The Shi brothers' mom came to the ward activity with them, and we sic'd the whole relief society on her. They fellow-shipped her real good, I was so proud of them. I have a new appreciation for the Relief Society now.
Anyways, then after the party, we were walking them out to their car, and Elder Chen just asked her about baptism before she left, and she said that she felt so good about the ward environment, that she wouldn't worry about her children as long as they were here and had friends, and she signed the baptismal records right there! Yay!
So, we have 2 "week A's." That means we have two kids getting baptized this Saturday. We'd fasted and prayed and stressed lots for them. I'm real glad they're getting baptized. They'll make a real good addition to the ward young mens program, and who knows? Maybe even go on missions!
Then I hurried home and called on the phone, and that was fun. I didn't really know what to say, but at least I bore my testimony to mommy in Chinese.
Well, so that was Christmas. It was good. I'm glad it's over now, so I can just get back in the normal routine of sleeping, planning, getting on my bike, talking to everybody on the street, calling dozens of busy Taiwanese people, teaching lessons, bearing testimony, going home, and then doing it all over again. That's just the little routine I do every day here. The best part is that I'm improving though. So, hopefully I just get better and better while I do these things.
I love you all, don't expect any more calls home till mother's day. Be nice to each other, and don't punch Scotty's elbow.
Elder Vernon

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 20, 2010

I am so happy that I'm able to spend Christmas in this area, with this ward, and with Elder Chen. I love this ward, they take real good care of me, and I have a lot of good good friends. I also love Elder Chen. We have become really really good friends, and although we are both imperfect, and don't get very many people baptized, we still try hard and we have a lot of fun together. We thought we were going to be able to baptize the Shi brothers again, because we kept strengthening their faith, and we set a goal again to be baptized on christmas. They passed their baptismal interview, and we had it all planned out how they would ask their dad for permission. Their Dad just denied them, and then they got sad and didn't come to church last week. So I would really appreciate it if you could pray for the Shi brothers' dad's heart to be softened, and allow them to be baptized.
Thanks. I love all of you so much. I'm not really homesick. Sorry. But I just know that being at home would be not anywhere near as much fun as being here in Taiwan at this time for Christmas. It's really good.
Oh, also pray for the Shao children's parents' hearts to be softened as well, so they can come to church. (One time we were waiting at the church for an investigator, and I noticed these two little kids playing around the church. I was in kind of a funny mood that day, so I didn't take my usual approach to contact these kids. I just went up and squatted next to them and started being real funny and making them laugh. Then I told them they needed to come to church. I challenged the kid to a footrace around the chapel, but I would run backwards. We raced and he was soooo surprised that I could backpedal that fast. Then their two sisters came and we all played soccer together with an old water bottle. Turns out the youngest kid (who I raced) was named Willi. He's way cute. Their family has four little kids, ages 8 9 10 and 11. and all four of them came to church the next day for all three hours and loved it. We really wanted to start teaching their family, but their parents were really unwilling. I think because their buddhist.
Merry Christmas.
Elder Vernon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec. 13 , 2010

Today I went to Ken3ding1, a beach and national park area at the very southern tip of Taiwan. It's about a two hour drive from where I am (a member took us) and we hiked around and played at the beautiful beach all day. Whooooo. It was real hot, and real fun. So, that's all we did today.
To tell the truth, I don't really have that much to e-mail about either, because things are just going a little bit hard. I was really really excited to have some baptisms on Christmas. We had people set up that it looked like we might be able to get four baptisms this Christmas. Then Jian dixiong stopped answering our calls and wouldn't set up a time to meet. We'd have to ride our bikes four hours each way to get to his house in a remote part of our area. So he just disappeared, and he was super super solid, and then I feel extremely guilty and it eats at me every day, because I feel like we just pushed him too much, and taught him too many commandments too fast, and if we would have just slowed down, and listened to the spirit, he could have been baptized.
Then Peter said he couldn't get baptized on Christmas because his mom didn't want him to go to church at all because he had to focus on his test next year. We tried everything, and I talked to his mom, and now he just says he can't meet or come to church anymore because he has a test next July that he has to study for.
And then the shi brothers, who are so solid, we met with them, and they just didn't have any faith, and said they didn't even want to get baptized even if we somehow got their dad's permission, because he was also interested in a bunch of other religions like Buddhism, and didn't believe Jesus was anything more than just a good teacher.
I don't mean to complain. But that's how the work is going now. A lot of disappointments. I'm totally fine though, and nothings wrong. We're still trying hard, and we'll keep having faith. Today was a really fun P-day, and we fasted and prayed for all of those investigators.
Goodbye, merry Christmas Uncle Scrooooge!

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6, 2010

First off, I would like to apologize if there are proofreading errors in my typing. It's not only because my English has gone bad, It's because the keyboard at the internet place here has probably had too much tea spilled on it at one time or another, and various buttons, including the shift and space, are real real sticky. urrrrrrrgh.
Well, things are doing good here. Today was an awesome day, because Elder Chen's family came and visited him. He got President Bishop's permission to have them come and visit, and teach them the gospel. It was his Dad's side of the family. They mostly live in Taipei. but he has one uncle that lives in Gaoxiong. His mom's side of the family all lives in America, but his dad's is all here in Taiwan. So today we had his Grandpa and Grandma, His Dad, Two aunts and two uncles all come over and we taught them the plan of salvation. It was a real good lesson, and I felt the spirit there real strong when we all read from the Book of Mormon together, and asked Elder Chen's dad to share parts of the lesson too. It was kind of fun, because Elder Chen was super nervous, but to me they were just like any other Taiwanese family, so I spoke a little tiny Taiwanese with them and would make them laugh and stuff. After the lesson his uncle took us all out to eat at a fancy restaurant. It was really good. they had... fish, pork, and eel, and sea cucumbers, and onion cake, and thin tofu, stinky tofu, soft tofu, meat wrapped in tofu, and watermelon. Yum.
Anyways, so that's why we're a little late in e-mailing. Last night I rode over a piece of glass, and it popped a hole in my tire. We were at least a mile away from our house, so I ran with my bike back home, and then we walked the rest of the night. Or so we thought. we went to eat dinner at the bishop's house, and he told us there was a member from ping dong, who was in our area's hospital who really needed a priesthood blessing, The hospital was a little to far to walk to, so.....I grabbed a bike from the row of ones next to our apartment complex that seem to never get used. The only one that wasn't locked and had at least a little air in the tires was about the right size for a ten year old. When I rode it my knees went higher than the handlebars. But it was still faster than walking. I was a little grumpy about it because it made my thighs burn like a tortilla in the oven, but we had to give this guy a blessing. Well, I was taught a lesson in gratitude that night. This poor member. We got to the hospital and found him in a room next to the ER, where there was just a bunch of sick people with problems laying on their beds. I loved just looking at them till I got there attention, (which isn't hard being American) and then give them a huge smile. They would get really happy and smile back. Who knows the last time they had a big smile? Anyways, we found the guy, and asked him what his problem was. He said, "oh, thank you for coming, I really need a blessing. He was blinking a lot, and then as I helped him to his bed, I realized he was blind. He wasn't an old guy, he seemed like a really cool guy, but that just his whole body started having problems. He said he had heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and then bad circulation so that his whole foot turned bluish purple. Then his skin developed a lot of rashes and sores, and then his head started having sharp pains right behind his ears, and then he couldn't see anymore. Only him and his mom lived at home, and he took care of his mom because she had had a stroke. When we gave a blessing the spirit was so strong. Even inside a loud hospital, inside a little curtain around his bed. I blessed him that all these things would be for his experience and good, and that he might take this as a turning point in his life. Afterward we went outside, and looked up into the sky, and was so glad that I could see the stars. Well, I couldn't see any stars, big city, lights and pollution. But I was so glad that I could see, and move, and have a big healthy family that doesn't hate me for not going with them and offering fruit and prayers to the ancestors. (that's called bai bai, pronounced like "bye bye" but with two 4th tones). anyways, Investigators are all doing okay. Well, actually, not totally, they all have problems, but hopefully we'll get them through it.
Elder Vernon

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nov. 28, 2010

This week has been full of real good stuff! How's yours been? I'm having more and more fun here in Taiwan.
Tuesday was great because...
we were having district training meeting in the church, and then heard and enormous CRASH BOOM BOOM!!!! from the upstairs chapel. Our district ran upstairs to see what was going on, and it turns out, there were two worker guys painting the chapel ceiling. One guy had been on top of his scaffolding to paint the ceiling when the scaffolding fell over (It was really old old rickety ghetto scaffolding with unstable wheels on the bottom)! So I ran over, and the guy was bleeding from his head, and looked kind of dazed. There was paint all over the floor and over a couple rows of pews. We cleaned up as much paint as we could, helped the guy, wash up his wound, which wasn't very big, and sent him to the hospital. ( I told him to just superglue it, but nobody listened to me.) He's fine, the chapel is fine now too. But I learned a real good lesson from this, about the gospel. So I'll share it with you.
Sitting next to the scene of the paint and blood, silent and untouched, was a shiny, nice, extremely safe electric scaffolding. (I don't know what to call it, but the thing that has a place for one guy to stand. and can lift you up as high as you need to go.) I thought, why in the world were they using their ghetto scaffolding? Later we were talking to the West Gaoxiong stake president about it, and he told us this: The church had provided the nice safe electric one for them to use, but they thought it was too slow. The church contract also said to remove all the pews , and cover all the floor, but they only removed the middle pews, and covered the middle of the floor. They had been cutting corners, and thought their way was better, but then they fell. I wonder how many of us are the same way in life. We think the way of safety that is provided by the church (Keeping the Commandments), is too slow, or is annoying, or we're not used to it, or it's not that important. We start cutting a corner here and there, or only covering the middle part. Not doing everything the prophets tell us to with exactness. What could happen? You get owned like the paint guy, and then your boss gets really mad at you. So keep all the commandments. COMPLETELY, and then you'll be safe.
p.s. I went in two days later to see if it was cleaned up. They were still painting, but I was glad to see all the benches removed, and the whole floor covered. They were still using the same ghetto scaffolding. Like the duck cartoon said "some people never learn."
After that experience we went and helped the West Gaoxiong (not our stake) Stake President move beds and fridges and stuff. We've done this before a couple times, but this time was really great. He's a really amazing man. President Yang. He used to be a professor at snow College, teaching art with a specialty in Watercolor. Really good English and a real good stake president. He was baptized as a teenager, (in 10 days, who says that quick baptisms don't stay active?). We talked to him for the whole afternoon about missionary work, about how we could work with wards better, and get members involved in missionary work. We learned a whole bunch! It was fun. As we were driving I realized we went out of our area! And then even out of our Zone! Uh oh, so we had to call President Bishop and tell him we went out of our zone. The best part was that Yang Huizhang in order to show his gratitude bought us Costco muffins!!!! whooooo! Those are so good. You have no idea how precious those are on a mission in Taiwan. And a whole box of honey bunches of oats! yay.
Wednesday was good. Taught English class. I resigned as English leader from last move call. But I think i kept the English program going pretty well here. We usually have about 30-50 students every Wednesday. Right now i am teaching the little children s class with Elder Brigham Blackham (from Mt. Pleasant) we have a lot of fun just singing songs the whole time. his mom actually writes some real good church music.
Thursday was Thanksgiving. It was probably the best thanksgiving I've ever had. Really it was so much fun. Everything we did was just blessed by the spirit. We went and visited old grandpa Yang, he's such a cute old man. He said he really enjoyed listening to me play violin in the stake talent night. He can't really read though, (old people just do that sometimes) and he doesn't get things real fast, so we were wondering how he was going to progress. Then his daughter came down and we met with both of them. his daughter would read out loud to him, and she was really really smart and interested in the gospel. So we committed her to read out loud to him. Yay.
Then, after lunch,
we had one of the best lessons I've ever had. It was with a 24 year old guy named Peter Cai4. We had the recently returned missionary from our ward (now our ward mission leader) accompany our lesson, and we taught the plan of salvation, and the word of wisdom. The spirit was really strong, and we committed him to be baptized on Christmas day, and he said he would, and set a really solid goal. We actually spent most of our last Preparation day with Peter, because he's the brother of two recent converts. Two recent converts who lived in Utah last year, named Mandy and Lisa. When they were in Utah, my companion Elder Chen was good friends with Mandy. Then she came back to Taiwan, and one day walked into English class, and Elder Chen was teaching. He quickly referred them to the sisters and they were baptized. Now hopefully their brother will be baptized as well this Christmas!
Then we splurged and ate at a real yummy buffet that night.
Lastly, I need your help! Christmas is coming soon, and me and Elder Chen are doing something really really cool! We're doing the twelve days of Christmas for about five families, 1 active, 3 part member and 1 investigator. Only we're doing 25 days. We're telling them to buy Christmas trees, and then we'll give them an ornament every day, with a thought about something to do with Christmas, and maybe a commitment to do, like read a scripture, or do something festive for Christmas. We hope that it will be good, and we'll be able to baptize some people because of it (that's the plan). But if you have any good ideas about Christmas traditions, or things we could give them, or things to do, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 22, 2010

I'm sad that the utley's house burned down. I've decided recently that faith is an acronym. For Anything I Thank Heaven. Because if we have lots of faith we'll really be able to trust that anything that happens to us can be for our good. It just takes a lot of faith in the lord sometimes to see how we would be thankful for our trials. During our trials we ask why. But if we have enough FAITH, then we'll just say thanks to heavenly father and go about trying to find what it is that we need to change or learn from the trial. It reminds me of Parley P. Pratt when he was about to settle down and build his own nice little house for his family again. But the Lord had other ideas for him, so his house burned down, so he decided to just go out and serve another mission. Maybe you could share that story with them.
Well, so last night was move call. I kind of wanted to have a change, because I half-expected Elder Chen to move. But he didn't. And so we're both still here. This area is really great though, and I think we'll enjoy the next move call quite a bit. We don't really have any investigators that have baptismal goals soon, but there are some that could be baptized anytime, just need parent permission...
I was worried yesterday that we wouldn't have anybody at church. So I prayed and asked the Lord to help us have at least one investigator come to church. I haven't blanked yet, and I don't plan to. Turns out we had three, none of which I was expecting to come, but it was really good. Two were from part-member families. The other was Lai4 wei3 zheng4. He's a really cool investigator.
He seems like a kind of scary guy at first sight. But he's actually one of the nicest humble and refined people I have ever met. He paints and does sculpting and molding, so his motorcycle, and helmet, pants, coat, and everything he has painted crazy flame and skull designs. He has problems with the word of wisdom. Tea, (obviously), Coffee, Beer, Smoking, and Betelnut. But he'll probably be able to overcome those. I hope so, because he's a really willing person, and ready to learn. He's a pretty hard core buddhist too, and always compares what we teach to his own ideas and buddhist background. He agrees with pretty much everything, and he loves to emphasize the similarites in our religions. We might have to go back and review about how the reincarnation is different than the resurrection though.
We're also still working with a 12 year old kid named Willi. I haggled with his dad (buddhist) for about half an hour to try and get baptismal permission. didn't. That probably wasn't the best way to go about it.
We're also working with the two Shi1 Brothers, Bo1 yu3, and Hao4 Quan3. They are 18 and 13. Super solid investigators. They both want to get baptized, but their dad thinks church is a waste of time. And opposes them coming to church.
We got a new ward mission leader! One of the ward's missionaries returned from California, and he was called to be the ward mission leader. That was exciting.
Other than that, I'll let you know if there is anyting else I need or cool I need to tell you. I think I'll just burn a CD and send home some pictures for Christmas.
Love, Elder Vernon.
p.s. On Saturday night, the stake had a talent night, and the bishop invited me to play violin in it. So, I played beautiful savior. I was the first to perform, and it went real well. There was a lot of people there too from the stake, the gym was pretty much full of people. Some of the others were good too, this lady played a chinese harp and it sounded really really cool. But then some other ward's talent was dancing, and they just danced for too long to not good music, and it was just really awkward. oh well.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Nov 15, 2010

just like the good feeling of catching a big fish (but way better because this is eternally significant) we got a baptism last night! Pan Zhao qi passed his second interview, and we set up his baptism for last night! It was such a good baptism. I felt the spirit very strongly. I don't know if I've ever seen a more prepared guy than Pan dixiong. The bishop and the ward were all so supportive, and came to the baptism and told him not to go inactive. (They all are real nervous about that, because there are very very few of the recent converts in this area that are still active. well, there's one. I'm working on that). And I think the ward will embrace Pan dixiong because he's so willing, and dresses up in a white shirt and tie. It's interesting to be here on the missionary side of the struggle to get active members of the church. Especially when i attend church, I see through the eyes of an investigator, because I'm trying to protect them, and help them understand stuff. When I get home, I kind of hope I live somewhere I could do a lot of missionary work, with investigators coming to church and stuff like that.
Anyways, life is good. I'm trying to be obedient. I'm also getting fat I think. That's no good. One day I was just real frustrated, because it seemed like that whole week or two my thoughts had just been real fuzzy, I couldn't think clearly, I couldn't feel the spirit real strongly, and I wasn't full of energy. So I said a quick prayer, and then the thought hit me like a scooter...remember Daniel. Immediately I thought of the word of wisdom. All those promised blessings were exactly what I was lacking. I was just like the normal young fatties that ate meats and wines when daniel was eating pulse. ew. I thought I could just sneak and eat whatever I wanted, and escape the consequences. oh well, I guess I'll try to eat better foods from now on.
There are so many good lessons learned on a mission. President Uchtdorf told us that a mission was just like a big treasure hunt, and we have a bunch of treasures to uncover. It might be lessons we learned, or people we meet, teach, ward leaders, or especially companions. Some of the treasures I've found on my mission are what I've learned from my companions. Elder Chen is so great, we've learned a whole bunch this move call. I've learned how important it is to keep recent converts active. Because he's really really sad about all his new members that aren't active anymore. Also from all my companions I've learned the importance of just doing things, instead of talking about them. If you talk alot about doing something, sometimes it just makes your companion feel like there's something wrong, and creates a problem. but if you just go do it yourself, they'll see you doing it and follow your example. For example. Our apartment was really dirty. I could have sat there and said, "why is our apartment so dirty? we really need to clean our apartment!" But that's not the best way to do things. instead, I just started cleaning the apartment myself. And then I realized that I really enjoyed cleaning. It was so much fun!
Anyways, i don't really know what else to say, because this move call has gone by so fast that I can't even remember anything that happened. Really, I've never seen time fly by so quick as this last move call with Elder Chen. We don't really have any golden investigators. We went through all the old records in our teaching books, and found a lot of people, visited them, and met with them. Turns out they all still have the same problems and reasons they stopped investigating as they did before, so they all dropped again. Lame. hopefully we'll be able to find some good new investigators. Or maybe I'll just focus a lot on teaching recent converts and less actives. My favorite is this recent convert named Du dixiong. He goes to the presbyterian church, smokes, and doesn't read book of mormon or pray. Whenever we met with him he just talked way too much and we couldn't get any points across. So we came up with actually a really good idea. Let's just read the book of Mormon. So we met with him again, and instead of teaching the 3rd lesson by us talking, we just read 2 nephi 31 together. I felt the spirit so strong. He understood a lot more than if we would have talked to him, and he came to church and brought his daughter who started meeting with the sister missionaries. I looked at Elder Chen after the lesson and said, wow, we need to start reading the Book of Mormon more with our investigators. I'm afraid I had it backwards this whole time. Before I used the Book of Mormon to support what I was saying. That's not right. The right way is to let the Spirit use us to confirm what the Book of Mormon is saying. The next time we met with Du dixiong we read 3 nephi 27. It's starting to get fun, I can almost read fluently in my mission language! Okay, not quite. There's usually 2 or 3 characters per verse that I don't know. But we read 3 Nephi 27, and i looked at him and said, Du dixiong, I love you, but what you're doing right now doesn't suan (count) as enduring to the end, Then we read verse 17? which said if you don't endure to the end, you get lopped off and thrown into a fire. he was kind of humbled, and said "I'm not really that zao gao already am I?" no, but you definitely need to jia you.
Well, that's all. I love you all, Happy Birthday to Daddy. hope asian buffet was yummy. Today I'm going to Japanese Sushi buffet I think. I don't really want to but my companion does, so I guess we'll go.
Elder Vernon

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nov 7, 2010

This morning we went on a walk around the lake. We had to wake up real early (get permission from district leader) and get there before six o clock, because then it still counts as exercise time at the lake, and you don't have to pay to get in and walk around. It was really really pretty, and I enjoyed it alot. We ran into an old man that could play songs blowing on a leaf, and also playing the saw. That was real real fun to be outside and see nature for a little bit. Along with a bunch of cool taiwanese bridges and pavilions and stuff. Last week me and Elder Chen were riding around on preparation day and he said, want to go bowling? And i said I was no good at bowling, but I'd go if he wanted to. So we went, and then we made a small wager, that the loser had to buy the other mcdonalds ice cream. It was close the whole time, but then i got a strike on the last turn and beat him, and he was a little bit mad. Hahaha it was so fun. the batting cage was lame, maybe i'm just not good at baseball, but I missed most of them, and then didn't want to pay a whole nother dollar to try again.
Anyways, my mission is really really fun. Since none of our progressing investigators are getting baptized yet, I'll just write stories about myself. No, actually, i have to tell you about pan dixiong first.
We have an investigator, Pan zhao qi. He sells houses, and he's great. He says real simple prayers, but he has soooo much faith. Every time he says a prayer, he gets an answer. when he first started investigating, he decided to try a prayer to see if the book of mormon was true. right after he finished, the phone rang and it was the missionaries to follow up about the book of mormon. If he has problems, he just opens up the book of mormon, and the verse he finds answers his problem. This week, we had a pivotal lesson with him, where we were going to tell him that he had to attend all three hours of church in order to get baptized (which is true, they do. which is annoying because the other two hours are real real boring). We knew it conflicted with his work real bad, but we were going to challenge him to somehow find a way to completely keep the sabbath. (sundays are his busiest day at work), He came, and before we started, he shared with us that he had randomly opened up to two scriptures in the Book of Mormon. one was about the sabbath day, and the other one was about baptism. and that he had been thinking and praying about it. And then he told us that the day after he had found those scriptures and prayed, he found out that he could switch from selling houses to selling factories, and that if he does that, he has saturdays and sundays off! So we just sat there and laughed and said, god really does answer prayers Pan dixiong! Lets set a baptismal date! So hopefully we'll baptize him soon.
Our other investigator didn't stop smoking, and now he switched to a work that he will always have to work on sundays. Noooooooo. and the old man that loved me so much because I could play violin said he couldn't investigate the church anymore, because his wife opposed it. so we went and talked to his wife, and she was mean.
But i'm still having such a good time on my mission. Me and Elder Chen have a really good companionship, I miss Elder Kossman too though, because he was just really nice and made a great companion. And I'm also super excited to see my trainer again the first time at zone conference this thursday. I realize now that I learned sooo much from my trainer Elder Adams. He's a really good missionary. He'll probably be the assistant someday.
Well, taiwanese word of the day is Hello. or Ni Hao. In taiwanese, Ni3 Hao3 is pronounced Li4 He4 (Lee Huuh!) or depending where you are it might be pronounced Lee Hoe.
The other day the bishop called us and said a member needed help finding his friend who ran away from the hospital. the member and his friend are both about 87 years old and from mainland china. The hospital was huge and we got lost, so by the time we found them, the police had found the old guy and brought him back. He was suuuuuper mad, and did Not want to be stuck in the hospital room any more. So he was sleeping, but every ten seconds or so he would wake up and look around and then get real mad and yell "Shenme DONGXI!!!????" and then fall back asleep. It was really really funny.
Oh! last night was such a good experience. Our bishop is absolutely wonderful. Liu zhujiao invited us and a couple new members over to his house for dinner. I had the thought to take my violin and play for them. So we ate a good dinner and then I played a couple hymns for the bishop and his family. He loved it. So then I asked them for referalls, and they realized that there was a kid that lived right above them that was always practicing the trumpet and the piano, and because i was a missionary and a musician, they thought it was a good opportunity to share the gospel with their neighbor family. So they called the family and we all went up and listened to their kid play trumpet and piano, and then I played a hymn, and invited them to church. It was a door that wouldn't have been open to us if I hadn't have taken my violin. It was really great. Especially to do missionary work together with the bishop.
Well, times up. I love all of you so much! Pray for you, and even fast sometimes too! Keep up the good work and the blessings of the Lord will come!
Elder Vernon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

october 31, 2010

Well, our investigators right now are...
Pan Zhao Qi - this guy has the most faith of anybody. He's so great. we taught him the word of wisdom and tithing, and he looks at us and says "Tea!!?? one tenth!!?? and then thinks for a little bit, and then says. "okay. I can do that." and then does it. The only reason he's not baptized yet is because he can't make it to all three hours of church, only sacrament meeting. I think he should be baptized. but the ward and my companion want to wait until he can come to all three hours.
cai yao hui. Real cool guy that just needs to quit smoking and then he'll get baptized
Willi, a little chubby 12 year old kid. he and his dad came to church yesterday.
The shi brothers, ages 17 and 13. They love church, have testimonies, really want to be baptized. Their dad would ma them out if he knew they were meeting with us. that's called family fandui.
and the old Lin guy named Colin. colin is a really cool old guy, with long hair. really refined and smart. Believes in god becuase of how exactly the planets are organized. came to church yesterday and loved it. His son is a musician that studied at maryland university on voice, and is now an assistant professor in gaoxiong city.
one last story.
We met with our recent convert Cheng Guang Yi, he's such a great guy. I noticed recently that his pants were falling down, he didn't have a belt. So I brought one of my belts to give to him at our next lesson. I made a big deal out if giving him the belt and said. "I give you this belt as a present. But on one condition! Every day that you wear this belt, you have to read the scriptures! I hope that you wear this belt every day and it reminds you to read your scriptures!" It was great, and then we gave him the belt, and he looked at it and said. Um, that's not long enough. (he's a chubby guy) I said, are you sure? he put it around his belly and it didn't fit at all. oops. Then my companion said. maybe if you put it under your belly. Still didn't fit. It was an epic failure. I thought it was really funny.Bubye

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 24, 2010

Ello everyone! I hope all things are going good for you, and all your little chiddlers too. things are startin' to pick up down here in the dirty south. Our investigators were all not progressing really. So we fasted. And then we gave two investigators week b goals. means they get baptized in two weeks. Hopefully they hit it! Then we started looking through all of our old records in our area book. There are some real funny stories on old records. you never know what you'll find. one record said the family was pretty bummed because their oldest son was conned on the internet and then kidnapped and sold on the blackmarket!!??? we have yet to visit them. We found this old record of an old man that was writing a book about all the religions on the world, so he would talk your ear off and meet anytime, but wouldn't progress or keep commitments. But we went to visit him. Turns out his 17 year old grandson answered the door. so we sat down with him instead. He was real golden! then his grandpa came down and started talking at us, and ruined the lesson. So we visited again, and I sent Elder Chen to sit and talk with the grandpa on one side of the room, and I taught the kid a first on the other side.
Then we saw a teaching record that said he was a ninety year old man that played violin. He'd been called a month ago and didn't have interest, but that's okay, we called him and said we wanted to come play violin with him. old mr. Yang said okay. We got there and he was so excited, he pulled out his little old violin and played happy birthday (that's about all he could still play). So I played a couple hymns for him, and then he said "ohhhhh, your vibrato is so good! Teach me vibrato!" He used to teach violin back in the day, but he retired about 30 years ago. He really liked hearing me play. So then I told him about Jesus. He said, "ohhhh, Jesus probably doesn't exist does he?" I said, "Yup, he's real." and he said, "oh, okay." So, hopefully we can teach him and get him baptized. That would be really fun.
After we visited him, we went to a ward activity, where everybody ate together. I mentioned to the bishop that I had my violin and if they wanted I could play a hymn. I usually wouldn't have done that, but I felt like I should. It was just an idea that came to me. The bishop got up and announced to the ward that I would play a hymn for everybody. hahahaha. this is the best part. I opened up my case, and there was no BOW!!!!! Yikes, that really gets my heart rate up. so the bishop got back up and announced to the ward. "Elder Vernon was going to do a musical number, but it seems he has forgotten his bow!" Everybody laughed. I remembered then that I had left it at the old man's house. So we rode really fast and he was still there awake, and we found my bow and it was all safe and sound.
This made me feel good to know the spirit was looking out for me. Because if I hadn't had the thought to play for the ward, I might not have opened my violin case for a week or so, and noticed that I was missing my bow! and now the whole ward knows that I play violin.
Well, today for preparation day, I think I'm going to go to a batting cage and hit baseballs! maybe that'll be fun! See you all. Be really good church members, and help out the missionaries. Give' em referrals and stuff. And also do missionary work everywhere you go, build up the kingdom! Jia you. Add oil!
Bubye, Elder Vernon
p.s. just so you know, everyone in Taiwan just says Bubye. it made me laugh when I first came. I thought they would say zai jian, but everybody just says "babye!" there are also a couple other english words that have made it into their language. If you say "schedule" or "morning call" anybody will understand. It's funny. Elder Vernon

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 17, 2010

So, my new area is Yuanshan! That's not actually an area, that's the name of the ward. We spend our time in the towns of feng4shan1 and niao3song1.
Life is good down here in Gaoxiong. I've found that overall the area is richer than my last one. One of the families we visited had a porsche! And my apartment is really nice too. After I've cleaned it up it will be really fun to live there. It is spacious and has 2 floors. Tha's one hittle treasure I've gained from my mission is a love of cleaning.
I'll send some pictures, and hope you have everything go well and good over there.
Elder Vernon

Monday, October 11, 2010

october 11 2010

So on wednesday, we were in a lesson, and President bishop called and told my companion Elder Kossman he was going to be training! So I got booted out of Fengyuan and hung out it Tanzi for a few days. But fortunately that week was general conference, so instead of going to the Tanzi ward, we all went to general conference at the stake center in Fengyuan. So I got to see all my new members and investigators one last time. That was fun. Then this morning I woke up, and packed up and took a train (riding trains actually is real fun. I don't konw why, maybe I'm just like daddy) all the way down to Gaoxiong!!!! Gao1 xiong2 is the second biggest city in Taiwan next to taibei, and it's way in the south part of the island. I'm not actually in the city, but I'm in the county there in an area called yuan2shan1. It includes a couple cities called niao3song1, feng1shan1 and ren2wu3. It seems like a great area and I'm really excited. My new companion is Elder Dillon Chen from bountiful utah, and he's Awesome. really nice fun guy. both his parents are taiwanese, so hopefully my chinese will improve this move call.
Well, I'll miss fengyuan. That place was absolutely wonderful. But I was actually really excited to move to. My first move. It's made me realize how much I've grown since I first came. Because last time I moved, it was into taiwan. and everything was strange.
The last night I was in fengyuan, we went to visit one of my favorite investigators, you2 shi4 feng1, and on the way I had just a little teeny tiny thought that I could go drop by Song4 zhao4 yi3 's house. He's my new member from the first move call, and he's gone inactive, and hasn't been to church because his girlfriend threatens to break up with him if he's not buddhist. Stupid huh. but I hadn't seen him for two months, because he is never at home. But on the last night, I visited. And then he wasn't there. And I was saddened. but then right as we were leaving, he pulled up on his scooter, and I was able to talk to him, encourage him to come back to church, and say a prayer with him. It was a tender mercy of the Lord. It's only possible through the spirit. There is no way to fight this battle without the spirit. Without the spirit we shall not teach. We might not realize it, but teaching includes almost every moment on a mission. on the street contacting, with companion, investigators, members. Might as well say, without the spirit we shall not mission. just like D and C 50. And also I like the fact that in Ephesians 6 the only offensive piece, the sword, is symbolizing the spirit. Sometimes I wish the spirit were a little more clear, it's not always easy to understand what I'm feeling. In fact it's actually pretty rare that I recognize something as a distinct impression of the spirit. But I just go around and do things, and then sometimes I realize that afterwards, that really was the spirit guiding my steps.
Missions are so much fun! Really! I love it so so so much here! I hope like president monson instructed us, that every single young man prepares to serve a full time mission!
Well, Bubye. more next week. I'll let you know what gaoxiong is like. because I actually am not familiar with it myself yet!
-Elder Vernon/ Wen Zhanglao

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 4, 2010 pictures

October 4, 2010

I'm jealous that you already got to see conference! I am really super excited to watch it. It will probably not be the same, with trying to make sure investigators and new members come watch it, but I think at least I'll be able to watch it in English. I've been listening to the CD of the old conference, and read through it in preparation for this one.

Last preparation day I went to an amusement park! we left early, went with another companionship from Taichung, and we took a taxi up to a little amusement park. It was about like lagoon, except for about half the size. It had only one roller coaster, and some other little rides. But turns out there were probably a total of 15 guests at the entire place, so we could just sit on the rides and say, "one more time" over and over again, because there was nobody there. It was extremely fun. I got real silly and screamed real loud and also got all wet, (I can just see daddy grimace). It was fun. Except for that night we found a real golden kid and took him in to the church and taught him, and we started singing a hymn, but my voice was gone, and it sounded real bad! haha.
Well, we baptized and confirmed Tu Ren Xiang, and he seems really solid. But, we'll be careful to call him every day and see if he reads book of mormon and prays, because Satan likes to grab new members and shake them around a bit. He is 18, and actually goes to college about a half hour train ride away, but is willing to come to church when he can in fengyuan, so we baptized him, and he'll make a great addition to the church! He likes having long hair, he said he used to have even longer hair, in pony tail.
I'm getting nervous for next week, when it's very possible that I'll be moving. I've already been in fengyuan for 4 months now, I am ready for a change. I really like fengyuan though. Some of my best friends are here. Like new member yu li, and also the young men here. I've seen them change a lot and get more excited about doing missionary work. Being at our lessons and fellowshipping investigators.
One last thing that might make you happy. Our ward mission leader's son still isn't baptized because he is scared of his grandfather's opposition. so we'll go and visit with him and try to get him baptized. Last time I visited him, he said he was starting to learn violin, and wanted me to help him. He brought out his violin, and I taught him a violin lesson real quick as part of our lesson. I e-mailed the mission president and asked if that was against the rules or not. He said "I think we need to figure out a way to use your skills to build the kingdom. Visit the boy and show him some basics. Then play a hymn to invite the spirit. Teach that the Spirit will help him and teach him everything he needs to know. Teach him that the Spirit comes little by little, just as skill to play an instrument. Use this skill to build the kingdom. Start now."
However, I still haven't played. every time I think about playing, the idea just doesn't feel quite right. So I don't worry about it, and just go mission until I feel like it's right to play violin.
Well, bubye! I love you all! I'm doing absolutely wonderful. Taiwanese people are just taking good care of me. It's real weird that already a fourth of the way done with my mission. I'm gonna have to start baptizing lots more if I'm going to hit my goals of over a hundred people. oh well.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010

So, as far as missionary work goes, I'm doing okay. We have one really solid 18 year old kid named Tu2 Ren2 Xiang2. His baptism is scheduled for Saturday. I'm excited for that. We also have a 14 year old kid that might get baptized next week. That would be good too. I ended up giving the grandpa and grandma investigators to the sister missionaries and they are doing great things with them, and the 90 year old grandma is scheduled for baptism the next week. My little chubby kid would have been able to get baptized next week, but he didn't come to church yesterday. So I probably will have moved by the time he gets baptized. That made me sad.
Sometimes things just make me really sad. I kept thinking of our newest convert Chen Zhi Tai this week, but he was really busy with work. We finally met with him, and he had smoked some cigarettes again. Cigarettes are so so gross. I hate smoking. I pulled this bum guy off the street into church yesterday and he was really funny. He smoked an entire cigarette in like two puffs before he came into church, and then coughed all through sacrament meeting. oh well. he can change. So I confiscated his cigarettes, and had them in my box on the back of my bike, but it just brought a real bad feeling to even have the cigarettes. It was like Satan had more leverage to get to me just because I had some of his stuff near me. Even though smoking isn't a temptation for me, having stuff that satan has control of just brought a bad feeling, so I threw them away. Anyways, because chen zhi tai is such an amazing amazing new member, Satan pounded him real hard last week. We met with him and set goals with him to work towards being worthy to get the priesthood and go to the temple, and committed him to meet with the bishop. But he didn't come to church the next day. Maybe I was too hard on him, and just made him feel guilty that he had smoked or something, and felt awkward. So If you could say prayers for Chen2 Zhi4 Tai4 then that would be good. It was this that made me first realize how missionary work really is like a war. A war with satan. Because after everything we do to get this person to the baptismal font, Satan's very favorite tactic is to swoop in on the very newest members, and just get them while they are still weak and haven't developed a real strong testimony. And when I saw satan doing this, I just got real real mad, madder than I've ever been, because I'm not going to let him just take this person who found such joy from the gospel, and make him miserable. I don't know what our missionaries and our members are doing wrong, but unfortunately this is a war that it seems satan is winning right now. We have a Recent Convert list of people baptized in the last year, and there are 36 or so people on it, and of those only about 13 or 14 are active in the church. It's so sad. And our ward list has probably about 500 people on it, and of those only about 120 come to chuch each week. And this isn't just my area, this area is one of the oldest strongest wards in the mission. And this mission is the jewel of the Asia area. We actually truly need every single member to wake up, break out of their little shell where they feel comfortable, and go out and be saviors. go out and be the savior's hands, do his work. I don't know why I didn't realize this before my mission. I just came to church, and focused on myself. And if a friend or investigator or less active came to church I'd just think they were some weird new kid and not really talk to them. Well, I just hope that in General Conference someone will address this, and help our members realize that they actually do need to start doing missionary work. That like Elder Bednar says, they should not be praying for the missionaries to do their responsibity of finding people to teach. Oh well. Mom I'm only sending this to you because you are a such a good example of not fearing man more than god. It doesn't matter what other people think of you. If you bring somebody to the celestial kingdom is it worth an awkward moment? So keep being awesome and encourage as many other members as you can to do missionary work, give referrals, find less actives and strengthen them. alright, bubye!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


already forgot which pictures I put up there, i'll try and explain some of them.
one's probably a big red statue. That's a statue of the first man baptized in taiwan. Just kidding, I have no idea who it is. just some government guy.
One is our guanliyuan. He's just a guy that sits there all day every day at our apartment complex and takes care of the mail, and garbage and phone calls and stuff. He's super funny and I just love him so today I took a picture of him.
The black shirt I'm wearing in one of these says "you ban fa" on the front. That means, "there is a way" It's a saying that President Hoer is now famous for. It's just the idea that if you have faith, and work hard, nothing is impossible. On the back it says, WOD stands for Worthy Obedient Diligent. those are good things to be.

September 20, 2010

Yesterday was a TYPHOON!!!!!!!! be a man, with all the strength of a great typhoon. I was so excited to go mission in a typhoon, but it turned out to just be extremely lame. People in Taiwan are super exaggerated about weather. The word is kuazhang. They all built up this typhoon for a week by talking about it coming, and it was this big deal. And they tell us that during a typhoon, you just can't go outside at all. The winds were pretty strong there for a little bit, but overall I was really disappointed. The worst part is they canceled church, and all of our investigators now can't hit their baptismal goals, because they have to go to church at least three times before they can get baptized. Bah. and so yesterday we proselyted, instead of going to church, and it wasn't even raining. Oh well. The people we are looking to baptize now are an 18 year old kid named Tu Ren Xiang, he's solid, and probably will be baptized saturday or sunday. Also the little chubster Liu zhi cheng, he's progressing pretty well. We've been focusing on recent converts quite a bit too though. It's been fun.
A couple days ago I went on companionship exchanges and rode my bike real real far. it was soooo much fun. I felt like I rode my bike halfway across Taiwan, because I probably did. Me and Elder Burk rode from Fengyuan to Da ya, and from Daya to Qing shui sha lu, and then back to fengyuan. There was a big honk hill that we had to ride up. And it was raining and it was a pretty view and I realized being on a mission is just so much fun! Then I got back to the fengyuan stake center and a bunch of members from the stake were there eating lots of yummy food and we ate with them.
Well, add some oil everyone! Jiayou!!! I think I'm going to have to paint my bike all uglify because recently a bunch of bikes exactly like mine have been getting stolen. zao gao! (messy cake!). Oh well, it was fun to have a shuai (handsome) bike for a little bit.
p.s. general conference is coming up!

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010

Well, I am kind of tired today. So maybe don't expect a super good e-mail. Today we rode our bikes really far to the top of a mountain, and took some pictures at the top, there was a buddhist temple there. Buddhist temples are really pretty, with lots of ornate carvings and stuff. But I do just get a little squirmy uneasy feeling everytime I look at the big grotesque statues of their gods. It just always makes me happy that I can be here spreading the true gospel, teaching people that Heavenly father loves them, and that Jesus Christ is a resurrected being, that overcame sin and death. Well, I have a lot of fun doing missionary work. Last week President Bishop suddenly came to our ward in fengyuan. That was a surprise. Chen Zhi Tai was confirmed that day. He is our most recent new member that had to give up a 15 year smoking habit to get baptized. He is such a solid new member, it just makes me so so happy every time I talk to him, because he just understands things, and gets what is going on. I'm excited that I'll still be here when he goes through the temple in a year to get his endowment, and gets the melchizedek priesthood. I started watching the movie "how rare a possession" with him, and it was a really special moment because it shows the story of how Parley P. Pratt found the Book of Mormon and read it. And I was able to say, "Look. The fact that I'm here today is a direct result of him finding that book. Because that is my great great great grandfather. That's the power of the Book of Mormon. It changes generations of people and can bring them to christ." And I shared with him that he has no idea how many people his choice to join the church will affect, that he was just like Parley P. Pratt. He told me something I didn't know then, said that he really related to that story because the night I gave him a book of mormon, he went home and read for four hours straight, way early into the morning. And the feeling he said he had when he read was that it "resonated" with him. Soooooooo gooood!!!!
It is just the thing that makes me the very most happy of any happy I've ever happied, is seeing recent converts come to church, and stay solid in the church. Chen zhi tai is way good, Chen Hao Feng is amazing as well. He wants so bad to share the gospel with his friends, And he brought one of his friends to church this week, and we've also sat down with his friend a couple times, and if his friend can get parent permission, he'll get baptized no problem. Wang Yu Li is the most solid any new member could be. He's already been to the temple to do baptisms, has a girlfriend in the ward, and preparing to go on a duanchuan, or a mini mission in preparation for going on a mission in about a year. Lin Chen Hui is still super shy, but he comes to church every week, and he's improving a lot. I can't wait to see him go on a mission and serve the Lord. chen hui's sister is getting baptized this saturday too. Yay. The sister missionaries in our district are super awesome. Sister Missionaries are just so much better than us dumb elders. They are more organized, nicer, smarter, mature. So girls should all go on missions. Zhan yi rong went off to college, but he's still solid and will go to church up where he is now.
Anyways, besides working with new members, there is still a lot to do with finding people to get baptized. I set a mission goal one time that before I go home I want to baptize a really old man and also a little chubby kid. The old man was more of just a challenge, because that's real hard to do. Old to me means probably over 70. As long as they are older than mom and dad. Last week a couple came by themselves to church, an old grandma and grandpa (a-gong and a-ma). They are both 90 years old! The tough thing about old people is that they are either really devout buddhists, and only speak taiwanese, or sometimes they are from mainland china and think religion is all useless trash because it can't help you put bread on the table or food on your back. These old people only speak taiwanese. darn, I might have to refer them to the sisters because Sister Li is from taiwan and can speak taiwanese.
I can speak only a little tiny bit of taiwanese. It's really kind of fun to speak though. It sounds way cool and way funny at the same time. taiwanese sounds different than chinese. Can't really describe it. But it's a fun thing to learn little phrases and talk to the old people that just sit there on the side of the road selling papaya and pillows and power tools.
So, the old man goal might take some time, but the chubby kid goal is looking pretty hopeful! I just really want to baptize someone that looks like a little chancho from Nacho Libre, that would be so fun!
About a couple weeks ago I ran into Liu Zhi Cheng. He's thirteen and extremely happy and giggly and hilarious and naughty and frustrating and golden and he's got chancho way outdone. I'm pretty confident this thirteen year old weighs as much as me. He came to church. It was a headache, but this kid is progressing towards baptism quickly. the first time I met him he set up his own time to come to the church. when he came, the young men and women were having a water balloon activity, and zhi cheng stayed and played with them the whole day. He also ate the entire table of desserts and put the rest in his pockets. :) oh well. More next week.
And God bless us, every one!
Elder Willi Vernon

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 19, 2010

Well, here we go! The work is going well! today is move call, but it doesn't really affect me, because my companions already switched. I'm getting used to a new companion, and the last couple of days, we've had a third companion for the last couple days, a local missionary from Taibei, named Elder Xiao. It's been really fun speaking Chinese with him, and I can't wait until I'm actually with a local missionary. I'll for sure have that opportunity on my mission. The missionaries from taiwan are so much better than us foreigners. They are just amazing! Elder Xiao told me that one of the apostles had prophesied when the day came that there were more native missionaries than foreign in taiwan then mainland China would open. That's so exciting. I look for families, and for older people to teach, but I also really love teaching young men, because they are ready to hear it, and they can prepare to go and serve missions! My newest member Chen Hao Feng is so great. He doesn't ever talk that much, but last time I met with him, i asked if there was anything I could do for him, and he quietly asked if he could have some more of the pamphlets we give out on the street, because he wanted to give them to all his friends and have them come get baptized. So exciting!
Well, I have to tell you about Chen2 Zhi4 Tai4. I was riding my bike contacting people at my favorite intersection, probably 4 or 5 weeks ago, and I got him to pull over to the side of the road to talk with me. (The way we do that is while they are waiting at a red light, we put our contact cards in their hands before they can say no, and say "write your name!" and then the light changes and we go to the side of the road and say, "Oh, no! you're in the middle of the road! That's sooo dangerous! Come over here!" And because they have our pen and cards, they come over to the side of the road, and then we get 'em!) Anyways, this guy pulled over, and I invited him to come to church, and asked a little bit about his background. he said he had recently been looking for spiritual strength, and didn't know where to find it. I said, "congrats, you found it!" And then I bore my testimony to him, set up a time and a baptismal date with him. He met with us, we had some members come too, some of them were helpful, others weren't, oh well. We gave him the book of Mormon, and he read through first nephi before the next time we met with him. I asked him how he felt when he read, and he said he had felt a "gong4 ming2" de feeling. I had no idea what that meant, but I said, oh that's great! and then that night looked it up in the dictionary, and gong ming meant that it resonated. He had a feeling of something about the Book of mormon resonated with him. But.... he smoked. And it was really really hard for him to quit. he'd been smoking for 15 years since he was 14. But the gospel meant a lot to him. And finally last week, during the lesson i had the thought to just ask him for his cigarettes right then in the lesson. He was just quiet for a long time, and then pulled them out of his pocket and handed them over. So now I have some cigarettes! And Chen dixiong stopped smoking! He passed his baptismal interview and his baptism is this Saturday! It's such a blessing to be a tool in the hand of the Lord, to see someone who needed the gospel, and was so ready for it, progress from knowing nothing about it to reading the Book of Mormon and getting baptized! The timing of the lord is so exact. I learned later that Chen dixiong had injured his hand and been unable to work for a month or so, and I think because of this trial he had been prepared to meet the gospel. That's why he was willing to pull over, and why my testimony touched him. He said himself that he believes it was Shen de Anpai "the organization of god" that he ran into me then. So cool!
Well, I pretty much have to go now. Sorry I no send picture today.
p.s. This morning for excercise we went and did tai chi with a group of old ladies that only spoke taiwanese. That was really fun.
love, Elder Vernon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A few pictures

August 23, 2010

So, saturday night we had a baptism!!! This kid's name is Chen2 Hao4 Feng1, and he's really solid. Me and Elder Adams taught him, and then the week he was getting baptized Elder Adams left, and I had to set up the baptism and everything. Which doesn't sound like that much work, but sometimes it just takes a lot to make a baptism happen, I had to call a bunch of ward members and bishopric, and they all speak chinese really fast, and it was fun. Anyways, nobody came to the baptism, except us, and the kid, and his friend, a few members and zhan yi rong that we asked to baptize him. It wasn't the most smooth baptism because he had to be baptized 4 times too, but the spirit was there and he finally got baptized and it was really fun. It's been a way stressful week, because my new companion doesn't know the area or the people, so it almost seems like I've been senior companion this week, making plans and going places and leading discussions. But i've also grown a lot. We went to a meeting with the ward leaders to report on our investigators and people we were focusing on, and after the meeting I realized I was able to understand almost everything they said and that they understood what I said. So good!
Yesterday was a stressful sunday, when church was starting Hao Feng still hadn't come, and he was supposed to be confirmed, ... and so we called his house and they were all asleep, but his dad answered and said he was still sleeping and didn't want to wake him up. So we prayed real hard and then hao feng rode his bike up and was able to get confirmed the day after his baptism. then I accidentally told one of our investigators a class was in the wrong room, and he ended up just waiting in there by himself for a long time while I ran downstairs and tried to catch another investigator who was leaving. Oh well. we do all we can, and then the Lord takes care of the rest because there's just way too much to do.
So, today is a great preparation day, I can relax a little bit. The rest of these pictures are just on the way to the post office and internet cafe. Missionary work is so fun. I saw that guy sitting on a big motorcycle and said, "hey your motorcycle is really cool!" and he got all happy, and I said, can I take a picture next to you?" and he got even more happy, then I set up a time to meet with him and a baptismal goal. That's one add for today. we'll see if he comes, or if he ends up fanging our gezis. That's a picture of a little asian child. They're rather cute. And a picture of the stake center here in Fengyuan. It's way cool. It has three floors and it's really pretty.
This morning I cleaned the apartment for three hours, and it was really fun. There was some really gross old garbage in some places that missionaries just let sit there that might have been there since Prenten was here, who knows. but now my apartment is clean, and that feels real good. You learn a lot about yourself on a mission, and I learned that I really like things organized just right and clean just like Dad, but I also love just rolling up my sleeves and doing big cleaning projects like Mom. I'm excited to go buy stuff today, and take some more pictures. I want to get some cool action shots of me adding people on the street and then send them sometime.
So, the investigators we are focused on right now is our ward mission leader's son, who is 16 named You2 dixiong, or steven. I really hope we can get him baptized soon. His grandpa opposes and tells him not to get baptized, and steven himself doesn't really know what he wants. he doesn't have a baptismal goal yet, but I think we're going to throw him in a baptismal interview tonight at eight so that he could get baptized any time he decides he wants to.
And also a 29 year old Chen2 zhi4 tai4 who is just really solid and willing, and I'll tell you more about him next week!
Bubye, Elder Vernon

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

Well, I don't have much time. I love you all! I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures! I went to the temple last week! That was fun. And then two days ago the president called and told my companion that he was moving down to Gaoxiong to be a zone leader! Aaaah! It really caught me by surprise, because we're only halfway through the move call, but because a lot of missionaries were going home, they did a little mini move call. Fun! But I'm a little nervous because now I will have to lead to places, and roads and investigators houses, and I'm the one who knows investigators and their concerns, and so I have a little more responsibility. But I love this area, and I love the people, and I love my new companion, so we can just rely on the spirit and everything will be okay. One time we were trying to remember where this one house was, and we had written down the wrong address, because Elder Adams had one time on exchanges ridden around for an hour or so trying to find it but couldn't. So I said a prayer and then rode in the way that I could best remember. Because we've only been there once before a while ago and it's way up in a different place next to rice fields and hills and buddha temples. But I just rode in what seemed like the wrong direction, and then just picked random roads, and eventually somehow ended up right at their house. The spirit really can lead us in funny ways. Like last night my companion really needed to find a member that could drive us to the mission home this morning, and I facetiously said brother Wu, who I knew doesn't really like missionaries. And turns out there was another Brother Wu who was willing, and my companion said "O, that's a great idea!" and so called him and he said he would. So things work out for us if we just go and try hard and rely on the spirit!
My companion's name is Elder Kossman! he's from Chandler, Arizona. He's half Korean and really super nice. this is his first time being a senior companion, he's on his seventh move call now, and I can tell things are just going to be absolutely great! There are a lot of people here in Fengyuan that I want to see get baptized this move call or next. But things are all on the lord's timing and not mine. I saw that last move call with Wang Yu Li, who had been investigating for a long long time, but when the time was right, things just worked out together and he got baptized. That's a picture of him I sent. he's so solid, he told me today he wants to go serve a mission, in less than a year's time he'll be in the mission field too! YES! I love missionary work! It's so much fun!!!!! whoooooo!!!!
p.s. my companion had to use that ugly pink bike because his isn't sent up from Gaoxiong yet. It's really funny so I took a picture. I've had to ride it a few times too when my bike has flat tires or something.
Zai xiang huiuiuiuiui!
Bubye!, Elder Vernon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010

Well, hello everybody. Today we went on a temple trip to Taibei. It was really fun, we woke up at 4 30 am and went to the mission home and then our zone all went on a bus up to Taibei. we watched the testaments and the Joseph Smith movie on the way up, and it was really funny to see the parts of the Testaments about Jesus Christs ministry in English. Because the same parts are in finding faith in christ, and I'll watch that movie in chinese with investigators quite a bit, and it's fun to every time I watch it understand a little bit more. I remember watching it in the MTC, and not understanding one bit. And now I can understand one little bit. so that's progress. Well, the temple was pretty. Really small compared to some of our big utah ones. I always like bragging about all the temples back in utah, and how there are like five temples within an hour's drive. temples really are great. I decided today I definitely want to work in the temple when I'm an old guy. Maybe even a mission where I work in a temple would be fun. So that's why I didn't email on monday, is because the temple trip today counted as our preparation day, so we go to the temple, come home and email, and then go teach english class. Right now I'm teaching the beginning class, it's kind of an adventure. the first hour is english teaching and then the last half hour is sharing about the gospel. and when new people come we ask them if they'll meet with the missionaries and get baptized. It's better than last move call, when I was teaching the primary age class. That's tough to try and teach like 10 little kids english for an hour and a half.
Anyways, I hope everything's just rolling smoothly at home, sometimes I think about how lame it would be if I was home right now. I love home, and I'm excited to go back, and some times I even miss it, but then I think about how if I were there right now instead of being a missionary it would just be extrememely flat, and I wouldn't have helped anybody get baptized. So, I hope the family knows that Elizabeth is over there in Connecticut baptizing just as many people as I am. So far we're tied right now from the time I left on my mission to now. And now I issue the family a challenge.
Can you help as many people receive baptism as I can during my mission??? I bet you can! This includes our whole immediate family. All my brother in laws are great missionaries too. I plan on baptizing lots, but wouldn't it be great if my family did the same back home? It's a lot of work but it's way worth it. YOU CAN DO IT!!! you just need to have the mindset of wanting to find someone to baptize wherever you go and then the lord will place someone in your path, that you can see progress in the gospel to baptism, and it will make you really happy!
Alright, well, I don't have a lot of time. Have a great week! Bubye!
Elder Vernon

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1, 2010

Sarah had her baby. Wow! That's really amazing, good job Rod! and Mom! and I'm glad Sarah didn't die or anything. What are they going to name it? Seven kids. When I tell people that my sister has seven kids they are really surprised. That was fun to see pictures of Nancy June, and Marilyn's weddings. That's good! So the count so far is Julia, Marilyn, Nancy June married while I've been gone so far right? Who else will be married when I get back? hmm....all those guys could get married, Parley, David, Kendall, Will, Rodney, but Jessica will probably beat them all. haha.
Well, things back here in Taiwan have been great as well. The baptism we had on Saturday was so good. There were quite a bit of people there, and Wang Yu Li is so solid. I hope I can see him go on a mission before I leave Taiwan. Because I always talk to him about hymns and how much we both like the hymns and music I wanted to do some music for his baptism, but it didn't look like anything was going to work, because there was nobody to play piano or to sing with, but it turns out that an Elder Huang that came up for the baptism could sing, and so we sang Abide with me after only singing through it twice, and it was really pretty and worked out great. Blessed by the spirit. So, that was a great baptism.
one thing that wasn't so great is that one of our recent converts, Song dixiong just stopped answering our phone calls, and doesn't come to church. And he was so good too. I don't know what his problem is. We went and visited his house, and talked to him and he said his girlfriend won't let him go to church. It made me sad. we'll keep working with him, because I'd feel really bad if I helped somebody get baptized and then they just drop out. that's no good. We have a really good investigator named Cliff still, but his family won't let him get baptized. We have probably five kids we could baptize in week if they didn't have family opposition. But they need permission and their parents are buddhist. Oh well.
Elder Vernon

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010

Well, Hello Family! Here's the report,
We had an amazing week. Really amazing. Staying here in my area with my companion was a real good thing. Things are just getting lots better. We focused this week on contacting better, and trying to get people to sit down with us that day or the next. We sat down with 7 new investigators this week, and also have some great progressing investigators too. We've seen a lot of miracles. Or maybe it's just summer break so the kids don't have anything to do except wan diannao. Play computer. It's sad but pick almost any teenage boy off the streets at this time in taiwan, and ask him what he does all day. He'll say plays computer. all day, and then take any teenage girl and all she does is go mai dongxi, buy stuff. buy shoes, and then they'll go eat food or buy some more dongxi with friends. Anyways, we saw a lot of success with first time sit downs this week.
Last night was also an amazing baptismal service, for one of our investigators Lin Chen Hui. He's a sixteen year old kid that is extremely shy. Like so shy that he doesn't really say words, ever. The baptism was so special because he is a member referral, from his older sister. His sister is a recent convert, and she has been helping her whole family to progress so much. The father is a inactive melchizedek priesthood holder, and the father's brother, sister, and all their families are active in the fengyuan ward. So, when the kid was baptized there were about twenty people there that were just his family. His aunts uncles and cousins, and then his dad came too, and his sisters that aren't members yet. And it was just really good to be a part of seeing the gospel bring a family together right before our eyes. All because of the efforts of the older sister. There is no possible way we could have baptized this kid without the family support. After the baptism the Dad starting talking about when he was baptized, and how if the missionaries came to his house his mom would hit them with a stick, and how his sister said she wanted to go to college but her parents told her it was impossible, that she should forget and learn how to work. But she joined the church, and through the gospel studied, and opportunities came for her to go to college and start a big happy family in the church. Now her family the zheng family is one of the most solid in fengyuan! Every member here has amazing stories of how the came into the church. It's awesome
So that baptism was good.
And we've got another one lined up for saturday night, which I'm even more excited about. His name is Wang yu li and he's 23 and been investigating the church for I think over a year. He's met with missionaries countless times, goes to institute and church every week, and the whole ward knew him. Whenever I would talk to him at church I just felt like he needed to get baptized, and had faith that no matter what his problem was we could help him get baptized. So, we sat down with him and told him to get baptized. It was the most boldest bluntest lesson ever, shared some good scriptures, but he still wouldn't. But then he had been visiting with an elder that used to serve here who he got close to, and said he'd been going through a tough time with work and stuff, and also that he doesn't really have any reason to not be baptized, and I think it's just all the Lord's timing. So I'm excited to see Wang Yu Li get baptized. The mission president even gave permission for the other Elder, Elder Beus to come back up here and baptize wang yu li before he goes home next move call, because it was Elder Beus that helped him progress to baptism, I didn't even do anything.
And... hopefully can help a lot more people get baptized here in fengyuan.
One Investigator we have is a way cool 18 year old kid named Cliff. People in Taiwan have the funniest English names. cliff isn't too bad. We also have an investigator named Cloud. and I've recently run into people named Denim, Yodi, Mars, Cave, and plenty of other funny ones. Anyways, Cliff is great, he's just really nice and fun, and loves the Book of Mormon. We were teaching him the first time, and he started talking about how he enjoys reading about ancient history of like Jerusalem and stuff, and told us the whole story of the tower of Babel, and is real smart. And now he has read through first nephi and remembers a lot from it. It's not often that somebody understands the book of Mormon like he does in taiwan. Most people just don't understand it. And one of our investigators, this really funny old guy can't read at all, so we just show him pictures and tell him to get baptized but he won't because he still goes to another church.
As for me, I'm doing great. I must have spent way too much money in the first of the month because I'm really broke now, but it'll be a new month soon. I'll be fine just as long as I can feel the spirit. Sometimes everything around me is foreign and I'm tired and grumpy, but if I can feel the spirit then everything is okay. I also find that if I have an opportunity to teach the gospel, then I feel at home. No matter where I am the gospel is the same, the scriptures are the same, the spirit is the same.
Thanks for the family pictures, I love showing them to people, and they always just have a cow over a family with nine kids. They say my Mother and what she did is Bu jiandan, and also weida. Not simple, and very great. It's true, it took lots of years of effort to finally get rid of the last kid. What does mommy even do anymore? I just can't picture mom making food that would only serve two people, that's just not how mommy does it. Well, I'm sure grandkids can keep you busy. Oh yeah, and you're going to burley. Trips to burley are really xinku. hardworking/I pity you.
Well, I'll go now. The church is true, I'll see you in a couple years.
Bubye, Elder Vernon

Monday, July 19, 2010

July pictures

William's friend Gavin Norton from our ward in Alpine is his zone leader. Here are some pictures from Gavin. He was super excited to see William and he comes home July 21. It will be fun to hear him report on Aug. 8

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 18, .2010

We got move call! Me and my companion are both staying in Fengyuan! It's a great place! You can see it behind me in those pictures up in the mountains. That was last preparation day we biked up to a miao in the mountains, and it was really cool. But we couldn't go inside because it was actually just a bunch of dead people and you had to know which dead person you wanted to see to go in. Well, yesterday we baptized Zhan yi rong, and he was so happy. He was just really excited to get baptized, and we had a priest in the ward baptize him. the taller one is yi rong. That was a great experience. It's only been a little over three weeks since I first stopped him on his bike and invited him to come to church and meet with us. Solid! Well, bubye! Elder Norton will be home soon. It's still the same ol' Gavin, but way different. but still the same. you'll see. He's grown up a whole bunch and I hope I can too. Missions are good things.
Elder Vernon

William pictures July 18