Monday, February 28, 2011

pictures Zoo

p.s. Today I went to the zoo!
and then I went to costco and ate a costco pizza. YUM!
At the zoo my favorite part was the monkeys. Not the monkeys that were in the cages, but the monkeys that snuck into the zoo from the nearby monkey mountain to steal ice cream cones from people and eat stuff from the garbage. The best thing was, I was getting closer and closer to the monkeys, and then a zoo-worker guy ran over with a paintball gun and shot at the monkeys until they screeched and ran away. I was really surprised, until I realized they weren't zoo monkeys, they were just indigenous (how do you spell that) monkeys.

So, I can't believe my year mark is on the calendar this month. That's weird. Remember when I got dropped off at the MTC? I was real nervous and didn't know what to say up at grandma's so then I just played violin for a while before we left because I thought I wouldn't get to play it again. Grandpa was still around at that time. Did I ever tell you about the time I was just at my apartment at BYU and I just got sick of studying so I went running. I turned on my ipod and went running up the hill towards rock canyon. I was going to go up there, but something told me to go visit grandpa and grandma. I ran up and knocked on the door and went in. Grandpa and Grandma were just there as if waiting for me. I sat there and talked with grandpa and grandma for nearly an hour, just about school, and things. Grandpa asked me how much tuition was for a semester, and then talked about how much things had changed. I had never before been with grandma and grandpa Vernon just by myself. It was a really sweet experience. I didn't think much of it and then ran back home to practice violin. A couple of days later grandpa had his stroke, and things were never quite the same after that. I remember one time I ran into James at BYU, and we talked a while about grandpa as well. We said it was sad to see grandpa not able to drive things because we knew he really liked to drive. Then I remember when I was at the corner of a street in Taiwan about to call a referral, and the phone rang and it was President Hoer, and as soon as he started talking, I knew Grandpa had passed away. It was kind of expected, and it made me really happy that Grandpa Vernon was able to help me on my mission as well. I feel like he has a great love for our investigators here. I feel like when I play hymns and sing hymns he helps it go well. These last few move calls in this area have been full of blessings and miracles happening that I can feel grandpa's help. One miracle happened just last Thursday. I started taking my violin out more and more. But then one time I accidentally left it at an investigators house. That got me real worried. That violin is pretty precious. I was also worried that riding with it on a bike for miles and miles stopping to contact people on the way, it was going to get a little bit beat up. So I wanted to buy a cheap violin, then I could take it outside proselyting, and if I had a mission meeting, or played in church or something use my expensive one. I didn't know where to buy a violin though. then last Thursday, one of our lessons fell through, and on the way to our next lesson I saw a little tiny music shop and decided to stop inside. I asked them if they knew any places to buy a violin. The lady there said if I was looking for a cheap violin they might just have one there I could buy. She pulled out a violin, and said I could buy it if I want. She said she had been playing on it, and bought a little nicer bow and shoulder rest to go with it, but would sell those to me to. She totaled up the price, and it came to 2,600 dollars. (Taiwan dollars) I looked in my wallet and counted out all the money I had. I had exactly 2,600 dollars in my wallet. I was able to go in and buy exactly the violin I was looking for within 10 minutes, and it plays and sounds significantly better than other really cheap violins I've tried.
So, anyways. I said a prayer that night to give thanks, and I felt like both my grandpas were really involved in that one. And really happy to see me get a new little violin in Taiwan. I can hardly express how grateful I am for the help of those beyond the veil. Without the things they do we would hit so many dead ends, and we would miss so many golden opportunities. Little miracles happen every day.
Well, our investigators are progressing. some better than others.
Zhao dixiong didn't come to church, he worked instead. So he dropped his baptismal goal, and we'll have to somehow help him keep the sabbath day holy. I don't know how. :(
But, Indiana Jones came and the primary took him in really well, and the ward set up volunteers to bring him to church every week.
Parkson came, he's so solid. He's only three months older than I am, and we taught him the ten commandments, law of chastity, and the word of wisdom in one big lesson and he had no problems at all!
(Before I came to Taiwan, I hardly ever paid any attention to the second of the ten commandments. But a lot of people get hung up on the "can't worship idols" thing. Because bai bai is just the tradition of their family)
Anyways, things are pretty good. I love you all. keep up the good work. I haven't heard of any baptisms back there in a long time. Do some more finding and fellow-shipping, and challenge people to get baptized. Don't ever hesitate to invite people to baptized. It says that it preach my gospel somewhere. When is Sarah's family all going to get baptized?
add oil
Elder Vernon

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pictures Feb 2011

21 Feb 2011

Today I ate more meat than I thought I ever could at a big yummy buffet. And then ate some more.
Well, things are good. Being a district leader isn't much different. I just call the missionaries in my district, and tell them to baptize people. But I haven't been baptizing people lately, so I feel a little weird doing it sometimes. My Zone leader right now is Elder Adams, my trainer. It's way funny seeing him after being on our missions this long time. I've changed a lot. Yesterday was stake conference. It was boring. But, that's just stake conference. Sometimes our church meetings really are boring. I didn't notice it so much when i was just going for myself. But when you are bringing investigators, and it's their first time coming to church, sometimes I just worry a little bit. This time, I didn't have any time to think about what the people were saying, because I was chasing, sitting by and trying to entertain our 9 year old investigator. he's the cutest little kid ever.
We had 5 investigators come to stake conference.
Jacky Gao, Zhao haircut guy, Indiana Jones, Parkson, and a random brother Liu.
Jacky Gao did his second interview, and needs to work with the bishop closely and keep progressing for a month or two before he can be baptized. Every time he has dilusions about children or earthquakes, he is supposed to not talk about it to other people, only the bishop. Poor Bishop.
Zhao Haircut guy we are really really excited about. He is a three year investigator, with a three page teaching record, that had never been to church before. We pressured him to come to church for a long time, and he never came, because he works on sunday. Then we realized that we should try and focus on his whole family, not just him. As soon as we started teaching him with his wife and kid as well, he became a lot more excited about it. When a whole family is learning the gospel together they go so much faster! Anyways, he's willing to leave his haircut shop to come to church, and we set a week C goal with him. He's a really great guy, and we feel a lot of love for him. I think he's going to make a really solid member of the church. We are going to the Bishop's house tonight for family home evernin with them.
I was surprised, when in stake conference, they announced the names of people who were receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, and they said Pan Zhao Qi, my new member from only a couple months ago. How wonderful that is! He's so solid in the ward, and getting the Melchizedek Priesthood I guess. Wow!
Anyways, the nine year old investigator, we call him Indiana Jones. I seem to remember a little asian kid helping out Indiana Jones in one of the movies. Anyways, the name just stuck. His real name is Zeng Wei Zhe. We found him on the street one time riding a bicycle way too big for him, and he asked us if we were friends of Jesus. This kid has the biggest desire of any of our investigators. We went to his house and met his mom. Apparently the kid's Dad was a former investigator, but now he's in jail. We didn't think it was the same church, until they brought out half of a book of mormon. (the dad ripped out the other half to roll cigarettes). Hopefully we'll be able to bring the whole family the gospel. The Dad gets out of jail in about a month. Hopefully he'll be able to attend his kid's baptism.
Things are going good. I memorize hymns every now and then. I love being on a mission because we get to do missionary work full-time. Includes finding investigators.
One time we decided to go tracting. I felt like we should stop and tract at a certain place, so we did. We wanted to tract for a while, but we didn't get to, because the first door we tracted, the guy said, "Come in and sit down, I'll grab my Book of Mormon!" That was surprising.
I realized that being a member missionary and working with family and friends must be super annoying. Working with the same person for a looooong time, and the worst part is, if they aren't progressing, you can't drop them! oh no. I'd better savor being able to find and drop a bunch of investigators while I'm here on my mission.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

13 Feb 2011

All is well in Yuanshan.
I'm really excited to be a district leader this move call (Elder Mitchell and I have one more together!). I really enjoy helping Taiwanese people. But sometimes I enjoy helping missionaries even more. I really hope I'll be able to be a good leader to my district. I hope that I can make district training meetings really great learning experiences. I also hope to make the follow-ups with missionaries pretty exciting. Because I was thinking about it, and we always emphasize doing good follow-ups with investigators. Not having them the same every time, and making sure that they are planned out and edifying. I think it should probably be the same when i follow-up with missionaries! So, I've been thinking of good ways to make things exciting. including singing hymns and sharing scriptures.
Today During studies I read the preface to the hymn-book. Wow, it was AMAZING! I've never seen so many promised blessings in one page! So I decided to start using the power of hymns more in my life. I think I'll start memorizing a bunch of my favorite hymns. The first one is Hark all ye Nations.
One time, standing outside a less active member's house, we starting singing Hark all ye Nations. And I felt the spirit. The words to the song just expressed so well why we were there, and what we were trying to communicate to all these people. "Oh how glorious from the throne above, shines the gospel light of truth and love!"
Anyways. The hymns are really good.
Last night, on "power find families" day, we didn't have anything set up, and didn't know where to go. So we thought of who to visit. And we both thought of going to visit Xie bei bei. Xie bei bei. Because we really just want to help out xie bei bei's family.
Xie bei bei is 90 years old. We pull weeds for him every week as service. Before, his wife, who is in her seventies, wouldn't even really talk to the missionaries because she is buddhist. Then we realized that Xie bei bei's son lives there as well. His name is Chong De. We started teaching Chong De. It's really fun to teach Chong De, just because of what a mess his life is. If he is willing to keep the commandments, his life could have a complete turnaround. Last wednesday eating lunch with xie bei bei, we all of the sudden realized that he was really really sad. It always seemed like he was such a happy old man, singing hymns and working in his garden. But this time, he expressed a lot of sadness about his family situation. He told us "I'm already 90, won't live for much longer. My wife is buddhist and doesn't even like me. Our only son became mentally ill when he went into the army at the age of twenty, and has lived in hospitals ever since, because we can't keep him at home, he tries to do crazy things. When I joined the church I prayed for my son, and then he became a lot better, able to live at home. But he doesn't listen to anything we say, and is really lazy. You missionaries tell me that I'm really great, but it's not true, I'm only *this*." (He held out his hand and did the pinky thing, the opposite of thumbs up). It made me feel so bad for this old guy. It made me think of my grandfathers. When they passed away, they already had dozens of happy grandchildren growing strong in the gospel. A legacy. But when xie bei bei passes away, would anyone even miss him. When he is in the spirit world and wants to go visit his family and help them find the gospel, he would have a lot of work to do to change it.
So, we wanted to help them.
We went last night and visited, and we brought the family together. Turned off the TV, and then played a hymn on the violin, Love at Home. Then we all sang it. Then we told them that their family had no love in it, and they needed to change, and it had to start from their son. We committed him to get up by 12:00 so that they could eat family lunch together. He wasn't willing. So we're cutting e-mail a little bit short to go wake him up today so he can have a meal with his family for the first time in who knows how long.
Then I played "Love is spoken here" on the violin for them and then we were going to leave. But we got delayed because Xie mama just started talking to me for a long time about how when she was young she was pretty and liked to dance and paint, and then she gave me candy. I guess that's a good sign.
I am so glad I'm here another move call to see if the gospel and the spirit and our efforts will be able to help that family be a little bit happier.
One more experience that was really special to me this past week was meeting with a 19 year old kid named Lai Mu Yong. When he was 12, he was in bad shape. He hated his family, and was really rebellious. He wouldn't speak to any of them, but would go straight to the computer cafe after school and play computer all day. Then his mom (who wasn't a member) had enough and made him go to church. He was baptized and became better and better, but then he moved (into our area here) and didn't have friends in the ward, and stopped going to church. A couple months ago me and Elder Chen stopped by his address, and knocked on the door real loud. He woke up and said he didn't want to meet or go back to church or change his lifestyle. We noticed all the beer and cigarettes in his house. We met with him anyways, and then kind of forgot about him. Then the other day, I wasn't sure what to do because our lesson didn't come, and came across his name in our phone. I called him, and to my surprise he agreed to come to the church that night to meet with us. When he came, I noticed something different in him. He related to us that he had been in a scooter accident, and his knee had to have surgery. he couldn't work, he couldn't play, and it was a really tough experience for him. He had been back home, where the missionaries and other church friends and visited him and given him a blessing. I apologized to my companion that I was going to do most of the talking this lesson, and then started telling lai dixiong about how the lord had humbled him so that he could change. That this accident could be a course correction and turning point in my life. I related to him my experience about when I had a course correction by breaking my arm. The similarity of our situations couldn't be chance. and i feel like i was really able to help him. He came to church sunday, read the book of mormon. Brought his girlfriend, for all the world looked like an active happy member. I know that this is the place I'm supposed to be. I know the lord has prepared experiences for us that aren't chance. This mission is an amazing experience! I love it!!!!
Elder Vernon

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quotes about the Book of Mormon

Quotes About the Book of Mormon

There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not. President Benson

I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness. President Romney

Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. President Benson

It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. President Benson

6 Feb 2011

Things are pretty good here!
The month of January went by like a speeding Tai ke on a scooter. (Tai Ke is just what the punks in Taiwan are called. The ones that drive around too fast on their scooters in groups, without a helmet, with neon blue and green lights, and an ugly girlfriend on the back, and think they are really really cool)
anyways, it went quick.
Last week was chinese new year! Members fed us dinner and lunch at their houses almost every day this week, it was really really fun. We got so full that I didn't even care that we didn't have any investigators any more. Okay, I lied, I did care. But it was pretty good food. Even the pig feet, and fish eggs. So one tender mercy of the Lord, the violin case I took on my mission was super bulky and annoying to take around because it was heavy and hurt my shoulder after a while. So I was thinking of going to buy a new violin case. Then I was cleaning out my apartment, and in a little cupboard under the stairs I found a violin case! I guess a previous missionary just randomly left it there for a wise purpose he knew not what. I thought that was at least as cool as Nephi writing the small plates and Mormon throwing them in with his abridgement. This case was super light, and had two straps so i could just wear it like a backpack.
So, I took my violin around every day last week, just carried it on my back.
We're supposed to be polite and bring a small gift when families feed us dinner, and write a thank you card. I don't feel like spending money so i just said, Play violin jiu hao le. that counts as a nice gift ba. So me and sister Koay (from malaysia) practiced through "love is spoken here" and played it at all the members' houses, and they loved it.
Also, they would usually give us a box of goodies, or something to take home. so we would just give that to the next family we met with, and they would think we were polite and bought them a gift.
As far as investigators, Gao dixiong has his second interview set up for tomorrow, to determine if he's okay enough to be baptized or not. We'll pray for him.
Yesterday we also found a former investigator who'd read through half of the book of Mormon, and also been to church a couple times. So we set a baptismal goal with him. He said he was fine with it, he'd been baptized in a bunch of different churches before so one more didn't really make a difference. I didn't like that. We'll see how he progresses.
I can't think of much else to write about. Sorry my e-mails aren't that detailed or special. Neither is my journal.
one really important thing. In zone conference president Bishop invited the whole mission to read through the Book of Mormon again, gave us a clean copy and a specific way to mark it, and said we had to finish in three months. about 6 pages a day. the way to mark is focused on Jesus Christ. We have one colored pencil to highlight every time it mentions Jesus Christ. A lot.
One to mark his attributes. One to mark his words, and one to mark his doctrine (specifically focused on Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Endure to the End)
It's amazing! I've felt the power of the Book of Mormon come back into my life, and change me for the better. I love it so much. I know the book is true!
I invite you all to take the challenge with me and see if the Book of Mormon will bring you closer to Christ. Three months. Starting Now!
Edler Vernon