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