Monday, January 31, 2011

Picture for mom's birthday

Jan 30, 2011

recently I have been reading from Parley P. Pratt's autobiography. I especially liked a part when he said he went on a mission to New York. He worked as hard as he could for 6 whole months in New York City, preaching, printing, proselyting, and absolutely nobody listened. I had always thought he just immediately had success.
They gave up on New York, and were having a last prayer meeting before they would head to New Orleans, and as they all started to pray, the spirit was manifest, and they began to prophesy about the work that would happen in New York. So they stayed, and then started healing people, preaching, and baptizing on almost a daily basis.
Well, that's just how missionary work is sometimes. We work as hard as we can, and then success only comes when the Lord decides to help us.
Recently it feels like we just have a bunch of old investigators that aren't progressing that we need to cross off, and go find a bunch of new ones. Or else pray really hard and have a bunch of miracles or something.
Our one investigator that is progressing real good is Gao Dixiong. We've been talking to him about his problems more closely, and we've determined that he has a psychological problem of serious paranoia. He comes up with a complex web of dilusions, that are completely crazy, but he believes and is really worried about. It's really sad actually. Because except for these dilusions, he's a wonderful man, and really prepared to join the church. We met with him, and he said he'd been reading the Book of Mormon, and felt like he needed to be baptized. We're hesitant though, because the bishop is really worried about baptizing him. If he joins the church, and then church members and priesthood leaders become part of some of his dilusions, then problems could happen. So we're working closely with ward and mission leaders with him. I sure do hope he'll be able to be baptized. I'll let you know what happens next week, because he has his first baptismal interview tuesday, and then he'll have a second sometime later in the week. So maybe pray for Brother Gao Xu Dong.
Right now is the most annoying time of year that I could have ever imagined. It's Chinese new year. And I feel like I could strangle the next person that tells me about chinese new year.
Chinese new year is a great holiday. I'm super excited, It should have lots of good food and opportunities.
But for about the last three weeks, people have started to refuse to set up times to meet with the missionaries. And I can tell them exactly what they are going to say word for word before they even say it. It translates into. "Impossible, I have no time. Don't you know Chinese New Year is coming? You know Chinese New Year right? So for this little while I will be really busy."
I guess I shouldn't be negative, it's part of their culture to be really busy around guo nian. But it's no good for a missionary trying to baptize people.
I've had a little bit of a cold lately. So I went to the pharmacy. Originally the cold was just an excuse, because the pharmacy is run by the non-member husband of the young womens' president in our ward. We went in and talked to him, and then when I told him I had a cold, he insisted on giving me a bunch of medicine for free. He filled up two big bottles of thick brown cough syrup that looks like it could poison a cow, and then some tablets of medicine. I asked if the medicine would make me drowsy, and he said that it wouldn't, but would make me really "excited!" hahaha. You never know what you're going to get in taiwan. The cough syrup and medicine work pretty well though.
I got a flu shot a couple weeks before, we walked to a random clinic off the street, and asked them if they could give us a flu shot. One nurse said no, one said yes. the one that said yes took us back to a room and gave us a shot, and then we paid 3 dollars. In and out in less than 10 minutes for 3 dollars. No paperwork or signatures or waiting. It might be a little bit sketchy but so far I think the taiwanese health care system is pretty convenient. Hopefully she gave us the right shot...
Last night we had a good fireside at the church. I played a violin number. The sister in my district just happens to play the piano really good. Yay.
That's about all for the week.
I think I'm going to go home and just read Parley P. Pratt for a while.

Monday, January 24, 2011

24 Jan 2011

One of our investigators right now who is progressing nicely is Gao Dixiong. He just showed up at church one day, and said he was a former investigator from a year ago. He's a great guy. But he's a little bit weird. I think he has psychological problems, or maybe just paranoia. He tells us he can predict earthquakes, and that random women with children follow him on their scooters. And he also is really nervous because on the street he sees children, and he doesn't know if those children are his or not!
Anyways, we went and visited the bishop (I love my bishop here, he's the greatest ever) and explained to him that we had a weird investigator coming to church tomorrow. (I finally completed that part of step 4 in the planning session "plan to inform the bishop" !!!! yay ). Anyways, the bishop interviewed with Brother Gao, and confirmed to us that he was probably crazy. But we'll continue working with the ward, and with brother Gao and see what happens. He's a great guy and I do hope that he'll be able to get baptized and be a productive active member of the ward.
Our other crazy investigator is named Xie Chong De.
We have a super active 90 year old bei bei in our ward named Xie bei bei. We go and pull weeds in his garden every wednesday, afterwards eat lunch with him. Then one day when I was with Elder Chen I said, "I love serving this old man, but it doesn't add to our key indicators. (at that time our district leader said sit downs with active members don't count) So the next wednesday we went and woke up xie bei bei's son, who is a bit crazy, and only smokes, sleeps, and meditates, and reads buddhist books all day. At first he didn't want to hear anything we had to say, and just argued with us about buddhism. But he's gotten better every week since. Until we realized, hey, it doesn't have to be a wednesday to come teach this guy. we've come and visited more and more often. He's started reading and praying, and now we're working on getting him to the church. I can already see a big difference in the guy. His countenance just looks a lot more pleasant than before. Xie bei bei's wife, who is a devout buddhist, is much more friendly to missionaries now, and loves to give us little gifts of oranges or pineapple cakes. We don't have anything against that. Xie bei bei is usually a pretty good pei ke. Hahahaha, last time he got mad at his son and said, "If you would have just read the Book of Mormon, you wouldn't be sick in the first place! but you had to go and study buddhism, and then your brain exploded!"
well, sorry to write such a long letter.
Things are great! Elder Mitchell is wonderful. My favorite thing about him is that he'll sing hymns randomly. We've started the habit that when we go visit less actives or knock doors, if at first they don't come to the door when we knock, we just sing a hymn really really loud until they come out. It works sometimes. People are less likely to get angry at you singing obnoxiously loud, than pounding on their door obnoxiously loud.
Elder Vernon

Monday, January 17, 2011

17 Jan 2011

Hi! I finally gave in and admitted it was cold enough to wear long sleeves. I think it's fun to wear short sleeves around when all the Taiwanese are freezing. But I started wearing my sweater. Then President Bishop said we had to wear suit coats if we were cold. So I started wearing my suit coat around.I was real happy to see the Shi Brothers bless and pass the sacrament on Sunday. That's the best feeling ever is when you see your new member up at the sacrament table. Pan dixiong is also extremely solid. He gave a talk in Sacrament meeting sunday, and said he hoped everybody would endure to the end with him! He is one of the most active members of the ward. I wish I were baptizing more, but right now I have somehow changed focus from baptizing a ton of people, to baptizing people that will be solid and have relationsips with the ward. Last night we visited what I thought was a really golden family. We wanted this family to progress so we set up the former bishop and his wife the relief society president to come with us to their home. It was the most amazing lesson. Those members were so awesome! The investigator Dad, Brother Wang, talked for half an hour about how he knew the Book of Mormon was true, and how he knew that the gospel could bless his family. I thought that was pretty good. Then on the way home, the members said "They have no interest. Don't waste your time teaching them." Both brother and sister Cai said that. They explained to me that because I was American, the family wanted to be really polite, so was saying what I wanted to hear, and being really nice welcoming us into their home. But that their buddhist belief was really deep and they didn't have any intention of changing. I was surprised, but I guess I had to agree once I thought about it more. When am I going to be able to discern things like this. Oh well. Things are going good here! Except for nobody is getting baptized. We had one investigator who seemed to be progressing real well. But then his family fandui'd and he didn't have a very strong testimony, so he just gave up on baptism. At first I thought that was really really sad, then I realized that it was a lot better for that to happen now, than in a couple weeks after he was baptized. So then I felt good that I still had a chance to help him prepare better. He was one of our two week C's. Then we met with our other week C and he was a little bit crazy. He said he really believed in Heavenly Father. We asked him why, and he said because he could predict earthquakes. yeah, I don't know how those are connected either. So, me and Elder Mitchell were sad that all of our investigators had so many problems, so we did a fasting prayer. Then we went to church, and the Lord blessed us so much! We had two really solid chen dixiongs come to church. one was a guy that is possibly homeless, but he really wants the blessings of the gospel. It is so refreshing to teach someone that is humble and actually has a desire. The other guy we had contacted like a week ago. We were in a hurry to go to a place, but we still contacted him on the way. At first he was unreceptive, and we thought it was a pretty lame add. But then he came to all three hours of church and liked it! And then a less active sister showed up to church and brought her non member husband, and he was really nice, and we added him. and then a former investigator that had been to church over ten times and then disappeared randomly showed up as well. Blessings of a fast are immediate! wow. oh, the other good news. Our church meetings are way less boring now! Our ward is getting better and better! When I first came here, I had a really had a hard time committing investigators to come to church at 8:30 in the morning to sit through a really boring lesson. But the ward has improved, and we've been able to get more and more investigators.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jan 9 pictures

1. Today for preparation day we went to the lake. It's really fun because Elder Mitchell used to run track and cross country, so we can both run. So we ran a couple miles this morning and then studied Book of Mormon in some cool places and took some pictures.
2. Elder Mitchell and I at the Gaoxiong train station when he first came in.
3. Elizabeth sent me a birthday cake! It was such a good birthday. I made a cake, we lit it on fire and sang happy birthday. To treat myself that night we bought dominos pizza, and McDonalds ice cream sundaes! Then the best part, was that just right on my birthday, a pianist from Utah Valley University, I forgot her name, I think her last name was Demske, she came and gave a piano recital in the chapel. a lot of members, and investigators came. And it was really fun. At the end, they asked for an encore, and my companion had secretly told the pianist that it was my birthday, and she played happy birthday, and made me stand in front of everyone when they sang. It was really funny.
4. some pictures at chengqinghu this morning.

9 Jan 2011

Things are going so good! I've had more fun this week than I've ever had ever, and we've been blessed so much that we don't have room enough to receive it. (This week were the highest weekly numbers I've ever had, with a total of 45 sit down lessons, 11 of them with members present. We also added 42 investigators and contacted a bunch of Less Actives). Me and Elder Mitchell seem to get along extremely well. Somehow it seems that all of our experiences with previous companions have prepared us both for this time together, and we just work real good as a team. He's so diligent. I guess he did work on his ranch out there in Vernon, Utah. Haha. The good old stories he tells me of the ranch out in Vernon, utah. (My favorite is he told me he has a big neighbor who is really nice named Chuck. Chuck has a dog, and the dog's name is dammit. "C'mere _____!" ).
we've been trying our best, doing all we can to help people come unto christ, and the Lord just sends us a bunch of investigators that I love a whole bunch. They all have problems they need to overcome, the biggest is work on sunday. Some of my favorite investigators are busy with work on sunday. I'm just a kid, I feel a little bad to pressure them to change work or something like that. But luckily I have the experience with our new convert Pan dixiong, who because of his faith, was able to have a miracle happen, and keep the sabbath day holy and get baptized.
OH, speaking of miracles, I had a really funny experience yesterday. Me and Elder Mitchell were contacting down the road, and I spied a guy in a car on the side of the road, so I rode up to contact him. I noticed that he was a little bit frustrated, because his car wouldn't start. I stood outside his window and watched him try to start it about three times, then give up. So I knocked on the window and he rolled it down. I said
"You know, whenever I run into this kind of problem I just say a prayer."
The man had met missionaries before, and knew what our church was. Exasperated, he decided to give it a try. I taught him how to pray, and then invited him to offer a prayer. He said a great prayer asking heavenly father to help his car start. I was praying my guts out as well, because that would be really lame if it didn't work. I have perfect faith that prayers like that do work though, I've done it before.
After the prayer, he turned the key and the car started right up, the look on that guy's face was priceless. He was so excited, and he yelled out in English "It works!" So then I got his information. He was a referral. I wish I could say i added him, because that would make the story cooler. oh well. It was a great experience and a testimony builder for myself that the power of prayer is real, and that God hears and answers prayers.
One of my favorite investigators is a really old man that won't give us his address or phone number, and refuses to set up any time to meet, but lives nearby the church somewhere. Every night at exactly 7:10 he walks past the church on his nightly stroll with his walking sticks. Old mr. Lin had seemed really hard hearted before. I must have contacted him a dozen times. Then one time, I persuaded him to take a book of Mormon and read it. He has read the bible before. He's also been all over the world, visited Italy, and Israel and speaks a bit of English. The next day we persuaded him to come into the church and look around. The next day we persuaded him to come into the church and sit down and say a prayer with us. He has a lot of weird ideas that we might need to help him understand correct doctrine, but I think he'll make a solid member someday. :) As of now he's read to the book of Alma and marked at least one thing on every page. He's helped me understand just how "Bu hao yi si" some people can really be. He refuses to set up a time to meet, so at first it seems like he has no interest at all and it's really frustrating. But after getting to know him a little more, I realize that it's because he didn't want to bother us. But he blatantly hints that he'll be walking by the chapel at about 7:10 on his walk. He says he doesn't like to do prayers because he doesn't want to bother Heavenly Father. The other night. I was contacting a person, When suddenly a picture came into my head, really clearly, of Old Mr. Lin walking home on the road from the church with his walking sticks, and he was really sad that we hadn't been there waiting for him. I told my companion, and we rode our bikes really fast over to the church, and there he was, walking in about the same spot I had pictured. Oh he was glad to see us, but he wouldn't let it show, he had to pretend like he was just going for his walk. So funny. I realized how much more effectively we can help people come to the gospel if we just get to know them a little bit. Especially if we just know the culture and respect it. Sometimes maybe even have to do things their way. But if we love the people and know a bit about them, we can find some point in their life where the message of the restored gospel will touch their hearts, and if the spirit touches their hearts, it's all downhill from there.
Well, sorry to write such a long letter. I love doing missionary work. I hope I'm able to do a good job. I feel like Heavenly Father, Jesus, the Holy Ghost and all the angels around us do 99 percent of the work. And then just let us go do that last one percent. Like putting a strawberry on top of a big cake that's already made. Okay, that's a really lame example. Like,,,putting a star on a christmas tree? oh well, you get what I'm saying. Have a good week.
Elder Vernon

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jan 3 Pictures

1. Elder Mitchell and I
2. Elder Chen, Shi Bo Yu, Shi Hao Quan, and I
3. A real tiny violin and I

3 January 2011

Well, here I am writing e-mails with my Junior companion Elder Mitchell. yup, Elder Chen packed up all his dongxi and moved up to Taizhong. I stayed down here and welcomed in Elder Mitchell. And I also became a senior companion. It's pretty crazy, because now I have a lot more responsibility to take care of investigators and make plans, and know where to go and stuff. I hope I have lots of help from the spirit because I'll need it.
Elder Samuel Mitchell is my new companion. Guess where he's from? I don't know if President Bishop just did this to be funny or not, but Elder Mitchell is from Vernon, Utah. no, not Vernal, Vernon. I guess it's a real real tiny town out by Tooele. He said there were probably 250 people that lived in or near Vernon. Interesting huh? I'll let you know more about Elder Mitchell once i get to know him a little bit better.
Anyways, the Shi brothers were baptized on Saturday!!!! Whooooooo!!!!!
It wasn't easy but we finally got those two kids baptized. It was really good on christmas day to get their mom's permission. They didn't tell their dad that they were going to get baptized. I warned Bo Yu, (the older one) that the week before his baptism Satan would try really really hard to stop it, or to make things go wrong. Unfortunately, I was right. The very next day, his dad just randomly stayed home from work, and was in a terrible mood. He would yell at them, and not let them go out of the house or anything. And said he wasn't going to go back out to work for a while. We were real worried, because if the day of the baptism rolls around and they can't go outside, that would be no good, because everything was all set up. So we fasted and prayed a whole day with them again, and then their dad went back to work, and they were able to come to the baptismal service, and get confirmed the next day. It was so so happy! they are two wonderful kids, and they have really strong testimonies. I hope that they can stay active in the church, so we're trying to find them some friends at church.
Other than that, we don't have a whole bunch of progressing investigators right now. But I was really happy to see them get baptized. The ward here is really good, so I don't think they'll have any problems getting assimilated.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I don't know if I'll even tell my companion, because if I tell him, he might just worry about trying to do something nice for me. If I need anything, I'll just buy it for myself. I'm really glad you all support me on my mission. I've run into some missionaries who have families who really really oppose them coming on a mission. I don't know if I would be able to do what they do. If my family didn't support me doing this mission, I don't know if I could do it. It's so nice to get letters and prayers from all of you.
I love you all, God Bless you. Go do missionary work.
Elder Vernon