Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pictures 12/28/11

Elder Petters and I

Elder Farr and I

Elder Harper and I

Elder Zhuang and I

Lone Peak Elders...There are more in my mission
Baptism on Christmas Eve
Baptism of Wu Rong Tai
Zhanghua Zone

December 28, 2011

Wu Rong Tai was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Christmas Eve, and Day. It was a wonderful experience. He's got a lot of faith, and even though it was hard, he quit smoking. we had to role play with him about how to reject his boss at work when he gets offered cigarettes. He's progressing well, and the ward is working with him! He was baptized by our new member Huang Yi Li who was baptized two weeks before. Huang Yi Li says he has a testimony of the Word of Wisdom now, because not drinking tea and coffee has made him cough a lot less. He also has read through most of the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Book of Mormon, and goes to institute every week. He came to the baptism prepared with the baptismal prayer already written down to memorize. I asked him where he found it and he said, "It's in the scriptures!"
Today we went to the Temple in Taipei.
It was really fun. I was the "bus captain" so I would speak to the missionaries on the bus microphone. I could also pick which movies we watched on the bus. So today we watched the John Tanner Movie, Only a Stone-cutter, The Joseph Smith Movie, Mountain of the Lord, The Pump, The Test, and How Rare a possession. Whew.
The Temple was really special. I hadn't been for over a year. There were so many things I forgot.
I think I'll go a lot as soon as I get home.
Go Go Go!
Love, Elder Vernon

Friday, December 23, 2011

Taiwan Taichung Missionaries

Dear Friends and Family,
At this time of year, we remember our Savior, His birth, life, and above all, His atonement.  We are grateful to Him. We are privileged to be able to serve Him at this time, in this way.  We wish all of you a Merry Christmas.  We hope that all of you will be filled with joy as you remember Him and His gift to all of us.
Taiwan Taichung Missionaries
For this  video Christmas Message from all of us, go to this link

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18, 2011

Sorry today will be a brief letter, I accidentally forgot to save my email to President Bishop again and it got erased. :/
We're going to eat lunch today with our recent convert Huang Yi Li. He's absolutely wonderful. We're bringing a copy of the Liahona with a bunch of pictures of the temple, and we're going to help him get excited to go to the temple! He still reminds me of Dad. I can't wait till the battle that ensues after each meal with him about who pays. I'm determined to get him this time. :)
 I'm a little bit sad that so many other new members aren't coming. I was really surprised to hear that Trevor's mission president in the phillipines officially came out and said the focus of their mission is no longer baptizing, but rescuing. I'm glad we're a baptizing mission! But I also like rescuing too. Both are good.
I'm excited for christmas. I'm even more excited that on christmas eve we have an investigator that's getting baptized! His name is Wu Rong Tai. He's super cool. The poor guy lives in a mental hospital. But he seems completely normal. We took a member there to teach with us, and the member was able to make good friends with him. Afterward the member told us that Brother Wu probably works there. We've had him interview with the bishop as well, so the Bishop could get to know him, and the Bishop says he seems great and was really willing to announce his baptism this saturday. (This morning we played tennis again with the Bishop, ward mission leader, and 1st counselor in the stake presidency. It's so fun! and we have a great relationship with the Bishop and his family). We're worried Brother Wu will struggle with smoking. he has so much faith. He had smoked one cigarette the day before, but after the interview he was really determined not to smoke. I noticed he was acting a little funny in church yesterday, and asked him what was up. He said he was going through major withdrawals. haha, poor guy. But there's nowhere better to be than sacrament meeting. He went and washed his face a couple times, and prayed and seemed to make it through. I think he'll make it.
other than tennis I'm developing the talent of playing the recorder. I bought one for 100 dollars and it plays really well! My companion Elder Petters and play the ocarina like a star, and so we usually play a christmas hymn in the morning on our instruments. It brightens my day.
I think worrying about missionaries in the zone, and about investigators smoking all mixed together in my head last night. I had this terrible dream last night where I went on exchanges with the first ward elders, and when I got to the seven eleven where we would meet, I saw Elder Wang sitting there smoking a cigarette!
Don't worry it was only a dream. I don't think Elder Wang has a problem with smoking.
I'm also excited for christmas because I get to play prelude music with Elder Ammon Chung at the Christmas activity again. I'm excited for that! 
Guess what else happened this week? President Bishop called us up and told us that one of the best cellists in Taiwan knew our Area seventy, Elder Gong, and when Elder Gong came to Taiwan, he introduced the Bishops to this Cellist, Evelyn Huang. She invited President Bishop to come and be interviewed on her radio station. President Bishop invited Elder Chung and I to play violin and viola on the radio!
So we prepared a couple songs, and played on taiwan radio. It was awesome! She was surprised that we wanted to play, and probably didn't think we would be very good. But it sounded great, it was really blessed. We played "how great thou art" and also a traditional taiwanese song about a flower that everybody loves. Mo li hua. I guess it would translate to... Jasmine. Elder Zhong plays the viola so well. He's amazing!
I thought it was really really fun. I think my favorite part, however, was when she asked about Family home evening.  President and Sister Bishop happened to have made a song they sing every monday night, so they sang their family home evening song to the tune of The Spirit of God. "The Bishop family home evening is starting...
It truly helped me feel once again the importance of family home evening, and family and marriage. It's something that I really haven't had a lot of experiences with in Taiwan. Not a lot of people do family home evening.
I think I will focus on families more and more until the end of my mission.
The zone is doing well. We're really going to need a push this week to find some prepared people and drop them in this week if we're to hit our goal of 11. But I know we can do it!!!
Merry Christmas,
Talk to you soon!
Love, Elder Vernon

Sunday, December 11, 2011

baptism pictures

December 12, 2011

William Preston Vernon
9:07 PM (1 hour ago)

to me
Huang Yi Li was baptized!!!!!!!!   Wow, he was so prepared. We taught him tithing, that was a real toughy for him, but he agreed to keep it. His biggest worry was still his family. But as we invited him to keep praying about the Book of Mormon, he kept having dreams. He dreamed he was eating with his family, but then when they left, he felt like he had lost something that he needed to look for, so he went back and looked, looked, looked, but couldn't find what he was looking for. Finally he looked over and in his dream he found the chapel, but his family had disappeared. He felt like the dream was telling him that he might have to decide to join the church without his family.
He has such faith! I don't know why but I felt like he needed to be baptized, that he was ready. The original plan was to have a baptismal interview on thursday, and then maybe wait till next week to baptize. But as we were riding to English class I felt the impression that he was ready, and needed to get baptized as soon as possible. The spirit was working really really hard on him and we could feel it. So that night we pulled him out of English class, and prepared him for an interview. We went through all the questions, and said, "Is there anything that you don't understand, or have questions about?" Guess what his question was, he said, "Elder Wen, what are the three great keys revealed to Joseph Smith about how to tell the difference between good and evil messengers? I don't get that part."   haha. I've never had an investigator ask me that before.
I loved the moment when he agreed to be baptized on saturday. He committed, and we helped him hit that goal. I feel like he'll make a very solid new member if we can get the ward members all over him with the new member lessons. he's like a sponge when it comes to learning new things from the scriptures.
What a cool experience! At the beginning I had almost no faith that he would be baptized. But I guess we never know who's prepared or not. He was baptized by this big halfway -active guy that we wanted to strengthen. I hope he was worthy!
This is the first baptism I've had in a long time. I hope there's plenty to come.
Love, Elder Vernon
We had three other investigators preparing to be baptized on christmas eve. We had the little wang brothers confirmed for church, and then they were tired, and refused to go. I was really really disappointed, and now their goal will have to be pushed back. I'll keep working with them, but they're not really progressing.
The other one is Wu Rong Tai. He's a 29 year old guy that lives in the crazy hospital. we met him when we went to visit a less active crazy lady in the crazy hospital on top of the hill. I really don't want to baptize a crazy person. So we don't usually give baptismal invitations to the people there. Because they're all really willing, but probably don't need it and won't help the ward. But this poor Wu guy. He seems completely normal. I'm planning on calling the center and asking what his problem is before we baptize him. I don't want him to get baptized and then realize that he only goes crazy during certain parts of the year or something. Anyways, we had the crazy less active lady accompany our lesson last night when we taught the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. That was interesting. She wouldn't stop talking about how much she liked tea and how she said that in her prayers Heavenly Father probably understood that it was okay for her to drink tea. We might not invite her to peike anymore.
We also found a really cool new investigator with the last name of xu. He was really hard core buddhist for most of his life. He told us that A really intent buddhist looks at the bible as something at a preschool level of scriptures. But then he read the bible and he was wholly converted to Jesus Christ. He said he felt like a snake of darkness that held him bound was pulled off of him and he felt something he never had before. I was so impressed, and it was another testimony of the truthfulness of the bible. The best thing was that he had no specific christian church, He learned from the bible himself, and everything he knew was pure true doctrine. He even told us that reading the bible he had realized that God created man and all animals and plants to be immortal, and that after the fall was the only time that things started to die.
And then we found a family of four who's kids always argued and played video games and that was all. They said they would come to church but then didn't.
I'm really excited for Christmas!
Elder Petters says hi.

Monday, December 5, 2011

new companionElder Petters

My New companion Elder Petters

December 5, 2011

Merrrrry Christmas!!!!
I love Christmas season!!!!  I still wear a short sleeve white shirt, and people think I'm crazy. The only bad thing is right when I wanted to start listening to christmas music, my CD player broke, and my companion didn't have one either!!! NOOOO!!!!! the good news is we had met an investigator once who worked at an electronics store, that could repair it. We used it as a way to share the gospel with them again. The wife started reading the book of Mormon every day, and has a desire, and then said she had a dream where she saw angels, and a pillar of light. They're taking forever to fix my CD player though.
we had three investigators to church yesterday. Huang Yi Li is so good. I called him last night and asked him if he could get baptized, he said "Baptism sounds good, if I don't run into any problems, it's OK." So we set a goal for this saturday.
We haven't taught him tithing yet... or done a baptismal interview.
Well, the news for today is Elder Zhuang got called up to be the mission recorder. I was real sad to see him go, he was a great companion. I'm also really excited about my new companion Elder Petters. He's such an amazing missionary. He is one transfer below me, and we were pretty close in the mtc. we're going to be doing great, and having a lot of fun. He's a really humorous, but focused missionary.
I've learned a lot recently. I think I've become more humble. I know the Lord can help us baptize and retain, and rescue in the month of december.
Love, Elder Vernon
p.s. have a good christmas season. Make sure to play lots of racky and sit in the hot tub. And do tradition.
Yesterday the two wang kids didn't come to church, I was really sad. We went to their door in the morning to get them, and there was a note saying they weren't there. That night we went to find them and the uncle said they weren't there, but they probably were. I think the uncle is starting to have second thoughts about them getting baptized in another church. So please please pray pray pray for the Wang Kids. Wang shi qin and Wang shao en.
I love you all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pictures Nov 28 2011

one of these is with the tailor that made my new shiny suit!
The other guy is Huang2 Yi4 Li4 our investigator.
Aunt Mim would really like this place. A whole village of selling potted trees and flowers and SHRUBBERIES! to put in your house.

Nov 28, 2011

   We met with Zhang Yu Cheng the other day. He said he didn't feel like he was ready to get baptized. To tell the truth, I didn't feel like he was ready to be baptized either. He isn't really focused on joining the church at all recently. He is testing, and hasn't been reading, and doesn't have any good friends at church yet. So we moved his goal back a couple weeks. I believe he'll still be able to be baptized in December though. He said himself he has a "rather big desire to be baptized." He didn't come to church on sunday because of school.
The Wang Family didn't come to church on sunday, because they went and visited their mom in Nantou. I thought that was a good thing for them to see their mom. I was sad they didn't come to church either. We had to move their goal back as well. I think they'll probably end up being baptized on christmas eve. Because I want to make sure the older one has good friends in church. They're really similar to the two Shi Brothers we baptized last christmas. When the older one stopped going to church, the younger one disappeared as well.
But, we saw a big miracle yesterday. We were going to go home to eat dinner, but we felt we should first visit them. I walked in, and only the uncle was there with one other guy. The uncle said it was his friend. So I was about to take off, but then I looked a little closer, and the "friend" looked a lot like the oldest kid. I realized it was their DAD!!! He had heard the kids went back to visit their mom, and got mad and came back to see what was going on. He was drunk too. But, he was actually a really really good person. Super humble. He told us how Jesus Christ had truly helped him many times in the past. He really had a strong testimony of Jesus Christ. I played a hymn on my violin for them. And then we shared the message of the restoration with him. And then we asked if he would allow his children to get baptized and join the church. He agreed!!! Haha, right when he was about to sign the paper, he stopped, and asked us like 5 times whether or not baptism involved any weird rites that included bleeding or cutting. We promised his children would not be bled at baptism, and he signed the paper. What a miracle. It was a gift from Heavenly Father. He's really preparing this dysfunctional family to receive the gospel. The Dad said he might come to church sometime. But I doubt he'll actually do it. Maybe we'll get him to the baptism. Then the kids got home, and we sang love at home, and pretended and treated them like they were a normal happy loving family. They really are humble, and love each other. Then We all read out loud together the part about family from the Strength of Youth pamphlet. We told them the ultimate goal was to help their whole family go to the temple and back to the presence of God.
We also have a really fun investigator named Huang Yi Li. He's the one that's basically read through the Book of Mormon. He's about 40, and he reminds me a lot of Dad. A whole lot actually. If Dad were Taiwanese, and didn't get married. He loves to take us to mcDonalds. Today he told us he wanted to drive us to look at flowers. At first I thought it was going to be really boring. I thought I was going to look at like a beautiful mountain view. Turns out he took us to a place that sells lots and lots of potted plants. I'm sure aunt miriam would have just loved it. But it actually turned out kind of cool. I bought some potted plants and also some seeds to plant at my apartment. haha. There really were quite some amazing trees and there was just hundreds and hundreds of stores selling potted flowers and trees. I bought one to be my christmas tree in a month. it's only two feet tall, but it'll do I guess. The only problem is it doesn't smell like a christmas tree. Oh well, Elder Zhuang would probably think that was stinky. I'll send you some pictures of the potted trees and plant places we went. The little ones were really cheap. but they've been growing some of the trees for many many years, 50 years. So the big ones can be as expensive as a million dollars NT!  I never thought a tree could cost so much! Oh well. Mine was only 125 dollars. 
On the way home the three other missionaries fell asleep and me and Brother Huang talked about some of his concerns. He said he thought the resurrection was something scary, and unrealistic, and he couldn't bring himself to believe something like that. He also had some concerns about the word of wisdom. We talked about how if you drink tea and coffee, you can become addicted, and it actually isn't good for you. (everybody here believes tea is good for you). I think he'll be able to be baptized in December too. I think he enjoyed the primary program yesterday. At least I enjoyed it! I was able to play violin to accompany every song the primary sung! 
Things are looking good here in Zhanghua. Keep up the good work at home!!!
Love, Elder Vernon 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nov. 21, 2011

So, church was great! we had 4 investigators come. And now I'm really excited to be helping some of these investigators progress towards baptism! It's been a long long time since I had a baptism, and now we're looking like we might have some in december. Yesterday was a day of miracles.
One of our investigators is a wonderful young man named Zhang Yu Cheng, We met with him friday at his parents noodle shop. Then he left to school. We were riding off to the next appointment when I got the feeling that something wasn't right. But I didn't know what. So we rode back, and a pulled out the strength of Youth pamphlet and talked to his mom for a couple minutes about what we were teaching her son. We also asked if he could come to church this sunday. She appreciated it, but said the family already had plans this sunday and he couldn't go. Then on sunday morning, we got a call from Yu Cheng, and he said, "I'm here at the chapel!" He took the bus 20 minutes by himself to get to church! HIs birthday is the 3rd of december. We'll have to move fast, but I think he might be able to get baptized on his birthday!
We also brought the Wang Family to church! We went over to their house sunday morning, and they were all sleeping. We yelled and hollered till we woke up some random girl that was at their house.??? And she let us in and we chased down the rest of the kids and rounded them up and stuck them on a member's scooter and hustled them off to church. (We found out later there are two orphan girls there that the uncle lets live there because they don't have anywhere else, that's who the girl was. I bet she gets baptized too. At least least the sisters won't have to worry about parent opposition while teaching her, hahahaha. okay that wasn't a funny joke). We made the oldest ride bikes with us though, and he rode really really slow. It was stressful, we ended up a little bit late, but it was worth it! next week we'll go do it all over again, but earlier. Getting kids to church isn't easy. I can't wait till I have 13 kids of my own, and try to get them all rounded up and to church on time! I really love these kids though. I'll tell you a little bit about their situation:
They are yuanzhumin, which means native taiwan aborigines. So the children are really cute, but the parents don't do such a good job of being parents. The Father and Mother got a divorce a while ago. Nobody knows where the Father is, there's five kids, the oldest is 15, the two youngest are babies, and got taken by the government to be fostered in another home. The Mom works in a different city and only comes home maybe once or twice a month and sees the children. They live with an uncle who is single and he's actually really nice, but struggles to give the kids anything else to eat besides rice. He's a christian too, so we were worried he might not allow us to take the kids to church. But he said that his church is too strict to take the kids, and I think he appreciates somebody looking after the kids on sunday morning. Anyways we were going to leave the little five year old at home and take the older two, but then there would be nobody to take care of him, so we just took him with us too. He was really scared at first of the different environment. But he'll get used to it. So I went to primary with the younger two, and turns out they were practicing for the primary program that day, And I had brought my violin, so I helped them with all the songs, and now next week me and our two little investigators get to perform in the primary program next week!
Our other investigator was a man who read the book of mormon all the way through in a week, backwards. (He said he always reads from front to back). We asked him if he would be baptized, and in answer he took us to visit his house. His house was very very well furnished and fancy. It was apparent that his family had a lot of money. Beware of being too comfortable, now he's forty and not married and still lives in his home. Too comfortable. He told us if he joined the church his family would probably kick him out of the nice house. I told him "Good! Get baptized and now you can get on with your life." I don't know if he liked that. We shared the story of Lehi leaving his comfortable house in Jerusalem to wander in the wilderness for 8 years, to keep the commandments of God.
I'm also getting closer and closer to the Bishop of the ward. He is so amazing. I really really hope I don't move. I want at least one more transfer here in zhanghua with Elder Zhuang. I would love to stay here. Because I'm just barely starting to see some results. The ward is starting to focus of home teaching. They are calling more ward missionaries. Saturday we ate with the bishop, Yesterday I went on exchanges with him. (It was such a miracle, we went to our secondary area, visited a member who hadn't been to church in 10 years, and he immediately agreed to come back this sunday!) and this morning we played tennis together.
He tells us more and more to just get to know the members of the ward, and once they know me they will be more willing to help. He's also invited me every week to play violin as prelude music to sacrament meeting. I think my music is a really big help in getting to know the ward. As I visit members, and play violin, I become a specific individual to them, and they remember me. I'm not just another Elder, but it opens a little window into myself and they feel like they know me better. So I always take my violin around on sundays when we visit members.
That's about it! I'm doing good!
willi zhanglao

Monday, November 14, 2011

Picture 11/14/11

Nov. 14, 2011

Dear family,

Things are good. Sorry today is a little late in e-mailing. Turns out we had a zone activity today. Luckily we all live decently close together, except for the Elders in Xihu who had to ride a bus for half an hour or so. But we got everybody in the zone (except for the Elders out on the Island of Magong) together and took a picture in front of the big buddha on Bagua shan. The funny thing is, last week we were eating dinner, and there was this really really old grandpa, grandpa Zhang sitting next to us. We started talking to him and he was so funny. He told us that he was actually the architect/ designer of the big buddha! That's one of the biggest landmarks of Taiwan. It was really fun. we all got together and said a prayer that the people of zhanghua could be prepared, and then ordered pizza and took a lot of pictures. Our zone's doing pretty well. We had two baptisms and confirmations in the zone last week, and we're working hard to hit our goal for 10 this month. Even cooler, we had one of the best recent convert turnouts at church I've seen so far, we got 51 percent of the recent converts to sacrament meeting yesterday. Yay!
I've been having a lot of fun working hard with the recent converts and investigators in our ward last week. We've found quite a few new investigators recently, and we're also trying to go find lots of old ones. I also have really been having fun bringing back less actives. It's kind of hard though, because when they come back to church, the ward likes it, and is nice to them. But there's still nobody that will actually be their good friend, and so they eventually don't stay active for the first reason they left in the first place. I think if by the time I leave this ward, there are a couple more recent converts active, less actives come back, and have started home teaching and new member lessons, I feel like I will have done my job. But I still want to baptize more than anything else. I don't know why it's not happening. However, I found a family that I really want to baptize. Two days ago I saw a 13 year old kid on the road, and contacted him. He seemed like he wanted to be cool and rebellious, but as soon as I started talking to him I realized that he was really really humble and a good kid. We went to visit their house, and found a little shack way out in the country. Turns out this kid is the oldest of 5 kids, they all looked really hungry and dirty and humble. Their parents divorced, nobody knows where the Dad is, and the Mom works in Nantou, and hardly ever comes home. The only person that lives with them is an uncle who used to drink a lot, but converted to some weird christian church and stopped drinking. I called the number the kid gave me last night, and it was the mom that answered. Turns out she was christian too. And unable to come home because of work, she said she is always worried about her oldest child who is turning a bit rebellious. She said the only thing she could do was pray, and then we ran into the family. And then she said she had been meeting with the missionaries in Nantou! So, that is the Wang family. We hope they will be able to start progressing.
I love serving the Lord. I've been seeing so many blessings lately. I also am starting to realize I am very old.  It was really weird to go up to the big buddha today, that's where we went for christmas last year to take a mission picture, and only four of the missionaries in our zone had been here for christmas! wow.
I don't really know what else to say. I'm learning a lot of things from my companion. Not just taiwanese. But that's one of my favorite things to learn from him. Taiwanese is such a funny sounding language. I'm now almost capable of communicating with people over the age of 60!!!! The lady that made my suit only spoke taiwanese, I didn't really know what she was saying. hope the suit turns out all right!
Haha. mom, sometimes I don't think you know what taiwan is like at all. I thought it was funny that you said I might not have the best computers over here. Taiwan is number one with cheap electronic stuff. I really can get anything you would ever need over here. for really cheap. Every person on taiwan has at least 2 or 3 cell phones. I still don't know why you would need more than one. but most people have two....?
Alright love you!!! 
Elder Vernon

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

Hellow Yellow bottoms!
Is Yellow Bottoms still alive at Fraziers?
I actually totally forgot about Halloween. Oh well. Halloween was never my favorite anyways.
The zone is doing well. Our weekly report showed we all had an average of 3 investigators at church, which was an improvement. Sister Bray and Watterson had a baptism last week, and it was a really really fun experience. Her name is Jojo, and I was able to do her baptismal interview, and then play violin at her baptism, and then baptize her. But I felt like everybody should be involved, so our district all sang love at home while I played violin. Last minute performances are so fun on a mission. Right after the baptismal I had an interesting experience. I looked into the mirror and realized I wasn't a boy anymore. I guess I grew up a little bit on my mission. I don't think it was necessarily physical growth, but probably spiritual, social, and intellectual growth. I think the biggest thing I've learned on my mission is the attribute of Humility. I haven't even scratched the surface of knowing how to actually be humble. I'm still really selfish, and not a super polite person. I seem to always think of myself in any situation, and find it really hard to put others feelings thoughts or opinions on the same plane of importance as mine. But at least coming on my mission has helped me realize where I need to improve. At first I thought humility meant feeling like I wasn't that great, or not taking pride in things I've done. But I've learned that humility is actually confidence. Think of the most humble person you've ever met. I think of my bishops, and stake presidents. And maybe uncle David or some other people from Idaho. Or best think of Jesus Christ. These people are never ever insecure or self deprecating, but they never take the glory for anything. They are confident, because they know that Heavenly Father is on their side, and they tie everything back to Him. They never compare, never envy. I like the way President Uchtdorf said it best. He said Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking less about yourself, as we go and serve our fellow man.
Anyways, no real changes over here. Wow mom, you really are traveling a lot aren't you. Seems like you've been all around the US, away from home more than at it! How fun to not have any hittle buggers chaining you down to home eh? Oh well, at least your out and about doing things. we visited a member the other day, Brother Wu, and ate dinner at his house. His mom was sooo cute. A little short fat happy little grandma that couldn't understand a word we said but would just smile at us and tell us to eat more rice. We told Brother wu that he should baptize his mom. I think she wants to come to church, but I have no idea how to teach her. So we just told him to add some oil and see if he could baptize his mom.
I don't know what else to say today really. We've been running into a lot of prepared people. Last week our invitation to the zone was to pray for the people of zhanghua for their hearts to be softened and prepared to accept the gospel. It worked I think. I think it was a good idea and I'll keep doing it. I've realized more and more as a leader that prayer is the most powerful tool. We can't ma people, we can't manipulate, we just have to uplift, encourage, inspire and bless. Our opportunities to teach aren't very often, it's really up to the missionary whether or not they want to change and improve. And it seems like much of the time invitations and things don't make a very lasting impact, they're received well and then after a few days have made no difference. I felt a new appreciation for the apostles this general conference. I've got once a week to invite the zone to do something, they've only got twice a year to invite the whole body of the church! And half of them don't even listen! how frustrating that would be. So Elder Holland says he has to be blunt with the young men, because nothing else seems to work. How hard that would be to see people not making any improvement or listening to these messages from God.
well, all is well in Zion. I don't think there's anything else too exciting to talk about over here. Except for that I got to play my violin last night in 3 lessons to less actives to bring them back to church. yaaaay.
And my last companions mom sent this wonderful gift in the mail. It's a little spray can of room air refreshener, that is scented like fall pumpkin cinnamon spice. Oh it smells so good, just like apple cider and pumpkins and thanksgiving. Then Elder Wheeler left, and I sprayed it liberally in the room. When Elder Zhuang got here he said, "what is that awful smell? I've never smelt anything like it before, oh, how terrible!" Hahaha, I guess taiwanese people just have a different Idea of what smells good and bad. I didn't mention anything stinky tofu. Because actually I really like eating stinky tofu. I admit, the stuff really stinks. But I like the taste.
Have fun in Messiah! Gooooooodbye!!!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Taiwanese Companion

October 24, 2011 Taiwanese Companion

Hello Everybody! My new companion is Elder Zhuang, from Taibei City, the xinzhuang district. He's so amazing!!!!
I feel so good about my new companion. If mom could pick a companion for Elder Vernon, she'd probably pick Elder Zhuang. You just don't meet people much nicer.
Anyways, I've always wanted a Native companion my whole mission, Elder Chen I guess partly counts, but he was born and raised in Utah. So I've never had one until now. Things are always much more interesting with a native companion. I've always heard stories of missionaries who their hardest companion was a native. (maybe it was just Parley and Elizabeth). So I was a little nervous that he wouldn't be as diligent, or as focused. But I've met few missionaries so far that are as hard working and diligent and accountable as Elder Zhuang. It might help that he graduated from College, went to the army for a year, worked for two more years, and then came on a mission. So now he's a lot more mature than the average 19 year old kid. I think he's 27 right now.
He's parents and family members are Yi Guan Dao. A religion where they believe a lot of different Gods. Including Buddhist, Daoist, Christ, and some others. They're always the hardest to teach. He joined the church when he was in college at age 21, and when he said he wanted to go on a mission, His parents said that he might as well not come home, basically kicked him out. His Girlfriend also opposed him leaving.
So if you want to, maybe mom or Dad could write Elder Zhuang a letter because I don't think he gets a lot of mail from home.
I'm always more and more impressed with the Taiwanese people, and my love grows for them more and more daily. Just little experiences every day make me so grateful to be serving in this mission among these people. I'm also having a lot of fun working with my zone right now to help us all work harder and more effectively.
For example,
I remember one little thing, when I accidentally went up to contact a family and then realized they were doing some sort of religious funeral ceremony for their relative. The guy got mad at me and said "Can't you see we're Daoist and our family member died?" So I left, but then a minute later the guy's older brother came and humbly apologized for the way his brother had acted. I was really really touched. I don't know that I would be a big enough person to do the same thing if I got bothered by some annoying missionary.
Or how quick people are to forgive you on the road when you crash into them....
I was also impressed with the example of one of our Taiwanese Sister Missionaries. Our sisters went on exhanges and said she rode her bike super super super fast everywhere she went. Extremely fast. I don't know how they ride a bike in skirts either, and I never asked. Apparently she practiced and trained riding a bike a whole year before her mission, because she didn't want to waste a second of the Lord's time. That made me want to work a lot harder!
Yesterday we had stake conference. It was such a fun experience to look out and see what looked like almost a thousand saints faithfully coming to stake conference. Including new members, investigators, and a lot of part member families. During this stake conference they announced and set apart leaders for the new district in Jiayi. The church is growing, being established in Taiwan! It was so much fun to look out on that audience and know that missionaries have now been working in Taiwan for 50 years only. And now there are so many beautiful chapels. One of the old Stake Presidency Member's wife stood up and bore her testimony and recalled how 16 years ago when this stake first became a district, getting some of the members together to watch conference and they didn't even fill up a meeting room. Every little effort counts to Establish the Church!
The Stake Conference was absolutely wonderful! It was a recorded broadcast for stake conferences all over Asia, and we heard talks from Anne Dibb, Russel T. Osguthorpe, H. David Burton, and Richard G. Scott, and President Perkins. President Perkins talked about the temple, and said the question he gets asked the very most is "when will there be a temple built in our area?" He emphasized the importance of regularly attending the temple, and the sacrifices that go into building a temple.
Elder Scott's talk was probably my favorite, he talked about the importance of women, and respecting women.
I was sitting next to our new member, one of my very favorite people in our ward, named Huang Qia Zhi. He's really old. (63). And he was an electronics teacher at a university, until ten years ago he completely lost his eyesight. He started to study massage, and now runs a place and has studied for ten years and became a really good massage therapist. He always gives me some type of massage when we go over to teach him, and I think it just hurts. But, my body feels a lot more relaxed afterwards. Anyways, He doesn't have a very good relationship with his wife at all, so I was so happy to be able to sit with him there and listen to the counsel of a prophet about how we should treat our wives and women in general. 
Well, my times up.
I love you all! The church is true. Continue to establish the church wherever you go. Remember, The church is established as people with testimonies are baptized, have friends and callings in their ward, and prepare actively to go to the temple!

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 2011

That makes me so happy that Andrew,  Mariah, and Rachel are now members of the church. How exciting! I am so glad for them and the big blessings that they'll now all be ale to receive.
Things are going pretty well. We found out last night that Elder Wheeler is going to move, and train a new missionary next week. So I'll stay here in Zhanghua, and welcome in my new companion.
Things have been going well lately. Yesterday at church we didn't have any investigators, the first time in my whole mission that I've blanked at church. But I was surprised that I didn't feel as bad as I would have earlier. Because that day we had 5 less active brethren come to church with us. The mission is changing. We're focused a lot more on enduring conversion now, and establishing the church. I never heard the word establish the church, and I don't remember once visiting or caring about a less active from my first area. But we baptized more. I realize now I've been so blessed. I love each of my recent converts so much. Some of them are struggling, some are completely less less active, and some are really active. But I lvoe each of them so much and realize what a gift and blessing from the Lord it was to be able to baptize those people.
I'm still looking really hard for baptisms here in zhanghua, but can't seem to find any. The zone is doing really well. The sisters are on fire, as usual. Sister Bray is training the old mission President's daughter, Sister Watterson, who is one of the most prepared, ready to work missionaries I've ever heard of. I was able to do a baptismal interview for one of their investigators who was absolutely golden. The other sisters in the zone, Sister Cooper and Pomeroy (Sister cooper was one below us in the MTC, and now she's going home next week. aaaaah!) whitewashed an area in the zone and they already had a baptism last saturday and there were so many people there attending, it was great. The entire zone seems to be on the uphill, and we're all working hard to accomplish our goals.
I've had a lot of interesting experiences working with the ward in this area. I've never really gotten as close to a ward as this before. First, because we have no investigators, we have time to visit active members, and try and develop a relationship with them, and ask for referrals. I've started to love this special little ward so much.
I don't really know if baptizing a bunch of new people is exactly what the Lord wants or needs from me in this area. I might just be called here to strengthen the ward. I love the Bishop and the Ward Mission leader so much. We played Tennis with them this morning, Me and the Bishop versus Brother Wang and Elder Wheeler. I've found that building relationships with the Bishops is one of the most lasting friendships and memories I ever have from an area. Poor Bishop Chen has already been bishop for 6 years, and there's nobody else really in the ward that could take his place. I was looking through some area books the other day, and found the baptismal records of the people who were baptized in the last couple years.there were over fifty records, but I only knew about 10 of the names, and only half of those were active.
We've been trying hard to help the ward members know how to strengthen other members. A couple important things that we're trying to get started are New Member Lessons, and Home/Visiting Teaching. I feel like if we can just get the ward started on these few things, we'll be able to see miracles as the ward starts it's own support and strengthening system. We go on exchanges once a week with members, visiting less actives and part member families, and we help them feel comfortable sharing the gospel.
Yesterday we had a really fun fireside about home teaching. I was so glad how many ward members showed up.
We had a couple testimonies of Home Teaching/ Rescuing less actives, and then us missionaries did a lot of funny skits about home teaching, we thought of about 5 different situations that people might run into when they do Home Teaching, and then would pause the skit and ask the audience for advice on what the Home Teachers should do.
For example,
1. The person doesn't live there, and they've never heard of that person before.
2. The person's kids didn't have any food and they're house was leaking
3. The person's family was there and was really opposed to them coming to church,
4. The person's family was there and really wanted to come to church.
5. The Elder's quorum president asks us how home teaching went, and we haven't done it.
Anyways, I just hope to be an effective tool in the Lord's hands, and able to use the gifts he's given me to bless the lives of others.
Love, Elder Vernon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Picture Oct 2011

October 10, 2011

Today's just another week in Taiwan, not many changes. I loved conference so much! There were so many talks about missionary work, and about the spirit. I especially love listening to President Monson. But I always look forward to Elder Christofferson and Elder Anderson's talks the most. Theirs always seem to be amongst my favorites. But I think I would have to agree that President Packer's was probably my favorite. On of the seventy's talks on sunday really touched me, with his story about finding a quarter to buy a piece of chicken, and how we should pray. I feel like in my life that's how I've seen the hand and mercy of the Lord the most, is by very little tender mercies, that mean so much to me, but maybe not much to anybody else.
The picture I attached is our ward mission leader and us, at the steakhouse he took us too. It was a little tender mercy. The very night before we had seen that place and wanted to go there, but knew that we probably shouldn't spend that much on one meal, and then the next day he called us and wanted to take us out to eat. He somehow picked the one restaurant we had been wanting to go eat at.
Well, Elder Willi is learning a lot. A lot about patience, love and "waiting on the Lord."  wasn't that just a beautiful talk by Elder Hales. It almost made me cry, because that's what I feel like I need to do just now in my area. I'm so glad that we have such humble, experienced brethren leading the church. But I'm so so grateful that I'm able to be a missionary at this time. I don't think there is anything more exciting or compelling than serving the Lord right now.
Thank you for all of your support! I'm so excited for all the successes that you are having at home. I'll continue to pray for all of you.
Add oil!
Elder Vernon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 3, 2011

Dear family

I can't believe the Provo tabernacle is going to turn into a temple. Right there on the opposite side of BYU. Oh that'll be so nice, the provo temple was always too busy.

Everything is going well here. I tracted into a family that was really accepting of our message. The father seems genuinely interested, and really willing. He has two children 11 and 8 who are real cute and like to get visits from us. the wife hasn't really been willing to meet with us yet though, and we don't think she has a lot of interest. Their last name is Peng, and their about our only real promising investigators at this point, so we  would really appreciate any prayers for the Peng Family to keep accepting to gospel message, be able to keep their commitments and progress towards baptism and eternal life!
In personal study today I read in the Book of 3 Nephi, chapters 22-25. And I was so touched by the words of Isaiah. I felt like I had never read such beautiful scripture that applied so well to me. The Lord comforts zion, and says he is the "maker" and the "husband" and that zion's shame would be forgotten, and that the Lord will remember them, and have mercy on them, and partake of his "Everlasting Kindness."
It was just the scripture I needed because I have really had a desire lately to gain a Stronger testimony of Jesus Christ. I felt so strongly the Savior's love for me. I felt strongly that as long as we are repenting daily, and turning toward him, he would always love and be merciful to me. I know better now how the Book of Mormon can help us understand and get to know Jesus Christ. Yesterday was not a good turnout at church. For a variety of reasons, our recent converts were all unable to come, and then our family that was planning on coming, the wife got sick, and we only had 1 investigator at church. Once again, I'm feeling humbled in zhanghua where all we can do yields little results. But, we just focus on the input, and leave the output to the Lord.
I feel a lot of new strength and help from the other side of the veil today. I don't know how but I woke up today with a lot more vigor and determination to set goals, make plans, keep myself working hard and really do my best on my mission.
I feel so so grateful for the power that comes from the atonement of Jesus Christ. And also the blessings of fast sunday. I fasted Yesterday, for the ward, for me, for some missionaries in the zone, and for some family members.
But as I was praying for strength for myself, I felt a distinct feeling that my Mother and Father and maybe even other family members on the other side of the veil, were praying for me as well, and I felt really touched.
I love the blessings that come from a mission. I've only got 6 months left, so I'm going to have to work my very very hardest, and send a couple more good blessings home as a result of my service.
That's about it I guess.
Last week we had zone conference on Tuesday, and it was on the topic of Covenants. President Bishop talked about covenants and it was really amazing. Sister Bishop talked about Women in the church and the Relief Society, and the assistants helped us remember the Basics of Contacting and talking to Everyone.
i didn't take a lot of good notes though, because I was translating. Elder Siebert, who's Taiwanese but grew up in America, and I were asked to translate. I looked at him for a lot of words, like when we talked about health and flu vaccinations, but overall it was really really fun to listen to English and be able to spit it out it chinese. I hope I didn't make any big embarrassing mistakes. :)
Love, Elder Vernon

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011

Do you want to know a funny story. We have this old old man in our ward, who has a big long white beard, that walks real slow with a little walker. I didn't think he could really talk until last sunday when I sat down next to him for a little while and talked. He told me that he was in his 60's!!!!!  Aaaaaaaaah! i just about died, because who knows what my Parents will be like when I finally get home? I just imagined Daddy with a straggly beard and using a little walker thing. hahaha. And Mom can be one of the old old taiwanese ladies that doesn't speak chinese, and rides around real slow on her scooter picking up garbage.  haha.
I'm just kidding. I'm grateful that I have such healthy parents. It has been a real big eye-opener though, because all the old people here look older than they really are.
Well, things are going okay in Zhanghua. We're all a little frustrated because we can't find any investigators. I guess that's not true, we have some. But we don't have any that really want to get baptized. I just feel really really bad because Elder Geddes and I had some really good investigators that were progressing, but then he left, and I think I just gave them too much pressure, and they didn't feel as much love, and they lost interest.
This week we were contacting on the street, and then this funny looking guy with big teeth on an old rusty bike with a huge old water jug on the back was riding past. Right as he was passing us his bungee cord snapped and his big ol water jug flew off his bike. hahaha. we ran and helped him put it back on, and then he welcomed us over to his house to meet with him. He seemed to be interested in the message. We took him over to help paint a recent converts house, and I think he enjoyed that. But then on sunday we asked if he could come to church, and he said he was too busy, he had to go read the newspapers. Bah.
There's also a chubby little kid that hangs out at the Elementary school. Sometimes we go find him and sit down and teach him about the Book of Mormon. But the church is too far for him to go to on sunday. his mom won't let him.
I'm starting to love the ward here more and more. There's lots of weirdies in it. i remember the first time I came I just looked around and thought some bad thoughts about what investigators would think when they came to church the first time. But, as I get to know these special members and visit them, I start to love them so much. they really are special, and amazing that without any support from their families, they come to church every single week by themselves. So we've been having a lot of fun lately visiting members and strengthening them.
That's about it for now.
Elder Vernon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011

William Preston Vernon

I don't have much to report this week. sorry.
But I can tell a couple stories if you want me too.
we went to visit a part member family that has three cute little kids, they were really rowdy and I just loved it. Their dad was there but he had no interest in the gospel. I relate to people like that so much moer now that I have Rod got baptized. I have a lot more faith for all of those husbands that aren't baptized yet. I didn't know how to control the kids, so we just started singing a song. We sang I am a child of God, the kids just sat and listened. Then when we were done, they asked us to sing it again, and again. It was a really fun experience.
The other day we contacted a guy on the street, that turned out that was our member. He said he got baptized about four years ago. The other thing was that he was really crazy. I think. He talked about a lot of conspiracies and stuff that I don't think was true. And we just listened. He wasn't willing to come back to church, but he was really grateful that we listened to him. I got the feeling that nobody had actually listened to him in a long long time.
I went on exchanges with one of our district leaders, and we visited an old man that had the melchizedek priesthood, and was really active. He never quite could bring himself to pay a full tithing though. He ran into a lot of hard times, and then he prayed and prayed for god to help him come out of his financial circumstances, and there was no answer, so he stopped believing in God, and now he claims that he is atheist. We bore a lot of strong pure testimony but we couldn't change him at all. It was sad.
So keep the commandments!
i love you all!
Elder Vernon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sept. 11, 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival
William Preston Vernon 

Today's mid-autumn festival. Families in Taiwan are returning to their parents homes, eating moon cakes, and barbequeing together!  Preparation days come and go really fast. Last week I bought some new belts, ties and three new shirts that are really white and shiny. All of my shirts were yellowish gray.
Today we are going to the ward barbeque out in our secondary area of Hua tan.
I have a question for Prenten, I found a former investigator family that said they used to meet once a week and read the book of mormon with an Elder Fei. Did Prenten ever serve in Zhanghua? The guy's name is Liang Zheng Dong.
I'm still concerned, our zone is struggling right now, and I'm struggling right now. But, the Lord continues to bless us. I just wish he'd bless us with some more baptisms!
We met a couple new investigators though. One is a really cool college student named Vincent Chen. I contacted him while I had my violin on my back, turns out he plays the violin as well, and he seems genuinely interested in the gospel.
The other new investigator is a mr. Wang who I contacted on exchanges the other day. He's got some problems. He's not one of those people that are really quick, and understand everything you say to them. He's a little bit weird.
But for some reason I love investigators like that. Sometimes you just run into some really funny, really weird, really sad, or really crazy (like truly crazy) people on your mission. I think Taiwan has a lot of these people. I guess I never talked to every person on the streets in america either, I guess there's weirdies everywhere.
Anyways, He said he was a former and went to church before, so we invited him to be baptized as soon as possible. And told him to come to church on sunday. Both his numbers were wrong so we figured he wouldn't. vincent couldn't come this week he said, and nobody else was coming. We thought we were going to have no investigators in church. I prayed really hard, then we got a blessing. Brother Wang walked in during the last of sacrament meeting with his tea, cigarettes and betelnut breath. haha. He's great.
turns out he showed up first at a chapel in a different city somehow, and when the elders asked who he was, he said he was coming to get baptized that day.
One fun thing we do is go on exchanges with our ward members once a week. This week I went with a ward member that can't really speak, he has a handicap. It was interesting how in a lesson a person that couldn't even talk clearly brought the spirit.
I don't really have much else to say.
I'll be home in 7 months from today. seven months isn't very long. It'll go quick! I'm excited though, to try hard to baptize some more people, strengthen the wards where I serve before I go home.
I guess I can decide if I want to come home after 15 transfers or 16. 15 would land me at the end of february, 16 would be about april 10 or so. Unless there's any special reason for schooling or anything, I think I would definitely like to stay 16. I have to tell president bishop before christmas.
Anyways, that's about it for today. Bubye!
I love all y'alls.
Have a happy time with all the little children and things you have to do back home!
Elder Vernon

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 5, 2011

Mom, I love you so much. That is such a fun story about you pushing subart half a mile in the middle of nowhere. Hahaha. I think I have the coolest mom in the whole world. I am also grateful that everything worked out and that good people are looking out for and taking care of you.
I'm so glad that Rod is able to get the priesthood, and soon Andrew as well. That's an amazing thing for the ward there in Washington. What a great new family for them to take care of and learn from. I truly love Sarah and Rod, I wish I could be there. I can't wait to see pictures of the baptism, and especially of the kids' baptism too. This decision of Rod's will literally affect generations upon generations of faithful people. What a turning point! I pray for him and for each of you every day recently. sometimes I forget to.
Well, nothing much is happening here on the mission. Our zone's numbers are looking pretty low. We have a goal of baptizing 10 this month. I think we can definitely do it, but we'll have to think up some good ways to help the missionaries in the zone feel fired up and ready to baptize.
I feel like being a zone leader has really humbled me. Right now our investigators aren't many. We're still waiting and praying for Zheng xiang cheng to get baptized. But I think he had such a good relationship with Elder Geddes, that when Elder Geddes left some of Zheng xiang cheng's desire to be baptized disappeared. That's too bad. That's okay, we'll still dunk 'im ba.
I can't think of much else to say, except for I'm excited to work hard the fourth quarter of my mission. The mission is going through a lot of changes right now. President Bishop changed it now to counting new investigators the same way as every other mission, and also changed the way our entire mission contacted. We're used to contacting separately, but now we are encouraged to proselyte together with our companions.
Keep up the good work! I'm so excited for Rod and Sarah and Family. And for everybody else.
Elder Vernon

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

I don't really know what to say today.
Not much is happening right now on my mission except that I'm going through a lot of changes.
Elder Wheeler is really amazing. He's from Idaho Falls, he's 22 years old, and a convert to the church! He joined the church when he was 18, and turned his life around. None of his family has been baptized yet, but I bet they will as soon as he gets home. He's a really diligent, amazing missionary, or else he probably wouldn't be a zone leader, and he's teaching me a lot. Because our backgrounds are pretty much polar opposites, and our personalities are really different as well, there's a lot of things I can learn. The way he does missionary work is really down to earth, and cares about each person, because he knows how they feel as a convert, and knows how to treat part member families. These are things I just don't have. He's also a little bit like Scott, pretty outspoken, and not one to hold things in if there's something wrong. I think if I had this companionship earlier in my mission there might have been a lot of problems, but now that I'm more humble than I've ever been before, and he is really humble as well, we just learn from each other's differences and strengths. It's really great.
I learned that Elder Wheeler originally wasn't even planning on going on a mission, He was already 21, owned his own company, had a huge nice truck, and a fiancee, and then felt like he needed to serve a mission. I'm so glad he did, He's blessing the lives of many many children of Heavenly Father over here in Taiwan.
Things are going well. I'm excited for the last stretch of my mission, I can push hard, and try to hit all my goals before I have to come home.
Good luck,  Elder Vernon

Monday, August 22, 2011

pictures 8 22 11

Elder Wheeler and I
1. Elder Geddes at the train station this morning. Three weeks wasn't long, but I learned so much from him. It was a really good time.

2. This morning saying goodbye to Zheng Xiang Cheng, and his Mom. That's a great family. I'll see what I can do to baptize the mom.
Elder Geddes moved! in the middle of the move call, he moved down to Jia Yi to be zone leader down there and spread his goodness. My new companion is now Elder Wheeler. He was also in the same group of missionaries that came to taiwan the same time as us! Cool huh? He's great, humble, really strong, and a convert to the church!!! Amazing. I have so much to learn from him. He got baptized not long ago and it's a really fun thing to serve with him and learn things more from his point of view.  I'll tell you more about him next week.

August 22, 2011

Rod's getting baptized!!!!!  (Rod is Elder Vernon's brother-in-law, He and Sarah have 7 children)
That's so exciting. I'm so happy. I'm really really really happy. I'm so excited that you all have a baptism this week. I need to see pictures!!! I want to see a picture of Rod in white with all those little kids surrounding him. I'm really so happy, I don't even know what to say. That's amazing. And so fast! I thought if he set a goal he would set one a long ways down the road. The last time I talked to Rod is when we went to renew Sarah's reccomend. I said, "Rod, when are you getting baptized?" He said when he was 63 or some other number like that. crazy. Either I've been gone for longer than two years or else this is a miracle.
Congratulations to Rod.
Remember though that there's always big opposition before something great like this can happen. So don't be surprised if like the dryer breaks, and everything seems like it's giong wrong. It's not that baptism isn't right, it's that Satan doesn't want you to get baptized. Or even better I think I'll just e-mail them and tell them congratuations by myself. That would be good. I'm so excited.
This builds my faith a lot. I feel like going out and challenging everybody I see to get baptized. A baptism in the family is something really really exciting. That's a lot of baptisms for Mom in the last month. Enoch, and Rod, and then Mariah and Andrew and everybody else that's over the age of eight. That completes it! Then we just set goals and make plans to go to the temple. I love Elizabeth's little song "We're going to the temple, all dressed in white" forgot the words.
I listened to the little CD, it was so good! I loved it. Enoch sounded just as good as the other little kids, if not better. he's so great. I thought it was so cute, especially the General Conference song.
Our baptism fell through. The day before the mom called us, and said, "Sorry, I talked to his Father, and we think it would be better if he waits until he's older to get baptized, so, cancel the baptism." we started a fast immediately, we prayed, and we planned really hard. And miracles started to happen. I've never had one single day where things were guided by the spirit as much as that friday. I truly felt like we could help the mother agree to let him be baptized the next day. So we proceeded with faith. We had our other new member's mother (who is a devout buddhist, but really cool and willing to help) call this kid's mother and bear testimony of how after his baptism he had changed a lot and became a better student. The spirit gave us a lot of direction. Halfway through the phone call with Zheng xiang cheng's mom, the spirit allowed me to discern that the father wasn't involved at all, that the mother was the only one with any concern, that she had just thrown that in there as an excuse to cancel the baptism because she was bu hao yi si. We called the mom, and set up a time to meet late that night when she got home from work. We called the mission president and got permission to meet this family after 9:30 and prayed some more. Zheng Xiang Cheng is really golden. We love him so so much. Elder Geddes put his whole heart and soul into the work here, and he truly loved that kid and his mom. We met with the mom, and the kid and the mom just had some concerns. She was concerned that he wasn't doing his homework, and what he needed to do, And I think whe was concerned about ancestor worship too. That might have been the real iceberg. But I think we resolved that one as well. But, actually the schooling is a real concern for these people as well. You have no idea how big of a deal school and tests are here. It blows my mind. To these mothers, the biggest indicator of whether or not they are successful parents are whether or not their children behave in cram school and get good grades on tests. do you even know what cram school is? It's  a disgustingly sneaky tool of the adversary that has absolutely destroyed millions of asian families. They send their children to school and that's all they do. When they get home from school they go directly to buxiban (cram school) and stay until 8 or 9 or 10 at night. So it turns out that some children are literally, no joke, out of the home 7 days a week in summer or winter, year round from 7 in the morning to 10 at night in class.
anyways, She just wasn't willing to allow him to be baptized the next day. But it was a wonderful lesson. We had our young men's president there, and the mom and her kid. We talked, and Elder Geddes bore a really powerful testimony about his mother, how she raised her kids in the gospel by herself, and without the church she would never have been able to do it. The mom felt the spirit, I know she did, because she started crying, and telling us about how she was trying so hard to raise her kids well. The poor thing, she's not any older than my sisters are. We didn't try to force anything or give her pressure, which was good because she wouldn't have responded well to that, her feelings were kind of in a mess at that point and she looked really stressed. But the spirit helped that lesson a lot, and instead of losing an investigator, I feel like we kept the kid as a progressing investigator, and added the mom. Even though we didn't give her a baptismal date or anything, she really likes the missionaries now, and I think she'll be willing to let her kid get baptized really soon. I just hope that she can get baptized really soon too. It could help her so much.
I'm excited to continue following the spirit to help this family accept the gospel.
I love you all. I'm excited to keep doing missionary work in Zhanghua! Bubye!!
Elder Vernon

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011

We are seeing miracles in Zhanghua.
I was really excited to present a Combined district training meeting with Elder Geddes. I felt like that went really well and was very inspired. Our focus on planning and reviewing plans before each lesson should hopefully increase our number of progressing investigators.
We had a wonderful miracle a couple nights ago.
Last week Elder Geddes and I fasted for a young man named Zheng Xiang Cheng. Xiang Cheng is a wonderful teacher age young man that was introduced to the church by his friend who was just baptized a couple weeks ago. He loves coming to church, prays every day, and has already read through the bible dictionary section of the Book of Mormon. His mom just hadn't agreed to let him get baptized yet. So we fasted, and prayed. That's not a big deal for me, because I need to cut a little fat anyways, I like fasting. But Elder Geddes with his diabetes had probably had a little harder time fasting. I think he still ate a little bit, but just the bare minimum to keep his blood sugar OK.
Anyways, after the fast nothing happened. We tried to find the kid's mom, but we couldn't, and she was always busy, and it seemed like nothing was going to progress for a couple days. Then on friday night as we were riding home, we stopped at a stoplight and the kid, and his mom just happened to ride up next to us on their scooter at the same stoplight. What a coincidence! and then to make things even more weird, one of our church members walks across the street and runs into us at exactly the same time. Weird! It was almost like it was planned. But it wasn't us doing the planning. We talked to the mom about how great her child was and bore testimony that he was ready to get baptized, and the member said how joining the church was a good decision, and the mom was touched. We asked her for permission for her son to be baptized and she said yes! And then I pulled a baptismal record out and had her sign it right then and there. So we should be baptizing this kid next saturday morning, we set up a time where the mom could attend and bring the rest of his family. I'm really excited!!!
This xiang cheng kid is really really sincere, and great. He'll be such an amazing missionary, and he really establishes the young men's program here in Zhanghua.
Yesterday was a really fun day. we had some good investigators at church, and then the highlight was when we went on exchanges with our ward members. I was able to go with the Young Men's President of the ward, and we went to bless the sacrament for some ward members. It was one of the sweetest experiences I've had on my mission, because I usually wouldn't be able to bless the sacrament. It's the first time I've done it in Chinese. One member had some mental problems, so we had to ride all the way up a big big hill (the member was on his scooter while I rode my bike) to this quiet little community/ hospital place where there were a lot of people with mental illnesses. They all seemed completely normal though, I guess it was a good day, and they all vary in level of disability. When I got up there, I had a feeling to contact the man smoking over by a table, and as I went over, to my surprise, the book he was reading was a book of Mormon. The member had been sharing the gospel with her friends. The member came and we had a sweet little sacrament meeting on the top of the mountain at the mental illness place. We sang songs, and as I was playing my violin, about four more people that wanted to attend came out and sat with us. We blessed the sacrament, and it felt almost a little bit more like the first time the sacrament was introduced, around the table with our friends. Anyways, I was glad I brought my violin. We visited a couple other less active or part member families and strengthened them, and I felt so much closer and a part of the ward by doing that activity. Thanks to Elder Geddes for that great idea of missionaries going on exchanges with members once a week.
I'm more and more impressed with my companion Elder Geddes. He's increased my vision so much. There's a lot of things that set Elder Geddes apart from the average missionary, like his testimony, his obedience and desire to work hard etc. but the biggest thing that I've noticed is his vision. His vision is so much bigger than an average missionary.
I love my family whole bunches!!!!!!! Bubye!!!!!!!
Elder Vernon

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011

1. My new companion Elder Geddes. I learn so much from him every day. He's really a leader, and I'm really content just following him around and learning for now because he does a great job and is really diligent. The only companion I've had like him was Elder Farr. I've been really really blessed on my mission to have great companions. It's great to be with Elder Geddes, we get along really well, and I think we'll be seeing a lot of miracle in the zhanghua zone.
2. This is my recent convert Chen Hao Feng from back in my days in fengyuan. It was a tender mercy to be able to run into him on the day I moved up to zhanghua. He had come to the mission office to say goodbye to Elder Kossman, who I was with at the time, and we were able to all see each other again. Some of my converts from fengyuan aren't active, but this kid is really solid, and says he wants to serve a mission really bad. He may be going on a short term mission soon! My other solid convert from fengyuan, Wang yu li, actually is going on a mission soon! Last I heard he just pulled out his wisdom teeth, and is getting his papers in.
3. I miss my trainee Elder Harper, we got really close in Lingya. We were both really surprised when they closed that area. the bishop called president Bishop and told him that he wanted us to stay, and that we had done an excellent job in the ward. But I moved.
4. Elder Kossman went home. Elder Adams went home a couple transfers ago. I am almost beginning to feel like an old missionary. It's weird.
Being a zone leader is really really fun.
Zhanghua has been struggling with baptizing for a long time. We go by months now, and our goal for this month is TEN BAPTISMS!!! It's a really realistic, hittable goal that all the missionaries have faith in. Right now the place that's on fire is the place I just came from. The two zones in gaoxiong are baptizing about 16 or 17 per month, but hopefully we'll see this area get motivated.
It's really fun to be able to be in charge of a zone, put my own inspirations and ideas into practice. i'll let you know how things go. Right now I'm focusing on helping missionaries in the zone on two fundamentals from preach my gospel. First, teach people not lessons, and second, we invite, they commit, we follow up, specifically dealing with inviting people to be baptized, and confirming as many people for church as we possibly can.
If you have any ideas let me know!

Elder Vernon

Monday, August 1, 2011

Picture of Elder Geddes & Elder Vernon

Here is a picture of Elder Vernon and Elder Geddes in the MTC together in June of 2010.  They are the two on the far right.

Aug 1, 2011

I moved! I have now moved from my third area into my fourth. I was trained in Fengyuan, moved to Gaoxiong, moved to another part of Gaoxiong for another three transfers, and now I moved up to right under Taizhong, a nice little place named Zhang1hua4.
I'm really excited for a couple reasons.
the first,
President Bishop called and asked me to be a Zone Leader in Zhanghua,
and guess who my companion is? It is Elder Geddes from my same MTC group. He's the most amazing missionary ever!!!!!!!!!!!!11
love you!
sorry this email is so short.
It's because I had to take the train, and move and stuff, and now we didn't have much time to e-mail.
I love my new companion, his family lives in Washington,
I love you!!!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 24 pictures

1. Today we went to a really yummy buffet, and they had watermelon! And they also had marshmallows and sausages that we could roast, it was the closest thing to a cook out that I've done in Taiwan!
2. This is Brother Wang2, our handicapped investigator from across the street. He has about every health problem you can think of, and he still smokes over a pack a day. We always run into him at random places throughout the city. On Saturday, I noticed him wearing this hat, and asked if I could borrow it for the night. He was happy to loan it to me, so that was a little tender mercy, I got to wear a big hat to our pioneer activity!
3. Last week after e-mailing we went to visit Zeng Wei Zhe, my recent convert. He was so happy that I came and visited him that he kissed me on the cheek. Turns out that his mom just took off, and nobody knows if she'll come back or not. So his dad's in prison, his mom ran away, and he just lives with his aunt. He reads his scriptures every day, and reminds me a lot of Enoch, he's really really smart. He says he's read through the whole book of Mormon, but I don't know if I believe it. Some kids that age can't even read Chinese. But I was glad I got a chance to visit him. His aunt has now been to church, and his little cousin in the picture goes eery week and is preparing to get baptized.
4. Here's a picture of him with his standard works.
5. Me on the random toilet in the middle of Gaoxiong.

6 7 and 8, playing basketball this morning with Li3 Li4 wei3 and Elder Harper. The Li kid was way better than us. He loves playing basketball. After about six months in Taiwan I finally figured out that about half of the boys in Taiwan choose an English name based on a NBA player. hahaha.