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!!!!!