Puli is doing great. We got 41 people at sacrament meeting. Our goal was for 42. We would have gotten 42 if you count the handicapped lady in the parking lot. (She came down from Taibei, but had nobody to help her get her electric wheelchair from the back of her car. She honked but nobody came down. We finally went down, and by the time we helped her get upstairs, sacrament was over. Hahahaha. However, serving people pays off. We helped her get back into her car after the meeting as well. In return she gave us a big referral of her little brother's family. Many of the children had heard all the missionary lessons before, and had wanted to be baptized, but their parents said they were too young.)
Anyways, I love the meetings at Puli. Even though there's not as many people, the spirit really has seemed to bless our sacrament meetings these last two weeks. I know we'll keep on rising.
I especially love the Branch President here, Tang Huizhang. I feel like he's doing such a good job taking care of this branch. I just hope we can be a blessing to him and not a burden. I feel like if we could just really build his faith in this area, and really convert him the missionary efforts here, it could change the whole place.
I'm really grateful for the members here, and how hard they are working to establish the branch and keep it going.
This sunday we saw a lot of blessings. We prayed to have investigators come to church, and we started getting worried when one by one they said they couldn't.
But during sacrament meeting, the mother of two of our youth came to church. Her daughter is really active, and her son is a punk that sleeps in every week. But we started to focus on him and try to rescue him. I was really glad to see all three of them at church. I know that the promised blessings she heard in church, about raising teenagers really helped her have a desire to bring them to church. We ate at their house during chinese new year, and I asked where her husband was. Unfortunately he passed away over ten years ago. We testified to her of temples and families being together, and I was also able to share about my brother in law, who eventually was willing to join the church after being a part member family for 13 years. At church she was dressed up and looked as if she were the relief society president. For some reason that night I promised her that one day she would be able to take her children to the temple and be sealed as an eternal family. I was so happy to see our branch president ask her when she was going to be baptized. what a cool branch president!
The other investigator was a miracle too. Justin one of our few english class students. He comes about every week, and missionaries have shared the lessons with him many times. I don't know what his iceberg is yet, but he must have one. He's aobut 40 and not married yet, because he says he can't find anybody that understands him in puli. He lived in New York for 15 years. Last week at English we promised him that if he starts taking the lessons with us again, and reads and prays, he'll find somebody that could be his wife. He came all dressed up to church too. We played tennis with him this morning.
The last investigator was named Howard Kuan. I was so excited to see howard from the MTC walk into sacrament meeting! And it was so fun to be in taiwan able communicate in chinese with him, and see him as an investigator. Here's his story, About 2 and a half years ago, he wanted to go to business school, and he had heard about BYU. But to go to BYU he needed something called an ecclesiastical endorsement. haha. It is so weird to see it all from his taiwanese perspective. So he found the local branch president (Tang Huizhang) and then went to BYU. Even though he never joined the LDS church while he was in Utah, he always had really good feelings towards the church and said BYU was a blessing in his life. he would volunteer at the MTC on saturdays to be an "investigator" for the new missionaries speaking chinese. That's where Mom and I met Howard. Now for nearly two years mom has been forwarding him my e-mails about missionary work in Taiwan. I knew he lives in xinzhu, so I thought It would be impossible to run into him, but turns out his wife is from puli, and he came back for new years. So he's back in xinzhu now, but he said he was excited to go to church there, and to meet with the missionaries. He'll probably come back to puli every now and then too.
I think he's really prepared to receive the gospel.
I love investigators like these. Even though it's a little bit annoying when people don't get baptized really fast, I feel like when these three people join the church, they will be really strong members, and establish the church wherever they are.
Our main investigator right now is still Chen Baba. He still looks more like a pirate than ever! Oh it's so funny. He's the best investigator I've ever had. He was unable to come to church yesterday because chen mama's father is in the hospital. It doesn't look very good, their basically just making sure accompanying him on his last road. Last night we met with them, and then near the end of the lesson, the kid said "I don't know if it's just chance or what, but I just opened my Book of Mormon and saw this scripture." Of course it was Alma 40:11. We read it together, and it helped them alot.
My companion is doing well. I think he had a hard week last week, But it's nothing we can't work with. He's really good at being a missionary, and I'm consistently impressed by his maturity and understanding of how to establish the church.
Another good thing that happened was we visited the first counselor. We expressed a lot of gratitude for his service in the church, shared our testimonies of Jesus Christ, and then asked him to bear his testimony to us. I was really touched as our less active first counselor shared a sweet testimony that he knew the church was true, and that it would bless his family. He came to church on sunday dressed in a suit. It felt really good to see the full branch presidency up there rather than two. I hope he's able to stay.
Nearing the end of my mission, things seem to just be getting better and better. There are so many sweet tender mercies. I was also really blessed to be able to see my recent convert Wang Yu Li, who happened to come by puli and see me. he leaves to the philipinnes MTC this friday, and will be in Taibei as a missionary within the month of February! How Cool to be doing missionary work here at the same time as Elder Wang. I didn't think that I made much of a difference when teaching him, because he was an eternal investigator, and too stubborn to join the church. One day I shared with him a silly example, that when you go to a sporting event, wouldn't it be silly to close your eyes the whole time, and not watch the event. You could still have the environment, hear the crowd, but you would miss out on the biggest reason you're there. The same with coming to church for a year and not getting baptized.
He said he still remembered that little example from a trainee who probably couldn't express it very clearly. We have a bigger influence on those we teach than we might think.
I was wondering what I was going to do with my bike at the end of my mission. Before Wang Yu Li left, I asked him if he could use a bike, turns out he needed one. So though I might die, my noble steed will continue to do missionary work, this time on the north side of the island. I'm excited to send it up to taibei for him to use!
Well, I'm out of time. By the way, we had a baptism. A cute little 8 year old kid Liu Guan Lin. We didn't really do much for it, his grandma brings him to church and has been teaching him since he was born. All we had to do was teach him some stuff and baptize him.
The baptism was great, we did a musical number, and I made Elder Stark sing! haha, he didn't want to but I used unrighteous dominion, coercion and compulsion and he did a wonderful job!
I know Liu didi will be a great member of the church and endure to the end. I am excited for 10 or 11 years from now when he goes on a mission. Who knows, we might have hit our goal of the puli temple by then!
Love, Elder Vernon