Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kao rou's and wenzi's

Whoo another week is over, can't wait to tell you all about it! It was a crazy week for a few reasons: There's a big mosquito outbreak here, it was a big holiday so we got invited to a bunch of kaorous (barbeques), plus with losing two investigators to baptism we needed to rebuild our base. I had a lot of fun with all the stuff and will try to cover the highlights.

So this weekend it was mid autumn festival, and I guess the thing to do is have these little barbecues every night. Literally every street we passed would have at least one big kaorou party (super good for contacting, because they're in a friendly mood, and they give you a bunch of meat, also a little tough because they were drunk a lot too haha) A ton of ward members had them too, so we've gotten a ton of food the last few days! 

As my language improves, I'm starting to have a lot more fun contacting. (not that it wasn't fun before) I especially like the short one minute street contacts, because they're just short enough for me to usually hold my own. Its so awesome to see how willing people are to listen and how genuinely interested they are. My favorite so far was when we got a truck to pull over to the side of the road and set the man up for a lesson. Me and Elder Pearce had been joking for a little while about contacting the little blue worker trucks. There's like a million of these little mini worker trucks with super rough guys that always drive them. We finally actually went up to one, and asked him if he'd pull over to the side so we could teach him about Jesus. I was never expecting in a million years for him to even listen to us, much less set up for a lesson. He's now a progressing investigator for the Elders in the area next to ours! Super cool to see that the Lord wants everyone to hear his message, and remember that you can't judge on looks. 

Thought of the week: This week I studied the stories and sacrifices of a few people that have really been an attitude booster for me. As I read about the sacrifices that Abinidai, Alma, and the early latter day saints. Abinadai gave up his life, Alma gave up the judgement seat and his old life, and the early saints went through some of the hardest things imaginable. They did all these things because they loved Christ and had true commitment to their faith. The examples I read about in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants really have helped me to become more committed. Several times this week when I've been really tired, my thoughts were directed to these individuals. This has helped me realize that my price to pay is small, and I'm grateful to contribute how I can. I'm so grateful for all of the awesome examples we have in the scriptures of people who's testimonies were so deeply rooted.

Being a missionary is so fun. Taiwan is so crazy, every once and a while it'll just hit me. I don't think there could be many places that are more different! The people, culture, language, and food is so awesome, and I'm glad the Lord is helping me to love it. Its super fun to be white here, all of the people just love talking to you, and its pretty easy to lead it into a gospel discussion. I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I.m having and I'm so glad to hear that you are doing so well! Thanks for all the support and kind words!! The work is so great here! 


Elder Gilbert

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Double Baptism week!!

Wow what a great week!! I can't believe that we had two baptisms. I'll focus on that for my letter, and maybe throw in another cool experience.

Baptism was awesome! It was pretty scary at first, because someone turned off the water, and it wasn't super high. Poor Minting (Alex) had to be baptized three times. It was a super bad combo, because his dad wouldn't practice the baptism before, and then the water was really low. Haha everyone was so confused, but it all worked out eventually and was super cool! It was awesome to hear Zhonglin give his testimony, he was really scared to. I also really enjoyed seeing the ward congratulate the two of them after. It was also very special to see both of them confirmed the following day, and see how excited they were.

Two lessons learned form the baptisms: Both of the baptisms came from part member families. The family members were so encouraging, and helped in ways we as missionaries could never do! I'm so grateful for this. I could really see how families strengthen each other.

I also learned a lot about the power of prayer. The first Saturday I was here, we gave Zhonglin his baptismal goal. He said yes, but was sort of iffy. He didn't come to church the next day, and said he was feeling too much pressure about baptism. That night, we really committed to pray hard for our investigators. Every single prayer, we sincerely asked with faith that they could be blessed and helped. We gave Zhonglin some space for a few days, then met with him again. He was on fire! He was super excited or baptism, and wanted to learn as much as he could. I completely attribute this turn around to our prayers and have really gained a testimony that it really works!

Super special week, I'm glad for all the experiences I have been able to have. The church is so true, and there's so many things he wants to bless us and others with if we'll jut ask. Thanks for all the support, I'm loving it here!!

Much Love,

Elder Gilbert

Zhonglin and his family

Minting and his dad

Two ice cream cones for two baptisms

Mango Bing!!  This is definitely my favorite food.

This picture is for the little girls.  The ward made us some of the golden curry.  I still think moms is better though:)

Shi Tou (All you can eat)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Taiwan is the BEST!

Wow, another week has come and gone, and I'm excited to share some of the great experiences from the week. We have had to work really hard this week in contacting, and I've never been so exhausted in my life. On the other hand, I've never been so satisfied. It is so amazing to wake up every morning and know I have nothing to focus on besides building the Kingdom of God. Being a missionary is so much fun, and its been amazing to see the changes in myself and others. 

The week started off pretty great with the older Elders taking us to a shitou. It was an all you can eat place where you cook your own meat. (Probably one of the greatest moments yet, but also not the cheapest, I don't know how much more we'll do that haha) Have I mentioned how cheap the food is here?? Basically no matter where you go on the street, you'll spend under 100 kuai for a meal. (30 kuai is a dollar). We're super lucky here with food, its both delicious, and we can basically have as much as we want because its really cheap. I tried to take pics of some of the good food I've been able to have here. Although its good, the members sometimes give us really weird stuff (A really old member took us to this place to get eel, which was interesting..) Regardless, I don't know if I've ever loved meals so much, and am eating some of the best food in the world! (It's a good thing we have to bike so much everyday, or I'd probably start gaining a pretty good amount of weight).

This week was kind of a struggle, because we got cancelled on by a ton of potential investigators. We usually meet at the church, and a lot of times, they just don't show up. Thats always frustrating for me, but its cool to see the blessings of diligence when we go out and contact as our backup plan. I really think the Lord has blessed us with extra success because we're willing to go out and work, even when things don't go exactly according to plan. I especially saw this on Sunday, as we were fasting, and absolutely exhausted. We had people set up to meet with after church, but none of them came. It was a super hot day, and both me and Elder Pearce were not exactly enthusiastic to go to the area we wanted to contact at. I was joking with him that maybe the Lord would have more people would talk to us because we were so tired and hungry, and I actually think he did. I swear almost every house we went to/ person we talked to was at least a little interested. We got a bunch of numbers and lessons set up. A way higher percentage of people talked to us than usual. I'm starting to see that success has a lot to do with hard work. It doesn't always mean you'll do well, but I feel like God will help you a lot more when you show faith by going out and working.

We also had our first Zone Training meeting, and it was really fun to see a bunch of the missionaries all together. We focused a lot on how to help get investigators to church, because that coupled with Book of Mormon reading usually brings the most conversion. I've really tried to focus on my own testimony of this. Its cool to be able to have a really strong belief about church attendance and Sabbath Day Observance when inviting others to church. I feel like I actually mean what I'm saying, and believe that it can help the investigators. It's cool we have one investigator named Sister Li. Shes absolutely golden, but can't come to church because of work. We fasted for her yesterday, and she's going to try and talk to her boss about it this week. Its awesome to see someone who knows so little about the church really want to attend, and have so much faith to try. 

Church this week was so much better than two weeks ago. I feel like I finally have the Chinese to understand the general subject of whats going on. Its so much more fun that way, and I love actually being able to talk to the members and get to know them better. Our church is pretty far away from the apartment (I think it takes about 15 if we go super fast, but can be twice that if we hit lights bad or contact super hard. We also have a really big area, so we're doing a lot of biking. Its nice, because we're usually out doing things, so I can't get drowsy. At church its a struggle though, because I'm sitting down for so long. It was kind of funny yesterday when I started nodding off during the sacrament meeting. We were sitting next to this family, and one of the little boys poked me and yelled "Ge Zhanglao, ni bu keyi shuijiao!" (Elder Gilbert, you can't sleep) haha everyone kind of teased me for it, but I'm glad I've got ward members watching out for me :) Our ward is super big for Taiwan, but its getting split in a few months, sop it'll be pretty small then. They really are trying to increase the number of stakes here, so apparently whenever a ward gets to a decent size, they split it. Its a really good thing, because the members have a lot more opportunity to lead and serve. Its inspiring to see all the ward members making so many sacrifices for the faith. On Saturday they all made a temple trip to Taipei. They do this once a month! (4 hour drive) They take so much time out of their busy schedules to worship and build the kingdom. They also help us as missionaries so much in lessons and fellow shipping investigators. I think it really helps me to work my hardest as a missionary to see such commitment from the members here. 

I'm absolutely loving it here, even the hard stuff. Taiwan really is the best, and I know I'm where the Lord wants me to be. I'm having so much fun, and learning so much. I'm so grateful for this chance to improve and build my testimony in order to help others. I miss you all so much, but I know that this is the most important thing I could be doing. Love you guys :)

-Elder Gilbert
Calpis in the Tokyo airport on my way to Taiwan

Kind of cool to see all the missionary bikes lined up by the church at ZTM

Huang mama giving us mangoes

Playing tennis with a less active part member family.  Elder Pearce is so good!

A ward member Ricky taking us to get dumplings.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pictures from the mission blog

A few pictures were added to the mission blog of Elder Gilbert's training as he arrived in Taiwan.  More pictures of the training and other missionaries at http://taiwantaichungmission.blogspot.com

Living the Dream

The first full week of being a missionary has been a memorable/tiring/crazy one full of so many awesome experiences. I'll try to highlight some of my favorites, give a couple good stories, and tell about some investigators. 

We had a good dose this week of both lessons and contacting. I really like lessons, because they're generally done at the church (Which means less biking and being in the heat/rain). I also enjoy them because I feel like its a little easier to feel the spirit during a lesson. Contacting, on the other hand is awesome because I think it demonstrates our faith. I don't know if I've mentioned, but everytime we get to a stoplight, we talk to one or two people on motorcycles. We'll do that whenever we are out on the road, and I love it! I feel like I can actually do it and give a little message without getting too confused. We usually get shut down, but we also get a ton of phone numbers and the occasional lesson. This week we've focused on always improving the person we contact. We know most of the time, they don't care at all for what we have to say, but we still try to help them feel the spirit. No matter how uninterested, we'll try to bear at least a one sentance testimony. We like to think of contacting as laying the seeds for future missionaries, but there is the occasional miracle! Besides that, we like to go in 7-11's (There are literally more of them than people) and act like we're buying something. We'll try to get to know someone and give them a short lesson, which has actually worked a bunch! We'll also go door knocking every once and a while, but its hard because usally only the old people are home. They hate us. Haha they're all the traditional Bhuddists and stuff like that, an when we talk to them they just start yelling at us in taiwanese. Elder Pearce taught me a couple funnly taiwanese phrases to say back to them. If we start out with one of those, they think its hilarious, but we can't really understand them.. 

We have a really solid group of investigators who are really learning and have a ton of faith, I could go on forever about them. I'll just tell you about the two that have plans to be baptized in 2 weeks. The first is Zhonglin. He's in his early 20's and lives with his less active older brother and recent convert mom. We go over to their house a lot to teach the three of them. The mom's crazy, but I love her so much. She just loves to talk and talk and talk, and its so hard to leave the house sometimes.. She's obsessed with fruit and gives us a huge bowl of mangoes, pinapple, dragon fruit, bananas, and other things. She showed us this way cool fruit they have here that mixes up your tastebuds. I don't know what ist called, but when you taste sour things, they become sweet. Thats been a fun new one. Anyways, Zhonglin is so awesome, and is pumped for his baptism! He always comes up to us first thing and tells us what he's just learned from the scriptures or a cool experience he's had. I've only been teaching him for the last 2 weeks, but when Elder Pearce started, the other brother started to reactivate. They're all active now, and improving every day! They also have a goal to go do baptisms at the Taipei Temple in November! Super awesome family, and they always crack me up!

The second is Alex (Minting). He is a 13 year old boy with an recent convert dad, and a nonmember Mom. He's basically been taught everything, and just had his baptisimal interview yesterday. I haven't met his Mom yet, but his dad is awesome. The only bad thing is his name is Yankee and is obsessed with the Yankees. I don't even know if he likes the team, but he loves wearing the gear because it has his english name. The people here give themselves the weirdest english names. We have a buddy named "head" and another named "fourth" for example. A lot of them aren't even words, nobody understands how they choose them, but its nice because I have a difficult time rembering Chinese names. Alex knows a lot about the Gospel, and I think he really loves it. I feel bad for him right now because he has a ton of whats called bushi ban. Its like extra school and every Taiwanese kid does it. I hope my little siblings are listening, because this will make them appreciate America so much more. Alex has normal school from 7-5 and then extra from 6-9 every week day! He also has it ever satuday for a few hours! I can't imagine! Thats been the trouble with a lot of kids, we just talked to one that has it sundays 9-12 2-4 and 6-9. The children work really hard, and school is very important to them. So that's Alex, hes a stud, and we always play basketball at the church with him and a bunch of other kids around his age on Saturdays. 

I think one of my favorite things this week was Stake Conference.  It was so powerful to see so many Taiwanese saints gathered in one building! (I also liked that they showed a lot of videos from the genral authorities which were in English). They had a 70 from Hong Kong there, and he spoke half in mandarin, and half in English with a translator. I really enjoyed his talk about how even being feichonghao (Very good) is not enough. We can always improve no matter our current state. It was fun to be there with our investigators, and bring some of them up to meet our mission president and the general authorities that were there. 

Scripture of the week is 2 Nephi Chapter 4. Here Nephi talks about despite all his sins and shortcomings, he has relied and praised the Lord. It really helped me out, because I've had a lot of ups and downs lately. Its a good reminder that relying and thanking the Lord can always lift us higher. Another thought that I've had was gratitude for family. We taught a family this week, and they all started ripping on each other for a while. We have a few part member families we teach as well. It made me so grateful for the awesome family I have, I keep a picture of all of us with me and show everyone. They always go nuts when they see how many people there are! Even though I miss being home with you so much, I'm glad I can be here to stregthen other familes. 

I've learned so much, and am having an ablosute blast! Its so satisfying to lay down at night absoulutely exhausted, but knowing I'm tired for the right reasons. I love sharing theis Gospel and can't wait to continue! Love you all so so much!

-Elder Gilbert
This picture is dedicated to Paige and John! My little paper has happy birthday on it, hope you like it;)