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