Hello hello from Taiwan!
Quite a lot has happened since last Monday. I met my Mission President, President Teh, at the airport. He’s really nice. We had to wait for a second flight of missionaries to land so we ended up contacting for almost 2 and a half hours at the airport, until past midnight! That was interesting. All 29 new Elders and Sisters spend two nights in Taichung to go through an orientation of sorts. Thursday night they brought in 29 missionaries who have been here for a while to go on splits with us and contact the streets around the mission home. I was paired with Elder Crockett, who had 4 days left on his mission. His Chinese was pretty darn good. We walked around for little over an hour and ended with 7 contact cards filled out. That just means those people were willing to give us their contact info so we could maybe setup an appointment with them on a later date.
On Friday we met our new companions! Our trainers! My trainer’s name is Elder Watson. He’s from Arkansas. And he actually knows Elder Van Slooten too! We also found out the area we’ll be serving in for the first 12 weeks of our mission in Taiwan. I was assigned the Qishan area, which is pretty rural. It’s up close to the mountains, north-east of Gaoxiong. It’s also a HUGE area. And its just the two of us. Actually we’re the only two in our district as well, so that makes my companion the District Leader as well. It took almost 5 hours to get from the mission home to our area. We had to take a train, and then take a bus the rest of the way. But our house is huge! Yes we have a house, not an apartment. It’s got 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a kitchen, a big main room, a porch, and an exercise room! It’s massive, at least for two missionaries.
Right now we technically have a couple investigators, but so far we haven’t taught anyone, which is really too bad. A lot of our time is spent contacting or tracting, trying to find new investigators. Most people here are pretty nice and willing to talk to us, but then they also aren’t super interested, or just don’t have time, so they won’t meet with us. Right now my companion does 95% of the talking. Its a little frustrating. I can understand probably a quarter or a third of most conversations, sometimes more depending on the topic. And I’ll often have things I want to say and I know how to say too. I think the problem is that my companion doesn’t really give me opportunities to speak. If there’s a pause I can sometimes ask a question or bear testimony, but my input is brief. That’s something he and I are working on, giving me more opportunities to speak. We were joking last night that I’ve been getting a lot of listening practice the last few days, but not much speaking practice. So yeah. I need to speak more.
I do have a pretty cool experience to share though, that happened on the plane from San Francisco to Taipei! I sat next to this Taiwanese girl and we had an awesome discussion about God. Turns out she’s from Taipei, but was going to school in Canada, so she knew a little English. She had gone to church before in Canada but she said she stopped going because she didn’t understand why God allows bad things to happen. She believed God existed though, she just didn’t completely understand Him. So I did my best to answer her questions! We discussed God as our loving Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ as our Savior, and the Book of Mormon as the word of God. I taught her the Restoration through Joseph Smith and shared with her his first vision experience. And I used the scriptures to answer her question as to why God allows bad things to happen. I shared Ether 12:27 from the Book of Mormon. God doesn’t really give us the bad things in our lives, our trials, the obstacles we face, or the tragedy. He does however allow those things to come into our lives. I make that distinction because of the nature of God. All that is good comes from God. He wouldn’t give us things contrary to His nature because He is kind and merciful. However, He allows hardship and trial to enter our lives because He knows they will strengthen us, strengthen our testimonies, strengthen our faith, and test us. Our trials and our weakness humble us and turn us towards our Savior Jesus Christ. Then, if we have faith in Him, have faith in His plan for us, and then follow Him, He will bless us and make our weakness become strength. Through Christ, we can overcome any trial and find relief from any sorrow. I know that to be true. Anyways, at the end of our discussion, I asked her if it would be alright if I sent missionaries to give her a Book of Mormon. She said yes and I got her phone number. Super awesome. She even let me pray with her at the end! This all happened while sitting in the back of a huge plane, with people asleep all around us, and with others watching all sorts of movies. It’s amazing how the Spirit of God can be felt anywhere.
Anyways, I love Taiwan! Its super pretty here. The food is tasty. I even got to try duck tongue at a family BBQ the first night in my area. It wasn’t that bad. I would love it if you all prayed for my companion and I to be able to find people to teach, and so that he and I can be more unified when teaching. I’m sure that’ll come with time, but I know prayers will help tons.
I realize probably the biggest hurdle I have right now is the language. I’m often listening to my companion talk to others and I’m picking up words here and there and I really want to be able to teach them everything I know about God and Christ so that they can develop a real relationship with them. But I can’t do it very well right now, because my Chinese is limited. It’s frustrating, but I know if I rely on the Lord, He will help me.
I love you all! You’re awesome! God is good, don’t forget it.