We met with Zhang Yu Cheng the other day. He said he didn't feel like he was ready to get baptized. To tell the truth, I didn't feel like he was ready to be baptized either. He isn't really focused on joining the church at all recently. He is testing, and hasn't been reading, and doesn't have any good friends at church yet. So we moved his goal back a couple weeks. I believe he'll still be able to be baptized in December though. He said himself he has a "rather big desire to be baptized." He didn't come to church on sunday because of school.
The Wang Family didn't come to church on sunday, because they went and visited their mom in Nantou. I thought that was a good thing for them to see their mom. I was sad they didn't come to church either. We had to move their goal back as well. I think they'll probably end up being baptized on christmas eve. Because I want to make sure the older one has good friends in church. They're really similar to the two Shi Brothers we baptized last christmas. When the older one stopped going to church, the younger one disappeared as well.
But, we saw a big miracle yesterday. We were going to go home to eat dinner, but we felt we should first visit them. I walked in, and only the uncle was there with one other guy. The uncle said it was his friend. So I was about to take off, but then I looked a little closer, and the "friend" looked a lot like the oldest kid. I realized it was their DAD!!! He had heard the kids went back to visit their mom, and got mad and came back to see what was going on. He was drunk too. But, he was actually a really really good person. Super humble. He told us how Jesus Christ had truly helped him many times in the past. He really had a strong testimony of Jesus Christ. I played a hymn on my violin for them. And then we shared the message of the restoration with him. And then we asked if he would allow his children to get baptized and join the church. He agreed!!! Haha, right when he was about to sign the paper, he stopped, and asked us like 5 times whether or not baptism involved any weird rites that included bleeding or cutting. We promised his children would not be bled at baptism, and he signed the paper. What a miracle. It was a gift from Heavenly Father. He's really preparing this dysfunctional family to receive the gospel. The Dad said he might come to church sometime. But I doubt he'll actually do it. Maybe we'll get him to the baptism. Then the kids got home, and we sang love at home, and pretended and treated them like they were a normal happy loving family. They really are humble, and love each other. Then We all read out loud together the part about family from the Strength of Youth pamphlet. We told them the ultimate goal was to help their whole family go to the temple and back to the presence of God.
We also have a really fun investigator named Huang Yi Li. He's the one that's basically read through the Book of Mormon. He's about 40, and he reminds me a lot of Dad. A whole lot actually. If Dad were Taiwanese, and didn't get married. He loves to take us to mcDonalds. Today he told us he wanted to drive us to look at flowers. At first I thought it was going to be really boring. I thought I was going to look at like a beautiful mountain view. Turns out he took us to a place that sells lots and lots of potted plants. I'm sure aunt miriam would have just loved it. But it actually turned out kind of cool. I bought some potted plants and also some seeds to plant at my apartment. haha. There really were quite some amazing trees and there was just hundreds and hundreds of stores selling potted flowers and trees. I bought one to be my christmas tree in a month. it's only two feet tall, but it'll do I guess. The only problem is it doesn't smell like a christmas tree. Oh well, Elder Zhuang would probably think that was stinky. I'll send you some pictures of the potted trees and plant places we went. The little ones were really cheap. but they've been growing some of the trees for many many years, 50 years. So the big ones can be as expensive as a million dollars NT! I never thought a tree could cost so much! Oh well. Mine was only 125 dollars.
On the way home the three other missionaries fell asleep and me and Brother Huang talked about some of his concerns. He said he thought the resurrection was something scary, and unrealistic, and he couldn't bring himself to believe something like that. He also had some concerns about the word of wisdom. We talked about how if you drink tea and coffee, you can become addicted, and it actually isn't good for you. (everybody here believes tea is good for you). I think he'll be able to be baptized in December too. I think he enjoyed the primary program yesterday. At least I enjoyed it! I was able to play violin to accompany every song the primary sung!
Things are looking good here in Zhanghua. Keep up the good work at home!!!
So, church was great! we had 4 investigators come. And now I'm really excited to be helping some of these investigators progress towards baptism! It's been a long long time since I had a baptism, and now we're looking like we might have some in december. Yesterday was a day of miracles.
One of our investigators is a wonderful young man named Zhang Yu Cheng, We met with him friday at his parents noodle shop. Then he left to school. We were riding off to the next appointment when I got the feeling that something wasn't right. But I didn't know what. So we rode back, and a pulled out the strength of Youth pamphlet and talked to his mom for a couple minutes about what we were teaching her son. We also asked if he could come to church this sunday. She appreciated it, but said the family already had plans this sunday and he couldn't go. Then on sunday morning, we got a call from Yu Cheng, and he said, "I'm here at the chapel!" He took the bus 20 minutes by himself to get to church! HIs birthday is the 3rd of december. We'll have to move fast, but I think he might be able to get baptized on his birthday!
We also brought the Wang Family to church! We went over to their house sunday morning, and they were all sleeping. We yelled and hollered till we woke up some random girl that was at their house.??? And she let us in and we chased down the rest of the kids and rounded them up and stuck them on a member's scooter and hustled them off to church. (We found out later there are two orphan girls there that the uncle lets live there because they don't have anywhere else, that's who the girl was. I bet she gets baptized too. At least least the sisters won't have to worry about parent opposition while teaching her, hahahaha. okay that wasn't a funny joke). We made the oldest ride bikes with us though, and he rode really really slow. It was stressful, we ended up a little bit late, but it was worth it! next week we'll go do it all over again, but earlier. Getting kids to church isn't easy. I can't wait till I have 13 kids of my own, and try to get them all rounded up and to church on time! I really love these kids though. I'll tell you a little bit about their situation:
They are yuanzhumin, which means native taiwan aborigines. So the children are really cute, but the parents don't do such a good job of being parents. The Father and Mother got a divorce a while ago. Nobody knows where the Father is, there's five kids, the oldest is 15, the two youngest are babies, and got taken by the government to be fostered in another home. The Mom works in a different city and only comes home maybe once or twice a month and sees the children. They live with an uncle who is single and he's actually really nice, but struggles to give the kids anything else to eat besides rice. He's a christian too, so we were worried he might not allow us to take the kids to church. But he said that his church is too strict to take the kids, and I think he appreciates somebody looking after the kids on sunday morning. Anyways we were going to leave the little five year old at home and take the older two, but then there would be nobody to take care of him, so we just took him with us too. He was really scared at first of the different environment. But he'll get used to it. So I went to primary with the younger two, and turns out they were practicing for the primary program that day, And I had brought my violin, so I helped them with all the songs, and now next week me and our two little investigators get to perform in the primary program next week!
Our other investigator was a man who read the book of mormon all the way through in a week, backwards. (He said he always reads from front to back). We asked him if he would be baptized, and in answer he took us to visit his house. His house was very very well furnished and fancy. It was apparent that his family had a lot of money. Beware of being too comfortable, now he's forty and not married and still lives in his home. Too comfortable. He told us if he joined the church his family would probably kick him out of the nice house. I told him "Good! Get baptized and now you can get on with your life." I don't know if he liked that. We shared the story of Lehi leaving his comfortable house in Jerusalem to wander in the wilderness for 8 years, to keep the commandments of God.
I'm also getting closer and closer to the Bishop of the ward. He is so amazing. I really really hope I don't move. I want at least one more transfer here in zhanghua with Elder Zhuang. I would love to stay here. Because I'm just barely starting to see some results. The ward is starting to focus of home teaching. They are calling more ward missionaries. Saturday we ate with the bishop, Yesterday I went on exchanges with him. (It was such a miracle, we went to our secondary area, visited a member who hadn't been to church in 10 years, and he immediately agreed to come back this sunday!) and this morning we played tennis together.
He tells us more and more to just get to know the members of the ward, and once they know me they will be more willing to help. He's also invited me every week to play violin as prelude music to sacrament meeting. I think my music is a really big help in getting to know the ward. As I visit members, and play violin, I become a specific individual to them, and they remember me. I'm not just another Elder, but it opens a little window into myself and they feel like they know me better. So I always take my violin around on sundays when we visit members.
Things are good. Sorry today is a little late in e-mailing. Turns out we had a zone activity today. Luckily we all live decently close together, except for the Elders in Xihu who had to ride a bus for half an hour or so. But we got everybody in the zone (except for the Elders out on the Island of Magong) together and took a picture in front of the big buddha on Bagua shan. The funny thing is, last week we were eating dinner, and there was this really really old grandpa, grandpa Zhang sitting next to us. We started talking to him and he was so funny. He told us that he was actually the architect/ designer of the big buddha! That's one of the biggest landmarks of Taiwan. It was really fun. we all got together and said a prayer that the people of zhanghua could be prepared, and then ordered pizza and took a lot of pictures. Our zone's doing pretty well. We had two baptisms and confirmations in the zone last week, and we're working hard to hit our goal for 10 this month. Even cooler, we had one of the best recent convert turnouts at church I've seen so far, we got 51 percent of the recent converts to sacrament meeting yesterday. Yay!
I've been having a lot of fun working hard with the recent converts and investigators in our ward last week. We've found quite a few new investigators recently, and we're also trying to go find lots of old ones. I also have really been having fun bringing back less actives. It's kind of hard though, because when they come back to church, the ward likes it, and is nice to them. But there's still nobody that will actually be their good friend, and so they eventually don't stay active for the first reason they left in the first place. I think if by the time I leave this ward, there are a couple more recent converts active, less actives come back, and have started home teaching and new member lessons, I feel like I will have done my job. But I still want to baptize more than anything else. I don't know why it's not happening. However, I found a family that I really want to baptize. Two days ago I saw a 13 year old kid on the road, and contacted him. He seemed like he wanted to be cool and rebellious, but as soon as I started talking to him I realized that he was really really humble and a good kid. We went to visit their house, and found a little shack way out in the country. Turns out this kid is the oldest of 5 kids, they all looked really hungry and dirty and humble. Their parents divorced, nobody knows where the Dad is, and the Mom works in Nantou, and hardly ever comes home. The only person that lives with them is an uncle who used to drink a lot, but converted to some weird christian church and stopped drinking. I called the number the kid gave me last night, and it was the mom that answered. Turns out she was christian too. And unable to come home because of work, she said she is always worried about her oldest child who is turning a bit rebellious. She said the only thing she could do was pray, and then we ran into the family. And then she said she had been meeting with the missionaries in Nantou! So, that is the Wang family. We hope they will be able to start progressing.
I love serving the Lord. I've been seeing so many blessings lately. I also am starting to realize I am very old. It was really weird to go up to the big buddha today, that's where we went for christmas last year to take a mission picture, and only four of the missionaries in our zone had been here for christmas! wow.
I don't really know what else to say. I'm learning a lot of things from my companion. Not just taiwanese. But that's one of my favorite things to learn from him. Taiwanese is such a funny sounding language. I'm now almost capable of communicating with people over the age of 60!!!! The lady that made my suit only spoke taiwanese, I didn't really know what she was saying. hope the suit turns out all right!
Haha. mom, sometimes I don't think you know what taiwan is like at all. I thought it was funny that you said I might not have the best computers over here. Taiwan is number one with cheap electronic stuff. I really can get anything you would ever need over here. for really cheap. Every person on taiwan has at least 2 or 3 cell phones. I still don't know why you would need more than one. but most people have two....?