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.
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!