Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blinders on

I can honestly say I've never felt so good about the status of an area as I do right now! San Min is ON FIRE! Things feel so good right now. We have been able to have a steady flow of new investigators, progressing ones with baptismal goals, and a lot of people actually coming to church. The wards even been giving us some referrals! It is just so balanced. A couple of guys are looking really good to get baptized in the coming weeks of July.

It was such a good feeling to get done with all the exchanges with the Elders in the zone this week! We've been going on a ton the last couple of weeks. Its a great training opportunity, but also hard to get a good rhythm going. One of our biggest goals this transfer was to have really good workouts when the elders come over to our area (how it works now is both missionaries come to our area, we don't usually do a one one switch.) Normally on exchanges workouts are super lame because theres just too many people in the apartment, so we started taking companionships out to the track and putting together these cross fit workouts. Haha Elder Coats and I have gotten in really good shape the last couple months, and have just been pounding the other elders with these workouts :) In a good way, missionaries need to exercise better! Everyone is so inspired now!

Well.. the ward finally found out that I'm going home next week.. I've really been trying hard not to let anyone find out, but it happened. They've been going crazy. Literally every single member I have seen in the last week has made a mention of it. The young single adults had a big dinner/going a way party the other night. We met with the bishop yesterday and at the beginning he says "We'll keep it quick, I know you need to go home and get packing" Oh man, they're so nice, but I don't like all the special treatment!

Here I'd like to share an idea that has affected me more than almost anything else. Its actually some of the lyrics to Hymn 263 Go Forth With Faith:

Go forth to serve and do your best
With no thought of reward;
Then you shall know the boundless joy
Of serving Christ, the Lord.

What a great equation! When we participate in the Lord's work all we need to do is our best and have a humble attitude. As simple as that. While I have found that the pattern is simple, its not easy to do. There are so many things that can distract and make it hard to have that "No thought of reward" attitude. Something that has helped me is to realize that the true reward for serving is just that: the opportunity to serve. Only when we lose ourselves in a cause greater than ourselves can we truly feel the "boundless joy of serving Christ, the Lord."  I've learned that this joy is real. My favorite scriptures is in John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The peace and happiness that comes from focusing on others and our Savior IS the greatest thing we can receive for any kind of service, on a mission or off. No one else has to see it or tell us. We will feel it. That has come to be the greatest joy for me day in and day out. I love being able to go out and forget about myself. I will be forever grateful for this lesson learned and the opportunity I have to serve. I'm looking forward to a lot more of it.

See you in a few.

Elder Gilbert

We met with this new investigator (Nelson) at his restaurant the other day. Pretty cool story. He's already Christian, but started this business and got really busy. We had started to feel like he had gotten really far from God, so he had been praying to find a way back. We were biking to a members house early in the week when Elder Coats asked if we could turn around and go down this alley, on the other side of the alley was this guy with his 4 year old daughter! Crazy!  He told us all this our second time meeting. He also came to church yesterday! The woman is the co-owner of the business. They treated us to gelato!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Soaking it all in (literally)

Another great one! It was a rainy week! Really rainy actually, I don't think I've seen it rain so hard ever before! I swear I've been constantly wet all week. I have really disliked when it rains most of my mission, but Elder Coats has helped to convince me otherwise. It has cooled down a lot because of the rain, plus we've seen a ton of really cool stuff happen (some of it due to the rain)

I don't think I've ever worked with so many families at once! We met this woman on the street early in the week, she later brought her husband and two daughters to English class. At the end of English class we asked this little 4 year old member girl to say the closing prayer. This woman we had just met was so impressed, and wanted to know how they could better raise their own daughters!

Our 2nd counselor in the bishopric is the only member in his family. We were told that they've been more open to the gospel lately and have even been attending our wards Self reliance classes. Our Elder's Quorum President encouraged us to go stop by and give it a try! We shared about family prayer and scripture study! We invited them to try and find at least 5 minutes to read the Book of Mormon as a family. The non member mom responded saying "Thats not enough time, we can do better than that!" Pretty good stuff. Turns out they really don't know too much and we were invited to come back this week and talk more about the Book of Mormon!

Our RC Chen Shi Ming referred us literally the most golden guy ever last Monday. He already set a baptismal goal and when he came to church this week let some of the people he met know he was working to baptism.

We were able to teach so many people this week! What a blessing! Hopefully that can give a little taste for whats been going on! I really really liked President Teh's weekly letter to the mission today, thought I could share a part of it:

We hope that you are well and enjoying this amazing Taiwan weather!! We are so proud of you for continuing to work hard even though you are alternately baking under the hot sun and soaking in the heavy rain. I am sure that most of you are used to the sun but sometimes wonder: " where's all this water come from?"

When I was a small boy this crazy thought crossed my mind once: "I wish I could control the weather." Then after years of attending primary I learned that the wish was not as crazy as I thought it was. That under certain conditions and according to God's will and purposes- I may be called upon to control the weather. More profoundly, later in my life I learned that more important than controlling the weather, is being able to control my personal barometer. That no matter what the weather is outside, you can choose to enjoy "Perfect Weather."

I woke up this morning with this hymn playing in my mind:

There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

Oh, there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There you have it. Perfect weather is ours to enjoy. As our hearts and lives are centered around the Savior and His atonement, the sun will always be shining in our soul. I have come to the conclusion that the only weather that we have to be concerned about is what is going on inside of us. And the great thing about it is everyday, we can decide what the weather will be like in there.

Love you all,
Elder Gilbert

Zone Conference
Mission leadership conference

Monday, June 12, 2017

All over the place

Busy one this week! We had a lot of lessons and people that we are working with. This week felt like it was full of a little bit of everything!

I guess I'll start off with the disappointing news. One of our progressing investigators Jim got into some anti Mormon stuff and its really hurt his testimony. Really not good actually.. Bummer! It kind of came out at Church yesterday that he feels his answer hasn't come yet and he doesn't know if he should keep trying. Oh well, I can honestly say that no investigator I've ever taught has had a better chance to accept the Gospel, but its looking like we'll probably drop him when we meet next..

Besides that it was a really killer week! Miracles all over!

Our neighbors came to church this week again!! Our relief society president is super good to them. The hard part is the mom is super Buddhist. She's willing to learn, but its going to take some patience :)

We are meeting with another really cool guy named Ethan. In the first five minutes of our first lesson he brought up that he's always really wanted to attend church services and asked us if he would be allowed to come! haha he was so prepared! because of going on exchanges all the time I had actually met with him a couple of time without Elder Coats. Finally yesterday he got to meet him and we had a great day at church!

We had a cool experience with one of our newer investigators, Louis, the other day. We had taught him the first half of the plan of salvation, but not had the time to talk about what happens after we die. The next time we met with him he immediately brought it up and said "I've been really wanting to know what the rest of this plan is about. I've been thinking about it ever since last time we met.

Our recent convert Chen shi ming has a friend that wants to learn about the church! We're meeting with him tonight! Member work is just the best!

We actually have a really big investigator pool right now. Especially exciting is that a lot of them are really cool young guys! The members (particularly the Bishop) keep getting really excited to see these people at church. If only we could get over that baptism hump! We're working hard on it. A few of those investigators have baptismal goals, but things like anti Mormon keep wrecking us haha. Its a fun cycle.

We were so sad on Jim, but we did learn a good lesson from him! He's been doing all these things so well (reading scriptures, coming to church, praying) despite this, he still hasn't felt an answer! That could be for a number of reasons, but it made us think of a talk by Elder Wilford Anderson called "The Music of The Gospel" He talks about "dance steps" as well as "music" as a analogy to our learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We learn the dance steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts. The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart and is the source of all righteous desires. The dance steps require discipline, but the joy of the dance will be experienced only when we come to hear the music.

I'm glad that I've really been able to feel the Joy of the Gospel here on my mission! Makes everything so much better!

Love you all,
Elder Gilbert

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dragon boats and families

Another great one! This past Tuesday in Taiwan was the Dragon Boat Festival! I don't know a ton about the holiday to be honest, just that they race dragon boats and eat this weird rice triangle things. All I know is school was out on Monday/Tuesday and there were a TON of families to talk with, it was a blast! We also got to go out and watch some of the boat races on P-day! It felt very cultural, but was pretty overrated. 

I have no idea where this week went! We had a couple exchanges as well as a zone conference and stake conference yesterday. I literally blinked and I'm back here in the internet cafe! 

We had a really good meeting with the Zone and President and Sister Teh! We talked a lot about repentance and the doctrinal purpose of missionary work. Something I've learned from President Teh is the value of repetition and review. We seem to go over very similar things every meeting. President told us that his instruction before leaving to the field was that if he wants to teach the missionaries anything he has to do it 7 times in 7 different ways. He also talked about how at General Conference subjects are repeated because we really need to learn the lessons. 

Since we had the Tehs in our area the whole weekend because of zone and stake conference, we had the opportunity to have them join one of our lessons with our investigator Jim! It was quite possibly the coolest experience of my mission! We are really lucky that Jim speaks perfect English (the Tehs don't really speak Chinese). Jim has been struggling to understand why we need a Savior and the importance of Christ. We read some of 2nd Nephi 2 with him and talked about it. President and Sister Teh did such an amazing job testifying of the Savior and how they got their answer from the Book of Mormon. President did a really good job explaining why we need the Atonement. It was such a powerful lesson! Seemed to be perfect for Jim!! 

We also had a really great time last night with a newer family we are working with (I think I talked about them last week) We had a FHE last night with them and our relief society president's family. it was weird, we all live in the same apartment complex! We talked about how we can strengthen our families through prayer and scripture study! The message really seemed to resonate with sister Wang (the investigator mom) she is a single parent (we have SO many of those in our ward) who moved here from mainland China. She really likes the atmosphere at church, We're excited to see what happens with them. 

Juest reviewed President Monson's talk from Preisthood session. Short, but Powerful! 

Let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.

Loving it here! So much good going on! 

Elder Gilbert

Monday, June 5, 2017

Good times

Another great week here! We've had some really hot days, followed my a couple of pouring rain, so now the weather is nice and cool and the air isn't quite as smoggy and polluted as normal :) 

We are working with some awesome people right now, I get so excited to study and teach these people! 

That one guy Jim is really making progress! Some highlights of the week were sharing a talk by Elder Christofferson called "the Divine Gift of Repentance" (It's one of my favorites, Jim is really starting to learn that repentance is a change of heart and hard work). His English is really good, so he volunteered to help us teach our English class! it was so fun, we have a lot of families who attend with some rowdy kids... It was nice to have one other person on our team this time :) 

Speaking of English class we had a really cool miracle thats been developing the last couple of weeks. We live in the same apartment building as this really cool mom and two daughters. We ALWAYS run into them coming or leaving, and gotten to be buddies with them. Im not sure if we had even invited them, but they started attending our English class a couple weeks ago. We started talking with them afterwards about the Gospel. She is Buddhist, but is having a hard time raising her two daughters, and feels like Christianity does a better job of helping families! Her and her youngest daughter both came to church yesterday, and are willing to learn more! We are going to meet with them and our relief society president this week!! (she also lives in our apartment, so they are already friends!!) 

Yesterday we had ward conference.The bishop and the Stake president both got up in the combined third hour and just went crazy with all these charts and maps. They have a goal to split the ward a year from now! The Bishop was just getting so hyped and yelling to get all the members excited as well! haha we love our Bishop but he keeps offending people because He's so passionate! Regardless he's really doing a good job leading the ward, and none of our investigators were too weirded out by any of the stats :) 

Here is a quote from that talk we shared with Jim:

Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life. Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain. Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.

Having a great time here, really trying to enjoy every last minute :) 

Love, Elder Gilbert

Monday, May 22, 2017

He that loseth his life for my sake

Another great week! We have had some awesome learning experiences this week and I love all the stuff that's going on over here in San Min. 

I felt like I especially had some cool experiences in some lessons this week. We met with one of our newer investigators named Jim. Its so interesting to meet with him. I literally feel like I'm hearing some anti-Christ from the Book of Mormon (hopefully it'll turn out like Zeezrom and he actually converts). The difference though is that he's actually willing to try out what we invite him to do. He just has had a pretty rough life and has some doubts bout everything. Recently he's really gotten into General conference talks which is exciting! Anyways in the course of meeting with him its been cool to be able to use the Book of Mormon to resolve concerns. We realized that lessons go WAY better if we just take time to slow down and share scriptures with him instead of try to just answer the questions ourselves. We had a lesson where he asked us if we thought we were brainwashed at all, and brought up a couple negative things he's seen about the church online. Strangely enough, I left that lesson more grateful that I have ever been for the testimony I have. The things we share seem to resonate with him. I feel like Elder Coats and I have also had some really good personal studies preparing for him, some of the best I've ever had! He's really progressed so fast! He still has some doubts, but he says he believes 30 percent now and you can literally see his heart softening. I can't really explain it, super cool!! 

We've been meeting with a Christian man for the last little while named brother Feng. It was really sad over the phone the other day he made it clear to us that he feel he can't change churches... We had already had an appointment set up, so we went over for one last visit. We felt it would be right to just share some scriptures about what Christ said his church would be like and about the apostasy/restoration. We were actually pretty bold with him, but in a really nice way. He said he just feels like his church is just as good, and he's really used to it. It would be really inconvenient to leave. We shared that theres lots of good things in the world, but explained to him that we didn't come here just to share something good. We told him that because we and more importantly God loved him we came here to help him get back to Heaven;y Father's presence. He's going to stop investigating for now, but we feel like we really did our job, and we left with a way better impression that I thought we would after preparing that lesson. Once again I left just so grateful for a testimony of the truth! 

I feel like I'm getting more out of all these experiences than the people we are trying to serve and teach. It made me think of the scripture  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Its super true! I feel like the happiest times of my mission are where I'm just thinking of others. Ironically this is also where I feel like I learn and grow the most! 

love you all,
Elder Gilbert

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017


We went to this Buddhist place last Monday. It gave me mad respect for their religion.  The shrine is one of only 3 in the world that has an original tooth of Buddha! Big time! They have it in this big gold case and you can go up to it and ask Buddha for help! 

It really was a good week! We have some investigators that are progressing nicely. One I talked about the other week is a college student who was referred to us. We shared the plan of salvation with him the other day and he just kept saying thank you and just loved the truths that were taught. That Jim guy I told you about over Skype is awesome! He has met with us 5 days in a row! I honestly have seen his heart change a ton! 

A meaningful scripture this week is:  2nd Corinthians 12:9-10

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

 Love you all!  Also, we won't be emailing until the Tuesday next week so expect to hear from me Monday night your time!! 

Elder Gilbert