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.

July 24, 2011

Hi! I'm so excited that Enoch is getting
baptized!!That's really really exciting. Congratulations!!
I love Enoch, I had no idea he was already that grown up. Good job, I
need to add oil or you'll get ahead of me with baptisms.
Anyways, my investigators all disappeared or went to taibei or
something. Right now we only have about two or three that are
progressing, the Zheng family, they are so cute. They pushed their
goal back to the 13 because of his work, and then Li Li Wei. Li Wei is
really cool 18 year old kid that we played basketball with this
morning and then taught him about Thomas S. Monson. He wants to get
baptized but his parents are really opposed. That's too bad.

The pioneer day activity on Saturday was a really big hit!!!!
No old members from the ward came, but we had a lot of new members,
and a lot of investigators come. In fact we had almost 30 people
there. We told pioneer stories, and there just happened to be a direct
descendant of Brigham Young starying in Taiwan for a couple weeks in
the neighboring ward, and he came and told some stories about Brigham
Young. played pioneer games like the stick pull, and the best part was
we had everybody line up and dance the virginia reel while I fiddled
(I love fiddling). It was so much fun! Then we all made homemade ice
cream in plastic bags and they were all a little incredulous until
they saw my ice cream starting to thicken. It was a great activity. It
was blessed by the spirit and they all thought it was really fun.
Especially the sister missionaries in our ward.
Right now, one of the things that is making me most happy is working
with new members. It's absolutely rewarding. When I first came to this
area there were no active recent converts. Even though last week there
was only two that came, they are all looking better and better and
growing in the gospel. One young man named Hong Yu Xuan was one of
Elder Farr's two baptisms in Lingya. He has some mental illnesses like
depression, and I'm sure he's on some drugs because his movements are
extreeeemeely slllooooooooowwwww. He never woke up for church, and his
mom opposed because she was buddhist, and it didn't look like he was
ever going to be active again. but then two or three weeks ago
something changed. He called us and said he was in the hospital, It
was out of our area, but some ward members went to visit. They
wouldn't let anybody but family members in, and it was in the mental
area of the hospital. So it must have been pretty serious. He came
home after a couple days, and was really not in good shape, he must
have been on some serious medication because it would take about five
seconds for him to register that we were talking to him. he moved
really really really slowly. But then his mom must have been humbled,
because after that she let us into his home to start reading book of
mormon with him. We started making quick daily visits, reading from
the Book of Mormon. The next sunday, I didn't invite him to church,
because I was scared he would drive his scooter. Before we would have
to wake him up. This time to my surprise he came by himself. I was a
little scared that he was on the roads, but, oh well. He came the next
week dressed in a shirt and tie. And then yesterday he received the
aaronic priesthood and is making friends with the ward. I can't
believe the changes I've seen with him. he seems more normal than

this morning we met with a new member who hasn't been to church in
over 6 months. He was really really willing to read the chapter in the
book of Mormon we gave him.

Last night I called one of the recent Converts that disappeared and
hadn't been seen for months. Amazingly he answered, and at first
wasn't listening to me at all. I could tell he was about to hang up
the phone, but I asked if I could share a book of mormon scripture
with him. Luckily I had a couple memorized in chinese to choose from.
I chose 2 nephi 32:9. After it was quiet for a little bit, and then he
said, "thank you for calling, I needed that reminder, I need to pray."
And then he started talking about all the missionaries he knew before
and asking where they were now. It brought a really really good
I feel like Heavenly Father especially smiles on successful work with
recent converts. I feel like these people are really precious in his
sight, and miracles can happen when we are willing to focus on them.
When President Pratt visited our mission, he read a scripture that
I'll never forget. He read when Jesus tells the apostles in John 16 to
go forth and bring forth fruit, and that the fruit should "remain."

Well, I'm doing well. I love diong missionary work. I'm trying hard to
change, because before I was completely focused on baptism, which
isn't bad. But now I'm trying hard to "establish the church"  That's
President Bishop's motto, His goal is to establish the church in
Taiwan. The church is established as people with testimonies are
baptized, and prepare actively to receive the priesthood, serve in
callings, do missionary work and go to the temple. That brings a lot
of happiness.
I've been starting to think of people more recently, and not numbers.
Goodbye, I'll send some pictures today!
Love, Elder Vernon
Print all

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 18, 2011

Today I'm e-mailing from my old area! I called President Bishop for permission to cross zones to visit one of my recent converts, the nine year old Zeng Wei Zhe. We rode there, and then he wasn't going to be there till the afternoon, so we were heading home, and then my gears stopped working... So we called for permission and ended up e-mailing over here instead where I e-mailed every preparation day three or four months ago! Nostalgia.
Anyways, I'm really excited to go see him in a couple minutes.
I don't have much news today, things are going well on a mission. Elder Harper is an awesome companion, we're both doing great, happy, and overcoming any struggles or trials that we might run into. I really love Elder Harper, and I've learned an incredible amount from this training experience. Mostly I've just learned how to try and lead people, how to motivate someone, how to not try and motivate people, how to deal with things, and how singing while riding your bike can help you.
I don't know where the time goes. It seems like things go by so fast. I don't really know why we haven't baptized a whole lot in Lingya. It's got more people than probably any other area in the mission. But we've baptized one. At least he's solid. He got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday, and his son should be getting baptized next month. Yesterday we had 5 investigators to church, which wasn't as much as we hoped for. But it's not bad. The Li kid didn't come, that was sad. the Teng kid moved suddenly. :(  and brother xu went to taibei for who knows how long. But, the Zheng family came, and they set a baptismal goal for the 6th of august. Recently I've just been happy to see a lot of improvement in recent converts, especially one young man named Hong Yu Xuan, who was baptized while Elder Farr was here before me. he used to not come at all, because he slept in and his mom didn't want him to come, but now he's come consistently for a month, and his mom lets us into their house to read Book of Mormon with him. Yay!
Good luck to you all,
Happy Pioneer day! Bubye
Elder Vernon

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011

Things are going well,
It looks like we should be doing pretty good. We've been finding some really prepared people lately. I really hope to be able to work hard and baptize some investigators before the end of this month. We've been really blessed lately we have had about 9 or 10 investigators at church for a couple weeks in a row! So we have been seeing some people roll over, and things are looking pretty good.
Right now investigators that we're focusing on...
16 year old Teng kid, I added him once a long time ago, but he wasn't really interested. Recently we were near his house and he self contacted us and said that he got in a fight with his family, and he'd been praying for two days and reading scriptures, and wanted us to help him. He's come to church twice now, and should get baptized soon! Unfortunately, he's been going to a baptist church for over a year now, and he's worried what the pastor there will say if he gets baptized at our church. He's involved in all sorts of stuff. I bore testimony of Joseph Smith, and asked him if he was willing to just switch churches, and always come to ours. he said yes. Amazing, I've never had anything like that before. He's a little scrawny kid, a little bit weird too. He made cat noises through the first half of sacrament, and then fell asleep in the second half.
45 year old brother Xu, About two months ago we were looking for a random quick sit down lesson in the park, and tried to sit down with him, he was drunk, and seemed crazy, and I never really thought he would accept the gospel. Recently I saw him on the street and added him, he told me he had had a death in the family, and started to think about questions of the soul, and he quit drinking, went from being an alcoholic to a normal person. He's been to church twice now, and he is really good too. should get baptized soon. He just has to forsake his old false religion (yi guan dao).
Steven Chen, A while ago I was looking for a former and I started talking to a woman at the same apartment complex. A month later, the same woman saw us riding past, and ran out and stopped us, and told us her son just got back from America, and she wanted us to meet with him and take him to church with us. Her son steven turned out to have perfect English, and a really really big desire to follow Jesus Christ. He became part of the catholic church in America, but we shared about Joseph Smith, and he reads and prays, and feels like Joseph Smith is a true prophet. Apparently his grandpa was really famous, and his family was one of the richest in Gaoxiong, but then his dad died 11 years ago, and his family moved to get away from the public. I really hope to see him get baptized. He's committed to come to church with us this sunday, and loves meeting with us because we teach him in English. (I hardly ever teach Taiwanese people in English, unless it's more effective. Elder Harper can actually teach him in English.
Li yi wei, is a really cool kid I contacted a while ago. He loves basketball and coming to church. he's looking pretty good too. But his family doesn't want him to get baptized. Because he is the oldest son. They have to bai bai.
The Zheng family is progressing really nicely. They have the cutest little kid ever, he's about 1 and a half years old now and smiles real big and runs around and bonks his head on the table so we can't focus. The only problem is they haven't come to the morning ward, they go to the afternoon sacrament meeting because he works all night. So they can't get baptized until they find a way to attend all three hours of the right ward. The father quit smoking, word of wisdom was a breeze because the wife hated him smoking, and then turns out her favorite tea was the same as mine, dongguacha! Last night we just read the book of mormon for 30 minutes with them. I'm surprised how in every chapter of the Book of mormon there is so much that can help investigators learn the gospel of Jesus Christ. We read 1 Nephi 12-13 last night. It was amazing. helped them alot.
Anyways, we've got a lot of good investigators. They've all got challenges, but they just need a little encouragement and then we can dunk them!
Yesterday we had quite the experience. Church is completely different on a mission. I guess it's kind of like going to church as a parent. Sometimes it's not exactly a day of rest, or that easy. It's kind of the most stressful day. It's like football, preparing and practicing all week, and then sunday is game day.
So I was really busy and trying to take care of 9 investigators And play violin with the choir in the sacrament meeting after ours, and suddenly Elder Harper started complaining that he was sick. I unfortunately wasn't very sympathetic. He apparently had a really bad headache and fever and felt like throwing up. there's nothing I can do to help that, He sat on the couch moaning during all three hours of church and the entire ward was worried about him seeing him there, and they all started telling me that I didn't need to take him to the doctor, and it's impossible to explain to that many persistent taiwanese people that I'm NOT going to take my companion to the doctor during church on sunday, because in america, doctors don't cost 100 kuai, and people actually survive if they get sick and Don't go to the doctor. (It's just a culture difference, probably more just our family, but taiwanese people go to the doctor for every little thing). So finally after church we pulled Elder Harper off of the couch into a different room, laid hands on his head and I gave him a 20 second blessing. I just said what came to mind, and it felt right. It was really simple. "we rebuke the illness. You're completely healed, you should start feeling better immediately and you'll never be sick or bothered by the adversary again for the rest of these two years." 
I felt the spirit really strong. Elder Harper went in the bathroom and threw up, we went back to the apartment, and I called referrals and investigators for three hours while he napped, (this was the first time on my mission I've been inside the apartment during proselyting hours except to grab something or to eat on sundays)  then woke him up and said, we've got lessons, it's time to go. He was completely fine, and we went and taught two really good lessons that night. He hasn't felt sick since then. It was quite a fun little miracle. It made me think of the part in Parley P. Pratt's book where he's walking through the snow with his companion, on a mission, and they keep getting sick, so sick they couldn't get up, and then they heal each other and keep going until they need to do it again.
haha, I also remembered Jason said that on his mission he had a companion that would always say he was sick in the afternoons and want to go back to the apartment. I never realized how annoying that would be until I'm here on my mission. I'm grateful every single one of my companions has been really excellent, and really hard workers. Some, harder than others. Probably Elder Farr was the hardest worker I've been with. Elder Mitchell was really good too. I'm glad Elder Farr is getting a lot of baptisms recently in his new area.
Missions are a lot of fun!
Our new member Zhu dixiong is really solid. There's nothing happier on a mission than new members that grow in the gospel and endure to the end. There's nothing sadder on a mission than new members that disappear.
Take good care of things at home!
I've still got a long time to hit my baptismal goal here in Taiwan. Pray for me and for these investigators that they can get baptized!! That's all I want!
goodbye.  Elder Vernon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4, 2011 pictures

1. the super funny pump plunger I found in the bathroom that had a giant german word written on the front.
2. salad and watermelon on the fourth of July!
3. Zhu Dixiong's baptismal pic. We couldn't find any baptismal suit big enough for elder Harper. He squeezed into that thing and it looked really funny.
4. add the bishop and zhu dixiongs kid.
5. where I ran this morning.
6. companion and I

July 4, 2011

The Zhu father was baptized Saturday, confirmed Sunday. He's really solid. He has a testimony, he knows God is real, and he knows prayers are answered, and he was able to change smoking, drinking, tea, coffee, binlang, chastity, and worshiping idols habits! He has a lot of faith. His little kid is going to be baptized next month when he turns eight. We love that kid. And his daughters are meeting with the sister missionaries. The bishop was really involved in their conversion as well, and helped a lot, because they are next door neighbors. So he's going to be taken care of as well!
It made me sooo happy to have a baptism. It's been a long long time. I fasted last Sunday and prayed to be able to hit our baptismal goal this month of five. It will be really hard but I know we can do it. We took some good pictures today, so I will send a couple. Things are good.
Yesterday at church was really really good. I loved it. 1 confirmation, 10 investigators, and 50% recent convert attendance. (that's pretty good for these parts). But, I'm glad to say most of the people I've baptized on my mission as a senior companion, all still have testimonies and are pretty active. A couple of my first couple transfers disappeared, and that's sad. I write them letters. They believed in Jesus Christ, but turns out they still believed in a couple other Gods as well. Zao Gao. :)
I love Taiwan. I love America too. Today we sang the national anthem.
I remember last fourth of July was a Sunday. I had completely forgot that it was the fourth of July until nighttime writing in my journal. My trainer didn't care, so I went and sang all the patriotic songs I could remember, and then went to bed.
Have a good week.  Elder Vernon

June 27 pictures

1. This is the old man that I contact about once a week, because he's always on the same corner. He still didn't have any interest today, but I snapped a picture with im.
2. the less active guy. His wife ran away, he has two kids, his work failed, he has depression, and long hair.
3.The coke less active guy. Baptized as a young college student, then went in the army, and hasn't been to church for over 10-20 years. Today we said a quick prayer with him.
4. me doing missionary work. Every now and then when their interested we'll just sit there with cars honking at us, or sometimes you can pull cars over to the side. I have a goal to pull over a big truck or a bus sometime, and add them as an investigator. But it's a little tricky.
(one time I went up and knocked at the door of a sleek black car, and no answer. so I knocked on the window real loud, still no answer. By this time the light was about to change, so I stuck my face against the window and looked inside. There was a guy with his hand on the gear shifter thingy, but his head was slumped against the steering wheel, either asleep, or dead. I figured he would wake up when the cars started honking so I skitted away. The light changed, the cars started honking, but his car never moved. I just left, because I didn't want to get involved in something that. But it was kind of funny.)
5. My trainee Elder Harper and his normal expression. I'm real glad Elder Harper is my trainee. He has such a strong testimony and we're going to baptize.
6. This is Xie Dixiong, apparently he's got a bad eye now. That's too bad. I just want him to get baptized, that's all.

7. There is no number Seven!