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