Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Work hard, Pray hard

If this week could be summed up in one word it would definitely be tired... Don't get me wrong it was great, but for some reason there was a lot of work to be done, and not a lot of energy to do it. You know its bad when you fall asleep in the middle of the morning ab circuit.... Regardless, I am super happy and I had a lot of fun and spiritual experiences.

This whole week kind of had a theme of replenishing our old investigator pool with solid new people ready for baptism. Last week we had a lot of new investigators, and it was really exciting! One of my favorite things that happened was at English class this week. I don't know if I've really mentioned or not, but every Wednesday night we have a free English class. It is not exactly one of my favorite things, mostly because I've started to realize that my English isn't actually that good (You've probably noticed from these letters).
I always feel so self conscious when the people come up to me and ask me some really weird/complicated grammar question that I don't really know how to answer right. (There's a bunch that have basically perfect English that just come to practice using it). SO anyways, I've never had a crazy good attitude about it, but its kind of changed the past couple of weeks with a super cool investigator that started to come. His name is Kyle and last week we set him on a baptismal goal. Then this week he brought his twin brother/roommate and he also set a date! Super awesome, I'm getting a much better attitude towards class, and love seeing how this cool opportunity for service can bring others to Christ!

It was super funny, this week we ran into an investigator that we dropped a month ago. He went off to college, and when he came back he was pretty rude to us and told us not to talk to him any more. He's buddies with a guy in our ward and they both came to help clean the church this week. We happened to be there too, and went up and talked to him like we were still old buddies. We were super nice and friendly with him, and he didn't know how to respond at all. I hope that us being nice to him maybe will one day help him meet with missionaries again. 

As I mentioned, both me and Elder Pearce were super tired this week. We don't really know why, it was just kind of one of those weeks. It was a really good opportunity to be able to rely on the Lord and have a lot of faith that He'll strengthen us. Its kind of like the scripture in Ether 12:27, when we are week, we are drawn to the Lord. I feel that He's given us a lot of miracles, and I'm getting better at recognizing his hand in my life.

I did want to mention that this week I ate stinky tofu! I've been so scared to try it, but finally did it! It honestly smells worse then anything. Hard to describe, its kind of like a sewer, but worse. We got some fried kind, and it wasn't too bad. I just loaded it up with all these spicy sauces and actually enjoyed it! I think maybe that means I'm assimilating myself into the culture? I was hoping that eating it would make my Chinese better, but sadly I still mostly ting bu dong (listen, but don't understand)... I'm slowly getting used to the culture/weird food/weird mannerisms, but the Taiwanese never cease to amaze. But yes, that was one of my proudest accomplishments of the week. 

Alright, thats about it... Thanks for everything, I hope that my letters can give some help or advice. I'm grateful for all the advice I'm getting from others. Love you all so much :))


Elder Ge Zhang Lao

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The temperature's cooling down, the Work's heating upppp

By far my favorite week! I feel like I say that a lot, but still I think I can definitely say that. We had a crazy amount of super cool  experiences. It was also a super fun birthday week, and with seeing ward members at different times, it felt like the entire week was my birthday! 

Going into this week, we kinda were bummed out, because a bunch of investigators had to be dropped, but the exciting thing was that we had a ton of time to find. Street contacting is probably my favorite thing to do by far. Its just a nice 2-3 minute conversation usually, not a lot of room for me to get too lost in the Chinese. There's just so much potential on the roads, because the city is so packed with people! Basically all of Wednesday and Thursday was spent contacting, and those two days were probably as different as possible. Wednesday consisted of basically constant rejection. I don't know why, but I don't think I talked to more than 5 people that were willing to even hear what I had to say. We were so exhausted after. Probably the best way I can show how different they were is by this new system that Elder Pearce and I came up with. We made up this contacting points scoring system to be able to track how successful our day was. Its pretty simple, a small thing, like getting a phone number is worth one point, and something like setting up an actual time to meet or come to church is worth more. Kind of weird, but it makes the contacting more trackable and fun for us haha. So after a full day of contacting Wednesday, basically doing nothing else, we had 6 points. Super, super bad!  It was like 1 point an hour. Thursday came around, and the schedule was basically the same, one lesson and the rest contacting. We decided that we needed to mix something up to make it more successful. We made half hour goals for how many points we wanted, and decided we would have a prayer at every 30 min block and check our progress. Based on how the day before went, I think we made a goal for 17 points total. Then all of a sudden the roads were on fire. You know in Mario when you get one of those stars and you're invincible for a little while? That's kind of what the entire day felt like. It was nuts! We ended up with 54 points. So many interested people were willing to talk, and meet with us. Seriously the craziest day, I had such a fun time doing it too. I think what made it especially awesome was that the day before was so bad. I think that kind of relates to all the trials we get. A huge blessing that comes from them is that the good times become even better. 

Because of all the crazy contacting, we had a super awesome weekend where we were lucky to get a ton of lessons and new investigators. I think this week was probably one of the most successful we've had.  

It was so fun last week to get so many nice messages, and so awesome to wake up Wednesday morning with a super fun birthday and Halloween package! I felt so loved, and we tried to make the apartment look pretty fun with all the decorations haha. The members and missionaries here were so nice to me and we had so much fun. That night was English class, and there was a little mini party at the end where some members got a cheesecake form Costco for me! It was so awesome and I felt so much love! The fun just kept going all week, and somehow on Sunday, it seemed like the whole ward knew! I got a million little notes from the primary kids, and everyone was telling me happy birthday. That night, the Stake President and his family had us and a few other families over for dinner. They had another cake and were all super nice to me! Our ward is so awesome, and the Taiwanese people are so nice! I'd probably have to say it was the best Birthday, and I wouldn't have wanted to spend it anywhere else :) 

Can't wait to build on the momentum from this week, and keep the fire going! 

Love you all so much,
Elder Gilbert
Ward members took us tout for a big lunch at Costco.  It's probably my favorite place to eat!!

Birthday cheesecake

Birthday decorations :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

1st move call: check

One transfer down! Wow this is flying by, I can't believe how much I've learned and how much fun I've had. It was a super good close out week and very busy. We got two new Elders in our apartment, and its been a whirlwind to get it ready for them! 

The week started off pretty awesome when we went to a chi dao bao (Eat till full) with all you can eat hagen daaz (?) ice cream. That was a definite highlight :) This week was crazy because we had some sort of big meeting or event every single day. It was a hard week for missionary work, but I still feel like we helped a lot of people and had some really good experiences. On Tuesday, we had our ZTM, which took up a big chunk of the day. Still very fun though, and I feel like I improved my missionary work. 

I think one of my favorite things of the week was being able to go down to Gaoxiong for a trainer follow up meeting. I got to see a bunch of my MTC friends that I hadn't seen in 6 weeks, we had a fun couple hours together. Although it was a great day, it was also very busy as we had to do a lot of traveling.. Loved it! Thursday was super crazy, because we found out that we were getting two new Elders in our Apartment that would be white washing into our ward. We had to do a bunch of stuff to get their beds and rooms ready. Friday we had this crazy stake Olympics thing. The whole stake gathered at this field and there was a bunch of super funny competitions. The Taiwanese people are so funny! They were super intense with all these really silly games, it was such a crack up to watch, but I feel like my description couldn't really do it justice. Just picture maybe 100 asians racing/playing capture the flag/dancing. I've never really seen anything like it, and I had so much fun! 

Saturday and Sunday were so amazing. General Conference provided much needed inspiration, and I had such a wonderful time watching it. I really feel like I prepared well with questions. There seemed to be a strong theme of personal improvement, which is so good to have as a missionary. I think that my favorite talk was President Eyring's where he talked about his dad receiving spiritual promptings. Saturday morning almost felt like Christmas, I was so excited. (haha I don't think I would have thought of that before the mission) It was so fun to see all the members come and gather together, and we had big lunch parties in between the sessions.. I am excited to restudy the talks and try to receive more inspiration for me and my investigators. The most impressive thing from the weekend may be that I only fell asleep once the entire time (I don't think I could really make it thorough an entire session previously).

The two new Elders we got in our apartment were Elder Booth and Elder Bradford. Super fun, Elder Bradford was in the MTC with me, and he just got on Island. His trainer is from Australia, and has a super sweet accent. Its going to be super fun to be in the same apartment as them the next few months! Our ward is going to explode now! I'm excited to see the boost they'll give to us. Its pretty tough for them though, because they are in training, and are whitewashing. This means they'll start with no investigators, basically from scratch. We've been helping them get oriented the last few days, and it'll be fun to see them progress. 

Thanks for all the support, I feel particularly grateful for all the birthday emails I'm getting! I'm going to have a super hard time responding to all of them this week! I feel so much love, and have so many great people in my life :)


Elder Gilbert

All you can eat Haagen Daaz ice cream!

A cool little view in Elders Moody's area when I was on splits with him this week.

BYUI pictures for Grandma Gilbert

End of the move call!  this is our district and each chair represents the number of transfers finished.

Answers to a few questions:

1) We're kind of hitting a little bit of a slump with investigators, but that's ok, because it'll get our dilligence up! The one 14 year old is golden, named william. He has a date in Nov, and he seems like a lock. the rest are kind of up in the air. We have a goal for two baptisms this move call, and i think we'll be able to get it.

2)Elder Pearce is awesome! He's super funny, and we have a really good time together. Also, I don't know if I mentioned, but Elder Trotter is in my zone and I saw him a bunch last week! He's doing super good

3) Chinese is good, but frustrating! A few weeks ago me and Elder Pearce started waking up 30 minutes early, and if we get ready quick, have an hour of language study in the morning before personal even starts. I feel improvement, but its always a roller coaster. Its definitely getting better way faster than it did in the MTC. Which is weird, because it was so much more of a focus there.

4) President has a rule that we study PMG and the Book of Mormon every day, I love it. This week I really tried to prepare for conference by pondering what questions I wanted to ask as well as reading old talks. Conference was the best! I had such a good time! 

Wow! Did you tell everyone about my birthday? I have SO many emails! Thanks so much for everything, let me know if there are any onther questions!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

1st Typhoon

Helloo from Tainan! I am loving it so much here, and am excited to reflect back on the week. 

The week started off with a bang (or should I say a typhoon) on Monday. I think it was a lot worse in other places, but we still had some pretty good wind and rain. It wasn't crazy, but bad enough that we couldn't ride back to our apartment Monday night. We had to stay at the other elders apartment right next to the church. It was also fun to go see the HUGE crocodile. There's this really sketchy zoo in our areas that has the most massive Crocodile. A ward member named Ricky took us, and it was crazy! There are no rules here, and they just let us go in the cage with it. Something like this would never be a thing in America. Awesome P day to say the least.

The rain/typhoon kind of passed over the next few days, and then the heat came. I swear that the storm made the island heat up, and we've had what I think have been the hottest days so far. So basically this has been the wettest week, either with rain or sweat (haha not sure which one's better) 

Ok, I've got two favorite moments from the week. The first was a lesson we had with one of our investigators Gemma. Shes this nice Filipino lady that we started meeting with about two weeks ago. When we met with her on Saturday, she told us that her family in the Philippines said she can't meet with us anymore. We didn't really know how to respond, so after talking about it for a little, we decided to read with her in the Book of Mormon. She had read to 1 Nephi 4, so we read that chapter with her. At the end we asked her what she liked, and she read a verse at the end that talked about the Lord providing a way to keep His commandments. Afterwards she said "I love my family, but I love God more" then told us we could keep meeting with her and she'd try to follow God's commandments! Super awesome lesson, and I really believe that the scriptures can answer questions. I'm so grateful for the Book of Mormon! 

We also had a really awesome day at church, because a few investigators came to church that we've really been working with.  We have one that has had work every Sunday and finally got it off! I think my favorite part though was picking up two 14 year old kids (one LA and one nonmember) and riding our bikes with them to church! It made me so happy to see them so happy on the way to and at church. 

It sounded like General Conference was awesome. I am SO excited to watch it this week! (We watch it a week late) Since we have so many hours, we're really pushing to get investigators to come to any of the sessions. I know that the words of the Prophet and Apostles could really help them and are really going to help me. I can't wait to here all the messages. I hope that you guys enjoyed it as much as I'm looking forward to it :) I love you all and hope that you are doing good! Thanks for all the encouraging words and thoughts.

Much Love,

Elder Gilbert