Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Taiwan, Taichung Mission

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Sunday in Taiwan

Hello everybody! Happy Easter, it was probably celebrated a lot more over there than it has been here. Not really anyone talks about it, we are going to do an Easter egg hunt for our English class party on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure no one will know what's going on! 

This week has been a better one! I'm so grateful for all the miracles we are seeing and love seeing the blessings of working with a positive attitude. It feels like this area has progressed, and actually we were able to set a few baptismal goals! We have a lady named Wu jiemei and her granddaughter that I'm pretty positive will get baptized in May. I'll almost for sure not still be here, but I would be so happy to see our ward get some new people. Our ward is awesome, just not a ton of people haha. This is most likely my last week here! The time has gone pretty slow to be honest, but it's also to crazy to think I've been here for thanksgiving, Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Easter!

Not a ton of crazy experiences happened this week, we did have the mission president and his wife come to our church and then give a devotional at the end for both the wards that meet there. That was a pretty stressful morning, and it was kind of funny to see president's reaction to seeing a ward that barely hit 30 people in sacrament meeting attendance. I guess some of the ward members went up and tried to tell him that a ton of people were gone that week because of one thing or another. It was a pretty normal week for our ward though. After church we were pretty stressed getting the devotional running smoothly, there wasn't a ton of communication between everyone, plus we had a big ward meal where we were trying to get a few investigators to meet the ward. President sat down with each of us after for a short interview, then by that time it was dinner, so we had a big group dinner. The day kind of flew by and before I knew it, we were home. I was kind of bummed at the end, I felt like I didn't have a ton of time at church or during the day to reflect on the importance of Easter and why we celebrate it. As I laid in bed that night I just took a little time to think about what Christ's atonement means to me. I really feel like my testimony of the Savior has grown a ton in the last few months here. There have been times where I've felt pretty alone, inadequate, and sad. I really think these times have caused me to pray harder, to rely on the power of Christ's Atonement and use it to help me change my nature.  My desire to know Him has increased and I try to get closer to Him every day. I really have felt his love in indescribable ways and I'll cherish some of the experiences I've had here forever! 

I love you guys so much, love hearing about all of the great things going on back there! I'm praying for you and I know you are for me!

Elder Gilbert 葛長老

Also, here are a few of his responses to our questions:  

So jealous you get to watch General conference next week, I'll still have to wait for two weeks! 

Q) How often do you have zone conferences and splits with the zone leaders?
A) We have a zone training meeting once a month and usually go on exchanges once a move call.

Q) How was meeting with your mission president this weekend? (The mission president joined them for Easter Sunday)
A) Blickenstaffs were great! It was cool to be able to have an extra interview with president, we talked about what I've learned here and the challenges of the area. He's a great guy.

Q) What's happening to the size of your mission?  Is it coming down a little after the surge from age change a couple of years ago?
A)We are getting 22 new missionaries on Wednesday! This is the time where we should start to get a lot more. One of the Elders in my 4 man is going to train. 

Q)Tell us if you made any progress getting your sister investigator back on track?
A) She's super awesome! Baptismal goal in May! She actually wants it! It's just hard to get a ton of lessons with her, so that's why it's a little far away! 

Q) For your scripture study, do you read straight through the BOM and Preach my gospel or jump around?

A) I usually read a chapter from Book of Mormon, read something that I feel I need from pmg, then it's just kind of dependent on how I feel. We have one of those teachings of Joseph smith books, that's super good.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Finding happiness

Hey everybody, Elder Gilbert coming to you after a much better week/attitude than last week! Not many crazy or cool things happened, but I'm pretty happy right now and excited for what the future brings.  

Our one investigator, Wu Jiemei is awesome!  She has a really pure heart and actual desire but she's just too dang busy to meet with us more than once a week. She came to church on Sunday and is progressing well. We did have to drop her baptismal goal but hopefully we'll set another one this week. 

Everyday our morning starts out with one hour for personal, companion and language study. I also  have been trying to do a little language before personal study, at lunch, dinner, and again at night. Chinese is progressing but I have a long way to go! This week we went on exchanges with our zone leaders, Elder Lin and Stevens. Elder Stevens was barely with Elder Cole before, and he's super cool! I think it was my favorite exchange and we had a really good time together!

Something pretty funny this week was the ping pong activity we've started up with the two wards in our area. We have been trying to get this activity going for a little while, and we finally had a super successful night last night! We had probably 15 people come, including an LA that lives super far away. Ping Pong is actually such a good way to get people wanting to come to the church and almost everyone loves it (I guess thats kind of because they're all Asian...). It was fun to see ward members have a chance to mingle and a few investigators come for the other elders. We also taught them "sting pong" where everyone plays around the world and then gets to smack the ping pong ball as hard as they can into the loser's back. I nailed the other Elders bishop twice! 

I'm reading in the war chapters in Alma right now. This is usually not the place that I have found the most insight but this time I read a pretty cool talk in the Liahona that changed my perspective a little bit. It talked about how the Book of Mormon was written for our day. Mormon had so many records and under the inspiration of the spirit chose what would be best for us to hear. The article talked about how there are many patterns that can be seen in the war chapters that can help us learn how we are blessed and prosper even in times of trial. That has kind of helped me to focus and draw out more from my scripture study the past few days. What I thought was pretty cool in chapter 50 was where it says "there was never a happier time among the people of Nephi".   How interesting that just after a war and amid a lot of tension with the Lamanites, the Nephites could be so happy!  I couldn't help but wonder if maybe all of those previous trials actually contributed to the happiness the people had at this point. Maybe the hard times made them appreciate the good times even more. I kind of feel like the opposition in life makes all those happy times even better. It was cool to see an example of that in The Book of Mormon. 

Looking forward to the week ahead.  President and Sister Blickenstaff are coming to do a fireside for both of our wards this Sunday and we might go do something with them next p-day. 

Love you all, hope things keep going well at home! Loving it here :)

Elder Gilbert 葛

Sunday, March 13, 2016

16 weeks in Dong Gang

Just finished up my 16th week here in Dong Gang and I'll have at least 3 more! In the next couple of weeks Elder Stoddard will become the companion I've been with the longest (we're getting close to 3 months together).   Good thing I like him and he doesn't snore or anything annoying like that :) haha I love the guy.

The work last week had some tough stretches. It feels like every time something good has happened since I've been here, the next week it just fades. We do have one bright spot of hope in this lady named Wu Jiemei.  She will definitely get baptized and maybe even before Elder Stoddard and I leave! There are good things! 

Daily, we have this constant debate with ourselves on whether or not to go to the biggest part of our area which is Dong Gang. Going there automatically burns 2 hours out of our day because we have to bike but there are so many people in Dong Gang! When we do find people in Dong Gang they never want to come all the way to church because it's so far away so helping investigators to progress is difficult!  On the other hand, finding people by our church is impossible. We have no one in the area by our church/apartment.   We're kind of caught between a rock and a hard place here.  Thats ok, all we really can focus on is to work and pray for some miracles to come! 

I know there is hope ahead! I'm excited to see what will happen in the next few weeks! There are prepared people everywhere!

On a bright note, biking is fine and super easy at this point and Elder Stoddard's awesome.  He is really good at Chinese, which helps me a lot.  I still have a lot to learn!  Elder Stoddard is super willing to work with me during these next few weeks we are together.  

Love you guys,

Elder Gilbert

Our apartment before clean up

After clean-up

Eating dinner last night at the other ward's bishop's house!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Working through it...

Hey everybody! Hope everything is going well back home, can't believe we're already a week into March here! I'm doing pretty great here, excited o tell you guys about the week! 

I'm not going to lie, life's been a little rough here. It's kind of feeling like every person we find to teach doesn't stick, and its really hard to find quality people! We've got a really cool lady that we're working with and there is a less active family that is all of a sudden trying to come back and go through the temple! Both of those were awesome, and we actually had an FHE thing at our bishop's house with all of them last night. It's really nice to take a step back and realize all the great things that are going on! On a side note, I finished writing in my journal today, thats pretty crazy! Times flying here! 

Alright, not a lot of crazy stuff happened this week, but I'll try to share the best I've got. So we are supposed to do about an hour of straight English Class Proselyting as a district weekly. I don;t think I've mentioned before, but I'm the English Leader of our district, which is literally the most looked down upon job! The operations manager at the mission home just gives it to the youngest person, which has happened to e me. So ya, I've been doing that since I've gotten to this area, and its not a whole lot of fun, no one listens to you, and everyone just thinks you're super stupid. Anyways, we have a super cool new missionary that moved in here and is finishing his mission next month, he has a bunch of super cool ideas for how to makes things better, and he gave us a couple of ideas to make English Pros. better. We usually don't do anything that special, but this week we went into the big night market we have here with a big whiteboard and stand, and tries to play English games like hangman with all the people walking around. It started super bad, everyone was looking at us like we were mental, and just avoiding us like I usually avoid crazy people! Literally not a single person talked to us! Then out of no where a huge group of members from the other elders ward showed up! It was kind of like in 17 miracles when the relief party comes to them in the snow! (maybe not to that extent, but you get the idea) It saved us. When they came and started acting like they were interested a million people started to come too. The Taiwanese people are literally sheep, they'll never be the first to try something, but if they see others, they have to do it! Kind of a blessing and a curse for us sometimes... but ya, all of a sudden the flood gates opened and I promise we were the most crowded spot in the night market! So that was something a little cool. Grateful for awesome members. 

little thought: We've been talking a lot about how to be better missionaries and get better results here, and we're really starting to just focus on what we can do, not what we can't do. Our ward got pretty screwed over by the stake leadership because they're obsessed with splitting wards way before they're ready to split, so everyone goes LA. As soon as a ward hits the minimum requirements, it immediate gets split, so now we have a bunch of wards in Taiwan that are basically branches with a bishop.. But, after that little rant, I'm not going to complain about it any more! It doesn't help with anything! I love the quote by Elder Holland where he says that 'No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse." Super true! So ya, I'll leave you guys with that! Love you all so much!


Elder Gilbert