Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Taiwanese Christmas

Wow, what a crazy and memorable week. So many things to talk about, and definitely the most different Christmas I've ever had! 

On the days leading up to Christmas, not much happened. We've been really trying hard to invite a lot of less active members and investigators to our ward Christmas party. We had a big list of 17 LA's that had some good reactivation potential that we wanted to hit, and on Christmas Eve we finished checking off the last few. A friend in the ward has a print shop, and she helped us make little Christmas cards inviting them.  A bunch of people's houses were in very weird locations in the middle of no where, but we finally ended up getting all of them contacted. 

Then came the big day, it was actually pretty normal and boring for the most part... Number one highlight by far was skyping the family!!! It was so fun to see all you guys, and can't believe its been 6 months since I last saw you! It started off a little crazy, because it was hard to get a hold of you (myldsmail was down, oh man I was raging) but eventually we figured it out. The 45 minutes went by so much faster than they should have, but I loved every moment. I have to say that I think it was harder to say goodbye there than it was at the MTC... I think I now realize just how crazy it is to be away from home for so long. I couldn't really comprehend it back then. No worries, I only have to wait like 5 months this time because mothers day is in May! can't wait! We kind of had a normal day after that, but then a super crazy ward Christmas party after. Elder McDougal and I were super excited to see some of the LA's there, and a bunch of nonmembers came. We met some really cool people that could have some potential! 

The party was so funny, half of it was a big dinner, and then both our ward and the other put on a big play. It was nuts and probably went for an hour and half. It started in the pre existence and covered the nativity, Joseph smith, and the pioneers coming west. Its hard to describe well, but just picture about 50 Asians all acting out the war in heaven, lots of confusing churches during Joseph smiths time, and the trek west. It was seriously one of the funniest things I have ever seen! I couldn't stop laughing, but also they did a good job making it serious and informative when it needed to be for the investigators. I think they may have thought it was a little weird, but also thought it was pretty funny. The best part of the party came at the end, when I got to play the role of Santa Claus! haha it was so funny, and I finally had something useful to do with the extra weight I've put on since getting on island! We had a bunch of little gift bags that I gave out, and I would just belt "HO HO HO" or merry Christmas, or something weird in Chinese. They absolutely ate it up (at least I think they did) The kids thought it was super fun, and now they all call me "Sheng Dan a gong gong" (which is Santa in Chinese) at church. The party went super well and was a really good thing to take my mind off the skype, it kinda made me depressed..

The last thought I'd like to leave you kind of comes from Elder Bednar's talk he gave at the Christmas devotional. Bear with me we watched it in Chinese, so I may not have gotten exactly the right things out of it, but Elder McDougal helped me understand. We watched it last Sunday night. He talked about the Book of Mormon account of Christ's birth and how there was light for a day a night and a day. He spoke on how the coming of Christ brought in a literal sense light to the Nephite nation. I love the illustration of Christ bring light into our lives. I have seen it in various investigators already on my mission, as well as the increase of light in my own life as I try to consecrate it more fully to Him. Christ and His Atonement really can change everyone, and I'm more grateful now then ever for that precious gift. I love you all and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Elder Gilbert

Monday, December 21, 2015

New stake, Caroling for dayz, and Bking like Lance Armstrong

Oh man, another week another letter... Its been a pretty hard week, but a good one. We have a tough area here, and at times it's a little discouraging. That's alright though, so many fun things to be grateful for!

This week was filled with a lot of long bike rides. We have a really big ward Christmas party on the 25th and are trying to invite a bunch of Less Actives with these Christmas Cards we made. Its super hard in the afternoons here because its literally a ghost town. Everyone is just gone... There's a good amount of people out at night, but thats when we have all of our lessons. Its kind of been a dilemma, but we're working through it. Everyone goes and works in the city, or is at work here. The only people that you every really see on the streets are all the old ones that don't even speak Chinese (or at least pretend the can't). I don't know how much I've talked about it, but down here everyone speaks this weird dialect of Chinese called taiyu. It sounds a lot like the Genosians in episode 2 of Star Wars and is super ugly.One time we even had our Gospel Principles class in it, sometimes gets a little painful. The only other thing you really see besides the old people is a bunch of stray dogs that really don't like white people. They bark a ton, but are never brave enough to charge.  Alright, I'll stop complaining, I really am having a good time, just thought you'd like to know about some of the stuff we get a kick out of down here :)

We have this super awesome area called Fangliao that we like to go to, the only problem is its an hour away by bike. Elder McDougal and I sometimes joke about asking President if we can camp out there some nights, because we have a few really cool investigators and LA's that live there. We just found a less active man there that sells stinky tofu. He's been LA for a while and didn't know that the church house had moved to a new area. We are meeting with him next week and he's going to give us a bunch of his tofu, oh boy! 

As you can see from my previous rant, finding is a little hard to do here. We have had to get a little creative at times. Since Christmas is this week, we've been doing a good amount of Christmas Caroling! Its hilarious, and very awkward, but I think has softened some hearts. As Most of you know, I am not exactly a great singer. Not helping is the fact that I'm fairly certain my companion is tone deaf... It didn't sound too good, and a lot of people were not impressed. On the other hand, a few families thought it was sweet, and liked it. We'll keep that up for a little while, because most Taiwanese people have no idea when Christmas actually is. 

Last thing of the week, yesterday they created a new stake out of the two Gaoxiong ones. I am now a part of the Ping Dong stake! We had Elder Wong of the 70 come and do the meeting, I love him because he's funny and uses English! Cool to see the work progressing here in Taiwan! Hopefully we can have another good week and some people will feel the Christmas Spirit we have! 

I love it here, even the hard parts. I'm trying to find the Lord's tender mercies, even when it feel like not many things are going right. Love you guys, and can't wait to talk on Friday :)))) 

Elder Gilbert

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

This week I've actually been getting pretty excited for Christmas with all the fun decorations we have and with the Mission Christmas Party that we had on Friday. (It actually started off super stressful, because the party was scheduled for thursday, but because of rain they changed it to friday. We didn't know that until the day before and had to change our schedule up a ton..) That was super fun and a big highlight for sure. The day started off with us waking up at 4 am to catch a train at 5 so we could ride a bus with our zone to sun moon lake which was another 3 and a half hours away.. (Ya, we're in the middle of nowhere haha) That was a pretty fun morning of travel, and then I got to see all my friends in the mission! We got to just hang out around the area for a while, and then went to a Chi Dao Bao (all you can eat buffet ) We then all rode the buses back to somewhere by Taizhong and had a Christmas devotional. By the time that all got over, it was almost 9. Eventually we got home at about 12:45.. Quite the day! I was so exhausted on Saturday (Especially because we had to do a 3 hour round trip bike ride to visit a member that lived up in the mountains.) Wohoo totally worth it though. That was an awesome day, and one I will remember for a while! 

Although that was a  special Christmas day, I kind of wanted to tell you guys about what Christmas is like in Taiwan. For one, its really weird to have no snow. It still gets to what I think is decently hot (I'm still sweating like crazy outside and wearing short sleeve shirts everyday) But the Taiwanese people think its SO cold! Its pretty funny, a ton of them have on big sweaters and coats on when they're outside and can't possibly fathom how we're walking around in our short sleeves. Sometimes I just don't understand the people here. You don't see much of Chritmas decorations any where, but we have a few random Christan churches around us, and they all decorate pretty well. I alsways get a kick out of this one church, it has a huge santa and reindeer on the front, plus a big Merry X-mas sign. I don't really think they get the point of Chrstmas, and I'm so grateful that I have this oppurtnity to share this message. Everyone knows what Christmas is, but its probably treated how Americans treat Cinco de Mayo. The mission gave us all these little cards we can give out to people about Christmas, and it makes contacting super fun! I've decided its close enough to just start going around yelling Merry Christmas! Even though people shut me down a lot (this little 10 year old kid roasted me in Chinese when I said something about Jesus and Christmas... He just told me Christmas was dumb and used some funny Chinese words, it was super funny and I couldn't stop laughing.) They need this message. Elder McDougal and I are going to do some Christmas Caroling tonight and see how it goes! 

This is such a special time to focus on the savior, and I'm so grateful I have the chance to share His message to people that know almost nothing about Him everyday. I love the Savior and know that he lives. I LOVE Christmas!

Love you guys,

Elder Gilbert
A Christmas tree up in the mountains

All of my companions in one picture at Sun Moon Lake

It was so great to see Elder Cole

It rained for a little and cleared out the air super good. You could see the mountains from pretty far away

Monday, December 7, 2015

Xiao Liuqiu

Alright, its been a crazy p day! This may not be the greatest letter, but I'll make up for it with some supa sweet pictures!

Today we went to this little island about 30 minutes off the coast of Taiwan called Xiao Liuqiu. We got up early this morning and biked all the way to Dong Gang and went off. It was super crazy to be out on the water, and the place we went was so cool! They have a bunch of beaches and we got to go on a hike into these caves. We went exploring on the beach, and it almost felt like I was back in Coronado for a little.. Very pretty


Other highlights of the week... biking was a lot easier, I am getting in real good shape. We have the mission Christmas party at Sun Moon lake next Thursday, that will be awesome! I get to go to two crazy places in Taiwan in back to back weeks! I don't have a ton of crazy stuff, it felt like we were going to have a less busy week, but with all the travel time, it turned out to be pretty busy. In the afternoons we had a good amount of trackting time, and my companion is going to be a geologist and loves rocks. The whole time he gave me a lot of solid information on Taiwanese rocks, quite interesting. Our ward is super into helping us, during priesthood they talked to us for a good chunk about LA's we could help. One that has a car even drove us out to meet with a really cool investigator family in one of our secondaries. It was probably a 30 minute drive out, but he was willing. Its fun to see members in such a small ward so committed. 

Like I said, our ward is pretty small, and lots of funny things happen when its this size. During fast and testimony meeting, this kind of weird member got up and spoke for 15 minutes about a lot of random stupid things, and made up a bunch of inaccurate quotes. He was just going off. Anyways, we have a sister in the ward that is really intense, and she really wanted this guy to sit down. She stood up (remember, our ward has 50 people tops, it kinda just feels like a big class during sacrament meeting) and started talking really loud to us about how this guy should stop talking and she was bored of it. She wasn't saying it directly to him, but saying it loud enough for him to hear. She then started to move on and tell other ward members until he sat down. haha good way to help me stay awake during the meeting :)

Having a blast, love you all!

Elder Gilbert